Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Setting the Record Straight (before it’s crooked)

My vacation ends tonight, so I may as well wade back into the "conversation."

A week ago yesterday, on August 5th, a deadline passed—a deadline that, so far as I can tell, escaped the notice of the Anglican blogsphere.

On July 10th, the Right Revd Jerry Lamb, putative bishop of the putative "Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin", wrote this letter to the clergy of the diocese as it was constituted prior to December 8, 2007. It gave August 5th as the deadline for receiving responses from said clergy as to their intentions with respect to their future relationship to the Episcopal Church. Apparently it was not a precision operation. I know of at least two female deacons who were addressed as "Dear Father N." I also know of two presbyters who never received the letter.

In any case, I am given to understand that the Standing Committee of the (rogue and illicit) Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is set to meet this Friday. One might reasonably presume that their agenda includes taking notice of responses received and not received by last week's deadline. One might further presume that a goodly number of letters will be in the mail shortly informing their recipients that they have been deposed from the ordained ministry as the Episcopal Church understands ordained ministry.

What I gather from my sources in the San Joaquin Valley is that the July 10th letter—a bit of a slipshod effort by any account—is the only attempt that Bishop Lamb has made to contact the majority of the clergy in what he considers to be the continuing Diocese of San Joaquin—that is, the one spun off as a Missionary District from the Diocese of California in 1911 and received into union with General Convention as a diocese in 1960. Ah, yes, these would be the same clergy who failed to appear at what Bishop Lamb and others believe was a convention of the diocese held last March in Lodi, thus creating a prima facie case that a quorum of canonically-resident clergy in good standing of the diocese was not present, and thus rendering the acts of said convention—including the election of Bishop Lamb and the Standing Committee that meets this Friday—of no account according the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, which Bishop Lamb, as he so helpfully points out in his letter, is bound to uphold.

But we've been over all this before. It's old news. Forgive my self-indulgent ways.

Like I said … the July 10th letter is it. No emails. No phone calls. No drop-in visits (that is, except to change the locks at St Andrew's, Taft). So, when the depositions are announced, along with assurances that "every effort" (or some such) was made to contact these clergy and reconcile them to the Episcopal Church (a handful of which, I suspect, may actually have been receptive to that concept), we'll know what "every effort" (or some such) actually amounts to: A single mass-mailed form letter whose sender didn't know the recipients as anything other than abstract names on a list.

Why am I exercised about this? That's probably a complex list a reasons that would require years of Jungian analysis to ferret out. But here's one good one that just pops right up: I'm an Episcopalian, and the welfare of my church deserves a much higher quality of pastoral care, administrative oversight, and canonical fidelity than is being exercised in the central third of California.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fr. Dan:

I received one of those letter addressed "Dear Father Levy". As you well know, I am a Transitional Deacon, but since I am a woman, I will never be addressed as Fr. Levy!

The letter arrived via U.S. Mail without a request for a return receipt, so how will the office in Stockton even know that I received the letter? No one has ever called me to confirm that I received the letter, and I am listed in the telephone directory.

I expect to receive a letter soon telling me that I have been deposed. Since Bishop Jerry Lamb is not MY Bishop, how can he depose me? Inquiring minds want to know!

My best to you!

Francie+

Anonymous said...

"rogue and illicit Episcopal diocese of San Joaquin"

Are we supposed to take this statement with a straight face? You're not pulling our leg? You're really serious?

Francie -- he can depose you because you now say he is not your bishop.

Denise

Anonymous said...

RE: ""rogue and illicit Episcopal diocese of San Joaquin"

Yep -- it's as serious a statement as the canons of the Episcopal Church which were grossly violated in the whole "construction" of the faux diocese and its faux bishop, Denise.

But . . . I am smiling over *your* comments. ; > )


Sarah

Anonymous said...

Denise,
While I would use different language than Fr. Dan, the effect would be the same. A small dissident minority of the diocese [those who lost the democratically held vote of the legitimately & canonically called diocesan convention in December '07]gathered & held a meeting [not rising to the canonically requirements of a Special Convention] at the end of March '08 in Lodi. It was at that non canonically held meeting that Bishop Lamb [retired from Northern California] was designated by this dissident minority to be the bishop of something that TEC would then recognize as a diocese.

Bishop Lamb is held in the same regard as Bishop Chane or Bishop Andrus. Duly and canonically elected Bishops in Christ's One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. Bp. Lamb as the retired bishop of Northern California, the others as diocesans of Washington DC & California.

However, none of these men were canonically and legally elected as Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin. And therefore, none of them have jurisdiction over clergy in the Diocese of San Joaquin [except of course over moral or criminal violations of law occuring within the diocesan boundaries of California or Washington DC.

So, just as Francie need not be concerned with actions taken by Andrus or Chane...she need not be concerned with any action purportedly taken by Lamb.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Dan:

Along with Francie, I was one of those who received a letter addressed to "Dear Father Johnson." Of course as a vocationl deacon and a woman there is no way I could be consider "Fr." anyone.

It is obvious that "Bishop" Lamb has no clue as to who I am or who Francie is so how can he possibly depose us?!? Even he he was "legally" our Bishop one would think that you need to at least know who you are deposing.

Had I wanted to meet with him...which I most certainly did not want to...it would have been quite difficult as he left for England after sending the letter and didn't return until a few days before the deadline. That hardly qualified for making himself assessable to anyone!

Thank you for still caring about us and about your church. Knowing you (as I hope that I do)it must break your heart to see the church that you love treating those that you care about in such an uncaring way. Please keep us in your prayers!

Blessings,
Lee+

Anonymous said...

Excuse me. A group of people left the diocese of San Joaquin. That doesn't make the diocese not exist. A few years ago, I left the Methodist Church. That doesn't make the Methodist Church not exist. You people are living in Alice's Wonderland.

Sarah. Smile away. I've seen enough of your posts to know you rhyme with "rich".

Denise

Anonymous said...

Goodness, Denise, that kind of comment hardly seems appropriate for general conversation much less a blog. Comments are one thing...name calling is something else. If Denise wasn't offended, I most certainly was.

Lee+

ruidh said...

You speak as if the existence of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin had some kind of ontological or objective existence. It is a creation of man. It exists only as long as there are people who recognize its existence.

TEC recognizes the clergy and congregations organized around Bp. Lamb as the EDSJ. Snarky blog posts aren't going to change *that* reality.

I think it's more likely that the letters and the (lack of) response to them will confirm that there was a quorum rather than disprove one.

Anonymous said...

RE: "Goodness, Denise, that kind of comment hardly seems appropriate for general conversation much less a blog."

Well, she's clearly quite angry and she couldn't help it's coming out. And . . . rational arguments having failed her she had to say something. ; > )

No offense taken on my part. I'd have to first care what Denise thinks about me in order to actually be insulted. And I don't have as high of standards of rhetoric for revisionists.

Sarah

Anonymous said...

RE: "TEC recognizes the clergy and congregations organized around Bp. Lamb as the EDSJ."

Well . . . certain revisionist leaders of TEC in positions of power "recognize" the clergy and congregations organized around Bp. Lamb as the EDSJ, in violation of TEC's canons.

Not certain how pointing out that that recognition only occurs through force and not through adherence to the canons is "snarky" . . .


Sarah

ruidh said...

"Well . . . certain revisionist leaders of TEC in positions of power "recognize" the clergy and congregations organized around Bp. Lamb as the EDSJ, in violation of TEC's canons."

Oooh! "Revisionist" They must be bad.

It is indisputable that majority of parishes attempted to leave TEC> The canons don;t provide for anhting to do in this situation, so people slogged on.

There's no canonical violation because there are no canons addressing it.

The loyal Episcopalians are attempting to reorganize while others who wish to see them fail take pot shots.

It's pretty disgusting, actually.

Anonymous said...

RE: "They must be bad."

Yep -- pretty bad. Beers, Schori, et al, violate the canons of the organization which they were once sworn to uphold and instead frantically use brute force a la mini-me Stalins to institute what they wish, rather than follow the canons.

Pretty bad. Now, if *all* revisionists behave that way when given the power, then I suppose all revisionists in TEC would be bad as well, rather than merely heretical, which is a different thing. It'd be interesting to give Ruidh the same sort of power and see if he behaved as bufoonishly and ham-handedly.

RE: "The loyal Episcopalians are attempting to reorganize while others who wish to see them fail take pot shots."

Nonsense. All they had to do was follow the canons. There are all sorts of canons about organizing dioceses . . . but Jefferts Schori did not wish to follow them.

Why?

Well, because doing so would have meant 1) slowing down and that's inconvenient, and 2) actually using the institutions already in place like, oh say, the Standing Committee made up of clergy who did not go with the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. But . . . oh yeh . . . . those were made up of conservative clergy, and we can't have that, of course. And then 3) actually going through the legal requirements to depose the existing bishop of San Joaquin -- not done yet -- rather than the farcically anti-canonical fraud that they created in the HOB, leaving TEC open to any sort of lawsuit, since it did not follow its own rules.

And all of that's just for starters. The Anglican Curmudgeon -- conservative, mind you -- has a far better grasp of the details and canons than I did and he himself did a great post on how Jefferts Schori and Beers might have followed the canons AND ended up with a reorganized diocese to boot.

But no . . . that would have meant, you know . . . following the canons of the organization which she is sworn to follow and uphold.

And we can't have that because . . . well, we don't need 'em when we have the power! All we need is force, huh?

Cruisin' for a massive secular lawsuit, which they will lose, all because Jefferts Schori thinks she may do as she pleases without bothering with small silly details like the rules of the organization.

The next decade will be interesting.


Sarah