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House of Bishops adopts statement on accountability

During the concluding business session of its virtual fall meeting Sept. 19-22, the House ofBishops of The Episcopal Church adopted the following statement:

STATEMENT ON THE ACCOUNTABILITY OF BISHOPS FROM THE HOUSE OFBISHOPS OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH | SEPTEMBER 22, 2023

We, the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church, meeting online September 19-22, 2023, wish to express our heartfelt prayers, well-wishes, and love to the Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, and his family. We fervently pray for his continued healing and restoration to health and wholeness.

Our time together in candid conversation and in fervent prayer has reminded us of how profoundly the love of God in Jesus knits the whole Church together as the Body of Christ, empowers us for service to God’s mission, and calls us to accountability one to another. We acknowledge the disappointment, pain, and grief felt across The Episcopal Church, and in any diocese, regarding the issue of moral, ecclesiastical, and pastoral accountability for bishops. The pain is absolutely real and urgent, both in the dioceses specifically affected by recent cases, and in cases where the recent complaints have recalled prior traumas elsewhere.

Jesus said how we relate to those who are most vulnerable is how we relate to him (Matt. 19:14, 25:40). As disciples of Jesus and servants of the people of God, we acknowledge the imperative to exercise our responsibility as bishops justly, faithfully, and after the example of our Savior. Each of us in this House has taken a vow to defend those who have no helper.

In the spirit of accountability and seeking to move closer to Beloved Community, we fully support the calling of the Reverend Barbara Kempf as the Title IV Intake Officer for Bishops. We also acknowledge and affirm the involvement of bishops, clergy, and laity in the disciplinary process for bishops. We are thankful that the Presiding Bishop has called on 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.

We understand that when any bishop breaks the trust placed in us by the church, the Body of Christ suffers. We are called to be wholesome examples to the flock and proclaimers ofthe Good News of Christ to all the world. Trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God, we commit to each other and to the whole Church that we will do our part in the work necessary to bring about the authentic changes our church needs “to walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God.”

A COMMITMENT TO THE CHURCH

The way of love in community always calls us to establish holy boundaries and commit to mutual accountability. To this end, 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.

We pledge to work with each other, with the House of Deputies, and with leaders across the church to protect the vulnerable, respecting the dignity of every human being.

We pledge to hold each other accountable to standards of conduct set by our ordination vows and the Baptismal Covenant, striving, with God’s help, to exercise the responsibilities of servant leadership modeled by Jesus.

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