2/12/2010

Diocese of South Carolina list regarding Doctrine, Discipline and Worship.

The Anglican Curmudgeon has written an essay, "What in the World Is Going on in South Carolina? He is as puzzled as we all are as to just what is going on in the Diocese of South Carolina.

He quotes the DSC resolution regarding its understanding of the meaning of the phrase "doctrine, discipline and worship" in the oath of conformity signed by persons ordained as of the date of that resolution. Here is what the DSC understands as the content of the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of TEC.

"Further Resolved, that the following statement shall constitute our understanding of the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church and shall be read at all ordinations in The Diocese of South Carolina, and a copy of which shall be attached to the Oath of Conformity signed by the ordinand at such service of ordination:

“In the Diocese of South Carolina, we understand the substance of the 'doctrine, discipline and worship' of The Episcopal Church to mean that which is expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Creeds, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and the theology of the historic prayer books.”

The reader will note that there is no reference in this to the Constitution and Canons of TEC, and no reference to the question asked of the ordinand in the Presentation at the beginning of the service of ordination,

"Will you be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of
Christ as this Church has received them? And will you, in
accordance with the canons of this Church, obey your bishop
and other ministers who may have authority over you and
your work?

Answer

I am willing and ready to do so; and I solemnly declare that I
do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments
to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to
salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine,
discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church.

The answer is to a question involving the canons as discipline - obedience being a matter of discipline. "And will you, in accordance with the canons of this Church, obey your bishop
and other ministers who may have authority over you and your work?"

So, where in the list of the Diocese of South Carolina will one find the Constitution and Canons of TEC? Not in the "theology of the historic prayer books." Rather, it is in the specific question and response in the Presentation of the candidate and in the original intent of the oath of conformity, which included obedience under the canons that we trace the presence of canon.

I have no doubt that the The Diocese of South Carolina assumes that those ordained in it will be obey the Bishop and others in authority over them and their work. I assume the ordinands know that. But bishop and priest both exercise their disciplinary relation in the context of canons. I doubt that either bishop or priests would be fully comfortable without canons that both spell out duties and limit authority.

But the thing is, the DSC has cleverly weeded out any reference to canons at all - diocesan or national - and vacated the intent of the word "discipline" in the oath of conformity. That, dear friends, is less than kosher.

I might add, and hold for another day, the fact that "the theology of the historic prayer books" essentially vacates the notion that the actual Book of Common Prayer in use in the Church constitutes a valid part of the "doctrine, discipline and worship." It turns out only the theology of the historical books do. And which might those be? If the current BCP is not among them, then its theology on many matters is not agreed to by the ordinand. Ah, great and troubled waters there!

At least that's how I read it.

32 comments:

  1. Their idea of D,D&W sounds less post revolutionary than my post 1979 version and more like a 1662 vintage. Just like the those still in use in many African dioceses. Interesting.

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  2. I believe the remarks of AS Haley entailed conjecture about possible charges being brought against the Bishop of SC. These now take the form of 'abandonment' and 'renunciation.' Is it your intention in this posting to say that Bishop Lawrence has, by this clarifying statement, rejected the 'canons of this church' because the clarifying clause does not explicitly refer to them? (the clause appears to wish to clarify the character of 'doctrine'). If I read Haley correctly, he was trying to determine the relevance of the October date, and conjectured that it had to do with wishing to bring charges against +ML on the basis of this clause, to which you here refer. Do you believe such charges should be levelled? Do you believe that the personal chancellor to the PB is a chancellor of TEC? Does the PB or the chancellor have the right to allow an attorney in SC to designate himself Counsel for TEC in SC? Would such a thing also be proper in Delaware, in your view?

    Thank you.

    Signed -- Mr Curious.

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  3. Bishop Lawrence's actions are consistent with the following scenario:

    (a) He demonizes TEC and isolates his diocese from it, forbidding interaction with (and information to) the Church. [Already accomplished.]

    (b) He connives to consent to the alienation of parish-held properties to one or more non-TEC entities (foreign or domestic). [Currently in progress?]

    (c) Records of all that he and his henchmen are doing are destroyed. [Next?]

    (d) When there is nothing left in the diocese he formally breaks with TEC and then assumes a leadership position with the non-TEC parishes.

    (e) He lambastes TEC for bringing the mother of all lawsuits against him and his henchmen and enablers. In this case I suspect that personal liability against individuals (which the Church has previously declined to seek) WILL be claimed. If he and the other defendants have sufficiently covered their tracks, they may even win the lawsuit.

    - - - - - -

    Since Bp. Lawrence is resisting any documents whatsoever, the Presiding Bishop should take immediate steps to "consult" with him as mandated by Canon. If he fails to satisfactorily justify himself, he should forthwith be inhibited and deposed. Then let the lawsuits begin.

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  4. I have read your text a second time and have tried to follow your logic. (One sentence involving canon is a bit confused in its syntax, viz, it ends with “…which included obedience under the canons that we trace the presence of canon”). A candidate is asked to vow to be loyal to doctrine, discipline, worship. Fine. South Carolina has indicated what they believe this means. This sentence does not include the word ‘canon’ or ‘canons’ at all. The second sentence includes the word ‘canons’ (of this Church) and it does so as a subordinate clause in a question involving obedience—not to canons—but to the Bishop. One is asked if he/she is willing to be obedient to the Bishop and other ministers who may have authority over you ‘in accordance with the canons of this Church.’ The answer the candidate is asked to give also does not mention the canons as entailing obedience—as you seem to imply—anymore than the original question did. (One says he/she is ready and willing to do so, viz, be loyal to d,d,w, and obey the Bishop; solemnly declares re: Holy Scripture, and conforms to d,d,w). One does not find ‘canons’ in the ‘list of SC’ the C/C of TEC because the question and answer does not include canons in the ‘Doctrine, Discipline and Worship’ triad, in their plain sense. When the word ‘canons’ appears it does so in relation to obedience to Bishop and other ministers who may have authority over the ordinand (the implication being that other presbyters can be ‘in authority’). Bishops exercise authority and canons exist—diocesan and national. SC has not eliminated reference to the canons, but it has also not altered the plain sense of the vow and response so as to separate canons out and make them an independent matter of vowing in the manner you appear to wish to do. This is not weeding anything out, but refusing to weed something in that the Book of Common Prayer does not state in this manner. Mr Curious.

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  5. TEC has taken a different path from the majority of the Anglican Communion in regard to prayerbooks. 1662 remains the doctrinal standard according to their constitions. Newer prayerbooks, normally not called the BCP, sit beside the original. The TEC policy of reissuing the BCP in revised fprms is not the common practice in the coomunion. SC appears to be adopting the common practise of many in the AC

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  6. What is it people don't seem to get about the phrase, "doctrine, discipline, and worship"? "Discipline" means the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, and the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese in which a member of the clergy is canonically resident. "Worship" in this context means the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, together with such supplementary liturgical provisions that may be officially authorized; it does not include the 1928, 1892, 1789, or 1662 BCPs except as valuable documents of liturgical history. I think it would be appropriate for (Lower) South Carolina to hold their hands out to demonstrate that their fingers are not crossed.

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  7. I'm sorry, Mr. Curious, but you have the cart before the horse. We promise (I have done so twice, and Bishop Lawrence has done so three times) to be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship, That is the heart of the question asked, and of the answer signed and sworn. But, it is through Constitution and Canons that we understand that doctrine, discipline, and worship. The General Convention tells us where to find our doctrine and worship, in the Book of Common Prayer, and specifically the 1979 Book. It lays out our discipline, the processes of our life together, in Constitution (structures) and Canons (procedures). One can't understand the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church except with reference to Prayer Book, Constitution, and Canons. So, a "signing statement" that implies ignoring or rejecting all three would seem a clear violation, would it not?

    Now, one might say that there's nothing un-Christian, or even un-Anglican about the "signing statement." However, we live within our particularities. There are no "Generic Christians," or even "Generic Anglicans." The question asked refers to "this Church," and is answered and sworn with reference specifically to the Episcopal Church. Those of us who have made that commitment understood that particularity, and understood the role of Prayer Book, Constitution, and Canons in doctrine, discipline, and worship. A "signing statement" that defines them differently and without reference to them, may have an appropriate place in the Christian spectrum, but it clearly moves outside of this Church, the Episcopal Church. We can infer what it means that Bishop Lawrence, having thrice sworn, would now not only support diocesan leaders in this but require it of new ordinands.

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  8. Mr. Sandman the 1662 BCP has never been authorized for use in TEC. The first authorized BCP in TEC was the 1789 US BCP authorized by the first General Convention which was based on a previous prayer book, 1786, that was compiled by various state conventions prior to the official creation of TEC. In fact a motion to base a new US BCP on the 1662 BCP was defeated.

    The 1789 US BCP drew from a number of sources, including some material from the 1662 BCP, as well as fulfilling Bishop Seabury's commitment to his Scottish consecrators to incorporate the Scottish eucharistic rite into the new US church's liturgy.
    So for SC "to be adopting the common practise of many in the AC" is unauthorized.

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  9. Not to mention a certain latitude between 1549 and 1552 where the "theology of the historic prayer books" is concerned. And I gather that the archdiocese of Sydney, among others, is not overly keen on Tract 90.

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  10. Fr Scott--with respect, you would need to learn the difference between an assertion and a BCP vow. I fear this is a common problem with those now in the liberal power ascendancy. This is an assertion:
    "But, it is through Constitution and Canons that we understand that doctrine, discipline, and worship."
    This is an opinion that you ('we understand') wish to register. It is not, fortunately, anything one vows to accept in the solemn and plain language of the declaration itself. This reading into language more (or less) than is there is a problem not just with Scripture but also with things like BCP vows. I encourage you to read the declaration and see what it says, and more importantly, does not say. No one solemnly vows to 'understand' anything. Your statement is assertion, not the 'literal sense' of the BCP.
    BTW, I welcome response to the questions posed. Curious.

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  11. Let me add, that this is the problem when ones agenda is to find a way to depose or charge with abandonment/renunciation. You need to have what you are asserting very clearly stipulated in canon law. The very fact the 'doctrine, discipline and worship' is not rigorously defined in canon law (it would be, for example, in Roman Catholic Canon Law or some protestant Books of Order) indicates a quieter time of agreement, or simply the utilisation of language from another context (the Church of England) which has gone to the effort to define these matters more carefully. We are now neither in that quiet time nor in the canon law confines of the C of E. So this leaves you and others to make general statements about what you believe the case to be. 'General Convention tells us...etc.' This is a problem you are going to need to confront if you wish to act in respect of +Mark Lawrence and others with whom you disagree in this manner. The very fact that 'd,d,w' has been left undefined in strict sense has allowed SC to offer an interpretation. It appears to me they have also carefully avoided tinkering with the 'canons' statement in the BCP Q and A (which is likewise vague -- does 'canons' mean national or diocesan, and more importantly, what happens when they are in conflict, etc). You are looking for a church that has laid this all out in tidy ways and frankly this is putting the cart before the horse, to use your language. If you want to appeal to black letter canon law, do so. Otherwise you are just telling us what you believe to be the case because it is what you want. Against a backdrop of legal intrusion into the Diocese of SC--by the agency of a former chancellor, no less--we have a situation where people must be very careful about assertion and charge. Mr C.

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  12. I have a few questions that maybe someone here can answer:

    When does TEC say "enough is enough" with the legal wrangling and the lawsuits against their "brothers and sisters" in Christ? What is the "fruit" from all of this? I'm not implying that TEC is not justified in protecting assets they believe to be theirs but if this was truly what they are called to do (to take this stand) then where is the Spiritual "fruit"? There are people who are destroyed on both sides, whether a church leaves TEC or stays. Relationships are ruined, lawyers are retained and in many cases there are churches that are thriving that are marginalized.

    I am just trying to wrap my brain around this line of thinking and it really makes no sense to me. So TEC wins to keep the property in some cases...but 95% of that congregation has left. With churches leaving, and sometimes entire Diocese leaving it seems as though it costs more to sue, then try and sell whatever property off that TEC has won. Wouldn't it be easier on everyone to work out some way to sell the church property to the congregations who decide that TEC is no longer where they want to be?
    I think that many times you can judge actions by their fruit...and with the amount of congregants and clergy leaving TEC wouldn't you think someone within TEC might sit back and as..."is there something WE may be doing wrong here in the handlings of these situations?"

    Your views on this are appreciated.

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  13. JoshH33, it's a fair enough question. Let me suggest, first, that in few cases has the division in a congregation been 95%/5%. Much more often it has been 60/40, or even closer to 50/50. For example, in the instance of Christ Church in Overland Park, Kansas, the vote was about 70/30, and that after the requirements for voting were so tightly redefined as to exclude many folks who were estranged from the leadership at the time, but still felt themselves members of the congregation. In many of these divisions in congregations, there have still been significant minority remnants to continue to use the buildings, and estranged parishioners anxious to return.

    In any case, leaders are called to be faithful in their fiduciary responsibilities as much in cases of being "faithful about little" as in being "faithful about much." These assets are held in trust for the Episcopal Church and its mission, and not simply any current expression of the congregation. It would be unfaithful not to try to preserve that trust.

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  14. Would things be simpler, Mr. Curious, if some things were more explicit? Perhaps; but perhaps also more things are explicit in Prayer Book, Constitution, and Canons, as well as in General Convention Resolutions, that we discuss here.

    That possibility notwithstanding, such explicit statements of doctrine are not part of the Anglican Tradition. We have expressed our belief in how we worship, and we have allowed latitude for differences of interpretation. The Prayer Book, and even the 39 Articles, are not meant to be exhaustive. They establish some parameters, but do not address all issues.

    Should I re-read the Oath? I have for this, and I have, not only the two times I signed it, but at the many ordinations I have participated in since. I, like every ordinand including Bishop Lawrence, was asked first about being loyal to doctrine, discipline,and worship, and answered at last that I would conform to them. I was asked about obedience "in accordance with the canons of this Church," as expressive of that discipline. You might conjecture about the oath I should have taken, and the Church I might have taken it in; but I am clear on the oath I did take, and Church in which I did take it.

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  15. Dah*veed,
    Abosolutely. My point was not that the 1662 was authorised by the TEC. I know it was not. My point was that what SC has done is hardly non-anglican. What they have done is similar to most of the communion.
    BTW if you did a content analysis of your 1789 prayerbook you would find most of it derived from 1662. More than from Scotland in fact.

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  16. Fr Scott. You miss my point. I don't want things to be simpler. I am saying that if you want to charge +Lawrence for voiding the canons (or whatever the charge will be) you would need things to be simpler and more direct than our TEC system is. More clear. Like the RC Church or the C of E, where there is black letter law and ecclesiastical courts. As for discipline being the canons, and that being clear: well, then, which canons? Diocesan or national? I quote from Dr Prichard, canon law expert: 'Edwin Augustine White’s comment about the sweeping effect of Canon 60 posed a question that is currently being adjudicated in the secular court system. The second stage of early 20th century revision had been primarily canonical, rather than constitutional. General Convention created a more centralized leadership with the adoption of Canon 60, but it did not make corresponding changes in the constitution. The potential for conflict between diocesan and national authority, which had been a feature of the Constitution of 1789 and had not been significantly changed in 1901, remained.' The point is, 'discipline' -- even if it means canons -- only raises significant questions about the relationship of diocesan canons, national canons, and the Constitution itself (which would have to be amended to create clarity at this point).
    Also, might you take a stab at the questions initially posed? Do we have a TEC Chancellor? Can there be Counsel for SC so named by the PB or her chancellor? Is that consistent with the 'discipline of this church'? Where is this all going? MC

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  17. 'Leaders are called to be faithful' -- can Fr Scott show us where the 'discipline of the church' authorises her to act as she has? Use of abandonment canons? Dealing with SC via a personal chancellor, requesting things that she is not authorised canonically to have? Where is the PB of TEC made a metropolitan? Her diocese is the Convocation of Churches in Europe, and not the diocese of SC. She is allowed by canon a single pastoral visit and she has made it already. She was not a consecrator in SC because she did not have the canonical right to be such.

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  18. Marshall Scott,

    I wasn't debating or worried about the exact percentage of people staying or going. My question pertained to whether or not the lawsuit direction was indeed the Christ-like way to take care of this mess. I don't believe either side of this issue is without blame in the situation, but could it be that taking a Church issue into the secular courts is not the right plan of action? Could there be a better way to resolve the issues of property without the hurt and pain for the congregants who stay or who leave? I don't see the fruit behind any of it...and in my opinion there has to be a better way for all the parties involved to resolve it.

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  19. One party in this matter has not been referred to: The State of SC. They have now in law a ruling that has defeated the Dennis Canon. This puts the National Church in quite a mess. The Diocese has already faced the challenge of AMiA and both Salmon and Lawrence wanted/want churches to stay in TEC and not leave. Lawrence is endeavoring to do that by clarifying SC's relationship to the various claims of hierarchy being asserted (GenConv; PB). By acting in the way it has, and by not discussing the dilemma in an open way with Lawrence, the recourse to 'lawyers and 9 letters in a day' is hopelessly confrontational and will only exacerbate matters. For Fr Scott and others here to speak of 'discipline' is to raise the question of by just what form of 'discipline' is TEC acting? MrC.

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  20. JoshH33:

    The question of fruits is relevant, and also highly debatable. Some of those fruits we may not know for years, for "one plants and another harvests," but in God's time and means.

    So, in the meantime we all try to act faithfully according to the parameters and principles we see. Would it be more faithful to negotiate property rights with those who wish to leave? In that case, I personally think the difference between 95/5% vs. 50/50 might make a difference in whether there is a significant continuing Episcopal congregation to meaningfully support. But, I have also seen how the processes by which these decisions have been made have been flawed, presented to an artificially narrowed congregation and structured toward a pre-determined end. Is it faithful (and remember that the heart of "fiduciary responbility" is faithfulness) to negotiate when there is reason to suspect that one party arrived at the negotiation by false means? And, how is one party to negotiate when other parties are simply not interested in negotiation?

    I do not say that those questions arise in every case. I know they have arisen in some. In fact there have been different strategies in different places, and negotiation has sometimes happened. Yet, the officers of the Episcopal Church are called to be faithful trustees in all cases of those assets entrusted for the ministry of the Episcopal Church.

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  21. Mr. Curious:

    It appears clearly that you have better education in legal processes than I. Therefore, I, too, have to rely on experts - just as did the Presiding Bishop. So, in addressing issue abandonment, she consulted with others, including her Chancellor and bishops who were attorneys before being called to the ministry. Where charges were brought, they were brought not at her personal whim, but by the Review Committee. The principles for these acts are in Canon VI, Title 9, Section 1. In acknowledging renunciations of ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church specifically she acted under Title III, Canon 12, section 7.

    Now, some have claimed they did not write a letter saying, "I renounce," or "I resign." However, the individuals did state publically that they had joined other ecclesial entities, and/or were no longer under the jurisdiction of General Convention. If I were to announce that I had taken a full time position at another institution than the one I serve, especially one intent on competing with the one I now serve, should the administration not interpret that to mean that I have resigned? That I failed to inform them explicitly is my failure of form, not of the accuracy of their interpretation.

    Which raises the issue of black letter law: if there is no black letter law, there is no black letter law; or as we say in our house, "Arguments from silence are specious in both directions." Where there is nothing to permit certain actions, there is also nothing to prohibit it. The Presiding Bishop acts as Chief Pastor and Primate of the Church (Canon I.2.4(a)). She chairs the House of Bishops, and has consulted with that House in decisions regarding bishops. She chairs the Executive Council, which acts for the General Convention between meetings, and has consulted with Executive Council, as well as her Council of Advice. She is explicitly charged with "responsibility for leadership in initiating and developing the policy and strategy in the Church and speaking for the Church as to the policies, strategies and programs authorized by the General Convention." (Section 4(a)1). Is that a broad mandate? Perhaps, but hardly unheard of. Is there black letter law that says that she can't act, under that charge and with proper consultation, as she has done?

    Which "discipline?" Which canons, national or local? Why, both. I am responsible both to diocesan canons and to the canons of the Episcopal Church; and not unlike civil life, the national canons are prior. Remember, too, that "discipline" in the life of the Church refers to the rules by which we governs our lives together, and not simply to the consequences of violating those rules. So, it is entirely appropriate ecclesially to point to Constitution and Canons as describing the "discipline" of the Church as commited to in the Oath of Conformity; and not simply to Title IV, the "Disciplinary Canons."

    I am aware of the law in South Carolina. I think that if brought to trial like the law in Virginia it would face amicus challenges from many churches, and not just the Episcopal Church. And I expect the Virginia law will fall in the face of precedents in the Supreme Court of the United States.

    But at heart, we are presenting different categories. So, when it appears to me you question how we can know the "doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church" without specific texts appropriately titled, I pointed to the appropriate sources, out of my education to function as a priest in this Church within said "doctrine, discipline and worship."

    You have been invariably polite and civil, Mr. C. That is something I appreciate, and that I want to be sure to acknowledge.

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  22. "Where there is nothing to permit certain actions, there is also nothing to prohibit it." This is a chilling thought and, respectfully, one reason I am glad I do not live in your house. That is, if you wish to take a serious action that is canonically defensible, then it needs to be canonically defensible, else there is no purpose to canons or a rule of law.
    As to diocesan canons: if a diocese passes a diocesan canon that stipulates its relationship to the national church, by indicating what is or is not consistent with its understanding of anglicanism (d,d,w), how will you or anyone else be able to say it is holding to national canons and diocesan canons, since the latter in this case would be determinative, in accordance with its literal sense? This is exactly the problem with the logic of 'you can do what is not stated.' a) that is not canonical logic, b) in this case, statements would be at odds with each other. Mr C.

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  23. Fr Scott writes: 'The Presiding Bishop acts as Chief Pastor and Primate of the Church (Canon I.2.4(a)). She chairs the House of Bishops, and has consulted with that House in decisions regarding bishops. She chairs the Executive Council, which acts for the General Convention between meetings, and has consulted with Executive Council, as well as her Council of Advice. She is explicitly charged with "responsibility for leadership in initiating and developing the policy and strategy in the Church and speaking for the Church as to the policies, strategies and programs authorized by the General Convention." (Section 4(a)1). Is that a broad mandate?" -- no, it is a prolix but otherwise canonically limited one. She has no legally granted authority to undertake the setting up of counsel in SC on behalf of the national church (whatever that exactly is). No one has given her the authority to speak as supreme head of TEC, as a CEO. That language is available, is used in many american denominations. It is unclear whether she has 'standing' such that she can appear in state courts without setting up a locum to do so. All these things are unclear. That may mean that the limits will be tested, but the testing may prove a flunk. That is because, contrary to the view of your own house, if your children burn the furniture and there is nothing in your common understanding about such matters, you will not just say, Oh well. The limits will have been crossed and it will be necessary for you to introduce 'black letter law' (apparently, given the access to matches and much that can be burned). Mr C.

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  24. The State of South Carolina does not "have in law a ruling that has defeated the Dennis Canon". It has a ruling, narrowly confined to the specifics of a single case, which specifics include a pre-Revolutionary trust vesting ownership of the church with trustees and, crucial to this case, an early 20th century quit claim from the diocese of SC, specifically transferring ownership of the Pawley's Island property from the diocese to the church's vestry. The SC Supreme Court may or may not overturn the Dennis Canon in some later ruling - and if they do, look to see the whole hierarchical church ownership issue before the US Supreme Court in fast order - but the Pawley's Island ruling did not strike down the canon in SC.

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  25. Lapin--you are factually in error. Do you doubt that parishes in TEC churches are not free to leave with their property, should they press this legally (which +ML is seeking to avoid)? Famously, it invoked 'neutral principles' and defeated the idea of hierarchy and trusts held by a national church. Please show where this is not so.
    As for future rulings that side with TEC hierarchy? Are you aware of filings for appeal? Thank you. (And of course watch closely the Ft Worth case as well, where the Judge has wondered aloud where the 'rule book' is that would defeat the 'rule book' assiduously followed by the diocese of Ft Worth. I would not bet on a departure from the logic followed by the SCSC.) Mr C.

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  26. No, Mr C, I am not in factual error. As a South Carolina resident (Upper SC, thank God!) I have followed this case closely for years. The SC Supreme Court decision hinges on the century-old quit claim to the property and is, as I stated, specific to the Pawley's Island case. Had the court decision given carte blanche for secession you can be damned sure that would not be seeing the smoke screens, obfuscation and general secretive scurrying around that right now characterizes the actions of Mark Lawrence's diocese. There's be no need for it, now, would there. Mr C?

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  27. With respect, wishful thinking is different than clear thinking, Lapin. The SCSC has ruled that there is no trust relatinship linking the 'national church' to property of individual churches in SC. It has done this on the basis of neutral principles. It has not done this only for All Saimts, but as a matter of principle. The national church has yet to ask for a writ of cert. and the deadline has passed, though today one sees that All Saints *alone* has filed (the deadline was 15 Febriuary). What an expensive business that will end up being, and whether it would put the national church on a better footing is far from clear in any event.
    But back to the topic at hand. The State of SC is a factor of major proportion in what is going on in SC. Rather than seeking to help +ML keep churches in his diocese and so in TEC, it has acted provocatively and will only exacerbate matters. MrC.

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  28. "Rather than seeking to help +ML keep churches in his diocese and so in TEC, it has acted provocatively and will only exacerbate matters." An interesting perspective to consider, Mr C.

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  29. #28, #29 -- cold testimony to the commitment to snappy one-liners and rhetoric which, in time, will make TEC a church alongside the tiny 'Disciples of Christ' or 'Unitarian' or other American denominations of similar ilk.

    The failure to lift the level of public theological discourse into anything like a serious level will make your american denominational church an odd Presbyterian Church without anything like serious intellectual exchange. 'Reap the whirlwind indeed.'

    I waited for some objections to the way this thread deteriorated and sincerely thought there might be some.

    But it appears that Lapin and others of his mindset really don't need to bother. It is all now a juggernaut of assertion and rhetoric, and why not? The power at the top will demand what they want, and really don't need any longer to justify anything.

    'Reap the whirlwind' is the final cry from those defending all this.

    Curious no longer. Lenten blessings in Christ.

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  30. JoshH33 - It is all pissing contests and acts of revenge - revenge against those some charge with taking the Church into heresy and revenge by others wishing to put in their place those making such charges. There is no "fruit," just diminishment and destruction.

    Children do such things, and too many of our liberal and conservative agenda driven leadership seems intent on destruction (even if in the name of theological purity or fiduciary responsibility). There is no life in such things, in such attitudes, in such actions.

    "Rights" to do this or that or be this or that are beyond the pale of the Christian, particularly since we are called to love even our enemies. This is what cracks me up about all this - in the name of the Gospel we vow to serve, we descend to and are bent on hate, bitterness, revenge, accusation, destruction. Who in the world would want to be part of this kind of an organization, but the reality of it all is in the testimony of Kirk H. to the Executive Council.

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  31. This sounds far more "angry" than is my intent or disposition, although I've come to the point where I'm just going to say what I think.

    The problem is - there is no real discipline in this Church any longer, only chaos. That is why some people are reverting to draconian measures to try to re-establish some semblance of order, even if taking upon themselves extraordinary measures and perhaps illegitimate authority. We are reaping the whirlwind of giving ourselves over to the zeitgeist of self-interest and self-validating authority.

    Bishops proclaim that they will disobey General Convention because the Convention doesn't rule the way they want it to rule - Duncan and Bruno, as examples. Where is the discipline in the lives and actions of our bishops? Bishops declare that "open communion" will be the rule in their dioceses. Where is the discipline and obedience to the Canons in those statements and actions? Hypocrites? Priests - you allow open communion and you violate your vows to obey the Canons. Want to justify yourselves in light of the preceding posts?

    As a simple priest, why should I not simply take the example of bishops and other esteemed priests of this Church - why the hell should I obey anything other than my own want or why should I obey what my bishop says, since their examples to me of obedience end up meaning little or nothing?

    This is why my vow of obedience concerning the D, D&W of TEC is to its Prayer Book. The Prayer Book tradition seems about the only enduring and reliable aspect right now. Obey the Canons, really, why should I when my examples in leadership give so little credence to the Canons other than to excoriate their opponents?

    Those that govern this Church appear no different than our civil leadership. The unchurched look at this organization of ours and see little more than a mirror of the dysfunctional congressional leadership. Is this really the example that we want to set for young people, for new priests, or new members of this church?

    Most of the folks in my parish are clueless about all this, thank God. Then again, most people in my parish even as they know we are an Episcopal church could care less whether they are "Episcopalians" or not. The organization/denominational title is unimportant to them, but the Anglican/Episcopal ethos of worship and formation is very important.

    But, none of this will stop. Our Church and witness will continue to descend into irrelevancy because the current Anglican/Episcopal leadership is bent on this trajectory. It will take far too much humility and true love of neighbor and even enemy for us to stop. Hubris or perhaps fear has taken over. Not until all the money is gone will it stop, and we are doing a wonderful job spending down the patrimony that our grandparents in the faith sacrificially gave for our benefit. Good stewards are we? What will our children say when there is no more money to care for the poor or maintain buildings or have a priest? Do you see, Rev. Progressive and Rev. Conservative - you both act the same.

    I am proud of many things that the Anglican/Episcopal experience provides for many people. The TEC organization, however, well...

    I'm trying to step out of the destructive eddy that this Church has created for itself. It isn't at all easy. I step off my soapbox. I go back to trying to be a good Christian, a good priest. I understand that people on both sides want to do the same thing. Why can't we stop this? Bishops, Executive Council members, Diocesan councils, parish priests, where is your leadership? Honestly, why can't we stop?

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OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation 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.
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