Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood?

The Bishop Coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has written home explaining things:
Resolution D025 strongly affirms not only the Episcopal Church's commitment to its relationship with the Anglican Communion but also our Church's appreciation and support of the roles that gay and lesbian people have in the ministry of our Church-including all levels of ordination. This resolution passed with a 2-1 majority. I voted against it. As I said during the floor debate, I absolutely agree with every word of the resolution itself.

Even so, I was convinced that the actual effect of D025 across the Anglican world would be to weaken the bonds of our worldwide Church and, more importantly, to compromise our international mission and ministry in the very places that need us so very badly--and we so need them. The problem for me with D025 was how it would be seen in its implications rather than being understood for what it actually says. Such is the nature of legislative reality, and this is the very reason why I do not believe the legislative process is the best process to address these issues. Still, I have great hopes that the Communion will recognize the resolution as it stands--a statement of where we really are as a Church at this time, all the while hoping to build upon and strengthen our ties with the larger Communion.

Resolution C056 calls for gathering theological and liturgical resources with respect to offering the Church's blessing for same-gender unions, which will be brought to the next General Convention in 2012 for study and consideration. The fact is that several states have legalized gay and lesbian unions, and others will likely follow suit. This resolution responds to that reality. It also allows bishops the exercise of personal discretion in providing for a "generous pastoral response" for gay and lesbian persons in the Church. I voted in favor of this resolution because I am convinced that it is both realistic and right. Monogamous same-gender unions are now a reality, and we should provide for the Church's response, with blessing or without. The resolution allows for either. Bishops must also have the ability to respond to what is actually true in all the various locales and contexts in which this Church ministers. It is important to remember, however, that no official rites of blessing that wholly sanction same-gender unions have been approved for the Church. In fact, it would take years to develop such rites.

It is not so much the actual content of these two resolutions that may be problematic. The potential for difficulty follows from interpretation of the resolutions. The plain reality is that very little is actually changed by either one of the resolutions in themselves. Both statements address what is already true in the life and witness of the Episcopal Church. The Convention is overwhelmingly of the mind that the Episcopal Church will be the stronger for the realistic and clear perspective of these resolutions.
In other words, wink, wink, B033 is not and never has been a moratorium - just as many actually said back in 2006. Only now, the doors of the closet is being blown off. Surprised?

In case we're not clear that D025 repudiates B033, here's what the Bishop Coadjutor himself said on the floor of the House of Bishops just last week at General Convention during the debate on D025:
Personally I agree with the resolution (D025) but we do need to face the fact that is is a repudiation of Bo33 and breaks faith with the Communion.
But he doesn't stop there, he goes on to make his case that D025 (which Bishop Schori and Bonnie Anderson later tried to "explain" to the Archbishop of Canterbury that it wasn't really what it really was) is a repudiation of B033 and continues the thought on the floor of the House of Bishops during the debate on D025:
In light of the ACC meeting, they gave us a rare gift in not forwarding the Covenant to this Convention. Now we are shooting through their generosity. The Communion is too much to loose. We must look beyond our small church in the western world.
This is the exactly opposite of what he now writes to the Diocese of Virginia;
"Resolution D025 strongly affirms not only the Episcopal Church's commitment to its relationship with the Anglican Communion ..."
Just to be sure we're clear, let's remember that he said this in the House of Bishops:
"we do need to face the fact that it (D025) is a repudiation of Bo33 and breaks faith with the Communion. "
Perhaps we need to do that one more time:
Bishop Shannon Johnston, July 22: "Resolution D025 strongly affirms ... the Episcopal Church's commitment to its relationship with the Anglican Communion ..."
Bishop Shannon Johnston, July 13: "we do need to face the fact that it (D025) is a repudiation of Bo33 and breaks faith with the Communion.
Well, which is it?

One thing's for sure - it's not exactly going over very well back home. RSchllnbrg, rector of an Episcopal church in the Diocese Virginia, has all ready penned his parish's response:
Mr. Rogers vs. Pastor Roger
Doesn’t God love you just the way you are?

Now don’t get me wrong here. I like Mr. Rogers and his neighborhood. My son and I used to watch him regularly. But there’s a difference between a kid’s show fit for three-year-olds and a theology that’s fit for the world. When Mr. Rogers (a former Christian minister before moving to TV) says "I like you just the way you are." It’s a comforting thought. It’s nice to feel accepted, welcomed. It’s nice to know someone out there is not mad at me for having trouble tying my shoes or for spilling my milk. It’s nice to know that he’s ready to welcome me every day (same time and channel) and he never tried to sell me anything. Mr. Rogers was a friendly face, a calm voice, and a constant companion you could count upon. We need more folk like that in each of our lives don’t you think?

Funny thing ... but I used to be called Mr. Rogers too. When I worked in the streets of New York City with homeless men, they asked me what they should call me. I was not yet ordained, so I asked them not to call me Father Roger. Instead, they called me Mr. Roger, but that doesn’t come out easily, so I became "Mr. Rogers" to many, many street people. In a way, I too had my own neighborhood where we accepted everyone.

Unfortunately for many in the Christian Church these days, this idea of easy welcome and unconditional acceptance has become Gospel Truth. That’s new. It’s different. But is it true? We are asked, "Isn=E 2t that what Jesus did?" At times, yes ... but he also held people accountable, and challenged the culture of his day. He stood up to power, told people to strive to be perfect which he explained included being forgiving, sharing, serving, living without lust, living in chaste relationships, and not getting angry, just to name but a few of the requirements he gave. Jesus loved people and forgave people. Yes. He also turned over the tables of the money changers in the Temple, told a repentant woman to "go and sin no more" after she had been caught in adultery (that too would be one of those sexual relationship outside of marriage). To forget these parts of the gospel or to focus only on how loving and welcoming Jesus was misses the point. The power of God can change your life for20the better. That’s a big part of the good news. It’s this part of the Gospel many church leaders have neglected. God changes hearts and lives. He takes our desires and reorders them, and so, reorders our priorities. Lately we’ve been told by modern church leaders that "God loves us just as we are." Actually I think God loves us a lot more than that, he loves us enough to not leave us where we are. He has something better planned for your life and mine.

When you turn to the news, for instance from last week’s General Convention of the Episcopal Church, you find that Mr. RogersE2 Neighborhood has come to a church near you (though not to Kingstowne). The bishops and delegates who passed resolutions to support ordaining people in sexual relationships outside of marriage or to support the blessing of same sex unions said they were doing nothing more than guaranteeing freedom and justice to all. In place of setting up any new ideas for the church, they claimed they were simply being honest about who we are. One delegate said (see interviews on page 4), "There’s no Communion without genuine relationship, and there’s no genuine relationship without truth-telling. So I see [this as] telling the truth about who we are ..." The Bishops of Virginia wrote a public letter this week to emphasize this very point of being honest. Bishop Johnston wrote, "I am convinced this is realistic and right. Monogamous same-gender unions are now a reality and we should provide for the Church’s response (or blessing) ...The plain reality," he continues, "is that very little has actually changed ... [we have addressed] what is already true in the life and witness of the Episcopal Church." What a pity if that’s true.
0A

I agree. We need to be honest. But remember this, the sheer act of being honest is not a reason for celebration. You can be as honest as the day is long and still be completely wrong. It matters what you say and do as well. If I told you I hit my mother-in-law at 500 yards with a single shot from a rifle you might say I was at least being honest. You could even claim I was a good shot. You could not claim, however, that I was a good man [from GK Chesterton]. Merely being honest is not enough to warrant celebrations. Being faithful is. Jesus did not bless every relationship or welcome every idea. Some of our cultural values are simply at odds with the Gospel. Let’s be honest about that too. Let’s speak the truth that all people are welcome to come to God, no one is excluded. But everyone who comes to God (straight or gay or anything else) must let God shape their lives, correct their sins and transform their souls. If we tell people they have no need to change anything at all, that God loves them just the way they are, we are doing them a terrible disservice. Indeed, we are leading them away from God.

Just speaking for myself, I know I need help. I’m glad God accepts me as I am. But I pray daily that he will not leave me there. I know I need to be changed, to grow into the full stature of Christ. I know I have a long way to go. And I know there's only one who can help me get there, and it's not a Bishop who likes me just the way I am, it's a God who loves me for all he's worth.

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." -Romans 12:1-2
The Bishop of Virginia seems to have gone to a different General Convention:
The most lasting impact of the 76th General Convention is likely to be an increase of initiative and energy in local congregations and dioceses. The sharp budget cuts in the three-year budget of the General Church will have a painful impact on some faithful staff members, but will shift the focus for mission to the local church, rather than the local church waiting for initiatives from the General Church.

The emphasis on local ministry is a proper expression of the principle of subsidiarity, whereby mission should occur at the level closest to the people who are called to engage in that mission.

Local mission is also enhanced by resolutions which the secular press has incorrectly interpreted as necessarily damaging our worldwide relationship and as following the agenda of a gay and lesbian lobby. Instead, what the Convention did is to reaffirm that the ordination process is under the control of local bishops and dioceses, while stressing that access to that process is open to all baptized persons.

The Convention also invited local churches and dioceses (as well as churches elsewhere in the Communion) to collect liturgical and theological resources regarding same-gender blessings. Recognizing the unique pastoral needs of those dioceses in jurisdictions where same-gender marriage or civil partnerships are legal, the Convention affirmed that a generous pastoral response is needed.

The emphasis on the local did not deter the Convention from adopting both a denominational health plan for the whole Church and a mandatory lay employee pension plan, both of which, in the long run, will strengthen the local church.
What the Bishop of Virginia forgets to mention is that he voted in favor of D025, which includes this part which counters his own policy in the Diocese of Virginia:

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention recognize that gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church ...

That's it! Virginia's policy now is wiped out and the Bishop of Virginia voted for it. Odd he doesn't mention that in his letter. Instead, he spins it to say that it's really about States Rights, er, Local Bishop Rites, er, Rights writing instead that "the ordination process is under the control of local bishops and dioceses, while stressing that access to that process is open to all baptized persons." But it is not a theological issue, but a justice issue - and the difference matters. Who isn't for justice?

On the other hand, the Bishop Suffragan of Virginia knows exactly what happened and he's darn happy about it - note that he never mentions the moratorium which is what B033 was supposed to fix, but of course, there never was a moratorium really, just lots and lots of winking, which is one reason so many parishes and dioceses separated from The Episcopal Church after General Convention 2006 - including in Virginia. Now TEC is out of the closet:
From my perspective, the Episcopal Church has remained on the same course it has followed for at least 40 years - one that has "stretched every nerve" as we have sought to live into the Baptismal Covenant.

What has not changed is a significant commitment to making the Church a safe place for all people all of the time. A major shift in our disciplinary canons (Title IV) was adopted by a voice vote in the House of Bishops with little or no debate. This new canon significantly raises the bar of conduct expected of clergy.

What has not changed is a genuine desire to live into the meaning of our baptism. Throughout my ministry in the Episcopal Church, I have seen the Church push the edges at Convention regarding who is to be included. The General Convention of 1970 opened reception of Holy Communion to all baptized persons. In 1973, a significant change in the marriage canon made possible, with the bishop's permission, the remarriage of divorced persons. In 1976, we approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate and then in 1979, we adopted a new Book of Common Prayer with the Baptismal Covenant. Through all this time, we have addressed issues of racism and encouraged racism training. And from the 1970s until the present day, we have been hearing the call of our own members who are gay and lesbian to recognize committed relationships and to fully include them in the life of the Church.
He then goes on to explain how C056 is not what it really is, what Integrity says it is - which is that now rites and blessings may be developed and partnered with the "generous pastoral response" also contained in C056 - ladies and gentlemen, we have lift off!

The Bishop Suffragan, who voted for both D025 and C056 writes:
Twenty-seven bishops, including myself, gathered using the Indaba process of discussion and sharing learned at Lambeth. Together, we drafted a substitute resolution that could enjoy broad acceptance. I participated in the writing group. The substitute did not call for rites to be presented for approval or for use. It did request the collection and development of liturgical resources.

In the House of Bishops discussion on the substitute, we recognized constitutional problems with approval of liturgical rites of blessing. The rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer have the force of the Constitution of the Episcopal Church and they clearly say that marriage is intended for a man and a woman. We did not reject B033 (2006 Convention) which called for restraint in the confirmation as bishops of individuals whose manner of life would be problematic to the wider Church.
What Bishop Jones fails to mention is that the Resolution is still officially called "Liturgies for Blessings," and it actually reads: "... bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church." So with the development of "develop theological and liturgical resources" in a resolution entitled "Liturgies for Blessings" it authorizes license to now officially "provide generous pastoral response" which is coded language for rites and blessings of same sex unions and marriages, the Bishop Suffragan attempts to wink.

But the Bishop Coadjutor, who will take the reigns from Bishop Lee in just a few months, lets the proverbial cat out of the bag, "Monogamous same-gender unions are now a reality and we should provide for the Church’s response (or blessing)."

"Have we changed or are we trying to be faithful to a changing landscape in a rapidly changing world?" asks the Bishop Suffragan. "Having fully participated in this process, I sense that we are striving to be faithful."

But note this carefully, friends - the Bishop Suffragan says "we are trying to be faithful to a changing landscape," - note carefully he does not say we are trying to be faithful in a changing landscape.

One two-letter word make all the difference in the world. Don't blink.

We're not in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood anymore.

UPDATE: You can hear the Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Virginia tell the House of Bishops at General Convention last week during the debate on the resolution D025 that "we do need to face the fact, the plain fact that this is repudiation of B033, it's just in other guise ..."

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

The emperor has no clothes...

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

It is too early to tell whether any of the resolutions will have a major effect on mission partnerships between TEC dioceses and congregations and dioceses and congregations elsewhere in the WWAC. One of the most liberal dioceses in TEC - Massachusetts - has strong partnerships in Kenya and Tanzania. Where there are common commitments to mission issues like this sometimes are not a barrier to cooperation. Granted there are relationships which have been effected, but I think it is not inevitable,especially when the relationships involve people and not just money.

McKenna said...

Why focus on the church you left instead of Duncan's letter? Leave them alone. Let them stew. Follow your new church.

BabyBlue said...

We're waiting to hear from Rowan Williams.

bb

Anonymous said...

Is Bishop Johnston's letter online anywhere?
Donna

The Lakeland Two said...

The Lakeland Two says:

Boy, BB, bet you wish you had a nickel for every time someone says "Leave them alone." or "Follow your new church."

How's 'bout TEC leave those not wanting to join and have declined to join the mess TEC wants to become for over 40 years alone instead of suing to take property that never belonged to them in the first place...there's a novel idea.

Bet if TEC were to stop suing and let those who want out alone, BB would be able to enjoy her new church without being dragged into court.

Robin_G_Jordan said...

We are all interconnected whether or now we like it. What happens in TEC has its way of affecting us even though we may not be a part of TEC. Pretending TEC does not exist won't change anything.

At the same time bloggers do need to take a more critical look at the ACNA. The ACNA has its own share of problems that need addressing. They include the existence of a decided theological bias in the ACNA constitution and canons,one that great reduces the comprehensiveness of that church even for orthodox Anglicans; the lack of genuine diocesan autonomy, something that the Communion Partner bishops have been fighting to preserve in TEC; the centralization of authority in the ACNA not unlike that in TEC; the unnecessary expansion of archiepiscopal authority; the abandonment of the North American Anglican heritage in the areas of church governance, lay involvement, and the nomination and election of bishops, including the primate, and the absence of genuine checks and balances and safeguards in the ACNA foundational documents. Pretending those problems don't exist, as we are too often invited to do, won't make them go away. Time to fix them is now not later before they get even worse. Three problem Anglican churches in North America is not going to help advance the cause of gospel.

Anonymous said...

The chance of eliciting positive change from the inside is far greater in ACNA than in TEC. More importantly, the changes that could be considered for ACNA are organizational.

The changes needed for TEC are a return to the faith once delivered to the saints.

I'll take ACNA any time

Anonymous said...

TL2: I think you inaccurately oversimplify to contend that TEC is"suing to take property that never belonged to them in the first place." In virginia, at least, I think the position of the national church is that departing members cannot alienate the physical property of the church they leave and transfer title to the new entity they join. I don't think that TEC has any interest in interfering by lawsuit with the worship or enjoyment of the new alignments that departing members have formed. The only issue in litigation is ownership of property that was used for Episcopal functions before folks left.

I'm certain that any departing members who that did not assert ownership rights over properties where they worshipped before leaving would be left entirely alone, as you suggest, by the Diocese and the national church.

Scout

RSchllnbrg said...

Hey Scout and Anon,

You're missing the point.

Here's a simple test. Since we in this country think so highly of freedom of choice, why not let every church vote on whether they would prefer to be in TEC or the Anglican Communion. The vote would not be binding. A vote of no-confidence so to speak.

Why not let priests choose which to belong to without penalizing them by lawsuit, loss of pension, insurance, etc ... as if they were given transfer letters (letters dimissory) and allowed to choose freely?

Oh but no ... I have heard from my own bishop that the House of Bishops has an unwritten Gentleman's Agreement not to give permission for clergy to leave TEC freely for any other Anglican entity unles they also leave the country, not, that is, without the harassment of loss of benefits, title, etc.

But what if we actually did believe in choice and freedom and tolerance? What if people were given the freedom to choose without losing their connection to a church. What if we really had freedom of worship?

I believe the leaders of TEC are afraid of what would happen. So they are using threats and legal actions and all the rest to keep us in line.

You may not agree, but I know they are doing it to me as a priest.

Anonymous said...

I have several reactions. First, I think parishioners have the right freely to leave if that is their choice. I have never heard anyone challenge that.

Re clergy benefits, we are, alas, dealing with something that leaves the realm of spiritual choice and gets into a maze of secular requirements. I certainly agree that any priest who wishes to leave should not be penalized by dispositions of pensions or other benefits that were less favorable than a priest who, say, left to go into advertising. But the pension system no doubt has restrictions on what can and cannot be moved. I would hope that the positions of the Church that you describe are imposed uniformly and not punitively.

I see no reason that a departing cleric would want to keep any titles that they acquired in the departed church, so I assume that that's a non-issue.

As for the property, just leave it. It's temporal. If you try to take it with you, you risk having parishioners who just continue to worship where they have always worshipped (I think, frankly, that's a good bit of the motivation for those who think it a good idea to cling to the property) and who do not really have strong orthodox views. If you take it, you also have a moral obligation to provide access or alternatives to those who do not wish to leave and that takes resources that could be used to support a vibrant new church. Leave and Build.

No priest or lay person who strongly feels that the gospel is being trampled by his current church will hesitate for a moment to either stand firm for orthodoxy within the church or to depart. No person of such convictions will be deterred by disposition of pensions or titles by the church in error.

Scout

RSchllnbrg said...

Scout,

"Just leave it." Fine. "It's only temporal stuff." Fine.

But may I ask a question or two? Why then the colossal waste of funds in suing the churches in Virginia for just some temporal stuff? Why the complete lack of transparency at the national and local level on how much is being spent on lawsuits, where the money is coming from, etc? The churches in Virginia have always been willing to settle out of court and pay an appropriate price for the property but were turned down, and then Bishop Lee threatened us that he would sue us personally in punishment if we made the choice to leave. I have a copy of that letter my friend, I know. So does BB.

As someone who has started a church from scratch, without any property, it is a very difficult thing. To walk away from a building you have maintained and paid for is also hardly a just solution to the situation. You are offering a very ill-conceived notion here. For those of us who have not walked away it is in part because to do so would seriously endanger the real mission we have which is to bring new people to Christ and see lives transformed and saved. You seem to miss that point here too. Buildings are not just for those who already attend and don;t know any better they could worship elsewhere. Try building a congregation without a building (as I have) and tell me how easy it would be to do so, and why perhaps some of us are slow to start over from scratch.

Since it is only temporal stuff, as you claim, you might wish to stand by your own convictions here and ask if working so hard to keep a hold on property that the national Church has claimed belongs to them ("We have a canon that says so") is what is demanded in this situation. After all, it is onnly temporal stuff. And some of it has never belonged to the national church or the diocese except in name. (You know, the Diocese doesn't pay our rent or light bills or purchase the chairs we sit in ... so why is this temporal stuff more theirs than our congregation's? Oh yeah there's the Dennis Canon. Right.)

Get over the temporal stuff and back to the point ... The point of my post was to ask if there were a way to give people the freedom, or churches the freedom, to associate with either TEC or the Anglican Communion without threat or penalty. You do not seem to share that conviction on that one. So be it. I think that's the notion we should be discussing here.

As for your last paragraph it is highly offensive. I usually expect treatment like that only from people who know me.

Anonymous said...

I apologize if I offended you. That was certainly not my intent. I did not think that my last paragraph would have applied to your situation. I assumed that my statement was a general principle of universal validity. I do not know you and I wish you no ill. I'm sorry that people who know you do treat you badly. I would not wish that on anyone and I have no hostile feelings whatsoever toward you.

Back to the point I was trying to make. I think that the motivation for protecting the property from transfer of ownership is that a great many people, living and passed, paid for these churches, particularly the older ones. In many cases, those people have no known viewpoint on the turmoils of the present and, among the ones who are living, there is a range of views. I would be very upset with my Diocese if it were simply to abandon property that I, as an orthodox, non-departing Episcopalian did not choose to leave.

Yes, indeed, there is a way to give people a choice: Leave or stay. If you leave, you have the conviction of doctrinal purity unsullied by heterodox influences at least until the next dividing issues comes up. You can start a splendid new church (yes, it's challenging - I've done that too - but an exhilarating reminder of the dedication of early Christians) build a building with the money spent on lawyers, and not have moral qualms about the non-departing Episcopalians who are dispossessed if you cling to your old digs. There's no penalty at all involved. Your position is seems to be that you want to make a doctrinal statement without inconvenience.

Again, I apologize for the misunderstanding and you indeed have my assurances that I don't view you as someone who would be deterred in doing what you thought was correct. Your earlier comment, however, had led me to believe that you thought there were such people.

Scout.

RSchllnbrg said...

Nope. I guess I'm not being very clear here. This is not about me. It's not about money. It's about the process. Let's talk about that.

When I hear people across the country talk about why those who are unhappy with the current direction of TEC should just walk away and give up churches and belongings, and when we are told it's just temporal stuff after all, it makes me wonder. Is it just about the stuff? It's not for me. But it seems to be for those who protest a bit too much. Not necessarily you Scout, but it seems that way at times from many others.

That's exactly why I am suggesting a different process.

My suggestion was to see what people in the pews, and priests with pensions and insurance, would say if there were no heavy requirments placed on them if they chose to walk away (like starting new in a storefront/school). What if there were no threats to punish, no intimidation, no withholding of basic needs, no impuning of character with "abandonment" canons ... what if the people and priests in every TEC church were given a free choice whether they agreed with the direction of TEC or wanted to stay with the Anglican Communion?

What if choosing were something each congregation could do without worrying about the temporal stuff or the argument about all the stuff here belongs to me/no me. I realize it is an idylic suggestion, but it is not an idiotic one. I'm sure we should all boldly choose to follow the truth and bear the wounds and be noble and all. But if we take that part out of the equation, what would the people in the pews choose were their choice not coerced?

That was the point of the original post. It is still my point. Because at this point it seems I have the freedom of religion as an American, but not as an Episcopalian. Sure I am free to choose to leave, but not with a letter dimmissory, not without penalties and punishment.

What I have been suggesting is that coercion and intimidation, threats and lawsuits, and all those ultimatums to "get up and leave if you don't like it here, just leave everything behind when you go", are not a good process, not a Godly process. It upsets folks on both sides. How about some sanity, some common sense, some negotiation for what is best in each congregation and diocese between the parties (TEC and Anglican)? It was the process we had started here in Virginia before it was unplugged unilaterally.

I look forward to the day when we all have a chance to see some other process at work here. The current one is a shame to behold.

As for your sensitive comments, Scout, about people who have treated me badly, I guess you also missed the point that the last line in my post was intended as a bit of dry humor. Alas. I suppose I should spend more time working on my delivery. I guess I won't leave my day job for standup quite yet.

Anonymous said...

There are no penalties or punishments for leaving a church that strikes one as being out of accord with God's truth. Leaving is an act of liberation. There is absolutely no prohibition on leaving and I would respect immensely anyone who felt compelled to do so.

As for costs, they afflict both sides grievously. The funding sources are not entirely clear in either camp.

Your idea about congregations' choosing seems very much to be something that did occur in Virginia, at least. I have no problem with it as long as the lead-in process is scrupulously even-handed, the vote is absolutely and unqualifiedly unanimous (every parishioner old enough to be able to discern the meaning and implications of the vote) and mutually agreeable provision is made to compensate the diocese for the property, real and personal. But I do not think that the act of departure should ever be understood to be without cost or easy. I frankly think the admonition to go without freight of material things is a good and virtuous approach. If the remaining congregation cannot support itself over time, I would hope that the departing group would be among those considered for eventual ownership of the plant.

The pension issue you raise is one I am simply not familiar with. I assume that these pensions are governed by conditions about how, when and under what circumstances one leaves, just like most other non-clergy pensions with which I am familiar. I support your point that there should be no additional penalty for withdrawal from the Church for departing clergy leaving to join a new organization than there are for those who leave to go into teaching or some other profession. If the Church is being more heavy-handed than this, it does not sit well with me. However, if the terms of the pension are clear that leaving the church for another religious organization somehow compromises or invalidates the pension benefits, then I have no problem with the Church enforcing the requirements of the fund.

I misinterpreted your language at the end of you 0729 comment and again apologize. This medium is an excellent way for people to converse who would not otherwise have access to one another. However, we can't hear each others' tone of voice or see the body language of the speaker. So sometimes one is taken at face value when it isn't appropriate to do so. I think that is an unavoidable hazard. I did not realize you were being sarcastic and was feeling rather concerned for how you are treated by those closest to you.

Scout

Robin_G_Jordan said...

Anonymous

The changes needed in the ACNA go beyond organizational. The ACNA constitution and canons do not permit the full range of evangelical Anglican beliefs--only the views of one group of evangelicals--those who are willing to go along with an Anglo-Catholic view of the historic episcopate, the Anglican formularies, the sacraments, ordination, apostolic succession,and a number of other key issues over which Anglo-Catholics and evangelicals have historically been divided. The ACNA needs to take steps to become more genuinely comprehensive instead of privileging one theological stream in orthodox Anglicanism and requiring conformity to that stream.