By Kirk Petersen
After extensive discussion over parts of three days, the House of Bishops concluded its fall meeting with a statement acknowledging “the disappointment, pain, and grief” that has been expressed across the Episcopal Church in the wake of recent misconduct allegations against two bishops.
The eight-paragraph statement did not call for specific action, but said “we, the bishops of The Episcopal Church, pledge to continue the long-term work of accountability. We understand this work involves canonical, cultural, and relational dimensions.”
The bishops gave thanks for the call by the presiding bishop for “the Standing Commission on Structure, Governance, Constitution and Canons to review the Title IV disciplinary process, listen to the concerns and hopes of the church, identify what has worked and what needs improvement, and make recommendations to the next General Convention.”
No bishop was mentioned by name in the statement, but the discussion was prompted by anger after President of the House of Deputies Julia Ayala Harris alleged that an unidentified bishop made inappropriate physical contact and statements on the day she was elected at the 2022 General Convention. The bishop later was revealed to be retired Bishop of Oklahoma Ed Konieczny, who denies the allegations. Ayala Harris went public with her accusations August 30 after a year-long Title IV process concluded with a “pastoral response in lieu of disciplinary action.”
Hard on the heels of the allegations against Konieczny, Bishop Prince Singh resigned September 8 as provisional bishop of the dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan, one day after he was restricted from ordained ministry in the wake of allegations of physical and emotional abuse by his adult sons and ex-wife. Singh denies the allegations, which were spelled out in vivid detail by Nivedhan and Eklan Singh.
“This is a painful moment for our church,” Bishop of Minnesota Craig Loya said, on behalf of the committee that drafted the statement. “And since we are elected and entrusted with being shepherds of the church, our intention was to try to be present to that painful moment with some scriptural and spiritual grounding as pastors do.” The House of Bishops met online September 19-22, and portions of the meeting were made available to the news media by livestream.
Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, the vice president of the House of Bishops, conducted the meeting in the absence of Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry, who remains hospitalized after surgery to remove an adrenal gland and associated mass.