Never ascribe to an opponent motives meaner than your own. James M. Barrie
I am sorry to have to repeat this. I am doing so in case there is someone who doesn’t know of my short but painful connection to the Anglican church. When I left my SBC church, distraught over the treatment by the leaders of one of the many victims, his family, and those of us who sought to bring their truth into the light, we decided to try the local Anglican church. Dee thought they would be helpful to us as we sorted out what happened to us. After all, the Anglican church went through its own abuse as it sought to leave the Episcopal Church and form its own governance. “Surely they get abuse,” I said to my husband. I was wrong. Sadly, I saw the husband of my kids’ schoolteacher walking around the church. He had just gotten out of prison for touching little girls. I knew two pedophiles, one at my former church who was in jail and one who had just gotten out of prison.
I wrote a quick note to the pastor, who told me his parole officer said he was “no problem and just fine. “I knew he had a 30-year history of molestation and said that to the pastor. I was ignored. I should have left then, but I was still learning. Then, the pastor, totally clueless when it came to the SBC, asked us why we didn’t move our concerns up the chain of command in the denomination. He told us that we had to reconcile with our former pastor before we could join the church. I left his office crying, never to return. My husband went to our former pastor and told him to leave us alone and let us go. We then got a letter from the church saying we could now join. By that time, I had started this blog.
Eventually, that pedophile did something and was thrown out of the church. The pastor was also fired at some point. I believe that that church would handle things very differently today, as I learned from someone who attended there. But God had other plans for us, and after a few pit stops, we landed in our Lutheran church, which embraced us.
I say this to reassure some folks that I, too, had my own experience with the Anglican church, which mishandled our situation and also mishandled a pedophile.
Bishop Stewart Ruch returns, causing upset amongst some in ACNA.
When we last left Bishop Stewart Ruch, he was taking advantage of a voluntary leave of absence which some could interpret as leaving the scene of the accident until things calmed down. According to Religion News Services in ACNA Bishop Stewart Ruch, accused of spiritual abuse, ends voluntary leave, I imagine that he and the various mucky mucks feel things are looking up for Ruch. However, in my review of social media, this is being viewed by some with a jaundiced eye.
Ruch stepped away from leadership in July of 2021, after admitting he had made “regrettable errors” in responding to allegations of sexual abuse by a lay minister in the diocese.
The following excerpt from RNS discusses reasons there are expressions of concern in various quarters.
He and other leaders failed to act quickly on allegations against lay minister Mark Rivera, who is currently facing trial for felony child sexual abuse, according to a third-party review released in September.
That report from investigative firm Husch Blackwell found that church leaders defended Rivera and questioned the motives of abuse survivors — and also allowed a different volunteer, who’d been fired as a teacher for inappropriate behavior with one of his students, to continue in leadership.
The third-party investigators were barred from recommending any punishment for Ruch and other leaders. Ruch faces a separate denominational investigation into allegations he abused his authority as a church leader.
Let me spell this out more clearly.
- He (along with some others) failed to act quickly (putting it mildly) to accusations against a lay minister, Mark Rivera, currently facing trial for child sexual abuse.
- Ruch questioned the motives of abuse survivors! (What a guy!)
- He allowed another volunteer, who had been fired for inappropriate behavior with a student, to continue in leadership.
Pastors, questioning motives is nonsense and may indicate potential spiritual abuse being used to cover up one’s complicity.
One of the best pastors I had in my life had a little saying that TWW readers have heard over and over.
“Even on my best days, my motives are mixed.”
Please be aware of the extent of this statement. It means, due to our sinful nature and inability to sometimes judge our own behavior and thought, it is nigh on impossible to be sure of our own motives, let alone the motives of others. To question the motives of abused persons is equivalent to adding to their original abuse. People who have been sexually abused rarely lie. Who in their right mind wants to discuss such a difficult occurrence? For years, abusive individuals have used this tactic to attempt to control a narrative they do not wish to hear.
In this case, it appears Ruch didn’t want to hear about his good buddy, Rivera. Why didn’t he want to hear about it? Did he feel guilty knowing he hadn’t dealt with telltale signs? Who knows? I can’t judge motives. Only He, Who is at a higher pay grade than me, can do so. Judge actions, not motives.
Pro-tip for those who still don’t get what I’m saying: Ask who is more likely to lie: the molester or the victim of the molester?
I love to rant on this topic.
For those of you who remember the Rivera situation and not the Chris Laperyre situation.
The Roys Report on 9/3/22 reported Third-Party Report Details ACNA Leaders’ Inaction On Sexual Abuse Allegations.
Four years earlier, in 2015, several leaders became aware that a lay leader at Christ Our Light Anglican, Chris Lapeyre, had been fired from a high school teaching position that year over concerns about a relationship with a female student, according to the report.
The Rev. Rand York, a priest at the church, told investigators he knew that Lapeyre had lost his job and why but allowed Lapeyre to stay in leadership, saying that he “was not concerned about Lapeyre interacting with young people at COLA because Lapeyre had three daughters of his own.”
Ruch, bishop of the diocese, reportedly told investigators that he also knew that Lapeyre had been fired over a “boundary crossing” issue but took no action. Lapeyre said his termination didn’t limit his leadership opportunities at either Christ Our Light Anglican or Church of the Resurrection, the diocesan headquarters in Wheaton.
The report states that Lapeyre, a friend of Rivera’s, told investigators he was aware of sexual misconduct by Rivera involving an adult woman in 2018 but did not tell anyone about it until 2020.
Those who are abuser-centric and not victim-centric do not belong in church leadership.
In this situation, we have two unrelated abusers whose stories appear to have been ignored by Bishop Ruch: Rivera, on trial for the molestation of a child, and Lapeyre, who lost his high school teaching position due to a relationship with a female student. Let’s add a creep faction to this: Lapeyre was a friend of Rivera’s who heard about Rivera’s sexual misconduct with a woman but kept it quiet for two years. Don’t they call this sort of thing “honor amongst thieves?”
It appears that Ruch’s LOA was voluntary, and so was his return.
Sounds like a long vacay to me. Was he paid? Talk about the tail wagging the dog.
“he has chosen to return to the discese in his capacity of Bishop.”
A tone-deaf, cheery note from the Upper Midwest Diocesan Office
I wish they would call me before sending out such a jolly note. Maybe they’re sipping on holiday cheer a bit too early? Surely these folks know better. If they don’t, then such a note must not be well received by the Anglican survivor community. The office may be the only one that looks forward to welcoming him back to work.
Dear Upper Midwest Diocese,
The Provincial office sent this announcement earlier today regarding Bishop Stewart Ruch’s return from his voluntary leave of absence. Bishop Stewart is resuming active ministry on October 30 following consultation with Archbishop Foley and other members of the College of Bishops. You can read Bishop Stewart’s letter to the Diocese here.
The diocesan office looks forward to welcoming him back to work, and we hope to have more to communicate to you soon.
Lay Canon to the Ordinary
Upper Midwest Diocesan Office
The folks at ACNAtoo were not pleased with the choice for the independent investigation.
Given the fiasco surrounding the release and then the disappearance of the report, it looks like they were right.
This is a link to A Statement on the Husch Blackwell Report.
The ACNAtoo survivors and their advocates have consistently requested a demonstrably independent third-party investigation and identified concerns about the ACNA’s contract with Husch Blackwell (HB). HB’s public report, released on September 27, 2022, provides ample evidence those concerns were justified, as we will explain below and in upcoming posts.
…Note how HB states in the report introduction: “We were explicitly directed not to render any legal determination, evaluate or opine about any structural governance issues or to seek to address whether discipline was warranted.” (p. 1)
In the conclusion, HB writes: “Per the terms of our engagement, we have not rendered any legal determination or assessment of other policies or rules.” (p. 57)
Limited scope of the investigation.
In other words, the Province ignored survivor and advocate concerns and instead limited the scope of what HB could investigate and specifically prohibited them from analyzing the data they collected.
UMD (Upper Midwest Diocese) declined to waive attorney-client privilege, excluding evidence.
The HB report does not include an explanation of their evidence parameters or collection process in the UMD investigation; however, when the institution declines to waive attorney-client privilege, as the ACNA did in this case, that privilege automatically protects crucial internal communications and other corroborating evidence from discovery. It is impossible to claim a comprehensive factual investigation while excluding select evidence.
The abuse policies of UMD are not mentioned.
examination of diocesan child protection policies is absent.
Who will draw legal and ethical conclusions since HB couldn’t make that per contract?
The report states that the scope of HB’s contract prohibited them from drawing legal or ethical conclusions and from characterizing the facts based on their extensive experience. To whom is that task left?
Uh oh: other dioceses have similar “issues.”
How many bishops have active abuse and mishandling situations in their dioceses? ACNAtoo currently knows of at least seven. Will the bishops in those seven dioceses read this report, and, if so, what conclusions will they draw about the type of investigation to pursue? What precedent will this set?
Another uh oh regarding the Provincial Investigative Team (PIT)
Please read the bios of the Provincial Investigative Team here and decide for yourself if they have the skill sets specific to abuse response and prevention that would make them your first choice to render an institutional assessment. Also note that all but one member of the PIT are ACNA leaders. Would you consider an investigation in which the institution investigating itself is responsible for all interpretation and recommendations to be legitimately independent?
The report came out, and then it disappeared.
Read the following note from the UMD. So when will the report be rereleased?
HUSCH BLACKWELL REPORT UPDATE
Oct 1, 2022
In the meantime, in the Via Apostolic Missionary District…
Provincial Investigative Team Concerning Bishop Todd Atkinson
Allegations of misconduct, including the abuse of ecclesiastical power, have been made against Bishop Todd Atkinson of the Via Apostolica Missionary District, based in Alberta, Canada. Bishop Atkinson is on a leave of absence and Bishop Quigg Lawrence, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Christ Our Hope, has been appointed to work with Via Apostolica during this season. A Provincial Investigative Team has been formed to look into these matters, and is beginning its work. You can learn more about the members of that team below.
We are inviting individuals with relevant information to confidentially reach out to the Provincial Investigative Team at email@example.com about how to participate in the investigation.
Those who want to receive official updates regarding the Atkinson matter can subscribe here.
How does a group of men screw up a new denomination in such a short time? In my short time in an Anglican church, I heard about the Anglicans splitting into rival factions. One incident I heard about was some American Bishop or other such leader calling a Rwandan Bishop and one of the prominent time leaders “a knucklehead.” This apparently had serious ramifications. It reminds me of the Three Stooges.
For me, the real sticking point is saliently clear. If victims are being ignored or denigrated and molesters are ignored because they are leaders, then this denomination has some serious problems. Jesus spent his ministry looking out for those pointedly ignored by the ruling priests of the day. He didn’t seem too enamored of a particular group of Pharisees that he called snakes, hypocrites, and whitewashed tombs. In Matthew 23:4, He said:
They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
May the ACNA leaders learn to trust the victims and not add burdens to their struggles. Jesus demands it.