Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Response to Bishops Kleppinger and Michael

Canon 10 HCC/AR “Constitutional Canons”: “Any member of this Church who shall … initiate any action regarding a Church matter in any civil court is automatically excommunicated and removed from membership in this Church from the moment he sets pen to paper.”

By John A. Hollister+

The following two statements on the situation at St. James, Kansas City, the first from HCC(AR) Bishop Thomas Kleppinger and the second from HCC(AR) Bishop Leo J. Michael, were copied from Bp. Michael’s “Epsicoblog”. Their texts are therefore assumed to be correct statements of official HCC(AR) positions and policies.

My comments thereon are interleaved in Italics.


"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.

I am sure the Rector, Senior Warden, and Vestry of St. James wish you had called them before you seized their land, buildings, church furnishings, other property, and money. They have been dispossessed and thrown out on the street; you have merely been put to the trouble of sitting down and writing out your side of the story.

“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.

Indeed. In fact, the deed to St. James’ church building places that property in the name of “St. James Anglican Catholic Church”, a clear sign that St. James acquired that land and building well before either the Holy Catholic Church (Anglican Rite) (HCC[AR])) or its Diocese of the Holy Trinity and Great Plains (DHTGP) first came into existence in 1997. There is therefore no rational ground for supposing that the DHTGP has any interest whatever in that property and certainly none that it has any standing to sue that Parish as a Plaintiff in its own name over control of that property. But that is just what the DHTGP has done.

“St. James’ Committee [i.e., the ‘Bishop’s Committee’ which the Plaintiffs claim is entitled to run St. James since the Bishops ‘reduced St. James to mission status’] is comprised of long term and faithful members of St. James, who wanted to protect its property.

These “long term and faithful members” are faithful to just whom, pray tell? All the members of this Bishop’s Committee were appointed by Bp. McNeley or Bp. Michael and so must be presumed to be beholden to those two. One of the four Committeemen is James Daniels, the Junior Warden of St. James who appears to believe that his duties include suing his fellow Vestry members to throw them out of office and out of the building. Another of the four is Lynn Baxter, who it is said to be paying for the DHTGP’s lawyer of record and who is best remembered for ending her term as Bursar of the Anglican Catholic Church by refusing to turn over that Church’s funds to her successor but, instead, giving them to the HCC(AR). Somehow Bp. Kleppinger’s appraisal of these Committeemen’s loyalty and faithfulness just doesn’t seem calculated to sooth the fears of the people who are being sued.

And while we’re on the subject, just what is Bp. Kleppinger’s definition of “loyalty”?

“The rector, who came from another jurisdiction,

All of the HCC(AR)’s original members, including Bp. Kleppinger who wrote this letter, and even Bp. McNeley whose Diocese is doing the suing, came to the HCC(AR) from some other jurisdiction. Even Bp. Michael came from another jurisdiction and did so as recently as February 18 of this year. So just what is the point of this dig at Fr. Cocran? How does his curriculum vitae justify the DHTGP’s interference with his ministry at St. James? After all, wasn’t its the DHTGP and the HCC(AR) that accepted him from that other jurisdiction, whatever it was?

“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.

These "long time loyal members" in most Christian congregations would be considered ineligible ab initio for membership. Others are said to have long absented themselves from St. James.

“4.2 Of Members in Good Standing

“All Baptized members who shall have for one year next preceding have fulfilled the requirements of this Church … unless for good cause prevented are members of this Church in good standing.”

Section 4.2, Canon 4, “Canons for the Government of the Diocese of the Holy Trinity ad Great Plains”. And just what does a Buddhist Baptismal certificate look like, again?

“4.3 Of Communicant Members in Good Standing

“All members who have been confirmed by a Bishop of this Church or a Bishop of a Church in formal or canonical Communion with this Church or have been received into this Church by a Bishop of this Church, and who shall, unless for good cause prevented, have received Holy Communion at least at Christmastide, Eastertide, and Whitsuntide during the preceding year, are Communicants in Good Standing of this Church.”

Section 4.3, Canon 4, “Canons for the Government of the Diocese of the Holy Trinity ad Great Plains”.

“15.3 Of Qualifications for Voting and Holding Office

“A voting member of any Parish or Mission shall be a Communicant in Good Standing as defined in CAON 4 of these Canons, at least eighteen (18) years of age, and a member of and contributor of record, monetarily or otherwise, to the life of that Parish or Mission. Each Parish or Mission may establish such additional criteria for voting membership as it may deep appropriate. Holding of office shall be restricted to voting members of the Parish or Mission.”

Section 15.3, Canon 15, “Canons for the Government of the Diocese of the Holy Trinity ad Great Plains” (emphasis supplied)..

So when four strangers present themselves at the Annual Parish Meeting, the officers of the Parish are perfectly entitled to satisfy themselves that these strangers in fact (a) are baptized members of the Parish, (b) have been properly confirmed, (c) have taken Communion in an authorized church community during the three specified Church seasons of the previous calendar year, (d) are contributing members of the church within the meaning of the Canons, and (e) have met such other, more restrictive requirements, as may be imposed by the Parish’s bylaws.

But Bp. Kleppinger makes it quite clear that even when these alleged members have been absent from the Parish for so long that their compliance with these requirements cannot readily be verified, they must be admitted to voting status at the Annual Meeting, on pain of having the church taken away from those officers who were only trying to fulfill their expressly laid down duties.

Is one to suppose that is how Bp. Kleppinger conducts the Annual Parish Meeting at his parish of the Incarnation in Quakertown, PA?

“Ironically, in the annual parish meeting of January 20th, 2008, the parish voted to stay in the Diocese.

Let’s check the minutes on that one. Those minutes might just tell us that one of the issues discussed at the meeting was the HCC(AR)’s decision, taken several years before, to seek merger with the ACA, and the complete lack of any follow up report from the HCC(AR)’s bishops to their members on the results of that approach.

And had the Special Parish Meeting scheduled for May 4 been held, instead of having been blocked by the HCC(AR)’s seizure of the Parish, it is just possible that the people of St. James would have gotten the answer to that question asked at their Annual Meeting: that the bishops of the HCC(AR) did not report on the results of their request because when those did approach the ACA, many senior figures in which know them all too well from prior mutual membership in another church group, the HCC(AR) overture was rejected.

And then it is just possible that some of those who voted in January to stay with the HCC(AR) might have rethought their earlier votes once they found out that the HCC(AR) did not deem them worthy of receiving the information they themselves considered significant.

“Even after such a decision, the rector and his few loyalists were soliciting other jurisdictions, while declaring the see 'vacant'.

Well, if I thought my parish might possibly vote to leave its current church home, I might think it prudent to check out some possible alternatives, too.

As to the declaration that the See of the Holy Trinity and Great Plains (shades of Buffalo Bill!) is “vacant”, if my Bishop announced his retirement, and his episcopal colleagues accepted that retirement, and my Diocese held no election for a successor to our former Bishop, I’d think our See was vacant, too.

“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.

If it were true, Bp. Kleppinger, that the majority of St. James’ members would side with the Diocese and only a minority would side with the Rector, then you wouldn’t have been so scared of the outcome of the proposed vote that you moved heaven and earth to make sure that vote couldn’t take place.

“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,

Let’s get this straight. Article XXI of the HCC(AR)’s Constitution guarantees that each Parish will retain its property and no Diocese can ever sue a Parish over that Parish’s property. Title III, Canon 9 of the “Constitutional Canons” of the HCC(AR) states that “The ownership of all buildings and land acquired and used by any Congregation of this Church shall be determined according to the law of the country concerned.” Canon 10 of those “Constitutional Canons” states that “Any member of this Church who shall … initiate any action regarding a Church matter in any civil court is automatically excommunicated and removed from membership in this Church from the moment he sets pen to paper.” Section 15.6, “Of Parochial Property”, of the DHGP’s Canons states that “Each Parish shall hold title to its real and personal property and this Diocese shall have no legal or possessory interest therein.”

But what you’re telling us here is that these provisions are just the “bait” in a “bait and switch” scheme because the minute a Parish believes you, and tries to exercise what you have declared is its right to leave your church jurisdiction, you will leap in and prevent it from leaving. So your church group is like a crab trap or a lobster pot: you can swim in but you sure as heck won’t ever be able to swim out. Because just as soon as some clergyman suggests to his flock that it might want to consider voting to leave you, he will be “inhibited” for “disloyalty” and his congregation will be reduced to “mission status”, not because it has decayed in numbers or finances but just to permit its bishop to seize control of it through a “committee” of his personal henchmen (and henchwomen).

And while we’re on the subject of inhibitions, you are the same Bp. Kleppinger who, together with Bp. McNeley, swore to the Chancery Court of Mercer County, New Jersey, that a clergyman cannot be “inhibited” because there is no such thing in Canon Law as an inhibition, aren’t you? This little example of cognitive dissonance wouldn’t be what Winston Churchill termed the sanguinary purveyance of terminological inexactitude, would it now?

“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,

Since you are implicitly admitting that a majority of the Parish’s members voted in favor of changing the Parish’s by-laws, how could that have been “arbitrary”?

“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,

We already looked at the DHTGP Canons that set out the level of continued participation in the life of the church that is necessary, first to acquire and then to maintain, voting status, and how those Canons permit the Parish to impose even more onerous requirements than the wider church does.

What we didn’t mention before is that St. James’ bylaws give the Rector the authority to make the determination of who is and who is not a voting member of that Parish.

“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,

And your point is, Bishop Kleppinger? You yourself have a lengthy history of soliciting other churches’ congregations to leave their existing affiliations in order to join you, so why is no one able to solicit one of your congregations to leave you?

“for asking for oversight from the ACC claiming they had no bishop,

To my knowledge, and I’m pretty sure I would have such knowledge were there any there to have, St. James has never approached the ACC in any way since 1997, when it chose – at your instigation, Bishop Kleppinger, along with that of Bishop McNeley – to leave the ACC.

Now I do certainly agree with you that we should all take offense at any allegation that the ACC has no bishops. You yourself know that’s not true, because you used to be one of them. In fact, that’s how you became an undoubtedly valid bishop in the Apostolic Succession in the first place.

“for illegally convening meetings against canons.

So of course you had to go to court to prevent those “illegal” meetings from taking place. It would have been silly to wait for their results and then, if you thought any law or bylaw had been broken, go to court for a “declaratory judgment”, seeking to determine the validity vel non of those meetings’ actions.

“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.

“You haff all zee rights in zee vorld. Und if you are effer sso ssilly as to try to use zem, ve haff vays of dealing vith trouble makers like you.”

“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.

Since regardless of the outcome of the proposed vote, had it been taken, the Parish would have remained the titled owner of its own property, these sentences do not appear to convey any factual information.

Now this “majority” business is interesting, however. The Complaint to the truth of which you swore, to enable the Diocese to effectuate its seizure of the Parish assets – that’s the same Diocese, Bishop Kleppinger, that your man Bp. Leo Michael says did not take over the property (see below), while your lawyer says it did take over that property, and even though that Diocese’s name is on the suit papers as the sole Plaintiff and on the Temporary Restraining Order as the beneficiary for whom the seizure was made -- states that St. James can only vote to leave your church at a meeting where (a) the bishop being left is notified of the meeting and gets to preside at that meeting and (b) three-quarters of the parish membership votes to leave.

But that “requirement” is laid down in the DHTGP’s Canons, not in the parish’s bylaws, under which all decisions are reached by the vote of a simple majority. So the Complaint to which you swore claims that the Canons of the Diocese trump the bylaws of the Parish.

“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.

And these “apostolic canons” are just what, precisely? Can you give us the dates and places of meeting of any Councils of the Church to the canons of which you are here referring?

The appointment of the new bishop, Bp. Michaels, most certainly was not in keeping with the Diocesan canons. Those canons comprise 35 pages of single-spaced typescript, five of which, or more than 14% of the total, are devoted to the calling, electors, timing, conduct, presiding officer, order of business, opening prayers, mode of proceeding, and other minutia concerning the electoral synod by which the Diocese is to choose its new bishop.

Even if all of those requirements could have been complied with in the four days between the time you and the rest of the HCC(AR)’s bishops accepted Bp. McNeley’s resignation and the time you, as Acting Metropolitan, notified the Diocese that you had usurped its right to elect his successor, the fact is that no attempt was even made to comply with these requirements.

“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.

I think we’ve already said just about everything that can be said on the subject of that “election”.

I don’t know about you, Bp. Kleppinger, but if one November I went to the polls in my home state of Ohio, expecting to vote for a new Governor, and instead of a ballot was handed a letter from the Governors of all the other states that they had decided we didn’t need to elect our own Governor because they had already chosen one for us, I would regard the Governor’s Mansion down in Columbus as being technically vacant. I wouldn’t care how loudly those other Governors chanted that they had passed a new set of rules that trumped Ohio’s election laws, I would insist that the guy who moved his furniture into the Mansion was an imposter and a usurper.

“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.

I’m sure that all the Defendants agree with you,that what those Defendants heard Bp. Michael say at the April 20 meeting was, indeed, false. And witnesses other than yours can, and will, attest that the reports are true that say he made those statements. As Victor Hugo Schiro, the late New Orleans undertaker and sometime Mayor once said, “Don’t believe any false rumors, unless they come from me.”

“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.

Speaking of twists, if I’ve managed to decode this somewhat tortured syntax, this Englishes as “I said it, so it’s true, and if you don’t believe me, just ask me”.

“In Fide,

“And what I tell you is the genuine ‘infide scoop’.”


“Ad majorem Dei Gloriam ~ To the Greater Glory of God”

I really dig that little tilde in the middle there. That’s the mathematical symbol for “more or less to the Glory of God”, right?


You just can’t know how glad I am to see that after only ten years and “~” $350,000 spent trying to get you to tell people the truth about who you are and who you are affiliated with, you’ve finally stopped using URLs that claim you are still part of, or actually are, The Anglican Catholic Church.

Well, so much for the organ grinder; now we need to hear from his assistant.

Of ownership and of governance

“Posted by Bp. Leo Michael

“Some like to fish in the troubled waters, without hearing both the side of the story.

“Without hearing both the side of the story.” Is that anything like sneaking into court to get an injunction that the people on the other side know nothing about, and then springing it on that side by having a process server drop papers on them right before they can exercise their Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of freedom of association (that means “meeting”) and free speech (that means telling other people anything you want them to hear, even when Bp. Kleppinger, Bp. McNeley, or Bp. Michael don’t want them to hear it)?

“In the light of what happened at St. James, in Kansas City, MO, there was a story published on Virtue Online filled with inaccuracy, false quotes, and falsehoods.

Yes, I am quite confident that the VirtueOnline story was published “in the light of what happened at St. James”. And I happen to know that the facts related in that story were checked with, among other sources, the “Pastoral Letter” that appears on the DHTGP’s website, the pleadings you had filed into the court record in Kansas City, and the HCC(AR) “Constitutional Canons” that your lawyers filed into the court record along with the DHTGP Canons they also lodged there.

So would you care to point to precisely which parts of that story dealing with these matters of public record were in your view inaccurately reported?

I presume the “false quotes” to which you refer were the quotations attributed to you as what you said at the various Parish meetings. While you may now deny having said those things, I can assure you that the article correctly quoted its informants, i.e., people who were present at those meetings and who say you said those things.

If you, like the late Richard Nixon, taped the meetings, we would all be glad of the chance to hear them and so put to rest this “he said, she said” quibbling.

“I wish facts would have been checked into.

The people of St. James wish facts would have been checked into before the Sheriff descended on them to lock them out of their Church building just before the Feast of Pentecost, one of the most important feasts of the Church year, all on the say-so of Thomas Justin Kleppinger, a man who happens to reside not in Kansas City but in Quakertown, PA and who has never even been a member either of the DHTGP or of St. James. Yet he felt it was perfectly in order for him to swear that, of his own personal knowledge, every jot and tittle of the long “factual” litany contained in your Complaint was absolutely true. I sure wish my crystal ball was tuned in as well as his is, I’d make a mint at the races.

Nor, to this day, have any of those people from St. James been given a chance to tell their side of the story to the judge from whom you obtained this heavy-handed injunction. They were supposed to have a hearing on that Tuesday morning but instead all they got was an ultimatum from your lawyer: “Roll over and die before Friday or we will destroy you” and, as to the clergy defendants, “we will also deprive you of your livelihoods and deprive the Rector of his home”.

“This does not build up the body of Christ or give any credibility to the continuing movement.

And your seizure of St. James to make it your personal Cathedral does “build up the body of Christ” and does “give credibility to the continuing movement”?

How do you think it will affect those who might otherwise have considered joining a “Continuing Church” to learn what your own lawyer has described your game plan in filing this suit to be? This is his description, in a letter he wrote earlier this month:

“2. This is where matters stand at the Parish based, among other things, upon information provided us from “inside” the group of dissident clergy/parishioners:

“a. The Diocese has taken possession of the church premises; taken possession of all check books and accounts; and changed all of the locks;

“b. All of the clergy have been ‘inhibited’, a kind of ‘suspension’ pending trial;

“c. The dissidents have no money and no base with/from which to mount any opposition;

“d. [Name omitted], their lawyer, was selected through the Mo. Lawyers Referral Service – you and I know what that means;

“e. They have no money to pay [that lawyer];

“f. We understand they hope to encourage [name omitted] to take the case anyway in expectation that his attorneys’ fees and costs can be taxed against the Diocese;

“g. We have no indication [name omitted] is stupid enough to do that;

“h. We are told, from inside the dissident group, that they do not intend to fight, that they do not have the wherewithal to fight and that there intention is only to leave; and

“i. The dissident group consists only of 6-7 people, none of whom is able to fund litigation.”

In contrast, of course, the author of this appreciation, Jim Daniels, and Lynn Baxter, are two of the members of your “Bishop’s Committee” and also, between them, can bankroll your suit out of their pocket change. This will keep the suit going indefinitely, or at least until the flock of the congregation you chose for your Cathedral have collapsed of psychic and spiritual inanition. A fine example of even-handedness, Bp. Michael.

“The problem at St. James had nothing to do with ownership of property. The faithful of St. James still own it.

Well, if you define “faithful” to mean “faithful to Leo J. Michael”, they do. But if you have your way, they won’t have it for long. As your own lawyer has also written:

“10. As to the form that settlement can or should take, I am thinking of a consent decree.

“11. The reasons I am thinking of a consent decree are as follows:

“a. In order to avoid facing this problem ever again, we are thinking about placing all of the Parish’s physical assets, building, improvements, personalty, etc. in a foundation;

“b. It would avoid a potentially difficult sales job in and among the remaining parishioners if the Parish could be ordered to establish such a foundation by consent decree;


“e. Third, last time I did this, I obtained a consent decree immunizing the Diocese from further ‘molestation’ and that has been comforting to have.” (Emphasis supplied.

The only way I can read this is that the HCC(AR) bishops have a master plan, designed to circumvent their Constitution and Canons on parish ownership of property and that plan involves using court proceedings that are ostensibly filed against dissidents to strip even the “loyal” parishioners of their assets. Those assets will then disappear into a “foundation” controlled by the bishops, creating a situation similar to the Roman Catholic one where the bishop is a “corporation sole” and holds title to all parish property as well as diocesan property.

Also, the only way I can read “the last time I did this” is that you guys have already started to put this grand plan into execution.

Hang onto your wallets, folks, your bishops are in town.

“The problem was one of church governance.

Yep, like “are we going to follow the Constitution and Canons we had written down, or are you guys going to make up new rules as we go along?”

“The rector, coming from another jurisdiction,

Just refresh my memory here, Leo. What was your ecclesiastical affiliation on February 13 this year? And what, again, was it on February 14? You didn’t give yourself a little Valentine’s present in the form of a new church, and a new diocese, did you?

“reduced parish membership, changed church’s name, changed the bylaws, locked out his own bishop, threatened to sue his bishop on false charges of theft, refused reconciliation, denied the authority of any bishop, conspired with a small group

Hmmm. And just how is a parish supposed to exercise the right that was guaranteed to it to leave the DHTGP and the HCC(AR) that it only joined by the process of exercising the same right to leave the ACC, if it isn’t allowed to change its bylaws or to deny the authority of the bishop it is trying to leave? The same bishop who turned his lawyers loose to take away the Parish’s property and convert it into his own “foundation”? That bishop?

“We guarantee you the right to leave, you just aren’t allowed to do it.”

“and eliminated long time members of the parish roll from the voting list and prohibited proxy voters,

With the “long time members of the parish roll”- see above quotations from your canon law.

“only to have a majority vote of his coterie so that he could take the church and its property to Rome,

Well, if Fr. Cochran did suggest that his people should swim the Tibur, and I have no reason to think he ever did, I can sure see why that would upset you, Leo. After all, you yourself swam that same river in the other direction, didn’t you?

“against the will of the faithful

We’re back to that sticky old point about who is faithful to whom, and over what, aren’t we?

“or the benefactors who had bequeathed the property in perpetuity for Anglican worship.

I know this is going to come to you as a shock, Leo, but in this country when dead people vote it’s considered infra dig. Only those big-city machine politicians do that and the Church is supposed to be above such shenanigans. What we do for our departed members who were donors of memorials is guarantee them that, so long as the church building continues to be used as a church, we will maintain those memorials where they were put. Beyond that we can’t, with honesty, promise them anything. All buildings are subject to the ravages of time and chance, just look on the works of Ozymandias, King of Kings, and despair.

“Also, I was quoted on virtueonline saying, ‘Maybe you aren’t worthy of me’ and ‘Yes, I have the ability to take you to court and take this property.’ How arrogant of me to have uttered such words, I would be totally lacking the basic requirement of humility that Christ demanded of His followers. What followed this false report was very sad.

What follows false reports is usually very sad. What followed the false Complaint filed with the court was not just sad, it was in the literal sense pitiful, and outrageous, too.

“Even Bishops in the continuing movement lowered themselves to grab the opportunity and claim to have holier than thou attitude, stating that they maintain the three principles of St. Louis, 1928 BCP, Male Clergy and Property ownership, as if the problem with St. James was the diocese grabbing the property.

“As if the problem with St. James was the diocese grabbing the property.” Now just think of that. Since Bp. Leo Michael assures us that the diocese didn’t grab the property, why do you suppose that diocese’s lawyer said, as quoted above, “The Diocese has taken possession of the church premises; taken possession of all check books and accounts; and changed all of the locks”?

How do you suppose Jim Daniels got that so wrong? Wasn’t he the guy who did it, after all?

“This same bishop

It sure would help to have a name here, or at least a description of his office. The “Continuing Church” has a lot bishops, almost as many per capita as the HCC(AR) does, do it’s real hard to figure out which one you’re complaining about here.

I mean, we’d all like to know who’s sending out “important warnings” so we can avoid them, same’s we’d also like to know who’s likely to be running around, foaming at the mouth and waving a .357 Magnum, so we can duck for cover.

“has sent out ‘IMPORTANT WARNING TO ALL IN THE CONTINUING CHURCH’ to the people of the continuing faith regarding the church property as though the people have been deprived of the property, which is not the case. They are totally off the mark. Too bad this story has been passed as truth and capitalized on by those with an axe to grind.

Yeah, you gotta to watch those axe grinders; they’re even sneakier than the organ grinders.

“I’m committed to the growth of God’s kingdom than be sullied by the insolence of such people.

If I could decode this, I’d comment on it. Under the circumstances, however, anything I said about it would be pure speculation. Could it be expressing the same sort of thought as Groucho Marx’s immortal “I wouldn’t join any organization that would have someone like me as a member”?

I guess I shouldn’t feel bad about this gap in my understanding; I don’t read Sanskrit or Ugaritic, either. Isn’t it just amazing how the usefulness of American education declined under the influence of the “progressive” movement? You just never know when you could really use one of those bits of arcana you passed up in favor of taking Home Ec. because that cute girl registered for it, too.

I did learn in high school all about King Gilgamesh, and used to feel pretty good about that, too, but that was crushed when my kindergartner climbed into the car after school and asked, “Do you know who King Gilgamesh was, Daddy?” I mean, I didn’t get this until TWELFTH GRADE and he gets it IN KINDERGARTEN? And he’s learned to read TWO WHOLE YEARS EARLIER than I did? And he was analyzing the parts of speech in sentences in kindergarten when I didn’t learn that until 9th Grade?

To heck with it; my self-esteem just can’t cope with these evidences of inadequacy. Translate it into Basic English, Leo, and I’ll give it another try. Until then, this just goes into the file with all my old Dan Quayle quotes.

“There is plenty to be done and we will accomplish everything, God being our helper.

You don’t, perchance, think you’ve done enough already?

“The HCCAR is not a one man show in terms of running the church. There is a hierarchy, there is collegiality, there are canons that are guidelines, and there is discipline. At St. James the faithful are being cared for, those disobedient to canons are being held accountable by the very canons that they had professed by.

“The very canons they had professed by.” That’s odd: I read all 35 pages of the DHTGP Canons and all six pages of the HCC(AR)’s “Constitutional Canons”, and I don’t recall one tiny bit about religious professions.

“(For those who questioned whether there are canons at all, they know we do have them now).

(“We had to stay up all night to grind them out before the meeting, but no sacrifice is too great when you’re doing God’s work.”)

“In case of the property ownership, the intent of those who have gone before us needs to be revered and perpetuated.

Unless those bygone donors would have wanted their gifts to stay with the Parish rather than disappearing down the black hole of the Bishop’s new “foundation”, of course.

“To attack a fellow bishop out of ignorance is unchristian. Do what you can to further the growth of God’s kingdom: if you can’t ask the Lord for grace and strength.”

Could it be: “If you can’t ask the Lord for grace and strength, [then instead] you can do what you can to further the growth of God’s kingdom”? Or, maybe it’s: “Do what you can to further the growth of God’s kingdom [but] if you can’t [then] ask the Lord for grace and strength.”

But wait: those two versions are mutually contradictory, sort of like “Constitutional Canons”. I guess it just depends on whose oxymoron is being gored.


Ken said...

Exactly who are they trying to fool? There are what 6, 7 parishes in the entire "diocese of Holy Trinity and the Great Plains".

Sometimes I wonder what goes on in these people's heads. For instance, I'm not sure how Bishop Michael can complain with a straight face that the priest of St. James came from a different jurisdiction when the bishop himself came for a different jursidiction ONLY FOUR MONTH AGO. The mind reels at the absurdity.

I'm going to go with the "follow the money" angle posted in the other comments.

Let's see, St. James probably has a healthy endowment (after all this congregation of 40 or so can afford a full time priest and two assistant priests), fully paid off church building and a rectory. You know, that place might make a nice cathedra for a newly acquired bishop of the DHTGP. Certainly don't need the old rector anymore with the bishop around there. And that 50 grand a year would make a nice income, not to mention the free home. All I have to do is go to some podunk parishes in the boondocks once or twice a year and I'm sitting pretty in KC eating some good Q, being a bishop in Christ's Holy Catholic Church.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

A bishop who has "no wish to post anything on the S. James', Kansas City, matter as such," has made a very wise statement.

"As a bishop I am content not to have the property club to use to beat about the heads and shoulders of my clergy and parishes. If a bishop behaves himself well, then he will quickly earn a measure of respect from his people and clergy. If a rector wishes to commit schism or be disobedient for frivolous - or even serious but inadequate - reasons, then a good bishop will be able to exact an appropriate price using the moral and religious influence he has earned by virtue of his office and his good works. If that is not enough to keep a parish or priest on board, so be it."

John A. Hollister said...

The Bishop whom Fr. Hart quoted sounds remarkably like a quiet, kind, self-effacing man with whom I worked briefly on a small "unity" project more than ten years ago.

Whoever he be, though, his words are indeed wise and carry the tone of REAL leadership.

"Then there stood up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye itend to do as touching these men....

"And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone : for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to naught : But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight agaist God."

Acts 5:34-35 & 38-39.

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I have been informed that a newsletter written last year from the office of the archbishop of the UECNA, appearing to give status to the HCC-AR, was in fact edited by Leo Michael, and it is he who added them. A representative of the UECNA has told me that they are NOT in communion with the HCC-AR.

Anonymous said...

And my response, which I posted at VO to your identical post there:
What's this, Father? The "Ron Paul" Defense?

Actually, I heard the same thing of late. I guess we'll never know whether or not Abp. Reber and the rest of the UECNA read their own newsletter - even months after the fact.

Nevertheless, I'm willing to give y'all the benefit of the doubt. After all, it's so incredibly Byzantine. And a tangential issue - I *think*.

P.S.: the issue never was whether or not the HCC-AR was in communion with UECNA, but merely whether or not it was ecumenically involved with it and the other Continuing Anglican jurisdictions. I relied on an official publication. Silly me.

Almost thou persuadeth me to go back to Orthodoxy.

Here's my suggestion, which is precisely your suggestion: forget about these side issues and focus on the canonical issues at hand. That's your best argument, and I must say in all honesty that I find it pretty compelling. (That is, unless the other side comes up with something better.)

Of course, there's the possibility that I may have put my finger on something, which is why you're so intent on addressing it with - and please forgive me - such lame responses as would suggest that the the UECNA doesn't even read its own newsletter. But I'm an ignorant outsider and can only guess at such things.

Now, I had fully intended to withdraw from the fray of this debate until I saw your response tonight, and I really would like to just pull out of this thing for good. So please don't provoke me again.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that was me, Caedmon, posting the response about the UECNA newsletter.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I was passing on what was told to me.
Leo Michael was the editor. That just might explain it.

Anonymous said...

I was a parishioner of St. James for 18 years before moving far away in Dec 2006. I continued financial support to St. James until I heard of the antics at the Jan. 20 annual parish meeting which Bp. McNeley attempted to "pack". My only comment is this; If the "dissidents" were just a few "renegades", why not let them vote on leaving?

Ironically, I have had some long discussions with a couple of the "renegades", and they are not certain a vote to leave would have garnered the necessary 75%. If no, then the "renegades", including the clergy, would have had to make a decision to leave or stay. There would have been no question as to who owned the property.

As for me, this has been the last straw. While at St. James we had pushed for affiliation with the TAC. It seemed the time was right for the continuum to unite, but no bishop will give up his mitre for the greater good of the church.

Anonymous said...

"I was passing on what was told to me. Leo Michael was the editor. That just might explain it."

Well, Fr., I don't think it explains it at all, in light of all the circumstantial evidence, more of which I've accumulated in the last few days. And I find especially damning the fact that no one here can explain why it is the UECNA doesn't apparently read its own newsletter.

I have a fair amount of material in my hands now, as well as private communiques from a couple of individuals from both sides of the aisle. The picture that emerges here to me differs somewhat from what has been painted here (and continues to be painted elsewhere). The upshot of it all is that, while there seems to be room for criticism of the goings-on at St. James, fairness is lacking. The devil - meaning the truth - is often in the details.


Albion Land said...


Please remember, The Continuum is not, nor does it purport to be, the official site of either the HCC (AR) or of the UECNA.

If you want to know what they believe, what they profess, what they think about and where they stand, then I suggest you contact them directly. Do not expect to find the answers to any of those questions here, except by pure accident.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Caedmon wrote:

Well, Fr., I don't think it explains it at all...

Actually, it explains everything. Leo Michael was trusted with responsibility which he abused. Not only that, but he was planning this whole thing for about two years, deceiving Archbishop Reber and others the whole time.

in light of all the circumstantial evidence, more of which I've accumulated in the last few days.

Circumstantial? There is nothing "circumstantial" about the evidence at all. It is direct, comprehensive and damning. You cannot possibly have more information than I have. "The details" amount to exactly the same things I have reported.

Also, what makes you call the devil the truth? Someone else is the Truth.

John A. Hollister said...

69jhawk wrote, "While at St. James we had pushed for affiliation with the TAC. It seemed the time was right for the continuum to unite, but no bishop will give up his mitre for the greater good of the church."

Actually, this seems to be one of the very few areas in which the HCC(AR) bishops cannot be held to have been at fault (unless, of course, one counts their simply being who they are as a "fault".)

I cannot imagine why this has been such a mystery to the members of the HCC(AR), when it was a subject of wide (and rather astonished) comment across the "Continuum", but it was reported that the HCC(AR) bishops DID approach the ACA, the TAC's franchise in the US.

According to those same reports, the ACA declined to lumber itself with so many bishops who led so few members but who carried such a load of other baggage.

John A. Hollister+

John A. Hollister said...

The HCC(AR) bishops have a long history of reacting badly to having their actions held up to scrutiny in the news media and other public fora.

News now reaches me from inside the HCC(AR) camp that they have been discussing suing me on the claim that they are the beneficiaries of some legal theory that they believe exempts them from public comment about their origins and activities. In their view, apparently, my comments on their behavior in Kansas City has somehow violated the protections of this "cone of silence".

Why am I singled out in their extreme displeasure over others who have similarly pointed out their dishonesty, ambition, and pride? It may be because this is not the first time we've run afoul of each other but I'm comforted by the reflection that a man is known by the quality of his enemies.

It is interesting that their first reaction to any embarassment is "sue the illegitimi", something which does not bode well for their future ecumenical endeavors. It also says something about them as people. Could this explain why they were rejected for TAC membership?

It is a bit bizarre to think one can enlist the civil courts to exempt one from outside comment contrary to our First Amendment guarantees of free speech and freedom of the press. It would certainly be fun if they tried; under Title 42 of the United States Code, Section 1988 I could mulct them for all my attorneys' fees and costs of defense. That would certainly be a better use of St. James' endowments than whatever they will do with them.

As they say in Loozana, "Lassez bon temps roule'!" ("Let the good times roll!").

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

According to those same reports, the ACA declined to lumber itself with so many bishops who led so few members but who carried such a load of other baggage.

Good for them.

Anonymous said...

"Actually, it explains everything. Leo Michael was trusted with responsibility which he abused. Not only that, but he was planning this whole thing for about two years, deceiving Archbishop Reber and others the whole time."

No, I think what explains everything is not that Bp. Leo Michael added that interpolation, but the behavior of the UEC during the last week and a half, first by yanking that Glad Tidings Tinity II - 207 issue after it had been out there for about a year (that is, yanked only after I pointed it out in the exchanges here and at VLO as evidence that there was AT LEAST some sort of ecumenical effort made toward the HCC-AR) and then by posting, a day or so afterward, the alleged "original text" of Reber's statement in a laughable attempt to "prove" what was "really written."

Yes, that explains everything to me. As does this:

a photo that is consistent with the foregoing.

"Circumstantial? There is nothing "circumstantial" about the evidence at all. It is direct, comprehensive and damning. You cannot possibly have more information than I have. "The details" amount to exactly the same things I have reported."

I don't know exactly what you have; you don't know exacly what I have. But what I have belies what has been said here about the HCC-AR not being a player in the unification gestures (and in the case of the ACC and UEC, an actual intercommunion agreement) that took place during this time.

But it all went South, didn't it, Fr. Hart? And part of the reason it went South, it appears to me, also provides a possible explanation for why Bp. Michael left the UEC for the HCC-AR.

Which only added more fuel to the fire of the ACC's wrath against it.

Like I said from the get-go: bad blood. But such passion never leads anywhere good, Fr. Hart, and "anger dulls the intellect", as St. John Cassian said. Accordingly, there is no way dispassionate, fair analysis of Bp. Michael's actions is going to occur here. Y'all have blood in your eye, and that's all there is to it.

And by the way, I see that the HCC-AR is not the only Continuing jurisdiction that has "sued fellow Christians." Am I not correct?

"Also, what makes you call the devil the truth? Someone else is the Truth."

Oh please. It's an expression. And I think you know what it means in this context.


Fr. Robert Hart said...


You miss the obvious.

Leo Michael was, all by himself, the ecumenical outreach to the HCC from the UEC. He was also the editor of the newsletter and website. He is also the guy who suddenly bolted with no congregation (and very recently). he was frustrated because Archbishop Reber would not appoint him as his successor (because he believed he had no right to do so).

Everything you point to is nothing other than the smoking gun in Leo Michael's hand, and the blood on his hands. Everybody else sees this as obvious, but you don't see it at all. I don't wish to be offensive, but I can only wonder what is wrong with you.

Furthermore, I don't have any personal stake in this matter, nor any previous dealings with these HCC-AR thugs in mitre. This was all brought to me. My outrage is strictly on moral grounds as a disinterested party with a prophetic soul. I am appalled.

Anonymous said...

"You miss the obvious."

We'll see.

"Leo Michael was, *all by himself* the ecumenical outreach to the HCC from the UEC."

You mean, without Reber's blessing? Is that what you're alleging?

"He was also the editor of the newsletter and website."

Yes, and the UECNA left Bp. Michael's supposed "interpolation" in that newsletter for about a year, after posting it on a public website and sending out 1,500 hard copies. Only when that newsletter became an issue here in this debate did the UEC remove it from its website and then post the supposed "original text" of Reber's remarks.

Tell me again, Fr. Hart: who's "missing the obvious" here?

"He is also the guy who suddenly bolted with no congregation (and very recently). he was frustrated because Archbishop Reber would not appoint him as his successor."

That's your story anyway. The one I have differs substantially.

"Everybody else sees this as obvious, but you don't see it at all."

You know the mind of "everybody else", do you? Or is your reference merely to the several partisans on your side of the fence?

"I don't wish to be offensive, but I can only wonder what is wrong with you."

Interesting, since I've been wondering the same thing about y'all for the last week and a half or so.

"Furthermore, I don't have any personal stake in this matter,"

Then why do you keep on about it incessantly, hither and yon?

"This was all brought to me. My outrage is strictly on moral grounds as a disinterested party with a prophetic soul. I am appalled."

Yes, this would be about the fifteenth time you've said this. But what is this: "a prophetic soul?" What in the heck does that mean?


Albion Land said...

This thread has become circular, so I therefor declare it closed to third-party commentary.

What I mean by that is that if any of the principals, such as Bishop Reber or Bishop Michael, wish to comment they will be welcome to do so.

I would also remind Brother Caedmon to guard his tongue. He draws false conclusions about this blog, its owner and co-hosts. He accuses us as having "blood in our eyes."

Caedmon, I have warned you about this before -- imputing dark or underhanded motives to The Continuum. Fr Hart started this discussion, and I take him at his word when he says he is guided by a sense of moral outrage. Ed and I have commented on it, but only to a limited degree, and I do not recall Fr Kirby saying anything, though I may be mistaken.

Furthermore, as I said early on, I was only even vaguely aware of the HCC (AR)'s existence before this thread began, and had no bias toward it, one way or the other. I will acknowledge that my bias is now negative, not only by what has happened with St James but of what I learned about .357 magnums. But to suggest that I, or any of my co-hosts is out to "get" the HCC (AR) is a gross exaggeration.

Anonymous said...

Very well, no more comments from me then. If I may, however, just one point of clarification: by "y'all" having "blood in your eye", I meant principally the ACC, and secondarily other Continuing Anglican spokespersons who have been so vocal on the matter, not this blog per se.


Albion Land said...


Let us be careful with language. When you say "no other comments from me," I take that to mean on this thread, not elsewhere.

I am not a spokesman for the ACC, but a mere Reader on a far-flung island in the Mediterranean, nor have I seen anyone here speak who speaks as such.

I'm not sure the ACC, or any of the other continuing jurisdictions actually have spokesmen. Lacking such creatures, I would assume that the primate of each jurisdiction, called what he may be called, would more than suffice as the spokesman.

Again, as for the ACC, that would be Archbishop Mark Haverland. It is for him to choose whether he speaks or not.

But, meantime, could we move on?

What about the psalms, for example?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I am not a member of the ACC.

What Caedmon overlooks is that Leo Michael was a trusted member of the UEC, a bishop in fact.

The information given to me from Archbishop Reber's representative, by phone, is as follows: Leo Michael was appointed, because he had so requested, to carry on ecumenical dialogue with the HCC-AR, but was secretly planning his move there instead. Leo Michael was never authorized, however, to announce any kind of communion between the two jurisdictions.

I add these two thoughts.

I do not know to what degree Leo Michael may have tied up the UEC website, or parts of that website, with passwords, etc. But, I know how easily that can be done. Maybe they can tell us if that happened.

If Archbishop Reber is to be faulted, it is for trusting so unstable and underhanded a character. He is not to be faulted for taking steps to correct the situation, or for setting the record straight.