Monday, March 31, 2008

Oh! What a Tangled Web We Weave

There are now charges that "those evil lib'rals" have engaged in a cyber war.

It seems that once John-David Schofield had resigned as the Bishop of San Joaquin, and was then deposed by the House of Bishops, the Anglican Communion's Provincial Directory was edited to list the See of San Joaquin as "vacant." (A side note: the See was listed as "vacant" a few months ago, but after much wailing and gnashing of teeth by the rejectionists, John-David Schofield's name was restored to the listing. The current "vacant" listing is a recent change.) This establishes that as far as the Anglican Communion is concerned, whatever it is that John-David Schofield is leading, it is not the Diocese listed in that directory.

Once the Diocese was re-established at last weekend's Diocesan Convention, another change occurred. The Society of Archbishop Justus, which operates the domain "", redirected "" from the website of John-David Schofield’s Southern Cone group to the website of the official Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

Now there is a new round of wailing and gnashing of teeth commencing, but that's not what intrigues me about these changes. What I find fascinating is a little detail pointed out to me by dr. primrose in the comments.

You may recall the former Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin, who were "not recognized" by our Presiding Bishop. They responded to our Presiding Bishop with much bluster, but refused to answer the critical question; are they Episcopalians, or are they part of John-David Schofield's breakaway group? Since then, the numbers of this former group have shrunk to three, since half of their members finally declared that they have left TEC. At least they had the integrity to end the guessing game regarding their allegiance.

At last weekend's Convention, Robert Eaton, a former member of the Standing Committee, voiced his objections. He has published those objections on a website entitled "Surrounded: A weblog of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin". Here is his statement:

Regarding the election of Standing Committee members (and similarly of General Convention delegates), I come before you to simply state that I object to and protest the election of any new Standing Committee member who would in effect replace me, a diocesan Standing Committee member (and any Standing Committee member) validly and duly elected at the December 2007 Diocesan Convention (and prior conventions). I have not, nor did I ever leave the (Episcopal) Church, nor have I acted in such a way as to repudiate my place in the Church.

The Rev. Robert G. Eaton, Clergy Delegate by Canonical Residency
Standing Committee Member, elected to 4-year term, December 2007 Diocesan Convention
St. John Parish, Tulare
So, it appears that Robert Eaton, who is the adminstrator of the website "Surrounded," has declared that he is an Episcopalian and claims to have not "acted in such a way as to repudiate my place in the Church."

If that is so, then I find a very curious thing on the "About" page for that weblog he administers. Here is the text:

The Diocese of San Joaquin is a part of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. The diocesan office - the office of the bishop - is in Fresno, on the grounds of St. James Cathedral. The diocese currently stretches from just south of Sacramento, to the top of the Grapevine, south of Bakersfield; from west of I-5 including Coalinga and Los Banos, to the Nevada border.

This weblog is an offical part of the communications for and by the diocese. It is administered by the Rev. Robert Eaton, the Rector of St. John Parish in Tulare.

For further information on the diocese please view the diocesan website, at .
If you click on the link at the end of that entry, it will take you to the webpage of an organization claiming to be a diocese of the Southern Cone, not the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

Accidental? Just needs updating? I don't think so. I was on that site just last week. I even left a rather snarky comment, which Rob removed. I happened to check out the "About" page, and noticed that the link was to "," which was formerly the address of this Southern Cone group. I found it curious at the time that a website declaring itself to be "Episcopalian" would be directing readers to a breakaway group, but thought maybe it simply had not been updated.

But here's the fascinating thing; since the change of website addresses occurred over this last weekend, that means that Rob Eaton has recently, within the last few days, edited that link so that it would continue to direct readers to the Southern Cone site.

So, what to make of this? It appears Robert Eaton claims to be an Episcopalian, but belongs to a Southern Cone group, and continues to encourage visitors to the weblog he adminsters, through an unethical subterfuge, to join this breakaway group.

And yet he expects to be recognized as a faithful member of the Episcopal Church? I think not.


UPDATE: 4/1/08 - Sometime today, the "About" page for the weblog "Surrounded" was edited. It now includes two links; one to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, and one to a Southern Cone organization.

Leaving a link to a breakaway group is still somewhat unusual for a site whose administrator has recently made very public claims of being an Episcopalian. But it is an improvement from this, which is what that page looked like yesterday.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Looking Toward the Future

One more pic, this time from lost-sheep:

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori with a present member and future leader of the Episcopal Church at Christ the King, Riverbank, California on Sunday, March 30.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

San Joaquin's New Beginning

One final look at today's wonderful celebrations in San Joaquin.

From Dr. Val:

Our Integrity display at the convention drew quite a few people. We ran through about 80 information packets. Some had heard of Integrity, many had not. We listened to many stories; some of loss, alienation and abuse, and others of hope, resilience and a desire to organize. There were lots of questions about the “cause” of sexual orientation (Is it genetic or what?), how to talk to people about sexual orientation, and how to organize displays for local Pride events. To a person, everyone was respectful, if not right out supportive. It was also clear that most of the human sexuality discussions the church has engaged in over the past 2 decades skipped right over this valley.

It was a great experience to be at a church event with so much positive energy. There’s rather a lot of difficult business to get through in the coming months. Please pray for continued positive energy and well-being for us as we move forward…
From Scott:

I have just been to the most joyful diocesan convention I have ever experienced. I am still floating, so I'll make this short (otherwise I'll go all "flowery"). If you want hope, joy, love and hospitality, come to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. The liturgies over these last 24 hours have been punctuated by many "Alleluia!'s". If you want to hear them shouted with pure confidence, come to the Episcoapal Diocese of San Joaquin.
Well, I won't even try to give a blow-by-blow report from today. Others (including the official news reporters) can do it much better. Instead, I will offer a few "snapshots" of this glorious day...

... Singing on the bus on the way from Fresno to Lodi a bucket of praise and worthy classics, and feeling, as the song says, that "Surely the Presence of the Lord is in this place"

... Seeing a table full of vestments, altar linens, etc. etc., with unpacked boxes below the table, all of which had been donated by people from around the country to give, for free, to our emerging congregations.

... An "Integrity" table. In the Diocese of San Joaquin!

... Seeing the tables set up with information from programs that had never had an audience in the Diocese of San Joaquin in the past. Taking away a stack of brochures for Education for Ministry (EFM) so that I can get this program up and running at Holy Family church in Fresno.

... Hearing the unanimous "yeas" and not a single "nay" as the convention voted to undue the problems of the Schofield era and move on with a new bishop.

... Seeing Fr. Rob Eaton of the old standing committee present his objection to the proceedings. Although I didn't agree with him at all, he was respectful and earnest. And he was there.

... Being present at the enthronement Eucharist. Nobody does this kind of thing better than the Episcopal Church. It was a full stop affair, with all the smells, bells and midget races (i.e., incense, bells, and acolytes running around).

... Hearing the congregation positively shout out their responses at the Eucharist. You've never heard such loud "alleluias" or "we will with God's helps".

... The humble modesty of Bishop Lamb.

... The reception line at the end of the Eucharist with +Jefferts Schori signing autographs like a rock star.

... The wonderful sermons by +Lamb and +Jefferts Schori that left all of us charged up and ready to take on the heavy tasks ahead of us.

All in all, a glorious day. ALLELUIA!
From Beryl:

Oh my gosh, it was a wonderful day. I am so impressed with our Presiding Bishop Kathryn Jefferts Schori. She has such a gracious and calm demeanor, and yet there is a significant, strong spiritual strength about her. (I will not say she is a godly woman, although she is as close to such as I have ever seen. However, I have a problem with the idea of godly priests and bishops, as I belive they are all just people with the same baptismal covenant we have, only their charge is greater, to look after the sheep, and so many seem to forget that charge.) May I say that her manner of dress for the Eucharistic service was elegant, (and I say that because of past comments I have heard.) I wish I had a picture for you. Her spouse led a session at noon for spouses of clergy. I wasn't part of that group, but they looked very engrossed in their discussion when I was returning from lunch. The presiding bishop's husband is a friendly, gracious man, who introduced himself to me and to others in the line for lunch.

There are so many plans for the future, and truly, there are great hopes to reach out to others in a spirit of reconciliation. Whatever happens, I believe that the REAL EPISCOPAL CHURCH has returned to the Diocese of San Joaquin, and I love it.

Oh, and on top of everything else, I met Fred Scwartz and Scott Hankins!! What a day it has been!
From Fred:

To all my Jake's place friends and family I say Alleluia! The Lord is Risen Indeed! It is indeed interesting to meet folks from this great place on a face to face basis. We had visitors from Connecticut, Hawaii, New Mexico (I'll let you guess who that is), Nevada, Washington, ALASKA! for heaven sakes, and from Arizona as well as Diocese of California, No. California, El Camino Real, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Bishop Rivera's daughter (not the Bishop, the other daughter) spoke to us at lunch and passed on what she thought her father might want us to know o nthis glorious day!

Can I get a WOWSERS!!!
Fred also sent along a few more pics:

From Aghaveagh:

aghaveagh, reporting in!

(no wi-fi at the convention, so unlike Fresno Mark, I had to wait till I got home)

Just some impressions--I'll report at length later, with pix, on my blog (tired out from the long drive home).

First off, what a joyous crowd! The first convention in three years where the only tears I've shed as a delegate have been those of joy.

Getting to meet Beryl and Leslie was an honor. They are just as gracious and charming in person as they are in their postings online.

Seeing the new missions and the new priests (many of them women!!) welcomed in! Women priests?? San Joaquin???

As Grace Episcopal, Bakersfield was announced, they all brought out their t-shirts--one parishioner ran up and presented one to the PB.

Father Mark Hall's deadpan humor.

Shaking Father Eaton's hand and telling him I was glad he was there. Wishing that Father Snell had come.

Getting my picture taken with the PB like a star-struck fan.

The most glorious Eucharist, with trumpet and organ music.

Hearing the first sermon of our new bishop and the enthusiastic responses at his seating. (He said that he had seated KJS, and now she was seating him! Musical chairs???)

Knowing that all of you were rejoicing with us! Thank you and good night!
And yet another story from Episcopal Life:

A jubilant celebration of Holy Eucharist concluded the March 29 special convention in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and made official Bishop Jerry Lamb's role as provisional bishop.

"What you have been about and what I have been about these last months, weeks, days, even hours is not really about building a new diocesan structure," Lamb said during his sermon. "As I understand it, what we are about is the proclamation of the Good News that Jesus is the Christ and that we do this from within the base of our Episcopal and Anglican tradition because that's who we are: members of the Episcopal Church and members of the Anglican church."

Most of the more than 400 people who attended the convention remained for the Eucharist. Individuals from the Episcopal dioceses of Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, El Camino Real, Hawaii, Los Angeles, Nevada, Northern California, Rio Grande, San Diego and Olympia also attended.

Half of the offertory was assigned to Lamb's discretionary fund and the other half, Lamb told the congregation to loud and sustained applause, would be given to the Diocese of Louisiana, which continues to rebuild after hurricanes Katrina and Rita...

...Earlier, during his sermon, Lamb had told the congregation that the work in which they were engaged is "not about who your bishop is."

"It is about how you and I will rebuild this Episcopal diocese so that at its core it will proclaim and live the Gospel or Jesus Christ," he said. "The diocese must have its roots firmly in Christ Jesus and live out the baptismal promises we all have renewed in one way or another this past week"...
Now, I know there's still a lot of work to be done,but tonight I feel more at peace about the future of San Joaquin than I have in many years. It's almost as if I can feel the fresh breeze of God's Holy Spirit gently flowing through that valley from all the way over here in New Jersey! Thanks be to God!

Now we need to bring this day to a close. To keep from having someone disrupt the spirit of today's conversations, I'm going to moderate comments for awhile. Besides, don't you all have to get up early for church tomorrow? Go to bed!

The Lord Almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect
end. Amen.

Psalm 31

In you, O LORD, have I taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame: *
deliver me in your righteousness.

Incline your ear to me; *
make haste to deliver me.

Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,
for you are my crag and my stronghold; *
for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.

Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me, *
for you are my tower of strength.

Into your hands I commend my spirit, *
for you have redeemed me,
O LORD, O God of truth.

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours
of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and
chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

San Joaquin: "We're Back!"

The first summary of the day's events was offered by Fred:

Hi, it is now lunch and we are almost finished with business. It is/was hard to describe. Things went very well. Rob Eaton showed up with 2 parishioners/vestry and complained. We listened respectfully. +Lamb is now the provisional bishop for EDoSJ. C and C rolled back to 2003. New SC and DC elected. Eucharist and seating to happen around 2. More later.
Fred also sent this candid shot of the Bishops:

We then received this brief note from Fresno Mark:

All is well. All shall be well. It has been a wonderful day. The Eucharist and enthronement of Bishop Lamb is about to start. Keep you prayers ascending with us at this joyous time.
From Episcopal Life:

The members of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin March 29 chose their provisional bishop and other officers, and passed organizing resolutions during a convention filled with cheers and applause, and rooted in the message of resurrection.

"I am awed by the opportunity" that the Diocese of San Joaquin has to transform itself, said Nancy Key, a member of the steering committee that worked towards the convening of the special convention, during a lunch break. The diocese has "a lot of momentum" that can now be channeled into concrete action, she added.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori opened the convention at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist in Lodi, California, with Morning Prayer.

The rest of the Episcopal Church "stand[s] with you in the firm and constant hope that this body will grow and flourish and bless the Central Valley of California in ways you have not yet dreamed of," the Presiding Bishop later told the convention.

When then-acting Convention Secretary the Rev. Deacon Susanne Ward called roll of the diocese's congregations, 18 of 47 responded, accounting for 43 lay delegates and 21 clergy. More than 400 people attended the convention.

Clergy delegates were asked to sign an oath of conformity to the Episcopal Church, similar to that which they were required to sign at their ordination. Lay delegates signed an oath the echoed the Baptismal Covenant. Nominees for diocesan offices also had to sign the oath.

The convention accepted without debate Jefferts Schori's recommendation of Jerry Lamb as provisional bishop of the diocese...
There were a few objections raised:

...The call to elect a new Standing Committee drew protest from the Rev. Robert Eaton, rector of St. John's Episcopal Parish in Tulare, California, and two lay delegates. Eaton, who said they wanted to protest "in as godly and Christian a manner as possible," told the convention that he had never resigned from the Standing Committee and thus should not have his seat taken away from him.

Tulare delegate George Sutton objected to what he called the "illegality" of the special convention, claiming that only the Standing Committee can call a special convention. Gillian Busch, the other lay delegate, said that the Tulare parish had not been included in the organization of the steering committee that worked toward the convention.

The Rev. Mark Hall, convention chair, replied that "this matter has been settled."

Jefferts Schori had told the participants earlier that the convention had been called because Bishop John-David Schofield had been deposed or removed from his diocesan seat after having abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church, and because the Standing Committee removed because it took actions "which violated their ability to hold office in this church."
Congratulations to the members of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin! Well done, good and faithful servants!


UPDATE: You can listen to the news conference that followed the Convention here.

Bishop Katharine to San Joaquin: "You Are Not Alone"

From Episcopal Life:

...The work ahead of this diocese in the coming months is going to be about identity, reconciliation, and mission. As you seek a renewed life together in Christ, you are going to be invited to remember who and whose you are, why you're here, and what you're going to do about it. A useful shorthand might be: identity, vocation, and mission as members of the body of Christ. I have just a few reminders as you seek answers to those questions:

1) Jesus is Lord. In the same sense that Jesus is Lord, and not Caesar, remember that no one else -- not any hierarch, not any ecclesiastical official, not any one of you, is Lord. We belong to God, whom we know in Jesus, and there is no other place we find the ground of our identity

2) We are all made in the image of God. Even when we can't see that image of God immediately, we are challenged to keep searching for it, especially in those who may call us enemy. There is pain and hurt here to be reconciled, and searching for the image of God in those we have offended and who have offended us is a central part of our reconciling vocation.

3) In baptism we discover that we are meant to be for others, in the same way that God is for us. Jesus the best evidence of that. And that means that God's mission must be the primary focus, not our own hurt or indeed anything that focuses on our own selves to the exclusion of neighbor. For when we miss the neighbor, we miss God. I believe you are already discovering that God is healing old wounds as you work together. The work is just beginning, and it may not be easy, but it is essential. Focusing on the other, the ones outside this body, is going to be a vital part of discovering resurrection. Archbishop William Temple famously said that this church is the only human institution that exists primarily for the good of those outside of it. There is plenty of need here in this part of California -- among migrant workers, single parents, young people with little sense of future or direction, returning veterans… Put your eyes upon Jesus in the form of those strangers, and you will find resurrection.

And, finally, remember that you are not alone. This part of the Body of Christ is only one limb. The rest of the Episcopal Church is with you, and will continue to be with you. A few people have joined you here today as incarnate evidence of the love of Christ, known in community. We stand with you in the firm and constant hope that this body will grow and flourish and bless the central valley of California in ways you have not yet dreamed of. And we will celebrate with you as that becomes reality.

Alleluia, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Healing Begins in Stockton

From Aghaveagh:

...People just kept on passing the peace for about 5 minutes or so when Father Mark Hall called us back to order. He formally introduced Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop Lamb and their spouses, and Bonnie Anderson He made a special presentation of a gift basket of St. Anne’s beers to the PB (“PB Stout”) and to Bonnie Anderson (“Anti-Schism Ale”), quipping that “this church is just a front for a brewery.” He didn’t skip Bishop Lamb however, noting that he will soon get a “key to the sacristy where all the beer is stored.”

Then the Q and A started. The questions were all in the same vein for the most part: what might happen next, what should we do in divided parishes, how should we move forward… for clarification about the HOB vote on the deposition. The PB is a very eloquent speaker. She noted that the vast middle of the Anglican Communion is annoyed that so much time and effort is spend on issues of human sexuality when there are people dying of hunger and disease in our midst.

One person expressed our thanks to the PB, to Bonnie Anderson and to Bishop Lamp for their support. At one point we gave PB a standing ovation.
She later said, “It is you who deserve a standing ovation for your hard work.”

After the Q and A we milled around and talked. I enjoyed a glass of St. Anne’s Porter: a humble little beer, not overly complicated, but smooth and comfortable.

So the big questions whether any of the Standing Committee will show tomorrow. I’ll go out on a limb and say that I think Father Snell and Father Eaton will show up. And I hope they do. We will welcome them back in if they want to be welcomed back in.

In closing, it was an evening marked by optimism, hope, and love. A fitting beginning to the work that continues tomorrow, and a big step toward healing for this battered diocese.
From Beryl:

I have just returned to my home this evening after a wonderful reception, and then a beautiful Evening Prayer and Healing Service. The church was filled to capacity, and it seemed to me that everyone present went forward for anointing, and to move forward in a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation. It was a moving and spiritual occasion. Afterwards, when Presiding Bishop Schori was introduced formally to the group, she received a standing ovation. Presiding Bishop Schori has such a calm and spiritual presence, and we all appreciate her willingness to come and be with us at this time. Bonnie Anderson was also present and participated in the Healing Service. It was a wonderful evening, and I can hardly wait for tomorrow...

...Thank you all for the prayers and support for us in the Diocese of San Joaquin. We truly feel that God's face is shining upon us. I feel so grateful to so many, to all those outside the diocese who have supported us, to those in our diocese who have been steadfast in the faith, to the priests here who have been faithful and strong, to the lay people here who have become empowered and energized by the circumstances.
From lost-sheep:

Tonight's service was beautiful. Everyone there was beautiful. It was such a pleasure to meet at least one more face from here at Jake's. I will miss tomorrow, but going tonight was very important to me. Among other things, I feel a bit spiritually renewed. There is more to come this weekend and I pray peace continues to fill our hearts, minds and souls in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. Kudos for Father Glenn Kanestrom and others who made tonight's service such an amazing, God-led and Spirit-filled event. Thank you to PB Schori for being here. Appreciation and gratitude to those praying for us.
From Episcopal Life:

...Jefferts Schori, Anderson and Bishop Jerry Lamb -- whom the Presiding Bishop has recommended to become San Joaquin's provisional bishop -- spent 45 minutes after the service answered questions from the congregation.

Asked how members of the diocese can go about the work of reconciliation, Lamb said there will need to be many more opportunities such as the March 28 gathering "to see each other on a very real face-to-face basis." He also said that he suspects there are many people in the diocese who are "feeling very much on the edge" and need to know that there will be safe and supportive places for them in the reorganized diocese.

One questioner asked about criticism of the way Jefferts Schori articulates her belief in Jesus Christ as savior.

"Do you believe Jesus died for the whole world?" she asked the questioner in reply.

"Yes, m'am," the woman replied.

"So do I," said Jefferts Schori. "If I can say with you that Jesus died for the whole world, then I think the mechanism [of salvation] is up to God."

God wants to be in relationship with all human beings, she said. "I am not too worried about how God does that," she added.

In response to a question about the status of church property in the diocese, Jefferts Schori said that one of the first tasks of the diocese's new leadership will be "to recover the corporate sole" of the diocese. This process will involve removing control of the property from deposed San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield.

"We believe since John-David Schofield has been deposed, he has no right to claim the property of the diocese as the corporate sole," she said.

The Presiding Bishop said that the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church say that parish and diocesan property is held in trust for the entire church. "We believe those properties are a legacy" given by generations of Episcopalians for the use of generations yet to come, she said.

"We don't have the fiduciary or moral responsibility to simply walk away," Jefferts Schori told the audience. "They're meant for mission and we'll do what we can to recover them."

Answering a question about reports of problems with the March 12 consent by the House of Bishops to her request for authority to depose or remove Schofield from his diocesan position, Jefferts Schori said that the vote was conducted in the same way that other such deposition requests have been done.

While the applicable canon (Canon IV.9.2) may have "varieties of interpretation," the Presiding Bishop said that her chancellor and the House's parliamentarian ruled that the canon called for approval by the majority of those bishops present at the meeting. She added that the canon does not allow for a poll by mail of all bishops eligible to vote, as some have suggested ought to have been done.

"We believe that we did the right thing," she said, adding that the consent came from "a clear majority of those present."

When asked whether the House of Bishops will strengthen itself to deal with bishops who mistreat their dioceses, Jefferts Schori, reminding the audience of the Episcopal Church's governance structure, said such discipline is "not technically the responsibility of the House of Bishops."

The House can challenge the conduct of a member, she said, but "the ability to impose sanctions is quite limited, and when a bishop does not participate in the House of Bishops, it's even more difficult."

Schofield has not regularly attended House of Bishops meetings in recent years.

Jefferts Schori said that the fact that the Episcopal Church is made up of "relatively autonomous dioceses in relationship with each other through General Convention" means that discipline in part "depends on people being able to call each other to account," as opposed to having one person able to impose penalties.

The Presiding Bishop predicted that the next meeting of General Convention in July 2009 would be asked to consider ways to change the canons to better deal with such disciplinary matters. Anderson reminded the audience that General Convention deputies, such as those due to be elected by the San Joaquin diocese on March 29, can propose resolutions calling for such changes.

"If you have ideas about canonical changes, you have the authority through your deputies to bring them to General Convention," Anderson said.

Jefferts Schori and Anderson told the audience that the lessons which Episcopalians in San Joaquin have learned can be of help to their counterparts in other conflicted dioceses.

"There's a tremendous amount of wisdom that can be passed along to lay people and clergy in those other disaffected dioceses," Anderson said.

"And we firmly hope they are watching," Jefferts Schori added.
Today, the Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin begins. Please continue to keep this Convention in your prayers.

Almighty and Everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach them in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide them to perceive what is right, and grant them both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Friday, March 28, 2008

San Joaquin Diocesan Convention Begins: Prayers Requested

From Episcopal Life:

Members of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin are gathering in Stockton, California, March 28 to take two major steps in reorganizing the diocese.

The first step will be a "service for healing and forgiveness" at the Episcopal Church of St. Anne in Stockton, the temporary home of the diocese. House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson will preside at the service and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will lead the litany for healing. The Presiding Bishop and a number of other clergy will be available to anoint people during the service.

Prior to the service, St. Anne's will host a reception for Jefferts Schori and Anderson. After the service, the Presiding Bishop will engage members of the diocese in a question-and-answer session at the church.

The Rev. Mark Hall, St. Anne's rector and acting diocesan administrator, told ENS that interest in the healing service is keen. Based on registrations, he estimates about 350 people will attend -- a number that will stretch the seating capacity of St. Anne's.

"We have people we haven't heard from in years calling and saying they want to be part of it," he said.

Hall said that while there is a "lot of joy" in the diocese at the moment and some people may be feeling "somewhat vindicated," the healing service is important.

"This is not about being triumphant," he said. "This is about being the church and taking care of people...

...The second reorganizing step will come the following day, March 29, at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist in Lodi when the diocese gathers for a special one-day convention.

“As the faithful people of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin gather this weekend, it marks a sign of hope for the future," the Rev. Dr. Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop, told ENS. "As specified in Canon III.13.1, the Presiding Bishop will be present to consult with the Convention about a provisional bishop.

"However, her presence and that of the President of the House of Deputies is also a reminder of the larger Church which stands with, prays for, and supports the people of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin as they move forward in mission and ministry."

Canon III.13.1 states in part that "a Diocese without a Bishop may, by an act of its Convention, and in consultation with the Presiding Bishop, be placed under the provisional charge and authority of a Bishop of another Diocese or of a resigned Bishop"...

...The March 29 convention will welcome clergy who had not been allowed to serve in the diocese. Three new congregations: Grace, Bakersfield; Holy Trinity, Madera; and St. Mary's in-the-Mountains, Sonora; will be also welcomed. Delegates will also be asked to elect a standing committee and deputies to General Convention 2009 in Anaheim, California; and to approve a $445,243 budget, which is funded with money provided by the Episcopal Church's Executive Council from the wider church's budget.

Hall told ENS that 17 congregations will officially participate in the convention. Another estimated 20 congregations will have members present, he said. Such participation would represent a larger portion of the diocese than he and others anticipated would choose to remain in the Episcopal Church, Hall said...
Representatives from 37 congregations, out of a total of 47, will be present at this Convention. Thanks be to God!

I am hoping that some of the faithful Episcopalians from San Joaquin who visit here will keep us updated throughout the weekend.

Please keep this Convention in your prayers.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Conger Reunites Coup Conspirators: Wantland, Howe and Schofield

First we have an opinion piece in the Living Church floating the idea that the votes to consent to the recent depositions at the last House of Bishops' meeting were inadequate. And now we have this announcement in the Church of England Newspaper:

...A subsequent investigation by CEN in conjunction with The Living Church magazine revealed an insufficient number of votes to convict were cast also...
The author of both articles is George Conger. It is safe to assume that this "investigation" is most likely nothing more than Conger's "opinions."

Conger, and if we follow his extension, the Church of England Newspaper, has gotten it wrong before. And, in my opinion (or should I call it my investigation?), Conger has gotten it wrong once again.

As Mark Harris points out, the errors begin with the title. There was no "trial." Thus, there was also no "conviction." The Bishops voted to give consent to the Presiding Bishop to depose those bishops who have abandoned the Church that ordained them, following the same process that has been used in every other deposition of a Bishop.

We've discussed the matter of the various interpretations of the relevant canon already. Some friends of Jake's place shared their concerns as to the way the House of Bishops has interpreted that canon. I tend to agree with the Bishops' interpretation. That is the way that canon has been understood in every other deposition. Conger's interpretation is the innovation. But, out of respect for those here who have voiced their concerns, I will agree that the canon in question needs to be cleaned up, hopefully at GC2009. Yet I still hold to my opinion that Conger's interpretation is simply wrong.

There's one more very strange matter in Conger's latest bit of "investigative reporting." Who does Conger quote as his "expert" regarding Canon Law? Retired Bishop William Wantland. Who does he quote from the House of Bishops? John Howe. And who is one of the deposed Bishops they are defending? John-David Schofield. Wantland, Howe and Schofield. Got that?

Ok, now let's go back twelve years to 1996 and Bishop Wantland's Attempted Coup d'Etat:

...According to documents obtained by the presiding bishop's office, a group of conservative bishops created a non-profit organization in 1996, using a variation on the corporate name of the Episcopal Church. Bishops William Wantland of Eau Claire (Wisconsin), John Howe of Central Florida, and John-David Schofield of San Joaquin (California) are identified in documents as founding directors of a new, non-profit corporation registered in at least 24 states as PECUSA, Inc.--The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, Incorporated.

The incorporation papers, first chartered in the state of Wisconsin in August 1996, stated that the corporation's purpose is "to engage in religious, educational and charitable activities and particularly the executive, administrative and financial administration of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, otherwise known as the Episcopal Church. It shall have charge of the church pension fund and the church's program ..." (emphasis added)
Well, imagine that.

Bp. Howe backed off when confronted by the Presiding Bishop:

...In a statement sent to all clergy in Central Florida, Howe said he had "immediately resigned" when the presiding bishop "learned of the effort earlier this month."

Howe wrote that he had been approached by Wantland "about a year and a half ago." Wantland "suggested there might be a way of creating a structure within the church that would preserve its faithfulness to the scriptures, the Book of Common Prayer, and the faith we have received. It would not be a matter of creating a new organization, but simply incorporating who we are . . ."

"Bishop Wantland's thought was that if at some point the General Convention should take actions that were truly unacceptable, actions that represented a departure from `the faith once entrusted to the saints,' there would be a kind of safety zone within the church where orthodox believers could remain. . . . I agreed to be a part of that effort and to put my name on the board of trustees."
"A structure within the church." That sounds familiar. Sounds like these three Bishops hatched Plan A for an attempted coup. What we're now witnessing must be Plan B, C, D or E, depending on whose history of the ESA, FiF, AAC, Network, CCP etc. you follow.

The point being, I think the integrity of this "investigation" became even more deeply flawed with the introduction of Bp. Wantland's name into it. Some of us have longer memories than Conger may have assumed.


Who Will Be Our Witness?

From Bishop Marc Andrus of California:

...Immediately after the Windsor Report was released, I and other bishops pledged to Gene that we would not attend the Lambeth Conference if he were not invited, as a stand of solidarity with him.

For some time now Gene has stated that he thinks all The Episcopal Church bishops should attend, so that as many voices can be at the table as possible. I have accepted this as wise and good counsel.

At the same time, it seems imperative to me that I find some creative way to attend that does not seem to support Gene’s exclusion by silent acquiescence on my part. One solution that is being acted upon is being called “Witness at Lambeth.”

Witness at Lambeth is a piece of the listening process called for from the 1998 Lambeth Conference forward. It involves bringing the voices of LGBT people from around the Communion to Lambeth so they can tell their life stories to all who will listen. Some of these stories will be narrated in person, while others will be on videotape. I think it will be a moving, important witness, and I hope many will support the effort.

Also, I have come back from this most recent House of Bishops meeting resolved to have a consultation here in the Diocese of California about other ways witness can be carried out at the Lambeth Conference. I want to receive the creative thoughts and dreams of our people in patterning my and our participation in the Lambeth Conference.
Let me know if you hear more about the "Witness at Lambeth" initiative. It sounds like something we will want to support.

Thank you, Bp. Andrus. And thanks to Mary Beth for bringing this to our attention.

So, we have one "Witness at Lambeth." Which member of the House of Bishops will be next? Step right up; your people await your expressions of leadership.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More Violence in Nigeria

Josh alerts us to a press release from Changing Attitude. Here's part of it:

A shocking story of mob violence has emerged which almost culminated in the death of one of the leaders of the Changing Attitude Nigeria (CAN) group in Port Harcourt. The violent attack occurred in the context of the funeral ceremony being held for the sister of Davis Mac-Iyalla, attended by six members of the Port Harcourt group on Thursday, 20 March 2008.

The CAN Port Harcourt leader who was the subject of the attack said: “I am in total shock and living in fear while feeling the pains I suffered in the hands of a mob group that attacked me at the Service of Songs for Davis’s late sister. While hymn singing was going on a muscular man walked up to me and asked me for a word outside the compound.

“The next thing I saw was a mob group who were there to attack me. They started slapping and punching me, kicked me on the ground and spat on me. I have never known fear like I knew when they were brutalizing me. I thought they were going to kill me there and then. While beating me they were shouting: ‘You notorious homosexual, you think can run away from us for your notorious group to cause more abomination in our land?’ Those who attacked me were well informed about us so I suspect an insider or one of the leaders of our Anglican church have hands in this attack.”

Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England, said: “The attack on one of the CAN leaders in Port Harcourt is a terrifying indictment of the attitude of the Church of Nigeria to LGBT people. Violence against LGBT people has been encouraged by Archbishop Peter Akinola and the leaders of the Church of Nigeria. They have attacked the presence of LGBTs in church and society, and supported a bill which would reinforce prejudice against LGBT people.

“Changing Attitude calls on the Church of Nigeria to denounce violence against LGBT people. We challenge the leaders of the global south coalition to repent of their un-Biblical views which fuel prejudice against LGBT people in our Communion”...
The Advocate is also reporting this story.

Regarding the call for the Church of Nigeria to denounce such violence, I wouldn't hold your breath. Abp. Akinola's way of engaging in the Communion-wide Listening Process is to support and advocate for legislation to incarcerate all gays. Beyond that, Akinola seems to have few problems with violence, as long as the victims are either Muslim or, apparently, gay.

Regarding Abp. Akinola's involvement in violent acts, it has been almost a month since he was implicated in the 2004 massacre in Yelwa, yet to date there has been no response to our questions regarding those implications, other than a weak attempt to sidestep the issue by his communication staff. His silence is cause for me to wonder why he is so hesitant to issue a clear denial, unless he was somehow involved, and is simply hoping the questions will just go away. Well, they're not going away this week, Archbishop.

First, let me remind our readers of the story, which originated in an article written by Eliza Griswold:

......Two months after the church was razed, Christian men and boys surrounded Yelwa. Many were bare-chested; others wore shirts on which they’d reportedly pinned white name tags identifying them as members of the Christian Association of Nigeria...According to Human Rights Watch, 660 Muslims were massacred over the course of the next two days...

...At the time of the massacre, Archbishop Peter Akinola was the president of the Christian Association of  Nigeria...When asked if those wearing name tags that read “Christian Association of Nigeria” had been sent to the Muslim part of Yelwa, the archbishop grinned. “No comment,” he said...
Now let me refresh Abp. Akinola's memory as to the specific questions that some of us would like him to answer:

What was your role in the 2004 massacre in Yelwa?

Did you send men from CAN to attack Yelwa?

And now new questions need to be asked:

What do you know of this recent attack in Port Harcourt?

What will be your response to this attack?


The Times They Are A Changing

The sheriff (former SJ SC Pres) and the outlaw (eccentric heretic)
in better times (Nashotah House gym, 1989).

Monday, March 24, 2008

A "Heads Up" to San Joaquin

The Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin will meet this Saturday. They will begin with a Healing Service and Reception on Friday night (I presume it will be Friday night; note to EDSJ webmaster-a date would be helpful on that page). The agenda, report of the nominating committee and resolutions can be found here.

There's a couple of matters that I would hope faithful Episcopalians in San Joaquin will keep in mind during what should be a joyous and historic moment in the life of this Diocese.

First, anticipate some gate crashers. From the tone of the latest missive of the "Standing Committee Who May or May Not Be Episcopal, But We're Not Telling", it appears that they intend to keep up the charade that they are the REAL Standing Committee, and that John-David Schofield is the REAL Bishop of San Joaquin. Both claims are erroneous, yet I think it is still safe to assume that some of these men are going to show up on Saturday and try to disrupt things.

Why do I think that? First of all, because of their evident arrogance in their response to our Presiding Bishop's announcement that she could not recognize them as members of the Standing Committee of San Joaquin. For more on that,I refer you to a previous post; SC Shoots Themselves in the Other Foot. The bottom line is that all they had to do was declare their desire to remain as Episcopalians. Instead, they wrote an angry letter voicing various accusations against our Presiding Bishop. We're still waiting for these men to let us know if they are Episcopalians or members of the Southern Cone. Their refusal to answer that simple question suggests that our Presiding Bishop made a good call in deciding not to recognize them. Obviously, they have abandoned the Episcopal Church. Time to elect a new Standing Committee.

There's another reason to be prepared for these gate crashers. A prominent member of this former Standing Committee has a history of throwing temper tantrums. Numerous times he has been seen berating and shouting at members of his congregation, reducing them to tears. In every case, these members were women, of course. Keep in mind that this Diocese was first well known for its anti-women stance before it jumped on the anti-gay bandwagon. This man obviously has some serious personal problems, and has no business continuing to function as a priest, let alone a member of the Standing Committee, until they are resolved. If he had not been protected by John-David for all these years, he would have probably been removed a long time ago.

I am inclined to believe that this priest was the primary author of the angry letter sent to our Presiding Bishop. After all, she's just another uppity woman, right? The problem for them is, it takes more than a few petty bullies to reduce Katharine Jefferts Schori to tears.

So, anticipate some rude disruptions, most likely when a woman is speaking from the podium. Plan how you will deal with these angry men. These are not "nice" people, keep in mind, so pleas to be civil are most likely going to be ineffective. Local police, or security personnel, may have to remove them. Just my opinion. As someone who thinks "being nice" is not always the appropriate response, and can actually be detrimental to resolving some situations, I'm advocating for a rapid and strong response to such shenanigans. But do what you think is best.

The other matter I would think it would be prudent to keep in mind is that there may be an attempt to sidetrack the Convention into a debate on the validity of the vote to depose John-David. It is clear, from the good comments made by some folks here and elsewhere, that the Canon needs to be cleaned up. But, that does not invalidate the vote.

For background on that matter, I refer you to Mark Harris' latest thoughts; Beyond Schofield and Cox.

Something that Mark brings up is worth noting. There are at least two precedents for the way the recent vote was carried out. In 1993, at a meeting of the House of Bishops, consent was given to depose Donald Davies. 137 bishops were present to vote at that meeting. In 2004, the House of Bishops consented to the deposition of Neptali Larrea Moreno. Here is how that action is described:

The Rt. Rev. Neptali Larrea Moreno, Bishop of Ecuador Central, has been deposed from the ministry by a unanimous vote of the House of Bishops, meeting at Camp Allen, Texas, on March 23...
Now, unless you want to believe that by some miracle every single bishop of TEC was present for that meeting, it is clear that the unanimous vote was of those bishops present for the meeting.

Yes, the wording of that canon needs to be cleaned up, and most likely will be in 2009. But right now, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin needs to move on. John-David Schofield is deposed. On Saturday, Jerry Lamb will become the new provisional Bishop of San Joaquin.

So, don't let that discussion distract you from the important business you have to carry out on Saturday. And beware of the gate crashers.

Pray for the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

Pray for the Church.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

On this Easter morning, I want to begin by focusing on Mary Magdalene as she is depicted in today’s Gospel lesson:
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him"…
And then later, “Mary stood weeping outside the tomb.”

First, we need to clarify who Mary is, as there’s been much confusion about her throughout history. Mary Magdalene (her name refers to Magdala, a city in Galilee) first appears in the Gospel of Luke as a woman that Jesus cures of possession. Mary, along with a number of other women, join Jesus and the disciples and "provided for them out of their means." Her name does not come up again until the Crucifixion, where she and other women are found at the foot of the Cross, after most of the disciples have fled. And then we encounter Mary again on Easter morning, weeping outside the tomb of Jesus. That is what we know. Over the years, other women who show up in some of the Gospel accounts have been identified as being this same Mary. Such identifications are nothing more than speculation.

What we know is that Mary was healed by Jesus, became one of his followers, and so presumably came to understand his message about the radical love of God. She witnessed the events of Good Friday. Jesus, who she deeply loved, was killed. Now she arrives at the tomb, weeping because his body has been stolen.

Good Friday was a dark day for all the followers of Jesus, for those like Mary who were present for the crucifixion, as well as for us in this present time as well. Good Friday represented an ugly moment in the history of humanity. It represented our attempt to destroy God's gift of love, a gift revealed to us through Jesus Christ. Good Friday represents humanity’s rebellion against that gift.

And so Mary weeps. Love has died. Most likely many of us have experienced a similar kind of grief when one we love has died. Mary’s heartbreak is somewhat unique, however; she knows that Jesus' death did not have to happen. It was not a death from natural causes. It was a death caused by angry and frightened people.

In Jesus, Mary found someone who accepted her, who loved her. And in so doing, Jesus had pointed beyond himself to the love of God. The knowledge that she was loved, that she was lovable, was most likely an important part of Mary’s healing.

"Do you love me?" In the end, isn’t that the unvoiced question in each of us? "Do you love me?" If we are honest, isn’t our deepest longing to have that question answered with a resounding “Yes!” That’s what we all really want…and often that search for love is what drives our life decisions.

I’ve sketched for you a brief picture of Mary’s grief caused by the death of someone who loved her. Now I want to paint for you a picture of another kind of death; one that maybe some of you have experienced.

When I was eleven, my father packed up some of my clothes, put me in the car, and drove me to my grandparents' home, which was a few hours away. As I watched from my grandparents' balcony as my father turned his car around and drove away, I knew it would be a long time, if ever, before I saw him again. A part of me was relieved. Because of the mental health problems from which other members of the family suffered, life in my father’s house had become a type of hell. But another part of me began to grieve. I loved my father, and desperately needed him to love me. And, possibly, in his own strange way, getting me out of the crazy house was my Dad’s way of expressing his love. But as an eleven year old standing on that balcony, that’s not how it felt. It felt as if my father’s response to the question in my heart, “Dad, do you love me?” had been a clear and resounding “No.” That day, to me, my father died. And so did the hope that I would ever find anyone else who could love me.

When love dies, we are deeply wounded. So deeply wounded that it may seem like nothing in heaven or on earth can ever heal that wound.

Now, that’s not the end of my story, or Mary’s story. Let’s first return to Mary.

Mary turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, `I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord!”
Just when all hope had left her, Jesus appears to Mary. Beyond all rational expectations, he came back! Not even death and the grave could keep Jesus’ love from Mary.

This is the power of the resurrection. As Paul describes it in his letter to the Romans:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We are often told that the importance of Easter is that through the resurrection our fear of death is overcome…that by the resurrection of Jesus we are assured that we also will be raised up on the last day. That is part of the Easter message. But, personally, I think the whole “fear of death” thing is greatly over-rated. For some of us, it is not death we fear. We fear life, or at least a life in which we are not loved.

I doubt very much if Mary would have felt much joy if the result of Jesus death was that she was given life everlasting. It was the loss of the love of God, made known to her through Jesus, for which she grieved. It was when love returned that her heart leaped for joy.

Now for the rest of my story. After my father drove away that day when I was eleven, I didn’t see him again until I was 15 and on my way to reform school. The courts insisted he be present for my trial. So, he showed up, but we never really spoke to each other. It would be another four years before we saw each other again.

As the years passed, and I had children of my own, every once in awhile I would take them to see their grandfather. But he and I never really had much to say to one another.

Then, an amazing thing happened. Over thirty years after he had left me, my Dad came back. I was in a very difficult place in my life; I was alone, scared, and had no idea what to do. And, out of nowhere, my father showed up, and offered his help. At first I doubted his sincerity. But he showed up the next day, and the next day, and just kept coming back. We talked; really talked. He told me how bad he felt about what he had done, and asked if it was too late to make up for all those lost years. My father had returned from the grave.

We had five good years before he passed away last year. During that time, my father showed me that he really did love me. We talked often, at least once a week, and visited one another as much as possible. I was able to be with him during the last few days of his struggle with leukemia. Not only did he show his love for me, in the end he let me love him as well.

Now, I don’t think it was coincidental that my father had started seeking God in the years before he came to my aid. And I need to tell you that it was my discovery of the love of God at an early age, and the decision later to devote my life to serving God, that held me together over those thirty years, and allowed me to be open to my father’s offer of love. I am convinced that it was through the redemptive power of God’s love that my relationship with my father was healed.

So, in Mary’s story, and in my story, the end is similar; Love came back. That’s my understanding of Easter. And that is why I find this day to be the most joyous day of the year. On this day, we are assured that nothing, neither death, nor the wounds of this life, will ever be able to separate us from the love of God made known to us in Christ Jesus our Lord. Thanks be to God.

Our Savior has returned! Rejoice!

I have one final request to make of each of you this Easter morning. Recall that I have told you before that we, the church, are the embodiment of Christ in the world today. We are the concrete expressions that Jesus lives and moves in the world right now. So, I ask you, when you look in the eyes of someone else today, look beyond the surface; look deep within their hearts, and hear the question they are really asking you. What they want to know from you is ”Do you love me?” Be the presence of Christ in the world today. Respond to that question with a resounding; “Yes, I love you with the love of Christ!” And then commit yourselves to expressing that love with your every word and your every deed.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Holy Saturday

Matthew 27:57-61
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

1. Silence

2. Read and listen for a word.

3. Meditate.

4. Read and listen for revelation.

5. Read and listen for praxis.

6. Silence.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

John 19:25b-27
Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
1. Be still.

2. Read and listen for your word.

3. Meditate

4. Read and listen. What is God revealing to you?

5. Read and listen. What is God calling you to do?

6. Be still, resting in God's presence.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Maundy Thursday

John 13:12-15
After Jesus had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord--and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you."
1. Be still.

2. Read and listen for your word.

3. Meditate

4. Read and listen. What is God revealing to you?

5. Read and listen. What is God calling you to do?

6. Be still, resting in God's presence.


Sometimes words are not enough. Don't tell me what you believe. Show me with your life.

Before my minds eye parade the saints of God that have inspired me along the way. It is not their words that I remember; it is their deeds.

Eternal God, I pray that you might fill me with your life-giving Spirit, that my every word and my every deed will proclaim the Good News of the healing power of your love.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday in Holy Week

John 13:33-35
Jesus said, "Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, `Where I am going, you cannot come.' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
1. Sit in silence.

2. Read the text, listening for your word or phrase.

3. Return to the silence, meditating on your word or phrase.

4. Read the passage a second time, now listening for what God might be revealing to you.

5. Read the passage a third time, listening for what God might be calling you to do.

6. Return to the silence, resting in God's presence.

The word was "love."

The meditation was primarily about how little I know of what the word really means. But then I remembered the feeling of holding my first daughter when she was a newborn. Nothing quite compares to that. I suppose that would be the closest thing to my defintion of "love." A deep devotion, without conditions.

That led me to remembering all those times I have encountered such unconditional love. When I started looking for them, I was surprised by how many memories of those moments of grace there were.

Can I express that kind of unconditional love to others? I can try. Even when confronted with those who bug me, I can seek the face of Christ in them, or, failing that, remember that they were also once someone's newborn, and deserving of the same deep devotion and unconditional love that I felt for my daughter.

When we strip away all the other stuff, what do people really want? To love, and to be loved. I can strive to offer that, not only by loving others, but by allowing others to love me, if we both deserve it or not.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday in Holy Week

A quick note about the selection of scripture passages; I am using a segment of the Gospel lesson appointed for the day in the Lectionary. There's no "agenda" behind my choices; just what I see as the heart of each passage.

Keep in mind that certain comments about the passages, such as discussing John compared to the Synoptics, suggests that someone is using their head way too much for this exercise. The intent is to discover what personal message for you, and quite possibly for you alone, can be found in the passage. If you listen with your heart, any passage of scripture will do; the text is only a tool, as is true of all scripture. It is you God cares about, not the book. The scriptures only come alive when a living being engages themselves with them.

So, tell your head to be quiet, and listen with your heart. What is God saying to you in these passages? And now that you've heard it, what are you going to do about it?

John 12:44-47

Then Jesus cried aloud: "Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world."
1. Enter the silence, quieting your mind and your heart.

2. Engage the text, listening for your word or phrase.

3. Return to the silence, meditating on your word or phrase.

4. Read the passage a second time, now listening for what God might be saying or showing you.

5. Read the passage a third time, listening for what God might be calling you to do.

6. Return to the silence, resting in God's presence.

What jumped out at me was "I do not judge."

My time of meditation on that phrase moved towards reflecting on the events of Monday. I managed the Requiem Mass, burial and reception alright, I thought. Some of my mother's family were present, and I said nothing inappropriate. I did my duty. I was feeling pretty good about not "judging" them, even though I had to grit my teeth while certain praises of my mother were voiced. If they only knew the real story.

But, was I really non-judgmental? I kept to myself, and avoided "the Greeks" (my term for that side of the family) as much as possible. The priest who officiated was an old friend, so I spent most of the reception talking with her. I intentionally sat at a table by myself, and she joined me later.

The truth of the matter is that I had judged them all. Using a bizarre form of logic, I had concluded that since they shared the same blood as my step-mother, they also should share her guilt. It wasn't so much that they excluded me; I shunned them. And when some of them began to wander over to talk with me, I excused myself, said good bye to my brother, and left.

Jesus said, "I do not judge." But, it appears that I do. Based on events that happened 45 years ago, I condemned them, and got some twisted satisfaction in feeling superior to them all.

And so I find myself condemned. Not only did I act inappropriately, I missed an opportunity for old wounds to be healed.

What can I do about it? That moment has come and gone. But, in the future, when I start feeling superior, I will strive to seek the face of Christ in those whom I am judging, and allow the light of Christ to overcome my own darkness, and give new life to my hardened heart.

Comments will be in moderation until this evening.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday in Holy Week

John 12:3-8:

Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?" (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."
1. Begin in silence, quieting your mind and your heart, becoming silent, empty, and open to God.

2. Engage the text, preferably reading it aloud to yourself, listening for a word or phrase that seems to speak to you at this moment.

3. Return to the silence, meditating on the word or phrase you have heard, and noting the thoughts or images that it brings forth.

4. Read the passage a second time, now listening for what God might be saying or showing you in this passage. Listen with your heart, not your head. How does this passage touch your daily life?

5. Read the passage a third time, listening for what God might be calling you to do in light of this time of reflection and meditation.

6. Return to the silence, resting in God's presence.

Comments will be in moderation until this evening.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday

Matthew 26:69-75:

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, "You also were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it before all of them, saying, "I do not know what you are talking about." When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." Again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man." After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you." Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, "I do not know the man!" At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: "Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.
1. We begin in silence, quieting our minds and our hearts, becoming silent, empty, and open to God.

2. We engage the text, preferably reading it aloud to ourselves, listening for a word or phrase that seems to speak to us at that moment.

3. We return the silence, meditating on the word or phrase we have heard, and noting the thoughts or images that it brings forth.

4. We read the passage a second time, now listening for what God might be saying or showing us in this passage. We listen with our hearts. How does this passage touch your daily life?

5. We read the passage a third time, listening for what God might be calling us to do in light of this time of reflection and meditation.

6. We return to the silence, resting in God's presence.

Comments will be in moderation mode until I land in California sometime late tonight.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Preparing for Holy Week

Before we talk about my plans for Jake's place during the next week, I want to tell you what is going on in my life right now.

I received a call from my brother Friday morning. My mother passed away Thursday night. Technically, she is my step-mother, but she is the only mother I have ever known. My natural mother left when I was two years old. My father remarried when I was five.

My reactions to learning this news have been quite unexpected. My mother was mentally ill. For some reason, I became the focus of her illness. I'll not go into the details of those strange years now. If you are curious, I've written about them here; Stopping the World; The First Definition.

You may have to read that entry to understand what I'm going to admit to next. My first reaction was one of relief. I no longer had to fear this person. But there was something else connected to that; the feeling of relief that I did not kill her. She lived to be 76, and died of natural causes, and I never vented my anger towards her. That may seem like a strange confession. Perhaps it is. But, as I look back on my younger years, and the intensity of my rage, it is a major accomplishment to have kept it reined in for all these years. And now I no longer have to be on guard against that rage breaking loose. In other words, in a rather unusual way, I am finally free of her influence over me.

The next emotion was a bit unexpected. A feeling of grief; of deep loss. Not so much for my mother as she was, but of that constant hope of what our relationship might one day become. That hope has now died. And with it, a bit of me has died as well.

Having confronted those initial strong feelings, and accepted them, next came thoughts of what to do. Not so much what I wanted to do, but what the situation called for. This woman was my father's beloved for almost 50 years. I need to honor that. And I need to be there for my brother as he grieves the loss of his mother.

So, tomorrow after the last liturgy, I'll be catching a plane to California. The burial is Monday in the local Episcopal parish. I won't officiate or preach. But I'll be present. I think that will be enough. I'll fly back early Tuesday to prepare for Holy Week in my parish. I ask for your prayers, for the repose of the soul of Pan, and for all those who mourn.

Now, regarding Holy Week at Jake's place...I don't know about you, but I need to step away from the Episcopal/Anglican soap opera for awhile. And, in light of the emotional place events have put me right now, I also need some silence. Be assured that all those matters we think are so important will still be there waiting for us when we return to our normal routine after Easter.

So, what I have in mind is a variation of the tradition of Lectio Divina. The variation I'll be using is very similar to the African/Lambeth Bible Study, with which some of you are most likely familiar.

The format is fairly simple:

I'll introduce a new passage from scripture each day.

We will begin in silence, quieting our minds and our hearts, using centering prayer methods, breathing exercises, the Jesus Prayer, or whatever else helps us become silent, empty, and open to God.

We'll then engage the text, preferably reading it aloud to ourselves, listening for a word or phrase that seems to speak to us at that moment.

We then re-enter the silence, meditating on the word or phrase we have heard, and noting the thoughts or images that it brings forth.

We read the passage a second time, now listening for what God might be saying or showing us in this passage. This is not a time for intellectual pondering, but listening with the heart. How does this passage touch your daily life?

We read the passage a third time, listening for what God might be calling us to do in light of this time of reflection and meditation.

And finally, we return to the silence, resting in God's presence.

I realize that this kind of thing is not for everyone. But even if it seems a bit too "touchy feely" for you, I encourage you to use this as an opportunity to "be still and know that I am God."

Those of you who will be participating are encouraged to share your thoughts and reflections, what you "heard," in the comments. If I am able, I'll be including some of my own responses in each post. I may not be able to do so for the next few days, but I will post at least a passage of scripture for reflection every day.

To facilitate this shift into Holy Week, and help us all set aside other matters, Jake's place will be going "silent" some time tomorrow, meaning all comments will be moderated, and will only appear at the end of each day. Beginning tomorrow, after the posting of the passage for reflection, I ask that you limit your comments to this exercise.

And so, let us begin:

Assist us mercifully with your help, O Lord God of our salvation,that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Friday, March 14, 2008

To All The Knee-Jerkers: Take a Pill and Read the Canons

Today some are in a frenzy, having smelled blood in the water regarding what they desperately want to believe are "canonical irregularities" at the last House of Bishop's meeting. One half of the team that put them onto this scent of blood was none other than George Conger, who we have previously pointed out sometimes gets his numbers wrong. That anyone would take a report from him as gospel at first reading is rather surprising. Here's part of that report:

Slightly more than one-third of all bishops eligible voted to depose bishops John-David Schofield and William J. Cox during the House of Bishops’ spring retreat, far fewer than the 51 percent required by the canons.

The exact number is impossible to know, because both resolutions were approved by voice vote. Only 131 bishops registered for the meeting March 7-12 at Camp Allen, and at least 15 of them left before the business session began on Wednesday. There were 294 members of the House of Bishops entitled to vote on March 12...
Now, sit down, take a deep breath, and let's see if I can explain the situation to you. No, I'm not a lawyer, and have never been a student of the canons, but I can read. Beyond that, dr. primrose was kind enough to point me in the right direction in the comments, so I feel fairly confident that I'm capable enough to help us work through this stuff.

It's about the Constitution and Canons, right? Then the first thing you need to do is go read them for yourself. You can find them here. We need to begin by considering if there were even enough Bishops present at their last meeting to conduct any business. Let's start by sorting out what makes a "quorum" of the House of Bishops.

From Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution:

Sec. 2. Each Bishop of this Church having jurisdiction, every Bishop Coadjutor, every Suffragan Bishop, every Assistant Bishop, and every Bishop who by reason of advanced age or bodily infirmity, or who, under an election to an office created by the General Convention, or for reasons of mission strategy determined by action of the General Convention or the House of Bishops, has resigned a jurisdiction, shall have a seat and a vote in the House of Bishops. A majority of all Bishops entitled to vote, exclusive of Bishops who have resigned their jurisdiction or positions, shall be necessary to constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
Now, unless there is some kind of legal jargon hidden in this that I'm missing, it appears that "resigned" (which would include "retired") Bishops have voice and vote, but do not have to be present to make up a quorum. Note also that "Assistant" Bishops are included, but "Assisting" Bishops are not.

If we look at Louie Crew's (L1 Newark 09) amazing compilation of information, by my count there are 132 Bishops who have not "resigned their jurisdiction." My count could be off by a few. See what number you come up with. That means that 67 active bishops would have been needed at the latest House of Bishop's meeting for a quorum to be present. Since over 130 were present, (possibly more or less...I'm using George's numbers, keep in mind) it's more than likely that they had a quorum.

Next is the question as to if there was a majority vote to depose John-David Schofield. For this part of our discussion, a tip of the saturno to dr. primrose for pointing out what should have been obvious to all of us, including the authors of the LC article.

First, we have to define some of the terms used in the Canons. In Title IV, Canon 15, we find this definition:

All the Members shall mean the total number of members of the body provided for by Constitution or Canon without regard to absences, excused members, abstentions or vacancies.
This seems to be the defintion the authors of the LC are suggesting, although that phrase it not used in regards to the House of Bishops. In Title IV, Canon 9, Section 1 "Of Abandonment of the Communion of This Church by a Bishop," we do indeed find this terminology used, in reference to the Review Committee: shall be the duty of the Review Committee, by a majority vote of All the Members, to certify the fact to the Presiding Bishop...
Yet, in the very next section, when speaking of the vote by the House of Bishops to depose, the phrase "All the Members" is not used. Here is the wording:

...Otherwise, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to present the matter to the House of Bishops at the next regular or special meeting of the House. If the House, by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote, shall give its consent, the Presiding Bishop shall depose the Bishop from the Ministry...
Follow the process in that section. The Presiding Bishop presents that matter to the Bishops at a meeting. If the Bishops entitled to vote give consent, the Bishop is deposed. The wording suggests that it is a majority of Bishops at that meeting entitled to vote that is required. Otherwise, the terminology "All the Members" would have been included, as it was in the previous section.

The wording of that canon certainly needs to be cleaned up. That is quite clear. But, what is also clear is that the vote was indeed valid, meaning that John-David Schofield is no longer a Bishop in the Episcopal Church.

Now, can we please begin talking about something else?


UPDATE: From Episcopal Life:

The Presiding Bishop's chancellor has confirmed the validity of votes taken in the House of Bishops on March 12, correcting an erroneous report published online March 14 by The Living Church News Service.

Chancellor David Booth Beers said votes consenting to the deposition of bishops John-David Schofield and William Cox conformed to the canons.

"In consultation with the House of Bishops' parliamentarian prior to the vote," Beers said, "we both agreed that the canon meant a majority of all those present and entitled to vote, because it is clear from the canon that the vote had to be taken at a meeting, unlike the situation where you poll the whole House of Bishops by mail. Therefore, it is our position that the vote was in order."

A quorum had been determined at the meeting by the House of Bishops' secretary, Kenneth Price, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Southern Ohio.
"...the canon meant a majority of all those present..." All those present, or "the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote" who were present, to clarify that both active and retired Bishops were to vote, without any qualifications, such as those included in the calling of a quorum.

The Lying Ex-Bishop

John-David Schofield has responded to his recent deposition. Here is part of that response:

...“The question that begs to be answered by the House of Bishops,” said Bishop Schofield, “is, why bishops who continue to teach and publish books that deny the most basic Christian beliefs are not disciplined while those of us who uphold the Christian Faith are?”...

...“I have not abandoned the Faith,” Schofield observed. “I resigned from the American House of Bishops and have been received into the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone. Both Houses are members of the Anglican Communion. They are not – or should not be – two separate Churches. It is the leadership of The Episcopal Church that is treating itself as a separate and unique Church"...
In response to this statement from John-David Schofield, I am offering an essay by Bryan Taylor-Ferguson, AOJN, who is an Episcopalian from the Diocese of Fort Worth. Bryan's thoughts are published here with his permission.

Lying ex-bishop.

He wasn't deposed for abandoning the Faith. He was deposed for abandoning and otherwise violating the discipline of the Episcopal Church. While the people ask for the candidate to be consecrated "a bishop in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church," it is the Episcopal Church to whom each ordained bishop is accountable for the oath of conformity. Meaning no irony here, but the Anglican Communion has no "discipline" of its own. Bishops are generally recognized anywhere they may go, but they remain accountable to the Church that made them a bishop and where they serve. And there is no appeal beyond that Church if they run amuck and suffer the consequences. Those are the facts.

NEITHER the House of Bishops of TEC nor the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone "belong" to the Anglican Communion. Their churches do.

And yes, they ARE two churches, not one. The Anglican Communion is not a church (much less "The" Church). It is a federation of freely allied but independent and autonomous churches. That's still all it is, regardless of who says or thinks or wishes otherwise.

Within that communion, there have always been boundaries, and the Southern Cone has violated them by intervening in the affairs of the Episcopal Church. This they did when they began "receiving" bishops, priests, and congregations from TEC and claiming them as their own.

They did that in spite of directives condemning all such jurisdictional intrusions, from the very authorities they claim supercede the autonomy of The Episcopal Church. Those would be the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Windsor Report, the Primates' Meeting, and others besides. So those authorities, the so-called Instruments of Unity (or Communion), are to be obeyed, apparently, only when it suits them.

(Now there's an irony. That is precisely how the independent, autonomous provinces respond to those same authorities: as it suits them. That's what "autonomous" means. But while the provinces making up the Anglican Communion are autonomous churches, bishops are NOT autonomous.)

Mr. Schofield was made a bishop of the Episcopal Church BY the Episcopal Church. His status as a bishop, his oath of conformity, and his claim to membership in the Anglican Communion are all contingent upon his conduct in the Episcopal Church and no other.

None of which has any connection to the diocese he was formerly bishop of. It didn't become his upon his consecration. No bishop gets a right to preserve the diocese as it suits him, or to control what kind of bishops may succeed him or her in office. Nor is there any exception to their oath of conformity It doesn't have the legal capacity to remove itself from The Episcopal Church. Moreover, the Province of the Southern Cone restricts new dioceses to the geographical territory of the Province, which is made up of the nations of Argentina, Chile, and others at the southern tip of South America. That's right: the Southern Cone House of Bishops violated their own church's constitution in "receiving" San Joaquin. Schofield's assertion that he has just moved from one house to another within the larger Anglican Communion is built on these very shaky assumptions and claims.

As for his question, "why bishops who continue to teach and publish books that deny the most basic Christian beliefs are not disciplined while those of us who uphold the Christian Faith are?” the answer is not all that complicated.

He is not being disciplined for upholding the Christian Faith. He is being disciplined for schismatic activities culminating in this bogus attempt at diocesan secession. Indeed, it is precisely the same tolerance for diversity of belief that has allowed Schofield, Iker, and others to retain their status as bishops and allowed them wide latitude within their dioceses all these many years. If we were to think in terms of national life, their behavior would be termed fraud at least and probably sedition, consipiracy to commit treason, and treason. Schofield enjoyed exactly the same tolerance as Spong, and for exactly the same reason, until he crossed over from conspiracy to actual schism.

Bishops don't "solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church" until it changes in a way they don't like. I see no exceptions there on page 513 of the Book of Common Prayer, and no license anywhere to begin doing anything a bishop may think is justified when finding himself with such profound animosity toward the majority of that same church.

"We must serve God rather than men." All-righty then. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. But you won't be a bishop of this church any more, and you go as an individual, not as a bishop and not with your former diocese. The diocesan office, the car, the retreat center, any diocesan property whatsoever stays because it isn't yours and never was. Telling people otherwise is fraud. Any action that makes that property unavailable for use by Episcopalians is theft. Much whining about litigation being so un-Christian, but how about the Ten Commandments? Litigation wouldn't be necessary without the innovations cooked up by this years-long conspiracy to overthrow the constitutional and canonical processes (and results) of our church governance, the very "discipline" to which all bishops "solemnly engage to conform." It was not the Episcopal Church who invented bizarre legal theories and ridiculous pseudo-precedents to persuade people that they could do what canon and civil law pretty clearly says they cannot, and secede from the Church without any property consequences. It was the rejectionists who invented the concept of "primatial oversight" in order to keep from getting girl cooties from the Most Rev'd Katharine Jefferts Schori. It was Schofield, Iker and company who have stayed away from House of Bishops meetings as often as not, and kept the people of their dioceses from participating in any activities with other dioceses, or with the national church, who have made dialog and compromise impossible by refusing to even come to the table.

This isn't historic Anglicanism. It isn't the Episcopal Church of their beloved but distorted memories. It's a religion based on a purity code, where contamination--by women, by homosexuals, by people whose beliefs may not exactly mirror theirs--determines where they will go and what they will do. That's a new religion within Anglicanism as surely as the bogey-man "revisionism" they carry on about, and which barely resembles the Episcopal Church most of us actually know and support.

Mr. Schofield is no longer a bishop as far as Episcopalians are concerned, and I'm calling him a liar on all the above counts.

Bryan Taylor-Ferguson, AOJN

Strong words. However, I fail to see any inaccuracies in them.

We've used lots of strong words regarding the situation in San Joaquin over the last few months. And no doubt Bryan's essay will generate even more strong words. That's ok. Sometimes we need a safe place to speak our truth, even if our words cause more gentle folk to feel uncomfortable.

So say it. Get it all out of your system. Because we're going to be moving on, starting tomorrow.

To the small degree that we were able, we have contributed to the outcome in San Joaquin that we have witnessed over the last few days. If that contribution was primarily positive or negative is certainly debatable. But what I hope we can all agree on is that it is now time to let all that go, and allow those in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin to begin the work of rebuilding in the light of a new day, without the clouds of yesterday obscuring their vision.

So if you have something to say about the recent events in San Joaquin, this may be your last chance, at least for the next week, to give them voice. I have some very different types of conversations in mind for Holy Week, and I'd prefer to not have this matter still lingering about.