A Jacksonville Times Union Article on Life in the Diocese of Florida

The conservatives tried unsuccessfully to work the system by proposing resolutions at diocesan conventions to distance the diocese from the national church. Then Lebhar and other priests began to take their congregations out of the denomination.

Other Anglican bishops, mostly from Africa and South America, extended oversight to those congregations and clergy who had departed.

Lawsuits over property ensued.

“It was a painful and disillusioning time,” Lebhar said.

The diocese successfully sued Lebhar’s parish to establish the precedent that departing congregations cannot remain on church property.

Bruce Dougherty, senior warden at All Souls Anglican, said many in the congregation were devastated to leave behind the facilities they’d held dear for nearly 30 years. Many continue to grieve.

At Grace Episcopal, member Richard Cobb, 66, was one of 35 who remained behind on the 7-acre, 21-building campus in 2006. He said it caused him “great sadness” to see hundreds of friends abandon the parish and denomination.

In April, Howard rescinded the holy orders of Lebhar and 21 other priests and deacons, many of whom already had led their congregations out of the diocese months or years before.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Florida, TEC Departing Parishes

9 comments on “A Jacksonville Times Union Article on Life in the Diocese of Florida

  1. AnglicanFirst says:

    Episcopal unity with heretical secularists by a diocesan bishop who acquiesces in a sheep-like manner to their schismatic heresies is not the behavior of a diocesan following ‘the narrow path’ to ‘the narrow gate.’

    But he must know this, after all, he is a diocesan.

  2. robroy says:

    As David Virtue points out: “Howard moved into the diocese snubbing his predecessor, never once consulting him on diocesan matters before he arrived or afterwards. Jecko lived in a humble $100,000 home, Howard demanded, and got, a $1 million dollar residence, one, he no doubt thought, that befit a priest who had spent his previous years at the wealthiest church in the world – Trinity Wall Street in New York City.”

    Things went down hill from that point. He even rebuffed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s attempts to find more amicable separation. He has deposed a staggering 42 orthodox clergy. And he is not being truthful:

    “Membership has returned to about 30,000…” Untrue. The membership statistics are available on the national churches website. Membership is at 26,000 – and still falling.

    “…and giving is back up to pre-2003 levels.” Untrue. Plate and pledge income was $22 million in 2003. It now stands at $18 million. That’s an 18% drop. And it is not increasing but staying the same (which is to say falling when adjusted for inflation).

    Might I remind the bishop of Luke 16:10, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Of course being off by 4,000 people or $5 million can’t be called a little thing.

    All the data may be found in graphical form at http://tinyurl.com/6o9nuy

  3. Irenaeus says:

    Bp. Howard has joined Bps. Spong and Bennison as one of the greatest diocese-wreckers in ECUSA’s history.

    And to think that this once-vibrant diocese could have had Fr. Ellis Brust as its bishop.

  4. Sarah1 says:

    I wonder if Bishop Howard comprehends in any way that people — thousands of people — can look at graphs of membership and pledging and see, at a quick glance, that in fact membership has not “returned to about 30,000” and that giving is not “back up to pre-2003 levels” and that Bishop Howard is a frank, look-the-reporter-in-the-eye . . .


    Never mind.

    But do you think that he understands that these comments and this thread will be emailed to many many many people in his diocese?

    And all over TEC?

    I mean, it’s so brazen. It’s just really amazing at how ignorant bishops fancy laypeople are. One would think that after five years they’d figure it out, but . . . I guess not.

  5. RomeAnglican says:

    Sarah, let’s hope someone in his diocese calls him out on these terminological inexactitudes with a letter to the editor of the Times-Union. As bad as this was, though, it’s pretty sick to see the Rev. Mr. Dunkle laugh about managing lawsuits, as if that rather blatant un-Christian enterprise is funny. There is, though, some poetic justice that each week he is the one that gets to look at a cavernously empty nave that before he and his patron came to town from New York was one of the largest, most energetic, and most spiritually vibrant Episcopal churches anywhere.

  6. robroy says:

    Read Sarah’s comment and was further struck by the audacity of John Howard. I think it is worth repeating the quote with a little emphasis: “Membership has [b]returned[/b] to about 30,000 and giving [b]is back up[/b] to pre-2003 levels.” Now, to me “returned” and “back up” imply that the decline has not only stopped but turned into recovery. Brass cajones to fabricate numbers to the press.

    The stats for Grace Episcopal – Orange Park are [url= ]here[/url].

    What is striking is the giving dropped from $1.2 million to $200,000 in 2006 and dropped again to $175,000 in 2007. When will it end? The utility bill on a 7 acre, 21 building campus is…anyone, anyone???

    I like this from the attorney turned rector of Grace Episcopal – Orange Park: [url=http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/010607/nec_6975414.shtml ]”It’s been rewarding,” he said. “People are finding the best place for them to pray. There are tens of thousands of people who want to stay Episcopalian. [i]We don’t want anyone to feel forced to be an Episcopalian.[/i]”[/url]

    It is interesting to check out the web page of the rump church, http://www.graceepiscopalop.org/ . Probably the saddest website of any Episcopal church that I have visited. One single page, with e-mail links to the rector and assistant rector.

  7. libraryjim says:

    I think it was Canon Dunkle who came to Church of the Advent and gave a speech that was a not-so-veiled threat against taking any action to leave the diocese. I posted a kind-of transcript, based on my notes, on the old T1:9 site. It was definately ‘theatre of the absurd’ that day.

  8. jamesw says:

    The problem, Sarah, is that a lot of TEC laity DO meekly accept whatever the bishop and diocesan heirarchy says.

    That’s what this election campaign illustrates so clearly – absolute, outright lies can be told, because many people will believe them, and if they are challenged, it will be dismissed as “spin.” People no longer actually check the facts anymore to test statements – the post-modern assumption is that there are no facts anymore, just spin.

  9. dwstroudmd+ says:

    Another devotee of Lily Tomlin’s Edith Ann. “You cannot tell a lie for that is wrong; however, you can make up the truth if you know how to.” Clearly Howard is in the league of Schori and Beers and General Convention-eers of 2003 and the manipulators of VGR’s “election”.
    Wasn’t it Frank Griswold who led the way in this form or “terminological inexactitude”?