Three Network Bishops in process of leaving The Episcopal Church
January 23 2008
DVD released of EFSC Conference addressing unity and schism in TEC
Bishop Elect Lawrence to be Consecrated On Saturday, January 26, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008, the Consecration and Ordination of Mark Joseph Lawrence as the XIV Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina is scheduled to take place at 11:00 a.m. at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul.
Many in The Episcopal Church anxiously await the new vision and leadership that Bishop Lawrence will bring to South Carolina. The Diocese of SC has been a leader in the ACN movement, many of whose members are now clearly in schism with The Episcopal Church. The Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, from which Bishop Elect Lawrence is coming, has been a leader is this movement.
The Episcopal Forum of SC received some comforting reassurance from Bishop Elect Lawrence in an 11/1/08 letter sent to The Episcopal Forum on the occasion of its conference, “Connecting with The Episcopal Church in 2007.” The following quotes from his letter speak to a common goal for unity in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion:
“ I write to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ on this glorious Feast of All Saints’ when the Collect for the Day, echoing the words of St. Paul in Colossians 2:2, reminds us that God has “knit together [the] elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of [his] Son….” This communion, particularly in a centuries old see such as South Carolina, includes a truly noble heritage of both Anglican and Episcopalian believers, many of whom down through the centuries labored steadfastly, with much sacrifice and in much hardship—so the great hymn reminds us, “For all the saints, who from their labors rest….” This mystical fellowship graciously includes all of us who strive to make our unity visible in Christ and his Church in spite of all the forces that would divide his body, disrupt this heritage we share as members of The Episcopal Church, and in the worldwide Anglican Communion. …………..
The Apostle Paul, in the same epistle from which the phrasing of our Prayer book’s Collect for All Saints’ Day gets its inspiration, reminds us that in Christ “…all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell and through him to reconcile all things …by the blood of the cross.” Because we also have been reconciled through him, we are as the apostle urges, to put on above all the garment of love, “which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” It is my firm conviction that in Christ’s reconciling work we shall find the key to our unity and through the “…love of God that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit” we shall be enabled to maintain it.”
Link to Full Text of Letters
San Joaquin: 'Moving Forward, Welcoming All' conference to host online audience January 26
January 23, 2008
[Episcopal News Service] When Episcopalians in the Diocese of San Joaquin gather on Saturday, January 26 for "Moving Forward, Welcoming All" at the Church of the Saviour in Hanford, California, they will welcome an online audience.
Viewers may access the live video stream, to be carried via Episcopal Life Online, by logging on to http://www.episcopalchurch.org/.
The video stream will also bring Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's greetings to continuing Episcopalians gathered at the Central California Valley historic church, starting about 10 a.m. Pacific time (11 a.m. Mountain, 12 a.m. Central, 1 p.m. Eastern), said Mike Collins, Episcopal Life Media Video/Multicast Unit director.
"The situation in the Diocese of San Joaquin is something that is on the minds of Episcopalians across the country," Collins said. "We felt it was important to provide live streaming coverage to the wider church as well as to show support for those who remain in the diocese."
House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson and the Rev. Canon Robert Moore, appointed by the Presiding Bishop as the interim pastoral presence for continuing Episcopalians, will keynote the gathering on site to offer support and encouragement, along with other speakers. Anderson's comments to the gathering, expected to draw Episcopalians from across the diocese and the state, will be videocast.
The event will culminate Moore's five-day "listening tour" of the experiences and hopes of clergy and laity remaining in the Episcopal Church in Stockton, Riverbank, Fresno, Bakersfield and Visalia.
Nancy Key, a co-founder of Remain Episcopal, which is sponsoring the January 26 event, said faithful Episcopalians are ready to move forward. "We really want to rebuild this diocese, and it's going to be tough," said Key.
Viewers will be able to watch the videocast, from 10 a.m. to 11.45 a.m. Pacific time in Windows Media and Real Media versions in high and low quality as well as audio only for those with slower internet connections, Collins said.
Link to Video - 1 pm EST on Saturday, 1/26/08
Episcopal Church Urged to Table Disciplining Bishop
By Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Thu, Jan. 24 2008
A leading Episcopal conservative is urging the national church to halt the process of disciplining Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, who is currently moving toward disaffiliation.
"In brief, I would urge TEC (The Episcopal Church) and other Anglican bishops to pray for and take action so that this process pauses indefinitely," the Rev. Ephraim Radner said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Episcopal Church's three senior bishops stopped short of banning Duncan from his religious duties last week when the presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, sought to inhibit him. Duncan was, however, certified as having "abandoned the Communion of this Church" and Episcopal bishops are expected to vote on a final decision later this year.
The charge essentially means that the bishop has effectively left the church.
Duncan has been leading his Pittsburgh diocese toward a split with The Episcopal Church over its liberal direction on Scripture and homosexuality. The Pittsburgh bishop has expressed little hope that the national church would get back in line with Anglican tradition and is currently planning to form a separate orthodox Anglican body in the United States with other conservative bishops.
The Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of Anglicanism, widened rifts in the Anglican Communion when it consecrated openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003.
Radner urged the Episcopal bishops to vote to table the matter of Duncan's status and discipline "indefinitely." He believes the national church is not in a position to judge anything especially during a time of confusion and discernment.
He noted that The Episcopal Church's adherence to "the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship" of the church has been in question since 2003 and also pointed out that the national church has taken several breakaway parishes to court over church property despite requests from primates, or leading bishops of the Anglican Communion's 38 provinces, to stop litigation.
The Episcopal Church has already inhibited Bishop John-David Schofield of the San Joaquin, Calif., diocese which voted last month to break from the national church. It is now seeking disciplinary action on Duncan as well as Bishop Jack Leo Iker of the Diocese of Fort Worth, which is also taking steps to remove itself from the national church.
Link to Article
DVD released of EFSC Conference addressing unity and schism in TEC
Episcopal Church leaders Bonnie Anderson, Sally Johnson and Frank Wade discussed issues of Unity and Sc ism in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Community. A panel Q & A discussion including the speakers and Bishop Salmon is included.
Bonnie Anderson, D.D. is President of the House of Deputies, the highest ranking lay office in The Episcopal Church.
Sally Johnson, Esq. is Chancellor to the President of the House of Deputies.
The Rev Frank Wade is a prominent speaker and consultant and was chaplain to the House of Deputies at the 2003 General Convention.
DVD's will be shipped within 2 weeks.
Link to Order Conference DVD
Episcopal bishop tested in first year
By Daniel Burke, Religion News Service.USA Today
Jan. 20, 2008
For a woman sitting on a very warm seat, Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, seems remarkably cool.
Even those who disagree with her progressive leadership agree that the 53-year-old remains unflappable under duress.
"She's centered and intense," said the Rev. Kendall Harmon, a well-regarded conservative theologian from South Carolina. "You get a sense when she answers a question that she's trying to channel all her passion in one place."
Since Jefferts Schori's installation slightly more than a year ago, she's had plenty of opportunities to test her poise. The presiding bishop, who serves a nine-year term, is chief pastor and executive of the 2.2 million-member Episcopal Church.
"It's been a year of a steep learning curve," she said in an interview Jan. 16. "But it's been a delightful privilege to travel around and see the ways in which the church is fully engaged in its mission."
Part of that mission, Jefferts Schori said, is demonstrating how a diverse community can "value the person and positions of others who disagree with us."
Her historic election in 2006, when she became the first woman to lead a national province of the worldwide Anglican Communion since the Church of England was founded in the mid-1500s, immediately riled traditionalist parts of the church, even as women rejoiced.
Conservatives in her Episcopal Church and the larger Anglican Communion were already incensed over the 2004 consecration of a partnered gay man as bishop of New Hampshire. Jefferts Schori supported that election.
Now dozens of churches — including an entire diocese in California — have left the Episcopal Church for more conservative branches of the Anglican Communion. Lawsuits over property and assets have followed close behind.
"She has the hardest job in the world," said Diana Butler Bass, an Episcopalian and author of Christianity for the Rest of Us, who had high praise for Jefferts Schori's leadership. "What a terrible time to come into a job."
It would be easier to let U.S. conservatives secede to join another Anglican province without a fight, said Jefferts Schori, "but I don't think that's a faithful thing to do."
Episcopal leaders are stewards of church property and assets, protecting past generations' legacies and passing them on to future Episcopalians, according to the presiding bishop. Allowing congregations to walk away with church property condones "bad behavior," she said.
"In a sense it's related to the old ecclesiastical behavior toward child abuse," when priests essentially looked the other way, she said. "Bad behavior must be confronted."
But Jefferts Schori can be "heavy handed" in her treatment of conservative bishops and churches who've left or distanced themselves from the church, said the Rev. Neal Michell, canon for strategic development in the Diocese of Dallas.
Earlier this month, Episcopal leaders, including Jefferts Schori, charged two conservative bishops with "abandonment," barring San Joaquin (Calif.) Bishop John-David Schofield from active ministry and threatening similar action against Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh.
Both Michell and Harmon also criticized the presiding bishop's decision to become involved in a legal battle between the Diocese of Virginia and 11 churches that have split to join Nigerian Anglicans.
"To be so directly and explicitly and publicly and intentionally involved in these processes is terribly counterproductive to the church's mission," said Harmon.
But resolving the internal squabbles is part of the church's mission, Jefferts Schori insists, "because it's about how we live together."
Even with all the burdens of the job, the nature-loving former oceanographer said the most challenging part of the past year has been living at church headquarters in New York City.
"Having my focal place in a city where there are very few wild things, except, I'm told, the nightlife," is difficult, said Jefferts Schori.
USA Today Link
Schofield fires most of San Joaquin Standing Committee
January 20, 2008
Schofield fires most of San Joaquin Standing Committee
Dan Martins is reporting on his blog, Confessions of a Carioca, that six of the eight members of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin have refused to become members of the Province of the Southern Cone. Bishop Schofield has renounced his membership in The Episcopal Church and joined the Province in South America. [See the Martins commentary below].
The message from Bishop Schofield:
"On December 8th at our Diocesan Convention the overwhelming vote to transfer from the Episcopal Church to the Province of the Southern Cone was passed. At that time I became a member of the House of Bishops of that Province.
"Therefore, the Standing Committee, which is my council of advice, must be composed of clergy members who are Anglican priests of the Southern Cone. This is required by Diocesan Canons and the Archbishop of the Southern Cone of South America, who writes:
'In welcoming you to the Province of the Southern Cone on December 8th it is my clear understanding that even though you are allowing a period of discernment for those clergy who are still undecided, it would be highly inappropriate for any officer or leader within the Diocese of San Joaquin to be currently undecided or clearly within the Episcopal Church and continue as an officer or leader. The requirement governing each diocese of the Southern Cone is that all members of Diocesan Council, Standing Committee, and those selected as representatives at Synod be recognized Members of this Province.'
"Therefore, this morning I received the resignation of those members of the Standing Committee who do not meet the above qualifications. Communication and correspondence related to the Standing Committee should now be directed to the new President of the Standing Committee, ---------, at the Diocesan Offices."
Then we have this, from the duly-elected president of the Standing Committee:
"During the Standing Committee meeting of January 19th, the Bishop determined that the elected members of the Standing Committee who had not publicly affirmed their standing in the Southern Cone [whose congregations are in discernment, some over the legality of convention's actions] were unqualified to hold any position of leadership in the Diocese, including any elected office. He pronounced us as unqualified. No resignations were given. The question of resignations was raised and rejected. The members of the committee at this morning's meeting were quite clear on this point, we did not resign, we
Link to Article
Episcopal church cracks down on dissidents
Wed Jan 16, 2008
By Michael Conlon, Religion Writer, Reuters News Service
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Leaders of the U.S. Episcopal Church have stepped up a crackdown on conservative dissidents, ordering one bishop to stop his religious work and threatening a second with the same thing.
Both rebuffed the moves.
The worldwide Anglican church and its U.S. branch have been fractured since 2003 when the Episcopal Church consecrated Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as the first bishop known to be in an openly gay relationship in over four centuries.
There are also divisions over interpreting the Bible, the ordination of women and the blessing of same-sex unions.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, head of the 2.4-million-member U.S. church, last week slapped Bishop John-David Schofield, leader of California's 8,000-member Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, with an "inhibition."
It ordered him as of January 11 to "cease from exercising the gifts of ordination in the ordained ministry of this church" and stop all "episcopal, ministerial and canonical acts."
That happened because the Fresno, California-based diocese last month seceded, becoming the first Episcopal diocese to do so, and aligned itself with the conservative Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, based in South America.
Schofield told the Episcopal leadership neither he nor the diocese were under their jurisdiction any more.
"How is it that 60 million Anglicans worldwide can be wrong and a few hundred thousand in the American church can claim to be right?" Schofield said.
A spokesman for the San Joaquin Diocese said on Wednesday the bishop and his followers continued to carry out services and administrative duties as before.
Jefferts Schori warned the bishop of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Robert Duncan, he faced a similar "inhibition" unless he proves he has not left the church.
Duncan's diocese took an initial vote last year in favor of aligning with a foreign primate as part of new, larger structure for traditionalists in the United States and Canada.
"Few bishops have been more loyal," Duncan responded. "I have not abandoned the communion of this Church. I will continue to serve and minister as the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh."
If the Episcopal House of Bishops in March affirms Jefferts Schori's order against the California bishop, he could be "deposed' and his post declared vacant. A lawsuit would follow if he or those loyal to him refused to leave church property.
Dissident congregations in Virginia which have left the church but tried to hold on to property are already engaged in a court battle over who owns what.
The Anglican Church of Canada is also in turmoil with some conservatives to moving to join the same South American Anglican branch as the California diocese because of their opposition to blessing gay marriages.
FORT WORTH: Iker comments on Presiding Bishop's letter
By Mary Frances Schjonberg
January 16, 2008
[Episcopal News Service]
Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker has made public a letter to him from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
The letter, dated January 9 and received by Iker on January 15, was intended to be a pastoral exchange between the Presiding Bishop and Iker, according to Episcopal Church Public Affairs Officer Neva Rae Fox.
In a short statement posted on the Fort Worth website along with a copy of the letter, Iker termed the letter "a second threatening letter."
Jefferts Schori wrote that she continues to assert that "individuals may leave" the Episcopal Church "but congregations and dioceses do not."
She wrote that she believes that "any encouragement of such a belief, or action toward departure, as I believe it to be a violation of the vows we have both repeatedly taken to 'conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church."'
In addition, she wrote, "I lament your belief that clergy and laity with your theological position are being systematically eliminated from positions of leadership and influence.
"If they are disappearing, it is by their own decision and at their own hands," she wrote.
Jefferts Schori told Iker that she and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson have "carefully" worked to "ensure broad representation in appointment to various bodies," adding that both they and their predecessors have "have also sought to include all theological positions in appointments within our purview."
Lastly, the Presiding Bishop acknowledged Iker's concern about "those who stand by their convictions being threatened with depositions and lawsuits."
"I would also note that depositions and lawsuits have no substance if there has been no violation," Jefferts Schori wrote. "Fear of the same is probably not rational if there is no basis for same."
Link to Article
Bid to depose Pittsburgh bishop blocked
By The Associated Press
Thursday, January 17, 2008
An Episcopal committee says that conservative Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan has "abandoned the communion of this church," a potential first step toward stripping him of religious authority in the denomination, but blocked the national Episcopal Church from imposing the penalty of "inhibition," which would have barred him from performing religious duties.
But the Episcopal House of Bishops is expected to consider imposing the punishment near the end of this year.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who notified Duncan that he had abandoned the communion on Tuesday, told Duncan that she sought permission to inhibit him.
"I would, however, welcome a statement by you within the next two months providing evidence that you once more consider yourself fully subject to the doctrine, discipline and worship of this Church," Jefferts Schori wrote to Duncan.
In a statement, Duncan said he has been "loyal to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church."
"I will continue to serve and minister as the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh," he said.
The 11-county Pittsburgh diocese and Duncan are among the more vocal conservatives who believe that the Episcopal Church, the Anglican body in the U.S., is abandoning the authority of Scripture and traditional teachings on truth, salvation and homosexuality. In 2003, the Episcopal Church consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
A majority of the 77-million-member Anglican Communion believes the Bible bars gay relationships, while a majority in the Episcopal Church does not.
"The charge, essentially, is that he has effectively left the church, which he wants to do," said Lionel Deimel, a board member of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh.
The group said it hopes the church's canonical procedures will clarify issues in the Pittsburgh diocese.
"Whether he can resume his role in The Episcopal Church or must relinquish it, we pray that he finds a way to serve Christ's Church in peace and good conscience," the Rev. Diane Shepard, the group's first vice president, said in a statement.
About 60 of the more than 7,000 Episcopal parishes have either split from the national church or suffered serious membership losses in the past few years, the denomination says.
But only one full diocese has broken away: the Diocese of San Joaquin in Fresno, Calif. Last week, the Episcopal Church inhibited San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield after he led his congregants to secede from the national church.
The Diocese of Virginia is the midst of a lengthy legal fight in state court with several conservative churches that voted to split from the Episcopal Church and align with like-minded Anglican provinces overseas. The diocese has opened a $2 million credit line to cover anticipated legal expenses in its bid to hold onto church property.
A Message from Bishop Iker
to all Clergy and Convention Delegates of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth - January 16, 2008
Yesterday was a rather interesting day, and I wanted to make certain that all of you were aware of the following events:
BISHOP SAM HULSEY, the retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas, hosted an organizational meeting yesterday afternoon at his home here in Fort Worth for all clergy of this Diocese who are opposed to the decisions made by our Diocesan Convention in November and who are committed to keeping this Diocese in The Episcopal Church, no matter what. Though I was not given a list of those invited, I understand that only two or three rectors attended and that the rest were a handful of retired priests and a couple of deacons. Of the 14 clergy who voted against the constitutional changes in November, it is believed that half are retired or non-parochial.
I HAVE RECEIVED A SECOND THREATENING LETTER from the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. Interestingly enough, it arrived on the same day as the meeting convened by Bishop Hulsey. As you will recall, in a much-publicized letter in November the PB had threatened me with disciplinary charges of “abandonment of the communion of this church” if I permitted the Diocesan Convention to vote on the proposed constitutional revisions that were put before us. This time she threatens me with charges of a violation of my ordination vows if I continue “any encouragement of such a belief” that parishes and dioceses can leave The Episcopal Church. Well, so much for an invitation to dialogue and conversation! It’s all about threats of dire consequences if you don’t comply with the party line.
BISHOP BOB DUNCAN of Pittsburgh was officially charged with abandonment of the communion of the church on this very same day! Though the Review Committee endorsed the charges brought by the PB, the three senior diocesan bishops would not consent to his being inhibited from functioning as a bishop, as they had done in the same charges brought against Bishop John-David Schofield of the Diocese of San Joaquin just last week. The essential difference in the two cases is that San Joaquin approved measures to separate from The Episcopal Church with a second, ratifying vote on December 8th, whereas the Pittsburgh Convention approved of their measures at the preliminary, first reading vote in November, an action which will need to be ratified at the 2008 Convention. Fort Worth is in the same position as Pittsburgh.
BISHOP STANTON OF DALLAS AND I had a very good meeting yesterday at St. Vincent’s, where we discussed how to make provision for any parishes in this Diocese that may choose to remain in TEC if the Diocesan Convention votes to separate from The Episcopal Church. We were joined by our Canons to the Ordinary, the Presidents of our respective Standing Committees, and the Chancellor of the Diocese of Dallas. You will be hearing more about this in due course.
Thank you all for our prayers, encouragement and support during these difficult days in the life of our beloved church.
The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
Link to Letter
PB Katharine Jefferts Schori responds to Bishop Iker
January 9, 2008
The Rt. Rev Jack L. Iker, D.D.
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
Fort Worth, TX 76108
Thank you for your letter. I believe you have misinterpreted my previous letter. I gave no "acknowledgement that dioceses can and do leave the Episcopal Church." On the contrary, I continue to aver that individuals may leave, but congregations and dioceses do not. I continue to urge you to withdraw from any encouragement of such a belief, or action toward departure, as i believe it to be a violation of the vows we have both repeatedly taken to "conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church."
I lament your belief that clergy and laity with your theological position are being systematically eliminated from positions of leadership and influence. If they are disappearing, it is by their own decision and at their own hands. I note how carefully the current and former Presidents of the House of Deputies have been to ensure broad representation in appointment to various church bodies, and know that my predecessors and I have also sought to include all theological positions in appointments within our purview.
You state your concern about those who would stand by their convictions being threatened with depositions and lawsuits. I would also note that depositions and lawsuits have no substance if there has been no violation. Fear of same is probably not rational if there is no basis for same.
I pray that your ministry may be one of abundance in the coming year, and I remain
Your servant in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori
[This text is transcribed from an image of the original letter. The previous exchange of correspondence referred to occurred in November close to the time of the Fort Worth annual convention that passed on first reading constitutional amendments removing any reference to the Episcopal Church.]
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