Candidly, we’ve been somewhat reluctant to publish because we value our friends and colleagues within ACNA, and we don’t want this to be seen as an attack on them. But we oppose abuse in every instance, so we’re picking up the story,
Also of note is that the abuse occurred while the congregation was still part of TEC. Thus, we hope that the Diocese of Virginia will launch its own investigation, as there may be persons involved in the abuse who remain within TEC. Our hope is that any such investigation might be done in collaboration with our sisters and brothers in ACNA, without rancor.
We also note that this is far from the first such case to come out of the parish. Indeed, there was a case several decades ago in which Virginia courts declined to get involved on the basis of the First Amendment and the Abstention Doctrine, which bars courts from adjudicating internal church matters. Thank gosh those days are (generally) over,
While there have been several recent cases of abuse in ACNA that were handled appallingly badly, we commend the parish for immediately hiring outside counsel to investigate and disclosing the issue.
Translated: This whole notion that TEC Title IV proceedings get conducted in secrecy until they hit the Hearing Panel stage drives us batty, especially since the canons expressly say the bishop diocesan may disclose details in order to address the pastoral needs of those involved. And, as Robin Hammeal-Urban correctly notes, healing requires disclosure on multiple levels:
As Christians, we are called to tell about misconduct in our congregations on the intrapersonal, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural levels.7 Communicating accurate information, or telling the truth about what has been secret, can be transformative and healing to many when all four of these levels are addressed.
Despite these provisions, TEC continues to act like the Catholic Church of yore: Ignore. Deny. Equivocate. Lie. Litigate. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
If things get really ugly, the church pulls a Whayne Hougland. Pay a few hundred thousand to make the abuser go away, but do your best to send victims packing with nothing.
So, kudos to TFCA for acting with seeming integrity. We wish our ACNA friends all the best and are happy to help in any way we can.
Below is the church’s statement, reprinted verbatim:
Last fall, The Falls Church Anglican retained an outside independent entity to investigate credible reports of sexual abuse by an employee of the church from 1990-2002 who served as the youth director between 1990-1999.
The investigation is proceeding, and dozens of interviews have been conducted as we seek to understand the truth, despite the passage of time. If you have information, please contact the investigation team at confidentialFCA@islerdare.com
We have also reached out to law enforcement and stand ready to assist or support any processes that law enforcement may seek to pursue.
The leadership of The Falls Church Anglican is deeply grieved by this situation. We acknowledge that the type of conduct we are investigating can have long-lasting impact on those affected, and our goal is not only to bring forth the truth, but also to provide care for those affected. We realize nothing we say or do can change the past, but we pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit and by shining light into the darkness, healing will occur.
While we do not know the exact timeline, TFCA’s rector hopes to provide an update to the congregation in February. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about this matter.