Friday, January 07, 2011

First Theological Council For Upper SC

This came via the EDUSC yesterday. I can't comment right now; I haven't gotten up off the floor after its first pass through my digestive system.

The First Theological Council, April 8-9
Feast of the Epiphany, 2011

May the Lord help us to “preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord,
and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4.5)

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace and peace to you in Christ Jesus.

As I stated at convention and have repeated several times since, how we are in relationship with one another is the canvas upon which our common life is painted. It is utterly fundamental and colors all the claims we make to the world about the loving grace and salvation of Jesus Christ as Lord of the universe. Getting right with each other is at the very heart of our Christian vocation. It is a sign of our relationship with Jesus himself.

Since last March at the Clergy Business Day and continuing with the Fall Clergy Conference and the October Diocesan Convention, we have begun a disciplined process of open dialogue on matters of critical importance to our common life. Through these initial efforts at establishing norms for how we are in relationship with each other as Episcopalians in Upper South Carolina, we have already experienced some measure of new understanding and compassion for one another.

Call for Special Convention:

The 1st Theological Council of the Episcopal Church in Upper South Carolina

In light of our call to continue and deepen our disciplined practice of open dialogue, I am, with the full support of the Diocesan Executive Council, calling a special, non-legislative convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina. The purpose of this 1st Theological Council of the Episcopal Church in Upper South Carolina is to engage in substantive biblical and theological dialogue on norms for how we are in relationship with one another and to practice these norms in a dialogue on human sexuality.

How will we go about this dialogue?

Our first priority will be to ensure a safe, secure, and open environment that will keep us mindful of our unity in Christ Jesus. The introduction to the proposed Anglican Covenant, as well as The Rule of St. Benedict, provides helpful scriptural guidance for being together in this way. We will ground our dialogue in a rhythm of prayer and worship, flowing from meals, to worship, to spoken meditation, to reflection, to small group discussion, and then to plenary discussion.

How can I prepare for the Council?

We will send to all attendees reference materials that will assist our dialogue on norms and on human sexuality. These materials will include readings from scripture, the Anglican Covenant, The Rule of St. Benedict, and the fall clergy conference norms.

What will the result of this Council be?

Again, the dialogue is the purpose. We will issue no statements from this Council but only a reporting of the event and how it unfolded. We will have no voting. We will have no hidden agendas. The goal is to expand how we understand one another and how deeply we engage one another in Christ. We do know that General Convention will make decisions in 2012 and 2015 that will affect our common life, and I believe strongly that before then, we must make biblically informed, healthy dialogue a norm for all of us, so that we will be able to discuss those decisions with grace and integrity. We must know more fully who we are as a people.

Who will participate?

◦All clergy who are canonically resident or currently licensed in Upper South Carolina
◦Certified 2011 lay delegates*
◦Certified 2011 youth deputies**
◦Lay members and officers of Diocesan Executive Council
◦Lay deputies to General Convention
◦Convocational lay wardens
◦Postulants, candidates, and seminarians
◦2011 senior and junior wardens
* Certification forms will be available online
** To be elected at March convocation meetings

When and where will the 1st Theological Council take place?

We will gather on Friday and Saturday, April 8 and 9, 2011, at Christ Church, Greenville. The Council will begin at 4:30 pm on Friday the 8th and conclude by 5:00 pm on the 9th. Registration will open at 2:00 pm on Friday.

How much will it cost?

The cost will be $25 per person, and includes Friday dinner and Saturday lunch. I hope the churches will pay this fee for their delegates. A block of rooms has been reserved at The Phoenix Inn. The cost of $79/night includes a full hot breakfast buffet. Reservations can be made by calling 800-257-3529 or 864-233-4651 and providing the block title “Episcopal Diocese.”

I recognize that, by calling this 1st Theological Council, I am asking churches and delegates to make a special and additional commitment. Because of the overnight schedule, we have decided to shorten the October 2011 business convention to one day. At the time of the Council, we will be in the heart of Lent, our season of repentance, reconciliation, fasting, and preparation for the Feast of the Resurrection. I can imagine no better way to prepare for that feast than by reconciling ourselves to God and to one another through deep and holy dialogue.

Faithfully in Christ Jesus,

The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo, Bishop
The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina


  1. This appears to be the first step down a slippery slope. A council called to discuss human sexuality opens the door for same sex blessings and worse.

    It is clear from Holy Scripture that God intended marriage to be between a man and a woman so I don't see how this is open to discussion. It is also true that the Bible reports mankind inventing all kinds of permutations on God's intended ideal, but God's blessing and endorsement rested then and still rests exclusively on a marriage between one man and one woman. The other combinations that mankind has tried and still tries are called sin, and God's blessing is withheld from them.

    It would seem that calling this council can only be for the purpose of selling aberrant theology to the man in the pew.

  2. We all know this is a sham. With 80% of clergy (by some conservative estimates) okay with ssm's, this love fest will satisfy the requirements that Waldo+ has engaged in not just the listening process, but has kicked it up a notch and called the thing a "theological council." I have seen these great theologians at work before...

  3. Kelso5:46 PM

    You know, this reminds me of what Francis Cardinal Spellman used to say when asked about theologians:

    (Scornfully) "Hmmph! I hire theologians!"

  4. Kelso,

    Hired them for what? ;>

  5. Anonymous12:51 AM

    I am more saddened by this than you can imagine. There is a strong rumor going through our church that our very liberal priest is about to "come out of the closet." He is, to all appearances, happily married and with several children and grandchildren. Clearly this First Theological Council will only encourage this sort of thing. As a conservative Episcopalian who has loved the church all my life, but like the rest of you cannot find any Scripture that supports ssm I feel trapped. I imagine many other heterosexual church members will feel the same way, and may need to come to some heartbreaking decisions soon.

  6. Anon,

    That is one of the "worse" that Cato alluded to.

    Does one stay or does one go remains the question. There remains no "Third Way" for the faithful.

    (The Elder Oysters blog is about to close. Nearing the end of its run, the Third Way is being discussed. You can visit by clicking here).

  7. UP, you let me comment here as an outsider, i.e. Baptist, and I thank you.

    Obviously, I've no dog in an intra-Anglican fight, but as a Christian, I would say that your "stay or go" question is becoming the most important one for American Episcopalians these days.

    What I've gathered from my readings here is that the powers that be have foreordained a counterbiblical result and are merely going through the motions to try to convince as many of their less biblically well-read flock of their position. As far as the rest of you who won't play along, they really don't care.

    The bottom line is that "dialog" is merely a euphemism for "browbeating." If I were invited to such a conference, I would go and speak boldly in favor of God's Word. If my brethren chose a different path then I would part ways.

    As for these shepherds leading their flocks into the abyss, I can only pray that that they repent and cast off the millstones currently hanging from their necks.

  8. When I came to the Diocese of W Mass in the early 90's, there was a call at Convention for "dialogue" on the question of sexuality. I supported that call. I thought that the conservative position would be respected.

    What a naive simpleton I was. The entire process was rigged so that we would support the idea that same-sex sexual relationships were on a par with biblical marriage.

    The same will be true in Upper S Carolina. The revisionists are past masters at manipulation.

  9. Randall and Charlie,

    When the Church walks away from scripture and the teachings of the Apostles, we owe it to them as brethren to first warn them privately and then to proclaim this loudly before the great congregation.

    The setup of this "Theological Council" may not allow for a strong voice to stand up and warn them of their error (I think it would take a theological council version of a filibuster to even start to slow this group down).

  10. It occurs to me--I've been thinking about this post all day--that any dissenters from the preordained position will be branded as "haters" or something similar, merely for pointing out the inconsistency between God's word and Man's desires, a problem which, of course, has existed since the whole snake/apple problem in the Garden of Eden way-back.

    As our president is fond of saying, such is a false choice, and further presupposes a non-biblical hierarchy of sin. It's one of Satan's big lies and it infects all denominations to this day. We are all subject to God's judgment. Fortunately, Christ's sacrificial atonement ameliorates that judgment, but we must first confess the need for grace and try to walk the path of repentance. Instead, what we see is a desire to first, dispense with the repentance which, of course, leads to the abrogation of the need for confession and rejection of judgment.

    All because of our own selfish desires.

    "Surely, you will not die," said the snake.

    I quake in fear for the judgment such people will receive.

    I quake in fear because of my own failures.

    I can only pray, and I will do so for you and Upper South Carolina, my friend.

  11. Anonymous1:07 PM

    It is way past time for those remaining in the cult's pews to get up and leave.

    After sometime those pews will be available again.

  12. Anon,

    Yeah, available at a yard sale.