Category : TEC Polity & Canons

(TLC) C of E General Synod Turns to Mission

Throughout his talk, Idowu-Fearon emphasized the “vigorous and robust” character of the Anglican Communion, as it pursues the “apostolic mandate given by the Lord Jesus, to make disciples of all the nations.” Again and again, he referenced “missionary calling,” the “sacrificial offering” of generations of English Anglicans zealous for global mission, and the C of E’s contributions to the Anglican Communion.

“This is a wonderful, if complex, story that I hope will never be forgotten,” he said. “I hope you realize this, because it is a fact that the Church of England today is giving necessary, effective, and beautiful gifts to the wider Communion.”

The secretary general did not shy away from noting the difficulties Anglican Communion provinces face: “economic displacement and political uncertainty; family dissolution; refugees and migration; grinding poverty; and persecution,” but also “the dispiriting and destructive dynamic of Anglican conflict over human sexuality” and a worrisome fading of the “fertile energy of outward mission.”

He lifted up the 1920 Lambeth Conference as a potential model for how to respond to these challenges: the assembled bishops recognized that communion is founded in “the undeflected will of God,” who desires to “win over the whole human family.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Aggressive Title IV Action Against Multiple Bishops on Eve of Gen. Con. 2012, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Missions, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A S Haley on the recent developments with the Canonical Charges vs TEC Bp of Los Angeles Jon Bruno

Comes now Bishop Bruno, he of the forkèd tongue, and for a response to the charges files a motion to dismiss the Title IV proceedings against him in their entirety. His reasons stated are twofold:

(1) The complainants violated the confidentiality provisions of Title IV by disclosing the substance of their charges, and of ECUSA’s responses to them; and

(2) [Now get this] The complainants violated Canon IV.19.2 by resorting to a proceeding in the secular civil courts before filing their charges against +Bruno under Title IV.

Note that while +Bruno is technically correct that the earlier stages of the Title IV proceedings against him were confidential, the violation of that confidentiality by the Complainant (i.e., the members of St. James the Great) does not furnish canonical grounds for a dismissal of the charges. Under the Canon he cites (IV.13.9[a]), it is only misconduct “that the Hearing Panel deems to be disruptive, dilatory or otherwise contrary to the integrity of the proceedings” on the part of the Respondent (i.e., Bishop Bruno) or the Church Attorney that can provide grounds for the imposition of sanctions — which, by the way, do not include the dismissal of all charges, as +Bruno requests.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

(Covenant) Jordan Hylden+Keith Voets–Is Christ-centered comprehension possible on marriage in TEC?

The bishop-elect of Dallas, George Sumner, observes that comprehensiveness, while often a point of pride for Anglicans, is in fact a difficult achievement, not to be taken for granted (“After Comprehensiveness,” Anglican Theological Review, Fall 2004). He writes:

We see that Episcopalians are fighting over same-sex relationships, and we assume that Anglicanism is comprehensive, and so we ask, what is the intellectual superstructure that allows us now to remain comprehensive? This is surely a mistake; we assume what needs to be shown. Comprehensiveness assumes that common and more central doctrines form a framework, an encompassing context into which lesser disagreements may be placed and so relativized. Such larger, often tacit, agreements keep a tradition in contention from descending into sheer incoherence. Anglicanism shows comprehensiveness when it achieves these goals of showing the more basic agreement, and so of putting disputes in context. Only pride would assume that such success is the essential quality of our tradition.

If what we mean by comprehension is some kind of embrace of a “larger truth” on this issue, Sumner writes, that is the kind of muddled nonsense we must avoid.

Even for Anglicans up is not down, and black is not white; we too should make our yes a yes. We are not exempt from the law of noncontradiction. Either same-sex relationships are a blessing from God, or they are contrary to God’s will. While our tradition may prove comprehensive in many respects, if there is such a disagreement we cannot be comprehensive with respect to it. To deny this is to make of comprehensiveness a kind of transitional object by which we lull ourselves to sleep.Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Sexuality, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AI) No conciliation in the bishop Jon Bruno/St James the Great affair

The misconduct complaint filed against the Bishop of Los Angeles by members of St James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach has been handed back to the national church’s disciplinary panel for bishops after the parties were unable to reach an amicable resolution.

The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno appears to have adopted a scorched earth in dealing with complaints of bullying and dishonesty levelled against him by ignoring a request for the national church that he not prejudice the proceedings. Though all parties had been charged to “enter into this process in good faith,” the bishop’s attorneys have not relented in their legal campaign, and have sought to depose a Girl Scout leader whose troop had planted an herb garden at the parish, and the daughter of a woman whose ashes are interned at the church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

A look back to 2012–Bp Mark Lawrence’s address Guildford Diocesan Evangelical Fellwshp

The Presiding Bishop hired an attorney in the Diocese of South Carolina, who presented himself as ”˜Counsel for The Episcopal Church in South Carolina’. I said, wait a minute, according to our polity we are The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. I am the only one that has juridical or jurisdictional authority here. She has not spoken to me. She has not asked for my permission, and there is no constitutional or canonical authority that the Presiding Bishop has to hire an attorney to investigate me and the Diocese or South Carolina. We called a Special Convention; told the Presiding Bishop to remove the attorney. I have never received any notice from her ”“ it is four years later.

That brought us into a cold war with the national church, and in a cold war the difficulty is everything you do to protect yourself in a cold war, can be interpreted by the person on the opposite side of the cold war as an act of aggression. That goes for me towards them and them towards me and so we have lived with that for three years now.

I need to conclude because our time is all but up, mine is already past. In the Fall of last year, I was informed that there were 12 allegations brought against me that I had abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church. And after 2 or 3 months, the Disciplinary Board for Bishops came back and said, there is not enough evidence – I think that is the simplest way to put it ”“ that I have abandoned the communion and so I will not be brought up on charges.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

A S Haley–On the recent Oral Arguments in South Carolina in the Episcopal Church Case

That left Chief Justice Toal, who despite all the tortuous arguments stuck to basic legal principles and analysis: a trust needs a settlor to be created, and the beneficiary of a trust is perfectly within his rights to quitclaim back to the settlor all of his supposed interest in the trust. (There was thus no “breach of the Dennnis Canon” when Bishop Lawrence signed individual quitclaim deeds to his parishes, on behalf of the Diocese as beneficiary of any trust interest that arguably may still have existed following the All Saints Waccamaw decision.) And South Carolina religious corporations are free to amend their governing documents — including a complete change in their charitable purpose — as long as they comply with the formalities required by South Carolina law.

To this observer, it seemed as though the Justices had not discussed the case with each other beforehand. And it also looked as though the Chief Justice had taken on the responsibility of writing an opinion in the case — since she was the one most weighed down with case files and briefs. But whether her opinion will be the majority one remains to be seen. I believe she has the confidence of Justice Beatty, who followed her before. And she may have Judge Kittredge in her camp, as well.

But both he and Justice Costa Pleicones seemed to have difficulty following the ins and outs of the arguments — thanks to the constant interjections by Justice Hearn on behalf of the Church of which she is an active member. She practically monopolized the argument with long speeches (not questions) that would have sounded more appropriate had they come from ECUSA’s attorneys. The resulting final impression of Mark Lawrence and his Diocese having had a rough time in the Court is almost entirely, in my estimation, due to the attempts by Justice Hearn to derail the case by returning South Carolina to the days of deference, as ECUSA argued in its briefs.

Whether her unprofessional and entirely partial tactics will succeed is a question that will have to await the Court’s opinion, which could be months away. I shall have much more to say about those tactics in my following post.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

Historic Diocese of South Carolina Defends Its Property Against Another Episcopal Church Appeal

Diocese argues to South Carolina Supreme Court that a lower court decision dismissing outside claims on local church property is consistent with state law and constitutional precedent.

COLUMBIA, SC (Sept. 23, 2015) ”“ The Diocese of South Carolina today argued to the state Supreme Court that a judge’s February ruling that the Episcopal Church (TEC) has “no legal, equitable or beneficial interest” in the Diocese’s properties was correct and consistent with South Carolina law.

The argument came as the Diocese defended against the latest appeal by TEC, which seeks to seize local property. The denomination’s filings seek control of the Diocese’s 314-acre St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center, the Diocese’s historic identity, its accounts and the properties of 50 congregations that joined the Diocese in disassociating from the denomination in 2012.

During today’s appeal hearing, the Diocese and TEC would normally have had 20 minutes to present respective arguments, however due to the number of questions, more time was taken because of the vigorous debate.
“We are hopeful the Supreme Court will protect the fundamental constitutional right of South Carolina institutions and residents to choose with whom to associate,” said Rev. Jim Lewis, canon to the ordinary of the Diocese. “The lower court made clear that the Diocese could leave TEC and take its property. We hope this decision concludes the expensive, distracting efforts by TEC to use what feels like endless appeals to delay the inevitable outcome.”

The History of the Dispute

The dispute began when TEC attempted to remove the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence as bishop in the fall of 2012. The Diocese immediately disassociated from TEC, an action affirmed by its Diocesan Convention in November 2012. At that time 50 of the 72 congregations that made up the Diocese at the time and 80 percent of its members supported the disassociation.

TEC immediately attempted to claim the identity of the Diocese, with a rump group calling itself the Steering Committee using the Diocese’s registered service mark and announcing meetings of the diocesan clergy. In response to the attempted identity theft, the Diocese sought legal protection for the Diocese, its property and that of its congregations.

On Jan. 29, 2013, TEC agreed to a court-imposed temporary injunction preventing its further use of the Diocese’s identity. The final ruling by Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein, which supported the Diocese’s request and rejected TEC claims, made that initial injunction permanent and dismissed the TEC arguments “with prejudice”.

The Legal Background

TEC’s legal arguments can be distilled down to two related propositions. It claims to be a “hierarchical” church, with complete control of the entire organization located at its very top, much like the Roman Catholic Church, which is led by the pope. It claims that, as a “hierarchical” church, the establishment clause of the Constitution prevents any court from challenging its ecclesiastical decisions.

Courts in South Carolina, Illinois, California and Texas have repeatedly found there are multiple and significant problems with these assertions in this case.

The first is the fact that TEC’s organizational structure is irrelevant to this case. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled clearly and repeatedly that in property matters like those involved here, courts may decide them using what is known as neutral principles of law, which means the court may not apply special conditions or rules that are different than those it would apply in normal property disputes.

An example of neutral principles was the 2009 decision of the All Saints Parish Waccamaw case by the South Carolina Supreme Court. The court said judges may decide the matter applying the customary laws of property ownership. The same principles were applied in the case of the Diocese.

Under neutral principles of law, several further crucial legal principles apply. First, it does not matter if TEC were hierarchical or not. That should be irrelevant under neutral principles of law. Second, TEC has no interest in the real, personal or intellectual property of the Diocese because no trust interest has been established to give it such a claim. Under South Carolina law, an express trust requires a written declaration signed by the party conveying that interest. No such document was ever executed by the Diocese or any of its parishes to convey anything to The Episcopal Church.

Similarly, though TEC has asserted trademark infringement as an issue in this case, the only infringement considered at trial was the denomination’s unauthorized use of the Diocesan service marks. The real issue was who has the rights to control the Diocese, TEC or those who have continuously been its leadership, in unbroken succession, all the way back to 1785.

About the Diocese of South Carolina

The Diocese was founded in 1785 by the parishes of the former South Carolina colony. Based in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, the Diocese is one of the oldest religious districts in the United States and counts among its members several of the oldest, operating churches in the nation.

The Diocese of South Carolina is recognized by Anglican Dioceses and Provinces around the world, many of whom have broken fellowship with The Episcopal Church, and in 2013 the Diocese joined the global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and entered into a formal relationship of Provisional Primatial Oversight with Global South Primates.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

A S Haley–Important Episcopal Legal Developments in South Carolina

Heading up the panel hearing the case will be Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal, who in that same position authored the Court’s unanimous 2009 opinion in the case of All Saints Waccamaw v. Episcopal Church, which I quoted and analyzed in this earlier post. Also serving on the panel will be Associate Justice Donald W. Beatty, who joined in the Waccamaw opinion. It is not known yet whether any of the other sitting Justices have recused themselves (two of them did so in the Waccamaw case); the fifth, Justice Kaye Hearn, assumed her seat on the Court after the arguments in the 2009 case.

Chief Justice Toal, whose religion is Roman Catholic, is no stranger to the concept of what makes a church “hierarchical.” In her opinion in the Waccamaw case, Justice Toal noted that South Carolina Courts are required to resolve church property disputes using “neutral principles of law” whenever possible. They may defer only to “the highest religious judicatories” when they have properly decided an issue “as to religious law, principle, doctrine, discipline, custom, and administration.” It should be noted that in her written opinion filed last January, Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein expressly found that there were no such bodies in the Episcopal Church (USA) that had outside jurisdiction over either the Diocese or any of its parishes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

Federal Judge hands TEC another setback as its new Diocese battles the historic one in Court

U.S. Judge Delays Hearing on Episcopal Church Appeal Demanding Identity of Diocese of South Carolina, Pending State Court Decision

Judge refuses to confuse the rightful ownership issue as it proceeds to state Supreme Court this week

CHARLESTON, SC (Sept. 21, 2015) ”“ A federal judge handed the Episcopal Church (TEC) and its local subsidiary, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) a setback today when he refused the request to reconsider a decision about who rightfully owns the Diocese of South Carolina identity, trademarks and other intellectual property.

Bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg, who heads TECSC, has repeatedly alleged that the property and identity of the Diocese of South Carolina actually belongs to the Episcopal Church and was wrongfully taken by Bishop Mark Lawrence, who heads the Diocese which left TEC in 2012.
Federal District Judge C. Weston Houck originally dismissed vonRosenberg’s claim in 2013, recognizing that the essential issues of the Diocese’s identity would be resolved by the South Carolina courts. Last February, South Carolina Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein ruled the Diocese of South Carolina was, in fact, free to leave the denomination and keep its property and assets. TEC appealed that decision and the appeal will be heard by the South Carolina Supreme Court on Sept. 23.

Meanwhile, TEC appealed Judge Houck’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The appellate panel ordered Judge Houck to reconsider his earlier dismissal of the case using a different legal standard for that decision. The panel decision was largely procedural. It did not issue any opinions about the merits of TEC’s claim.

In today’s decision to delay any further hearings pending the outcome of a South Carolina Supreme Court decision about the case Judge Houck wrote, “Regardless of the [state Supreme Court’s] ultimate decision, Bishop vonRosenberg’s rights will necessarily be addressed and will be adequately protected in the state court action.”

He referred to the Supreme Court hearing, scheduled for Sept. 23, as “the parallel state court action.”

“Basically, the Judge is saying that if the Supreme Court upholds the state ruling the case will be dismissed,” said the Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to Bishop Lawrence.

Houck applied the Colorado River Abstention doctrine to conclude that the factors in this case presented the “exceptional circumstances” to warrant abstention.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

***Reminder–For Yr awareness+Yr Prayers—Dio. of South Carolina Supreme Court hearing is Sept. 23

From here:

The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina; The Trustees of The Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina, a South Carolina Corporate Body; All Saints Protestant Episcopal Church, Inc.; Christ St. Paul’s Episcopal Church; Christ the King, Waccamaw; Church of The Cross, Inc. And Church of the Cross Declaration of Trust; Church of The Holy Comforter; Church of the Redeemer; Holy Trinity Episcopal Church; Saint Luke’s Church, Hilton Head; St. Matthews Church; St. Andrews Church-Mt. Pleasant Land Trust; St. Bartholomews Episcopal Church; St. David’s Church; St. James’ Church, James Island, S.C.; St. John’s Episcopal Church of Florence, S.C.; St. Matthias Episcopal Church, Inc.; St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Bennettsville, Inc.;
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Conway; The Church of St. Luke and St. Paul, Radcliffeboro; The Church of Our Saviour of the Diocese of South Carolina; The Church of the Epiphany (Episcopal); The Church of the Good Shepherd, Charleston, SC; The Church of The Holy Cross; The Church of The Resurrection, Surfside; The Protestant Episcopal Church of The Parish of Saint Philip, in Charleston, in the State of South Carolina; The Protestant Episcopal Church, The Parish of Saint Michael, in Charleston, in the State of South Carolina and St. Michael’s Church Declaration of Trust; The Vestry and Church Wardens of St. Jude’s Church of Walterboro; The Vestry and Church Wardens of The Episcopal Church of The Parish of Prince George Winyah; The Vestry and Church Wardens of The Church of The Parish of St. Helena and The Parish Church of St. Helena Trust; The Vestry and Church Wardens of The Parish of St. Matthew; The Vestry and Wardens of St. Paul’s Church, Summerville; Trinity Church of Myrtle Beach; Trinity Episcopal Church; Trinity Episcopal Church, Pinopolis; Vestry and Church Wardens of the Episcopal Church of The Parish of Christ Church; Vestry and Church Wardens of The Episcopal Church of the Parish of St. John’s, Charleston County, The Vestries and Churchwardens of The Parish of St. Andrews, Respondents. v. The Episcopal Church (a/k/a The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America) and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, Appellants.
Attorneys: Allan R. Holmes, Sr. and Timothy O. Lewis, both of Gibbs & Holmes, of Charleston, David Booth Beers and Mary E. Kostel, both of Goodwin Procter, LLP, of Washington, DC, Blake A. Hewitt and John S. Nichols, both of Bluestein Nichols Thompson & Delgado, of Columbia, Thomas S. Tisdale and Jason S. Smith, both of Hellman Yates & Tisdale, of Charleston and R. Walker Humphrey, II, of Waters & Kraus, of Dallas, Texas, for Appellants. C. Alan Runyan and Andrew S. Platte, both of Speights & Runyan, of Beaufort, Henrietta U. Golding and Amanda Bailey, both of McNair Law Firm, of Myrtle Beach, C. Mitchell Brown, of Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough, of Columbia, Charles H. Williams, of Williams & Williams, of Orangeburg, David Cox, of Barnwell Whaley Patterson & Helms, of Charleston, Thomas C. Davis, of Harvey & Battey, of Beaufort, Harry Easterling, Jr., of Bennettsville, G. Mark Phillips, of Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough, of Charleston, W. Foster Gaillard and Henry Grimball, both of Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice, of Charleston, Keith McCarty, of McCarty Law Firm, of Charleston, William A. Scott, of Pedersen & Scott, of Charleston, Mark Evans, of Charleston, David B. Marvel and David L. DeVane, both of Prenner Marvel, of Charleston, John Furman Wall, III, of Mt. Pleasant, Allan P. Sloan, III and Joseph C. Wilson, IV, both of Pierce, Herns, Sloan & Wilson, of Charleston, Edward P. Guerard, Jr., of Mt. Pleasant, C. Pierce Campbell, of Turner, Padget, Graham & Laney, of Florence, Robert R. Horger, of Horger, Barnwell & Reid, of Orangeburg, Saunders M. Bridges, of Aiken Bridges Elliott Tyler & Saleeby, of Florence, Lawrence B. Orr, of Orr Elmore & Ervin, of Florence, Francis M. Mack, of St. Matthews, Robert S. Shelton, of The Bellamy Law Firm, of Myrtle Beach, William A. Bryan, of Bryan & Haar, of Surfside Beach, Harry Oxner, of Oxner & Stacy, of Georgetown, Susan MacDonald and Jim Lehman, both of Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough, of Myrtle Beach, Brandt Shelbourne, of Shelbourne Law Firm, of Summerville, Stephen S. McKenzie, of Coffey, Chandler & Kent, of Manning, John B. Williams, of Williams & Hulst, of Moncks Corner, George J. Kefalos and Oana D. Johnson, both of George J. Kefalos, P.A., of Charleston, Stephen Spitz, of Charleston and Thornwell F. Sowell, III and Bess J. Durant, both of Sowell Gray Stepp & Lafitte, LLC, of Columbia, for Respondents.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Parishes, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

[ACI] The New Episcopal Church: What Hath General Convention 2015 Wrought?

The time ahead

All this points to a time ahead of stress and uncertainty for Anglicanism in the United States. ACI believes that the following elements, however, must be recognized and acted upon if this time ahead is to prove fruitful rather than simply destructive.

First, we must acknowledge that TEC as a national body is no longer recognizably “Anglican” in an Anglican-Communion sense. A broad range of commonly defining features of Anglican Communion churches ”“ e.g. the Lambeth Quadrilateral, which makes Scripture the “rule and ultimate standard of faith”; the definition of Anglicanism specified in TEC’s own constitution and in 1930 Lambeth Conference Resolution 49 (i.e., “upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer”); other Lambeth resolutions including 1998 I.10; the Windsor Report and its moratoria that were subsequently adopted by all the Instruments of Communion; the framework of an Anglican Communion “Common Law” (as N. Doe and others have identified it), etc. ”” no longer exists in TEC.

Second, dioceses, bishops, priests, and laity who are currently members of TEC, but who do”‹ continue to hold their identity within the common Anglican elements noted above, need to set about, corporately and in a coordinated way, to work with the larger Anglican Communion for a way forward. That kind of work has, in the past, been subverted by a range of local and larger factors, including personal ones. Something different has to happen at this point, and both the American and Communion leadership concerned with this must work with a new consultative forthrightness and clarity.

Third, we believe that American Communion-minded Anglicans must formally call on Canterbury, and the Primates to respond to the need expressed above expeditiously and constructively. Past reticence, foot-dragging, deference to local politics, and simple failures to follow through are no longer viable ways forward.

Fourth, we urge friends and ecumenical partners to play a consultative, constructive and creative role in this process.

Insofar as TEC has claimed it has a life in the Anglican Communion it cares about, just to that degree it is necessary for the Anglican Communion to clarify what that might be, in the light of General Convention actions and the new self-understanding in NEC. General Convention has acted and declared its mind. What will the response of the Anglican Communion be?

Read it all, carefully

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

Bishop Dan Martins: A Word on Holy Matrimony

I write to you here on a subject that elicits strong emotions. None should be particularly surprised by what I say. Many”“most, perhaps”“will be relieved and grateful. Some will be grieved and angry. It is my place to absorb both the gratitude and the grief with steadfastness of conviction and an abundance of charity. I invite each of you to read with care, patience, and precision”“and then to also absorb that which pleases you and that which disturbs you with the confidence of your convictions and a measure of charity beyond that which you think yourself capable of. Let grace abound.

The recent 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church promulgated under the “trial use” canon liturgical rites that purport to solemnize marriage between persons of the same sex, effective this coming Advent. This was a profound and tragic mistake. Marriage has certainly evolved considerably over the millennia of human existence. Different cultures and different eras have adapted it in a variety of ways. But there has always been one constant, something so self-evidently obvious that it has scarcely merited mention, and that is the element of sexual complementarity”“a marriage requires the presence of both sexes.

Marriage is not merely a human social construct, an institution that we created and are therefore at liberty to recreate and redefine as seems right and expedient

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

Fulcrum Response to TEC’s 2015 General Convention

At its recent General Convention, The Episcopal Church (USA) redefined marriage in its canons and also authorised trial rites for same-sex marriage. Along with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Fulcrum believes this is a cause for “deep concern”.

SUPPORTING: Fulcrum welcomes the Salt Lake City Statement by the Communion Partners and supports all within TEC who continue to combine “a commitment to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters” with a determination to honour “the three moratoria requested in the Windsor Report and affirmed by the Instruments of Communion”. The Communion Partners are, along with ACNA bishops, graciously but firmly resisting what GAFCON identified as “the temptation to compromise with the surrounding culture” as are many of those in the Global South whose response to these developments includes the welcome affirmation that they “are against any criminalization of homosexuals”.

QUESTIONING: Fulcrum questions the Convention’s actions on various grounds:

– Have these major decisions been taken with enough theological debate and scrutiny either in TEC or across the Anglican Communion?

– Do these developments not disregard principles of mutual accountability and interdependence and the Principles of Canon Law Common To the Churches of the Anglican Communion (2008)?

– Has TEC not now made another canonical, liturgical and doctrinal departure from the Communion, beyond it previous action of blessing same-sex unions?

– Does redefining marriage in this way not go against the teaching of Scripture (including Jesus in Mt 19 and Mark 10), tradition and reason?

PARTICIPATING: Fulcrum encourages full participation in the Shared Conversations here in the Church of England but shares concerns about the process recently raised by the Church of England Evangelical Council’s Petertide Call to Prayer.

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

An Interesting Look back to 2007–Timothy B. Safford: William White in a Time of Turmoil

One factor in our current turmoil in The Episcopal Church and the larger Anglican Communion is the power and authority of bishops. One way to read the primates’ communiqué is as a rejection of the polity of The Episcopal Church that limits the power of bishops to make policy for the larger church. William White never proposed a distinct House of Bishops separate from the House of Deputies. For him, the clergy and laity meeting together, with their bishops, was adequate, as is still the case in diocesan conventions.

Born and educated in the democratic cauldron of Philadelphia, White did not object to the role of bishops elsewhere, but believed the new American church had an opportunity to return to its primitive roots when, before Constantine, the laity participated in the selection of their bishop, and before 1066, when the power of a bishop was not an extension of the power of the state. For the New England states, White’s new democratic Catholicism went too far. The clergy of Connecticut so objected to White’s proposal to have the first duly elected bishop of the United States consecrated by presbyters, temporarily, until proper Episcopal orders could be attained, they chose (without the vote of the laity) Samuel Seabury as bishop. He sailed for Canterbury, where he would not be consecrated, and then moved on to the non-juror bishops of Scotland.

Seabury believed that apostolic bishops, not a democratic process shared by clergy and laity, should determine the governance and worship of the emergent Episcopal Church. But for William White, who knew how difficult it would be to unify an Episcopal Church out of its very diverse parts, a method of choosing bishops was needed before the choosing could happen. For White, to do otherwise would be like electing George Washington the president, and then having him write the Constitution.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, TEC Parishes, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

TEC Bishop of Oklahoma discusses General Convention Same-Sex Marriage Vote

[Bishop Ed] Konieczky said he voted against a related measure that calls for a change in the the denomination’s canonical definition of marriage as a “union of a man and a woman.”

He said the resolution, which was eventually approved, calls for altering the current canon language to “gender-neutral language,” replacing “a man and a woman” with “both parties.”

In his letter to the Oklahoma diocese on the Sunday after the denomination’s vote on gay marriage, Konieczky said he voted against this language alteration because it places the denomination’s canon in conflict with language used in their Book of Common Prayer and the denomination’s constitution….

Konieczky said he did not think the denomination had done the necessary theological work to make the switch to gender-neutral language.

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