Friday, March 06, 2009

BIshop Peter James Lee accepts appointment as interim-dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco for the Diocese of California

Could not have predicted this one - via e-mail:

Dear Friends,

When I announced my resignation as bishop at January's Annual Council, I said I was considering new steps in my ministry. I have now accepted the call of Bishop Andrus of California to serve as interim dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, after I have resigned as Bishop of Virginia on October 1, 2009.

While I will depart Virginia with sadness at leaving so many whom I love, I am excited and challenged by the call to serve at one of the nation's primary urban cathedral churches.

I began ordained ministry at an urban cathedral, St. John's in Jacksonville, Florida, and I have spent many years emphasizing the diversity and continuity of our Anglican tradition which are so well expressed in a cathedral's ministry.

After a year or so of cathedral ministry, Kristy and I expect to retire in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where we were living when I was elected Bishop in Virginia.

I look forward to these next seven months together as we all prepare for the next chapters of our service to the Lord and the church.

Faithfully yours,

Peter James Lee

FRIDAY PM UPDATE: The Washington Post now has a rather fascinating interview with Bishop Lee now up on their site.
Va.'s Departing Episcopal Bishop on Church Changes

This fall, the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee will leave Virginia after a quarter-century as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, one of the largest dioceses in the national Episcopal Church, encompassing the northern and central parts of the state and including 80,000 members and 181 congregations.

Lee, 70, is one of the longest-serving bishops in the country. A fan of murder mysteries, blues music and the beach, he will head next, with his wife, to San Francisco, where he will become interim dean for a year at Grace Cathedral, the third-largest Episcopal cathedral in the country. The Washington Post's Michelle Boorstein spoke with him recently about the impact of technology on faith, the roots of current Anglican upheaval and why he wants to leave Virginia.

Q: What are the most important ways in which the Anglican Communion, the worldwide church Episcopalians are a part of, has changed in the past 25 years?

A: "The awareness of each other, largely because of technology . . . the violence in Darfur, for example, would not have had the impact it had in the United States. It's good and bad. It means when a gay bishop is ordained in the United States, it's on CNN in Africa that day, but without any context.

The [Episcopal] Church is hugely impacted by what's going on internationally . . . the churches in the lower hemisphere sometimes resent the Church of England, the Episcopal Church -- the rich Northern churches, when it's actually kind of a displacement of resentment against U.S. initiatives, politically and diplomatically. We suffer, in a way, from that."

You are chairman of Friends of Canterbury Cathedral in the United States, which encourages support for the Anglican Communion's mother church in England. Why is that group important, in an era when Anglican numbers are shifting to Asia and Africa?

"I think it's so easy for Virginians in particular to be proud of our historic churches and comfortable in our niche, and it's important for us to be aware of what's going on globally, getting out of our parochial mindset . . . an unfortunate change in the [national] church in the past 25 years has been the decline in the appreciation for the breadth of the Communion. Historically, we held together with different emphases. But some people found our breadth to be too broad and I think that's very sad."

The current upheaval, which has centered on human sexuality and how to read Scripture, has drawn your diocese into what some experts believe is the priciest litigation in the history of the Episcopal Church, over who controls church properties: the diocese or the congregations that have broken away.

"Looking back, I think those seeds were planted decades ago. At the time, I thought the different emphases were just that, different emphases, and that there was a fundamental loyalty to what we had in common . . . to be fair, their focus was on a certain kind of biblical morality that was, in my judgment, fairly narrow. That they would read the Bible through the lens of late-20th century moralism. The place of women, gays and lesbians. I think that was unfortunate.

"I want to raise the strengths and uniqueness of what it means to be an Anglican Christian -- of holding Orthodox views, but doing so in a way that remains open to all sorts of conditions of people. The separatists seem to have an emphasis on disciplining people who have different lifestyles than they do. That's alien to the Anglican Communion."

You said you wanted to leave Virginia as soon as you stepped down, and you plan after San Francisco to retire to Chapel Hill, N.C. Why so anxious to leave?

"I don't want to be the kind of retired bishop that people sort of call when they're unhappy with the new bishop. I don't want to be dragged into that. Now I'll have more freedom. I won't have to take into account what the most conservative or most liberal lay leaders in Virginia will say about x, y and z."

You know many people in the breakaway movement, including Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, with whom you worked in the 1970s in Chapel Hill. Do you still talk?

"Bob Duncan is a friend of long standing, but we haven't talked about any of these issues in recent years. Our wives, when they talk, talk about dogs and grandchildren."


Anonymous said...

Birds of a feather...

Anonymous said...

This is bizarre. Grace Cathedral, like much of the Diocese of California, practices universalism under a thin guise of Christianity. This will either be a shock for Grace Cathedral or it will be proof that Bishop Lee has completely lost his theological marbles.

Anonymous said...

unfortunately, I suspect the latter. Peter Lee is to intelligent to NOT know what Grace Cathedral is like. If I recall correctly, Mark Andrus used to be in VA - if so, he's extending a hand of "friendship."

Anonymous said...

Great restaurants... So much for the theology portion of my comment.

Anonymous said...

Bishop Lee looks like he belongs right there in S.F. Grace Cathedral! They go together like birds of a feather! Another reason for me to tell my spouse I really would prefer to go to Palo Alto when visiting the Bay area and stay out of S.F. as much as possible!
Decisions & choices really do have their consequences!
One Day Closer

Unknown said...

That is correct, Anon, Mark Andrus was once the rector of Emmanuel in Middleberg - heart of the hunt country.


Anonymous said...

This explaines a lot!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Yikes. I used to think Bishop Lee was just a get-along-go-along middle of the road type. Either he's changing fast or I've been mistaken all this time.

From the Grace Cathedral website:

"We believe in one God, known to us in Jesus Christ, also known by different names in different traditions. We seek to challenge and transform the world, beginning with ourselves, and to celebrate the image of God in every person. We are a house of prayer, worship and service for everyone, welcoming all who seek an inclusive community of love."

You can't get much more universalist than that.

The associate rector of my old NoVA church went out there a couple years ago. I believe he's still in residence.

Anonymous said...

This says volumes about absolutely everything in TEc.

Anonymous said...

More from the grace Cathedral web site (

"Grace Cathedral is home to a community where the best of Episcopal tradition courageously embraces innovation and open-minded conversation, where inclusion is expected and people of all faiths are welcomed, where beliefs are put into action and where people are encouraged to seek God and progress on their own spiritual journeys. The cathedral itself, a renowned San Francisco landmark, serves as a magnet, where diverse people gather to worship, celebrate, seek solace, converse and learn."

redleg82 said...

"...I have spent many years emphasizing the diversity and continuity of our Anglican tradition..."

Sure, if old, white people are your idea of diversity then who am I are to argue.

I sure he meant theological "diversity". but then again I am missing the diversity.

Anonymous said...

Will +Lee...

1. Tear down the altars of the other gods in formerly Christian place?

2. Teach Andrus how to preach or are we in for more of Andrus' mental wanderings and free association sessions?

3. Finally reveal by inaction and complicity why he lost so many hundreds of members?


Anonymous said...

I think so many moderates and institutional conservatives have misunderstood the nature of an institutional revisionist like Lee -- he of the much vaunted "center aisle" [heh].

I've always said that institutional revisionists believe just what the radical revisionists do, but recognize what will damage the institution; unlike the radicals they recognize that they need the institution to carry and host their parasitic theology. Their main difference is the "let's drop anchor and let them fall asleep" strategy, rather than the "full steam ahead and damn the institution" strategy.

I think this placement is absolutely perfect for his theology.

And I think it illustrates just how much he's brazenly deceived and obfuscated over the years of his episcopacy. No real surprise -- but a nice demonstration of who he is and what he believes, as if anyone needed that.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's a need for affirmation at the end of his career. Life has been pretty rough among those he tried to lead for the past 25+ years.

In San Fransisco, he will be surrounded with people who will applaud his stand for "inclusivity and justice". His vote for +Robinson will be valued. His stand against the bigots and homophobes, even at the risking of his flagshop parishes will be lauded. His willingness to be a foot soldier for the Red Queen will show him to be of great loyalty to the organization.

He will be home.


Hiram said...

And I voted for Lee when he was elected... He has changed, or he had a good disguise.

My theory about "moderates" is that they are basically liberals with less passion and a longer timetable. They see the world from the same perspective, but are not as emotionally ready to make the changes. Give them a little time, however, and they will show their true colors.

RMBruton said...

Following in the footsteps of Bishop Pike.

Anonymous said...

No joke all, I have a friend who used to be one to the Gentlemen of the Choir at Grace, and invited me to Midnight Mass for Xmas.

After the fraction one of the choir broke away and sang to tonus simplex

"We break this bread for those who follow the way of the Bhuddah, for those who follow the Prophet Mohammed and for all those of the Tribes of Israel"

It being Christmas Eve, and I was in choir 2 stalls from Bill Swing, he did not like my muttered "no we bloody well do not!!!"

It used to be on their website but has AWOL sadly. The Celebrant used to sing it but since most of the clergy at Grace cannot sing to save their lives (aka the Orthodox Church would not ordain them... mea culpa).

I think what people forget about all the liturgical 'Innovation' is that liebrals will point to the end of Rite II whre there is theorically a Prayer E in rubrical italic that says one can make your own up.

One good thing perhaps he might actually be the only clergy of Grace Cathedral to actually attend the Annual Remembrance Day service, which they avoid like the plague.

Yours aye


Anonymous said...

The update (Washington Post Interview) is stunningly revealing.

"That they would read the Bible through the lens of late-20th century moralism...I think that was unfortunate."

No further comment necessary.


Anonymous said...

What a nice set of sinecures ECUSA revisionists have for their allies and enablers.


Anonymous said...

Best wishes to Bishop Lee. He will be missed deeply in Virginia, but wonderful that the people of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco will get to know and love him too. Oh, and Alasdair - the previous dean at Grace Cathedral was a wonderful musician - grew up as a boy chorister in England; and in fact, I believe his predecessor too was a musician. While maybe not ALL of their clergy can sing, at least one of them could, and could sing quite well!