Tuesday, December 19, 2006

the situation in the diocese of virginia

Yesterday, (Sunday) nearly one out of five church-going Episcopalians in the Diocese of Virginia voted to leave the Episcopal Denomination. (Everything you ever wanted to know about it -- so far -- can be found here.) I am conflicted about this kind of thing. On the one hand, the New Religion of ECUSA is a dead-end; it does not nourish; and it is antithetical to the gospel of Christ. On the other hand, I'm not sure what it means to "leave a diocese." As our own Fr Thorpus has intimated in the past, it seems like a better approach would be to band together and elect a rival bishop, and to set up shop as the (real) Diocese of Virginia. That's the way Gregory of Nazianzus and Athanasius handled things in Constantinople and Alexandria in the 4th century. Oh well. Gregory and Athanasius weren't big-e Evangelicals.

I wonder what it means, legally, that Falls Church and Truro both antedate not only the Episcopal Denomination, but the Diocese of Virginia as well... Probably nothing. But it should mean something. And I have to say, trying as hard as I can to look at this dispassionately, Bishop Lee does not look good. First, he's exhibiting ++++++Jefforts-Schori levels of litigiousness, including threatening vestry members individually. Bad form. Bp. Lee goes on to say:

The votes today have compromised these discussions and have created Nigerian congregations occupying Episcopal churches. This is not the future of the Episcopal Church envisioned by our forebears.

Right. Seriously: did Samuel Seabury create a situation with Scottish congregations occupying American churches in the 18th century? Think about it. (The answer is no.) And speaking of "the future... envisioned by our forebears," I'm sure George Washington's Episcopal dream wasn't all about gay pride parades, tie-dyed chasubles, and being on an equal theological footing with Hindoos and Jains. Let's be honest. If your going to invoke what "our forbears" envisioned, be consistent. And anyway, ought we automatically embrace everything our forbears envisioned just because they envisioned it? On that score, Bp. Lee should remember that the capital of the Confederacy was in his diocese. They probably wouldn't have wanted Nigerians in their churches either.

Read all of Bp. Lee's sabre rattling here. I think he's the wrong kind of conservative.


mmbx said...

You and Fr. Thorpus are right regarding banding together. If all the churches don't band together, and they don't seem to be doing that right now, they don't have a chance of standing up to the pb and the national church. Everyone needs to put aside their theological differences and unite their efforts. It won't take much thinking to outsmart those evil bullies, but it MUST be a joint effort. "United we stand, divided we fall" has never been more true.

As you know, it has gotten very ugly in Southern Virginia as well. Two of the largest congregations have pulled out (Galilee in Virginia Beach and Messiah in Chesapeake, each with valuable property) and the interim bp has now inhibited one of the priests and threatened another and spread the lie to all the churches here and all bishops in the country that they voluntarily renounced their ordination vows (they have not)! You can read about it here: http://www.churchofthemessiah.org/

BAND TOGETHER PEOPLE!!! Elect a Bishop together!! PLEASE!!!

Anonymous said...

It looks like to me like these parishes have already banded together pretty well. Bishop Minns will supervise all but one of the newly-departed Virginia congregations, if memory serves. And CANA is one of the Common Cause Partners. When the new ecclesiastical jurisdiction is created following in 2007 Primates Meeting these parishes will, I am confident, be within the fold of the new orthodox jurisdiction.

It appears that Fr WB (and Bishop Stanton) are still working on the assumption that TEC's canons will still be relevant a year from now vis a vis the orthodox. But facts on the ground are quickly rendering TEC irrelevant as far as the orthodox are concerned. (In the last couple of years the Dennis Canon has failed 815 everywhere it has been tried, except in Conn, has it not? So property concerns provide no compelling reason to maintain the fiction that these orthodox parishes are the "real" TEC diocese of VA. There is no need to elect a "shadow" TEC bishop there. Bishop Minns will serve well in the meantime.)

Fear not. The time for action is very near. The Network and Common Cause Partners are the future of orthodox Anglicanism in the US, and these VA parishes are going to be firmly ensconced with it. I hope the diocese of Dallas comes with us next year, rather than waiting for some post-Lambeth 2008 decisions as I gather is the present thinking there.

A concerned layman in Fort Worth

father thorpus said...

From VOL's write-up:
"We are saddened when individuals decide they must leave the Episcopal
Church, for we are diminished when any brother or sister departs from
the community," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in reply
to a reporter's inquiry late last week.

The hubris! She's not saying this because she's genuinely cut to the heart over this tragic division and willing even to give up her own theological priorities to keep that from happening. Rather, from "Mother Jesus' to Time magazine, she's showed us she's not at all willing to give up her own priorities to keep division from happening. She's just saying this to lay a guilt trip on those whose conscience prevents them from accepting her priorities. It's an attempt at coercion, not inclusiveness of differing perspectives.

For all that we've complained about the ABC, you've gotta give him this much: unlike PB Schori, he IS willing to give over his own theological priorities for the sake of unity. At least he's consitant there.

And this is the way Bp. Lee of VA described his departing flock: now Nigerian and Ugandan congregations occupying Episcopal churches. Can anyone spot the ecclesiological problem with that? What does he mean by 'church'? It's something that can be 'occupied'? it's a BUILDING!? What is the church if not the people? If he doesn't have the congregation, he doesn't have the church. He may quibble about property ownership, but if that's what he means, he should be more careful about his theological terms.

father wb said...

Concerned Layman,

I hope you're right. Everyone seems to know more than me about what's about to happen.

And I suppose they have banded together pretty well in VA.

I guess in my fantasy world, the Network bihops would be out consecrating new bishops for Virginia and what not, rather than Akinola. I don't like the Provincial boundary crossings. It belies our committment to the Windsor Report (for one thing) and could undermine the cause.

I don't know. Its all a mess. I'm glad my sphere of ecclesial authority is as small as it is (i.e. incredibly small).

Becca said...

well said!