August 4, 2021
Dear people of Truro:
We understand that the gap of two weeks between our first announcement that Tim had resigned until the parish meeting on August 8 is difficult for the parish, and we are sorry for that difficulty. The vestry intends to give as full an accounting as possible at the parish meeting, and we believe that is the best venue for doing so. Nevertheless, in that gap, a number of misconceptions have arisen. We would like to briefly state a few facts to correct those misunderstandings.
The first misconception is that the vestry did not act unanimously. It is certainly true that the vestry had to work to achieve unanimity. However, the vestry did not pass a single substantive measure by overriding our unanimity rule. The written statement we sent about Tim’s resignation, the oral statement we will read at the parish meeting, and the severance package agreed upon with Tim were all unanimously approved by the vestry. No vestry member voted against the final statements or severance. Three vestry members resigned only after we had come to an agreement with Tim about the terms of his separation.
A second misconception is that Tim has received no severance or that his family is being forced to leave the Van Dyke house. A campaign is being conducted that states that Tim received only a “nominal severance.” That is false. In fact, Tim received a very generous severance. The vestry offered, and Tim accepted, a severance package that includes five months of salary, six months on the Truro employee health insurance plan, and the option to live in the Van Dyke house at no cost for five months or at any time to receive the fair market equivalent in rent instead. While the circumstances of Tim’s resignation do not entitle Tim to any severance, the vestry nevertheless offered this generous severance out of consideration for his previous ministry among us and out of concern for and love for his family.
A third misconception is that the women who came forward with the allegations did so only because they were seeking financial gain. The Freshfields investigative team looked into whether the accusers had any improper motives, and Freshfields concluded definitively that there were none. Furthermore, representatives of the vestry have met at length with both of these women. They asked us for only one thing: for us to acknowledge that they are part of the body of Christ and that they were wronged.
A fourth misconception is that Tim has had no say in the investigation or in the vestry’s consideration of its findings. In fact, Tim approved the engagement of the investigators, the investigators interviewed Tim, and the vestry informed Tim of its findings immediately. Tim retained an attorney to negotiate the terms of his resignation. The vestry considered his demands carefully. The vestry rejected outright some of Tim’s demands. For example, Tim demanded that our report to the parish make no reference to the existence of the investigation and its findings. But in the separation agreement, Tim resigned, he accepted the severance we offered, and he acknowledged the exact wording of the written and oral statements, which had been edited in response to his demands.
A fifth misconception is that Tim and his family were deliberately isolated from the people of the parish during the investigation. The length of the investigation was certainly hard on Tim, as it also was on the women who came forward. After Tim voluntarily went on administrative leave, the wardens did tell him—following the bishop’s own instructions to Tim—not to exercise his authority as interim rector and not to discuss the investigation with anyone connected to the parish. Those steps were taken so that no one could accuse Tim of tampering with the investigation, should it have cleared his name. But Tim was by no means barred from talking with people in the parish about anything else, nor his family from participating in worship or other church functions.
A sixth misconception is that the vestry undertook its deliberations without any spiritual counsel. Our clergy at the time—Jamie Brown, José Garrigo, Mike Seawright, and Coleman Tyler—as well as our new Priest-in-Charge—Mary Hays—did not have any influence or say on vestry decisions. It would not have been appropriate to involve them or even to inform them. But from the beginning, Bishop John Guernsey offered counsel to the vestry. He partnered with us in the selection of the outside investigator; he communicated frequently with the senior warden and also sent letters to the vestry clearly stating his views; and he met with the vestry to answer our questions.
While all of this information would have been shared at the parish meeting, we have thought it prudent to correct these misconceptions as soon as possible. We continue to invite you to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we hope to see you at the parish meeting on August 8 at 5:00 p.m. We will communicate further information about how the parish meeting will be conducted later this week. We appreciate your patience in advance of the parish meeting, and continue to ask for your prayers for our church and its ministries.
With our prayers,
The Vestry of Truro Church