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Offering additional information on important topics and current events concerning the Episcopal Church.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has released the following statement about the United Thank Offering.

 

The resignations of several members of the United Thank Offering Board in the past few days deeply distress me.  They appear to be the result of grave suspicion and the attribution of inappropriate and unhelpful motives. The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS), and its elected and official leadership (the President of the House of Deputies, the Chief Operating Officer, the Executive Officer of General Convention, the Treasurer, and I) have no intention of divesting the United Thank Offering of its funds or applying excessive controls to its practices.  Our goal is the one that has continued from the beginning of this United Offering – to relieve suffering and help to build a series of ministries that “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

The United Thank Offering is a ministry of the whole Church, and has been overseen since its beginning through members of the Episcopal Church Women and Mission staff of the DFMS.  It is not, and has never been, a separate corporation, and the current state of law in the United States (where the DFMS is incorporated) requires accountable connections with the corporation which holds non-profit status.  That reality prompted a clarification of relationships between the United Thank Offering and the DFMS, with work begun in Executive Council in 2008.  That work has continued, and the most recent conversations have centered around bringing the operating procedures into compliance with both federal law and with DFMS policies, and developing a memorandum of understanding between the two bodies.  That work is not finished, and unfortunately the recent resignation of several United Thank Offering board members purported that those conversations were closed.  We anticipate continued developmental work on those agreements and procedures, and look forward to continuing these conversations with the remaining board members, and the new members, when they are named.  The goal of all this long work is to the continued existence and thriving of the ministry of the United Thank Offering.  We fervently pray for a healed world, and the United Thank Offering is a very important way in which the year of the Lord’s favor must continue to be proclaimed.

I commend to your attention other documents prepared by staff in reference to these issues.  I encourage your prayers for the ministry of the United Thank Offering, and for all the Episcopalians, women and men and children, who continue to give thanks through the Blue Box in order that others might know the love of God and the favor of the Lord in their own lives.


The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church

September 6, 2013

 

Documents:

Documents related to United Thank Offering

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has released the following statement about the United Thank Offering. The resignations of several members of the United Thank Offering Board in the past few days deeply distress me....

The following information has been prepared in response to queries about recent developments in the Diocese of South Carolina. It includes an overview and timeline of events related to the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Mark Lawrence, including pastoral outreach, details of Title IV, and next steps.

Please note:

  • Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori along with members of her staff  have taken many steps to work with Bishop Lawrence, and she continues to encourage openness to various paths forward.

·         Title IV actions were initiated by members of the Diocese of South Carolina, not the Presiding Bishop.

  • Once Title IV actions are initiated, the Presiding Bishop must abide by the canons and has no influence over the proceedings.
  • Dioceses cannot leave the Episcopal Church.  While some clergy and individuals may choose to leave, congregations and property remain in the diocese to be used for the mission of the Episcopal Church (The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society).

Pastoral outreach

Pastoral outreach to Bishop Mark Lawrence has been ongoing over a period of several years, including up to the time he announced his intentions.

The Bishops of Province IV gather twice a year, and Lawrence was in attendance at most or all of those meetings. During each gathering Lawrence was asked what was happening in the Diocese of South Carolina, to which he repeatedly claimed he was “trying” to hold diverse opinions together and keep the Diocese in the Episcopal Church.

In spring 2010 a private meeting was held in Charleston at the request of the Presiding Bishop to see if the trajectory that was apparent could be changed.  Also in 2010 several letters and conversations were exchanged between Lawrence and Bishop Clifton Daniel of East Carolina, who is President of Province IV.  Additionally during this period, the Presiding Bishop and Lawrence engaged in private conversations. Other bishops, most notably Bishop Andrew Waldo of Upper South Carolina, attempted to intervene and to offer practical help.

Repeated attempts have been made to discuss the situation with Lawrence and to offer help in achieving resolution.

Title IV Overview

In 2009, General Convention adopted new or amended provisions for Title IV Disciplinary Canons discipline of clergy, including bishops.

New Canon IV.16(A) provided that the body to examine evidence of putative abandonment by a bishop was to be a new “Disciplinary Board for Bishops” created under Canon IV.17(3).  The Disciplinary Board for Bishops is composed of 10 bishops elected by the House of Bishops and four lay and four clergy persons elected by the House of Deputies.

When the Presiding Bishop receives such a “certificate” from the Disciplinary Board that a bishop has abandoned the Episcopal Church, several canonical actions must ensue, including that the Presiding Bishop “shall then place a restriction on the exercise of ministry of said Bishop. . . .”  Canon IV.16(A)(1).  The canons state that the “restriction” is to last “until such time as the House of Bishops shall investigate the matter and act thereon.”  In this case, the House of Bishops meeting is slated for March 2013. There is no provision in the canons allowing the Presiding Bishop to waive or terminate the “restriction” except under precise provisions noted below.

While the “restriction” is in effect, “the Bishop shall not perform any Episcopal, ministerial or canonical acts.”

Within 60 days after the bishop’s ministry has been restricted, he or she may appeal to demonstrate that the facts alleged in the “certificate” are “false,” or make a “good faith retraction” of such facts, in which case the Presiding Bishop with the consent of the Disciplinary Board, “shall terminate” the restriction.  The bishop may also voluntarily renounce his or her ordained ministry in this Church under Canon III.12(7).  Canon IV.16(A)(2).

If none of the foregoing occurs, the Presiding Bishop must “present the matter to the House of Bishops” at its next meeting.  If the House consents, the Presiding Bishop “shall depose the Bishop from the ministry” of this Church.

2011 proceedings

On November 28, 2011, the Disciplinary Board announced that it had received information from a group of communicants in the Diocese of South Carolina allegedly showing that Lawrence had abandoned the Church by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline or Worship of the Church.

In its November 28 statement in response, the Disciplinary Board stated that “[b]ased on the information before it, the Board was unable to make the conclusions essential to a certification that Bishop Lawrence had abandoned the communion of the Church.”

2012 Proceedings

On September 18, 2012, the Disciplinary Board signed a “Certificate of Abandonment of the Episcopal Church and Statement of the Acts or Declarations Which Show Such Abandonment” in the case of the Bishop of South Carolina.

In its “certificate,” the Disciplinary Board announced that it had “reviewed complaints from twelve adult communicants in good standing resident in the Diocese of South Carolina and two priests canonically resident in that Diocese. . . .”

The Disciplinary Board recited three “Acts” by the bishop to show such abandonment:

  • First, resolutions came before the diocesan convention in 2010 proposing, among other things, to amend the diocesan Constitution to qualify the diocese’s accession to the Constitution of the Church and to remove any provision acceding to the canons of the Church, as well as proposals to amend the diocesan Canons to remove all references to the canons of the Church.  The Disciplinary Board found:

“The failure of Bishop Lawrence to rule these resolutions out of order or otherwise to dissent from their adoption, and in fact his endorsement of these resolutions in his address to the 219th Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina violated his ordination vows to ‘conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church’ and to ‘guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church,’ as well as his duty to ‘well and faithfully perform the duties of [his] office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church,’ constituting abandonment of The Episcopal Church by an open renunciation of the Discipline of the Church.”

·         Second, in October 2011, Bishop Lawrence, as President of the diocese’s nonprofit corporation, filed amendments to the corporate charter deleting all references to the Church and obedience to its Constitution and canons.  The Disciplinary Board found:

“Bishop Lawrence’s action in signing, executing, and filing of the Articles of Amendment altering the stated purpose of the nonprofit corporation known as The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina violated his ordination vows to ‘conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church’ and to ‘guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church,’ as well as his duty to ‘well and faithfully perform the duties of [his] office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church,’ constituting abandonment of The Episcopal Church by an open renunciation of the Discipline of the Church.”

·         Third, in November 2011, Bishop Lawrence either signed or directed others to sign, “quitclaim deeds to every parish of the Diocese of South Carolina disclaiming any interest in the real estate held by or for the benefit of each parish.”  The Disciplinary Board found:

“Bishop Lawrence’s action in directing the issuance of these quitclaim deeds in an effort to impair the trust interest of The Episcopal Church and of the Diocese of South Carolina in the affected real estate, and in personally executing such quitclaim deeds, violated his ordination vows to ‘conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church’ and to ‘guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church,’ as well as his duties to ‘safeguard the property and funds of the Church’ and to ‘well and faithfully perform the duties of [his] office in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of this Church,’ constituting abandonment of The Episcopal Church by an open renunciation of the Discipline of the Church.”

The Disciplinary Board therefore “request[ed] that the Presiding Bishop record this Certificate and Statement and take such further action concerning Bishop Mark J. Lawrence as may be required by the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.”

Presiding Bishop’s actions

On Monday, October 15, 2012, the Presiding Bishop notified Lawrence by telephone that the Disciplinary Board had certified to her that he had engaged in conduct “constituting abandonment of The Episcopal Church by an open renunciation of the Discipline of the Church.”

The Presiding Bishop in the same conversation notified him that shortly before she placed that telephone call she had in writing “placed a restriction on the exercise of ministry of Bishop Lawrence ‘until such time as the House of Bishops shall investigate the matter and act thereon.’”  She explained that the document also stated that “[d]uring the period of such restriction, ‘the Bishop shall not perform any Episcopal, ministerial or canonical acts.’”

On the same day, copies of both the Disciplinary Board’s “Certificate,” together with all pertinent attachments, and the restriction on the exercise of his ministry were e-mailed to Lawrence through his Chancellor.

In her call to Lawrence on October 15, the Presiding Bishop told him that she would not make the developments public until after Monday, October 22, when Lawrence and Bishop Waldo of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, together with their Chancellors, were scheduled to have a confidential meeting with the Presiding Bishop in New York.  She understood Lawrence to agree to the confidentiality of these developments until that time.

The Presiding Bishop received a telephone call from Lawrence on Wednesday, October 17, in which she understood him to say he could not keep the agreement to hold the Board’s “Certificate” and the restriction on ministry in confidence until after the following Monday’s meeting.  She understood him to explain that the Chancellor of the Diocese had concluded that under the Diocese’s rules, the disciplinary action against Lawrence had triggered a change in the status of the Diocese to the effect of its having “disassociated” from the Episcopal Church.

On the same day, an announcement on the diocesan website stated that the “leadership” of the Diocese “had in place resolutions which would become effective upon any action by TEC [i.e., Church].”  The statement continued:  “As a result of TEC’s attack against our Bishop, the Diocese of South Carolina is disassociated from TEC, that is, its accession to the TEC Constitution and its membership in TEC have been withdrawn.”

Later that week, Lawrence telephoned the Presiding Bishop to say that he was not in a position to meet with her and Bishop Waldo in New York the following Monday as planned.

The Continuing Diocese of South Carolina

Leading lay and clergy persons in the Diocese of South Carolina have begun to plan for the reorganization of the continuing Diocese.  A small group of persons representing the breadth of the Diocese has agreed to recruit persons to form a Steering Committee to undertake preparation for a meeting of the Diocesan Convention within the next few months.  This follows the pattern set by other dioceses where the former bishop and lay and clergy leaders had left the church.

The next annual meeting of the diocesan convention has previously been set for March 8, 2013.

(Note: Lawrence and diocesan leaders who have left the Episcopal Church have called a meeting for November 17 purportedly of the diocesan convention.  This meeting is not a meeting of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of South Carolina.)

The Steering Committee at the same time sought assistance and guidance from the Presiding Bishop’s Office.

On Thursday, October 25, representatives of the Presiding Bishop met in Charleston with a small group of lay and clergy persons of the Diocese  of South Carolina to outline steps that could be taken by such a Steering Committee.  Such a group would, among other things, also be in close communication with the Presiding Bishop during the reorganization effort.

The Presiding Bishop’s Office expects this Steering Committee to announce its formation, its members, and the elements of a reorganization plan in cooperation with the Presiding Bishop within the next several days.

The following information has been prepared in response to queries about recent developments in the Diocese of South Carolina. It includes an overview and timeline of events related to the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Mark Lawrence...
Tagged in: DFMS Budget

On March 1, the 2013-2015 draft triennial budget was posted on the Episcopal Church General Convention website and copied elsewhere along with a narrative explanation.

This is the draft triennial budget of $104.9 million that the Episcopal Church Executive Council approved at its January 2012 meeting.

During that meeting in the draft budget preparation:

  • Executive Council discussed both “big-picture” areas and specific line items.
  • The draft budget was prepared by means of a new process, calling for the Executive Committee of Executive Council to carry the work.  Staff involvement was limited.

It is important to stress that this is a draft budget and is not the final document.  It is presented for discussion and review.

The next step for the budget with the Program, Budget and Finance committee – commonly known as PB&F.  PB&F will review and prepare a proposed budget at General Convention, being held July 2012 in Indianapolis IN. Following PB&F work, it will be forwarded to the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies for review.

It is General Convention that will approve a final budget.  Although there may be discussion, suggestions and much sharing of information, the budget remains a draft until it goes to General Convention.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has stated “budgets should be understood as moral documents.”

Concerning certain areas of the budget:

  • The debt associated with the building at 815 Second Ave., NYC is currently at $34 million. The annual debt service includes approximately $1.3 million in interest and $1.6 million of principal payment, which adds to the equity in the building.  NYC real estate has regularly appreciated. However, at this point in time, when the nation finds real estate values at the lowest point in many years, a sale, even in Manhattan, would result in selling a very valuable church asset at the worst possible time.
  • The staff of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, excluding those supported government contracts, currently numbers 144 full and part- time. This number has dropped dramatically since GC09 when 44 positions were eliminated (9 of which were vacant, thus 35 employees lost their jobs) through budget reductions.
  • Included in the draft budget are funding: for a “churchwide consultation” on the Episcopal Church’s future shape and work; and for a pilot project offered by Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer, for developing a plan by which the church can assist congregations and dioceses in group endeavors and purchasing – an “Episcopal Co-Op.”
  • In some cases, Executive Council allocated amounts to broad areas and departments rather than making allocations to specific line items.  In these broad areas, future allocations are expected to be made either by PB&F or in future years when Executive Council makes annual revisions to the budget.
  • Some areas of work, such as The Office of Communication, have been identified and funded as evangelistic or other missional priorities by Executive Council. For details on the work of the DFMS, please see the 2011 Report to the Church:
    http://archive.episcopalchurch.org/oc/TheChurchReport110111.pdf

A special email address has been established for comments on the draft budget.  Comments will be shared with Executive Council, the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies. budget@episcopalchurch.org

On March 1, the 2013-2015 draft triennial budget was posted on the Episcopal Church General Convention website and copied elsewhere along with a narrative explanation.This is the draft triennial budget of $104.9 million that the Episcopal Church...
Tagged in: Bede Perry

Bede James Parry was serving as organist and music director at All Saints Church, Las Vegas, when I became aware of him.  His arrival preceded my own in the Diocese of Nevada.

He approached me to inquire about being received as a priest, having served as a priest in the Roman Catholic Church.  At the time, he told me of being dismissed from the monastery in 1987 for a sexual encounter with an older teenager, and indicated that it was a single incident of very poor judgment.  The incident was reported to civil authorities, who did not charge him.  He told of being sent to a facility in New Mexico, serving as a priest thereafter both in New Mexico and in Nevada, and recently (2002) being asked to formalize his separation from the monastery.

In consultation with other diocesan leadership and the chancellor, we explored the possibilities and liabilities of receiving him.  I wrote to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas and the Diocese of Santa Fe, receiving brief responses from each bishop, who indicated no problematic behavior.  I wrote to Conception Abbey, from whom I received only an acknowledgement that he had served there, been sent for treatment to a facility in New Mexico, and had been dismissed for this incident of misconduct.  Neither then nor later did I receive a copy of any report of a psychological examination in connection with his service in the Roman Catholic Church.  His departure from the Roman Catholic priesthood had to do with his desire to take up secular employment.

Parry was required to fulfill all the expectations of the canons regarding reception of a priest from another communion in historic succession.  He did undergo a psychological exam in the Diocese of Nevada, was forthcoming about the incident he had reported to me, and did not receive a negative evaluation.  His background check showed no more than what he had already told us.  He was forthcoming about the previous incident in his interviews with the Commission on Ministry and with the Standing Committee. 

I made the decision to receive him, believing that he demonstrated repentance and amendment of life and that his current state did not represent a bar to his reception.  I was clear that his ministry would be limited to an assisting role, under the supervision of another priest, and like any other diocesan leader, he would not be permitted to work alone with children.  Since that time, as far as I am aware, he has served faithfully and effectively as a minister of the gospel and priest of this Church. 

The records of his reception are retained by the Diocese of Nevada, and further questions should be directed to Bishop Dan Edwards.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church

Bede James Parry was serving as organist and music director at All Saints Church, Las Vegas, when I became aware of him.  His arrival preceded my own in the Diocese of Nevada.He approached me to inquire about being received as a priest, having...

 

In reference to an opinion piece titled “Twenty-first Century Excommunication” and posted to wsj.com on October 7, 2011, please note the following:

  • The author’s information and assertions are dated. The author’s reference in the opening paragraph to the church in Binghamton, New York is almost four years old.  Much has happened, including a Lambeth Conference and a General Convention. The Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York has addressed and dealt with the issues raised in this article.
  • Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori did not make any of the statements that the author claims she made in the article.
  • The author of the article stated that, “Of the 38 provinces in the global Anglican Communion, 22 have declared themselves in “broken” or “impaired” fellowship with the more liberal American church.”   As recently as Monday, October 10, Lambeth Palace confirmed that there is no basis for this claim by the author.
  • The budget of The Episcopal Church and the correct numbers for expenses are available to the public on the website www.generalconvention.org.
  • Membership in the Anglican Church of North America includes churches and denominations that have disassociated from the Episcopal Church both recently and over the last 130 years, as well as congregations which have never been part of the Episcopal Church.  ACNA is not a member of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.
  • The Episcopal Church maintains very good relationships with many of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion, as evidenced through our many diocesan companion relationships.  Many Primates and Provincial Secretaries have been and continue to be guests at the Church Center in New York City and at various gatherings, including the General Convention 2009 and meetings of the House of Bishops.
  • Dioceses are created by the General Convention and cannot be dissolved without action of the General Convention in accordance with the provisions of the Episcopal Church’s constitution and canons. Parishes, likewise, are created by a local diocese and continue within that structure unless dissolved pursuant to the canons of the diocese.
  • The Episcopal Church welcomes all people – men and women, gay and lesbian persons – in ministry and in church leadership positions, as children of God and followers of Jesus Christ. The Episcopal Church has actively responded to the calls of two Lambeth Conferences to engage in study and discussion of these matters. Actions related to the election and consecration of two openly gay bishops have been taken at the local level of the Episcopal Church, with prayer and seriousness.
  • The continuing Episcopal Dioceses of San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Quincy and Fort Worth are growing in mission and ministry.
  • Those who have remained in the Episcopal Church in those places where some have left include conservatives as well as liberals, persons on the political right as well as on the political left, and everything in between.
  • It is inaccurate and misleading to suggest that those who have broken away from the Episcopal Church are the persecuted faithful, when in reality those who have remained have felt deeply hurt, and now in some cases are exiled from their own church buildings by the Anglican Church of North America.
  • Episcopal Church property was given by those who came before for the benefit of those yet to come. When members of a congregation choose to leave the Episcopal Church, the courts have repeatedly decided that those departing members may not take the church building with them.
 In reference to an opinion piece titled “Twenty-first Century Excommunication” and posted to wsj.com on October 7, 2011, please note the following:The author’s information and assertions are dated. The author’s...

 

Concerning the Diocese of South Carolina:

  • In the matter concerning the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, information is being reviewed by the Title IV Disciplinary Board.  Bishop Dorsey Henderson is President of the Title IV Disciplinary Board.
  • Information was presented from communicants within the Diocese of South Carolina. 
  • The information was not brought forward by the Presiding Bishop’s office, or by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.  Therefore, the matter is not being handled by the Presiding Bishop’s office or anyone in the employ of the Episcopal Church Center. 
  • All information has been presented to the Disciplinary Board under the Episcopal Church Title IV disciplinary canons (laws of the church). 
  • In situations as this, the “church attorney” is an attorney who is retained by the Disciplinary Board to investigate cases brought to the Disciplinary Board. The “church attorney” is not the chancellor to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. 
  • As a matter of law and a matter of respect to those involved, the Disciplinary Board operates confidentially and will continue to do so. As such, it would not be appropriate to discuss the details of the case in public. 
  • Bishop Henderson has been in conversation with Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina. 
  • The Disciplinary Board is comprised of Episcopal Church bishops, clergy and laity.
 Concerning the Diocese of South Carolina:In the matter concerning the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, information is being reviewed by the Title IV Disciplinary Board.  Bishop Dorsey Henderson is President of the Title IV...