A Pastoral Letter to be Read in All Churches in the Diocese of San Joaquin Tomorrow

Read it carefully and read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

7 comments on “A Pastoral Letter to be Read in All Churches in the Diocese of San Joaquin Tomorrow

  1. Abu Daoud says:

    A balanced and clear document. God bless this diocese as they move forward. I think ++Venables has shown a degree if sensibility that the CANA folks have not. I am still amazed that anyone would think it is reasonable to ordain eight bishops for like 60 parishes–if it is even that much.

  2. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Perhaps, Abu Daoud, but consider these two facts. CANA is positioning itself for rapid growth. Moreover, it’s well-known that many of the 50 or so U.S. parishes now under the oversight of the Bishop of Bolivia, the brave and godly Frank Lyons (and thus now part of the Southern Cone), are or were planning on shifting to CANA. Bp. Lyons has told me personally that he is eager to pass off all those American congregations as they are simply too much for him to handle, in addition to his duties in building up the Bolivian church.

    I don’t know how recent events may influence that expected move from Southern Cone to Nigeria/CANA, but if those 50 some churches do in fact transfer to CANA, then CANA would be roughly the same size as AMiA, with well over 100 churches. But it’s the fact that they are scattered all over the country that will make providing adequate episcopal oversight very challenging, even if CANA does get those four new bishops in December.

    David Handy+
    temporarily serving an AMiA church in Newport News, VA
    otherwise worshipping at Eternity Anglican in Richmond (Uganda)

  3. Abu Daoud says:

    Than you +David.

    I do like the model used in AMiA and which used to be used in TEC as well, which was that a bishop ran a parish. It seems like if you run a parish it’s harder to became enamoured with the trappings of “radical” political action and inter-religious conferences ad infinitum and other fine episcopal ways of wasting time and money.

    We indeed shall see what happens with the Bolivian parishes. Thank you for the insight. I still wonder if they (CANA) are jumping the gun here.

  4. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Wow, it seems that Abu has promoted me to being a bishop. But that is a thankless job today, and one I do not want.

    For all those readers (especially laypeople) unaware of the fine points of clergy nomenclature, when a + comes before a person’s name, it indicates that he is a bishop. When the + comes after the name, it shows him or her to be a priest.

    But teasing aside, your point is a serious and important one. The early patristic model, when the classic three-fold ordering of ordained ministry arose in the second century and thereafter, involved much smaller dioceses than we know today (see Ignatius of Antioch already in the first decade of the second century, about A.D. 107). Even in the late 4th century, some bishoprics were very small (witness one of my favorite figures, Gregory Nazianzen, who later became Patriarch of Constantinople and presided over the second Ecumenical Council in A.D. 381, but who started out as the lowly bishop of a small town of no account, i.e., Nazianzus).

    As the 4th side/point of the famous Lambeth Quadrilateral indicates, the so-called “Historic Episcopate” has indeed been “locally adapted” to quite varying cultural and political circumstances over the centuries. But from my viewpoint, the really striking thing about the way bishops function in AMiA is that their dioceses are not geographically based, but rather form networks created along the lines of personal/religious affinity. That is truly a very creative and significant innovation. I hope the “realignment” now underway will keep that valuable experiment in mind as things continue to evolve. Personally, I think it has great potential value.
    David Handy+

  5. Ross says:

    The New Zealand church has an interesting structure of multiple “strands,” I think they’re called, co-existing within the same area. I’ve seen this suggested as a possible model for resolving the Current Unpleasantness, although I can’t remember where the suggestion came from.

    But I find the idea of dioceses formed on “networks created along the lines of personal/religious affinity” (as #4 puts it) a little troubling, because it means you end up in church only with people who agree with you. Carried to its logical conclusion, you find yourself a member of a “diocese” that spans the globe but includes only those people who subscribe to an extremely narrow sliver of some particular variation of Christian doctrine; and within the cozy cocoon of this “diocese” you’ll never encounter a new idea or be exposed to any variation of practice. The internet has been both a boon and a bane in helping people form such like-minded cloisters of all kinds of communities, both secular and religous.

    By contrast, the geographically-based parish model — which we have only in vestigial form — had the virtue that it forced you to be church with whoever happened to live in the bounds of your parish, whether you liked them or agreed with them or not. It was probably less comfortable, but it forced people to re-examine their conclusions at least every once in a while.

    These days, people will drive a long ways to go to a distant church that appeals to them rather than a nearby church that isn’t to their taste… but we still have geographically-based dioceses, and that’s something. We still have to get together periodically and meet the people in our diocese who disagree profoundly with us, and somehow make shift to get our mission done regardless.

    Some kind of schism in the Anglican Communion seems all but inevitable at this point, and I think that’s sad although there will doubtless be a certain sense of relief on both sides once it’s a done deal and the legal dust has settled however it comes out. But I would be concerned if either or both sides coming out of that schism made a move — such as “affinity dioceses” — that would make even further division that much easier.

  6. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Ross (#5), I understand and even share your concern. I wasn’t proposing that the AMiA model should be universally followed. I merely meant to suggest that this radical experiment has merit and deserves further exploration. Doubtless it will be modified, even within AMiA, as the number of churches involved grows. A geographically scattered, sparsely populated “affinity-based diocese”
    would simply be impractical, even with all the wonders of modern technology. There is simply no substitute for personal, face-to-face group interaction.

    Your choice of the overlapping jurisdictions in New Zealand, however, is helpful. I’m no expert on the Kiwi’s system, but my understanding is that the Anglo’s and the Maori’s have their own bishops and networks/dioceses. In this case, the affinity is ethnic. But that, of course, is always a bit dubious in light of biblical principles like Eph. 2, where the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile is broken down in Christ. And the Book of James (among others) fiercely protests dividing the church along economic affinity lines, the rich versus the poor. Then there’s always the churchmanship issue: the famous “high and crazy” versus the “low and lazy” and both opposed to the “broad and hazy.”

    Nevertheless, such overlapping jurisdictions have sometimes proven necessary. Another example, drawn from the much richer diversity of the Roman Catholic Church worldwide, is the quite radical differences between the so-called “Uniate” or Eastern-rite Churches that follow Eastern Orthodox models of liturgy, spirituality, and so on, including the right for lower clergy to marry, while still submitting to the papal allegiance. The millions of Ukrainian Catholics are the prime example, along with the smaller groups, the Lebanese Maronites, the “Ruthenians” of the Carpathian mountains etc. In these cases, the differences between the western and eastern rite Catholics are very profound and deep, and while in large part rooted in ethnic and cultural differences, there are also theological matters of “churchmanship,” that make our high/low/broad differences pale in comparison. But in the end, the system works, because there is a strong central authority that binds them all together…

  7. Sherri says:

    Ross, I also would not like to see the kind of splintering you fear. I’ve noticed that among reasserters there still remains a breadth of view, but … there are lots of worry possibilities we will all face ahead.