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February 1, 2013


Breaking: Bishop of Mississippi Breaks Long-Time Promise, Allows Same-Sex Blessings

Developing…

Update: We are told the bishop will use his address to the annual council tonight at 8:00pm to announce that he will allow same-sex blessings under a plan similar to the one in the Diocese of Texas. Parishes wishing to perform same-sex blessings will need their vestries to pass a resolution, which the rector may present to the bishop, who will have the final decision.

Update: Here is the text of Bishop Gray’s letter to the diocese following the 2012 General Convention in Indianapolis, in which he states he does not intend to use the liturgy approved for same-sex blessings in the diocese.

Update: Gray acknowledges, and apologizes for, betraying certain people. This is a reference to the many priests to whom he’s given his word that he would never allow same-sex blessings in the diocese. Many of these priests have planned their lives and staked their futures on this promise, and on it defended the bishop against a chorus of criticisms over the years from their parishioners.


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43 comments

Well, can’t say that I’m shocked.

[1] Posted by Looking for Leaders on 2-1-2013 at 05:00 PM · [top]

“Well, after all, it’s all the rage, you know.  What’s that you say?  Scripture? ... Scripture?  This is the Episcopal Church.  What has Scripture got to do with it?”

[2] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 2-1-2013 at 05:20 PM · [top]

Now, now, #2. We all know that all they’re asking God to do is bless friendships. That’s all. Pals forever. You know, friendships like David and Jonathan. Or, like the Blessing of the Animals.

TEC has no doctrine saying that homosexual practice is OK. And, certainly, TEC defines marriage as between man and woman in its canons and in the BCP.

Sorry to read your news, Greg.

[3] Posted by Ralph on 2-1-2013 at 05:28 PM · [top]

To my knowledge, back in 2010 (?), the Diocese of Southern Ohio had one or two “blessings” the weekend after her purported bishop of the faith once delivered “legitimized” the practice.  I had expected a bigger turnout - you know, sort of how many real couples got married at noon on December 12 of last year. 

After all the angst - that was all they could do.  Like halitosis in a tornado.

[4] Posted by Elder Oyster on 2-1-2013 at 05:50 PM · [top]

Well, one doubts there are enough actual conservatives left in the diocese that the threat to leave would carry much weight.

[5] Posted by tjmcmahon on 2-1-2013 at 05:52 PM · [top]

You mean you cannot trust the word of a TEC bishop?  Color me shocked.

[6] Posted by Eastern Anglican on 2-1-2013 at 06:03 PM · [top]

Now I see the confusion: (from the bishop’s letter cited by Greg)

I do not intend to authorize this liturgy for use in Mississippi. However, I will be encouraging the study of the resource materials that are a companion to this liturgy. Other resources will also be suggested. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the use of such liturgies it is essential that our discussions are grounded in a theological, sacramental and pastoral context and not tied to the shrillness of our society’s current debate on this issue.

The bishop clearly indicates his intention, which is to say, his thinking as of the time he typed the word “not”.  However, after those discussions grounded in theological, sacramental and pastoral context, he decided that he intended to remove the word “not” from his intention, and “re-vision” the theological, sacramental and pastoral context into a context where he didn’t have to go to re-education camp with the few remaining bishops who have not re-visioned their intentions.

[7] Posted by tjmcmahon on 2-1-2013 at 06:25 PM · [top]

“Whether one agrees or disagrees with the use of such liturgies it is essential that our discussions are grounded in a theological, sacramental and pastoral context and not tied to the shrillness of our society’s current debate on this issue.”

That would be a first in TEc, to consider theology.  All the rage is pastoral and cultural contexts and Scripture, Tradition and Reason be damned!

I’m not holding my breath, however, for any real theology.  Bet he lapses back on “To Set Our Hope” on emotive loudmouthed “thinking” instead.

NOTE that the alleged “theology” of “To Set Our Hope” was justly ignored at Windsor ... as were the moratoria, except in this case, justifiably.

[8] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 2-1-2013 at 07:00 PM · [top]

TJ,

Yes, good catch on the grammatical loophole, but in his letter to the diocese in October 2003, he laid out a list of things “we can expect of him,” one of which was a pledge that as long as he was bishop, he would not authorize same-sex blessings in the diocese.

I’m looking for the letter now. Anybody who has it, please forward to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

[9] Posted by Greg Griffith on 2-1-2013 at 07:04 PM · [top]

Greg,
I really should apologize, as I know the current circumstance is very painful for the remaining actual Episcopalians within TEC.  Prayers are more in order than the cynicism of #7, and you and everyone in Mississippi will have mine.

[10] Posted by tjmcmahon on 2-1-2013 at 08:12 PM · [top]

xSchori got to him!

[11] Posted by Nikolaus on 2-1-2013 at 08:26 PM · [top]

Sad news. “Breaking” indeed. Awaiting the same thing to break in Upper SC as the so called “task force for unity” falls to pieces.

[12] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 2-1-2013 at 08:28 PM · [top]

TJ,

No apology necessary. It’s painful, but who can say they’re shocked? And gallows humor has worked for us this far, so why stop now?

[13] Posted by Greg Griffith on 2-1-2013 at 10:59 PM · [top]

Well, if he can get cracking and get all the other sins blessed, he might have a growth thing for his club.  I can see the long line out there waiting.  Hope he doesn’t try to pick and choose various sins to bless.  Equal access for all, and justice, I say.

[14] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 2-1-2013 at 11:39 PM · [top]

I wasn’t present at his address, but it is my understanding that this is indeed the case.  Apparently, he is trying to organize an orderly transition upon his retirement and did not want the election for his successor to be about this issue. 

It has been several years, but if my memory serves, in the Jan 2004 diocesan convention address he set out the parameters for the right and the left—no parishes join the Network and no same sex blessings.

We on the right honored the parameters.  No parishes joined the Network.  Indeed, no parishes joined AMiA, ACNA, or (I think, after the 2004 address) even the AAC.  Individuals have joined, but no parishes.

I predict that the diocese will lose members, how many I cannot say. In a small church, it doesn’t take the loss of many to tip the budget.  It is possible that some parishes may no longer afford their full-time priest.  I also predict that a few parishes will be turned into a battleground. 

Notwithstanding his plans, I predict that same sex blessings will be an issue in the election of his successor.

[15] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 2-2-2013 at 06:21 AM · [top]

Why am I soooo not surprised? A TEC bishop makes a promise one year and then several years later back paddles and does exactly what he said he would not. Sigh. The march of heresy in TEC continues.

[16] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 2-2-2013 at 08:06 AM · [top]

How very sad for all of you in Mississippi.  And how very sad for a bishop to betray his people at the end of his tenure.

[17] Posted by Katherine on 2-2-2013 at 08:13 AM · [top]

The archive I found on 2003 letters from many bishops
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/969856/posts
pointed to Gray’s webpage on the diocesan site.  Of course, it was not to be found there today.
All of the links on that page that I tried were dead- 10 years is a long time, and since most of the bishops on that list are deposed, retired or turned their backs on their promises, if conservative, the revisionists who promised not to rest until gay bishops and gay marriage were accepted in every diocese in TEC have certainly kept theirs.

[18] Posted by tjmcmahon on 2-2-2013 at 08:56 AM · [top]

Can you hear the footsteps Upper South Carolina?

How long do you think Waldo will hold out?  He’s been trying to finagle SSMs/SSBs into the diocese the past few years.  There’s NO WAY he’s going to one of the knuckle-dragging hold-outs at the next GC.

[19] Posted by Bill2 on 2-2-2013 at 09:00 AM · [top]

I truly feel bad for my friends in the Dio MS.  Especially those I sat at table with as we took comfort that at least Bp. Gray would not do this in the diocese.  Like Greg said, many have kept faith with the Bp. for a lot of years.

What do you do when you finally find out that the Shepherd has indeed left the gate open and the wolves are in amongst your sheep?

[20] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 2-2-2013 at 09:00 AM · [top]

Note that Gray did vote for B001 in 2003.  Of course, it was voted down, given that by 2003, the majority of TEC bishops no longer believed what it said.  Gray has now obviously also abandoned the positions of the resolution.
-
Doctrine: Endorse Certain Historic Anglican Doctrines and Policies.

Proposer: The Rt. Rev. Keith L. Ackerman (Quincy)

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That this 74th General Convention
affirms that “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so
that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be
required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be
thought requisite or necessary to salvation,” as set forth in Article VI of
the Articles of Religion established by the General Convention on September 12,
1801; and be it further

Resolved, That this 74th General Convention re-affirms that “it is not lawful
for the Church to ordain [that is, establish or enact] any thing that is
contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture,
that it be repugnant to another,” as set forth in Article XX of the Articles
of Religion established by the General Convention on September 12, 1801; and be
it further

Resolved, That this 74th General Convention affirms that every member of this
Church is conscience-bound first of all to obey the teaching and direction of
Our Lord Jesus Christ as set forth in Holy Scripture in any matter where a
decision or action of this Church, or this General Convention, may depart from
that teaching; and be it further

Resolved, That this 74th General Convention re-affirms that the statements
known as the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilaterial of 1886, 1888, as set forth in the
Book of Common Prayer, 1979 continue to be true and accurate statements of the
faith and policy of this Church, and the Anglican Communion; and be it further

Resolved, That this 74th General Convention affirms that councils of the
Church have, and sometimes will, err but that Our Lord Jesus Christ, present
through the person of the Holy Spirit, can and will correct such error; and be it
further

Resolved, That this 74th General Convention directs the Office of the
Presiding Bishop to forward a copy of this resolution to every Diocese within the
Episcopal Church.

[21] Posted by tjmcmahon on 2-2-2013 at 09:09 AM · [top]

I’d also speculate that DioUSC is next.

These bishops must be under a lot of pressure to cave in. I wonder what will happen to the hold-outs.

What’s different in DioUSC is that there could be an option for conservative parishes (if there are any) and individuals to break away from TEC and affiliate in some way with ACNA or DioSC.

[22] Posted by Ralph on 2-2-2013 at 09:56 AM · [top]

Upper South Carolina, or Central Florida.  Or anyplace with a bishop on “amicus” list.

[23] Posted by Katherine on 2-2-2013 at 10:29 AM · [top]

“Resistance is futile, you will be conciliated”
That the chief “theologian” of TEC is named Borg may not be a coincidence after all.

[24] Posted by tjmcmahon on 2-2-2013 at 11:21 AM · [top]

Ralph,
ACNA is already a presence in the upper diocese. While I, too, have thought about the Diocese of SC becoming state wide again, I doubt it given that enough confusion exists among the various dioceses here. 

Sadly, yes next in line will be either Diocese of Upper South Carolina or Central Florida. Which bishop will cave into the revisionist agenda first is not something I want to contemplate? Either cave or leave. Those are the choices for those left in TEC.

[25] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 2-2-2013 at 11:28 AM · [top]

“I wonder what will happen to the hold-outs.”

I don’t wonder.

Most of the real hold outs (as opposed to the “I am in favor personally, but my diocese just isn’t ready” bishops ala Waldo) are already under discipline via conciliation.  Little in N Indiana caved, he just has his gay couples and clergy take the South Shore train to Chicago or drive to Indy or Benton Harbor, so that he can maintain the pretense.  There are a few other hold outs due to retire in a couple years, or in places so remote that TEC doesn’t know where to send the acceptance of renunciation.

Ask +Bena, +Cox, +Schofield, +Iker, +Ackerman, +Scriven, +Fairfield, +Kelshaw, +Bane, +McBurney, +Duncan, +Wantland, and +Lawrence. (and I do beg forgiveness of any bishop I omitted who should be on the list)  They can tell you what happens to anyone who doesn’t cave.

[26] Posted by tjmcmahon on 2-2-2013 at 11:46 AM · [top]

Will be interesting in all these dioceses to see how many of the rectors, who have been promising their parishioners since 2003 or earlier that if the diocese ever sanctioned SSBs, they would be leaving with or without the property, keep their word.  Or, whether the bishops use the diocese of Florida method, make a list of all clergy opposed to the bishop’s plans, and just depose all of them.

[27] Posted by tjmcmahon on 2-2-2013 at 11:50 AM · [top]

If you are a newbie Anglican, and don’t know about Florida (a diocese that didn’t leave, let me note) see pages 13 and 14 here:
http://www.americananglican.org/assets/Resources/TEC-Canonical-Abuses.pdf
You can also read up on all the deposed bishops.

[28] Posted by tjmcmahon on 2-2-2013 at 11:52 AM · [top]

This news is sad but not surprising. One has to winder how long it will be before SSB’s and SSM’s are churchwide policy.

[29] Posted by the virginian on 2-2-2013 at 12:09 PM · [top]

That should be wonder, not “winder.” Obviously I’m not the world’s greatest typist.

[30] Posted by the virginian on 2-2-2013 at 12:10 PM · [top]

29- Given that they officially adopted a rite at the last GC, they are churchwide policy.

[31] Posted by tjmcmahon on 2-2-2013 at 01:02 PM · [top]

Solid work, driver8! Hard to believe this was only 10 years ago.

“The norm for ordination will be a person living a single, celibate life or in a heterosexual marriage.  Nor will I authorize the blessing of same gender unions.”

“The Liar”
William Blake

Deceiver, dissembler
Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows
Shall they dangle in the night?

When I asked of your career
Why did you have to kick my rear
With that stinking lie of thine
Proclaiming that you owned a mine?

When you asked to borrow my stallion
To visit a nearby-moored galleon
How could I ever know that you
Intended only to turn him into glue?

What red devil of mendacity
Grips your soul with such tenacity?
Will one you cruelly shower with lies
Put a pistol ball between your eyes?

What infernal serpent
Has lent you his forked tongue?
From what pit of foul deceit
Are all these whoppers sprung?

Deceiver, dissembler
Your trousers are alight
From what pole or gallows
Do they dangle in the night?

[33] Posted by Ralph on 2-2-2013 at 05:20 PM · [top]

Good find, driver8.  Bishop Gray, 2003:

The norm for ordination will be a person living a single, celibate life or in a heterosexual marriage.  Nor will I authorize the blessing of same gender unions.  This is a profound liturgical and sacramental issue for me and should not be confused with my baptismal commitment “to respect the dignity of every human being.”

[34] Posted by Katherine on 2-2-2013 at 05:23 PM · [top]

USC will be next.  Waldo wants to do SSBs/SSMs.  He wanted it in Minnesota.  He’s just biding his time.

I’m not sure I’d call him a liar, because I don’t know/remember what he told the good folks in USC.  He would be what they call a “moderate” in Minnesota, which is a liberal in slow motion.

[35] Posted by Bill2 on 2-2-2013 at 05:46 PM · [top]

Awesome work Driver in finding the archived letter.  Fascinating to re-read it now nearly 10 years later.

In hindsight, this line from +Duncan’s letter 10 years ago may have been a warning sign to indicate how he has now changed his position and broken his promise:

My own in-depth reading of scripture does not find the condemnation of homosexuality that others see.  However, neither do I see same gender relationships affirmed or blessed in ways that are now being discussed.

Failure to accept or believe that homosexuality, (or more clearly homosexual acts), is condemned in Scripture does not give a very solid foundation to resist the pressure of the gay lobby.  We’ve seen time and time again those that merely resisted homosexual practice out of reverance for “tradition” (note the lower case t) quickly caved to all the pressure and constant “listening process.” 

So sad.

[36] Posted by Karen B. on 2-2-2013 at 05:55 PM · [top]

Don’t be so hard on Gray.  He is just trying to keep his job.

[37] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 2-2-2013 at 09:33 PM · [top]

driver8 knows I love him… and his screen name wink

[38] Posted by Greg Griffith on 2-2-2013 at 09:44 PM · [top]

Excellent research work, Driver8. Wow. That letter is pretty clear about his plans and actions and now to see how Bishop Gray has come around to the liberal agenda. Stunning difference. I certainly understand the betrayal felt by some parishes and rectors. Such sad day for many in the Diocese of Mississippi. Any wonder why so many don’t trust what TEC bishops say. They are so prone to changing their minds to the secular truth of the day.

[39] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 2-3-2013 at 07:55 AM · [top]

The DioAla convention is this month.  Wonder if Bp. Sloan is about to take the same step in spite of previous statements (I won’t say “promises”) to the contrary.

[40] Posted by Geosez on 2-3-2013 at 01:01 PM · [top]

Geosez, Hopefully not but quite possibly. It seems to be the theology of the day to cave into the revisionist agenda.

[41] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 2-3-2013 at 05:14 PM · [top]

Well, good people,

Color me and Linda LCMS!  Started yesterday after realizing that there was no place for me in TEo, and ministry as an Anglican priest has ‘fizzled’ after my ordaining authority dissolved.

Prayers are with the few faithful Episcopalians, lay and clergy, especially in MS, CENTFLA, and E Tenn.

Kyrie, eleison.
Chip+

[42] Posted by Fr. Chip, SF on 2-4-2013 at 10:23 AM · [top]

“This is a profound liturgical and sacramental issue for me and should not be confused with…”

...ummm, well, his actions certainly won’t be confused with defending the faith, keeping his vows, honesty, integrity, conviction, honor,...

But I think I understand. 

He has issues, but not those other things.

rolleyes

[43] Posted by tired on 2-5-2013 at 10:18 AM · [top]

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