Friday, May 30, 2008

Evangelism

If you are willing, I'd like to do a little brainstorming on the topic of "evangelism." I'm going to ask five questions. Since this is a brainstorming session, there are no wrong answers. Ready? Here we go:

1. Define the term "evangelism."

2. How do Episcopalians engage in evangelism?

3. How might Episcopalians do a better job as evangelists?

4. How do you do evangelism?

5. After reflecting on this, and reading the responses of others, are there new ways of being an evangelist that you might consider adopting?

J.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bps. Schofield and Cox Were Properly Deposed

The Lead points us to a letter from Bishop Stacey Sauls, Chair of the Task Force of Property Disputes, to the House of Bishops:

Subsequent to our meeting at Camp Allen, some Bishops of The Episcopal Church and some commentators have suggested that we may have failed to follow our own rules for giving consent to the deposition of a Bishop for abandoning the communion of this Church. A careful analysis and examination of the canon law, however, confirms that consent to deposition was procedurally appropriate, as the House’s Parliamentarian ruled and the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor has advised.

This memorandum is intended to provide the Members of the House with necessary legal background and the reasoning supporting that conclusion for the assurance of the Members as to past actions and in advance of their consideration of any additional such actions in the future...
There is a detailed history of the Abandonment Canon provided, which expands on Robert's analysis. Bishop Saul's letter also clarifies other matters, such as precedent and procedural safeguards.

The final point is worth repeating:

...Finally, it must be noted that no Member of the House of Bishops, present or not present, requested further action, investigation, or hearing as permitted under House rules. No challenge was made to the Parliamentarian’s ruling on the meaning of Canon IV.9. Similarly, no Member of the House of Bishops, as permitted by Rule XVII, requested reconsideration of the House’s action. Again, no request having been made at the time, the right to do so must now be considered waived.
Two Bishops abandoned the communion of TEC. They were deposed, without objection. It is a done deal, regardless of how many letters objecting after the fact are published on the net.

This document will be a valuable resource in the future. When those who will never be satisfied insist on continuing to flog this dead horse, this letter will provide you with all the necessary information to refute their misconceptions.

J.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Further Evidence for Bp. Duncan Being Deposed

You may recall that the Title IV Review Committee ruled in January that Bp. Robert Duncan has abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church. The evidence considered by the Committee can be found here. Our discussion of this matter can be found here.

The House of Bishops will be asked to give consent that he be deposed at their Fall meeting. Before anyone brings up a popular red herring, the lack of an inhibition (think "restraining order") does not dismiss the charges against him.

It appears that Bp. Duncan continues to break the vows he took when consecrated as a Bishop in TEC (" ...I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church...") as he pushes forward his plans for an attempted coup. From Friday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, a man at the epicenter of forces shaking the world Anglican Communion and its affiliated U.S. Episcopal Church, got a standing ovation from about 75 people in Waukesha County this week as he said that a new North American church was arising for traditionalists opposed to same-sex blessings and gay, partnered bishops...
75 people? Out here in the rural Jersey Pine Barrens, we offer a free meal to everyone who shows up and draw out more bodies than that. Maybe Bp. Duncan needs to offer free pizza if he wants to attract a significant crowd?

Continuing with the article:

..."What I can tell you about a meeting of the lead bishops was that there was unanimity among us, that all of the efforts that are swelling up from the ground around the country are to be encouraged, and that we actually anticipate that we will be in a situation within 24 to 36 months in which . . . a separate ecclesiastical structure in North America within the Anglican Communion will exist as a united reality. And that I think is very good news"...
There's the quote that needs to be added to the file; "...a separate ecclesiastical structure..." Keep in mind that this is code for his real intention; a "replacement jurisdiction," which means, as so bluntly stated by David "I Like a Good Fight" Anderson, they want the whole Anglican "franchise" in North America.

One more interesting quote from the article:

...By Duncan's count, more than 300 U.S. parishes have split from the Episcopal Church and placed themselves under the jurisdiction of willing Anglican bishops from Africa and South America. But he acknowledges that national church leaders dispute that tally...
He is using "creative" math again. In that 300 are a bunch of congregations, such as those that are part of the REC, AMiA, etc., that left TEC some time ago, and are not in communion with Canterbury. That is what is behind his "Common Cause Partnership" idea. Since he could only gather together about 50 Episcopal congregations to support his call for schism, he expanded the definition of his organization, to make it look like he had this big following.

On a related note, a group of faithful Episcopalians in Bp. Duncan's own Diocse of Pittsburgh have started the difficult work of dismantling his propaganda machine. This is not easy work, as the false messages are cloaked in half-truths and much speculation.

The particular piece of propaganda that Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh decided to shine a light on is a supposed "fact" sheet regarding "realignment" hosted on the Diocese of Pittsburgh's website. PEP's point-by-point response is entitled Realignment Reconsidered. This is an excellent, albeit lengthy, resource that you may want to bookmark. Here's just an example of what you will find:
2)Why are we really considering realignment? Are the differences between the Diocese of Pittsburgh and The Episcopal Church really just about Gene Robinson and sexual morality, like the popular media argues?

(From the Diocese of Pittsburgh)
Newspapers and mass media are more concerned about sales than theology. As has always been the case, sensational oversimplifications (especially that contain the word “sex”) sell more papers than quiet truths. In actuality, this debate re-volves around questions like, “Is Jesus really who he said he is?”, “Can we trust Sacred Scripture?”, and “Are there absolute moral norms given to us by God?” The “big issue” here is what it means to be a Christian, not just one single facet of morality.

(PEP's response)
Indeed, the dispute within The Episcopal Church is not all about sex, although the subject seems to be raised by those favoring realignment with surprising regularity. The Episcopal Church believes in the divinity and uniqueness of Jesus and in the historical creeds. Episcopalians believe that interpreting the Bible is an ongo-ing enterprise, however, and that many issues of morality cannot be resolved without reference to a particular social context. Episcopalians also believe that the Holy Spirit is a source of continuing revelation in the world. Episcopalians do not worship the Bible, but the Triune God.

Those urging realignment, on the other hand, reject the traditional Anglican em brace of diversity and seek to impose particular theological understandings on the whole church, to the exclusion of competing ones. They are inconsistent in this approach, however, as evidenced by their willingness to agree to disagree among themselves regarding the appropriateness of ordaining women...
Do go read the whole thing.

It appears that Bp. Duncan places little value in the vows he took when consecrated as a Bishop, and really doesn't care if he is deposed or not. Otherwise, one would think he would choose his words a little more carefully.

I would guess that he has activated the "dual citizenship" ploy, and has already made vows of obedience to some foreign Primate. Why anyone would expect him to honor those vows, after he so recently shrugged off the bonds of his former vows, is beyond me. Any speculation as to which foreign Primate he has sworn his allegiance?

Keep an eye on Pittsburgh. Things should continue to get interesting in that part of the neighborhood.

J.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day


Following the Civil War, many communities set aside a day to remember those who had died. The graves of the fallen were adorned with flowers and flags, and special services of remembrance were held. Eventually, the Union and Confederate observances were combined to become Decoration Day. The name "Memorial Day" was first used in 1882, but was not designated as an official Federal holiday until 1967.

In the last couple of years, we haven't spoken much about national matters here at Jake's place. One reason for this is that I believe nationalism is rarely appropriate within the life of the Church. Beyond that, many of us often find good reasons to be quite critical of our government, especially in regards to the current sad chapter unfolding in Iraq. On this day, I ask that we set those matters aside.

As far as personal disclosure, I am a veteran, being honorably discharged in 1977. I enlisted at 19, at the very end of the Vietnam era, and was stationed state-side for my entire enlistment. In a strange way, I was carrying on a family tradition. My father passed up a college scholarship when he was 18 to enlist in the Navy at the end of WWII. The war ended while he was still at sea during his first cruise. My grandfather enlisted in the Army at the end of WWI. He was discharged before his company was issued rifles.

I think that sometimes it is difficult for those who have never served in the military to understand what would cause young men and women to make such a decision. I want to suggest that there are two words that come close to explaining such motivation; honor and duty. For a young person to feel it is time for them to step up and "do their duty" for the sake of their nation is a honorable decision. Personally, I feel every citizen should be required to give two years to civil service; if not as a part of a military unit, then in some other capacity.

Once these young people have taken an oath to defend our nation, it is a matter of keeping your word; of honoring the promises, the vows, you have taken. Once a part of the organization, it becomes a matter of living into those promises. Others are counting on you. If you decide to break your promises, it will impact those who are part of your team. In some situations, it is not only your own life that could be lost by refusing to do your duty; you may be putting other lives at risk as well.

Matters involving honor and duty often transcend other ethical debates regarding right and wrong. So, please, use care before judging our young men and women in uniform. Respect that, in their minds, they are doing their duty. That is a noble endeavor.

Since I'm not sure when, if ever, we will engage this particular topic again, I want to say just a little bit more. I consider myself blessed to be a citizen of the United States of America. I don't always agree with our leaders, and often am saddened by societal trends, but such disagreements and disappointments are the result of a deep love for our land. I am thankful that I have the freedom to be so critical. I still believe that we have the potential to continue to be a great nation.

Today, we are invited to remember those who have fallen. As an example of such remembrances, I invite you to visit A Guy in the Pew.

A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. Eastern time today. I suggest that we all pause our activities and take a moment to remember those who have died serving their country. And then, you may want to offer the following prayers.

Let us pray.

Almighty God, giver of all good things:
We thank you for the natural majesty and beauty of this land.
They restore us, though we often destroy them.
Heal us.

We thank you for the great resources of this nation. They
make us rich, though we often exploit them.
Forgive us.

We thank you for the men and women who have made this
country strong. They are models for us, though we often fall
short of them.
Inspire us.

We thank you for the torch of liberty which has been lit in
this land. It has drawn people from every nation, though we
have often hidden from its light.
Enlighten us.

We thank you for the faith we have inherited in all its rich
variety. It sustains our life, though we have been faithless
again and again.
Renew us.

Help us, O Lord, to finish the good work here begun.
Strengthen our efforts to blot out ignorance and prejudice,
and to abolish poverty and crime. And hasten the day when
all our people, with many voices in one united chorus, will
glorify your holy Name. Amen.

O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful
hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of
decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant
that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the
benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This
we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(BCP, pp. 838-839)

J.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Marriage Equality in Pasadena

From the Pasadena Star-News:

All Saints Church in Pasadena, one of the largest and most liberal Episcopalian congregations in the country, announced Thursday it will begin performing wedding ceremonies for gay couples starting June 16.

In what All Saints Rector the Rev. Ed Bacon called a "historic vote," church officials adopted the "Resolution on Marriage Equality" unanimously Thursday, after a special meeting of the 3,500-member congregation's lay leadership.

The church's action came in response to the California Supreme Court's May 15 ruling overturning the ban on gay marriage approved by voters in 2000.

All Saints has performed blessings for same-sex couples for the past 15 years.

But Bacon described the church vestry's vote as showing "stirring courage to move beyond lip service" to the church's commitment to equality by extending marriage rights to gay members.

"Today's decision is consistent with All Saints Church, Pasadena's identity as a peace and justice church," Bacon said in a statement Thursday. "It also aligns us with the Scriptures' mandate to make God's love tangible by `doing justice and loving mercy' (Micah 6:8) and with the canons of our Episcopal Church that forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation"...
Susan Russell provides us with the text of the resolution passed by the Vestry of All Saints:

MARRIAGE EQUALITY RESOLUTION
Adopted by the Vestry of All Saints Church, Pasadena, California
on May 22, 2008

WHEREAS, our baptismal covenant commits us to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being;”

WHEREAS, Holy Scripture reveals that we are all created in God’s image and that God embraces all people as equally precious;

WHEREAS, the Vision Statement of All Saints Church, Pasadena, calls us to “embody the inclusive love of God in Christ” and our Foundational Values urge us to be “dispersed throughout this multicultural region for courageous and risk-filled work of peace and justice;”

WHEREAS, All Saints Church, Pasadena, currently blesses same-sex unions, but does not perform the rite of marriage for same-sex couples;

WHEREAS, on May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court issued its decision holding that marriage is a “basic civil right of personal autonomy and liberty” “to which all persons are entitled without regard to their sexual orientation;” and

WHEREAS, as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, on June 16, 2008, the State of California will begin to license and recognize same-sex marriages;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Rector, Wardens and Vestry do declare that, as of June 16, 2008, All Saints Church, Pasadena will treat all couples presenting themselves for the rite of marriage equally.
On a related note, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is receiving large numbers of phone calls from the supporters of "Limits on Marriage" (the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in California) about his statement that he will not support a constitutional amendment.

The Governor needs to hear some alternative voices.

Because of the number of calls he is getting on this matter, there is now an automated system set up. To register your support of the California Supreme Court`s decision on LGBT marriage:

Call 1-916-445-2841 (Governor`s office).
Wait until you are instructed to press 1 for English.
Press 1, 5, 1, 1
(1=English / 5=opinion / 1=court / 1=support).

J.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Advantages of Having an "Offshore" Bishop AND a "Liberal" Bishop

Have you wondered about why some priests are so enthusiastic to become part of Province in another part of the world, yet hesitant to leave TEC? Doesn't dual residency in two Provinces simultaneously seem too complicated to be worth the effort?

Father Christian explains the advantages:

...Indeed, upon seeing my faithfulness to the church’s historic via media amazed and admiring clergy can only ask “But Father Christian – how do you cope with having two Bishops? Isn’t one bad enough?”

This question only betrays their sorry ignorance of Scripture, for clearly ”no man can serve two masters”(Matthew 6:24). Neither would I even attempt such a folly. At St. Onuphrius’s we diligently only recognise the authority of one Bishop at a time.

Since our worldly, liberal local Bishop is a stressed and easily intimidated man it makes perfect sense to keep him available for those occasions when he can be useful. When it comes to adding color to community events, or making a really big impression at society weddings, nothing adds a sense of gravitas like a well-trained Bishop telling everyone what a wonderful Priest you are. What’s more, because your original bishop isn't a foreigner there's no risk of him embarrasing you by speaking with an accent.

On the other hand, an alternate Bishop living thousands of miles away lets one dispense with so many annoying little nuisances of parish administration, since it removes the need to seek the Bishop’s permission before developing or selling church property, or rewarding oneself with a much-needed Sabbatical. Someone on the other side of the world is far too busy to care about such trifling matters. Besides, until all this excitement came about it’s unlikely his See consisted of more then twenty goat-herd families and a large garden full of chickens. Thanks to you he’s now enjoying more prestige and attention than he’d previously ever dreamed possible, so there isn’t the slightest risk of him upsetting the source of his new-found importance by questioning you about anything. He may be a Bishop, but he’s not so foolish he can’t realise that since you’ve jumped ship once there’s no reason you won’t jump again. And then who’s going to pay for all those first-class flights?

Finally, having two Bishops lets you simply answer “the Bishop requested it” to any thing your annoying parish busy-body asks (every parish has one – even St. Onuphrius’), and then leave them to work out for themselves which Bishop you’re talking about. Since neither is talking to the other there’s no risk of them comparing notes, so if they take the trouble to check with both you can simply accuse whichever Bishop the busy-body dislikes more of lying and be confident they'll believe you, since they'll be delighted to have "proof" of the "other side" acting dishonestly. Which will leave you free to continue ruling as master of your own domain...

Thank you, Father. Things are much clearer now.

There are indeed some obvious advantages to such a setup. I wonder if there's a Bishop in Tanzania, or some equally distant place, seeking to establish a missionary outpost in North America? If so, send me a note and we'll talk.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis Will Pass on GAFCON

You can find background on this situation here, here, here and here.

Here is a summary of how the GAFCON conference has developed:

A few Primates decided to hold a global conference for "Rejectionist" Anglicans in Jerusalem. It seems they neglected to consult with anyone else except their little group.

Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis, Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East, suggested that maybe the timing and the venue for this "conference" was not such a good idea. He was ignored.

The Bishop of Jerusalem, the host of this proposed conference, had not even been consulted before the invitations went out. When hearing about the plans through the press, he voiced his reservations about holding such a conference in Jerusalem.

Archishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, Australia, and Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola attempted to pressure Bishop Suheil Dawani of Jerusalem into changing his mind. They were not successful. Bp. Dawani's answer was no. Yet, the GAFCON organizers continued to promote this conference in Jerusalem in spite of the Bishop of Jerusalem's objections.

The "conference" was then "rearranged," with the conference part happening in Jordan, followed by a pilgrimage in Jerusalem. About 1,000 people are signed up to attend. About 222 of them are Bishops. Of that number, 219 are Bishops of those Provinces that have invaded North America and attempted to claim congregations to which they have no right (Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and the Southern Cone).

Thinking Anglicans provides us with a recent letter from The Most Rev. Mouneer Anis, Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, informing us that he will not be attending GAFCON. Here's part of it:

...For this reason I appeal to you to take the above statements fully into your consideration and to be careful not to make binding decisions which may result in dividing Anglicans in the Global South and elsewhere. At the same time I would like to share with you a little more of my own thinking.

I believe that the best strategy for safeguarding orthodox faith and unhindered mission is to have parallel processes for building unity among those loyal to the biblical historic faith and ethics in both the South and the North. Orthodox leaders in the South and in the North need to continue to work together and support each other.

I would respectfully add that the Global South must not be driven by an exclusively Northern agenda or Northern personalities. The meeting of the Global South in ‘09 will be critical for the future, and the agenda will need careful preparation ahead of time...
I disagree with much Bp. Anis has to say in this letter, but I can agree on two points; this current unpleasantness is indeed being driven by "Northern personalities." And I agree that this meeting will be critical for the future, since it is obvious that what is being attempted at this conference is nothing less than to establish a new and exclusive global Communion.

Even a conservative Primate like Bp. Anis, in whose Province GAFCON is being held, can't support it. Why? Because of the "Northern personalities" that are driving it (Chris Sudgen, Martyn Minns, Bill Atwood, John Guernsey, Bob Duncan, Jack Iker, etc.) Imagine that.

J.

I Drowned My Laptop

For those who may not have known, liquids and laptops don't mix well.

I was working on a video project last night. The deadline was today, so I was frantically running around hunting up cables, then editing frames. As it was getting late, and I still didn't have a master done, I decided it was time for coffee. Sat it down on a book on my desk. I didn't realize that book was teetering on the edge of a smaller book underneath. The book fell, and the cup of hot coffee (with cream and sugar no less) tipped right onto the top of my keyboard. Before I could scoop up the laptop, and pour almost the whole cup out of its innards, the power shut off.

I've taken it apart, cleaned it with rubbing alcohol as best as possible, but few signs of life. And, of course, I hadn't saved the video project. It was gone.

I still had the original tape, so it was a matter of starting from scratch and remaking the whole thing. I got it done in time for the meeting at which I was supposed to present it, although I was an hour late. And the quality was not what it should have been.

I'll probably be able to save the data on the hard drive. Three years of sermons are in there, plus a lot of documentation regarding various net-related stuff.

Tonight I did a little more surgery on my drowned friend, and got a spark of life. But the keys all stick, and it is doubtful if it will ever function quite right again. Luckily, resourceful Demi had this cheap Acer sitting around, which is what I'm using. But I don't have the patience to spend half my online time staring at this dagnabbed tiny hourglass. So, I suppose it's time to find a new puter.

In other matters, my son is getting married here next week. The family is all flying out, and I don't have this house together yet. I'd hoped to have the deck done, but that's not going to happen. So, I'm going to focus on at least unpacking most of the boxes, and do some planting out front.

Out front. Heh. I didn't tell you about the sprinkler dude, did I? We had an irrigation system installed. They brought over this cool machine, called a "ditch witch." It digs the trench and pulls the tubing through the ground all at the same time.

Anyway, early the other day, after I admired their machine, I went back inside for a cup of coffee. Next thing I knew, the news went off and the net went dead. The ditch witch had cut my cable.

Now keep in mind that when the wires are underground, they are buried in a bundle; electricity, phone and cable, with the gas line usually in the same trench as well. The good news is that the lights and stove still worked. The bad news is that I still had to call all the utility companies. I had a squad of workmen diggin up my yard that day.

Beyond all that, got a couple of projects going on at church that need my attention right now. So, posting may be light for awhile; at least until I get a different puter.

Since I haven't been checking things the last few days, is it my imagination or has the animosity started increasing in the comments? I know; I started it. But hey, it's my turf. I can start it, and finish it. But that doesn't give us all a green light to go ballistic, does it? I didn't think it did.

Grace has been around here a long time, folks. Disagree with her, but if something harsh needs to be said, let JCF say it. That's what I usually do. They are friends. They'll work it out.

As far as Phil goes, remember that he is a child of God. Disagree, but let's not get petty and start launching personal attacks.

The content in the last post was important for some folks to see, I think. And we must continue to drag into the light the truth about such matters. But, I think we need to lighten up a bit (including me). Because, in the end, if I'm right, God reigns. And if Phil is right, God reigns.

Let's do what we can do, and trust God to do the rest. In other words, chill. Better yet, did you know that it is Spring outside? Get off the dang puter and take a walk or something!

Or, if you won't do that, then for a change of pace, let's hear your laptop recommendations.

J.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

No Negotiation With Schismatics

Every once in awhile we hear of a Bishop or Standing Committee who negotiates some kind of settlement with a group that wants to claim Abps. Akinola of Nigeria, Venables of the Southern Cone, Orombi of Uganda or Nzimbi of Kenya as their Primate. I want to suggest that such negotiations are not an appropriate pastoral response. Every instance of negotiation with a congregation who imagines they can pick their Bishop and Primate by a vote is deeply harmful to the Episcopal Church.

To understand why I made that statement, you have to keep the big picture in mind. First of all recall what we learned from the 2003 Chapman Memo:

Our ultimate goal is a realignment of Anglicanism on North American soil committed to biblical faith and values, and driven by Gospel mission. We believe in the end this should be a “replacement” jurisdiction with confessional standards, maintaining the historic faith of our Communion, closely aligned with the majority of world Anglicanism, emerging from the disastrous actions of General Convention (2003)...
(emphasis added)
Keep that phrase, "replacement jurisdiction" in mind. If you read the entire memo, the plan becomes quite obvious. A handful of folks, primarily bishops, priests, and attorneys, are trying to orchestrate a takeover of the Episcopal Church; building this "parallel universe" on the backs of our gay and lesbian members. So it was in 2003. So it is today.

Consider this 2004 Draft Proposal For Overseas Altenative Episcopal Oversight. It outlines three phases for slowly bringing offshore Bishops into the internal life of TEC.

Phase One is "Dual Citizenship." A priest stays canonically resident in ECUSA, but also becomes canonically resident in an offshore diocese. The suggestion is made that CAPA (Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa) take an active role in this process. Note that this explains the bizarre statement of John-David Schofield the day after he was inhibited:

...Bishop Schofield is currently a member of both the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church and the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone, a position not prohibited by either house. Governing documents of TEC do not prohibit relationships between different members of the Anglican Communion, rather they encourage it...
Continuing with the 2004 proposal for AEO:

Phase Two: The priest leaves ECUSA for the offshore diocese. The congregation leaves with the priest. The ECUSA bishop deposes the priest. The offshore bishop does not recognize the deposition. The example given is David Moyer, who was deposed by his Bishop for refusing the Bishop's visitations for 10 years. He was then immediately licensed to serve by Bishop Duncan. He was then quickly moved under the authority of an African bishop. Moyer now claims to be a bishop himself, which is rather bizarre, since he was deposed as a priest.

Phase Three: The offshore bishop delegates responsibility of spiritual oversight to the Network (a group of extreme conservatives within ECUSA). The U.S. is divided up into "overseas diaspora archdeaconries."

Phase Three never really got launched, because before it could, the Windsor Report was released, which included this recommendation:

We call upon those bishops who believe it is their conscientious duty to intervene in provinces, dioceses and parishes other than their own:
  • to express regret for the consequences of their actions

  • to affirm their desire to remain in the Communion, and

  • to effect a moratorium on any further interventions.

  • We also call upon these archbishops and bishops to seek an accommodation with the bishops of the dioceses whose parishes they have taken into their own care.

    We further call upon those diocesan bishops of the Episcopal Church (USA) who have refused to countenance the proposals set out by their House of Bishops to reconsider their own stance on this matter. If they refuse to do so, in our view, they will be making a profoundly dismissive statement about their adherence to the polity of their own church.
    So the plan was revised,although the goal was not, as seen in this 2006 quote from David Anderson on the Larry King Show:

    Well, many of us that are orthodox, conservative Episcopalians have experience a real sense of isolation within the Episcopal church, and we're hoping for a better day to come for our own situation. We anticipate that at some point, the global communion will remove the Anglican franchise from the Episcopal church and grant it to another entity. We don't see how the Episcopal church can really continue the way it is.
    David "I Like a Good Fight" Anderson was the President of the American Anglican Council, which morphed into the Network, which is now in the process of morphing into the Common Cause Partnership. He now claims to be a Bishop, having been consecrated by some foreign Province. As a matter of fact, all the priests listed as "consultants" in the previously noted AEO Proposal, Bill Atwood, John Guernsey and Martyn Minns, have been consecrated as Bishops by foreign Provinces.

    That is the new plan. Take priests who were raised up and educated by the Episcopal Church, have sworn to be loyal to the doctrine, discipline and worship of TEC, and consecrate them as Bishops of a foreign Province, and then send them back to the US to woo away more Episcopalians. This would change "the facts on the ground," it was assumed. Their ugly propaganda attack against TEC continued, almost all based on lies and half-truths, in the hopes that they could attract more members, and so that TEC would eventually be removed from the Anglican Communion. When that finally happened, they would be ready, with Bishops already in place, to take over.

    In 2006, a small group calling themselves the "Global South Anglicans" went public with their intention to "create a separate ecclestical structure...in the USA" in a document known as the Kigali Communique:

    We are convinced that the time has now come to take initial steps towards the formation of what will be recognized as a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA. We have asked the Global South Steering Committee to develop such a proposal in consultation with the appropriate instruments of unity of the Communion. We understand the serious implications of this determination. We believe that we would be failing in our apostolic witness if we do not make this provision for those who hold firmly to a commitment to historic Anglican faith...
    To date,there has been little enthusiasm for this idea in other parts of the Communion. No doubt most Bishops and Primates are imagining such a ploy being launched in their own backyards, and are not too fond of that notion.

    But, that is still the goal, as can be seen by the language used by Bp. Duncan of Pittsburgh to announce a meeting of the Network in 2007:

    ...to initiate discussion of the creation of an 'Anglican Union' among the partners, moving forward the vision of the Primates of the Global South for a new 'ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Communion in the USA...
    Foreign Bishops and Primates are conspiring with extreme conservatives in the US and Canada to "take the whole franchise." That is their end game. As we approach Lambeth, they want to claim as many congregations and Dioceses as possible, to show the leadership of the Anglican Communion that they are a viable option to replace what they would describe as "the apostate and heretical Episcopal Church."

    This is why Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori made the following recommendation in regards to negotiations with those abandoning TEC:

    ...The second category of cases involves diocesan leadership negotiating with congregants who wish to leave with Episcopal Church property. Agreements have been made with congregations in Dallas, Kansas, Olympia, Quincy, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

    Critical to these negotiations, in the Presiding Bishop's estimation, are the requirements that congregations not invite a primate or bishop from another province of the Anglican Communion to assume jurisdiction over the departing group and that the diocese be fairly compensated for the value of the real and personal property to be retained by the group of departing members...
    Even those groups which negotiate with the Diocese to leave who have not afiliated with some foreign Province sometimes conveniently "change their mind" after the fact, and declare that they are now part of Nigeria or the Southern Cone. They believe that they can remain as Anglicans if they have some small thread of a connection with Canterbury. I don't know of a single case in the last few years in which a break away congregation has not aligned themselves with a foreign Province.

    Until these foreign invasions cease, we cannot shift our stance. All 7,500 congregations in TEC belong to TEC, not the local congregation. A vote by the membership does not invalidate Canon I.7.4:

    All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission or Congregation is held in trust for this Church and the Diocese thereof in which such Parish, Mission or Congregation is located. The existence of this trust, however, shall in no way limit the power and authority of the Parish, Mission or Congregation otherwise existing over such property so long as the particular Parish, Mission or Congregation remains a part of, and subject to, this Church and its Constitution and Canons.
    The claims by foreign Provinces that they own congregations within the jurisdiction of TEC cannot be recognized.

    As has been said many times, the bottom line is that individuals may choose to leave TEC, but congregations and Dioceses cannot. By negotiating with the Southern Cone, Nigeria, Uganda or Kenya we validate their claims. As TEC and every one of those Provinces are still listed as members of the Anglican Communion, those foreign Primates have invaded another Anglican Province without permission. Since the congregations did not have the authority to accept an offer of joining another Province, these foreign Primates are also occupying properties that do not belong to them.

    I hope that Bishops and Standing Committees keep some of this in mind the next time they sit down to talk with a break away group. Regardless of the gentle rhetoric you may hear during such negotiations, their goal is nothing less than "the whole franchise." Every time we validate their existence, we help them move their goal forward.

    No negotiation. Foreign Provinces must leave the jurisdiction of TEC, or face the consequences.

    J.

    Friday, May 16, 2008

    Lambeth Conference: Fewer Than 20 Bishops Undecided



    Thinking Anglicans points us to an article about Lambeth invitation responses in the Church Times:

    On Wednesday, numbers stood at 620 of the possible 880 bishops in the Anglican Communion. Officials calculate that about ten per cent of sees are vacant. Nigeria has said that none of its 141 bishops will attend; nor will Uganda’s 31 bishops. This leaves fewer than 20 bishops unaccounted for...

    ...This week, the organisers of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) said that 280 bishops had registered to attend. GAFCON, a conservative gathering, takes place in Jordan and Jerusalem next month. It is now clear that many bishops plan to attend both conferences...
    Regarding GAFCON, let us recall Mark Harris' description of this gathering:

    ...GAFCON will go down in the history of the Anglican Communion as the foundational meeting of a new communion. Since the current one, the Anglican Communion is already peopled with a wide variety of church folk GAFCON will either have to take over, kicking the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada and a wide variety of other churches out, or start a world-wide Church of its own.

    We should have no doubts, however. The present brought to us this Christmas by this leadership group is rotten. GAFCON may succeed in its purposes, but the gaffe in GAFCON is that it is indeed the work of con artists.
    So, there are 280 Bishops going to this conference in Jordan. If we add together the Bishops of those Provinces that have invaded North America and attempted to claim congregations to which they have no right (Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and the Southern Cone), we can account for 219 Bishops. If we include the 3 Bishop in TEC who are collaborating with these foreign plum pickers (two from Pittsburgh and one from Fort Worth), we have identified 222 Bishops who are most likely to attend GAFCON. That leaves 58 Bishops attending from outside the Global South. Among those 58 will be some from the Common Cause Partnership, such as Bishops from the Reformed Episcopal Church, who are not in communion with Canterbury.

    Not exactly a balanced representation with which to launch a new global Communion, is it?

    Pray for our Bishops and the Lambeth Conference.

    Pray for the Church.

    J.

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    California Oveturns Marriage Ban

    From the AP:

    The California Supreme Court has overturned a gay marriage ban in a ruling that would make the nation's largest state the second one to allow gay and lesbian weddings.

    The justices' 4-3 decision Thursday says domestic partnerships are not a good enough substitute for marriage. Chief Justice Ron George wrote the opinion...
    Here's the opinion.

    From Integrity:

    ...As we rejoice in this movement forward on civil marriage equality, Integrity is working hard as to move the Episcopal Church forward on sacramental marriage equality," concluded Russell. "Although same-gender blessings are permitted by the Episcopal Church and are performed in a many dioceses and parishes, we believe the time has come for an official rite for blessing same-gender couples. Committed to the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments, we will be asking General Convention to authorize such a rite a year from now in Anaheim...
    Congratulations to our friends in California! I do believe I hear wedding bells ringing in the near future!

    J.

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    Regarding Those Border Crossings

    Cartoon by Dave Walker from the Church Times Blog.

    There seems to be some confusion in various quarters of the Communion regarding why Episcopalians are so deeply disturbed by Bishops and Primates from other Provinces claiming congregations and, as in the case of San Joaquin, entire Dioceses, that are within the Province of TEC as their own.

    First of all, for those who really desire to understand (rather than debate) this matter, it is important to separate it from any other current issues. Why these actions are being taken are not relevant to this particular discussion. Neither are various pronouncements from Bishops, Primates, or others in leadership positions within the Communion.

    What follows are just a few of the reasons why this has become a "line in the sand" for Episcopalians:

    1. To recognize the validity of a congregation being able to select their Bishop or Primate by a congregational vote is to invite chaos. We understand ourselves to be part of the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church." Our mission is rooted in acknowledging that since God is moving throughout the world, we cannot limit our view to what is best for our individual congregations.

    There's a name for the perspective of my parish being the only thing that matters; it's called congregationalism, and is quite dominant among Protestant denominations in the U.S., a nation that places high value on individualism. But it has never been considered a vision of the Church that is acceptable within Anglicanism.

    Simply put, one cannot just abandon their Diocese, or their Province, and pick a new Bishop or Primate. There cannot be more than one bishop with jurisdiction in a diocese, for valid practical as well as theological reasons.

    2. These foreign interventions short-circuit the pastoral response to disagreements between a congregation and their Bishop. There have always been those within a diocese who find themselves in disagreement with their Bishop on one matter or another. Situations in which the relationship between the bishop and a congregation becomes strained always includes in their goals some form of reconciliation. Sometimes the work of becoming reconciled takes many years. Usually such a reconciliation involves compromises being made by both the congregation and the Bishop. With most of the congregations that have recently left, there was no opportunity given for such reconciliation to occur. Why? Because a foreign bishop was waiting in the wings, promising them the moon.

    3. Various offers of compromise, such as Delegated Episcopal Oversight and the Episcopal Visitors Plan, in which those in conflict with their Bishop or Primate might have an alternative Bishop function in that capacity, have been rejected. The counter demands have included, without exception, a clause that the proposers knew would be unacceptable to the leaders of TEC. Usually, this took the form of giving veto power over any decisions to a foreign Bishop. This was not accidental. A compromise was never what was sought. That was not part of the plan:

    ...Our ultimate goal is a realignment of Anglicanism on North American soil committed to biblical faith and values, and driven by Gospel mission. We believe in the end this should be a “replacement” jurisdiction with confessional standards...

    ...Stage 2 will launch at some yet to be determined moment, probably in 2004. During this phase, we will seek, under the guidance of the Primates, negotiated settlements in matters of property, jurisdiction, pastoral succession and communion, If adequate settlements are not within reach, a faithful disobedience of canon law on a widespread basis may be necessary...

    ...While we cannot offer AEO under an AAC diocesan Bishop at this time, we do have non-geographical oversight available from “offshore” Bishops, and retired Bishops...
    The goal, in which "offshore" bishops now play an integral role, is to create a replacement jurisdiction within North America. If this means that they must use any means necessary to destroy TEC, they will do just that. Thus we have the intense smear campaign going on against TEC, often from the mouths of these same "offshore" Bishops.

    Compromises have been offered. They were rejected. Instead, foreign Bishops were brought in. This is considered unacceptable by Episcopalians.

    4. To justify the creation of this "replacement jurisdiction," outlandish lies have been repeated over and over again in an attempt to "prove" that TEC is apostate, heretical, etc. Even though these lies have been repeatedly exposed as the false accusations that they are, they continue to be repeated by those committed to destroying TEC. The foreign Bishops establishing beachheads in North America are depending on this constant flow of false propaganda to function as a smokescreen for their most unethical behavior. Episcopalians will not tolerate the continuation of this attack on our integrity to justify the plundering of our assets.

    5. The motivation behind the actions of some of the foreign Bishops and Primates involved in this scheme are questionable. For instance, the Province of the Southern Cone is known to be one of the smallest Provinces in the Communion. One motivation that must be considered is that Presiding Bishop Venables has discovered a way to alleviate the financial difficulties that such a small Province would most likely be encountering. A few healthy assessments from North American congregations would seem to be a very tempting idea.

    I'd rather not engage in such speculations, but, in light of the less than scrupulous actions I have already mentioned, it seems appropriate to me to wonder about such things. If the Bishops are revealed to not be acting in good faith in other matters, it is not beyond the realm of possibilities that they are involved in other unethical activities as well, such as attempting to make a profit from the misfortune of others.

    6. We have a responsibility to protect the legacy of many generations of Episcopalians who have built and maintained our congregations. This "great cloud of witnesses" gave the fruit of their labors to build up the Episcopal Church in their local setting. We cannot allow a foreign Bishop to take away that legacy.

    There are other reasons why these intrusions into the internal affairs of TEC by foreign Bishops is a major issue for Episcopalians. I'll let our readers point out additional ones.

    My point is that those considering going on a plum picking excursion in North America need to think twice. This is a matter that Episcopalians are not going to drop. It is our line in the sand. If you engage in this unethical, and possibly illegal, behavior, you will be held accountable.

    J.

    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Presiding Bishop Writes to Archbishop of Uganda Regarding His Planned "Unwarranted Incursion"

    Abp. Henry Luke Orombi of Uganda has for some time now stated publicly that he wants nothing to do with the Episcopal Church or our Presiding Bishop. Here is part of one of his statements from 2006:

    ...Finally, one of the most significant decisions we have made to support Biblically faithful Anglicans in America is to provide a diocesan home for American congregations who could no longer be submitted to a revisionist Bishop and the national church leadership of ECUSA. Ten of our dioceses in the Church of Uganda are now providing spiritual oversight to twenty congregations in America. These are congregations of Americans in America, but they are officially part of the Church of Uganda.

    I have been in consultation with the other Primates and Archbishops of Africa and the Global South about this crisis in our beloved Anglican Communion. We have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury and informed him that we cannot sit together with Katharine Jefferts Schori at the upcoming Primates Meeting in February. We have also asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to invite an orthodox Bishop from the Anglican Communion Network in America to attend the Primates Meeting and represent the orthodox believers. We await his decision on these matters.

    We are also praying about whether our House of Bishops should attend and participate in the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in 2008. Every ten years, the Archbishop of Canterbury invites all the bishops of the Anglican Communion together for prayer and mutual consultation on matters of mission and our common life together as Anglicans throughout the world. The next conference is planned for 2008. However, the Archbishops of Africa and the Global South have received a report and a recommendation that we not participate in the next Lambeth Conference if ECUSA, and especially their gay bishop, are also invited to the conference. The House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda has not yet made a decision about this, but I wanted you to know that we are praying and asking the Lord to give us the mind of Christ on this matter.

    Since ECUSA officially approved of homosexual relationships in 2003 we have earnestly prayed they would repent and return to the Word of God. But, their General Convention in June 2006 made it clear that they are not intent on repentance. In fact, they seem even more committed to their erring ways and the revision of the Biblical and historic faith that brought life to us and that we gratefully proclaim.

    Therefore, and in light of all these developments, the House of Bishops and the Provincial Assembly in its meeting in August reaffirmed our position of broken communion with ECUSA and our decision to support in practical ways those churches, dioceses, and leaders in America who uphold and promote the Biblical and historic faith of Anglicanism for which our own Ugandan martyrs died...
    One of the congregations Abp. Orombi scooped up was Christ Church, Savannah. In their May newsletter, they announce that Abp. Orombi will be visting them on May 14.

    Episcopal Life provides us with a letter from our Presiding Bishop to Abp. Orombi:

    My dear brother,

    I understand from advertising here that you plan to visit a congregation in the Diocese of Georgia on 14 May of this year. The diocesan, Bishop Henry Louttit, has not given any invitation for you to do so, nor received any information from you about your planned visit. I must protest this unwarranted incursion into The Episcopal Church. I am concerned that you seem to feel it appropriate to visit, preach, and exercise episcopal ministry within the territory of this Church, and I wonder how you would receive similar behavior in Uganda. These actions violate the spirit and letter of the work of the Windsor Report, and only lead to heightened tensions. We are more than willing to receive you for conversation, dialogue, and reconciliation, yet you continue to act without speaking with us. I hope and pray that you might respond to our invitation and meet with representatives of this Church.

    I remain

    Your servant in Christ,

    Katharine Jefferts Schori
    Other congregations claimed by Uganda include All Saints, Long Beach, California, St. James, Newport Beach, California, St. David's, North Hollywood, California, South Riding, Virginia, Holy Spirit, Ashburn, Virginia, All Souls, Jacksonville, Florida, Redeemer, Jacksonville, Florida and Christ Church, Overland Park, Kansas.

    Christ Church, Savannah claims John Guernsey as their Bishop.

    The faithful Episcopalians who are members of Christ Church gather at St. Michael and All Angels until the courts remove the Church of Uganda members who currently occupy their building.

    J.

    Canterbury's Letter to the Bishops

    Due to a comment made by Bp. Wright last month, there has been some speculation regarding Dr. Williams sending out a letter to certain Bishops in which he would insist that they agree to engage "the Windsor Process" if they planned to attend the Lambeth Conference. The reason that such a possible letter was deemed "newsworthy" in some circles is that one of the demands made by some of the Bishops who have been threatening to boycott Lambeth was that those North Americans with whom they disagreed on some matters must be un-invited by Canterbury. Some imagined that the letter mentioned by Bp. Wright might be the first step towards the withdrawl of invitations to Lambeth.

    A letter from Canterbury has now been released. It was sent to all the Bishops of the Anglican Communion. Episcopal Life provides us with the text of the May 12 letter from Dr. Rowan Williams. Here is part of it:

    ...As I noted when I wrote to you in Advent, this makes it all the more essential that those who come to Lambeth will arrive genuinely willing to engage fully in that growth towards closer unity that the Windsor Report and the Covenant Process envisage. We hope that people will not come so wedded to their own agenda and their local priorities that they cannot listen to those from other cultural backgrounds. As you may have gathered, in circumstances where there has been divisive or controversial action, I have been discussing privately with some bishops the need to be wholeheartedly part of a shared vision and process in our time together...
    Unless, of course, you are the Bishop of New Hampshire, who not only has been denied his rightful place in this "shared vision and process," but has been informed by Canterbury that he is not to preside or preach while in England. Obviously, in Dr. Williams' mind, there is no need for any further "discussion," private or otherwise, with Bp. Robinson, as he has made his judgment on that matter.

    We know little about these "private discussions," but if the criteria for being the recipient of such a discussion is those Bishops who have initiated "divisive or controversial actions," one would hope that Abp. Peter Akinola and Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables will be on Canterbury's list.

    J.

    Saturday, May 10, 2008

    The Southern Cone's "Listening Process"

    Since 1998, Anglicans have been asked to engage in a Communion-wide Listening Process.

    From Lambeth 1998, Resolution 1.10:

    ...recognises that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ...
    From the Windsor Report:

    ...Finally, we recommend that the Instruments of Unity, through the Joint Standing Committee, find practical ways in which the ‘listening’ process commended by the Lambeth Conference in 1998 may be taken forward, so that greater common understanding might be obtained on the underlying issue of same gender relationships...
    From the 2005 Primates' Meeting:

    ...In reaffirming the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 as the present position of the Anglican Communion, we pledge ourselves afresh to that resolution in its entirety, and request the Anglican Consultative Council in June 2005 to take positive steps to initiate the listening and study process which has been the subject of resolutions not only at the Lambeth Conference in 1998, but in earlier Conferences as well.
    In response, the Communion began to more intentionally engage in the Listening Process. Part of monitoring the process as it has unfolded in the different Provinces has included a summary of responses.

    The response from the Southern Cone is quite interesting:

    ...The Province of the Southern Cone believes that both homosexual and heterosexual persons must be extended the best of pastoral care and mercy.

    The Province is small with few resources and does not have the time to do all things and has needed to set its own priorities and agendas rather than ones that seem to have been manufactured for them.

    The Province has “heard the cries of members of the Communion who have been pastorally abused by those who foist a sexual political agenda upon them.”

    The Province formulated a position at the request of the Theological Commission in 2001 but this was not addressed at following ACC meetings. The Province feels the response was deliberately side stepped...
    Never mind Lambeth 1.10, the Windsor Report or the Primates. We don't have time for such manufactured agendas. We don't have time to hear the cries of those abused by church sponsored bigotry. However, we do have the time for those who agree with our point of view. And, from this one-sided listening process, we have come to the conclusion that they are the real victims of abuse.

    Nice, eh? This is the same Province whose current Primate and House of Bishops have decided on their own that it is time to expand into North America, even though their own Constitution and Canons does not allow for such an expansion. They have no support from Canterbury for this invasion. They have ignored warnings from the leadership of the Annglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church that this invasion must stop.

    The Southern Cone has no respect for Canterbury, the Primates, statements from Lambeth or the Windsor Report. Their intention is to continue to claim congregations and Dioceses that belong to other Provinces. Beyond that, it appears that they are also determined to import their own personal biases into North America.

    Someone needs to stop this invasion. Since formal methods appear to have failed, maybe it is time for grassroots efforts to be considered?

    Regarding the response to the Listening Process in other places, Christopher Webber has provided us with an insightful summary; Un-common Communion. Although I think some of his conclusions are accurate, they are not very encouraging:

    ...Amid the chaos and confusion, what can be heard? As one interested listener, what I hear first of all is the incredible diversity of the voices and the improbability that Anglicans will arrive at a common mind anytime soon...
    However, I must agree with Christopher that this does not mean that the Listening Process is lacking of any value:

    ...One can hope that the Lambeth bishops did not expect in 1998 that a consensus would have emerged by 2008. Nor, it seems, will 10 more years be likely to bring us all to the same page. But if we listen carefully, we may come to a better understanding of each other and a greater ability to work together in our global village. We may even hear the Holy Spirit at work to do more than we humanly could have expected in ways beyond our imagining...
    If this Process is to result in a better understanding, everyone, including the Southern Cone, needs to participate.

    J.

    Friday, May 09, 2008

    That's Our Susan!

    Susan Russell was recently chosen by the LA Gay and Lesbian Center to be the recipient of the L.A.C.E. Award (Lesbians and bisexual women Active in Community Empowerment):

    Spirituality Award
    A parish priest at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena and an outspoken critic of the religious right, Susan Russell travels around the county to lobby for LGBT inclusion in the church. Russell is the president of Integrity USA, a nonprofit organization for LGBT Episcopalians and their supporters, and she is a member of the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion Council. She and her partner—who wed in a ceremony at All Saints—collaborated on Voices of Witness, a documentary about LGBT people in the church. She blogs about her work at http://inchatatime.blogspot.com/.
    Here is the video presented at the Awards dinner:



    Congratulations, Susan!

    J.

    Thursday, May 08, 2008

    Death Threats Cause for Bp. Robinson's Civil Union to be Before Lambeth

    From the Today Show



    From the Today Show summary:


    ...He said he is entering the civil union because he wants his partner as well as his two daughters from a previous marriage to have the same legal protections afforded heterosexual couples.

    “I am simply not going to put my life in jeopardy without putting into place the protections for my beloved partner and my children and my grandchildren that are offered to me in a civil union,” Robinson said. “I think any husband or wife would want to do that.”
    What that quote left out was the phrase that preceded it. Here is the complete transcript of that particular comment:


    ...In the face of death threats this Summer, I am simply not going to go to that conference and put my life in jeopardy without putting into place the protections for my beloved partner and my children and my grandchildren that are offered to me in a civil union. I think any husband or wife would want to do that.
    (emphasis added)
    The announcement of the civil union did not cause the death threats to increase. The announcement of the Bishop's intention to attend Lambeth did. The death threats decided the date of the civil union; it needs to happen before Lambeth.

    Bishop Robinson's new book, In the Eye of the Storm, can be found here.

    On a more personal note, our friend Kirstin needs to be remmembered in our prayers. Please go visit her and express your support.

    J.

    Wednesday, May 07, 2008

    Have You Seen This Man?


    The above picture is of Robinson Cavalcanti, the former Bishop of Recife. He is rumored to currently be somewhere in the United States. Your help is needed in documenting his movements.

    Who is Robinson Cavalcanti? Here's just a few facts to give you a quick sketch.

  • He was the foreign Bishop involved in crossing Diocesan borders in Ohio back in March of 2004. This was the "trial balloon" for all the future border crossings. Recently deposed Bp. Cox was also involved in this incident.

  • The day after the Windsor Report was released, a document which most conservatives are quite fond of, even though it clearly states that border crossing must end, Cavalcanti claimed two congregations belonging to the Diocese of Olympia; St. Stephen’s Church, Oak Harbor, and St. Charles’, Poulsbo, Washington.

  • Cavalcanti was deposed by the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil.

  • Gregory Venables of the Suthern Cone ignored the deposition and accepted Cavalcanti into his House of Bishops and claimed the Diocese of Recife as his own. Is any of this beginning to sound familiar?

  • The Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil expressed their frustration with Venables actions and issued a clarification of the situation to correct the many false truths that were being circulated among the Anglican extremists.

  • A new Bishop was elected and installed in the Diocese of Recife. This is the Bishop recognized by the Anglican Communion, as can be seen by the listing in the Provincial Directory.
  • This wandering Bishop, along with his renegade Primate, continue to invade the jurisdictions of other Provinces without permission. They recently made an unauthorized visit to Recife.

    The faithful Episcopalians of St. Stephen's, Oak Harbor, Washington, have been barred from using their facilities by the wandering Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti. Knowing that this Bishop will one day be held accountable for his actions, they have launched an effort to document sightings of Cavalcanti:
    On June 10, 2005 Robinson Cavalcanti was deposed from his ordained ministry as a bishop by the ecclesiastical court of his province, the Episcopal Church of Brazil, effectively removing him from his position as bishop of the Diocese of Recife. Founded only 30 years ago as an outreach effort of the Diocese of Rio de Janeiro, the diocese of Recife has experienced two schisms and is now on its third cathedral. Since his deposition, Cavalcanti has crossed provincial boundaries without permission from diocesan bishops or the Presiding Bishop in order to participate in irregular actions within the United States.

    Throughout this month (May 2008), Mr. Cavalcanti will visit Western Washington again (he was here in January of 2007). As before, he has not sought the ecclesiastical permission of The Episcopal Church and will be visiting parishes he claims are now within his “Anglican” diocese of Brazil in North America.

    While in Washington State, he will be visiting the parishes and clergy he is claiming for Recife in Poulsbo, Bellingham, Oak Harbor, Spokane and Walla Walla. On Sunday, May 11th (Pentecost) he will preside over diaconal ordinations at St. Stephen “Anglican” in Oak Harbor. On Tuesday May 13th he will attend a special service at St. Brendan’s worship space in St. Paul’s (Bellingham) church school. While there he will preside at a Confirmation service during which he will also install (the Rev.) Kevin Allen (former rector of St. Paul’s), who has been appointed to the newly created Pacific Coast Common Cause Council which will have its charter meeting May 16th in Vancouver, Canada.

    Cavalcanti will be back in Spokane over the Memorial Day weekend (May 23-25). On Friday, May 23rd, he will meet with the Vestry of Christ-the-King Anglican in Spokane before traveling to the Tri-Cities to visit Trinity Anglican Church. On Sunday, May 25th he will preside at a diaconal ordination at Christ-the-King Anglican.

    If you see Mr. Cavalcanti, please document his presence and activities by sending information regarding the time, date and location to The Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton at chaplain@whidbey.com. All reported tracking and sighting information will be updated daily on the St. Stephen Episcopal website: www.ststephenepiscopal.com.

    For every sighting which includes a documenting photo, St. Stephen Episcopal will donate the cost of mosquito net to our diocesan NetsforLife campaign.
    Cavalcanti will not be limiting his wandering to Washington. He will be in Eugene, Oregon sometime between May 13th and 23rd, and he is also anticipated to visit San Diego, CA.

    If you see this man, get a picture and document it. He needs to be held accountable. Other forms of protesting this behavior I'll leave to your creative imaginations.

    J.
  • Tuesday, May 06, 2008

    Southern Cone to Amend Constitution in an Attempt to Justify Plundering North America

    Gregory Venables, Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, has just concluded a tour that included visits to Canada, San Joaquin and Fort Worth. He was told by the leadership of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church that his intrusion in their internal affairs was unwelcome. He ignored both letters, claiming that he preferred to deal with such matters by phone:

    ...Archbishop Venables told the Journal he felt an April 21 letter from Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the Canadian primate, asking him not to come to Canada was little more than a gesture.

    “I didn’t get the letter until one of the (Canadian) reporters read it over the phone,” he said. “It came through on my fax the next morning and that shocked me.”

    Archbishop Hiltz could simply have picked up the telephone, Archbishop Venables said. “I would have talked about it”...

    ...Archbishop Hiltz was out of the country and could not be reached for comment. Archdeacon Paul Feheley, the primate’s principal secretary, said efforts were made by fax and e-mail to deliver the letter to Archbishop Venables first.

    “As for picking up the telephone, it seems to me that if you are a foreign primate visiting another country, the onus is on you to pick up the phone and call the primate of that country,” said Archdeacon Feheley, adding that no one from the network informed Archbishop Hiltz’ office that the South American primate was coming...
    As you can see, this man has no intention of treating others with honor or respect, if he thinks they will get in the way of his plans. Instead, he simply ignores them, and does whatever he wants to do.

    There are no transcripts of his statements while on this tour that I could discover. However, there is a summation of his Fort Worth talk provided by Randall Foster. Here's part of it that I found particularly interesting:

    ...During both question-and-answer sessions the archbishop reminded us of the overwhelming approval given by the leadership of the Southern Cone to that province's offer to receive dioceses departing TEC into its structure. And although these new relationships would be on a "temporary and pastoral basis," the Southern Cone will soon take steps to adapt their provincial constitution and canons so as to better incorporate the received North American dioceses into an orderly and stable framework. We were warned not to "hold our breath" while waiting for a long-term resolution to the present crisis. Clearly Archbishop Venables recognizes that we could be within his fold in the Southern Cone for several years to come. But while he doesn't foresee a rapid resolution of the Communion's difficulties, he does view the upcoming GAFCON in Jerusalem as a crucial step in building a viable future for orthodox Anglicanism in the world today...
    They will "adapt their provincial constitution and canons so as to better incorporate the received North American dioceses..." Better incorporate? As their Constitutions and Canons are currently worded, any form of "incorporating" rejectionist dioceses is simply an impossibility:

    From Article 2 of the Southern Cone's Constitution:

    2. MEMBERSHIP
    The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, which shall henceforth be called The Province, is composed of the Anglican Dioceses that exist or which may be formed in the Republics of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay and which voluntary declare themselves as integral Diocesan members of the Province.
    Consequently, for the Southern Cone to claim any congregations or Dioceses in North America would be to contrary to the clear definition of their Province as set forth in their Constitution. Thus the need to "adapt" their Constitution and Canons.

    Under their current Constitution, such "adaptations" would be difficult, however, in light of Article 4.3:

    4. AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION
    For any changes or amendment to this Constitution, the following procedure is to be used:

    ...4.3 The proposed change shall then be submitted to the Anglican Consultative Council for consideration and then to each Diocesan Synod for approval...
    An "adaptation" that would allow Venables to continue to plunder congregations and dioceses in North America would never be approved by the Anglican Consultative Council. So, most likely, one of the "adaptations" will be to strike that particular element of their amendment process.

    Oh, and by the way, Randall; GAFCON is not happening in Jerusalem. The conference has been moved to Jordan, as the Bishop of Jerusalem did not want more extremists flooding his Diocese. There will be a "spiritual pilgrimage" in Jerusalem after the conclusion of the conference in Jordan. Best to keep these little details straight. We wouldn't want the folks getting lost in the Middle East. That could create a very dangerous situation.

    Katie Sherrod has an additional report of Venables' comments while in Fort Worth.

    The day will come when Gregory Venables will be held accountable for his actions. It is important that we keep track of him, and document where he goes and what he says.

    Venables has other Bishops from his Province intruding in the affairs of the North American Provinces. They also must be carefully watched. In a future post, I'll highlight one particularly scandalous wandering Bishop that we need to monitor carefully.

    J.

    Sunday, May 04, 2008

    Just Another Sunday

    I know there's all kinds of important stories out there that some folks would really like to talk about. We'll get to some of them, eventually. I promise. But not today.

    Driving hime tonight, I was struck once again by how blessed we are. I can't point to one particular event that made that blessedness apparent. I think it was the sum total of all the pieces of this day.

    So here is the rather mundane summary:

    Got to the church about 5 minutes later than usual. The doors had already been opened, lights were on, coffee was perking. One of the silent angels had been busy. Consequently I had time to review the sermon; struck two very opinionated paragraphs.

    Half a dozen of us had spent this last weekend (Friday night and all day Saturday) at a Magnetic Church conference sponsored by the Diocese. The presenter was a gentleman by the name of Andrew Weeks. He is quite good. Came back with lots of practical ideas for new member ministry. I highly recommend this program. I managed to fit a couple of good quotes from Andrew's book Welcome! into the sermon, which primed the Vestry member who was to give a brief summation of the conference during announcements.

    We had a baptism as part of the later Eucharist. The family arrived in time for a brief discussion and walk through. Lots of children. I invited all the young people to gather around the font during the baptism. They were so fascinated by the whole thing. The little guy being baptized was wearing the cutest minature white tux. And he even let out a loud cry at the right moment!

    A couple was also celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. They came forward for a prayer and a blessing. They also provided a huge chocolate and strawberry cake for coffee hour. So delicious it seemed sinful. I did not refuse their offer of a huge piece to take home.

    The wardens slipped away early today, so I turned off the lights and locked up after the last group made their way to the parking lot, still laughing and chatting away. Closing up is one of those chores that I actually enjoy. I linger a bit, pausing to remember the day as I move from space to space.

    A few phone calls, check next week's calendar, to the aumbry for the sacrament, and then out the door. First stop is a nursing home, where two members are temporary residents. Prayers and communion. Then listen for awhile. Leave the Sunday bulletin. Let them know when I'll be back.

    Back in the car; my new baby, btw, is a 2003 black DeVille...picked it up cheap with low miles, and it is an absolute dream. The seat is more comfortable than any chair I've ever sat in. Eight cylinders, yet still gets 24 mpg (28 hwy). Maybe a bit decadent, but I do a lot of driving, and always wanted a Caddy.

    Cruise an hour and a half north for the installation of a rector. Beautiful stone church. Solemn High Mass. The Bishop preached a dynamite sermon. One baptism, eight confirmations and about ten receptions. The cantor was superb. Even the bishop chanted well today! The new rector, who I've gotten to know over the years, and think quite highly of, was pleased (and a bit surprised, I think) to see me present. It was more than worth the drive.

    Headed south. Stopped at one of the local hospitals to visit a member who is recovering from hip surgery. Prayers of thanksgiving for continued healing. Communion from the reserve sacrament for him and his wife.

    Arrive home, bearing a gift of chocolate strawberry cake for Demi, which contributed to a pleasant mood permeating our humble abode.

    So, there you have it. Many little blessings that I'm savoring tonight. Not even going to check the news sites. Because, tonight, I find myself at peace.

    God is good.

    J.

    Friday, May 02, 2008

    An Analysis of Canon IV.9.2

    You are probably as weary of all this talk about canons as I am, but a commenter left an excellent analysis of Title IV Canon 9.2 that I wanted to lift out of comments and place here for discussion and future reference. First, here is the wording from "CANON 9: Of Abandonment of the Communion of This Church by a Bishop" that is under consideration:

    ...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...
    Here is Robert's analysis:

    On the one hand, the calumny that continues to be heaped upon our Presiding Bishop and her Chancellor over their interpretation of Canon IV.9.2 (the deposition of a Bishop canon) has become quite tiresome.

    On the other hand, I do think it is important for TEC's leaders and their supporters to be able to demonstrate that their reading of the deposition canon is not arbitrary or capricious, but is grounded in sound principles of canonical interpretation.

    As a lawyer who has some experience with canon law, I think they have more than met that burden. At the risk (nay, the certainty) of being tedious, here's why:

    1. The original deposition canon was enacted in 1853, and required the consent of "the majority of the Members of the House of Bishops."

    The canon did not call for a meeting of the House, and, in language that is beyond peradventure, required the consent of the majority of the entire membership of the House of Bishops.

    2. The canon was amended in 1859, when it required the consent of "the majority of the House of Bishops." Again, no meeting was called for, and it remained clear that the consent of the majority of the entire House of Bishops had to be obtained.

    3. Another amendment was adopted in 1874, in response to the deposition of Bishop Cummings, Assistant Bishop of Kentucky. Although the Presiding Bishop had obtained the written consents of a majority of the Bishops entitled to seats in the House of Bishops, the canon then in effect (see 2 above) required the consents of "the majority of the House of Bishops."

    To resolve any doubts about the deposition process going forward, the 1874 canon required the Presiding Bishop to convene a meeting of the House of Bishops to consider the matter, and further provided that, "if a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled at the time to seats in the House of Bishops, shall at such meeting give their consent," the Presiding Bishop shall proceed to depose the abandoning Bishop.

    It is significant that, in terms of the number of consents required for deposition, the canon was revised in 1874 to correspond to what the Presiding Bishop had actually obtained for Bishop Cummings's deposition: a majority of the Bishops entitled to seats in the House of Bishops.

    Based on that history, it seems clear that, in 1874, although a meeting was now required, the canonical majority of consents needed for deposition was a majority of Bishops entitled to seats "in the House of Bishops," not merely those entitled to seats at the meeting.

    4. In 1904, the canon was amended again to provide that, "it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to convene the House of Bishops to consider the case; and if the said House, by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote, shall give their consent," the Presiding Bishop shall depose the Bishop in question.

    NOTE WELL--the words "whole number of Bishops entitled to vote," in the 1904 canon, are NOT followed by the words "in the House of Bishops," or any reference whatsoever to "the House of Bishops."

    Prior versions of the canons did contain such a reference: 1853 ("the majority of the Members OF THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS"); 1859 ("the majority OF THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS"); and 1874 ("a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled at the time to seats IN THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS")(emphasis added).

    The 1904 General Convention could have said "a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote IN THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS," but it did not. It certainly had a significant prior history of using those words, and when it wanted to refer to the entire House of Bishops, it did so expressly. The clear implication of omitting any such reference in the 1904 canon, is that the majority required is a majority of the "whole number of Bishops entitled to vote" WHO ARE PRESENT AT THE MEETING (in the current canon, the meeting is the clear referent immediately preceding the specified vote). Otherwise, the act of the General Convention in eliminating the words, "in the House of Bishops," makes no sense.

    5. The above interpretation of Canon IV.9.2 (which, with certain modifications not relevant to the present discussion, is essentially the version passed in 1904) is supported by general principles of parliamentary law, including Roberts' Rules of Order, and other provisions of TEC's Constitution and Canons. For example:

    (a) The general parliamentary rule, relating to the required number of votes, is that a MAJORITY OF A QUORUM is necessary to carry a matter. A majority of a quorum is a majority of THE VOTES CAST at a meeting, not a majority of those present at the meeting. See Roberts' Rules of Order, and Canon V.3.1 (which, formerly designated as Canon 53, has been in existence since 1832).

    Accordingly, by specifying that a majority of the "whole number of Bishops entitled to vote" is necessary to consent to a deposition, Canon IV.9.2 requires the consent of a majority of the Bishops who are PRESENT at the meeting, AND WHO ARE ENTITLED TO VOTE, not just the consent of a majority of the votes actually cast. In that respect, it requires a vote that is higher than a majority of a quorum.

    It also certainly does not require the consent of a majority of the Bishops PRESENT at the meeting, since, over the years the canon has been in effect, some Bishops entitled to seats in the House of Bishops were not entitled to vote (e.g., Missionary Bishops and Suffragan Bishops). In that respect, it may allow for a vote lower than a majority of the Bishops present (if some of those present are not entitled to vote).

    (b) In all of the places in the Constitution where the words "whole number of Bishops entitled to vote" are used (there are no others in the Canons), they are followed by the words "in the House of Bishops." See Article X (Alterations or additions to the Book of Common Prayer--used twice in that Article); and Article XII (Alterations or amendments to Constitution).

    (c) There are many other places in the Constitution and Canons where, when the General Convention wanted to refer to the entire House of Bishops, or to all the members of a certain category of Bishops, it said so expressly and clearly: e.g., "the Bishops in this Church entitled to vote in the House of Bishops" (Article III); "the Bishops of this Church exercising jurisdiction" (Canon III.11.3.(d); "every Bishop of this Church exercising jurisdiction" (Canon III.11.4.(a); "the Bishops qualified to vote in the House of Bishops" (Canon IV.3.21.(c); just to name a few.

    6. The prior use of Canon IV.9.2 in the depositions of the former Bishops of Fort Worth and Ecuador Central, which proceeded without objection at a meeting, at which a quorum was present, on the basis of the consents of a majority of the Bishops at the meeting who were entitled to vote, clearly supports the interpretation laid out above.

    Of course, there are certain people who will never be convinced of the reasonableness of our Presiding Bishop's interpretation of Canon IV.9.2, no matter what level of detail or analysis is provided in support of that interpretation.

    Nonetheless, in my opinion, based on a detailed analysis of the language, history, and use of Canon IV.9.2, as well as a review of other relevant provisions of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, the depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox were reasonably, fairly, and canonically conducted.

    Let's move on to something else.
    Thank you, Robert.

    J.