Leafleting Focuses on Former United Church of Christ, Methodist Minister

By Tom Heinen
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

July 22 2008

Members of a victims' advocacy group distributed fliers over the weekend at First United Methodist Church of Waukesha to call attention to the fact that a minister who served as the church's pastor in the mid-1980s was convicted and sentenced last week for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old boy in 1987 while pastor of First United Methodist Church of Rice Lake. He has not been accused in Waukesha.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests wanted to point out, among other things, that child sexual crimes are "not just a Catholic problem" as the group continues to seek support for a Wisconsin Assembly bill that would require all religious denominations to provide the identities and case summaries of clergy, lay teachers, and employees who had sexually assaulted children but were not reported to the police.

The minister, Angel R. Toro, is noteworthy for another reason. After leaving Wisconsin in about 1989, he was granted ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ in 1997 and rose to national leadership positions in that denomination while serving as pastor of Chapel on the Hill in Seminole, near St. Petersburg, Fla. Acclaimed for increasing attendance there from about 30 people to 500 people, Toro served on the denomination's 90-member executive council, was on the team that implemented the "God is still speaking" national identity campaign in 2004 and is a past president of the Local Church Ministries Board, one of the denomination's four national ministry boards.

Toro was placed on a leave of absence from the Florida church in late January of 2007 and resigned both his ministerial standing in the denomination and his position of pastor at the church in March of that year.

After pleading guilty to four counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, Toro, 57, was sentenced last week to two nine-month jail sentences for two of the counts and two three-year probation terms for the others.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.