A Voice in the Fundamentalist Wilderness
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Null and Void, But Not Without Consequences
On Saturday, our Diocesan Convention will be voting on a resolution to amend the Constitution of our Diocese, to disavow our accession to the Constitution and Canons of ECUSA. The proposed amendment, put forth by the Diocesan Council at the behest of +D, is without doubt null and void on its face, because the Diocese's very existence is based upon its acknowledgement of the relationship to ECUSA the amendment seeks to repudiate.
The fact that the amendment, if passed at two successive Conventions, cannot take effect because it is illegitimate does not mean that its passage is without consequences. A vote for this ill-conceived piece of legislation is, in and of itself, a declaration of separation from ECUSA.
It is comprehensible that people who voted for the six resolutions at the Special Convention did so only to "speak their minds," and not to take any real steps towards leaving the Church. Since the six resolutions were admitted by their proposers to be essentially and fatally flawed, both procedurally and substantively, it is possible to argue that the majority of those who voted for them knew that they could never be effective and, thus, were just using them as a way of proclaiming their great dissatisfaction with the GC's actions.
If the above is true, so be it, although a resolution asking the GC to reconsider its same-gender blessing resolution would have made much more sense (if the purpose truly was to change and not tear apart the Church). However, the amendment to be voted on Saturday--because of the express message it carries--cannot be viewed in the same light.
A vote for this amendment is a vote for leaving the Church. Period.
Call for +D to Disavow His Organization's Hateful Rhetoric
Yesterday, the AAC issued its "Statement on the Consecration of Canon V. Gene Robinson", a hate-filled screed, starting with the following paragraphs:
"Today is a grievous day in the history of our Church. Heresy has been held up as Holy. Blasphemy has been redefined as blessing. The hope of the transforming love of Jesus Christ has been denied. Holy Scripture has been abandoned and sin celebrated over sanctification. The arrogance of the leaders of the Diocese of New Hampshire and the Episcopal Church is nothing less than stunning.
The world has now seen the foul fruits of "anything goes" spirituality and the leaders that have pushed it in the Episcopal Church. The Apostle Paul says:
'For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.' (2 Tim. 4:3,5)
The time has come. Our family is now split and the whole cloth of the Anglican Communion is torn. Realignment has begun."
Our +D, of course, is second-in-command of AAC. He has been almost preternaturally silent since the consecration; nonetheless, unless he expressly repudiates the hate spewed by the AAC, it must be imputed to him.
I pray that +D will issue a statement disavowing both the substance of the AAC press release and the evil spirit that created and imbued it.
Monday, November 03, 2003
The Christian Century
magazine excerpted this from a Los Angeles Times editorial:
"The actions taken by the New Hampshire Episcopalians are an affront to Christians everywhere. I am just thankful that the church's founder, Henry VIII, and his wife Catherine of Aragon, his wife Anne Boleyn, his
wife Jane Seymour, his wife Anne of Cleves, his wife Katherine Howard, and his wife Catherine Parr are no longer here to suffer through this
assault on traditional Christian marriage."
I received an email that passed along to me the information that a person had been advised by the AAC that I had "challenged" the right of two non-resident priests to vote in our diocesan Convention. One of the two priests is a missionary, with whom I became acquainted on a mission trip to Honduras last year. The other is a woman not known to me personally, who apparently teaches in Maryland or New Jersey.
According to the email, I was accused of having mis-identified both of the priests and, apparently, of having denigrated in some way them and/or their legitimacy as voters in our diocese.
The interesting thing, of course, is that the only time I have written about these two priests is in a former posting to this blog, which was comprised of my notes from the pre-convention hearing held at St. Brendan's on October 21. AND, the only reference to these folks was a quote from +S, who was trying to explain the purpose of the proposed amendment to our Canons regarding allowing non-resident priests to vote.
I have never, nor would I ever, speak badly of either of these priests. In reality, they and their voting has NO relationship to the proposed amendment. My opposition to the amendment--from the very first time that I read it--arises from the clear intent of the amendment to allow +D to not only "gather in" to his episcopal oversight all of the dissident fundamentalist priests from throughout the U.S., but also to allow them to vote here, regardless of where they serve. In essence, our diocese--with the help of this amendment--could/would become the "alternative" church to which +D and other AAC people have spoken.
Of course, we cannot expect the AAC spin-doctors to be any more truthful in their retelling of what is on this blog than they have been about any other documents (including but not limited to the Primates' Statement). But, please keep in mind, always, that if it comes from the AAC, we need to demand citations and proof.
Thank You, Tom Ehrich
Tom Ehrich enriches many lives with his daily devotional, "On a Journey," that he is kind enough to send out on-line. His thoughts from last Friday are particularly apt for our lives:
"Can moderation survive? That is the question for our times. Extremism has the stage now. I can only speak of Christianity, although I sense
Islam fights the same internal battles. Calling itself "fundamentalist" (grounded in the fundamentals of faith) and "evangelical" (grounded in the Word), claiming "tradition" (inherited truth) and "infallibility" (beyond error), Christian extremism claims all truth and virtue, and demands that other voices be silenced. It is an ugly time.
People flock to it. That is what moderate believers find so amazing. As Christian fundamentalists are quick to point out, theirs are the growing churches. The so-called "liberal" traditions are in steady decline. What happens if the center cannot stand?
Christians have been at war from the beginning. They were jostling for position during Jesus' lifetime, and began immediately afterward to toss scriptures at each other, to outlaw competing viewpoints, and to define
Scripture and Creeds in ways that conferred power.
Jesus saw the center as a place of self-emptying, and he urged his friends to risk going there. Wisdom would get them close but not all the way. Power had nothing to do with it. Privilege and wealth were traps. Control was a delusion. The center was marked by love and self-sacrifice.
Moderation won't win today's religious arguments. Extremists will always shout louder, carry bigger guns, and appeal relentlessly to that dark side which resides in us all. Moderation will step back, not in fear or
waffling but to gain perspective. Moderation will watch a Muslim at prayer and ask what he knows. Moderation will watch young Qatari women choose the veil and want to understand why. Moderation will read the
Qur'an and hear enough echoes of the Gospel that themes emerge.
Moderation will seek God's vastness and wonder, and not be satisfied with narrow triumphalism. Moderation will seek the holy life, and not be lured into hatred. Moderation will accept loss of certainty as the cost of self-emptying, and self-emptying as the cost of seeing."
Thanks and Praise
I am filled this morning with great thanks and praise for our Lord and His blessings to us. As I worked through the early morning hours yesterday, I prayed that God would be with all of those preparing for the consecration of Bishop Robinson; that the service would be filled with joy and (importantly) not be remembered for some unspeakable act of violence.
God answered my prayers and those of millions of others, I am sure. Bishop Robinson's consecration took place without violence, other than a few spoken words. He is whole and healthy this morning.
At our home parish, we celebrated the day with a unique combination of wedding and baptism of a the bride and groom's infant son. It was a blessed occasion, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it.
Altogether, yesterday was a day of joy and renewal; of understanding that God is God, for all, in all, always.
We will need to hold onto this joy and understanding as we enter into what may be some very dark days.
The following words were posted to the internet last week. While they specifically addressed the upcoming--now past--consecration of Bishop Robinson, they are important to all of us as we all start contributing to the newest chapter of Episcopalian life:
Center Aisle - - Diocese of Virginia
In wrestling with the issue of sexual behavior, a sentiment attributed to St. Augustine should set the tone: IN ESSENTIALS, UNITY; IN
NON-ESSENTIALS, LIBERTY; AND IN ALL THINGS, CHARITY."
"Essentials of the faith" are those things upon which we really must insist, lest we erode
our underpinnings and lose our foundation, not to mention our credibility. "Important but non-essential matters" about the faith are matters about which we can agree to disagree.
So what are the essentials of our faith?
They are those things God has revealed and the church universal has received. We can start with the Apostles' Creed, confessing faith in God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Trinitarian formula is the basis for our baptismal covenant and the foundation of our faith.
We then can move to the Nicene Creed, which emphasizes to a greater degree the redemptive work of Jeues Christ: that "for us and for our salvation," Jesus became incarnate, suffered death, rose again, ascended into heaven, and will come again in judgement of the living and the dead.
The universal church quickly adds to this list other essentials, such as our belief that Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to
salvation. Episcopalians, Anglicans, and other mainstream denominations would want to add the sacraments of baptism and Holy Eucaarist, but even there, the debate would be engaged as to " by whom, how often, and in what form" - and there we'd be in the realm of " important but non-essential" matters.
Clearly, what forms of sexual behavior are acceptable and what forms are sinful is an important matter for the church to discuss, and even to decide. Important matters such as these deserve the church's deep prayer, attention, and debate. But "important matters" are not the same thing as essentials, and precisely for that reason, we can continue to agree to disagree about them, without unraveling the church.
What does have the potential for unraveling the church, however, is the way we go about agreeing to disagree.
That is why the third aspect of Augustine's maxim is "in all things, charity." The most famous passage on "charity" is, of course, the
thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians. Remember that there is not much about modern culture that could not have been said of Corinth. Much of 1 Corinthians is explicit, stern instruction and direction, challenging the
church's litigiousness, complacency, irreverence and pride. Paul minces
But then Paul says, if we are the most eloquent persons in the world, have all prophetic powers and knowledge, and all faith, but do not have charity, we will sound to the rest of the world like clanging symbols -
the screech of fingernails on a blackboard.
The love of which Paul speaks - the charity we are to have in all things at this General Convention - is slow to lose patience, looks for ways of being constructive, does not try to impress, does not gloat, is not irritable or touchy, and does not keep score.
In essentials, unity: in non-essentials, liberty, in all things, love.
This spoke to me and I wanted to share it with all of you.
Thursday, October 30, 2003
I commend to you the opening page of Anglicans Online, which can be found at:
The question of "what's in a name" hangs heavy in the air these days.
Utah Resolution a Beautiful Thing
The Diocese of Utah just passed the following resolution:
Whereas the deputation of the Diocese of Utah and the Tenth Bishop of Utah voted unanimously in their respective Houses for the consent to the election of the Bishop Coadjutor-elect of the Diocese of New Hampshire and for allowing the local development of the blessing of same-sex unions; and
Whereas the process of the New Hampshire election and the General Convention
process were conducted openly in accord with prevailing constitutions and canons of the diocse and the General Convention; and
Whereas threats have been made against the life of the Bishop Coadjutor-elect of New Hampshire and there exist threats by bishops and dioceses in the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) to push for a relaignment of the Anglican Communion should the ordination in New Hampshire go forward;
Therefore, be it resolved that the 98th Convention of the Diocsese of Utah publicly affirm the votes of its 74th General Convention Deputation and Bishop, honor and trust the faitful of the Diocese of New Hampsire and their new bishop, and strongly reaffirm and support the actions of the 74th General
Convention, the Episcopal Church USA, its mission and ministry thorughout the world.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Thanks to Calvary for Walking the Point Position
As most of you know, Calvary Episcopal Church, one of the Diocese’s largest churches, led by the good Rev. Dr. Harold T. Lewis, on Friday, October 24, 2003, filed suit against +D, +S and many members of the Board of Trustees and Standing Committee. Below is a summary of the lawsuit and comments.
Complaint in Equity
Filed on October 24, 2003
Filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
Plaintiffs: Calvary Episcopal Church (“Calvary”); the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (by Calvary as Trustee Ad Litem) (“Diocese”); the Rev. Dr. Harold T. Lewis, rector of Calvary; and Philip R. Roberts, senior warden of Calvary.
Defendants: The Rgt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan, Bishop of the Diocese (+D); the Rgt. Rev. Henry Scriven, Asst. Bishop of the Diocese (+S); 11 members of the Diocesan Board of Trustees (Babatunde Fapohunda, Robert Manson, James Moore, John Morgan, Lynn Patterson, Donald Pepler, Thomas Rampy, Bruce G. Seiling, John Stevenson, Richard Thomas and Douglas Wicker); and 5 members of the Standing Committee (The Rev. Catherine Brall, Kathleen Marks, the Rev. J. Douglas McGlynn, the Rev. Scott T. Quinn and William Roemer).
Counsel for Plaintiffs: Walter P. DeForest, George E. Yokitis, Jacqueline A. Koscelnik and Gary L. Kaplan
Purpose of the Lawsuit (Paragraph 1 of the Complaint): “...to preserve and protect the unity and integrity of the property of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, and those parishes, missions, and other institutions and organizations of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America which are part of or affiliated with The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.”
Facts/allegations upon which the Complaint is brought (Paragraphs 2-26):
Background on Parties:
-- National Church (I will use “ECUSA” from here on out) is a hierarchical church.
–ECUSA governed by GC, with a Constitution and Canons adopted (“C&Cs”) in October 1789.
–Art. V, Sec. 1 of ECUSA’s Constitution requires that to be admitted to the GC, each diocese must in its own constitution provide for the “unqualified accession” to the C&Cs of ECUSA.
–ECUSA is an unincorporated association.
–Diocese also is an unincorporated association, governed by both the C&Cs of ECUSA and its own C&Cs, which were adopted according to the provisions of ECUSA’s C&Cs.
–Diocese’s C, in Art. I, states that the Diocese is “a constituent part” of ECUSA; “accedes to, recognizes and adopts” ECUSA’s C&Cs; and “acknowledges its authority accordingly.”
–Members of Diocese are parishes “located in and surrounding Allegheny County, PA that have agreed to abide by” the C&Cs of ECUSA.
–The C of the Diocese, at Art. XIII, provides that each parish must have a charter and bylaws, or articles of association that “expressly adopts and recognizes the authority” of the C&Cs of the Diocese and the C&Cs, “doctrines, discipline and worship” of ECUSA.
–Calvary is a PA non-profit corporation, incorporated in 1953.
–Calvary represents the interest of the Diocese and members of ECUSA who are part of
–Calvary has been a parish in ECUSA since 1855, when it was part of the Diocese of PA. It was one of the original parishes of this Diocese when it was formed in 1865.
–Parishioners of Calvary are members of ECUSA and the Diocese. They have contributed “substantial resources, financial and otherwise” to ECUSA and the Diocese.
–“A substantial portion of the assets” of the diocese have been contributed by Calvary and its parishioners.
–Calvary has founded 5 other parishes in the Diocese, as well as Harry E. Sheldon Calvary Camp, Inc., a youth and family camp. Title to Calvary Camp was put in the name of the Diocese’s Board of Trustees.
–Calvary and its members “have and have had an interest in the property that is, has been or should have been within the control of Defendants in the past, present and/or future.”
–Defendants “individually and collectively, accepted, at relevant times held, and currently hold positions of responsibility within” ECUSA and the Diocese.
–Each of the Defendants “currently is and at all relevant times has been subject to” the C&Cs of ECUSA and the Diocese.
–Under the C&Cs of ECUSA and the Diocese, Defendants “have been vested with rights and duties respecting the preservation and administration of interests” of ECUSA, the Diocese, Calvary and its members and the individual plaintiffs, in property and assets.
Alleged actionable behavior:
–Defendants “have failed to discharge their obligations”; “have improperly assumed or permitted others to assume control over property interests” of ECUSA, the Diocese the other Plaintiffs, and “have threatened improperly to transfer and/or have transferred, property contrary to such interests.”
–Defendants “through public statements, actions and failures to act, have demonstrated their willingness to participate in the improper sale, diversion, disposition or other transfer” from ECUSA, the Diocese, Calvary and the other Plaintiffs “of interests in real property, personal property and other assets under Defendants’ control as officials” of ECUSA and the Diocese, “or to permit the same to occur” and “thereby wrongfully deprive” ECUSA, the Diocese and “its parishes loyal to” ECUSA “of the present and/or future benefit, use and/or control of such
–Defendants “have wrongfully purported to transfer and/or nullify the interests [or permitted the same to be done]” of ECUSA, the Diocese and other Plaintiffs in assets held by or for the benefit of ECUSA, the Diocese, the other Plaintiffs, parishes, missions or organizations of the Diocese.
–Defendants’ words, actions and/or inactions are contrary to their duties” under the C&Cs of ECUSA.
–Defendants have “disavowed and acted, or in the case of the Standing Committee Defendants, permitted Defendant +D to act, contrary to” Title I, Canon 7, Sections 4 and 5 of ECUSA’s Canons, commonly known as the “Dennis Canon” (all assets of any parish held in trust for ECUSA and the Diocese).
–Defendants have “acted, or permitted other Defendants to act, contrary to” Canon XV of the Diocese, which provides in part that if any parish is dissolved, the + and Standing Committee will take action to vest all of its assets in the Board of Trustees.
–At Special Convention on September 27, 2003, +D, supported by +S and not opposed by other Defendants, introduced and secured passage of 6 resolutions. Resolution 6 “purports to nullify the provisions of” the C&Cs of ECUSA and the Diocese re property rights and interests. “In so doing, Defendants wrongfully, and without authority, sought to divide and separate the interests of” the Diocese from the interests and authority of ECUSA.
–Board of Trustees Defendants voted in favor of Resolution 6; and Standing Committee
Defendants did not oppose.
–In support of Resolution 6, +D “stated that those congregations choosing to leave” ECUSA “should be permitted to retain the churches and property located in their parishes.”
–Dr. Lewis wrote to +D “asking him to disavow that the purpose of” the Resolution 6 was to allow congregations to leave ECUSA and keep churches and other property that they currently use or hold.” +D refused.
–Resolution 6 “purports to deny and nullify” ECUSA’s and the Diocese’s interest in property held by the Board of Trustees. A commentary on Resolution 6 offered by +D stated that its purppose was to “repudiate the Denis Canon...”
–+D has demonstrated his intention to take any steps he deems necessary to extinguish the interests” of ECUSA and the Plaintiffs in property and assets under his control. For example, in a Post-Gazette article of September 28, 2003, +D was quoted as saying that “the diocese could prevent lawsuits through actions such as selling a building to its congregation for $1.”
–In a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article of October 8, 2003, the Rev. Canon Mary Maggard-Hays, a spokesperson for the Diocese, was quoted as saying, “I sense that divorce [from ECUSA] is imminent.”
–Defendants soon intend to introduce and/or allow to be introduced an amendment to the Diocese’s C&Cs that would “wrongfully reiterate their independence from” ECUSA .... and “further disavow their obligation under the Denis Canon to preserve the interests of” ECUSA, the Diocese and other Plaintiffs. Amendment will be introduced at the Annual Diocesan Convention on November 7-8, 2003.
–The statements, action and/or failures to act of +D and the other Defendants “have caused irreparable harm to” the Diocese and other Plaintiffs and “threaten them with substantial and imminent additional irreparable harm for which there is no adequate legal remedy.”
Count 1: Breach of Fiduciary Duty. Defendants, “by virtue of their election, accession to and acceptance of official positions... bear fiduciary responsibilities under common law as trustees to protect and preserve the beneficial interests” of ECUSA, the Diocese and other Plaintiffs. Defendants having acquired control over church property by virtue of their official capacities, “have no right or entitlement to assert such control for purposes, or to take action regarding such property, contrary to” the interests or C&Cs of ECUSA or the Diocese or the interests of parishioners in the Diocese. Defendants have breached those duties.
Count 2: Conversion and/or Improper Transfer of Property Interests. Defendants have “disposed of or attempted to dispose of property interests and assets” of ECUSA and Diocese, “for purposes contrary to the interests of” ECUSA, the Diocese or the other Plaintiffs, and “contrary to their duties as fiduciaries....” Defendants’ actions “constitute wrongful conversion and/or improper transfer of property and assets.”
Count 3: Breach of Contract OR Breach of Third Party Beneficiary Contract. Defendants, by virtue of their acceptance of their positions, entered into contracts with ECUSA, the Diocese and the other Plaintiffs, to comply with the C&Cs of ECUSA and the Diocese. In alternative, Calvary and the other Plaintiffs are third party beneficiaries of contracts between the Defendants and ECUSA and the Diocese. Calvary, its members and the other Plaintiffs relied on the commitments of Defendants and “committed substantial resources” to ECUSA and the Diocese,
and to the custody and control of the Defendants. C&Cs of ECUSA and the Diocese “establish and provide protection for” the property interests of the Plaintiffs so long as they remain part of and subject to ECUSA. The Defendants expressly repudiated the Denis Canon and, therefore, repudiated their obligations under the C&Cs of the Diocese. Defendants’ actions constitute breaches of their contracts with the Diocese, Calvary and the other Plaintiffs, and has injured the Diocese, Calvary and the other Plaintiffs.
1. Declaratory judgment (i.e., a declaration from the Court) confirming the Defendants’ fiduciary duties and declaring Resolution 6 invalid and lacking effectiveness under PA laws.
2. Declaratory judgment that the real and personal property and other assets of ECUSA and the Diocese may not be transferred to or held by congregations which are no longer part of ECUSA.
3. Injunction preventing Defendants from taking any action “intending to, or having the purpose or effect of, depriving” ECUSA, the Diocese or any of the other Plaintiffs “of the beneficial use and control of property that has been, is, or will be subject to the custody and/or control of the Diocese or Defendants...”
4. Injunction requiring Defendants “to take all action necessary” to vest in the Board of Trustees title of property and assets of parishes which leave ECUSA.
5. Injunction requiring Defendants to “take all necessary actions to preserve and protect the interests” of ECUSA, the Diocese and the other Plaintiffs, subject to the C&Cs of ECUSA and the Diocese.
6. An accounting and restitution of “any interest in real property, personal property or other assets sold, diverted, disposed of or otherwise transferred by any Defendant” from ECUSA “or used for purposes contrary to the interests of” ECUSA.
7. Costs, attorneys fees and “such other relief as the Court deems just and proper.”
Attachments: C&Cs of ECUSA and Diocese; resolutions passed at Special Convention; commentary on Resolution 6.
The Defendants have 20 days from date of service in which to answer the Complaint.
Comments: Hallelujah!!! And, thanks Calvary, Rev. Dr. Lewis, Mr. DeForest, et al! Perhaps the “black and white” of the Complaint will make it clear to all of us to worship as Episcopalians in the Pittsburgh area just “what is wrong with this picture,” as the situation has been painted by +D and his supporters over the past few months.
The facts are the facts: The Diocese of Pittsburgh exists as a legal entity only as a part of and so long as it fulfills its covenants to the larger church, ECUSA. There is no such thing, nor can there be, as the Diocese operating in contravention of the C&Cs of ECUSA (thus, in contravention of its own C&Cs). Just as no state of our Union can adopt and effectuate constitutional or statutory provisions that violate the rights and privileges of its citizens as guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States, this Diocese cannot adopt amendments to its C&Cs which permit the violation of the rights of each or any of us who are Episcopalian, as those rights are secured for us in the
C&Cs of ECUSA.
As we were told last week, sometimes that only way to assure unity (which we all crave and pray for) is to require (by court order, if necessary) that all players remember and abide by the rules by which they pledged to live in our community. Thus, this lawsuit–as is stated in the very first paragraph–has been brought for one and only one purpose, to preserve and protect the unity and integrity of our Diocese.
In my humble opinion, this lawsuit was brought at just the right time. The Defendants have been given enough rope with which to hang themselves (figuratively of course). We need no longer stand by and wait for additional “proof” of their intent. Furthermore, under the C&Cs of the Diocese, there is a very troublesome lack of transparency in conduct of the Diocese’s financial affairs. It is exceedingly difficult for any of the members of the Diocese, individually or even as a group, lacking a majority of a Diocesan Convention, to secure an accurate picture of just what financial and asset transactions are taking place. The Board of Trustees, in particular, has no duty
to report to the body as a whole a fair compendium of its actions. Accordingly, the assets of the Diocese very well could dwindle away without notice. This lawsuit will prevent that from happening.
Notice that the Diocese (i.e., the unincorporated association of all of us) is a PLAINTIFF in this lawsuit. Calvary is suing on its behalf. So, each of us has an interest in this suit and its success. Please pray with me for the wisdom and clear discernment of the judge who hears this case.
Also notice that +D is NOT the Diocese. The Defendants all are sued as individuals who hold positions of authority in the Diocese and who, it is alleged, have violated their duties to uphold the governing documents of the Diocese and its parent association, ECUSA, and to preserve the assets of the Diocese.
Finally, notice the relief that is being sought--NOT money damages, but a court determination of OUR rights and the duties of those who govern our Diocese, and a court order making sure those right and duties are upheld and fulfilled, respectively. Injunctions are appropriate when the plaintiff can show that "irreparable harm" (i.e., harm that money cannot correct at some later date) will occur if the court does not act. That seems very clear here. The harm done to this entire Diocese and to all of its members (and to the Church at large) by acts of secession that already have been carried out at the persuasion of +D and that are being urged upon the upcoming Convention cannot be undone by simply throwing money at the problem months or years from now.
Again, thank you, Calvary and Rev. Dr. Lewis. I will be praying for you as well.
Saturday, October 25, 2003
In a Wonderful Nutshell
There is a magnificent pastoral letter to the clergy of El Camino Real available at http://www.ecrweb.org/page/page/285307.htm
I HIGHLY recommend reading this short letter.
One sentence is too good not to pass along here:
"...as Anglicans, as the Protestants of the English Reformation, we are heir to the twin-advent of the Bible in English, and the theological freedom--indeed responsibility--of individual interpretation of scripture that came with the Reformation."
More Info Re AAC
The following are interesting comments by The Rev. Alistair Macdonald-Radcliff, International Coordinator, American Anglican Council, in undated informal notes circulated among AAC board members, c. 2000..
“We have before us a possible multifold strategy:
“To build up and enlarge the group of orthodox Primates planning to act in support of orthodoxy in the U.S. This means practical action.
“--We need to encourage more contact and visits. Suggestions have been made that Bishop Stanton will cover Africa over the Summer. Atwood has said he plans to visit Australasia, and there has been a proposal that I visit the Indian subcontinent after visiting Bishop Sinclair in Argentina who is the coordinating Bishop of the orthodox Primates (and with whom we have an excellent relationship) Perhaps Bishop Duncan could also visit India?.
“—We need to play a coordinating role with regard to possible “visitation: by Primates to the U.S….
“—We need to assist the orthodox Primates in gathering evidence about the state of the American Church.
“Finally, after much wrangling, the initiative [of forming the Network for Anglicans in Mission and Evangelism (NAME)]has come into actual as distinct from potential being…
“The most important point to recognize now is that whatever happens about the niceties of recognition, NAME already exists and is in the process of establishing itself, thus we are already safely past the point when opponents can kill it!…
“There is a Board established (see separate list) under Bishop French Chang Him including Bishop Stanton… and also a Programme Committee including Bishop Duncan…
“NAME has survived the attempts to kill it by ambush, led by 815…
“The original aims and character of NAME as envisaged by the Primates need to be preserved.
“it must keep its mission focus
“it must now allow itself to be co-opted by existing or failed bodies such as the ACC, MISSIO or 815…
“We need therefore to give careful consideration to how we plan to structure our role and work in NAME.
“GENERAL OBSERVATIONS REGARDING THE INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT FOR US…
“in the old Anglican heartlands of Britain and America we have been too insular and introspective. In the past we have failed to see growing forrest [six] that is Anglicanism because of the few withering trees that obscure the view and comprise the dominating local liberalism. All this therefore makes it abundantly clear just how essential it is that we connect with out [sic] Anglican brethren across the globe, and moreover that we do this at every level in our own province. This process can be integrated with (and will advance) our domestic concerns. It is from such a starting point that I put forward a number of points for consideration…
“DEVELOPING OUR DOMESTIC EPISCOPAL BASE…
“How can we make sure that the AAC is seen as the foremost organization able to speak at the episcopal level for orthodox Episcopalians? How can we prevent chaotic fragmentation or duplication of efforts? We really do need to assert our position as speaking for orthodox Bishops and cannot allow others to dilute our identity…
“SPECIFIC FURTHER INITIATIVES.
“1) I propose that we seek to move our contribution in the aid field in two directions: --down to the diocese and parishes… --up to the level of making a contribution to strategic thinking in areas of aid and sustainable development. There is a definite role for an organization that is seen as responsible and not ideologically extreme, to work with existing agencies, including the UN, the world Bank and others (including large international companies) in seeking to move aid programs in a more constructive and long term direction…
“3) We need to do some strategic thinking about areas where we can take special initiatives…
“--In discussions jointly with OCMS and later with Professor O’Donovan at Christ Church proposals were considered to arrange:
“a) a strictly confidential dialogue with homosexual persons (not their liberal advocates) in the expectation that in speaking for themselves they would reveal their ‘group’ to be much more diverse and less cohesive than the liberals wish to suggest. An apprehension of the complexity of this constituency could bring greater maturity to the discussion of this issue in the church that would probably by no means lead in a liberal direction….”
THANKS Jack Taylor!
Friday, October 24, 2003
News of Other Court Cases of Interest
From a compadre in Connecticut comes word of two other court cases, both out of New Jersey, that are of interest regarding ownership of property and assets of parishes who choose to disassociate from ECUSA. He wrote:
Before anyone gets too worked up about their rights to church property and money, they need to take a look at two New Jersey Supreme Court cases, both argued on April 21, 1980, with decisions in both handed down on July 24, 1980.
One is DIOCESE OF NEWARK v. BURNS, 83 N.J. 594 (4 pages) dealing with St. Mark's Church in West Orange, NJ. The other is PROTESTANT EPISC. CHURCH, DIOCESE OF N.J. v. GRAVES, 83 N.J. 572 (17 pages) dealing with St. Stephen's Parish in Plainfield, NJ. Both Rectors in these two cases were deposed by their respective Bishops.
One thing that you "can take to the bank" is that these two cases will be called into play as precedent in the event any Episcopal Church or Diocese endeavors to leave the ECUSA. You can also be certain that Supreme Court decisions such as these will not be treated lightly in any other jurisdiction."
This person is so kind as to offer to send copies of the cases:
"Should anyone want copies of the N.J. Supreme Court cases I mentioned in yesterday's post (see below), send me an e-mail and I'll get them off to you. Depending upon the number of requests, it may take me a while to respond.
IRS Investigation of AAC Requested
For those of you interested in the American Anglican Council and the Institute for Religion and Democracy, I am passing along the following complaint, which I filed today with the IRS.
Jack H. Taylor Jr.
October 24, 2003
Internal Revenue Service
ATTN: TE/GE Division, Customer Service
Post Office Box 2508
Cincinnati, Ohio 45201
Re Complaint Against ican American
Anglican Council, EID #75-2668339
and Institute for Religion and Democracy EID #52-1265221
To Whom It May Concern:
Please accept this letter as a formal complaint against American Anglican Council, EID #75-2668339 and the Institute for Religion and Democracy EID #52-1265221, both of 1110 Vermont Avenue NW (Suite 1180), Washington, DC 20005, for possible violation of In possible violation of Internal Revenue Code Sec. 6033 governing the filing requirements of exempt organizations and IRC Sec. 6011 regarding the filing of certain returns by exempt organizations, and 188.8.131.52 (01-01-2003) for possible fraudulent filing by exempt organizations for refusing to produce copies of returns or portions thereof for the reporting year 2002 and for fraudulent representations in the fling of returns for ther reporting years, 2001 and 2000.
I would request that the IRS conduct an investigation and, if the complaint is found justified, to levy such fines and assess such penalties against the organizations and responsible individuals as required by law, and, if appropriate, to revoke their tax exempt status and notify those who have made contributions to the organizations that such contributions are considered not tax deductible.
In support of this request, I offer the following:
1. On September 16, 2003, I submitted a formal written request to the Institute for Religion and Democracy for a copy of its return for the reporting year 2002, and despite the lapse of more than the 30 days permitted by law and regulation for disclosure, the IRD has refused and neglected to produce the return.;
2. On September 16, 2003, I submitted a formal written request to the American Anglican Council for a copy of its return for the reporting year 2002. The AAC produced only the basic return but refused and neglected to produce required schedules, including the schedule required by line 57a and b and Schedule 3 required by Part V(A);
3. In its return for the reporting year 2002, the AAC failed to disclose its relationship with IRD required by Lines 80a and 80b;
4. In its return for the reporting year 2001, the AAC failed to disclose its relationship with IRD required by Lines 80a and 80b;
5. In its return for the reporting year 2000, the AAC failed to disclose its relationship with IRD required by Lines 80a and 80b;
6. In its return for the reporting year 2001, the IRD failed to disclose its relationship with AAC required by Lines 80a and 80b, and
7. In its return for the reporting year 2000, the IRD failed to disclose its relationship with AAC required by Lines 80a and 80b.
With regard to Items 3 through 7, the organizations have common membership, thus requiring disclosure of their relationship on their returns. For example, Howard F. Ahmanson Jr., is a member and acknowledged contributor to both and his wife, Roberta Green Ahmanson is a member of the IRD board of directors. See, e.g., "Conservatives Funding Opposition, Priest Says," The Washington Post, October 24, 2003, page A03 [Exhibit B] and IRD Board of Directors [Exhibit B].
In addition, the Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and a member of the AAC's board of trustees, acknowledged the inter-relationship of the two organizations in a memorandum to other AAC board members on August 4, 2000, in which he noted "I think [IRD president] Diane Knippers' proposal for a consolidated (and allied) office is a good one." [Exhibit C]
Your prompt attention to this important matter would be appreciated.
/s/Jack H. Taylor Jr.
THANKS JACK FOR THE INFO!!!!
We were cautioned last night by a wise man that we should careful never to speak negatively about any person's beliefs, motives, intentions or actions. I must here and now dissent from a part of that very broad-brush pronouncement.
I absolutely agree that ad hominem attacks (criticism of a person rather than his or her argument or actions) is NEVER appropriate, EVEN THOUGH we all have been subject to rather extreme name-calling in the past few weeks (e.g., "heretics", "apostate").
Where I emphatically do not agree (and never will) with our learned advisor is that we should or must eschew comment, indeed severe criticism, of people's actions, whether speeches made, legislation propounded, processes misused or abused, or any other.
In my opinion, not only are we not obliged to withhold our critiques of verbal and other actions, but we are OBLIGATED to critique and, where warranted, condemn actions. Otherwise, we become complicit in any evil that is perpetrated by or arises from those actions.
SO.......I promise to be more vigilent in making sure that my comments on current events do not constitute ad hominem attacks or even stray unnecessarily into the negative. HOWEVER, I cannot and will not cease in my efforts to legitimately (and in a Christian manner) spread illumination about these issues of such terrible concern. I am called to do so by my love of God and my Church.
Question Re Alternative Episcopal Oversight
A friend and fellow traveler poses the following question:
Here's one thing I thought I understood but realize I don't understand: I'm with you on why we shouldn't seek alternative oversight and turn the diocese over to Duncan. But why
would he have to give up his post for alternative oversight to the real dissenters? The real dissenters here, all 9 gezillion of them, don't want alternative oversight. They want ...Bishop Duncan.
This question really illustrates the muddle into which we have been led by the "who's on first" nature of the fundamentalists' argument here in the Pittsburgh Diocese. It's relatively easy to keep track of the players and the score in those dioceses where the bishops and governing bodies (regardless of personal opinion) are determined to remain in ECUSA and to "play by the rules" of the national and diocesan church. There, the "dissenting minority" for whom the Primates have gone on record as desiring "adequate alternative episcopal oversight" is easily identified. Not so here.
First, go back to the exact words of the Primates' Statement:
"We have a particular concern for those who in all conscience feel bound to dissent from the teaching and practice of their province in such matters. . . . we call on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation withe the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates."
So, as provided in this part of the Primates' Statement, a "dissenting minority" is defined as those who "dissent from the teaching and practice of their province, NOT from the teaching and practice of their diocese. Accordingly, there clearly is a "dissenting minority" in this Diocese, i.e., the fundamentalists led by +D, because they have gone on formal record with their dissent from the actions of ECUSA/the GC.
However, the notion of "alternative episcopal oversight" by its very name requires an alternative to the oversight already provided. Which, in this case, is--as you point out--plays out in a nonscensical manner, since the the regular--as opposed to the alternative--"oversight" we have in this Diocese (+D) is among the dissenters.
Logic then brings one to the conclusion that +D, so long as he retains his office, cannot offer "alternative epsicopal oversight" to his followers here in this Diocese, even though pursuant to the terms of the Primates' Statement, they [NOTE: NOT those who desire continued unity] should be offered such oversight.
All of which illustrates the mess that is made when truth-telling is absent. All of the actions taken by the fundamentalist majority in this Diocese, and all of the speeches that have been made by +D and other AAC officials lead to only one conclusion--that they desire and are determined to create a new or an alternative church, complete with an alternative creedal basis. This conclusion stands regardless of whether they yet are willing to name that church and/or acknowledge the ramifications of their actions.
The Elusive Endnote to the Primates' Letter
The following word has been received from the archival voice of authority in our Diocese regarding the sometimes appearing endnote to the Primates' Letter:
"I know people have been wondering about the footnote that is in the ENS version of the primate's statement and not in the one from the Anglican Communion web site. The answer is simple:
The statement of the primates refers to actions taken at Lambeth in 1998. The footnote is simply explanatory and includes the actual text of resolution IV. 13. b from that meeting. ENS added it to give people the documentary background for the primates' reference. The whole of IV. 13 reads:
Unity within Provinces of the Anglican Communion
(a) notes with gratitude the ministry of support which the Archbishop of Canterbury has been able to give in Sudan and Rwanda,
and recognises that he is called upon to render assistance from time to time in a variety of situations; (b) in view of the very grave difficulties encountered in the internal
affairs of some Provinces of the Communion, invites the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint a Commission to make recommendations to the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, as to the exceptional circumstances and conditions under which, and the means by which, it
would be appropriate for him to exercise an extra-ordinary ministry of episcope (pastoral oversight), support and reconciliation with regard to the internal affairs of a Province other than his own for the sake of maintaining communion within the said Province and between the said Province and the rest of the Anglican Communion.'"
Thursday, October 23, 2003
Commend to you for your edification the address to the Diocesan Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem by Bishop Paul V. Marshall, entitled "I am Proud to be an Episcopalian." It can be found at: www.diobeth.org/Bishop/addresses9.html
AAC Information from Jack Taylor
The following excerpt may be of interest in understanding the American Anglican Council's long-term strategy regarding ‘Silver Bullets,’ driving wedges and taking the inertia away from ‘revisionists’ by restructuring the Anglican Communion. Feel free to redistribute to whomever you wish without the necessity of first asking my permission.
Jack H. Taylor Jr.
“IX. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS—NEW
“A. Recognizing that there are no ‘Silver Bullets; available today, the AAC can, however, offer the following MINISTRY and SUPPORT TO front Line Parishes.
“1. With the development of the Parish Classification, the AAC can…
“—Provide guidance for developing a Parish’s Strategic Plan so that they don’t make needless mistakes with their Diocesan [sic].
“--Have them contact the ANGLICAN LAWYER’S GUILD FOR RESOURCE INFORMATION FOR THEIR LOCAL COUNSEL…
“--Arrange to use specific Front Line Parishes to document the Revisionist’s activities within their Diocese and report/submit it to the AAC office as required.
“—Arrange for Canonically permitted visits b y AAC Bishops to help keep their feeling of connectedness with the greater Anglican Communion and to help keep their spirits up…
“—Recommend a Front Line Parish to First promise if they are extremely endangered in their Diocese or their attitude is such that they want to take advantage of a more aggressive action against their Diocese or the National Church. It should be noted that First Promise will only be able to help if there are enough Bishops willing to provide Episcopal oversight. Not all Parishes will survive—there will be casualties!…
“X. NEW IDEAS OR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME. As an example of this is the following excerpt from a letter from Troy Harris-Abbott to me dated December 2, 1998, as follows:
“I completely agree with you that there is no silver bullet that will solve our problems. As a long-term solution, however, I have been thinking about the following: Early in our nation’s history the Articles of Confederation produced chaos because each state was largely left to go its own way; the solution was not a revision of the Articles but the creation of the Constitution—an end-run around the problem, in effect. It seems to me that the Anglican Communion is in a state of chaos that is similar to what the United States experienced 200+ years ago, with each national province going its own way. I would propose a similar solution: a constitution for the Anglican Communion…
“ “The sort of constitution I have in mind would obligate every bishop, priest, and deacon in the Anglican Communion to declare his assent and consent to various principles. These [principles could be the 39 Articles, the Lambeth resolutions on sexuality, or something else but would, in any case, be designed to separate the sheep from the goats.
“The great advantage of such a plan is that it shifts both the terms of and the arena of the debate onto grounds more favorable to us. Perhaps more importantly, it makes the inertia of most Episcopalians work in our favor. The revisionists have been successful not because most rank-and-file Episcopalians agree with them but because most rank-and-file Episcopalians either do not care one way or the other what happens outside their parish or, if they do care, they do not care enough to fight about it. In other words, the revisionists have inertia on their side. By proposing a new (more favorable) structure for the Anglican Communion, we put the inertia to work for us because we merely ask people to stay right where they are. Moreover, such a proposal can be presented as a positive, forward-looking recognition of increasing globalization, etc., etc. Finally, the prospect that something like this might actually come to pass would doubtless swell the ranks of the fair-weather
orthodox, our of fear of being left behind. This, in turn, would help drive a wedge between the fair-weather orthodox and the hard-core revisionists.
“There is, of course, potential disadvantages as well. The Council of Primates may be unwilling or feel themselves unable to act… Most distressing, from the point of view of our committee’s charge is that a new constitution would not, of itself, provide any immediate relief to front-line parishes. Politics is the art of the possible, as the saying goes, and I do not know what is possible at this point. I simply offer the foregoing thoughts for what they may be worth.”
--Frank Trane, in a "Confidential Update and Progress Report of the Strategy Committee for Front Line Parishes for the January 1999 AAC Board Meeting," from a meeting on November 6, 1998, of an AAC committee including Trane, Bishop James M. Stanton, the Rev. Geoffrey Chapman, the Rev. Sandy Green, the Rev. John Donnelly and Troy Harris-Abbott.