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« Can Christianity Be Credible If Scripture Isn't Supreme? (Yes) | Main | Let's Agree to Disagree, and Get Back to Work »

December 14, 2003

Comments

Judy Amonett

(Posted by DCT at Judy Amonett's request)

D.C.:

Thank you for the e-mail. I have a procedure question. Is it typical for the vestry to vote and then have an issue presented to the parish as a whole for its input? My major concern is this seems rushed. Discussing such an issue 3 days before Christmas seems odd; the parish focus should be on the celebration of the Lord's birth, not on a divisive issue like joining an arm of the Episcopal church about which most of us know little.

I doubt I am unique in not having time to attend a meeting much less study the issue with the care it deserves. However, if I am not out of town Monday with my grandchildren, I will be at the meeting to voice my concerns. I need the time to give this the same prayful concern I gave my financial pledge.

I think it is an understatement to call this a major issue. At some point the parish as a whole needs an opportunity to ask questions and give input. Perhaps instead of voting on Monday the Vestry could structure a series of question/answer sessions.

Thank you for your leadership at SJD.

Judy Amonett

Ann Cochran

D.C., thanks for alerting us to this. I found two additional disturbing things on the Council's website. First, note the link for parishes to get legal help. Secondly, look on the list of affiliated parishes and you'll find SJD is already there!!! Outrageous, especially when the Council's rules seem to require that the entire parish vote on whether or not to become affiliated with AAC.

Thanks for all your thoughtful comments on this site. Mark me down as unalterably opposed to this craziness. I'm sadly to the point -- after 27 years -- of having to start looking for a new Episcopalian church to call home if this doesn't stop soon.

Ann Cochran

DCT

Thanks for that information, Ann; I hadn't known this.

For other readers, here's a link to the AAC Web page listing SJD as a affiliated parish.

--D. C.

DCT

UPDATE on whether SJD has already joined the AAC: Our senior warden, Bill Rucker, looked into this and received an email from the AAC saying that SJD was listed in error.

--D. C.

Anonymous

(Posted by DCT by request of an anonymous parishioner)

The bottomline for me is that I would transfer my membership and money to another church if SJD joins the AAC. We might keep going to SJD but our affiliation wouldn't stay there.

Tres Cochran

SJD Vestry:

I understand that the Vestry is scheduled to vote on a proposal that SJD affiliate with the American Anglican Council (“AAC”). I do not believe that this proposal is in the best interest of SJD or its mission and urge you to vote against it.

AAC has not exhibited a pattern of honesty in the pursuit of its mission. Recently AAC reported that 13 dioceses had joined as members. After the names of these dioceses were published in the New York Times, many of the dioceses in question stated that they had never joined AAC, and AAC acknowledged that it had incorrectly named many of these dioceses as members. In addition, AAC’s website lists SJD as a member despite the fact that SJD has notified AAC that it is not a member. AAC acknowledges that it has known for several months that its list of member parishes is not accurate, yet it continues to list SJD as a member. These types of misleading and deceptive practices are not appropriate for a religious organization or any other organization for that matter, and do not reflect the values of SJD. We should not lend our good name or support to an organization that does not debate the issues honestly and accurately.

Many of the parishes and dioceses that are members of AAC have not accepted the position of the Episcopal Church on the ordination of women. AAC does not accept the position of the Episcopal Church on the ordination of women. If the AAC is successful in creating an alternative to the Episcopal Church in the USA, will women be full participants in the ministry of that organization? We should not affiliate with an organization of ultra conservative parishes and dioceses without a clear understanding of its position on women in the ministry.

SJD should devote its energy to spreading the love of God to as many people as possible and not to fighting with other Christians. Over the past year the leadership of SJD has devoted more energy to its fight against same sex relationships and the Episcopal Church than to any other issue. This represents misplaced priorities. Nowhere in the Gospels is it reported that Jesus ever spoke on the issue of same sex relationships. Although it is not clear from the Gospels whether Jesus regarded same sex relationships between loving, committed adults as wrong, it is clear that he did not give the issue any priority since he never spoke of it. Our priorities should follow Jesus’ priorities. Our energies should not be directed at fighting with other Christians, but toward spreading the love of God.

Even the Anglican Communion has not determined the theological implications of the decision of the Episcopal Church to ordain as a bishop a priest who is in a loving, committed same sex relationship or the decision of the Diocese of New Westminster (the Canadian branch of the Anglican Church) to authorize services for use in connection with same sex unions. At the direction of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, these issues are currently the subject of a study being conducted by a Commission created by the Archbishop of Canterbury. We should not take divisive actions based on these decisions when the theological implications of the decisions are not clear.

It would be wrong for the leadership of SJD to use the resources and authority of SJD to support an organization whose clear purpose is to create a schism in the Episcopal Church. Membership in AAC is open to individuals. Individuals at SJD who support its work should join it on their own, but the resources and authority of SJD should not be used to encourage a schism in the Episcopal Church.

Joining AAC and aggressively fighting the Episcopal Church will not enable SJD to grow as it needs to do if it is going to succeed in its primary mission of Changing Lives for God in Christ. SJD has lost members already because of misguided positions that we have taken in the past. If the leadership of SJD persists in an aggressive stance against the Episcopal Church, Ann and I will be forced with great sadness to consider a new Episcopal home. We were married at SJD; our son was baptized at SJD; and he received his Christian education at SJD. We have relationships with clergy and laity at SJD that we value greatly. We have been active in the ministries of SJD and supported its work for over 27 years. During that time we have been assured that despite differences that SJD may have with the leadership of the Episcopal Church, SJD would remain within the Episcopal Church. If the leadership of SJD is leading the Parish away from the Episcopal Church, we would consider it a breach of faith and would be forced to look elsewhere for an Episcopal home.

I know that it is difficult to oppose our rector whom we all love and know to be a loving Christian. The proposal for SJD to join AAC, however, is not in the best interest of SJD. If the rector supports AAC, he can join it. If members of the Vestry support AAC, they can join it. It would be wrong, however, for the leadership of SJD to commit SJD to an organization that publishes false and misleading information to accomplish its objectives, that is not clear about its position on women in the ministry, that furthers the misalignment of SJD’s priorities, and whose purpose is to advance a schism in the Episcopal Church.

Thank you for your service to the Church. Our prayers will be with you.

Yours in Christ,

Tres Cochran

(Posted by DCT at Tres's request)

Jim Greenwood

Dear Larry:

Sunday’s Messiah was magnificent. “And He shall reign for ever and ever.”

Given that eternal Truth may I implore you, please, not to rush to lead St. John the Divine into the separation-bent American Anglican Council (AAC) just three days before Christmas. Why hurry?

Please give Bishop Wimberly and the Diocese of Texas time for some healthy dialogue, within the diocese, between our and other dioceses, and with the National Episcopal Church leadership.

Prayer and patience are called for, I suggest, and the opportunity for all to consider less extreme, less “final” and more conciliatory options than the separation from ECUSA posed by AAC and some Asian and African primates, as the “only” option.

You know that I respect your sincere belief that ECUSA’s recent actions (approval of Robinson consecration and permitting blessing of same sex “unions”) are wrong according to scripture and church tradition. You may be right OR the significant majority of U.S. Episcopal bishops and 2003 General Convention delegates who took the action for our Episcopal Church may be right—their belief was also sincere and based on their understanding of scripture, church tradition and reason. It was their thoughtful response to what they perceived to have been God's call to the church at this time.

I am not suggesting that anything will change your mind about the ECUSA action. Perhaps over time, however, wisdom borne of prayer, study, dialogue, consultation, and additional revelation in the months ahead, will provide a more enlightened, less final, perhaps even conciliatory, response than separation from the U.S. Episcopal majority.

Why not wait awhile and see what actually happens in the Episcopal Church as a result of these actions? Joining AAC right now seems like a preemptive act of secession (from ECUSA), perhaps undermining or even usurping the authority of the Diocese of Texas, of which we have been a committed member since our founding 65 years ago. Wouldn’t such independent action by SJD potentially compromise our bishop and diocesan leadership’s ability to explore alternatives that might be preferable to secession or “realignment” as advocated by AAC? Such action (joining the AAC separatist movement) now might even serve to exclude us from such responsible alternatives if any can be devised?

I have been blessed by and ministered to at St. John the Divine for some 60 years. I have served here as an acolyte, Sunday school student and teacher, associate vestry and vestry member, stewardship worker, Stephen Minister, lay reader, lay eucharistic minister and Outreach Committee member. I was confirmed (1948) and married (1958) here. Our five children and oldest grandson were baptized and confirmed and raised here. St. John the Divine is as much a part of me as my heart, lungs, and mind—and I believe that I am part of St. John the Divine.

It saddens me to consider that it (SJD) may choose, by joining AAC at this time, to play a leading role in promoting what can only be called a schism in the Episcopal Church. I pray that if we choose not to lead in trying to find a way to hold ECUSA together, we at least delay joining forces with those (AAC) who would rend it asunder. Please wait at least until those within the diocese and parish who do have the heart to work for unity have had some time to give it a try. I respectfully suggest a delay (in joining AAC if that is indeed your “best” response to this situation) of no less than 9 months unless Bishop Wimberly or the Diocese of Texas takes or calls for similar action sooner.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours prayerfully in Christ,

Jim Greenwood

(Posted by DCT at Jim's request)

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