Comments: Virginia news catchup

Good for Bishop Lee.

Perhaps Minns should be asking himself whether the CoN is Anglican first.

Posted by Tim at Friday, 26 January 2007 at 11:41pm GMT

More nice liberals whose supreme tolerance has been pushed over the edge by those nasty conservatives - who unreasonably insist that Christian belief and moral conduct are more important than the person who gets to wear the funny hat!

Posted by Dave at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 1:23am GMT

Aside from the health insurance thing, Minns has no grounds to complain. the Church of Nigeria is Anglican, and I do not think that +Lee is trying to deny that, but CANA is not Anglican, and the Episcopal Church shouldn't recognize it.

the US doesn't have universal health insurance. health insurance is provided through employment only, which is a relic from WWII practices (long story, don't ask). I may not wish these dissident clergy well, but I wouldn't deny even Peter Akinola his health benefits. when employees leave, are terminated or go on strike (all of which could describe what the CANA crowd have done), COBRA allows them to retain previous health benefits at their own cost, for a certain period of time. I hope +Lee can rectify this situation, or that Minns is mistaken about the circumstances.

Posted by Weiwen at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 3:06am GMT

Dave, I'm not sure I follow your point.

The only person who got a pointy hat out of this was Martyn Minns, who got one from Nigeria. He had previously stood for election in the Episcopal Church of the USA but he lost the election.

Then, having got his Nigerian pointy hat, he didn't go to Nigeria, but stayed put as Rector (very strange) of his previous church in the USA.

Then, he conducted "40 days of discernment", as a result of which, surprise surprise, his flock followed their new shepherd towards his new masters, the kind dispensers of the pointy hat, Nigeria.

Only they didn't go to Nigeria. No, they all stayed where they were and said that it was very unchristian for the US church they had left, and the US bishop they had abandoned, not to let them keep all the property.

I know the talk is all of principle. But the fruits seem about as far from the spirit as it is possible to imagine. A cynical, ambitious, power seeking, worldly person would have done exactly the same thing.

Posted by badman at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 1:30pm GMT

RE: Health care issues. An employer can not deny an ex-employee COBRA coverage. The employer is required to notify the Health Plan that the employee is terminated within thirty days of the termination (be it voluntary or involuntary). Bp Minns speaks of a 'grace' period - coverage under COBRA extensions can be for long as 18 months. What exactly has Bp Lee denied to the departing priests?

Posted by Newlin Keen at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 2:06pm GMT

+Minns of the Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in America writes to +Lee of Virginia: “Are you, by your actions, suggesting that the Church of Nigeria is somehow not fully Anglican? Such a suggestion would be ironic in light of the meeting of the Primates in Dar es Salaam to be held early next month when a major agenda topic is whether or not The Episcopal Church – and hence the Diocese of Virginia – should continue to be recognized as fully Anglican or moved to a diminished or separated status”

+Minns sums it up admirably: both sides see the others as Apostate only barely Christians.

What a failure for the Church of Christ – and what a Triumph for the European Neo Platonist Academy of a Thousand Years!!!

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 2:55pm GMT

Did not Bishop Minns have some responsibility to care for those clergy he led into schism? I can't see how the diocese of Virginia is responsible for providing health insurance for people who quit their jobs. (I realize that this may seem bizarre for people who live in civilized countries, but in regards to health care, the USA is a Third World country -- it is scandalous, but again, not the fault of the diocese).

Posted by Prior Aelred at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 3:18pm GMT

"More nice liberals whose supreme tolerance has been pushed over the edge by those nasty conservatives - who unreasonably insist that Christian belief..." Dave

My Dear Brother Dave,

Liberals, like me, have been tolerant of defamation, slander and crimes of hate waged against me and other LGBT Episcopalians/Anglicans (now in Nigeria/Uganda worst of all) for hundreds of years? Is that what you're commenting about?

Yes, we've been pushed over the edge and are no longer "accepting junk talk/acting-out" by nasty and bigoted selfrighteous conservatives who are anything but Christian acting and behaving as they wage their war of exclusion at OUR Church!

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 3:25pm GMT

http://info.insure.com/health/cobra.html

"Under COBRA, if you voluntarily resign from a job or are terminated for any reason other than "gross misconduct," you are guaranteed the right to continue your former employers group plan for individual or family health insurance for up to 18 months at your own expense. In many cases, your spouse and dependent children are also eligible for COBRA coverage, sometimes for as long as three years. However, individual plans — that is, plans you buy on your own, rather than through work or an association — are not subject to COBRA law, and once you lose that coverage, you won't be able to get an extension under COBRA."

It is possible that Bishop Lee is alleging that the dissident clergy and staff are guilty of gross misconduct. It is not an entirely unreasonable assertion.

Posted by Richard Lyon at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 4:12pm GMT

Bishop Minns doth protest too much, at least regarding the possibility of letters dimissory (transfers) between Virginia and Nigeria. Andrew Gerns, an priest also in Province III of TEC noted the following:

"On the other hand, all of the twenty one clergy have by their own words and actions stated that they have left the Episcopal Church and now are doing ministry under the authority of a Bishop consecrated by the Church of Nigeria. The procedures Lee have initiated simply recognizes what the clergy themselves have already said: they are no longer priests of This (The Episcopal) Church but of Another (Nigerian) Church.

No one is saying that these are bad people, or even that their orders are suddenly invalidated. The process means that they cannot function as priests in the Episcopal Church. That's all. Since they don't want to be priests in the Episcopal Church, this should neither be a problem nor a hardship for them."
(http://andrewplus.blogspot.com/2007/01/lee-inhibits-22-virginia-clergy.html)

Moreover, as Nigeria has declared itself out of communion with TEC and specifically with those bishops and dioceses too faithful to TEC (and Virginia would certainly fall within that category), I don't see logically how Nigeria *could* receive those priests by letters dimissory. They have declared communion broken. How could they accept the "good report" from Virginia? Surely Bishop Minns is aware of this.

Now, issues of insurance and specifically how federal law (COBRA) applies are matters of law. Perhaps there's been poor communication. I can't imagine, however, that Virginia intends, or that the departing clergy would ask, for violation of the law. The Diocesan Council has extended how long the diocese will officially keep them in the plan. At some point it will certainly become the responsibility of CANA or of the individual churches or clerics. Having lived under COBRA myself, it's a lot more expensive as insurance, but less than having to pay for care out of pocket. I trust this will be worked out under the rules, if not to everyone's satisfaction.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 5:35pm GMT

Richard (above). Thanks for that link. But keep scrolling.

"COBRA eligibility also extends to workers in state and local government, as well as to workers classified as independent contractors. However, the law grants an exemption from COBRA continuation rules to the District of Columbia, federal employees, certain church-related organizations, and firms employing fewer than 20 people. The IRS rules state that employers must figure part-time workers into their employee total to determine if they can claim exemption."

It could be that DoV is one of those "church-related organizations." Additionally, the clergy are not employees of the diocese. Regarding health insurance a diocese typically offers a plan and churches decide whether to participate in the plan or not -- churches have to offer comparable coverage and typically opt for participation in the diocesan plan. Don't know the details in DoV though.

Here you have a case of the employer of the employees leaving the diocese. Even if COBRA applies does it cover this case? The employee has not left the employer. And the inhibitions are not about job separations. They are about licenses to serve in the diocese.

Posted by John B. Chilton at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 5:39pm GMT

'Toleration', pluralism and diversity do not mean accepting abuse, deceit, bad faith & bad behaviour; and the violation of personal and professional boundaries with in the life of the church.

Sometimes we have to 'withstand ' the perpetrator(s) of such behaviours to his face. There is such a thing as right ordering, and the eldering of those who violate it. TEC has domocratic structures and leaders. The Cof E and the meetings of primates do not.

Your Christology (for example) may be impeccable but that is no pretext for behaving badly.

Posted by laurence at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 6:33pm GMT

As has been posted here before, in the U. S. COBRA does not apply to religious organizations. It makes no sense whatsoever for Minns & Co. to claim COBRA benefits when the law simply does not apply to them. The Diocese of Virginia is under no obligation whatsoever to allow departing employees or clergy to remain under their health insurance provider.

For those outside the U. S., all COBRA does in any event is to allow a departing employee to purchase health insurance completely at his/her own cost, from the former employer at their rates - which are usually cheaper than if the employee purchased it on his own. So, under COBRA former employees usually save a little bit on health insurance (say, 20% maybe), over purchasing it on their own.

In some places, in fact, such as my own Diocese of Massachusetts, the Diocesan health plan may actually be *more* expensive than purchasing health insurance on one's own - in our case, due to large numbers of older retired clergy on the plan.

Posted by Chad Wohlers at Saturday, 27 January 2007 at 7:43pm GMT

COBRA allows them to retain previous health benefits at their own cost, for a certain period of time. I hope +Lee can rectify this situation,

Minns misrepresented the facts. The Diocese of Va in fact extended a period for these folks to be covered while they looked for insurance, and offered help in finding it.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Sunday, 28 January 2007 at 4:39am GMT

badman wrote: "A cynical, ambitious, power seeking, worldly person would have done exactly the same thing."

Dear Badman, now I wonder if I'm following your point. I presume you are commenting on Bishop Lee's actions in making a grab at the dissident church's buildings and funds, and trying to de-frock the priests!

Posted by Dave at Sunday, 28 January 2007 at 7:57pm GMT

Actually, I think +Minns is evading the real point of this action.

+Lee is simply holding these people at their word. In other words, he's treating them as if they truly believe what they've been saying all this time about broken communion (and so on...). They've now acted on these statements (joined / taken up canonical residence with CANA and kindred bodies), which is an action that has a clear consequence under the relevant canons.

I wish commenters here would be clearer about this: +Lee is *responding* to the actions of these clergy, not launching some *new* tangent in a very long-running discussion. It has to be said that there are some (either downright mendacious or muddled-yet-well-meant) statements that assume this is some new assault on the followers of the self-proclaimed *orthodoxy* of +Minns, Duncan, Icker & Co. Let's leave aside the fact that the argument is driven by fallacy (petitio principii - repetition makes something appear true). +Lee's action is simply holding these clergy to the implication of their (oft repeated) statements, nothing more. Or are we to understand that, when it comes to matters of property and health insurance, these people really don't believe what they've been saying, or that they've never considered the possibility that their motives and claims are questionable?

Or do they believe that only they get to mete out consequences for other peoples' actions, but that there are no repercussions for their own behaviour?

Posted by kieran crichton at Monday, 29 January 2007 at 12:27pm GMT

Dave suggested he disapproved of
"Bishop Lee's actions in making a grab at the dissident church's buildings and funds"

Isn't that sub judice? The diocese says that the dissident group has purloined Episcopal property, and no doubt the lawyers will decide where legal ownership resides.

To rebuke the diocesan for playing things by the rulebook seems a bit uncharitable: I have to say that if a CofE congregation tried the same trick, they'd very clearly be out on their ear.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Monday, 29 January 2007 at 1:28pm GMT

"Or do they believe that only they get to mete out consequences for other peoples' actions, but that there are no repercussions for their own behaviour?"

Most of these congregations did not support the budget of the diocese in the last few years. When there were suggestions that seat, voice, and vote in Council be tied to financial support of the diocesan budget, as is the case in almost all dioceses, they argued against the imposition of sonsequences BECAUSE it was a matter of conscience.

Acts of civil or ecclesial disobedience without consequences: not exactly in the footsteps of Thoreau, Ghandi, and MLK, is it?

This recent behavior is of a piece with former behavior.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 29 January 2007 at 4:08pm GMT

Kieran Crichton wrote: "Or do they believe that only they get to mete out consequences for other peoples' actions, but that there are no repercussions for their own behaviour?"

Yeess! Head on the nail!

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 29 January 2007 at 9:01pm GMT

Mynsterpeost wrote: "To rebuke the diocesan for playing things by the rulebook seems a bit uncharitable"

Dear mynsterpreost, It's an [more-or-less apostate] church's rules versus faithfulness to Christian truth and moral behaviour. I think they will probably keep their buildings, due to state law, but even if they loose, they have already won!

As for the CofE, I think that Christians ARE very exposed to nasty liberals in the heirarchy. Bishops certainly don't own the buildings... but they get to decide who does every now and then! Personally I think that the buildings, and employment of clergy etc should revert to the PCC. That way churches can decide whether they want to be liberal or conservative without fear of interference from illiberal liberals (or conservatives!).

Posted by Dave at Monday, 29 January 2007 at 9:56pm GMT

Dave proposed
Personally I think that the buildings, and employment of clergy etc should revert to the PCC.

Ah, yes, Congregationalism. Don't you think there are enough congregationalists around? How odd that someone who says so much about evangelism should be so supportive of a scheme which undermines prophetic activity by ministers.....

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Monday, 29 January 2007 at 10:46pm GMT

Dave ( a non-Anglican, so not biased) believes
As for the CofE, I think that Christians ARE very exposed to nasty liberals in the heirarchy

Names, please?

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Monday, 29 January 2007 at 10:46pm GMT

Dave suggested that TEC was "more-or-less apostate"

Bet you're really glad you're not an Anglican then. What tradition are you, by the way?

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Monday, 29 January 2007 at 10:49pm GMT

"Christians ARE very exposed to nasty liberals "

Interesting. Is it only the "nasty liberals" who are not Christians, or will any liberals do?

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 30 January 2007 at 7:09pm GMT
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