11/10/2014

Retired Bishop Peter Beckwith has left the house.

The retired bishop of Springfield, Peter Beckwith, has been taken in by the college of bishops of (The Anglican Church in North America) ACNA. So he has landed solidly in ACNA land.

It's about time. It took him long enough to resettle, but the signs are all there that he was on his way. 

In 2003 he was a founding member of the Anglican Communion Network, the precursor to ACNA, whose work it was to help and encourage realignment.

In 2005 he became a pastoral reference for parishes who had left TEC and sought refuge in the Province of the Southern Cone.

In 2008 Beckwith became the "Episcopal Church Desk" person for the American Anglican Council (AAC):

Here is what AAC said about the possibility of being in but not of The Episcopal Church (as reported on the Stand Firm site):

"Bishop Beckwith and myself and the other bishops on the AAC Board of Trustees do not have our episcopal orders through the AAC but are and remain tied to the Anglican Provinces that hold our Letters. This means that some of our AAC bishops and members who are in TEC might well remain in TEC for the long term, and those who are in other judicatories might do the same, or might go through a time of dual membership with their sponsoring Province of the Communion and with ACNA as well."

Perhaps Beckwith was already out the door then, but running with supposed dual membership.

In 2009, when ACNA was still in formation,  Beckwith was on the ecumenical relations committee of what was the run up meeting to the formation of ACNA.  See ENS article HERE.

But he didn't leave then. He didn't go to the formative assembly for ACNA. Covenant reported,

"As a result of developments in the Diocese of Springfield, The Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith, Bishop of Springfield, will not be attending the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) Assembly which is scheduled to begin [Monday] at St. Vincent's Cathedral in Bedford, Texas.

Bishop Beckwith was previously reported to be among the list of attendees at the meeting composed largely of former members of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada by Episcopal News Service. The group is seeking official recognition as another North American province of the Anglican Communion. Bishop Beckwith said he had been invited and that he had intended to attend solely as an observer and that his association with the AAC was limited to being a "liaison to the Ecumenical Relations Task Force," adding that "[i]n no sense is he a structural part of either the Task Force, or the ACNA."

At the time of his retirement in 2010 the State Journal Register in Springfield reported that "
Beckwith recently said he had “no immediate plans to join ACNA.” However, he acknowledged that he has more in common with the secessionist church than the Episcopal Church. (Read more: http://www.sj-r.com/article/20100221/News/302219946#ixzz3IgPiylmh)
He didn't leave then. 

Following retirement Beckwith became chaplain at  Hillsdale College in Michigan. 

Apparently he didn't leave then.

I find no reference to his either leaving, being deposed, or otherwise announcing his departure from The Episcopal Church. Perhaps there is such a reference. (I am sure readers will inform me.)

But this year is different.

In May 2014 Beckwith signed on to the Jerusalem declaration and became the assistant bishop in the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes, which began its formation as a small group of dioceses that sought protection from the Southern Cone. (Note above his relation to that group.)
 

On October 10, 2014 ACNA announced that Beckwith had been received into the College of Bishops of that church.

Well, there it is.  So, now I guess Peter Beckwith will no longer be getting invitations to the House of Bishops meetings. He has in all likelihood not been for a while.  He has left the circle. 

The question is, "is that it?"  It took a long time, but Beckwith has up and left, one might even say he as abandoned the communion of this church (The Episcopal Church). In his heart he may have done so long ago.  So a formal cutting of the ties needs to happen - whatever its form.

I don't much like using deposition for having "abandoned the communion of this Church" as the next step, but there at least has to be a formal acknowledgement that he is no longer a bishop in The Episcopal Church.  What form will that acknowledgement take now?  Is Bishop Beckwith willing to at least write the Presiding Bishop and say, "I quit?" Perhaps he has done so.

There's a lot to like about Bishop Beckwith. Earlier today I read a long interview with him about his life and career. It is quite something.  Apparently his career has not ended.  I wish him well.

He does not seem to have taken his personal feelings and concerns and made them the banner under which the Diocese of Springfield had to march.

Still, there is the strong sense that Beckwith was gone a long time ago.

Now at least its clear:  he has finally completely left The Episcopal Church.


6 comments:

  1. As a relatively new convert to Anglicanism (2012) and The Episcopal Church (2014), I'm glad to be here, and have absolutely no interest in ACNA. I've come to love TEC, warts and all (mind you, I've got enough warts of my own -- and so does ACNA, as well as the rest of us).

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  2. Presiding Bishop? Sounds more like he needs to tell the Pension Fund.

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  3. Pension fund is unrelated to anything in this story, unless one is still needing to make contributions. Beckwith is beyond that age-wise.

    Jim

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  4. As a retired Bishop of TEC he will receive his retirement checks the rest of his life. Leaving TEC after retirement will not affect his retirement income, or his spouse's lifetime benefit.

    Michael Hartney
    Diocese of Rochester

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  5. His retirement benefits will not be affected. He has retired as a member of TEC. He gets his full retirement. And his spouse receives her full benefit, too.

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  6. Bishop Beckwith is perhaps the finest bishop I have ever had the pleasure of serving under. When I was a recently ordained priest, he, without fail, called every two weeks and asked how I was doing and prayed with me. On one occasion, I found him playing checkers with my son. It was clear that he was acutely interested in every facet of my ministry, even my family.

    I wish him very well. I too, have far more in common with ACNA than TEC, even though I still serve TEC. Most of my friends have long ago left. Perhaps, given the recent revisions in canon law, the time will come when they push me out.

    Robert Lewis+

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