Category : TEC Bishops

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.

Read it all.

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.”

Read it all.

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.

Read it all.

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.

Read it all.

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.

Read it all.

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

(Gafcon) Stories of sacrifice from the USA – How God sustained two faithful churches through tough times

Indeed, in an almost unbelievable twist, the diocese sold the property for a third of the price Good Shepherd had offered to a local Muslim Group! The building, now no longer a place of faithful gospel witness, stands as an ‘Islamic Awareness Centre.’ Tragically, the diocese preferred to sell to an organisation spreading the message of Islam than to a church who had for years preached Jesus and the true biblical gospel.

And so, the Kennedys (who lived in the rectory) were now homeless and the congregation had nowhere to meet. Game over, right?

Wrong! Following their untimely eviction, the congregation was provided with temporary space to worship by a local Baptist Church. And then, in a stunning example of God’s providence, they were later offered a permanent building that had been vacated in a Catholic parish merger. And so, it was settled; 360 Conklin Avenue would become the new home of the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd.

Read it all.

Posted in Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology

For Jackson Kemper’s Feast Day–Gustaf Unonius’ Summary of [some of] his Work

In the course of time almost all the states and territories which at first had constituted a great missionary district under Bishop Kemper’s oversight became separate dioceses which for a time continued under his care but finally selected their own bishops. In this way, after a period of only a few years, Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin–where, at the time I began my studies at Nashotah, there were only a few scattered churches and mission stations–and finally Minnesota, Nebraska, and Kansas–territories which at that time were hardly known even by name–have now churches and ministers enough to be organized into separate dioceses. In Wisconsin alone there are more than fifty ministers, and an equal number of churches without ministers, belonging to the Episcopal church. All of this, under the grace of God, may be ascribed to the tireless labors if Bishop Kemper and the excellent mission school at Nashotah.

Read it all.

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

A Bp William Hobart Hare biography extract–“the Scriptures in their original texts had never been half a day out of his hands.”

In physical aspect Bishop Hare represented clearly, as any picture of him will show, what may be called the best Anglican type. The English churchman of gentle breeding, of native and acquired distinction, has rendered it familiar. Such men are born both to their appearance and to their profession. In the lineage of William Hobart Hare there was quite enough to account both for the outward and for the inward man. On each side of his parentage he was a son, immediately of the Protestant Episcopal Church; and, more remotely he sprang both from the New England Puritans and the Pennsylvania Friends whose beliefs and standards have played so important a part in the religious and political life of America.

His father, the Rev. Dr. George Emlen Hare, an eminent Biblical scholar, one of the American Old Testament Committee appointed under the direction of the Convocation of Canterbury in 1870 for the revision of the authorized version of the English Bible, was for many years a teacher in Philadelphia–first in a temporary professorship at the University of Pennsylvania; then at the head of the old Protestant Episcopal Academy for Boys, revived in 1846 by Bishop Alonzo Potter; and finally as professor of Biblical Learning and Exegesis in the Divinity School in West Philadelphia, of which he was the first dean. “From the period of his ordination,” it is written in a brief sketch of his life, “the Scriptures in their original texts had never been half a day out of his hands.” One sees him in memory, a typical figure of the scholar, formal, remote, known of those who knew him as demanding of himself the same exacting standard of industry and integrity that he demanded of his pupils.

–M.A. DeWolfe Howe, The Life and Labors of Bishop Hare: Apostle to the Sioux (New York: Sturgis and Walton, 1911), chapter one (my emphasis)

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Hobart Hare

Holy God, you called your servant William Hobart Hare to proclaim the means of grace and the hope of glory to the peoples of the Great Plains: We give you thanks for the devotion of those who received the Good News gladly, and for the faithfulness of the generations who have succeeded them. Strengthen us with your Holy Spirit, that we may walk in their footsteps and lead many to faith in Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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

An Indianapolis Star profile of the new TEC Bishop of Indianapolis

A larger issue facing the new bishop is an existential one — a dwindling membership. The Episcopal Church peaked nationally in the late 1960s but, like other mainline denominations, has been on a 50-year slide. The largest demographic in the church today are those older than 65.

That’s been reflected in Indiana, where there were more than 25,000 Episcopalians in 1980, according to the Association of Religious Data Archives. Today, there are fewer than 15,000. The Diocese of Indianapolis now has more than 9,300 members. It’s a byproduct of an evolving spirituality that is increasingly untethered to the institutional church.

Baskerville-Burrows recognizes that. She notes that many church buildings are situated in locales where the overall population has declined. Still, after her early visits around the diocese, she reports finding vibrancy, and that the church’s message of hope and inclusion is changing lives, which she sees as the best metric. Above all, she says the church is well-equipped to meet a yearning in today’s culture — for belonging.

“We are in a fragmented culture that seems to have no end to fragmentation. It’s easier now to be isolated than it has ever been. Our scriptures tell us … that we are meant for community and for belonging, and so I hear that yearning. That’s why I am hopeful about the future of the church.”

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

(OC Register) TEC Los Angeles Diocese denies family’s request to hold funeral at Newport Beach church in middle of dispute

The daughters of a long-time member of a displaced local congregation say they are disappointed by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles’ decision to reject their request to hold their mother’s funeral service at their former church home.

Nancy Knight, who has been a member of St. James the Great Episcopal since 1956, died of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease April 7, her daughter Ellen Knight Gordon said Monday. She was 86.

The family told their pastor, the Rev. Cindy Voorhees, that they wanted to honor Knight’s wishes by holding her service at the church, where she had served as a volunteer for about 60 years. Three weeks after they made that request, the family heard from the diocese through an email: “This is not going to work.”

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles