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Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 • 3:48 pm


from here

...The Fundamental Structure of The Episcopal Church Is That of a Voluntary Association of Equal Dioceses

Given the constitutional reservation of authority within the diocese to the Bishop and Standing Committee, it is not surprising that the fundamental structure of our Church is that of a voluntary association of equal dioceses.

It is significant that the same term, “voluntary association,” has been used by both the founding father of The Episcopal Church to describe the organization he was so instrumental in forming and by the civil law to describe religious societies and other unincorporated voluntary organizations in general. Our Church’s primary architect was, of course, William White, and his blueprint was The Case of the Episcopal Churches in the United States Considered, published in 1782 as the Revolutionary War was nearing an end.  As a result of American independence, many of the former Church of England parishes had become independent churches while others were still organized as state churches under the control of state legislatures. White’s concept, later accepted by others in the former colonies, was that the Anglican churches would first be organized into state churches and then the state churches would organize themselves nationally as a voluntary association of state churches (now called “dioceses”).  Pursuant to this plan, White was one of the first two Americans consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1787 to serve in the Episcopal Churches. When The Episcopal Church eventually was duly organized in 1789, Bishop White and Bishop Samuel Seabury, consecrated by the Scottish Episcopal Church, sat as the first House of Bishops at the first General Convention.

Just as the thirteen states were the “independent and sovereign” constituents of the American confederation that existed when the church now known as The Episcopal Church was being formed, the state churches were the bodies that combined to constitute what was initially called the Protestant Episcopal Church. It was the dioceses, then co-extensive with the newly-independent states, that created our Church’s Constitution and General Convention.  The constitutional mechanisms of governance they created preserved their status as equal members of a voluntary association of dioceses. As noted by the official commentary on our Constitution and canons, “Before their adherence to the Constitution united the Churches in the several states into a national body, each was completely independent.”  It then describes that national body they created as “a federation of equal and independent Churches in the several states.”

As this brief summary of our founding history shows, the fundamental structure of The Episcopal Church from the outset has been that of a voluntary association of dioceses meeting together in a General Convention as equals. This structure is clearly reflected in our Constitution.  There is no provision in the Constitution that defines a diocese. The dioceses are the undefined constituent elements out of which The Episcopal Church is formed. In contrast, General Convention is created and defined in Article I, which still provides in language virtually unchanged from the original that “The Church in each diocese which has been admitted to union with the General Convention…shall be entitled to representation….” As this current language makes clear, “Churches” in dioceses are not created by General Convention.  They are “admitted” (upon their application and its acceptance) to union with the General Convention.  Dioceses are both historically and ontologically prior to the Constitution and the General Convention. And upon admission, it is the diocese, not any other body or group, that is “entitled to representation” at General Convention.

This fundamental concept of dioceses as equal constituent members of The Episcopal Church is manifest in the mechanisms of governance created by the Constitution, including the provisions for representation and voting at General Convention, the means by which the Book of Common Prayer and Constitution are amended, and the procedures by which new dioceses are admitted to membership in The Episcopal Church after they are constituted.

Representation and Voting

All dioceses have equal representation. The largest dioceses, with over 80,000 communicants, have the same number of deputies as the smallest, with fewer than 2,000.  This representation, in conjunction with the voting mechanism constitutionally required in the House of Deputies, gives the dioceses collective control over the General Convention.

The House of Deputies does not decide important matters by majority vote, but by a vote “by orders.”  This is a vote in which the diocesan deputations vote by diocese separately by their clergy and lay deputies.  Each diocese gets one vote in each order. This procedure of voting by diocese has been the hallmark of our Conventions from the outset and reflects the fact that the dioceses meet in such Conventions as equal members. The first Convention in 1785 that began the organizing process and produced the first draft Constitution made explicit in its very first resolution that the states were its constituent members: the resolution was that “each State have one vote.”  The next year the Convention of 1786 passed a resolution asking “the several States” to “ratify” the constitution at the next convention.  When eventually adopted, the first Constitution called for “suffrages by states” in the General Convention.  In the Convention in 1789, at which the organization of The Episcopal Church was completed, the issue before the Convention was “proposed union with the Churches in the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.”

All of this, of course, is simply a reflection of the provision already noted in Article I.4 that it is the diocese, not the individual communicant, that is represented in General Convention.  Explaining General Convention’s voting procedures, the Church’s official commentary notes the provision in the first Constitution (“suffrages by states”) and concludes “still today a vote by orders is also a vote by dioceses.”

Constitutional Amendments

The essential role of dioceses as the constituent members of The Episcopal Church is further reflected in the procedures for dealing with the most important decisions made by the General Convention, which are amendments to the Book of Common Prayer and Constitution. Both require the same basic procedure. For example, Article XII, the provision governing constitutional amendments, requires that an amendment be “proposed” at one General Convention, that the proposal then be “sent to the Secretary of the Convention of every Diocese, to be made known to the Diocesan Convention at its next meeting,” and then that the amendment be “adopted” at a second General Convention by “affirmative vote in each order by a majority of Dioceses entitled to representation….”  It could not be clearer that it is the dioceses that are entitled to representation.

Diocesan constitutional changes, in contrast, receive no prior review or approval from General Convention or other central bodies. As already noted, our first Constitution was ratified by the preexisting state (diocesan) churches.  There was no review or approval at that time of the constitutions of the state churches.  Under the current provisions, a new diocese joining The Episcopal Church ratifies our Constitution when it joins, typically by an accession clause in its own constitution.  Apart from an initial review when a new diocese applies for membership in The Episcopal Church, there is no provision for prior review or approval of diocesan constitutional changes, canons or other actions. A diocese within The Episcopal Church, as opposed to one applying to join, has unconstrained authority in terms of its own constitution and canons.  This is not merely an inference from silence, but an authority that is expressly granted.  See, e.g., Article II (diocese selects bishop “agreeably to rules prescribed by the Convention of that Diocese.”)

Admission of New Dioceses

Leaving aside the simple historical fact that the General Convention had nothing whatsoever to do with the creation of the founding dioceses — it was the dioceses that created the General Convention and not vice versa – the General Convention does play a role in the admission of new dioceses.  There is considerable misunderstanding about this process, so the procedure must be examined carefully.  It should be noted at the outset that the relevant constitutional provision, Article V, is captioned “Admission of New Dioceses” not “Creation of New Dioceses.” This reflects the language, already noted, in Article I that dioceses are “admitted” to union with General Convention. Those who continue to claim that dioceses are “created” by General Convention ignore the legal precision of Article V.

The first sentence of that Article specifies General Convention’s role in this process. It is to give “consent.” This wording indicates at the outset that the role of General Convention is secondary, not primary. It consents to actions initiated elsewhere. The subsequent sentences in Article V specify the process by which dioceses are admitted to The Episcopal Church. The proceedings “originate” with a convention of “the unorganized area,” not with General Convention. It is the unorganized area that “duly adopts” its own constitution. Article V then describes the legal entity created by the duly adopted constitution not, as before, as an “unorganized area,” but as a “diocese.” Then the “new diocese” submits its constitution to the General Convention for consent; and upon receipt of this consent, it enters into “union with the General Convention.”

In this articulation of the steps involved in the creation of a new diocese, Article V reflects the civil law. When an unorganized area adopts its own constitution, it is by definition no longer “unorganized.” It is a legal entity. In the terminology of Article V, this entity is called a “new diocese.” This step, furthermore, occurs before the constitutional involvement of General Convention. What happens when the “new diocese” obtains the consent of General Convention to its application is that it is “admitted” into union with the other dioceses in General Convention. The transformation from “unorganized area” to “new diocese” occurs when the diocesan constitution is duly adopted. When General Convention gives its consent, another change occurs, but it is not the creation of a “new diocese.” It is the acceptance of an unaffiliated “new diocese” as a member diocese of General Convention.

The logic of this process can be grasped by a hypothetical case. Suppose an unorganized area holds its convention and duly adopts a constitution. Suppose further that before applying to The Episcopal Church for admission to General Convention it votes at its convention to apply not to The Episcopal Church but to another province of the Anglican Communion. By definition, the General Convention has yet to give consent and admit the new diocese. Nevertheless, the diocese is fully constituted by adopting its own constitution and so legally capable of acting on its own behalf. This can be seen by reading carefully the provisions of Article V and recognizing that this article reflects the operation of the civil law on the creation of religious societies and voluntary associations.

To summarize the conclusions of this section, the following are fundamental features of the governance and structure of The Episcopal Church:

●    The state churches were independent legal entities prior to their organization of The Episcopal Church.

●    New dioceses organized now are duly constituted entities with distinct legal personalities prior to admission to The Episcopal Church.

●    Dioceses retain their distinct legal personalities as defined by their constitutions when they join The Episcopal Church.

●    The constituent members of General Convention are its dioceses; it is the dioceses that are “represented” and vote as equals.

●    The most important matters decided at General Convention, amendments to the Constitution and Book of Common Prayer are referred to the diocesan conventions for consideration prior to action by General Convention and the final vote is taken at General Convention by diocese.

...more


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Comments:

Hmm, I was hoping to see the signature of +Bauerschmidt (TN). He is supposed to be one of the CP bishops. I’ll have to find out why he didn’t sign.
OTOH, nice to see +Little, +MacPherson and the others.

[1] Posted by Scott K on 04-22-2009 at 04:22 PM • top

subscribe

[2] Posted by Charles on 04-22-2009 at 04:25 PM • top

Those who organized the Church in the United States could have had an archepiscopacy if they had wanted. It has long been my understanding that they didn’t particularly like or trust each other enough to put one of them in charge, in a position of authority and power over other bishops. Seabury in charge of White, or vice versa? No way.

Again, I’m no expert on church history or law, but I gather that the current PB has assumed an unprecedented degree of authority and power, for which there is no canonical basis.

Statements by TEC that it is hierarchical at a national level are absolutely null and utterly void. It’s good to see this laid out so nicely.

[3] Posted by Ralph on 04-22-2009 at 04:26 PM • top

This all gets us into quite a complex area. The C of E’s ‘polity’ is certainly hierarchical (if you regard that as in any way normative or archetypal for Anglicanism)  - there is absolutely no possibility of dioceses being able to go their own way.

The problem both conservatives and revisionists in the US have is that they have each made various arguments at various times for and against the proposition of hierarchy. In the late 1990s when local option for SSB’s etc was in vogue, revisionists were arguing that dioceses could go it alone, and conservatives were maintaining that these decisions had to be taken at a higher level. Now the positions are reversed

I personally think that there is something to the principle of subsidiarity, but that communion-dividing decisions should be subordinate to higher synods. The problem that we conservatives face, is that we clearly believe that some theological decision-making has the potential to be so unfaithful to the gospel and tradition that a]. it cannot ever be countenanced, or b]. it can every only be approached at the highest level of authority possible.

[4] Posted by Andrew S Carey on 04-22-2009 at 04:42 PM • top

This, and the liberal reaction to it, is HUGE.  Ask yourself why the ACI/CP group is pushing this, and why TEC liberals are so outraged by it (hint: it all has to do with who can sign on to the Anglican Covenant and what that will mean).  Read Stephen Noll’s recommendation why GAFCON provinces should sign on to the Covenant.  Connect all the dots.

I am very encouraged.

[5] Posted by jamesw on 04-22-2009 at 04:45 PM • top

I welcome this new ACI position paper that is typical of so many other instructive and admirable papers the ACI has put out over the years as this wearisome church civil war has dragged on.  What makes it special and most notable perhaps is the long list of courageous bishops who signed it.  I counted eleven current diocesan bishops with jurisdiction as signatories, along with three retired bishops, and one current suffragan bishop (Lambert in Dallas).

Starting with the sitting diocesans, the eleven brave signatories are:
1. James Adams of W. Kansas
2. Peter Beckwith of Springfield
3. Jon Howe of Central Florida
4. Russel Jacobus of Fond du Lac
5. Mark Lawrence of S. Carolina
6. Ed Little of N. Indiana
7. Bill Love of Albany
8. Bruce MacPherson of W. Louisiana
9. Michael Smith of N. Dakota
10. Jim Stanton of Dallas
11. Don Wimberly of Texas

And the three reitred bishops are:
12. Bill Frey (now assisting in Rio Grande)
13. Alden Hathawy (formerly of Pittsburgh)
14. Ed Salmon (formerly of S. Carolina)

It’s an interesting but curiously puzzling list in several ways.  First, because not all 14 Communion Partner bishops signed (it’s not clear why).  And some retired bishops that we’d naturally expect to sign didn’t do it either (again, I’m not sure why; perhaps they didn’t get the chance).  Maybe Dr. Seitz or Dr. Radner or someone else involved in drafting and circulating this paper could explain such things for us.

But it’s also interesting because, OTOH, a couple bishops signed that I wouldn’t have expected to rock the institutional boat in this way, i.e., Jacobus and Wimberly.

As always with the ACI, it’s an admirable paper from a theoretical standpoint.  It’s well written and utterly convincing from a historical and canonical sandpoint.  But unfortunately, as is also almost always true when I read ACI documents, this fine paper still leaves me wondering this all-important question: So what is the practical outcome going to be if this admirable paper is just blithely ignored by the stubborn leaders of TEC, just as all the other ACI position papers have been quietly ignored in the past??  Where are the threats (implicit or explicit) if TEC’s self-deluded leaders continue on their disastrous present course?  Where are the threatened consequences?

Without such threats, how in the world do these commendable bishops and the noble leaders of the ACI expect to be taken seriously??

David Handy+

[6] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 04-22-2009 at 04:51 PM • top

jamesw beat me to it but apparently the Episcopal left is going ballistic:

http://babybluecafe.blogspot.com/2009/04/draft-of-communion-partners-statement.html

Susan Russell reacted with her usual shrieking hysteria.  By the way, this report seems to have been leaked and published on Apostasy West’s web site(Bauerschmidt did sign that one).  And Mark Harris published selections from private e-mails of some of the particulars which suggests a coordinated response with 815’s fingerprints all over it.

[7] Posted by Christopher Johnson on 04-22-2009 at 04:55 PM • top

jamesw (#5),

I wish I could share your enthusiasm.  I’m quite capable of connecting the dots.  But in the end, what difference will it really make who can sign the new Covenant?  That is, assuming the Covenant is approved in Jamaica next month, even if in some modified form, how much differece will it actually make?

Still, every act of resistance to the inexcusable actions of the PB’s administration is to be praised and lauded.  As +Duncan loves to say, “Courage breeds courage.”  And this act of protest, if not exactly deiance, is indeed an admirably courageous one, in light of how the PB continues to act like a bully in seeking to depose departing bishops and clergy and in sueing departing parishes to confiscate their property.

I salute these bishops.  And I do find it somewhat encouraging.  But much more is needed.  What is needed, in fact, is nothing less than the continued formation and growth of the ACNA.

David Handy+

[8] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 04-22-2009 at 05:06 PM • top

Oops, a bad typo.  I meant that this fine paper is a brave act of protest, but not exactly an act of outright “defiance.”  But then again, that’s just what we’d expect from the CP bishops, isn’t it?  They’ve chosen to stay in TEC.  At least for now.  And many of them will stay to the bitter end of their tenure in office.

But what happens after that, pray tell?  How will their dioceses continue the resistance after they are gone?

David Handy+

[9] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 04-22-2009 at 05:12 PM • top

This paper doesn’t seem so radical at all. It’s what I was taught at Confirmation Class and in Seminary. OF COURSE Mrs Scori is acting like a metropolitan, which her successors never did. Look at every woman ruler in history. Were any of them *not* tough and opportunistic? The whys are of no interest to me. That they were and she is ought to be no surprise. When someone makes up novel interpretations for established laws in order to get their way, that’s called tyranny, isn’t it?

[10] Posted by A Senior Priest on 04-22-2009 at 05:21 PM • top

The Curmudgeon’s latest post and Publius’ astute comment on TEC’s unique polity are pertinent to this post:

http://accurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2009/04/to-whom-it-may-concern-i.html

[11] Posted by Theodora on 04-22-2009 at 05:39 PM • top

This is a fine and admirable paper from the ACI.  It is written in utterly clear language.

It will be interesting to see how this paper affects the discussion of the covenant, the PB’s over-stepping, and the whole matter of the relationship of the dioceses to the General Convention.  I think it is quite clear that the General Convention and the Executive Council are creations of the dioceses.

And the Presiding Bishop is an elected official of the House of Bishops, whose election must be confirmed by the House of Deputies.  I wish some legal scholar could tell me if this implies that the Presiding Bishop is answerable to the House of Bishops.  I think it does.

Excellent work, ACI!

[12] Posted by Rudy on 04-22-2009 at 05:41 PM • top

I do not think we can recognized that before the dust settles there could be several Anglican churches in North America.  If the TEC refuses to sign the covenant and the above mentioned constitutional crisis were to occur various communion partner dioceses could withdraw from TEC and NOT JOIN the ACNA.  This would allow them to maintain their relationship with Canterbury and reconstitute themselves under the same polity of the old TEC.  It could get interesting….

[13] Posted by ACNApriest on 04-22-2009 at 05:42 PM • top

#4 Andrew S Carey
“The C of E’s ‘polity’ is certainly hierarchical (if you regard that as in any way normative or archetypal for Anglicanism) - there is absolutely no possibility of dioceses being able to go their own way.”

That is correct, if you don’t mind me saying so solely for the CofE.  We are a hierachial church under the Sovereign, as an established church; unique as far as I know in the Anglican Communion and of limited value in drawing comparisons with others.

[14] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 04-22-2009 at 05:44 PM • top

David:  I think this is important because it is a very strong indication that TEC has no intention whatsoever of agreeing to the Covenant, and TEC’s current leadership is apparently going ballistic at the suggestion that some TEC bishops and dioceses might try.  Now, you may say “who cares?  So what if the GAFCON and moderate AC provinces sign on to the Covenant but TEC doesn’t?”

A few responses:
1. It would be a significant movement forward towards separating the heretical TEC from the Anglican Communion.  Just as it took years to get us into this mess, so it will take years to reform Anglicanism.  I think that this incident demonstrates that TEC sees the Covenant as a very real threat.
2. The attack on the Communion Partners bishops can only increase the concern which the “moderate” non-GAFCON Global South leadership has for official TEC.  And I think that this is only the start.  My guess is that the bishops who have signed their names to this document, and the Standing Committees of their dioceses, will be the next in line for targeting by the PB and her minions.  This will only serve to further alienate official TEC from the Communion.
3. As these attacks on the Communion Partners step up, I think that it will bring together the CP/ACI faction and the GAFCON/ACNA faction.  And that is very welcome.
4. As 815 and the PB attack an ever increasing number of dioceses and bishops, they grow increasingly smaller and weaker.

All in all, this bodes very well for the future of a reformed Anglican Communion.

[15] Posted by jamesw on 04-22-2009 at 05:51 PM • top

David:  Sorry, some more occurs to me.  If GAFCON provinces do sign on, as do the moderate provinces, but TEC refuses to do so, this makes it that much more likely that the ACNA will be accepted in some form as an authentic part of the Anglican Communion.

I would also expect that once TEC makes the decision NOT to sign on, and begins a new wave of litigation against those bishops and dioceses that do wish to sign on, then TEC will twist radically away from the Anglican Communion.  This is pretty standard for liberal advocacy groups.  If they realize that they cannot dominate an organization, they will quickly turn to vilify it.

[16] Posted by jamesw on 04-22-2009 at 05:57 PM • top

This paper has its strengths (e.g. focusing on the language of TEC’s Constitution with respect to hierarchy and comparing it to other churches), and it has its weaknesses (e.g. asserting, citing only McCall’s paper, that it would be a material breach and change in TEC’s polity if it chose not to sign the Anglican Covenant). 

This paper is not conclusive.  We need to see the best reply the other side can offer (not the hysterics of Integrity).  We need to see some of the holes in this paper and McCall’s addressed. 

But this paper is a good one, and the signatories certainly have the right to deal with the question.  It will be interesting to watch what the next year or two bring.

[17] Posted by DavidH on 04-22-2009 at 06:04 PM • top

Somehow I can’t bring myself to read the entirety of this Very Important Paper, in large part because since I don’t see much point in being a member of any of the local TEC dioceses, I’m really not part of the target audience of this Very Important Paper.

However I echo the earlier comments that this represents a major shot across the bow of the PB & 815, and it will be fascinating to see where this leads too.

Congratualtions to ACI.  If nothing else, they have managed to get all the right people into a hissy fit, and that’s a good sign.

[18] Posted by AndrewA on 04-22-2009 at 06:19 PM • top

I have to wonder, though:  Might, after all their hard work, the Stand Firm bloggers be overlooked for the Meanest Bloggers Ever Award, in favor of the ACI?  Wouldn’t that be something.

[19] Posted by AndrewA on 04-22-2009 at 06:21 PM • top

A letter from Chris Seitz, apparently about this statement, was obtained by the homosexualists. Ms Russell says this about it:

Russell called the strategy that Episcopal Church officials discuss in the e-mails “a Karl Rove tactic,” a reference to former President George W. Bush’s campaign tactician.

“While purporting to be in favor of reconciliation, what they’re doing is working behind the scenes,” she said. “At the highest levels of the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church, we have conservative operatives who — while professing to be working towards reconciliation — are really working to continue to split the Episcopal Church to make gay inclusion a wedge issue.”

Russell said she planned to write a public statement “saying how horrified we are and this does nothing but tell us what we always thought about these cretins.”

Integrity based this suspicion, Russell said, on “years of watching a conservative minority in the Episcopal Church try to manipulate and coerce the continuation exclusion for gay and lesbian people.”

Cretin? Nice, Ms Russell. You mean that conservatives in the church are actually trying restore sanity? Oh my. Another Chapman memo conspiracy!!!

See http://tinyurl.com/cl5qfk

[20] Posted by robroy on 04-22-2009 at 06:25 PM • top

One last comment before I shut up for awhile?  I presume that the PB is already consulting with Beers as to whether or not she can consider signing the above statement to be a renouciation of their orders.  I have a feeling that he will say “No” this time, leaving her to inneffectivly sit in her posh Manhattan office screaming “Off with their heads!”

[21] Posted by AndrewA on 04-22-2009 at 06:32 PM • top

“make” gay inclusion a wedge issue? My dear Ms. Russell, it *is* a wedge issue. They are seeking to hold TEC together despite the wedge.

[22] Posted by Scott K on 04-22-2009 at 06:35 PM • top

robroy,

Chapman Memeo II is absolutely right. Over the next few days/weeks the leftist bloggers, perhaps publicly aided by official organs like Episcopal Life et al, will attempt to frame these email exchanges as evidence of a grand scheme on the part of the ACI and CP and cast the signatories as saboteurs bent on dividing and destroying the Episcopal Church. I expect they will meet with the same sort of success they had with the original Chapman Memo…the mere mention of which evokes paranoia on the left.

[23] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 04-22-2009 at 06:41 PM • top

Looks like Mark and Susan spoonfed a buck load of spin to Ruth Ghendil, which she is parroting without the slightest pretence of unbiased journalism.

[24] Posted by AndrewA on 04-22-2009 at 06:49 PM • top

robroy and Matt+,
Yes, we can already see the coming headline:
“Lawrence and ACI Conspire to Preserve Historic Episcopate”
which may, regrettably, be followed some time later by:
KJS accepts renunciation of orders by CP bishops and ACI contained in ACI document”

The one difficulty I see with the paper is that it does not present a solution to the main problem, which is- what do you do when you sign the Covenant and TEC does not, and KJS then declares that you have “abandoned the communion of THIS church”?

Because if the paper is correct (and I think it is), then TEC has no constitutional standing to discipline dioceses for refusing the PB’s oversight in favor of that of ++Greg Venables.  And we know what has happened to the bishops and priests and churches of those dioceses.  In what way is signing a Covenant (and thereby accepting the oversight of the Communion hierarchy) any different than accepting oversight from another province?

[25] Posted by tjmcmahon on 04-22-2009 at 06:59 PM • top

Scott K #22 - right on point.  You say in a line or two what the “State of the Church” takes several pages and charts to say.

[26] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 04-22-2009 at 07:01 PM • top

Y’all smell smoke?  I Corinthians 3.  Wretched damn baby boomers like me thought we were better than what we inherited.  We thought we were “thinkers”, more “sensitive,” more open minded, just plain better.  And so we laid a lousy bunch of cheap construction on top of the true foundation, which is Christ.  People like me helped make this mess.

Some of us will pay an eternal price - “Those who destroy the Temple, God will destroy.”  Others of us will be saved, because Christ is that loving and faithful - but like people running from a burning building as our worthless religious edifice turns into ashes.

[27] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 04-22-2009 at 07:13 PM • top

Well, then….I guess this makes ME a cretin, too, doesn’t it?

[28] Posted by Cennydd on 04-22-2009 at 07:13 PM • top

An honorable distinction.

[29] Posted by Cennydd on 04-22-2009 at 07:14 PM • top

The paper is correct, historically verifiable, and unassailable on the matter.  That is why the Leftie Shriekites are having hissy (herry?)(itty?) fits.  Their bluff has been called in an demonstrably historically accurate document - which has magnitude 11 quake effects on their precious little hypotheses of fiction recently advocated. 

There is humour here, folks, lots of irony, and a rich sound of laughter from the heaves as He Who sits above the circle of the earth laughs.

[30] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 04-22-2009 at 07:15 PM • top

We do need to pray for the men who signed this. Whether we are in TEC or out, they need our prayers and our support. They have done something bold in defense of the Church.  Reading the list serve and some of the blogs, there are those out there who are literally trying to raise the fires of hell against these bishops and priests.

It may be that the last battle for the soul of the Episcopal Church has begun.

Lord, have mercy upon us.

[31] Posted by tjmcmahon on 04-22-2009 at 07:42 PM • top

I very much appreciate this position paper and want to express my deep gratitude to ACI and the Communion Partners for their excellent work.  It will be of great help in our response to the lawsuit brought against our diocese.

+JLI

[32] Posted by Bishop Iker on 04-22-2009 at 07:53 PM • top

agreed tjmcmahon,

I have not agreed with the ACI about much…but this is a very good paper and the leaked emails stand as models of resistance strategy. Excellent stuff.

They now have targets painted on their backs…they will be in our prayers.

[33] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 04-22-2009 at 07:55 PM • top

tjmcmahon is right in post 31.  I don’t think most of us realize how crucial the legal point being made by the CP/ACI is.  The PB’s ruling cabal certainly does.  I would suggest that the events of today may dwarf the various Primates’ Communiques, Windsor Report, 2008 Lambeth Conference and ABC letters combined.  I believe that what today’s events tell us is that (1) TEC’s ruling cabal does NOT see its future in a covenanted Anglican Communion; (2) TEC is prepared to do whatever it takes to prevent any of its dioceses from signing on to the covenant; and (3) any belief that conservative bishops and dioceses will be given “room” or “space” within TEC to differentiate is delusional.

That these events happened within days of Stephen Noll’s reflections on the RC Covenant draft is most interesting indeed.

[34] Posted by jamesw on 04-22-2009 at 07:55 PM • top

But can you get this in front of a judge?  Look at the “Iowa” thread today.

[35] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 04-22-2009 at 08:09 PM • top

Timothy:  First, note that liberal advocacy groups devoted to changing the law through the courts, choose their battle grounds very carefully.  There may be 95 good judges out there - the job of the liberal legal advocate is to identify the 5 judges out there who want to legislate from the bench and then target a lawsuit there.

Second, it is my belief that when presented with a legal issue, the typical judge usually asks “how do I want this case to be resolved?”  Most of the time, the answer is “I don’t care that much, let’s look at the evidence”.  But the problem arises when the answer is “I really want Side A to win, now how can I rationalize that result from the evidence?”

So you need to get factor #1 and factor #2 working in tandem to get the Iowa result.  As I said, it is the job of the liberal legal advocacy groups to search out just such combinations across the country.

There is another problem, and that is just plain stupid judges making stupid rulings, and I would suggest to you that this is what happened with the California Supreme Court and the L.A. church cases.  There is no control for that.

I think that the smart legal strategy for the conservatives in the diocesan cases is to point to the lack of any canonical language supporting the PB’s claims, and then if the PB asserts that she is the unquestioned authority in TEC, present these arguments to show that such a claim is contested.  This should result in the court not wishing to interfere in non-legal church disputes, and so resorting to “neutral principles of law”.  Since the dioceses have all followed their own constitutions and the local legalities, and have their own names on the title deeds, I would expect the dioceses to win.  But again, that assumes no judges with ulterior motives or who are just stupid.

[36] Posted by jamesw on 04-22-2009 at 08:22 PM • top

In addition to the historical comments in the recent statement by Bishops Adams, Beckwith, and others, my reading in the history of the Church of England ministry in the American colonies from before 1607 until 1776 leads me to think that the clergy and congregations were part of the Church of England only as part of the royal ecclesiastical prerogative and not part of any English diocese. The Bishops of London either by custom or by letters patent licensed and took order for the ordination of deacons and priests (and licensed church schoolmasters) but they did so by delegation from the crown. So when the clergy and lay members of the American congregations gathered state by state to organize they were exercising their ecclesiastical as well as their political freedom.

      I think Bishops Adams, Beckwith and others have the support of history as well as of canon law. The General Convention is free to organize new dioceses in the area formerly part of the Dioceses of San Joaquin, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, and Quincy if it wishes to - or to join the parishes in those areas that withdraw from the dioceses that have withdrawn from General Convention to other dioceses. But to pretend that the dioceses that have withdrawn from General Convention have no right to do so is not only silly but wrong.

[37] Posted by TomRightmyer on 04-22-2009 at 08:23 PM • top

I have not agreed with the ACI about much…but this is a very good paper and the leaked emails stand as models of resistance strategy. Excellent stuff.

They now have targets painted on their backs…they will be in our prayers.

This summer’s GC2009 is shaping up to be the purge of every last vestige of reasserting resistance to TEC’s agenda.  This letter, and the shrieking on the TEC left, just ensured that the dividing lines are very clear.  We will no see how many of the Communion Partners truly have the courage of their convictions.  I hope that the leadership of the ACNA will keep the door ajar for them.

[38] Posted by Steve Lake+ on 04-22-2009 at 08:33 PM • top

I saw the emission by the leader of Dis-integrity over at T19, and made the observation that calling someone a “cretin” is offensive to defenseless children with hypothyroidism and resultant developmental delay. I guess this is simply how she thinks.

I’m not a lawyer. But, I’ve got to wonder whether this document could in some way be used to support perjury charges against the 815 leadership. They’ve said some pretty strong things in various depositions, haven’t they? Hmmmm. Good judges don’t like to be messed with.

[39] Posted by Ralph on 04-22-2009 at 08:35 PM • top

jamesw (#15, 16, & 34),

Thanks for a typically thoughtful and lucid reply.  The scenario you outline is quite plausible and hopeful, but only time will tell if it comes to pass. 

However, there are some fears on my part that temper and dampen the enthusiasm you are clearly feeling.  My first fear is that once the hysteria dies down on the left, the cynical leaders of TEC will calmly decide to keep up the charade of remaining within the AC, sign the Coveant and then procede to blithely ignore it, just as they’ve brazenly ignored their own canons with regard to deposing the bishops who’ve left TEC, and as they simply ignore the Windsor Report moratoria and anything else that gets in their way.  I think that would be the smart thing for them to do. 

But hey, sometimes intelligent people do really dumb things. Like the California Supreme Court decisions you alluded to above.  But it’s never safe to count on your foes being stupid and shooting themselves in the foot.

But my second fear is that the reasonable future scenario you’ve sketched in #15-16 will amount to a classic case of “too little help, too late.”  First, it doesn’t do anything to help the beseiged conservative parishes in liberal non-CP dioceses, and that’s a very serious limitation and drawback.  Second, this optimistic prediction about some attractive future possibilities may simply take too long.  In the meantime, more and more people in the CP dioceses are likely to drift away in disgust with the whole endless process.  We’ll see.

Anyway, thanks for responding.  Your observations are always astute and helpful.

David Handy+

[40] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 04-22-2009 at 10:29 PM • top

[36] jamesw,

You wrote:

There is another problem, and that is just plain stupid judges making stupid rulings, and I would suggest to you that this is what happened with the California Supreme Court and the L.A. church cases.  There is no control for that.

This called to my mind a somewhat cynical riddle which was shared with me by a dear former colleague who is a County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney who represented the department in which I worked. My understanding is that this is apparently a long standing joke within the legal profession.

<hr>
Q:  What do you call an attorney with an IQ of 80 or less?

A:  Your honor.

<hr>

Blessings and regards,
Keith Toepfer

[41] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 04-22-2009 at 11:14 PM • top

Can anyone tell me where to find the Bishops’ article’s 47 footnotes?  Thanks.

Mark Brown

P. S. (I’m sure that Father Kennedy, Texanglican, Father Maxwell, and others, duly noted that the Bishops’ article was posted one day after Texas’ San Jacinto Day, itself a victory against oppressive hierarchy.  Could that have inspired some Texas bishops to sign on?)

[42] Posted by MarkBrown on 04-22-2009 at 11:22 PM • top

Man oh man . . . just in from some salt mines, and what a Great Day In The Morning!

Whoo hoooo!!!! 

Sweet, sweet, sweet.

Good to see these bishops pointing out, simply, historically, and accurately, that the PB doesn’t have the authority over dioceses that the PB desperately desires.

I must say—this is just solid gold.

And goodness—what a wonderful compliment to be called a cretin by the likes of Russell.  Like being called a fascist homicidal dicator by Pol Pot. 

Huge props to these fine bishops.

[43] Posted by Sarah on 04-22-2009 at 11:35 PM • top

Bishop Iker’s comment that this paper will be helpful in the defense against TEC lawsuits in Ft. Worth is probably the reason the TEC liberals are so hysterical about this.  Congratulations to the ACI.  This is a serious and constructive position paper which indicates that action can be taken.  For those in still-faithful TEC dioceses, this is a way forward, and for Ft. Worth and Pittsburgh, this is a vindication.

[44] Posted by Katherine on 04-23-2009 at 01:50 AM • top

Episcopal Cafe has this to say about it
<a > Episcopal Cafe </a>

Tobias Haller:

  The paper also makes the curious argument that because the dioceses (then states) that formed the original Episcopal Church were independent prior to entering into union with each other, they somehow maintain that independence. This neglects the significance of what union means. One might just as well say that because a couple were single before marriage that they retain their independence afterward. It can also be pointed out that the Constitution of the US also lacks reference to its own indissolubility—and uses the same word, union, to capture that concept, a concept later proved on the battlefield and in the courts.

Dare I a little analysis?

Yes, when prior to a marriage union, two people are single. And yes, after the marriage is dissolved, both are single again, retaining the same state they had before the marriage. I thought this was obvious, but I may have been hasty with that thought.

The US constitution is in fact, dissolvable. It has actually been dissolved, twice I believe. Once with the shift away from the Articles of Confederacy, and again during the Civil War. In each case, it was the individual states dissolved Union with the U.S.A. Interestingly enough, not once does a Union leader (to my knowledge, if anyone can prove me wrong, I’d be extremely grateful) talk about the illegality of the Confederate states removing themselves from the Union. It is not illegal for any state to remove itself from the union. It is however, against the interests of the American government, and the military she commands. Let me repeat that: In leaving the Union, Confederate states broke no laws. The Civil War was not fought over legal obligations, but of national interests.

There is just one question staring me in the face, so I need to ask it. What does either of these examples that he uses, apply to the disputes he is using them for, in a way that is beneficial to his case?

Yours in Christ,
jacob

[45] Posted by Jacobsladder on 04-23-2009 at 04:04 AM • top

jacobsladder, it has the appearance of an argument and appeals to the insufficiently historical.  The latter may be deadly to their case for “hierarchy” especially because there was no power to do anything to the Dioceses which formed the Episcopal Church of the Confederate States of America.  That history crap will rise up and bite on the derrier every time. Thucydides and all that!

[46] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 04-23-2009 at 07:44 AM • top

I hope and pray this statement means these signatories have decided to be Bishops and fulfill their vows to defend the Faith, the Gospel and the Church. 

May the other bishops, clergy, and laity, who are called by the Name of Jesus wrestle with their consciences and join the list, either as signatories or by proclamation. 

As it stands, the General Convention of TEC is poised to renounce Christ and His purposes and seems ready and willing to adopt and promulgate a man-made global pantheist syncretistic pagan political, economic, environmental, sexual idealogy that touts MDGs, political power and sexual/emotional/physical gratification over God’s Word and Worship (worship in the HOLY Spirit and in Truth).

[47] Posted by Floridian on 04-23-2009 at 08:22 AM • top

tj, Thank you for your comment at #31.  It’s a good reminder.  I’ve been pretty disengaged from some of the TEC struggles’ of late, focusing my blogging on devotional stuff at L&B;, but your words stuck a chord with me.  I’ve copied your exhortation to prayer along with the bishops’ names over at Lent & Beyond:  http://anglicanprayer.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/pray-for-the-communion-partners-bishops/

I’ve suggested using this resource for prayer for these bishops:
http://anglicanprayer.wordpress.com/2007/02/15/praying-the-scriptures-for-our-anglican-leaders/

I’m thankful for the stand each of these men has taken, and I WILL be praying for them.

[48] Posted by Karen B. on 04-23-2009 at 08:39 AM • top

What?!!! TEC ain’t hierarchical?!!! Better hide the Canons from the judges pronto then:

“CANON 14: Of General Provisions Applicable to This Title
Sec. 1.
Ecclesiastical Nature. Disciplinary proceedings under this Title are neither civil nor criminal, but ecclesiastical in nature and represent determinations by this Church of who shall serve as Members of the Clergy of this Church and further represent the polity and order of
this hierarchical Church. Clergy who have voluntarily sought and accepted ordination in this Church have given their express consent and subjected themselves to the discipline of this Church and may not claim in proceedings under this Title constitutional guarantees
afforded to citizens in other contexts.”

And once again for those that missed it:

”...this hierarchical Church…”

[49] Posted by laud on 04-23-2009 at 09:01 AM • top

I recall a visit in 2006 of the current PB to a clergy conference of the Diocese of Iowa.  It was in the Fall, after her election at the General Convention, and before the impending Primates’ Meeting at Dar es Salaam in early 2007.

There was an occasion for questions and answers from clergy and spouses (or partners).  She had made a comment at one point that the Primates clearly didn’t understand Episcopal polity, and that this misunderstanding (or lack of understanding) was at the root of the disagreements in the Communion.  So, I asked her the question:  What, precisely, do you think the Primates of the Communion do not understand about our polity?

She proceeded to give a very spotty history of the development of the Episcopal Church, that she seemed to suppose was not understood by the Primates of the other Anglican provinces.  The implication is, naturally, that they didn’t do their homework (bad students), or did and just didn’t get it (poor students).  Anyway, I probed a bit more for what precisely about that history was not clear to the Primates - she evaded.

Anyway, this to say that I hope she reads this missive from the ACI.  She would learn a thing or two.

And laud - if my grandmother called herself an Oldsmobile, that wouldn’t make her one.

Fr. Darin Lovelace+
Durant, Iowa
(Ankole Diocese, Province of Uganda)

[50] Posted by frdarin on 04-23-2009 at 09:11 AM • top

And Cuba is a democratic republic.

[51] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 04-23-2009 at 09:13 AM • top

#49 - you need to clarify.  Do you mean that Archbishop Williams can tell Schori what to do?  Interesting.  Or perhaps you mean hierarchy in the sense of priest to bishop?  Oh well, keep reading.  There is bound to be a pony in there somewhere.

[52] Posted by pendennis88 on 04-23-2009 at 09:17 AM • top

Ha! Tell it to the judge! Literally. Oh, sorry - some of you have and he didn’t listen.

[53] Posted by laud on 04-23-2009 at 09:20 AM • top

laud,

I think the Judge that matters has heard.

Fr. Darin Lovelace+
Durant, Iowa

[54] Posted by frdarin on 04-23-2009 at 09:23 AM • top

Ha! Tell it to the judge! Literally. Oh, sorry - some of you have and he didn’t listen.

#52 ...that is a very silly comment!

Technically, the courts have not yet decided arguments in references to dioceses desiring to disaffiliate… only cases of dissenting parishes, where the eclesiatical authority (diocese) is still part of TEC.

It will be interesting to see, for those of us who intend to stay in TEC, how the courts handle those cases where the diocese has voted to no longer be affiliated with general convention. As I read this paper it does not seem to me you should be so optimistic as to the outcome.

Blessings

Seraph

[55] Posted by seraph on 04-23-2009 at 09:35 AM • top

sorry #53

[56] Posted by seraph on 04-23-2009 at 09:35 AM • top

Laud,
So, one sentence in all of the Consitution and Canons overturns 200+ years of polity.

The problem is not that the Primates do not understand our polity.  The problem is that the people in charge of TEC do not understand their own polity.  They think that because they like catholic style worship, that they are a hierarchical church, just like the Roman Catholic church.  However, the C&C;and history of the Church clearly state that General Convention is a creature of dioceses, not the other way around.  A diocese must exist prior to being admitted to union with GC.  Laud, read that again.  A diocese must exist prior to union with GC.  One diocese splits into two or more.  Two or more combine into one, or one is created out of an area not served by a diocese.  General Convention does not direct two dioceses to combine.  General Convention does not direct one diocese to split.  General Convention does not order the creation of a new diocese.  General Convention recognizes that a diocese has split or dioceses have combined or a new dioceses has been created out of an area not served.  So, tell me again how the dioceses are subservient to the General Convention and how the PB has oversight of the diocesan bishops.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

[57] Posted by Philip Snyder on 04-23-2009 at 09:36 AM • top

#49 Laud
You might like to read the ACI piece of Mark McCall’s legal analysis ‘Is the Episcopal Church Hierachical’ here:
http://www.anglicancommunioninstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/is_the_episcopal_church_hierdoc.pdf
and don’t forget to read the demolition of Dator’s piece at Appendix B ‘Analysis of Dator Dissertation’ [pg71].

Dr Joan Gunderson gave a response to this paper but again Mr McCall responded showing that she just hadn’t read his paper, or at least not his footnotes here:
http://www.anglicancommunioninstitute.com/?p=283

Once you have read and understood them you might like to take them back to Simple Simon’s.

[58] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 04-23-2009 at 09:44 AM • top

#57 Yeah say it often enough and you’ll convince yourself. If you want to be in the AC then start acting ecclesiologically like every other Province. Do you think any of the GAFCON provinces would permit a diocese to sail off into the wild blue yonder without permission?What makes you so special?

[59] Posted by laud on 04-23-2009 at 09:52 AM • top

#58 Simply pasting the same post you’ve trawled in other places doesn’t make it any more convincing.
FWI - I have read them. Is that the best you can do?

[60] Posted by laud on 04-23-2009 at 09:54 AM • top

laud,

Honestly, do you think TEC has been “behaving ecclesiologically” like every other Province in the Anglican Communion?  There are a few provinces whose leadership might disagree.

Fr. Darin Lovelace+
Durant, Iowa

[61] Posted by frdarin on 04-23-2009 at 10:06 AM • top

Karen B. (48)-
Thank you.
Seeing myself quoted at Lent and Beyond is quite a humbling experience.
TJ

[62] Posted by tjmcmahon on 04-23-2009 at 10:09 AM • top

[49], [53], and [59] laud,

What egregiously pathetic excuses for reasoned argument. You sound as if you must be about 6 years old, which I must presume you are not.

If you had read and understood Mr. McCall’s paper referenced in comment number [58], just above, you would realize that the answer to the question posed by its title is a resounding “Yes!” The only problem is that the highest level of the hierarchy is the diocesan bishop. From your failure to grasp that point the only conclusion I may charitably draw is that you have not read and understood either the history of the Episcopal Church from its formation or the plain language of the Constitution and Canons.

You may think I am singling you out for particular criticism on this point. But the actions of the PB and the HoB over the past 18 months or so provide a seemingly inexhaustible source of embarassing examples showing that you have a small multitude of equally ignorant companions, many of whom would be called “Your Grace” were they in similar positions in England.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[63] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 04-23-2009 at 10:09 AM • top

I am very sympathetic to Bp Duncan’s cause, but despite good intentions, this ACI/CP piece will be more harmful than helpful in the Pittsburgh litigation.  ACI’s argument rests squarely on the inherent apostolic authority of the “ordinary”.  In other words theology. In fact, it concedes that the authority of the diocesan is not spelled out in the written constitution of TEC.  However, the judge in Pittsburgh (who unfortunately is not the sharpest knife in the drawer) will not entertain a theological debate about apostolic authority.  At most, he will look to the cannons of TEC and the diocese.  Although, he will probably defer to TEC GC as the final arbiter of what the cannons mean.  KJS will probably get herself a ruling from GC 09 that rules that dioceses can not leave.  Arguably the depositions of Duncan et. al already support that proposition. 
The path to victory for Pgh is on neutral principles.  Which by the way, contrary to popular opinion on Stand Firm, the Dennis cannon is deemed a neutral principle.
One very sad thing that the emails revealed is that Duncan was poorly served by his lawyers leading to the settlement with Lewis.  I thought back then that the settlement was a disaster and now mccall confirms this thought.  Maybe Duncan will be stripped of the property, the orthodox movement will suffer, grow closer to God and see more holiness.  Worse things could happen.

[64] Posted by reformedanglican on 04-23-2009 at 10:10 AM • top

laud,

In regards to the individual provinces, I suppose we would have to examine their individual constitutions on the level that ACI has done with TEC -  magisterially so, I might add.  I wouldn’t presume what you have presumed without that examination.

Fr Darin Lovelace+
Durant, Iowa

[65] Posted by frdarin on 04-23-2009 at 10:10 AM • top

#63 If you’re looking for reasoned argument you’ve come to the wrong place.
It seems all hope rests on Mr McCall. However, he has now shot all his arrows (and in the process scuppered +Duncan grin) and none have proved fatal. Don’t put all your eggs…
However, I do bow before the superior ecclesiological insight hydrographic surveying so evidently provides!

[66] Posted by laud on 04-23-2009 at 10:26 AM • top

Laud
#60

Simply pasting the same post you’ve trawled in other places doesn’t make it any more convincing.
FWI - I have read them. Is that the best you can do?


Actually all my own work and I have posted a similar post on Ruth Gledhill’s blog in response to someone who had also been reading some rubbish on Simple Simon’s also ignoring the rebuttals made by the ACI.

Keep posting such nonsense and I will keep posting the rebuttals.

#66

#63 If you’re looking for reasoned argument you’ve come to the wrong place.
It seems all hope rests on Mr McCall. However, he has now shot all his arrows (and in the process scuppered +Duncan ) and none have proved fatal. Don’t put all your eggs…
However, I do bow before the superior ecclesiological insight hydrographic surveying so evidently provides!

Well you might not have either understood what Mr McCall wrote or decided not to understand it but many of the rest of us have and he has far from shot his bolt as is evidenced by the time and effort you and others are spending to rubbish his work.

Is that the best you can do?

[67] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 04-23-2009 at 10:43 AM • top

The Anglican Curmudgeon has posted again Polity: 
http://accurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2009/04/to-whom-it-may-concern-ii.html

[68] Posted by Theodora on 04-23-2009 at 10:58 AM • top

ACI has shown a newly formed capacity for clarity, and I applaud them for it.

Based upon the sound conclusions of the report, any dioceses may withdraw from TEO at once. They simply do not have to yoke us any longer to the swamp creatures at 815.

The realization of the futility of reform of The Episcopal Church seems to be manifesting, and I urge the withdrawl as fast is possible. By all means move to a covenant, but in the mean time, set us free, my lords bishop! We can return to the Great Commission and assist in the Covenant process without the millstone of Episcopalian apostacy and heresy. It has been some 40 years since we could offer a valid Christian faith to the unchurched.

I even think we could dispence with +Bob Pittsburg’s province and move to a more general Provincial structure. I bet +Bob would go right along.

Get going.

[69] Posted by teddy mak on 04-23-2009 at 01:20 PM • top

We agree with the conclusion of the court in the Bennison decision that dioceses are autonomous under our Constitution and are not subject to hierarchical control by central bodies, whether they be the Presiding Bishop, the General Convention, the Executive Council or the courts of The Episcopal Church. Our dioceses work together as a matter of comity in fellowship and communion, but legally we remain autonomous bodies with distinct legal personalities.

I haven’t read all the above comments on this paper, but right there, that’s interesting.  Nice to know a diocesan court on the left side of the spectrum agrees with a central argument of the ACI and Communion Partners.

[70] Posted by Rom 1:16 on 04-23-2009 at 01:29 PM • top

It is heart warming to see bishops of the Episcopal Church defending the autonomy of the diocese. Now if more people would speak out in the behalf of the autonomy of the “diocese” in the new Anglican Church in North America. The ACNA draft canons weaken the autonomy of the ACNA “diocese” with the particular mode of episcopal selection that they advocate for existing “dioceses” and impose upon new ones. This is just one of a number of ways that the draft canons weaken diocesan autonomy.

I have posted two papers examining the draft canons on my web site Anglicans Ablaze drawing attention to a number of problems with the canons. The papers, “The ACNA Draft Canons: An Analysis of Their Provisions with Proposed Changes - Part I” and “The ACNA Draft Canons: An Analysis of Their Provisions with Proposed Changes - Part II,” are on the Internet at http://anglicansablaze.blogspot.com/2009/04/acna-draft-canons-analysis-of-their.html and http://anglicansablaze.blogspot.com/2009/04/acna-draft-canons-analysis-of-their_18.html

I have also posted a paper, “The ACNA Provisional Constitution: A Blueprint for Radical Innovation in Church Government,” examining the provisional constitution on the same website. It is on the Internet at http://anglicansablaze.blogspot.com/2009/04/acna-provisional-constitution-blueprint.html

[71] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 04-24-2009 at 10:14 AM • top

#1 I know Baurschmidt, yes he is signed onto CP but he is also a big DEposer for TEC. Has voted for deposing in all of them. TEC somehow has him in their pocket. Big company guy, institutionalist, he just happens to belong to he wrong company.

[72] Posted by Mtn gospel on 04-24-2009 at 11:19 AM • top

John Bauerschmidt was the rector of my mother’s parish in southeastern Louisiana before he was elected bishop of Tennessee. While he was opposed to the Robinson consecration and defended traditional marriage, he also defended the institutional Episcopal Church. When an AMiA church planter who had come to the area to start a new AMiA church paid him a courtesy visit, his response to the news of the establishment of an AMiA church in the area was that it would create confusion as to who really was Anglican and who truly represented Anglicanism. Bauerschmidt’s position was that TEC as the only official member of the Anglican Communion in the United States had the sole right to claim to represent Anglicanism. Since he became bishop of Tennessee, he has deposed priests as well as voted for the deposition of bishops, all of whom have broken with TEC.

Bauerschmidt, when he was the rector of my mother’s church, also refused to acknowledge the existence of a new church plant that the bishop of Louisiana had authorized in the area. The nucleus of the new church plant came from another parish in the area, which had experienced a church split but not related to national issues in TEC. The bishop had authorized the launching of this church plant to counter AMiA church planting efforts in the area.

[73] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 04-24-2009 at 12:14 PM • top

Can anyone explain to me the reasoning behind TEC’s being regarded as “the only official member of the Anglican Communion in the United States?”  Is there something officially in writing which confirms this?  Has the Communion officially confirmed it as fact, and if so, when was it confirmed?  What legal basis does TEC have for proclaiming themselves to be “the only official member of the Anglican Communion in the United States?”  Were they officially incorporated as such, and if so, where are the papers filed?

[74] Posted by Cennydd on 04-24-2009 at 12:32 PM • top

Cennydd,
Go to the Anglican Communion web site and whose name do you find on the list of provinces of the Anglican Communion—the Free Church of England - Evangelical Connexion, the Church of England in South Africa, the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church in North America? No. You find the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church. Now go to the Anglican Consultative Council web site and who do find listed as members of that body? The Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church. Both churches are recognized members of these organizations. Whether or you like it, that is reality. Do they represent global Anglicanism? No.

Does the Anglican Church in North America represent global Anglicanism? No. Its provisional constitution and draft canons do not make room for classical evangelical Anglicans under the canopy of the ACNA umbrella. In fact their wording excludes classical evangelical Anglicans from membership and ordained ministry in the ACNA and their organizations from mission partnership with the ACNA.

Now most of the members of this group of Anglicans and most of their organizations are supporters of GAFCON and a new province in North America. However, this fact did not keep the Governance Task Force from incorporating provisions in the provisional constitution and draft canons that do not make room for them under the canopy of the ACNA umbrella.

The provisions of the ACNA provisional constitution and draft canons also exclude Anglicans who value the autonomy of the diocese, including the right of the diocese to elect its own bishop or bishops, and a synodical form of church government. The draft canons urge the few ACNA founding entities that still elect their own bishop or bishops (the REC) to turn over the election of their bishop or bishops to the ACNA College of Bishops. They impose this mode of choosing bishops upon all new ACNA judicatories (or dioceses). The judicatory may nominate two or three candidates from which the College of Bishops may choose the bishop of the judicatory. As the draft canons are worded, the College of Bishops is not required to choose one of these candidates. It can nominate and choose its own candidate.The draft canons do not prohibit it from doing so. If the College of Bishops rejects a judicatory’s nominees, the draft canons do not make any provision for the judicatory to nominate additional candidates. This mode of choosing bishops and other provisions in the draft canons greatly weaken diocesan autonomy and substitute a more authoritarian form of church in the ACNA form the synodical form of church government used in most Anglican provinces.

Sounds like TEC doesn’t it? TEC spokesman are always talking about how much room there is under the canopy of the TEC umbrella but we all know what that means. There is room for you if you accept its theological and moral innovations and do not promote and practice what you believe, just hold your beliefs as one set of opinions among many. In the case of the ACNA there is room for you if you give up your beliefs and principles as a classical evangelical Anglican and abandon your values as an Anglican who has a high opinion of the autonomy of the diocese, the election of the bishop or bishops of the diocese by the diocese, and a synodical form of church government.

[75] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 04-24-2009 at 06:06 PM • top

Thank you, AnglicansAblaze, but I am very familiar with the organization of the Anglican Communion.  I ask by what legal authority can TEC can assert themselves as the sole authentic representation of Anglicanism in this country.  They can’t!  At the moment, they ARE the sole entity representing the Communion in this country, but remember:  It is the Primates of the Anglican Communion who determine who is in communion with THEM, while Rowan Cantuar determines who is in communion with HIM.  He is not the Communion.  And since at least four dioceses have come under the jurisdiction of the Province of the Southern Cone, they too are associated with the Communion….my own Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin being one of them.  Therefore we are as officially Anglican as TEC is.  The day is coming when we will be recognized by most of the Primates.

[76] Posted by Cennydd on 04-24-2009 at 06:46 PM • top

Cennydd,
I stated what John Bauerschmidt stated. I did not say that I agreed with him. You are trying to put words in my mouth. You asked where the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church were recognized as official representaives of Anglicanism. I told you. I am not going to argue with you whether San Joaquin is Anglican. I personally do not define “Anglican” in terms of recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Primates of the Anglican Communion.

[77] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 04-24-2009 at 09:44 PM • top

With regard to the discussion in the last several comments, I think that there is a very good summary of the problem within Anglicanism. It was written in about 1844, by an Anglican priest. Herewith:

The most obvious answer, then, to the question, why we yield to the authority of the Church in the questions and developments of faith, is, that some authority there must be if there is a revelation given, and other authority there is none but she. A revelation is not given if there be no authority to decide what it is that is given. . . . If Christianity is both social and dogmatic, and intended for all ages, it must humanly speaking have an infallible expounder. Else you will secure unity of form at the loss of unity of doctrine, or unity of doctrine at the loss of unity of form; you will have to choose between a comprehension of opinions and a resolution into parties, between latitudinarian and sectarian error. You may be tolerant or intolerant of contrarieties of thought, but contrarieties you will have. By the Church of England a hollow uniformity is preferred to an infallible chair; and by the sects of England an interminable division. Germany and Geneva began with persecution and have ended in scepticism. The doctrine of infallibility is a less violent hypothesis than this sacrifice either of faith or of charity. It secures the object, while it gives definiteness and force to the matter, of Revelation.<sup>1</sup>

My experience of almost 40 years within TEC (mid 1969 until October 2008) has convinced me that, for many, but clearly not for all, in the Episcopal Church, the authority to which the writer refers has, at least during my tenure, become the individual parishioner. And this has been true to a considerable degree on both sides of the theological divide (divides?). It makes me begin to think that the underlying flaw is not in our church, but in ourselves. And in thinking that thought, and pondering its implications, may lie the solution to the dilemma.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer
<hr>
<sup>1</sup>—Quoted in the blog article Benedict’s Vatican II Hermeneutic, by Edward T. Oakes, S.J., on Friday, March 13, 2009. (http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=1336)

[78] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 04-25-2009 at 01:56 AM • top

#78 Martial Artist
I would go further and say it is a problem all people and churches face when they take their eye off the ball, or the cross in this case.  It is as true historically of those churches with an “infallible chair” at their centre as of latitudinarians as the fickle Newman would have it.  If you look at the Old Testament it is the constant story of the cycle of God’s wandering people returning to Him in penitence, becoming comfortable, relaxing and thinking outside the box, and before you know it the Asherah Poles are being put up in the Temple!

I think we have to remember our history and read it carefully along with what we know of God as He reveals himself in the Bible.  We are constantly called back to this as God calls His people back to him.

The CP Bishops and ACI in this Statement have done the same with the the history and polity of their church, examining the reality of what has happened in the past and the evidence of the church’s polity rather than what people would like to be the case, or is expedient.  I have heard lots of invective and dismissiveness towards it but no rigorous attempt to actively engage with arguing another view.

Such argument as I have read from sceptics seem to come down to “the CP bishops’ statement is wrong because we feel and want it to be wrong”.

[79] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 04-25-2009 at 05:33 AM • top

[79] Pageantmaster,

You will hear no contrary argument from me on those points. I have long recognized that we are all prone, if we take our eyes off of the cross, and off of our Lord, to recapitulate the sins of our initial mother and father—Adam and Eve in the Garden—by which I mean wanting to be our own God. That seems, unfortunately a part of our humanity that we humans have great difficutly effectively restraining, with the possible exception of some of the (canonised) saints. It seems to be the complement of, or at least a companion to, our free will.

It is one of the reasons that I think the tone of many comments, and the effects of their actions, can tell us much about the “rightness” or “wrongness” of our leaders points of view, irrespective of which leaders we might be considering (i.e., political, religious, etc.).

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[80] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 04-25-2009 at 10:03 AM • top

FWIW, this link is a letter from the provincial secretary treasurer of the Scottish Episcopal Church, on behalf of its bishops, to Gregory Cameron, suggesting an alternate approach to the covenant.  They envisage separate dioceses being able to covenant with Canterbury, even if the provinces don’t.
http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/docs/ResponsebyScottishEpiscopalChurch.pdf

[81] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 04-25-2009 at 09:46 PM • top

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