Sunday, June 09, 2013

Task Force 10 to Gomorrah Part 4

In earlier posts, (links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) we presented the details on what we call Task Force 10 to Gomorrah, or the Bishop of Upper South Carolina's group studying the theology of unity in hopes of keeping Episcopalians in his diocese together if and when same sex blessing ceremonies start being done (officially) in Upper South Carolina churches.

The task force has fallen on hard times lately with the resignation of one of its few conservative voices. With his departure, we can be pretty confident on what kind of document they are going to come up with.

Word got out pretty quickly after the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina sent the following letter via email to our clergy this week that he was fully intending to permit the use of the rite of same sex blessing in his diocese although the details as to how this will take place have not yet been completed (since his scattered task force is still hiding behind a smokescreen after the loss of one of its ships of the line).

June 6, 2013
 Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I write to give you an update on the Bishop’s Task Force on Unity. Although I originally planned to include this update as part of a more comprehensive letter about several initiatives taking place in our diocese (to be mailed next week), a recent letter about the Task Force from the Rev. Harrison McLeod to the Christ Church congregation prompted me to send this to you now. I had asked Harrison, as president of Diocesan Executive Council, to review a draft of my comprehensive update, which included much of the text below.
As you know, I called the Bishop’s Task Force on Unity together following General Convention 2012 to address those challenges with regard to disagreements in the church around same-sex blessings. The Task Force has met seven times since October 2012 and hopes to finish its work by late fall this year or early winter next year.
A structure for what we present to the Diocese upon the completion of our work is beginning to emerge and will include a pastoral letter from me and a curriculum created by the Task Force for congregations. We hope this structure will challenge people of all perspectives to examine assumptions, engage the issue more rigorously—biblically, theologically and morally—and to stay in community and in conversation throughout.
My pastoral letter at that time will detail how we will address same-sex blessings in this Diocese. Our way forward will, as I have written and said on several occasions over the last year or more, include a path for congregations who seek to allow same-sex blessings as well as my support for those congregations who cannot in good conscience allow them.
It is my most profound hope that we will succeed in shifting our diocesan conversation away from secular vs. sacred polemic to a deeper engagement with the sources of our faith and a more profound trust in God’s reconciling presence with us as we struggle with hard things. It is my most profound prayer, that our work may draw the diocesan community into a deeper unity in important areas of our common life, even if, as expected, we remain in disagreement on this particular issue.
In Christ,
The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo
VIIIth Bishop
This letter is an illustration of a bishop who has chosen to walk apart from the one holy catholic and apostolic Church in which we all profess to believe, and who is content to let parts of his flock do the same (the greater crime?).  The teaching ministry of a Bishop as well as his responsibility to preserve the historic Faith of the Church has been perverted by a new teaching, that a sin can be made a blessing by virtue of a consensus of the people.

Kudo's to the rector of Christ Church Greenville for telling his congregation that he will not be party to Bishop Waldo's false gospel.

Episcopalians in Upper South Carolina should consider the following questions,

1.) Which Bishop Waldo is a false teacher, the one who agrees with same sex blessings or the one who blesses churches that call same sex blessings wrong?
2.) What direction will your priest support when it comes to the question of same sex blessings?
3.) What will your vestry support?
4.) Can churches who do not agree with Bishop Waldo continue under his leadership?
5.) How will you as an individual continue under Bishop Waldo?
6.) How will you spread the Gospel of Christ when there exist two very different gospels operative and both are sanctioned by the same Church?

As expected, the unity Bishop Waldo has sworn to uphold (see the Ordination of a Bishop below) is not likely to exist until traditional Episcopalians strike their colors and surrender or move to Greenville.

Episcopal traditionalists should consider the following from the Historical Documents section of their Prayer Books.

XX. Of the Authority of the Church.
The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to God's Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another.  Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation
XXVI. Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments.
Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the Ministration of the Word and Sacraments, yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ's, and do minister by his commission and authority, we may use their Ministry, both in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving the Sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ's ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God's gifts diminished from such as by faith, and rightly, do receive the Sacraments ministered unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ's institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.
Nevertheless, it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church, that inquiry be made of evil Ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally, being found guilty, by just judgment be deposed.
XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church.
It is not necessary that the Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the Traditions and Ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that others may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren.
Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish, Ceremonies or Rites of the Church ordained only by man's authority, so that all things be done to edifying.

Clergy and Bishops both active and retired should consider the following from The Ordination of a Bishop (1979 BCP pp.512-523)
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
Answer I am so persuaded.

Bishop Will you guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the
Answer I will, for the love of God.

A Bible is presented with these words
Receive the Holy Scriptures. Feed the flock of Christ
committed to your charge, guard and defend them in his
truth, and be a faithful steward of his holy Word and

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