Sunday, July 13, 2008

Plain Logic

The Lambeth Conference begins in earnest this week. I'm on information overload. And if I try to be a pundit, I'll just be contributing to everyone else's information overload. Fortunately, my vacation also begins in earnest this week! This coming weekend will find us in Atlanta, if all goes according to plan, then three nights at a B&B on Tybee Island, Georgia, where, if God is merciful, I will not be able to find an internet connection.

I'm not swearing off making comments about Lambeth during Lambeth, but I very well might not. For the time being, though, I'm going to confine myself to a subject about which I have some more specialized knowledge--namely, my old diocese of San Joaquin.

First, my usual disclaimer: I'm an Episcopalian. I joyfully serve an Episcopal parish as Rector. I have no plans to become anything else. I deplore the action that the convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin took last December. I think it was a huge and destructive mistake.

OK?

So ... last week, the putative bishop of the putative "Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin" wrote a letter to all the clergy who were on the rolls of the diocese as it was constituted prior to December 8, 2007. He basically offered them three choices: 1) Pledge me your fealty, 2) Renounce your orders in TEC "without prejudice", 3) Be deposed from the ordained ministry. Oh ... and I need your answer in three weeks. Oh ... and I'll be in England for three weeks. But if you can catch me, I'm certainly eager to sit down and talk with you.

Strange timing.

Now, aside from the ... what shall we say? ... ungenerous ... tone of the missive, it raises some curious issues. It comes as no news that, for a number of substantive technical reasons, I recognize neither the constitutional foundation of the "Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin" nor the authority of Bishop Jerry Lamb. By any rational reading of the Constitution & Canons of the Episcopal Church, we're talking about a bogus diocese with a bogus bishop, though they have some impressive-looking stationery. That they exist at all, and are able to maintain the chimera of legitimacy is a result only of the raw exercise of naked political power on the part of the Presiding Bishop. She is manifestly guilty of presentable offenses, but it will never happen because the political calculus just isn't there. At least four Standing Committees, and their bishops, agree with this assessment, and this doesn't even count the standard "bad guys" that are all set to follow San Joaquin out of TEC either sooner or later. These are dioceses that are playing ball inside "this church."

Anyway ... follow my thinking here: Bishop Lamb's letter was addressed to a bunch of clergy who have already chosen Door #3 and aren't looking back. Yet, he addresses them as clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. Presumably, then, they should be counted in the number of clergy that forms the basis for the determination of a quorum at a convention of the diocese. Yet, how many of the "leavers" were present in Lodi last March when the Presiding Bishop called to order a "convention" that called Bishop Lamb to serve as their provisional bishop, and elected a new Standing Committee and a new Diocesan Council?

How 'about: Zero.

Zero is a pretty safe bet on that one.

So if these clergy, whom Bishop Lamb presumes to be in good standing until August 5 unless they signal otherwise before then, were not present in Lodi last March, how could there possibly have been a canonical quorum to validate the actions that the conclave took?

The answer is simple: There wasn't. There was no quorum. Bishop Lamb's own letter knocks out the scaffolding from under his pretension to be the Bishop of San Joaquin.

Not that this glaringly obvious fact will matter to anyone in power.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Heh. Well, they can always use the Southern Cone excuse for running roughshod over their own Constitution and Canons - an irregular action on a temporary and emergency basis. What's sauce for the goose...

Anonymous said...

Dan, just a date note. The meeting, called by the PB was March 29...not January. Not only were the resident clergy lacking, but non resident clergy were permitted to attend & vote as if they were canonically resident.

Also, there wasn't a sufficient number of congregations present to hold a special convention.

Also only the ecclesiastical authority has canonical right to call a special convention. If +JDS was successfully deposed [some very large doubts here] then the EA moves to the Standing Committee...no where in Canon is any authority given to the PB to interfere with the diocese. Much less to call a special convention.

Also Canon requires 30 day notice of the meeting date, time and singular issue to be addressed at a special convention. The notice regarding the Lodi meeting was posted from Washington DC [David B.Beers office] on the 30th day, but not received in California till the 25th day before the meeting, not in compliance with Canon.

Also some of the "delegates" that registered and voted were not elected or appointed by their congregations [again in violation of canon].

In other words... Bishop Lamb is the retired bishop of Northern California and currently working with a small group of dissidents in the Diocese of San Joaquin and is writing letters to clergy over whom he has no authority what so ever.

Anonymous said...

Dan,

San Joaquin is a Constitutional and ecclesiastical Katrina. It was leveled December 7 & 8, 2007. Neither JDS nor the then Standing Committee did anything to fulfill their obligations under the TEC Const. & Canons. In fact JDS fired the SC for failing to follow him into lawlessness, and they refused to work with the PB in restoring order to the diocese.

In any crisis, one's main responsibility is to restore order, ensure safety and security, and bring relief to the injured. JDS and Convention 2007 inflicted grievous harm to the Body of Christ, and the THEN SC did NOTHING to prevent it, reverse it, or handle it; nor did they seek the assistance of the larger Church to help them do so. Again, they did nothing while the house got ransacked.

When the PB called a special convention, every congregation and clergy person could have attended to challenge its legality (if that was a real concern). One priest and one parish did just that. The rest followed JDS's orders to stay away. Does their absence and their silence connote assent to the actions taken by that convention? I don't know, but I know their absence did nothing to bring clarity, healing, or anything else to the diocese.

While I understand some of your concerns (I like law; I like canons, too) I would really like to know how you think the issues ought to be resolved at this point. I just don't see how your potshots taken at either the PB or Bishop Lamb are helping anyone.

We can all wish things were different, or that they'd been handled differently on all sides, but what is your solution for the way things are? No one can retrace their steps and prevent the past; but how ought TEC move forward and prevent Katrina from visiting several other dioceses that have aimed themselves into the maw of her destructive forces?

Dan Martins said...

I am able to respond substantively to the anonymous comments. But I have a policy against responding to anonymous comments. I invite the posters to make their real-world identities known to me. Private email is fine.

sapb said...

Okay Fr Dan, fair enough regarding your response. Perhaps you can enlighten me,Where does the SC sit at this time? They did not attend the Convention in March, out of protest, were fired by JDS for not submitting to the So Cone, why wouldn't Bsp Lamb want to know where they stand? Quite frankly, so do alot of people. I am quite cognizant of your loyalty to them, but to the faithful Episcopalians who want to follow Christ in our Episcopal Diocese in San Joaquin, they have been shamefully silent. At least Fr Rob Eaton had the guts to come and stand up for what he believed to be wrong in a crowd where he knew the majority was not in agreement with his stance. I think the folks have their knickers in a twist since they no longer can sit the fence and need to declare themselves. You know better than most how things went terribly wrong here, Their action or inaction is reprehensible and spiritual abuse in the worst form. And one more thing if you can answer, as this certainly confuses me,
In December, the vote was thrust upon us as "the only way to assure our place in the Anglican Communion and relationship with the ABC". So now they support GAFCON, which in essence is in direct conflict with this statement. This didn't happen overnight, it was long in coming and another opportunity to dupe the Valley folks. I sometimes wonder how stupid or blindly faithful do they think we are? Speaking for myself, I choose to follow Christ and not the human form of a Bishop, deposed or not.I happen to find Bsp Lamb refreshing, approachable, and kind. He is just what we needed, irregularly or not. Sapb

Dan Martins said...

I guess "sapb" might be a reference to an actual name, to I'll grant the benefit of the doubt.

Of the six remaining members of the San Joaquin Standing Committee after Bishop Schofield dismissed them from *his* Standing Committee on January 19, five eventually decided to leave TEC, either for the Southern Cone or the AMiA. This was a direct result of their mistreatment by 815, and was an unnecessary loss to TEC. I believe all six of them could have been retained had the Presiding Bishop responded positively to their initial private overtures to her by telephone on January 18. At any rate, this means that Fr Rob Eaton is now the lone legitimate member of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. As such, he should, as per the constitution of the diocese, appoint four lay and three clergy replacements. If those replacements happen to be among those who were purportedly elected at the rump convention in March, perhaps that would be a good thing. Then, if that Standing Committee wished to do so, they could appoint an interim bishop. It that interim bishop happened to be Jerry Lamb, perhaps that would not be a bad thing. Such a turn of events might allow the current illegitimate regime to become legitimate, and would go a long way toward restoring the confidence of conservative remaining Episcopalians that "this church" operates under the rule of law, and not the whims of the powerful. And for the record, I share your alarm at how the secession was "packaged" by Bishop Schofield and his staff. The convention was substantially misled. I don't support what they did--i.e. leave the Episcopal Church. I simply acknowledge that they had the right to do so and indeed have done so.

Doug said...

Well Dan, a few months back you said that you were going to refrain from further comment on San Joaquin, so much for that.

You know as well as I do that for the past 5 to 10 years the "deck was stacked" at any and all diocesan conventions. You helped to stack the deck. At the last convention I attended one of your own parishoners later told me that he voted with you and your delegation, not because he agreed with you but because "he didn't want to embarass his Rector." How does that make you feel?
We know that delegates to the various conventions were hand picked to conform to the votes wanted by JDS and the clergy. (It is not a compliment to those who did not stand up for their beliefs, but we also know that those who didn't conform to the "party line" were indeed marginalized by their clergy and fellow "Christians."

I think that the action of JSD to "remove" the Standing Committee was just theater. Those folks didn't stand up and oppose JDS and his plan. To say that they were still legitimate members of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is pure sophistry. That was a cynical act to position JDS for the legal challenge that was to come. From what I read Fr. Rob Eaton was treated with respect in Lodi, far more respect than was given to those in opposition at the so-called Diocesan Conventions that I attended. You yourself were part of the disrespectful treatment of those who oppose JDS.

As I have said before, the good folks who gathered in Lodi earlier this year were simply trying to reclaim their heritage: to honor and defend the pledges of church members from the present and past: to enforce the trust that was imposed upon the Diocese by those who are and were faithful to The Episcopal Church. The attempt at "hijacking" the Diocese needs to be challenged. (The action of the Church in Pittsburgh PA to have the Court appoint a "Receiver" should have been done in SJ.)
You might start a form of rehabilitation by stopping the continued and unwarrented attacks on the Presiding Bishop and Bp. Lamb. Consider, if you will that they might have a point of view that is worthy of respect. If you cannot be respectful of them and their point of view then you are not entitled to have your point of view respected. You might also not encourage further divisivness within No. Indiana and work toward unity and reconciliation.

Tom Sramek, Jr. said...

Dan: It appears that, by your logic, since the clergy you reference "have already chosen Door #3 and aren't looking back" then Bishop Lamb should have simply deposed them without any sort of notice at all, since they had already chosen deposition by their actions. However, when bishops of other dioceses have deposed so-called "conservative" clergy, often with significant amounts of notice to those facing deposition, there has been a great hue and cry. My read of Bishop Lamb's note was, essentially "Are you sure?" if they are, then well and good and goodbye. If not, then also well and good.

Also, are you seriously saying that Fr. Rob Eaton should SOLELY determine the makeup of the Standing Committee and thus the future of the diocese? If that isn't an autocratic power play, even if legitimate, I don't know what is!

JamesW. said...

The fact of the matter is that Jerry Lamb was not validly installed as the bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin. Tom, Dave and others might say "well, it is convenient to ignore the rules when they get in our way, so what's the problem?" The problem is THAT ATTITUDE!!! If it's okay for TEC to violate the rules whenever they are inconvenient, then why not for the other side?

Jerry Lamb has no more right to issue the letter he did then I do.

Anonymous said...

Doug,
You are diluted and blind! No one has ever been treated disrepectfully at any Diocesan Convention. You just don't like Bishop Schofield so anything he and those who do follow him do....you will rail against. You have your church property and all that goes with it. Go and do your New Thing theology and oradin the gays and women and be happy dude!
ODC