Ecclesiastical Discipline

As covered by the Title IV Episcopal Church Canons. New Title IV Canons to take effect July 1, 2011.

What is the New Title IV?

  • A discernment process designed to help the Church address serious misconduct by its ordained leaders
  • A series of conversations
  • An ecclesiastical process, not a legal process

What are the Guiding Principles behind the new Title IV?

  • Emphasize pastoral care for all
  • Be less adversarial than the previous Title IV
  • Reflect our theology as people of faith and promote repentance, forgiveness, healing, reconciliation, justice, restitution and amendment of life
  • Allow for the story to be told early in the process
  • Provide options and flexibility to resolve matters constructively
  • Promote repentance, forgiveness, healing, reconciliation, justice, restitution and amendment of life

What Standards of Conduct for Clergy are named in the New Title IV?

Every member of the clergy is expected to abide by the following Standards of Conduct and shall be accountable for any breach thereof.

Every Member of the Clergy shall:

  • respect and preserve confidences of others
  • conform to the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer
  • abide by the promises and vows made when ordained
  • safeguard the property and funds of the Church and community
  • abide by the requirements of any applicable accord or order, pastoral direction, restriction on ministry or placement on administrative leave
  • report to the Intake Officer all matters which may constitute an offense

Every Member of the Clergy shall refrain from:

  • any act of sexual misconduct
    holding and teaching publicly or privately, and advisedly, any doctrine contrary to that held by the Church
  • engaging in any secular employment, calling or business without the consent of the Bishop
  • being absent from the Diocese for more than two years without the consent of the Bishop
  • any criminal act that reflects adversely on the member of the clergy's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a minister of the Church
  • conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation
  • habitual neglect of the exercise of the ministerial office without cause, or habitual neglect of public worship, and of the Holy Communion
  • any conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy
  • violating the Constitution or Canons of the Church or of any diocese
  • failing to cooperate with any investigation or proceeding conducted under this Title
  • intentionally and maliciously bringing a false accusation or providing false testimony in any investigation or proceeding under this Title

What is actionable?

To be actionable, the conduct complained of must be material and substantial or of clear and weighty importance to the ministry of the Church

To Whom Does one Report?

Information regarding offenses is reported to Intake Officers, designated by the Bishop. Notify an Intake Officer by phone, e-mail, or letter. The Intake Officers are listed below. We recommend contacting the intake officer closest to you, but ultimately the the person reporting can contact any of the four intake officers he or she chooses.

The Rev. Sven vanBaars
E-mail:
rector@abingdonchurch.org
Business Phone: 804-693-3035
Cell Phone: 804-815-7692 
Location: Middle Peninsula

The Rev. Caroline Parkinson
E-mail: csp@activated.com
Business Phone:  804-232-6867
Cell Phone:  540-270-0879
Location: Richmond Area

The Rev. Dr. Ann Willms
E-mail: abwillms@gmail.com
Business Phone: 434-295-2156
Cell Phone: 434-987-0211
Location: Charlottesville Area

The Rev. Jackie Thomson
E-mail: jackiethomson@verizon.com
Business Phone: 703-536-6606
Cell Phone: 703-961-1129
Location: Northern Virginia

Please note that the Title IV Canons address offences by clergy. To report an alleged offence by a lay person, please contact the Rev. Canon Pat Wingo (800-DIOCESE x1024).

What happens when a report is made?

A series of conversations begins. An agreement may be reached during any one of the conversations. If an agreement is not reached, the matter proceeds to the next conversation. The goal of every conversation is to reach an accord, a written resolution which is negotiated and agreed among the parties. (See flow chart.)

The levels of conversation are:

  • The Intake Officer
  • A Reference Panel made up of the Intake Officer, Bishop and President of the Disciplinary Board
  • A Conference Panel made up of one to three members of the Disciplinary Board
  • A Hearing Panel made up of three different members of the Disciplinary Board
  • The Provincial Court of Review

Learn more about the officers and board involved in Title IV, and about how you can contribute to the process.