Thinking Anglicans

more on DEPO and Connecticut

Nine days later, there is no further news of who else will serve on the Panel of Reference. However, via the Living Church we do know something more about how Peter Carnley sees it working: Archbishop Carnley: Panel will aid Mediation Process.

…The Panel of Reference will be an independent body, Archbishop Carnley said. It will offer pastoral advice and mediation. It is not an adversarial processes leading to a judgment. It will work with some of the differences experienced by parishes, dioceses, and provinces. Services will be offered to a national church at the request of its Primate. Participation will be voluntary.

In cases when an alternative bishop has been requested, Archbishop Carnley prefers to think of it as “alternative episcopal ministry” rather than “alternative episcopal oversight.” The diocesan bishop still has jurisdiction, but another bishop will provide ministry to the parish, diocese, or province in question.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will refer requests to the panel. It has not been decided whether to request services through their bishop or directly to Canterbury, Archbishop Carnley stated.

Archbishop Williams will send letters of invitation soon to a short list of candidates for the other panel members. It is intended to have membership representing the geography of the entire Anglican Communion. Consideration will be given to gender and the different orders of ministry. Lay members are likely to be canon lawyers. Theological experts may be consulted, according to Archbishop Carnley, who explained that the Anglican Communion Office will probably provide a secretary and legal advisor.

The first meeting of the Panel of Reference may be held in July, although Archbishop Carnley said most work will be done electronically to save costs. Work will probably be divided among subgroups, instead of the entire panel dealing with every case. The entire panel will probably only meet together once a year or so…

We also have more from Connecticut. An ENS release,written by the director for communications and media in that diocese, says: Connecticut – Question of authority unresolved.

Whether or not six priests will acknowledge the authority of the diocesan bishop is the central issue of an ongoing dispute in Connecticut.

The “Connecticut Six,” as they have become known in the media, want to be released from their ordination vows of obedience to Diocesan Bishop Andrew D. Smith, with whom they disagree about Smith’s support of the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003. The six, all rectors of congregations, are also demanding suspension of selected canons governing financial obligations, ordination procedures, and clergy succession…

The controversy in Connecticut is widely seen as part of a strategy by the American Anglican Council (AAC), and its affiliate the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, to realign the Anglican Communion by replacing the Episcopal Church USA with a network of conservative dioceses and parishes. At one point, it appeared that the six rectors and their congregations wanted to create a “mini-diocese” within Connecticut.

Last spring, in response to their request, Smith offered to work with the six conservative parishes using the DEPO model — a temporary measure of approximately two years during which Smith would delegate some of his authority for pastoral care to a conservative bishop agreeable to both sides. During that time, the parish and bishop would continue to work intensively at reconciling their differences. Smith has spoken with several conservative bishops willing to serve as a delegated bishop for the parishes…

Additionally, two letters to the editor of the Living Church from clergy in that diocese, criticise even more strongly the stance taken by the “Connecticut Six”. These are in reply to a Living Church editorial of 1 May headlined Harsh Treatment. The letters, which have not appeared on the TLC website but are circulating on many email lists, are reproduced below the fold.

Remarkable Restraint

The editorial titled “Harsh Treatment” [TLC, May 1] regarding Bishop Andrew Smith and the “Connecticut Six” (hauntingly like the “Chicago Eight” to me!) was slanted, unfair and factually wrong.

What the editorial neglected to acknowledge was a letter from the six parishes to Bishop Smith dated May 27, 2004, in which requirements for con­versation were limited by outrageous demands including “repentance” of Bishop Smith for his role in Bishop Robinson’s consecration and the ordina­tion of openly gay clergy in Connecticut. That, of course, Bishop Smith would not submit to. In addition, the letter required suspension of the canons of the diocese regarding contributions by parishes to the mission and ministry of the diocese as well as a request that clerical succession at those parishes and the selection of candidates for ordination be given to the parishes themselves. Bishop Smith could not violate canon law for those parishes.

The editorial also neglected to mention that Bishop Smith has always been willing to appoint a DEPO bishop for the parishes, but they refuse to accept anyone he would appoint simply because he was the one appointing.

Bishop Smith has shown remarkable restraint and patience and continues to offer DEPO to the parishes if they will only conform to the requirements for that ministry.

How long will the Church permit some folks to frustrate and block the ongoing mis­sion and ministry of the people of God to God’s world? When will we stop worrying so much about what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms and start redirecting our energy and passion to what people experience in the public sphere of their lives? Enough is enough.

(The Rev.) James Bradley
St. John’s Church
Waterbury Conn.

Second letter:

The editorial, “Harsh Treatment,” is a remarkable demonstration of the ability of six priests and their supporters to “spin” a story.

They paint themselves as the victims of an arbitrary and capricious bishop who will honor neither due process nor the irenic initiatives of the Anglican Communion. The facts show otherwise:

They rejected several bishops they were offered, all of them conservative and all of them nay votes on affirming the Robinson election. Contrary to the guidelines, they sought to keep the bishop from meeting with their people to be certain their people also wanted what their clerical leaders sought. (It was discovered in three of six cases there was not agreement.) Also contrary to the guidelines, they reject the authority of their bishop in non-pastoral matters.

What Bishop Smith can and has granted is time and patience—more than a year since their rejection of anything but their own way. You may think his use of inhibition inappropriate. I regard it as gracious, one more sign of his conciliatory attitude.

Their behavior warranted deposition for violation of their ordination vows more than a year ago.

As for the Windsor Report, such cooperation as it has received is eloquent testimony to the patience and grace under fire of the American Church, as its provisions are interpreted to have an authority foreign to the traditions of the Communion. To invoke them in this manner is to proclaim not that its disintegration is to be feared, but that it has already occurred.

(The Rev.) Stanley C. Kemmerer
Burlington, Conn.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x