Wednesday, April 23, 2008

And now I'm 33 years old

My birthday was on Monday, April 21st (Feast of St Anselm of Canterbury). I don't usually mention birthdays to others, partly because I'd feel like I'm soliciting gifts and partly because its frankly not such a big deal once you leave the nest. But this one has held a special fascination for me since I was turning 33, which is the age that tradition tells us Jesus was when he died on the cross.

I'm not sure what spiritual insight may come from this, but it has been on my mind. Here are some of the things I've noticed so far, now that I am the same age.

The first thing that occurred to me is that the Jesus I see depicted on the cross in paintings, icons, and sculpture seems a bit younger than 33 to me. He often looks more like 25 or even younger. I'm sure that part of it is the fact that he would naturally be more fit than I am, having to walk all the time and probably having a much healthier diet. But still, he usually looks younger to me. The depictions of Jesus in some Eastern icons in the Pantokrator style seem closer to the actual age. It is an older Jesus who should be depicted on the cross.

The second thing that occurred to me is that it is about this age when one one begins to notice that the body will eventually wear out. It's not that you feel old, but just that you become aware of the aging process--not as "growing up," but as "growing old." Depending upon the person, you may have a little gray here or there (I've never seen Jesus with any gray hair, but I suspect he had some). You also notice from time to time that there are some things you just couldn't do like you used to--a little more chubby, a little less agile, a few gray hairs, a wrinkle here and there, a twinge in the back, an ache in the knee, etc. This is the kind of body that was nailed on the cross.

The third thing that occurred to me is that with that growing awareness that you aren't a kid anymore, you loose that feeling of invincibility that comes with youth. Every now and then, you are given a moment of pause that you would not have had earlier. More and more, your thoughts turn to long-term and middle-aged concerns. One might expect this departing sense of youthful vigor and invincibility to leave one feeling run-down and debilitated, but this is far from the case. Youthful vigor is replaced with endurance and wisdom. Invincibility is replaced with the strength of moral courage. This is the Jesus who was nailed to the cross and bore the sins of the world.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Guardians, encouragers, examples to the flock

Click here to listen to my sermon from 13 April 2008.

Jesus Christ is now alive. He has risen from the dead. And he appearing numerous times to many people over a period of forty days, when, in the sight of many, he ascended into heaven. The Bible tells us he has taken a position of honor and authority there—that he is “seated at the right hand of the Father” until he returns in glory. But let’s not let the metaphorical language about “being seated” be misleading in leading us to think that there is anything passive about Jesus’ life and ministry to this very day. Indeed, if you think back with me, you will notice that the scripture lessons since Easter Sunday have been talking about ways in which Jesus is now living and active in his church.

First, we heard the story of doubting Thomas in which Jesus appeared to the apostles, breathed on them, and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Jesus is still absolving people from their sins through his ministers. And secondly, last Sunday we heard the story of Jesus appearing to two disciples along the road to Emmaus. He led them in a very enlightening Bible study and then at supper, he was made known to them in the breaking of bread. Jesus is still among us in his proclamation of the Scriptures and through the blessed sacrament of his Body and Blood.

Today, which has often been called, Good Shepherd Sunday, we are reminded that Jesus is still ministering to us through his appointed shepherds. Now there are several ways that Jesus shepherds his people in his church, but chief among them is through his ordained shepherds, the bishops. As the church spread in those early days, Apostles would ordain elders in the local churches and leave one of them in charge. That is, the apostle would appoint one of the elders in the local church to be his apostolic successor as overseer (or “bishop”) of the flock. We see this intimate identification of bishops and shepherds in Peter’s letter, “you have now returned to the mena kai episcopon—the shepherd and bishop of your souls.”

You might have recognized in the verse there the word episcopon or episcopos as the Greek source of the name of our church, the “Episcopal Church.” Now it is kind of strange to say THE Episcopal Church as if we were the only one for there are seven other Episcopal Churches in the Anglican communion. Incidentally, 15 use the name “Anglican”, 3 use the name “Catholic” and 19 use no description in their official name at all (e.g. Church of England, Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean).

What is an episcopal church? It is any church with an Episcopal structure or polity, a church gathered around an episcopos—an “overseer” or “bishop”. Of course, that means there are all kinds of non-Anglican episcopal churches. The Russian Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Lutheran Church of Sweden are all episcopal churches. They are congregational families gathered around a bishop—like the patriarch of a clan. This has been the pattern in the church from the earliest days.

From St Ignatius, who followed St Peter as bishop of Antioch, we read, “Wherever the bishop appears, let the congregation gather. Just as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” St Cyprian, bishop of Carthage in Northern Africa wrote about 150 years later, “You should know that the bishop is in the church, and the church is in the bishop. If anyone is not with the bishop, he is not in the church.” And in the next century, an early church manual, the Apostolic Constitutions, noted: “As to a good shepherd, let the layman honor him, love him, and reverence him as his leader, his high priest of God, and as a teacher of piety. For he that hears him, hears Christ, and he that rejects him, rejects Christ.”

The Bishop is a representative or vicar of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. In today’s readings, I see three tasks of a shepherd in the church of God. As we read in today’s gospel, Jesus reminds us that the first responsibility of any shepherd is to guard and protect the flock. A shepherd is a provider, a protector, a source of strength and encouragement. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” The bishop carries a shepherds staff as a reminder that he is to gently guide the flock and also chase away the wolves.

Jesus said that a shepherd “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” The shepherd has to ensure that there are safe, green pastures for the flock to graze. If the pasture becomes barren or dangerous, he leads them to a new pasture. The shepherd watches out for the wolves in sheep’s clothing who bark out half-truths and false doctrine to scatter the flock.

It is no wonder that in Paul’s letter to Titus (1:9), we read, “Since a bishop is entrusted with God’s work . . . He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” The historic Anglican ordinal picked up on that language, with the new bishop vowing to banish all error in doctrine.

“The thief comes only to steal, to kill, and destroy,” Jesus said. “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.” The role of guardian stands out as a chief responsibility for successors to the apostles. In the 1979 Prayer Book, we read, “A bishop in God’s holy Church is called to be one with the apostles in proclaiming Christ’s resurrection and interpreting the Gospel, and to testify to Christ’s sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings. You are called to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church.” At the creed, the theme continues, “We call upon you, chosen to be a guardian of the Church’s faith, to lead us in confessing that faith.” Notice how the NRSV translates episcopon in today’s epistle as “guardian.”

In addition to being a guardian, a bishop is to be an encourager and provider, so that not only will the flock be safe, but they will be able to grow together. And one way that a shepherd provides for the flock is to encourage each member of the flock to take an active role in their common life.

This is what we see going on in our first reading, from the book of Acts. In this passage, the apostles sense a need for someone to care for the widows. They make a strategic decision; rather than stretch themselves thin, they decide to ordain deacons. “Select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the Word.” From the very beginning, we see that the role of the overseer is to be an involver and encourager of the brethren, not unlike the way Jesus went about doing things.

The ordination rite for a bishop in the Prayer Book expressed it well. The bishop-elect is asked, “As a chief priest and pastor, will you encourage and support all baptized people in their gifts and ministries, nourish them from the riches of God’s grace, pray for them without ceasing, and celebrate with them the sacraments of our redemption?” Notice how the response is worded. The bishop-elect replies, “I will, in the name of Christ, the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.”

Guardian, encourager, and let us not forget, example. A shepherd is an example to the flock. This is how he is to exercise leadership. What the bishop should exemplify above all is the selfless love of Christ. St Peter wrote in his first letter, “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.”

It was cold and dark that day in 1012 in Greenwich. Danish invaders wandered around the camp where the archbishop of Canterbury was held in chains. Things were not going their way. They had captured the poor monk at Canterbury, when the city was seized. But their prize had not paid off. And they were tired of waiting.

They needed funds—for food, supplies, for mercenaries. They had sent word to his flock—their bishop Alphege was being held for ransom, but this bishop was not paying off. The hours wandered on. A cold drizzle began as Easter week in England drew to a close. The Vikings started drinking and complaining. But then word came from Canterbury—the Christians there, burdened by poverty and war were not willing to pay the ransom.

They were not willing, only because Alphege himself had ordered them not to. The Vikings broke out in a riot. This English monk had foiled their plan. Cries went out in the camp for to get rid of the bishop. But another warrior in the camp raised his voice on behalf of their captured cleric.

One of the Viking commanders, Thorkell the Tall, tried to save this Christian. The commander offered most of his own possessions to pay the ransom. Evidently Alphege had made his impression on this Viking, for not only was Thorkell moved to save him, but like Alphege, he was unwilling to deprive his own people in the process.

The offer was declined. The drunken Danes were no longer interested in money. The warriors wanted revenge for this great insult. The mob began to pelt him with bones, until one of them smote Alphege on the head with an axe, and he fell dead to the ground. The Church celebrates the feast of Alphege on next Saturday, April 19th. And when I heard the story, I said to myself, Now that is a bishop; that is a shepherd. For like the Good Shepherd, Alphege laid down his life for the sheep. A Good Shepherd knows that the sheep come first.

Guardians, encouragers, examples to the flock. Today we give thanks that the risen Lord is living and active among us in so many ways, but most especially in the shepherds he has provided to guard, encourage, and be examples to the flock. God entrusted us to them as his own people, to lead us through Jesus Christ, the gate of the sheep, to eternal heavenly pastures. Thank you, Lord, for faithful shepherds.

Rector's Forum

The Rector held a forum last Sunday on the recent House of Bishops meeting and the attempted depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox. You can listen to the audio here.

Below are some relevant background materials: the applicable canons and articles including Conger's Living Church article first noting the irregularity. Also, some parishioners asked about resources to stay informed. Please take note of the "Church News and Comment" links near the top of the right hand column on this blog.

TITLE IV, CANON 9: Of Abandonment of the Communion of This Church by a Bishop

Sec. 1. If a Bishop abandons the communion of this Church (i) by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship of this Church, or (ii) by formal admission into any religious body not in communion with the same, or (iii) by exercising episcopal acts in and for a religious body other than this Church or another Church in communion with this Church, so as to extend to such body Holy Orders as this Church holds them, or to administer on behalf of such religious body Confirmation without the express consent and commission of the proper authority in this Church; it shall be the duty of the Review Committee, by a majority vote of All the Members, to certify the fact to the Presiding Bishop and with the certificate to send a statement of the acts or declarations which show such abandonment, which certificate and statement shall be recorded by the Presiding Bishop. The Presiding Bishop, with the consent of the three senior Bishops having jurisdiction in this Church, shall then inhibit the said Bishop until such time as the House of Bishops shall investigate the matter and act thereon. During the period of Inhibition, the Bishop shall not perform any episcopal, ministerial or canonical acts, except as relate to the administration of the temporal affairs of the Diocese of which the Bishop holds jurisdiction or in which the Bishop is then serving.

Sec. 2. The Presiding Bishop, or the presiding officer, shall forthwith give notice to the Bishop of the certification and Inhibition. Unless the inhibited Bishop, within two months, makes declaration by a written statement to the Presiding Bishop, that the facts alleged in the certificate are false or utilizes the provisions of Canon IV.8 or Canon III.12.7, as applicable, the Bishop will be liable to Deposition. If the Presiding Bishop is reasonably satisfied that the statement constitutes (i) a good faith retraction of the declarations or acts relied upon in the certification to the Presiding Bishop or (ii) a good faith denial that the Bishop made the declarations or committed the acts relied upon in the certificate, the Presiding Bishop, with the advice and consent of a majority of the three senior Bishops consenting to Inhibition, terminate the Inhibition. Otherwise, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to present the matter to the House of Bishops at the next regular or special meeting of the House. If the House, by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote, shall give its consent, the Presiding Bishop shall depose the Bishop from the Ministry, and pronounce and record in the presence of two or more Bishops that the Bishop has been so deposed.


Deposition Votes Failed to Achieve Canonically Required Majority
March 15, 2008, by George Conger

Slightly more than one-third of all bishops eligible voted to depose bishops John-David Schofield and William J. Cox during the House of Bishops’ spring retreat, far fewer than the 51 percent required by the canons.

The exact number is impossible to know, because both resolutions were approved by voice vote. Only 131 bishops registered for the meeting March 7-12 at Camp Allen, and at least 15 of them left before the business session began on Wednesday. There were 294 members of the House of Bishops entitled to vote on March 12.

When questioned about canonical inconsistencies during a telephone press conference at the conclusion of the meeting, Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina said the bishops had relied on advice provided to them by canonical experts, and did not examine canonical procedure during plenary debate prior to the votes to depose bishops Schofield and Cox.

Bishop Schofield was consecrated Bishop of San Joaquin in 1989. Last December, he presided over a diocesan convention at which clergy and lay delegates voted overwhelmingly to leave The Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone. Bishop Cox was consecrated Bishop Suffragan of Maryland in 1972. He resigned in 1980, later serving as Assisting Bishop of Oklahoma from 1980 to 1988. In 2005, Bishop Cox ordained two priests and a deacon at Christ Church, Overland Park, Kan. Christ Church affiliated with the Anglican Church of Uganda after purchasing its property from the Diocese of Kansas.

Both bishops were charged with abandonment of communion. The procedure for deposing a bishop under this charge is specified in Title IV, canon 9, sections 1-2. The canon stipulates that the vote requires “a majority of the whole number of bishops entitled to vote,” not merely a majority of those present. At least a dozen bishops voted either not to depose Bishop Schofield or to abstain, according to several bishops. The number voting in favor of deposing Bishop Cox was reportedly slightly larger than the number in favor of deposing Bishop Schofield.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was questioned about the history of the canonical proceedings against Bishop Cox. At first she said during the press conference that she had not sought the canonically required consent of the three senior bishops of the church for permission to inhibit Bishop Cox pending his trial. However Title IV, Canon 9, sections 1-2 do not describe a procedure for deposing a bishop who has not first been inhibited.

Consent Never Sought

Later in the press conference, Bishop Jefferts Schori clarified and extended her remarks, saying she had been “unable to get the consent of the three senior bishops last spring. That’s why we didn’t bring it to the September meeting” of the House of Bishops. One of the three senior bishops with jurisdiction confirmed to The Living Church that his consent to inhibit Bishop Cox was never sought.

In 2007, Bishop Cox sent a written letter to Bishop Jefferts Schori, announcing his resignation from the House of Bishops. Since he was already retired, he did not have jurisdiction, and therefore unlike Bishop Schofield, his resignation did not require consent from a majority of the House of Bishops. A trial of the 88-year-old retired bishop was not mandatory.

Bishop Cox also does not appear to have been granted due process with respect to a speedy trial. Once the disciplinary review committee formally certifies that a bishop has abandoned communion, the canons state “it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to present the matter to the House of Bishops at the next regular or special meeting of the house.” The review committee provided certification to Bishop Jefferts Schori on May 29, 2007. His case should have been heard during the fall meeting in New Orleans last September. When asked about the apparent inconsistency, Bishop Jefferts Schori said initially she did not include Bishop Cox’s case on the agenda for the New Orleans meeting “due to the press of business.”

Title IV, canon 9, section 1 requires the Presiding Bishop to inform the accused bishop “forthwith,” in other words immediately, after the review committee has provided a certificate of abandonment, but Bishop Jefferts Schori did not write to Bishop Cox until Jan. 8, 2008, more than seven months afterward.

The two-hour business session at which the deposition votes were taken ran slightly longer than originally scheduled. First a resolution was read followed by prayer from the chaplain. A period of silence followed the prayer. After the silence was broken, the bishops discussed the resolution in small table groups followed by plenary discussion. When it appeared that everyone who wanted to speak had done so, the voice vote was taken. Each resolution was read and voted on separately.

Call for review after trial ‘flouted Church rules’
March 27, 2008, by George Conger

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori failed to follow the procedural rules governing the trial of Bishop William Cox for “abandonment of the Communion” of the Episcopal Church an investigation by The Church of England Newspaper has found.

In a March 12 press conference, Bishop Schori stated she had not followed rules governing the requirement that the 88-year old retired bishop be granted a speedy trial, that he be informed of the charges against him in a timely fashion, and that the consent of the church’s senior bishops be solicited by the Presiding Bishop to suspend him from office pending trial. A subsequent investigation by CEN in conjunction with The Living Church magazine revealed an insufficient number of votes to convict were cast also.

The Bishop of Central Florida has called for a review of the proceedings, and the president of the church’s appellate court of review for the trial of bishops is understood to have agreed to look into the proceedings.

Elected suffragan bishop of Maryland in 1972, Bishop Cox was translated to Oklahoma in 1980 as assistant bishop and retired in 1988. In June 2005, Bishop Cox performed ordinations at Christ Church, Overland Park, Kansas on behalf of Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda. Earlier that year Christ Church negotiated an amicable parting of the ways with the diocese of Kansas and had joined the Ugandan Church. Bishop Cox returned the following month to Overland Park to perform confirmations on behalf of Archbishop Orombi.

The bishops of Kansas and Oklahoma filed a complaint against Bishop Cox for performing Episcopal acts without the permission of the local diocesan bishop. In March 2006 the Church’s Title IV review committee found there was sufficient evidence to bring Bishop Cox to trial, however, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold declined to prosecute.

Following the 2006 election of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop the charges were resubmitted. Bishop Cox, then 87 years of age, declined to contest the matter telling his attorney he was too old to fight, and by letter resigned his membership in the House of Bishops on March 28, 2007.

In his letter of resignation Bishop Cox said that although he was resigning his membership in the House of Bishops and was not resigning his orders and would be joining the Province of the Southern Cone and would continue his episcopal ministry in that branch of the Communion.

Bishop Schori forwarded the letter to the Title IV review committee asking it to determine whether by this letter, Bishop Cox had “abandoned the communion” of the Episcopal Church.

On May 29, 2007 the Title IV review committee issued its certificate and report under Title IV Canon 9 that Bishop Cox had “abandoned the communion.” On Jan 8, 2008 she informed Bishop Cox that he had been determined to have abandoned the communion of this church. She gave him 60 days to recant, or else he would be brought before the next house of bishops meeting and be deposed. Offering no defence, Bishop Cox was deposed on a voice vote of bishops attending the final day of the meeting.

The procedures laid out in Title IV, Canon 9, sections 1 and 2 (the abandonment canon) to depose a bishop state that after the Title IV review committee issues a certificate of abandonment the Presiding Bishop “shall” “forthwith” notify the accused. The Presiding Bishop then “shall” seek the consent of the three senior bishops with jurisdiction to inhibit the accused bishop, and trial “shall” take place at the “next” meeting of the House of Bishops.

At a March 12 press conference Bishop Schori outlined the procedural history surrounding the Cox case. She said the Title IV review committee had “certified [Bishop Cox] several years ago. … before her time.” She added, however, that “it was never brought to the House of Bishops for action.”

She then said she “did not send it to the three senior bishops” and the House of Bishops “did not consider it in September” at their meeting in New Orleans with the Archbishop of Canterbury due to the “the press of other business.”

Several minutes later, Bishop Schori said she wanted to “clarify” her earlier statements. She said she had been “unable to get the consent of the three senior bishops last spring. That’s why we didn’t bring it to the September meeting” of the House of Bishops.

Contacted after the press conference, one of the three senior bishops, who declined to be named, stated he had never been asked by Bishop Schori to consent to Bishop Cox’s supension.

The Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor, Mr. David Booth Beers, declined to address the issues surrounding Bishop Cox’s case in a March 15 statement released through the Episcopal Church’s press office. However, he stated that his “position” was that there had been a legal quorum to depose the two bishops on March 12.

Canon lawyer, retired Bishop William Wantland of Eau Claire told CEN the deposition of Bishop Cox was “void” for failing to achieve the required “majority vote of all bishops entitled to vote” and because the “canonical procedure was simply not followed.”

In defence of the proceedings against Bishop Cox, Indianapolis Bishop Catherine Waynick wrote that while the “canons may need to be clarified, what does not seem to need clarifying” was that “William Cox willfully violated the canons by functioning where he had been specifically asked not to.”

However, the charge brought against Bishop Cox was not violating diocesan boundaries. In 2006 Bishop Griswold dropped the charges proffered against Bishop Cox for the Kansas ordination, raising the question whether the bishops convicted him of a crime not before the bishops for adjudication.

The charge was “Abandonment of Communion,” Bishop Wantland said. The punishment for violation of diocesan boundaries “is a totally different charge. In my opinion, this is what he should have been charged with, and the procedure under Canon IV. 9. 2 was totally inappropriate and without any justification,” he said.

On March 15, Central Florida Bishop John W. Howe urged the Episcopal Church’s three senior bishops to review the case, saying he was under “no illusions that the outcome of the despicable vote to depose John-David [Schofield] and William [Cox] will be reversed, but at least we might want to obey the canons.”

On Maundy Thursday, Bishop Howe repeated his call for justice to those falsely condemned, noting “I recall that another person of influence washed his hands of a difficult matter on this same weekend some years ago.”

Bishops demand to know litigation costs
March 31, 2008, by George Conger

Two retired American bishops have called upon the national church in New York to disclose the amount of money the Episcopal Church is spending on litigation with breakaway congregations.

The call for financial accountability from retired Bishops Williams Wantland of Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Bishop Maurice Benitez of Texas comes amidst tightening finances for the Episcopal Church, which has also announced it would no longer pay the stipends of overseas missionaries.

On March 7, the Episcopal Church’s mission personnel officer announced that missionaries sponsored by the national church would no longer receive stipends or reimbursement for travel expenses.

Lay missionaries would now receive the same pension benefits as ordained missionaries. However, this rise in costs plus increased health and conference fees coupled with a “reduction in our overall budget of 5 percent in 2008 due to budget constraints” had forced the church to cut off missionary stipends.

The cuts will take immediate effect for new missionaries, while those on current assignment will see the change when their “Letters of Understanding” are renewed.

The suspension of the stipendiary missionary programme follows a Feb 29 open letter from the two retired bishops seeking an accounting for the estimated several million dollars spent on litigation by the national church offices. The two bishops wrote their latest request was their third attempt to get an answer.

The first answer the bishops received, they said, was that the money spent on lawyers to fight the church’s property battles was “a secret.” A second request elicited the response that “no funds for litigation have come from either the Pension Fund or Trust Funds. However, [the national church] refused to disclose the amounts being expended on litigation.”

In their Feb 29 letter, the bishops stated the national church had no legal right to withhold financial information. Saying “it’s a secret” was “not acceptable. If there is nothing wrong with these expenditures, then why do you refuse to reveal the amount?” Bishops Wantland and Benitez asked.

Presiding Bishop charged with defaming Bishop Cox
April 2, 2008, by George Conger

Lawyers for the octogenarian bishop deposed by the American Church have written to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori charging her with defaming their client.

Questions over the legality of the March 12 proceedings have riled the American Church since the legality of the decision to depose Bishop John-David Schofield of San Joaquin and retired Bishop William Cox was questioned by The Church of England Newspaper and the Living Church.

On March 27 the Diocese of South Carolina issued a formal protest to the “failure to follow the Canons” and asked Bishop Schori to “revisit those decisions”, “refrain” from appointing a new bishop for San Joaquin and to “make every effort to follow our Church Canons in all future House of Bishops decisions.”

“Because we feel so strongly that the Canons were not followed in the depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox, we must respectfully refuse to recognize the depositions, and we will not recognize any new bishop who may be elected to replace Bishop Schofield, unless and until the canons are followed,” South Carolina said.

The Bishop of Central Florida last week called for a review of the decision, raising the matter with Bishop Clifton Daniels III of East Carolina, the president of the church’s court of review for the trial of a bishop. Though Bishop Daniels declined to respond to a query from the CEN, he is understood to have agreed to look into the matter.

R. Wicks Stephens, the chancellor of the Anglican Communion Network and attorney for Bishop Cox wrote to Bishop Schori and her lawyer David Booth Beers on March 27 stating “your purported deposition of Bishop Cox is unsupported by the canonically required consent of a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote on the proposed deposition of Bishop Cox which was presented to the House of Bishops at its last meeting. Accordingly, the deposition of Bishop Cox was not consented to as required, and your pronouncement of his deposition as a Bishop is without effect and void.”

He lambasted Mr. Beers’ argument that his “reading” of the canons required “merely the consent of a majority of those Bishops present in the House” to depose the two bishops, citing the text of the constitution and canons to support this reading.

“While assuredly your Chancellor has the right to offer interpretations of the canons when ambiguity so requires, nothing justifies a reading” of the canons “that is directly contrary to that canon’s plain language and meaning,” Mr. Stephens said, demanding that “you right the wrong by which you have defamed Bishop Cox by immediately withdrawing your pronouncement of deposition.”

Letter to the San Joaquin Standing Committee
The following is the letter sent to the elected members of the Standing Committee of San Joaquin, but without the addresses of each member (which were amazingly included in the original as posted to Episcopal News Service).

January 25, 2008

The Very Rev. Canon James L. Snell
The Rev. Richard I. James
Ms. Kim Robinson
Mr. Ted Yumoto
The Rev. Michael E. McClenaghan
The Rev. Robert G. Eaton
Mr. Tom Wright
Mr. Stevie Oates

Dear Sirs and Madam,

I am writing to you because I have been informed that you constituted the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin prior to and/or during the most recent Convention of the Diocese in December 2007. It has come to my attention that in the past several months you have taken actions in support of an attempt to take the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin out of the Episcopal Church and into affiliation with the Province of the Southern Cone. I understand that these have included voting to amend the Diocese’s Constitution and canons and attempting to organize as the Standing Committee of an entity that identifies itself as an Anglican Diocese of the Province of the Southern Cone. These actions directly conflict with the Constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church.

Canon I.17.8 of the Episcopal Church provides that “[a]ny person accepting any office in this Church shall well and faithfully perform the duties of that office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church and of the Diocese in which the office is being exercised.” In the light of your recent actions, I find that you have been and are unable to well and faithfully fulfill your duties as members of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin under Canon I.17.8. Accordingly, with this letter I inform you that I do not recognize you as the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

I regret the decisions that you have made to attempt to take the Diocese out of The Episcopal Church and the necessary consequences of these actions. I want you to be fully aware that a future declaration of adherence to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, and, for clergy, a reaffirmation of the Declaration of Conformity, will once again make you eligible for election to office in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. I give thanks for your service in the past, and pray that it may once again be a blessing to this Diocese.

I remain

Your servant in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori

Letter from San Joaquin Standing Committee

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Office of the Presiding Bishop
The Episcopal Church Center
New York City, New York

Friday, February 01, 2008

We have received your letter dated January 25 in which you state that you do not recognize us individually as members of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin. We find your statements, published by ENS on the internet and read in Hanford prior to most of us receiving the actual letter, to be unhelpful. While you may hold any personal opinion you wish as an individual, the office of Presiding Bishop does not have the legal, canonical or moral authority to proclaim for the Episcopal Church non-recognition of duly elected members of a diocesan Standing Committee. Without having any canonical or constitutional authority to refuse to recognize us, we cannot accept your opinion as changing our status as the canonical Standing Committee of the Diocese.

We regret that you have based your “understanding” on conjecture and misinformation. Since you do not provide any evidence of specific acts of the Standing Committee, nor proof of any wrong doing, we are unable to comment in detail on acts or events you may have relied upon to form your “understanding”. We regret you didn’t attempt to confirm your understanding with the President of our Standing Committee when you called him on January 9th, or on any other occasion.

You cite Canon I.17.8 as setting a standard of duty for anyone in elected position in The Episcopal Church, however neither this canon nor any other canon gives the office of Presiding Bishop [or any other person] sole privilege to interpret what constitutes a failure to “well and faithfully perform the duties” of any office. If the interpretation of failure to “well and faithfully perform the duties” of office is open to anyone, a cursory look at your performance in office would be cause for a great number of Episcopalians to find that you “have been and are unable to well and faithfully fulfill your duties as” Presiding Bishop. To name just a few of your canonical violations:

* Ordination of the Bishop of Virginia without the specific written consents from a majority of Standing Committees as required in Canon III.11.4.b;
* Your intentional withholding [from May ’07 to January ‘08] of notification and failure to bring before the House of Bishop’s meeting in September 2007 the abandonment of communion finding of the Title IV review committee against Bishop Cox as required in Canon IV.9.2;
* Your stated intent to delay consideration of the abandonment of communion finding of the Title IV review committee against Bishop Duncan past the March 2008 meeting of the House of Bishop’s [including your intentional withholding of notification from December 16, ’07 to January 15, ‘08] again in violation of the requirements of Canon IV.9.2.
* Establishing a missionary congregation in Bakersfield and appointing a priest who is not canonically resident to be under the supervision of Canon Moore and under your authority in violation of Canon I.13.2b and Canon III.9.6

With this evidence of your willful disobedience to the requirements of Canon, many Episcopalians could, using your own words, state they “do not recognize you as” the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. And of course, in the spirit of reconciliation, we would encourage you to be aware a “future declaration of adherence to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church and a reaffirmation of the Declaration of Conformity, will once again make you eligible for election to office in the Episcopal Church.”

We regret the decisions you have made to misuse the Canons of The Episcopal Church. We acknowledge your personal opinion of our status as members of the Standing Committee for the Diocese of San Joaquin. In accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, we ARE the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of San Joaquin in the event the House of Bishops should choose to depose Bishop John-David Schofield. Any attempt on your part, or on the part of any other person, to circumvent or replace the Standing Committee as the Ecclesiastical Authority will be a violation of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

J. Snell
M. McClenaghan
R. Eaton
K. Robinson
T. Wright
R. James

San Joaquin now has three dioceses
April 3, 2008, by George Conger

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has overseen the creation of a new Diocese of San Joaquin—one of three ecclesial entities bearing that name and active in Central California.

At a special convention called by the Presiding Bishop held on March 28-29, a rump group of the diocese unanimously elected the former Bishop of Northern California, the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb to serve as interim bishop of the diocese, and repudiated the December vote to affiliate with the Province of the Southern Cone.

Delegates from 18 congregations met from March 28-29 at St. John the Baptist Church in Lodi, California. However, no delegates from a majority of diocese’s congregations were present at the meeting, nor were more than a quarter of the eligible clergy present.

Delegates to the convention were required to take an oath of conformity before being seated. Of the 18 congregations present, five were parishes of the Diocese of San Joaquin, three were aided missions, and the rest groups representing minorities in parishes that had voted to quit the Episcopal Church.

Clergy and lay delegates from one parish, St. John’s in Tulare objected to the legality of the convention, while its rector protested the Presiding Bishop’s usurpation of the authority of the standing committee in calling a convention, noting she had no right under canon law to proceed.

Critics of the meeting noted the special convention’s actions were of dubious legality, as a quorum of clergy and congregations were not present, and the requirement that 30 days notice of the convening of synod was ignored by the Presiding Bishop. However, delegates passed a resolution absolving itself of any canonical irregularities in the calling and convening of the meeting.

In a question and answer session, Bishop Lamb said the new Diocese of San Joaquin would move forward with the ordination of women, noting that it had received three women priests at the March 29 meeting—San Joaquin had been one of three US dioceses that would not license women priests. However, it would not move as quickly in other disputed areas. “I think the diocese needs to spend time in conversation before it decides where gay and lesbian people will be in this diocese in the future,” Bishop Lamb said.

The formation of an ecclesial body swearing its fealty to the Presiding Bishop in San Joaquin creates a third Diocese of San Joaquin, critics note. In addition to the new diocese, the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin under the Province of the Southern Cone is extant, as is the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin under the ecclesiastical authority of its Standing Committee.

The failure of the House of Bishops to properly depose Bishop Schofield further complicates affairs. Bishop Schori declined to discuss her legal strategy, but noted the new diocese would act quickly to attempt to gain control of the property of all of the Dioceses of San Joaquin.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What's in a name?

I was thinking the other day about church names. Given our period of discernment in the Diocese of Fort Worth, every now and then someone asks "Will we have to start saying 'St Alban's Anglican Church?'" Of course, the answer is "No," although there would be nothing wrong with doing so, nor with simply saying "St Alban's Church" or "The Church of St Alban the Martyr."

That made me think about the names of the national provinces of the Anglican Communion. Do most use the word "Episcopal" or "Anglican"? There is one (Brazil) that uses both, and some have changed over time. For example, the Church of the Province of Southern Africa was renamed the Anglican Church of Southern Africa two years ago. I was mostly surprised to find that the largest number use neither word in their official name. Here is the list:

None (17)
* The Church of England
* The Church of Nigeria
* The Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean
* The Church of Ireland
* The Church of Bangladesh
* The Church of the Province of Central Africa
* The Church of the Province of Melanesia
* The Church of the Province of Myanmar
* The Church of North India
* The Church of Pakistan
* The Church of the Province of Rwanda
* The Church of the Province of South East Asia
* The Church of South India
* The Church of Uganda
* The Church in Wales
* The Church of the Province of West Africa
* The Church in the Province of the West Indies

"Anglican" (14)
* The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia
* The Anglican Church of Australia
* The Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil
* The Anglican Church of Burundi
* The Anglican Church of Canada
* The Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central America
* The Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo
* The Anglican Church of Kenya
* The Anglican Church of Korea
* The Anglican Church of Mexico
* The Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea
* The Anglican Church of Southern Africa
* Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de las Americas
* The Anglican Church of Tanzania

"Episcopal" (6)
* The Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil
* The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East
* The Episcopal Church in the Philippines
* The Scottish Episcopal Church
* The Episcopal Church of the Sudan
* The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America

"Catholic" (2)
Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (Chinese Catholic Church)
The Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Japanese Holy Catholic Church)

In addition, there are six extra-provincial regional churches. All of them except Cuba are under the metropolitical authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

* The Anglican Church of Bermuda
* Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba
* The Parish of the Falkland Islands
* The Lusitanian Catholic Apostolic Evangelical Church of Portugal
* The Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church
* The Church of Ceylon (Sri Lanka)

If we include these churches, the final totals are: None (19), "Anglican" (15), "Episcopal" (8), and "Catholic" (3).

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

On Priestly Effeciency

I came across a wonderful old book online, which I thought I'd share. It is the First Report of the Anglo-Catholic Priests' Convention, a collection of papers presented in 1921 on the subject of "priestly efficiency." It is definitely old-school, but certainly timeless. I have read few some of the papers so far and have found them quite edifying. The black and white PDF is available here. I have posted the table of contents below.
I. The Importance of Theology by The Revd. N. P. Williams, B.D., Chaplain Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford.
II. The Study of Holy Scripture by The Revd. Canon H. L. Goudge, D.D., Professor of New Testament Interpretation, King's College, London.
III. The Christian Faith and the Unbelief of To-day by The Revd. C. F. Rogers, M.A., Professor of Pastoral Theology, King's College, London.
IV. The Study of Dogmatic Theology by The Revd. Canon W. J. Sparrow Simpson, D.D., Chaplain of St. Mary's Hospital, Ilford.
V. The Study of Moral Theology by The Revd. Prebendary L. A. Phillips, M.A., Principal of Lichfield Theological College.

VI. The Conduct of Worship by The Revd. S. R. P. Moulsdale, B.D., Principal of St. Chad's College, Durham.
VII. The Holy Eucharist by The Revd. Prebendary H. F. B. Mackay, M.A., Vicar of All Saints' Church, Margaret Street, W.
VIII. Confession and Direction by The Revd. G. C. Rawlinson, M.A., Assistant Priest of Saint Barnabas' Church, Pimlico, S.W.
IX. The Teaching of Children by The Revd. A. H. B aver stock, M.A., Rector of Hinton Martel, Dorset.
X. The Teaching of Adolescents by The Revd. Canon Francis L. Underhill, M.A., Vicar of St. Alban's Church, Birmingham.
XI The Teaching of Adults by The Revd. J. J. G. Stockley, M.A., Rector of Wolverhampton.

XII. The Ideal of Priesthood by The Revd. J. C. H. How, M.A., The Oratory of the Good Shepherd, Cambridge.
XIII. The Priest's Rule of Life by The Revd. Canon C. Newell Long, M.A., Warden of the Birmingham Diocesan House, Coleshill.
XIV. Meditation by The Revd. David Jenks, M.A., Society of the Sacred Mission, Kelham.
XV. Prayer by The Revd. Father Denys, Warden of the Benedictine Community, Pershore.
XVI. Penitence by The Revd. Francis G. Belton, B.A., Vicar of St. Patrick's Church, Birmingham.

I. The Revd. J. F. Briscoe, M.A., Rector of West Bagborough, Somerset
II. The Revd. Arthur Montford, M.A., Vicar of the Church of the Ascension, Lavender
Hill, S.W.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Happy Tartan Day

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Today is Tartan Day, a celebration of Scottish heritage. Several people wore their ethnic gear to church today, which was pretty cool. Not sure if you might be a Scotsman? Get you Mormon friends and neighbors to help you with a little genealogical research. And while you're at it, wish them a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Defender of the Sacraments

The title "Defender of the Faith" was confirmed for King Henry VIII by Pope Leo X in honor of the King's book Assertio Septem Sacramentorum (Defense of the Seven Sacraments), which the English king wrote in 1521 in response to the rise of Lutheranism. The book is back in print, with a commentary by Raymond de Souza. To read an older Latin/English edition of the book with commentary by the Rev'd Louis O'Donovan, click here. It is generally agreed that on some counts, Henry misunderstood some points that Luther made (which was first provoked by abuses of the sacraments). But Henry had no misunderstanding about explaining the traditional teaching of the Church and taking a stand for the sacraments. In a cover letter for his book given to the pope, Henry wrote:

Most Holy Father:

No duty is more incumbent on a Catholic sovereign than to preserve and increase the Christian faith and religion and the proofs thereof, and to trans­mit them preserved thus inviolate to posterity, by his example in preventing them from being destroyed by any assailant of the Faith or in any wise impaired.

So, when we learned that the pest of Martin Luther's heresy had appeared in Germany and was raging everywhere, without let or hindrance, to such an extent that many, infected with its poison, were falling away, especially those whose furious hatred rather than their zeal for Christian Truth had prepared them to believe all its subtleties and lies; we were so deeply grieved at this heinous crime of the German nation (for whom we have no light regard), and for the sake of the Holy Apostolic See, that we bent all our thoughts and energies on up­rooting in every possible way, this cockle, this heresy from the Lord's flock.

When we perceived that this deadly venom had advanced so far and had seized upon the weak and ill-disposed minds of so many, that it could not easily be overcome by a single effort, we deemed that nothing could be more efficient in destroying the contagion than to declare these errors worthy of condemnation, after they had been examined by a con­vocation of learned and scholarly men from all parts of our realm.

This course of action we likewise recommended to a number of others. In the first place, we earnestly entreated His Imperial Majesty, through our fraternal love for him, and all the electoral princes, to bethink them of their Christian duty and their lofty station and to destroy this pernicious man, together with his scandalous and heretical publications, after his re­fusal to return to God.

But convinced that, in our ardour for the welfare of Christendom, in our zeal for the Catholic Faith and our devotion to the Apostolic See, we had not yet done enough, we determined to show by our own writings our attitude towards Luther and our opinion of his vile books; to manifest more openly to all the world that we shall ever defend and uphold the Holy Roman Church, not only by force of arms but by the resources of our intelligence and our services as a Christian.

For this reason we have thought that this first attempt of our modest ability and learning could not be more worthily dedicated than to your Holiness, both as a token of our filial reverence and an acknowledgment of your careful solicitude for the weal of Christendom.

We feel assured that our first fruits will be enhanced in value if it be approved by the wholesome judgment of your Blessedness. May you live long and happily!

From our Royal Palace at Greenwich, the twenty-first day of May, 1521.

Your Holiness' most devoted and humble son, Henry, by the grace of God King of England and France, and Lord of Ireland.

Summer course in theology

Looking to brush up on your theology? Consider a summer course, such as this June offering from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA:

T 3150 Queer Incarnation
June 2-13, 2008: 7:00-9:00 pm

The incarnation is sometimes presented as an arithmetic problem: What do you get when you add some divinity to a human body? But thinking about incarnation has to start much further back, in the realization that accounts of Jesus show us how little we understand about either divinity or bodies, much less about how bodies can show, act, and becomes divine. Just here [sic] and theology of the incarnation can learn from works of queer theory and the writings of queer thinkers. The body of Jesus—despised, de-sexed, and yet miraculously distributed—invites us to an exchange of bodies along the margins of human power and its certainties.We will think about the queerness of Jesus’ body with the help of some traditional texts on incarnation and passion (Athanasius, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Julian) and much more recent work on gender performance, bodily transition or transformation, and the rituals of camp.

I'm not sure what the "rituals of camp" is a reference to and how it relates to either the incarnation or queerness, but there's one way to find out. The class is listed on page 37-38 of the EDS catalog. When I heard about this on Tuesday, I thought it was an April Fool's Day joke. But I guess the joke's on me. I'm glad you don't find this kind of thing at Nashotah House, my alma mater.

Goofy religious lingo

There are some common expressions in church-speak that just don't make sense to me. Perhaps you know of more to add to the list.

"Make Eucharist"
Oddly enough, this one actually occurs in the Prayer Book (p 401), but that doesn't mean it makes any sense. The word eucharist is the Greek word meaning "thanksgiving" which is used as a title for either the liturgy of the Mass or for the Communion elements themselves. Wouldn't it make more sense to say "give thanks" rather than "make Eucharist"? After all, I've never heard anyone say "make Christmas" or "make worship." "Make Eucharist" could also give the impression that creating the Real Presence is something that we do rather than something that God does.

"Do theology"
This one is so common, but none the less weird. It should be "study theology" or "make a theological argument" or even "theologize." This conjugation doesn't sound right for any other academic discipline; why would it make sense only for the study of God? Have you ever heard anyone say that they were going to "do geology," "do psychology," or "do medicine"?

Have you EVER noticed (!) how much shouting seems to go on in church bulletins and newsletters!! I suppose it comes out of a frustration from a perceived lack of interest or volunteers (!!!) and is thus an ATTEMPT TO GET NOTICED!!!!!!!! That is combined with a lack of common grammar skills. Our English departments have let us all down on that one. There is very little grammar in grammar school. I was surprised that I never had a grammar class until my last semester in college. You have no idea how useful that could have been for all those previous years of paper writing!!!

Not many people understand exclamation points. In case you were wondering how to properly use that punctuation, here goes. It should be used sparingly in quotes to indicate that the speaker is shouting or otherwise highly excited (e.g., "Look out!"). The other case is when it is used at the end of a sentence with an exclamatory sentence structure, beginning with "What" or "How" and ending with a verb (e.g., "What big eyes you have!" or "How very right you are!").

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

See Ben Stein's movie

Expelled comes out in theatres on April 18th. I'm looking forward to it, because it is about time someone addressed the hypocrisy. The science community is not aloof from the same problems of bias, bigotry, closed-mindedness, peer pressure, tenure and the politics of academia that every other discipline has to deal with. Far from it.

Science would be best served by some pressure to follow its own method and to stay true to its quest--the search for truth. For some more background, here is the Factor interview.