UPDATE: The rebaptism has been canceled. Less than a year after he was disfellowshipped, and lost his Michigan Conference ministerial credentials, the Ann Arbor Seventh-day Adventist Church plans to rebaptise Samuel Koranteng-Pipim. The proposed June 9 afternoon service was announced through a bulletin insert that asks for prayer “that with his baptism. . .Dr. Pipim will be faithful in his new line of ministry.”
As long as they follow the Church Manual, local churches have ultimate authority in who they baptise and rebaptise. But there is a policy to be followed. The current Church Manual states:
Because removal from church membership is the most serious form of discipline, the period of time before such an individual may be reinstated should be sufficient to demonstrate that the issues which led to removal from membership have been resolved beyond reasonable doubt. (67)
Many Adventists have doubts, including a vocal number of conservatives, some former friends of Pipim’s, who have been privately and publicly trying to counsel him to own up to the predatory and rapacious nature of his multiple sexual encounters with a young woman in Botswana.
But Pipim is focused on the goal of rebaptism and his new “Wounded Eagle” self-publishing work and his new advising EAGLE ministry. (This great bird of prey is a repeated self-descriptive metaphor employed by Pipim.) In a lenghty presentation to the Ann Arbor Church Board, Pipim writes [capitalization his]:
I title my presentation “An Answer To Everyone: A Response to False Accusations.” It is based on1 Peter 3:15, 16 [“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give AN ANSWER TO EVERY MAN that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that FALSELY ACCUSE YOU your good conversation in Christ”].
Throughout the 21,876 word document, Pipim quotes his own writings heavily, and adds: “I have watched with dismay as hasty decisions have been made in certain quarters to either withdraw from circulation my published works—both books and audio and video resources—materials that had proved to be edifying to believers and unbelievers prior to my spiritual failure. It’s like throwing away the messages of Elijah. . . .”
Once evidence came to light about five months after his sexual encounter with the young woman, Pipim has always admited “a moral fall—a sexual encounter.” He has apologized to everyone effected. But he refuses to go further. In the document presented to his local church Board he writes, “the accusation by this individual and my other accusers that my moral fall was a criminal act cannot be sustained by facts. At the appropriate forum, this slanderous and libelous accusation will be forthrightly addressed.”
But not in that board meeting, nor anywhere else appropriate over the past year has Pipim publicly provided evidence that contradicts the testimony of the young woman in Botswana. Her story has been told multiple times through several different Adventist women connected to church institutions. The following excerpt was provided to the Ann Arbor church by Lynda Gill du Preez, a concerned pastor’s/administrator’s/professor’s wife in the Michigan Conference.
On January 22, after Dr. Pipim ended his Bible Lecture Series on Saturday night, Dr. Pipim asked the young lady to come back to his hotel, accompanied by the Chaplain, to pick up the CD of Dr. Pipim, which he said he wanted her to have. The Chaplain felt that this request seemed rather strange since Dr. Pipim had himself asked to have a meeting the next morning (Sunday) with conference officers and all the organizers (including this young lady) – when Dr. Pipim could have easily given her the CD in person. Nevertheless, trusting the well-known speaker, the Chaplain drove Dr. Pipim and the young lady to the hotel – only to pick up the CD, and not for counseling. [The Chaplain confirms that he took this young girl to Dr. Pipim’s hotel only to pick up the CD, and not for counseling].
Fully expecting that Dr. Pipim would give the CD to the young lady, and then immediately send her back to campus with the taxi (which was at Dr. Pipim’s constant disposal) the Chaplain left them and went to drop off another student at home. So Dr. Pipim took this young lady to his hotel suite, where she expected to pick up the CD, and then go home by taxi. However, once there, Dr. Pipim began to engage in some disturbing actions: He delayed giving her the CD, and asked her if she wanted to take a shower. After she refused, he then took a shower. Then, postponing giving her that CD even longer, he told her to rest in his bedroom while he packed his bags for the trip home the following afternoon. Totally exhausted from the meetings and then a long Sabbath, she fell asleep fully clothed, still patiently waiting for that CD.
On January 23, startled, she awoke to find Dr. Pipim touching her inappropriately. He ignored her pleas to stop, and emotionally and psychologically overpowering her, he forced himself on her sexually (intercourse), which was against her wishes. She asked him if it wasn’t a sin against God and against his wife. But it had no effect. She lay there with tear-stained face, in shock for hours, and then drifted off to sleep – only to be awoken early and again Dr. Pipim forced himself on her sexually (intercourse), which again was against her wishes.
Before Dr. Pipim had her leave his hotel room, he gave her some of his books and CDs – including the CD which she had gone to pick up in the first place. Then he handed her a US$100 bill, which made her feel like a prostitute. And then, before daylight, he sent her away before people would notice her leaving the hotel.
She states that this information “is only a brief summary of what I learned recently (in April 2012) while I was in Botswana, Africa, after spending hours listening to and talking with church leaders and others involved with this tragic situation – including the Church Elder who assisted; the fourth passenger in the vehicle with the Chaplain, Dr. Pipim and this student, and with the 20-year-old girl with whom Dr. Pipim had immoral sexual relations, twice. I, as well as some of these leaders, also listened to the phone recordings which the young girl made when Dr. Pipim called her – clearly, this young girl was not in agreement with what Dr. Pipim did to her.”
Additionally, a professional Biblical counselor who recently spoke at a Generation of Youth for Christ (GYC) conference on the topic of sexual addiction and abuse wrote Pipim a letter that apparently became public via him. Before any of this news broke, she was contacted by the young woman out of the blue seeking seeking help for her serious depression, dissociative disorder, and massive guilt. The counselor asks Pipim: “In fact it seems that you have convinced yourself that she actually wanted you to have sex with her! This was not the case. Can you actually say that you did not see the tears flowing down her cheeks, and did not hear her protests and her asking you if God allowed you to do this?”
But Pipim has always avoided publicly providing evidence regarding the nature of the encounter, stating that his silence is to protect the young woman or that he will confront his accusers at a later time. He often frames the sexual sin in terms of adultery—the Ann Arbor Church and the Michigan Conference administrative committee have echoed this language and sought to process this within that framework. But to the individuals closest to the young woman see evidence of actions much more manipulative and predatory.
Rejecting this, Pipim has stated: “In responding to all the rumors, falsehoods, slander, libel, and outright malice—whether from ‘friends’ or ‘enemies,’ I have been guided by certain principles. These principles have restrained me from saying what I could or could not say in self-defense. In one weekly thought nugget, I described such a voluntary self-restraint as ‘Majestic Silence’:”
Without irony in a twenty-one thousand word document, Pipim quotes himself on his principle of majestic silence.
THE MAJESTY OF SILENCE: “Silence at the right time is the most effective speech. The majesty of silence is revealed by a calm, dignified restraint in the face of accusations, injustice, betrayal, and hurt. Being thus silent does not mean one is speechless, sullen, or dumb. Rather, this voluntary surrender of our right to speak is occasioned by a higher cause. It permits God to be our voice, while allowing our accusers to reveal their true character. Like our Lord Jesus Christ at His trials, we don’t need to defend ourselves when we’re secured in God’s will and His plans for our lives.”–-SKP
If one were to actually apply this principle, the majesty lies with Pipim’s much more silent partner, as Pipim’s prolixity, perhaps unwittingly, reveals.
Danny Velez, pastor of the Ann Arbor Church has seen his congregation suffer along with Pipim his former parishioner. The minister and Pipim have been meeting regularly over the past year, along with an honorary elder in the church who happens to be Pipim’s former dissertation supervisor at the seminary.
Based on two emails from the young woman, the pastor does not feel that Pipim raped her. Asked if he actually asked her that directly, he said no. The pastor, as have others wonders why the young woman didn’t resist more, why she stayed in the hotel, and why she remained in contact with Pipim.
Another women involved in counseling the young woman writes:
As a volunteer for The Hope of Survivors, a ministry dedicated to prevention of clergy sexual misconduct, and a private practice, licensed professional counselor, I took it upon myself to correspond with the young woman with whom Samuel Pipim had a “moral failure” which led to his resignation. It is our belief that Dr. Pipim is not presenting this event in an accurate light. We have worked with [her] to develop this statement, which we believe reveals that Dr. Pipim actually violated this young woman, taking advantage of both his position of authority and her vulnerability.
[X] suffered significant childhood trauma. Her mother died when she was eight. From that point she lived with a negligent and emotionally absent father and an emotionally and physically abusive stepmother. [Spectrum has removed a few personal details in order to better protect the fragile emotional health of the young woman as this article circulates around the world.] Amazingly, she found her way to faith anyway, and was baptized in 2010.
The statement includes the following bullet points:
- A traumatized, sexually wounded 21-year-old female sought out a 54-year-old Adventist minister for help with unresolved guilt and post-traumatic stress syndrome symptoms.
- This young woman was lured into this Adventist minister’s hotel room for counsel, where he made sexual advances and became noticeably aroused.
- The next day the same Adventist minister, using his “fatherly” concern and “spiritual” authority, conned this young woman into returning to the hotel room where she would again be trapped with him.
- During that time in the hotel room, this Adventist minister sexually violated this weeping, protesting (albeit weakly) young woman, who was emotionally paralyzed and psychologically overpowered by him.
- The next morning this Adventist minister woke her before dawn and violated her again.
- He then gave her several of his spiritual books and one hundred dollars.
- This Adventist minister continued a distance relationship with this young woman, claiming fatherly affection for her for several months. He offered to pay her expenses to come to the US, which she declined because of the abuse.
Much of this is old news to the pastor of the Ann Arbor Church. He has heard some clearly false accusations and so is skeptical. He feels like people are looking at the “same data yet coming to different conclusions.” He stated regarding his brief email correspondance with the young woman: “I don’t even know if this is the girl anymore.” He’s still waiting for her to reply to his last email in which he tries to get some more clarification from her. But he will proceed with the rebaptism this Sabbath. Asked if he feels that the “issues which led to removal from membership have been resolved beyond reasonable doubt.” He answered: “I do.”
But beyond the he said/she said miasma of rape, there are clearer and deeper atmosphere of motivation that have so many Adventists troubled. They have dined with Pipim, written him, prayed with him, and supported his many ministry successes through the years. But now they are worried that Pipim is rushing the healing process—dismissing the extreme charges—while failing to deal with the core issues. They see someone who did not suddenly slip into a moment of sin, but premeditatedly created questions in the mind of his victim as to his motives. He states in a call with the young woman that strong faith will keep this from happening again. But they want evidence.
They see someone new to a faith, raised without a father figure, confronted by a very famous older man—more powerful than her mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This man offers her intimacy before their night together and then continued long distance intimacy for months afterward. “Vulnerability turns him on,” someone who knows him well stated. He could take advantage of this one because she approached him so broken—perhaps he thought he could get away with it. And he would have if not for some of the very people who are now raising questions about the process for his rebaptism. Although Pipim has no problem admiting that his sexual activity was sinful, its actually these deeper issues of predation and manipulation that remain unaddressed in his public statements. There are plenty of verses from the Bible and Ellen White quotes. There is a lot of language about sin, and about gossiping and plenty of complaints about church members not following Matthew 18. (Significantly Pipim never responded to Spectrum‘s attempt to reach out directly to him.) In wading through the documents, recordings, interviews, some facts actually do exist. Those who have talked to Pipim and not with the young woman, tend to believe him. The few who have spoken to Pipim and the young woman have reasonable doubts that the period of time has been sufficient to demonstrate that the issues which led to removal from membership have been resolved.
But all the way from Botswana there is someone who has had an even more intimate view of Pipim. On May 22, in an email reply to the pastor of the Ann Arbor church, she reasoned:
“Moreover, i have already been defiled so any action taken against his baptism won’t help me, but for the next girl, maybe my sister, your daughter, wife – whoever. Will they be safe with his come back [sic]?”