Breaking news from the Diocese of Maryland. Here is the letter sent to all churches today
Baltimore, MD — The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has requested Heather Cook’s resignation as bishop suffragan in a letter sent through her lawyer on January 27. On Dec 27, 2014, Heather Cook hit and killed cyclist Thomas Palermo, 41, and has been charged by police with vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence, and texting while driving, among other charges.”It was clear that our lay and clergy leaders on the Standing Committee felt that the best interests of the diocese would be served were Heather to resign. Since this does not impede the Episcopal Church’s investigation into the matter, it is my hope Heather will see the wisdom in this recommendation,” said the Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, bishop of Maryland.The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is acting as swiftly as it can in the context of the Episcopal Church’s disciplinary action, Title IV, currently underway. While Cook cannot resign her orders as a bishop while the disciplinary process is underway, nothing prevents her from resigning as an employee of the Diocese of Maryland.Follow this link to read the Standing Committee’s letter.
For news, information and resources regarding the Heather Cook case, please visit http://latestnews.
The Baltimore Brew has published an in-depth story examining Bishop Heather Cook’s life from a more intimate perspective – the turns her life took before and after priesthood, both healthy and destructive, friends’ and colleagues’ views of her as a person and as a bishop and her close relationship with family.
They are not totally silent, the people who knew Heather Cook before December 27 – the terrible day when, texting and severely intoxicated, the Episcopal bishop plowed into a bicyclist pedaling along a Baltimore bike lane and killed him.
Online and in conversations with The Brew, they wrestle with how Cook’s actions that day – in particular, fleeing from the scene of the crash – square with the warm, empathetic, down-to-earth person they knew her to be.
“She’s good people,” said Rev. John Morris, in an online forum, recalling Cook from her days as the rector in charge of a suburban parish in York, Pa.
The story addresses Bishop Cook’s destination on the day of the December accident:
Those listening closely at the end of a recent public gathering of local Episcopal clergy and laity heard an answer: She was not headed off on church business that day, according to her superior, Bishop Sutton.
“She was going,” Sutton said, “home to the Eastern Shore.”
Records show Cook still owns the home she bought across the Chesapeake Bay after her appointment as Canon to the Ordinary at the Diocese of Easton.
The house is about 100 miles from Cook’s gated apartment community in North Baltimore, so it appears she was embarking on a nearly two-hour drive while extremely intoxicated.
Cook’s family was close-knit. Alcoholism was not unknown in the family – her father, rector of Old St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore, struggled with addiction:
Thirteen years later [after a 1964 family photo first published in the Baltimore Sun], in a Sunday sermon, Cook told his congregation “I am an alcoholic,” discussing his addiction at length in the newspaper. In 1981, as he stepped down from the position and retired from the ministry, he said was proud of his accomplishments but wearied by the stresses of the job, changes in the church and the “personal cost which has left me temporarily fatigued.” He died in 1989.
Heather Cook has spoken fondly of the summer ritual of gathering at their family place in Lansdowne, Ontario in the Canadian Thousand Islands, of golden retrievers and their father reading aloud from “Chronicles of Narnia.”
By way of resources, the Episcopal Diocese has added to its Bishop Cook case portal a link to a list of FAQs regarding Ecclesiastical Discipline.
The portal includes prayers, resources on addiction and pastoral care, information on the Palermo Children’s Educational Trust, links to pastoral messages and statements and other information. Scroll down to Moving Forward and Pastoral Letters to read the latest additions.
Photo: Flickr/Baltimore Brew
Posted by Cara Modisett and Ann Fontaine