25 July 2009

Anniversary for Fr. Terry

Congratulations to our friend, mentor and fellow sojourner Terry Martin on the 19th anniversary of his ordination to the Priesthood.

Fr. Martin's anniversary is easy for me to remember as it is my name day. So, he and I share a special connection.

24 July 2009

Schofield loses, again

I kept silence on a little bit of good news so that our friends at The Grapevine could break the news. Here it is.

According to a ruling on 21 July, Schofield cannot continue to call himself the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. Second time he's been told that.
    Entry: Minute Order from Dept.: 97A Clerk: M Rodriguez Reporter: from chambers Nature of Hearing:Demurrer to 1st amended Cross Complaint - matter having been previously taken under advisement 5/5/09, the court now rules. Tentative ruling becomes the order of the court. No further order is necessary. Sustained with 10 days leave to amend.

    10:47 AM Order filed Schofield, David Mercer
    Entry: Order on plaintiffs' motion for summary adjudication signed by Judge A Corona filed. Granted as to 1st cause of action. ng

    10:49 AM Minute order - Judge Corona Schofield, David Mercer
    Entry: Minute Order from Dept.: 97A Clerk: M Rodriguez Reporter: from chambers Nature of Hearing: Motion for Summary Judgment - matter having been previously taken under advisement on 5/5/09, the court now rules. Partially granted ng


    The First Cause of Action in the complaint is for Declaratory Relief as to the Actions and Status of the Corporation Sole. The plaintiffs (Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin) contend that the purported amendments to the articles of the corporation sole were ultra vires, invalid, and void, and that defendant Schofield may not continue as the incumbent of the "The Protestant Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin, a corporation sole," or as president of the Episcopal Foundation or the Investment Trust, after leaving the Episcopal Church and being deposed.

What all that means is, that the court's ruling on 7 May is final.

The Diocese of Ft. Worth (the real one, not Iker's fake organization) issued a statement which includes this about the California decision:
  • The Episcopal Church is a hierarchical church as a matter of law;
  • The legal analysis in other cases involving parishes attempting to leave the Episcopal Church apply to a case in which a diocese attempts to leave the Episcopal Church;
  • Attempts by a diocese to amend its Constitution, canons, or corporate documents to (1) limit its unqualified accession to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, (2) purport to leave the Episcopal Church to join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, or (3) change the manner of determining who is the diocesan bishop is ultra vires (beyond its powers) and void;
  • Civil courts must accept as binding and defer to decisions of the Episcopal Church to recognize the provisional bishop and other diocesan officials who were installed after the former diocesan officials left the Episcopal Church;
  • The person who is recognized by the Episcopal Church as the bishop is the legal incumbent of the office of the bishop of the diocese, not a former bishop who left the Episcopal Church; and
  • When members left the Episcopal Church, the Church has a right to name their successors in diocesan offices.

The Grapevine's original post on the ruling is here.

If you prefer the summary in common-speak, you'll find it here.

The Fresno Bee, which has formerly been kind to Schofield, posted a small notification about the ruling:

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has prevailed in its first lawsuit against a deposed bishop who led a secession movement prompted by the church's ordination of women and gays.

National church leaders removed John-David Schofield as the head of the Fresno-based diocese in March of last year, after he led parishioners to break with the national church.

On Thursday, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Adolfo Corona ruled that Schofield improperly set up outside accounts to transfer up to $5 million in church money to a new holding company.

The ruling also established that Jerry Lamb, a bishop loyal to the U.S. Episcopal Church, officially heads the Fresno diocese.

22 July 2009

A letter from the Presiding Bishop to TEC

My brothers and sisters in Christ:

The 76th General Convention is now history, though it will likely take some time before we are all reasonably clear about what the results are.

We gathered in Anaheim, as guests of the Diocese of Los Angeles, for eleven full days of worship, learning, and policy-making. The worship was stunning visually, musically, and liturgically, with provocative preaching and lively singing.

Our learning included training in Public Narrative, as well as news about the emergent church, in the LA Night presentation.

We welcomed a number of visitors from other parts of the Anglican Communion, including 15 of the primates (archbishops or presiding bishops), other bishops, clergy, and laity.

You can see and hear all this and more at the Media Hub: http://gchub.episcopalchurch.org/

The budget adopted represents a significant curtailment of church-wide ministry efforts, in recognition of the economic realities of many dioceses and church endowments, which will result in the loss of a number of Church Center staff who have given long and laudable service. Yet we will continue to serve God's mission, throughout The Episcopal Church and beyond. This budget expects that more mission work will continue or begin to take place at diocesan or congregational levels. Religious pilgrims, from the Israelites in the desert to Episcopalians in Alaska or Haiti, have always learned that times of leanness are opportunities for strengthened faith and creativity.

As a Church, we have deepened our commitments to mission and ministry with "the least of these" (Matthew 25). We included a budgetary commitment of 0.7% to the Millennium Development Goals, through the NetsforLife® program partnership of Episcopal Relief & Development. That is in addition to approximately 15% of the budget already committed to international development work.

We have committed to a domestic poverty initiative, meant to explore coherent and constructive responses to some of the worst poverty statistics in the Americas: Native American reservations and indigenous communities.

Justice is the goal, as we revised our canons (church rules) having to do with clergy discipline, both as an act of solidarity with those who may suffer at the hands of clergy and an act of pastoral concern for clergy charged with misconduct.

The General Convention adopted a health plan to serve all clergy and lay employees, which is expected to be a cost-savings across the whole of the United States portion of the Church. Work continues to ensure adequate health coverage in the non-U.S. parts of this Church. The Convention also mandated pension coverage for lay employees.

Liturgical additions were also included in the Convention's work, from more saints on the calendar to prayers around reproductive loss.

What captured the headlines across the secular media, however, had to do with two resolutions, the consequences of which were often misinterpreted or exaggerated. One, identified as D025, is titled "Anglican Communion: Commitment and Witness to Anglican Communion." It

    * reaffirms our commitment to and desire to pursue mission with the Anglican Communion;
    * reiterates our commitment to Listening Process urged by Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988, and 1998;
    * notes that our own participation in the listening process led General Convention in 2000 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'";
    * recognizes that ministry, both lay and ordained is being exercised by such persons in response to God's call;
    * notes that the call to ordained ministry is God's call, is a mystery, and that the Church participates in that mystery through the process of discernment;
    * acknowledges that the members of The Episcopal Church, and of the Anglican Communion, are not of one mind, and that faithful Christians disagree about some of these matters.

The other resolution that received a lot of press is C056, titled "Liturgies for Blessings." The text adopted was a substitute for the original, yet the title remains unchanged. It

    * acknowledges changing circumstances in the U.S. and elsewhere, in that civil jurisdictions in some places permit marriage, civil unions, and/or domestic partnerships involving same-sex couples, that call for a pastoral response from this Church;
    * asks the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, and the House of Bishops, to collect and develop theological and liturgical resources for such pastoral response, and report to the next General Convention;
    * asks those bodies to invite comment and participation from other parts of this Church and the Anglican Communion;
    * notes that bishops may provide generous pastoral responses to the needs of members of this Church;
    * asks the Convention to honor the theological diversity of this Church in regard to matters of human sexuality.

The full text of both resolutions is available here: http://gc2009.org/ViewLegislation. I urge you to read them for yourself. Some have insisted that these resolutions repudiate our relationships with other members of the Anglican Communion. My sense is that we have been very clear that we value our relationships within and around the Communion, and seek to deepen them. My sense as well is that we cannot do that without being honest about who and where we are. We are obviously not of one mind, and likely will not be until Jesus returns in all his glory. We are called by God to continue to wrestle with the circumstances in which we live and move and have our being, and to do it as carefully and faithfully as we are able, in companionship with those who disagree vehemently and agree wholeheartedly. It is only in that wrestling that we, like Jacob, will begin to discern the leading of the Spirit and the blessing of relationship with God.

Above all else, this Convention claimed God's mission as the heartbeat of The Episcopal Church. I encourage every member of this Church to enter into conversation in your own congregation or diocese about God's mission, and where you and your faith community are being invited to enter more deeply into caring for your neighbors, the "least of these" whom Jesus befriends.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate

21 July 2009

C056 as seen though the eyes of the PB and PHoD

The Most Rev'd Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bonnie Anderson have written another letter to the archbishop of Canterbury. This one to explain C056. You'll find the letter here.
While the resolution honors the diversity of theological perspectives within The Episcopal Church, it doe not authorize public liturgical rites for the blessing of same-gender unions. The Book of Common Prayer remains unchanged, the marriage rites are unaltered and the Rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer define marriage as a "solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God."
It doesn't get more explicit than that.

Keep Bowe and all our soldiers in your prayers.

Remember to keep captured US soldier Bowe Bergdahl in your daily prayers, friends. And his parents, too.

Fianl versions of resolutions available

The General Convention 2009 Legislation site is once again functioning. The final version of each resolution is listed as well as the state (adopted, rejected, amended, etc).

You'll find the site here.

20 July 2009

Phyllis Edwards, pioneer deacon of the Episcopal Church dies

Amid the buildup to GC and the coverage of the same, I missed a very momentous event in the life of The Episcopal Church.

On 7 July, the Rev'd Phyllis Edwards, Deacon, died.

Phyllis was the first female ordained to the deaconate of the Episcopal Church. She was ordained in 1965 by the Rt. Rev'd James Pike, Ordinary of the Diocese of California amid a storm of controversy.

Her ordination led to the ordination of women as priests less than a decade later.

According the Episcopal Church news archives, she was priested in 1980 by Bishop Spong:

    Declaring that the "Church tonight is more whole than it was yesterday," the Rt. Rev. John S. Spong, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark ordained to the priesthood one of the first women to be recognized as a deacon in the Church.

    Although General Convention did not officially consider women to be deacons until 1970, the Rev. Phyllis Edwards was declared deacon, rather than deaconess, in 1964 by Bishop James Pike of California.

The news release contined:

    The next year she was working in the inner city of San Francisco when the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., requested clergy to join in a civil rights march in Selma, Ala. Sent as the "token" woman from the Diocese, according to Mrs. Edwards, she found herself in the front line of the march for the same reason. It was during her experience in Selma that she saw the relationship between the oppression of blacks and of women, an insight which affected her ensuing ministry.

    For several years she continued on the Diocesan staff in California, then served as director of Christian education in a parish in Evanston, Ill. Her next position was hospital chaplain, followed by work in a campus ministry at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb. During this period of ferment over the place of women in the Church, Mrs. Edwards chose to let her "ministry of being affect the Church, " rather than seeking early ordination.

A service of thanksgiving for Phyllis will be held at St Andrew's Episcopal Church on Friday, 24 July in Port Angeles, WA.

I would ask all readers of this blog to pause at 1 p.m. Pacific Time, on the 24th for one minute of silent thanksgiving for the life and service of the Rev'd Phyllis Edwards, a true pioneer of our church.

UPDATE: Ann Fontaine posts on Phyllis' death, here

Forty years?

I was sitting in Mrs. Dunmire's class during summer school. Mr. Dildine had insisted that each class have a television and that we be allowed to watch the lunar landing. It was so amazing to think people were actually on the moon!

Where were you?

19 July 2009

The very final version of C056

A few readers have asked if I had the most up-to-date version of C056. I have the very final version here thanks to the deputation from New Jersey
    Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 76th General Convention acknowledge the changing circumstances in the United States and in other nations, as legislation authorizing or forbidding marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian persons is passed in various civil jurisdictions that call forth a renewed pastoral response from this Church, and for an open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships; and be it further

    Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological, and liturgical resources and report to the 77th General Convention; and be it further

    Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, devise an open process for the conduct of its work inviting participation from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals who are engaged in such theological work, and inviting theological reflection from throughout the Anglican Communion; and be it further

    Resolved, 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 be it further

    Resolved, That this Convention honor the theological diversity of this Church in regard to matters of human sexuality; and be it further

    Resolved, That the members of this Church be encouraged to engage in this effort.
So, for what it is worth, there it is.

Trinity VI - Pentecost VII

(RCL) 2 Samuel 7:1-14a and Psalm 89:20-37; or Jeremiah 23:1-6 and Psalm 23; Ephesians 2:11-22; Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
    Introit: Clap your hands, all ye nations: shout unto God with the voice of Joy. (Ps. 46.3) For the Lord is most high, he is terrible; he is a great king over all the earth.

    Collect: Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; though the worthiness of of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
We are in many ways a weary people. Literally and figuratively, we are tired.

A survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that 47 million American adults suffer from sleep deprivation. That’s almost a quarter of the adult population in America. That’s a lot of weary people. And it is a serious problem. Fatigue and exhaustion can have serious consequences. Lack of sleep can affect our physical and mental health. It can also be deadly. Sixty percent of licensed drivers reported that they drove cars while drowsy. Fatigue has contributed to many auto accidents and fatalities. Sleep deprivation is a serious problem, and it has a number of causes: from lifestyle choices, to work, to illnesses, to sleeping disorders. The results of the survey are clear: many Americans, too many Americans, both adults and children, are not getting enough sleep. We are, quite literally, a weary people.

However, we really didn’t need a survey to tell us this. Just ask someone how they are doing these days, and listen to what they say. Have you ever heard people say things like: “I’m exhausted.” “I’m running myself ragged.” “I’m wiped out.” “I’m spent.” “I’m running on empty.” “I just need a nap.” “I need caffeine.”

People are tired these days and they will tell you so. We are over-worked, over-committed, over-extended, stretched-thin, stressed-out, and burnt-out. We are too busy and we are too tired, and we will tell you about it. It seems like there is some kind of strange competition going on where we try to outdo each other with how busy and how tired we are. In a curious way, busyness has become a socially desirable good.

Kerby Anderson, in an essay “Time and Busyness,” puts it this way, “Being busy is chic and trendy. Pity the poor person who has an organized life and a livable schedule. Everyone, it seems, is running out of time.”

We are a busy, busy people these days, and ask somebody how they are doing, and you’re more than likely going to hear about how worn-out they are. We didn’t need a national survey to tell us what we already knew: we are, in many ways, a weary people.

The pace of modern life has picked up, with keyboards clicking and computers crunching and cell phones chirping with their instantaneous messages around the globe. Contradicting the optimistic predictions of people in the 1950s and 1960s, these technological feats have not led to more leisure time for Americans. Quite the contrary. Most people are busier than ever. The average workweek has increased rather than decreased in the last thirty years.

Kerby Anderson quotes a Manhattan architect, who designs automated environments, as saying, “Technology is increasing the heartbeat. We are inundated with information. The mind can’t handle it all. The pace is so fast now, I sometimes feel like a gunfighter dodging bullets

And we are not just physically tired. The Germans have a good word for this other kind of weariness: weltschmerz, which means “world weariness.” We are wearied by many things in our lives. In our work lives, people speak of being tired of the rat race, the daily grind, or climbing the corporate ladder. In our political lives, people are tired of broken promises, empty rhetoric, and partisan bickering. In our personal lives, we are tired of being alone, tired of the bar scene, tired of the routine. We are tired of feeling angry all the time, or feeling afraid all the time, or feeling worthless all the time.

In so many ways we are a tired and weary people.

In our gospel lesson, Jesus addresses the weariness and busyness of his apostles. We are told that the apostles gathered around Jesus and told him all that they were doing and all that they were teaching, and, apparently, they were very busy. They were so busy, we are told, that they didn’t even have time to eat. So many people were coming and going, that they didn’t even have a chance to grab something on the go. So Jesus’ words to them must have felt like cool, refreshing water to people who are slaked with thirst. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”

How refreshing this response must have been to his weary disciples. Notice Jesus didn’t respond to the apostles’ reports about what they were doing by going over a new strategic plan. Notice he didn’t respond to their reports of what they were teaching by going over a new curriculum. No. He said to his weary apostles, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.”

Don’t we all long to hear these words spoken to us by our Lord? Don’t we all desire to hear the invitation to come to a place all by ourselves and simply rest a while in the presence of our gracious God?

No doubt our faith requires us to do certain things as well as believe certain things. No doubt we are created to find meaning and value in the work we do, especially when it is done to the greater glory of God and the service and up-building of our neighbors. But our weariness in what we do and our pervasive busyness are signs that something isn’t quite right.

To put it in contemporary terms, our pervasive business and weariness are signs of the failed illusion that we are in control of our lives, that we are self-made men and women. To put it in theological terms, they are signs of the illusion that we can make ourselves right with God through our actions and beliefs. Since these are illusions, we need to keep propping them up. We keep adding one more thing to our to-do list, rather than take some time and reflect on why we are doing all these things.

And rather than see weariness as a sign that something is out of whack, we take it as a sign that we are making headway. See how busy and weary I am? Doesn’t that mean that I am valuable? Doesn’t that somehow make me worthy of admiration? Doesn’t that merit at least a little divine favor?

When the apostles gathered around Jesus, they told him all that they were doing and all that they were teaching. They were so busy, so many people were coming and going, they didn’t even have time to eat. And Jesus said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.

Our Lord knows what we need, even when we do not. When we gather around him, we may want to tell him all the things we have done and all the things we have taught others. We hold up before him our busyness and our weariness as objects worthy of praise and reward. We tell him that we have been so busy that we haven’t even had time to eat. And we say to ourselves, surely all these things will prove how important and valuable we are.

And our gracious Lord looks past all our illusions and he doesn’t even mention them, because if he did, he would have to remind us that all that we are and all that we do are gifts from God in the first place. Rather, he looks into our hearts and sees what we truly desire, what we truly need. He makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us beside the still waters and restores our souls. And he says to us, “Come away to a place all by yourselves and rest a little while with me.

-- The Rev. Dr. Joseph S. Pagano is rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Baltimore, MD. He received a Ph.D. in theology from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI.