Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Up next: presentation by "shadow dioceses"

The shadow dioceses - those entities created by the Presiding Bishop's office for litigation (or as they are referred to here at General Convention rather euphemistically as "renewing dioceses") - will be making a presentation in the press room and going out as a live webcast. It's all supposed to begin at 4:15 p.m. (now delayed due to technical difficulties). Apparently, the PB's deputized bishops will be holding court. We're told they won't take questions, thought, that it's just "a conversation." Exactly who they are having a conversation with when they are sitting in front of the press is not exactly clear.

I assume, then, we'll hear from representatives from the shadow dioceses of Ft. Worth, Pittsburgh, San Joaquin, and Quincy. Stay tuned!

While we wait - the technical difficulties continue - here's Peter Frampton for your listening pleasure:

Looks like they should be underway soon. Old friend Jim Simons is here representing the "renewing" diocese of Pittsburgh. There appears to be one bishop and one non-bishop representing each entity.

They are now introducing themselves, Bishop Johnson and Jim Simons for Pittsburgh, Tobin Lee Miracle and Bishop Buchanan for Quincy, Jan Dunlap and Bishop Lamp represent San Joaquin, and Bishop Gulick and David Madison and Katie Sherrod for Ft. Worth.

They are talking about how welcomed they feel at General Convention and the absolutely joy that has come over their diocese - oh, there's some anger - but there's just so much joy now. It's all energetic and inspiring. Ah.

Jim Simons was moved that another deputy told him that he needs him in the church.

Small is beautiful, says the bishop representing Quincy, though the lay representative says the experience has been shattering. Bishop Lamp has ordained a woman in Fresno. It's clear this is a small remnant that did not want to separate from The Episcopal Church, though they are very small groups so it's not clear why they believe they can be viable when the overwhelming majorities of the laity and clergy voted to separate. It seems clear that they believe that if they are more "inclusive" they will grow. They talk of being liberated and it's so exciting, but their faces don't seem to match their words, except perhaps Katie Sherrod who is quite enthusiastic. But the bishop then explains says that most of their clergy are retirement age. No one has mentioned the litigation yet.

They do continue to use the phrase "faith communities" instead of congregations or churches, perhaps because some don't have buildings. The bishop representing Pittsburgh says that they do have their buildings and are building an infrastructure. Jim Simons reminds everyone that since the provisional bishop joined them, the Steelers won the Super Bowl and the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, if only someone could do something about the Pirates.

Lots of thanks being given for the financial support from The Episcopal Church and for the support from the Presiding Bishop's chancellor. But nothing about the litigation or the depositions.

And that's that. One side of the press room applauded at the end.


Scott said...

Nothing "shadow" about them. They're just dioceses.

Anonymous said...

A.S. Haley so rightly stated: No valid replacements have been erected under the civil laws of the respective States for the four Dioceses which pulled out of ECUSA: San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, and Quincy


Anonymous said...

I am deeply saddened and disappointed to see a priest on that panel that showed so much promise in a certain southern diocese until he officially joined the litigious 815. Such a kind man, but deceived. I bet TEC will use him well, as he has a law degree. Very very sad.

mousestalker said...


You are correct. Zombie dioceses is much more accurate.


The Rev Canon Dr David Wilson said...

As I was listening to a former colleague of mine on the panel hold forth, all I could think of was Matthew 16:26 "For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" ---Sad, sad, sad, very sad.

Anonymous said...

As a member of TEC, I cannot understand why you want to cover the General Convention; you have left TEC. Please move on!

Anonymous said...

I heard that Bishop Howe of Central Florida is leaving the Episcopal Church.

Anonymous said...

From what I'ver heard, +Howe's not leaving. Probably wishful thinking on both sides.

So, Anon at 11:11 pm, if that's how you feel, what are you doing here?

A good guess is that if TEC had left BB alone personally - like not sue her, much less her church, you wouldn't be hearing much from her...or a lot of conservatives. Perhaps your arts of persuasion would be of better use on TEC to stop violating Scripture by suing "brothers" in Christ.

BB, thanks for the updates. God knows we won't hear objective reporting from TEC now, since we haven't for the last 30+ years.

The Lakeland Two

RMBruton said...

Thank you for such an objective report. Keep up the good work.

Anam Cara said...

Anonymous #5 (AKA The Lakeland Two),

Well said!

Pageantmaster said...

Meanwhile in Manchu-kuo..

Daniel Weir said...

Objective report? The use of "shadow dioceses" hardly seems objective to me.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Dan:

True - There's not enough there to cast a shadow...


Unknown said...

It would be rather hard for Bishop Howe to leave TEC when he's standing for the Executive Board, now wouldn't it? He's been very clear, he's staying in and is willing to stand for election. That's commitment!


Daniel Weir said...

Ralph may be right that these dioceses are so small that they don't cast a shadow, but I recall something about those small mustard seeds. Let's not be so quick to dismiss the witness of these people who want to remain in the Episcopal Church. One can disagree with them, but rudely dismissing them is quite another matter. I have decided to refrain from criticism of those who have left the Episcopal Church and joined ACNA and I hope those who are no longer members of ECUSA would refrain from criticism of my church.

Anonymous said...

It would be so much easier to refrain from criticism if people were not being so rudely sued.

Daniel Weir said...

People are being sued, however I reject the characterization of that as rude. I respect the right of people on both sides to seek to protect what they believe to be their property rights. It is unfortunate that there is no authority within the Anglican Communion to which the parties can go for a resolution of this matter. St. Paul obviously believed that the Corinthians had an alternative to the courts when he wrote, "When any of you has a grievance against another, do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints?" We, however,don't at present have such an alternative. Having already agreed to incorporating under civil law, we might be seen to have submitted ourselves already to the judgments of the unrighteous.

Anonymous said...

It seems that Bishop Howe says one thing, and then does exactly the opposite. So which is true? Do we believe his words or his actions? I am not sure.

Anonymous said...

So....if I join your church and worship there for 20 years and then disagree with your theology...I can leave your church AND own the building?


Daniel Weir said...

I have some trouble conversing with people who hide their identity, but I will try. No, you can't own the building. However, that is not what this dispute is about. The question is simply whether or not a vestry or a diocesan convention can vote to take the parish or the diocese out of the Episcopal Church. So far the answer to that question has been "no" although the matter is far from settled. It has been the contention of leaders in the Episcopal Church that people can leave, but dioceses and parishes can't. I agree with that, but I have no problem when those who have left seek to make the case for their retaining ownership of Episcopal Church property. It is their right.

Anonymous said...

No, Anonymous at 5:12 pm. The church that BB, the ones being sued, and even those of us conservatives have been in most if not all of our lives - you know - donated our money, time and talents - is the one we worship in. That TEC, and apparently with your blessing, wants to change theology and we don't agree doesn't stop TEC from trying to rip the structure from under our feet. That you feel you are entitled to a building you did nothing for doesn't surprise me any more. The fact that what TEC is representing now isn't basic Christianity any more isn't surprising either. And that TEC doesn't have any problems stripping a congregation of its assests by lawsuits, etc., and then closing the church because there aren't enough people to support it - gee, that's real outreach. Not so sweet.

Whoever is saying that +Howe may leave obviously isn't hearing correctly. He's made it clear he's staying in TEC and staying true to Christ. There is no actions that support the claim that he would leave.

The Lakeland Two

Daniel Weir said...

The Lakeland Two raise a question that lies at the heart of the dispute - how do we honor those who gave gifts years or decades ago? In at least one negotiated settlement some years ago, it was clear that the assets of the parish had been acquired while the current members were members. In that case it was appropriate for the no-longer Episcopal congregation to retain those assets. But there are other congregations that have been around for many decades and the issue is much more complicated. The Denis Canon seems to me to favor those who remain within the Episcopal Church, but these matters are still far from settled.

Anonymous said...

Lakeland Two does not account for members of the same church who gave similar gifts and elected not to leave.

Getting back to the idea of "Shadow dioceses" created by ECUSA for purposes of litigation, I would think the more natural interpretation of events is that the departure of members to other alignments, even priests and bishops, did not extinguish the pre-existing Episcopalian diocese. It may be diminished, but I do not understand either conceptually or practically how it would cease to exist. Therefore, if there is a correct "shadow" reference, it would be to the diminished state of the remaining Episcopal structure.


priest in TN said...

Re the litigation discussion: I attended a Q&A session with the PB a couple of weeks ago. Initially she claimed the “legacy” argument but then stated she could tolerate the church having the building if it was a “Congregational” church instead of Anglican. Later, she elaborated that it was an issue of immunology and implied that those who are leaving are a type of “virus” thereby dehumanizing them. Guess it’s easier to sue that way. She doesn’t care about the congregations who have gone before the departing ones. Don’t kid yourself, Fr Weir. It’s a matter of hubris.

FaithieJ said...

"They are now introducing themselves, Bishop Johnson and Jim Simons for Pittsburgh"

R.I.P. Rocket J. Squirrel, it was nice knowing you.

Anonymous said...

Scout - What do you do about churches where the old members of the congregation stand up for what they were taught and it is in conflict with the new direction of TEC. What if they are in the minority? Because that is really the point. While +KJS & Company want to say they are preserving the assets of the Episcopal Church, they are really subverting them from the faith earlier generations gave to. No matter what name you call it. The dioceses that left were connected to historic Episcopalianism. What TEC raised up may consist of people from that area, but the two are very different. This argument can go round and round. Is it worth anyone's time? No, except for fodder for lawsuits. Or educating those just coming into awareness of the battle.

Why not come up with a compromise? Note that +Schofield of San Joachin said those who wanted to stay with TEC could have their property as long as there were no debts to the diocese, IIRC. Pay up and it's yours. That's far better than "we'd rather turn it into a saloon" than let you have any part of it.

The best solution is compromise. Let those parishes/dioceses out that want out. On either side. Then, where there are split congregations, majority keeps the building, but helps to establish a new church so that both sides have an acceptable place to worship. But this would mean that both sides would have model the love of Christ to each other.

From that point, let TEC have their Dennis Canon. Anyone staying on or joining from that point knows what they are getting.

If a church or diocese chooses to return, again, they know what they are signing in to. And have it a canon - once in, never out.

How about GC09 vote that everyone gets to vote about staying in TEC. That anyone wanting out has one year to signify by doing so. The fee to do so - 5 years of current year assesment to the national church. Something along the lines that Fort Worth (?) came up with so no one is left choking without funds.

That is reasonable, don't you think? The question remains is whether the fight about property is really about the physical or is it about retaliation and franchise protection? If not, then a compromise could be reached.

Anonymous said...

Oops - Anonymous at 1:46 was The Lakeland Two.

Anonymous said...

TL2: I'm not sure how to respond. It strikes me that there are sincere people who favor departing the Episcopal Church (although I would prefer that they stay and make their case for orthodoxy) and who favor remaining. I don't think it is a generational thing - in my parish, the remaining contingent tends to be much older than the departing one. As for earlier generations no longer with us, I sense that efforts by the living to bring them into the fray is essentially an exercise in ballot box stuffing. I never hear anyone invoke prior generations except to support their side of the issue. The dead tend to vote unanimously with the living who count their votes.

My thought is that those who wish to leave should leave and not encumber their spiritual principles with efforts to hold onto property (many of these situations have been forced property transfers without any offer of payment to those remaining). Property distorts the import of the decision to leave and make ambiguous whether the decision to depart is motivated doctrinal purity or unwillingness to give up familiar physical surroundings. Build a new church with what otherwise is spent on lawyers.

If those remaining cannot, over time, support the facilities, work out a fair deal with those departing or with other Christians who can support the property.


Anonymous said...

Scout, sorry so long to respond, but off-line world demanded my attention. Thanks for your answer.

I agree that most of the oldest generation doesn't want to do anything - they just want to be left alone. I asked that particular question for a reason. My parents tell me to quit and just leave like they did. In our congregation, one elderly gentleman said "As long as it doesn't affect me, I don't care." Yet his son just told him that he doesn't believe in Jesus anymore. It's affecting him now. My mom has told me several times now that she wished she had spoken up in the '70's. Now she just doesn't go - anywhere. And she would be a middle of the road moderate, not the Charismatic "fundamentalist" that I am. Recently, some older members of our congregation were complaining that what they know as Episcopal tradition wasn't being passed on. Yet, the solution was to hire a seminary student unfamiliar with Episcopalians to be a youth leader. What has been tradition is not getting passed down. So while the oldest generations may not be protesting like me or BB, some have recognized the problem.

Having to give up property isn't fair. We Americans are supposed to be fair, so when someone isn't - it's a shock. My personal opinion is to let TEC have it. Here's the cloak -- and the tunic, too. And get on with the real mission. I understand why some are fighting to hold onto the property. I do find +KJS talking about "mission" when funding for MDG's and other ministries has been cut, but litigation funding is increased ironic.

The churches I know that have left and started again with nothing are thriving. Our personal situation is (besides the most important reason being God hasn't released us yet) there are no new startups near us.

But I do get angry when we conservatives have the "listening process" shoved down our throats without the courtesy of us being listened to as well. There are many people who have left who wish they had had a different choice - their experiences aren't wanted by the far liberal left.

TEC is poorer for each conservative who has left, even if they dont realize it yet. But when we have people being discourteous to us constantly, is it any surprise? That's one of the reasons I've responded to the comments I see as attacking BabyBlue.

Thank you for your courteous answer to my previous questions. I thought you did a great job. May the Lord bless you.

The Lakeland Two

Anonymous said...

TL2 - you and I and our brothers and sisters are probably typical of the hurt that has been inflicted on parishioners throughout this sad period in the history not just of the Episcopal Church, but also of the Church of Christ. I do believe, as I think you are asserting also, that there could have been a lot more listening on both sides before demolition got under way in earnest.

Blessings to you and wishes for meaning worship on this lovely Sunday.