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Thursday, June 25, 2009

"May you live in interesting times"


I'm not sure I'm going to know where I am when I get to General Convention in Anaheim.

First of all, the "Men in Black" - the four always grim-looking clerical deputies from the Diocese of Fort Worth - will not be at their station. They were, for me and for many, the 'outward and visible sign' of the line for 'biblical orthodoxy' in sands of The Episcopal Church.

I won't miss their mostly humorless presence or their mean spirit, but it may take me a few minutes to orient myself to the place.

Added to that is this: I just read in a letter from Bishop Mark Lawrence to his diocese that the ubiquitous and peripatetic Kendal Harmon, Canon Theologian for the Diocese of South Carolina, will not be at General Convention.

I'm still trying to get my head wrapped around that reality.

You can find the whole thing here, but this is the "announcement"
Later this summer, just two weeks from today, I will gather with the deputies of the Diocese of South Carolina, and other brothers and sisters in Christ at the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. We will meet from July 8—17th in Anaheim, California. Our beloved retired bishop, Ed Salmon, and I will be representing us in the House of Bishops.

Those representing us in the House of Deputies are: In the clergy order, John Burwell, Steve Wood, Haden McCormick, and David Thurlow: and in the lay order, Wade Logan, Lydia Evans, Boo Pennewill, Reid Boylston, and Lonnie Hamilton (Alternate).

Seasoned observers of General Convention and delegates to our own Diocesan Convention may immediately notice that long time General Convention strategist, Kendall Harmon, while elected to the deputation, is not slated to attend this year’s event.

This will not go unnoticed in many quarters of the House of Deputies and it should not go unexplained to our own diocese.

Well, that's the understatement of the season!

Here's the Bishop's explanation:

In numerous conversations, Kendall and I have felt that the strategizing and networking to pass or defeat resolutions, for most of us in the conservative or reasserting cause, is no longer anything for which we have passion or, for that matter, any hope of success—even if we should attempt it.

The cause of biblical orthodoxy within TEC is no longer a realistic thing to strive for through the councils of TEC. Politically speaking, we have lost the day. Those of us who are going from South Carolina go to bear witness—to speak the truth as we have received it, and with love (as St. Paul enjoins us).

But the days of strategizing with others who may align sympathetically with us to win some political victory through resolutions on the floor of the HOD or HOB is, at least for now, a thing of the past. We are too small and insignificant of a “party.” Too many have been, or have felt, driven out of our Church.

Along with these facts, I fear that the ecclesial-political operatives of General Convention seem too determined to ignore the prevalent teaching of Scripture and the Church, as well as the mind of the larger Communion, but we shall see. I do not state this as one who is disheartened by it. It is just a reality that needs to be recognized and admitted—call it “reality therapy” if you will.

It is my conviction that Kendall’s time and energy can be better directed by working in his new role as Anglican Communion Development Coordinator.

Wait, wait, wait. . . did you catch that?

Not-so-carefully hidden in those last two paragraphs is a very interesting emerging strategy. One might also read it as a 'warning' of sorts, the way a dog begins a low growl when you approach him as he's chewing on his bone.

I'm not going to speculate on what this all means.

Right now, I'm feeling a little sad not to hear Kendall Harmon at the microphone, on the floor of Convention or at the Hearings.

When I was Floor Leader for IntegrityUSA, I always kept one eye on Kendall and the other eye on the caucuses of various deputations - progressive and conservative, all the while watching what was going on during legislative sessions.

On many levels and in a variety of ways, it's going to be an interesting General Convention, but we will be poorer for not having Kendall Harmon there.

The term "worthy opponent" has never been more appropriately applied.

Good luck and God Bless, old chap. Do not doubt for one minute that you will be sorely missed by many on both sides of the aisle.

24 comments:

Muthah+ said...

The Spirit blows where it wills...

Caminante said...

I just remember Kendall pacing the floor of the HOD in Denver 2000, with six pack of Diet Coke in hand. Up and down the aisle, back and forth the back... it was a lot of walking and was a bit unnerving.

So what is with the position he is assuming?

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

It took me some effort, but I discovered that the Anglican Communion Development Coordinator is not an employee of the Anglican Communion but of the Diocese of South Carolina. An interesting title and one that might be assumed to be misleading. I wonder how those who criticized the use of The Episcopal Church as a title will react to this one.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oh, Caminante and Fr. Daniel, I think the title was carefully designed to raise exactly that question and send people scurrying to try and find the answer. I think it was specifically designed to be misleading so as to raise doubts about where the Diocese of SC may be heading. To not see this - and Kendall's absence - as a 'warning' is to miss the point.

Lapinbizarre said...

SC case law is quite clear that "when a division occurs in a church, the congregation is answered by who is the representative of the church before it split", which is to say that property will continue to be owned by the pre-split denomination.

Grandmère Mimi said...

A shot across the bow. I wondered about Kendall Harmon's new title, too, but I didn't, for a minute, think that he was appointed to the position by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Perhaps his role is to coordinate with...nevermind.

Jim said...

For Delayed Release:

My friends it is with heavy heart that I announce that in spite of my given word I am forced by those who don't recognize my direct pipeline to heaven to lead the diocese out of TEC to ACNA. I know there are those who will think an oath should mean something but God is directing me.

;;sigh;;

Anyone wanna bet?

FWIW
jimB

Fr Craig said...

'driven out of the church' Can anyone tell me who drove them out? I'm so tired of them blaming us for their departure...

WilliamK said...

'driven out of the church' Can anyone tell me who drove them out? I'm so tired of them blaming us for their departure...

Le'me see if I can explain.... It's like when I was nine years old, and I told all my friends on the playground that we had to play by MY RULES or I would go home! When my friends wouldn't go along with my demand, and I went home to sulk, that was ME being 'driven out of the plaground.' Does that help? ;-)

John said...

"I'm so tired of them blaming us for their departure..."

I am an outsider looking in. I am not Anglican, but this whole issue has captivated me. I think I have an idea why they blame you guys for their departure: They see TEC's acceptance of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle as a sinking ship where eternal damnation is the consequence for staying in the boat.

Jeremy Bonner said...

Fr. Craig and WilliamK,

Isn't this state of affairs precisely the one about which progressives like Jim Stockton - with whom I recently had an extended, if somewhat fruitless, conversation - have been complaining regarding The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion?

The national church complains that the Anglican Covenant is drafted by people who refuse to listen to their story and try to impose coercive mechanisms that will hamper their autonomy to proclaim Christ's Word. The dwindling body of Episcopal conservatives feel similarly towards the leadership of The Episcopal Church and proposed changes to the canons.

I'm not sure why you need to reduce this to the level of a playground squabble. Your side feels passionately about its reading of Scripture; so does mine. The two positions - as currently expressed - are incompatible, but that doesn't eliminate the integrity of both parties or their sense of betrayal by the other side.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hi John. I have no doubt that you are absolutely right.

Robert said...

Why don't you just e-mail kendall and ask for the job description? Or is it more exciting just to make stuff up?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I think I make my affection for Kendall perfectly clear. This was also written a week or so before GC began. Try to keep up, John. Or, is it more exciting just to take post shots?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Jeremy, I don't think any one of us is "reducing" this to a playground squabble. Unfortunately,that is a reflection of some of the reality - the 'word games' (reasserter/revisionist), the snarking
and the name-calling. The "I'm going to pick up my marbles and go to Africa or the Southern Cone rather than being at the table with you. Oh, and I'm going to keep all the property and you're going to have to spend lots of money to try and get it back. You will, I know that, but not without my causing a fuss on the playground and making you spend time and energy on me."

It's insulting all around, isn't it?

Jeremy Bonner said...

Both ways, Elizabeth, both ways. Just as Episcopal affiliation with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is insulting - and more than insulting - to me.

On the property issue I'm agnostic. I think that keeping the legal option afloat may end up doing ACNA more harm than good, but not because I buy the Presiding Bishop's fiduciary responsibility argument.

If your side were sensible they would have stuck to the formula that Frank Griswold (remember him) proposed of letting individual dioceses work out suitable arrangements and would not have tried to impose a blanket ban on disposing of property to former Episcopal congregations. Which is better off, today? The Diocese of Kansas, who got a significant cash infusion for selling Christ Church, Plano, or the Diocese of Virginia?

And there's a certain arrogance in arguing you're entitled to the material assets of St. Stephen's, Sewickley (to give a Pittsburgh example), when most of them have been built up since 1971 under successive rectors whose whole approach and evangelistic style runs completely contrary to everything for which you stand.

An ACNA member of our cathedral chapter (which you may recall serves both dioceses) made an interesting suggestion not so long ago. In the case of congregations that have withdrawn, let's mutually agree to sell the property and devote the proceeds to an agency like World Vision, with which none of us have any quarrel. That way there's no ACNA benefit and TEC can count it as part of their contribution to the MDGs. How about it? Better than spending money to pad the pockets of David Booth Beers (why is it that the Episcopal lawyers aren't working pro bono, anyway?).

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Jeremy, when you want to have a conversation, come on back.

Jeremy Bonner said...

Elizabeth,

Do you mean that you wish people to keep to the subject of the post? But it was yourself who raised the property question in your reply to me.

I then offered a suggestion that I actually think has merit (if the majority is unwilling to contemplate an equitable division of assets). If that's not a part of the ongoing conversation, then you need to define the limits of this post more clearly.

Some of your posters clearly feel that those departing are either frivolous or power-hungry (or both). My discussion with Jim Stockton felt like that. No matter how much I conceded his personal integrity on what he believed (even when I found some of it highly debatable) there was no reciprocity. No different from attitudes at Stand Firm really.

I appreciate you posting my comments, however.

This comment can be "for your eyes only" if you wish. I just wanted you to be clear as to my reasons for posting.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

As my grandmother used to say to me, "You have tone, young lady." "Jeremy, you have tone, sir."

Reproductive Rights had nothing to do with the subject. It was an easy pot shot. The Dominatrix at SFiF would have pulled that comment off in a heart beat and with a very stern warning.

So, I repeat my invitation: If you want to have a conversation, c'mon back. Any time. Just stay on topic and leave your snark over in the asbestos pits of the comment section of SFiF.

Jeremy Bonner said...

Abortion has everything to do with why many have left or will leave in the near future. When the appeals to respect the dignity of every human being are so constantly made in respect of repeal of B033, I find it sobering that no one makes a connection with the sanctity of life in general.

You may be correct in suggesting that I made the reference knowing your particular commitment to "reproductive rights," but it is still material to conservative motivations (about which your posters seem perplexed).

I must confess that I see little evidence that you worry excessively about "tone" in your own posts. And imitation, as you know, is the sincerest form of flattery.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oh, Jeremy, stop. Please. TEC has held the same position on reproductive rights and abortion for the past 30 years. Have you just recently noticed? Or is this just the 'rant of the day' for those who want a "Burger King" church and have things YOUR way, without any room for any other theological position or opinion.

Our church polity is based firmly in democracy - which is how we still live - not a theocracy. If you want that, there are a couple of countries in the Middle East where you can go.

Again - when you want to have a discussion, stop by. Anytime.

John said...

"Try to keep up, John. Or, is it more exciting just to take post shots?"

Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

I apologize for not keeping up. I have been out of work for two months and have been suffering from depression for almost three years. You'll have to bear with me. Good news; I just got a new job and will be starting August 10, so maybe I will be able to make up for all my "post shots" I've littered around the Web with posts that are followed up with sincere and complete follow-ups.

I'm tying up a loose end here.

Submarine makes me feel better...

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Congratulations, John. I'm so pleased for you. Well done

John said...

I apologize if I seemed a bit annoyed on my post. Like I stated last night, my new job starts soon; I will be teaching high-school students advanced algebra and pre-calculus. To date, I've only taught the lower rung math to kids who "had to be there". I'm scrambling and just read your comment about post shots last night.