The fundamental organization for mission and life within the Episcopal Church is a geographical area called a diocese, whose head is its bishop. That principle was established at the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.
The historic ministry of the bishop is to be shepherd of a diocese. The shepherds staff that the bishop carries in worship symbolizes the bishops care, in the name of Jesus, for everyone in the diocese. The relationship to the whole diocese is fundamental for the Episcopal Church, no matter what the time or situation or issue.
For the past 11 months, six rectors of the Diocese of Connecticut, together with the leadership of the parishes they serve, have refused to accept their relationship with their bishop.
In the past year I have offered to arrange for another bishop to be their pastor and parish visitor. To date they have refused that offer.
Rather, the priests have demanded that the historic traditions we live by as a Church be changed for them and the congregations they serve. Their requirements would break the ties they have to the Diocese of Connecticut. What they expect I cannot grant, because of the responsibilities I have for all of the people and parishes of the diocese.
My hope has been that, gathered by Christ the Good Shepherd, we could meet in prayer and discernment to resolve the impasse before us. That even though we disagreed, we could go forward in the unity and Christian love that Jesus prayed for, for the sake of the Church and our work for God in the world.
I reminded the rectors of the six parishes of their ordination vows in this church, that they would serve together with [their] bishop. Communion with the bishop is a precursor to consider other matters that are before us. By leaving the meeting tonight without acknowledging my authority as their bishop they have placed themselves under threat of inhibition by refusing to live within their vows. I regret that we were unable to reach accord this evening. I shall continue to pray for them.
I thought Snith doesn't believe in a "pre-emptive strike"
I'd like to recommend a fantastic book for Bishop Smith to read. It's called "Joshua" and it's by Father Joseph F. Girzone. I am sure many are familiar with it. As a young boy going to Bishop Seabury Church, one of the six parishes of concern under the very wise direction of Fr. Gauss, I remember this book sweeping through the church similar to the way The Purpose Driven Life is doing now. Everyone read it and loved it. I just recently found it and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Bishop Smith may find a correlation between he and the aristocrasy of the Church in this book. Then again... He might not.