Saturday, March 15, 2008

Canonical Kerfuffle

'Twas the week before Holy Week
And all through the church
Not a copier was cranking:
Not even a lurch.

The palms that were meant
To be folded with care
Had not yet arrived
There was panic in the air ...

OK ... I could go on but that'll give those of you who live and move and have their being in the trenches of parish ministry a window into what my week has been like. And yes, I know Jesus told us not to be anxious about earthly things but at this point I figure that was easy for him to say ... he didn't have to pull off 24 services between 7am Palm Sunday and 1pm Easter Day.

THAT being said, here's a quick update on the latest episode of "As the Episcopal World Turns" ... subtitled: Canonical Kerfuffle:

Fr. Jake has the most thorough overview of the backs-and-forths of the last day or so on this one but the "long story short" is that The Living Church published an article suggesting that there might not have been a sufficient number of bishops present at Camp Allen to make the vote to depose +Schofield and +Cox count.
Episcopal News Service [ENS] countered with this article, which included the following clarification from Chancellor David Booth Beers:

"In consultation with the House of Bishops' parliamentarian prior to the vote," Beers said, "we both agreed that the canon meant a majority of all those present and entitled to vote, because it is clear from the canon that the vote had to be taken at a meeting, unlike the situation where you poll the whole House of Bishops by mail. Therefore, it is our position that the vote was in order."

And Fr. Jake offered this summation:

The Presiding Bishop presents that matter to the Bishops at a meeting. If the Bishops entitled to vote give consent, the Bishop is deposed. The wording suggests that it is a majority of Bishops at that meeting entitled to vote that is required. Otherwise, the terminology "All the Members" would have been included, as it was in the previous section.The wording of that canon certainly needs to be cleaned up. That is quite clear.

So the debate seems to hang on one of those "it depends on what the meaning of 'is' is" arguments ... and the folks over at titusonenine and Stand Firm have a whole lot more time on their hands than I do the week-before-Holy Week to spend making those arguments.
Even a cursory glance at the feeding frenzy over there (and all I had time for was a VERY cursory glance) leads me to ask: What happend to last week's argument that it didn't matter whether Schofield was deposed by our TEC House of Bishops because he'd "resigned" anyway?
If they want to keep picking away at this point I guess they should party on ... but if anybody has that much extra time on their hands and wants to do something PRODUCTIVE I've got some palms that need folding into crosses and a prayer vigil going for the healing of our copy machine we could use your help with!


Jim of L-Town said...

Dear Rev. Russell:

I agree this is a bit of yawner, but in defense of those being defensive let us not forget the "letter-of-the-law" interpretation of the canons that required a complete revote of the consents for Bp. Mark Lawrence.
Again I guess it depends on whose ox is being gored. But with the decision a forgone conclusion, it matters little in the end.
It does seem a little odd that on such a momentous vote there wouldn't have been more clarity, or discussion of the specific procedure.
I followed your link to Fr. Jake and even he seems to indicate there is a little problem with the wording.
Since both sides are destined for some serious secular court time it might be smart to stick strictly to the spirit and letter.

But I'm also off to make palms....

A sinner saved by God's Grace

Jim of Michigan

Jim said...

Both bishops have by their own lights, moved to other jurisdictions or as I might prefer, joined schismatic organizations. Which leads to the question of why they care? One may only speculate of course, but I offer some possibilities:

1) Try as they might they cannot ignore the reality that they received their orders from this church.

2) They are as am I, fairly sure that Canterbury will see the depositions as definitive for purposes of Lambeth among other things.

3) They know that the majority of provinces will honor the depositions. That is simply saying the schism is already a failure in its primary intent -- appropriating the North American churches.

4) The self styled orthodox have an obsessive need to see themselves as victims. Instructive here is reading some of the toxic blog stuff about how in reality Lambeth will be dominated by lesbian / gay leaders. This is almost funny given the mistreatment of +Robinson, but they at least profess to believe it.


Rudo said...

Some of the things I miss from my growing up in Africa is waving a full palm as we sing many hymns in procession from a bit of a distance from the church and a good Friday 12-3mp focused on the seven last words of Jesus. The churches or towns I have lived in since coming to the US do not have such traditions. But on the whole, I feel at home worshiping in the Episcopal church.

Rudo said...

Sorry I forgot to sign my name to my ealier posting.

Caminante said...

As far as life in the rectory during Holy Week... why, on the day before Palm Sunday, should parish clergy receive a letter from the chair of the diocesan audit committee cheerfully reminding them that their parish audit is due September 1st? Couldn't that urgent piece of news been able to wait until, say, April 1st?! No fooling.

Good luck with the copier. Lay healing hands on it.

Ann said...

Mark Harris clears it all up - at Preludium here.

RonF said...

What, you fold your palms into crosses before the service? What do the parishioners have to do during the sermon, then?

On Palm Sunday the priest and choir and the rest don't process. We pass out the palms by having the entire congregation process by the servers and take them. Usually we then process out the front door, around the parking lot and then back in, but it was too cold today so we walked around the inside of the church. Then we sat there up in the choir loft and tried to remember how to fold the palms into crosses instead of indulging our usual pastime of sotto voce heckling the sermon.

After the service, a bunch of us took all the kids downstairs and had them all making crosses. Good fun!