— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) November 10, 2017
Category : Ministry of the Laity
One of the principal tasks of a leader is to communicate reality to those who wish to take his or her lead, and the reality that I observe all around me, not just in Church but in every sphere of life, is a mood of impatience with other points of view, of an increasing narrowing of vision and of a drawing back from the sort of commitment that creates sustainable and worthwhile communities. It is hardly an exaggeration to call these developments the triumph of individualism and I sometimes think that the word “individual” should be banned from Christian conversations and replaced by a word like “person” to reflect the complexity and value which each of us has – what we share as much as what we need.
This individualism which is so prevalent in our world and sometimes in our parishes is the enemy of reasoned debate and very far from the spirit of Anglicanism. Over the past ten years or so a new and very revealing way of opening a conversation or a debate has entered into our way of talking. “Speaking as an X.” somebody will say, whatever X might be. Speaking say as a woman or speaking as a progressive or speaking as a traditionalist or speaking as a unionist or as a republican – whatever it might be. But the intention of that way of opening a conversation is not to engage in an equal conversation but to establish some sort of privileged position. “I am X and you are not, so you couldn’t possibly understand.” It is an attempt to set up a wall against questions and it turns conversations into an encounter about power. The winner of the argument won’t be the person who has the strongest reasons but the one who has the morally superior identity and can express the greatest outrage at being questioned.
The key word to look out for is “offended”. Other people’s arguments aren’t weak or illogical – they are offensive. What replaces argument is a series of taboos rather like in the old paganism where only a small number of people, like the Druids or the shamans, were permitted to speak on certain matters or do certain things but nobody else not of that caste could interfere. Propositions become pure or impure, not true or false. Ask any of your children who have been to university recently about the matters which people simply aren’t allowed to debate any more or the beliefs which are denigrated because they are outside a certain limited range of reference.
As you may have guessed by now I believe that the antidote to this strange perversion of the liberal spirit is the smallness and the diversity of the parish. It is what I meant when I said last year that the parish is the place where we create local significance in a globalised world.
Today The Episcopal Church (TEC) filed their reply, as requested by the Court, to the motions by the Diocese of South Carolina and 28 parish churches for recusal and rehearing in the South Carolina Supreme Court, regarding its recent ruling in Appellate Case No. 2015-000622.
On behalf of the Diocese of South Carolina, Rev. Canon Jim Lewis issued the following statement:
“Today’s filing by The Episcopal Church argues in essence, that the Diocese and its parishes waived their right to recusal, by not requesting it earlier, and that the Constitutional issues raised in their motions are negligible or mistaken. The facts in this ruling, as it presently stands however, will not yield to such arguments. Justice Hearn’s bias and conflict of interest is clear to any impartial observer. The Constitutional issues for Freedom of Religion remain. As our petition for rehearing stated: “These are serious issues for Respondents, Appellants and for all religious organizations in South Carolina. This Court should grant a rehearing.” That continues to be our hope and Constitutional expectation from the Court.”
The Diocese is also providing the following background information and details:
• In 2012, the Diocese of South Carolina, along with 50 of its congregations voted by an 80% margin to disassociate from The Episcopal Church. In a complicated and sharply divided ruling consisting of five separate opinions, the S.C. Supreme Court appeared to rule on August 2 this year that parishes which had “acceded” to the national church are subject to a trust interest in their property by (TEC).
• The Constitutional due process requirements of the 14th Amendment are clear. No member of government should make decisions in matters in which they have a vested interest in the outcome. The Justice in this ruling who provided the deciding vote is a member of a TEC parish, Diocese and its national church. Under South Carolina law, that Justice is a legal party to this litigation. The bodies to which this Justice belongs as a member would be the beneficiaries of a nearly $500 million property windfall if this ruling stands. That is a massive conflict of interest. And it is the responsibility of the judge, under the South Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct, to reveal that issue, not for a party in the case to challenge the propriety of their actions.
• The expert affidavit testimonies of Nathan M. Crystal, Professor and Adjunct Professor of Ethics at the University of South Carolina and NYU Schools of Law and Lawrence J. Fox, Professor of Ethics at Yale University are unanimous in their conclusions. The due process rights of the Diocese of South Carolina have been violated by these actions and the only appropriate response is for this Justice to be recused from further participation in this case and their opinion vacated. As Lawrence Fox observes in his analysis, “This is not a close case.” The violations of due process here are not subtle. They are profound….
The Diocese of South Carolina Releases Resources for the Upcoming Diocesan Day of Prayer and Fasting
To assist individuals as they observe the Day of Prayer and Fasting on August 30, 2017, the Diocese has created a set of resources including a brief explanation of fasting, suggested methods for prayer, scripture readings and listings of our parishes, clergy, legal team, parish chancellors and standing committee.
Please make use of these optional resources if you find them helpful.
August 23, 2017
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
With the events in Charlottesville now being brought home to Beaufort with the racist graffiti painted on the Community Bowling Center, the people of God must speak out against the evils of racism. Racism is a heresy and a denial of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As Christians, we must condemn any group, ideology, or individual that denies that every human being is created in God’s image. As Revelation 7:9 reminds us, Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross has made it possible for every tribe, tongue, and nation to be gathered around the throne of God.
When we are confronted with the events of the past weeks, we should be led by the Lord to a posture of repentance. As Christ followers, we must not only stand against the outward, visible attacks resulting from racism, we must also confront the more subtle forms of racism that may exist within our own hearts. As Paul wrote in Romans 14:13, the Gospel demands that we must never put a “stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” It is with this humility we must also view our shared history so that our celebrations are not done so at the expense of oppressing others.
The Gospel tears down dividing walls of hostility (Ephesians 2:4) by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. In response to these actions in our community and nation, we want to encourage the people of St. Helena’s to pray and work for the healing of our land….
Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina Calls for a Day of Prayer+Fasting on August 30
To this end, I also want to give you an update on where things are within the Diocese of South Carolina. Since I last wrote regarding the recent South Carolina Supreme Court ruling I have met with the Standing Committee and our lead counsel, and, as perhaps you have already heard, we have decided to seek a rehearing from the state court. The filing for rehearing is due on September 1, 2017. Subsequent to this filing, it is assumed The Episcopal Church and its local diocese will then be granted time by the court to respond to our filing. So I want to remind you that this litigation is not over. There are several options for us to pursue and we shall consider them prayerfully and strategically. Please keep our legal team in your daily prayers. Their work is as demanding as it is vital.
Earlier in August our lead counsel, Mr. Alan Runyan, and I met with all the clergy of the diocese at a Special Clergy Day at St. Paul’s, Summerville; then, this last week Canon Lewis and I met with the active priests in each of our six deaneries for in-depth conversations. Your priests are aware of various possibilities and are key resources for you in understanding where we presently stand. But know they also face many challenges. Some of these rectors and vicars (and their spouses and children) live in church housing, as do Allison and I. Many that do not live in rectories are making payments on mortgages. So too, are the lay staff in our congregations and diocese. Some of our congregations are in the midst of capital campaigns or hold debt on their buildings. Frankly, each congregation of the diocese is in a distinct position regarding how this ruling may or may not affect their common life and future. While this is also the case for each rector, vicar or assistant, I have been amazed at the remarkable resilience of our clergy as they face the uncertainty of the future.
Certainly, this ruling has the potential to disrupt their lives and ministry, as well as the ministry and mission of the congregation they serve. Most face questions regarding whether they will lose their church buildings. Yet in the face of these challenges, they have been almost to a person stalwart, steadfast and trusting of God, even as they prayerfully explore the various options before them.
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) August 23, 2017
What the Rector of Redeemer, Orangeburg, South Carolina wrote his parish about the recent SC Supreme Court Ruling
Dear Members Of Our Redeemer Family,I would guess that by now you’ve heard that the SC Supreme Court issued their ruling on the appeal of the 2014 Circuit Court opinion that awarded the Diocese of South Carolina full rights to continue as the Diocese and gave full ownership of the churches properties to the individual churches. According to the ruling which you can download by tapping or clicking here, it looks like we may have lost some of what we gained under the 2014 Circuit Court opinion.As I understand it, part of the 2014 ruling has been reversed by a majority of justices, and another part remains as it because there was a 2-2 tie on that part. It appears that we [in Orangeburg] lost the right to keep our buildings.I’m writing today to ask you to fear not. I assure you, we are going to be alright. I’m asking you not to start “what-iffing” and please don’t start anticipating what we are going to do from here on out. We really don’t have enough information yet to even be anxious. Additionally, I have a personal rule of life I follow which goes like this: “Never make policy out of something that hasn’t yet happened.”Last night I got an email from Canon Jim Lewis saying that our legal team will appeal. Here’s part of that letter from Canon Lewis:We want you to further know that our legal team is planning a motion for a rehearing. There are multiple strong grounds for making that request and good reason to be hopeful about that outcome. In the meantime, please appreciate that legal council is still reviewing the implications for what is a very complicated ruling.
While this ruling is disheartening, we are a long way from the conclusion of this fight for the Diocese and its Parishes. Please keep the Diocese and its leadership in your prayers as they discern appropriate next steps.Additionally, I would ask you to stay away from gossip on the subject. Facebook and the various church blogs are often little more than gossip. At best they are one person’s opinion. Opinions are just that – opinions; they are not fact. The fact is, the sky is not falling. Another thing you might want to do is talk with Pinckney Thompson. Pinckney led the charge for us in 2014, and I believe that he’s got some great wisdom on the issue.In any event, God is still God, and I know He’s in charge of our future. Whatever may transpire, we are going to be alright. That much you can take to the bank. All we need to be doing at this point is praying for God to take care of it, because the Lord knows we surely can’t.My friend Chris Warner wrote these words to his congregation:Let me remind you; you don’t have to worry. Worry is optional misery! This court ruling is a situation that you cannot control. But you can control the amount you worry.If you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you know the One who created your future. His promises about your future give life, not worry.We clergy will have a special meeting next Wednesday, August 9 to hear from our lawyers and leadership. As soon as I get more information – reliable information – I’ll send it to you. Again – Please – Fear Not. This is not a time to worry. This is the time to pray. And pray with the assurance that God’s got it, and it’s going to turn out just fine. Thanks.God bless you, and See you Sunday!–The Rev. John Burwell
For some the Cathedral’s approach falls far, far short of what the church should do to welcome and celebrate same-sex couples. From this perspective, if this is all that can be offered to gay and lesbian couples within the current law then it is, in truth, unjust and insulting. If even this is not permitted by current teaching and guidance then all talk of “welcome” and “radical Christian inclusion” is simply pious, prelatical platitudes.
For a second group this solution represents an acceptable, even admirable, Anglican via media of legitimate pastoral accommodation and compromise for the sake of unity. It should, therefore, be commended more widely (as apparently it is to enquiring parish clergy in Southwark dioceses). It is a good example of what the Bishop of Chelmsford set out as his vision in his March Presidential Address to Diocesan Synod, leading to widespread concerns among evangelicals in the diocese:
Let me plain: LGBTI+ people are welcome in the churches of the Chelmsford diocese. They are welcome and we want to listen to them and work with them so as to find appropriate ways of expressing their love – for it is not good for human beings to be alone – in permanent, faithful, stable relationships. At the moment there is no consensus in the Church of England for those relationships to be formally blessed in Church, or for the Church of England to embrace same-sex marriage, but the current arrangements do welcome lay people and clergy into civil partnerships and there is no reason why prayers of thanksgiving for these relationships – perhaps a Eucharist – cannot be offered. We do not want same-sex couples to be cut off from the Church, and we want those who come to us seeking God’s blessing for their love to receive the guidance, challenge and support of the Church.
For this to happen, however, it either needs to be clearly shown that such services are (as the Cathedral claims but Davie disputes) within the bishops’ guidance or that guidance needs to be adapted to enable this form of accommodation.
For a third group, however, as the widespread concern among evangelicals in Guildford and Southwark dioceses shows, such services clearly reject the spirit and probably the letter of the church’s current teaching and guidance.
As the traumatic aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy continues to unfold, the rawness of the anger and grief of the victims of the disaster remans undimmed in the absence of obvious milestones to justice and restitution. A recent Guardian report has looked at the role of the faith communities in the vicinity of the tower since the very earliest hours of the tragedy. They not only co-ordinated emergency relief and ongoing needs such as bereavement and trauma counselling, but now act as a bridge of communication and outreach between local residents and the local authority. Churches and mosques are trusted as safe spaces to not only kick-start the very delicate task of reconciliation, but also in which to hear and hold the rawness of the pain and anger still swirling within the community. They have also offered quiet spaces where many people have come to simply reflect on what this has meant to them, and to remember in silent thought and prayer those who have died, been injured or made destitute. They know as well that this is no quick fix response, but that they will need to be doing this for many years to come – they are in it for the long haul, long after the media circus has left. In addition, these churches and mosques have also been platforms for a determined denunciation at the corporate greed and inequality that contributes to the housing crisis on cities like London.
Key to the power of these responses has been the renewed visibility of religion and religious identity (already very strong in the North Kensington area) to the external world, especially the media and politicians. One of the most telling remarks from the Guardian piece came from local Methodist minister Mike Long, who said that until a month ago, he rarely wore a dog collar. However, at 4.30 on the morning of the fire he put it on and has never taken it off at any public engagement since. ‘Now’ he says, ‘my role is much more public and I need to be identifiable’.
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.
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) July 11, 2017
(CT) Joy Beth Smith reviews Gina Dalfonzo’s book providing an insider’s perspective on the frustrations of long-term singleness in the Church
Somehow, despite many friends getting married, the single among us are still here, clinging to a community that seems to view us as more of a nuisance than a necessity. And we long for a place in the church—besides standing up at the altar while other people’s vows are being exchanged.
Gina Dalfonzo has lived this storyline as well, but a bit longer and with more grace than I have. As a lifelong single, she’s endured passive-aggressive advice, negligent married friends, hurtful generalizations, and the inevitable shaming that comes with prolonged singleness. The path just wide enough for one is familiar to her feet, though not always welcome. But bitterness has no place in Dalfonzo’s journey, and that alone is refreshing.
Her book, One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church, is the result of extensive interviews, hours of research, and years of living the harsh realities the book describes. Dalfonzo highlights the experiences of others as she discusses the state of singleness, touching on everything from the stereotypes and stigmas of the unmarried to the hope we have for a unified church that seeks to celebrate every phase of life.
How should Christians bring our perspective into the public debates about assisted dying?
Well for a start, we need to make sure that we are involved in these discussions, even if it’s just closer to home—in our offices, in our communities, among our friends, as well as in the national debate. We’ve got good news to share—so let’s get engaged. So much of this discussion assumes that some lives are just not worth living—and Christians need to say, no, every life has dignity.
Second, we’ve also got something important to say about suffering. Our culture can’t cope with suffering—it wants to reduce suffering as much as possible and at all costs. Christians say suffering is bad—it’s a result of the fall—but God can be wonderfully at work in and through it.
And third, I think one key assumption underlying the argument for assisted suicide is that there’s just nothing worse than being dependent on others. But a Christian worldview says that actually our dependence on God and on one another is fundamental to our humanity. It’s a good thing! Illnesses brings that dependence to the fore, and that can be mutually very uplifting—for the carer and the one being cared for—even in the midst of very hard times. My father found the loss of independence the hardest aspect of his illness to cope with. At the very end of his life he was paralysed and unable to speak. Those last few days were intensely sad and yet also, in a strange way, profoundly beautiful. He had given so much to us and now we in the family had the privilege of caring for him, stroking and kissing him, singing his favourite hymns and praying. Such dependence is not undignified. This is being human.
For Those of You in Lowcountry SC this weekend–Gloria Kwashi will B guest preacher on Sunday, Apr 30 at Christ St Pauls Yonges Island
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) April 28, 2017