11/08/2008

Process in Quincy: How not to leave.

More information has come out about the process taken by the Diocese of Quincy in the decision by most of its clergy and lay delegates to Synod to leave the Episcopal Church.

The Synod met and the first order of business was to vote to leave the Episcopal Church. At that point they ceased to be clergy and lay representatives of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, but rather a free association of like minded people who were then accepted into the Province of the Southern Cone as a diocese recognized as in formation or perhaps fully constituted. There is no indication that the meeting shifted gears, from being the Episcopal Church Diocese to being a new entity in the Southern Cone.

Meanwhile, continuing to meet, seemingly without out interruption concerning the authority of the Standing Committee, the chair and leadership, they proceeded to make several decisions. The whole list can be read in the ENS article HERE.

Among those decisions was this, reported by ENS:

"One of the first orders of business for the new diocesan structure was an announcement by den Blaauwen that members of the clergy formerly canonically resident in the Diocese of Quincy would receive a certificate indicating they were now clergy of the Southern Cone. He told those clergy who wished not to affiliate with the Southern Cone to write the word “rejected” on the certificate, along with a signature and date."

The assumption of this announcement was that unless clergy indicated otherwise they were now clergy of the Southern Cone. From their standpoint, unless the certificate is rejected the clergy are part of the PSC. The consequences regarding their standing in the Episcopal Church will become known quickly. While there may be other alternatives to charges of abandonment, those will be, as in San Joaquin, brought fairly soon.

The Synod also voted to give "a nine-month “grace period” during which any congregation may, by a two-thirds vote, withdraw from “the Synod of this Diocese” and stating that the Bishop and standing committee will work “diligently, in good faith and with Christian charity, with any member of the clergy who might wish to seek canonical transfer to another diocese of the person’s choice.” This means, one supposes, that a clergy person could accept the certificate now and transfer later, having thought the matter out further. That of course is not clear. What is clear is that congregations (not the clergy) have a bit of a grace period. Clergy cannot expect that period to go by with their being in the Southern Cone and not confronted with having abandoned the communion of this Church. No one will like that very much, but there it is.

Another resolution of the Synod-however-formed was to create "a new Canon on Worship, which prescribes allowed versions of the Holy Scriptures and indicates that the bishop shall approve a “recognized edition of the Book of Common Prayer for standard use in the diocese;”

It will be of some interest to know just what edition of the BCP will be approved for standard use. The order and lectionary of the 1928 book satisfies neither the catholic sensibilities of a post Vatican II period nor the biblical richness provided by the lectionary reading cycle and three reading provision in the Holy Eucharist. At this point the ordination rite of the 1979 BCP is the one under which almost all clergy were ordained, and the baptismal covenant is more or less a norm in all churches. So 1928 is not the likely choice.

Surely the 1662 BCP is not going to be the book of choice, unless of course the 1800 members of the Diocese are keen on relearning an increasingly unusable language base and a Eucharistic Liturgy that is seriously deficient, given liturgical renewal.

Perhaps the intention is to affirm 1979 as the standard use. We shall see.

The Bishop, Clergy and lay representatives of the Diocese of Quincy, most now in some sort of ecclesial structure in the Province of the Southern Cone, have left, but in a shambles.

It is sad to see. Yet it is clear that the Bishop as the teacher of the people and clergy has been leading them in this path for a long time. The assembled leadership was told by resolution that "the leaders of the Episcopal Church and actions of its General Convention “have failed to uphold the teaching and authority of Holy Scripture, have challenged or belittled core doctrines of the Christian faith, have refused to conform to the agreed teaching and discipline of the Anglican faith, have refused to conform to the agreed teaching and discipline of the Anglican Communion, and have rejected the godly counsel of the leaders of the Communion.” They got this really sick information from somewhere. From who else than the Bishop?

The now retired bishop of the now seriously wounded Diocese of Quincy has a lot to answer for.

18 comments:

  1. Mark,
    I've read occasionally your blog, and now am posting a comment for the first time. I appreciate the effort it takes to maintain your consistent posting.

    I was doing fine with your observations and thoughts about the Quincy convention process until you got to the BCP. You failed to mention that "the bishop" might simply authorize the TECUSA 1979 BCP. Perhaps you assumed readership would understand the option of going forward without change. It is also possible that your reading of the language about providing authority "to pick one" led you to believe the resolution meant to be prejudiced against the 1979? If that is the case, you would do well to remember the context of "a new thing" here, and of the high priority in Quincy for so many generations of the worship of the Church nearly demanding that something be said immediately clarifying the need to specify the order of its worship (now that once was is in a new form).

    But the last full paragraph was a real stretch. You're kidding, right? The only source of the intense difficulties, disparities, and open conflict within The Episcopal Church for those who voted has only been articulated by Bp Ackerman? Do YOU only hear about, and are only informed about "things", and only are directed into action by YOUR bishop? You see...I just don't believe you think that about Quincyites.
    One option that comes to mind for what you are really trying to say here is that although Ackerman has formally resigned (whatever his next move is), you are simply trying to lay the buzz groundwork that the decision of the Quincy Convention (or whatever they call themselves) is all his fault, and thus he, as you see it, should be the focus of some disciplinary action. But if that's what you were really trying to accomplish, just come out and say it, and don't beat around the bush.

    Well, then, perhaps that's not what you intended in that paragraph. On the other hand, maybe you just can't wrap your head around why anyone would desire to or be led by God to leave TECUSA. But I just don't believe that you believe that the only source of any information for the people in the pew is the bishop's mouth. You're more perceptive than that.

    Well, this has been a lovely and forthright visit. Love to hear your response.

    in prayer for our Church,
    Rob Eaton

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  2. Apparently in the Province of the Southern Cone bishops are a lot like buses, if you miss one another will be along in about a few minutes.

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  3. And the first person to be charged with abandonment should therefore be Keith Ackerman.

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  4. rob eaton...great set of comments. Come back anytime!

    You are right. In a moment of blindness I assumed (probably wrongly) that the move was to authorize something else than the 1979 book. Being a regular paid up authorized book user, I just assumed that something else was afoot. I will correct text by adding something about staying with the 1979 BCP.

    The last paragraph is a stretch, yes, but I am convinced that the statement made at the Convention / Synod expresses the Bishop's teaching. The interview with him at Lambeth follows parallel lines, and his opposition to the direction the Episcopal Church has taken since the ordination of women is very clear.

    Bishop Ackerman may be in poor health and his resignation may be entirely because of that. If so, we should let him retire quietly. But if he takes up the effort again by returning as bishop in the Southern Cone to active work in the US, or if he takes temporary duties as bishop in charge pending a new election, etc, then matters are different.

    Of course there are others who believe as he does. It appears that almost all the clergy are on board. And no I don't believe leaving is wrong. But leaving is leaving.

    More and more I wish and hope that we develop an alternative to deposition on the grounds of abandonment. Perhaps a formal removal of license that would be honored by all member dioceses of the Episcopal Church would suffice. In theory that is true now, but we would quickly have bishops making exceptions, etc as already has happened with Moyer and some others. Right now the stern deposition language seems necessary, and even that is ignored at times, witness Moderator Duncan.

    So...thanks again.

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  5. For clarity:
    Quincy aligned with the Southern Cone. The approved prayerbook for that province as with all those provinces that have adopted the Jerusalem Declaration is the prayerbook of 1662, with "cultural modifications" of course. Your assumption is valid.

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  6. I'd think that diocese could be quite happy adopting the Anglican Missal...

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  7. "They got this really sick information from somewhere. From who else than the Bishop?"

    ENS, Christianity Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, the New York Times...

    Yes, the departing bishops have certainly led their people. But TEC has muddied its own face sufficiently and often enough to be noticed by media sources outside of the Church's approved news service.

    People CAN think, you know.

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  8. As far as their problems with the Prayer Book are concerned, it seems to me that if they are now a part of the province of the Southern Cone of South America, they should be using El Libro de Oración Común. It's only right.

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  9. the Southern Cone of South America, they should be using El Libro de Oración Común.

    What do the Spanish speakers in the SC (if any ;-) ) use? Surely not the same Libro de Oración Común in use in Mexico and the in Hispanic ministry in the US...

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  10. El Libro de Oración Común...ah yes, there are at least four crisp and unread copies in Bolivia and Peru that perhaps they would be willing to ship Norte!

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  11. Mark, I'm astonished.

    Your assumption about Bishop Ackerman I believe is a real slap to the laity.

    What - do you think, that the laity is just a bunch of stupid sheep who can't think, read, ponder, inquire, watch, reflect, debate, and discuss on our own? I can't believe that's your view, but that is the assumption one must draw when we read that you think that Bishop Ackerman is the sole source of information. Is this how liberal bishops are - that the laity are so stupid that the bishops can just about tell them anything and the laity will open their purses and wallets and say, who shall we sue next?

    One of the great fallacies of the Episcopal Church has been to underestimate the ramifications of having a biblically-literate laity, laity who actually get up in the morning to read and study their Bibles, who read the book all the way through over and over and over again, who converse and discuss scripture with other Christians, who challenge their own clergy on biblical points, who meet regularly to study scripture together, to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the scriptures so that when we look at what the leadership apparatus of TEC does and says and then compare that to what we read in scripture and see upheld through centuries of Anglican tradition, well, we are quite capable on our own to figure out - as Quincy's bold resolution states, that the TEC leadership "have failed to uphold the teaching and authority of Holy Scripture, have challenged or belittled core doctrines of the Christian faith, have refused to conform to the agreed teaching and discipline of the Anglican faith, have refused to conform to the agreed teaching and discipline of the Anglican Communion, and have rejected the godly counsel of the leaders of the Communion."

    My goodness, even the New York Times knows that.

    -bb

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  12. Just how much of an impact does a leader have?
    It has always puzzled me that most of the open rebellion seems to be in 4 of the 110 dioceses. In the dioceses I've known, most of the rebellion was in just a few parishes. Sure in almost every diocese and parish there are some folks who disagree with TEC, but you don't seem to get the open rebellion.
    So why does the rebellion seem to clump as it does?
    The rebellious places all seem to have rebellious leaders. Either they were called because they were rebellious (fitting the current mood of the parish) or they brough their rebellious intentions with them and built a congregation that agreed with them (by driving away those who disagreed and attracting those who agreed with them). Still, that isn't the whole story.
    A wise archdeacon once told me that I shouldn't complain about those unhappy parishes; in the diocese they just act like magnets drawing unhappy parishioners to them and making the parishes they left into healthier places. It does seem to work that way.
    But with dioceses it's a somewhat different story, but not entirely. Rebellious clergy seek out dioceses where they will be comfortable. Rebellious bishops will seek out clergy who agree with them (ever it has been the case). All in all, when it comes to rebellious dioceses, the bishop is truly to blame.
    Tom Downs

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  13. babyblue,

    Yep, the laity thinks.
    We have been given a LOT to think about. Many of us run businesses and engage the public in real life. We read, keep alert, ponder news sources other than official talking points, and watch the blatant inconsistencies of our bishops.

    Apparently the TEC Organization depends on the laity to follow along blindly without regard to the realities noticed by the most casual inquiring minds, including the notice of the secular media.

    Yesterday's coffee hour:
    a judge, a college prof., a clergy widow, a home-maker, a manager, and an accountant actually....THOUGHT.

    Our bishop wasn't even there to pursuade and guide our limited and uninformed experiences. Imagine: we're good enough to teach, mow, serve, pay-up, sit on committees---and judge a murderer's guilt/innocence, run a multi-million dollar business, raise kids, handle hundreds of thousands of dollars,be care-givers, and teach future teachers,...but, we're just easily duped...by a bishop with ideas.

    Yep, we sure were. And we're changing that.

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  14. Biblical literacy? Sure. Great. Love it.

    Biblical literalism? Pfft.

    LPR

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  15. I wish I could be astonished to see bb playing the martyr once again, but since it's pretty much a daily thing with her, well, I can't work up even some mild surprise anymore.

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  16. Bob of Fremont11/11/08 7:14 AM

    Wow, Tom Downs lecturing on healthy parishes and dioceses.

    Tom, in case you weren't aware is a leader in the Diocese of Eastern Michigan which has been in a free fall since 2003 (down 25 or more percent) and in which 6 priests were deposed or quit because of a Bishop who dissembled about his position on Bp. Gene Robinson.

    They recently ordained their second and last bishop as they will likely be absorbed back into the Diocese of Michigan after a 12-year failed experiment.

    They have closed more churches than they have opened and have less than a dozen full time clergy on the nearly 50 parishes they have left.

    Yeah, preach it Tom Downs. I know healthy, and your diocese is not healthy.

    Bob of Fremont

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  17. Clearly, I think, the lie that the church denies the incarnation or some other silly fantasy is available without the bishop. One need only spend a few moments to find that stuff spread by both lying clergy and laity on the web and via various other media. Read Allen's posts here anytime you have the stomach for it: the lie is available.

    What the former bishop of Quincy did and continues is grant the big lies credibility both by contributing to their spread and by using the office's power to control clerical careers. Bishops have power. They also have credibility. A priest coming to Quincy knows what the atmosphere is.


    The bishop is certainly not the only conduit, but he is the filter, the endorser. And in Quincy he is responsible for the success of the lies. Not the only one responsible perhaps but the person in front of the band gets that applause too.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  18. a biblically-literate laity, laity who actually get up in the morning to read and study their Bibles, who read the book all the way through over and over and over again, who converse and discuss scripture with other Christians, who challenge their own clergy on biblical points, who meet regularly to study scripture together, to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the scriptures

    Those are the people who ELECTED the General Conventions whose majority decisions you dismiss, BB.

    Care to cry us a different river?

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