Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Breaking News: The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church rejects the Anglican Covenant

Salt Lake City, Utah
I've come to look forward to the official report from the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church and this most-recent report is no exception.

Reading the official report from a journalist point of view is always somewhat of a challenge - what can we ascertain from this current report?

We finally do learn that the Executive Council officially rejects the Anglican Covenant (who would have thought that the Diocese of Sydney and the Executive Council would have something in common?).   But the other piece of news take a bit more work to extract:

The first morning of Council brought three distinctive yet interwoven narratives from the Presiding Bishop, the President of the House of Deputies and the Chief Operating Officer. Each made important statements about how the work of Executive Council relates to the larger narratives of the life of the Church. There were moments of conflict as values held passionately by the three speakers were openly expressed. There were admonitions to find Jesus among the poor, to honor the hard work and witness of the whole people of the Church in all orders, to express how we carry out God's mission in the shaping of a budget.

The experience of conflict in church meetings where budgetary discussions and vision are mixed together often make us wary of even trying to connect the dots, of weaving a whole story from the threads. Rich insights by committed leadership, accompanied by a common commitment to hear one another out, resulted in the beginnings of new stronger cloth.

Executive Council meets at the Hilton.
What we do see here is that the (curiously unnamed individuals) the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson, and the Chief Operating Officer Bishop Stacy Sauls "brought three distinctive yet interwoven narratives" to the meeting.  We learn that "each made important statements" on how they thought Executive Council "relates to the larger narratives of the life of the Church."  Now what does that mean? We learn in the next sentence. "There were moments of conflict," the report admits.  So these three are not seeing eye to eye on how the Executive Council should function?  It seems that this conflict revealed that the "values held passionately by the three speakers were openly expressed."  So they did not see eye to eye which they made known to the Executive Council.

We learn in the next paragraph that the conflict seems to be over the budget. "The experience of conflict in church meetings where budgetary discussions and vision are mixed together often makes us wary of even trying to connect the dots," the Executive Council reports.  So even as they are weaving they are waddling.

We do learn that the Executive Council passed the 815 budget (though we don't know how the worked out the Constitutional Convention  proposed by Bishop Sauls at the recent House of Bishops meeting.  We do learn that the Executive Board wants the House of Bishops to send out a press release on racism (though doesn't provide any background why this particular issue was picked except as a diversion from the serious issues TEC is actually facing as a church), and commended "peaceful protests in public spaces in the United States and throughout the world in resistance to the exploitation of people for profit or power."  Don't think they mean Tea Parties.

Yesterday we learned that the Executive Council substantially reduced its loan support to the shadow Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, propped up by 815 after Bishop John-David Schofield and the Diocese of San Joaquin voted to separate from the Episcopal Church and now has joined the new Anglican Church in North America.  Last June the Executive Council approved a loan up to a half a million dollars.  The fledgling diocese asked for an additional $450,000 to help pay "operation expenses," but yesterday that amount was reduced to $285,000 (how they think that will be repaid is anyone's guess) plus an extra $40,000 grant on top of that.  This is in addition to the $2.3 million in grants and loans from 815 shadow diocese has all ready received since 2008, ENS reported.  Why do they keep propping up this small entity?  The shadow Episcopal diocese is strategically required for the ongoing property litigation by 815, so an argument could be made that these loans and grants should be added to the litigation totals.  The prudent thing would be to fold the few remaining Episcopal parishes into a neighboring diocese like California or the struggling El Camino Real.

But the major news is that the Anglican Covenant gets two thumbs down by the Executive Council.   It seems impossible for the Covenant to go anywhere beyond Utah and one can imagine that if they could have, the Executive Council would have concluded their collective narrative with a ceremonial drowning of the covenant in the Great Salt Lake. 

It does bring to mind the words from the Anglican archbishops at the emergency meeting called by the Archbishop of Canterbury when they wrote that the actions taken by the Episcopal Church General Convention in Minneapolis "will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level, and may lead to further division on this and further issues as provinces have to decide in consequence whether they can remain in communion with provinces that choose not to break communion with the Episcopal Church."

So much for weaving, can it not be said that this tapestry is in tatters?

Turning to our neighbors at Unity of Fairfax, we find tonight's ironic - and quite frankly considering the recent events in the Diocese of South Carolina - this selection from the Cafe Jukebox:


Anonymous said...

The $285k is in addition to the $500k. The first 500 is for legal the additional 285 is for operating. originally it was 450k for operating but reduced.

BabyBlue said...

Thank you - that's even more interesting.


Dale Matson said...

I know people in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. They are kept in the dark about legal costs and loan obligations to TEC. They are being used by TEC and will be thrown under the bus once TEC leadership is done using them for their purposes. They are financially unsustainable in the long run. Let's see what the ABC has to say about the rejection of the Anglican Covenant, if anything at all.

Anonymous said...

While many people of good will worked on the Anglican Covenant, I could never envision it being successful as a governing document. It was a forgone conclusion that TEC would never agree to it (or would agree to it in a Griswoldian way). It is also obvious that the ABC would never enforce it.


Anonymous said...

Why, babyblue, do you care? I think the best post you could make is one that tells us all why you bother following the governance of the Episcopal Church. You left with your congregation. So let go.

And let God.

Ed McNeill said...

Anon, You ask "why do you care?". Its a good question, although a surprising one. I also left with my congregation and am very interested in TEC's rejection of the proposed Covenant. Here is my reason.

I am an Anglican and grieve that TEC has torn the fabric of the Anglican Communion. The proposed Anglican Covenant was the ABC's last best plan to repair the broken relationships within the Communion. TEC's rejection of the Covenant, while not surprising, is historically important for all Anglicans.

I am actually amazed by your question. Do you imagine that this is some how unimportant to other Anglicans?

Dale Matson said...

"Why should you care". Isn't this like saying, "I am not the foot." We are all part of the body of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Dale -

It feels very much like Babyblue and the leadership of CANA/ADV/DOMA/ACN/WTF has been in the business, for the last 15 years, and certainly the last 8, of saying the Episcopal Church is NOT a part of the body of Christ. The depth of anger, and the legalistic planning to leave - the goal being property not Christ.

That being said, why not focus on your church's efforts to bind the wounds, rather than harp on what you see as rending? There may be reasonable disagreement on that - but then again, I think the disagreement has become largely unreasonable.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 3:16,

Please cite the statements to support your claims.