Daily Archives: July 2, 2012
The site was the home of an Episcopal congregation that shut down last summer. Cathy Black, canon for administration for the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, said the congregation had been struggling “for a while now.”
“The financial support was lacking, and it never seemed to get off the ground” in its almost 50 years of existence.
The site includes a church building, a multipurpose building that was the original worship space, and a smaller building that could be used for offices.
“We are thrilled it has found a new life in the church business,” Black said.
Bishop-Designate Rennis Ponniah to be installed on 20th October 2012, Bishop John Chew to retire on 4th October 2012
On his election, the Bishop-designate, The Right Revd Rennis Ponniah had this to say,
With faith in God, I receive this immense responsibility. I am humbled by the trust invested in me by the clergy, the laity and the provincial bishops. I intend to build on the good work of Bishop John Chew and his predecessors, while seeking fresh ways to bring the love and hope of the “good news” of our faith to a multi-religious and constantly-changing society in a responsible and winsome way.
I had to make a judgment call, and my judgment, after reflection and prayer, was that I had to join the intervention, because to allow such a false read of TEC polity to potentially help form legal precedent constitutes a danger that could bring harm to the church for decades to come, and resisting this outcome trumps my other concerns.
As an illuminating case in point, I would draw your attention to a resolution we will be considering next week in Indianapolis, A101, Convene Consultation on Diocesan Effectiveness. This resolution asks for a study of “the potential for re-aligning dioceses to maximize their effective witness and ministry.” While this may be a relatively small thing in itself, and might actually make good sense, if the top-down (with General Convention as the “top”) hierarchical model is accepted, then it sets in motion a potential chain of events that could end with General Convention imposing redrawn boundaries on dioceses without their consent. At a time when the Episcopal Church is shrinking, especially in more sparsely populated areas of the country, this is not idle speculation. If the interpretation of our polity offered by the attorneys for the Episcopal Church in Quincy and Fort Worth is allowed to prevail, there is nothing at all that could prevent such a scenario. It’s one thing if two or more dioceses decide they want to shuffle and re-deal the cards voluntarily. It’s quite another for that to be imposed on them. It would not be anything that our forebears in this church would recognize.
I respect those who have a contrary understanding of our polity. While it is always possible that I could be mistaken””it has happened several times””I am at present confident in the correctness of the view I hold. I recognize that taking this discussion into the secular courts certainly escalates tension and raises the stakes, which is regrettable. My chief concern is that a very particular property dispute in Texas not become the vehicle for supporting an erroneous understanding of the polity of the church to which I am committed, the constitution and canons of which I have freely vowed to uphold, and to which my diocese freely accedes.
Read it all and some extracts are below
[blockquote]It cannot be coincidence that on the same day””the last Friday before General Convention meets””notice was served about the Quincy complaint, notice was served about the Fort Worth complaint and the Fort Worth General Convention deputation circulated a letter to other deputies asking that bishops-elect be interrogated as to their interpretation of TEC polity before consents are given. The conclusion is inescapable that abuse of the Title IV process is being coordinated with the anomaly of General Convention consents to promote a rigid uniformity of opinion on controversial issues of polity. Those who adhere to the views expressed in one Texas amicus brief are to be welcomed; those who share the views of the other amicus brief are to be blacklisted. We appear to have reached the point where Messrs. White, Dykman, Dawley and Stevick””if they were alive today””would be banished from the church were they to testify truthfully that they believed what they wrote””and the point where the abuse of canonical disciplinary processes is thought to be an acceptable tactic to obtain political and secular legal objectives. Our hope for TEC and those at this General Convention is that they will resist this creeping totalitarianism, dismiss these frivolous complaints, reconsider the ill-advised Title IV revisions and start to restore some health and dignity to our canonical processes.[/blockquote]
In 2011, several bishops and the four of us at ACI were asked to submit affidavit testimony in the Quincy litigation. The three bishops and the ACI clergy submitted short affidavits testifying that they had signed the 2009 Bishops’ Statement and believed it to be true. It is important to note that this was not legal argumentation, but testimony given under oath. Witnesses are not asked to take a position on the issues in the lawsuit; they are simply expected to testify truthfully under penalty of perjury. It is the civic duty of citizens to testify truthfully when required; it is common knowledge that those with relevant information can be subpoenaed and required to testify. That did not happen in Quincy; we gave testimony voluntarily. But the larger point is that testifying truthfully is not optional””it is a requirement of our legal system.
In late 2011 the court, relying in part on the affidavit testimony, denied TEC’s motion for summary judgment. It is important to emphasize that the Title IV complaint alleging a canonical violation was not filed against the fifteen bishops who signed the Bishops’ Statement in 2009, but only against the three who testified truthfully in 2011 that they believed it to be true. And it was not filed against these bishops in 2011 when they testified, but only a year later and after the summary judgment motion was lost. The conclusion is inescapable: the gravamen of the alleged canonical violation is not holding or expressing an opinion about polity but testifying truthfully (and persuasively) under oath in court.[/blockquote]
Again we note that no Title IV complaint was lodged against these bishops in 2009 when they published these opinions in the Bishops’ Statement. Nor can anyone contend that submitting an amicus brief is a canonical offense; other TEC bishops have submitted a different amicus brief to the Texas Supreme Court this year expressing different opinions. Have we come to the point that amicus briefs expressing approved opinions get a nihil obstat but others, no matter how ancient and venerable their pedigree, are met with canonical reprisal? If so, our point that TEC’s polity is being transformed through secular litigation is proved beyond doubt.[/blockquote]
Read it all
When the definitive book on sports comebacks is written, it will surely include a chapter on Brian Baker. By rights the 27-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee, shouldn’t be able to raise a racket, let alone play professional tennis at the highest level, but yesterday the qualifier who went through five rounds of surgery in as many years swept into the last 16 of Wimbledon after beating the Frenchman BenoÃ®t Paire 6-4 4-6 6-1 6-3.
In a championships still reeling from the exit of Rafael Nadal in the second round, Baker’s story can match that upset for drama….
O God, the protector of all who trust in you,
without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:
increase and multiply upon us your mercy;
that with you as our ruler and guide
we may so pass through things temporal
that we lose not our hold on things eternal;
grant this, heavenly Father,
for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.
When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But then what return did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Under a huge dome with images of winged angels, six former Fort Worth-area Episcopal clergymen — including a father and son — lay facedown at a marble altar Saturday and were ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church.
In what officials called a historic moment, Fort Worth Catholic Bishop Kevin Vann and other white-robed priests in the diocese laid hands on the priests at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Keller to welcome them.
It was the first ordination class under Pope Benedict XVI’s new Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, created Jan. 1 to allow Episcopal priests to be ordained as Catholic clergy and for Episcopal congregations to join the Roman Catholic Church.
It was a dominant performance today.
from Kathleen Wells
Colleagues, regarding resolutions to consent to ordination and consecration of several bishops-elect, e.g., C072 Western Louisiana, C066Virginia, etc.:
We will have the opportunity to vote to consent to the ordination and consecration of several bishops-elect at General Convention.
We from Fort Worth are joined by bishops and deputies from the Dioceses of Quincy and San Joaquin in our hope that none of these bishops-elect harbors the views expressed in the amicus brief recently filed against the Diocese of Fort Worth by seven (7) bishops and three (3) priests of this Church.
We respectfully ask that you support us in our request that, before the Bishops and Deputies are asked to vote on these consent resolutions,
1. each bishop-elect will have been appropriately and directly examined at a public hearing of the Legislative Committee on Consecration of Bishops or other appropriate public forum in order to confirm his or her (a) understanding of the basics of the polity of this hierarchical Church and (b) specifically whether he or she contends that dioceses have the unilateral and autonomous authority to leave the Church and take church property with them; and
2. those views be published or otherwise communicated to both houses.
Specifically, as you all probably know, on April 23, 2012 several bishops of this Church-The Rt. Rev. Maurice M. Benitez (retired, Diocese of Texas); The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe (retired, Diocese of Central Florida); The Rt. Rev. Paul E. Lambert (suffragan, Diocese of Dallas); The Rt. Rev. William H. Love (diocesan, Diocese of Albany); The Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson (diocesan, Diocese of W. Louisiana); The Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins (diocesan, Diocese of Springfield); and The Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton (diocesan, Diocese of Dallas)-filed an amicus brief with the Texas Supreme Court which urged that Court to reverse the summary judgment in favor of The Episcopal Church, Bishop Wallis Ohl, and the loyal Episcopalians in the reorganized, continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, promoting a fundamental misunderstanding of the polity of our Church, including misrepresentations that:
* The Church is hierarchical only to the diocesan level, not to the General Convention;
* In the Episcopal Church, the highest authority is the diocesan bishop, not General Convention;
* A diocese in the Episcopal Church is autonomous;
* The Diocese of Fort Worth (and therefore presumably any diocese in the Episcopal Church) can unilaterally leave this Church (and presumably usurp the historic church names, records, funds and substantial other real and personal property as the breakaway group forms or affiliates with a new church);
* Breakaway former bishop Jack Iker, not Provisional Bishop Wallis Ohl who is recognized by this Church, is still the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and that it is Iker’s determination of core ecclesiastical issues, e.g. identity of the bishop and other church officials, that binds the secular court under the deference standard in resolving church property disputes; and
* Iker and the breakaway Defendants should prevail in the litigation against the loyal Episcopalians and thus be able to remove from the mission and ministry of The Episcopal Church and its Diocese and congregations the historic church names, records, funds and substantial other real and personal property throughout the Diocese.
Certainly this request is not a criticism or judgment of any of the bishops-elect we will prayerfully consider in the consent process at General Convention. They-and future bishops-elect for whom the dioceses may grant or withhold their consent-can and should speak unambiguously for themselves on these issues.
We believe strongly that, as we vote, each Deputy and Bishop should be fully informed of the position of each bishop-elect on these fundamental issues and consider the grave spiritual, missional, and financial costs of the schisms which can emanate from all those qualified accession clauses and this “hierarchy stops at me” mentality.
Bishop and Deputation, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth:
The Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl
C1 The Rev. David A. Madison L1 Kathleen Wells
C2 The Rev. Susan Slaughter L2 Victoria Prescott
C3 The Rev. J. Fred Barber L3 Katie Sherrod
C4 The Rev. Melanie Barbarito L4 Robert Hicks
CA1 The Rev. Amy Haynie LA1 Lisa Neilson
CA2 The Rev. Janet Nocher LA2 Norm Snyder
CA3 The Rev. James Reynolds LA3 Brent Walker
CA4 The Rev. ClayOla Gitane LA4 Margaret Mieuli
On June 28, 2012, Bishop Clay Matthews gave notice to 9 bishops that complaints have been filed under the provisions of Title IV. Bishops Salmon, Beckwith and MacPherson were cited for having endorsed a legal pleading filed in the Quincy lawsuit. In addition, Bishops Benitez, Howe, Lambert, Love, MacPherson, Martins, and Stanton were charged with misconduct due to their submission of an amicus curiae brief in the Fort Worth case.
The Anglican Communion Institute’s announcement pertaining to the amicus curiae brief filed with the court in the Fort Worth lawsuit, included the following statement.
All of these bishops and all of the officers and directors of ACI remain in The Episcopal Church and have submitted this brief solely because they disagree with the characterization of the governance of The Episcopal Church as submitted in support of the motion for summary judgment that the trial court granted in this case. As is well known, these bishops and ACI oppose the decision by the Diocese of Fort Worth to leave The Episcopal Church. They have no intention of withdrawing from the Church, but it is precisely because they intend to remain in the Church that they are concerned that the trial court ruling has misunderstood, and thereby damaged, the constitutional structure of The Episcopal Church.
The idea that the submission of this brief, based on such reasoning, could be construed as “misconduct” is simply incredible.
Even under the ill-conceived disciplinary canon rammed through the General Convention in 2009, it is hard to understand how Bishop Matthews as “Intake Officer” could have considered these complaints credible enough to continue the process. The fact that the charges were communicated on the same day for both the Quincy and the Fort Worth cases suggests that the credibility of the charges was based on the position of power and influence held by the accuser rather than the facts.
Besides being conduct unbecoming of a church, this action is a violation of the guarantee of the right of free speech found in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The supposed “wall of separation” between church and state was never meant to provide a place to hide from being bound by the laws of the land. Indeed, this action at best has the smell of a witch-hunt. One can only hope that this travesty will cause Episcopalians to recognize that the disciplinary canon is ripe for abuse and demand it be abolished in its present form.
Meanwhile, please join me in supporting and praying for our bishops who have stood for what they believe is right and are now being attacked for their courage.
The Rev. Charles D. Alley, Ph.D.
Rector, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church