ACNA’s Bishop of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest, Stewart Ruch III, has announced a leave of absence over a “regrettable error” in mishandling sex abuse charges. The Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) was formed in 2009 by former members of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada over issues of sexuality and orthodoxy.
ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach has issued a July 10th letter. An extract:
I [have] received a request from the Bishop’s Council (Standing Committee) of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest asking that the Province take up oversight of the investigation into mishandling of abuse charges in the diocese. The Bishop’s Council has also requested a review of their diocesan leadership structures. I have agreed to both requests.
A Provincial Response Team is being formed by Provincial leaders to take oversight of this process, committed to act with thorough professionalism and with deep care for the survivors. This team will include diverse representation of women and men with experience in these areas. We are prayerful and hopeful that this will help bring forth truth and confidence so healing and restoration can be facilitated.
The Provincial Response Team will be responsible to select all appropriate entities for this investigation and for the care of survivors. The Team will continue to engage with the survivors throughout the investigation and to conduct this investigation with transparency and integrity. The Province takes this seriously and desires to “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7) and to “conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27).
Additionally, I will appoint a team in coordination with the Provincial Governance Task Force to review the diocesan leadership structures and cooperate with the Provincial Response Team to any extent necessary.
Bishop Stewart Ruch III of the Anglican Church in North America’s Upper Midwest Diocese had known since 2019 that former lay minister Mark Rivera had been charged with felony child sexual abuse. But he did not tell people in his diocese about the abuse allegations until last month — which Ruch has called a “regrettable error.”
At least 10 survivors’ allegations of abuse by Rivera have been reported to the diocese since 2019, with allegations including rape, assault, child sexual abuse and grooming.
RNS adds, “In recent years, ACNA has had several high-profile cases of abuse and sexual misconduct.”
Bishop James Hobby of Pittsburgh resigned in November 2020 for mishandling abuse allegations about a priest in his diocese. Bishop Ron Jackson of the Great Lakes diocese was defrocked in 2020 after pleading guilty to sexual immorality due to a longstanding use of pornography. In 2019, an investigation by GRACE, a nonprofit that deals with sexual abuse at Christian organizations, found that a high-profile priest at St. Peter’s Anglican Cathedral in Tallahassee had sexually harassed men at the church.
Victims and victims advocates have responded to Ruch’s letter contains falsehoods
We’re publishing this guest thread from the mother of the 9yo victim of sexual assaults by Mark Rivera. We’ll be using her initials to protect her & her daughter’s identity. She wants to correct the record about public statements put out by @ChurchRez & @MidwestAnglican. #ACNAtoo
— ACNAtoo (@ACNAtoo) July 8, 2021