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Bishop of Wyoming unfrocked after investigation into ‘alleged indiscretion’

05 April 2024

Diocese of Wyoming

The Rt Revd Paul-Gordon Chandler, in 2021

The Rt Revd Paul-Gordon Chandler, in 2021

THE Bishop of Wyoming, in the United States, the Rt Revd Paul-Gordon Chandler, has been deposed from Holy Orders after an investigation into an “alleged indiscretion” with a member of his diocesan team. No further details have been published.

Bishop Chandler was placed on administrative leave last autumn (News, 20 October 2023), and an “accord” was reached with the Rt Revd Mary Gray-Reeves, acting as the Presiding Bishop Designate for Title IV investigations into bishops.

The accord sets out that Mr Chandler has voluntarily agreed to the sentence of deposition. The agreement was approved before Easter. A press release from the US Episcopal Church said: “Chandler has voluntarily submitted to a sentence of deposition, which deprives him of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority of God’s word and sacraments conferred at ordination.”

In a statement, Mr Chandler said that his agreement to deposition should not be interpreted as “an admittance of the specific allegations and charges brought against me”. “This decision, as difficult as it is, allows me to stay true to myself, as well as to be faithful to my calling: ‘Seeking to enable others to enter a deeper dimension spiritually and experience the beauty of God in fresh ways.’ We have certainly experienced God’s presence throughout this challenging time in profoundly moving ways.”

In a letter to the diocese, he wrote that the decision had been “heartbreaking” for him and his wife, Lynne, but that he had “never aspired to be a bishop”.

“It is important for us all to be reminded that none of us is ever truly defined by what happens to us, but rather by how we respond and who we choose to become as a result of it all.”

Mr Chandler grew up in Senegal, and served in churches in Qatar and in Egypt. He founded the charity Caravan Arts, to promote peace through the arts. In the 1990s, he was director of SPCK Worldwide. He studied at Chichester Theological College, and is a published author.

In 2020, the Archbishop of Canterbury awarded him the The Hubert Walter Award for Reconciliation and Interfaith Cooperation.

The US Presiding Bishop, the Most Revd Michael Curry, has, after criticism, promised greater transparency over Title IV investigations. Last month, he announced that details of allegations and updates on cases involving bishops would be published on the Church’s website (News, 8 March).

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