Diocese of Colorado Withdraws Candidate from Episcopal Election

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The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Colorado notified members of the diocese on September 6 that they have withdrawn Canon Michael Pipkin from the slate of candidates which was announced at the end of July. Their letter reads in part:

In the last several days, we have received reports of serious personal, professional, and vocational issues involving The Reverend Canon Michael Pipkin. Because we recognize that these complaints are serious, and because they cannot be resolved prior to our October 27 election, the Standing Committee voted unanimously on August 29 to remove him from consideration in the upcoming election for the 11th Bishop of Colorado.

As these changes in our discernment and election process have unfolded, we have been in close communication with Canon Pipkin’s bishop as well as with Bishop Todd Ousley, who works for the Presiding Bishop and provides oversight and guidance for all episcopal elections. These allegations have been referred to them for further action under the provision of The Episcopal Church’s canons.

Further, we have decided unanimously to proceed with our election with two nominees on the slate–The Reverend Kimberly D. Lucas and The Reverend Canon Ruth Woodliff-Stanley. Both nominees have reaffirmed their enthusiastic desire to continue with us as we seek our next bishop.

We remain deeply grateful for the faithful, careful, and thorough work previously undertaken by the Search Committee on our behalf. We have informed its members of the basis for the recent decisions that have been made, and they have unanimously expressed their unqualified support. Both they and we are confident that the two faithful, talented priests now on the slate possess the gifts to provide strong episcopal leadership to serve God’s mission with us here in Colorado.

Read the full text here.

According to the Colorado search website, walkabouts are scheduled for October 7-13, and the election for October 27. The consecration of the new bishop will take place on May 18, 2019.

Update, Friday afternoon: The Living Church reports that bishop of Minnesota, the Rt. Rev. Brian N. Prior, has written in response to the withdrawal of Canon Pipkin. In the letter, Bishop Prior states that, “we seek to gather the relevant material regarding these concerns.” He is also clear that any allegations must be substantiated. His letter, as posted on TLC’s website, concludes:

Living fully into our Baptismal Covenant, we’re seeking to respect the dignity of every human being. Our unwavering commitment is to live into the fullness of the mission that God has called us to, and to become reconciled to God through Christ and with each other.

I continue to ask your prayers for all those involved with this situation.

 

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Cynthia Katsarelis
Member

Whatever the issues are, I'm thrilled that my diocese will have a female bishop. And I look forward to the day when our church has 50-50 equality at all levels.

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Cynthia Katsarelis
Member

I wish the "dislikes" would share their thoughts against 50-50 equality?

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Member

Perhaps the dislikes are not against equality, but against disqualifying a person on the basis of unsubstantiated, anonymous allegations.

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C.R. Russell
Guest

Are the complaints anonymous? The letter doesn't assert it. I think it more likely the Standing Committee knows who it is who has made them.

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Cynthia Katsarelis
Member

The committee consulted with the Bishop of Minnesota and Bishop Todd Ousley. It really helps to read the article for questions like that. "Disqualifying a person on the basis of unsubstantiated, anonymous allegations" would indeed be unjust. It's also unjust to leap to that conclusion.

It's also possible to learn more by following the links. There, you would learn that Minnesota is opening an investigation. That makes it really easy to understand why it is that the allegations couldn't be resolved in time for the election.

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Jackson Earley
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Jackson Earley

Unsubstantiated? The allegations were "serious" and, if you look at the canons, require initial and then repeated review. The recipient must have found them sufficiently credible to warrant an investigation and said investigation can't be concluded until after the election. It's unfortunate for Canon Pipkin (and the two dioceses, as one has lost a candidate for bishop and the other has a canon to the ordinary under a cloud), but there is no other correct way to proceed.

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Member

Cynthia, I'm in lockstep with you regarding your views on gender equality within the church. I'm also not one of the "dislikes". Having said that, I suspect you haven't considered fully how your post sounds.

"Whatever the issues are".

That was an unfortunate choice of words to begin your post. We don't know what the issues are, but we know accusations have been made that are serious enough to warrant removal of Pipkin's name from the list of candidates. The possibility exists that this could lead to yet again another scandal for the church. People may already have been harmed by this, and can still be harmed by all of this.

My point is that the potential harm caused by all of this in my view outweighs the gender of the next bishop in this diocese. While another female bishop represents one more step towards justice and equality, I can't be thrilled that it will come on the heels of yet another scandal. Your choice of words I believe implies this to some.

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Cynthia Katsarelis
Member

What I meant was that I wasn't going to speculate on the issues themselves. I was merely pointing out that this means a female diocesan in Colorado. I didn't imply "by any means necessary." If there's a scandal, it isn't the fault of CO or the two female candidates,

The committee said that the allegations can't be resolved by the vote in October. That is pretty neutral and responsible, in my view. Who could possibly blame them for their caution after the issues with the bishop in Maryland and the RCs? The letter from the Bishop of Minnesota is on the mark. If these allegations are false then of course it is an incredible injustice to the priest and his family. It sounds like Minnesota is going to undertake an investigation. These things need to be taken seriously. If cleared, we should rejoice.

I don't think that Colorado should wait. No one is entitled to be a bishop. If Canon Pipkin is cleared, I hope that the Spirit brings him new opportunities for his ministry.

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