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Seven Parishes Seek Protection from Panel of Reference
VirtueOnline-News ^ | 8/16/2005 | Multiple

Posted on 08/17/2005 8:14:48 AM PDT by sionnsar

August 16, 2005

The Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard, D.D.
Bishop of Florida
325 Market Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32202

Dear Bishop Howard,

Grace and peace to you in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thank you for your timely, thoughtful and thorough response to our initial request in June for adequate alternative episcopal oversight. We also appreciate your request for the prayers of the people of our diocese for all of us as we move forward. With you, we feel heartache for the crisis we face, not only in the diocese but in the larger Anglican Communion.

While disappointed that you did not grant our request, we are grateful for your recognition that we are seeking to act together as two missions and four parishes. We understand that you believe we in "the six congregations have ignored an important avenue for reconciliation," (your letter, p. 17) and we are together in being open to considering other forms of oversight with you.

Because we fear that your letter may imply some risk of action against the mission congregations and their vicars, we have felt it necessary to apply to the Panel of Reference for protection. We would prefer to work out a solution locally, and will rescind our application if that can be accomplished.

We plan to respond in greater detail to your letter in the future. For immediate purposes of clarification, let us share the following. We have all given to the diocese of Florida financially and in terms of significant service in mutual ministry since 2003. We are simply giving directly to shared diocesan ministries instead of pledging to the diocesan budget. We are concerned that your statement that three of the parishes "have failed to give any monetary support to the mission and ministry of the diocese since 2003" could be misconstrued. For example, two parishes alone have given well over $120,000 to diocesan ministry since 2003, once you allowed us to do so.

As we made clear in our June letter, our goal is temporary oversight until hopefully the larger Anglican Communion reconciles with a truly repentant ECUSA. We have included our June letter below for reference. To use your language, we are indeed seeking a "time out" or a separation, not a "divorce" (p.16). We likewise do not intend to be a diocese within the diocese (p.5).

We look forward to meeting with you soon to find ways we can move forward which are respectful of your ministry and our diocese for the sake of Christ.

Sincerely in Christ,

Church of the Redeemer
The Rev. Neil G. Lebhar, rector, and Mr. William Shroeder, IV, senior warden

Grace Church
The Rev. Dr. Samuel C. Pascoe, rector, and Mr. Thomas McKeithen, senior warden

All Souls Church
The Rev. James K. McCaslin, rector, and The Hon. L. Haldane Taylor, senior warden

St. Michael's Church
The Rev. Charles Alexander Farmer, rector, and Ms. Emily Wilson, senior warden

Calvary Church
The Rev. David J. Sandifer, vicar, and Ms. Elizabeth Collins, mission board chairman

St. Luke's Community of Life
The Rev. James R. Needham, vicar, and Ms. Mary Leffler, mission board chairman

June 12, 2005

The Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Florida
325 Market Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202

Dear Bishop Howard,

Grace and peace to you in Christ Jesus.

We as clergy and leaders of several congregations have made a difficult decision in this difficult time. We hereby request that you provide adequate alternative episcopal oversight for us so that we can continue with clear consciences in our ministries. Our diocesan convention strongly endorsed the recommendations of the Windsor Report, among which was one for alternative oversight (Sections 150 & 151). The Primates' Communiqué likewise recognizes the principle of alternative oversight (Paragraph 15). We base our request on these two documents.

We have two concerns that provide the basis of our request. First, as we have shared with you in the past, we concur with the many Primates who believe that Scripture prohibits believers being at table with V. Gene Robinson and Bishop Griswold. This is based on our obedience to St. Paul's admonition in 1 Corinthians 5 and, as such, is consistent with the ordination vows. We believe that your public commitment to remain at the Holy Table with them ties us as priests and congregations to the "yeast" of immorality and false teaching in an unacceptable way. We are convinced that this is a salvation issue, for we believe the consecration and ministry of V. Gene Robinson repudiates traditional teachings about repentance, grace, sanctification, holiness and discipline regarding the sacraments.

We also represent congregations whose leadership bodies have decided that they cannot financially pledge to this diocese at this time because the diocesan budget, with your encouragement, includes support of the programs of our national church, especially those connected to the office of the Presiding Bishop. We believe that it is poor stewardship to give resources to national ministries that have been exercised in ways that directly damage our bonds of affection with the Anglican Communion. Not only did Bishop Griswold consecrate V. Gene Robinson, but he has hired staff personally committed to an agenda opposed to the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 including at least one staff member who is a self-declared lesbian priest. Scripture commands us not to partner in such ministries. (Ephesians 5:7) For our diocese to provide for ECUSA programs that have drifted away from the Scriptures and sometimes the gospel itself (for example, a pagan liturgy was hosted on the Episcopal Church website), we perceive to be disobedient to St. Paul's command. Many of our Anglican Communion partners are now likewise demonstrating the state of impaired fellowship by refusing to receive funds from our national church.

The oversight we request, again in the words of the Windsor Report, "must be sufficient to provide a credible degree of security on the part of the alienated community" (Section 151). We assume this security would include assurances that non-pledging parishes would not face a change in their parish status, nor vicars in their employment. None of the applicable canons appear to be mandatory in their application.

Based on the above, we ask that you grant to another bishop oversight over us which in addition to confirmation includes clergy discipline, employment and succession. Needless to say, we ask for a bishop who is not at table with Mr. Robinson and Bishop Griswold, and whose diocesan budget does not include giving to the national programs. We ask that this episcopal oversight be in place until after this diocese has a chance to make decisions for its future in the Anglican Communion following Lambeth 2008. If the Episcopal Church leadership truly repents as you and we hope, we can then move forward again together.

We wish to both remain in the Anglican Communion and continue our ministries in good conscience. We believe that adequate alternative episcopal oversight makes both possible. We commit ourselves to attempt reconciliation with you and other diocesan leaders once the period of the oversight has satisfactorily begun, as recommended by the Windsor Report.

We ask that you respond within a month of receiving this request so that we can move forward together in creating this oversight.

We sincerely regret that we have to make this request, and hope for a long-term resolution that does not damage our ministries or yours. You remain in our prayers in this difficult season.

Sincerely in Christ,

The Rev. James McCaslin
Rector, All Souls Church

The Rev. Samuel Pascoe
Rector, Grace Church

The Rev. C. Alexander Farmer
Rector, St. Michael's Church

The Rev. David Sandifer
Vicar, Calvary Church

The Rev. James Needham
Vicar, Community of Life

The Rev. Robert Sanders
Jacksonville Anglican Fellowship

The Rev. Neil Lebhar
Rector, Church of the Redeemer

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 08/17/2005 8:14:48 AM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; anselmcantuar; Agrarian; coffeecup; Paridel; keilimon; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-9 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar and newheart.

Resource for Traditional Anglicans:

Humor: The Anglican Blue (by Huber)

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 08/17/2005 8:15:58 AM PDT by sionnsar (†† || (To Libs:) You are failing to celebrate MY diversity || Iran Azadi)
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To: sionnsar

Bp Howard has been forcing various diocesan ministries to reject direct money from the 6 churches. All of their funding must come from him.

3 posted on 08/17/2005 9:12:22 AM PDT by bobjam
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To: sionnsar; All

anyone know if there's a quick source for the number of parishes, missions and members in each diocese of ECUSA?

4 posted on 08/17/2005 9:14:35 AM PDT by ken5050 (Ann Coulter needs to have children ASAP to pass on her gene pool....any volunteers?)
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To: sionnsar; ahadams2

Thank you for your faithfulness in posting these threads on FR.

I knew The Rev. Neil Lebhar when he was an Assistant Rector at Truro Church, Fairfax. And Sam Pascoe's Dad went to Truro and thus I watched the Pascoe boys grow up. Man, that statement makes me feel ancient!

I also suspect that the retired Priest, canonically resident in the Diocese of FL who signed one of these letters is the Rev. George Hall, another former Assitant Rector of Truro Church. He was participating in ministry at Lebhar's Church. Perhaps he is finally retired and enjoying life from the beach. At least, I hope so.

Isn't it interesting that just South of this Diocese, in the Diocese of Central Florida there aren't Churches, parishes, Missions, asking for oversight? But there has been some contention even between Bp. John W. Howe and various parishes. If they've wanted to leave, he's let them. I also understand that if they disagreed with his orthodox position and wanted oversight from a different Bishop, he has allowed that as well. We need more Bishops like Bp Howe in ECUSA. Well, to be truthful, if we had more Bishops like Bp. Howe, we wouldn't be in the pickle we are in!!

Meanwhile to the West of the Diocese of FL, over here in the Diocese of the Gulf Coast, or whatever it's called, incorporating southern Alabama and NW FL, we have a Bishop who is so orthodox and conservative, he likes to come down hard on a parish that wants any of the modern Christian music as part of their worship services!! He voted "no" on the subject of Robinson, yet has driven parishes to resort to seeking respite in AMiA or the Anglican Communion.

As if there weren't enough contention, do we really need to go overboard against Christian music that isn't to a Bishop's liking? Incredible, isn't it?

5 posted on 08/17/2005 9:35:23 AM PDT by TruthNtegrity (Will someone please get Mrs. Sheehan some grief counseling?)
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