Continuing Anglican Church Archbishop Implicated in Sexual Misconduct Allegations
By David W. Virtue DD
July 22, 2015
The Archbishop of the Anglican Province of Christ the King, a continuing Anglican jurisdiction, has been accused of sexual and pastoral misconduct by a woman he was counseling. VOL has received a publicly circulated letter charging James Eugene Provence with improper serial sexual relationships with several women under his pastoral care. Nude selfie pictures were e-mailed to one of the women.
Kathy Webb, a one-time parishioner in his San Francisco parish wrote a letter cataloguing his relationship with her that left her feeling abused and "emotionally traumatized."
She headlined her letter, "So you will know the truth" and addressed it to "Dear Clergymen" and circulated it to numerous clergy and bishops in several jurisdictions. VOL received a copy of the letter.
The sexual misconduct occurred over a period of one to two years.
"I am writing to report the misconduct of Archbishop James E. Provence, Archbishop of The Anglican Province of Christ the King. Archbishop Provence used his position to exploit my vulnerability (open to moral attack, criticism, temptation). I included the definitions only because the statement sounded so awful that I really needed to look up the words to be certain that I had chosen the correct words. They are the correct words. I left the definitions in the letter to be certain that there would be a shared understanding of the words I have used.
"I do not know whom to trust so I believe it necessary to send it to all of you so that it does not get covered up. Believe me, I know the seriousness of the facts in this letter and what going public with these facts may ultimately cost me in terms of reputation. However, I have spent many months praying about what to do about what I know and I have concluded that to say nothing will make me as much responsible for the pain of the next person he hurts as he.
"Sometime in 2010 I sought spiritual counsel from Archbishop Provence. I met with him a few times for guidance to talk about my troubled marriage and my fear that I was losing my faith. My marriage to a priest under Archbishop Provence's authority was in serious trouble. In February 2011 my husband left me.
"At the Diocesan Synod in May 2011, Archbishop Provence was in the elevator holding what was left of a bottle of wine from the Synod Banquet. He asked me if I wanted to help him finish it. In my ignorance I thought he meant right there in the elevator but when the elevator doors opened he stepped out and I followed him.
"We went to his room where we did finish the bottle of wine and most of another one as we talked. He seemed to need someone to feel sorry for him. He was tired, burdened and vulnerable as he spoke of his own wife Laurelle and how she had announced that she was having an affair; how she told him that his touch made her sick and other hurtful things. Of course, I listened and felt sorry for him. I held his elbow and he held my elbow.
"After some time, I said I needed to go and I left. I wondered at what had happened. I felt he needed a friend and I knew I needed a friend and I cherished this thought. Sunday after that Synod, I told him I wanted to love him in every way. He said, "It can never be"; it would hurt the Province. I accepted it. I kept my feelings to myself. I prayed for him.
"In August of 2011 while on retreat I sent an email to Archbishop Provence hoping to discuss a T.S. Eliot poem I had read, Choruses from "The Rock" and an email relationship began. He hadn't read that poem but said he had The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. He was stressed and burdened; we discussed prayer. He shared that he saw me while he was taking a shower and that it caused him to drop to his knees in prayer; that he wore his alb all that day because of the intimacy of it. He took a picture of himself to send to me but thought better of it when he saw that it was like a wet t-shirt in what it revealed.
"After I returned from my retreat, I saw Archbishop Provence in person at St. Thomas'. He said he didn't know what to say...I called him James. We stood in front of the altar and held each other for a long time; Archbishop Provence then kissed me; he asked God to show us what to do with what we had found.
"We continued to email each other. He told me that he made love to me in prayer and could I feel it too. He told me that we shared a bond. He told me he loved me. I trusted him as I have never trusted anyone in my whole life.
"Then he told me that I had complicated his life; there was another woman he saw off and on. I was confused but remained silent...not understanding...not wanting to believe the implications. Then there was an intimate time in my apartment when before he left he asked me if it would hurt me to see him with another woman...why was I not indignant?
"Then he went on a cruise vacation. He didn't email me the whole time he was gone. This is when I learned just how sinful I am...my jealousy was intense...ugly. I sent many foolish emails to him as I struggled with the hurt. Upon his return our email relationship resumed.
"Then he told me that he had been advised to stop all personal emails. This was in the midst of the turmoil involving St. Peter's. I kept thinking I deserved a conversation. I needed help to understand what had happened. What had I done to disappoint him? Sometime during all of this I learned that the woman he said he saw off and on was really a woman with whom he had shared a committed relationship for at least two years.
"In the end, He behaved as if nothing had ever happened between us. I just tried to accept it. I stopped asking for appointments, avoided being alone with him in the sacristy. I loved St. Thomas' and had found a true church family there in spite of his presence...though I continued to love him. It was painful but I endured and for the most part did okay. It was hard when I did see him with the other woman, Sandy, who came to church for Easter and Christmas and Shrove Tuesday.
"Then in August 2014 I learned of another woman whom Archbishop Provence had approached at a Synod. This woman told me how she had been swept off her feet by Archbishop Provence at the first synod she had attended since the death of her beloved husband. She had found hope in him. It was heart breaking to hear the pain in her voice; to hear her say to me the things I had said to myself...the disbelief. I was forced to begin to accept what I had feared most...that I had meant nothing to him. I might have been any woman...he didn't love me. I wasn't special to him in any way. I cannot describe how badly this hurts me even now.
"Later, this woman confronted Archbishop Provence with his involvement with me. She related to me some of the things he said about me...and it hurt. I also learned that he texted her nude photos of himself while he was in Bali. These photos can be made available to a disciplinary or other proceeding if need be to insure that this situation is never repeated with others. I simply want to prevent other women from being hurt.
"Before I left St. Thomas' I sent Archbishop Provence an email confronting him. I felt I had to try. How can he say Mass? I told him I am afraid for his soul. He is sick and needs help; but he cannot continue to function as Archbishop. While I do not wish him to be publicly humiliated the truth does need to come out so that any other women who may have been hurt by him may seek healing.
"I have gone over and over it. I have tried every way possible to convince myself that he is innocent that it was all my fault, that somehow I had misunderstood, that I had somehow imagined it. This line of thought became impossible after I spoke with the woman who shared how he had pursued her and texted nude photos. When she told me some of the things he had said about me I realized that I was not dealing with a kind, gentle man who cared about me. I could no longer defend him to myself; I had to accept that he had totally misled me and used me to fulfill some sort of need that I do not understand.
"I have explained my sudden departure from California by telling people that God used circumstances in my life to show me what He wanted me to do. And this is a true statement. I now have the spiritual guidance I need and with God's help I am building a new life."
Archbishop Provence did not return two phone calls or an e-mail.
Provence took over the helm in January 2008, replacing APCK founder Archbishop Robert Morse.
UPDATE: Archbishop Provence has resigned his office as archbishop and all his offices in the APCK citing health reasons.
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