United Church of Christ Moves to Suspend Minister

By Patricia Rice
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
March 12, 2003

The Rev. Robert J. Yim is no longer authorized to act as a minister of the United Church of Christ.

His ministry has been suspended pending an investigation into his behavior, said the Rev. Gayle Engel, conference minister of the Missouri Mid-South Conference of the United Church of Christ, on Tuesday.

Leaders suspended Yim during a teleconference meeting on Feb. 27, eight days after a man filed a civil suit charging that Yim had sodomized him. At the time, the man, who called himself John Doe, was a minor.

On Monday, Timothy Snyder of the St. Louis area and a third man, who also used the name John Doe, filed a joint suit against Yim accusing him of sodomizing them when they were minors. All three men have accused Yim of sexual misconduct during the 21 years he was a St. Louis Archdiocese Catholic priest.

Engel is the highest ranking official of the UCC denomination's local geographical district, one of 39 districts nationally. The conference covers 60 UCC churches. In the immediate metro area there are 63,800 UCC members. Supervision of the conference's 250 ministers falls to the conference's 12-member Church and Ministry Committee.

In 1990, the late Archbishop John L. May removed Yim from day-to-day, parish ministry and assigned him to Barnes Hospital as a chaplain for cardiac patients. Yim left the priesthood in 1995, but continued as a Barnes chaplain.

In the late 1990s, he joined the United Church of Christ as a member of the First Congregational United Church of Christ of Webster Groves. In 2000, after at least one year as a member of the Webster church, his application to serve as a minister in the United Church of Christ denomination was accepted by the UCC Church and Ministry Committee. The committee interviewed him, and Yim's references and academic background were reviewed, Engel said. No additional studies, internship or ceremonial rites were required of Yim.

"We don't reordain ministers of other denominations," Engel said. "He was very charismatic, very able."

In 2000, the UCC became his chaplaincy sponsors, Engel said. Yim left Barnes-Jewish Hospital in March 2002 after 11 years there, according to Barnes records. Engel said Yim had not held any ministry position since leaving Barnes.

"We have initiated an investigation, and that process is unfolding," Engel said.

Members of the investigating committee have talked to Yim via teleconference and expect to have a face-to-face meeting, Engel said. He declined to say where Yim is now living.


Correction published Saturday, March 15, 2003 - The Rev. Robert Yim is a nonresidential member of the Evangelical United Church of Christ Church, 204 East Lockwood Ave nue in Webster Groves. The name of the church was incorrect in a story in the Metro section Wednesday.


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