Church leader, 32, sacked after having affair with married woman, bullying his girlfriend and fondling himself in front of female colleague offers banjo lessons to pay his bills
- Reverend Dr Elijah Wade Smith was fired from the Kirk in Glasgow in 2019
- His behaviour was described as ‘contrary to the Word of God’ by officials
- Dr Smith is fundraising £3,000 after Home Office fees drained his savings
A church leader who was fired after having an affair with a married woman, bullying his girlfriend and fondling himself in front of colleague is now offering banjo lessons to pay his bills.
Reverend Dr Elijah Wade Smith, originally from California, was emotionally abusive to his girlfriend and humiliated her in public as well as cheating on her with a teenager, while working in Glasgow.
He was sacked by the Kirk in 2019, aged 32, after his shocking behaviour was described as ‘contrary to the Word of God’ by church officials who also said he ‘abused your duty of trust’, and ‘failed to maintain a proper line between your pastoral duties and your friendship’.
Dr Smith came from California 11 years ago to join the church and was ordained as minister of Queen’s Park Govanhill Parish Church, in Glasgow’s south side, in January 2015 and was the Kirk’s second youngest minister.
Reverend Dr Elijah Wade Smith (pictured), originally from California, was emotionally abusive to his girlfriend and humiliated her in public as well as cheating on her with a teenager, while working in Glasgow
The Church of Scotland set up a commission to review his behaviour following allegations of misconduct against ‘several women’ and 11 charges between 2015 and 2018.
He ‘fondled himself’ while playing guitar to a woman and concerns were raised that ‘lewd behaviour’ continued even after a disciplinary process began, according to a Presbyterial Commission report.
Now Dr Smith is fundraising £3,000 after Home Office fees drained his savings – offering to tutor donors in knitting, playing the banjo or guitar, or lessons in Adobe Creative Suite.
He also offered to write a song for people who help his cause.
He added: ‘Maybe none of these supposed ‘incentives’ appeal to you – I am sure we can work something out (cycling lessons? singing lessons? playtime with Karl?), even with my limited skillset. Unskilled manual labour is definitely an option.’
The exchange for an hour of tutoring was for a £30 donation. So far £680 has been raised.
The Church of Scotland set up a commission to review his behaviour following allegations of misconduct against ‘several women’ and 11 charges between 2015 and 2018. Pictured: Elijah Wade Smith, right
He wrote: ‘I feel I owe a great debt to you all for your continued care, support and loyalty during what has been a very dark period of my life. Xx’.
Just a month into his post he began a ten-day affair with a parishioner who was in the process of divorcing her husband – but who was technically still married and was ‘seeking healing’.
He also had sex with a 19-year-old despite being in a committed relationship and also cheated on his girlfriend with one of her friends.
Dr Smith allowed women to stay over at the manse, despite the risk of the congregation finding out.
In August 2016 he contacted a friend of his girlfriend’s on Facebook, and after a boozy night out slept in her bed where they kissed and touched intimately, after agreeing not to have sex – despite Dr Smith being in a relationship.
The disgraced minister called his girlfriend ‘a mess, a dog and failure’ which the Kirk said amounted to ’emotional and psychological abuse and bullying behaviour’.
Dr Smith came from California 11 years ago to join the church and was ordained as minister of Queen’s Park Govanhill Parish Church, in Glasgow’s south side, in January 2015 and was the Kirk’s second youngest minister
He embarrassed her in public by commenting on her ‘clothes, behaviour and stupidity’ and said to friends ‘I must have a thing for stocky birds’.
In August 2017 he turned up on the doorstep of an ex, clutching a bottle of whisky, ‘in pastoral mode’, and they had sex.
The church deemed this to be inappropriate as he had no intention of being in a relationship with her, and she was upset as a friend had been injured in an accident.
The report said: ‘In resuming a sexual relationship with her that evening, we consider that he also betrayed the trust he owed to her as a minister.’
During the investigation into the allegations, Dr Smith, who has a Doctorate from St Andrew’s University, entered a special plea of being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.
He wrote in a blog post that the condition means: ‘All too often I misinterpret what I am told.’
After his suspension in 2018, a church colleague came to the manse to meet with him and see if he could have ‘time away from the parish’, not knowing the nature of the allegations.
Dr Smith began talking about the accusations and told her it was ‘ridiculous’ that one of the women said he looked at porn – and told her: ‘I don’t even masturbate.’
As he picked up a guitar and began singing a song, the woman noticed he had become ‘visibly aroused’ and ‘was fondling himself’.
The minister denied this but the commission found the woman’s evidence to be credible.
The commission report said Dr Smith’s behaviour showed a ‘concerning pattern’ and he had expressed a desire to continue in his job.
It added: ‘Your conduct towards these women amounted to exploitation of them.
‘It also demonstrates a sexually promiscuous nature.’
Concern was raised that even after being suspended, he behaved in a ‘lewd manner’.
The report deemed his behaviour to be ‘contrary to the Word of God at the higher end of the scale’, and he was suspended without limit of time.
A Church of Scotland spokesman said: ‘A Presbyterial Commission was convened to consider complaints against Dr Elijah Smith who was then minister at Queens Park Church, Govanhill.
‘The complaints were upheld and a sentencing hearing was held on Wednesday, May 15.
‘The decision of the Church court was to remove Dr Smith’s status as a minister.’
Dr Smith said: ‘Over the last two years I have been learning to cope with the decision of the Presbyterial Commission appointed by the Church of Scotland.
‘I have many concerns with how the proceedings were handled and the outcome, as well as the narrative put forward by my accusers.
‘I have received professional support in learning to manage my mental health and life in light of the traumatic events I have faced and continue to face. I have no ill will toward anyone, including my accusers.
‘I want peace for everyone involved and I want to continue to survive and build some sort of meaningful life. In doing so, my true character will be proven.
‘Many of my supporters have asked about how they might help in practical ways and, reluctantly, I launched this fundraiser for a number of close friends so as to provide such an avenue.’
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