Scandal shapes fate of 2 parishes
By SHARON TUBBS, Times Staff Writer
TAMPA -- Both sides in the contentious St. Mary's Episcopal Church ordeal spoke Monday, a day after the Rev. Kevin Donlon renounced his priesthood with the Episcopal church and said he would start a new parish.
Donlon said he was excited about getting back to the ministry, now as a priest with the Anglican Mission in America, a 2-year-old group of about 40 parishes in the United States.
His new parish, Church of the Resurrection, will be involved in telling others about Jesus Christ, Donlon said.
"Right now, we have one rector and the Gospel and a handful of people committed to the Gospel," he said.
About 20 former members of St. Mary's have committed to the new parish. For the next few weeks, they will meet at the Tampa Woman's Club. The first service is set for 10:15 a.m. Sunday.
In a news release, Bishop John B. Lipscomb said he will speak with St. Mary's members Sunday at the church. He said he and church officials will discuss the process of finding an interim rector.
"The bishop and the Diocese of Southwest Florida continue to pray for and work towards healing of the congregation of St. Mary's and the rebuilding of the life of this important congregation in our faith community," the statement said.
The turmoil began Feb. 6 when Lipscomb temporarily suspended Donlon after eight church members filed a 26-page complaint accusing him of conduct unbecoming a priest.
The allegations included: an inappropriate supervisory relationship with a former staff member, the unauthorized disclosure of privileged communications, abusive conduct toward staff members, a conflict with the church-affiliated school's headmaster and inappropriate interaction with members of the parish community.
Donlon denied the allegations and claimed to have provided proof of his innocence to church officials.
"I think the unfortunate part of being Irish and being a redhead is there's a lot of stereotypes going around," he said.
Still, he said, he holds no ill will against St. Mary's or those who filed the complaint.
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