Thinking Anglicans

alternative oversight in the USA

Updated again Monday evening

George Conger reports on Religious Intelligence that Presiding Bishop backs US deal:

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has endorsed a programme of alternative Episcopal oversight brought to her by a group of conservative American bishops.

The “Anglican Bishops in Communion” seeks to meld the Primates’ Dar es Salaam pastoral council scheme with the “Episcopal Visitor” programme created by Bishop Schori in a bid to hold the fissiparous elements of American Anglicanism together until an Anglican Covenant is agreed.

“This is a step forward, albeit a small one,” the Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt Rev John W Howe noted, that permits freedom of conscience for traditionalist while preserving good order in conformance to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

However, critics charge there is nothing in the plan to compel a liberal bishop to permit alternative oversight, while spokesmen for the dioceses of Pittsburgh and Fort Worth told The Church of England Newspaper they were unable to comment on the merits of the plan as they had not been consulted in its creation and were unaware of the details…

…Bishop Stanton of Dallas, working with leaders of the Anglican Communion Institute and the Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez, took the Episcopal Visitor programme forward. Led by Prof Christopher Seitz, the team sought to meld the needs articulated by traditionalists with the structures suggested by the Primates and the Presiding Bishop.

On Jan 31 Dr Williams met with Archbishop Gomez, Bishop Stanton, Prof Seitz and Dr Ephraim Radner and gave his backing to the emerging “Anglican Bishops in Communion” project, agreeing to issue invitations to the primates of the West Indies, Burundi, Tanzania, the Indian Ocean and Jerusalem and the Middle East to offer primatial pastoral oversight to the Episcopal Visitors.

The Presiding Bishop was briefed by Bishops Stanton of Dallas, Smith of North Dakota, Howe of Central Florida, and Bishop Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana on Feb 21, giving her “nihil obstat” to the Communion plan, one participant reported…

There is also a report in the Daily Telegraph by Jonathan Petre Secret plan to avoid church gay split which presumably also refers to these events, albeit in less detail.

Update Saturday evening
Bishop John Howe of Central Florida has issued a further letter, which has been published earlier today on several blogs, e.g.
titusonenine Bishop John Howe responds to the Telegraph article Alleging a Secret Plan
Stand Firm Bishop John Howe responds…
Episcopal Café A new plan emerges

And also, see at ACI The Communion Partners Plan by Christopher Seitz or the copy of it at Covenant and there is also Response to Various Queries Regarding the Communion Partners Plan.

Update Monday evening
George Conger has published a further report on Religious Intelligence Bishop endorses new traditionalist programme:

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has endorsed a programme of alternative Episcopal oversight brought to her by a group of conservative American bishops.

The ‘Anglican Bishops in Communion’ seeks to merge the Primates’ Dar es Salaam pastoral council scheme with the ‘Episcopal Visitor’ programme created by Bishop Schori in a bid to hold the fissiparous elements of American Anglicanism together until an Anglican Covenant is agreed…

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Martin Reynolds
Guest

The “chop off both extremes” policy is moving ahead and what was seen as a major setback at NOLA seems to have been overcome. Two comments from Stand Firm of those so executed from process gives a flavour of how it feels: Where that lovely man Stephen Noll says As to Bp Iker’s igrnorance on this matter, I suspect any deal-making which involves the ABC and 815 will be with the “Windsor Bishops,” not with Bps. Iker, Duncan and Schofield, nor with Abps Akinola and Orombi. They are no longer welcome in the Common Room. [19] Posted by Stephen Noll… Read more »

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

Surely this has to be approved by the whole House of Bishops, not just Bishop Schori?

Jon
Guest

It doesn’t sound like it changes anything substantial enough to require the HoB to endorse it before it gets put into effect, although looking at the details could change that assessment. It looks almost as if it is a strictly symbolic action affirming the connection between those using the Episcopal Visitors and the AC.

Jon

Mary Clara
Guest
Mary Clara

I find this really worrying. The aims of supporting freedom of conscience and Anglican unity are laudable; however, seeing how things have turned out in US dioceses such as San Joaquin, Ft Worth and Pittsburgh, I doubt that this approach will do anything but promote further polarization and strife within TEC and the Communion at large. Where TEC bishops have been allowed to set up exclusionary zones ‘shielding’ their dioceses from the consensus of the national church (e.g. on ordination of women and sexuality issues), the results have been pretty unhealthy. The exceptionalist diocese can become a magnet for authoritarian… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Good analysis Mary Clara. Thank you.

Prior Aelred
Guest

Time will tell, and I think Jon (symbolic) & Mary Clara (institutionalizing segregation has a bad track record) both make excellent points, but I also up the ante not just from The Presiding Bishop to the House of Bishops but all the way to the General Convention (the bishops are not the church).

Marshall Scott
Guest

Wait. Just wait. The estimable Mr. Conger has jumped the gun before. Without knowing his sources – without hearing from them independently – I don’t think we can be sure just how “done” this deal is. However, there has never been anything stated that bishops from other provinces couldn’t be participants in either DEPO or the “advanced DEPO” that came from New Orleans. The issue was a mandate from foreign prelates Inviting foreign bishops to function under Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, and so under the final authority of the Presiding Bishop wouldn’t seem nearly the same issue.… Read more »

Lisa Fox
Guest

Bishop John Howe (Central Florida) was one of the participants in the meeting. He has already weighed-in, correcting Petre’s story (or spin). Howe writes: “Petre could not have been much more inaccurate!” See his letter, with an outline of the plan, at TitusOneNine:
http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/10323/

Lister Tonge
Guest
Lister Tonge

Mary Clara’s post has strong echoes of the situation in England under the Flying Bishop scheme. The scheme was intended to be a sensitve pastoral response to offended consciences. It has almost set up a church-within-a-church for many who consciences allow themselves to oppose women priests whilst hoping no-one will ask about their stance on gay priests. One priest has admitted to me that since he didn’t happen to like his bishop he encouraged his parish to opt into Alternative Episcopal Oversight. Clergy ‘under’ Flying Bishops speak of having nothing to do with their diocesan – some refuse to pray… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

Important update & clarification from Bishop Howe:

http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/10323/

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

I have continuing doubts about the wisdom of intentionally creating suitably strict conservative No Liberal Go Zones in TEC, via separate oversight for dioceses or even the local parish. Talking about how conservatives need or deserve special protection from modern empirically-based change in our ethics/theology is a distinctly curious starting point for exploring fair, mutual respect among believers of different conscience. Will we thus only buy into the odd, original conservative presuppositional spin which hardly ever gets questioned? Is a conservative believer really endangered if he or she is no longer automatically allowed to say horrible-traditional things about women or… Read more »

ettu
Guest
ettu

As long as the PB retains ultimate authority over new appointments – whether she does the actual consecrations or not – then “the center holds” and all will slowly improve. The conservatives have much of what they want with this scheme but those who can only feel comfortable within a very small, tightly bound box will still complain they are forced to deal with the “disreputables” of the world – as Christ was pilloried for dealing with the disreputables – the whores and taxcollectors -in His time. Hopefully they will find enough love, humility to accept this plan. At least… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

This sounds like one of those rumors about which one can’t really comment (intelligently), until we get confirmation (and DETAILS) from *reputable* sources. [Neither of which I see here, yet]

Let’s just wait and see what ++KJS actually says about it?

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest
Leonardo Ricardo

Don’t these +people have a practical bone in their overly educated, yet cowardly and “rationalizing” heads? I further resent ANY more planning, rearranging, accomdoating and “figuring out” of ANY issue that requires the “wider Church” aka “General Convention of TEC” to determine OUR moral and approriate action(s) regarding Episcopal oversight. Full SUPPORT for the Executive Committee and whatever the Executive Committee may decree until Convention is far straight forward, hands-on and wiser it seems! Unfortunately, “sensible pastoral arrangements” by the ABC and ++KJS always leave the multitudes scratching heads while the madness of discrimination and persecution is promoted by some… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

I can see the logic in Mary Clara’s comments – though diocesan ‘uniformity of theology and praxis’ applies equally in the opposite direction regarding the treatment of the trads by the trendies. And within the worldwide Catholic Church, and cut off (shielded) from the wider sensus fidelium, it could be argued that the trendies represent that ‘righteous, embattled and endangered minority group’ to which you refer?

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

I am amazed and appalled (I’m not sure which more) by the comments following Bishop Howe’s explanation over on Titus One Nine. Good Lord in Heaven (literally)! Is there nothing that will satisfy these people save schism or a complete takeover of TEC by reactionary forces?

JPM
Guest
JPM

What about mainstream Episcopalians trapped under fundamentalist bishops? Will they be able to get alternative oversight?

Mary Clara
Guest
Mary Clara

Neil, I question whether the pressure toward ‘uniformity of theology and praxis’ in a diocese ‘applies equally in the opposite direction’. Those dioceses whose bishops, clergy and laity are on the whole comfortable with the national church’s direction do not feel embattled and marginalized, so would tend to have less of a felt need to impose uniformity, though of course in some places I’m told that that does happen. In any case, my point is that the proposed plan seems likely to aggravate divisions in the church rather than bring us closer together. Your terminology (‘trendies’ and ‘trads’) strikes me… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

“Is there nothing that will satisfy these people save schism or a complete takeover of TEC by reactionary forces?
Posted by: Pat O’Neill”

No.

This has been another of Prior Aelred’s short answers to difficult questions.

EmilyH
Guest
EmilyH

I am concerned about Conger’s use of the term “endorsed”. The actual quote with regard to +KJS was “nihil obstat” Essentially that term does not indicate the approval or support of any of the content of a publication, simply that a theologian has looked at it and there is nothing heretical in it.’ From my reading of the Canons and Constitution of TEC, there is nothing here that is objectionable. When CANA came into the US, similarly, there was nothing objectionable. It was a mission to support Nigerians ex-pats and receivec the support, even funding, of TEC and TEC dioceses.… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

The difference is that whilst the GAFCON crowd have gone sailing off, these others are waiting for the Communion to come to their rescue via a Covenant (to properly deal with TEC, as they see it – to exclude TEC and include them and thus restore Anglicanism). Trouble is someone should tell them that any Covenant to do such a Communion’s job is not going to be acceptable to too many Churches, unless there are going to be many Anglican Churches in a second division in their own Communion. The Communion conservatives have entered limbo land.

Pluralist
Guest

The scheme might just make Jefferts-Schori’s hair stand on end…

See http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/

ettu
Guest
ettu

Seems like a real opportunity for all to stay in the same tent but it will take humility on everyone’s part – and I feel there are many stiff-necked individuals on both sides whose pride will stand in the way of their love for one another- so a tumble from grace appears likely. It’s the old ego thing that over-rides respect for the other.

Mark
Guest
Mark

Mary Clara says, “Where TEC bishops have been allowed to set up exclusionary zones ‘shielding’ their dioceses from the consensus of the national church….” I really think we should be careful here. The story-line the Right promotes about TEC is that it is off the rails liberal, but I don’t think we should buy into that uncritically. At least two General Conventions have refused to authorize the preparation of liturgies blessing same sex unions, for example, and if a resolution had come forward before 2003 saying “there is no theological impediment to a bishop living in a same sex partnership”… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

Mary Clara. Trendies and trads was a shorthand I appreciate is inadequate.

Bruce
Guest

Years ago the Diocese of Chicago allowed women to process thru Indianapolis, who after ordnation were allowed to function as priests in Chicago. Could we encourage such an arrangement as regards possibility of ordination for GLBT folks? In effect, this world provide the equivalent of EV for the ordination process for dioceses limited by those who are EVS. QUESTION: How many dioceses today require aspirants to sign on the line that they are not partnered GLBT?

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

JPM: “What about mainstream Episcopalians trapped under fundamentalist bishops? Will they be able to get alternative oversight?” I hope so, because I am in Central Florida. I wish people understood Bishop Howe’s vision for his Diocese a little better. There is nothing mainstream about it. The Diocese of Central Florida website http://www.cfdiocese.org/index.html has links to an upcoming diocese-wide conference, “A Kingdom Mandate,” on April 10-12, and you can educate yourselves here if you will take the time. The direct link is http://www.incarnationoviedo.com/a_kingdom_mandate_conference.htm The three main speakers at “A Kingdom Mandate” will be the Bishop himself, a non-Anglican megachurch pastor named… Read more »

Malcolm+
Guest

I agree that the responses on T19 and StandFirm were illustrative. The Prior is correct in his “no” answer.

What is more, there rejectionist responses lay open the “conservative” agenda for all to see. They are not interested in any process which would permit the survival of a liberal remnant within the Anglican Communion.

JCF
Guest
JCF

Charlotte’s citation of the “influence” in the Diocese of Central Florida raises an interesting question. The Anglican shorthand for what determines our doctrine, “Scripture, Tradition and Reason”, but what are they anyway? Of course, all Anglicans share the same Scripture, and it has been assumed that it is in the area of “Reason”, from where our differences emerge. But could it not be that there are *very different sources of Tradition* that determine our differences as well? Over on another discussion cite, I recently gave a brief description of our sources of Tradition (*Anglican* Tradition, post-Reformation, as applied to TEC)… Read more »

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest
Leonardo Ricardo

Nothing, I mean nothing, like a bunch of extreme thinking, grandstanding, destructionists who seem to be aiming for more ATTENTION to turn US OFF with their “solutions.” Most any plain speaking/thinking and slightly sensible +person (the kind with a mitre firmly placed on dead center of their head and their feet planted firmly on THEIR OWN DIOCESE ground) knows these overtly eager “gents” are pushing extra hard to reinvent themselves while covering *other* behavior amongst their brothers and sisters at Church. OUR FAITH. A FAITH is ALIVE. Fully alive (but don’t believe me, just keep watching the behind-the-scene antics of… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

Bishop Howe doesn’t sound too different from Abp. Peter Jensen of Sydney (Global South Ltd.) who is not averse to the prospect of Lay-presidency at the Eucharist. Many charismatics in the Anglican Communion claim special access rights (not rites, I might add) to the Holy Spirit, yet without giving due emphasis to the grace-giving epiclesis in the Eucharist. Likewise, the Word remains in the Book, rather than becoming flesh, in the sacraments of the Church. Another anomoly with the new dissenters, is that they are of such a broad spectrum of theology that there is hardly any real reasion for… Read more »

Pluralisth
Guest

“the former Archbishop of Wales”

Yes, I like that – almost a different person of a different influence on to the present. Nothing to do with the author of the Advent Letter.

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Various Anglican schemes of alternative oversight, along with various draft versions of covenants – all of which so far crucially depend upon goodwill, relationships of affection, and freedom of believer conscience across our hot button differences – are a poor second, and certainly not a good substitute, for just those three elements – goodwill, affectionate relating, and freedom of differing hot button conscience.

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Most disturbing, if true, is Conger’s assertion that “On Jan 31 Dr Williams met with Archbishop Gomez, Bishop Stanton, Prof Seitz and Dr Ephraim Radner and gave his backing to the emerging “Anglican Bishops in Communion” project, agreeing to issue invitations to the primates of the West Indies, Burundi, Tanzania, the Indian Ocean and Jerusalem and the Middle East to offer primatial pastoral oversight to the Episcopal Visitors.” Has the ABC in fact agreed to “issue invitations” and if so on what authority? And, out of curiosity, why is he conferring with Drs. Seitz and Radner on this issue, particularly… Read more »

EPfizH
Guest
EPfizH

http://www.livingchurch.org/news/news-updates/2008/2/25/house-of-bishops-will-address-bishops-in-communion-plan Interesting to learn that +Stanton met with +Gomez, Seitz+, Radner+ and ++Cantaur on Jan 31. Recall that it was +Stanton that balked at the CCP meeting’s, under +Duncan’s guidance, attempt to adopt articles at its organizational meeting in August that would have negated the TEC accession clause… ie. Everything is ok up until to violation of TEC’s constitution and canons. He is the ultimate institutional conservative. Interesting that the “primate” representative was +Gomez. Other than the intrusionists, +Gomez is probably the most unacceptable choice possible for both TEC’s moderates and liberals. He participated and preached at the consecration of… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has endorsed a programme of alternative Episcopal oversight brought to her by a group of conservative American bishops.”

Conger can REPEAT himself all he wants, but I’m holding out for an *official* source!

Martin Reynolds
Guest

I think the important matter here is that this proposal was brought to the Presiding Bishop of TEC by a few of HER OWN bishops. For those who are banging the “We TECians are happy as we are – leave us alone!” drum, then I can sympathise with you perhaps feeling that this group of dissidents were stirred into action by the bishops of Durham and Winchester and others – who certainly would not enjoy a similar intervention on their own soil. But these so called “Windsor Bishops” DO now exist and while they showed total loyalty to TEC at… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Martin Reynolds, one or two of your questions could be answered, at least as regards Bishop Howe, if his past history were reviewed. He is a former rector of Truro (VA) who has been involved in arcane breakaway schemes for the past twenty years, partering with +Wantland on the “PECUSA” scheme to seize legal control of the Episcopal Church, for example. Other questions arise when Bishop Howe’s theology and ecclesiology are reviewied. I have posted links to the “Kingdom Mandate” convention he is sponsoring in the Diocese of Central Florida. There is nothing that could sensibly be called “traditionalist” or… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

I was fascinated by what you shared with us earlier Charlotte – I did not know!

Indeed, judging by the published correspondence it seems people are bending over backwards to please this man.

Apart from those whose names are on the paper, I think there should be clarity on precisely who amongst active TEC bishops supports this plan. Perhaps it is ONLY those mentioned.

Charlotte it would be interesting to see information such as this on each of these fine prelates engaged in the present enterprise, this sort of detail should be much more widely known and much more widely disseminated.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

So much for the Sovereignty of the Episcopal Church , after, 219 years of independence. A short term solution that will not satisfy anyone in the long run.

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

I agree, Martin Reynolds. It has been my observation that too little detailed information about the Episcopal Church is known overseas, and I believe the actual situation has been badly distorted as a result. I recall the Archbishop of York was very surprised, on his visit to our last General Convention, at just how small a minority the dissidents in the US Church actually were. That is not to say that all of us are liberals, but very few of us are actually clamoring for alternative oversight, and those who are have been at it, in one fashion or another,… Read more »

EPfizH
Guest
EPfizH

On the ACI proposal… When TEC Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori originally met with the two groups of bishops to present her Episcopal Visitors plan, the deal breaker appeared to be what to do about conservative congregations caught in left-leaning TEC dioceses. The conservatives meeting with her balked at a plan that would not allow for their movement. From TEC’s perspective, it would seem that any proposal that would allow for such would essentially set up not only the conditions for a church within a church but the method by which it could be accomplished. Parishes unhappy with their bishop would… Read more »

EPfizH
Guest
EPfizH

Excuse please, the above: “But that is necessarily the case” should read: “But that is NOT necessarily the case”