Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Advocacy Group calls for investigation of S.C. Bishop

This so-called "advocacy group" is actually supported by 815 where the President of the House of Deputies has been hanging with this particular group lately.  Not exactly an "advocacy group," it an attempt by 815 to use political methods to force the bishop of South Carolina to carry out it's political agenda.  The Bishop of South Carolina's restraint is quite remarkable.  Time to embark on the annual reading of The Crucible.  Witch Hunting Season is now underway!

From here:
An Episcopal "advocacy group" has requested an investigation of the leadership of the Diocese of South Carolina with regard to the withdrawal of parishes from the denomination.

The Episcopal Forum accused leaders in the diocese of "accelerating the process of alienation and disassociation" from The Episcopal Church.

"The Ecclesiastical Authority (the Diocesan Bishop or the Standing Committee) has done nothing to stop other parishes which outwardly appear to be moving in the direction of withdrawal from TEC," the group wrote in a letter sent this week to bishops throughout the national church body.

The group, which supports preserving "unity with diversity" in the denomination, also called The Episcopal Church to look into the lack of disciplinary action against a parish that left the South Carolina diocese earlier this year, and the removal of all "Episcopal" references in the names and websites of dozens of parishes.

"Actions and inactions of the Bishop appear to be tantamount to an abandonment of the polity of The Episcopal Church," the group argued.

The request for a probe comes a year after the diocese voted to begin withdrawing from all bodies of The Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Scripture and Anglican tradition. The withdrawal, however, was not a complete split from the national church.

Responding to the call for an investigation, South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence refuted the allegations outlined in the letter.

Rejecting the claim that he has done nothing to stop parishes from leaving, he said he and his staff have spoken with the leadership of every parish in the diocese that was considering disassociation. "[W]e have counseled patience and have received assurances that their intention is not to leave," he highlighted.

Lawrence also explained that disciplinary or legal action was not taken against St. Andrew's Parish in Mt. Pleasant, which severed ties in March, because litigation has only resulted in the "sour fruit of animosity."

A previous legal action against a parish had drained the diocese of more than half a million dollars, he noted, not to mention the broken relationships that came out of it.

"These are Christians with whom we have served side by side in the service of our Lord," he stressed. "You cannot make people love you, or bind them to your Church through coercion or fear. But if the Christian graces prevail may we not yet see our unity restored?"

Lawrence also noted that the word "Episcopal" remains in much of their signage. The charge that over 25 parishes have taken out "Episcopal" from their names or websites or no longer have any mention of The Episcopal Church is absurd, Lawrence said.

"[A]s I drive around this diocese on visitations I see the familiar The Episcopal Church Welcomes You sign as a ubiquitous presence," he said.

Since the 2003 consecration of the first openly gay bishop, tensions have remained high in the denomination. Thousands of Episcopalians severed ties with The Episcopal Church and in 2009 formed a separate denomination called the Anglican Church in North America.

Though frustrated over the "unbiblical" direction of The Episcopal Church, Lawrence encouraged the Diocese of South Carolina to remain and fight from within.

He has urged his diocese to stand on Scripture and the traditions of the Christian faith as they engage in a "battle" against what he sees as the "false gospel" in The Episcopal Church.

Next month, the Diocese of South Carolina will reconvene its 219th convention where they will consider resolutions that would protect the diocese from "unconstitutional intrusions" by the presiding bishop and affirm its "sovereignty."

"It is increasingly clear that we are engaged in a worldwide struggle for the soul of Anglicanism in the 21st Century," Lawrence stated. "Not unlike a battalion in a military campaign which is ordered to hold a pass even against overwhelming odds, we are called to resist what appears is a self-destructive trajectory by many within The Episcopal Church. We are called to stand our ground and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ until it is no longer possible."

The Episcopal Forum is part of the small advocacy groups set up in evangelical dioceses to force political agenda on the local dioceses - so much for a listening process, it was never ever about listening and if you don't know that it's also time for the annual re-reading of After the Ball.  Read this article here.   Bishop Lawrence responds:
Dear Members and Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all mercies and the God of all encouragement, who encourages us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God.”
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4)


Yesterday a group within the Diocese known as the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina wrote to the House of Bishops and the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church urging them to investigate my actions as Bishop and the actions of our Standing Committee. They have cited seven concerns as the foundation for their request. While these are trying times for Episcopalians and there is much need for listening carefully to one another, I do not want to let these accusations stand or go without response. Perhaps in their anxiety they have done us all a favor—indeed, presenting me with a teachable moment for this diocese and, dare I hope to believe, for others as well who may have read their letter. I will strive to refrain from using ecclesiastical language (Episcopalianese) or unduly difficult theology. Unfortunately, due to the accusations, a certain amount of each is necessary. Nevertheless, I will tune my writing as well as I can for the person in the pew. I will proceed by first putting forth in italics the accusation. In most cases I will just use their language, then, give my response. This could be much longer, but there is little need to try your patience.

a) The Bishop has taken no disciplinary measures or legal action against the leadership of the St. Andrew’s Parish, Mt. Pleasant, since it withdrew from TEC [The Episcopal Church] in March 2010.

I met with the rector of St. Andrew’s and have taken what I believe is godly and appropriate action to maintain the good order of the Church within this diocese, while seeking to keep the bonds of Christian fellowship between brothers and sisters in Christ free from rancor and misunderstanding. These are Christians with whom we have served side by side in the service of our Lord, whether on diocesan committees or in cooperative missions and ministry—Cursillo, missions to the Dominican Republic, St. John’s Chapel on the East side, St. Christopher, Youth Events, just to name a few. The legal action that this diocese took against All Saints, Pawleys Island drained from the mission and ministry of this Diocese of South Carolina over $500, 000 and along with losing the property bore only the sour fruit of animosity, broken relationships within families and long-time friendships, as well as within the larger community. Only now, through the sacrificial efforts of the parishioners and the leadership of what is now Christ the King Parish, Waccamaw and others, is the sour fruit of animosity being replaced with the fruit of the Spirit. Therefore, given the Biblical injunctions and the ruling of the Supreme Court of South Carolina (which even the “national” Church chose not to contest) I see no need to replicate that experience here in the Charleston community—unless it is the one of reconciliation. The Diocesan Convention affirmed me in this approach. You cannot make people love you, or bind them to your Church through coercion or fear. But if the Christian graces prevail may we not yet see our unity restored?

b) The Ecclesiastical Authority (bishop or Standing Committee) has done nothing to stop other parishes which outwardly appear to be moving in the direction of withdrawal from TEC.

Actually my staff and I have met or spoken with the leadership of every parish in this diocese that has taken or which I have heard was preparing to take steps to change their documents based upon their understanding of the State Supreme Court’s ruling in the Pawleys Island case. The two parishes that had already taken this action have subsequently written letters assuring me of their commitment to this Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. For those preparing to take such steps we have counseled patience and have received assurances that their intention is not to leave. I have dealt with their concerns in a pastoral rather than a public way. Had those in the Episcopal Forum wanted to know about these matters they could have asked me rather than first accuse me of inaction. What they and some of our Episcopal Church leaders ought to do is spend a bit more time listening to and seeking to understand what is motivating the leadership of some of our strongest and most dynamic parishes to even consider such actions.

c) The Ecclesiastical Authority [bishop] has declared verbally and in writing that the Diocese of South Carolina is a “Sovereign Diocese” and that the Presiding Bishop has wrongfully intruded into this “sovereignty”.

I learned long ago as a young man studying to be what was then referred to as a Lay Reader a very clear explication of our Church’s polity in this regard: Professor Powell Mills Dawley in his classic work in the Church Teaching Series states, The Presiding Bishop “…exercises no direct pastoral oversight of his own, nor does he possess visitatorial or juridical power within the independent dioceses of The Episcopal Church.” The Constitution of the Church affirms this fact. The history of this Diocese of South Carolina on numerous occasions has affirmed this independent or sovereign character. It ought to be of concern to every Episcopalian that there are those who would ignore this history and our constitutional heritage. An action which goes unchallenged may soon become a practice and a practice unchallenged may soon become policy or rule. I am not willing to surrender the freedom of this diocese or the historic polity of this Episcopal Church. For a further explanation of the intrusion issues behind my statement I would refer those interested to my Bishop’s Address at our Convention on March 26, 2010, (see www.dioceseofsc.org.).

d) The Diocesan website has removed substantially all references to The Episcopal Church. Further, of the 44 parishes with working websites… over 25 1) have taken out “Episcopal”, 2) have no link or mention of TEC or 3) have links to “partners” ….

I’m not quite sure how to address the research and anxiety that this charge suggests, but let me begin by saying that as I drive around this diocese on visitations I see the familiar The Episcopal Church Welcomes You sign as a ubiquitous presence. The word “Episcopal” remains in much of our signage. The Episcopal Church flag flies above the beach at St. Christopher. I might illustrate the absurdity of their charge by noting that in their letter they never refer to this diocese as The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina but only as The Diocese of South Carolina. Should one deduce from this fact that they themselves do not wish the word “Episcopal” in the title or is it merely that they fell back on the common usage here for over 200 years? If some parishes down play an institutional affiliation on their websites in an attempt to reach the unchurched or institutionally disinterested seeker is that some great travesty? Upon my visitations and confirmations I often meet with the candidates, I teach about the sacraments, about confirmation, about our being part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ, and our work as Episcopalians and Anglicans. Until the departure of St. Andrew’s Mt Pleasant, this diocese was one of the few Episcopal Dioceses in the United States to grow faster than the demographic growth in the region. If we can keep a fossilized institutionalism from becoming the focus and emphasize through a living faith the transforming freedom that is found in the good news of Jesus Christ, we shall do so again!

e) Missions are being planted within the Diocese; however, the [bishop] will not recognize or approve the establishment of St. Mark’s Chapel, Port Royal, a congregation of loyal Episcopalians that has doubled its membership over the past year.

I have met several times with the leaders of St. Mark’s Chapel, Port Royal—a fellowship of mostly disgruntled members of St. Helena’s Beaufort. St. Helena’s is one of the strongest and fastest growing parishes in the diocese—if not the country. The leaders of St. Mark’s Fellowship are well aware of my concerns. I have allowed them access to retired priests, which as the bishop I licensed to officiate at services. I have even allowed vacationing clergy from other dioceses to preach and celebrate among this fellowship. There are many complex issues to this matter which date back to the time of Bishop Salmon’s episcopacy that I shall not go into here. Frankly, this charge is a disappointing way for this group to repay my kindness to some of their requests.

f) With the support of the Ecclesiastical Authority a special Diocesan Convention held in October 2009 modified the declaration of conformity, signed by ordinands to the Priesthood or Deaconate, as specified in the Book of Common Prayer and the TEC Constitution….

This is just a wrong understanding of what the Diocesan Convention approved. There has been no modification of the Declaration of Conformity. The ordinands sign only the Declaration as it appears in the Constitution & Canons of TEC and the Book of Common Prayer. The statement referenced is read as clarification of the teaching of this Church for the edification of the faithful in the midst of the many controversies today. I would ask those in the Forum which of the expressions of our heritage they find so offensive—what is expressed in the Creeds, the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral or the theology of the historic prayer books?

(For an intriguing discussion of this matter I suggest members of the Episcopal Forum or other interested persons read a scholarly article in the Journal of Episcopal Canon Law by Jonathan Michael Gray, an assistant Professor of Church History at the Virginia Seminary http://www.vts.edu/canonlaw )

g) With the support of the Bishop, the Standing Committee of the Diocese proposed six Resolutions for the Reconvened Convention to be held on October 15, 2010…..

In March we recessed the Diocesan Convention with the constitutional question still pending: The ability of a diocese to govern its common life in a manner that is obedient to the teaching of Holy Scripture (to which every ordained person in this Church has given his or her verbal and written assent), the received heritage of The Episcopal Church, and in accordance with the Constitution of TEC. This has remained unresolved or, more accurately stated, entirely unaddressed by the Presiding Bishop; therein leaving in question our ability to pursue our mission, free from unauthorized intrusions. We sent her the Resolution stating the Convention’s desire that she relent from her unconstitutional intrusion by certified mail. This Resolution, supported by 85% of the clergy and lay delegates of the Convention, has received not so much as a phone call or a written note. The refusal of the Presiding Bishop to respond, along with the concerns we have discovered in the revised Title IV disciplinary canons is the reason for the continuation of the Annual Convention, (see Alan Runyan and Mark McCall’s article on our Diocesan website www.dioceseofsc.org ).

In Conclusion

It is increasingly clear that we are engaged in a worldwide struggle for the soul of Anglicanism in the 21st Century. This Diocese of South Carolina has been affirmed in our stand by numerous Dioceses and Provinces around the world: Archbishops and bishops from Ireland to Australia, Southeast Asia to Tanzania, from England to Egypt have pledged us their prayers and their hearts. What will emerge from this struggle we cannot say—but I am convinced of our vocation to Make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age. It is far more than a slogan for a T-shirt. Not unlike a battalion in a military campaign which is ordered to hold a pass even against overwhelming odds, we are called to resist what appears is a self-destructive trajectory by many within The Episcopal Church. We are called to stand our ground and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ until it is no longer possible; and at the same time to continue to help shape the emerging Anglicanism in the 21st Century, which is increasingly less provincial, less institutional and more relational. If this is our calling then we rejoice that his strength is made perfect in weakness. This is not a time to give-in nor give up; rather let us hold fast to the best of our Episcopal heritage while sharing Christ’s transforming freedom—with hearts set free—to a needy world today.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

The Right Reverend Mark Joseph Lawrence
From the Diocese of South Carolina. A great letter, Bishop Lawrence!

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are you certain this isn't just one more instance of TEC members holding (potentially) irresponsible leadership to account for misappropriating church resources? It sounds like it is to me.

The members of TEC has right and an absolute responsibility to so hold the leadership to account.

Wilf said...

Anon, what makes you think that this might be the case? It's difficult to answer your question when Bishop Lawrence has done so much to explain the case of the Diocese of South Carolina, and you don't provide any reason for why you hold this belief.

"absolute responsibility" here is a rather "heavy" term, i.e. the kind of thing one associates with "fundamentalism." I understand your concern about responsibility for accountability of leadership, but this is also a case where we need to take into account the kind of responsibility that Bishop Lawrence has, and the kind of responsibility that TEC has.

What do you think, for example, of the way that Presiding Bishop Schori was elected? Do you find that TEC has acted responsibly with regards to that? This looks to me like a faithful diocese which is protecting its members from irresponsibility of TEC, with some people hoping that TEC will be able to force unquestioning acceptance of its irresponsibility, and that it's a matter of faithful TEC members in the dio of SC doing what they can to hold the leadership of TEC to account, by protecting themselves from intrusion of highly irresponsible parties.

Some members of TEC are religiously devoted to the Presiding Bishop and seem to think that even though she may have participated in what Westerners usually call "election fraud," that there is some kind of "higher truth" about her and her words, and that there might have been a kind of "higher truth" in the action of General Convention and in the words on her Curriculum Vitae - sort of the way that some very devout Mormons read special things into the words and deeds of Joseph Smith. She certainly isn't teaching us that what Jesus told us about Himself, that He rose from the dead, or that He is God - she has some new teachings for us that are significantly different from what Christ taught. Maybe this is a gradual sort of new revelation to TEC. What do you think? Maybe she's just courageous enough to be telling us that Jesus was wrong after all, and that she has some more important things to tell us? Or maybe she's telling us that the writers of the Gospels were either lying or deluded? I think she's mostly just confused. What do you think?

I think the Diocese of South Carolina is very important, because they do believe what Jesus says, and they have a very important voice in TEC that needs to be protected. That's because I think that what Jesus tells us about Himself is utterly important and can't be replaced by other teachings.

Even if you think that we can't really be sure what Jesus said, and that church leaders should be free to tell us to believe whatever they think is important about Jesus and about other manners, I think it's kind of hard to reconcile the election process with what most Westerners think about democratic elections. But maybe we're reaching the end of democracy, maybe most people are usually unreliable and can't be trusted to vote, and instead we need strong, willful leaders like Presiding Bishop Schori to make the real decisions, and then help the people's feelings by making them feel special that they voted, even though she made the decision. I think that when we pretend to go through a democratic process, it's important to honor that process, even if it means that there is some risk involved, and the outcome might not seem ideal to us. What are your thoughts about this?

Daniel Weir said...

Are we at the point that any group of Episcopalians that want their diocese to stay in the Episcopal Church are to be seen as tools (or running dogs) of the PB?

TLF+ said...

Fr. Weir, if they are trying to force people to stay in TEC via lawsuits and bureaucratic manipulations rather than by appeal and relationship building, then yes. Tools and running dogs.

There needs to be a better way. The best you are going to get via this PBs approach is, "Hey! We beat those other people in court." Christ is not being advanced and for all the blather about reaching the young, the postmodern, etc., the hyper-institutionalism of groups like "Episcopal Forum" is the biggest possible turn off to unchurched people.

I do not take the position that people should just walk off from TEC - there should be covenants worked out. The kind of thing Bp. Lee and the CANA folks were working at until this PB got involved.

Lapinbizarre said...

"....the way that Presiding Bishop Schori was elected?" By the slim margin of a small number of reactionary "reasserter" bishops, who saw in her election the catalyst for their plan to divide the Church, Wilf? Without in any way impugning PB Schori's performance, it would have been interesting to see how much rope Bp Parsley would have cut you and yours in the shenanigans of recent years.

The Lakeland Two said...

And what will you say when they go after +Howe - who has said no to leaving. After +Lawrence, he's next.

Anonymous said...

Do we have a conflict with KJS? With the exception of the first post in this thread...it seems that KJS is the heart of the conflict within the TEC.

Is this really the reason why SC wants to disassociate itself TEC?

Seems to me this is a lot more profound than KJS.

Why is the TEC in court throughout the county? Is it the gay issue?, the marriage issue?, or is about the canons of the TEC that all parish's and Dioceses have accepted all these years and suddenly do not want to accept anymore. Remember that the suits are as to tangible property and who owns this property not the gay or marriage issue.

jjf

TLF+ said...

jjf - The fight is not just about title to property, but about how it is used. People didn't just up and start fighting over buildings, they were badly divided over issues and what message the property would be used to support. The canons and Prayer Book were being ignored to advance gay agenda items, and so there was chaos.

KJS has made litigation her primary mission, judging from the impact on her budget, what she's decided to cut, and who she's hired with limited dollars. So, yes, she is a big part of the problem.

Andy said...

The Lord Bless and Keep Bishop Lawrence in the face of this infestation of Community Organizers. After reading his letter, I see a man with the heart of a lion and the gentle, pastoral spirit of a lamb.

I see too that rather than unity, the PB is, by proxy, demanding absolute conformity to the new zeitgeist.

Wilf said...

jjf,

I think +KJS, and the devotedness of her followers no matter what she teaches about Christ, are more significant as a symptom of Anglican problems, than they are as a problem in and of themselves. They point to indifference regarding who Christ is, and a zeal for oppressing dissent. +KJS is special as the first female PB; when she is gone, the first gay PB will attract similar zeal amongst followers, but future PB's are likely to be less prominent unless they otherwise distinguish themselves.

I think we need some empathy for +KJS and see her as a victim of TEC and a neglect of many generations. The problem is, we do not like seeing her own wounded and ignorant condition creating a spiral of abuse, victimhood, intellectual indigence, and proclivity toward unethical action in a misguided zeal to support the causes of TEC.

What's your evidence that all parishes accepted the Dennis Canon - or that they even knew about it? I gave money to my parish when I lived in the States and never was a word said about the Dennis Canon. I doubt any of our priests knew about it; no word was sent to the parishes that they had been required to consider their property as "in trust" without having attained any consent on the part of the owners, or the givers who they represent. Were my old parish to leave TEC, many would claim that my intention was that this money should go to TEC (as is the case in the many blog comments saying that the intent of givers was to give to TEC). Not only would my gift be misappropriated, but my very intentions as well. Not so much by "the national church" but by loyalist commenters. Some of that money surely would be spent in buying curricula telling poor, theologically uneducated, easily manipulated folk that Trinitarian Christians are genocidal, scaring them away from faith in Jesus with ridiculous arguments that any educated person should spot - e.g., the "Living The Questions" series as you can see here. My money would thus be spent, really, on waging war against Jesus and encouraging people in the church to deny Him. I'm sure you would not like to see your money given toward teaching people that they should hate a certain class of person - and I think you'll agree, this video encourages hatred toward a certain group of people by inculcating the belief that they are genocidal. I agree in opposing hate mongering, I'm not so much concerned though about those "targeted" with hate and the possible stigma / exclusion, as the very people who see this video. These persons seeing these materials are being treated much worse than any Trinitarian Christians who are stigmatized / excluded / discriminated against / hated by the viewers of such materials, since they are being encouraged to deny Christ and give up hope in Him. We are told not to bring "another gospel" into the church and here they are clearly being entreated to another gospel, and being taught, through fearmongering, to resist coming to faith in Christ.

So to sum up:

-TEC is taking away the houses of worship of persons who believe in Christ
- TEC is taking their money, and to some extent, spending it on programs which resort to fear-mongering in order to encourage the spiritually vunerable to deny Christ
- this is the * one * thing such persons are told very clearly not to do with the most serious consequences I know of in the New Testament - no sex act, or teaching about sex, or genocide, or discrimination, or hate mongering approaches it in seriousness.

So in a way this is like forcing Muslims to draw Muhammad. People who are rather extremist may think it's cute or a good way of dealing with their enemies. It most certainly is a good way of demoralizing them. To me it's mostly just a symptom of a new form of "fundamentalist" zeal for a new kind of religion arising within TEC.

Anonymous said...

(first, an apology to BB. I was running late for work and forgot to sign the first post on this thread when I wrote it this morning. Please feel free to edit my signature in, if you wish)

@ WILF et al....

My goodness, isn't this just a wonderful nest of hate???

I would suppose that anyone holding a position of fiduciary responsibility would expect, as a normal course of business, that their transactions, particularly such sweetheart deals as these seem to have been, would be questioned and investigated. One good thing in Lawrence' letter is his statement that he welcomes the investigation.

You can't possibly be maintaining that the kind of transaction on which an investigation is being requested is not, at the very least, highly unusual, can you? Any responsible fiduciary authority expects and, indeed, welcomes investigation of extremely un-usual transactions such as these seem to have been.

What makes you think that these folks do not have both the authority and the responsibility, as members of TEC and the DofSC, to questions these highly unusual transactions? What makes you think they are being unreasonable to ask for an investigation?

What makes you think that Bishop Lawrence is not subject to investigation by and answerable to the house of bishops? Their responsibility to investigate such highly unusual and highly unfavorable transactions seems obvious to me. That Lawrence is answerable to the house of bishops also seems obvious. What makes you think he's an exception?

I asked my original question because those requesting the investigation seem to be concerned about misappropriation of church property. They have, accordingly, asked for an investigation. Such a request seems natural and even inevitable at any time that a body of non-members is given, essentially, a sweetheart deal on a valuable pieces of the church's property. It seems even more inevitable when such sweetheart deals begin to become common.

What responsible member of ANY community wouldn't ask for an investigation in similar circumstances? What responsible member of any community would not have an absolute responsibility (there's that phrase again) to so request an investigation?

Why should Bishop Lawrence be any exception? What is exceptional about his position that disobliges him from both normal fiduciary responsibility and his accountability for that responsibility to both the people of his diocese and to the house of bishops?

bookguybaltmd

Anonymous said...

@ WILF et al pt 2....

So, too, what on earth do wild, unsubstantiated charges regarding the PB or her election (YEARS ago now!) have to do with a request for investigation brought before the House of Bishops? What does the PB have to do with a request submitted directly from some members of the DoSC to the house of bishops? They aren't the same thing, after all.

In any case, what on earth makes you think that the PB is teaching anything other than the orthodox Christian message of our lord? If you are to substantiate this stuff, I'm going to ask you for primary sources (preferably the documented statements of the PB herself). Unsubstantiated, wild, "trial by internet" charges against the PB are just won't cut it. This 'trial by internet' stuff sure looks, sounds, and smells like a distraction to me....

And, even if she were, what does that have to do with an investigation of apparently shady (or at least highly unusual) financial transactions in the DofSC?

What on earth does the (yes!) absolute responsibility for fiduciary responsibility of a bishop of TEC have to do with the political situation within TEC? What does the particular political situation have to do with fiduciary responsibility in general?

What on earth is it that you suppose the DofSC is being protected from in the TEC house of bishops? What does any of that have to do with the authority of the house of bishops to investigate such transactions?

Why do you think that your questions regarding my, or anyone else's, orthodoxy are a fit answer to questions regarding fiduciary responsibility? You don't even know me! Certainly, you don't seem to have bothered to inform yourself about the orthodoxy of TEC. Because I KNOW the orthodoxy of TEC, I have to ask myself: are you being taken in by unreliable sources, or are you making something up out of whole cloth to distract us from the real issue?

To be perfectly frank, WILF, when I see wild, unsubstantiated charges on completely unrelated subjects such as you have made here, I start to get suspicious. When I see questions that lead to a possible debate about a previously unquestioned (and completely UNRELATED) orthodoxy I start to get the willies. When I see completely un-warrented name calling ("tools and running dogs"??? Really???), I start to think someone's trying to bamboozle me. When I see people question if they should stay in the TEC because of an investigation (sounds like black-mail to me!), I start to think someone is getting desperate. When I see apparent misappropriation of resources such as those of Lawrence justified by such unrelated subjects, as they are in Lawrence' letter, I begin to smell a rat.

Such tactics do not serve his or your cause well because such tactics make any reasonable person concerned that something is almost certainly wrong. In particular, a long diatribe against the PB (unrelated as far as I can make out) and the orthodoxy of TEC makes me almost certain that someone is trying to distract me from something. This is exactly the sort of little game that Armstrong in CO tried to pull; HE was convicted in the end.

Is this a shell game you and Lawrence are playing WILF? What is it that you and Lawrence are trying to distract us from, hmmm...?

Your post and Lawrence' letter make me pretty certain that an investigation is more than warranted. There MAY well be nothing wrong, but this nest of red herrings makes me more cautious. The evidence of emotional panic in a hate filled screed against a completely unrelated individual makes me more interested in a thorough investigation, not less.

bookguybaltmd

TLF+ said...

BOOKguy? Implies a reader, ironic since you are pretty minimally skimming before typing.

The "tools and running dogs" line was introduced by someone defending the PB. So it was quoted to answer what he said, and the answer was clear that people wanting to stay in TEC don't deserve that kind of insult, but people who live for the melodrama of litigation do.

"Nest of hate?" You skim for words to fault, when we are talking about multimillion dollars of lawsuits, fragmentation of a communion, denomination, congregations and relationships, and all kinds of other awful stuff. And then you call for "investigations" and other such melodrama? Really a case of seeing a speck in someone else's eye with a beam in your own.


There are irreconcilable divisions in the church. Good leaders would invest more energy and resources in finding some creative way to maintain connections across distance, or share facilities, or something. Something to keep people in relationship rather than grasp at buildings, titles and perks. So yes, I am saying that this PB is a bad leader, but she's just reflective of the state of the denomination in general. Huffy, opinionated and lacking in all but a few symbolic tributes to Christ. That's why I wrote that she's part of the problem - we are all the problem. And I'm still in TEC, fwiw.

Anonymous said...

My question remains: why all the distraction when all that has been asked is a simple investigation of what you must admit is a highly unusual set of transactions?

Any rational and fiscally responsible member of any organization would be asking the exact same questions.

Personal attacks on the church, the PB, me, or even minorities, or questioning political motives only serve to convince me all the more that an investigation is warranted.

What rational person WOULDN'T be at least a little bit suspicious?

I worked for a Financial Institution for 30 years. Audits and/or investigations of unusual transactions are a GOOD thing in any organization.

bookguybaltmd

Wilf said...

@bookguy - the answer to your question is above already in the link - I will link it again - here for your convenience - you'll find the PB's own words, in their original context, linked there from material taken from the site of the Episcopal Church. It's up to every Episcopalian, of course, to judge the PB's words for themselves - the many words of elaboration are necessary because of the way she takes things out of context and attempts to point her listeners into a particular direction. Since then more has been written, linking Schori's views on Christ to Marcus Borg.

Re. her election: it is irrelevant if you think it's ok to hold a fake election. Yes, it happened years ago, but it has never been investigated by TEC. This makes, in my eyes, TLC itself a rather dangerous entity lacking in accountability. And it's perfectly logical for a diocese to protect itself from such. It's also linked above, and you provide no rational response, your main defense seems to be that it happened a few years ago.

Yes, the HOB technically has the right to investigate. But is such an investigation called for? You make many allegations here as well, Bookguy, but without providing any links. I'd be interested in your sources. Are they from the site of the Diocese of South Carolina, or from the Episcopal Church? You have provided a little more information on what you suspect to be the case here, but I don't know if these are just the allegations that various TEC loyalists have had, or if they have ever been substantiated.

I am sorry you are under the impression that there is "hatred" here. I think you'll find that most commenters here have a very sincere love for Episcopalians. And that we are crushed at what we see happening to Episcopalians.

We still don't know that much about the Don Armstrong case. My guess is that the vestry inappropriately agreed to allow parishoners to donate to it money earmarked for the education of Armstrong's children, in order to avoid creating yet another trust fund. Seeing you are so concerned about this, what do you think about how TEC uses trust funds for mission work to pay for litigation, but with it being unlikely that any significant sum of such money was earmarked for litigation?? If you are concerned about what Don Armstrong did, you will most surely want to ask your bishop to call for an investigation of the use of the TEC trust funds.

I'm not saying anyone should leave TEC. I'm just staying, if you stay - do what you can to transform the national organization into an organization which serves Christ. I believe the Diocese of South Carolina, if it can overcome the legal depredations of the national church, is an organization which is as likely as any to help that cause. So doesn't it make sense that some people here are supporting it against TEC's maneuvering?

Wilf said...

Lapin,

I've heard allegations that some "conservative" TEC bishops voted for Schori, and I'm likely to believe that at least one did - though not so likely to believe that a large group did, simply since I've looked, and never found this substantiated. I'm not sure how much it matters; I'd also like to hear them give an account for their actions, and I am not fingering anyone specifically as "guilty" for such an act, it's simply a prominent symptom of how diseased and unaccountable TEC is at the national church level. Nb, such bishops are not "mine" - I haven't been a part of TEC for more than 20 years, I'm in the Church of England. Strangely enough, I share something with some of the ACNA people: one of my previous bishops was inhibited by +KJS.

Lapinbizarre said...

"..... one of my previous bishops was inhibited by +KJS". Not a reference to the Henry Scriven canard I hope, Wilf.

BabyBlue said...

I think it's important to note that the "advocacy" group Episcopal Forum is the precursor for a future shadow diocese. The "via media" groups were formed to be shadow dioceses and we see this now coming into play into the Diocese of South Carolina. It is clear that this is getting support from 815 - it's not a secret. This was the litigation strategy outlined to the HoB at least as early as 2003. These advocacy groups were formed to put into place what would become the shadow diocese and alternative "leadership" or voices in that diocese until it either started to behave or it separated from The Episcopal Church.

Mark Lawrence has no intention of separating from TEC, but he is not going to play the game set up by 815 and their "advocacy" groups. It is so interesting that this particular "advocacy" group is now creating press events - this is how public relation firms and "community activists" work. Since Schori has no authority to make Bishop Lawrence do what she wants, this method is employed instead.

And it's not a surprise because we've seen it over and over again in the past seven years.

bb

Wilf said...

@Lapin, yes, I mean Henry Scriven. I know he took it well, though, so in a way you're right that it is a bit of a canard. Still, I was rather awed at her gall. At the time, Mark Harris posted that he hadn't been inhibited, that it was a this-type-proceedure and not that-type-proceedure, though no links were given. I found the original pdf on the site of TEC and, indeed, he had been inhibited, referring to "the gifts of ordination" being removed (I believe it wasn't even "of this church," just plain "gifts of ordination."). I think it was mostly a hasty move on TEC's part, there certainly was no attempt to "rub it in" and Mark Harris did try to mend things somewhat, though it would have been better simply to say "we made a mistake."

Andy said...

For the sake of objectivity, I popped onto the Episcopal Forum's site. I clicked away with the sense that this wasn't an earnest band wanting to preserve their staid and true DioSC. Rather, I got the sense that this is an organized insurgency taking its marching orders from some Yankees in Manhattan.

Wilf said...

@bookguy - looking over your comments some more, I need to stipulate:

I know that there are still many faithful Episcopal churches out there that are "orthodox." Yours may well be one. Many who embrace a fully Trinitarian faith are as yet rather uninformed about what the PB has taught. Many priests are reluctant, for many reasons, to inform their parishoners of such things - including concerns for the well-being of their parishoners' own faith.

When I was a TEC parishoner, we hardly ever spoke of the diocese or of the national church. There wasn't much good to be said of such things, so we spoke of other interesting moments of Anglican history. This was pre-internet, Bishop Spong was just becoming rather well-known as an author. We had some most excellent priests. One is still in TEC; one was once given the task of helping a church that had recently split, the majority having left for the ACNA; the other passed away before 2003. One was a sort-of-high-churchey evangelical; the other was a died-in-the-wool Anglo-Catholic.

If you manage your way to this place, though, I think it's best you hear about some things, no matter what kind of parish you come from. You're no longer isolated from the ongoings of the national church.

Not all who are in TEC are best served there. I wasn't arguing for anyone to leave, but ... if your parish has positive words for +KJS without pointing out the flaws in what she teaches about Christ - if you do not have a "missionary type faith" and a stomach for apostasy, then I have no doubt that you are better served elsewhere; unless you are non-Trinitarian and very much committed to the path of the national church. And these are not words of hate toward you, I hope you realize that; I want you to know Christ if this is somewhere on the horizon of potentiality for you. I think you do know Christ since you don't simply call me a "fundamentalist" or a uselessly naïve fool when I mention that Schori teaches contrary to the church teachings of the resurrection and the divinity of Christ.

I don't mind you calling my words hateful, and I totally understand; these are incredibly ugly times for all Anglicans, it's like a war - and I know that a lot of this stuff hurts, A LOT. And you probably do not know a lot of what is going on in Anglican-land. I hope that you see that I don't hate you and I don't hate Episcopalians; but don't even worry too much about that. It's in the Risen Christ that we have hope.

Who you are in Christ is a lot more important than what church you belong to. And there are a LOT of good Trinitarian churches almost wherever you live if it's in the U.S.A.. I think you probably would do better away from the Anglican war altogether. It's getting very, very nasty. Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist, Eastern Orthodox, etc. etc. ... there are a lot to choose from. And Anglicans in general (if we accept the precepts of the Quadrilateral) believe it's a LOT more important to respect Christ than to have some odd affiliation with all this historic Anglicany-type stuff which is increasingly becoming fetishized and no longer substantially meaningful.

Look around you ... there will be people serving God who will welcome the opportunity to fellowship with you.

Or you may choose to stay, like me, and do what you can. But in that case, you need that "missionary faith" and must look forward to much hardship in precisely the place you'd want to see God's glory (the church).

Lapinbizarre said...

The Henry Scriven "affair" was neither more nor less than a "reasserter" hissy-fit-in-a-teacup, Wilf. Lies and malice for the sake of lies and malice. Not for the first or the last time, but a spectacularly egregious example, for sure. Read the linked Mark Harris post on the topic.

Wilf said...

@LapinBizarre - this theory that "conservative bishops" were in some substantial manner responsible for +KJS's election - I've seen it floated so often I suppose it does merit a bit of research.

I offer: an article by Sarah Hey of StandFirm where she is unconvinced. One commenter notes she fails to account for suffragen bishops. A few others note David Virtue as the source (many don't link Virtue articles since they don't like his use of language, it was his use of language which convinced a few to start doing the same but in a different manner). I haven't been able to locate the original Virtue article, but the commenters say it is based on "speculation."

Don't discount Sarah Hey's article simply because she's a StandFirm writer - she calls a spade a spade, and has recently been rather adamant asking for more accountability from Don Armstrong.

I don't find this such an interesting topic because no matter how she got into office, her enthusiastic support shows me that there are tremendous problems with TEC in the Christology department (sort of like a hospital having problems in the health department). But given the echo chamber effect, it has become an interesting topic. Perhaps you can find something beyond David Virtue's suspicions which places this rumour into the "substantial rumour" category, or even better than that? After all, you've cited the rumour, so I suppose you are interested in the truth here. There may well be material out there of which I'm unaware.

Wilf said...

Lapin, you'll need to show me the lies. I alluded to Mark Harris's posting in my above comment. It would have been better if Harris had simply stated that TEC had made a mistake. You'll notice my comment with the link to the pdf on the site of TEC is not there. It was probably a bit too telling that something of a cover-up of a mistake was going on. I didn't cache the .pdf, I do that mostly for Christological stuff (like Schori's Parabola interview, which was once on TEC's site, but was removed).

Wilf said...

Lapin, I found the pdf. It's here.

Notice the wording:
... The Right Rev. Henry Scriven,
Assistant Bishop of Pittsbugh,
who is ... deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God's Word and Sacraments conferred on him in Ordinations.

I think this was a case of having "standard boilerplate" that wasn't much thought over when the signature went on the paper, given the backpedaling in Mark Harris's piece (where he says that Ordination is indelible).

I do recall some revisionists being upset that Scriven was acting as a bishop in the UK after this happened, that this showed disrespect of the Church of England for TEC. This is no great issue, though; they were just misinformed about this case. People on both sides sometimes tend to draw hasty conclusions.

Galletta said...

Someone earlier wore of fiduciary responsibility. It seems to me that the amount of money needed to conduct 55 lawsuits speaks of gross fiduciary responsibility.

Anonymous said...

The lawsuits are largely unavoidable once departing groups seize property on the way out. No national or diocesan bishop could stand by and accept unilateral acts like that without grossly violating his/her obligations to those who stay and to the larger Church. I still have no idea where the notion comes from that one can leave a church and take things with one, and I continue to consider it an ethically crippled position. Having said that, I understand why some, in all good conscience, have elected to leave and find more salubrious spiritual homes elsewhere. I wish them well and admire their principles (as long as they leave things where they found them at my church and others where we made, in all good conscience, a decision not to leave.

Back to South Carolina. I think highly of Bishop Lawrence and hope he stays active in the Episcopal Church. His decision, however, to segregate his diocese from the governance of TEC creates substantial problems for the national church leadership. There have been a number of priests and bishops over the last few years who, after having internally come to the conclusion that they should depart the Church, have stayed on in their positions egging on others to leave and being actively complicit in elaborate stratagems not only to lead others out, but to lay claim to assets and property of the church they are leaving. This very much forces the hands of diocesan bishops (where this kind of behavior takes place at the parish level) and the national church when diocesan bishops are exhibiting this sort of extremely indefensible behavior. I have not detected that Bishop Lawrence has done anything but be faithful to his obligations to protect properties and assets in his Diocese. However, if he were engaged in behavior that included exploration of how to exit the church with properties in tow, the national church would have every obligation to put a sudden halt to it. I pray that nothing of the sort is going on, but we are all aware of clergy and bishops who in recent times have not had the moral and ethical compass to act on their theological conclusions by simply leaving.

Scout

The Lakeland Two said...

Scout - as you know, I understand where you are coming from. I agree with your last statement wholeheartedly, though in a different way. If clergy and bishops in recent times who have an eye for a different focus had the moral and ethical compass to act on their theological conclusion by simply leaving, the issues we are all facing would not exist. While I feel you are talking about the recent departees, I ask it about those who initiated the revisions that pain a lot of us old timers.

I have a question that is seriously asked: If Spong does not believe in much of traditional faith, what was he doing in the church in the first place, then what was he doing later on - when he became a bishop?

I have been told by someone who had personal experiences with Spong, that Spong was pushing the envelope with delight. Why?

Why instead of leaving things as they were was/is there such a desire to change the church into something new rather than to enjoy it as it was? I understand change happens over the course of time, but when it is pushed for a purpose - it changes the foundational basis of the original entity.

Thoughts?

Wilf said...

Well-said, LL2.

Scout, have another look at your post. "Morally crippled." I think you might not understand the complex situation that TEC put us in when it unilaterally attempted to seize the properties and bank accounts of parishes, and furthermore kept this relatively silent in not informing them of such a profoundly legally complicated move of a unilateral trust in which these parishes were forced into being the donors (of all they had, moreover). You also might not know that a number of dioceses, including the diocese of Washington, don't have the accession clause, and some have canons which explicitly deny certain TEC canons. See Mark McCall's latest article.

I'm not saying they are right - I'm just not sure, and I vascillate. I wish TEC provided more options here. Like, e.g., "all the money and property goes to directly to Habitat for Humanity" or something like that.

Don't let your rector - however passionate he may be at getting that nice, big piece of property and accompanying bank account for your group - obfuscate your very moral vision. You can be sure that there are values here being weighed on the "other side" which your rector doesn't have time to explain. If you have any doubt about this, ask bb. And try to understand how many who feel that, while the canons have their importance, the Gospel is more important. Your rector may believe he can perceive into the souls of clergy and bishops who haven't yet departed - I doubt though that he can. Those who haven't left yet may have compelling reason to stay, and feel God hasn't yet called them out.

We don't ALL want to become "fundamentalists" here. We all belong to an apostate Communion, let's just get used to that - in such a state of apostasy, it's only natural that all sorts of unseemly things happen. But we needn't call others "morally crippled" without having just cause, unless we're willing to take this appellation upon ourselves as well.

I have said unseemly things in the past in the fog of this war, Scout, so I understand. Chalk it up to a profoundly disfunctional church that needs to call upon the name of Christ.

I do see your concern, Scout, and I most certainly would not want to call you morally crippled, despite your colorful vocabulary for your opponents.

The Anglican War is taking its casualties, and one of them is, frequently, reasoned discourse. My apologies to any I may have unnecessarily offended.

Anyways - since we're on this topic, Scout - in your group, what percentage of the church's funds would you estimate were donated by the group of which you're a part? And which percentage would you estimate was donated by those who left?

Robert said...

Scout, if the Church were the same kind of organisation as, say, the CWP or the Hells Angels, then your reasoning would be bang on. All property goes to the Club, and anyone who leaves becomes an enemy deserving the worst fate the Club can dish out. The part I believe you are overlooking is that, not only is the Church, "not an organisation but an organism," but that organism is the very body of Christ, living, essentially, for others and not for its own glory; living to the Head, which is Christ; with the headquarters serving, legitimately, for the one purpose of helping each and all members live to that Head. For anyone who has so much as passed the Gospel Light® elementary Sunday School curricula, much less a legitimate Divinity degree, to behave with such rancor toward any manifestation of orthodox, Biblical, faith is to knowingly proclaim oneself an intentional enemy of the Gospel of Christ.

Alexi said...

MIsappropriating church resources ? Please elaborate! Where do you get the idea that church resources were misappropriated ?? As I am in the Diocese of South Carolina, I would like to KNOW!

Are you referring to that Bishop Lawrence did NOT sue St Andrews in the name of TECUSA?? Have you stopped to read the SC Supreme Court decision? There is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON for a parish to be sued over leaving. Who owns the property rests in the various legal documents of each parish. The Denis Canon is not enforceable in this state. SORRY!! So why should Bishop Lawrence even try when such a case would likely be thrown out of court given the recent decision. Even 815 did not see to take the case further.

The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina is a small but rather vocal minority here. I agree with BB. They will become the "faux" diocese of SC if such a time comes.

SC Blu Cat Lady

Anonymous said...

LL2, I bragged at Stand Firm about the quality of your and my relationship, but appear to have gotten myself banished from that site for the comment that contained that particular encomium.

Re Bishop Spong, your point is well taken. I would withhold nothing I have said about folks leaving in good faith from the Bishop. If he felt he should leave the Church, I would defend his right to do so. If he left and took stuff with him, I would be up in arms. For me, the analysis doesn't change depending on the reason for the departure. If you can't abide staying, leave. If you leave, don't take things with you. I don't care whether you're Bishop Minns or Bishop Spong. Vote with your feet, but don't stuff things in your pockets.

Scout

The Lakeland Two said...

Scout,

I am so sorry about you being banned. I don't agree with it. I have asked for it to be reconsidered - though a banning hasn't been reversed to my knowledge. I do value that while we don't agree, we respect each other.

What I am asking is that why would someone want to turn an organization from its roots? Spong is but one example, there are others. Why become a "member" - clergy then bishop if you don't agree with the roots of the organization - in this case the church? The point that Spong and others did with the idea of being harbingers of change rather than being faithful to the roots is what is the origin of the problem.

I know you and I have gone rounds on this. What I see is people trying to maintain those roots where they encountered them - trying to protect the whole tree.

As I've said before, those who left should have provided a viable seed for those who chose to continue with TEC.

But it still doesn't solve where we are now - and my diocese's situation is different than yours. What way forward from here would you suggest that would be viable for both sides?

Anonymous said...

The ban reflects very little on me and very much on the gatekeeper there. I still enjoy the site (I just can't use my desktop to access it) and continue to learn a lot from the theological discussions there. Where else can we find a comment thread in the hundreds on the filioque issue?

I think the core value for me (for this thread), LL, is that it is inevitable that people will have differing views on some of these issues and that there is a remarkably low-conflict, ethically correct way to deal with those differences when they become so acute that one can't tolerate a continued association with a particular church: Leave and go create or find something better. No lawsuits, no name-calling, no politicking, just worship.

Scout

BabyBlue said...

Well, that is certainly an interesting view - following that logic though we would probably not have a United States or a Republic of Ireland. The question is whether we can find more peaceful means of living together since we are still in the same family. That was the point of the Virginia Protocol - it was thought that this would be all done in the hope that we would remain in as close a communion as possible. I guess that is still my hope - what can we do to work toward that goal?

If it means the Diocese of Virginia takes control of the churches properties (and this would affect not just the parishes that separated, but all the parishes in the Diocese, something to think about) then that may be an option. I am just not sure how the diocese will be able to afford all these properties and will need to sell many of them, including the new sections of The Falls Church. There must be a better way than the "all or nothing" stance - that we might be able to work together to find, as Bishop Lee used to say, a way to stay in as close a communion as possible.

bb

Anonymous said...

BB - what is the relevance of the founding of the United States or the Republic of Ireland? What does that have to do with anything? Those were (I feel a little silly saying this - I would have thought it obvious) secular political events.

My point is that, if people leave a church and join another, or start a new one that suits them better than the one they left, there are never lawsuits, never inhibitions, never rancor (at least there shouldn't be), never internal politicking, never millions of dollars being poured down lawyers' gullets. Simply new churches, new personal relationships, new dynamism to moving forward with God's will on earth.

I have no clue as to how that particular observation relates to the founding of the United States or the Republic of Ireland.

Sorry if I'm just too thick or too tired to catch the allusion.

Scout