Tuesday, June 26, 2007

An unfortunate turn of events

As the legal proceedings of ECUSA continue, the lawsuits in the Diocese of Los Angeles continue up the judicial ladder. The most recent ruling comes in favor of the Diocese, overturning earlier lower court decisions (h/t Kendall Harmon).

We'll keep you posted!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Beyond the Conflict

Check out Sandi Dolbee's story in today's San Diego Union-Tribune on the churches in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego that have left, been reconfigured, etc. because of what is happening on the national and local level.

For me, the most interesting part doesn't come until the end, and shows that the churches in the area are definitely not "beyond the conflict"!

The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the global Anglican body, and the Americans have irked some of the other branches over such decisions as ordaining an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire. Dozens of U.S. churches have split up, with some conservatives leaving the Episcopal denomination and seeking realignment with like-minded Anglican leadership.

The San Diego diocese has been particularly hit hard. Nine of its approximately 50 congregations were affected. In three cases, the breakaway congregations and priests stayed in the buildings, realigning with Anglican provinces in Uganda, Argentina and Bolivia.

On Monday, the diocese filed a lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court to get custody of those three churches – St. Anne's in Oceanside, Holy Trinity in Ocean Beach and St. John's in Fallbrook. In the suit, the diocese argues that the congregations violated canon rules, which say all church property is held “in trust” for the local diocese.

An earlier lawsuit filed by the diocese last year against St. John's in Fallbrook was unsuccessful, but a spokesman said this new action argues a different legal point.

All boldface is mine.

Friday, June 22, 2007

No more "under the radar"

Just to add one more voice so that this story will not end up "under the radar," how can one be both a Moslem and a Christian priest? Easy, be Episcopalian! This story is on page 9 of Episcopal Voice, a newsletter for the Episcopal Church in Western Washington--and I'll link to it twice for good measure!
Of course, Stand Firm and TitusOneNine have complete coverage, but this is not a regional story--it's been picked up everywhere.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

And the fun begins. . .

Well, so much for the talking and listening that Bishop Mathes called for in his February diocesan address. The Diocese of San Diego has filed lawsuits agains three Anglican churches who left ECUSA and stayed in their buildings:
St. Anne's Anglican (Oceanside)
St. John's Anglican (Fallbrook)
Holy Trinity (San Diego)
Check out more info on TitusOneNine, Stand Firm, and SanDiegoAnglicans (h/ts to all, since there is nothing yet on the diocesan web site).
Also, interviews that I did with three of the clergy from those three churches are posted on AnglicanTV:
Fr. Joe Rees (St. Anne's)
Fr. Don Kroeger (St. John's)
Fr. Larry Bausch (Holy Trinity)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

There are no words. . .

Check out a recent interview that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori did with Bill Moyers (and check out the write-up and comments at Stand Firm). There is nothing more for me to say.

Friday, June 08, 2007

All Saints Episcopal gets new rector

It looks like All Saints Episcopal Church in Vista has finally replaced Fr. Joe Rees who left last year due to the drift in ECUSA and is now at St. Anne's Anglican in Oceanside (you can check out the interview I did with Fr. Joe for AnglicanTV).

Here's praying for the best for the Rev. Michael Carr's new ministry and the church family at All Saints.

Why I will not be at church for Bishop Mathes’s annual visit

Bishop Mathes will be visiting my church on June 17 for all three Sunday morning services (7:45, 9:00, and 10:30) as celebrant and preacher.

I will not be there.

I realized after I made that decision that I needed to be able to articulate why, not just for my own sake, but, since my views are well known (ha!) by some fellow parishioners, for others as well. Basically, I have three primary reasons for staying away:

  1. While I don’t want to be rude (and being a Southerner, “rudeness” is the worst of all possible sins) or disrespectful by not attending, I don’t want to tacitly appear to endorse or agree with the bishop’s theological and disciplinary stances on various issues.

  2. Given his theological leanings, I’m not sure what Bishop Mathes will say in his sermon and I don’t want to be put in the position of walking out, especially with my family there.

  3. Bishop Mathes falls squarely into the “reappraiser” camp, to borrow a label from Canon Kendall Harmon, and I most definitely do not (“reasserter” that I am), so, try as I might, I won’t be receptive to what he might have to say in a sermon. The divide is just too great.

To expand on these reasons:
  1. From The San Diego Union-Tribune article of June 15, 2006:
    “The bishop [Mathes] himself leans toward inclusion, telling parishioners that he believes sexuality is not a choice, but is a ‘God-given state.’

    ‘Because of this, I believe that God is calling the church to see in His time a more-complete way of including gay and lesbian persons in the church, including blessing of committed relationships and ordinations,’ he says.”
    By my attending church, knowing that Bishop Mathes believes this and he is my current bishop, I would be endorsing and legitimizing his views. My presence says to others that I am interested in what he has to say from the pulpit regarding the Gospel and God’s Word. Based on his tolerance within the diocese for open communion (even though it is against ECUSA Canons [peace be upon them]), his personal support for non-celibate sexual relationships outside of marriage, repudiation of the order of God’s creation, and inability to name sin as sin, I am struggling with whether to stay in the Episcopal Church or not. I certainly don’t want to be perceived as agreeing with his theological stances.

    In addition, the Diocese of San Diego has sued St. John’s Fallbrook over their decision to move under the Province of Uganda and keep their property. Bishop Mathes has also left hanging over the parish of St. Anne’s Anglican, now under the Diocese of Bolivia, the possibility of litigation (he has said, “I do not wish you to take inaction as a signal of anything but patience”). In his address to the diocesan convention in February of this year, he said:
    “Even as we avail ourselves of these regrettable civil remedies, we must continually ask ourselves is there a better way. Because we believe the promiser, we must ask how Jesus would expect us to act. So, even as I endeavor to maintain the order, even through civil litigation, I must ask this question.”
    To be invoking Jesus as he sues a member of Christ’s Body in court shows a logical disconnect that I find staggering. We are called not to take our church differences to civil courts (1 Corinthians 6:1-11), yet this is what Bishop Mathes has done (using my pledge money). His only solution now, also shared in his convention address:
    “My simple proposal is that we actually sit down and talk, and here’s the challenge, listen, about a way to be one church with two perspectives. Let us come to that meeting with ideas about how to be the church together.”
    Now that his lawsuit has been denied, he wants to talk. Not quite the pastoral approach I would expect from a Christian bishop.

  2. I have heard Bishop Mathes speak, as I was a delegate to the diocesan convention in 2006. I have also read most of his letters to clergy and congregations as well as some of his sermons posted on the Diocese of San Diego website. He is an adequate and innocuous speaker (“episcobabble” at its finest), and I have not heard him say anything in a sermon that might be egregious enough to warrant leaving during that sermonbut given his theological stance on some issues, I can’t know for sure what he might say. I just don’t want to have to worry about it at church.

  3. Well, Integrity has written the website copy for the diocesan Gay & Lesbian Ministry link under Programs & Ministries. What more can I say? Official reappraiser imprimatur and all that.

So, for better or worse, that is why I will not be at church for Bishop Mathes's annual visit.