(Christian Post) Bishop of new TEC in S.C. Diocese Sends Letters to Various Ordained Ministers

The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis of the South Carolina Diocese told The Christian Post that he personally received one of vonRosenberg’s letters and took issue with whom the letters were sent to.

“The Episcopal Church has every right to update its roster of clergy. However, it is disturbing that letters were sent to retired clergy, many of whom have no need or interest to be embroiled in these matters,” said Lewis.

“In fact, my first notice of these letters came through a phone call from a medically disabled, retired member of the clergy, who was concerned about losing his benefits.”

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

17 comments on “(Christian Post) Bishop of new TEC in S.C. Diocese Sends Letters to Various Ordained Ministers

  1. William McKeachie says:

    When I received and read my copy of ‘the letter’ it seemed merely smarmy; Canon Lewis’s report reveals a level of sheer evil, certainly in the letter’s effect if not conscious intent, that makes it harder than ever to understand how some brothers and sisters are still willing to collude with TEC’s leadership by remaining in submission to it.

  2. Blue Cat Man says:

    “In spite of current circumstances, I continue to pray our Lord’s appeal for unity among his followers, and I look forward to the day that such unity within his body may indeed become a reality,” writes Bishop vonRosenberg. Coercion is the way in which unity in the Body of Christ is promoted?

    Also, I agree entirely with Canon Lewis that letters being sent to retired clergy were unnecessary and shameful.

  3. Ralph says:

    For those SC TEC loyalists who would like to taste for themselves the fruit that their provisional bishop bears, a copy of the letter can be seen here:

    “Lesser things,” indeed!

  4. Katherine says:

    Are medical benefits for retired or disabled clergy handled by the Church Pension Fund? If so, why is this bishop demanding a loyalty oath from them? Nice job, Bishop vonRosenberg, frightening a medically disabled retired priest. Christian charity doesn’t start at TEC/SC.

  5. MichaelA says:

    Katherine, it might be more than just frightening. I notice in the comments below the article that one “Bruce Garner” asserts explicitly that this will affect the pensions of priests who do not declare loyalty to TEC.

    Is that true? I don’t know your rules for such things, but I would have thought that a person who contributes to a pension fund continues to have his or her entitlements under it, and that if changes of membership require them to move that they simply roll over the benefits into another fund. But perhaps my assumption is incorrect…?

  6. Katherine says:

    MichaelA, to the best of my knowledge, American law does not allow for discontinuation of pension benefits for someone who is fully vested. The only people really at risk would be recently-ordained priests, whose pension contributions are not vested for five years, I think. Priests leaving TEC with the Diocese will not accrue any further benefits, but with the above exception, they do not lose what they had already accrued. I presume the Diocese has already made a provision for pension contributions into another fund following the split.

  7. cseitz says:

    #5. What will not be possible in future will be making further contributions to a CPG plan one is enrolled in if one is no longer in TEC. This is where the five year issue is at stake, and also ten years, in respect of some medicare matters.

  8. cseitz says:

    “May the blessings of resurrection fill your life….”.

    New, apparently approved episco-speak now requires one to dispense with talk of the Resurrection. An objective and singular reality pertaining to one person–leaving aside questions of historicality, time, nature of the Risen Life of Christ as the NT depicts that and as the Church has confessed it–has morphed into lower-case and generic ‘resurrection.’ It is as though the singular ‘Resurrection’ as an event in the life of one man, manifested for a limited time to others, prior to Ascension and Pentecost, is now some ‘universal experience.’ Not only is Christ robbed of ‘The Resurrection’, the events of Ascension and Pentecost are no longer logically attached to it and specifically relevant to what it means to be the Church (and not a witness to the Resurrection). How is Christ now made known by God the Holy Spirit? Word and Sacrament, through the power of the Holy Spirit? No, by ‘resurrection’ experiences. ‘Do not hold me for I am not yet ascended’ becomes ‘hold me and experience me in some resurrection moment just for you.’

  9. Cennydd13 says:

    I am quite sure that if any disabled clergy were to be denied any of his benefits, that would be in violation of Federal law, and there would be very serious consequences for those involved in denying those benefits. I doubt that this bishop or anyone else connected with TEC would be that stupid…..although I could be wrong.

  10. SC blu cat lady says:

    Hey All, As I understand from clergy friends, The Church Pension Fund is a true defined benefit pension fund based solely on number of years of service. I don’t know the number of years to be truly vested or if that is possible.

    Why is von Rosenberg asking for a loyalty oath from retired clergy? I don’t know- it makes no sense. You would think that the fact they are retired from TEC would be good enough. Also, it should not be difficult to find out which parishes (and most likely which clergy) have decided to stay with the Diocese. Why send letters to so many ??? With a bit of research, it could be figured out just which clergy have stayed with the Diocese and are not currently retired.

  11. Steven says:

    As a Lutheran Pastor (still in the ELCA) I know nothing of the provisions of the Church Pension Fund, but as [i]church[/i] pension fund it is exempt from ERISA, which regulates pensions in the US. So one must be careful about what sorts of protections “the law” actually provides. Ask, for instance, those who were part of the failed pension of Augsburg Fortress, the ELCA’s publishing house, exempt from ERISA standards because AFP is part of the ELCA (which has successfully avoided any sort of legal or moral responsibility to those church employees thanks to AFP’s separate incorporation).

    Now, before anyone raises too many alarums, our Lutheran experience with church break-ups is that church officials are more than happy to to spread misinforation about pensions and health benefits in the face of potential/actual schism. For an entire generation we in the ELCA have been told of the sacrifice of those LCMS pastors who “lost their pensions” when they departed for the AELC (the midwife for the ELCA’s formation) — except as they approached retirement age, those pastors were receiving letters from the Concordia Plans describing the benefits that were coming to them for their service in the LCMS.

    More recently, in 2005 the ELCA Board of Pensions (now “Portico Benefits Services” — don’t get me started), with ELCA Church Council assent, specifically changed its eligibility to include member congregations that left the ELCA after Jan. 1, 2005. Yet in the wake of the 2009 CWA actions, synod officials across the ELCA were raising the spectre of pension/health benefits to frighten clergy and congregations into staying in the ELCA. Of course, the BOP was more than happy to provide truthful information — to those who asked. But who expects an Assistant to the Bishop to flat out lie in a public meeting?

    [url=http://pastorzip.blogspot.com]Pastor Zip’s Blog[/url]

  12. Cennydd13 says:

    I am surprised that clergy pensions aren’t afforded Federal protection under ERISA, so I guess my question is why not?

  13. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Well, it hasn’t taken Herr vonRosencrantz long to show his true colors. Is he going to lie to bend the canons to fit his aim, not to mention disobey the State Court by purporting to act for the diocese?

    What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

  14. Albeit says:

    The CPG states specifically on it’s website that it is “a State of New York Corporation subject to the laws, regulations; . . . along with State and Federal Courts located within the State of New York.” If this is the case, there can be no monkey shines with pensions as the State of New York has a history of being brutal with issues arising in the incorporated pension funds. The terms and conditions for pension fund governance in NYS (the home of Wall Street) are extremely well articulated and subject to highest level of reporting and oversight.

    I would remind everyone that TEC itself is also incorporated in “The Great State of New York.” They would have to be outright foolish to even consider shaking that tree. No, what I suspect we are really seeing here with vonRosencrantz is nothing short of a lab assignment from “Thuggery 101.”

    Now here is where it gets interesting. I would suggest that an appropriate response to TEC-SC’s letter on the part of annoyed clergy might well be “Make My Day,” immediately followed by formal complaints to the New York State Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Comptroller. From my experience, New York State Corporate Law is as secular as you will find anywhere. Scrutiny can be a powerful defensive weapon.

  15. Steven says:

    Why are church pensions not regulated by ERISA? Just a little thing called the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. In 1974 (when ERISA was legislated), Congress still took that seriously…

  16. CSeitz-ACI says:

    A pension plan is not a church.

  17. Steven says:

    I was not offering an opinion as to why Congress specifically exempted church pension plans from ERISA. That [i]was[/i] the stated justification in 1974.

    To the original point, however, I’ll observe that it is a communication of the provisional Bishop, and not the Church Pension Fund, that is causing some clergy (or their parishioners) to be fearful for their pensions. Whether TEC officials are being as deceptive as ELCA officials have been on this particular matter, I do not know. But it is a familiar stench.