Total visitors right now: 98

Click here to check your private inbox.

Welcome to Stand Firm!

A Golden Opportunity

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 • 6:40 pm

The Right Rev. Michael Smith, Bishop of North Dakota, recently refused to license the Rev. Gayle Baldwin in his diocese.  Bishop Smith states that his stated policy is to only grant licenses to priests who are celibate or married.  The Rev. Baldwin is in a lesbian relationship. 

In her letter of protest to the Presiding Bishop and all bishops of the Episcopal Church Ms. Baldwin asked for a dialogue because she believes Bishop Smith (and all bishops) should be denied the right to choose who they license in their diocese.  Ms. Baldwin believes that such a denial is a violation of her baptismal covenant.  One would ask if denying the license of a priest who was in an adulterous relationship would be a violation of the baptismal covenant but that might be cheeky.  Ms. Baldwin evidently wasn’t bothered by her ordination vows when she decided to disobey the orders of the bishop:

Thus, it occurred to me that to obey the bishop in this situation was not required of me, but to obey the desires of God’s people for pastoral care, for the sacraments and for hearing the Word was required of me. Consequently, I have decided to go ahead with the celebration of the Maundy Thursday service to be held at Christus Rex on the campus of UND form 5-6 p.m.. March 20th for the Potting Shed community, friends, faculty and students who desire to participate.

  I must have missed the screeching from the left objecting to this blatant violation of the Sacred Canons.

A local parish has now decided to loudly protest the actions of Bishop Smith. 

Though small in number, the officers and most of the 44 active baptized members of Dickinson’s St. John’s Episcopal Church are speaking loudly in opposition to their bishop’s decision to not license a partnered gay priest in Grand Forks.

The Rev. Bruce MacDuffie said their position is not to champion the cause of the Rev. Gayle Baldwin, 62, an associate professor of religion at the University of North Dakota. Instead, the Dickinson parish opposes Bishop Michael Smith’s general position on not licensing partnered gay and lesbian people.

All too often the news articles we post only inform us of events already past.  Here we have a golden opportunity.  One that allows us to thank Bishop Smith for having the courage of his convictions.  Please take a moment to let him know how much he is appreciated.  Bishop Smith’s email address can be found here.  Go ahead.  Click.  You’ll be glad you did. 

20 Comments • Print-friendlyPrint-friendly w/commentsShare on Facebook

Good stuff, Jackie. Thanks for your work.

[1] Posted by Kevin Maney+ on 04-08-2008 at 08:57 PM • top

44 active baptized members

Why is it that the more inclusive this church becomes, the smaller it gets?

[2] Posted by Greg Griffith on 04-08-2008 at 09:03 PM • top

Greg, I guess it’s because so many people keep including themselves out….

[3] Posted by oscewicee on 04-08-2008 at 09:05 PM • top

I wrote:
The Right Rev. Michael Smith,
Bishop of North Dakota

Dear Bishop Smith,

I am writing to let you know how much I appreciate your commitment to the traditional teachings of Christianity and particularly your stand on the matter of traditional sexual morality in the case of the Rev. Gayle Baldwin.

Thank you so much for setting clear standards for your diocese and holding to those standards. We am raising a teenage daughter and we need a social environment that supports the morals we are teaching at home. It is so much easier when religious authority figures reflect the same standards we do. When the religious leaders are squishy, it is so much harder for the regular folks to hold the line.

Very best regards,

[4] Posted by Deja Vu on 04-08-2008 at 09:15 PM • top


Thank you for posting the article, and the encouragement. I sent the good Bishop a note of gratitude and will be praying for him in light of the likelihood that he has made himself a target for “the usual suspects.”

Blessings and regards,
Martial Artist

[5] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 04-08-2008 at 10:13 PM • top

Thus, it occurred to me that to obey the bishop in this situation was not required of me, but to obey the desires of God’s people for pastoral care, for the sacraments and for hearing the Word was required of me. Consequently, I have decided to go ahead

Good thing she’s not an 80-year-old bishop or she’d be inhibited.

[6] Posted by James Manley on 04-08-2008 at 10:37 PM • top

Wow, 44 baptized members. Are they the usual collection of bitter,older,fifty something, affluent, probile divorced women you find at your average TEC parish. So when does Bishop Smith get inhibited by Schori,and friends? This is so obviously a set up, simply attempt to attack yet another good man,for being Christian. Gee, the church of The Church of the New Thing is really packing em in.

[7] Posted by Anglo-Catholic-Jihadi on 04-08-2008 at 11:34 PM • top

Don’t get packed in on the “44 baptized” people. That has nothing to do with the matter, and only gives more fodder for others to suggest that reasserters only see numbers. 
What is the real problem here?  Let’s focus on that for the sake of affirming the bishop’s actions rather than dissipating into whining.
Did the bishop flagrantly abuse the power of his position and authority by setting a standard for licensing and sticking to it?  No.  Is the ordained and licensed minister now vowing to flagrantly disobey the bishop who is canonically within his rights?  Yes. 
That’s the issue.  This action is enough for the priest to be unlicensed at the least, and inhibited at the most.
Throughout the life of the Church, bishops have been given this position of authority.  Throughout the life of the Church, parish and mission clergy have moved to other dioceses in order to find bishops who would allow them their ministry passions.  Rather than simply live within their vowed obedience to an otherwise holy episcopate.
In this case, if it takes on the precedence of others like it before, the avowed disobedient will take on heroic proportions exactly for being disobedient, and great pressure will be brought to bear to prove that the bishop, within his canonical authority, is the unrighteous one.
How ironic.  And blind.

[8] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 04-09-2008 at 01:44 AM • top

So, this gentle man, this retired Bishop, is inhibited for performing confirmations on a single occasion in June of 2007 at Holy Trinity Parish (which had previously associated with the Diocese of Argentina) without getting the permission of the San Diego Episcopal bishop.

[9] Posted by Going Home on 04-09-2008 at 01:59 AM • top

At the same time in the Book of Leviticus, “It says do not intermix your crops, don’t plant two crops of different types together, don’t mix your fabrics together,” MacDuffie said. “We don’t take those absolutely. We change, our culture changes. Women were viewed as possessions and polygamy was accepted. All of that has changed.”


[10] Posted by Piedmont on 04-09-2008 at 06:50 AM • top

“Women were viewed as possessions and polygamy was accepted. All of that has changed.”

Don’t bet against polygamy rearing its ugly head again.  But it’ll come from their side, not ours…

[11] Posted by st. anonymous on 04-09-2008 at 08:41 AM • top

Actually, it’s not polygamy, but paedophilia and then incest that we can expect to be the next frontier.  It’s already happening.

David Handy+

[12] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 04-09-2008 at 08:59 AM • top

“I think we say were a very faithful, orthodox congregation that believes in the love of God as we know it in Christ and we don’t see anyone excluded from that,” MacDuffie said. “If people are born with a particular characteristic that’s the way God created them.”

  Orthodox by whose definition? Elizabeth Kaeton claims that she is orthodox as well.

[13] Posted by Piedmont on 04-09-2008 at 11:13 AM • top

Grand Forks, in the northeast part of the state, and Dickinson, in the southwest are about 400 miles apart in North Dakota.

[14] Posted by Piedmont on 04-09-2008 at 11:23 AM • top

The diocesan website provides information on Rev. Bruce MacDuffie.

[15] Posted by Piedmont on 04-09-2008 at 11:35 AM • top

The parish website identifies Rev. MacDuffie as the priest-in-charge.  Apparently he has a secular job in academia.
According to Dickinson State University Rev. MacDuffie is an <b>Adjunct Instructor of Religion<b>.

[16] Posted by Piedmont on 04-09-2008 at 11:45 AM • top

Someone needs to have a little chat with the bishop of the diocese wherever the Rev. Gayle Baldwin is canonically resident.  Let’s hope that that bishop has the wisdom and integrity of the Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf, who took appropriate actions regarding the Episcopal priest who openly pressed belief in Islam last year.

Say—whatever happened after the year of reflection in that story?

[17] Posted by Anglicat on 04-09-2008 at 02:33 PM • top

[17] Anglicat,

I believe that we are still within the one year period of inhibition and reflection. That is based on my recollection that it occurred in mid to late summer, a month or two prior to the investiture of Bishop Rickel as Bishop of Olympia.

Blessings and regards,
Martial Artist

[18] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 04-09-2008 at 03:29 PM • top

#7, jihadi:

collection of bitter, older, fifty something, affluent, probile [sic] divorced women

The inference within this comment is really quite ugly. Chances are your mother fits at least three of these adjectives.

[19] Posted by Anglicat on 04-09-2008 at 07:04 PM • top

Thanks, Jackie, for posting this and providing the link to write to Bp. Smith.

[20] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 04-10-2008 at 04:04 PM • top

Registered members are welcome to leave comments. Log in here, or register here.

Comment Policy: We pride ourselves on having some of the most open, honest debate anywhere about the crisis in our church. However, we do have a few rules that we enforce strictly. They are: No over-the-top profanity, no racial or ethnic slurs, and no threats real or implied of physical violence. Please see this post for more. Although we rarely do so, we reserve the right to remove or edit comments, as well as suspend users' accounts, solely at the discretion of site administrators. Since we try to err on the side of open debate, you may sometimes see comments that you believe strain the boundaries of our rules. Comments are the opinions of visitors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Stand Firm, its board of directors, or its site administrators.