Kelshaw joins Church of Uganda: Good Luck Uganda.

Bishop Kelshaw, retired of Rio Grande, has joined the Church of Uganda. One of the crankiest and strangest of all bishops in the Episcopal Church, Kelshaw retired, thank God, and Rio Grande moved on. It elected Bishop Steenson who has resigned and become a Roman Catholic. The diocese is currently in the process of nominating candidates for bishop.

Kelshaw joins several other retired bishops - Andrew Fairfield, William Cox and David Bena - in leaving TEC to join other Provinces. As a rule, retired bishops continue as members of the House of Bishops and can serve in a variety of capacities as assisting or interim bishops. But when they become members of another church in retirement they cease to have a place in TEC house of bishops and cease to hold license to minister in TEC. All of this is termed "renunciation," meaning only that the bishop has renounced his or her place in The Episcopal Church and is no longer a minister of TEC. It says nothing of the validity of ordination as a bishop in the Church of God, nothing pertaining to "cause", noting detrimental to the moral or theological qualifications to be bishop. It only says the person is as he or she claims - no longer a bishop in this church. Nothing in what will be requried by canon suggests that he is no longer a bishop or no longer Anglican. (See Title III. 12.7-8)

Bishop Kelshaw is still a bishop. Renunciation are about where the bishop is licensed and where the bishop has jurisdiction. Kelshaw is no longer bishop of the Rio Grande and has no juristiction there. Now he is not licensed to exercise his episcopal office in The Episcopal Church.

On the one hand, this is no big deal. He has simply gone away. It is not clear however that he has gone away physically. So if Bishop Kelshaw continues to live in the US and exercises a ministry under license of the Church of Unganda without the permission of diocese where the action takes place, then he and his adopted Province are both subject to censure.

He seems to have been clear in wishing to avoid such censure, at least a the moment. It would appear from the announcement regarding Bishop Kelshaw's leaving that he has saught permission to officiate at a confirmation and it has been given.

Here is the copy of the email from the Standing Committee of the Diocese of the Rio Grande. It is taken from Stand Firm's pages.

"The following announcement is from the Standing Committee of the Diocese of the Rio Grande.

In an email to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori, dated February 14, 2008, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Terence Kelshaw stated that he has been received into the Province of Uganda. Bishop Kelshaw wrote, "I have therefore requested and been received into the Province of the Church of Uganda (where I once lived for two years) and I believe I sense a certain security and unity with that decision and with that Province."

No consent to his resignation is required, since he is not a sitting bishop. The Presiding Bishop will, in due course, send out a notice that renunciation of his ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church has been received and he has been removed from our rolls and released from the obligations of ordained ministry in this Church. (Per David Booth Beers, Chancellor for The Episcopal Church.)

Bishop Kelshaw has been scheduled, for many weeks, to preside at the Confirmation Service at St. James, Clovis. After consulting with David Booth Beers, it would appear that, with the permission of the Standing Committee, Bishop Kelshaw can preside at the service without issue as to the validity of the confirmations. Canon Kelly is giving consent to Bishop Kelshaw for this weekend's service of Confirmation. Further information will be distributed as events unfold."

(David Booth Beers is Chancellor to the Presiding Bishop, not The Episcopal Church...thanks to a friend for correcting TLC's error.)

Kelshaw was part of the early members of the Network of Anglican Dioceses and Parishes, aka "The Network." His successor seemed a bit less enthusiastic about the Network. Now Kelshaw, as a member of the Church of Uganda, will no doubt reappear in the Network as part of the international partners group.

The Primate of Uganda might well be adivsed to accept Bishop Kelshaw with a bit of care. He is at times stranger than fiction.


  1. The Diocese of Rio Grande is not taking nominations yet. The process of healing and listening (which precedes a search) is still being defined.

  2. Is this the same Terence Kelshaw whose publishing credits include "Daring Rabbit", "Rabbit in Danger", and "Foolish Rabbit"?

  3. Bishop Kelshaw is still a bishop.


    Nothing in what will be requried by canon suggests that he is no longer a bishop or no longer Anglican. (See Title III. 12.7-8)

    I disagree, Mark. Title III.12.7(a) says in part:

    ...the Bishop is released from the obligations of all Ministerial offices, and is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God's Word and Sacraments conferred in Ordinations

    If this is the route taken, then it implies to me that the bishop has been voluntarily laicized. Ontologically he remains a bishop, so your point at the top of my reply is correct - ontologically. But juridically, his ordination is now null and void for all purposes. His status in the Church is that of a layman. If that is true in the Episcopal Church, then it is true for the entire Anglican Communion. (If ordination as a bishop is not just for the Province but for the Communion, cf. the howls about +Gene Robinson, then laicization is also for the Communion.)

    So, as with the Southern Cone licensing laicized Canadian bishops for episcopal ministry, the same holds for Uganda in this case.

    Incidentally, there is absolutely no way that a laicized bishop should be permitted under any circumstances to perform confirmations in the Episcopal Church. To permit it is to deny the applicability of the above-quoted canon.

  4. I have known Terry and Hazel Kelshaw for over 25 years. Hazel served on my staff in the national office of the Brotherhood of St Andrew before his election as bishop. Irrascible yes, principled yes but cranky and strange are a bit uncharitable. And yes he was the author of a series of "rabbit" books for children. I have an autographed set of them which my grown children enjoyed thoroughly when they were young. They presented gospel truths in ways children could grasp.

    In response to nom de plume. Perhaps we should just burn him at the stake. It's fast,it's easy and makes such a point about who has the power and is willing to apply it.

  5. No, David Wilson, we should not burn him at the stake. He is, as far as I can tell, still an Anglican in good standing, and still a child of God. And he may be, for all I know, a man of great gifts and talents and faith.

    He has, however, apparently voluntarily renounced the right to "exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God's Word and Sacraments" and thus it would be inconsistent not to take him at his (canonical) word. How can one renounce the right to exercise spiritual authority and then simply carry on exercising that spiritual authority? Simple answer: one can't.

    With the greatest respect to Mr Kelshaw, if he has in fact renounced his ministry pursuant to Title III.12.7(a), which I am assuming from Mark's description of the state of affairs, then he cannot be permitted any longer to exercise the ministry he has renounced, or else the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church are of no validity.

    This is not tantamount to burning at the stake, or persecuting or punishing Mr Kelshaw. Nor is it about a power game as you suggest. It is about letting your "yes" be "yes, your "no" be "no", and your "I renounce my ministry" be an actual and effective renunciation of ministry.

  6. Mark (and nom de plume) - Bishop Bena appears to be disputing that he renounced even though he left TEC (witness the "clarification of suffragan's status" recently by CANA/Minns). What's going on with that? I'd sincerely like your thoughts.

  7. John B. Chilton

    Title III.12.8(g)states that a bishop who resigns remains subject to the canons of the Episcopal Church and the auhority of the General Convention. There are really only two mechanisms for leaving: renunciation and formal transfer with letters dimissory.

    As a guess, and only a guess, it may be that the manner of Bishop Bena's "departure" was not through the proper channels of transfer to another jurisdiction. Certainly there would be no mechanism for the Episcopal Church to transfer a cleric to CANA, given that they don't (and can't) recognize the legitimacy of CANA.

    That being the case, then from a canonical perspective, what has he done? He can't have transferred, so he must have renounced his ministry. His claim that this was not his intention does not fit with his action of moving to a body with which the Episcopal Church cannot have any truck or trade. CANA can do what it likes, I suppose, but from the perspective of the Episcopal Church, they cannot recognize Bishop Bena's ministry as valid in any way. Again, ontologically he may still be a bishop, but juridically the effect of his ordination has been rendered null and void by his transfer to CANA. CANA is not a recognized part of the Anglican Communion, whatever Peter Akinola may shout from the hilltops. And so it follows that any orders recognized by CANA are not universally recognizable in the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church remains a part.

    All this would be cleaner if there were a clear mechanism to determine that a bishop has renounced his ministry, which I do not see in Title III.12. Perhaps there is a provision elsewhere that I have missed.

  8. nom de plume wrote:

    If that is true in the Episcopal Church, then it is true for the entire Anglican Communion.

    Perhaps not.

    It certainly is true in the Episcopal Church. But if the Episcopal Church relishes its autonomy, it will not insist on its being true for the Anglican Communion.

    Over the last few years, the Episcopal Church has taken specific actions to distance itself from the Anglican Communion.

    Why look backwards now?


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.