2/08/2019

The Diocese of Haiti turns to its future


The Episcopal Church of Haiti held its convention on January 29-30 in Leogane, a strong center of church life in Haiti. Archdeacon J. Fritz Bazin, an honorary canon of the diocese, and Archdeacon in the Diocese of South East Florida has written a commentary on that Synod meeting, as has The Rev. Fritz Desire, priest of the diocese. Both are included at the end this post.

The Synod elected a secretary and three new members of the Standing Committee and passed two resolutions.

About the elections, Archdeacon Bazin noted, “The Synod had to elect the Convention Secretary.  As requested by some this election was done by secret ballot.   There were two candidates, Rev. Michelin St Louis was elected with 108 votes while the other candidate received 81 votes.

The next item was the election of 3 members to complete the standing committee, the winners each received more than 100 votes.

This Election reaffirms the mind of the Synod in favor of the actual standing committee.”

These elections were important indications that the Standing Committee, which had been subject to considerable criticism following the special Synod Convention for the election of a bishop, still has the confidence of a majority of the representatives to Synod.

The two resolutions of the Synod give clear indication that the Diocese of Haiti is facing into its future with clarity and resolve.

The two resolutions are described by Archdeacon Bazin as follows:

“The 1st resolution is a request for an appropriate committee of the Episcopal church to work on revision and translation in French and Kreyol of the Prayer Book, in consultation with the Diocese of Haiti being the only French and Kreyol Speaking Diocese of the Episcopal Church and also it’s largest Diocese.

The 2nd resolution states that in accordance with the general Canons, since as of March 1st Bishop Duracin will resign, the standing committee will become the Ecclesiastical authority, consequently they will call for a visiting Bishop for Pastoral duties, a Chief Operating Officer and an Executive Secretary.  These 3 will function under the supervision of the standing committee until such time when a Bishop Diocesan will be elected.”

The resolve to engage the Episcopal Church in the work of producing a French and Kreyol Prayer Book suitable for the work in Haiti signals a continuing commitment to a liturgy that is both contextual and grounded in the Anglican and Episcopal liturgical traditions.

The second resolution affirms the Standing Committee as the ecclesiastical authority, under whose authority a visiting bishop, COO and Executive Secretary will serve. It does not envision an interim Bishop with ecclesiastical authority. It also acknowledges that the Standing Committee will give guidance related to a new election process.

All of this sets in motion the context for the retirement of Bishop Duracin on March 1st.  At the end of the month here will be a gathering in thanksgiving for Bishop Duracin’s 25-year ministry as bishop of Haiti and a closing Eucharist.

Dean Delicat, elected as bishop at a special meeting of Synod, failed to gain the required consents from bishops and standing committees of the Episcopal Church. There has been a criticism of the diocesan leadership, particularly of the Standing Committee, and concerns as to what might need to happen next in the Diocese of Haiti.  

While there were clearly differences that will continue to need to be addressed, the Diocese has set its face to the future and made clear its intentions. The work will go forward and the Standing Committee will act as ecclesiastical authority until a new bishop is elected.

n Archdeacon Bazin’s words, “This Synod clearly demonstrated what I have always believed, that the people of the Church in Haiti are capable, with Gods grace, of insuring a smooth transition to the choice of a new Bishop  and the discernment of a renewed progressive vision for the church in their own context, yet faithful to the wonderful Episcopal Anglican Heritage.”


Here are the two reports in their entirety: 


FROM: Archdeacon J Fritz Bazin

Haiti Synod &  Bishop Duracin’s Last Convention
  
The Diocese of Haiti’s Convention was held in the town of Leogane on the 29th and 30th of January 2019.

Starting Friday afternoon with Evensong followed by the Eucharist in Ste Croix Church, hundreds of delegates both clergy and lay participated in an almost 3 hour celebration animated by two local choirs singing in French, Kreyol and even Latin often over Haitian beats and lots of drumming.

Bishop Duracin delivered a very warm message in French and Kreyol, afterward all joined in for dinner in the cafeteria of the School of Nursing.

On Saturday the delegates gathered in the school auditorium for the Eucharist, followed by breakfast and back to the auditorium for the Synod’s business. 

At 10am, the secretary announced that there was a quorum of 94 Clergy members, 85 were  present.  Of the 122 lay delegates 119 were present.

Words of welcome from Bishop Duracin who also explained the rules of participation.

Immediately the Synod had to elect the Convention Secretary.  As requested by some this election was done by secret ballot.   There were two candidates, Rev. Michelin St Louis was elected with 108 votes while the other candidate received 81 votes.

The next item was the election of 3 members to complete the standing committee, the winners each received more than 100 votes.

This Election reaffirms the mind of the Synod in favor of the actual standing committee.

In great transparence and following parliamentary procedures, with assistance of the chancellors, the Bishop invited the secretary to give reading of 2 resolutions for the future of governance of the Diocese.

The 1st resolution is a request for appropriate committee of the Episcopal church to work on revision and translation in French and Kreyol of the Prayer Book, in consultation with the Diocese of Haiti being the only French and Kreyol Speaking Diocese of the Episcopal Church and also it’s largest Diocese.

The 2nd resolution states that in accordance with the general Canons, since as of March 1st Bishop Duracin will resign, the standing committee will become the Ecclesiastical authority, consequently they will call for a visiting Bishop for Pastoral duties, a Chief Operating Officer and an executive Secretary.  These 3 will function under the supervision of the standing committee until such time when a Bishop Diocesan will be elected.

Both resolutions were voted by show of hands, the second with 127 for, 21 against and 13 abstentions.

This Synod clearly demonstrated what I have always believed, that the people of the Church in Haiti are capable, with Gods grace, of insuring a smooth transition to the choice of a new Bishop  and the discernment of a renewed progressive vision for the church in their own context, yet faithful to the wonderful Episcopal Anglican Heritage.

The report from Pere Desire:

Le 122e Synode diocésain de l’Église épiscopale d’Haïti, un succès…

Des délégués prêtres et laïcs venus de tous les recoins du pays se sont réunis  le mardi 29 janvier 2019, à la paroisse Sainte-Croix de Léogâne pour la messe d’ouverture du 122e  Synode diocésain. Sacoches neuves en main, contenant les procès-verbaux du synode de janvier 2018 et deux autres synodes extraordinaires de la même année, ils se saluent, s'embrassent... Que de bavardages mêlés d’éclats de rires! C’était vraiment une ambiance chaleureuse.

Cette cérémonie fut présentée avec une religiosité sans pareille.  Vêtu tout de rouge, ayant l’anneau épiscopal à l’annulaire, l’évêque qui a présidé la célébration était entouré d'une trentaine de gens ordonnés. Au rythme de la douce harmonie musicale exécutée par l’organiste du jour, ils ont marché lentement jusqu’au pied de l’autel.

Avec ferveur et passion, des ordonnés qui n’ont pas grossi les rangs de la procession d’entrée et les laïcs ont pris siège à l’église où ils commençaient à entonner le premier cantique de la circonstance: «Invoque-moi du sein de la détresse...» tout en respirant l'odeur de l'encens qui monte jusqu’à la nef de l’église, parée de ses plus beaux atours.

Le moment fort de la messe a été le message épiscopal de l’évêque.  «C’est avec la même  joie traditionnelle que je vous salue tous à l’occasion de l'ouverture du 122e  Synode diocésain». Par ces mots, l’évêque a articulé son sermon autour de l’Évangile de Matthieu chapitre 5, verset 1-12. Toujours dans sa verve habituelle, il a insisté sur les notions de pardon, de fraternité et de réconciliation. « L’Église doit être la préfiguration du royaume, au milieu des troubles et de l’agitation causés par les conséquences du péché. Il nous faut nous inspirer de la prophétie d'Isaïe 55 v 6-7: Recherche le Seigneur puisqu'il se laisse trouver.... que le méchant abandonne son chemin et l'homme malfaisant ses pensées. Qu'il retourne vers le Seigneur qui lui manifestera sa tendresse. "Nous les chrétiens, devons continuer à faire la promotion de la paix et devons continuer à être la lumière malgré les vicissitudes du quotidien. Cest pourquoi l'Église n'a pas fléchi face aux actions ténébreuses et méchantes», a-t-il martelé. Nous devons continuer, poursuit-il, à coopérer avec Dieu dans son œuvre et sa volonté de création, de rédemption, de transformation et de rénovation.

Tout en vantant ses réalisations pastorales et administratives durant cette année, Mgr Zachée Duracin a annoncé l’ordination au presbytérat de 17 diacres le 21 février 2019. Une belle floraison pour un bel avenir ! 

En terminant son sermon sous les yeux attentifs des délégués et d’autres fidèles venant assister à la messe, il les a  exhortés à s’engager davantage dans la vigne du Seigneur pour que, grâce à notre collaboration, son Évangile puisse être continué à être prêché dans tous les recoins de la terre.

Au moment de la sainte communion, de merveilleux chants exécutés par la chorale paroissiale et le chœur des jeunes de l’église Sainte-Croix ont guidé le pas des convives à la table sacrée.  A l’issue de cette manifestation de foi, au crépuscule de la journée, les laïcs et les prêtres se sont empressés pour se diriger à la faculté des sciences infirmières où un souper sera servi en leur honneur.

À l'aube de la journée du 30 janvier, la révérende Denise THERVINÉ, assistée par les Diacres Jean Wilfrid PLANTIN, Maccène Ulisse et la séminariste Laurette CROYANCE ont célébré une messe basse; ensuite les délégués ont pu se restaurer au réfectoire de la faculté avant de se rediriger à l’auditorium de la faculté pour les débats sur les activés du diocèse. Le quorum étant constaté, soit  85 sur 95 pour les ordonnés et 119 sur 122 laïcs présents, l’évêque ouvre officiellement les travaux.

Durant toute cette journée de travail, tout s’était déroulé dans un climat fraternel, pendant qu’on observait strictement les canons de l’Église.  C’était un exercice plus qu’intéressant car à chaque petit différend, l’évêque et les prêtres ont brandi leur canon pour faire le point de droit. L’envie du vivre - ensemble était vraiment au rendez-vous et saute aux yeux dans ce synode. Et de cette convention annuelle, la dernière présidée par Mgr Jean Zachée Duracin qui part à la retraite le 1ermars 2019, après 25 ans d’épiscopat, ont été prises  deux résolutions relatives aux nouvelles directives que prendra le diocèse. Ces résolutions ont été approuvées par 121 pour, 21 contre et 2 abstentions.

RÉSOLUTION I

Considérant que l’évêque diocésain de l’Eglise épiscopale d’Haïti prend sa retraite le 1er mars 2019,   considérant qu’à partir du 2 mars 2019, l’Eglise épiscopale d’Haïti connaît une vacance épiscopale ; considérant qu’en vertu de l’article IV de la constitution et des canons de la convention générale de l’Eglise épiscopale en cas de vacance épiscopale, le comité permanent devient l’autorité ecclésiastique. En conséquence, le 122e Synode de l’Eglise épiscopale d’Haïti, réuni à la Faculté des sciences infirmières les 29 et 30 janvier 2019, a adopté la résolution suivante relative à la gouvernance du diocèse durant la vacance épiscopale :  

1) Un évêque visiteur

2) Un secrétaire exécutif diocésain nommé par le Comité permanent

3) Un COO (Chief of Operation-chef des opérations) Les trois travailleront sous l’autorité du Comité Permanent    Fait à Port-au-Prince le 15 janvier 2019.

RESOLUTION II  

 Considérant que le Livre de la Prière commune en usage dans le diocèse d’Haïti est une traduction du Book of Common Prayer, édition 1983, certifié et autorisé conformément au canon II 3,5 par le conservateur du « Book of Common Prayer »; considérant que l’Église épiscopale des États-Unis, en plus du « Book of Common Prayer »,  fait usage d’une version alternative pour l’administration des sacrements et des autres rites et cérémonies de l’Église; considérant que le contenu de la version actuelle du Livre de la Prière commune ne répond plus aux besoins du diocèse d’Haïti pour l’expansion de son œuvre d’évangélisation; Il est résolu que : Le diocèse d’Haïti demande à l’Église épiscopale  des États-Unis de préparer une révision du contenu du Livre de la Prière commune avec une traduction en créole en conformité aux amendements votés par la Convention de 2018, aux exigences des canons locaux et aux besoins particuliers de ce diocèse et en consultation avec l’autorité ecclésiastique de ce dit diocèse.

Vers les 2 h 30 p.m., le soleil pointe encore ses rayons sur la ville. Mgr Duracin a prononcé les mots de remerciement à l’endroit des délégués laïques, visiteurs, observateurs et prêtres pour leur présence. Difficile de se dire au revoir après la prière finale prononcée par le révérend diacre Bob Léger et la bénédiction épiscopale, tellement l’ambiance qui régnait dans l’enceinte de l’auditorium de la Faculté des sciences infirmières de l’Église épiscopale d’Haïti (FSIL) était chaleureuse et enrichissante


11/28/2018

Bishop Love condemns the Episcopal Church.


Several weeks ago (November 11, 2018) Bishop William Love of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany wrote a pastoral letter to the people of his diocese, and people “throughout the world” in which he pronounced this inhibition: “Until further notice, the trial rites authorized by Resolution B012 of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church shall not be used anywhere in the Diocese of Albany by diocesan clergy (canonically resident or licensed), and Diocesan Canon 16 shall be fully complied with by all diocesan clergy and parishes.”

I’ve read his full pastoral letter, and I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, be angry or simply ignore this strange epistle. I cannot simply dismiss Bishop Love’s letter as an absurdity since I believe that all bishops (good, bad, indifferent, orthodox as all get out, squishy as Jell-O or firm as hell) are somehow ordered by God’s good grace for the life of the Church,. But I’d like to.

Bishop Love’s pastoral letter gives expression to his convictions about what the Bible and Christian faith require. His letter can be read in its entirety HERE.

His believes that in the Holy Scriptures God has made it clear that sexual intimacy is only blessed in the context of marriage between a man and a woman, and that Jesus did not in any way issue a corrective to that understanding.  There might be an argument for taking the bishop to task for his read of scripture and his understanding of everything from sin to sexual intimacy, but that give too much emphasis to his very threadbare argument. And, I must confess, I have little interest in going over all this again.  

However, on the way to issuing the prohibition that comes at the end of his letter, he also opined about the state of the Episcopal Church. A number of these are startling in their condemnation. It is these comments that deserve further attention.  

I’ve taken Bishop Love’s most strident comments and added a bit of commentary.

Bishop Love (BL) “(God) has reserved the gift of sexual intimacy for men and women within the confines of marriage between a man and woman as expressed in the above passage from Mark’s Gospel.”

Priest Mark (PM): Sexual intimacy is a reality in the lives of many people, including same-sex couples. Assuming such intimacy is a gift, it seems to me the primary givers are the members of the relationship. Understanding that God is the ultimate source of all good gifts, then, of course, the gift of sexual intimacy is finally a gift of God. Bishop Love seems to believe that the “gift” given same-sex couples is NOT from God.  If so, in what larger context does this gift arise? from some evil source?

BL: “I can’t help but believe that God has removed His blessing from this Church. Unless something changes, The Episcopal Church is going to die.”

PM: If Bishop Love truly believes this, I suggest he leave the Episcopal Church. Who wants to lead or serve an unblessed church? 

The death of the Episcopal Church, on the other hand, has little to do with its position on the issue of marriage between same-sex couples.  At some point, our work as a separate Church will be done, and the wider body of Christ will take our efforts into itself and move on. But that death will have little or nothing to do with God removing his blessing. In fact, it may be a blessing to have completed our task as a separate denomination.

Bishop Love is trying to make The Episcopal Church feel afraid. “God has removed His blessing from this Church.” Be afraid, be very afraid. Good try.

BL: “There are many in the Diocese of Albany who have made it clear that they will not stand for such false teaching or actions and will leave – thus the bloodbath and opening of the floodgates that have ravaged other dioceses will come to Albany if B012 is enacted in this Diocese.”

PM: Now we are getting to the front edge of the spear: “Bloodbath” and “floodgates” sound pretty bad. Is this a predictive observation or a promise?  Who knows? He does seem to think that if B012 is not “enacted” in his diocese his clergy will not leave.   So, the proposition becomes, ‘leave us alone or there will be blood and flood.“ This is not an observation, not a promise. It is a threat.

BL: “I do believe (those who support same-sex marriage) have been deceived into believing a lie that has been planted in the Church by the “great deceiver” – Satan.” 

PM: That certainly ups the ante… now, according to Love, all of us who support same-sex marriage are not simply wrong, heretical, and foolish. We are deceived by Satan.  Invoking Satan is another ploy: hammer The Episcopal Church with fear, threat and finally Satan himself.

BL: “Satan is having a heyday bringing division into the Church over these issues and is trying to use the Church to hurt and destroy the very ones we love and care about by deceiving the leadership of the Church into creating ways for our gay and lesbians brothers and sister to embrace their sexual desires rather than to repent and seek God’s love and healing grace. B012 plays right into this.” (the error “lesbians brothers and sister” is in the original.)

PM: It is hard even to parse this sentence, layered as it is to drive the point home that the Episcopal Church is worse than deceived and that it is being used by Satan.

Bishop Love is sure that the Church is being used by Satan, and if we step into that river with counterclaims, what is to prevent us from suggesting that perhaps Bishop Love is being used by Satan to lead us into arrogance regarding the splinter in the eye we behold as greater than the beam in our own?  Bishop Love is walking down a strange path here. The same Church that ordained him to a vocation is engaged in ordaining others to the vocation of marriage, some of whom are persons of the same sex. If it is being used by Satan in the second instance, what is to prevent the same being true of the former.  Bishop Love needs to back off the accusations that the Church is being used by Satan. The combination of bad theology and bad logic in indigestible. The tendrils of that vine have a mind of their own.

BL: “As a result, I cannot in good conscience as a bishop in God’s holy Church agree to what is being asked for in B012. While I respect the authority of General Convention as an institutional body, my ultimate loyalty as a bishop in God’s holy Church is to God.”

PM: Again, Bishop Love is in a bit of a bind. The bishops of the dioceses in union with the General Convention saw fit to give consent to his ordination. Bishops of that Church ordained him as deacon and priest. Probably a priest of that Church baptized him. If General Convention is an institutional body only then his place in it is institutional only as well. And then, on what does his claim to ordination in “God’s holy Church” depend? 

Bishop Love writes, “my ultimate loyalty as a bishop in God’s holy Church is to God.” I agree with that sentiment, except of course that the issue is not about being a “Bishop in God’s holy Church” but a bishop in the Episcopal Church. As with all of us in orders, bishops are ordered in “the Church” but they are licensed and hold office in this or that particular Church. If one has to choose between the two, of course, choose “God’s holy Church,” of which particular churches are mere shadows. But the Bishop must know that license and church authority reside in particular churches. Stepping away from the authority that rests with the ordering of the Episcopal Church effectively breaks his authority within that organization, including with the Diocese of Albany.

Given his vitriol, I believe that Bishop Love should resign as bishop in The Episcopal Church.  If he believes we are led astray by Satan, who is having a hay day messing with our moral sensibilities, and that God has withdrawn his blessing from The Episcopal Church, he would do well to leave.

He would do well to make it personal, about his leaving a church he abhors.  To attempt to lead his diocese out of the Episcopal Church is ill-advised. When it all shakes out, he and some members of the current Diocese of Albany might leave, but those who remain will continue to be the Diocese of Albany, and those who leave will have to find another home.

Meanwhile, Bishop Love seems to have acquired a threatening and condemning voice. It does not become him or his name.

-->