Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Now It's Official

The following report was written by Auburn Faber Traycik. I have been sitting on this until it appeared on Virtue Online

JUST WEEKS after an Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK) bishop voiced serious frustration with longstanding divisions in the mainstream Continuing Church, he and nearly all parishes and clergy of his diocese have left the APCK for the Anglican Church in America (ACA). In a July 23 letter lamenting the APCK's failure to advance dialogue begun with the ACA and another leading Continuing body, the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC), a few years ago, Eastern States Bishop Rocco Florenza told new APCK Archbishop James Provence that 12 of the 14 congregations in the eastern diocese are realigning with the ACA, and that he is going with them...

See the rest here.

Bishop Florenza's letter to the bishops of the Province of Christ the King:

Dear Archbishop Provence:

This letter is to advise you and bishops Wiygul and Morrison that I have received notification that the following parishes and missions within my diocese have elected to separate from the Province of Christ the King and have affiliated with the Anglican Church in America , a body of faithful, traditional Anglicans with whom we are in communion:

1. Anglican Church of the Resurrection, Ansonia, CT
2. Anglican Church of the Ascension, Manchester, CT
3. Holy Apostles Anglican Church, Peewaukee, WI
4. Saint Mary the Virgin Anglican Church, Liverpool, N.Y.
5. Saint Alban's Anglican Church, State College, PA
6. Saint Mark's Anglican Church, Benton, KY
7. Saint Anne's Anglican Church, Columbus, OH
8. Saint Paul's Anglican Mission, Crystal Lake, IL
9. Saint Matthew's Anglican Mission, Custer, WI
10. All Souls Anglican Mission, Schylerville, N.Y.
11. Saint Michael's Anglican Mission, Albany, N.Y.
12. Saint Therese Anglican Mission, Washington, N.J.

In charity and in accordance with the standing practice of the Province, I have exercised my authority as bishop ordinary to dispense them from the canons pertaining to the departure of parishes from this body. As well, I have issued letters dimissory to the clergy of those parishes and missions so that they may affiliate with the Anglican Church in America without interruption to their respective ministries and work for Christ

I have not granted these requests lightly, but after much prayer and reflection on the needs of the people and clergy under my pastoral care and on the future of Christ’s church as it is found in the traditional Anglican expression. I believe that I can do nothing less and remain true to Scripture, tradition and the foundational principles of our movement.

I have been a member of the clergy of this Province since its inception. Now, as a bishop. I must say that I no longer believe that it is possible to remain divided from those with whom we share the same Apostolic origins, the same theology and the same Sacraments. As stated in my recent pastoral letter to my diocese, such division stands in contradiction to the will of Christ, has been a stumbling block to our work for Him in the world, and has inflicted damage on the witness of the traditional Anglican expression. Our clergy recognize this, and, more importantly, our lay people well-know the cost of a fragmented witness. This was the reason for such great hope over our meetings in Fond du Lac two years past, and cause for such great disappointment when our Province, which had convened those meetings, did not move forward to build on that moment.

A community truly centered on Christ present in the Sacrament cannot be closed in upon itself, as though it were somehow self-sufficient; rather it must strive for harmony with other catholic communities. We cannot erect artificial barriers to the unity of the church based on old wounds and particularized views of communion based on those past events. We are called as the people of God to press forward together, to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Accordingly, I have requested that I be received into the Anglican Church in America, together with the people and clergy of the parishes and missions named above, to serve them as a pastor and bishop for such time as God allows me to so to do. This request has been granted and is effective this 23rd day of July, in the year of Our Lord 2007.

In Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Rocco A. Florenza

28 comments:

Ohio Anglican said...

Let us all pray for these parishes who have departed; and, pray equally for the Anglican Province of Christ the King.

There is an obvious sadness in all of this, anyway you look at it.

However, one of the key provisions of the original continuing churches is showing a positive here. The Canon Law of the ACC, APCK, UEC (and perhaps others - I'm not sure), provide for local ownership of their property. That is, the local congregation paid for the property and it is theirs to take with them if they change bishops/affiliation.

I believe the latter is a positive thing. We won't see lawsuits between the APCK and the departing parishes; it will be a clean break with less hard feelings than what we are now witnessing with TEC & departing parishes.

The Continuum was wise enough not to allow it's buildings to be owned by a national province/jurisdiction. In situations like this, it shows the intelligence of that decision.

Let us pray for both sides; and pray that there be as few as possible hard feelings over the break.

Brian McKee, nO/C.G.S.

Alan said...

This sort of denomination hopping is one of the things which gives the Continuing Churches a less than sterling reputation. However, perhaps some good will come of it, and eventually, after some thought, it may bring about more ingathering of the faithful. My prayers are with both the ACA and APCK.

Ohio Anglican said...

Actually, those who left ECUSA and founded the Continuum designed the Canon Law of the Continuing Churches to pruposely allow "denomination hopping". Why?

They had just come through struggles with ECUSA in which many parishes lost the buildings that they and generations of their families before them had built, bought and maintained. They had lost the cemeteries where the ancestors were buried to greedy ECUSA bishops and officials.

Many of the continuing parishes, like St James ACC in Cleveland, had to pay ECUSA to buy a building from ECUSA that in truth they already owned!!! They had to pay for it twice.

As I described above, owning their own properites, and being able to change jurisdictions is excatly how the founders of the Continuum purposely designed the Continuum. This ability to do "denomination hopping" was designed to keep the bishops honest, and to keep them from becoming dictators.

You can't have it both ways. It sounds to me like you are advocating another dictatorship like ECUSA/TEC or Rome. That is just why the Continuum was founded as it was to escape. That's why the property ownership Canons were designed as they were.

Brian McKee, nO/C.G.S.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Brian,

While I understand the reasoning, which was historically conditioned, behind the "local ownership" rule, which I think even made it into the Affirmation of St Louis. But I have strong reservations about it in a Catholic context. It seems redolent of a congregationalist polity. While it, arguably, does force the hierarchy to "be nice", it may also encourage the local parishes to self-will and unreflective separation.

Ohio Anglican said...

Fr. Kirby:

If the congregations truly follow and are taught the catholic faith, they will not lightly use their right to pull out of a jurisdiction.

This right was put in place by the Affirmation of St. Louis to, as you say, make the bishops "be nice", and as a safeguard against apostasy or heresy. A bishop is not nearly as likely to teach or practice apostasy if he knows the churches under his care can literally walk away.

Unfortunately, churches have walked away, and participated in "denomination hopping" for reasons less than apostasy or heresy. This is wrong, and shouldn't happen, of course.

It is up to the clergy, vestrypersons, layreaders, Christian education leaders, etc., to teach the catholic faith and to teach that the "we'll walk" option is wrong unless apostasy or heresy is being practiced.

Brian McKee, nO/C.G.S.

agrarian said...

Since my initial reaction to this news was to cheer, I was taken aback when I detected a somber tone in the initial comments posted to this thread. But then my understanding of all the nuances of the history of continuing Anglicanism remains far from perfect. So let me state what I understand and I would appreciate it if others would correct me where I am wrong.

Although a member of the APA, I am more theologically in synch with the ACC and APCK, in no small measure because I enthusiastically support the Affirmation of St. Louis, which my current jurisdiction (frustratingly) will not formally adopt. But alas, with no local parishes extant, I do not have the option of joining either the ACC or APCK at this time. I only state this to make it clear that I am very much in agreement with the APCK's theology, even more so than my own jurisdiction's.

But the distinct impression I have formed from reading the consistent comments of so many more knowledgeable Continuers on this blog for so long is that the leadership of the APCK has had no genuine interest in pursuing union with other continuing jurisdictions, and, in fact, has deliberately sabotaged such initiatives at every turn. Thus, there is a strong impression given that the leadership of the APCK must necessarily be much more concerned with him (whoever is holding position) than with Him. And this, of course, is unacceptable in a Christian context where we, and bishops especially, are called to be power-averse, to die to the world and all its attachments.

If the APCK has truly become what can only be reasonably construed by an outsider as a self-perpetuating cult of personality (whether consciously or unconsciously), then Bishop Florenza is to be applauded for leaving it in order to pursue the unity which He demands, is he not? But then this would only be true if the ACA is recognized as a legitimate agent of Continuing Church unity. Is it?

My knowledge remains far too imperfect about the ACA and I have only encountered the most diverse opinions about it here. But what I see is this:

1) A third of the ACC merged with the AEC in 1991 to form the ACA.

2) Some sort of succession crisis occurred in 1995 (the nature of which I still do not understand because nobody will talk about it) which caused the APA to break away from the ACA.

3) The APA appears to represent the AEC side of the original ACA merger such that today's ACA can fairly be assumed to be dominated by the ACC defectors of 1991.

If my guess is accurate (and it remains a guess until those of you who were in the CC in the '90s talk about that which you do not wish to talk about for the necessary enlightenment of those of us who only came into the CC afterward), then today's ACC represents a de facto development of the "Big Three" of St. Louis. Furthermore, as a development, and not an original party, the ACA is perhaps uniquely situated, as a neutral agent, to reconcile the Big Three who heretofore have adamantly refused to reconcile themselves of their own accord. Thus, I am compelled to conclude (again with painfully imperfect knowledge) that Bp. Florenza has made the best possible move he could make when what He, not he, demands is kept front and center where it is required of all Christians to be. So I really cannot understand the somber tone here.

Again, my knowledge of CC history remains far too imperfect. My intention has not been to insult anyone, but rather to convey the impression formed from the limited information presented. Please correct me anywhere I am wrong. And believe me when I say that necessary comprehension will forever elude the vast bulk of laity (at least in the APA) who have entered the CC since GC 2003 until you "old timers" start explaining fully just what happened in the '90s.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Ohio Anglican (Brian McKee) has said that separation is right only in the case of apostasy and heresy; and Agrarian has mentioned the theological orthodoxy of the APCK. Let me say at once, the APCK is completely orthodox in its theology, and that was what drew me there in the first place.

But, in this case Bp. Florenza was faced with another reason for separation. The bishop is told in the Ordinal at the time of his consecration: "Be to the flock of Christ a shepherd, not a wolf; feed them, devour them not." The sad truth is, in the APCK it is impossible for a bishop to be a shepherd. Some, in my experience most notably +Frederick Morrison, have gone all the way to the opposite extreme of being a shepherd, and have been wolves all along. Faithful clergy, and sometimes whole congregations, have been devoured simply for falling out of favor, the way people fell out of favor in the Soviet Union.

No apostasy here or heresy, but nothing pastoral either. I am among the many "out of favor" clergy who know and can say quite boldy, Bishop Rocco Florenza has done what he had to do as a faithful shepherd to the flock of Christ. He is a hero.

Ohio Anglican said...

I think that it is overstating to say that the APCK has tried to stop unity from happening. I believe the APCK, like the ACC, has wanted unity, but not at the expense of uniting with a "vagante" group, or a group whose roots are questionable.

The APCK, UECNA, and ACC have recently affirmed their commitment to unity in a real and meaningful way, with their signatures on paper, and made publically, that they have made a commitment to unity. What more can anyone truly interested in unity really want?

I truly believe that these actions deserve our applause.

As the documents from the ACC, APCK, and UECNA read, it only makes sense that the efforts at unity BEGIN with the three jurisdicitons that have completely similar roots in the Chambers consecrations; and, that not just adhere to, but actually instituted the Affirmation of St. Louis.

If you read the documents carefully, it does not say that unity ends with the ACC, APCK and UECNA, they indicate it begins there.

Brian McKee, nO/C.G.S.

Ohio Anglican said...

Father Hart:

I would agree that in cases of a corrupt/immoral bishop, there might indeed be a need for a seperation.

An example would be the pedophile priest scandals in the RCC. If RC parishes had the option of owning their own properties and leaving, I suspect many would have left the RCC. In such a case where the bishops were sheltering and actually enabling immoral, sinful behaviour, then in that case, too, I believe leaving would be justified.

Brian McKee, nO/C.G.S.

Ohio Anglican said...

Sometimes we have to be very careful about leveling judgements about a jurisdiction being "vagante" because of numbers only on the surface. It sometimes takes a deeper investigation into the facts.

I have a friend with with two doctorates, one in history - one in theology, who is very proud to have been ordained by a small "continuing" church. He is a professor at a respectable theological seminary, who speaks five languages fluently. He was formerly a pastor in, and ordained by, a Protestant denomination.

However, his knowledge of church history and theology, made him realize the need to be ordained in Apostolic Succession.

At first glance, when he told me about it, the thought "vagante" kept jumping through my mind. Why? Because the jurisdiction has three parishes, and (as my friend told me) 40 clergyman. However, as I reconsider it, maybe I jumped to conclusions that I shouldn't have. I'm not sure yet to be honest.

He is ordained specifically to teach in a seminary, and in his "spare time" (of which he has little) is supposed to be attempting to organize a mission. Others were also ordained for teaching in seminaries. Most of the others were ordained as "missionary priests and deacons" to attempt to witness in their communities, visit prisoners, aid the poor, etc., with an eye toward starting new missions and parishes.

The Church of Rome ordained, in early times in America, lots of missionary priests and deacons to begin new missions and parishes. It was primarily done through various religious orders such as the Dominicans, Benedictines, etc. So it seems to me, ordaining "missionary clergy" can be a good thing, and a necessary thing.

I'm still not sure of the validity of the jurisdiction my friend was ordained by because of the time frame, and a bishop in the line. However, I realize that sometimes we must take many factors in consideration, and if a jurisdiction has good motives, remember than "conditional ordination" can cure problems of succession.

Brian McKee, nO/C.G.S.

poetreader said...

Brian,

Is there really "an obvious sadness in all of this, anyway you look at it?"

Recent astounding developments in the Continum seem to me to give great reason for hope and for joy, though a somewhat tempered joy, I must admit. What has happened? Well, in the first place, three CC jurisdictions have declared an intercommunion, which has been coupled (however distrustfully some of us may see it) with a vague hint that more unity is intended. That is a positive step to be celebrated. Unfortunately the major split in the CC, that between ACC and TAC/ACA shows no sign of healing just yet. I find this to be mitigated by the movement of one part of the first grouping into the second grouping. The boundaries are not as impermeable as they have been.

Yes, I rejoice in the steps taken by ACC/APCK/UECNA. I also rejoice in the decision of Bp. Florenza and 'his' parishes. I feel these two events both bode well for the ultimate healing of our unacceptable divisions.

I've stated before that I am convinced that all the structures that have been created among Continuing churches are no better than provisional, that all of them, without exception, are utterly unacceptable as permanent solutions. We are in a weird transitional time, from which either an authentic Anglicanism will emerge, or the whole enterprise will become but a memory. (I certainly hope and pray for the former outcome.) All the bickering is attempting to canonize one or another of the defective structures, and thus militates against restoring a real Catholic Anglicanism and preserving the indubitably valuable tradition with which we've been entrusted.

These two steps are both positive efforts in a right and constructive direction.

ed

BTW, Agrarian, you stated this:

"today's ACA can fairly be assumed to be dominated by the ACC defectors of 1991."

That is not a very accurate assessment. It can be noted, as merely one example, that our current Presiding Bishop comes from the AEC.

BTW, Brian.

I have to agree with Fr. Kirby that the strictly congregational ownership policy is one of the structures made necessary by the weird circumstances from which we emerged which simply don't stand up under historical/traditional/Catholic standards. Patristic opinion was pretty solid that the local congregation had no legitimacy aside from its bishop, thus, by logical extension, no independent ability to own anything. How to express this principle in practice does present some problems, shown most clearly in some of the unjust actions of TEC. However, much of the difficulty vanishes if we can come to realize how little importance property of all sorts has in our call to leave all and follow Him. If property issues are keeping any of us from doing as we believe the Lord is directing, then we have fallen into a species of idolatry. As Our Lord said, "Ye cannot serve both God and Mammon."

The problem, moreover, is not so much one of the freedom to move between denominations, but the unacceptable (I will even be so bold as to say evil) fact that there are denominations to choose between. If we have appeared to endorse their existence, we have erred, and that seriously.

ed

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Brian McKee wrote:
I think that it is overstating to say that the APCK has tried to stop unity from happening.

I am sorry that I have to disagree, seeing that the whole policy of the APCK was really the policy of only one man. Even the 2004 Fond du Lac show of unity was manipulated exactly as I have described, just to discredit future efforts at unity, and to make him look like the good guy who tried. The apparent unity of the ACC, UEC and APCK comes at a time that should raise at least a little skepticism. I still believe that it is all about the "emergency" caused by Bp. Florenza, and is all about isolation. It was the ACA and even FiF who were invited in 2004, not the UEC.

Ohio Anglican said...

Poetreader:

I agree that the ACC/APCK/UECNA agreement is an item of great joy.

I do see an obvious sadness in the departure of 12 parishes from the APCK to the ACA. Why? Because yet another schism only adds to the human emotions that lead to sinful pride, and harbored ill feelings. Secondly, the reception of these parishes by the ACA only widens, and drives a deeper wedge into the division between ACC/APCK/UECNA and the ACA.

It seems to me that it would have been much better for these parishes and Bishop Florenza to heal the division between themselves and the NEW archbishop of APCK.

It seems to me that it would have been both fair and charitable to have given the new archbishop a chance. Two or three weeks is hardly a fair chance.

Brian McKee, nO/C.G.S.

Ohio Anglican said...

Fr. Hart:

A fact that people seem to be ignoring. The ACC currently has 3 dioceses and/or missionary dioceses with a bishop. These unfilled episcopal sees have purposely been left unfilled so that there is room for unification between the ACC/APCK/UECNA can happen. ACC bishops are traveling themselves into exhuastion covering these dioceses to allow unity to have a chance.

I believe this to be obvious proof that the ACC/APCK/UECNA's efforts are not just a smoke screen, but indeed sincere and real.

Fr. Hart, we have to remember there has now been a change in the APCK. It is only fair to give Archbishop Provence a chance to show his intentions. Archbishop Morse was a careful man, who did not wish to rush into he might regret later. That is not a bad trait at all.

After the first step of unity between ACC/APPCK/UECNA will hopefully happen, the college of bishops of that jurisdiction will have to carefully consider with whom they can seek unity.

Improper/questionable orders can be fixed by "conditional ordinations/consecrations". They'll have to look at things like orthodoxy of teaching, is the jurisdiction an "ecumenical partner" or in communion with someone who is not orthodox, intention to truly evangelize and win souls to Christ, their past record on working well with other organizations, etc. There is a lot to consider, and much more to consider that I have probably left out.

It is better to work through things rationally and carefully than rush into agreements without forethought; and, then have another schism because of a rush to a false unity that won't hold.

Brian McKee, nO/C.G.S.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Brian McKee

I admire your ideals. First of all, I never have questioned the sincerity of the ACC in this whole matter (I know more than I can say right now). As for the UEC, I think they are glad finally to play ball with the big boys. But, about the APCK, this is a subject where I have direct knowledge. I know that my perspective is accurate, but I cannot fault you for simply not wanting to believe it. I don't want to belive it either.

Furthermore, I think that the jurisdictions, after thirty years, have shown they cannot rush into anything, except fragmentation. Bp. Florenza has not rushed into his decision, of that I can assure you.

I fail to see how Bp. Florenza's actions have caused further schism. As of the day before yesterday, when he took his diocese into safer patures, the number of jurisdictions has not increased.

As for the oft referenced Affirmation principle, of congregations owning their church property, I am impressed even more by the cleverness and subtlty of the APCK's Provincial Development Fund. What a clever way to get around that principle, and keep as many churches as possible under the thumb, directly under the power of the Council of Bishops. Even the Episcopal Church should be impressed with so sneaky a plot.

Has the PDF been a tool of manipulation, of asserting power and pressure, and even harming the clergy and congregations "out of favor" with the politburo? Yes.

Ohio Anglican said...

Father Hart:

I know less about the APCK than any other jurisdiction. My only real knowledge comes from hearing the people of the ACC speak well of the APCK as long as I have been a member of the ACC.

Coincidently, I've always heard the people of the ACC speak well of the UECNA as long as I have been a member of the ACC as well.

I can assure you the ACC and UECNA are sincere. I will bow to your knowledge of the APCK as you know far more about them than I do.

However, prayer can bring about wonderful changes. All of us on the ACC Members Yahoo Group several months ago discussed and agreed to pray for unity, especially among the ACC, APCK, and UECNA, each day in our prayers. The group is composed mostly of laity, but also deacons, priests and various officials.

I've never know a bishop to comment, but I'm sure they read what we're saying. It is a good forum for them to know how the sheep of their flock feel on various issues.

With God, all things are possible. I really feel badly about your bad experience as of late in the APCK. Know that the prayers of many of us are with you.

Brian McKee, nO/C.G.S.

Anonymous said...

First, having litigated any number of church property cases with ECUSA and even with at least one continuing body, there is wisdom in individual property ownership by parishes. Apart from the fact that it gives them a share hold, it does provide a check on the hierarchy and the potential for grabbing that which doesn't belong and running with it. (And there are horror stories aplenty in this regard even in the continuum, where there are few jewels to be plucked and many crumbs to be contested.) I think the possibility of "self-will and unreflective separation" is far outweighed by the checks enabled by local ownership of property. Witness the "catholic" result in connection with the sale of the parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston-many of them viable-to satisfy judgments for damages for the unspeakable acts committed elsewhere.



As to "denomination hopping", I have to say as the late-chancellor of the Diocese of the Eastern States (APCK), this assuredly is not an instance of it. These decisions were made, by the bishop, clergy and parishes, prayerfully after years of brokenness and "unity" talks that were little more than a sham. While I do not think at all useful or proper to open years of files that would prove out the point, having been at these "unity" meetings with the bishops as a chancellor and canonist to the Province, I believe I can speak with some authority when I say that there never was a true intent to join with anyone, at least where there was any degree of parity.



Among those of us involved, there is no view that there are "sides" in this, at least on the part of the DES folks and their bishop. Those who had to take this step have done so in the interest of the growth of the traditional Anglican expression joining with a larger body of believers with the same theology and Sacraments (and for pity's sake, please don't mention Deerfield Beach again, anyone) that is seeking to do the same.



While I think there may be a little wistfulness among those who had really no choice but to move forward, I think I am on safe ground in saying that there is a sense of hope and expectation that something has been done to begin to knit things together at long last.



So, I'd echo Ohio Anglican in saying let us pray for all involved, for the grace to lay aside old wounds and for the strength to do great things for Christ in sanctity and true unity.

In Christ,

Fr. Charles H. Nalls, SSM

Jack said...

As a member of an APCK church, I have been following these discussions of the last several weeks. And as one who cherishes both the truth of the Gospel and the unity of the brethren, I often find myself shaking my head with dismay over what seems an inexcusable snail's pace towards a fully shared communion. That being said I feel that some of the comments of Fr. Hart to be at times bordering on the incendiary. Referring to the leadership (Provence and Morse) of APCK as the "politburo" is rather shameful in my opinion.

Having read about Fr.Hart's apparent ill-treatment via Bishop Morrison and APCK, I find myself wondering if there is not some bitterness... some points to be made... and some scores to settle on his part. I don't bring that up lightly. But it seems that his experience (and others?) may have brought about the reverse of some of the admonitions found in 1Corinthians 13.

Fr. Hart, I am not questioning what happened to you. I am not privy to that. I am questioning how you, at times, seem to be handling it in this forum.

For those of us who know these men, these comments do not ring true nor foster a spirit of charity and unity.

Forgive me for so abruptly inserting myself into your discussions.

Jack

Jack said...

... and I would add, Lord be merciful to us all, for without Thy mercy we have no hope.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Jack

One year ago I would have said the same thing, so I know how you feel and what you think. To put it another way, they used to have me fooled too.

I must warn clergymen not to place their trust in men who allow, and who dish out, such treatment as has been dished out to Fr. Edwards, Fr. Novak, Fr. Nalls, and me. Frankly, the real list is much longer. However, I would not want you to leave the church you are in. For all I know you have a priest there who needs all the friends he can get- or soon might.

By the way, Jack; it is I who decided to publish your comment from the moderation list. I have nothing to hide.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I should add, for many years this kind of mistreatment has made victims out of quite a few faithful priests. For some reason, most of us are ready to suffer and take it, and do everything we can not to cause strife, not to make it into a scandal, etc. And, what is the result? The behavior from this particular crew only gets worse.

I was planning to be silent, and so said nothing for almost three months. But, as I learned more and more about the history of the APCK, and was told of more horror stories than I have related as yet, and of more good men being harmed than I have as yet named, and treatment dished out to churches as well (the foreclosure on Fr. Novak's church, the attempt to bring the St. Athanasius Mission in Virginia into debt, when it had been free and clear- and then by a dirty trick to my friend Fr. Charles Nalls, after he had suffered enough), it hit me. The cynical calculation of this group requires them to count on the good Christian character of their victims. They know we are predisposed to suffer, and so they get away with it and become bolder still.

My life would be a lot easier in some ways if I had played along. But then, I would incur guilt when the next man (and the family of the next man) suffers betrayal from this lot. Only by a miracle did my family avoid poverty and homelessness, and then bad credit and everything else. What about the next family?

Bp. Morrison, and his fellows who were letting him get away with it, need to know that the gigue is up.

Fr Samuel Edwards said...

Fr Hart writes,

< My life would be a lot easier in some ways if I had played along. But then, I would incur guilt when the next man (and the family of the next man) suffers betrayal from this lot. Only by a miracle did my family avoid poverty and homelessness, and then bad credit and everything else. What about the next family? >

As one of those who has experienced eerily similar treatment at the hands of a different member of “this lot,” I must again commend Fr Hart for his candor. His breaking of his silence on his experience of episcopal abuse is an example of the best reason for a priest – or indeed, for any Christian – to protest this sort of personal violation: To deter its infliction upon others. It is one thing to suffer in silence an injustice perpetrated solely upon oneself; it is an entirely different thing to be silent in the face of its infliction upon others. The former is commendable, even salutary; the latter is callous, even culpable.

The Apostle, St Paul, charges us to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest in the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, ‘Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.’” [Eph. 5:12-14] This is the charter for accountability and transparency in Christians’ dealing with one another – something which the episcopate above all should exemplify.

That at least two of five diocesan bishops in a province can conduct themselves in such a dishonorable and underhanded fashion – not once, but multiple times – suggests the presence of a malaise that is not solely individual but is the manifestation of a systemic spiritual disorder within that particular episcopal collegium. When the light is turned on it, there is only one proper response – repentance and amendment – but all too often what we get instead is either the sounds of silence or the shooting of the messenger.

Until our movement comes to grips with unhealthy patterns of episcopal behavior that are in principle no different from those that are now typical of the dead-church-walking that is ECUSA, there will be no progress toward the genuine reform and restoration of the unhyphenated catholicism of the Fathers. It is not enough to change institutions; hearts must also be changed.

Fr Samuel Edwards

poetreader said...

Amen.

Our Lord commended the Pharisees for their institutional status: "They sit in Moses' seat." But what things he said about their hearts! So much is said of that in Scripture, that it would seem necessary that a major concern of self-examination would be to find and eliminate the slightest such tendency.

I don't know about anyone else (and really shouldn't), but I am constantly appalled at how much of that I find in myself. Lord, help us all.

ed

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I was unwilling to approve a comment that was ad hominem against Fr. Samuel Edwards and me. I can let such a thing go by if I am singled out, but not when someone else is a target. It faulted Fr. Edwards and me for letting ourselves be financially dependent on churches, for "whining" and for not understanding business as usual, all of which makes me wonder if the commentor suffers from functional illiteracy. Since that appeared to be the gist, I must point out a couple of facts.

1) The Church does not have a right to pattern its behavior after the world, nor to see itself as a business (Bishops are pastors of the priests and their families, so look again at "The Problem of the Episcopalian's Orders" and try to get the point).

2) In my case, I would never have left both a ministry and a secular professional legal/ medical position and moved across the country, and taken the position I took without a clear understanding and specific promises, which were broken by the bishop in question.

Also, I have made it very clear that my family landed safely, and that we are fine, but that the bishop of the DSWS-APCK had no reason to expect that we would. How that counts as "whining" is beyond me. I call it sounding a trumpet.

Considering our ages, what was done to us should have been completely devastating to our families, simply from an economic standpoint. Even most secular businesses are not that callous. Furthermore, the way the cases were handled was deliberately calculated to impugn our characters, and were by legal definition, Defamation of Character (again, with a cynical dependence on our Christian characters, that we would not sue).

Furthermore, the writer has missed the point that replacing a valid, well educated and seasoned priest with a "deacon" from ECUSA, thus giving the people I was pastoring into incapable hands, caused the kind of grief only a pastor or father can appreciate. In the other case mentioned, that of Fr. Edwards, one of the most highly respected priests among orthodox Anglicans, was thrown away by a cowardly bishop simply to satisfy the whims of a wicked, but rich, woman. Furthermore, how can he be accused of "whining" when it was I, not he, who reported what had happened to him? So, I say, I refused to publish an ad hominem attack.

Furthermore, it appears that the writer of the comment has not paid attention to what I have actually said. I have called the bluff and thrown down the challenge. That has taken courage, and it was exactly what they were assuming I would not do. I would have remained silent but for the mounting body count, and for the lies that came out of the mouth of Bp. Morrison in his synod clericus, and the lie that was reported in the APCK newsletter. That newsletter said I was "replaced" because I "planned to rejoin" my "former jurisdiction." Their method seems to have been learned from TASS.

I assume the commentor would not have the guts to use the word "whining" to my face- at least not if he saw me. He should be glad that his comment did not go through, since he would have sullied his own reputation by writing such gobbledegook.

John said...

Fr Hart Said:
" the attempt to bring the St. Athanasius Mission in Virginia into debt, "


As the 'missioner' and one of three lay people to get the mission going after much prayer and with the Holy Ghost, along with the faithful and wonderful pastoring by Fr Edwards and Fr Nalls, we have indeed aquired a property in only 3 yrs.

Let me explain this a bit so people will not jump to conclusions.

The said 'attempt' was from a bishop and the archbishop and was to fund a stipend on borrowed money, needless to say this came after recent encouragement from the same bishop(s) for us to buy property rather than pay a priest, the logic was if we have propery people will come and the effort will produce a stipend soon enough. How quickly things change. The timing of all these events- Novak, Nalls, Edwards, Hart, the money lending, cannot be accidental. Get rid of people with brains who may be a challenge to pet assumptions and keep the property; sound familiar?, we think so.

I joined the APCK with the understanding a new work was being launched in the form of an a "Missionary Archdiocese" in DC . Oddly 2 churches left just as we signed on and nobody contended for them. Then St Mary's mission folded because there was no clergy available to step in after Fr. Sam took a paying gig in ALA (God forbid any should be paid a salary). We saw the Archbishop once in between these events and had an a visitaion from another bishop and I was appointed to the Standing Committee and it never met, not once... and then a "Synod" was called at the VFW where we met and it was the mission people- some new members and a bishop and a couple clergy- one in a Seer Sucker suit and each mission member was given some canonical title but never once did we actually fulfill those positions - it was all a paper tiger - to boost up somebodies ego at our expense. We all were disturbed deeply but moved on in faith. Then St. Mathhias Mission folded... nobody blinked, the Archbishop talked of million dollar additions to Seminary on the other side of the country with a couple of students and there were only two birdies on the fence, us and Parish of Christ the King and one poor burned out priest with no help and no interest and no commitment from the Archbishop to turn things around. Hello? Is this a "Missionary Diocese"? No, it is somebody's pin on a map.
Would we borrow money from people who could care less about a diocese and let it fail? Think about it- Ho! Ho! yea! now there is a thought!

We have not recieved Bishop Province's letter and have not heard a peep out of anybody about any of the breaking news- we are all by ourselves. How uttery Catholic.

I know a lot of you think this move by Bishop Florenza is spur of the moment or sour grapes or some other well worn Continuing Church neurosis. Maybe it is not , maybe it is something that has been building for a long time and we all know the truth of it and to admit to that means we have to admit to a lot together. Me included although I am a newcomer. Maybe this is the first sane thing done in a long time. Maybe y'all ought to be thinking and praying on this real hard. We are. And it is tough- a real struggle.


As for St Athanasius- we did not come to the CC for more Episcopalianism even if it is 'vintage'. The only churches in the Continuum near us are an ACC, who has never given us the time of day. A EUC, whose 'clergyman' schismed from the ACC as a layman (funny now he can demand access to the ACC's altar according to the new concordat- that will go over like a ton of bricks, how is that for consistancy?) and a insular little church on the edge of town who has changed denominations so many times it borders on bizarre. Why do the new continuers go to the Africans? Let 's see, hmmmm....

I left ECUSA for sanity and sanctuary. I have read all the arguments regarding Deerfeild Beach. I ain't buying a legalistic argument that is pharisiacal - nowhere do I see Christ in the ACC position or in our reception in the area by the local parish. If I hear it again I'll hit the delete key or if in person I'll give you some St Nicholas. The only folk who have been Christian toward us is the small ACA Mission in Charlottesville- recovering from some madness that broke a great parish up there. At least they have been friendly and cordial.

We are not buying anymore B.S. at St Athanasius. Contra Mundum!

If you are a Bishop in the CC you , yes you, have created a situation that allows 'jurisdictional jumping' because you have created and nursed instability based on personalities and pride and you are reaping what you have sown. Shame. No one to blame but yourselves. Florenza+ just stepped away from madness as I see it.

Fact is if your a nut, a liar, a fraud, a womanizer, a collection plate artist, a new Pope in a new denomination, a pharasee, there are other bishops available. We lay folk do not have to put up with you. Plenty of options on the horizon. Thanks to you!

Looks like we are moving on... as the best I can measure it we have been sold some swampland. But we will never expose our property to episcopal meddling or TEC style blackmail (Not that that is relevent here) etc. Those days are over. I suggest all those out there building up missions make sure you insulate your property from any jurisdiction, it is the only insurance against episcopal madness you have.

if you want loyalty good we do too. We are loyal to Jesus Christ if you are too there will be no problem, if you are a Bishop do what Scripture appoints you and only that, and if you want to be involved in the temporal go to the Episcopal Church- plenty of mop up work to be done to get rid of the remaining Christians.

The words on this list have given testimony to positions, attitudes, Christian example or lack thereof, intractability will be met with indifference. Just watch. As a layman I don't have time for this petty stuff we have a Commission to fulfill. The only reason these divisions have existed this long is because we the laity- who pay the bills have allowed it. No more from this one.

ACA give us a call.

John Dixon

Mission
St Athanasius Anglican
Glen Allen, VA

Fr. Robert Hart said...

John Dixon

The bottom line is this: They cut my friend's stipend off (Fr. Nalls) thinking that he would second their proposal, namely that the Mission take out a loan from the Provincial Development Fund, thus putting you under their power. This was done for one reason: To keep you from pulling out of the APCK and going to the ACA.

It was very cynical of Bp. Wiygul and the others, and Fr. Nalls deserves applause for refusing to play along with their scheme- and this was to his own economic loss.

Anonymous said...

how sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child

Anonymous said...

How much like the old man who after running out of fire wood began to chop up his house to keep warm?

How many priests have been used as so much firewood?

How much like the woman in the ginger bread house who fed Hansel and Gretel only to eat them later?

How Grimm.