Wednesday, May 27, 2009

61 clergy defrocked by "shadow" Episcopal bishop for moving to Anglican province

From here - the article is incredibly biased and skewed so not sure how the AP generated the article. Of course, if one searches "Episcopal" on Twitter since yesterday, one learns about lot about the current public perception of The Episcopal Church in the United States. Fascinating indeed.
FRESNO, Calif.—National leaders of the Episcopal Church have ousted 61 clergy who aligned with a former bishop from the Diocese of San Joaquin who sought to break with the national church.

Read it all here.

UPDATE: The Bishop of San Joaquin has issued a statement:
May 27, 2009

It is with a mixture of sadness and joy that we received today a letter from Bishop Lamb wherein he purports to depose 36 priests and 16 deacons as of May 22, 2009. It is heartbreaking that The Episcopal Church chooses to take such a punitive action and condemn 52 active clergy with “Abandonment of the Communion” when all of these men and women are recognized around the world as priests and deacons in good standing within the Anglican Communion. Clearly, the traditional understanding of what it means to be a member of this historic Communion has been tragically altered by this action; and thereby The Episcopal Church needlessly isolates itself from their brothers and sisters around the world.

The Diocese of San Joaquin continues to reach out to the central third of California in active ministry. It will become one of 23 founding Dioceses, along with 5 more in formation, within the new Province of the Anglican Church in North America at its first Provincial Assembly in Bedford, Texas, June 22-25. Despite The Episcopal Church’s disregard for valid Anglican Orders and ongoing legal actions against us, the bold vision to bring all to an ever expanding knowledge and joy of the Lord Jesus Christ remains unchanged within the diocese. We rejoice over the growing number of ministries seeking to join themselves with us in the mission field God has put before us.

We are, however, grieved that the leadership of The Episcopal Church feels compelled to create this unprecedented division between the ministries of The Episcopal Church and their brothers and sisters throughout the rest of the Anglican Communion. For our part, we continue to recognize the orders of those who are properly ordained according to the Book of Common Prayer and who have chosen to continue to serve Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior within The Episcopal Church. May God bless all of us who share a common vision of ministry.

+John-David Schofield, Bishop
The Diocese of San Joaquin
UPDATE: Anglican Curmudgeon has unearthed some very interesting information, from here. Here's an excerpt:

Bishop Lamb Confirms Lack of Quorum to Elect Him

Bishop Lamb has finally provided proof that there was not a sufficient quorum of clergy canonically resident in the Diocese of San Joaquin who were present at the "Special Diocesan Convention" which was held in Lodi a year ago March 29. Today he acknowledged that last Friday and this Tuesday, he signed certificates with the intent of deposing 61 clergy in the Diocese for having "abandoned the Communion of this Church" in leaving to follow the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield and his Diocese out of ECUSA. (H/T: VirtueOnLine.)

Now anyone can do the math. According to the contemporary report of the "special convention" in Episcopal Life, there were just twenty-one clergy present at the meeting. Twenty-one present, plus sixty-one absent (and now "deposed"): that makes eighty-two total clergy canonically resident in the Diocese as of March 29, 2008, exactly as I reported here on April 28, 2008 in this post. Diocesan Canon III, section 3.01, which Bishop Lamb and the meeting claim to have followed, provides (with my emphasis added):

A quorum shall consist of one-third of all the Clergy entitled to seats and votes together with at least one (1) Lay Delegate from each of one-third of all the Parishes and Missions entitled to representation. If a quorum be not present at any Convention, no business shall be transacted except that of adjournment from time to time until a quorum shall be present.
Quick, anyone: 81 is 3 x 27, so what would be the minimum quorum for 82 clergy to meet at a legal Special Convention of the Diocese? That's right---twenty-eight were required to be present for lawful business to be transacted on March 29, 2008.

And now we come to one, giant, glorious chicken-and-egg problem into which Bishop Lamb, the group he is leading, and ECUSA have gotten themselves. Let me lay out the logic for you:

A. Without a quorum present, Bishop Lamb was not lawfully confirmed as Provisional Bishop of the "Diocese of San Joaquin," under its own canons. (Nor was the "Standing Committee" voted on at the same meeting lawfully elected, either.)

B. Since Bishop Lamb was not lawfully confirmed in that position, he has no canonical authority to depose the 61 clergy he claims to have deposed.

C. Therefore, as far as the "Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin" claims to be a lawful diocese of ECUSA, and one that follows its own Constitution and Canons, those same 61 clergy are still lawfully canonically resident in that Diocese, and no lawful Convention, Special or Annual, can be held without at least seven of them being present.

So until the "Diocese of San Joaquin" properly reconstitutes itself under ECUSA's own Constitution and Canons (which will need to be amended for the occasion), it has no Bishop and no Ecclesiastical Authority---and no way of lawfully electing one.
Read it all here.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

I read the article and couldn't find the reference to the "shadow" Episcopal Bishop. What is that all about?

NoVA Scout

Dale Matson said...

bb
Bishop John David has a response on our blog site.
http://www.sanjoaquinsoundings.blogspot.com/
There is not much to say other than the damage keeps mounting and the PR more difficult for TEC.

BabyBlue said...

The shadow Bishop is the one who deposed the clergy. The California Courts will decide whether an Episcopal Diocese has the right to vote to leave General Convention.

bb

Anonymous said...

OK, let me try again: Who is the Shadow Bishop and how does one acquire that status? Is this an official title or does it reflect something along the lines of shadow cabinet ministers in England - opposition members who track the portfolios of the official ministers? Or is it something altogether different?

NoVA Scout

BabyBlue said...

Jerry Lamb is the Shadow Bishop, put in place merely for the Schori's administration of litigation. It's not about caring for the people of Fresno - it's all about the lawsuits.

He's not really the Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin. The Diocese of San Joaquin voted according to the Constitution and Canons to leave General Convention. What Katharine Jefferts Schori has done is as if Al Gore, having lost the Presidency, decides to setup his own White House down the road instead. You can feel for the guy if he'd done it - but he didn't and that makes all the difference.

Gore went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize - he didn't throw a tantrum, he didn't set up a shadow while his case went to the Supreme Court, and in the end found another way, a quite creative way to express his convictions and history will be mighty kind to him for it. Don't think we'll be seeing that for Schori or Lamb any time soon.

As we often say here, even in the middle of the worst, the most horrific period in American history, when Bishops were actually on the battlefield and killing fellow Episcopalians - laity and clergy - even then, when General Convention was held and the southern dioceses withdrew, the North merely marked them absent. Imagine that.

bb

Anonymous said...

I assume, however, that unless every last soul of the Diocese of San Joaquin decided to leave the Episcopal Church of the United States, there remains an Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. I take it that the action by Bishops Lamb, Schori have force only within the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and that those who departed are free to constitute themselves as whatever they are within their new organization, according to its rules. So I would think this is a bit of a non-event, merely confirming the reality on the ground.

Scout

Dale Matson said...

"Jerry Lamb is the Shadow Bishop, put in place merely for the Schori's administration of litigation. It's not about caring for the people of Fresno - it's all about the lawsuits."
Rest assured that the EDSJ will only exist as a tool of TEC and will promptly be folded into another Dicoese when the litigation is over. It is an ongoing financial liability to TEC who has "loaned" it half a million dollars to litigate against JDS. IF they get the buildings, they will have to sell most of them because there aren't parishioners in the EDSJ to fill them. In reality, when KJS speaks of "legacy" the word should be translated as "money".

Anonymous said...

Keep beating the "shadow" bandwagon. Disregard the feelings of those who remain faithfully in the Episcopal, calling their choice to remain a "shadow" event. That's the Christian thing to do.

Your PR machine is impressive and reminds one of other such "with us or against us" operations.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

Bp Schofield is, I think, wrong in his assertion that these clergy are recognized around the world by churches of the Communion. The Anglican Communion does not list San Joaquin as a diocese of the Southern Cone. The question of the standing of these clergy is still undecided.
While I am not happy about decisions to depose clergy for abandoning the communion of the Episcopal Church, I find it hard to argue that that wasn't what these clergy did.

BabyBlue said...

The point that we're dealing with now, though, is that the "spirit of litigation" is at the heart of decision-making now - a litigious mind. I don't think anyone can make a reasonable argument that the "spirit of litigation" is running rampant through the church, with global ramifications. It's certainly not contained - as these ill-advised actions illustrate quite well. Bishop Lamb is getting terrible advice.

The point of using the Civil War as a point of contrast is that was a far further horrific - no other word - conflict than even the one we are having now (though theologically the issues could run as deep) and the response then was amzingly far more in the Quaker model. Instead of inflicting more pain - which this action by Bishop Lamb certainly does - the Episcopal Church chose to turn the other cheek and mark the Southern dioceses absent. I still find that remarkable. Those were slaveholding dioceses, for God's sake, how could they do that?

But in doing so, they left a foundation for reconciliation, for forgiveness, for peace. The Episcopal Church was one of the few denominations that didn't suffer a long-lasting division, as some denominations did well into the 20th century.

Litigation of this kind we are enduring is violent. It is violent. It brings out the worst in people - including people who are charged with caring for the spiritual welfare of others. This is a fight to the death, not to seek resolution but to break the opposition. I continue to pray for another way.

Defrocking clergy who have followed their bishop who has been received by an Anglican Archbishop in high-level leadership in the Anglican Communion and remains in full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury does not accomplish anything positive - far from it. It's chilling. It's a litigious mind, not the Mind of Christ. Hundreds of Episcopal clergy have now been defrocked through such litigious thinking, the evidence is clear to all Americans who read these headlines.

Where is the Mind of Christ?

bb

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

bb-

We will have to disagree about this, I hope with mutual respect. I have elsewhere argued that bishops and dioceses have a legal responsibilty to protect the gifts that have been given to parishes and dioceses of the Episcopal Church. If the only way to fulfill that responsibility is to resort to the civil courts, that is sad but, I think, unavoidable. My Quaker-Episcopal mother would, I think, be rightl;y concerned if the gifts that she gave to the Episcopal Church were surrendered to another religious organization.

I would pose anoth question: where is the Mind of Christ in schism?

redleg82 said...

When a person or persons find their religious convictions utterly compromised by the Church to the point where they feel their souls are in peril and that further association would require participation in and support for heresies and heretics then schism doesn't seem so terrible a label.

Allen said...

Don't you know that a benevolent dictatorship trumps the rule of Constitution and Canons every time? Schori and her 815 acolytes have no authority unless they invent it or steal it. They certainly can't earn it or maintain it. Or do over 100,000 exiting members tell another story?
Or the fact that we lose a diocese a year? And that GC '09 is going to be an orgy of insatiable liberals destroying this Church? When you can't keep your leadership you just change the rules. Got it? Questions?

Stop this fiddling with the shadows and look at the glaring light. This Church is being led by liars.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

I have found all the consternation about deposing clergy who have left ECUSA a bit odd. As I have asserted, and as I thik should be obvious, all that these actions are is an acknowledgement by ECUSA that these clergy are no longer clergy in this church. As far as I know, few, if any,of these clergy have availed themselves of the canonical processes to challenge the depositins. As far as I know, few,if any, of these clergy have requested transfers to other churches of the Communion. Their message seems to be, "ECUSA's bishops have no authority over us." That being said, what is so terrible about those same bishops saying, "Very well,you have abandoned the communion of ECUSA and are no longer members of its clergy."? This recognition of the facts does them no harm. Neither they nor the bishops with whom they have aligned themselves care what ECUSA bishops say. Those of us wh remain in ECUSA might wish that the separation had been more amicable, but those who have left have made choices that made amicable separations more difficult.

One other point on deposing clergy. I am a presbyter only in relationship to the Church. It is not personal property, but an office with which I have been entrusted by ECUSA. Were I to leave without receiving a transfer to another church in the Communion, I would no longer be a presbyter.

The analogy of the situation during the Civil War is not as helpful as bb might think. It is one thing to ignore the separation of dioceses in the Confederacy, quite another to ignore attempts to convert Episcopal dioceses into something else in regions where ECUSA still has loyal members and congregations.

Dale Matson said...

Fr. Weir,
"I have found all the consternation about deposing clergy who have left ECUSA a bit odd"
Does it seem at all odd to you that such unprecedented clergy depositions are taking place in TEC? Do you have any consternation about that? Is this merely housekeeping? TEC is only in the middle of this process. Does this bring into question the possibility that TEC has some serious internal problems?

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

Dale,

I am sad that so many Episcopalians have chosen to leave. I had hoped that they could remain in spite of our differences. However, I respect their decisions. What I find odd is the consternation of those who somehow think it is wrong to respect their decisions and formally recognize that they are no longer members or clergy of the Episcopal Church.

I recognize that the real issue is the question of what the Bible says about committed same-sex relationships and that some people, and I don't know you, Dale, well enough to include you in this group, are so upset about the convictions of the Presiding Bishop and others on that question that any action the PB or diocesans take is greeted with automatic hostility. Would the deposing of clergy who left to become Roman Catholics or Methodists bring the same angry reaction? I think not.

BabyBlue said...

Daniel, the deal here is that the clergy, bishops, and laity are still Anglicans - for centuries Anglicans have recognized the orders and confirmations of one another as belonging to the same communion, the same DENOMINATION. We are not simply another Protestant denomination as Anglicans, as you well know, but also enjoy the Catholic understanding that - for example - our bishops are all in communion together, that they belong to the same denomination. We swap our bishops easily. Canada just sent their runner-up for Archbishop over to New Zealand. Pittsburgh brought a Church of England bishop. Church of England sends bishops to the Southern Cone.

Our denomination is separated into different provinces. In this case, he clergy, dioceses, bishops, and laity have left one province for another. They haven't left the denomination. Their orders are valid - no, something else is driving these painful actions.

The only reason these depositions and defrockings are going on is to fuel the lawsuits. That's it. It's the only reason (though I suppose a case could be made the retribution is also a factor, I pray this is not the case). The fact remains that the rest of the communion - no, not even Rowan Williams, recognizes what TEC has been doing to those bishops and clergy who have been deposed. Rowan Williams still recognizes that Bob Duncan is a bishop, because, of course, he still is. Schori's "deposition" of Duncan was purely political - and everyone knows it - including the Archbishop of Canterbury who, with his wife, had Bishop Duncan and his wife over to his home in England for tea. Don't think BIshop Schori's gotten that invitation, now has she? What does one make of that?

bb

BabyBlue said...

Do we honestly think for a second that Yankee Episcopalians just "ignored" the rebel Episcopalians in the South, even as southern Episcopal bishops became Generals and led their men to fight and kill Northern Episcopalians on the battlefield? My southern family was decimated by that war - the scars are still in the family to this day. The idea that Yankees ignored anyone is as plausible as Sherman planting flowers in Atlanta for because they're pretty.

No, something else drove those Northern Episcopalians to simply mark the South "absent." Whatever it was, it's missing now.

bb

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

Perhaps "ignore" was the wrong word and perhaps there was something then that is missing now. If I were to take a guess at what is missing it is mutual respect. The dismissive manner in which we often treat those with whom we disagree is a scandal. I have witnessed a bishop being verbally abused because of his vote to confirm the election of Bishop Gene Robinson. Not simply disagreed with, but abused. And I expect that there are many instances in which people who opposed that vote have been treated with great disrespect by people like me. There is plenty of room for repentance on all sides.
I am sorry that we have not been able to find better ways to deal with our disagreements, but I don't believe that denying that some have left ECUSA is one of them, and that seems to be what would be the message if Bishops didn't take action to acknowledge that some clergy have abandoned the communion of ECUSA. Do I like the action that they have taken? Not really, but I don't think they had other options.

BabyBlue said...

No, no, no ... I do not think anyone can make the case that there was "mutual respect" when the Northern Episcopalians marked the Southern Episcopalians "absent." Far from it. I know I keep saying this, but Southern Episcopalians were killing Northern Episcopalians - and Northern Episcopalians were killing Southern Episcopalians. Mutual respect was not even in the room. No, it was not mutual, not by a long shot. That didn't come until much, much later.

The North kept the door open - despite a brutal Civil War. No one was pretending that there wasn't a Civil War going on either.

bb

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

I guess that we will have to disagree about why the bishops in the north left the door open. Whatever motivated them, I am thankful that they did leave the door open. However, I do not see how the current leadership in ECUSA can do more to leave the door open for those who have left. Denying or ignoring the fact that they have left, as the northern bishops might be said to have done during the war, does not seem to me to be an option. The clergy who have been deposed no longer belong to the Church of which I am a member, not by my choice, but by theirs. The door was left open for them to return after the initial imposition of inhibition and they have not returned. What more can be done at this point? There is still an open door for them to return in the future - I have been present at the restoration of a priest who was deposed - but the choice remains theirs.
BTW, am I wrong to see the label "shadow bishop" as dismissive and disrespectful? If Bishop Lamb is not to be acknowledged as the provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, I hope you don't claim that Bishop Schofield is. He may be the Bishop of a diocese of the Anglican Church of the Southrn Cone, although the Anglican Communion's website doesn't recognize such a diocese, but it is absurd to claim that he is the Bishop of an Episcopal diocese, a diocese of the Episopal Church.

Dale Matson said...

Fr. Weir,
"I recognize that the real issue is the question of what the Bible says about committed same-sex relationships....."
You are not looking carefully at why people are leaving TEC as individuals, parishes and Dioceses. It is much more than just the issue about same-sex relationships. TEC is turning it's back on the traditions of the church catholic, Holy Scripture and the person and work of Christ. KJS has denied the uniqueness of Christ as the only way we may be saved. You may chose to think that this is just about sexual relationships and I believe many in TEC think the same way. This is the internal problem I was talking about. It is an almost total misunderstanding of why people are leaving. TEC has lost it's vision statement. It is caught up in a Gospel of Justice and has redefined the Great Commission to mean everything but serious Evangelism. It won't evangelize because it sees Christ as only one way to God. I think you are a decent and compassionate man but TEC is drowning and the frenzy of activity is driving away those who could help save it. Not all these people are leaving. Some have stayed but are being either ignored or demonized. For Susan Russell to call good bishops in TEC "cretins" is a total disgrace. Many of those who have stayed will leave as TEC drifts further out to sea with lots of power, no particular destination and thus with no need of a rudder.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

Dale,
While I don't agree with your assessment of TEC, it is refeshing to move away from the red herring of deposed clergy to a recognition that the issues are about the interpretation of Scripture and about how the Church understands the missio Dei. That is a topic dicussing and, although I suspect you might disagree with what I have written at my blog, The Gospel in Toy Town, it could prompt a serious discussion of the important issues. I would welcome such a discussion here or at my blog.

Dale Matson said...

Fr. Weir,
"That is a topic [worth discussing]dicussing and, although I suspect you might disagree with what I have written at my blog, The Gospel in Toy Town, it could prompt a serious discussion of the important issues. I would welcome such a discussion here or at my blog."
I have at your invitation, reviewed your blog and find it to be obviously socially liberal. When I reviewed the links to other sites, I didn't see any examples of conservative sites such a bb or S.F or T19 or even Covenant on which you also post. The question I would ask you is not about the mission which we would probably agree on (the great commandment) but the vision statement which is the great commission. I believe TEC has decoupled mission and vision. Your blog has considerable political commentary such as the supreme court nomination and president Obama at Notre Dame, Gay marriage and Diversity. Your comments are predicable. Although it is not a strident as other liberal blogs, I would appreciate some honest soul searching on why TEC is dying not denial and a statement that you simply disagree with me. Where is the evidence that TEC is thriving by any measure. ASA alone is proof for the folks in TEC that prefer their world view taken through the lens of scientific proof. I say these things because the Anglican Communion has failed to do through the instruments of unity what I would call an intervention. TEC is on a fast track to self destruction and is ignoring prophetic voices both inside and outside of TEC. I personally don't want to see our Lord's church fail because we are a part of the same body. What is happening to TEC is happening to all of us. Liberal leadership sees this as being enlightened and progressive. It is not asking itself why those outside TEC see it as dangerous and self destructive. It is this lack of willingness to self examine that is destroying this church.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

Dale,

It is precisely because of the value that God puts on diversity that I have worked to keep people of differing convictions together - in our parish and in our diocese. We have not always succeeded, and we have grieved at the deaprture of longtime friends. I belive that God does not want uniformity, but unity with diversity.

Although some of my posts are political, I think that most of those reflect my own understanding of the Christian faith and what it means to be a responsible participant in the life of the polis.

I think the Great Commission needs to be understood in the light of other words of Jesus. Being commanded to be leaven in the world or being addressed as a little flock leads me to see the Great Commission not as a mandate to make the whole world Christian - what would a loaf of bread be like if it were all yeast? -
but as a call to bear witness to the Good News and to welcome from every nation those - few or many - who come to faith into the Church. We do not bear witness well when we treat the beliefs and cultures of others with contempt. While I do keep track of the ASA in the parish, I am much more interested in how lives are being transformed.

BTW, thank you for the implicit suggestion that I include some of the more conservative blogs that I visit in the list on my blog. I have done so and will continue to keep an eye out for other blogs where differing viewpoints are treated with respect.

Dale Matson said...

Fr. Weir,
"Being commanded to be leaven in the world or being addressed as a little flock leads me to see the Great Commission not as a mandate to make the whole world Christian -.."
This would be a crucial difference between you and me because I believe that is exactly what Christ wants us to do. This is what I mean that there is a disconnect between Vision and Mission. To love others is to reach them for Christ. I appreciate your interest in seeing transformed lives and affirm this. I'm not so sure that others aren't recruiting with a come as you are and stay as you are approach. This is especially true with those concerned with a focus on sustained victimhood. I believe you can have respect for another culture and still be bold about Evangelizing in that culture. Would the majority of the Anglican Communion members be African if we had taken the PC approach of TEC? Anglicans in Africa are Evangelizing Muslims. I think this conversation represents two important perspectives in the church and yet I have not heard it discussed as such. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and your continuing to be a bridge builder.
Pax,

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

Thank you, Dale. I think the challenge, no matter how we interpret the Great Commission, is to rid ourselves of all the vestiges of colonialism in our work in mission. I do believe that God's vision is of all people united with one another and with God in Christ Jesus. However, I think our cooperation in that must not be triumphalist or grounded in what Luther the theology of glory, but in the very much neglected theology of the Cross. As my friend of many years, the now retired Primate of the Church in Kenya, once said, the way up is the way down. I believe that the seductions of worldly success are real and that in our sharing in God's mission we need to resist the temptation to think that success as the world sees it - bigger buildings, a larger "market share" - is what God wants for us. The faithful witness of Jesus led him the Cross, and ours may lead us to a place where we appear to be failures in the world's eyes. All of which is not to say that we shouldn't share the Good News or rejoice when new people come to faith, but that we should be faithful to God's call.

Dale Matson said...

Fr. Weir,
I believe that a balance between a theology of Glory and a Theology of the Cross are where I would place myself. We are more than conquerors yet our righteousness is as filthy rags. The "market share" philosophy bothers me considerably because much of the church growth movement seems to me to be market driven. I am also concerned that many in the seemingly successful generic Christian mega churches may have a commitment that is a mile wide and an inch deep. The Anglican Christian needs considerable instruction in the faith primarily because of the importance of church tradition. The Eucharist also is not understood by those from non liturgical traditions. I believe our BCP used carefully, can help shape or form a Benedictine spirituality. Anglicans have a lot to offer those who wish to commit themselves seriously to the sanctification process.
Pax

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

Dale,
I beleive that Luther was right in condemning the theology of glory. In this world, the way of the Cross is, I believe, the way for us. As Fr. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., put it, the importnat question for Christians is, "How do you look on wood?" There will be glory, but not here.