Showing posts with label Sven vanBaars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sven vanBaars. Show all posts

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Victims of Abuse Beware: Sven vanBaars Elected as Clergy Delegate




Well, it is official: The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia is morally bankrupt. Specifically, the Rev. Sven vanBaars, rector of the Abingdon parish and ethically challenged Title IV intake officer for the diocese, has been elected a clergy delegate to general convention.

Why do I say that vanBaars is morally bankrupt? Because he has said, in writing, that he will only address illegal clergy conduct if criminal charges are brought.

That’s right. Assuming he has the integrity to be consistent with his reasoning in the Bob Malm case, clergy sexual abuse, theft, homicide—you name it—all are okay as long as criminal charges aren’t brought. No investigation required.

The truly scary thing is that vanBaars serves on the diocesan committee on constitution and canons. That’s alongside diocesan chancellor JP Causey who, while respected by the CANA crowd, is so indifferent to the well-being of church members that he allegedly tells the bishops to ignore the canonical requirement of a pastoral response in Title IV cases. Damn the canons—protect the bureaucracy at all costs. Don’t get too involved, lest you place yourself at legal risk.

That’s a shame, for when you lose sight of the importance of caring about other people, you lose sight of what it means to be a Christian. 

As I have said before, Christianity and the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement are two very different and disconnected things.

Meanwhile, my advice to those hurt by the church is this: Don’t go to the diocese. And don’t go to Sven vanBaars. Both lack compassion. Both lack understanding. Both lack integrity.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Ethics Alert! Ethically Challenged Sven vanBaars Seeks to Represent DioVA at General Convention

Clergy sexual assault survivors beware! The Rev. Sven vanBaars, who is one of the diocesan Title IV intake officers and has stated in writing that he will only address illegal conduct by clergy if they face criminal charges, is seeking election as a diocesan delegate to the next general convention. This spells bad news as #churchtoo and #metoo victims seek to make church a safe space for survivors.

For those new to the discussion, Sven issued a dismissal, approved by Bishop Susan Goff and upheld by the Rev. Melissa Hollerith, stating the he could not conclude that Bob Malm committed perjury, as the latter had not been criminally charged for doing so.

This is problematic for several reasons, including the fact that perjury is a notoriously difficult crime to charge and, much like clergy sexual abuse, local officials typically are reluctant to pursue cases against clergy. Yet Title IV expressly forbids clergy from engaging in “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;” no criminal charges required.

Moreover, Sven himself violated the express provisions of Title IV by copying Bob Malm on his notice. By doing so, he violated the confidentiality provisions enacted at the last General Convention, which expressly forbid identifying the complainant to the respondent. Yet he attempted to silence me by asserting that I am obligated to treat the matter as confidential. This is not the case, for with the exception of one recently enacted provision, Title IV does not apply to laity. And it certainly does not apply to persons who have left the church.

To make matters worse, Sven serves on the diocesan committee on constitution and canons. Given his inability to parse even basic Title IV issues successfully, his violation of Title IV, and his broken pastoral ethics, this is an alarming proposition.

And, if that isn’t enough, it is not the role of the intake officer to determine whether perjury occurred. Per the canons, their role is to assume the matter complained of to be true, then:

  • Assess whether the violation complained of, if true, would constitute a violation of the canons.
  • Assess whether the violation complained of, if true, would be of “weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church
Nothing more. Nothing less. Clearly, Sven either doesn’t understand his role, or he deliberately sidestepped it.

So, if you’ve ever experienced abuse of any sort in a church setting, just know that Sven vanBaars applies a “no criminal charges, no Title IV violation” policy. In other words, even clergy sexual abuse is okay, as long as the police don’t get involved.

Truly alarming stuff.

Copy of Sven’s written Title IV dismissal available at https://www.gracealexwatch.org/2019/09/breaking-sven-vanbaar-former-candidate.html





Monday, September 30, 2019

Breaking: Sven vanBaar, Former Candidate for Bishop Diocesan of Southern VA, Displays Questionable Ethics, Judgment

Some time ago, the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia elected the Rev. Susan B. Haynes as bishop diocesan. Because her consecration still must be approved by a majority of bishops in the House of Bishops, I wanted to make sure that diocesan officials understand the profound concerns I have about Sven’s qualifications. With that in mind, here is the email I sent to the search committee, together with the attachments.












Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Rev. Melissa Hollerith Confirms that Perjury is Okay for Episcopal Clergy Absent Conviction

Check it out: Melissa Hollerith, wife of the Dean of Washington National Cathedral, today confirmed in writing that perjury is acceptable conduct for Episcopal clergy in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Here is her memo:

And here is my response:



It is small wonder that, with so little ethical reference point, the Episcopal Church is collapsing. Indeed, the world will be a better place without it.