Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Saturday Morning Massacre

I am of an age to remember Watergate, and Richard Nixon's firing of the Attorney General for his refusal to fire the Special Prosecutor, and his instant promotion of the Solicitor General in order to accomplish the deed. It was known as the Saturday Night Massacre.

In the post previous to this one, I drew attention to the role of the Standing Committee in the Diocese of San Joaquin. All eight members--four clergy and four lay--are solidly orthodox in their theological positions, all "reasserters." All have been energetic supporters of Bishop Schofield's advocacy for the received moral teaching of the Church Catholic. All have agonized over their relationship with an Episcopal Church that causes them shame and embarrassment at every turn. I am well acquainted with five of the eight, and know two of the three others, having served on that very Standing Committee as recently as six months ago. I shared their mixed feelings when we contemplated our relationship with TEC and the Anglican Communion. We worked hard to present a united front with our bishop in bearing witness to the faith of the saints, apostles, prophets, and martyrs.

As of this morning, six of those eight are now ex-members of the San Joaquin Standing Committee. Only ... which ones are the six and which ones are the "remaining" two?

Here are the facts. First, a message from Bishop Schofield:

On December 8th at our Diocesan Convention the overwhelming vote to transfer from the Episcopal Church to the Province of the Southern Cone was passed. At that time I became a member of the House of Bishops of that Province. Therefore, the Standing Committee, which is my council of advice, must be composed of clergy members who are Anglican priests of the Southern Cone. This is required by Diocesan Canons and the Archbishop of the Southern Cone of South America, who writes:

“In welcoming you to the Province of the Southern Cone on December 8th it is my clear understanding that even though you are allowing a period of discernment for those clergy who are still undecided, it would be highly inappropriate for any officer or leader within the Diocese of San Joaquin to be currently undecided or clearly within the Episcopal Church and continue as an officer or leader. The requirement governing each diocese of the Southern Cone is that all members of Diocesan Council, Standing Committee, and those selected as representatives at Synod be recognized Members of this Province.”

Therefore, this morning I received the resignation of those members of the Standing Committee who do not meet the above qualifications. Communication and correspondence related to the Standing Committee should now be directed to the new President of the Standing Committee, ---------, at the Diocesan Offices.

Then we have this , from the duly-elected president of the Standing Committee:

During the Standing Committee meeting of January 19th, the Bishop determined that the elected members of the Standing Committee who had not publicly affirmed their standing in the Southern Cone [whose congregations are in discernment, some over the legality of convention's actions] were unqualified to hold any position of leadership in the Diocese, including any elected office. He pronounced us as unqualified. No resignations were given. The question of resignations was raised and rejected. The members of the committee at this morning's meeting were quite clear on this point, we did not resign, we were declared unqualified to hold office. The Bishop's decision affects up to 6 of the 8 elected members of the Committee including all of the clergy members.

Let the record show that three of the four clergy members who are now clearly not members of the Standing Committee of the Southern Cone Diocese of San Joaquin are rectors of the three largest parishes of the diocese. Two of them are the two most senior priests of the diocese (in terms of time in cure) and the other is in the top five, having held his position for 12 years.

Bishop Schofield's action has effectively (pardon the metaphor) "outed" these priests, revealing a divide within the diocese that cannot be casually dismissed. We're not talking about the liberal fringe (I use "liberal" in a relative sense) who have always been malcontents in the diocese, now under the umbrella of Remain Episcopal. We're talking about actual conservatives--those who, in grand San Joaquin tradition, wore out the 'No' buttons on their clickers during legislative sessions of the House of Deputies. We're talking about the potential seeds of a viable continuing conservative TEC presence in the Central Valley of California.

But the big news is that, by any reasonable reckoning, these four priests and two lay persons (who, incidentally, are members of two of the large parishes represented by the priests) are still the members of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. It is tempting to say that there are now two lay vacancies on that committee, but I have to think about the due process angle a little more. In any case, if 815 wants to know who they should be talking to--that is, the Ecclesiastical Authority of the diocese, given the inhibition (to say nothing of the voluntary departure) of the Bishop--there is now no doubt.


Anonymous said...

How can the Bishop confuse "I resign" with "you're fired"? What is going on with the Bishop here?

Jane Ellen+ said...

We're talking about the potential seeds of a viable continuing conservative TEC presence in the Central Valley of California.

I am (obviously, I suppose) not so "conservative" as these folks must be; no doubt we would disagree on many issues. However, I thank God for the possibility of their remaining within the folds of the Episcopal Church. We would be poorer without one another.

Ann said...

We're not talking about the liberal fringe (I use "liberal" in a relative sense) who have always been malcontents in the diocese, now under the umbrella of Remain Episcopal.
This does not seem like helpful language for building bridges and community in the Diocese of San Joaquin. "always" "malcontents" -- surely that is just fanning flames of division when people are seeking to remain together.
I am hopeful that all those who remain in the diocese can work together for a new future.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr. Martins,
I deeply resent your remarks concerning Remain Eopiscopal. This is where the faithful have gathered.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ann and Leslie for demonstrating why no sane believer would remain in or return to TEcUSA.

Anonymous said...

Matthew 6:23
But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

As a former member of several conservative groups--I remain dogmatically conservative, but on ethics and morals, the scriptures are less dogmatic in my estimation and I'm sure the scribes and pharisees thought Jesus radical! How difficult to stay together when so much tears us apart. Perhaps that is part of sanctifying grace. Stay strong Stay Episcopal! Just make sure you fight with God's weapons and not with the "power plays" used by the flesh and the Devil.


Ecgbert said...

I've not read enough information to know what this really means.

IMO comparing the bishop to Nixon isn't on.

It may simply be a misunderstanding - maybe the priests in question didn't know the deadline. Those things happen.

Or they want to be Episcopalians.

The church is in the truth business and is not a debating society. Catholic truth is a non-negotiable not a matter of personal style or tastes (like what kind of services one likes).

Catholic Anglicanism has no future in the Episcopal Church (now obviously a liberal Protestant denomination not interested in union with the Catholic churches on Catholic terms) so realigning makes sense.

The Protestant Global South is marginally more tenable for Anglo-Catholics but for how much longer? Same conflict, different issues.

One can and should continue in fellowship short of communion and even friendship but for contradictory theologies to try and remain in the same church or communion makes no sense.

(Without the British Empire artificially keeping them together the contradictory theologies of Anglicanism - Catholic, Central, Evangelical and Broad - are naturally moving away from each other.)

Having recently read a comment in a popular liberal blog calling for the removal of such 'theological ghettos' as this diocese the other side at least tacitly admits this.

As TEC still claims San Joaquin's buildings the only questions then are 'Who owns what?' and 'What is this brand of religion's main unit, the national church or the diocese?' Something the courts will end up deciding and of course the Southern Cone Diocese of San Joaquin ought to honour that decision.

Anonymous said...

Well, my first (admittedly intemperate) response was that these people wanted an authoritarian church and clearly have got one now, making me think of how more tears have been caused by answered prayers.

But, on further consideration, I hope that TEC and Remain Episcopal reach out to loyal conservatives in that diocese. We need them to have a healthy church.

Anonymous said...

"Healthy church". I am afraid that boat has said for ECUSA. A healthy church is set on a biblical foundation. A healthy church seeks to do the work of the Great Commission.

In case you missed it +Bruno apologized to the Hindu's for those who sought to bring the Good News to them.

Remain Episcopal? If you are looking for a good social club, this one might be as good as any other. If, however, you are looking for a "healthy church," I'd recommend you seek one that still preaches, teaches and believes the Gospel.


Jake said...


How about one that also doesn't bear false witness against her brothers and sisters in Christ?

Anonymous said...

I believe that this situation is referred to as "reaping what you sow."

Anonymous said...

Well, Jake, that's always the plan.

Of course, look on the bright side. TEC has a SC in place!

Think they'll pass the no evangelism resolution at this convention or just issue blanket apologies?


Anonymous said...

Lay down with dogs, get up with fleas.

Anonymous said...

Jackie and Juana,
You clearly do not know what RE is all about. Your comments are hurtful to those who remain loyal to TEC in the D of SJ. I wish you peace...

Anonymous said...

My comments are not meant to be hurtful but to reflect the truth. Unless Remain Episcopal intends to turn the tide on ECUSA abandonment of the Christian faith, then they will by their inaction be a member of the social club known as ECUSA. If it were not the case, don't you think Ed Bacon would have at least had a rap on the wrist for declaring that Jesus died not for our sins but because of them? Do you really think Bruno has received a call reprimanding him for apologizing for those who sought to bring the Gospel to others? As long as Jesus is just one vehicle to the divine, you step outside the realm of Christianity. Unfortunately, there is too much of this. My prayer is that those who call themselves Remain Episcopal will take a stand. Be the beginnings of a group that works to turn the tide in ECUSA and brings it back to a place where the Gospel is once again preached.

Anonymous said...

I was interested in what "young fogey" said: "The church is in the truth business and is not a debating society. Catholic truth is a non-negotiable . . ." Goodness, let's review a bit of history here. All Catholic truth of an ancient sort was established in councils in which the bishops argued vociferously and even violently and the losers were often exiled to barren Greek islands. Later on another council could decide things differently. It is always tempting to harken back to the halcyon days of undisputed Catholic truth but it just wasn't always so.

Ecgbert said...

Remember the legend of St Nicholas punching out Arius at Nic├Ža? Or the gruesome end Arius came to?

Councils were called when the church was confronted with a heresy (a wrong teachign with a substantial following) to refute and the process of reception is murky. That said once something is defined and/or is simply held by the sensus fidelium you can't contradict it at least in an infallible church governed by that rule of law (a difference between Catholics and Protestants). 'The Lord sware and will not repent' (Psalm 110).

It's not all relative, which is what I think you're trying to get at, Canon. The Mormons try to play that game calling themselves pre-Nicene Christians.

The ancients on either side of an issue (such as Christology: homoousios or homoiousios (one substance or like substance)?) had no illusions about 'pluriform truth' either and didn't pretend to.

In the Catholic view trying to change teaching on sex or deny the apostolic ministry/historic episcopate (as in the Episcopalians' interim intercommunion with the Methodists, as devastating to Anglo-Catholicism in TEC as the Controversial Issues™ making the headlines but it's not about sex so most people aren't interested) go in the same dustbin as the Robber Council of Ephesus.

Anonymous said...

You're not an Anglican priest. There's no such thing, unless you're visiting the USA from somewhere else (and you'd probably call yourself C of E, but I digress.) Are you paid by an "Anglican" church? No. Are you going to get a pension for an "Anglican" retirement fund? No.

You're an Episcopal priest, heaven help us all. Your sneering disdain for the source of your earthly sustenance is troubling, to say the least.

And like your former boss, you strike me as a big, flaming, nelly, closet case.

Anonymous said...

anonymous at 6:18 p.m.
Such language! Does your mother know you talk like that? You condemn your brother for seeking refuge from the false teaching of ECUSA and infer you do not feel it is right that they should partake of monetary means which legally belongs to them? You then make accusations against another based on your "feelings?" Please spare us.

If you feel the words are worthy of print, do us the honor, kind sir, of owning them.

mousestalker said...

Back when I was at Sewanee, I used to say a prayer: "Please God, preserve the Episcopal Church from embarrassment by its bishops." I still say that prayer. I have thought for decades now that it could only help if it were made part of the liturgies for all services.

I think I need to add a prayer about having those with whom I am in agreement refraining from inserting their feet into their mouths. I'm prone to doing it myself, and heaven knows our opposition is equally pedally talented. But the sorts of intemperate remarks that have been posted in the presence of very little actual information seem a bit over the top.

Anonymous said...

Gee Thanks Jackie for setting me straight! You have a nice day now. Peace to you...

Jake said...

...ECUSA abandonment of the Christian faith...

...seeking refuge from the false teaching of ECUSA...


Either you don't get out much, or you have no problem with spreading lies about your Christian brothers and sisters in the Episcopal Church.

I'd recommend you reconsider your judgmental language, before you hurt your personal integrity even further.

Jake said...


Out of respect for you, I'm now going to bow out of this discussion. Forgive me if I've added more heat to this thread.


Anonymous said...

If, however, you are looking for a "healthy church," I'd recommend you seek one that still preaches, teaches and believes the Gospel.

...all of which can be neatly and completely summed up in the very essence of Gospel Truth: "No Pooftas!"


Anonymous said...

Jake, It is clear you have decided to defend the actions of the Episcopal Church. I cannot. I believe to do so places a stumbling block in the path of brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no condemnation of individuals in what I have written but in actions. If you or Leslie have inferred such, I will gladly offer my apology. But I cannot withdraw the condemnation of the all-too-many, brightly shining actions of the Episcopal Church that have tilted her off her axis. May God who was and is and will always be intervene and let His Will be done for that is surely the desire of us all.


Anonymous said...

RE: "I deeply resent your remarks concerning Remain Eopiscopal. This is where the faithful have gathered. . . . Your comments are hurtful to those who remain loyal to TEC in the D of SJ."

Right -- faithful to their gospel.

What is really intriguing in all of this is that there are numerous conservatives, it seems, who will remain in TEC who [drum roll] are not in "Remain Episcopal." Those who wish to remain "loyal to TEC" in that diocese are NOT all in "Remain Episcopal."

But wait! I thought that Remain Episcopal was most definitely not a raving revisionist organization! They kept saying that, at least. I thought that it was for all those who wish to "Remain Episcopal".

Guess the truth is out there now. "Remain Episcopal" is for all the revisionists out there. And then there are the conservatives who are also in the Episcopal diocese of San Joaquin. Should be interesting times in that diocese.

Anonymous said...

RE: "I'd recommend you reconsider your judgmental language, before you hurt your personal integrity even further."

On another note, I can't imagine Jackie losing much sleep over the idea that Jake's conception of "integrity" won't apply to her!

Consider it a definite compliment, Jackie. If Jake thought you a person of integrity, I'd be might suspicious of your character.


Anonymous said...

Rhetoric! Rhetoric! Rhetoric! How it continues to interfere with the work we have been given. Go now and find someone who needs the reconcilliation offered by Jesus Christ and do your work. Stop the incessant talking about things that really don't matter in the ministry of Jesus. Just let the Forgiveness and acceptance given you by the savior be offered to another who desparately needs it, and move away from the poisonour and constant rhetoric. Amen

Anonymous said...

Dear GOM,
I tend to agree with you. There are so many things out there that we could be putting our energies toward, but staying quiet and trying to get along lost me my church. I now have to travel over 50 miles to attnd an Episcopal Church. It is a very difficult time for faithful Episcopalians in the D of SJ.
Peace to you...

Anonymous said...

GOM - Do you think the work we have been given to do includes bringing the Good News of the Gospel to the non-christians? Do you think it means bringing spiritual milk to the babes in Christ? Do you think it means providing for sound teaching? Do you think it means preaching Jesus as The Way, The Truth and the Life? If no, then I am not certain what work of Jesus you mean for when we do these things Christ works in the heart of the disciples to be His hands and feet. Yes, let us love one another. Let us proclaim the Good News through preaching of the Gospel - not the New York Times.

Anonymous said...

Personally I prefer a church that is more democratic in it's governance. I'm sadden by the dimissal but I'm not aquainted with the canons of the Southern Cone.

As for the banter about who owns the true Christianity, I can only think what would Jesus think?
There is so much that binds us together but it seems so many can only find what separates us.

I for one still believe we can co-exist and need to as I believe
Christ would want us to.

That said I'm sure some of you would feel this isn't possible but I'd hope you'd refrain from owning the right Christianity. Let God be the judge.

Peace, Bob

Anonymous said...

After reading through these comments I am struck by the amount of anger in some of the comments. I hurt for the people of the Diocese of San J as I hurt for all of us involved in this issue. I am also reminded of the hymn, "In Christ there is no east or west, In him no South or North, But one great fellowship of love Throughout the whole wide eath." Surely Christ has called us to love one another - not to fight over who loves him best or in the best way.

Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)

alexander mcqueen heels said...

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