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To: sionnsar
Fixed it:

Dear Members of Saint John's Church, Bristol,

I write as your bishop to clarify some matters about recent events in Saint John's and to express my hope for the future.

In light of the fact that I have assembled circumstantial evidence which I am using to portray the financial health of Saint John's in the worst possible light, I am now extending this argument to cover St. John's spiritual health as well, which as any six-year-old could see, was clearly at risk, evidenced by my discovery of the extended absence of your rector from his ministry while employed in another state (yes, I know, Connecticut is the second smallest state, and in Texas this would equate to being employed in the next county), unpaid parish financial obligations (all of the other churches in CT with unpaid parish financial obligations understand the meaning of "if you want to get along, you have to get along", if you get my drift), and the lack of co-operation with the diocese by lay parish leadership, I determined, as the Bishop responsible for Saint John's, to make a "pastoral" intervention in the parish.

I am shocked, shocked, that there have been a number of rumors, allegations and misinformation persistently circulated in the parish concerning the Diocese of Connecticut and the actions that I have taken. In addition, there is a need to tell you some of what has been happening and to take a look to the future.

On Wednesday, July 13, about 9:45 a.m. the Rev. Susan McCone and I came to the parish office to deliver copies of the Inhibition of Father Mark Hansen and a copy of the letter in which I appoint the Rev. Susan McCone Priest in Charge of the parish. Several other persons from my office did accompany us. It is not true that we forced our way in. The locks were a piece of cake to jimmy and no damage was done to the buildings.

No one who came that day or since seeking access to Saint John's on parish matters has been denied access to the building. The secular groups which use the Church for their meetings (AA, Weight Watchers, TOPS) have all continued to meet as regularly scheduled, and in the spirit of Christian personhood we look forward soon to opening the doors of St John's of the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) under the sponsorship of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN) as well as other organizations that will allow us to grow our ministry in the community of Bristol including the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) as well as other organizations working for justice in our community. We had no keys to the building and the locks were changed late in the afternoon to ensure the security of the property. Keys to the new locks have been issued to parishioners who have shown leadership in celebrating diversity of all God's children and assumed responsibilities for certain work already begun as part of the effort to correct Saint John's life, mission and ministry.

Parishioners who we planted some time ago as sleepers in the parish have come to the Rev. Susan McCone with reports about what has been happening in the parish, and also with concerns about what they have been told "the diocese" would do and not do. There was a lot of pure misinformation. Susan has tried to respond to such concerns on a one-to-one basis, and I encourage any member with questions about what you have been told or rumors that you have heard to ask the questions and talk with her. You can rest assured that there is no risk to coming forward and that Mother McCone can be absolutely trusted to keep any confidences you share with her (for as long as you remain a player.)

There are several persistent allegations that I would like to address. One is that the Diocese would halt the regular celebration of the Eucharist on Sundays. Another is that we have mixed paper with plastics in the recycling. A third is that we are not complying with Daylight savings time. These are all patently false, FALSE. The Eucharist is the principal act of worship on Sunday mornings in the Episcopal Church. And no member of the parish has been denied access to the sacrament of Holy Communion. Recycling is a principle outward sign of our love for God our Mother, whom some call Gaeia. Not following daylight savings time would simply mess up everyone's social calendar. How ridiculous is that?

Another rumor is that same-sex marriages would begin to happen at Saint John's altar. Again, false. In this Church Christian marriage is defined as the union between a man and a woman. Further, priests of this diocese do not have permission to have permission to officiate at civil unions when they become legal in Connecticut in October. Accordingly, we'll simply be calling them Commitment Ceremonies for the time being.

There is a report that I dismissed the Rev. Clayton Knapp as Sunday supply priest. In fact I had a private meeting with him right away with know witnesses where I asked Father Knapp to continue to serve on Sundays, but he has declined, as he will corroborate if he ever wishes to work in this diocese again.

On July 13 I told the Senior Warden of Saint John's that it is my hope that we could work together, Bishop, Priest in Charge, Wardens and Vestry, for Saint John's future. However, on July 18 most of the Vestry of Saint John's chose not to meet with Mother McCone. Several parishioners and one Vestry member did come that night, and they began to talk about the future.

As this date Father Hansen is Inhibited in Connecticut (relieved of priestly privileges for up to six months), and there has been no meeting or agreement between me and Father Hansen concerning his future status with the Church or Saint John's.

Now that we have control, we have begun to pump up the parish finances, at least for now, using our diocesan endowment received back in the days before we fully undersood the oneness of all God's people of all orientations and religions. We asked several times for the Treasurer to work with Mr. Ed Seibert, who is assisting Mother McCone, so together they could bring the parish into financial order. Since that cooperation has not happened, we have set up an account with the diocesan funds for Saint John's in order to pay staff and outstanding bills -- more than $20,000. Payments for Father Hansen's pension were in arrears by $8500, and we have brought that up to date. We also paid Connecticut Light and Power, thereby averting the threatened shutoff of electricity to the parish buildings. You may rest assured that everything will look good financially for as long as it takes to fully consolidate control

The work of rebuilding St. John's parish has already begun and the signs of renewed life (including new unisex signs on the restrooms) are promising. On July 16 we combed the singles bars and Unitarian directories, and as a result on July 17, of worshippers in church, at least 38 were identified as regular St. John's parishioners, some returning after a prolonged absence. On July 24, the number of St. John's parishioners had risen to 47 with still others calling to say they would be back in the days ahead. A group of parishioners, eager to revive the family traditions for which St. John's was once known, have already organized a pot luck supper, as you have heard, for July 30. (For planning purposes, we are already well set in the Merlot department, but are still low on Cabs and Chardonnays. Fruity Chenin Blancs are also nice with the warmer weather.)

The devotion of the people to St. John's is inspiring and encouraging and the Diocese is committed to helping the parish rebuild - financially as well as spiritually - and to bring it in line with the larger Episcopal family (by last count there are still at least several thousand of us, of which at least a significant minority are currently in committed relationships with reproductive potential!) If you have questions or thoughts of ways in which I, Mother McCone or my staff can be helpful, please call the Church. I certainly am keeping all of Saint John's in my prayers, asking Christ's peace and blessing.

Yours in Christ BR> +Andrew D. Smith
Bishop of Connecticut

Cc: The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop and Primate

9 posted on 07/29/2005 9:11:37 PM PDT by Huber (Conservatism - It's not just for breakfast anymore!)
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To: Huber

LOL, very good!

11 posted on 07/30/2005 7:27:05 AM PDT by sionnsar (†† || Trad-Ang Ping: I read the dreck so you don't have to || Iran Azadi)
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