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Daily Archives: September 18, 2007
Text of EFSC letters to Diocesan Bishops and Members of Diocesan Standing Committees
September 14, 2007
TO: Diocesan Bishops and Members of Diocesan Standing Committees (Addressed by diocese, signed and mailed (9/15/07)
FROM: The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina
L. A. Pagliaro, Board President
We are writing as an assembly of Episcopalians in the Diocese of South Carolina, working to retain and strengthen ties with The Episcopal Church. We ask you to take seriously our concerns regarding the future of our diocese and the strength of our Church. We sense that there exists a broad perception of overriding support within our diocese for the direction it is taking, which is reflected in the election of Mark Lawrence. We believe that you, leaders of our national Church, should be informed about issues of critical concern, and we believe that this certainly is one of those moments.
It is important that you know, as you consider our concern, that the Diocese of South Carolina is not unified in its support of the Anglican Communion Network and its positions, nor is it unified in a desire to disassociate from The Episcopal Church. There are congregations in this diocese that remain committed to The Episcopal Church, and there are segments within “dissenting” congregations that remain equally committed. The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina is supported by parishioners from most parishes in the diocese, and provides a voice for those loyal to The Episcopal Church.
We are concerned about the process for the election of Father Lawrence. There was neither a search nor a nominating committee, and no opportunity was provided for newly elected delegates to meet Father Lawrence or hear him speak. There was an opportunity to petition for alternate candidates, but the process was overly restrictive. Further, observers who earlier were registered and attended the 2006 Diocesan Convention were not admitted to the “reconvened convention” 7 months later.
The 2006 convention was reconvened for the purpose of suspending the canons dealing with bishop election. We are also concerned that the process used to suspend the bishop election rules may have violated diocesan canons. We want to emphasize the fact that the above objections to the approval process were clearly expressed to leaders of the Standing Committee.
Our concern is heightened by recent statements made by Father Lawrence. Following the ruling that his first election was null and void, Father Lawrence stated, “It’s time to call for those in the middle to wake up and decide which side you are on.” (3/17/07, Charleston, SC, Post and Courier). Further, in a letter by Father Lawrence to his parish, posted August 22, 2007 on his parish’s website, he wrote; “I also hold strong convictions on remaining in covenanted fellowship with the worldwide Anglican Communion, rather than following, as some have suggested, the pathway of an overly autonomous provincial or national church.” (see link below)
His perspective deeply concerns us, as we believe that it would further isolate a substantial number of Episcopalians in the Diocese of South Carolina. A climate of intolerance exists in this diocese, virtually isolating Episcopalians who do not agree with the expressed position of the majority of clergy and lay leaders who are members of the Anglican Communion Network. We fear that climate would be exacerbated by the administration of a bishop with Mark Lawrence’s perspective.
We want the new bishop of South Carolina to be committed without reservation to the ordination oath signed by every new bishop “to conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church.” (BCP, p513) We understand that commitment to include respecting the democratic actions of General Convention and the elected leadership of The Episcopal Church as it is now constituted.
We question whether a person who has repudiated the polity of our national Church should be considered qualified to be a bishop in The Episcopal Church. Please give our concerns your prayerful attention as you consider your consent to this election.
Read it all. Predictably and depressingly she starts by defining the symptomatic issue incorrectly, and then goes on to define the core issue in far too American terms:
So the question the Anglican communion is facing for us all right now is a clear one: What happens to a group, to a church, that stands poised to choose either confusion or tyranny, either anarchy or authoritarianism, either unity or uniformity? Are there really only two choices possible at such a moment? Is there nowhere in-between?
And, forgive me, but I do think the Bible has something to do with it–but that gets no mention.
Imam JOHARI ABDUL-MALIK (From the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center): If she’s saying that she believes that there’s only one god and she believes in all of the prophets…
[Chana] JOFFE-WALT: Check, she does.
Imam ABDUL-MALIK: And if she believes that Jesus is not God, then that makes a Muslim.
JOFFE-WALT: Jesus not God? Actually, yeah, she believes that too. Redding sees Jesus as an exceptional human model of how we should all be close to God, but not as God himself. So wait, if you take the Christ out of Christianity, are you really still a Christian?…
JOFFE-WALT: Okay. So back to the Bayview Retirement Center, where we started. Redding has preached on Isaiah, hymns have been sung, and the community is slowly, very slowly, filing out of the chapel.
Unidentified Woman: We appreciated your message very much tonight.
[The] Rev. [Ann Holmes] REDDING: Well, thank you. Thank you.
Unidentified Woman: Very nice to have you with us.
Rev. REDDING: It’s good to be here.
JOFFE-WALT: No one here appears angry at Redding’s claims. Some are confused, some are curious to know more, but mostly people just shrug like, Arzel Smith(ph).
Ms. ARZEL SMITH: Well, it’s all right with me if it’s all right with her. Yeah. I don’t have any qualms about it.
–From the story “Moved by Islam, Priest Embraces Two Faiths” on NPR’s Day to Day Program, September 12, 2007; An audio link and a previous discussion may be found here
This year’s diocesan convocation comes at a time of transitions at many levels in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. The fall meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans, the Sept. 30 deadline set by the Anglican Communion Primates, and the guest list for the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops are some of the factors that likely will bring about significant changes in the Church.
Here in the Diocese of the Rio Grande we will experience this volatile time with particular sadness, as it is likely that the clergy and almost all of the members of the Pro-Cathedral of St. Clement in El Paso will have made the decision
to separate from the diocese and the Episcopal Church. The contributions St. Clement’s, our largest congregation, has made to the diocese for more than a century are incalculable. We are dealing with the loss of a number of effective
diocesan leaders from that congregation and the very significant support that St. Clement’s provides to the life and mission of the diocese.
It is an acute sense of alienation from the Episcopal Church that has led St. Clement’s to take these steps, and many in this diocese feel the same way…
Don’t Blink Now!
Ask Your Bishop To Hold The Line
It is absolutely essential that you contact your bishop before September 19th and encourage him or her to “hold the line” against the primates’ unreasonable demands. Insist that there be no backsliding on full inclusion of the LGBT faithful. Write, e-mail, or call your bishop today! Here are some points to make”¦
”¢ The primates’ of the Anglican Communion do not have authority over the Episcopal Church.
”¢ The House of Bishops cannot set policy for the entire Episcopal Church.
”¢ The Executive Council has already rejected the primates’ ultimatum on behalf of the entire Episcopal Church.
”¢ The Episcopal Church cannot abandon its LGBT members for the sake of continued membership in the Anglican Communion.
We can’t abandon justice to maintain unity.
The number of foreclosure filings reported in the U.S. last month more than doubled versus August 2006 and jumped 36 percent from July, a trend that signals many homeowners are increasingly unable to make timely payments on their mortgages or sell their homes amid a national housing slump.
A total of 243,947 foreclosure filings were reported in August, up 115 percent from 113,300 in the same month a year ago, Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac Inc. said Tuesday.
There were 179,599 foreclosure filings reported in July.
The filings include default notices, auction sale notices and bank repossessions. Some properties might have received more than one notice if the owners have multiple mortgages.
August’s total represents the highest number of foreclosure filings reported in a single month since the company began tracking monthly filings two years ago.
Instead of falling into the temptation of offering criticism, I ask myself what is good in what has occurred? The great church revolution ”“ whether our service is expressed formally or more informally – has captured three good things for us.
First, relationships. The church of 1959 contained many nominal Christians. Amongst us, the Graham Crusade was most effective. But the day of the local church as the community at prayer was on the point of extinction. Some decades later, we can trace the great change which libertarianism has created in the world. Who could possibly have predicted the revolution which has overtaken an institution as solid as marriage, for example? We can now see the absolute need for churches to become communities in themselves, sets of relationships in which people can care for one another, meet each other marry each other, befriend each other. Today about 61% of Sydney Anglicans attend small groups ”“ groups which hardly existed in churches in the early 1960s. We have retained community where the world has been against it.
When the congregation meets, therefore, we must encourage, support and nurture relationships ”“ first with God and then with each other. To this end, formality or informality is not the issue. Either may foster relationships; either may hinder them. But it is certain that the mere repetition of what we used to do will no longer be meaningful. Furthermore, it is not biblical. Whatever we may think of modern church life, it far better fits the picture of the church we have in the New Testament than church life in the 1950s. This is one of the reasons why so much that succoured the spiritual life was found amongst the parachurch organisations and fellowships instead of the local churches. Look at the teaching about how to behave in Ephesians and Colossians. You will find that in order to obey it you are required to have close relationships with those you go to church with. We are the Body of Christ, not a collection of people who happen to live in the same suburb.
In thinking of relationships we also need to think of what we offer others. Human relationships are one of the most attractive products of the gospel. The older churches were accessible because people had prior knowledge. Thus Mr Bean knew more or less what to expect and even could sing the hymns. Now, however, entry to a church building is as foreign an experience to most people as it would be for us to enter a Hindu temple. This is compounded when the insider’s behaviour is inexplicable and inaccessible. Our churches are part of what this nation needs. Let us make them more open to the outsider.
Second, reality. It is hard now to imagine the gap that exists between the piety of the older church and that of the newer one. But our social life has taken a turn away from formality, away from ritual, away from ceremonial. This may be illustrated in a hundred ways. It all represents a hunger for reality judged in personal terms; we may not like it; we may regard it as a sign of bad manners; we may think that informality is no more a sure bearer of spiritual reality than the formal. We may indeed think what we like. But the change has occurred, and if we wish to be missionaries within this culture, it must be reflected in what we do in church, at some levels. We must recognise that for many, many people, old church ways sound like the very epitome of the inauthentic, as well as being incomprehensible and deadening. I think that what we have done is to say that the Christian faith is serious and it is personal, authentic and spiritual.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is to hold a secret Communion service for gay clergy and their partners in London.
Dr Williams will celebrate the eucharist at St Peter’s, Eaton Square ”“ the Church of England parish that is known as the spiritual home to some of the country’s most liberal and wealthy Anglican elite. There he will give an address titled “Present realities and future possibilities for lesbians and gay men in the Church”.
The event has been organised under Chatham House rules, which prevent any disclosure of the discussions. The event will take place at 10am on November 29. A list of the names of those who will be present will be seen only by Dr Williams. It will be shredded afterwards.
Among those attending will be the convenor, Chris Newlands, the chaplain to the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Rev John Gladwin. Also present will be the Vicar of St Peter’s, the Rev Nicholas Papadopulos, and the former chaplain to the Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Rev David Stancliffe.
I don’t care whether Republican presidential candidate John McCain is an Episcopalian or a Baptist.
But the implication in Monday’s paper that he’d been caught at something — outed while trying to pass as an Episcopalian — hit a nerve.
Why do we diss Baptists?
The fact is, McCain grew up an Episcopalian, though for the past 15 years he’s belonged to a Baptist church in Arizona.
Is the message that his Baptist affiliation is a hindrance to his campaign? Outside South Carolina, of course.
The incident recalled a talker of a series from the old Charlotte News back in 1970.
“A Social Climber’s Guide to Charlotte” was the brain-child of Darrell Sifford. He talked with a psychologist, and two “socially involved” local women who served up tips for clambering.
Two things stick: Drive a wood-paneled Ford Country Squire station wagon and join Christ Episcopal Church.
The Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) and the Primates will meet Monday, Sept. 24, in New Orleans, a spokesman for the ACC has announced.
On Thursday and Friday, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the members of the joint standing committee will attend the first two days of the House of Bishops’ meeting at a New Orleans hotel for 10 hours of closed conversation.
Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan, a member of the committee, said the meeting would be an opportunity for “us to meet the U.S. bishops, listen to them, observe and help formulate advice to give to the primates. We want to find a way around differences of opinion within the church over homosexuality to keep the Communion together.”
What are the two extreme ‘edges’ that the Anglican Communion needs defending against today? It seems to me that they are the ‘autonomous rootless liberalism’ that too often has undergirded the actions of The Episcopal Church and the ‘independent relentless puritanism’ that ignores the pivotal, gathering role of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Both positions, in effect, have tried to trump the ‘interdependence’ of the Communion with their pre-emptive actions and reactions.
Immensely learned and biblically founded, Hooker drew on a hinterland of classical literature, patristics and ‘natural law’. His works were read by Roman Catholic and Puritan theologians. Sounds familiar? Oliver O’Donovan is Professor of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology at the University of Edinburgh. Formerly he was Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology in the University of Oxford, and a member of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission. It was he who coined the phrase concerning the Windsor Report, ‘the only game in town’, and this was echoed by Rowan Williams in his speech to General Synod in February 2005.
Like Hooker, instead of reacting with an instant tract on the current crisis in the Anglican Communion, O’Donovan responded with a series of seven monthly articles for Fulcrum. They provide crucial, challenging and nourishing background reading for this week.
Our third central theologian on ‘edge’ is Samuel T Coleridge (1772-1834). In his Aids to Reflection, he referred to ‘the venerable Hooker’ and quoted him ‘on the nature of pride’. On 26 October 1831, near the end of his life, the poet, philosopher and theologian of genius, had dinner with his friends. His son, Hartley Coleridge, recorded some of his conversation, which included discussion of the ‘point’ and the ‘edge’ as the difference between ‘Keenness and Subtlety’:
Few men of genius are keen; but almost every man of genius is subtle. If you ask me the difference between keenness and subtlety, I answer that it is the difference between a point and an edge. To split a hair is no proof of subtlety; for subtlety acts in distinguishing between differences – in showing that two things apparently one are in fact two; whereas, to split a hair is to cause division, and not to ascertain difference.
In our present double-edged context of response after 30 September 2007, it may be that Anglicans in the USA are more called towards the ‘distinguishing between differences’ – staying and arguing from within The Episcopal Church – rather than the ‘common cause of division’ – splitting and forming another church. As we saw Andrewes echoing Hebrews 4:12, perhaps we can see Coleridge echoing Hebrews 5:14 – which in turn reinforces the text preached before Kings James I in 1607, ‘But solid food is for the mature, for those who faculties have been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.’
The Diocese of Connecticut is one of the diocesan websites we visited on our diocesan news trawl last night (see “it’s awfully quiet…”, below). Although Connecticut didn’t have any recent news that we could find about the HoB meeting or the Sept. 30 deadline to respond to the Primates, we did check out the page for their upcoming Diocesan Convention in mid-October. Of particular interest was the Resolutions page, and especially the anti-B033 Resolution.
Well, well. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Last year Connecticut also had an anti-B033 resolution, as did at least 8-10 other dioceses. Connecticut was one of the few dioceses [a more complete list is here] where such a resolution failed. So, they’re trying again….