Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Doublecrosswalk, or Will it Play in Pew-oria?

"Crosswalk" is the title of the newspaper of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina (DUSC). In fact, it consists of just a single sheet of paper that is literally the cover for the underlying 24 pages of "Episcopal Life Monthly," a publication of our national Episcopal church. The August issue arrived by snail mail as a "Special Issue: 76th General Convention, August 2009." Our August "Crosswalk" was greeted with the usual quick toss into the recycling container, but a voice called out and led me to rescue the August edition from oblivion. The voice said, "Look for subliminal messages."

The title of the lead article by Peggy Antwerp Hill, "Upper SC makes presence known at General Convention" is a clue that the article may contain a certain bias. After all, who knew DUSC was so important!

The article begins with,

"While hot-button issues were grabbing headlines in our secular press..."

(Subliminal message #1: Don't believe the mean spirited secular press, believe Crosswalk.)
"...Upper South Carolinians were making news in a gentler way at the 76th General Convention..."

(Message #2: Bless their hearts.)
"...Often finding themselves in the limelight..."

(Insert sound of "Crosswalk" being thrown across the room.)

After that laughable first paragraph, we get to the real message:
"Both Bishop Henderson and deputation chair the Very Rev. Dr. Philip Linder, dean of Trinity Cathedral..."

(I am a little worried that this Linder chap is getting more ink than the Bishop. Is this subliminal message #3?)
"...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.'"

(Gulp, now this is news. This Linder guy and +Henderson were partly responsible for D025!?? I don'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 can almost feel the intensity of the moment.)

When reading the next section, keep in mind that the average uninformed pew sitter 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..."

(Wait a second, I thought the spin was that it meant the discernment process was open to all.)
"The resolution...reaffirms the Church's abiding commitment 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.

(Subliminal message #4: All is well. "Fellowship" sounds like something all of us would vote for, unfortunately that is not what the resolution is about. See the end of this post for the final wording).

What does our brave deputy tell us about D025?

"The resolution," Linder said, is "a truthful acknowledgement of what is, a way forward that is not perfect but nonetheless a way for us to state boldly that we are now recommitting to our faith in Jesus Christ with a desire to focus fully upon mission and ministry in his name. I believe," Linder continued, "that we have turned a major page in going forward...and we have done so in a most Anglican way that respects the worldwide Anglican Communion."
(Insert the sound of 'Cough, cough...' The Archbishop of Canterbury begging to disagree in a most Anglican way.)

This is more outrageous spin, this time from the Very Rev. Dr. Philip Linder, dean of Trinity Cathedral. D025 "...respects the worldwide Anglican Communion." Poppycock!
(Insert sound of the "Crosswalk" being folded into the shape of an air sickness bag).
And his statement about the resolve being "'a truthful acknowledgement of what is" is another example of how far the church will go to follow society's values instead of tradition and scripture. The Very Rev. Dr. Philip Linder is saying that society has moved here, and we the Church acknowledge it.
(Subliminal message #5: "Acknowledgment" is code for "future acceptance.")
The next step is to move the Church further towards the culture in which it finds itself. "What is" is essentially the Zeitgeist. Do you think "What is" might be harmful to the body of Christ? What does our deputy think?
Linder's words leave me with the impression that the church is conforming itself to the world by acknowledging the zeitgeist rather than acknowledging that there is another path, one opposed to the "what is", a way that leads the world to Jesus and everlasting life.

You should also notice the recurring theme of "mission and ministry" (Subliminal message #6) which I believe is a smokescreen. The code words "mission and ministry" are meant to distract people from "issues," and from the serious work of Bible study, apologetics, and evangelism needed by Christians to face an increasingly pluralistic and secular world. What ever happened to leading people to Christ for heaven's sake? The subliminal message is that if our leaders can just keep the sheep focused on eating grass, that they won't notice the wolves in their midst, nor will the sheep notice that their shepherds were the ones who let the wolves in the gates in the first place.

This whole section of "Crosswalk" seems designed to build up the Very Rev. Dr. Philip Linder, and leave the impression that he is a multi-titled, super special kind of guy, maybe the kind of guy who would make a good bishop (Subliminal message #7) . Does Ms. Antwerp think Upper South Carolinians will fall for this blatant airbrushing of the chair of Upper SC's deputation?

The final section of this piece is entitled "Hoping to Reassure." In it we find a very confusing account of the journey of D025 from the House of Deputies to the House of Bishops, and how our heroic bishop tried to,

"soften the assertion of the original resolve, which states that God calls partnered gays and lesbians in 'life-long committed relationships,' 'like any other baptised members, to any ordained ministry.'"
(Insert sound of the "Crosswalk" being crumpled into a nanoparticle)

(And uh, excuse me, but the reporter, bless her heart for shielding the conservative majority, left out the language in the resolve that includes this theological leap across the Rubicon: "the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God." )

Our bold bishop then offered an amendment to

"reassure Episcopalians and other Anglicans more than the original language would."

(Who is he kidding? I don't think the original language was reassuring at all.)

"The amendment, affirming 'that God's call to the ordained a mystery which the Church attempts to discern for all people through our discernment process...'"

(That is soooooo reassuring.)

"However, a second amendment, incorporating the original language, along with the language the bishop had proposed, was adopted and the resolution passed."

(Drats foiled again! But wait a second, didn't both Bishop Henderson and the Very Rev. Dr. Philip Linder vote for this stupid thing they helped create? Come now fearless reporter, tell us how they voted! Again, for those of you unfamiliar with the final version, see the whole resolution at the end of this piece, and note that the entire resolution was not printed in "Crosswalk.")

"In a statement issued following the vote, Bishop Henderson regretted that some would use the language of the resolve 'to advance an agenda for which I believe neither we nor the Anglican Communion are ready to endorse...'"

(Excuse me, but isn't that reason enough to vote against the resolution?)
Just say, "No!"

Events have proven Bishop Henderson right in that the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Minnesota have recently nominated non-celibate homosexual individuals to run as candidates for Bishop suffragan and Bishop respectively.
So why did he vote for it?

"...the content of the resolution, taken as a whole, is more helpful than not."

(Insert sound of the nanoparticle sized "Crosswalk" being crammed into a quantum hole trash can.)
Question: If a nanoparticle gets compressed to fit into into a quantum hole, does it make a sound?

I could not resist but to ask a naive Episcopalian to read the "Crosswalk" article and let me record their opinions. This is a heavily censored summary:

"There is no substance in this!"

"They don't say anything!"

"It's a bunch if B.S."

"The typical parishioner won't understand what they are talking about!"

"What is B033?"

"What is 'openness of the ordination process,' and what is this abiding commitment to this Anglican Communion thingy?"

"What does D025 mean?"

"What did I learn? Nothing!"

"What a bunch of gobbledy goop."

"Why do I need reassuring?"

"Who is this Linder person, I have learned nothing of what he stands for, and who pays his salary anyway?"

"God calls who to what!? Is God's plan for them to be in lifelong relationships, or is it for them to be ordained? What Bible verse was that? He (+Henderson) is making this up."

"Is he saying that gays and lesbians are called to ordained ministry, and they have to be partnered to called by God? Why can't they be celibate?"

Guess what, naive pew sitter, the article also fails to tell you that Linder and Henderson's yes votes endorse the part of the resolution that stated that these new "lifestyles" among the baptised fall under the category of "holy love" as defined by the Episcopal church. The article says nothing about the Archbishop of Canterbury's opening address to the convention in which he asked the Episcopal church not to do anything like this. The article says nothing about the Archbishop's response to the passage of this resolution. The article appears to be attempting to shield Bishop Henderson from criticism during his last months in DUSC, and the article appears to be laying the groundwork for a candidacy for bishop by the Very Rev. Dr. Philip Linder.

After reading this Crosswalk article, and knowing how contrary the actions of our deputation's leaders are to the conservative majority (as evidenced by question 17 amongst others found in the recently published profile of our diocese), I am inclined to offer a new title for "Crosswalk." How about: "Doublecrosswalk?"

Oh, how that limelight burns.

* FINAL VERSION - Concurred Resolution: D025
Title: Commitment and Witness to Anglican Communion
Topic: Anglican Communion
Committee: 08 - World Mission
House of Initial Action: Deputies
Proposer: Ms. D. Rebecca Snow


Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 76th General Convention reaffirm the continued participation of The Episcopal Church as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion; give thanks for the work of the bishops at the Lambeth Conference of 2008; reaffirm the abiding commitment of The Episcopal Church to the fellowship of churches that constitute the Anglican Communion and seek to live into the highest degree of communion possible; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention encourage dioceses, congregations, and members of The Episcopal Church to participate to the fullest extent possible in the many instruments, networks and relationships of the Anglican Communion; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention reaffirm its financial commitment to the Anglican Communion and pledge to participate fully in the Inter-Anglican Budget; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm the value of "listening to the experience of homosexual persons," as called for by the Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988, and 1998, and acknowledge that through our own listening the General Convention has come to recognize that the baptized membership of The Episcopal Church includes same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships "characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God" (2000-D039); and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention recognize that gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church, and that God's call to the ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church is a mystery which the Church attempts to discern for all people through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention acknowledge that members of The Episcopal Church as of the Anglican Communion, based on careful study of the Holy Scriptures, and in light of tradition and reason, are not of one mind, and Christians of good conscience disagree about some of these matters.


This resolution provides clarification in light of the Windsor Report (2004) and subsequent discussions in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

The first resolve reaffirms resolution A159 adopted at the 75th General Convention General Convention, in 2006. While much attention has been focused on official statements and resolutions from the primates meetings, Lambeth Conference 2008, and Anglican Consultative Council meetings in 2005 and 2009, our participation in the Anglican Communion consists of a much richer tapestry of ministries and networks as well as personal relationships. Hence the second resolve encourages Episcopalians, individually and in dioceses and parishes, to build relationships with our sisters and brothers around the Anglican Communion by participation in these networks and ministries.

Another sign of the Episcopal Church's commitment to the Anglican Communion is financial. In 2007, The Episcopal Church budgeted $661,000 for the Inter-Anglican budget, which sustains the work of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Anglican Communion offices in London. The 2007 financial report of the Anglican Consultative Council (the latest available on the Anglican Communion website) reports a total income from Inter Anglican Budget contributions as £1,134,745 ($1,864,574.36, using 2009 currency rates). In other words, The Episcopal Church contributes a substantial portion of the Inter Anglican Budget. This resolution reaffirms our financial commitment.

Our relationships in the Anglican Communion have been tested by the question of the ordination to the episcopate of individuals living in a same-sex partnership. Resolution D-039 of the 73rd General Convention, in 2000, acknowledged that the membership of the Episcopal Church includes persons living in same-sex relationships; established an expectation that "such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God"; and further denounced "promiscuity, exploitation, and abusiveness in the relationships of any of our members." Three years later, the 74th General Convention reaffirmed this expectation. These standards thus provide guidance for access to the discernment process for ordination to the episcopate.

The acceptance of the ministry of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons is not settled in The Episcopal Church or in the Anglican Communion. While the church continues to discern God's will in these matters, it is important to remind ourselves that sacramental theology since the time of Augustine of Hippo has affirmed that the validity of sacraments does not depend on the character of the ordained person celebrating those sacraments.

* Note: The final language, as well as the final status of each resolution, is being reviewed by the General Convention office. The Journal of the 76th General Convention and the Constitution and Canons will be published once the review process has been completed.


  1. Refreshing as always to watch you carefully dissect the spin. Would that more Christians did the same. The New Testament actually has more to say about false teaching than on the preferred topics of love and grace. These days call for real discernment. You're on the job.

  2. Bull Street9:36 AM

    Thanks Pewster--Good work. I just hope there are enough electing delegates who also see through this. If Linder is elected Bishop, it is the end for this diocese (if we have not gone over the edge already!).

  3. Anonymous9:42 AM

    Good heavens -- I found your blog by following the link from the blog from that priest in the Diocese of South Carolina site. I am amazed that you actually read Crosswalk. Blessings to you for your work. And what you've done with that article from last month is so good. I plan to forward this to my church fellowship groups.

    I'm a fellow DUSC parishioner from Columbia [it looks like you may be up towards Chester County?] and that Crosswalk article makes me laugh out loud -- or cry I can't figure out which. The photos of Dean Linder and Bishop Henderson bravely taking on the liberals [by trying to make the resolution murkier so nobody would figure out what it meant] were funny -- or again, just sad -- given the article's main thesis which seems to be that Dean Linder and Bishop Henderson singlehandedly saved TEC and our diocese from looming catastrophe.

    But the facts seem pretty simple to me. Dean Linder and our bishop voted to approve a resolution that states "Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals [who are engaged in same-gender sexual relationships], to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church . . . " Not to mention the whole same sex blessings resolution -- which they are trying to make sound as if it had nothing to do with same sex blessings [hard to do considering the title of the resolution].

    This is not a surprise to me for Dean Linder -- he's been on the record as supporting "full inclusion" [which always seems to be a code for non-celibate gay priests, bishops, etc, along with same sex blessings] ever since his 2006 article in the State newspaper. But it is a big reversal [at least in public] for Bishop Henderson to say that he affirms "that God has called and may call such individuals [who are engaged in same-sex relationships], to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church . . . "

    Just sign me Margaret the Broad River Episcopalian

  4. Anonymous9:45 AM

    And oh yes . . . here are two questions that weren't answered -- and I don't think they were in your article or the strange Crosswalk piece.

    Why oh why was Dean Linder called the chair of the deputation, when the tradition is that the person who receives the most votes on the first ballot [or at whatever point the first clergy person is elected] receives the chair title. And that person was -- overwhelmingly -- Father Montgomery. I was there at the convention and Father Montgomery was elected *on the first ballot* as a deputy to General Convention. Dean Linder limped to a second or third ballot placement.

    So why was Dean Linder called "the chair of the deputation"? Was he really the chair? I mean -- was the chair position taken away from Father Montgomery -- who was easily elected on the first ballot and immediately became the chair by virtue of his placement -- and given to Dean Linder? And if so . . . why? I think you've hit on a possible reason why in your analysis of the article. It appears to me that they are doing some damage control for Dean Linder or some "fluffing up" -- or at least *trying* to -- for the future.

    Which makes me wonder if he's going to end up on the slate of bishop nominees. God help us all.

    Second question -- how did the rest of the deputation vote on the two resolutions in question [C0?? and D025]? My understanding by carefully reading some internet web links [because you sure couldn't learn these things from Crosswalk] was that the two votes were by orders in the house of deputies -- and that the lay order and the clergy order of DUSC were recorded as "no" votes to BOTH the same sex blessings resolution [C0??] and D025.

    That means that the deputation [either majority or divided] voted "no." Which means that AT MOST -- two laity voted for these two resolutions and AT MOST two clergy since divided deputations are recorded as "no" votes in votes by orders.

    Calvin Griffin would have voted yes. And we know that Phil Linder voted yes at least on D025.

    So . . . Father Montgomery and the other clergyperson [priest from North Augusta?] voted no to both the same sex blessings resolution [C0??] and D025. And at least two of the lay deputation did too. I would think that would be Mr. Zeigler and Mr. Bjontegard at least.

    But did any of these matters get mentioned in the Diosesan House article? Matters that were really news and interesting facts like that?

    Keep up the good work, whoever you are. I plan to bookmark this place -- you need to do more analysis of the articles that come out of the Diocesan House please and other things too. I understand your wanting to focus on sermons and such with your parish, but please do more on diocesan matters too.

    Margaret, the Broad River Episcopalian

  5. Thanks Margaret for your speculation. As you can see, the "Crosswalk" does not address those "issues." Instead, we get the gentler approach full of spin and fluff.

    It is interesting that the Episcopal Life issue inside the Crosswalk contained some negative letters about these same resolutions. I am speculating that these may have been sneaked in by some of the recently laid off staff as the new national budget ax fell heavily on them.

  6. Bull Street12:15 PM

    Margaret--Please, where did you get your information on the votes by the delegation? I never saw that.

  7. Anonymous12:40 PM

    Bull Street I don't remember -- somewhere out on the internet.

    If the vote by depuation is listed as "divided" it still counts as a "no" -- and that means that no more than two laity or two clergy voted FOR the resolutions.

    So somebody has to vote NO on the resolutions. Dean Linder and Father Griffin are already "Yes" votes -- so that naturally means that Father Montgomery and Father [???] are "No" votes.

    Are you anywhere near Bull Street? Are you an Episcopalian in our diocese?

    Margaret the Broad River Episcopalian

  8. Anonymous1:43 PM

    I found it interesting the Bishop Henderson insists that D025 does not replace B033 - yet, Ms. Hill calls it the successor to B033 - Would like to have been at D house when the Crosswalk arrived

  9. I should also like to point you to the op-ed piece that Dean Linder wrote for The State newspaper on 9 July 2006, shortly after GenCon 06, wherein he trashes the conservatives for causing all the troubles in the Episcopal Chirch. I'd also point you to the open letter to parishioners of Trinity from Bam Gressette, chairman of the Finance Committee at Trinity, wherein he decries the $100,000 shortfall in budget in 2007 (this of course was before the general economy tanked--the excuse being used by all the clergy at this time). As always, parishioners can only vote with their feet or their wallets. It appears that the people at Trinity have voted. If Dean Linder is a finalist for election to bishop, God help us all.

  10. I found a copy of that 2006 op ed at:

    The link is near the bottom (37th entry from the bottom).

    The link embedded in the document did not work, so I am left to presume the document is as it was when published.

  11. It would appear that the Very Rev. Dr. Philip Linder would make an excellent candidate for some other Diocese. Does the U.C.C. have bishops?

  12. Bull Street11:53 AM

    Margaret--Yes, I am in Upper SC, but I'd rather not say how close I live to Bull Street. Let's just say I'm very concerned about what happens in Diocese House around the corner.

    We must all so everything we can to oppose the election of Dean Linder as Bishop. It would be the end of the line for me. My stomach turns a little when I imagine that scenario.

  13. (Off topic comment rejected, sorry).

  14. Anonymous12:03 PM

    Pewster, I am glad that there are still a few "rams" like yourself left in the "cult'. I enjoy your blog. I thank God daily that my family had the good sense to leave the cult after 55 years of pain and suffering.