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Episcopal Church USA; Same-sex blessings; Increased church conflict
VirtueOnline-News ^ | 8/11/2005 | The Rev'd Keith Acker

Posted on 08/11/2005 12:42:10 PM PDT by sionnsar

After the Rt. Rev'd. Edwin M. Leidel, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan, had his deposition decree rejected last week by 13 fellow bishops, the Bishop is now trying to justify his high handed actions in removing the Rev'd. Eugene Geromel from functioning as a priest of the Episcopal Church USA.

The objection to the factual content of "formal determination" began during the proceedings when Father Geromel spoke up to deny charges, but Bishop Leidel demanded that "there be no more interruptions."

Bishop Leidel based the deposition on a church rule called "abandonment of the communion of this church" (Canon IV.10). The purpose of this rule is to terminate the official capacity of a priest or deacon who has left the Episcopal Church for another denomination.

However, in this case Father Geromel has consistently proclaimed his allegiance to the Episcopal Church USA. While the statement read at the conclusion of the proceedings stated that "Geromel was given every opportunity to demonstrate that he had not in fact 'abandoned' the Episcopal Church," up to the hour of his expulsion Father Geromel was denying his "abandonment."

These proceedings seem reminiscent of a "drive to Mulholland Falls," a 1996 movie where over zealous L.A. cops throw gangsters off a cliff on Mulholland Drive. Since the 1990's, Father Geromel and his congregation, Saint Bartholomew's Church, Swartz Creek, have been very vocal in their protest against Bishop Leidel's endorsement of same-sex marriages within his diocese even though same-sex marriages are not permitted by the Canons of the Episcopal Church USA.

The parish of Saint Bartholomew's has argued that Bishop Leidel has abandoned the clear meaning of Holy Scripture in this matter of moral behavior.

To complicate matters, the Bishop and Diocese agreed to sell the property to the people of Saint Bartholomew's in June 2000, thus allowing the congregation to remain as an independent parish in the Episcopal Church.

When Father Geromel arranged for an Episcopal Bishop to visit, preach, celebrate Holy Communion, and perform the sacrament of Confirmation (conferring full responsibility to individuals as a member of the Episcopal Church), Bishop Leidel gave his consent for these Episcopal visitations when requested by Father Geromel.

And contrary to the claims of Bishop Leidel, Father Geromel consistently reported his sacramental activities to Bishop Leidel under the provisions of the rules of the Episcopal Church. What appears now to be the case is that Bishop Leidel has retaliated for Father Geromel's orthodox witness by charging his Standing Committee to take the "problem priest" for a drive.

This is only one of several cases where the rules of the church are being misused. The rule on "abandonment" affords no hearing according to Bishop William Wantland, an expert in Canon Law. "This Canon does not apply. It is a misuse of this statute on 'abandonment,'" said Bishop Wantland, who signed the rejection of the deposition.

The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada are currently under suspension by the worldwide Anglican Communion for their failure to adhere to the teaching of Holy Scripture on matters of ordaining non-celibate homosexuals and of endorsing homosexual marriage.

The leadership of the Anglican Communion has called the Episcopal Church USA to return to the teaching and practice of the Christian Church in its Windsor Report, Dromantine Communiquè, and Nottingham Meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Eastern Michigan has stated that the deposition was based on four reasons. First, Father "Geromel led his congregation out of the Diocese and the Episcopal Church." Bishop Leidel in his own statement accused Father Geromel of voting to leave the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan in February 2000.

In a secret ballot, the congregation overwhelmingly chose to withdraw from the diocese. However, Father Geromel did not personally withdraw, instead he remained a faithful pastor of his flock, a charge given to Father Geromel by his installation as Vicar of the Saint Bartholomew's by the bishop of the diocese.

Father Geromel has also continued a vital member of various organizations in the Episcopal Church. Just this summer, Father Geromel was again the director of the Mid-West Saint Michael's Conference which Father Geromel helped to found 14 years ago. This annual gathering draws Episcopalian youth from across the country.

Furthermore, Saint Bartholomew's Church has maintained its association with the Episcopal Church by having other Episcopal Church bishops and clergy visit the parish.

In his actions, Father Geromel has stated that this is not a rejection of the Episcopal Church, but a clear rejection of a bishop who has abandoned the teaching of the one, holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. "We have one of the sheep calling the shepherd back to the sheepfold," said the Rev'd. William Ilgenfritz, vice-president of Forward In Faith North America.

Forward In Faith is a worldwide organization upholding the faith and order of undivided Christianity in the Anglican Communion of Churches. Second, the Standing Committee stated that Father Geromel has "acknowledged that he is out of communion with his bishop" by "not receiving communion from the hands of the bishop."

Father Geromel's response is that the bishop's abandonment of the Church's teaching and practice has resulted in their relationship being impaired, not broken. "In keeping with Holy Scripture, one needs to be of one heart and mind in Jesus Christ, to share the Body and Blood of Christ at the Altar," said Father Geromel. "We are not yet of one mind, and now reconciliation to the Gospel is further impaired."

Bishop Leidel seems to believe that only his celebration and distribution of Holy Communion give the members of his diocese a relationship to the whole of the Episcopal Church.

The greater error made here by Bishop Leidel and his Standing Committee is to identify the "abandonment of the communion of this church" with the Sacrament of the Holy Communion.

The Episcopal Church USA is part of the Anglican Communion of churches, not the "Anglican Holy Communion of churches." Communion with God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, while facilitated by this Sacrament, is much larger that this Sacrament. As important as Holy Communion is to the Episcopal Church, we don't equate it with the "communion of this church."

Third, the Standing Committee asserts that Father Geromel "has shown no sign of wanting to return to the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Eastern Michigan as a priest in good standing." Until, inhibited by Bishop Liedel, Father Geromel was "in good standing." He faithfully reported his activities to the Bishop. Bishop Leidel has continued to grant permission for other bishops of the Episcopal Church to provide the sacraments of this church.

"What Father Geromel was unwilling to do was abandon his insistence on the revealed truth of Holy Scripture and to embrace the gospel according to Leidel," said Father Christopher Cantrell, an Episcopal priest who has worked together with Father Geromel on the ministry and mission of the Episcopal Church.

Fourth, the Standing Committee maintains that Father Geromel "has not participated in the Councils of the Church in the Diocese of Michigan for over five years." For the past five years, Father Geromel has been canonically resident in the Diocese of Eastern Michigan, not the Diocese of Michigan, and was dropped from the mailing list of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan in 2000, thereby receiving no notice, invitation, or request for his presence.

Furthermore, Father Geromel has met with priests of the Diocese during the past five years. He has shared in prayer and worship with various members of the Diocese. One may reasonably conclude that Bishop Leidel has chosen to avoid Father Geromel's call to "Repent and turn to the Lord," or at the very least that Bishop Leidel has a need for all of his clergy to be in absolute agreement with him.

The former rector of Grace Episcopal Church, the Rev'd. Steve Dewey, told reporters that Bishop Leidel's statement is "filled with innuendo and lies. He picks canons to suit himself. He has been, to my mind, no bishop." Recently, Father Dewey has left the Diocese of Eastern Michigan to seek communion with a bishop who more closely emulates the standards of the historic Church.

The Episcopal Church has always prided itself in its wide-ranging expression of the faith while holding to the doctrine that "all things necessary to salvation are contained in the Old and New Testaments." Father Geromel has faithfully expressed the teaching and practice of the overwhelming majority of those within the worldwide Anglican Communion of churches. This tolerance has disappeared from Eastern Michigan.

Bishop Leidel and his Standing Committee appear to have concluded that a drive up to Mulholland Drive to explain how things will be in the Diocese of Eastern Michigan is more expedient. Father Geromel may have been sent careening off Mulholland Falls, but he remains a faithful priest, continuing to proclaim the Truth who is Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever!

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 08/11/2005 12:42:11 PM PDT by sionnsar
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: sionnsar
As a former Episcopalian I am not surprised. The church has become so over run with liberal theologians who deny the supremacy of scripture they think they can mold GOD to their will. Its like fish telling an aircraft carrier it can't pass through their water, these pompous priests are fools. The LORD has given us the rules to live by (the Scriptures) you can live by them or ignore them, but you can't change the rules. Marriage is for a man and a woman.
3 posted on 08/11/2005 2:36:40 PM PDT by wmfights (lead,follow,or get out of the way)
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