Former St. Louis Pastor and Community Activist Dies at 50

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

October 10, 2008

Former St. Louis pastor and community activist Sylvester Laudermill died Thursday in Los Angeles, his church confirmed. He was 50.

Church leaders declined to specify the cause of death.

From 1994 to 2004, Laudermill was pastor of St. Peter American Methodist Episcopal Church at Margaretta and Shreve avenues in St. Louis.

He also led numerous St. Louis clergy-activist groups, including Congregations Allied for Community Improvement, Clergy and Citizens United for Safety and Justice, and Metropolitan Congregations United. He was vice president of the St. Louis Clergy Coalition.

During his decade in St. Louis, Laudermill pushed for a vocational education high school in the city, land-use legislation designed to stop urban sprawl and more spending on highway improvements in north St. Louis County.

In 2004, he was transferred to Ward AME Church in Los Angeles, the second-largest AME congregation in the city, but was forced to step down in 2006 after accusations in both St. Louis and Los Angeles that he had sexually abused minors.

Laudermill was investigated by civil authorities in both cities, but criminal charges were never filed. A civil trial against him and the AME Church in the California case was scheduled to begin later this month. In the St. Louis case, Laudermill's alleged victim agreed to a settlement with St. Peter's.

Two internal church investigations of the allegations in 2006 found that Laudermill committed "child sexual abuse" here and in Los Angeles, and he was defrocked. The pastor successfully appealed some of the church sanctions, but his status within the church at the time of his death was unclear.


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