Friday, October 30, 2009

Updating Petition Nominee Linder+

Since my last post, the search committee has updated nominee Philip Linder's information to include the answers that he provided to the search committee before he withdrew from the process.
I am still trying to find time to review those pages.

In addition, questions have arisen regarding one part of his C.V. where he stated that "Trinity gives 25% of her budget to outreach." No, I am not questioning the use of the gender specific, "her" to refer to Trinity Cathedral because that might draw me back into the "Divine Feminine" argument again. I am just left wondering about those numbers. In our parish, 25% of our budget going to outreach would necessitate spending $125,000 out our $500,000 total, whereas the budget calls for just $8,000 for mission and outreach. So how can Trinity Cathedral spend 25%, or $711,325 for mission and outreach out of her budget of $2,845,300?

This is where I kick myself for not taking that creative accounting class in college.

Dubious, I went to the Cathedral's web pages and found a budget statement from February, 2009 attached to their vestry minutes (scroll to the bottom 25% of .pdf file). On page 3 of the budget you should find the "Analysis of Revenues and Expenses." This shows $145,275 budgeted for "Total Outreach" which calculates to 5.1% of the total budget. This leaves $566,050 of some other budget items that would have to be re-considered to be part of outreach in order to bring us up to my earlier calculated total of $711,325. So I tried to be creative and took the "Education and Christian Formation" line and added the "Basketball" line, the "Music" line, and "Pastoral Care" line, together, and was able to come up with an additional $93,736. I am still far short, so I added in "Diocesan Support" which brings me up to $594,242 which is close enough to allow me to drop the "Basketball" and "Pastoral Care."

If I can just submit my request to the rev. Linder for an additional 25% of time, I just might get finished reading his answers to the search committee's questions.

Oh well, we are electing a bishop and not an accountant.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Comparing the Nominees 2: The Three to Watch

As I start this next post, I am considering Rob Eaton+'s suggestion about questions for the nominees during the walkabouts, but that is fodder for a post of its own.

Currently, I am faced with the difficult problem of differentiating between the next three. John Burwell+, Neal Michell+, and Stockton Williams+. They all appear to be theologically conservative based on their responses to the question of how to handle a rector who asks to perform a same sex blessing, and this distinguishes them from the others. All three are from outside the diocese (as is our current bishop +Henderson).

In alphabetical order:

1. John Burwell+

Things I liked:

a. His 2 minute video: He is comfortable in front of the camera and microphone which his background in broadcasting may have given him an edge.

b. A solid record of church growth. Rather than battle the ever changing links, I will give you the link to the research pages of the Episcopal church. Church attendance has more than doubled over the past 10 years, and this is a remarkable phenomenon that a wise diocese would want to study.

c. He mentions the "E" word.
"My vision would not be primarily about evangelism, outreach, pastoral care or missionary work – it would be about developing the parishes and missions within the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina so that they would be more effective at evangelism, outreach, pastoral care and missionary work."


d. He has roots in Rock Hill.

e. Audio sermons are available.

f. Windsor compliant.


Potential Downsides:

a. He is currently in the Diocese of South Carolina which might alarm "liberal" clergy and delegates. I have heard mutterings of prejudice against "that diocese," and I shall have to keep my ears alert to any questions at the walkabouts pertaining to his votes on resolutions of the diocese.

b. His video style has caused at least one liberal to whisper in my ear, "We might become Baptists."

c. I don't yet have typed sermons which I can review much quicker than the audios.


2. Neal Michell+

Things I liked:

a. Experience with conflict resolution.

b. Willingness to study the Anglican Covenant and issues of sexuality with clergy.

c. Includes the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches amongst our ecumenical partners.

d. Has served his time as Canon of the Ordinary.

e. Has been nominated before.

f. Windsor compliant.


Potential Downsides:

a. A sermon library for review. I found a "Recent Sermons" page from St. Luke's in Dallas that had some older sermons, but has not been updated for 2 years, and I could not get the sermons to pop up.

b. Since he is serving as Canon of the Ordinary, he does not have a current "growth and development" curve to study.

c. I need to know how the diocese under his leadership will respond to innovations in the resolutions of the General Convention of the Episcopal church.

d. Proposes to let the clergy review with their congregations the discussions of sexuality and the Anglican Covenant. Certain parishes will not get a fair discussion, and certain clergy may not be up to the task.

e. Has to become better known.


3. Stockton Williams:

What I liked:

a. Sense of humor. This is apparent in his video.

b. His faith story struck me as the most intimate.

c. In his faith story, he uses the "J" word.

d. "High energy." Sounds eager to spread the Good News.

e. Helped "found the Communion Partner Rectors."

f. Has been in a bishop search process before.

g. Windsor compliant, supports the Anaheim Statement (which +Henderson signed)


Potential Downsides:

a. Parish growth chart through 2008 needs explaining.

b. Sense of humor may come off as less than "Your Grace" like.

c. I hear he is better in person, and many will not get a personal look at him.

d. Who ever heard of Kerrville, Texas? (This from someone who lives in Rock Hill, SC)

e. I don't have a good sermon library to review.



I am finding myself looking closer at their potential to turn around a diocese that appears to be in decline. I have expressed earlier that we in Upper South Carolina cannot continue on with business as usual and hope to spread the Good News of Christ crucified and resurrected to the unchurched. It is from these three that I am looking for leadership into a new way of "being church."

Unfortunately, many in Upper South Carolina are blissfully uninformed of the state of the church. They have been fed the "All is Well" line for way too long. How will these people react to an "outsider" who might shake things up, who might bring in conservative clergy, and who might not do things the way we are used to doing?

In my previous post, I mentioned some things that interest me: church growth, and winning souls for Christ. This is where I have to use a hot-button term, "evangelism." When I say the word evangelism, I mean to keep it simple: spreading the Gospel message. This should be a simple task, yet our own failed "Decade of Evangelism" in this diocese is sufficient evidence that we are doing it wrong, if we are doing it at all. Of course, the blissfully uniformed pewsitters might be perfectly content with punching the clock each Sunday, and might become alarmed by changes in what they perceive to be "their church." Indeed, I myself have a penchant for a "high church" style, and will be the first to complain about tambourines and guitars, but Evangelism "done right" should lead to the other two things, winning souls, and growth.

These three men give me hope. Now to choose between them...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Comparing the Upper South Carolina Bishop Nominees 1: The Reappraiser/Revisionist Question




In comparing the six nominees presented thus far, I believe that I need to first provide a definition (my own version).

Reappraiser: An individual who interprets scripture to fit a particular (usually novel and non-traditional) goal (usually social or political). This interpretation of scripture includes the freedom to ignore, or to consider unreliable or of historical interest only, those passages that might weaken their arguments. Also referred to as "Liberal."

Close kin is the "Revisionist" which according to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary comes from "revisionism:"
"1 : a movement in revolutionary Marxian socialism favoring an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary spirit
2 : advocacy of revision (as of a doctrine or policy or in historical analysis)"


Some consider the term "revisionist" to be derogatory, true revisionists consider it to be an honor, "Heroes of the Revolution" in their realm.

Their method of Biblical interpretation is the fundamental problem with the Episcopal church today. It allows for a re-writing of scripture to suit whatever cultural change is in the wind. I believe it was former Bishop Bennison who said something to the effect of, "the church wrote the Bible and could therefore re-write it." (I quoted David Virtue's article.) Ultimately this leads to a weakening of doctrine, and a weakening of the Body of Christ.

It is my belief that those who support the ordination of openly gay, divorced men and their elevation to bishop can only get there by the reappraiser/revisionist method.

Likewise, those who would support the Church creating a liturgy for the blessing of same sex sexual relationships can only get there by the reappraiser/revisionist method.

This is not to say that reappraisers/revisionists are bad people, but they do make bad bishops.

I refer to p 517 of the 1979 BCP and the examination of the candidate:
The Examination

"All now sit, except the bishop-elect, who stands facing the bishops. The Presiding Bishop addresses the bishop-elect

My brother, the people have chosen you and have affirmed their trust in you by acclaiming your election. A bishop in God's holy Church is called to be one with the apostles in proclaiming Christ's resurrection and interpreting the Gospel, and to testify to Christ's sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings.

You are called to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church; to celebrate and to provide for the administration of the sacraments of the New Covenant; to ordain priests and deacons and to join in ordaining bishops; and to be in all things a faithful pastor and wholesome example for the entire flock of Christ.

With your fellow bishops you will share in the leadership of the Church throughout the world. Your heritage is the faith of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and those of every generation who have looked to God in hope. Your joy will be to follow him who came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Are you persuaded that God has called you to the office of bishop?"

You will immediately notice that we have a problem when a reappraiser Presiding Bishop presumes to examine the reappraising candidate with these words. The reappraiser has broken from the teachings of the Apostles and their interpretation of the Gospels. The reappraiser has broken free from the heritage of the patriarchs, prophets, Apostles, and blessed martyrs. The reappraiser, having advanced into modernity, can look at those ancients as relics of history, and he can pick and choose from them as he pleases.

So comparisons should be made as to whether or not a candidate is a reappraiser.

After studying the nominees on this blog last week (scroll through the older posts if you missed them), it is clear to me that the following men clearly fall in the reappraiser camp.

Reappraiser 1. W. Andrew Waldo+ Trinity Episcopal Church Excelsior, Minnesota
He lands on this list by virtue of his statement that his "old friend and mentor" is Bishop Gene Robinson, and his sermon that was quoted in my previous post in which he said:
"I would say that we need to 'read, mark, learn and inwardly digest' scripture well and often enough to know the difference between biblical texts that convey essential, enduring truths, and biblical texts that are decidedly rooted in and have deep meaning only for a culture that is no longer in existence. In other words, some scripture texts are more important than others. Hardly anyone would, for example, suggest that the Song of Solomon is as important as Genesis or that Paul’s Letter to Philemon is as important as any of the four Gospels."
Likewise his responses to the question of same sex blessings:
"The answer here must follow from what I’ve said above: that because our Church is not of one mind on this issue we cannot act unilaterally, and I would not therefore sanction such blessings in the Diocese until we have, through General Convention, reached a decision. Even if/when that time comes, I believe that a priest and the congregation he or she serves should have the pastoral freedom to address such changes constructively over time."

No mention of scripture. He has thrown that out in typical reappraiser style and instead of referring back to what should be his guide, he will do what the infinitely wise General Convention decides.

His acceptance of communion of the unbaptized at his parish is an indicator of his acceptance of the revisionism of tradition.

Reappraiser 2. Philip Linder+ Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Columbia, South Carolina
Without a doubt Linder has succumbed to the reappraisers siren song. As my earlier post comments, he supports the ordination of openly homosexual persons in defiance of all tradition and scripture. In addition to his having "had a hand in crafting the controversial resolution D025," we saw earlier in 2006 in an article he wrote in "The State" newspaper,
"What is at stake here is the very soul of the Episcopal Church and Anglicanism. Our Anglican theology and heritage has held for centuries against radical liberalism or radical conservatism, maintaining that God’s truth is to be ultimately found in the tension of those extremes, and not in the extremes themselves. Today, human sexuality has become the front where those seeking to undermine Anglican identity for their definition of truth are waging the battle.

The extreme conservatives claim it is about biblical truth and homosexuality. Yet is it not also
about the role and place of women in the church? How have these same conservatives reconciled biblical literalism with passages on divorce, tithing and working against the unity of Christ’s church?

On the other side, the extreme liberals keep pushing the envelope of human sexuality further. It is now not just about gays and lesbians, it is also about bisexuals and transgender persons. Are they asking the church to argue that God creates people as bisexuals as well as of the incorrect sex?

True Anglicanism holds to the authority of scripture, tradition and reason."

I think he believes he is a moderate, but his actions at GC 2009 put him squarely in the "radical liberal" camp.

Reappraiser 3. David F.O. Thompson+ St. Bartholomew's Church North Augusta, South Carolina.
I believe he is also a reappraiser, on the basis of his responses to the search committee regarding same sex blessings:
"...we in Upper SC should follow"
...the lead of the General Convention.
" ...With regard to sexual orientation my personal opinion is this. Based upon my understanding of scientific and psychological evidence and upon personal experience, I do not believe that anyone chooses his/her sexuality. I believe that eventually a same gender blessing will be passed by the General Convention and that the Diocese will have to deal with this reality..."

This response was crafted to try to hide his liberal views but exposes an indecisiveness by deferring to the uncannily brilliant GC of TEC.


Bottom line:
None of these three nominees are suitable to be a bishop based on the reappraiser/revisionist question.

The problem is, that people will see them as "nice" men, and not see the potential for harm from their unsure foundation.

As a result of their reappraiser status, they would take our church away from the traditional understanding of what the Bible advises us to look for in a leader of the church, and away from traditional understanding of marriage. They may sound like they mean well, but their leadership, or lack thereof, will invariably cause our diocesse to walk apart from Biblical truths and the rest of the Anglican Communion. None of these nominees are compatible with our profile as a diocese, where the overwhelming majority of people favor compliance with the Windsor process.

My next question is whether or not I should waste any more ink on them. I was wanting to delve into questions of evangelism, church growth, and winning souls for Christ, but I do not think these three nominees are capable of doing anything other than continuing the current ways of "being church" that have led to the decline of the Episcopal church in Upper South Carolina, Minnesota, and the United States.

I should probably move on to the more qualified candidates: Burwell+, Michell+, and Williams+.

Whatcha think?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Le Serment Pour Dimanche. 25 Octobre



Today at ECOOS we hosted Fr. Fritz LaFontant along with daughter Marie Flore Chipps and Bossuet Sainvilus all from Haiti. Fr. LaFontnat delivered the sermon in French which was translated as he proceeded to discuss the Gospel story of the healing of Bartimaeus, the blind man outside of Jericho. (Mark 10:46-52)

It was fun to listen to the Gospel in French although that could distract people from Fr. LaFontant's method. He stayed within the confines of the message of the lesson and did not wander. We heard of faith and of Jesus' power. A rare treat for us.

In speaking with him, he and his group are always eager to invite people to come to Cange and learn more about their mission and find out where they can contribute. Currently they are working to upgrade their water supply and sanitation, but there are countless other needs there and in the surrounding villages.

Visit Partners in Health for information on this and other opportunities.

_________________(Original Church in Cange)____________

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Getting to Know the Write in Nominees I: Philip Linder

This one is beyond belief. Candidate #6 is a candidate by petition. Within seven days of the announcement of the final slate of nominees for the next bishop of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, we get this:



Philip Linder was a nominee up until about a month ago when he dropped out. You know, before those tough face to face interviews and video shoots. Now that those are past, he jumps back in! This is very suspicious in my mind and demands explanation. Because the petition was processed so quickly, I sense a set up.

Since every other candidate treated us to their faith story, read Philip Linder's explanation for dropping out since we are dealing with limited resources at the moment. This was what he wrote to his parish, from here:

An Open Letter from the Dean

Dear People of Trinity,

For many months now, I have struggled with discerning where God is calling me at this point of ten years into my ministry as Dean of Trinity Cathedral, and twenty four years as a priest of The Episcopal Church. This has been prompted by my nomination for Bishop of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina and my reaching the status of a final candidate. God has been relentless in his unwillingness to let go of my heart and soul, and I have sought to be faithful in my attentive listening and discipline of prayer to discover God’s will through his Son, Jesus Christ. A trusted friend recently gave me a prayer written by the great 20th century priest and theologian, Thomas Merton, entitled “The Prayer of Abandonment”. A part of that prayer reads as follows, “And the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe the desire to love as Christ loved does. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope I will never do anything apart from that desire.” The question that has emerged as the ultimate litmus test has been, “Where can I be most effective in changing lives for Jesus Christ and serving God’s people and the Church?
We are at a critical moment in the history of our beloved Trinity. During our time together in ministry we have been blessed with significant growth in membership to more than 4,200 members. Together in 2001 we dreamed of the Trinity Center for Mission & Ministry, a place for Christian formation classes, youth ministry, and basketball; those doors opened in 2006. We did not know that God’s plan would be first for us to worship in the center’s Averyt Hall, while we went about the great task of restoring our cathedral, discovered to be in imminent danger of structural collapse. Within the scope of both of these projects the generosity of Trinity members and benefactors has pledged more than $13 million to the glory of God. Now with more than fifty percent of the work completed, we are already stunned by the beauty of our cathedral under historic restoration. And as if we were not spinning enough construction plates, through the great generosity of Harriet and Neel Keenan, Keenan Chapel has now been beautifully renovated in loving memory of Walter Keenan, beloved husband, father, and devoted member of Trinity.
Today the staff, vestry, and laity of Trinity are worshiping, working, and serving Christ at a level that I have never before witnessed. The new Strategic Plan for Trinity, outlining the vision, goals, and objectives for our church for the next five to ten years, is presently a working document serving as a compass to direct and hold us accountable as we seek to fulfill God’s will for Christ’s mission and ministry. This plan addresses every key aspect of our church’s ministry including: pastoral care, local and international outreach, preaching, Christian education, children and youth, facilities, and staffing. And under-girding all is our corporate dynamic worship, the center of our life in Jesus Christ, now a model for liturgy and music throughout the Episcopal Church and Anglican world.
I will be ever grateful to my wife of 27 years, Ellen, for embracing this discernment process with me—we have always understood the call of God to be to us both. I am also thankful for the outstanding leadership of Kirby Shealy, Senior Warden, and Mary Belser, Junior Warden, for fully embracing this discernment with me in a confidential, dedicated, and loving manner. There are also several other confidants whose wisdom, guidance, and friendship during this discernment I will be ever thankful for and cherish.
During this spiritual journey, I have prayed daily these 16th century words of St. Ignatius Loyola, “Take Lord, all my liberty. Receive my memory, my understanding and my whole will. Whatever I have and possess thou hast given to me; to thee I restore it wholly, and to thy will I utterly surrender it for thy direction. Give me the love of thee only, with thy grace, and I am rich enough; nor ask I anything beside.” This journey has led me full circle back to Trinity Cathedral, where I believe God, and I pray all of you, desire for me to continue to serve as your priest and dean. On Saturday evening, October 3, prior to my final interview with the Bishop’s Search Committee in Charlotte, I formally withdrew my name from consideration. I have only once desired to be a bishop, and that was a long time ago. I stayed in the search process this long because I was still unclear of what God desired. The Bishop’s Search Committee for our diocese has been faithful in this process as they too seek God’s will. What I believe is paramount for each of us is to do God’s will as best we know it, and love as Christ loves.
I am very excited about this next period of our life together, especially as we prepare to re-enter our beloved Trinity Cathedral sometime in 2010, and then in 2012 to celebrate our bicentennial. Together we have accomplished much through God’s grace, and together we will take this cathedral and community of faith to a level of worship, faith, and ministry in Jesus’ Name unimagined. My prayer to Almighty God is one of immense gratitude for each of you, this church, and the call to serve as your and dean. And I pray as well that you will fully commit anew with me to the mission and ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, remembering that through Christ and in Christ all things are possible for our future.
May God bless each of you.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
The Very Reverend Dr. Philip C. Linder,


Okay, if he won't play fair, it is time for me to take the gloves off. The nerve of him making me put together one more blog post...Arrrggghh...

Here is the decline in ASA at Trinity Cathedral during his ten years as dean. How come he sports a membership of 4500, but only 750-800 (my estimate) show up? Don't blame it on renovations, we heard that excuse here at ECOOS, and guess what, after the renovations were done, more people stayed away. If you preach it, they will fill a football stadium. Oh for an undergroundpewster reporting from every liberal parish.

(UPDATE: 10/29/2009, his Q+A were posted at the bishop search site. So initially...)We only get a crummy C.V. to look at instead of the Q+A that the other candidates have posted. (UPDATE: I will have to prepare a separate post on his Q+A.)
I don't see much in the way of diocesan positions, and how come he left out that little bit about being chair of the Upper SC deputation at the nefarious 2009 General Convention of the Episcopal church? Oh, I forgot, that was a love fest. Can't have anyone learn about that.

Fear not, I saw hints that we were being set up for this candidacy 2 months ago, and I posted a critique of a bizzare propaganda piece in "Crosswalk" the newspaper of EDUSC. I entitled it "Doublecrosswalk or Will it Play in Pew-oria."
"Both Bishop Henderson and deputation chair the Very Rev. Dr. Philip Linder, dean of Trinity Cathedral..."

(I was a little worried that this Linder chap was getting more ink than the Bishop).
"...both...had a hand in crafting the controversial resolution D025, 'Commitment and Witness to Anglican Communion,' offered as a successor to B033, which, in 2006, urged restraint in consenting to the consecration of bishops whose 'manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church.'"

(This was news. Linder and +Henderson were partly responsible for D025! I did't think that this is something for Upper South Carolinians to be boasting about.)
"Linder...participated in the intense and time consuming work of developing a single resolution...from a group of 13 resolves submitted in response to B033."

(In the accompanying photo of a pensive Philip Linder, I could almost feel the intensity of the moment.)

When reading the next section, keep in mind that the average uninformed pew sitter still has no clue as to the language of D025 or how the rest of the Anglican Communion has reacted to its passage.
"The resolution...endorsed by Linder and others from the floor, affirms the openness of the ordination process in the Episcopal Church..."

(And I thought the spin was that it meant the discernment process was open to all.)
"The resolution...reaffirms the Church's abiding commitment ...to the fellowship of churches that constitute the Anglican Communion."
This is an outrageous attempt at spin. IMHO the resolution affirms the church's commitment to walking away from the fellowship of the churches.


Oh yeah, this is just the type of guy to bring people together under one tent.

I remain very, very suspicious, and deeply troubled by this candidate.

Making me work overtime too...grrrr...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Getting to Know the Nominees V: Jerre Stockton Williams Jr.


Introduction: I have been approaching my exploration of the candidates first by looking at each separately based on what I can turn up using simple web searches, and then moving on to the Faith stories, management styles, the responses to the question on SSBs (note that of all the candidates, Stockton Williams appears to have been the only one who submitted responses after the actions of GenCon 2009 and the passage of CO56-the resolution that said that bishops, "particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church." ), and finally I shall look at their stated possible first steps to be taken if elected.

I have proceeded in alphabetical order, and I have not been ranking the nominees, but I admit at this point I am getting a little punchy from checking these guys out. Next week, I hope to come out with a summary and rate them on whether they are reappraiser or not, my likes/dislikes, or pros/cons or anything else that comes to mind. As I finish this the fifth in a daily series (a departure from my favorite pace of biweekly blogging), I have learned that I may have at least one write in nominee to blog about, and I am not happy with having that extra work load.

The Psalm for Thursday Oct. 22, 2009 was Ps 37, and my focus was drawn to,
"Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
Do not fret—it leads only to evil."

Thankfully, after studying his bio, the candidate for today has calmed my anger over having to do a sixth post about a write-in candidate.

Onward then...

Fifth up is Stockton Williams.

Learn more about his parish, St. Peters in Kerrville, Texas at their home page.

There we see that he was a Religion major at Amherst, law school at U.T., Law Clerk to a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, then practiced law and "specialized in business litigation and appellate work."

Now that might come in handy! Doesn't that make two lawyers in this election? As I noted earlier, wasn't +Dorsey Henderson a lawyer as well? Later, in his faith story, Stockton Williams will comment about his call from the legal profession.

Lets see...Virginia Theological Seminary graduated with honors, May 1986.

Having never attended a seminary myself, I can't say anything about VTS in 1986, but I am sure some sharp eyed reader can.

Let's take a look at his answers to the search committee:

Part A - Faith Story:

I will quote his words.
"...in May of my senior year in High School, I had a profound experience of God’s grace through Jesus Christ and his Spirit. One night I was reading the Sermon on the Mount (some sort of Sunday School assignment), and it suddenly hit me: this is all about motives and I am so far away from where God wants me to be. I mostly did the right things outwardly, but it was always for my reasons: my good grades, my popularity, my achievement, my being in good standing with teachers, my, my, my. Although I did not think of it this way at the time, I was a Pharisee.

I was immediately convicted by the gap between who God wants me to be and who I am."

Points for honesty, but will it woo the voters?
"Somehow through Christ’s Spirit I was led right into Paul’s Letter to the Romans, and everything clicked. Suddenly I knew, not just intellectually but deep in my heart, that I was not so lovable in God’s eyes, but he loved me nonetheless, and even died on the cross for me."

Emphasis added because I missed the "not" the first time through, and I would "not" want anyone else to repeat my mistake.
Later in his story, he relates his call (not posted here for the sake of space), and then how his call was shaped,
"One night I was forcing myself to pray Evening Prayer, just out of a sense of duty, and suddenly some words from Canticle 9, The First Song of Isaiah, were just shy of audible and spoken in the first person:

'Make my deeds known among the peoples; see that they remember that my name is exalted.'

God spoke to me, though I cannot swear that you would have heard anything had you been in the room. Instantly, I knew the 'shape' of my call, told Leslie, and she made a stole for me with those words on it. I still wear that stole a lot. And at every church I have served, I have told the congregation that they can always “call me” on that calling. In other words, if they perceive that I am losing sight of that calling, or drifting away from it through all sorts of other busy-ness, they may always tell me and pull me back toward it.
That is why God called me from serving as a lawyer to serving as a priest. That is what I try to do in every place that I have served. God still needs Christian lawyers, but my personal mission is: Make God’s deeds known among the people; see that they remember that his name is exalted!"(emphasis was present in the original)
Part B - Discuss your management style including conflict resolution:
"The phrase that my current Associate Rector most often uses to describe my leadership/management style is “high energy.” He and his predecessors would also tell you that I do not have a controlling leadership style, but encourage associates to take initiative."

I do have some actual data about this answer because in April, 2005, I attended the national church program, CREDO. My associate clergy and lay leaders (from two parishes) filled out evaluations of me, concluding with anonymous comments. Perhaps my biggest personal surprise in the evaluations was that they rated me higher on the areas of “visioning,” “managing change,” and “managing conflict,” than I rated myself. Not a surprise was that they collectively rated my three highest areas as “preaching,” “teaching,” and “pastoral care.”

I guess that data can be double checked by speaking with his associate clergy and lay leaders. Sounds like a job for the mysterious Deep Pew.

Part C - How would you counsel a rector who was asked to bless a same gender relationship and how would you lead us beyond our divisions?

This is where the rubber meets the road, or at least has appeared to have been the question that, in my mind, has created some separation between the nominees. Remember that Stockton Williams' answer is the first that appears to have come in after GC2009.
"I am convinced that the best way forward out of our divisions is a two-fold focus on doing mission and ministry (including worship!), and supporting the Windsor/covenant process. I have demonstrated that conviction by helping found the Communion Partner Rectors, which are in support of our Communion Partner Bishops and Primates. We all stand transparently for working within the Episcopal Church, and also for supporting the Windsor process. That process has included observing three moratoria: two the 'left' does not like (no same-gender blessings and no bishops in active same-gender relationships) and one the 'right' doesn’t like (no bishops crossing diocesan boundaries).
I also favor the development of an Anglican covenant. To that end, I signed the Communion Partner Rector statement following General Convention that is in support of the bishops’ Anaheim Statement, dissenting from the General Convention vote."
Recall that +Dorsey Henderson signed the Anaheim Statement.
"Unfortunately, the recent General Convention decided to follow no longer the first two moratoria. Granted, no same-gender blessings were expressly authorized, but the Convention did vote to collect and develop liturgies for same-gender blessings, with a view toward approving them (or some of them) at a later date. Nevertheless, it is clear that even after General Convention 2009, same-gender blessings are not authorized in the Episcopal Church and so I would tell the local Rector to refrain from doing so.
Of course, that begs the question of what I would do had General Convention clearly authorized same-gender blessings and my answer would still be the same. The Anglican Communion is clear about its stand refusing same sex blessings in church. I am convinced that the three moratoria serve the benevolent purpose of giving us space for healing, and for the difficult theological work of studying and listening together, as the worldwide Anglican Communion, toward deeper understanding. All four 'instruments of communion' have asked that we follow the moratoria."
Do we as a diocese support the Windsor process? From our profile it appears that we do.
"Our refraining from same-gender blessings in church does not mean that we consider the persons requesting the blessing not children of God, nor does it mean they do not have the fullness of God’s love. The Rector should make certain the couple is welcomed in the parish and provide Christian love and support.
As we focus together on what Jesus calls us to do in terms of worship, ministry and mission, we can work together and realize that the Jesus that unites us as a Diocese is much greater than specific issues that may divide us. Your own Diocesan Profile notes, p. 31, that although there is disagreement over these issues regarding sexuality, 'we are primarily concerned with building up the Body of Christ.'AMEN!"

I am sorry but my mind wandered a bit to think of what we as a diocese have accomplished in that regard. Shame on us if we have not built up the body in strength and numbers.

I have to reiterate my last four posts where I referenced our profile as a diocese:
15. Our current Bishop and the diocese, in
convention, have affirmed that we are a
Windsor Diocese. In that light, I believe our
next bishop should be supportive of the
Windsor Report and the ongoing Windsor
process.

48 % Strongly Agree
20 % Somewhat Agree
26 % No Opinion
4 % Somewhat Disagree
2 % Strongly Disagree


16. I support the blessing of civil unions (as
opposed to marriage) between gay and lesbian
persons in the Episcopal Church.

26 % Strongly Agree
19 % Somewhat Agree
8 % No Opinion
10 % Somewhat Disagree
37 % Strongly Disagree


21. I support the marriage of gay and lesbian
persons in the Episcopal Church.

17 % Strongly Agree
11 % Somewhat Agree
7 % No Opinion
12 % Somewhat Disagree
53 % Strongly Disagree


Part D - Some of the first steps I would take to get started.

"Listen, Listen, Listen. Then listen some more."

I agree, and I think he does not mean "the Listening Process."
"...The point is that although I have my views and visions of what a place can be, I never start out with my views and visions all worked out. I always encourage the vision-casting to come from all the leaders, and, to an extent, from the parish (and in this case, the Diocese) at large."

In conclusion, he sums it up for us (the emphasis is his),
"My mission as ordained leadership in the church is to make God’s deeds known among the people; see that they remember that his name is exalted. That will be key to my task from day one in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina."


Again, does he fit our profile? How about Q 30 I asked you to consider in the last four posts?

30. I would like our next bishop to be a strong
preacher / orator, fully committed to evangelism
and outreach to the unchurched.

46 % Strongly Agree
39 % Somewhat Agree
9 % No Opinion
6 % Somewhat Disagree

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Getting to Know the Nominees IV: W. Andrew Waldo


Introduction: I am approaching my exploration of the candidates first by looking at each separately based on what I can turn up using simple web searches, and then moving on to the Faith stories, management styles, the responses to the question on SSBs (all were submitted prior to GenCon 2009 and the passage of CO56-the resolution that said that bishops, "particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church." ), and finally I shall look at their stated possible first steps to be taken if elected. I shall proceed in alphabetical order, and at this stage I am not ranking the nominees.

Fourth up is Andrew Waldo of Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior Minnesota.

Learn more about Trinity Excelsior at their home page.

Here is their participation and giving chart. Again, a parish about the size of ours in Rock Hill.

Old sermons curiously do not appear to be accessible from the home page, but I was able to dig out an old link using a different search engine and find sermons from 2003-2007, with the interesting note,
"FYI - Since June 2006, most of Andrew Waldo's sermons have been from notes, so PDFs are only occasionally available. We hope in the near future to offer MP3 files of sermons."


I know that sermons without notes tend to stray...

The available sermons will take a while to go through, and during that time I shall be wondering why they were so hard to find.

I did have time to read a sermon from 01/30/05 entitled "Humility" (I picked that one because I thought I needed an extra dose of humility before writing this post) that had some interesting things, and you will have to read an extensive quote (emphasis added):
"Within only two weeks, one of the books I picked up for myself has both fed and challenged me—a nourishment and challenge that I’ve already brought into discussions in the playfully-named 'Lost Husbands Formation Committee' and into the Education for Ministry, or EFM, study groups. My favorite Old Testament scholar, Walter Brueggemann, wrote it, entitling his work, The Book That Breathes New Life: Scriptural Authority and Biblical Theology. It is a timely book for a world and a time in which the nature of biblical authority is very much at issue.
In it are 13 essays by Brueggemann that delve deeply into questions about scriptural authority that are affecting our politics and our personal lives: Is the Bible a God-written book, to be taken literally? Is it a literal instruction book for life? Or is it merely a collection of ancient writings, about ancient people filled with wisdom, but not necessarily making deep, mandatory claims on how we live our lives? —Or is the nature of biblical authority somewhere in between?
These questions matter profoundly. And I plan to offer further occasions for more of us to discern and discuss with more precision the ways in which the Bible is authoritative for us personally and as a community. It matters so much because we call ourselves Christians, people of the Book, people who follow the Christ of whom we read in the Holy Bible.
Finally, how we as individuals and communities define the authority of scripture affects how we believe and act on the current Social Security debate, how we respond to poverty, the war in Iraq, questions around gay marriage, and within the church, how we view the ordination of my old friend and mentor, Bishop Gene Robinson. It affects the way we raise our children and the way we conduct our lives in the work place. And just in this morning’s newspaper, there is an Op-Ed piece by Bill Moyers that frighteningly details the relationship between one view of biblical authority and the environment. — How we understand biblical authority literally affects everything we do and say, whether we’re willing to admit it or not. That the authority of scripture so obviously relates to all these issues makes one truly wonder how anyone could suggest that church and politics are oil and water, never to be mixed. The only way, I think, would be in pretending they don’t by ducking in order to avoid conflict and difficult debate. Separation of church and state was never a doctrine intended to silence the churches, even if it rightly refuses to promote religion through government.
I am not however going to get into politics and scripture today, except possibly through a back door challenge to you, regardless of your political persuasion. And I want to make this challenge with reference to today’s texts, but without dealing directly with the messages they proclaim. First, I would say that we need to 'read, mark, learn and inwardly digest' scripture well and often enough to know the difference between biblical texts that convey essential, enduring truths, and biblical texts that are decidedly rooted in and have deep meaning only for a culture that is no longer in existence. In other words, some scripture texts are more important than others. Hardly anyone would, for example, suggest that the Song of Solomon is as important as Genesis or that Paul’s Letter to Philemon is as important as any of the four Gospels.
Second, each of us needs to do the hard, honest, and probing work of discerning why one text is authoritative for us and another is not.
For example, do I lean toward biblical texts that give clear direction and rules for life because when I was I child my family life was marked by chaos or inconsistencies bred in environments of alcoholism, abuse, tragedy or neglect? Or do I confer authority upon biblical texts that speak to me of God’s love and mercy, God’s preference for the poor and oppressed, because I have experienced oppression in my life?
When we do do that inner work, we need then to be willing to lay it out on the table, and to be honest about what prejudices we bring to the discussion. Too often we instead turn our way of seeing things into an ideology we think everyone else should sign on to. Brueggemann defines ideology as “the self deceiving practice of taking a part for the whole, of taking ‘my truth’ for the truth, of running truth through a prism of the particular and palming off the particular as a universal.'
When finally we get past our own personal ideologies, we can take biblical texts such as those we have heard today, texts that have served countless generations of faithful persons as authoritative and see them with a new eye, a new heart, and a new desire for action.
— Today’s biblical texts by themselves contain enough material for 50 sermons and for years of personal reflection. They will challenge any ideology that seeks to arrogate power unto itself. But they do not do so by lording a similar power over us, a power that feeds on our fears and anxieties. No, if there is just one thing that must be said about these particular texts from the heart of our tradition, texts that so many have turned to for so long as expressions of God’s own heart and Jesus’ primary message to humanity, it is this: When it comes to life in community—that is, when it comes to politics, when it comes to economics, when it comes to morality—have humility about your truth."


Have humility about your truth. Hmmm...I think that has very special meaning for a bishop. I do not believe that I have seen that in the Rev. Waldo's "old friend and mentor."

I guess this is what passes off as being a moderate in Minnesota.

Let's take a look at his answers to the search committee:

Part A - Faith Story:

He honestly tells of his anti-Christian early years, and about his divorce he says,
"An unwanted, soul-crushing separation and divorce from my first wife at the tender age of twenty-five assured me that I was not as in control of my life as I thought."

I'm sorry, but this is the first time in this process that I have been stopped in my tracks. I hear,
1 Timothy 3:1-7
This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.



Part B - Discuss your management style including conflict
resolution:

Not a whole lot there to comment on except his choice of BBQ at

"a fund-raising event for Habitat for Humanity. Though
organizers first looked to me to take charge of the overall planning and organization, I instead worked with other rectors and wardens to identify the right people within their congregations for the right jobs to make the event successful. My own job was ultimately to cook the pork, organize the pullers, and make the sauce (Alabama style—I do understand that this could be controversial in South Carolina…)"


Part C - How would you counsel a rector who was asked to bless a same gender relationship and how would you lead us beyond our divisions?
He starts out by commenting on same sex relationships,
"I don’t know how the Church will ultimately articulate—in liturgy or in canon law—the status of same-gender relationships without some division."

Sounds like he might be okay with schism.
"We have not however performed any same-gender blessings at Trinity Church because neither the vestry nor the larger parish community has come to one mind."

And what about the rest of the Church, what about the Anglican Communion? I guess it all boils down to the discretion of the rector, vestry and "larger parish community." What about the bishop? I guess in Minnesota they don't have to worry about that!
"The guiding principle for such dialogue at Trinity has long been that 'It is more important for us to stand or kneel together as brothers and sisters around a common table receiving the Body and Blood of Christ than it is to be ‘right’ on a matter of doctrine.'”

That tells us where he stands on doctrine. I can almost use this reasoning to justify any heresy as long as I show up for Sunday service.
"My approach as bishop would continue to follow this pattern—not permitting blessings until the Church has come to one mind..."

Here we go again. Does he mean General Convention's one mind, or does he mean his "diocesean community," he can't mean the Anglican Communion. I don't think that enters into his thinking at all. He certainly does not speak with scriptural backing.

Now we get to the nitty gritty,

Counseling a rector who’s been asked to bless a same-gender relationship
"The answer here must follow from what I’ve said above: that because our Church is not of one mind on this issue we cannot act unilaterally, and I would not therefore sanction such blessings in the Diocese until we have, through General Convention, reached a decision. Even if/when that time comes, I believe that a priest and the congregation he or she serves should have the pastoral freedom to address such changes constructively over time."

We cannot act unilaterally!? Is that not what the Episcopal Church at General Convention 2009 did? Didn't the Archbishop of Canterbury himself ask that convention not to do the very things that they resolved to do? The Rev. Waldo had to have known what GC 2009 was intending to do when he posted this response. Ask him at the walk-abouts if he, as bishop, will give the "generous pastoral response" to his clergy to do what ever they want. I would be willing to bet that he would not permit clergy to refuse to perform a SSB in their parish once GC approves liturgies which could be in 2012 or 2015.

I have to reiterate my last three posts where I referenced our profile as a diocese:
15. Our current Bishop and the diocese, in
convention, have affirmed that we are a
Windsor Diocese. In that light, I believe our
next bishop should be supportive of the
Windsor Report and the ongoing Windsor
process.

48 % Strongly Agree
20 % Somewhat Agree
26 % No Opinion
4 % Somewhat Disagree
2 % Strongly Disagree


16. I support the blessing of civil unions (as
opposed to marriage) between gay and lesbian
persons in the Episcopal Church.

26 % Strongly Agree
19 % Somewhat Agree
8 % No Opinion
10 % Somewhat Disagree
37 % Strongly Disagree


21. I support the marriage of gay and lesbian
persons in the Episcopal Church.

17 % Strongly Agree
11 % Somewhat Agree
7 % No Opinion
12 % Somewhat Disagree
53 % Strongly Disagree


I am sorry, but IMHO Waldo fails the Windsor test.

Part D - Some of the first steps I would take to get started.
A couple of things he wrote caught my eye:
"I would begin in two key directions: galvanizing the staff in retreat so that we can become a team and by making as many opportunities around the diocese as possible to hear your story and for you to come to know me."

"Retreat" is a good word to use here.
"I would want to eat, pray and worship with you, and begin learning your names. Indeed, learning names is among the most important first tasks I can imagine."

Can you learn "Undergroundpewster?"
"And, should I be elected, I fervently pray that some good
(South Carolina) barbecue will come my way as I learn those names."

Does anybody want mustard based, tomato based, or vinegar based at the bishop pickin? Pulled or ribs?

Again, does he fit our profile? How about Q 30 I asked you to consider in the last 2 posts?

30. I would like our next bishop to be a strong
preacher / orator, fully committed to evangelism
and outreach to the unchurched.

46 % Strongly Agree
39 % Somewhat Agree
9 % No Opinion
6 % Somewhat Disagree


Again, I am sorry, but I do not see how such a man can reach out to the unchurched. I don't see any evangelism here. His way of "being church" is the reason the Episcopal church is dying. Lord protect us.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Getting to Know the Nominees III: David Thompson


Introduction: I am approaching my exploration of the candidates first by looking at each separately based on what I can turn up using simple web searches, and then moving on to the Faith stories, management styles, the responses to the question on SSBs (all were submitted prior to GenCon 2009 and the passage of CO56-the resolution that said that bishops, "particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church." ), and finally I shall look at their stated possible first steps to be taken if elected. I shall proceed in alphabetical order, and at this stage I am not ranking the nominees.

Third up is David Thompson.

Learn more about St. Bartholomew's at their home page.

There, you will find a tab labeled "Sermons." These are conveniently filed by date, title, speaker, and they opened up in Windows Media Player right away on my machine. There is one titled "General Convention," hmmm....I couldn't resist listening, here is an interesting sound bite from his Sermon from 07-27-09, Minute 6:12
"...we need to be impressed by the church's desire to be a democracy in which the Holy Spirit works through the vote."

I am not real sure about that.

Here is their participation and giving chart. Not too different from our parish in Rock Hill except perhaps a higher attendance/membership ratio.

Let's take a look at his answers to the search committee:

Part A - Faith Story:

At this point I shall quote some of his response:
"...attended seminary in New York City at General."

(The General Theological Seminary)
"General was a stimulating environment in which I was exposed to a rich urban environment as well as a deeply disturbing community experience. I say disturbing because all my stereotypes of a harmonious, loving seminary where smashed within the first month. I encountered halftruths, age prejudice, faculty factions, not to mention rabid discussions about gender and sexuality."

I wonder, does that mean he did not care for those rabid discussions? How does a bishop manage those discussions once they start?
"Clinical Pastor Education was a blessed relief because it encouraged deeper honesty within the group and within me. My worship, intellectual, and spiritual life was formed at seminary. Despite my frustrations, it was a learning place encouraging spiritual growth and mental maturity.
Following seven years of ministry, I returned to seminary to earn a STM and found that experience to be one of my most rewarding. It allowed for time to reflect upon ministry in an academic setting and fostered an even deeper spiritual awareness. As I worked upon my thesis which was about racism in the 19th Century Episcopal Church, I had a spiritual renewal that lives with me today."

STM is, I think, School of Theology and Ministry.
"The best thing that can be said about my spiritual life is that I am a Trinitarian who strives to grow in faith."

Part B - Discuss your management style including conflict resolution:

At this point I shall quote some of his response:
"The highest level of accountability and involvement is to be
expected of the staff and the leadership."

I found the next part on conflict resolution interesting and I saw some parallels with the "listening process."
"I would approach a vestry/ rector conflict with these things in mind:
1. Initial understanding. How do the rector and vestry describe the problem? Do they describe it in the same way? How do they agree and differ? Is it a conflict between the vestry and congregation, congregation and rector, or vestry/congregation and rector?
2. Pray. I would pray about the situation and for the people.
3. Gather information. What is the history of the congregation, what has it accomplished in the past, and what does it hope to accomplish in the future? What is experience of the rector?
4. Establish a level of trust with both the rector and the vestry. The bishop's influence in helping to resolve the dispute will not occur if there isn't trust. I would not make hasty judgments, comments, or commitments.
5. Attend the meeting with an open heart and mind. Listen to the people and ask them to carefully state what is happening without rancor and accusations expressing both facts and feelings. Continue to establish trust.
6. Attempt to have the group, not me, resolve their differences. True resolution of conflict has to come from the people who are in the midst of the conflict. A resolution cannot be forced upon them.
7. If the conflict is not settled at this meeting but there is progress, I would ask them, depending upon the amount of progress achieved, to either continue working on the issues themselves or to return and complete the work.
8. An outside consultant may need to be considered. Also, there are times in which the conflict may not be resolved and then discussions about how to terminate the relationship must take place."

Part C - How would you counsel a rector who was asked to bless a same gender relationship and how would you lead us beyond our divisions?

Again, I will quote much of his response, but I have typed one part in bold print:
"This would be my position. I would advise the rector not to go forward with the blessing because it has not been approved by the General Convention or endorsed by the Diocesan Executive Council. Whether I agree or disagree with the actions of General Convention, I believe it would be my responsibility to live under the guidelines established by this body. If the rector went forward with the blessing, I would consult with the Standing Committee and other leaders as to the best way in which to respond to the action. I would remind the clergy and communicants that we are called to live in community and that our actions do affect one another..."

I think that he is saying that resolutions at the General Convention of the Episcopal church are of great importance, and we in Upper SC should follow their lead.
"...With regard to sexual orientation my personal opinion is this. Based upon my understanding of scientific and psychological evidence and upon personal experience, I do not believe that anyone chooses his/her sexuality. I believe that eventually a same gender blessing will be passed by the General Convention and that the Diocese will have to deal with this reality. If this were to occur, I would consult with the leadership of the Diocese and do what is best for all concerned."

And what about scripture?

I have to reiterate my last two posts where I referenced our profile as a diocese:
15. Our current Bishop and the diocese, in
convention, have affirmed that we are a
Windsor Diocese. In that light, I believe our
next bishop should be supportive of the
Windsor Report and the ongoing Windsor
process.

48 % Strongly Agree
20 % Somewhat Agree
26 % No Opinion
4 % Somewhat Disagree
2 % Strongly Disagree


16. I support the blessing of civil unions (as
opposed to marriage) between gay and lesbian
persons in the Episcopal Church.

26 % Strongly Agree
19 % Somewhat Agree
8 % No Opinion
10 % Somewhat Disagree
37 % Strongly Disagree


21. I support the marriage of gay and lesbian
persons in the Episcopal Church.

17 % Strongly Agree
11 % Somewhat Agree
7 % No Opinion
12 % Somewhat Disagree
53 % Strongly Disagree


Part D - Some of the first steps I would take to get started.
A couple of things he wrote caught my eye:
"Taking into consideration the report generated by the diocesan Committee on Property
and Insurance entitled "Clergy and Lay Employee Compensation Study," implement
some of the suggestions such as authorizing a task force to study the viability of the congregations. Do some need to be closed? How will the diocese strengthen the others?"

What does this mean for our smallest congregations?
"Be in contact with ecumenical consultants who understand the trends affecting the Christian church in America and lay the foundation for the church of the future."

I am puzzled by that one.

Finally, towards the end of the Q+A we see that he served on our Upper South Carolina Delegation to GC 2009, I wonder how he voted on those controversial resolutions?


Again, does he fit our profile? How about Q 30 I asked you to consider in the last 2 posts?

30. I would like our next bishop to be a strong
preacher / orator, fully committed to evangelism
and outreach to the unchurched.

46 % Strongly Agree
39 % Somewhat Agree
9 % No Opinion
6 % Somewhat Disagree

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Getting to Know the Nominees II: Neal Michell+


Introduction: I am approaching my exploration of the candidates first by looking at each separately based on what I can turn up using simple web searches, and then moving on to the Faith stories, management styles, the responses to the question on SSBs (all were submitted prior to GenCon 2009 and the passage of DO56-the resolution that said that bishops, "particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church." ), and finally I shall look at their stated possible first steps to be taken if elected. I shall proceed in alphabetical order, and at this stage I am not ranking the nominees.

Second up is Neal Michell.

Learn more about the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas.

He runs a web site, Missional Church Net so go sniff around there.

A search led to his answers to questions from an earlier bishop suffragan search for Texas.

Also we find a couple of books, one, "How to Hit the Ground Running." in which he writes,
“Our call to be good stewards of our facilities goes beyond material issues of preservation and safety. To be a good steward of ones’ church facilities is to be a good evangelist, because if we are to draw the unchurched into the fellowship of the church, we must give attention to the role that the condition of our facilities plays in terms of drawing them in or turning them away…..if the church cannot be trusted to take care of its physical facilities, how can they be entrusted with the care of people’s souls?”

and "Beyond Business as Usual: Vestry Leadership Development."

Let's take a look at his answers to the search committee:

Part A - Faith Story:

From Texas, first a lawyer, went to Sewanee for seminary, then a priest, a father, and learned about congregational development during the course of his ministries. I think +Dorsey Henderson was a lawyer once upon a time.

Part B - Discuss your management style including conflict resolution:

At this point I shall quote some of his response:
"My management style is based on the biblical model of a community of disciples. That is the model that Jesus used to form disciples. He formed them as a community before he sent them out to do ministry. Corollaries to this 'community of disciples' model are the values of being a learning community, visional, historically aware, accountable, and celebration."

He made a couple of good points,
"Change that is tied to the vision of the diocese and will more readily be accepted. Change not rooted in the vision becomes simply one person’s idea and is up for majority vote. (Read Chapter 5 in How to Hit the Ground Running.)

All are held accountable, for attendance, for prayer, for healthy relationships and active involvement. Without accountability, those who are actively involved will eventually lose interest; and those who are not fully involved will end up simply 'voicing their opinions' in the group rather than working collaboratively together."


He notes his work as Canon to the Ordinary which put him in the thick of things controversial (note he was sent to be interim rector to two parishes whose rectors departed T.E.C.).

Part C - How would you counsel a rector who was asked to bless a same gender relationship and how would you lead us beyond our divisions?

Again, I will quote most of his response:
"First, I would counsel the priest that the Church does not authorize the blessing of same sex unions. We are part of a larger family, not just of The Episcopal Church but of the Anglican Communion and a part of the larger Church catholic. As an Episcopal diocese we are committed to the apostolic faith and to apostolic order. Our commitment to apostolic faith means that we are not really free on our own to do such things as the blessing of same sex unions. Those are not the norms of the Anglican Communion, nor are they permitted among the churches of our ecumenical partners, namely the Roman Catholic churches and the Orthodox churches. Our commitment to apostolic order requires that we not move forward on such things without the theological and the biblical exegetical work done by us in cooperation with our ecumenical partners. That is what the General Convention in 1992 committed to, and we are not free to innovate in such areas on our own."

I think he had a good case there until he added that last bit about GC 1992 because we now understand what GC 2009 "moved on" to permit.

He continues,
"Second I would counsel the priest to find a way to pray for this couple and in such a way that they feel loved by the priest and the surrounding community. This may take a lot of time and pastoral care. Just because the church cannot bless the union doesn’t mean that the priest cannot provide pastoral care for these two individuals.
"Third, I would ask this priest not to make this a public issue for the sake of the diocese. I would say that we as a diocese have so many more missional concerns that an issue such as this would sidetrack the diocese and create unhealthy division in the diocese. We need time as a diocese to get focused on mission. So, for the sake of the body of Christ in this place I am asking this priest not to make this an issue which will divide the congregation and the diocese."

In law, I think that is called a "gag" order.
"Fourth, I would lead us forward by focusing us on the vision of the diocese. I would hold a series of clergy days where clergy begin sharing their faith stories, how they came to faith in Christ, how they felt called to ordained ministry, what were their hopes and dreams at the beginning of their ordained ministry, what their hopes and dreams are now, what are the resurrection stories in their lives, and pray for each other. Then, I would call these same groups to study the Anglican Covenant, and then, I would have these same groups begin to study the whole sexuality issue: first by bringing in theologians to inform us and to lead us in conversation. I would then encourage the clergy to repeat this process in their own churches."

The Anglican Covenant...hmmm...

I have to reiterate my last post where I referenced our profile as a diocese:
15. Our current Bishop and the diocese, in
convention, have affirmed that we are a
Windsor Diocese. In that light, I believe our
next bishop should be supportive of the
Windsor Report and the ongoing Windsor
process.

48 % Strongly Agree
20 % Somewhat Agree
26 % No Opinion
4 % Somewhat Disagree
2 % Strongly Disagree


16. I support the blessing of civil unions (as
opposed to marriage) between gay and lesbian
persons in the Episcopal Church.

26 % Strongly Agree
19 % Somewhat Agree
8 % No Opinion
10 % Somewhat Disagree
37 % Strongly Disagree


21. I support the marriage of gay and lesbian
persons in the Episcopal Church.

17 % Strongly Agree
11 % Somewhat Agree
7 % No Opinion
12 % Somewhat Disagree
53 % Strongly Disagree


Part D - Some of the first steps I would take to get started.
A couple of things he wrote caught my eye:
"I would meet with the clergy in groups of eight to ten, to get to know them individually, what their hopes and dreams are, what they need for the diocese to do for them, what gifts they have that they can offer the diocese, and what changes they would make if they were bishop. I would ask them the names of key lay leaders in the diocese that I should meet with in the first year. Then I would meet with the most common names that were given me."

Too bad Pewster is not a common name. What about those group meetings in order to get to know the clergy individually? Interesting method.
"Overall I would want to determine whether the diocese is functioning as a pastoral or a program-sized diocese."
I have heard about the various sizes of churches, and I will have to learn more on how that scales up to the level of diocese.

"Finally, I would want to meet with the governor of South Carolina and whatever other major elected officials that people in the diocese have relationships with."

Uh, you might want to hold off on that last one. "Bad company ruins good morals." (1 Corinthians 15:33)

Again, does he fit our profile? How about Q 30 I asked you to consider in the last post?

30. I would like our next bishop to be a strong
preacher / orator, fully committed to evangelism
and outreach to the unchurched.

46 % Strongly Agree
39 % Somewhat Agree
9 % No Opinion
6 % Somewhat Disagree

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Getting to Know the Nominees I: John Burwell+


Introduction: I am approaching my exploration of the candidates first by looking at each separately based on what I can turn up using simple web searches, and then moving on to the Faith stories, management styles, the responses to the question on SSBs (all were submitted prior to GenCon 2009 and the passage of DO56-the resolution that said that bishops, "particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church." ), and finally I shall look at their stated possible first steps to be taken if elected. I shall proceed in alphabetical order, and at this stage I am not ranking the nominees.

John Burwell+ is first up.

First, you should go to the home page of the Church of the Holy Cross Sullivan's Island and browse around.

Listen to one of his sermons. Click on "choose a speaker" and scroll to his name. Apple Quick Time is needed to listen to the stream or simply download a sermon and listen on the player of your choice.

Next, there is a nice article in the Post and Courier subtitled "DJ-turned-rector shepherds growing flock" that you might find interesting.

And if you don't care for secular news, he got a mention in this story in Episcopal Life Online.
"Holy Cross on Sullivan's Island is a flourishing church, boasting 1,800 congregants with a '24/7 ministry here,' said the Rev. John Burwell, rector and one of the guides for the Presiding Bishop and her party.

In this site, Holy Cross maintains two distinct areas where, Burwell said, two simultaneous albeit different styles of worship are celebrated to meet the spiritual needs of all ages. The church established another site on Daniel's Island, about 15 minutes away, and a third Holy Cross site is underway."

For those of you unfamiliar with Episcopal Life Online, this is an amazing bit of praise (to see a positive comment about someone from SC).

Next, check out the growth in his parish over time. Compare this one church's most recent pledges of 1.8 million dollars with our entire diocese's 2009 pledge income of 2.5 million.

Finally, go to the Bios and Q+A posted on the Bishop Search site.

Part A - Faith Story:

Here we find that John Burwell+ has a connection with our church in Rock Hill. He grew up in Rock Hill and dated one of Our Saviour's rector's (William Lumpkin+) daughters. How John Burwell the radio announcer was called to be a priest is given a short description leaving us asking for more.

Part B - Discuss your management style including conflict resolution:
At this point I shall quote some of his response:
"To begin with, I believe there is a major distinction to be made between management and leadership. I would hope that EDUSC would want me to lead the diocese in the next several decades, and not simply manage diocesan affairs. That having been said, I would say that my current leadership responsibilities include discerning and focusing our God-given vision and translating the vision to our parish, while encouraging and empowering parish leaders and staff, equipping saints for the work of ministry, and serving our five priests and our deacon as their front-line pastor. I am collaborative by nature and well-trained in Systems Theory and in all aspects of resolving conflict.
Conflict is a normal part of life and when dealt with appropriately, conflict can strengthen all concerned. We are sinners and we all make mistakes, but we live in a culture permeated by divorce, by ego, by consumerism which believes that the customer is always right. Consequently, we love to resign, to withdraw pledges and rise high above those terrible people who do the things that we would never do."

Part C - How would you counsel a rector on blessing a same gender relationship and how would you lead us forward beyond our divisions? Again, I will quote:
"I would begin by reminding the clergyperson that we are in a Church structure that has (and I believe rightly has) retained catholic ecclesiology. As a direct consequence, the actions of some can and do affect the lives of all. Regardless of where one stands on same gender blessings we need first ask ourselves if it is appropriate for a clergyperson, a bishop, or even for the entire Episcopal Church to offer a blessing of a same gender relationship without at least giving serious and further consideration to the impact of such an unilateral action on the body of faithful people in our parishes and dioceses and in the rest of the Communion. At present, the Mind of the Communion is against such an action as reflected in Lambeth 1.10, the Windsor Report, Dar Es Salaam and all recent Anglican Communion gatherings.

Secondly, as the Bishop of Dallas recently reminded his diocese, the Christian faith is something we receive, not legislate. Our own wedding service in our prayer book recognizes that the bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored by all people. To change the Church’s blessings from a man and a women in Holy Matrimony to something else, or to give the Church’s blessings to any other form of covenanted relationship outside of marriage would be to do away with both Scripture and Tradition, and in a catholic ecclesiology that can not be a matter for a General Convention to decide with a majority vote. We must find other and better ways to be pastoral and to love to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters without tinkering with the sanctity of Holy Matrimony."


I have to go back to our profile as a diocese:
15. Our current Bishop and the diocese, in
convention, have affirmed that we are a
Windsor Diocese. In that light, I believe our
next bishop should be supportive of the
Windsor Report and the ongoing Windsor
process.

48 % Strongly Agree
20 % Somewhat Agree
26 % No Opinion
4 % Somewhat Disagree
2 % Strongly Disagree


16. I support the blessing of civil unions (as
opposed to marriage) between gay and lesbian
persons in the Episcopal Church.

26 % Strongly Agree
19 % Somewhat Agree
8 % No Opinion
10 % Somewhat Disagree
37 % Strongly Disagree


21. I support the marriage of gay and lesbian
persons in the Episcopal Church.

17 % Strongly Agree
11 % Somewhat Agree
7 % No Opinion
12 % Somewhat Disagree
53 % Strongly Disagree


Part D - Some of the first steps I would take to get started.
Again I must quote:
"My vision would not be primarily about evangelism, outreach, pastoral care or missionary work – it would be about developing the parishes and missions within the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina so that they would be more effective at evangelism, outreach, pastoral care and missionary work.

Recognizing that the diocesan budget must not be a drain on resources critically needed for local parish and mission ministry, I would examine all diocesan expenses with a goal of gradual reduction."

There is more, but it is time to move on.


Does he fit our profile? How about Q 30?

30. I would like our next bishop to be a strong
preacher / orator, fully committed to evangelism
and outreach to the unchurched.

46 % Strongly Agree
39 % Somewhat Agree
9 % No Opinion
6 % Somewhat Disagree

Adders, Lions, Sheep, Slaves, Cannibals, and Bishop Nominees

So many thoughts, so little time, and so short a blog with which to tie them all together.

Today's service at ECOOS was rather remarkable for breaking a recent string of bad sermons with a sermon that, while focusing on a theme of the use of power for people rather than over them, was able to keep within the framework of today's scripture readings. This was one of those Sundays where there were choices in the readings, and we had chosen for us Isaiah 53:4-12 which I cannot let pass by without another read.
Surely he has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.


He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people.
They made his grave with the wicked
and his tomb with the rich,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

The last time I thought about this one was during Holy Week, and it was interesting to have it come around at this time of the year. It is incredibly rich, and would have been a good subject for a sermon itself. As it was, my attention was led to the lines,

"All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all."

Handel of course picked these words for use in "Messiah," but I heard a youth choir sing a different version over at You Tube. Here it is for your listening pleasure.


Or for those of you who prefer Handel:



Psalm 91:9-16 was the lectionary choice for today with its memorable,
"For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder,
the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot."

We have to thank those angels that our toes will not get stubbed so that our feet will be healthy enough to tread on those lions and adders.



Then we heard Hebrews 5:1-10 which began,
"Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not presume to take this honour, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was"

This had my mind drifting off to think about those called to stand for election as the next bishop of our diocese. I may have to send a humility quotient to each of those guys.

Lastly, we heard Mark 10:35-45 which also seemed to send a message to the candidates for bishop of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina in verses 43-44.
"But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all."


Now, cover your eyes boys and girls, but I have to apologize for the next image. I couldn't resist the title:




Curiously, the title contained five possible labels for our bishop candidates. It is too soon to apply the labels, but right now I am looking at the Lion, the Slave, and the Sheep closely. I'll try to not put the nominees in a pressure cooker, but I will keep an eye out for anything spicy to season them with.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Meet the Candidates for Upper South Carolina

Visit the Search Committee's web page to see their smiling faces and read their bios.

The Very Reverend John B. Burwell
Rector, Church of the Holy Cross
Sullivan's Island, Daniel Island
and I'on, South Carolina

The Reverend Canon Dr. Neal O. Michell
Canon to the Ordinary,
Episcopal Diocese of Dallas
Dallas, Texas

The Reverend David F. O. Thompson
Rector, St. Bartholomew's Church
North Augusta, South Carolina


The Reverend W. Andrew Waldo
Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church
Excelsior, Minnesota

The Reverend Jerre Stockton Williams, Jr.
St. Peter's Episcopal Church
Kerrville, Texas


Comments?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Look at the Local Numbers

The 2008 numbers for the Episcopal church are being compiled and there has been some Internet chatter about why they have not been released.

Since we will be learning more about the finalists chosen to run for bishop of our diocese on Friday of this week, I present my estimate of what is going on attendance-wise in the Catawba Convocation of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina for the edification of the candidates. I decided to do this after reading a posting at Cranmer's Curate on his bishop's first 100 days. Julian Mann was writing about his area in the Diocese of Sheffield, England,
"...this inner urban area covering six parishes with eight churches. Church attendance figures rank this 70,000-population area as among the lowest in the UK and parts of it are ranked very high on the government’s indices of social deprivation.

The average Sunday attendance in the eight churches is approximately 300, equivalent to less than 0.5 per cent of the population. With other Christian denominations included, the churchgoing proportion is around one per cent."


As far as our part of South Carolina goes, the following numbers were gleaned from my reading of the church research graphs available in the "Study Your Congregation" page provided by TEC. These are my own approximations because the data was presented in grapghic form. I also apologize for any formatting problems (a blogger issue).

-------------------------2008 Approximations------------

------------------------- Weekly Attendance__Members

Christ Church Lancaster______48_______________101

Good Shepherd York________125_______________215

Our Saviour Rock Hill_______170_______________690

St Marks Chester___________10________________25

St. Matthias Rock Hill_______32________________70

St. Paul's Fort Mill__________90_______________295

St. Peters Great Falls________16________________25


Totals_________________491_______________1421

To put this in perspective, here is the population of Chester, Lancaster, and York counties, the counties in which the above listed churches are located.

Chester County US Census Estimates 32,618

Lancaster County US Census Estimates 75,913

York County US Census Estimates 217,448

Total Population: 325,979

% of population attending weekly service in Episcopal churches: 0.15%

All this following something Bishop Henderson called "The Decade of Evangelism."

When anybody says anything to you about "mission and outreach," think about the 325,490 people locally who are not listening to the Episcopal church's version of the Gospel. Shouldn't they be coming in droves to hear the new thang, or are they smarter than the average Episcopalian?

What Gospel will our next bishop proclaim?