AN INDEPENDENT mediation process for the diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney has been established by the bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church, despite a review’s recommendation that the diocesan Bishop, the Rt Revd Anne Dyer, step down with immediate effect (News, 11 September).
A press release announced, on Thursday of last week, that all seven diocesan bishops had unanimously agreed to set up the process, and appointed a steering group to oversee it. The group’s first task will be to appoint an external mediation organisation to undertake the process.
“The Bishops acknowledge that this is a difficult period for the diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney, and recognises the level of hurt and upset experienced by a number of people,” it says. “It has also been a challenge for the Bishops themselves, and they have listened to a wide variety of differing opinions in recent weeks.” No specific timescale can be set for completion of the mediation process, it says.
The steering group will be chaired by David Strang, a former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland and former Chief Constable of Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary and Lothian and Borders Police. The other members are the Assistant Curate of St Oswald’s, Maybole, in the diocese of Glasgow & Galloway, the Revd Elizabeth Crumlish; and a freelance HR consultant, Morag Hendry.
The diocese has already been the subject of two reviews. The most recent, carried out by Professor Iain Torrance and commissioned by the diocese, concluded that Bishop Dyer, accused of bullying by multiple people, should step back permanently, and warned of “systemic dysfunction” in the diocese (News, 6 March).
The author of an independent HR review commissioned by the trustees of St Andrew’s, Aberdeen, described Bishop Dyer’s refusal to engage in mediation, and her claim that the music director’s actions were “unforgivable”, was “difficult to reconcile with the Christian values espoused by the Church”.
In a letter to the Church Times this week, Richard Murray, a lay member of the diocese, writes that letters had been sent to every member of the College of Bishops from a number of vestry committees in the diocese. “These affirmed that, in refusing to implement the initial report’s recommendations, the College is giving the impression that it listens to the views of one of its own number in preference to those it is appointed to serve.”
Bishop Dyer has said that the Torrance review did not listen to those in her diocese “who have a different story to tell” (News, 17 September).
It was confirmed this week that the Dean of Aberdeen & Orkney, the Very Revd Dennis Berk, resigned from his duties as Dean from last Friday, for reasons of “health and wellness”.
Read Richard Murray’s letter here