"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rumors of my ecclesiastical demise are greatly exaggerated. (moved)

Its been one of those days. You know, the kind mamma told you there'd be. The dog needs surgery, my dear friend's grandmother is dying, my kids have bats in their belfries (rather like unto a Bill Cosby routine, these boys) and The Episcopal Church sent me a letter. Its always amusing (at best) when TEC writes. Today they write to inform me that, along with about 100 of my closest friends and colleagues, I have renounced my orders.

Except I didn't renounce anything.

Then again, neither did Bishop Keith Ackerman, Bishop Henry Scriven, and a bunch of other good hearted bishops I know of. I guess if its good enough for Henry....

Nonetheless, having renounced nothing, I get a nice little letter from Kenneth L. Price, Jr. a TEC bishop whom I've never met nor communicated with in any way, informing me that "in my capacity as Bishop and Ecclesiastical authority of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in the Episcopal Church, I am writing to inform you that in accordance with the pertinent canon (Canon III.9.8 in the case of priests and Canon III.7.8 in the case of deacons), I accept your renunciation of licensed ministry in the Episcopal Church." Except for two things... the canons cited aren't pertinent and I've renounced nothing. (The full text of the letter may be found here.)

Perhaps he and I can have a very friendly relationship... I can give him nothing and he accepts exactly what he wants. He can accept a very lavish Christmas gift from me in this way. He can also accept large cash donations, which will no doubt look nice on his annual reports. He can accept my compliments and affections and rare and precious gifts. And I don't have to do a thing. Hey, perhaps he can accept annual assessments from the dozens of contested parishes in this same way, and all the lawsuits can be dropped.

Likewise my so-called renunciation is said to be "for causes which do not affect your moral character." In fact, non-recognition of the TEC bishop has everything to do with my moral character. I may have renounced nothing, but most of TEC has renounced Jesus Christ, without having the actual courage to do so clearly. While I have some very good friends whose ministry in TEC does not affect their moral character, my exit certainly has all the affect in the world on my character. Thanks be to God!


So, my reply is this:

Dear TEC,
I renounce nothing. Do your own dirty work. If you don't like that I've followed Jesus into another part of the same communion, find some canons to charge me with, stand up and do it like a man. Just because you can't think what charges to trump up, doesn't mean you get an easy out. Do you think no one is going to notice over a hundred vanished clergy?

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