Sandwich, MA – An Episcopal priest has been placed on administrative leave after he was accused of plagiarizing his Sunday sermons from a book he ordered off sermons.com.
Reverend John McGinn was suspended by officials at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cape Cod after it was discovered that he had apparently delivered, word for word, over a dozen sermons from a book called Dynamic Preaching. He had even published some of the sermons as his own.
The 65-year-old had more than 300 families in his “flock,” all of whom received a letter from Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts which read, in part:
“This is a serious breach of the pastoral relationship between John and each of you. I am sorry that this matter has caused pain and will likely cause further pain in the parish. As difficult as this situation is, we know that truth telling helps to bring about healing, and our renewal follows repentance.”
McGinn was first suspected of plagiarism a year ago when he was approached by church elders. He told them at the time that he was not cribbing sermons from elsewhere, so the Diocese “investigated further.”
Bishop M. Thomas Shaw said that the investigation turned up “documentation that not only did he continue to copy sermons and preach and publish them verbatim, in print and online, as his own, but he had been doing so for many years.”
On behalf of local parishioners, Sean Randall, a senior warden of the church, issued a statement:
“For 17 years Fr. John McGinn has raised thousands of dollars for local charities and provided pastoral care for hundreds of people on the Upper Cape. Our prayers are with him as the diocese, St. John’s Church and Fr. McGinn work to resolve this.”
When McGinn himself was approached, he made it sound like he was using “administrative leave” as an opportunity to begin the early stages of his retirement.
“I’m going to retire,” he said. “I loved my time at the parish. That’s all. I think I did a good job.”
[Image via: Stephen Rees / Shutterstock]