Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bishop John W. Howe's Proposal to the House of Bishops

BB NOTE: This is the full-fledged proposal, a very good one. What will be interesting to watch is how it is received by the full house. That will tell us more than we may care to know about the true state of the Episcopal Church. There is a sense for someone in my shoes, "burned once, burned twice" and so on. Trust is one of the major breaches in this entire crisis. Trust takes a lot of work to restore, but by the grace of God it can be restored, but sometimes only by His Grace. It's difficult not to look upon this with jaded eyes, hearing the voices of opposition even before the letter is opened by John Howe's fellow bishops. Still, that being said, one is entitled to hope - based not on the evidence we have with our eyes (for that sort of wisdom can result in great foolishness), but prayerfully with the eyes of the Holy Spirit (for that sort of foolishness can result in great wisdom). Let's watch this one not only very carefully, but very prayerfully. God bless you, my friend.

via e-mail:

To My Fellow Bishops:

We are deeply, tragically, horribly "stuck," not only in The Episcopal Church, but in the Anglican Communion as a whole. In the past three days we have heard again what we already knew, that we have damaged our relationships with many parts of the Communion by failing to give sufficient attention to "common discernment," and by moving ahead with decisions in the area of human sexuality before the rest of the Anglican family is able to accept those decisions. It is clear that the great majority of our Bishops cannot retreat from what they believe to be not only a matter of justice, but a "Gospel imperative." But, in the light of that, we are squandering members, finances, and energy in our deadlock.

What we need is a comprehensive solution that will end the international interventions, end the defections, end the property disputes, end the litigation, and end the ravaging of our witness and mission to the outside world simultaneously. I believe there is such a solution, but it will require great sacrifice on all sides.

I propose that we:

1) Put the Resolution of the "Windsor Bishops" to a vote. It calls for full compliance with the requests of the Primates in their Communiqué from Tanzania last February.

2) Those who cannot, for conscience' sake, abide by the acknowledged teaching and discipline of the Communion (Lambeth I: 10) will then voluntarily withdraw (at least temporarily) from the official councils of the Communion (as per Professor Katherine Grieb's much appreciated proposal to us in March at Camp Allen).

3) Those committed to the Communion's teaching and discipline will continue their participation in the councils of the Communion.

4) Perhaps we will then adopt the Archbishop of Canterbury's terminology of "constituent" and "associate" membership for our dioceses. "Constituent" = fully Windsor-compliant. "Associate" = committed to remaining Anglican, but unable to accept the Windsor proposals.

5) Those congregations and clergy which are in "associate" dioceses, who wish to continue in "constituent" membership, will be transferred to the oversight and care of "constituent" dioceses and Bishops - and vice-versa.

6) We will then request the Primates who have established extra-geographical oversight in this country to give that up, and fold any congregations under their care back into "constituent" dioceses.

7) We will endeavor to fold any American clergy who have been consecrated by international jurisdictions into Suffragan and Assistant Episcopal positions in "constituent" dioceses.

8) Without relinquishing their membership in The Episcopal Church, the "constituent" dioceses will elect their own Coordinator, and function as a parallel provincial entity for a period of 5 years (or perhaps 6 = two General Conventions, or 10 = the next Lambeth Conference).

9) After 5, 6, or 10 years we determine whether or not a "new consensus" has emerged within the Anglican Communion, and in the light of that determination -

10) We either recombine as a single jurisdiction or we fully separate.

Warmest regards in our Lord,

The Right Rev. John W. Howe
Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida
1017 East Robinson Street
Orlando, Florida 32801


Tregonsee said...

This is exactly the sort of "Velvet Divorce" which we need. It will only be a problem for those who desire, above all else, to enforce their own views on a single recognized Anglican body.

Anonymous said...

don't hold your breath

Anonymous said...

(1) It's a radical suggestion for reconcilliation of vastly differing groups, and so, worth consideration.

(2) It has, as any radical idea, enough to make absolutely everyone unhappy with it.

I can't see how those who believe that it's all a matter of justice, truth and the American Church's way, to be willing to be considered "associative" members. There will be a loud outcry of marginalizing the outcasts. For this to be considered at all, there would need to be a great sense of humility. But that's something that seems to be sadly lacking from many ...

(3) And so the sarcastic side of me wonders, what's to stop members of the House walking out a few minutes after a vote and saying they will not abide by any decisions that go against the Gospel's call for justice?

So, OK, my hope is in the Lord. In him alone do I trust these days ... But I am sad to say I've lost hope for a humble approach to the issues.

To Bishop Howe, here's a "Good on you, mate" for his proposal. It's clear it came after a long period of prayer and reflection. Oh that it would recieve the same attention from the rest of the house.

I suppose one can only hope at a time like this. And pray.

J.T. Griffin said...

Over and over again the clear message has been that unrepentent homosexuality is merely the presenting issue, that the substantive issue is the authority of Scripture. Has that message gotten lost? Has John Howe not been listening? Even if ECUSA agreed to everything Howe is suggesting it would be but the moral equivalent of arranging the deck chairs while ignoring the huge gash in the side of the ship. The heresy of bishops, like KJS, whose views deny the essence of the Christian Faith and abandon the hope that can be found in it alone, is still being ignored. It's not just about someone's distasteful sexual proclivities, but about whether Christ's church will remain tethered to his word, and proclaim him as Lord. Has this not been clear enough? No! No! A thousand times No!

Anonymous said...

This might have been a suitable solution immediately following GC2003, but too much has transpired since then to make it feasibile today. Also, having left TEC for CANA last winter, I have no desire to rejoin a denomination I consider apostate and reprobate.