MEMBERS of the Episcopal Church’s clergy and congregation who have suffered injustice have been urged not to go to the press and instead raise complaints internally.
Scotland’s anglican church is currently mired in a bullying scandal following allegations that the Right Rev Anne Dyer, bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, tormented a more junior member of the clergy so badly they considered suicide.
The college of bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church responded to the incident by acknowledging that individuals in its northeast diocese had gone through “deep distress”.
It has been reported by The Times that the group urged those with complaints to either engage in a mediation process with Dyer or raise concerns through its “established processes”.
Serious concerns have been flagged over Dyer’s conduct along with the finances and governance of her diocese in a 122-page report that has been sent to the charity watchdog.
The dossier contains allegations of “egregious” bullying from Dyer that pushed one of her subordinates to the edge.
Henna Cundill, a former trainee priest who eventually left to join the Church of Scotland, said: “I became very concerned in 2020 when one person expressed suicidal thoughts.”
In a statement, the college of bishops said: “We acknowledge that some in the diocese have experienced deep distress.
“We would like to make clear that anyone affected who feels harmed in any way is offered appropriate pastoral care and that claims of misconduct are properly reported and handled.
“We are heartened that the bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney and others in the diocese have engaged with the mediation process and we trust this is helping healing and reconciliation.”
The college of bishops also said it was “very disappointing” that details of the complaint made to the Scottish Charity Regulator were reported by the press.
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“We would strongly urge anyone with complaints either to engage with the mediation process or to submit allegations using the established processes of the church,” the statement added.
Church employees have said that Dyer made their working lives intolerable.
The Rev Dr Isaac Poobalan, rector of St Andrew’s Cathedral in Aberdeen, said Dyer’s behaviour gave him nightmares.
In a written submission, he said: “My health and wellbeing have been stretched to the limits of my capacity to cope.”
Poobalan was suspended via email after he was accused of not giving “absolute obedience” to Dyer before an internal investigation reinstated him.
One employee testimony said: “Anne Dyer resorted to openly deriding this one individual, telling them off in front of others and opposing any ideas which they suggested.
“Their skills and abilities were undermined on an almost daily basis.”
Another said: “On a number of occasions I needed to provide support following events which could have been classed as bullying.”
In 2021 the church refuted claims of bullying that had been reported by The Times as “unsubstantiated and anonymous allegations”.
Weeks later the church commissioned an independent review that was conducted by Professor Iain Torrance, a former Church of Scotland moderator.
Torrance’s report found that Dyer oversaw a culture of “systematic dysfunction” and “bullying” and called for the immediate removal of Dyer from her post.
The findings were rejected by the church’s seven bishops, which include Dyer, and instead endorsed mediation.
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