Category : TEC Polity & Canons

[ACI] Questions for Presiding Bishop Candidates, 2015

The following are questions we would want to see posed to and answered by the current candidates for Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. We hope that our bishops will make sure that these, or questions like them, are put forward and engaged publicly by the candidates themselves.

In general, the Presiding Bishop is defined as the “chief pastor”, “primate”, “leader”, and “spokesperson” for the national church as it is ordered by General Convention. The Constitution gives the Presiding Bishop no “metropolitical” authority, in that the office has no jurisdiction over other bishops, and the General Convention has explicitly rejected the notion that the Presiding Bishop is an “archbishop”, even in name only. Hence, qualities and commitments that engage pastoral and representative duties should be foremost in assessing candidates, ones that embody the teachings and spirit of Jesus Christ. The questions below relate to such qualities as we understand them in the context of our present times.

Questions to which a “yes” answer should raise serious questions about the candidate’s fitness for the role of Presiding Bishop:….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

[ACI] Ephraim Radner: Questions Facing the Episcopal Church Over Redefining Marriage

Written by: Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner
At the root of the division over human marriage that proposed changes like TEC’s have engendered is a stark question regarding the status of the facts of mother-father-child marriage outlined above: do these facts have divine and thus revelatory significance? That is, does the fact that children (and thus the partners of future marriages) are physically born from male-female sexual coupling, or that mothers and their children are bound by the deepest of physiological and psychological ties, or that fathers have always had the strongest moral responsibilities towards their mates and children, or that the mother-father-child relationship has been both deeply given as well as protected in the experience of human beings ”“ does any of this in particular have divine revelatory significance? If it does have such significance, does it need to be examined, reflected upon, delighted in, cherished, and submitted to?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

[ACI] Mark McCall: Good Order And The Re-Definition of Marriage

Written by Mark McCall – Sunday June 21st, 2015

On the eve of a General Convention that will consider several important proposals to change the definition of marriage in the Church’s doctrine, discipline and worship, much attention is directed, perhaps belatedly, to the question of good order. Several bishops generally sympathetic to the idea of same sex marriage have expressed concerns that the way in which that innovation is now being proposed violates “good order.” Rejecting this charge, the Task Force on the Study of Marriage, also sympathetic to same sex marriage, has offered an amendment to the marriage canon that it claims will promote rather than undermine “good order.”
…What are the implications of these canonical provisions for the consideration of “good order” in the re-definition of marriage?

– First, the marriage rubric (BCP, p.422) begins “Christian marriage is a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God.” This rubric is part of the “discipline of the Church” as defined in Canon IV.2.

– Second, the Catechism (BCP, p. 861) provides that “Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which the woman and man enter into a life-long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows.” The Catechism also defines (BCP, p. 860) “sacramental rites” of the Church to include Holy Matrimony. Both the Catechism and the sacramental rite of marriage are thus part of the “doctrine” of the Church as defined in Canon IV.2, conformity to which is canonically required.

– Third, the marriage canon (I.1.18) requires clergy to conform to “the laws of this Church governing the solemnization of Holy Matrimony” and provides that “Holy Matrimony is a physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman.”

– Fourth, Art. X of the Constitution specifies the procedures by which the BCP, containing the sacramental rites and rubrics for Holy Matrimony and the Catechism, can be amended: affirmative votes at two successive General Conventions, the second by a majority of all bishops entitled to vote and a majority in a vote by orders of all dioceses entitled to representation.
None of this is obscure; to the contrary, it is obvious. Yet the most remarkable thing about the many resolutions offered on marriage (ten so far) is that not a single one even proposes the obvious first step required of good order: amending or revising the BCP.

To be sure there are four resolutions (C017, C022, C026 and D026) that reference the BCP, but none of them attempts to comply with the constitutional requirements for amending it. Instead, they flagrantly attempt to circumvent the Constitution by re-interpreting the language of the BCP:

the language “man and woman” and “husband and wife” therein shall be equally applicable to two people of the same gender, and all gender-specific language shall be interpreted to be gender-neutral, and may thus be modified as necessary for the purposes of the said Canon, and of the said rites. (C017.)

The Constitution is explicit on changing the BCP: “no alteration” of the BCP is permitted except in accordance with the specified procedures. By their own terms, these “interpretation” resolutions purport to “modify” the BCP rites. Passage of any one of these resolutions would thus reflect the Church expressing its collective contempt for its own Constitution.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

Bps Benhase & McConnell: A More Excellent Way

By Bishops Scott Benhase and Dorsey McConnell in the Living Church
…It is the commission’s considered opinion that “the General Convention is the final arbiter of the meaning of the Constitution and Canons. Accordingly, when the General Convention adopts a canon, it is by definition constitutional, and the General Convention is presumed to have ensured that it is so” (p. 22). As such, the commission concludes that there simply is no constitutional question that could possibly be raised, rendering Resolution D047 irrelevant.

If this is where we are then we have come to a sorry state indeed. The constitutional good order of what we do at General Convention must be understood as a considered task to accomplish rather than a presumption to take for granted. We cannot imagine most Episcopalians actually believe that whatever General Convention happens to do is by definition constitutional merely because General Convention has done it.

We do well to consider carefully the constitutional authority of our proposed actions this summer, particularly the chaos that would ensue by pitting the canons against the prayer book (as in A036), by putting bishops in conflict with liturgies over which they are the intended chief officer (as in A054), and by accepting without challenge the conclusion of the Commission on Constitution and Canons that what General Convention approves, reason must obey. Should the 78th General Convention produce a lasting witness to our faith and order, it will be by fulfilling our charge to take orderly counsel with all due care. In 2012, through the approval of provisional rites, we created an open space that has proven enormously helpful in allowing freedom and protecting conscience. Can we build on this now, in a way that embraces all our sisters and brothers? In this more excellent way, we model for one another our Lord’s love for us, and become ambassadors of reconciliation ”” in our church, in the Anglican Communion, and in the wider body of Christ.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

Diocese of South Carolina's PR on TEC's ”˜Spurious’ Offer to Settle

The offer was made by a local attorney who represents the 20 percent of members who remained with TEC when most of the Diocese disaffiliated in 2012. It promised that TEC would end its multimillion dollar legal campaign to seize local church properties if the parishes agree to hand over the Diocese’s identity, its other assets including the Diocese’s offices on Coming Street in Charleston and the St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center, which is prime real estate that could be sold off by the cash-strapped denomination.

“This is not a legitimate offer of good faith negotiation and never was intended to be,” said the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis, Assistant to Bishop Mark Lawrence. “It was a spurious offer chiefly made to disrupt submission of our brief and make them look good in the press.” Lewis said. “As a matter of fact, the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor is on record as saying they would never settle. In that, they have been utterly consistent up until now.”

“Judge Diane Goodstein ruled that TEC has ”˜no legal, equitable or beneficial interest’ in these properties. TEC appealed the matter and a hearing is scheduled before the South Carolina Supreme Court in September. If TEC were confident of its case, they would be eager for justice to be served and would not attempt to derail the next step in the legal process . Their so-called proposal has been unanimously rejected by all parties.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

(Xn Post) Original Diocese of Fort Worth Wins Court Battle Over Church Property Claimed by TEC

A judge has ruled that a diocese in Texas which broke away from The Episcopal Church over theological differences is the rightful owner of its church property.

Judge John Chupp of Tarrant County ruled Wednesday that All Saints Episcopal Church belongs to the…Diocese of Fort Worth rather than the national denomination.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

A S Haley””The Episcopal Church is Making a Mishmash of Marriage (Part III)

The fundamental problem of adapting traditional Christian marriage (“Holy Matrimony”) to same-sex unions is that the theology of the former turns into blasphemy when the rite is carried over, holus-bolus, to the latter. Begin with St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians: [ ]
By undermining the orthodoxy of traditional marriage, by emphasizing the ability of couples to make cafeteria choices of how the Church (and, presumably, God) will bless and solemnize their relationships, the Church will knock out the very props that hold up the traditional family, by treating them as no more important than any other commitment that can be imagined between two people.

And in undermining the family, the Church will complete its own undermining, because it is the family that enables the very existence and support of the Church itself. As the percentage of families in a congregation drops, so does its ability to provide continuity from one generation to the next. And once it loses the ties that bind it to previous generations, the Church itself will no longer have reason to exist. (Remember that religio, the source for our “religion,” means “I bind again.”)

Thus the Episcopal Church 2015 is at a watershed, and the way it handles marriage will define its own future. It cannot remain true to St. Paul’s mystery of the marriage covenant while riding the bandwagon for same-sex blessings and marriages: the two are fundamentally and unalterably incompatible

Read it all and also Part I and Part II

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

[ACI] Excluding Your Enemy: A Comment on the Present State of the Episcopal Church

By Philip Turner and Ephraim Radner
We write to bring to the attention of the Bishops, Priest, Deacons and Lay Persons of The Episcopal Church (TEC) a matter of grave concern. It is a matter that, left unaddressed in the decision-making of General Convention, now threatens the integrity and public witness of everyone who calls him or herself an Episcopalian: is our church prepared to permit in its midst clergy and lay leaders who, however much they represent a minority opinion, are committed to a traditional reading of TEC’s Prayer Book and Constitution? Or will TEC instead seek to drive such persons out, by invective, discrimination, and abuse of the disciplinary canons?
in the build-up to the General Convention this July, other matters provide a new basis for the dynamics of vituperative exclusion. Calls are being made, for instance, that newly elected bishops actually be asked “are you or have you ever been associated with the ACI?”; a positive response being seen as grounds for refusal of consent. More intricately, formal proposals are being pressed at the upcoming General Convention to change TEC’s canons so that same-gender marriage and not just blessings are permitted. Should these efforts succeed, the General Convention by simple say-so will have rendered the stated doctrine of marriage in the Book of Common Prayer without binding authority. Anticipating this outcome many claim that Bishops will have to permit same gender blessings and marriages in their diocese or face discipline, just as did those who suggested that TEC’s Constitution be read in a way contrary to the current Presiding Bishop’s. There is good reason to believe that this change in doctrine and practice will become mandatory in all dioceses. Indeed, as we write, the blogs are filled with invective and statements to the effect that “It’s time for those who disagree to leave.”

Invective aside, we do not believe that TEC’s constitution, in respect to doctrine and worship, permits making obligatory for a Diocesan Bishop anything other than the Book of Common Prayer. Obviously, this is an arguable position, but the argument in support is powerful. It is based on a careful reading of TEC’s constitution. Any contrary opinion must be based on the same sort of close reading if it is to claim a serious right to be heard. This dispute touches the ecclesial fate of all, and it deserves better than name-calling and threats of discipline and deposition for those who disagree. Sadly, patience for careful reading and discussion has evaporated. Threats of discipline and legal action against questioners, no matter the care and rigor of their questioning, are now mounting in frequency and these threats have behind them a history of being carried out.

Read it all

See also for background:
Misrepresenting ACI’s Concerns About The Constitutionality of [New] Liturgical Material (Apr 21, 2015)
The Episcopal Church and the New Episcopal Church (Apr 20, 2015)
What Then Shall We Do? A Note on the upcoming General Convention of the Episcopal Church (April 30, 2015)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

A S Haley–The Episcopal Church is Making a Mishmash of Marriage (Part II)

As one can see, Resolution 2015-A054 offers up a veritable smorgasbord of marriage services for all and sundry. If you are an atheist, the Episcopal Church (USA) is ready to meet you and marry you with its “Civil Marriage Rite”; if it is illegal to marry in your State, the Episcopal Church (USA) will still meet you and bless your union with its “Marriage-Lite Rite”; and if you want the full trappings for your same-sex ceremony, well, ECUSA offers it in modern (“Wedding Rite”) and traditional (“Mystical Union”) versions, according to your taste.

But the consequence is necessarily the dilution of Christian marriage into a virtually meaningless smear. The message that ECUSA is conveying with its cafeteria-style offerings is that it does not really stand behind any one of them; they all must be equally valid, liturgically speaking, and so “you pays yer money and you takes yer choice.” Whether you are really married is between God and you; it is not for the Church to say.

Resolutions A036 and A054, as noted, work in tandem to accomplish this goal. The one would be meaningless without the other — indeed, until A054 goes into formal effect and its marriage rites are authorized by diocesan bishops in their respective jurisdictions, the canonical violations described in the first Part of this post will continue unabated and unpunished.

In the next Part of this post, we will take a longer view of the Church’s abandonment of traditional marriage, and the consequences of that abandonment for two Western institutions of paramount importance: the family, and the “one, true, catholic and apostolic church” itself.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, TEC Polity & Canons

Anglican Unscripted 182 – Marriage

With thanks to Kevin Kallsen and Allan Haley at Anglican TV

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

A S Haley–The Episcopal Church is Making a Mishmash of Marriage (Part I)

Now you should see the dilemma in which the revisionist clergy find themselves. In jumping the gun in 2012 to rush into church-sanctioned same-sex marriages (as a matter of “generous pastoral response” to a tiny minority of parishioners), they did not have the patience first to change either the Canons or the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer. (The latter would have required action by two successive General Conventions, or a minimum of four years.)

As a consequence, every single bishop and every single priest in ECUSA who has presided over the solemnization of a same-sex marriage up to now — whether using a rite “authorized by the diocesan” or not — is liable to discipline under Title IV of the Church Canons. Need I bother declaring the odds of such proceedings ever taking place? No matter — the Canons have still been, and still are, knowingly violated and so, disrespected — by the very persons charged with conforming to them.

And now comes the Task Force with its “proposal” to amend Canon I.18, as embodied in proposed Resolution 2015-A036. In my next post, I will show how their proposal continues to make a mockery of the Canons and of the Book of Common Prayer. In the process, it manages to create a thorough mishmash of “Christian marriage” in the Episcopal Church (USA). All in all, that is quite a feat!

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Book of Common Prayer, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

News from Maryland: TEC Bishop Heather E. Cook resigns+ is no longer a priest

The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton and the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland today announced the acceptance of the resignation of Heather E. Cook as bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. This means that Cook is no longer employed by the diocese. The acceptance of Cook’s resignation is independent of any Title IV disciplinary action taken by the Episcopal Church.

Read it all and there is more there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Alcohol/Drinking, Alcoholism, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology, Travel

[ACI] What Then Shall We Do? A Note on the upcoming General Convention of the Episcopal Church

By Philip Turner and Ephraim Radner
In what way will our General Convention respond to subversion of our church’s governmental forms, common purposes and Gospel character? Viewing these events and trends in the full light of day we are bound to ask ourselves and others the question put to St. Peter by the crowd to which he preached. “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) Peter’s answer was “Repent”””turn around. Given the acrimony and bitterness that now characterizes TEC’s common life it would seem that a turning from our combative ways is certainly called for. As a church we certainly need a fresh start, but a fresh start must begin somewhere. Our analysis of the present treatment of our Constitution and Book of Common Prayer points to this place. Let us pull back and, in the processes of change, adhere to the boundaries the constitution has provided us so that change can come about decently and in order, rather than by slight of hand or the sheer exercise of power.Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

AS Haley: When Is a Church Not a Church? When It's a Debt Collector

The Episcopal Church (USA) has two primary sources of income: according to its latest audited financial statements for the calendar year 2013, it received a little over $27 million from its member dioceses, and it received half as much again, or $13.8 million, from the federal government. (Its total income for 2013 from invested funds was $8 million.)

The money ECUSA received from the federal government was in connection with the services provided by Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), an office within the Church organization at 815 Second Avenue in New York that assists the State Department in relocating refugees throughout the United States.

As of the end of calendar 2013, ECUSA had undertaken to collect for the U.S. Government a total of $11,339,000 in loans made by the Government to refugees for their expenses in being brought to the United States for relocation.

From the Presiding Bishop’s annotated budget proposal for the 2013-2015 triennium, we learn (p. 2, line 13) that the Church earned a total of $2,163,008 from its debt collection efforts during the 2010-2012 triennium, and incurred collection costs for that same period (p. 5, line 87) of just $983,442. As a debt collector from 2010 through 2012, therefore, the Church added a total of $1,179,566 to its bottom line, or approximately $393,189 of pure profit per year.

And from the latest year-end statement of operations for calendar 2014, we learn (line 13, column 4) that in just its most recent year, ECUSA took in a total of $933,218 from the refugees it assisted — some $223,218 over budget, and attributed in the note at the far right to “Exceptional performance by the Refugee Loan Collections staff.” At the same time, its loan collection expenses for 2014 (first page, fourth line from the bottom) were just $548,343, for a net surplus from debt collecting of $384,875 — so the profitability of refugee loans continues at almost the same pace, thanks to the staff’s extraordinary efforts.

Does that claim of a “$2.4 million surplus” in 2014 still look the same to you? Was it achieved, in part, on the backs of the refugees whom the Government paid ECUSA to assist?

What in the world is a church doing in the debt collection business, and pocketing more than twice its actual costs of collection while doing so? Would that not be considered excessive, even for a loan shark?

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

Michael Bird has some interesting comments on TEC in a response to Rachel Held Evans

The Episcopal Church (TEC) is a complex and diverse denomination. Only last January I had the pleasure of worshipping at two Episcopal churches in Houston, which was a great experience with some wonderful people. In a broad church like TEC there are people to the theological left and right and everything in between. However, TEC as a whole is typified by a radical liberalism and an authoritative leadership that punishes dissent and persecutes conservative believers (I can provide evidence if you wish!). Bishops in TEC have denied every line in the Apostles’ Creed and there is a flagrant rejoicing in apostasy. I have to tell you that the vast majority of world-wide Anglicans look on TEC with a mixture of confusion and disgust and have broken fellowship with TEC. It is because of TEC that the next Lambeth conference has been indefinitely postponed. The African and Global South Anglican bishops have responded with no shortage of rage and rancor at TEC’s actions and attitudes towards Scripture. Now if the TEC presiding bishop asked you, as something of a celebrity recruit to TEC, to go to Africa and get the African bishops to chillax and to receive TEC back into the Anglican fold, what would you say to them? In other words, should the global south Anglican bishops be in fellowship with TEC?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, --Aggressive Title IV Action Against Multiple Bishops on Eve of Gen. Con. 2012, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelicals, Global South Churches & Primates, Other Churches, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

ACI: Misrepresenting ACI’s Concerns About The Constitutionality of [New] Liturgical Material

Misrepresenting ACI’s Concerns About The Constitutionality of Supplemental Liturgical Material
Written by: The Reverend Canon Professor Christopher Seitz & Mark McCall, Esq.

Last week we published an analysis of proposals to have this General Convention authorize supplemental liturgies that would be neither part of the Book of Common Prayer nor a proposed revision of it. Based on the detailed text of Article X of TEC’s Constitution, we concluded that General Convention does not have this authority and that whatever authority does exist to authorize supplemental rites resides in the bishop of each diocese. We noted that the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music appears to agree with us since it has proposed amending Article X to assign this authority to General Convention and explained the need for such an amendment with an analysis of that article that is identical to our own reading.
Tobias Haller, who served on the Marriage Task Force that has put forward various proposals to the upcoming General Convention, objects to our analysis.
Perhaps Haller’s title was only a rhetorical flourish; and so we should address the substance at issue. His main argument appears to be that if something has been going on for a long time it must be constitutional. For starters, he should take this point up with the SCLM and the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons, which jointly have been attempting over the last 25 years to amend Article X of TEC’s Constitution to give General Convention authority to authorize these supplemental materials. If they are constitutional anyway, why the bother? Why try again now?

In any event, Haller’s legal reasoning at this point is naïve, common though it may be. Constitutional questions are not something like adverse possession: as if doing an unconstitutional act openly and notoriously for ten years makes it constitutional. There is often a significant period of time when the unconstitutionality of a legislative act goes unrecognized. Indeed, whenever a court finds such an act unconstitutional it is true by definition that a majority of the legislators themselves had previously thought the act constitutional. And there are well known cases in which the Supreme Court itself had previously upheld the constitutionality of statutes it was later to strike down. As we know, Brown v. Board of Education overruled a similar case…
Finally, we end by noting the first point we made in our essay to which Haller objects. There is a New Episcopal Church, which he seems to be defending. It has cut the constraints tethering it to constitutional governance and Prayer Book worship and is soaring Icarus-like to ever greater heights. What could possibly go wrong?

Without a constitutionally defined episcopal office and a Constitution respected as such, TEC will become a triennial General Convention Church with triennially defined identity.

Read it all and the earlier ACI analysis ‘The Episcopal Church and The New Episcopal Church’ is here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

[ACI] The Episcopal Church and the New Episcopal Church

Written by The Reverend Canon Professor Christopher Seitz & Mark McCall, Esq.

..we can now better understand why we are witnessing the emergence of a New Episcopal Church, which conforms neither to the historical TEC nor even the confused one set forth in the Primer. The New Episcopal Church (henceforth NEC) retains a Constitution, Bishops, a General Convention, and even Holy Scripture, but these take on an altogether different character than in the erstwhile TEC. NEC has allowed to emerge a Presiding Bishop with disciplinary authority over fellow Bishops ”“ something the Constitution does not permit. NEC no longer sees Bishops as obedient to Holy Scripture by solemn oath, as set forth in the BCP, but rather as agents of General Convention actions. This is made clear in respect of proposed same-sex blessing and marriage rites, where the role given to them (“under the direction and subject to the permission of the Bishop with ecclesiastical authority”) is now obviated. The Constitution remains but is no longer the governor of General Convention actions, but is somehow identical with whatever General Convention may decide to do.

The problem may be seen in its more acute form in the manner in which the Book of Common Prayer, itself a constitutional document which is not to be altered except by affirmative votes by orders of “a majority of the Dioceses entitled to representation” at two successive GCs, has now become a vague placeholder of yesterday’s temporary and transitory convictions. Even the Primer stays away from this obvious problem area in the quote above, though we may see a hint of it in the language which concludes the quote, “”¦of our various liturgies.” What began as an assertion of the unique and catholic status of the Book of Common Prayers (and its Ordinal) which embodies “the essential understanding of Christian faith as prayed by faithful Episcopalians” (lex credendi, lex orandi) appears to slide into a very different context: various liturgies emerging to give expression to what we now believe and hold to be so, apart from subjection to the Constitution and the letter of the Book of Common Prayer. This produces not catholicity but each new generation’s assertion of its freedom to confess and pray and pronounce and hear scripture’s word on its own terms.

In the review to follow, we can see how the alteration of our historical, catholic understanding of the Constitution and Book of Common Prayer has created in its wake two different Episcopal Churches. This has come in the form of supplementation and aggregation of rites to be used alongside the BCP, to the degree that that BCP itself begins to disappear in a rear-view mirror. Minimally, it leads to a view of the BCP as something like a starting point, or ignition switch, on new rites necessary to make sense of what has in consequence become an erstwhile book. No longer necessary is constitutionally ordered Prayer Book revision, because the BCP doesn’t hold any specific claim that would necessitate such revision anyway…

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

A Christian Post story on the Multi-Million Dollar South Carolina Episcopal Church Suit

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

Episcopal Clergy: Is This Any Longer a Church One Wants To Join?

A Plea to the Leaders of the Episcopal Church.
The Episcopal Church (TEC) is experiencing a precipitous decline in Sunday morning attendance. Without addressing some of its institutional pathologies, TEC will render itself evermore irrelevant. Yet the current proposals to restructure the church ignore its basic problems. [1]

The present practices, or likely outcomes in the very near future, of TEC raise a number of questions. Here is a sample:
● A proposed modification of the Book of Common Prayer Marriage Rite wherein the rubrics are malleable and the Biblical and canonical warrants [2] are ignored or abandoned;
● The BCP definition of marriage is subverted without constitutional procedure; [3]
● Tens of millions of dollars, perhaps over $40 million, have been spent on litigation without any budget line accountability; [4]
● The rewriting of the Title IV canon gives the Presiding Bishop metropolitical authority vis-à-vis fellow Bishops, against the Constitution’s plain sense; [5]
● Bishops are disciplined for filing an amicus brief while other bishops and leaders file them with impunity with SCOTUS; [6]
● Bishops are declared to have renounced their Orders without ever doing so in the manner called for by canon; [7]
● The ”˜National Church,’ when it is urged by GC to move its offices, simply ignores the recommendation; [8] and
● Mandatory Diocesan giving is called for without any constitutional authority; [9]

This list is incomplete, but it is sufficient to indicate the state of lawlessness into which the church has moved , and to pose the questions: Is TEC any longer a church of constitutional and canonical order? Is this Church acting decently and in order? How can there be a hope of restoring a level of trust across differences of theological conviction when the good order that this Church constitutionally and canonically expects is simply ignored? [10]

”  If the BCP is to be changed, let it be done in accordance with the rules established to do that.
”  If money is being spent on litigation, let there be a public accounting of that.
”  If the Presiding Bishop is to be given new authorities, let the Constitution be altered in the manner required.
”  If it is not proper to file an amicus brief in one case, then it is not proper to file one in another case.
”  If Bishops are declared to have renounced their Orders, let it happen in the manner called for by the Constitution and Canons.
”  If we are uncertain, we cannot provide assurance to the members of the church and those who are seeking a church home?

It seems that these are reasonable and fair requests to put before the leaders of this church as they prepare to meet in General Convention this summer.

The Rev’d Dr. Chuck Alley, Richmond, Virginia
The Rev’d Frank Fuller, Corpus Christi, Texas
The Rev’d John Newton, St. Paul, Minnesota
The Rev’d Paul Minor, Belmont, Massachusetts
The Rev’d Cheryl Minor, Belmont, Massachusetts
The Rev’d Dr. Ephraim Radner, Diocese of Colorado, Professor at Wycliffe, Toronto
The Rev’d Canon Dr. Chris Seitz, Dallas, Texas
The Rev’d John Sheehan, Aldie, Virginia
The Rev’d Dr. Philip Turner , Austin, Texas
The Rev’d Stockton Williams, Kerrville, Texas

[1] The Task Force For Reimagining the Episcopal Church has produced a long report that is simply silent about theological conflict and its sources, that has so drained the church; or the litigation of the past decade or more, that has drained resources and the structural issues around this; or the need to reconcile with Evangelical members and ex-members, whose loss and alienation has so limited the church’s outreach.
[2] E.g., Genesis 1-2, Matthew 19, Ephesians 5; BCP pp. 422, 423, 861; Canon I.18.Sec. 2(b)
[3] The first proposed resolution by the Convention’s Marriage Taskforce seeks a change in canon that renders the actual language and context of the BCP’s marriage service both semantically incoherent and without authority.
[4] Figures are hard to come by. A reputable, even if partisan, incomplete list of lawsuits can be found at; Haley’s estimate is over $40 million, carefully detailed at
[5] A full analysis of these changes, which was never properly rebutted, is given at
[6] The recent example is found at; earlier, of course,
[7] See;; An interesting commentary on the novel approach, can be found in the blog of AKM Adams, and in the comments.
[8] See; yet other resolutions enacted are treated as law.
[9] Cf. The TREC proposed Resolution A002.
[10] Bishop Sisk of New York: “Where then does that leave us? We are left with a situation in which the mind of this recent Convention appears to be to allow such services. However, The Constitution and The Book of Common Prayer still say something else …. It is my interpretation that the actions of this 2012 General Convention permit, perhaps even encourage, those of us who live in jurisdictions such as New York, to act on that conviction” (bold added). See

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

Some Very Interesting Documentation from the US Supreme Court in the Fort Worth Episcopal Ch. Case

The case was called The Episcopal Church v. The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the Supreme Court denied Petition for certiorari. Note carefully the numerous links provided, including, for example, Brief the amici curiae of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the new Episcopal Church Diocese in South Carolina.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

(Local paper) Judge denies motion to reconsider ruling against Episcopal Church

The motion had to be filed before an appeal can move forward.

“Their policy of using legal action to drain the finances of dissident congregations is not working. It only deflects denomination resources from projects to promote the faith and speeds the downward spiral of the Episcopal Church,” said the Rev. Jim Lewis, canon to the ordinary for the Diocese of South Carolina, whose parishes left the national church in 2012.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

(Diocese of Fort Worth) Trial court ruling expected soon in Episcopal Church Lawsuit

Oral arguments on each side’s motion for partial summary judgement were heard this morning in a two-hour hearing before the Hon. John Chupp, and a ruling is expected from him soon. The judge asked for each side to submit proposed orders to him on Monday, Feb. 23. He will likely select one of them to sign, subject to any alterations he may wish to make.
In the course of the hearing before several dozen clergy and lay people, Judge Chupp asked each side, “What are you asking me for today?” The Plaintiffs argued for a “simple solution” acknowledging that the property is held in trust for the Diocese and Congregations by those individuals recognized by The Episcopal Church.

The Diocese and Corporation countered that, under neutral principles of law as mandated for the trial court to follow, the Dennis Canon has been found by the Texas Supreme Court to have been revoked, leaving the property in trust for the parishes and missions in fellowship with the Diocese, and only those individual defendants before the court are the duly-elected officers of the Diocese and the Corporation.

Judge Chupp posed a number of questions to the Plaintiffs during their presentation, and the discussion was frequently animated. Near the conclusion of the hearing he indicated a philosophical preference for local self-determination, asking, “Why do we need to have a ”˜big government’ solution to this where a New York church says [what is best]?”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

A S Haley on TEC reconsideration motion–Judge Goodstein: "We, not You, Get to Say What Is Ours"

Read the remarks of Bishop William White, generally recognized as the leading founder of PECUSA, as I reported them in this earlier post (with my bold, again):

. . . And there appeared [at that more general meeting in October 1784] Deputies, not only from the said three States, but also from others, with the view of consulting on the exigency of the Church. The greater number of these Deputies were not vested with powers for the binding of their constituents; and therefore, although they called themselves a Convention . . . yet they were not an organized body. They did not consider themselves as such; and their only act was, the issuing of a recommendation to the churches in the several States, to unite under a few articles to be considered as fundamental.

Moreover, at pages 6-7 the motion again reverses temporal order: “The Diocese [of South Carolina] came into existence as the Diocese when TEC’s Constitution was adopted in 1789.” This claim is metaphysical, not legal — if the Diocese did not have any legal existence before its authorized representatives signed ECUSA’s Constitution in 1789, then how could their signatures on the Constitution have been authorized? And why did they sign as “Lay Deputies from the State of South Carolina” if the Diocese (i.e., “State”) did not yet exist? (The “State of South Carolina” [in the political sense] was not the entity forming PECUSA. The word “State” was also used in an ecclesiastical sense, as the predecessor to the later word “Diocese” — which began to be used after the State of New York split into two “Dioceses” in 1839.)

The motion goes right on inventing new facts and claiming them to be true….

Read it all.

For more recent stories & commentary on the South Carolina Circuit Court Ruling, see here.

Posted in * Admin, * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Featured (Sticky), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

The New Episcopal Church Diocese in S Carolina files a motion for Reconsideration in recent ruling

You can read the motion here (182 page pdf) and the press release there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

Robert Munday, former Dean of Nashotah House-will The Episcopal Church "come to grips with reality"?

From here:

One might wish that the leadership of the Episcopal Church would come to grips with reality. The people of the Diocese of South Carolina voted by an overwhelming majority to leave the Episcopal Church. Any church bureaucracy that would try to force its will on a Diocese where the majority of people have said they no longer want to be affiliated is manifestly evil. They are just trying to suck the life out of the Diocese of South Carolina (and the other dioceses they are suing) by bleeding them dry through lawsuits. (That’s just my opinion, of course. But this kind of continued pernicious evil from the Episcopal Church’s leadership has been going on long enough that it just makes you wonder what it will take to finally drive a stake through the vampire’s heart.)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Commentary, Anthropology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Rift among S.C. Lowcountry Episcopalians widens as fight continues over properties, name

“I write you at this time to repeat and emphasize several important realities,” Bishop Charles vonRosenberg, leader of TECSC, said in a pastoral letter Wednesday. “First, we believe that this action is an indication that justice has been delayed.

“As we celebrate Black History Month, we are reminded that the history of African-American witness, along with others, is that delayed justice simply calls us to persevere in our efforts. That certainly is our intention at this moment. We will persevere as we seek justice, even though the personal and financial costs will be significant. The present cause requires us to respond in this way.”

But the Rev. Jim Lewis, the Charleston-based diocese’s canon to the ordinary and a close aide to Lawrence, said he believes one man’s perseverance “may be another man’s persecution.”

“They have known from the beginning that the law in South Carolina was against them,” he said Wednesday. “But they drug us through this knothole and will persist to drag us through more knotholes.”

Read it all from the State newspaper.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

A S Haley's Analysis of the recent South Carolina Legal Ruling–"A Full Vindication…"

One of the key factual findings by the Court is this:

39. Mark Lawrence was not elected Bishop of the Diocese with the intent on either his part or on that of the Diocese to lead the Diocese out of TEC. From 2009 until October 2012, his intent was to remain “intact and in TEC.”

Based on this finding alone, Judge Goodstein dismissed “with prejudice” (meaning that they cannot be raised again, in any forum) ECUSA’s and ECSC’s counterclaims against Bishop Lawrence. Those had accused him of “conspiring” to lead his Diocese out of ECUSA, of fraud and breaches of fiduciary duty, etc., and generally of conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy — claims that his accusers had to bring twice before the Disciplinary Board before the Presiding Bishop could get what she wanted (once she changed its membership slightly).

Needless to say, Judge Goodstein made such a finding because ECUSA and ECSC never had any evidence to substantiate their charges. (Note to hostile readers, such as those from the Episcopal Forum in South Carolina, or the followers of Steve Skardon: “evidence” in a court of law is something far more than just accusations and innuendo. What you can say on your blogs is not “evidence.” Until you learn this difference, you have no basis upon which to claim victory in any court.)

On the legal side, the decision is chock full of useful conclusions that can be cited and used in the Fort Worth case, and in the ongoing appeal in the San Joaquin case. For example, this is one of the best judicial discussions to date of the First Amendment rights of a diocese-member of an unincorporated church such as ECUSA

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, - Anglican: Commentary, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

(AP) South Carolina court rules Episcopal diocese, churches can keep property

A South Carolina court has ruled that the Diocese of South Carolina and its parish churches are the owners of their property, not The Episcopal Church.

In a decision handed down Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein wrote that the diocese and its churches are “the owners of their real, personal and intellectual property.”

Goodstein wrote that The Episcopal Church “has no legal, beneficial or equitable interest” in the diocese and its property.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

A.S. Haley–Clash of the Canons and Civil Law at Genral Theological Seminary

The Church’s Canons, however, run in both directions. As an ordained Episcopal priest, Dean Dunkle is subject to the disciplinary canons. He is canonically resident in the Diocese of Florida (where, fittingly enough, he served as Bishop Howard’s point man in litigating against departing parishes). Already on the Facebook page created to support the eight faculty members, there have been calls to lodge complaints against Dean Dunkle with that Diocese’s Intake Officer for violating the Canons of Title IV. The question there, however, will be whether the Bishop of Florida will want to be viewed as interfering in a matter that involves the internal governance of GTS, and that accordingly should be left to the Board.

Thus we have all kinds of balls up in the air at GTS. The faculty has organized into a union, but the NLRB will not take jurisdiction over religious schools and their unions, so the Board cannot be ordered to negotiate with it. The Bishop of Florida has putative disciplinary authority over the GTS Dean, but he likewise will probably not take jurisdiction. Whether any of ECUSA’s Canons may be said to override the terms of the faculty’s employment agreements again is a question without a court that can decide it. And we are not informed as to whether the faculty members even have written contracts of employment with GTS — or whether, if they do, their employment is tenured, or is at will in some cases.

It looks, then, as though the parties will just have to come together to sort things out. And after all, isn’t that the Christian thing to do?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

Anglican Unscripted 117 – features Allan Haley on the legal news in San Joaquin and South Carolina

Allan Haley is Kevin Kallson’s guest on the latest episode of Anglican Unscripted. Allan and Kevin discuss the legal situations in the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin and the Diocese of South Carolina.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons