In New Mexico Sadness, confusion after Episcopal bishop quits

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The expression of respect and affection for Steenson came five days after he released a “very difficult letter” announcing his intention to resign as bishop of the 8,000-member diocese in New Mexico and West Texas. Steenson said his “conscience is deeply troubled about where the Episcopal Church is heading.”

According to clergy in the room, the response was one of compassion for Steenson’s realization that he could no longer uphold the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church, which has lost dozens of congregations in recent years.

But along with the sadness there was confusion, trepidition and, for some, a feeling of abandonment.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Rio Grande

7 Comments
Posted September 30, 2007 at 7:27 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. HeavyDave wrote:

I find it interesting who was interviewed, or at least quoted, in this article: Rev. Colin Kelly, current President of the Standing Committee and previous aspirant to the See in Albuquerque (ran in 2004 against +Steenson), and Rev. Dick Murphy, previous SC President who was unseated by Rev. Philip Jones, who then left the DRG and St. Clement’s for St. Andrew’s Little Rock-AMiA and is now elected a Bishop, to be consecrated in January at their Winter Conference.  Kelly+ will run for bishop again, as a peacemaker and reconciler, Murphy+ will probably throw his hat in the ring with the support of the local Via Media group.  Question is: Will Rev. David Luckenbach, Rector of St. Mark’s on the Mesa and presently on Standing Committee, step up as one of the youngest candidates for bishop ever? 

But, overriding this question, the BIGGER question hinted at by Murphy+:

“Most clergy on both sides like the idea of a long-term interim bishop to give us time to grieve and to begin healing,” 

This hints at the potential impact of 815 on the upcoming selection process.  The selection of the interim bishop will tell us where the Diocese of the Rio Grande will fall on the greater question of TEC versus Anglican Communion. 

Since the article was from the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper, I liked seeing my old friend who grew up in St. Clement’s-El Paso, Rev. Frank “Rocky” Schuster quoted.  His new parish in Taos, St. James, was blessed to call him recently from the far reaches of Southern Michigan!  The photgraph of Bishop Steenson is one taken in the sanctuary of Holy Faith, Santa Fe…with the “Good Shepard Window” an exact match for one at St. Clement’s, in the background.  How ironic!

September 30, 11:58 am | [comment link]
2. Revamundo wrote:

I admire +Steenson for his honesty and integrity stating that “he could no longer uphold the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church.” How long will it take for The Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman, The Rt. Rev James Adams, The Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith, The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, The Rt. Rev. Jack Iker, The Rt. Rev. William Love & The Rt. Rev. Henry Scriven to exhibit the same honesty and integrity and resign?

September 30, 2:14 pm | [comment link]
3. Jeffersonian wrote:

Would that +Steenson had first taken his diocese out of the rotting edifice that is TEC.  I think that is likely what the gentlemen you mention, Rev, are about to do.

September 30, 3:16 pm | [comment link]
4. Revamundo wrote:

Well, they can certainly try to do that Jeffersonian. We’ll see what happens if/when they do. Time for them to fish or cut bait.

September 30, 3:18 pm | [comment link]
5. Christopher Hathaway wrote:

No bishop is obligated by his vow to conform to the doctrine and discipline of the church if that doctrine and discipline has changed illegitimately, that is, beyond the bounds in which it was received. Steenson could have, with all integrity, remained bishop of NM and declared TEC no longer binding on him as it had moved outside traditional and normative Anglicanism, not to mention Christianity.

If Steenson wanted to abandon Anglicanism and try to lead his diocese toward Rome, well, he would have been little different than the sooo many revisionist bishops who have abandoned the faith once received but still function as bishops and seek to move their dioceses into their vision of what the church should be. Though I am not inclined to swim the Tiber just yet, Rome has a better pedigree than the Whore of Babylon, or of her equivalent in NewYork.

I think Steenson should have stayed and fought, and fought on behalf of his flock.

But then I’m against the whole idea of bishops retiring in the first place. My catholic theology tells me that they aren’t CEOs of a religious corporation. The are fathers in Christ and shepherds of His people. Fathers don’t retire from being fathers, even if they change their mind about the direction of the family.

September 30, 4:06 pm | [comment link]
6. Bob Maxwell+ wrote:

Bishop Steenson has appointed the former rector of Los Alamos. Bishop Bill Frey, to be the ordinary of record on November 10th for all those who were to be ordained before the end of December.

I was at the Clergy Conference and actually the idea of a long term interim bishop was not widely promoted except by via Media. Voices were raised calling for the Standing Committee to make sure that someone [like Bp. Ben Benitez who visited during the previous interim,] is available. It is my opinion, contrary to HeavyDave, that most believe we need permanent leadership sooner, not later, given events in TEC.

We shall see with the new Standing Committee after Convocation this month.

September 30, 8:07 pm | [comment link]
7. HeavyDave wrote:

Actually, my friend Bob, I was quoting our friend Murphy+ from the actual article who was talking about a “preferred” long-term interim.  You see…there goes Via Media again (through him) exaggerating the truth in support of a concept!  Big surprise!

I, actually, agree with you…the DRG needs a quick, decisive search and election process.  But, remember the last search?  It took a longer time we thought and had some interesting twists.  This one should be even more twisted…or should I say convoluted.  Think of the “Eye of Sauron”...she watches!

September 30, 8:38 pm | [comment link]
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