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BREAKING: Bishop Steenson’s Statement to the House

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 • 10:23 am


A STATEMENT TO THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

NEW ORLEANS, 25 SEPTEMBER 2007


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Please let me begin by thanking you for your gracious hospitality to me during the time I have been privileged to belong to this House.  I appreciate your careful and deliberate efforts to embrace the practical values of Christian community.  At no point have I thought to myself, “I don’t want to be in communion with these people.”  Quite the opposite:  I have deeply valued these relationships and sincerely hoped that they might model a way of remaining in communion for all the Church.

But communion, Christian communion, is more than human relationships, as essential as these are.  My conscience is deeply troubled, because I sense that the obligations of my ministry in the Episcopal Church may lead me to a place apart from Scripture and Tradition.  I am concerned that if I do not listen to and act in accordance with conscience now, it will become harder and harder to hear God’s voice.  Already I have sought out our Presiding Bishop for her counsel and prayers, and now I come before you, asking that you give me the necessary canonical permission to resign as ordinary of my diocese.  I should like to do this by the end of this year, and afterwards, in proper order, to be released from my ordination vows in the Episcopal Church.

I want to emphasize my gratitude for the gift of ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church and for the many blessings received along the way.  Especially am I thankful for the people of my diocese and the high honor of serving them both as canon to the ordinary and bishop.  It is indeed painful to lay down this ministry, but I realize that an effective leader cannot be so conflicted about the guiding principles of the Church one serves.  I hope my decision will encourage others who believe they can no longer remain in the Episcopal Church, to respect its laws and to withdraw as courteously as possible for the sake of the Christian witness.

Our spring meeting this year at Camp Allen was a profoundly disturbing experience for me.  I was more than a little surprised when such a substantial majority declared the polity of the Episcopal Church to be primarily that of an autonomous and independent local church relating to the wider Anglican Communion by voluntary association.  This is not the Anglicanism in which I was formed, inspired by the Oxford movement and the Catholic Revival in the Church of England.  Perhaps something was defective in my education for ministry in the Episcopal Church, but, honestly, I did not recognize the church that this House described on that occasion.

This sent me to reflect further on that crucial text from Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium: “Many elements of sanctification and of truth can be found outside the Church’s visible structure.  These elements, however, as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, possess an inner dynamic toward Catholic unity.”  If this is true, then what we say and do as Anglicans ought to be directed toward the goal of reunification with the Catholic Church.  The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission strove valiantly to bring this about, and it once seemed that Anglicanism might offer itself, even sacrificially, for the sake of authentic Christian unity.  It is much to be regretted that its 1998 report, “The Gift of Authority,” has been largely forgotten in our present conflicts, especially its call for the re-reception of the historic ministry of Peter within Anglican life.

In light of this, I have tried to understand the choices that are now before us:
It seems to me that the Episcopal Church has made a decisive turn away from those extraordinary efforts to preserve the Communion, such as Archbishop Rowan’s proposal last summer in “The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today.”  It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Episcopal Church has rejected the discipline of communion but wants it only on its own terms.

Others in the Anglican Communion have taken it upon themselves to establish a separate provincial structure to challenge the Episcopal Church, some even arguing for a re-formed Anglicanism without reference to the See of Canterbury.

The Windsor Report calls for a future Anglicanism governed by strengthened instruments of communion and a covenant, but the strong medicine of primacy, so necessary to Catholic order, is missing from its prescriptions.

In none of these choices do I find that “inner dynamic toward Catholic unity.”  It doesn’t appear that one can get there from where we are now, at least not corporately, considering Anglicanism’s present configurations.

From time to time it seems necessary for some to embark on these personal journeys as a reminder that the churches of the Reformation were not intended to carry on indefinitely separated from their historical and theological mooring in the Church of Rome.  I believe that the Lord now calls me in this direction.  It amazes me, after all of these years, what a radical journey of faith this must necessarily be.  To some it seems foolish; to others disloyal; to others an abandonment.  I once thought that it would be a simple matter of considering the theological evidence and then drawing a rational conclusion that surely would be self-evident to reasonable people.  But faith is also a mystery and a gift, and this ultimately becomes a journey of the heart. 

One day in the fall of 1978 I came home from classes at Harvard Divinity School to tune in the evening news and see John Paul II step on to the loggia of St. Peter’s for the first time.  It was a quo vadis? moment, and I remember sensing for the first time the importance of being in communion with Peter.  Over the years I have been especially conscious of those moments of peace and joy experienced when hearing and reflecting on the words of the two most recent successors of St. Peter.  My old teacher, Dr. Mark Noll, writes in Is the Reformation Over? of his surprise at reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church and finding himself stopping to pray.  That is exactly it, the experience of giving your heart to Jesus Christ again because you have encountered his words anew, now embodied in his ecclesial Body at its source.  I do want to assure you that I have tried to follow the Ignatian principle of discernment, to make no important decision while in a place of spiritual desolation.  I have especially sought to give no place to that anger which darkens understanding and clouds judgment.

With all my heart, I ask for your forgiveness for any difficulty this may cause and for anything I may have said or done that has failed to live up to the love of Christ.  I hope that you will not see this as a repudiation of the Episcopal Church or Anglicanism.  Rather, it is the sincere desire of a simple soul to bear witness to the fullness of the Catholic Faith, in communion with what St. Irenaeus called “that greatest and most ancient Church” (Adv. Haer. 3.3.2).  I believe that our noble Anglican tradition (“this worthy patrimony”) has deep within it the instinct of a migratory bird calling, “It is time to fly home to a place you have never seen before.”  May the Lord bless my steps and yours and bring our paths together in His good time.

- The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey Steenson


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Comments:

As the first comment here, I want commenters to know that I have met the Commenatrix for the second time.  She has come to New Orleans today and will be monitoring this thread.  I have asked her specifically—as all the warnings were given yesterday—to show even less mercy then she usually does. 

If your fingers are hovering over the keyboard to 1) urge people to fly to Rome, 2) urge people to fly to Geneva, 3) urge people to fly to a Common Cause entity, 4) inform people that they are cowards if they leave, or 5) attack in a personal way any person . . . do not do it.

Pause, before you post a comment, and consider this link:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/1825/

And then consider this link:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/4739/

[1] Posted by Sarah on 09-25-2007 at 10:33 AM • top

I cannot and could never agree with him for swimming the Tiber, but what a gracious and gentle whitness in the face of what is happening in our church.  Here truely is a humble man of God.

RSB

[2] Posted by R S Bunker on 09-25-2007 at 10:37 AM • top

Beautiful, humble, gracious, heartfelt and host of other acclaimations! May the Lord Bless you Fr. Steenson!

[3] Posted by TLDillon on 09-25-2007 at 10:38 AM • top

I have no intention of flying anywhere for now.  However, Steenson’s statement here:

“If this is true, then what we say and do as Anglicans ought to be directed toward the goal of reunification with the Catholic Church.”

is one I completely and utterly agree with, if and when a reformed Papacy and Curia can come into fruition.

Randall

[4] Posted by BCP28 on 09-25-2007 at 10:40 AM • top

I am concerned that if I do not listen to and act in accordance with conscience now, it will become harder and harder to hear God’s voice.

Well said. If anything should motivate a man in his position… this is it. If only more heard the same voice.

(Disclaimer - this is a call for others to answer the same impetus… not necessarily toward the same end result)

[5] Posted by Positive Phototaxis on 09-25-2007 at 10:42 AM • top

My heart soars in gratitude for such a man to have been on my path.  I know that God is in charge, no matter what.  God bless you, Jeffrey, and thank you for your love, shepherding, and faithfulness.

[6] Posted by wportbello on 09-25-2007 at 10:42 AM • top

Beautiful and full of grace, God Bless you Bishop.
Discernment AND a firm decision based on principles, the essence of leadership.
I pray your personal witness can in some way impact the rest of the HOB.

[7] Posted by Rocks on 09-25-2007 at 10:43 AM • top

This was so beautiful—it actually made me cry and sad as all this is I have never read anything here that made me cry before.

Whether you agree with his conclusions or not, his Christian witness, his integrity, and above all, his humility, stands out so clearly in this address.

[8] Posted by Catholic Mom on 09-25-2007 at 10:44 AM • top

It must be an awkward time for Bishop Steenson.  I have pretty strong inclinations towards the Catholic Church and went to Catholic school as a kid.  Yet, it feels different, even as I have such tremendous admiration for the Catholic Church.  The veneration of the saints and honoring the Mother of God is beautiful, but what I would miss would be the “can-do” sense of church that one gets from being a Protestant—that your church is what you and your fellow parishioners make of it.  Hard to put my finger on it.

For anyone making the journey intellectually, one need not disregard the Anglican pronouncement that “Rome hath erred.”  In the Renaissance, I believe Martin Luther got it dead on right.  Rome was out of control at that point.  The question is whether the Catholic Church has reformed itself such that those of us in the Anglican tradition who are proud of having left it in the 16th century but who genuinely pray for the One Holy and Apostolic Church can say that we are called now, finally, to return.

Everyone has different answers to that.  I do believe that the Catholic Church has reformed itself tremendously since that peculiar time period and should be recognized as such.

[9] Posted by Reason and Revelation on 09-25-2007 at 10:47 AM • top

This is rather wonderful.
He could not have done what he is doing more charitably or more humbly, more eirenically, than he does it here.
Truly, a lesson to all.

[10] Posted by badman on 09-25-2007 at 10:50 AM • top

He was a superb bishop at every CA meeting and I will miss hard work and caring heart.  We have known this was coming but rejoice for him if it brings the kind of clarity of mission and purpose God is calling him to.  For those of us seeking the reformed catholic vision of missionary anglicanism, our work remains in God’s capable hands. To him be glory and honor. God bless you, +Jeff.

[11] Posted by zebra on 09-25-2007 at 10:51 AM • top

As we each struggle with our personal decisions regarding our own future in TEC, it is hard for me to imagine that there is a place for me within TEC if there is not a place for a man like Bishop Steenson.

[12] Posted by BillS on 09-25-2007 at 10:53 AM • top

He makes some very good strong and valid points and I hope that this might be a wake up call to some of our Bishops.  I just don’t think our HOB’s gets it.  They seem lost.

[13] Posted by Zoot on 09-25-2007 at 10:53 AM • top

“I hope my decision will encourage others who believe they can no longer remain in the Episcopal Church, to respect its laws and to withdraw as courteously as possible for the sake of the Christian witness.”

“Respect it’s laws.”  How different this all would be, if more of those who wish to leave would do this.

[14] Posted by C.B. on 09-25-2007 at 10:53 AM • top

Would that all of our bishops understand AND practice the Ignatian rules of discenrment.  Perhaps, if that had been the case, Bishop Steenson would not have had to make the difficult decision he has been forced to make. 

I would urge everyone to follow his example (that is not to say his path) and put into practice the Spiritual Exercises before making any decisions, remembering to “watch for the tail of the serpent,” as Ignatius said.

[15] Posted by revrj on 09-25-2007 at 10:54 AM • top

A gracious statement.  Clearly there is as much a sense to move to Rome as to leave Anglicanism, and yet ... that ECUSA would have devolved to the point of driving this type of man out is a condemnation.

[16] Posted by Phil on 09-25-2007 at 10:54 AM • top

A hundred years from now, this is the single statement that will be remembered from this meeting of the HOB—if we are lucky.

[17] Posted by Kevin Babb on 09-25-2007 at 11:33 AM • top

And how different this all would be, C.B., if more of those who can’t live with Christian moral teachings would do likewise.

[18] Posted by Phil on 09-25-2007 at 11:34 AM • top

I’ve seen the damage that can be done here by commenters, but it is the HoB whose reaction I pray for - I hope they can pause in their arrested development syndrome long enough to have ears to hear. Steenson may be the only grownup there.

[19] Posted by Enough on 09-25-2007 at 11:35 AM • top

God’s blessings be upon Bp Steenson. 

However, my concern is for those he’s leaving behind in the Diocese of the Rio Grande.  Who will be their next bishop? 

One shudders to think . . .

[20] Posted by DaveW on 09-25-2007 at 11:36 AM • top

This is a marvelously sincere and humble statement—two characteristics which we have not come to expect from bishops in the General Convention Church.

We should remember that after long, quiet pastoral discussions he advised St Clements that “now is the time” and signed the parish’s manumission agreement just before his own departure, foiling 815’s plans to carry out its threats of deposition and lawsuits—a generous gesture of pastoral concern and (dare I call it) integrity even as he left for Rome.

God bless and keep him.  There were far too few like him in the HoB; I cannot help but grieve that now there is one less.

[21] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 09-25-2007 at 11:36 AM • top

A truly gracious and well reasoned statement that shows the depth of his charachter and faith.  My heart is saddened to see this godly example leave his see, but I pray he will find comfort in the arms of Mother Church.  May God bless him and his former Diocese.

[22] Posted by Eastern Anglican on 09-25-2007 at 11:36 AM • top

As one in a hostile (ideologically and, sadly, personally) diocese, and with a congregational majority believing that “We can keep our heads down and the troubles won’t come here,” I will probably have to write a similar letter at some point in the near future (although Rome won’t be my destination).  May I write with the clarity and gentleness of Bp. Steenson.

[23] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 09-25-2007 at 11:43 AM • top

Bishop Steenson is surely the finest bishop in the Episcopal Church I have ever know.  I am grateful for his clarity, faith, and humility.  I agree with all the comments above.  Truly he represents the best in our tradition.  God bless you, Jeffrey, and give you peace.  Ken

[24] Posted by Kenneth Semon on 09-25-2007 at 11:50 AM • top

As is always the case I stongly disagree with CB’s comments and with the Bishop on the point of adhering to the “laws” of the Episcopal Church. TEC’s laws are man made - if one truly believes that TEC is violating God’s laws then that trumps TEC’s Cannons.  A resignation is an honorable way out for one who is conflicted by oaths that one has made - and I in no way mean to bismirch the Bishop.  However if one does believe that TEC is apostate - then a Bishop can (and I would argue should) remain to protect his flock and/or sheppard them out of TEC.

[25] Posted by chips on 09-25-2007 at 11:51 AM • top

Thank you for posting this. I hope he has copies with him when he gets to Holy Cross. We will be there to worship, and to fellowship, once again.

Our God brought the two of us to the same place 37 years ago at St. Gregory’s, Deerfield, and then again here in the DRG. His will is that we one day will all be One at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, if not pray God, before.

[26] Posted by Bob Maxwell+ on 09-25-2007 at 11:56 AM • top

As one who swam the Tiber away from Rome and not toward it (with sadness, but no regrets), I also recognize the imperative to work toward unity and I applaud +Steenson’s gracious words.

There will be further steps of reunification, and the ones that will matter will be theologically honest, eschewing the Bruno-esque/Clintonesque doublespeak.

[27] Posted by alfonso on 09-25-2007 at 11:59 AM • top

Chips,  I concur.  We need a Joshua in this battle for the soul of the church, and Steenson isn’t the man.  Pray for DRG that God will raise up a strong “Leader” from among their midst.

[28] Posted by Donal Clair on 09-25-2007 at 12:11 PM • top

Hi :
Didn’t the last ECUSA bishop to do this come back a year later??? Rome is quite overated, it is intereting to see the two way street these journeys have become…some go to Peter’s cathedra , others flee from it…

At no point have I thought to myself, “I don’t want to be in communion with these people.” Quite the opposite: I have deeply valued these relationships and sincerely hoped that they might model a way of remaining in communion for all the Church…

This is quite a gracious statement, and if true, should be food for thought to those clamoring for scism….

I hope my decision will encourage others who believe they can no longer remain in the Episcopal Church, to respect its laws and to withdraw as courteously as possible for the sake of the Christian witness

How about this piece of advise…..???sure would take care of some of the litigation issues…

I wonder what has been a worse witness to Christianity and harmed the most real people….+VGR’a attemp’s to live a life of openness as a gay man, priest and bishop ...and ECUSA’s approval of it despite the dissaproval of many in Christendom…...or the Roman Catholic Church ‘s unequivocal condemnation of homosexual behaviour while dozens of its priests covertly molested teenage boys….often protected by their bishops??

blessings
seraph.

[29] Posted by seraph on 09-25-2007 at 12:13 PM • top

God bless and keep this good Bishop and all who strive to hear God’s voice and respond to Him.  I strongly suggest that anyone who has not read the Spiritual Exercises by St. Ignatius Loyola take time to do so.  The advice in them is applicable to all decisions made by a Christian not just religious ones.

Sarah I would I hope ( though I probably erred in the past) be so insensitive as to urge flight to Rome.  However could I humbly request that y’all send along your hymnals to us?  If I can not rightly solicit for more godly converts such as Bp Steenson. At least I can plead for more godly music for those parishes trapped in Haugenland.

[30] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 09-25-2007 at 12:14 PM • top

+Steenson - This is a beautiful letter. May peace of Christ surround you and may the Lord establish your every step on your path to Him.

[31] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 09-25-2007 at 12:17 PM • top

Seraph,

Leaving aside your blant disregard for the spirit of Sarah’s instructions, the bishop you are referring to is Clarence Pope who did indeed go to Rome in the early 90s only to go back to ECUSA. He returned to Rome permanently last month.

[32] Posted by Conchúr on 09-25-2007 at 12:41 PM • top

That should read “blatant”

[33] Posted by Conchúr on 09-25-2007 at 12:43 PM • top

I’m impressed with Bishop Steenson’s witness ... particularly acting so as to preserve his ability to hear and harken to God’s voice.  I’ve reached a different conclusion regarding whether the RC version of papal primacy is in fact the appropriate instrument of unity or whether it is a diminishing of conciliar apostolicity (and thus of catholicity) but I pray that the church of Rome will suffice to carry him as closely to God as he is able to walk in this mortal, tragically wounded life.  May our Lord grant Bishop Steenson and all of us Life Eternal, now and always.

[34] Posted by Pernoctate on 09-25-2007 at 12:47 PM • top

I am sorry did not mean to disregard her instructions…My post encouraged no one to leave anywhere nor stay….
I made an observation that there is a two way street when it comes to conversions…. even in the case of Pope…permanent you say.. well we will have to wait and see…!
AND as far as Rome…admittedly that body has been riddled with scandal IMHO of a worse sort than ECUSA’s.
blessings
seraph

[35] Posted by seraph on 09-25-2007 at 12:48 PM • top

Seraph, somehow your posts remind me of the old “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” story about the mom who didn’t tell her children, in her list of warnings of things not to do, not to eat the daisies - she thought they would have at least that much sense.

[36] Posted by oscewicee on 09-25-2007 at 12:52 PM • top

Don’t like his solution, but what a forthright and honest communication.  Can any of those left in the HOB take a queue from the honesty here….

[37] Posted by midwestnorwegian on 09-25-2007 at 12:58 PM • top

Bishop Steenson’s gracious and heartfelt address stirs the emotions but is, to me, unconvincing.  I read a lot about tradition, history, church writings and deficiencies in Anglicanism.  I see little about Scripture and Scripturally-based doctrine.  For some he may have made his case.  For me, he didn’t.  In the end, he is repudiating (maybe unintentionally) many of the key distinctives and teachings which came out of the Reformation and which shaped Anglicanism.  I believe this kind and gentle man is misguided.

[38] Posted by PapaJ on 09-25-2007 at 12:58 PM • top

Now, at almost 80 (March 2008), I have found God’s word
inviolate at an American Baptist Church.  You can read
the whys and wherefore at http://www.profpatrickkimball.blogspot.com.
This is after 28 years a Roman Catholic, 49 years a stalwart
Episcopalian, 2 years with a struggling Anglican church plant.
Mindful of Sarah’s admonition, all I can say is that each of us
has to make a decision based on what we believe God is saying
to us.  At heart, we are Christians, pure and simple as that
designation may be.  I wish the good bishop personal peace
in the choice he has made.

[39] Posted by profpk on 09-25-2007 at 12:59 PM • top

DaveW writes:

However, my concern is for those he’s leaving behind in the Diocese of the Rio Grande.  Who will be their next bishop?

DaveW, recall that Bishop Steenson was nominated for the episcopate by petition by a representative of Via Media Rio Grande, with the hope that he would be a bishop who could work together with the entire diocese. Hopefully, the diocese can come together to find another wise pastoral soul who can work with all of his in the Diocese of the Rio Grande for the good of Christ’s Church.

God Bless, Bishop Steenson.

[40] Posted by PatrickB on 09-25-2007 at 01:04 PM • top

This is very sad—- and not a very good sign of things to come. I pray +VGR will follow suit, resign rather than create more controversy, and move to the Metropolitan Community Church… I do not say this in unkindness, but TEC has lost a wonderful bishop, who, given years and experience, could have added so much to the Glory of God, and all because of another’s unwillingness to step down for a greater cause than his own sexuality. This may be the root of all of our problems in TEC, an unwillingness to set aside our own agendas, listen for God’s voice, and act for the greater good (in the catholic, or universal sense, not just TEC). Bishop Steenson’s departure (and I don’t think he has been a bishop long), should send a chill down the spine of the HOB, waking them up to the reality of our situation…

[41] Posted by FrVan on 09-25-2007 at 01:13 PM • top

A great Anglican penned the words below before converting to the Roman Church. He was about as brilliant and as holy a soul as Anglicanism has ever produced. Dr. Steenson reminds me so much of the Oxford don from whose personal struggle and agony the Bishop of the Rio Grande can take comfort.

Bishop Steenson, thank you for giving us all something many of us never thought we would get from a meeting of the House (“Community”) of Bishops:  a clear testimony to the Lord Christ and a faithful and personal dedication to his priestly prayer. Vaya con Dios.

Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till the night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile, which I
Have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path, Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Savior, lead me home in childlike faith, home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.


Grace and peace be with you, Bishop Steenson - Thank you for your faithful witness.

[42] Posted by Dan Crawford on 09-25-2007 at 01:15 PM • top

I hope that you will not see this as a repudiation of the Episcopal Church or Anglicanism. Rather, it is the sincere desire of a simple soul to bear witness to the fullness of the Catholic Faith…

Yet, it IS a repudiation of TEC that it cannot answer or support the desire of a simple man to witness the received Catholic Faith to the world. I pray TEC will hear and respond.

Some fear for those left behind in the Diocese of the Rio Grande. But if Bishop Steenson is truly following in God’s way, they will be provided for. God’s plan is complete, and it might be in spite of TEC but they WILL be provided for..

May the Lord himself and all the Saints watch over this Bishop and bear him home. +

In faith, Dave

[43] Posted by dpeirce on 09-25-2007 at 01:17 PM • top

I believe it is possible to express disagreement without using the tongue as a carrier of scandal.  It is possible to bless rather than curse and yet express disagreement.  If this is not possible, perhaps the conversation needs to be “reframed” as Bishop Steenson has done.  Can anyone think it fruitful witness to hold a competition for what fellowship most offends?  When we cannot bless, perhaps it is time to recall an older Ignatius (of Antioch) and his principle of silence.  Or the statement attributed to St. Francis:  “Preach the Gospel always, and when you have to, use words.”  Or another brother, Lao Tsu, connected to us by invisible ties that God has not yet revealed to us:  “In action, watch the timing.”  I must say that Steenson’s action seems to be an *effective* witness.

I recall the words of Aleksei Khomiakov in a little essay called “The Church is One”: 

“The unity of the Church follows necessarily from the unity of God, for the Church is not a multiplicity of persons in their personal separateness, but the unity of God’s grace, living in the multitude of rational creatures who submit themselves to grace.”

No doubt there is much more that can be said but this is not the time nor the place.  But recall Romans 14:4 - “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?  It is before his own master that he stands or falls.  And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand.”

[44] Posted by Pernoctate on 09-25-2007 at 01:21 PM • top

Bp Steenson says,

I hope my decision will encourage others who believe they can no longer remain in the Episcopal Church, to respect its laws and to withdraw as courteously as possible for the sake of the Christian witness.

I admire this statement and I pray that it gives a great deal of pause to the House of Bishops.  I am in a tangle, however; I hate what has been happening in ECUSA and I do not think I can remain great deal longer.  But I keep thinking that we are in this mess because those who brought the horrifying changes DID NOT respect the laws of the Church, but ramrodded those changes down our throats.  I know that their refusal to obey the law does not excuse me from obeying it, but in the long run, God’s Word must be obeyed, and if I am going to exercise any sort of ministry in the coming years, it cannot be in ECUSA, but it will have to be somewhere—and I know that Rome is not the community in which I could serve.

[45] Posted by AnglicanXn on 09-25-2007 at 01:22 PM • top

It is interesting to speculate that Gene Robinson could resign and give a great victory to the revisionists. For they would then very plausibly get a pass for their “status quo-keeping” response to the Primates. This would free them to work their poison for another ten years both within the U.S. and world-wide. Fortunately, I think the chances are close to nil for that to happen.

[46] Posted by alfonso on 09-25-2007 at 01:36 PM • top

I have been Catholic for 20+ years, and this man knows more about it than I do, not only in his head, but in a heart that apparently overflows with charity, the first and foremost virtue! God be praised for such a man.

[47] Posted by Words Matter on 09-25-2007 at 02:03 PM • top

Regarding Sarah’s admonition, could there ever be a time when someone would be justified in encouraging his sisters and brothers to leave the Episcopal Church, and if so, what more would ECUSA need to do to make that justified call?

[48] Posted by Bill McGovern on 09-25-2007 at 02:23 PM • top

I crossed the Tiber, going the opposite direction, years ago.  After wandering in a secular wilderness for decades, and then seeking God in a dry and brittle protestant denomination…that moment that I first stepped into an Episcopal church was coming home to a vibrant and rich liturgy that my soul had missed at its deepest level (which is why this present difficulty causes me so much grief).  As one touched by the Roman clergy’s ugliest failing and one disaffected by Roman theology’s manifest confusions, I find it difficult to grasp how a man so inteliigent, humble, gracious and obviously committed to Jesus Christ can travel across the river in the direction of Rome.  But his clarity of speech and strength of character are monumental.  Vaya con Dios Jeffrey Steenson

[49] Posted by ambsadr4Christ on 09-25-2007 at 02:38 PM • top

I know some number wounded by the touch of some Episcopalian clergy’s “ugliest sin” and many disaffected even from Christianity by theology committed by Episcopalians…BUT these kinds of statements simply aren’t helpful.  Have we not grown past condemning Christianity because we see some Christian who does not live up to his beliefs?  That is not much different from condemning those over 20 for being “hypocrites”.  Or condemning and fearing black skinned peoples because we met some who scared us.  There have been institutional failings in the Roman church but also in TEC and in all the world.

We need to discern matters more clearly than blanket statements that say more about ourselves than others.  Anecdotal “evidence” speaks in this self-referential way.  It might be sometimes nice to be passionate about our topics although it is often simply emoting and attention grabbing.  What is more important is learning to put together and express clear reasons for what we believe.  Clarity need not be ideologically systematic but it should not serve deception. 

The passive-aggressive nature of this last communication from HoB is a masterpiece of not telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Unfortunately, the timely exposure of +Bruno’s meaning for “none without my permission” rather cast the deception into a bright glare.  Moreover, the timely exposure of +Steenman’s apology does likewise ... but the light that shines is upon the first and from the second.

[50] Posted by Pernoctate on 09-26-2007 at 01:56 PM • top

The Roman clergy, like all men, have numerous ugly failings.  But Rome has substantial unity as to what they are, and that they are in fact failings.

[51] Posted by Ed the Roman on 09-26-2007 at 02:35 PM • top

GREG: Did you catch the statement of certain bishops about Bishop Steenson’s speech? This needs to be posted separately (IMHO).
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_90451_ENG_HTM.htm

Especially rich was the ending: “We believe the commitment of The Episcopal Church to the love and care of all persons, including the gay and lesbian people in our midst, will, as the years go by, be evidence of our deepest commitment to Christ.” Yes, this can be read neutrally as a deep truth, but in the current *context* it is a slap at Bishop Steenson.

[52] Posted by Gator on 09-26-2007 at 03:34 PM • top

It appears that +Steenson’s grace is met with hardened hearts.  I hear at least two TEC bishops are proposing presentment.  I also hear KJS has paid a visit to +Steenson’s diocese along with her pit bull Beers to threaten St. Clement’s with cancellation of their buyout and departure if they go to anywhere in the Anglican Communion.  Seems 815 sees the Anglican Communion as competition these days.  So what is a Presiding Bishop doing descending upon dioceses to utter dark threats?  Does she now preside not only over meetings but over bishops?  I predict +Steenson will be made to feel some of the flames of martyrdom before he departs.  He will be made to suffer and his flock with him.  What kind of body does this to its own?

[53] Posted by Pernoctate on 09-29-2007 at 06:42 AM • top

What a graceful way to withdraw after you realize you cannot go against your principles just to stay in a position of power!! To some who really have real principles, it is very difficult to hang on to power for the sake of it!! I really appreciate and admire the Bishop for his frank and matter of fact letter thanking everyone for their support and his decision to resign as an ordinary of his diocese!! If anything, people will only respect him all the more for his graceful withdrawal from his position as a Bishop rather than hang on there against his principles!! bible

[54] Posted by brown erik on 04-04-2011 at 11:54 AM • top

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