Friday, May 05, 2006

Letter from the Bishop of Montana

While I'm on the topic of church politics, I'll add this, with thanks to the local Episcopal Voices group. The letter was originally posted on the Diocese of Montana Web site.

A Letter from Bishop Brookhart (Montana) to the Senior Wardens and Priests of the Diocese:

By now, most of the Senior Wardens of the diocese have received a letter from the Anglican Communion Network. It is an invitation to order a DVD from the ACN.

Allow me a few comments, please. The ACN is the child of the American Anglican Congress [sic] (AAC), a group formed ten or fifteen years ago as a needed counterbalance to the apparent hegemony of the "liberal" wing of our Church. But after several years, it moved well beyond that stance.

Today, the AAC and the ACN are actively calling for division and schism in the church. They believe that the church has gone wrong in regard to sexual ethics, so that they need to separate from the Episcopal Church. This stands in clear contradiction to the teaching of the New Testament, where unity is a cardinal virtue for Christians, even in the face of doctrinal and ethical disagreements. Also, the ordained people who joined this chorus of division are in clear contradiction of their ordination vows.

The tone of these organizations has become increasingly angry and judgmental. Again, this is in clear contradiction to the teaching of the New Testament. Anger and judgment are never considered gifts of the Spirit.

Further, these groups have spread misinformation. In the letter you received, you were told that there is good reason to believe that the General Convention will not deal adequately with the Windsor Report. In fact, there is good reason to think just the opposite, based on the Resolutions that the Convention will be asked to pass. Also, the person signing the letter is not a priest of this Church and never has been.

You probably sense that the letter is an attempted end-run around the bishop and clergy of the diocese. The DVD was, in fact, informally shown at the last House of Bishops meeting, and it is a call to schism.

I would recommend that you ignore the letter. But if you do choose to view the DVD, I ask that you do so with an analytical mind, and do not buy its assumptions at face value. Also, I recommend if you or your congregation are a part of these organizations that you give careful consideration to revoking your membership in these groups.

They are not advancing the cause of the Gospel.

Yours in Christ,

+C. Franklin Brookhart

Thank you, Bishop Brookhart.

AAC President David Anderson wrote a reply, posted on the AAC Web site. He whined that Brookhart didn't get the name right -- it's "Council," not "Congress."

Well, who can keep up with all their name changes.

Anderson rather disingenuously said the AAC didn't have anything to do with the manufacture or mailing of the DVDs (and he don't know no nothin' 'bout birthing no schismatic messages).

However, the AAC and ACN are the real defenders of the faith and truth, he told you.

Then he went on to tell a fat one.

"All of us as Episcopalians have already been excommunicated from the largest portion of the Global Communion, and probably no one told you," Anderson said, implying TEC is hiding information from the faithful. He added, "I can tell you that the dire state of affairs in the Episcopal Church is known throughout most of the communion, but is often kept from the people in the pews by bishops and other information gatekeepers for fear of the response."

Nobody's been "excommunicated." (And doesn't Anderson toss around emotionally charged words.) That would be up to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He's the only one who could declare us out of communion, and he has not done so, and doesn't plan to do so.

There are some primates, like Nigeria's Peter Akinola, who won't come to the table with other members of the Communion, but that's a failure of his faith, and a product of his hate and prejudice.

It's hard to pray for them, but I pray for all these bishops and clergy, while I speak out about how they mislead, in all senses of the word, their flocks.

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