Skip to comments.LEAC sets sights on heretical bishops
Posted on 04/19/2006 7:36:09 PM PDT by sionnsar
Barely weeks away from the 75th General Convention, and possibly the last for orthodox Episcopalians, a new group of laypersons calling themselves LEAC, Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion, has formed to address the present crisis in the American Episcopal Church, and, in the words of its founder, "to educate passive, faithful Episcopalians ("the silent middle 80%") to know and understand the gravity of radical Episcopal bishops' offenses against the Lord himself and His Scripture."
The movement is being led by activist Episcopal layman Jim Ince who attends All Saints in Chevy Chase, Maryland in the ultra-liberal Diocese of Washington. He describes himself as a cradle Episcopalian whose roots in the church go back to 1632.
Recently LEAC conducted a blind, confidential survey of the U.S. House of Bishops and found that 56.25% of respondents now would disapprove of the 2003 General Convention resolution which led to consecration of Bishop V. Gene Robinson, and 57.5% would oppose provisions for church blessing of same-sex domestic partnerships, another of the convention's historic resolutions. The study reversed the 2003 results but of course has no standing. A satisfactory sample of 27% of the nation's active and retired bishops participated. Further response was suppressed during the data collection period by a special, unfavorable letter to bishops about the survey, from Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold.
More recently LEAC launched a national petition drive to bring to church trial 35 bishops involved in the installation of a practicing homosexual bishop in New Hampshire. The target defendant group includes the gay bishop and the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. The petition's purpose is to determine, in formal trials, the standing of church law, doctrine and practice.
VirtueOnline interviewed Mr. Ince by phone at his home in Bethesda, Maryland.
VOL: Why are you doing this at this crisis driven moment in the life of the ECUSA and what do you hope to achieve?
INCE: LEAC is a coast-to-coast coalition of Episcopal lay persons faithful to the authority of Scripture enshrined in our Book of Common Prayer. We formed LEAC to tell the vast, silent, lay middle 80 percent of Episcopalians, what is going on in the ECUSA. Sadly they are ignorant of what has been happening to their church and we need to let them know.
VOL: Who came up with LEAC - Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion?
INCE: It was conceived, organized and developed by volunteers responding to appeals from clergy-led organizations for strong new support with powerful initiatives. We have great plans to save our church from revisionists with a non-Christian agenda. We saw urgent tasks that needed our attention now.
VOL: Do you have a paid staff?
INCE. We have no paid people. All professional services are pro bono or at sharply reduced billings. LEAC is purely grass roots, building on dedicated individuals giving of their time, talents and money.
VOL: Why not link up with orthodox clergy or the American Anglican Council?
INCE: Because they fear reprisal from the ECUSA hierarchy. Only lay people can and will do this. After all we pay their bills.
VOL: What is your goal?
INCE: We hope to have 10,000 petitions before General Convention to bring presentment charges against these bishops.
VOL: What is your target?
INCE: Our target is 40 bishops and the 19 who pleaded for a different course of action. I believe we can get at least 10 bishops for a presentment.
VOL: Some liberal voices in the church say this is nothing but a diversionary tactic by you, and the cost will stifle mission. What are your thoughts?
INCE: Certainly there will be some expense chancellors of the various dioceses will incur, but most attorneys will offer their services pro bono.
VOL: What really got you going?
INCE: It all started many years ago when many of us were a local chapter of The Rev. Todd Wetzel's group Episcopalians United (which has now morphed into Anglicans United.) We saw the problems then and we became really galvanized by the recent Plano East meeting when Southern Cone Archbishop Greg Venables and ACN leader Bishop Bob Duncan and others pleaded for some strong lay action. So I talked with my friend and attorney David Bickel and a number of others, and we went out to the Hope and Future Conference in Pittsburgh and after listening to Archbishop Akinola and others, we knew our course was set. The die was cast.
VOL: Why not hook up with the American Anglican Council or the Anglican Communion Network?
INCE: We needed to get plausible deniability that the clergy was not behind us.
VOL: You have only been in business a few weeks, how many laity are on board?
INCE: We have almost reached a 1,000. People are signing up by the hundreds online to bring presentment charges against the 35 bishops including Robison and Griswold.
VOL: Someone has said that one person's "public pressure" is another person's harassment. How do you respond to that?
INCE: This is so absurd. We have the most constructive of motivation. We know what Anglicanism is about and want to practice it. The Episcopal Church has been hijacked on our watch along with our faith, and all we want to do is save as much as we can from the ravages of revisionism. It should be done to get some clarity on where the church stands on homosexual ordinations and consecrations. We don't have the muscle to put pressure to do more. We hope to get 10 bishops and I am hopeful we will get more than that. It is in response to a plea to get this done. If the bishops are unwilling to get this tried in court as Robinson's consecration was against Scripture, doctrine, history and theology and good order, I really have little hope for the church surviving as anything more than a tiny remnant.
VOL: Are you successfully reaching lay people?
INCE: Yes. We got a call from a lady in Kentucky who wants to get a LEAC chapter started there. Other people are stepping forwarding in Texas and in the Pacific North West. We also have people in Georgia and Tennessee who are capable of pulling large numbers together. We are distributing printed materials to all wardens in all the parishes in 7,300 churches.
VOL: And the end result?
INCE: For every person we can wake up and shake to attention and make understand the seriousness of the situation, and everyone we can save from a ship leaving the shore called ECUSA, which has sunk to near Unitarianism and all these middle 80% who are trapped in the hold, and if we can't pull them out, they will never have the blessings of Anglicanism again. They will be stuck in something like Unitarianism or actual Unitarianism with no Trinity, no Jesus, no salvation...not even Christian. This is where ECUSA is headed with its polices. Our intention is to help the 80% escape.
VOL: Will you be at General Convention in Columbus in June?
INCE: We have applied for a booth at GC2006 and hope to get it. We have bought and paid $1,300.00 for a place.
VOL: What really is your goal?
INCE: To preserve for future American generations a strong, honorable, vibrant, inclusive Christian Episcopal Church in which God's word once delivered is observed with reverence and obedience under the final authority of our holy Christian Scripture, while always being on guard against non-Christian revisionists.
VOL: What is the LEAC difference?
INCE: LEAC is built on four foundation stones of faithfulness which together make it a unique organization to deliver important assistance in the struggle to reinstate the authority of Scripture as the fundamental basis for doctrine in the Anglican Church in America. They are: All lay people; emphasis on truth + clarity + courage; a higher goal of saving the "silent 80% middle" and action now. No more waiting.
We have been responding to unanimous appeals by national orthodox, clergy-led Episcopal organizations to bring forth a strong lay component to our beloved church's struggle against a flood of revisionist doctrine. Failure to turn back this 30-year tide has permitted the taking away of American Episcopalians' church from Christianity into apostasy, resulting in suspension from the Consultative Council of the worldwide Anglican Communion. We have found an unmet need in our struggle is the initiative to regain communion, either by restoring the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. in full ecclesial recognition or by creating a new Anglican province in America. LEAC and clergy-led orthodox organizations are simpatico and mutually supportive without any structural ties, organizational funding or cross-leadership. Such distancing provides credible deniability by clergy of any involvement with LEAC activities which otherwise might provoke the tyrannical sword of reprisal by revisionist bishops.
VOL: What if the orthodox lose at General Convention?
INCE: If GC2006 goes as universally expected, ECUSA will burn its bridge to the Anglican Communion. That will trap hundreds of thousands of devout Episcopalians in the hold of an untrustworthy ship sailing for some theological destination north of, south of, or at Unitarianism, a clearly non-Christian port. How the hold can be opened and its hijacked Anglicans rescued is unclear. LEAC believes only Scriptural education of a personal spiritual depth unseen in many Episcopal churches for decades can rescue those hijacked Anglicans.
VOL: What is the task ahead?
INCE: Overcoming that theologically flabby mentality is 90% of the task ahead. It must start immediately. Others believe it can wait. LEAC expects that, even with only a marginally successful Scripture-illuminating campaign before Convention, we can save at least a large number of those who otherwise may be trapped in the hold of the ship headed to Unitarianism. So even in less-than-resounding success in expanding the post-Convention remnant, our Anglican ranks will be increased.
VOL: The Via Media, a radical Episcopal revisionist group, well funded and seemingly well organized have "The Day After" strategy to come down hard on the remaining orthodox bishops in ECUSA. How seriously do you take this?
INCE: LEAC takes very seriously the discovery of "The Day After" strategy of Via Media. One of Via Media's strategies looks to immediate legal action across the nation to deny access to church property by parishes affiliated with the U.S. Anglican Communion Network, those parishes having "abandoned" ECUSA. That is one of several tactics Via Media has planned to follow their expected victory over orthodoxy at Convention.
VOL: Delay seems to be endemic among orthodox folk, how would LEAC respond?
INCE: Strategies of delaying aggressive orthodox action until after Convention seem not take into account the strong possibility that there will be more procrastination, more structured postponement - by either or both sides -- of definitive action regarding the final schism by ECUSA from the Anglican Communion. With well-funded, professionally managed opposition from Integrity, the official gay-lesbian arm of ECUSA, and Via Media, equally powerful, to penetrate even further the ranks of those defending the authority of Scripture, time is not on our side. We believe that vigorous pre-convention action for orthodoxy will be useful in communicating to the international primates our determination to take control of the American church from ECUSA revisionists. There is increasing restiveness among the primates concerning American orthodoxy's refusal to follow the suggestion of Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, possibly the most influential person in the Anglican Communion. He has said, and others have echoed, that American orthodoxy should discontinue its policy of having "one foot in ECUSA and one foot in the Anglican Communion." Even losing strong pre-convention and at-convention confrontations would likely earn a better and faster result for us in the Anglican Communion than letting things slide, fearfully until mid-June. Delay can be self-defeating for orthodoxy.
VOL: How can people reach you?
INCE: LEAC: (240) 485-7357
Didn't the Righter trial already hold a few decades back that there is no such thing as heresy when it comes to teachings on sexuality? What is the point of trying to bring a heresy trial? That ground has been long given up.
I confess ignorance of the Righter trial... but I will note that it is not unknown for the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse itself. Perhaps LEAC thinks the ground can be retaken.
I found this summary on the web (Louie Crew's site). I guess it wasn't that long ago, just 1996. It held that Christian teachings on sexuality are not part of the "Core Doctrines" of the Church:
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