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Bishop Adams:  Why Some Say TEC Is No Longer A Member Of The Anglican Communion

Monday, June 2, 2008 • 9:41 am


Received via email

Why some may say that the Episcopal Church is no longer a member of the Anglican Communion.

A very interesting and disturbing phenomenon has occurred due to a reinterpretation of the Canons of the Episcopal Church. The decision was made to use a Canon formed to ease the transition for a priest to leave the Anglican Church (of which The Episcopal Church is a part) and go to another Apostolic faith community without trail or expenses, non-necessary paperwork and meetings, which a regular renunciation would have required. A good Canon constructed to work as Christians together in one faith: when spiritual disciplines change and new callings and discernment lead us apart.

But now that same Canon has been reinterpreted to mean that a bishop may depose a priest when they disagree or when that clergyperson sees that they can no longer remain in the Episcopal Church, but she/he may be called to another Anglican entity (Province, Church, Ministry) which shares, supposedly, the same faith and Holy Orders. It has been used nearly 300 times in the past six years. The words have been reinterpreted to speak to a Bishop and his/her clergy instead of a Holy Order within the whole of the Anglican Communion. The interpretation now leans to saying that people are ordained to this Church (TEC) and not to the worldwide Communion. This has been extended to bishops for the first time and now all pretence of investigation, trail, evidence and Anglican identity can be ignored to solve problems that should be dealt with pastorally.

In fact, some few bishops have said they will never depose a clergyperson under these circumstances and have actually sat down with clergy and churches (which they refuse to litigate against) and have worked out pastoral solutions to very difficult and challenging issues. No one has been deposed. Fiscal responsibilities have been satisfied, and even though all arrangements do not satisfy everyone, the Church does not sue its own and cast aside faithful, loving clergy who just can not belong to a Church which has so changed from when they took their vows, that some no longer recognize the Church where many first came to Christ. I actually have a dear friend and priest who was deposed from his office. How many times did he meet with his Bishop? How many people advised him of the gravity of the situation? How many questions were asked of him as to why he was doing what he was doing and believed as he did? Absolutely none. He received a letter one day saying he could no longer be a clergyman in the Episcopal Church. No reason asked. No reason given.

When I was ordained a priest 28 years ago I could go to any Anglican Church in the world and as a recognized Anglican in Holy Orders of the Anglican Communion, I could be invited to celebrate, preach or otherwise minister with summary permission from ecclesiastical authorities. Today, I would stand in judgment of my beliefs and practices in many of the world’s Anglican Provinces. Why? Because the Episcopal Church no longer validates Anglican Orders but only those conferred by bishops within The Episcopal Church (also named TEC). In years past, if I was given a call to another Province, I could go and serve, never being deposed whether I came back or not. What has changed? The Episcopal Church’s understanding seems to be that their orders only extend within the ecclesiastical package of what was known as ECUSA, PECUSA and ultimately the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and applies to TEC only. The Episcopal Church has declared that it is indeed a church apart from the Anglican Communion.

And this has not occurred because of sexuality, women’s ordination, differences in doctrine, nor polity. It has happened because The Episcopal Church no longer recognizes the universality of Anglican Holy Orders and truly is no longer a member of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church most of us were ordained into. How far will the separation go? I fear it will eventually be complete and Episcopalians can throw away all the books which claim it is an Anglican Church because it will have divorced itself from its past and become something apart. Maybe that is what the majority want. Then those who have trouble with the historic Creeds of the Church can cut those out of the liturgies and declare a universal salvation at no cost or sacrifice. And it will be worth what people are willing to give for it. As little as possible.

The Rt. Rev. James M. Adams
Bishop of Western Kansas


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Comments:

Bravo Bishop Adams….well said….precise and clear - in the language of the people.

[1] Posted by Dee in Iowa on 06-02-2008 at 09:50 AM • top

I like how this guy thinks.  I hope it catches on.  TEC is no longer a member of the Anglican Communion.  Good stuff.

[2] Posted by Saint Dumb Ox on 06-02-2008 at 09:55 AM • top

Wow, this is quite humbling, even for one who left TEC a while ago. Thank you Bishop.

Yours in Christ,
jacob

[3] Posted by Jacobsladder on 06-02-2008 at 09:59 AM • top

That having been said, what now? I presume the necessary papers are being drawn-up for Bishop Adams deposition. Or do you think that 815 has them already prepared for everyone, just to be pulled from the files like obituary biographies for some actor that spontaneously hit the air the moment one is announced dead?

[4] Posted by RMBruton on 06-02-2008 at 10:09 AM • top

This is a flagplanting sort of statement.  Too bad that Western Kansas is one of the smallest and least influential dioceses in the country.  I hope other statements and acts of “differentiation” will follow.  For instance, I hope the Standing Committee of W. KS will now join its bishop in denouncing the blatantly unjust and outrageous ALLEGED depostions of +Cox and +Schofield.

I was especially struck by the ominous statistic he gives in the middle.  Bishop Adams notes that the deposing of clergy (first of priests and lately of bishops) who leave TEC but remain in ministry in the U.S. as Anglicans has been done about 300 times in the last six years.  Three hundred times! 

Consistent repetition of a wrong doesn’t make it right.  A consistent pattern of abusing a canon doesn’t make it legitimate.

David Handy+

[5] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 06-02-2008 at 10:10 AM • top

I believe this is a both/and situation and the matter of Anglican orders is not the underlying core issue.    Dparture from believing God’s Word, from God’s definitions of Truth, Love and Life is always sin, and always moves an individual or a corporate body away from God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Polity is not the root or first cause of the problems.

[6] Posted by Floridian on 06-02-2008 at 10:10 AM • top

I LOVE Bishop Adams.  I have had the privilege of hearing him preach and speak several times.  He has been blessed with an extraordinary gift for speaking the Truth with clarity.

[7] Posted by In Newark on 06-02-2008 at 10:11 AM • top

I agree with Saint Dumb Ox, but getting those that count, i.e. ABoC, to realize that TEC is no longer a member is a brick wall that will not likely come down any time soon. Only God will be able to bring that reality to the masses.

[8] Posted by TLDillon on 06-02-2008 at 10:19 AM • top

Polity may not be the root cause of our problems, but TEC’s reckless abuse of polity leaves them in a weak position to claim that no “division” has occurred in the church. Their own actions indicate that they consider themselves divided.

[9] Posted by oscewicee on 06-02-2008 at 10:20 AM • top

“The Episcopal Church’s understanding seems to be that their orders only extend within the ecclesiastical package of what was known as ECUSA, PECUSA and ultimately the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society and applies to TEC only. The Episcopal Church has declared that it is indeed a church apart from the Anglican Communion.”

… which, taken to its logical conclusion, means that the GCC has removed itself from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and re-positioned itself as a small, post-Christian sect.

[10] Posted by Phil on 06-02-2008 at 10:49 AM • top

“...nearly 300 times in the past six years.” Wow. Has anybody done a detailed survey of these cases? A sort of “black book” with individual stories? This would be so valuable for current activists and future historians who will be writing about the breakup of TEC.

[11] Posted by DavidSh on 06-02-2008 at 10:57 AM • top

#10 Phil,
Then I have a question…..First of all I agree with what you have stated above so my question is why then would the ABoC invite KJS and all TEC Bishops to Lambeth? Yes! I realize that +Rowan sees TEC in the WWAC but someone really must put the smelling salts under his nose and bring him back into the real world to see what many see other thn hmself.

[12] Posted by TLDillon on 06-02-2008 at 10:57 AM • top

I would disagree with the good Bp Adams on several points. “And this has not occurred because of sexuality, women’s ordination, differences in doctrine, nor polity.” Recognition of priestly orders was a bulwark of the Anglican Communion. Women’s ordination did cause impaired communion in this regard.

But more fundamentally, I disagree there is such a thing as an Anglican Communion at this point. I take as axiomatic that a communion has all its members in communion with each other pairwise. It is more than wishful thinking to talk about “impaired communion”. The church of Nigeria and the TEC are simply not in communion, for example. Thus, we have a federation. But within that federation, we have two communions, those in communion with 815 and those within the GS block. Then there are those that are communion with both sets. This is what was argued in the Virginia trial and is absolutely correct.

[13] Posted by robroy on 06-02-2008 at 11:02 AM • top

There is great truth in the statement by Bp. Adams.  The Episcopal Church had already fallen so far by 2003 that it did NOT conceive of itself as a constituent part of the greater Communion.  Many whom I know were not even aware (or but scarcely aware) of the Communion.  I can remember, too, when it was one of the main unquestioned joys and glories of this church to be integrally part of that greater Communion, to have clergy virtually interchangeable throughout the world. But when TEC voted on Gene Robinson and then consecrated him, it directly refused to consider the rest of the Communion (even though it had been warned by global leaders). ABC Rowan Williams commented at once that Robinson could not be a Bishop for the whole Communion.  The essential mindset of TEC is anti-Communion, and we saw this in the eruption against the DAR plan for Communion oversight of the faithful.  This mindset could not be more obvious than it is in the many unwarranted cases of “abandonment of communion” being claimed against those who must leave TEC for another province within the Anglican Communion.  Indeed, they seem to declare that TEC is out of communion with the other provinces of its own AC; no other rationale could possibly make sense of them.

[14] Posted by Paula on 06-02-2008 at 11:05 AM • top

Could anyone, with knowledge, comment on the support Bishop Adams receives from his diocese?

[15] Posted by Dee in Iowa on 06-02-2008 at 11:35 AM • top

ODC #12 – I think robroy #13 answers your question.  Through a variety of mistakes – sadly, mostly mistakes based on failing to act, rather than acting overtly – the Anglican Communion has devolved itself into a grouping of churches loosely connected by historic ties and similar-ish worship.  That is over and against a church based on sacramental communion, an idea which seems to have been lost to Anglicanism, in the broad sense.  Heck, it looks like the CoE may wind up not being in sacramental communion with itself.

[16] Posted by Phil on 06-02-2008 at 11:37 AM • top

“It has happened because The Episcopal Church no longer recognizes the universality of Anglican Holy Orders and truly is no longer a member of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church most of us were ordained into.”

I’d suggest that this has happened because deposition is now being used as a punitive measure against those who dare to leave ECUSA or dirty their shoes in the halls of 815.

As well as +Adams’ reason above which is a far worse statement about ECUSA.

[17] Posted by Bill C on 06-02-2008 at 11:38 AM • top

#11 I’ve heard that the AAC has a list of clergy who have been deposed, but I could not find it on their website.  To compile a complete list and some background on each situation would be a worthy venture.

When we started a new-plant church under Kenya, both our Rector and Deacon were deposed by the bishop of East Carolina for no valid reason—as Bishop Adams has properly described the intent of the canon.  It has turned into nothing more than a purging tool to achieve “orthodox cleansing.”

[18] Posted by hanks on 06-02-2008 at 12:12 PM • top

Being from a small diocese does not mean in TEC that one is less influential.  Look at NH and Newark.  Because of how General Convention is jury-rigged, every diocese (no matter how big or how small) has the same number of deputies.

No, Bishop Smith speaks volumes and it would be a wise thing for General Convention deputies and his fellow bishops to take what he is saying very seriously.

bb

[19] Posted by BabyBlue on 06-02-2008 at 12:13 PM • top

Another bishop who “gets” it.  Now what is he prepared to do about it?  That is the only thing which matters at this point. 

I would hope that Bishop Adams plans to attend Lambeth so that he can confess the sins of the Episcopal Church openly and plainly so that those within the Anglican Communion power structure are confronted with their sins of omission as far as discipline goes.

[20] Posted by Allen Lewis on 06-02-2008 at 12:42 PM • top

Brilliant and courageous statement from +Adams.  I’m also relieved to see that, as least thus far, nobody is calling him names for still being in TEC.  I suppose it’ll come, but for now, it’s nice to see the positive comments.  This is the strongest statement I’ve read yet from any bishop of TEC other than +Iker or +Duncan.

[21] Posted by evan miller on 06-02-2008 at 12:46 PM • top

I think that Bishop Adam’s writes the truth on many levels. This could also fit with the “Baptismal Covenant” folks who see baptism as more of a social statement rather than a sacrament. Or, those who have not the foggiest what Confirmation is about, thinking it is a rite (or right) of passage, related only to the “age of consent” where all we are doing is accepting the promises made on our behalf by our sponsors. On and On…Why just look at modern invitations to ordinations, it would seem we are explicitly ordaining into the Episcopal Church, by the “will of the people.”

[22] Posted by FrVan on 06-02-2008 at 01:43 PM • top

Fr. Van, it almost seems like the church doesn’t think God acts in the world anymore.

[23] Posted by oscewicee on 06-02-2008 at 01:48 PM • top

“Fr. Van, it almost seems like the church doesn’t think God acts in the world anymore…”

It really isn’t the church that thinks that way, but a large portion of clergy and lay certainly do, you are correct. I don’t know that they think of God as beyond themselves, I’m serious, not as transcendent. “God dwells within” does not mean that we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, to some, but that we are God. There is no God outside our reality, no independent power or being, just us. That is what many “centering prayers” are about, or as Greg’s excellent work on the Labyrinth points out how true this is about it as well. Obviously it is all coming to a head, and we must get the poison out of TEC, and out of the lives of all who profess and call themselves Christian. I hope that is not too convoluted.

[24] Posted by FrVan on 06-02-2008 at 02:10 PM • top

It’s not convoluted. Getting the poison out, though, will be a difficult process, I’m afraid.

[25] Posted by oscewicee on 06-02-2008 at 02:19 PM • top

Yes, I wish the ABC, and a few more bishops from around the world, and in TEC, were a little better at charming the Cobra’s, or even understood how poisonous they are, before inviting them into conversation ( I really do believe some of our clergy, bishops, and lay folks, are demon oppressed, and I don’t mean it unkindly). I guess I also wish the conservatives who are not going to Lambeth would change their minds so that an exorcism of some type can take place, rather then hauling A—at the sign of Satan…

[26] Posted by FrVan on 06-02-2008 at 02:27 PM • top

I agree, Father Van.

[27] Posted by oscewicee on 06-02-2008 at 02:33 PM • top

oscewicee, difficult and painful.

[28] Posted by texex on 06-02-2008 at 02:46 PM • top

BabyBlue (#19), Evan Miller (#21), and others: I agree that this is a huge statement of the truth, the more courageous for its coming from the leader of one of the smaller dioceses. I, too, have met Bishop Adams and enjoyed discussing with him what kind of character was needed in the current Church, and he exemplifies in this statement everything he shared with me.

The momentum is building, everyone—-keep up the pressure to make them follow the plain language of their own Constitution and Canons! People who disregard their own laws cannot long command respect from the law-abiding people who fill up their pews, and who write the checks. There is too much of an eventual disconnect between saying that you believe in doing right, and then being caught breaking the law for all to see.

HankS (#18), each Episcopal Annual has some pages devoted to listing the depositions that occurred during the prior year. The causes are not given, but one can infer from the sudden jump in the overall numbers in recent years that it’s been the abuses of Canon IV.10 by Bishops that are responsible.

[29] Posted by Chancellor on 06-02-2008 at 02:49 PM • top

Well said and not a word untrue—thank you, Bishop Adams. 

What’s also ironic is that, whilst TEC is fast proving itself to really no longer be a member of the Anglican Communion, as described here by Bp. Adams, it still has managed to influentially design the Lambeth Conference entirely in its favor.  According to The Living Church, no longer is Lambeth an Instrument of Unity or a legislative body, it’s simply a “conversational” entity, to hear KJS tell it.  And, if she’s wrong, I didn’t notice the ACO issuing a retraction or statement to the contrary. 

Rowan Williams has allowed this to become what it is, either through covert agreement with TEC’s agenda, or the possibility of extortion, financial or otherwise.  Either way, in my view, his actions do no honor to Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, and appear no more than corrupt and/or gutless. 

Any reports yet from that Committee set up not too long ago to evaluate certain bishops’ Windsor compliance?  Any withdrawal of Lambeth invitations to bishops who are obviously NOT complying with Windsor?  I didn’t think so…

Why am I not surprised?

[30] Posted by Passing By on 06-02-2008 at 04:08 PM • top

Bravo for this Godly bishop! I had the privilege of serving as Chaplain to Bishop Adams when he was doing confirmations in New Orleans during the time of the infamous HOB meeting with +RDW. I was impressed then and am impressed again now.

Elsewhere I have written about my lack of hope for TEC. Perhaps with men like this to stand up for the truth, it’s too soon to give up hope.

The Rabbit.

[31] Posted by Br_er Rabbit on 06-02-2008 at 04:51 PM • top

I, for whatever it may be worth, find this the most moving and painful indictment of TEO that I’ve seen in many years of following the whole mess.

+Adams understands—and emphasizes—that individual discernment and calling from the Holy Spirit may lead an Anglican clergyman to become a Baptist, a Roman, or anything in between, and—rightly—sees the “abandonment” Canon as a charitable concession to such situations.  (This, rather than moral laxity, is really what constitutes Anglican comprehensiveness—or wolliness, if you prefer.)

His heartbreak over its misuse is evident but understated, with a dignity that cannot conceal his outrage.  I hope that anyone maintaining an archive of “crucial documents” on the disintegration of TEO will give this letter an honored place.

[32] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 06-02-2008 at 06:05 PM • top

It’s a pity that the “other” Bp Adams (“Skip”) isn’t on the same page as this Bishop.  Twenty-three years ago, I would have said that he definitely was.

[33] Posted by Opie56 on 06-02-2008 at 06:17 PM • top

Some of us had the good fortune to meet Bishop James Adams at the Mere Anglicanism conference earlier this year in Charleston; whenever he rose to speak or to question, it was always time to sit up and pay attention.
  BTW, I understand from the ABC and others that Lambeth 08 is not to be legislative or political, but if any of the good bishops in attendance wanted to raise an issue for discussion that has proved divisive in the past decade, wouldn’t Bishop Adams’ memo be helpful?

[34] Posted by Dick Mitchell on 06-02-2008 at 08:26 PM • top

Off topic—The House of Bishops convenes tomorrow at Kanuga.  I encourage you all to pray for them.  Variations of St Patrick’s breastplate, adapted for the HoB, are found here.

[35] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 06-02-2008 at 09:22 PM • top

Jill #35 - Thought they decided not to meet.  Any idea when this changed?

[36] Posted by The Lakeland Two on 06-02-2008 at 10:15 PM • top

And this has not occurred because of sexuality, women’s ordination, differences in doctrine, nor polity. It has happened because The Episcopal Church no longer recognizes the universality of Anglican Holy Orders and truly is no longer a member of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church most of us were ordained into. How far will the separation go?  I fear it will eventually be complete and Episcopalians can throw away all the books which claim it is an Anglican Church because it will have divorced itself from its past and become something apart. Maybe that is what the majority want. Then those who have trouble with the historic Creeds of the Church can cut those out of the liturgies and declare a universal salvation at no cost or sacrifice. And it will be worth what people are willing to give for it. As little as possible.

Bp. Adams, Thank you for this clear statement of the current situation. I pray that it becomes clearer to the rest of TEC and the Anglican Communion.

[37] Posted by southernvirginia1 on 06-02-2008 at 10:52 PM • top

Lakeland Two, you’re right.  So sorry.  I gleaned the wrong info from a diocesan calendar which had not been updated.  It still appears that the Province IV Synod will convene at Kanuga tomorrow, though.

[38] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 06-03-2008 at 03:57 AM • top

Jill #38 - WHEW!!  Will pray anyway.  Hopefully, +Howe will be at this one unlike when he was in England and they really went to town.

[39] Posted by The Lakeland Two on 06-03-2008 at 06:58 AM • top

And…+Howe can use the prayers, too.  Would imagine he’ll get raked over the coals for the “settlements”.

[40] Posted by The Lakeland Two on 06-03-2008 at 07:01 AM • top

I have to agree with Fr. Van, I think a number of clergy and bishops appear to be demon oppressed, and that oppression is blinding them from seeing the TRUTH.  I think it is true of the ++PB, and +VGR and others.  There are very few other explanations of why they would be and are willing to destroy the church in order to celebrate sin.  The “spirit” that move GC03 to approve +VGR was NOT the Holy Spirit, but some other spirit, and until those who voted are able to see their error, they shall remain blinded.

[41] Posted by Rev. J on 06-03-2008 at 09:52 AM • top

RE: Prior question about attending Lambeth.  The following was posted by Bishop Adams in the monthly newsletter re Lambeth.  However he is traveling (at this own expense no less) to GAFCON in June.

As a 60th birthday present to himself the Bishop and Stacey will be traveling to Jerusalem on June 22-29 to join at least 1300 pilgrims at the Global Anglican Fellowship Conference. As you read in the last issue of the Prairie Spirit, the Bishop has decided not to attend the Lambeth Conference due to the extreme cost of the Conference using scarce Diocesan Funds. Of more modest costs, the Bishop is paying for this trip himself and asks your prayers for a wonderful spiritual retreat in the Holy Land: his and Stacey’s first time to visit there.

I grew up in Ks and returned to visit family last Christmas.  Personally I feel it is remarkable given the size and demographics of the Dio of W KS there is so little decline in the ASA.  Never confuse Dio of Western KS with Dio of KS.  Example Bishop Adams is sending Deacons to workshops at Nashotah House. The Dio of KS is installing new priest from Berkley and Yale.
I only wish we had someone of this mans character leading in Dio of W TN.

[42] Posted by tom3111 on 06-03-2008 at 12:30 PM • top

The question in my mind is why did not the bishop stand up and say these things at the last meeting of the House of Bishops, and then demand recorded roll call votes when his brother bishops Cox and Schofield were being deposed for “abandonment of communion.”

[43] Posted by Ken Peck on 06-03-2008 at 12:31 PM • top

Ken Peck,
I’m with you on that question and would like to expand it to all of those who have since made statements speaking against the HoB procedure in the depositions. And please, ignoarance of the C’s & C’s is not a good enough answer.

[44] Posted by TLDillon on 06-03-2008 at 12:34 PM • top

Chancellor, you wrote

The momentum is building, everyone—-keep up the pressure to make them follow the plain language of their own Constitution and Canons!

Do you have any specific instructions about how we can keep up the pressure? I’ve already written my bishop about the possibility of +Duncan being charged in May (have yet to hear back…), but now that we know that’s probably going to happen in September what would be a good outline to follow? I’ve read your blog and value your opinion, so any help would be great.
BTW, thanks too for the suggestion about where the deposition list can be found.

[45] Posted by DavidSh on 06-03-2008 at 12:46 PM • top

For those who asked why I did not speak up at the last HOB, I could not go to the one you refer to but will be at the next. I do not mind telling you that it is one of the hardest things I do. Blessings, +James

[46] Posted by JamesIV on 06-03-2008 at 05:15 PM • top

Bishop, please know that many of the regulars here will be praying for you and other orthodox bishops as you step into the lions’ den come September. Thanks for clearing things up! Dave

[47] Posted by DavidSh on 06-03-2008 at 05:35 PM • top

I second DavidSh from here in the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. Our Bishop and we know how difficult those meetings are and have been on the Orthodox Conservative Bishops. We will be on our knees for you and all.
ODC

[48] Posted by TLDillon on 06-03-2008 at 05:40 PM • top

Thanks again, most excellent Bishop!

[49] Posted by southernvirginia1 on 06-03-2008 at 06:31 PM • top

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