Pittsburgh, http://archive.episcopalchurch.org/3577_26104_ENG_HTM.htm , and start to feel like I would be remiss not to point out the premeditated nature of the strategy of "ersatz" peace preceding the eventual blitzkrieg by breakaway leadership, not only to leave the Episcopal church, but also to harm (and some would even say to "mortally wound") her. Especially scroll down and read the section entitled "Hard Ball Tactics" by Dan Englund, and then read the text that follows, which is the actual memo itself. And then look how things are actually playing out in South Carolina and other breakaways. Shay Gaillard, a priest in the SC breakaway diocese, responded on a facebook version of this post that the Chapman memo is old news, and is not the blueprint of what has happened in South Carolina. The only differences I see in SC and the strategy laid out in the memo is that (1) SC went independent and (2) is seeking support from GAFCON instead of the Southern Cone and (3) SC gained insight from San Joaquin and Pittsburgh and elsewhere and became more proactive and aggressive, both seizing property and inciting institutional response from TEC. Read and compare. The "clustering" strategy noted in the Chapman memo was perfected in SC. This time the whole diocese, with the exception of a few congregations, left TEC and immediately filed a lawsuit to claim the name of the "Protestant Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina". There you have the "replacement" strategy from the Chapman memo refined and executed. Also, the language in the Chapman memo about generating significant public attention both within the US and among their worldwide partners has much similarity to PR strategy in South Carolina.
Maybe I wouldn't be so bothered by this if the spin coming from the breakaway diocese and most of their GAFCON and other Alphabet Soup supporters were not so inaccurate and designed to besmirch the character, theology and pastoral commitment to ministry in the name of Jesus Christ of us who remain in TEC.
In talking with my former colleagues, they truly feel justified in doing this, because they claim that Mark Lawrence and other bishops were being deposed "for being orthodox and biblical". Listen to Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali (Visiting Bishop for Anglican Communion Relations in the Diocese of South Carolina), “I think it is absolutely scandalous that people like +Mark Lawrence—who is one of the finest bishops that I have ever known and who upholds Catholic truth and Christian teaching and the Gospel in everything that he does—should be deposed for doing so [being Catholic, Christian and Gospel-oriented], and not for any other reason."--in an interview by Mary Ann Mueller, Special Correspondent to Virtue Online. (Thanks Lionel Deimel, via scepiscopalians.com) From the same interview, Nazir-Ali is also quoted thusly: "I mean, this is a topsy-turvy world that we are looking at where people are being deposed for being Biblical, for being creedal, for being Catholic by others who, if you read what they write or say, clearly seem to be heretical in their exegesis of the Bible, their doctrine of the Church, and in what they believe about the Person and work of Jesus Christ and so on."
Nothing could be further from the truth. Look at the Chapman memo, and then look at the way things have played out, even before Bp. Jefferts-Schori was elected Presiding Bishop. This has all the appearance of having been a systematic plan.
Bishop Lawrence, I now believe, was not being "attacked" for being orthodox. He was brought up on charges of abandonment (by priests and lay people from within his own diocese) for not fighting to keep St. Andrew's in Mt. Pleasant in the diocese (again, see the strategy laid out in the chapman memo) and for issuing quit claim deeds to all the congregations in the diocese. The reason given to us clergy was because the Episcopal Church was planning to invade and "confiscate" our property. Why would they do that? Only if we showed signs of leaving with the property. A look at Pittsburgh and San Joaquin in terms of the "Biblically Orthodox" breakaway strategy gave pause to an institution that is trying to stay together. And a quit-claim deed had already been given to another SC congregation 3 years before the rest were handed out en masse. If someone began to lay the groundwork for taking title to your house, would you not start looking for ways to protect yourself? It's an honest question. Wouldn't you?
My former colleagues are being deposed, let me squarely say, not for being biblical, or orthodox or for being committed to the Gospel. They are being deposed for one reason: they followed Mark Lawrence out of the Episcopal Church. You don't get to leave the Episcopal Church and continue to call yourself an Episcopal priest. Any other reaction than deposition after such action would be insane, if not anarchical. And Bp. von Rosenberg has not enjoyed this task. As he noted recently at a clergy meeting, "I know personally the fathers of some of these clergy. And this is not pleasant."
Also, I have been on a quest, like Abraham, for "50 righteous men" in TEC, the so-called Sodom of anglicanism in the United States. What I have found is a plethora of good and faithful men and women clergy who are devoted to creedal and biblical Gospel and theological room to breathe in the Episcopal Church. If God would not have destroyed Sodom for 10 righteous men (I always thought Abaham should have taken the number down to one or even zero), I can't understand why some of my former (their word, not mine) colleagues would want to destroy the Episcopal Church which has so many "righteous" men and women. And by "destroy", I mean withdraw support (which we did financially some years ago) and physical property and persons and personal resources, leaving it sucked dry, and replaced (see the Chapman memo) by a "stronger, more unified, Biblical, Anglican, Creedal communion". This is not the way of Jesus.
As a priest who was constantly being fed disparaging information about TEC by leaders in our diocese (never positive news about our communion), and as one who, out of home-team loyalty always just "bought it", I wonder how the rank and file in the majority of the South Carolina congregations could ever see the truth with any clarity.
So I struggle. Do I go ahead and write "Connecting the Dots", holding out evidence that the truth is yet to be heard? Although I offered a link to my blog to Titusonenine some months ago, the elves have yet to link me, unless I'm missing it somehwere on their blog. Maybe they have simply forgotten. Or maybe this is one voice they don't want you to hear: someone from the "inside". If they will get in touch with me or link me, I will gladly retract my insinuation and placard it for all to see. So how are people "from within" to get another perspective? I do not like this dirty business. I would rather stay positive. But doggone it, SOMEBODY has to do it. We are talking about the Bride of Christ here. Perhaps with a little mud on her crinolens, but a lady, nonetheless. Or should I just move on? You tell me.