Thinking Anglicans

Bishop Mark Lawrence & Bishop John Guernsey

From Titusonenine:

A Crucial Apr. 25 Presentation—Bishop Mark Lawrence, S. Carolina, and ACNA Bishop John Guernsey

The Guildford Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship invite you to an An evening with Bishop Mark Lawrence (TEC Bishop of South Carolina) and Bishop John Guernsey (ACNA Bishop of Mid-Atlantic) On 25th April 2012 at 8 pm At Holy Trinity Claygate, Church Road, Claygate, Surrey, KT10 0JP

We are delighted that Bishop Mark Lawrence, the Episcopal Church Bishop for the Diocese of South Carolina, and Bishop John Guernsey, the Anglican Church in North America Bishop for the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, have agreed

  • to bring us up to date with developments amongst Anglicans in North America;
  • to tell us why some orthodox Anglicans have considered it appropriate to work within TEC whilst others have considered it appropriate to work within ACNA; and
  • to explain to us how people within the two organisations who hold similar views are generally able to continue to support each other in spreading the Gospel.

Kendall Harmon adds:

Please note this is is a long evening of some 1 hour and 40 minutes. During the introduction the following people are mentioned—it is opened by Philip Plyming, vicar of Holy Trinity, Claygate, and then chairman, Stephen Hofmeyr, QC. There is then a message from Bishop Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford given by the Ven. Julian Henderson, Archdeacon of Dorking. Both Mark Lawrence (who goes first) and John Guernsey then give presentations of some twenty minutes which takes you to approximately one hour. After that there are questions from those present to the two bishops about the matters at hand. Archdeacon Julian Henderson then offers brief concluding remarks.

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Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced a settlement of their property dispute on 17 April and issued this joint statement.

Joint Statement from Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

4/17/2012

Truro Anglican Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced today a settlement that concludes five years of litigation that arose after Truro Anglican and other parishes left the Episcopal Church in 2006 to become part of what is now the Anglican Church in North America.

The settlement follows a January ruling in which the Circuit Court of Fairfax County held that all real and personal property held by the parishes at the time they left the denomination belongs to the Diocese.

Under terms of the settlement, the Diocese has given Truro Anglican a rent-free lease of the church buildings at 10520 Main Street in Fairfax, as well as two rectories, until June 30, 2013. Truro Anglican will deed the properties to the Diocese by April 30, 2012, and will pay the operating costs of the properties during the term of the lease. In addition, the Diocese has the option to use a small portion of the church building during the lease, as determined between the Rev. Tory Baucum, rector of Truro Anglican, and the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop of the Diocese of Virginia.

Additionally, Truro Anglican has agreed to pay $50,000 to resolve diocesan claims for liquid assets due under the court’s order. The parties had already agreed on division of the tangible personal property held by Truro Anglican.

In several previous settlements, Anglican parishes that leased Episcopal property agreed to sever ties with all Anglican bodies during the term of the lease. Under today’s settlement, however, the parties have agreed that Truro Anglican will maintain its affiliation with the Anglican Church of North America and its Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. Because the Diocese and Truro Anglican are part of different ecclesiastical bodies who share the Anglican tradition, they have agreed to follow a process during the term of the lease by which bishops may visit Truro Anglican with the permission of Bishop Johnston.

An important feature of this settlement is that both sides have agreed to enter into a covenant of mutual charity and respect. This document will frame the way the Diocese and Truro Anglican will deal with one another and speak of one another. The covenant is being drafted by the Rev. Baucum and Bishop Johnston.

“This is an important step for the Diocese of Virginia and Truro Anglican,” said Bishop Johnston. “What the Diocese has sought since the court’s ruling has been a ‘witness’ and not merely an ‘outcome.’ The parties have carried on a public dispute for five years and it is important that we publicly begin to make peace.”

Bishop Johnston and the Rev. Baucum have been meeting together for prayer and conversation for over a year. “Bishop Johnston and I have become friends,” said the Rev. Baucum. “In spite of our significant theological differences, we care for and are committed to each other as brothers in Christ.”

“We are grateful for the Diocese’s generosity in allowing us to continue to use the property for another 15 months at no cost,” said the Rev. Baucum. “This allows us time to make a good transition to interim facilities and then to our new church home.”

“Tory and I believe that this is an opening for a transformative witness to many across the worldwide Anglican Communion,” added Bishop Johnston.

A settlement in another property dispute also involving the diocese of Virginia was announced the previous day: Diocese Settles with St. Paul’s Church, Anglican, Haymarket.

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Court rules for Diocese of Virginia in property dispute

From the Diocese of Virginia: Court Rules in Favor of Diocese

1/10/2012

Tonight, the Fairfax Circuit Court issued its ruling in favor of the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church in litigation seeking to recover Episcopal church property. “Our goal throughout this litigation has been to return faithful Episcopalians to their church homes and Episcopal properties to the mission of the Church,” said the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop of Virginia.

The court ruled that the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia have “a contractual and proprietary interest” in each of the properties subject to the litigation. The court ordered that all property subject to its ruling be turned over to the Diocese.

“We hope that this ruling will lead to our congregations returning to worship in their church homes in the near future, while finding a way to support the CANA congregations as they plan their transition,” said Henry D.W. Burt, secretary of the Diocese and chief of staff.

Bishop Johnston added, “While we are grateful for the decision in our favor, we remain mindful of the toll this litigation has taken on all parties involved, and we continue to pray for all affected by the litigation.”

The ruling can be found here (PDF).

From the CANA website: Statement by the ACNA Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic

(January 10, 2012) – Seven Anglican congregations in Virginia that are parties to the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia are reviewing today’s ruling by the Fairfax County Circuit Court that the property should be turned over to the Episcopal Diocese.

The Circuit Court heard the case last spring after the Virginia Supreme Court remanded it in June 2010. The congregations previously had succeeded in their efforts on the Circuit Court level to defend the property that they bought and paid for.

“Although we are profoundly disappointed by today’s decision, we offer our gratitude to Judge Bellows for his review of this case. As we prayerfully consider our legal options, we above all remain steadfast in our effort to defend the historic Christian faith. Regardless of today’s ruling, we are confident that God is in control, and that He will continue to guide our path,” said Jim Oakes, spokesperson for the seven Anglican congregations.

The Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, a historic property involved in the case, stated, “The core issue for us is not physical property, but theological and moral truth and the intellectual integrity of faith in the modern world. Wherever we worship, we remain Anglicans because we cannot compromise our historic faith. Like our spiritual forebears in the Reformation, ‘Here we stand. So help us God. We can do no other.’”

The seven Anglican congregations are members of the newly established Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, a member diocese within the Anglican Church in North America. Bishop John Guernsey of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic has expressed to leaders of the seven congregations, “Our trust is in the Lord who is ever faithful. He is in control and He will enable you to carry forward your mission for the glory of Jesus Christ and the extension of His Kingdom. Know that your brothers and sisters in Christ continue to stand with you and pray for you.”

The Anglican Curmudgeon has his analysis of the judgment here.

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Looking ahead: The Episcopal Church in 2012

Jim Naughton wrote at Episcopal Café about the year ahead for The Episcopal Church.

A number of comments related to this article were made in an earlier thread here, which was about an English subject: Same-sex Marriage and Disestablishment.

In order to stop the discussion on the latter topic being dominated by Americans discussing something quite different, I have created this article.

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US Ordinariate is announced

A year after the Ordinariate was established in England and Wales, the corresponding announcements have been made in the USA.

Rocco Palmo Upon This “Rock,” An Ordinariate Is Born

In an unprecedented Sunday announcement — a significant sign of Rome’s degree of seriousness about the effort — the Vatican’s press bulletin gave official word of the erection of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, encompassing the territory of the United States. The national quasi-diocese for the entering groups is the second of its kind, following England’s Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was launched a year ago this month.

Fr Jeffrey Steenson, 59, the former Episcopal bishop of Rio Grande ordained a priest of the archdiocese of Santa Fe in 2009, has been named the founding Ordinary. A married father of three and Oxford-trained patristics scholar who’s been serving until now as a professor at Houston’s St Mary’s Seminary and University of St Thomas, Steenson’s appointment is effective immediately…

George Conger Jeffrey Steenson to lead the Anglican Ordinariate in the U.S.

The Vatican has appointed the former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande to head up the American branch of the Anglican Ordinariate.

On 1 Jan 2012 the Vatican announced that Fr. Jeffrey Steenson had been named the Ordinary for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. The American branch of the ordinariate will be based in Houston, Texas and is the second national jurisdiction for former Anglicans established under the provisions of Pope Benedict’s 2009 apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum coetibus”.

A second former Episcopal clergyman, Fr. Scott Hurd, who was received into the Catholic Church in 1996 and is presently a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, has been appointed vicar-general of the ordinariate for a three-year term, the Vatican announcement said…

The website of the American Ordinariate is here.

Update

The situation with respect to Canada is discussed here by Rocco Palmo On Day One, The Ordinariate Spreads North.

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Sudan bishops like ACNA and snub TEC's Presiding Bishop

Updated Friday
The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of Sudan has issued a statement, and also sent a letter to the Presiding Bishop of TEC.

See the news report by George Conger in the Church of England Newspaper Sudan breaks with the Episcopal Church.

The American Episcopal Church’s support for gay bishops and blessings has led the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) to ban Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori from visiting the church. The dis-invitation to Bishop Jefferts Schori follows a vote by the ECS House of Bishops last month to swap its recognition of the Episcopal Church for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as the legitimate expression of Anglicanism in the United States…

The letter reads as follows:

“The Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church United States of America
Thursday 15th December 2011

Dear Bishop Katharine,

Advent greetings to you in the name of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

It is with a heavy heart that I write you informing you of our decision as a House of Bishops to withdraw your invitation to the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS). We acknowledge your personal efforts to spearhead prayer and support campaigns on behalf of the ECS and remain very grateful for this attention you and your church have paid to Sudan and South Sudan. However, it remains difficult for us to invite you when elements of your church continue to flagrantly disregard biblical teaching on human sexuality.

Find attached a statement further explaining our position as a province.

(Signed)

—(The Most Rev.) Dr. Daniel Deng Bul Yak, Archbishop Primate and Metropolitan of the Province of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan and Bishop of the Diocese of Juba “

The statement, which has appeared on various blog websites reads as follows:

STATEMENT OF HOUSE OF BISHOPS OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF SUDAN ON HUMAN SEXUALITY

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan in its meeting held in Juba from 14-16, November 2011 in the context of General Synod has reaffirmed the statement of the Sudanese Bishops at the Lambeth Conference in 2008 as quoted below:

“We reject homosexual practice as contrary to Biblical teaching and can accept no place for it within ECS. We strongly oppose developments within the Anglican Church in USA and Canada in consecrating a practicing homosexual as bishop and in approving a rite for the blessing of same-sex relationships.”

We are deeply disappointed by The Episcopal Church’s refusal to abide by Biblical teaching on human sexuality and their refusal to listen to fellow Anglicans. For example, TEC Diocese of Los Angles, California in 2010 elected and consecrated Mary Douglas Glasspool as their first lesbian assistant Bishop. We are not happy with their acts of continuing ordaining homosexuals and lesbians as priests and bishops as well as blessing same sex relations in the church by some dioceses in TEC; it has pushed itself away from God’s Word and from Anglican Communion. TEC is not concerned for the unity of the Communion.

The Episcopal Church of Sudan is recognizing the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) fully as true faithful Orthodox Church and we will work with them to expand the Kingdom of God in the world. Also we will work with those Parishes and Dioceses in TEC who are Evangelical Orthodox Churches and faithful to God.

We will not compromise our faith on this and we will not give TEC advice anymore, because TEC ignored and has refused our advices.

(The Most Rev.) Dr. Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop and Primate of Episcopal Church of Sudan, Juba, 12th December 2011

Responses from American dioceses are recorded by Episcopal Café in Dioceses respond cautiously to latest letter from Church of Sudan.

Update
The report on this from last week’s Church Times is now available, see Sudan chides US and backs ACNA.

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Bishop of South Carolina cleared by Disciplinary Board

Updated Tuesday evening

A Statement by the President of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops
Regarding the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina
from here.

On November 22, the Disciplinary Board for Bishops met via conference call to consider whether, based on information previously submitted to the Board by lay communicants and a priest of the Diocese of South Carolina, the Bishop of that Diocese, the Right Rev’d Mark Lawrence, has abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church.

Based on the information before it, the Board was unable to make the conclusions essential to a certification that Bishop Lawrence had abandoned the communion of the Church. I have today communicated the Board’s action to Bishop Lawrence by telephone, to be followed by an e-mail copy of this statement.

The abandonment canon (Title IV, Canon16) is quite specific, designating only three courses of action by which a Bishop is to be found to have abandoned the church: first, “by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline or Worship of the Church”; second, “by formal admission into any religious body not in communion with” the Church; and, third, “by exercising Episcopal acts in and for a religious body other than the Church or another church in communion with the Church, so as to extend to such body Holy Orders as the Church holds them, or to administer on behalf of such religious body Confirmation without the express consent and commission of the proper authority in the Church….” Applied strictly to the information under study, none of these three provisions was deemed applicable by a majority of the Board.

A basic question the Board faced was whether actions by conventions of the Diocese of South Carolina, though they seem—I repeat, seem—to be pointing toward abandonment of the Church and its discipline by the diocese, and even though supported by the Bishop, constitute abandonment by the Bishop. A majority of the members of the Board was unable to conclude that they do.

It is also significant that Bishop Lawrence has repeatedly stated that he does not intend to lead the diocese out of The Episcopal Church—that he only seeks a safe place within the Church to live the Christian faith as that diocese perceives it. I speak for myself only at this point, that I presently take the Bishop at his word, and hope that the safety he seeks for the apparent majority in his diocese within the larger Church will become the model for safety—a “safe place”—for those under his episcopal care who do not agree with the actions of South Carolina’s convention and/or his position on some of the issues of the Church.

The Right Rev’d Dorsey F. Henderson, Jr.
President, Disciplinary Board for Bishops

For extensive background on this case, see ENS Disciplinary Board dismisses abandonment complaint against South Carolina bishop by Mary Frances Schjonberg

…Lawrence told the diocese Oct. 5 that he was being investigated for abandonment. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the House of Bishops were not involved in making the claims, Henderson said at the time via a “fact sheet.”

The package of documents alleging his abandonment of the church that Lawrence said he received Sept. 29 from Henderson, is posted here on the diocese’s website. The documents contained 12 allegations of when Lawrence’s “actions and inactions” sought to abandon the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church…

And an earlier ENS report is: South Carolina bishop investigated on charges he has abandoned the Episcopal Church.

Doug LeBlanc recently interviewed Bishop Lawrence for the Living Church, see ‘The Bishop Brings the Crozier’.

Update Tuesday evening
The following has been published on the diocesan website: Bishop Lawrence Writes to the Diocese About Disciplinary Board Decision.

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More on the South Carolina disciplinary case

Updated Thursday evening

Last week’s report is here.

Since the last update, several more developments have occurred.

On 14 October, The Living Church reported Church Attorney Recuses Herself

On 17 October, The Living Church reported Attorney J.B. Burtch Returns to Lawrence Case.

And the ACI published South Carolina: Upholding The Church’s Discipline By Upholding The Constitution.

And Anglican Curmudgeon published The Kangaroo Court Should Resign in Toto.

The next day, Preludium asked Why is the old TItle IV better than the new?

And today, the Bishop of Upper South Carolina, Andrew Waldo wrote an opinion column for The State newspaper titled Unity, diversity both necessary and possible in Episcopal Church.

Episcopalians in the Columbia-based Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina are watching with heavy hearts as our brothers and sisters in the Charleston-based Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina contend with allegations that their bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, has “abandoned the communion” of the Episcopal Church.

We appreciate Bishop Dorsey Henderson’s clarification that the church’s disciplinary board, which he chairs, is merely looking to see if the charges have merit, not prosecuting Bishop Lawrence on the basis of them (“Calm urged over Lawrence inquiry,” Friday).

I consider Bishop Lawrence a friend and respected fellow-laborer in the vineyards of the Lord. I know him to be a loyal and faithful minister who seeks to raise valid and serious questions as to the theology, polity and structure of the Episcopal Church. Our church has a long history of theological diversity and respect for those with whom we disagree, and we can all benefit from the challenge of addressing these questions openly and in a spirit of mutual charity. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that is too often hostile to disagreement and unwilling to engage in honest dialogue with those who have different views. Our churches are not immune from this, and all who follow a loving God have each to ask God to forgive us for any roles we may have played in that hostility over the years.

I do not intend to prejudge the matters being considered by the review board; however, it is hard for me to see how the actions complained of against Bishop Lawrence rise to the level of an intentional abandonment of the communion of this church, as is charged. I have difficulty understanding why matters that are arguably legislative and constitutional in nature should be dealt with in a disciplinary context. I await the report and yet hope the review board shares my difficulty…

Thursday evening update
ACI has published South Carolina: The Church Needs Transparency

We have considered carefully the available information related to the allegations against Bishop Mark Lawrence that are currently under review by the Disciplinary Board for Bishops. That information discloses an extended and troubling sequence of events that raises serious questions about transparency in the church…

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PA Supreme Court rejects Archbishop Duncan's appeal

Updated Wednesday evening

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has rejected the last appeal made by the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh (ACNA).

From the court document (PDF):


ORDER

PER CURIAM
         And now, this 17th day of October, 2011 the Petition for Allowance of Appeal is hereby DENIED.

From the diocesan website:

On October 17, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the request of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh to appeal the ruling of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

18th October, A.D. 2011
Feast of St. Luke

TO ALL CLERGY AND LAY LEADERS OF THE ANGLICAN DIOCESE:

Dearest Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

I write to you today to inform you that our appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has been rejected. We accept that the courts have not found in our favor and will, of course, comply with all court orders.

We remain committed to reaching a negotiated settlement with the Episcopal Church diocese. In light of this judgment by the courts, we will redouble that commitment to reaching a final resolution of all issues between the Episcopal Church diocese and the Anglican diocese through negotiation.

We intend to persevere in our mission, which is to be Anglican Christians transforming our world with Jesus Christ. We do this chiefly by planting congregations. As at every annual Convention since realignment, congregations are being added to our diocese both locally and across the country, for which we give thanks to God. We pray God’s continued favor on our mission, his grace towards those who remain within the Episcopal Church, and his help for our beloved Communion as we move into the challenges and opportunities of this new millennium. May the Gospel of our Lord Christ find a fresh hearing all across his Church and his world!

Faithfully your Bishop and Archbishop,

The Most Rev. Robert Duncan
Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh
Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America

Update

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has issued this statement: Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal of Property Rulings.

n an order issued October 17, 2011, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania rejected an appeal seeking to challenge lower court rulings holding that, under the terms of the 2005 settlement of the Calvary suit, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church was the rightful trustee of diocesan-held property.

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision. The issues presented to the court had been adequately reviewed and ruled on, first by the Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County, then on appeal by Commonwealth Court. Each ruling consistently supported the position of the Episcopal Diocese. We hope that all litigation over these issues will now cease.

The Court’s ruling also affirms that the Episcopal Diocese holds the title to the property of a number of parishes where congregations had ceased to actively participate in the Diocese. We will continue to encourage them to return to active participation in the Diocese, and in the meantime to be good stewards of the property. This Diocese remains committed to working through these issues with each of the affected congregations.

A previous diocesan statement, which includes a link to the Commonwealth Court decision, is available here.

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further developments in the South Carolina case

Updated Friday evening

Following on from here, the stream of material continues. Making sense of it all is not easy.

The Diocese of South Carolina has issued this: Diocese Releases Correspondence Relating to Josephine Hicks, Church Attorney

The Living Church has published Bishop: Attorney Never on Disciplinary Board.

TitusOneNine has published a helpful index of documents published so far.

Episcopal Café has published an analysis of events, titled The game is afoot in South Carolina.

Preludium has published On this business of accession to the General Convention and What to do if you (Diocese of South Carolina) don’t like Title IV (or TEC’s “direction.”)

Anglican Curmudgeon has published Why Would Any Disciplinary Board Choose Ms. Hicks?

Friday evening update
Living Church Church Attorney Recuses Herself

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South Carolina bishop: more on the disciplinary process

Updated yet again Thursday afternoon

See earlier report South Carolina bishop accused of “abandonment”.

In the comments to that article, I provided links to some criticisms of what was, at the time, assumed to be the process being followed. It now appears that those assumptions were wrong. The Living Church reports:

In response to questions from The Living Church and others, the Rt. Rev. Dorsey Henderson, president of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, provided this explanation regarding accusations brought to the board against the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, Bishop of South Carolina.

See Bp. Henderson Explains Disciplinary Board’s Duty.

A question has arisen about the process for administration of the so-called “abandonment” canon (Title IV.16) especially as it applies to bishops. Although it has come in a couple of forms, the question might be expressed in this way: “Who initiates action when information arises which indicates that abandonment of The Episcopal Church may have occurred?”

In accordance with the canon, such proceedings are begun at the initiative of the Disciplinary Board itself (although this has not happened within memory, if ever), or when information is received by the Disciplinary Board from any credible source with standing to raise the issue. Perhaps the following is helpful.

Title IV.16 is entitled “Of Abandonment of The Episcopal Church,” and sub-section (A) is the portion thereof which relates to bishops. It designates that conduct which constitutes abandonment and specifies the process for administration of the canon when such conduct happens, or is alleged to have happened.

Title IV.17 is entitled “Of Proceedings for Bishops.” It addresses terminology applicable to Title IV.16, but the canons make clear that the process to be followed for abandonment is markedly different from that to be followed with other kinds of infractions…

This has provoked further critical comments:

ACI Title IV: Abandonment Without Offense? and Anglican Curmudgeon Bishop Henderson: It’s “Business as Usual” in the Church.

The full text of the Title IV canons can be found here (PDF).

Some more background can be found in this ENS news report from June: Disciplinary Board for Bishops formed for new Title IV canons.

Wednesday evening update

The Diocese of South Carolina has published this account of a meeting held yesterday, Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese Meet to Discuss “Serious Charges” Made Against Bishop Lawrence.

In an atmosphere of prayerful solemnity, the Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina gathered at Saint James Church, James Island, S.C. for more than two hours on Tuesday, October 12. In focus were the “serious charges” that have been made against Bishop Mark Lawrence and the diocese under the new Title IV canons.

Bishop Lawrence began by restating the diocesan vision of “Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age” and then traced the history of the current controversy in The Episcopal Church and the many obstacles they presented to pursuing our diocesan vision. He ended with the two recent diocesan conventions in which the diocese refused to be coerced into the Episcopal Church’s embrace of the new title IV canons which violate both due process and the Episcopal Church’s own constitution. Of further concern with the current allegations is that evidently this process doesn’t allow the accused to know who his accusers are…

Thursday lunchtime update

The State a newspaper in South Carolina reports Bishop urges calm over Lawrence inquiry

Retired Episcopal Bishop Dorsey F. Henderson Jr. sought Wednesday to quell tensions among S.C. Lowcountry clergy, saying the national church is not attacking its bishop, the Right Rev. Mark Lawrence.

Henderson, who heads the national Episcopal Church’s Disciplinary Board for Bishops, told Lawrence Sept. 29 that the board is investigating allegations, made by churchgoers within Lawrence’s diocese, that he abandoned the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church.

But Wednesday Henderson made clear that the inquiry is in its earliest stages and in no way implies that Lawrence may have committed any wrong. Henderson said he notified Lawrence and shared all the information the board had received.

“I thought he needed to know,” said Henderson, who led the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina until his retirement in 2009. “I thought it was only fair for him to know that we had this information and that we were studying it.”

…But Henderson said, “The idea that the Episcopal Church is after Bishop Lawrence and after the diocese is incorrect. I’m going to keep the board focused and, as much as humanly possible, to stay narrowly focused on the canon and to see if that information fits the definition of abandonment.”

Thursday afternoon update

Bishop Henderson has issued a further statement which is copied in full below the fold.

(more…)

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South Carolina bishop accused of "abandonment"

A complaint has been made, by some members of his diocese, that the Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence has “abandoned” The Episcopal Church.

See these news reports:

Episcopal News Service Mary Frances Schjonberg South Carolina bishop investigated on charges he has abandoned the Episcopal Church

…The allegations are being investigated by the church’s Disciplinary Board for Bishops. Communicants in the Diocese of South Carolina filed the information with the board, according to the Rt. Rev. Dorsey Henderson, board president. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the House of Bishops were not involved in making the claims, Henderson said in a fact sheet released by the church’s Office of Public Affairs.

“Therefore, the matter is not being handled by the Presiding Bishop’s office or anyone in the employ of the Episcopal Church Center,” Henderson said in the fact sheet.

Henderson said he has been in contact with Lawrence, whose ministry has not been restricted during this phase of the process.

Under Title IV, Canon 16, a bishop is deemed to have abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church by an open renunciation of the doctrine, discipline or worship of the church; by formal admission into any religious body not in communion with the church; or by exercising episcopal acts in and for a religious body other than the church or another church in communion with the church…

Living Church Doug LeBlanc Board Hears Case against Bp. Lawrence

The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, Bishop of South Carolina, is being investigated on accusations of abandoning the Episcopal Church, and his diocese has released a 63-page document of the evidence brought against him.

Lawrence and the Very Rev. Paul C. Fuener, president of the diocese’s standing committee wrote in a letter to members of the diocese that on Sept. 29 the bishop “received communication from the President of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops that ‘serious charges’ have been made under Title IV of the Canons of The Episcopal Church. … Since several of these allegations also include actions taken by the Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina, after sustained prayer and discernment, it has seemed appropriate to both the Bishop and the Standing Committee to make these allegations available to the members of the Diocese.”

See these documents:

  • Text of memo released by Dorsey Henderson, retired Bishop of Upper South Carolina, president of the 18-member Title IV Disciplinary Board copied below the fold.

(more…)

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David Moyer leaves Good Shepherd, Rosemont

From the website of the Diocese of Pennsylvania: Judge Rules in Good Shepherd, Rosemont, Case:

On Friday, August 26, the Honorable Stanley Ott issued an Order stating that David Moyer, a Bishop in the Traditional Anglican Communion, and two other individuals no longer have any right or authority to serve as rector or on the vestry of the Church of the Good Shepherd, located in Rosemont Pennsylvania. Judge Ott determined that the Standing Committee and Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese are charged with the responsibility of deciding whether an individual may serve in the pulpit of an Episcopal Church and whether particular members of a vestry have acted in compliance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. Judge Ott’s Order was effective immediately and, as of this date, neither Bishop Moyer nor the two individuals have sought a stay of the Order which, if granted, might allow Bishop Moyer to remain at Good Shepherd pending any appeal.

By way of background, the individuals who founded the Church of the Good Shepherd over a century ago included language in the deeds and in the Church’s Articles of Incorporation which provided that the parish was to be forever operated in accordance with the Canons and Constitution of the Episcopal Church. Fundamentally, of course, this required the Vestry to employ as rector a priest licensed by the Bishop to officiate in this Diocese and to undertake the same burdens and responsibilities imposed by the Episcopal Church and the Diocese on all of the parishes in this Diocese. Bishop Moyer has not been licensed by the Bishop to officiate in this Diocese since 2002; the Vestry has employed a series of assistant rectors at Good Shepherd which likewise had not been licensed and had otherwise failed to comply with the requirements of the Diocesan Canons and Canons of the Episcopal Church…

The judge’s order can be read in full from here (PDF).

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported this: Defrocked Episcopal priest loses bid to retain Montco parish.

The statement from the vestry of the parish can be found here.

A farewell address by David Moyer is on the parish website.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As Tuesday’s Vestry email stated, I respect and submit to Judge Ott’s Decree. This means that my ministry as Rector has ended.

I am now engaged in what is required to move out of my office, and in informing the Vestry what the specific areas are that have been my responsibility for the past twenty-one years, and the areas I assumed beyond set and expected responsibilities.

I want to repeat what I have said previously. I know that as individuals and as families, whatever choices are made (and they may change in the future), I love you all, and will never let different choices break the bonds of affection and care I have for all of you…

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TEC Commission reports on the Covenant

The Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church has issued a report on the Anglican Covenant.

See this ENS news report: Task force releases report on Anglican Covenant.

“The SCCC is of the view that adoption of the current draft Anglican Covenant has the potential to change the constitutional and canonical framework of [the Episcopal Church], particularly with respect to the autonomy of our Church, and the constitutional authority of our General Convention, bishops and dioceses,” says the report.

The full text of the report can be found here as a PDF.

Mark Harris has commented on it: The Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons’ report. There it is.

Lionel Deimel has Analysis of the Report from the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons.

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How Americans choose a bishop

Jim Naughton has written a piece for Ruth Gledhill’s blog about this (original behind Times paywall).

A copy of the article also appears at the Daily Episcopalian. See Courting the Holy Spirit by practicing retail politics.

Last week, while the Church of England was dealing with embarrassing revelations about how badly the Archbishops of Canterbury and York had behaved while selecting the current Bishop of Southwark, I was observing the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D. C. as it prepared to choose the successor of Bishop John Bryson Chane, who retires in November.

The process that I witnessed was so different than the one described by the late Dean Colin Slee in his now-famous memo, that it seems almost unfair to draw comparisons. In filling the vacancy in Southwark, the English method of appointing bishops was clearly at its worst. Or so one hopes. A story of subterfuge leavened with a dash of Python-like absurdity, it featured a media leak meant to scuttle two candidacies, clumsy attempts to blame the leak on an innocent party, an investigation into the leak whose findings have been kept secret, and a delicious moment in which the Archbishop of York lobbied for votes while leading a group outing to the toilet. Little wonder that members of the Crown Nominating Committee were reduced to tears during the proceedings.

The process in Washington, on the other hand, has run relatively smoothly so far, although the election will not be held until June 18…

What Jim describes is, I think, what we here would call a “hustings”.

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Los Angeles declines to endorse Anglican Covenant

The Diocese of Los Angeles has issued this press release: Diocese of Los Angeles declines to endorse Anglican Covenant.

And there is this video documenting the process by which Diocesan Convention initiated the response.

Here is an extract:

… We are concerned about the omission of the laity from Section 3. As St. Paul teaches, we are all of us the Body of Christ and individually members thereof (I Corinthians 12). There are four orders of ministry in the Church – bishops, priests, deacons and lay people, who also minister as members of the baptized people of God. Such an ecclesiology should both undergird the theology expressed in the Covenant and the church structures developed as means of connecting and serving the churches of the Communion. A Covenant to which we could subscribe would need to re-imagine the Instruments of Communion to provide a stronger representation from all the orders of ministry.

Section 4 is of greatest concern. It creates a punitive, bureaucratic, juridical process within the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, elevating its authority over the member churches despite previous affirmations of member church autonomy (see, e.g., Section 4.1.3). It contains no clear process for dispute resolution, no checks and balances, no right of appeal. The concept of mediation, introduced in Section 3.2.6, is not mentioned in Section 4. The covenant’s focus on “maintenance, dispute and withdrawal” bodes of an immobilized church mission instead of one that is flexible and prophetic. For these reasons, we cannot agree to Section 4.

We cannot endorse a covenant that, for the first time in the history of The Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion, will pave the way toward emphasizing perceived negative differences instead of our continuing positive and abundant commonality. We strongly urge more direct face-to-face dialogue, study, prayer and education before the adoption of a document that has such historic significance in the life of the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church. Our differences should not be seen as something that must be proved wrong or endured but rather a motivation to dig deeper into discerning God’s purposes for God’s church…

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Chicago Consultation publishes The Genius of Anglicanism

press release from The Chicago Consultation

CHICAGO CONSULTATION RELEASES PUBLICATION ON PROPOSED ANGLICAN COVENANT

The Genius of Anglicanism includes essays by theologians, church leaders

April 5, 2011—The Chicago Consultation, which advocates for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the worldwide Anglican Communion, has released a collection of essays and study questions on the proposed Anglican Covenant.

The Genius of Anglicanism, a 64-page booklet, includes eight essays and study questions, and may be downloaded at no cost at www.chicagoconsultation.org.

“We believe that congregations, bishops, General Convention deputations and individual Episcopalians will benefit from this careful exploration of the proposed covenant,” said the Rev. Lowell Grisham, co-convener of the Chicago Consultation and rector of St. Paul’s Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

“The proposed covenant is a complex document that could have a major impact on the Episcopal Church and its many vital and longstanding relationships within the wider Anglican Communion,” he added. “We are grateful that well-respected theologians, clergy and lay leaders were willing to analyze it for us.”

The Very Rev. Jane Shaw, Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and former dean of divinity at New College, Oxford, wrote the introduction for the guide, which was edited by Jim Naughton and includes essays by:

  • The Rev. Ruth Meyers, Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California, on the relationship of the proposed covenant to the Baptismal Covenant of the Episcopal Church
  • The Rev. Ellen Wondra, editor in chief of the Anglican Theological Review and academic dean at Seabury Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois on how a theological innovation, such as the proposed covenant is received or rejected by a community of faith
  • The Rev. Timothy Sedgwick, Clinton S. Quin Professor of Christian Ethics at Virginia Theological Seminary, on the concept of episcopal authority in the proposed covenant
  • Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Mary Wolfe Professor Emerita of Historical Theology at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cam bridge, Massachusetts, on how the proposed covenant will affect the participation of the laity in Communion affairs
  • The Rev. Canon Mark Harris, of the Diocese of Delaware, a member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council on the proposed covenant and the traditional concept of “the historic episcopate locally adapted”
  • Sally Johnson, chancellor to Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies on the judicial and disciplinary provisions in the fourth section of the proposed covenant
  • The Rev. Gay Jennings, the Episcopal Church’s clergy representative to the Anglican Consultative Council, on the Anglican Communion’s existing covenant, which is grounded in the Five Marks of Mission
  • The Rev. Winnie Varghese, priest-in-charge at St. Mark’s-Church-in-the-Bowery in New York City and member of Executive Council on the kind of covenant necessary to make the Communion an ally of the poor and the oppressed.

Grisham, who prepared the study questions that accompany each essay, said he believes the booklet will be widely used in the run-up to the Episcopal Church’s next General Convention in July 2012.

The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. To learn more about the Chicago Consultation, visit www.chicagoconsultation.org.

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Court rejects request to review in Pittsburgh

The Diocese of Pittsburgh reports that the earlier court decision in its favour is upheld.

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has turned down a request made by former diocesan leaders to reargue their appeal of a lower court’s ruling concerning diocesan property.

On February 2, 2011, Commonwealth Court affirmed the decision by Judge Joseph James of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County that found the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church to be the rightful trustee of diocesan-held property and assets, based on a Stipulation the former diocesan leaders agreed to in 2005. Those former leaders had appealed Judge James’ decision to Commonwealth Court, and two weeks after the appeals court affirmed Judge James, they asked the appeals court to reconsider its ruling.

The actual court order is available as a PDF, but the content is reproduced here:

NOW, March 29 2011, having considered appellants’ application for re-argument before the court en banc and appellees’ answer, the application is denied.

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Judgment in Colorado Springs

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports Armstrong sentenced to probation, $99,247 restitution.

A judge Friday sentenced the Rev. Donald Armstrong to four years probation for his no-contest plea to one count of misdemeanor theft of funds from the Colorado Springs church where he once served as rector.

Fourth Judicial District Judge Gregory R. Werner also ordered Armstrong to pay restitution in the amount of $99,247 that was diverted to pay for his son’s and daughter’s college education. The money came from a trust fund originally set up to pay for the education of seminary students…

And the Colorado Springs Independent has Armstrong avoids jail time, must pay $99,247 in restitution.

The Rev. Don Armstrong won’t have to serve any jail time for misusing funds while he was rector of Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

That ruling came Friday afternoon from 4th Judicial District Judge Gregory Werner, who upheld an earlier plea agreement that gives Armstrong two concurrent four-year probation terms for no-contest pleas involving his stewardship of a Grace scholarship fund called the Bowton Trust.

Werner did order Armstrong to pay $99,247 in restitution to Grace for money that went from the Bowton Trust to pay for his children’s college-related expenses. Werner singled out those funds because, he said, Armstrong had fiduciary responsibility over the trust as Grace’s rector.

The judge also ordered that, during his probation, Armstrong will have to do 400 hours of community service outside his current church, St. George’s Anglican Church. The 61-year-old rector also must disclose all of his current finances and is prohibited from managing the finances of any church or group in a fiduciary role…

An earlier and very long article in the Independent Judgment day for the Rev. Armstrong reviewed the whole background to this case in considerable detail. Worth reading. It also reports that:

The 61-year-old is as comfortable as ever in pushing his conservative theology from the pulpit, as in his sermon Feb. 6 when Armstrong chastised the daughters of George W. Bush and John McCain for “speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage,” adding, “how quickly we should see it as human-centered thinking, not God’s teaching.”

Armstrong remains a priest in good standing in CANA, under Bishop Martyn Minns, which is part of either ACNA, or part of CoN (Anglican Communion) or possibly both.

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Appeals Court upholds Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh

Updated again Saturday morning

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports: Court upholds Episcopal Diocese’s claim to assets.

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has upheld an Allegheny Common Pleas decision awarding centrally held property of the Episcopal diocese that split in 2008 to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh rather than to the rival Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

About $20 million in endowment funds and other assets is at stake. The ruling has no direct impact on ownership of parish property, other than indicating that Anglican parishes must apply to the Episcopal diocese to negotiate for their property, rather than vice versa.

The Anglican diocese has not decided whether to pursue a further appeal.

Lionel Deimel has further details of this, see Details of Commonwealth Court Ruling.

The full text of the judgment can be read from a PDF file here.

There is now a fuller story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Episcopal diocese wins a legal round.

Episcopal Bishop Kenneth Price Jr. welcomed the decision, which arrived the day his diocese reached the first settlement with an Anglican parish. It required that parish to cut ties with the Anglican diocese for five years.

“We are pleased with the court’s findings and hope this will be the final legal challenge concerning this issue,” he said.

He invited Anglican congregations “to join us in negotiating a settlement to our differences.”

Archbishop Duncan, who is also primate of the theologically conservative Anglican Church in North America, hasn’t decided whether to appeal.

“The decision of the appellate court is deeply disappointing,” he said. “In the next hours and days the bishop and standing committee will pray and take counsel about our corporate path forward.”

The Episcopal Diocese has issued this press release: Appeals Court Upholds Diocese in Assets Case

Update This press release has been issued: A Pastoral Letter to the Clergy and People of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh which includes the following paragraph:

…The Standing Committee met on Wednesday night, February 2nd. Three important decisions were made. First, we will petition the appellate court for a re-hearing, which means the lower court’s ruling will not yet be final. Second, the Standing Committee and Diocesan leadership (Bishop’s Office, Trustees and Council) will do everything we can to keep all our congregations working together. Third, the Standing Committee will work tirelessly for a negotiated end to the strife between the Anglican and Episcopal Church Dioceses…

Pittburgh Post-Gazette Anglican diocese asks court to rehear case

The filing, which must be made within 14 days, is not an appeal but an outright request for the same court to hear the case over, citing errors of fact in the ruling which was authored by Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer.

“There are some points of fact that are incorrect in the ruling,” said David Trautman, a spokesman for the Anglican diocese. “We are giving the court a chance to correct those errors.”

He did not specify the errors the Anglicans contend are in the ruling.

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