Thursday, March 17, 2005

A Closer Look at the Attempted Coup

The extreme conservatives, specifically the American Anglican Council, are not pleased with the recent Covenant Statement issued by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. Keep in mind that this statement was written by David Anderson, one of those exposed by name by Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold as lurking in the shadows when the Archbishops met in Ireland.

What some folks don't seem to understand is that NOTHING will ever appease the AAC, or the Network (same group, different name). They want a split. That's been their goal from the beginning. The plan has been to get themselves recognized as an "alternative Anglican province" in North America, get the Episcopal Church kicked out of the Anglican Communion, and then claim ownership of all assets previously held by TEC (with Bob Duncan as the new Archbishop, of course).

One would think that the article in the Washington Post over a year ago; Plan to Supplant Episcopal Church USA Is Revealed, regarding the leaked Chapman letter would have been enough to wake up most Episcopalians to what was going on. Here's just a small piece of that document;

During the months of Stage 1, we will begin to reform our relationships to build the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. We will move to initiate support structures for fellowship and strategy, We will act courageously and faithfully to support "at risk" parishes. We will creatively redirect finances. We will refocus on Gospel initiatives. We will innovatively move around, beyond or within the canons to "act like the church God is making us". Stage 1 will enable congregations/clusters to keep clear use of their buildings for the foreseeable future, and would give critical time to strengthen our leadership circles for what promises to be a turbulent spiritual season.

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.
The Via Media groups interpreted the Chapman letter this way;

The letter speaks for itself. Property, not piety is keeping dissident parishes in the Episcopal Church. In the longer term, the AAC expects to use foreign intervention to trump American law and the Episcopal Church Constitution and Canons. Its leaders are assuring dissident parishes that the Anglican primates, a consultative body with no governing authority or standing in the United States, will ride to the rescue of Network parishes, negotiate property settlements and transfer the assets of 2.3-million-member church to a group representing perhaps a tenth of that body. The Chapman letter reveals the AAC's "realignment" for what it really is -- the overthrow of the Episcopal Church by extra-legal means.
The defense was that this was just the opinion of one person, was not the view of the AAC/Network, and various other smoke and mirrors tactics which seemed to have successfully removed this letter from the consciousness of many Episcopalians.

Since then, more documents have come to light as a result of legal action taken by Calvary Episcopal Church against certain officials of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, including Bishop Duncan. Calvary felt the need to do this because of planned diocesan canonical changes that would allow Pittsburgh not to be bound by the canons of the Episcopal Church, thus allowing the diocese to claim title to all property. This was seen as the first step in a plan by some officials of the diocese of Pittsburgh to leave the Episcopal Church.

The court documents used to prove that there was indeed a plan to leave the Episcopal Church are quite revealing. The link is to a rather large pdf file (sorry folks). The entire thing is worth reading, but you may want to jump right to the last dozen pages, which shows copies of the documents placed in evidence. Interestingly, every one of the members of the "Dromantine Six" (those lurking about the primates' meeting in Ireland who were chastised by name by PB Griswold this last week) make an appearance in these pages. I'll just mention a few things that jumped out at me.

The first piece of evidence is what appears to be a verbatim transcript of an earlier hearing, in which the Chapman letter was dismissed as "one individual...(making) notes on a piece of paper." A bit weak, it seems to me, but ok, let's move on.

The next document, which appears to have "Mainstream Meeting" scribbled at the top, dated 11/20/03, seems to be from a meeting of Network/AAC bishops. It has quite a few enlightening pieces to it, but the ones that caught my eye were near the bottom; "D. We intend to cross diocesan boundaries...F. We commit to the guerrilla warfare of the next year." Oh, that's what was going on in Ireland; guerilla warfare? Imagine that.

Next follows a few e-mails. The one from Hugo Blankingship, an attorney, is worth noting. He states, "John Rees won't listen to anything but our staying in ECUSA." Who is John Rees? The legal consultant assigned to the Eames Commission, the body which drafted the Windsor Report. The plan was to have the recognition of a separate province included as one of the recommendations in the WR. Since it looked like that wasn't going to happen (it didn't), plan B was to make sure "that changes if pressure within the Communion builds up."

The next rather revealing document is an e-mail from Diane Knippers, President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, with whom the AAC/Network shared office space, board members and wealthy contributors for many years. To refresh your memory, the IRD started as an anti-communist grant clearinghouse during the Reagan era, focusing especially on Central America (does Iran-Contra and death squads in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras ring a bell?) When they ran out of communists, they turned on the mainline Protestant churches. Knippers begins with this statement; "...I believe it will be increasingly important for the Network to take on the various functions of a Church." Sure sounds like a planned coup d'etat to me. We then see Knipper's continued inclination towards clandestine operations in the last paragraph; "I'm still on the SCER (Standing Committee on Ecumenical Relations) - but not because I could honestly represent the Episcopal Church in ecumenical dialogue...I'll resign when I need to, but I would like to hang in there as an obstinate and contrary voice a bit longer." Infiltrate and be a subversive element; hmmm...that tactic sounds familiar.

Take a careful look at the "Draft Proposal for Overseas AEO" (Alternative Episcopal Oversight). This is where the foreign bishops come in. It's all spelled out in black and white. I wonder how Abp. Akinola is going to feel when it dawns on him he's been merely a pawn in the plan?

What conclusion do you come to when you read this stuff? What I see is a handful of folks, primarily bishops, priests, and attorneys, trying to orchestrate a takeover of the Episcopal Church; building this "parallel universe" on the backs of our gay and lesbian members. To the troops, they scream about the bible and tradition. Among themselves, it's all about property and power.

The sad thing is, I know quite a few good folks who have bought their...what was the phrase they used?...oh yea; "road shows," and are going to really be hurt when they wake up one day and realize they've been hoodwinked by a band of scoundrels, and in the name of God, no less.



  1. But the fact is that the REAL problem has nothing to do with sexuality or even power or property or any of the rest of it. The REAL problem is the heretical idea that if I don’t agree with my bishop on moral matters, I can declare myself “out-of-communion” with him/her, and refuse his/her ministrations in my parish.

    If it weren’t for that neo-Donatist (and neo-Wycliffite) heresy, these issues (like all the others: abortion, ordained women, female GC deputies, child Communion, 1979 BCP, etc) would not be splitting anyone from the Church. As I said in a piece on Louie’s web page, I’ve served several bishops who were either heretic or morally questionable, but I never would have dreamed to refuse to recognize their episcopacy.

    What we have is a situation where morality has replaced systematic and theology and ecclesiology. And if we buy into that now, it will haunt us for generations to come. No matter what I think of the personal morality of a bishop s/he remain a bishop. And it is not up to me to determine his/her “validity”. I think the bishops who are deposing or otherwise disciplining these heretical clergy are right on!

    I think we have begun to confuse agreement and concord (on whatever terms) for Christian Charity, and that is a false construct. Bishop Griswold was exactly right in finally beginning to call a spade a spade by naming the conspirators.

    It seems to me that some kind of split is absolutely inevitable, because the Raving Right wants nothing less, no matter what ECUSA does – but it should not come about because the Episcopal Church ends up on her suppliant knees to the heretics.

    One last bit: none of this is lay-inspired as you all know! The moral responsibility does not lie on lay people, but on their clerical leaders.

  2. Fr. Jake-

    All the Conservatives know this is going on. They want it to happen, or they are resigned and think it is inevitable.

  3. Nearly five months after Fr Jake's post -- it's fascinating to read that this is some sort of conspiracy, when everyone involved has been quite public about it. Concern with retaining parish property has been around for quite a while -- the last real conspiracy on that subject that I recall was the manoeuvering surrounding the passage of the Dennis Canon back in the '70s. The Network (and ACiNW) have maintained, loudly and publicly, that they are the ones holding to the Anglican "faith once delivered", not the national church; FiF has hardly made a secret of its preference for a separate province.

    But somehow, it is inconceivable to Fr Jake that it might occur to ordinary people in the pews that if a majority of the church rats who typically become delegates to the GC can be so easily convinced to overturn 3500 years of utterly unambiguous teaching of the Church, then there is nothing to prevent, say, Scripture being replaced by the Rgveda in the Liturgy if the GC feels like it. No, these dolts in the pews would never think that way; it must be a conspiracy...

    Then as if the post itself were not hilarious enough, we have jj appealing to systematics and theology. Like To Set Our Hope on Christ?

    Thanks for endless amusement,


  4. Leaven of the Pharisees

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