Thinking Anglicans

documents from Eastern Michigan

There was another deposition in ECUSA today, this one in Eastern Michigan. It provoked a strong reaction from Forward in Faith North America which published five documents relating to this event.

The documents giving the diocesan view of this matter are reproduced here, below the fold.

And this report appeared on TLC Bishop Howe Withdraws Name from Eastern Michigan Censure Letter

Update
A further report on TLC Eastern Michigan Bishop Responds to Critics of His Deposition

August 4, 2005
Statement prior to reading the deposition of Gene Geromel as a priest in the Episcopal Church.

On February 6, 2000 The Rev. Gene Geromel and the congregation of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church voted with a vote exceeding two Thirds of their communicant population to leave the Episcopal Church. The occasion for the vote was preceded by a one-year dialogue between members of St. Bart’s vestry and members of the Diocese’s Standing Committee. The prearranged understanding was that if the adult members were to cast a vote in excess of two thirds of their communicant population, the Diocese would sell the Church buildings and Rectory to the congregation at market value.

A year prior to the vote, members of the congregation formed a legal entity, PECUSA, INC. without informing the diocese. In the year prior to the 2/6/00 vote, the congregation defaulted completely in giving their diocesan tithe, in violation of diocesan canons. The Rev. Geromel also publicly refused to receive the Bread and Wine of Holy Communion from the bishop of Eastern Michigan for more then a year up to the time of the vote stating that that he was not in communion with his bishop.

The St. Bart’s buildings, owned by the diocese, were sold to St. Bart’s in due course, and St. Bart’s became a church not recognized by the Episcopal Church.

In an act of generosity the bishop offered Gene the opportunity to remain a priest in the diocese as a licensed clergyman serving an ecumenical Church. In order for The Rev. Geromel to be licensed he had to agree to abide by the Constitution and Canons of the church and his ordination vows in which he pledged obedience to, and remains in communion with his bishop. The Re. Geromel said he could not do this in due conscience: hence the license was never granted.

Consequently, in another act of generosity the bishop withheld a deposition process for a five year period with the clearly stated hope that the Rev. Geromel might someday “return” to the Episcopal Church, or to a day when there might be a canonically appropriate way for Geromel to transfer to another duly recognized Anglican jurisdiction that was recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has upheld a long standing principle that a priest can only be transferred to another Diocese if they are called to physically work and live in that Diocese. A Priest may not function in a diocese other than their own without the other diocese’s bishop’s permission.

During these past five years, Geromel has filed three annual reports to the bishop of Eastern Michigan where he has the fragile standing of a “priest-not-in-good-­standing’ who may not function sacramentally in any Episcopal Church in Eastern Michigan. Also during this period of time the bishop has once given permission to the Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, to visit St. Bartholomew’s. Bishop Ackerman and the Bishop of Eastern Michigan have a standing agreement (which is know to Geromel) that he is welcome in Eastern Michigan as long as he sought prior permission and reported his activities to the bishop of Eastern Michigan.

In January 2005, five years after St. Bartholomew’s separation from the Episcopal Church, the Standing Committee of the diocese has asked the bishop to finalize its relations with Geromel by issuing a six-month inhibition, during which time if Geromel did not reaffirm his communal status with the bishop, a letter of deposition would be served. The charge for the inhibition is that Geromel has abandoned the Communion of the Episcopal Church.

The President of the Standing Committee reads the January letter asking for the bishop to serve a letter of inhibition.

The letter of deposition is read and signed and served.

Letter from the Standing Committee

THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF EASTERN MICHIGAN STANDING COMMITTEE
924 North Niagara Street
Saginaw, Ml 48607
877-752-6020 Fax 989-752-6120

Dean Bedford, Jr., President
The Rev. Peter Cominos, Vice-Pres.
The Rev. Gail L. Vince, sect.

08 January 2005

To The Rt. Rev. Edwin M. Leidel, Jr.

On Sunday, 06 February 2000 the Rev. Gene Geromel led the people of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in a vote to separate their congregation from the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan and the Episcopal Church in the USA. Subsequently, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Eastern Michigan sold the church and rectory property to the congregation at lair market value. The congregation now calls itself St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church, but has no valid canonical relationship to ECUSA.

In a pastoral letter to the diocese, dated 07 February 2000, Bishop Leidel stated:

The Rev. Gene Geromel is an executive officer of an organization called “Forward in Faith North America”. It is the hope of this organization to implement a non-geographic American Anglican Province to co-exist with ECUSA as a legitimate Anglican diocese of conservative Anglicans, I personally find it hard to believe that such an entity can exist without causing confusion and harm to the missionary intent of God’s work within Anglicanism. God and Time will tell. Until then, it is my intent to remain connected (if not “in communion”) with the Rev. Gene Geromel and the people of St. Bartholomew’s.

After the publication of the Windsor Report it is becoming clear that an extra-territorial jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church is in all likelihood, never going to happen.

In a letter to the Rev. Geromel, dated 26 July 2001, Bishop Leidel stated:

It always remains my hope and prayer that, at some time, Fr. Geromel and the people of St. Bartholomew’s will return to a status of full membership in good standing within the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan.

It is now clear that neither the Rev. Geromel nor the people of St. Bartholomew’s have any intention to return to the fold of the Diocese of Eastern Michigan and the Episcopal Church.

In the same 26 July communication Rev. Geromel was invited to remain in communion with Bishop Leidel by stating his willingness to be in communion with Bishop Leidel. Rev. Geromel has never responded to that invitation and he has in the past refused to take communion from Bishop Leidel prior to the February 2600 separation.

Having heard recently that the Standing Committee might bring charges of “Abandonment of the Communion of this Church against him, Rev. Geromel wrote a letter to Bishop Leidel asking that the Bishop share the letter with the Standing Committee include the following warning:

“if you choose to raise the issue of any abandoning the communion of this Church’….it would bring with it publicity more detrimental to you than to me, especially in an area where yon have already lost at least a third of the Episcopalians and nearly all the orthodox clergy.”

In the same letter Rev. Geromel also charged that he has been unjustly treated in not being granted a transfer to a Network diocese in California while continuing to function as the pastor of St. Bartholomew’s within the geographic limits of the Diocese of Eastern Michigan. Bishop Leidel’s refusal to do this was reaffirmed in a 27 September 2004 resolution of the House of Bishops, which states:

The House of Bishops rejects the practice of transfer of canonical residence to allow a priest or bishop to exercise ordained ministry outside of the geographical boundaries of his or her canonical license.

In light of all of the above the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan unanimously declares that it has determined that the Rev. Gene Geromel has abandoned the Communion of this Church by an open renunciation of the Discipline of this Church on the following grounds:

1. He has led his congregation out of the Diocese and Episcopal Church.
2. He acknowledges that he is out of communion with his bishop.
3. He has shown no sign of wanting to return to the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Eastern Michigan as a priest in good standing.
4. He has not participated in the Councils of the Episcopal Church for over five years.

Yours Faithfully in Christ,
(signed by Dean Bedford, Gail Vince, William McClure, Dana Howard, Charles Geagan, Pete Jungquist, Charles Leibrand, Elsa Pressentin, and Glenn Stone.)

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan

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JayPeterMartin HambrookCraig GoodrichJ. C. Fisher Recent comment authors
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J. C. Fisher
Guest

FIVE YEARS??? :-0

If ECUSA has a problem, it’s that too many of its bishops have been *doormats* for too darn long (that “liberal guilt” thang, I suspect?).

They’ve already got the property. Depose Reverend Geromel already, and be done with them all (as *Episcopalians*, which is to say as “Anglicans”. As just another Fundamentalist church with which to have cooperative relations—for a food bank or such—that’s fine).

“Depart in peace”

Tim
Guest

J. C. Fisher writes:

> FIVE YEARS??? :-0

Quite!

Is it me or is there some feeling that the St Bart’s acted a little underhand here? What’s wrong with openly approaching your bishop and saying “sorry dude, we want to go our separate way”, in a polite and honest kind of way without having to default on your tithe as the first they know of it?

Counting the steps from “legal entity” to 1 Cor. 6:, now…

Laurence K. Wells+
Guest

It’s really all about money, now isn’t it. Everything would have been hunky-dorey if they had just paid those diocesan tithes. The liberals are possibly acquainted with the notion of a “higher good,” a moral imperative which transcends human statutes, even (horrors!) Canon Law. If that concept is acknowledged, why should St Bart’s pay “tithes” (Melchisedek must be laughing) to an organization which runs up big legal bills suing churches?

Derek
Guest

I have a wonderful friend who’s a great priest. He’s a strong, Bible-based evangelical preacher, he celebrates the sacraments with grace and integrity, upholds the disciplinary canons, and cares well for the people under his pastoral care. I don’t receive the sacrament from him, of course, because he’s Roman Catholic. He’s not part of the Anglican Communion and shouldn’t be. He rejects our orders as invalid and believes we err in not acknowledging the bishop of Rome; our table fellowship is thus limited to beer and pizza rather than bread and wine. So often when stories of these depositions appear,… Read more »

Padraic
Guest
Padraic

Another bishop and standing committee with delusions of thinking that they count.

David Huff
Guest
David Huff

Derek has made an excellent point about a bit of nonsensical “spin” that gets thrown out *way* too often in these matters. Being an Episcopal / Anglican clergyperson involves behaving by a certain set of rules. Indeed, they make a solemn promise to do so before God. Following those rules and being “a good Christian” are not sets that overlap very much. One can be a good, faithful Christian and not like those rules nor choose to follow them, just as one *can* follow them and be faithful. But if you want to be an Episcopal / Anglican clergyperson, then… Read more »

Murray
Guest
Murray

Hard to make the case that a man has abandoned a church completely when he is at the same time licensed as a priest in 7 of its dioceses.

Craig Goodrich
Guest
Craig Goodrich

While agreeing with the posters who see some overreaction to this event from traditionalists, I have to take issue with several of them who equate Anglicanism with Episcopalianism.

Episcopalianism nationally has become what King’s Chapel, Boston, has been since 1789: Anglican in liturgy, Unitarian in theology. Congratulations; we’ve finally caught up…

Craig

texanglican
Guest

This seems to be the key section from the statement read before deposition: “…a day when there might be a canonically appropriate way for Geromel to transfer to another duly recognized Anglican jurisdiction that was recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has upheld a long standing principle that a priest can only be transferred to another Diocese if they are called to physically work and live in that Diocese. A Priest may not function in a diocese other than their own without the other diocese’s bishop’s permission.” The deposing bishop refuses to… Read more »

matt
Guest
matt

Sorry, Craig, that troubles me a bit. I’m a UK layman and not that familiar with american anglican/episcopalian theological trends. Bless the unitarians, but as a ‘liberal’ UK anglican, I regard unitarianist theology as being as close to my faith as Mauritanian frog juggling (and yes, I’m sure a traditionalist might quip, ‘oh, that’s what I thought you were following -ho ho).

What can you tell me, where can you direct me, that shows exactly how episcopalian theology in the US has become akin to unitarian theology. I need to know. This is important, it would change things for me.

thanks

Martin Hambrook
Guest
Martin Hambrook

matt: Many people have commented on the effective unitarian character of Ecusa theology. There is little clear assent to Niceno-Constantinopolitan or Chalcedonian orthodoxy in Ecusa circles and much that denies it: e.g. a non-incarnationist, adoptionist christology and an impersonal doctrine of the Spirit. That’s why the charge of unitarianism is often made and rarely denied. How could it when Johannine theology is often repudiated in liberal circles? Spong is the most outstanding example of this trend, though even theism is a bit of a stretch for some of his pronouncements. +Chane of Washington is almost certainly a unitarian, to judge… Read more »

David Huff
Guest
David Huff

Craig,

Using the word “Unitarian” the way you have done is not accurate (I’ll ignore that fact that you also meant it in a derogatory manner).

My mainline Episcopal parish is firmly Trinitarian, and we can say the Creeds w/o crossing our fingers behind our backs. So, therefor, we are not “Unitarians.”

John Wilkins
Guest

Craig, what do you know about unitarianism? Is this an insult? It’s clearly not accurate. We say the nicene creed, and our entire theology is trinitarian.

You might mean “universalist,” but some evangelicals are universalists also. Be precise.

Perhaps you are making a cultural statement.

Jay
Guest
Jay

Aren’t conservatives usually the ones who exalt authority and obedience, and decry situation ethics? …who declare that the decline in personal responsibility, and refusing to accept the consequences of one’s own actions, is morally reprehensible? Let’s say, hypothetically, that we have a president who lied us into a war, and whose economic policies oppress the poor and shift wealth to the rich. I’d consider such leadership to be immoral, perhaps even evil, perhaps even out of step with the principles on which this country was built (i.e. the Ten Commandments)! So I decide to stop paying income taxes, and watch… Read more »

Craig Goodrich
Guest
Craig Goodrich

John asks: “.. what do you know about unitarianism? Is this an insult? It’s clearly not accurate. We say the nicene creed, and our entire theology is trinitarian.” John, my sister’s funeral was held in a Unitarian church (in King’s Chapel, as a matter of fact); a family friend of long standing comes from three generations of Unitarian ministers; and I’ve done a great deal of reading on the origins of liberal theology in the US, which involves a lot of discussion of Channing, Parker, and other Unitarian luminaries. The King’s Chapel service is beautiful and thoroughly Anglican in format.… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
Guest

Episcopalians—Left, Right or Center—are NOT “unitarians”!

Enough with this nonsense.

Craig Goodrich
Guest
Craig Goodrich

Very well, then, J.C., how about The Church of Jesus Christ of the Modern-Day Nice (see http://firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0506/opinion/turner.html — given that as a practical matter, our teaching is determined by prophetic revelation to our noisiest bishops, and that we have added to the Scriptural canon the editorial pages of the New York Times?

J. C. Fisher
Guest

“First Things”, Craig?

Please.

If there is *reputable* news about the Anglican Communion (including ECUSA), Simon will have a link to it *here*.

I, and all Episcopalians, stand by the *Trinitarianism* of the BCP. Period.

Craig Goodrich
Guest
Craig Goodrich

JC,
Please allow me to publicly apologize for recommending to you so disreputable a source as the Dean of Yale’s Berkeley Divinity School, and to express my appreciation for your rejection of most of the proposed new liturgies on the grounds of the modalistic implications of their “inclusive language.”

Private matters taken care of, we now return you to the usual melange of imprecations and recriminations…

Craig

Martin Hambrook
Guest
Martin Hambrook

JC Fisher writes: ‘I, and all Episcopalians, stand by the *Trinitarianism* of the BCP. Period.’ I am very glad to hear this – I presume you mean the BCP of 1662? This speaks very clearly of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (not the de-gendered modalism of ‘Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer’) because it is posited on the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds. May I take it that you havwe no problem in affirming these creeds which arer enjoined by the 1662 BCP? You will remember that on another thread I questioned why you seemed to be chary of using… Read more »

Peter
Guest
Peter

Hard as it is for me to admit it, after praying so long for the unity of the church–I long for the Akinola’s, Duncan’s, and Iker’s of the world to go off and form their “No One But Us” communion in Alexandria. If individuals want to follow them out of ECUSA and the Anglican Communion, fine–that’s their choice. What they don’t get to do is ransack the store on the way out and keep ECUSA property. If they are so devoted to what they claim to believe, the property shouldn’t be stopping them. And yet…they haven’t left yet. Wonder why???… Read more »

Jay
Guest
Jay

On reputation of sources: Philip Turner is the former Dean of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. He currently serves as Vice President of the Anglican Communion Institute. (Oh yeah, that “Yale dude” (ooooo, street cred) whose current gig ACI called for the resignations of both +Griswold and +Robinson. Okay. Righteous. Respectable. And too bad about that.) Like so many reasserter writings, this article actually makes a lot of sense (straightforward evangelical dogma) until the conclusions start being made about 80% of the way into the argument. Then, sudden disconnect from the logic, and the tired slander reappears: “terms such… Read more »