Comments: More about the South Carolina election

I quite liked the Telling Secrets article, the author had taken a step back to look at the "bigger picture".

At one point Elizabeth wrote "We are losing our minds – the “mind of Christ” – which is not about ‘group think’ but about holding in tension the paradox and mystery of the reality of two very different truths..."

It reminds me of one respected elder's advice that interpreting the bible is like walking between two railway tracks. If you take the advice too far you end up off the rails on one side, but if you take the advice too far the other way, you again end up off the rails.

I've just read the Inclusive Church's patron speech from February. http://affirmingcatholicism.org.uk/pages/default.asp?id=7&sID=63 At one point he commented "I believe that this is what’s behind our current problems in the Anglican Communion: many of the tax collectors of yesterday have become the Pharisees of today. They want today’s tax collectors excluded from the family of God and from the Lord’s table. They now deny others the same mercy and grace that was so freely given to them yesterday."

It parallels Elizabeths conclusion "We are losing our sense of our radical, mutual interdependence in Christ which is being exchanged for the false security of "compliance" and "submission"..."

The voters to have the right to vote for a bishop that is going to represent their interests. If the puritans can not accept an inclusive bishop or the parishes do not want a puritanical bishop, then the impasse will continue until there is a resolution by separation. Both parties will be diminished, but if that is the only workable solution then it is best that it is done so that all parties can get on with tending to their flocks. I do hope the puritans will leave the riff-raff alone and not arrange to harass their younger cousins. (After all, they wouldn't want to look like those stone-throwing Jews that made the disciples lives a misery after Jesus' crucifixion, would they?)

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Sunday, 18 March 2007 at 5:13am GMT

Cheryl
What do you mean an "inclusive" bishop? These so called inclusive bishops accept nobody into their clubs except those who agree with them!! I am contantly amazed by the inability of "inclusive" people to see just how exclusive they are. As I have said before (and no doubt will say again) fundametalism rules in the corridors of power in TEC that make the likes of Akinola look like Neville Chamberlain

Posted by Athos at Sunday, 18 March 2007 at 9:13am GMT

This is a sad situation, and no one comes out looking good. Nor does this engender trust at a time when it is in short supply. The conspiracy theorists are now invited out of the woodwork, which only adds insult to injury.

Our Presiding Bishop had a tough call to make, knowing, I'm sure, that she would be tarred for not "bending" far enough to confirm the validity of all the consents. Whether the canonical requirements of her office allow for such flexibility, I very much doubt. The deadline had already been extended for three days. And had she offered such flexibility, this would have only cast a cloud of questions over the validity of the consent process as the consecration moved forward. ++Katharine, less than a year into her nine year term, keeps facing these painful decisions with unflinching clarity. Her dignity and grace in such circumstances is truly admirable. Prayers go with her.

South Carolina now faces the disheartening slog of "doing it all over again." They also face tough questions about why the process wasn't more carefully monitored internally, especially given its contentious nature. . .

Mark Lawrence+ and his family have been raked over the coals, too, with little reference to his gifts for ordained ministry. However much I may disagree with his positions both ecclesiological and theological, my heart goes out to him. He willingly put himself forward for discernment through a minefield of conflict at this particular juncture in Episcopal and Anglican history. . .

Prayers go with all of them.

More thoughts at http://caughtbythelight.blogspot.com/2007/03/no-win-scenario.html

Posted by Richard Helmer at Sunday, 18 March 2007 at 2:30pm GMT

Inclusive types have long included those outside their ranks. In the Church of England, particularly since the rise of the Oxford Movement, the Broad Church movement was designed to keep the traditionalist Catholics, traditionalist Protestants, themselves and radicals within the one broad organisation. This has been inherited, and it is why liberals, as they are now called, get tarred with the brush of ineffectiveness - and indeed put up with a great deal more than any ideologue might.

What is different now is that the outward pushing forces are so great, and the collapse of traditionalist Catholicism so clear, that the old Broad Church is just another group, and also radical theology has pushed further outward itself. The new Conversionist Protestants are demanding a control and purity that even the Open Evangelicals cannot meet, and they are incapable of taking on mediation between the Conversionists and the liberals because the Conversionists do not want unity but uniformity on their terms.

I've said it before that those who demand uniformity are rather quick to identify boundaries of the inclusive types, when it is the Conversionists who are the Militant Tendency of the Anglican Church. The tendency towards schism, the push for purity, the finding of an issue to represent other issues, are all coming from that side who cannot live and let live.

So let's be clear: the boundaries of the inclusive types are as of nothing compared with those at the other end of the spectrum.

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 18 March 2007 at 3:18pm GMT

I agree with the tone of some of the comment here - it is very sad that the necessary votes of confirmation were not given - especially since the conservative/trad side did not do the same to Gene Robinson. I hope all the so-called 'inclusive' people wake up to the contradiction and the fundamentalist non-inclusive way they treat those with whom they disagree. The presiding bishop doesn't look good on this one either. She should have said NO to the bullying in Tanzania and YES to the candidate the Holy Spirit had suggested to the people of South Carolina. This kind of behaviour does not bode well for the future. As the saying goes, there is nothing more illiberal than SOME liberals...and genuine liberals should condemn such illiberality.

Posted by Neil at Sunday, 18 March 2007 at 4:25pm GMT

"... it is very sad that the necessary votes of confirmation were not given - especially since the conservative/trad side did not do the same to Gene Robinson."

I'm not quite sure what your point it. +Gene's election by N.H. was consented to by the actions of General Convention, since it fell within the time period for that to be the process rather than the one SC undertook. All of the rules for consents were followed correctly at gencon and none of the rules were bent.

In the SC case, the diocesan bishops sent their yay/nay to the PB directly.

The Standing Committees of the TEC sent their votes to the Standing Committee of SC.

It was the duty of that body to make sure that both the substance [only a majority of the Standing Committee - not a majority of those voting if less than the whole body - counts, e.g.]and the form [signitures of all voting on actual paper] were correct.

They had a sufficiently long period to do this - 120 days I think - and even so, the PB gave an extra 3 days for mail postmarked on the last day of that period to get to New York.

Evidently, the Standing Committee of SC did not carefully examine all the materials they got from the other Standing Committees and sent defective ballots to the PB. This has probably happened before, but because the candidate garnered the barest majority needed to elect, the defective ballots made it impossible for the PB to declare the candidate elected.

Since one can send time-sensitive documents long distances in a short period of time via USPS Priority Mail, FedEx, UPS, etc., there is no excuse for the Standing Committee of SC so royally fouling things up.

It's nobody's fault but theirs.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Sunday, 18 March 2007 at 6:30pm GMT

Neil,

Are suggesting that the presiding bishop should have simply disregarded the canonical requirements for determining valid votes to consent? She does not have the power to take that step.

Posted by Richard Lyon at Sunday, 18 March 2007 at 6:54pm GMT

I would have thought that the US, land of the free and the vexatious litigant, would be aware even in Church circles of the huge risk involved in ignoring legal provision. Even on this side of the pond, we're aware of the legal shenanigans going on between seceding congregations, TEC etc etc. Would ANYONE in their right mind proceed with a consecration so visibly open to legal challenge? Only a reckless idiot.

The blame lies fairly and squarely on the SC bureacracy, and if I were a SC Episcopalian I'd be demanding explanations, not of the PB, nor looking for a Liberal COnspiracy, but of the diocesan apparatus who have failed deplorably in doing the job they're paid for. Sheer incompetence cannot shift the blame onto someone trying to prevent further trouble downstream. If Mark Lawrence is as dear to the SC Church as they keep saying, then they can start the process again - and do it PROPERLY this time!

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Sunday, 18 March 2007 at 6:55pm GMT

Surely, a Presiding Bishop has not mandate to "say YES" to a Bishop electus, whatever that would be.

It's for the Diocesan Bishops and the Standing Committees to consent. Separately.

50% + 1 is what is required. On paper. Signed.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 18 March 2007 at 7:53pm GMT

"Inclusive churches" are not the only ones including those outside their ranks. On January 4th 2007, the Washington Post published a piece on the "secessionist" Virginia churches which included the following statements:

"These days, Truro is a magnet for conservatives across the Washington area, and the percentage of "cradle" Episcopalians among its 2,000 regular worshipers has dropped steadily. In the 1980s, more than two-thirds of its members had been raised Episcopalian, according to church surveys. Today, fewer than 40 percent grew up in the church."

"At least two-thirds of the worshipers are Methodists, Presbyterians or Baptists, and there is no pressure on them to be confirmed as Episcopalians, said the Rev. Rick Wright, associate rector.

"Wright said the diverse membership of both congregations illustrates one of the great changes in American religion of the past half-century: The divisions between denominations are far less important today than the divisions within denominations.

"I tend to feel very comfortable rubbing shoulders with folks at McLean Bible or Columbia Baptist . . . that are real orthodox, evangelical, biblical churches," said Truro's chief warden, or lay leader, Jim Oakes, referring to two Northern Virginia megachurches. "We share core beliefs. I think I would be more comfortable with them than with anyone I might run into at an Episcopal Diocesan Council meeting."

The URL for the piece, which contains much else that is interesting, is:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/03/AR2007010301952.html

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Sunday, 18 March 2007 at 11:35pm GMT

Cynthia, for the sake of accuracy, the rules were in fact bent at GC2003 with regards to the election of Gene Robinson. The announcement was given to the House of Bishops by (a gloating) Frank Griswold after the House of Deputies had adjourned for the day. Strictly speaking, this should have been kept secret until the House of Deputies was in session the next day.

Now, this is not the same thing, he was going to become a bishop whether it was announced that night or the next morning, but it did establish that when a PB wants to bend the rules he/she is perfectly able to, and even if it is not actually allowed, no one is going to stop them.

Posted by James Crocker at Monday, 19 March 2007 at 1:36am GMT

I think the PB made the only call she could. Since there were so many technicalities w/ the vote it was probably best for every one to just start over. If she certified the election as-is, there would have been too many questions that would have nagged Lawrence+;s ministry. And I think she was wise to make the decision before the meetings this weekend.

There seem to be two cascading issues here:
1) SCs that withheld consent for what appear to be political reasons. (One wonders if some people are getting nervous about the eventual HOB meeting to respond to the Communique. Could the nose count be closer than some people are comfortable with?)

2) SCs - and esp. the SC SC - who were unable to ensure procedure was followed.

Let's hope the do-over is a cleaner affair.

Posted by Chris at Monday, 19 March 2007 at 4:01am GMT

Thanks for the link lapinb. Interesting... Bizarre!

Some quotations :-

Unlike many Episcopal churches nationally, neither Truro nor The Falls Church was active in supporting the civil rights movement or in protesting the Vietnam war.'



"I don't remember any political sermons at all," said Al Long, 80, who has been a member of The Falls Church since 1959. "We go there to find out what the Bible says and how we're supposed to live and relate to each other and the Lord. . . . And that's it."

Beginning in the 1970s, though, Truro embraced the antiabortion movement. It also started a program to help those who wanted to leave what it calls the "homosexual lifestyle."

OK-- so
'How we're supposed to live and realate to each other' has absolutely nothing then, to do with the US waging war on Vietnam, or on its own black sitizens ?

WTF is that about ? I just don't get it. I really REALLY hope this isn't true Christianity. It sounds so self-serving and complacent and irrelevant beyond the pietistic coterie.

Am I wrong ?

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Monday, 19 March 2007 at 4:50am GMT

Inclusivity doesn't mean we abandon all Church discipline. Discipline is indeed necessary to preserve God's hospitality to all. The issue with Mark Lawrence has always been that he seems not fully to recognize the authority of the Episcopal Church or the vows that he has taken and would take again to uphold its doctrine, discipline, and worship. No one is suggesting that he is not a welcome member of the Church. We are suggesting that he needs to be able to take a bishop's vows without equivocation in order to serve as a bishop in the Episcopal Church. If he were to just calm down, he could be easily reelected and receive the consents in the proper canonical form. For the life of me, I can't see why he got as many as he did.

Posted by Bill Carroll at Monday, 19 March 2007 at 6:05am GMT

"Now, this is not the same thing, "

Precisely.

To equate the two is what we call straining at gnats.

I wasn't there, so I can't comment on whether or not the PB was "gloating."

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 19 March 2007 at 11:42am GMT

The TEC is so inclusive it literally is risking being destroyed from within. By allowing Duncan, Iker, Schofield, and others to remain members of the House of Bishops and in charge of entire dioceses the TEC absolutely allows the fox to guard the hen house. If by some chance a progressive became a bishop in a conservative church, how long would they last?

And TEC is accused of not being inclusive - wow!

Posted by Dallas Bob at Monday, 19 March 2007 at 3:58pm GMT

Let's be very, very clear here. A "consent" without signatures is no consent at all. A consent by email is no consent at all. One person could create an email and make it look like it came from the standing committee of a diocese. One person could take a piece of letterhead and type a "consent" upon it. The requirement for signatures makes the forgery at least a prosecutable crime. It raises the bar.

SC had three extra days to get the bad consents regularized. They failed to do so. Either because they weren't true consents or because they were deliberately defective. I would hope that a SC wouldn't stoop to that kind of passive-aggressive behavior, but I am continually amazed at the kinds of actions church people can self-justify.

Posted by ruidh at Monday, 19 March 2007 at 4:32pm GMT

James, you comment "...The announcement was given to the House of Bishops by (a gloating) Frank Griswold after the House of Deputies had adjourned for the day. Strictly speaking, this should have been kept secret until the House of Deputies was in session the next day."

What rule are you referring to?

Posted by Tobias at Monday, 19 March 2007 at 5:23pm GMT

Tobias, it's the Rule of No-Liberal-Gloating

(it must have been a tremendous relief after the eleventh hour attack upon Gene Robinson's integrity and therefore candidature, during GC.)

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Monday, 19 March 2007 at 6:28pm GMT

Gloating

An offshoot of the well-known irregular verb:

"I see right prevail."
"You get your own way"
"He/She/It gloats"

Posted by Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Tuesday, 20 March 2007 at 2:56pm GMT

Thanks for the irregular verb conjugation, David.

I notice there is a good deal of irregularity in ultra-right-wing christian circles, with special forms for us of primates, Duncaites and in South Carolina --- complete with declensions of nouns like 'homosexualist' etc.

Good regular verbs like amare seem to get pushed out in the verbal jungle of aggressive word-acts.

viz.
amo, amas, amat,
amarmus, amartis . amant

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 20 March 2007 at 4:52pm GMT

Seriously, I am interested in knowing what rule was violated by Bishop Griswold in announcing (gloatingly or not) the results of the ballot of bishops with jurisdiction consenting to the election of then-Canon Robinson. Most observers have noted that the rules surrounding his election and consent process were scrupulously observed, and this is the first suggestion I've seen to the contrary. I'm not familiar with the rule to which James Crocker is referring here, and would welcome a reference.

Posted by Tobias at Tuesday, 20 March 2007 at 9:17pm GMT
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