21 June 2006

Quincy Speaks.

The Rt. Rev'd Keith Ackerman, Bishop of Quincy, writes to his diocese:

Beloved in Christ,

Here we are – the final day of General Convention, and still no response to the Windsor Report. This impasse is everything that the Presiding Bishop had hoped would not happen. In fact the legislative process was set up in such a way that he had hoped to have resolved the Windsor matters by Saturday, so that the election of a new Presiding Bishop could stand by itself. Clearly the Episcopal Church is in severe trouble. Many people have already gone home. There is even some question about whether we will have a quorum. As I have observed the bishops from overseas, including the Archbishop of York, I have seen signs of disbelief on their face. They had been assured that The Episcopal Church would be “Windsor compliant.” Indeed, the Presiding Bishop had only invited the most “leftward leaning” overseas bishops, but even they are clearly mystified. One said to me that the House of Bishops is devoid of any theological reasoning. It seems that years of anecdotalism and “sharing our stories” has brought the House of Bishops to a place of being unaware of how to express theological and biblical principles. Several communications from the Archbishop of Canterbury reveal a very deep fear that this could be the end of The Episcopal Church as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion. The massive shrinkage of the Episcopal Church since the last General Convention is now so severe that it has been impossible for anyone to spin it otherwise. Even the theme “Come and Grow” was an attempt to focus on the fact that without growth there will be no Episcopal Church. In fact it was stated that the average age of an Episcopalian today is 59 years old! Moreover the election of a presiding bishop who permits homosexual marriage in her diocese, has only been ordained for 12 years has been a bishop for only 5 years, has never been the rector of a parish, and is the bishop of a diocese about the size of the Diocese of Quincy, with the majority of clergy not being seminary trained, has sent shock waves throughout the Communion.

This morning there will be an unprecedented joint meeting of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops due to the fact that the House of Deputies yesterday rejected Windsor Resolutions twice! The Presiding Bishop has even said there may be a “Mind of the House” statement from the House of Bishops if the House of Deputies does not pass a Resolution. This would be a huge mistake because the Presiding Bishop three years ago told the Primates that he could not respond, nor could the House of Bishops respond, to their outrage over the last General Convention. He said that only General Convention has that authority. A mind of the House Resolution would call into question the Presiding Bishop’s claims.

Again, I have seen the various news reports from ENS and the Convention Daily, and I wonder which Convention they are covering. The pall over this Convention has not made it into their reports. In addition, the Diocese of Fort Worth has announced that its Standing Committee has voted to request that the Archbishop of Canterbury provide Alternative Primatial Oversight. As one Lambeth observer opined, “This is just the beginning.”

I am very humbled to be with our people from the Diocese of Quincy. We gather daily for prayer. We attend Mass together, we eat together virtually every night, and we spend a great deal of time enjoying God’s presence among us. Some have had to go home. Bishop Parsons and Canon Ed Monk left yesterday as did Fr. Michael and Louisa Brooks. Today Tad Brenner and Canon Ed den Blaauwen will leave. Those of us remaining are Canon H.W. and Ginger Herrmann, Fr. John Spencer,Dean Robert, Chris, and Laura Munday, Lynn Funk, Joan Quigg, Toby and Sally Karlowicz, and Fr. Steven Lally. We are probably the most united group of people I have ever seen at the many General Conventions I have attended.

All of us are extremely grateful for your prayers for us and for this severely divided Church. And when I say I can’t wait to get home……………….I really mean it!

Blessings in His Holy Name,

Bp. Keith L. Ackerman, SSC

 

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