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The outcome of a January conciliation meeting concerning complaints involving the Episcopal Dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy has been announced, following the written agreement of all parties and acceptance by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
“As a result of the process of Conciliation under Canon IV.10 of The Episcopal Church, the…Complainants and Respondents agree to this Accord on terms which promote healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation,” begins the Accord, which was signed by all parties in March 2013.
Even though there is agreement, the proceedings of the meeting, held according to Canon IV.10 on January 8 and 9 in Richmond, VA, as well as any documentation, presented remain confidential.
The meeting concerned complaints from the Diocese of Quincy Standing Committee against Bishops Peter Beckwith (Springfield), Bruce MacPherson (Western Louisiana) and Edward Salmon (South Carolina), and from the Diocese of Fort Worth Standing Committee and an individual complainant against Bishops Maurice Benitez (Dallas), John Howe (Central Florida), Paul Lambert (Dallas), William Love (Albany), Daniel Martins (Springfield), Edward Salmon (South Carolina), and James Stanton (Dallas).
John G. Douglass was Conciliator for the meeting.
According to Canon IV.10, conciliation is not a trial but a form of mediation.
Participants were one person from each of the Standing Committees of the Dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy; the individual complainant; four representatives of the respondent bishops; three bishops appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori; advisors to the complainants and respondents; and legal advisors.
Appointed by the Presiding Bishop to represent the House of Bishops were Bishops Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real, Edward Little of Northern Indiana, and Michael Milliken of Western Kansas. (Canon IV.10.Sec 2).
This is the full text of the Accord.
As a result of the process of Conciliation under Canon IV.10 of The Episcopal Church, the parties listed below as Complainants and Respondents agree to this Accord on terms which promote healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation, as provided below:
1. This Accord arises from Conciliation of complaints which alleged that Respondents, purporting to act in their official capacities as bishops of The Episcopal Church, caused to be filed or endorsed for filing an amicus brief with the Texas Supreme Court (Case No. 11-0265) on April 23, 2012 or an affidavit with the Circuit Court of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, Adams County, Illinois (Case No. 09-MR-31) on October 6, 2011, in which they asserted opinions regarding the polity of the church adverse to the interests and legal positions of The Episcopal Church and the continuing Episcopal Dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy, and in support of breakaway factions in that litigation involving disputes over property and funds of the Church, all outside of Respondents’ respective dioceses.
2. The Intake Officer for the Church, by referring this matter to the Reference Panel, determined that the foregoing allegations, if true, would constitute one or more Offenses under Canon IV.3 or IV.4. Respondents deny that their actions violate the Constitution or Canons of the Episcopal Church or their ordination vows. The Reference Panel referred this matter for Conciliation.
3. Respondents commend the Episcopalians in the Dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin – lay and clergy – for their unflagging efforts to continue to witness God’s mission as The Episcopal Church during recent difficult times as they reorganize their continuing dioceses in that same spirit; and 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 Ft. Worth, and his successor, the Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr.; the Rt Rev. Dorsey McConnell, Bishop Diocesan and successor to the Rt. Rev. Kenneth L. Price, Provisional 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 diocese.
4. Respondents express regret for any harm to the Bishops, clergy and laity of the Dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy resulting from Respondents’ acts.
5. Respondents agree not to file or endorse any further amicus brief or affidavit in litigation outside of their respective dioceses and against the legal position of The Episcopal Church until the General Convention formally addresses this conduct, either by amendment to the Constitution and/or canons or by formal resolution and to act in accordance with the action of the General Convention.
6. Respondents acknowledge that the 2009 Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church is likely a minority opinion.
7. Respondents affirm that the authority of a diocesan Bishop is limited by the Dennis canon (Canon I.7.4).
8. In the spirit of reconciliation, Respondents undertake to help defray the costs of the Conciliation process. Complainants except the Rt. Rev. Maurice M. Benitez from any obligation under this paragraph.
9. This Accord provides full and final resolution of all offenses arising from the alleged acts set forth in paragraph 1 above including but not limited to alleged violations of:
a. Canon IV.3.1(a)[Constitution Art. II.3; Canon III.13; Fort Worth Diocesan Constitution art. 14; Fort Worth Diocesan Canon 17];
b. Canon IV.4.1(e)[Canons I.7.4, II.6; Fort Worth Diocesan Canon 30];
c. Canon IV.4.1(g);
d. Canon IV.4.1(h)(6);
e. Canon IV.4.1(h)(8) [Canon I.17.8]; and
provides complete protection to Respondents against any and all future charges arising from those acts and bars any future proceedings against Respondents arising from those acts as provided by Canon IV.19.13 of The Episcopal Church.
10. The Parties and their agents reaffirm, attach and incorporate herein by reference the Agreement to Mediate executed on or about January 8, 2013, and specifically reaffirm that the provisions regarding the confidentiality of the Conciliation process as described therein remain in effect hereafter, except for the publication of this Accord as required by Canon IV.14.12(b).
11. This Accord takes effect only upon signature by all parties listed below and signature by the Conciliator, and upon written acceptance of the terms of this Accord by the Presiding Bishop as provided in Canon IV.14.
The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe (resigned, Diocese of Central Florida)
The Rt. Rev. Paul E. Lambert (suffragan, Diocese of Dallas)
The Rt. Rev. William H. Love (diocesan, Diocese of Albany)
The Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson (resigned, Diocese of W. Louisiana)
The Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins (diocesan, Diocese of Springfield)
The Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton (diocesan, Diocese of Dallas)
The Rt. Rev. Maurice M. Benitez (resigned, Diocese of Texas)
The Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith (resigned, Diocese of Springfield)
The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon (resigned, Diocese of South Carolina)
Paul Ambos (Member, Christ Church, New Brunswick, New Jersey)
Diocese of Quincy
The Rev. Canon James Clement
The Very Rev. Robert Dedmon
The Rev. Canon John Blossom
Diocese of Fort Worth
The Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl
Martha A. Fagley
The Rev. Susan Slaughter
The Rev. William Stanford
The Rev. David A. Madison
Margaret D. Mieuli
John G. Douglass
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