Comments: Network opposition speaks out

Thanks loads to Bishop Salmon of South Carolina for this lasting advice: (paraphrased) Do not be reactive, because then other people will set your agenda.

At its best, this applies to the Windsor Report and to the Dromantine Communique and the Lambeths and to lots of other things, especially by encouraging us not to read them, exclusively in legal-administrative-punitive frames.

And best wishes to the progressives and allies of South Carolina. Just keep following Jesus of Nazareth, no matter what the rest say about you.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 7 September 2006 at 3:51pm BST

Since the Bishop of a diocese signs on to abide by the Constitution and Canons of the church how can one of them 'take' a diocese and move it to another governing body? I'd think that would constitute abandonment of his or her see at which point the national church could declare it vacant and call for the election of a new bishop. Isn't this why the "Windsor" / Network bishops haven't been more bold in telling for TEC to go stuff it?

Posted by Richard III at Thursday, 7 September 2006 at 5:31pm BST

' Half-truths are particularly useful to this approach because they require of the truth-teller a more detailed and sophisticated response than the attacker wields in the initial assault.'

The Cathereine Thiemann is excellent. I particularly appreciate the above quotation, and think it is an important insight, into what is going on. And how to refute it.

I am glad to see someone uncowed, on her own confidant ground. Also to see the word 'orthordox' being reclaimed from the ACC and Network.

Also the reminder of the origins of the English Church as an entity separate from Rome and its implications for the Anglican Churches brings clarity.

The so-called ACC and So-called Network will be found by history, soon to have faded out along with the various other obscuarantist groupings. They make christianity a laughing stock, that most people wouldn't touch with a barge-pole. Is this their intention ?

Posted by laurence hoyw roberts at Thursday, 7 September 2006 at 5:35pm BST

It is time to consider disciplinary measures against Network bishops, especially +Duncan. Catherine Thieman describes a meeting between +Mathes and +Duncan at GC2006 over break-away parishes in San Diego. There ought to be follow-up action on +Duncan's duplicitous behavior. Either +Duncan accepts TEC's C&C, which he vowed to uphold at his consecration, or he shall face the consequences for his lack of personal integrity.

Posted by John Henry at Thursday, 7 September 2006 at 6:08pm BST

Richard III. It has been happening for quite some time in some dioceses. Particularly where the bishops and head office diocese are highly organised and have a mission to create a "unified" diocese. There was an excellent thread on Melbourne Anglican's forum called "I'm dispirited" - it is a lovely cameo on how a diocese can become "uniform". Unstated is the "restructuring" to remove financially struggling parishes, "counselling" of ministers who are theologically incorrect, "sidelining" or failing to promote ministers, controlling recruitment and screening so that only suitable ministers can be appointed, allowing some parishes to advertise for ministers and not others, early retirement of ministers who are not coping. If you have a central clique with a clear agenda that is unwritten (because papers, especially on the internet) have an unfortunate habit of getting into the "wrong" hands, you can go a long way to hijack a whole diocese. And if you are highly motivated, well funded, and good at it; you can role model and encourage it in other dioceses, and even other churches too.

Simon, thank you. I've permalinked this one because Thiemann's piece is excellent.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 7 September 2006 at 6:31pm BST

I read the Thiemann's piece and I can't figure out what it adds to the debate beyond what is already known by even the most casual observer of the mess that is TEC.

AAC/ACN wants a break from TEC. There is no denying that. The two sides are at irreconcileable differences because they are preaching irreconcileable gospels. Time to start arguing about the legal nits and get on with it.

Posted by AKB at Friday, 8 September 2006 at 7:14am BST

Yes thanks loads for the Thiemann essay link.

It is handy because it gathers information together in one place that has otherwise been more dispersed in time, place, person, and conservative after spin.

I also think it gives me a good start on pinning down some of the details of the spin/false witness these realignment movers and shakers so love to indulge to redefine and misrepresent a range of facts, intentions, people, actions, and places.

It also gives me a good start on the details of the duplicity in which at least many USA realignment leaders, if not also others, have engaged, and are now engaging. Same sex acts may or may not be innately immoral, that is part of our current controversy. Lies, spin, falsehood, misrepresentation, and strategic uses of your pledges of allegiance to TEC canons/constitution are much more widely agreed to be innately immoral.

You can lie to some of us Anglicans all the time. You can lie to all of us Anglican some of the time. You cannot easily convince all of us Anglicans for the life long term with this rightwing hoo ha.

Thanks to Thiemann for shining a coherent light on these different angles, gathered into one essay. Its discerment of the split factions as aimed at power motives is compelling.

Those who sincerely wish to get on with the split just need to vote with their feet, and stop trying to take endowments, buildings, and other TEC legacy resources with them. But of course, stealing those legacy resources is part of the reason for realignment.

Posted by drdanfee at Friday, 8 September 2006 at 3:36pm BST

I am always mystified by this phrase "irreconcileable gospels": it makes no sense to me.

*The Gospel* is GOOD NEWS, because it *saves* (and it saves, because *God Loves*).

The AAC/ACN/Akinolist "gospel" excludes, and then CONDEMNS. It doesn't love, doesn't save and, therefore, isn't Good News.

The GOOD NEWS, is that ALL people---whom Jesus gave his life to save---can and WILL be reconciled, in him. :-D

But that exclusionary, so-called "gospel", can go back to the h*ll it came from! ;-/

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Friday, 8 September 2006 at 7:36pm BST

We preach Christ crucified. the Wisdom and Power of God.

Difference may not be much in what is preached but rather in what is done. Matt. 7:21-27

The GOSPEL saves because GOD so LOVED, HE GAVE.. John 3:16. Man must however believe and accept 3: 16, 1:12-13.

GOSPEL is power of God to save all who believe. Romans 1: 16

God's anger on rejection of GOSPEL. Romans 1:18ff, 2: 5-8

Posted by Tunde at Friday, 8 September 2006 at 10:30pm BST

Good Spell, Bad Spell.

(... and spells ;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 10 September 2006 at 8:27am BST

From San Diego: I haven't followed this closely since I bailed out to become one of the Unchurched about 7 years ago but nothing seems to have changed. The bottom line is that this dispute is about the bottom line: real estate--expensive California real estate. Even so it isn't clear whether the hassles and the litigation which is sure to follow are cost effective.

I fail to see what would be lost, other than real estate, if the diocese just let these guys take their buildings and affiliate with the dioceses of Bolivia, Uganda or Tierra del Fuego as they please. Or is the aim to force out congregations so that the church buildings can be sold off for condo conversions?

Posted by H. E. at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 4:25am BST

To H.E. with regard to the property of churches and dioceses in TEC:

I frequently find myself wanting to have us just "let these guys take their buildings and affiliate with the dioceses of [etc.] as they please". The reason we have not done so, to date, is not about forcing out congregations in order to sell the buildings. It is because while it seems reasonable in order to end a conflict, it does two things:
It short circuits making every possible effort to reconcile
it would be darn difficult to say in court "this is a one-time thing only - the next time someone wants to take their buildings and run the old rules apply again", and have it stick. If we just let people cut the cord and take everything with them (including their pension fund?), we'll have to do that every time a parish wants to leave.

The buildings and property, as has been said often, are held in trust by the parish, through the diocese, for the national church. This is supposedly known whenever a new church plant is made. If a priest and/or parishioners want to leave, they must do just that, even if it's every one of them. The buildings and grounds then become available to the diocese to plant another priest and congregation there.

I was in a diocese once in which a priest took the entire congregation and its records and overnight took them away from the diocese. They left the building, along with one or two families that didn't want to leave. These families were sent a priest. In time, most of the congregation that had left returned to the original church.

I know it is hard for parishioners to leave a facility and the furnishings for which they have paid, and the memorials they have placed there to loved ones. We as clergy have failed when the people we serve don't understand that everything we have belongs to God, not us, and we can't take it with us. That includes all our beloved memorials, and our buildings. My compassion says, "let them have their buildings." The former DuPont credit account manager in me says, "that's opening a legal can of worms which can never be closed again and cuts at the root of institutionalism of the church."

That's my two cents' worth, and worth just about that much!
Lois Keen
Priest, Connecticut

Posted by Lois Keen at Monday, 11 September 2006 at 7:33pm BST

Wow, Lois, what a Christian thing it would be to do--to let any congregation that wants to leave TEC for any reason now and in the future to keep their stuff. Officially in the US church property is held in trust by the diocese for the national church but as you note it is paid for by members of the congregation and their predecessors. This bs about "everything we have belonging to God" is all very well and all very Franciscan but the fact is that this stuff is financed by members of the parish and their predecessors.

If the national church, through its dioceses, wants to have control of church property they should pay for it. It isn't a matter of compassion but a matter of fairness that, IMHO, trumps legal rights. If the national church, or the diocese wants to "plant" new churches, let the national church (which has plenty of bucks), or the diocese pay.

The structure of TEC is an anachronism which supports bloated, top-heavy bureaucracies in most dioceses and in the national church that such money upwards and give little or nothing back. It might be healthier overall for TEC if it "revisioned" itself as a voluntary association of congregations, each maintaining its own property and kicking into the diocese for services rendered--if any.

Is this "unEpiscopal"? Not theologically, because quite apart from these practical, financial matters we can still hold that bishops, and bishops alone, have the magical power to confirm kids and to ordain priests and bishops. That's what counts, isn't it?

And what if lots of congregations left and took their property with them. So what? That would just mean fewer diocesan administrators, lower pay for bishops, and less money to support the national church bureaucrats in their high rise on prime Manhattan real estate. What would Jesus do? How do you think he would view that building at 815 Second avenue: "For this I was crucified--oy vey!"

Posted by H. E. at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 6:24am BST

"This bs about "everything we have belonging to God" is all very well and all very Franciscan but the fact is that this stuff is financed by members of the parish and their predecessors." H.E.

Would that more Christians were like St. Francis. L.K.
Lois Keen

Posted by Lois Keen at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 12:02pm BST

Wow, Lois, what a Christian thing it would be to do--to let any congregation that wants to leave TEC for any reason now and in the future to keep their stuff. Officially in the US church property is held in trust by the diocese for the national church but as you note it is paid for by members of the congregation and their predecessors.

Note, the property and improvements have been paid for by the predecessors of the current congregation and in some cases with financial support from the diocese. The property canons are there to protect the church. Each parish is run by a vestry elected by a majority at an annual meeting. All it takes for a group of "Christians" to come in and steal the property of a congregation is to present a majority of members at three sicessinve annual meetings and the coup is complete. Since some Episcopal congregations are small, it wouldn;t take much for a group to come in and take a parish away from the congregation and take the property for its own uses and not the uses for which the funds were donated in the first place -- to have a parish of the Episcopal Church.

Posted by ruidh at Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 5:49pm BST
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