A story about leaving the Episcopal ordination discernment process and searching for a new vocation at 36.
A quick warning for potential readers: First, I apologize in advance for how long this post is going to be. This whole experience has given me so much to think about, and it has taken the better part of two years for me to start making sense of it. If reading long-winded stories about church is not your thing, feel free to skip this one. I won’t be offended.
More importantly, it’s worth mentioning that although I have benefited immensely from the time, energy, and prayer I invested in the Episcopal discernment process between 2016 and 2022, I’ve come to believe that it is irreparably and inexcusably broken, in a way that no simple tinkering or minor adjustments will help fix. Among other things, it has not kept pace with the spiritual and social realities of a rapidly changing world, and I believe that it is at least partly to blame for the present TEC clergy shortage. Complaints, however, are still usually met either with a shrug (“Yeah, it’s a broken process, but it’s what we have, and what else can we do?”) or otherwise endless attempts to justify how long and expensive and — in some cases — abusive it can be (“You think you had it bad? Well, let me tell you about my ordination discernment…”). I am not interested in excuses or justifications. What follows is simply my personal experience, and I feel that it’s important to tell it, even if for no other reason than the fact that it will allow me to move on with my life.
Saying Goodbye to a Calling
Sometimes a problem is so big and has so many complicated and interweaving threads that it is hard to know how to begin articulating just what exactly the problem is in the first place. On the surface, there’s no single thing I can point to from my experience that seems bad enough to warrant the term abuse,1 and yet that’s the only word that comes to mind when I try to describe my experience as a whole. What I’ve written here does not include everything that led me to my decision to exit the Episcopal discernment process — I have years’ worth of notes and other records that I’m happy to share with anyone who asks — but it does represent a general impression of my overall experience with the process, and I’m offering it freely in the hope that it might encourage others who have been similarly mistreated by the authority structures of the Church to know that they are not alone. I should also stress again from the very beginning that everything that follows is from my own personal perspective, though in most cases I do have witnesses or other records to verify my account.
One last thing: I have no complaint whatsoever against any of the parishioners at my former church. I am proud of the work that I did during my time there, and I still care very much for each and every one of them. I know that unhealthy congregations can often bear as much responsibility for abusive behavior as pastors, but I want to emphasize that this has not been the case for me.
How It Started, How It’s Going
For those who do not know me very well, a little bit of backstory might be helpful for context. In 2015, my wife Alyssa and I moved from Kansas City to Denver so I could work on a PhD in New Testament at the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology. Our first week in town, our friends Kyle and Piper invited us to go to church with them, and after showing up for the first time we realized that their church was House For All Sinners and Saints, an ELCA Lutheran congregation led by writer, speaker, and pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber.
Alyssa and I were both fresh out of Central Seminary, a progressive American Baptist theological school in Kansas City, and we were eager to help out and participate in the life of the church community in any way we were most useful. (Personally, I fell in love with the place when I saw heavily tatted LGBTQ folks worshiping together in a circle around a very traditional-looking altar, chanting the Kyrie while wreathed by puffs of smoky incense. It was at that moment I knew these were my people.) It wasn’t long before Fr. Reagan, the Episcopal priest who was the full-time pastor at House For All at the time, reached out to ask if I would be willing to preach.
Although I had been speaking in churches for years, under Reagan and Nadia’s guidance and encouragement I completely relearned how to preach. Gradually, my sermons stopped sounding like expository speeches on the Bible, and instead became hopeful reflections on where I saw the Kingdom of God at work among our community, in my own life and in the lives of others.
Accepting that I might actually have an unexplored call to ministry, I began meeting with my priest one-on-one for several months, and attended our diocese’s annual Road to Ministry Leadership seminar (twice — meaning I had to wait another year for the next seminar to come around again before I could officially start discerning). After convening an ordination discernment committee, we met for nearly 18 months, at which point I compiled endless folders of paperwork, personal reflections, and financial documents, and spent hours in one-on-one sessions for psychological and medical evaluation.
For several reasons that would take too long to explain here, my discernment committee process in Colorado was an especially lengthy and difficult one. (Even by Episcopal standards, 18 months of discernment is a bit unusual.) But in hindsight, it was also a time of great spiritual and emotional growth, and my experience of pursuing ordained ministry alongside my community at House For All made me resolve to live the rest of my life as honestly and as gently as possible. It is a promise that I hope I have kept, even as I have drifted away from active church ministry.
Finally, in October of 2018, I attended a Commission on Ministry gathering at Cathedral Ridge, the Diocese of Colorado’s retreat center in the Rocky Mountains. I took part in a dozen hour-long interviews with various clergy and laity, finance experts and psychologists, as well as the bishop himself, and over the weekend was moved to tears more than once by what I believed to be the power of God working decisively in my own life and in the lives of the people around me. At the end of the retreat, everyone hugged and blessed one another, and I returned home to await the bishop’s final decision.
A month later, a vague and slightly confusing letter finally arrived:
I am mindful that participating in this kind of intensive discernment process has asked much of you, and I am deeply grateful to you for making yourself available to God and to the Church in this way. Although I explained as we began the conference that I would respond by giving you a simple “yes” or “no,” I think that in your case, I would like to propose an alternative way forward in this discernment process...It is more than can be included in a letter, however, and really requires some conversation — which we can have on December 4.
The “alternative way forward” that the bishop mentioned in his letter turned out to be an invitation, in his words, to “push the pause button” on my discernment process before advancing to postulancy. In a private meeting that included only me and my priest, the bishop told us, “The Commission on Ministry unanimously agreed that you have the gifts and calling for the priesthood, but there were a couple of members who believed that it was important that you should finish your dissertation first. So, I invite you to ‘push the pause button’ on your discernment, finish your dissertation, and then pick up where you left off once you’ve finished your degree.”
This seemed reasonable to me. But over the previous year or two of discernment, I had become increasingly convinced that ministering within an urban setting was not for me. With the country as divided as ever following the 2016 election, and with progressive urbanites unwilling or unable to understand the political frustrations of poor white rural folks (and vice versa), more and more I had felt called to return to rural Missouri, both to practice the ministry of reconciliation and to try to bring with me the same passion for hospitality, deep relationships, and lay-driven worship that we had experienced at House For All.
“I may have a ministry internship opportunity at a small Episcopal parish in southeast Missouri that could use an extra hand. Would it be okay if I returned home to finish my dissertation, and then picked up with my discernment from there?” I asked.
“I don’t see why not,” the bishop said. “The Bishop of Missouri is a friend of mine. I’ll contact him and let him know about your situation.”
So, in early 2019, while still living in Colorado, Alyssa and I put our Kansas City home up for sale and started looking for a house in Cape Girardeau. In the meantime, the Bishop of Colorado retired, and a new bishop was consecrated in May of 2019. A month later in early June, we loaded up a moving truck, said our goodbyes to the most loving and supportive church community we’d ever known, received a parting blessing, and drove to our new home.
New Diocese, New Rules?
Since relocating back to Missouri in 2019, however, I have been belittled, bullied, and gaslighted by priests. I have seen serious concerns regarding clerical misconduct go unaddressed and completely ignored. And I have seen “discernment” used, not as an opportunity to seek the will of God actively and collectively by the community of the faithful, but instead as a disingenuous means for institutional bodies to deflect, defer, and prevaricate.
The first priest I worked under maintained shockingly poor boundaries between her personal and work life, and was often passive-aggressive and condescending, sometimes to an extent bordering on verbal and emotional cruelty. During the days I worked in the church office, she would spend hours complaining to me about her parishioners and fellow clergy, diagnosing them with various mental illnesses behind their backs and without the professional qualifications to do so, accusing them of having various “personality disorders,” or being “narcissists,” or having “mommy issues,” claiming that they had problems with her because she is a woman. She once even privately mocked a parishioner who had been frightened by a recent stage-1 cancer diagnosis: “Stage-1 cancer? C’mon, that’s nothing.”
This priest also harbored a strange resentment toward younger people and made frequent comments suggesting that young adults are incapable of depth, understanding, or genuine spiritual insight (a perspective that tragically ignores much of the witness of the biblical narrative). When I took palm ashes to the local university campus for Ashes-to-Go on Ash Wednesday, she scolded me when I returned, claiming that college students “aren’t spiritually mature enough to understand what’s happening” during the imposition of ashes. In her sermons, she would often ramble about the importance of “the wisdom of the elders,” but she never specified which elders, and I always got the distinct impression that when she spoke glowingly of their wisdom, she was really talking about herself.
Shortly after I began working for the church, the priest called me into her office and directed me not to count time spent at Sunday-morning worship toward my work hours. I said that would be fine, but maintaining good boundaries for me meant that I would not be doing any work related to my job description on Sunday mornings if I was not allowed to count them toward my 15-hour-a-week position. Later that year, she pressured me into making the drive back from my in-laws’ house in St. Louis to attend our parish’s Christmas Eve service — a service I was not being paid to attend — suggesting that I could never be a priest if I was unable to remain committed to being present at every liturgy. So I drove two hours south on a cold, dark December evening, attended the service, and drove two hours back to be with my family on Christmas morning, because I was afraid that my postulancy depended on it.
Proudly skeptical of anything to do with technology, the priest often criticized me for the amount of church work that I did on my laptop — work that later provided a critical foundation for helping the parish stay open and connected during Covid lockdowns. When she asked me to take over designing and printing the Sunday bulletin each week, on two or three occasions she criticized me for getting a hymn number wrong, saying, “Never in my thirty years of ordained ministry have I seen this kind of inattentiveness.” She was very fond of emphasizing exactly how long she had been a priest.
For the record, I don’t mind receiving guidance and correction. Having been a grad student in the humanities and religion for more than a decade, I used to joke that my part of my vocation was being “a professional wrong-opinion-haver.” But so much of my experience with Episcopal leadership has been marked by a disturbing head-patting paternalism. This priest’s instruction was anything but gentle, humble encouragement. I was often left with the impression that she cared more about “keeping score” to make sure that I knew my place than she did about offering any genuinely helpful guidance.
When we thought we still might be able to gather for Holy Week 2020, a few church employees and lay leaders stayed after the eucharist one Sunday to discuss how to handle the traditional observances for Good Friday, including reverencing the cross, when social distancing had been mandated. My church back in Denver used to give everyone a purple tulip on their way into the sanctuary on Good Friday, and during the service parishioners were encouraged to lay their flowers on the crucifix as a form of reverence (among other more traditional forms). After the liturgy, we would gather up the tulips and solemnly process to a nearby location where someone had been killed by gun violence. We’d lay the flowers at the site where the person had died, and then say a prayer together for them and for all victims of violence and injustice. When I asked if our parish had access to fresh flowers so that we might try something similar, she sneered and cut me off — “Flowers are for happy occasions,” she said, shaking her head dismissively, “Good Friday should be like a funeral service.”
On another occasion, I was working in the church office when the priest came down from her second-floor study, showed me a copy of Marion Hatchett's Commentary on the American Prayer Book, and asked, “Are you familiar with this book?” When I told her I was not familiar with it, she said, “See, if you’d have gone to an Episcopal seminary, you’d know all about it. It’s a standard textbook.” And then, offering no further explanation, she immediately retreated upstairs to her office again, leaving me sitting there alone, confused, and ashamed of my ignorance. “Micro-passive-aggressions” like this occurred almost daily, and I know several former parishioners and church employees who also witnessed the same type of behavior.
At this point, I feel it’s important to underscore the fact that all of this took place in a context in which there was clearly an imbalanced power dynamic at work, and one in which I remained extremely isolated. As a recent transplant from Colorado to Missouri, I’d not yet had the opportunity to establish a network of close friends and colleagues who could help me understand and process what I was experiencing, so all of this just felt like what’s normal for someone discerning a call to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church, at least in this diocese.
After I had worked under her for nearly a year, the priest retired during the summer of 2020, leaving me with the responsibility for checking in on parishioners and keeping the church’s food pantry up and running in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. Her parting gift was a last-minute revision to my job description so that it explicitly excluded the possibility of working from home.
With the former full-time priest gone, and the arrival of our new part-time regional missioner still months away, a lot of the day-to-day church operations fell to me. When the diocese issued new social-distancing guidelines based on maximum building occupancy, I noticed that the sanctuary and parish hall did not have any occupancy signage posted (which is required by law). I worked with the fire marshal’s office to establish the official measurements of the church’s gathering spaces, and in the process learned that we had not had a fire-safety inspection in years under the former priest, and that all of our fire extinguishers were outdated. Similarly, whenever the church basement flooded, or a leaky roof caused interior damage to our sanctuary walls, I met and worked with contractors to get the appropriate repairs scheduled, relaying the information to the Vestry.
Our new bishop was ordained and consecrated in June of 2020. In October of that year, after a single conversation on Zoom that lasted 45 minutes, the bishop decided that I should start the discernment process over again from the beginning, telling me that I needed to work on being “more vulnerable”.
Immediately after the call ended, I walked across the street to the empty church and for more than an hour laid down on the cold hardwood floor in silence. Staring up at the timbered ceiling of the nave, thinking back on the last four years of intense personal struggle and spiritual growth, I considered the prospect of reliving it all again and couldn’t find the strength to do anything other than lie there on the floor and weep.
To this day, it still has never been clearly explained to me why my former bishop’s decision was not honored, and both priests I worked under here in Missouri accused me of lying to congregants about how far I had progressed in my discernment before we left Colorado.
Both the former rector and the new priest repeatedly questioned my developmental disability. The former suggested on several occasions that my ADHD symptoms represented a spiritual failure of “mindfulness.” When, out of fear of forgetting something important, I picked up the coping habit of taking detailed notes during every meeting I attended, the second priest accused me of writing everything down so that I “wouldn’t have to listen to other people”.
The most heartbreaking action that both priests took together, without first confronting me or even giving me any indication that there was a problem, involved reporting to the bishop and the Canon for Evangelism and Discipleship Development that I have “a problem with women in ministerial authority”. Not only am I married to a woman with the exact same seminary credentials that I have, but every church that we have attended together since 2012 has been led by a woman. (“Literally every single thing they think about us is a presumption,” Alyssa later reflected on the whole experience. “Because they never took the time to actually get to know either of us.”) When I told the bishop how hurtful and untrue their accusation was, I was told simply, “Perception is reality.”
Over time, I started to dread coming in to work. Not because I didn’t feel called to ministry and not because I didn’t love the People of God, but because the constant willingness of church leaders to strain gnats while swallowing camels left me feeling exhausted, frustrated, and entirely confused. The former priest admonished that “Ministry is about community, not celebrity,” and suggested that I was standing by and offering “facile criticism” instead of “just doing what needs to be done.” She also insinuated that I was chasing after fame, presumably because one of the few things she knew about me was that I had previously attended a church led by a famous pastor. (For what it’s worth, if it was celebrity that I was really after, I would have just stayed in Denver instead of moving back to an obscure, semi-rural town in southern Missouri with only one Episcopal parish. I came here because I felt called to do so, not because I wanted to be famous.)
For the first year of her ministry, the new priest — a recently appointed regional missioner who was also a friend of the former rector — lived two hours away and was rarely present in the community except for the two Sundays a month she was scheduled to preside over the eucharist. More than once during this time, a parishioner died without receiving a visit from their new priest. Whenever this happened, diocesan and priestly leadership pivoted to insist that pastoral caregiving was the responsibility of every parishioner, not just that of the priest.
Very early in her tenure, the new priest began to surround herself with a small group of Vestry members who were either unwilling or unable to challenge any decision she made. This included the appointment of a “co-senior-warden” who saw it as his personal duty to rubber-stamp anything the new priest proposed.
On at least one occasion, the priest refused to consider a younger parishioner (in their mid-30s) who wanted to serve on the Vestry, and when questioned about it at the 2021 annual parish meeting she openly misled the congregation about it, claiming that the parishioner was not eligible to run for Vestry for specific reasons established in the parish bylaws — which at the time she knew to be untrue, as I had previously informed her several times, both in person and in writing. Whenever a Vestry member did attempt to push back against or question the priest’s decisions, they were disregarded, excluded, and had their concerns stricken from the meeting minutes.
Back when I was still allowed to preach at our parish, I stood in front of tired, broken people who needed hope, proclaiming to them the Good News that the Kingdom of God is among us and that God loves us exactly as we are, all while steadily losing confidence that my priest or the rest of the Church hierarchy would ever extend that same grace to me.
The new priest criticized my preaching style for being “too vulnerable,” and advised me to share my stories in the third person, presenting my experiences to the congregation as though they belonged to someone else. She said that when a preacher is vulnerable with their congregation, they run the risk of “becoming codependent with them.” When I did not take her advice, she abruptly removed me from the preaching roster altogether and replaced me with a parishioner who had recently joined the parish. One of the last sermons I heard at the church concluded with this new guest preacher thanking God for the conversion of Jews and Muslims to Christianity.
Late in 2021, shortly after my second congregational discernment committee concluded their eight months of work and enthusiastically recommended me for ordination, I received a phone call from the new priest while I was working in the church office. She angrily accused me of spreading a rumor among the congregation that I had been “fired” from my role. To this day, I honestly have no idea how anyone got that impression. Wherever that rumor originated, it was not with me. When I asked about the committee’s recommendation and what the next steps of the process might be, she told me flatly, “Now is not a good time to ask me about that.”
A compromise came sometime around November or December. After being summoned to St. Louis for a meeting with the bishop and the Canon for Evangelism and Discipleship Development, I was given the opportunity to step down from my role as the “ministry intern” and begin a new position as a lay campus chaplain at the local university where I also currently teach part-time. Although I did not feel called to campus ministry — and explicitly mentioned this to the Canon — I agreed to the change because I felt I had no other options. Our new priest told me that my ability to move forward in the discernment process was dependent upon my job performance in a role I have never once claimed as my vocation.
Unfortunately, there was even less accountability in this position than in my previous role. I became even further removed and alienated from the congregation. The advisory committee for the lay chaplaincy consisted of our new priest, her co-senior-warden, and one of the priest’s personal friends who belonged to a different denomination. When I expressed concern about this arrangement to the Diocese, I was told bluntly that I did not have a say in the matter: “You do not get to pick your own supervisors.”
Because there was no existing infrastructure for an Episcopal campus ministry at this school, I set up shop in the Starbucks at the university student center three days a week for office hours. I ran Facebook ads to try to build up some local interest, encouraging students and faculty to join me. I hosted morning prayer on the terraces every Thursday. I scrounged up nearly a dozen beds for international students — along with blankets, sheets, and pillows — when we found out that many of our students from India were sleeping on the floors of their apartments. I even partnered with another campus ministry to establish a community garden for international students, where our hope is to grow vegetables from around the world to help make the students feel a little more at home. And yet, every single week I felt pressure from the advisory committee that I was not doing enough, that I was not worth the money I was being paid, that I was lazy and ineffective.
When I mentioned that I would like to request funding to purchase a few copies of the Book of Common Prayer to give away to students on campus, the priest told me that “the BCP isn’t a good introduction to what Episcopalians believe,” that “it’s going to be revised soon, anyway” and that “the new version is going to be all online.” So I quietly bought a half-dozen copies with my own money to give away to students, instead.
In June 2022, after six months of being nit-picked and micromanaged by the advisory committee at the end of every week, I was offered an amazing full-time benefited job working remotely for a company that respects my skills and supports my basic financial needs. It’s not the most soul-sustaining work, but they treat me like a capable adult, and my bosses are generous and kind. When I submitted my resignation from my campus ministry position, after a significant period of silence I received an email from my priest containing a single question about how the announcement of my departure should be worded in the parish newsletter. That was the extent of any official communication regarding my resignation. There was no perfunctory “We’re sorry to see you go.” I was given no exit interview, and to this day (more than a year later), no clergy from my church or from the diocesan office have checked in with me about discernment, about my sense of vocation, or expressed even the slightest curiosity about my reasons for leaving the position. From what I can tell, it was just assumed that I was leaving the church altogether.
And this, at the end of the day, is what I think really gets to the heart of my experience: A complete and total failure of even the most basic principles of pastoral care. I’ve gone to a psychologist for evaluation. I saw a therapist regularly for years, routinely spoke with a spiritual director throughout my time in discernment, both in Colorado and in Missouri. These are all great and healthy steps to take (even if a bit pricey). But what I have not experienced since relocating from Colorado to Missouri is a relationship with an active priest who genuinely believes in me and supports my call.
I have prayed and reflected on my experience and my actions, I have searched my heart, and I just cannot identify any single thing that I have done that might warrant the way I have been treated. I am left with the unsettling feeling that my case represents a failure of discernment — not on my part, or that of the congregations and communities who have nurtured and supported me along my journey — but instead on the part of Church leadership.
This is not at all to say that I am always right and institutional leadership is always wrong, or that I have done nothing worthy of criticism. I am not unaware of my own self-righteous tendencies. My experience has not led me to believe that everyone should abandon the Church, and I also recognize that those who are most likely to see God’s grace in action are the ones who stick around after they’ve been wounded. Community belongs to those who show up. This is why, as I tell my New Testament students, so many early Christian writers place a heavy emphasis on sacred persistence as a means of attaining salvation. The painful process of interpersonal conflict and reconciliation is the refining fire by which grace is made tangible in Christian communities; it is a witness to the ongoing presence of the Risen Lord among us. If we all threw up our hands and stomped off every time we got our feelings hurt, very quickly we would find ourselves bitter and entirely alone.
At the same time, all of this is why it took me so long to arrive at a decision to exit the process. I agonized over it, and I am heartbroken by it. From the very first time I was wounded by the process, I have had to balance my anger and grief with the possibility that I am indeed the one in the wrong, that I am in need of correction, obedience, and greater trust in those who have been ordained to the cure of souls. Each time I have been insulted by Christ’s ministers, I have had to ask myself, “Should I leave now, or is this another opportunity for grace to take root in my spirit?” This inner cycle of self-assurance and self-debasement makes it shockingly difficult to know when the time is right to say, enough is enough.
What’s Next, God?
No doubt, you could easily find two priests and a bishop who would tell you that it was entirely my decision to walk away. And to a large degree, that would be true. I also realize that by sharing this story I have probably burned a few professional bridges, and I accept the responsibility and the consequences for that. I don’t expect my story to change anyone’s minds or suddenly throw open some doors to vocational opportunities that weren’t there before.
Mostly, my hope is that sharing about my own struggles might help someone else who may be going through something similar. One of the most eye-opening realizations that I have gained in the past several years is just how many others within the Episcopal Church have similar stories about their time in the discernment process. If you are one of those people, I want you to know beyond a shadow of a doubt:
You are not alone.
You are not crazy.
It is not your fault.
And I want you to remember that Jesus Christ is so much bigger than the broken and abusive institutions that claim him as their foundation.
I get that the Church is not a democracy, and that obedience isn’t really obedience if you only obey when you feel like it, or if you happen to agree with the decisions being made. And I also understand that in the grand scheme of things, I am a very small and entirely replaceable piece of the Church, and that I shouldn’t expect anyone to go out of their way to accommodate my personal sense of a call. And I’ve learned that so much of my life to this point has been one giant object lesson in how “it hurts you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14).
But I am also convinced that as long as authority within the Church continues to be understood as dominative rather than collaborative, churches will continue to hemorrhage members and lose candidates with the most enthusiasm for ministry, no matter who is in charge or how progressive or inclusive they may be. If the trending data is correct and Episcopal Church membership finally collapses within the next 25–30 years, it will not be because we were not welcoming enough, inclusive enough, or anti-racist enough. It will be because we were too proud to rethink our relationship to power and how that power is wielded with so little care and accountability.
As I’ve come to understand it, discernment is supposed to be about reaching a prayerful clarity and confidence that God, our creator and the ground of our being, is directing your path in a particular way, a way that is not always easy or comfortable, but a way that can be trusted nonetheless. But now, more than seven years after I first started my priestly discernment in Colorado, I’m as lost and confused as ever. My life feels disoriented, destabilized, without support or purpose. I have spent my entire adulthood journeying toward this calling, on a path that began even before I turned 18 years old, and now, without it, I just feel aimless.
It’s possible that I’m not the kind of minister that the Church needs right now. And I’m gradually learning to accept that (even though every neuron in my head resists the idea). But either way, the truth is that I just don’t have the time or the enthusiasm to keep working with an institution that refuses to trust my skills and experience enough to treat me like a competent coworker for the Gospel.
In the end, I realized that I was spending so much of my time and resources trying to convince such a small group of skeptical priests of my calling that I ended up neglecting the much deeper and broader passion that had stirred up my sense of vocation in the first place: My enduring love for bringing people together into a community.
To me, a priest is not a CEO or the manager of a nonprofit service organization. A priest is not a “life coach”. A priest is someone who simply makes God real to people, whose presence in the community gives concrete shape to the promise of God’s mercy and reconciliation at work among us here and now. I’ve been in discernment long enough to experience the Episcopal process more as a distraction than a facilitation of this sort of work.
I still believe in God, and I believe in Jesus Christ as the one who was sent to reconcile a universe wandering in exile back to its Creator. I will continue to pray my Anglican rosary, muddle through the daily office when I can, and uphold my baptismal vows to the best of my ability. I will continue to teach seminarians about the sweeping love story of the New Testament, preparing future ministers for a vocation that, as far as I can tell, has been closed off to me. I will continue to preach the Good News whenever the invitation is extended, to help people in need, to pray for and bless those who grieve, and to invite everyone to gather around the table of grace, because I have experienced that grace over and over again in my own life, and feel a compulsion somewhere deep within me to share it with others who may need it as much as I do.
Although a remarkably common phenomenon, nonsexual clergy abuse is under-reported and under-researched. See Marlis Krueger, “Clergy Nonsexual Misconduct in Protestant Churches: A Qualitative Study,” PhD dissertation, California Southern University, 2018. According to Krueger, nonsexual clergy abuse can include activities like “working outside [one’s] area of competence, breaking confidentiality, gossiping about parishioners, harmful boundary violations, conflicts of interest, abuse of power, financial malfeasance, [and] illegal behavior” (15).