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House of Bishops releases letter on renewing dioceses

House of Bishops releases letter on renewing dioceses

UPDATED: ENS report – see below:

The House of Bishops today responded to the controversy initiated when nine Episcopal bishops offered support through either affidavits or an amicus brief to breakaway factions attempting to take possession of the property of the church. The letter names the legitimate bishops of the four renewing dioceses, a matter which is at issue in cases in the Dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy.

The resolution approving the following statement passed unanimously on a roll call vote, which is both significant and curious, since a number of the bishops who signed affidavits or the amicus brief were present in the house.

A Mind of the House Resolution:

Resolved, That Episcopalians in the Dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin–lay and clergy–be commended for their unflagging efforts to continue to witness to God’s mission as The Episcopal Church during recent difficult times as they reorganize their continuing dioceses in that same spirit; and be it further

Resolved, That the leadership in each of those four continuing dioceses be commended for their similar efforts, including in particular the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth; the Rt. Rev. Kenneth L. Price, Assisting Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh; the Rt. Rev. John C. Buchanan, Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of Quincy; and the Rt. Rev. Chester L. Talton, Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, and especially the strong lay leadership of each dioceses.

Bishop Buchanan said: “Bishop Ohl and I triggered this resolution by writing our letter. The House of Bishops spent nearly two and a half hours discussing this matter in productive and collegial conversation that worked toward reconciliation. The matter will continue to be discussed at future meetings of the House of Bishops.

“I am most grateful for the resolution that identifies me as the bishop of the Diocese of Quincy.”


Episcopal News Service reports that at least one bishop feels that it did not address the question that was asked:

Announcement of the “mind of the house” resolution came after the bishops spent most, if not all, of their private conversation time over the past three days discussing a request from Buchanan and Ohl that their colleagues “set the record on the polity of this church regarding its hierarchical character.”

Buchanan told Episcopal News Service after the resolution passed during private conversation that he “told the house I am grateful for the support and help the resolution provides, but it’s not what I asked for. I asked for clarification around the hierarchical character of our church.”

He later e-mailed ENS to say that “the House of Bishops spent nearly two and a half hours discussing this matter in productive and collegial conversation that worked toward reconciliation. The matter will continue to be discussed at future meetings of the House of Bishops.”


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Jeremy Bonner


Could I direct your attention to the following:

First, Bishop Lawrence writing in his memoirs of the establishment of the Church Pension Fund:

“When I first went to see Dr. Pritchett he said ‘Bishop, no voluntary system of pensions has ever succeeded, it must be compulsory.’ My immediate answer was, ‘Then the Episcopal Church can never have a pension system. You cannot compel a dollar out of any Diocese, parish or individual.’ [Monell] Sayre’s problem, therefore, was to invent such a voluntary system as would have in it the elements of the strongest moral compulsion under the circumstances: one in which it would clearly pay every parish to enter, one which made such an appeal to the loyalty of the Church as to hold all the elements together and to crystallize that loyalty in canonical legislation.” [MEMORIES OF A HAPPY LIFE (1926), 359-360]

Second, the Committee on Voting Proedures of the General Convention of 1976:

“[An] indispensable ingredient of [the Compromise of 1789] was the concept of the House of Deputies as a confederation of dioceses and, not as in the revised national government structure, a body of representatives of the Church constituencies in the Diocese . . . The concept of confederation has persisted and survived repeated efforts to substitute a body representative of and proportional to the Church membership. It is the polity of the Church.” [JOURNAL OF THE GENERAL CONVENTION, 1976, AA2]

Ed Fordyce

Further to the Febreze analogy, Bishop Martins says in his blog: “This motion carried on a unanimous roll call vote. And it is in no way inconsistent with the amicus curiae brief that seven of us recently signed.”

Nuf said.


Fudge, anyone? Not really surprising…

Robert Dodd


Let’s see if we can apply the arguments of the nine bishops to the US House of Representatives. Loosely translated, the argument would be:

– The US is not a representative democracy.

– Rather, it is a voluntary federation of sovereign states.

– Yes, there is a US constitution, but it is not the supreme law of the land.

– In fact, each member of the House rules his or her own office almost entirely independently.

– The Constitution applies only to the national government.

– If I, as a member of Congress, wish to leave the union and proclaim my state to be an independent, sovereign state, I may do so, for nothing says I cannot.

– Do I not have almost unfettered power in my own office? That fact that I do illustrates why you cannot tell me that my efforts to lead my state out of the Union are unconstitutional.

– Are you sure that the US is a representative democracy? Where does it say so?

Need I point out that the bicameral constution of TEC was intended to parallel that of the US?

Eric Bonetti

Ed Fordyce

Looks like they’re trying a little Febreze on the skunk odor. The underlying claim of a diocesan bishop’s authority claimed in the amicus brief has not been addressed. “Provisional” bishops and a borrowed “assisting” bishop don’t count.

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