Monday, October 17, 2011

The Episcopal Church's Ever Murky Waters

Bishop Dorsey Henderson sent this message to members of the Disciplinary Panel for Bishops on Oct. 14, and released a copy to The Living Church.

Sisters and Brothers, today I have accepted the withdrawal of Ms. Josephine Hicks from further participation in the matter before us regarding Bishop Mark Lawrence.

Ms. Hicks has withdrawn from all involvement in the Board’s investigation and/or consideration of the Bishop Lawrence matter because unanticipated circumstances have created the possibility of a conflict arising regarding fiduciary responsibilities for members of her law firm as matters develop. For reasons of professional responsibility, she is not at liberty to disclose any details concerning that possibility.

You know as well as I that she has never been a member of the Disciplinary Board. We retained her to serve as the Board’s attorney as one of the decisions we made during our organizational meetings, conducted by conference call. However, the roster of the Board’s membership on the General Convention web site includes her name — obviously a clerical error. (I have requested that this error be corrected, and Canon Straub, Secretary of the General Convention, has assured me that this has been done.) Any apprehension, implication or suggestion that Ms. Hicks’ work would not be impartial is unfounded, just as the claim that she served as a member of the Board is unfounded.

I retain full confidence in Ms. Hicks, not only in her objectivity in her work, but in her proven professional ability, typical for lawyers, to represent their clients rather than their own personal interests.

I will contact you promptly regarding efforts to retain another attorney to assist us in the Bishop Lawrence matter. Ms. Hicks will continue to assist us in other matters which are, or may be in the future, before us.

With continuing prayers for God’s guidance for us all, for the mission, faith and unity of the Church, I remain

Faithfully yours in our Lord,

+Dorsey Henderson
President of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops

There are 21 comments:
1. Robert Sturdy writes:

Bishop Henderson,
It is not as if the idea of her being a member of the Disciplinary Board appeared out of thin air. Thus the claim is not "unfounded," but was established by a clerical error which to your credit you corrected.

This is but the most recent embarrassment for a process that has been characterized by stumbles and missteps from a Disciplinary Board that is supposed to ensure an impartial investigation of a Bishop in the Episcopal Church. If the Board has not been able to spot such simple errors successfully up until this point, what confidence should the people of TEC have in the overall process?
Posted on: October 14, 2011 2:37 PM

2. Ronald Caldwell writes:

We need more information here about what happened. Since the news first appeared about the investigation, Bishop Lawrence and his supporters have launched a full frontal assault against the committee and the institutional structure behind it. The bishop and his friends have labeled this an unwarranted attack on him, the diocese, and its parishes. The media blitz has been non-stop.

The best defense is a good offense. One of the first items they seized on was the question about lawyer Hicks. If she were pressured in any way by anyone on the committee or in the wider church to back out, it bodes ill for this whole process because it allows the bishop's side to control the aganda and the process. I for one would like to hear from her on what happened.

Posted on: October 14, 2011 4:54 PM

3. Douglas LeBlanc writes:

I too would be glad to hear from Josephine Hicks, which is precisely why I requested an interview with her as I prepared yesterday's news report.

Posted on: October 14, 2011 5:47 PM

4. Milton Finch writes:

Mr. Caldwell,

The vast majority of people located within the sovereign Diocese of South Carolina consider what the Episcopal Church is doing as a full frontal assault by a liberal confederation upon one of its founding members. It has all the feel of a kangaroo court set up to grab what is not its to begin with.

Posted on: October 14, 2011 7:42 PM

Read all the comments here.

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