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.
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.
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.