Clergy Discipline Process

Clergy have, by their ordination vows, accepted additional responsibilities and accountabilities for doctrine, discipline, worship and obedience.

This process of accountability, as set out in Title IV of the Constitution and Canons for the Government of The Episcopal Church (“Title IV”), seeks to promote justice, restitution, amendment of life, repentance, healing, forgiveness and reconciliation among all involved or affected by clergy misconduct.

Before July 1, 2011, clergy disciplinary matters were brought to the bishop or the Standing Committee. Since July 1, 2011 (under the revised Title IV canons) all matters are now reported to an Intake Officer (contact info below) who will create a written report. Following that, the matter could be resolved by pastoral care, mediation, an agreement with the bishop, an investigation, or any combination of these.

If it moves to an investigation, some of those matters could go to a more formal mediation and if necessary, a hearing. The resolution of the process could be anything that will move those affected to justice, restitution, amendment of life, repentance, healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. This could include suspension or removal from ordained ministry.

The clergy disciplinary process is similar to that used in licensing other professions, such as doctors and lawyers.

Clergy should:

  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Safeguard property and funds of the church
  • Conform to the canons of The Episcopal Church and the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer
  • Abide by ordination vows
  • Obtain consent of the bishop before engaging in secular employment
  • Obtain consent of the bishop to be absent from the diocese for more than two years

Clergy should not:

  • Engage in sexual misconduct (includes sexual behavior with: a member of the congregation; employee; volunteer; person in high school; person under 18 years of age; person legally incompetent; someone with whom the clergy has ever had a pastoral relationship)
  • Hold or teach any doctrine contrary to that held by The Episcopal Church
  • Commit criminal acts
  • Engage in dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation
  • Habitually neglect public worship, Holy Communion
  • Engage in any conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy