Sunday, December 6, 2009

Feed My Sheep: A Token of Trust

Here is the immediate response by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the election of Mary Glasspool as one of two new suffragan bishops in the diocese of Los Angeles. Keep in mind, ++Williams has NOT taken a stance on the "creation of an open season on LBGT brothers and sisters in Uganda.

Anglican Communion News Service

Archbishop of Canterbury's Statement on Los Angeles Episcopal Elections
Posted On : December 6, 2009 9:54 AM | Posted By : Webmaster

The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.

The process of selection however is only part complete. The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees. That decision will have very important implications.

The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold.

Many folks have written about this already. I would like to add just a few comments from the Archbishop's own book, Tokens of Trust.

++Williams writes, "So an explanation that even hinted that some lives were less important than others would be a betrayal of one of the basic insights of faith."

"God is always at work, but the work is not always visible."

"So it is appropriate that in the universe there should be beings who show something of God's liberty, God's love, God's ability to make new things and to make relationships."

"Things are going on in the universe, glorious and wonderful things, of which we know nothing."

"There's no kind of thing or person that is objectionable to God by nature or insignificant for God, nothing that isn't his responsibility."


"We have grounds for hoping that our lives here within the complex system of created reality can show in some degree the gratuitous and generous love out of which everything comes, the love of the Creator in whose image we are made."

Archbishop Rowan Williams, you have written about it and I would hope that what you wrote you believe. It is time to act on that belief. As an ordained priest in the Anglican communion your first responsibility is to the laity, to whom you wrote so eloquently, and not to the Anglican Global South, or to the FCA or to the ACNA or even to the Anglican Communion. With all due respect, we ask that you live up to your vows as a priest, "feed my sheep".

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How Many Books of Common Prayer Can You Juggle

Item 6 from the Jerusalem Declaration has this to say about the prayer book:

We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.

during the course of the First Convention of the new Anglican diocese of San Joaquin the diocese adopted the Jerusalem Declaration lock, stock and barrel. So, naturally, being the good diocesan folks that they are, the dean of the Cathedral now writes the following in a blog called soundings.

The Dean of the Anglican Cathedral of St. James has this to say about the prayer book:

The newly formed North American expression of the Anglican Communion, ACNA is in new territory. This is true in liturgics as much as every other area of our common life. Recently I have heard numerous voices expressing deep suspicion directed at the 1979 Prayer Book and calling for a return to the 1928 BCP or even a return to the 1662 Prayer Book (though some call for a kind of “modernization” of the language of the 1662 Book). The reasons for this desire are no doubt many, ranging from the well known and sustained attacks on the theology of the new prayer book expressed by the Prayer Book Society in their publications, to a kind of general angst that connects the '79 prayer book with the theological misadventures of the past thirty years in the Episcopal Church. Recently I read an article telling of the duplicity of Urban T. Holmes, exposing his alleged cover-up when challenged by traditionalists that the new prayer book under his oversight represented an enormous change in theology. Furthermore, a great many seem to think that by jettisoning the '79 prayer book the new Province will somehow be made safer from a return to the heresies of TEC.

Either they are confused, cannot get it straight, or just plain do what they want when they want.

And, as an added thought, The Book of Comon prayer, in the Episcopal Church is a foundational document that can only be changed by natioanl Convention. It is not a document to be played with by every tom, dick and dean.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Updated: Stop The Madness

For this one post I am stepping away from the theme and the issues of the Episcopal Church in San Joaquin and the Episcopal Church at large and religion in general. I am dismayed to say the least at what president Obama is about to say and do and I will no longer stay quiet.

As a combat veteran of Viet Nam 1968-1969, Alpha Company, 3rd Tanks, 3rd Marine Division, sending troops to anywhere with a purpose and an intent that is good and sufficient is not a problem for me. My father served in WWII and my son sits in the Gulf of Oman as I write this little ditty. I also have no problem with those that protested the war some 40+ years ago and I have made my peace with even those who left the country to avoid the war. I have also learned the lessons that Viet Nam taught us, particularly those of us that served. I have had people die in my arms, so yes, I understand only too well that lesson. My interpretation is do not send anyone anywhere without a specific cause and a specific plan, a life is way to precious to waste for any other reason. I also fully understand that we have the most professional military of any country in the world. We also have the most efficient military of anywhere in the world, and most of the world knows this also.

So, when we sent troops to Afghanistan many years ago to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden for the bold and dastardly attack on the twin towers, I did not lose one moment of sleep and I did not hesitate one moment even though I was deeply concerned about the president that did this. Clearly, the mission was to capture or kill Osama and I was all for that. I understand collateral damage and if someone got in the way of that goal either step aside or be run over is an okay answer.

Then for some reason that I will never understand, we engaged Iraq. What a stupid thing to do, I thought. It takes troops away from the mission in Afghanistan and makes it all that much more difficult and to be honest (as if former President Bush could), I thought getting even with Saddam for trying to kill George HW Bush was a pretty petty reason for sending American troops into harms way. But it seems that everyone got over that and we are on the verge of an orderly removal of that. (The secondary reason of "They [Iraq} have our [US} oil under their ground was also never very convincing). At any rate, troops are coming home and now President Obama turns to Afghanistan and is about to send another 30-40,000 troops into harms way to help the government of Afghanistan get a start? What the heck happened to the original idea? When did we change our goals to something like propping up a government in a country we have no real interest in and no real reason for even being there? Did we not learn the lessons of Vietnam? Did somebody suffer a concussion in which that part of the collective memory was lost?

Let me end this with where I began. My son is in the Gulf of Oman. He and his friends are professionals, they go where they are told to go, and do what they are told to do. That is the beauty of our military; actually, that is the brilliance of our military. It is up to our civilian government to say where and when and how and for how long. I for one, do not want my son and his friends, pilots and his shipmates, to be there for one more second than needs be. If, we are there for "the long haul" and we will continue a mission that is ill-defined and ill-conceived and we are unwilling to do what we started to do in the first place, then it is time to stop the madness.


With all due respect, President Obama's arguments in favor of the differences between Viet Nam and Afghanistan were unconvincing. The people are an insurgent group; the twin towers and the gulf of Tonkin incident are very similar. Sorry, he did not mention resolving the Osama Bin Laden issue. I am unconvinced and I am sorely disappointed.

Friday, November 27, 2009

To Those Who Have Been Led Astray

From the Epistle Reading for the First Sunday in Advent:

[9] For what thanksgiving can we render to God for you, for all the joy which we feel for your sake before our God,
[10] praying earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you;

[12] and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men, as we do to you,
[13] so that he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

It is the first Sunday in Advent. I realize that with Advent comes the idea of waiting . . . for Christ to come. My limited understanding is that I am waiting for both the birth of Jesus but also the Second Coming. But, as I read this passage it not only informs me of Christ and his anticipated coming/return but perhaps the coming/return of all those who have fled the Episcopal Church looking for something "else". Something "Anglican", something "scripturally bound". And so I look at verse 12,
"and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men, as we do to you".

You may think that you have not been lied to but look at your "Anglican connection". Are you closer to the Archbishop of Canterbury or further away? Look on the Anglican Communion website and see if you can find your diocese.

You may think you have not been lied to but have any of those issues that John David promised would be resolved, have they been resolved?

You may think that you have not been lied to but if you are praying out of the BCP 1547 something is amiss.

My prayer, this advent, is going to be for the coming home of all of you, coming home to the Episcopal Church. But more importantly, I pray for your love to grow to encompass all men! And my prayer for those of us is that our love for you will grow so that when you return we receive you with open arms, a grateful soul, and a loving heart.

Bless you all and peace to you and to your families in this Advent year, 2009, and we'll keep a light on for you!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Jesus Is On The Wire

With all that is currently going on with the Manhattan Declaration and the Jerusalem Declaration and the recent events in Uganda and Nigeria I think it is necessary to post this. Keep in mind Advent is just around the corner and it is time to think about the coming of Christ. What is it that he wants from you and me and our neighbor.


(Thea Hopkins)

Run down church
Red clay
River covered
In a smoky haze

Sunday morning
The fire is out
Sunday morning
No one about

The earth is soft
This time of year
Boots get caked
From there to here

Down the road
Route 25
They found this boy
He was barely alive

Jesus is on the wire
So far away, higher and higher
Jesus is on the wire

They took him down
Off the fence
Cold as ice
Almost dead
They said that he
That he slept with guys
They said that he
Deserved to die

Jesus is on the wire
So far away, higher and higher
Jesus is on the wire

©2001 Grown Up Girl Music (ASCAP)

The song was written by Thea Hopkins and a brief play is on her blog. The reference/url redirection is to Peter, Paul and Mary's version of this song. Any way one views it this is a great song!

A hat tip to PFLAG Tricities blog for their help.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Isn't The Manhattan Declaration a Radical Drink?

Everyone remember Jim Jones and Kool-aid? As an interesting lead in, what I will call a grabber, a very good friend of mine was married by Jim Jones. Yes, THE Jim Jones -- Guyana and Leo McCarthy and the whole 9 yards. He escaped only because he saw early where all "that" was going. Apparently, Mr. Duncan, Mr. Iker, Mr. Schofield are all leading many a "would-be' Anglican down that very path to what kan only be kalled a Kool-aid ending.

There is a book, Things Your Minister Wants To Tell You (but can't because he needs the job) that deals with the issue of homophobia in nine (that is correct, 9) pages. I understand the Manhattan Declaration is something like 4,700 words. The book, written by Rev. Oliver "Buzz" Thomas is a pretty neat work. By the way, Buzz is a BAPTIST. Buzz was also the temporary parent of a gay child. The first question he askedwhen he became that surrogate parent, was "What makes a father reject his son?" The answer, RELIGION! It is indeed interesting to note that we want to kill each other more and faster when religion comes into play -- more so than any other single issue. To wit, the Book of Leviticus has a grand pronouncement about a man laying with another man. But there are also about a ton of things in Leviticus we no longer adhere to. Checkout the following:

This scene was written/taken from a response to a Dr. Laura Schlesinger radio program. The listener/author of the words is Ken Ashcraft who was compensated by the West Wing for using it (somewhat altered) in the scene you just viewed.

Buzz takes us back to Genesis and god's view of his handiwork, "And the Lord saw that it was good." Buzz then speaks to the issue of being born gay and and after he covers the now basic science and genetics and facts adds the oft repeated retort from a gay person, "Who in their right mind would choose this?" The question cutting to the issue of the pain and suffering that LBGT people go through on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.

The simple but inescapable logic Buzz uses is this, "If God created us and if everything God created is good, how can a gay person be guilty of being anything more than what God created him (or her) to be?" Buzz brings this all down to a chilling conclusion with this gem, "Viewed in this light, society's current intolerance toward homosexuals starts to look more like the racism of the Ku Klux Klan or the anti-semitism of Nazi Germany rather than authentic biblical faith." He then goes onto say that the people undermining the the family aren't the relative handful of gay couples lining up to marry; it's the multitude of heterosexual couples lining up to divorce!

Buzz ends this rather brief chapter with the following words: "so I ask you: Would you want to be discriminated against? Would you want to lose your job, housing, or insurance benefits because of something you have no control? Better yet, would you like it if society told you that you couldn't visit your lifelong partner in the hospital or file a claim on his (or her) behalf if he/she were murdered?

Sometimes theology can get complicated and the answers hard to come by.

Not this time."

The Jerusalem Declaration, the Manhattan Declaration, GAFCON, AMia, CANA, ACNA, the Global South??? Not this time.

I really encourage you to read this Baptist Pastor and writer. When you do, ask yourself, "What is keeping us apart?"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shadow Boxing In the Dark

Here is the latest quote from our Archbishop as he takes the Pope to task:

Speaking before he meets Benedict XVI tomorrow, Dr Rowan Williams told a conference in Rome that the Catholic Church’s refusal to ordain women was a bar to Christian unity.

And, dear friends, here is a direct quote from Mr. Iker:

Katharine Jefferts Schori has no authority over me or my ministry as a Bishop in the Church of God. She never has, and she never will.

Why does the Archbishop continue to recognize Robert Duncan and John David Schofield despite the similar grounds?

Then there is the full inclusion issue for LGBT that seems to be a stumbling block for +Henri Luke Orombi and +Peter Akinola.

The Archbishop of Canterbury goes on to spar with the Pope saying,
But yesterday the Archbishop made clear that there would be no turning back the clock on women priests in order to appease critics. He dismissed the Pope’s offer to disaffected Anglicans as barely more than a “pastoral response”, which broke little new ground in relations between the two Churches.

Why is this not true also:
But yesterday the Archbishop made clear that there would be no turning back the clock on LGBT priests in order to appease critics. He dismissed the Pope’s offer to disaffected Anglicans as barely more than a “pastoral response”, which broke little new ground in relations between the two Churches.

It is easy to shadow box in the dark, see, you cannot get hit, but then neither can you hit anyone else.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What Mission is Missing?

From the Jubilate Deo: The Diocese of South Carolina's Newsletter:

You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” You might think, what a way to start… but it’s the only legitimate way, because prayer is the only way to activate the faith necessary to complete the earthly impossible.
For four years, four people prayed in a building that should have been condemned.

This is how the article starts. I am unfortunately, not interested so much in the specific mission as I am in the overall mission. It seems that South Carolina, along with six other diocese are interested in missions. Starting them, helping them grow, bringing them "new life" in an enriching environment. What a truly prophetic and wonderful goal. Oh, except for one thing, "your" mission, to get help, has to be "theologically sound". By theologically sound, that is code words for in keeping with the ideas espoused by the Communion Partners bishops. See, Mark Lawrence, has many would be missions in South Carolina. One in particular,St. Mark's Chapel has been then for over 7 years and has been passed over, first by Bishop Salmon and then by Bishop Lawrence. This mission wants to be Episcopalian, i.e., recognized and part of and in close cooperation with the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. It holds strong beliefs in inclusiveness and in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Apparently, these are not the characteristics that endear them to +Mark Lawrence. +Lawrence wants a mission to be exclusive when it comes to certain, well you know, people. Never mind that they have survived all on their own with no help from the diocese and will continue to do so. He, +Lawrence, has on at least 2 different occasions told them flat out, they are not his kind of church.

Too bad mission means being loyal first to Mark Lawrence instead of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

TRUST: What We See vesus What We Believe

The Episcopal Church in the United States of America has been in existence since at least 1789. General Convention, created at that time, not only included but started with the laity and then included clergy and only "reluctantly" and "belatedly" included a House of Bishops. Clearly, William White trusted the laity to balance whatever else would happen in the future. This is unique in all of the Anglican world and it is the least understood piece of the Episcopal Church by anyone outside these United States. Laity inside the church are supposed to be our hidden strength. We believe that given the spiritual strength of the laity our church can do anything. The laity not only balance the clergy but on more than one occasion lead the clergy. That fits so very nicely with the concept of scripture, reason and tradition -- the Hooker three-legged stool. Clearly it is the extension of the whole idea that balancing scripture with reason and reason with tradition and tradition with scripture (and so forth) and the extension of what was begun in England with Hooker and Elizabeth and Cranmer and Locke and Hobbes. Since 1994 the laity have led the church in full inclusion by all for all and with the sacraments. Most notably our LBGT brothers and sisters.

The citizens of the United States have enjoyed a representative democracy since about 1789 and while we may not be the envy of the entire world we continue to receive millions of refugees even today. Of late several states have exercised the franchise and in so doing restricted the rights of one or more groups. Most notably and most frequently our LBGT brothers and sisters. Proposition 8 in California and I think it was proposition 1(or 1E) in Maine. There has also been at least one other state where when given the opportunity, the laity elect bigotry instead of full inclusion.

This leads me to my real question or rather my dilemma. Trust, I am having some real trust issues with this whole area. What do i mean? Well, we, the laity have a significant role to play in the governance of our church. In fact, it would be interesting to see some changes wherein the laity take a more prominent role at convention. But, and this is a large but at that, what I have seen lately scares me almost beyond belief. One could say that those who have voted for the propositions throughout the country to restrict LGBT rights are Catholics and Mormons and Baptists and others, certainly not Episcopalians. And to that I would say, "Hold on Buckeroos!". Look at the diocese of Quincy and San Joaquin, and the diocese of Pittsburgh and Fort Worth. And Look at the diocese of South Carolina and the diocese of Louisiana. I am convinced that I would not want a majority of those folks voting on whether the sun will rise tomorrow let alone on any one's right to participate fully in sacraments.

So, folks what do you think we should do? Do we go with William White (ultimately he was a bishop) and strengthen and expand the the laity's role in General Convention or do we do something different? If something different what should it be?

While you are thinking on this, keep St. Mark's Chapel in Beaufort, South Carolina in your prayers and keep those cards and letters going to now Bishop Lawrence soon to be Mr Lawrence going.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Who Are these Folks From St. Mark's?

Here, in their own words, is the community of believers named after one of the chroniclers of Jesus.

St. Mark's Chapel
A Community of Episcopalians

1004 11th Street , Port Royal, South Carolina

Who We Are and How We Came to Be

Anticipating the population growth on Ladies Island, in the mid 1990’s there was dialogue concerning establishment of an Episcopal mission in northern Beaufort County, an idea which unfortunately never materialized. The interest in such a mission resurfaced following the 74th General Convention of The Episcopal Church (TEC) in 2003 when St. Mark’s Chapel formed under the leadership of The Rev. Roger William Smith, a retired Episcopal priest. Initially, eight people met at his house and began a ministry which now averages over 20 communicants each Sunday. Overall, our mailing list includes about 60 individuals, mostly confirmed Episcopalians. Upon Mr. Smith's recent retirement, the chaplaincy was assumed by the Rev. Robert Hansel, also a retired Episcopal priest.

Initially we were a house church that met in one another’s homes bimonthly. Realizing the need for a “consistent” location (to avoid confusion and attract additional members), in the fall of 2007 we relocated to the Room by the Bay of the Sea Island Inn in downtown Beaufort. In April 2009 we moved to the Port Royal Masonic Lodge where we met every Sunday at 10:00 a.m. Beginning our seventh year in November, 2009, we moved to our first actual church building, the historic, 1878 Union Church of Port Royal. Overall, we practice a shared lay/clergy ministry approach to worship and leadership of St. Mark’s Chapel. We have been fortunate in the availability of several priests to celebrate Holy Eucharist. When clergy are not available to celebrate Eucharist, we enjoy lay-led Morning Prayer or special lay-led services.

St. Mark’s continues to be a Total Ministry fellowship engaged in outreach. Total Ministry means that we encourage all members, not just the ordained, to offer themselves to the community. Representing our chapel, St. Mark’s members have been active in Family Promise, a program for homeless families in Beaufort County, and in RxAccess, an ecumenical effort to assist eligible clients in applying for free or reduced–priced medications. In addition to hands-on outreach, we have provided financial support for Habitat for Humanity, mission work in the Dominican Republic, the Child Abuse Prevention Association and have been one of the leading diocesan supporters of the Episcopal Relief and Development program.

We view church as existing to support, confront and challenge members to engage the world in Christ’s name. We believe church life respects differences, openly addressing them directly while seeking resolution, reconciliation and acceptance. Accepting challenge, our chapel anticipates and welcomes change as part of God’s action. Underlying all we believe is our commitment to follow Jesus’ Great Command: Love God and love your neighbor.

We are shaped by an educational ministry which focuses on the teaching of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit for change in contemporary life. Due to the age of our members, we have not yet developed a children’s program but look forward to that as we increase in membership. Several of our members have experience in planning and leading Christian education.

To understand St. Mark’s Chapel, one must understand the context in which it has evolved. The Diocese of South Carolina is a group of primarily conservative parishes which tend more and more to emphasize their Anglican roots vs. the Episcopal. It seems to be leaning toward the theology of GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference sponsored by the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans). While we respect this difference in religious perspective, this apparent departure from TEC is a major concern of ours: We have no desire to leave TEC. We believe that the Holy Spirit is guiding us in ways to live via an ever-evolving understanding of the Message of Christ.

St. Mark’s celebrated its sixth anniversary in November 2009. During those five years we have made several attempts to be recognized officially in the Diocese as a mission. Our first venture was a meeting with clergy and wardens of St. Helena’s Episcopal Church (the only Episcopal Church in northern Beaufort County) to discuss the possibility of becoming a parochial mission of that parish. By mutual concurrence, vast theological differences precluded such a relationship.

Our next step toward formal Episcopal status occurred in the winter of 2007 when we attended at St. Helena’s a meeting called by then Bishop Salmon who, over the years, had been supportive of St. Mark’s and posited that “it was not nice to be in exile,” leading to our hope of becoming a diocesan mission. Present in addition to Bishop Salmon and Bishop-Elect Mark Lawrence were the rector of St. Helena’s and his two wardens as well as their Bishop-in-Residence Alden Hathaway. The final decision about our status was passed to the hands of Bishop-Elect Lawrence who, after he was consecrated, declined to recommend to the Diocesan Convention the admission of St. Mark’s as a diocesan mission. .

After that disappointment, a fruitful meeting with the vestry of All Saints Episcopal Church, Hilton Head, resulted in All Saints’ request to the Diocese that St. Mark’s become their parochial mission. In October 2008, a delegation from St. Mark’s met with the bishop to discuss that possibility, and he, again, opposed the admission of St. Mark’s to the Diocese even as a parochial mission. Since that meeting, the members of St. Mark’s have entered into a period of discernment to explore who we are, decide where we want to go, and articulate our role in spreading the Gospel. This historical review is part of the outcome of that discernment period. We continue to explore ways to gain official recognition as Episcopalians as we continue to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit. For more details on St. Mark’s Chapel, see or call 522-9636.

Please do not let these Episcopalians be lost in the dance we have come to recognize as the Anglican two-step.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Even David What's His name Agrees

From ******online:

Despite the losses, some orthodox bishops have shown an amazing graciousness when equally orthodox parishes have decided to flee. Both the bishop of Central Florida, John W. Howe, and Dallas Bishop James Stanton have let parishes go (with fair market value) without a lawyer intervening, demonstrating that it is possible to be obedient to Scripture which abhors such actions. (Prov. 25: 8 and 1 Corinthians 6:1-7. But is the Bible explicitly against legal action? When is legal action appropriate for a Christian? To be clear, the Bible does not say a Christian can never go to court. In fact, Paul appealed more than once to the legal system, exercising his right to defend himself under Roman law (Acts 16:37–40; 18:12–17; 22:15–29; 25:10–22). In Romans 13, Paul taught that God had established legal authorities for the purpose of upholding justice, punishing wrongdoers, and protecting the innocent. Consequently, legal action may be appropriate in certain criminal matters, cases of injury and damage covered by insurance, as well as trustee issues and other specified instances.

So, if that is the case, then Bishop Lawrence, why do you not let St. Mark's Chapel move to a place where they can continue for the foreseeable future to be a constituent member of the Episcopal Church. they do not even own property so there is nothing to square up and there is nothing to balance -- except maybe justice with mercy.

+Mark, how about allowing the good people of St. Mark's Chapel Beaufort, SC to come out of exile?

For thopse of you who may wish to send a note of support, here is the official email address:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bishop Mark Lawrence: Did You Forget Something?

With the consents of 10 standing committees still needed for his consecration, the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence, bishop-elect of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, has again written to the Standing Committees of the Episcopal Church to clarify his position about the diocese's continuing membership in the Episcopal Church.

"I have been told that some diocesan Standing Committees have graciously offered to reconsider their denial of consent to my election as the XIV Bishop of South Carolina, if they only have assurance of my intention to remain in The Episcopal Church," he wrote. "Although I previously provided assurance of my intention, this has not been sufficient for some Standing Committees, which are earnestly seeking to make a godly discernment."

"As I stated at the walkabout in Charleston on September 9, 2006, and again in a statement written on 6 November 2006, I will make the vows of conformity as written in the Book of Common Prayer and the Constitution & Canons, (III.11.8). I will heartily make the vows conforming ‘…to the doctrine, discipline, and worship’ of the Episcopal Church, as well as the trustworthiness of the Holy Scriptures. So to put it as clearly as I can, my intention is to remain in The Episcopal Church."

+Lawrence, this is your quote from the Episcopal News Service. Based on the recent convention news from South Carolina you maybe fibbed just a tad? perhaps stretched the truth? Was it so you could be bishop? There is this theory that "the ends justify the means"? Perhaps you and God subscribe to a higher truth?

Be that as it may, if you cannot live up to your promise why would you deny a small group of Episcopalians that right? Why would you not let the good folks at St. Mark's Chapel, you know, the ones you feel have no real standing, stay with the Episcopal Church?

Good readers of this blog, help Bishop Lawrence to remember his promise and remind him that there is room for disagreement and that that disagreement should not be buried beneath the weight of his crushing need to "follow his conscience". Remind him that there are others out there that would like to follow their conscience. Write to him or send a facebook message to remind him of this.

Thank you.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

An Open Letter To Bishop Mark Lawrence

The Right Reverend Mark Lawrence
XIV Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina
Diocesan House
126 Coming Street
Charleston, SC, 29403

Dear Bishop Lawrence,

I remember you from your days in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. You have always been opinionated but you are known for being fair, maybe even just, and I pray, merciful.

You have a Mission by the name of St. Mark's Chapel. St. Mark's is a small but growing group who would like nothing more than to simply remain Episcopalian. Thus far, you have blocked every attempt by them to stay with the Episcopal Church.

Your Communion Partner's website clearly indicates that you, personally, believe, that there are ways for alternative oversight and yet, you deny that opportunity to a group of people inside your diocese. While it does absolutely nothing for your ability to extend your oversight to other parishes in other diocese it would indicate that you at least believe what you ask others to believe.

Please be merciful and extend the opportunity for St. Mark's Chapel to be a mission that can ultimately stay within the Episcopal Church.


Fred Schwartz

Thursday, October 29, 2009

St. Mark's Port Royal, SC is the New St. Dunstan's Modesto,CA

Good and gentle readers, lest you think I am foolish for having attempted to aide the good people at St. Mark's, Port Royal, South Carolina let me recall if you will, the strange and ugly case of St. Dunstan's Modesto, CA.

St. Dnstan's was a "mission" in the diocese of San Joaquin under the tutelage of the now deposed bishop, John David Mercer Schofield. This mission "owed" the diocese some money, about $150,000.00. The diocese, as it turned out, closed this mission ostensibly to recoup the funds owed and close a mission with "no promise". What really happened was the land and building was worth over $1.5 million and JDS was scooping up capital for the big trip down south and the subsequent legal fees he knew he would encounter. Here is the full story by none other than the righter of wrongs Mr. David Virtue.

My motivation in trying to rescue St. Mark's, well okay, simply trying to help them in some fashion was to see if we, Christ The King parish could help before St. Mark's ends up like St. Dunstan's. See, many of the St. Dunstan's people came to CTK after the debacle. Stories of all the personal items such as processional crosses that were donated to St. Dunstan's and now being sold, stained glass windows being lost to the new owner, parishioners being shunned and bad mouthed by the bishop came to us first hand. Tears, lamentations and emotional wrecks were the order of the day. The deposed bishop could care less! He had his war chest. And the worst of it is that none of that is reversible. One cannot get back that building, the land, the mission or the group of people known as St. Dunstan's. Fool that I was, I believed we at CTK in the now Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin could help another mission avoid a fate worse than death! How crazy I am! We cannot/could not help this mission because we need permission from bishops to help their diocese. Could you imagine? I surely thought that we could cut through the "red tape" to help someone who might not be there tomorrow in order to spare them from the apparent fate staring them in the face! Alas, we must stand by and watch Bishop Lawrence grind this mission into dust because we must follow the duly ordained process. How terribly sad. How pitifully depressing! How utterly useless we must be. And, how silly we must look to those who could care less. I have no idea how I am going to face those parishioners at CTK who joined us from St. Dunstan's.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An Open Retraction of My Open Offer

This grieves me greatly. It seems that I have made a serious error in judgement in offering an opportunity for fellow Episcopalians (St. Mark's, Port Royal, South Carolina) to break loose from the chains of tyranny.To the our fellow Episcopalians, Port Royal, I am so very sorry. I truly thought we could be of some significant service.

Here is the rationale as it comes from those in the know:

First, Bishops cannot intercede (even with DEPO) without the invitation of the bishop with jurisdiction. Even the appearance of the interceding raises complications for us and for the parish you wish to assist. However, it appears that St. Mark’s is not currently recognized as a congregation in the Episcopal Church, and no outside intervention can create a congregation in a diocese, only the diocesan bishop can. It also appears that they have made a direct appeal to the Presiding Bishop for pastoral support and guidance who subsequently responded with the direction that they contact the president of their Province. We do not want to prejudice any ongoing discussions with +Lawrence.

Canonically and ecclesiastically there is simply no formal role for EDSJ to play or any other diocese for that matter. Thus, your offer unintentionally holds out a false hope with respect to DEPO by +Jerry. By way of our experience in EDSJ, I am aware of the damage false hopes can cause, especially around attempts to escape from a bishop seeking on taking a diocese out of the Church. However, this does not rule out or prevent expressions of encouragement and support by individuals in your parish that feel so moved.

Second, we have learned a lot about these situations and many of us have traveled far and wide to lobby for changes in how the Church responds to these crises, including the predicament of the subject parish. As a result, they have changed their procedures and handle these situations very different than how EDSJ was handled. Certainly there is more work to do in this regard, but we have changed the system in a positive way.

Third, I would note that your suggestion that we ignore procedure in favor of substance is exactly the same argument that Schofield and most of the departing group used to justify their attempted removal of the assets of The Episcopal Church. These “procedures” are critical to the orderly conduct of our common life together as a Church and protect the “substance” of Church as well, albeit imperfectly.

(for the record: I suggested that we not let form rule out over substance, as opposed to ignoring anything as suggested above).

Fourth, the best thing we can do for other dioceses (Ft. Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, etc.) and groups like St. Mark’s is to be very successful in recovering and rebuilding our diocese. As you know, such an effort is rather daunting and complicated by our limited financial resources.

Given the above, it is my sincere hope that you could retract or modify your blog post so as to avoid disappointment and/or unnecessary confusion.

Please note I do not wish to call anyone out. I am incredibly depressed at this point. It seems that we cannot even help those most in need. The bishop of the diocese in question can and is one of the Communion Partner bishops that travelled to Canterbury and came back with the offer of alternative episcopal oversight for those parishes not in concert with the Presiding Bishop and without so much as a by your leave but woe unto us if we seek to help those on the other side of the issue.

I have wondered, often times out loud, whether we could triumph on these issues. I am still not sure but I am growing more convinced that we are not. When I raised this issue, thinking that we could at least look into the matter, hopeful that we might be able to provide more than prayerful moral support, so many folks distanced themselves from this it was not even funny.

As you can read, I am confused, confounded, disappointed with so many folks and I am ready to hang it up.

Monday, October 26, 2009

An Open Offer to St. Mark's Chapel, Port Royal, South Carolina

To: Mr. Scott Shaffer, Warden
The Reverend Robert R. Hansel, Chaplain
St. Mark's Chapel
P. O. Box 761, Port Royal, South Carolina 29935

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has just completed our 50 th Diocesan Convention. It was a joyous occasion! As you may know we have suffered mightily at the hands of now deposed John David Schofield, the mentor and confidant of your current bishop, The Right Reverend Mark Lawrence. The Parish of Christ The King in Riverbank, California is a parish that has suffered greatly as you now suffer and for many of the same reasons. We know your pain, we know the pain of isolation, we know the pain of rejection and most of all we know the pain of being alone.

We have longed for an opportunity to assist others in this type of predicament. your dilemma maybe something we can do something about. In the Presiding Bishop's letter it mentions DEPO. If you contact the Reverend Glenn Kanestrom, Rector at Christ the King Community Episcopal Church I believe that we may be able to intercede with our loving and caring bishop, The Right Reverend Jerry A. Lamb. I will be most candid, I do not know where this would lead, or even what all the issues are but I know this: No group of persons should be persecuted the way we were and the way you appear to be. We will do everything in our power to alleviate your pain and suffering. Please contact us, please challenge us to be a group of loving, caring inclusive Episcopalians.

Thank you for this great opportunity.

Contact information:

The Reverend Glenn Kanestrom
Rector, Christ The King Community Episcopal Church
6443 Estelle Ave., Riverbank, CA 95367

PS: I have emailed the appropriate personages already with a copy of this letter.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin "Gets 'er done!"

Bishop Lamb convenes "California Gold"

On Saturday, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin met for the 50th time and wowsers, was it different! First off, the diocese passed a resolution affirming D025 from General Convention D025. With the passage of this resolution came a strange event. Our Communion Partner's Rector's parish, tried to perform an end-run by "tabling this motion" until such time as the diocesan Equality Commission could "finish its work". Note well that the representative to the Equality Commission had in a large and loud huff quit the commission a few months prior. This was the same parish that a year ago tried to gut the resolution forming the Equality Commission. At any rate, there was a discussion on the motion to table (most everyone saw right through this) and the motion was defeated. The resolution in favor of affirmation of D025 passed with some no votes but clearly a majority. In addition the affirmation of C056 passed with some no votes but with a clear majority.

Interestingly, the Equality Commission was continued due to the lack of time they had to meet. It seemed that the commission worked only about half the year and so the work is not done. By the way, their survey can be found on our website. It makes for a very interesting read -- given where we were and where we are.

A disappointment was the passing of a resolution that each parish become a welcoming and inclusive parish and that by extension our diocese become a welcoming and inclusive diocese. So few parishes think about handicapped persons! Our buildings are old and not accessible and yet no one ever thinks about the rails, the restrooms, the steps, the aisles that are blocked, the chancel areas that wheel chairs and scooters cannot get to and other issues affecting accessibility. The resolution passed but only a couple of us talked to this issue of inclusivity.

Another resolution that passed was a commitment to the MGDs. Our diocese was not even permitted to speak to these goals under the old regime. Today, most parishes not only support these goals but work actively to bring the goals to fruition.

And finally, some house keeping stuff but very important. We now allow a lay person to hold the office of Secretary to Convention, we have restructured our Standing Committee to be more flexible in numbers and we have authorized a look see on how the administrative side of the diocese can be restructured.

The Budget, wow what a disappointment! TEC, hurting themselves from the economic crash has cut support to us down to a trickle, one that must be paid back! Yep, we are authorized a loan of up to $125,000.00 "if we need it"! Let me give you but two quick examples of how this has hurt us -- significantly. First, there is not line item for youth activities. Yes, we have youth and yes there are other ways to do this but a line item demonstrates commitment! Second, our convention, just renewed and rejuvenated, has been cut from a week-end to one day.

This was how JDS controlled this diocese. He streamlined the convention and then railroaded the budget therefore no one got to meet, no one got to talk, no one got to socialize and no one knew what anyone else was doing. It was the opening salvo by JDS and his forces to "keep everyone in the dark and feed them b***s***". I am not saying that is going to happen, I am saying that the appearance is sometimes as frightening as the actual deed. I am saying that with what has happened here in San Joaquin and what is going on right now we need More time and more help than what 815 is giving us and that is a fact Jack! The damage and destruction that was foisted on this diocese will take a lot longer than 25 minutes to repair. It is not that we are ungrateful, though it may sound like it but right now a line of credit, given all our litigation and the work that needs to be done with parishes coming back, a line of credit is like throwing a drowning person an anchor instead of a life preserver.
I realize that there are limits, but for those of us who have come this far and are enthusiastic about the next 50 years -- we still need help. It will take some more time and some more money. Sorry, that is just the way it is.

Friday, October 23, 2009

And God Said, "Let There Be Light"

The 50th Annual Convention for the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin grew from spark to flame on this pleasant October evening. It was a time for sipping wine, eating a light repast and talking with old friends we had not seen for a while. It was a time for workshops including one on Education for Ministry (Wilma attended this one) and Episcopal Relief and Development and one led by +Jerry Lamb and Chancellor Michael Glass (I attended this one. There will be more on this one later) that featured "Where are We Now". 'The later referred to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

It was also a time for vendors and bookstores and all sorts of things. Integrity, a group long banned from this diocese was there and visible! The old bishop (in age and in history) in the last five to ten years had few if any vendors and Integrity was never permitted. Clearly, we are different. Clearly, this diocese is beginning to live out their Christian beliefs.

Tonight, I feature a flyer from Straight for Equality. Since I am typing this I will simply say that this is a copyrighted item but since it was shared with me in physical form I feel comfortable sharing with all of you in digital form.

10 Things You Can do to Be A Straight Ally

Looking for simple ways to start being a more engaged and active straight ally? Try using a few of these suggestions to build your ally skills and start creating change.

Don't forget to visit and read the guide to being a straight ally.

1. Become informed about the realities, challenges and issues affecting the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender (GLBT) people's lives through websites, books, documentaries, and educational material (blogger note: for the bible tells me so is a great one!)

2. Be open about having gay friends, family or acquaintances that you value, respect, and are grateful to have in your life. When you talk about, them do not omit the fact they are GLBT.

3. Speak up when you hear derogatory slurs or jokes and don't tell them yourself.

4. Ask if you are unsure how a GLBT friend, family member, or acquaintance would like their significant other to be referred to or introduced, rather than avoiding acknowledgement of the relationship.

5. Help your kids learn about and appreciate all different kinds of families. Be mindful of the day-to-day messages that they are receiving about gay and transgender people and issues in school, from friend, and on TV. Talk about it with them.

6. Quit or don't join organizations that overtly discriminate. Let them know why you are leaving or not joining in the first place.

7. Support gay, lesbian, bi, and/or transgender-owned and -friendly businesses and ally businesses that have policies in place to ensure equal treatment for all.

8. Educate your church on which organizations are inclusive, and which ones aren't.

9. Write letters to the editor of your newspaper to comment as a straight ally on why you support respectful and equal treatment for GLBT people.

10. Call, write, e-mail, or visit public policy makers and let them know that as a straight person who votes, you support laws that extend equal rights and protections to all people.

We here in San Joaquin can now see a little better.

"God said, 'Let there be light', and there was light. God saw that light was good . . ." Genesis 1:3

More from convention later.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Saturday Fireworks

By now you must be aware that the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is meeting for the second (actually the third time) since the split. A couple of parishes have now rejoined us (TEC diocese of San Joaquin) which will make this an interesting convention. In addition, we have one of the illustrious Communion Partner Rectors in this diocese as well. If you do not remember who the Communion Partners are look them up on the web at There you will find our own Rev. Rob Eaton. These are the folks who think they can be Episcopalian and not live by the constitution canons and prayerbook of TEC. With this cast of characters located in the heart of the "get us out of the United Nations" territory we have the following three resolutions:

This resolution continues the Equality Commission from our first formal convention in which the delegates, tired of John David Schofield's mean-spiritedness authorized the beginnings of a change to reconcile those previously marginalized including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons, women, and various ethnic communities. Unfortunately the handicapped are still not included, at least not in this resolution. Father Rob Eaton and the gang from the Communion Partners tried to gut this resolution when it hit the floor by providing a substitute resolution but it did not work. Their representative to this commission quit in a huge huff. Should be exciting.

Then there is this one:

This is a resolution to affirm the GC Resolution D025.

Then there is this resolution:

which affirms the General Convention Resolution C056.

Please pray for the convention delegates because these issues are so very important and we are such a fledgling diocese and 10 things can go wrong and 9 of them are not very good.

More as things unfold. Check back beginning on Friday night.

Convention Daze

[Delegates for the 50th Annual Convention are showing up early this year.]

It is that time of the year again! Yep, the 50th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin wi8ll begin Friday Night! The nugget hidden within the three days is meant to be the visioning process. This will be something akin to "What do we want to be when we grow up?", or at least an answer to that question. That will occur on Saturday. Friday night will be a friendly get together with goodies and of course a little nectar. Along with that will be the vendors row and a series of workshops. along with "Where are we Now" and "Episcopal Health and Pension Benefits" will be "Education for Ministry". Friday night will be interesting but the main business will be done on Saturday. A couple of issues will be up for discussion including a report by a commission on the marginalization of many groups including LGBT and handicapped groups. What has been done in the past and what we ought to be doing. Also, from a practical standpoint, I think we will get a glimpse of what a "shared diocesan administration" might look like. Saturday night we will have an evening repast accompanied by a report from General Convention delegates on GC 2009, that should spark some interest!

I will try to post from the convention floor, or balcony or sidewalk or street corner depending on how close some folks will let me get to the action.

Keep watch as this may be an interesting second go-around for us. We have many issues that will begin to collide inclduing the first couple of groups back from "the dead" as it were. Yes, we have had two parishes return to the fold and will have full voting rights for this convention. This action should make for some interesting discussions on the floor!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nothin' from Nothin' Leaves Vatican

Well, something is amiss. Everybody is talking about the "opportunity" to have an ordinariate within the Roman Catholic Church. As Fr. Mark points out,

"This process is presented as part of the ecumenical hope for the reunion of Christians into one body, but it really is that hope made a dream, the Roman dream that all Christians might finally return to one church, the Roman Catholic Church. It is a dream of the past, not of the future. The ecumenical hope is not reunion with Rome, but reunion with one another in Christ. This thing is no part of it."

Here is the first verse:

Ode To Pope Benedict

Nothin' from nothin' leaves the Vatican
You gotta have somethin'
If you wanna be with me
Nothin' from nothin' leaves the Vaticn
You gotta have something
If you wanna be with Benny

We have done this to ourselves. Yes, because we, the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, were unable to use the process of reflective and prayerful consensus effectively we now have choices like:

1, be devoured by ACNA,
2, be devoured by the Roman Church, or
3, drift into oblivion.

All really great choices folks. I would like to start by thanking my clergy, particularly the deposed bishop and his cronies for a major portion of this screw up. We could have sat in convention and when faced with difficult decisions prayed and then returned to discussion. What's that you say, that would never work? Well I have been on at least 3 different vestries that worked on prayerful consensus and it ALWAYS worked!

Then I would like to thank the current clergy and power structure of the Episcopal Church and more specifically the now, Archbishop of Canterbury (and the entire Anglican communion), soon to be priest in charge. Faced with devastating issues in multiple diocese, San Joaquin, Forth Worth, Pittsburgh, etc. as well as worldwide issues and challenges from small-minded, narrow thinking, petty little men, we have seemed to flounder and stumble through at least the beginnings of these times allowing the "ship" to drift aimlessly -- at least for a while, and we have never recovered (yet) from that drift. As a result, the Roman Church has seen our folly and "come to our rescue".

Next, let's thank ARCIC (both Roman and Anglican) for leaving us hanging with but one more issue to resolve. It would have been so simple for the ARCIC to simply agree to bring the Anglican Communion on board as a "Rite" such as the Coptics. We could have been the "English Rite" and been reunited in a heart beat (and on an equal footing) but, we began to fight publicly. Oh and, no one has the guts to deal with the Pope. Talk about the elephant in the room. Read Garry Wills. There weren't just bad popes, there were evil popes, there were popes who bought the office, who were married into the office and who gained the office by birth(?). Now, the one stumbling block becomes the vehicle by which we are "saved"?

So, here is the next verse:

I'm not tryin' to be your hero
'Cause that zero is too cold for me, Brrr
I'm not tryin' to be your highness
'Cause that minus is too low to see, yeah

So the arm that is outstreatched has a poison apple in it -- All one needs to do is take a bite -- and sleep for the rest of your life!

Nothin' from nothin' leaves the Vatican
And I'm not stuffin'
Believe you me
Don't you remember I told ya
I'm a soldier in the war for oppression, yeah
Yes, I am

Well, here ya go:

So, here we sit. Shall we just take a bite and end it all or shall we get serious and begin to resolve what ails us, build on our strengths and step out in faith. We are certainly, as I believe the Episcopal Church is certainly, overdue!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mullins - San Joaquin - Bishops

Mullins in his deposition in Fort Worth (he also submitted a similar document in the San Joaquin case) establishes The Episcopal Church as a hierarchical church. Much has been made of this by the orthodites but the fact remains, The Episcopal Church is a hierarchical church. The General convention, the Constitution, the canons and the Book of common Prayer are THE KEYS to the TEC kingdom.

Much these days is being written about bishops. See Father Jake's post or Preludium At Father Jake's place he asks about "your impressions of bishops". Here, we are going to do a little more than that.

William White, in his writings really questioned the need for a bishop. Initially at least he leaned toward the concept that bishops were superfluous at best and a hindrance at worst. White, in his work The Case of The Episcopal Churches Considered was the chief architect of the House of Deputies, i.e., legislative body that included laity. Keep in mind that the first convention actually met without bishops. Fortunately, or unfortunately, it was the Connecticut church that insisted on an episcopacy. It was their movement that culminated with the consecration of Seabury by Bishops in Scotland. After that, the bicameral legislature of the General convention was established with the House of Bishops.

So we have Bishops and they have a significant say in what goes on. They are, subject to the following," to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church" and "to share with [his or her] fellow bishops in the government of the whole church". Here is a question I have: How did we get from a "pastor to the pastors" to running a national church? What classes in seminary do they take to make them particularly gifted in governance? What classes do they take that make them particularly gifted in administration? Are most bishops selected for their "pastoral abilities" ? We go from gee we need a bishop to handing over the keys to the car? Let's look at a couple of these.

The now bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin spent more time in the last 4 or 5 years outside the diocese than inside. He worried less about pastoring to the clergy, his primary job, to "wordsmithing" fraudulent corporate documents (The Protestant Episcopal Church In the United States of America, articles of incorporation). He stacked the clergy inside the diocese of San Joaquin and just what classes and what experiences made him qualified to do personnel selections?

How about the esteemed +John Guernsey? Wanted to be bishop so bad he could taste it. The perceived power, the real power, the ability to flaunt and to be arrogant are hard to pass up for some folks. He simply took advantage of the opportunities presented to become a "powerful person" in the church.

Now, from personal experience I grew up with at least one bishop. A Maryknoll that was focused on one thing, pastoring to the millions of folks who needed it. He was quiet, unassuming, and a blessing from God. So yes, I do know bishops that are everything they are supposed to be.

So, let's par down to a lot fewer bishops and let's make the position a servant-leader position as opposed to what it is today. Perhaps, since some folks like "numbers" one bishop per state. That ought to keep them all busy all day every day. Secondly, let's relegate the House of Bishops to a lessor status and elevate the House of Deputies to a more influential status with more lay participation. Bishops should be pastors to the clergy, let the regular priests do confirmations and the likes, let the bishops take care of the clergy. Let parishes hire and fire clergy without any consent from the bishop. Let the General Convention take care of the rest.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mullin's Deposition, The prayerbook and San Joaquin

Part II of our continuing discussion of the Mullins Deposition and its meaningfulness to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin begins with the prayerbook. John David Schofield has on many occasions and in various public and private settings complained longly and loudly about the 1979 Prayerbook. Let's examine this complaint in light of the deposition given by Bruce Mullin. This deposition is available on Preludium and I urge you to read it all. I also encourage everyone to read The History of the Episcopal Church by Manross.

Mullins states,
"The General Convention meets at least once every three years to establish the policies, rules, and programs of the Church. It has adopted and from time to time amends the Church's governing documents, its Constitution, canons, and Book of Common Prayer."
Further in Mullin talks about the ability of any diocese to use a proposed/revised Book of Common Prayer only until such time as the First General Convention. Clearly the Book of Common Prayer is one of the governing documents of The Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

Then Bishop John David Schofield comes along, some 20 to 30 years later and says he personally has significant issues with the Book of Common Prayer. During the last four or so years before the schismatic move JDS he railed on three major issues: Women's Ordination; LGBT full inclusion, and the errant Book of Common Prayer. The prayerbook creates uniformity in worship. Apparently JDS did not like the uniformity and so, lo and behold the GAFCON people adopt the 1662 prayerbook as their official Book of Common Prayer. In effect, not only does he reject a major governing document established from the beginning of the Episcopal Church (1789) but rejects the American Revolution and goes back to swearing allegiance to the crown of England!

Can a bishop do this? Can a bishop that does this stay a bishop in the United States? Does this person now fall under the Patriot Act? These are all questions that will be answered in the near future.

Folks in the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin -- is this what you wanted to do?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mullins Deposition: San Joaquin Style

Interestingly enough the Mullins Deposition published by Father Mark Harris over at Preludium is not identical to the document submitted to the California Courts. Well, it is in substance but the length of the deposition submitted here was quite different (longer) than the one submitted in Fort Worth. The Mullins document (document will be used to distinguish the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin submission from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth [deposition]) was used in the move to summary judgement sought and won by the EDSJ. My best guess is that in each diocese that is under attack the Mullins document/deposition will take on the flavor of the diocese, i.e., it will meet the unique needs of that Episcopal diocese but the sum and substance will remain the same. It is that sum and substance that I will address in this series of articles.

What exactly do I mean by sum and substance? Well, I do not wish to take on the historical nature of the document as much as I would like to address the issues raised by the now infamous Mr. John David Mercer Schofield. I wish to address the history, recent history of this diocese and its actions based on the issues raised by the wannabe Anglicans (far as I know they are not accepted as part of the Anglican Communion even though they think they are). In other words, I will track the deposition and the actions of TEC and then compare them to the actions of John David Schofield and his minions in what is now some far fetched church that claims to be in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury but has not been recognized as such.

So, let's begin with the entire document. The document describes in excruciating detail the history and corresponding legacy of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. It speaks to the General Convention, the Canons and the Constitution and the prayer Book. It discusses every aspect of the life and times of the Episcopal Church in the United States. It provides clear rationale for every action generally contested by those who would tear apart the fabric of The Episcopal Church.

The major opening point to be made here in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is that despite the determination to ordain women years ago JDS refused to do so. This did not lead to much of anything on either side of the aisle BUT when The Episcopal Church elected a female Presiding Bishop, suddenly, he and his cronies just had to leave. Make no mistake and do not be mislead by what one says. What one says and what one does are two very different things. He/They say the issue is one of moral issues having to do with LGBT but nothing ever really happened until ++Schori was elected. The fact is there are a group of men in our church that just cannot take orders from women and they will go to great lengths to avoid it. Before, JDS and cronies said all sorts of things but that was under Frank Griswold. They parried but never did anything seriously. Suddenly, after ++Schori's election, the "issues" become too great and they MUST leave. keep in mind that the issue of sexual orientation was decided in 1994! But, they MUST leave now, after the election of a women. Methinks ye doth protest too much Mr. Schofield, Mr. Duncan and Mr. Iker.

Much more later.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Professor Mullins and the Sounds of Silence

I have been trying to be good for all these months and yes, my dissertation is almost on track. But, there comes a time when silence needs be broken and this is one of those times.

Father Mark Harris has published a couple of pretty good posts on the recent spate arising out of South Carolina and Fort Worth. Professor Mullins on the Polity of the Episcopal Church is critically important document that is just now coming to light. It has probably been around for some time and I would hazard a guess that this document is the written form that has been the basis for much if not all of the actions (or reactions?) taken by The Episcopal Church.

I have had a chance to read this document and, IMHO, it is a document that bears some significant scrutiny. Well, actually, having lived through the antics of Mr. John David Schofield and his gang of thieves, it will be well worth the time to investigate the travels and travails of the Diocese of San Joaquin in light of Professor Mullins deposition. I believe there is much yet to discuss with regard to not only the actions of those who would destroy our church but also those who would or are chiefly responsible for preserving our church. We will discuss missed opportunities, we will discuss actions taken and never brought to light let alone responded to in a meaningful way and we will talk about the motives and the means and the ultimate goals of those who "in good conscience" just had to reestablish themselves in a right relationship with Canterbury.

So, by all means read the deposition and the work Father Mark has developed and you might also re-read the work over at Father Jake's place just to refresh your memories a little. Then hop in and put your seat belt and shoulder harness on 'cause we are going for a ride!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Who Is In and Who Is Out or The Big Tent Revisited

There is a growing debate over at Jake's Place about who gets to stay and who gets to leave the Episcopal Church. I know the heading and the initial post doesn't say that but take some time to read the comments section. Fr. Bill, along with I think one other, asks the question should he stay or leave the Episcopal Church. More specifically, is there "room" for his viewpoints, I would assume as a priest in TEC.

This is no small question and yet I think stands somewhat apart from the more general question of the big tent. I would like to comment on that more fully here, allowing each of you to do the same.

Let me start by saying that I have lived and worshipped in some very different places. St. Matthias had a Rector that in his retired years, was the president of the local chapter of the United Nations. His successor, when asked by city council to stop serving the poor and close the soup kitchen at his parish, "God has called me to this service, I will not close it just because it makes you uncomfortable." A true parish in Menlo Park, Trinity Parish. Because of the proximity to Stanford University we got not only a very Anglo-Catholic overtone but some excellent sermons as well. Moved to San Jose and attended briefly St. Francis. The moved to Virginia where we were first part of a mission, Holy Spirit (thank you St. Margaret's) then merged with a church from Triangle,VA and became All Saints Dale City. (A quarter to the first person who recognizes and correctly identifies the "Rector". During this time we had a terrible fight over the building -- some of us wanted to go inexpensively and "green" by building a dome while the leaders wanted the traditional steeple and all that jazz church. Moved to Fremont,CA and St. James Parish. Then moved to Trinity Orange where I served on the search committee and we recommended a woman for Rector- - WOWsers! Moved to Messiah Santa Ana -- probably the greatest single parish I have had the privilege of attending. back to St. Matthias in Whittier (we still attend on Christmas since Wilma's folks live there) and then to St. Matthias in the valley and finally moved to Christ the King in Riverbank. My point, in all of this, we have seen and heard a lot of different clergy, served on a bunch of Vestries, Stewardship Committees, LEm'ed, and searched. Travelled through time and space with the original astronut, JDS. We have seen and worked with probably every type of clergy there is and from all walks. Is there room for both liberal and conservative, anglo-catholic and evangelical? Let me state it this way -- If someone is discerning their way why would there not be room for them? We are/have a huge tent that can cover everyone. The operative words are discerning and of course not doing harm. Our communion is all inclusive and all encompassing we MUST or we fail our own self-imposed litmus test. Oh, and, by the way, anything else falls short of the gospel.

So, now it is your turn -- is there room for Fr. Bill? Is there room for conservatives and liberals and everyone or have we come too far and cannot go back? Must we now play the hand that has been dealt TEC to it's logical conclusion?

In closing, and to help everyone think about this Lynn has put up some music for us at Off Topic please listen as you write.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Beauty of It All

I got it! The diocese of South Carolina is going to discern what road to take over the next 40 days. During the course of this time each parish is going to determine that they wish to leave the Episcopal Church. Each time that decision is reached the parish will strike a deal with the Bishop of South Carolina so that they can take the buildings and the property with them. Generally, the Bishop of South Carolina, the honorable Mark Lawrence, will extract some form of token payment in exchange for the land and buildings. This exchange will "compensate" the diocese for the loss of property and therefore mollify the Episcopal Church. Any extra holdings such as retreat centers will be permitted to spin off by themselves ostensibly to become a "private going concern". Finally, the cathedral, acting as a parish will do the same as any other parish. The bishop, holding no TEC property, or very little except the amounts derived from the compensation from the various parishes leaving will then turn over to the Episcopal Church in the United States of America the remainder. Mark Lawrence will then "leave the Episcopal Church", completely in tact as a bishop in good standing and move to ACNE ACNA to become the heir apparent to the prime minister Archbishop, Robert Duncan.

TA DA! The Beauty of it all. Simple. Elegant. No fingerprints and no hooks, lines or stinkers sinkers.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

When You Come To A Fork In The Road

Much is being written about the General Convention 09 and the two resolutions passed during that convention. B025 and D056 have apparently stirred quite a bunch of emotions for the orthodites. It sort of reminds me of the Chief High Priest the night before the crucifixion where he rents his garments and says, "What more must we hear? He has blasphemed".

Here are a couple of blogsworth your time:

Grandmere Mimi:

Who Can Adopt This Covenant

Father Mark at Preludium:

Realignment Crowd Ramps Up War Talk


Seven Bishops meeting at Canterbury. . .

That is just for starters. There are more around and these point to others.

My point is as it has always been, what is being planned by the Episcopal Church as things move forward? What do I mean? Well, for starters there were seven bishops that travelled to Canterbury with not so much as a "by your leave". What is being done there? Had 7 lay persons chosen that path they would have never been received by the Archbishop of Canterbury AND would have be severely rebuked by both the Presiding Bishop and their own diocesan bishop? What is going on with the Communion Partners, both bishops and rectors? They are claiming to be Episcopalian while acting like Robert Duncan. Apparently, at least for the moment, TEC is buying what the Communion Partners is selling and that is genuinely too bad. But now, is it not time for the Presiding Bishop to ask, politely but firmly, "come down from that fence and have the courage to act on your convictions. Again, where is the plan?

GAFCON snd ACNA and AMiA and CANA and the ACI and a whole host of conservative folks are pressing on all sides hoping that TEC will collapse.

Rather than use any more words I would offer the following from the West Wing (please watch it all, you will not be disappointed nor do I beleive you will miss the applicable points):

As Yogi Berra once was purported as saying, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

Friday, September 4, 2009

And So It Goes

Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite authors (read most everything he has written) tends to end things like sections and chapters and books with "and so it goes." Never quite sure what that means until a day like yesterday. Actually two partial days.

On Wednesday evening we all went to the mortuary for a 5 - 7 visit. I have never been a big fan of "visitations" in fact I do not go when invited. This was/is different. Too close. And so we went. And, the casket was open at the request of Jerry's mom and dad. (There is a stoic couple. They have 3 children, two are now dead. Can you imagine outliving two of your three children?)

That was hard. I have seen enough death to last a couple of lifetimes. Picked up too many bodies of battlefields and flown with too many comrades-in-arms. One does certain things because to not do them would be a worse. Occam's razor and all that stuff.

Then on Thursday we did the funeral thing. A relatively Small church, holding about 260 or so was filled to capacity and the outside held another 60 or so. Jerry had friends, a bunch of them. Interestingly enough, though he was not enamoured with the Episcopal Church in later years. If, however, we measure Christians by Matthew 26 and not by ASA Jerry would be at the top of the list. He helped everyone. Want to build a car -- no problem he would work side by side with you doing whatever you wanted him to. Jerry, me and both of my children built cars. My daughter built a bug and my son built a truck and Jerry was the catalyst. We had truly great times. Ask, and you shall receive. Jerry built the mascot for the local high school. Kathy, his wife works there but Jerry built it because he could and they needed it.

Anyway we did the funeral thing with full military honors. He was retired Lt. Col. in the Army and the briefing officer for Edwards Air Force Base. Jerry led many lives. We had an amazing soloist, Jerry's brother-in-law's wife has an incredible voice. She sang Amazing Grace flawlessly. Oh, did I mention she was Jewish? Great lady. That, Taps, and the presentation of the flag to our friend Kathy were faltering points for me. But we did get through it -- don't we always?

Then, as if to punctuate this whole thing with one last laugh, the 41 Ford, Jerry's pride and joy, the car that was driven to the funeral by his son and carried Kathy, failed to start. But, after everyone left and Nathan (Jerry's son came back) the Ford fired right up. It was Jerry, saying goodbye in the only way he could.

To finish this post I offer the following, it will give you a glimpse of the soul of the man I called friend.

And so it goes.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Socializing With Hors d'oeuvres

It is that time again (October 23,24,25) where the EPISCOPAL Diocese of San Joaquin will meet in convention and do the regular business of every Episcopal Diocese. Friday's main event, so to speak, is socializing with hors d'oeuvres (sheesh, I can barely spell that word). Now, I have never had much time mingling with canapes or finger sandwiches or even chips and salsa but this is new ground for the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

In years gone by, read that prior to March of 2008, yes during John David's reign, we were not permitted to socialize with each other, let alone the crab and lobster dishes. Convention under the "old bishop" was a little more than here's the budget, did we vote, yep we did -- what's keeping you here get back to your parish and thank you very much.

The special convention in March of 2008 was a breath of fresh air for all of us here in San Joaquin as it was an opportunity to "love our neighbor" and ourselves. maybe that is one of the things overlooked by the Conealoneialists. The second great commandment is like the first, love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commands hang all the laws and prophets. We actually got the chance to love our neighbors and that is exactly what was missing and is missing in the Anglican whatever they are calling themselves. Do they love God, well I give them the benefit of the doubt. Do they love their neighbor? Doesn't look like it to me. Lots of reasons and lots of neighbors but the bottom line, at least according to Christ, is to love God and your neighbor. And who is my neighbor -- well, Jesus answered that one as well -- everyone!

As for the hors d'oeuvres, I am not comfortable talking with an olive sandwich but I will give it a try.

More pre-convention stuff later.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Psalm 46:10

We have friends that we have known for over thirty years. We met when our families ended up in Woodbridge, Virginia. Actually, Jerry worked at the pentagon and I worked in the National Office of the IRS (no snickers please). At that time our son was not born, our daughter was about 16 months old and Jerry and Kathy had a son that was 4 and a daughter that was about 4 months old. We grew close. It was fun to meet for Church. Jerry and I would usher and Kathy and "Wilma" would Altar Guild. We all, at one time or another served on the vestry. We grew a church from 30 families to what is now about 800.

Our family vacations were taken together. Jerry and I would have umbrella stroller races (daughters included) in the swamps of Virginia and on the beach at Fort Story. Jerry was a car enthusiast. Well, that puts it mildly. over the course of our 30 years he built a Porsche 356C, about 10 bugs including a bus and a square back, a 55 Buick, a 58 Lincoln, a 41 Ford Sedan and a host of other project cars. Jerry would say to me, "Fred, the only reason to cut wood is to bend steel." He helped both me and my daughter build a 64 Bug from the ground up and he helped my san (matt is his Godson) and me build a 63 Ford truck. Jerry's hands grew gnarly over the course of time with all the pounding and whatnot on cars. Jerry could fix almost anything, and if he could not fix it he could fabricate a part that would fix whatever was broken. The gifts God gave him were astounding!

But the biggest gifts God gave him were his family. He loved his Kathy, his daughter Carrie, his son Nathan and his two beautiful grandchildren Stella and Brodie. He taught them everything hew knew -- about cars, about trivia, about rock and roll music and about God.

We both travelled from coast to coast on a few occasions and yet our friendship stayed strong. Jerry was a desert rat. Strange for a guy who was raised in Newport, Rhode Island and worked as a lifeguard growing up but first he lived in Barstow, CA and then later, after a second stint in DC, moved to Cal City. As a military person he also put in time at Fort Hood and Fort Juachaca. All that being said he and his family settled in California City, CA. In these later years it has been a little difficult for us to get together but still, 380 miles is not all that great and we did visit for special occasions and for family things. And with close friends, I would call and we would talk cars and rock and roll for hours, as if we had not been separated by time and distance.

Recently, about 3 and one-half years ago, Jerry, contracted esophageal cancer. Seems that stupid hietal hernia caught up with him in a big way. But he was a strong guy in really good health and he beat it. Sure, they took out his esophagus and had to steal some of his stomach to create a new one but he beat it! It took months but he learned to eat all over again and was well on the road to full recovery. Sure he had to retire in order to fight this thing but he took it in stride. Actually, he said, "I ain't going quietly. I got my feet and my hands jammed against the door and if I go it will be because somebody bigger and stronger pulled me through that door."

Next came the lung cancer. A spot appeared and try as the doctors might, they just could not quite get rid of it. It would shrink and then the chemo would stop working, or the medication given to Jerry to build the white count would fail and the docs would have to try something else. I spoke with Jerry only about 2 weeks ago or so and he was still fighting and seemed to be holding his own. His biggest problem was the fluid that built up in his lungs, after a while he could not work on the cars for a very long time because he could not breath. On numerous occasions the docs took a quart or so of fluid out of first one lung and then another. He would go right back to work banging on one fender or another.

Now, Jerry has a 41 Ford Coupe (his bumper sticker would say "I would rather eat worms than drive a Chevy") that he has collected parts for for some time. engine, rear end, axles, disc brakes, seats, electrical stuff -- all of that. He never actually worked on that one car and, naive as I am, I grew to believe that nothing really serious would happen until after that car was complete. Somehow, God and Jerry had struck a deal that Jerry would get to finish the Coupe before he was called home.

Yesterday, in the midst of a spectacle bigger than life, regular life intruded. I received a call from Jerry's daughter, Jerry died. From an inoperable brain tumor. After all of that cancer stuff, he ends up with a tumor. Ironic? And so it goes.

"Pause a while and know that I am God,
exalted among the nations, exalted over the earth!"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Has Anyone Here Seen My Old Friend Teddy?

For those of us who came of age in the 1960's we have suffered a grievous loss. We have lived our political lives knowing that we were protected by the Kennedy family. We started with John and then came Robert and then came Teddy but we have always had a Kennedy in our political hemisphere. Much of what John and Robert accomplished in their short stay with us was through their deaths. Much of what Teddy accomplished was through his life. And yes, Teddy had flaws -- Lord knows Ted had his flaws. But who among us does not? He was a giant among us and his flaws seemed to be larger than life but his accomplishments also were larger than life. Nothing ever got through the senate without his mark on it and rarely if ever did he take credit, Ted was the "go to guy" for the last 40 years. But there is an intangible that I wish to remark upon.

For many of us liberalism was a cause. From the War in Viet Nam to the Great Society to Civil Rights to the Patriot Act and the War in Iraq we would drift in and out of the cause for a period of time or until we tired of the issues and returned to our BMWs and our Yuppie lifestyles. For Senator Edward Kennedy liberalism was not a cause it was a lifestyle. Yes, in many respects he symbolized for us what Matthew 26:31-46 was all about. He put into practice in a very real way the concepts of clothing the naked, feeding the hungry and visiting the sick. Liberalism was not a cause to be championed it was a means to bringing to life the gospel of Jesus Christ. No one was more inclusive, more compassionate nor more productive in legislation for those less fortunate than Senator Kennedy.

What is worse is that there is no one in the House or Senate than embodies the same characteristics as Senator Kennedy. There is no one on the horizon to pick up where he has left off and no one to champion the causes that he championed. We may very well be lost -- we may never see again quite the likes of Ted Kennedy and we will be worse off for it. The love of humankind, the generosity of the body known as the Senate, the compassion of and for and through legislation has taken a severe blow.

For those of us that remember, there must be a grand touch football game going on right now in heaven.

I end with a piece of Music that strikes me as erriely appropriate for this moment. Yes, I am a product of the So. California 1960s.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Covenant versus the Convent

Above is a picture of a convent. The following url sends to you a website that clearly demonstrates the committedness of a group of people when it comes to convents.

The following url leads one to the Anglican Covenant, at least the last draft of this document.
Here is at least one definition of a convent.

Originally signified an assembly of Roman citizens in the provinces for purposes of administration and justice. In the history of monasticism the word has two distinct technical meanings:

•A religious community of either sex when spoken of in its corporate capacity. The word was first used in this sense when the eremitical life began to be combined with the cenobitical. The hermits of an Eastern laura, living in separate cells grouped around that of their common superior, when spoken of collectively, were called a conventus. In Western monasticism the term came into general use from the very beginning and the technical phrase abbas et conventus signifies to this day the entire community of a monastic establishment.
•The buildings in which resides a community of either sex. In this sense the word denotes more properly the home of a strictly monastic order, and is not correctly used to designate the home of what is called a congregation. In addition to these technical meanings, the word has also a popular signification at the present day, by which it is made to mean in particular the abode of female religious, just as monastery denotes that of men, though in reality the two words are interchangeable. In the present article the word is taken chiefly in its popular sense. The treatment, moreover, is limited to those features which are common to all, or nearly all, convents, while peculiarities due to the special purpose, rule, or occupation of each religious order are explained in the pertinent article.

That definition is from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Here is another one:

“Convents” generally refer to houses where Roman Catholic women live under religious vows. They became common in Chicago and other industrial cities early in the nineteenth century. The first ones, like that established on Chicago's Wabash Avenue by Mother Agatha O'Brien and four other Sisters of Mercy in 1846, resembled the settlement houses of the 1890s. But before Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr were born, the Mercys and several other communities had begun building a network of services for the urban poor that included elementary and Sunday schools, orphanages and hospitals, employment bureaus and industrial schools, as well as the city's first Magdalen Asylum. Some of these mid-nineteenth-century institutions, such as Mercy Hospital and the House of the Good Shepherd, still exist. Thus, when Hull House opened in 1889, most Chicagoans would not have considered it extraordinary to see a group of women living among immigrants and working selflessly on their behalf. By 1889, Chicago had over 60 convents.

This is from the Encyclopedia of Chicago.

Here is Christopher Wells definition of a covenant:

The notion of covenant is, of course, familiar not only from scripture but also from the vows we make at baptisms and ordinations, the various agreements between Anglican churches for purposes of mission, and from our ecumenical commitments with other Christian churches. In every case, to “covenant” with God and with one another means that we accept basic facts about the faith and the consequences of how we live according to shared principles, texts, and traditions. This fits with the literal meaning of the word covenant, which has two connotations: (a) to agree about something, and then (b) to act on that agreement by coming together or assembling in a visible way. (The origin is a Latin word, convenire, from which our English word, convene, derives.)

After reading all of both of these items what would YOU rather do? We could, as the ABC, Ridley Mr. Wells and a host of men want us to do. That would be to come together on a semi-regular basis and judge each other. Those provinces found wanting, you know, the ones that include the marginalized groups such as LGBT, handicapped, socio-economically downtrodden, most women, would be punished. Those provinces that are living the "godly life" like Nigeria, Uganda, Sydney, CANA, Fr. Kennedy, Archbishop Duncan would all get rewarded by becoming bishops and popes and things. Then, for a couple of days we could explore the scripture as written by "proper authority once given for all" and then go about our business all feeling much better about how we slew Satan.

That would be the covenant.

Or we could all form convents. We could come together in Christian communities all over the world to pray, to form schools and hospitals and orphanages and food shelters and single room occupancy homes to help those less fortunate than we. We could come together sometimes to pray and to worship God. We could pass the peace and receive the Eucharist all together and all for the love of Christ. We could be known by our faith through our good works.

The following is a picture of me in a nun's habit. Wouldn't the world Anglican Communion look better (and perhaps more stylish) if we all dressed like this?

So, now the question is back to you? Wouldn't you rather be in a convent than in the covenant?