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Bishop Parsley Ponders The Implications For Sewanee Due To The Departure Of The Diocese Of Ft. Worth

Sunday, November 23, 2008 • 5:32 pm

I’m betting Bishop Iker has the answer to his questions.

A message from Rt. Rev. Henry Parsley
Chancellor of the University

We at Sewanee are concerned by the news that a majority of the delegates to the 26th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Fort Worth, one of the 28 owning dioceses of the University of the South, voted on Saturday, Nov. 15, to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and to align with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

We will be communicating with our elected trustees from Ft. Worth and with the continuing members of the Episcopal Church there as we work to discern the implications of this action.

The Board of Trustees will work through its committee structure to respond to these issues, most likely by the Board’s annual meeting in October 2009.

We bid your prayers for our sisters and brothers in Fort Worth and for the unity of the Church.

Hat tip:  Jacobsladder

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

My vote is for Nashotah House.  All in favor…..

[1] Posted by Sacerdotal451 on 11-23-2008 at 05:49 PM • top


[2] Posted by martin5 on 11-23-2008 at 06:17 PM • top

If the Diocese of Fort Worth owns 1/28th of the shares in Sewanee, maybe some other diocese, overflowing with money (say, Northern Michigan) might want to buy them out.  Or, perhaps the folks at 815 could take up a collection to buy them for Mrs. Schori’s Winter Festival Stocking.  Mr. Booth Beers (whom I’m sure wouldn’t mind coughing up the majority of the sum from his personal chequebook), might even want to wrap the stock certificates up in the “I Like Iker” t-shirt which will fit so nicely the leg of the stocking.  After all, if TEc has the money to throw around on frivolous lawsuits, it certainly has the cash to own a part of such a fine academic institution as Sewanee, where a certain “simple country” cleric was recently awarded an “honorary doctorate.”  Let’s keep Sewanee “all in the family,” shall we?

Regardless of their worries over colleges and seminaries that couldn’t pass for Christian even by Unitarian standards, their invalid ordinations and consecrations, their faux degrees given for living in open and heinous sin, and TEc’s “abandonment of the doctrine” of the Christian Faith, today’s Feast Day reminds us all that Christ still reigns as King Eternal and Righteous Judge (as patriarchal and judgemental as that sounds… and is), and that they will one day stand -personally and alone, as will we all- before that Throne and give a full accounting of what they did to His Church.  The very thought should drive them (and us too, truth be told) to repentance and tears and the ceaseless plea for eternal Mercy.


[3] Posted by rwightman+ on 11-23-2008 at 06:35 PM • top

Isn’t Sewanee where VGR hails from?

[4] Posted by TLDillon on 11-23-2008 at 07:27 PM • top

VGR went to undergrad at Sewanee (college, not seminary).

On the main issuë: What stops FW from continuing to be s part-owner of Sewanee, if FW so desires?
The last time I checked, the Diocese of Fort Worth is still a bona fide diocese in one of the recognized provinces of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

I think +Parsley (my former Rector for years at Christ Church, Charlotte NC) needs to be very careful on this one. I don’t think FW is in a haste to give up her stake at Sewanee. After all, just two weeks ago we elected a new Trustee for Sewanee (at the Diocesan Convention).

From a Sweanee SOT grad and alumnus,

Fr. Kingsley Jon-Ubabuco
Arlington TX

[5] Posted by Spiro on 11-23-2008 at 08:26 PM • top

Some of the School of Theology faculty are rather liberal, and some are quite conservative. There seems to be some degree of balance.

Can anyone verify that VGR got an honorary degree? One might guess that the wealthy alumni of the University would go nuts over that.

He went there as an undergraduate. He somehow got the MDiv at General Seminary.

[6] Posted by Ralph on 11-23-2008 at 08:34 PM • top

Ralph here is the link from Stand Firm no less on the Honorary Degree for VGR!

[7] Posted by TLDillon on 11-23-2008 at 08:40 PM • top

According to the Sewannee website these are the trustees, along with their term expirations, from Fort Worth:

The Rev. Tommy Bye (Dec. 2008)
Kent S. Henning (Dec. 2010)
Walter Virden IV (Dec. 2009)

[8] Posted by Piedmont on 11-23-2008 at 09:02 PM • top

Actually, +Robinson went to General Theological Seminary at around the time +Bishop Iker went there.  I was in TN several weeks back and visited Sewanee for the heck of it…lush and beautiful.  It was interesting that they had the Fort Worth Diocesan banner hanging in the side aisle of the nave, yet the FW Diocesan Seal was removed from Bishop Iker’s stall up in the sanctuary…hmmm.  My vote is for Nashotah…that’s where I’m going!!!

[9] Posted by TXThurifer on 11-23-2008 at 09:04 PM • top

The 28 dioceses who “own” Sewannee are:

Alabama, Arkansas, Atlanta, Central Florida, Central Gulf Coast, Dallas, East Carolina, East Tennessee, Florida, Fort Worth, Georgia, Kentucky, Lexington, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Northwest Texas, South Carolina, Southeast Florida, Southwest Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Upper South Carolina, West Tennessee, West Texas, Western Louisiana and Western North Carolina.

[10] Posted by Piedmont on 11-23-2008 at 09:13 PM • top

Maybe FW could auction it off on the open market or Ebay.  I doubt it would bring much unless the LGBT crowd kicked in and ran the price up.  Now’s the time for them to poney up.  Cheers

[11] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 11-23-2008 at 09:16 PM • top

Fr. Bye’s term has come to an end, and he was replaced by unanimous voice vote at our convention last week with the Rev. Jonathan Duncan, a Sewanee alumnus from the early part of this decade, I believe. He is now curate at St. Albans in Arlington, Texas. A good man, as is Fr. Bye. I assume Bishop Parsely will now try to replace these worthy trustees with folks sent to him from the new rump TEC loyalist “diocese of Fort Worth” when they organize themselves in March.

[12] Posted by texanglican on 11-23-2008 at 09:19 PM • top

My husband and I moved to the Mountain in ‘06, responding to God’s call to minister to the University for Christ.  For the record:
- Bishop Robinson, despite pressure, has not yet been given an honorary doctorate.
He visited in 2007, was wined and dined, but no degree. The issue will continue to be pressed until he receives it.
- VGR graduated from University of the South at Sewanee, where he says he became fascinated with the Episcopal church, but did not believe in much of its doctrine. According to VGR (his 2007 speech at Sewanee—and this in the first five minutes), he approached the Asst. Chaplain at the time and said, “I’m interested in seminary but the Nicene Creed is a piece of c**p.” (At this point there were lusty cheers from the sizable audience, mostly made up of GLBT supporters and Seminarians.) The asst. chaplain, says the Bishop, encouraged VG to enroll at Sewanee’s seminary anyway, saying “I don’t have all the answers, either. Come on to Seminary and we’ll figure it out together.” He enrolled at School of Theology the semester after he graduated, but transferred out at some point.
- The faculty at School of Theology is virtually all quite liberal. Treatment of tenured faculty and students who are openly orthodox in their doctrine has become brutal.  It has become difficult to graduate and find a job if you are orthodox unless you keep a very low profile.  We know of one (1) out of the 80+/- seminarians who is openly orthodox/conservative.
- The undergraduate faculty still has some evangelical Christians, but they are shunned socially by their peers. 
-The student body is not as liberal as the faculty, and there are a number of Christians of all varieties.  There is little support and few resources for evangelical Christian students at this time, however. A vulnerable and confused evangelical Christian undergrad we know recently followed the advice of her campus priest mentor to “take a break from being so enthusiastic about Jesus.”  The same week she removed every reference to Christ (there were many) from her facebook.

We are trying to identify a core group that would initiate the development of an InterVarsity Fellowship chapter (or similar group).

We belong to Fr. Bill Midgett’s CANA congregation in Winchester (Christ the King), down the mountain + a half hour away.  Fr. Bill’s departure from TEC in Jan. 2008 infuriated the Sewanee crowd. He has been publicly denounced for “brainwashing” us brainless sheep who followed him that we might openly follow Christ.

[13] Posted by HESRISN on 11-23-2008 at 10:04 PM • top

I was just looking at the Trustees’ site for Sewanee and discovered that Bishop Iker’s name has been removed from the list!
Does anyone know by what authority this has been done? Even with the alleged inhibition letter from PB Schori, that would not relate to his purely administrative duties as a trustee of the University. Why has this been done? Any info out there on this?

[14] Posted by texanglican on 11-23-2008 at 11:11 PM • top

I don’t know but some of the dioceses listed support SSB and the repeal of B033. The following have passed favorable resolutions for LGBT at their conventions: Atlanta, Misouri, and North Carolina. Bishop Frade supports same sex marriages (wrote a letter in the paper about it when Florida was voting to upheld the one man, one woman rule) and said in his Lambeth blog that anyone who is against the ordination of gays is ....homophobic.

[15] Posted by martin5 on 11-23-2008 at 11:43 PM • top

Our daughter found it very lonely to be a Christian at Sewanee in ‘99-‘01.  She transferred out.  The people at Christ church, Monteagle, on the mountain, were very kind and supportive to her.

[16] Posted by Katherine on 11-24-2008 at 12:54 AM • top

Is it part of the school’s charter that it can’t have trustees from another province like Southern Cone?  DioDallas is very involved, if I remember correctly, in schools like Uganda Christian University.  Just what exactly is it that’s got +Parsley’s knickers in a wad?

[17] Posted by Passing By on 11-24-2008 at 01:13 AM • top

My two cents,

+Parsley needs to be very careful how he maneuvers his way around this. This is a mine field, and can go off at any moment. The diocese is (I believe) responsible for a certain amount of fund raising for the 1/28th of it they own. Now, I ask you, who is going to pay this? The 5 parishes and 6 “faith communities” in communion with the GC of TEC? Or the diocese under the leadership of Iker? As one of Schori’s goons, +Parsley needs to recognize the 5&6; but as Chancellor, it would be financially ridiculous to do so. What then can he do?

He does exactly what he did. He writes a letter that says “we are concerned about something, and we will talk to everybody involved about it, and we will keep ya’ll posted (maybe)” (paraphrase mine). It is a masterful piece of fudge.

Yours in Christ,

[18] Posted by Jacobsladder on 11-24-2008 at 02:41 AM • top

Yes, I know a non-TEC Anglican rector in Tennessee whose parish was a refuge for many a seminarian from Sewanee for a long time…it’s too bad that they had to drive so far for just a little bit of peace.  Glad to know there is a CANA congregation close now.  I, too, am about to be a seminarian…in CANA…and will begin at Nashotah soon.  As lovely as Sewanee was when I visited on a beautiful October morning, I could feel the spiritual darkness lurking everywhere…the place oozed with it…even in the chapel.  Like I said, the FW banner hung in the side-aisle, but the crest was gone from the stalls…I have pics to prove it.  Too bad that so many glorious buildings to the glory of God have become white-washed tombs.

[19] Posted by TXThurifer on 11-24-2008 at 02:46 AM • top

Bishop Iker—PLEASE fight for your 1/28th.

—NBS, Sewanee, Class of ‘96

[20] Posted by Nasty, Brutish & Short on 11-24-2008 at 09:27 AM • top

Bishop Parsley: “We are concerned that the un-interrupted party we have been having here since the early 1970’s is about to lose its’ funding.  We will be in contact with those that have been supplying the beer and cig money shortly.”

[21] Posted by Looking for Leaders on 11-24-2008 at 01:53 PM • top

Bishop Iker is back on the list of trustees on-line. Quick action!

[22] Posted by texanglican on 11-24-2008 at 04:06 PM • top

Sewanee is supposedly the only undergraduate Anglican college in the US.  There was a time, not so distant in the past, that it was also a Christian college.  Starting in the 1970s the regents of the University, along with the active assistance of the faculty and administration, began a decided turn away from Christ.

V. Gene Robinson graduated from Sewanee with an undergraduate degree in 1969.  He has attributed his seeking holy orders to the then assistant University chaplain who told him he didn’t have to believe anything he didn’t want to believe.  I think that pretty well sums up what’s happened to the Mainline church.

Having stated that, I moved back to the Sewanee area because I believe that God hasn’t given up on the Mountain, even though He may have consigned TEC to the dustbin of history.  I believe that anytime there is great flux, there is great opportunity.  I hope Bishop Iker, Bishop Duncan, Bishop Mynns, and all other orthodox North American bishops won’t give up.

Maybe an Oxford House movement at the seminary could happen.  Maybe it could also happen at the undergraduate level.  The current administration (maybe including Parsley, maybe not) wants to disaffiliate itself with the Church, in my opinion.  But I hope the orthodox will not turn away.  I know how all-consuming the fight against evil in TEC has been.  And I personally know how much relief comes in leaving TEC.  But 1400 young people in undergraduate life and 80-100 seminarians every year are being subjected to lies instead of truth.  Please let’s think about them and Christ’s call.  I am particularly hopeful that men of faith like Bishop Lawrence of SC will stand in the gap.

[23] Posted by cananglican on 11-24-2008 at 04:16 PM • top

There’s another orthodox congregation in the Sewanee area that nobody mentions here.  It’s my home church and the church of my ancestors - and I’m the Jr. Warden there!  It’s St. Agnes’ Mission in Cowan, which is AAC affiliated, Rite I, has not given fair share or discretionary money to ECUSA since 2003, and does not speak the name of KJS

People are surprised to learn that Neil Alexander was our priest-in-charge back in the 1990’s.  We were shocked and outraged when he moved to Atlanta and jumped head first into LGBT community down there.  We had no idea he was out in left field.  These days we do not speak his name.  To think that he voted for Gene Robinson but voted to defrock Bishop Duncan.  I tried writing a letter to him expressing my outrage, but I could not do it without using extremely harsh language, so I stopped compiling.

The Sewanee seminarians, for the most part, don’t come around.  We used to give an annual financial gift to the School of Theology up until Sewanee started offering benefits to “domestic couples”.  (I’m proposing in next year’s church budget that we give an annual gift to Nashotah House.)

I attended St. Andrew’s-Sewanee school for grades 7 through 12 and worked at The University for 5 years.  Needless to say, I have many years experience going head to head with Liturgical Unitarians.  They don’t scare me one bit, but I worry about the damage they’re inflicting on our beloved Sewanee.

[24] Posted by jrwarden on 11-28-2008 at 09:56 PM • top

Now we know what “nuanced” means to Parsley.  Kick Iker’s team off Sewanee’s board of trustees, but let them sit through the rest of the meeting, just to be nice.

How much money have parishioners in Ft. Worth sent to Sewanee over the decades? Time for a refund?

When the money keeps flowing up to Sewanee, then Parsley can declare “the strong center held.”

Sewanee’s Board of Trustees today welcomed 24 new trustees elected by the 28 owning dioceses, seated two new trustees from the continuing Diocese of Ft. Worth (Texas), and elected eight new trustees from the University alumni, students, and faculty.

The decisions came during the annual meeting of the University governing body, which approves all plans for the growth and development of the University, evaluates progress towards established goals, elects the University’s chief leaders, and approves any transfer of University property.

Sherri Glaser and The Rev. Vernon Gotcher of the continuing Diocese of Ft. Worth, Texas, were among those seated by the Trustees to serve on the Board.

The decision to seat the pair came on the recommendation of the Trustees’ Committee on Nominations, Elections and Credentials, which was charged by University Chancellor The Right Rev. Henry Parsley, Bishop of Alabama and Chair of the Trustees, to consider membership from Ft. Worth after delegates to its Diocesan Convention in November 2008 approved a resolution to leave the Episcopal Church of the United States and to realign with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, based in Argentina.

The continuing diocese of the Episcopal Church in Forth Worth was reconstituted in February 2009 and is now led by Provisional Bishop The Right Rev. Edwin F. Gulick, Jr., Bishop of Kentucky. As a Bishop, Gulick already is a Trustee of the University; Kent Henning also is a Trustee from the continuing Ft. Worth Diocese and will continue in his appointment.

The Committee on Credentials recommended to the full Board that only the Trustees elected by the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth be seated on the University board.

“This action by the Board was carefully studied over a period of months and is consistent with the governance of the University as mandated by the Constitution and By-Laws,” Chancellor Parsley said.

The Constitution states that the University “must in all parts be under the sole and perpetual control of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America,” and represented in part by Trustees elected by the 28 dioceses that comprise the owning dioceses. The Trustees today include over 30 Bishops of the 28 owning dioceses of the University; clergy and lay delegates; and alumni, students, and faculty.

Following the Trustees’ decision, Bishop Parsley asked the Board to grant a seat for the duration of the Trustees’ 2009 annual meeting to the two persons representing the Ft. Worth diocese of the Southern Cone. The Trustees assented by unanimous voice vote.

[25] Posted by SewaneeMayred on 10-14-2009 at 01:47 PM • top

Not the Sewanee you knew-

GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) founded in 1988 to provide a setting for confidential and frank discussion concerning human sexuality. Its goal is to dispel stereotypes about sexual orientation by building community and providing education.

B-Glad Sewanee welcomes students of all sexual orientations (including gay, straight, lesbian, and bisexual). The International Model Organization strives to increase the awareness of the student body concerning current global issues. The organization also prepares its active members to represent the University at regional and national IMO conventions.

[26] Posted by SewaneeMayred on 10-14-2009 at 08:29 PM • top

Here is some information on Rev. Gotcher:

[27] Posted by martin5 on 10-14-2009 at 11:53 PM • top

One of the most important things Anglicans could do in the US is start a liberal arts college. 

Our lack of a training ground for young Anglican Christians has been part of our problem.

[28] Posted by James Manley on 10-15-2009 at 12:21 AM • top

But after we get our Anglican college up and running, endowment funded, professors hired, students matriculated, how will we keep it from turning into this?

[advertising link deleted—commenter is warned]

[29] Posted by SewaneeMayred on 10-15-2009 at 12:37 AM • top

[advertising links deleted—final warning to commenter issued]

[30] Posted by SewaneeMayred on 10-15-2009 at 12:41 AM • top

Sewanee Purple highlights Gay Ribbon Society in Sewanee.

VGR promoted as a hero by Sewanee students.

Maybe the 30% of the student body who come from TEC really do think he is a hero, but what about the other 70%?

[31] Posted by SewaneeMayred on 10-21-2009 at 08:24 PM • top

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