Anglican Communion Institute—An Open Letter to the Bishops of The Episcopal Church

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This is a painful letter. It is painful because it concerns un-canonical (and perhaps even unlawful) actions on the part of our Presiding Bishop and her associates. These actions, detailed in the attached appendix and summarized in the bullet points below, have already undermined the good order and spiritual health of our church. We write to you our Bishops because of your responsibility for that good order. We write as Presbyters who have in one way or another faithfully served our church for over half a century. We pray that, despite the painful nature of the story we place before you, you will listen to what we have to say with a clear and open mind.

We urge you, therefore, to take careful note of the following points that are more fully spelled out in our appendix. We urge you further to take the necessary steps to restore the good order of our church.

- Three years ago, the Presiding Bishop began an extraordinary and unconstitutional intervention in the internal affairs of the Diocese of South Carolina....

Read it all and be sure to read the timeline attached. There is a printable pdf here

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop TEC BishopsTEC Polity & Canons* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

Posted November 28, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Katherine wrote:

The appendix is damning indeed.  We can pray the bishops will read,  mark, and inwardly digest this.  Their Church is dying if they do nothing.  I am afraid that nothing is what they will do.

November 28, 1:51 pm | [comment link]
2. Br. Michael wrote:

I couldn’t agree more.

November 28, 1:58 pm | [comment link]
3. Dan Crawford wrote:

How many times have ACI and others gone through this exercise? It will meet with no response from the TEC bishops. The question is why bother? I appreciate their making the record concise and clear. That is necessary. But it will still avail nothing.

November 28, 5:35 pm | [comment link]
4. Philip Turner wrote:

Sometimes the point is simply to make sure the truth is told.
Philip Turner

November 28, 5:52 pm | [comment link]
5. Milton Finch wrote:

ACI is John speaking to Herod about what he has done wrong.  We can now see the “girl” dancing her dance of pleasure.  We know how that group went down in history and we know the glory of God in John.  So be it!

November 28, 6:27 pm | [comment link]
6. Stefano wrote:

“You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, [madam]? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

This the question we must all ask of the presiding bishop who in the pursuit of an agenda alien to teaching of the apostles. The ACI has challenged the bishops of the church to reclaim the office to which they were consecrated not as suffragans of arrogate metropolitan but that of the ordinary of individual dioceses which is the fundamental structure of the communion. Thank you Dr Turner, Dr Seitz, Dr Radner, and colleagues.

November 28, 7:00 pm | [comment link]
7. MichaelA wrote:

I agree that this is repetitive, but I still think it is a very good thing that they have done this.

Its not just a matter of bearing witness like Jeremiah, although that is important.

But its primary effect will be on the orthodox, not on 815.  To the leaders of TEC it is simply a rebuke and a warning.  But to the orthodox both inside and outside TEC, it is encouragement, and it is teaching about church polity and governance.  The process of rebuilding Anglicanism in the USA is already under way, and it is essential that Anglicans understand what has happened over the last 40 years, the reasons for it, and how to prevent it happening again.  This letter is part of that process.

This letter is also important for overseas observers.  There are lessons to be learned by many other provinces from events in North America, especially by the Church of England, and the more that the facts are spelled out by those who know them, the better.

So well done ACI.  Keep up the good work.

November 28, 7:14 pm | [comment link]
8. CSeitz-ACI wrote:

#7 having functioned as a priest in the SEC and in Europe, and having colleagues who have been missionaries in Uganda and Burundi, we agree especially with your final paragraph. At stake here is how anglicanism constitutes itself in good order so that the Gospel might be proclaimed. This is not just about TEC’s sad season of deterioration and lawlessness, that we just happen to have placed on our days. It is about the effective spread of the Gospel in every time and place.

November 28, 7:22 pm | [comment link]
9. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God,
that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day,
and having done all, to stand
Ephesians 6:13

Thank you doctors Turner, Seitz and Radner for your courage, and for just standing, for the Truth.

May you be richly blessed by God for your faithfulness.

November 28, 7:29 pm | [comment link]
10. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

Even if this letter has no affect on the PB and her minions or the HOB, it needed to be written.  Maybe one more person in the pew will wake up and see what is happening; maybe one more vestry will get the courage to back a rector who has been trying to warn them of what is happening and what could happen.  Telling the truth is never a futile exercise.

November 28, 8:24 pm | [comment link]
11. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

If I were an Episcopal Church Bishop receiving this letter as an addressee, which thankfully I am not qualified to be, and therefore do not have to swear allegience to a particular interpretation of TEC’s constitution as Goodwin Proctor shall feel like making it up from time to time, I think I would not be very pleased with Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori.  Consider:

1. She has a dreadful record of wasting Episcopal Church resources, mostly on the dreadful firm of Goodwin Proctor and its partner acting as her Chancellor.

2. She has made the Episcopal Church into a by-word for arbitrary and reckless behaviour and persecution around the world and in doing so has now purported to depose hundreds of priests and dozens of bishops, including Bishop Henry Scriven of the Church of England, to the extent that her actions are regularly quoted in England as an example we do not want to follow, and we treat her purported depositions which put Madame Defarge in the shade with contempt, including her presumption against Bishop Henry Scriven and her latest escapades against Bishop Lawrence.

3. Her latest little escapade has backfired massively, because she triggered by her latest attack on South Carolina an automatic dissociation of the entire diocese, and this is no tiny diocese like Nevada from which desert place she hails as its bishop and Dean of a divinity school which exists only as her ‘Truth’ in the Walter Mitty world in which she lives.

4. South Carolina is a huge loss to TEC - virtually its only consistently growing diocese, at 29,444 members.

5. Between 2010 and 2011, TEC lost 28,861 members.  In one fell swoop, the Presiding Bishop managed to ensure a similar loss in 2012.  Got to keep up her average, I suppose.  Now in Episcopal Church terms, South Carolina is one of the largest dioceses, and is equivalent to the Presiding Bishop losing a small Anglican Communion province, being larger than the Scottish Episcopal Church, or the Province of South East Asia, or the Southern Cone. 

Let me just repeat that figure, twenty-nine thousand Epsiscopalians in a diocese have been alienated by the sole actions of the Presiding Bishop.  That is a breathtaking record of failure by this Presiding Bishop, all of which comes down to her personal mendacity and total incompetence.  It need not have happened but so determined is this vicious zealot that it seems not to matter to her.  If I were a TEC bishop, I would be appalled.

November 28, 9:08 pm | [comment link]
12. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

But there is more:

What the Timeline shows is that from May 2011, the Presiding Bishop was intimately involved in directing, paying for and approving the cases being put together for this latest assault on South Carolina and its bishop, she put in place an alternative diocesan structure, and arranged for meetings in opposition to Bishop Lawrence and the Standing Committee’s authority, even before she purported to inhibit Bishop Lawrence, and has never properly served that inhibition.  Moreover with a lawful, even in TEC canonical terms, Standing Committee in place, she appointed an alternative body and engaged two bishops to act as a new diocesan authority even when the Standing Committee was in place, and the bishop not yet deposed.  Her office not only told her agents that they were the replacement authority, they told the press the same thing.  This is the evidence put together in the ACI letter, which is so devastating.

Nobody does anything in the Episcopal Church’s litigation without the approval or direction of the Presiding Bishop and without the involvement of her lawyers, Goodwin Proctor.  The Presiding Bishop knew about, appointed lawyers to, paid for and directed the preparation of the cases against Bishop Lawrence and against the diocese.  With her knowledge her agents submitted complaints to the Disciplinary Committtee and her appointees on that commitee then found the complaints founded and passed their decision back to the Presiding Bishop to pass sentence of restriction of Bishop Lawrence.  At this stage the matter should have gone to the House of Bishops. 

But the Presiding Bishop could not wait - she instructed her agents and the bishops she had appointed to move to take over the diocese, even when its structures were canonically still in place, and they proceeded to use the Diocesan seal and purport to circulate the clergy of the diocese on diocesan paper with instructions to attend a meeting.  The Presiding Bishop had acted as agitator, director of complaints, prosecutor, appointer of the disciplinary body, and executioner and as the person with the authority to take over the diocese through her agents.

But, in the strange way that John 3:20 talks about, the Presiding Bishop did not want her actions to be out in the light.

Now much worse and more serious, and this time the truth is the victim - What in this Walter Mitty world is one to make of these statements from the Presiding Bishop and her officers:

1. “the Presiding Bishop…assures me, after checking with her staff, that no one in her office issued an announcement that the offices of Bishop or Standing Committee have been declared vacant.” - reported by Bishop Dan Martins from a conversation he had with the Presiding Bishop.

2. “Title IV actions were initiated by members of the Diocese of South Carolina, not the Presiding Bishop” - TEC talking points issued by Episcopal Church Perspectives - indeed we are told it is a ‘Fact’ Sheet.

I am afraid the answer is all too obvious - it is a pack of lies - the Presiding Bishop is attempting to give herself a fig leaf to hide her actions under, in a manner which would have been all too familiar to those who know Hilaire Belloc’s ‘Matilda’:

Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one’s Eyes;
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
Attempted to Believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her,
And would have done so, had not She
Discovered this Infirmity.
For once, towards the Close of Day,
Matilda, growing tired of play,
And finding she was left alone,
Went tiptoe to the Telephone
And summoned the Immediate Aid
Of London’s Noble Fire-Brigade.
Within an hour the Gallant Band
Were pouring in on every hand,
From Putney, Hackney Downs, and Bow.
With Courage high and Hearts a-glow,
They galloped, roaring through the Town,
‘Matilda’s House is Burning Down!’
Inspired by British Cheers and Loud
Proceeding from the Frenzied Crowd,
They ran their ladders through a score
Of windows on the Ball Room Floor;
And took Peculiar Pains to Souse
The Pictures up and down the House,
Until Matilda’s Aunt succeeded
In showing them they were not needed;
And even then she had to pay
To get the Men to go away,   
It happened that a few Weeks later
Her Aunt was off to the Theatre
To see that Interesting Play
The Second Mrs. Tanqueray.
She had refused to take her Niece
To hear this Entertaining Piece:
A Deprivation Just and Wise
To Punish her for Telling Lies.
That Night a Fire did break out—
You should have heard Matilda Shout!
You should have heard her Scream and Bawl,
And throw the window up and call
To People passing in the Street—
(The rapidly increasing Heat
Encouraging her to obtain
Their confidence)—but all in vain!
For every time she shouted ‘Fire!’
They only answered ‘Little Liar!’
And therefore when her Aunt returned,
Matilda, and the House, were Burned.

Thank you ACI for showing up the truth of the situation.

November 28, 9:53 pm | [comment link]
13. A Senior Priest wrote:

I’m sad to say most of the TEC bishops will never get to read this. They live in a bubble in which no dissenting voices are allowed to be heard.

November 29, 12:22 am | [comment link]
14. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

#13 A Senior Priest
I am not so sure, unless they are away at the North Pole.  It is all over the internet: Stand Firm, Baby Blue, Transfigurations, The Living Church, Virtue Online, Anglican Ink, Anglican Curmudgeon, Anglicans United, AAC, Anglicans Ablaze,  and over in England it is on Anglican Mainstream, and even our bishops and Twitteratti are retweeting it and it is being discussed in New Zealand at Anglican Down Under, and in Australia at Anglican Church League and now the international newsfeeds like the India Times are picking it up.  Of course, if they close their eyes, stuff their fingers in their ears and sing ‘la la la, I can’t hear you’ it is possible for a few of them not to be aware of it, but everybody else is.

November 29, 7:47 am | [comment link]
15. Jill Woodliff wrote:

The simplest way to insure your bishop has read it is to send him a letter and respectfully ask him to.
A prayer for the ACI.

November 29, 10:34 am | [comment link]
16. Luke wrote:

It took our little band until seven years ago to act upon what we had only slowly discerned about ECUSA’s slide towards perdition. This came about as we gradually came to see what ECUSA’s chief operating officer, then our bishop, had brought us.

It was in the last week of November, 2005, that the vestry, minus one, and half the congregation departed. Praise The Lord!

We are still small and we struggle from time to time, but we are much happier, healthier, and far, far better off, with a wonderful, caring, and learned Trinity grad as our priest and rector.

We expect never to see any reversion in ECUSA’s direction, no matter how many such fine letters are written.

November 29, 10:46 am | [comment link]
17. tjmcmahon wrote:

I expect that the TEC revisionist bishop response will be rather like their response to the Windsor report.  There will be rhetorical statements about how they welcome discussion of church governance.  And then they will make a “naughty list” of all clergy and laity in the diocese who agree with the ACI position, and get to work on encouraging the clergy on the list to find employment in other dioceses, and convincing laity in parishes not to vote for list members for vestry positions.  Two or 3 years from now, what will by then be portrayed as “ringleaders” opposing the authority of GC, will find themselves under canonical discipline themselves.

November 29, 4:02 pm | [comment link]
18. MichaelA wrote:

Luke, very encouraging to read that.  Every congregation that puts itself on the right path is a blessing to the whole church. 

What was your diocese before you left TEC?

November 29, 9:08 pm | [comment link]
19. "Peter in the pew" wrote:

I am sad for all who , having been blithely unaware, now are caught in the headlights, frozen, fearful, and unable to move. Left behind may be a title but it is analagous. So sad, I may not have the energy to continue to save anyone else. I am at a loss. Where will my help come from? It will, if He wills, come from the Lord. Please give me the strength and the words. Give me the peace, that I may share it and call another out of the path of destruction.

November 30, 1:39 am | [comment link]
20. Luke wrote:

18. MichaelA - The Diocese of Lexington (KY), under Stacy Sauls.

November 30, 8:51 am | [comment link]
21. Cennydd13 wrote:

11.  Pageantmaster, I think you’ve left out one important thing:  Katharine Jefferts Schori and her House of Bishops have made The Episcopal Church the laughingstock of the Christian world.

December 2, 12:43 pm | [comment link]
22. MichaelA wrote:

Luke, wow, that must have been an experience!  Anyway, its great to hear the positive side of your experience, which seems to be now a congregation that can worship without fear.

December 2, 11:22 pm | [comment link]
23. Luke wrote:

22. MichaelA - it was, in many ways, a heart-rending and tortuous experience to have to come to grips with the reality of ECUSA, and then to slowly grasp the very painful nettles in order to pull ourselves out of the morass into which we found we had been led by our unthinking [or carefully planning?] forebears.
Thank God, we are out in the bright sunshine of ACNA, under Bishop Bill Atwood, and our beloved and caring priest, Bob+ Hudson.
We are experiencing and participating in a kind of Anglican life I never knew existed, and we glory in it!

December 3, 8:00 am | [comment link]
24. Cennydd13 wrote:

“We are experiencing and participating in a kind of Anglican life I never knew existed, and we glory in it!”  You’re not alone!  Our diocese was the first to slip the shackles, what a relief that was!  Praise be to God that He has sustained us and given us hope for the future!

December 3, 12:35 pm | [comment link]
25. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Thanks to Dr. Turner and Dr. Seitz for chiming in here, and for this latest example of ACI’s stellar service in documenting the follies and atrocities committed by the nefarious PB and her cronies in the leadership of TEC.  I hope that they will go on to compile a similar record of all the shameful and deceitful misdeeds perpetrated by the leadership of the Canadian Church, especially at the diocesan level in places like New Westminster.  For the sort of egregious and reprehensible abuse of power by North American liberal activists for whom “the end justifies the means” that the ACI has carefully chronicled here is indeed a scandal that has dire implications for the whole Anglican world.  We all have a stake in these affairs.

I thank God for this courageous and eloquent call to action by the ACI.  I hope that the few remaining TEC bishops who may have ears to hear it will take it more seriously than the recent open letter by the CP bishops would seem to suggest.  I’m glad that the noble ACI team continues its thankless task of preaching like Jeremiah or Ezekiel to stubborn, hard-hearted leaders of TEC, leaders who refuse to repent and who blindly persist on their self-destructive course.  It’s an unpleasant, depressing job, but someone had to do it.

But I will add my usual comment about the inside strategy adopted by the ACI.  It should now be abundantly clear that the attempt to salvage the worn-out, obsolete institutional wineskins of TEC is futile.  Similarly, on a larger scale, it should be almost as clear that the current institutional wineskins of the Anglican Communion at the international level are hopelessly compromised and will have to be discarded and replaced.  Not renewed or reformed, but replaced.  As I’ve repeatedly argued here at T19, it’s not the Anglican Communiond as such, but rather ANGLICANISAM that must be preserved at all costs.  And the kernel of Anglicanism is separable from the old, useless institutional husks with which it has heretofore been so closely associated.  Of course, I am not by any means implying that church polity is a matter of adiaphora as many Protestants would claim (not least the Lutherans in Article 7 of the Augsburg Confession).  I abhor the whole idea of Anglicanism devolving into a mere federation of loosely-affiliated Anglican provinces that are essentially autonomous.  I want to see Anglicanism evolve in exactly the opposite direction, with far more international accountability and mutual responsiblity than ever before, not less.  Hence my characteristic call for the creation of an international Anglican Supreme Court that can authoritatively declare the unbiblical actions of rogue provinces or dioceses to be null and void.

In the ancient legend of the Phoenix, the mythical bird was consumed by fire and reborn from the ashes every 500 years.  In 1 Clement 25, the third pope gave his imprimatur to that famous legend as an illustration of the resurrection.  I, for one, find that delightful myth of the firebird to be a timely symbol of what appear4s to be “the Fate of the Communiion” in our age.  Namely, the old institutional wineskins of Anglicanism that originated with the Elizabethan Settlement almost 500 years ago have now outlived their usefulness and are being consumed in a fiery conflagration as those obsolete, Erastian, colonial wineskins have proved completely inadequate for a truly global and post-Christendom era.  But we need not fear or give in to despari.  For I believe that from the ashes, a New and Better Anglicanism will arise, by God’s grace.  And for those with the eyes to see it, that bright and promising future for a ‘biblical, mkissionary, and united Anglicanism” is already taking shape.  It is already foreshadowed by the ACNA, the FCA movement and the broader Global South partnership, and it will now be enriched by the independent diocese of SC and perhaps by other CP dioceses that likewise get kicked out of TEC in the near future (such as my beloved old Diocese of Albany, or Dallas, or Central Florida, etc.).  Although some readers may only be able to see that the cause of orthodoxy in TEC is moribund and doomed, I dare to dream the impossible dream that the best days of Anglicanism are still to come.  After all, Advent is a season of hope.

David handy+

December 3, 4:32 pm | [comment link]
26. Cennydd13 wrote:

Amen, David+!

December 3, 6:21 pm | [comment link]
27. Cennydd13 wrote:

One could also hope that this letter with our comments will be taken to a much higher level in the Communion, and that the majority of the primates will take decisive action against TEC and the ACofC and their cronies.

December 3, 6:26 pm | [comment link]
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