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NEWPORT BEACH, CA: St. James Priest Resigns over "Inappropriate Conduct" Charges

NEWPORT BEACH, CA: St. James Priest Resigns over "Inappropriate Conduct" Charges

By David W. Virtue

The Rev. Praveen Bunyan, priest of the breakaway congregation of St. James Newport Beach has resigned from his duties as priest of the parish over allegations of "inappropriate conduct" toward a female parishioner.

A terse three paragraph statement issued by the church, said The Rev. Praveen Bunyan has resigned his position as rector of St. James Anglican Church, having confessed to the inappropriate behavior. The vestry, wardens and bishop were informed of the inappropriate conduct, promptly investigated, and then accepted the resignation last week.

The 1,200 member congregation was informed at Sunday services yesterday.

Pastoral duties are now being provided by the church's Rector Emeritus, the Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, and by its Associate Rector, the Rev. Richard Menees.

Anderson told VOL; "I will commute one or two Sundays a month to provide continuity and stability."

St. James Church in Newport Beach is one of three churches, (a fourth, St. Luke's later departed) that left the Episcopal Church in August 2004 because of differences over homosexuality and the rejection of the authority of Holy Scripture. The parishes placed themselves under the ecclesiastical authority of The Most Rev. Henry Orombi, Archbishop of the Province of Uganda who placed them immediately with The Rt. Rev. Evans M. Kisekka, Bishop of Luweero.

At that time Fr. Bunyan exhorted his parishioners to "stand by the word of God that is never changing."



NEWPORT BEACH: Once-rebel Newport priest quits as rector
Episcopal cleric who was part of opposition to gay unions resigns, reportedly after a woman complained of unwanted attention from him.

By H.G. Reza
Times Staff Writer
April 26, 2007

A conservative Episcopal priest who helped lead a 2004 revolt against the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles over homosexuality has resigned as rector of a Newport Beach church after a female parishioner complained about unwanted attention from the married clergyman.

The Rev. Praveen Bunyan, who ministered at St. James Church, resigned last week after confessing to "inappropriate conduct" with the woman, said church spokeswoman Karen Bro. Church officials declined to identify the woman, but another priest said there was no sexual contact involved.

"He was taken by her, but thank goodness it didn't go any further than that," said the Rev. Canon David C. Anderson.

Bunyan, 44, did not return telephone messages left at his Newport Beach home. The native of India took over the 1,200-member congregation in January 2003, coming from a church in Aurora, Colo. His wife is also an Episcopal priest.

A year into his ministry at St. James, Bunyan joined priests from two other conservative Southern California parishes who cut ties with the Episcopal Church over issues of homosexuality and differences in its scriptural message. The three churches placed themselves under the jurisdiction of a Ugandan bishop whose conservative views jibed with the religious views of Bunyan and the other priests.

The Episcopal Church, which is the American branch of the Anglican Communion, consecrated its first gay bishop in 2003, and other bishops began authorizing same-sex marriages. This caused a rift that has split the U.S. church between liberals and conservatives. In February, Anglican leaders gave the U.S. church until Sept. 30 to stop sanctioning same-sex unions and consecrating gay bishops.

Bunyan opposes gay marriage and in a 2004 interview with The Times said the alternative to heterosexual marriage was celibacy. But he said the split with the Los Angeles diocese was not just over homosexuality. He said more liberal bishops did not consider Jesus to be God and did not believe Jesus was resurrected from the dead. Diocesan Bishop J. Jon Bruno, who heads the six-county Los Angeles diocese, has said that is not an accurate portrayal of his theology.

On Wednesday, Anderson said he was saddened by Bunyan's predicament. Anderson was rector at St. James for 16 years and is now president of the Atlanta-based American Anglican Council. The council has assisted conservative parishes that want to leave the church.

Anderson said the unidentified woman brought her complaint about Bunyan to a member of the church's vestry, its governing board, around Easter.

"She said she didn't appreciate the attention he was giving her and said it was wrong. It wasn't sexual, but it clearly crossed the boundary," Anderson said. "He confessed and asked for forgiveness."

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