Monday, September 29, 2008

Burnt toast: Two observations on the recent HOB meeting

ECUSA: burnt toast
One observation from a layman and one from a bishop, both arriving at basically the same conclusion - the Episcopal Church as we knew it is toast, and burnt toast at that.

From Captain Yips [boldface mine]:

. . . And revulsion over the descent of what’s left of The Episcopal Church into mere lawless chaos. With the contrived and illicit expulsion of the Bishop of Pittsburgh, the House of Bishops, the same House that tolerates the manifold inanities of John Spong, that couldn’t bring itself to bring James Pike to account, has declared its absolute irrelevance - to anything. How the vote was contrived and excused is not terrifically important. With it, the EpiscoLeft has declared that the revolution must go forward.

I am, happily, out of TEC and won’t return. The fight in the Diocese of Chicago was lost a long time ago, probably when I was in my 20s, and when we didn’t know there was a fight on anyway. . .

Read it all.

And from Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina [boldface mine]:
. . . Once again within a few months the landscape of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion has changed—as if Gafcon and Lambeth were not enough. What does this deposition mean? Frankly, it is still unfolding, but I offer the following reflections:

The House of Bishops whether intentionally or not has enhanced the power of the Presiding Bishop. With consequences far beyond the deposition of The Rt. Reverend Robert Duncan, this vote by interpretation and application of Title IV.9, has established invasive reach for the PB. It is now possible for a sitting bishop of TEC to be deposed without prior inhibition or trial, rendering superfluous the role of the three Senior Bishops of the House. Beyond this is the quizzical ruling that it takes more votes from the House to receive the resignation of a retiring bishop then to depose a sitting one! Then there is the curious fact that it takes a two-thirds vote of the house to overturn a ruling of the chair, thus when combined with rendering moot the role of the senior bishops and the plain reference to a needed “majority of the whole house entitled to vote” in Title IV.9—there is enhanced power to the PB regardless of who may hold the chair, now or in the future. A development mercurial indeed, when one considers the PB and House of Bishops have repeatedly declined the authority to speak on behalf of The Episcopal Church when queried for commitments by the Communion’s Instruments of Unity; deferring instead to the authority of General Convention. . .

All of this leads me to believe that the challenges that lie before a predominately conservative diocese like South Carolina have now been enormously increased if only because of the perception of our parishioners and clergy—but, more pertinently from what I fear is a failure of the present House of Bishops to realize just how far from historic Christianity our church has drifted. To many of our minds this, far more than Pittsburgh’s present challenge to TEC’s discipline and polity, is what has led to this current crisis. Beyond this the checks and balances previously given to us in the Constitution & Canons seem profoundly weakened. Phrases long understood as clear apparently can be spoken of as ambiguous. If what appears to be the plain meaning of a canon can be dismissed with apparent ease and with no recourse; if the request from such a monumental gathering as Lambeth 2008 urging greater dialogue and forthright conversation within the body of Christ seems to count for so little here in the first action of the House—even after so many TEC bishops report being profoundly moved by the grace exhibited toward us from those provinces grieved and hindered by our prior actions; and when there seems to be so little recognition that it has been the very actions of our General Convention and HOB in recent years that has so alienated dioceses like San Joaquin, Pittsburgh and others that their laity and clergy vote in such large majorities to remove accession clauses—judicious governance and Christian unity will drain like water from an opened hand. One might have wished for a more generous spirit and greater patience toward our own aggrieved members. Indeed one has to wonder where such tone deafness and purblindness come from. . .

Read it all.
H/t to TitusOneNine.

No comments: