|"We must have unity, not at all costs, but at all risks. A unified Church is the only offering we dare present to the coming Christ, for in it alone will He find room to dwell." - Charles Henry Brent|
Links and Resources
An excerpt from Katie's report:
The entire report is well worth reading. Find it here.
(6/18/10) [+]The Convent Station Statement on the changing ethos of the Anglican Communion from The Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission
The APLM is a network of Anglicans in North America, established in 1946 to promote liturgical renewal in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. They seem to have a good understanding of what it means to be Anglican and Episcopal.
(6/11/10) [+]Episcopal-Anglican updates, June 2010
See a Church Times (UK) article about the response of the Presiding Bishop and the Presiding Bishop of Canada here.
Pre-Convention Meetings Scheduled
The Bishop's Office has announced the times and locations of pre-convention meetings leading up to the Albany Diocesan Convention in June. Possible approval by convention of the current draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant will be a subject of discussion. Tell your parish delegates how you stand on the covenant. Even if you are not a delegate to convention, try to attend one of the meetings. They will be sure to be interesting.
Our annual Diocesan Convention is scheduled for June 11, 12 and 13. In preparation for Convention, four pre-convention meetings will be held at four locations around the Diocese.
The Response to the vote from the Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh is here. More analysis from Mark Harris here. and here.
No Negotiation With Schismatics
Every once in awhile we hear of a Bishop or Standing Committee who negotiates some kind of settlement with a group that wants to claim Abps. Akinola of Nigeria, Venables of the Southern Cone, Orombi of Uganda or Nzimbi of Kenya as their Primate. I want to suggest that such negotiations are not an appropriate pastoral response. Every instance of negotiation with a congregation who imagines they can pick their Bishop and Primate by a vote is deeply harmful to the Episcopal Church.
To understand why I made that statement, you have to keep the big picture in mind. First of all recall what we learned from the 2003 Chapman Memo:
Keep that phrase, "replacement jurisdiction" in mind. If you read the entire memo, the plan becomes quite obvious. A handful of folks, primarily bishops, priests, and attorneys, are trying to orchestrate a takeover of the Episcopal Church; building this "parallel universe" on the backs of our gay and lesbian members. So it was in 2003. So it is today.Read it all.
(1/25/08) [+]Another perspective of the Bonnie Anderson visit
Yesterday's gathering, sponsored by Albany Via Media, held at St. Andrew's Church, Albany with guests Bonnie Anderson, President of the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies and Albany Bishop William Love was an informative experience. I make 2 points:
1) I experienced another side to Bp. Love at this meeting. His tone was judgmental and his patience short. Figuratively, he slapped Bonnie Anderson in the face more than once. He expressed disappointment with members of Albany Via Media and more than once became angry with people who asked questions. On one occasion, when asked why there was a link on the diocesan website to VirtueOnLine and not to Albany Via Media, he denied it. When pressed by the questioner, he said "If it offends you, don't read it." The questioner broke into tears and left the room.
2) There were 225 Episcopalians from the Diocese of Albany present as well as an Episcopalian who came to support ALBANY VIA MEDIA from the DIOCESE OF OHIO! Bishop Love sat stone cold on the panel which included Bonnie Anderson and my Rector, The Rev. Dr. James R. Brooks-McDonald, of St. Stephen's, Schenectady I believe that Bp. Love received a rude wake up call yesterday--for the FIRST TIME in his EPISCOPATE and for the first time since 1998--when Herzog's Episcopate began. Those folks in the Diocese of Albany who were aligned with Mr. Herzog DID NOT HAVE ANY CONTROL OVER THE AGENDA YESTERDAY
WE, THOSE OF US, WHO HAVE IN MANY WAYS BEEN SHUT OUT FROM THE COUNCILS OF THIS CHURCH (Councils of the Church in ALBANY--not ECUSA) were HEARD AND LISTENED TO... WE HAD OUR TURN
I felt proud to be an EPISCOPALIAN yesterday, more so than on most days! After having been silenced by Mr. Herzog for years, we finally had the opportunity to voice our concerns publicly. I believe we spoke truth to power.
Dennis Wisnom, layperson St. Stephen’s, Schenectady & Member of AVM II Epiphany January 20, 2008
Communication must remain focused on unity in Christ, Bishop Love says
[Episcopal News Service] Close to 300 members of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany spent the afternoon January 19 talking about how the diocese might have more open communication and more dialogue on the subjects about which the members disagree.
Earlier in the afternoon, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson had challenged that group sitting in the nave of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Albany, New York, to "venture in your diocese toward creating a model of open conversation." Such a model, she said, could be a gift to the rest of the Episcopal Church.
The occasion for the discussion was a meeting titled "Can we talk? Faith and Diversity in the Episcopal Church," sponsored by Albany Via Media, which calls itself an organization of clergy and lay Episcopalians seeking to keep the diocese aligned with the Episcopal Church.
The diocese is a founding member of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (NACDP), also known as the Anglican Communion Network. The organization began in January 2004. Nine other Episcopal Church dioceses are members, including Fort Worth, Pittsburgh and San Joaquin, where the bishop and leadership recently voted to join the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.
The decision to join NACDP was made while Love was still a priest in the Diocese of Albany. He was ordained and consecrated bishop in September 2006, and succeeded Bishop Daniel Herzog as diocesan bishop in February 2007.
In late September 2007 Love was one of 13 active or former Episcopal Church diocesan bishops who attended a four-day meeting of the Common Cause Council of Bishops in Pittsburgh. The purpose of the meeting was to establish the timeline and procedures for developing "an Anglican union" in North America outside of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. The organizers anticipate the union will be recognized by some Anglican Communion Primates and provinces.
Anderson noted in a local television interview January 19 that Love has not made any statements saying he intends to attempt to lead the diocese out of the Episcopal Church.
Before the Eucharist that began the January 19 gathering, the Rev. James Brooks-McDonald, rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Schenectady, looked out over the nave and called the gathering "historic."
"We’ve never had this kind of mix, open communication," he said, adding that he had "tremendous respect for Bishop Love" for agreeing to participate in the gathering.
"He's here. That takes guts," Anita Renault Ford, a member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Albany, said at the end of the afternoon. "I have to give him credit for coming...I hope he can be open to conversation."
Love changed the planned order of service for the Eucharist, opting to begin with the penitential order for Rite II thus, as he pointed out, placing the confession at the opening of the service. During his nearly 40-minute sermon in what was scheduled to be an hour Eucharist, Love preached that everyone is broken and in need of God's love and forgiveness.
The propers for the Eucharist were those for the unity of the church (Isaiah 35:1-10, Psalm 122, Ephesians 4:1-16, and John 17a, 15-23) and Love repeatedly returned to the gospel in which Jesus prays to God that all of his followers would be in him and in God "so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
How the Diocese of Albany and the Episcopal Church deals with its differences seems to show the world what the Christian life and Christian community is all about, Love said.
"Our disunity becomes a divisive force that cause people not to want to come to Christ," he said.
Love reminded the meeting that Jesus told his followers to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them.
"This is a message that the church desperately needs to hear because we have been tricked -- we have been deceived by Satan, and, yes, Satan is real," he said. "The power of evil is real. We have been deceived into believing that those who don't think the same way that we do are somehow our enemies and they should be vilified; they should be destroyed if at all possible. We have only to look around the church to see how that is being lived out. It is a brokenness that is taking place, hearts that are being hardened and turned away from one another and, more importantly, turned away from God."
Recalling that a promise to seeking justice is part of the Baptismal Covenant, Love said justice comes when people can call each other to account for their behavior and say "God loves you, but that's not what God wants for you." The promise to help each other live up to their baptismal vows does not mean "live your life however you choose, you have my blessing," he said. Rather it is a promise that "I'll nudge you back" on the right path when you stray.
During her keynote address, Anderson said she had accepted Albany Via Media's invitation in order to "help in the process of open conversation," adding that she thought Love was willing to participate.
Anderson echoed a comment from Love's sermon about division in the church not being unique to the present age. "We've always been working it out," she said. "We've always been trying to figure out how to live together. We will continue to do that unless we abandon this project of communion."
However, she said, "I don’t think it's enough to say we're seeking Christian unity without actually seeking Christian unity," adding that "the how is almost as important as the what."
Anderson was asked during the question-and-answer session about how she has seen other dioceses handle differences of opinion and theology.
"The primary ingredient is intentionality, supported by prayer and worship," she said. "It's not going to work if you just randomly come together...you really need to be intentional about goals, about how you're going to talk together, what are your rules about collegiality."
In her keynote address, Anderson had told the gathering "You cannot get on with God's work until you trust each other, until you see Christ in each other and pray for each other."
Brooks-MacDonald, the former Albany Via Media president, commented on Anderson's answer, admitting that "I haven't seen some of the people in this room in years,"
"That's my problem and I appreciate that...I need to be intentional about that," he added.
One participant, Harriet Warnock-Graham from St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Troy, New York, said that for such conversation she would like to see "a set of non-negotiables." A recent transplant from the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, Warnock-Graham told Love that she found it "offensive" that some people in Albany will not worship together because they disagree.
Although Love acknowledged that the members of the diocese have "very divergent and differing views" on human sexuality, he said he thinks that everyone wants the same thing. That common goal, he said is to determine "how best to minister to people who identify themselves as homosexuals and how best to minister to people who are heterosexual" but are living together outside the confines of marriage.
"When part of us believes that Holy Scripture is quite clear" about how to live out our sexuality and another part believes that there is room for interpretation and change, "that is where we struggle," Love said.
Holy Scripture, 2,000 years of church tradition and, until recently, much of society agreed that human sexuality ought only to be expressed in heterosexual marriage, Love said.
Scripture is not "static," Anderson said, adding that "I believe that new truths are revealed through our life in Christ."
"This isn't the first time we've come to new understandings of Scripture," she said. "We interpret [Scripture] through the living God who acts in our lives every day."
In answer to questions about a listening process in the diocese, Love said that the goal of such a process would have to be defined and accepted so that it is not assumed that the aim was to have a single viewpoint accepted by all.
"To think that I have not been listening or that other people in our diocese have not been listening is a misunderstanding," said Love, who had just completed a listening tour of the diocese, spending two days in each of the deaneries.
The calm tone of the discussion bubbled over when two men, one who described himself as gay and one who described himself as straight and married, objected to a link on the diocese's website to a blog called Virtueonline, which describes itself as "The Voice for Global Orthodoxy." The site's proprietor, David W. Virtue, routinely refers to homosexuals as "sodomites."
The Albany website lists Virtueonline as Virtuosity [sic], its previous name. It is one of six blog sites on a page of links labeled “Anglican News Sources.”
While the majority of the links on the page go to resources and organizations that could be labeled "conservative," a link to The Witness, an online magazine that is considered to be far apart from Virtueonline in its theology and opinions, is included in the page's Books and Periodical section. The page's News Wire section includes a link to Anglicans Online, which might be categorized as more "liberal" than Stand Firm, which is also linked to from the page.
At the first comment about the link, made by the gay man who objected to Virtue's language, Love said he would have to review the list of links, adding, "Let me suggest to you that if that [language] offends you, don't read it." His suggestion drew hoots and near-boos from the audience.
When the married man returned to the subject a few questions later, he told Love that "we're hurting our brothers and sisters" when such language is used. The bishop, noting that the diocesan leadership agrees with some but not all of what appears on Virtueonline, apologized for his earlier statement and said that "you will never hear those words come from me."
Some participants said that news of the January gathering was not posted in the calendar on the diocese's website and that other news from Albany Via Media is not allowed in the diocesan newspaper. Love placed his willingness to promote such gatherings within the context of his duty as a bishop to uphold the teaching, tradition and unity of the church.
"Communication is essential" in any relationship, Love acknowledged, but "the question is what are we going to talk about?"
"One of the dangers is that we lose our focus and we start focusing on that which divides us rather than that which unites us," he said.
"That which unites us is our Lord Jesus Christ," the bishop added, saying that Christ must be kept at the center of the conversation.
"There's a very fine line," he said, in determining whether an event "will be helpful in promoting the Gospel or will it only add to the division."
Love said he has not been "overly enthusiastic" about promoting activities "that I thought would only add to the problem" rather than be a "healing agent."
During the program, Albany Via Media President Robert Dodd announced that the collection taken during the Eucharist would be sent to Remain Episcopal, an organization of Episcopalians in the Diocese of San Joaquin who wanted to remain within the church. In addition, Mike Loesinger of St. Paul's in Albany told the gathering that the parish had taken up a special collection recently in support of Albany Via Media and gave Dodd a check for $1,000.
-- The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is Episcopal Life Media's correspondent for Episcopal Church governance, structure, and trends, as well as news of the dioceses of Province II (http://www.episcopalchurch.org/directory_11161_ENG_HTM.htm).
(12/12/07) [+]Via Media USA Press Release Regarding the Diocese of San Joaquin
VIA MEDIA USA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Christopher I. Wilkins, Ph.D., VMUSA Facilitator
December 12, 2007
Via Media Decries Destructive Actions of Diocesan Leadership in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin
Via Media USA views with regret the recent decision of Bishop John- David Schofield of San Joaquin to leave The Episcopal Church and join a separate Anglican province. It clearly is an act of abandonment of the communion of the church by the bishop and by those of the clergy who accept certificates declaring them clergy of the Province of the Southern Cone. As individuals, clergy and laity are free to make such decisions, however, and Via Media USA hopes that they will find the spiritual home they now seek.
Our immediate concern is for the continuing Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, whose members have now been abandoned by their leadership and must reconstitute the leadership structure of the diocese. The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin continues to exist. At least five parishes are part of that continuing diocese, and faithful remnants exist in many other parishes. We hope that others will join them, and we were heartened by the number who attended the post-convention meeting organized by Remain Episcopal (a member of the Via Media USA alliance).
Bishop Schofield's attempt to use convention votes to transfer the diocese to the Province of the Southern Cone is destructive. As the Presiding Bishop, the House of Bishops, the Executive Council, the president of the House of Deputies, and even the Archbishop of Canterbury have repeatedly made clear, such an action does not lie within the power of either an Episcopal bishop or an Episcopal diocese to enact. It also denies resolutions about the nature of the Anglican Communion affirmed by the bishops of the Communion at multiple meetings of the Lambeth Conference. The attempt to secede is a violation of the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church, of the ordination vows of clergy who voted for the measure, and of obligations that every deputy to the convention assumed upon election as a deputy. Much as a state cannot secede from the federal union, or a city secede from its state, or a neighborhood from a city, an Episcopal diocese cannot secede from The Episcopal Church. Dioceses are legally created by the General Convention of the church. They share in its councils, join in its common mission, and abide by its judgments. Those who lead dioceses hold a sacred trust to guard the unity and faith of the church.
This attempt to "realign" the diocese now requires that the faithful remnant reconstitute the diocese. Bishop Schofield's continued occupation of the offices of the diocese and his claim to all financial and property resources of the diocese deprives the continuing diocese of resources built up over the history of the diocese—first as a part of the Diocese of California, and then, for a half century, as a missionary district supported directly by The Episcopal Church, and finally as a diocese OF the church. This unnecessary and willful occupation not only will lead to costly litigation, but shows disdain for others with similar views who honorably departed as individuals from The Episcopal Church because they understood this route to be their obligation under the constitution and canons of the church they were leaving.
Our prayers and support go out to those who will continue the ministries in the ongoing, and, eventually, reconstituted and newly led, Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, and to those throughout the church and communion who will support them in these efforts. We hope that those who have now left The Episcopal Church will, if they persist on this road, walk it graciously under the terms that the law allows, and not force the church to do all that it could to protect the resources dedicated to its ministries, and to the world that a loving God has called it to serve.
(3/6/07) [+]Priest and Deacons Update 3/5/07
The most recent Priest and Deacons Update from Bishop Love contains some information regarding Bishop Bena which some people may find interesting.
March 5th, 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Below is a letter I recently received from Bishop Bena. At his request, I am forwarding it to you. As you will read in the letter, Bishop Bena, in faithful obedience to his understanding of God’s call, has transferred to the House of Bishops of Nigeria, where he has been received by Archbishop Peter Akinola. He will be working with the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, as a Missionary Bishop of CANA.
We are grateful to Bishop Bena for his many years of faithful service to our Lord and His Church, as Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Albany. We were richly blessed by him. We now wish Bishop Bena all God’s blessing as he answers this new call.
Faithfully Yours in Christ,
+William H. Love
Message from Bishop Bena:
The recent Primates Communiqué from Dar Es Salaam speaks of the need to "provide robust pastoral oversight to individuals and congregations alienated from the Episcopal Church with adequate space to flourish within the life of that church in the period leading up to the conclusion of the Covenant Process." Recently I was asked that, upon my retirement, to assist with oversight in this context outside the Diocese of Albany.
It is against such a backdrop that I have taken the following actions:
1. In January I requested Bishop Herzog to grant me a Letter Dimissory to the Province of Nigeria. This he did, and the Letter was formally received by Archbishop Peter Akinola, Primate, to become effective after my retirement
2. Since I have now been transferred from one Province in Communion with the See of Canterbury to another Province in Communion with the See of Canterbury, I am neither renouncing my Orders as a Bishop, nor am I abandoning the Communion of the Church.
I take these actions with no prejudice against the Diocese of Albany. This diocese is strong in following the Scriptures and the historic teachings of the Church, and it has chosen you, an outstanding man of God, to be its new bishop. This diocese is doing well in following the orthodox teachings of the Church. Many parishes in the Anglican Communion are not, however, in such a safe environment as is found in the Diocese of Albany. It is to these entities that I have been asked to minister. There is much disenfranchisement in the land today, with a consequent need for strong pastoral oversight. As God gives me strength, I will offer such leadership. Meanwhile, I pray that the "Foundations" Document unanimously endorsed by all Primates, including the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, will pave the way for a healing in this country, as well as a return to the historic teachings of the Church.
There may be media attention regarding the actions surrounding my transfer to the Church of Nigeria, and so I consent to your sharing this letter with the leaders of the diocese through the Update in order that they get the information straight from me.
As we continue to stand for the Way, the Truth, and the Life that only Jesus can bring, let us continue to pray for one another, as we ought.
(2/22/07) [+]Post Primates Meeting Update
After much deliberation, at the last possible hour, the Primates released a Communique before departing Tanzania. There was apparently much deliberation.
(2/17/07) [+]The Guardian Reports on Some Global South Primates' Refusal to Share Communion
Please note that 14 Primates refused to share communion with Bishop Griswld at the Dromantine Primates meeting in 2005.
(2/15/07) [+]Report of the Communion Sub-Group
The Anglican Communion News Service
Read the Report; it is written in a very hopeful voice. It affims the hard work of the Episcopal Church to address the concerns of the wider communion and states quite plainly it is:
...clear that it is not only those who have expressed their strong disassociation from the decisions of the 74th General Convention in 2003 who have a commitment to the life of the Communion. There are many elements of the Episcopal Church who share that commitment, who wish to abide within the full recommendations of the Windsor Report and still remain committed to the life of the Episcopal Church. It is the duty of the wider Communion to nourish and encourage all those within the Episcopal Church who wish to embrace our common and interdependent life.
The report, in an afterword, also states:
We recognise that the Windsor Report was addressed to the whole of the Anglican Communion. This report has been concerned with the response by the Episcopal Church to that Report. We understand that the Anglican Church of Canada is in the process of preparing its response. We have to express our concern that other recommendations of the Windsor Report, addressed to other parts of the Communion, appear to have been ignored so far.
(1/6/07) [+]The Homily at the National Cathedral Service of Gerald Ford
The Homily Offered by the Ref. Dr. Robert Certain at the State Funeral of Gerald R. Ford on Tuesday, January 2, 2007 included the following statement:
Early this past summer, as I prepared to leave for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, President Ford’s concern was for the church he loved. He asked me if we would face schism. After we discussed the various issues we would consider, particularly concerns about human sexuality and the leadership of women, he said he did not think they should be divisive for anyone who lived by the Great Commandments to love God and neighbor. He then asked me to work for reconciliation within the Church. I assured him I would, just as he had worked for reconciliation within the nation thirty years ago.
Clearly President Ford was a man who loved his church. He should be an example to us all.
(12/15/06) [+]Join CESLD and Albany Via Media
Albany Via Media
TO: ALL EPISCOPALIANS IN THE ST. LAWRENCE DEANERY - AN OPEN MEETING SPONSORED
SAT. DEC. 2 - 10 AM - NORWOOD MUNICIPAL BUILDING
Dear fellow Episcopalians,
There are very important developments and events relative to the Diocese of Albany’s relationship with the Episcopal Church, our national church. It is incumbent for all Episcopalians to be informed at all times.
At this meeting there will be:
- A report on the General Convention as seen by an Albany Via Media representative.
Please keep actively engaged, especially if you feel, like many others, that you still want the Diocese of Albany to be part of our beleaguered but beloved National Episcopal Church, both legally and in spirit or if you have a different view.
Here are some important web sites
(9/6/06) [+]Post General Convention Update
A Long remiss update! Some links:
First, the press release from Via Media USA about General Convention. To a Church in Transition:
July 29, 2006
Next, a discussion of the consecration of Martyn Minns, Rector of Truro Church in Virginia, as a missionary Bishop of Nigeria in America. This action by Archbishop Akinola, is in blatent disregard to the Windsor Report, which asked for a moratorium of these diocesan crossings. It is unfortunate that the Network and it's supporters pick and choose from the Widsor Report, just as they pick and choose from Scripture.
The link is from Father Mark Harris' site an excellent resouce for news from the wider the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
Also, news from South Carolina, where there is an upcoming election for bishop. The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina has released a plea for reconciliation. It is a beautifully written piece that gently defends Episcopalians against the ugly straw-man attacks which have been so pervasive.
Finally, By Their Fruits you Shall Know Them an excellent anti-network document coming out of the Diocese of San Diego.
(3/28/06) [+]Albany diocese elects bishop coadjutor; West Texas elects suffragan
From Episcopal News Service
[Episcopal News Service] Two of the three dioceses hoping to elect bishops on March 25 did so, but the third recessed its electing convention for the second time without choosing a bishop.
The Very Rev. Canon William H. Love, 48, rector, St. Mary's, Lake Luzerne, New York, was elected bishop coadjutor by the Diocese of Albany, while the Rev. David Mitchell Reed, 49, rector, St. Alban's Church, Harlingen, was elected bishop suffragan by the Diocese of West Texas.
The Diocese of Tennessee will reconvene on May 6 to try again to elect a successor to Bishop Bertram Herlong. The first meeting of the electing convention on March 18 recessed after 14 ballots. The lay and clergy electors returned to Christ Church Cathedral in downtown March 25. They cast 11 more ballots without success.
In Albany, Love was elected from out of a field of 11 nominees on the fourth ballot. With an election requiring 54 votes in the lay order and 80 in the clergy order, Love was elected with 62 lay votes and 84 clergy votes. The electing convention met at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, New York.
Love will eventually succeed Albany Bishop Daniel Herzog, who in October called for the election.The Very Rev. Canon William H. Love, 48, rector, St. Mary's, Lake Luzerne, New York, was elected bishop coadjutor by the Diocese of Albany, while the Rev. David Mitchell Reed, 49, rector, St. Alban's Church, Harlingen, was elected bishop suffragan by the Diocese of West Texas. The Diocese of Tennessee will reconvene on May 6 to try again to elect a successor to Bishop Bertram Herlong. The first meeting of the electing convention on March 18 recessed after 14 ballots. The lay and clergy electors returned to Christ Church Cathedral in downtown March 25. They cast 11 more ballots without success. In Albany, Love was elected from out of a field of 11 nominees on the fourth ballot. With an election requiring 54 votes in the lay order and 80 in the clergy order, Love was elected with 62 lay votes and 84 clergy votes. The electing convention met at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, New York. Love will eventually succeed Albany Bishop Daniel Herzog, who in October called for the election. The results of the Albany balloting can be seen at www.albanycoadjutorelection.info/first.html. Information about all the nominees is available at www.albanycoadjutorelection.info/12.html.
The results of the Albany balloting can be seen at www.albanycoadjutorelection.info/first.html. Information about all the nominees is available at www.albanycoadjutorelection.info/12.html.
(8/2/05) [+]Despite controversy, Episcopal Church maintains unityFrom the Jackson, MS Clarion-Ledger: Despite controversy, Episcopal Church maintains unity
By Rev. Duncan M. Gray III
The Episcopal Church is much in the news these days. The consecration of the first openly gay bishop, the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson as bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire, has reverberated beyond our church and into the worldwide Anglican Communion of which we are a part.
Our ecumenical relationships have been impacted, and people who could never spell or even pronounce "Episcopal" have suddenly found a new villain (or hero) within the pantheon of Christian denominations in this country.
Many faithful members of our church in Mississippi seriously disagree with the action but gather week after week at a common altar to worship God and break bread together with those who rejoice in the consecration of Bishop Robinson. How can this be, I often am asked.
How can such serious disagreement be reconciled within a single denomination?
Since we were birthed out of the Church of England, a brief look at our English history provides an important insight into our present situation and personality.
In the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation exacted a bloody toll in England. A succession of monarchs beginning with Henry VIII produced an ecclesiastical pendulum swing from Protestantism to Catholicism to Protestantism.
The political, social and religious fabric of the nation was under enormous pressure.
However, early in the reign of Elizabeth I, a new direction was charted. Queen Elizabeth refused to take sides in the theological disputes and through acts of Parliament she directed that the unity of the Church of England would be based not on doctrinal conformity (as the Protestants demanded) or on magisterial authority (as the Catholics required), but on a common liturgical worship.
Thus, from our earliest moments as a distinct Christian community, liturgical worship, the act of saying our common prayers together, has held us together in the midst of remarkable theological diversity and conflict.
The tensions within our church challenge us. But in a culture that is increasingly polarized, I continue to believe the struggles we are going through have much grace to offer this extraordinarily divided nation and world.
(3/16/05) [+]House of Bishops adopts Covenant StatementFrom ENS: House of Bishops adopts 'Covenant Statement'
Preparation of an additional "Word to the Church" document to accompany the Statement is a priority for the bishops' agenda tomorrow, March 16, the final day of their six-day meeting of retreat and private reflection at Camp Allen, an Episcopal conference center in Navasota, Texas.
The bishops have widely praised the spirit of collaboration and collegiality that marked their framing of the Statement.
The Episcopal News Service will post March 17 wrap-up interviews about the bishops' meeting.
The House of Deputies, to which clergy and laity are elected, and the House of Bishops together comprise the General Convention, the chief legislative body of the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church. The General Convention, which meets every three years, will next convene in June 2006 in Columbus, Ohio. General Convention's work is carried out between triennial meetings by the Episcopal Church's Executive Council, to which representatives are elected from both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops.
- - - - -
House of Bishops' Spring Meeting
A Covenant Statement of the House of Bishops
We have received the Windsor Report as a helpful contribution to our relationships with Anglican brothers and sisters across the world. We recognize its recommendations as coming from a broadly representative commission inclusive of bishops, clergy, and laity and as an attempt to speak as equals to equals. We experience it as being in the best tradition of autonomy within communion and as helpful in our efforts to live into communion. Likewise, we appreciate receiving the communiqué from the February meeting of the Primates and take seriously the perspectives and convictions stated therein.
It is our heartfelt desire to be responsive and attentive to the conversation we have already begun and to which we are being called and as a body offer the following points.
We reaffirm our commitment to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888 and each of its individual points. We reaffirm our earnest desire to serve Christ in communion with the other provinces of the Anglican family. We reaffirm our continuing commitment to remain in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and to participate fully in the Anglican Consultative Council, the Lambeth Conference, and the Primates' Meeting, and we earnestly reaffirm our desire to participate in the individual relationships, partnerships, and ministries that we share with other Anglicans, which provide substance to our experience of what it is to be in communion.
We express our own deep regret for the pain that others have experienced with respect to our actions at the General Convention of 2003 and we offer our sincerest apology and repentance for having breached our bonds of affection by any failure to consult adequately with our Anglican partners before taking those actions.
The Windsor Report has invited the Episcopal Church "to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges" (Windsor Report, para. 134). Our polity, as affirmed both in the Windsor Report and the Primates' Communiqué, does not give us the authority to impose on the dioceses of our church moratoria based on matters of suitability beyond the well-articulated criteria of our canons and ordinal. Nevertheless, this extraordinary moment in our common life offers the opportunity for extraordinary action. In order to make the fullest possible response to the larger communion and to re-claim and strengthen our common bonds of affection, this House of Bishops takes the following provisional measure to contribute to a time for healing and for the educational process called for in the Windsor Report. Those of us having jurisdiction pledge to withhold consent to the consecration of any person elected to the episcopate after the date hereof until the General Convention of 2006, and we encourage the dioceses of our church to delay episcopal elections accordingly. We believe that Christian community requires us to share the burdens of such forbearance; thus it must pertain to all elections of bishops in the Episcopal Church. We recognize that this will cause hardship in some dioceses, and we commit to making ourselves available to those dioceses needing episcopal ministry.
In response to the invitation in the Windsor Report that we effect a moratorium on public rites of blessing for same sex unions, it is important that we clarify that the Episcopal Church has not authorized any such liturgies, nor has General Convention requested the development of such rites. The Primates, in their communiqué "assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship" (Primates' Communiqué, para. 6). Some in our church hold such "pastoral care" to include the blessing of same sex relationships. Others hold that it does not. Nevertheless, we pledge not to authorize any public rites for the blessing of same sex unions, and we will not bless any such unions, at least until the General Convention of 2006.
We pledge ourselves not to cross diocesan boundaries to provide episcopal ministry in violation of our own canons and we will hold ourselves accordingly accountable. We will also hold bishops and clergy canonically resident in other provinces likewise accountable. We request that our Anglican partners "effect a moratorium on any further interventions" (Windsor Report, para. 155; see also 1988 Lambeth Conference Resolution 72 and 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution III.2) and work with us to find more creative solutions, such as the initiation of companion diocese relationships, to help us meet the legitimate needs of our own people and still maintain our integrity.
As a body, we recognize the intentionality and seriousness of the Primates' invitation to the Episcopal Church to refrain voluntarily from having its delegates participate in the Anglican Consultative Council meetings until the Lambeth Conference of 2008. Although we lack the authority in our polity to make such a decision, we defer to the Anglican Consultative Council and the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church to deliberate seriously on that issue.
The bonds of affection are not ends in themselves but foundations for mission. Therefore, we re-commit ourselves to work together throughout the communion to eradicate HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other diseases, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and to address the other efforts mentioned by the Primates' Communiqué (para. 20). We dedicate ourselves to full and open dialogue in every available venue through invitations for mutual visitation, intentional exploration of the theological perspectives and spiritual gifts that our diverse cultures offer, and collaborative partnerships for the purpose of shared mission in Christ.
(12/22/04) [+]CESLD Letter to Bishop Herzog goes unanswered
On October 5, 2004, CESLD sent the following letter was sent to Bishop Herzog:
The following week, Bishop Herzog's name was removed, without explaination, from the AAC website. We are deeply saddened that he has not responded or made any attempt to communicate with CESLD.
(11/18/04) [+]Calvary Lawsuit documents show NACDP intentionsIn the case of Calvary Episcopal Church etal vs Duncan etal there was an very interesting filing on 11/12/04.
Attached to Calvary's most recent submittal to the court are a number of internal correspondences from those associated with the Diocese of Pittsburgh. You can download the entire 11/12 filing in pdf from the court docket at the link above. However, we have broken the file down into easier to use pieces. The significant documents are described below.
1. Meeting notes (presumed to be Bishop Duncan's meeting notes) with the handwritten title "mainstream mtg 11/20/03". This is clearly the London meeting of (what the AAC has called) "Mainstream Anglican leaders" at which the "Memorandum of Agreement" for the Network was drafted.
2. An email and reply from Late November 2003 between Michael Woodruff, an attorney with AAC ties (he spoke at the October 2003 AAC conference - A Place to Stand: Declaring, Preparing - on the matter of property issues) and the Pittsburgh Chancellor Robert Devlin. They both advise Bishop Duncan regarding possible tactics for subverting the Dennis Canon and seperating the properties from ECUSA. It appears that this proposal never got anywhere. They probably didn't pursue it when Rowan Williams didn't recognize the Network.
3. A December 2003 email and reply between Bishop Duncan and Hugo Blankingship, legal Council to the AAC, regarding a trip to England during which he met with John Rees, Legal Advisor to the Anglican Consultative Counsel and the Lambeth Commission. Blankingship is dissappointed that Rees "simply won't listen to anything but our staying in ECUSA."
4. A march 2004 email from father Jim McCaslin, Dean of the Southeastern Convocation of the NACDP to all the network leaders. Fr. McCaslin is upset that Don Armstrong, Executive Director of the Anglican Communion Institute, wants to maintain "the broadest appeal" for the network, and is afraid that appeal "waters down our directiona and commitment to the point that our ultimate purpose is compromised..." As an example of this compromise, McCaslin cites that "Don mentions 'exit' and 'parallel chirch' strategies negatively and a 'staying' strategy positively."
5. An email from Diane Knippers, IRD president, from March 2004, urging the network to engage in Ecumentical Relations and "take on the various functions of a Church."
6. A draft proposal from Canon Alison Barfoot of Overland Park, KS to the NACDP and the Prmates and Bishops of Ekklesia, dated March 3, 2004.
Joan Gunderson of PEP describes it as follows: The attached memo was drafted by Alison Barfoot. At the time she was Assistant Rector of Christ Church in Overland Park, Kansas. She had done several short-term missions to Uganda and in February 2003 was made an honorary canon of the Nebbi Diocese in Uganda. Shortly after authoring this memo, she was named the Assistant for International Relations to Archbishop Orombi of Uganda. In short she was given a post that would let her carry out the plan in her memo. The plan outlines how to shift clergy to African bishops while using them for ministry in the U.S. to breakaway congregations (usually their own). It is the blueprint for what happened in Los Angeles.
7. A undated document with the handwritten note "confidential - for discussion only" and the title - Church Planting in the Network. Notice the very last item: Appoint a "chapman" for "breakaway plants", who could broker information, connect to Ekklesia for a foreign bishop, etc., depending on need. It seems likely that the meeting where this document was discussed occured before mid January, 2004 - when the Geoff Chapman memo became public, but maybe not.
(10/18/04) [+]The Lambeth Commission on Communion - Windsor Report
The Windsor Report may be downloaded from the Anglican Communion website here. Click through to the "downloads" page.
(10/18/04) [+]From the Presiding Bishop: A Word to the Church
St. Luke’s Day
The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
[Episcopal News Service]
I write to you from London where I am attending a meeting of the Primates’ Standing Committee. I have had a matter of hours to review the Report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion, thus I will now offer only some preliminary observations. It will take considerable time to reflect upon the Report, which consists of some 100 pages. Over the next months it will be discussed in a number of venues, including the Executive Council meeting in November and the Winter Meeting of the House of Bishops in January. After an opportunity for further study and reflection, I will have more to say about the Commission’s work.
The members of the Commission, chaired by Archbishop Robin Eames, clearly have worked with care and great diligence, and the fact that they have unanimously put forward the Report, which individually may give them pause, is no small accomplishment.
The Commission was obliged to consider a number of sometimes conflicting concerns, and therefore in these next days the Report will doubtless be read from many points of view and given any number of interpretations. It is extremely important that it be read carefully as a whole and viewed in its entirety rather than being read selectively to buttress any particular perspectives.
As Anglicans we interpret and live the gospel in multiple contexts, and the circumstances of our lives can lead us to widely divergent understandings and points of view. My first reading shows the Report as having in mind the containment of differences in the service of reconciliation. However, unless we go beyond containment and move to some deeper place of acknowledging and making room for the differences that will doubtless continue to be present in our Communion, we will do disservice to our mission. A life of communion is not for the benefit of the church but for the sake of the world. All of us, regardless of our several points of view, must accept the invitation to consider more deeply what it means to live a life of communion, grounded in the knowledge that "in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself."
Given the emphasis of the Report on difficulties presented by our differing understandings of homosexuality, as Presiding Bishop I am obliged to affirm the presence and positive contribution of gay and lesbian persons to every aspect of the life of our church and in all orders of ministry. Other Provinces are also blessed by the lives and ministry of homosexual persons. I regret that there are places within our Communion where it is unsafe for them to speak out of the truth of who they are. The Report will be received and interpreted within the Provinces of the Communion in different ways, depending on our understanding of the nature and appropriate expression of sexuality. It is important to note here that in the Episcopal Church we are seeking to live the gospel in a society where homosexuality is openly discussed and increasingly acknowledged in all areas of our public life.
For at least the last 30 years our church has been listening to the experience and reflecting upon the witness of homosexual persons in our congregations. There are those among us who perceive the fruit of the Spirit deeply present in the lives of gay and lesbian Christians, both within the church and in their relationships. However, other equally faithful persons among us regard same gender relationships as contrary to scripture. Consequently, we continue to struggle with questions regarding sexuality.
Here I note the Report recommends that practical ways be found for the listening process commended by the Lambeth Conference in 1998 to be taken forward with a view to greater understanding about homosexuality and same gender relationships. It also requests the Episcopal Church to contribute to the ongoing discussion. I welcome this invitation and know that we stand ready to make a contribution to the continuing conversation and discernment of the place and ministry of homosexual persons in the life of the church.
The Report calls our Communion to reconciliation, which does not mean the reduction of differences to a single point of view. In fact, it is my experience that the fundamental reality of the Episcopal Church is the diverse center, in which a common commitment to Jesus Christ and a sense of mission in his name to a broken and hurting world override varying opinions on any number of issues, including homosexuality. The diverse center is characterized by a spirit of mutual respect and affection rather than hostility and suspicion. I would therefore hope that some of the ways in which we have learned to recognize Christ in one another, in spite of strongly held divergent opinions, can be of use in other parts of our Communion.
As Presiding Bishop I know I speak for members of our church in saying how highly we value our Communion and the bonds of affection we share. Therefore, we regret how difficult and painful actions of our church have been in many provinces of our Communion, and the negative repercussions that have been felt by brother and sister Anglicans.
In a "Word to the Church" following the meeting of our House of Bishops in September we wrote as follows. "We believe our relationships with others make real and apparent God’s reconciling love for all of creation. Our mutual responsibility, interdependence and communion are gifts from God. Therefore, we deeply value and are much enriched by our membership in the Anglican Communion. We also value Anglican comprehensiveness and its capacity to make room for difference."One section of the Report recommends the development of a covenant to be entered into by the provinces of the Communion. This notion will need to be studied with particular care. As we and other provinces explore the idea of a covenant we must do so knowing that over the centuries Anglican comprehensiveness has given us the ability to include those who wish to see boundaries clearly and closely drawn and those who value boundaries that are broad and permeable. Throughout our history we have managed to live with the tension between a need for clear boundaries and for room in order that the Spirit might express itself in fresh ways in a variety of contexts.
The Report makes demands on all of us, regardless of where we may stand, and is grounded in a theology of reconciliation and an understanding of communion as the gift of the triune God. It is therefore an invitation for all of us to take seriously the place in which we presently find ourselves but to do so with a view to a future yet to be revealed.
Here I am put in mind of the words of Archbishop Eames in the Foreword to the Report. "This Report is not a judgment. It is part of a process. It is part of a pilgrimage towards healing and reconciliation." It is my earnest prayer that we will undertake this pilgrimage in a spirit of generosity and patient faithfulness, not primarily for the sake of our church and the Anglican Communion but for the sake of the world our Lord came among us to save.
The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
(9/14/04) [+]Comments by the dean of Western Tennessee
This whole thing going on within the church I love, the Episcopal Church, makes me very sad. What makes me most sad is that the people who are leaving, and threatening to leave, are my friends. Yes friends, not enemies or adversaries, friends.
I have been a voice within our diocese and beyond for reconciliation, for staying together, for staying at the table so to speak, no matter one’s theological position on human sexuality. Times are changing now and it is more difficult than ever to have the dialogue I would like to have. The AAC Mid-South chapter held a worship service & meeting at All Saints parish in August. Normally I would have no problem with that because it could be seen simply as a gathering of people who disagree with decisions made at the last General Convention. The Episcopal Church has always welcomed differing opinions and theological perspectives. And, some of the clergy leadership of the organization had distanced themselves from statements made by the national leaders of AAC. I specifically refer to a letter written by The Rev Geoff Chapman on December 28, 2003. In the letter Chapman says, “Please keep this document confidential…” He goes on to say that, “Our ultimate goal is a realignment of Anglicanism on North American soil…” He speaks further of, “faithful disobedience of canon law…” if necessary. Secrecy, schism & the purposeful breaking of laws that are not unjust; this does not sound Christian to me.
When asked about being part of an organization with such a goal, one of the clergy leaders of AAC Mid-South said that the letter did not reflect the local understanding of the goals of the national AAC, and that local people should not be held accountable for everything written on behalf of the national AAC. Fair enough. I believed him. However, our bishop instructed ever clergy person in this diocese to have nothing to do with AAC. Some have disobeyed.
I said above that now things had changed. They have. The AAC Mid-South has scheduled a meeting in September and has invited The Rev David Anderson, president and CEO of the national AAC, among others to attend. Therein lies a major problem for me.
Not long ago I was in a meeting with my friend and peer, The Very Rev Sam Candler, Dean of Atlanta. Sam was recounting a conversation he had recently had with David Anderson, the AAC president. Sam asked David what it was that they (AAC) wanted. Anderson replied, “What we want is to create chaos within the Episcopal Church.” I asked Sam if I could quote him on that and he said absolutely, because that is exactly what Anderson said.
So now our chapter of AAC is inviting to Memphis a man who has stated that the purpose of the organization is to cause chaos. This seems to fit with the earlier comments of The Rev Chapman.
It seems to me that those who support AAC Mid-South ought to immediately call for the resignation of the national AAC leadership and disavow the stated goal of the organization. If the leadership refuses to resign the members in Memphis ought to quit the organization.
If our local brothers and sisters are unable or unwilling to do either of the above that tells me they share the stated goal. I believe it is now time for those who share that goal to leave the Episcopal Church. Again I say, this saddens me deeply because these are my friends. But staying in our church in order to correct perceived errors of theology is one thing, even a very desirable and honorable thing, but staying in while trying to create chaos and ultimately replace the church is something entirely different. I see no honor in trying to create chaos within the church. For those who wish to work towards reconciliation and continue dialogue about human sexuality, my door is always open and all are welcomed to sit at the table and try to discern where God may be calling the church. But for those, both clergy and lay, who want to create chaos, I think it is time to go my friends. Those of us who are happy with our church have ministry to do, and my prayer is that those who are so unhappy that they join with a group whose goal it is to create chaos, will move along, find a place where you can be happy, and allow us to continue doing the work of God.
(9/10/04) [+]A Letter from CESLD to the Lambeth Comsission
The Reverend Canon Gregory Cameron
Dear Most Reverend Sir and Members of the Commission:
Greetings to you and to the Commission in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We write to you on behalf of Concerned Episcopalians of St. Lawrence Deanery (CESLD), a Via Media USA alliance member, and we thank you for allowing input and participation by groups and individuals into the work of the Commission.
We represent lay Episcopalians in the northwestern portion of the Diocese of Albany who submit to the authority of our Bishop, the Right Reverend Daniel Herzog, and yet we also intend to remain in full communion with the Episcopal Church, under the primatial authority of our Presiding Bishop, The Most Reverend Frank Griswold.
As members of a Diocese that recently joined the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (NADCP), we understand the full nature of the conflict our church faces. We also understand that the Commission is being asked to recommend the adoption of a "core covenant" that may give the primates authority over the internal actions of the duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches which are our fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church to withhold and revoke full communion membership. We fear that such power would be used to supplant the Episcopal Church with the NADCP as the Anglican Church in the USA. Please understand that, even in NADCP dioceses (and in our case, without any clergy support) there are many lay Episcopalians who find this possibility deeply disturbing.
We ask that as the commission considers the structure of our communion, please remember our unique fellowship of churches is an inheritance from faithful men and women who came before us. We ask that their vision of an ecclesial structure based on filial bonds and shared communion with the See of Canterbury not be sacrificed for a convenient solution to our present disagreements. Authoritarian control over the beliefs, dogmas, and practices within our fellowship will not ease tensions within the communion, but only replace them, we fear, with other divisions more fundamental to our identity and communion while at the same time, replacing the Anglican middle way of respect for reason and differing interpretation of holy scripture with a confessional ethos imposed from above.
We strongly disagree with the argument that differing scriptural interpretations and cultural outlooks can preclude shared communion among those who otherwise share a commitment to the church, as provided in the four points of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. We beg you to consider that the answer to present and future conflict within the Communion is not increased authority, but increased tolerance.
We pray for your work and that God's peace and grace be upon his church and upon our communion.
Your Brothers and sisters in Christ,
(8/20/04) [+]A Pastoral Letter from the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles
(7/01/04) [+]Episcopalians see hopeful signs amid loss of N.H. congregation, commend Albany and New Hampshire Bishops
(6/16/04) [+]Pastoral Letter from Bishop Jenkins of Lousiana
This pastoral letter from the Bishop of Louisiana seems to articulate the spirit we seek in CESLD and in the broader Via Media Movement.
(6/14/04) [+]Diocese of Albany Via Media report: John Sorensen
Albany Via Media News Report:
In a vote by orders, the Episcopal Diocese of Albany approved a resolution to join the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes at the annual diocesan convention meeting in Speculator, New York. The clergy, consisting of priests and locally ordained deacons, approved the resolution by a wide margin, 89-36. In the parish vote, with each parish of the diocese casting one vote, the tally was much closer, 60-42. A vote by orders means that each "order" (clergy and parishes) must have a majority for the measure to pass.
Bishop Herzog had heavily promoted the the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes in the diocese beginning in January, when it was chartered, but the lack of conversation pushed the clergy towards increased polarization, with Albany Via Media continuing to point out the dangers of Network membership for the diocese. In March the Bishop began to look for ways to encourage open discussion within the diocese of the relative merits of Network Membership, beginning with a two-day clergy listening retreat at the end of March. Further deanery discussions were held in May, although the bishops did not directly answer questions.
June 12’s hour-long floor debate, with alternating two-minute speeches, pro and con, was lively, candid and missing some of the rancor of the September Special Convention. Generally, opponents of the Network called to mind the intentions of some in the Episcopal Church to use the Network as an instrument of division, a first step towards realignment or schism. Last weekend’s calls from "Plano West" in Long Beach, CA, that the Network be recognized by the primates as a separate church weighed on the minds of some. But proponents hailed the network as an instrument of unity, an association that would prevent the wholesale departure from the Episcopal Church of conservatives.
In his convention address the evening before the vote, Bishop Herzog made it clear that he sees Albany’s Network role in the Northeast as helping keep the "orthodox" within the Episcopal Church. He said that The Archbishop of Canterbury at breakfast with several bishops "expressed support for a Network to work within the Church." The operative word, of course, in "within." One analysis of the Albany voting would suggest that the clergy generally accept Bishop’s pledge that the Network will be an instrument of unity; the closer parish vote suggests that the laity are more skeptical, and like Via Media clergy fear the diocese being pulled out of the Episcopal Church, once the the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes is a reality.
Bishop Herzog was conciliatory in his convention address. He noted that the convention packets included reports from "clergy and lay deputies to the meeting in Plano . . .. along with material from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s commission, as well as from our friends in Via Media." It is a welcome change that Albany Via Media is called "friend" by the bishop instead of being considered an enemy. Given the 40% of parishes that support the Via Media position, a cooperative relationship and an environment of trust will be critical as the diocese moves into an uncertain future.
Bishop Herzog noted that "at the national level and in most dioceses the liberal wing of the church has carried the day. The question is how much space will there be for traditional Episcopalians." For the bishop, the Network is an absolute requirement for our life as a diocese. "If we fail to pass this [Network]," he said, "many beleaguered members will abandon hope in ECUSA." With the Network, "Its purpose is to create a space inside the Episcopal Church, under its constitution, and by extension, its canons, for mainstream Anglicans. I realize that, for whatever reason, some do not want to cut that slack. And I believe it will be a major mistake for this diocese to not join the Network."
For Via Media and other ‘non-network’ parishes in the Diocese of Albany, there are many concerns about how network membership will play out. The most consistent concern expressed by parishes is the right of congregations to choose clergy spiritually consistent with the values of the congregations. Many have noted influx of more conservative clergy into the diocese in recent years and fear that they will not be allowed to choose moderate or liberal clergy for their moderate or liberal parishes. In this matter, Via Media hopes to continue the good-faith relationship with the bishop on behalf of the more moderate and liberal parishes who seek to be faithful to their own traditions in Christ.
For his part, Bishop Herzog says that he has functioned as something of a moderate in his world, noting that "Frankly, Bishop Dave and I have broken ranks with some of our friends to support the House of Bishops’ Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight, to provide a mechanism for traditional parishes within the framework of ECUSA. We believe that the Network is the most straightforward way of implementing this."
This writer believes that we are all part of the body of Christ in the Diocese of Albany. I continue to hold that the church is enriched by the gifts of all of us, of each member of the Body of Christ. We say to no one, "I have no need of you." Now that the Diocese of Albany has officially joined the the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, we in Albany Via Media will do our best as faithful Episcopalians in the diocese of Albany, to work with our bishop, while remaining faithful to the Episcopal Church and to our own sense of the depth and breadth of Anglicanism we call the middle way, the via media. We ask the prayers of the larger church for our diocese.
The Very Rev. Dr. John T. Sorensen,
(5/20/04) [+]Albany Bishops try to sell Network, avoid real dialogue
A preconvention meeting with Bishops Herzog and Bena was held on May 12 at St. Marks in Malone, N.Y. This was a joint meeting for the St Lawrence and Northern Adirondack Deaneries and was billed as a prime opportunity to ask the bishops questions regarding the resolution to join "The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes". Fr. Graham, the dean of St. Lawrence Deanery, had urged parishioners in "St Johns Spirit" newsletter to attend the meeting. He wrote "Moreover to become clear for yourself there will be a chance to discuss this with the bishops in a preconvention meeting..." Sadly, however, the bishops never allowed any questions, and statements for and against the "network" were limited to clergy and delegates to the June diocesan convention. There was much anger, frustration and disappointment on the part of many of the attendees who expecting an honest discussion with questions answered as advertised by Fr. Graham. It was felt by many that this important decision by the diocese should not be one made only by the Bishops, Clergy, and a few (often handpicked) delegates to the convention without the input of the people who are "The Church"; the people who financially support, work, and worship in our parish churches and in this diocese to make it what it is. We need to know why, at this time, we need to join a new group and adhere to a charter and confessional statement when such statements have never been a part of the Episcopal church and will change it forever.
The first half hour was taken up with hymns, and the explaining of the ground rules for the evening and the reading of the "Network" charter while the final forty-five minutes were spent in an overview of the 2005 diocesan budget and the progress on "the Spiritual Life Center", leaving little time for the meat of the issue. The Forty-five minutes of statements for or and against joining the network certainly doesn't qualify as a "discussion with the Bishops" or an education for the parishioner regarding the "Network".
HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!
(4/2/04) [+] Albany Bishops Support House of Bishops Oversight Plan.
While no one got the whole loaf, both sides got half a loaf. A document was produced entitled "Caring for all the Churches," in which a way through the difficulty is sketched out. The way through is called Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight. If a rector (or clergy in charge) and vestry petition the local bishop for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight, a negotiated settlement may be reached by which a traditional bishop from another diocese can become the primary caregiver for that parish. There is an appeal process in case the parish and the local bishop cannot reach agreement. This, in my opinion, will allow traditional parishes to continue functioning in non-traditional dioceses without feeling pressure by their local bishop.
It should be noted that the willingness of the Albany Bishops to work within the plan is completely opposite from the vast majority of the American Anglican Council (AAC) and Network of Anglican Communion Diocese and Parishes (NADCP) affiliated community, who all quickly rejected the plan in strong and unequivocal terms. These include, the NADCP, the AAC itself, and Forward in Faith. Additionally, Canon Kendall Harmon of South Carolina wasted no time in pronouncing the plan Dead on Arrival, as did Canon Christopher Cantrell, Canon David Roseberry, and the Rev. David Moyer, all of whom are strong voices within the AAC/NADCP movement.
Let us pray that the Bishops' response to the plan comes from a true generosity of spirit and an interest in keeping our church together and that all sides in this matter will work together in Christ.
(3/29/04) [+]Members of 12 groups in 11 dioceses met from March 25 through March 27, 2004 at All Saints Episcopal Church in Atlanta. The result of this meeting is the formation of a national alliance of "via media" organizations:
(3/12/04) [+] RE-CONFIRM ORTHODOXY AND COMMON FOUNDATIONS OF FAITH. Some comments by Sam Candler, Dean of the Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta, GA, from An Address for "Episcopalians Seeking Unity in Diversity" Charleston, South Carolina 21 February 2004
(3/7/04) [+] Some thoughts for Lent from Desmond Tutu:
In his Ash Wdenesday Service The Archbishop Emeritus of Southern Africa, the Most Revd Desmond Tutu lead an intimate and reflective service of the imposition of the ashes at the Anglican Communion Office. After the service, the archbishop gave an interview with the Anglican Communion News Service.
'Middle Way' Episcopalians Set to Meet
By Alan Cooperman
Episcopalians who do not want their church to split over the consecration of a gay bishop plan this month to establish a nationwide alliance of clergy and laity who stand for moderation, tolerance and inclusion, leaders of the movement said yesterday.
Representatives of 11 regional Episcopal groups that go by different names but collectively call themselves Via Media -- Latin for "middle way" -- will gather March 25-27 in Atlanta to "swap notes, meet each other and plan strategy," said Lionel Deimel, president of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh.
Deimel said the Via Media groups have some members on both sides of the thundering debates in the church, including whether to bless same-sex unions and whether to support the election of V. Gene Robinson, who is to be formally installed tomorrow as New Hampshire's bishop.
"But," he added, "we are united in having a view of the Episcopal Church as being a welcoming, inclusive church with broad tolerance of theological differences."
Most of the Via Media groups have sprung up in recent months in dioceses such as Pittsburgh, Albany, South Carolina and Fort Worth, where conservative bishops contend that the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church has violated biblical principles and separated itself from the rest of the 75 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion.
In January, more than 2,500 representatives from conservative dioceses gathered in Texas to form the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. With support from some Anglican bishops overseas, the network is seeking eventually to replace the Episcopal Church USA as the legitimate Anglican body in North America, a goal that could lead to a schism and legal battles over church property.
In response, the Via Media groups "are basically here to demand that we remain an inclusive place that is not only embracing of liberals or gay clergy but also of conservatives and everybody in between," said the Rev. John T. Sorensen, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and a leader of Albany Via Media.
Sorensen and other leaders of the new alliance acknowledged that it is much smaller than the conservative network. Most of the 11 Via Media groups have fewer than 100 active members, they said. Still, they contend that they represent the true center of the church.
"Until now, the extreme left and the extreme right have been battling, and the great and broad middle of our church has not reacted," said the Rev. Richard B. Matters, rector of the Church of St. John the Baptist in Lodi, Calif.
Matters heads a group of about 30 people in the ultra-conservative San Joaquin diocese called Remain Episcopal.
"The name points to our agenda, and that is to celebrate the traditional Episcopal ethos of being the church united by a common faith and yet recognizing different interpretations of the scripture on ethical and moral issues," he said. "Episcopalians are somewhat famous about agreeing to disagree, and that's the way we think it should be."
(2/2/04) [+] Ten Reasons for Not Joining the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes:
This and other excellent resources by the Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh can be found here.
(1/16/04) [+] CESLD Must Read! Bishop Johnson of Western Tennessee's Pastoral Letter
Bishop Don Johnson of Western Tennessee voted against the Robinson consecration and has been a traditional voice within the House of Bishops. He responds to the recent letter to those seeking Episcopal Oversight from Fr. Chapman of Sewickey, PA on behalf of the AAC:
Read the full text of Bishop Johnson's pastoral letter here.
(1/15/04) [+] The AAC has revealed their intention to supplant ECUSA
A recent article in the Washington Post reveals a confidential document by AAC spokesman Father Geoff Chapman, rector of St. Stephen's Church in Sewickley, Pa. (Diocese of Pittsburgh). According to the Post article:
(1/13/04) [+] New resources concerning the "Network's" theological statement
Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh (PEP) have produced a new briefing paper which addresses the theological statement by the Network of Anglican Dioceses and Parishes. The Briefing paper, along with other resources for parishes who are considering the adoption of the Network's theological statement can be found here.
(12/18/03) [+] Why "adequate episcopal oversight" is inadequate for our Church by Andrew Grimmke
I recently attended a meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the American Anglican Council in Atlanta. The primary speakers at the meeting were the Right Rev'd Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and The Hon. Canon David Anderson of Stone Mountain (formerly of Los Angeles). Bishop Duncan and Canon Anderson spent considerable time informing the attendees about the concept of "adequate episcopal oversight".
Canon Anderson stated that, that with regard to "adequate oversight" he wants the parish to decide what "adequate" means. Specifically, he feels that the parish should never have to deal with their Bishop; instead, they can approach the alternative diocese who will stand behind them during the transition. Full episcopal oversight will then be conducted through the alternative diocese, effectively abolishing the geographical diocesan model.
The plan for "supplemental episcopal pastoral care" proposed by Presiding Bishop Griswold has been dismissed by the AAC as specifically not adequate because it allows an agreement on pastoral care for disaffected parishes, but does not allow an alternative diocesan bishop to assume full oversight.
Sadly, the AAC proposal bears a remarkable resemblance to the process used to switch long distance phone companies.
It does not take a particularly prescient mind to see some of the pitfalls which await the Episcopal Church if the AAC vision of "adequate episcopal oversight" is attained. The AAC leadership has stated that they are collecting applications for alternate oversight from parishes across the nation in "revisionist" dioceses. They wish to have a "stack" of such applications with which to confront Bishop Griswold and the Archbishop of Canterbury, hoping that a large number of applications presented together will make a strong statement and force the Presiding Bishop to consent to the dissolution of the geographic diocesan model in ECUSA (although it has been suggested that this action may require an amendment to the ECUSA constitution).
If the AAC leadership achieves this goal then most or all of the Parishes who completed applications will depart their dioceses. The AAC will then have a national authority and presence for its "network of confessing dioceses and parishes". This will doubtlessly make it easier for the Primates of the global South to recognize the "network" as their US representative to the Anglican Communion. After this initial movement, other parishes will follow within a few years; this may very well include those parishes loyal to ECUSA who reside in the dioceses of the "network". Such parishes have been quiet on the issue thus far, hoping that unity can be maintained, but the closer the "network" comes to departing ECUSA, the more likely these parishes will seek more friendly dioceses.
Some might think of this new paradigm as a "free market" and praise such a concept, with the thinking that if a Bishop does not minister to and properly reflect the congregations within his own region he does not deserve them. We might do well, however, to look at how the free market works and how it has affected other aspects of our society. A free market means a state of constant flux. It means constant competition for all and it means bankruptcy and failure for the weak. In the business world, even the largest companies fail, and small and medium sized companies are often on a roller coaster ride of successes and disappointments. More importantly, the single-minded competition of the open market inexorably appeals to the lesser impulses of human nature. Free markets in goods, food, and media have shown us what sells and what sells is often the unhealthy choice. If dioceses are competing among themselves for parishes, can a bishop avoid the temptation of affirming the comfortable worldview of his congregation so as not to ruffle feathers? Can a bishop who is politicking his congregations truly be a shepherd who benefits their souls? Unfortunately, the impulses which drive free markets can not be expected to push our churches on the path to Christ.
If the geographic diocesan model ends, what will be the response within the Episcopal Church and by its leaders? How will a bishop react when he knows that any parish, at any time, could go behind his back to leave his diocese? Unfortunately, a natural reaction may be to look for ideological tests by which to control the clergy within his diocese. Every retiring rector, every search process then becomes more politicized. The wishes of the congregation will mean less to a bishop who knows that if a Rector and Vestry become disillusioned with him he can swiftly lose another parish. The answer, of course, is to stack the deck with ideological cronies and yes men; to remove, over time, ideological diversity from the diocese and cast it in his own image, whether "orthodox" or "inclusive". It might be easy to blame a bishop who uses such tactics, but his actions could also be defended as a matter of protecting the diocese with which he was entrusted. Can we blame him for playing politics when it means the survival of the charge for which he was chosen steward?
Some have suggested that our church has become too worldly, has listened too closely to the prevailing culture. I look at a world where the media seeks controversy; where the rapid dissemination of information leads to ideological group-think; where people are too often isolated in their subdivision communities; and where these phenomena lead to the polarization and politicization of our culture. I wonder if the isolationism and competition of the non-geographical diocesan model can do anything but exacerbate this problem.