Thinking Anglicans

Diocese of Albany considers same-sex marriages

Updated to include further letter from Bishop Love

The Albany Times-Union reported earlier this week, following extended interviews with Bishop William Love and other members of the Albany diocese: Facing a schism: A bishop, gay marriage and the Episcopal diocese of Albany.

… this past July, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church issued Resolution B012, a compromise aimed at allowing gay couples to marry at their home churches in the eight dissenting dioceses across the country – Albany among them – where gay marriage remained forbidden.  In response, Albany Bishop William Love issued a soberly worded letter calling the resolution “problematic and potentially damaging,” adding, “The vast majority of the clergy and people of the Diocese, to include myself, are greatly troubled by it.”

He called for a special meeting of clergy – scheduled for Thursday at the Christ the King Spiritual Life Center in Greenwich.  What may come of it, no one knows – not clergy, not laypeople, not Love himself, who sat for a two-hour-and-15-minute interview one Friday morning in August. From his standpoint he’s the one now trapped in canonical limbo, “where our diocesan canons state one thing, and the General Convention says something else. And we have to figure out how to deal with that tension.”

But no matter what their role in the church or where they stand on the issue of gay marriage, nearly all of the 19 people who commented for this story by phone or email described a diocese in the thick of complex, ongoing and difficult change. Love was blunt in his own assessment: “We’re in the midst of a major schism.”

Before the meeting yesterday, Leander Harding wrote an article for Covenant, titled Being Disarmed in which he said:

Bishop Bill Love and the clergy of the Diocese of Albany will meet today (Sep. 6) to discuss our response to the actions of the latest General Convention. The choices seem rather straightforward to me. Either we make our peace with serving in a church that endorses same-sex marriage as part of its normative teaching, and we make an accommodation for those parishes in favor of such rites. Or we leave individually or in some corporate sense, as has been the case with Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, San Joaquin, and South Carolina.

In the time I have been in the diocese I have never heard the bishop or any of the leading clergy counsel secession. Anything like that would in my view be an institutional disaster. We are a diocese primarily made up of struggling small-town churches. We are part of the Rust Belt, and the economic turnaround has yet to appear in most of our communities. The major regional export is young people. A healthy dose of bitter controversy would be just the thing to sink our little fleet of ships already struggling to stay afloat.

Overall, I think our diocese is strong in faith and spiritual vitality, but institutionally we are fragile and weak. We don’t have many people, we don’t have much money, our missionary context is a combination of dying rural communities and the see city, which ranks as one of the most secular in the country. The theological convictions of the bishop and a majority of the clergy in the diocese are vastly out of sync with the majority of the Episcopal Church in theology, ethos, and style…

So far there is no substantive report of the meeting, though a press release is promised soon. The Albany Times-Union had only this: Albany Episcopal Diocese discusses resolution on same-sex marriages.

…Albany Bishop William Love, who spoke with The Times Union following the meeting, said the time was used to pray, worship and converse in private.

“Today was a chance for us to come together and for me to be able to hear from the clergy of the diocese and for them to be able to hear from me,” Love said. “It gave us an opportunity to come together as brothers and sisters of Christ and just say, ‘OK, this is what was put before us,’ and to figure out how best to be faithful to the lord and work through these issues.”

Love said the meeting was held in an executive session but a press release on the generalities of the discussion will be put out soon…

Update

Episcopal Café has published the full text of a letter from Bishop Love: Albany clergy meet… no defined path forward yet.

…As I mentioned in my letter of invitation to the clergy, the purpose of the meeting was NOT for me to issue a proclamation at that time on how B012 will be carried out in the Diocese of Albany, but rather for me to share with them some of my thoughts regarding B012; to clarify my understanding of what it does and doesn’t say; and to give me a chance to listen to the thoughts and concerns of the clergy.

Ultimately, as the Bishop, I will make a decision regarding my response to B012 and how it will be dealt with in the Diocese of Albany. That decision will be made thoughtfully and prayerfully and will be openly shared with the whole Diocese prior to December 2 nd .

While, I know there are some who would like me to simply say today what I am going to do, it is not simply a matter of being for or against same-sex marriage. As a result of the complexity of B012, there are a multitude of implications not only for same-sex couples wishing to be married in their home parish, but also for the clergy and parishes involved; for my role and ministry as Bishop; for the Diocese of Albany and its relationship with the wider Anglican Communion and body of Christ.

Whatever decision I and or the rest of the Church make regarding B012, there will be consequences. There is no escaping that. My ultimate desire as your Bishop, is to be faithful and obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ, discerning not my will, but His will in knowing how best to lead the Diocese of Albany in such a way that He will be glorified and His Church and people be blessed. Please keep me and our Diocese in your prayers.

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TEC adopts compromise solution on same-sex marriage

Updated Saturday evening

See our earlier report here.

Yesterday, the Church Times reported that Episcopal Church in the US widens access to trial same-sex marriage rites.

The General Convention of The Episcopal Church has now approved legislation making same-sex marriage rites available to all Episcopalians without making changes to the 1979 TEC Book of Common Prayer.

The Living Church reports: Compromise Reached on Same-sex Marriage.

Episcopal News Service has reported it this way: Convention lets its ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ agreeing to give church full access to trial-use marriage rites.

Religion News Service via the National Catholic ReporterEpiscopal convention approves a ‘pastoral solution’ on same-sex marriage.

The approved version of the resolution can be read in full here.

Update The Communion Partners have issued the Austin Statement (July 13, 2018).

The Bishop of Dallas, George Sumner, has issued a letter to his clergy. A portion of this is copied below the fold. (more…)

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Solution proposed for full access to TEC same-sex marriage rites

Readers will recall the letter that William Nye sent to The Episcopal Church recently.

Three bishops of The Episcopal Church have made a legislative proposal for the forthcoming General Convention to consider, which attempts to find a solution to the issue.  See this ENS report by Mary Frances Schjonberg: Bishops propose solution for full access to same-sex marriage rites.

Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, Pittsburgh Bishop Dorsey McConnell and Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely said in a news release late on June 28 that their Resolution B012 is “an attempt to move the church forward in an atmosphere of mutual respect, reconciliation and the love of Jesus Christ.”

The resolution continues to authorize the two trial-use marriage rites first approved by the 2015 meeting of General Convention without time limit and without seeking a revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

“Given our particular time in history, this resolution provides a way forward for the whole church without the possible disruption of ministry that might be caused by the proposed revision of the Book of Common Prayer,” the three bishops said.

The news release from the bishops is here: “Marriage for the Whole Church”, Resolution B012, Proposed for General Convention.

…This resolution re-authorizes the two Trial Use marriage rites first authorized in 2015, but with modified terms. Resolution 2015-A054 stated that bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority “will make provision” for all couples to have access to these liturgies, while also providing that trial use in a diocese requires the permission of the diocesan bishop.

By contrast, this resolution proposes that access to these trial use liturgies now be provided for in all dioceses, without requiring the permission of the diocesan bishop.

Additionally, this resolution proposes to authorize Trial Use versions of “The Blessing of a Civil Marriage” and “An Order for Marriage,” suitable for use by all couples. These services were not authorized in 2015.

Finally, this resolution calls for a Task Force on Communion Across Difference, tasked with finding a lasting path forward for all Episcopalians in one church, without going back on General Convention’s clear decision to extend marriage to all couples, and its firm commitment to provide access to all couples seeking to be married in this church…

This proposal has been given qualified approval by another group of seven bishops, who are opposed to same-sex marriage, see this statement by the Communion Partners of the Episcopal Church: The Vocation of Anglican Communion.

…While we cannot endorse every aspect of this proposal, we will be grateful should it help us all to continue contending with one another for the truth in love within one body.  It preserves the Book of Common Prayer as established by our church, and it preserves our dioceses for the exercising of the “historic episcopate, locally adapted” (Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral).  If our church chooses not to preserve these two institutions — the historic Prayer Book, and the historic episcopate with jurisdiction in dioceses — we would no longer have a place in this church.  With the protection of the prayer book and episcopate, we can carry on as loyal Episcopalians and Anglicans, in charity with our sisters and brothers in Christ.

The inclusion of a Task Force on Communion across Difference is of utmost importance.  Parity requires that if congregations in our dioceses must be granted delegated episcopal pastoral oversight at their request, this should be reciprocated throughout the church for Communion Partner congregations.  For them, it is not simply a matter of whether or not a conflictual relationship exists with their bishop, but instead whether the bishop whose spiritual care guides their common life is one that they understand as in full communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.  These and other matters need to be worked out carefully and coherently for a lasting truce of God, one that will allow all of us to re-focus our energies on mission and proclaiming the Gospel to all people, as our Presiding Bishop calls us to do…

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Supreme Court refuses South Carolina petition

The Episcopal News Service reports:
US Supreme Court refuses to hear South Carolina Episcopal Church property case
Breakaway group vows to continue legal fight

The United States Supreme Court refused June 11 a petition by a group that broke away from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina asking it to review a state court ruling that said property, assets and most of the diocese’s parishes must be returned to the Episcopal Church and its recognized diocese, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

The petition for a writ of certiorari from a group that broke away from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina asked the court to consider “whether the ‘neutral principles of law’ approach to resolving church property disputes requires courts to recognize a trust on church property even if the alleged trust does not comply with the state’s ordinary trust and property law.”

The breakaway group said in its Feb. 13 petition that the majority of the South Carolina Supreme Court justices did not take the “neutral” approach.

The high court justices discussed the case (17.1136) during their June 7 conference and denied the request without comment on June 11…

The (ACNA-affiliated) Diocese of South Carolina has issued this press release:
Diocese’s Petition for Cert Denied by United States Supreme Court

…The Diocese of South Carolina will now return to our state courts, where the case has been remitted to the Dorchester Courthouse where it originated. An element of TEC‘s argument for the United States Supreme Court to deny our petition was the “fractured” nature of the South Carolina Supreme Court’s ruling. Constitutional issues aside, the Diocese believes the conflicted nature of the current State Supreme Court ruling is virtually unenforceable as written. Interpretation and implementation of that ruling, given its five separate opinions, with no unified legal theory even among the plurality of the court, means there are still significant questions to resolve.

The Diocese remains confident that the law and the facts of this case favor our congregations. We plan to continue to press both to their logical conclusion, even if that requires a second appearance before the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Statement by the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, Diocesan Bishop: “While, obviously, we are disappointed that the Court did not review this case, our hope remains steadfast in our Heavenly Father. There are many unresolved legal questions which remain before the State Court as well as matters for prayerful discernment as we seek to carry out the mission to which we are called in Jesus Christ. We shall seek his guidance for both.”

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina issued this:
US Supreme Court Decision

… Today’s decision does not cause an immediate change in the physical control of the properties, according to Thomas S. Tisdale Jr., Chancellor of TECSC. It is now up to the state’s 1st Circuit Court of Common Pleas to execute the lower court’s decision.

TECSC and The Episcopal Church on May 8 asked the state court to place diocesan property and assets under control of TECSC‘s trustees, hand over ownership of property of the 28 affected parishes to The Episcopal Church and TECSC, and appoint a Special Master to oversee the transition.

The Episcopal Church has been hoping to engage with leaders of the breakaway group since the state Supreme Court ruling in August. Bishop Adams and other diocesan leaders have been seeking direct contact with people in the affected parishes, offering a “Frequently Asked Questions” publication and arranging individual meetings to work with those who want to remain in their home churches as Episcopalians.

Direct talks are even more important now that the Supreme Court has ruled, the Bishop said. “We invite people in each of the parishes affected by this decision to read the FAQ document and get in touch with me directly, so we can discover how best to work together for the good of the parish, the diocese and the whole Church,” Bishop Adams said…

The FAQ document mentioned above can be found here.

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TEC proposals for same-sex marriage

Updated

Following up on the letter from William Nye to TEC, the actual proposals to come before the General Convention in July were the subject of analysis by Andrew Goddard, earlier this month (I had missed his article until today).

“Communion Partners” and Marriage Doctrine and Liturgy in The Episcopal Church (USA)

An article, written from the perspective of one of the TEC bishops opposed to these changes, can be found here: Reconstructive Surgery on the Prayer Book? by Bishop Dan Martins.

And yesterday, there was This Source of Doctrine and Unity Requires Our Care by Bishop John Bauerschmidt.

Updates

Scott Gunn has also written about this proposal: Study of Marriage.

Bishop George Sumner has issued a pastoral letter on the same subject.

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William Nye writes to The Episcopal Church about marriage rites

Updated again Thursday

Madeleine Davies has a report in the Church Times: Nye letter warns about same-sex marriage rites

PROPOSALS to incorporate marriage rites used by same-sex couples into the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) of the Episcopal Church in the United States will increase pressure in the Church of England to “dissociate” itself, the secretary general of the Archbishops’ Council, William Nye, has warned.

In a letter to the Episcopal Church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage, which has produced the proposals, Mr Nye writes that, if the rites — written to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples — are incorporated into the BCP as the only marriage rite, “the pressure to dissociate the Church of England from TEC [the Episcopal Church], in all manner of ways, would increase”. Such a move would also be “potentially damaging” to work in the C of E to create a new teaching document on sexuality (News, 30 June), he writes….

The 8-page letter is contained in a file of responses from other Anglican Communion churches to a consultation request from The Episcopal Church for comments. This forms part of the materials prepared for the forthcoming General Convention in July.

The response from William Nye is now available separately here.

The response from the Scottish Episcopal Church is here.

There is also a response from the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO).

And there are ecumenical responses too.

Updates

Reports of this letter have also appeared elsewhere:

The Times (behind paywall) Anglicans threaten split over ‘gay-friendly’ marriage rites

Premier American Anglicans would face ‘consequences’ over gender neutral wedding services

Further mentions:

Christian Today Pro-LGBT Anglicans hit back at letter threatening split over US gay friendly prayer book

Episcopal Café Who answers for the Church of England when the Episcopal Church asks about marriage?

Susan Russell Simon Says: “Let’s get the truth of the situation out there”

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South Carolina court declines to rehear church dispute

We reported in August that the South Carolina Supreme Court had reached a decision on the legal dispute concerning who was the lawful owner of church properties in the diocese of South Carolina.

The ACNA-affiliated diocese subsequently filed an appeal against this decision.

Now the court has rejected those claims.

The statement from the ACNA-affiliated diocese is here, and there is a letter from Bishop Mark Lawrence.

There is now also a press release from the TEC-affiliated diocese and a statement from Bishop Skip Adams over here.

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Los Angeles: coadjutor bishop says property sale to proceed

Earlier reports here and then here.

Bishop John Taylor, the Coadjutor Bishop of Los Angeles, has published this: A Letter to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Episcopal News Service explains: Los Angeles bishop coadjutor says disputed St. James property sale contract is legally binding.

This is reported in the local newspapers:

Los Angeles Times L.A. Episcopal diocese is going ahead with sale of Newport’s St. James church site

Orange County Register St. James Church will be sold after all, disappointing the Newport Beach congregation

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Los Angeles bishop Jon Bruno: recommendation to suspend confirmed

We reported earlier on the draft recommendations of the disciplinary panel.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the recommendations have now been confirmed, see Panel’s final ruling maintains 3-year suspension for bishop who tried to sell Newport church.

The final version of the panel’s document is available here.

This is still subject to an appeal process. We have not yet seen any public statements from church sources about it.

Earlier, a further interim order was made by the Presiding Bishop, which took immediate effect, and inhibits any further actions being taken by Bishop Bruno in respect of the disputed property and parish of St James, during what could be a further protracted period. See Presiding Bishop removes disputed Newport Beach congregation from Bruno’s authority.

The action was welcomed by the congregation, which published this letter.

The diocese issued this: Bishop Coadjutor responds to Presiding Bishop’s transfer of jurisdiction in Newport Beach matters

The Rt. Rev. John Harvey Taylor, bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, today responded to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s transfer to the diocesan Standing Committee and him jurisdiction over matters related to church property in Newport Beach and the congregation of St. James’ the Great. Bishop Taylor’s statement follows:

“The Presiding Bishop’s action enables the Rev. Dr. Rachel Anne Nyback, president of the Standing Committee, her fellow committee members, and me to move ahead prayerfully to promote truth, open dialogue, and reconciliation in matters that have distracted our diocese for many months and to do so without awaiting a final resolution of the charges against our Bishop, J. Jon Bruno. We pledge to do all we can to use this opportunity to achieve a just outcome for the sake of our entire diocesan community.”

The full text of the restriction is reproduced at the link above.

The Living Church has this: Coadjutor Spans Conflicts

The Rt. Rev. John Taylor, Bishop Coadjutor of Los Angeles, praised the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno on Aug. 2 as “a courageous, visionary leader” who would “acknowledge that there are things he would have done differently.”

…Here is the complete text of Taylor’s statement in response to the final order:

Bishop Bruno’s 40 years of ordained ministry and 15 years as sixth bishop of Los Angeles are not summed up by this order or the events that precipitated it. He is a courageous, visionary leader. Like every successful executive inside and outside the church, he would be the first to acknowledge that there are things he would have done differently. I look forward to continuing to learn from him and consult with him about the life of the diocesan community he has served and loves so well.

Regarding the property on Lido Island, the Standing Committee and I, at the request of the Presiding Bishop, will do everything we can to promote a just solution that takes into account the interests of all in our community (including the faithful members of the Newport Beach church) and gives us the opportunity to move forward together.

In a dispute such as this one, truth-telling, open communication, and reconciliation can be difficult for everyone involved. As this work gets underway, let us all remember St. Paul’s words (Rom. 8:28): “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

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South Carolina Supreme Court rules on church dispute

Updated Thursday evening

ENS has this report by Mary Frances Schjonberg South Carolina Supreme Court issues ruling in church property case.

In a complex ruling Aug. 2 the South Carolina Supreme Court said that most but not all the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina congregations whose leaders left the Episcopal Church could not continue to hold on to the church property.

The justices said 29 of the congregations specifically agreed to abide by the “Dennis Canon” (Canon 1.7.4), which states that a parish holds its property in trust for the diocese and the Episcopal Church. That agreement means they cannot retain church property. However, they said that eight congregations had not agreed to the canon and thus could keep those properties…

The full text of the ruling is here.

The ACNA-affiliated diocese reported the decision this way: South Carolina Supreme Court Releases Divided Opinion on Diocese of South Carolina and its Historic Property

…In a complicated ruling consisting of five separate opinions, the S.C. Supreme Court today ruled that parishes which had “acceded” to the national church’s ‘Dennis canon’ are subject to a trust interest on their property by the denomination. Eight congregations that had not so acceded were judged to have full rights to retain their property.

The dissenting justices expressed concern regarding the long term implications of this decision. Former Chief Justice Jean Toal stated that the court should have relied on “over three hundred years of settled trust and property law… I believe the effect of the majority’s decision is to strip a title owner of its property…” on the basis of actions that do not create a trust interest under South Carolina law. In concurring with Justice Toal, Justice Kittredge observed of other church properties where there is affiliation with a national organization, based on this ruling, “if you think your property ownership is secure, think again.”

This current litigation became necessary when TEC attempted to wrongly remove Bishop Lawrence, and the Diocese, in response, elected to disassociate from TEC. At that time a small group, of TEC loyalists who had been preparing for this attempted removal began an intentional campaign of using the Diocesan Seal and other service marks of the Diocese. They began to function as if they were the Diocese of South Carolina. To maintain its identity required that the Diocese defend that identity…

The bishop of the TEC-affiliated Diocese of South Carolina issued this pastoral letter:

Dear Friends in The Episcopal Church in South Carolina,

Please join me in giving thanks to God for the gift of grace given to us through the August 2 ruling of the State Supreme Court that was generally in our favor. I acknowledge the difficult work of the court justices in coming to this decision.

Many of you have worked faithfully and diligently in preparation for this day and have remained steadfast as disciples of Jesus through your many sacrifices. For every one of you I give thanks, as well as to many throughout the wider Episcopal Church who have remained in solidarity with us.

We will continue to study the decision as we prepare for the journey awaiting us, and we enter it knowing that God’s Spirit is with us and in us as the Body of Christ. I am aware that coming to this day has been painful for many, and some you of lost much along the way. In that same vein, please be aware that this decision is painful in a different way for others. I ask that you be measured in your response without undue celebration in the midst of your own gratefulness.

I call upon all of you to be in prayer for all the people of this diocese, including those in congregations who chose to align with the breakaway group. Many conversations will need to occur for which we have not yet had the opportunity, yet our God is a God of reconciliation and hope as shown forth in the living Christ. Healing is our desire, and we renew our commitment to the hard work of reconciliation in whatever form it can come. May we focus on the healing of division and the seeking of common ground for the good of all Episcopalians, but even more importantly, for the sake of the Good News of Jesus.

Updates
The TEC-affiliated diocese has published this: Diocesan leaders to review Supreme Court decision

Episcopal Church leaders from across eastern South Carolina will gather on Friday at Grace Church Cathedral to review the South Carolina Supreme Court ruling on church property and assets and consider the next steps toward resolving the division and confusion resulting from a breakaway group’s lawsuit against The Episcopal Church.

Bishop Skip Adams called the meeting on August 2, hours after the court issued the ruling. Friday’s meetings will include a joint gathering of the Standing Committee, Diocesan Council, and Trustees, three bodies of clergy and non-ordained elected leaders. Bishop Adams also has called a meeting for the leaders of nine congregations that organized as mission churches since the 2012 breakup left them without buildings where they could worship as Episcopalians.

Both gatherings will give local Episcopalians an opportunity to discuss the complex, 79-page court decision, which includes separate opinions written by all five Supreme Court justices who heard the case. The decision cannot be viewed as final until all possible steps toward an appeal have been resolved…

The ACNA-affiliated Bishop of Fort Worth, Texas has issued this letter.

The Anglican Curmudgeon blog carries this: Massive Conflict of Interest Taints South Carolina Ruling. Earlier it had this analysis: BREAKING – So. Carolina Decision Is Out.

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Los Angeles bishop Jon Bruno faces suspension

Updated again 2 August

The Los Angeles Times reports: Episcopal bishop faces suspension over efforts to sell Newport Beach church

An Episcopal Church disciplinary panel has recommended a three-year suspension for the bishop who locked worshippers out of St. James the Great church in Newport Beach after a failed sale attempt two years ago.

The panel also recommended that the shuttered church be restored to its displaced members.

The tentative ruling, which came down late Friday afternoon, determined that the Right Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, was guilty of all allegations brought against him by the congregation during a hearing the panel conducted in March: that he attempted to sell consecrated property without consent of diocesan leadership, that he made several misrepresentations along the way and that he acted in a manner unbecoming of a clergyman.

The Living Church explains further in its report (do read all of it) Panel: Suspend Bruno, Save St. James:

…According to Title IV 14.5 of the church’s canons, the presiding bishop is charged with reviewing this sentence and then pronouncing it or lessening it.

In a 4-1 decision, the panel wrote that “the scope and severity of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct … have unjustly and unnecessarily disturbed the ministry of a mission of the Church. St. James the Great is a casualty of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct.”

Neva Rae Fox, public affairs officer for the Episcopal Church, said late that evening, “This document is marked as a draft, and that is what it is. We will offer no comments as the Hearing Panel’s work continues.”

Episcopal Café also has a report: Hearing Panel to recommend suspension of ministry for Bruno. Their report (also worth reading in full) includes this summary of the decisions:

A) Bishop Bruno is suspended for three years. During the period of his suspension Bishop Bruno will refrain from the exercise of the gifts of the ministry conferred by ordination (Canon IV.2, definition of “Sentence”) and not exercise any authority over the real or personal property or temporal affairs of the Church (Canon IV.19.7)

B) The Hearing panel declines to depose Bishop Bruno

C) The Hearing Panel is not aware of any evidence supporting a need for forensic accounting. IF the Church Attorney possesses such evidence he should present it to the appropriate authorities.

D) After thorough and detailed consideration of the facts, positions, contentions, testimony and documents, the Hearing Panel has concluded that the scope and severity of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct, as described above, have unjustly and unnecessarily disturbed the ministry of the Church. St James the Great is a casualty of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct acting as Diocesan and Corp Sole. While it is beyond the authority and ability of the Hearing Panel to fully assess what might have happened if St James the Great had been allowed to continue its ministry in its church facility, there is ample evidence of its viability and promise to convince the Hearing Panel that St James the Great was robbed of a reasonable chance to succeed as a sustainable community of faith.

The draft decision is a PDF document of 91 pages which can also be found here. There is a (much shorter) dissenting opinion which is also linked here.

Update
Episcopal News Service now has a report: Draft order calls for Bruno to be suspended from ministry for three years.

…The hearing panel did not publicly release its draft order. It apparently gave the draft to the complainants and the presiding bishop for comment. Title IV.14.7 (page 153 here) calls for those parties “to be heard on the proposed terms of the order.” Comments to the hearing panel are due by July 26.

Bruno is not allowed to comment on the draft to the hearing panel. The diocese released a statement July 21 saying in part that no one from the diocese would make any public statement on the draft, “continuing their commitment to respect the integrity of the Title IV process, a priority that Bishop Bruno has upheld through the duration of the two-year proceedings.”

Neva Rae Fox, Episcopal Church public affairs officer, said the church would not comment while the Title IV process continues.

Roger Bloom, a communications consultant working for St. James, released the draft late July 21, reportedly after consulting a lawyer who told him Episcopal Church canons did not prevent its release.

Forty days after the final order is issued, the Rt. Rev. Catherine Waynick, president of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, has 20 days to sentence Bruno. He can appeal that sentence and, if he does, the sentence is not imposed while the appeal proceeds. Meanwhile, however, the draft order is clear that Curry’s partial restriction on Bruno remains in force.

2 August update

The Presiding Bishop has taken additional steps, see here: Presiding Bishop removes disputed Newport Beach congregation from Bruno’s authority

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on Aug. 1 removed Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno’s authority over St. James the Great in Newport Beach, California.

The presiding bishop’s action, which includes placing St. James in the jurisdiction of Los Angeles Bishop Coadjutor John Taylor, came as the Episcopal Church awaits the final order from the hearing panel considering disciplinary action against Bruno.

The Further Partial Restriction is intended to chart a way forward that clarifies and respects the appropriate role and authority of Taylor and the Standing Committee as well as the Title IV disciplinary process and the hearing panel, according to an Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release

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Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation

Updated Friday afternoon

This situation inside a part of GAFCON may be of some interest to UK readers.

Truro Anglican Church in Northern Virginia is a congregation of the Anglican Church in North America, within the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. The buildings in which it meets are the property of The Episcopal Church.

Truro recently announced the Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation as a joint venture with the local Episcopal diocese.

In this Easter season of rebirth and renewal, Truro Anglican Church is pleased to announce a new ministry of peace making and reconciliation called the Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation. The Institute represents the continued fulfillment of God’s work at Truro over many decades and is consistent with our congregational history and DNA. It is also the culmination of our outreach to and discussions with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia with whom we are joining in this exciting initiative. Years after the costly litigation and sometimes on-going animosity with the EDV, we have arrived at a new era of community building and peacemaking.

This new ministry, formed by Truro Anglican, will have equal representation on its board from EDV and Truro, along with representation from the Dean of Coventry Cathedral and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The following is a quote from Archbishop Justin Welby, regarding this ministry:

“I am deeply moved by the establishment of the Peace Centre at Truro, not least because I have looked more closely at it in the days following the terrorism in Westminster, merely 400 yards from Lambeth Palace. The kingdom of God is proclaimed in practices that develop virtues. The Peace Centre will proclaim that reconciliation is the gospel, with God through Christ, but like the Temple in Ezekiel 47, releasing a flood of water that as a mighty river becomes the place of fruitfulness and healing for the nations. Thank you for your step of faith. We too will work with you as best we can.”

The ministry will work with seminarians and other young people to seed our respective denominations with a new generation of peace makers, by teaching them and letting them live into the challenging work of reconciliation. Just the fact of the joint involvement of EDV and Truro Anglican is a living testament to the work the Institute hopes to accomplish…

The Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, Shannon Johnston, wrote about this here.

…As I noted in my Pastoral Address at January’s Annual Convention, members of the Diocese have spent the past three years building new ties of trust and friendship with the Truro ACNA congregation, which is leasing the Truro campus from the Diocese. Those efforts have helped to give birth to an Institute for Peace and Reconciliation at Truro. The governing board of this Institute will have equal representation from the Diocese and the Truro ACNA congregation.

The final pieces fell into place last week when the 18-member vestry of the Truro ACNA congregation voted unanimously to approve all documents related to the creation of the Institute. Our own Standing Committee already had given its consent to this proposal, subject to the final review of documents by our Chancellor and by me. All of this has now been accomplished.

Our agreement provides for an important three-year period of discernment. You will be hearing a lot more about our activities at Truro during this period, as both the Diocese and the ACNA congregation reflect and pray on whether we have successfully launched this important Institute. If both of us agree at the end of three years that we have succeeded, the congregation will be granted a 50-year lease to the property that the Diocese will continue to own. We in the Diocese will not only participate in the Institute, but also will have continued access to the property for office space, events and services to ensure a long-term Episcopal presence at Truro…

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Bishop of Indianapolis: Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows elected

Corrected Monday morning

The Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis issued this press release on 28 October:

The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows was elected 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis on the second ballot on Friday, October 28, at Christ Church Cathedral Indianapolis. The election culminated a nearly two-year discernment and search process by the diocese at the 179th Diocesan Convention. The Right Reverend Catherine M. Waynick plans to retire in the Spring of 2017.

The Rev. Baskerville-Burrows currently serves as Director of Networking for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, nourishing partnerships and connections for church revitalization.

“In 19 years of ordained ministry, and especially in the past five helping to oversee and restructure the Diocese of Chicago, I’ve supported communities of transformation, communicated a vision of hope and gathered and networked God’s people across distance and difference,” the Rev. Baskerville-Burrows said. “I believe these experiences have prepared me to lead and serve in the particular place that is the Diocese of Indianapolis.”

She is from New York, ordained by the Diocese of Central New York, and a graduate of Smith College, Cornell University, and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. She has expertise in historic preservation and a passion for issues including gun violence, social justice, and racial and class reconciliation. She also maintains a strong focus in guiding others through the practice of spiritual direction.

One of the defining experiences of her ministry came when she found herself near the World Trade Center the morning of September 11, 2001. In the midst of a fearful situation, her own faith and the faith of others who sought shelter alongside her gave her a renewed perspective of faith vanquishing fear.

“The Episcopal Church is where I found my relationship with Jesus some 30 years ago, “she said. “It teaches me that the world is filled with incredible beauty and unspeakable pain and that God is deeply in the midst of it all loving us fiercely. So each day, nourished by the sacraments and stories of our faith, the beauty of our liturgical tradition, the wide embrace of this Christian community, I learn over and over again how to live without fear.”

The Rev. Baskerville-Burrows will be ordained and consecrated as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis on Saturday, April 29, 2017, 11 a.m., at Clowes Hall at Butler University.

A vast amount of information about the process of this election, including the profile of the diocese, and information about all the candidates, can be found here.

As Episcopal Café notes:

…Pending consents, she will become the first black, female diocesan bishop in the history of the church. This election also marks the first time that [a] woman diocesan bishop is succeeded by another woman…

But this is inaccurate. There was already such a succession in the Diocese of Edmonton, Canada (Jane Alexander followed Victoria Matthews) and there are already diocesan bishops in Swaziland who are both black and female.

The Bishop of Chicago, where she currently serves, wrote this about her election.

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The Episcopal Church view of the primates statement

ENS reports Majority of primates call for temporary Episcopal Church sanctions.

There is a good deal of additional information in this lengthy article. Worth reading carefully right through. Here is what Michael Curry said:

…Before the Jan. 14 vote, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry told the primates gathering Jan. 11-15 in Canterbury, England, that the statement calling for the sanctions would be painful for many in the Episcopal Church to receive.
“Many of us have committed ourselves and our church to being ‘a house of prayer for all people,’ as the Bible says, when all are truly welcome,” Curry said in remarks he later made available to Episcopal News Service.

“Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all. While I understand that many disagree with us, our decision regarding marriage is based on the belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians are true for the church today: All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ.

“For so many who are committed to following Jesus in the way of love and being a church that lives that love, this decision will bring real pain,” he said. “For fellow disciples of Jesus in our church who are gay or lesbian, this will bring more pain. For many who have felt and been rejected by the church because of who they are, for many who have felt and been rejected by families and communities, our church opening itself in love was a sign of hope. And this will add pain on top of pain.”

Curry told the primates that he was in no sense comparing his own pain to theirs, but “I stand before you as your brother. I stand before you as a descendant of African slaves, stolen from their native land, enslaved in a bitter bondage, and then even after emancipation, segregated and excluded in church and society. And this conjures that up again, and brings pain.

“The pain for many will be real. But God is greater than anything. I love Jesus and I love the church. I am a Christian in the Anglican way. And like you, as we have said in this meeting, I am committed to ‘walking together’ with you as fellow primates in the Anglican family…”

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House of Bishops responds to Communion Partners

The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church adopted the following statement unanimously, in response to the statement of dissent reported earlier.

Mind of the House of Bishops Statement: ‘Communion Across Difference’

We the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church wish to express our love and appreciation to our colleagues who identify as Communion Partners and those bishops who have affinity with the Communion Partners’ position as stated in their “Communion Partners Salt Lake City Statement.” Our time together in Salt Lake City, in conversation and in prayer, has demonstrated how profoundly the love of God in Jesus binds us together and empowers us for service to God’s mission. As we have waited upon the leading of the Holy Spirit in our deliberations, we have been reminded that the House of Bishops is richly gifted with many voices and perspectives on matters of theological, liturgical, and pastoral significance. This has been shown in our discernment with respect to doctrinal matters relative to Christian marriage. We thank God for the rich variety of voices in our House, in our dioceses, in The Episcopal Church, and in the Anglican Communion, that reflect the wideness of God’s mercy and presence in the Church and in the world.

We give particular thanks for the steadfast witness of our colleagues in the Communion Partners. We value and rely on their commitment to The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. We recognize that theirs is a minority voice in the House of Bishops in our deliberations with respect to Christian marriage; and we affirm that despite our differences they are an indispensable part of who we are as the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church. Our church needs their witness. Further, we appreciate that each of us will return to dioceses where there will be a variety of responses to Resolutions A054 and A036. The equanimity, generosity, and graciousness with which the Communion Partners have shared their views on Christian marriage and remain in relationship is a model for us and for the lay and ordained leaders in our dioceses to follow. We thank God that in the fullness of the Holy Trinity we can and must remain together as the Body of Christ in our dioceses, in The Episcopal Church, and in our relationships with sisters and brothers in Christ in the Anglican Communion. The bonds created in baptism are indeed indissoluble and we pray that we have the confidence to rely upon the Holy Spirit who will continue to hold us all together as partners in communion through the love of God in Jesus.

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Twenty bishops dissent from Episcopal Church marriage actions

Twenty bishops of the Episcopal Church have issued a statement dissenting from the recent actions of the General Convention in passing resolutions A036 and A054.

News report from The Living Church here: The Salt Lake City Statement

Full text of the statement is copied below the fold. A PDF version is available here.

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Bishop Michael Curry elected as the new Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church

The Rt Revd Michael Bruce Curry (Diocese of North Carolina) has been elected the 27th Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church. He is the first black Presiding Bishop. The press release is here:

The Rt. Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, was elected the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church on the first ballot on June 27.

Bishop Curry, 62, is the first African-American to be elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

The election occurred during the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

Of the 174 votes tallied, Bishop Curry received 121 (89 needed to elect).

Following his election by the House of Bishops, Bishop Curry’s election was overwhelmingly confirmed by the House of Deputies, 800 for, 12 against…

Online reports include:

The Episcopal Café The Rt Revd Michael Curry elected as the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

Mary Frances Schjonberg Episcopal News Service Historic election of Bishop Michael Curry as 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

Czarina Ong Christian Today US Episcopal Church makes history by electing 1st black presiding bishop

Associated Press in The Guardian Episcopal church elects first African American presiding bishop

Associated Press in The New York Times Episcopal Church Elects Its First Black Presiding Bishop

Episcopal News Service Episcopalians, Anglicans react to historic election of Michael Curry as presiding bishop

Brady McCombs and Rachel Zoll Huffington Press Episcopal Church Elects Michael Curry, Its First Black Presiding Bishop

Robert Gehrke Washington Post Episcopal Church elects Michael Curry first black presiding bishop

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More about the Episcopal Church decisions on equal marriage

British mainstream news coverage of this story is slight:

Christian Today has this report by Ruth Gledhill Episcopal Church confirms change in law to allow same-sex marriages. And here is her earlier report on Justin Welby’s earlier statement.

George Conger has the rollcall of the House of Bishops in their voting on the marriage canon.

Criticism of the decision from conservatives has begun to appear:

The Covenant blog of The Living Church carries another very detailed article, this time by Zachary Guiliano titled The substance of the argument. Like the Hylden article before it, this is well worth reading.

On the other side of this debate, there is an article at Huffington Post by Susan Russell ‘We Do!’ — Episcopalians OK Marriage for Same-Sex Couples.

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Episcopal Church considers new liturgical texts for marriage

Updated Thursday morning

An earlier article deals with the proposed changes to canon law. The changes described here, together with those mentioned in the earlier article will be considered by the House of Deputies of General Convention later today.

As ENS explains in Marriage-equality resolutions advance to House of Deputies,

…If the House of Deputies concurs with the House of Bishops-amended Resolution A054, the liturgies “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage” and “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2” from “Liturgical Resources 1: I Will Bless You and You Will be a Blessing, Revised and Expanded 2015” from the supplemental Blue Book materials of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music will be available for trial use beginning this Advent. Those rites offer the option of using “wife,” “husband,” “person” or “spouse,” thus making them applicable for both heterosexual and same-sex couples.
The bishops eliminated a third proposed liturgy from the resolution, “The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony.”

All three liturgies can be found on pages 2-151 here from the materials provided to convention by the standing commission.

The amended resolution stipulates: “Bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority or, where appropriate, ecclesiastical supervision, will make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies. Trial use is only to be available under the discretion and with the permission of the diocesan bishop.”

The resolution also says “That bishops may continue to provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.” During discussion, bishops said this was intended to address bishops’ situations in jurisdictions outside the United States, such as Italy and countries in Province IX, where same-sex marriages remain illegal.

The resolution extends the canonical provision to these resources that, “‘It shall be within the discretion of any member of the clergy of this church to decline to preside at any rite contained herein” and that “this convention honor the theological diversity of this church in regard to matters of human sexuality; and that no bishop, priest, deacon or lay person should be coerced or penalized in any manner, nor suffer any canonical disabilities, as a result of his or her theological objection to or support for the 78th General Convention’s action contained in this resolution.”

Some bishops questioned whether this meant a priest could officiate at a same-sex marriage ceremony without consequence even if his or her bishop didn’t approve of use of the trial liturgies.

The provision is intended to protect clergy in a diocese where the bishop advocates for the use of the liturgies, replied retired Virginia Bishop Peter Lee. Clergy are protected if they disagree with their bishop, but not if they disobey them, he said…

See also the detailed explanation by Jordan Hylden of the process by which these new texts can be incorporated in the American Book of Common Prayer:

…The church’s specially appointed Task Force on the Study of Marriage had originally proposed canonical changes that would have redefined marriage as gender-neutral and authorized liturgies for use. But many voices on both right and left objected to this course, since it would have placed the church’s constitution and canon law at odds with one another. The church constitution requires that worship services in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) cannot be altered at one General Convention, nor can alternatives to them be authorized except for “trial use” (Article X). To change canon law by itself, therefore, was not sufficient to provide alternative services to BCP liturgies. Therefore “trial use” was the course taken by the bishops, some of whom (such as Bishop Shannon Johnston, of the influential Diocese of Virginia) argued that precisely because same-sex marriage is so important, it needs to be passed in a way that is constitutionally beyond question. Other bishops, such as Thomas Ely of Vermont, eventually came around to this view and a consensus was reached early on in committee…

…What will happen now? Significantly, the bishops authorized the trial-use marriage liturgies “at the direction and with the permission” of diocesan bishops. If this holds up in the House of Deputies (on the docket soon), it will then mean that for the next three years bishops like William Love of Albany will be able in church law to continue their current practice of forbidding same-sex marriages in their dioceses. After that, if the liturgies become part of the BCP, it is difficult to see how that will any longer be possible….

See also this commentary by Tobias Haller Comprehension not Compromise.

…Some have characterized these resolutions as compromises. I prefer to see them as comprehensive. The resolution on liturgies authorizes trial use as provided for in the Constitution, with the mandate that bishops will see to it that all couples have access to the liturgies, while at the same time affirming that the bishop is responsible for directing and permitting these liturgies. This may be too subtle for some, but I believe it will allow the minority of bishops who are personally opposed to marriage equality sufficient conscientious cover, while at the same time requiring them to find ways to provide for couples in their dioceses who wish to make use of the liturgies. This will be a time for creativity and generosity…

Update

ENS reports General Convention approves marriage equality.

…The House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops’ approval the day before of a canonical change eliminating language defining marriage as between a man and a woman (Resolution A036) and authorizing two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples (Resolution A054).

The resolutions marked the culmination of a conversation launched when the 1976 General Convention said that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern and care of the church,” said the Very Rev. Brian Baker, deputy chair of the Special Legislative Committee on Marriage. “That resolution began a 39-year conversation about what that full and equal claim would look like. The conversation has been difficult for many and painful for many.”

Resolutions A054 and A036 represented compromises reached after prayerful consideration and conversation within the legislative committee, and then the House of Bishops to make room for everyone, Baker said. “I know that most of you will find something … to dislike and to disagree with” in the resolutions, he said, asking deputies to “look through the lens of how this compromise makes room for other people.”

Deputies defeated an attempt to amend each of the resolutions. Following 20 minutes of debate per resolution, each resolution passed in a vote by orders. A054 passed by 94-12 with 2 divided deputations in the clerical order and 90-11-3 in the lay order. A036 passed 85-15-6 in the clerical order and 88-12-6 in the lay order.

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The Episcopal Church bishops vote to change marriage canon

Updated Tuesday evening

The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church has passed this resolution. The House of Deputies (clergy and laity) has yet to vote on the matter, and must concur before the changes can take effect. They have also been debating the authorisation of various liturgies to be used in connection with this change. We will report on those separately.

The situation is explained in this ENS report: Marriage-equality resolutions advance to House of Deputies:

…The bishops next debated and ultimately approved an amended Resolution A036 that revises Canon I.18 titled “Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony” (page 58 of The Episcopal Church’s canons here).

Among many edits, the resolution removes references to marriage as being between a man and a woman.

It also recasts the requirement in the canon’s first section that clergy conform to both “the laws of the state” and “the laws of this church” about marriage. The bishops’ amended version now reads clergy “shall conform to the laws of the State governing the creation of the civil status of marriage, and also these canons concerning the solemnization of marriage. Members of the Clergy may solemnize a marriage using any of the liturgical forms authorized by this Church.”

Clergy may “decline to solemnize or bless any marriage,” a provision similar to the existing discretion allowed to clergy.
Under the revision, couples would sign a declaration of intent, which the legislative committee crafted to respect the needs of couples where only one member is a Christian.

A resolution to substitute a minority report on A036 for the resolution failed.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following statement: Response to the US Episcopal Church Resolution on Marriage. The full text of this statement is copied below the fold.

Update
This article on the Covenant weblog of The Living Church by Jordan Hylden seeks to explain just how far TEC has got, and how much further there is to go, in completing these proposed marriage changes: Marriage redefined?

There are headlines today, even in such august magazines as The Living Church, that say that the Episcopal Church’s “Bishops Redefine Marriage.” Understood as a headline, that is probably the best way to say what happened yesterday. But details matter, and they matter here. It is probably more accurate to say that the bishops redefined marriage insofar as the constitutional process of this church allowed them to at this time, and if the deputies concur (which they will). Next General Convention, three years from now in Austin, will be the first opportunity for that headline to be accurate without qualification. But for now, the church will live with a mixed economy, and what remains to be seen in the next few years is whether a mixed economy of conservatives and progressives will be retained in a comprehensive church, or whether the majority will ensure that a redefinition will be enforced in the dioceses and parishes that still hold the traditional view…

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