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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dateline, San Joaquin: Atwater vicar asks bishop to clarify planned visit

Someday, I want to meet this priest:

The vicar of St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Atwater, California, in the Diocese of San Joaquin has written to Bishop John-David Schofield questioning his plan to visit the congregation December 23 and asking for clarification about his status as a bishop in the Episcopal Church...

"We would like you to state to us your pastoral and canonical relationship with St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, and myself," Risard wrote in his letter. "You publicly stated at our diocesan convention that you no longer are the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, and instead you are a Bishop within the Province of the Southern Cone. As such, we understand your visit is simply to worship with us; there will be no liturgical role for you, neither celebrating nor preaching. The Episcopal Church welcomes all, and you are most welcome to worship, with the purpose of seeking transformation and reconciliation."


Blogger Young fogey emeritus said...

I think this story came from Canon Jim Naughton's place (it has been updated and added to).

Right, some commentary from the 'no agenda other than being Catholic, and non-clobbering since 2006' corner...

Of course as an Episcopalian by birth and choice you support those in central California who want to remain in your church. Only natural.

Fair is fair: no matter which way the sides are flip-flopped in this row, a leaving congregation asking the bishop for a deal is fine. But if the bishop says no, one has to move house!

But the spanner in these works is... this is a mission (the American use of vicar in the original short version of the story told me that), wholly dependent upon the diocese, just like your situation, very much resembling... a Roman Catholic priest and parish.

I'd like to think the Bishop of San Joaquin believes in a free society and fair play like I do and is applying the golden rule, treating leaving congregations like conservative ones in the rest of the country ought to be.

(Even if he doesn't, there is legal precedent in California for leaving parishes keeping their buildings.)

I understand from the news stories I've read he is giving the full-fledged parishes a choice. A few will remain Episcopal, and have a website called that, and may well re-form the Episcopal diocese in those parts.

(Fine with me. I'm not interested to trying to destroy your church - only in continuing the Catholic religion in a cultural form that's dear to me, no matter what the church sign outside says it is.)

But again St Nicholas is a mission and thus, for now, still under him (for the next month or so?). So... how does snubbing him square with small-e episcopal polity?

Also... both sides are still in the Anglican Communion at least for now. AFAIK even if one thinks Southern Cone is being uncharitable and uncanonical, TEC doesn't hold to a one-true-church/EENS ecclesiology.

(I think we can agree that as long as both sides remain in the Communion this is a canonical quagmire. I appreciate TEC's point that the incursions don't make sense as long as there is one Communion.)

The Anglo-Catholic parish where I've been a happy part-timer since 2003 is part of the Episcopal diocese. As long as the clergy are occupying the building and on the diocesan dental plan the bishop is welcome to visit and officiate (or have High Mass in his presence enthroned in the sanctuary). Only fair.

I imagine a similar conservative parish 'dissing' a liberal bishop wouldn't get the same response from the TEC stalwarts. (Two parishes around here have been in such standoffs lasting years - the bishop ended up closing one of them.)

So... unlike parishes, missions in central California that want to remain Episcopal having to move seems... fair.

('Who owns the buildings?' seems to hang on 'what is the basic unit of this denomination, the national church as 815 is now saying, or the diocese, a claim that has historical clout?' As a diocese leaving has never happened before it seems that the courts will answer this question - not the religious questions that caused the split.)

As (the Revd) Tripp says, I'm just sayin'.

December 21, 2007 8:10 AM  

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