A Joint Statement from the Standing Committee of Dio Lexington & the Rt Revd W Douglas Hahn

We reported in 2012 that the Diocese of Lexington had elected the Revd W Douglas Hahn as its next bishop diocesan. Earlier this year we reported that Bishop Hahn was stepping away from his office for a period of repentance, retreat and reflection after it was revealed that he had had a previously undisclosed extramarital affair with an adult female parishioner at a time in the past. His agreement to step away was the result of negotiation between Bishop Hahn and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. A few days later we reported a statement from Dio Lexington that said that Bishop Hahn had intentionally withheld information regarding the extramarital affair from the Dio Lexington committee that had been searching for a new bishop. Soon after these revelations, Dio Lexington held a special convention at which the clergy & laity voted to call the Rt Revd Bruce Caldwell, former bishop diocesan of the Diocese of Wyoming, as bishop provisional for Dio Lexington. Finally, this past OCT we reported that the Standing Committee of Dio Lexington had voted to dissolve the episcopal relationship between Bishop Hahn and the diocese. Friday, 16 DEC 2016, the diocese released the following statement;

December 16,  2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Diocese of Lexington:

A blessed Advent to you.

After a period of discernment and mediation, the Standing Committee of the Diocese and the Right Reverend W. Douglas Hahn have reached an agreement regarding his tenure as the Bishop Diocesan. On March 10, 2017, Bishop Hahn will tender his resignation as Bishop of Lexington to the Presiding Bishop.

“I am grateful for my time serving alongside you, the clergy and people of the Diocese of Lexington,” writes Bishop Hahn. “You will be in my prayers as you continue to serve God’s mission in Lexington and beyond.”

The members of the Standing Committee state, “Bishop Hahn has pastoral gifts that will well serve another diocese or ministry. We will continue to pray for him as his future endeavors unfold.”

“We are thankful that the Right Reverend Bruce Caldwell will continue to serve ably as Bishop Provisional for the foreseeable future,” adds the Standing Committee.

Please continue to pray for the Church and all involved.

The Diocese of Lexington posted the joint statement on its website.

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  1. He should be deposed and not allowed to function as a priest or bishop again.

  2. Charles Thompson

    He should be glad he is a Bishop and not a priest! A presbyter would be “out” by most Bishops standards, never to function again. There are different rules for folks.

  3. Scott Fisher

    The damage that this man did to the diocese was astonishing. How he thought he could ever return as Bishop speaks to his incredible arrogance and cavalier attitude about the extent of his betrayal.


    • Scott Fisher

      If my Bishop did the same things as Bishop Hahn did the disappointment and disgust would be palpable throughout our diocese. The whole tawdry mess would’ve been covered by the press in an unflattering manner and the parishioners would’ve been demoralized in my opinion. This would be another blow to body of Christ committed by one of its own. I sense that something along these lines has been going on in the Lexington diocese and Bishop Hahn is directly responsible. My guess is that for the vast majority of the parishioners his conduct is simply incomprehensible.

    • Ann Fontaine

      Sexual misconduct by clergy (which includes bishops) wounds the whole body. There are far reaching consequences of this behavior. Most of the troubled parishes I have served as an interim are a direct result of sexual misconduct and abuse.

  4. Dave Clayton

    Ah, I see that some need to reflect more of the love and compassion that Christ would want us to show. He was my Bishop. I agree he must step down as Bishop but he is still my brother in Christ. So much for Christian kindness. I too have sinned.

    • Ann Fontaine

      I have plenty of love and compassion but that does not shield him from the consequences of his actions. You can no longer be a priest or bishop or deacon. He is still beloved by God and can go on to do other things – but not as an ordained person

  5. Connie Clark

    I’m glad the Diocese has Bishop Bruce to guide and pastor them during this time.

  6. Hilary Streever

    Dear Episcopal Cafe, please use the term “clergy sexual misconduct” to refer to Bishop Hahn’s actions. To call Bishop Hahn’s act anything else is irresponsible reporting that masks the depth of the damage and the true nature of the offense, and diminishes the harm done to all. Clergy sexual misconduct is not merely inappropriate conduct unbecoming to a clergyperson: it is an abuse of power and of people; it clearly contradicts the Gospel and manifests itself in insidious forms that make it all too easy to lay the blame at the feet of the victim(s). Its impacts are far-reaching, affecting not only the person(s) directly involved but their entire community, sometimes for years. Clergy undergo training to understand the roots of misconduct and to prevent it in themselves and by others.

  7. Cynthia Katsarelis

    I’m with Ann Fontaine on this. Sexual misconduct in an unequal power setting is a serious matter that does wound the Body. Breaking his vow to his wife – a covenant relationship – is also quite serious. In the case of true love, there are ways to approach the matter with some integrity, but that requires sacrifice, which is why he tried to keep it secret.

    It isn’t about not loving him or not having compassion for him. He disqualified himself from ordained ministry.

    • Scott Fisher

      Cynthia and Ann are absolutely correct on this matter. Bishop Hahn betrayed his vows,his wife,and the body of Christ. To make excuses for his sinful behavior is disgraceful and wrong.

  8. David Clayton

    I agree David Allen. From my perspective as a member of Diolex, my response is one of deep sadness. That the man I voted for , as a Deputy, with such great hope and expectations to be our Bishop, had been deceptive grieves me. I am saddened but not vindictive

  9. Cynthia Katsarelis

    It’s not really necessary to talk in terms of sin and disgrace. It’s possible to leave those judgements in God’s hands. For us, the betrayal and deception, combined with the power imbalance issues, makes ordained ministry not possible.

    It’s important to get a grip on the power imbalance issues, even in “consensual” settings. We have a president-elect who boasts of sexual assault. One in three women have suffered sexual assault and probably all of us have been spoken to, or touched, inappropriately. Lots of women are suffering triggers because of the current political environment. Safe church for women means a responsive church, and that seems to be the case here.

  10. David Curtis

    I have no horse in this race, but I find some of the comments to be dismissive, condescending, and confusing. I do not know the Diocese of Lexington. However, I have worked for an organization that has experienced at least three crises. In each of those moments, trust was lost, and staff time was used to manage the crisis instead of advancing the mission of the organization. We experienced funding losses and bad press. In same cases, members of the community were divided, and ugliness surfaced to the top.

    Extrapolating from that experience, I can imagine that diocesan staff were engaged in crisis management, rebuilding trust, and conversations with major players and donors, while at the same time working through their own emotions. I can imagine that clergy spent time explaining this to members of their congregations. I can surmise that trust was broken, especially as this occurred to soon on the heels of Heather Cook. I can guess that postulants and candidates for the Diocese of Lexington experienced some level of additional stress and concern during a process that can be stressful at various points.

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