Presiding Bishop accepts two bishops' voluntary renunciation of orders

January 22, 2009

Episcopal Church bishops William Wantland and Henry Scriven have renounced their orders and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has accepted their renunciations.


Jefferts Schori said that Wantland, the retired bishop of the Diocese of Eau Claire, had written to her November 15 to say that he had "canonically affiliated" with the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. She said that Wantland declared in his letter that he was no longer a member of the Episcopal Church.

Jefferts Schori said that Wantland, who was serving as an assisting bishop in the Diocese of Fort Worth, sent his letter "as a result of the Diocese of Fort Worth's recent attempt to realign with the province of the Southern Cone." That action took place at the diocese's convention November 15.

Wantland's statement, the Presiding Bishop said, made it clear that he has left the Episcopal Church "and no longer wishes to carry out the responsibilities of ordained ministry in this Church." Thus, she said, she accepted his voluntary renunciation with the consent of her Council of Advice on January 15 and released him from his orders.

The Presiding Bishop had declared on December 5 that then-Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker's statements after the convention's action meant that he had renounced his orders in the Episcopal Church. Iker objected to that characterization.

Scriven had been serving assistant bishop in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. He announced in August 2008 that he would be leaving that post for a leadership role with the United Kingdom-based South American Mission Society (SAMS). He was scheduled to begin his work in early 2009.

Scriven had provided "episcopal ministry" to the Diocese of Pittsburgh after Jefferts Schori deposed Robert Duncan as bishop of the diocese September 19 for his efforts to re-align that diocese with the Southern Cone. The leadership and the majority of the members of the diocese agreed to make that re-alignment October 4 at their diocesan convention.

Scriven, who is a British citizen, had worked with SAMS in Argentina, serving as the chaplain of the British Embassy Church in Madrid, Spain and as Suffragan Bishop in Europe for the Church of England before he came to Pittsburgh in September 2002. Former Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning had made Scriven an assisting bishop for the Convocation of American Churches in Europe in May 1995.

Jefferts Schori said her acceptance of Scriven's renunciation also came with the advice and consent of her advisory council.

Both the Fort Worth and Pittsburgh dioceses are in the process of reorganizing after the departure of their leadership.