July 10, 2021
Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Anglican Church in North America,
This past Spring, the Diocese of the Upper Midwest engaged a third-party investigative firm to review its handling over the past two years of revelations and allegations of sexual abuse by a Lay Catechist in one of their congregations. Due to the Anglican Church in North America’s governance principle of subsidiarity, Canonical responsibility and authority in these matters rests with the local diocese. However, the bishop and the diocese have now formally requested that the Province become involved, and I want to apprise you of this matter.
This week, on July 8th, 2021, I received a request for a leave of absence from Bishop Stewart Ruch, III, Bishop of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest. Bishop Ruch requested this with a desire “to create any needed space for the Province to take next steps regarding this serious matter and to assure the people in the diocese as well as the survivors involved that there will be a transparent and independent process.” I have granted Bishop Ruch permission for this leave, effective immediately.
Later that day, I received a request from the Bishop’s Council (Standing Committee) of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest asking that the Province take up oversight of the investigation into mishandling of abuse charges in the diocese. The Bishop’s Council has also requested a review of their diocesan leadership structures. I have agreed to both requests.
A Provincial Response Team is being formed by Provincial leaders to take oversight of this process, committed to act with thorough professionalism and with deep care for the survivors. This team will include diverse representation of women and men with experience in these areas. We are prayerful and hopeful that this will help bring forth truth and confidence so healing and restoration can be facilitated.
The Provincial Response Team will be responsible to select all appropriate entities for this investigation and for the care of survivors. The Team will continue to engage with the survivors throughout the investigation and to conduct this investigation with transparency and integrity. The Province takes this seriously and desires to “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7) and to “conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27).
Additionally, I will appoint a team in coordination with the Provincial Governance Task Force to review the diocesan leadership structures and cooperate with the Provincial Response Team to any extent necessary.
We will provide timely updates as this process moves forward. If you or anyone you know has questions or comments, you are welcome to email the Provincial Response Team at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I ask for your regular prayers and intercessions for those who have been harmed and now suffer, the clergy and people of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest, Bishop Ruch and his family, and the Provincial Response Team who will now have oversight of this process.
In Christ Jesus,
The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach
Archbishop and Primate
The Anglican Church in North America