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Video: Follow-Up with Bishop Steenson at September 2007 HoB Meeting

Thursday, September 27, 2007 • 8:18 am

The conversation was far-ranging, again, and included discussion about the Episcopal church’s leadership, the diocese of Rio Grande, strategic action for those still within the Episcopal church, how those who have chosen to leave the Episcopal church are making their decisions about where to go, and of course, the long-standing differences between Protestants and Roman Catholics.

I believe that Bishop Steenson’s decision to leave the Episcopal church and his choice to convert to Roman Catholicism is an important story, and one that needs to be heard. Bishop Steenson graciously agreed to conduct a followup interview, and so on Tuesday morning we sat down again to discuss many topics.

The conversation was far-ranging, again, and included discussion about the Episcopal church’s leadership, the diocese of Rio Grande, strategic action for those still within the Episcopal church, how those who have chosen to leave the Episcopal church are making their decisions about where to go, and of course, the long-standing differences between Protestants and Roman Catholics.

As everyone who reads StandFirm knows, I am a happy [though embattled] Reformed Anglican—I am a Protestant and am glad to be so. I did not seek out Bishop Steenson in order to debate or argue with him about issues, but because I believe that he has a story to tell that is of interest to all Christian believers. I hope that you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed getting to know him a little.

I believe that Christians of all stripes need to wrestle in a healthy manner with these issues, and true ecumenism means being together as much as we are able to on matters of the truth of the Christian gospel, which is The Great Story, and as clear, honest, frank, and loving as we can be about our important differences.

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What a gracious man. He is probably the most persuasive convert to Catholicism, mainly because he’s so sure of himself, he’s not trying to intellectually argue everything, rather expressing his beliefs from his heart. I also see why Dio Rio Grand elected him, for his concern for those under his charge.

May the Lord be with him and Dio Rio Grand in this time of transition.

[1] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 09-27-2007 at 09:35 AM • top

Please allow me to remind the readers of some sage advice from Ms. Hey.

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.

My travel to the Crescent City has left me travel weary, so please do not try my patience.

[2] Posted by commenatrix on 09-27-2007 at 09:52 AM • top

Wonderful interview and my hopes and prayers are with Bishop Steenson and I wish him nothing but God’s grace, happiness, & growth in Him who is calling him to be faithful to our Lord’s calling to be somewhere else. God’s speed Bishop Steenson.
ODC in San Joaquin

[3] Posted by TLDillon on 09-27-2007 at 10:33 AM • top

Wow.  What a great video.  Sarah, you are a very good interviewer.  Thanks for conducting and sharing this interview.

[4] Posted by Connie Sandlin on 09-27-2007 at 02:43 PM • top

I listened very carefully to what he had to say regarding the ecumenical movement with Rome, Lutherans, and other main line denominations.  What I think I’m hearing is,  that presently, none really care to talk seriously to us.  Would others, who might have more information, please comment?

[5] Posted by Dee in Iowa on 09-27-2007 at 03:02 PM • top


+Steenson is indeed a lovely person; we in the DRG know that well.

However, the truth remains that he has left us in a very bad position at a very bad time.  Would that +Steenson had heeded the parts of his vows that called for him to protect his flock, that that was to be his principle role in becoming a bishop.

I do feel sympathy for him and understand his anguish because I know that we all face decisions involving the often conflicting demands of man’s rules and God’s rules. 

Our roles in defending the bridges in the DRG are obviously made more difficult because +Steenson is leaving, and many more than we hoped for will become casualties of war.

Yes, I feel betrayed.


[6] Posted by GeneB on 09-27-2007 at 03:12 PM • top

GeneB, if Bishop Steenson is truly following God’s leading then you also are included in that plan. If you yourself follow God’s leading you will be provided for. It might not be in the way you would prefer, but you WILL be provided for.

In faith, Dave
Viva Texas

[7] Posted by dpeirce on 09-27-2007 at 04:31 PM • top

I agree with the good bishop that the people of the diocese will find and elect a good successor. The question is, will the revisionist activists grant consents to the choice of DRG?

[8] Posted by Eren on 09-27-2007 at 05:19 PM • top


Thank you.  I pray that you are correct, and I will continue to do so.

However, I think of +Steenson’s letter to the clergy and its emphasis on TEC’s laws and his own anguish - not an emphasis on his duty as a shepherd.

Thanks again,

In Christ,


[9] Posted by GeneB on 09-27-2007 at 05:23 PM • top

Gene, the seminal part of that letter and in his statement to the HoB are these words:
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.

+Jeffrey reemphasized the importance in following his conscience again as he spoke to us at clergy conference. We each must do this ourselves.

We also are blessed with numerous solid, experienced leaders here in the Rio Grande and, while we do the necessary grief work and say our affectionate ‘Adios!” to +Jeffery and Debbie, be assured that the orthodox Anglicans will be organizing and communicating with one another.

Looking and listening to KJS by the clergy helped illuminate the issues that divide us in TCGC. Frankly, I had planned not to be there. Both +Jeffery and Fr. Kelley asked us to stay. Several asked me if I wanted to spend the afternoon with her. I replied saying, “I have a two word response. ‘No’.”

I stayed and prayed for +Jeffrey. While I will write more later, I’m exhausted, I was able to level in a 1x1 with KJS and my former deacon told me later she wished she had her camera with her because “it was a real Kodak moment.” Thank you Lord Jesus.

[10] Posted by Bob Maxwell+ on 09-27-2007 at 10:04 PM • top

Sarah, thank you.  That was a wonderful interview and I learned a lot from his responses to your questions.

He is right.  To become Roman Catholic you have to settle in your mind the authority of the See of Peter.  That was something I could not do.

You wondered about the decision process that those who leave Anglicanism use.  I spent almost 6 years after the Episcopal Church left me (I didn’t change, it did) looking for a new home.  I was concerned that the Protestants couldn’t agree on baptism, communion, even the Lord’s prayer because some “debt” and some “tresspass”.  I knew that in the garden Jesus had prayed, “let them be one as We are one.” and wondered if the answer to that prayer had been “yes”, “no”, or “not now.”  It sure didn’t look like “yes” from where I stood.  So I looked to what the earliest church said and practiced.  The earliest churches did not recognioze a supremacy of Rome over other sees.  Doctrines such as the immaculate conception had been introduced to the west in more recent years.  I was eventully led to the Eastern Orthodox which has remained basicly unchanged for 2000 years.

I believe that Bishop Steensen is correct in following his conscience to leave the Episcopal Church.  I only wish he had looked a little farther east.  But regardless, those who follow Jesus as the only way, truth, and life are our brothers and sisters in Christ!  Even if they remain Anglican - or Baptist - or some other denomination.

[11] Posted by Anam Cara on 09-28-2007 at 05:41 AM • top

What do you think the chances are that we might get a resolution together for the convention coming up next month?  I would like to get an up or down vote saying what our response should have been from the HOB at least from the Diocese of Upper SC.  You would think Dorsey would like to have that happen if he really is a “Windsor” Bishop.

[12] Posted by Nospin on 09-28-2007 at 01:10 PM • top

I have a comment in response to Dee’s question wondering why Catholics (and possibly Lutherans) don’t exactly welcome Anglicans into their fold. The first reason is because Catholics do not want to be accused of poaching. After Vatican II, the emphasis was on ecumenism, which meant not “stealing” other churches’ parishioners. In many cases, priests have actually discouraged people wanting to convert, suggesting instead that they go back and think more about what they are trying to do.

The second reason is because becoming Catholic is a bigger commitment than becoming, say, an Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist or Baptist. The RCIA classes are longer, more involved, and one can’t just raise his or her hand and say ‘I do.’ The Church wants people to understand exactly what they are doing because later rejection of the church Christ founded would be unthinkable.

Hope this helps!

[13] Posted by Jeremiah on 09-28-2007 at 07:01 PM • top

Bob Maxwell,
My condolences and prayers.

I said before that I am fully convinced DRG, even only from a church political view, there will be a new “conservative” bishop elected.  I can only imagine the variations on the one question from all the reasserters (even moderate reasserters if that is an animal) in the diocese of the “conservative” nominees.  You know what I mean?

In any case, my word to you is to get people in the diocese to start praying now not just for a reasserter bishop, but for a full complement of solid nominees!  You know the problem, if you’ve been paying attention, of how many reasserter clergy, invited to be a nominee, have refused.  Bishop material is out there, but it will take a little Holy Spirit shaking-of-the-trees which includes exhorting the people in the pews to not be afraid to submit names.  I would start with a Standing Committee or Search Committee decision to simply place the names of all eligible priests within DRG into the hat until they choose not to continue in that pool.

(Alarm off)  you and your diocese have my prayers and the prayers of so many others at this time, and for the time to come.

[14] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 09-28-2007 at 09:49 PM • top

A while back, after Fr Anderson left TECusa, I asked him - well, it was more a challenge - how an organization (the American Anglican Council) that was intended to be an umbrella group WITHIN TECusa could have as its president someone who was no longer an Episcopalian.  At that time I was only vaguely aware of any change in purpose and mission statement, which he brought to my attention.  At the least or perhaps the most, the change included the provision to assist those “orthodox” still within TECusa with helpful resources, but now (with the change) to be that resource from OUTSIDE TECusa.  The makeup of the board reflected that change.  The presidency could also reflect that change.  Fine.

My corollary question to Canon Anderson was how the AAC could continue as the kind of support group to which Bp Steenson was referring here in his interview.  He and I are not the only ones to have voiced that concern.  I believe Chris Seitz did the same when he thought it would be nice if there were a new blog that was dedicated to the issues of reasserters from within, presumably without the distractions from those who have already left.
Perhaps, Canon Anderson, if you are reading this you might chime in.  I’m sure more people than I have asked you the same question, of sorts.
What is important to note here in this interview with Sarah is that Bp Steenson, who has been in the forefront of TECusa reasserter life for several years and knows all the players and associations, recognizes that need.

[15] Posted by Rob Eaton+ on 09-28-2007 at 10:58 PM • top

  Both of these interviews were excellent, very professional.
Would you say that +Steenson and you just had a great rapport or is this how he is generally?

[16] Posted by Rocks on 09-29-2007 at 01:20 AM • top

Dear Sarah,
The fact that you gave press time to the Catholic perspective with which you do not agree speaks volume of the quality of your character, integrity and desire to seek the truth.  Thanks to you for this gift towards ecumenism and honest disucssion.

[17] Posted by morningsideanglican on 09-30-2007 at 10:34 PM • top

Question for anyone who might be able to give a good answer: for a hardcore Anglo-Catholic, what is the number ONE impediment that keeps them from going to Rome? Is it the papacy as it’s currently configured (i.e. post-Vatican I infallibility)? Put another way, what would have to CHANGE in Rome for an A-C to immediately see no problem—to accomplish that ecumenical merger that Bishop Steenson was talking about? Dave

[18] Posted by DavidSh on 10-04-2007 at 11:51 PM • top

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