Bob Woods, TEC priest, chimes in on the Bakersfield, California Anglican/TEC Debate

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Per the Prayer Book and personally, I accept the Holy Scriptures as the "inerrant Word of God" which "contains all things necessary for salvation," and I also accept (as does The Episcopal Church USA, or ECUSA) the historic Creeds (Apostle's, Nicene and Athanasian) as "a sufficient statement of the faith." All that in turn means I and ECUSA believe in the Virgin Birth, that Christ was the only Son of God and so on, period.

For a non-Episcopalian to state that I believe otherwise is the result of ignorance, arrogance or something worse.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

9 Comments
Posted August 16, 2013 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Cennydd13 wrote:

Fr Woods may believe, but his PB doesn’t.  Which makes me wonder why he’s still an Episcopal priest.  Sure, I understand the reasons for his maybe wanting to stay in ECUSA and working for its reform, but he and the rest of the stayers are fighting a losing battle.

August 16, 3:23 pm | [comment link]
2. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

Which doesn’t alter the fact, Cennydd, that IF the sequence of events was as Father Woods describes it, then Bishop Schofield did not behave in a pastoral manner.

Can you speak to the character of Father Woods on a personal level and, if so, do you believe that he is lying about how he was treated after he declined to embrace realignment?

August 16, 7:58 pm | [comment link]
3. wyclif wrote:

I wish I could read it, but it’s behind a paywall. Perhaps someone in Bakersfield can copy-paste it here in the thread.

August 17, 5:20 am | [comment link]
4. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

Wycliff,

The portion to which I was referring: 

As a retired attorney who had a small Canon Law practice (In fact I was the church attorney in this Diocese before falling from grace), I and several other attorneys advised (former) Bishop Schofield that—incorporated or not—Episcopal churches belong to ECUSA as the courts have now quite predictably ruled in conformity with longstanding case law; their “loss” of the churches was foreseeable and predictable, hence no cause for whining exists in reality. That advice was dismissed out of hand, and an attorney with no apparent canon or church law background gained Schofield’s ear . . . I informed Bishop Schofield I wished to remain in the Anglican Communion and therefore would remain with ECUSA. As the church in Kernville is small and remote, I offered:

* To stay on until a replacement could be found
* To share the church with the separating people
* To consecrate Eucharist for them until a priest could be found.

In response Bishop Schofield to send the canon missioner to my church, unannounced, the following Sunday, who told me I was no longer permitted to do any priestly act at the Kernville or any other “Anglican” church, and that I was to remove all my possessions from the church by noon the next day at which time the locks would be changed, which they were. When I reminded him I was still a priest in good standing in ECUSA and therefore of the Anglican Communion, the response was less than charitable.

Now if that happened as stated then I see little difference in behavior from that of Bishop Andrew Smith of Connecticut in respect of St. John’s, Bristol in 2005. Hence my question to Cennydd. What mitigating factors might there be?

Or perhaps Horace was right: Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur.

[Incidentally, I was given the option of answering a question about whether I listen to Korean pop music and the text then became visible.]

August 17, 6:00 am | [comment link]
5. wyclif wrote:

Jeremy,

I really wasn’t looking for a rehash of TEC politics in CA. I don’t really care about any of that, because I’ve never been in TEC and don’t ever intend to be. What I was asking for was for someone to paste the content of the entire article, so I could read it and judge for myself, thank you very much.

August 17, 6:08 am | [comment link]
6. wyclif wrote:

I was indeed finally able to read it by searching for the article on Google.

My impression is that this is just more sour grapes. It’s another example of why TEC is circling the drain that is postmodernism and liberal theology: “we’re orthodox, no matter what our bishops say.” This has been then slogan of many an Episcopal parish over the years, and it’s just as facile now as it always has been.

It is also not the case—outside of CA, at least—that “Episcopal churches belong to ECUSA as the courts have now quite predictably ruled in conformity with longstanding case law.” Well, that depends a lot on the state in question. If the parish in question is located in, say, TX or SC, it looks as if things just aren’t as predictable, are they? I defer to the outstanding legal counsel of Allan S. Haley, if he cares to comment, on this subject.

August 17, 6:19 am | [comment link]
7. Chancellor wrote:

Thank you, wyclif—I do wish to comment. The Rev. Woods may have had a small Canon Law practice, but I doubt whether he ever served as a canon lawyer in the case of an entire diocese voting to leave the Church.

All of the cases which ECUSA has won to date in California have to do with parishes leaving. ECUSA has yet to win any case in the entire country where a Diocese has followed its own internal procedures to vote to withdraw.

Even in Pittsburgh, all that ECUSA won was a ruling that if that Diocese left the Church, it had previously stipulated with the court that it would hold title to its property only for so long as it remained in ECUSA. The court in Pittsburgh in no way ruled that the Diocese itself could not leave the Church; indeed, its departure was assumed to have been valid.

So what the Rev. Woods overlooks is that the lawsuit between ECUSA and Bishop Schofield is about whether an entire Diocese could properly vote to withdraw its affiliation—and under current First Amendment law, it had a constitutional right to do so. (The “freedom of association” recognized under the First Amendment necessarily includes the “freedom to dissociate”, i.e., to withdraw from any association such as ECUSA. And ECUSA—as Dr. Bonner well knows—has no language in any of its governing documents which attempts to restrict the exercise by a member Diocese of its constitutional right to dissociate, so we do not even have to inquire as to whether ECUSA could legitimately attempt to put any kind of limits on that right.) 

Once the Diocese of San Joaquin under Bishop Schofield exercised its constitutional right to withdraw from ECUSA, it became impossible for those priests who wanted to remain with ECUSA to continue to function within that Diocese. No doubt the Rev. Woods’s offer was well-intentioned, but he admits by what he writes that he still looked to ++Katharine Jefferts Schori as his ultimate authority, and not (as all of the withdrawing priests, and Bishop Schofield himself, had pledged themselves) to the authority of ++Gregory Venables. His offer did not include accepting a license to preach from Archbishop Venables. Therefore, Bishop Schofield could not allow him to continue to occupy a pulpit, even for one more Sunday, and remain true to the decisions that had finally been taken—after two full years of debate and deliberation—by the diocesan convention in December 2007.

Those who want to say: “Let’s just all remain friends, and put aside these disagreements” are generally not those who have pastoral authority over other clergy, or over their diocese or church as a whole. Canon law still prevails at those higher levels—and it prevents any clergy from serving more than one Primate. Father Woods made his choice, and made it clear to Bishop Schofield. He should not have expected Bishop Schofield to react in any other way.

August 18, 1:15 am | [comment link]
8. Jeremy Bonner wrote:

Chancellor,

Fr. Woods offers an interpretation of the constitutional position of TEC which I don’t think is sustained by the historical record but that is not the issue here.

He had served as a priest under Bishop Schofield and had made an offer that implied that he recognized that he could not remain the incumbent indefinitely (namely to stay on until a replacement could be found). Under the circumstances, he was owed the civility (at the very least) of a personal response from the bishop, that thanked him for his offer to serve his congregation, acknowledged his service to the diocese and wished him well. After all, even Bishop Schofield never asserted that those who failed to realign thereby rendered invalid the efficacy of their orders.

All the above assumes that the situation was exactly as Fr. Woods states it, but I’m aware of a number of similar circumstances in my former diocese where stayers were not treated with the charity that I think they deserved. And even now, for some of us, that matters (it was one of the reasons that I concluded my diocesan history in 2006).

August 18, 3:37 am | [comment link]
9. Sarah1 wrote:

Thanks, Chancellor, for chiming in on the more inaccurate points of Bob Wood’s little article.

While I certainly agree with Jeremy Bonner that many “stayers” haven’t been and still aren’t treated nicely by some “leavers” [and vice versa], my assessment is that had Bishop Schofield written the civilized boilerplate to Bob Woods and then proceeded to do what he needed to do . . . we’d still have this precise same bitter and inaccurate article from Bob Woods some years later.

In fact, the revisionist activists in TEC appear far more bitter and outraged a decade after their “victory” [and continued “victories”] in TEC than either the loser conservatives still remaining in TEC or most of the leavers.

It’s a very curious and interesting phenomena.

August 18, 7:27 am | [comment link]
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