A Statement from Bishop DeDe: Current Title IV Process and Ongoing Safety Concerns

Dear People of God in Central New York, 

I’m writing to share with you some of what has been happening over the past month and to let you know that today a letter is being released detailing Title IV complaints against nominees for presiding bishop. Normally Title IV complaints remain confidential during the initial phase of inquiry, but the Presiding Bishop has felt it necessary to release this information due to the highly public nature of a presiding bishop election. Title IV is the disciplinary process for clergy.  It is the way we hold ordained persons accountable within the church to the vows they have taken–both those at baptism and those at ordination. 

I am in my eighth year as your bishop. In that time, I had only one Title IV complaint which was dismissed. However, after the slate was announced, a new Title IV complaint was filed from an anonymous source claiming that I had misrepresented my educational background and inflated my qualifications. Based on my limited understanding, the complaint centers on my degree from the Graduate Theological Foundation.

In 2010, I was accepted to a degree-granting program at GTF that was affiliated with Oxford University in the UK. Although GTF was the degree-granting foundation, all of my coursework, research, and defense was completed through Christ Church at Oxford, being tutored by  Oxford faculty. As part of the affiliation,  my papers and projects were assigned,  assessed, and graded by the faculty at GTF. In 2013, I submitted my doctoral thesis and defended my degree at Christ Church before a doctoral panel that included two of my Oxford Tutors and the President of GTF. Throughout my tenure as your bishop, I have welcomed questions about this degree, notably because it was a transformative time and I am proud of this degree! 

And I understand that there might be confusion given the uniqueness of this course of study, and the fact that the degree program is no longer offered at GTF. Be assured that, in response to the Title IV complaint, I have provided these documents substantiating my Ph.D. If I had been asked, I would tell you that this degree is what is commonly referred to as a professional degree or a ‘third tier degree,’ because although GTF was licensed to confer the degree, they were not accredited by the federal government.  As you would expect, and appropriate to the election of a presiding bishop, this past year of discernment has involved extensive background checks, testing, and assessment by the Joint Nominating Committee for the Presiding Bishop. Part of this intensive consideration by the JNCPB included their verification of the authenticity of my academic studies. It is my full expectation that this Title IV will soon be completed and dismissed.

On a related matter, this week I also received an email from a person who has a long history of threatening harm against people in this diocese, specifically the staff of the diocese and me. When threats were received, we took appropriate precautions to ensure everyone’s safety. Most of these threats were verbal, although years ago now, this person did physically confront clergy in a parish setting, and the diocesan staff at the offices.  Please be assured that we continue to closely monitor the safety of all involved, and we have kept in contact with the appropriate authorities to ensure the well-being of the staff. We have also kept the Office of Pastoral Development and the Rt. Rev. Todd Ousely apprised of the situation. 

For too long I have not shared these threats out of a desire not to distract from our shared ministry. We have worked to ensure everyone’s safety while also recognizing this as a pastoral care issue. However, earlier this week I received yet another threat from this person, gloating about the recent Title IV and asserting that social media would now be utilized for these threats, which makes it necessary to share this information with you. We are now thirteen days from the election for the next presiding bishop and it is my expectation that much will be written and said in the public sphere about me. As is always the case, some of what is said will be true, and some will not be. However, your safety and well-being is my primary concern. We have again contacted the appropriate authorities. Yesterday, I also spoke with The Right Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves, Vice-President of the House of Bishops,  as well as Presiding Bishop Curry who encouraged me to stay in contact with law enforcement and has assured me of his prayers and concern. 

I understand that this is a time of anxiety and fear, especially regarding those in power. I also recognize the need to fully vet and know that our leaders are people of integrity, who are dedicated to the gospel of Jesus Christ and working for the benefit of our church and the world. In this time it is essential that we face our fears without dehumanizing or degrading trust in one another. In this diocese, we have weathered the pandemic, changing demographics and challenges, and we continue to celebrate joy, believing what Jesus promises,  “the truth will set us free.” 

I ask your prayers for me, for our staff, for our church and for one another. In this time when there is so much fear and division, may we be united in our shared dedication to God’s work in our midst. My prayer is that it will be our faith, not our fear, our hope in Jesus, not our doubt, that sustains us and heals us. “May God who has begun a good work in us continue until its completion.”  (Philippians 1:6).

To God be the glory, 

+Bishop DeDe Signature

Showing 9 comments
  • Penny Dugas
    Reply

    So sorry you have to deal with this! I will keep you in my prayers.

  • Wendy Douglass
    Reply

    Be assured of our continued prayers and faith.

    • Bishop Dan Edwards
      Reply

      Bishop DeDe,

      Every bishop can attest it is impossible to wear a miter without making enemies — especially among the emotionally disturbed. I am sorry you have this tribulation. I have known you to be an honorable, wise, authentic leader. I pray this nonsense will not be taken seriously by the Church — I know it won’t — and that you may be blessed with calm fortitude in the midst of it.

  • Michele H Morgan
    Reply

    Thank you for your clarity, your work and you love for the people gathered around the altars

  • Kate didonato
    Reply

    Blessings for your physical and mental health

  • The Rev Scott P Bellows
    Reply

    My prayers are with you, Bishop DeDe, and I hope/pray that your continued discernment will keep you ON the slate for P.B. I was excited and truly grateful that your colleagues encouraged your addition to the slate by petition. May God continue to bless you and your colleague episcopal candidates throughout this process.

  • Sarah Kilian
    Reply

    Thank you for the thorough explanation. I am sorry you have to deal with these very frustrating matters. Continued prayers, and good luck!

  • Reply

    I’m sorry this is happening and you have to (needlessly) defend your credentials in this way. I offer my prayers for your own health and wellbeing through this process, even as you continue to be a faithful bishop and pastor to your diocese in the midst of threats to their safety and wellbeing.

  • Rev’d Canon Johnnie E. Ross
    Reply

    You have done nothing wrong, Bishop DeDe and you remain a bishop with integrity, strong, intelligent, deeply spiritual and leadership skills that are second to no one’s. Hang in there and don’t be intimidated or pushed around by anyone. The Graduate Theological Foundation keeps a lists of Episcopal bishops and clergy who completed their theological studies at various institutions and tailored the course work to their educational interests and needs. Blessings & Peace!

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