19 July 2006

Tennessee and "APO."

The following was emailed today to all the congregations of the Diocese of Tennessee:
July 11, 2006

Dear Friends,

The Bishop and the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Tennessee have received several requests and suggestions that they consider asking for Alternative Primatial Oversight of the Diocese of Tennessee. The Bishop and the Standing Committee take these requests seriously and receive input from and listen to all concerns that are voiced within the diocese.

At their meeting on July 11, 2006, the Committee and the Bishop discussed at length the present situation in the church, the requests they had received and possible actions to be taken. The reality is that the Bishop and the Standing Committee have no authority to request Alternative Primatial Oversight. Only the Annual Convention could initiate such a request.

There are a host of unknown factors related to Alternative Primatial Oversight. Neither we nor those dioceses who are proposing such an action know what that would look like, how it would work and what the effect would be on a diocese. The Archbishop of Canterbury apparently does not know what it means. He said of requests by U.S. Dioceses for direct primatial oversight from outside the U.S., “This raises very large questions indeed; various consultations are going forward to clarify what is being asked and to reflect on possible implications.” To pursue such a course does not seem wise or prudent with the upcoming Episcopal Election. To do so could jeopardize receiving consents from other bishops of jurisdiction and Standing Committees.

The Bishop and the Standing Committee will continue to be in dialogue about the critical issues that face us in this diocese as we work to find ways to empower and strengthen our mission.

Thank you for your concern for our church.

The Right Reverend Bertram Nelson Herlong, D.D.
Bishop of Tennessee

The Rev. Gene Wise
President, Standing Committee

I know of one of those parishes making a request for "APO" (and it's not St. Joseph of Arimathea), but not the others. Attempting to place myself in a disinterested mode and so expressing no opinion as to whether "APO" would or would not be a good thing for the Diocese of Tennessee, at some point one wonders just exactly what the Standing Committee can do. After all, apparently other Standing Committees can make such an appeal.


Blogger Alan said...

I suspect that in truth the issue of APO is uncharted water. There are some areas, the rules for electing a new bishop, for instance, which are local option. Is this an area which might legitimately depend on the diocese? I personally have no idea.

My biggest concern is that if we deadlock again on a coadjutor, or select a compromise candidate, we will go to the Diocesan Convention in January with no episcopal leadership at all.

19 July, 2006 17:10  
Anonymous Scott K said...

I doubt whether it is correct to say that the Bishop and SC do not have the power to request APO. The only guidance we have at all is the precedent set by other dioceses, and that's how they did it. So I'm not sure I buy the reasoning.

However, I am pretty sure that I support the conclusion... I don't think that we need to rush into APO at this time. We don't know what it would look like or how it would work, for starters. But beyond that, I don't know that we have a reason to request APO yet. Nothing is really different now than it was before GC. Let's at least wait and see if the new PB-elect is worse than the outgoing one. She may be; but she may surprise us.

And I agree that a request for APO will make it harder, if not impossible, to elect a bishop in October. Afterward, if enough of us feel that APO is needed we can still bring it to a vote at convention in January regardless of who the Bishop is.

19 July, 2006 21:16  
Anonymous Scott K said...

Another thought - what kind of vote would be needed to pass a resolution at convention to request APO? Would it only take a simple majority (most likely by orders)? I'll have to look for the vice-chancellor at church on Sunday and ask her what she thinks :)

19 July, 2006 21:20  
Blogger PSA+ said...

I don't know that APO makes sense for a Diocese as divided as ours. It was just the reason given in the letter that surprized me. Much better for the Standing Committee to have said, "we believe this is a bad idea/this is the wrong time, and here's why."

20 July, 2006 07:23  

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