Category : Episcopal Church (TEC)

(WCAX) TEC Diocese of Vermont confronts financial squeeze

The Episcopal Diocese of Vermont is considering its next steps after a recent financial analysis revealed problems.

“Fewer people may mean fewer dollars coming in to those congregations and thus those congregations giving fewer dollars to support the dioceses,” said the Diocese’s Rev. Walter Brownridge. This is the flow of finances for the church in Vermont and he fears they will struggle to support their 45 congregations. “We knew we were facing some real challenges in a few years if we didn’t change course.”

There are less than 6,000 Episcopalians in the state, a number that is on the decline due to various reasons, including an aging demographic.

“I’m almost 80 myself and I’m not particularly unusual in our congregation, and there are a lot of parishes like this that are losing members due to attrition, to deaths, to people moving away,” said Glenn Sproul, a member of the All Saints Episcopal Church in South Burlington.

Read it all (part of summer break article catch-up).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Parishes

‘The Advent has changed’: Andrew Pearson on why he left TEC’s Advent Cathedral, dealing with the diocese, starting an Anglican church in Birmingham

A church shouldn’t have to compromise its identity, he said.

“Do you have to have an elaborate document in order to get permission to preach the gospel?” Pearson said. “That shows me there’s something not quite right in the relationship from the get-go. It really was those core issues that were being brought to bear and of course, yes, they manifest themselves in the sexuality issue.”

He was not pressing other churches to change to the Advent’s position, he said.

“In one of our earlier conversations the president of the Standing Committee said to me, ‘Well, Andrew, what would you say if an Episcopal Church in Birmingham hired a transgendered clergy person to be their associate?’” Pearson said. “My answer was, ‘What I’d say is ‘Welcome to the Episcopal Church.’”

It was more about the Advent’s right to keep its tradition, he said.

“The issue really became, for me anyway, I think the individual congregation should have the ability to go in the direction they feel called to go, but I’d ask the same for the Advent,” he said. “I wasn’t really concerned what other Episcopal churches in the diocese were doing, but there seems to be a great concern from other churches as to what the Advent is doing.”

Read it all.

Posted in TEC Conflicts, TEC Parishes

Brand New TEC Diocese of SC has lawsuit against the Church Insurance Company dismissed by the 4th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals

Plaintiff Episcopal Church in South Carolina is embroiled in litigation…It filed this action against its own insurer—the Church Insurance Company of Vermont—after discovering that the company had reimbursed its adversaries’ defense costs. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of standing. We agree with that assessment and affirm.”

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Bishops

Greenough White–Jackson Kemper: An Apostle of the Western Church

In the same report a “Catholic feature” of the mission is noted,–classes of adult catechumens, conducted by the brethren; and an intention of having weekly communions, “according to primitive practice,” is recorded. To this end the brothers had sought to secure the services of the good missionary priest, Richard Cadle, and to convert him into the Father Superior of their order,–but the worthy man shied at the novel honor. With funds that Hobart had obtained at the East a beautiful tract of land was bought about Nashotah (signifying “Twin Lakes”), and thither, in August, the mission was moved. The following October, Adams and Breck were advanced to the priesthood, and the latter was made head of the religious house. A few theological students answered to the lay brothers of Vallombrosa; they supported themselves by farm work, etc., according to the primitive method at Gambier. The community rose at five o’clock, had services (lauds or prime) at six and nine in the morning, on Wednesdays and Fridays the litany and on Thursdays Holy Communion at noontide, and services at three and half-past six o’clock in the evening, answering to nones and vespers. Now at length, as Breck wrote home with glee, he began to feel that he was really in a monastery. But within a year from that hopeful start it seemed as if the community would be dissolved. Adams had a severe attack of pneumonia, felt unequal to bearing the business burdens of the house, and returned to the East; Hobart lingered a few months longer, and then followed; and Breck began to think of moving further west.

At this period Kenyon College was in such financial straits that it was in imminent danger of being lost to the church,–but a mighty effort was made, collections were taken for it on a large scale among congregations throughout the eastern dioceses, and it was saved; but the extraordinary exertion resulted in a deficit in the missionary treasury that reduced many a poor minister on the frontier to pinching poverty.

One is startled to hear that in 1843 a medical department was annexed to Kemper College and already boasted of the formidable number of seventy-five students. The attention of the church was called to this Protestant Episcopal University west of the Mississippi, which “promised a rich return for its fostering care,” and seemed destined to “hand down the name of its beloved founder to other ages.” There were but a score of students, however, in the collegiate department, at whose first commencement the bishop presided that summer.

The good example set by his young itinerants in Wisconsin moved him to urge the appointment of two or more missionaries of similar type to operate in Indiana. That diocese now made another attempt to perfect its organization, electing Thomas Atkinson of Virginia as its bishop–but he declined. Its leading presbyter, Roosevelt Johnson, waived a like offer. Missouri diocese had similar aspirations and electoral difficulties, which it solved by throwing the onus upon the general convention, entreating it to choose a bishop. In 1843, Cicero Stephens Hawks accepted a call to the rectorate of Christ Church, St. Louis; and the favor with which he was received determined the choice of the convention. On the 2oth of October, 1844, (the day of Cobbs’ consecration), and in Christ Church, Philadelphia, he was consecrated bishop of Missouri by Philander Chase, now presiding bishop, assisted by Kemper, McCoskry, Polk, and DeLancey.

With this event terminated what is in one way the most interesting period of our hero’s life,–the dawn, or morning of his episcopate, with its wide and long vistas, its freshness and promise. Wonderful indeed was the accomplishment of those nine mystic years, especially when we consider that it was before the days of railroads,–that he had to toil painfully in wagons, on horseback or afoot along wretched roads over boundless tracts that the traveler now crosses smoothly, gliding at the rate of a mile a minute in a palace car.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, TEC Bishops

For Jackson Kemper’s Feast Day–Gustaf Unonius’ Summary of [some of] his Work

In the course of time almost all the states and territories which at first had constituted a great missionary district under Bishop Kemper’s oversight became separate dioceses which for a time continued under his care but finally selected their own bishops. In this way, after a period of only a few years, Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin–where, at the time I began my studies at Nashotah, there were only a few scattered churches and mission stations–and finally Minnesota, Nebraska, and Kansas–territories which at that time were hardly known even by name–have now churches and ministers enough to be organized into separate dioceses. In Wisconsin alone there are more than fifty ministers, and an equal number of churches without ministers, belonging to the Episcopal church. All of this, under the grace of God, may be ascribed to the tireless labors if Bishop Kemper and the excellent mission school at Nashotah.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, TEC Bishops, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Jackson Kemper

Lord God, in whose providence Jackson Kemper was chosen first missionary bishop in this land, that by his arduous labor and travel congregations might be established in scattered settlements of the West: Grant that the Church may always be faithful to its mission, and have the vision, courage, and perseverance to make known to all peoples the Good News of Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Bishops

Paul Zahl–How Mary And I Spent Holy Week, 1973

Two days later I was pinned against the wall by the soullessness of Harvard Divinity School. Alone, I attended a sunrise Easter service on the roof of Divinity Hall. Krister Stendahl, who was then Dean, preached and conducted the service. He told us that the only trustworthy Resurrection text in the Bible was St. Mark 16:8c: “… and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.” Let me repeat that: the famous New Testament scholar Krister Stendahl, one of the founders of the “New Perspective on Paul,” told his congregation on Easter morning 1973 that the Resurrection appearances of Jesus are all “untrustworthy” except Mark 16:8c. And that what Christians need to do and be on Easter morning is be afraid. This really happened.

As if to pour salt in the wound, the rector of Our Saviour, Arlington, said something comparable during the main service there later that Easter morning. (Mary was wearing a black-and-white dress and looked stunning.)

The rector said that his Easter sermon was to be his public announcement that he had recently found the meaning of his ministry for the next phase of his rectorship in Arlington. That meaning lay in a popular new form of therapy known as “Transactional Analysis” (i.e., “I’m OK/You’re OK”). The rector was hoping that the congregation would find joy in joining him during the next half of 1973 and also 1974 as together we would enhance our relationships through that system. This really happened.

Even while sitting there, with Mary, I kept thinking of Peggy Lee and her song from 1970 entitled, “Is That All There Is?” I mean, seriously, here were two back-to-back Christian services on Easter Sunday in which “the hungry sheep look up and are not fed” (Lycidas).

Well, that is how Mary and I spent Holy Week 1973. Thumbs up for Piero Paolo Pasolini; thumbs down for Dean Stendahl, Professor Cox, and the rector of Our Saviour.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Eschatology, Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship, TEC Parishes, Theology: Scripture

A Bp William Hobart Hare biography extract–“the Scriptures in their original texts had never been half a day out of his hands.”

In physical aspect Bishop Hare represented clearly, as any picture of him will show, what may be called the best Anglican type. The English churchman of gentle breeding, of native and acquired distinction, has rendered it familiar. Such men are born both to their appearance and to their profession. In the lineage of William Hobart Hare there was quite enough to account both for the outward and for the inward man. On each side of his parentage he was a son, immediately of the Protestant Episcopal Church; and, more remotely he sprang both from the New England Puritans and the Pennsylvania Friends whose beliefs and standards have played so important a part in the religious and political life of America.

His father, the Rev. Dr. George Emlen Hare, an eminent Biblical scholar, one of the American Old Testament Committee appointed under the direction of the Convocation of Canterbury in 1870 for the revision of the authorized version of the English Bible, was for many years a teacher in Philadelphia–first in a temporary professorship at the University of Pennsylvania; then at the head of the old Protestant Episcopal Academy for Boys, revived in 1846 by Bishop Alonzo Potter; and finally as professor of Biblical Learning and Exegesis in the Divinity School in West Philadelphia, of which he was the first dean. “From the period of his ordination,” it is written in a brief sketch of his life, “the Scriptures in their original texts had never been half a day out of his hands.” One sees him in memory, a typical figure of the scholar, formal, remote, known of those who knew him as demanding of himself the same exacting standard of industry and integrity that he demanded of his pupils.

–M.A. DeWolfe Howe, The Life and Labors of Bishop Hare: Apostle to the Sioux (New York: Sturgis and Walton, 1911), chapter one (my emphasis)

Posted in Church History, TEC Bishops, Theology: Scripture

(AI) Andrew Pearson, Dean of the Cathedral of the Advent, steps down over tensions with TEC

With significant sadness, the Vestry of the Cathedral Church of the Advent has accepted the resignation of Andrew Pearson as our Dean and Rector. Andrew has discerned that the ongoing tension he feels serving in the Episcopal Church makes him no longer able to serve as the spiritual leader of the Advent. Although saddened, we are grateful for the significant gifts which he has shared with us for nearly ten years, and remain confident that those gifts will continue to be exercised for our Lord’s kingdom, leading people to Christ. In that sense, we are excited for him and continue to love and support Andrew, Lauren, and their girls, wishing them Godspeed as they move to this next chapter in their lives.

Andrew’s last Sunday as our Dean and Rector will be May 16. He will preach at both services, and also teach the Dean’s Class. We look forward to a reception for Andrew and Lauren that afternoon, after the 11:15 service, in the Rector’s Garden.

Although the Advent has its own tension with the Episcopal Church, we are hopeful that the new leadership of Bishop Glenda Curry has provided an opportunity to build a foundation for a continued and generational peace between the Advent and the Diocese. Accordingly, the Vestry of the Advent appointed a team to talk with Bishop Curry to find a better, amicable path forward while protecting the essential attributes of the Advent. During these discussions, the Bishop has affirmed the Advent’s ability to express its theology and its ability to call, develop, and maintain clergy who are committed to the Advent’s theological expression.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes

Still More Charles Henry Brent for his Feast Day–his 1925 Sermon “the Authority of Christ”

(This sermon was preached at the consecration of the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island–KSH

Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I com­manded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Matthew 28:18-20.

I wish I could hear these words for the first time. Familiar as they are, they thrill me with their exult­ant strength whenever I read them anew. They open up new vistas of hope and happiness, of greatness and immortality, of a world exalted, completed, uni­fied, made Christian wholly and irrevocably. They set their own seal upon their authenticity. Under their spell we move out into life with the joyous sting of certainty goading us on to renewed effort to do the great bidding of winning the nations of the earth to Him.

How hedged in with finality that bidding is! Before the commission comes the charter under which it is issued. He who bids us to the new creative act of making disciples has been given authority over and possession of all things in heaven and on earth.

We are familiar with authority in piecemeal fashion—authority over a nation, an institution, a department. But this is authority over all things seen or unseen. It is the unifying authority for which human life had been waiting. It is final and exercised by Man over man. There is no separation of the religious from the secular in His jurisdiction. It includes in one vast sweep the whole universe—nations and all their contents, the realm of thought ramifying into ten thousand specialisms, the domain of activity running into a myriad vocations, fast slipping time past, present and future, the tiny sphere of the known and the endless stretches of the un­known from Alpha to Omega, from the beginning to the end.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics

(JEC) Michael Snape–‘Anglicanism and interventionism : Bishop Brent, the United States, and the British Empire in the First World War’

Brent himself stands as perhaps the ultimate example of these successful clerical migrants to the United States. Born in Newcastle, Ontario, in April 1862, Brent’s father was an Anglican
clergyman and a first-generation immigrant from England, his mother a descendant of Loyalist refugees from New York.20 Although the infusion of immigrants from Canada was smaller than the stream from Great Britain around the turn of the twentieth century, it was still considerable, as around 450,000 Canadians entered the United States in the quarter century prior to the First World War.21 While Anglicans represented a smaller proportion of the Canadian population, comprising around 15 per cent of all Canadians in 1914 as opposed to two-thirds of all Britons,22 there was already a well-established tradition of Anglican clergymen moving across the porous border between Canada and the United States in search of employment,23 a situation that brought Brent to the State of New York in 1886 while still in deacon’s orders. As Alexander C. Zabriskie emphasised in his concise biography of 1947, Brent’s move to St. Paul’s Church, Buffalo, was entirely pragmatic: with no opportunities available in the diocese of Toronto, ‘it was circumstance rather than conscience or preference that sent [Brent] there. He had not the least intention of remaining permanently under the American flag; rather he looked forward to returning to a Canadian country parish within a few years.’24 In fact, it took a further appointment, as associate rector of St. Stephen’s Mission in the slums of Boston, to persuade Brent to take out his naturalisation papers in 1891, and even then he
appears to have maintained dual citizenship.25 In the event, his years in Boston served to reinforce Brent’s links with Great Britain, for there he developed a formative relationship with the Society of St. John the Evangelist, or Cowley Fathers, a connection that would take him to England on his very first overseas trip in November 1891.26

Read it all (numbers are to footnotes in the original).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Canada, Church History, History, Military / Armed Forces, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops

Charles Henry Brent for his Feast Day–Time Magazine’s Cover Story on him, August 29, 1927

In the past few weeks, the Christians of the world have been holding their first major conference in some 500 years for the specific purpose of seeing what can be done about unifying Christianity as the sum of its world-wide parts.

Preparation. Today the parts (denominations) number 200-odd, all of them organized as distinct entities. The practical necessity of relating so many parts, of discovering identity among so many entities, was established by the Edinburgh Missionary Conference of 1910. The logical necessity was established later the same year, at a convention of the Episcopal Church in Cincinnati. The man who then proposed a world conference on Faith & Order lived to see such a conference actually held, after 17 years of preparation, and to preside over it as chairman, at Lausanne, Switzerland, the past three weeks.

Chairman Brent. This man was Bishop Charles Henry Brent of the Episcopal diocese of Western New York. Canadian-born and educated, naturalized in the U. S., an obscure worker in the awkward robes of the Cowley Fathers among the poor of Boston, later (under Bishop Phillips Brooks) an Episcopal rector who was made a missionary bishop and sent to the Philippines because of his earnest simplicity, rugged strength and adaptability among people of other races, it was Bishop Brent who confirmed General Pershing in the Philippines and subsequently became Chaplain-in-Chief of the A. E. F.

First in war, first in peace, Bishop Brent had had experience in handling international conferences, as president of opium parleys at Shanghai (1909) and The Hague (1911). He declined the bishoprics of Washington, D. C., and New Jersey, to preserve for his world ministry the freedom of action he enjoys at Buffalo, N. Y. When his world ministry reached its peak this month, he was not content merely to preside over the hundreds of churchmen he had brought together, but went with them into their councils; explained, directed, adjusted and dictated daily despatches on their progress to the New York Herald Tribune.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Church History, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Dekoven

Almighty and everlasting God, the source and perfection of all virtues, who didst inspire thy servant James de Koven to do what is right and to preach what is true: Grant that all ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may afford to thy faithful people, by word and example, the knowledge of thy grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer

(JE) Some Albany Clergy in TEC (the Episcopal Church) to Join Anglican Church in North America

number of clergy in the Episcopal Diocese of Albany are preparing to join the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) according to officials with the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word (ADLW).

The announcement made February 21 is in response to clergy requests for canonical residency under ADLW Bishop Julian Dobbs. It would be the first public movement of clergy in New York’s Capital District since the resignation of Bishop William H. Love earlier this winter.

According to officials with the ACNA diocese, the Albany clergy “have formally applied and are being licensed to minister within the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word.” They are to comprise a regional ministry network that will “place a strong emphasis on church planting and ministries in the [Capital] Region and surrounding areas of New York.”

“We are confident that as these men and women boldly proclaim the authentic Gospel of Christ, many souls will be saved, and new disciples will be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ,” the ADLW statement reads. “We ask that you join us in praying for these clergy and the congregations committed to their care.”

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC)

(P O) Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Episcopal Church look for new ways of being church

The third round of dialogue between the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Episcopal Church continued last week. The two denominations have been conducting bilateral dialogue since 2000 in an effort to deepen ties and work together.

In this latest virtual gathering, participants heard from the Rev. Dr. Amy Plantinga Pauw, a theology professor at Louisville Seminary, who led them through a discussion around her book “Church in Ordinary Time: A Wisdom Ecclesiology.” Plantinga Pauw writes about the seasons of the church year and uses wisdom ecclesiology to help the church think about addressing the realities of today’s world.

Dianna Wright, director of ecumenical and interreligious relations with the Office of the General Assembly, says the conversation centered on what it means to be church.

“We have this idea that we’re the ones who have all of what it means to be God wrapped up as the church. But there are so many different entities that are a part of who God is,” said Wright. “The church is only one part of that, and we are supposed to participate with the whole world and share the story of God. We don’t have it all together, but we are continuing to grow and evolve as the church.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presbyterian

TEC News Service Article on the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Fort Worth

Read it all.

Posted in Supreme Court, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(Star-Telegram) Supreme Court ends 12-year Fort Worth legal battle over $100 million in church property

In the Fort Worth case, the Episcopal national church argued that church law — specifically a rule known as the Dennis Canon — dictates church property is held in a trust for the national church, and does not belong to the congregations themselves. In 2018, a Fort Worth Appeals Court agreed and sided with the group that remained loyal to the national church.

However, the Texas Supreme Court reversed the decision in May and ruled that Texas law allows a trust to be revoked, and Texas law supersedes canon law. The opinions also differed because the Texas Supreme Court applied the law as if the church were a corporation.

The Rev. Ryan Reed, the current leader of the Fort Worth diocese belonging to the Anglican Church in North America, wrote in a press release Monday that the decision “marks a turning point for us as a Diocese.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth) U.S. Supreme Court upholds Texas ruling on bishop Ryan Reed led Diocese and Corporation

It is with great joy and thanksgiving to God that we receive news today that the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has let stand the unanimous May 2020 ruling of the Texas Supreme Court (TXSC),which found in favor of the Diocese and diocesan Corporation.

Responding to two Petitions and replies, SCOTUS denied the requests of The Episcopal Church and All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Worth for a review of the May 2020 opinion. That opinion upheld state trust law and statutes governing unincorporated associations, affirming ownership of properties throughout the Diocese is governed by our Constitution and Canons and administered by the diocesan Corporation.

For all practical purposes this ends the appeals process that began in 2015 following the Second Summary Judgement of the trial court in Fort Worth.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, Supreme Court, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Alan Haley–TEC Diocese in Fort Worth loses its Appeal to the US Supreme Court of a Unanimous Texas Supreme Court Ruling Against them

With its denial of certiorari (review) this morning to two of the Episcopal Church in the USA’s (“ECUSA’s”) groups in Fort Worth, Texas, the United States Supreme Court has put to rest the multiple adverse claims made for the last twelve years against the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. All of those various claims, and the stages of their ups and downs, have been chronicled on this blog, which began just before the legal disputes emerged. It is gratifying, therefore, to report that this blog has managed to outlive, along with (retired) Bishop Jack Iker and his faithful flock, the Machiavellian intrigues of the schemers at 815 Second Avenue to hound and intimidate them into surrender of their properties.

Denial of review of the May 2020 decision by the Texas Supreme Court puts finally to rest ECUSA’s dogged attempts to enforce its notorious and one-sided Dennis Canon in Texas. The brazenness of that Canon, which attempted unilaterally to impose (after the fact) an enforceable, perpetual trust everywhere on all the parish properties of its members in ECUSA’s favor, ran directly into long-standing Texas trust law, which requires the consent of a property’s owner to place it into a trust, and which also requires express language to make a trust irrevocable. The Dennis Canon failed the test on both of those grounds.

Nor could ECUSA succeed by giving its successor group the same name as Bishop Iker’s Diocese, and then pretending to assume its identity. The Texas Supreme Court saw through those machinations, and held that the majority controlling the Diocesan corporation, and not ECUSA’s minority faction, were the true successors under Texas corporate law to the group that founded the original Diocese in 1983. In that respect, the Texas courts were far more perspicacious than the feckless courts in California, New York, Pennsylvania and elsewhere who simply allowed ECUSA’s attorneys to pull the wool over their eyes, and pretend that the newest kid on the block was actually the oldest, who (they claimed) had been there the whole time.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Supreme Court, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

((JE) Episcopal Seminaries “Exploring Partnership Options”

Two historic Episcopal Church seminaries announced this week that they “have begun the process of exploring partnership options.”

While the language of the announcement offers no detail, it appears that both New York’s General Theological Seminary (GTS) and Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) of Alexandria, Virginia are now on a trajectory to eventually consolidate.

“Purposefully walking together in as many ways as possible is our goal going forward” wrote the chairs of both boards, Dr. David Charlton (VTS) and Diocese of Atlanta Bishop Robert Wright (GTS).

Episcopal seminaries including Episcopal Divinity School, Bexley Hall Seminary, and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, each announced similar language before “federating” or being subsumed into a larger institution. A fourth seminary, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, was acquired by the endowed parish of Trinity Wall Street in 2019. Each points to an ongoing trend of consolidation among institutions as the Episcopal Church contracts in membership and attendance numbers.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education

(AI) Anglican Diocese of Fort Worth files responses to TEC’s appeal to the US Supreme Court

Today in Washington, D.C., attorneys for the Diocese and Corporation have filed two Briefs in Opposition with the U.S. Supreme Court, responding to Petitions initiated in that Court by the TEC parties and All Saints’ Church (Fort Worth) in October. (The property of All Saints’ Church in Fort Worth was separated by the trial court from the rest of the property suit in 2015.)

The October Petitions asked for a review of the unanimous opinion issued in May of this year by the Texas Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the Diocese and Corporation.

Read it all and follow the links.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, Supreme Court, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(JE) Virginia TEC Diocese Signals Truro Anglican Sale is Possible

Episcopal Diocese of Virginia officials have announced that diocesan leadership initiated “confidential conversations” in late 2019 with representatives of Truro Anglican Church in suburban Washington about the future of the property, with a potential sale possible.

“The discussions have been productive and are expected to continue,” the diocese shared in a December 6 press release on its website. A member of the Truro congregation confirmed to me that the diocesan release “is substantially correct.”

I’ve reached out to Truro’s vestry wardens and will update this blog entry as I receive their responses. Truro staff confirmed that a verbal announcement was read aloud to the congregation during a parish meeting but that no written or public statement was released.

Anglican Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic Canon for Congregation and Clergy Care the Rev. Mary Maggard Hays noted that ongoing negotiations with the Diocese of Virginia are still confidential, but characterized them as “amicable and thoughtful.”

That assessment is similarly held by Episcopalians.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, TEC Departing Parishes

Gafcon Chairman Foley Beach’s November Letter

Bishop Love is a godly and good man. I am so thankful for his faithful stand regarding the office of a diocesan bishop and for keeping to the teaching and moral ethics of the Bible as he has served in the Episcopal Church here in North America. He is a man who has felt the full weight and responsibility of his calling and has sought to humbly follow the Lord’s direction. He has been standing alone against a rising tide of ridicule for his biblical positions, positions which have always been held by the Church.

Many would like to know the response from Gafcon. We are certainly praying for Bishop Bill Love and the many people who find themselves in provinces and dioceses with compromised and failing leadership. To everyone like him in difficult positions, you are not alone as so many around the world contend with you in prayer for the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are grateful for your faith in the midst of opposition and persecution.

A few years ago, I heard Archbishop Deng from the Province of South Sudan describe the growth of the church in his worn-torn nation. He said (paraphrased) they murder our people and the church grows. They raided our villages and the church grows. To those of us listening, his words were so clear to us: the church preaches the gospel (in season or out of it) and God builds His church. We commend these brothers and sisters who prevailed seeing more baptisms and more new churches in a very difficult spot in world history. Their example is a great reminder to the rest of us of the fruitfulness of faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Read it all.

Posted in GAFCON, TEC Conflicts

TEC (The Episcopal Church) appeals the Unanimous Texas Supreme Court Ruling to the US Supreme Court

Read it all and follow the links.

Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Supreme Court, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Bishop William Love resigns as TEC Bishop of Albany

The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and I, the Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany voluntarily entered into an Accord which became effective October 21, 2020, with the unanimous approval of the Disciplinary Board of the House of Bishops. The Accord resolves the matter of my case, thus discharging any further action from the Hearing Panel.

The Accord stipulates the following: I will resign as Bishop Diocesan of the Diocese of Albany, effective February 1, 2021; I will begin a one month terminal sabbatical beginning January 1, 2021; I agree to continue to abide by the January 11, 2019 Restrictions placed upon my ministry by the Presiding Bishop until the effective date of my resignation as Bishop; I will work with the Presiding Bishop through the Office of Pastoral Development to help foster a healthy transition from my leadership as Bishop Diocesan, as the Diocese begins a new chapter in its history; and lastly, I acknowledge that upon February 1, 2021, the effective date of my resignation as Bishop Diocesan, my November 10, 2018, Pastoral Directive regarding B012 will lose force. Until then, however, it remains in effect.

In signing the Accord, the Presiding Bishop has agreed to allow me to notify the clergy and people of the Diocese of Albany of my pending resignation, before he sends out an announcement to the wider community. I am very appreciative of his willingness to agree to that pastoral request.

I met with Fr. Scott Garno, President of the Standing Committee, on Thursday afternoon, to inform him of my decision to resign and of the Accord between myself and the Presiding Bishop. I pledge my full support to Fr. Garno and the Standing Committee as they enter into their new role. I also pledge not to interfere with their deliberations.

Please note, that in accordance with Article IV of the Constitution of The Episcopal Church, the Standing Committee serves as the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese in the absence of the Bishop. In addition, in accordance with the Diocesan Canons, the Standing Committee oversees the election of the new bishop of the Diocese.

The Diocese of Albany is blessed to have an excellent Standing Committee that will serve you well. I ask God’s blessing upon them as they prepare to lead the Diocese of Albany during this period of transition.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(TLC Covenant) Facing Episcopal Church Decline – the Latest Numbers

Average Sunday attendance

Figures for average Sunday attendance (ASA) provide a more objective metric and a more striking message. During the 1990s average Sunday attendance was relatively stable but from around 2000 deep decline set in. This is ongoing. TEC’s average Sunday attendance dropped by over 40 percent between 2000 and 2019. The decline of attendance was most rapid between 2005 and 2010. But recent years have seen a very substantial drop – a fall of 61,000, over 10 percent, in the last four years

Episcopal Church Average Sunday Attendance 2000-19

2000 856,579
2005 787,271
2010 657,831
2015 579,780
2019 518,411

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Posted in TEC Data, TEC Parishes

(SHNS) Terry Mattingly–Remembering Bishop Bill Frey

Episcopal bishops in the 1980s were already used to urgent calls from journalists seeking comments on issues ranging from gay priests to gun control, from female bishops to immigration laws, from gender-free liturgies to abortion rights.

But the pace quickened for Bishop William Frey in 1985 when he was one of four candidates to become presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. A former radio professional, Frey was known for his bass voice and quick one-liners. His Lutheran counterpart in Colorado once told him: “You look like a movie star, sound like God and wear cowboy boots.”

Other Denver religious leaders sometimes asked, with some envy, why Episcopalians got so much ink.

“I can’t understand why some people want the kind of media attention we get,” he told me during one media storm. “That’s like coveting another man’s root canal.”

A Texas native, Frey died in San Antonio on Sunday after years out of the spotlight. In addition to his Colorado tenure, his ministry included missionary work in Central America during the “death squads” era and leading an alternate Episcopal seminary in a struggling Pennsylvania steel town.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Seminary / Theological Education, TEC Bishops

(ENS) 2019 parochial reports show continued decline and a ‘dire’ future for The Episcopal Church

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Posted in TEC Data, TEC Parishes

Bishop William Frey RIP

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, TEC Bishops

(SF) Anne Kennedy on Bishop Love–A Faithful Witness

Let’s just pause, for a moment, and consider the substance of this—and why people like me recoil in abject horror from the cries of some that “a lot of water has gone under the bridge” and that it’s time for us to learn how to “get along” and find what “common ground” we can. Essentially, Bishop Love, in being unwilling to do anything to aid anyone in actively doing what scripture forbids—in this case, blessing the sexual relationships of men with men and women with women, which everywhere in Scripture is contrary to God’s design, which is, as Paul says, an action that will keep you out of the Kingdom of God—is “violating” the discipline of the church. He is doing something that is contrary to what the church teaches.

The church, in this case, has set itself against the revealed will of God, on purpose, after thinking about it for years and years and years, and is going to discipline those who would like to faithfully follow the scriptures and teach and admonish and help others to do so.

A long time ago, when Bishop Love first was elected and decided to stay in TEC, I confess to wondering about the wisdom of his determination. Getting out of the Episcopal Church was one of the best things that ever happened to me. A church I loved, a church where I cut my teeth on the beauty, grace, and majesty of God, a church where the Bible was read so much aloud on Sunday that many other kinds of “bible believing” Christians were often astonished, became a church that derided and mocked those who really believed what was printed there on the page. I didn’t want to leave TEC. I begged God to be able to stay. But when we finally did walk away, which to me felt more like a shove, a great weight was lifted off my shoulders.

Indeed, shortly after realizing that we were not going to be able to remain in the church that we loved, Matt and I took a short day trip to Albany, to their beautiful retreat center, for a special Eucharist. Standing in a room full of others who really believed as they said the creed, who accepted Jesus as he is as they sang, was so strange and moving that I fought back an overpowering urge to cry the whole afternoon. It had been years since I had been in a church service full of people who all believed what they were saying, without their fingers crossed or a lot of explanatory footnotes at the bottom of the page. The decision of Bishop Love to stay and fight on struck me as one that would certainly exhaust and maybe even spiritually destroy him.

But look at the great wisdom of what God has done….

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, TEC Bishops, Theology: Scripture