Four bishops' renunciations of ministry accepted by Presiding Bishop

February 11, 2008

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has accepted four bishops' renunciations of ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church, a senior representative of her office has confirmed.


The Rev. Dr. Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop, said the Presiding Bishop --- in letters dated January 23 and sent to related General Convention, diocesan, pension and deployment offices --- has accepted the renunciations made by David J. Bena, resigned bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y.; Andrew H. Fairfield, resigned bishop of the Fargo-based Diocese of North Dakota; and Howard S. Meeks, resigned bishop of the Diocese of Western Michigan, based near Kalamazoo.

A similar letter was sent January 14 regarding the renunciation made by Jeffrey N. Steenson, resigned bishop of the Diocese of Rio Grande, an Albuquerque-based jurisdiction encompassing New Mexico and a portion of Southwest Texas including El Paso.

Bena in 2007 aligned with the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, where he was received by Archbishop Peter Akinola. Fairfield in 2007 aligned with the Anglican Province of Uganda, according to its Primate, Archbishop Henry Orombi. Steenson announced at the House of Bishop's 2007 meeting in New Orleans his decision to resign and align with the Roman Catholic Church, which received him in December, according to reports.

The letters, copies of which were released to ENS, state that in each case the Presiding Bishop has acted in "accordance with Title III, Canon 12, Section 7 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, and with the advice and consent of the Advisory Committee to the Presiding Bishop…"

The four letters state that with regard to each bishop "the action is taken for causes that do not affect his moral character."

Each letter also declares that the respective bishop "is, therefore, removed from the Ordained Ministry of this Church and released from the obligations of all Ministerial offices, and is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God's Word and Sacraments conferred on him in Ordinations."

Meeks, in a letter dated December 20, 2007, formally filed his renunciation of ordained ministry. Fairfield did so in a letter dated June 26, 2007; Bena in a letter dated March 6, 2007; and Steenson in a letter dated December 1, 2007.

Titled "Renunciation of Ordained Ministry and Declaration of Removal and Release," separate letters regarding each bishop were copied to: the Secretary of the House of Bishops; the Secretary of the General Convention; the Bishops of the Episcopal Church; the Recorder of Ordinations; the Church Pension Fund; the Church Deployment Board; and both the secretary of convention and the standing committees of the respective dioceses in which each bishop last served.

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