Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Anglican District of Virginia Synod Opens this Saturday: Advancing the Anglican Church Together

via email:

FAIRFAX, Va. (September 29, 2010) – The Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) will hold its fourth annual synod on Saturday, October 2. The meeting will bring together clergy and lay delegates from all ADV churches and is centered on the theme of “Advancing Together: Laying hold of the hope God sets before us.”

“We are eager to join again with our Anglican brothers and sisters to address the next wave of goals God has set before us.  The Anglican District of Virginia is blessed to celebrate its annual meeting as orthodox Christianity continues its vibrant growth across the nation. The theme of this year’s meeting will focus on how ADV can grow together by serving communities both at home and abroad and reaching the unchurched through the power of Christ,” said ADV Chairman Jim Oakes.

Among the highlights on the agenda, attendees will hear from keynote speaker Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, former bishop of Rochester in the Church of England and a world renowned leader in the emerging dialogue between Christianity and Islam.

Participants will be able to attend breakout sessions on healing prayer, overseas missions, Islam, and church planting and growth. ADV’s Diocesan Taskforce will also discuss their exploration into becoming a diocese within the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

During the meeting, time has been allotted a report from The Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, missionary bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) and for welcoming ADV’s newest congregations.

The eight new congregations that have joined ADV since last year’s meeting include: St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Charlotte, N.C., Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Bowie, Md., Winchester Anglican Church, Winchester, Va., Epiphany Anglican, Williamsburg, Va., Eternity Anglican, Richmond, Va., Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd, Nags Head, N.C., La Communidad de Hispana, Fairfax, Va., and the Anglican Fellowship in Washington, Washington, D.C.

The meeting begins at 7:30 am on Saturday, October 2 with registration and will be held at Church of the Epiphany, 3301 Hidden Meadow Drive, Herndon, Va.

Event highlights:
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali’s Keynote Address - 9:30 am ET (Free and open to all.)


Anonymous said...

Very gracious of Bishop Johnston to allow ADV to use the church. There is hope.


BabyBlue said...

Scout, please do be careful. You are taken seriously here and a comment like does not come across very well. I know it's all very frustrating - but of course, Bishop Johnston has nothing to do with it. Perhaps one day he will - but not right now.

The good news is that the rector and parish of St. John's Episcopal Church in Centreville were welcomed at Truro Church this summer to conduct a wedding for a member of the St. John's parish. The wedding was conducted at Truro by the Episcopal rector of St. John's. If Bishop Johnston was involved in that decision on the Episcopal side to permit the St. John's rector to conduct a wedding at Truro, then there is indeed much to be thankful for. There are ways to work this through rather than litigation - and that was a wonderful chance to experience such mutual cooperation.


Wilf said...

Scout, I can't help but think that you'd be less embittered about this Dennis Canon stuff if you'd read some of the commentary about it from "the other side."

I must say that when I first heard about the Dennis Canon, in 2001, I rather thought of those who propounded it in similar terms to how you think of those who consciously flaunt it.

There are about half a gazillion reasons for not taking the Dennis Canon seriously, and regarding it as highly unjust and, given other values and ethical considerations, there are profound reasons, in some cases, for arguing that these other values should have priority.

Your words in other threads about "stuffing things in your pockets" seem to indicate you don't know that the parishes own the buildings and the bank accounts. It's simply a a matter that TEC makes claim to such things. If I claimed your house, you might decide not to abide by my claim, even if you'd signed some kind of document indicating obedience and adherence to myself. However, it would be ridiculous for me, at that point, to claim that you were "stuffing your pockets" with my belongings if you did not recognize my claim.

The thief rhetoric in other threads could be indicative of extreme moral shortsightedness on your part, ditto your words about persons being "morally crippled" who do not toe the line re. the Dennis Cannon and allow all their belongings to be appropriated. I however will simply take this to be a matter of your having been misguided by the many, many others in TEC who are propounding such things.

And I mostly mean this for your own good, Scout - your words seem to be showing that you're having a very, very hard time with the actions of these people. Read up on the Denis Canon. You may find yourself happier and more trustful of humanity in general.

Anonymous said...

Wilf - I don't have any strong views on the Dennis Canon. I think most of these property disputes would be decided the same way with or without it.


Andy said...

BB, I don't know if you took this photo of Epiphany or if its a stock photo of the building. regardless, its stunning. I pray for the day it becomes the Cathedral of the Epiphany and Robin is promoted to Canon.
See ya' Saturday!

Wilf said...

Scout, you still really should read up on the Dennis Canon. This would also make immediately clear to you that without it, a large number (I think maybe 95%) of such disputes would never occur, with the parishes retaining title to the property, as is usually the case, and the parishes maintaining their own bank accounts and trusts, instead of having to turn these over to the diocese.

It is far from the case that I believe that all parishes should be able to walk off with the building and bank accounts when they own these themselves and they leave TEC. However, I do not find the Dennis Canon just under the circumstances in which many parishes find themselves.

This makes me think that maybe your information has come from some Anglican blogs where departing parishes that don't give up their property and bank accounts are described as "thieves," and maybe some mistaken parishoners of your own church. In all cases I know of where parishes have attempted to maintain ownership of the properties, the parishes were the legal owner; the only issue was whether, with the Dennis Canon and the accession clause, the diocese (or TEC) was able to impose the unilateral trust which was claimed with the Dennis Canon.

You've probably been thinking, due to some misinformation, that these parishes were actually trying to take buildings and bank accounts which were owned by TEC or the diocese. This is far from the case. I can also much better understand your words for people who try to leave while taking things owned by TEC or the diocese - much, much better.

The Lakeland Two said...

Wilf - had a comment all typed and lost it to the 503 error. Must SAVE!

I don't presume to speak for Scout. I don't know all the particulars but Scout is a member of a TEC stayer congregation meeting elsewhere. So I understand how he feels, having seen the reverse side of that experienced by friends here in CFL.

I don't think pushing the point of the Denis Canon is going to help Scout.

I've pointed out several times that those wanting to be harbingers of change used politics to work towards their goals without care of those of use who liked it just fine the way it was. Why should I have to leave? Why should Babyblue, Why should Bishops Iker, Schofield, etc.? Why couldn't these harbingers just go their own way? But they didn't, and those wanting to stay with the old ways are fighting for their organizational spiritual homes/lives.

Scout came to TEC after what a lot of us conservatives grew up with. He doesn't see with the same viewpoint. Don't like it, leave - and leave everything behind because it belongs to those wanting to stay. The irony is those trying to maintain the original are under attack by the new - and Scout sides with the new. If I have it wrong, I apologize.

No matter how you see it is a mess. I see why on both sides. And feel that if we are all Christ followers, we're really blowing it. Which is why I've asked for innovative ideas.

Why can't we have a national referendum - individual parishoner vote of those in TEC and give some questions like continue lawsuits or settle? Or have an amnesty day. Those with 2/3 of current members as of 1/1/2010 vote stay in TEC/leave (including the departing congregations/dioceses). Buildings stay with the 2/3rd's with provision for a worship space for the remnant congregation for two years (alternate weekends of the optimal service times), a 50/50 split of any cash reserves unless the property is over a certain amount - and then 2/3 cash to the leavers without the building.

Just some thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Suddenly so much here.

LL2 (and Wilf) - I'm fairly sure I've never said anything one way or another about the Denis Canon. It simply has no relevance to any of my views about these issues. It may ultimately prove to have some influence in some jurisdictions on property disputes, but, as I said in response to Wilf higher up in the thread, I tend to think the results would be the same, at least in the parishes with which I am most familiar in Virginia, with or without that particular issue.

LL2 - I see that you've made some guesses about my profile and demographics that are fairly far off the mark. I have been Episcopalian all my adult life, a work in progress that is now in its seventh decade. I am an old-fashioned traditionalist in many, many ways (a complete embarrassment to my children on that front). I suspect my viewpoint is very little different than yours on many issues and that I am no more "revisionist" or "new" or "liberal" than you are.

The reason a referendum doesn't work is that this is not a school board election or Congress or something that can get settled with an applaus-o-meter. This is a Bishop-structured Church. There is nothing in the canons of the Church at the national or diocesan level that specifies that a diocese or a parish can detach itself. People can leave, dioceses and parishes can't. This is obvious, I think, and departures happen all the time and have happened for centuries. Something happens, on a personal, practical, or theological level to make a person feel that perhaps he should worship elsewhere. That person goes on. No fuss, no muss. What has been missing for me in this is a clear view of at what point multiple people deciding to leave creates a property right. We know that one person leaving creates no rights and I think we can stipulate that we'd all be appalled if he started taking items with him on the way out. Our abhorrence would not abate if he told us that he was entitled to take things (up to and including the physical church itself) because he had contributed funds over the years, or even if he told us that his view of God was more correct than ours, and therefore he can have the physical assets of the church. So we probably are in agreement that far. If another person joins him, or yet another, we don't get any less indignant about the things being removed. Where does the principle arise that a bunch of people leaving at some point changes the analysis? Conversely, at what conceptual point do people who stay lose their ability to continued worship under Episcopal auspices? I simply see no controlling ethical or moral principle to justify this sort of behavior. I've asked for one many times and I barely get answers (those that I have heard relate to money given or correct theology).

In all this turmoil, if those who had reached the point of no return with the Episcopal Church had walked out, I would have been most dismayed. But I would have thought well of them and understood that they felt there was a point of principle that led them to depart. I have absolutely no sympathy for the idea that they can extinguish the rights of those who did not share their views about the wisdom of leaving, all of whom have also contributed and all of whom feel that their relationships with God are as important and valid as those who leave.


The Lakeland Two said...


My sincere apologies, I must have remember someone else's history way back. Being a caregiver, sometimes the memory isn't as good as you'd like.

Thank you, though, for sharing more about you.

So, I guess I understand more about your feelings about the group leaving and keeping the buildings. But, also understand less about how you can't see how the church has deviated from where it was and those trying to preserve it. I accept that we disagree, just find it sad.

As far as a vote, that's what's been happening in GCs for years, with people who have used the process to push the liberal agenda. If things had been honestly reported back to each and every diocese and parish, there would have been rebellion much earlier on. Since I've been involved, I've seen diocesan convention misrepresented back in the home parish - couldn't believe my eyes or ears. Have seen other events spun.

Nothing in the canons about detaching? So there isn't anything about once in always in either? I think that if a diocese doesn't want to stay, it's their right to leave - since it was their right to join. Trying to keep people, parishes and dioceses in forcefully loses the message. The reason for the Denis Canon was because of those that left with the Women's orders and prayer book revision. To me it's like building the Berlin Wall. Each parish should have had the right to agree or disagree with the Denis Canon because it affects them - and yet they were not.

You mention you'd have been upset with the mass leaving if they'd just walked out the door. I've been upset with the ones sliding out the pew and out the door for years as well as the larger groups. Perhaps those who left with the building were, too.

My personal belief because of hearing and experiencing false promises over the years, is that the church has been stolen out from under the feet of the faithful. What hurts both of us L2 are more than the buildings are the people who have left. All of them.

Well, gotta go do offline things. Blessings to you, Scout, and all at the Cafe.

Wilf said...


Let me try to address your questions which you feel have been ignored until now.

"What has been missing for me in this is a clear view of at what point multiple people deciding to leave creates a property right."

From a legal perspective, the owner of the property, and of the bank accounts / trusts, is the parish, unless the deed title / accounts / trusts have specific language regarding other parties such as the diocese or TEC. Thus there is never a question of a deciding to leave creating a property right, no matter how many decide to leave; that right is there already. They do not "consider themselves entitled" - they are the actual owners of such things. The diocese might make a claim to such things via implicit, unilateral trust described in the Dennis Canon. The question is whether this claim of the diocese does, or should, usurp the actual ownership by the parish. In absence of such a claim, the property belongs to the owner - whoever that may be.

You should see this for what it is: a conflict of interests and a conflict of rights. It is the right which the Dennis Canon attempts to give to dioceses; and the right which owners of property have. If we fail to consider the rights of either of these parties, we are being unjust.

We should also address the wider "justice" issue, I'm simply speaking of legal right here.

I understand that things would be "tidier" for TEC and less acrimonious if people simply left one by one - but we have to keep in mind, a parish is a family of faith. Most people will have more of that "family" feeling and commitment to the parish and to the other members of that parish, who they view as their family of faith, than to the diocese or the National Church. This is especially the case of those who wish to leave the diocese. One must also face the question:

"Is it better to break up a family of faith, in order to create a tidier situation, with potentially less acrimony, for the diocese and the national church?"

One of the things I've been trying to imply is that things might be both "tidier" and less acrimonious for both dioceses and the National Church if there is more attention to the justice issues here. I think that some of the departing dioceses got this better than most cases where the dioceses have taken churches to court. In cases where 2/3 wished to leave the diocese and remain in TEC, they were allowed to maintain their buildings (and bank accounts, I believe) in the case that any outstanding debts to the diocese were paid off. Note here - I'm not saying anyone should "take all," nor that the departing dioceses are completely just - simply that compared to the stance of the national church, this makes more sense.

I can understand that a rather "absolutist" and "fundamentalist" notion of the rights of the diocese and the national church would make one feel that no family of faith should ever remain intact when they choose to leave - that they all should go separate ways. But this seems to me too much to favor the rights of the diocese and the national church - so much so that the individual parish is simply a kind of thing of mere instrumental value.

Anonymous said...

But Wilf: let's, just for ducks, say that I accept, for purposes of immediate discussion, that "the parish" owns all the stuff. Who's the parish? Is it this guy, or that guy, or the Rector, or a group of guys? And how do we determine where these rights lie? A vote? If so, how does the vote get conducted? It surely has to be neutral and fairly organized. Right? does the State supervise the campaign and vote process to ensure that it is "fair and balanced", to borrow a phrase I hear a lot these days? If you let me organize a vote on something I care a lot about, I can pretty much guarantee it goes my way if I control the process.

Your system might have some validity in a stand alone, non-denominational church that was formed recently and whose members are absolutely unanimous about reaffiliating (like some of the churches that have sprung up recently - I read an interesting article in the Washington Post today about the church that these people belong to who crash servicemen's funerals and trash them up by saying that soldiers get killed by insurgents to punish us for not being sufficiently militant against homosexuals. Only one member is not related to everyone else. But I digress). But none of the Episcopal parishes are like that and none have been (to the best of my knowledge) unanimous in their determination to leave. Some of the parishes are centuries old. Countless persons over hundreds of years have supported the church, including a fair number who have no opinion (either because their dead or because they simply have not strong opinion) about these more recent divisive issues. Moreover, to make your hypothetical a little more ethereal, virtually none of the deeds, mortgages, or other instruments of ownership in any of the Episcopal parishes where folks left in Virginia are constructed in a way that isolates ownership in something called "the parish" . In Virginia, diocesan fingerprints are all over these documents and indicators of title and control.

And what's this "family of faith" red herring? I surely don't have any problem with a whole bunch of people leaving a church and staying together somewhere else. They can organize themselves any way they see fit. Or not. They can build a new home for worship or join, en masse, an existing church. Nothing in my notion that the correct way to depart is to depart without trying to take stuff prevents people of like minds staying together as they choose. In fact, if I were in that situation, I would hang in with as many of my co-departees as possible.

So let's get back to my question: how many people leaving does it take to create a property right? One more than half? Where do the canons provide for that?


BabyBlue said...

We did have earlier test cases during the initial 57-9 phase where some pieces of property were litigated separately and that might be interesting to revisit. Also, this phase will be closely watched by the historic churches in Virginia - like Christ Church and Pohick - who have all ready demonstrated that they do not believe that the Diocese "owns" their properties. The Diocese will need to tread carefully - they admitted in court all ready that they did not transfer the properties to the bishop after the Denis Cannon was passed for fear of a firestorm and so admitted that they did not comply with the law of the Commonwealth of Virginia. As in the case of the Roman Catholic Church - all the parish properties are held by the bishop, not the parish itself according to properties laws in the Commonwealth. This is very similar (and our property and polity have been very similar) to the State of South Carolina. I think both sides should tread carefully now - do we really want open up a potential hornets nest or can we find another way?


Wilf said...

Some good questions, Scout.

Same could be asked though: what's the diocese? What's the national church?

Each has their own articles of association, polity, means of governance, etc. etc.. The fact that the parish is not a single individual does not deprive it of its rights any more than this would be the case for the diocese or the national church.

Your main argument seems to be that since the National Church's constitution has no articles or canons addressing the leaving of a parish or diocese, that this is impossible. As some have put it elsewhere, you can check in, but you can't check out. But the main Episcopalian argument for innovations in theology tends to be, "why not?" And we must add: absence of evidence is not always evidence of absence. If the framers of the church's constitution wished to make it impossible for parishes or dioceses to leave, they could have said so in the form of articles or canons.

Reading Mark McCall's article on heirarchy and the Episcopal Church would also be helpful here. He concludes that dioceses are heirarchical while TEC as a national church is not. This, of course, is a problem for parishes leaving.

In cases where two thirds of a parish has voted that they wish for the parish to leave TEC, I can not imagine that TEC would wish to continue to exercise control. The vestry or the parish votes to do something else (in most cases, both, and accepting only a wide margin of votes for dissociation); and if the vote passes, they do something else.

What TEC really should do is request of all dioceses that they request that their parishes hand over their deeds and bank accounts, and give designated persons from each parish some kind of withdrawl access to the bank accounts. Then the issue of rights would be clear.

It's true that language in deeds is significant. The most important line, however, is usually the name on the title of such deeds. I wish that the parishes in Virginia had succeeded in discussing further with the diocese. That didn't happen. +KJS has testified as to why that didn't happen. Now we have lawsuits. You've got to hand it to the lady, she's changed a lot in the Anglican Communion. But the lawsuits are really the least of my worries.

Why are you so insistent on a point of teaching and practice which isn't even in the Canons and Constitution, almost like a "über Literalist" in calling those who don't conform morally indigent, while when +KJS herself tells us that the fact of the resurrection can be separated from some meaning of the resurrection devoid of its actuality, and the former unimportant? Or remain nonplussed when she reduces "divinity" (i.e., what it means to be God) to meaning "a great [human] figure"? Does it make any sense at all to be a dogmatist / fundamentalist on a very minor point of ecclesiology when we can't decide if we believe "God" is any more than a word for a good guy and stuff we tend to associate with a good guy? It sounds like we believe that the denomination creates the divinity which we are told to worship and serve. I know that not all Episcopalian parishes are like this, but it's yet another reason that if parishes are able to defend some independence based on the constitutions and canons, at this moment in time, I think that is a very good thing.

DavidH said...

Scout, take heart -- the end is in sight for the secessionists' occupation of Epiphany.

wilf, you sound a lot like Obama -- "if only you read more and were smarter about __ISSUE X__, you'd realize I'm right." It's a condescending, ineffective, and wrong argument from both of you.

"even if you'd signed some kind of document indicating obedience and adherence to myself"

How about if you adopted the Dennis Canon in your bylaws and kept it there for years? (Until the lawyers helping you to plan for secession told you to take it out.) That's what Epiphany did.

And your later, one-sided discourse on the "legal perspective" leaves a lot out. Not to mention that you citation of McCall is pretty funny -- he says that dioceses are hierarchical, which doesn't help the CANA folks at all.

BB (at 6:04), you like music. So, Go West. It fits.

Wilf said...


You may be right. I still find it difficult to imagine what grounds dioceses would use to sue parishes were it not for the Dennis Canon, which Scout seems to think relatively unimportant. Perhaps you can fill me in on this. This was the reason I suggested that Scout read more, he's rather upset at people's behavior, so much so he finds them to be morally crippled. Though of course an inappropriate tone on my part certainly wouldn't help.

I've mentioned above that McCall finds dioceses to be heirarchical.

Anonymous said...

Wilf - I think it's more an issue of ethics, than morals. However, I acknowledge that one can blend into the other in some contexts.


Wilf said...

Scout & DavidH,

I'm sorry if sometimes what I write seems to contain an element of condesension. We are limited here to 4K characters here, and have a great deal of things to cover. I must admit that my own attitude isn't always helpful. I'm frequently quite depressed by opinions expressed in other blogs regarding the lawsuits from the TEC perspective viewing those who leave as "thieves" and in various ways morally degenerate, and wish that they had the ethical sense to read elsewhere and discover that there is a multiplicity of values at play here, and not a single determining one. Though I see how some may think that spreading such attitudes may help a "cause," I believe the attitude itself to be quite unhealthy for anyone holding it. And I'm nearly dumbfounded that other blogs combine this teaching with various other ethical and epistemological teachings which purport to promote open-mindedness, inclusiveness, and toleration. The cognitive dissonance here is high indeed, and it can not be good for those who are convinced of such things. I know I can't stop this train, but I get very frustrated when I think that Scout is on it. I do care about Scout, though I may not show it.

I myself am not sure churches that leave with their property can be completely exculpated. Nonetheless, failing to understand the various values upon which they are acting and finding them to be morally indigent because not conforming to one's particular solution is, I think, the problem that needs to be addressed first.

The case needs to be made why this one value excludes all others. I haven't seen it made in a manner compelling enough to describe those who attempt to leave with their property as thieves. Such persons seem not to realize that those they are accusing of being thieves are sometimes the owners of the property (though through the claim made by TEC, one might argue that the property "belongs" to TEC - though this is a much more "abstract" sense than ownership).

I don't view Scout himself / herself as ethically indigent or crippled. So I assume the problem must be a lack of knowledge. The opinion above that the cases would probably be settled the same way with or without the Denis Canon brought me to conclude that, fortunately, it is probably more a question of knowledge than it is of attitudes.

The Communion has, in the space of just a few years, become quite an ugly place.

DavidH said...

wilf, there were occasionally property suits prior to 1979. Don't really know how often generally, but there was one I know of in Virginia that a TEC diocese won. Wasn't really that different from a suit today -- same arguments on both sides.

FWIW, I do not use "thieves" rhetoric and don't believe in either side doing so. There are competing claims to property, and courts are just how we figure those things out.

Wilf said...

DavidH, I'm very much aware that you don't. And I'm glad that you have your voice in trying to hold accountable those who leave. I don't always understand you or agree with you, but I find what you do very important. I also agree with - if I remember correctly - your general contention that if churches favor neutral principles here above canon law, they are treading on dangerous territory. I can fully sympathize with that viewpoint and I would like to see it explored further.

The vying claims have shown themselves difficult to negotiate in courts. Much rested, before 1979, on the legal status of an implicit trust, which is claimed by some churches.

The Dennis Canon is, as I understand it, largely a response to Jones v. Wolf (in the Presbyterian Church), attempting to create an "express trust" in favor of dioceses/TEC, given the difficulty of the implicit trust which had been claimed (and whose historical existence is, I believe, highly questionable). One of the problems here is, however, is the nature of the trust: is it unilaterally imposed, is it something which can be legally? Does it fit what the law understands as a "trust"?

See The Curudgeon's article "Who Shall Own the Property?".

This is very good on the issue of "Neutral Principles" (which is a highly complicated matter).

Anonymous said...

Wilf, although it isn't high on my list of interests, I will say that I think it is difficult to attack in the courts the Dennis Canon as being procedurally deficient within the polity of the the Episcopal Church, as some have suggested. The problem with this approach is that we then have secular courts making judgments about the inner workings of churches, turning the civil courts into canon law courts. The other line of attack is that the trusts asserted to exist by virtue of the Denis Canon fail under civil law of the jurisdiction in which the parishes are located. I suppose this can happen, but then one is on to other theories on both sides as to where ownership lies.

You refer to "churches leaving with their property." I know of no case in the recent troubles where this has happened. I have seen many situations where people at a given church have left. Others have stayed. I don't know, at least in an Episcopal context, how a "church leaves." In any event. I'm not aware of it happening.

You're certainly correct that the Dennis Canon was a direct outgrowth of the reasoning of Jones v. Wolf. I have always thought that would help the national church, not handicap it if these matters ever got up into the upper appellate reaches of the federal court system.

I have not called people "thieves" in so many words. The term requires an element of intent that I don't think exists. But in my effort to think through the position, I start with the small hypothetical of a person changing churches or denominations, and ask what his property rights are, and then try to think through whether at some point in the rush to the door, the numbers of people leaving create a principle that supports recognition of legal ownership. I know that if I left and took things, my conscience would bother me. If I left with a bunch of like-minded people, and we all took things, my conscience would still bother me. And I would really feel that I had wronged people who stayed from whom I took things that they love.

That's just my opinion, and it isn't worth anything to anyone who sees no merit in it.


Always hobbits said...

Scout and DavidH still have not responded to the questions about selective fundamentalism, viz. why so literalist about the Denis Canon, and all the related property questions, when you seem remarkably indifferent to Katherine Schioir et. al.s indifference to the creeds and confessions of mere Christianity? Why is "whatever" good for the goose, but not for the proverbial gander?

Anonymous said...

AH, you must not be reading my comments. I don't consider the Denis Cannon to be of particular moment in these disputes. I've acknowledged that it may play stronger or weaker in different jurisdictions, but I don't think it is the primary determinant of the property disputes of which I am most aware.

As an Episcopalian, I have not noticed any alteration in the creeds used in our liturgy over many decades, so I do not know what that reference is. "Confessions of mere Christianity"? C.S. Lewis is as important a figure in our studies and readings as in any other church I suppose. As I have said elsewhere, I have noticed no difference in liturgy or doctrine before or after the split in our parish in either of the two churches that resulted (and I do attend both from time to time).

But to address point blank your question in the context of the subject matter of this thread, even if I felt that the national church leadership had gone round the bend on all core issues of doctrine (I have some issues with them, but not profound enough that I think I should walk away . . .yet), I don't believe it would affect property rights in individual parish properties. If I get to the point where I decide that I have to bail out, I won't assume that I get to keep stuff because my theology is purer than the next guy, or because I have supported the parish financially in the past. I will just go down the street, or wherever and start anew.


Always hobbits said...

For quite a while now I have had minimalist hopes for email, though like most in the modern world of the West, I spend hours on it. But I know important things are mostly missed, and that face to face conversation is still best-- hard as that can be sometimes.

Reading your protests, Scout, that nothing has changed in TEC-- or perhaps to the point, that you have not noticed any change --is fascinating and perplexing. You are an intelligent man who is able to set forth your opinions with eloquence and passion. How is it then that you have not noticed TEC's leadership, across the board, setting forth a sea-change with regard to the moral meaning of the creeds? Are you serious in the claim? Over time Peter Lee no longer believed them to be the heart of historic Christianity, which is what mere Christianity is. John Chane does not, neither does Katherine Schiori. The House of Bishops, as a whole, no longer does. VTS is no longer a place for someone to learn historic and live orthodoxy. The Episcopal schools of Virginia have crosses and chaplains, but are deeply secular in their pedagogical vision and practice. I wonder what you are looking at, to make your conclusion?

I do believe that an honest conversation would mean more, than so many of these back-and-forths via the email/blogging world. If you are ever interested, let Baby Blue know. She must have some way to put us together. (I don't know her, so she would have to do some sleuthing.)

Anonymous said...

My comment was from the pews of my parish, AH. We worship as we always have. I'm old enough to have some basis for evaluating trends in this regard. I am not a big fan of the 1979 Prayer Book, but that's as much a matter of style as substance. That was the last change I noticed in how we worship at a parish level.


Always hobbits said...

Well, Scout, I will push you a bit then, with grace. Reading you over the months you have been a staunch defender of all things TEC, in particular the suits filed by the Diocese of Virginia and TEC. Those are denominational decisions, not parish decisions. While I think it is difficult to make a biblical case for any certain polity-- hierarchical, presbyterian, congregational --the Anglican communion is hierarchical, for blessing and for curse, and we live within its creedal and confessional contours.

It seems odd that you would come back and rest within the more congregational identity of your own parish at this point, distancing yourself from the denominational identity and the decisions which have been made over the last generation, which seem to be profoundly more systemic. The latest version of the Prayer Book is only a window into the sea-changes.

I used the phrase "moral meaning" in my earlier note to you (and to all who read). It is a rich image, and has an equally rich definition. Moral meaning is about lived beliefs, about axiological assumptions, about the habits of heart that in fact shape who we are and how we live. There has been no public repudiation of the creeds in TEC, that I know of; what there has been is a distancing from their moral meaning-- and so my litany of evidences earlier only shows the chickens having come home to roost.

Ask Katherie Schiori, John Chane, Peter Lee etc, "Do you believe that the Bible teaches the truth about human life under the sun? Do you believe the creeds teach the truth about God, the human condition and history?" Knowing the answer is why I have come, with great sadness, to believe that TEC and its institutions, are "sympathetic to transcendence but no longer believe in truth." That is more historic Hinduism, than mere Christianity.

Does that mean that your experience in your parish is less-than Christian, less than Anglican? No. You may have a parish which has held onto something alive and real, and if you have, thanks be to God. But that is anecdotal evidence, and a very small sampling. You cannot be congregational here though, and want everyone else to live with the heterodoxy of the hierarchy of TEC, as if we are talking about the same thing.

To step into a different metaphorical universe, if the Berlin Wall was an historic irony because it kept its people "in utopia" by force, in the U.S. today we are plagued with the opposite problem, wondering what we are to do with the masses of people who will do anything to come into our land? Do we build fences and walls to keep people out? Just as the Communists built walls to keep people in?

There is an irony in the mindset of Katherine Schiori et al. How can we construct sufficient legal walls that people must stay? And then choosing to dissolve the missional outreach of the denomination at the last grand gathering of bishops, as more money was needed for its legal battles-- money of course given over the years by God's people in hope, investing in the future of the witness of the church. And even though Frank Griswold represented a generation of presiding bishops who led TEC in a different direction, on this point he saw it differently, as you know. They represented a different understanding of the church, of who we are and how we will live together. No Berlin Walls for him, as it seemed against the spirit of the Anglican communion, and the Episocopal Church in the U.S. at its best. Yes, another sea-change.

Again, if you are ever interested in a real conversation, let me know.

Anonymous said...

I have never detected any aversion to people leaving, should their conscience so dictate, AH. I have never seen the Diocese or the National Church take a legal position against people leaving. I think it is well understood that there are people who leave for all kinds of reasons. The Berlin Wall analogy strikes me as completely counter-factual to what is going on today.

Nor is it a fair statement to say that I am a "staunch defender of all things TEC." I have expressed reservations and puzzlement at some things that go on in this Church. My point of contention with the conventional wisdom among those of us who are more traditional in our outlook is focussed almost entirely on what I view as the moral bankruptcy of the idea that one can take a position of principle in opposition to other views within the Church, and, rather than stay and assert those views, leave and confiscate property from those who stay. I believe people have blinded themselves to the enormity of that wrong. In so doing, they have done themselves no favors either, given that the resources they have poured down efforts to lay claim to property could have been spent more wisely and without ethical ambiguity on the construction of new churches. The ensuing waste is a curse on all of us for our human weakness and disputatiousness.

I don't know much about Schiori or Chane, but what leads you to believe that Bishop Lee turned his back on the Creeds? I know him a bit, and I've never detected a slipping away from core beliefs.

You seem to ask me to evaluate my life within the Church by how I gauge the fidelity of others in the same church, nationally and globally, as well as at the parish level. I am disinclined to do that, because I lack sufficient knowledge of their interior thoughts to make judgments, because I probably am not qualified to judge the degree to which strangers have fallen away from Truth, because I fear that no two people will ever see this topic the same way and that there is great danger of atomization of worship if we're all keeping score on everyone else (a church of one would probably end up being just about perfect), and because I am a sinner who has enough to do keeping track of myself. I suppose we could posit a level of mass deviance that would drive me away from a global church (I know people who left the Roman Catholic Church because of the actions of some of the clergy), but that point will come at different levels of awareness for different people.


Wilf said...

Scout, I do see one interesting similarity between ourselves. I note how you utterly refuse to allow for the interpretation of "parish" as something which could leave the national church or the diocese, and you find any who take such a view (and then act on it with regards to property) to be involved in anything from "an enormity [...] of wrong" to being "ethically crippled."

I am rather the same way with regard to the Resurrection. I do not find that when one person speaks of Christ rose from the dead, and another speaks of some sort of edifying feeling or moral duty deriving from some fictional occurrence, that the two are addressing the same referent. They are, simply, two different things; the latter may in some way be an "interpretation" of the scriptural passages referring to the resurrection, but this is not what I refer to with the word "resurrection."

I don't go so far as to refer to those who teach differently as ethically crippled etc., though my words for them aren't laudatory.

From decades of ministry and discussing matters of faith with others (in a manner which might seem to you rather wildly open-minded), I've come to understand how certain types of teaching within the church are highly damaging to a development of faith in the Risen Christ, and faith in God in general. I have witnessed in some a profound spiritual numbness which I believe has been caused at least in part by such teaching. This is a numbness which can lead to spiritual death.

I primarily find that all of us together have come to deny Christ through the selection of our leaders, and that we are all culpable for those who are being led astray in the church. I make a point of showing that +KJS may not be culpable in the way that she might seem, or that some might imply. That rather the blame more profoundly lies on us all.

Though what we say about God may vary slightly, I find that your statement here does not acknowledge the robust commonality of belief which Trinitarian Christians share about God. From your statements above about "having a more correct idea about God," I wonder if you see "doctrine" as sort of a static list of checkpoints, or if you see what we teach about Christ as a part of spiritual formation - with, of course, the counterpart that if we teach people to deny Christ, or that He did not rise from the dead, that that delicate faith entrusted to us in its formation will be stunned or skewed.

I think that one of the problems in TEC is this attitude which you share with thousands of other TEC members: you seem afraid of "judgmentalism" in general, in order to discern good teaching from poor teaching (or even reprehensible teaching), and I concur with you: I am the same way to a very high degree - in many if not most churches I would probably be classified as a "liberal" or maybe even "way too liberal to teach."

Regarding ecclesiology, I know faithful Anglicans who even have problems with the Anglican notion of bishops (which is in the Quadrilateral). Though the Quadrilateral doesn't specify how we need to view such bishops. The Quadrilateral does, however, tell us the importance of the creeds and about how we need to interpret Scripture. By tradition we don't tend to be very congregationalist or presbyterian. Yet we have many examples of profound congregationalist action in violation of canons which is quite celebrated within TEC.

Wilf said...

[ cont'd ]

Since the church is supposed to be centered in Christ, and is supposed to be Christ's very body, it makes sense that when our leaders deny Christ, it is no longer that entity which is "the church." That entity may have legal or political claims, but it does make sense that some find that the claims are no longer "sacred."

I'd encourage you: to begin wondering if you don't have a rather "fundamentalist" notion of ecclesiology, and that your understanding of Christ, and faith in Christ in the development of the spiritual life of the Christian, be enriched.

I'd ask you to think about the botched election in 2006 of +KJS and ask yourself whether faith in this ecclesial entity is really deserving of such fundamentalist passion excluding all other ideas of ecclesiology as held by faithful Christians, and if it would not be better to dwell on what is supposed to be at the very center of the church: Christ.

I can only ask you to do this, and I don't think it will happen until something occurs between you and God, in God's own time. But when it does happen, I think it will be sort of like a "paradigm change" for you - it will feel like you are seeing things which you've never seen before. Though the teachings of Trinitarian Christianity remain the same, you will regard them in a different light, and you will see Christ Himself in a different way, and have a different kind of relationship with Him. I so hope and pray that you (and Christ) are some day able to enjoy this.

I admire the passion you have for your church. I'm happy too that you embrace a rather "high" form of ecclesiology, and I don't wish for you to abandon this, though I do hope you come to appreciate other views of ecclesiology as well. Some become - especially with a "high ecclesiology" - in some way, too "stuck" on their churches, and lose sight of Christ. There is much within TEC's culture which encourages this. Understanding and to some degree sympathizing with a more congregationalist ecclesiology might help you in some way.

I also think you will be a happier person if you are able to have a more open mind about ecclesiology and the relation between parish, diocese, and national church. The theoretical exercise which you sketch out above, beginning with an individual who later claims property in alliance with other individuals - this is not how things actually happen; it's a sign of a rather contorted, "fundamentalist" type thinking, creating theoretical constructs which do not correspond to reality, in order to bolster presuppositions. In the end these things end up getting rather circular. You do want to find a way out.

If our leaders are denying Christ, and we are insisting on maintaining a high ecclesiology, we're sort of in a position like those who favor a powerful government, but where that powerful government begins to deny human rights. One might be a bit of a "theoretical Marxist" but wish for the grip of the current government to be loosened somewhat. I think this is the plight of many high-church people who also embrace a Trinitarian Christology. We may believe it's better for a church to have an episcopal structure, to maintain certain liturgical practices, etc. etc. ... - but if within that church, the lambs are being taught to deny Christ, it is better for them to be sent to a church with an ecclesiology which we find to be far from ideal, where there may be, sometime in the future, a hope of such a more ideal church with episcopal structure, that encourages good scholarship & good music, etc. etc..

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm in the pleasant position of being part of a parish in which none of the lambs have been asked or "taught to deny Christ", Wilf. It simply never happened. I strongly doubt that it happened anywhere. If I were a member of such a parish, I'd leave.


Wilf said...

Scout, I'm a bit at a loss here. I don't want to "push" you but I do want to say "wake up and smell the coffee." You say you value the creeds; I believe you do; you might value them in the way, though, that e.g. Schori and Borg value them. I don't really know where your faith is, especially since Episcopalians take such grandiose liberties in using terms like "resurrection" to describe their own faith which, upon closer examination, amounts to something like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy (google Marcus Borg Tooth Fairy for more clarification).

You seem to have an incredibly robust faith in your church, even though you say that you are sometimes perplexed. On the other hand, you find +KJS's teaching on the resurrection not to diminish the church's teaching in the least, even though you say that you yourself would say these things differently (and, a fortiori, provided no real "escape" for the multiple problems in what she said and implied the non-reality of both Christ and God).

So really I don't know what you mean when you say that 'none of the lambs have been asked or "taught to deny Christ"' - are you being a strict literalist (while I clearly am not being such or inviting such an interpretation)? Maybe we should use different terminology? E.g., perhaps it's ok to say that Jesus was a man, and not God, and he did wonderful things, and that this would amount to an acknowledgement of Christ rather than a denial? I don't really know if you are a Trinitarian Christian or a non-Trinitarian person who sees some poetical value in the creeds - or perhaps values the practice since it was done for so long, but for little other reason than this.

I don't want to expose you to things your church leaders are doing, and inadvertently cause you to begin trusting in these things rather than trusting in Christ as He revealed Himself. This may sound like I'm speaking down to you, and in that also I engage in a risk. I don't know what to do, really. I've exposed you to some already and it seems to have made you more committed to a non-realist notion of Christ than you were before.

I would suggest for yourself that: you try to figure out, before delving into these things, who you believe Christ to be, and what you would like to believe in (even if you're not sure whether or not you believe this).

It would help if you do have theological convictions in this matter - e.g., if you think the Church does need to be teaching Spong to its adherents and leaving out N.T. Wright - or Crossan - or Borg - that you come to the plate and say so. If you're simply not sure, that would be good to know as well.

It could be that you're really as naïve about the national church as you claim to be. I simply don't know.

If you believe that Christians should be taught that the bodily resurrection of Christ probably did not occur, or is not important - or that this is suitable teaching in TEC - this would also be helpful.

Actually, I'm probably not the right person to speak with you about these matters. I'd rather you find someone to speak about them without the whole +KJS / Spong / Borg thing even on the horizon.

Wilf said...

[ cont'd ]

I wish things were otherwise but it simply isn't the case. You may be completely confident that "you can take it" but being wounded by one's own church is a serious spiritual condition which can be followed by any number of things which drag one down further. It gets the more dangerous the more "graphic" we get and the more you are forced to wrestle with these things, actual statements, actual trends, actual occurrences. My preference actually would be that you find some good solidly Trinitarian Christian who is good at articulating his / her faith, and discuss with them things like the relevance of the resurrection / the divinity of Christ, and the roles such have in the formation of faith. Only after that - a LONG TIME after that - does it make sense to begin discussing things that move in a sad direction - e.g., the consequences of teaching differently by the very teachers of the church.

The issue of the bodily resurrection of Christ has been a problem in TEC since Pike in the 1960's. Here's an interesting bit of homework for you: find the most recent Easter Sunday sermon of a TEC Presiding bishop which declares confidence in a (bodily) Risen Christ. I don't know the answer myself. I can tell you though that it won't be found in +KJS's tenure, I believe I've seen all of those.

Anyways, whatever the outcome - even if after this you begin to doubt your own parish, realize that there are still many Episcopal parishes which confidently teach about who Christ is, with His own words, and that there are many churches around you that do as well.

Anonymous said...
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BabyBlue said...

Scout, Hagrid is getting close to coming over to your table and having words. Please - no telling someone else at the what they are. I am quite alarmed at the tone of your recent posts. Now instead of deleting your entire post and Hagrid showing you the door, I have edited out the personal comments you made toward another regular in the cafe. Again, I implore all of us to please - please - imagine that you are sitting across the table from the very person you are speaking to and Jesus is also sitting at your table. Just take a moment and imagine that and then post.


Here is Scout's edited comment:

I am winding down for the day (major sailboat race coming up and I have to observe sleep discipline and get my game face on starting tomorrow).

Episcopalians are Trinitarians. This is core doctrine, and we haven't renounced it. As in any church, some members haven't had the opportunity to dig deep in theology. They come to worship with their friends without worrying themselves over the kinds of things that seminarians might be able to discuss at great length. They love God, they believe that Jesus was His son, accept that they live in a condition of sin, but that there is redemption available to them through Jesus and His teaching, life, death, and resurrection. If you, or anyone else, starts telling me or others that I have to take my theology precisely the way you do, and reject precisely the human voices you reject, we collapse into theological and worship anarchy, where the largest parish is the parish of one individual who knows that he knows God better than anyone else.

Core doctrine and recitation of the creeds have not changed in my decades with the Anglican church in America. I attribute a lot of the recent fol-di-rol to a kind of political instinct to stir up the crowd and to demonize the other guy. I go to church on Sunday, I pray, I recite the Creeds, I take communion, I get guidance through the scriptures from my priest, I sense the presence of God, and I find momentary peace.


Wilf said...

I'm sorry I got you upset, Scout.

It's probably true that I'm not the right person to discuss these things with you.

No one is telling you you have to take your theology exactly the way they do, or reject precisely the same notions / "voices" which they reject.

"Official" core doctrine has not changed in TEC - what is practiced and taught by the top, however, has, and that core doctrine is largely ignored.

You and I are still talking - I can tell you, I would not make the effort if I didn't know how important you are to God.

"I go to church on Sunday, I pray, I recite the Creeds, I take communion, I get guidance through the scriptures from my priest, I sense the presence of God, and I find momentary peace."

This is good to know, but the last two phrases make me think: God could probably enjoy you much more than He does now (though I don't think He could love you any more than he does); and you could probably enjoy God much more than you do now.

Part of this is accepting God for who He is. Part of this acceptance is obeying God.

The above applies for me as well, nb - I'm sure God could enjoy me more, and I Him.

You can get away from a lot of these worries about theological worship and anarchy simply by finding a place of faith outside of us bickering Anglicans (or in addition to it). The fog of war - it often makes us assume danger in places where there is none, it leads us to attack sometimes what we should protect. I live in this condition, too. I know how harmful and ugly it is. War is always ugly.

I wish you well for your sailboat race!

Anonymous said...

Actually, Wilf, you didn't get me upset. BB must have misunderstood what I said. I just got back from some time away and was very surprised to find that I had been edited. I don't remember exactly what was in the part that BB dropped, but I can assure you that it was as respectful and courteous as all my posts. The problem with this medium is that the flat, two-dimensional nature of the discussion does leave room for ambiguities. I do apologize for not having worded something as carefully as I usually do to reflect my persistent good cheer and love of a good conversation. I think I was reacting to what I saw as an effort to invalidate my own religious views, but I also recall crediting you with good intentions. Oh well, time to move on.


Anonymous said...

When will the stolen property be returned?

The Lakeland Two said...

Well, Anon at 3:03 am, that's a good question. Since the original host church was hijacked by strategic politics and is being driven into the ground in every way imaginable by those who used those tactics, indeed, when? Those who have "left" really haven't. But, please, let TEC keep mortgaging what's left into a useless posture of suing and selling properties at half of what they can get by selling to anyone but the rightful owners.

At the rate TEC's irrational decisions are being made, they will have destroyed the original host - and for what? Millienum Development Goals that got chopped at the first inconvenient moment? For demonstrating for dismissed union workers while turning around and doing the very same thing? For demonstrating against people trying to protect their borders while suing others doing the same within the Anglican Community? For being "inclusive" a small minority while driving out at least a third of its members?

Yes, please, let the stolen property be returned.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Lakeland Two said...

And yet your post is full of hate.

You would deny those worshiping there also for generations the same right you are demanding. And yet you even state you "hear", so you aren't even there. You might want to read BabyBlue's post - the second comment in this thread - that debunks your comment.

And if you follow Jesus, you would not want to spend your last dollar on litigation.

May God soothe your soul, and may He intervene with His solution - not mine or yours.

BabyBlue said...

Alas, Anon, Hagrid - who had been somewhat content at his table - has tossed you out the door. The post, sadly, illustrated exactly what you seemed to be attempting to condemn. Let's put the logs down.