News for Week Ending 3/17/2014
Same-sex marriage continues to be hot topic in wake of bishop’s pastoral guidanceThe hornets’ nest of commentary stemming from the pastoral guidance on same-sex marriage from the Church of England’s House of Bishops continues. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The latest collection of links to related material from Thinking Anglicans can be found here and here.
Conservative group asks for investigation of presiding bishop’s actionsAn obscure Anglican group that recently changed its name to American Anglican Fellowship Inc. (AAF) has asked The Episcopal Church that its charges against Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori be investigated. Apparently, the group used to be the Washington chapter of the American Anglican Council (AAC), a group long critical of The Episcopal Church. The group’s Web site and its December 19, 2013, letter to the intake officer of The Episcopal Church, as well as its Internet domain registration reveal none of the names of AAF members or officers, but George Conger has provided information about the group here. According to AAF, its letter to Bishop Clay Matthews was circulating on the Internet, which made it necessary to make it public.
The AAF letter alleges six charges against the presiding bishop, all of which are involved with defections from the church by disgruntled conservatives. The AAF charges that (1) property litigation by the church is improper, that (2) abandonment canons have been improperly used, that (3) clergy have been construed as renouncing their vows in the absence of written statements to that effect, that (4) the San Joaquin Standing Committee was improperly dismissed and replaced, that (5) the conservative bishops were harassed who submitted affidavits in legal proceedings contradicting the legal theory propounded by Episcopal Church attorneys, and that (6) Mark Lawrence, of the Diocese of South Carolina, was improperly deposed and replaced. The letter relies heavily on arguments from the Anglican Communion Institute, Inc., a conservative group with no official standing in the Anglican Communion, and the AAC. There are several references to the AAC report “The Episcopal Church: Tearing the Fabric of Communion to Shreds,” which is no longer available on the AAC Web site. (It is available on the PEP site here.)
It is fair to say that the complaints of AAF are not new. They are largely, though not completely, without merit, though it is doubtful that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will actually face charges. In any case, AAF freely admits that it is “an organization of current and former members of The Episcopal Church.”