Skip to comments.Via Meeting Steering Committee Meeting Minutes from 9/29/05
Posted on 10/20/2005 3:12:59 PM PDT by sionnsar
Source: Connecticut Six
Dixie Hutchinson, Lynn Minor, Steve Westen, Rick Matters, Greg Fry, Joan Gundersen, Meg Ingalls, Andrew Grimmke
People began by introducing themselves. Megs parish just gave van bought with UTO money to Diocese of Mississippi.
After a prayer by Rick Matters, we began reports from the field.
VMFW Bishop Iker has been fairly quiet, but has gotten very vocal about womens ordination. He has sent a formal request to Panel of Reference to shelter them from womens ordination. He is claiming that the church is forcing him to accept womens ordination. FWVM always responds with a letter. Sent one to the Panel of Reference. Now have a newsletter with a circulation of 950. Sent to all clergy, including the bishop. Got directories from every parish with membership in their group. The group is having to pay for mailing. They are now 501 c3. Fort Worth budget short $70,000 (i.e. one parish which is even MORE conservative).
Discussion of Hurricane relief and the way the Dallas, Fort Worth and Pittsburgh dioceses have ignored the ERD.
Remain Episcopal At clergy convocation Bishop Schofield announced that the Episcopal Churchs refusal to repent at GC will trigger the diocese announcing that the Episcopal Church has left the A.C. This was part of an announcement about Where he stands. There is supposed to be a DVD of this talk. He expects the network to be recognized immediately after convention. After convention, all bets are off for those priests who dont follow his lead. They need to watch out. In the past he had offered to let liberal parishes leave, but not now.
Dallas The group believes there will be a power battle between Stanton and Duncan for control of new church. Special convention voted to approve Windsor Report (3 no votes). DVM had a great turnout when Michael Battle spoke. Raised $2,000 and travel for him from a call for donations and plus had a surplus. Have e mail list of 200. Stanton says there is no Via Media, and Jekko is now assistant bishop. Have stripped all outreach funds from budget to place in evangelism. DVM is getting ready to challenge this. New interim Dean of Cathedral is Networks church planting guru, Kevin Martin. Expects to be named real dean.
SW FL Diocese in disarray, bishop coadjutor search on hold. Bishop swings depending who he talked to last. Bishop Lipscomb and Bishop Chane trying to work out DEPO swap. Bishop has said he will let each parish make its own decision as to where to go. They are working quietly, meeting with bishop. Hard to have a formal structure, did have an event for diocese looking at the positive things the church is doing. The chair of the standing committee is a member of S.W. FL.
Episcopal Voices have web site that is beginning to really do good work, a yahoo group, meetings 2 3 times a year with speakers. Quiet group, doesnt know where to go from here. Lay led. Meg got together a group of clergy, most of whom are VM trying quietly to get as many people as possible on diocesan committees. They are looking for a way at diocesan convention to create up/down roll call vote to make clear who is is going to leave and who wants to remain part of TEC. They had been looking for an outreach project that would build bridges with people from other parishes, Katrina and Rita have given them that. Major committees of diocese are all owned by network.
PEP has newsletter, chat list, monthly meetings, convention presence, has been effective opposition at conventions, has done consulting with parishes in other parts of the country, has broken national stories about schism, does briefings for convention.
CESLD two founding members died. Herzog is retiring, wants co adjutor. By getting a coadjutor and not retiring until after Lambeth, they can increase the number of conservative bishops at Lambeth.
During the reports, the steering committee members identified the following questions for a discussion of strategy:
How to prepare for split after 2006 GC
How to address ignoring of ERD in relief announcements. Is this a PR opportunity?
Appeal to ABC to suggest that only diocesans be able to vote at the next Lambeth conference, or to ask for other actions.
How to get other dioceses and groups involved
Are there specific actions or outcomes for us to work on for GC?
Strategy discussion what can we do, then how, then how to reach the larger community.
1. What will be our response the Day After when the bishops start announcing they are in a new Anglican Communion and the Network is recognized as the only legitimate expressions of the A.C. in North America?
Have ready blank presentments for abandonment of the communion.
Have already drafted request stating that the see is vacant and requesting appointment of interim bishop. Need to coordinate with PB on these appointments.
Have request for special convention ready to give to interim bishop so that vacant spots in diocesan government can be filled (trustees, council, standing committee, commission on ministry, etc.)
Be ready to take legal action on property identify who will serve as litigants, what property needs to be covered.
Have plan for locations and personnel to provide worshipping communities and safe havens for the faithful remnants. Identify retired priests and deacons, lay leadership. 2.
2. Build a broader awareness and support for VMUSA and the coming crisis.
Tap into provincial presidents.
Build sister parish connections and lay leadership.
Find a group of bishops to work with, including PB candidates
Cultivate Executive Council, Officers of General Convention
Cultivate local press
Develop criteria for recognizing schism
Recruit 5 7 national leaders to be in a teleconference with us. Rick Matters to set up phone call and hold it. Chris and Joan will be the others involved. They will set followup steps and identify next phone conversation. Possible participants Jenkins, Parsley, Alexander, Titus Pressler, George Werner, Jon Bruno, John Chane, Catherine Roskam, Chilton Knudson, Edward Little, Don Johnson, Mark Dyer, Sauls, Bill Carroll. Deadline Nov. 15.
3. New Public Awareness campaign to be headed by Steve Westen
To engage seminary professors in discussion
To connect with others in church who are concerned
Westen to create his own committee and come back with a proposal by October 29.
4. Each allied group is asked to find someone (not necessarily a lawyer) to act as liason on legal issues to help coordinate and share information.
The committee then looked for volunteers for specific tasks. Meg Ingalls will do letter to request interim bishop after abandonment. and have request ready to ask to hold special convention to fill vacant spots. Oct. 15
Dixie will talk to a former chancellor about whether he would help us with presentment boiler plate and for lawsuits (Oct. 15)
Every group to get a legal liason for VMUSA. (10/29)
Communicate: Steve Westen talked more about his vision of the wider public relations effort: Name the threat or challenge
Sketch the cost and the promise
Outcome of immediate and long term consequences
Steps to take after having done the above: Broadcast widely, network of seminary educators to do responses to this issue, of fice of general convention, of fice of pastoral care, staff individually, staff of Episcopal Life, NY Times, Jim Lehrer, Washington Post, Bill Moyers, Larry King live, NPR (Barbara Bradley Haggerty).
Joan will talk with George Werner about what happened here and if there is something that we should be approaching Executive Council about. Should we ask an Exec Council to have a representative at our next steering meeting.
VMUSA authorized Rick Matters to meet with ABC in March, (Mar 15 27) Joan to write a letter for us to sign. Cameron as back up if ABC out of town.
Christopher to contact Province Presidents by mid November and establish a contact.
Nancy Key to write up the concept of sister parish.
Next in person meeting in Lodi, Travel to arrive on 1/26/06 through 1/28/06 at noon. alternative dates are first two weeks in Feb.
The Steering Committee adjourned to go to dinner and then open the general conference with a reception that night.
Joan R. Gundersen
Via Media has long worked to cloak its real goal - liberalizing the theology of the Episcopal Church to the point of apostasy and beyond - in the language of acceptance and tolerance of multiple viewpoints.
Now comes a memo from a recent Via Media meeting in which a contingency plan was formulated for a "doomsday scenario" following General Convention 2006 in which the Global South breaks communion and Canterbury follows. The plan includes preparing "blank presentments" for use in bringing charges against those Network bishops who might then claim that they are the legitimate representatives of the Anglican Communion in America - much as a district attorney might prepare blank indictments for a slew of people he was planning to prosecute.
The significance of this memo is partly that it represents the thinking of many of the leaders of the Episcopal Church; partly that their thinking assumes a global split in the communion is not just possible but perhaps likely following GC2006; and partly that a global split is exactly what the revisionist ECUSA leadership and fence-sitting bishops have been publicly dismissing as being out of the question, since, as we know, All is Well.
In this article on its web site, The Living Church describes the memo this way:
Members of the steering committee for Via Media, USA, have authenticated, but sought to diminish the significance of plans already underway for the "Day After" the 2006 General Convention. The plans, documented in a draft copy of minutes from a Sept. 29 meeting of the steering committee, include the attempted removal from office of bishops and lay leaders in dioceses affiliated with the Anglican Communion Network and their replacement with persons the organization believes will remain obedient to the Constitution and Canons of the General Convention.
"The steering committee meeting was not open to the public and the minutes were not intended for public release," said Joan R. Gunderson, who is listed at the end of the four-page document as temporary secretary. The steering committee, she said, met prior to the start of the Sept. 29-Oct. 2 annual meeting in Dallas, which was open to the public. Mrs. Gunderson, who is also vice president of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, an independent local organization affiliated with Via Media, USA, said the "strategy discussion" was part of a "what-if" contingency plan based on a "worst-case scenario" in which after the 75th General Convention next June in Columbus, Ohio, the Episcopal Church would remain in a smaller Anglican Communion with the majority of Anglican provinces in Africa breaking communion with the See of Canterbury and the network bishops seeking to follow.
It should be noted that these are not idle thoughts or suggestions voiced by meeting attendees; these are the minutes of the steering committee's meeting.
It is also important to remember that, as we've long predicted here, the most untenable position in this debate is not the one occupied by those on the right, or those on the left. It is the one occupied by bishops such as Duncan Gray of Mississippi, who continue to believe that this crisis is much ado about nothing, and that the middle can hold. If Via Media's "worst-case scenario" - or even a less-worse variation on the theme - does indeed come to pass, bishops like +Gray will find themselves faced with the choice of supporting presentment charges against several of their fellow bishops (either explicitly or, by doing nothing, implicitly), or opposing 815 by speaking out against its actions. In short, the battle lines have been drawn; all that remains to be seen is whether the battle is actually joined. And if it is, there will be no place for fence-sitting bishops to hide.
For lay people, the important issue is to understand that the revisionist wing of the Episcopal Church is anticipating a split, and that lay leaders who choose to follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ over the heresy of ECUSA are, as we speak, having bullseyes drawn on their backs by groups like Via Media, who state their intentions to "coordinate with the PB" (presiding bishop Griswold) their prosecutions of those who have "abandoned communion."
By "communion" they do not mean, in the doomsday scenario, the Anglican Communion. They mean the tiny "communion" of ECUSA, which, after a split such as the one they've outlined, will not be an uneasy coalition between recalcitrant revisionist and reluctant orthodox, but one in which the orthodox, by definition, are outlaws.
Why would Via Media so casually mention that their procesutions would need to be coordinated with the Presiding Bishop, if it weren't a given that the PB would go along with their plans? Anyone needing a clearer sign of just how far ECUSA revisionists plan to go in purging their church of theological conservatives is entertaining a fantasy that this church wishes to tolerate their views.
The question to the orthodox leaders within ECUSA now becomes more urgent than ever: What do you plan to do about this?
Brad Drell was first to publish this document. The full text follows.
UPDATE: Christopher Johnson's "Sharpsburg" reference is apt. It refers to the Civil War's Battle of Antietam. CJ can elaborate if he wishes, but the significance of Antietam is that it represented, along with Vicksburg and Gettysburg, one of the main turning points of the war, a battle that indicated the course the war was to follow. Perhaps more to the point (and perhaps the real reason behind CJ's choice of titles) is that the Union's success can be at least partly attributed to the fact that Robert E. Lee's battle plan fell into the hands of the hapless Gen. George McClellan. I'll stop there before specualting on who, in CJ's eyes, is playing the part of McClellan.
The ECUSA civil war begins to boil once again as the Episcopal left-wing gloves finally come off:
Members of the steering committee for Via Media, USA, have authenticated, but sought to diminish the significance of plans already underway for the Day After the 2006 General Convention. The plans, documented in a draft copy of minutes from a Sept. 29 meeting of the steering committee, include the attempted removal from office of bishops and lay leaders in dioceses affiliated with the Anglican Communion Network and their replacement with persons the organization believes will remain obedient to the Constitution and Canons of the General Convention.
The steering committee meeting was not open to the public and the minutes were not intended for public release, said Joan R. Gunderson, who is listed at the end of the four-page document as temporary secretary. The steering committee, she said, met prior to the start of the Sept. 29-Oct. 2 annual meeting in Dallas, which was open to the public. Mrs. Gunderson, who is also vice president of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, an independent local organization affiliated with Via Media, USA, said the strategy discussion was part of a what-if contingency plan based on a worst-case scenario in which after the 75th General Convention next June in Columbus, Ohio, the Episcopal Church would remain in a smaller Anglican Communion with the majority of Anglican provinces in Africa breaking communion with the See of Canterbury and the network bishops seeking to follow.
Remember that coup d'eglise the American Anglican Council/Network folks were allegedly planning that was intended to replace ECUSA as the Anglican Communion's American outlet? That was small potatoes; these folks propose to fire just about everybody who won't toe the ECUSA line.
What will be our response the Day After when the bishops start announcing they are in a new Anglican Communion and the Network is recognized as the only legitimate expression of the A.C. in North America? the steering committee asked itself. Blank presentments for abandonment of communion should be prepared in advance along with documentation to have the see declared vacant and an interim bishop appointed, the draft minutes reported. The interim bishop would then be given a previously prepared request for a special convention so that vacant spots in diocesan government can be filled (trustees, council, standing committee, commission on ministry, etc.).
Christopher Wilkins, facilitator for Via Media, USA, said he arrived late for the Sept. 29 steering committee meeting and had not yet seen a copy of the draft minutes, but that the contingency plans as reported are consistent with the organizations mission statement which says in part that the alliance of associations of laity and clergy is committed to promoting and protecting the faith, unity, and vitality of the Episcopal Church as the American expression of Anglican tradition.
When there are challenges to remaining in the Episcopal Church, people need to face that, Mr. Wilkins said.
Am I concerned or upset about any of this? Not particularly. For one thing, this is only one liberal group in ECUSA(and it's good that Via Media finally comes out and admits what most of us have known for a long time) and any ECUSA group can suggest anything it likes. Perhaps these people have massive support among ECUSA bishops, clergy and laity, perhaps not.
These minutes are obviously extremely tentative, with lots of "what ifs" and "what will be our responses" and "worst-case scenarios." And since I am a Missourian and thus the apotheosis of cynicism(they don't call us the Show-Me State because it looks good on license plates), I can't read, "The minutes were not intended for public release" without thinking that someone at Via Media said, "Whatever you do, make sure that no one sees this. Wink, wink."
Via Media's proposal assumes an awful lot. Their suggestion that ECUSA will be part of a smaller Anglican Communion connected to Canterbury means that Dr. Williams will just passively let the Africans walk away. But my gracious lord of Canterbury is not a stupid man. With Africa and the Third World, he is an important figure in worldwide Christianity. Without them, he is the figurehead leader of an insignificant Euro-American sect of high-church Unitarians who dress funny.
I also can't believe that ECUSA would be stupid enough to accept Via Media's ideas and push through presentments against the Network bishops. Would that they were. But ECUSA bishops know, or should, that such an action would begin the split many of us have been hoping for since August, 2003 and would plunge United States and probably Canadian Anglicanism into legal and ecclesiastical chaos for a generation.
And the fact of the matter is that this battle, pretty much along these lines, was inevitable long before anyone ever heard of Gene Robinson. So let it finally come at ECUSA's GenCon 2006 which promises to be a bloodbath.
UPDATE: Here are the complete minutes. Once again, there is nothing surprising here and this still smells like a feint. And it's good that Via Sinistra has finally dropped its "moderate" mask.
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