Diocese of Central Ecuador leadership to resign

Presiding bishop appoints Victor Scantlebury interim bishop
September 19, 2011

For the "sake of the diocese" the leadership of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Ecuador – including members of the Standing Committee, Bishop Luis Fernando Ruiz, the chancellor, its legal representative and all other diocesan leaders – have agreed to resign by Oct. 1.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Sept. 20 convened a meeting of the leadership, along with Bishop Victor Scantlebury and Bishop Clay Matthews, the Episcopal Church's bishop for pastoral development, at the Hilton Colón Hotel in Quito, where the agreement was reached.

By resigning their positions, the leadership yields its authority to the presiding bishop; she appointed Scantlebury, who had served as an assisting bishop in the Diocese of Chicago until he retired July 1 to serve as interim bishop.

The announcement was made to the House of Bishops, which has been holding its fall meeting Sept. 15-20 in Quito, during its business session. Jefferts Schori, Scantlebury and Matthews have been holding meetings with the Central Ecuador leadership throughout the six-day meeting.

"They have been advising me to think about my resignation," said Ruiz in Spanish through an interpreter. "This is something that really hurts me … but as I have been saying, if this will contribute to calm in the diocese, and I can get my life back in order.

"I came here thinking the Lord had a plan for me, but now I don't know. I am worried about what I will do afterward."

Ruiz, who is Colombian, has been in "exile" in Colombia since June when an ongoing conflict between him the standing committee escalated.

The hope, said Matthews, following the close of the business meeting, "is to bring clarity and normalcy into a very fractured diocese and bring a period of stability before they can hold a diocesan convention to elect new leadership."

Ruiz will return to Colombia and will remain a bishop while complaints filed against him by the standing committee continue to be investigated, Matthews said.

"The hope is that he will be able to continue a ministry as a bishop in this church," he said, adding that he will continue to receive his salary and benefits.

In June, the presiding bishop appointed Matthews to a "special team" that was sent to Ecuador to investigate the conflict. The Rev. Glenda McQueen, the Episcopal Church's officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Panama Bishop Julio Murray also were appointed to the team.

In March 2009, during a retreat meeting at Kanuga, North Carolina, the House of Bishops elected Ruiz to be the bishop of Central Ecuador. On July 13, during the 76th General Convention, the House of Deputies consented to his consecration.

Throughout this week's meetings it became apparent that it would be extremely difficult for Ruiz to continue to lead the diocese, Scantlebury, who is Panamanian, told ENS following the close of the House of Bishops' meeting.

"My approach will be one of a pastoral ministry of reconciliation and restructuring of the diocese," he said.

During the business session, Jefferts Schori acknowledged that Scantlebury's job will be "extremely difficult."

Also during the business session, the House of Bishops:

  • Elected Honduras Bishop Lloyd Allen, Texas Bishop Andy Doyle and Kansas Bishop Dean Wolfe each to three year terms on the board of the College for Bishops;
  • Accepted Bishop Santosh Marray as a collegial member of the house. Formerly bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Seychellles, Marray currently serves in the Diocese of East Carolina;
  • Approved and accepted "A Pastoral Teaching" from the House of Bishops on the topic of the environment, presented by the Theology Committee.

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