BabyBlue: Diocese of Virginia Standing Committee Rejects Proposed Anglican Covenant

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Virginia has released a "response" regarding the proposed Anglican Covenant - and it's a doozy. Indeed, it is illuminating. BabyBlue posts her commentary interspersed with the text. Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican CovenantEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia

16 Comments
Posted June 29, 2007 at 4:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. samh wrote:

She rightly points out that the opening paragraph is all about “conversation” but not so much about decision… But how much does the Standing Committee of the DVA really want to discuss things when they seem to reject the idea of the covenant out of hand later?  If the only covenant you are willing to discuss is the bond of the Holy Spirit, but you’re not willing to talk about that in any concrete or practical manner, then you’re not really committed to conversation. IMO.

Of course, one might expect arrogance from a diocese whose website is http://www.THEdiocese.net ...

June 29, 7:42 am | [comment link]
2. Karen B. wrote:

BabyBlue does an excellent job analyzing this document.  I especially love her phrase about “‘evangelical-sounding words’” stuck inside a neo-pagan blender”—sadly that seems to be very apt indeed.

It might be one thing to read this covenant response in a vacuum.  But in the context of what’s gone on in Virginia the past 7 months or so, it’s very very hard to take certain sections seriously.

For instance:
we are pledged to one another as members of the Body of
Christ in bonds of love which no human action can dissolve.

Oh really?  Somehow I think the lawsuits have done plenty to dissolve the bonds of love and Christian community in the diocese of Virginia.  Actions have consequences, and broken communion, destroyed trust, shattered relationships are all sad realities in Virginia, and unfortunately, throughout the Anglican Communion.

Also, from the opening paragraph:
We affirm that the Draft Anglican Covenant is intended for
discussion by every Province of the Anglican Communion and is therefore a step in the larger and longer conversation of how we live out our union in Christ.

If I were among the Primates or any Anglican leaders reading this response, I’d be very very wary about committing to engage in any “long conversations” with leaders in the diocese of Virginia.  Folks from Truro, All Saints, Falls Churh, Church of the Apostles etc etc. committed to 3 years (and in reality much longer) of such conversations.  Intense conversations with MUCH effort and prayer invested, aimed at finding a peaceful and Christ-honoring way forward, working towards negotiated settlement.  And yet in spite of all that conversation we have scandalous lawsuits.  The conversation wasn’t very fruitful, and obviously didn’t mean too much to one side of the table.

Finally, as Babyblue notes, the language of affirmation and acknowledgement, etc. is all so empty and hollow.  These words mean nothing.  There is no commitment being made by Virginia to this process.  Merely an acknowledgment that it exists whether or not they like it.  And they make pretty darn clear that they don’t like it at all, that they want any relationship to be on their terms.

June 29, 8:30 am | [comment link]
3. TXFriend wrote:

It seems the VA Standing Committee’s words in this response could go against them in court?  Like the part about the laity being included in decision making processes and yet the 7,000 laity of the VA churches vote to affiliate with another part of Anglican Communion doesn’t count?  Just wondering.

June 29, 8:47 am | [comment link]
4. robroy wrote:

Some have called for patience. This statement shows that we can little afford this virtue at this point. The diocese of Virginia previously was moderate to conservative. With the exiting of the eleven conservative churches, the diocese has become radicalized, and are now so far off into left field that I think they are actually at the concession stand getting a brat and a beer. The polarizing and diverging forces are at work and accelerating.

Chaos theory in mathematics depends on processes that have forces that accentuate differences rather than forces that refocus. (OK, I am a nerd.)

It is like a skier gaining speed downhill and coming to a major fork. Once you decide to the right or left, there is no chance of returning except slogging back up the hill, each path goes to one side of a mountain. The problem with choosing the left path is that one abandons focusing forces (the Scripture and tradition) and still more divergence occurs, e.g., islamopalianisim, gnosticism, arianism, etc. There are choices on the right as well (incense, WO, etc.) but the focusing forces assures that everyone ends up at the same ski lodge at the bottom, drinking a toddy in the hot tub, rather than in some crevice on the back of the mountain, alone and dying of exposure.

June 29, 9:37 am | [comment link]
5. mathman wrote:

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Virginia makes me yearn for former PB Griswold. Say whatever you will, the former PB knew how to obfuscate, dither, and meander. These folks get right to the point.
Shall we say their folly is now known to all?
This document emanates directly from the revision of baptism in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (sic) of TEc. In that baptismal service the intent of baptism was totally changed from the sign of water which accompanied repentance, leading to the description by St Paul in Romans of entering into Christ’s death as we enter the water. The new meaning is a sign of sovereign and irrevocable election, performed by God, which is unbreakable and requires no faith and no consent. Even the double predestination Presbyterians never went that far.
The screed begins with both feet planted firmly in midair. One cannot have a conversation with another unless both persons speak the same language. And the language of this committee document bears no relationship to the Scriptures, the Historic Creeds, Church History, the XXXIX Articles, or Reason.
Instead the Standing Committee chooses to stand in solidarity with the anarchist movements of the 1960s, and ground itself in the new morality.
Baby Blue is so right. It is a doozy. They let it all hang out. In all of its ugliness. They have decided to walk apart, not just from the Anglican Communion but from historic Christianity.
And to do it in civil courts, too.
My, my.

June 29, 9:56 am | [comment link]
6. John B. Chilton wrote:

The Virginia Standing Committee’s statement is available here,
http://thediocese.net/brochures_flyers/covenant_response.pdf

June 29, 10:58 am | [comment link]
7. robroy wrote:

OK, that was easy. End of dialog for the covenant. Now, dialog for “full inclusion” for homosexuals, that must go on ad infinitum or until we get our way.

June 29, 11:11 am | [comment link]
8. BCP28 wrote:

An anglo-catholic friend once commented to me that English bishops were weak, American bishops were weaker, and neither was catholic until the Oxford movement.  An exageration to be sure, but one wonders if Diocese VA simply wants to be a Presbyterian body and undo the English reformation altogether.

June 29, 12:03 pm | [comment link]
9. John B. Chilton wrote:

Those who think Virginia has gone left because a few congregations left doesn’t know the diocese.

It is part of the rich tapestry of The Episcopal Church in America. It is decidedly low church and was so little - I sense - exposed to the Oxford movement and the Anglo Catholic traditions that it was barely influenced by them.

Remember that the Church of England NEVER sent a bishop to the colonies—400 years ago. The laity were running their own show, clergy were consecrating sanctuaries (an episcopal act) and so on.

Compared to newer dioceses Virginia’s history extended through the long post colonial period when the Presiding Bishop brought no additional remuneration.

Virginia’s views reflect its culture. And part of that culture is that enjoy the variety the exists within the Episcopal Church and within the Anglican Communion because of different backgrounds and cultures. One size does not fit all.

June 29, 12:17 pm | [comment link]
10. BabyBlue wrote:

Exactly, John #10, which is why we trusted Bishop Lee and the Diocesan leadership with following the protocol and appointing the Bishop’s property committee - there was no hint that the Bishop and the Diocese would fold so quickly and so dramatically to David Booth Beers and the agenda of 815.  The Diocese doesn’t have “thediocese” for its website for nothing.  I’m still stunned that Virginia handed over 400 years of history on that one day in January.  What happened?  Did Beers threaten to sue Bishop Lee and the Diocese of Virginia if the Bishop went forward with his property committee negotiations and following his protocol, as it appears that Beers has also threatened to sue the ACN dioceses if they don’t follow 815’s directives?  Is that what happened?

bb

June 29, 12:38 pm | [comment link]
11. Stu Howe wrote:

While this is not from the Diocese Standing Committee, the following link is to the response published by +Beisner of No. Cal.  I would offer for consideration in light of the other statements we are considering.

http://www.dncweb.org/response_anglican_covenant.pdf

June 29, 1:21 pm | [comment link]
12. John B. Chilton wrote:

There are plenty of ironies. The Anglican Communion came into being as a result of the creation of the Episcopal Church, and thus there never was a comfort with a papal model from the beginning—on either side of the Atlantic. That is the innovation, though, that conservative Episcopalians allied with African bishops, who give laity little voice, have in mind. (And, as the Virginia SC writes the ACC is the only instrument where the laity is included.) You can force conformity, but it won’t be Anglican anymore except in name.

June 29, 3:48 pm | [comment link]
13. chips wrote:

Based upon the comments regarding N. Cal and SE Fl - I take back my comment on stand firm that Virginia’s comment was gratutitious - it does appear to be part of TEC’s apparently coordinated effort to reject the covenant and walk away.

June 29, 5:45 pm | [comment link]
14. Karen B. wrote:

Peeps+, thanks for the link to the SE Fl response.  I’ve only started skimming it and am too tired to read it in full and respond in much detail tonight.  Maybe Kendall will post that as a separate entry?

Two things struck me though in just the first 2 pages (all I read).

1. I was quite surprised by the willingness to acknowledge the reality of the division:

On one level, the current crisis in the Anglican Communion seems to demand an Anglican Covenant if the Communion, as it currently is ordered, is to hold. On the other hand, the order of the Communion is in many ways only “apparent” and is, in any event, already ruptured.

For a diocese that has heretofore shown every evidence of having its head stuck in the sand, this is a pretty startling admission.  Clarity.  Even in SE Fl.  Whodda thunk it?!

2. Try taking the majority/minority language from its original usage re: the Communion as a whole (where majority = global south and minority = TEC et al), and reversing it to reflect ECUSA (where majority = reappraisers and minority = reasserters.)  VERY revealing.  Like here:

Beyond this, an Anglican Covenant that is imposed by a determined majority at the expense of a concerned minority can only be viewed as a mechanism of coercion and oppression. This is especially true for a Covenant that contains mechanisms to effect this oppression.

At present, it does not seem likely that a majority in the Communion is willing to honor the dissent of the sizable minority {that favors acceptance of gay and lesbian persons into the full life of the Church}. Therefore, for this minority, an Anglican Covenant would seem to be primarily a means of manipulation and control

substitute the following:
For “Anglican Covenant” try “an Episcopal polity”
For “Communion” substitute ECUSA
ignore the phrase in curly braces or come up with an alternative…

Bingo.  How interesting that folks in SE FL can be so vehement in decrying coercion and oppression but turn a blind eye to it happening in ECUSA, you know, like at Exec Council a week ago when it tried to tell 4 dioceses what they could or couldn’t pass in terms of diocesan legislation.

Of course when your bishop is supporting RICO legislation against the said minority, well, one can understand the double standard.  Sigh.

Thanks for sharing this.

June 29, 7:25 pm | [comment link]
15. The_Elves wrote:

#12, Just FYI: Kendall posted +Beisner’s response on this blog when it was released:

http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/3461/

You can keep track of all the covenant responses by clicking on the Anglican Covenant category
http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/C83/

June 30, 7:48 am | [comment link]
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