8/07/2018

When does the Clock begin to Tick re Haiti’s Episcopal election?: And the answer is....

(Here is my post asking a question. The Very Rev. Ron Clingenpeel responded.  I have included his response at the close of this. )

The Diocese of Haiti elected a bishop conjugater on June 2nd. ENS reports that the Province II Court of Review had taken up objections raised by some Haitian clergy and lay delegates to that electing convention.  You can read that report HERE.

The Canons related to objection to the election are in Title 111, Canon 11, section 4. The process is detailed in the ENS article. Several things of note.

* The date of the election was June 2, 2018. The General Convention held its first hearings and other official actions on July3, 2018. The election was then 31 days before General Convention. The Canons say that no election can take place within 30 days of General Convention.  Close call, but they made it.

* More importantly: The count-down on the time in which bishops and standing committees are required to give consent is 120 days from the date of the submission of the certificate of election. Assuming that that notice and certificate went forward to the Presiding Bishop soon after the election itself, the clock is ticking.  I would assume the diocese did so, since otherwise there is no formal indication that an election took place for which there could be objections.

Meanwhile, the Court of Review is grinding through its own processes, so the notice asking for consents has presumably not gone out, and won’t until the Review is done and report made to the Presiding Bishop, who in turn will see to the distribution of that report to all bishops and dioceses.  So, as I read it the 120 days is under way and the process leaves fewer and fewer days for consent.

I would hope that an executive decision might be made to augment the Canons (which do not address this issue ) by a ruling that the 120 days would begin, not with the reception of the certificate of election but with the issuing of the findings of the Court of Review.  The Diocese of Haiti may face some questions from bishops and dioceses who have concerns about the election process and it would be helpful if they had all the time necessary to address those.

Ron's response:

The clock does not begin ticking until the Pb’s Office, in concert with the GC Office says it starts. The physical and psychological exams have to be completed before the clock begins, as well as all the forms properly submitted. In this case, until the court report is completed and forwarded to the proper offices, the clock does not begin. There is no magic clock that begins ticking at some precise date. So, there is no worry to be anxious over the 120 day period. It has not yet begun.



7/17/2018

The Contested Episcopal Election in Haiti

The Diocese of Haiti has elected The Ven. Kerwin Delicat bishop coadjutor. I have previously posted comments on the process HERE.

That election has been contested by some members of the diocese who have forwarded their objections to Province II officials with the request that the election be voided. The Living Church has reported on the whole matter HERE. Included here is a copy of the letter contesting the election. The letter itself is a hodge-podge of charges, only a very few concerning discrepancies in voting processes or delegate seating. The rest concern left over charges against Bishop Duracin, a charge against Delicat, and a wider charge of corruption in the Diocese.  Since the concern is the validity of the election, I hope most of the extraneous material will be set aside. 

It is my understanding that there will be a meeting on July 21st in the US to address the concerns raised in the letter. 

According to the Living Church, the matter of the election in Haiti, and the letter, were taken up by the House of Bishops in closed session. I can find no report about the content of that conversation.

The closed session of the House of Bishops on this matter is very strange to say the least. In the past elections within 90 days of General Convention were considered by the Convention itself, so issues that might affect the voting by dioceses would be raised in an open hearing on the election. Because no Bishop election is presented to the General Convention it is quite odd to have one house consider matters pertaining to the election. Moreover, since the dioceses must individually give assent to the election it is quite possible for information not shared with members of a Standing Committee to influence the bishop’s vote. For the HoB to take this matter up has the appearance of continuing the pattern of missionary paternalism that often colors the relation between “established” dioceses of this church and those that are still seen as “missionary” dioceses (although that name no longer is used in reference to international dioceses or formerly domestic missionary dioceses.)  That may not be the case at all, but we can’t know that, can we, if the discussion was done in closed session and there is no report on its content or conclusions if any.

The letter is quite long and includes a variety of accusations. Some of these have been addressed by The Venerable Dr. J. Fritz Bazin, Archdeacon for Immigration and Social Justice, Diocese of Southeast Florida, in an email sent by him to several diocesan and provincial officials.  I have Archdeacon Bazin’s permission to quote from his note. I will occasionally add to these notes

Archdeacon Bazin begins his commentary on the letter and its accusations by stating:

“After careful reading of a June 6,2018 letter of contestation of the June 2 Bishop's election of the Diocese of Haiti, I feel it necessary to submit the following analysis in the hope of shedding some light on this very important event in the life of the church of Haiti.

The text relates certain allegations that need to be fully investigated yet many other statements are unsubstantiated accusations. 

The first statement that could be considered a canonical violation is in iv section b, under Canonical violation. The local canons, however, make it clear that a representative of Diocesan institution such as The Theological Seminary have voting rights even if canonically residents of another diocese of the Episcopal Church. (The assumption is that the priest in question was one of those representatives.)

"On the other hand alleged arbitrary revocation of voting rights of delegates must be investigated.

On the matter of Police presence on the site of convention: This needs to be looked into in the actual Haiti context.

Bishop Duracin and Bishop Beauvoir both drive cars equipped with sirens an official license plates for security reasons. Their offices are guarded  by armed guards for their personal protection.

When therefore before the holding of elections, tracts are distributed and notes are sent to the media inviting protesters to come and express their opposition, it became unfortunately necessary to have means of ensuring that those who are on the site of the election were the electors only.”

(I would note that at general convention agents of the convention make sure that only voting members of the house are on the floor of convention, and at Delaware’s recent Episcopal election only voting representatives of parishes were allowed on the floor. There were no armed guards, but then again there was no suggestion of major disruption either.) 

Bazin continues, “There probably were  between some delegates and security agents who were sometimes unnecessarily zealous. On the other hand, some delegates might have been provoking these unfortunate reactions.”

(The question is if all those present who were legitimate electors were admitted to the election area and were able to vote.)

 “In reference to the accusation made by Guerline Charles (VII)  against Fr Kerwin Delicat as witness to an act of brutality perpetrated on her by Fr Vil, Fr Delicat has produced proof that he was in France at the time of the alleged act. That act should have been reported to the police if not by her alone but with the assistance of other clergy who know her.” 

(If Fr. Delicat was not there the whole of section VII falls apart.)

“Regarding Fr Amirold Lazare referred to in the last paragraph, I  am told that he is not an active clergy person in the Diocese. If he is in Haiti, why has not he been arrested.?

The problems of the church in Haiti are serious yet not without solution. They are peculiar to the situation,  yet many Christian communities have gone through great difficulties. Haitians must solve their own problems even if facilitated by other members of the family. 

There must be good faith and a true desire to bring reconciliation, not a"winner takes all'power game in reflecting that of Haiti Politics.

Again it is time for a cease fire and and effort to come together in sincere prayer and meditation. There cannot be any winner if it remains a war between two camps. That will only lead to a divided church with very little prospect of healing and to a loss of  credibility in the eyes of the people of Haiti.”

Archdeacon Bazin has made three initial observations: 

(i) The Canons of the Diocese allow for voice and vote for directors of some diocesan institutions, even when these persons are members of another Diocese. This makes it possible for some missionary or appointed personnel to take part in the governance of the Diocese. It has been a long-standing rule.

(ii) The report of armed guards is true. Bazin has commented on this before. While unusual, it is an extension of the often used practice of ensuring that only delegates are seated and disruptions avoided. 

(iii) the charge that Dean Delicat acted inappropriately is countered by his claim that he was not in Haiti at the time of the incident.

As to the other charges in the letter, a number of them concern the seating of delegates, the feelings of some that they were pressed to elect a preferred candidate, and wider charges about the influence of the current Bishop in the process. 

The charges related to irregularities need examination, of course, but it would appear that those do not finally change the outcome of the vote. 

The charges against the Bishop as too controlling are basically a rehash of older charges, ones that led to the intervention of the Presiding Bishop in the conflict between the Bishop and his Suffragan Bishop, and between clergy and lay people supporting one or the other of the bishops. I believe these are signs that the Suffragan Bishop continues a political campaign to unseat the Bishop and ultimately to take his place. (That is my read, not anyone else's.)

But the most important observation of Archdeacon Bazin is his plea that "Haitians must solve their own problems even if facilitated by other members of the family." 

In this and many conflicts in the Church in Haiti, outside forces - primarily Provincial and National Church offices - have intervened rather than facilitated, and worked with the assumption that "Poor Haiti" (with the echo..."the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.") is too poor in its wisdom and maturity as a church community to handle its own affairs. 

No doubt it was helpful to have the Presiding Bishop facilitate a way for the Diocese to move forward in spite of the conflict between the two bishops. That exceptional intervention was very helpful. Yet Archdeacon Bazin is right: "Haitians must solve their own problems..."  It is high time that the Church in Haiti be acknowledged as different from, but equal in stature to, other dioceses in The Episcopal Church. Whatever else happens in this review process we cannot return to a paternalistic relationship with the Diocese of Haiti.

In examining the charges in the letter contesting the election, those taking council for review of the election process must clearly examine their own level of bias. If those receiving the letter immediately conclude that Haiti cannot handle its own affairs, they do a disservice to a vibrant, large and mostly healthy church. If they, on the other hand, are able to facilitate a real review of the election they will help the Church in Haiti do its work with greater clarity.




6/24/2018

How Western and White is GAFCON leadership?



The Letter to the Churches from GAFCON Assembly 2018 says, among other things, that “Lambeth Resolution I.10 reflected the rising influence of the Global South in the Communion. The ground for the Resolution had been prepared by the 1997 Kuala Lumpur Statement of the Global South Anglican Network. Our collaboration with the Global South Network has been ongoing, and its leaders took an active part in this Conference.”

An ongoing theme of GAFCON is that it represents 70 percent of the world’s Anglicans and that it “reflects the rising influence of the Global South,” by which primarily is meant churches in formerly colonial holdings now led by people not white. The older Global North churches and their closest companions (the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, for example) are seen as failed, heretical and ungodly churches, and are mostly held beneath contempt.

So it is interesting to note that the new Chairman of GAFCON is a white westerner from ACNA (The Anglican Church in North America).

According to Virtueonline, " Archbishop Ben Kwashi ... the Archbishop of Jos in northern Nigeria. ...is to become GAFCON's Secretary General Coadjutor next month and will learn his duties from Archbishop Jensen, who is to retire on Dec. 31.

Once he is the Secretary General, Archbishop Kwashi is to be assisted by five episcopal deputies: Bishop Bill Atwood, Archbishop Glenn Davies, Archbishop Laurent Mbdada, Bishop Andy Lines and Bishop Henry Okeke."

The line up of the GAFCON bureau is this:

Archbishop Foley Beach, ACNA, Chair of GAFCON

Archbishop Ben Kwashi, Nigeria, Secretary General

Bishop Bill Atwood, ACNA, deputy for the Americas

Archbishop Glenn Davies, Sydney, deputy for the Antipodes and Asia.

Archbishop Laurent Mbdada, Rwanda, deputy for East and South Africa,

Bishop Henry Okeke, Nigeria, deputy for West Africa

Bishop Andy Lines, ACNA, Europe?

So taken together,  the package of Chair, Secretary General and deputies to the Secretary General for the whole mess of porridge, we have seven persons. Four (three from ACNA and one from Sydney) are white western men, and three are African (Two from Nigeria, one from Rwanda). 

Or looked at another way, three are from the US, one from Australia, one from England, and three from Africa.

Two facebook response to an earlier blog on the GAFCON 2018 Assembly are worth repeating here:

Phil Groves wrote, "Most Kenyans know that GAFCON is dominated by white people. Most provinces know it is an agent of division."

Jim Naughton wrote, "I think Gafcon is in a bad way. You cannot credibly represent yourself as the voice of the global south with a white North American as your leader. Notice too that rather than declaring a boycott of Lambeth 2020, the letter urges bishops not to attend. If they could have managed a boycott, they would have announced it. Foley Beach alienated a lot of primates at the meeting he attended. Their support is ebbing."

GAFCON, at least in its ongoing Chair and Secretariat functions, is indeed more white and western than not. And these agents are indeed divisive. 

GAFCON has been, from the outset, an instrument of value to westerners at war with Episcopal and Anglican churches in their own countries. Whatever its value to African and other Global South Anglican Provinces, it is increasingly the case that what is going on here is in many ways a continuation of a colonial policy in which western struggles are worked out over the bodies (and souls) of those in the Global South.

Whatever the future of care and concern among Anglican Churches in the world consists of, it is not likely to be GAFCON, not likely to be in a new supposedly worldwide Anglican Synod, not likely to be well led by ACNA bishops. 

The reason for paying any attention to this at all is clear: ACNA and GAFCON would have us believe what is increasingly understood to be a lie - that GAFCON represents 70% of the Anglican Communion and that ACNA is, in fact, an Anglican Province.  If GAFCON and ACNA repeat the lie often enough, and no one pays attention, the lie becomes accepted, and the landscape of Anglican affairs changes to include those propositions. 

There is every reason to hope that the next Lambeth Conference will draw many bishops who are from GAFCON related Provinces. But it will not draw the three bishops of ACNA. They are not bishops in the Anglican Communion.

We will need to keep watch, even if what we see is increasingly strange. 









6/23/2018

GAFCON meeting separates itself from Hell bent Anglican leaders. Good luck with that.


From the very first day the Global Anglican Future Conference Jerusalem 2018, (GAFCON 2018) it was clear: the GAFCON Churches and those not part of GAFCON in the Anglican Communion are nearing total separation. Phil Ashey wrote following the first day,

"It seems to me that ... this is a day to lay our foundations for differentiating ourselves once and for all from any Anglican leaders and structures that are turning people away from the gospel of Jesus Christ to “a different Gospel, which is really no gospel at all.” (Galatians 1:6-7). And the reason it is time for us to differentiate ourselves now is that those Anglican leaders and structures that are proclaiming a different gospel are leading people away from Christ and into hell."

Well, there it is: the GAFCON crowd, through the eyes of the American Anglican Council, well known for having been the western voice behind the voices of GAFCON, along with a smattering of British Evangelicals, has flat out decided that The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of England, the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, and several other Churches in the Communion are proclaiming a different gospel and are "leading people away from Christ and into hell."

Whatever the sense in years past that there was a meeting possible between those churches that belong to GAFCON and those that are not is pretty well dead. We (and it is a sizable "we," are leading people away from Christ and into hell."

Now we have the final declaration of the GAFCON conference, a "Letter to the Churches - GAFCON Assembly 2018." It makes the matter of impending major division immediately clear:

"As the Gafcon movement matures, it has also seen the need for a more conciliar structure of governance. We endorse the formation of Gafcon Branches where necessary and of a Panel of Advisors, comprising bishops, clergy and lay representatives from each Gafcon Province and Branch, to provide counsel and advice to the Primates Council. Together with the Primates, the Panel of Advisors form a Synodical Council to bring recommendations to the Gafcon Assembly. The Synodical Council met for the first time at this Conference.

In light of the recommendations of the Synodical Council, we respectfully urge the Archbishop of Canterbury
to invite as full members to Lambeth 2020 bishops of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America and the Province of the Anglican Church in Brazil and
not to invite bishops of those Provinces which have endorsed by word or deed sexual practices which are in contradiction to the teaching of Scripture and Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, unless they have repented of their actions and reversed their decisions.

In the event that this does not occur, we urge Gafcon members to decline the invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of Communion."


The Letter addresses several other matters, but it is this "urging" that stands to put the most pressure on the Anglican Communion structures and instruments of governance.


It is important to note that GAFCON now considers itself to have a synodical system in place. It is the "Synodical Council" of GAFCON that is making the demands of the Archbishop of Canterbury, et al.


It should also be noted that while the Synodical Council "respectfully urge(s)" that the Archbishop of Canterbury invite ACNA and the so-called "Province of the Anglican Church in Brazil" to the Lambeth Conference and expel or not invite The Episcopal Church, the Scottish Episcopal Church, The Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican/ Episcopal Church of Brazil, it follows that by a threat issued, again as an urging, that GAFCON Provinces and other Provinces friendly to their cause do not send their own bishops to Lambeth. 


The Church of England is not on the list, but GAFCON has begun a mission in England and Europe to counter all those nasty church leaders in England, and New Zealand is about to be next. But you better believe that if Canterbury does not act as urged, they will be on the scumbag list as well.

So the urging is accompanied by the threat of boycott and the spread of missions from GAFCON in England and Europe. All of this borders on demand and threat of a total break.

With all the politeness of the statement, the reality is that GAFCON now considers the Churches on its list of unrepentant Anglicans to be preaching a false gospel which is no gospel at all, and leading people to hell. As a self-proclaimed synod, it now has met and has issued what certainly looks like a statement of anathema concerning the suspect Churches.

So now the question is, what will the Archbishop of Canterbury do, and in turn what will GAFCON leadership do. There are apparently some bishops in GAFCON provinces that intend to attend Lambeth. If the ABC does not disinvite bishops as urged, there will be strong pressure on them not to go. If GAFCON provinces stay away and encourage other Global South provinces to do so, the Anglican Communion becomes less global than otherwise hoped for or expected.

Interestingly, the Anglican Communion has never had a synodical character (which is why 1998 Lambeth 1.10 is not a binding document). What GAFCON wants to do is finally establish Synod of churches out of the Anglican tradition, replacing national or regional synods with a supposedly worldwide structure. And GAFCON is out to make sure it is based on a one-sided read of Anglican history and theology.


One additional note, GAFCON has a new chairman, namely the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of North America, which GAFCON recognizes as a Province. See the report HERE.  I might also commend the Living Church's pages on GAFCON for further reading.

So GAFCON is becoming a Synod, entire to itself. Good luck with that. I want no part of a worldwide Anglican Synod. Period. We Anglicans may be, as Archbishop Tutu once suggested, "untidy" but that beats being branded as churches with no gospel at all leading our people to hell. And those who are bent on being tidy are ready to clean house.

In these wondrous times most of us with any sense at all don't have time to follow and walk with Jesus and at the same time put up with this nonsense.

6/16/2018

The expansion of Presidential (House of Deputies) powers...why?


The General Convention will meet in a few weeks to consider a wide range of legislation. Among the items to be considered are the following:

A059 on the duties of Deputies, which proposes, among other things that "4. Deputies shall serve as a conduit to their Dioceses of any items of importance disseminated by the President of the House of Deputies until such time as their successors are elected."

A099 proposes this addition at its close: "The President of the House of Deputies may, from time to time, assemble the House of Deputies of this Church to meet as a House of Deputies, and set the time, place, and manner of such meetings."


A028 proposes "that this General Convention authorize and direct its Executive Council to fix a salary for the President of the House of Deputies as an officer and agent of the Council and as an agent of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society [DFMS]"

The President of the House of Deputies will, if these three pieces of legislation pass, have considerable new duties, powers, and a salary to go with it.

The proposed power to assemble the House of Deputies is without qualification. The President of the House of Deputies will be empowered to call for such a meeting at will.

The proposed additional duties of Deputies will include the duty to act as a conduit to disseminate items of importance determined by the President of the House of Deputies.

These two pieces of legislation give the President of the House of Deputies the right to call meetings and to require as a matter of duty, that Deputies act as a conduit of such matters as the President may wish to disseminate.

No wonder it is being proposed that the President of the House of Deputies receive a salary! It will be hard work pulling together the House of Deputies meeting separately from the House of Bishops, and harder still to get deputies to act as a conduit for information from the President to the Dioceses.

These new duties and powers make the notion of a General Convention a farce. General Convention is a two house thing. And for normal purposes that should suffice.

The argument that the House of Bishops meets outside convention, so why not the Deputies is bogus. The House of Bishops conducts some business in its separate meetings, but those items are in line with specific canonical responsibilities of the House. There is no specific responsibilities of the same sort for the House of Deputies.

We are, it seems to me, an Episcopal Church, not an Assembly of Representatives. Bishops may represent their Dioceses as bishops, but more they are together share episcopal oversight of the Church. The two houses are not the same.

More to the point, the aggregation of powers, duties to the President of the House of Deputies, and the salary to go with it, would make that office the head of a separate and parallel agency of the Church along side the College of Bishops. This is a bad idea. Bad theologically, bad practically, bad in terms of polity.

And why should we do it?

The only skin I have in this game anymore is opinion and an abiding love for the Church. I'm not a voting member of General Convention. This is the first convention since 1969 that I have not attended (although I didn't go for more than one day in 1973, having been so discouraged by what I saw happening then). If I were there I'd push to have all three of these legislative propositions defeated. And so I think should the members of both houses.