What To Expect In a Title IV Procedure

The structure, procedure, and process is explained in detail in the Structure and Procedure section of the website. In this part of the General Education and Best Practices section are the ecclesiastical expectations and foundations governing the entire process.

Those in a Title IV process will first see the complaint identified, received, and explored. During this time of initial inquiry, other incidents of concern and some information from witnesses will be gathered. A critical principle is that those involved will be afforded pastoral care; in fact, that pastoral care is required (Title IV.8.) Another critical principle is that the process is one of “truth seeking through active listening.”

Pastoral care is at the heart of expectations for all involved. It can be extended not only to the Complainant and the Respondent, but also to congregations, communities, families, witnesses, and others as determined on a case-by-case basis. The Intake Officer does not provide the pastoral care but notifies the bishop to facilitate care. 

The President of the House of Deputies, The Rev. Gay C. Jennings, says the Title IV process has evolved from the early 90's to take into account the “many and varied interests of the various people involved.” Title IV now has defined roles and support for all participants in this truth seeking process.

The Rev. Gay C. Jennings, President House of Deputies

Title IV seeks to develop an outcome that reflects the values of the church, is collaborative, and leads to reconciliation. In part, Title IV.1 states: By virtue of Baptism, all members of the Church are called to holiness of life and accountability to one another. The Church and each Diocese shall support their members in their life in Christ and seek to resolve conflicts by promoting healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation among all involved or affected.

One avenue to resolve conflict in a simpler and more pastoral manner is the canonical opportunity to have the process stopped through the bishop’s use of an accord and/or Pastoral Direction, especially in the early stages of a Title IV procedure. It is also possible to use the tools of Administrative Leave and Restriction on Ministry. For example, a bishop might place a cleric on Administrative Leave and possibly impose Restrictions on Ministry during the course of the initial inquiry. 

Jane Cisluycis, Operations Coordinator, Diocese of Northern Michigan

Bishop Scott B. Hayashi believes a Pastoral Direction can be an effective tool to address many issues. It can help shield the victim from further harm. The victim no longer has to continue telling his or her story in the process once the determination has been made that a Title IV Offense has been committed, because it is dealt with through a Pastoral Direction.

The Rt. Rev. Scott B. Hayashi, Bishop of Utah

Title IV is intended to be a prayerful and thoughtful process as the Title IV officers conduct their study to determine if the incident in question was true and if it constitutes a Title IV Offense. (Title IV.3 and 4)

The quest for truth and the determination that an incident rises to the level covered by Title IV are not capricious. The Disciplinary Board and bishop are canonically given the trust to seek the truth and determine if an incident or pattern of behavior falls under Title IV. The procedures they follow are structured and defined by the canons. The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, the Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese of Georgia, has also served as an Intake Officer. He says there is every expectation that the process will be transparent to those involved in it as a complaint moves forward.

The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, Canon to the Ordinary, Diocese of Georgia

Bishop Ed Konieczny echoes that the theological foundation of Title IV governs expectations of a Title IV proceeding. Also, a theological foundation furthers the ecclesiastical framework of the proceeding in that it is not driven by punishment or fines.

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Ed Konieczny, Bishop of Oklahoma  

The good news of Jesus leads to some Title IV cases that are not what might be expected at all in a canon on discipline. Yet, the words of Title IV, Canon 1, by promoting healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation among all involved or affected point toward new expectations. The Rt. Rev. Michael Buerkel Hunn, Bishop of the Diocese of Rio Grande, has decades of experience in Title IV matters.

The Rt. Rev. Michael Buerkel Hunn, Bishop of the Diocese of Rio Grande

There is also an expectation of promptness. Examples of canonically required promptness include Title IV.6.7 which requires the Intake Officer promptly to forward complaints that if true, would be Title IV Offenses, to the Reference Panel. Additionally, Restrictions on Ministry (if necessary during the process) are promptly served upon the Member of the Clergy. (Title IV.7.4.) Title IV.13.1 requires prompt notification of the president of the Disciplinary Board if a matter is referred to the Hearing Panel. Other steps also require transparent process.

All parties need to know that the expectation of confidentiality is canonically ensured during the intake and referral stages except as the bishop deems to be pastorally appropriate or as required by law. (Title IV.6.10) Additionally, various investigations and discussions with a conciliator are confidential. However, there is not an expectation of confidentiality if Accords or other interim outcomes are made or the process reaches a Hearing Panel or trial.

Best practices offer an honest assessment that a Complainant’s name may be revealed in certain instances. Canon Robin Hammeal-Urban trains clerics and the laity in understanding and facilitating Title IV processes.

Canon Robin Hammeal-Urban,Esq., Office of Mission Integrity and Training, Diocese of Connecticut

Best practices in facilitating a Title IV proceeding also involve the understanding and expectations of the pain, hurt, and emotions that arise in a Title IV process. Bishops Todd Ousley and Jennifer Baskerville-Borrows recognize the need to “walk with” those in the process who enter either as Complainant or Respondent.

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, Bishop of Indianapolis

The Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, Bishop for Office of Pastoral Development, The Episcopal Church

Those in the process will also be guided by the Intake Officer, who is responsible for alerting the Bishop to provide pastoral care for any party who may need it. Additionally, both the Complainant and Respondent can expect the proper disciplinary officers to identify and assign other assistance, such as Advisors. 

Alexizendria Link of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts and a member of the Episcopal Church Executive Council says Title IV is a challenge for those used to expectations in secular law.


Alexizendria Link, Diocese of Western Massachusets, Episcopal Church Executive Council 

The Rev. Gay C. Jennings, President of the House of Deputies reiterates that there are expectations of no wrong-doing until the church determines that an offense has been committed.

The Rev. Gay C. Jennings, President of the House of Deputies

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