Via email [boldface mine]:
Beloved in Christ,
Much of the news this week centers on the recent actions of The Episcopal Church House of Bishops (TEC-HOB) and the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (KJS) in relation to a vote to depose retired bishop William Cox and former TEC bishop John-David Schofield (JDS). Dovetailing into these legally questionable depositions are two subsequent issues: the fact that the deposition notice for Bishop Cox misstates his title and the diocese he retired from; and the calling for a Special Convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin to elect a new bishop.
An article in the Living Church states: "In a March 12 press conference, Bishop Schori stated she had not followed rules governing the requirement that the 88-year old retired bishop be granted a speedy trial, that he be informed of the charges against him in a timely fashion, and that the consent of the church's senior bishops be solicited by the Presiding Bishop to suspend him from office pending trial." Additionally, for Bishop Cox and Bishop JDS, the issue of whether there were votes enough to depose is at stake. If the rule of law is at the whim of the chief executive, no one is safe, conservative or revisionist - it's just a case of when KJS will come for you.
Please bear with me and we will go through the details. According to TEC canon law, a quorum to conduct business is a majority of (nearly) all of the bishops in TEC (Article I.2 TEC Constitution), but it is believed that fewer than that number of bishops were present at the officially called meeting. This would mean that no binding business could be lawfully transacted. To have a quorum would have required one half plus one of the whole number of bishops entitled to vote, which includes Diocesans, Suffragans, Coadjutors, and Assisting bishops (Retired bishops and those "In assignment to positions created or endorsed by the General Convention", although having a vote, apparently do not count toward establishing a quorum).
The canonical standard to depose a bishop is harder, and requires a majority vote of (all) the whole number of the bishops entitled to vote (Canon 9:Sec.2). This does include those who are retired or in assignment to positions created or endorsed by the General Convention. The majority required to depose is of the full body as if all were present. This is a "super majority" in actuality, since seldom would the "whole number of the bishops entitled to vote" be present. The problem was that this number of bishops wasn't even in attendance that day. Even if all of those bishops in attendance had voted for deposition (and they didn't) there still would have been an inadequate number of votes. How could the Presiding Bishop and the Chancellor David Booth Beers (DBB) determine that the proceedings were lawful when they violated the canons? Because they believe they can do this and get away with it - and the truth is, in today's Episcopal Church, they may get away with it. The corruption in Christology, Theology, and Moral Discipline in TEC extends into gross arrogance and the use or disregard of Canon Law as is convenient to KJS and DBB.
This disregard for the rule of law by TEC means that KJS and her Chancellor DBB are functioning as police, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, and most of the other TEC bishops fall in dutifully behind them. One must ask, "Where are the sometime "Windsor Bishops" in all of this? We see no protests except from Bishop John Howe and now from South Carolina; have the "Windsor Bishops" lost their voices? " Speak now or forever hold your peace," would be one way of phrasing it.
Since the legality of the deposition of JDS is in serious doubt at the present moment, the position of Bishop of San Joaquin may not be vacant! How can KJS call a Special Convention for San Joaquin, nominate Bishop Lamb as the next San Joaquin Diocesan, chair the meeting and elect her nominee? This doesn't look like a good government model for the free world, instead it looks like a pogrom against orthodox Anglican church leaders still in TEC as well as those whose departure was recent (and hastened by the abuse to which they have been subjected).
American journalist Steve Levin of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Jefferts Schori will begin to poll bishops nationally in April in an effort to move the deposition of Bishop Bob Duncan ahead to May. She has perhaps several agendas at work, one being to depose him soon so that the Archbishop of Canterbury has the excuse to "dis-invite" Bishop Duncan from Lambeth publicly and further undercut the orthodox Anglicans. A second reason is so she can declare the Diocese of Pittsburgh vacant and move her minions into position. The Diocese isn't set to formally decide on staying or going from TEC until the October-November time frame, but without a bishop, she can begin the attempt to undercut the Standing Committee of the diocese.
As preparations for TEC's 2009 General Convention begin to unfold (yes it is coming like an asteroid in Earth orbit), one area of critical note for clergy will be changes in the misconduct canons. The "Title IV Task Force II" is proposing changes which would expand the definition of the chargeable offence "conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy" to include virtually any public criticism that offended someone, including telling the truth about the outrageous conduct of the Episcopal Church or its people and policies. It would cover not only sermons, newsletter articles, and teachings in parish coffee hours, but blogs and online postings.
Unless there is massive pushback from those still in TEC, clergy will be disposed of rather easily. As soon as TEC is able to acquire a Mind Reading Machine, they can depose clergy for inner thoughts, too - why wait until they say something? What is next, you ask... perhaps if a priest is found to be reading the AAC's Encompass Magazine, or the Leaders or Weekly Updates, or the StandFirm website, or David Virtue's Virtue on Line, that will be conduct unbecoming and subject to immediate execution. The future inside TEC is going to get hotter after 2009. An inconvenient truth: Ecclesial Warming ahead!
The good news we are hearing is that responses are being received to the Global Anglican Future Conference and Pilgrimage invitations, and although there are limited seats available, there is high interest in filling those spots. The AAC is providing a working team of several of our AAC staff to help with support tasks such as the registration process, etc. Donations for scholarships for bishops needing assistance to attend GAFCON can be made online at the American Anglican Council website or at this link.
Some have jested about the Send-A-Bishop-to-GAFCON funding request: if you like the bishop you can give him a round trip scholarship and let him get home again. Seriously, do give the scholarships to GAFCON some thought and prayer.
Blessings and Peace in Christ Jesus,
The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, Sr.
President & CEO of the AAC