A Letter to the TEC Bishops from Bishop David McCall, Diocese of Bunbury, Australia

To the Bishops of The Episcopal Church

My dear sisters and brothers,

Forgive me writing a general letter. I assure you of my prayers for God’s rich blessing on your meeting with Archbishop Rowan at the end of this month. I had thought about writing for some time, but dismissed the idea. What could a bishop the other side of the world say that would be helpful? When one of my clergy came to me distressed about the state of the Communion, I decided to write.

I write as one who loves the Anglican Communion and who was deeply impressed by the vitality and life of The Episcopal Church when I spent two weeks in the USA after the last Lambeth Conference. I have also had the joy of getting to know a number of you through the last two Lambeth Conferences. The breadth of learning, the beauty of worship, the social outreach programs and your generosity are all marks of a Church which gives a great deal to the Communion.

The events of recent years, which have led to tensions and division (including the establishment of rival jurisdictions supported by some bishops in other parts of the Communion) have filled many of us with deep distress and anguish.

I know that these things have caused much pain in The Episcopal Church and that you must be dismayed at the possibility of any further fracture of our Communion. It seems no matter what you decide as bishops, there will be pain and grief in your Church and in the wider Communion.

Whether there is anything that can help mend the net I do not know, yet I pray from the depth of my anguish that you will be able to take steps, painful as they may be, which will go some way towards ameliorating the situation we are now in.

At a personal level I am committed to the process of listening to those who have different perspectives about human sexuality. The last Lambeth calls us all to this commitment. People of homosexual orientation make an enormous contribution to the Church. We are bound to find a place for them and to thank God for them. It grieves me that we cannot listen to one another and respect our different interpretations of the sacred Scriptures.

It is also true that the Lambeth Conference and the Communion generally take a conservative view on the matter of human sexuality. My prayer and my appeal to you, my sisters and brothers, is that you will reconsider your decision earlier this year not to accept the recommendation of the Primates about making provision for those Episcopalians who currently feel alienated, and about consecrations in the future. It seems to me we are bound to do all in our power to assist those who are alienated, even if some of their actions have made charity very difficult.

If the recommendation of the Primates is implemented, there can be no place for the kind of action that we have seen recently with the consecration of bishops for the USA by bishops of other provinces. It grieves me and astounds me that such action was taken before the visit of Archbishop Rowan and without regard for any possible decision you might make.

Were you to accept the recommendation of the Primates, there would be no justification for setting up or continuing rival jurisdictions. It would also remove the grounds for any suggestion that The Episcopal Church should not be included fully in our Communion. We need you, just as we need the other member Churches. To see the Communion break apart would be to demonstrate that Anglicanism is not able to offer a broken and divided humanity the kind of unity and charity our world needs more than anything else.

It is my intention to send this letter to a number of other bishops in the Communion. Love and unity is a two-way matter. If The Episcopal Church takes such a step, then the whole Communion is called to respond appropriately.

Be assured of my love for you and my continuing prayers,

Your brother in Christ,

(The Rt. Rev.) David McCall, Bishop of Bunbury, Australia


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

19 comments on “A Letter to the TEC Bishops from Bishop David McCall, Diocese of Bunbury, Australia

  1. robroy says:

    [blockquote]If the recommendation of the Primates is implemented, there can be no place for the kind of action that we have seen recently with the consecration of bishops for the USA by bishops of other provinces. It grieves me and astounds me that such action was taken before the visit of Archbishop Rowan and without regard for any possible decision you might make.[/blockquote]
    1) Actually, the consecrations were in direct response to the very definitive decisions made at the spring HoB and the summer executive committee meetings.
    2) And how about the [i]astounding[/i] nomination of a practicing lesbian “taken before the visit of Archbishop Rowan”?

  2. Bob from Boone says:

    It is nice to have this voice of reason from another province. What a relief from the fulminations that have been directed toward us from Africa.

  3. AnglicanFirst says:

    “Were you to accept the recommendation of the Primates, there would be no justification for setting up or continuing rival jurisdictions.”

    Uhh, yes there would. If the revisionists were to accept the “recommendation of the Primates” without a true change of heart, then they would continue their slow campaign to ‘have things their way.’

    Remember the axiom, “Two steps forward, one step back?”

    What is needed from ECUSA’s leadership is a frank statement that they will accept “the Faith once given” and very open campaign to assure all Espicopalians that they have done so.

  4. Connecticutian says:

    Bob, he isn’t really saying anything different from what the GS have said. They were quite intentional in saying that they would cease “boundary crossings” when the orthodox were protected. The decision continues to be TEC’s, as do the consequences.

  5. Phil says:

    I’ll dissent slightly from my friends robroy and AnglicanFirst. By the DES recommendations of the Primates themselves, “there can be no place for the kind of action that we have seen recently with the consecration of bishops for the USA by bishops of other provinces.”

    My point here is only to say that it’s always been in ECUSA’s power to severely blunt the actions of its opponents, simply by doing what it’s been asked. But, no: nothing can be permitted to top the libertine agenda. No faith, no institution, no group of people will be permitted to block ECUSA from capitulating to the world.

  6. anglicanhopeful says:

    It’s a typical bishop’s response that the most heinous thing a church can do is boundary-cross. It hits where it hurts – the pocketbook. Look, the most heinous thing a bishop can do is fail to protect the flock from heresy. Boundary crossings are an outgrowth of that failure. Stop that, and you’ll stop the boundary-crossings.

  7. Zoot says:

    all of this because of 1931 Integrity members…

  8. Connecticutian says:

    Zoot, minor correction: it’s actually an unknown SUBset of the 1931, since they’re not all GLBT, and not all of those who are GLBT necessarily are waiting to become a bishop or have their unions blessed by the Church. 😉

  9. Kevin Montgomery says:

    Ooh, protecting the “orthodox.” You know, this whole playing-the-victim bit is getting a little tiring. Time and again, we’ve offered reasonable proposals for pastoral oversight, only to have them shot down. The bishops this spring didn’t reject the request of the Primates regarding oversight so much as say that it [b]simply isn’t possible[/b] given our constitution and canons. There is a perfectly reasonable (and extremely generous) offer of a Primatial Vicar on the table. It seems almost that no matter what we do, it won’t be enough. Given that, is it any surprise that some of us are starting to take the attitude that it might be best to shake the dust of our feet, stop appeasing those who’ve already decided they want to leave, and get back to the work of the Gospel? We’ll leave the light on, though, just in case.

  10. Phil says:

    Kevin #9: Let’s get one thing straight: what the Primates asked for is possible. Absolutely, without qualification, possible. Since ECUSA’s internal rules are made for man, not man for the rules, anything is possible if there’s a desire to do it. Case in point? Open communion, which is “not possible,” but, if you look casually, is being practiced by most of the clergy on your side (and it’s hard to argue with it, frankly; it fits your hyper-Protestant ethos perfectly).

    What’s more, you sound a lot like the Department of Motor Vehicles employee whining about how you’ve done sooo much so people don’t have to wait in line, and they’re only waiting for an hour now, instead of ninety minutes, and how much more do I have to do to get these damn taxpayers off my back?

    Guess what: quality is defined by the customer – in this case, us. If we don’t like your oversight proposal, it’s not good enough. But, if you don’t agree, I’ll make you a deal: I’ll take the Primatial Vicar proposal of your design, and you accept the disciplinary structure I design for gay Episcopalians and Episcopalians that can’t say the Creeds with a straight face, whether they like what I put together or not. Fair?

    Turn your light off and save your money.

  11. Kevin Montgomery says:

    Frankly, I don’t think [b]ANYTHING[/b] we could do would be good enough you people. We could repent, grovel, dress in sackcloth and ashes, and prostrate ourselves before Grand High Poomba Peter Akinola to kiss his feet, and it still wouldn’t be enough. We’ve been trying to work with you on this, but our patience is just about up. We can’t just change the constitution and canons on a whim. [b]It doesn’t work that way.[/b] Now if you want a more centralized “lord bishop” system, then you could do that. (You seem to be headed in that direction. Just don’t come crying back when buyer’s remorse sets in.) One person with all the power certainly makes things run on time. Even the trains in Italy ran on time in such a system earlier in the last century.

  12. Kevin Montgomery says:

    Oh, btw, #10, as for your idea of “discipline,” I think I’ll pass. I’ve experienced a few of those millstones put around my neck and the necks of others, and I’ve seen the results. I think Jesus said something about those who attach such millstones, but of course I could be wrong. I’m only a wretched, objectively disordered homosexual.

  13. Phil says:

    Kevin, there was a meeting in NYC at which you were told what “we” wanted.

    Can’t answer for open communion? How about the Philadelphia “ordinations?” It does work that way.

    Look, you want a “unitarian” system in which everybody can believe something, or nothing, then go ahead and continue doing it. You’re definitely heading in that direction, and, for the handful of reappraisers that take the Christian Faith seriously as a revelation of God Himself, you will definitely have buyer’s remorse at having roped yourself to those that feel otherwise, simply to achieve guilt-free libertinism. And you are welcome to come crying back to the Church when that happens in its fullness (which won’t take thirty years this time).

    Yes, deconstructing Scripture and Tradition lets people run their sexual freedom trains where they will, but guess what? The same arguments apply to those that don’t want the train going to the “Jesus, Son of God” station or the “Life-giving Cross” station. Have fun reaping what you’ve sown.

  14. Phil says:

    #12, thought so. So don’t tell me the PV plan you put together meets my needs, either.

  15. Kevin Montgomery says:

    Open communion? Ok, first, nice way of diverting attention. I’m surprised you didn’t trot out the old boogeyman from Newark. Second, I actually happen to be a firm believer in communion after baptism, as are quite a number of others in the “reappraiser” camp. And who the heck mentioned anything about “unitarian”? Why do you keep bringing that tired thing up? No one is advocating “anything goes.” The vast majority of us are firm Trinitarians and can say the Creeds without crossing our fingers. We might debate what all of that means exactly, but Christians have been doing that since the beginning.

    As for #14, what exactly are your needs, other than our total capitulation (or perhaps elimination)? If they can’t be met in the Episcopal Church, if you think it is so toxic here for you, then no one is forcing you to stay. We tried to come partway across the bridge; you have to make some effort too.

  16. Phil says:

    Kevin, I don’t think open communion is a diversion at all. It’s a widely practiced violation of ECUSA’s canons. And who cares about it? It’s hardly a topic of conversation. If some people feel the need to do it, so what? seems to be the attitude. Therefore, it’s apparent that, yes, ECUSA is willing to do things that violate the letter of the canons with barely a second thought. Why not here?

    On what the orthodox want, let’s take the hardest-line example, the Diocese of Fort Worth. Bishop Iker’s asked for primatial oversight that is not accountable in any way to Mrs. Schori. So why not do it? We’ve already seen that the canons don’t necessarily matter to on-the-ground practice. And, we’re always being told the dissidents are a bare handful of parishes. So why not accomodate them? If this trifling, insignificant group of parishes exists outside of much of the canonical authority of ECUSA, what difference does it make – especially if it silences the argument over alternate oversight? Have you not considered that if you give the orthodox what they actually ask for, instead of the current policy of legal hardball, then the moral authority gets dropped completely in ECUSA’s lap, and the conservatives lose their talking points? Isn’t that worth peace?

    On “anything goes,” yes, some people are advocating just that, and you, as someone who can say the Creeds without crossing your fingers, can’t do a thing about it. Your own arguments are equally capable of dismantling creedal doctrine as moral teaching.

  17. Philip Snyder says:

    Kevin (#15)
    This is a different “Phil” here, but what I sense many of the “conservatives” want is a way that they can be in communion with a bishop that believes what they believe on essentials – such as the Trinity, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, the sufficiency of Holy Scripture, the traditional understand of morality – especially sexual morality. In many congregations there are men and women who cannot get throught the ordination Process in liberal dioceses. They are stopped by commissions on ministry or standing committees. I know of one person who was told to move to another diocese because there was no way he was being ordained in his resident diocese. Congregations also want the ability to select clergy that are compatible with them – conservative congregations want to select conservative clergy and all too often the “deployment officer” or bishop of a diocese interefers with the call or won’t allow a conservative priest to come into his/her diocese.

    The problem that most of the PV or DEPO proposals have had is that it puts the choice of the “new” bishop and the service of the new bishop entirely at the discretion of the “liberal” bishop – who the congregation or diocese finds objectionable to begin with. Don’t you see the problem? If the situation has deterioated so much that the people don’t trust the Ordinary, then what make you think they will trust the selection of the Ordinary – especially if they have to jump through hoops to get the Ordinary to select the new person. Most of the DEPO processes I am aware of forces the rector of the parish has to make a career limiting move (e.g. saying to the bishop, “I don’t think you are faithful to the teaching of the Church that you promised to guard.”). Why not allow a congregation to simply declare itself out of communion (by a sufficient vote of the congregation) with its bishop in favor of another ECUSA bishop? That would solve the problem of DEPO. As for a PV, the problem is a bit more complex. Again, why not impliment the Primates’ suggestion. Where the Presiding Bishop wants to make things happen, they can happen. There is nothing against her delegating any of her limited authority in the canons. There is nothing against her reporting to a council to oversee the treatment of the orthodox in her care. What the conservatives are afraid of is a limited program with no accountability.

    Phil Snyder

  18. dwstroudmd+ says:

    As Archbishop Williams has written: “peaceful co-existence in an
    undemanding pluralism is an inadequate response when the
    matters at issue seem to relate to basic questions about how the
    gospel can be heard in the struggles of contemporary social
    existence. There is a case for protest, even for “confessional”
    separation over some issues.” Oxford Christian Theology, 2000

    Perchance he really believes that. In which case, he must acknowledge the need for two Provinces. Which one he would choose to be in personally…….? officially……? That is the question to which answer will be given by response to the ECUSA/TEC HOB decisions.

  19. Kevin Montgomery says:

    Phil (Snyder, this time),
    Thank you for your reply. You make some good points, and I definitely need to do a better job of putting myself in another’s shoes.
    I actually agree that it’s wrong to deny something a chance to make it through the process simply because he (or even she) does not fit the prevailing theological stance of the diocese. I know of quite a few spiritual refugees, on both sides, who’ve had to flee to another diocese for even a fair chance.

    As for pastoral oversight, there have been several instances where it has worked successfully. There have even been times where the bishop has basically said, “Okay, we can do this. We still need to maintain some connection. I’m required to visit at least once in a 3-year period, and I won’t do more than that. It doesn’t even have to be at a Sunday Eucharist. In addition, you pick the bishop you want to oversee you.” Then it was rejected totally. While I’m not fundamentalist about geographic dioceses, they’re still the way this church is set up and have a lot to be said for them. Are we instead to have episcopal oversight based on ideology? “We don’t like you anymore, bishop; we’re going with this other one. . . . Oh, we don’t like the new one; so we’re going over there.” How does that help the situation?