Not Wacky Tobaccy
In case you were at the Diocese of Tennessee Annual Convention, that wasn't a big fatty; it was this!
Father Allen's Bulletin Board: miscellania, ecclesiana, arcana, americana, desiderata, addenda, effluvia, errata, etcetera...
THERE IS ANOTHER DETAIL in Book of Daniel which rings untrue: Daniel's church is packed with people every Sunday. The Episcopal Church is actually dwindling in size, a decline accelerated by recent controversies over sex and theology.
Episcopalians are an increasingly tiny minority in America. But because the church of the chronically well-heeled has been on top of the American social, economic, and political heap for much of the last 400 years, Episcopalians have always been considered fair game for mockery.
Book of Daniel only accelerated that mockery. Canceled after only a few episodes, the aborted series at least chronicled one of America's most famously failed experiments in liberal religion.
A Statement regarding the affiliation of the Episcopal Church U.S.A. with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Right Reverend Sir,
Two weeks ago, on the 12th of January, the Executive Committee of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America formally affirmed the affiliation of the Episcopal Church with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a registered political lobby. As you know, sir, abortion remains a matter of deepest controversy among this Church’s membership and is perhaps the most contentious issue in American public life. So it should come as no surprise that I and many Episcopalians in this Diocese are profoundly troubled by this action of the Executive Committee and cannot in good conscience support an organization which promotes an act we believe to be gravely contrary to Christian morality. The literature and website of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice reveal that it advocates positions specifically at odds with those of the Episcopal Church as expressed by a resolution of the 1994 General Convention declaring that, “As Christians, we believe strongly that if [the right to abortion] is exercised, it should be used only in extreme situations. We emphatically oppose abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection, or any reason of mere convenience.” Indeed, His Grace the Most Reverend Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote recently in England’s Sunday Times newspaper, that, “For a large majority of Christians – not only Roman Catholics, and including myself – it is impossible to regard abortion as anything other than the deliberate termination of a human life.”[i] It is certainly true that many of our ecumenical partners, including the Roman Catholic Church, are utterly opposed to the agenda of groups such as the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and this affiliation will unquestionably hamper these relationships and our striving together toward the unity in mission and ministry for which our Lord prayed.
The effect of this action of the Executive Committee, an action which involves the Diocese of Tennessee and every Episcopalian, is to preempt dialogue, further dividing an already polarized Church by taking away one more plot of middle ground upon which we could meet and seek, in charity, to persuade one another.
Therefore, Right Reverend Sir, I respectfully ask that you, the Standing Committee, and the Bishop & Council give prayerful consideration to disassociating the Diocese of Tennessee from this unwise and unwarranted action of the Executive Committee. I further ask that this Statement be included in the record of this Annual Convention of the Diocese of Tennessee. Thank you.
The Reverend Patrick S. Allen
Rector, the Church of St. Joseph of Arimathea
[i] “People are starting to realize,” The Sunday Times. 20 March 2005
A Resolution to Amend Canon 23 (Sec. 3A)
Resolved, that Canon 23 (Section 3A) of the Canons of the Diocese of Tennessee be amended to read as follows:
It is the duty of each congregation established within the Diocese of Tennessee to contribute its share of the annual budget of the Diocese, including its share of its pledge to the National Church, provided that each congregation be permitted to deduct that portion of its Fair Share designated to the National Church and send it directly to the National Church or other local, national, or international ministries designated by the congregation’s Vestry, and that a report of such contributions to the National Church or other ministries is made to the Bishop & Council. This provision expires no later than the 177th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Tennessee.
The 173rd Annual convention of the Diocese of Tennessee passed a resolution amending Canon 23 (3A) and Canon 15 (1) of the Canons of the Diocese of Tennessee as follows:
Canon 23 (3A): It is the duty of each congregation established within the Diocese of Tennessee to contribute its share of the annual budget of the Diocese, including its share of its pledge to the National Church, provided that each congregation be permitted to designate a portion of its Fair Share designated to the National Church to other local, national, and international ministries designated by the Diocese of Tennessee.
Canon 15 (1): “unless otherwise provided in these canons.”
The 173rd Convention further resolved that the Bishop be requested to appoint an ad hoc committee “representing the range of opinion among us to explore this vexing issue during 2005, and present a permanent and more satisfactory solution of this dilemma to the 174th Annual Convention.”
The proposed amendment to the canons is purposefully not permanent, but, it is hoped, might prove to be more satisfactory in the short term. The resolution recognizes that there are many in our diocese who, for the sake of conscience, cannot financially support the budget of the National Church in the wake of the controversial actions of the 74th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. There are also many in the Diocese who, agreeing or disagreeing with the 74th General Convention’s actions, believe that it is a necessity of our Episcopal polity and biblical stewardship obligations to provide such support to the National Church. The proposed resolution is intended to recognize this tension and “make room” for opposing consciences until some greater clarity is made manifest in the life of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, which clarity we may prayerfully hope for by the time of the 177th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Tennessee. In this interval, in addition to whatever else the Holy Spirit might work among us, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church will have met and been given opportunity to comply, or not, with the norms enjoined in the Windsor Report, and also the Lambeth Conference of Bishops will have met. Under the proposed canonical amendment, the provision allowing for directed giving will expire as of the 177th Annual Convention, so that, unless that or a subsequent Convention intervene, all congregations of the Diocese will be required to fund their share of the Diocese’ obligation to the National Church. Should the proposed amendment fail, the canons will remain in force as currently written, allowing for congregations to designate the National Church portion of their Fair Share pledge to “other local, national, and international ministries designated by the Diocese of Tennessee.”
The Rev’d Patrick Allen
St. Joseph of Arimathea, Hendersonville
The Rev’d Mickey Richaud
The Rev’d James Guill
St. Andrew’s, Nashville
Dr. Richard Light
Ms. Susan Huggins
St. David’s, Nashville
The Hon. Debra Young Maggart
St. Joseph of Arimathea, Hendersonville
Mr. Newton Molloy
St. Paul’s, Murfreesboro
Mr. Scott Kammerer
St. Bartholomew’s, Nashville
The Very Rev’d Ken Swanson
Christ Church, Nashville
Dr. Maura Campbell
Holy Cross, Murfreesboro
Mr. Pete Stringer
Christ Church, Nashville
I looked at the "Clergy for Choice Pledge" on the RCRC website and found this,
with which I fully agree:
"We honor the value and dignity of all human life, but recognize that different religious traditions hold different views regarding when life begins and when ensoulment occurs. Because of these honest disagreements and because we live in a society where all are free to live according to their own consciences and religious beliefs, we do not believe any one religious philosophy should govern the law for all Americans."
“As civil and canonical legal matters have unfortunately become a large part of church life for many faithful Episcopalians, it became clear to me that the Network needed to offer formal legal support to our affiliates. Mr. Stephens, with over 35 years of experience as a corporate litigator in Los Angeles, is a leading expert in church law and an obvious choice for the role,” said Bishop Duncan...
The ACN, which was formed just two years ago, continues to grow daily. Presently, affiliates include over 1000 parishes and 2500 clergy, 10 dioceses and 6 convocations, and an estimated 250,000 communicants. From the ACN website.
While on the abortion topic, here's some good reading:
Frederica Mathewes-Green, From Pro-Choice to Pro-Life
Frederica Mathewes-Green, Seeking Abortion's Middle Ground
Mary Ann Glendon, The Women of Roe v. Wade
Nathan Schleuter, Robert Bork, Constitutional Persons: An Exchange
Candace Crandall, 30 Years of Empty Promises
Stephanie Simon, Offering Abortion, Rebirth [a day at an abortion clinic - PSA+]
I will be there and happy to talk through this. However, let me say beforehand that my perspective has changed somewhat since this conversation began. Two days ago, I learned that on 12 January the Executive Committee of the Episcopal Church formally affiliated ECUSA with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. The ENS article detailing the Executive Committee meeting is here. The RCRC website is here. You may consider at this point that my heels are well and truly dug in. Formally, there was some ambiguity (some, myself included, would say incoherence) in the ECUSA General Convention resolutions re abortion – support for legality of the procedures, but questioning the morality of most elective abortions, indeed encouraging priests to be ready to offer sacramental absolution to women who have aborted their unborn children; the public policy question was separated from the moral-theological question. However, by affiliating with RCRC, the Executive Committee has now resolved that ambiguity in favor of a clear pro-abortion position. It is no longer a matter of connecting the dots between support of ECUSA and support of pro-choice organizations, but of a bright line running from the individual giver, to the parish, to the Diocese, to the National Church, to the RPRC and its agenda.
I will not materially support that agenda, or a church that supports that agenda; to do so is to become knowingly complicit in evil – and I use that word advisedly. So, I am holding out for a clear segregation of funds in the Diocesan budget. We can offer a method for doing this to the Annual Convention, or we can leave it to the B&C, but folks like me will not support the National Church, even if we must practice a kind of “civil disobedience.”
Finally, I would ask you to consider this: by taking such a strong position on the most contentious and morally-freighted issue of our time, and particularly doing so at the height of the divisions we already suffer, is it not plain that the entrenched powers-that-be in the Episcopal Church are not only being disingenuous when they speak of reconciliation and tolerance, but are actually intent on driving every evangelical- and/or catholic-minded Episcopalian out of the Church?
On Jan. 8, 1956, five American missionaries were speared and hacked to death by a group of Auca Indians in the deepest jungles of Ecuador, making headlines around the world. A movie commemorating the 50th anniversary of the event--and the stranger-than-fiction tale that followed--is being released today. "End of the Spear," based on a 2005 book by Steve Saint, the son of one of the slain missionaries, will be shown in 1,200 theaters across the country... Continue reading.
Living in the Darkness: Episcopalians and the Ethics of Abortion
The Episcopal Church has supported a woman’s right to an abortion for a good long time. Pontifications readers may recall my article about the Episcopal Church’s support of the March for Women in 2004. I daresay that the overwhelming majority of both clergy and laity support the legality of abortion. They may have various ideas about the conditions under which a woman should abort her child, but few would deny her right to do so. I do not have any data to support my claim, but I believe it to be true.
On January 12th, the Executive Committee of the Episcopal Church formally approved the Episcopal Church’s membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
A Christian community that supports the unconditional legal right to abortion has ceased to be Christian; it has ceased to be Church. A Church that is not willing to stand against the evil of abortion cannot be the Church that Jesus Christ founded. The lampstand has been taken away.
If you belong to the Episcopal Church and if you believe that abortion is unjust killing, how can you in good conscience remain in communion with it? How can you remain an Episcopalian? The Episcopal Church has ceased to be “neutral” in this moral battle. It has joined the forces of darkness. Flee, for your soul’s sake!
Very early in my life as an Episcopalian, I think that I supported legal abortions in extreme circumstances. At least I think I did. My memory is hazy. I remember arguing that 97% of abortions are morally unjustifiable and therefore should be made illegal. I’m not sure where I got that 97% figure. But I figured that if we could eliminate 97% of abortions our society would become a dramatically more humane society. We could talk about the hard cases later.
At that time I still wasn’t certain in my mind when the fetus became a human person, whether at conception or after the time of twinning or perhaps later in the pregnancy. But none of that mattered. There is one thing we know for certain: At some point in time the fetus will become a human person and thus worthy of the full protection of the law. And if this is the case, then we had better be damned sure we know when that critical point is before we employ killing violence against the fetus. If we cannot specify when personhood begins, we must always side with human life. Ignorance does not justify possible murder. As Tertullian wrote, “It is anticipated murder to prevent someone from being born; it makes little difference whether one kills a soul already born or puts it to death at birth. He who will one day be a man is a man already.” We cannot say, may never say, the fetus may or may not be a human person, so it’s all right to destroy it. A society that is willing to kill possible persons is just as evil as a society that is willing to kill real persons.
“Human life is sacred and inviolable at every moment of existence, including the initial phase which precedes birth. All human beings, from their mothers’ womb, belong to God who searches them and knows them, who forms them and knits them together with his own hands, who gazes on them when they are tiny shapeless embryos and already sees in them the adults of tomorrow whose days are numbered and whose vocation is even now written in the ‘book of life’ (cf. Ps 139: 1, 13-16). There too, when they are still in their mothers’ womb—as many passages of the Bible bear witness—they are the personal objects of God’s loving and fatherly providence” (John Paul II, Evangelium vitae).
I know how difficult this issue is for all of us. All of our lives have been touched by abortion. Women and girls dear to us have had abortions. Perhaps you have had an abortion. We all walk in the darkness. None of us are without guilt. Now more than ever moral clarity is needed. I thank God for the firm, unwavering, and courageous witness of the Catholic Church.
For a recent discussion of the question when human life begins, see Anthony Kenny, “Life Stories.” I invite your comments on Kenny’s article.
Happy New Year – I hope this finds you well. Did you remember there was a “designated giving” committee and that you were on it? Me, neither. In any case, Bp. Herlong has asked for a report and possibly a resolution for the fast-approaching Diocesan Convention. Our charge, incorporated into the resolution passed last year is “to present a permanent and more satisfactory solution of this dilemma to the 174th Annual Convention.” The resolution passed at Convention last year amended the Canons as follows:
[Canon 23 (3A) is amended as follows:]
It is the duty of each congregation established within the Diocese of Tennessee to contribute its share of the annual budget of the Diocese, including its share of its pledge to the National Church, provided that each congregation be permitted to designate a portion of its Fair Share designated to the National Church to other local, national, and international ministries designated by the Diocese of Tennessee.
[and Canon 15 (1) is amended by adding the following words:]
“unless otherwise provided in these canons.”
It seems to me that the wisest thing to do at this point is to offer a brief report and/or simple resolution which takes into account the reality of our situation – namely, that many traditionalists among us will not support the budget of the National Church, and not simply as a means of protest but as a matter of conscience. Currently at my own parish, we make a pledge to the Diocese (based on an actual tithe of our income) and subtract a tithe from that amount which is then given to the Anglican Communion Network. Doing so allows me to tell my concerned parishioners that their giving to the parish will not support the National Church’s budget. However, I can tell you that that arrangement was and is a tough sell with many of our people, Vestry included. They do not even want their already discounted contributions going into a fund from which money is then distributed to the National Church.
Having said that, I do agree that this kind of “designated giving” is certainly an abnormal way to for us to relate within the Church. But, again, I do think these are abnormal times; there is no need to rehearse the details of how this has been manifested, but suffice it to say that the actions of the 2003 General Convention precipitated a time of abnormal relating with the Anglican Communion. So, I would suggest that we explicitly acknowledge this tension by placing a “sunset” clause on the provision for designated giving. Perhaps we could structure the resolution so the matter must be reconsidered at the 2009 Diocesan Convention; this would be the first Diocesan Convention following the 2008 Lambeth Conference, by which time we may hope some clarity will have emerged.
As a further consideration, Bp. Herlong would like to see the Diocese (and the resultant budget wars at Convention) removed from the equation. In other words, he would prefer that congregations support, or not support, the National Church directly. I guess that’s fine by me and the makes the Bishop & Council’s life easier. I would make this subject to the same sunset provision and ask that parishes report to the secretary of the Convention of the B&C or whoever is appropriate.
So, my suggested revision of Canon 23 (3A) would be something along the lines of the following:
It is the duty of each congregation established within the Diocese of Tennessee to contribute its share of the annual budget of the Diocese, including its share of its pledge to the National Church, provided that each congregation be permitted to direct the portion of its Fair Share designated to the National Church to other local, national, and international ministries designated by the congregation’s Vestry, and that a report of such contributions to the National Church or other ministries is made to the Bishop & Council. This provision expires as of the 107th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Tennessee.
Those are my thoughts, and my thoughts only. One alternative would be simply to submit a brief report stating that we were unable to devise “a permanent and more satisfactory solution of this dilemma.” (That was my initial thought before I started getting phone calls from the Bishop and his Canon.)
Obviously, time is short. Please respond to the whole list with your own thoughts and suggestions as to how to move forward. It may be necessary that we meet. I could be available any afternoon on the Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday (23-25 January) preceding the Convention.
Patrick Allen+, Chairman