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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Why The "Big Tent" Cannot Work with ACNA

The Episcopal Church has always prided itself on being all-inclusive, all loving and in fact, "THE BIG TENT". Yes, we have always believed that we were embracing of virtually everyone.

The big tent has now come to an end. It is unfortunate, but it is true, at least for the moment. For literally years, we were able to talk and work things through reaching a compromise with virtually everyone be they evangelical, anglo-catholic, high church, low church and everyone in between. It was not easy and from time to time we would lose one or two or three people along the way, but that was pretty rare. Let's face it, our entire political structure, the House of Deputies, the House of Bishops, the Presiding Bishop, even the Anglican Communion was based on the idea that we could talk and pray and reach agreement.

Along comes what is now known as the Chapman Memo, a memorandum authored by a priest from the Pittsburgh diocese and presumably at the behest (at least tacit approval) of then bishop Robert Duncan. Here is the final answer for those who became outraged at the election of Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori:

1) Our ultimate goal is a realignment of Anglicanism on North American soil committed to biblical faith and values, and driven by Gospel mission. We believe in the end this should be a “replacement” jurisdiction with confessional standards, maintaining the historic faith of our Communion, closely aligned with the majority of world Anglicanism, emerging from the disastrous actions of General Convention (2003). We believe this goal is now pressed upon us by the Holy Spirit as a result of the rejection of the historic Christian faith and the rejection of biblical and Communion authority by the leadership of ECUSA. We will lead our congregations and partners in making the adjustment to adopt this strategy. We seek to retain ownership of our property as we move into this realignment.


In effect, they moved to what can only be called a zero-sum game. What is a zero-sum game? Good question, glad you asked.

A situation in which a gain by one person or side must be matched by a loss by another person or side:


In game theory and economic theory, zero-sum describes a situation in which a participant's gain or loss is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the other participant(s).


Situation or interaction in which one participant's gains result only from another's equivalent losses


In decision theory, situation where one or more participants' gain (loss) equals the loss (gain) of other participants. Thus, a gain (loss) for one must result in a loss (gain) for one or more others. Also called constant sum game. See also negative sum game and positive sum game.


In 2007, the Big Tent changed for ever. In December of 2007 the diocese of San Joaquin voted to leave the Episcopal Church AND to take all the land and the buildings and the assets with them. The zero sum game became a reality. The Chapman Memo was put into play in a way that everyone could see. A few months later the diocese of Pittsburgh under the tutelage of Robert Duncan repeated the process taking all the assets of the diocese with them. Then, the diocese of Forth Worth. Along the way a variety of independent parishes moved in the same direction. Supported by the province of the Southern Cone and Rwanda and Nigeria and Uganda (among others) they found a home away from home, making the opportunity to win everything more appealing and the decision to "go it alone" less alone.

In 2010, the replacement Province was founded by Arch-puke Robert Duncan and took the name Anglican Church in North America. So now the decision to leave is one in which most can leave and go somewhere without ever leaving home (I think that is a commercial somewhere).

Robert Duncan, Leo Jack Iker, and John David Schofield have played the game, and won. Mark Lawrence and probably bishop-elect Dan Martins will/are playing the game and will win. And the big tent will get smaller and smaller and in fact, there is nothing we can do about that. There is nothing that can repair that breach when your win becomes my loss and my win becomes your loss.

We in the Episcopal of the United States of America need to develop a plan the answers that zero sum game in a fashion that creates a bigger loss for them tan for us. We need to create a balance that is not -- that is, the win cannot be as great as the loss. Until that happens, no one will come back to the table to negotiate. Until that happoens the arch-puke will continue his running amuck.

3 comments:

Dan Martins said...

Fred, you have me, as they say, "at a disadvantage," as you obviously remember me from my San Joaquin days, but I don't remember you, so I can't put a face to your name. And I hesitate to get drawn into blog-comment debate when I am myself a subject of the debate. Nonetheless ... let me say categorically, that I have zero interest in or desire for leading the Diocese of Springfield out of the Episcopal Church. I detect zero interest in the Diocese of Springfield being led out of the Episcopal Church by me or anyone else, nor do I detect any interest in any of the congregations in leaving on their own. If I had detected any such interest at any level, I would not have allowed my name to go forward in the search process. My vocation is to be an Anglican in the Episcopal Church. Yes, I have been critical at times of positions held by the majority of those who hold power (i.e. General Convention). But I believe I have a reputation for being critical in a charitable spirit, of always acknowledging the possibility that I may be mistaken, and never demonizing those who disagree with me. In this, I am only fulfilling my ordination vow to "take [my] share in the councils of the church." You, or anyone else, need have no fear that I will attempt to replicate what happened in San Joaquin. It was a debacle, has proven to be a dead-end road, and, though I know you are skeptical about this, one that I sought to oppose from within. The action taken by Bishop Schofield and his followers was, in my view, a tragic mistake. I don't know how I could be any more clear about this. I understand that you and many others were wounded deeply by what happened. If anything, my goal is to prevent the same thing happening in Springfield.

Fred Schwartz said...

Father Martins,
I have thought long and hard on your current response. You could have responded on your blog, but you did not. You could have responded on the posting on discernment on this blog, you did not. You could have responded on Fr. Harris' blog but you did not. you picked this posting on this blog and I beleive it was cold and calculated to gain maximum traction for your push to gather consents for your election.

You are correct, I believe that I do know you. You left a lasting impression in the diocese of ASan Joaquin. I will not debate you and I will not oppose your consents, though I thought the laity in Springfield had better sense, but apparently not.
Let me day this for starters, the line, "I have zero interest in or desire for leading the Diocese of Springfield out of the Episcopal Church" is a line taken directly from John David Schofield, and you know it since you lived through that part of the charade. Bishop Mark Lawrene is now saying the same thing that you have started with, sooo. So, my conclusion is you are a very clever person, but I knew that before you were elected. I am only disappointed that your constituents did not discover that.
Fahter Martins, I would love to believe you, I just know better.

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