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 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...


  1. This is very suspicious in my mind and demands explanation. Because the petition was processed so quickly, I sense a set up.

    Consider this: Dean Linder+ had some close friends on the Search Committee and he withdrew just before the penultimate cut. Is it possible that he had inside information that he was about to be cut and withdrew rather than face the ignominy of rejection by his own diocesan committee?

    Please remember that the Search Committee was constituted by the Diocesan Executive Committee (DEC) and given the mandate to find the best/most qualified candidates.

    While this is speculation, it is more than plausible and, if it is anywhere close to accurate, seriously calls into question the integrity of Dean Linder+.

  2. Bull Street6:36 PM

    Pewster--Your analysis--He withdrew just before the hard interviews with the whole committee--rings true for me. Now he doesn't have to have his position put up for all to view.

    I do believe the walkabouts better have multiple offerings of a very careful question about sexuality. Questions will be submitted on 3x5s to be rifled through by the moderator. Grrrr (If I may borrow your growl).

  3. I am bothered by this "moderator" business. As the first walkabout will be held in Columbia, we need to keep an eye out to be certain that the moderators allow the tough questions to be asked. That way any process issues can be put out for those attending the second walkabout.

  4. Anonymous11:01 PM

    Will Dean Linder miss the Search Committee's "hard" interviews entirely? He should be required to complete the same steps in the process as the other candidates - no matter what his time of Petition! Information please.

  5. There will be no "hard" interviews or video presentations from petition candidates.

  6. Now I am mad, the link for Trinity's statistics was changed at some point during the last couple of days. I think it is working now.

  7. They changed it again, so I have patched it again. If the link gets changed again, go to the "Growth and Development pages of the research section of the Episcopal church site. There you will have to scroll to the name of the diocese, wait for that to load, then scroll to the name of the church. Then click on "View Church Chart."