Thursday, September 4, 2008

Can a Bishop shun a parish? (Canon Law question)

According to Title III, Canon 12 of The Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church,

Each Bishop Diocesan shall visit the Congregations within the Diocese at least once in three years.

The Canon spells out that the visit is to include a celebration of Communion, Baptisms and/or Confirmations, and a Sermon.

Our last Canonical Episcopal Visitation was October 30, 2005. We are not included on the visitation calendar this year.

"Shunning" of out-of-favor clergy and congregations has a history in this diocese. Title III, Canon 12 spells out a process by which the bishop or the neglected priest and vestry can appeal to the Presiding Bishop, who then appoints a council of five (5???) neighboring diocesan bishops to work some kind of reconciliation voodoo ("reconciliation" in The Episcopal Church means submission to some penalty or other in many cases - or a lawsuit).

So, the choices seem to be no Confirmations at Good Shepherd, or appeal to a Presiding Bishop who uses lawsuits as her primary form of "reconciliation."


Anonymous said...

Of what spiritual benefit would a visit from an apostate 'bishop' be?

Woudn't their ministrations be toxic and exorcism likely needed afterward?

Just asking.

TLF+ said...

floridian - perfectly fair question.

1) If you go to III.12 and read some of the parts I didn't post, it is clear that the Bp. can ask another Bp. to come provide the visitation... no reason he couldn't arrange for Bp. Smith of ND to come down and visit us.

2) The 39 Articles embrace the ancient teaching that the defects of a minister cannot prevent God's grace from reaching the faithful when the services of the church are observed. In other words, the people, faithfully trained and presenting themselves faithfully, receive the spiritual grace of Confirmation, no matter what the state of the Bp. presiding.

3) The main point here is that under the Canons it is the Bishop's responsibility to provide the visitation and Confirmation for the congregation. Shunning is not an option.

We have people who have studied and grown and are ready to make an affirmation of Baptismal faith. They should not - no, CANNOT be denied that by fiat, according to the unique, sacred and glorious Constitution and Canons.

Anonymous said...

Hmm - I might suggest a new bishop...

I know a few good ones in Nigeria and Uganda...

They love their congregations, visit them, confirm them and affirm them in their Faith.

Perhaps TEC should take a few pointers.

Anonymous said...


The advantage of a visit from the bishop is that he can confirm our children and ordain our deacons. The sacraments are from God; the bishop, regardless of his beliefs, is the minister recognized by our church who can administer the sacraments. Thankfully, the grace of the sacraments is not from humans, nor tainted by us.

Since he is our bishop, he occupies a seat we understand to have been given to him by God, and we will honor God's minister even if the minister himself does not share our view of the importance of that ministry.


One of the Good Shepherd's Bad (But Forgiven) Sheep

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the Lord is delaying bless you all with a faithful Bishop Hare.

I will be praying.

Anonymous said...

Can we loan you a bishop?

Steve L. from north of the line

Anonymous said...

What would happen if you took your parishioners across town to the cathedral for confirmation? Would he do them?

Kate Phelps

Anonymous said...

Steve L., That sounds pretty good!

Kate, Good question! I've wondered what would happen if all of us signed a letter asking him to come. If the letter isn't answered within two weeks, we could nail a copy to the cathedral door in case they missed it the first time. I've always wanted to nail something important to a cathedral door.


TLF+ said...

Steve, Kate and Laocoon... all viable options! Although the Cathedral here is - and I mean this - a spiritually sick place. In the last two years, all of the interim Deans and at least one key lay leader have died or become incapacitated by illness. They have an LGBT "church" meeting there and their Native American service, which used to be a Communion service with some musical and cultural symbols, seems to be increasingly a return to pre-Christian stuff.

Don't know that I would take my folks in there... but maybe to a confirmation at another parish.

Steve, I know what you mean... too early to bring down a realigned Canadian Bp. or any realigned or border crossing Bp. at this time. "Let all be done in good order." We have much to discuss here.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending upon your viewpoint), it may not be shunning - but just sheer laziness on Creightons part.

I would suggest GS give him until say All Souls Day to make a commitment, and then look elsewhere for someone to offer a pastoral response to your parish.

Although no longer an Episcopalian, I am sympathetic to the neglect and often outright persecution of Christians within The Episcopal Church. So, I am offering to pay 1/2 of the air fare to fly a GAFCON bishop to Sioux Falls from anywhere in the United States to help provide your confirmands a pastoral response.

Another option, would be for the Vestry of GS to withold the expenses of flying a GAFCON bishop in from their diocesean pledge. It really would only be right, since the bishop would by this time be in violation of Canon Law.

TLF+ said...

scott - man, what happened to all the Indbaba?

Anonymous said...

Face it, Tim+, you have no bishop. He will do just as HE sees fit to do (and his vision is not all that great, BTW). His concept of the office of the bishopric seems to be all about ME,ME,ME, and only what ever 'floats his boat', at the time.

He did make it to Hot Springs, finally, but I missed it, I think I was visiting that weekend, at any rate, he would NOT have been blessed to see me there, even though we do visit back now occasionally.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Prayers ascending!

All at Good Shepherd would be blessed by a visit from David Guernsey, or David Anderson, or Martin Minns, etc. You might also consider asking a bishop of the Continuum.

TLF+ said...

anonymous in Hot Springs - you should attend the pre Convention meeting in Rapid City next weekend and check out the resolutions. More troublemaking on our part.