March 23, 2017

July 13, 2010


21 Lessons Learned during the Lawsuit

The 21 items below represent some of the lessons I’ve earned over the past two years of legal turmoil; the fruit of failures, idiotic mistakes, and successes. It is written from a pastor’s perspective and it is intended to help pastors who face or who are preparing to face similar circumstances. It is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it’s a start. I think I probably learned more in the last two years about leadership in the church than I could have learned in ten years of peaceful service.

1. While in negotiations, before a lawsuit is filed, always be sure to document, in writing and in detail, the discussion and any decisions taken at every meeting with your bishop or members of the diocesan standing committee. Send copies to each of your allies present in the meeting. Have them print it out, date it, and sign it. Send a signed copy to the bishop and standing committee. These may or may not help you when and if the diocese sues, but they will almost always come in handy with the press.

2. Avoid meeting with the bishop or any diocesan representative(s) alone.

3. Never offer information about your financial stability, assets, or property.

4. Retain an attorney familiar with church property disputes now…today. Even if your negotiations end amicably, you will need an attorney to help you work out the details of any agreement. And if the diocese turns to litigation, you will not need to rush about looking for a lawyer. You can focus all of your energy on leading.

5. When/if a suit is filed, tell your people early and often that the lawsuit may very well end in defeat. Your task is to prepare everyone mentally, spiritually, and practically to lose all of the assets and the church buildings.

6. Tell your people that every check written today will, if you lose, end up in diocesan coffers tomorrow. They need to know this so that they will be able to make free and informed choices with their money.

7. Tell your people that any bequests or memorials or donated items (if given to the church or bought by the church with money parishioners have given) will, if you lose, belong to the diocese.

8. Should you have a “spirit filled” person on the vestry who argues that strategic planning for various eventualities, including defeat, is faithless; that Christians should trust God and expect and plan only for victory, do not listen. You will be very sorry if you do. Trust God to provide everything that you need every step of the way and recognize that his grace often operates in and through the careful deliberation and planning of the leaders he has appointed.

9. Be careful for spies in your congregation. If you have a parishioner who is angry and disgruntled and yet for some inexplicable reason continues to attend services and meetings—especially if said parishioner suddenly stops complaining—beware. Do not say anything in public that you do not want the diocese to know.

10. If you suspect a diocesan spy on your vestry, say nothing you do not want the diocese to know. Be nice. Make no accusations. Do some careful investigating. If the evidence shows your suspicions to be correct, decide whether it is best to expose him/her publicly or turn the situation to your advantage. Spies can be very helpful if given the right kind of information. If you choose to expose the spy, be sure you have the evidence nailed down. Say nothing until you do.

11. If you are a blogger or writer and your lawyer lets you, keep blogging and writing. This will expose the diocesan actions to the light of public scrutiny. Be sure to pass everything you publish through your attorney beforehand.

12. Blogging also inevitably opens the door for much needed spiritual and material support from sympathetic readers locally and around the world. Let your congregation know about any kind of support you receive. You will be surprised at the boost in morale such news produces.

13. Make friends with the religion reporter or whoever your local paper assigns to follow the story. Always answer the phone. Always call back. Always have something to say both on the record and off. Always speak well of your opponents. Never say “no comment”. Never refuse to answer your phone. Never let them hear you whine, complain or attack the diocese. Let the diocesan press stooge play the role of the offended, entitled, bitter, angry, and intolerant authority figure. And trust me, he/she will.

14. If you do not have an email list including all of your parishioners, establish one and use it at least weekly to send parish news and updates. The updates should include a small section or a paragraph about the lawsuit—letting people know of any new developments—but the overwhelming bulk of the update should be taken up with parish news. A weekly line of communication will be vital in maintaining a sense of community continuity and cohesion should you lose your property.

15. When there is good or bad news to pass on, be honest. Do not candy-coat losses or play down victories. Blast the news of wins to the sky. Stalwartly acknowledge and mourn losses.

16. Never express bitterness or resentment toward the judge, the diocese, the bishop or anyone else to the congregation.  Resentment spreads like gangrene and the last thing you need when everything is all over, is a bitter, angry congregation. That’s the quickest way to die.  Here’s the attitude I wanted my people to have: “God has entrusted us with this time of struggle and sacrifice. We must glorify him by forgiving and loving those who persecute us. This is not a tragedy it is an honor and a privilege to be called to lose everything so that we may walk with Jesus in his way.” I preached that, taught it, and counselled it. Resentment, while present, has not been a major problem.

17. Aside from the lawsuit news paragraph you set aside in your weekly updates and announcements, select trusted, mature, experienced, faithful lay leaders to handle most of the communication about the lawsuit.

18. Be the pastor. Your people will want to know that you are focused on being their pastor not obsessed by a legal fight. If you are freaking out, do so in private. Pray, talk to your wife, talk to your bishop, do what you need to do to be okay, but don’t pass your anxiety on to your people. Do your job. Preach, teach, lead bible studies, do your visits, make your calls. Don’t check out.

19. Expect internal disputes. Your congregation is going to go through a great deal of anxiety driven by the fear of an unknown future, the compulsion to cling to what is, and a kind of anticipatory mourning for the loss that could come. This anxiety will come to the surface in various forms of 1. anger 2. recrimination 3. gossip 4. denial 5. discouragement 6. attempts to create factions. The anger and recrimination will most often be directed toward you and the vestry. That’s just naturally what some people do when they are afraid or anxious. Consider the criticism soberly but don’t take it personally. Even if you were to make all the right decisions, which you won’t, the emotional state of the congregation would be the same.  Recognize the underlying anxiety and don’t be afraid to name it publicly.

20. Don’t be timid. Once you leave the Episcopal Church, you take your future in your hands. There is no more safety net. If your congregation folds, you will be out of a job with little or no prospect for future church employment. With that reality looming over your head, you could be tempted to shrink back in the face of your people—to remain quiet about corporate sin, to pander, to refuse to confront, to close your eyes to thing that in normal circumstances you would call out. Don’t do that. Your congregation is not your master. God is. Your future is in God’s hands and you must not forget that God has called you to be his representative to your people and that call stands. Fear God not the congregation or anyone in it.

21. Meet defeat or victory with grace. If you lose, express gratitude for the judge and the judicial system, gratitude for your attorneys, gratitude for the opportunity to lose everything for the sake of the gospel. If you win, express the very same sentiments.


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91 comments

Matt, this is superb. #8 especially needs to be chanted like a mantra by every priest with even the slightest possibility of facing what you faced.

[1] Posted by Greg Griffith on 7-13-2010 at 09:50 AM · [top]

Superb. Too bad we can’t send this to everyone all across North America and start over.
On second thought, not (doing it again, that is) wink

[2] Posted by Toral1 on 7-13-2010 at 10:08 AM · [top]

This is wonderful—my fave is #6.

I think you missed one, though, Matt.

One key principle is that committed TEC liberals are consistent and all-encompassing liars.  It’s what they do so much so that it’s also “who they are.”  They can’t help themselves, and they just lie over and over and over, even when the lies are discoverable and demonstrable and publicized. 

Therefore, one should never begin a strategic sentence with the words “but he said” . . .

That’s not the way one plans.  “But the bishop said” or “but the Canon said” or “but [insert any TEC revisionist activist’s name here] said” is just fooling oneself and confusing counsel.  The idea that revisionist activists in TEC are telling the truth at any time—and I do mean at any time—is a distraction from planning and strategizing.

[3] Posted by Sarah on 7-13-2010 at 10:17 AM · [top]

I agree with Greg (#1).  This is a very practical list of suggestions.  Those who ignore these tips do so at their own peril.

David Handy+

[4] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 7-13-2010 at 10:19 AM · [top]

#6 Also be sure to have someone in mind who knows what to do and say to parisioners who no longer wish to support the revisionist Diocese.  Have a plan on the back burner and someone capable of administering the plan.
#18 We never knew. ;0)
#19 You had it under control.
#21 That was hard.
So glad that it is over and we have light hearts to worship Jesus wholeheartedly without looking over our shoulders.  Thank you, Fr. Matt.    C…..

[5] Posted by Just a Parishioner on 7-13-2010 at 01:25 PM · [top]

On the practical side, I suggest the following:

When anyone in the parish buys items such as hymnals, sheet music, prayer books, candlesticks, crosses, chalices, or other items for service use, make absolutely certain that they are not marked with the name of the parish, because that way, TEC will not be able to prove ownership of these items, should they prevail in a lawsuit, and the people who are forced from the property will have the means to start over in a new location without having to buy replacments.  The same should apply to office equipment and, believe it or not, table linens and vestments for clergy and choir.

[6] Posted by Cennydd10 on 7-13-2010 at 01:45 PM · [top]

I really like #16. When my church was literally stolen by Bp Lamb and his cohorts, a wonderful, prayerful, lady asked me: “How does it feel to be accused of being a Christian?” That, I believe, is the highest honor I have ever been given.
desert padre

[7] Posted by desertpadre on 7-13-2010 at 01:50 PM · [top]

My parish has been in litigation for almost six years now, and we have learned many of these lessons. However, there is another that I don’t see mentioned here, and it needs to be repeated often to the congregation, especially if the litigation is protracted. While money and things donated before the decision to leave may belong to the diocese eventually, donations made after the separation date become the parish’s once again. We went through a period of reduced giving that caused unnecessary budgetary problems. Many in the congregation didn’t understand and stopped giving because they thought it would all go to the diocese.

[8] Posted by Sue Martinez on 7-13-2010 at 05:39 PM · [top]

Hi Sue, that is not always true. It was not in our case. The diocese claimed ownership of the corporation. We claimed the same. So any and all monies donated even after the break would be the property of the victorious party. Hence my number 6.

[9] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 7-13-2010 at 08:49 PM · [top]

Yes, Matt, I do understand that your case was different, but it’s important for the leaders to make the fiscal situation very clear, no matter what it is. Otherwise, checkbooks may needlessly stay closed. In our case, the bank accounts were frozen, so we had to start anew and giving dropped when we most needed money.

We have an agreement with the diocese that if we need to dip into the trust funds to make emergency repairs, we’ll get permission. (We did this when our nursery walls were found to have toxic mold.) We do feel that we have an obligation to maintain the property as best we can while everything is being sorted out by the lawyers and judges. An inventory was done to determine what is personal property and what belongs to the parish. Every last purificator was counted, but when we needed more, they were “lent” by the donor and will go with us, as will new vestments that are the personal property of our clergy.

“Leaving home” is turning into a very long goodbye and is painful in its own way. Every Sunday, I see the needlepoint kneeler I made many years ago, and I know I will have a hard time letting it go.  Things like that—although I keep telling myself that they are just things.

[10] Posted by Sue Martinez on 7-13-2010 at 10:46 PM · [top]

Being a “spirit-filled” person, I’m sorry that your experience with the person you are alluding to was a poor one.  But even though I am “spirit-filled”, I would tell you to plan for the worst and hope for the best.  I think we all need to have a plan for the worst.  While certain conservative dioceses including my own think we are an island, we could come under attack as Matt’s church did, and quickly.  I have a deep faith that God protects and has many a miracle ready to go, but sometimes He does say “wait” and “no” for reasons He may not share with us at the time.

May God continue to bless you on your adventure!

[11] Posted by The Lakeland Two on 7-13-2010 at 11:04 PM · [top]

Sue and Matt+, this is why I said what I did in my previous post.  There is no point in taking chances with what properly belongs to the parish, and that’s why it’s so important to take precautionary measures.  I convinced my fellow bishop’s committee members not to put our church’s name on anything new bought by or donated to us, in order to ensure that we will be able to keep and use it should we ever be forced to leave our property.  It’s the smart thing to do.

[12] Posted by cennydd13 on 7-13-2010 at 11:06 PM · [top]

Hi Sue,
oh, checkbooks did not stay “closed”...trust me…I think you are missing what 6 enables people to do in situations where the diocese is not so gracious as yours.

cennydd13…I think we are speaking about very different things. 6 is about the assets not the real property.

[13] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 7-14-2010 at 04:00 AM · [top]

Hi Lakeland Two,

I was not speaking of anyone in my parish but someone else.  And I definitely know that the attitude above does not represent the attitude of all charismatic Christians.

[14] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 7-14-2010 at 06:13 AM · [top]

Matt+,
Didn’t assume it was in your parish, but still sad you encountered it at all.  As well as the spy.  I’ve seen the same thing here in Central Florida and it just makes you wonder who are these people and how can they have such a different view of God.  And be so deceptive.  This isn’t what God wants. 

Any thing, allbeit small in our circumstances, that we do even here in our “safe” island, is given to the priest or with the knowledge it more than likely will be lost to the battle in the long run.  The use in current time is the gift and priviledge.

[15] Posted by The Lakeland Two on 7-14-2010 at 10:42 AM · [top]

On the practical side, I suggest the following:
When anyone in the parish buys items such as hymnals, sheet music, prayer books, candlesticks, crosses, chalices, or other items for service use, make absolutely certain that they are not marked with the name of the parish, because that way, TEC will not be able to prove ownership of these items, should they prevail in a lawsuit, and the people who are forced from the property will have the means to start over in a new location without having to buy replacments.  The same should apply to office equipment and, believe it or not, table linens and vestments for clergy and choir.

I think you need to take that a step even further.  If any items are given for the use of church while the dispute is ongoing, perhaps there should be a written record documenting that the property still belongs to the parishioner that is loaning, not donating, the items, and can take the items back at any time.

[16] Posted by AndrewA on 7-14-2010 at 12:09 PM · [top]

I suppose one could come up with some type of “guild” or something which is separate from the church, and clearly states so in its own constitution, which has as its goals “serving local churches.”  Vestments, chalices, items of furniture, etc., could be marked as belonging to this guild.  You could collect the offering for the parish with teacup saucers and then do a second offering with standard-size offering plates for the guild.

[17] Posted by Wilf on 7-14-2010 at 12:46 PM · [top]

Speaking of which, I suppose the guild could even rent items to the parish - providing of course the rental fee is always fair compared to other rental services.

[18] Posted by Wilf on 7-14-2010 at 12:49 PM · [top]

Items can also be “loaned” to the church…take your tax exemtion somewhere else.
Frances Scott

[19] Posted by Frances S Scott on 7-14-2010 at 01:18 PM · [top]

Yes, it came to pass at Good Shepherd that some enterprising parishioners contacted an independent 501c3 named St. Matthias which is dedicated to helping congregations in dire legal straights. These parishioners then started a campaign among their fellow congregants to raise money for St. Matthias—a completely and totally distinct non-profit—and just about every single one of my parishioners sent checks there rather than to GS.

After the lawsuit the board of St. Matthias, in an overwhelmingly generous move, voted to cut the new Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd a check for the exact amount our parishioners had donated as a free gift.

I have heard of parishioners from other churches starting their own utterly independent and completely distinct—with no official cooperation from the vestry or rector—501c3 for similar purposes.

Prior to the lawsuit, St. Matthias also bought a number of items and lent them to us for our use—an industrial sized refrigerator for the Shepherd’s bowl, an organ, a dish washer…things that they continue to lend to us to this day.

[20] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 7-14-2010 at 02:14 PM · [top]

Fr. Matt,

I cannot thank you enough for collating and sharing this hard-earned wisdom with all of us.  Perhaps your “minefield” experience will save many others from tripping those same booby-traps.

And like many others, I found #8 especially profound.  The Lord has taught me MUCH more in my 49 years through failure than He ever did through success.

God Bless….mrb

[21] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 7-14-2010 at 09:41 PM · [top]

Wow, this is awesome. Thank you

[22] Posted by MichaelA on 7-14-2010 at 10:01 PM · [top]

16.  Excellent idea, AndrewA!  I wonder why I didn’t think of it?

[23] Posted by cennydd13 on 7-14-2010 at 10:21 PM · [top]

Fr. Matt’s # 16

  Oh I get it now…You’re saying that when on Sundays in congregational corporate prayer when we come to the part about blessing the Presiding Bishop, I shouldn’t intone
“with a brick”,  in a stage whisper from my strategic position in the gallery.

[24] Posted by anglicanlutenist on 7-16-2010 at 10:38 PM · [top]

And Matt+, yes, I was indeed speaking about real property.  I’d include everything that isn’t nailed down, including the pews.

[25] Posted by cennydd13 on 7-16-2010 at 10:44 PM · [top]

Outstanding words of wisdom from one who has been there!

I couldnt help but notice point number ‘8’. My mind immediately focused on a good Biblical illustration of this principle.

In Numbers chapter 10, we see the Israelites traversing the wilderness after the exodus. They certainly had no shortage of guidence directly from the LORD! They had Moses in direct, intimate communication with YHWH, and the cloud of Gods’ presence alternately resting upon/lifting off from the tabernacle to direct the movements of the people.

Yet even with this unprecedented, specific guidence from God, we read the following in Numbers 10:29-32: “Then Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out to the place of which the LORD said, ‘I will give it to you’; come with us and we will do you good, for the LORD has promised good concerning Israel.”
But he said to him, “I will not come, but rather will go to my own land and relatives.”
Then he said, “Please do not leave us, inasmuch as you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will be as eyes for us.
“So it will be, if you go with us, that whatever good the LORD does for us, we will do for you.”

While it was (and is) essential to have Gods’ leading from heaven, it sure never hurts to have a good set of eyes on the ground as well.

[26] Posted by GSP98 on 7-19-2010 at 11:20 AM · [top]

Thanks sir for being a man after God’s own heart.  By living out His Word and teachings you do more to spread the gospel than anything you could ever say.

[27] Posted by B. Hunter on 7-23-2010 at 03:56 PM · [top]

9. Be careful for spies in your congregation. If you have a parishioner who is angry and disgruntled and yet for some inexplicable reason continues to attend services and meetings—especially if said parishioner suddenly stops complaining—beware. Do not say anything in public that you do not want the diocese to know.

10. If you suspect a diocesan spy on your vestry, say nothing you do not want the diocese to know. Be nice. Make no accusations. Do some careful investigating. If the evidence shows your suspicions to be correct, decide whether it is best to expose him/her publicly or turn the situation to your advantage. Spies can be very helpful if given the right kind of information. If you choose to expose the spy, be sure you have the evidence nailed down. Say nothing until you do.

When you use the term “spy,” you don’t appear to mean someone who represents himself or herself as supportive when in fact they are not, but someone who was angry but has stopped complaining and still attends services. Since the whole point of the Good Shepherd suit was the integrity of the parish corporation re. the Diocese, then surely the sentiments of all who had been participating members deserve both consideration and a degree of honesty, whatever the legal cost might be? How might it be “inexplicable” for them to continue to worship while “angry?” Conservatives have been doing that for years.     

I can imagine the outrage on this board if conservatives in a parish working along the lines Sarah has suggested in the past were denoted by the dominant liberal group as ACNA “spies” from whom relevant information should be kept, since they would only misuse it to cause trouble. It would be an abuse worthy of condemnation; the trouble is that the other would be also.

[28] Posted by Jeremy Bonner on 7-24-2010 at 10:17 AM · [top]

Hi Jeremy Bonner:

“When you use the term “spy,” you don’t appear to mean someone who represents himself or herself as supportive when in fact they are not, but someone who was angry but has stopped complaining and still attends services.”

Neither.

My warning was to “beware” or be “cautious” of someone who suddenly goes “quiet” because he/she may be actively feeding information to the diocese—giving aid to those who seek to steal and destroy. I wrote from experience.

“Since the whole point of the Good Shepherd suit was the integrity of the parish corporation re. the Diocese, then surely the sentiments of all who had been participating members deserve both consideration and a degree of honesty, whatever the legal cost might be?”

Not if the “participating members” are also spying for the diocese, serving heretics in the process of destroying an orthodox parish. In such case, exposure and/or, without repentance, expulsion is in order.

“How might it be “inexplicable” for them to continue to worship while “angry?” Conservatives have been doing that for years. “

I have no idea what you mean. I have no problem with angry people in my congregation, quiet or not. I have learned to be wary when outspoken angry people, close to the diocese, suddenly stop talking in the middle of a lawsuit.

“I can imagine the outrage on this board if conservatives in a parish working along the lines Sarah has suggested in the past were denoted by the dominant liberal group as ACNA “spies” from whom relevant information should be kept, since they would only misuse it to cause trouble.”

If in fact the ACNA were to sue an orthodox TEC parish and said parishioners were feeding the ACNA lawyers information, then I would most certainly be outraged…outraged at the ACNA and the traitorous parishioner.

[29] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 7-24-2010 at 12:13 PM · [top]

Matt,

I remember a couple of years before Pittsburgh’s realignment the diocesan council opted one year not to recommend certain proposed resolutions (mostly from liberal parishes) to a vote because it knew they would be defeated and debate would be divisive. At the time it seemed fair enough, but I imagine that we would not take kindly to a similar rationale being employed to prevent the presentation of a resolution upholding orthodoxy in an overwhelmingly reappraising diocese, particularly since this is the only way an orthodox position can be voiced publicly.         

I suppose I was really asking how you defined “spying.” When a conservative parish/diocese decides to keep things under wraps for legal or other reasons then this action seems to acquire a legitimacy that similar actions on the part of a liberal parish/diocese do not.
I suppose one can postulate this as an “error has no rights” issue, but the theological basis of realignment and the theological basis for the court battles are not identical.

[30] Posted by Jeremy Bonner on 7-24-2010 at 12:52 PM · [top]

Hi Jeremy Bonner,

Your first paragraph seems irrelevant. I’m trying to figure out what the circumstance you describe has to do with the circumstance I described. Could you help me out here?

“I suppose I was really asking how you defined “spying.” When a conservative parish/diocese decides to keep things under wraps for legal or other reasons then this action seems to acquire a legitimacy that similar actions on the part of a liberal parish/diocese do not.”

Not really. I think this goes to the definition of the sort of struggle we are in. I think so called “liberal parishes” are promoting a doctrine that originates in hell. Those who preach it are heretics and those who follow it are deceived. We are in the middle of a war for souls that has spilled over into a war for territory (property). I fully expect that “liberal” dioceses 1. keep information from going public 2. develop and use informants or spies on vestries and in orthodox parishes…and vice versa. Those practices do not bother me. That’s what you do in war.

At the same time no one should expect a heretical parish/diocese to simply let an orthodox spy be a spy and nor should anyone expect such of an orthodox parish. 

“I suppose one can postulate this as an “error has no rights” issue”

Again, I am having a hard time understanding what you mean. If a member is actively undermining your parish by giving information to your enemies that your enemies will use to steal and destroy, then that member has justly forfeited any claim to voice, vote or full participation in the parish. 

“But the theological basis of realignment and the theological basis for the court battles are not identical.”

I disagree, but either way such a statement is irrelevant in this case.

[31] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 7-24-2010 at 01:38 PM · [top]

Years ago, I was personally sued, as was the parish I founded, when we entered the Episcopal Church. Oddly, it was by a group who, except for one, were not members (though claimed to be because they had attended 1 or 2 services—-and my dinner parties)... All I remember was the sickness I felt, tinged sometimes with sorrow and anger—to name but a couple of the emotions…It seemed it went on forever, lingering…Later, when dismissed from the case, and the whole thing thrown out, with prejudice, I did not feel elation, just a sense of sadness…I struggled to reconcile with some…But such a waste of time, talent, and treasure…I am thankful I did not have a wife and children at the time…

[32] Posted by FrVan on 7-24-2010 at 01:51 PM · [top]

P.S.- I am not trying to equate my circumstances with yours, but it brings up some of the same “feelings” in me as I empathize and sympathize… I wish I had read this article at the time…

[33] Posted by FrVan on 7-24-2010 at 01:57 PM · [top]

How could a parish have secrets from the Diocese?  I don’t get the spying references at all.  If there are people who have decided to move on, they move on.  The last thing I could ever imagine would be people who find it unacceptable to stay in the Diocese or Church hanging around advocating for others to go.  Presumably the people who stay understand that they are part of the Diocese.  It doesn’t seem possible, given the pledges we take as clergy or vestry, that we could ever be engaged in activities that the Diocese should not know about.

[34] Posted by NoVA Scout on 7-24-2010 at 03:10 PM · [top]

[34] NoVA Scout

It doesn’t seem possible, given the pledges we take as clergy or vestry, that we could ever be engaged in activities that the Diocese should not know about.

It also doesn’t seem possible, given the pledges taken as clergy or vestry, that a Diocese should be controlled by a cabal of neo-Gnostic apostate Unbelievers who stand with one foot in Hell, all the while preaching a false gospel that urges as many as possible to rush to their own damnation.  But there we are.  And all the rest of your question should be answered.

carl

[35] Posted by carl on 7-24-2010 at 03:20 PM · [top]

Heh…yes…I am sure that is the last thing that NoVA can imagine.

Unfortunately it is true that various unjust laws have permitted a number of heretic dioceses to succeed in confiscating/stealing parish property and assets. But short of a legal ruling, there is no reason to allow heretics access to property or information to which they have no just claim.

[36] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 7-24-2010 at 03:23 PM · [top]

35.  Carl, I’m with you.  And I believe you’ve described TEC to a T.  And I’m with you, too, Matt+.

[37] Posted by cennydd13 on 7-24-2010 at 03:58 PM · [top]

What exactly would a parish want to keep from its Bishop or Diocese?  If the issue is “false gospel” why not oppose it openly?

[38] Posted by NoVA Scout on 7-24-2010 at 08:00 PM · [top]

Um, we did. That’s why we were sued.

[39] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 7-24-2010 at 08:09 PM · [top]

[39] Matt Kennedy

Um, we did. That’s why we were sued.

No, that’s not why you were sued.  TEC has more than enough room for your (antediluvian) expression of the gospel.  What it has no room for is your bigotry, and hatred, and exclusion.  If you would have held your (reactionary) views with humility, if you had tried to coexist with others who see God in a different way than you do, if you could have valued and honored the many and varied religious expressions of man’s interactions with the divine, then you would have got along fine.  Instead, in a self-righteous fit of bibliolatry, you had to pick up your bible, and declare that only it possesses Truth, and that only you know what it says, and that everyone else is an idolater.  So you marched off in a huff, and that had the temerity to act surprised when the bishop came looking for the property you marched off in a huff with.  Too bad for you the courts were not impressed with the fact that you paid for the bishop’s stuff.  “Trust” is a powerful word in TECs vocabulary, and you did not earn it.  By all rights, you should have found yourself on the street suffering the just fate of all bigoted, hateful, exclusionary fundamentalist bibliolaters.

And you would have, too, if it wasn’t for those meddling Catholics.

progressive carl

[40] Posted by carl on 7-24-2010 at 08:50 PM · [top]

Cool!  Carl has a “progressive” alter ego!  Who knew?

You know the origin of the political term “Progressive” right?  It’s from the ancient Sumerian Word “progressosu” meaning ‘I am SO much smarter than YOU!’

Yep.  I made that up all by myself!

KTF!...mrb

[41] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 7-24-2010 at 10:49 PM · [top]

Carl, your tongue in cheek post reminded me of the words of Jon Meacham, the Newsweek Editor and Episcopal speaker par excellence, who got to the root of the problem with Matt’s church when he said:

 “On the campus of Wheaton College last Wednesday . . . (Christian leaders) declared that their opposition
to the ordination and marriage of gays was irrevocably rooted in the Bible – which they regard as ‘the final
authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.’”
“No matter what one thinks about gay rights . .. this conservative resort to biblical authority is the worst
kind of fundamentalism.”
“. . . To argue that something is so simply because it is in the Bible is more than intellectually bankrupt – it
is unserious, and unworthy of the great Judeo-Christian tradition.”

[42] Posted by Going Home on 7-25-2010 at 12:03 AM · [top]

Matt, I find it very hard to comprehend how a lawsuit would be the based on people witnessing for sound doctrine (your comment #39).  Maybe in Riyadh or Teheran.  But I wouldn’t know how to begin to put together a theory of action in the United States to ask the civil courts to solve a theological disagreement.  In a lot of places where there have been lawsuits, they have been over property claims, not theology.  I strongly suspect that was what was going on in your situation.  The same result would have transpired even if you had not had the slightest disagreement with the policies and doctrines of TEC, but had attempted to depart with the property.  That there was a theological dispute explains why you chose to leave, (and I respect your decision to do so, if not the method and timing of you departure), but doesn’t really alter the legal situation that causes these infernal lawsuits.  I don’t know how the civil courts could ever make the call you want them to make that “heretics” can’t assert ownership rights, but right thinking Christians not only have the satisfaction of doctrinal correctness, but they can amass worldly goods at the expense of those who have turned away from God. 

My purpose is not to disparage your theological positions.  I have no reason to think they are much different than mine.  But if one concludes, as did Carl in his 2:20pm (#35) comment of yesterday, that a church that one belongs to is unacceptably wrong=headed in its views, and forms the intention not to stay to advocate good doctrine, one leaves instantly.  I can’t imagine Carl staying a second longer beyond having reached that conclusion, given the dire consequences (eternal damnation) that he attaches to continued affiliation.  I would think priests particularly would leave posthaste.  I find it inexplicable to think a priest could, in good conscience, not resign immediately once he reaches Carl’s conclusion.  My only point is that those who do not feel that way and who stay, really do not have any reason to be concerned about “spies” from the Diocese.  Those who leave don’t have any reason to be concerned either.  They’ve left.  That is my only point.

[43] Posted by NoVA Scout on 7-25-2010 at 05:24 AM · [top]

NOVa Scout,
The priest in question did not leave immediately for the same reason a good shepherd does not flee when the wolves show up. He has a flock to protect and care for.

Marie

[44] Posted by Marie Blocher on 7-25-2010 at 05:43 AM · [top]

The analogy has flaws, Marie.  The sheep can leave as quickly and as easily as the shepherd to places of complete safety.

[45] Posted by NoVA Scout on 7-25-2010 at 07:00 AM · [top]

Hmmmm…other than your apparent unfamiliarity with livestock, NoVA scout, your own statement is flawed.

One assumes that the flock, in this case, is Anglican.  They are Anglican perhaps for a variety of reasons, but as a rule, people choose their church carefully, generally for reasons of salvation.  It is therefore reasonable to assume that people who choose to leave TEC will leave for Anglican churches.  No Anglican church is “safe”, since all are victims of lawsuits and a huge PR campaign aimed at discrediting them by labeling them bigots and “homophobes”, by removing orders of the clergy via deposition.

All the ACNA clergy I know personally were forced out of TEC by deposition or removal of license. Believe it or not, some clergy don’t have the money it takes to buy a new house and move their family to another state on 2 weeks notice when the bishop decides to pull their license.  Not to mention that they then have to find a job, and clergy search processes are not quick turnaround affairs, and your chances of being hired diminish after your license is pulled in another diocese.  So, why were my friends deposed?  2 for preaching a Gospel that was “outside mainstream Anglican doctrine”- which in the bishop’s description meant 1) they stood fast to the tenet that Christ is the only way to the Father and 2) were willing to defend this when the bishop was in their parish, preaching that there were many ways to the Father, of which Christianity was one. The other deposed old friend was deposed because he refused to submit when a bishop was imposed upon the diocese where he was canonically resident (but did not live).  815 had called a non-canonical convention, “elected” a non-canonical bishop without a quorum present, and clergy of the dioceses (those named as clergy of the diocese according to TEC’s own records) were not invited to attend unless they were forsworn to 815.  The majority of the clergy of the diocese, including retired men in their 80’s (might have been some in their 90s as well) were then all deposed en masse, whether they had joined ACNA or not, and whether they still lived in the diocese, or not.
  So, where were their safe places?  Where are the safe places for any orthodox congregation when the bishop can declare them a mission tomorrow and replace the rector?  Where are the safe places when you can be accused of teaching foreign doctrine for espousing the things that are in the Catechism of the 1928 prayer book?  ACNA is not safe- it is facing millions of dollars in legal fees to say nothing of what happens if it loses the lawsuits.  Other denominations are not safe, as we are Anglicans for a reason- because we believe in historic Anglican doctrine, and think it is as close as we will get to the doctrine our Lord would have us hold.  We may indeed argue the fine points of those doctrines amongst ourselves, but the national church exists for the purpose of guarding us from “strange and erroneous doctrine” and instead it is imposing strange and erroneous doctrines.

[46] Posted by tjmcmahon on 7-25-2010 at 08:00 AM · [top]

[43] NoVA Scout

I hardly know where to begin.  Your whole post is an exercise in studiously missing the point.

I find it very hard to comprehend how a lawsuit would be the based on people witnessing for sound doctrine

So do I.  So does everyone else reading this thread.  No one has ever said that the lawsuit was intended to settle disputes over matters of doctrine.  You are conflating the formal cause with the actual cause.  The lawsuit was contested over property, but was caused by doctrinal disagreement.  It goes something like this:

Bishop:  Support me in my effort to propagate my gospel.

Priest:  You are an apostate who does not know the Gospel.  I cannot in good conscience support you.

Bishop: I am your bishop, and you owe me fealty on oath! You will do and teach what I say!

Priest: The fealty I owe to God is greater than the fealty I owe to you.

Bishop: Then I will use the power of my office to make you obey.

Priest: Then I will remove myself and my church from your authority.

Bishop: Leave if you like, but remember that all you have is mine.  You will leave destitute.

The conflict originates in the desire of the bishop to compel the priest to support the false gospel of the bishop, and the priest’s refusal to comply.  The lawsuits are not primarily about money.  The court settles ownership (justly or unjustly) but the purpose of the lawsuits extend far beyond money.  They are first and formost intended to:

1.  Punish parishes that leave by stripping them naked in hopes they dissolve.

2.  Deter other parishes from following the same path.

Property is the only effective means at the disposal of bishop to compel a parish under his jurisdiction.  The formal cause of the lawsuit might be money, but the actual cause is the gospel conflict that set the priest crosswise with his bishop in the first place.  The bishop’s ultimate intent is to destroy the rebellious parish, both because it challenged his authority, and because it teaches what he hates.

carl
with all the standard Reformed reservations about the use of the word ‘Priest’

[47] Posted by carl on 7-25-2010 at 08:09 AM · [top]

The analogy has flaws,

All analogies do.  And when they don’t, they cease to be analogies. 

Also, as far as the phenomenon of traditionalists not leaving TEC immediately, that sort of thing has been going on for quite some time, anyhow;  for more reasons than you’ve catalogued in your time here. 

But this statement imho summarizes your dilemma:

But if one concludes, as did Carl in his 2:20pm (#35) comment of yesterday, that a church that one belongs to is unacceptably wrong=headed in its views, and forms the intention not to stay to advocate good doctrine, one leaves instantly.  I can’t imagine Carl staying a second longer beyond having reached that conclusion, given the dire consequences (eternal damnation) that he attaches to continued affiliation.

Because you see, one of the hard and fast rules of StandFirm, is against traditionalists who have left TEC, screaming at the traditionalist Stayers that they must leave.  All of the SF moderator team enforce this.  This would not be possible if any of them believed that staying within TEC was in itself, an act of apostasy. 

Still doesn’t make any sense?  Join the club.  People who hold different worldviews than I, do things that don’t make sense to me, either. 

And there you have it.

[48] Posted by Elder Oyster on 7-25-2010 at 08:16 AM · [top]

RE: “But I wouldn’t know how to begin to put together a theory of action in the United States to ask the civil courts to solve a theological disagreement.”

Good.  Because they weren’t asked to solve a theological disagrement, but a property one.

[snip much of the rest of the spiel about theology/property/courts as the usual irrelevant twaddle]

RE: ” . . . a church that one belongs to is unacceptably wrong=headed in its views, and forms the intention not to stay to advocate good doctrine, one leaves instantly.”

And when Matt “formed the intention not to stay” he informed the bishop, asked to negotiate on the property, was honest and upfront, the bishop lied and stalled, and the lawsuit ended the matter.  We are blessed to have civil courts to adjudicate property matters, even if they often make mistakes and adjudicate wrongly.  We can depend on them to be far far more objective and fair than TEC clergy and bishops.

RE: “Those who leave don’t have any reason to be concerned either.  They’ve left.”

Sure they do—when they are sure that their property belongs to them and the Diocese is attempting to take it away from them.  I feel confident that any spies attempting to ferry information back to the bishop to help the bishop accomplish the theft of their property were appropriately managed.  Matt offers excellent advice in comments #9 and 10 not only for those leaving TEC, but for those staying in TEC as well and resisting heretics. 

RE: “That is my only point.”

Nah—your main point is your internal anger over this article [and many other such articles] and trying to figure out a way to respond to the article without revealing your irritation and outrage.

You just can’t stand the fact that Matt has demonstrated throughout this entire ordeal 1) how sick and twisted the revisionist TECans are, 2) the evil of their acts, 3) and the faithfulness of this congregation and of the Kennedy’s.  It drives you mad, and you hate it, and you’re commenting right here on this thread in a desperate attempt to spin the grotesque behavior on the part of TEC into something more . . . palatable . . . and the faithful and sterling behavior of the parish and its rector into something more . . . unpalatable.

It’s interesting and instructive to watch your efforts and to observe the emotion underneath those efforts—the anger that this church has achieved so much, and has publicly demonstrated such faithfulness, looking good all the while, and the TEC bishop and diocesan staff look so repulsive, despite their lawsuit win.

In the end, one side looks publicly like what it is—faithful.

And the other side looks publicly like what it is—a grotesque, crawling caricature of dysfunction, envy, jealousy, spite,  and corruption.

And NOVA Scout simply hates that reality.

[49] Posted by Sarah on 7-25-2010 at 08:26 AM · [top]

Sarah, when I read comments like the one you made in #49, it brings to mind that astute and hard-nosed observer of the American religious scence from a past era - Church Lady.  ; > )

[50] Posted by Banned From Stand Firm on 30 Jul 10 on 7-25-2010 at 09:29 AM · [top]

Gee, Sarah, I didn’t feel particularly angry this morning.  I was actually responding to Matt’s comment that he and his colleagues got sued because of they were asserting correct doctrine.  See Nos. 38 and 39.  I’m delighted for the ultimate outcome in Matt’s parish and I appreciate what he and his family have done.  All worked out well in the end.  I think, however, that he and his comrades could have gotten to that desirable outcome much earlier and with less waste by simply leaving.  And don’t you think, Sarah, that the Episcopal Church and the Diocese would have reacted precisely the same way regarding the property if Matt and his flock had claimed it, but expressed complete agreement with all the wooly-headedness that has gone on at the TEC level over the past few years?

Although I am far more happy-go-lucky than you portray me, and I do try to share my general good spirits with my friends here, I do suspect we have a fundamental disagreement in that you believe it is clear that property belongs to people who leave, whether in Matt’s parish or elsewhere.  As a general matter (there may be some rare peculiar fact exceptions - like where it can be established that the parish was never in fact part of the Episcopal Church through some historic fluke or imperfection in accession documents),  I don’t follow that.  But I have the utmost respect for and goodwill toward people who leave the church on theological principle and wish them well in their new church homes.  I was only reacting to the “spy” references.

[51] Posted by NoVA Scout on 7-25-2010 at 09:32 AM · [top]

[50] WarrenS

Church Lady

Oh, that was [snork] SO not funny.  [chortle]  You should be ASHAMED of yourself [mrmph ... snicker].  Bad commenter!  Bad, Bad, BAD!

carl

[52] Posted by carl on 7-25-2010 at 09:42 AM · [top]

[51] NoVA Scout

And don’t you think, Sarah, that the Episcopal Church and the Diocese would have reacted precisely the same way regarding the property if Matt and his flock had claimed it, but expressed complete agreement with all the wooly-headedness that has gone on at the TEC level over the past few years?

Well, yes, the diocese would have reacted the same, I guess.  Much as water behind a dam will rush down the valley whether the dam collapses, or whether the dam grows legs and removes itself to another location.  Of course, dams don’t grow legs, and people who agree on doctrine don’t get into property fights as a proxy for doctrinal conflict.

carl

[53] Posted by carl on 7-25-2010 at 10:33 AM · [top]

Carl (0933), I was agreeing with Sarah that the lawsuit that Matt was involved in was a secular property dispute.  I concur with you that it was not a proxy fight over doctrine.  You simply can’t get religious doctrine sorted out in secular courts (thankfully).

[54] Posted by NoVA Scout on 7-25-2010 at 10:45 AM · [top]

[54] NoVA Scout

I concur with you that it was not a proxy fight over doctrine.

How can you concur with me when I said exactly the opposite of what you just claimed.  The property lawsuit against Good Shepherd was a proxy fight over doctrine.  It was not intended to sort out doctrine.  Yet it was certainly a fight over which of the two gospels in TEC would have primacy.

carl

[55] Posted by carl on 7-25-2010 at 12:26 PM · [top]

Re: “Gee, Sarah, I didn’t feel particularly angry this morning.”

Yeh, it’s probably a long-term constant by now.  I wouldn’t think you would feel it particularly strongly on specific mornings.

RE: “I think, however, that he and his comrades could have gotten to that desirable outcome much earlier and with less waste by simply leaving.”

Not at all.  A part of the desirable outcome of their claiming their property was the delightful demonstrations of who and what the bishop of Central New York and the diocesan staff actually were, along with the character of the revisionists in TEC as a whole.  Plus, it’s always good to reasonably combat stealing in the courts of law, despite the fact that the courts don’t always rule correctly. 

No, there would have been far far far less of a desirable outcome if they had simply left.  They would not have exercised good stewardship, and the wonderful and revealing publicity concerning the diocese of CNY wouldn’t have occurred, not to mention the great publicity for the parish of Good Shepherd.  Although it would have been better for the courts to rule correctly, there still have been some excellent consequences of Good Shepherd’s quest, not the least of which was the damage it has done the diocese of CNY.

RE: “Although I am far more happy-go-lucky than you portray me, and I do try to share my general good spirits with my friends here. . . “

Oh, I don’t point out your behavior nor the emotions behind it in order for *you* to admit your general irritation and anger, and inability to resist trying to spin the good effects of the ongoing disputes within the Episcopal Church.  I point it out, as I find the time, in order to make certain that others are noticing it as well.  I understand that you and I don’t really share enough in common for us to communicate or come to any sort of agreements, since we have antithetical worldviews and mutually opposing gospels.  That’s okay—it’s good to have you posting comments here and at T19—it serves a useful purpose.

RE: “I do suspect we have a fundamental disagreement in that you believe it is clear that property belongs to people who leave, whether in Matt’s parish or elsewhere.”

True, we have fundamental disagreements over far more important matters than property, as a quick search on your comments over the past 5-6 years in blogland reveal.

[56] Posted by Sarah on 7-25-2010 at 12:48 PM · [top]

[off topic troll comment deleted—feel free to express your opinions about the blog and bloggers through PM as you please; this is a final warning, there will be no further warnings]

[57] Posted by Banned From Stand Firm on 30 Jul 10 on 7-25-2010 at 02:14 PM · [top]

Sorry, Carl, I misunderstood your comment, at least on that point. So we don’t agree.  I line up with Sarah in her comment no. 49 that this is a property, not doctrinal dispute.

Sarah:  I generally have found far more to be joyous about than angry in my life, particularly since I received the Gospels as an adult.  I don’t think of myself as angry in the least and no one who knows me does either.  You don’t know me.  I take some pains to keep comments civil and polite.  But I caused you to misinterpret them as motivated by anger, forgive me.  I will try to do better to express my true feelings in the future.  I am even considering emoticons, if that would help.  You use them very creatively. 

I think I discovered this site and T19 about two years ago (although time does fly).  My suspicion is that anything posted at either of these sites under my handle prior to that time is pure masquerade - someone anticipating what it would be like to be me in a couple of years.

My political views are probably very close to yours if you’re referring to my political posts in other sectors.  I am a good old Goldwater, Kirkian conservative.  I think we would get along famously on that front.

[58] Posted by NoVA Scout on 7-25-2010 at 04:47 PM · [top]

[no time for trolling; off topic comment deleted—commenter banned]

[59] Posted by Kate Sanderson on 7-25-2010 at 05:11 PM · [top]

RE: “I generally have found far more to be joyous about than angry in my life . . . “

I am sure that you have.  What a pity then that your main point when you comment—time after time after time—is your internal anger over this article [and many other such articles] and trying to figure out a way to respond to the article without revealing your irritation and outrage.

RE: “You don’t know me.”

Only through your blog comments.

RE: “I take some pains to keep comments civil and polite. “

Yes—but as you consistently spend lots of time pretending as if you don’t understand and asking fake “questions” about things you do understand full well—sometimes entire threads—and re-interpreting people’s comments and then claiming you “agree,” and comment almost solely on the articles that fill you with bile, it’s generally a pretty clear pattern of passive aggressive anger.  The closest commenting cousin to your behavior is John Wilkins—the resident deconstructionist over at T19

RE: “But I caused you to misinterpret them as motivated by anger. . . “

Don’t worry—you didn’t cause me to misinterpret anything.  Nor anyone else who’s read your comments and seen the patterns.

RE: “I think we would get along famously on that front.”

Probably so.  But then, that wasn’t what I was talking about.  Another thing you know full well from our past commenting exchanges.

See?  You can hardly type a sentence without the pretence and the attempted deconstruction of what others say.

But that’s okay.

I’m glad you comment here.  And I enjoy skirmishing with you.

Let’s return to the topic at hand—which is the 21 lessons that Matt learned during the lawsuit—and your dislike or disapproval of his lessons 9 and 10—both excellent lessons for both traditional Christians within TEC and without.

[60] Posted by Sarah on 7-25-2010 at 06:25 PM · [top]

I neither dislike nor disapprove nos. 9 and 10.  I simply don’t understand how a parish within TEC would care if anyone from the Diocese was around.  We usually introduce them to everyone so they can chat after the service or meeting.  And most of our regular parishioners, on one occasion or another, have reasons to communicate directly with the Diocese on this or that.

[61] Posted by NoVA Scout on 7-26-2010 at 10:53 PM · [top]

NoVA Scout,
Would you and your fellow parishioners feel the same way if they were in a Diocese that took a stand against heresy?

[62] Posted by Bo on 7-26-2010 at 11:04 PM · [top]

RE: “I simply don’t understand . . . “

Yes, yes, you “don’t understand.”  Of course.

I’m familiar with loads of parishes who take care to say little of import around diocesan staff and bishops and such. 

Guess we run in different circles, which is not surprising.

Given that we don’t hang out with the same types of parishes or Episcopalians, I suppose that you will have to continue to not understand.

[63] Posted by Sarah on 7-26-2010 at 11:16 PM · [top]

Sarah (#63), would I be correct in assuming that the loads of parishes you are familiar with are relatively small without many new people coming and going?  Of the 20+ churches I’ve been an active part of, I can only think of one that had tight enough control so that most everyone was briefed on the role they should play (and I didn’t hang around long because of the control).  If I was a newcomer and it was apparent to me that people were carefully choosing their words because of an underlying politcal situation - regardless of how difficult it was - I wouldn’t return.  I understand the tightrope being walked, but it is a two-edged sword.

I’m deliberatedly inviting a work colleague to attend my church during a Sunday when a potentially devisive issue will be addressed by the pastor in our community group (a form of small group [40-50 people] that meets after the service).  I deliberately want him and his wife to see how people act when their guards are down.  My wife and I have had far too many surprises several weeks or months after we started attending a new church.  I wouldn’t wish this on anyone else.

[64] Posted by Banned From Stand Firm on 30 Jul 10 on 7-26-2010 at 11:33 PM · [top]

WarrenS,

That’s an interesting approach. I hadn’t thought about it before, but I suppose its so easy to show friends the church in only its best light, and pretty short-sighted since they will inevitably find out the truth for themselves before too long.

[65] Posted by MichaelA on 7-26-2010 at 11:35 PM · [top]

Bo - maybe I’m not getting your question, but I think we always expect our Bishop and his staff at the Diocese have a distinct aversion to heresy.  So, I guess the answer to your question (which, frankly, I find a little odd) is “no”.  We assume that your hypothetical is our current (and past) reality. 

Sarah - I don’t know enough about your parish or Sunday comings and goings to know whether there is any great difference between the “types of parishes or Episcopalians” that you and I encounter.  I would think that the key unifying, homogenizing factor would be the creeds and communion.  Whatever other differences there might be would no doubt seem trivial to me.  Maybe if I spent some time in your parish and had a chance to gain data for comparison, I could form a view.  But I guess one would really have to get to know the people individually and in some depth to be able to comment on that.  You seem to have formed a very firm view without having spent any time at all in my parish.  If I’m wrong about that, introduce yourself the next time you’re there and we can talk.  Our social hour is very convivial.

WarrenS/MichaelA:  A very constructive suggestion about introducing newcomers.

[66] Posted by NoVA Scout on 7-27-2010 at 05:59 AM · [top]

thankfully, we did not have to assume anything. The bishop of central new york was and remains in open defiant heresy. So we did not have to act on any assumptions.

[67] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 7-27-2010 at 06:06 AM · [top]

WarrenS,

“briefed on the role they should play”?

What on earth?

Who said anything about “briefing” anyone about what they should say?

My point had nothing to do with exercising “tight control”.

It did have to do with the fact that often in such situations the diocese will seek to gain access to information about the church to help their attempt to destroy it through disgruntled members.

In my experience the tip off was a sudden change from a woman who was at first loudly and critical…who then became very quiet and docile. I later learned that she was passing things on to members of the diocesan standing committee.

If anyone was exercising “tight control” and “briefing” people about what to say it was the member of the diocesan standing committee who most likely counselled this woman to keep quiet so as not to arouse suspicion and gain more info.

My parish at the time had an ASA of about 90 people which is sadly on the larger side in DCNY. It has grown since. But when the diocese succeeded in their attempt to take our building, we lost about two people. Everybody else was entirely supportive of the position we took…no one needed any briefing.

[68] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 7-27-2010 at 06:40 AM · [top]

Matt (#68), I have no reason to doubt what you say; nor was my comment addressed to you.  My point was that, in my church experience, there were/are too many noobies and occasional attenders, who are blithely unaware of church politics, for the pastor to have any idea of what is being said by whom to whom.  While I can respect those who hunker down and fight the good fight (although I would be reluctant to invite a seeker or new believer to a church where such a fight is being fought), my makeup is such that I would much rather join the group who is willing to strike off and plant a new work - even if it must meet in someone’s basement or in the park in the winter.  So, the 21 lessons are only of academic interest to me and it is doubtful that I would be around long enough to see them used.  I appreciate that other people’s mileage may vary.

[69] Posted by Banned From Stand Firm on 30 Jul 10 on 7-27-2010 at 08:00 AM · [top]

RE: “Sarah (#63), would I be correct in assuming that the loads of parishes you are familiar with are relatively small without many new people coming and going?”

Hi Warrens, no, you wouldn’t be.  I’ve spoken in scores of dioceses now, and visited many scores of groups of parishioners in TEC parishes who are staying in TEC.  I email people in almost every single diocese of TEC.

Not sure what you mean by “tight enough control”—naturally people who don’t know much in parishes don’t have any problem chatting it up with canons to the ordinary.  But then . . . they don’t know much to share!  ; > )

It’s really just an ethos—the vast majority now of dioceses are led by real loons, theologically, along with their staff.  Thus, those who are conservative and strategic know better than to talk with them openly about things.

RE: “I don’t know enough about your parish or Sunday comings and goings to know whether there is any great difference between the “types of parishes or Episcopalians” that you and I encounter.”

An odd assertion when you have just earlier asserted that “I simply don’t understand how a parish within TEC would care if anyone from the Diocese was around”—and I and Matt have pointed out that there are masses of parishioners and parishes who don’t speak freely around diocesan officials whether they are leaving or staying in TEC.  So clearly we don’t hang out around the same sorts of parishes or people unless one or the other of us is lying.

RE: “I would think that the key unifying, homogenizing factor would be the creeds and communion.  Whatever other differences there might be would no doubt seem trivial to me.”

Yes—that’s exactly what revisionists think.  And yes, the heresies that have corrupted the Episcopal Church do indeed seem “trivial” to revisionists.  That’s natural and understandable.

As I said, we don’t hang out around the same sorts of Episcopalians, which is appropriate given the two antithetical gospels which we believe.  I hang out with conservatives and you—obviously by what you have asserted above—hang out with people who think this kind of stuff is “trivial.”

[70] Posted by Sarah on 7-27-2010 at 08:49 AM · [top]

The creedal nature of Anglicanism is very important to me, Sarah.  Are you saying that I should not think the creeds are central?  I admit that in my previous comment I was using it somewhat as a shorthand - I could have listed more common attributes.  But I do feel that the recitation of the Creed on Sunday, not just in my parish, but with Anglicans and other Christians around the globe is a significant part of the worship experience.  I don’t think heresy is trivial.  I’ve never heard anyone in my parish or my Diocese promoting heresy as a good thing.  If I do, I’ll probably start skooching toward the door.  And I have no reason to believe that you and I believe in “antithetical Gospels”.  In my view there is only one Gospel. 

I don’t get the “conservative” reference.  The term is much debased in a political context.  It barely has meaning any more.  In a religious context, I consider it a virtually useless descriptor.

[71] Posted by NoVA Scout on 7-27-2010 at 08:37 PM · [top]

RE: “Are you saying that I should not think the creeds are central?”

; > )  More “confusion” . . .

Heh.

RE: ” I’ve never heard anyone in my parish or my Diocese promoting heresy as a good thing.”

Yeh . . . the bishop of VA and the Standing Committee and the commission in charge of the rites for debasing the marriage sacraments are raving heretics.  The diocesan leadership is riddled with heretics. 

But then . . . again . . . you wouldn’t recognize that, because you and I don’t share the same Gospel.  What is “heresy” in the Gospel in which I believe, is just fine in the gospel that NOVA believes—“trivial” of course.

Again—two gospels.  In one organization.

Which means . . . much conflict and division.

Of course all of this is old plowed-over ground, long ago discussed over at T19.  Nothing’s changed except you decided to seek fresh ground over at SF, not to mention that the old blood pressure gets spiked whenever you read the kind of things that Matt writes.

Go Matt!  ; > )

[72] Posted by Sarah on 7-27-2010 at 09:42 PM · [top]

Sarah - I’m not sure what you’re position is on the creedal foundations that are important to me.  I also am beginning, based on your last comment, to suspect our definitions of heresy (and perhaps of “raving”) are quite different.  But I am fairly sure that we do share the same Gospel.  I’ve never seen any theological indication to the contrary.  I suppose the disparate ways we choose to express ourselves in these exchanges might indirectly reflect a somewhat differing senses of what Christ expects of us in our communications with our fellow Christians, but those sorts of differences are, alas, common and generally not reflective doctrinal incompatibility.

Your last comment (coupled with the tone and content of many others) leads me to think that your worldview is quite rigidly Manichaean.  Everything must fit into a construct of opposites: Light/Dark, Conservative/Liberal, Heretical/Doctrinally pure, etc.  Of course, this works well for some people, especially those who get to choose which boxes everyone and everything gets stuffed into.  It makes for tidiness, I suppose (your closets and desktop are no doubt in much better shape than mine) and has the additional benefits that those who see things differently always end up in the nasty boxes.  I suspect that the vigour of your means of expression reflects the energy level required to cram us all into the right box within that construct, despite an objective reality that many of our (and I’m speaking globally here) differences are ones of degree, viewing angle,  or nuance.

[73] Posted by NoVA Scout on 7-28-2010 at 05:39 AM · [top]

Hi NoVA,

This may clarify matters: Do you believe that the church may bless the “marriage” or union of two men who engage in sex acts with one another or two women? And do you believe that a man or a woman who unrepentantly engages in sex acts with someone of the same sex may be qualified for ordained ministry?

[74] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 7-28-2010 at 05:44 AM · [top]

RE: “Sarah - I’m not sure what you’re position is on the creedal foundations that are important to me.  I also am beginning . . . “

Really?  Oh no!

Ah well, then . . . “ignorance shall be your punishment” I suppose.

RE: “I suppose the disparate ways we choose to express ourselves in these exchanges might indirectly reflect a somewhat differing senses of what Christ expects of us in our communications with our fellow Christians. . . “

Right—for instance, lying, pretense, and deconstructing the meaning of words and ideas, not to mention Holy Scripture, is a bad thing.  But you will understand, of course, that since we don’t share the same gospel, we also don’t share the same definitions or views of right or wrong, and certainly have no shared grasp of what Christ requires or even of who He is.  It is impossible for people who have mutually opposing foundational worldviews to ultimately agree on moral behavior, though it does come far down the line from one’s worldview.  So I’m afraid that your notions of what is right or wrong have as little effect on mine as, say, the notions of an old Incan pagan.

You mention Manicheanism but it’s clear that you haven’t studied Manicheanism or know much about it.  That’s okay—since your main purpose in mentioning the philosophy was to say the equivalent of “you believe things I don’t believe and I believe things you don’t believe and you are wrong to think them significant” and to link them with a philosophy that you vaguely believe to be wrong or bad [although again, without much knowledge of that philosophy]—which is somewhat ironic.

But again, this exchange has devolved into NOVA and Sarah—and that’s tedious and boring and has nothing to do with the topic of the thread, which you entered in order to opine that TEC parishioners should have nothing to hold back from diocesan apparatchiks as we are all on the same side—heh.  Which, naturally, I’ve already pointed out that strategically inclined traditional Episcopalians will disagree with, but since you’re not a traditional Episcopalian by any stretch, it follows that you would naturally disagree.

The end result is . . . yes, we will disagree on pretty much all behaviors required or not required of traditional Episcopalians, but the good news is that since you’re not a part of that group it matters not.

Of course you’re always free to enter a thread over here and say “hey, you traditional Episcopalians, you shouldn’t think or believe or do that” couched of course in your usual “I don’t understand—I am so confused” rhetoric.

And we’ll take it for what it’s worth.

[75] Posted by Sarah on 7-28-2010 at 06:44 AM · [top]

Matt+, I was particularly encouraged by this:

My parish at the time had an ASA of about 90 people which is sadly on the larger side in DCNY. It has grown since. But when the diocese succeeded in their attempt to take our building, we lost about two people. Everybody else was entirely supportive of the position we took ... no one needed any briefing.

I don’t mean I am encouraged that DCNY has such generally small congregations, but rahter that I am encouraged that you all, as one of the larger congregations, had the vision and the sheer courage to make the move out.

I trust that we will eventually see TEC reformed from within, when the orthodox who remain are able to retake the institutions. But in the meantime, actions like yours are a powerful witness to the fence-sitters in TEC that their position is not a no-cost option. I am sorry that you and your people had to leave and endure all the trauma that went with that, but I am sure the Lord is going to bless that at a deep level, and increase His church in the process.

[76] Posted by MichaelA on 7-28-2010 at 06:27 PM · [top]

Matt:  My comment was directed at whether there could be a substantive concern about “spies” from a Diocese.  My position on that is not influenced by the sexual proclivities or orientation of the parishioners. 

Since you’ve inquired off-topic about my views on other issues, I’ll tell you where my thinking is these days:  Sexual activity outside of marriage is not supported in Scripture.  I do not support the ordination of persons who are engaged in sexual relations outside of marriage, whether for the priesthood or the Episcopacy.  I have felt that the issue raised by the Robinson/Glasspool actions is not whether these people are homosexuals, but whether they are engaged in non-marital sexual relations.  The oddity of things in the Episcopal Church at this juncture is that had either Gene Robinson or Mary Glasspool been in an active non-marital heterosexual relationship, neither would have been consecrated.  See Grosse Pointe post and comment thread.


Sarah, really.  What are you talking about?  When did I cease to be a traditional Episcopalian, pray tell?  Are you the gatekeeper on these issues? 

I’m done with this thread. 

Au revoir.

[77] Posted by NoVA Scout on 7-28-2010 at 09:32 PM · [top]

Since you’ve inquired off-topic about my views on other issues,

Uh-oh.  Looks like Fr. Matt has been reprimanded for being off-topic.  :(  I’m sure Fr. Matt will try to do better by NoVa Scout in the future. 

But what’s this? ..

I’ll tell you where my thinking is these days:  Sexual activity outside of marriage is not supported in Scripture.  I do not support the ordination of persons who are engaged in sexual relations outside of marriage, whether for the priesthood or the Episcopacy.  I have felt that the issue raised by the Robinson/Glasspool actions is not whether these people are homosexuals, but whether they are engaged in non-marital sexual relations.  The oddity of things in the Episcopal Church at this juncture is that had either Gene Robinson or Mary Glasspool been in an active non-marital heterosexual relationship, neither would have been consecrated.  See Grosse Pointe post and comment thread.

Oh no.  It looks like NoVa Scout forgot to answer Matt’s question:

Do you believe that the church may bless the “marriage” or union of two men who engage in sex acts with one another or two women?

Do you think we should remind him?  Okay.

Uh-oh, but what’s this?

I’m done with this thread. 
Au revoir.

Wait !!  Don’t go !!!!!
You forgot to answer Matt’s question! 
I know you really want to answer it, pointe-blank.

[78] Posted by Elder Oyster on 7-28-2010 at 11:28 PM · [top]

[77] NoVA Scout

I’ll tell you where my thinking is these days:  Sexual activity outside of marriage is not supported in Scripture.

A conventional if obvious evasion.  What remains unstated is the definition NoVA applies to marriage.  And then ... before he can be confronted on this evasion ...

I’m done with this thread.

An effective if somewhat crude method of extracting himself from a difficult situation.

carl

[79] Posted by carl on 7-29-2010 at 12:16 AM · [top]

[off topic comment about tone of other commenters deleted; final warning given last week; commenting privileges revoked]

[80] Posted by Banned From Stand Firm on 30 Jul 10 on 7-29-2010 at 07:29 PM · [top]

[80] WarrenS

What are you talking about, WarrenS?  That post was completely descriptive, and (not coincidentally) completely factual.  There was no intentional witticism in that post at all.

carl

[81] Posted by carl on 7-29-2010 at 10:12 PM · [top]

[off topic comment about tone of other commenters deleted]

[82] Posted by Banned From Stand Firm on 30 Jul 10 on 7-29-2010 at 10:25 PM · [top]

[82] WarrenS

How to accuse without accusing.  Or is that also a kick-em-in-the-butt witicism?

carl

[83] Posted by carl on 7-29-2010 at 10:43 PM · [top]

[SF is generally pleased with the tone of its commenters and is disinterested in WarrenS’s attempts to police commenters; if people have a problem with commenters they can take it to Private Message, rather than discuss it on a blog post; off topic comment about tone of other commenters deleted]

[84] Posted by Banned From Stand Firm on 30 Jul 10 on 7-29-2010 at 10:49 PM · [top]

[84] WarrenS

If you have a case to make, WarrenS, then make it with specifics, and I will listen.  Perhaps you see what I do not.  Make it in PM if you prefer, for it really does not belong on this thread.  But be done with the innuendo.  As it stands, you have slandered me without providing evidence. 

carl

[85] Posted by carl on 7-29-2010 at 11:57 PM · [top]

Gee,
I’m rather late coming back.
Does NoVA know that his bishop supports Heresy now (after Sarah Explained it to him), and is he therefore willing to contemplate what would happen if he found himself in a parish where ‘strange doctrine’ was banished? 

Will he ever respond?...

[86] Posted by Bo on 7-30-2010 at 12:22 AM · [top]

[not careful enough—comment deleted—off topic]

[87] Posted by Real Toral on 7-30-2010 at 02:31 AM · [top]

I just now stumbled across this piece.  Matt, this is really lovely. I hope it is read and taken to heart by many.  The lawsuits are still unfolding, and while some among us have managed to arrive safely in green pastures, many still wander in the wilderness.  Thank you for sharing your heart and your wisdom.

[88] Posted by Free Range Anglican on 7-30-2010 at 03:04 PM · [top]

The spies laws make some good points.  Something else about spies is how they can be used to get a message across that will be believed: your opponents trust their intelligence more than they trust your public affairs section.  Roosevelt used Harry Hopkins this way, whom he knew was passing things to the Russians.

The Russians were especially devoted to getting data from illegal sources.

[89] Posted by Ed the Roman on 7-30-2010 at 05:48 PM · [top]

Point # 16—Awesome! Great post =] Wisdom gained the hard way =(

[90] Posted by Pat Kashtock on 8-3-2010 at 05:46 PM · [top]

Matt+, Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us. Well done, good and faithful servant. I agree, Pat - priceless wisdom gained with a very high price. 

I do agree with Carl.  Even here in the majority orthodox diocese of SC, we do have some neo-Gnostic unbelievers.  I know of one person who does not understand why the rest of us believe in Jesus Christ. This person does not understand the role of Jesus Christ and does not believe in him. Simply incredible that this person continues to come to church.

[91] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 8-13-2010 at 06:53 AM · [top]

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