Monday, July 03, 2006

The Episcopal Soap Opera described by Terry Mattingly as "As Canterbury Turns..." (I might call it The Old [Establishment] and the Rest of Us) got quite an airing last week. The rector of the local church I attend was asked to serve as a bishop of the Nigerian mission in the US. This was followed by a mangled news article indicating that Truro Church in Fairfax and the Falls Church had advised Virginia Bishop Peter J. Lee "that they plan to leave the diocese..." (they had not and do not, as far as I know). Here is Peter Lee's response to all this.

There were more news stories indicating that several dioceses were seeking "alternative primatial oversight." From his position (which seems to me sort of like the idea that the prime meridian of the world runs through the Royal Observatory, in Greenwich), Bishop Peter ("le centre est moi") Lee argues that "the Center has held".

In opposition to Peter Lee's "far right" or "extreme right" there are "gay and lesbian people and their supporters" (hereinafter, "GALPATS"). In Newark, the diocese decided to "push back" against the Anglican Communion and Peter Lee's "center" by nominating an actively gay priest. In England, clergy pining to belong to the GALPATS coalition are thinking of seceding and joining the colonies, or something like that. And, of course, the self described "liberal bishops" (I appreciate this clarity) issued a statement saying they weren't going to abide by any resolution passed by the General Convention with respect to the Windsor Report.

Whew. Those are just some of the highlights (or lowlights).

On Sunday* we had a meeting with the rector, Martyn Minns, to discuss developments and get his thoughts on things. He has planned to do this at the beginning of every month, but with the aforementioned developments, this got a much better attendance than normal. Now, I'm not going to be giving you a blow-by-blow description of the meeting. And actually, Martyn didn't ask that it be off the record or anything. It's just that it is sort of internal. But I do want to give you a sense of what was communicated and my impressions because they do reflect on the developments described above.

First of all, Martyn reiterated his surprise at the errors in the Washington Times story, which is well laid out here, by Terry Mattingly. In particular, he stressed that there is no plan to leave ECUSA, nor to leave the Diocese of Virginia. Based on what I heard from Martyn, and in talking to members of the vestry, I really believe there has been no decision or plan to leave. Or even a plan to plan to leave.

Truro Church has just gone through Rick Warren’s 40 days of purpose, so "40 days of discernment" seems like a natural follow-up. Not just to determine where our local fellowship stands in relation to the DioVa or ECUSA or the Anglican Communion, but where we should be headed in Fairfax, Virginia and to the ends of the Earth. We are preparing for this as a local body, but it won't be started in the next week. To be honest, the 40 Days of Purpose was pretty demanding and we've got other things going on. We just finished Vacation Bible School last week; Truro was very involved in GenConv2006, which came on the heels of 40 Days, and there are the other demands of life.

On Sunday afternoon, Canon Minns had his extended family in town to baptize his newest grandchild. On Monday, he flew back to England with his wife and youngest daughter to care for his sister who is in hospice dying of cancer. We do not know when he will be back -- and everyone longs for him to spend the time with his family that he needs. Yes, he has left an able staff in place, but as I noted earlier, the two most senior members of the clergy are very involved in planning for the wedding of their kids -- Rev. Brown's son is marrying Rev. Crocker's daughter.

In addition, prior to all this -- prior to GenCon and all, Truro began the process of seeking a new rector, since Martyn had already announced his plans to retire.

I can not stress this enough — there does not seem to be any plan to leave or even to plan to plan to leave.

Moreover, while I am very cynical with respect to Peter Lee, Martyn is not -- he does acknowledge their differences, but he has never (that I have heard) spoken disparagingly of him. It is obvious the love and respect he has for the man and the deep pain Peter Lee's betrayal has caused.

Now then, my own sense is that Truro should not take any action at this time. I believe, since we have stayed this long, we should wait and see what the Anglican communion does with respect to ECUSA. I do not believe Katharine Jefferts Schori, the current Bishop of Nevada and Presiding Bishop Elect is any more of a heretic than Frank Griswold. I've said this before and I think it's still time to hold steady.

But, like I indicated, the 40 Days of Discernment will be a listening process -- I look forward to listening to the different perspectives and discussing this with my fellow parishioners.

*Note -- I began this on Sunday, but didn't finish until the time I published -- I changed the time on this post to reflect this reality.

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