Pastoral Letter: In Support Of Healing and Justice

Pastoral Letter: In Support Of Healing and Justice

Pastoral letter (To be read to congregations the weekend of January 20th or 27th)

Dear sisters and brothers in the Diocese of Oregon:

In 2018 the General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed a piece of legislation concerning sexual abuses by clergy. The legislation, Resolution DO34 Amend Canon IV.19.4 – Suspending Statute of Limitations affirms our strong commitment to see that past sexual abuse allegations against clergy are investigated with the hope of bringing resolution and healing to those affected by abuse.

The canon in question and the specific wording of D034 is available on the Title IV Ecclesiastical Discipline page of the diocesan website. D034 lifts the Church’s Title IV “statute of limitations” for a three-year period beginning January 1, 2019as spelled out in Title IV.19.4 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church as it relates to sexual misconduct by clergy of the Church against adult victims. It essentially allows individuals for the next three years to bring to the attention of the diocese any allegation against a cleric in the church for acts of sexual misconduct regardless of any statute of limitations. Thus, for the next three years, if you have an allegation to make you may do so no matter how long ago the alleged offence took place.

In the Diocese of Oregon, we have two individuals who serve as intake officers under Title IV. They are The Rev. Canon Neysa Ellgren Shepley, (the Canon to the Ordinary) and the Rev. Canon Linda Potter. Neysa can be reached at neysae@diocese-oregon.org and Linda can be reached at lpotter333@gmail.com. If, for any reason you would prefer to report to someone other than these two intake officers you can also make your report to your local priest or to me as your bishop. We will do all in our power to keep your communication confidential as is appropriate during the investigation.

As your bishop I want you to know that I wholeheartedly support this measure and will do all I can to see that any and all allegations are taken seriously and investigated carefully. The Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Oregon embraces these efforts to bring healing and justice to our church. We all know the many efforts our Church has made to bring safety to all seeking God through the Episcopal Church. This new effort is to bring healing to those adults affected by alleged sexual misconduct in the past.

I commend to your attention another letter on this topic, by our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings. Click here to read this letter on the diocesan website.

Canon 1 of Title IV makes it clear that “the Church and each Diocese shall support their members in their life in Christ and seek to resolve conflicts by promoting healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation among all who are involved or affected.” This new legislation seeks to further enhance our ability to seek the goals of Title IV noted above.

In prayer we ask for God’s healing for anyone harmed by such misconduct. In prayer we ask for God’s blessing on The Episcopal Church.

In Christ,
Michael Hanley
Tenth Bishop of Oregon