Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Let me count the ways ..." last week's WSJ violated the Ninth Commandment

Thanks to for these fun-facts-to-know-and-tell ... helpful for those trying to keep the record straight (so to speak.) And speakig of "the record" ... just for the record, Mollie Hemingway, we've checked and the Ninth Commandment is still there. The false witness one. You're welcome.

Talking points related to an opinion piece on

October 13th, 2011 In reference to an opinion piece titled “Twenty-first Century Excommunication” by Mollie Hemmingway and posted to on October 7, 2011, please note the following:

◦The author’s information and assertions are dated. The author’s reference in the opening paragraph to the church in Binghamton, New York is almost four years old. Much has happened, including a Lambeth Conference and a General Convention. The Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York has addressed and dealt with the issues raised in this article.

◦Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori did not make any of the statements that the author claims she made in the article.

◦The author of the article stated that, “Of the 38 provinces in the global Anglican Communion, 22 have declared themselves in “broken” or “impaired” fellowship with the more liberal American church.” As recently as Monday, October 10, Lambeth Palace confirmed that there is no basis for this claim by the author.

◦The budget of The Episcopal Church and the correct numbers for expenses are available to the public on the website

◦Membership in the Anglican Church of North America includes churches and denominations that have disassociated from the Episcopal Church both recently and over the last 130 years, as well as congregations which have never been part of the Episcopal Church. ACNA is not a member of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

◦The Episcopal Church maintains very good relationships with many of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion, as evidenced through our many diocesan companion relationships. Many Primates and Provincial Secretaries have been and continue to be guests at the Church Center in New York City and at various gatherings, including the General Convention 2009 and meetings of the House of Bishops.

◦Dioceses are created by the General Convention and cannot be dissolved without action of the General Convention in accordance with the provisions of the Episcopal Church’s constitution and canons. Parishes, likewise, are created by a local diocese and continue within that structure unless dissolved pursuant to the canons of the diocese.

◦The Episcopal Church welcomes all people – men and women, gay and lesbian persons – in ministry and in church leadership positions, as children of God and followers of Jesus Christ. The Episcopal Church has actively responded to the calls of two Lambeth Conferences to engage in study and discussion of these matters. Actions related to the election and consecration of two openly gay bishops have been taken at the local level of the Episcopal Church, with prayer and seriousness.

◦The continuing Episcopal Dioceses of San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Quincy and Fort Worth are growing in mission and ministry.

◦Those who have remained in the Episcopal Church in those places where some have left include conservatives as well as liberals, persons on the political right as well as on the political left, and everything in between.

◦It is inaccurate and misleading to suggest that those who have broken away from the Episcopal Church are the persecuted faithful, when in reality those who have remained have felt deeply hurt, and now in some cases are exiled from their own church buildings by the Anglican Church of North America.

◦Episcopal Church property was given by those who came before for the benefit of those yet to come. When members of a congregation choose to leave the Episcopal Church, the courts have repeatedly decided that those departing members may not take the church building with them.


Henry Greville said...

The history of the Episcopal Church on America's shores did not begin, Susan, with the sudden materialization of General Convention, nor even with the first dioceses. All along the Eastern seaboard, lay people served by priests who had been ordained by English and/or Scottish bishops incorporated the first parishes, which in turn, according to secular law, acquired their own land parcels and erected their own houses for worship according to the rites and rubrics in the Book of Common Prayer at the time.
Therefore from the perspective of many lifelong Episcopalians who are familiar with American history, dioceses are created by voluntary associations of parishes that collectively - and again voluntarily - support bishops.


Kind of like how colonies formed and gathered before the sudden materialization of the Federal Government turned us into a nation?

As a lifelong Episcopalian -- with my undergrad degree in American history -- I seem to recall those same kinds of secessionist arguments were used to explain why it was OK to take some of the states out of the union in the 1860's. Didn't work then. Doesn't work now.

If you want to become a different kind of church ... without General Conventions, Presiding Bishops and the muddiness of living with the tension of differences by all means go start one where you "voluntarily suppport" your bishop. (Seriously????)

But do leave the silver, linens and prayerbooks behind on your way out, won't you?

Thanks ever so.

Henry Greville said...

I have no interest in any secession from the Episcopal Church or moving away from the tension of differences. The fact remains, though, that my bishop knows perfectly well that his salary, and the salaries of the diocesan staff, are paid only because of good faith special fund-raising efforts of parishes like mine to come up with the requested diocesan assessments. My experience is simply that authoritarian actions of the Presiding Bishop and Executive Council and unrepresentative canonical innovations by General Convention for the last 30+ years are precisely what keeps so many lay people who might actually pledge from being willing to support the operating budgets of the diocese and General Convention.

Joe said...


You miss the point.

In General Convention, DIOCESES are represented, not individuals. Each DIOCESE has one vote.

In the US Congress, each state does not get one vote. Rather there are 438 votes, with majority rule. Thus, the federal government is completely different from General Convention.

I too am a lifelong Episcopalian.

I commend to your reading Mark McCalls excellent paper in the Episcopal Journal of Canon Law, starting on page 191.

swac said...


You can rest easy the "anglicans" are praying for the Episcopal church. I wonder what they think about Luke 18:11
The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector.

dr.primrose said...

For what it's worth, Mark McCall is an attorney who has for some time made these arguments on behalf various factions within the Episcopal Church who give the appearance of wanting to leave the church along with the property. Like all attorney arguments, it represents one side and can hardly be considered neutral. There are a number of people who obviously diagree with his claims. As one example of a view expressly disagreeing with his point of view, you should look at Joan Gunderson's article A Response to Mark McCall’s “Is The Episcopal Church Hierarchical?”. Dr. Gunderson believes that Mr. McCall's viewpoint seriously mistates the historical record.

MarkBrunson said...


What "Henry" and "Joe" describe here sounds a lot like Baptists. Maybe they'd be happier there.

Lifelong Episcopalian? Not yet!