Skip to comments.Connecticut Bishop Andrew Smith’s Convention Address
Posted on 10/22/2005 8:36:11 AM PDT by sionnsar
This coming winter and spring, to continue our discussion, I will sponsor area conversations around the diocese, focused on committed same-sex relationships, civil unions and marriage in the Church. I have asked a number of our members, representing widely different Christian understandings of the gospel, to form a committee to help design and chair those meetings. As we listen, think, study, reason, and pray together, subject to Scripture and the Spirit, I do believe that we come to know one another and will be better prepared personally to comprehend what we should do and who we should be as companions in Christ. We are at a choice point: what kind of church will we be?
In our diocese, and in our Church, we are challenged from another source too, in what I believe questions the very ethos and fabric of who we are as Anglicans. Here in Connecticut several clergy and parish vestries insist on one interpretation of Scripture and decry our acceptance of partnered gay and lesbian persons as full members, and especially in holy orders. They insist that they be allowed to live outside the Constitution and Canons which define and govern the life of this Church.
Again, I think of all that we are and all we seek to be in Christ. How do we respond as bishop and diocese to initiatives and campaigns from within some of our own parishes that could weigh us down and split us into party factions? How do we refuse to engage in a public media and internet war, and still represent the diocese adequately in the public eye? How do we support our shared diocesan vision when some parishes deliberately withhold their apportionments? Recently a next step has been unveiled. Last summer some members of the dissenting parishes filed with the Presiding Bishop ecclesiastical charges against me as bishop of the diocese. And now in addition some have filed a sweeping civil action in federal court, naming many defendants. To my knowledge both initiatives are unprecedented in our diocese.
Where these actions will take us in the future, we dont know. The reasons for abandoning communion and resorting to charges and seeking trials are known only to the movers. Should these charges go forward, we face the prospect of a lengthy, enormously expensive and public legal battle, which will tie us up with attorneys, depositions and court appearances that may require weeks at a time. There are better ways, far less harmful to the Church, and more consistent with the spirit of our Lords teaching, to reach resolution or reconciliation in our theological disagreements.
These actions in Connecticut, I believe, are being encouraged and supported by coalitions outside Connecticut. A word here about the American Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network. The spokesperson for the clergy and five parishes involved in the actions against the diocese is an official of the American Anglican Council. The American Anglican Council requires a doctrinal oath for membership, holds meetings closed to the public, has made public allegations against us and has never asked a question of fact from this diocese. The actions unfolding in Connecticut follow closely the plan to disrupt the life and tie up the resources and energy of the Episcopal Church the plan put forward within the American Anglican Council in December 2003 in what has become known as the Chapman memo. The Bishop of Pittsburgh, head of the Anglican Communion Network, announced a campaign against Connecticut in an interview published in April of this year. The Anglican Communion Network seeks contributions from its member parishes, has set up its own relief network apart from Episcopal Relief and Development, and its leader allows himself to be welcomed as the official representative of our Church overseas. What is going on here? I ask any person, any parish, who belongs to the American Anglican Council or its brother organization, the Anglican Communion Network, to do research, look hard at the intent and spirit of these groups and what these organizations are doing across the Church, and I pray that you reconsider your membership and support .
Read it all.
As Ephraim Radner wrote below:
The recent inhibition of the Rev. Mark Hansen (St. Johns, Bristol) in the Diocese of Connecticut by Bp. Andrew Smith, and the physical take-over of his parishs pastoral oversight, buildings and administration raise disturbing questions. Like most outsiders to this episode, I do not know the motivating details of this event. But its public face is clear enough: without personal contact and without clearly stated reasons, the bishop inhibited a priest who in every respect, except in his lack of concrete support of his bishops teaching, seems to have been a faithful pastor to his congregation. The manner in which the inhibition took place, including an unannounced visit to change locks and take possession of computer files and other materials, was, to most observers, shocking in its brazen and clumsy assertion of power. Why was no prior meeting held with Vestry and parishioners to explain the bishops concerns? Why was no meeting held with the priest? Why does the stated cause for the inhibition abandonment of communion seem to have nothing to do (and in any case to have been formulated months before the actual actions just taken) with the actual explanations given by the bishop and his staff? The bishops actions appear to have little interest in the real pastoral needs of the congregation and rector. As reported by eyewitnesses and newspapers, this is one of the most egregious exercises of unfounded disruption of congregational life devoid of Christian transparency that ECUSA has seen in some time.
Why is this not mentioned in the Bishops Convention address?
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