Please read below for an important update from the Standing Committees and a note from Bishop Singh.
Friends in Christ,
Over the last few months, our dioceses have walked alongside our bishop provisional, the Rt. Rev. Prince Singh, as he’s responded to and participated in a Title IV investigation in light of allegations raised this summer by his two sons and ex-wife (click here for a previous communication regarding this case). Following the process set forth in our Episcopal Church canons, our role was to remain neutral and take action should charges and/or actions be brought as a result of the investigation. As Joint Standing Committees, we have been in frequent conversation, monitoring the response and feedback from the dioceses as well as extensive conversation taking place across The Episcopal Church about our Title IV process and approach to bishop discipline.
Yesterday, we were notified by those overseeing the matter that the bishop has been placed on restriction from ministry (click here for yesterday’s notice to the dioceses.)
Our Standing Committee Presidents have met with Bishop Singh and reached a mutual decision: it is time for him to step down as our bishop provisional, allowing him to focus on the next phase of the Title IV process, his family, and his personal well-being, and allowing our dioceses to step ahead in forward-thinking mission together, focused on our collective ministry and ongoing discernment. The bishop’s resignation is effective as of today.
We have been able to identify and address preliminary next steps. Here’s what we anticipate at this moment:
- Our Joint Standing Committees once again hold the ecclesiastical authority of our dioceses, according to church canon. We are actively identifying an “assisting bishop” to offer pastoral presence for our diocesan and parish leaders on a temporary basis. Assisting bishops are already consecrated bishops (often retired) who take on specific responsibilities for a diocese.
- At this time, we anticipate calling for a new “bishop provisional,” beginning a search as soon as possible, identifying candidates, conducting interviews with an appointed search committee, and – God willing – facilitating an election next Spring during a special convention, where we are likely to also consider the question of juncture between our dioceses.
- Regretfully, all upcoming scheduled bishop visitations are canceled. The diocesan office will be in touch to formally communicate this cancellation. If schedules allow, our diocesan canon staff members have indicated a willingness to be present in lieu of an official episcopal visitation, whether celebrating the Eucharist or guest-preaching.
- The diocesan confirmation scheduled for next Saturday, September 16th in Alpena will take place as scheduled, the Rt. Rev. Douglas Sparks (Northern Indiana) celebrating.
We have scheduled two opportunities to meet via Zoom with parish leaders in light of this news:
- With Clergy during our already-scheduled All Clergy Call on Tuesday, September 19th at 1pm.
- With Senior Wardens on Tuesday, September 19th at 7pm. A Zoom link will be sent directly to Senior Wardens separately from this email. This meeting will also be recorded for Senior Wardens unable to attend in real-time.
We prayerfully recognize that this situation is complex and this news will be received in many ways within and beyond our dioceses. We have tred in these waters before. We have learned much from our previous experience of bishop discipline, both about our imperfect and beloved church and about our resilient and courageous dioceses. We have grown in relationship and in trust of one another across our leadership. We have taken on big questions and come out stronger together on the other side. We will address this new challenge with careful stewardship of our body, compassion for one another, and faith in the One who loves us infinitely more than we could ask or imagine.
Please continue to hold our dioceses in prayer – for our leadership and for one another across our geography. And please pray for Bishop Singh: for his journey ahead, for his family, and for a resolution to be reached.
Yours in Christ,
The Standing Committee of Eastern Michigan
St. John’s, Saginaw
The Rev. Donald Davidson
Resident, Eastern Michigan
St. Paul’s, Flint
St. John’s, Dryden
The Rev. Anna Leigh Kubbe
Resident, Eastern Michigan
The Rev. Jerry Lasley
St. Christopher’s, Grand Blanc
The Standing Committee of Western Michigan
The Rev. Randall Warren, D.Min.
St. Luke’s, Kalamazoo
St. James, Pentwater
The Rev. Molly Bosscher
St. Andrew’s, Grand Rapids
St. Paul’s, St. Joseph
St. Philip’s, Grand Rapids
The Rev. Anne Schnaare
Grace, Grand Rapids
St. Andrew’s, Grand Rapids
The Rev. Eileen Stoffan
St. Paul’s, Muskegon
When I started among you over a year and a half ago, I said, “Transitions are us.” I did not expect mine from you to be so soon or this way. It is with a profound sense of sorrow that I resign as bishop provisional of the Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan.
Throughout my service, I have always sought to lead from a place of moral integrity. The public allegations against me have made it so that is not possible, distracting from the incredible work of these dioceses and the ministry I came to practice among you.
My resignation is not an admission of guilt but intends to remove the distraction from our discernment in these dioceses. I have seen the amazing things you are already doing and see on the horizon amazing opportunities for missional effectiveness through potential juncture. I am sorry for the impact this Title IV situation has had on our work and for any harm this situation may have raised out of past traumas of individuals and communities.
I wish you well as you continue to pursue your discernment in the coming months, led by the Building Bridges team and our wider diocesan leadership! I will pray for you as you journey forward in this Season of Practice.
It has been a privilege to serve among you these nineteen months as a follower of Jesus, the shepherd, and bishop of our souls. I am grateful to the Presiding Bishop and his office, our lay and clergy leaders in ministry here, and our fantastic staff for engaging with me in this privilege and responsibility to serve with you, Eastern and Western Michigan. We have done good work as a team. You are good and faithful people. And while I will not get to the promised land with you, I pray that you will thrive in God’s future with excellent spiritual health, profound wisdom, and renewed joy!
In Paul’s encouragement, “rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.” I love you, and may the grace and peace of God abide with you as you grow from strength to strength.
With unwavering devotion to Christ’s reconciling love,