THREE senior officials of the Episcopal Church in the United States have been suspended, as an investigation is carried out into allegations of misconduct.
The suspensions were imposed by the Presiding Bishop, the Most Revd Michael Curry, from his hospital bed, where he is recovering from surgery last week after he was diagnosed with bleeding on the brain (News, 11 December).
Bishop Stacy Sauls, chief operating officer; Samuel McDonald, deputy chief operating officer and director of mission; and Alex Baumgarten, director of public engagement, have all been placed on “administrative leave”.
In a letter sent out to staff, Bishop Curry said: “My decision should not be confused with a finding of fault, but is necessary to allow us to find clarity. We are taking these allegations seriously and there will be a full and fair examination of the concerns that have been raised to be conducted expeditiously by an independent investigator. To protect the integrity of that process, we will not be able to say more about the concerns at this time.
“I ask that you pray for all who are involved and who are impacted by this situation. I also ask that we all refrain from speculation, difficult though that may be. We all have a responsibility to protect the integrity of all the human beings involved, and also the integrity of a fair and just process in this matter.”
There has been speculation in online blogs, however, that the suspensions are connected to the discovery of bugging devices at a meeting of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church. A hidden recording device is said to have been found at a meeting last month, near the table of Bishop Curry and the President of the House of Deputies, Gay Clark Jennings.
The Episcopal News Service reported on 18 November that security tapes would be reviewed to try to determine what had happened.