Douglas Hahn has been suspended from his position as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington for a year.
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of the national Episcopal Church, imposed the suspension effective March 9, after Hahn admitted that he had had a sexual relationship with an adult female parishioner, and that he “intentionally withheld” that information while seeking to become Lexington’s bishop, according to a news release from the diocese.
Hahn said in a letter dated March 14 that he was sorry for the hurt his behavior had caused and that the suspension was part of an agreement reached between himself and Curry.
“We have agreed that this should be a time of repentance, retreat and reflection. It will be a time of healing of hurts. I will spend this time doing whatever is possible to make this right with the Church,” Hahn wrote, adding later that “We agree that this will allow me to return to my ministry as a stronger, healthier Bishop.”
Hahn said the diocese would not be asked to support him financially during the suspension.
Hahn, who is married with three adult children, said the relationship occurred before he became Lexington’s bishop and that he has “regretted it ever since.” He said he ended the affair, confessed to a priest, asked the woman to forgive him and “worked with a therapist to understand and heal my out of character breach in behavior.”
He said he confessed to his wife and to Curry after the “matter came to light” a few months ago, and he asked for privacy as he and his wife work to repair and strengthen their marriage.
Hahn, a Georgia native whose parents are from Kentucky, was appointed Lexington’s seventh bishop in 2012, succeeding the Rev. Stacy Sauls. Before coming to Lexington, Hahn was rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Columbus, Ga., and a dean who oversaw five towns, seven parishes and 12 priests.
The Lexington diocese’s standing committee, which assumes oversight when there is no bishop, said in the news release that “the relationship between the diocese and Hahn has been seriously strained by Hahn’s actions.”
“As members of Christ’s Holy Church we believe in confession, repentance, and forgiveness. We also understand that actions have consequences,” Rev. Peter D’Angio, president of the standing committee, said in the release.
The process of choosing a bishop to serve in Hahn’s absence is “ongoing,” the Rev. Canon Elise Johnstone said Saturday.
“We continue to pray for all involved,” she said.