Monday, March 31, 2008

TEC Presiding Bishop severs Bishop Duncan and Bishop Scriven from the official communication list of the House of Bishops

ANOTHER UPDATE: We have gotten out the Ogden's Old Firewhiskey and are toasting Salute to the Diocese of Pittsburgh and it's ability to run the ball down the field for a touchdown. In the meantime, here are the new links for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. To read the original post go here. To read the letter to David Booth Beers, go here. To find out what Ogden's Old Firewhiskey is, go here. In the meantime, the Firewhiskey is on the House. Hail the City of the Steelers.

UPDATE: At about 1:00 p.m. today Bishop Duncan was restored to the official communications list of the House of Bishops. From Bishop Duncan's office:

Update: Bishop Robert Duncan, Bishop Henry Scriven and Melanie Contz began again receiving emails from the House of Bishops at approximately 1 pm on Monday, March 31. Bishop Duncan's March 14 response to the Presiding Bishop has also been added to the College for Bishops website.

Today the Bishop of Pittsburgh's counsel charged that Bishop Duncan has been whacked off the official e-mail list of the House of Bishops by the Presiding Bishop. She's been sending out materials about him to all the House of Bishops, but not to him.

Not only that, but she's deleted Bishop Scriven from the communications list as well. What in the world is going on? It appears she does not have the authority to remove bishops who are members of the House from the official communication list. What is wrong here?

There's also been no response from the Presiding Bishop or her lawyer to Bishop Duncan's March 14th statement.

A protest is also lodged that the canons of the Episcopal Church were not followed in the deposition of the Bishop of San Joaquin and Bishop Cox. So now we have South Carolina, Central Florida, and Pittsburgh charging that the canons of the Episcopal Church were not followed by the Presiding Bishop and her lawyer, David Booth Beers, when they attempted to remove both men from ministry just before Easter.

From here:

In a letter sent March 28, John H. Lewis, Jr., attorney for Bishop Robert Duncan, protests the behavior of The Episcopal Church’s national office. He notes that not only has there been no response to Bishop Duncan’s March 14 statement that he considers himself “fully subject to the doctrine, discipline and worship of this church,” but that The Episcopal Church’s national office has neglected to distribute Bishop Duncan’s letter and other information to House of Bishops. Lewis goes on to note what appears to be “the deliberate failure of The Presiding Bishop to follow the Canons” in the purported depositions of Bishops William J. Cox and John-David Schofield.

Read the entire letter (and attachments) here.

Wait for the Lord

Sunday, March 30, 2008

BabyBluePodcast: A Turtle Named Mack

Here's the latest BabyBluePodcast, featuring a dramatic recitation of a children's classic.

You can click on the player above or go to iTunes and download it to your iPod or computer by clicking on the link here at the Cafe located in the right links column. The iTunes Podcast is called BabyBlueOnline. You can also click here.

NOTE: To download the latest version of QuickTime, click here.

The Five Stages to Decision Revisited

With current events being as they are, thought we might post these musings again from earlier this month.

Over the years we've heard folks bring up the Five Stages of Grieving regarding what has been happening in The Episcopal Church. I just read Greg Griffith's comment about that over at T19 and it got me to thinking. What if we pass through five stages to make the decision that we must face the truth.

I might identify the five stages this way: Rejection, Fear, Dealing, Mourning, and Freedom. How can they be translated into the five stages we go through toward the place of decision. In our case, it is making the decision to face the crisis now tearing the Anglican Communion apart. To tell the truth.

Over the many years I've been involved in the governing structures of the Episcopal Church, both as an observer and as a participant, I've seen these stages at work with colleagues, friends, opponents, and leaders.

Some of these stages, human beings that we are, are blended together. But at the end of the day, we can probably find examples in our life - as well as pointing out examples in others - that we are on a road marked by these signs.

#1 Rejection

This is the moment when we discover what is really happening inside the Episcopal Church. For different people over the years there have been different moments when one is confronted with that moment when we can't believe what is happening.

We are shocked.

A General Convention is often a good place to start. If someone goes to General Convention, the best bet is that they going to be in this stage when they get home. For me it was General Convention in Indianapolis in 1994 when I saw a Bishop and his male partner kissing on their way into the House of Bishops. But it could be a sermon preached, a teaching, an article, a liturgical revision, an unanswered phone call - but something, something wakes us up that is so startling, so shocking that we feel that the very foundations of the Church have been rejected. My guess is that our theological opponents, for different reasons, have had their moments of this first stage as well and have stories to tell, revealing the depth of the division. The publication of the Windsor Report - for the orthodox or progressive - was one of those first stage moments.

So, what happens next?

#2 Fear

Some people get stuck in this stage and never leave it. No matter what happens on the outside, we are horrified and can't believe what is happening to our church. Some end right here, throw their hands up in the air and flee. Some never come back, they are the walking wounded, warming pews elsewhere or sitting in front of the TV with the remote. But everyone goes through this stage - the bewilderment that can turn to outrage of what is happening to us and the feeling that little is being done. For the other side of anger is fear. If we don't just throw up our hands and storm off, then we come to the next stage.

#3 Dealing

I might call this stage one of engagement or bargaining. It's time to stop and make a deal - bring everyone together no matter what stage they're in and make a deal. Or it may be our attempt to "deal with it" and "move on." For example, we might try to fix it and so engagement begins. We try to bargain our way out. Some start standing for election, some start attending councils and conventions and work legislatively, some come up with plans on how to transform the church from within, some make deals and depart (which doesn't actually solve the problem - in fact, it can send everyone back to #1). All of these are bargaining, all of these are "Let's Make A Deal."

Again, if the church or diocese is not so embroiled in what is happening on the national level, many can remain in this stage for a long, long time. But if one is trying to address what caused the initial "how can this be happening" moment, at some point the bargaining comes to a dead-end. Reality sets in.

I've seen this happen over and over and over again. At some point one realizes that the problem is not just theological or philosophical, it is structural. The institutional structures are no longer able to deliver on the mission of the Church. It's not working. The Church is in decline, loosing membership, and is embroiled in division over foundational issues that continues to worsen. The structure itself contributes to the crisis.

In the recent past, this has meant changing the mission to fit the structures. But then we have to agree to change the mission - and that leads us all back to Stage #1. If one is not able to change the mission to fit the structures, then the evidence continues to mount that division is underway. No deal can be made. It's a dead end. This leads us either back to Stage #1 (and that can happen over and over for a long time) or to this next stage:

#4 Mourning

This is the Dark Night of the Soul, the "Good Friday" moment when the realization sinks in that it's all not working. It's lonely - friends seem to be in a different stage or no stage at all. It is the stage of immense sorrow and depression. Some people want to avoid this stage entirely and jump right to the last stage, but that appears to make matters worse. It's really just going back to #3. Some will do whatever they can to avoid this stage, returning back to Stage #1 and starting all over again, anything but to grieve the loss.

This is a the moment when we give up. It seems to be the lowest point of all and friends can seem few. It's about 2:30 p.m. on Good Friday and the disciples are in hiding.

Often people do try to move through this stage as rapidly as possible and so we start to see happy talk come from those who have escaped from the institutional structures on one hand and those who have gone back to Stage #3 on the other.

Stage #4 is the No Man's Land of the Stages, the stage we all want to avoid. But it is possibly is the most important stage of all because in this stage we do give up, we relinquish our rights, we fall on our knees, we give up.

At that point, Someone Else can step in. We dare Him to show up. We beg Him to show up. We fear He will show up. At some point, if we are serious about truth, it is at Stage Four that we will all meet each other again, at the Communion Rail or the Court Rail or down at the Bar. If we make it through Stage #4 without running away, or skipping away as the Happy Victorious, or lost in the Slough of Despond, we find ourselves faced with the door to the fifth stage. It's a locked door, by the way, as C.S. Lewis found out, but it is locked on the inside.

#5 Freedom

If we take our key and open the door what we find is that this isn't the victorious stage we thought it would be (and so we might be tempted to go back to #4 or worse - back to #1 - been there, done that, got the t-shirt).

This is not despair either (though it may feel like that sometimes). This is the stage when we have all walked through the Dark Night of Soul and met fellow pilgrims on the road (and who we find on the road can be the biggest surprise of them all). The ability to go back through the stages over and over and over again has grown wearisome. This is the stage of relinquishment, where we're ready to face the truth and walk our talk. No more happy-clappy press releases, no more posturing, no more threats, no more passive-aggressive tactics, no more denial, no more rage, no more lies and spinning and wishful thinking.

The most important ingredient that is now present, however, is the one ingredient that is missing through all the other stages and it is the one ingredient that can define best what stage we are in. If this ingredient is not present in all who are present, not just the invited, but the reluctantly invited, then we are not at the fifth stage. That ingredient is trust.

In a real journey toward truth-telling and Truth-seeking, which are quite rare indeed, we may find ourselves surprisingly at the fifth stage. We are as surprised as anyone else. Pride got lost along the way. Transparency is what we expect of ourselves first. We can see the unexpected. The fire has refined us and not destroyed us, though we do carry the scars. We are set free, really free, to do the right thing. Trust breathes life into our hearts to take risks, to be innovative, to examine the soundness of the structures, to have faith based on truth and not wishful thinking. We are free to do the right thing, as God sees fit to do through us. We can throw furniture, but not each other. We are like the Velveteen Rabbit. We have become real. "For it is for freedom Christ has set us free," Paul wrote to the Galatians. "Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." We are free to speak truth in love and wait on the Lord.

And the reason we trust is not because we all have found ourselves trustworthy, we trust because we trust the Lord and He makes us trustworthy. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding," Proverbs tells us. Well, this is the stage where that trust meets the road.

There is a famous picture that has become one of the most historical moments in a process toward peace and it was what propelled a certain rock singer to prominence on the global stage. The story behind that photo, on how those people came to that moment is a century-filled story of people walking through these stages, getting so far only to turn around and start over again. The three men in the photo risked it all. Right now it appears they have entered into some kind of fifth stage - but only time will tell. For now, they are indeed on the road.

Are we?

That is the question - we seem to celebrate being in Stage 2 or Stage 3 and then are bewildered to find ourselves in Stage 4 and ready to toss in the towel, only to have another incident come up and we wake up and fine ourselves back in Stage 1. It seems quite possible that this could go on for years and years and it will until trust is restored.

And how is trust restored but through a commitment to Truth. Then we will know the truth - and then what? The truth will set us free (John 8:32). In the meantime, we keep watch and we pray.

Father, I don't ask you to take my followers out of the world, but keep them safe from the evil one. They don't belong to this world, and neither do I. Your Word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours. I am sending them into the world, just as you sent me. I have given myself completely for their sake, so that they may belong completely to the truth.
-John 17:15-19

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday Night at the Cafe: Bob says it all

Diocese of South Carolina calls for new vote; says canon law was not followed in deposing the Bishop of San Joaquin

Oh, the irony. From here.

Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina and the diocesan standing committee have made public a letter sent March 27 to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in which she was asked not to proceed with a “special convention” meeting she announced and personally will convene on March 29 at St. John the Baptist Church in Lodi, Calif.

The meeting agenda includes adoption of the 2003 version of the San Joaquin Constitution and Canons certification of delegates and ratification of Bishop Jefferts Schori’s nomination of retired Northern California Bishop Jerry Lamb to be provisional bishop for the newly reconstituted diocese. The diocese seeks a second “canonically correct vote” by the House of Bishops on the depositions of bishops John-David Schofield and William Cox.

“Additionally, for the good of our Church, we ask you not to proceed with the planned election of a replacement for Bishop Schofield until the matter of his deposition can be legally and canonically resolved,” the letter added.

“The Diocese of South Carolina demonstrated our commitment to the proper observance of The Episcopal Church Canons with two election conventions and 18 months of Standing Committee and Bishop confirmations. Because we feel so strongly that the canons were not followed in the depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox, we must respectfully refuse to recognize the depositions, and we will not recognize any new bishop who may be elected to replace Bishop Schofield, unless and until the canons are followed.”

Neva Rae Fox, public affairs officer for Episcopal Life Online Media, and other officials from the Episcopal Church Center, were traveling to Lodi when the letter was made public. Ms. Fox said shortly after her arrival on March 28 that she had “not received any notification of any change in plans to proceed with the special convention.”

The Rev. James Snell, president of the San Joaquin Standing Committee, has previously raised the possibility that Bishop Jefferts Schori might be liable for a presentment complaint under the canons which prohibit bishops from entering another bishop’s territory without permission. Under the canons to be considered for adoption by the special convention, the standing committee is the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese. The special convention is scheduled to begin in a few hours.

“Bishop Lawrence and the South Carolina Standing Committee have really gone out on a limb in respectfully calling for a second vote on the depositions and for postponement of the special convention,” the Rev. John Burwell, president of the standing committee told a reporter from The Living Church. “I am hoping that other diocesan bishops and standing committees will join me in respectfully calling for the consistent application of our canons.” Fr. Burwell, who also serves as rector of Holy Cross Church, Sullivans Island, also confirmed that the diocese had informed Bishop Jefferts Schori of their intent to make public the letter ahead of time and waited for confirmation that she had received it before doing so.

Wielding power with the majority of a quorum

Some supporters of Katharine Jefferts Schori, now confronted with the call for investigations by the Bishop of Central Florida and the Bishop of South Carolina regarding the recent activities by the Episcopal Presiding Bishop and her lawyer, are now waving off those actions a mere "technical error" when Bishop Schori lead a majority of a quorum of the House of Bishops to depose the Bishop of Diocese of San Joquin and 88 year old retired Bishop William Cox.


A “technical error” did not impose the equivalent of an ecclesiastical death sentence by manipulating the process to remove opponents with the majority of a quorum. That’s not a technical error - that is either duplicitousness or incompetence.

Earlier today she reiterated this point that she authorized the removal of her opponents through a majority of a quorum. 815's press office reported that she said in a press conference that "We believe that we did the right thing," and added that the consent came from "a clear majority of those present." Yes, that's what a quorum is. So she just stated the obvious - and it's obviously what's wrong here.

Again, the equivalent in our American democratic form of government would be the use of a majority of a quorum to impeach the Presiding of the United States for wearing the wrong color tie - or anything else that gets people upset. It's not hard to get a quorum. With a majority of a quorum and the mood some of the president’s opponents are in right now, they could impeach the president with a majority of a quorum. If we could impeach the president with a majority of a quorum we could have a daily impeachment and could sit around the cafe asking one another, "so what was he impeached for today?"

That’s why it’s common sense that the Episcopal canons mean exactly what they say - it takes all the qualified bishops (the bishops of the whole number) to remove a bishop from ministry. This is the gravest thing that can happen to a bishop, of course it takes more than the majority of a quorum. It should be hard to do - if the House of Bishops still dares to call itself American.

Waving it off and sniffing that it’s some sort of technical glitch is basically affirming that Kangaroo Courts are just fine if you happen to agree with the Chief Kangaroo. And that is exactly what we are hearing from the so called “progressives” on this matter. No longer can they say they are the champions for justice. Manipulating a process by using the majority of a quorum is exactly the sort of action that should cause true democrats and those that care about the cause of liberty to speak out if we dare call ourselves Americans.

Those with clear heads should be quite concerned today if the Presiding Bishop carries out her plan against the duly-elected Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin and put in her puppet bishop. 815 has based its entire rationale of their lawsuits on the Dennis Canon and if they themselves cannot follow the canons of the Episcopal Church then their case is sunk. Canon lawyers are on the sidelines today with their laptops ready to write their briefs about the gross miscarriage of justice going on in Lodi.

Goodbye Dennis Canon.

What seems to be driving David Booth Beers is his attempt to shore up his lawsuits by building a wall between the Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion and illustrate the point that the Episcopal Church is a separate and autonomous denomination and the other provinces of the Anglican Communion are separate denominations - like Lutherans or Presbyterians or Baptists. This means that there is no direct link between Diocesan Bishops and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Now all the Episcopal Bishops go directly through the Presiding Bishop to Canterbury - that’s what she is doing today in Lodi.

Should this not set off alarm bells in Lambeth Palace and with the catholic-minded Rowan Williams that the American Church is pulling up the drawbridges between the dioceses in the United States and the Archbishop of Canterbury? The actions today and before Easter continue to weaken Canterbury as just a bearded figurehead and nothing more.

This is in conflict to what Rowan Williams wrote to John Howe that he is in direct communion with the diocesan bishops and not through the province. Bishop Schori and her lawyer, David Booth Beers, appear to be trying to usurp that authority between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the diocesan bishops by reconfiguring the Presiding Bishop as an Archbishop and thereby superior in rank to the Diocesan Bishops. She then becomes a rival to the Archbishop of Canterbury by cutting off his direct relationship to the Diocesan Bishops - which does not go through the Presiding Bishop since she not only is not an Archbishop - she has no diocese.

Katharine Jefferts Schori’s job is to preside over the House of Bishops - she does not have a diocese as Archbishops do. Her manipulation or incompetence in carrying out her responsibilities of “presiding” was in plain view when she orchestrated the removal of two opponents just before Easter.

The deal is - why do the Diocesan Bishops allow her to usurp their authority? And why do the laity continue to follow the bishops that allow her to intervene in their diocesan affairs? That’s what continues to puzzle me.

Of course, those who do resist also face deposition, so perhaps that has something to do with it.

Perhaps the laity is voting their displeasure by withholding financial support to the dioceses and voting with their feet. However, the Presiding Bishop has made it quite clear she doesn’t care. People can leave, she has said - what matters is power, even if that power only comes from her inner circle.

But in America, the power is in the people - that is the principle our form of government is built on, We the People, and many of the same people who formed the United States government, formed the dioceses in the Episcopal Church. That's certainly true in Virginia. Those principles are what are at risk now and if we can’t find agreement amongst ourselves as Episcopalians or as Anglicans or even as Christians - perhaps we can find agreement that our democratic principles are at risk and we know it because we are Americans.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Night at the Cafe: Oh, Lord, stuck in Lodi again

Dedicated to KJS and DBB.

Diocese of South Carolina: Presiding Bishop failed to follow the canons of the Episcopal Church in depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox

From here:

March 27, 2008

The Most Reverend Katherine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop
The Episcopal Church Center
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Dear Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori:

We, as the Standing Committee and Bishop of South Carolina, write this letter to strongly protest what we recognize as a failure to follow the Canons of our Episcopal Church in the recent depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox. We respectfully request that you and the House of Bishops revisit those decisions, refrain from the planned selection of a new bishop for the Diocese of San Joaquin, and make every effort to follow our Church Canons in all future House of Bishops decisions.

We believe that deposition is the most severe sanction that can be applied against a bishop.. Consequently, it is most important that both the letter and the spirit of the Canons be followed. In this instance, it is clear that the canonical safeguards in place were not followed.

Under Canon IV.9.2, the House of Bishops must give its consent to depose a bishop under the "abandonment of communion" canon. ". . . by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote." The Constitution of the Episcopal Church, Article I.2, states in pertinent part that "Each Bishop of this Church having jurisdiction, every Bishop Coadjutor, every Suffragan Bishop, every Assistant Bishop, and every Bishop who by reason of advanced age or bodily infirmity . . . has resigned a jurisdiction, shall have a seat and vote in the House of Bishops."

Due to amendment, Canon IV.9.2, at various times, required consent under these circumstances consisting of " . . . a majority of the House of Bishops," ". .. . a majority of the whole number of bishops entitled . . . to seats in the House of Bishops . . . " and " . . . by a majority of the whole number of bishops entitled to vote." The language of the Canon has consistently required that a majority of all bishops entitled to vote, and not just a majority of those present at a meeting, must give their consent to the deposition of a bishop. Although the language itself is clear, the definition contained in Title IV is even more specific. Canon IV.15 specifically provides that "All the Members shall mean the total number of members of the Body provided for by Constitution or Canon without regard to absences, excused members, abstentions or vacancies."

As we understand the decision by Chancellor Beers, he interprets the language " … the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote" to mean the consent of a majority of those bishops who are present and voting. Yet if the drafters of Canon 9 had wanted to allow for the deposition of a bishop on a vote by a majority of the Bishops at a meeting, as distinguished from a vote by a majority of the whole, they clearly knew how to say that.

The Constitution, Canons and Rules of Order are replete with other instances in which the drafters knew how to articulate something other than " … the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote.". The Constitution Article I 3, dealing with the election of a Presiding Bishop, requires that such a vote be "by a vote . . . of a majority of all Bishops, excluding retired Bishops not present, except that whenever two-thirds of the House of Bishops are present, a majority vote shall suffice . . . " Unlike Canon IV.9, other Canons refer to a vote " . . . by a three-fourths of the members present" or some other "super-majority. In the Rules of Order of the House of Bishops, Rule V speaks of a vote ". . . by a two-thirds vote of those present and voting." That same language appears in Rules XV, XVIII (a) and XXIX. In short, where the drafters meant "those present and voting," they knew how to say so, and did so on a number of occasions.

It is only logical that a greater majority of Bishops should be required for involuntary separation by way of deposition than for voluntary separation by resignation. Canon III.12.8 (d), dealing with resignation by a Bishops, provides that the House of Bishops may accept or refuse a resignation of a Bishop " … by a majority of those present." Under Chancellor Beers' interpretation, it is possible for a smaller number of Bishops to consent to the deposition of a Bishop than the number required to consent to resignation of a Bishop.

Not only is this distinction of critical importance under the present circumstances, but also the question may arise again. Accordingly, and with all due respect to you and Chancellor Beers, we must respectfully request that you and the House of Bishops re-visit your decision and allow for a canonically correct vote on the depositions of Bishops Cox and Schofield and on any future possible depositions. Additionally, for the good of our Church, we ask you not to proceed with the planned election of a replacement for Bishop Schofield until the matter of his deposition can be legally and canonically resolved.

The Diocese of South Carolina demonstrated our commitment to the proper observance of The Episcopal Church Canons with two election conventions and eighteen months of Standing Committee and Bishop confirmations. Because we feel so strongly that the Canons were not followed in the depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox, we must respectfully refuse to recognize the depositions, and we will not recognize any new bishop who may be elected to replace Bishop Schofield, unless and until the canons are followed.

Yours in Christ,

The Very Reverend John B. Burwell
President, Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina

The Right Reverend Mark J. Lawrence
Bishop, Diocese of South Carolina


cc: David Booth Beers, Esquire

BB NOTE: You may also want to read this essay by Dan Martins entitled, "Perfect Storm Brewing," here.

In the Waiting Room

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thursday Night at the Cafe: Take it away, George

TEC Presiding Bishop failed to follow rules for speedy trial of 88 year old retired bishop

BB NOTE: We also note that the Presiding Bishop has now set her sights on conducting a trial of the 80 year old retired bishop of Quincy, the Rt. Rev. Edward H. MacBurney. You can read more about that here and here.

In the meantime, George Conger reports on the latest regarding the Presiding Bishop's actions against 88 year old retired bishop, William Cox. The more we learn about the miscarriage of justice by the Presiding Bishop and her Chancellor with their disregard of the canons and procedures of the church, the more alarming it becomes. No wonder the majority of the House of Bishops failed to show up at Camp Allen. Who would want to be a party to this? Tell me, who?

Here's George Conger's

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori failed to follow the procedural rules governing the trial of Bishop William Cox for “abandonment of the Communion” of the Episcopal Church an investigation by The Church of England Newspaper has found.

In a March 12 press conference, Bishop Schori stated she had not followed rules governing the requirement that the 88-year old retired bishop be granted a speedy trial, that he be informed of the charges against him in a timely fashion, and that the consent of the church’s senior bishops be solicited by the Presiding Bishop to suspend him from office pending trial. A subsequent investigation by CEN in conjunction with The Living Church magazine revealed an insufficient number of votes to convict were cast also.

The Bishop of Central Florida has called for a review of the proceedings, and the president of the church’s appellate court of review for the trial of bishops is understood to have agreed to look into the proceedings.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

We have nothing to fear but fear itself - and an 88 year bishop with coke bottle glasses

LATER: Let's just see who Bishop Schori and the Episcopal House of Bishops ecclesiastically whacked just before Easter:

No wonder Bishop Howe, who has tried beyond measure to work within the system that was once the Episcopal Church, is outraged.

Here's Dean Robert Munday, of Nashotah House on Bishop Cox:

Stocky, bald, wearing round glasses with his eyes appearing large through lenses as thick as Coke bottle bottoms, it is easy to imagine one is talking with the Apostle Paul when speaking with Bishop Cox. His voice is both warm and rich, and conveys genuine love and appreciation for everyone with whom he speaks. If an article were ever written explaining what it means to be a godly bishop, it would be incomplete if it were not illustrated by the example of Bishop Cox. Even though technically in retirement, Bishop Cox has continued an active ministry. Now age 87, he has been the Episcopal Church's oldest living bishop. It is so hard to envision him as anything but a bishop that one is surprised to hear of his early military service and that he became a civilian pilot after he was in his sixties.

Today (March 12th), the Episcopal Church's House of Bishop, acting on the recommendation of Presiding Bishop ☠ Katharine Jefferts Schori, voted to depose Bishop William Cox. What had Bishop Cox done that led to his deposition?

In June 2005, Bishop Cox ordained two priests and a deacon at Christ Church in Overland Park, Kansas, after he was asked to do so by the Primate of Uganda, the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi. The following month, Bishop Cox returned to Christ Church and led a service of confirmation.
In April 2005, Christ Church agreed to pay the Diocese of Kansas $1 million over the next 10 years as part of a separation agreement which allowed the congregation to retain its property, and for the clergy to be relieved of their canonical obligations to The Episcopal Church. Christ Church and its clergy subsequently affiliated with the Province of Uganda.

It is important to note that Bishop Cox did not perform acts in any congregation of the Diocese of Kansas without the Bishop of Kansas' permission. He ministered to a congregation that had left the Diocese of Kansas and had been received into the Province of Uganda. Bishop Cox, as an Anglican Bishop, ministered at the request of an overseas Anglican bishop (in this case the Archbishop and Primate of Uganda) to a congregation that was under his jurisdiction.

In 2006, two bishops—the Rt. Rev. Dean Wolfe, Bishop of Kansas and the Rt. Rev. Robert Moody, Bishop of Oklahoma—presented then Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold with charges that Bishop Cox had violated the Canons of the Episcopal Church. Bishop Griswold forwarded the charges to the Title IV [disciplinary] Review Committee, which determined that there were sufficient grounds to proceed to trial.

Concerned that his presentment trial would be a financial and public relations disaster for The Episcopal Church, retired Bishop William J. Cox informed Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on March 29, 2007 that he had left The Episcopal Church and had been received into the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, by Archbishop Gregory Venables.

Read the rest of Dean Munday's post here.

The Presiding Bishop did not accept his resignation - instead, she charged him with abandoning the communion. The irony is not lost on many.

Last time we checked, the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone is in the Anglican Communion. Or is the American Episcopal Church now a communion all unto itself? What is that we hear?

With that in mind we are reminded of Jesus' words to the crowds in the Gospel of Mark:
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."
-Mark 8:34-38

God bless you, Bishop Cox. What sort of person really would declare an 88 year old retired bishop has rejected the faith of Cramer, Latimer, and Ridley? What kind of "communion" is that?

And then why try to whack him with the majority of a quorum, for God's sake? What do they fear?

The question remains: Why didn't she carry out the salacious deed at last September's House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans as the canons dictate, instead waiting almost a year after the charges were certified (the House canonically required to place the matter on the agenda lat the first meeting after the certification - which of course was New Orleans in September)? Was it perhaps to avoid a public relations disaster with all the national and international press and the Archbishop of Canterbury present to watch her carry out an ecclesiastical shove down the stairs of an elderly bishop - a man who has been a faithful bishop of the Church since she was an eighteen year old co-ed thinking about squids? Is this what has become of the Episcopal Church?

Just why does the presiding bishop and the majority of a quorum of the Episcopal House of Bishops fear this man so much?

UPDATE: Excellent post here on the numerous canonical violations committed by the Presiding Bishop in her attempt to depose Bishop Cox. Read the whole thing, as well as Dan Martins comment here.


StandFirm (now redesigned and looking terrific!) writes:
"This time, it's with 815's identification of exactly who it is they're deposing. In the letter below, the person they're deposing is "The Right Rev. William J. Cox - Bishop of the Diocese of Maryland, Resigned."

In fact, Bishop Cox was the suffragan bishop, not the diocesan bishop, of Maryland, and when he resigned, it was as Assistant Bishop of Oklahoma, not Maryland."

Oops. Read it all here.

By the way, Bishop Cox is 88 years old.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tuesday Night at the Cafe: A Poem

Blacksburg's not so bleak in May,
though many say the winter lingers into June.
This year the dogwood and the lilacs bloom,
covering neglected meadows like reconciling tears;
songs of praise and sunlight fill the fields,
horses dance in a rain of blossoms as we break bread
and Mozart's Requiem echos through the trees.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Anglican Communion Network Bishops to meet April 24

BB NOTE: Very good news. As we all ready know, the Presiding Bishop is gunning for Bob Duncan and last we heard the ranking senior bishops have ignored Bishop Howe's outrage at how the House of Bishops "washed their hands" over the misuse of Episcopal Church canons (where the Presiding Bishop authorized removing a Diocesan Bishop with the majority of a quorum). This is good news to hear that the ACN bishops will meet together April 24. Please pray for that gathering. In fact, we might want to fast and pray for them.

From here:

Bishops of those Episcopal Church dioceses that have formally affiliated with the Anglican Communion Network will meet in Chicago on April 24. The purpose of the meeting is to allow Network bishops to speak frankly with each other about the future.

As the crisis in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion has deepened, Network bishops and dioceses have been moving in several directions. Some Network dioceses have reaffiliated or are considering reaffiliating with other provinces of the Anglican Communion. Individual Network bishops have left The Episcopal Church to join other communions. Other bishops are attempting to be a voice for orthodoxy within The Episcopal Church.

“I have called this meeting because we need to talk frankly and openly about the future and how we as Network bishops can help the Network best fulfill its mission to build a biblical, missionary and united Anglican witness in the years ahead,” said Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator of the Network. “It is clear that the Network has a continuing mission to unite orthodox Anglicans, especially as increasing numbers of Network parishes and now dioceses are exiting The Episcopal Church. We will be talking about how we can work together to accomplish this goal even as we bless the several paths we have chosen as bishops and dioceses,” he added.

Dioceses that have made formal decisions to affiliate with the Network are Fort Worth, Quincy, Pittsburgh, Albany, South Carolina, San Joaquin, Central Florida, Dallas and Springfield. (The Diocese of the Rio Grande took a number of steps toward affiliation. However, their status was never completely clear.) With these dioceses, the Network also has 231 individual parish affiliates in five geographical convocations and one non-geographical convocation. Of this group, 105 parishes are under the care of The Anglican Provinces of Kenya, Uganda, or the Southern Cone. The entire diocese of San Joaquin is also under the oversight of The Province of the Southern Cone.

Bishop John Guernsey interviewed in San Diego

Five Anglican Primates Issue Warning

Five Primates - Abp Peter Akinola, Abp Greg Venables, Abp Kolini, Abp Mouneer Anis and Abp John Chew - met together for some heart to heart conversations from 13th to 15th March in London.

They released this statement.

BB NOTE: Take note that the primates say that they call the slapping together of something that was called the "Joint Standing Committee" that visited the Oct. HOB meeting went "
without prior consultation with the Primates on its composition, procedure and accountability process." Precisely - it was designed to go around the Primates and act as though it had authority which we learn in this statement, it did not. We also learn that the Joint Standing Committee continued to "further weakened the remaining fragile threads of trust in the Communion and severely affected hope for any genuine resolution" with the release of its "un-critical and overly generous assessment of the response of the House of Bishops (TEC)."

Also note that both Archbishop John Chew and Archbishop Mouneer Anis are among those issuing this statement Very interesting indeed.

It seems clear that the Anglican Communion Office (with financial resources from 815) continues to use process and procedures to corral the communion into progressive compliance, by sort of shaking a finger and winking at The Episcopal Church and enticing the Communion with the carrot stick of Lambeth and tea with the Queen.

But they also call on the "orthodox constituencies of the wider Communion to strengthen our hearts and wills to work together for the fundamental renewal and transformation of the global Anglican Communion." We should take that call very seriously.

They also clarify that they have united on what they call the "
principled reasons for participation in GAFCON (June 2008) and Lambeth Conference (Jul 2008)," illustrating that while they enjoy different perspectives (a very healthy sign for this group), they also enjoy a "common vision, unity and trust within the Global South." Now that is honest.

Here is the official statement:

1. We are most grateful to our Lord for enabling us as members of the GS Primates Steering Committee to meet in the midst of busy commitments and schedules.

2. Following the inconclusive response to the repeated calls for repentance and the specific requirements of The Episcopal Church in the Windsor Report and the various Communiques (Dromatine Feb 2005, Dar es Salem Feb 2007), the undifferentiated invitations to the Lambeth Conference (July 2008) of the un-repenting Bishops who have clearly flouted the bonds of trust and “torn the fabric at the deepest level” of the Communion is causing a significant number of Bishops to be troubled, in deep consternation and dilemma as to their own Lambeth participation.

The controversial visit involving the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC (Oct 2007), without prior consultation with the Primates on its composition, procedure and accountability process, and its un-critical and overly generous assessment of the response of the House of Bishops (TEC) has further weakened the remaining fragile threads of trust in the Communion and severely affected hope for any genuine resolution.

These have caused various deepening negative assessments and cast further doubts on the state, will and ability, of the Communion to continue as a recognizable living and witnessing expression of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Consequently, initiatives and challenges have emerged which could lead to further fragmentation and disintegration in the Communion, which is already in the nadir of collegial trust and confidence.

It is against this backdrop that we, the Global South Primates’ Steering Committee, met to pray, share frankly and converse in collegial accountability. Enabled by the Holy Spirit, we were able to focus in unity on the original spirit, vision and vocation of the Global South in the Anglican Communion which had developed and deepened since the fateful event of November 2003.

3. We were greatly encouraged to receive reports of the substantial progress of the three major initiatives undertaken by the Global South at the historic “Red Sea” Encounter (Oct 2005) and further endorsed at the Global South Primates Gathering at Kigali, Rwanda (Sept 2006). They are the Global South draft for the proposed Anglican Covenant, the Anglican Catechism in Outline and the Economic Empowerment Track. We are very appreciative of all the members and voluntary support personnel involved in the various Task Forces.

4. We see a increasing conviction and confirmation of the prophetic and priestly vocation of the Global South in the Anglican Communion. As Primates coming from different contexts, we were led into deep conversations and helpful clarifications on the challenges before us (Ps 133; Eph 4:1-6; Phil 2:1-5). We reaffirmed our total and collegial commitment to the solemn vocation of the Global South. We resolved, and urge all in the Global South and other orthodox constituencies of the wider Communion to strengthen our hearts and wills to work together for the fundamental renewal and transformation of the global Anglican Communion.

The Global South remains committed and encourage all Provinces to actively participate in the study and requested feedback on the St Andrew’s Draft of the Anglican Covenant, its substance and spirit to be in line with our common classical Anglican heritage of biblical, historical and reformed formularies of faith and ecclesiology. In particular, we strongly urge the presentation of a definitive text to the Provinces by ACC 14th (May 2009) to begin the urgent and timely process of official adoption and ratification for the Communion.

5. Through our conversations together and clarifications made, we are led to understand and appreciate the principled reasons for participation in GAFCON (June 2008) and Lambeth Conference (Jul 2008). Even if there are different perspectives on these, they do not and should not be allowed to disrupt the common vision, unity and trust within the Global South. We are looking forward to offer the fruit of the labour on the Anglican Catechism in Outline to the Anglican Communion in June 2008.

6. For Lambeth Conference, we take note of the agenda centering on the significance of the Anglican Way and the Episcopal Office for the Life and Mission of the church within the framework of the Windsor-Anglican Covenant process. We also take note of the reiteration by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his Advent Letter (Dec 2007) that “acceptance of the invitation must be taken as implying willingness to work with those aspects of the conference’s agenda that relate to the implementing the recommendations of Windsor, including the development of a Covenant.”

Nevertheless we deeply regret that the Archbishop of Canterbury did not consider it appropriate to invite those bishops consecrated by outside Provinces to address pastoral exigencies in USA. The temporal pastoral responses to needs on the ground should not be treated on the same level as the crisis-creating theological and ethical innovation of those involved in the consecration of Gene Robinson. Furthermore, these responses would not have continued if the requirements of the unanimously agreed Communique of the Primates’ Meeting at Tanzania of TEC had been adequately complied with.

7. The initiative and need for GAFCON critically serves to remind us that the “torn fabric at the deepest level” of the Anglican Communion is still a living reality. We encourage the GAFCON participants to bear in mind the under-girding and wider framework of the united vocation and mission of the Global South for the life and witness of the wider Anglican Communion. We are encouraged that the primatial leadership of the GAFCON recognizes and supports the significance of the Windsor-Covenant process.

Unless the primary reason for the current crisis and division in the Communion is properly addressed, and the broken and impaired communion restored, the common life of the Communion cannot be expected to continue normally. It will be difficult to effectively fulfill our apostolic vocation, life and witness in and to a world so broken and divided, confused and lost, without the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

8. Finally, we are persuaded, that after GAFCON (June 2008) and Lambeth Conference (July 2008), the primary and urgent task is to move the global Anglican Communion substantially and effectively forward, to be living and witnessing as a worthy and exemplary expression of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. The pastoral and missional needs for focused leadership and development, the deepening of collegial foundation and framework for the transformation and renewal of covenantal Anglicanism will be the focus of the 4th Global South Encounter, which by then should have a broadened representation.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling
and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,
to the only God, our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord,
be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority,
before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude vv.24-25)

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I was blinded by the devil,
Born already ruined, stone-cold dead
As I stepped out of the womb.
By His grace I have been touched,
By His word I have been healed,
By His hand I've been delivered,
By His spirit I've been sealed.

I've been saved by the Blood of the Lamb,
Saved by the Blood of the Lamb,
Saved, Saved,
And I'm so glad. Yes, I'm so glad,
I'm so glad, so glad,
I want to thank You, Lord,
I just want to thank You, Lord,
Thank You, Lord.

By His truth I can be upright,
By His strength I do endure,
By His power I've been lifted,
In His love I am secure.
He bought me with a price,
Freed me from the pit,
Full of emptiness and wrath
And the fire that burns in it.

I've been saved by the Blood of the Lamb,
Saved by the Blood of the Lamb,
Saved, Saved,
And I'm so glad.
Yes, I'm so glad,
I'm so glad, so glad,
I want to thank You, Lord,
I just want to thank You, Lord,
Thank You, Lord.

Nobody to rescue me,
Nobody would dare,
I was going down for the last time,
But by His mercy I've been spared.
Not by works,
But by faith in Him who called,
For so long I've been hindered,
For so long I've been stalled.

I've been saved by the Blood of the Lamb,
Saved by the Blood of the Lamb,
Saved, Saved,
And I'm so glad.
Yes, I'm so glad, I'm so glad,
So glad, I want to thank You, Lord,
I just want to thank You, Lord,
Thank You, Lord.

-B. Dylan, T. Drummond
Thanks RWB!

He is Risen!

Friday, March 21, 2008

"It is finished."

"What is Truth?"

"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.

Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

"What is truth?" Pilate asked.

-John 18:37-38a

John W. Howe writes the three most senior bishops of the Episcopal Church; calls depo vote "despicable" and that TEC canons were disobyed

The following letter was sent to the three most senior bishops of The Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Texas' Bishop Wimberly, the Diocese of Southeast Florida's Bishop Frade, as well as the Diocese of Virginia's Bishop Lee by Bishop John W. Howe:

My Dear Brothers,

I need to say how totally disappointed and disgusted I am that not one of you has even acknowledged my post, let alone responded to it.

I have no illusions that the outcome of the despicable vote to depose John-David and William will be reversed, but AT LEAST we might want to obey the canons.

I have moved my concern to the Bishop-lawyers of our House, and I have a small degree of hope that they might be willing to take on an issue that you are obviously not willing to confront.

I recall that another person of influence washed his hands of a difficult matter on this same weekend some years ago.

Warmest best wishes for a glorious Easter,

The Right Rev. John W. Howe
Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida

Thursday, March 20, 2008

On the night before he died ...

It's not just about then, it's about now

BB NOTE: Here's is Bishop Martyn Minns' Easter Message for 2008:

"But sometimes it doesn’t seem that way!"

We have all had those times in our lives when it seemed as if our world was coming to an end. I am not referring to the eschaton when all that we know of this world will come to an end but rather those moments of personal crisis when there seems to be no way forward. It can happen when we confront the specter of terminal illness for ourselves or for someone we love; it can be prompted by the end of a friendship or breakup of a family or the loss of a job; it can be provoked through the devastation caused by an encounter with one kind of natural disaster or another.

What then? How do we cope, how do we find the strength to continue?

This is when the events of that first Holy Week become a personal experience and not merely a religious memory.

For those first disciples it seemed as if their world had come to an end in the days leading up to that first Easter Sunday. The darkness of despair and the betrayal by the civil and religious authorities had extinguished their dreams. They had pinned their hopes on that wandering Rabbi who had emerged out of the wilderness. He had encouraged them to look forward to a new and brighter world where God’s reign would be made visible for all to see.

Now it seemed to be all over. To add insult to injury when they buried the broken body of their beloved friend they did so in a borrowed tomb and blocked entrance with a rock. They could not even honor him in his death.

But that wasn’t the end of the story.

The stone was rolled away and their nightmare came to an end. Jesus was gloriously raised from the dead. He didn’t simply survive it he overcame it. Yet it wasn't simply his life that was forever changed.

All those who put their trust in Him have been given the same promise that death will no longer have the last word for us. Instead we will overcome it. Like him we will be given a new body and live forever in the closer presence of the One who loves us even more than life itself. But even that isn’t the end of the story. We have also been given the promise that the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead is now at work transforming the lives of his followers.

And I have seen it. I have seen men and women who were dead to the things of God come alive – I have seen blind people be given their sight and I have seen sick people made well. I have known people who were locked into patterns of abuse and addiction set free. I have seen men and women with no hope have their dreams restored and their hopes fulfilled. I have witnessed broken marriages made whole and children who were lost brought back home. It is all part of the resurrection story. It is not just about then but it is about NOW.

The good news is that the God that we serve is not only a God who offers radical inclusion but also a God who promises profound transformation.

Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing is impossible with God.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

The Rt. Rev’d Martyn Minns
Missionary Bishop of CANA

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Now, I'm sailin' on back, ready for the long haul
Tossed by the winds and the seas
I'll drag ‘em all down to hell and I'll stand ‘em at the wall
I'll sell ‘em to their enemies
I'm tryin' to feed my soul with thought
Gonna sleep off the rest of the day
Sometimes no one wants what we got
Sometimes you can't give it away

The Church of England Newspaper and The Living Church Magazine Conduct Joint Investigation: Reveals HOB Trial Failed to Conform to Canon Law

George Conger reports:

The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops has deposed the Bishop of San Joaquin and the retired suffragan Bishop of Maryland for “abandonment of the Communion” of the Episcopal Church following a closed trial in Texas on March 12. However, a joint investigation by The Church of England Newspaper and The Living Church magazine has revealed procedural and legal inconsistencies that may render the vote a nullity.

The ecclesiastical trial of Bishop John-David Schofield was a necessary part of the Episcopal Church’s legal strategy to secure the property of the Diocese of San Joaquin, US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said on March 12. However, the flawed trial has created a legal anomaly leaving Bishop Schofield in place as Episcopal bishop of San Joaquin, when neither he, nor Bishop Schori, want him to hold that post.

“The current public dispute over the canonical legality of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops’ recent vote to depose Bishops Schofield and Cox amounts at best to a severe embarrassment to the Presiding Bishop, her advisors, and the House itself; at worst, it exposes a travesty of Christian justice and prudence,” the Anglican Communion Institute noted.

“The result of this dispute and the failures of good order leading up to it will inevitably be the further erosion of [the Episcopal Church’s] standing in the public’s eye and in the Communion’s councils,” it said.

Bishop Schofield was consecrated Bishop of San Joaquin in 1989. Last December, he presided over a diocesan convention at which clergy and lay delegates voted overwhelmingly to leave the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone. For this action Bishop Schofield was found by a review committee to have abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church, and was suspended from office pending a trial.

Title IV, Canon 9 section 2 of the Episcopal Church’s Constitution and Canons requires that the House of Bishops “by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote” must give its consent to depose a bishop under the abandonment of communion canon.

Eligible voters are defined as both active and retired bishops. Of the 294 bishops eligible to vote, less than a third were present for the trial. To lawfully depose Bishop Schofield, 148 votes would have to have been cast in favor of deposition.

As of breakfast on the last day of the House of Bishop’s March 7-12 meeting, 115 active and retired bishops were present. However, by the start of the trial only 68 active bishops answered the roll call, as did an undisclosed number of retired bishops.

The two hour trial in absentia began with a reading of the charges, followed by prayers from the chaplain. The bishops then broke apart into small groups and then gathered in a plenary session for debate.

A voice vote was held, first for Bishop Schofield and then for Bishop Cox, and both were declared to have been deposed. Questioned about the canonical inconsistencies at a post-meeting press conference, North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry defended the proceedings but admitted that there had been no discussion of its legality. “We have acted in recommendation to our canonical advisers,” he said. ”We acted in accordance with the canons.”

During the press conference, Bishop Schori said she had refused to accept Bishop Schofield’s resignation from the House of Bishops because the canons required a sitting diocesan bishop of the Church to receive permission to resign from the House of Bishops. His letter of resignation was flawed, she said. “He resigned his membership in the House of Bishops, not his status as a bishop with jurisdiction.”

The Episcopal Church had to bring him to trial and to refuse his resignation, as it needed to “clarify the status of the Corporate Sole. It is inappropriate for him to retain control of it.”

Trusteeship of the property of the Diocese of San Joaquin is vested in the Bishop, under California law, by means of a Corporate Sole-whereby the bishop by virtue of his office is trustee of the property.

Bishop Schori told the press conference that Bishop Schofield following the trial was “outside my sphere of influence. No longer a member of the House of Bishops. Not a member of the clergy. Not my concern.”

However, the revelation that the trial failed to conform to canon law, and by failing to garner enough votes to depose Bishop Schofield, had resulted in his legal acquittal, sparked a firestorm of controversy.

The Presiding Bishop’s lawyer, David Booth Beers released a statement on March 15, stating that his “position” was that the requirement that all bishops eligible to vote could be interpreted to mean all eligible to vote who happened to be present at the meeting.

What steps will now be taken to remedy the situation are unclear as both sides are confused as to how to act. Bishop Schori has already nominated a new bishop to serve as her designee in San Joaquin—retired Northern California Bishop Jerry Lamb. However, leading clergy of the diocese who wish to remain within the Episcopal Church have declined to meet with him, citing the failed trial as evidence that Bishop Schofield remains the Episcopal bishop.

On Palm Sunday, Bishop Schofield preached in his cathedral in Fresno—with Bishop Lamb seated in the front row of the congregation. Greeted with applause, Bishop Schofield defended his decision to affiliate with the Southern Cone as an act of moral necessity.

Bishop Schori had called a special convention of the diocese for March 29 to ratify Bishop Lamb’s appointment as Episcopal bishop. However, under civil and canon law the failed trial leaves Bishop Schofield as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin in the US Church, and Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin in the Province of the Southern Cone.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Out on Highway 61

RWB has got the stuff - a very recent performance by Dylan down in Mexico just a few weeks ago. This new arrangement of Highway 61 is amazing. Guess all that listening to the old stuff on his radio show is paying off. He hasn't sounded like this, well, I don't know - I don't think I've heard him like this at all, not in this decade. Now, I realize that it's all a bit of a challenge for the uninitiated (many of you have told me so) - but part of what makes Dylan a genius is not just his writing - which ought to be enough - but his phrasing. He can completely change the meaning of one of his songs by changing the phrasing (which is what great Shakespearean actors do). I haven't heard anything like this - and it's just from a few weeks ago. Guess he really likes Mexico.

Tell you what though, you read all this stuff coming out of the House of Bishops and follow it up with this and suddenly you think, now who really is telling the truth here? What we have coming up from this current tour south of the border - well, this is Dylan, still telling the truth about the human condition - all of it, in biblical proportions.

Oh, by the way - guess who is a son of Abraham - not just in faith, but in life? Once again - Dylan offers not only a searing commentary on the human condition straight through the heartland of America, but he also offers a searing commentary on himself, this son of Abraham Zimmerman. Just who's being sacrificed out there on Highway 61? Dylan seems to turn the spotlight toward himself, but even then with a sly, perhaps impish wink. Just what we need after another meeting of the House of Bishops. And you can dance to it too.

A tip of the tinfoil to RWB. You do rock.

Monday Night at the Cafe

A Letter from the Bishop of PIttsburgh to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

14th March, A.D. 2008

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop
815 Second Avenue
New York NY 10017

Dear Katharine,

In response to the request set forth in your letter of January 15th (which enclosed the certification of the Title IV Review Committee), I state that I consider myself “fully subject to the doctrine, discipline and worship of this Church.”

In particular:

1. I have striven to follow the Lord Jesus with all my heart and mind and soul and strength, all the while relying on God’s grace to accomplish what my sinfulness and brokenness otherwise prevent.

2. I have kept my ordination vows – all of them – to the best of my ability, including the vow I made on 28 October 1972 to “banish and drive away all strange and erroneous doctrines contrary to God’s Word.”

3. I have preached and taught nothing but what faithful Anglicans and mainstream Christians have always preached and taught, with the exception only that I have supported and encouraged the ministry of women in Holy Orders.

4. I have been present to all but two meetings of the House of Bishops (out of twenty-four) during the last 12 years. In those meetings I have clearly and openly opposed the theological and moral drift of the Episcopal Church, often in the face of great hostility and sadly, at times, derision.

5. I have made no submission to any other authority or jurisdiction.

6. I have gathered Anglican fragments together from one hundred and thirty-five years of Episcopal Church division, vastly increasing understanding and cooperation, though preserving the jurisdictional independence of all.

7. I have, with the clergy, people and para-church organizations of my diocese, built missionary relationships all over the world, fielding both missionaries and resources on five continents.

8. I have faithfully served and shepherded the clergy and people of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh through what has, by God’s grace, been one of its greatest periods of extension and blessing. My intention is to continue in this call for what remains of my active ministry.

Faithfully in Christ,

One of the saddest reports we've ever read

BB NOTE: Over the years we've read a lot of reports regarding the crisis now facing the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. But when this appeared online today, it appeared to be one of the saddest of all.

The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis has been an incredibly strong leader in the Global South. He exemplifies one who recognized early on the signs of the impending Episcopal/Anglican crisis and has worked hard from within to try to bring the Communion back to its biblical roots. There are prophets and there are peacemakers. Mouneer Anis we have come to see is a man with peace in his heart. He speaks boldly and desires to find a peaceful solution - as would one who has seen the alternative close up and personal.

So to read this report, which reads more like a personal testimony than anything else, is heartbreaking. But it's honest and its true - and it's very sad. He presses on.

By the time I finished the meetings of the JSC, I realised that I lost many of the hopes which I had before the meeting. Several friends discouraged me to attend the JSC meeting but I insisted to go as I don’t believe in withdrawal. Jesus is our best example in this regard. He spoke the truth boldly everywhere He went. Some accepted the truth, some refused and some wanted to murder Him, but He never stopped speaking the truth and meeting His friends as well as His enemies.

My hopes diminished for the following reasons:

• I cannot see any desire to follow things through as decided before.
The Windsor Report (TWR) recommendations, which was accepted by everyone since it was produced in 2004 is a very good example. These recommendations were affirmed during the Primates meeting in 2005, everyone waited for TEC and Canada to respond. TEC’s responses were unclear and the Primates at Dar es Salam requested a clear response by the 30th of September. The response was clearly inadequate as Archbishop Rowan mentioned in his Advent letter. What action did we take or recommend in the JSC meeting? The answer is nothing. Moreover, the very people who cause the current crisis are invited to Lambeth Conference and this contradicts with TWR as will as Dar es Salam recommendations. This widens the gap and distrust between the two sides within the Communion.

This makes me ask, “Are we ready to take decisions as Anglican Councils”? I do appreciate the “via media” in worship but not when we are dealing with a crisis. When will we become decisive?

• The first thing that upset me is that while we emphasise the importance of listening, very little time was given to discussing the important issues. Such issues were pushed to the last day of the meeting. I had expected that the very issues that are tearing the Communion apart would be given more time and priority.

I came to listen and share but there was not enough time for that. I expected that we would engage in constructive listening and discussion, especially while the Presiding Bishop of TEC was with us. How can we expect our congregations to be involved in the listening process when we ourselves are not?

• While the presence of the Presiding Bishop of TEC was so important during discussions, her presence as we decided about resolutions of assessment of the response of TEC inhibited other members from speaking freely. This was clear from the comments of some other members outside the meetings.

• I was shocked when the time line of the covenant process was presented. The plan that it would be enacted in 2015 gives the impression that we are NOT in a state of crisis and that there is no desire to move towards a solution. In my opinion, if we wait until 2015 or even 2012 the Communion will be fragmented. If we truly are in a situation that makes us “seriously concerned”, as mentioned in the JSC resolution, how can we wait another four or seven years?

• I was also very surprised that some now speak of the ambiguity of the Windsor recommendations and the meaning of “moratorium”. Where have these people been since 2004? Why were these questions not raised in Dar es Salam?

I am sorry to share my heartaches in this report, but I hope that this will encourage all of us in the Communion to pray especially for Archbishop Rowan and the Windsor Continuing Group so that the right decisions would be taken.

I realise that the forthcoming Lambeth Conference may add to my disappointment but I am determined to go, to listen and share with an open heart and firm stand.


The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis
Bishop of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa