Bishop Howe: ‘Informal’ Briefing for HOB

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Howe said during the meeting Bishop Jefferts Schori invited bishops Howe, MacPherson, Michael G. Smith of North Dakota and James M. Stanton of Dallas to make a brief and “very informal” presentation during the March meeting, but the House of Bishops lacks veto power over it.

“If we do this right, it will strengthen the hands of the Presiding Bishop and the Archbishop of Canterbury,” Bishop Howe said. “This would make the Episcopal Visitor proposal more attractive. No one has requested an Episcopal Visitor yet. This brings together the Presiding Bishops’ initiative and some of what the primates envisioned in the communiqué from Dar es Salaam a year ago.”

Separately, bishops Howe and MacPherson confirmed that participants in the meeting at the Church Center had agreed not to speak to the media. They denied that any of the four diocesan bishops were responsible for an article revealing the plan published by the English Telegraph newspaper. Bishop Howe said he wrote his clergy in order to correct the misconception that this was a secret plan by Archbishop of Canterbury to pander to conservatives.

Bishop Howe also noted that the plan itself is very informal, having been written down as an outline by Bishop Stanton.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC Conflicts

Posted February 29, 2008 at 7:17 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. robroy wrote:

My initial reaction to this scheme - the reappraisers could not be more happy. Now, we have confirmation from the horse’s mouth. It strengthens the hands of Katherine Jefferts Schori and the chief obstructer of TEc discipline. This is certainly consistent with the new Camp Allen principles of collaboration and institutionalism that was so very well exemplified at the September meeting.

February 29, 9:31 am | [comment link]
2. Cennydd wrote:

As I said previously:  FORGET it, Bishop Howe!

February 29, 10:51 am | [comment link]
3. Dilbertnomore wrote:


February 29, 10:52 am | [comment link]
4. Chris Hathaway wrote:

So, This will “strengthen” the KJS’s hands. And what, I ask, will the orthodox get in return that they can’t have now under canon law? Is there any canon that says we can’t have “visitors” from the communion outside TEC?

February 29, 11:21 am | [comment link]
5. Bill Cool wrote:

The man John Howe was my rector at Truro and a leader in Episcopal renewal whom I respected long before I came to Truro.

This Bishop Howe I do not know. He is apparently eager not only to remain solidly tied to the apostate TEC leadership, but also thinks it important to strengthen the hand of the presiding bishop. What flock is he guarding? Which faith is he defending? That is the supposed duty of a bishop.

This elf requests the comments be about the plan; not the man.

February 29, 11:31 am | [comment link]
6. Scott K wrote:

I find what little information we have encouraging, and I’m especially encouraged by the involvement of MacPherson and Stanton.  I hope whatever develops creates the adequate insulation to allow more reasserters to stay in TEC.

February 29, 11:43 am | [comment link]
7. Choir Stall wrote:

The Edsel of pastoral schemes. People will abominate it for lack of quality. Like many out of touch engineers, the kids should try again and not come out until they have something to see.

February 29, 12:18 pm | [comment link]
8. Nikolaus wrote:

Could someone clarify for me how this group of bishops came together?  Did they do this on their own or were they chosen?  It appears that some of the bishops most effected by this plan were not consulted (Iker, Ackerman), why not?

February 29, 12:19 pm | [comment link]
9. robroy wrote:

8. Nikolaus: From the ACI site, Seitz writes:

Those parishes which wish to leave and pursue other forms of alignment have in great measure already chosen that path; Dioceses which do not ordain women to the Priesthood face a set of problems this Plan cannot and did not seek to address, even as we believe a Provisional Episcopal Visitor scheme such as obtains in the Church of England was always a positive way forward; this Plan does not hinder the development of such a reality, but it lies outside its remit

February 29, 12:28 pm | [comment link]
10. jamesw wrote:

From what I have seen so far, I personally don’t think that the Communion Partners plan will have any effect on the disintegration of TEC or the AC, other then to temporarily give some succor to a handful of orthodox bishops who wish to remain in TEC.

But having said that, I fail to see why people latch on to this comment by Bp. Howe and accuse him of being a quissling.  Think about it - what did you expect Howe to say if he wants it to be accepted???  “Well this plan will seriously undermine the hand of the PB”?!?!?  Of course not.  Make your judgments about the plan based on its own merits, not on the basis of Howe’s spinning it to be as palatable as possible for the PB.  That message was for the TEC liberals, not for the orthodox.

February 29, 1:35 pm | [comment link]
11. robroy wrote:

James, so Bp Howe is just being deceptive? No, because he is absolutely correct. It does, indeed, strengthen the hand of the PeeBee. This half-measure scheme clearly distracts and divides the orthodox while accomplishing little to nothing.

February 29, 1:46 pm | [comment link]
12. Cennydd wrote:

The purpose of this briefing is “Divide and Conquer.”  PERIOD.

February 29, 2:25 pm | [comment link]
13. Already left wrote:

Here’s a litmus test:
Who chooses the visitor?
Who oversees the visitor?
Who makes all the major decisions regarding the visitor?
If the answer to any of these is the PB, dump it!!!

February 29, 2:47 pm | [comment link]
14. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

This report by Stever Waring of TLC does give us a few bits of new information, such as that the plan was initially outlined by Bp. Stanton.  He is a man for whom I have great respect, although I’m very disappointed that he hasn’t (yet) thrown his lot in with the CCP.

But I’m reminded of that famous passage in 1 Cor. 14, where Paul warns that if the trumpeter gives a vague, unrecogniable call, no one will come forth to battle.  These kind of half-measures look like a feeble attempt to stand up somehow for the truth of the gospel while remaining firmly within TEC.  Needless to say, I find such compromises hard to understand and impossible to support. 

But we all face different contexts and are subject to differing sets of conflicting loyalties and responsibilities.  I don’t presume to pass judgment on the four bishops involved with this plan.  But the Communion Partners “Plan” is not just informal, it’s a form of appeasement in the end. 

And appeasement with a group like TEC’s current determinedly “progressive” leadership NEVER works.  It only gives our foes time to continue to build their strength (robroy is right: this plan DOES in fact strengthen the hand of the PB), and thus puts off the inevitable, making the eventual war all the more difficult to win.

The most charitable interpretation I can place on this kind of plan is that it reflects a judgment on the part of these orthodox bishops that while radical surgery may be what seems to be called for (severing their dioceses from TEC), the patient is so weak and frail that the chances of dying on the operating table are unacceptably high.  Or there are minor infections that must be cleared up first before the operation can be undertaken (and there are ALWAYS internal matters that need resolution in any diocese).  That is a judgment call, and it is their call to make with regard to their own dioceses. 

But this plan is virtually harmless for TEC, and offers only false hopes to the orthodox left in TEC.  I think it’s a tactical mistake, that publicly signals the weakness of the position these bishops find themselves in.  I’d argue that it’s better not to broadcast that weakness so openly.  It “strengthens the hand” not only of the PB, but of all those who continue to imagine that the pro-gay cause will inevitably triumph, while demoralizing the most adamant defenders of orthodoxy within TEC.

So one is left to wonder, why in the world did these honorable guys do such a lame thing?  What do they really think they stand to gain by this modest plan?  I confess, I just don’t see any real point to it.

David Handy+

February 29, 4:02 pm | [comment link]
15. Philip Snyder wrote:

I’ve refrained from commenting on this for quite some time.
I have enormous respect for +Stanton (my Bishop) and for +MacPherson (the former Bishop Suffragan of Dallas).  In the absence of positive knowledge, (and there is much we don’t know about the plan as Dr. Seitz tells us) I must trust (=faith) that my bishop (whom has never done anything to make me not trust his judgement) knows what he is doing.  So, I recommend that we all calm down and wait for the plan to unfurl.  I remain committed to fight for a catholic answer to the problem of the Episcopal Church’s heresy and apostacy.  It will take some time to correct this.  After all, Israel was in captivity for how long?  Now is the time of our exile and we (reasserters) first need to confess our lack of faithfulness and learn to lean on God’s strength to fight this battle.

Phil Snyder

February 29, 4:41 pm | [comment link]
16. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Deacon Phil (#15),

I welcome your testimony on behalf of your admirable bishop, +Jim Stanton, who is above reproach as a pillar of orthodoxy and who has not waffled tactically and sent mixed messages like +Howe has occasionally done.  And I likewise welcome your plea for patience and not rushing to judgment.  I’m not sure how much your earnest plea in #15 is a response to my #14 and how much it’s a response to earlier comments which are often harsher than mine.

Part of the vexing problem that complicates this crisis is that diocesan contexts do vary enormously.  It’s relatively easy for people in a safe diocese like Dallas (or SC) to call for patience and giving the plan a chance to work.  Unfortunately, many of us don’t have that luxury, since we live in areas without the staunch support of a godly, orthodox bishop like +Jim Stanton.  And that can make all the difference. 

But you are quite right that we must take care to treat our allies as allies, even when they adopt a different approach than we do ourselves.  These four bishops are definitely among the good guys in white hats, even though I’m puzzled and perplexed by this move on their part.

David Handy+

February 29, 5:19 pm | [comment link]
17. Cennydd wrote:

I am very highly suspicious of any plan which involves any involvement with KJS.  But I guess it really doesn’t matter, now that our diocese is no longer a part of TEC>

February 29, 5:47 pm | [comment link]
18. robroy wrote:

Phil writes,

Now is the time of our exile and we (reasserters) first need to confess our lack of faithfulness and learn to lean on God’s strength to fight this battle.

I am increasingly becoming convinced that Kendall+ and Deacon Phil have got it right about this being a time of exile time but wrong, in that the exile will be from a Canterbury led Anglicanism.

February 29, 5:55 pm | [comment link]
19. CanaAnglican wrote:

#5.  Dear Elf,

I appreciate the discussion should be about the plan, but a famous palindrome comes to mind:

A man a plan a canal panamA

Reading it from from both directions you might think “the plan is the man.”  +Howe seems to be the driving force of this disaster so it seems right he should bear the consequences of it.

February 29, 6:05 pm | [comment link]
20. Philip Snyder wrote:

My post was not aimed at you specifically, but was a more general post calling for calm and for repentence.
You see, we are still acting as brash headstrong Americans when we impose our own solutions to the problems that we helped create and are not willing to wait up on God.  We still want to “John Wayne” it and save the day in our own strength.  I believe that we need to wait upon God and fight with His strength.  We can’t fight this new religion (and I think it is both “new” and at the same time as old as the Garden of Eden) with anger and hatred.  Satan’s anger and hatred are stronger than ours.  We must fight with the weapons of righteousness and faithfulness.  We must fight with agape love.  We must fight with God’s grace. 

I also realize that I am in a safe diocese - for now.  I know that many of my brothers and sisters labor under heavy burdens with bishops who see themselves as princes of the Church who are to be obeyed rather than Icons of Christ who gives his life for the sheep.  Would my attitudes be different if I were in, say, Newark or Chicago or DC or Los Angeles?  I hope not, but I don’t know. 

We need to stop throwing around words like “traitor” or “collaborator” or “quisling.”  These words only make the Enemy laugh.  We need to learn to speak of each other as brothers and sisters who have the same goals but see different tactical and strategic ways to acheive them.

Phil Snyder

February 29, 11:07 pm | [comment link]
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