Anglican Watch

The curious case of former Episcopal priest Mark Hansen

Mark Hansen, former Episcopal priest

Imagine: You work for IBM. You quit showing up for work. You are insubordinate.

After much back and forth, your boss fires you. Yet a few years later, you’re back in a similar gig, only this time as a volunteer.

Does that sound like a good move on your part? Or for IBM?

Yet that mirrors the events surrounding former Episcopal priest Mark Hansen, one of the so-called Connecticut Six, who acted in opposition to the ordination of openly gay Gene Robinson as bishop.

As part of his protest, Hansen:

  • Stopped forwarding parish funds to the diocese;
  • Sought alternative oversight for his parish;
  • Held a secret vote to disaffiliate from the Episcopal church;
  • Forbade his bishop from visiting the church;
  • Took an unauthorized sabbatical; and
  • Lied about several of these issues when inhibited.

To see Hansen’s lies, compare his denials here with his subsequent comments to VirtueOnline.

Among the inconsistencies are his claims that he wanted to stay part of TEC and his statement that the parish vestry held a secret vote to authorize disaffiliation. Similarly, he says he never denied the bishop the opportunity to visit; later, he states that the vestry approved this policy.

Ultimately, the diocese defrocked Hansen and took over the parish. 

And there is a difference between disagreeing with the decision to ordain Gene Robinson and behaving like this. Priests vow to uphold higher standards. Hansen’s conduct doesn’t even rise to the level of acceptable.

Flash forward, and guess who’s the “steady companion” of Heather Cook, the bishop suffragan of Maryland defrocked after killing someone in a DUI?

You guessed it.

That right there should have raised questions about Cook. While being a clergy spouse never is easy, there should be some standards. Living together with the seemingly divorced Hansen? Someone who openly defied his bishop and plotted in secret? Who, to our knowledge, has never renounced his insubordination?

It gets better. 

Hansen serves as the lay pastor of St. Clement’s Episcopal in Maryland. Part of the Diocese of Easton, the church has 18 people in the pews on an average Sunday. Unfortunately, that’s not uncommon in the faltering Diocese of Easton.

But we do believe that serving as a leader implicates issues of integrity. And we see no signs that Hansen is someone we’d trust.

Indeed, this seems like giving the bank robber the combination to the vault.

Perhaps the issue is that there’s no one else willing to do the job. Or maybe Hansen has gotten his act together behind the scenes.

But as someone who made headlines in his efforts to disrupt the Episcopal Church, it seems a sad day when Hansen is “serving” any parish. And how will he respond if someone LGBTQ+ in his parish asks to discern a calling?

There are more questions than answers in all of this. But the questions we have are troubling.

Cook ignored Anglican Watch’s request to interview her for this and another article.

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