Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Holidays from sunny Florida

Warm season's greetings from sunny Florida! I snapped the photo of this gator at the run at Blue Spring State Park.

It's been gator weather - warm and sunny, after just a couple of cool days right before Christmas. Highs in the 80s today. It's supposed to turn chilly right after New Year.

This baby is enjoying the sunshine while he can get it. He says, stop on by, chat a while.

A big Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Glad tidings

Another Christmas Day is gone, but I'm trying to enjoy the season of Christmas. It seems like I've done nothing but work. I get very limited paid time off from work, and was here at the office for a good part of Christmas Eve, then went home.

I had Christmas Eve dinner at the home of one of the evangelical/Pentecostal ministers in town, and it was a lovely Italian-style buffet - his family is Italian. Yes, I'm ecumenical -- I get around! Then, I went to the late Christmas Eve service, where I put on a Santa hat to do one of the readings. With my red sweater and long, black skirt, I was Mrs. Santa Claus.

Friends shared Christmas Day dinner with me. I baked a pecan pie to bring, and we played board games after dinner.

Betsy's another year older

Betsy got her annual a couple of weeks ago, and the vet is now calling her a "senior" dog. Betsy was a little miffed at that, but good-naturedly, didn't bite, even when the vet poked around her butt. The vet pronounced Betsy in excellent health, thank goodness.

Waffling and fence-sitting

Yes, in response to someone's question. Our Bishop Howe is straddling the fence so hard I'm sure his privates are sore. This is his latest missive to clergy; it's in the same vein as previous letters. I received it Dec. 17, and copy-clipped it exactly as forwarded to me:

My Dearly Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

Most of this letter was written two weeks ago, but I did not believe it was timely to send it. I think that the Protocol has now been adopted by the Diocesan Board it may be right to do so.

Not a single one of you has asked the question: "Bishop, why are you allowing these rectors who want to 'disaffiliate' the space to pursue their objectives? They are clearly in the process of abandoning the communion of this Church. Why are you not moving against them by inhibition and deposition?"

Here is my answer to the unspoken question: I am deeply sympathetic to any who believe that the current leadership of The Episcopal Church has greatly compromised the "doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them." And I am extremely reluctant to discipline those who, for conscience sake, are finding they MUST "disaffiliate. "

I believe that many of our clergy and lay leaders have attempted to be completely loyal to our received heritage, and have tried to reform a Church that is in many ways errant. And they have finally concluded that such reformation is not going to be successful. They want to "protect" the members of The Episcopal Church entrusted to them from any further spiritual incursions against them.

I am not convinced we have come to a point of no return. But I understand why they may believe we have done so. I believe it is still possible to be a faithful parish, or a faithful diocese, within The Episcopal Church. And I am still eager to hear what the Archbishop of Canterbury has to say about all of this.

Some of our people have expected and hoped that I would attempt to "lead the Diocese out of The Episcopal Church." (They are, frankly, deeply disappointed in me!)

I do not believe that is possible, though I recognize that some of our Bishops are attempting to do precisely that. I do not think they will be successful. They can leave, and they can take any number of clergy and laity with them. They can affiliate with some foreign jurisdiction such as the Southern Cone.

But there will be a remnant who will NOT want to leave, and that remnant will constitute the continuing Diocese of Pittsburgh, San Joaquin, Fort Worth, etc.

I expect that millions of dollars will be spent in lawsuits that will ultimately fail as far as those who wish to leave are concerned. And I cannot be part of that.

Nor can I be part of litigation against those who, for conscience sake, believe they must leave The Episcopal Church. These are faithful brothers and sisters who only want to remain true to what we have always been: orthodox Anglican Catholic Christians.

We have spent two months (four meetings, approximately twelve hours) attempting to craft a Protocol (a page and a half) which is finally in place - to deal with those who wish to "disaffiliate. " This Protocol does not spell out the whole process. It merely brings to the threshold of being able to deal with those congregations. I want to state again my gratitude for the prayers of so many, and my particular gratitude for the members of the Board, the Standing Committee, the Special Task Force, and especially our Chancellors. We could not pay them for the time they have invested on our behalf!

The Protocol does not guarantee success. If the leaders of some congregations offer unreasonable proposals, and we cannot possibly accept them, and if I and the Board offer counter proposals that these leaders cannot accept...there is no guarantee whatsoever that somebody may not do something that the other side will find litigious. I believe that nobody wants to go there. But we may not be able to avoid it.

The Church of the New Covenant attempted to transfer title to a separate non-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation, and forced our hand four years ago. We had to file suit, and we did so. Something like that could occur again. I pray it does not.

On one level, I think the honorable thing those who wish to "disaffiliate" would be to simply walk away.

That is what happened at St. John's, Melbourne, and Shepherd of the Hills, Lecanto. And it appears that is what is about to happen at St. Edward's, Mount Dora.

But, on another level, I believe that there is a validity to the argument of some who wish to 'disaffiliate" that it is they who have been faithful, while the national leadership of The Episcopal Church has increasingly abandoned the very heritage we have all sworn to protect.

So, I want to try to work with these brothers and sisters if it is at all possible. (It may not be.) We have received proposals from three of these congregations so far. In all honesty, I do not think any of the three are realistic. But now that the Protocol is in place, we can begin to discuss these proposals.

Each church's situation is unique, and each will have to be dealt with on its own merits. My life, since October 18, has been totally consumed with all of this, and I can tell you there is not a shred of joy in any of it. (Ernie's, too.)

I will attempt to keep you apprised of where we are as this process unfolds.

My warmest regards in our Lord,

(And yes, you may post off the list so long as you post the whole thing.)

The Right Rev. John W. Howe
Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida

Our diocesan convention is coming up in January. Some of the "reasserters" want to get some bail-out language into our diocesan constitution. The new, pertinent language is in bold. The final paragraph is an addition, also.

As long as we're a constituent member? As determined by whom? Who are they to grant conditional allegiance?


Here's the proposal:


Thirty-Ninth Annual Convention

JANUARY 25 &26, 2008

Title of Resolution: C-1 Amend Diocesan Constitution, Article III

Presenter: The Reverend Eric Turner on behalf of the Diocesan Board

Date: November 15, 2007

RESOLVED: That this 39th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Central Florida

Article III


The Diocese of Central Florida acknowledges its allegiance to be due to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ.; {and recognizing the body known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America otherwise known as the Episcopal Church to be a true branch of said Church, having rightful jurisdiction in this country, hereby declares its adhesion to the same and accedes to its Constitution and Canons.} Furthermore, this Diocese is a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, a Fellowship of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces, and regional Churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding the propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer. So long as The Episcopal Church is the constituent member Province of the Anglican Communion with rightful jurisdiction in this country, the Diocese of Central Florida declares its adhesion to the same and accedes to its Constitution and Canons.

The Diocese of Central Florida acknowledges itself to be called and sent to exercise the ministry of Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit, celebrating and proclaiming the mystery of redemption to the praise of God's glory, the benefit of His Church and the salvation of the world. To this end the Diocese acknowledges its duty to provide for the worship and honor due Almighty God, to provide for the tradition of the Faith and the proclamation of the Gospel, to provide for the welfare of those given to its care, and to labor to demonstrate the truth in love that the Kingdom of Christ be advanced in the world and that the Church be edified into Christ.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Greetings

Betsy, simply the best dog in the whole wide world, wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas.

More news to come.