Episcopal charismatic leader Graham Pulkingham has been temporarily relieved of his duties as priest after sexual misconduct charges surfaced against him last month. Pulkingham has admitted to conducting several homosexual liaisons, some with counselees, over the past two decades. The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, where Pulkingham resides, is investigating the charges. The complaint against him was brought by a woman who claims Pulkingham’s affair with her husband from 1978 to 1982 subsequently ruined their marriage.

Pulkingham, 65, who is married with six children, said he is “deeply ashamed and totally guilty of what I did.” He said he had been “tormented” by homosexuality since his teens, but that disappeared when he became a charismatic in 1964. Some time later, he said, he lapsed into homosexual practice.

Pulkingham rose to fame in the 1960s as rector of the Church of the Redeemer in Houston, a showplace of charismatic renewal and social action. He currently directs the Community of Celebration, an Episcopal order in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, known for the music produced by its Fisherfolk singing group. His wife, Betty, is a prolific composer and well-known in Episcopal musical circles.

Episcopal leaders have been especially nervous about any clergy sexual misconduct in their dioceses since former Colorado Bishop William Frey was sued for $1.2 million in 1991 for failing to discipline an adulterous priest adequately. Some dioceses, such as Pittsburgh, have formulated their own sexual-conduct guidelines for clergy, since the Episcopal Church has no national policy.

By Julia Duin.

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