Monday, May 12, 2008

Church Congregation Locked Out

The affirmation of St.Louis says the following:

"
Financial Affairs
The right of congregations to control of their temporalities should be firmly and constitutionally recognized and protected."

The following report is shocking. Bishop Leo Michael commented on The Continuum once. He and the other players are free and able to comment here on this blog, and explain their actions- if they can. They may explain, as well, how they differ in principle from TEC's Katherine Jefferts-Schori, whose confidence has been evidently fortified by Beers (David Booth Beers, that is). How many Beers do these allegedly Continuing Church bishops need?
The following was prepared by a correspondent and verified by reliable sources.-Fr.Robert Hart

Bishop seizes local congregation’s property to prevent vote to leave his jurisdiction

KANSAS CITY, Missouri -- On Friday, May 2, Diocesan Bishop James McNeley and Bishop Leo Michael (Assistant Bishop already named by Bishop McNeley to be his successor) seized the building, bank accounts, and personal property of St. James Church, Kansas City, under a court order they obtained without prior notice to the congregation, its Rector (Rev. John Cochran), Senior Warden, or Vestry.

Although the suit was signed by another Kansas City lawyer, it was planned and written by James F. B. Daniels, St. James’ Junior Warden, who also acts as an attorney for the two Bishops and their diocese. Prior to the actual seizure, Daniels did not notify other officers of the parish that the suit had been filed.

Bishop McNeley and Bishop Michael sought this temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent St. James’ holding a special parish meeting on Sunday, May 4. That meeting had been called to vote on St. James’ separating from or remaining with the Bishops’ Diocese of the Holy Trinity and Great Plains (DHTGP) of the Holy Catholic Church (Anglican Rite) (HCC[AR]).

The Circuit Court of Jackson County scheduled a hearing on the Bishops’ TRO for Tuesday morning, May 13. The Bishops’ court filings ask the Court to issue a permanent injunction against St. James after the motion hearing and without affording the parish a trial on the Bishops’ claims. According to a letter by James Daniels, the Diocese’s Chancellor and author of the suit, the injunction proceeding aims to transfer all St. James’ parish assets to a new “foundation” independent of the parish and controlled by McNeley, Michael, and their personal appointees.

Representatives of St James say this suit is the “flight test” of a new procedure for HCC(AR) Bishops to deprive other HCC(AR) congregations of their assets. The Bishops’ suit against the parish and their attempted takeover of parish property are expressly forbidden by the HCC(AR)’s Constitution, sources said. Autonomy of parish property is common to all the “continuing Anglican churches” which began in the late 1970s by separations from the Episcopal Church (ECUSA). These were reactions to ECUSA’s ordaining women clergy, promoting homosexuality, and abandoning Scripture as the source of moral principles.

Most of these withdrawing Episcopalians lost their parishes and property to the Episcopal Church. This experience made local ownership of parish property a cornerstone of the “continuing church” movement. Since the HCC(AR) formed in 1997 in a schism from one of the original “continuing churches”, HCC(AR) members have declined to eliminate the constitutional guarantee of parishes’ freedom to leave that body with their property intact.

When the TRO was served on the parish, McNeley and Michael’s agents changed all locks on St. James’ building and seized all of the parish’s bank accounts, records, and property. This halted all parish operations including regular worship services by the parish’s Rector, one of the named defendants in the suit. The Bishops announced that services would be held in St. James’ building by Bishop Michael or his nominee.

Thus the Bishops prevented the special membership meeting that St. James had scheduled for Sunday, May 4, immediately after the Sunday morning service. That followed another such meeting the previous Sunday, April 27, at which the parish voted to remove from its by-laws all references to either the DHTGP or the HCC(AR).

These meetings arose out of confrontations with the two Bishops at St. James’ annual parish meeting on January 20 and again with Bishop Michael on April 20. At the January parish meeting, the two Bishops appeared, bringing with them four “guests” whom they insisted be allowed to participate in the meeting as though they were members, in what the Bishops called “insurance votes." Parish officers rebuffed this attempt to stack the parish’s list of voters.

On Sunday, April 20, Bishop Michael appeared without notice to the parish’s Rector or Vestry. He said he had previously arranged this visit with James Daniels, the Junior Warden who is also Michael’s lawyer in the current suit. Here, just as in the later seizure, Daniels did not give advance warning to other parish officials.

Bishop Michael came on April 20 with Daniels who was acting as the DHTGP’s Chancellor or in-house lawyer. After the Sunday service, Michael, who had previously stated he wanted St. James for his cathedral, told the parishioners “Maybe you aren’t worthy of me” and “Yes, I have the ability to take you to court and take this property.”

Michael and Daniels then threatened the parishioners with what they called "the nuclear option." Daniels has explained “the nuclear option” as the way ECUSA’s Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts-Schori, and her Chancellor, David Booth Beers, currently proceed against ECUSA parishes seeking to leave that church. This “nuclear option” is based on the fact that only communicant members can vote on church business, such as whether to withdraw from the national church. National church officials then claim that any member who casts a ballot against the national church forfiets, by that vote and retroactively, any status as a communicant member of the church and so ceases, after the fact, to be an eligible voter.

Thus, ECUSA has said and the HCC(AR) now appears to say, it is never possible to hold a valid vote to leaving either of those church groups.

Bishop Leo Michael resigned from another continuing church body, the United Episcopal Church of North America, on February 18, 2008, three days after Bishop McNeley’s pending retirement became official on February 15. The other HCC(AR) Bishops quickly appointed Michael as McNeley’s successor despite church and diocesan Canons that require a successor bishop to be elected by the clergy and people of the diocese, sources close to St. James say.

61 comments:

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I will add one comment as well, in the form of questions. Just what does this kind of action do for evangelism? What does it have to do with the cure of souls already in the pastoral care of these bishops? What do they think it's all about? Why were they ever ordained in the first place? What do they make of St. Paul's Apostolic command that Christians are not to take their brethren to court?

Excuse me, but I must now go and throw up.

Albion Land said...

Fr Hart,

I have removed the word "continuing" from the headline of this post. Since almost the inception of this blog, it has been the policy here to recognise as continuing churches only those jurisdictions that formally recognise the Affirmation of St Louis as an integral part of their constitution.

And examination of the website of the HCC (AR) will show that it says almost nothing about who and what it is, and nowhere can be found any acknowledgment of the role of the Affirmation of St Louis in the belief and practices of this church.

While there may be some minor disputes, it has been generally accepted here that only those jurisdictions listed in the sidebar of this blog are recognised as being continuing churches.

Albion Land said...

This is the closest I find to a statement of who and what these people are. It is found on the home page:

The purpose of The Holy Catholic Church (Anglican Rite) is to perpetuate the Faith, Order, Worship and Witness of Western Catholicism as it existed in the Church of England from around 200 A.D., to the time of the Great Schism, and set forth by the "ancient catholic bishops and doctors," and especially as defined by the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church.

Sandra McColl said...

I was skimming this article in a hurry, and would really have been helped by reference to the HCC(AR) as the ecclesial body in question in the introduction.

William Tighe said...

The HCC-AR originated as a result of a major division among the bishops of the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) in 1997, at the time of the prolonged illness of its then archbishop, William Lewis -- as I recall, blows were exchanged at an ACC bishops' meeting. Litgation resulted, and the losing faction split and formed the HCC-AR. Before 1997, as I recall, the ACC tended to position itself, much more than in the last decade as a a Western "Church of the Seven Councils" whose intended goal was to be recognized by the Orthodox as Orthodox.

During my years in England I became acquainted with some of the members of the "Anglo-Orthodox Society," a phil-Orthodox body which dissolved itself after the Church of England began "ordaining" women in 1994, a number of whom subsequently joined the ACC. My impression is that most of these took the HCC-AR "side" in the 1997 split.

There was a further split in 1999, which resulted many, if not most, of the overseas adherents, clergy and bishops of the HCC-AR leaving and forming the "Holy Catholic Church -- Western Rite" which disavows the term "Anglican" altogether (as historically "tainted" by Protestantism). In my correspondence at the time with my friends formerly of the Anglo-Orthodox Society I got the distinct impression that the split occurred because those who formed the HCC-WR thought that the "Eastward slant" of the HCC-AR was all style and no substance. My own visits to the (relatively) local Cathedral Church of the Incarnation in Quakertown, PA, the seat of the HCC-AR's primate, Archbishop Kleppinger (a gracious man), did not produce any impressions on my part of any "Eastward leanings," although there were one or two icons on the walls of the altar area.

About two or three years ago, the HCC-AR was seeking union with the ACA/TAC, but this seems to have come to nothing.

Anonymous said...

The website of HCC-AR does have a link to the Affirmation of St Louis. What that means I cannot say.

But this incident does raise the question of the degree of commitment which self-designated Continuing Churches still have to the Affirmation of St Louis, particularly in its firm posture on the ownership of church property. This will surely be a problem for the TAC bodies as they enter into full communion with the Holy See.
Laurence K. Wells

Albion Land said...

Fr Laurence,

As I am sure you have noted, the website includes links to all sorts of things, including to a (presumably) distinct ecclesial entity.

However, aside from what I cut and pasted above, there is no statement as to what ACC (AR) stands for, believes in or practices, and absolutely no reference whatsoever to its relationship to the Affirmation of St Louis.

poetreader said...

Jurisdiction against jurisdiction, bishop against bishop, congregations able to switch bishops as they choose, wrangling over property, bishops, priests, aspirants looking around to see which jurisdiction with give them the best deal -- Will the travesty, the iniquity of it all never cease? Can Our Lord be pleased with what we have done with His Church?

These are specific sins of Continuing Anglicanism. Other parts of the Church have other sins, but "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God", and it is a profound illustration of God's loving mercy that He has not abandoned this whole sorry mess to start over.

I cry real tears over stories like this one, as I believe does Our Lord, waterfalls of tears. I only ask this: How are we working to bring this evil to an end? If we are not putting great effort into it, ultimately it is more ourselves we serve than Him.

It's time for weeping and mourning, for fasting and prayer, for sackcloth and ashes, for self-examination, for the finding and casting out of the beams in our own eyes, and not for the casting of brickbats at one another. Pray, brethren ...
Pray for Leo Michael.
Pray for HCC/AR.
Pray for St. James Church.
Pray for us who maintain an environment wherein such things are conceivable, possible, even likely.

ed

Albion Land said...

Thank you for that, Ed.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The HCC/AR has its origin in a break with the Anglican Catholic Church. The two bishops in the story left the ACC and the UEC respectively.

This ties them into the CC movement. Their Constitution ties them to the Affirmation of St. Louis.

Anonymous said...

Albion: I see your point. It would be helpful to know exactly what entities or jurisdictions have a current commitment to the Affirmation of St Louis. When one reviews various lists (such as that given in the FCC Directory, or the one on "Anglicans Online"), one finds a very mixed bag.

Ed Pacht: Bullies and thugs are always pleased when an onlooker takes the Rodney King approach. That approach is emotionally gratifying to the onlooker, but it fails to solve the real problem.
Laurence K. Wells

Michael said...

It is difficult to comment without knowing the details. There are always at least two sides to every story - sometimes more. But on the surface, I have to say that this sounds very troubling, and I would, as a Traditional Anglican, appreciate some clarification from the ACC-HR. If everything's on the up and up, fine. If not, then we must ensure that people are given due warning to keep away from ungodly shepherds.

In any case, indeed, let us keep everybody involved in our prayers.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

This HCC/AR claims to uphold the Affirmation of St. Louis,and have a link to it on their website.

It seems they have some bishops who need to read it. They might read I Cor. 6 while they're at it.

Albion Land said...

Fr Hart,

Where do these people claim to uphold the Affirmation of St Louis? I can find no such declaration.

Yes, they have a link to the Affirmation, as they do to many other things. That is not the same thing.

poetreader said...

Fr. Wells, your comment to me is not really quite fair. You really don't understand who you're writing to at all. My besetting sin, which I have several times been gently corrected for is not passivity, but temper. If I were seeking emotional gratification I'd be shouting with rage about many things, not merely this present instance. In fact I have, as I'm sure you noted, shown more-than-justified anger in conversation with you. Where I have been out of place, which I indeed have, I repent and offer apologies. Rather than making me feel good about myself (or whatever gratification you may think I'm experiencing), I feel nervous and unfulfilled everytime I step back from a fight. This drives me to prayer for the settlement of my nerves and for the inner acceptance of what I know to have been a right choice. It has been a decades long battle with myself to be able to speak as I have instead of verbally smiting my perceived enemies.

Pur :prd od not call upon us Christians to solve every problem, and He certainly did not call upon us to oppose evil with the enemy's tools. It's ust not so that putting a bully down with angry force solves a problem. It may indeed bring the temporary relief of preventing specific abuses, but it, in actuality only strengthens the inner attitudes and environments that make such evils appear desirable.

Our Lord instructs us very directly, that, when we see evil in another (as we certainly do in this instance) that should motivate us to look FIRST at ourselves and what we can change within ourselves, BEFORE we begin work on the other. If the first priority is not tended to, we are not qualified to "fix" our brother.

Now, read my post closely. What have I advocated there that is not required of us by our God?

I'm a flawed and fallible man, and have no right to defend myself -- that would feel good -- but I'm not able to stand by and allow the Continuing Church that I love to call my own to destroy itself without comment. That is what we, all of us, are doing with this chaos we have produced.

ed

Anonymous said...

If I have been unfair to you, Ed, please forgive me.
LKW

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Where do these people claim to uphold the Affirmation of St Louis?

My sources have told me that this is in their jurisdiction's Constitution (specifically, the HCC/AR here in America. It is not clear how the Western Rite people in England view this). Thus, it is basic to their Canon Law.
They most certainly consider themselves part of the CC movement, and some of them are among the oldest players in the game, such as their Metropolitan, Bishop Thomas Kleppinger.

Here are a few more facts. The diocesan bishop in this story, Bishop James McNeley, was excommunicated from the ACC for striking a fellow bishop. And, as we know, Bishop Leo Michael was UEC bishop just last year.

These two bishops have lost the people's trust and confidence, so how can they serve them as pastors? A lawsuit, and the changing of locks to prevent services for both the Sunday after the Ascension and Pentecost, does not restore trust and confidence. If they are villains, they are our villains in a sense. It is up to CC people to expose them.

Ed:

I believe that charity demands a certain amount of anger, as expressed by the Lord himself. I believe that charity also demanded of me that I respond to a request to make the story known, because real people are suffering. Never before has it gone this far in the CC movement. Further developments along these lines must be prevented, and reporting the story is meant to prevent such actions.

Nathan said...

Any word on the outcome of this morning's hearing? Any word on where Fr. Cochran and the faithful are meeting for services? and if inadequate, is there someone reading this who can help them find a place to camp?

John A. Hollister said...

Albion: The church jurisdiction in the story is NOT "the ACC(AR)".

Michael: It's NOT "the ACC-HR", either.

It's the "HCC(AR)". It cost the ACC three bloody years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect its corporate name and identity from the HCC(AR)'s bishops who for the first years of their existence insisted on telling the world that THEY were "the 'real' ACC" and Archbishop Lewis's successors and fellow bishops were not. The HCC(AR) continued this charade until its bishops were enjoined, by name, from continuing to pass themselves off as something they no longer were. (And this occurred in a lawsuit the HCC[AR] bishops themselves filed against the ACC, not the other way around.)

So while I know these slips were mere typos, please, please, please do not raise the specter of that former confusion by refering, even in error, to this Allentown-based group as "ACC".

Personally, I have always been awe-struck by the hubris of this tiny group. When it was finally and very much against its will forced to adopt a distinct name for itself, it settled on a title that declares IT IS that portion of the Holy Catholic Church (i.e., the one to which we all give our allegiance in the Creeds) which uses an Anglican Rite.

Move over, Lambeth Communion, there's apparently a new sheriff in town.

John A. Hollister+

poetreader said...

Fr. Wells,
Of course I accept the gracious apology. We're on the same team, even if we do bicker sometimes, and I've come to respect you. The things I said needed to be said, but are really directed more toward others who would have been far less gracious.

Fr. Hart,
Ooops, I forgot to begin by thanking you for posting this news. I'd heard it and was hoping someone with more direct information than I would post it.

I am angry, angry enough that my words were intended as much for me as for anyone else. It requires a firm application of the board of education to the seat of learning, but with the deep love a good father has for an erring child, and with a great deal of prayer. And it requires a great deal of self-examination. Such things would not happen if we really had a Catholic view of polity in practice, not just in theory.

I hope I'm not coming on too angry in my advocacy for loving correction. I am quite capable of that.

To repeat, let's pray, and pray, and then pray some more, and not only about the evil these men have done, but about our own part in it.

ed

John A. Hollister said...

Nathan quite properly and thoughtfully asked, "Any word on the outcome of this morning's hearing? Any word on where Fr. Cochran and the faithful are meeting for services? and if inadequate, is there someone reading this who can help them find a place to camp?"

As to Nathan's first question, "Any word on the outcome of this morning's hearing?", the following is put together from gleanings from people in Kansas City:

Apparently the first thing that happened was that the trial judge called counsel for the parties into a chambers conference. There he told the lawyers he had read the file and felt that the main issue in dispute was the church's holding a vote to leave. He proposed appointing a Special Master (a sort of ad hoc court commissioner, usually a retired judge) to supervise that vote.

This sort of supervised election to settle church control disputes is common in many states -- it is precisely what the court did in Erie, Pennsylvania, when Bishop Kleppinger's schism split the parish of St. James of Jerusalem them. Further, it is expressly approved by Missouri appellate cases.

The judge also thought the TRO should be modified to give the real property, checkbooks, and financial records back to the church, subject to there being no disposition of parish property or funds other than in the ordinary course of the Parish's business. Further, he was inclined to order the plaintiff diocese to list the property it claimed as its and to order the Parish either to return or to safeguard any items so listed.

The attorneys returned to the courtroom to discuss this proposed conclusion to the motion hearing with their clients. A number of St. James' members were present on the defendants' side but the only representative on the plaintiff's side was James F.B. Daniels, the DHTGP attorney who prepared the suit in the first place.

Daniels rejected the judge's proposed solution out of hand. Instead, he insisted that the defendants had until Friday, May 16 to accept a "settlement" he proposed and if they failed to do that, the hearing would continue the following week.

This "settlement" would be that the stipends of the Parish's three Priests would continue only through the end of September and would then terminate; the Rector, Fr. Cochran, could remain living in the Rectory with his family only through the end of November and would then be evicted; and $1,200 of the Parish's funds would be paid to the fees of the Parish's defense counsel.

The remainder of the funds, all the Parish's furnishings, fittings, utensils, vestments, and other personal property, and all of its land and buildings -- i.e., the Church and the Rectory -- would be transferred to the DHTGP.

This proposal, if accepted by the Parish, would be its total surrender to the Diocese in defiance of all of the DHTGP and HCC(AR)'s canon law. It is the same conclusion to the suit to obtain which, Daniels previously wrote, was the sole purpose in the Diocese's filing it. It would leave the DHTGP's new, non-elected Bishop, Leo Michael, in total personal control of St. James, its property, and its funds.

Unfortunately, the judge apparently felt that where the parties were "discussing" settlement, there was no immediate need to modify the TRO. This is probably what Daniels intended because it leaves Bp. Michael in possession of the Church and the Parish still out on the street, at least until a second hearing next week.

"Any word on where Fr. Cochran and the faithful are meeting for services?"

According to informants, Fr. Cochran and some of the loyal members of St. James attended the Whitsunday service at the local ACA parish, where they were graciously received.

It is unclear what they will be doing to hold services on an ongoing basis. Monday, Fr. Cochran left the country on a long-planned visit to family members overseas and will not return for three weeks; it is doubtful that any final decision could be made before he comes back. One wonders if the timing of the suit and the seizure was not calculated with this absences of his in mind.

"If where Fr. Cochran and the faithful meeting for services is inadequate, is there someone reading this who can help them find a place to camp?"

A very charitable and pregnant thought, Nathan. It is certainly to be hoped that some church group in Kansas City will be moved to extend to them the hand of hospitality in their extremity.

John A. Hollister+

Anonymous said...

In the interest of fairness, I would direct everyone's attention to the comments of FrJay and Judge Bob in this discussion:

http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=8232

Just so it's clear, I have no personal axe to grind in this one, although I did take my first communion in a Continuing Anglican church at St. Gabriel's in Springdale, AR on 5/4. I'm looking at this parish as a possible church home when I move to AR, but also the UECNA mission parish in Rogers, AR.

Caedmon

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Caedemon:

Fr. Jay and Judge Bob have spoken too soon. Look at what Fr. John Hollister wrote in the above comment.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I read that over at Virtue Online tonight. All I can say is that I'll "take it under advisement." I'm taking no one's side at the moment, but, as a very new newbie to the Continuum, just gathering information. And while I tend to agree with your assessment regarding I Cor. 6, I will say in all honesty that I've detected a clear bias against the HCC-AR here on this blog and at the Anglican Diaspora forum. I'm sure it's merely the result of bad blood that goes back in time over the disputes and splits that have occurred, so I can't say that your animus is entirely unjustified. On the other hand, I must consider the ALL the data I see on the other side of this thing. For instance, Bp. Leo's replies to the Virtue Online article, which can be read at his blog:

http://episcoblog.stgabrielsanglican.org/archives/2008/05/open_letter_to_1.html

http://episcoblog.stgabrielsanglican.org/archives/2008/05/of_ownership_an.html

Among other data, which I must say I find quite positive.

As an aside, I must say that I got a kick out of "Solicitor's" comment the VO article:

"As I consider my future as an orthodox Anglican, this case highlights just one of the reasons that I don't consider most of the 'continuing churches' to be a viable alternative."

Like he's going to find an episcopal lovefest in Rome or Orthodoxy. Or bishops who never lower the boom, whether rightly or wrongly.

John A. Hollister said...

Dear Anonymous:

First, as other anonymice have previously been asked, please add to your posting some other tag by which we may distinguish you from your relatives. The Anonymice are a very large clan and many folks bear the same surname.

Second, I tried to follow your suggestion to find out what Bp. Michael is saying in his own defense -- although I note that whatever it is that he is saying, he is not saying it in the same fora where the news reports have been posted.

Unfortunately, when I tried to use the URL you posted, I discovered that Bp. Michael's "Episcoblog" archives are closed to mere mortals such as I. So, at least for the time being, I must remain in ignorance of how he explains away Article XXI of the HCC(AR)'s Constitution (which remains posted on the Internet by the HCC's English branch):

"Constitution Part II
". . .
"ARTICLE XI -- OF THE INTERPRETATION OF THIS CONSTITUTION AND CANONS
"All words and provisions of this Constitution and Canons shall be interpreted strictly in accordance with their plain literal and grammatical meaning at the time of writing.
". . .
"ARTICLE XXI -- OF THE TEMPORAL AFFAIRS AND POSSESSIONS OF CONGREGATIONS
"The right of Congregations to control of their temporalities, and to freedom from claims of any Diocesan or Provincial or Synodical Trust or implied Trust asserted by the adherence of such Congregation to the Communion of this Church, or by its adherence to the Constitution or Canons of any Diocese, Province, or Synod shall be forever recognized and protected.
"No person or ecclesial body in this Church shall ever resort to any civil court for the purpose of depriving any congregation departing from this church of any property or right pertaining to it."

While one might argue, as have previous comments on this thread, about whether the HCC(AR) actually claims to adhere to the Declaration of St. Louis, one would expect it to adhere to its own Constitution. Or does the HCC(AR) live somewhere beyond Alice's Looking Glass, where words mean only what the the Red Queen says they mean at this moment?

Also, along the same lines of explaining the other side of the case, the website of the HCC(AR)'s Diocese of the Holy Trinity, etc., posts a recent "Pastoral Letter" in which the HCC(AR) faithful are informed of Bp. Michael's "election". The HCC(AR) bishops explain his appointment without consultation with "his" Diocese and in lieu of an election by that Diocese as having been in accance with the "apostolic canons".

Assuming these "apostolic canons" are the prescriptions of one or another of the ancient Councils, it therefore be interesting to read Bp. Michael's explanation of why, within the HCC(AR) as in almost all other known legal systems, the later (ca. 1997 AD) and more specific provisions (occupying a page or so) for diocesan episcopal elections as set out in the Diocese's Canons do not trump the earlier (pre-1054 AD) and more general provisions (about one paragraph) that I suspect will be found in whatever source it is to which that "Pastoral Letter" refers.

Normally, positive legislation on any given topic is considered to have abrogated or amended conflicting provisions on the same topic that might be found in some inherited body of customary law. That is why, for example, each of 49 American states, at each session of its legislature, recedes ever farther from the Common Law of England as that stood in 1789 and which would otherwise govern each of those states in detail.

(It is also why that same Common Law as it was in the 18th Century no longer governs much of daily life even in England, its home of origin. All the time Members of Parliament can spare from arguing with each other in the elegant fashion shown on news broadcasts is spent altering the remnants of that old customary law and converting it to bureaucrat-friendly statutes.)

And while we're on the subject of openness and transparency, and giving both sides of a dispute a chance to be heard, it might be worth recalling exactly what it was that happened when, as Fr. Hart mentioned, this same Bp. McNeley excommunicated himself from the Anglican Catholic Church by attacking and punching another bishop.

At a meeting of the ACC's Bishops in August, 1997, in Liberty, NY, McNeley groused that the ACC's newspaper, "The Trinitarian", should not have published an article that stated how five ACC bishops (the same ones who later formed the HCC[AR] had refused to consent to a recent election of a new bishop for one diocese, but had also refused to give reasons for their refusal.

It wasn't the facts given in the article to which he objected; those were entirely true. He just didn't think that the members of the Church should be given facts from which they might conclude that some of their bishops considered these confirmation decisions matters of personal whim for which no accountability was due.

The late Bishop Joseph Deyman, a rather genial man, who was sitting two chairs down the table from Bp. McNeley, chuckled and said something to the effect of "What's the matter, Jim? Don't you have the courage of your convictions to stand behind your action and explain it?"

At that, McNeley's cork popped and he leaped across the bishop who was sitting between them and swung at Bishop Deyman. Fortunately, the mediate bishop was a large man and McNeley is a small one, so his fist only reached Bishop Deyman's hand where he was resting his forearm on the table before him.

The blow knocked a pen out of Bishop Deyman's hand so hard that it flew across the table and struck the face of the venerable Brother John-Charles, now the ACC's retired Archbishop.

Both of these impacts were more than sufficient to constitute the Common Law tort (and crime) of Battery. So actually two bishops were "deforced", as they say in Civilian legal systems such as the Canon Law, not just one.

The HCC(AR) actually took its origin from that blow, because that is the moment at which McNeley exited the ACC and thus broke the 1/3-plus-one voting bloc by which the now-HCC bishops had planned to veto any action that might threaten their control of the Church and that required a 2/3 majority for approval. These included, among other important things, the election of any new diocesan or suffragan bishop who did not agree with them or even the election of a new Metropolitan.

(After McNeley struck this blow, the meeting understandably stood in some disarray. While the other bishops tried to pull themselves together, and one of them said something about the impropriety of such conduct, McNeley declared, "I've got a .357 Magnum in the trunk of my car that would take care of all of you." As I recall, he then slammed out of the room.)

And the relevance of all this here and now to the issue of journalistic fairness and balance? It shows how deeply, as a fundamental part of the HCC(AR)'s birth, its leaders hold the conviction that no sunlight should shine on their innermost doings, which should only be known to their members and to outsiders through their own carefully-crafted publicity releases.

And does that perhaps also explain why, as another commenter here noted, the HCC(AR)'s website doesn't say very much about how it came to be in the first place?

According to that same website, the HCC(AR) now has five bishops and, what, five or six parishes? I guess weird things happen in small places. I'm reminded of something I read during my teaching days: "Academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small."

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

An anonymous commenter wrote:
I will say in all honesty that I've detected a clear bias against the HCC-AR here on this blog and at the Anglican Diaspora forum.

I am not aware that we have ever paid them any attention at all. However, Bishop McNeley has been identified as the bishop who was excommunicated from the ACC for striking a fellow bishop.

Anonymous said...

"Dear Anonymous:

First, as other anonymice have previously been asked, please add to your posting some other tag by which we may distinguish you from your relatives. The Anonymice are a very large clan and many folks bear the same surname."

Caedmon here, Fr. Sorry I forgot to append my user name, but as you can see from my comment, it was a reply to Fr. Hart, who had responded to my previous comment, where I did sign it.

And, yes, I am aware of the history here, although not in the detail you've provided, for which I thank you. Those details only confirm the accuracy of what I wrote previously: bad blood, and not unjustified.

Let's just hope and pray God works good from evil. After all, if He did so in the case of Henry VIII (et al.), He can certainly do so in the case of the HCC-AR. After all, the HCC-AR isn't just its bishops, but the faithful thereof who simply want to live their faith and worship God as they please.

Anonymous said...

"Caedmon: I will say in all honesty that I've detected a clear bias against the HCC-AR here on this blog and at the Anglican Diaspora forum.

Fr. Hart: I am not aware that we have ever paid them any attention at all."

And could that fact not be construed as an indicator of said bias, Father? I reiterate here that I fully understand the reason for the animus. Bet let's call it what it is.

Caedmon

Fr. Robert Hart said...

IN ALL FAIRNESS, I will post here what the HCC/AR Metropiltan, Bishop Thomas Kleppinger, sent to David Virtue. I will post my reply beneath it. Furthermore, I would not be surprised if Fr. John Hollister has a few words to add.

Dear Dr. Virtue,

We were saddened to note this posting on the status of St. James, which contains many misstatements of facts and regret to engage in such an endeavor. However in the interest of truth and justice, we would like to set the records straight. We wish you had called us before posting such an article. If you are going to keep the article online, please publish the following clarifications:

1) The property of St. James is owned by St. James, contrary to other claims. St. James’ Committee is comprised of long term and faithful members of St. James, who wanted to protect its property. The rector, who came from another jurisdiction, and a few renegade vestry members attempted to disenfranchise long time loyal members of the congregation by eliminating them from the parish roll in order to carry out their exit strategy—the vote to leave or stay in the diocese. Ironically, in the annual parish meeting of January 20th, 2008, the parish voted to stay in the Diocese. Even after such a decision, the rector and his few loyalists were soliciting other jurisdictions, while declaring the see 'vacant'. The congregation as referred to in your article is not the entire membership of St. James, but the few disgruntled ones under the direction of the inhibited rector, that have left St. James.

2) The disciplinary action was taken by the Diocese against three clergy: the rector and two priests who have been very disobedient to the Bishop Ordinary; these include dropping the affiliation HCC-AR from the parish’s name, changing the locks of the church and locking out his bishop ordinary, the clergy threatening to sue their bishop on charges of theft when with due permission of the senior warden (and assisted by rector) he took his personal vestments, for arbitrarily changing the bylaws of the church, for eliminating long term members from the parish roll (who are referred to as guests in your article) to vote to take the property out of the diocese, for suppressing all communications to the parish from the Bishop Ordinary, for soliciting to take St. James Anglican church to Rome and/or other jurisdictions, for asking for oversight from the ACC claiming they had no bishop, for illegally convening meetings against canons. Despite their disloyalty to the diocese they had been extended an olive branch (on the April 20th meeting) but rejected any reconciliation. When this was not heeded, according to the diocesan canons, the parish was reduced to a mission status, and the said Committee was appointed to be in charge of the administration of the property. The rector and the vestry were defiant to accept the writ from the diocese, and went ahead and held a vestry meeting. Since this was not heeded to, the same writ was filed and obtained as an injunction. This was done to in order that the majority of the parish maintain ownership of the property. The attorney is Mr. James Wirken for the Diocese of Holy Trinity and Great Plains and Mr. James Daniels is the diocesan chancellor.

3) Also the appointment of the new bishop for the diocese was in keeping with the apostolic and diocesan canons, which were endorsed by the clergy and laity of the entire diocese, except these few former members of St. James. Bishop Leo Michael left the UECNA on February 10th, 2008 as acknowledged by its leadership and was elected by the college of bishops on February 14th, 2008. The alleged statements of Bp. Michael in the said April 20th meeting as stated in your article, are totally false, and witnesses can attest the same.

The HCC-AR is part of the continuing church movement, governed by the college of bishops, the apostolic and diocesan canons, served by faithful clergy. In matters of protecting the faithful and congregation, we are accountable to the Lord and we will continue to serve in the biblical, sacramental and apostolic orthodoxy. Any other twist, is to add insult to the body of Christ.

In Fide,
X Thomas
"Ad majorem Dei Gloriam ~ To the Greater Glory of God"
www.holycatholicanglican.org


To which I say the following:
Perhaps the Metropolitan is passing on what he thinks to be accurate information: I don't know how and from whom he is kept informed. The story about purging the membership roles seems to refer to a very reasonable procedure for keeping records up to date. The alleged "members" were called guests because no one, as reported to me, knew who they were, and that they were strngers who appeared suddenly having been brought by Bishop McNeley. One of these "members" later admitted to having never been a Christian at all, but a practicing Buddhist. His wife, however, had been a member many years earlier, and had been inactive for all those years. So, these "members" were called guests because Bp. McNeley brought them with him, and seemed to be the only person there who knew them, and tried to force the church to accept them as voting members in the meeting.

Furthermore, perhaps one of these HCC/AR bishops can explain how a Parish meeting can possibly be, as Bishop Kleppinger says in his comment directly above, "illegal" and "against the canons." If the HCC/AR canons allow no Parish meetings, that alone is reason to hold one and vote to leave. Perhaps he can explain also his use of the word "loyal" when mentioning "loyal members." Perhaps he could also define the word "member."

Fr. Robert Hart said...

By the way, when I said that we have never, to my knowledge, posted anything about the HCC/AR specifically, I meant only that they are among a very large group of jurisdictions we can't keep track of, and they have not really done anything that we saw as needing much comment.

Anonymous said...

Father Hart writes:

"By the way, when I said that we have never, to my knowledge, posted anything about the HCC/AR specifically, I meant only that they are among a very large group of jurisdictions we can't keep track of, and they have not really done anything that we saw as needing much comment."

The HCC-AR, along with the ACC, UECNA, APCK, is part of the Chambers succession, is it not? And was it not lately involved ecumencially with these three branches? That's the info I have anyway, but I welcome your correction.

Again, Father, let me be clear: I am not trying to annoy anyone here. I am new to the Continuum, and trying to sort out all this strife and the reasons behind it. I will likely attend an ACC parish while I'm here in CO, but when I move to AR my choices will be the HCC-AR and the UECNA. A UECNA priest whom I think you know advised me to ask questions, ask questions, ask questions, of both sides, though he clearly made his case for the UECNA and against the HCC-AR. That's what I'm doing here. I hope you understand.

KJC402 said...

This news saddens me more then letter that +Leo Michael sent when he left the UECNA.

I pray that all the parties can come to an agreement and resolve this dispute amicably.

One thought that keeps going through my mind is; how would +Michael have felt if +Reber had used this same tactic on him and the people at St. Gabriel's?

Don't get me wrong, I love +Leo and have had many wonderful conversations and correspondents with him, but what drives his actions in this year have left me puzzled and hurt.

I pray for all of those involved in this tragic event and in a time when the jurisdictions should be coming together and working for mutual goals, there should be no poaching and backstabbing, but love and cooperation.

Albion Land said...

"Caedmon: I will say in all honesty that I've detected a clear bias against the HCC-AR here on this blog and at the Anglican Diaspora forum.

Fr. Hart: I am not aware that we have ever paid them any attention at all."

And could that fact not be construed as an indicator of said bias, Father? I reiterate here that I fully understand the reason for the animus. Bet let's call it what it is.

Caedmon, welcome to you.

I am the owner of The Continuum, and will take responsibility for commenting on the editorial policy of this blog.

Fr Hart pretty much has it right. I can assure you that since I created this blog in November 2005, I may have given the HCC (AR) a grand total of 5 minutes' thought -- perhaps wondering who they were.

As I said yesterday or the day before, the working assumption here has been for a very long time that the continuing movement consists, in the most generous definition of the term, of the ACC, the APCK, UECNA, the TAC and the APA. Trying to keep track of their activities, and of efforts to promote unity among them is what occupies our time. We do not engage in active discrimination, we just have priorities.

Anonymous said...

"As I said yesterday or the day before, the working assumption here has been for a very long time that the continuing movement consists, in the most generous definition of the term, of the ACC, the APCK, UECNA, the TAC and the APA. Trying to keep track of their activities, and of efforts to promote unity among them is what occupies our time. We do not engage in active discrimination, we just have priorities."

Duly noted, Albion. Thanks.

Caedmon

Anonymous said...

"My sources have told me that this is in their jurisdiction's Constitution (specifically, the HCC/AR here in America. It is not clear how the Western Rite people in England view this)."

Are there any HCC/AR members or churches in England? Albion do you know of any? I think the ACC parish in Whitby was HCC/AR before returning to the ACC.

I did hear of a HCC/AR church in Stoke many moons ago but I'm not aware of any active parishes, or clergy in the UK.

Fr Edward

Anonymous said...

The HCC-WR seems to have a congregation in El Paso, TX, and another in New Mexico. See here:

http://www.holycatholicchurch-wr.org/

and here:

http://www.holy-catholic-church-wr.org/

William Tighe

John A. Hollister said...

The Anonymous Anonymous asked, "The HCC-AR, along with the ACC, UECNA, APCK, is part of the Chambers succession, is it not? And was it not lately involved ecumencially with these three branches?"

1. "The HCC-AR, along with the ACC, UECNA, APCK, is part of the Chambers succession, is it not?"

The five original bishops of the HCC(AR), which is the punctuation of its official name, were Kleppinger, McNeley, Seeland, Hamlett, and Price. Each of them was consecrated a bishop while a member of The Anglican Catholic Church, so I'm sure the HCC(AR) would say that it descends from the joint Chambers (PECUSA)/Pagtakhan (PICC) Succession of January, 1978.

2. "And was it [the HCC-AR] not lately involved ecumencially with these three branches?"

Not to my knowledge it wasn't. I'm certain it has had no "ecumenical" involvement with the ACC beyond a vague request a year or two ago, "Can't we come back?" which was unaccompanied by any sign of contrition and so went nowhere.

I am equally sure that little or nothing would have occurred between the HCC(AR) and the APCK, beyond perhaps some HCC(AR) personnel showing up at an APCK function or two but perhaps someone from that jurisdiction should really be the one to comment on that.

As to the UECNA, Bp. McNeley appeared, along with members of several other church groups, for the UECNA's consecration of Bp. Michael. Having thusly broken the ice, then over the past year or so since, Bp. McNeley approached the UECNA through Bp. Michael to ask if the UECNA would take oversight of his parishes when he retired as a diocesan bishop -- the event which occurred in February of this year.

In the midst of those discussions, suprise, surprise, the HCC(AR) bishops withdrew that request and, hey, presto, chango, Bp. Michael, who was supposed to have been negotiating with the HCC(AR) on behalf of the UECNA, morphed into McNeley's replacement within the HCC(AR). Perhaps it really wasn't double-dealing on his part. Perhaps, as the British were said to have gotten their Empire, he just acquired his new diocese in a fit of absentmindedness.

John A. Hollister+

Ken said...

Maybe it's just me but I still haven't figured out the justification for these multiple jurisdictions. Even the apostle Paul didn't want to intrude upon another man's work.

Nor do I understand the how parishes controlling their own "temporalities" differs from congregationalism.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Ken wrote:
Nor do I understand the how parishes controlling their own "temporalities" differs from congregationalism.

The clergy are responsible for the spiritual condition of the parish, and the laity for the temporalities. That is not new at all. But, what you mean is that parishes have control of their property. This too is not congregationalism. People coming out of the Episcopal Church saw the damage done by letting the Diocese own the property (The Denis Canon making it worse). A certain amount of democracy is not congregationalism, but a balance against episcopal tyranny such as TEC has used and is using to force their heresies down people's throats. The writers of the Affirmation saw that even bishops must have a certain amount of checks and balances applied to financial matters. This is consistent with ancient canons of the Church.

The only justification that the two bishops in this story could give for even trying to prevent this one parish from breaking away, would be that the people want them to. But, the hearing in court yesterday morning seems to show that the people are mostly behind their Rector, Fr. Cochran. It seems quite obvious that he has the support of most of the congregation (of course, someone might post a comment claiming to speak for the majority. But, it will not appear credible against what we know).

What I would urge of the two bishops is that they drop the matter, since they cannot force people to accept them once trust has been lost. If they were to win in court, they would establish a precedent that would do more damage than any possible good they might claim to be after. And, they would have a mostly empty church building, good for nothing but a real estate sale. Let the parishes continue to exercise their control over church property as the Affirmation of St. Louis provided for, as well as the actual HCC/AR Constitution.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I found this very strong statement from Archbishop Reber on the UECNA website. Maybe he posted it because of the Kansas City case.
http://united-episcopal.org/Files/Bishop/
ParishOwnership.html

"PARISH OWNERSHIP - A MUST

I have received a number of questions recently about the UECNA's policies and what provisions of the Articles of St. Louis we find the most important. The following is just a brief summary of the UECNA's position. As a Church of the Continuum there are three major points that are essential, indeed sacred and special.

I. The use of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.

II. An all-Male Clergy

III. Ownership-control of the local parish buildings and property by the local Vestry.

To break any of these essential points is to break them all. To pick or choose or disregard any of these points for any reason is to forever separate oneself from both actual or spiritual association of the Article of St. Louis and all that they stand for. There is no reason or justification ever to pick and choose, or to compromise on these points.

Those persons or organizations deliberately dishonoring these points give evidence to their outright dishonesty, self-aggrandizement and/or outright fraud.

The United Episcopal Church of North America remains firmly committed to these three pertinent provisions of the Articles of St. Louis. None of our parishes need ever fear an attempt to impose central control or authority because to do would be to act in bad faith in light of the entire purpose of separating ourselves from the old church.

Deo vindice (God will vindicate)

Stephen C. Reber, Sr.
Archbishop
May 7th, 2008 A.D.
Statesville, NC"

Anonymous said...

"The Anonymous Anonymous asked. . . ."

If you'll excuse the quibble, I'm clearly identified as "Caedmon" in that post.

The first issue (HCC-AR's apostolic descent from Albert Chambers) being out of the way, I have I a follow up question to my query about HCC-AR's ecumenical involvement with the other three jurisdictions. What's your interpretation of Abp. Reber's statement in the opening paragraph of this UECNA newsletter?:

http://united-episcopal.org/Files/newsletter/GTTrinty2%202007.pdf

Thanks.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

What's your interpretation of Abp. Reber's statement in the opening paragraph of this UECNA newsletter?

I can't get in with that link. I assume he says nothing to contradict the statement that I posted above. If it is along the same lines, it seems that he addressing the St.James situation, and drawing our attention to the one thing that matters most.

That one thing that matters most is that Bishops McNeley and Michael have sued a congregation. Whether their cause is right or wrong, the suit is a sin.

It violates scripture, it violates their own canon law, it renounces the Affirmation of St. Louis.

Allowed to stand, it constitutes a genuine threat, since others may be tempted to imitate. Bad precedents must be squashed.

Anonymous said...

"I can't get in with that link. I assume he says nothing to contradict the statement that I posted above. If it is along the same lines, it seems that he addressing the St.James situation, and drawing our attention to the one thing that matters most."

No offense, Father, but how can you make that assumption when you don't even know what it says? As to the problem with the link here, well, I posted it TWICE at VO, where it does work, and asked TWICE for your comment there.

At any rate, here's the text of Abp. Reber's statement in full. And I am asking how, in light of your comment at VO that the HCC "is not one of the major jurisdictions of the Continuing Church movement. . . .", Reber's comment here can be explained:

Behold, how good an joyful a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. ps 133 v.1

The verse from this short but powerful psalm really expresses the feeling of excitement I have as those of us from the “Chamber’s Connection” begin to come into and work toward full communion with one another. It’s a most joyful thing to contemplate and I truly believe that the Holy Spirit will bless us (the ACC, APCK, HCC & UECNA) in ways we can hardly believe now possible, as we work, pray and worship together. We must only keep in mind that the “Brethren” means those who share all the tenants of the Catholic Faith and that as Brethren we also will have some differences in practice in non-essentials but can and will, as brothers, share our togetherness all the while valuing our individually. I am truly excited about the unity being built and am inviting all who read this message to pray earnestly every day for the Bishops, clergy and people of our church families.

Almighty and Everliving God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth; Mercifully hear our prayers, and grant to the United Episcopal Church, the Anglican Province of Christ the King and the Anglican Catholic Church, original province and the Holy Catholic Church-Anglican Rite all things needful for our spiritual welfare [ministers to labour in our portions of your vineyards, churches complete in the beauty of holiness].Strengthen and confirm the faithful; protect and guide the children; visit and relieve the sick; turn and soften the wicked; arouse the careless; recover the fallen; restore the penitent. Remove all the hindrances to the advancement of thy truth; and bring all to be of one heart and mind within the fold of Thy Holy Church; to the honour and glory of they blessed Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-- Caedmon

Anonymous said...

Dear All,
I am sure Albion would prefer to see this thread close up and I am as sure that most of us would too.
I hope all will forgive me if I look at this case from a different perspective. This perspective originates from my experiences during my former life. No accusations meant or intended, just points to ponder in order to perhaps better understand this irrational behavior.

Questions:
what is the ammount of the total assets of the Kansas city parish in question and how are they held?

How much money from these assets is designated for the retiring bishop's stipend (if any)and how much does the new bishop stand to gain from these assets in order to augment his stipend?

Many years ago I gleaned this remark from a sign posted in front of tire store located in New Hampshire: "When someone states it is not the money, but the principle of the thing that matters, be assured, it's the money."

My experience instructs me that if an event makes no sense on it's face, follow the money.
A very cynicle,
Fr. D.

Anonymous said...

Fr. D, you raise a question that I think is on all our minds about what may underlie all this. But if it's the case that a bishop's loss of a parish might mean his loss of retirement money, what about the other side of the equation? Is not that loss some other bishop's potential gain, and might that not affect his objectivity when it comes to how he views this matter concerning the lawsuit to keep the parish?

It's this type of thing, as I do my "due diligience" on a future church home, that leads me to trust no one implicitly, so I apologize to all the laity, clergy and bishops of the three Continuing Anglican jurisdictions who have been offended by my pesky questions and insinuations. I meant no offense, but simply get to the bottom of things, though I admit my frustration has shown more than I wanted it to publicly.

If it is truly the case that this is all about a bishop's retirement stipend, well, as one who worries about the adequacy of his own retirement funds, who am I to cast the first stone at a bishop who is seeking to care for himself financially, especially when, as I suspect, he won't be retiring as well as I will? And how can small bodies such as those of the Continuum adequately address this issue, so that we don't have to witness this kind of thing?

Pax

Caedmon

Albion Land said...

Brother Caedmon,

I doubt any of us is offended by your "pesky questions." I certainly am not.

I may be wrong, but I believe I have read that there is a great dearth of pension arrangments among the continuing churches.

Ken said...

Well, pension systems are old school depression era stuff. The current practice is the 401(k). Its portable (like some bishops) and generally puts the financial decisions in the hands of the one needs the benefits.

Frankly rather than having the jurisdiction administer the 401(k) I think it ought to be in the hands of priestly fraternaties with some connection to allow jurisdictions to contribute matching funds.

Luanne Fliss said...

I would like to comment on what a pleasant place this is, the posts that I am reading are respectful even when not in agreement, and it is a relief to see that most of you really do "get it" regarding St. James.

I can clear up one or two things. The "long term members" vs. unknown guests issue is actually wrong on both accounts. There were certainly members who didn't know them, but some of us did. There was only one that had been a member until she moved to another state quite a few years ago. She has visited once in a great while since then, only when Bishop McNeley was in attendance. Her children were never members, they were too young. I believe her daughter to have been about 14 and her son about 10 when they last attended services. Our members must be at least 18. Her daughter attended college nearby in Lawrence, presumably for four years. We did not see her once in that time, although we have a couple who drive that distance every Sunday. I'm sure they would have given her a ride if she had been inclined. The son-in-law had never previously stepped foot in our church, though we did have their wedding picture up on our bulletin board. Since you have to be Christian, confirmed in the apostolic succession, attending the church and over 18 to be a member, I think anyone can figure that out.

I would also like to clarify the legal issue. We were dragged into the courts against explicit Biblical instruction. Paul himself told us that it is better to be defrauded. The judge was prepared to turn the keys over to us, we could have had our vote and dragged the whole sordid mess out even longer. Instead we agreed to be defrauded and not fight. There really never was much fight in us, only a desire to distance ourselves from the anything goes because I said so episcopal bishoping. It is even more painful when it is someone you have loved dearly and respected greatly.

Yes, they should have let us have the vote. Everyone advised the Bishops to let us have the vote, even those who would have voted to remain in the diocese. It would seem ridiculous to have it now and return for more abuse. Actually, almost everyone has actually felt better since being booted out. Better to be an exile than to be attacked and constantly hear our priests being scapegoated and blamed for every problem the Bishops brought on themselves.

It is very comforting to see that people actually care about us "few renegades" and where we end up. We have been offered temporary sanctuary and have been treated with great Christian kindness at Trinity Anglican. It is a beautiful thing. If you would like, I would be happy to keep you informed when our hopes for the future become real plans.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Of course, I was here in Maryland on Tuesday morning. But, it seemed, from the account I was given, that the judge was leaning on the side of the "renegades." What can be done for the clergy and their families?

Nonetheless, your problem has exposed two renegade bishops to be "false apostles, deceitful workers, etc." And, they are the ones who initiated court action, not you.

Nonetheless, Bishop McNeley was excommunicated from the ACC for striking a bishop and threatening other bishops, and he has never sought restoration from them. His entire ministry is false until he goes, mitre in hand, to be forgiven.

John A. Hollister said...

Caedmon wrote, "At any rate, here's the text of Abp. Reber's statement in full. And I am asking how, in light of your comment at VO that the HCC 'is not one of the major jurisdictions of the Continuing Church movement. . . .', Reber's comment here can be explained".

For some time prior to Bp. Leo Michael's departure from the UECNA, he had been editing and producing that group's internal newspaper or provincial bulletin.

Therefore, I suspect one will find that the statement quoted by Caedmon was drafted not by Abp. Reber, at least in its references to the HCC, but by Bp. Michael, who, it now appears, was even at that date planning his transfer there.

Thus given the conflict between a statement published in Bp. Michael's journal and Abp. Reber's letter to the HCC(AR) bishops, I for one believe Abp. Reber's personal letter.

Bp. Michael's simultaneous activities with two separate church jurisdictions remind me of a conversation I had in the 1970s. A friend told me a couple planning to be married, being very "modern", intended to have an "open marriage". That is, each partner would be free to have relationships with outsiders.

I responded that there was nothing "modern" about "open marriage" because it's been with us for a long time; it's just that usually only one partner knows that the marriage is "open".

In that spirit, for a period of time it appears that Bp. Michael was exercising an "open" episcopate.

John A. Hollister+
:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Canon Hollister, for this explanation. After asking hither and about 10 times for an explanation, this is this the first plausible one I've received. It's been like pulling teeth.

However, there are still a couple of niggling questions, both about fact and logic. Please indulge me as I ask these here:

You write, "Therefore, I suspect one will find that the statement quoted by Caedmon was drafted not by Abp. Reber, at least in its references to the HCC, but by Bp. Michael, who, it now appears, was even at that date planning his transfer there."

Then how is it that the UECNA newsletter with Bp. Leo's interpolation about the HCC stayed out there, online on the UECNA web site for everyone to see, as well as, presumably, many hard copies in the hands of its bishops, priests, deacons and laity without no one noticing the interpolation until I pointed it out a few days ago? Why didn't anyone raise a fuss about the interpolation before? Nobody has touched this question yet, though I have asked it several times.

Next: "Thus given the conflict between a statement published in Bp. Michael's journal and Abp. Reber's letter to the HCC(AR) bishops, I for one believe Abp. Reber's personal letter."

Sorry, I've lost you: what letter of Abp. Reber to the HCC(AR)?

Finally, I have some information in my possession that Bp. Leo's activities in the HCC - AR in the months preceding his departure from UECNA were actually AUTHORIZED by Abp. Reber, and this may very well explain why Bp. Michael referred to them in the newsletter, and also why the UECNA didn't seek to issue any official correction about the content of the newsletter.

Until now, anyway.

Comments regarding this?

Caedmon

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Finally, I have some information in my possession that Bp. Leo's activities in the HCC - AR in the months preceding his departure from UECNA were actually AUTHORIZED by Abp. Reber, and this may very well explain why Bp. Michael referred to them in the newsletter...

I was informed about that too. I am told that what was authorized was ecumenical dialogue, and nothing more.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Caedmon:

I cannot approve a comment in which you argue with Fr. Sparks unless he comments here. That conversation was taking place on VOL.

Anonymous said...

"I was informed about that (Abp. Reber's authorization of Leo Michael's dealing with the HCC-AR) too. I am told that what was authorized was ecumenical dialogue, and nothing more."

Right. That's what I've been saying all along. So, if that's the case, that would explain why there was a reference to the HCC-AR in that 2007 Glad Tidings newsletter. And it would also explain why the UECNA never yanked the online version from its website until now, and why there was no official correction to the reference to the HCC-AR in that newsletter until now.

Is everyone with me here? Canon Hollister said in a post above that "to his knowledge" there were no such ecumenical overtures toward the HCC-AR back in 2007. A number of people associated with this blog have said, in essence, that the HCC-AR has been beneath their notice. And you stated over at VO that the HCC "is not one of the major jurisdictions of the Continuing Church movement."

But the 2007 newsletter provides such evidence of such ecumenical activity with the HCC-AR (mentioning in that text context the ACC, APCK and the UECNA), and you yourself acknowledge that Reber appears to have authorized it. Moreover, that newsletter in fact would appear to indicate that the HCC-AR was considered at the time to be something of a "player" in the Continuing Anglican movement.

My question then, is this: why did the UECNA yank the online version of that newsletter a day or two after I mentioned it here and on VO publicly? And then why did it, as of last night or so, publish what is purportedly the "original text" of Reber's statement, which doesn't contain any reference to the HCC-AR? Don't you see how all this makes it appear that UECNA, and possibly the ACC too, is trying to hide something? Don't you see how posting an "original text" of Reber's statement, in light of all the foregoing, naturally raises suspicion that the UECNA merely omitted the references to the HCC-AR from the article?

So, will one of you please address these questions? If so, please be direct, specific, and fully responsive. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

"I cannot approve a comment in which you argue with Fr. Sparks unless he comments here. That conversation was taking place on VOL."

Fair enough, Fr. But please note, as I stated in my response to you, that pressing y'all on this question does not necessarily equate to support for the HCC-AR, something I've both said and implied repeatedly.

John A. Hollister said...

Caedmon asked,

1. "[H]ow is it that the UECNA newsletter with Bp. Leo's interpolation about the HCC stayed out there, online on the UECNA web site for everyone to see, as well as, presumably, many hard copies in the hands of its bishops, priests, deacons and laity without anyone noticing the interpolation until I pointed it out a few days ago? Why didn't anyone raise a fuss about the interpolation before?"

Not being a member of the UECNA, I can only speculate here. I do know that the "bishops" of the UECNA consisted of precisely two in regular active service (it has a couple more with whom it maintains relationships of intercommunion but only two of its own, if I'm correctly understanding the lines of communication and authority).

Those two bishops were Abp. Reber and Bp. Michael. Abp. Reber does not do email (from which I would deduce that he may well not do any techie stuff, as email is most people's entry portal into the world of the Web). There have been comments published by Bp. Michael which suggest Michael was serving as Abp. Reber's "e-postmaster", which would have permitted him to censor anything that arrived electronically before it was passed on in hard copy.

As to why no one raised a public stink about the interpolation of the HCC(AR) into the list of St. Louis churches, I do not know, but would not be in the least surprised if by that time Leo Michael had not already been causing some problems within the UEC. Sometimes there's only enough water and hose to fight one fire at a time.

2. "What letter of Abp. Reber to the HCC(AR)?"

In early to mid 2007, Bp. Michael went to Kansas City, ostensibly to discuss with the HCC(AR) bishops the terms on which the UECNA would be willing to assume oversight of the HCC(AR)'s parishes as its bishops, one by one, recede to that great cathedra in the sky.

From subsequent events I now suspect, although I cannot prove, that Michael had given the HCC(AR) bishops advance notice of the terms he was carrying with him and which had been approved by Abp. Reber. This would explain why the HCC(AR) side was ready at that meeting with a new proposal that varied substantially -- in fact contradicted -- the HCC(AR)'s original request to the UECNA.

There was a third-party impartial witness present at the meeting, so Bp. Michael proceeded as expected to read out the terms he had been authorized and instructed to convey. Instead of discussing those, however, the HCC(AR) side immediately responded, "Oh, we don't really need to discuss that, because after all, we've always been in communion with the UECNA anyway. So instead of any other agreement, we can just sign a formal acknowledgement of that."

The HCC(AR)ers then produced a written, unilateral declaration of intercommunion with the UECNA, which all the HCC(AR) bishops signed. This was given to Bp. Michael, the meeting was over, and apparently Michael transmitted the new HCC(AR) overture to Abp. Reber.

Abp. Reber's response was to write a letter to the HCC(AR) bishops, setting them straight. He told them that while those among them who were former ACC had been, while in the ACC, in communion with the UECNA, when they, as individuals, left the ACC, they likewise abandoned the relationship of intercommunion that existed between the two churches.

Therefore, he expressly told them, the UECNA is not in communion with the HCC(AR).

Leo Michael's "editing" of Abp. Reber's statement (a statement that was actually about the ACC and the APCK) occurred, as I recall, after this. Michael has recently pointed to the altered statement as "evidence" that the UECNA and the HCC(AR) are in a state of communion, and has called Abp Reber a liar, because that is what he would like people to believe. If believed, it would place him and his own actions in a much better light than presently shines on them.

The reason I believe Abp. Reber when he says he has never acknowledged any state of communion between his church and the HCC(AR) is that even BEFORE Bp. Michael went to Kansas City to talk with the HCC(AR) bishops, Abp. Reber had transmitted his proposed terms to the ACC's bishops. He asked the ACC for assurances that the limited discussions he envisioned would not imperil the UECNA's newly-reaffirmed relationship with the ACC.

He said that if it came to a choice between keeping its relationship with the ACC and refusing to talk to the HCC(AR), the UECNA was keeping its relationship with the ACC. He was told that while the ACC very much appreciated the integrity with which he was observing the obligations of intercommunion, and while from the ACC's point of view all of the HCC(AR)'s original bishops were simply ACC clergymen under sentence of deposition (and, in McNeley's case, of excommunication as well), the ACC would not stand in the way of the UECNA's providing a church home for these bishops' adherents. It would not even stand in the way of those bishops under sanctions being afforded the status of retired bishops within the UECNA, if that was the best way to handle them.

So Abp. Reber knew that any declaration of UECNA/HCC(AR) intercommunion would sever the UECNA's relationship with the ACC. Further, he expressly stated he was not going to risk that relationship. Thus I for one believe him and believe the letter of clarification he wrote the HCC(AR) bishops.

Contrariwise, Bp. Michael has recently proven conclusively that he sits very lightly to the truth.

And, frankly, given the bizarre trail of events that has unfolded over the past few weeks, I think Abp. Reber was extraordinarily wise immediately to squash the move by the HCC(AR) bishops -- and, it now seems, his own suffragan Leo Michael -- to "set him up" on this issue.

Further evidence that Michael was attempting to create a "fait accompli" is found in the "Koinonia" newsletter that Michaels issued simultaneously with his transfer to the HCC(AR). (In fact, copies of his new magazine hit many peoples' mailboxes before news of his change of faith did.)

That issue was little more than a paen to the virtues of the HCC(AR) as a legitimate descendent of the St. Louis succession and as a real player in the "Continuing Church" movement. As Michael had thrown his lot irrevocably with the HCC, it was certainly in his interest to support its claims to be a real church with some real legitimacy behind it. Since then, his actions, as distinct from his words, have cast considerable doubt on that proposition.

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Caedmon:

None of the four of us who post on the Continuum are in any position to answer your questions in any official way. I do not represent the UECNA, and am only just meeting them, so to speak. But, there is a big difference between allowing conversations to take place between a bishop (Leo Michael) of the UEC and people from the HCC-AR. Since we see that there was no genuine intention on Leo Michael's part to actually represent the UEC to the HCC-AR, we may conclude that he deceived Archbishop Reber and the UEC the whole time.

Meanwhile, the UEC was in real communion with the ACC (and the quickly shrunken APCK latched hold of them for dear life). There is a difference.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

The UECNA had only two active bishops? In that case, I know that Leo Michael announced to his congregation in the summer of 2007 that the archbishop was in bad health, and that he, Leo Michael, was going to be the new archbishop. This I know from an eye witness who, seeing this display of insanity, ran like hell and never went back.

His proud, carnal ambitions were obviously frustrated. The UECNA is well rid of this menace.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Hart wrote, "I know that Leo Michael announced to his congregation in the summer of 2007 that the archbishop was in bad health, and that he, Leo Michael, was going to be the new archbishop."

Abp. Reber will reach the age of 75 in 2011 and, from what I have been told of the UECNA's Constitutional and Canonical structure (for I have never had the documents to read), the Presiding Bishop retires at that age. This is unlike the situation in some other groups where a bishop upon reaching that age starts submitting his resignation annually but, if his health and faculties hold out and he and his people are all in agreement, that resignation may be rejected annually as well.

Somewhat like the case of Fr. Hart's witness at the meeting of St. Gabriels' which Fr. Hart cited, I have been told by someone who was told by Abp. Reber that, earlier this year, Bp. Michael -- whose status was only that of a Suffragan without right of succession -- asked Abp. Reber to appoint Michael as Abp. Reber's successor.

Abp. Reber replied that it was not in his power to do this because at the point of Abp. Reber's retirement, it would be the right of the people of the UECNA to determine their own future.

(It doesn't take a crystal ball to figure out that they would have had three options: elect Bp. Michael as Abp. Reber's successor, elect someone else as Abp. Reber's successor, or elect to join some other group.)

Obviously, Leo Michael was not satisfied that with this scenario. Apparently he was not confident of his ability over the next three years to recommend himself to the majority of the UECNA as their overall leader; either that, or a three-year wait was simply not fast enough to gratify his ambitions.

So, very shortly after his conversation with Abp. Reber, he betook himself to the HCC(AR). The bishops there, unlike Abp. Reber, were prepared to set aside the canonical rights of the people affected and, instead of calling for a diocesan electoral synod to choose Bp. McNeley's successor, they simply appointed Michael as the successor. As their authority for disregarding their church's and the diocesan canons, they referred to some vague "apostolic canon", the text of which was never revealed and which was never identified by title, date, or the authority which issued it.

In all this, there is one great unresolved question: when Bp. Michael was installed (or perhaps will be installed in the newly-distrained St. James Church), was he handed (or will he be handed) that vital symbol of the office he is assuming, Bp. McNeley's .357 Magnum?

John A. Hollister+

Ken said...

In all this, there is one great unresolved question: when Bp. Michael was installed (or perhaps will be installed in the newly-distrained St. James Church), was he handed (or will he be handed) that vital symbol of the office he is assuming, Bp. McNeley's .357 Magnum?


Perhaps it could be integrated into their logo?

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