Tuesday, 23 March 2004

ECUSA bishops offer plan

The ECUSA House of Bishops has completed its meeting in Texas and published its proposals for what is now called delegated episcopal pastoral oversight.
Here is the formal statement:
Caring For All The Churches
and here is the press release from ENS that describes the proposal:
Bishops propose plan for delegated episcopal pastoral oversight.
Here is the Associated Press report of this: Bishops Offer New Plan to Gay Dissenters.

“although the vote was not unanimous, an overwhelming majority of the bishops voted in favor of adopting the plan”.

Update
Houston Chronicle report Clergy devises plan to deal with gay bishop split
Washington Post Episcopal Bishops Reach Pact On Dissent
Later version of Associated Press story
Washington Times Episcopalians forge compromise
For basics of the plan, read on…

If for serious cause in the light of our current disagreements on issues of human sexuality, the bishop and rector/congregation cannot work together, we propose the following process for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight.

1) In the spirit of openness, the rector and vestry, or the canonically designated lay leadership shall meet with the bishop to seek reconciliation. After such a meeting, it is our hope that in most instances a mutually agreeable way forward will be found.

2) If reconciliation does not occur, then the rector and two-thirds of the vestry, or in the absence of a rector, two-thirds of the canonically designated lay leadership, after fully engaging the congregation, may seek from their diocesan bishop, (or the diocesan bishop may suggest) a conference regarding the appropriateness and conditions for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight.

3) After such a conference the bishop may appoint another bishop to provide pastoral oversight.

4) If no reconciliation is achieved, there may then be an appeal to the bishop who is president or vice-president of the ECUSA province in which the congregation is geographically located, for help in seeking a resolution. Those making such an appeal must inform the other party of their decision to appeal.

5) When such an appeal has been made, the provincial bishop may request two other bishops, representative of the divergent views in this church, to join with the provincial bishop to review the situation, to consider the appeal, and to make recommendations to all parties. If an episcopal visitor is to be invited, that bishop shall be a member in good standing in this Church.

6) When an agreement is reached with respect to a plan, it shall be for the purpose of reconciliation. The plan shall include expectations of all parties,especially mutual accountability. The plan shall be for a stated period of time with regular reviews.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 23 March 2004 at 2:36 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

“…an overwhelming majority of the bishops voted in favor of adopting the plan”. it is worth noting that it was a “majority of the bishops” who WERE STILL THERE who so voted. Many tradionalist bishops either did not come to the meeting or left before the vote was taken.

Posted by: Kendall Harmon at March 24, 2004 12:39 PM

So too did a majority vote to confirm VGR at last summer’s General Convention. That vote was also overwhelming (in so many ways), a 2:1 margin I think.
So, those in power then are in power now. No surprise that they are still voting alike.
Having a majority is not necessarily the same as being right.

Posted by: Bob at March 24, 2004 02:29 PM

Since there were not a large number of conservative diocesan bishops to begin with, it would be interesting to know how many stayed and how many left. It would also be interesting to know at what point those who departed made their exit. Many were there as late as Tuesday evening, so they had plenty of opportunity to make themselves heard. It would seem to me that going to the meeting, fighting for the best document you can get, and then walking away before the vote is taken is the best of both worlds from a strictly tactical point of view. It gives you influence but allows you to disassociate yourself from the finished product.
It would also be interesting to know how some of the more liberal bishops voted. It is my understanding that they were not unanimous in their support. For that reason, I think it is worth trying to see this document as the compromise that it was.

Posted by: Jim Naughton at March 24, 2004 03:53 PM

There’s no surprise here that the plan is being rejected by those who will settle for nothing less than a parallel jurisdiction. That group will be satisfied by nothing short of the equivalent of a “third province” in the CofE. This is the hardline Network group.
The real test will be if this plan can be made to serve the needs of the parishes instead of the needs of the bishops and the Network. Only time will tell.

Posted by: Roy Murphy at March 24, 2004 04:19 PM

To Roy Murphy: you say “That group will be satisfied by nothing short of the equivalent of a ‘third province’ in the CofE.” This is simply untrue. This was a terrible missed opportunity by the House of bishops. This plan is not as creative as the English plan or the proposed Canadian plan, yet our province is in a more serious crisis than theirs. The very parishes which you mention do not believe the plan to be helpful to them—also their voices were not part of the process. What is wrong with this picture?
On my blog I have the verbatim section from the ORIGINAL proposal from bishop griswold on saturday. Interestingly, it was made a great deal more cumbersome as it went along the way.

Posted by: Kendall Harmon at March 24, 2004 09:38 PM

Jim Naughton says: “Many were there as late as Tuesday evening….” Hmmm. Sorry but this is not correct, unless we get into some deep definitional struggles over “conservative” and “many.”
My concern is different than Jim Naughton’s. From a “strictly practical point of view” how is it a reasonable or fair process to have only the Presiding Bishop’s plan be the one discussed? Would not that plan ALONGSIDE a completely different plan proposed by, say, a traditionalist bishop, have been a helpful way to start out? Words like heavy handed and exclusive come to mind.

Posted by: Kendall Harmon at March 24, 2004 10:26 PM

Kendall Harmon asks: From a “strictly practical point of view” how is it a reasonable or fair process to have only the Presiding Bishop’s plan be the one discussed?
I am having trouble understanding the nature of the injustice here. As it happens, I also have trouble understanding Kendall Harmon’s continued use of the word “oppression” in his public statements about hte conflict in ECUSA. I hope I won’t be preceived as making light of people’s real struggles with this issue if I point out that in common usage, “oppression” tends to mean something a bit more dire than having to put up with a diocesan bishop who does not share my views on human sexuality.
As for the plan: if there was a competing document that did not overtly violate ECUSA’s Constitution (which cannot be changed unilaterally by the House of Bishops) the authors didn’t make much effort to circulate it before the meeting.
The Presiding Bishop’s plan, on the other hand, was drafted by his Council of Advice (which certainly has conservative members—unless the AAC now claims sole usage rights to this word) and presented at provincial meetings across the country. Many provinces had drafted responses (some of them from liberals who looked upon the proposal negatively and were, in the end, among those who stuck around to vote against it.)
It doesn’t seem the least bit unfair to me that a document which everyone had seen, and on which everyone had ample opportunity to comment, should serve as the basis for discussion.
As to the question of how many traditionalist diocesan bishops were still around, if Kendall Haromon knows exactly which bishops were still there when the vote was taken, which ones—like Bishop Duncan— participated in much of the discussion but not in the vote, and which ones stayed away, it would be wonderful if he would share that with us. Until that time, I think it remains fair to say that a significant minority of traditionalist diocesan bishops were on hand when the vote was taken.

Posted by: Jim Naughton at March 25, 2004 05:09 PM

I’m baffled by the “my way or the highway” attitude of the conservatives about alternative episcopal oversight (AEO). They seem to demand that conservative parishes be entitled to AEO on demand, regardless of the wishes of the diocesan bishop. But in an episcopal church, the bishop of each diocese is in charge, within the constraints of the constitution and canons. If the conservatives in a particular diocese can’t live with that, they’re free to leave and join a church that is organized along congregational lines. The Camp Allen compromise seems like a reasonable first attempt at a workable arrangement. Experience will tell whether tweaks are needed later, but that’s OK too.
On the underlying issue: It seems to me that the church’s governance process nowadays is much more open, transparent, and democratic — qualities which we generally regard as good things — than ever before. So I don’t understand why the early church’s decisions at (let’s say) Nicea should be sacrosanct, but the later church’s decisions at Minneapolis should be anathemized. What gives?
(This last is likely to provoke a conservative response that Nicea’s actions comported with the supreme authority of Scripture, while those of Minneapolis supposedly did not. On that point — even assuming arguendo the supremacy of Scripture — the liberals have the better of the argument.)

Posted by: D. C. Toedt at March 25, 2004 05:57 PM