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Two top national Episcopal officials axed for violating conduct codes

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church has announced the termination of two top-ranking officials after an independent investigation found they had violated church standards of personal and professional conduct.

In a memo to employees explaining the firing of the church executives, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry acknowledged the 3 million-member denomination has “some healing to do.”

Terminated were  Sam McDonald, deputy chief operating officer and director of mission, and Alex Baumgarten, director of public engagement and mission communication.

Curry, who last year became the denomination’s first African-American presiding bishop, said a third top staffer, Chief Operating Officer Bishop Stacy Sauls was cleared of misconduct charges, but nonetheless will be reassigned.

Curry had placed the three officers on administrative leave in December after multiple church employees accused them of violating personnel policies.

Curry did not specify the nature of the complaints.

Curry, the former bishop of North Carolina, said the terminations came after an independent investigation that entailed  interviews with more than 40 church employees and the review of thousands of pages of documents.

“Trust must be rebuilt,” Curry told church employees, vowing to fully investigate all complaints lodged by workers. “Unhelpful patterns of behavior need to be replaced with new ways of working together. This will not happen overnight. Nonetheless, it will be rewarding.”

Curry said that the church has hired a personnel consulting firm,Human Synergistics,  to “help us address concerns about the culture of the staff and our system that have come to the fore in part because of this situation.”

In the near future, he said, employees will be asked to participate in surveys to assess “the culture we have now and how, together, we can move in a healthier direction.”

Curry’s memorandum to church employees can be read here.

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