Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Communion Partners Plan

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! -Matt. 6:22,23

From a report in The Living Church:

The rectors of 17 large Episcopal parishes have formed Communion Partner Rectors (CPR), the clerical counterpart to similar organizations for bishops and primates. “We are a group of rectors who share a common commitment to the authority and traditional interpretation of holy scripture, the creedal and historic faith, orthodox theology with an evangelical fervor to faithfully live and preach the Good News of Jesus Christ,” the group said in a release. “We are also firmly committed to remain in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, respecting and honoring the proper authority of our bishops and working in concert with them to strengthen our voice within the church.” The Rev. Russell J. Levenson, Jr., rector of St. Martin’s Church, Houston, a spokesperson for the group, said the organization will provide traditionalist-minded clergy with a way to differentiate from the “revisionist” drift of the national church without actually leaving it.

As I was seated on a stair

I saw a man who wasn't there.

He wasn't there agian today

I wish that man would go away

This is about the plan that wasn't there again today. It is a perfect example of why Continuing Anglicans have a message that the rest of the Anglicans need to hear

In March 2007 the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church rejected a plan for Alternative Primatial Oversight. APO, proposed in the Communiqué from the 2007 meeting of primates in Dar es Salaam, was meant to allow a diocese or parish the option of receiving both episcopal ministry from someone other than the diocesan ordinary, and the protection of primatial oversight from a primate other than the presiding bishop. Therefore, the three Forward in Faith bishops in North America (joined shortly afterward by Bishop Robert Duncan) began the process that has led to the ongoing realignment battles. A less spectacular result was the Communion Partners Plan, announced in a meeting of the HOB in September 2007 by Katherine Jefferts-Schori, Presiding "Bishop" of TEC.

The Rev. Dr. Charles Robertson, canon to Ms. Jefferts-Schori, described the Communion Partners Plan (CPP) as a way "to give dioceses the pastoral guidance and care they need while remaining faithful and loyal members of the Episcopal Church." The plan is reminiscent of the English “flying bishops” proposal, allowing bishops to give ministry to conservative parishes, in this case for people who do not accept the current trend of TEC toward same sex blessings, and the ordination of practicing homosexuals and lesbians.

Single Issue Reasserters

This raises the question, once again, apart from that one issue of homosexuality, what do Reasserters care about? The authority of the Bible, or so we are told (the Divine Authorship of Holy Scripture is far more than mere "authority"). If so, concerning what other issues do they even seem to notice a departure from Scriptural teaching? Where have they been on denials of the Virgin Birth, Christ's atoning once for all sacrifice on the cross, the historical, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, and a whole host of apostasies by their denomination? Where are they on the right to life of children in the womb? The multiple marriages of their clergy (many of whom have been the husband of one wife, as in one at a time)? And, yes, the corruption of Holy Orders?

If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness...

The report in The Living Church stated:

“I’ve never signed any of these kinds of statements before,” Fr. Levenson said. “At the same time, I’ve become increasingly frustrated by two sides: orthodox Anglicans who say the only solution is to leave The Episcopal Church, and revisionists who insist on pushing their position to the point where it becomes almost a form of liberal fundamentalism."

The Communion Partners Plan is for bishops to extend ministry to conservative churches, and for Anglican primates outside of TEC to act as advisors. The plan is intended to satisfy conservative members of TEC so that its members will not continue to leave in droves (trying to cling to all that valuable Real Estate). So far, 13 bishops of TEC have volunteered to be part of the plan, and so have three primates from other Anglican churches. On May 9 of this year, Katherine Jefferts-Schori wrote a personal letter to Bishop D. Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana, one of the 13 CPP Bishops, declaring her appreciation of the spirit in which the project has proceeded and its apparent good will; however, she also wrote that it is not appropriate for her to give any official sanction to the proposal.

Canon Robertson also said:

The revised 'Communion Partners' initiative proposes to provide “a visible link to the Anglican Communion” for concerned dioceses and parishes, “to provide fellowship, support and a forum for mutual concerns between bishops,” and establish “a partnership to work toward the Anglican covenant and according to Windsor Principles.”

The reality is this: The plan provides the feeling of distance between one’s own parish and the libertine drift of TEC. Nonetheless, for the plan to go into effect anywhere requires the permission of the diocesan bishop, permission that may be granted, refused, or withdrawn for any reason; for that matter, without stating any reason. Bishop John Howe of Central Florida has called CPP “a step forward, albeit a small one.”

Three Monkeys on the shelf

The Communion Partners Plan is not a small step at all. It is a major step into self-inflicted delusion. It is like the three monkeys on the shelf: "Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil." It is worse for conservatives when a limited amount of orthodoxy is tolerated rather than denied outright. For, a mark of the Church is that the truth is taught authoritatively, not tolerated as an option. The reason it is worse for conservative Episcopalians is that they fail to hear, mention or see the urgency. The Communion Partners Plan is about as helpful to these weak-minded people as an enabler is to an alcoholic.

The bad voting record of some Communion Partners Plan bishops

The 13 Communion Partner bishops are: William H. Love, Albany; John W. Howe, Central Florida; James M. Stanton; Russell E. Jacobus, Fond Du Lac; Michael G. Smith, North Dakota; Edward S. Little, Northern Indiana; Geralyn Wolf, Rhode Island; Mark J. Lawrence, South Carolina; John C. Bauerschmidt, Tennessee; Don A. Wimberly, Texas; Gary E. Lillibridge, West Texas; James M. Adams, Western Kansas; D. Bruce MacPherson, Western Louisiana.

The only bishop of the 13 who announced that he would attend GAFCON is Bishop Lawrence of South Carolina, who was also the first to object to the depositions of Bishops Cox and Schofield.

As for some of the other bishops, Bishop Howe* voted in favor of same sex blessings in the Book of Occasional Services at the General Convention in 2000, and consented to the consecration of Gene Robinson at the 2003 General Convention. Stanton voted in favor of same sex blessings in the Book of Occasional Services in 2000, but he was very much against Robinson’s consecration in 2003. Jacobus voted in favor of same sex blessings in the Book of Occasional Services in 2000, and consented to Gene Robinson’s consecration in 2003. Little voted for both same sex blessings and Robinson’s consecration. Wolf also voted in favor of both. Adams also consented to Gene Robinson’s consecration. MacPherson also voted in favor of same sex blessings in the Book of Occasional Services, and consented to Robinson’s consecration.

If these two things together make the issue, namely same sex blessings and "gay" clergy, just what is going on here?

(The three Communion Partner primates are Archbishop Valentino L. Mokiwa of Tanzania, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi and Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies, all of whom represent the Global South.)

The Reasserters, both in and out of TEC, continue to be quite a puzzle.

* John Howe? As a one time member of NOEL, and having a history in the Charismatic movement myself, that hurts.


Brad Drell said...

You are most incorrect. Bishop MacPherson did not consent to Robinson. Moreover, he did not vote to add same sex blessings to the Book of Occaisonal Services. You have your facts wrong.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I wish you were right.