Bishop Dan Martins: Speaking Truth in Love

Posted by The_Elves

I had to make a judgment call, and my judgment, after reflection and prayer, was that I had to join the intervention, because to allow such a false read of TEC polity to potentially help form legal precedent constitutes a danger that could bring harm to the church for decades to come, and resisting this outcome trumps my other concerns.

As an illuminating case in point, I would draw your attention to a resolution we will be considering next week in Indianapolis, A101, Convene Consultation on Diocesan Effectiveness. This resolution asks for a study of “the potential for re-aligning dioceses to maximize their effective witness and ministry.” While this may be a relatively small thing in itself, and might actually make good sense, if the top-down (with General Convention as the “top”) hierarchical model is accepted, then it sets in motion a potential chain of events that could end with General Convention imposing redrawn boundaries on dioceses without their consent. At a time when the Episcopal Church is shrinking, especially in more sparsely populated areas of the country, this is not idle speculation. If the interpretation of our polity offered by the attorneys for the Episcopal Church in Quincy and Fort Worth is allowed to prevail, there is nothing at all that could prevent such a scenario. It's one thing if two or more dioceses decide they want to shuffle and re-deal the cards voluntarily. It's quite another for that to be imposed on them. It would not be anything that our forebears in this church would recognize.

I respect those who have a contrary understanding of our polity. While it is always possible that I could be mistaken—it has happened several times—I am at present confident in the correctness of the view I hold. I recognize that taking this discussion into the secular courts certainly escalates tension and raises the stakes, which is regrettable. My chief concern is that a very particular property dispute in Texas not become the vehicle for supporting an erroneous understanding of the polity of the church to which I am committed, the constitution and canons of which I have freely vowed to uphold, and to which my diocese freely accedes.

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Posted July 2, 2012 at 6:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Terry Tee wrote:

What a gracious and generous-spirited response.  The people of Springfield diocese are lucky in their chief pastor.
I note BTW that he is certain the PB was not involved, and fairly confident that the charges will be dismissed.

July 2, 10:54 am | [comment link]
2. Ryan Danker wrote:

This is exactly the type of response we should all have to these accusations. It is full of grace and charity. Conspiracy theories are not helpful. The good Bishop of Speingfield is is an example for us all.

July 2, 11:45 am | [comment link]
3. montanan wrote:

It is, indeed, a gracious and considered response, a model for us all.  It is also, however, very carefully worded.  Note the end of the quoted portion above:

My chief concern is that a very particular property dispute in Texas not become the vehicle for supporting an erroneous understanding of the polity of the church to which I am committed, the constitution and canons of which I have freely vowed to uphold, and to which my diocese freely accedes.

(Italics my addition.)
Admirably gracious, careful - and appropriate - wording.

July 3, 2:15 am | [comment link]
4. c.r.seitz wrote:

#1 The problem with Title IV is the role it gives the PB *even if she is not involved*. That is, we cannot know from what has been communicated to the Bishops if the Intake Officer acted on his own in saying he will be ‘initiating proceedings’; or if he declined to act, and so ran it by the PB, and this was vetoed. This is an inherent problem. It lacks necessary due process and transparency. The Constitution of TEC does not give the PB (or an Intake Officer) authority over other Fellow Bishops. The older Title IV required a review by fellow Sr Bishops. It did not get the results wanted and so we are in a period of Title IV revision. My advice would be to say that, as Title IV is under revision, agreed to be necessary, it is not in good order to charge anyone with anything. Let the Title IV revisions happen, as is the business of this GC now looming. Indeed, one cannot but wonder if the timing of all this is intended to paper over or otherwise obscure the reality that Title IV is now under revision and so ought to sit in abeyance.

July 3, 6:37 am | [comment link]
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