Presiding Bishop Seeking Quicker Way to Intervene Before Other Dioceses Leave

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori made it clear Friday night that she will direct The Episcopal Church to move ahead to reconstitute the Diocese of San Joaquin and to establish control over church property swiftly. In addition, she said, she intends to begin the process of revising the denomination’s canons to allow it to deal more expeditiously with breakaway bishops.

“I expect to see revisions to the canons to deal with situations like the one that you have been living with in San Joaquin for several years,” she said.

Read it all and make sure to reread Mike Lumpkin's letter in the light of this.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop TEC ConflictsTEC Polity & Canons

Posted March 30, 2008 at 2:49 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Jeffersonian wrote:

Indeed, this is the prisoner’s dilemma TEC finds itself presented with today:  It asserts that the Canons prohibit what DioSJ has done, simultaneously asserting that the Canons must be revised to prohibit anyone else from doing it.  I hope judges are able to see the disconnect here.

March 30, 3:56 pm | [comment link]
2. libraryjim wrote:

And you forgot: the canons don’t give the Presiding Bishop any authority over internal diocesean events!  She isn’t a Pope—yet.

March 30, 4:02 pm | [comment link]
3. Jeffersonian wrote:

“I expect to see revisions to the canons to deal with situations like the one that you have been living with in San Joaquin for several years,” she said.

Translation:  +Ackerman, +Lawrence, +MacPherson, +Iker….The Death Star is coming about to train its primary weapon on you soon.

March 30, 4:03 pm | [comment link]
4. Carolina Anglican wrote:

This article, in light of the Presiding Bishop’s recent actions, reminded me of the following poem:

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.
Pastor Martin Niemöller

I wonder if those moderate and liberal Christian members of TEC will recognize in these recent actions of the Presiding Bishop and her ilk something that is completely non-Christian and in fact opposed to the cross and resurrection of Christ.  I wonder if those Christians in TEC who have acquiesced or ignored these actions will be spurred to renounce such viciousness as anti-Christian or will they doom the ship to sinking and go down with it oblivious to the realities of this apparent kingdom of the blind that has fallen in step with those who wish to destroy it.  Even those in theological agreement with the Presiding Bishop must objectively assess her leadership as incompetent and failing, as her main agenda as revealed is to attack Christians within and without the organization she leads.

March 30, 4:36 pm | [comment link]
5. Grandmother wrote:

Jeffersonian, you might as well add +Lawrence to the list of true Christian bishops that we are so honored to have among us.  I’d guess he made the list with the latest letter of protest he and our standing committee sent.

Jeffersonian, every day I become more convinced that your “death star” is coming for all of us.  At least, I know that my Redeemer liveth and he shall stand…..........

Every day we edge closer to the precipice, where we will have to choose to worship under a theocratic dictator, or under the leadershp of Godly men and women.

God Help Us.

Gloria in SC

March 30, 4:42 pm | [comment link]
6. Choir Stall wrote:

“I expect to see revisions to the canons to deal with situations like the one that you have been living with in San Joaquin for several years,” she said.
While at it she had better revise the Baptismal Covenant, too. A new vow of individual poverty is being expected. Membership in TEC is increasingly requiring its members to hurdle and embrace the mounting debts foisted on them by arrogant, unpastoral bishops who are devoted to their god’s new thing. I say let her have all of the properties. Good luck paying for them. Good luck getting developers to buy deadlocked, useless,  ecclesiastcal white elephants. Good luck getting sane Americans to join such a Church.
KJS: Be careful what you wish for. You might get it and go down in history as the most incompetent Presiding Bishop ever.

March 30, 4:46 pm | [comment link]
7. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

I had not realised that aloose canon was validated by amoral actions.  Has the nature of “truth” changed yet again in the ECUSA/TEC/GCC?

March 30, 5:07 pm | [comment link]
8. robroy wrote:

A question for legal eagles. Many people stated that the Dennis Canon needed a second reading. George Conger averred that that was incorrect. What changes to canon law require two general conventions. If it is correct that the Dennis Canon did not require a second reading, then the new Dennis canon on anabolic steroids will not either. Thus, 2009 is the deadline. (Or sooner?)

March 30, 5:12 pm | [comment link]
9. Cennydd wrote:

I am of the opinion that +Lawrence and the Diocese of South Carolina’s days in The Episcopal Church are numbered, and the countdown has begun.  It looks to me like +Lawrence is in Schori’s sights, and her itchy finger is on the trigger.  Ditto for +Ackerman, +McPherson and +Iker….....and any else who dares to disagree with her and her heretic cronies!  There is an atmosphere of fear in TEC, and it’s pervasive.  The pew-sitters are numb to what’s really going on; thinking that “everything will be OK when things calm down.” 

No, I’m sorry… WON’T be OK!

March 30, 5:25 pm | [comment link]
10. Canon King wrote:

No, Robroy #8, Canonical changes do not need two readings. That’s for Constitutional changes only. So, yes, any of the Canons of General Convention can be changed in 2009.

March 30, 6:09 pm | [comment link]
11. wildfire wrote:


Following up #10.

Article XII of the Constitution mandates two conventions for constitutional amendments:

No alteration or amendment of this Constitution shall be made
unless the same shall be first proposed at one regular meeting of the
General Convention and be sent to the Secretary of the Convention
of every Diocese, to be made known to the Diocesan Convention at
its next meeting, and be adopted by the General Convention at its next
succeeding regular meeting by a majority of all Bishops, excluding
retired Bishops not present, of the whole number of Bishops entitled
to vote in the House of Bishops
, and by an affirmative vote by orders
in the House of Deputies in accordance with Article I, Section 5, except
that concurrence by the orders shall require the affirmative vote in each
order by a majority of the Dioceses entitled to representation in the
House of Deputies.

As provided by Canon V.1.1, the canons can be amended by a resolution passed at a single convention:

No new Canon shall be enacted, or existing Canon be amended
or repealed, except by concurrent Resolution of the two Houses of the
General Convention. Such Resolution may be introduced first in either
House, and shall be referred in each House to the Committee on
Canons thereof, for consideration, report, and recommendation,
before adoption by the House; Provided, that in either House the
foregoing requirement of reference may be dispensed with by a threefourths
vote of the members present.

The “Dennis canon” (I.7) is a canon and therefore could be added, amended or repealed at one convention.

Although it is not part of your question, note the bolded language in Article XII: “by a majority of all Bishops, excluding retired Bishops not present, of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote in the House of Bishops”.  The fact that retired bishops not present are explicitly excluded from the “whole number” indicates that they would be included otherwise.  And it is quite clear that active bishops not present are included in the “whole number of bishops entitled to vote.”

But the same terminology (minus the exclusion) is used in the “abandonment” canon, IV.9:

If the House, by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote, shall give its consent, the Presiding Bishop shall depose the Bishop from the Ministry

Thus it is quite clear that the phrase “whole number of bishops entitled to vote” includes both bishops present and absent, and for a vote on abandonment, absent retired bishops are not excluded from the total for purposes of calculating the requisite majority.

March 30, 6:17 pm | [comment link]
12. monika wrote:

I have a question. If the Executive Council runs the General Convention Church between conventions, is it possible they intend to amend the canons before GC2009?


March 30, 7:07 pm | [comment link]
13. robroy wrote:

Thanks to Canon King and the very much non-feeble minded Mark McCall. Monica, I believe that your question is answered by the second block quotation of Mark’s. Changes in canon law require passage by both houses.

(But hey, we can change it by PeeBee fiat at any time, apparently.)

March 30, 7:14 pm | [comment link]
14. Adam 12 wrote:

It is funny how bishops have total control of their dioceses when it comes to other bishops functioning in them, but no control should they desire to move their dioceses to greener pastures.

March 30, 7:33 pm | [comment link]
15. monika wrote:

I bet they try to do it before GC2009.

March 30, 8:06 pm | [comment link]
16. Jeffersonian wrote:

Monika, as Robroy points out in #13, the absence of an actual, enacted rule does not appear to be so much as a speedbump for Mrs. Schori.  Provisions and clauses are simply willed into existence and discarded as soon as they are no longer expedient for that moment’s end.  GC09 might see the formal, retroactive codification of some of these, but they will be enforced beforehand.

March 30, 8:16 pm | [comment link]
17. Jim the Puritan wrote:

Along the lines of #4, I would urge everyone to read the Barmen Declaration of 1934:

March 30, 8:45 pm | [comment link]
18. plinx wrote:

How long will the posters on this site continue in their failure to see that it’s over for the attempted coup? Hmm? Your arguments are aimed at a smaller and smaller group and are fading into insignificance. Gamaliel’s principle is working against you, boys and girls. You can keep insisting you’re right, but history is rolling over you.

This comment verges on being a taunt. The elves request that you rethink the tone of your comments.


March 30, 9:36 pm | [comment link]
19. libraryjim wrote:

Actually, History shows that whenever compromise or heresy or decadence enters the church, the faithful remnant eventually come out on top, triumphant, through reform or reformation, or vote, or divine intervention, or whatever.

God is true to His word, and the gates of Hell shall NOT prevail against the Church of Christ.

March 30, 10:23 pm | [comment link]
20. Nikolaus wrote:

Plinx, God has proven that he can work with the smallest minority to rebuild his church.  But yes, you are right, the Episcopal Church is dwindling into insignificance.

March 30, 10:29 pm | [comment link]
21. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

“history is rolling over you” ... er, no. In America raw power politics is rolling over a lot of us because the coup (by revisionists) was quite successful in the short term.

At a larger scale, and over the longer term a different picture emerges. Thirty years ago both the Anglican Church of Uganda and ECUSA had three million members. In the subsequent generation the most generous interpretation possible is that ECUSA lost one-third of its members.

CofU more than tripled its membership during the same period, in a nation with less than one-tenth the population of the US.

Stewardship of the Church is quite simply and quite obviously being transferred from decadent, moribund, self-absorbed Western institutions to the vibrant, growing, serving groups of disciples in the South.

The most dangerous animal is a badly wounded one in its death throes. TEC is clearly dying, and once all its Baby-Boom post-modernists have gone to their reward there really will be almost nothing left of it.

March 30, 10:31 pm | [comment link]
22. Chris Hathaway wrote:

The elves don’t like it when we liken them to fascists or bolsheviks. But what else is illustrative to the reality we see enacted out on a regular basis? These people have no shame, no honor. Truth is not a valued commodity to the. The rules are treated like their own possession to be molded as they see fit for the expediency of their own power.

We have seen the progression of these things in the affairs of nations. Mtatis mutandis, that is, make the changes necessary to apply the analogy to the realm of ecclesiastical politics and we can see, or forsee, how they will continue to play this out. The only variable that I can see is the level of opposition that is offered them. If our side depends in any way on them having a sense of decency or restraint, if we imagine in the slightest they will ease up or slow down unless absolutely forced to do so, then we might as well smoke our last cigarette and take our proverbial place against the wall.

I am glad that South Carolina is making a stand. But I do hope they haven’t brought a knife to a gunfight.

March 30, 10:51 pm | [comment link]
23. Cennydd wrote:

As I said, +Mark Lawrence and the people of his diocese need to watch their backs.

March 30, 11:04 pm | [comment link]
24. robroy wrote:

Attempted coup? The new Episcopal nano-diocese of San Joaquin has been re-constituted as everyone expected. Yes, Lamb will be litigant. I was concerned that Shori’s cabal might listen to the critics on her side of the fence and pull back. I really couldn’t be more happy with the result. They have seriously compromised themselves in the coming legal action. Incredibly, they have lost even more credibility within the Anglican Communion. (Did you notice the alliteration?)

March 31, 12:01 am | [comment link]
25. Fr. Jack wrote:

Greetings from the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin.
  As long as individual parishes and dioceses attempt to exit from TEC on their own, they will be vulnerable to the full force of the legal counterattack. Only together do we gain the credibility and strength needed to accomplish to task. The time has come for all who remain committed to the “faith once delivered” to join in the formation of a new, orthodox, Anglican province in North America. This means first a concerted exit strategy from TEC, and second a regathering with those who are already out.
  At present we orthodox remain splintered both in and out of TEC. For those who remain in, time is of the essence. As obvious from the current remarks from Katherine Schori, General Convention 2009 will see canonical changes that will put as much legal teeth as possible into the Dennis canon and canons for depositions, while repealing any and all restraints for the new TEC agenda.
  Therefore, I urge all faithful orthodox dioceses and parishes within TEC to separate and join with us ASAP.
  Further, I urge all the Anglican groups that are under various jurisdictions, to join together along with us ASAP. 

The time of waiting is over.

March 31, 12:53 am | [comment link]
26. Adam 12 wrote:

We seek no coup but only the pursuit of the Holy, a holiness that somehow as with John Donne eludes us all. Church, no matter how beautiful the buildings or ritual or language used, or how pedigreed the parish or clergy, is meaningless without that. It becomes like a tired piece of chewing gum. We are all like dung and need our sins to be covered over with the snow of Christ, to use Luther’s analogy. Come let us worship God in the beauty of holiness.

March 31, 7:19 am | [comment link]
27. Charley wrote:

There was a time when a thread like this would have seen 100 posts within the first few hours of posting….  must be indicative of something.

March 31, 8:40 am | [comment link]
28. Larry Morse wrote:

Plinx may be a taunt, and the elves may be right in challenging such. But no one has refuted what plinx has said, that social/cultural forces in the US have rolled over the Anglican church, do what they will, and the writing hand, having writ, moves on. You know as well as I do that the argument for, the nurturing of, the approval of, and the institutionalizing of homosexuality and the homophile agenda has broad public support, and that homosexual marriage continues to draw more and more support - even though the reasons for doing so are flimsy at best.

  Mind you, I am not an advocate for the mechanistic and rather pitiless culture that scientism has generated in the US, and my heart is with the continuing Anglicans. But the evidence of Scripture will win few battles and no wars in the US, and the reason is that the upcoming generations have made narcissism and exhibitionism central to their sense of self, and that scientism is carrying the greater legions into the culture wars. Moreover, Anglicanim is fragmented into who knows how many little units, each with bishops coming out the ears, and with no common core of beliefs or administration; and joining these little islands into a continent is going to take more than a tectonic shift. TEC will die simply because it is a formal church, but such evidence as I see is that it is riding on a wave of decadence that has floated many a culture until it reaches a lee shore.
  Now, to be sure, America has it in its power to revitalize itself, and the wave we see now may actually be the leftover from the fin de siecle forces created by the last century. This wave may break and be gone, as the same sort of wave broke and disappeared at the beginning of the 20th century. But nothing is going reestablish the status quo ante, and there is precious little sign that Anglicanism is going to find a new voice, a new leader, a new core and a new unity. WE talk and talk, but to what effect?

<i>Katharine Jefferts<i> Schori still holds the cards and acts as if she held the aces. What sign is there that anyone in the Anglican church can stop her?
She is intending to rewrite more canons than those under discussion, and who will say her nay? Will God still pull us together? Well, what if that is not His intention - for those of you who have God’s ear and to whom He speaks? I will go on in my backward way trying to sift the wheat from the chaff in Scripture and drawing sustenance therefrom, but how can you not see the writing on the wall? Larry

March 31, 9:02 am | [comment link]
29. Adam 12 wrote:

#28 - There was writing on the wall at Balthazar’s feast too, when the Holy vessels of the Temple were misued…our God is an awesome God. His moving finger has the last word. We love because he first loved us, narcissism and all.

March 31, 9:15 am | [comment link]
30. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

Go take a peek at the photos from TEC’s San Joaquin convention, about three posts below. The mass of grey heads constitutes all the proof needed to demonstrate the demographic path of TEC.

Why Episcopalians’ much lower birthrates is even taken as a sign of moral superiority by the PB—more concerned for the planet, you know. In biology any population still reasonably numerous, but without enough young to maintain itself is described as “moribund.”

Once things reach a certain point they cannot be reversed. The people in those pictures aren’t going to be having any more children. Somehow I don’t think my Baptist cousin (his mother was Episcopalian) and his six kids are going back to TEC. The same could be said for the scores of young families in our now-Anglican parish.

Conversion of new believers? Yeah right. Evangelism to the currently-unchurched? Mmm-hmm. All TEC has left is power-politics and a marginal appeal to those who wish to be Unitarians ... with robes.

March 31, 9:52 am | [comment link]
31. Cennydd wrote:

Fr Jack, I couldn’t agree with you more!  For four years on this and other blogs, I have been saying the same thing!  Every faithful Anglican, every faithful mission and parish, every clergyman, and every diocese remaining faithful to the Faith once delivered to the Saints as expressed in historic Anglicanism has GOT to unite in ONE ANGLICAN PROVINCE in the United States. 

Its time for us to put ALL differences aside.  No more arguing about which Prayer Book to use, because Christ DOESN’T CARE!  No more argument about this or that thingamajig… doesn’t matter to Him! 


March 31, 11:58 am | [comment link]
32. Cennydd wrote:

And I’d like to know by what stretch of the imagination Katharine Jefferts Schori can “direct” anyone in TEC to do anything?  On General Convention has the authority…...and she doesn’t run it!

March 31, 12:01 pm | [comment link]
33. Little Cabbage wrote:

#21 Bart Hall, Please retire the sneers about the ‘Baby Boomers’, it’s not only deragotory, it’s inaccurate as well.  Need proof?  Note that the bishops whom you so admire, Schofield, Lawrence, Duncan, Iker, are ALL BABY BOOMERS! 
    The ‘postmoderns’ you should really worry about are today’s teens and the 20-40 year-olds, who see ANY Church as totally irrelevant.  Unlike their parents and grandparents, they are not darkening the door of a church, even after having children.  They are finding the vague ‘spirituality’ of this age very hip and enticing.  (And it’s a whole lot cheaper than any biblical tithe).  They are the first generation of true ‘postmoderns’, raised without a Cold War nuclear nightmare hanging over their heads, and no paternal memory of the Great Depression, either.  When it comes to church and belief in Jesus Christ, they are much closer in their philosophy and behavior to Western Europeans than to their parents or grandparents.
    When the Baby Boomers die off, many congregations will die with them, because a much smaller percentage of the next generations of Americans choose to attend church.

March 31, 2:51 pm | [comment link]
34. w.w. wrote:

I think that part of what we are seeing in the Schori-Beers-et al rush to judgment and canonical revision has little or nothing at all to do with Lambeth (all but a non-issue anymore) and everything to do with clarifying and reinforcing TEC’s status as a hierarchical denomination for judicial purposes. Time is of the essence.

The California supreme court has before it a contested decision from southern California’s second district involving Episcopal congregations. That decision makes church property disputes (and probably internal governance issues) subject to hierarchical rule. As many here know, this decision was in conflict with one from a different appeals court, the Fifth District in Fresno in 2004 (the St. Luke’s Methodist case). That court applied “neutral principles” of state corporate law to find in favor of a congregation that left the United Methodist Church with its property.  Not only did the judges decide neutral principles prevailed over the hierarchical theory in settling such disputes, but the justices went a step farther: they ruled that property trusts by a denomination like the UMC (by extension, read the Dennis Canon in TEC) are a two-way proposition—a local church that “enters” such a trust has a right to revoke it, something St. Luke’s had done for good measure after litigation had already begun! The state supreme court on appeal hastily let that decision stand.

For many observers, with the opposite conclusion by the Second District, the stage was set for the state supremes to clear the air and make California officially a neutral principles state once for all. Goodbye Dennis Canon and other such implied blanket trust clauses.

However, might the San Joaquin mess muddy the judicial decision-making waters? The public impression is that chaos reigns, and the denomination is trying to restore order. Something that could win the sympathy of some of the justices. Too late to back up now, but perhaps Bishop Schofield and his leadership should have waited a while longer before bailing. I could be wrong, but I bet lawyers for some of the departed parishes in southern California feel the same way.


March 31, 4:04 pm | [comment link]
35. Cennydd wrote:

In answer to the question you posed in your last paragraph, w.w., may I suggest you contact the Office of the Chancellor (+Schofield is out of the country at present) in Fresno for a clarification?  I’m sure that he can explain everything far better than anyone else can….except +Schofield, of course!

March 31, 5:22 pm | [comment link]
36. Larry Morse wrote:

But Adam12, you haven’t responded to what I said :Will God still pull us together? Or has he written us off because we could have joined forces and couldn’t get around to it some how. WE may have been tried and found wanting. Read Cennydd’s note. You know he/she is right; it’s hang together or hang separately, isn’t it? And Schori knows that divide and conquer is an excellent offense. And now tell me, what snowball’s chance in hell do the Anglicans have for joining forces. We haven’t even got a head; how can we have one body? (Cennydd, is your name Welsh?)  No one seem to consider the possibility that WE are the ones for whom the writing exists. You haven’t begun to deal with Plinx’s taunt. Who’s going to stop Schori?
The ABC? Kendall? Who?Or do we just wait like lilies in the field - for someone to come and pluck us for the vase because we can’t be more than decorative? What CAN the answer be? Or do we dither and talk? Larry

March 31, 5:44 pm | [comment link]
37. Sarah1 wrote:

Larry Morse, the reason why nobody has bothered to refute PLinx’s comment is because it’s fairly obvious that when a progressive activist needs to come over to one of the most highly trafficed Anglican blogs in the world and bleat about how “it’s over” . . . he’s just a guy who needed to feel better about himself and decided to do a little schoolyard hopeful predictions of failure for the people that’s he’s watching closely.

Rather more a proof of weakness and insecurity than anything else.  When people are confident that they are winning, they are usually quietly, calmly, and steadfastly confident, and they certainly don’t need to come over to some blog where they know there are tons of conservatives and do a little “nyah, nyahing.”  Mostly, quietly confident folks ignore the insignificant.  The fact that plinx also—somewhat tragically—chose to use the line “Gamaliel’s principle is working against you, boys and girls” when in fact TEC’s membership plummets by the year—augering into the ground is an apt description—merely makes his comments more redolent with irony and humor.  My bet is that plinx has been uttering these cries of doom and defeat for years now, and never noticed that he keeps having to utter them.  I’d call ‘em fantasies rather than actual hopes, and hopes rather than actual facts.

Frankly, I could do with more of such drive-by shrieks of “you’re failing”.  ; > )  It’s rather refreshing.

March 31, 8:17 pm | [comment link]
38. Larry Morse wrote:

Very well, Sarah. I know nothing of Plinx save what was here. The trouble is that, outside of those inside - whom we se here in this blog - t he US seem to care not at all about what TEC is doing and whqat we are not doing. There are reports in the papers because there are newsworthy things, but the public generally shows no sign that it cares one whit.

  Nor have you dealt really with the notion that we have been overtaken by events, that there is no status quo ante to which we will return. The homophile agenda continues to expand its membership - see the new governor of NY, that lovely! - and ASA at all mainline churches continues to drop. (NB, Americans have no idea who the Pope is) And we Anglicans have a failure for a leader and no cohesion. It’s right there in front of you.  And who is going to stop Schori? So far, no one. All we do is chatter. Why has plinx not a reasonable case?  Larry

April 1, 4:23 am | [comment link]
39. Larry Morse wrote:

Incidentally, my words should not be taken as a cry of despair. They should be taken as fighting words. But I want to know my enemy, who and what he is, and what are his legions. Larry

April 1, 9:30 am | [comment link]
40. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

#33 ... no, I won’t retire my “sneers” about Baby Boomers. I’m a ‘49er and most of my generation have disgusted me for decades. Their general self-absorption and lack of any vision beyond their next orgasm have cost us all dearly.

Our Anglican church, BTW, is full of the 20-40 set, actively growing their families and actively growing in their discipleship. If people of any age want post-modern secularism they don’t have to seek out a substitute, blinged out in God-language version, at an Episcopal church. Or ELCA, or UCC, or any of the fading old-line denominations. It’s all around them. The younger ones are sharp enough to see the hypocrisy and avoid it altogether. Thus the sea of grey hair.

If on the other hand, they seek real and lasting answers to life’s most pressing and durable questions, they eventually find a church where Christ is the answer and God’s word is respected, taught, and lived.

April 1, 11:15 am | [comment link]
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