Sunday, October 5, 2008

South Dakota Convention Rejects Calls for Financial Accountability, Christian Reconciliation; Declares Presiding Bishop Infallible

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Acts 5:41

It was a strange experience, but our delegation left the Diocese of South Dakota Convention feeling peace and joy about our witness.

We left after both of our resolutions were defeated - although we were pleasantly surprised by the number of folks who voted for them and who listened to what we had to say.

The first resolution called for detailed accounting of the Episcopal Church's lawsuits against Christians. As debate went on, a motion was made to remove any specific dates as to when the information should be requested and provided. That amendment passed on a close vote, 62 - 51.

This left a weakened resolution - but even so one that had sparked the interest of the people. At this point, the Chancellor of the Diocese asked to speak, but not as a parliamentarian. He opined that budget info can be "extrapolated" from national church figures, and that asking the Presiding Bishop for such information would be taken as "disrespect."

Bishop Robertson, the chair, then asked for a point of personal privilege and made two points. 1) He announced that some of the funds that had been cut from Native American ministry had been temporarily restored - "So what Tim says about the National Church taking away funds is false." 2) He said that he'd spoken with Helen Leonard of the Church Pension Group, and that no CPG money had been used for lawsuits. He then implied that I'd made up the well-documented quote from Bp. Stacy Sauls about having CPG funds available for the lawsuits.

It was a classic sandbag. Bp. Robertson had this info, and simply chose not to reveal it when I had written him about the funding issues and and then submitted the resolutions when he didn't respond. In other words, rather than communicate and answer questions when asked, he held info in order to imply that the arguments for the resolutions were based on falsehood. It was manipulative and untrue (the Sauls quote is still on record, and the bishop couldn't rebut other documented facts about budget cuts that impacted SD), but it was effective, especially for those who wanted some excuse to hide the national church budget from the people.

After raising the specter of national church displeasure (e.g. more funding cuts) and branding me a liar, the Bp. called for the vote, and the amended resolution was defeated, 87 - 37 (some voted "no" because of the weakened language). The Bishop then called for a 15 minute break.

The second resolution called for the national church to use negotiation and/or mediation rather than litigation to resolve disputes. There were no comments after I presented it - the bishop opined that the debate on the first resolution had gone on too long - and the resolution was defeated, 79 - 47.

At this point, our delegation decided that a vote against the Biblical model of reconciliation was enough. Some other trivial resolutions - the usual busy work about how many priests, deacons and laity to put on committees and designating a Sunday for this or that special collection - did not need our participation.

So, yeah, we got outmaneuvered, although it took two lawyers (+Robertson is one of those diocese-shrinking "lawyer bishops" of which TEC is so enamored these days) and a gossip campaign to do it.

In the days preceding convention, at least three priests began spreading rumors about me. Mainly, they said that the resolutions were "cut and pasted, word for word, from some Anglican site." I called them on it in my opening remarks. Interestingly, none of the three came to microphones to debate.

A couple of female clergy argued against the first resolution (I'm still processing that dynamic - revisionist women are able to stand up and speak - the male revisionist clergy gossip and hide.) Here were some of their arguments:

"We are a church of hierarchy - we have to trust our leaders and believe that they had no other choice but to sue." (Ah, the "thinking person's church" of democracy and empowerment! We now have an infallible Presiding Bishop.)

"We are tied together as a family of Episcopalians. I don't know what's going on in California or Virginia. It doesn't matter here." (???)

One speaker argued for the
Matthew 18 conflict resolution model (although she said it was from "Paul") - only to conclude that the final step is to sue the other party!

Another argued that I was asking the Convention to look "only at the fourth act of a play", and that the first act was the parishes who wanted to withdraw. It was all their fault and the only reason our budget was cut was because of these Anglican troublemakers. (N0, the bishop didn't speak up here to imply that our budget wasn't really cut).

So, there ya go, sports fans. We failed... but we actually made contact with folks and outed some of the corruption, not only in TEC's lawsuit mania but in Bishop Robertson's uncanonical shunning of parishes. Met other delegates who haven't had an Episcopal visitation in ten years because the bishop is mad at their rector. So, the next step is to see which folks are willing to look soberly and honestly at some of these issues. Those of you who were praying for evil to be exposed did well - more than we expected got pulled into the light of day.

I was so grateful for some prayer warriors and AAC witnesses who came and supported our delegation. Our preconvention reading included Ezekiel 2:4-8

The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says.' And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you. So we had a good day of prophetic witness and obedience to the Lord in an uncomfortable setting.

Another benefit was that some of my lay folks got their first up close & personal look at "Episcopalianism." One of them leaned over and said to me, "Have they mentioned the Lord's name at all today?"

And God got in a couple of good ones - the Morning Prayer service before the business session included Luke 6:29, If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. There's God's vote about suing departing congregations.

And there was a rainbow across the sky as we drove home.

Today we take part in a pro-life witness in Sioux Falls.


Anonymous said...

Fr. Tim, Seeing that rainbow as we drove home yesterday was a sure sign that God was giving you a "thumbs up". Job well done! Although I was only one of the Prayer Warriors "who had your back" I am proud of our appearance at the convention and am ready for 2009! Whooppee!!!!!

The Oblate

Anonymous said...

Thank you for shining a light on this cockroach-like behavior of the "bishop", his chancellor, and their shrinking pool of minions. If I were they (and I thank God that I am not), I would be a little worried about those 51 votes. I am sure that the delegates of GS have given a lot of people a lot to think about. Your work at convention will continue to speak TRUTH inside the hearts of many of these people in the days and weeks to come.

A question to ponder: Does God (or is it some other entity) that accomplishes his work through lies; lies of omission; gossip; legal maneuvering; etc.?

I am guessing the person who rose to speak about church hierarchy was from Vermillion. I have had that spiel from her before. It is her way of closing down any discussion. She would have made an amazing officer in a Reich of a different era. I think it has been well proven of late (and by Virginia courts, etc.) that TEC is quasi-hierarchical at best. It really is only hierarchical when THEY want it to be....when supporting The Agenda. For many of us, the only hierarchy we will follow is through the Son.

On another note - godspeed the newly formed Anglican Diocese of Pittburgh, now affilitated with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone and their soon-to-be bishop +Robert Duncan!

Anonymous said...

What was it Jesus said about shaking the dust of that town from your sandals as you leave? And as someone from GS said not too long ago, mow the grass, wash the windows, and hand the Diocese the keys...Thank you, Jesus for faithful followers like Fr. Tim who are willing to stand for the faith once delivered, who don't duck and run from the incoming firestorm. Bless those who stand together to further the Cause. And bless you, Fr. Tim for also standing (out on the street) for the unborn, no matter what some of your OWN PARSHIONERS say to you.

Unknown said...

I so appreciate your witness and your taking a stand. It is painful to read all this garbage coming in to the light. But it is much better for it to be exposed than to let it fester and corrupt many souls.

May the Lord use your words & witness for His glory and to help many choose to walk in the light, whatever that will mean for them in S. Dakota.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to you and your delegation for faithful obedience.


Kevin said...

Bless you for your faithful witness!


PS - Love your header photo.

Anonymous said...

Presenting not just one, but two controversial, lightning-rod resolutions that you knew the bishop would oppose was very courageous of you, Tim+, and the leaders of Good Shepherd. Bravo! I'm proud of you.

Keep up the good work. Things may temporarily get worse before they get better. But a new orthodox Anglican province is on the way. And the best days to be an orthodox Anglican are yet to come.

The Lord has promised, "Those who honor me, I will honor."

Anonymous said...

Being one of the GS prayer supporters at the Convention I was doing alot ot thinking on the trip back home...some things popped-up in my small mind...wondering if anyone at Convention gave the thought why GS came to the Convention for such a short stay? What was our gain? It's not like we had nothing else to do. Supported by God, Fr. Tim bravely delivered 'wake-up' messages...we can only hope and pray that the 'light', as mentioned by Karen, will shine around them all.

Anonymous said...

You quoted Acts 5:41 above. I don't see it's applicability here. I have great respect for the Good Shepherd delegation for forcing a conversation at convention many did not wish to have, despite their apparent (based on Fr. Fountain's comments in defense of his first resolution) fear they would be received with animosity and judgment. I have and will continue to speak out to those in the diocese who feed such fears rather than attempt to help you set them aside. Discussions in an atmosphere of fear, rational or otherwise, are never worth while.

That said, this post is as far beneath you as certain comments made at convention after your departure were beneath those saying them. "Declares bishop infallible" ... Give me a break! The bishop was a non-issue. You are feeding the fears of your opponents within the church as much as they are feeding yours.

For the record

I voted against the first resolution because I did not see any evidence that anything had been done to gain the desired information other than a letter, tone and contents unknown, to a bishop with whom you appear to have an ongoing feud. I know nothing else - thus my feeling is much as the delegate who stated we feel like we are coming in in the middle of the 4th act. (NOT that he was asking the convention to look only at the fourth act - was this an intentional twist of that delegates words?)

I voted for the second resolution because, frankly, it is a no-brainer.

I attended convention to the end. I would have appreciated it if your delegation had done the same. I was hoping for some discussion later.