Skip to comments.Why I Left The Episcopal Church
Posted on 09/14/2006 7:17:25 PM PDT by sionnsar
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
By now, most of you will have heard that the parish of Holy Trinity and I as a priest have chosen to realign ourselves with an overseas Province of the Anglican Communion. I am sending you this letter for several reasons.
First, I value the time and ministry we have shared, and the relationship that developed between us.
Second, I have dedicated myself over the past 32 years of ordained ministry in the Diocese of San Diego to the promotion of open conversation and debate with the aim, not of agreement, but of understanding. Therefore, I want to give you the opportunity (and challenge) to hear an explanation from me about what I and the parish I serve have chosen to do.
Third, I am writing you (with copies to several other priests around the globe with whom I have served) "for the record."
I began attending an Episcopal Church in 1970 at All Saints' San Diego. In the fall of 1971, I began an M.Div. program at Seabury Western Theological Seminary under the spiritual direction of Fr. Paul Satrang. I became a Postulant of the Diocese of Los Angeles with the encouragement of Bishop Bloy.
Between 1970 and my graduation and ordination by Bishop Wolterstorff in July 1974, several writers can be singled out as primary in shaping my understanding of the Anglican way of being Christian: lay thinkers Evelyn Underhill, Charles Williams, and C. S. Lewis; and priest-teachers Eric Mascall and Austin Farrer. Significantly, not one of these writers is American, and yet it was American priests who directed me to them. It was clear to me that I was called into a ministry recognized throughout the worldwide Anglican Communion (I was ordained priest in January of 1975).
During the General Convention in Minneapolis in 1976, an event occurred which forced me to pray about whether or not I could or should continue to serve within ECUSA. At the time, I was reading The Letters of Evelyn Underhill, and came across the following in a response she wrote to someone who asked her why she didn't become a Roman Catholic.
She wrote, "The whole question, of course, is not, 'What attracts and would help Me?' but 'Where can I serve God best?' - and usually the answer to that is, 'Where He has put me.' Von Hugel used to say that only a definite and continuous feeling that it would be a sin not to move, could justify anyone changing." Through these wise words, I understood, "As long as you can still do the work God has called you to do in ECUSA, it would be selfish for you to change allegiance." I have been obedient, and tried to fulfill my vocation in this context.
Over the past 32 years, I have served actively within the Diocese of San Diego. Following two years as curate at St. Dunstan's under Fr. David Barclay, I served 2½ years as curate at St. Luke's under Fr. Jack Graves. Since March of 1979, I have served as rector of Holy Trinity.
When I accepted the call to Holy Trinity, the parish had the following in the Articles of Incorporation: "Any church owned, operated or owned and operated by this corporation shall claim its authority as a part of Holy Catholic Church, and shall maintain the practices of such church in accordance with the Anglican tradition and the liturgies of the Anglican churches so long as such practices are not in conflict with Holy Scripture." I was heartened by these words, and was prepared to come and uphold, support, and defend them as rector. This has not changed during the past 27 + years.
In the meantime, I have served in a variety of ministries outside the parish: Commission on Ministry (under all four San Diego Bishops), Youth Commission, Outreach Commission, PBFWR (now ERD) diocesan representative, Standing Committee, Deputy to General Convention (1994, 1997, 2003, plus 1st alternate in 2000, 2006) and coordination of the Episcopal Softball League for 28+ years (until it ceased this year after running continuously since its beginning in 1974.)
I have also encouraged and participated in a variety of programs in the Diocese of San Diego which have involved theological discussion, debate and dialogue.
In addition, I have been involved in various educational, spiritual and political efforts to promote the historic understanding of the larger Church regarding sacraments, ministry, creeds and Scripture. These have included the Evangelical and Catholic Mission, which formed the Episcopal Synod of America in 1989, which became part of the international Forward in Faith in 1998. I have served by election on the ESA/FIFNA Council since 1994. Since the General Convention of 1997, the tension between ECUSA and the worldwide Anglican Communion has tightened considerably, and it has been since that time that groups such as FIFNA have forged stronger bonds with brothers and sisters outside of ECUSA.
We are all aware of how things have progressed in this regard in the light of such events as the 1998 Lambeth Conference, and many Primates' meetings since then, and the General Conventions of 2000, 2003, and 2006. Over the past nine years, my heart has broken over the incessant rejection of catholicity by ECUSA in favor of American autonomy.
These national and global events provide the background to the recent decisions which the parish of Holy Trinity and I have made. However, in the foreground are recent steps taken by Bishop James Mathes here in San Diego. After calling for "real dialogue," he sent his now famous "threatening letter" after Easter which warned clergy and vestries of possible inhibition and removal if thoughts, words or actions concerning separation from the Diocese or ECUSA were to surface.
Since Holy Trinity's documents failed to include the subordination language expected by the bishop, both the vestry and I felt vulnerable. Second, in response to the departure of St. John's Fallbrook, Bishop Mathes' written response included his frequent condemnation of the Anglican Communion Network as "schismatic and destructive." Our parish joined the ACN prior to Bishop Mathes' consecration as a means for us to remain within ECUSA and keep our ties with the worldwide Communion.
Also in that letter, Bishop Mathes said that he had not served the Diocese well by "being patient." This letter increased our anxiety enormously. Finally, Bishop Mathes has joined in an effort to have Bishop John David Schofield summarily removed for a violation of Title II Canon 9, "abandonment of the Communion of this Church," for action taken by the Diocesan Convention of San Joaquin which removed language of subordination.
The bishops' effort includes an assumption that Bishop Schofield is preparing to leave the Episcopal Church based on the Convention actions. This constitutes an unjust and unprecedented "preemptive strike." Bishop Schofield has been a personal friend for nearly 20 years. He has preached at Holy Trinity, and enjoys a reputation as a godly, spirit-filled leader throughout ecumenical circles across the globe. Therefore, this action is profoundly offensive and hurtful.
Together, these three actions tell us: Clergy and vestry can be removed by Bishop Mathes even for thinking about breaking ties with ECUSA; he has been too patient so far; and he is willing to seek removal of clergy for the lack of subordination language in one's documents, even if one has done nothing. It is in the light of these actions and their clear implication that both the parish and I have decided to disassociate from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of San Diego.
The oppression is too great.
The parish has acted now to preserve our religious freedom, as understood and expressed by our parish Articles and By-Laws. For me personally, concerning the guidelines I received via Evelyn Underhill 30 years ago, these circumstances have now made it impossible for me to do all that God has called me to do in this Diocese. In order to do the work of pastoral care to which I am called, I have to insure the ability to equip the saints at Holy Trinity with the Gospel of transformation by grace. Their decision to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of San Diego, and retain me as rector, confirms what I must do.
This decision is not about self-interest but about mission. I am 57, and I have 30+ years in ministry; I could simply retire with full pension. Or, I could seek a position in an "orthodox diocese." But I believe those choices for me would be selfish. I also believe it would be selfish and irresponsible for me to simply stay put, and urge the parish to do so. That would be short-sighted of the parish also. It is for the sake of mission and taking a bold stand for religious freedom as we have always understood it, both for the unbelieving and hurting in our midst but also for future generations, that we make sure that there is an orthodox Anglican presence in our community. This is our parish charter.
This is my ordination vow.
I was ordained priest from the 1928 BCP. Reading from it, Bishop Wolterstorff asked, "Will you be ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God's Word . . ." For all these reasons, I now believe that, in behaving as a shepherd and not a hireling, it would be a sin for me to remain connected to the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of San Diego, since I am still called to pastor the people of Holy Trinity Parish.
I am deeply saddened that such a time has come to our portion of the Body of Christ. However, our choice is to remain within the Anglican Communion. I pray that the Episcopal Church will truly repent and return to the Communion, forsaking its idolatry of the General Convention and its legislative process. And I pray that those of us who disassociate with the Episcopal Church will deepen in humble and grateful service to our Lord and his mission to care for the needs of the poor, weak and suffering.
Finally, I want to assure you of my continuing prayers and to ask for yours for me and for Holy Trinity. We all know that there is only one church, one Body of Christ. Although we will be serving in different places for a season, it is my certain hope that God's gifts of unity to his disciples will be manifest in the fullness of time.
The Rev. Lawrence D. Bausch
Sionnsar, that was a lovely letter of address. This Priest is doing RIGHT.
Isn't your comment along the lines of "being black and republican" -- as in not really being black -- as uttered by liberals. Be respectful, if you can.
Well, let me put it another way: there are a great many Catholics of English descent whose salvation is in dire peril, thanks to individualistic Episcopalians. The battle to retain these people among God's children and to guide them to Heaven according to the belief and use of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church is a heavy burden. But it is one that Anglo-Catholics take up. We have only rarely been in actual control of the CoE and her daughter churches but we do not give up.
That is what the good Father is trying to tell you.
Yes, he is.
It's their form of political activism. Some nasty, nasty people -- Democrats, all of 'em. In the early 90s, they were caught giving visa's to illegals. Rant off.
My sincere apologies if I misunderstood your sentiment.
But I think we have different understandings of your definition of the "mother church". I see the "body" in the world. It has many parts all of which contribute to the One True and Holy Church; working hand in hand, each with a very important mission and purpose. I do believe the Pope sees this too. I love this Pope.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.