Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bishop of South Dakota & his apologists continue to violate canon law

Bishop Creighton Robertson has refused to visit or provide Episcopal visitation (including Confirmation for prepared candidates) to at least two South Dakota parishes for three years or more.

The parishes have made both formal and back channel requests to the Bishop or through his staff.

As I posted here, this is a violation of the Bishop's duty under Episcopal Church Canon law.

The state of the diocese under this bishop and his inner circle is on display here and here.


Greg said...

Fr. Tim,
As always, thank you for bringing the truth to light...even when it's unpopular or uncomfortable. I must admit near complete ignorance of "Canon Law", but Bishop Kelshaw ( implies that we could as him. Thoughts?

TLF+ said...

Greg - there is a typo in your last sentence... "implies that we could ???..." Important, as that's the action word!

Let me know... meanwhile will check out your Kelshaw link. Thanks!

Anonymous said...


My guess is that Greg meant, you could "ask" him.

Bravo! Taking the bishop to task for dereliction of duty is a bold thing for a priest to do, even when it's as blatant and undeniable as this case is, where +Robertson has clearly and unmistakably flouted what canon law requires. Not to mention what genuine pastoral concern would lead him to do even if it weren't required. Such a brazen form of attemping manipulation is stooping pretty low.

You really are a flagplanter, Tim! I'm proud of you.

Greg said...

Sorry, I’m a lousy blogger. Usually post too little to late between diapers and homework, or not at all. I think this is an important issue, so I’ll try a little harder here.

To summarize, Bishop Kelshaw states that even though he was retired, came out of retirement to act as a Bishop in Residence, subsequently joined the Anglican church of Uganda along with the parish he is pastoring, requested a transfer of his orders, and was instead given a letter of deposition. At about 3 1/2 minutes into the interview, he then states that TEC “…they could take away, which they’ve done, take a way the freedom to minister within Episcopal congregations. But since I’m now in the House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda, any parish, actually, can ask for me to do ministry for them as a bishop of the Anglican Communion. So it’s ludicrous, really.”

In my limited understanding of what the Bishop is saying, and in light of my near total ignorance of Cannon Law, I used the word “implies”. His statement sounds as though we, meaning Good Shepherd, could ask him, or any other Bishop of the Anglican Communion (of which TEC is still a member), to perform pastoral duties within our parish. And there is precedent elsewhere, although it may not continue without intervention from TEC.

At All Saints’ in the diocese of Alaska, the parish I transferred to Good Shepherd from, we did precisely that. The Rector, Fr. Jim Basinger, did take it to the Vestry and took a vote in the annual parish meeting to request alternate pastoral oversight from an orthodox bishop, passing handily in both places. We sought and retained pastoral oversight from Archbishop Terrance Buckle, of Yukon Territory Canada. And were fortunate that the Bishop of Alaska did not intervene. In the words of Fr. Basinger, we chose to “stay, pray, and not pay”, meaning we stayed a member parish of the Alaska Diocese within TEC, continued to pray for repentance and transformation within the Diocese and TEC, but withheld financial contribution to the Dioceses choosing rather to directly support various missions and social welfare ministries, and pay transportation and visitation expenses for Archbishop Buckle.

Fr. Tim, I know you have stated elsewhere that Good Shepherd property and, quite possibly, a sizeable portion of the parish are not likely to leave TEC under any circumstance. I do not know if what I hear Bishop Kelshaw saying, or if what All Saints’ has done violates Cannon Law (or if that should even be capitalized) or merely the Presiding Bishop’s interpretation of it, but if we can get pastoral care where it is clearly lacking we should do so. I am not proposing blatantly disregarding the authority of the church structure to which we belong, but I do believe there is a higher authority to which we are pledged. In Mathew 23, Jesus makes this clear. This might be worth bringing to the Vestry for consideration, unless I’m way off base. In my opinion, alternative pastoral oversight by an orthodox bishop is preferable to pastoral oversight by a revisionist bishop, or, in our case, no pastoral care at all.

TLF+ said...

Great post, Greg - thank you!

The vestry will take this up. Now that we know that other congregations in SD are being shunned and pastorally neglected, it might be worth a joint effort toward redress of this problem.