QUINCY: Diocese offers 'resource' for making realignment decisions
In a cover letter, the diocesan Standing Committee said that the 35-page document resulted from requests following a meeting last May attended by "all priests with a parish, mission or cure" and all elected officials of the diocese, clergy or lay. The reported purpose of the meeting was to begin "a discernment exercise where self-selected groups were asked to discern the following question: 'Shall the Diocese of Quincy separate from the Episcopal Church? If so, why and how? If not, then why not?'"
Called "The Church in Crisis: A Resource for the Diocese of Quincy," the document was included in a mailing sent to households on the mailing list of The Harvest Plain, the diocesan newspaper.
Also included in the mailing was a video recording of a presentation by Archbishop Gregory Venables, primate of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, to the Diocese of Forth Worth in March.
The Southern Cone has about 22,000 members and encompasses Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Its provincial synod, meeting in Valpariso, Chile, November 5-7, 2007, agreed to welcome into the province "on an emergency and pastoral basis" Episcopal Church dioceses "taking appropriate action to separate from The Episcopal Church."
Included with what the Quincy Standing Committee called a "fact sheet" are articles and quotations from various sources, some historical documents of the Anglican Communion and the official statement of the Global Anglican Future Conference, held June 22-29.
The committee's letter said that the package was created "especially as we prepare for our annual Diocesan Synod on November 7 and 8 at St. John’s Church in Quincy."
"We believe it provides a comprehensive view of the circumstances that the Church has come to be in, together with material concerning the ongoing Anglican realignment," the committee said.
Among the items included in the mailing were:
* an unattributed set of statistics including "TEC Trends 1965 to 2000," showing a purported 36.5% decline in membership and "Facts Regarding Youth," which claims to compare certain attributes of "Episcopal Youth" against "National Average General Populations;"
* a "Timeline of Defining Actions," dating from 1963 detailing statements and actions involved the debates over authority of scripture and human sexuality;
* an unattributed section called "Critical Facts of Life in TEC Now," alleging that "approximately 250 congregations or portions of congregations have left TEC since 2001" and that six overseas provinces are participating in a "rescue mission to protect American Episcopal and Canadian Anglican congregations who choose to maintain the Faith by separating from TEC and ACC;"
* an unattributed list of "Clergy Casualties 12/06 to 12/7," which claims to list clergy who have been deposed, removed or suspended from active duty or transferred to other provinces;
* various articles and commentary about proposed changes to Episcopal Church canons governing clergy misconduct;
* a series of quotations by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori that the Standing Committee says "express a heterodox theology that is foreign to classic Anglicanism;"
* a description of the Common Cause Partnership, which said in September 2007 that it intends to develop an "Anglican union" that it hopes will be recognized by some Anglican Communion primates and provinces; and
* a frequently asked questions section and a glossary.
When the Diocese of Quincy met in convention in October 2007, it passed resolutions paving the way for a possible split from the Episcopal Church. Diocesan spokesman, the Rev. John Spencer, said at the time that passing the resolutions "took the first steps, constitutionally, to make it possible to realign when the time is appropriate to do so."
Spencer said that Quincy leaders want to wait to see what other similarly minded dioceses decide. "We're trying to work as a unit with our sister dioceses, so it's not just one synod acting on its own," he said. "It's a timing issue."
In early October, the Diocese of Pittsburgh's convention will be asked to make the diocese a member of the Southern Cone.
-- Joe Bjordal is Episcopal Life Media correspondent in the dioceses of Provinces V and VI. The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is Episcopal Life Media correspondent for Episcopal Church governance, structure, and trends.» Respond to this article