An Excerpt from the Bishop of Albany's Communication on the recent House of Bishops meeting

Via email:

I returned home from the spring House of Bishops’ Meeting this past Thursday (March 19th). It was held at Kanuga Conference Center in North Carolina. I am very appreciative to all of you who were holding me and the other bishops up in your prayers. Besides for getting stuck in Atlanta and thinking I was never going to get out, all the travel plans went well. Compared to the previous two House of Bishops’ Meetings, this meeting was much less contentious. Fortunately we were not faced with the deposition of any more bishops. Based on the comments of several of the bishops, I missed the best part of the meeting which occurred on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning before I arrived. Guest speakers Bill Bishop and Walter Brueggemann, gave a presentation entitled “A New Era of Engagement: Gospel Alternatives to Polarization.” Apparently it was very well done and thought provoking. While I am sorry I missed the presentation, I was not going to miss seeing my daughter Catie’s Friday evening performance in the school musical, “Cinderella.” (Catie and all the other kids did an outstanding job.)

Besides for the daily Bible Study and worship services, most of each day was spent in meetings dealing with a variety of topics. One of the main events that occurred was the election of the Bishop of Ecuador Central. Due to some internal diocesan difficulties, the Diocese of Ecuador Central asked the House of Bishops to elect their new bishop. Three nominees chosen by the Diocese were presented. The Rev. Luis Fernando Ruiz, a priest from the Diocese of Columbia, and rector of the Cathedral de San Pablo in Bogota, was elected on the first ballot, receiving 102 of the 117 ballots cast.

The most controversial discussion during the HOB meeting centered on the election of the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester, Bishop-Elect of Northern Michigan. A number of bishops spoke both for and against the consent of Bishop-Elect Forrester. Concern was expressed over the election process itself which resulted in Rev. Forrester being the only nominee; the controversy surrounding his connection with Zen Buddhism; several of his liturgical practices to include his rewriting the Baptismal Covenant and Eucharistic prayers; and his teachings on the Trinity. Bishops with jurisdiction and all Standing Committees of The Episcopal Church will be asked to vote for or against the consent of his election. It is too early to know what the final outcome will be. The consent process can last up to 120 days. I voted NO to his consent.

The Mission Funding Initiative was another topic that generated a great deal of debate and expressed concern by several bishops. The stated intent of the MFI is to provide supplemented support of TEC’s mission efforts which have traditionally been funded by assessment income. Large and substantial gifts will be solicited reportedly to support the following five Funds: The Fund for Congregational Development; Leadership in Ministry; Communications; Spiritual Enrichment; and Global Ministry. An additional use of the funds, not formally listed among the five Funds of the Mission Funding Initiative identified above, but verbally mentioned by one of the presenters was the establishment of a legal fund to support future legal actions taken by TEC. I expressed my grave concern to the House of Bishops over all the ongoing law suits dealing with property disputes within The Episcopal Church. I am very much aware of all the arguments and rationale for the law suits, however, I firmly believe that regardless of who wins in court, ultimately everyone loses. There has to be a better, more pastoral and Christ-like way of dealing with these issues than the current actions being taken. The Lord calls the Church to rise above the ways of the world in dealing with disputes. We need to conduct ourselves in such a way that the love and Good News of Jesus Christ shines forth, building up the Kingdom of God, not tearing it down.

Other topics covered at the House of Bishops’ included a briefing on General Convention structure and orientation as well as some of the items that will be addressed at General Convention. Included in that was a discussion on the proposal to enter into full communion with the Moravian Church; a brief discussion on some of the proposed changes to Title IV dealing with issues of clergy discipline; and a presentation on the proposed mandatory Denominational Health Plan (something I have serious questions about).

One of the final acts of the House of Bishops at its spring meeting was the issuance of A Pastoral Letter from the Bishops of the Episcopal Church. A copy of the letter will follow in a separate email. As always, it is good to be back home in the Diocese of Albany.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

12 comments on “An Excerpt from the Bishop of Albany's Communication on the recent House of Bishops meeting

  1. AnglicanFirst says:

    “One of the main events that occurred was the election of the Bishop of Ecuador Central.”

    Very interesting. ECUSA is supposed to be a ‘national church,’ that part of the Anglican Communion in the geographic area known as the United States of America.

    But, ECUSA seems to be fulfilling an ‘instrument of communion-like’ role in areas that it ‘picks and chooses’ such as Ecuador in South America and in the Philipines. Why is this tolerated by the rest of the Anglican Communion?

    Why aren’t the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Anglican Communion involved?

    Why isn’t the Anglican Consultive Council jumping up and down all over the place to protect its precarious and ‘protected’ authority?

    Can ECUSA can put forth a convincing argument that these foreign churches, they are obviously not geographically part of the USA, are still mission churches in their formative stages?

  2. David Wilson says:

    If I was a orthodox Anglican still in TEC (which I am not) I would be very wary of the notion of a denominational wide health plan. While the $ cost might be attractive it simply adds to the TEC notion of a hierarchical church of which dioceses are subordinate units.

  3. Cennydd says:

    AnglicanFirst, TEC is, for all intents and purposes…..even though they haven’t come right out and said so…..a communion-in-process; in other words, a communion of their own, with hegemony over overseas churches-in-being or in the process of formation. A “national church?” No, not exactly; more like an “international church.” Shrinking domestically, and pretty much static internationally.

  4. lucas1948 says:

    The Episcopal Diocese of Central Ecuador is in fact a diocese of TEC, so the House of Bishops does have jurisdiction there. [url=]This page[/url] on the Anglican Communion website confirms this: Central Ecuador is under the jurisdiction of TEC in Province IX.

    The notion that TEC (or any church of the Anglican Communion) is limited by political boundaries is fiction. There is no other Anglican jurisdiction in Central Ecuador and TEC established a diocese there. This is canonical and well-known in the broader Communion. [url=]The Church of England Diocese of Europe[/url] is one such example. Check the Anglican Cycle of Prayer, there are a few dioceses “extra-provincial” to Canterbury that are outside the UK.

  5. Stuart Smith says:

    It is striking that Bp. Love’s report would appear to indicate that all is status quo and there is no present struggle or strife within the HOB. Does that indicate that he and other orthodox bishops remaining in the HOB have simply given up on the idea of bearing witness to the present evil machinations of the PB toward dioceses and bishops not present at these meetings? This is a irenic report of a diseased body. Does anyone other than me wonder about the absence of the “barking dog” (cf Sherlock Holmes)?

  6. Randy Muller says:

    Compared to the previous two House of Bishops’ Meetings, this meeting was much less contentious. Fortunately we were not faced with the deposition of any more bishops.

    This is not surprising: They deposed the contentious ones. Most of those who are left either appear to be cowed or apparently support the direction of the church.

    The two obvious exceptions are Howe and McPherson. How many others are there?

  7. Jim the Puritan says:

    As another example to #4, the Diocese of Hawaii (then named the Diocese of Honolulu) was originally a diocese of the Church of England. Jurisdiction was transferred from the Church of England to the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States in the early 1900s.

  8. Pb says:

    Bishop Mark Lawrence of SC is orhodox and providing good leadership. His diocese is the fasting growing in TEC. What are the chances of his being asked to speak before the HOB and to share the reasons for this growth?

  9. Anastasios says:

    AnglicanFirst: You may be confusing intra-Communion human rights concerns with official oversight: TEC has nothing to say about episcopal elections in the independent province of the Philippines.

  10. AnglicanFirst says:

    Reply to #(.

    You are correct about the Philipines, but ECUSA’s ECUSA’s ‘money’ may be seen by some to have a controlling influence akin to the hierarchial episcopal authority exerted when the “church” within a foreign country exists as a diocese of ECUSA.

    However, if an ECUSAn diocese in a foreign country has reached a stage where that diocese can become a national church, why does that diocese remain under the authority of ECUSA?

    My reference to the internet shows that ECUSA has dioceses in seven foreign countries. Why? Are they still relegated to a subordinate mission status? By the way, I am not counting the peculiar situation in Europe.

    These seven dioceses include: Colombia, The Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Taiwan and Venezuela.

  11. libraryjim says:


    Sounds like Border Crossing(TM) to me.

  12. Bob G+ says:

    #10 – Those dioceses in foreign lands (Province IX, for example) remain under the authority of the Episcopal Church because that is their decision, and a decision made primarily because they cannot financially afford to be independent at this point in time.

    libraryjim (#11) – It isn’t boarder crossing because there are no other Anglican Communion jurisdictions in those lands. In Europe, the Church of England and the Episcopal Church work together to cover that territory where other national Anglican Churches do not exist.

    Just a bit more trivia from Wikipedia concerning the Anglican Church of Central America: “Four of the five dioceses of the Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central America were founded by the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Anglicanism was also introduced by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel when England administered two colonies in Central America, British Honduras and Miskitia. In later years, immigrants brought the Anglican Church with them… Today, there are over 24,800 Anglicans out of an estimated population of 30.1 million.”