June 16, 2014
Release Letter of
June 16, 2014
TO: Shaun Withrow
RE: Co-habitation and priesthood status
During the past two weeks we have been in discussion about the church's policy concerning priesthood cohabitation. As I have explained, priesthood members are expected to demonstrate the highest level of sacramental covenant in their relationships. Therefore, Community of Christ priesthood members are not allowed to cohabit and still represent Community of Christ and function in their calling. Your decision to live with your fiancée prior to your marriage reflects non-compliance with this policy.
With great sadness I learn that you will not voluntarily cease functioning in your office of priest during these months prior to your wedding. Therefore, in accordance with the policies of Community of Christ, I am releasing you involuntarily from your priesthood authority. You are no longer permitted to function as a member of the priesthood of the church. This would include suspending your right to perform marriages under the auspices of Community of Christ, since your license to marry is based on your priesthood status. It is important to understand, however, that your rights and status as a member of the church are not affected in any way.
At the end of our discussion on Friday, June 13, 2014, you gave me your priesthood license. We agreed that one of the co-pastors, David Donoghue, would hold your license in safe-keeping for a time.
I am taking this administrative action as your supervising apostle. No church court is involved and civil courts do not have any jurisdiction over this matter. You can appeal this action if you believe I have committed an error in releasing you and you have relevant facts and evidence to support your position. Director of Field Ministries Scott Murphy is the appeal officer. If you decide to appeal, you must write to him within 60 days of receiving this letter, to express your reason for the appeal. You can request a personal hearing with him, and you have the right to be represented by a church member of your choice. If you wish to do that, you can send a letter to this address:
Director of Field Ministries Scott Murphy
Community of Christ
1001 W Walnut St.
Independence MO 64050-3562
Or you can request a hearing by contacting him at his email address, as follows: email@example.com.
If you have no intention of appealing my decision, you don't have to do anything. However, I am available for you to talk with if I can be of any help to you as you make this adjustment.
In the future when you are married, you can request in writing that your priesthood office of priest be reinstated. I will stay in touch with you during the coming year, and we can discuss your priesthood status following your marriage to determine if your ministry would receive the support of the congregational members.
If there is anything in this letter that requires clarification, please contact me. You and your family will remain in my prayers. May God guide you and Danica with grace and wisdom.
Very sincerely yours,
Apostle Susan D. Oxley
Council of Twelve
cc: First Presidency