Category : TEC Bishops

(TLC) TEC Bishop Jon Bruno Suspended Anew

An appellate disciplinary board has placed further restrictions on the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, ending his priestly ministry as of Jan. 1, even as he appeals a three-year suspension as Bishop of Los Angeles.

In a one-page order, the Disciplinary Board for Bishops said in part: “Effective January 1, 2018, and during the time the appeal of this matter is pending, Bishop Bruno shall refrain from the exercise of the gifts of ministry conferred by ordination (Canon IV.2, definition of “Sentence”) and shall not exercise any authority over the real or personal property or temporal affairs of the Church (Canon IV.19.7).”

Bruno, who will turn 71 on Nov. 17 and the mandatory retirement age for priests and bishops is 72. The diocese now says he will retire Nov. 30.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

(AI) TEC Dioceses of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania to share a bishop

Last weekend at a meeting of the clergy of the Dioceses of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania, Bishop Franklin (pictured) announced that he will retire on April 3, 2019, as required by the canons of the Episcopal Church. His letter, which you can read here, says he has returned from sabbatical “full of energy and ideas that we will explore together over that time.” Chief among those ideas, as we discussed with the clergy of both dioceses, is the possibility of our dioceses sharing a future.

At our upcoming diocesan conventions, we will propose that we spend the next year convening discussions among leaders across our region about how we might create more opportunity for mission by working together. This process will culminate in October 2018, when our dioceses plan to meet together for a joint convention in Niagara Falls.

If our discussions in the next year are fruitful, as we hope they will be, we would anticipate that in 2018, the Diocese of Western New York would elect Bishop Rowe as its bishop provisional for five years beginning in April 2019, when Bishop Franklin retires. During the first three years of the partnership, our two dioceses would work together to deepen our relationships and develop shared mission priorities. In October 2021, we would re-evaluate the partnership and then, in October 2024, decide whether we wanted to continue it beyond the five-year mark.

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Stewardship, TEC Bishops

The Lamb of God, a sermon by Bishop John Henry Hobart for his Feast Day

The striking and appropriate terms in which the prophet Isaiah depicts the character and offices of the Messiah, have procured for him, by way of eminence, the title of the Evangelical Prophet. He exhibits a glowing but faithful picture of the character of Christ, and all the humiliating and all the triumphant events of his life. In the chapter which contains my text, the prophet has dipped his pencil in the softest colours, and draws a portrait of the Saviour, which, while it conveys to us the most exalted ideas of his character, is calculated to awaken our tenderest and liveliest sympathy.

Let us then contemplate the character of Christ, as delineated by the prophet under the emblem of “a lamb brought to the slaughter,” that our penitence may be awakened, our gratitude enlivened, and our souls warmed with the ardent emotions of love and duty.

Under the character of a “lamb brought to the slaughter,” we are led to consider,

The innocence of Christ;

His tenderness and compassion;

His patience;

And, finally, to consider him as the victim for our sins.

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Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Bishops

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Henry Hobart

Revive thy Church, Lord God of hosts, whensoever it doth fall into complacency and sloth, by raising up devoted leaders, like thy servant John Henry Hobart whom we remember this day; and grant that their faith and vigor of mind may awaken thy people to thy message and their mission; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Bishops

(LA Times) L.A. Episcopal diocese is going ahead with sale of Newport’s St. James church site

[Bp John] Taylor, however, wrote that the panelists and their advising attorneys “evidently did not take fully into account the existence of a binding contract, nor all the ways the dispute begs for wider reconciliation.”

Parishioner Walter Stahr, who has been active in the congregation’s allegations of misconduct against Bruno and the effort to reclaim the building, said diocese leaders did not say when escrow would close on the property when they met Monday with him and St. James pastor Cindy Evans Voorhees. The sale price also has not been disclosed.

“They assured us that if St. James the Great wishes to continue as an Episcopal congregation, they will support us — just not in our building,” Stahr told his fellow parishioners in a statement Monday. “I know how devastating this will be for many of you, but the story is not over.”

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Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

(AI) Despite win against Bruno, St James Newport Beach learns they will lose their church

We understand that the Hearing Panel’s ruling, which awaits the possibility of Bishop Bruno’s appeal, calls on us to return the congregation to the building. The four concurring Hearing Panel members and the attorneys who advised them evidently did not take fully into account the existence of a binding contract nor all the ways the dispute begs for wider reconciliation. (One panel member dissented and supported Bishop Bruno.)

Their advocacy bespeaks a commendable pastoral connection with the people of St. James. As recently as the filing of the church attorney’s brief after the hearings in Pasadena in March, those conducting the proceeding against Bishop Bruno made it clear that he could avoid being sanctioned if he would relent on his intention to sell the property. This is not to understate the significance of the panel’s findings against Bishop Bruno. But we trust that from the painful experience of the Diocese of Los Angeles, The Episcopal Church will learn lessons about how, in disciplinary settings, to differentiate between actions by a respondent which deserve sanction and a complainant’s wish to reverse an operational decision.

We share the panel’s profound concern for the people of St. James. Bishop Bruno asked them to start a new congregation, and under the leadership of the Rev. Canon Cindy Voorhees, they accepted the challenge. They praised, worshipped, and served, as they continue to do. We are not here to relitigate Bishop Bruno’s actions or the Hearing Panel’s verdict. In all likelihood, after 40 years of ordination, including many moments of courage and vision, he will lose the right to say Holy Eucharist and to baptize, confirm, and bless for three years. It is also outside the realm of Bishop Curry’s charge to assess how long it would have taken St. James to achieve sustainability. Suffice it to say that it was making good progress and that losing its church building was a disappointment and shock….

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, TEC Parishes

Phil Ashey takes an in depth dive into the recent TEC Bp Jon Bruno decision and what it tells us: Questions about the corruption of a diocese

The Hearing Panel stated unequivocally that prior review and approval of the sale of church property by the Standing Committee “is a crucial part of the fabric and polity of the Church.” (Report at 57). And yet the specific findings recited in the Hearing Panel’s Report show that the Standing Committee did little, if anything, to investigate the legal ownership of St. James, to review any legal documentation for the sale, and to refer to its own minutes in doing so. If they had, they presumably would have discovered that the only properties transferred to Corp Sole were back in 2009, and did not include St. James. They would have discovered that a purported May 2014 quitclaim deed by the Diocese to Corp Sole was without any review by the Standing Committee. If they had followed Bishop Glasspool’s advice and consulted with another diocesan chancellor, they might have intervened and halted the sale. Nevertheless, they did not

These detailed findings in the Hearing Panel’s Report are troubling in the extreme, to say the least. Viewed as a whole, the findings strongly suggest that corruption and greed were systemic. They were not limited to Bishop Bruno himself. Key staff and leaders at the highest levels appear from the Report to have been complicit. The Standing Committee appears to have failed to properly review, let alone check, these problematic actions. Both laity and clergy close to the bishop were apparently involved.

How could the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles end up with so many people in positions of leadership who had lost their moral compass?

If the statement of the Diocesan spokesman and its webpage are any signs, the absence of conviction, humility and repentance is not promising.

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

The Living Church article on the panel draft decision about Bishop Jon Bruno

In a scathing rebuke of the Bishop of Los Angeles, a disciplinary hearing panel of the Episcopal Church has voted to suspend the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno from ministry for three years….

According to Title IV 14.5 of the church’s canons, the presiding bishop is charged with reviewing this sentence and then pronouncing it or lessening it.

In a 4-1 decision, the panel wrote that “the scope and severity of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct … have unjustly and unnecessarily disturbed the ministry of a mission of the Church. St. James the Great is a casualty of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct.”

Neva Rae Fox, public affairs officer for the Episcopal Church, said late that evening, “This document is marked as a draft, and that is what it is. We will offer no comments as the Hearing Panel’s work continues.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

(AI) Bp Michael Smith offers the lone Dissenting opinion in the Bishop Jon Bruno case

“The hearing panel has concluded that the scope and severity of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct … unjustly and unnecessarily disturbed the ministry of a mission of the church,” the ruling stated.

The panel concluded Bishop Bruno’s closure of the parish was motivated in part by animus. The decision to shutter the church throughout the dispute was done “to punish Canon Voorhees and the St. James congregation for what he views as their defiance of him.”

Bishop Smith disagreed with the panel’s conclusion, writing the hearing panel should not have exercised jurisdiction over the dispute. “Resolution of property disputes properly resides within local diocesan entities,” he wrote, explaining the dispute should not have been “adjudicated through the disciplinary process.”

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

(OC Register) Episcopal panel recommends suspension for L.A. Bishop J. Jon Bruno, return of Newport Beach church to locked-out congregants

A panel of officials from the national Episcopal Church issued its recommendation on misconduct charges against J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, on Friday, July 21, nearly ending a two-year battle during which he tried to sell the St. James the Great church in Newport Beach and displaced its congregants.

Panel members voted 4-1 to suspend Bruno for three years, restore the congregation and halt efforts to sell the 40,000-square-foot building and surrounding property at 3209 Via Lido, which includes a rose garden where the ashes of 12 former parishioners are buried.

The decision comes after panel members presided over a three-day disciplinary hearing in March.

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

(N+O) New bishop takes helm of Episcopal Church in central North Carolina

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

(TEC Diocese of Virginia) A Testimony from the 8th Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue

The 22 bishops present considered the cumulative experience of this consultation since it first met in London in 2010. Growing organically from 12 in the first gathering, some 49 bishops have now been involved in the process. We remain entirely committed to this vital work with one another, as we are convinced of the unique productivity and value of our gathering. We considered how our configuration could best facilitate our conversations as we look to the next Lambeth Conference. We heard a report on the evolving plans for Lambeth 2020. We identified biblical, theological and pastoral roles of testimony and how it is vital both to the life of the church and the effective proclamation of the gospel in each of our dioceses.

We recognized much we have valued in the dialogues, which have changed our ministries and our lives:

A new understanding of the Anglican Communion has led to renewed commitment to its flourishing.
Myths and stereotypes, misunderstandings and propaganda have been broken down. It is clear we have so much more in common than the issues that divide us and threaten our unity at this time.
It has been important to visit local church ministries and worship in local parishes. We have learned how others are engaged in the work of building up the church and in living the Gospel. We have learned new ways to engage mission.
There have been surprises:

Listening first hand to someone is very different from reading about each other.
In spite of our differences there has been mutual respect, deep friendship, hard-won growth of trust and deep commitment to one another and to this dialogue.
There is a personal cost in embracing the other, but much enrichment, and this has led to a fuller articulation of our own identity and stronger commitment to our common faith in Christ Jesus.
In our roles as bishops, in very different contexts, we share many similar concerns.
There is unity in the Anglican Communion’s diversity.
God brings about our own transformation through loving relationships, and this has happened to us in the course of these dialogues.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

(LA Times) TEC Bp of Los Angeles loses appeal of order not to sell Newport church

A disciplinary board for the Episcopal Church has upheld a lower panel’s order blocking the bishop of the Los Angeles diocese from completing a planned sale of the St. James the Great church property in Newport Beach.

The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno appealed to the Disciplinary Board for Bishops after an ecclesiastical hearing panel warned him in June not to sell the property before that panel reaches a decision on misconduct allegations related to a separate attempt to sell the church site in 2015.

The Most Rev. Michael Curry, the top bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, issued a similar sale-blocking order late last month.

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Stewardship, TEC Bishops

(LA Times) National Episcopal leader bars L.A. bishop from selling Newport church

The top bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States has barred the bishop of the Los Angeles diocese from completing a planned sale of the St. James the Great Episcopal Church property in Newport Beach.

The pending sale, which was set to close July 3, came to light this month as Bishop J. Jon Bruno of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles was already under scrutiny by an ecclesiastical panel considering whether he committed misconduct in a separate attempt to sell the site in 2015.

The Most Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, issued an order Wednesday banning Bruno from closing the latest planned sale until the misconduct matter is resolved.

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Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops

A S Haley–TEC Bishop Jon Bruno Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The litigation grew nastier, as narrated in this post. Matters even began to sour between Bishop Bruno and his own Diocese’s convention. Eventually, the original purchaser pulled out of the contract (because of the litigation, no doubt), +Bruno rejected all attempts at mediation / conciliation with the parishioners, and the Disciplinary Board’s review panel ordered the matter (over +Bruno’s hypocritical objections) to a full-blown, public hearing, which took place over three days at the end of March of this year. (You can read the day-by-day accounts of the proceedings at this site, if you choose. With my departure from ECUSA, I have pretty much stopped chronicling all the desultory conduct that goes on in the name of that body.)

In the civil courts, meanwhile, +Bruno achieved mixed results. The parishioners’ lawsuit to stop him from selling the property was dismissed, but his suit against the original donor has not fared well. On February 24, the Court of Appeal reversed a decision by the trial court which had denied the donor’s motion to strike +Bruno’s “slander of title” claim against it. The decision ordered the trial court to strike the claim from the lawsuit and award the donor its attorneys’ fees and costs incurred as a result of its filing. The fees and costs will have to be paid out of the Bishop’s own corporation sole, since it was the plaintiff against the donor. In another ruling, the trial court found the original donor had failed to record a renewal of its deed restriction as required by law to keep it enforceable. That freed +Bruno to sell the property, but by then (as we now learn — see below) the original buyer had backed out.

After the disciplinary hearing concluded on March 30, the hearing panel took the matter under submission for briefing before issuing its decision. The Bishop’s attorneys asked the panel to dismiss all charges against him, while the attorney prosecuting the charges asked the panel to find him guilty and suspend him from active ministry for up to a year while fashioning a remedy that would foster reconciliation — for which +Bruno to date has shown no interest whatsoever.

On June 14, before the panel had issued any decision, one of the complainants submitted colorable evidence that +Bruno had entered into a new contract to sell St. James while the disciplinary proceedings were going on. The panel asked +Bruno’s attorneys to disclose to it whether he was under contract with a buyer or not, and when they gave evasive replies, the panel issued a sanctions order on June 17 directing +Bruno not to sell or contract to sell the property until “further order of the Hearing Panel.”

Now comes word from Anglican news sources that on June 22, +Bruno’s attorney sent an email to the panel in which she disclosed that Bishop Bruno had signed a contract to sell the property to another developer — just three weeks after the disciplinary hearing (the purchaser signed the contract a month later).

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Bishops