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

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

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.


  1. Uh oh, I saw a comment at SF that communion of the unbaptised has been going on at his church. This signifies a change in his position written in a paper in 2000. I wonder what caused him to switch?

  2. I did some fact checking and it does appear that since 2008 their bulletins state:

    "All who seek God and a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ are welcome to receive communion at
    Trinity Church."

  3. Looks like the growth and development charts are being jumbled and the links keep changing. I just updated his, but if all else fails go to the web page itself and click on "Studying your Congregation and Community" then on the next paget plug in the information, Dio= Minn, Parish = Trinity, Excelsior.

  4. robroy1:58 AM

    I find that making a tinyurl out of the parish website stat page helps. This should work: