Thursday, 26 October 2006

Is Dallas seeking any other primatial oversight?

Updated again Friday evening
Dallas Bishop clarifies request for ‘alternative primatial oversight’

The Diocese of Dallas has apparently withdrawn its application for alternative primatial oversight. That is what it says on the Diocese of Pittsburgh website. Confused? I am, but read it yourself here:

…the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has released the full text of the appeal for Alternate Primatial Oversight (APO). The appeal, which lays out the request of the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Joaquin, South Carolina and Springfield, was sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury on July 20. It explains why the dioceses involved believe that APO is necessary and what that oversight might look like. Since July, Dallas has withdrawn its request, but Quincy has joined the other appellants.

On the Dallas diocesan website, you find still present the following, dated 3 July:

To this end, we call upon the bishop to appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury for a direct primatial relationship with him for the purpose of mission, pastoral support, and accountability.

The Diocese of Dallas just completed its annual convention. All kinds of details about this meeting can be found on the website of the Bishop of Dallas and now on the diocesan site also. But there is no mention there of this matter that I could see. And I am told that the topic was never mentioned during the convention proceedings. This in itself seems very strange.

According to ENS in Convention refuses to sever relationship with the Episcopal Church:

The Diocese of Dallas’s 111th diocesan convention, meeting October 20-21 at the Southfork Ranch Event and Conference Center, refused proposals to remove all reference to the Episcopal Church and General Convention from its constitution, place the diocese specifically in relationship with the Anglican Communion, allow a parish to break from the diocese “upon concurrence of its Rector and at least two-thirds of its Vestry” and allow breakaway parishes to retain title to their property.

“Separation is never a strategy,” Dallas Bishop James Stanton said in a convention speech, according to an October 22 report in the Dallas Morning News.

“Those who depart the church are not, I think, fulfilling Christ’s call but are fulfilling the expectations the world has about the church, that we cannot really get along,” he said. The diocese’s website does not yet have a copy of Stanton’s address.

After the convention, Stanton told the Dallas newspaper that his call for church unity would apply to the denomination only if it follows “the teachings of the apostles.”

The Dallas Morning News reported Diocese says no, for now, to Episcopal split.

Update Thursday evening
This page from the Church of the Ascension in Dallas may shed some further light on the issue:

…At the end of the meeting Bishop Stanton stated that he, and in his opinion 80% of those he has met with, disapproved of the way Convention was run and/or disagreed with some of the outcomes. He then stated that, despite reports in the press to the contrary, he has not rejected the authority of the Presiding Bishop or anyone else. He shared with us his concerns that he feels we will loose some parishes maybe even prior to the convention. The uncertainty many of us felt about the role our Bishop would play in the ‘disassociation movement’ was diminished by his announcement that he was not going to leave the Episcopal Church whatever the outcome of the Diocesan convention in October, and that he was bound by our Canons and Constitution. Bishop Stanton further said that he acknowledges and accepts that Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori is the duly elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Further, he has not and will not ask the Archbishop of Canterbury for oversight from an Anglican leader instead of being under the umbrella of the American church.

Jim Naughton has also said he is confused about this, see Significant or merely curious?

Update Friday morning
The footnote 2 to this speech by Bishop Robert Duncan reads:

2 Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, San Joaquin, South Carolina, and Springfield have appealed for Alternative Primatial Oversight or Relationship. The Bishop of Dallas has withdrawn from the request, but the Bishops of Albany are considering joining the request.

The addition of Quincy was reported earlier. The possible addition of Albany is news. It is interesting that the references are to bishops rather than to dioceses.

Further research reminds me that what Bishop Stanton said (scroll down for his pastoral letter) on 5 July was this:

2. They [Standing Committee] ask me to “appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury for a direct primatial relationship …” Several dioceses have called for “alternative primatial oversight,” as you well know through news reports. I will discuss a direct relationship with the archbishop. This will be for the pastoral support of our mission, and assurance of our place in the Communion. I must emphasize that this relationship will be consistent with our constitution and canons, both of the diocese and of the General Church.

And yet, according to the Living Church:

Overseen by the Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, the 14-page petition for relief was sent to Lambeth Palace last month after Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams requested the dioceses to consolidate their requests for assistance.

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Comments

The "separation is never a strategy" quote is taken from the address available in full here:
http://bishop.jmstanton.com/061024_Address_Pursuing_God's_Future.htm

Posted by: badman on Thursday, 26 October 2006 at 11:37am BST

The following is a comment from a resident of the Diocese of Dallas seen on the (odious) "Virtue" Online website:

"Being with one of the parishes 'on the way out' there is one fact to consider - Jim Stanton has never asked for alternative primatial oversight. Rather he requested a direct pastoral relationship with the ABC. So this fact would account for the wording in the Diocese of Pittsburg news release."

Posted by: David Huff on Thursday, 26 October 2006 at 4:50pm BST

I had already seen the ENS article. It sounds like there is not such unity in Dallas as has been implied about, say, San Joaquin or Fort Worth. This story, along with news from the diocesan convention of the Diocese of the Rio Grande, suggest that at least some conservative bishops are responsive to differing voices. It may not change the course of the next generation, but it's a nice change for the time being.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Thursday, 26 October 2006 at 6:30pm BST

I think there are a lot of souls deliberating and networking behind the scenes. The next Lambeth Conference is going to be interesting. It is going to be hard to be fully informed or aware of what is happening because a lot is being done behind the scenes, and there continues to be a lot of deliberate refusal to enter into some debates.

Some examples are these articles linked from Australia's Victorian Anglican website this week:
http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,,20639440-1242,00.html?from=rss
http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/anglican-rift-leads-dissenters-to-jensen/2006/10/23/1161455665468.html
http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2006/s1771777.htm

Apparently God stopped moving after Jesus' earlier resurrection encounters. Events such as SE Asian Tsunami, Nias, Katrina, Wilma/Alpha/Noreaster & Pakistani earthquake are meaningless. And Jesus words don't count for much either e.g. Luke 24:44 “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 27 October 2006 at 12:35am BST

What is true of Dallas is true of the Diocese of Central Florida. There is no such unity here, either.

As to the probable consequences of the requests for APO: it is worthwhile to read Matt Kennedy's article "Ecclesiology: The Achilles Heel of Orthodox Anglicanism?" at

http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/1356/

Fr. Kennedy argues that connections with Canterbury are not essential:

"[T]he idea of breaking with an historic see or with a province or bishop tied to an historic see cuts to the very heart of what has traditionally divided Reformed/evangelical Anglicans and Anglo-catholics.

"There seem to be four basic opinions on this matter.[...]

[group] 2. Some argue that the Communion tie to Canterbury is a fundamental mark of catholicity. So long as the Episcopal Church is bound to and in communion with Canterbury breaking from her is unthinkable.

[...]

[group]4. Still others ... dispute the validity of any episcopal authority, any ecclesial entity, that has ceased to proclaim the gospel. Heretic bishops are not truly bishops and an apostate church is no church at all. For this last category, the office of bishop is primarily functional. Apostolic succession is a matter of maintaining and proclaiming the apostolic witness as recorded in the Old and New Testaments.

[...]

Personally speaking, in 2003 I would have placed myself in group 2. Now I am leaning heavily toward group 4."

Posted by: Charlotte on Friday, 27 October 2006 at 2:28am BST

I had the opportunity to hear Bishop Stanton speak to the Vestry at our progressive church in August. He went out of his way to say how he had been misunderstood concerning Bishop Jefferts-Schori, and that he was not asking for Alternative Primatial Oversight but rather a direct relationship with the ABC. I asked him whether there would be any difference in the relationship with Bishop Jefferts-Schori than with previous Presiding Bishops. He said no.

Yet that doesn't seem quite right. He seems to want something besides the normal relationship with the PB, and it is not clear at all that he shows both Bishop Schori and her office the respect they are due. At a minimum he is equivocating, and seems to continue his practice of doublespeak, trying to have it all ways at all times. I hope someone can challenge him on specific duties of the Presiding Bishop, and make him commit whether he will submit to the PB's authority or not.

I also hope Bishop Schori will come to Dallas personally to show support for those of us who are faithful and beleaguered Episcopalians.

Posted by: Bob on Friday, 27 October 2006 at 2:33pm BST

I've slept on this whole issue, spoken to some friends both lay & clergy, and think I've come to grips with it this way:

As mentioned, Bp. Stanton never did specifically ask for "AlPO," but rather for a "direct primatial relationship" with the ABC. This leads me to conclude several things:

1) It accounts for the wording in Bp. Duncan's recent posting on the Pittsburgh website.

2) It allows Bp. Stanton to spin things like he did to the people of Ascension as a moderate, mainstream parish in our "Network" diocese.

3) It avoids the problematic concept of "AlPO," which doesn't exist in TEC's Constitution & Canons, and yet...

4) It also allows him to present himself as aligned with "Anglicanism" vs. that horrid, apostate Episcopal Church when he talks to conservative parishes in the diocese.

So, with a rather heavy heart, I've decided that it's all just spin, and that neither the Bishop's heart nor anything else here has really changed. And yes, Marshall is correct - not much unity around here. A situation familiar to any mainstream Episcoipalians who find themselves in a self-proclaimed "Network" diocese...

Posted by: David Huff on Friday, 27 October 2006 at 3:30pm BST
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