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The Living Church: Retired Quincy Bishop Faces Church Trial

Thursday, March 27, 2008 • 6:00 am

Other than the spectacle of the lineup of bishops who will be sitting in judgement on Bishop MacBurney, I am very pleased to see that Bishop MacBurney will resist the charges. 

This is certainly a sacrificial action by Bishop MacBurney, and I hope that laypeople and clergy in TEC will learn from this.  If possible, I believe that it is best to go through such processes, even when the deck is completely stacked against you. 


Because it is important that our church’s national leadership be revealed for the Truly Pleasant, Highly Rational and Consistent, and Loving People that they are . . . and I believe that going through processes like this are marvelous opportunities for the world to see such a magnificent, er . . .  vision of our national church leaders.

The Living Church has the goods:

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Smith, Bishop of Connecticut, will serve as the presiding judge. Other judges are Bishops Bruce Caldwell of Wyoming, Gordon P. Scruton of Western Massachusetts, George Wayne Smith of Missouri and Catherine M. Waynick of Indianapolis; the Rev. Marjorie Menaul of Central Pennsylvania and the Rev. Karen Montagno of Massachusetts; Maria Campbell of Alabama, and Jane Freeman of Ohio.

Bishop MacBurney’s response must be filed with the court by mid April, according to Wicks Stephens, who is serving as Bishop MacBurney’s lawyer. Mr. Stephens, who also is chancellor of the Anglican Communion Network, added that a discovery process would follow with trial presently contemplated in the fall. The Episcopal Church is being represented by Larry White, a Philadelphia lawyer who holds the title Church Attorney.

“From the very inception of the investigation by the Church Attorney Bishop MacBurney has made clear that he did perform confirmations at Holy Trinity Church in June of last year,” Mr. Stephens said. “However those facts alone do not establish a violation of the constitution and canons. Bishop MacBurney intends to resist the charges.”

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I think this sets the record for the number of bishops deposed/tried/removed in a year. Bishops Schofield, Cox, Duncan and now MacBurney have been or are about to be removed and we’re not even in April yet. If nothing else happens by years end, the House of Bishops will be a good bit smaller than it was on 1/1/2008.

What Spirit leads you?

[1] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 03-27-2008 at 07:13 AM • top

Once again, the depths of retribution by the Episcopal Church are being revealed in a spectacle that is at the same time anger provoking towards the likes of +Smith and heart rendering as one considers the sacrificial action being taken by the 80 year old retired Bishop MacBurney.  The bishop shows us that we are never too old or too young to take a bold stand for Christ.
But in the final analysis, Bishop MacBurney, know that there are thousands of us out here who hold you in sweet prayer and overwhelming admiration. And know, also, because there are those wonderful bishops like you we are striving to release our anger in prayer towards those who have engineered the degradation and what will probably be the eventual loss of a beautiful denomination.

[2] Posted by Petra on 03-27-2008 at 08:04 AM • top

And a good bit more hetrodox.

[3] Posted by CanaAnglican on 03-27-2008 at 08:08 AM • top

For once Sarah I totally agree with you.  There is a little more to this than meets the eye however. There are several fence sitters in our Cathedral in Peoria, IL who I hope and pray will be outraged by this and finally see the writing on the wall.
Even though he is retired and has a son who is dying in hospice, this courageous man is going to be our (Quincy’s) sacrificial lamb so to speak. By challenging these charges, he is once again answering the call from his former dioicese to help fight for the faith once delivered.
This ridiculous panel who will hear this case reads like a who’s who of liberal clowns. But I believe that this does nothing but help expose this for what it really is, a witch hunt.
The crux of Macburney’s argument I would imagine, is that the parishes in San Diego left TEC and the diocese, therefore, how could this be a cannon violation. Sadly, however, I believe the outcome has already been decided. It will damning to these liberals to watch them spin this circus court into passing judgement on my former bishop and good friend.

[4] Posted by Crusader44 on 03-27-2008 at 08:11 AM • top

Make that HETERODOX.

[5] Posted by CanaAnglican on 03-27-2008 at 08:12 AM • top

I believe that the court to try a bishop is appointed at General Convention, and so this particular panel was not chosen with Bp McBurney in mind.  Even so, it is odd (and distressing) that, for a trial of a non-WO bishop, there are so many women on the court.  He may be on trial for more than his action in California unless they are rigorously honest with themselves.

I do know Bp Scruton.  He is a fair man, and he comes from an evangelical background.  Even so, he does seem to that the Holy Spirit can tell us (as a Church) something that contradicts something the Bible says, and that is not a good thing.

God bless Bp McBurney for standing firm!  May the Lord give power to his words, so that his opponents may know that they are treading on dangerous ground.

[6] Posted by AnglicanXn on 03-27-2008 at 08:37 AM • top

Episcopal McCarthyism

[7] Posted by Tony Romo on 03-27-2008 at 08:41 AM • top

Menaul was a classmate of mine from Nashotah House and is one of the most liberal people I know.  The other priestess is a black faculty member from EDS.  Andrew Smith?  Give me a break, with all of his departing parishes in CT!  Yes, the deck is stacked and this will be a kangaroo court. More sadness for TEC.

[8] Posted by Dallas Priest on 03-27-2008 at 08:46 AM • top

I don’t know much about Bishop MacBurney, but I DO know about +Andrew Smith.  I know a witch hunt when I see one….and this “trial” is a prime example.  What a travesty of justice!  This is enough to bring everlasting shame down on the heads of everyone on the court, and I’m surprised that Bishop Scruton is a member….fair though he may be.

I pray that Bishop MacBurney will be exonerated, but unfortunately, that appears to be little more than a pipedream.

[9] Posted by Cennydd on 03-27-2008 at 09:07 AM • top

Because it is important that our church’s national leadership be revealed for the Truly Pleasant, Highly Rational and Consistent, and Loving People that they are . . . and I believe that going through processes like this are marvelous opportunities for the world to see such a magnificent, er . . . vision of our national church leaders.

Indeed.  They might want to consider the inevitable PR that will result.  Do they really want to make Bp Macburney a martyr?  Everyone will know that TEC leadershihp is going after him while his son is in hospice. 

Kate, Dave, Jim—you gotta love ‘em.  What else could Bp Mathes do?  Allowing an orthodox bishop to perform confirmations in his diocese would, would, well it would do something.  It would just be awful if he were to allow it. It would totally undermine all the good ministry being done in the TEC Diocese of San Diego.  Right?

[10] Posted by DaveW on 03-27-2008 at 09:17 AM • top

Bp. MacBurney: I join in the admiration and thanks for the personal sacrifices you are making by insisting on a trial. It will help show the world the sort of tolerance and inclusion actually practiced by ECUSA’s revisionist rulers.

[11] Posted by Irenaeus on 03-27-2008 at 09:19 AM • top

Will Bp McBurney need help with legal costs or are these taken care of by ACN
Also, what does this mean “...who holds the title Church Attorney.”? Is this an expert in canon law who undergoes some qualification process?

I’m sure Larry White is a man of integrity, but TEC certainly seems to pay a lot of attorneys.

Hmmm.. brings to mind some t-shirt ideas ... “Faster than a speeding locomotive, more litigious than +KJS, it’s…..... CHURCH ATTORNEY!”

[12] Posted by Cathy_Lou on 03-27-2008 at 09:21 AM • top

Bp. MacBurney provides a wonderful contrast to the ABDICATION that seems to characterize so many ECUSA bishops who personally oppose radical-revisionist theology but go passive (if not AWOL) during the battle.

Remember how during the Sept. 2006 House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans, the revisionists got their defy-the-Primates resolution adopted by a voice vote? The orthodox, Windsor, and Vichy bishops lacked the gumption even to call for a recorded vote. Bp. MacBurney displays a different spirit—-a spirit willing to undergo derision and outward defeat in order to bear witness to the gospel.

[13] Posted by Irenaeus on 03-27-2008 at 09:32 AM • top

Dallas Priest wrote:

The other priestess is a black faculty member from EDS.

What has her race got to do with anything??

[14] Posted by kyounge1956 on 03-27-2008 at 09:34 AM • top

Just a question…....Does anyone know just how many trials/despositions/presentents/inhibitions there had been in Griswold tenure and Brownings tenure? Is it just me or does it seem like KJS is on a litigation train going full speed ahead?

[15] Posted by TLDillon on 03-27-2008 at 10:12 AM • top


There have been many more departures ECUSA since KJS took over, hence the accelerating increase in litigation. 


[16] Posted by Bill C on 03-27-2008 at 10:29 AM • top

And needless to say, there will be many, many more such departures.  To think otherwise is foolish.

[17] Posted by Cennydd on 03-27-2008 at 10:34 AM • top

In the past two years (less actually) we have 4 bishops deposed and six or more who have resigned and left TEC, at least two have gone to the RCC.  This is clearly unprecedented in recent history, possibly even since the Reformation.  Oh no, not a problem here.  Everything is sweetness and light.  Tracking the bishops is easy but the laity less so.  Has anyone been able to tally the losses from the ranks of “regular” clergy?

[18] Posted by Nikolaus on 03-27-2008 at 10:46 AM • top

If possible, I believe that it is best to go through such processes, even when the deck is completely stacked against you.


Because it is important that our church’s national leadership be revealed for the Truly Pleasant, Highly Rational and Consistent, and Loving People that they are . . . and I believe that going through processes like this are marvelous opportunities for the world to see such a magnificent, er . . . vision of our national church leaders.

Sarah, I completely agree with you.  Shining a bright light into dark corners of evil often gets the evil ones scurrying into their holes.

This is also the reason I dearly wish that Bishop Cox would sue KJS and Beers for defamation because of their deliberately erroneous action to depose him without regard to the requirements of Canon IV.9.  It’s not about the money or about revenge—it’s about accountability.

[19] Posted by hanks on 03-27-2008 at 11:00 AM • top

Will this “trial” be open to the public?  Can we find out when and where it will take place?  Would it be possible to have a whole lot of people there and some sympathetic media types (there have to be a few around)?

[20] Posted by Ann Castro on 03-27-2008 at 11:34 AM • top


...and where in the heck is Rowan in all this??  You remember him, right?  The first human to be classified as an invertebrate?  wink

[21] Posted by B. Hunter on 03-27-2008 at 11:43 AM • top

B. Hunter,
In this case, it seems that +Rowan doing nothing is to the advantage of the orthodox.  Unless I have missed a press release in the last couple days, the illegally “deposed” Bishop of San Jaoquin retains an invitation to Lambeth.  And let’s face it, none of us is so naive as to think that KJS is not doing absolutely everything in her power to get it pulled (including that little bit about holding up funding for Lambeth in her last letter to the HoB).

[22] Posted by tjmcmahon on 03-27-2008 at 11:54 AM • top

The words to remember in all this are “discovery process.”  Mark them well. 
Bishop MacBurney is a bishop, and will remain a bishop regardless of what 815 says or does.  Bishops are, really, only answerable to the Holy Trinity.  I rather suspect that some of the current people who claim the title will have a hard time answering when the time comes.  Bishop MacBurney, on the other hand, will be well prepared.

[23] Posted by tjmcmahon on 03-27-2008 at 12:05 PM • top

Every bishop at his consecration is required to promise conformity to the Church’s doctrine, *discipline*, and worship. A Church without discipline is a Church without law, and a Church without law may eventually become a Church without religion.

[24] Posted by monologistos on 03-27-2008 at 12:32 PM • top

Agreed, monologistos, but what if that Church’s leaders abuse their own canon laws, and matters reach the point where its bishops honestly feel that they can no longer conform to its doctrine, “discipline” and worship? 

What would you have them do?

[25] Posted by Cennydd on 03-27-2008 at 01:48 PM • top

I think that Sarah is correct.  Resisting evil is always the right thing to do. 

It is the act of a brave person and one of deep faith, to stand in the face of the grinding actions of a suborned organization, particularly if those actions are effectively hidden.

Hopefully, Wick Stephens will be able to arrange live-blogging at the trial?

As for the wretched enablers of this show trial, when considering their characters, I am minded of the apparatchiki who sat in judgement while serving the will of the dictator of their land.

Shame on the members of this star chamber.  Shame on their handlers who have set them on the scent.  For these first two groups, I can at least see their underlying secular political agenda running them.

However, IMO, the greatest Shame, is on those bishops, who are colleagues of +McBurney et al, who silently sit by, allowing this disgrace to go forward.  These luke-warm bishops are truly, to be pitied, as feckless cowards.

I pray that the feckless ones, will soon manage to reach down and find that they have a pair, and begin to exert themselves as men of faith, men of courage and men of Christ.

[26] Posted by Scotsreb on 03-27-2008 at 02:40 PM • top

“Does anyone know just how many trials/despositions/presentents/inhibitions there had been in Griswold tenure and Brownings tenure?”

The American Anglican Council may well have such information. The AAC’s headquarters has a “wall of honor” covered with the photos of orthodox clergy deposed or inhibited by ECUSA.

[27] Posted by Irenaeus on 03-27-2008 at 03:11 PM • top

“A Church without discipline is a Church without law”
—-Monologistos [#24]

ECUSA is already a church without law. It is a church in which might makes right, regardless of what the rules say.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

As for the oaths bishops take at their consecration, what do you think of ECUSA’s failure to discipline Bp. Pike (who called the Trinity and the Virgin Birth “excess baggage”) and Bp. Spong?

Are diocesan boundaries more important than the Trinity?

[28] Posted by Irenaeus on 03-27-2008 at 03:23 PM • top

Irenaeus, I would add also TEC is already a “church” without a religion.  Except that TEC does have a religion, it just isn’t clear which one it is.

[29] Posted by DaveW on 03-27-2008 at 03:53 PM • top

Cennydd, from a canonical view it appears to me in the case of current company occupying much of the House of Bishops, selective application of the canons could be argued to be an example of desuetude, or abrogation of canon law by disuse.  This is based on the principle that, if it is not observed, that law has fallen into desuetude, the assumption being that the law derives its binding force from its “acceptance” by those to whom it is addressed. Today, this is often treated in the sense of “the old laws have been much too ignored to be enforced.”  However, the dishonesty all too common in qualifying ordination vows with hidden reservations does not rightly pertain to this principle.  Desuetude is limited, it’s application being to laws morally indifferent, among other considerations.  Ignoring the received worship, discipline and doctrine commonly received everywhere and at all times by the Church Catholic does not mark a cessation of such realities but a failure to accommodate reality.
I do not pretend to provide a recipe for the work of coming to oneself.  It is a matter of the scales falling away from the eyes.  To quote Woodrow Wilson, “It is a process of disillusionment, but it disheartens no soundly made man.  It brings him into a light which guides instead of deceiving him; a light which does not make the way look cold to any man whose eyes ar fit for use in the open, but which shines wholesomely, rather upon the obvious path, like the honest rays of the frank sun, and makes traveling both safe and cheerful.”  Come out into the light.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.

[30] Posted by monologistos on 03-27-2008 at 05:34 PM • top

You present a good argument….which I accept….and therefore the obvious solution for any bishop facing such “discipline” for merely defending the Faith is to leave TEC for another Anglican jurisdiction, as my bishop and diocese have done. 

Such “depositions” as those attempted against +Schofield and +Cox are meaningful only insofar as their relationships to TEC are concerned, and I believe the same will apply in +MacBurney’s case. 

The canons are the only thing meaningful as far as Schori et al are concerned, evidently, and if that’s the case, they really are doing nothing more than cutting off their noses to spite their faces.  Deposing any bishop who dares to defend the Faith is nothing more than an exercise in rhetoric, in my opinion.

[31] Posted by Cennydd on 03-27-2008 at 06:03 PM • top

Rhetoric isn’t inherently evil.

[32] Posted by monologistos on 03-27-2008 at 06:18 PM • top

Perhaps I should’ve said “futility.”  It certainly is a waste of time, since the deposed bishops are ignoring it, and will continue to do so….as will their thousands of supporters.

[33] Posted by Cennydd on 03-27-2008 at 06:49 PM • top

It is just so sad and maddening all at the same time,  to see right thinking orthodox Bishops being persecuted by such low persons (as to character.) 
I have stood firm - I just do not know how much longer I can remain a Member of TEC. I would love to go to Christ the King (Anglican) in the next town over.
When as some of these so called Windsor Bishops going to stand up to the establishment liberals as Bishop Howe has?
As a cradle Episcopalian (67 years) it is very hard to leave, but I believe I will, if this continues much longer. This church has been devolving since 1979.


[34] Posted by Denis on 03-27-2008 at 07:56 PM • top

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