Monday, September 1, 2008

Outing some rumors about Good Shepherd, Sioux Falls and yours truly



Normally, I let this stuff pass. But several sources have passed on several consistent reports of several priests spreading several rumors about me and about my parish:

1. "Tim Fountain is a troublemaker affiliated with some group in Texas."


  • Yes, I'm a troublemaker if questioning or objecting to the direction of the Diocese and trying to share FACTS with others is "trouble making."

  • I have no affiliation with any group in Texas. I am a member (not an officer) of the American Anglican Council, which has a South Dakota Chapter and national offices in Atlanta, GA.

2. "People at Good Shepherd are trying to get other people to leave their Episcopal Parishes."



  • No, we are not. Most of our growth is new folks from the community.

  • The AAC Chapter has sent letters out around the diocese, NOT to solicit parish defections, but to share statistics, quotes and other hard evidence of realities here in the diocese and around TEC. How else are we to raise intelligent discussion at diocesan meetings?

  • We have a couple of families that have come over from other TEC congregations... but this was after their rectors told them to pretty much shut up, sit in the pews and give money. In other words, we've picked up a few "troublemakers." And their former parishes have ignored several requests for letters of transfer.

3. "All of Good Shepherd's people are leaving to go to Calvary Cathedral."



  • This one is a howler. Calvary lost close to 100 in average Sunday attendance (ASA) over five years. Good Shepherd's ASA, in the dog days of August, is over 100 (higher than our ASA for 2007). We continue to grow, even if some people leave. Healthy churches do that.

  • There are always people moving between Calvary and Good Shepherd. Usually, it is because folks get mad about something at one place and storm over to the other. The traffic flows both ways and this is a decades-old fact of life in Sioux Falls.

  • Calvary has gone through something like 4 Deans in three years. They have their own problems.

4. "Tim Fountain is trying to steal Good Shepherd" (the building, that is).



  • This question has been asked and answered so many times that those spreading the rumor are simply lying. The Articles of Incorporation were redrawn in the '70s (during the upheavals over Women's Ordination and Prayer Book change), and make it clear that the physical property belongs to The Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota.

  • As a show of good faith, GS keeps it financial books open to diocesan inspection. There is simply no funny business with money or property - we are totally above board and the diocese knows this.

  • I care about people and their souls, not buildings. All TEC stands to loose are a bunch of good people who want to love and serve the Lord, and a faithful and fruitful priest with a solid 20 year record of church growth and development.

5. "There's gonna be trouble for Good Shepherd..."

  • Well, I'm not the one to answer this, am I? Especially since there has been no communication from the diocese telling us to remedy anything in particular.

Now, let me share some reality with you all:


1. I have tried to be in communication with the diocese over the four years I've been here. I have attempted to make my position clear but respectful. The response of the diocese has been sarcastic public broadsides and now shunning. Letters to the bishop, the Standing Committee and General Convention Deputies receive no reply. And now we have priests running around spreading what appear to be "talking points" which are totally false.


2. I have been clear with diocesan staff that my conscience might require me to step out of TEC, and to that end I have made personal (not congregational) application to a realigned entity as a contingency. This is not a secret. And, btw, the entity ain't "some group in Texas."


3. Why am I blogging this? I have attempted to address these matters discreetly, including direct answers to questions posed by diocesan staff. Yet the rumor campaign continues in the shadows. So, Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them (Ephesians 5:11).


4. I have had several clergy here warn me that the unwritten rule here is "stay out of sight." I appreciate their concern but cannot be invisible when soul-threatening issues are infesting the church. That would be a betrayal of my Baptism, Confirmation and Ordination promises - and of the Lord who died for me while I was still a sinner (Romans 5:8).

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well seems like tolerance is a pretty thin word in TEC.

Why would any Anglican stay in this post-Christian religion called "The Episcopal Church?"

-Shel

Pat Dague said...

Praying!
To be the object of rumor and vilification when "the other side" will not talk to you or allow your voice to be heard is very hard. Cutting off communication between parties is a common tactic. ("The response of the diocese has been sarcastic public broadsides and now shunning.") There is a time when these things must be brought into the light so they can be dealt with, especially by prayer!
-Pat Dague

Anonymous said...

Shel, Many of us are Anglican in both upbringing and theology, and it is in The Episcopal Church that we have come to know Christ or come to love him more fully. I know that sounds odd to many people, but, having worshiped in a half-dozen other churches, I can say it is in TEC that I am able to worship better than anywhere else. Succinctly, I think this is where God wants me. And, if I may be frank without intending offense, I haven't yet found a church that is without error and without division. (And if I did find one, I wouldn't join it lest I ruin it!) At the same time, it does grieve us at Good Shepherd when the "welcome" we receive from other Episcopalians is hostile. We have not had a visit from the Bishop in at least three years, even though we have asked him to come, and he lives across town. Who will ordain our deacons? Who will confirm our children? We hope and pray our bishop's heart will soon turn towards us, and that whichever of our brothers or sisters are maligning us will have a tenderer heart towards us as well.

Anonymous said...

Pat Dague, thanks for your prayers. At Good Shepherd we welcome them! The peace of the Lord be always with you. I am remembering you in my prayers today.

TLF+ said...

The descent of TEC into dishonest or at least evasive, unaccountable behavior is really sad.

One of the things that is finally waking up our laid back congregation is the detailing of TEC's lawsuit mania, which is NOT reported in Episcopal Life or the Diocesan stuff. The secrecy just doesn't pass the smell test for most folks. If it has to be hidden, it can't be right.

Thanks for the supportive comments thus far, and for PRAYER! And Good Shepherd DOES pray for TEC and Diocesan leaders by name... and so do I in my daily prayers.

Anonymous said...

I certainly agree no church is perfect. But when a church starts blatantly violating most of it’s Articles of Religion that have been consider orthodox by The Church everywhere throughout time, that’s a serious issue. Right worship ceases when it’s very core is undermined by false teaching. All the more reason for an Anglican parish in Sioux Falls (or more) that are aligned with the larger Anglican communion and are not against the historic teachings of the church, including the TEC until the last few decades.

The TEC has basically said it does not care that millions upon millions were invested in it’s structure while it was still orthodox. It has said it does not care that they are ignoring the desire of 70 some million orthodox Anglicans and their church bodies. It has said it does not care what 1 billion+ orthodox Christians hold in common as faithful people.

The liturgical practice and theology of TEC will also continue to change over time. Indeed in some cases Christ has been replaced by universal spirit and Eucharist has been re-interpreted. The worship of TEC will change to match it’s unorthodox theology. What TEC is now is not what it once was.

David Wilson+ said...

Tim

We are keeping the door open should you or Good Shepherd want to affiliate with the Diocese of Pittsburgh

Danny said...

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

You're in good company, Father Tim!

Danny Dolan
All Saints Anglican Church
Peachtree City, GA

Jeffersonian said...

The local imperial TEC outpost seems to be "preparing the battlefield," Tim. The post-Lambeth purge is on. God be with you and yours.

Anonymous said...

Father Fountain - praying for you and your church in a time of spiritual attack and warfare. The timing is perhaps related to the recent 40 days of prayer. Sounds like you are doing just what you are supposed to be doing. May God bless you and do battle for you.

II Cor 10:3-5 (Biblegateway.com)

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

4(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Psalm 37

-Cathy_Lou

Alice C. Linsley said...

I pray for you and your family. May God grant grace in all things and command his angels to attend you in teh day of trouble.

You are right to expose the works of darkness to the light.

My former bishop emailed me 4 years ago in an attempt to blackmail me with some tidbit of scandal. My reaction was likewise to expose it to the light. I forwarded the email to all the clergy of the diocese! : )

Matthew said...

By my count there are 86 churches listed in South Dakota over at the 815 site. Assuming worship attendance of around 2600, that translates to an average of 30 per church. Even taking membership figures, which are almost always dubious, that's 128 members per church.

That's also 43 churches to be visited each year by the bishop. Sounds like your church is a bit overdue for an episcopal visit.

Anonymous said...

Matthew, yes, we at GS think so! We hope the Bishop will soon see it that way as well. But it's hard not to assume that the diocese is unsupportive of our parish's growth when the Bishop doesn't ordain or confirm our people. And our greatest sin? Near as we can tell, it's that we try our best to abide by our prayerbook.

One of the comments above says: "I certainly agree no church is perfect. But when a church starts blatantly violating most of it’s Articles of Religion that have been consider orthodox by The Church everywhere throughout time, that’s a serious issue."

Well, I agree, but I'm not sure your statement fits TEC. You continue:

"Right worship ceases when it’s very core is undermined by false teaching."

Maybe so, but I don't know how to judge that. I only know how to judge my own worship, and I think even there I'm flawed. You continue:

"All the more reason for an Anglican parish in Sioux Falls (or more) that are aligned with the larger Anglican communion and are not against the historic teachings of the church, including the TEC until the last few decades."

I disagree. I do not share your confidence that any human institution can do what you hope an Orthodox Anglican diocese or province or APO can do. Too often reformative efforts only spread fissiparating sickness a little further. The only way to have an orthodox church is to get rid of people like me, i.e. sinners. Give me power and I will abuse it; give me authority and I will use it for my own aggrandizement. I wish it were otherwise, but I know my condition too well. If there be a man who can found a good church or a good communion, he is a better man than I by far. I say so to my eternal shame, and I can only ask for divine mercy as I acknowledge this.

I believe Christ is gracious enough to receive my putrid offerings and powerful enough to speak to me through corrupt clergy, backbiting laity, and feeble human institutions. For which I am grateful.

Let me add that I am grateful for Fr. Tim Fountain, our parish priest. Let it be known that he is a faithful minister whose greatest "sin" is an unwillingness to pretend that he is divine enough to tamper with the historic faith we have received. He is a blessing to our whole parish. God prosper him and his family.

David Handy+ said...

Tim+,

You are the light of the world, the salt of the earth, a city set on a hill that can't be hid. May you and Church of the Good Shepherd continue to let your light shine brightly.

Alas, with clergy "friends" like those apparently spreading false rumors about you, who needs enemies? But you're in good company; Jesus and the apostles had all sorts of false rumors spread about them too.

I'm curious however about that ridiculous howler of an insidious rumor about your parish losing people to the cathedral (of all places!). I'm wondering how Church of the Holy Apostles on the east side of Sioux Falls has escaped being part of the rumor mill. What's happening there, since our mutual friend, Fr. Warren Shoberg, retired? I guess it's not perceived as a threat, in the way Good Shepherd is.

Anyway, keep walking in the light, as someone who has nothing to hide.
Blessings on you and Melissa.

Jill C. said...

Fr. Timothy, be encouraged. God is at work. We've gone through some similar things at our Good Shepherd. People spoke falsely about the rector, complained to the bishop about him, accused the parish of becoming too much like a Baptist church (!), and on and on. The rector was simply correcting the path the parish was on, taking it off the country club route and putting us back on the evangelical, catholic way. We've shrunk in numbers but grown in faith. Hang in there!

TLF+ said...

Thanks for all the great comments. Am up praying early this a.m. and will send up prayer for each of you.

God is very present right now. My prayer life if almost too rich, if that makes any sense... almost more of God's light than I can take!

Later today (Tues. 9/2), some of my intercessors are meeting at Good Shepherd to pray over the parish list, lifting up every member to God and asking for God's guidance as to how He wants us to go forward. All supporting prayer is appreciated.

And pray God's blessing on our efforts here to "out" TEC's truly evil lawsuit frenzy.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Lord, guide the faithful at Good Shepherd in your will and may your will be done in their lives and in that parish. Thank you for thier witness. Thank you for your faithfulness to them. Amen.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr. Tim:

One way you can look at it is that you must be doing something right - otherwise Satan wouldn't bother harassing you. It's a backhanded compliment.


I have had several clergy here warn me that the unwritten rule here is "stay out of sight."

Yes, this was one of the pieces of 'advice' we were given as well and personally I always thought it duplicitous. I think 'hiding' what and who you believe in order to 'get along' is out of line with the Gospel - and I don't remember Christ giving us that example to follow. Seems He didn't care who he offended because He spoke in Truth and Grace. We need to do the same.



You will be in our prayers and know we stand with you.

Kathrine from MT Anglican

Scott Loftesness (Former Episcopalian - not stolen by Church of the Good Shepherd) said...

Tim,

I guess that desperate times call for desperate measures. Bearing false witness is just one more item from that “book” The Episcopal Organization no longer recognizes.

Unfortunately, the revisionists in charge are so committed to the agenda that they are unable (and unwilling) to look at the failures of the agenda. They are right. Everyone else is wrong. Now, they must find someone to blame. And, I have a feeling that things are going to get much worse- before they get better. I drove up Main Avenue last week on my way home from First Lutheran and counted exactly 8 cars in the parking lot at Calvary on a Sunday morning, at the tail-end of what would be the 8 AM service. Incredible.

As Sioux Falls grows, Calvary needs to face the fact that a downtown church needs to draw people past other churches in order to grow. The multi-culti religion of The Episcopal Organization of today just isn’t going to get the job done. My sister (a committed revisionist) is serving on the search committee for a new dean. No question in my mind, that they will hire a revisionist…(and probably a revisionist woman) as the next dean. That will fix everything down there…just wait and see.

I was visiting friends last night and they handed me the latest diocesan church newspaper. I quickly thumbed through it and found not one word from the bishop about the Lambeth gathering. I believe that this is his second junket to the famed (now maybe infamous, or notorious, or ignominious) meeting in England. It is curious to me, that despite the sacrifices by individuals and very small congregations in this state to pay their pledges and assessments to the diocese over the past ten years, the bishop felt no compulsion to acknowledge this by writing a short letter sharing his experience for all to read. Nothing. Nadda. Zip. Zero. Guess what folks? The expense was a complete waste of money, and the mitred-one appears as an ingrate.

Tim – keep your eye on the ball….your congregation. Get down to the individual level with each person in it. Focus; be yourself; speak God’s words; keep your sense of humor about you. Those who bear false witness against you and your motivations will receive justice in due course.

Anonymous said...

I just now looked at your profile and you appeared to be either a 'robin red breast' or a 'cardinal' (I don't know much about birds, eh?)
but keep up the good work, Fr. Tim.
I remember you fondly.

Jim Morgan
friend of Shirley Shinn since I was a tad.

TLF+ said...

Thanks, Kathrine - just knowing you folks are there means a great deal and I pray for your ministry under the Big Sky.

Scott - the lack of communication in this diocese is mind boggling, as you know much better than I. Lack of info, hidden info, misrepresentation, rumor... it is like a textbook on how to make an organization toxic. God bless you and guide you to good pasture.

Jim!!!!! Great to hear from you across the years and miles. I was just chatting with Shirley yesterday... I thank God for all His faithful - God's people are the joys that outweigh the aches and pains of ordained ministry. So many of you have been blessings over the years. Hope you are well and that Christ's light is shining on you today.

Georgia said...

Fr. Timothy, You and your family are in my heart, thought and prayers at this time.
Psalm 74 is so appropriate for the Church and the Anglican Communion at this time:

Remember Your congregation, which You have purchased of old,
Which You have redeemed to be the tribe of Your inheritance;
And this Mount Zion, where You have dwelt.
3Turn Your footsteps toward the perpetual ruins;
The enemy has damaged everything within the sanctuary.
4Your adversaries have roared in the midst of Your meeting place;
They have set up their own standards for signs.
.............
They have defiled the dwelling place of Your name.
.............
There is no longer any prophet,
Nor is there any among us who knows how long.
10How long, O God, will the adversary revile,
And the enemy spurn Your name forever?
...........
Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand?
..........
Remember this, O LORD, that the enemy has reviled,
And a foolish people has spurned Your name.
19Do not deliver the soul of Your turtledove to the wild beast;
Do not forget the life of Your afflicted forever.
20Consider the covenant;
For the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
21Let not the oppressed return dishonored;
Let the afflicted and needy praise Your name.
22Arise, O God, and plead Your own cause;
Remember how the foolish man reproaches You all day long.
23Do not forget the voice of Your adversaries,
The uproar of those who rise against You which ascends continually.
Amen

TLF+ said...

Thanks, Georgia - I have prayed 77:3 quite a bit over the last few years!