Save our St. Andrews & Holy Communion Community
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Dear Church Family,
Our church community is under attack. The accusations and process initiated by Bishop Mark Beckwith against Reverend Sandye have put the future of our beloved church community in peril. If you would like to tell Bishop Curry to investigate this unfair, undemocratic, and destructive process; please consider signing the attached letter addressed to Bishop Curry, asking him to investigate this unfair process.
Dear Bishop Curry:
The undersigned, current and former members of the vestry and members of the congregation of SAHC, write in our individual capacities, to address what we view as serious problems causing harm to the unity, spiritual wellbeing and viability of our church and church family that directly result from actions taken and statements made by our bishop Mark M. Beckwith.
This letter, and our concerns expressed below, do not relate to the substantive issues before our bishop or our diocese in the matter of the current Title IV proceeding concerning our rector Sandye Wilson.
Rather, we wish to state that the actions taken, statements made by and conduct of Bishop Beckwith in connection with the Title IV proceeding have caused serious, soon to be irreparable harm to the unity, spiritual wellbeing and viability of our church and church family.
Further, we believe that these adverse effects on our parish that Bishop Beckwith has caused violate: (i) the vows he made when called to be our bishop, (ii) his duties as bishop and pastor of our parish, and (iii) that his actions and statements to our congregation relating to the Title IV proceeding constitute an abuse of his discretion and violate the letter and spirit of his duties under Canon Law Title IV.
A. Bishop Beckwith’s Statements and Actions
The following is a brief, non-comprehensive summary of certain actions and statements by Bishop Beckwith which have harmed our parish and motivated us to write this letter.
We acknowledge that Bishop Beckwith has wide latitude and broad discretion in Title IV complaints.
We believe, however, that based on the statements that Bishop Beckwith made to our congregation he has abused his discretion and harmed our parish.
By the Bishop’s own admission, the Title IV proceeding against Rev. Wilson, which has now gone on over two and one-half years since the initial complaint was filed, is the longest such Title IV proceeding of his tenure, and he and his chancellor estimate that the proceeding could continue for over a year more. While declining for the most part to discuss the substance of the complaint, the Bishop stated that he felt compelled to hire both a private investigator and a forensic accountant to address matters raised in the complaint.
In addition, when queried about his intentions and recommendations concerning the suspension of our rector’s benefits and salary, the Bishop admitted to our congregation that that he took these actions to coerce our Rector into settling the claims. Also, we do not believe that the Bishop has been entirely forthcoming about his reasons for initially placing Rev. Wilson on administrative leave.
B. Effect of Bishop’s Statements and Actions
We cannot imagine a scenario where a Title IV proceeding could be anything other than disruptive to the life of a parish. Bishop Beckwith, however, has taken a situation which is admittedly by its nature difficult and disruptive, and by his words, deeds and conduct caused confusion, suspicion, disunity and discord in our parish family, thereby threatening our church’s viability and its ability to serve the spiritual needs of our community.
For the most part our concern is not with the Bishop’s motives, intentions or purposes, but rather with the destructive impact they have had on our church and church family.
C. Bishop’s Failure to Meet His Vows, Duties; Conduct Unbecoming
I. Violation of Vows Made at Call and Duties
At his ordination, Bishop Beckwith was called to be chief pastor of our diocese, to guard the unity of our church, and in all things to be a wholesome example for the entire flock of Christ. Further, a key aspect of his ministry is “to act in Christ’s name for the . . . building up of the Church . . . .”
To us, regardless of motives, purposes or intention, our bishop has failed to guard the unity of our parish, has failed in his duty as our pastor, has by his own admission abused his discretion in a manner that does not set a wholesome example four our flock, and by his words, deeds and course of conduct had the effect of tearing down rather than building up a church of his diocese.
II. Conduct Unbecoming a Member of the Clergy
Canon IV.2 of our Constitution and Canons contains the following definition:
Conduct Unbecoming a Member of the Clergy shall mean any disorder or neglect that prejudices the reputation, good order and discipline of the Church, or any conduct of a nature to bring material discredit upon the Church or the Holy Orders conferred by the Church.
We believe that by Bishop Beckwith’s actions, statements and conduct, he has neglected the spiritual and temporal well being of our parish, has created disorder in our church family, and prejudiced the good order and discipline of the Episcopal Church. In addition, we believe his publicly stated intention to coerce a settlement from our rector in the course of the ongoing Title IV proceeding, in addition to causing harm to our parish, is clearly an abuse of discretion rising to conduct that brings material discredit to the Episcopal Church.
We would appreciate any assistance and guidance your office or staff can provide concerning the procedure to file a Title IV complaint against Bishop Beckwith.
A. Tyson Arnedt,* Cheryl Arnedt, William T. Crawley, Myrson Cherette, Katherine DeFoyd, Dale Favors, Tara Favors , Janis Gomez, Todd Gomez, Denise Grant, Robin Lenhardt, Michelle Miller, Deidre Minor , Marc Morial, D. Gordon Murray, Debora A. Pitman, Colin Ralph, Rita J. Salas, Sherrese Clarke-Soares, Roger Soares
 Notwithstanding his refusal to disclose to our congregation the substance of the complaint, Bishop Beckwith and the diocesan CFO dwelt at length during the recent meeting with the congregation with financial matters strongly implied to have been raised by the complaint. To our knowledge and belief this is not the only time he has seen fit to disclose to various persons details of the complaint while supposedly claiming that the complaint must remain confidential. In our view the Bishop has thus played “fast and loose” with the confidentiality provisions of Title IV when it suits his purposes. This does not seem to us to be in accord with the letter and spirit of Title IV.
 These disclosures likewise seem contrary to the spirit of confidentiality embodied in Title IV. We do not speculate as to the Bishop’s motives or purposes in making these disclosures.
 As stated in “Ordination: Bishop” in the Book of Common Prayer (“BCP”) pp. 513 & 518.
 “Catechism,” BCP p. 855.
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