By Kirk Petersen
The bishop of the combined dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan has been suspended from his duties for at least a year after admitting to an extramarital affair.
The Rt. Rev. Whayne M. Hougland, Jr., agreed to the suspension in an accord with Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry. In a letter to the dioceses, the joint standing committees of the dioceses announced that Hougland had “disclosed that he had made ‘serious mistakes’ and admitted his participation in an extramarital affair. The other person involved is not Episcopalian and is not a member of the staff of either diocese. No state or federal laws have been broken.”
Hougland was consecrated as the IX Bishop of Western Michigan in September 2013. In October 2019 he was elected to the additional role of provisional bishop in the Diocese of Eastern Michigan. The two dioceses are in a period of discernment regarding their future structure. Michigan is split into four dioceses.
In his own letter to the dioceses, Hougland wrote: “I have not honored my ordination vows or my wedding vows, nor have I honored the faith and trust you set in me. I have much personal work to do to be healthier and rebuild my relationships.”
After apologizing to his family, the dioceses and the Church, Hougland wrote: “I do not yet fully understand why I behaved in this manner, but I alone am responsible for my actions and the discipline that the Presiding Bishop and I have agreed to. Over the next year, I will carefully and fully examine what I need to do to be the person you and I expect me to be. During this time, I will be repentant, take the steps I need to amend my life, and request forgiveness from those I have wronged. I am thankful for the grace of the Holy Spirit and the promise of forgiveness for those who are truly repentant. I will do the work.”
At the conclusion of the suspension, “the Standing Committees and Bishop Hougland will decide whether to continue the relationship with Whayne as our bishop,” the committees said.