Rio Grande Episcopal diocese sees ”˜change of identity'

At the time of her 2008 visit to Albuquerque, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

headed a congregation torn, both in New Mexico and nationally, over the role of gays and lesbians in the church.

The Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande was preparing to select a new bishop to replace former Bishop Jeffrey N. Steenson, who resigned in 2007 to join the Roman Catholic Church over the issue.

Several New Mexico congregations had split from the diocese and others were discussing similar moves….

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Rio Grande, Theology, Theology: Scripture

10 comments on “Rio Grande Episcopal diocese sees ”˜change of identity'

  1. Undergroundpewster says:

    All is well. ASA has dropped like a stone, but this is merely a change of identity. It used to be called a schism.

  2. Bill Cavanaugh says:

    When I read this article and they said that “since 2008 they have grown from 18000 to 21000, I thought good for them. But when you dig a little, the Episcopal Charts tell a very different story–from 2005 to 2013, ASA has dropped by a THIRD from 6000 to less than 4000, and membership from about 15000 to less than 11000. We read this often, now that the angry conservatives have all left, everybody gets along and everything is great. An association of like minded progressives, maybe, but part of the Church Catholic–maybe not so much.

  3. William Witt says:

    Before Bishop Vono came in, the Diocese of Rio Grande was involved in an extension ministry program with Trinity School for Ministry. I taught in this program, and met some wonderful seminarians when visiting Albuquerque. After Vono’s election, he closed down the program, and told the students who had not yet graduated that the courses they had taken and the credits they had received toward their degrees no longer contributed toward ordination in the Diocese of the Rio Grande. He did specify that they could transfer to a couple of designated seminaries — I believe that the Seminary of the Southwest, Iliff (a liberal Methodist seminary in Denver) and EDS were possibilities — and hope that their credits would be recognized. He made it clear that they could not transfer to TSM, and that TSM would no longer be a recognized seminary in the Diocese of the Rio Grande. Even the liberal students I talked to in the program were unhappy about this, as it meant that, (in some cases) after having already committed themselves to several years of seminary education, they would now have to start all over.

    That’s called “reconciliation.”

  4. wildfire says:


    That jumped out at me too. How does someone tell the press that membership has grown to 21000 when TEC’s official statistics indicate that there were 11,197 members at the end of 2013, the last year for which stats are available?

  5. Undergroundpewster says:

    #4 Wildfire,

    When the press is asleep at the wheel or in cahoots with the bishop.

  6. MichaelA says:

    UP, that seems an accurate assessment.

    It appears, with respect, that the journalist Oliver Uyttebrouck has been less than diligent in his research. Perhaps a bit rushed to get the article ready for copy deadline?

    The Episcopal Church’s stats for each diocese are fairly easily found. Bishop Vono inflated his diocese’s figures by almost 100% – okay, he’s a TEC bishop so that is not entirely surprising (don’t get me wrong, I am sure there are *some* TEC bishops who can be trusted to talk straight).

    But it raises the question why the journo didn’t pick up the error?

  7. Sarah1 says:

    Oh it’s a “change of identity” alright!


    More than one-third of its Average Sunday Attendance walked away from 2003 to 2013.

  8. Jeremy Bonner says:

    Dr. Witt (#3),

    It would seem to be highly reprehensible from a pedagogical (as well as a financial) standpoint to interrupt study in the fashion you describe. Fair enough to end a connection with a particular seminary for new ordinands – that is a bishop’s prerogative – but to do what Bishop Vono did to those already committed was decidedly unpastoral. Did none of the liberal ordinands make this point to him directly?

  9. Sarah1 says:

    I invite anybody on this thread to supply details of “reconciliation” on that article thread.

    What have we got to lose, other than providing blessed clarity to the readers in New Mexico?

    It really is a funny article — I don’t blame the writer so much. I’m sure he was supplied stats from whomever he deemed the authority on that, and of course, the quotes/sources *make* the article.

  10. William Witt says:

    Dr. Bonner,

    I honestly don’t know what conversations the students had with Bishop Bono. I was the professor who taught the very last course in the program, and I am recounting what I heard from the students during my last visit. I did not ask about their personal interactions with the bishop; nor did they share them. I don’t want to share too much because I don’t want to violate confidences. At least one student informed me of a decision to apply to the Seminary of the Southwest, and hope that TSM credits would transfer. I heard no interest in exploring either Iliff or EDS. To a person, all of the seminarians seemed unhappy with the new policies. As the last TSM professor to teach in the program, I focused on making the teaching experience a positive one rather than dwelling on the end of the program.