The Hard Work of Healing
Recently, allegations of the mishandling of an investigation at another ACNA diocese have surfaced and are being addressed by Archbishop Foley Beach. These reports are always painful to hear; we are one Body so when one member suffers, we all suffer.
All Souls Wheaton has endured our own long and painful story that exposed our need for clarity and education regarding policies for addressing questions of misconduct at all levels: local, diocesan, and provincial.
In February 2020, our rector was removed by our then bishop, James Hobby, immediately following credible allegations of misconduct. In June 2020 the ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh hired an independent investigation firm to conduct a canonical investigation. This process was painful for our entire congregation, including those reporting the misconduct.
The investigation, which ended in March 2021, concluded that the actions of our former rector caused serious emotional and spiritual harm to members of our parish. As a result, he received and submitted to the canonical discipline of the ACNA and was removed from ministry for life. We are now continuing the hard work of listening, understanding, accepting, and embracing each other in our deep sorrow. This healing work continues to be our primary concern.
Formal processes of reviewing policies and procedures are underway at our parish, at our diocese, and within our province as a whole. We are all committed to working to enact effective prevention, response, and healing policies to ensure that parishes are equipped with the highest standards of care and competency for all involved.
From the time allegations were made, we took the following actions in support of those who made allegations and the parish:·
- Established direct lines of pastoral care with All Souls’ clergy immediately after the report was made.
- Provided the opportunity to receive professional counseling with therapists trained in trauma care to anyone who reported misconduct, with no limit for cost or duration.
- Established a moderated group email address so that parishioners could provide email messages of support and encouragement.
- Contracted with a local psychologist for parish-wide support and education beginning in September 2020 and ongoing.
While we still have much to learn, our experience has already demonstrated areas needing improvement and implementation:
- better systems of accountability to prevent opportunities for misconduct.
- better advocacy for those who have been harmed, beginning at the time of the initial report.
- more education regarding trauma-informed response and communication.
- a clear and easily understood guide for reporting and investigation procedures.
- more support for leaders navigating the complexities of grief and trauma.
- more professional resources to guide us through these painful journeys, including ways to better care for everyone affected.
To those who came forward, thank you for your courage, and your endurance throughout this investigation. We at All Souls are deeply grieved and sorry that you suffered harm in our parish, as well as the ways the investigation process caused further pain. We believe you, love you, care for you, and embrace you. Thank you for walking through the healing process with us.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. —Psalm 51:17