Wyoming Episcopal bishop deposed over 'indiscretion' with Church member

Bishop Paul-Gordon Chandler of the Episcopal Church in Wyoming being interviewed by Wyoming PBS in January 2022.
Bishop Paul-Gordon Chandler of the Episcopal Church in Wyoming being interviewed by Wyoming PBS in January 2022. | Screenshot: YouTube/Wyoming PBS

A bishop of The Episcopal Church who was based in Wyoming has been deposed from his position following an investigation into a reported “indiscretion” he had with a church member.

The Rt. Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler, bishop of the Episcopal Church in Wyoming, was officially deposed following a Title IV disciplinary investigation, according to an announcement released by the Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs on Wednesday.

“Chandler has voluntarily submitted to a sentence of deposition, which deprives him of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority of God’s word and sacraments conferred at ordination,” the Public Affairs Office stated.

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The deposition came as part of an accord that Chandler agreed to with the Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves, presiding bishop-designate for some Title IV matters, which the Disciplinary Board for Bishops approved.

In a statement to Episcopal News Service, Chandler maintained his innocence regarding the unspecified allegation made against him.

“My decision to voluntarily leave ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church is not in any way an admittance of the specific allegations and charges brought against me,” he said.

“This decision, as difficult as it is, allows me to stay true to myself, as well as to be faithful to my calling: ‘Seeking to enable others to enter a deeper dimension spiritually and experience the beauty of God in fresh ways.’ We have certainly experienced God’s presence throughout this challenging time in profoundly moving ways.”

Chandler was raised in Senegal and had previously served as rector of the Anglican Church in Qatar and rector of the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church in Cairo, Egypt, before becoming Wyoming bishop in February 2021.

Chandler also helped to found CARAVAN, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to use the venue of international arts to advance social change and global peace.

Last October, Chandler was placed on administrative leave due to having a Title IV investigation launched to look into allegations that he violated the laws of The Episcopal Church.

While the specific allegations were never made public, a diocesan standing committee letter last year referred to them as “an alleged indiscretion with a member of our diocesan team.”

In February, the Episcopal Church created a new three-part protocol in which to generate more transparency regarding disciplinary cases made against clergy, especially bishops.

These three elements included a webpage for reporting alleged misconduct, another webpage that gives updates on cases and an annual report documenting complaints.

In a letter sent last month, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry wrote, "experience over the past several years with Title IV matters involving Bishops has given rise to calls for more transparency in the process."

"The protocol will provide for greater transparency around Title IV processes while also appropriately protecting privacy, all in the service of encouraging the goals set out in Canon I of Title IV," he wrote.

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