10/17/2009

Ackerman active in America, for what it is worth....

In my last post I suggested about Bishop Ackerman that. "If he actually was going to Bolivia that would be one thing, but he in all likelihood has only left for the metaphysical Bolivia but is still to be found in the United States, now mucking about in a jurisdiction not his own with papers from a Province that commissions privateers. He has left the building, but we have not seen the last of him."

Lo and behold he is still at work, although retired. Apparently no one at the
ecumenical conference between scholars of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox traditions held at Nashotah House Theological Seminary on October 8-10, 2009 thought to check his credentials. At the time he was a retired bishop in good standing in The Episcopal Church. But the conference lists him as the Bishop of Quincy, an error perhaps. Now, less than a week later, he is not a bishop in The Episcopal Church.

The worthies in this conference at Nashotah House according to this blurb, were,

Fr. Robert Munday - Dean of Nashota House Seminary
Metropolitan Jonah - Primate of the Orthodox Church in America
Fr. Chad Hatfield - Chancellor of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary
Fr. William Olnhausen - priest at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cedarburg, WI
Fr. Stephen Platt - priest of the Russian Orthodox parish of St Nicholas in Oxford, England and General-Secretary of the UK Fellowship of Ss Alban and Sergius.
Bishop Melchizedek - OCA Bishop of Pittsburgh
Anne Glynn Mackoul - Executive Chair of the St. Vladimir’s Board of Trustees
Fr. Arnold W. Klukas - Professor of Liturgics and Ascetical Theology at Nashota House
Fr. Jack Gabig - Director of the Young Anglicans Project
Bishop Frank Lyons - Anglican Bishop of Bolivia
Archbishop William Duncan - Anglican Bishop of Pittsburgh
Bishop Keith Ackerman - Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy

Billed as an ecumenical conference of scholars the Episcopal side consisted of Archbishop Duncan of ACNA, Bishops Ackerman supposedly of Quincy, Lyons of Bolivia, and priests Jack Gabig and Dean Munday. About the scholarly credentials of Munday and Gabig I have no comment. I am quite surprised that Lyons, Duncan and Ackerman are billed as scholars on Anglican or Orthodox matters.

I like Dean Munday and the institution of which he is the Dean. Nashotah House is an important formational center for priests in the Episcopal Church. The Dean has, however, seen fit to host a meeting on Anglican and Orthodox matters to which no scholar in The Episcopal Church was either invited or present (can't tell from the list, of course). The Dean has identified the House with the emerging Anglican Church in North America to a considerable extent. How from that group it was decided that Ackerman, Duncan and Gabig were of scholarly import is a mystery.


Dean Munday has also made it clear that he thinks the Presiding Bishop is in error in declaring that Bishop Ackerman has renounced the ministry of this church. Bishop Ackerman has left, he has said so, off to Bolivia but with the intent to continue work in the US. The thing is, if he were going to Bolivia to work there, fine. He is retired. He can do that. We might even suppose that The Episcopal Church would release him from the connection here so he could do work there.

But Bishop Ackerman is not a person in mission to Bolivia. He is using Bolivia as a stepping stone for work in the US with Forward in Faith and ACNA. Ackerman is part of the Leadership Round table of ACNA, part of various committees in the formation of ACNA and continues with Forward in Faith North America (FIFNA). Ackerman has not left at all. He is here to stay and is about the business of claiming that ACNA is the true Anglican presence in North America. He has renounced the ministry of The Episcopal Church with extreme prejudice (as they say.)


The Presiding Bishop was right to say he had renounced the ministry of this Churh and to make it absolutely clear that he has no rights to exercise ministry in The Episcopal Church as a minister of whatever stripe. Dean Munday doesn't seem to get it. Ackerman could not be "transferred" to another Province because he is not going to another Province. He is staying here to muck about.

As for Fr. Jack Gabig: He holds an advance degree from Kings College, but as far as I can tell one unrelated to matters concerning Anglicanism or Orthodoxy. His field is youth ministry - a wonderful ministry that I take part in with great joy. The thing is, the list has him as part of the Anglican Communion Network. But ACNA has him as a link within the ACNA which replaced ACN as a body. Gabig works for ACNA.

So, there it is. The center piece of this little tale is that Bishop Keith Ackerman, retired and now having renounced the ministry of this Church, is - just as I predicted - going to be around mucking about here in the US, where he holds no office, title, or jurisdiction in the national or regional church know as The Episcopal Church, and no license within it to exercise ordained ministry.

Bishop Ackerman seems a fine person. Reading his bio I was very impressed with his work in various parishes. I'm all for his ministry in Bolivia. I think he might do well in that missionary context. Stay there. Sit. Stay.

But no more mucking about here.

15 comments:

  1. As you suggest, Dean Munday's suggestion that Bishop Ackerman be "transferred" by letter dimissory to Southern Cone would be simply legal fiction. No such transfer is contemplated. His purpose is to continue his work in the U.S. At one time, I tried to track the movements of Canon David Anderson via letters dimissory in the same manner...a tranfer to Beckwith's jurisdiction and, within six months, a transfer to Nigeria. He had never moved an inch out of Atlanta. What he had done was determine which TEC bishop would provide him the papers he needed. Bishop Lyons is a TEC Southern Cone retrofit as is Bishop Schofield, now Ackerman etc. Is it finally time for TEC to evaluate the letters dimissory process, study who has used it and how,and reevaluate? EmilyH

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  2. I suppose if Mr. Ackerman had applied for letters from the house of bishops and actually moved to Bolivia, it would be another thing. What he did was say he was going to be doing the work of the diocese of Bolivia in its continuing attack on TEC. What did he expect?

    FWIW
    jimB

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  3. One more Anglican appears on the list. Before moving to Nashotah several years ago, Fr Arnie Klukas was rector of Grace Episcopal on Mt Washington, Pittsburgh.

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  4. Additionally, this coziness with the Eastern Orthodox frankly gives me the creeps. Several of the Orthodox clergy listed in this release are deposed Episcopal/Anglican priests, who publicly and loudly took all or most of their Episcopal parishes into Orthodoxy. The OCA's St. Vladimir's seminary incidentally, was the seminary where my son was sexually abused. So I suppose I have my reasons for distrust.

    Furthermore, if one tends to think all Church problems are Episcopalian, venture on over to www.ocanews.org for a quick "reality check".

    Lastly, for the chicken littles who relish the numerical extinction of TEC, these folk should bear in mind that the Orthodox Church in America as recently as 2006, claimed over 1 million members. The real census figures are now acknowledged to be between 25 and 30,000. How could a homophobic, conservative church actually be losing members?

    Maybe gullible Anglo-Catholics should be the ones asking that question?

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  5. Episcopal clergy are prepared in a variety of accredited seminaries, and a number of diocesan and non-accredited programs. As long as the pass GOE's and commit to conformity, the schools that prepared them are interesting, but not critical.

    However, I have concerns about identifying a seminary as within the Episcopal Church when it appears that the majority of its graduates are preparing for ministries in churches not in communion with, and in vocal opposition to the Episcopal Church. While Nashotah is not alone in this, it as situation in which I have doubts.

    Note that I am not questioning the quality of the education per se. Many seminaries offer exemplary educations that due to theology and acculturation are not appropriate preparation for Episcopal clergy.

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  6. You know, when the defections to the Southern Cone first began some years ago, I was so naive and lacking in knowledge that I actually thought bishops, priests, and lay folks would be moving to South America en masse. When do the chartered planes arrive?

    But I was soon enough awakened from my fantasy state. Oh no! No planes! It's merely a metaphysical move. Amazing!

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  7. If Bishop Ackerman's actions merited his being removed as a bishop, why not bring a presentment against him or depose him?

    When the Presiding Bishop "accepts" a "renunciation of ministry," there's no opportunity to plead one's case to an ecclesiastical court (as in a presentment) or before one's brother and sister bishops (as in a deposition). Nor is there any opportunity to appeal from the Presiding Bishop's actions.

    So unless Bishop Ackerman's letter to the Presiding Bishop explicitly stated that he wished to renounce his ministry (and not just that he wanted to transfer to a diocese outside TEC), treating his letter as a "renunciation" shows an outstanding lack of due process.

    Even those who generally agree with the Presiding Bishop may want to consider how the precedent that is being set by these multiple acceptances of renunciation and how this precedent might be used against them if TEC elects a new presiding bishop who's theology is more closely aligned with that of Bishop Ackerman.

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  8. Robert S. Munday19/10/09 12:15 PM

    First of all, the Conference, "In the Footsteps of St. Tikhon and Bishop Grafton" was a conference between two seminaries: Nashotah House and St. Vladimir's and culminated in a signing of a Concordat between the two schools, very much like the Covenant Nashotah House has had with Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Seminary for several decades.

    It was not intended to be an ecumenical conference between two denominations. If the Episcopal Church wants to pursue ecumenical relations with the Orthodox Church in America, there are plenty of other channels by which they may do so.

    Participants in the conference, therefore, were not intended to represent TEC or the OCA. They were all either faculty, alumni, or trustees of the two seminaries.

    The comment from Marshall says "I have concerns about identifying a seminary as within the Episcopal Church when it appears that the majority of its graduates are preparing for ministries in churches not in communion with, and in vocal opposition to the Episcopal Church." Most of Nashotah House's graduates (last year over 90%) go to serve parishes in the Episcopal Church.

    As a seminary we are not in vocal opposition to the Episcopal Church, though I personally have been vocally opposed to the Presiding Bishop's policies of litigation, deposition, and spurious interpretations of the Canons. Demanding obsequious agreement with every action of the Presiding Bishop seems a strangely narrow way to define loyalty to the Church itself.

    Robert S. Munday+
    Nashotah House

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  9. You point out the lack of any theologians on the Anglican side, but the Orthodox side also seems to lack any theologians (though the lack of any professors does not necessarily mean a lack of theologians).
    But it does raise the question: was this gathering a theological symposium, or was there some other agenda? In other words, if Canterbury refuses to recognize ACNA, might they seek recognition by Constantinople as an alternative?

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  10. I accept correction on the percentages, Dean Munday, and withdraw those comments about Nashotah.

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  11. I don't know if the Presiding Bishop is correct in her interpretation of the canons or not. I assume that her Chancellor has given her a basis to believe that she is. She has consistently, however, interpreted and implemented the various removal canons in such a way that the default option is to remove. She appears vindictive and petty.

    Paul

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  12. I think it's going to be a long time, if ever, before the ACNA is recognized as a Province of the Anglican Communion. It will probably be even longer before it is recognized by Constantinople or even by individual churches within Orthodoxy like the OCA (which I understand Constantinople recognizes as Orthodox but not as autocephalous). The theological divisions between them are too great.

    Probably the best the ACNA can hope for in the short term is that they will be recognized by some, but not all of the Anglican Provinces, which puts them in roughly the same position as the Church of Sweden, which is in communion with some Provinces (e.g. England) but not in communion with others (e.g. the Episcopal Church).

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  13. What happened to justice?

    Renunciation of ministry is spelled out by the canons. In particular, it is voluntary and requires the person to send a letter to the presiding bishop stating unequivocally his desire. One can't "pronounce" someone to have renounced. If 815 feels that he needs to be deposed, then depose him - but do it right.

    The trashing of the canons is simply deplorable. That people who supposedly are motivated by justice issues defend this travesty of justice is simply sad.

    More bishops deposed and "resignated" than in the entire history of the denomination. All godly leaders who have brought countless to Christ. What a legacy.

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  14. And could someone enlighten me about this: Apparently bishops can't transfer provinces according to 815. I suppose this goes both ways. What about Sergio Carranza-Gomez who is an assistant bishop to Bruno in Los Angeles? Shouldn't he be reconsecrated as a TEC bishop?

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