From Bishop Henderson re: alternative primatial oversight

December 7, 2006

Beloved, what follows is the product of prayer and labor in which I was involved in New York City on November 27, together with the other persons named.  There are two documents:  one is the response to requests for alternative primatial oversight, prepared by the group assembled at the suggestion of the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The second is  a statement released to the communications officers of the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church—more-or-less a description of the meeting, its purpose, the names of the participants (and those who, although invited, did not attend), and a general description of the response.

The response has already been rejected by the Bishop of Ft. Worth and the Bishop of Pittsburgh, two of the requesting bishops.  However, I would commend it to you as being a gracious and more-than-adequate provision designed to meet their needs  As you will see, the response gives those bishops and their dioceses a voice in choosing the alternative primate while maintaining the order and polity of The Episcopal Church; involves the Archbishop of Canterbury; maintains appropriate space and opportunity for conversation involving the requesting bishops/dioceses and the Presiding Bishop; draws attention to care for those congregations who disagree with their bishops—of whatever persuasion and conviction—and gives the requesting bishops a representative on the Advisory Panel.  In all ways I see it as a response to legitimate needs which builds bridges rather than burns them.

I commend it for your own prayer, study, and determination.

I. A Response to “An Appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury”

Some bishops and dioceses of the Episcopal Church have requested that the Archbishop of Canterbury provide what they have variously called “alternative primatial oversight” or an “alternative primatial relationship.” In consultation with the Presiding Bishop, the Archbishop of Canterbury proposed that a number of bishops from the Episcopal Church meet to explore a way forward. A first meeting took place in September, and a second meeting in November developed the following proposal that seeks to address the concerns of those parishes and dioceses which for serious theological reasons feel a need for space, and to encourage them to remain within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

1. Taking seriously the concerns of the petitioning bishops and dioceses, the Presiding Bishop, in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, will appoint a Primatial Vicar in episcopal orders to serve as the Presiding Bishop’s designated pastor in such dioceses. The Primatial Vicar could preside at consecrations of bishops in these dioceses. The Primatial Vicar could also serve the dioceses involved on any other appropriate matters either at the initiative of the Presiding Bishop or at the request of the petitioning dioceses.

2. The Primatial Vicar would be accountable to the Presiding Bishop and would report to an Advisory Panel that would consist of the designee of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Presiding Bishop’s designee, a bishop of The Episcopal Church selected by the petitioning dioceses, and the President of the House of Deputies (or designee).

3. This arrangement for a Primatial Vicar does not affect the administrative or other canonical duties of the Presiding Bishop except to the degree that the Presiding Bishop may wish to delegate, when appropriate, some of those duties to the Primatial Vicar. The Primatial Vicar and the Advisory Panel shall function in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.

4. Individual congregations who dissent from the decisions of their diocesan leadership are reminded of the availability of Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight and its process of appeal.

5. This arrangement is provisional in nature, in effect for three years, beginning January 1, 2007. During that time, the Presiding Bishop is asked to monitor its efficacy and to consult with the House of Bishops and the Executive Council regarding this arrangement and possible future developments.


II. StatementA group of bishops, including the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, gathered at the initiative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, has developed a proposal for the appointment of a Primatial Vicar in response to those bishops and dioceses that have requested what they termed “alternative primatial oversight” or an “alternative primatial relationship.”

Those present at the September meeting, in addition to Bishops Griswold and Jefferts Schori, included Bishops Peter James Lee of Virginia, and Bishop John Lipscomb of Southwest Florida, as co-conveners, and Bishops James Stanton of Dallas, Edward Salmon of South Carolina, Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, Jack Iker of Fort Worth, Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina, Robert O’Neill of Colorado, and Mark Sisk of New York. Bishop Don Wimberly of Texas was invited but did not attend. The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion was also present at the September meeting.

The same bishops and Canon Kearon were invited to the November meeting with the exception of Bishop Griswold who had completed his tenure as Presiding Bishop. Bishop Don Johnson of West Tennessee joined the group in November. Bishops Salmon, Stanton, Iker, Duncan and Wimberly did not attend the November meeting. Bishop Lipscomb, who had been involved in the planning of the meeting, was unexpectedly hospitalized at the time of the November meeting, sent his sincere regrets, and was briefed on the meeting at its conclusion.

The proposal provides for the appointment by the Presiding Bishop, in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury of a Primatial Vicar as the Presiding Bishop’s designated pastor to bishops and dioceses that have requested such oversight. The Primatial Vicar, in episcopal orders, could preside at consecrations of bishops in those dioceses. The Primatial Vicar, accountable to the Presiding Bishop, would report to an advisory panel that would include the designees of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Presiding Bishop, the President of the House of Deputies, and a bishop of the Episcopal Church selected by the dioceses petitioning for pastoral care by the Primatial Vicar.

The response makes clear that the arrangement does not affect the administrative or other canonical duties of the Presiding Bishop except to the degree that the Presiding Bishop may wish to delegate some of those duties to the Primatial Vicar. The response also specifies that the Primatial Vicar and the Advisory Panel shall function in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

The response drafted at the New York November 27th meeting is provisional in nature, beginning January 1, 2007 and continuing for three years. The New York group asked the Presiding Bishop to monitor its efficacy, and to consult with the House of Bishops and the Executive Council regarding the arrangement and possible future developments.

The response has been submitted to the Archbishop of Canterbury and to the bishops of the petitioning dioceses.

Bishop Lee of Virginia, co-convenor of the meetings that drafted the response said: “The group was conscious of the need to respond quickly to the needs of parishes and dioceses which felt themselves to be under pressure and sought a proposal which could be put into place without delay. Accordingly, this is a provisional measure that is entirely within the discretion of the Presiding Bishop and requires no canonical change nor any action by the General Convention. It is intended to provide some space for dioceses and congregations that feel they need it while the Anglican Communion sorts out more lasting measures to deal with differences. Those of us who drafted it hope it will be received and used in good faith.” 
 

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7 Responses to “From Bishop Henderson re: alternative primatial oversight”


  1. Please do not assume that Bishop Iker wants to continue with Mrs Schori’s heretical dance under any circumstance. Revisionists don’t understand the issue. We the faithful Anglicans must align with a scripturally sound primate.

    The Episcopal Sect in the United States has abandoned the faith and if we were to condone heresy, guess what that makes us?

    I’m sure Mrs Schori’s motivational speaking, in lieu of lectionary, is compelling to the extreme-far-left. But scripture, tradition and reason tell us she is not a deacon, nor is she a priest, not is she a bishop. That being said I will not turn his back on the Universal Church.

    Go ahead and fight for your property, I know that is what is important to the 815 types.

    As for me, I’ll choose the ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH.

    RIP ECUSA
    (1783 AD – 1976 AD)

  2. BruceMarshall Says:

    Enough of this nonsense. It should be clear to any reasonable observer that the small group of clergy who are petitioning for “alternative primatial oversight” are engaged in a political ploy that does not deserve to be indulged any longer. The ECUSA has always made room for believers who hold vastly different views on all sorts of theological matters. We now are confronted by a few bishops who are challenging the geographical foundation on which all provinces of the Anglican Communion are based, and which they took an oath to uphold when they were ordained. Nowhere do the canons recognize “alternative” primates.
    These shepherds are leading their sheep down a dead end street and they deserve to to be disciplined for the trouble for which they are responsible. If they were acting in good conscience, they would resign their ECUSA orders and take others whether with Rome or Nigeria.

  3. Glenn Gould Says:

    Looks like y’all went the “extra mile” and they were unwilling to take a step.

  4. Herschel Atkinson Says:

    Just found this blog. Comment: Bishop Henderson knows me well as a canonical literalist to appreciate, “Since the Peeb has no episcopal oversight of anything except the congregations in Europe and, I think, Micronesia, is not to ask for alternate primatial oversight to ask for the nonexistent?” I don’t count presidency or chair of organizations or committees as oversight as the requesters call for.

  5. KENT Says:

    Are we all reading the same draft here?! The following language (willfully?) renders the proposal useless to the dissidents:

    “The Primatial Vicar, accountable to the Presiding Bishop . . . .
    the Primatial Vicar and the Advisory Panel shall function in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.”

    If the Primatial Vicar is ultimately accountable to the Presiding Bishop, that hardly qualifies as ALTERNATIVE oversight. I’m deeply embarrassed for our Church at the bad faith this sophistry demonstrates.

  6. Karen McLeod Says:

    Are they asking for a bishop that is in theological agreement with them? And are we talking about complete agreement? I’m not sure that there are 2 Anglicans in the world who are in complete theological agreement with one another! Or are they asking for a bishop that has no administrative association with ECUSA? Why? Administration is something else entirely. Its non canonical, and while we invest our presiding bishops with these duties, I do believe that theoreically they could be carried out by anyone, who had adequate administrative skills, without need of consecration, ordination, or even specific personal belief. I can understand their theological concern with biblical interpretation of the place of homosexuals, and women within the life of the church; and while I don’t agree with them, I recognize that I could be very wrong. I trust that God will, in his time, bless whichever outlook is right, and redeem whichever is wrong. However, the Dioceses that are not accepting of this proposal seem to want that which is unrelated to the PB’s theological standing, ie. different administrative oversight. Am I confused here?


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