Comments: Connecticut Six file formal charges against bishop

Very sad that it has come to legal proceedings before secular courts. But the extreme liberals in ECUSA seem to have assumed for a long time that they can do anything to churches and to clergy (and probably to Bishops too soon) with impunity.

How many churches have now been told to leave their buildings, and clergy their ministries, because they won't support blessings and practices that are against the teachings of Christ and the Apostles etc recorded in the New Testament, and against the traditions of the church ?

Shame on ECUSA's leadership! Whose church is this anyway ?

Posted by Dave at Thursday, 25 August 2005 at 10:14pm BST

Dave
Absolutely nothing in this news item mentions secular courts. This is specifically and exclusively about *church courts.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 25 August 2005 at 10:34pm BST

I would say, "shame!" to those who've brought the presentment. Seems like they're throwing a childish temper tantrum: I can't have what I want, so I'm going to hurt you. Shame on all of us for letting sex be the only thing we seem to be discussing, when there are so many other things like poverty that urgently need our attention. It angers me that so many resources are being consumed in this debate that could be used elsewhere. Does all this arguing really fit into, "love your neighbor as yourself?"

Posted by Amy at Thursday, 25 August 2005 at 11:34pm BST

Wouldn't it be great if the Review Committee came back and said: "Well, there's no case against Bp. Smith. But we found plenty of reasons to proceed with deposing the so-called CT Six and several bishops in places like Pittsburgh and Fort Worth..."

Posted by Peter at Friday, 26 August 2005 at 2:02pm BST

Dear Simon, sorry I must have misread. In that case they are doing exactly what the Scriptures say they should to try to resolve disagreements in the Church. But I worry that no ECUSA internal process would support orthodox priests against a revisionist Bishop, even when he had clearly over-reached his Canonical authority. Maybe the argument will be that the Bishop IS the church ?

Dear Peter, rejecting orthodox Christians from the ECUSAn hierarchy and priesthood would be the logical next step after having rejected orthodox Christian principles in faith and morality. I'm just amazed that the liberals are so blind to what they are doing!

Maybe the recent mass expulsion of 32 evangelical priests, and the Bishop, in Recife, Brazil is a dry run... What a loving response to legitimate dissent !

Posted by Dave at Friday, 26 August 2005 at 5:41pm BST

Simon wrote "Dave Absolutely nothing in this news item mentions secular courts. This is specifically and exclusively about *church courts."

I knew I'd seen a reference to secular law somewhere. Here's a quote from another report:

"Both canon law and Connecticut law stipulate that the duly elected church boards, or vestries, are to serve as “agents and legal representatives” of Episcopal parishes. In addition, vestries are given the responsibility for the direction, management and control of parish property and business affairs. The charges assert that Bishop Smith’s actions clearly violate canon and civil law, as he has assumed ownership and management of parishes and “prevented vestries of the four parishes from carrying out their canonical and civil roles as the agents and legal representatives of their respective parishes.”

Sounds to me like Bp Smith was naughty and overreached his authority!

Posted by Dave at Friday, 26 August 2005 at 11:54pm BST

Looking at all these disputes that are breaking out across the Anglican world, I have a couple of questions for readers knowledgeable in canon law and things Anglican out there:
1. In Connecticut the bishop has claimed the bank accounts and changed the locks on the church buildings (as well as installing a new priest-in-charge). Surely this will lead to *civil claims over title and ownership?
2. In Recife the bishop suffragan has 'deposed' 32 clergy (who are said to minister to 90% of the diocese). What does this action mean? Are they dismissed from their jobs, without salary, and evicted from their domiciles? What is the status of the diocesan bishop, who is also said to be 'deposed'?

Posted by Mark Beaton at Saturday, 27 August 2005 at 8:31am BST

Dave said:

"...rejecting orthodox Christians from the ECUSAn hierarchy and priesthood would be the logical next step after having rejected orthodox Christian principles in faith and morality...What a loving response to legitimate dissent"

Sorry, Dave, but it would require a stretch of the imagination aided by mind-altering drugs to believe that the actions of the CT Six and their collaborators; the leadership of the AAC and Network; and the clergy in Racife is "legitimate dissent." Try "theological terrorism." Now that the church is finally showing some backbone and standing up to these people and saying "no" to them, someone like Bob Duncan or others in the AAC/Network leadership pops up and starts screaming "orthodoxy, Scripture...blah, blah, blah." That's getting old.

It isn't "legitimate dissent" to use deceitful tactics to try and circumvent the polity of the church and implode the institution in order to...what? Replace it with some purified cult? Legitimate dissent doesn't create things like the secret Chapman Memo from the AAC Leadership. Legitimate dissent doesn't say, "If we don't get our way, we're going to destroy the village to save it." Legitimate dissent works within the existing church structures (ex: General Convention). Or, legitimate dissenters act with some integrity and leave.

The clergy in the AAC/Network leadership driving this theological terrorism should be the people facing presentments, not Bp. Smith. The only thing Bp. Smith in CT did wrong was not acting sooner and inhibiting all of the clergy involved in this botched conspiracy. I hope GC 2006 will deal with this whole bit of nonsense once and for all so we can get back to work.

Posted by Peter at Saturday, 27 August 2005 at 12:37pm BST

Dear Peter

The legitimate dissent of the CT Six, the Recife bishop and clergy, and many others is from ECUSA's and ECIB's de-sinning of homosexuality and lack of faithfulness to the Faith in Christ, as once revealed.

They have taken action because of the lack of faithfulness of ECUSA's GC, and now because Bp Smith broke the laws (canonical and civil).

As for tactics, I'm not sure that kicking orthodox churches out of buildings they just built (and paid for themselves), and trying to kick clergy and Bishops out of their jobs, is particularly glorious, loving, "inclusive" or "tolerant" -- of people who are, after all, holding to the mainstream teaching of the world-wide Church.

Posted by Dave at Saturday, 27 August 2005 at 4:52pm BST

Oh no, no, no.

The CT 6 went far beyond dissent. A dissenter expresses an opinion which differs from the majority opinion. It may be expressed firmly, loudly, even obnoxiously. But dissent remains a kind of speech.

The CT 6 went far beyond dissent and are actually practicing civil disobedience. They've announced that the bishop is an apostate and they don't recognise his authority. But they also want him to suspend the canons and recognise their totally independent mini-diocese within his jurisdiction.

That, of course, he cannot do.

And they know it.

Like any act of civil disobedience, it is meant to either break the power of those in authority, or expose the fundamental injustice of those powers by provoking an over-reaction.

It's a little early to see if they'll prevail.

Like many conservatives in the USA today, they have read the playbook of the 1960s Left very carefully (Funny, since I thought conservatives hated the 1960s so bad). This latter-day Chicago Eight have set out to be martyrs for their cause.

It's a risky undertaking, but who knows? They might just succeed. I hope not.

And, BTW, practicing inclusivity and tolerance does not mean you let people run roughshod over you, or manipulate you into getting anything they want. And in this case, it's hard to be inclusive of people who will only play nice if they get to throw *other* people out of the room.

Posted by Christopher Calderhead at Saturday, 27 August 2005 at 8:16pm BST

Christopher wrote: "And, BTW, practicing inclusivity and tolerance does not mean you let people run roughshod over you, or manipulate you into getting anything they want. And in this case, it's hard to be inclusive of people who will only play nice if they get to throw *other* people out of the room."

Wonderfully said. This is the exact response I intend to give from now on when the more reactionary conservatives start singing that old, familiar song about how we "liberals" aren't *really* inclusive, since we won't tolerate their, well...intolerance.

Posted by Simeon at Saturday, 27 August 2005 at 10:18pm BST

Me thinks we may be forgetting who has moved: the Bishop IS apostate! And he is the one who is manipulating and running roughshod, over the Bible, over church tradition and teaching, over congregations, over local church leaders - and, as this now (in)famous dispute shows, over law, church and civil.

To present it the other way around and use words such as terrorists or childish tantrums when it is the Bishop who is deposing and threatening is not just emotive it is complete double think. George Orwell would be impressed!

Posted by Neil at Sunday, 28 August 2005 at 9:22am BST

No, Neil, the Bishop simply isn't a conservative.

And when those same conservatives have the temerity to talk about 'legitimate dissent' when they don't even class liberals as Christians - well, just goes to show that the Church will be a better place without them, when the split happens.

Posted by Merseymike at Sunday, 28 August 2005 at 1:42pm BST

As a priest in the Diocese of CT, I find the comments that Bishop Smith is apostate, baseless. If the Bishop were an apostate, why are the charges against him not for teachings against the Church but for canonical violations?

The CT Six ignore the canons, ignore the Bishop, want to create their own rules, and charge the bishop with canonical violations.

It is hypocrisy.

Posted by Rev. Kurt Huber at Sunday, 28 August 2005 at 8:36pm BST

If one takes a look at the Diocese of CT canons, one finds that the bishop has the right to make a pastoral intervention" into any parish that has in some form lost its way. This is exactly what Bishop Smith informed St. John's parishoners that he had done in a letter he wrote to them. St. John's Bristol was having severe money problems and had granted its priest an unauthorized sabbatical. The financial problems were enough to meet the canonical requirement for intervention. That canon (1.13) also then states that the parish shall be required to work with diocesan officials and that the bishop shall appoint a vicar to be in charge of the parish. In addition, part of canon VIII gives the bishop and diocesan finance committee the right to take any actions the deem necessary to ensure that a parish is securing its funds appropriately (including its assets and endowment). Canon 1 also includes section 12 which reads: "Section 12. Every Parish is responsible to live within a system of support and accountability that links its life and ministry with that of the Bishop and with those of other Parishes in the Diocese." I think these clauses cover the actions that bishop Smith has taken and give him plenty of "cover" to have the presentment thrown out.

Posted by Joan R. Gundersen at Monday, 29 August 2005 at 9:02pm BST

Interesting comments from all, good debate.

Question, if Smith acted w/in the canons, why doesn't he go after the reamining 90+ parishes in his diocese for non payment?

As for hypocrisy, what is the real meaning of DEPO? Is it meant to give "conservative" parishes a way to still stay w/in ECUSA by reporting thru a different conservative Bishop? If so, I believe this church of St. Johns applied for DEPO and Smith wanted to still pull the strings? If so, what's an orthodox parish to do? After all, there is room for all here, correct?

Any takers on these points?

Posted by Curious at Monday, 29 August 2005 at 11:47pm BST

It is the way the 'reasserters' have behaved in this case and others, the Chapman letter, Akinola's ranting, the Riga rabble and so on that has convinced me, after years of doubting and wavering and trying to balance on the fence, that they are simply wrong.

I cannot believe that all those people are behaving in the Spirit of God.

So, to my mind, the truth is not with them: it must be with those that they are acting against.

Reading what they say on forums like this, I also have come to believe they see such behaviours as justified and appear so entrenched that there seems no possibility of them changing or even moderating their position. Talking and debating seems only to serve one purpose, and that is to educate those like myself who would otherwise have been unaware of what is going on. I hope these sites are widely read. I don't know what your hit count is. Are there ways of ensuring the ordinary anglican in pews around the world gets to know about all this stuff? Bring it all into the open so people can see what the 'reasserters' feel is appropriate behaviour? Assemble it all, simply, clearly, accurately and without embellishment so that people can see? Without disrespect or hyperbole or rhetoric or argument - just 'this is what is going on, this is what they are doing' and leave people to make their mind up. That would be good.

I've also greatly benefitted by being directed to the inspirational and hope-giving sites of Father Jake and (just found) Salty Vicar.

I've found the discussions very educational in a wider sense too. The Hooker discussions are fascinating and I'd love to read more on him now. It gave me a greater appreciation of anglicanism. It made me want to stick it out a bit longer.

I wonder if the 'reasserters' involved in this case and others are aware how repulsive their actions are to people who they might otherwise seek to convert to their system of belief? I wonder if it's as repulsive as they feel homosexuality is? Hmmm.

I know 'reasserters' don't think I should be allowed to quote from the Bible, but I feel the following is quite fitting, so ner:

"Jesus said, 'I came into this world for judgement so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.' Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, 'Surely we are not blind, are we?' Jesus said to them, 'If you were blind you would not have sin. But now that you say, "We see", your sin remains.'" John 9:39-41 (NRSV)

Posted by matt at Tuesday, 30 August 2005 at 4:05am BST

Matt, the great majority of Anglicans around the world live in Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda and other parts of East Africa. At the most, there are about 3 million regular attenders of Anglican churches in Britain, Ireland, North America and Australasia ('BINAA' - my new useful acronym) *combined. The claim that 'there are 26 million members of the Church of England' is functionally empty. Everyone is agreed that Anglicanism is growing numerically in the 'Global South', Africa and South East Asia (especially Singapore but also in parts of E. Malaysia) and possibly in South America, and contracting in BINAA. It is also agreed that most (not all) growth in BINAA is in theologically conservative constituencies: the HTB churches, AAC, the Archdiocese of Sydney. The great majority in the Global South are poor and don't have internet access, or even electricity in many cases. No region is entirely uniform (not the Global South and certainly not BINAA) but there can be little doubt where most sympathies lie.

Posted by Mark Beaton at Tuesday, 30 August 2005 at 10:36am BST

A friend suggests instead of 'BINAA' we should say 'Britain, Ireland, North America, New Zealand, Australia' - BINANZA! Well, better than 'bannzai!', I guess :)

Posted by Mark Beaton at Tuesday, 30 August 2005 at 5:12pm BST

Matt wrote "Reading what they say on forums like this, I also have come to believe they see such behaviours as justified and appear so entrenched that there seems no possibility of them changing or even moderating their position."

Dear Matt, what "moderation" would you propose ?

It would be interesting too see what compromise you think might be possible to minimise the number of times New Westminster and CT are repeated round the world. However, "moderation" will need to respect the convictions of "conservatives"; and leave them secure to continue serving God as they believe is right.

I noticed that Bp Smith's choice of a new priest for that conservative parish was a leader of "Affirming Catholicism" - hardly a good sign for folk who feel that their views are being to e respected?!

Posted by Dave at Tuesday, 30 August 2005 at 7:04pm BST

Mark wrote, "the great majority of Anglicans around the world live in Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda and other parts of East Africa..."

But to equate how correct a position is with the number of people who hold it (e.g. "Conservative" Anglicans/Episcopalians are correct because there's lots OF them) is simply an appeal to motives in place of support - specifically an argumentum ad populum: http://datanation.com/fallacies/pop.htm

Or, as my Mom used to say, "Just because all the other kids are jumping off a cliff doesn't mean YOU should!" ;)

Posted by David Huff at Tuesday, 30 August 2005 at 7:32pm BST

David, I didn't state which position was 'correct', let alone claim that numbers establish this. I was responding to matt's question, 'Are there ways of ensuring the ordinary anglican in pews around the world gets to know about all this stuff?' with the observations that:
1. most 'ordinary anglicans in pews around the world' are Africans with no access to any of this information (and I suspect they have more pressing concerns of their own survival in any case);
2. notwithstanding that, I am quite sure the vast majority of them, were they polled, would be strongly against the consecration of Gene Robinson - as indeed their primates were. As G. K. Chesterton put it in his famous poem about Welsh Disestablishment (well worth a read), 'Chuck it, Smith!'
Moreover, I am sure they would agree with your Mom's wisdom. The question is, in this case who has acted like a lemming?

Posted by Mark Beaton at Wednesday, 31 August 2005 at 12:37am BST

I'm beginning to have lemming-like urges.

It was because most anglicans are not 'online', that I suggested the value of alternative means of communicating the nature of these events to them.

It is a painful but realistic reminder, mark, that most anglicans would be strongly against the consecration of Gene Robinson, or indeed the election of Nicholas Henderson. But that is not what I would like them to consider. I would like them to consider: if you do disagree with such things, how do you as christians proceed? In terms of how to proceed to further your own aims and beliefs, what is open and honest and fair and loving and giving and genuine and what is not? What do they each feel about the means that others are using to attain their desired outcomes?

Africa is a huge and varied continent - only a minority of Christians there are so distracted by threats to their life and health that they have become disinterested in the morality of what is done in their God's name, their Church's name.

If this were not the case, I'm sure they would all be a bit fed up with Akinola ranting on about moral issues in north america and the uk.

But yes, you are probably right. The majority of Anglicans are probably sufficiently contemptuous of homosexuality to overlook almost ANYTHING that is done in order to resist any moves that might facilitate the acceptance of non-celibate homosexual people in or outside of the church.

With the recent vatican ban on gay priests and the Pope's reconciliation with the ultra-conservative schismatics there is even more pressure on the anglican leaders, who (rightly) desire reunion, to be less sympathetic to 'liberal/progressive/reappraiser' points of view.

I'm not at all optimistic at the moment.

I just wish things would get a move on and tip one way or another, I'm finding all this quite distressing.

I can't be standing around on this cliff-top for much longer. The rocks below are looking more appealing by the day.

Oh, I've got a joke...

What is the difference between Anglican Christianity and Judaism or Islam?

Nothing. hahahahahah. ha.

Posted by matt at Wednesday, 31 August 2005 at 11:07am BST

Curious said:

Question, if Smith acted w/in the canons, why doesn't he go after the reamining 90+ parishes in his diocese for non payment?

As for hypocrisy, what is the real meaning of DEPO? Is it meant to give "conservative" parishes a way to still stay w/in ECUSA by reporting thru a different conservative Bishop? If so, I believe this church of St. Johns applied for DEPO and Smith wanted to still pull the strings? If so, what's an orthodox parish to do? After all, there is room for all here, correct?

My reply:

Only 6 of 177 parishes are defying the canons. Only 6 are unwilling to minister and work with the diocese. There are not 90+ parishes that are paying $0 to the diocese (if I understood your question correctly). When the numbers come out next month I can tell you of 177 how many are paying $0. I bet the number is less than 10.

The CT Six have refused to except DEPO. They want alternative episcopal oversight, which is just a fancy way of saying they want it their way or no way. They have a letter stating their demands from 2004 that can be found on the diocesan website. Sadly, we are not a congregational polity even if we often act like it, they need to work within the bounds of our canons and take DEPO. I believe one parish (outside the 6) is using DEPO.

Posted by Rev. Kurt Huber at Wednesday, 31 August 2005 at 5:25pm BST

Dear Rev Huber

The Canons and practices of ECUSA have been changed to include things which no conservative Christian can accept. These moves have effectively excluded them, and made it impossible for them to accept the authority of ECUSA or of the ECUSAn Bishops that support the changes.

Wouldn't it be more respectful and caring to acknowledge this and find a way for peaceful coexistence (probably separation into geographically overlapping provinces) rather than demanding that churches and clergy either submit to these changes or depart their building jobs etc ?

Maybe ECUSA can lead the way in finding a "christian" solution ?

Posted by Dave at Wednesday, 31 August 2005 at 8:49pm BST

There are many conservatives in the Diocese of CT who do live by the Const. & Canons of the Church. They disagree with the Bishop in certain areas but refuse to throw it all away to get a bishop who looks like they do.

I am not sure which Canons you are talking about Dave. It takes a 2/3 majority (I believe) to make such changes. Are conseravtives in such a minority that they have no voice or vote?

There will be some Churches that will leave. It is sad and I think it grieves the heart of God but most Churches existed long before we did and will last long after us. In the Diocese of CT, the majority will remain and grow.

The CT Six have held the attention of this diocese far too long. Its time to move on and minister to whom God has called us to serve.

An amicable split? We shall see in God's time.

Posted by Rev. Kurt Huber at Thursday, 1 September 2005 at 1:47pm BST

Dear Rev Huber

I think that "An amicable split? We shall see in God's time" is too passive a response to a serious situation.

Imagine if it were a conservative Bishop in the UK or US who was cracking down on homosexuals who wouldn't remain celibate. I bet you wouldn't be saying "we shall see in God's time" if liberal priests who opposed the Bishop were being defrocked, and clergy from conservative groups were being appointed to care for their parishes.

There would be howls of liberal protest - and demands that the Province intervene to find a way to "honour diversity".

Posted by Dave at Friday, 2 September 2005 at 11:26pm BST

Like Pittsburgh where Bishop Duncan has tried to throw out liberal parishes?

Gays and lesbians have faced discrimination in the Church for a long time and still do.

I am all for an amicable split, but how much does one give? Who gets the say? Do we need a mediator?

Posted by Rev. Kurt Huber at Saturday, 3 September 2005 at 1:17am BST

R. Kurt,

The mediators are known as attys. This is and will turn into a legal battle. Instead of spending money on outreach and fellowship, Christians are now forced to pay attys to retain properties and protect clergy. Attys are the ones making out here while parishes, dioceses, and bishops go broke on both sides.

Where is the inclusivity and diversity in making a conservative group conform to liberal thinking? Too bad ECUSA can't make room for all, I know some bishops that are trying. Obviously this Smith isn't one of them.

And BTW, it's not just 6 parishes in the CT diocese that are in arrears, it's 94 as of 12/31/2004. It's a matter of public record and gets published, at least once a year that I know of, by the CT diocese.

Be well friends in Christ. In His Light.

Posted by Curious at Saturday, 3 September 2005 at 11:51am BST

Some thoughts in general.

1. The Churches of that Diocese, elected Gene Robinson - perhaps, just perhaps, the people of that diocese, really do know what they want in a Bishop?!!

2. The new Primate of Britain, #2 in the Church hierarchy, is of the opinion that homosexuals should be allowed to be ordained as Bishops.

3. Shouldn't all the members of the Anglican Communion be more concerned with what Jesus really asked us to do, which is to love each other as ourselves, to take care of the infirmed, the aged, the "wicked", etc. - in short, to do right by our fellow human beings? To love and take care of each other?

4. Isn't the real "H" word in question here, not "H"omosexuality but "H"onesty? Is anyone here going to deny that there already have been homosexual priests and Bishops in the Church's past?!?

5. Jesus proclaimed a new covenant, or do we forget that Abraham, Isaac & Jacob all had wives and concubines, which is no longer the tradition or accepted. Do we forget that even in the early Church polygamy was allowed and women - wives, daughters, mothers, sisters - were property of the male head of house, subject to be sold at his whim?!! Are those traditions ones we still want today?

6. Perhaps the African Churches and in particular one Archbishop, pay more attention to feeding and housing the poor, tending to the sick (just how bad is the HIV epidemic in his Archdiocese?!!?) and seeing that justice be done by the local governments before they point out the mote in our eye?!

Just some thoughts about where we really should be focusing our energy - like actually following the teachings of Jesus - living lives of love, compassion and grace.

Eric

Posted by Eric at Thursday, 6 October 2005 at 4:15am BST

Dave said:

>Dear Rev Huber

>The Canons and practices of ECUSA have been >changed to include things which no conservative >Christian can accept. These moves have >effectively excluded them, and made it >impossible for them to accept the authority of >ECUSA or of the ECUSAn Bishops that support the >changes.

How do you define "conservative Christian" in the context of this debate?

What I read you saying is that a "conservative" is unchanging and I dare say that what you or we today define as a "conservative Christian" would be considered a liberal even 100 years ago and a highly radical one at that!

The Communion today, is not what it was 100, 200, etc. years ago. It has evolved and grown. If you had said a woman would be allowed to chalice or even be allowed to attend seminary let alone become a Priest?!!

Once upon a time, slavery was common and was defended by the Anglican/Episcopal Church and was vehemently defended by using the Bible. The same was used to deny women their rights. Would you have that same Church today?

As we've recognized the presence of God within various peoples, groups, etc. we've learned to tolerate, accept and then include them into the fold. Why then should homosexuals be any different? Especially if they are leading good, moral and Christian lives?!!

Eric

Posted by Eric at Thursday, 6 October 2005 at 4:56am BST

"Especially if they are leading good, moral and Christian lives?!!"

Ah, but you see, by definition, homosexuals CAN'T lead good, moral, Christian lives. We are all out to prey on children and have sex with whatever moves slowly enough. See the frequent accusations here that what is being asked for is the blessing of sexual promiscuity, as if a committed lifelong monogamous gay relationship is promiscuous! And this from those who claim to have listened. The most we can hope to be is some sort of stunted malformed human being who God in His mercy deigns to love if only we can be made to suffer more than any heterosexual, as long as we admit that being expected to do without the support of a loving committed lifelong partner is no worse than expecting a straight man not to fool around on his wife.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 22 August 2007 at 5:59pm BST
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