Sunday, March 27, 2011

Is Springfield Getting Ready to Leave The Episcopal Church?

Well, much to the chagrin of many people in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, the Reverend Dan Martins become a bishop.  Over the course of the last few months he was questioned about whether he would leave the Episcopal Church for some other brand of "Anglicanism" and he has said he would not.

What do the signs say?  By signs I mean who Bishop Martin hangs with, who trained him and what are his past practices.

Past practice.  He was vehemently in favor of the Diocese of San Joaquin leaving the Episcopal Church.  I do not care what he says now, I do not care what others have said, I know what I heard him say.  He was Mr. John David Schofield's righthand man.  He did Mr. Schofield's bidding.  He met on at least one occasion and debated with our Remain Episcopal group.  It was not long after that, that Fr. Miller left the diocese, chased out by hurtful and despicable clergy.  At that meeting, that night, then Fr. Martins clearly and unequivocally stated the only thing that could be done was the leave the Episcopal Church.  And, he wrote the canons that took the diocese out of the the Episcopal Church.  He says he left because he was not in favor of the move.  What typically happens is Mr. Schofield finally double-crosses his underlings and they leave.  I  believe that is what happened here, to Fr. Martins.

Mentoring/training.  Bishop Martins was mentored by Mr. Schofield.  Mr. Schofield on many occasions, stated he would never leave the Episcopal Church, yet he did.  Mr. Schofield sent at least two pastoral letters indicating he would not leave the Episcopal Church. Then, he said it was the Episcopal Church that had left him.  Then, much like Pilate, on the day of the convention in which the convention voted to leave, Mr. Schofield rent his garments and said, "My flock has spoken. What can I do but continue to lead them in the path of righteousness."  Bishop Martins has learned these lessons well.  Read his statements.  Check out the Communion Partners website.  I have to say, it sounds just like the early days of John David Schofield.

The company he keeps.  The Presiding Bishop was at his consecration.  But then, she is the Presiding Bishop.  But who else was there? The ENS news article read like the Communion Partners website.  This included Bishop Ed Little and Bishop Mark Lawrence, both tutored by John David Schofield.  Other bishops present included Bishop Beckwith and a bunch of the clergy also signed on the Communion Partners website.

The signs all point to a delayed "adios".  But time will tell.  I do wish the laity on Springfield all the best because those who never thought about leaving he Episcopal Church.

And now, the icing on the cake:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Illogic of the "Christian Right"

Every now and then I wander from my base of Episcopalianism to think about other things.  Sometimes it is politics and sometimes it is culture and some times it is education.  The last few days I have been "cogitatin'" on the idea of the new right and their brand of moral legislation.

The new right steadfastly opposes abortion -- for any reason at any time and for no reason at all times.  So, everybody is forced to have children regardless of the circumstances.

Then, in order to remain perfectly faithful to their logic the new right is trying to eliminate WIC and Food Stamps and medical for children.  That way we make sure no baby grows up well fed and healthy.

Then, the new right wants to help children out by denying them Head Start programs and Free and Reduced Lunches.  After all, why should children have pre-school and learning and good food.

Then, the locals have decide that public K-12 education should be reduced to large class sizes, no special education, no free and reduced  lunches, no special programs (GATE as well ass Special Education).  After all, who needs education when we have sweatshops and 80 hour work weeks.

Once that child has grown up they are denied an opportunity to go to college or university when the new right eliminates Pell grants and other financial aid.

So that child goes to work but is denied the opportunity to be represented by a group that will assure clean and safe working conditions, fair pay, overtime, health and welfare benefits. Why would anyone need health and welfare benefits since each woman is going to have every baby and die in child birth.

 Why Oh Why
by Holly Near

They say there was a baby

Born with a special calling
Laid him in the manger
And then took him before his time

And I want to know why oh why oh why
If you care about life, why don't you care about mine?
Why oh why oh why
If you care about life, why don't you care about mine?

Look at all the babies
They ain't got no mangers
Lying in the doorway
And dying before their time

Comes along another baby
If I have it I can't feed it
I got the thing about my other children
Six hungry ones in all

Do you care about the babies
Or just the wars that keep them hungry?
I'm lying in the back alley
And I'm thinking about my right to life
So I died on Christmas morning
Leaving all my babies
Now they ain't got no mama
And ain't that a pity and a shame

And I want to know why oh why oh why
If you care about life, why don't you care about mine?
Why oh why oh why
If you care about life, why don't you care about mine?
Maybe this group should be called the new wrong?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Methodology of the NEW Anglican Communion

Many years ago Mr. John David Schofield was asked whether he was going to leave the Episcopal Church. There are at least two (2) "pastoral letters" Mr. Schofield in which he clearly stated that he would not (I think he said never but who knows) be leaving the Episcopal Church.

By the time the year 2007 rolled around Mr. Schofield was preaching that the Episcopal Church had shifted so far to the left that in point of fact, the Episcopal Church has left the Anglican Communion.  For several months he hammered at this message.  2008 comes to convention and the convention votes to "remain with the Archbishop of Canterbury".  When queried about all his prior statements about not leaving the Episcopal Church Mr. Schofield said, "I did not leave the Episcopal Church. The people have spoken.  I must follow what my people have done."  

I believe that this process now gives us a glimpse of what is/will happen with the "Anglican Communion".   I first refer you to Off-Topic,  I also refer you to Preludium, and with great trepidation I refer you to "The Oracle of Delphi.   There are others and I am sure you can find them and read them.  Here is the catch, read not just the original posting, but read the comments, particularly the comments at the oracle.  Mr. Kennedy's are most illuminating (if not totally anti-Christian).  The laity is building a case to leave the Anglican Communion.  Provinces like Nigeria, Uganda, Australia, and the Global south in general do not need to have the laity say or do anything -- since the laity there has no say in anything they do.  But ACNA, the great Archduke Ferdinand Duncan needs to build a ground swell of laity to leave the Archbishop of Canterbury. 

By the end of this year (2011) the GAFCON members of Confessing Anglicans of the African Mission in America etc. will restructure their version of the Anglican Communion into a Jerusalem centered Anglican Communion and probably with Mr. Mouneer Anis as it's titular leader.  Briefly, least controversial, the "home of Christianity" and it keeps it away from the strife of Africa.  Lots of folks will vie for the Archbishop role next but for the first say, three years this appointment seems least controversial.  The long and the short of it is it  will be the "will of the laity" and not the clergy.  

I would also add Lionel Deimel's blog for some additional background on this issue.

What we need to do to get ready is the subject for the next posting.  Let's digest this for a moment and let me know what you all think.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

OOPS! Regular Episcopalians Need Not Apply

In my last post I bragged about the fact that our Deanery "opened itself" up to voting by all deanery Episcopalians who are communicants in good standing within their parish and also within the deanery.  Our thinking is/was that at least at the next lowest rung of the hierarchy, and for small things, we adopted an all-inclusive voting policy.  The least we could do, we thought, to reward those who were  willing to participate at the deanery level, and to keep as many persons interested in the issues of the day, was to allow them to vote.  The thinking was designed to begin a process of more laity involvement so that the issues that split us in the past, one of which was keeping everyone in the dark and feeding them "pre-manufactured fertilizer" , would be less likely to happen.  Well, it did not take long to discover how really wrong that thinking is.

Our new bishop, upon review by the Chancellor of the diocese, has determined/opined/stated that there is no vote permitted at the deanery level save by the legally elected delegates from each parish; oh, and the canonically resident clergy in the deanery (how about that one!).  To be fair, this is the existing canon.  By that I mean this part of the canon has been in existence since prior to the split of our diocese.  See Canon XVI on Archdeacons and Deaneries.  However, this canon was re-written just last year in order to move us from four deaneries to three deaneries but no one thought to open up the voting to all persons and so it is not.  In order to to what we had originally done we need to first change the canon by convention.  The change we did do violates our current canon and so it is null and void.  One side-note, by going from four deaneries to three deaneries the unintended consequence (I am hoping anyway) is that the deaneries are now stacked with more clergy.  That is, instead of four deaneries with the same amount clergy and more lay voting members we are now at three deaneries with the same amount of clergy and fewer overall lay persons.  Clergy now have more power by virtue of the consolidation, this means that lay persons have less.

I am hoping not everyone goes nuts on this part but, what do you all think?  It appears the deaneries are still stacked in favor of the bishop -- since the bishop approves/licenses all clergy in the diocese.  To be sure, deaneries usually vote on diocesan council members and officers in our deaneries and that is about it.  Nonetheless, it seemed like a small issue to repay interest and attentiveness with voting privilege.  Oh sure, we can, and perhaps will change this in the future but my point is the deck is stacked against the laity exercising too much power -- or so it seems.  I am also assuming (dangerous as this is) that it is true in all or almost all existing diocese. 

Change will be long, arduous and gut-wrenching. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Trouble with Tribbles Laity

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin held a wonderful celebration yesterday and all went very, very well.  We seated our newest provisional Bishop Chet Talton and had a chance to celebrate the ministry of Bishop Jerry Lamb. 

There was one bit of work that did indeed throw some of us for a loop.  Well, not a loop, but we were taken aback by the attitude of some of our fellow delegates.  Alas, I get ahead of myself.

The bit of work we needed to do had to do with the reconstitution of our deaneries.  We have historically had four deaneries in our diocese but as of now we have reduced to three.  In that process we have restructured and are now electing a chair and a vice chair that is either lay of clergy (but not both).  These two offices will serve on the diocesan council.  The deaneries are supposed to revitalize our diocesan life and so are now required to meet (at least) 4 times a year.  We are working on a lot of functions and activities but we came to a fork in the road and need to vote on an issue that I thought was a "no-brainer".  The issue was voting rights at the deanery level.  Again, historically on delegates have been allowed to vote on issues within the deanery and someone thought it was time for a change.  The resolution on the floor was to permit all members in good standing that were present at the meeting of the deanery.  WOW! You would have thought we had just taken someones pocketbook and would not give it back!  There was a hue and cry about -- guess what?  privilege, yep, privilege.  Those who were delegates wanted to maintain their elite status and not permit anyone other than an officially elected delegate be allowed to vote. 

Now, here are some issues I  found persuasive.  First, we want as many persons to be involved as possible and in order to get them to a deanery meeting what better way (in fact what other carrot is there) than the vote?  AND< what is so all fired important and so all fired secret that ONLY delegates to convention should vote?  I do not think anything that happens at our deanery levels warrants on exclusivity provision.  The simple fact is that if the diocese of San Joaquin had continued to hold deanery meetings where everyone was invited and involved the likelihood of breaking away would have been diminished. Not eliminated but diminished. 

Second, we, the Episcopal Church, needs more laity input and more laity control and this is a good start.  Maybe some would say it is only a "bone thrown to appease" but we have to start somewhere. 

Third, it was apparent that many of our laity had not learned the lessons currently being taught under the guise of exclusivity.  Furthermore, we need to not trust our fate to a few when we can shine the light of day on these types of issues. 

The resolution passed.  Anyone who wishes to attend and takes the time to be involved can and will vote on whatever issues are presented at that time.  But, the vote was 16 to 8.  While the majority clearly ruled the minority voice clerly indicated there is still much work to do, even here in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thinking Alike?

I was reading Thinking Anglicans Nineteen Anglican bishops meet in Dar Es Salaam when I decided to look at the last time a bunch or primates meet in Dar Es Salaam (2007) and compare the results. Of course the results are radically different but what struck me is something that has probably already been discussed because it struck many others a long time ago.   somewhere along the continuum that is fondly referred to as the Anglican Communion, someone decided we must all "think alike".  The "dispute" that has arisen is one in which apparently no one province can think differently than the "group", the group being the Anglican Communion.  In recent years the policy that has evolved is no one can think any differently than the Global South, also known as the Conelonialists.  The primates from that neck of the woods have fallen back on the "appeal to authority" also known as "the faith once delivered" and "solo scriptura" to cut off any and all discussion.  This group has turned into a gang of thugs either punishing or wanting to punish anyone who thinks or acts differently than they do.  They develop Windsor reports, they develop covenants (also known as covenants not to compete) and they punish primates that do  not toe the line by no taking communion with them, by meeting in separate rooms, by ignoring you to your face and other middle school antics designed to make them feel better. 

The upshot of all of this is "group think".  We must all think and act alike.  There appears to be no room for thinking and exploring and just plain wondering let alone acting on clearly defined requirements from Jesus.

I write this for the following reason.  When I was working in another world/lifetime I had a discussion with one of my bosses.  It seemed we were not on the same page and we were not on the same page in public, usually not a good thing, but I felt pretty strongly about my position.  After the public debate I was talking with this person and I apologized for the clearly different stance.  He said to me, "If we both always thought alike then one of us would not be necessary."  I took that to heart and it has become one of my guiding principles.  It is how we grow and mature.  While this person is not God (I have never made that mistake) I believe the nugget there is that God's greatest gift to us is the ability to think and reason.  That is how we mature and grow in our faith.  So I add to the conelonialists,  "If we both always thought alike then one of us would not be necessary."