Saturday, 22 October 2005

American paranoia?

After the Living Church published on 19 October a news report, Via Media Groups Mobilize for the ‘Day After’, the American Anglican Council got very excited about a document that came its way which was a partial rough draft of some minutes from a Via Media USA steering committee meeting. Curiously, the particular organisation discussed in this draft, the NACDAP, hasn’t yet shown any reaction at all.

Update Monday 24 Oct the NACDAP has now published this response: Network responds to “worst-case scenario” and reprinted the original document on its own website.

The author of the draft has issued a personal response which is reproduced here below the fold.

The silliness of all this is discussed by Mark Harris in this blog item, The AAC and the Via Media Memo: Lots of Noise and Smoke, and Certainly Paranoia.

Very sensible comments about it were made by Dale Rye on titusonenine which you can read here and here.

A personal response

I am sorry that the world at large has been subjected to my unedited, unapproved set of minute notes from the most recent Via Media USA steering committee. The topics discussed at the Via Media USA steering committee are those that reasonable and prudent individuals who are committed to the Episcopal Church might discuss given the actions and statements of some conservative leaders here and abroad. If these conservatives were to act on their threats, Episcopalians in some dioceses where schism and abandonment of the communion of the church will then have taken place would need to move quickly within the structures of church canons and constitution to rebuild. That requires some advance thinking. Of course, our preferred course of action is to see this church healed and whole, welcoming to all.

As has been noted previously, Via Media USA is not associated in any way with the Via Media curriculum which was developed by Every Voice Network. In fact, there is no overlap of membership at a leadership level between these two groups. We both happened to choose the Via Media name (us, as a name for organizations and them as a name for a curriculum) because it is a treasured position of the Episcopal Church.

Joan R. Gundersen

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 22 October 2005 at 1:12pm BST
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA
Comments

Hi Simon

As you might expect I see this as the counterpart of the Chapman letter that liberals sent up such shrieks about a couple of years ago!

I think that it is quite likely that ECUSA will try to do what Brazil has just done. So, first declare the NACDAP and ACC are "anti-ECUSA", forbid membership then summarily ex-communicate those who refuse, whilst making a legal grab for the dioceses' and parish's property.

Don't believe it ? Here's a resolution from those nice liberal Canadian Episcopalians in New Westminster: Resolution 7.4 .. requests that the Bishop, in consultation with the appropriate Regional Archdeacon and Regional Dean, as well as a Diocesan legal officer, take such actions as he may consider necessary with respect to any licensed Clergy or any Parish of the Diocese who should choose to declare themselves to be a Member of the Anglican Network in Canada or the Essentials Network or the Anglican Communion in Canada, whether by formal resolution or by other public actions or declarations, both to direct their attention to this Resolution as well as to preserve the integrity of our Communion with Canterbury through this Diocese, this Province and the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada." (October 11, 2005)

Maybe it's all huff and puff to try to scare NACDAP into precipitative action, but I think the liberals have shown themselves quite capable of extreme reactions when they assert their *power*.

Posted by: Dave on Saturday, 22 October 2005 at 9:34pm BST

Simon, how do you know they were a "a partial rough draft"?

And, you might want to be clearer in your chronology ... first came the Living Church article, the next day came publication of the minutes by a number of bloggers, then came the AAC's reaction piece.

(Simon adds: I've slightly amended the wording to make the TLC's original scoop clear)


Posted by: George Conger on Sunday, 23 October 2005 at 1:43am BST

I certainly agree with Dave about Liberals being capable of the same banter and subterfuge as the conservatives.
I'm a member of one of the liberal groups. I watch the post and the reactions and I have to say I'm not sure I want any these liberals running ECUSA anymore than I Like the bitter conservatives i.e. Duncan+.
So much of this fight is about "it's my way or no way!" Such a waste.

Posted by: Bob in Pittsburgh on Sunday, 23 October 2005 at 2:12am BST

Isn't it quite standard for aggressors to accuse their enemies of the same act of aggression?

As Mark Harris says, It is only sensible to make some kind of contingency plans. Prior to these minutes being publicised, I had ASSUMED that all those with pastoral, organisational, legal etc responsibilities throughout the Anglican Communion were meeting together to thrash out what their responses should be in different scenarios issuing from the present crisis and threatened (actual?) schism. It would be NEGLIGENT for them not to do so.

For the results of what looks a bit like the results of one brain-storming session, probably subject to future reformulation several times, it seems quite mild and reasonable. Not one mention of flushing reasserters out of the vestry with packs of dogs.

Posted by: Augustus Meriwether on Sunday, 23 October 2005 at 2:29am BST

I love where they say that Via Media is a "pawn" of 815.

Posted by: Thomas Bushnell, BSG on Sunday, 23 October 2005 at 8:07am BST

Augustus Meriwether wrote: "Isn't it quite standard for aggressors to accuse their enemies of the same act of aggression?"

Dear Augustus, quite. You will have noticed that it is almost exclusively *liberal* Bishops and PBps who are acting to throw conservatives out of jobs and property (ECUSA, Brazil, New Westminster etc)... Yet the way liberal commentators on TA talk, you'd think it were completely the other way round !

What people *actually do* shows their real intentions !

Posted by: Dave on Sunday, 23 October 2005 at 3:03pm BST

"What people *actually do* shows their real intentions!" Dave

Ah yes, the evil-doers!

More does need to be done to stop the very REAL and demanding/insistant radical righteous who instigate hate and behind-the-scenes thievery against fellow Episcopalians/Anglicans. Their arrogant and narrow "interpretations" of the Bible are wearing thin on the TRUTH covering their actions.

Gracias Via Media!
Onward and Upward (literally)!

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Sunday, 23 October 2005 at 4:58pm BST

Dave, we have had a two-year fracas in the AC, because self-appointed bosses tried to throw the (duly-elected/nationally-confirmed) Bishop of New Hampshire out of *his* job. (And throw same-sex couples out of the New Westminster churches which would bless them).

I agree w/ "Bob in Pittsburgh" that this is a waste. It's just that, sometimes, cliches ARE actually true: "just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you"---"They started it!"

And the self-appointed orthodox DID *start this*.

Faithful Episcopalians (and other moderate Anglicans: witness Brazil) have just been trying to *respond to* these hostile innovations ever since.

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Sunday, 23 October 2005 at 8:57pm BST

Dear Leonardo, What you call "narrow interpretations" has another name... "Christianity" - as believed and practiced for the last 2000 years !

Posted by: Dave on Sunday, 23 October 2005 at 9:22pm BST

Notwithstanding the firm convictions on both "sides" the bottom line is that the innovation of a few in the West is a scandal to the Communion as a whole. If it were not so then the process would have evidenced some unity whereas it has produced bitterness and acrimony. The "few" declare the rest of the communion to be "puritans", fundamentalists, and bigots, narrow interpreters of the Bible. Surely the arrogance of the "few" is further manifest in their persecution - in fact and in intention - of those in the US/Canada/Brazil who hold to the official teachings of the AC. (Example Lambeth 1.10). The ABC spoke at the outset of the last ACC about lack of unity evidencing the lack of the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

There is a huge difference between a minority coup d'eglise (even if that minority is a majority in one province) and a group that may be a minority in that one province seeking to adhere to the teaching, understanding, and will of the huge majority worldwide, buttressed by both plain Biblical teaching and 2000 years of Church teaching and tradition. The innovators have a much greater duty to persuade and be patient. The so called Via Media USA has not evidenced any such while the orthodox in the USA are being persecuted actively for their faith that has been the faith of the Church for 2000 years.

Posted by: Ian Montgomery on Sunday, 23 October 2005 at 11:03pm BST

It's all a bit rich, isn't it? After several years of their own planning, establishing talking points, building political alliances, delegitimizing elected bodies that don't toe their line, and holding strategy meetings (Plano, anyone?) the AAC freaks out when anyone else starts to think about how to handle the split.

Good on Mark Harris for putting it in perspective, and good on Via Media for beginning to think of how to handle the folks who've been planning the demise of ECUSA for the last several years.

Posted by: Christopher Calderhead on Monday, 24 October 2005 at 3:33am BST

Whatever the merits of these Via Media groups making contingency plans for the "day after" General Convention 2006, it is clear that they can no longer with any sort of righteous indignation huff about the "Chapman Memo". If indeed, as some VM supporters have stated about the American Anglican Council's reaction to the VM minutes, "what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander", then they should cease cries of "foul!" when sauce appears on the table.

Posted by: Todd Granger on Monday, 24 October 2005 at 3:47am BST

Thank you ms. gundersen for your interest in keeping the church welcoming to all, however, as one of those theological conservatives in a liberal diocese (CNY), I certainly don't feel welcomed here. Just sneers from your colleagues. Have your friends who feel so enlightened and welcoming, welcome all of us, not just those with your perspectives.

Posted by: serpentdove on Monday, 24 October 2005 at 5:31am BST

Simon:

While there may be some over-reaction on the part of the AAC, I do not think this is paranoia. David Booth Beers, the chancellor for our presiding bishop, had expressed the opinion that if a diocese leaves, all the church property should go to whatever remnant remains, not just the church property where the liberals are predominant, see the article in the Living Church
http://www.livingchurch.org/publishertlc/viewarticle.asp?ID=364
I see nothing in this memo specifying what property VM feels that it needs to cover, whether it be just a few churches or the entire property in the diocese. I appreciate Dale Rye's assumption of the best of intentions on the part of VM. However, given the resentment and disdain the ECUSA liberals have for the conservatives (which is true in the reverse as well), demonstrated in e.g. the lack of protest from the liberal faction when Smith seized the church property of St. John's in Bristol CT and countless other examples, I would think the AAC would be extremely naive if it didn't at least raise some questions about this. Indeed, I think many of the liberal faction (including readers here) will say that VM has a right to those properties. So the AAC may indeed be justified in being concerned about this memo.

Posted by: RB on Monday, 24 October 2005 at 1:40pm BST

"What you call "narrow interpretations" has another name... "Christianity" - as believed and practiced for the last 2000 years !" Dave

Dave, I'm a Christian.

I'm Episcopalian and my ancestors were Anglicans from England on both sides of my family tree. I/they don't/didn't believe in stoning to death misbehaving children (got some?), murdering adulterous folks (know any?) or any *other* barbaric and narrow/fanatical Biblical interpretations. Well, maybe they did participate in a "lynching" or two that murdered Negro people...I don't know if they did or didn't indulge in that shameful and evil activity surrounding slavery.

All the slaves owned by my family (lots in the U.S. South) were set free not so many decades ago. Actually, a bloody war was won against the "righteous" thems and their NARROW minded Christian arrogance, selfishness and religious insipired bigotry. Were they God loving/fearing folks that had religious strictly "interpreted" Scriptural convictions working honorably in their lives? Were they sinners? Were they Orthodox?

You tell me Dave.

When I read my family "wills of inheritance" from those earlier days/daze there are lists of slaves on them...human beings described such as "Pearl, female, 24 years of age" who was "given" to *whomever* like a not-so-treasured possession...these demoralized human beings/slaves finally escaped my family and your/their nearly 2000 years of Christian arrogance, hate and stupidity.

Can you can escape from hate?

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Monday, 24 October 2005 at 2:51pm BST

Leonardo, I haven't a clue who my ancestors were 150 years ago or what they did, nor do I greatly care (since I've inherited nothing from them!). There wwere no slave holders among them; more likely some of them became indentured labourers in America. What I want to know is why liberals NOW want to dispossess conservatives of their churches and properties by legal strategems.
They have cared for and poured money and work into these buildings and bank accounts. Common justice holds that they have acquired some share in them, at the very least. In the event of a divorce property is divided, and if you care about justice, that is what you should be agitating for. Don't you think so?

Posted by: Mark Beaton on Monday, 24 October 2005 at 5:19pm BST

RB said, "disdain the ECUSA liberals have for the conservatives (which is true in the reverse as well), demonstrated in e.g. the lack of protest from the liberal faction when Smith seized the church property of St. John's in Bristol CT and countless other examples..."

Seize St. John's, Bristol? What a farce! The canons allow Bishop Smith to intercede when the parish faced financial and spiritual difficulties without proper clergy & vestry oversight (bills unpaid, clergy AWOL, dwindling membership).

This is not a conspiracy, nor counterpart to the Chapman letter. Bishop Smith is in the right to oversee the parishes in his jurisdiction.

Posted by: Rev. Kurt Huber on Monday, 24 October 2005 at 6:16pm BST

RB wrote, "Indeed, I think many of the liberal faction (including readers here) will say that VM has a right to those properties."

I hope not. I hope liberals will understand that the Episcopal Church has rights to those properties. If leaders of Via Media organizations (and I am not a member of any, much less a leader) are planning ways to support the Episcopal Church in maintaining those rights, they are still not claiming those rights for themselves.

After all, there is no legal entity or institution known as "The Anglican Communion." The Anglican Communion is spoken of (of late, only sadly) as a Communion of Love. Archbishop Tutu says, "We meet," and that's how we commune, and, hopefully, communicate. Yes, there is an Anglican Communion Office to facilitate those meetings; but it has no authority otherwise. There are no COnsitution or Canons of the Anglican Communion, and even those of the various provinces of the Communion are very different. There is the See of Canterbury; but the Constitution and Canons of the See of Canterbury end at the water's edge, more or less. We pay attention because we want to, not because we have to.

On the other hand, there is an institution of The Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. (Two legal titles for the same organization.) The Episcopal Church does have Constitution and Canons, and these are incumbent on dioceses, congregations, and clergy; and lay members who choose to become Episcopalians also choose to take them on. Those who don't like them (from all perspectives) have the choices of accepting them; working to change them; leaving in good conscience; or practicing civil disobedience and accepting the consequences. All of those actions have some moral standing.

Within that Constitution and Canons, the Episcopal Church has the right to the real property. It's been that way for some time. Those clergy and congregations that choose to leave the Episcopal Church can do that in good conscience, but they can't simply pretend the Constitution and Canons of the Church are irrelevant.

The difference I see between this and Fr. Chapman's letter (whether it's official policy of AAC/NACDAP or not) is that the Chapman letter is proactive, and the Via Media discussion indicated in the minutes is reactive: if some choose to leave the institution of the Episcopal Church, these are actions that can be taken to support the integrity of the Episcopal Church. If there is no precipitating action, there is no need for a response.

Posted by: Marshall on Monday, 24 October 2005 at 8:04pm BST

I am still reading all of the relevant documents and responses in this case, and I can see why people are touchy about any issues involving property. That said, it doesn't strike me as especially sinister that the Via Media USA folks are planning to use the canons of the Church to resolve issues of property and authority. That is some of what the canons are for.

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Monday, 24 October 2005 at 8:13pm BST

"In the event of a divorce property is divided, and if you care about justice, that is what you should be agitating for. Don't you think so?" Mark

I don't believe in divorce unless a dangerous *situation* exists...are you dangerous Mark? But, I do believe in Justice and thanks for noticing my signs of Integrity. Justice is the "key" actually. Is there justice up your way in OUR church Mark? Do you embrace and love LGBT people in your clergy and parish family life? Are you "inclusive" Mark?

Are LGBT and women in danger of injustice in your diocese and parish? Do you want to exclude the likes of me Mark? Do you accept me as a Episcopalian/Anglican Christian with full equality?

If you do, I don't think we need a divorce afterall because WE have ALWAYS loved you (we are your family members/friends and we have quietly listened from the pews to your non-stop bigoted/discriminatory nonsense for a eternity it seems).

No Mark, you can't take/steal the church that WE built too (even if you don't know/accept or recognize US as being who we are)!

We have always been part of the church Mark it is ours too (do you want to see my cancelled checks?).

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Monday, 24 October 2005 at 9:31pm BST

Leonardo's comment says more about the state of ECUSA than anything else. It is not about the truth, not about the Gospel, not about transfiguration at all. -It is all about having the right inheritance!! God, I thought you americans had a revolution in the 18th century, but perhaps that did not touch the true episcopalians!

Posted by: Peter on Monday, 24 October 2005 at 9:47pm BST

Simon, could you perhaps terminate a thread on the grounds of "depressing in the EXTREME"?

What non-Christian could *possibly* look on this thread and "know we are Christians by our love"?

:-(

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Monday, 24 October 2005 at 11:50pm BST

Leonardo, I didn't know it was possible to steal one's own property. You know a split is coming, and indeed is already underway. Thousands have left already in the past few years, and this is accelerating: look at LA, the Connecticut 6, the Florida 6, the dissidents in Ohio, AMiA, Christ Church Overland Park - everywhere you look, you see a church coming apart at the seams. The GC in 2006 will make it permanent. So you should work for a fair distribution of the property, whoever you think is to blame for all this.

Posted by: Mark Beaton on Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 12:15am BST

Oh, my yes, it's certainly horrible of Leonardo to tell someone that "WE have ALWAYS loved you."

Scandalous. Dreadful. How could he ever?

Posted by: bls on Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 2:31am BST

"Leonardo, I didn't know it was possible to steal one's own property. You know a split is coming, and indeed is already underway. Thousands have left already in the past few years, and this is accelerating: look at LA, the Connecticut 6, the Florida 6, the dissidents in Ohio, AMiA, Christ Church Overland Park - everywhere you look, you see a church coming apart at the seams. The GC in 2006 will make it permanent. So you should work for a fair distribution of the property, whoever you think is to blame for all this."-- Mark Beaton

Thousands have left? Not in the parishes I've attended in New York over the past few years. A Church coming apart at the seams? Not that I have noticed. Hoards of dissidents? Not here in New York.

In fact, Mark, I have not even met a New York supporter of the Network in all the years that it has been around. I don't think they even have a supporting parish within 100 miles of here. Perhaps the "CT 5" parishes are the closest.

In fact, it is only a "crisis" in a few socially backward parts of the USA, affecting perhaps 10 or 15% of the ECUSA. Big deal. So split already.

Posted by: Kurt on Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 6:47pm BST

Hey Kurt--try Resurrection. I wouldn't be surprised to find some at Ignatius either. Truth be told there are some Network supporters and some seriously on the fence people at General too. All of which--obviously--are in Manhattan. No, there isn't unanimous agreement, even here in the Big Apple.

Your assumption and insinuation about the "socially backwards" parts is alienating to those of us not from the Atlantic or Left Coasts.

-A Red-Stater in Exile...

Posted by: Derek on Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 10:22pm BST

Kurt, your comments reminds me of the (apparently true) statement of a journalist in 1972: 'I don't understand how Nixon won, nobody I know voted for him.' You should get out more, and find out about the growing churches in the south and southwest, especially among Hispanics.
Maybe there is some hyperbole in my words about 'coming apart at the seams' since that indicates rather more restive energy and life in Ecusa than it actually has. Nationally Ecusa can only muster about 800,000 to church of a Sunday (under 0.4% of the US population), most of these are over 55, most of the clergy in training are over 40, and the average congregation numbers 77. I agree that most people of that demographic profile 'don't want to be disturbed'. So maybe it would be more accurate to say that life is draining away and not being renewed, while younger people with energy and a kingdom focus are looking elsewhere. Keep your eyes open for the latest figures on attendance and pledges.

Posted by: Mark Beaton on Tuesday, 25 October 2005 at 11:38pm BST

Seeking Truth? Care about Real? Righteous Rightist Fear tactics got you down? Try Newsweek Magazines Denial Blocker! It Works!

Are U.S. Episcopalians running for cover and sprinting out of our churches while screaming/defecting and seeking "protection" from the aledged Satanic LGBT leftish/weirdo meanies?

Nope, see below and immediately avoid/abandon hysterical thinking, spin and spew:

Newsweek
October 17, 2005
Page #56

US Church Growth, 2003 to 2004
Mormon +1.71%
RCs +1.28%
Southern Baptists +1.18%
Episcopalians +.57%
United Methodists +.01%
American Baptists -3.45%
Presbyterians -4.87%

Source: National Council of Churches

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 12:13am BST

Canon law rules the Episcopal Church.

Personally, I find it hard to believe all this pretention and loud-mouthed denial about something as dry and unequivocal as Canons.

Why do people pretend that the Rules of the Game can be ignored?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 2:19pm BST

So, what are you trying to say, Mark? That it's not the 1950s?. The go-go years for suburban church growth? OK, I will grant you that. Church growth in the areas you cite may well be a function of national population shift. In-migration of a new generation happens all the time. People go where the jobs are — particularly if they are young. Obviously the relative decline in the population of Northeastern Episcopalians is a function of this, not some “liberal agenda” that is “driving out” young people. Get real, Mark.

I don't think that when push comes to shove next year, you are going to take as many people with you as you think.

At least, that's the view I have from Brooklyn, NY USA.

Cheers.

Posted by: Kurt on Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 2:29pm BST

Leonardo, I don't have access to Newsweek so I can't comment on the article you refer to, except to say it's unclear what 'church growth' means in the piece you've cited and it's very much at variance with Ecusa's own collected statistics. The Living Church Magazine reports in its July 10, 2005 issue that the estimated average Sunday attendance in the Episcopal Church was down by 3.2 percent. According to the article, this represents "19,268 fewer people attending each week among the 5,222 churches" who had submitted their 2004 parochial reports. The magazine based its reporting on a presentation by Charles Fulton, national congregational development officer, to the June meeting of Executive Council.
This is on top of figures for 2003, which showed the number of parishes declining from 7,305 to 7,220 (-85) and average Sunday attendance from 846,640 to 823,017 (-23,623). With the US population increasing at about 1% p.a., Ecusa appears to be declining in absolute terms as well as a proportion of the population. This has been a continuous trend since about 1965.
Another Newsweek article claims that the Mormons have increased by 2.42%, not 1.71%, so I don't know what to make of your statistics.

Posted by: Mark Beaton on Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 2:36pm BST

Kurt wrote: "In fact, it is only a "crisis" in a few socially backward parts of the USA, affecting perhaps 10 or 15% of the ECUSA. Big deal. So split already."

Well, uh...yeah, actually. If you really dig in to the *actual* membership statistics of the "Network," the estimate of 10 or 15% is about right.

Now, being one who lives in one of those "socially backward parts,"* (Dallas in my case) it's a bit tougher and more personal for me. I wish we had a lot more real, concrete help & support from the rest of the Church to resist this AAC/Network stuff. But truthfully, Kurt's right - it's ultimately not a huge crisis for TEC. So I'd like to challenge the "Network" to, as we say here in the South, p*ss or get off the pot.

*Note: the polite Episcopalian part of me is uncomfortable with the designation "socially backward," but when I search my heart I find I have a hard time arguing against it.

Posted by: Simeon on Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 10:02pm BST

(Source for Newsweek: National Council of Churches)

Mark,

When you demean LGBT people at the ECUSA you are harming OUR whole church. OUR church is a enormous and diverse Christian family of friends and a fellowship of loved ones. It's ALWAYS been that way. The only difference NOW is that we are no longer are able to "pretend" we are not a openly loving and inclusive lot. We will not lie/pretend things are *different* than they are anymore for you Mark, or to ourselves and especially not before God. God wants us to be the generous, helpful and loving people he intended us to be...no more polite deceit please, let your fear fall away Mark...we're all emerging from the darkness of the ages and into the stark light of today...it may take time for your eyes to adjust to reality.

We will not do a King Solomon "type" test-surgery on our church. We will remain whole with all of our lovely, diverse and honorable ECUSA body parts.

We stand before God as we actually *are* and not how you may wish or insist that we *be* Mark.

We will make every gentle effort to keep the entire "Body of Christ" whole. We will keep the ECUSA heart attached to OUR ECUSA soul.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Wednesday, 26 October 2005 at 10:47pm BST
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