Monday, March 13, 2006

Diocesan Border Crossings Harmful

From All Africa:

A Ugandan Anglican Bishop currently on a visit to the United States has sparked off an uproar after declaring that he is there "to rescue Anglicans" from gay influences.

Bishop Jonathan Kyamanywa is currently visiting the Kentucky State Diocese where he confirmed 30 people, many of them ex-Episcopalians on Tuesday evening.

Apostles Anglican Church and St. Andrew's Anglican Church, where Kyamanywa preached last Sunday, are both affiliated to the Church of Uganda.

In an interview with the Herald Leader newspaper, Kyamanywa said his diocese was in Kentucky not to fight, but to "rescue" Anglicans who have been abandoned.

"Our coming is not causing any division. Actually our coming is nursing and providing care for the people who are hurt," he said.

Asked whether the Episcopal Church is still a Christian church, Kyamanywa said, "I don't know."

Lexington Bishop Stacy Sauls, who has clashed with leaders of the breakaway churches in Central Kentucky, did not authorise Kyamanywa's visit, according to the Herald Leader…
Perhaps Bishop Kyamanywa has not read the recommendations contained within the Windsor Report?

The Anglican Communion upholds the ancient norm of the Church that all the Christians in one place should be united in their prayer, worship and the celebration of the sacraments. The Commission believes that all Anglicans should strive to live out this ideal. Whilst there are instances in the polity of Anglican churches that more than one jurisdiction exists in one place, this is something to be discouraged rather than propagated. We do not therefore favour the establishment of parallel jurisdictions.

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.
Since it is possible that Bishop Kyamanywa has considered the Windsor Report and found it to be a flawed set of recommendations (an assessment with which I would agree, but most likely for quite different reasons), one must wonder if he has also considered the Primates’ Communique:

…during this period we commit ourselves neither to encourage nor to initiate cross-boundary interventions.
Of course, it is not surprising that Bishop Kyamanywa would dismiss this statement, since his own Archbishop seems to ignore it.

How does he justify his actions? From the Herald-Leader:

…false teachings are even more damaging than division, Kyamanywa said. "Unity is important, but it doesn't supersede correct doctrine."
The effect of these boundary crossings is summarized by Bishop Mark Dyer:

Retired Bishop Mark Dyer, the only American on the Lambeth Commission, said the new churches are harmful.
"They have systematically divorced themselves from the Episcopal Church. To have another bishop come in and to participate -- I don't hesitate to use the word schism," he said.
I wanted to comment on Bp. Dyer’s assertion that these new churches are “harmful.” I think it is important to recognize that the harm done is not simply institutional, but also pastoral.

As an example, consider the case of David Valencia, a former Ugandan priest under the authority of Bishop Kyamanya. A year and a half after he was accused of sexual assault, Valencia was found guilty and sent to prison. Bishop Kyamanywa has expressed his intention to depose Valencia. This is a tragic story that, unfortunately, can be found in the history of many institutions, including the Church. What is questionable in this particular situation is if the lack of clear lines of authority and communication contributed to the unfolding of this tragic tale. Valencia was ordained by a Ugandan bishop. He was serving in a break away congregation, under the authority of the rector, John Guest, who was under the authority of Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh. This confusion of roles may have hampered appropriate disciplinary actions being taken against Valencia:

… From an ecclesiastical point of view, the case is a puzzle. Valencia, a native of Chile, was an Anglican priest of the Diocese of Bunyoro-Kitara, Uganda, serving in an unaffiliated church whose senior pastor is a priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Jan Nunley, deputy director of Episcopal News Service in New York City, was flummoxed when asked whether Episcopal church canons or policies might apply to Guest's supervision of Valencia.

"This is unprecedented. It's uncharted territory because, to my knowledge, these kinds of cross-jurisdictional disputes have really not arisen in the American church before," she said…
Even the diocese of Pittsburgh was forced to admit the situation was problematic:

...Bishop Robert Duncan of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is on sabbatical in France, but Assistant Bishop Henry Scriven is scheduled to meet with Guest soon. He is trying to determine whether Guest had a responsibility to follow diocesan guidelines for dealing with a subordinate when neither the church nor the subordinate are part of the diocese, Scriven said.

"Certainly I don't want to get out of any responsibility that we might have, and we will take any blame that is due to us," Scriven said. "This is one of the big issues with independent churches. To whom are they accountable?"
Exactly, Bp. Scriven. And there lies the problem; a lack of accountability.

Episcopalians need to remember their history. The early Anglican churches in the American colonies found that some of their clergy had come over from England in order to place some distance between themselves and their bishop. It has been suggested that the authority given to the Wardens in the Episcopal Church is derived from a time in our history in which the laity had to keep a sharp eye on the clergy, due to the difficulties involved in getting a bishop located in England to respond with disciplinary action.

This same difficulty seems to be apparent in the current realignments, as can be seen in an article highlighting Anna Gulick, a deacon who recently left the Episcopal Church and placed herself under the authority of Bishop Kyamanywa:

…Now, thanks to Kyamanywa's friendship, Gulick is on Uganda's spiritual radar.

"He asked my permission to have his prayer warriors pray for me, and I would wake up in the middle of the night and know they were praying," Gulick said.
The bishop, 49, now serves as her unofficial spiritual adviser and her "chief pastor."

"I am under ecclesiastical obedience to him," Gulick said. "If he says I can't do something, I just can't argue."

They communicate periodically, exchanging e-mails "when they don't have a power outage," Gulick said. "There's been drought in east Africa. ... When the rivers dry up or when the dams are empty, they have to wait for them to fill" so there's water to generate electricity.
These pillagers in purple are not only acting schismatically; they are also placing those under their pastoral care in potential danger.

UPDATE: The Rt. Rev. Stacy F. Sauls, Bishop of the Diocese of Lexington, who did not authorize Bishop Jonathan Kyamanywa's current visit to his diocese, has been nominated by petition for the Presiding Bishop post.


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