Diocese of Texas Bishop Announces Plan to Navigate Proposed Rite

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Texas, C. Andrew Doyle, announced his response to the likely approval at this summer’s General Convention of the blessing of same-gender covenants today at a special meeting of diocesan clergy. Bishop Doyle outlined his plan to help unify the Diocese of Texas, addressing both liberal and traditional congregations’ positions at the gathering at Camp Allen April 24.

Bishop Doyle began working with former Secretary of State James Baker in 2010 to develop the outline of his plan. He has since received support for his leadership from people in the diocese who represent the broad diversity of opinion on the blessing of same-gender covenants.

“My plan does not ask for further debate or require approval,” Bishop Doyle told the clergy gathered at Camp Allen. “I have not asked people to change their positions or even to like the plan that I am setting before us,” he explained. “It is my deepest desire to offer a generous breadth of pastoral care for our members throughout the diocese. “

Read it all and also note the the very long diocesan resource on this may be obtained here.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings

13 Comments
Posted April 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm

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1. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

I can well remember when folks thought “that crazy stuff will never happen here” because they thought the folks that recommended it at Diocesan Convention were “kooky”.  Good thing the Bishop saved them all the trouble of caving at convention.  Doyle pre-emptively caved.

April 26, 5:38 pm | [comment link]
2. Henry wrote:

One of the last dioceses that even began to look orthodox is now gone.  Going to be some interesting times in the Dioc. of Texas.

April 26, 6:02 pm | [comment link]
3. MichaelA wrote:

Indeed.  More orthodox Anglicans in TEC will have to consider what they are going to do. They have a number of options, but simply relying on the fact that one’s vestry and/or rector have always been orthodox will no longer be enough.

If they are going to stay in TEC, they will have to give careful thought to what they must do to defend themselves.  Hard work and thought is required, whether they stay or go.

Of course there’s always the X option: Just sit back and watch your church slowly die, as so many have already done….

April 26, 7:47 pm | [comment link]
4. driver8 wrote:

Well there is precedent for this. It is the sort of “solution” that several Provinces adopted for managing disagreements between those who affirmed and those who denied the propriety of the priestly ordination of women. The precedent, FWLIW, is that such a “solution” functions as a temporary stop gap measure until such a time as those proposing change have the upper hand. At that moment, all talk of agreeing to disagree disappears and pressure is brought to bear on parishes who want to uphold the traditional view of the church.

In the COE I worshiped at a small parish that had voted not to accept a woman rector. Despite the provision made in legislation for just such parishes and that the Bishop in public affirmed the valued place of such parishes, we were repeatedly told in private by diocesan leaders that we would severely disadvantage ourselves if we did not change our vote. I understand the parish now has a woman parish priest.

Such, I predict, will take place in this diocese over the next decade or two.

April 26, 8:23 pm | [comment link]
5. driver8 wrote:

If you wish to slow this momentum then pay careful attention to whom is elected to your Vestry and even more critically to whom is called to serve as Rector.

April 26, 8:31 pm | [comment link]
6. c.r.seitz wrote:

#6 Sadly, I believe the on-the-ground realities are much worse than your comparison would suggest, in terms of unfeasibility (and much quicker, too). Rector X chooses to do a ssb in a different setting but remains rector of his non ssb parish. Ssb couple move to Houston and decide to worship at non ssb parish. One partner serves at the altar and teaches Sunday School. Ssb couple decide to break up and ask for a special liturgy at parish X which has never known they were a couple. People don’t exist in parishes for life. The permutations and knock-on are endless. This is the problem of theology by geography. The ‘church’ isn’t a parish.

April 27, 8:58 am | [comment link]
7. c.r.seitz wrote:

Sorry, #6 is directed to #4 and #5.

April 27, 9:17 am | [comment link]
8. David Keller wrote:

Dr. S and driver—The other thing is you can’t elect people to a vestry who will stand against the SSB tide anymore. First, if a vestry person tries to stand up, even in an orthodox parish, he/she is attacked and destroyed by the Rector and the Bishop.  Second, those of us who have already been attacked and destroyed either (1) will never be elected to vestry again (and wouldn’t run if asked) or (2) have already left TEC.

April 27, 9:19 am | [comment link]
9. c.r.seitz wrote:

#9—one also wonders whether the Gay movement will actually find this acceptable. I read someone asking whether this would be OK for race relations, etc. ‘Why can’t I have a blessing in the church of my choice?’ is the obvious question when a theological issue has been consumerized.

April 27, 9:42 am | [comment link]
10. Teatime2 wrote:

I’m really surprised by +Doyle’s pronouncements here (and his “reasoning.”) I expect he’ll face a backlash from a portion of the clergy, unless they’ve changed quite a bit in the time that has lapsed since I lived in coastal Texas.

April 27, 2:22 pm | [comment link]
11. Mike Watson wrote:

Beginning on page 85 of the document, Bishop Doyle identifies something he says is essential for understanding the strategic position he is laying out for the diocese.  What he says is essential to this understanding is a lengthy excerpt from the Windsor Report on the subject of adiaphora.  (The paragraph numbers are incorrectly given in the diocese’s document; they are actually ¶¶ 87-95.)  If these paragraphs are essential for understanding Bishop Doyle’s position, one would think the diocese’s document would lay out a path connecting A and B.  I do not see that it does.  Following the quotation from the Windsor Report, there are several paragraphs in which Bishop Doyle wrestles with the concepts, but he quickly seems to return primarily to a recapitulation of how one side believes one thing and the other side the opposite.

If one did want to follow through on the implications of the Windsor Report’s discussion of adiaphora, and in particular the issue of identifying what matters are and are not included, it would have seemed logical for him to have examined the subsequent development leading to what wound up in the Anglican Communion Covenant, in particular the emphasis on the criteria of intensity, substance and extent. Bishop Doyle says in the Diocese’s document (page 110) that he will “maintain[] a stance that remains in concert with the Anglican Communion Covenant.”  Presumably this means his position is that he still supports the Covenant; he has said before that he strongly supports it.  If an understanding of what Bishop Doyle is proposing for the Diocese were truly linked in a critical way to the Windsor Report’s discussion of adiaphora, it would not seem that he would want to steer clear of a more specific discussion of where the rubber meets the road.  Unless, that is, doing so would make clear that his plan represents not consistency with, but a departure from, some of the sources he cites.

April 27, 3:28 pm | [comment link]
12. driver8 wrote:

#11 His argument seems to imply that the matter ought to be seen as an adiaphoron (and such is the praxis he has decided to teach and enact in his diocese) but he refrains from offering such a direct conclusion. The implicit argument seems to be:

1. Some thing are adiaphora
2. Christians may legitimately disagree about matters adiaphora
3. Christians disagree about same sex blessings
4. Therefore same sex blessings are adiaphora

It’s obviously fallacious. It’s principal claimed virtue is that it offers “peace for our time”. There are good analogies to suggest it will be mistaken even in that.

April 27, 6:14 pm | [comment link]
13. Teatime2 wrote:

Perhaps this will separate the wheat from the chaff, not that I’m suggesting this is +Doyle’s intent. Historically, the GLBTs for whom TEC has been bending over backwards haven’t been breaking down the doors of the churches. There’s no reason to believe that accommodations within the Diocese of Texas will change that and there may be fallout for the churches that do decide to participate in these “rites.”

However, places like St. John the Divine in Houston thrive, will continue to thrive, and are unlikely to allow this “accommodation” to affect them. Will they endure any negative “guilt by association” in their communities? Frankly, I doubt it.

The Dio. of Ft. Worth took the bull by the horns but it seems that the other dioceses in Texas are going about their mission and aren’t getting sucked into the sideshows. At least, that’s been my experience in a couple of dioceses, particularly West Texas. West Texas had an alternative giving program by which you could direct your contributions away from TEC. I’m not sure if they still do.

April 27, 9:35 pm | [comment link]


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