The progressives are filled with the most incredible tinfoil hat conspiracies and seem to be in massive withdrawal that they don't have David Anderson to kick around anymore. So now they turn their poison pens toward the Communion Partners - of all people! The Communion Partners? They have got to be kidding. It simply just astonishes me - is this actually a parody? We're talking about a group that includes Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of Rhode Island for goodness sake. What in tarnation has been dropped in the Pasadena water?
Remember, the Communion Partners want to stay in the Episcopal Church. Remember that? Remember? They want to stay! Remember the Big Tent? What happened, did it get blown out to sea? The outrage reminds me of someone who has gotten caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar.
A "statement" put out by the activists themselves reads like a screed, a parody of itself, breathless and self-righteous. Apparently, it seems it's time to pull our Tin Foil Hat back off the shelf and blow off the dust.
Why are the progressive activists in such a frantic frothing state? I mean, remember - it's Easter Day in the Episcopal Church, circa 2003. They got what they wanted - why all the wrath, all the wailing, all the gnashing of teeth?
Apparently the Communion Partners have systematically and methodically made the case that the Presiding Bishop has been operating both in the House of Bishops and in the United States courts completely beyond her canonical authority. Busted. She's off the reservation. But instead of systematically and methodically making the case that the Communion Partners are somehow sadly mistaken, the progressive activists are screaming "Off with their heads!" Got to wonder about that.
Clearly, the progressive activists are outraged that the statement will be entered into evidence in court and undermine the litigious strategies now being employed by the Presiding Bishop herself. Oops. The case is made extraordinarily well in the document published on the All Saints Pasadena Episcopal Church website and instead of responding reasonably and succinctly to the arguments made, they have a meltdown instead, brandishing copies of personal and private e-mail conversations as though we don't actually live in a free country after all.
Once again, we have evidence that if one does not tow the official line, if one dares to go against the status quo, then one will be branded as disloyal - or worse, "manipulating a schism driven agenda" to "undermine the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church." Yikes! The former Archbishop of Canterbury wasn't kidding when he warned the Communion Partners last week that regarding the remnant orthodox wing of The Episcopal Church “all signs suggest that over time they are likely to be cleaned out of TEC.”
Now what else would cause such a furious outcry, to even to publish what appears to be the final draft of Communion Partners Statement on the website of the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena? What do they fear?
UPDATE: The Anglican Communion Institute is requesting from the Rev. Mark Harris, a member of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church (who apparently is the one who made private correspondence public) "that he indicate, given his role on the Executive Council, what the justification for this publication of email correspondence not addressed to him is; and further, why he did not discuss the matter of private emails with the principals before releasing them on his blog and passing them on to his colleagues elsewhere. We request that Mr. Harris explain to the public how he obtained access to this confidential communication."
Read the entire request here.
PM UPDATE: The Bishops Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church is now officially published and available at the Covenant website here. The signers are:
The Right Reverend James M. Adams, Jr.
Bishop of Western Kansas
The Right Reverend Peter H. Beckwith
Bishop of Springfield
The Right Reverend William C. Frey
Assisting Bishop of Rio Grande; Retired Bishop of Colorado
The Right Reverend Alden M. Hathaway
Retired Bishop of Pittsburgh
The Right Reverend John W. Howe
Bishop of Central Florida
The Right Reverend Russell E. Jacobus
Bishop of Fond du Lac
The Right Reverend Paul E. Lambert
Bishop Suffragan of Dallas
The Right Reverend Mark J. Lawrence
Bishop of South Carolina
The Right Reverend Edward S. Little II
Bishop of Northern Indiana
The Right Reverend William H. Love
Bishop of Albany
The Right Reverend D. Bruce MacPherson
Bishop of Western Louisiana
The Right Reverend Edward L. Salmon, Jr.
Retired Bishop of South Carolina
The Right Reverend Michael G. Smith
Bishop of North Dakota
The Right Reverend James M. Stanton
Bishop of Dallas
Bishop of Texas
NOTE: There are four additional Diocesan bishop added to the authorized final statement that do not appear on the early draft uploaded to the All Saints Pasadena website: The Right Reverend Russell E. Jacobus, Bishop of Fond du Lac; The Right Reverend Edward S. Little II, Bishop of Northern Indiana, and The Right Reverend Michael G. Smith, Bishop of North Dakota. Two diocesan bishops who who were listed on the All Saints Pasadena website but do not appear on the final authorized statement: The Right Reverend Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of Rhode Island and The Right Reverend John C. Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee. Guess it didn't matter how to spell "Geralyn" after all.
BUT WAIT, THERE's MORE: The Rt. Rev'd Jack Iker, Bishop of the Diocese of Ft. Worth, has posted his gratitude over at StandFirm:
THURSDAY UPDATE: Yet another rather humorous press release from the "Chicago Consultation," which we noted earlier has been elevated to an official delegation out of the Presiding Bishop's office to General Convention (ahead of the actual dioceses and bishops themselves, which we noted here). This is not just some outside lobbying group (it doesn't actually have very many people associated with it, especially when one compares it to the amount of people associated to the bishops and dioceses that make up the Communion Partners) - but it has direct access to the Presiding Bishop and her office.
What we see now are lines being drawn between what has actually been the traditional polity of the Episcopal Church - the parishes and dioceses - with the centralized activism now being run from the Presiding Bishop's office in Manhattan. This "press release" could not come overtly from815, and so goes through "activist" organizations such as the "Chicago Consultation."
The question I would raise here is: who is the audience for this press release? My guess is that it's the judges in the litigation and not the Communion Partners themselves. The division in TEC now appears to be between the Dioceses that want the Anglican Covenant ratified and the Dioceses and 815 that do not, for it will diminish the centralized power of 815 and return that to the local diocese and parish.
The headline is probably unintentionally hilarious. I must say, I am tiring of the phrase "saddened and dismayed," but of course our own version here in Virginia is "saddened, but not surprised." After a while these press releases start writing themselves.
CHICAGO CONSULTATION URGES COMMITMENT
TO EPISCOPAL CHURCH POLITY AND TRADITION
CHICAGO, April 23--The Chicago Consultation issued this statement from its co-convener, Ruth Meyers, in response to the recent statement of a group of bishops associated with the Anglican Communion Institute:
The Chicago Consultation is saddened and dismayed to learn that our brothers and sisters in Christ who are members of the Anglican Communion Institute seek to abandon the historical polity of the Episcopal Church and provide support to lawsuits that drain the church’s resources for mission and spirit for ministry,” said Meyers, who is professor of liturgics at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a deputy from the Diocese of Chicago.
“The Episcopal Church was founded shortly after the American Revolution. In keeping with that democratic tradition, the Church’s constitution and canons and its historical polity provide us with both the strength and stability of the General Convention’s governing and legislative processes as well as the local ability for dioceses to discern and elect the bishops who can best serve them and make other decisions about their common life. We believe that these canons have served us well, are essential to the Church’s continued health and bind together the strongest elements of our common spiritual heritage and tradition of democracy.
“Our Anglican tradition is blessed by the ability to share common prayer and sacraments while holding different interpretations of scripture and different opinions and practices. Our diversity reflects God’s creation and allows us to proclaim the Gospel in many forms to people in many settings.
“We are especially dismayed that this attempt to undermine the Church’s governance involves leaders who have held positions on the Communion-wide body that produced the proposed Anglican Covenant. The various drafts of the Covenant have each created impediments to the full inclusion of all baptized Christians in the Communion and thereby undermine God’s gift of unity. Regrettably, we must now question the full intent of these documents.
“We pray that our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion Institute will return to embrace our common tradition and polity and recognize the reconciling power of the Spirit to make all things new.”
The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. We believe that our baptismal covenant requires this.
The Chicago Consultation believes that, like the church’s historic discrimination against people of color and women, excluding GLBT people from the sacramental life of the church is a sin. Through study, prayer and conversation, we seek to provide clergy and laypeople across The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion with biblical and theological perspectives that will rid the church of this sin.
ANOTHER UPDATE: In addition, the Bishop of Central Florida, John Howe, has now authorized publication of his posting on the HoB/HoD listserve yesterday in response to a challenge.
How is this a tawdry story? The Presiding Bishop has been promoting a version of the structure of The Episcopal Church which simply cannot be supported either constitutionally or historically. The Bishops who have signed today's Statement to the contrary are not willing to have the structure of our church subverted either by fiat or by court action.
We have not one iota of desire to promote schism. Our desire is to protect our constituent membership in the Anglican Communion. The Executive Council has said that the only body that can act upon the Anglican Covenant is the General Convention. We do not believe that is accurate. We believe that dioceses and even parishes could decide to "opt into" it.
Please explain to all of us how the desire of an Anglican diocese to remain Anglican is a "tawdry story."
The private emails that Mark Harris has posted do not reveal any attempt or desire to subvert the authority of the Bishop of Colorado. They envision a possible visitation that would take place only with his explicit permission and agreement.
I am saddened that a member of the Executive Council would publish emails that were not addressed to him, without even discussing them with the principals involved.
It is interesting to be called a "Cretin" by Susan Russell. To my knowledge none of us have ever used any such epithets against those with whom we disagree. (It is good to be in such an "inclusive" church!)
Warmest regards in our Lord,
The Right Rev. John W. Howe
Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida
Tip of the tinfoil to Greggy at SF.
THURSDAY NIGHT UPDATE: 815 has now responded:
Communion Partners statement challenges Episcopal Church polity
Group's conclusions draw swift criticism A statement released April 22 and signed by Episcopal bishops and clergy challenges the polity of the Episcopal Church by suggesting that dioceses are autonomous entities and independent of General Convention, the church's main legislative body.
The statement, which drew swift criticism for being an attack on the church's governance, was signed by 15 active and retired Episcopal Church bishops and endorsed by three Episcopal clergy who are members of the conservative Anglican Communion Institute. It was leaked online April 22 and officially released later the same day. It suggests that Episcopal Church dioceses are "not subject to any metropolitical power or hierarchical control" but rather "the ecclesiastical authorities in our dioceses are the Bishops and Standing Committees; no one else may act in or speak on behalf of the dioceses or of the Episcopal Church within the dioceses."
In light of their conclusions about the church's governance, the group's statement also claims that individual dioceses are constitutionally entitled to sign onto the proposed Anglican covenant, a set of principles intended to bind the Anglican Communion provinces in light of recent disagreements over human sexuality issues and theological interpretation.
"We have noted with increasing concern statements by leaders and bodies of The Episcopal Church questioning our participation in the proposed Anglican covenant and opining that dioceses may not sign the covenant if The Episcopal Church as a whole were to refrain from doing so on behalf of all its dioceses," the statement says. "Any attempt to prevent willing dioceses from signing the covenant would be unconstitutional and thereby void."
One of the statement's endorsers, the Rev. Ephraim Radner, is a member of the Covenant Design Group, the internationally representative committee that is writing and revising the covenant text.
Those who signed the statement are also members of the Communion Partners initiative, an informal association of bishops and clergy that have reiterated their commitment to "remaining faithful members of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion."
The association has previously said it intends to provide "a visible link to the Anglican Communion" for concerned dioceses and parishes, "to provide fellowship, support and a forum for mutual concerns between bishops," and establish "a partnership to work toward the Anglican covenant and according to Windsor Principles."
While the church's public affairs office declined to comment, the group's recent statement has been challenged by those who believe its suggestions on Episcopal Church polity are flawed.
"The General Convention is superior to any given individual diocese, and establishes laws that limit what the dioceses can do," said the Rev. Tobias Haller, a member of the Brotherhood of Saint Gregory and a General Convention deputy from the Episcopal Diocese of New York, in an April 22 blog post. "The fact that this limitation comes about because of the agreement of the dioceses acting together in convention is not an indication of their individual autonomy -- as the paper suggests -- but is rather proof of their submission to the jointly taken actions of the whole body."
Haller further noted that "an individual diocese cannot even elect a bishop of its own without the consent of the rest of the church, either through General Convention, or ... by a vote of the other diocesan bishops and standing committees."
"This is what a hierarchical entity looks like: the constituents agree to be bound by the decisions of the group, even when they are in the minority, and disagree with the decisions. They relinquish their autonomy in order to be part of a larger entity, to whose decisions they submit," he adds.
An April 23 statement from the Rev. Ruth Meyers, co-convener of the Chicago Consultation, expressed dismay "that this attempt to undermine the church's governance" involves a leader who has held a position "on the communion-wide body that produced the proposed Anglican covenant. The various drafts of the covenant have each created impediments to the full inclusion of all baptized Christians in the communion and thereby undermine God's gift of unity. Regrettably, we must now question the full intent of these documents."
The Chicago Consultation, made up of Episcopal and other Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.
"We pray that our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion Institute will return to embrace our common tradition and polity and recognize the reconciling power of the Spirit to make all things new," said Meyers, a former professor at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois who will soon join the faculty at Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California.
IntegrityUSA, a leading advocacy organization for LGBT Episcopalians, condemned the bishops' statement as an "attempt to undermine the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church."
"Though couched in ecclesiastical language, the statement is an entirely political document," the April 22 statement said. "It attempts to lay the foundation for an unprecedented power grab by anti-gay bishops who will assert that they are not bound by the Episcopal Church's governing body: General Convention. These bishops seek to increase their own authority, while diminishing the role of the laity and clergy in the governance of the church."
Integrity President Susan Russell said, "We have been given a look at 'the men behind the curtain' manipulating a schism driven agenda while professing to work transparently for reconciliation."
Haller said that the statement "makes the curious argument that because the dioceses [formerly states] that formed the original Episcopal Church were independent prior to entering into union with each other, they somehow maintain that independence. This neglects the significance of what union means. One might just as well say that because a couple were single before marriage, they retain their independence afterward.
"In short, the idea that dioceses are autonomous, and not part of a clearly defined hierarchy, is entirely specious," Haller adds. "That our hierarchy is not as rigid or monolithic as that of, say, the Holy Catholic Church of Rome, and has a more federal structure, in no way alters the fact that there is a central governing body, which, even if it be made up entirely of representatives of the several dioceses, is a body to which those dioceses covenant to submit themselves, without qualification."
A series of emails, leaked by Episcopal Church Executive Council member and Diocese of Delaware priest the Rev. Mark Harris, highlight a portion of the conversation in the lead up to the group's statement being released. The communication demonstrates a desire to deploy a conservative bishop to work with some members and congregations in the Diocese of Colorado, but suggests an unwillingness to accept a more progressive bishop to serve in a conservative diocese, notably South Carolina.
The Integrity statement noted that the Communion Partners initiative had originally "pledged to work transparently and in cooperation with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in attempting to reconcile those of differing theological views. These emails make clear that the group instead was working surreptitiously to undermine the bishop of Colorado, and seeking to set up a system of episcopal oversight controlled entirely by the Communion Partners."
The Rev. Canon Christopher Seitz, director of the Anglican Communion Institute, an endorser of the Communion Partners statement and one of the email correspondents, said in an April 22 statement: "Mr. Harris has put before the public email communications that are not addressed to him, but are fully consistent with this larger goal of maintaining the witness of the Anglican Communion and the role of The Episcopal Church as integral within that. The statement that be refers to, signed by bishops of this church, is equally fully consistent with this position on the place of The Episcopal Church within the worldwide Anglican Communion. We would request that he indicate, given his role on the Executive Council, what the justification for this publication of email correspondence not addressed to him is; and further, why he did not discuss the matter of private emails with the principals before releasing them on his blog and passing them on to his colleagues elsewhere. We request that Mr. Harris explain to the public how he obtained access to this confidential communication."
Despite its claims about Episcopal Church polity, the group reaffirms in its statement the preamble to its constitution that "identifies continuing constituent membership in the Anglican Communion as one of the fundamental conditions on which our governing agreement is based. The failure to maintain that membership would plunge The Episcopal Church into a constitutional crisis."
The statement was signed by diocesan bishops James M. Adams, Jr. of Western Kansas, Peter H. Beckwith of Springfield, John W. Howe of Central Florida, Russell E. Jacobus of Fond du Lac, Mark J. Lawrence of South Carolina, Edward S. Little II of Northern Indiana, William H. Love of Albany, Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana, Michael G. Smith of North Dakota, James M. Stanton of Dallas, and Don A. Wimberly of Texas; as well as Bishop Suffragan Paul E. Lambert of Dallas, Retired Bishop Edward L. Salmon, Jr. of South Carolina, Assisting Bishop William C. Frey of Rio Grande (retired bishop of Colorado); and Retired Bishop Alden M. Hathaway of Pittsburgh. The statement was also endorsed by Seitz, Radner and the Rev. Dr. Philip Turner of the Anglican Communion Institute.