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Planning Team for House of Bishops’ Pastoral Response presents information on listening session

May 16, 2018
Office of Public Affairs

The Planning Team for the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Response to #MeToo has presented the following information for the Listening Session, which is scheduled for July 4 during General Convention and will focus on listening, liturgy, and steps for healing.

Notes on the Process for the Listening Session for Pastoral Response to #MeToo

The Episcopal Church

July 4, 2018

General Convention 79

Austin, Texas

The letter to our Church inviting reflections on incidents of sexual abuse, harassment and exploitation has generated substantial conversation in our dioceses and on social media platforms in the past few weeks.

The following outline is provided in order to clarify the process that will be used in receiving reflections.

We understand that the process of sharing reflections requires great vulnerability and trust. It is the hope of the bishops that this Listening Session will help us to hear the depth of the woundedness of many of God’s children in the Church and work for healing and wholeness.  We pledge that each letter that we receive will be treated prayerfully and with the utmost confidentiality and respect. 

Confidential reflections may be sent to or mail to House of Bishops’ Pastoral Response, 815 Second Ave., New York NY 10017.  Those who wish to make a submission may write specifics about an experience of sexual abuse, harassment, or exploitation in the Church; or a reflection on how sexual abuse, harassment, or exploitation have impacted one’s life (e.g. relationship with God, with loved ones, vocational opportunities, etc.).

Note:   The identity of the person offering the reflection will be known only to the Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, Bishop for the Office of Pastoral Development, and one of the bishops on the Reading Team.

Submissions will be treated with confidentiality and respect. Bishop Ousley will first read reflections for potential Title IV implications and then the reflection will be sent to one of the team of reading bishops.*

            *Reading bishops will not be the person’s canonical bishop

All submissions will receive a pastoral response from the assigned reading bishop.

Persons submitting a reflection that meets the canonical guidelines for Title IV will also be contacted by Bishop Ousley who will offer ongoing pastoral support.

Confidential pastoral care will be offered during the listening service, throughout General Convention and beyond by certified professionals engaged for this work and by the bishops ongoing pastoral care in each diocese.  Consultation regarding possible Title IV issues will also be available. All conversations with the Pastoral Care Team or Title IV consultants will be confidential.

Of the letters submitted, 10 will be chosen to share at Convention that are representative of the breadth of letters submitted.  The author of those submissions chosen for sharing will be contacted. If editing for length is necessary, the result will not edit the author’s truth.

The Listening Service will be held in the main worship space of General Convention on July 4, from 5:15 pm Central – 7:00 pm and will be webcast for the entirety of our Church so those who would find this helpful may share this moment with us. If this event re-opens wounds, we encourage the individual to do what is most helpful, including reaching out to the Pastoral Care Team at General Convention.

This service has been created specifically for the purpose of hearing the reflections and being transformed by the presence of Jesus in our midst. The liturgical elements will be minimal to allow as many reflections to be shared as time will allow. This is an example of the form:

A brief Gathering Hymn

A period of silence

A Reflection is read

A period of silence

The Kyrie is chanted

A period of silence

A Reflection is read

A period of silence

A brief reading of scripture is offered

The service will also include prayers and lamentations and repentance, including the naming of ways in which bishops and the Church have failed to honor the dignity of every human being.

There will not be a concluding collect or any liturgical moment that suggests this liturgy has concluded our work. The opposite is true; this service is offered by the House of Bishops as a pastoral offering of dedication to do the work before us. Our prayer is that this service will inspire and foster a culture in which each member of the Episcopal Church is empowered and safe to minister in Christ’s name.

This service is offered by the House of Bishops as a pastoral response. A pastoral event of this kind has never been offered before. This will not be a perfect offering; there will be mistakes, but it is our prayer that in those mistakes there will be healing grace; that the courage of those sharing their reflections will be heard with safety, compassion, and mercy; and that all who gather in person or virtually will find they are transformed by the hearing of truth and the power of our liturgical life. It is in our liturgical life that we gather at the most painful times of loss and suffering to find safety, healing, and renewal.

Every precaution has been made to ensure the confidentiality and security of all who courageously speak their truth.

As members of the Planning Team, we believe in the power of speaking truth; we affirm that our liturgical life is at the heart of who we are as God’s people; and that in hearing truth spoken before our gathered body, we will encounter God’s life-giving Spirit.


Blessings of peace and hope for the journey.

House of Bishops’ Pastoral Response to #MeToo Planning Team


The Rt. Rev. DeDe Duncan-Probe, Chair

The Rev. Lucinda Ashby

Mr. Dent Davidson

The Rev. Jeanine Driscoll

The Rt. Rev. Carol Gallagher

The Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves, Vice-President, HOB

The Rt. Rev. Gayle Harris

Canon Robin Hammeal-Urban

The Very Rev. Miguelina Howell

The Rev. Canon Michael H. Hunn

The Rt. Rev. Audrey Scanlan

The Rt. Rev. Kee Sloan

The Rt. Rev. Wayne Smith

The Rt. Rev. Gerry Wolf

Ms. Neva Rae Fox, staff liaison