Chuck Collins Writes His Parish

Dear Christ Church family,

I am writing to inform you about an important matter. The upcoming House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans (September 19- 25) is one of the most important meetings in the history of the Episcopal Church. Weighing in the balance is whether the Episcopal Church will walk with the Anglican Communion or choose to walk away from our Anglican heritage. It’s perhaps the last opportunity for the Episcopal Church to choose “communion” over “independence.” No one expects overnight changes from this meeting, but the House of Bishops actions (or failure to act) will determine the future of the Episcopal Church.

Nineteen “Windsor Bishops,” of whom Bishop Lillibridge is an active member, met a few weeks ago. I have high hopes that their presence at the House of Bishops meeting will be known and recognized, if for nothing else as a minority group of bishops (there are about 120 diocesan bishops in all) who are committed to be constituent members f the Anglican Communion by agreeing to follow the directives of the Windsor Report and the Tanzania Communiqué. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will interrupt his sabbatical to meet with the bishops gathered in New Orleans for the first part of their time, along with the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and representatives of the Anglican Consultative Council.

There is still much that isn’t clear. For example, it’s not clear if moderate uncommitted bishops will join the nineteen in support of traditional values. It’s not clear if the meeting with the Archbishop will impact the invitations to attend Lambeth 2008 (if at all). If it doesn’t impact the invitations as they stand, a number of Global South Primates have already said they will not be attending. It’s unclear how Canterbury will lead: with his personal sympathies, or with the will of the wider Communion that overwhelmingly upholds what the Bible teaches about marriage and sex? And it’s not clear what kind of solution will be offered by the Primates for oversight of churches and dioceses for whom it would be a violation of conscience to continue as Episcopalians.

Even though there are many unknowns, there are some things that are clear at this point. First, there is no indication that Episcopal Church leaders (House of Bishops and our Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori) will change their direction back to traditional and biblical values. And they seem largely unfazed by the possibility of severing our tie to the Anglican Communion. This was evident by their rejection of portions of the Primate’s Communiqué at the last House of Bishops meeting. Secondly, Bishop Lillibridge has repeatedly told the diocese that he will continue to uphold the values and principles of the Windsor Report that uphold traditional Christianity. We have a bishop who courageously stands against the tide for the things that are most important to us and to the people of the Diocese of West Texas. Thirdly, it seems that the different groups and personalities that make up the conservative wing of the Episcopal Church will argue and bicker among themselves, not understanding that different churches have had to respond differently because of different circumstances. And lastly, for the traditional-minded churches and dioceses who feel that they have been pushed off the back of the boat, the Primates will not leave us to drown but will provide some means for us to connect to the Anglican Communion. It’s clear that one of the results of the realignment will be to rethink the way we do dioceses and provinces.

Even though this is an unprecedented time in the life of the Episcopal Church, I couldn’t be prouder of our vestry and people who have stood strong for our core values and for the historic Christian faith. Because we have been principally rather than politically led, we’ve had a clear path to follow. It has demanded more from our vestry and staff in terms of prayer, study and surrender. We love the institutional church in which many of us have come to know Christ and have called home for many years, but we have an even greater commitment to the doctrinal foundations that have always defined what the church believes. Unity that is institutional and not doctrinal is not unity at all (John 17:17).

Bishops Lillibridge and Reed continue to be strong supporters of the Windsor Report and the recommendations therein. I have asked for a Service of Prayer for the Episcopal Church and the House of Bishops. I hope everyone will come. We will celebrate Holy Communion and pray for our bishops on the day their meeting starts in New Orleans. Our vestry members have agreed to each take a day during the House of Bishops meeting to concentrate their prayers for Bishop Lillibridge and Bishop Reed. Please join us in pleading to God for the Episcopal Church.

ALMIGHTY God, giver of all good things, who by thy Holy Spirit hast appointed divers Orders of Ministers in thy Church; Mercifully behold this thy servant, now called to the Work and Ministry of a Bishop; and so replenish him with the truth of thy Doctrine, and adorn him with innocency of life, that, both by word and deed, he may faithfully serve thee in this Office, to the glory of thy Name, and the edifying and well-governing of thy Church; through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen. (1928 Prayer Book)

With gratitude for God’s mercy,

–The Rev. Chuck Collins is rector, Christ Church, San Antonio, Texas

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

15 comments on “Chuck Collins Writes His Parish

  1. Philip Snyder says:

    I just realized that I will be serving on a Cursillo team from Sept 20-23 and my 20th wedding anniversary is Sept 25. Thus, I will be out of the thick of things during the HOB meeting.

    In addition to the HOB meeting, would you all please pray for Cursillo #266 in the dioceses of Dallas and Ft. Worth? This will be my first Cursillo as a Spiritual Advisor and I am a bit nervous that I don’t ‘flub’ it.

    Phil Snyder

  2. midwestnorwegian says:

    The dio of South Dakota just sent out their newsletter this week. Not ONE word about the HOB meeting coming at the end of the month. Not ONE.

  3. Virgil in Tacoma says:

    If TEC rejects the Primates’ demands, the following document would probably kick in. It makes for interesting reading.

  4. Nikolaus says:

    I wish I could expect this kind of communication and leadership from my Rector & vestry. Sadly, they are solidly in the camp of those who just wish this would all go away.

  5. Reason and Revelation says:

    Midwest, that’s nothing. On the front page of the Diocese of East Carolina, the sole reference to any post-2003 discussions and reports is the infamous and discredited Report of the Communion Sub-Group. The only other thing on the whole website is that long, convoluted and vague group study on the Windsor Report that TEC put out. Talk about a Diocese that has no idea what is going on. I’d be surprised if 10% of the congregants even knew what the Anglican Communion is.

  6. Pb says:

    The Diocese of Ga. makes no mention of the meeting of bishops although they note that a California church lost its property.

  7. The_Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    “The upcoming House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans (September 19- 25) is one of the most important meetings in the history of the Episcopal Church.”

    Everything’s a crisis these days.

  8. Br. Michael says:

    Philip, I will pray for your sucessful Cursillo. You’ll do ok. You are where the rubber truly meets, the road. The HOB is in God’s hands.

  9. Doubting Thomas says:

    Rev. Collins has been very vocal in his opposition to the actions of TEC since GC ’03. He ‘s the rector of the largest (by far) resource parish in his diocese. It is also extremely orthodox but not to the point of “leaving”. To many parishioners with too much invested financially and emotional in the beautiful ediface. His bishop, Gary Lillibridge and suffragan, David Reed, are both theologically moderate to orthodox . B. Lillibridge has taken a significant leadership role among the “Windsor bishops” . It appears that once the inevitable occurs on 9/30, he will take the position that his diocese will have to stand alone for a season, neither leaving or siding with the decision of TEC to walk apart. He and the laity in the diocese would probably seek to be a part of whatever vehicle the AC may provide for those dioceses and parishes which wish to remain full, constituent members of the AC, if any. B. Lillibridge and Rev. Collins seem to have made great attempts to keep their lines of communication open and transparent.

  10. Summersnow says:

    Ultreya, Phil. You will be in our thoughts and prayers.

    sj engelhardt

  11. seitz says:

    Good statement.

  12. Abu Daoud says:

    Thank you doubting Thomas for the good comments. But have you taken a look at the next largest parish in the diocese? Saint Mark’s in downtown San Antonio? It is pretty liberal as far as I know and with many other parishes will NOT want to be separated from TEC in any way shape or form. I think in the entire diocese there are only two parishes that belong to the Network (feel free to correct me anyone), which is not a resounding denunciation of TEC’s policies.

    So while the bishops are moderate-orthodox, I don’t think the diocese as a whole is anything more than, at best, lukewarm. And that means not willing to get into legal arguments about properties and things like that. That’s my guess.

    Hopefully if churches like Christ Church want to leave they will have some kind of amicable separation like the other Christ Churches (Plano, Overland).

  13. LayJim says:

    Ultreya Phil!

    You will not “flub” it because the weekend belongs to God and you are called to be there! The ‘3 Days” is what we should be like – can be like – will be like – if we are true to our call. Wouldn’t be amazing and powerful if the whole Church took off their watches, left the profane back at home, and spent 3 days on Holy Ground. I can’t help but believe that many of our divisions and wounds would be healed. I pray for 266 – team and candidates.


  14. Sherri says:

    Philip – prayers for your cursillo – and best wishes on your anniversary!

  15. Doubting Thomas says:

    #14- if you’re still following this, yes, I’m very familiar w/ St. Mark’s. 3 of the most liberal clergy in the diocese and we all know the effect of the clergy on any given parish. Only statement I disagree with is your characterization of the laity in the diocese as “lukewarm” on TEC issues. As in many dioceses, many lay feel the TEC issues don’t really effect them and they choose to ignor them. However, if the bishops were to suddenly turn to promoting the reappraiser agenda, this diocese would develope the same types of turmoil being experienced elsewhere IMHO.