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Bishop of Eastern and Western Michigan suspended for affair

Bishop of Eastern and Western Michigan suspended for affair

From the Standing Committees of the Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Today, we were notified of an accord reached between the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry, and our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Whayne M. Hougland, Jr., as part of a Title IV disciplinary action.

Bishop Hougland, in a meeting with the Bishop for Pastoral Development, the Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, disclosed that he had made “serious mistakes” and admitted his participation in an extramarital affair. The other person involved is not Episcopalian and is not a member of the staff of either diocese. No state or federal laws have been broken.

Under the Canons of the Episcopal Church, an accord is a written resolution to the disciplinary process, which is negotiated by and agreed to by both parties.

The accord places Bishop Hougland on suspension for a minimum of one year. During that time, he will be required to undertake personal steps to be accountable to the Church and emotionally healthy for himself, his family, and his dioceses, in accordance with the Canons, which state:

The Church and each diocese shall support their members in their life in Christ and seek to resolve conflicts by promoting healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation among all involved or affected. – Canon IV.1

It is the hope of the Presiding Bishop’s office, our Standing Committees, and Bishop Hougland, that this time is one of healing and reconciliation. At the conclusion of the suspension, the Standing Committees and Bishop Hougland will decide whether to continue the relationship with Whayne as our bishop.

The Standing Committees have met and are in the process of working out the details of the one-year leave, including a plan for maintaining the daily operations of the dioceses. Specifics will be available next week. At this time, we expect to hold the ecclesiastical authority of our respective dioceses and will work with our neighboring bishops to conduct the duties that only a bishop can conduct, including ordinations and confirmations. We also are committed to affirming the vote taken last Fall to explore mutual relationship between our dioceses for 3-5 years, by making decisions together as much as is possible and appropriate, maintaining our now-regular joint meetings of Standing Committees and staffs, as well as continuing all other ongoing and potential ministry collaborations.

We ask that you not be in contact Bishop Hougland directly. Any notes may be forwarded to him through Canon Bill Spaid,, or may be mailed to the Western Michigan diocesan office.

Know that we are praying for you, the people of Eastern and Western Michigan, and we ask your prayers for your elected leadership, as well as for your diocesan staffs, Bishop Whayne and Dana, and for each other.

Yours in Christ,

The Standing Committees of the Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan

Janet Huff-Worvie, President
St. John’s, Otter LakeThe Rev. Brian Chace
Trinity, West BranchGary Grinn
St. Paul’s, GladwinThe Rev. Dan Scheid
St. Paul’s, FlintThe Rev. Lydia Speller
Grace, Port Huron

Bill Thewalt
St. Christopher’s, Grand Blanc

Dave Croal, President
St. Mark’s, ColdwaterThe Rev. Jodi Baron
St. Philip’s, Beulah & Holy Trinity, ManisteeMartha Bartlett
St. James, PentwaterAnne Davidson
St. Mark’s, ColdwaterThe Rev. BJ Heyboer
St. Mark’s, Newaygo

The Rev. Diane M. Pike
Southwest Michigan Episcopal Covenant

Carole Redwine
St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids

The Rev. Dr. Randall Warren
St. Luke’s, Kalamazoo

Bishop Hougland’s statement is here (PDF).


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Roger Monk

This is absolutely reprehensible behavior for anyone. But to have a bishop lie and cheat on his wife like this should not be tolerated, even in a liberal church. A one year suspension is a very lenient punishment. The presiding bishop likely went easy on him because the two are friends.

I see no way for him to have a successful ministry going forward. He should resign now and spare his flock even more pain.

Eric Bonetti

While I do not disagree with the outcome, this is an all too common perspective in Title IV cases. Clergy may commit perjury, bully, engage in all sorts of ethically questionable behavior, and the church shrugs and says, “Not of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church.” But pull sex into the mix and it’s a mad race to see who can file charges first.

The sad thing too, in these cases, is that being active outside one’s marriage or committed relationship is usually a sign of dysfunction in other areas. Yes, it is wrong, and yes, it is sinful, but it’s best to take a holistic approach and try to understand what is leading to the problem, then address those larger issues.

Here is hoping for health and healing for all involved.

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