Sunday, August 02, 2009

Schori writes a letter about litigation

BB NOTE: To the House of Bishops, no less. Looks like things aren't so happy in Whoville of late. Of course, cutting the budget somewhere between $15-24 million and sacking staff while refusing to explain exactly how much is actually being spent on litigation (could it be somewhere between $15 and $20 million or more, especially when you add in all the expenses for propping up the shadow congregations and dioceses as well as all the expenses incurred by Episcopal dioceses - who can say how much has been spent over the past three years?). Over and over again there were pleas from the General Convention committees and from the floor of the House of Deputies to account for how much is being spent on suing fellow Christians who have voted under the canons of the diocese and the laws of state statutes to separate from The Episcopal Church - Christians who want to remain in the Anglican Communion, that same Anglican Communion which has pleaded with The Episcopal Church to stop the litigation.

Surely, surely there must be a better way than spending millions and fracturing the image of the franchise. She might win all her lawsuits, and yet lose in the hearts and minds of the American people. Lawsuits are now her public legacy. Is that really how she wants to be remembered?
Is there not a better way?

To the House of Bishops:

I am immensely grateful to all of you for the way in which we conducted ourselves at General Convention. There was enormous pastoral sensitivity and real caring for those with different opinions, and I firmly hope that kind of compassion continues to be boldly expressed. When we are in deeply faithful relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ we can indeed move mountains, as Sandra Montes reminded us in Montaña – "si tuvieras fe como un grano de mostaza, tú le dirías a la montaña, muévete, esa montaña se moverá" (if you have faith like a mustard seed, you will say to the mountain, "move." and it will move).

I appreciated the conversation we had about property issues over two-plus afternoons, yet we weren’t able to hear from all, and I don’t think we finished. There is indeed more to be said, and a little more than an hour simply wasn’t adequate to the task. The Council of Advice engaged me in a lengthy phone conference shortly before General Convention, and did reach a reasonable consensus, so I know it’s possible. We can take this up again in March if you wish.

I will continue to uphold two basic principles in the work some of us face in dealing with former Episcopalians who claim rights to church property or assets. Our participation in God’s mission as leaders and stewards of The Episcopal Church means that we expect a reasonable and fair financial arrangement in any property settlement, and that we do not make settlements that encourage religious bodies who seek to replace The Episcopal Church.

Pragmatically, the latter means property settlements need to include a clause that forbids, for a period of at least five years, the presence of bishops on the property who are not members of this House, unless they are invited by the diocesan bishop for purposes which do not subvert mission and ministry in the name of this Church.

I understand that other bishops, such as Anglican bishops in good standing (but not any who is involved in provincial border crossing) might be welcomed to preach, preside, confirm, or even ordain, but that diocesan permission cannot encourage anything that purports to set up or participate in another jurisdiction. It is my fervent hope that five years on, we will all be in a much more clearly defined position.

I continue to pray that those who have departed can gain clarity about their own identity. If and when they engage a positive missional stance that doesn’t seek to replace The Episcopal Church, I do believe we can enter into ecumenical agreements that will make some of the foregoing moot.

Clarity continues to emerge in the legal realm. I note that in every case which has concluded, The Episcopal Church has prevailed. Nevertheless, this has been difficult and painful work, often excruciatingly so. I give thanks for the faithful work several of you have had to do in stewarding the legacy of The Episcopal Church.

With continued gratitude for your ministry, I remain

Your servant in Christ,

Katharine

Tip of the Tinfoil to Anglican Mainstream.

83 comments:

Anglican with his collar on backwards said...

If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Then sue the daylights out of him to make an example. Do not explain yourself for you are doing the church's work. Do unto others, lest they do unto you.
-Matthew 5:39-39c. Revised Episcopal Version

WannabeAnglican said...

What absurd conditions she demands! No parish will leave only to remain under the thumb of the bishop they are leaving!

She might as well say sue them all!

Anonymous said...

She wouldn't be put under this necessity if those who are attempting to steel the churches patrimony would leave the church alone. Instead, those who want to leave are so intent on sabotaging god';s holy catholic orthodox Episcopalians that they will stop at nothing, including outright theft. Clearly the PB has a mission to stand up to such bullies. If she failed to do so, she would be immediately subject to suit for maladministration of church resources.

RoboDoc said...

Anonymous: of course you are absolutely right. Sabotaging God's holy, catholic, orthodox Episcopal church is her job, and it's her obligation to terminate any possible franchise infringement. To do otherwise would be an insult to all who have gone before who have worked so hard and long to bring the Episcopal church to where it is now.

Allen said...

'Tis better to keep one's mouth shut and be a heretic in secret than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt.

-Oscar Wilde

This woman is an apostate and there will never be a Christian apologist in the future who will prove otherwise. Too bad that this generation of vipers is too afraid of her to call it like it is. History will also judge them harsely.

Anonymous said...

Katharine wrote, "I continue to pray that those who have departed can gain clarity about their own identity. If and when they engage a positive missional stance that doesn’t seek to replace The Episcopal Church, I do believe we can enter into ecumenical agreements that will make some of the foregoing moot."

Many have "gained clarity" that's why they left TEc!

We are engaged in a positive missional stance - it's called the Great Commission grounded in the deposit of faith given to us by the Lord.

We would not enter into an "ecumenical agreement" with an apostate group - that's why many/we left it to begin with.

In balance this is yet another hateful, fearful letter. When one's gospel is the MDG's and not the Gospel of Jesus Christ one should be very fearful indeed.

KJS would rather see the buildings vacated by faithful believers be handed over to community theaters than to the rightful owners whose desire is to see the world come to Christ.

The depth of her error seems to have no end: Abyssus abyssum invacat.

Andy said...

Man, you could almost watch you monitor frost over by the chilling tone of this letter.
Too, by the inference, its clear that the PB would rather cut her losses and sell the facility to a saloon or tattoo joint before selling it to any of the emerging North American Anglican parishes.

Pass the mittens sister...

Steven in Falls Church said...

Is the facade cracking?

"Pragmatically, the latter means property settlements need to include a clause that forbids, for a period of at least five years, the presence of bishops on the property who are not members of this House, unless they are invited by the diocesan bishop for purposes which do not subvert mission and ministry in the name of this Church."

This is the most specific KJS has been yet regarding conditions for settlement. You mean that the CANA parishes, for exampe, would agree to a fixed period in which +Minns, +Bena, et al could not visit their physical properties? That's it, besides the cash settlement? Am I missing something? Settlement proposals may contain other requirements that are poison pills, but a temporary moratorium (pardon usage of that term here) on bishops' visits seems doable as confirmations, ordinations, and other bishop-related activities can be done off-site.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if we could stop with the hate language like "Apostate." CLEARLY Neither the PB nor TEC are apostate. There is NOTHING in what has happened recently in TEC that is apostate. Clearly, we all recite and believe every word of the Nicene creeds. We follow the tenets of the seven ecumenical councils, and we follow the course of the prayerbook every day.

There does seem to be a difference of interpretation about some obscure, non-core parts of scripture and, more particularly, how we, as God's church, can and must respond to the legitimate pastoral needs of a specific group of individuals. There is plenty to discuss around these issues.

However, to any rational observer, there is not apostasy in TEC.

To claim so is to bear false witness against fellow Christians. I am shocked and surprised that such hate language and gross distortion of the truth would be allowed on this web site. I strongly recommend that such hate language be deleted when it occurs.

FOR SHAME Allen! FOR SHAME! Read the 10 commandments: those laws are very clear. FOR SHAME BB! FOR SHAME for allowing this kind of hate and persecution of TEC and the PB.

Phil said...

Clearly, we all recite and believe every word of the Nicene creeds. We follow the tenets of the seven ecumenical councils, and we follow the course of the prayerbook every day.

Coming on the heels of the denial of Christ's divinity, of the celebration of John Spong, of pagan "women's liturgies," of the denial of Christian morality and even of the denigration, as a heretical work, of Christ's own commandment to believe in Him, none of that is very "clear" at all.

Andy said...

Anon,
Sorry that this exchange has stung a raw nerve. The usual suspects at the cafe share no small level of PB's accomplishments as a woman and scholar. Too, we can clear the decks of an statements concerning the norming of what was once taboo. But to be the elected head of an historic Christian church and to deny the exclusivity of Jesus of Nazareth flies in the face of two millenia of orthodoxy.
Its hardly hate speech as this is the PB's own answer to the queestion of "Who do you say I am?" She has made this pronouncement throughout her tenure PB.

BabyBlue said...

Allen, when you use the word "apostate" what do you mean? What do people think they mean when they use that word?

It's a little late in the game to flip out over people using the word apostate (I recall someone using the word "heresy" to describe the evangelical view of personal salvation recently). The question is - what does that word mean and how are people using it?

I think apostate is strong for me - using the word breaks down the relationship. I try to use the words that are used by those with whom I disagree. For example, I will use pro-choice rather than pro-abortion to describe supporters of legalized abortion. It's not my favorite phrase - but it is more about them then me.

bb

bb

Anonymous said...

"If and when they engage a positive missional stance that doesn’t seek to replace The Episcopal Church, I do believe we can enter into ecumenical agreements that will make some of the foregoing moot."

My dear lady, there is no need to replace the Episcopal church. You have moved it toward oblivion like no other force in recent history.

Anonymous said...

She is not interested in evangelism since it is not possible to have a personal relationship with Jesus. So the 'missional stance' of ACNA should not be a conflict with TEC.

www.churchoftheword.net

Anonymous said...

BTW - do you think that the cuts in the church budget might also have something to do with a drop in income due to a second great depression we as a society in the US seem to have narrowly averted?

My understanding from the papers and from other blogs such as yours suggests that the legal fees are being raised through other sources than those which are/were funding those programs that were cut.

Do you think it is possible that TEC is cutting it's budget for the same reason that everyone else in the US is cutting budget?

I noticed that both CANA and ACNA have also had to cut budget. Should we be reading some abandonment of evangelism into that too?

Just askin'

Alice C. Linsley said...

Let us place this quote from Matthew 17:20 in the proper context, as it is so revealing. The disciples just asked the Lord why they couldn't cast out the demon from the boy and Jesus answers: "You unbelieving and perverse generation... because of your little faith."

The Spanish reads: "A causa de vuestra poca fe. Porque de cierto os digo si tenéis fe como un grano de mostaza, diréis a este monte: 'Pásate de aquí, allá; y se pasará. Nada os será imposible." (Reina-Valera Version)

The PB never addresses the convicting parts of Scripture.

John said...

What good does it do to leave comments.
They will not be shown if they conflict with your opinion

BabyBlue said...

John, all comments are welcome. We see this as being like a Cafe and of course in Cafe's people have all kinds of opinions and often we don't even know people's names - but sometimes we do get to know their names, especially the regulars!

I don't moderate comments and I don't mind if people go off topic - the only time a comment might disappear is when someone has been tossed out the door by Hagrid, who is usually asleep by the door with his dose of Old Ogdenn's Fire Whiskey. He has his limits - don't we all - and if people start throwing the cream pies then out the door they go.

But if you have an opinion and it may be different than many in the current conversation - your comments are welcome. We have some regulars here who do take different points of view and we love it! Imagine if we only had friends that agreed with us - how dull life would be!

And of course, if we only had comments that agreed with our own - who's not to say that God might be left out! ;-)

bb

Don said...

I commented on this piece here.

My perspective comes from someone who works for a centralised church. Her idea is unrealistic, and that's just for starters.

Anonymous said...

@ Andy and Phil,

I have not seen the PB make statements that deny the divinity of Jesus. I HAVE seen some pretty wild out of context distortions of her intent of a radio interview she did on NPR. It was not as articulate as one would hope for from a leader of the church. But what she actually said in the interview, and then clarified in a subsequent interview, were no different from similar statements made by many other orthodox faithful, including, not least, a certain bishop in Rome.

On the other hand, I have seen repeated documentation of her stongly and clearly affirmation of the creeds and the doctrines of the church; starting with every single day in church. Do you honestly believe that she says these things with her fingers crossed?? If so, you stretch all reasonable credulity.

If you can't pony up with something that (taken in the context of a larger statement) shows this kind of denial of the divinity of Jesus, then I think you can't use this stuff. You must prove it from what SHE says herself, not what someone else says about her, of you will be participating in someone else's false witness. In that you should be deeply ashamed of yourself.

She is one of the most public and documented people in the country. If you want to know what she things, all you have to do is read what SHE says for herself.

@ Annon. What makes you think she feels it's impossible to have a personal relationship with Jesus? That seems to be directly contradicted by almost everything she says in public, over and over and over again.

There is plenty to disagree with without this sort of bearing false witness.

Anonymous said...

Ann: "My dear lady, there is no need to replace the Episcopal church. You have moved it toward oblivion like no other force in recent history."

This would seem to be directly contrary to the facts. The recent Pew research study seems to indicate that, despite the best efforts of those who wish to leave, TEC seems to be nearly holding it's own in numbers and, particularly, to be drawing in converts especially from the Roman denomination. It seems that insisting on a pastoral response to ALL god's children, even the least of these, is ringing well with the unchurched. That doesn't make her right, but it seems to contradict your statement.

I also notice that the membership numbers for CANA and ACNA seem to be going steadily down. First they were 300K, then 200K and the latest I read was 69K. I grant you, there is some significant nuance in these numbers and how they are gathered. Nonetheless, the ACNA's own numbers make is appear that the losses are all on the other side from TEC.

wts+ said...

Let me try to move this conversation a different way. The direction KJS lays out in her letter - is it descriptive or proscriptive? Does she speak from a position of "law" or is it a power grab? By what authority can she tell the bishops of the various diceses how to handle cases where a parish leaves with their property?

Anonymous said...

"Nonetheless, the ACNA's own numbers make is appear that the losses are all on the other side from TEC."

Anon - could you cite your sources please?


RalphM

Anonymous said...

@ wts It's both descriptive and proscriptive (sic - I think you mean prescriptive).

Under US law, as recently upheld by the courts, TEC is a national, hierarchical religious organization. If the national TEC has standing in the court (and they have in every single solitary case that has gone to court, including VA), then TEC can state it's terms for settlement (though it does not need to do so openly and in public as the PB has here).

A Diocese may (or may not) settle seperately, but TEC has standing and can continue the case alone if it chooses. So that's the law, pure and simple.

Parishes can't leave. Individuals leaving the church can't take church property with them when they leave. Except in VA where a peculiar civil war era law seems likely to be overturned as unconstitutional, TEC has not yet lost a single case on those grounds. Dioceses can't leave TEC any more than states can leave the union. The only case to go to the appeals court so far, that in CA clearly upholds TECs standing for dioceses and their supreme court has decided the case in TECs favor. It appears that the same law will be applied in TX and, if necessary, in IL.

Like them or not (I'm not taking a position here, I'm just laying out the facts), those are the simple facts of both church and US law.

The PB is laying out a DESCRIPTION of the legal position as it exists now. She is also making a PRESCRIPTION for how cases could be settled in the future. She has the authority because she has the recognized standing.

Anonymous said...

@ Ralph M

Religious news
http://www.religionnews.com/index.php?/rnsblog/running_the_number_on_acna/

The ACNA itself has posted all of the above numbers
http://www.acnaassembly.org/index2.php/acna/page/38

Then lowered them
http://www.fwepiscopal.org/downloads/howmanyanglicans.pdf

Then lowered them again
http://acnaassembly.org/media/ACNA_-_Who_we_are_-_June_09_-_fact_sheet.pdf

"For some context, the Episcopal diocese with the largest average Sunday attendance in 2007 was Virginia, with 25,300.

It's not unusual for membership numbers to be much higher than average Sunday attendance. But that usually happens in large, longstanding churches, like the Episcopal Church, which may have people on the membership rolls who stopped attending church long ago, or who are Easter-Christmas attenders only. One would assume that in a new church committed to orthodoxy, the gap between average Sunday attendance and membership would be quite a bit smaller.

As religion reporters know, we're often at the mercy of religious groups' self-reported membership numbers. And with a group like ACNA, which aims to unite almost a dozen small splinter groups, the task of counting is even harder. For instance, there are some congregations that ACNA counts as members that are still part of the Episcopal Church. So are they counted as part of ACNA's 100,000, or the Episcopal Church's 2.1 million?

Quite a few people have said ACNA is worth paying attention to because of that 100K figure. But does 69,000 have the same cachet?"

The ACNA folks have done the honorable thing here, though it took them a long time to do so. The fact that they were forced to do so reluctantly suggests that they were being disingenuous in the first place. Now it is time for all of us to own up to the fact that we don't have the vaguest idea of whether ACNA is growing or not.

Anonymous said...

Anon,

I can't find references to the 200K or 300K numbers you mention. Those numbers sound more like the number of groups that have split from TEC over the decades.

The RNS article you've quoted mentions the differences between ASA and membership, which for older denominations can be a puzzling set of statistics.

My suggestion would be to use the ACNA HQ's numbers, rather than FW's.

RalphM

Anonymous said...

My point was, and is, that the numbers seem to be changing daily. These frequent changes make it seem as though someone at some point isn't telling the truth (or simply doesn't know it).

The ACNA folks have done the honorable thing here, though it took them a long time to do so. The fact that they were forced to do so reluctantly suggests that they were being disingenuous in the first place. Now it is time for all of us to own up to the fact that we don't have the vaguest idea of whether ACNA is growing or not.

Anonymous said...

I can get you information on how to become a member of ACNA if you are interested. If you join, we would both know that ACNA has grown.

RalphM

Phil said...

Anonymous,

Taking Mrs. Schori at her word is not “distorting” what she says. And, we both know that when it comes down to choosing between the original statement and the “clarification,” the smart bet is on the former as being the truth. Come on, now: you don’t believe Barry Obama is going to spare the middle class crippling new taxes just because Robert Gibbs “walked back” the candid comments of two of the administration’s key economic advisors, do you? You don’t seem to be that gullible.

The bottom line is, if one really believes Jesus was the Son of God, God Himself, then one isn’t going to go around talking about His life, death and ministry as merely an interesting factoid for most people or as an optional component of salvation – which is why, for example, the Roman Catholic Church does not do so, contrary to your and Mrs. Schori’s facile assertions to the contrary. (By the way, since when does the Schori camp start appealing to Rome for religious authority? In any other case, lefty Episcopalian bloggers take a back seat to few others in their hatred for Catholicism.) I’m glad people have coached her to stay away from the red lines, but, considering how long it’s taken for her to get even a clunky, if serviceable, non-heretical formulation down, she’s either fought the process every step of the way or her coaches don’t know much about Catholic Christian doctrine themselves. Whichever it is, the situation isn’t one you should be crowing about.

As far as honestly believing “that she says these things with her fingers crossed” “stretch[ing] all reasonable credulity” – why is that?

Anonymous said...

When I see political terms like "lefty" used by folks like Phil, I fear that secular politics has bled into spiritual considerations. I continue to be annoyed that so much of the blog patter about this horrible rift in the Church has a shrill political ring to it, whether it be stuff from Integrity, or comments like Phil's. We are dealing here, friends with the unity of God's Church, not a political campaign. I have taken great comfort in my life in the liturgy of centuries recited and prayed in fellowship with my fellow Anglicans, past and present. I have never disturbed myself that the man kneeling on my right or the woman on my left may not see all issues exactly the way I do. If that becomes my focus, the logical end point is countless churches of one. My perceptions of God are imperfect as are theirs. There is bound to be divergence. What I thirst for, however, is the coming together in common worship and communion. Spend less energy hating. Save it for the next Congressional race. (Whether you should have it there is another subject -but please, not here).

Scout

Phil said...

Scout - just for your information, I'm sure you know what I mean when I say "lefty" - therefore, the word is appropriate, i.e., it serves its purpose.

As to caring what the man on my right or left thinks politically, you and I are in agreement - so long as, should what the man think conflict with the Christian Gospel, he keeps it to himself (as it were). When he tries to conform the Church to his views, then we have a different circumstance. That seems non-controversial to me. And you?

Allen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

@ Scout: congratulations, you are quite right and have spoken well.

@Allen and Phil. The PB is one of the most completely open and thoroughly documented people on earth. Pretty much everything she says and does is in public. This is in direct contrast to much of the activities of those who charge her of apostasy.

If you see something that SHE has said or done which is clearly "apostasy," you may produce it. I and others have not seen it; though I have seen the charge made by some who agree with you, the charge is either never backed up or is backed up with so preposterous a distortion of what the PB has written or said that the lie is clear from the start. In the face of so much public discussion, the charge appears to be so completely spurious as to appear ridiculous

I have not seen any "apostasy" from her on the core christian doctrines and any honest person has not seen it either. She clearly holds tightly to the catholic truths of the creeds, scripture, the prayer book, and the traditional teachings of the church as set forth in the seven ecumenical councils.

She clearly has some pastoral concerns that she feels that she MUST address. It seems that you disagree with even the discussion of these pastoral concerns.

I understand that your reaction is an emotional one. When we become emotional, we often do and say things that we shouldn't. Using words like "apostasy" are so clearly untrue, such gross exaggerations of a disagreement about a fringe element of our faith, that I fear they do your cause very serious damage by using such language.

There is plenty of room for disagreement and even separation, if you insist. On a host of subjects, from the place of women, to acceptance of blacks, women, homosexuals, and others in the orders of the church, to interpretations of scripture; there do seem to be some legitimate differences. But it is not necessary to bear false witness in support of that disagreement.

The prohibition against bearing false witness in this way is as clear a sin as every there was one. It's written very clearly in the commandments. That prohibition is then reaffirmed over and overy by our lord.

I recommend that this shameful use of this word be dropped forever from your language in this context. The simple untruth of your claims in this area are easily demonstrated and you simply make yourself appear desperate, foolish, and completely without Christian scruples.

For SHAME Phil and Allen and anyone else who uses this term in this context. FOR SHAME BB for allowing this kind of hate language and false witness. FOR SHAME! FOR SHAME!! FOR SHAME!!!!

BabyBlue said...

Alas, Allen, Hagrid has risen from his table and tossed that last comment out. We can judge the words - for words have meaning, but we cannot judge another's heart. If we want to talk about God's right to spew, we should probably start with ourselves. I thank the Lord for His mercy, which endures - may even those with whom we disagree know such mercy as we have been shown - for the glory of God.

bb

Anonymous said...

I think there are a great many people who comment here and at other sites who are trying to conform the Church to their views, Phil, and the term "lefty" has no coherent meaning to me in a spiritual context. When I spoke of those kneeling next to me in the pews, I wasn't referring in the least to "political" views, I was referring to their views on church doctrine and theology. In fact, my point was (I don't think I was as inarticulate as your comment suggests), that I despair of what seems like a lot of political content seeping into the religious strife of the day. People talk of their fellow Christians as if they were running for the County Board of supervisors against them.

Allen: I am not a huge Katharine Jefforts-Schori fan - I would have preferred someone else as Presiding Bishop at this juncture in the life of the Church. But I have never heard or read heretical or apostate utterances from her. I have seen a lot of what must be deliberate (so many people could not be so incompetent for this to be unintentional) distortion of her statements and views (note yesterday's T19 flap where a dozen or so people attributed her quotation of a gospel song as evidence that she either did not know or was trying to avoid attribution to our Lord of the mustard seed story). I can only conclude that there is great personal hatred afoot and that our dispute and coming apart is fueled in non-negligible part by instincts and passions that are as much secular as spiritual. Satan no doubt cackles in our midst as he sees how thin the veneer of Christian love and unity has become.

Scout

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to mention this because it is outside of what the PB said in her letter and outside the conversation, but is relevant to the overall tone of what TEC represents. All the "words" from bishops and clergy mean little - it's the ACTIONS of the church that show her true heart, and when TEC, a Christian denomination (the only Christian denomination thus far), officially (which means money is given, as of 2006) joins a political organization that supports abortion at all stages for any reason as well as euthanasia, then I would say that that church is under God's judgment. I don't pretend to know the mind of God, other than what the Bible shows, and the Bible shows a God of Life, not death.

Phil said...

Anonymous, another thing we do when we get emotional is fail to read and comprehend clearly: I have never used the word "apostasy" to refer to Schori, on this blog or anywhere else.

Also, when we get emotional, rather than engaging the argument, we might start lazily implying our opponent is a racist or a bigot, like, well, heck, like when you start talking about the "acceptance" of blacks - speaking of false witness. (For shame? Sorry: FOR SHAME?)

As to "hold[ing] tightly to the catholic truths of the creeds, scripture, the prayer book, and the traditional teachings of the church as set forth in the seven ecumenical councils" - that is absurd on its face. We need go no further than the fact that there are multiple examples of the Holy Fathers of those Councils anathematizing various individuals or groups of heretics for teaching errors, yet we can go to the videotape of recent days and see that Mrs. Schori, far from denouncing false Christian teachers, won't even call Islam or Hinduism an error. Hold tight my - well, never mind.

Anonymous said...

"error" to me (in a theological context) implies incorrect doctrine. Islam and Hinduism do not strike me as examples as error in Christian doctrine, they strike me as irrelevancies to Christian doctrine, things quite apart and outside that doctrine. It's like saying that geocentric cosmology is an error in constitutional law. I cannot imagine why church officials would go cruising into other religions to find error. What would be the point of that?

Scout

Phil said...

Scout, that's a good point, but I was coming at it from the opposite direction, namely, that you don't, as a Christian bishop, teach that other religions are of equal validity to Christianity. Christianity, after all, isn't properly a "religion" in the common sense of the word; it's the proclamation that the world has been redeemed by the incarnate Son of God, of one essence with the Father, a unique and eternal dividing line in history.

As to the point of having that attitude, somebody else has said it better than me: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

Steven in Falls Church said...

I was hoping someone would bite on my comment above. BB, any thoughts? Am I just smoking crack?

Anonymous said...

@ Phil. You may have a point, I was (and am) pretty certain you had at least defended the use of the reference.

As you point out, when one gets emotional sometimes one doesn't read as closely as one might. For example, my reference was to previous historical instances or errors in scriptural interpretation where those making the error called "apostasy" on those who had not made the error. It was the false use of the term that I was referencing, rather than the falsehood that was being defended.

I can understand the misunderstanding, if you will. But my reference was intended to be to the incontrovertible facts of history.

Anonymous said...

I don't know of any reference where the PB said that other faiths were equal to Christianity. I did hear a fairly inarticulate interview on NPR (which was later clarified in a subsequent interview) in which she said something to the effect that other religions may have some elements of revelation and that we can't box salvation in, that God can save whoever he wants to.... She did say that the ONLY answer for Christians is Christ.

What I don't understand is why you are holding the PB up for such attention for saying this. Many other religious leaders, not least including the so-called "Pope" have said much the same thing.

Was she as articulate as one would like for the leader of a church to have been? No.

Was she as clear as to what she meant as the bishop in Rome has been when he has said the same things. No.

But it was an off-the-cuff radio interview, not a premeditated position paper. She did clarify it afterward. Sometimes when you are preaching the word of God one has to try to communicate through a more spontaneous medium, even if it's a bit of a risk.

Got any more particular instances, other than that one which you would like to cite? I've not heard of any others. I'll be happy to listen to what SHE has to say herself, rather than read something that is a "he said, she said" which might be subject to distortion. I'd like to hear it from the source, if you can find it.

In the end, I don't believe you can find such a citation. It seems to be a completely false accusation. Especially since it is countered repeatedly, on a daily basis, by her affirming the creeds etc.

Anonymous said...

Steven is right. While everyone was reacting in Pavlovian haste to denigrate the person (and soul) of the Presiding Bishop, the meat of the statement went unnoticed. It outlines conditions of settlement of property disputes that she represents are acceptable. Interesting that that could be so missed.

Anonymous said...

+Schori nixed good faith negotiations that were underway in VA. Why should anyone believe that her statement is anything other than empty words meant to ward off some of the criticism of the amounts being spent on litigation?


If she is serious, what's with the bishops can't come on the property for five years routine? She appears to have serious issues with an unhealthy need for control.

Anonymous said...

One supposes that it is yet another generous offer from a gracious lady. After all, she offered alternative oversight by a mutually acceptable bishop over and over again (I believe her specific suggestion was Howe of FL to whom I can't see why anyone on either "sie" would object).

I'm not sure that she had any choice in VA. The negotiations were nixed when the leaving parishes filed for recognition by the courts as a separate entity. At that point she either accepted the withdrawal of these churches (and respond to a suit for maladministration of church assets) or cut off negotiations and press on to the legal fight.

When you give someone a choice of surrender all of your rights and goods or fight, the reasonable and logical decision is to fight.

Unfortunately, those who want to leave seem to be determined to take church property with them. At the time they made that decision, they were told by every legal authority in the land that they would loose. They went ahead and did it anyway, largely as a way of destroying and/or crippling TEC. These seems very unchristian to me.

It seems clear now that the members of those separating churches have been very seriously mislead by some very irresponsible leaders. One can only hope that the members of those churches will be able to hold those leaders to account.

The result of these legal cases has not only damaged TEC, but the withdrawing churches as well as costing both sides enormous amounts of money that could be better spent on other elements.

However, TEC and the local bishops had absolutely no choice but to stand up to this kind of intimidation once the filing for recognition was made. If they had failed to do so, they would have been held accountable for that maladministration of church assets.

Anonymous said...

Disinformation remains alive and well in the Diocese of Virginia. See post above.

Anonymous said...

Tee hee...

Thought that would get your goat.

But, of course, that's how the other side sees it (and not without substantial reasons for doing so), so perhaps one should try to look at it from both sides.

Anonymous said...

@0912: What was the "disinformation" in the 0556 comment?

Scout

BabyBlue said...

Part One:

The disinformation begins with this:

"I'm not sure that she had any choice in VA. The negotiations were nixed when the leaving parishes filed for recognition by the courts as a separate entity. At that point she either accepted the withdrawal of these churches (and respond to a suit for maladministration of church assets) or cut off negotiations and press on to the legal fight."

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, oh, and wrong.

The churches, following the Bishop of Virginia's Protocol for Departing Congregation developed by his very own hand-picked Special Committee chaired by his very own chancellor, voted to separate and filed their petitions with the circuit court, which was recognized as a non-hostile act by the STANDSTILL AGREEMENT (sorry for shouting) between both the voting parishes and the Diocese of Virginia.

Then the Bishop of Virginia established his very own "property committee" which he initially referred to as his "Get on With It" committee and requested that each parish's vestry elect two representatives to begin negotiations over the property. My own parish vestry voted for two people on a Sunday evening.

The next day - Monday - David Booth Beers came into the Diocese and had meetings with BIshop Lee, the Standing Committee, and the Executive Board. On Wednesday, the Bishop of Virginia cut off negotiations, dismissed his own property committee, and ended the Standstill Agreement that was intended to be in place as negotiations commenced. The Standstill Agreement is here:

http://babybluecafe.blogspot.com/search?q=Standstill+Agreement

As you can see, we've had to post it several times.

The next thing we know, Katharine Jefferts Schori herself sued each parish that voted to depart and its trustees and its rector and its volunteer vestry which amounted to about 200 lay people. The Bishop of Virginia followed and sued all the parishes that voted to depart yet again - including all the trustees, all the rectors, and nearly 200 lay volunteers serving on the vestries.

It was the Circuit Court of Fairfax County that decided to deal with the petitions filed in a non-hostile manner as acknowledged by the Diocese of Virginia first. That was the choice of the court. The lawsuits were set aside until the matter of the petitions was decided. The Circuit Court ruled overwhelmingly that the 57-9 Statute, which incidentally was taken into consideration when writing the initial protocol, was applicable and constitutional. The Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church have filed appeals before the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Virginia which, if the appeals are granted - and it would be a shock if they are not, even though 25 boxes of court documents have been shipped down to Richmond and must be reviewed, then it will be some time in 2010 when the court will hear the case.

BabyBlue said...

Part Two:

Once again, it is imperative to read the Standstill Agreement for it reveals the truth. The filing of the petitions of the votes taken by the parishes was not a hostile act. At no time was any move made to take the property since it was implied by the votes - and let us remind everyone that the Bishop of Virginia himself took part of the parishes 40 Days of Discernment, releasing a video to be reviewed by the voting members and sending members of the Standing Committee to address the congregations which they did in an open and free manner, that the congregations had the legal right to do so in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

It was the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church that also then challenged the petitions of the congregational votes, though they had been deemed not hostile with the Standstill Agreement and it was the circuit court that decided to take that case first.

It was the congregations who were left at the negotiating table. The congregations continue to pray for a return to the negotiation table to find a way, as the BIshop of Virginia first said was his goal, for us all to remain in as close a communion as possible.

What did David Booth Beers, Katharine Jefferts Schori's lawyer, tell the Bishop of Virginia, the Standing Committee, and the Executive Board that would cause the bishop to kill the protocol that had been negotiated and prayed through and prepared years in the making, following the Reconciliation Commission's own recommendations? Why was a model for separation - and not divorce - abandoned so quickly and so shockingly? I don't know. Bishop Lee told the rector of one of the voting parishes in his own testimony on the stand during trial in the Circuit Court that "a new sherrif was in town." In fact, it was just weeks before the parshes voted that Katharine Jefferts Schori became the Presiding Bishop.

bb

Anonymous said...

Do you disagree with the 0556 comment that once the seceding group filed petitions in court to claim the properties under the Division statute, a failure by the Diocese to contest legally would have resulted in the irrevocable transfer of the properties to the departing congregations? I don't see how defaulting on those petitions would have left anything to talk about in terms of title or ownership.


Scout

BabyBlue said...

Yes, I most certainly do. What that comment ignores is the years - years - spent working out how we would do this in a way that that would be a Christian witness, that we would demonstrate that we could do this in a way that would honor God, even in all the pain and grief. It meant we would walk out our faith - in God and in one another, we would attempt to build a foundation that someday may prove to be ground of our reconciliation. We were all ready to do that, we believed the property was ours - we had followed the protocol, we had voted overwhelmingly to separate. But it was not - I repeat it was not to be a divorce. It was to be a separation and we would do all we could to remain in as a close a communion as possible, at least in Virginia.

I loved the Episcopal Church. The action we were taking for many of us was based on love - that we had to separate to get into a healthier place, a place where we could have some distance to get our own healing and for TEC to sort out its issues. The Diocese of Virginia Reconciliation Commission had rightly pointed out that we were at a Level Five Conflict, the worst possible kind. We were not going to achieve reconciliation on the trajectory we were on. For our parishes it meant that we had families who no uncertain terms made it clear to their rectors that unless there was some kind of clarity they would separate from the church itself, all of our churches. This was a way to keep those families in the Anglican family, to keep us in relationship with the Diocese of Virginia, in as close a communion as possible, and to find a healthier space in which reconciliation, by the grace of God, could one day be achieved.

The Special Committee constituted by the Bishop of Virginia represented the churches that would vote as well as the Standing Committee, the Reconciliation Commission, and the Bishop of Virginia's own chancellor. It was a remarkable achievement, an amazing testimony of a real listening process - it was done in tears. When we voted on the Truro Vestry to separate, we voted in tears.

We never transferred the property. We only filed our votes. We did not take the step to transfer any property. We were walking in good faith with the diocese and it was good faith - in the most difficult of circumstances - that the Standstill Agreement was written.

When I was at General Convention and sitting in the audience waiting for Rowan Williams to speak, Bishop Lee and his wife walked by me. They didn't see me, but when I saw Bishop Lee, I instinctively stood up. I didn't think, I saw him and I stood up. As I saw him walk up the aisle, I wondered about that. I wondered why, even after all that's happened, so much grief all around, that he would walk by and I would stand in respect. I felt a little foolish when I realized what I'd done. But it seemed that even after everything, after all that has happened and continues to happen, in my heart I still care.

bb

ejd said...

"She wouldn't be put under this necessity if those who are attempting to steel the churches patrimony would leave the church alone. Instead, those who want to leave are so intent on sabotaging god';s holy catholic orthodox Episcopalians that they will stop at nothing, including outright theft. Clearly the PB has a mission to stand up to such bullies. If she failed to do so, she would be immediately subject to suit for maladministration of church resources."

I've read all the comments and simply must respond to this remark. I'm sorry you seem to think that those who have chosen to leave are trying to "steal" the property they built, paid for and maintained long before the National Church passed the Dennis Canon declaring the property to belong to 815. I find it amazing that you don't believe that the dioceses and congregations themselves should not be allowed to make these decisions. That you believe that when the majority of a parish chooses to leave, that any remnant, or the national church or diocese, if there is no remnant, should be entitled to keep the property they did not build or pay for. You don't even consider the fact that the small remnant may not be in any position to care for that property - and may not even want that property. It doesn't take into account who will have to pay for maintaining that property in the future. You can be sure the National Church won't be paying the heating bills to keep the pipes from freezing in Pittsburgh. It doesn't take into account that there is no market for churches and that many beautiful historic buildings may be left to ruin and decay.

No - the only thing that matters is their "rights." How on earth is this a Christian witness? How on earth is this even close to good stewardship?

And BTW, none of the lawsuits is over. Many of the "wins" by TEC have dealt with preliminary issues such as motions for summary judgment.

How can you possibly say that those who leave are intent on destroying the "god';s holy catholic orthodox Episcopalians"? Why is the Episcopal church so intent on pushing their own agenda that they disregard the feelings of the wider Anglican Communion? How is that "catholic"?

And finally, it is clear that you choose to believe Bp Schoeri's explanations. Many of us take her at her word. Yes, I understood her to say that a belief in individual salvation to be heresy. Yes, I understood her to say that while Christians needed to rely on Christ, that members of other religions need not. Yes, I understood the General Convention to decline affirming the uniqueness of Christ as the Savior of the world. Yes, I understand General Convention to have changed the rules on deposing Bishops and priests to make it easier - not harder - and to allow them to depose for abandoning - not the Anglican communion - but the Episcopal church. Yes, I believe that the number of clergy Bp Schori has deposed in her brief tenure is truly frightening and says that she is power hungry. How is that a Christian witness?

Yes, I believe she deposed Bp Duncan illegally - without first inhibiting him, and without the requisite votes according to the canons and before he had left TEC. Plus, she deposed him for abandoning the communion - which he did not. How are these actions a good witness for a Christian leader? She took away our orthodox Bishop when we had not yet voted to leave. What choice did she leave us?

Yes, I'm in Pittsburgh. And I thank God we left. It breaks my heart that the church I grew up in is behaving this way. Why do those who remain feel so wronged by those of us who are being sued for that which we and our parents and grandparents sacrificed to build? We feel hurt and betrayed by TEC. But, even if we lose our buildings - we will still have our faith.

Anonymous said...

BB: my question was whether you disagreed with the previously expressed thought that the triggering event in the Virginia litigation was the filing of court petitions by seceding groups to take title to the physical property of Episcopal churches where they once worshipped? The commenter had made the point that once those suits were filed, there really wasn't an option for the Diocese not to respond. The reasoning, as I understood it, was that a default at that point would have sealed the issue legally. This seems pretty compelling to me - that once the Division statute petitions hit the bricks, the Diocese had to either surrender forever or stake out its counter-position. Those petitions were filed very shortly after the vote to depart - as I recall within three weeks or so.

Scout

Scout

BabyBlue said...

I absolutely disagree. The petitions were filed the day after the votes!! The Standstill Agreement, which agreed that the filing of the petitions was NOT a hostile act, was drawn up AFTER the petitions were filed. The answer to your question is that not only do I disagree but that the information is WRONG. The chronology is wrong. The petitions did not - I repeat did not - transfer property. The recording of the votes following the statutes of the Commonwealth of Virginia and then the Standstill Agreement was drawn up and then Bishop Lee called for the creation of his Property Committee (we had all ready been in informal conversations about the dollar amount). None of this was a surprise, we were following the Protocol for Departing Congregations drawn up by the Bishop of Virginia's own committee!

No, the key meeting is what happened when David Booth Beers came into the diocese and two days later - that Wednesday in January - the protocol was abandoned by the Diocese, the Standstill Agreement was withdrawn, the parishes and leadership were sued and the clergy were inhibited. I can only speculate that Booth Beers threatened the Diocese (why else would Schori file her own lawsuits followed by the diocese itself later - was it just in case the diocese didn't do it?) - but I don't know, I don't know.

But it is grossly incorrect that the diocese were responding to the petitions since in the Standstill they agreed that they were not threatening. We did not leave the negotiating table, Bishop Lee did and he took the table with him.

bb

Anonymous said...

BB,

Your recall and interpretation of the events are correct. However, facts (like canons) are irrelevant to TEC.

This situation reminds me of a documentary showing the effects of severe drought on a pond that was home to a number of animals. As the pond dried out, it was dominated by a large crocodile which ate or drove out all the other inhabitants.

In the end, the mummified carcass of the large croc sits in a dry mudhole. Nothing is alive, but the croc held its territory to the end.

Anonymous said...

@ pjb - Sorry, but I don't see any of the claims you make about the PB. She just simply has not done any of the things you suggest.

I understand that you are having an emotional reaction. Lots of folks have invested a lot of time, money and passion into the issue. This is especially true in your area (Pittsburgh). That said, the PB has clearly, repeatedly, and forcefully affirmed the core creeds and councils of the catholic faith.

If you have heard or understood differently I STRONGLY urge you to examine your sources VERY closely. The PB is one of the most highly documented, on the record people in this country. You don't have far to hear what she herself has to say about her beliefs. DO NOT read someone else's interpretation or exerpt of what they claim she said, go and read, listen and digest what she says and means for yourself.

No reasonable person would think she is fibbing when she affirms these elements of the catholic faith. Why should she?? It's a lot less trouble to head out on her own than it would have been to have courageously stood and fought.

As for "deposing" clergy or Bishops, that seems to be a pretty a silly claim. She hasn't "deposed" anyone. She has simply taken some people at their word and recognized that they, including Duncan, have left TEC.

It seems silly to claim that you HAVE left TEC and yet you are still PART of TEC at the same time. Why do you want to have it both ways? It seems even sillier to say you have left and then get angry at the PB because she recognizes that "OK, I understand that you have left. I, as the leader of TEC, have a moral, christian, legal and fiduciary responsibility to address the issue, declare the vacancy that you left when you exited, and work to fill the resulting gap." What's to object to in that????

You surely don't claim that she has "deposed" anyone who hasn't already left TEC at their own admission and/or actions do you?

Has she been as effective, clear, and well and forcefully spoken at each and every moment? No, she has tended to be silent far too often in this dispute.

But she most definitely has not denied the core of the orthodox catholic faith. To claim she has is just plain silly.

There is plenty to disagree with (and I might agree with you on some points), but accusing her of denying the core truths of Christianity is just plain simply preposterous.

Now, as for the court cases, except for VA, where there seems to be a very peculiar law on the books that has made a (possibly short-term) difference, it seems pretty clear that TEC has won every single case that has come to trial.

The situation in CA on the congregational level is pretty clearly settled by the highest court in the land out there. That is simply a fact. The courts in CA have clearly also sided with TEC on the diocesan level. The cases are completely shut in TECs favor in CT, MA, NY, and a host of other states. It's clear that the cases are lagging in TX and PA, but one suspects that this is a matter of chronology of events and looking to the CA case to establish precedents.

The christian thing to do in these cases is admit you may have been wrong, stop damaging both churches and go about your way preaching the word of god and getting started building your own church.

One thing that repeatedly has struck me is the amount of attacks against TEC that continue by those who claim to have left. Whatever the legal case about property may be, if you are no longer a part of TEC then you have no more business commenting on TEC than you do any other denomination.

If you are gone, shake the dust from your feet and go in peace; why do you have to keep up this relentless attack against someone you have already left. You have more important things that should be on your agenda.

Anonymous said...

@ pjb 2

As far as TEC's "agenda" is concerned, they SAY that they want to preach the word of God and pastorally care for all of God's children, "even unto the least of these." What other agenda could they possibly have?

Why can't we just take them at their word? Their process (unlike that of some of those who would leave the church) has been remarkably open, evenly balanced to listen to both sides, democratically fair, and thoroughly documented. They have consistently said what they mean and meant what they said. What's the objection with that?

Now, there certainly are elements in TEC, interest groups and such, who clearly have an agenda. How is that different from those who would leave or the vast majority of "traditionalists' who have remained?

What's interesting is that TEC has simply admitted that they are divided on the issue, and they recognize that the division is even greater in the Anglican Communion, but that they insist that they want to take seriously and to continue to deepen the listening and discussion process TEC started in the 70s (more than 40 years ago you'll note) and to which the Anglican Communion also pledged itself decades ago as well.

What's wrong with taking your pastoral commitments seriously?

As for the property, the funds for those buildings were given to the Episcopal Church, not to some other entity claiming to be "Anglican." Unless you can clearly demonstrate that 100% of those contributors (both dead and alive) would have agreed to withdraw, you really have no moral claim on the property.

Legally as well as morally, the parishes and dioceses as well as all of their properties belong to the Episcopal church.

Imagine what the response would be if I were to claim that because my family was once Roman Catholic, that I have a right to take back the gifts my family has made to that denomination over the generations. The Roman church and the courts would rightly laugh me out of sight.

Anonymous said...

@ BB - According to TEC and the Diocese of VA it is you who are wrong.

Now, I've known Bishop Lee for many years as a parishioner. I know even more about him from other sources. Are you seriously claiming that the bishop is deliberately not telling the truth? Really??? I've never heard of him accused of any such thing before, have you?

Isn't it more reasonable and logical that the Bishop believes what he is saying to be true? I grant you that it's possible he is simply mistaken, but what he says and seems to believe is that the filing of the motions asking the court to recognize the separation and grant the property to those who wanted to leave had forced his hand. He says that he either had to fight for the property or surrender completely without a fight and without reasonable compensation at all.

Now, sad to say, in this fallen world we live in, a bishop, any bishop, is not just a spiritual leader; he also has certain administrative and fiduciary responsibilities toward the institution of the church and it's physical structure, as well as for the spiritual well being of his flock.

It is my understanding that if Bishop Lee had failed to stand up to the church he could reasonably expect to have been held personally liable for the loss or improper disposition of the church's property.

The bishop is an otherwise honest man; many on both sides would feel that he has often been dangerously naive and even sometimes irresponsibly gentle and accommodating at a time when firmness and clarity would have been more useful to the situation. Isn't it possible he believes the chronology he posted on his site and stated under oath in court to be true?

More importantly, it seems that the entire issue of chronology is simply a red herring. No reasonable legal authority in the land, including, you will note, Judge Randy Bellows, would claim that any agreement amongst the parties would have taken precedence over any ruling on the property by the courts.

If you think that any "Standstill Agreement" would have taken precedence over the courts, you have been dreadfully mislead by your adviser. I would suggest, given the amount of time, energy, emotion, and money invested that you consider holding anyone who would have mislead you in that way to account.

Anonymous said...

@ BB part 2

As for the PB and Bishop Lee's case against the churches in VA, they certainly do have standing in the courts, as ruled repeatedly by Judge Bellows. He hasn't ruled with TEC on many other items, but he has been clear on that subject: they have a stake and a logical case (good or bad was then yet to be determined) and they are a reasonable participant in the case.

That stake suggests that, if Lee and the PB had not brought the case, they would have, essentially, been improperly disposing of church property. As such, they would very reasonably have been personally liable for that fiduciary impropriety. It seems clear that simply letting the properties go without due compensation would have been improper under any reasonable assessment of the case from the point of view of TECs side of the story.

Although I was teasing a bit in the post that seems to have started all this, I also had a serious point. That original serious point is that we really must try to set our emotional reactions aside and try to look at this objectively and evenly from both sides.

Remember, I actually agree with your position on a number of points relative to TEC's recent actions: I'm just trying to be objective here and to see the issue from both sides. I think that we, as Christians and as reasonable and responsible citizens have a duty to try to be as objective and dispassionate as possible.

If the traditional polity of TEC is reasonable and holds true in the courts, then TEC and the diocese of VA had an absolute responsibility to contest and, if possible, win the case for property. If they failed to do so, they would not only have been irresponsibly damaging the patrimony of the church, but also the polity of the EPISCOPAL church.

In our faith, bishops have a particular, central, role - both spiritually as well as educationally and administratively. We are a centralized, hierarchical church and always have been. That's part of what it means to be EPISCOPALIANS. Although we have traditionally given wide latitude to the local church to meet local pastoral needs, and in the US we have tended to emphasize the role of the laity in church government, we are not congregationalists that can go haring off on our own, withdrawing from one community of parishes to join any other one that pleases us. we have a duty to obedience and unity UNDER the authority of our bishops. As US Episcopalians we also have a duty to the unity of the democratic process by which we are governed by convention. Individuals who do not like the drift of the larger church, can leave, but parishes and diocese may not.

If the VA case holds or even if Lee and the PB had failed to follow-up on the cases in VA, they would have been seriously compromising not just their administrative responsibilities, but the absolute theological integrity of the church's polity: the notion that the apostolic succession is important. If the current (unique) situation stands in VA, a serious blow will have been dealt to the polity of all apostolic churches, not just those in VA, but everywhere in the US. The root question in VA seems to have boiled down to the question: can a state (US or VA) so interfere in the establishment of a church so as to essentially invalidate the apostolic succession and all that it means?

Anonymous said...

BB

I think it boils down to our agreement that Lee filed the case in response to the potential threat that he would be held accountable for irresponsible disposition of property.

We disagree in our opinions as to the reasonableness of that threat.

Looking at it from TECs point of view, the threat is a very reasonable one, given the potential precedents and the implications for episcopal theology. I believe that those who have taken on administrative responsibilities such as these must be held to account for their actions in those capacities.

That, of course, is one of the reasons, why it is perfectly reasonable to include all those persons who were involved in the decision to take the church's property in case to account, including all 200 lay persons.

If you take an action you and you alone are and always will be responsible to both God and our society for those actions.

Forgiveness is Christian and we all can be forgiven and we all should forgive sins. That does not mean that we are absolved of the consequences of our actions.

Remember the story of the prodigal son? He was forgiven by his father. But the father said to the loyal son: "remember, all that I have is yours, but my son that was dead is returned alive..." (I'm paraphrasing from memory here, but I think that's reasonably accurate). In other words, the prodigal son IS forgiven. But he remains responsible for his actions and he is and should be held accountable for their cost: he is forgiven and welcomed home, but he won't inherit any more property.

Anonymous said...

I thought at the time (second half 2006) and continue to think that the Bishop and his Chancellor in Virginia were indeed sending confusing signals in dealing with disaffected elements concerning disposition of properties. There were differences in circumstance between some of the parishes. I often heard the situation in Dale City (John Guernsey's parish), where a negotiated settlement went fairly smoothly early on in the process, described as an indicator that secessionists in even the large historic parishes like Truro and the Falls Church would be given a pass on walking away with the buildings. I thought at the time that that could not possibly be and I am certain that the YES vote was pumped up considerably by the assumption blithely (and I think misleadingly) conveyed to parishioners that it was likely that the property could be retained without much fuss. I would have thought it far more honest for those leading the exodus to say, "we should assume that we will have to leave Truro (or the Falls Church) and we may never return. At a minimum, there will be a period of months or years in which we will have to find temporary quarters. It may be that we will have to build our own church, but it will be well worth it not to have to be associated with these weird, apostate Episcopalians" (to use some of the milder language employed to describe those less motivated to depart). Unhappily, that point was never made very clearly , and I do believe the Diocese shares some responsibility for being equivocal about its approach to the properties.

But it seems inescapable that once the 57-9 petitions were filed by the departing groups, the litigation game was afoot. I can't imagine that had the Diocese done nothing in response, and had simply stood mute at that point, that it could ever have asserted any right to possession or compensation, or have been in any position to protect the continuing Episcopalian worshippers, whatever their numbers.

But, to return to the important point flagged by Steven, the PB post does contain explicit discussion of possible settlement of property disputes. That' s the news in that letter, not whether the Presiding Bishop has a black, heretical soul. I find it a little bizarre that Jeffords-Schori puts such a premium on keeping out bishops from other denominations - once the property is conveyed to another group, that point seems irrelevant. But, for the big parishes in northern Virginia, the formulation in her letter would seem to open the way for a some sort of deal where the departing factions could secure access to former properties at some reasonable compensation. In Northern Virginia, I have come to think that an agreement that enabled CANA to purchase Truro (accounting for all property and accounts in place as of November 2006 and rents for use in the interim) while the Falls Church is returned for Episcopal worship (also with an accounting for all assets seized in November 2006 and rents for the interim use) would be a rational way to put an end to the legal bleeding. It would inevitably be less expensive than another four years of litigation and would protect all sides. The KJS letter in the post doesn't go into that kind of detail, but it doesn't exclude some version of that approach.

Scout

Anonymous said...

@ Scout.

Your points are, as usual, well taken. I agree that Bishop Lee was likely misleading in his lack of firmness early on in the process.

Even for someone in basic agreement with the objections to the direction of TEC, the so called discernment process seemed obviously and grossly biased and pretty clearly set up so that only a single possible result could be the outcome.

They seemed to misrepresent TECs position from the beginning as equivalent to the most radical of the advocacy groups. Even then there was only one citation of theology on the "other" side, despite nearly 40 years of theological discussion on the subjects concerned and an overwhelming majority of contemporary theologians who support TECs side.

Who in their right mind could have accepted such a process as being even remotely an even-handed discernment process? Even for someone who agrees with the theological position taken by the leaders, that "discernment process was ridiculously unbalanced. How Lee could have been so soft-minded as to have even given the appearance of being willing to accept the inevitable outcome?

There are those on the other side (TEC) who maintain to this day that the entire imbroglio is partly Lee's fault for not taking a firmer hand from the beginning.

Indeed, I've heard notions that the rectors of the parishes that were then considering an exit could have and should have been inhibited and removed AS SOON as there was the slightest serious talk of taking the parishes out of TEC.

That is what happened in other locations and, these people maintain, the result was a great deal more clarity in which the cases were settled much faster.

For example, the Diocese of Washington (DC) had a situation in suburban Maryland at about the same time. The Bishop (Dixon) simply inhibited and removed the rector, appointed an interim and everyone moved on (or away). There was some legal by-blowing, but, in the end, the diocese won without further question or controversy.

I believe the same course of events happened with similar results in PA, CT, and KY as well.

Although I, myself, think that the early inhibition route would have been far too draconian, it IS possible that VA is in this dreadful fix mainly because Lee was simply "too nice" and failed to uphold his own authority by putting a stop to the issue right from the start. After all, although we govern ourselves democratically, for the most part, in the end, spiritually and administratively, the Bishops rule. That's what it means to be Episcopalian.

Anonymous said...

@ Scout

Your discussion of a proposed settlement seems like a reasonable one to me (and has all along), but I'm not sure that reason is going to go over very well with some of the folks on either "side."

Once Lee had essentially damaged the authority of the apostolic succession by failing to have the necessary firmness when it was needed, I'm not sure that TEC will feel that they can stop short of anything that does not re-establish the authority of a hierarchical and apostolic church.

That may be the point of the PB's proposed limitations on a settlement restricting bishops from other denominations; she may be trying, paradoxically enough, to restore the authority of the heirs to the apostles. One would think that both sides have an interest in restoring the standing of hierarchical bishops in a centralized church based on the apostolic succession: that's what both sides believe, right?

In the end, it seems the PB is trying, once again, to offer all concerned a gracious way out of this mess. She has done this several times at several stages of these unfortunate events: what other hierarchical denomination would have offered dissenters "alternative oversight?" Or allowed a known advocate of separation to be confirmed a bishop of the church?

Surely no one thinks the Romans would have accepted let alone themselves proposed such an arrangement? Does ANYONE really think that Akinola would agree to "alternative oversight" for the "liberal" parishes in his province? The concept is laughable.

But the PB's offer does seem to be at least a reasonable initial negotiating point. Unfortunately, except for you and Steve, her proposal doesn't seem to be getting much in the way of a rational response from "this side" of the "discussion"

I have to admit, she hasn't communicated the offer in a way that makes it easy for this side to swallow; in fact, she hasn't done a very good job of engaging this side all along. The substance seems to have been there, but the offers seem to have been reluctant and the tone of engagement has been missing. Mind you, the immediate and rabid resorts to "apostasy" from the likes of Mims, Anderson, and the former bishop of Pittsburgh haven't exactly been models of warm personal engagement either. It seems that both sides have a good bit of emotion based rash statements to repent. I don't see either side getting down off their emotional "high horse" to get started doing a little "horse trading."

It would be nice, though....

Anonymous said...

your last comment is particularly insightful and fair-minded, Anon. We need a lot more of that mindset. I am admittedly a most inadequate reader of the Mind of God, but I can't imagine that He smiles on all the nasty bickering and name-calling that goes on in this spat over how to divide up the spoils of the Church we are all wrecking before His eyes.

Scout

Anonymous said...

We can argue all we want about how we got here. Those who have departed have no reason to trust the PB after she killed negotiations that could have produced an amicable settlement including cash to the diocese of VA.

This is now being settled in the courts nationwide and where TEC wins, there are only empty buildings, many of them unmarketable. This is her legacy: departed congregations, ghost church buildings and a faux gospel.

Anonymous said...

The buildings will not be as empty as you think, Anon 1952, if there are many people who find comfort in Christian worship in familiar surroundings. I suspect a great number of these people are now sitting in CANA and ACNA churches. I also suspect that they will continue to sit there and be welcome, feel welcome if those sites are returned to Episcopalian use.

Scout

Anonymous said...

There are undoubtedly people in CANA and ACNA who see the Church as the church buildings. There are also those who sincerely believe that the outcome will be God's will and that they should continue to attend in that church building regardless of who owns it.

I would doubt that more than 30% of the original numbers would return to the buildings, and that includes the shadow congregations that have been stood up by the dioceses. It is doubtful that the physical plants can be supported by that remainder.

Anonymous said...

You may be right, but right, truth and justice are more important than practicality. If you want to leave the church, LEAVE. You can't take the property or furniture.

TEC has survived for 200+ years, I'm sure they will continue to survive. In fact, according to the Pew research, it seems that TEC is attracting lots of new folks every day, with most of them coming across from the RCs and other denominations who are unable to even talk about these issues, let alone try to address the legitimate pastoral needs of ALL God's children.

DavidH said...

As is often the case, BB speaks in an authoritative manner but is plain wrong.

1. The CANA folks did not follow every part of the Protocol. They did not take a second vote, and the wording of their resolutions did not match the specific wording required by the Protocol. Why? Because their lawyers were telling them what to do and knew they couldn't completely follow a document that recognizes that the Diocese has a property interest.

2. The Protocol had effectively been rejected by the Diocese's Standing Committee in mid-November, long before the votes or Beers' meeting. The testimony in court was uncontested on that point. David Allison, an ADV board member and Church of the Apostles vestry member, admitted they all knew that before voting. The CANA folks then got a letter on 12/1 clearly warning them not to attempt to take the property. They went ahead anyway.

3. The petitions are lawsuits, seeking an order that would be conclusive about the property. The CANA folks were plaintiffs too, as the court's own opinion refers to them.

4. The Standstill Agreement recognizes that the petitions are lawsuits. Otherwise there would have been no need to put an exception in for them.

5. The Standstill was a temporary measure that the Diocese chose not to renew in Jan 2007. When all parties ceased to be committed to it, it became irrelevant.

6. The court decided to deal with the 57-9 petitions first because the parties were in agreement that it should do that. The court did not decide that on its own.

7. TEC did not file suit first. The CANA folks did with their petitions (some in mid-December, some in mid-January). Followed by the Diocese (on 1/31). TEC filed last, on 2/9.

8. The "new sheriff" remark was John Yates' account of what Bishop Lee said. Bishop Lee never testified that he said that.

I am no fan at all of the PB. But neither am I a fan of BB's constant misinformation.

Anonymous said...

"TEC has survived for 200+ years, I'm sure they will continue to survive. In fact, according to the Pew research, it seems that TEC is attracting lots of new folks every day, with most of them coming across from the RCs and other denominations who are unable to even talk about these issues, let alone try to address the legitimate pastoral needs of ALL God's children."

You MUST BE KIDDING!!!!!

EVEN TEC'S OWN DATA SAYS THEIR LOSING THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE A YEAR.

BabyBlue said...

Were you there, DavidH? Or are you writing what you've been told. As I wrote above, it was in testimony of the rector that Bishop Lee told him that there was a new sheriff in town. The Standing Committee did not reject the Protocol (in fact, they tried to change it and Bishop Lee requested that they leave it the way it is - and so it was received by the Standing Committee, not rejected, though that was an option they did not do that).

Yes, TEC filed the lawsuits first, the CANA parishes filed 57-9 petitions recording our votes. The CANA parishes sued no one and the action was not considered hostile (which a lawsuit of course would be!) when the Standstill Agreement was drafted. The CANA parishes did not request the court to make a decision on the property, we filed our votes - is that clear? We could have, but we did not do that. We thought we were going into negotiations with Bishop Lee on his property committee, let's make that perfectly clear.

What we agreed was to not take that next step - we stood still. We went to the table and that's where we were when David Booth Beers came into the Diocese. I don't know what he said to Bishop Lee. I don't know.

No, that's not accurate. The court decided to go with the 57-9 first, that was a strategic loss to the Diocese and TEC (if you think that's what they wanted than you are kidding yourself - it was strategic loss for them at the time, not to say that those lawsuits could be re-enacted if the VA Courts overturn Judge Bellows rulings). Believe me, that was a matter of prayer while we waited to find out if the lawsuits (remember, there were two - one from Bishop Lee and one from Bishop Schori) would be dealt with or the 57-9 petitions. It was not in the Diocese or TEC's interest to have the 57-9 petitions dealt with first, for if the rulings stand their current lawsuits are moot.

As I've said before, there must be a better way to do this, to remain in "as close a communion as possible" than litigation. Perhaps cooler heads will once again prevail, and that my friends is my prayer.

bb

Phil said...

DavidH,

Who was the defendant(s) in the suit CANA filed first? What damages or relief did CANA seek from the defendant(s)?

Jeff H said...

This comment thread makes me feel like this: http://assets.comics.com/dyn/str_strip/000000000/00000000/0000000/200000/90000/1000/500/291545/291545.full.gif

ejd said...

Anonymous - I'm guessing that "pjb" was meant to be "ejd" as you seem to be addressing my comments.

I am not having an emotional reaction. I am having a logical and theological reaction. My only emotion in all this is sadness that we have come to the point that separation is necessary and then to be sued by those professing to be Christians without even trying to work it out.

My sources for the Presiding Bishop's comments are videos of her saying the things I cite as well as the official site of the Episcopal church. I do NOT believe gossip and rumors and every time I hear of yet another statement by the PB, I check it out - always hoping the reporters were wrong. They have not been. Time and again she has made comments that indicate that she does not believe the only means to salvation is through Jesus. Therefore she can say she believes the creeds but when she makes other statements contrary to them, it is hard to ignore.

I do not understand how you can say the PB has not deposed anyone. First of all - until this past General Convention, the charge was abandonment of the communion - NOT abandonment of TEC. General Convention changed the canons to reflect what they wanted - not what historically has been. At least the majority of Bishops and clergy she deposed did not abandon the communion - they moved to another Province of the Anglican communion for oversight. That is not abandonment of the Communion. But the PB acts like TEC is its own communion - apart from the Anglican communion. And if they keep it up - they will be.

Secondly, Bp Duncan had not left the Episcopal Church when she deposed him for abandonment of the communion. Further, he never abandoned the communion. The diocese of Pittsburgh realigned with another Anglican Province rather than TEC.

Third, once a Bishop or clergy does leave TEC for another jurisdiction, neither the PB nor any TEC Bishop has authority to depose them anyway.

ejd said...

RE "Anonymous response to "pjb" pt 2

The reason we (non-TEC Anglicans) comment on TEC - is that they are suing us. That sort of makes it hard to ignore them. I know you believe the property belongs to the Episcopal Church and not to "some entity claiming to be Anglican." But, the Episcopal Church is still part of the Anglican Communion. I don't know of anyone who ever gave even $1 in a building fund drive to "The Episcopal Church". They gave it to their parish. I suggest you research the Dennis Canon before claiming that the property is clearly TEC's and saying that the majority of any parish and diocese have less of a moral claim than TEC. It was clearly the parish's or the Diocese's property until TEC decided around 1979 to pass the Dennis Canon and simply claim all property for the national church.
The dispute revolves around the issue of a hierarchical church as the courts have also said that the Dennis Canon cannot be applied to churches and Dioceses already in existence prior to its passage in a non-hierarchical church.

Whether or not TEC is a hierarchical church within the meaning of the law has yet to be determined. In fact, the issue may be heard by the US Supreme Court, so no, the issue is not resolved. Many claim it is an issue of fact that must be decided by the trier of fact, not the courts since having the courts decide it as a matter of law might well violate the first amendment.

The PB has no authority to overrule the decisions of a diocese - which is precisely what she is trying to do. We (the Anglican Communion) have never been a hierarchical church in the same way as the Roman Catholic church is. The PB cannot appoint our bishops. The Bishop cannot appoint our rectors. We vote.

So you see it's far from settled. And I hate to burst your bubble, but being an attorney licensed in the state of California, I can tell you that the rest of the country does NOT look to California to lead on legal issues. And none of the cases regarding Dioceses - not parishes - have actually come to trial yet. There is a huge legal difference between a parish leaving a Diocese and a Diocese leaving a Province. So far, these are all preliminary motions, rulings and appeals. Pre-trial can go on for years. TEC has claimed victory, but it has yet to win at trial. Sorry.

As for why we care - because we believe the PB (and others in TEC) to be preaching a false Gospel and harming God's people. How can we not care?

DavidH said...

bb at 8:26 am, "Were you there" is an interesting question for you to ask, given that you were not at the Standing Committee meeting in question either.

Fortunately, because the parties have made many of the case documents available online, many of the facts are there for people to see. And, the rest of the case documents are public records, easily obtainable from the court or if you know someone involved with the case. For example, the transcript from the very first conference the court held, at which it was decided to deal with 57-9 first, very clearly shows that you're wrong (at p.30, lines 4-16):

THE COURT: All right. Let me ask this broad question: Although the letters I received show that there is some difference between the parties about precisely how to proceed with the 57-9 litigation, would it be a fair statement to say that everybody in this courtroom agrees that I should resolve the 57-9 litigation before the declaratory judgment action? Is that something that everybody agrees on?
MR. COFFEE [CANA lawyer]: That was our take from the correspondence, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Okay. And Mr. Davenport?
MR. DAVENPORT [Diocese lawyer]: Your Honor, yes....


Phil at 10:26 am, as you know (but ignore in an attempt to be cute), the petitions sought an order that would give the congregations "conclusive" title to and control of the property, thereby extinguishing any other person or group's interests (meaning, obviously, those of the Diocese and TEC). They are somewhat like a quiet title lawsuit, in that respect.

BabyBlue said...

DavidH writes: "the petitions sought an order that would give the congregations "conclusive" title to and control of the property ..."

No, no, no. We filed our votes - we did not take the next step. We moved to join the Bishop of Virginia's Property Committee (why would we do that if we had taken the step to claim the property? We were prepared to put cash on the table, for heaven's sake). That's where we were until David Booth Beers came into the Diocese and it all fell apart.

DavidH - can you give me the URL for the citation above? I've looked for it - it was certainly not the desire of the Episcopal Church to have a trial over 57-9, I can only speculate as to why Brad said that. I do recall that regarding the issue of the nearly 200 people individually sued by both the Diocese and the Episcopal Church, the judge suggested it would behoove them to withdrawn those suits or he would rule on them and he suggested that all parties with their attorneys go out into the hall and have a parlay over that one. One of the rectors of the voting churches was in the courtroom with me and he couldn't buy a house because of those personal lawsuits. It was clear Judge Bellows was about to rule and I can speculate it would not have been in the Episcopal Church's favor.

So they withdrew their lawsuits with prejudice, meaning they could one day bring them back - a better situation for them then if Judge Bellows had ruled against them.

It would be helpful for me to see the the context of Brad's remarks and if I can recall the circumstances in the court room at that time. The Diocese at one point had charged all the churches with abandonment but that strategy itself was abandoned when Bishop Schori entered the litigation.

Now BIshop Schori uses surrogates to enter litigation rather than entering it herself as she did in Virginia. Now she sets up the shadow dioceses to do that for her, still supplying her own litigation counsel. She did not do that with the Virginia votes.

It was a major win for the CANA churches when Judge Bellows ruled that he would deal with the 57-9 petitions first. It was certainly not in the Diocese or the Episcopal Church's favor that the litigation would move in that direction, unless they naively thought this would all be wrapped up in a week and they could move on to the substance of their own lawsuits.

It was a very difficult time, with the breakdown of the Property Committee even before there had been a formal meeting. But even at that time, Bishop Lee was still referring to the filing of the votes as "reports" which is what they were - they were not lawsuits then and they are not lawsuits now. The reports were filed with the court but at no time did the voting churches sue the Diocese or TEC.

DavidH - can you let us know where on online you are reading the transcript? It would be very helpful read it in its entirety. Again, it was not what TEC or the DIocese planned. They certainly were not happy that their own lawsuits were set aside to deal with the 57-9 petitions first.

At some point, however, Bishop Lee was advised to stop calling the petitions "reports" (which is what they were and he had initially referred to them as such) and instead lead people to believe that they were lawsuits. Perhaps Brad and the others thought that by putting themselves in a defensive position that would score them points, but that's speculation on my part. It was spinning and perhaps kept the laity in the diocese in the dark about how things were truly fairing at the time in the litigation.

It would be very helpful, though, to re-read the transcript. Thank you!

bb

DavidH said...

bb at 12:58 am,

Your first paragraph about the petitions is just wrong, and in fact, it doesn't make any sense at all. Without a request for the order, you would not have been asking the court for anything at all. And your last paragraph about the way the petitions are referred to is also misleading -- each congregation filed a report, and each congregation filed a petition seeking approval of the reported vote by court order, again, thereby achieving title and control and extinguishing other interests.

(FWIW, what's the big deal? You filed lawsuits. Admit it and move on.)

The rest of your post explains some things -- namely that there are 3 different hearings and a couple different issues being jumbled together here.

I quoted above from the parties' initial scheduling conference in May 2007. I have no idea if that's online (a friend sent it to me; I'm sure you have lawyer friends that send things to you too), but send me an e-mail, and I'll be happy to send it to you. (PMing me on SF is probably the easiest and most private way to get me your address.)

The issue at that point was what does the court do first, and as the bit above shows (contrary to your earlier posts), everyone was in agreement that 57-9 was up first, with initial matters in the other cases proceeding at the same time. Given that 57-9 had been raised in both sets of cases (see the pleadings on the Diocese's website), it was inevitable that 57-9 be dealt with, and it's hard to see how scheduling it first favored either side. Remember that before the court's April 2008 decision, it was entirely unclear how the court viewed 57-9.

Your last post (12:58 am) refers to two different hearings and issues. First, in talking about the individuals being dismissed from the suit, you're referring to a hearing that took place in August 2007 on the CANA folks' demurrers to the Diocese's and TEC's lawsuits. And second, in referring to it not being the wish of TEC to have a trial, you're talking about the Sept 2007 hearing where the parties and the court discussed the upcoming trial (which had, at that point, been scheduled for 4 months and was less than 2 months away). At that point, yes, TEC made the argument that there need not be a trial. It's pretty darn hard to ever convince a Virginia court of that unless everyone agrees, and of course, CANA didn't. But that's a different issue from what went first.

BabyBlue said...

No, we filed reports of our votes. Even Bishop Lee called it that. We didn't ask the court to do anything, we filed reports of our votes called petitions. We could have done more, 57-9 provides for that - but we chose NOT to do it because we thought we were heading into property negotiations with BIshop Lee. We did not file lawsuits. 57-9 is a statute and we filed reports of our votes, period. Is that clear?

The DIocesan and TEC lawsuits were filed after the Standstill Agreement was rescinded. Those were the first lawsuits filed, the petitions were not lawsuits, as I stated before even Bishop Lee called them "reports" - which is what I understood them to be when they were filed.

The TEC and Episcopal lawsuits were set aside when the CIrcuit Court decided that it would address the 57-9 petitions first. The lawsuits may never be addressed if the Supreme Court upholds Judge Bellows rulings.

The address for this blog is open: BabyBlueAnglican@aol.com. You can feel free to send me the transcript at that address. I am curious as to why Brad said yes when it was clearly not helpful for the diocese to find their lawsuit and the lawsuit of Bishop Schori (remember, there were two separate lawsuits filed, which is also interesting, was it piling on or was 815 concerned whether Bishop Lee would go through it - after all, he ended up deposing his own cousin).

It is entirely possible that the Diocese was out-lawyered, but that will be a judgement for others to make when this sad affair comes to an end. I have a bias there - the CANA attorneys are amazing, but it's far from over and as we were recently reminded by an off-the-cuff remark by a diocesan official as the case now go to the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth of Virginia "you're in our territory now."

In the meantime, there are 24 boxes to be gone through in preparation for the Supreme Court's ruling on whether they will hear the appeal (which is extremely likely) and then whether they will overturn Judge Belllows' ruling.

It was a nail-biting moment waiting for Judge Bellows' decision. He is unreadable in court. He has a dry wit and he runs his court tight, the attorneys in his court remind me of students in the old Paper Chase series in the 70s and Bellows as their professor. He was quite amazing to watch.

For me, the telling movement was during the trial when the record of the former rulings using 57-9 were brought into evidence. One after another and to learn that the author of the legislation was the Speaker of the House of the state legislature. Another telling moment was when Ian Douglas could not define the words that he was brought on the stand to define. It was clear that to certain extent the Diocese and TEC did not seem to take the 57-9 trial very seriously. And so perhaps they never dreamed it would turn out the way they did, and so agreed to go forward with it first. I can recall that they thought the second trial would focus on their issues and it took them a while to realize that was not going to happen. I don't know, I don't know why they would agree to focus on 57-9, but it was one their major blunders. Of course, time will tell if blunder sees a better day, that the Supreme Court may vote to overturn Judge Bellows' rulings. That could very well happen. Perhaps, even as Bishop Lee is far, far, away from Virginia in Grace Cathedral in San Francisco that the Richmond based court will rule in his favor. But if it doesn't, perhaps that will be the best place for him to be, far, far, away. For the rulings are upheld, it won't just be the Diocese of Virginia that will be affected, but all the Episcopal Dioceses in Virginia.

It's a risk - and it appears the Diocese is willing to take it. But I think it would behoove them, even at this late hour, to consider negotiations. I really do. For even in this late hour, it's still my prayer that we find a way to stay in as close a communion as possible. On that mark, BIshop Lee got it right.

bb

DavidH said...

bb at 8:39 pm,

I don't mean to be rude (although, as APWBD astutely observed, accidental rudeness occurs alarmingly often), but apparently facts mean nothing to you.

Every congregation filed a report of the vote. Every congregation filed a petition. This isn't debatable -- go download them. And the very definition of a petition is that you're asking a court to do something. In this case, that something was to enter an order approving the votes and confirming conclusive title to and control in the congregations, thereby extinguishing the interests claimed by the Diocese and TEC. If you thought otherwise, you were confused or misled.

I've given you my best guess as to why everyone agreed to do 57-9 first. It's always possible to imagine alternate realities, but given that 57-9 was going to come up regardless of how things proceeded, it's hard to call dealing with it a blunder.

From the transcripts and briefing, I don't think your impressions about the Diocese, TEC, and their witnesses are accurate, but that's neither here nor there.

Have a good night. With this 81st comment, my contributions to your record are at an end.

Anonymous said...

Late to the party....but mulling this thread over I found it ironic that whenever anything is to the liberals liking, it's "our" locality, our rights, our diocese our polity, our property, our, our, our.

Yet why does a specific conservative's church make one lick of difference to or diocese the liberals ... other than the property. Does anyone ever see the liberals worrying about the souls of those in a conservative position. I know I haven't other than an accusation of mental illness.

I find it sad that what appears to be foremost in the minds of TEC are property, brand protection and pure spite. Picking and choosing which parts of the Bible apply today and not tomorrow doesn't make sense, but then again, nothing TEC has done for many years makes any sense.

That the liberal side chooses not to see the conservative pain or point of view isn't a surprise. While God has hope in each one of us, the prospect of hope the liberals will have compassion for the conservatives dims each day. Expecting it, I guess, really is mental illness.

I thought the last few weeks of lessons have been rather interesting of late.

Phil said...

DavidH @ 1118h, I disagree. The reason this filing – not a lawsuit – is not akin to a quiet title action is because the congregations were simply filing a record of their votes with the court, as the Virginia code allows them to do. That is, as established by the statute, there really were no valid competing interests once the congregations won the vote. That the Episcopalians initiated a lawsuit anyway and chose to play judicial roulette is not a counter-argument, simply a reflection of what good modern, secular Americans they are, suing every time things don’t go their way.

Now, I full well understand you dislike the law, but it remains the law nonetheless. The congregations exercised the right given to them under that law, and so their filing with the court was something of slightly more import than applying for a fishing license, but less than filing for a divorce. What surprises me is that ECUSA’s legal adventurism was permitted in the first place. But, again, that’s America: I wouldn’t be surprised if a random man were allowed to walk in off the street and sue me for painting my living room.