(RNS) The former president of the United Church of Christ is divorcing his wife and is in a committed relationship with a former co-worker at church headquarters, the UCC announced.
The Rev. John H. Thomas was general minister and president for a decade of the mainline Protestant denomination before he resigned at the end of his term in 2009.
Thomas and his wife, Lynda, are divorcing, and he has formed a relationship with another woman with whom he worked while he led the Cleveland-based denomination, the UCC said in a statement.
Both parties have said the relationship is consensual, the UCC said.
Thomas told the UCC of the affair in May, said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, the denomination’s director of communications.
Biblical Witness Fellowship, a conservative movement within the UCC that has been critical of Thomas’ support of gay marriage, said in a Tuesday (Aug. 31) statement that the woman in the relationship with Thomas is Lydia Veliko, an ecumenical officer Thomas often traveled with on church business.
Any implications that church leaders somehow allowed church funds to be used inappropriately, or were used inappropriately, are absolutely false, Guess said.
Gregg Bekke, news director for UCC, said Thomas’ relationship was with a member of the national staff but he would not confirm the name of the staffer. He said Veliko resigned from her position on Tuesday.
Veliko’s resignation letter said she was leaving for personal reasons.