Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Excellent article from the Anglican Communion Institute!

Written by: 
Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Bishop Pierre Whalon’s recent essay, “Polity Politics,” offers a critique of the amicus curiae brief submitted to the Texas Supreme Court by ACI and seven bishops of The Episcopal Church. Surprisingly, there is much with which we agree in this essay, especially the conclusion Bishop Whalon reaches at the mid-point that “on the face of it, the seven bishops are right.” He goes on to assert that although we are right “on the face of it,” we are nonetheless ultimately wrong in light of his interpretation of TEC’s history, Constitution (which he never quotes) and ordination vows. While we disagree with him on these latter points, it is useful to start with the common ground where Bishop Whalon’s observations support the perspective expressed in the amicus brief.
Common Ground
First, Bishop Whalon observes correctly that while “hierarchy is natural” each denomination exhibits it “in wildly different ways.” In this broader context, he finds TEC’s form of government “idiosyncratic.” We agree with this because it underscores the basic point of the amicus brief. Bishop Whalon’s observations about TEC’s idiosyncratic governance are based on his readings of 2000 years of church tradition and 200 years of TEC history. He puts these interpretations forward in an effort to go beyond what is true on “the face of it” to opine more fully on “what a hierarchy is.”
It is important to stress that the document Bishop Whalon critiques in his online essay is a legal argument filed in a court of law. We welcome the opportunity to engage in a lively online debate on these important issues and to discuss them in church meetings and journals. But it is not the role of the civil courts to delve into this fascinating topic, sort through multiple issues of church history and attempt to analyze properly each of the “wildly different” church polities. This becomes an imperative when the civil courts confront a form of church government that is admittedly “idiosyncratic.” The courts must stop at what is true on the face of it or go no further. That, in a nutshell, is the primary argument of the amicus brief.

These are the first three paragraphs in the article. It really is an excellent summary of the points and arguments in the amicus brief and how it applies to dioceses today and in particular The Diocese of South Carolina. 

Today is the Feast Day of St. James of Jerusalem.....

One of today's readings in Forward Day by Day is from Acts 15:12-22. Remember that story? Here is the commentary from FDbD:

James was the leader of the believers in Jerusalem. The members of that community were mostly Jews who believed in Jesus and had been baptized. The few baptized Gentiles among them had been required to convert to Judaism, be circumcised, and keep the Mosaic Law in its entirety.  Paul and Barnabas had a different experience in their missionary work in Greece and Asia Minor. Their converts were mostly Gentiles and had not been required to become Jews in order to become believers.

This caused dissension between the two groups (sound familiar?). The first ecumenical council was held in Jerusalem to settle the dispute. Both sides presented their case; amazingly, they listened to each other. Even more amazing, James and the elders of Jerusalem changed their minds and agreed with Paul (Notice they did NOT sue them over this difference but LISTENED). It took real courage for them to leave their comfort zone and break bread with people who were not observant Jews.

What can James and other first-century leaders teach the church today?

Pray the Diocese of Iran (Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East).

My answer: Simple:
1) LISTEN to those with whom who have disagreements/disputes! I mean really listen not just hear and then re-state your arguments.
2) Do NOT sue those who disagree with you!
3) Do NOT "abandon" fellow believers just because they disagree! <sarcasm on> Well done, TEC! Nothing like "abandoning" 29,000 fellow believers with a stroke of the pen. Well done,+KJS)<sarcasm off>

Sunday, October 21, 2012

To all the world...: Episcopal Church Hits Bottom, Keeps Digging.

 To all the world...: Episcopal Church Hits Bottom, Keeps Digging.  This post from one of the church's most faithful priests and seminary professor, Robert Munday (Nashotah House). A must read as it has a wonderful letter from a priest in the diocese to his parish. Thanks,  Father Munday!  May your ministry be blessed as well!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Going, going......... gone?!

Why title this post "going, going, gone?!"? Who is going ? And where are they going? Good questions all!

According to the Diocese of South Carolina's website, some very important moves have been made by the national Episcopal Church against the Diocese. The diocesan website has links to several articles and many linked documents which should be read for complete understanding. Here, in this post, I will give a brief overview of recent events concerning the diocese.

1) From the Diocese of South Carolina website:
On Monday, October 15, 2012, Bishop Mark J. Lawrence, the 14th Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina was notified by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, that on September 18, 2012 the Disciplinary Board for Bishops  had certified his abandonment of The Episcopal Church. This action by The Episcopal Church triggered two pre-existing corporate resolutions of the Diocese, which simultaneously disaffiliated the Diocese from The Episcopal Church and called a Special Convention. 

Bishop Lawrence was notified of these actions taken by the Episcopal Church between two meetings, one held on October 3 and one to be held on October 22, which Bishop Andrew Waldo of the Upper Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Lawrence had set up with the Presiding Bishop to find a peaceful alternative to the growing issues between The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina. The meetings were to explore “creative solutions” for resolving these issues to avoid further turmoil in the Diocese and in The Episcopal Church. A timeline of these events and their associated documents may be found below.

Two of the three charges had previously been determined by a majority vote of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops in November 2011 not to constitute abandonment. The Diocese has not received a signed copy of the certification and also remains uninformed of the identity of those making these charges. (update: we do know the names of the accusers- see below part 3).

We feel a deep sense of sadness but a renewed sense of God’s providence that The Episcopal Church has chosen to act against this Diocese and its Bishop during a good faith attempt resolve our differences peacefully. These actions make it clear The Episcopal Church no longer desires to be affiliated with the Diocese of South Carolina. (bold is mine). 

Please be sure to read at least some of the linked documents as they are important for understanding these recent events.

2)As stated above, there will be a special convention of the diocese on Saturday, November 17th. The business to be transacted at this meeting shall be the nature of an appropriate response to the recent actions taken against Bishop Mark Lawrence by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, to include any relevant constitutional and/or canonical changes. For more information, please visit the diocese's website.

3) We now know that these most recent accusations against Bishop Lawrence were made by 14 people     ALL of whom who are members of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina.  Of the 14 accusers, 12 are laity and 2 are clergy (retired).  A recent article written (also on the diocesan website) by Canon Jim Lewis of the Diocese is an excellent summary of what we know about these 14 people whom I list below:

The 12 lay communicants include: 
Robert R. Black
Margaret A. (Peg) Carpenter and Charles G. Carpenter
Frances L. Elmore
Eleanor Horres
John Kwist and Margaret S. Kwist
Barbara G. Mann and David W. Mann
Warren M. Mersereau
Dolores J. Miller
Robert B. Pinkerton
M. Jaquelin Simons
Mrs. Benjamin Bosworth Smith
John L. Wilder and Virginia C. Wilder

The clergy who were named are:
 the Rev. Colton M. Smith
 the Rev. Roger W. Smith

4) Canon Jim Lewis gives a brief but excellent summary of the recent Forum actions against the diocese.  What follows is from his excellent article in the diocesan e-newsletter. 

“Now that the names of those responsible for bringing accusations against Bishop Lawrence before the Disciplinary Board for Bishops is known, it is instructive to consider what that list reveals.

1. All of the 14 are presently members of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina.
2.     They represent six of a total of 21 current Board Members of the Forum.
3.     They come from five parishes and one unaffiliated congregation [St. Mark's Port Royal is NOT in union with the diocese] with half the lay members indicating they are parishioners of Grace Church, Charleston. [my note: The other parish with 4 lay accusers is St. John's, Florence. So TWO parishes account for 10 of the 12 laity]
4.      Of the 12 laity, eight represent four married couples.
5.      The legal representative of the group, who presented their case to the disciplinary board for     Bishops, is also a member of the Forum Board and is married to Forum Board member and fellow accuser, Bob Black. That means at least 1/3 of their Board was actively engaged in this project.

Despite their assertions to the contrary, this is clearly a group comprised of the primary leadership of the Forum. To attempt to claim the Forum is not responsible for these actions is disingenuous at best.  It is also clearly not a group representative of a large portion of the diocese. It is representative of a very narrow slice of what is a small group in a handful of parishes. They have nothing like the broad, concerned constituency they proclaim. 

For the opinions of others on these events, I recommend the following blogs/websites:

1)  Titus One Nine is one of the best blogs of Anglican news there is. This is the personal blog.  The Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon, Canon Theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina. Titus usually has 
diocesan news posted very quickly. 

2) From a legal perspective and from an attorney who is also a Church canon lawyer, there is none better than the Anglican Curmudgeon. The Curmudgeon has several posts concerning the Diocese of SouthCarolina. It may take a bit of looking thru the extensive archives but the posts are there. He has two recent posts concerning these events.

3) Probably one of the most widely read blogs in the Anglican blogosphere is Stand Firm which has 6 posts about the events in the Diocese of South Carolina.

 Happy blog reading! Please keep yourself informed about what is happening in the diocese. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Choosing the next Archbishop of Canterbury.....

This decision is an important one for the future of the World Wide Anglican Communion (aka WWAC). This is also a decision that does not seem to be coming easily to the Crown Nominations commission which is charged with finding a suitable candidate for the Prime minister to give to the Queen to approve.

 There has been quite a bit of discussion on various Anglican blogs including Stand Firm in Faith, one of my favorite blogs in Anglican blogland. Here is a recent post from Standa Firm about  how the Crown Nominations commission is deadlocked without no decision in sight  or from here over at Peter Ould's website. Here is Kevin Kallsen and George Conger of Anglican TV on what is happening or ....... not happening from Anglican Unscripted episode 51.

Why is it that some Anglicans have such a difficult time making important decisions????