Note: This release was updated Feb. 27 with additional information.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 25, 2015
Longmont, Colorado: In a church trial held Feb. 24 and 25 at Longs Peak United Methodist Church in Longmont, Colorado, the Reverend Filimone Havili Mone was found guilty of disobeying the order and discipline of the church. As part of the verdict, the jury voted unanimously to terminate Mone’s United Methodist membership in the Rocky Mountain Conference. Mone retains his ordination in the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga.
The verdict was delivered by a jury of 13 United Methodist clergy. Retired Bishop Alfred W. Gwinn Jr. presided over the trial.
“I will not stop praying for Rev. Mone and the Tongan United Methodist Church,” said Rev. Ron Hodges, counsel for the United Methodist Church. “I felt the case itself was clear and concise and the evidence before us was reliable and relevant.”
Rev. Keith Watson, counsel for Mone, said, “While the respondent and counsel team feel disappointment in the outcome, we commend the members of the jury for their careful, and probably painful, deliberations. I think that all in the court recognize the import of the decisions that have been made.”
Mone was formerly the pastor of Tongan United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2012, resident Bishop Elaine J. W. Stanovsky received concerns of suspected sexual abuse that occurred at Tongan UMC and had allegedly gone unreported by Mone. Following a supervisory review, at which time Mone was placed under suspension, it was found that he had failed to report the abuse to authorities in a timely manner in violation of church and state law. In 2013, Mone was tried in city court and negotiated a plea for failing to report abuse of a child, which is a misdemeanor. He was assigned and performed community service.
On Oct. 22, 2012, a just resolution agreement was negotiated and signed by Mone, Bishop Stanovsky and District Superintendent Sione Tukutau. Stanovsky lifted the suspension and dismissed the complaint against Mone after the agreement was reached. Mone did not return to Tongan UMC nor was assigned to a church, but continued on leave as a clergy member of the Rocky Mountain Conference. Mone failed to abide by the terms of the just resolution agreement, performing ministerial services without the permission of the conference bishop or the supervision of the district superintendent. He also announced his support for a church that broke away from The United Methodist Church and filed suit over the church property.
“The jury’s decision recognizes Rev. Mone’s actions conflict with the values and practices of the United Methodist Church,” said Stanovsky. “We are sorry to lose this friend and colleague, who has served among us for many years, but know that God continues to work in this life.”
In a United Methodist church trial, an individual responds to a charge or charges of having violated denominational law, as set forth in the church’s Book of Discipline. A church trial is seen as a “last resort” after all other paths to resolve conflict has been exhausted.
Director of Communications
Mountain Sky Area of The United Methodist Church