Friday, September 19, 2008

Steve Wood reports on his dinner meeting with Presiding Bishop Schori

BB NOTE: Steve Wood, rector of St. Andrew's Mt. Pleasant in the Diocese of South Carolina was invited up to New York for dinner and a chat.

He was joined by other rectors of large parishes still in the Episcopal Church. In an e-mail, all he was told was that it would be “an afternoon of discussion with some of my colleagues from the some of the largest congregations in The Episcopal Church, followed by a reception and dinner at her (the PB’s) residence.”

Steve writes a frank report about about what happened - please read carefully. From

There were 7 rectors, inclusive, gathered from across both the geographical and theological landscape. The membership threshold of parishes represented seemed to be roughly 2500+ people. I knew one person personally, the others by reputation.

From my perspective, two of the rectors were of a conservative/re-asserting nature and five from a more to very liberal/progressive/reappraising position. And, of course, add to this mix the PB and her Canon, The Rev’d Dr. Chuck Robertson.

The conversation which ensued consisted primarily of the rectors speaking to one another with the PB and her Canon attentively listening, asking a few questions and very occasionally adding an opinion/perspective. Dinner was more free-flowing and social and less focused on church or theology.

What did I like?

I liked being in NYC. I only wish the Yankees had been in town.

I liked that each of us had a particular theological perspective and could clearly, if not persuasively, articulate our point of view. Knowing this allowed, I believe, conversation rather than posturing and debate.

I liked the opportunity to talk with people that have a different perspective than I have in a non-legislative venue.

What I did not like:

That the air-traffic delays due to storms in the NY metro area delayed the arrival of many of us.

That there was no agenda. Process for the sake of process is a purgatorial experience at best and hellish at worst.

That I did not know in advance the name of one person attending; while others around the table did have this knowledge.

That the comment from the invitation (”there may be issues that have emerged from the Lambeth Conference that could be of relevance in our discussions”) was not addressed or touched upon.

That the PB was not more direct or forthcoming with her thoughts, her beliefs, her perspectives.

That I cannot say what this meeting accomplished.

What I said:

I suggested that while there are many theories of the atonement, the death of Jesus was at least a substitutionary event, and any understanding of Jesus’ death that does not acknowledge the substitutionary nature of His death is inadequate.

I noted the irony that those, like myself, in TEC who stand in solidarity with the overwhelming majority of the Anglican Communion and as the theological descendents of biblical, classical and creedal Christianity have “lost” the battle in and for our church. All that remains is the question, “how punitive will the victors be with regard to the opposition (based on the depositions and lawsuits, it seems they have a mind for the total route of “dissenting” voices)?”

I suggested that questions of property could be addressed fairly and resolved equitably.

I noted that the visit of the PB to the Diocese of South Carolina must have been akin to playing a “road game” and commended her for her willingess to enter our arena. I stated that the conversation which ensued revealed the unbridgeable chasm that exists within TEC. I noted her own surprise and assessment at the conclusion of our clergy day that we were/are unable “to communicate with one another” (Diocese to PB and vice-versa - we communicate just fine with one another within the Diocese of SC).

I wondered why, in the face of 40 years of massive membership decline, that representatives from the national church, and parishes across the country, are not flocking to the ONE diocese (South Carolina) in the country that is growing faster than its population increase.

I suggested that two entirely different religions, with very different languages of faith, now exist under the same name. And that The Episcopal Church as revealed at the most recent General Conventions no longer remotely resembles The Episcopal Church we once knew - which is the source of great grief and sorrow for many of us.

What I think:

I think that the financial challenges facing the reorganization of the National Church offices could be addressed with a return to creedal Christianity and a cessation of the lawsuits.

I think that the conservative/re-asserting remnant will get their legislative clocks cleaned at General Convention 2009.

I think that B033 is going to be repealed at General Convention 2009.

I think that the marriage (in States where the legislature or courts have ruled this legal) or blessing of same-sex persons will be authorized at General Convention 2009.

I think that the 2009 General Convention will modify the “Dennis Canon”, giving the National Church property ownership (it’s hard to remember that until 1979 PARISHES “owned” their property - not the Diocese or National Church).

I think that many in leadership at the 2009 General Convention will be content to walk apart from the Anglican Communion.

I think that based on the experience with women’s ordination the 2009 General Convention will debate, and defeat, a “conscious clause” with regard to same-sex ordinations and blessings/marriages.

I think that the above actions will render it impossible for anyone left from “my side” to remain within TEC (though, of course, some will).

What I hope:

That a new North American Anglican Province is formed in the very near future.

1 comment:

TLF+ said...

Thanks for the report. Thanks be to God for Steve's witness... even though I remain sad that the PBs ears are closed to it (she "can't understand").

To answer one of his questions with a question:

Why would people enthralled with gay sex, abortion and the whole culture of death look to a vital, growing diocese? They're actually aroused, in some perverse way, by the decay and death of the church.