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Re: "sustained pastoral oversight"
Note #2915 from LOUIE CREW to WOMENS CAUCUS:
Dr. Pam Darling asked:
> I'm hoping for a bit of discussion and feedback about the fact that
> the Presiding Bishop has placed "sustained pastoral oversight" on the
> agenda for the March House of Bishops' meeting, and a number of people
> think the bishops will adopt some sort of "flying bishop" proposal
> during that meeting.
> What do you think?
> Do you know what your bishop(s) think about it?
> How many congregations in your diocese might ask for a flying bishop?
> Thanks for any and all comments and information. I fear there is a
> lot of ignorance about this, and our bishops rarely make good
> decisions when ignorant.
Pam, I hope you won't mind my cross-posting my reply to the
bishops-deputies discussion list. The concerns that you raise are
important, as is the proposal put forward by the American Anglican
Council. I believe that a thorough discussion by all could help us
discover some ways forward together.
We need to look carefully for ways of nurturing all who are hurting,
whether they are conservatives in liberal dioceses or liberals in
conservative dioceses. I am appalled by the vindicative and authoritarian
ways that some bishops, on both sides, behave towards those who disagree
When the American Anglican Council first floated the proposal for
"sustained pastoral oversight," I wrote to three conservative friends
associated with it:
I rejoice that the House of Bishops will at last begin looking at some of
its own fierce divisions. I have been depressed by delays in acting on
any of the reconciling initiatives that grew out of The New Commandment
Task Force. Our resolution D023 Structure: Establish Structures for
Reconciliation and Accountability seems largely to have been ignored.
Many lesbigay Episcopalians are part of congregations that "feel removed
from their bishop" or are "in significant theological disagreement with
[their] bishop." So are women priests and those who support them in at
least three ECUSA dioceses. Are you willing to support provisions to
assure that it is not just "conservative" or "traditionalist"
Episcopalians who can take advantage of this provision? Are there ways
that we can collaborate in this initiative?
May I quote your response?
I value the time that we spent together. May God use your ministries to
bring joy to the world.
I sent that letter 10 days ago. So far I have received only one,
I must make this very quick. I will write at length later in the
week. My proposal in XXXXXX was precisely to this end. I first proposed
alternative overseers for [my diocese] in 19XX...no takers. The deal,
however, must include provision for those opposed to the ordination of
women, including repeal (or forgetting about) the '97 action at
Philadelphia, and no force for the likes of me on the lesbigay agenda. Can
there be two quite independent integrities under one roof? For me it is
the only way forward apart from fracture.
My friend indicated that he will write more extensively about the AAC
proposal. I look forward to exploring irenic ways to collaborate.
In his preliminary response, it seems that for my friend the proposal
carries much more baggage than just "sustained pastoral oversight." He
demands ("must include") that the House of Bishops must undo, or forget
about enforcing the action of 1997 General Convention that requires all
dioceses to enable women's ministry.
The House of Bishops has no authority unilaterally to undo an act of
General Convention, but that House has been known to act unilaterally an
extra-legally before on the issue of women in the priesthood. At Port St.
Lucie in (1977) they unilaterally decided to refuse to apply the new 1976
ordination canon equally to women and men if a male bishop objected on
grounds of conscience. That forced women, not the bishop, to pay the
price of the bishop's conscience.
I believe it wrong for either House to subvert the actions of General
I believe it is unwise to change episcopal boundaries, especially in a
time of great disagreement. The ancients taught us that formality and
protocol are most important when negotiations are most tense. Even the
Greek syntax stiffens in ILIAD when one goes to retrieve the body of a
fallen comrade from the camp of the enemy. That's not the time to say,
"Oh, by the way, we want control over that field within your territory."
I hope our bishops will address the real problem of widespread Episcopal
insensitivity towards persons and groups whose positions differ from those
of the ordinary.
I believe that the best, most enduring help will not come with boundary
changes, but with heart changes.
Louie Crew, 377 S. Harrison, 12D, East Orange, NJ 07018 973-395-1068
The Episcopal Church: You don't have to hang up your mind at the door!