The General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2009 revised the canons known as Title IV to make clergy discipline first and foremost a process of discernment, mediation and pastoral response rather than one that is legalistic and judicial. The process now models those used in the medical, legal and social work professions.
Canon 1 of Title IV sets the theological context for the process: “By virtue of Baptism, all members of the Church are called to holiness of life and accountability to one another. 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 involved or affected. This Title applies to members of the clergy, who have by their vows at ordination accepted additional responsibilities and accountabilities for doctrine, discipline, worship and obedience.”
An overview of the process
Under the canons, all matters will be reported to an intake officer (find contact information below). Matters might then be resolved through pastoral care, mediation, an agreement with the bishop, an investigation or any combination of these. An investigation may result in formal mediation, and, if necessary, a hearing.
The process allows for resolution through whatever means will move those affected toward justice, restitution, amendment of life, repentance, healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. This can include a variety of interventions for all involved and, if necessary, the suspension or removal of the cleric from ordained ministry.
Visit www.titleiv.org for comprehensive information about the clergy disciplinary process.
The Title IV canons are available here.
Clergy standards of conduct:
Members of the clergy should:
• Maintain confidentiality
• Safeguard property and funds of the church
• Conform to the canons of the Episcopal Church and the rubrics of The Book of Common Prayer
• Abide by ordination vows
• Obtain consent of the bishop before engaging in secular employment
• Obtain consent of the bishop to be absent from the diocese for more than two years
Members of the clergy should not:
• Engage in sexual misconduct (includes sexual behavior with: a member of the congregation; employee; volunteer; person in high school; person under 18 years of age; person legally incompetent; someone with whom the clergy has ever had a pastoral relationship)
• Hold or teach any doctrine contrary to that held by the Episcopal Church
• Commit criminal acts
• Engage in dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation
• Habitually neglect public worship, Holy Communion
• Engage in any conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy
Please note: Members of the clergy are required to report to an intake officer anything that may constitute an offense and to cooperate with the clergy disciplinary process.
Contacting the intake officers:
Anyone may contact the diocesan intake officer of their choosing to report concerns about the behavior of a member of the clergy (priests, deacons, bishops). This initiates a process to hold clergy accountable for their behavior.
The intake officers for the Diocese of Massachusetts are:
Starr Anderson serves as a congregational consultant for the Diocese of Massachusetts, is a member of Consultants for Tomorrow's Church, Today and is the director of Christian education and adult Bible study at St. James's Church in Groveland. She is a former clinical administrator at Massachusetts General Hospital and served as lay vicar of All Saints' Church in West Newbury from 2007 to 2009.
The Rev. Thea Keith-Lucas
The Rev. Thea Keith-Lucas has served as Episcopal chaplain to MIT since 2013. She was ordained to the priesthood in 2006 and previously served for five years as the rector of Calvary Church in Danvers, which is now part of All Saints' Episcopal Church of the North Shore.
The intake officers will:
• Listen with respect
• Offer pastoral care and response
• Create a written report regarding the concern(s) presented
• Answer questions about the process
Members of the Diocesan Disciplinary Board:
(Term ends in November of the year listed)
Dan Clevenger (2018)
The Rev. Karen Coleman (2018)
The Rev. Kathleen Lonergan (2018)
The Rev. Nancy Gossling (2019)
Brian Litzenberger (2019)
The Rev. Chris Wendell (2019)
B. Judy Fenner (2020)
The Rev. Mary Scott Miller (2020)
Julie Shea (2020)