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Diocesan Digest - August 3

8/2/2006

The Very. Rev. David DuPlantier, dean of Christ Church Cathedral, speaks with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin at the Jericho Housing announcement August 1.  

 
[Episcopal News Service] 
  • ALBANY: Standing Committee calls on diocese to 'step back'
  • ALABAMA: Episcopalians help church destroyed by arson
  • FORT WORTH: Standing Committee claims provincial membership not required
  • LOUISIANA: Jericho Road housing plan gets homes for redevelopment
  • LOUISIANA: Church café offers free meals
  • NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: Bishop explains participation in request for review of San Joaquin bishop
  • OLYMPIA: Dean shocked, saddened by shooting
  • WEST TEXAS: Parish looks for 'acceptable option' to Episcopal Church membership
  • WESTERN LOUISIANA: Bishop explains his stance


ALBANY:  Standing Committee calls on diocese to 'step back'

[SOURCE: Diocese of Albany] The Diocese of Albany's Standing Committee has issued a statement saying that time is needed to reflect on all that happened during the 75th General Convention.

"The history leading up to the 75th General Convention needs little introduction. It is important, however, to realize that much of the debate has been shaped by the secular media and groups within and without the Episcopal Church holding passionate views and agendas. It is important for this reason to step back," the statement says. "Some things can and must be clearly affirmed now. Some things will require theological reflection within the Communion which will necessarily take some more time."
 
Among the things that "what can and must be clearly said now" is the committee's opinion that the 75th General Convention "has willfully failed to meet both the spirit and letter of the Windsor Report in areas of human sexuality and to show proper regard for 'the bonds of affection' within the Anglican Communion."

That statement said that, while the committee finds Resolution B033 "an inadequate response to the Windsor Report," it will comply with its urging that bishops and standing committees "exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."
 
The committee said it stands "in solidarity and deepest sympathy with our sister Dioceses" who have appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Panel of Reference with various requests for oversight.

Since June 19, the dioceses of Central Florida (Orlando-based), Fort Worth (Texas), Pittsburgh, Springfield (Illinois), San Joaquin (California), and South Carolina have requested "alternative primatial oversight" from the Archbishop of Canterbury, while the the Diocese of Dallas has asked for "direct primatial oversight." No diocesan convention has yet ratified these actions and there has been no official response from Canterbury.
 
The statement's signers include Standing Committee member the Rev. William Love, who is also Albany's bishop-elect.
 
Read the full text of the statement.


ALABAMA: Episcopalians help church destroyed by arson
 
[SOURCE: Beliefnet] A new sanctuary is rising at the site of the Pleasant Sabine Baptist Church, which is one of five Birmingham-area churches burned by arsonists on February 3.

The sanctuary is about halfway done and could be completed by mid-September, said the Rev. Robert E. Murphy Sr., the church's pastor.

Many denominations and other organizations have helped Pleasant Sabine rebuild. Carol Williams, of the Episcopal Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, said her church collected $24,819 in donations, including money from other Episcopal congregations around Alabama.

"We have partnered with them to get as many materials donated as possible," she said.


FORT WORTH: Standing Committee claims provincial membership is not required

[SOURCE: Diocese of Fort Worth] The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Fort Worth, in a letter advocating its desire to withdraw from Province VII and form a tenth province based on theological affinity rather than geography, says "the historic faith and practice of the Church is no longer shared by its member dioceses."

The July 30 letter cites, among other things, bishops in the province who allow same-gender blessings, bishops who consented to the ordination of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson and the election of a woman bishop suffragan in Texas.

The standing committee claims that "to withdraw from this or any other geographic province would have no effect on our standing in The Episcopal Church, or in the Anglican Communion."

The General Convention assigns dioceses to provinces, with the consent of the dioceses. Article VII of the Church's Constitution provides for provinces and Title I Canon 9 says that the dioceses of the Church "shall be and are hereby united into Provinces." The canon goes on to list the membership of each of the Church's nine provinces.

The Fort Worth standing committee asserts that the members of the Anglican Communion Network have been functioning for three years as a province of the Episcopal Church.

The diocesan convention meeting November 18 is being asked to approve a resolution withdrawing from Province VII.

Not all Episcopalians in the Diocese of Fort Worth are in favor of the Standing Committee's action. The group Fort Worth Via Media is committed to continuing membership within the Episcopal Church.

Among the Episcopal Church's 110 dioceses, Fort Worth is one of three whose bishops refuse to ordain women, despite the General Convention's 1976 authorization to do so churchwide. This has been the longstanding position of the Fort Worth, Quincy and San Joaquin (based in Fresno, California) dioceses.

The Fort Worth diocese was the first to announce – the morning after the election of Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as the 26th Presiding Bishop – that it would seek "alternative primatial oversight." Since then, Central Florida (Orlando-based), Pittsburgh, Springfield (Illinois), San Joaquin (California), and South Carolina have followed suit, and the Diocese of Dallas has asked the Archbishop of Canterbury for "direct primatial oversight."

No diocesan convention has yet ratified these actions and there has been no official response from Canterbury.

Readhe full text of the Fort Worth resolution and the Standing Committee's letter.

Dioceses are formed and disbanded, under the Church's Constitution and Canons, by the General Convention, not by a diocese itself. In the meantime, people are free to leave dioceses or parishes but those communities remain a part of the Church.



LOUISIANA: Jericho Road housing plan gets homes for redevelopment

[SOURCE: Diocese of Louisiana] New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin announced August 1 that the Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative's application to develop adjudicated properties in the Central City neighborhood has been accepted.

Jericho Road was formed in March and is a partnership of the Diocese of Louisiana and Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD). ERD provided the initial funding of $2.3 million, which will be used for administrative management, property acquisition and construction. The funding from ERD, combined with planned financing from the Whitney Community Development Corporation, will result in an investment in the New Orleans Central City neighborhood of more $20 million.

Jericho Road is among 22 non-profit and for-profit developers winning approval for targeted neighborhood development. The effort seeks developers interested in developing mixed income communities in large-scale redevelopment projects. The specific number of properties allocated to each developer is based upon the application's score.     

Attending Nagin's announcement was Jericho Road Executive Director Brad Powers and Jericho Road board member, the Very Rev. David DuPlantier, Dean of New Orleans Christ Church Cathedral.

"This is a joyful day for the Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Initiative. The extensive ground work and preparation that we have accomplished in the recent months positions us to move quickly toward the vision articulated by Bishop Jenkins of creating not just houses, but homes and neighborhoods to promote the return of our displaced brothers and sisters," said DuPlantier.


LOUISIANA: Church café offers free meals

[SOURCE: New Orleans Times-Picayune] Serving neighbors, construction workers, the homeless, parishioners and volunteers in town to help rebuild houses, the Dragon Café at St. George's Episcopal Church in New Orleans offers free hot meals every Thursday and Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., or as long as the food lasts.

Free wireless Internet service is available, and often there is music – jazz on Thursdays and a gospel sing-along to piano accompaniment most Fridays.

Karen Mackey, parish administrator, told the Times-Picayune newspaper that the goal is to "provide nutritious meals packed with energy, so we concentrate on spaghetti, lasagna, red beans and rice, sometimes chicken."

The program is paid for by a grant from the Diocese of Louisiana, and the cooks are mostly volunteers from St. George's congregation, supplemented by members of St. Martin's and St. Philip's Episcopal churches, as well as individuals from all over the country.

Mackey explained that last fall many of the returned residents and workers "didn't have gas service, so couldn't cook, and it seemed like a natural to open up the café to serve them. Now we have anywhere from 120 to 170 each night. It's been absolutely wonderful, and we hope to continue over the next year."

The church is located on the famed St. Charles Avenue.

The meals are served cafeteria style, and then diners sit at tables for eight. Because the church sustained roof damage in the storm, and the repairs to walls and floors of the sanctuary haven't been completed, every Friday after the meal, everyone pitches in to remove the tables and line the chairs up for Sunday worship services.



NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: Bishop explains participation in request for review of San Joaquin bishop

[SOURCE: Diocese of Northern California] In his latest newsletter column, Bishop Jerry A. Lamb writes that he joined three other California bishops in asking the Title IV Review Committee to investigate San Joaquin Bishop John David Schofield because he believes the bishop and the diocesan leadership are putting in place a structure to leave the Episcopal Church.

"I found signing this letter to be very difficult and very unpleasant," he wrote. "The Church should be a place of refuge and renewal. But most of us find the institutional Church to be a very stressful place at this time. Hopefully, we will soon be in a time and place where we can once again be one with one another in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Lamb and fellow bishops J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles, James R. Mathes of San Diego and then-diocesan William E. Swing of California sent the letter to Bishop Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina in mid-July. The letter cites Canon 9 of Title IV of the church's canons, entitled "Of Abandonment of the Communion of This Church by a Bishop."

Facsimiles of their correspondence, posted on the Internet, apparently show that the bishops claimed evidence of abandonment in San Joaquin's action at its last diocesan convention, when it changed its constitution to qualify its agreement to submit to the Episcopal Church's Constitution and Canons. Article V, Section 1, of the Constitution says that a diocese's constitution must accede to that of the Episcopal Church.

At its last convention, the diocese changed its constitution to read that the diocese would accede "to the extent that such terms and provisions, and any amendments thereto, adopted by the authority of the General Convention, are not inconsistent with the terms and provisions of the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of San Joaquin..."



OLYMPIA: Dean shocked, saddened by shooting

[SOURCE: St. Mark's Cathedral] The Very Reverend Robert V. Taylor, dean of St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, has expressed shock, grief and sadness at the violence that took place on July 28 at the offices of the Jewish Federation in Seattle. One staff member of the Jewish Federation was killed and five others injured.

"On behalf of the people and staff of Saint Mark's Episcopal Cathedral I extend our prayers and deepest sympathies at this tragic loss and senseless action," said Taylor. "Even in the face of such senseless action we are bound together in the heart of prayer."

Taylor spoke of the deep interfaith commitments and relationships in the Seattle area among Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders and groups, saying, "I pray that the good work we have been doing together will be a foundation upon which to re-commit ourselves to deeper understanding and relationship at the local level. We have much to do in a world that is increasingly divided by religion, violence and war."



WEST TEXAS: Vestry, clergy want "acceptable option" to Episcopal Church membership

[SOURCE: Christ Church in the Hill Country] The clergy and vestry of Christ Episcopal Church in San Antonio have written to West Texas Bishop Gary Lillibridge, telling him that "when the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates offer us an acceptable option, we will disassociate from the Episcopal Church."

"It is our firm intent to continue our membership in the Anglican Communion and in covenant relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury with constituent member status.  We sincerely hope that we can do this with the support and in partnership with our diocese," the vestry wrote in a July 26 letter.

The letter also asks Lillibridge to take what it admits is the "drastic measure" of seeking "alternative primatial oversight."

Since June 19, the dioceses of Central Florida (Orlando-based), Fort Worth (Texas), Pittsburgh, Springfield (Illinois), San Joaquin (California), and South Carolina have done the same. The Diocese of Dallas has asked the Archbishop of Canterbury for "direct primatial oversight." No diocesan convention has yet ratified these actions and there has been no official response from Canterbury.

Lillibridge has not made such a request. He has said that the Church needs reforming and is committed to that work, calling his attitude one of being "historically and spiritually patient enough for God to work in and through our brokenness."

"It does not require us to give up on what we believe as Anglicans and as Episcopalians who have been nurtured and cared for by this expression of Christianity," he wrote in a recent statement.

Parishes are created or closed by dioceses and, under the Church's Constitution and Canons, the formation or elimination of a diocese is decided by the General Convention, not by a diocese or group of dioceses. In the meantime, individuals are free to leave dioceses or parishes, but those communities remain a part of the Church.

Read the text of the Christ Church letter.

Read the text of Lillibridge's post-Convention statement.



WESTERN LOUISIANA: Bishop explains his stance

[SOURCE: Diocese of Western Louisiana] Bishop D. Bruce MacPherson has written to his diocese saying that in the light of the "anxiety" he senses in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, "we must not allow ourselves to be entrapped in ditches and cease to do the mission of the Church..."

The anxiety "has created not only a sense of frustration amongst people, but a multitude of emotions. People everywhere are looking for answers, and want them now," he wrote.

The bishop wrote that he has not joined seven other dioceses in requesting a different relationship with the Anglican Communion because "One of the things that I have held up before this diocese, and this being from the onset of my episcopate here, is that I do not act unilaterally on issues that effect the entire diocese. There is a canonical process for this, and it is our diocesan convention."

He said he has not become a "Network bishop," referring to those 13 bishops who have joined the Anglican Communion Network, because "I made a conscious decision when ordained some twenty-six years ago, not to affiliate with any group outside of the official action of the Episcopal Church or Anglican Communion."

MacPherson wrote that he calls himself a "Windsor Bishop" because he believes the way forward for the Church is compliance with the Windsor Report, most especially in terms of refraining from ordaining gay and lesbian people to any order of ministry or allowing same-gender blessings.

While reiterating that the diocese remains in the Episcopal Church, he distanced himself from its leadership. "I cannot identify with, nor support, the national leadership of the church and the direction in which they have and continue to take the church, for they have chosen to 'walk apart.' Therefore, as we look ahead to the response to come, it will be important for us as a diocese to seek to follow the process that will ensure our place and recognition, as constituent members of the Anglican Communion, in communion with the See of Canterbury," MacPherson wrote.

MacPherson said he was sharing remarks he has made to five post-General Convention meetings with everyone in the diocese. Read the full text.