We disagree with those among you who think the Presiding Bishop and her agents have done no wrong. As our Appendix demonstrates, the evidence is overwhelming that they have violated canons and engaged in discussions deceitfully. We disagree with those who accept the evidence, but think the matter inconsequential. If our leaders will not follow the canons and formal procedures of the church, not only in letter but in spirit, they forfeit any trust they may hold and undermine the mutual trust of the church as a whole. We disagree with those who think that such disregard of letter and spirit is merited by the misbehavior of Bishop Lawrence. Canonical violation and deceit will never produce peace in the church or render a just outcome. Further, the diocese of South Carolina has, for a long time, struggled to maintain its unity as a conservative Christian body and to remain within The Episcopal Church. Bp. Lawrence was given a tightrope to walk from the moment of his election and did so successfully and honestly. He did not jump from this difficult position but was intentionally pushed by the Presiding Bishop and the Disciplinary Board in ways that were neither necessary nor responsible. We disagree with those who believe that, in any case, all this is of little importance for the future of The Episcopal Church. The departure from The Episcopal Church, under moral duress, by one of our strongest and few growing dioceses, taking with it a range of energies and vital witness, threatens to subvert the hopes and good will of thousands of faithful members of our church and discourage the willingness of younger leaders to come forward in our midst. Indeed, all this constitutes a crisis for The Episcopal Church of the gravest kind.
For those among you who, by contrast, have taken stock of the actions of the Presiding Bishop and her agents, we believe that you are obligated by solemn vow to respond forthrightly that they have violated canons and engaged in discussions deceitfully. We believe that you are called upon to pursue all canonical and spiritual means to bring these matters into the light before your college and the church at large. Your vows require you to rectify misdeeds that have been committed. You are called upon to rein in the misuse of authority and canons by those, like the Presiding Bishop and her legal staff, who have supervised the squandering of our human and material resources. We urge you as agents of reconciliation to do all in your power to rebuild the bridges of genuine Christian understanding and communion with both those who have left The Episcopal Church and those drifting in that direction. We urge you, in short, to be faithful to your calling and to be true and not false pastors of the people and the Gospel God has entrusted to your stewardship. The Lord does not ask that you succeed in your efforts, only that you stand as a sentinel before the people themselves.
Yours in Christ,
Those who have not heard of the oxymoronically-named ‘Anglican Communion Institute’ in the U.S., may not be aware of their dangerously subversive opposition to the U.S. Episcopal Church – from within its borders! This excerpt, from their recent diatribe against the Presiding Bishop and other bishops loyal to The Episcopal Church in the U.S., gives some idea of their subversive intentions against TEC.
Once described as ‘3 theologians with a website’, (aided and abetted by the U.S. web-site ‘virtueonline’) this dissident group within TEC has long been engaged in encouraging the more conservative dioceses in TEC to challenge and, eventually, break with their parent Church, on – principally – their views on the ordination of gays and lesbians in the Church.
For this group, which generally has allied itself with the schismatic churches that have arisen out of disputes with the Presiding Bishop and convocation of TEC, their agenda has been to consistently criticise the liberal tendencies that have made TEC, the Anglican Church of Canada – and others within the world-wide Anglican Communion who have modern biblical understandings of human gender and sexuality – fore-runners of a liberalising, Gospel-based campaign against homophobia and misogyny in their respective Church communities.
Some members of ACI have experience in the mission field in African countries – especially those with a conservative, sola-scriptura understanding. This has led them to side with those in the Communion who have formed the GAFCON provincial ethos that has produced the so-called ‘Jerusalem Statement’ – a faux alternative to the Lambeth Quadrilateral – which had hitherto been accepted as a basic ‘confessional’ and missional statement covering relationship between provincial Churches of the Anglican Communion.
The fact that GAFCON has now dissociated itself from the Instruments of Unity in the Communion, and that ACI is party to the gafcon separatist movement (which has virtually cut itself off from The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, affords an important clue as to the intentions of ACI.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand