News

Trinity Church leader put on administrative leave after admitting he misused church funds

Rev. Matthew Dutton-Gillett, rector at Trinity Church, has been put on administrative leave after admitting that he misused church funds for personal use.

Increased financial scrutiny, including a financial review by parish leaders, determined that Dutton-Gillett had misused at least $125,000 in church funds for personal spending, which had not been reimbursed, over at least the past five years, according to a press release from the Episcopal Diocese of California.

Dutton-Gillett, who had been leading the congregation since 2009, admitted to misusing the funds. Bishop Marc Andrus of the California diocese put him on administrative leave, according to the press release.

Dutton-Gillett could not be reached for comment. Before working at Trinity Church, he had about 17 years of experience working in different ministry settings, including at St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Episcopal church, located at 330 Ravenswood Ave. in Menlo Park, is a community of about 150 to 170 regular attendees, said Stephen Andrew, a Menlo Park resident who helps the church with administrative tasks, in an interview.

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In recent weeks, the church community has already had to adapt to the new changes wrought by the state's shelter-in-place order, and switched to viewing services virtually. Now they'll also have to deal with a change in their community's leader.

The Rev. Thomas Traylor has been named "priest in charge" and will lead services for the time being, said Stephanie Martin Taylor, spokesperson for the Episcopal Diocese of California. He started April 17 and will be supported by the Rev. Aaron Klinefelter, associate rector, and Rev. Frannie Hall Kieschnick, priest associate.

It's not yet known how long Dutton-Gillett will be on administrative leave, nor whether he will come back, Taylor said.

The church plans to follow its established canonical policies as it moves forward with an investigation of the misused funds and its own disciplinary process, she said. The church's separate disciplinary process is confidential, involves religious and spiritual considerations, and could involve punitive measures, such as deposition, the Episcopal equivalent of being defrocked, or completely barred from ordained ministry, she added.

During the disciplinary process, Dutton-Gillett won't be able to participate in sacramental, pastoral or administrative roles. He also won't have access to the church building or records, according to the Rev. Canon Abbott Bailey.

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The church also intends to file a police report, but had not yet done so as of April 20, Andrew said.

The news has been hard on Trinity Church's parishioners. Many see or saw Dutton-Gillett as a beloved faith leader, Andrew said.

"This, of course, comes as a terrible shock," Taylor said. "He was leading the congregation through COVID-19."

"Our life together depends on trust, and in some measure, on parishioners’ generosity, and it is deeply disappointing when this trust and generosity are not honored, but abused," wrote members of the church's executive committee to parishioners.

"However, we believe that the increased financial scrutiny which helped bring this misuse of our funds to light will also help ensure the security of your contributions to our common life now and in the future. To that end we are in the process of reviewing existing financial procedures and controls and instituting new ones," they added.

The misused funds are not expected to cause operational problems for the church, Andrew added.

Video services will continue to be offered online Sundays at 10 a.m. More information here.

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Trinity Church leader put on administrative leave after admitting he misused church funds

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Tue, Apr 21, 2020, 9:58 am

Rev. Matthew Dutton-Gillett, rector at Trinity Church, has been put on administrative leave after admitting that he misused church funds for personal use.

Increased financial scrutiny, including a financial review by parish leaders, determined that Dutton-Gillett had misused at least $125,000 in church funds for personal spending, which had not been reimbursed, over at least the past five years, according to a press release from the Episcopal Diocese of California.

Dutton-Gillett, who had been leading the congregation since 2009, admitted to misusing the funds. Bishop Marc Andrus of the California diocese put him on administrative leave, according to the press release.

Dutton-Gillett could not be reached for comment. Before working at Trinity Church, he had about 17 years of experience working in different ministry settings, including at St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Episcopal church, located at 330 Ravenswood Ave. in Menlo Park, is a community of about 150 to 170 regular attendees, said Stephen Andrew, a Menlo Park resident who helps the church with administrative tasks, in an interview.

In recent weeks, the church community has already had to adapt to the new changes wrought by the state's shelter-in-place order, and switched to viewing services virtually. Now they'll also have to deal with a change in their community's leader.

The Rev. Thomas Traylor has been named "priest in charge" and will lead services for the time being, said Stephanie Martin Taylor, spokesperson for the Episcopal Diocese of California. He started April 17 and will be supported by the Rev. Aaron Klinefelter, associate rector, and Rev. Frannie Hall Kieschnick, priest associate.

It's not yet known how long Dutton-Gillett will be on administrative leave, nor whether he will come back, Taylor said.

The church plans to follow its established canonical policies as it moves forward with an investigation of the misused funds and its own disciplinary process, she said. The church's separate disciplinary process is confidential, involves religious and spiritual considerations, and could involve punitive measures, such as deposition, the Episcopal equivalent of being defrocked, or completely barred from ordained ministry, she added.

During the disciplinary process, Dutton-Gillett won't be able to participate in sacramental, pastoral or administrative roles. He also won't have access to the church building or records, according to the Rev. Canon Abbott Bailey.

The church also intends to file a police report, but had not yet done so as of April 20, Andrew said.

The news has been hard on Trinity Church's parishioners. Many see or saw Dutton-Gillett as a beloved faith leader, Andrew said.

"This, of course, comes as a terrible shock," Taylor said. "He was leading the congregation through COVID-19."

"Our life together depends on trust, and in some measure, on parishioners’ generosity, and it is deeply disappointing when this trust and generosity are not honored, but abused," wrote members of the church's executive committee to parishioners.

"However, we believe that the increased financial scrutiny which helped bring this misuse of our funds to light will also help ensure the security of your contributions to our common life now and in the future. To that end we are in the process of reviewing existing financial procedures and controls and instituting new ones," they added.

The misused funds are not expected to cause operational problems for the church, Andrew added.

Video services will continue to be offered online Sundays at 10 a.m. More information here.

Comments

whatever
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 21, 2020 at 11:00 am
whatever, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 21, 2020 at 11:00 am

Not sure how long he'll be suspended or if he'll return.
Really, the questions should be how much time he will serve in prison, will he be repaying the church, will he be barred from the ministry.


Dave Ross
Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Apr 21, 2020 at 2:03 pm
Dave Ross, Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Apr 21, 2020 at 2:03 pm

@whatever (too shy to share your identity?): without knowing any of the facts, I can imagine a scenario where he could return in some capacity, probably without check signature authority ;>).

Many people are quick to judge, even more so when they don't know much. While this appears to be a serious crime and a moral/ethical downfall, faith communities are characterized by their ability and willingness to forgive.

After all, aren't 85% of Evangelical Christians able to forgive (or at least overlook) a serial adulterer con man who can't even rub 2 Corinthians together?


whatever
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 21, 2020 at 2:31 pm
whatever, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 21, 2020 at 2:31 pm

Ross
Episcopalians are not evangelicals.
And in reply to the rest of your response - do the crime do the time. Hope you're not as forgiving to clerics who abuse.


pearl
another community
on Apr 21, 2020 at 3:58 pm
pearl, another community
on Apr 21, 2020 at 3:58 pm

Dave Ross:

"Increased financial scrutiny, including a financial review by parish leaders, determined that Dutton-Gillett had misused at least $125,000 in church funds for personal spending...".

No one is "JUDGING". The FACT is that Dutton-Gillett STOLE this money. He should be fired, charged, and be made to pay for his crime.


Manlo Punk
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 21, 2020 at 5:21 pm
Manlo Punk, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 21, 2020 at 5:21 pm

Alas he will be forgiven!

He will claim some demonic power overtook and misguided him. He'll find God again, ask for forgiveness and get it

Only the names ever change.


pearl
another community
on Apr 21, 2020 at 6:11 pm
pearl, another community
on Apr 21, 2020 at 6:11 pm

Manlo Punk:

It's amazing how often wrongdoers "find God". A great percentage of people behind bars "find God". An interesting phenomenon.


Anonymous
another community
on Apr 22, 2020 at 2:07 pm
Anonymous, another community
on Apr 22, 2020 at 2:07 pm

As a parish member, I believe in forgiveness! So, Father Matthew made a mistake, but there are ways and there are other ways of handling it. Please do not be so quick to judge. There may be many things we still do not know about, and I think all should restrain themselves until the full story is known. What would Jesus do?


pearl
another community
on Apr 22, 2020 at 2:19 pm
pearl, another community
on Apr 22, 2020 at 2:19 pm

Anonymous:

"Rev. Matthew Dutton-Gillett, rector at Trinity Church, has been put on administrative leave after ADMITTING that he misused church funds for personal use."

There's nothing to judge or ponder or anything else. He ADMITTED he did it!


Anonymous
another community
on Apr 22, 2020 at 6:22 pm
Anonymous , another community
on Apr 22, 2020 at 6:22 pm

Actually, it is because he admitted it immediately, that your comments are cruel. Maybe if he did not do so, one might be suspicious. Now that he has come forth, it is time to forgive him. Please do...and you just might feel better about this!


Come on
Menlo Park: other
on Apr 24, 2020 at 2:21 pm
Come on, Menlo Park: other
on Apr 24, 2020 at 2:21 pm

The Trinity Rector admitted taking $125,000 of the parishioners money and spending it for his personal use. This is criminal activity. The amount may also continue to increase as the investigation is continuing. Forgiving him as as person is a separate matter from seeing justice served. The investigation also only focused on the last five years. The Rector's embezzlement could have started even earlier. The Rector betrayed the trust of the Trinity parishioners and his remorseful hopes for forgiveness should include his plans to repay the money and also just what he was thinking as he helped himself to the money.


Peter Carpenter
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 24, 2020 at 3:39 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 24, 2020 at 3:39 pm

"Forgiving him as as person is a separate matter from seeing justice served."

I agree and I forgive him as a person and I defer any other judgements to the judicial system.


kbehroozi
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 25, 2020 at 10:16 am
kbehroozi, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 25, 2020 at 10:16 am

This is a deeply painful and confusing time for our community. Matthew was–and is–beloved. And whatever the degree of his transgressions, his path forward looks desperately bleak.

Those who didn't know Matthew and were not part of Trinity (including many anonymous posters on the Almanac) may idly speculate, gossip, revel, even, in the temporary downfall of our church. This is what people do when they are bored, or lonely, or spiteful, or hurting. Trolls are gonna troll. And the criminal justice system will have its turn.

Meanwhile, for many of us in the parish, the cognitive dissonance is profound. I have found it helpful to remember that all of us contain elements of both light and dark, and the potential for good and evil. None of us wholly conquers our worst demons and the struggle is eternal.

Whatever Father Matthew's demons were (and we may never learn enough to truly understand), the private shame he endured must have been intense. And yet despite his personal torment, he managed, week after week, year after year, to create a sacred, spiritual space for contemplation and regeneration–and provide inspiration and wise counsel for hundreds. Yes, he did wrong, and it was probably criminal in nature. But he also did enormous good. We can remember the good and hold onto it. It is no less real than it was.

At this time above all we should be turning toward the light.


Not a fan
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 26, 2020 at 9:58 am
Not a fan, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 26, 2020 at 9:58 am

Just to clarify, not everyone attending Trinity was a fan of Father Matthew. He had his vocal supporters and the rest of us kept quiet about our concerns. Of course, we never dreamed they would include criminal activity. So please do not speak for the entire church, by saying he was "beloved" in a blanket statement.


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