Thursday, 18 January 2007

Virginia: new developments (updated)

Updated again Saturday morning
The Diocese of Virginia has just issued this: Diocesan Leadership Declares Church Property ‘Abandoned’
and
A Letter to The Diocese of Virginia from the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop

Please read both documents in full.

Friday morning
Episcopal News Service Virginia leadership declares church property ‘abandoned’
Living Church Diocese Declares Departing Virginia Church Properties Abandoned
Richmond Times-Dispatch Diocese moves to recover breakaway churches’ land
Associated Press via Washington Post Episcopalians Readying Legal Challenge
Washington Times Church dispute headed to court

Friday evening
Episcopal News Service Presiding Bishop affirms Church’s ‘fiduciary and moral duty’ to preserve property

From the CANA website:

On January 12, Bishop Martyn Minns of CANA received the following letter from the leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia (the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee). Bishop Minns’s response is also pasted below. CANA regrets that given the Episcopal Church’s more recent public polemical statements, that we are forced to make these two private letters part of the public record. In the past, the headquarters of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has endorsed the principles of civility and grace (e.g., “The Grace and Power of Civility” by David Abshire). But their recent unilateral actions of (1) denying their own Protocol’s access to amicable separation, of (2) breaking off the negotiation process, of (3) driving a wedge into CANA congregations, of (4) denying senior priests access to COBRA health care extensions — all of these seem to prove that the Episcopal Church is more interested in posturing than people. CANA continues to pray for a peaceful resolution and that the Episcopal Church leaders will not initiate litigation.

» January 10, 2007 - Letter from the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee to the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns (PDF)

» January 16, 2007 - Letter from the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns to the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee (PDF)

and also Anglican District of Virginia leaders urge Episcopal Bishop and Diocese to return to negotiating table.

FAIRFAX and FALLS CHURCH, Va, Jan. 19 - Two leaders of the Anglican District of Virginia today urged the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, to cease both his divisive rhetoric and his march toward the courthouse and instead return to the negotiating table.

“It is still not too late for Bishop Lee and the leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia to stand down from making any more threats against faithful Christians who followed the Diocese of Virginia’s protocol for departing congregations, and instead to return to the negotiating table,” said Tom Wilson, Senior Warden of The Falls Church and Chairman of the Anglican District. “I still have hope, even now, that we can sit down and reason together.”

The Anglican District of Virginia is a growing association of Anglican Churches in Virginia, consisting of 16 worshipping congregations and two emerging church plants. On a typical Sunday, almost 6000 people attend these churches, making Anglican District larger than almost half of the Episcopal dioceses in the United States…

This article from the Washington Post yesterday contains detail about the Heathsville, Virginia church mentioned in the correspondence above: Praying for Answers.

Saturday morning
Living Church Departing Virginia Churches Urge Diocese to Resume Negotiations
Washington Post Congregations Give Warning On Property
Washington Times Breakaway churches urge bishop back to talks

The Rev. Dr. John Yates Writes to The Falls Church via Stand Firm

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 18 January 2007 at 10:40pm GMT | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA
Comments

I believe it is truly said of Bishop Lee that he exhausted every other reasonable, permissible avenue open to him, and that he at length was driven to this sad day.

We should remember that his declaration is the outcome of decades of growing division in the Episcopal Church, dating at least from the '60s, division that on numerous other occasions had already resulted in open schism with the Episcopal Church.

I think it is worth pondering the nature of such divisions, and how we can better keep them within the reasonable bounds of Christian community in the future, bounds which these abandoned churches have, with what they considered I am sure compelling reasons, overstepped.

Posted by: The Anglican Scotist on Thursday, 18 January 2007 at 11:28pm GMT

Bishop Lee starts his letter: "Today, the leadership of the Diocese of Virginia, supported by the prayers of faithful Episcopalians in this Diocese and around the world, took action to preserve the sacred mission entrusted to us by previous generations for the future of the Church here in Virginia and across the Episcopal Church."

I notice the use of the term "faithful Episcopalians.... around the world". This seems to reflect the comments that Simon recently reported from TEC bloggers... Many faithful Episcopalians seem to be deciding that the price for remaining part of the Anglican Communion is too high.

I also noticed Bishop Lee's use of the phrase: "preserve the sacred mission entrusted to us by previous generations for the future of the Church ....". I think what he means is get control of buildings and maybe take away clergy pension rights. I doubt that he would persuade "previous generations" that many of the changes TEC has introduced over the last thirty years were any part of the sacred mission of the Church !

TEC can't really appeal to either the worldwide Church or to the historical Church - only to the perception of the majority of people who currently define themselves as Episcopalians! He should recognise that, although he doesn't agree, the departing churches have a just cause - and allow the churches, clergy etc who want to remain faithful Anglican Christians, and those who want to go into new TEC, to seperate equitably - rather than going for "winner takes all"!

Posted by: Dave on Thursday, 18 January 2007 at 11:31pm GMT

Bravo!

Saying NO to arrogant/greedy rationalizing and boundary crossing, by many non-Anglican and Nigerian puritan POACHERS who respect NOTHING of our religious heritage is a very BIG DEAL!

Our moral character as it is revealed through OUR ongoing inclusion of ALL Christians at ALL levels of Episcopal/Anglican Church life is now a unavoidable FACT!

The "listening/orientation" process will finally begin at court...listening, will be required even for the folks who have fear/hate so deeply embedded in their "loathing process" that they formerly could only hear the sound of their own self-righteous bigoted voices.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 12:11am GMT

Finally!

A man of almost divine patience and awesome courage!

Bless him, bless him!

Posted by: John-Julian, OJN on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 12:49am GMT

"Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot!"

Posted by: JPM on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 1:47am GMT

Sorry but this is all looking a lot like W's program of "staying the course" and, failing that, escalating.

Yes the canons entitle the diocese to get that church property, but so what? Is it really cost-effective to fight this out to keep the buildings and property? Maybe from the point of view of the institution and the hierarchy, but not from the perspective of ordinary church members. There's no shortage of church buildings or space in church buildings. Most Episcopalians drive to church and lots drive past 2 or 3 Episcopal churches to go to the one that suits them--not a big deal.

It isn't the end-users who are being given consideration--they can just switch buildings and get on with business as usual. They aren't poor souls "left without vestries, without clergy and without their churches": there are plenty to go around. This is the church as an institution fighting to keep money and real estate, bishops and denominational bureaucrats with 6 figure salaries duking it out, politicking and litigating, like their counterparts in secular firms for money, power and prestige.

If a congregation, or most of a congregation wants to join CANA, give them their building--which they maintain at their own expense--and let them go. If a congregation wants to go Unitarian, Presbyterian, Catholic or Buddhist, give them their building and let them go. Heck, if they get completely fed up with religion--and this dispute could do it--let them turn their building into condos. The Episcopal Church has plenty of land and buildings, including its headquarters on prime Manhattan real estate, and might do better with less.

Posted by: H. E. Baber on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 2:53am GMT

I think that it has become clear that the Episcopal Church and the leaders of our church have reached a point where we can say, "No more."

Read the letter from the Bishop of Bethleham (Pennsylvania), read the letter from the President of the House of Deputies, read Bp Lee's letter.

The Episcopal Church is a great church with a great tradition. We have a set polity. We have come to decisions made in accordance with our church's organizational policies. We ordain women and we have decided in General convention that gender is not and cannot be used to bar a candidate from the three orders of ordained ministry. We do not bar gays and lesbians from God's table and we welcome all people.

And we have finally seen our leadership say "Enough." Enough to the schismatics and the people who libel our church and call us godforsaken pagans and who cavort with foreign clerics who have no place of authority in this land. Enough. Enough with the threats to steal property from our dioceses and to appeal to committees and archbishops who have no jurisdiction in the Episcopal Church in these United States. And enough with the rampant anti-Americanism behind it all (not the kind that reacts to the war in Iraq, but the subtle and snide English version of anti-Americanism that never seems to go away.)

Change is at hand. The wind is starting to blow in a new direction. God works wonders in the church. All people will one day be accepted at the table in every Anglican church. One day people will in shame hide the fact that their ancestors tried to split this communion to bar gays and lesbians. One day all of this will be over. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Posted by: Dennis on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 7:49am GMT

All parishes are held in trust by the national church for each and every Episcopalian in this country. Those who worship in a parish have no more claim to the property than does each and every Episcopalian, individually and colectively, in this church through our General Convention.

If they can take this property and these buildings out of the church because they were geographically placed to worship in them then they are doing real harm to the interests of every other Episcopalian and every future Episcopalian who would lose access to and benefit from these properties - properties that we all have an equal claim to benefit from.

The Episcopal Church has title to every parish and building because it holds them in trust for every Episcopalian and for the mission and purposes and future plans of this church. The schismatics can no more alienate this property from those who remain behind than they have right to take pews, Prayer Books and chalices from all the other parishes throughout the land.

Posted by: Dennis on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 7:56am GMT

Glad so many on TA like the "enough is enough" approach............please don't complain when the AC says the same to TEC

Posted by: NP on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 8:41am GMT

H. E. Baber wrote: “The Episcopal Church has plenty of land and buildings, including its headquarters on prime Manhattan real estate, and might do better with less.”

It might, but that doesn’t make theft any more acceptable. Especially when accompanied by grotesque lies, projections and slander...

Logic!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 10:12am GMT

I think the Bishop and his team's decision is courageous and they are making the best choices possible in the circumstances beyond their control.

H.E. Baber has no idea what it is like to be left without a parish. No, it is not acceptable to take the buildings with break aways. If that was the case, I would have participated in the formation of a liberal element within the Sydney diocese. Instead I chose the wastelands. Let them keep their ivory towers and buildings. It is not appropriate to tear apart the church by "rogue elements".

If someone wishes to break with the majority opinion, they need to make their own Exodus. That is what Moses did with the 20% of Jews who chose to trust that God had annointed him for this task; and that the signs they were witnessing related to Moses and not some other fame seeker.

God will provide as and when required.

God has never cared about the value or quantity of material wealth. God cares about the heart of the soul. Better to come to God with simply the clothes on one's back than have deferred coming until one was "worthy" or "rich" enough; the latter is prostituting oneself to the idolatry of personal achievement and/or materialism.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 10:54am GMT

"I think what he means is get control of buildings and maybe take away clergy pension rights."

The property is held in trust - see citations in the communication.

As for the pensions. Bishop Lee is taking nothing away.

When you leave the employ of any entity, you forego your salary and benefits. Those who have left will take with them the pension benefits which accrued up to the time they resigned. The Church Pension Fund is quite a generous one. They simply cannot continue to accrue benefits after leaving.

Presumably those joining CANA will have the health and pension benefits of the Province of Nigeria.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 11:33am GMT

"Yes the canons entitle the diocese to get that church property, but so what? Is it really cost-effective to fight this out to keep the buildings and property? Maybe from the point of view of the institution and the hierarchy, but not from the perspective of ordinary church members. There's no shortage of church buildings or space in church buildings. Most Episcopalians drive to church and lots drive past 2 or 3 Episcopal churches to go to the one that suits them--not a big deal."

These are historic Churches and churches which are historically Episcopalian. I don't think anyone in the CofE would permit a group to join a parish, introduce worship styles which are largely foreign to Anglicanism and, after a few years of plotting and driving out the long term members, vote to leave and take their lovely 16th C. chapel with them. The idea is absurd.

Posted by: ruidh on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 12:57pm GMT

"All people will one day be accepted at the table in every Anglican church." in the post by Dennis is presumably a typo. Surely the Liberal position is "All people (except fundamentalists) will one day be accepted at the table in every Anglican church."

Posted by: Charles on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 1:52pm GMT

So, let's see: Consevos claim to be embattled by "liberal" bishops. Bishop Lee presents a case that, if true, would put the lie to that argument, at least in his diocese. Given the behaviour of the right in the last few years, I find it difficult to remain impartial in my assessment of this, but I still strive to. Consevos see church buildings as owned by them as opposed to being held in trust by the Church, acting on behalf of the God to Whom they were given. If by their actions they force the Church to argue, regrettably in secular court, counter to this, then it is the Church that is greedy and "depriving" them of "their" property and disobeying the Biblical injunction not to take each other to court. If H. E. Baber is any indication, faith is some sort of consumer product and the "end users" have the right to buy it or go elsewhere, and take "their" building with them. If these attitudes are representative of Consevo beliefs, then we certainly do have a different style of Churchmanship. The more I take part in discussions here, the more I feel we DO indeed have two different religions in one Church, and I have no desire to be a fundamentalist congregationalist who sees religion through the eyes of modern consumerism and can't acknowledge its attachment to the world while accusing everyone else of being worldly.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 2:05pm GMT

Well the ConsEvs story from Falls Church and Truro is supposed to be that the split/property issues were all being worked out at prior meetings, then Bishop Lee pulled a fast one and suddenly became a pagan ogre, hungry for buildings and money.

If Truro and Falls Church are so wealthy in spirit and riches, why don't they just buy the property from the Diocese/National church at a fair market price - easy to arrive at via common real estate practices these days - and leave, like the Kansas City parish did?

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 3:41pm GMT

"I notice the use of the term "faithful Episcopalians.... around the world". This seems to reflect the comments that Simon recently reported from TEC bloggers... Many faithful Episcopalians seem to be deciding that the price for remaining part of the Anglican Communion is too high."

Dave, don;t overestimate the influence of a few bloggers. The sentiment in TEC as a whole is still to try to remain a full member of the Communion.

Posted by: ruidh on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 3:43pm GMT

"Many faithful Episcopalians seem to be deciding that the price for remaining part of the Anglican Communion is too high." Dave

My Dear Brother Dave,

Do you mean our ongoing decision and vast majority resolution that LGBT Christians and Heterosexual Women may be ordained to Holy Orders at TEC and the "loving thy neighbor as thyself" enlightenment process is the PRICE that is too high to pay?

Don't be silly.

Loving and embracing everyone, encouraging justice for the marginalized/shunned (especially in outposts of intollerance, ignorance, fear/hate and prejudice such as Nigeria/Uganda and Ft. Worth, Texas) is a small price to pay to honor and worship God while respecting his Commandment.

Gods TRUTH is priceless.

Taking a high "religious" road isn't always easy when it is so comfy and sorta-securefeeling to remain a victim of ones own arrogant, yet feardriven, self-righteousness. Of course the greed factor/diocese border crossing is alarming when viewed in the context of a feaux FAITH that hates and excludes other Christians while grabbing Church property in the name of God! Meanwhile a few puritan extremists are mislabeling The Anglican cluster of Provinces as a LOVING, just and inclusive/supportive world-wide Communion at the Body of Christ is simply living in denial of REALITY...the worst kind of a murderous and twisted self-lie that harms others in our worldwide fellowship and in my opinion is a grave sin...turning a blind eye to immoral, dangerous and criminal behavior/conduct of other "Anglicans" is not a choice we can make at TEC for any price.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 3:44pm GMT

I'm arguing on pure consequentialist grounds, bracketing any question of rights--legal or otherwise. And I'm not talking about church polity, whether TEC by it's fundamental principles has to reject congregationalism. This is a consequentialist argument.

I didn't claim that Christianity was a consumer product but that church buildings and their furnishings were. People certainly have aesthetic interests and sentimental attachments to church furnishings but that, as liberals have so often reminded us, isn't religion. As we've been told ad nauseum: "the Church isn't buildings--it's people." Those people can do church wherever they please, wherever 2 or three are gathered together, whether in the church parking lot or, more realistically, by simply joining another Episcopal church that's more to their liking. They don't lose vestries, priests or church--they lose the pleasure of attending the kind of services they like with like-minded people in the building to which they have a sentimental attachment or in which they have an aesthetic interest.

Leaving aside the power plays of the big guys, and recondite matters of canonical rights or polity, the gut level issue are: (1) these conservatives are bad guys with wrong-headed views and bad attitudes--they shouldn't get those nice buildings and inconvenience the good guys and (2) the Church should do everything in its power, spend any amount of money, fight any battle regardless of casualties, to repudiate conservative views on sexuality and see to it that bad guys who hold these views don't wind up ahead. Let's be honest about it at least.

You're not going to believe me but I don't share conservatives views on homosexuality or much of anything else. I just don't see that this kind of program is worth it. It isn't going to persuade any one to change their opinions about homosexuality or show the general public that the Episcopal church is really modern and enlightened, not like all those Neanderthal fundamentalists any more than bombing Iraq back to the stone age is going to spread freedom and democracy. It's just wasteful.

Posted by: H. E. Baber on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 5:37pm GMT

"Surely the Liberal position is "All people (except fundamentalists) will one day be accepted at the table in every Anglican church."

So far the only people who have refused table fellowship have been the conservatives - those who won't meet with, much less share Eucharist with, the HOB, the previous Presiding Bishop, those who have announced that they 'cannot recognize' the current PB. And in many parishes like mine, a very mixed congregation of both quite liberal and quite conservative people manages to worship together. Are there tensions? Yes. Have a few people left? Yes - but they did that themselves. Nobody pushed them out the door.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 5:45pm GMT

I'm not sure Bishop Peter had any real option. He exercises authority as a bishop of TEC, not as a private individual, and therefore has to defend the legitimate interests of the diocese. Not to do so would quite possibly leave him wide open to legal action for failing to act as a responsible trustee of diocesan assets.

Going on from that, if 'entryism' (which is alleged in the case of The Falls and Truro) were to become a sure-fire way of getting hands on Church property at low cost, the mayhem which could result is better imagined than described. You know, the True Light DeLorean Church of North and South Carolina and latter-day saints of DeGaulle, finding its present buildings dilapidated, decamp in ones and twos to the local Episcopal shack until five years down the line sufficient weight belongs to the new folk that a vote is taken to jump ship and take the buildings and assets.

Had the diocesan bishop not taken the path which he has taken, I think he would have been in dereliction of his duty.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 6:00pm GMT

"There's no shortage of church buildings or space in church buildings. Most Episcopalians drive to church and lots drive past 2 or 3 Episcopal churches to go to the one that suits them--not a big deal."

This could possibly be so "back East" but here in the hinterlands the nearest next Episcopal church is 40 miles away. Not a pleasant drive in mid-winter.

Posted by: MReap on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 6:55pm GMT

Bishop Lee deserves all the praise we can give him. He has patiently endured abuse from those who wish harm to our Church. Now he is acting in a very measured, thoughtful manner to protect our Church. What a magnificent Chrisitian leader he is. I wish my Bishop were of that caliber.

All truly are welcome in the Episcopal Church, conservatives, liberals, and moderates. If they choose to leave, they just can't take the Episcopal Church's property with them.

Posted by: Dallas Bob on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 7:15pm GMT

"Surely the Liberal position is "All people (except fundamentalists) will one day be accepted at the table in every Anglican church."

No, Charles, that's your PROJECTION.

"Fundamentalists" (your term) are not only still completely WELCOME at Episcopal altars, they can even ***preside at them*** (as priest or bishop) AS LONG AS they *don't discriminate against any other Episcopalian* and they *don't try to take their parish/diocese out of TEC*.

*****

"Enough to the schismatics and the people who libel our church and call us godforsaken pagans"

Exactly, Dennis.

Look, I respect those Anglicans who want to (by way of an Anglican covenant) ***ADD to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral***, and say "It's not enough to believe the above 4 articles. One must ALSO believe that 'homosexual practice is contrary to the order of this Church, and makes one inadmissible...'" for orders, or Table fellowship, or what not.

But DO NOT say that LGBT-affirming Episcopalians (and other LGBT-affirming Anglicans) have violated the Quad AS IS (that we are "heretics" or "apostates" or "following-another-gospel" pagans, etc. etc.) JUST BECAUSE we have been able to---in full good conscience---been able to affirm LGBTs AND maintain historic Anglican faith!

MAKING FALSE WITNESS AGAINST US IS an indisputable ***SIN***: why won't more reasserters remember this???

God bless Bishop Lee . . . and God bless the Episcopal Church---the heart and soul of Anglicanism! :-D

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 8:42pm GMT

Charles postulated "All people (except fundamentalists) will one day be accepted at the table in every Anglican church."

All people, including fundamentalists have always been welcome in broad tent Anglicanism. The current issue is that fundamentalists have decided to exclude certain elements, which is completely contrary to the tradition of Anglicanism.

I've also spent some more time thinking about the taking of property when moving on. I woke this morning thinking about Moses, Jacob and Rachel.

Jacob is interesting in that, with his mother's blessing, he fled to save his life, leaving with only what he could carry with him. Moses is interesting because when he and the 20% of Jews went into exile, they did take things with them. But the things they took had been given to them by their egyptian owners in order for them to worship their God. Rachel chose to leave and hid her father's idols without either Jacob or her fathers' consent. She died for this transgression.

Moral of this story. It is okay to go into Exodus, but only take that which has been given with consent and trust that whatever you have is sufficient.

This interesting Algemeiner article came up overnight: http://www.algemeiner.com/generic.asp?ID=52 It reminded me of Jim Naughton's comment about enabling codependency. This part seems appropriate to many of us in this debate too:

"Here we are given a glimpse into the genesis of the process of redemption, whether it is physical, mental, psychological or spiritual. Unfortunately, many human beings, after being subjected to dysfunctional conditions for a time, learn to somehow tolerate it and accept it as the innate composition of their life. This can be worse than the condition itself, since it guarantees surrender and paralysis. The beginning of the Egyptian redemption could only occur when the Hebrews refused to tolerate their slavery and exile. If you can still tolerate your present state of exile, if you can come to terms with your enslaved mode, your journey of redemption cannot commence."

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 8:49pm GMT

"All people (except fundamentalists) will one day be accepted at the table in every Anglican church."


Oh no, Charles, difficult though it may be, even fundamentalists are welcome at the table. My sinful nature would see it otherwise, but that's not God's way. The problem is, they no sooner sit down then they start claiming the rest of us should leave since they are the only ones who know how to eat. And besides, we're wrong to think it's really food, since it is only a memorial of food!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 9:24pm GMT

Is it just my Anglo-American sense of whimsy, or does not the "Rev Martin Mims" have the sound of a name out of Wodehouse? Wouldn't he be Bertie's 5th cousin 8 times removed? Which would make some of the African Bishops the aunties in the story.

Sigh. I would love us to be able to remain in the Anglican Communion, but if it is not to be ...

At least TEC knows that it has bent over backwards to try and comply to opinions that have no proper authority over it -- and all for the bonds of a very real affection.

Will they miss our cash enough to see reason?


Posted by: Kay Wisniewski on Friday, 19 January 2007 at 9:57pm GMT

What I take from the latest Lee/Minns exchange is that the fundamentalist schismatics are starting to run scared. It's one thing to fight over territory, but how DARE the Bishop mess with their pensions and health care!

Hey, when you quit, you quit.

Bishop Lee accepts their resignations, sees their hostility, hears their threats, so now he's sending guards to escort them from the building.

They can always worship in the White House with the remaining neocon warmongers.

This isn't about theology, gender or sexuality, any more than Iraq is about democracy. This is about hegemony. Armchair generals send armies to the Middle East while Minns drills a few regiments in Northern Virginia.

But finally, at long last, the effete scholars of TEC are girding up their loins. That's the one thing Minns most fears, because he's outnumbered. He hopes for reinforcements from Nigeria, but they can't afford to come.

It would have been nice if Rowan Williams had stopped playing Neville Chamberlain, but Canterbury's irrelevant now. The battle will take place on American soil and the Americans will defend themselves.

Hell hath no fury like a f*ggot scorned...

Posted by: Josh Thomas on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 2:17am GMT

the "Rev Martin Mims"

Well, his name is Martyn Minns. He is by birth English, and a naturalized American citizen. Having experienced his presence over the last many years in the Diocese of Virginia, I would say he is as far from a Wodehouse character as I can readily imagine.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 4:24am GMT

The interesting fact here is that the diocese has only become involved in the legal process as interveners to an action undertaken by CANA affiliates attempting to seize possession of buildings and assets belonging to TEC.

Charity law here in the UK would compel a Trust to act to prevent such a seizure by any of its (former) supporters, or find them selves liable for the loss.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 8:11am GMT

I love the way the term "Faithful / Loyal Anglican / Episcopalian" has finally shifted, courtesy of Bp Lee. Semantics (and semiotics, to a point) have been an important part of the game here so far - just like other conflicts America has gotten wound up in of late. It now seems that those who are faithful or loyal now SUPPORT TEC - and the ones who previously claimed the "faithful/loyal" badge as a critical device are now using the term in the new way.

Is this spin, or is it really SPIN?

Has anyone else spotted the irony, or at least the sheer perversity of semantic slippage, operating here?

I would have said the game is now up...

Posted by: kieran crichton on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 8:58am GMT

H.E. Baber. Thanks for clarifying your thinking.

I empathise with your concern about being distracted about whether or not to fight for the buildings.

In Sydney the conservatives have control over the diocese, any liberal development will have to form as an alternative outside of the existing structure. Similarly, in liberal dioceses the converse is true.

The extreme dioceses are the tragedy as the communion in these dioceses is diminished by the broad tent Anglicanism being shrunk. In both cases it is the fundamentalists war mongering and poverty complacent theologians who shrink the communion. Where they are in domination, by choking the life out of the liberal element, and where they are in the minority by conducting raiding parties to see how much they can shave off the liberal dioceses.

I found myself totally bemused today. I spent over ten years frustrated that every time I raised the question of poverty on the African continent, I was consistently told by Anglicans that I was worrying unnecessarily and it was all part of God's grand plan. I find it incredibly ironic that a diocese that so consistently promotes complacency would now paint the image of being at the vanguard of helping the African peoples.

I also found myself contemplating the claims of the earliest and purest forms of Christianity and just "being there" for Jesus. I found myself contemplating how much of the etiquette and protocols surrounding eunuchs had continued prior to anti-discrimination and equal opportunity legislation last century. If we go and research our laws and histories of the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th centuries - how were we handling those with deformed genitalia? And if we have acted as if they didn't exist, then we are further behind than they were at Jesus' time. No wonder there was a need for reforms that began in the last century and continue into this one.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 10:26am GMT

Out of curiosity, I decided to look at the canons of the Church of Nigeria (since CANA falls under these), and found the following interesting bits. In regards to +Minns request for support, Canon XVI has the following:

"3. ADMISSION OF FOREIGN CLERGY MAN
No person ordained by a foreign Bishop, or by a Bishop not in communion with this Church shall be permitted to officiate as a Minister of this church until he shall have complied with the Canon or Canons in that case provided and also shall have subscribed the aforesaid declaration."

The declarations make it clear that the priest would then be part of the Church of Nigeria, not the TEC.

Regarding property, Canon XIX has the following:

"7. No member shall be entitled to a share of church property or funds, or to the continued ownership, possession or use of church buildings or facilities upon ceasing to be a member of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).

"8. For the avoidance of doubt, title to all movable and immovable property of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) shall remain vested in the relevant registered body of trustees of the Church, notwithstanding the cessation of the membership of any person."

This makes an interesting application of "Do unto others..." It also makes me wonder how many members of CANA have read the Church of Nigeria's Canons and Constitution.

Posted by: Guy Butler on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 1:15pm GMT

I thought Bishop Lee's letter was sad but necessary. There has, obviously, been a long history of accomodation. A lot of muck has been thrown at TEC and I think that its leaders and bishops have behaved with admirable restraint. A lot of bile and opprobrium has been passed off as 'faithfulness to an historic Gospel' by really quite angry and difficult individuals. Duly elected Bishops have been subjected to scorn. One just needs to look at the comments on CaNN or Anglican Mainstream or even Titus 1:9 to get the gist of what's lurking there in the background and what's to come. People have been very patient. The Presiding Bishop has had to endure the sort of intimidation from the right wing bloggers and pundits - gangsterism really - that fine tuned its approach during the end of the Clinton years in the U.S. It's really the same group of Hillary haters who have just set their sights on a different woman and a different 'liberal'.

Posted by: Raspberry Rabbit on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 1:58pm GMT

As for "fundamentalists" and consevs being shut out of the church, the only people that I can recall publicly declaring that they could not share an altar with another group of people were the bishops who shunned communion with +Griswold and other Episcopal Church leaders at Dromantine. Also, there are the African Primates starting with the Primate of Tanzania saying that they can't possibly sit at table with the Primate of the Episcopal Church; afraid of the girl cooties I presume (yes, it really is that silly).

Bishop Lee is doing his duty as a bishop and a custodian of the property of the Diocese of Virginia. He cannot possibly do otherwise and remain legally responsible instead of legally liable.
If I was in a position similar to the one the congregants of the breakaway parishes in Virginia see themselves in, then I would happily forget the property and look forward to a period of exile in house meetings and storefront churches, and the prospect of starting anew. If I were them, I should be happy to shake the dust and the property of the godless Baal-worshipping liberal Episcopal Church off my feet. Let the sodomites and the heretics dance around the Golden Calf! We'll follow Moses and Aaron into the desert if we must!. Their unwillingness to part with the property, and to truly start over, makes me doubt the gravity and sincerity of their whole enterprise.

And in the end, it won't matter because the banks and the lawyers will get that property anyway. The narthex would make a great waiting room, and an altar makes a great desk; just put the computer on the credence table.

Posted by: counterlight on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 2:39pm GMT

The po-faced statement of the "Anglican District of Virginia leaders" is a wonderful, hilarious manifestation of the inability of these folk to identify the beam in their own eye. Earlier in the month, David Rowett commented on this page that "I once knew someone who had perfected the art of flouncing out all offended-like when they wanted to go anyway...." This press-release is a perfect exemplar of that mind-set.

On a different tack I am interested by the Virginia Secessionist statement that the Anglican tradition "includes welcoming all baptized Christians to the Lord's Table or Eucharist" and would like to hear the reaction of others to the statement.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 2:45pm GMT

Well, Kieran, I suspect someone finally got hacked off with being caricatured as faithless and disloyal and sought to remind his diocese that - just perhaps - TEC is a legitimate expression of Anglicanism without selling out to a mixture of Calvinism and political opportunism.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 2:50pm GMT

Regarding CANA's claim that they have been denied COBRA continuance of health insurance, please cut and paste in the following for information from the Virginia consumer's guide on health insurance:

http://www.healthinsuranceinfo.net/va.pdf
See pages 14 and 15

The access to self-paid continuance of health care benefits falls on the insured, not the employer. The employer is merely required to notify the health plan within 30 days of the voluntary or involuntary termination of employment that such termination has occured. The U.S. Dept of Labor answers COBRA questions.

So, I now need, for clarity, a varifiable disclosure of how Bp. Lee "denied senior priests access to COBRA extensions". COBRA is a United States federal program, so, unless there is some way the senior priests do not qualify by U.S. law, I don't see how this can be, since the initiative, apart from the notification that a termination has occured, is entirely on the part of the insured. Someone, and I ask it be someone not involved in CANA or the Diocese of Virginia, so we have impartiality of response, please help clarify this charge against Bp. Lee and the Diocese of Virginia.
Lois Keen

Posted by: revLois Keen on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 2:56pm GMT

One puzzle--and this is a puzzle, not a rhetorical question--is why TEC amongst all mainline denominations in the US has gotten into this mess. All mainline Protestant churches are dealing with the same sexuality issues. Other denominations that are demographically similar to TEC, and also have pretty much the same mix of liberals and conservatives, have had some localized minor skirmishes at most, but nothing like this level of rancor or overwhelming preoccupation.

It looks different from the UK where Anglicans are nominally a much larger percentage of the population. But in the US, TEC represents only about 1% of the population and, contrary to popular belief, the other 99% aren't all fundamentalists. I'd guess that about 30% of the US population are nominally affiliated with mainline Protestant denominations that are very similarly situated to TEC but aren't now undergoing meltdown.

So maybe the question to ask is what's the difference? Is there some specifically Anglican commitment that pressed TEC into this position or is it an historical accident? If the latter, is it too late to wind things down, looking at the way in which the same issue is playing out in comparable more or less liberal denominations (I suspect it is, unfortunately)? Anyway, just curious. I'm also curious to compare how similar issues have played out in other Anglican churches in the global north where again, as far as I can see, you don't have this level of agony. What is it that made TEC, so it seems to me, the vortex of this maelstrom?

Posted by: H. E. Baber on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 6:25pm GMT

Harriet wondered why it was TEC which had found itself in this particular pickle, whereas other non-fundamentalist US churches have not.

I wonder whether folk like the Evangelical Lutherans and the rest don't have a heavy footprint in the Global South? If their population and power base is still in Global North, then there are fewer potential allies 'out there' for extreme conservatives.

You could argue the whirlwind of the British Empire is now being reaped!!

Now back to writing tomorrow Family Worship liturgy.....

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 6:48pm GMT

Rev. Lois Keen:

I know that TEC's pension plan is NOT subject to ERISA (because church plans are exempt from ERISA regulation), and I confidently assume that the Diocesan medical plan is likewise not subject to the COBRA statute--that is, if it wants to be snarky, the Diocese can deny a temporary "continuation of benefits" to a departing priest who needs health coverage for a couple months until he can get his affairs in order.

I say "snarky," because, as you point out, the departing priest would bear the entire cost of the insurance. It's no skin off the diocesan nose that he retains the coverage. But if they want to punish him and his family by withholding something that costs the Diocese nothing, and if they figure that's what Jesus would have them do, then it's a cheap and easy way to be nasty.

Posted by: DGus on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 6:49pm GMT

Already much of the historically given legacy negatives in sexuality - to which so many ancients pledged good allegiance, very sincerely, via tradition and via scripture or via inferences from tradition and scripture - have almost completely fallen into dis-use. Oral sex causes hurricanes or stillborn cattle, for just one clear example? We could indeed list many other legacy items that nobody mentions much these days.

Why?

Because it is flat earth stuff, pure and simple.

The New Testament itself has powerfully helped bring about this dramatic revision at large in western culture, simply by letting everybody who can read, read in the pauline letters that in Christ we have no male or female.

If saying just that sort of thing as revelation understood to be from God doesn't contextualize and historicize and relativize gender (and lots else in nature and sexuality), I'm not sure what feminism or empirical science could add that God hasn't already hinted to us. Then, think how Jesus as Risen Lord advises us that there are many truths which we cannot yet bear in the apostolic era.

(With the huge number of Gentiles who are waiting in the wings of the early cultural church being one of them? And the mass abandonment of that key covenant sign/pledge, circumcision, yet another?)

And we as faithful believers of Anglican heritage are commanded to demonstrate complete surprise and ConsEvs horror, as these details get filled out, different from what the ancients believed?

(Of course we still kept slaves, while reading that in Christ we had no slaves or freed men. Dear slaves, Wait till heaven, then. God loves you, and your masters/owners love you just like God does, and being subservient is your blessedness and your earthly duty.)

Domination and privilege is just how God arranged things for exclusively straight believers? The Bible tells me so?

So far as property and COBRA coverage goes, this must surely mean that ConsEvs straight people are first in line for everything.

We should be glad to purchase benefits and buildings for exactly the people who have little else to actually tell us these days, except that we are entirely horrible and faithless people? Except to loudly call us, fake Anglicans? Except to preach on every possible occasion, in every possible meeting, that our efforts to correct our past legacy errors in understanding human sexuality is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong?

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 7:14pm GMT

Lois - The very same claim caught my eye. COBRA is a federal entitlement program -Bishop Lee can't deny it to anyone who qualifies. And either you qualify or you don't. I couldn't tell if there was an emphasis on "extentions" somehow. But nevertheless it sounds like a trumped up charge meant to confuse rather than clarify what is REALLY being asked for by the exclergy.

Posted by: C.B. on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 7:20pm GMT

"One puzzle--and this is a puzzle, not a rhetorical question--is why TEC amongst all mainline denominations in the US has gotten into this mess."

Since you asked, H.E.: only in TEC, "amongst all mainline denominations in the US", have a majority of the *heterosexuals* taken seriously to heart Our Lord's "what you do for the least of these, you do for me."

Mess? Or martyrdom? (i.e., WITNESS)

God bless the Episcopal Church! :-D

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 7:43pm GMT

>>>What is it that made TEC, so it seems to me, the vortex of this maelstrom?

Careful coordination and lots and lots of money:

http://edow.org/follow/index.html

The link is to a report by the Diocese of Washington detailing who is funding the "reasserters." Their sugardaddies are, in most cases, the very same people who funded the Get Clinton Industry of the late 90s, and they have designs on all the mainstream churches, not just ours.

Posted by: JPM on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 7:50pm GMT

A slight, slight correction to Bishop Minns and company, maybe.

The Anglican District of Virginia is most technically titled, for now, as the Nigerian Anglican District of Virginia. CANA is real so far as it goes, inside Nigeria and inside the Nigerian churches of Virginia. Outside, who knows? The rest of us Anglicans are still figuring out this fast move, made so publicly.

(Yeah I know it took one or two decades of ConsEvs newbies moving into the Virginia parishes to tilt them, but if womens' ordination and queer bishops happened way too fast, this one was a quickie, too.)

Canterbury has not yet even recognized CANA, though Nigeria does. The Anglican District of Virginia is not real. Not. Yet.

Until a new Anglican covenant and other institutional innovations are completed and received, worldwide, there is no hard legal institutional Anglican entity that effectively exists, called the Anglican Communion. Wishing this shift were already done, and talking in public and in writing as if this shift were already done, does not actually make it real and done.

By some indicators, at least, the ConsEvs shift to the Anglican right, uniformly, has barely begun. No matter what happens to TEC it will still barely have begun. Nobody yet knows the future realigned ConsEvs fate of Canada, Scotland, Europe, New Zealand, Brazil, South Africa, and others who might not be, nothing but uniform ConsEvs provinces.

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 8:02pm GMT

Dr. Baber --

Off the top of my head, I would suggest that a variety of factors is involved, but I think that one of the major things that makes such a big difference between TEC & other mainline denominations (which are going through much the same thing, but don't get as much attention since their clergy don't dress so colorfully) is the actions of the primates of the WWAC. It seems to me that there is really no equivalent for the other mainline denominations.

As to why TEC rather than the C of E (which has been blessing same sex unions since the 1970s) or Scotland, etc., I suspect that the openness in TEC is a major factor -- in the C of E "discretion" (if you approve) or "hypocrisy" (if you don't) has always been the watchword.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 8:05pm GMT

as far as I can see, you don't have this level of agony. What is it that made TEC, so it seems to me, the vortex of this maelstrom?


We in the Uk have a highlt-developed, nuanced and shamelss capacity for hypocricy and two-facedness; and the House of Bishops of the C of E, being political appointees, have this honed to a fine art.

The C of E regularly says one thing to gay individuals, priests, clerical and lay couples,in private; and another in public to conservatives and evangelicals. Though in the HoB report they try to have their cake and eat it. So on the one scripture, blah, purity, blad, monogamy, blah ;and on the other no homophobia blah, support faithful homophile couples blah blah. Even Lambeth 1.10 does this speaking out of the left and the right sides of the mouth.

This comes easy to us in England as we regularly say one thing to RCs, another to Methodists; one thing to Eastern Orthordox another to the Lutherans or URCs. And so you get reports, Concordats, Inter-Communion based on mutually exclusive things the C of E has said to each. She's great at pulling--and will say anything to get us into bed ! It's havoc when all the suitors converge at the budoir at once !

But then Newman 'got' the 39 Articles to 'say' three cheers for the Mass (whereas Cranmer thought he'd achieved 'No Masses' for ever !).

This kind of double think and flexibility has made the CofE possible, but the present bruhha may bring this compormise down in ruins on all our heads..... I foresee the law of unintended consequences back-firing on the intolerant who want clarity on queers --- they may find they have started something neither they - nor anyone can control.

Posted by: laurence on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 8:08pm GMT

Howdy HEB, part of the puzzle pieces must involve how USA rightwing funders and organizers intentionally chose to especially target TEC. The USA rightwing helped fund IRD and other pressure points, across several years.

Also. One cannot avoid noticing the personality and temperaments of prominent rightwing TEC leaders, so should we especially look at power needs since so much of the inside TEC realignment leaders are so much taken with heterosexual domination and traditional heterosexuals-only privileges?

When, say, Canon David Anderson has sex with his wife, the angels sing and rejoice because nothing but highly godly stuff can possibly be going on - while otherwise in TEC two men or two women in a forty-year lifelong relationship of mutual care, giving, and commitment can only make God sick to God's stomach, and believe me, those angels are not singing about these other folks' orgasms.

If we look at Canon Anderson's family, well we see they are raising a kid, so God is surely at work in their parenting. If that other couple also happens to be raising a kid, too, how tragic, how creepy, and Satan must be at work slurping up those folks' souls. Poor kid.

People with leadership gifts are always attracted to power, right or left, but not all leaders are all that attracted to heterosexuals-only legacies of using power over/against others?

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 8:32pm GMT

Howdy again HEB.

Presbyterians have been more quietly realigned in many quarters, dramatically to the right in a Chalcedon Institute or Famly Forum sort of direction. Maybe the overall institutional picture doesn't matter quite so much, maybe, because the USA Presbyterians are historically SES middle-management folks, not top level CEOs, directors, or owners.

Speculation about the targeting of TEC might include: (1) the USA right needed a further test case church for new ways of target practice campaigning, (2)TEC has historically had social influence greater than its numbers as such, so what a plum target church, and (3)TEC has money as well, exceeding its sheer numbers, so again a plum church target, (4)TEC helps fund a big part of the worldwide communion, so if you shift TEC to the right or replace TEC with a new Anglican rightwing church that ends up owning all its assets, you have shifted a great deal of money to rightwing uses all around the church world, (5) TEC has just enough institutional hierarchy left in mix with its local diocesan and parish communality to make procedural top-down leverage for a split campaign doable, especially if other non-TEC Anglicans who are clearly more top-down hierarchical can be enlisted as pressure points. Top down stuff must be strongly disguised as a revolt of the common highly conservative believer, against transgressively liberal priests or bishops or archbishops. Baptismal democracy or checks/balances are out.

Getting any clues yet?

We probably have to keep investigating.

If the USA Southern Baptists - a numberically much larger USA church - could be successfully realigned along rightwing parameters, and indeed they have been, not that long ago, why not TEC?

If you wish an example of a church that got sort of lefty realigned over the years, then the UCC would serve.

Apparently, not all possible types of ConsEvs believers are so creeped out about queer people that they will immediately panic and stampede over the nearest realignment cliffs, because they really believe Satan is smoking fake Cuban-wannabe progressive cigars in their own living rooms.

Isn't this sort of like wondering what the real real reasons were that President Bush invaded Iraq? No matter why, the other thing is, we have to figure four to six really good and helpful ways of dealing with the invasion, and with where it is trying to go with our property and our pension funds.

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 8:49pm GMT

Check the sources of agitation and funding at the Dio of WA website - http://www.edow.org/follow/.

Posted by: pseudopiskie on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 8:53pm GMT

Two concerns for the Civil and Canon Law buffs: 1. The timing of +Lee's decision and 2. the authenticity of the Anglican District of Virginia/CANA and canonical transfers to it.

Leaving the theological issues aside, I am raising the question of the timing of +Lee's decision not to continue talks but to move to civil action. +Duncan has maintained that TEC's position as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion will come under serious scrutiny either in Tanzania or Lambeth 2008. If TEC looses its "constituent" status, it will be in violation of its constitution and, therefore, lose its legal status as the sole representative of the Communion on American soil. In that event, only those churches in said communion (read Network dioceses) will be the True Episcopalians. This may nor may not be accurate, but, at this time, there is no possible way of contending that TEC does not NOW have such status and any claim based on a pretext that it doesn’t is not going to be even winked at by a civil court. Therefore, it seems in the best interest of the Virginia congregations (and any others hoping to depart with their property let alone pension and insurance benefits), to stall as long as possible, at least until after the primates meet and the proposed 20 provinces “expel” TEC. By contrast, if the Diocese of Virginia (and also TEC if it wishes to join in litigation) sue, it should seemingly move as quickly as possible to commence litigation? (?)

Second, David Anderson, as reported by The Episcopal News Service, has “transferred his canonical residence” to CANA. I assume he received letters dimmosory from the Diocese of Quincy, where many who have called categorized “conservatives” or called themselves “orthodox” have canonical if not physical residence. (Cf. Diocese of Springfield for a clergy listing). The Church of Nigeria, by its choice is not in communion with TEC, nor, as +Lee states, the Anglican District of Virginia in communion with TEC (+Minns suggests it is through CANA) Is it then possible for +Beckwith of Springfield, to issue such a letter? It appears that Anderson+ has only been canonically resident in Springfield since 2/16/06 although his physical residence and position as head of the American Anglican Council has not changed? Does +Anderson maintain any future pension rights etc. because he moved through the Diocese of Quincy, if only briefly, to his new “canonical” residence? Has anyone asked why Anderson+ (and others for that matter) ended up canonically resident in Springfield?

Posted by: EPfizH on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 8:59pm GMT

I do like Professor Baber, she makes me think!

I spent an hour mulling over her question – and wrote a little – but heck – what does a Welsh boy really know about you Americans! (I am always laughing when I see others characterising us queers!)

It is hard for those outside America to really understand the deep split personality that seems to inhabit its core. So those who place their hands on their hearts and sing “Land of the Free” with tears in their eyes are most likely to view the ACLU as a terrorist organisation. We have difficulty working this out, though I am sure there must be a reasonable explanation.

I can say one thing – there are many Provinces where the sort of diversity seen in TEC would not be dreamt of. The way we elect our bishops has the whole church play a part in each election. There would be no chance for a diocese or two developing its own polity.

On a general level – the bitterness and venom that has existed at a deep level within Anglicanism has boiled to the surface. As a young seminarian I was blown away by the passionate hatred many High and Low Church Anglicans felt for the other and how that hatred found common cause against “liberals”.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 9:47pm GMT

Just came across Bill Moyers addressing the National Coalition for Media Reform. It is not that big an inferential leap to see how much of the pressure pot mix he describes for media/democracy also applies to those of us who are the targets of the current rightwing Anglican realignment.

See:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLK-rK3rfW8&mode=related&search=

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaK3tSVu68k&mode=related&search=

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 10:06pm GMT

DGus - If the "Diocesan medical plan is likewise not subject to the COBRA statute" why does CANA refer to them as "denying senior priests access to COBRA health care extensions." Isn't that misleading? Someone is either mistaken, or trying to portray a mountain out of a molehill.

C.B.

Posted by: C.B. on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 10:22pm GMT

The timing of +Lee's initiative reminded me of a request by Pittsburgh's Calvary Church vs Duncan as described by Jim Naughton. http://blog.edow.org/weblog/2007/01/pittsburgh_a_small_but_potenti_1.html

Posted by: pseudopiskie on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 11:11pm GMT

Please excuse. In the above, for "Quincy" read "Springfield"

Posted by: EPfizH on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 11:30pm GMT

RE HE Baber's comment/question:

I suspect, in addition to all the other reasons given above, it is b/c neither the UMC nor the PCUSA (the other two targets of the IRD) belong to international bodies w/ the level of importance to their self-identity that the WWAC ostensibly has to ours.

PCUSA belongs to something called WARC--the World Alliance of Reformed Churches--but it is not dependent on WARC for its "Reformed" bonafides. If PCUSA walked out of WARC tomorrow it would be just as "Reformed" as it was yesterday. And there are indeed PCUSA presbyteries pondering breaking away from PCUSA itself, especially since this past summer's GA which made "local option" on GLBT ordination closer to permissible. But if they did so, they would not be any less Presbyterian or Reformed--they just wouldn't be PCUSA (i.e. 'mainline' Presbyterian) any more. Just as Evangelical Pres and Pres Church in Amer congregations aren't PCUSA, but they're still Presbyterian broadly speaking.

Someone more familiar w/ Methodism will have to speak to that situation specifically, but I'm not aware of any supra-national body which determines if you're really 'Methodist' or not in the same way WWAC determines if you're "Anglican."

Thus Reformed and Methodist folks from around the world have not gotten involved in local PCUSA and UMC disputes to the degree that the Primates of other Provinces have for us. There is no point.

Only TEC claims to be Catholic, and its claim to be such is presently argued as coming through its participation in the Anglican Communion w/ its heritage through +Cantaur. Thus, if one grants a) that we're Catholic, just not Roman; and b) that our Catholicity comes through, and only through our affiliation w/ the WWAC; and c) our Catholicism matters; there is a LOT at stake in our membership status in WWAC.

Those on the progressive side in TEC who are losing patience w/ the WWAC and contemplating going it on our own if necessary obviously do not grant one or more of the above premises.

If TEC finally walks away from or is pushed out of WWAC, then it will be necessary to more carefully articulate what Catholic means and how we still are.

Posted by: Gillian on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 12:01am GMT

COBRA, part 1:

FAQs about COBRA here:
http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq_consumer_cobra.html

I am not a lawyer or insurance professional. But I have been laid off from a church, so I have some personal experience of navigating the health insurance maze in that situation.

Churches don't usually fall under COBRA. The legal wonks here can explain why. Some dioceses negotiate terms w/ their insurers as part of the plan of coverage to allow ex-employees X months of coverage, but it is not b/c they're mandated to. When I was RIF'd "my" diocese allowed you to pay your premiums in a COBRA-like way for 6 months. If they'd been officially under COBRA, it would have been longer. But such terms are not negotiated on a case by case basis. It could be that DioVa does not have such a provision w/ its insurers at all, or that they limit it to folks who leave only under certain circumstances, and that abandoning communion is not one of them. So Truro etc a) most likely aren't entitled to genuine COBRA coverage; and b) if they're complaining about being cut out of a COBRA-look-alike provision, that would most likely be b/c of the way in which they left the Diocese.

Posted by: Gillian on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 12:02am GMT

COBRA, part 2:
What are they the Va CANA folks "losing" by being allegedly cut out of COBRA? Two things:
a) *possibly* cheaper rates b/c DioVA had group rates and they now need to self-insure as individuals/families. However, church group health plans are not particularly cheap, so it is not a *given* that they couldn't do better on their own. Depends on family size, health records, etc.
b) The much bigger one is that if they move off of the group plan and get individual coverage, *and then sometime later move back into group coverage through CANA or some other employer*, they will not have HIPPAA protection re: immediate coverage of pre-existing conditions *for that second coverage change.* They will have it, I believe, for the first shift, from DioVA to an individual plan. But if they then become eligible for another group plan (or come back to DioVA w/ tails between legs :-), and move onto it, that group plan can exclude any pre-existing conditions for 6 months, b/c HIPPAA protections only apply in a employer plan-->employer plan switch, or employer-->individual, but they do NOT apply individual-->employer/group. [To folks outside the draconian US system scratching your heads: here, if you change insurers, the new insurer can exclude coverage for any pre-existing condition for six months. This in effect kept people w/ poor medical records, or w/ ill family members, chained to their existing employer, and SOL if they quit or were fired, b/c to self-insure would have been prohibitively expensive if possible at all. At about the same time COBRA was enacted, so was the part of HIPPAA (Health Care Insurance Portability & Privacy Act) was passed, which said that they could not do so if you were coming from a employer-sponsored health plan and had 6 months of continuous coverage under that plan.]

Thus if any of the departing clergy or their families have less-than-spotless medical records, and eventually find jobs w/ an employer who offers group coverage, they may then have to choose between staying w/ a more expensive self-insured plan, or moving onto their next employer's group plan but being liable for pre-existing conditions for the first 6 months. That is, AFAIK, the sum of the "harm" that they will sustain by being denied "COBRA" or a look-alike program.

Posted by: Gillian on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 12:03am GMT

Cobra 3:
They would be in the exact same situation if they had COBRA but didn't hook on w/ another employer w/ a cheaper group plan b/4 the COBRA benefit expired. So they will have only suffered real harm if CANA organizes a cheap group health plan in less than the number of months that their COBRA look-alike coverage, if they had been granted it by DioVA, would have lasted. IMHO.

Also, IIRC, there is a grace period to move from one plan to another w/o being considered as having a 'break in continuity of coverage.' It's somewhere around 1-2 months. So the Anglican Convocation of CANA in Va just needs to sit down w/ an insurance broker ASAP and convince someone to write them a *group* plan b/4 that grace period runs out. Then they will not have suffered any harm.

If the premiums on that group policy are higher than DioVA's group policy, that's the price they pay for dis-association--if they didn't want to be associated w/ DioVa's 'heresy,' then they don't get to be associated w/ their better actuarial numbers either.

I wonder how many of the DC political power elite who worship at Truro and Falls Church have ever taken a position *in favor* of radical health care reform in this country. Versus supporting the employer-based system we have now. Or how many times it's been mentioned from the pulpit as something that needed change. I'm betting it's few. Interesting that now that their ox is being gored by that employer-based system, their clergy are yowling.

Posted by: Gillian on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 12:45am GMT

As a more traditional Christian who occasionally visits this site, I regret the 'good riddance' tone towards these churches. For those of us who feel TEC has left the historic faith, it looks more like the church we love has been taken from us than us taking the church property.

As for being 'intolerant', a traditional Christian view is loving and accepting of us all, regardless of our human condition. Broken sexuality, of all forms, is not beyond a loving and all powerful Christ to heal. From this view, it is the greatest cruelty to deny the homosexual, adulterer, or any other broken person an understanding that he/she can be healed, once recognizing and repenting of the brokenness. The great tragedy of the liberal view is that it denies this amazing grace to do its work.

Traditional Christians who are in Episcopal diocese don't come to this discussion 'bigoted and hate mongering' as a prior post puts it, and such language is not helpful. A wonder some don't want to 'listen' to the reappraisers when called names like that.

Realize please that some of us are on our knees praying for answers, along with you. Even if we see things differently, let's love each other as Christ loved us, and give space to each other as long as possible.

Posted by: Harvard Man on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 1:05am GMT

"I say "snarky," because, as you point out, the departing priest would bear the entire cost of the insurance. It's no skin off the diocesan nose that he retains the coverage. But if they want to punish him and his family by withholding something that costs the Diocese nothing, and if they figure that's what Jesus would have them do, then it's a cheap and easy way to be nasty."

I find this line highly ironic, DGus, considering that in my state (Michigan) and across the country, conservative Christians are trying to use same-sex marriage bans to "punish us and our families" by denying us employer-offered domestic partner benefits. Not so great when the family losing insurance is yours, is it? :-(

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 1:31am GMT

Ooops, forgot to comment on the news!

"In a letter Tuesday, attorneys for the breakaway churches warned diocese officials that they would be exposed to "substantial legal risk -- including liability for trespass and unlawful entry" -- if they attempted to take possession of the property."

While I'm not a "diocese official" (of VA or anywhere else), nevertheless this is EXACTLY what I would like to challenge, by way of nonviolent action. A group of faithful *Episcopalians* should go up to the churches, ready to not so much "take possession", but occupy (incarnate?) them---for CHRIST (moreover, equipped w/ scrub brushes and solvent to remove this *idiot's* graffitti). As Christ faced the cross, so should Episcopalians face Truro's cops (should it come to that).

God bless the Episcopal Church!

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 1:43am GMT

Re: The Calvary v. Duncan et al. case. For any who have an interest, the Case Number is GD-03-020941 and is filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County Pennsylvania. This has gone on for years, the latest action by Calvary a Petition to enforce the settlement reached by the parties sometime ago. Calvary alleges that, in contradiction to the settlement, Bishop Duncan and the Diocese of Pittsburgh have, or intend to soon move to take property out of TEC. They allege that, based on some comments made by Bishop Schofield of San Joaquin, that Bishop Duncan has signed some sort of document implying allegiance to a foreign prelate in violation of the Canons, fiduciary responsibility etc. The signing referred to was allegedly made during the Falls Church Conference in November. Bishop Duncan's attorneys in the filed response, denied this. The good news is that the "expedited" discovery requested has been approved by the Court. In any case, whatever it was that was allegedly signed by all the bishops there as reported by +Schofield to his diocese will be able to be reviewed prior to Tanzania. Although the parties to the original case signed a confidentiality agreement, I don't know if any new documents would fall under that restriction at this point. It was the Geoffrey Chapman Memo filed in this case that detailed the strategy for "orthodox" parishes to leave with their property, the use of surrogate "off-shore" bishops etc until a "replacement" of TEC could happen. The plaintiffs in their petition allege that the actions taken by the Diocese since have, and continue to be, an effort to implement that strategy and thus deprive TEC (and I assume TEC churchmen at Calvary as TEC is not a party to the lawsuit or its settlement?) of its property. I am not an attorney but would appreciate enlightenment from those among you skilled in canon or civil law? The list of allegations presented in Calvary's petition are presented as "evidence" that Bishop Duncan and the Diocese have left TEC and, if true, it would seem that this "evidence" would be equally valid as cause for presentment or a charge of abandonment of communion from the canon law side? One wonders if the Washington Post will uncover another "Chapman Memo" in the pile.

Posted by: EPfizH on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 2:35am GMT

Guy Butler (on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 1:15pm GMT) makes an interesting point about Nigerian Canon Law. Also EPfizH (on Saturday, 20 January 2007 at 8:59pm GMT).

Take for instance the Nigerian church's Canon IV (http://www.anglican-nig.org/canons.htm#4) on election of bishops which states:
4. PERSONS ELIGIBLE
A Bishop for any Diocese in the Church of Nigeria may be elected from among the Bishops or Clergy of any diocese of the Church of Nigeria, or of any other Diocese in Communion with this Church.

Last time I checked the Church of Nigerian (Anglican Communion) was not in communion with TEC (as EPfizH notes above as well), and so by extension, also not in communion with the Diocese of Virginia, for if Nigeria was in communion with the diocese of Virginia there would be no need for them to have created CANA in Virginia! So my question to any canon lawyers is, by what feat of "leger de main" was Martyn Minns + eligible for election as a bishop of the Church of Nigeria?

Surely I'm not the first to point out this glaring irregularity? I don't recall that the former Episcopal priest Minns was transferred to any other diocese before his election or his ordination as bishop.

Hmmm, just another one of those things that makes one realize just how much some folks like to have their cake and eat it too!

Posted by: Andrew in Montreal on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 4:59am GMT

Whether you agree or disagree that the churches in Virginia abandoned their properties along with the name "Episcopal", there are 2 reasons those in the churches feel that Bishop Lee has pulled the rug out from under them in deciding to pursue lawsuits for their property. These being: 1) the protocol formed by Special committee and supported by Lee at the end of September '06 giving steps to be taken that would allow churches to buy their properties from the diocese. 2) the negotiated settlement Lee made with All Saints' church in November '06 following the protocol.(See the Diocese of Virginia's news archive for November 9, 2006 on it's own site: www.thediocese.net.
The churches listed above have been negotiating with the diocese as All Saints' did, but the diocese has changed its mind, so yes, the conservatives are feeling betrayed and with some right. If the diocese didn't intend to let the property go, they shouldn't have agreed to sell All Saints' to it's congregation, and raise the hopes of all the others.

Posted by: C.H. on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 5:13am GMT

FWIW, I do not consider the Catholicity of TEC in any way dependent on membership in the WWAC -- according to Mark Chapman's "A Very Short Introduction to Anglicanism," the Church of England was not officially in communion with the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America until 1840 (with "Soapy Sam" Wilberforce playing a key role in the decision) -- I have no doubt that the Episcopal Church did not consider itself any less Catholic on that account.

In fact, in light of the extreme anti-Catholicism of certain provinces, one might argue that apparent identification with them greatly undermines The Episcopal Church's witness to the Catholic and Sacramental understanding of the Faith.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 12:06pm GMT

"As for being 'intolerant', a traditional Christian view is loving and accepting of us all, regardless of our human condition. Broken sexuality, of all forms, is not beyond a loving and all powerful Christ to heal. From this view, it is the greatest cruelty to deny the homosexual, adulterer, or any other broken person an understanding that he/she can be healed ..."

"Traditional Christians who are in Episcopal diocese don't come to this discussion 'bigoted and hate mongering' ..."

It's not hate-mongering to equate a state of being [being gay] with sinful activity [committing adultery]? Would you equate being Black with being a bank robber?

As a gay person, I need and seek healing when I sin. I do not need healing for beiing who God made me.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 12:55pm GMT

Harvard Man wrote:
"Broken sexuality, of all forms, is not beyond a loving and all powerful Christ to heal. From this view, it is the greatest cruelty to deny the homosexual, adulterer, or any other broken person an understanding that he/she can be healed, once recognizing and repenting of the brokenness. The great tragedy of the liberal view is that it denies this amazing grace to do its work."

"My God, I thank thee that I am not like those other men......."

There are two things this brazen yet convincedly Anglican homosexual has to say to this statement.

The first is: how breath-takingly patronizing can you be? I am no more (or less) broken than you are - who are you to deny the operation of grace in the lives of gay people? Am I to understand that the Church has never been more than an heterosexist fertility cult? Why should I continue to be inspired by the inclusive image of the Church that drew me to Anglicanism in the first place when I quite clearly fail some of the membership criteria (ie: not the breeding type)? Who are you to judge my love of Christ - or the possibility that Christ might be happy with me as I am? Should I now head off and sue those clergy and lay people who have nurtured and encouraged my faith for misrepresentation?

The second is: the liberal view is actually that grace really operates in the lives of gay people. This is distinct from another liberal insight - that sexuality is a gift from God, which like all other God-given gifts, is open to abuse in many ways; eg: by idolatry. Therefore homosexuality is not brokenness at all, but rather, that it may really be a God-given gift. It may be that we are only just being enabled to see this. See drdanfee for discussion of the blinding effects of legacy attitudes.

In any event, salvation / healing is no intellectual matter - I may *understand* myself to be saved, but mere cognitive-based feelings redeem no-one. It strikes me as more cruel to play pharisaic game of "how saved / healed do you say you are?"

Posted by: kieran crichton on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 1:40pm GMT

C.H. - Look -get with the big picture here. The churches in Virginia are part of CANA's plan to supplant TEC in the AC and take its church property with them. This is not an isolated situation to be handled on a case by case basis. Belly aching about how you feel betrayed because people aren't being somehow consistent is laughable. Yes, let's all wring our hands over health benefits and whether Bishop did what he said he would do. It may distract you and feed your need to feel victimized here, but thank goodness TEC is not not blind to what is going on and is not being bullied into dealing with it piece meal. Because that is just what CANA is hoping. But the jig is up. Pardon, us if we don't sympathize.

C.B.

Posted by: C.B. on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 2:19pm GMT

CH~
In response to your comments about why some feel betrayed by the actions of Bp. Lee, I'd like to clarify your point 2.
The settlement with All Saints did NOT allow that congregation to keep its consecrated property. If you read the Nov 9 press release that you referenced, it clearly says that the trustees of the congregation will transfer the consecrated property to the Diocese.
What the agreement did provide was that the departing congregation could have the undeveloped property.
It seems to me that what the Diocese of Virginia is doing is focusing on those spiritual/consecrated parcels and using the laws to protect the rights of Episcopalians to exercise the freedom of worship. The All Saints agreement indicates that Diocese is not interested in financial gain since the undeveloped property is worth much, much more that the consecrated property. Further, the Diocese could have asked for a greater compensation of rent for the consecrated property.

I am not trying to deny the feelings of betrayal but am trying to clarify that the difference between the All Saints agreement and the property issues of the other break away congregation is the issue of consecrated property.

Church of the Apostles - one of the breakaway congregations - also has a large tract of undeveloped property. The All Saints agreement may have more significance for that congregation than the others.

Posted by: Charles on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 3:45pm GMT

"One puzzle--and this is a puzzle, not a rhetorical question--is why TEC amongst all mainline denominations in the US has gotten into this mess."

TEC is not alone. There is a gay ELCA pastor being tried in Atlanta this week. United Methodists have had skirmishes over gay clergy. Presbyterians have their own schismatic groups. The IRD has targeted all of these denominations and is actively working to undermine each one.

What is different in the situation in TEC is that there is a level of international involvement which is not seen in these other denominations. Thus it appears to be a bigger deal because the plotters managed to get overseas meddlers to intervene.

Posted by: ruidh on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 5:44pm GMT

I may be missing something important, but FWIW, I don't understand why the status of CANA (a mission of the Nigerian church) should be considered any differently than AMiA (a mission of the Rwandan Church, whose status is analyzed here by Anglicans Online):

http://anglicansonline.org/special/AMiAclassification.html

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 5:57pm GMT

Dear Harvard, taking the high privilege to define my sexual orientation, at the end and beginning of all that matters to us as believers and citizens, essentially as a mattter of nothing but sexual brokenness, is supposed to be loving, from your own point of view, and as far as you are now discerning your own inner motives. So you seem to preach: If I can only recognize my non-straight sexual orientation as akin to a sickness or even a crime, then Jesus as Risen Lord can save, heal, transform.

This is all so traditional, so plausible - for so many ConsEvs believers. But, ooops.

It no longer washes for those of us who are not straight. It also no longer washes for many of our family members and our friends. Period. We have all stepped out of these presuppositional negative legacy boxes.

Some of us stepped very slowly and with great care and testing of claims this way and that over ten or more years of arduous effort. We went so slow and so carefully - probably because we were so often told by people who were supposed to know - that if we stepped out of the legacy boxes, we would fall off the ends of the empirical and moral flat earth. That earth being presupposed to be nothing but exclusively heterosexual. Ah, not. Not at all.

A non-straight sexual orientation is pretty much as big or little, as deep or inconsequential - as any straight sexual orientation is, period, provisional as research is ongoing about all sexual orientations and the brain and behavioral genetics and whew lots.

The legacy negative starting point that all people who are not straight are broken simply does not stand up to the available empirical evidence. It is a flat earth theory or model of human nature, particularly when it comes to sexual orientation, which so far as we can tell stems from complex nature/nurture interactions, and which clearly does not entail any innately broken down status as such.

1 of 2

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 6:34pm GMT

We should note that, as of now, no lawsuits have yet been filed. And even if they are filed at some time in the near future, that does not preclude negotiated settlements with each of these groups.

Posted by: ruidh on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 6:41pm GMT

Dear Harvard,

These disconfirming data results are even stronger in those studies which have taken pains to directly control to some good extent for perceptual and experimenter biases.

When we bother to use an effective empirical method to control ahead of time in our study design for self-fulfilling perceptual biases - what we probably would call, prejudiced perception and belief, in ordinary daily life - we find that we have particular difficulty distinguishing on many different empirical measures of wholeness or unimpaired human function between the unbroken straight folks and the broken non-straight ones.

The classic test study was done about five or six decades ago, by Evelyn Hooker at UCLA. At first nobody took her work all that seriously, because her results disconfirmed the going Broken Queers model. Yet over later years, in various designs, her results were replicated so widely on non-criminal or non-psychiatric populations of non-straight people – that eventually, her disconfirmation was taken very seriously, indeed.

What sort of data is this, then? By methodologically excluding biased perceptions/beliefs, we discover it is even harder for us to find the allegedly broken non-straight people in our subject data pools.

These sorts of findings have helped shift the whole research effort, by and large, from testing the broken/flat earth theories as allegedly reasonable hypotheses about reality, into studying the whole realm of legacy negative prejudice, belief, and opinion as phenomena of biased belief in their own right.

Yes, that is more or less right. Science more or less completely stepped out of the legacy Broken Queers boxes, too, because of disconfirming data.


2 of 2

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 6:50pm GMT

'... Only TEC claims to be Catholic, and its claim to be such is presently argued as coming through its participation in the Anglican Communion w/ its heritage through +Cantaur. Thus, if one grants a) that we're Catholic, just not Roman; and b) that our Catholicity comes through, and only through our affiliation w/ the WWAC; and c) our Catholicism matters; there is a LOT at stake in our membership status in WWAC...'

I know what you mean Gillian.

However, TEC (By whatever anme) was the Catholic Church in that place, long before the AC had been thought of, let alone come into being. THe C of E or at least Anglican Churches of the British Isles similarly stood alone for centuries, as the Catholic Church in this places / these places.

If anything perhaps, the AC derives its catholicity from the 'member Churches / Provinces.
I feel there is more I should want to say
about Catholicity, but full of Sunday lunch, I will have to think about it further later.

I can see that any step takes a lot of thought and engages deep emotions. But I also feel the AC would miss TEC greatly and TEC would be invited back in due course. Probably sooner than later).

'Where the bishop is there is the Catholic Church.
Where the bishop is there let the people gather.'


Posted by: laurence on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 7:01pm GMT

Dear Harvard, An Addendum A,

The research effort following these tipping points went in two general directions.

One direction began to study biased perception and belief by studying the legacy negative views. Antigay prejudices function, pretty much, as we have discovered all prejudice to function - at the a priori levels of human perception, attribution, belief, and evaluation. The negative categories set ahead of time control the rest, just as with biases negative towards other human differences.

We now more or less study the legacy flat earth stuff about non-straight folks as part of the problem, not of the non-straight folks being innately and essentially broken, but of the biased perceptions and beliefs of the people who cannot at all see that non-straight folks are not essentially broken people.

Yes, I know, let me say again: Nothing in the negative legacy models would have predicted that the flat earth models in themselves would become the object of our research into the problem, instead of us continuing to research non-straight folks as the broken ones who were obviously the core of the problem.

That shift would not have been predicted from legacy negative views, not least since the legacy models do not recognize or define themselves as biased at all, to any extent; let alone as biased to the extent that they cannot even see the real data about non-straight wholeness and good function in a great many empirically tested domains.

A, needs B

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 7:20pm GMT

"If TEC looses its "constituent" status, it will be in violation of its constitution and, therefore, lose its legal status as the sole representative of the Communion on American soil."

Be very careful about believing a lot of the stuff the network says. This one you've noted above is one of the most nonsensical things they have to say. The Anglican Communion has no formal process for expelling a member province. It would take, at a minimum, a change in the constitution of the ACC, a declaration by the Archbishop of Canterbury in consultation with the Archbishop of York and, perhaps, with the Synod in the CofE. The Primates have, at best, an advisory role. So, the belief that the primates will expel TEC in February is self-deception. Any legal argument made in a civil court based on the premise that TEC is in violation of its constitution is a non-starter. Civil courts in the US do not have jurisdiction to determine if TEC is in violation of its own constitution. The Free Excercise clause of the First Amendment guarantees that.

"Second, David Anderson, as reported by The Episcopal News Service, has “transferred his canonical residence” to CANA. I assume he received letters dimmosory from the Diocese of Quincy, where many who have called categorized “conservatives” or called themselves “orthodox” have canonical if not physical residence. "

Beckwith might issue letters dimissory for Anderson. It matters little for pension purposes whether Anderson leaves TEC through letters dimissory or therough abandoning the Communion. He ceases to accrue years of service for the purpose of determining his benefit level and he continues to possess his accrued benefit.

Posted by: ruidh on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 7:58pm GMT

Dear Harvard, An Addendum B,

A second stream studied sexual orientation more neutrally, making all points along the Kinsey Scale Adjusted for Sexual Orientation equally valuable as possible topics of empirical investigation. The first resting outcome that paused research here was the realization that we did not, actually, know all that much about variance, queer or straight.

Sexual orientation as such is a new idea, not at all talked about in any ancient documents to which we still have access; and lets us occupy a new frame for provisionally looking at things, for framing hypotheses, and for freshly investigating empirical realities, including some aspects of sex and human nature which we find heavily loaded with emotion, bias, and all the familiar legacy negative belief systems whether religious or secular.

(If sex is not essentially our best, clearest, and more discerning image of a dark human stain - Original Sin? - it may also not quite be the reproducible market commodity whose central meanings all devolve into money or money-based systems of worth.)

And biased studies seem unlikely to be a best way to learn more, accurately, in a new area which is not even supposed to exist.

We find ourselves pinned on a research dilemma. We can be willing to take a fresh look, and do effective hypothesis testing of sexual orientation topics understood from newish angles.

Or we can close down inquiry, and follow the advice given: our legacy defines and presumes that everybody is exclusively straight unless something bad happens to them to make them not be straight any more.

(Erase all disconfirming evidence of non-straight wholeness or competency. Gone, because we find that data too uncomfortable.)

We now more or less study sexual orientation as a natural reality, all across the spectrums, with no model predicating one end of the spectrum as whole or good with the other end broken or bad. Having a neutral model, free from the tilts of the legacy biases, aids empirical inquiry because we bracket and set aside the bias and distortions that prevented us from knowing we were wrong about All Broken Queers, in the first place.

Stepping aside from negatives quickly gets religiously tricky, just to the extent that one is desperately committed to implicitly reading one's only biology from ancient near eastern sources and authorities - right up there in importance and value with legacies like, say, following Jesus.

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 8:21pm GMT

There has been a great deal of discussion regarding what COBRA benefits etc should or should not be the entitlement, gift, etc. in regard to the treatment of CANA clergy (Falls Church, Truro et alia), recently departed from TEC. I have visited the CANA website and its FAQs. Q11 states: "Individual congregations will be responsible for appropriate financial and benefits provision for their clergy" As CANA has already made this determination, it would seem that any accommodation on the part of TEC Diocese of Virginia is neither necessary or relevant. It would seem the the majority of the churches involved have ample financial resources to provide family health insurance for their clergy, albeit it may well be a steep jump over what they had been paying, particularly if a "pre-existent" condition should be involved.

Posted by: EPfizH on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 8:43pm GMT

Well, coming back into this chat, it seems I have had a few shots taken at me! I reengage, in love for Christ and the value of good exchange in helping each of us work through these challenging topics.

Yes, the traditional view does see sex outside of heterosexual marriage as 'broken'. And frankly it agrees with earlier comments here, that ALL of us (me included) are broken in various ways. And all need repentence and healing.

Where we truly differ on homosexuality is whether it is as God intended or not. And plenty of loving and wise people can answer that question differently, from their OWN experiences. I respect your right to follow Christ as you are called, and to live your live as you feel He calls you. I ask you give me the same respect. A key point of difference is, should that include ordination? When you say 'yes' to that, you force your view on me and take away from me the church I have worshipped in for many years. Can you see how that is not tolerance, but forcing an agenda on another?

And the race card does not work here. A black man is definitely born black. A gay man/woman is, arguably for sure, not definitively born gay. As pointed out earlier, it is a complex nature/nurture issue that is not definitively answered at this time. But ordination makes it definitive, and that is what is hard for many of us to handle. All fine if you do agree with the assumption that homosexuality is as God ordered. But for those who don't see it that way, it is tantamount to voiding a key part of our faith.

Many firmly believe this is the right 'new thing' to do. Many of us who would be ok continuing to listen and discern the Spirit here, are now 'told' the answer. No longer is it a discussion, more like a lecture. And being lectured at is not consistent with the great Episcopal/Anglican tradition of reason, scripture and tradition

Posted by: Harvard Man on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 9:06pm GMT

EPfizH wrote: ” +Duncan has maintained that TEC's position as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion will come under serious scrutiny either in Tanzania or Lambeth 2008. If TEC looses its "constituent" status, it will be in violation of its constitution and…”

Now, before we get too impressed by the spin… TEC’s “position” as constituent is a fact. It cannot come “under serious scrutiny” either in Tanzania nor Lambeth unless one rewrites History. It’s a fact, it can only be denied, never “discussed”.

Gillian wrote: “… if one grants a) that we're Catholic, just not Roman; and b) that our Catholicity comes through, and only through our affiliation w/ the WWAC; and c) our Catholicism matters; there is a LOT at stake in our membership status in WWAC.”

Two things here:

1) Catholicity depends on having a pre Reformation, non-Calvinist tradition (Church Christology, Sacraments, ecclesiology, a Church Bible & c).

2) TEC is constituent to the Anglican Communion, because it is one of the 1867 f o u n d e r s. Without TEC there can be no Anglican Communion, catholic or otherwise.

Nigeria and other late comers are m e m b e r s of the AC. They have joined afterwards. If any catholicity depends on affiliation with the Anglican Communion, it is that of the Members, not that of the Founders.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 9:57pm GMT

EPfizH wrote: “They allege that, based on some comments made by Bishop Schofield of San Joaquin, that Bishop Duncan has signed some sort of document implying allegiance to a foreign prelate in violation of the Canons, fiduciary responsibility etc.”

Shouldn’t this read “allegiance to the IRD” ;=)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 9:57pm GMT

Just to remind you, the changing of a millennium of Neo Platonist Academic anti-heterosexual teaching on human sexuality (Chastity, Abstinence, Masturbation as Deadly Sin) into anti-gay fertility cult is recent:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/01/20/sundance-film-depicts-ant_n_39152.html

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 21 January 2007 at 9:58pm GMT

Harvard Man wrote:
"Where we truly differ on homosexuality is whether it is as God intended or not. And plenty of loving and wise people can answer that question differently, from their OWN experiences. I respect your right to follow Christ as you are called, and to live your live as you feel He calls you. I ask you give me the same respect. A key point of difference is, should that include ordination? When you say 'yes' to that, you force your view on me and take away from me the church I have worshipped in for many years. Can you see how that is not tolerance, but forcing an agenda on another?"

This is a nonsensical and manipulative statement. Why bother baptizing anyone, based on the likelihood that they might turn out gay? If you don't believe that grace can possibly operate in the lives of gay people AS gay people, why not just say so? Because if grace is not present, then there is no vocation to be ordained. That vocation does not originate with the ordinand; the Church has structures in place to discern that the call to ordination is God's calling, not a human whim. Do you presume to have some distinctive insight into the will of God? In any event, ordination is not the granting of an imprimatur on anyone's sexuality. But to say that when women / gay people are ordained in the Church you are somehow "un-churched" is a breathtaking claim indeed. In what sense is this so? How is this not "forcing an agenda on another"?

The ideal for all Christians (of whatever sexual orientation) is in fact chastity. Remember: it is better to marry than to burn. So why not let gay people marry? It would be better than the current game of circular condemnation of gay people, which cannot surely reflect the will or the image of God. It might even reflect some measure of the gifts of the Spirit.

Posted by: kieran crichton on Monday, 22 January 2007 at 1:54am GMT

Thanks Harvard for replying.

I take your answers in sum as a gentle invitation to head for the nearest Anglican exit, athough you are not interested much in going outside with me to interfere with how I lead the rest of my daily life.

The only reason, I guess, that I hung around TEC for so many years is that so few believers asked me to stop leading the best life I could manage, and so few asked me to leave, to boot. Plus, eventually it looked that TEC was paying attention and learning from the new, solid queer competency data - so that seemed like a poor time for an exit. Now of course the wider communion wishes to make up for TEC's failure to judge and condemn. Bad pseudoscience from fifty years ago is still being trotted out and asked to do zombie tricks for appreciative straight ConsEvs audiences. Sometimes just the familiar negative folk prejudice stuff will do, as among Nigerian believers.

If you are nudging me to the exits, it is subtle and only involves asking me to stick around, predicated on my actually being the awful person that I suddenly would be announced and clearly understood to be if I were elected an openly queer bishop in New Hampshire.

That would be awful, and it would be awful of me to let it happen, knowing how badly about it you feel in the most sincere way possible.

The fact that people will not preach all that legacy negativity directly to me, replete with all its stinky, nasty details to my face, so long as I refrain from thinking that God has called me to priesthood or bishopric, and so long as other believers don't elect me their bishop - well doesn't that sort of actually help reveal what is actually going on, even if you straight folks are ever so nice and so willing not to unduly embarrass me in church by calling attention to my sexual orientation as innate disability?

Now if only I could really trust that hint that I might get to lead the best life I can possibly manage otherwise, up to and including just about the same life I would have lived if I were straight as an open queer guy in many key domains, once I leave the church.

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 22 January 2007 at 3:00am GMT

"Yes, the traditional view does see sex outside of heterosexual marriage as 'broken'"

I am gay when I am in a relationship, and gay when I am celibate.

Straight people are straight when they are in a relationship and straight when they are celibate.

But it sounds like you think gay people should engage in heterosexual marriage?

Now that's twisted.


Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Monday, 22 January 2007 at 4:05am GMT

Harvard's take on the ordination of gays is not in accordance theologically with western Christian tradition. Setting aside the question of whether or not being gay is somehow annoying to God, we should remember the basic understanding of the CHurch (as in the 'Summa') is that the work of a priest as president at the celebration of the sacraments is not in any way diminished by whether s/he is in a perfect state of grace. HArvard's discipleship is not in the slightest impaired by the sexual orientation or practice of his parish priest.

I would also quote Chaucer's prologue to the Canterbury Tales: 'a shame it is, if a prest take keep, a shiten shepherd and a clene sheep.' In Chaucer's time it was still felt that a corrupt priest (his comment is in the context of running of for chantries) could nevertheless enable a holy people. Even those who are opposed to gays cannot maintain that they are being somehow oppressed by them by gay ordinations, not if they're claiming to be traditional.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Monday, 22 January 2007 at 8:51am GMT


ruidh - Thank you for reminding me/us that the likelihood that TEC will be pushed out of the AC anytime soon is remote. I really believe that CANA has sold it's bag of tricks to its congregants promising that the this will happen soon, much like many have preached the end of the world is coming to get people to do their bidding. When it doesn't happen, many will be bewildered and confussed by what has happened and their own part in it will look and feel different.

EPfizH - If CANA churches are to provide health care benefits (albeit at a higher cost to the clergy) it is the height of hysteria/manipulation to throw out all this disinformation about COBRA being denied.

Lastly, if there was some sort of pledge of allegience signed in Falls Church this past November by Duncan and/or others, you can bet that rules of the game for TEC were changed dramatically, and that Bishop Lee felt betrayed by the Virginia churches, hence his supposed reversals. He just can't allude to it until he has the evidenciary proof. - Which may be forthcoming soon.

C.B.

Posted by: C.B. on Monday, 22 January 2007 at 11:53am GMT

Drdanfee, I don't think either of us is going to persuade the other on our positions. And that is the challenge we have: split or stay together, and engage. John Stott wrote an excellent piece outlining the options for traditional folk like me in TEC: leave, stay and compromise or stay and don't compromise but engage and keep on.

I do believe we should continue to engage, as painful as it is for us both and as unclear as the outcome is. And no, I'm not gently pointing you to the exit. The actions of GC point ME toward the exit. And that doesn't seem appropriate, as GC actions are against the church's traditional teachings and accepted Anglican understanding. Yet, that is what TEC has done. Yet, I'll continue to engage as I am in a parish where the Gospel is preached, I am fed and as a body we continue to do our best to show Christ's love to those in our community who are in need.

Cynthia, I do not ask a gay person to marry, but simply not to ask the church to bless what it has said is not holy. Again, as you and I clearly disagree on the nature of homosexuality, we'll have to agree to disagree, I'm afraid.

mynsterpreost, I am not opposed to gays. I am opposed to ordination of anyone active sexually outside marriage, regardless of orientation. Not out of hate, prejudice or lack of many heartfelt discussions and prayers. But out of what I understand from my faith. We disagree.

So, where do we go from here? I don't know, and simply give this back over to God and pray for some miracle to salvage this church whose teachings, fellowship, traditions and liturgy I so enjoy. And that even includes the fellowship and exchange on this post!

Posted by: Harvard Man on Monday, 22 January 2007 at 3:39pm GMT

ruidh --

IIRC, a vote of 2/3 of the primates can, in fact, alter the membership of the ACC. I could imagine about 50% -- I don't see how the numbers can be worked to get 2/3s.

In any case, the preamble being added ex post facto is, obviously, descriptive, not proscriptive & would have no bearing on the legal status of TEC & his property rights.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Monday, 22 January 2007 at 4:11pm GMT

For Goran Koch-Swane... I did not say that I argued that if TEC loses its "constituent member" of the Anglican Communion status, the legality of its claim to be the true Episcopal Church in the US will be in serious question, I stated that +Duncan will so argue. Much of the cases law and implication of said for hierarchical churches has been happily reviewed at http://www.layman.org/layman/news/2006-news/legal-strategy-memo.pdf This is a strategy document (secret) for how to deal with churches, and the arguments you should use on a case by case basis for churches leaving the Presbyterian Church and it was prepared by their attorneys. We have much in common and the same case law is probably applicable to us. Again, I suggest that it behooves TEC to move quickly. At this point, there is no question as to who is the Episcopal Church in the US.

In a related issue, on December 18, the same day as the +Lee letter, the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County PA (GD-03-020941) granted expedited discovery to Calvary church which had petitioned the Court to compel +Duncan and the Pittsburgh diocese to comply with the terms of their settlement. This is huge because Calvary wants to see an alleged document, on belief from +Schofield's address to his diocese, was signed by the bishops meeting at Falls Church in November and some sort of "allegiance" they may have made to the off-shore primates. The petition contains a long list of allegations charging that the Diocese has left the Episcopal Church and is, now attempting, or in the near future will attempt to remove church property from Calvary/TEC Episcopalians. The response of the Diocese was of course to deny all the allegations, but what is key here is the expedited discovery: January 31, two weeks before Tanzania. The allegations in the petition, if true, appear to me equally valid as justification for presentment in the canon law arena. I would expect a collision of the press and TEC attorneys vying for cabs to Calvary's attorney's office Jan 31. It was this case, of course, Calvary v. Duncan et alia that produced the Geoffrey Chapman Memo and Calvary's petition alleges that all of the diocese's actions have simply been an effort toward its implementation.

Posted by: EPfizH on Monday, 22 January 2007 at 7:12pm GMT

HarvardMan said
I am opposed to ordination of anyone active sexually outside marriage, regardless of orientation. Not out of hate, prejudice or lack of many heartfelt discussions and prayers. But out of what I understand from my faith. We disagree

But where does that leave you on other disobediences 'equally repugnant'? Why is sex the one which rattles cages when manifestations of pride, lust for power, wealth and the rest go by on the nod? I'm intrigued by the hermeneutical inconsistency here.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Monday, 22 January 2007 at 10:12pm GMT

"And no, I'm not gently pointing you to the exit. The actions of GC point ME toward the exit."

Harvard Man, I don't know another way to say this (gently or not): your perception is just flat-out WRONG.

NO ONE is pointing you to the exit. You may see a partnered gay person presiding at the Table of the Lord, but ONLY YOU CAN DECIDE that, contrary to Christian orthodoxy (i.e., in keeping w/ the heresy of Donatism), you will pick yourself up and head for the door.

Christ says "Take and Eat. Feed on Me. Come unto Me". Resist Him if you will, but consider where this repudiation of *HIS* invitation comes from?

God bless the Episcopal Church!

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 22 January 2007 at 11:47pm GMT

EPfizH's last post reminded me of an issue peripheral (but not unrelated) to the discussions here of various legalistic maneuvers by the secessionist Virginia parishes and the alleged "secret pledges of allegiance" supposed to have been signed by +Duncan and others in the Network.

Next Saturday in Central Florida the Diocesan Convention was to consider Resolution A-8, a request "to the ecclesiastical authority of this diocese to register the service marks:
a) “The Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida”
b) “The Episcopal Church in Central Florida”
With the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations."

When I read this, I remember that there was a failed attempt some years ago by the Bishop of Central Florida, John Howe, and another bishop (was it Wantling of Eau Claire?) to trademark the name "Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America (PECUSA)" and then claim that because they owned the trademark they were the real Episcopal Church.

However, Bishop Howe says, in his January 9, 2007 letter to the Convention delegates, that Resolution A-8 will not be considered, because applications to trademark the Diocesan name have already been submitted.

It sounds as though, once again, the old maneuver is being attempted, but I don't know whether this is the case.

Posted by: Charlotte on Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 12:45am GMT

Charlotte - I read on a blog some where in the last two week that ECUSA had trademarked its name. If a request to trademark PECUSA has been submitted, it will be interesting to see if it is granted. It will depend on whether it's considered an infringement of the words "Episcopal Church" i.e., likely to create confusion in the minds of the public. But you can see that TEC is operating at this point under the understanding that a new denomination in America is being formed. Hence, the change in the tenor of its dealings with individual churches who want to leave.

C.B.

Posted by: C.B. on Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 10:17am GMT

Charlotte - Sorry - I should have said ECCF not PECUSA above. But the same comment applies. I believe ECUSA registered every use of the term "Episcopal" just for this reason.

C.B.

Posted by: C.B. on Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 11:02am GMT

Question for ecclesiology experts? Did Nottingham change the traditional thoughts on the "instruments of unity" of the Anglican Communion. Instead of 4 are there now 3? It appears to me that "the instruments of unity" have now been changed to "the instruments of communion" and the ABC, changed from an "instrument of unity" to a "focus" of unity. Exactly what authority do each of the "instruments" have? I thought they were all advisory? Are the provinces of the Anglican Communion the highest church authority in their own lands? From a civil law perspective, I would believe that to be the General Convention of TEC in the US? I ask this because of Watson v. Jones which stated that: "In a hierarchical church, the determination (on property) will be made by the highest church governing body that has ruled in the matter" I realize that the "hierarchical" approach is only one of the three models that civil authorities may wish to adopt in looking at property decisions, but just for the sake of information, I ask.

Posted by: EPfizH on Tuesday, 23 January 2007 at 5:41pm GMT

EPfizH asks: "Are the provinces of the Anglican Communion the highest church authority in their own lands?"

Yes. You have hit upon a crucial point that should be reiterated again and again. There are those who would say that the Provinces report to a Higher Authority (and I don't mean God) but to the Anglican Communion. This has been at the center of the rhetoric used against the Episcopal Church in the US and the Anglican Church in Canada--that their actions were wrong because they did not consult with the rest of the Communion. But for that argument to work, one has to vest in Lambeth, the Primates meeting and the ACC actual authority over the constiutions and polities of each member of the communion. The ACI has been arguing this point for years. The problem is that this authority doesn't exist, and even when the deck was stacked against the EC and the Anglican Church in Canada, the ACC still did not use their authority to boot anyone out. The Anglican Consultative Council is the only constitutional body of any of the instruments of communion.

As Archbishop Tutu has said, the point of a communion is when people talk. Some have tried to turn the WWAC into something else, but first and finally it is a fellowship of churches, a communion of communions.

Posted by: Andrew Gerns on Wednesday, 24 January 2007 at 4:07am GMT
Post a comment









Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.