15 June 2020
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Today, we were notified of an accord reached between the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry, and our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Whayne M. Hougland, Jr., as part of a Title IV disciplinary action.
Bishop Hougland, in a meeting with the Bishop for Pastoral Development, the Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, disclosed that he had made “serious mistakes” and admitted his participation in an extramarital affair. The other person involved is not Episcopalian and is not a member of the staff of either diocese. No state or federal laws have been broken.
Under the Canons of the Episcopal Church, an accord is a written resolution to the disciplinary process, which is negotiated by and agreed to by both parties.
The accord places Bishop Hougland on suspension for a minimum of one year. During that time, he will be required to undertake personal steps to be accountable to the Church and emotionally healthy for himself, his family, and his dioceses, in accordance with the Canons, which state:
It is the hope of the Presiding Bishop’s office, our Standing Committees, and Bishop Hougland, that this time is one of healing and reconciliation. At the conclusion of the suspension, the Standing Committees and Bishop Hougland will decide whether to continue the relationship with Whayne as our bishop.
The Standing Committees have met and are in the process of working out the details of the one-year leave, including a plan for maintaining the daily operations of the dioceses. Specifics will be available next week. At this time, we expect to hold the ecclesiastical authority of our respective dioceses and will work with our neighboring bishops to conduct the duties that only a bishop can conduct, including ordinations and confirmations. We also are committed to affirming the vote taken last Fall to explore mutual relationship between our dioceses for 3-5 years, by making decisions together as much as is possible and appropriate, maintaining our now-regular joint meetings of Standing Committees and staffs, as well as continuing all other ongoing and potential ministry collaborations.
We ask that you not be in contact Bishop Hougland directly. Any notes may be forwarded to him through Canon Bill Spaid, firstname.lastname@example.org, or may be mailed to the Western Michigan diocesan office.
Know that we are praying for you, the people of Eastern and Western Michigan, and we ask your prayers for your elected leadership, as well as for your diocesan staffs, Bishop Whayne and Dana, and for each other.
Yours in Christ,
The Standing Committees of the Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan
To the Clergy and People of the Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan,
I will not have the ability to personally speak to you individually or as a group, but I appreciate the opportunity for you all to hear from me. I have not honored my ordination vows or my wedding vows, nor have I honored the faith and trust you set in me. I have much personal work to do to be healthier and rebuild my relationships.
I apologize to the people of these dioceses for betraying my sacred oath to be a wholesome example for the entire flock of the Church.
I apologize to the staff of the dioceses for abandoning you to pick up the pieces of my error.
I apologize to the clergy for my gross lapse of moral judgement, thereby damaging our sacred relationship under orders and weakening our moral authority.
I apologize to the Presiding Bishop and the members of the House of Bishops for not living up to the standards of behavior and conduct expected for Bishops and for damaging our credibility and respectability as moral leaders in society at large.
I apologize to the other party and her family for disrespecting their relationship.
And most of all, I apologize to Dana, our daughters, and our extended families for my betrayal of their gracious abiding love.
I do not yet fully understand why I behaved in this manner, but I alone am responsible for my actions and the discipline that the Presiding Bishop and I have agreed to. Over the next year, I will carefully and fully examine what I need to do to be the person you and I expect me to be. During this time, I will be repentant, take the steps I need to amend my life, and request forgiveness from those I have wronged. I am thankful for the grace of the Holy Spirit and the promise of forgiveness for those who are truly repentant. I will do the work.
Thank you, Presiding Bishop for your pastoral care and for your hard discipline, I need them both.
Thank you, Standing Committees for your leadership in this difficult time and for your graciousness to me in this difficult moment.
Thank you for your continued prayers and ongoing support and concern for Dana and our family.
Whayne M. Hougland, Jr.