Friday, January 16, 2009

UECNA Suffragans

Fr. David Straw asked if I would post this press release. I find it newsworthy due to the participation of three distinct jurisdictions of our woeful divided Continuing Anglican movement. May this herald a movement toward true unity of Catholic Anglicans.

ed pacht

The United Episcopal Church of North America (UECNA) consecrated three new suffragan bishops on January 10th 2009. The three men were elected by the lay and clergy representatives at the UECNA’s recent triennial Synod in October of 2008. Participating in the consecrations were the Most Rev. Stephen C. Reber, Sr. the Archbishop and Presiding Bishop of the UECNA as well as the Rt. Rev. D. Presley Hutchens, Bishop Ordinary of the Anglican Catholic Church’s Diocese of New Orleans, and the Rt. Rev. Dr. William Wiygul, Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of the Southern States of the Anglican Province of Christ the King.

Consecrated bishop were the Rev. Peter D. Robinson, Rector of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Prescott AZ, the Rev. Harry Samuel Seamans, Rector of St. Thomas Church, Mountain Home, AR, and the Rev. Wesley L. Nolden, II, Priest-in-Charge of Trinity Anglican Church, Evansville, IN. The service was held in St. Louis, MO with over 140 in attendance and occurred only two miles from the site of the signing of the Affirmation of St. Louis. The consecration of these bishops emphasizes the growing positive cooperation between the three jurisdictions which have had intercommunion agreements since 2007. The three new suffragan bishops will not only work for Archbishop Reber, but will be available to assist diocesan bishops in the other two jurisdictions should the need arise. The approval of Archbishop Reber will be required as well as either Archbishop Haverland, or Archbishop Provence depending upon the jurisdiction requesting the assistance.


Anonymous said...

Forgive my ignorance. I'm new to Anglicanism and, for that matter, Christianity.

Is it Catholic to have lay representatives select Bishops?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Yes it is, and quite in keeping with the ancient canons and customs of the Church. The lay people and the clergy have to live with the bishops once they are established in their dioceses.

Anonymous said...

I have to ask why does a jurisdiction with 300-600 people need 3 more Bishops if reunification with it's sister churches is imminent?

Along Bruce's line: Is it Catholic for Bishops to be the husband of more than one wife? I see two names presented where that is the case. Does participation of these Bishops mean that divorce and remarriage will be as permissible as is the case with the evangelicals?

I see the following article posted presents questions regarding the new continuers and their plight of not understanding or renouncing error. Is not serial monogamy such an error as has brought low many of the mainline denominations?

Is it fair to say that the CC refuses to renounce a few of it's own errors?



poetreader said...

Dear John,

I want to say, quite respectfully, that it is uncommon for Christians to treat other Christians with due respect, and that there are prevailing wauys of thought that seem to reflect this, even in the hands of otherwise respectful people. I.m not questioning your motives in answering your bottom line question first, by saying bluntly, "No, on the basis of what you've presented, such a conclusion is not fair, and the very asking of the question gives the appearance of endorsing such an opinion.

As to the need of the bishops fore UECNA, I asked the same question that you do, but knowing some of the parties involved, approached it as a simple question, looking for information. Perhaps someone from the jurisdiction can answer more fully. My impression was of a small jurisdiction becoming a bit top-heavy. I'm not convinced the decision was entirely wise, but UEC did discuss the matter with its partner jurisdictions, both of which participated in the consecration, and both of which are likely to use the services of these men as time goes by.

As for your charges of 'serial polygamy', it is distinctly unfair to assert that two of these men are thus blemished without identifying them or giving any particulars. Vague and unspecified charges are nothing more than rumormongering.

What I'm seeing here (though it very likely is not your intent) is a reflection of the constant attempt of Christians of one stripe or another to besmirch those with whom they disagree. This has to end, and yesterday is not soon enough. Can't we begin to look for ways to support one another and to attempt, gently and lovingly, to lead each other out of our errors and abuses (we all, every one of us have them) to the fullness of truth?

Remember this, that it is quite possible, and even common, to be perfectly correct as to matters of fact and doctrine, and yet totally and sinfully wrong with regard to attitude. I've found myself there often, and have eaten a heck of a lot of crow, and anyone who does not know intimately how bitter a taste that is, needs to be on his knees begging for some.

The Taste of Repentance

Crow pie,
oh my!
before I die,
feed me crow pie.

one self-righteous sinner among others,
ed pacht

Anonymous said...

Here we go again:

"Remember this, that it is quite possible, and even common, to be perfectly correct as to matters of fact and doctrine, and yet totally and sinfully wrong with regard to attitude."

Poetreader: am I to understand that gross error is okay, as long as one has a nice attitude? or that moral/doctrinal soundness is trumped by a mean spirit?

I grant, in advance, that my own attitude is churlish, surly, mean-spirited, unkind and (fill in the blank with the adjective of your choice). Have I raised a valid issue?

From the language he employs, I am unable to detect anything whatever about John's attitude. But he is raising some substantial issues, which cannot be brushed aside with
a sentimental platitude.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Pacht ,

I cannot account for your uniformed answer.

I specifically did not mention the names for the very reasons you mention as I am not interested in making it personal. And you seem to infer that I have an insincere motive- I do not. My unanswered question regards policy and the authority of scripture in the CC and whether the last two posts demonstrate a log in the eye. The election of the Episcopate and their qualifications and behavior is a matter defined by Scripture and therefore is the business of the Church. Defects will perpetuate separation as is noted in the Thames article.

For the sake of clarity the Bishops in question are not the new UECNA suffragans. I did not charge “serial polygamy”. I do not know what that is or how many wives it requires.

So Mr. Pacht is your solution is to pretend this well know issue does not exist? How are you any different from the folks at Stand Firm?

Your charge that I am making a “charge” or “rumor” is more like the reaction of the new continuers on that other blog. When they are uncomfortable with an issue in their church they generally ignore it. If you mention it they attack the person rather than address the issue from sound theology or practice.

One of the Bishops mentioned in this post was the focus of a well known bitter row over divorce that resulted in schism. The divorce became an issue twice within that jurisdiction resulting in the closing of the election for one diocese while other parishes broke away leaving the issue unresolved. The topic was reported on VirtueOnline and the situation has been discussed on this very blog in the past and therefore is not ‘new’ news so if I am rumor-mongering then what does that make you as a moderator of this blog, assuming you expect people to read it? Is it my fault that you do not read your own blog.

As a member of the Continuing Church in good standing I’ll ask the question again: Is it permissible for some of the Continuum to ignore the Bible in choosing Bishops and then point to others who are doing the same and chide them for not repenting of their blind spot? If the African Provinces are pressing the American self described conservatives or evangelical ex-Episcopalians on this issue, and their clerical and lay ranks are full of serial monogamists, should not the Continuum be cleaning it’s own house before criticizing others for essentially the same offenses? Especially when stating: "this new North American Province is full of people who need our prayers, and wherever possible such patient dialogue as our theologians and bishops may have opportunity to engage them in. And, that need is because of the infection of modern heresies that they have never renounced, because have never fully renounced them." Infection? Indeed!

It has been commented widely that the issues of WO and HO will divide the new Intra Province and divorce is becoming another hot issue for them as well. It has been demonstrated conclusively that the issue of divorced bishops has perpetuated our state of separation in the Continuing Church and apparently will continue to divide us since we cannot discuss it.

Orthodoxy does indeed seem to have “slippery definition”. I do believe there is a double standard exposed in the two posts.



Ps I would still like to know why 3 additional bishops are required for a jurisdiction of a few hundred that says it is in the process of reunification?

Anonymous said...

"As for your charges of 'serial polygamy', it is distinctly unfair to assert that two of these men are thus blemished without identifying them or giving any particulars. Vague and unspecified charges are nothing more than rumormongering."

I would like to add that being unspecific regarding the identity of Bishops is your policy not mine:

The year that was and Anglican education...

"The opposite point of view was expressed by a significant bishop in one jurisdiction who made the very unfortunate remark that Anglicanism is a 450 year-old experiment, and that the case may be made that the experiment has failed".

I see no problem in abiding by your standard.



Fr. Robert Hart said...

I would venture to say that these three additional bishops are needed due to geography. For Archbishop Reber to hop around the whole country for every episcopal sacrament and for regular visitations must be quite inconvenient.

As for the serial monogamy bit, it is quite unfair to drop the charge in such a way as to leave all of these men under suspicion. I know, however, enough facts to be quite concerned. I believe that no man who has divorced his wife and remarried qualifies for ordination or to remain active in sacred ministry. I have said so openly many times, and have been taken to task for it. Nonetheless, I still say it.

The only case (for remarriage) that may be made is for men whose wives abandoned them. That situation makes a certain kind of sense, especially if it was early in life; and I find it very difficult to see such men as having been married in the eyes of God, or guilty for the adulterous state that has been created. Even so, the standard of scripture is that a man represents the sacrament of matrimony and bears the responsibilities of family life well. Surely, we have enough men who can provide the right example, an example sorely needed.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart,

All in the CC are familiar with the problem of geography and having a bishop near enough to visit when necessary.

However we are talking about a jurisdiction that has entered into a concordat with two other jurisdictions with overlapping dioceses and that means there are a lot of bishops to go around assuming that all of the talk of reunification is real certainly it is no problem to pick up a phone and ask for a bishop from a sister jurisdiction.

Now some are getting on in age and possibly that is the reason for these three. But with three jurisdictions as well as others who would likely be glad to cooperate I do not see how extra bishops is really a necessity or even a wise thing given the convoluted state of the CC.

It ought to be a rule that if a jurisdiction must have at least one (perhaps two) Bishop willing to retire before being able to elect another.



Canon Tallis said...

I know nothing about any of the men involved in this affair with the exception of Peter Robinson of whom I have a high opinion. However It may be to the point to remember the life of St Augustine of Hippo. There may be some would prefer that he were not advanced to the episcopate, but the work he did for the Church is something which few would discount.

Fr. Robert Hart said...


The bishop who made the unfortunate remark was identified by David Virtue, so everybody knows that it was +George Langberg. I find his remark symptomatic of the whole Anglo-Papalist error; but since I think him to be a decent man, just wrong about Anglicanism, I hesitated to identify him again. Also, it is not clear if this is his opinion, or an opinion he reported. Therefore, it was the idea that I reject, not knowing for sure if he agrees with it.

I agree that it appears rather questionable for a jurisdiction to need bishops in light of the unity they are proclaiming. But, right now that unity, jurisdictionally speaking, appears to be a goal. These consecrations are evidence of unity that is not yet fully realized. Because other jurisdictions took part it speaks of unity. Because it met an existing need, it speaks of how much more progress is needed.

poetreader said...

Fr. Wells,
Let me quote myself:
"... it is quite possible, and even common, to be perfectly correct as to matters of fact and doctrine, and yet totally and sinfully wrong with regard to attitude."
I do not see how you read into that a statement that a good attitude justifies error. It does not. However, it is true that doctrinal soundness can be a tool of considerable abuse and evil when it is not accompanied by a truly Christian attitude. As I said, I accuse myself of precisely that, and I declare full knowledge that thjose occasions were indeed sinful.

I was quite explicit on stating that I did not question your own motives, but that I have heard very similar things said by those whose motives I know, from their own statements, to have been very mean-spirited indeed. I felt that what you said could very easily feed into much of the spoteful and divisive spirit that certainly does infect our Continuing Anglicanism. Yes, you do raise questions that need to be considered, but this question of fissiveness is one that needs also to be addressed. If we are not actively, openly, and obviously striving to solve the problems we find, we err grievously. Yes, solvong them is hard work.

I think Fr. Hart's last comment does a better job of answering much of this than I could. The right people to ask why three bishops would be UECNA itself, rather than simply raising a complaint about a news article. As I said, I have some doubts about the wisdom of the action, and I have raised these questions with members of that jurisdiction. Ultimately, it is out of my hands, beyond the reach of my judgement, and within a body I recognize as orthodox in faith.

If your question about divorce did not involve the men consecrated, then it was entirely out of place in this post. The consecrating bishops are bishops indeed, and their worthiness or lack of it has nothing to do with the consecrations themselves, but constitute a separate discussion altogether.

I'm beginning to write one or more articles about divorce and about contraception and other realted issues. I do agree that these are issues we need to be much firmer about. We are still heor to a bit too much 20th century permissiveness in such matters. That, however, also is another matter than the one under discussion.


William Tighe said...

Dear Friends,

How scandalous, slanderous or "detractive" (if that is a word) is it to raise and discuss matters that are, if not well-known, at least in principle easily ascertainable? This seems to be the case concerning bishops in the Anglican Continuum who are DAR (= divorced and remarried).

I have not looked specifically into this matter for well over a year, but as of that point the ACC had one such DAR bishop, the ACA three or four (not including in this reckoning their Australian primate) and the APCK two or three. I know their names, but it seems pointless, and perhaps it would appear mischief-making, to name them. I have not heard that there are any such in the UEC, and I am unaware of the marital status of bishops in the numerous smaller jurisdictions, or in the REC, for that matter.

As to the APA, it was the late Dr. Tarsitano who, some time in the year before his death in January 2005, informed me, providing details, that at one point every single one of its bishop was DAR, in one or two cases doubly so; but I have gathered that, with the accession to the APA in ca. 2002 of the bishops who constituted previously the Anglican-Rite Synod in the Americas (with the notable exception of +Joel Johnson), this was no longer the case.

It is not for the purpose of finger-pointing that I raise this matter (for although I am not an Anglican I think that I am well enough known to the Archons of this blog that bona fides and good will may be credited to me, until or unless I give you cause to doubt it), but rather because it is clearly a problem -- as witness the sad and useless (I will not presume to say "unnecessary" or "necessary") schism in the APCK that produced the Diocese of the Holy Cross. It was one of the unique and conspicuous features of the Church of England that, at least from 1604 onwards, it rejected DAR totally and was more chary of granting annulments even than Rome was before the 1960s.

William Tighe

Anonymous said...

I am a UECNA priest and was in attendance at the Convention in October when we elected the three men to serve as suffragans.

One reason for their selection is that of geography, as someone already mentioned. Bishop Reber has a difficult time travelling to visit our parishes spread around the country. And, contrary to popular belief, there aren't Continuing bishops available in every area of the country.

Another reason for their selection is that of the upcoming retirement of Bishop Reber. Within a couple of years, Bishop Reber will retire, as required by our canons. We anticipate that the experience of their episcopal ministry and leadership will be adequate preparation for one of them to eventually succeed Bishop Reber as presiding bishop of the UEC.

And one other reason for their election is so that they may provide episcopal ministry to Continuing Anglicans within the geographical areas in which they reside. Just as Bishop Reber has difficulty in travelling to all of our parishes, so other Continuing bishops have a difficult time reaching all of their parishes. These suffragans were elected with the consultation and advice of the ACC and APCK. We anticipate that the UEC suffragans will be able to support parishes of these other jurisdictions by providing episcopal ministry to their people. In a sense, this should not be seen so much as the UEC gaining new bishops but seen as the Continuing churches gaining new bishops. The consecration of these men fits in very well with the proposed plans for unity that are presently being worked on by the ACC, APCK, and UECNA.

I understand the concern about becoming top heavy, and I agree that we must be on guard against that in the Continuing churches. However, if suffragans are truly serving at the direction of the ordinary, as they should, they will not be governing the church but providing ministry through confirmations, ordinations, and the like.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

I propose that another thread take on the issue of DAR in a bull by the horns manner. I have done so before, and think it may be time to do so again. Anyone who has read this blog for a long time knows that I have confronted this matter head on, asking just what it is that we are continuing. Bill Tighe has rightly pointed out the standard I grew up with. I am leaving two comments in the box for the purpose of making them part of that thread after Sunday, by copy and paste.

I did not claim that the facts I know involve any of the men who were consecrated. None of them, as it turns out, have the DAR impediment in their backgrounds.

We will go ahead and discuss this after Sunday. John and Fr. Wells, please be patient and look for it Monday or Tuesday. You will have your say, and I believe Ed Pacht is not trying to evade the issue.

Anonymous said...

The good news emerging from this thread is that the new UECNA bishops all meet Biblical standards. While I have no opinion about whether so many as three should have been elected, I am personally acquainted with two of the the three. All seem to be sterling additions to the episcopal office. Gaudeamus!

Anonymous said...

Fr. Daniel,

It is my prayer your new Suffragans are righteous and Godly men and their ministry prosper and may they mark the passing of era of having to make do or cutting corners for expediency or raw need in the Continuing Church.


Canon Tallis said...

It is only my opinion, hopefully humble, but probably not that in the Continuum it is more than wise to have an extra bishop tucked somewhere. The poor Lutheran Church in Finland lost all of their elderly bishops in a single Winter and the Russian Orthodox Church prevented them being replaced by consecrations from one of the other Lutheran churches of Scandinavia. Even a single younger and healthier suffragan would have prevented that disaster.

We have all seen cases where needless divisions have been caused by the wish of certain bishops to "grow" their dioceses by acquiring missions and parishes from others instead of making new converts and establishing new churches. The action taken here, especially as it was done by consultation with other bishops with whom an eventual reconciliation and merger is contemplated, seems a wise and healthy move.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
poetreader said...

Confession of an error.

I did post a comment above (now seen as "post removed")from someone disguising himself as "Frustrated Anglican Priest" that, in retrospect, is no more than an unjustified personal slam upon a bishop. I posted it primarily in order to respond as angrily as I did. I've now decided to delewte it and my immediate response.

I spent 25 years as a Pentecostal minister, knowing at least for the last several years of that that I belonged in the Anglican tradition, but the prevalence of the kind of toxicity so commonly seen in this movement made it very difficult for me to take the step to return. I feel now as though I was complicit in enabling some of this very poison to flow. Much as I hate to play the censor, this incident has convinced me to be a bit more ready to delete comments than I have been in the past.

To "Frustrated Priest":
Though merely a layman, I find it necessary to address you sharply and strongly. You've masqueraded under an alias in order to smear a good man. That is not behavior befitting a Christian, let alone a priest or even a bishop. Please, read Ezekiel, chapter 34. Read it on your knees. Read it weeping. Such as this puts your own soul and those of the flock entrusted you in serious danger. Such abusive behavior has to stop.

ed pacht