The closed-door three-day conference held by the bishops of the Episcopal Church USA in the name of “reconciliation,” seemingly widened the gulf between the liberals and conservatives in the denomination, which broke out last August following the nomination and subsequent consecration of an openly gay man as bishop. At the Plano, Texas conference, the group of liberals conjured up a statement allowing “adequate” Episcopal oversight for parishes that disagree with their local bishop’s acceptance of gay clergy, while conservatives dubbed the statement “inadequate” and walked out before the conference ended.
Ultimately, the conclusion of the meeting was not of reconciliation - as reflected by the statement of the Rev. Canon David H. Roseberry - but of greater apprehension. Rev. Roseberry, in his '‘A Broken Ladder: Episcopal Bishops’ New Oversight Plan is Inadequate, Should Be Ignored’ statement, calls on other members of the conservative parishes to ignore the proposal, and instead join hands in a network that unites conservatives within the ECUSA.
The following is Rev. Rosberry’s statement in its entirety:
The Bishops of the Episcopal Church, in a meeting this week, have revealed a new plan to supposedly provide pastoral oversight for dissenting congregations in dioceses. The plan is inadequate and should be ignored.
The Episcopal Church (ECUSA) voted at last year’s convention to consecrate as bishop a man who is living in a homosexual partnership. In addition, they voted to regard the blessing of same sex unions as within the boundaries of church practice. Both decisions are fatal errors and cannot stand the test of time. God will not bless these actions that so flagrantly disregard the clear teaching of Scripture – teaching so abundantly clear even in a casual reading of the Bible.
The Primates of the Anglican Communion, in their pastoral letters from the emergency meeting in October 2003, called for the provinces to provide “adequate Episcopal oversight” for some orthodox congregations. This idea was a pastoral measure intended to help heal and lead congregations through very difficult times. Bishops whose views were consistent with the Bible could be asked to oversee and direct congregations in other bishops’ diocese as needed and invited.
The House of Bishops, meeting this week for the first time since the 2003 General Convention, has just approved a version of Episcopal oversight that is so inadequate and procedure-laden as to be just plain silly. Please read it for yourself at: http://titusonenine.classicalanglican.net/index.php?p=692
This plan cannot work. It is a lengthy, cumbersome, tedious distraction from the real work of any parish: making disciples and preaching the gospel. For example, by some counts, it could take two to three years to get a bishop to come for confirmations! It is an imposition, literally, of an elaborate and tortuous process intentionally designed to wear “dissident” churches down.
Apparently, the House of Bishops did not solicit comments from, or listen to, a single parish or rector who would want Episcopal oversight. This plan is like a broken ladder -- it only looks useful, but it can’t take you anywhere.
And so it should be ignored. Orthodox parishes should find oversight wherever they can find it, within their dioceses or outside their dioceses. Congregations should link together through the Network (that is, the “Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes” whose charter was adopted at Christ Church in January 2004) and act together as bodies of believers in a faithless age. It is a tough assignment and it is a hard cross to bear, but we should not ignore the call to be “builders and battlers” for the Kingdom of Christ. (Luke 14)
There is some good news, perhaps. It might be that this folly from the House of Bishops will reach the missionary ears of the Primates. This tragically broken ladder may actually convince the Anglican Communion that ECUSA needs a major repair or replacement.
At Christ Church we continue to stand for the orthodox faith that has been handed down to us. Some say that God is doing a new thing. We say that God does not do new things, but instead makes all things new. We trust that one day He will do this for the Anglican witness in North America. Christ Church will continue to preach and teach the message of the redeeming love of Jesus Christ for all people and the reconciling work of the Cross.
Sadly but firmly, we have nothing to do with ECUSA. We send no money to the national church. We receive no direction from the national church. For the time being, we labor alongside our bishop to build the Network in order to maintain our relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion. And we stand.