Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Failed Strategy of the Former San Joaquin Standing Committee: Subtlety and Obliqueness

From Dan Martins

...Also for the record, I have, within the political and personal dynamics of the Diocese of San Joaquin, labored with others to prevent what has come to pass. Much of that labor will never come to light, and much of it cannot be understood by anyone not involved in diocesan leadership. The realities on the ground have required subtlety and obliqueness. In any case, what has transpired represents a failure of my efforts, and the efforts of those with whom I have collaborated.

There are those who have accused San Joaquin's Standing Committee (and accused me inasmuch as I was a member of that committee until mid-August of last year) of dereliction of duty for not doing more to block the Bishop's efforts to lead the diocese out of TEC. This is where the subtlety and obliqueness come in, which render such efforts as have been made largely invisible...
Dan goes on to attempt to make the case that part of the failure at the December Convention rests on the shoulders of some of the Remain Episcopal delegates for not engaging in parliamentary tricks, which would have included voting for amendments that went against their personal ethics. If that is an example of "obliqueness," personally, I'd want no part of it.

It might be helpful to keep in mind this letter issued by Bishop Schofield in November of 2006. It included this statement:

...Is Our Place In The Anglican Communion Assured? Yes. First, we have a commitment from the Southern Cone (Archbishop Greg Venebles) that the bishops of his dioceses are open to our joining their Province...
This was over a year before the Convention in which the majority of the leaders of the Diocese abandoned the Episcopal Church and joined the Southern Cone. We can assume that the members of the Standing Committee, recognized as the Bishop's council of advice, met with the Bishop at least twelve times from the time of this letter being issued and the December 2007 Convention. They knew exactly what was going on. And they knew it was wrong.

There are numerous examples in our history of Bishops getting out of hand and needing to be held accountable. Bp. Bennison of Pennsylvania is probably the most recent example that comes to mind. Bishops are human. They are vulnerable to the same human frailties as the rest of us. And when a Bishop needs to be reined in, who does it? The Standing Committee of the Diocese. If needed, they are assisted by our Presiding Bishop.

By their public silence, this Standing Committee was negligent in their duties.

But, let's say that they did have a plan to thwart Bp. Schofield's ill-begotten scheme. And it failed. What did they do then? Did they contact the Presiding Bishop? Did they seek counsel from the leadership of the Episcopal Church? If they did, no one seems to have heard about it. Instead, there was silence. Then they dutifully showed up for a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Southern Cone Diocese of San Joaquin. And then they act shocked and offended to receive a letter from our Presiding Bishop, who laid out the consequences for their negligence.

Dan concludes with these thoughts:

...I do not believe it is yet too late for some redemption to happen here. But we're getting awfully close to a point of no return. Everyone needs to let down their shields. It probably needs to be done not in the blogsphere, and not by the exercise of power, but by a few phone calls and meetings between people who are actually on the ground in the Central Valley. Who will have the courage to stand down first?
I don't think the situation in San Joaquin is beyond redemption either. It could be that these six members of the Standing Committee honestly thought they were doing the right thing. I think that Bp. Katharine is also aware that this may be the case, which is why there appears to be no disciplinary actions being recommended against them. Maybe they simply made a mistake. There are still consequences, but minimal ones, it seems to me.

If three of these clergy are from the largest congregations, then if their congregations were part of the Convention that elected a new Standing Committee, there is a fair chance that they might be re-elected.

As Dan points out, those who desire to remain Episcopalians in San Joaquin need to work this out, by reaching out to one another. We're not going to resolve this on the blogs. May all those faithful Episcopalians in San Joaquin set aside their differences for a season, and come together to seek God's will.

Pray for the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

Pray for the Church.


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