Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit Pastor Resigns Amid Scandal
Congregation learns during Sunday service that the Rev. Mark Bidwell gave up his position in the wake of a man's drug overdose at his home.
The Rev. Mark Bidwell quietly resigned as pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit after an incident at his home that resulted in a drug overdose death.
Bidwell also was one of several chaplains for the Ferndale Police Department, but is no longer associated with the department, according to a department statement made last week to The Daily Tribune.
Sunday morning worshippers at Metropolitan Community Church received a press release folded into their programs for the day’s service addressing the matter. The release read:
"With heavy hearts, the Board of Directors of MCC Detroit must inform you that Rev. Mark Bidwell has resigned as our Pastor for personal reasons, effective immediately. The Board was informed of his resignation on Sept. 27.
"The board is working with MCC leadership to provide pastoral care for Rev. Bidwell, if needed, and for those of us in church. We are also working with the Elders to arrange for pastoral leadership for the church during the transition. We will share additional information with you as it becomes available and as is appropriate to respect the privacy of Rev. Bidwell and all who might be impacted by this situation. You are reminded that our Christian principles instruct us not to engage in gossip, rumor, or speculation.
"We invite you to join us in deep prayer for the entire church, Rev. Bidwell, and all those who are impacted by this change in church’s leadership."
Bidwell’s resignation came days after the police arrived at his home in response to a 911 call that reported one of his guests had overdosed on methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth. Steven Michael Fitch, 43, of Lincoln Park, died at approximately 5:30 a.m. Sept. 21 at Bidwell’s home, according to reports in The Daily Tribune.
The MCC immediately suspended Bidwell of his duties as pastor until further notice, and Bidwell was fired from his position as Ferndale Police chaplain.
“We are deeply saddened whenever drug addiction impacts an
individual or community,” said the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, moderator of the
Metropolitan Community Church, in a news release. “No community across this country is immune from the scourge of illegal drugs, but when it hits close to home, we are reminded of the commitment we have to teach people about the harms of drug abuse and to be a place of spiritual healing for those who are recovering.”
Wilson continued: “We have asked our whole denomination and partners in faith to pray for this congregation as they deal with the shock and pain from these events.”
The Rev. Jim Lynch and the Rev. Deb Dysert, both pastors at the MCC, have been assigned to take over Bidwell’s counseling duties while his position is vacant, for how long it will remain that way, the church does not know.
“We will get an interim pastor to help us with the transition,” said MCC Vice Moderator Jackie Walker. “I don’t know when.”
Walker said she has not spoken with Bidwell since the incident but she does not believe he will be coming to the church to say a final farewell.
“Individuals are reaching out to him, but no he will not be coming in,” she said.