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.