More from Saint Andrew’s Rector Steve Wood on Yesterday’s Vote

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our Bishop will be The Rt. Rev’d John Guernsey. Bishop Guernsey is the long-time Rector of All Saints Church in Dale City, Virginia and will be well known to several within St. Andrew’s. I have known +John for over 20 years, dating back to my time at Virginia Seminary. You will discover that he shares many of the priorities that we have as a parish; from our commitment to missions (the Bishop is the Chairman of the Board for SOMA – a well known mission agency) to our passion to see every member equipped for ministry with both Word and Spirit. I have made arrangements for Bishop Guernsey to visit and preach at the Wednesday night service, 28 April 2010, followed by a time of healing prayer led by the Bishop. Please make plans to attend.

Lastly, the departure of this parish from the Diocese of South Carolina was not hastily made nor was it an easy decision. Indeed, this struggle has extended well beyond the past decade costing this parish one well-beloved Rector. Any sense of sadness over our separation is tempered by our joyful sense of the Lord’s forward-looking call upon our lives; by our common love for our Lord and by the common knowledge that our difficulty lay with the spiritual headship of the National Church, of which the Diocese of South Carolina remains, and intends to remain, a part, and not with the Bishop of South Carolina. And so, I must say “thank you” to Bishop Lawrence. From the day I met +Mark in the candidacy process I have spoken with him often about St. Andrew’s costly efforts to remain faithful to the gospel in the midst of the Episcopal Church’s increasing abandonment of the faith as revealed through Scripture and Tradition. These conversations have continued throughout +Mark’s episcopacy and have grown to include the Vestry of St. Andrew’s as well as the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina. I have found in Bishop Lawrence a friend and co-laborer in the ministry of the Gospel. We share a mutual desire to maintain our fraternal relationship and have committed to one another that St. Andrew’s and the Diocese of South Carolina will continue to partner in Gospel ministry as opportunity and circumstance permit. Please remember to pray for the Diocese of South Carolina as we desire nothing less than God’s best for them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Anglican ProvincesChurch of UgandaEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Departing ParishesTEC Parishes* South Carolina

Posted March 29, 2010 at 5:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Fr. Dale wrote:

Dear Father Wood,
As someone who is also a member of ACNA, may I personally welcome you. The Holy Spirit tends to renew from the roots upward. My prayers are for your protection. Pax

March 29, 8:23 pm | [comment link]
2. mannainthewilderness wrote:

What protection?  They are leaving a godly bishop and a godly diocese.

March 29, 8:55 pm | [comment link]
3. Village Vicar wrote:

I wish St. A’s well and have an honest question.  How does one interpret the views of the membership not weighing in? 

722 ballots were cast of which 709 were affirmative - an impressive 98%.  The 2008 baptized membership is around 2700 (judging from the online parochial report).  So, we have 28% of the membership weighing in.  Even if we were to take the ASA which appeared to be around 1500 in 2008 (and probably larger now) - 722 ballots represent 48% of the 2008 ASA group. Considered from the viewpoint of the larger numbers, the vote to disassociate does not look quite so sweeping.  I truly wonder, does the silence/non-particpation mean that they agree, disagree, or don’t care?  For those of you who have taken the plunge and done a vote like this, what did you make of folks who did not vote?

March 29, 9:18 pm | [comment link]
4. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Good point, Village Vicar (#3),

But the fact is that this vote was not done hurriedly or in secret.  It had been announced for a long time, so the people who showed up were the ones who wanted to do so.  And the nearly unanimous vote is truly remarkable.  Even Truro and Falls Church in Virginia didn’t get such overwhelming majorities when they voted to leave TEC in late 2006, and they had the notorious +Peter Lee as their bishop instead of the admirable +Mark Lawrence.

Let me join Fr. Dale (it’s still great to call you that!) as another priest in the ACNA, and go a step further in extending a welcome to the leaders and people of St. Andrew’s.  For I’m also a priest in the particular diocese this thriving parish is joining, i.e., the Diocese of the Holy Spirit, under the marvelous +John Guernsey, and so I’m delighted to welcome them all to my diocese as well.  I hope some of the parish leaders will be able to join us at our diocesan meeting next week in Ridgecrest, April 7th-8th, just before the start of the New Wineskins Global Mission Conference.

David Handy+

March 29, 9:30 pm | [comment link]
5. MotherViolet wrote:

The Virginia churches had to carefully look at their membership lists to make sure they were accurate before the vote date. Dead wood was given ample notice before being removed and all who wished could register as members in the proper way. In the end a very high proportion of those who could possibly vote did so. Turnouts of over 90% were not unusual.

March 29, 11:37 pm | [comment link]
6. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Yet another example of US conservatives failing to back one another up.  Shame on you St Andrew’s, shame on you Steve Wood+, shame on you +John Guernsey, and shame on you ACNA.

Hopeless, absolutely hopeless, IMHO.

March 30, 7:31 am | [comment link]
7. SC blu cat lady wrote:

Pageantmaster, I agree.  When the diocese has a battle ahead, they decide to realign themselves so they don’t have engage in the battle. However, as Bishop Lawrence said at least once if not several times, this battle is not just going on in TECUSA, it will be waged over the entire WWAC. SO if those who leave TECUSA think they will not have to fight this battle simply because they have left TEC, they may be in for a big surprise in time. They have not sidestepped being involved in the battle just delayed it.  I remember Bishop Lawrence’s statement after Gen Con 2009 about this *mess* coming to “neighborhood near you”.  It is not a matter if this is coming to neighborhood near you it is a matter of when…

March 30, 8:37 am | [comment link]
8. Sarah wrote:

Pageantmaster—how can you tell them to stay when their conscience dictates that they leave a corrupt heretical church?

You *want* them to stay in a corrupt heretical church in violation of their theology and conscience?????

March 30, 9:06 am | [comment link]
9. Fr. Dale wrote:

#6. Pageantmaster,
I think there are two branches of conservatives in the U.S. Those who insist on staying in TEC with the stayers made up of stay and die folks and stay and fighters, and those who believe that to remain is to enable TEC even if they are not funding the organization. It is a possibility that the Diocese of S.C. may eventually follow the congregation out of TEC. Especially if TEC decides to litigate against the Diocese. Bishop Lawrence noted in his speech to convention that his support is weak. How about the CP Bishops? What support have they offered? Should the ACNA have refused to accept the parish and not been a port in the storm? I didn’t hear Bishop Lawrence scolding the parish or ACNA.When I offered a prayer for their protection in post #1, I was immediately questioned about why I should be offering a prayer by #2. This was as if to say by leaving the protection of a godly bishop and diocese they deserved whatever happened to them. Why can’t you allow this parish to speak with their feet?  Actually, your post does not sound like you. What’s up with that?

March 30, 9:22 am | [comment link]
10. Ralph wrote:

Friends, the devil has been attacking Christianity via weaknesses in earthly polity. The extreme hierarchical clericalism of the Roman Catholic Church has made its godly bishops a target because of their sinful coverup of gross sexual abuse. In Anglicanism, the devil has made good use of the lack of hierarchy and an unwillingness to condemn deviations from orthodoxy. And so it goes.

I do agree with Pageantmaster. These folks are NOT leaving a corrupt and heretical diocese, and as the diocese has stated so strongly, none of the corrupt and heretical bishops of other dioceses (including the PB) has any authority in DioSC, other than that granted by the diocesan bishop. TEC is most certainly hierarchical at a diocesan level, and most certainly NOT hierarchical at a national level.

This diocese does not need to be destabilized, unless someone has an agenda to bring it down.

I believe that the devil’s strategy with conservatives is to get us arguing with other (divide and conquer), and this thread shows some of that. We have to stay united in Christ - conservatives who are still part of TEC for one reason or another, and conservatives who have moved on. Otherwise, the devil will succeed.

And I pray that the clergy and people of St. Andrews will find lasting Peace and comfort in the ACNA.

March 30, 10:10 am | [comment link]
11. Fr. Dale wrote:

#10 Ralph,

This diocese does not need to be destabilized, unless someone has an agenda to bring it down.

That “someone” is not St. Andrews.

TEC is most certainly hierarchical at a diocesan level, and most certainly NOT hierarchical at a national level.

If we could prove this, The DSJ might have a chance in court.

And I pray that the clergy and people of St. Andrews will find lasting Peace and comfort in the ACNA.

We have biblical agreement on this. Amen

March 30, 11:07 am | [comment link]
12. Ralph wrote:

Well, I used “someone” with the intention of being vague. Of course, I mean the devil, since I cannot see the destabilization of DioSC as being something of God.

But, we know from Scripture and history that the devil uses well-intentioned, good people to bring about havoc, just as it uses evil folk. That’s the part I have trouble discerning at this time. I think we’d agree that destabilizing DioSC would be in the interest of the malevolent TEC national leadership, and I think that diocesan destabilization would also benefit ACNA. This is complex politics in what I see as a highly volatile situation.

I think we would agree that the ACNA is needed in DioLA and DioATL, for example. I think we might disagree on whether the ACNA is needed in DioSC at this moment in its history.

BUT, again…we who are on the conservative side of the gulf must stay together and not bicker.

March 30, 11:34 am | [comment link]
13. Fr. Dale wrote:

#12. Ralph,

But, we know from Scripture and history that the devil uses well-intentioned, good people to bring about havoc, just as it uses evil folk.

It seems to me that you are backtracking again here and suggesting that the parish and ACNA are being used by the Devil. I would be very careful at this point. It seems like you allow for those who stay or leave but are unwilling to allow St. Andrews the same opportunity. Consider this. If St. Andrews stays because their leaving may destabilize the Diocese but they believe Holy Spirit is calling them to move on, won’t they be more of a destabilizing force as stayers?

March 30, 11:44 am | [comment link]
14. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Sarah, what I have scribbled, I have scribbled.

And yes, Fr Dale, I did mean it.

March 30, 11:48 am | [comment link]
15. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

“they believe Holy Spirit is calling them to move on”

Isn’t that the problem in the US?  Americans who claim that the Holy Spirit is telling them to do this or that: consecrate gay bishops, marry men, and leave dioceses?  What hubris.

March 30, 11:53 am | [comment link]
16. Fr. Dale wrote:


Americans who claim that the Holy Spirit is telling them to do this or that: consecrate gay bishops, marry men, and leave dioceses?[

You are listing all of these things together. Are you equating them?

March 30, 11:57 am | [comment link]
17. Ralph wrote:

It seems to me that you are backtracking again here and suggesting that the parish and ACNA are being used by the Devil.

I cannot summarily dismiss that as a possibility.

I would be very careful at this point.

We all need to be extremely careful at this point. That’s why after this post, I’m going to sign off of this thread. We MUST stay united in Christ, rather than bickering. Take a look at the Maundy Thursday lessons.

It seems like you allow for those who stay or leave but are unwilling to allow St. Andrews the same opportunity.

That’s none of my business. I have no authority or power to allow for anything.

If St. Andrews stays because their leaving may destabilize the Diocese but they believe Holy Spirit is calling them to move on, won’t they be more of a destabilizing force as stayers?

There’s the Holy Spirit, and there’s the other spirit. Discernment of spirits is a charism. When the devil appears, it can certainly have put on a dove costume. The devil’s greatest power, perhaps its only power, is that of deception; and, it is very good at it. We’ve all been fooled at one time or another.

I pray that there are those at St. Andrews who do have that gift of discernment, and who have highly competent spiritual directors. May God bless them and keep them, and may they (and all of us) continue to discern God’s will for our lives.

March 30, 12:24 pm | [comment link]
18. jnowilson wrote:

After Easter will you please identify all of the “spin off” entities such as AMIA. The arena is getting complicated. We need a glossary.

March 30, 5:19 pm | [comment link]
19. Tami wrote:

This addresses #3’s question about members of St. Andrew’s who didn’t vote and #6’s & #7’s comments on not backing up conservatives. 

My husband and I are members of St. Andrews who didn’t get to the parish in time to vote or register as an absentee - reason is not important.  I want to state that for two who were not in the overall vote - we would have voted to leave TEC and rejoice in the outcome of the vote.  In fact, we left a parish I love that is much closer to home because we agree with +Steve Wood that the “third way” doesn’t make sense.  Speaking for myself, I spent so much time trying to explain why we were still “in” an organization (can’t bring myself to call TEC a “church anymore) when I was so vehemently opposed to their liberal agenda, that I began to lose heart in my ability to advance the Gospel of Christ in any way.  It “might” be different if EVERYONE I spoke to understood the whole landscape of the Diocese of SC and this third way of existing with the national church.  Sadly, that is not the case.  Most of my family is from Western NC and in other Protestant denominations.  They view being a member of TEC in view of the liberal Dioceses of Western NC.  There comes a time when you tire of trying to explain such things as differentiation and defending that you’ve not strayed to the liberal extreme by being a member of TEC. 

I would also hold that the reverse can be viewed on the opinion that those who leave TEC are not backing up conservatives.  One could argue that if we’d all left together, one might have witnessed a crippling to the heresy known as TEC and have been able to make a major stand against their agendas.  In reality, we’re well past the point of staying making any value change in TEC (barring a miracle, of course) or a planned mass exodus that cripples their agenda.

March 30, 5:30 pm | [comment link]
20. mannainthewilderness wrote:

Fr. Dale:

My question regarded what protection was necessary.  If St. Andrew’s is Anglican, then it should recognize that the church is the bishop and the diocese.  They seem to be fleeing a godly bishop and a godly diocese and trading one set of problems for another, but they certainly do not seem to be a parish in need of protection from their church or their bishop.  My guess is that if their decision is wrongly guided, and will not flourish and will result in further schisms down the road (maybe years or generations in the future).  If it is truly discerned, the parish will flourish.  Unlike the experience on others on this list, it is doubtful no one will arrive at the church to change the locks, seize records or bank accounts, or try and defrock their priest.

March 30, 7:28 pm | [comment link]
21. trimom wrote:

Don’t you find it interesting that those who oppose St. A’s decision are mostly WITHIN the Dio of Sc and that those who support their decision from OUTSIDE the Diocese (with the exception of #19)?

March 31, 9:41 am | [comment link]
22. Sarah wrote:

Well keep in mind, trimom, I wouldn’t have done what they have done.  I’d count it a personal privilege to be able to stay in that diocese and differentiate along with my bishop.  He’s doing the kinds of things that I have wanted orthodox bishops to do for *years* now.  And I personally think that it will eventually result in the same end result—Schori rather obviously cannot bear for there to be massive differentiation between her and her agenda and another diocese.  She won’t allow it. 

But I don’t share the same theology that these folks do.  I don’t need to leave a corrupt heretical denomination.  And I’ve found in looking at parishes that have needed to leave a good diocese [CC Plano, for instance] that it’s simply because their theology and conscience dictate it.

If they stay, they violate both theology and conscience.

So I’m basically resigned to such things happening, and have been for years now.  They cannot stay and be true to their conscience and theology.  They must leave.

That doesn’t mean that I share that same theology or conscience—I obviously don’t.

But for me, it’s a bit like my saying to people who have discovered that they believe the doctrine and dogma of the Roman Catholic church “you need to stay.”  How can they stay?

March 31, 10:18 am | [comment link]
23. Village Vicar wrote:

#21, I would not say your characterization is entirely accurate.  There are many folks in the Dio of SC who understand that this is an issue of conscience for Steve Woods and St. A’s. and that they have struggled for years to remain in Dio of SC.
Some of us are celebrating their action while others are saddened by the course they have taken and will miss having them as members of the body in this diocese - it’s a bit like having an arm amputated.
Others are quite worried that by their actions and that they will have effectively precipitated a legal crisis for the diocese which, in turn, could result in the deposition of our bishop, the inhibition of clergy, the installation of a rump bishop/standing committee, and deep entanglement in lawsuits. 
Now, some might think that precipitating a crisis like this would be a good thing because it could potentially force the diocese to withdraw from TEC in order to protect itself.  What some (myself included)  foresee, on the other hand, is not a glorious sallying forth intact into a promising future but rather the very real potential for significant fracturing (minimally three way) which would effectively put an end to the solid gospel work that has been going on across the board in the diocese for decades now.  That is not an attractive prospect.  In fact, I would characterize that as distinctly harmful to short and long term well being of the Diocese of SC.
That said, no one knows how it will play out and, given, as our bishop is fond of saying, that the landscape of the Anglican Communion is constantly shifting,  it is unclear what the long term impact of this move will be.  Also, I have noticed that sometimes in Kingdom of God, the right thing happens in a way that, from a human perspective, seems very wrong at the time.  Perhaps this will be that kind of situation.  Only time will tell.
A case in point.  AMiA. The Diocese of SC inadvertently gave birth to AMiA, and,praise God ! that our long-running legal struggles with All Saints AMiA has at last been resolved. However, reconciliation has been costly for both sides.  Estimates are that between the Diocese, AMiA, and All Saint Waccamaw Episcopal, that the entire cost of this litigation-reconciliation will have been around $2.4 million dollars.  We (and they)  could have built a number of churches with that money and assisted overseas dioceses in truly significant ways.  That to me, is spiritually criminal. 
Looking at AMiA now, one has to admit that they are being effective, and God is blessing what they are doing - especially in dioceses where majorities have effectively hounded minorities out of their churches.  My personal hope is that the Dio will be able to set aside any lingering acrimony , stabilize our relationship, and partner with them so as to further the gospel mission in SC and world-wide. 
Bishop Lawrence has been steadfast in his commitment to remain in TEC while at the same time trying to keep from the diocese from the ungodly distraction, expense, and animosity that inevitably come from lawsuits - all so that the diocese can remain focused on its mission.  This seems like a worthwhile and practical course of action to follow at present.
So, it’s fair to say #21 Trimom,  that feelings are mixed.  Personally, I wish St. A’s well and am, at the same time,  praying for God’s most profound protection of our bishop and diocese.  I ask your prayers, too.

Jennie Olbrych aka Village Vicar

March 31, 12:34 pm | [comment link]
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