A popular Manhattan church has terminated the services of its first female senior pastor after complaints she took fellow ministers on a sex toy shopping spree and bought one of them an unwanted vibrator, Fox news reported.
Rev. Amy Butler, popularly called “Pastor Amy”, a respected pastor at Riverside Church, who was hired in 2014, had a formal harassment claim filed against her in May in a shocking fall from grace for a congregation known for its inter-denominational liberalism and progressive beliefs on LGBTQ, immigration, and environmental issues, according to the New York Post.
The Pastor’s supporters however, maintain that she was let go only because she spoke up against harassment and sexism in the church.
Pastor Amy, 49, allegedly took a member of her Church and two fellow preachers into a Minneapolis sex shop called the Smitten Kitten, while they were there for a religious conference.
While at the sex toy shop, Pastor Amy allegedly bought a $200 bunny-shaped vibrator called a Beaded Rabbit for one minister — a single mom of two who was celebrating her 40th birthday. She also offered to buy a toy for the second minister — a gay man in a committed relationship. The man reportedly declined and repeatedly told her he felt uncomfortable.
Sources said the minister didn’t want the sex toy, but accepted it because she was scared not to and feared professional retaliation.
The Church’s lawyer confirmed the incident days after the harassment claims were filed, according to sources.
According to the terms of contract, Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, who earns $250,000 a year, will leave the Church with 12 months’ salary, a six-month housing allowance worth $48,000 and annual retirement contributions of $59,000 for three years.
New York Post reported that an email sent by the chair of the church council says that Pastor Amy will also get a $100,000 “separation payment”– which would increase her total payment to $594,530, when including her unused vacation payout and the $10,000 tab for her lawyer’s fees.
Interim Senior Minister Michael Livingston, who is the pastor’s successor, broke the news of her departure during sermon at a Sunday worship service on July 7, according to Fox News.
“Rev. Dr. Amy Butler and the Riverside Church Council are announcing that after five years of leadership, Pastor Amy will not be renewing her contract as senior minister,” Marilyn Mitchel, chair of the Church Council, wrote in the announcement posted on Riverside’s website.
“The Council thanks Pastor Amy for her leadership and asks all congregants to pray for her continued ministry as a leader in the progressive Christian world,” the interim pastor added