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Monday, January 28, 2008

Is it true?

I have it on good authority that Matt and Ann Kennedy have renounced their orders as priests who were ordained in The Episcopal Church.

I have checked the webpage of the Diocese of Central NY and Anne Kennedy is not listed there; interestingly enough, neither is she listed in the Episcopal Clerical Directory.

Matt, however, continues to be listed as rector of Church of the Good Shepherd, Binghamton, NY as well as in the Episcopal Clerical Directory.

I have written to Matt and, thus far, he has declined to respond to my inquiry. However, in all fairness, I'm told that his wife's blog indicates that he is out of town for the week.

Gee, I wonder why?

There's been nothing on her blog or that of her husband's. No announcement. No bells and whistles. Nothing. Zip. Nada.


I also understand that Tony Seel, another priest in the diocese of Central New York, has been deposed. He now claims to be a priest of CANA, with Martyn Minns as his bishop. Apparently, Tony has not been reticent about his deposition. You can find his statement on his blog here.

Warning - this is a man who clearly does not have clarity about the polity of TEC or the Anglican Communion. If you are able to read beyond the angry, confusing rhetoric, the pain is palpable.

I wonder why this has not been picked up as Really Important News about how TEC is going to hell in a hand basket and see, look how many people we're "hemorrhaging" every week! Minute! Second!

Why do I care? Why do I have the least bit of interest in this?

Why? Because it's very important, that's why. First of all, from everything I've been able to read, Matt and Anne are fine priests. Anne is an exceptional preacher. Really fine. Articulate. Accessible. She clearly has a heart for the gospel - not one that I agree with, but that's beside the point. It's always good to hear an intelligent, cogent, articulate preacher, even if I disagree with almost everything she says. I agree with her belief in God, her love of Jesus and her trust in the Holy Spirit. That's good enough for me.

Matt, on the other hand, is all serious and pedantic. Up in his head. Way up. Way, way up. He gets so very serious in his argument and works so hard to make his point that he actually makes me laugh out loud sometimes, when he doesn't bore me to absolute tears. His buddy, Gregg Griffiths has described him as 'the uber-Calvinist'. From everything I've read, I'd have to agree. I have no doubt of his sincerity, his passion, his energy, his love of Christ Jesus. I'm sure he's also a fine pastor and a good dad to their four small children.

Beyond the personal, there's an important political reason to take note of the possible loss of two priests and the actual loss of one priest from the councils of the church. As more priests leave TEC, this will eventually represent a shift in how we define "orthodox," 'conservative', 'evangelical' and 'catholic'.

If all those who are "orthodox" have aligned themselves with African or Southern Cone Provinces, it begs the question: "Can one be orthodox and Episcopalian?" What might that mean?

With the loss of the radical Right, the shift in the more "moderate middle" will also be perceptible. Without more of the Right to take the hit, they may well become more beleaguered as well as more entrenched and begin to look more and more like conservatives.

The 'movable middle' will become far less pliable in the transition. That will deeply affect some of the leading Liberals in our church, who are always ready to "give away the farm" anyway. A true Liberal who gets anxious about the moveable middle moving more to the Right? Well, let's just say it's not a pretty sight. Trust me. I've seen it.

However, those few and ever dwindling numbers on the Right fringe will seem even more 'out there' to more and more people - even the 'moderate' and 'moveable' middle.

This is not a bad thing.

Nevertheless, all of this has serious considerations for progressives and liberals. We don't like to admit it, but we need the conservatives in the moderate middle to keep us honest - just as much as they need us to keep them honest (and they don't like to admit that anymore than we do).

Without our internal controls, a Covenant might just begin to look good to some folk.

This is not a good thing.

Don't ask me why - it's just a hunch - but I suspect things will soon begin to implode on the Right. Round about July, I figure. We're just now seeing the first strikes of the match. As the flame gets closer and closer to the source of the ignition fluid, it will get more and more dangerous.

Don't count on anybody from Lambeth Palace doing anything helpful.

I wonder if The Living Church will begin publishing Renunciations as well as Depositions, Transfers, Resignations, Deaths, etc.

Stay tuned.

Oh, and faretheewell, Matt and Anne (if the rumor is true) amd Tony. May God continue to bless the work you do in the name of Jesus - no matter where in God's one, holy catholic and apostolic Church you find yourselves.


Grace said...

Mother Kaeton,

I think the Kennedys have left with their whole church for the Diocese of Kenya.

It's a tragedy. I just can't understand. Honestly, I can't. I mean, I'm orthodox, and evangelical in the faith, too.

Somehow all these people think that Christian orthodoxy is incompatible with being affirming of GLBT inclusion. I can't see it.

And, then to make matters worse, so many feel absolutely compelled to leave TEC, and abandon their brothers and sisters in Christ.

I'm just grieved. Sad.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

"Can one be orthodox and Episcopalian?"

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth...I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God...I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.

I believe all the way to the end of the Creed.

I am an Episcopalian. I am orthodox.

I am also in favor of full inclusion---just like Peter with those pork-eating Gentiles.

Matt and Anne don't get to define "orthodox"---neither do +Duncan or +Akinola or Martyn Minns. The Council of Nicaea already did that---and guess what? This progressive, inclusive Episcopalian passes the test.

Too bad the Kennedys decided that a belief in the core doctrines of Christianity simply aren't enough to share communion with the likes of me...

Muthah+ said...

I disagree with Grace and you, Elizabeth. I am glad to see the Kennedys gone. Not for my sake, but for theirs.

Before either one was ordained, I had had discussions with them about their understandings of the Church. They have never understood how they could have been forwarded in the ordination process. Neither of them had come to faith within the American Episcopal Church--Anne came from the African Church much influence by here missionary alliance family and Matt in the Campus Crusade tradition. Neither of them had much of an experince of parish life either.

It seemed as though they wanted something of the Church that the Church had never been and had no intention of being. They could not seem to find any home in the Church at all so they set to making their tiny parish something that was not Episcopal and in my mind, not Anglican.

As the years went by, their demand that the Church conform to their image, their stance became more and more rigid, and their rhetoric more volitile. I once counted them as friends but their stance made it impossible to support them or what they were doing to the people of their parish. In my mind, they were terribly unhappy in TEC.

I am happy that they have seen that they don't belong in TEC. I am sorry that they could not have seen that before they alienated so many from Good Shepherd and destroyed that neat little parish in Binghamton.

I know what it is like to have to leave a church when one's theology is no longer compatable. I hope that they find a home in the Kenya Church. I just wish they could have done this without tearing up a perfectly good congregation in the process.

Ann said...

I am sad to lose Anne Kennedy's voice in TEC --- she has thought provoking sermons that help me sort out my own thinking.

JimB said...

I suppose the loss of these two priests was inevitable. I wish them well in Kenya. Interesting choice of course, Kenya unlike the ultra-holy in Nigeria, accepts female clerics, as long as they are suitably reticent and homophobic.

It is likely that the 'unity' of the wrong wing alphabet soup of organizations is about to come apart. Between differences on orders for women, praxis (some of these guys actually use incense!) and polity, the seems are already showing. Given the sheer arrogance of some of the self-appointed leadership, who does or does not invade Israel for the great gaffe should be an interesting story.

I too wish them well. There is a lot to do in the vineyard and all the workers contribute, even when I think they are dead wrong. ;-)

I do agree that we need a conservative and evangelical presence if we are to maintain any equilibriam. I think, hope and pray that there will be a substantial continuing presence within TEC from that side. I can think of at least one new bishop in the South East who might form part of its leadership. He clearly took that ordination oath knowing what the whole church expects.



Unknown said...

Didn't Anne grow up in Kenya? And their website reports that back in Nov/Dec they were in negotiations to keep their building. The current bishop brought them into the diocese, probably with the expectation that as "young people" they might do things differently. Indeed, they have. They showed a real talent for not wanting to do much with the rest of the district (not that that set them apart much) other than wanting to "do battle" over the rest of the church's apostasy (which did set them apart). There seemed to be a remarkable naivete associated with offering them jobs here. Tragedy? The tragedy might be earlier on than their departure to Kenya.

David said...

Can one be orthodox and Episcopalian?

Oddly enough, the Quote of the Day on my blog is:

"Orthodoxy is, in the Church, very much what prejudice is in the single mind. It is the premature conceit of certainty. It is the treatment of the imperfect as if it were the perfect." --- Bp. Phillips Brooks

And that quite neatly says what I think of the Anglican "orthodox" and the brouhaha they've caused in our church.

As for the Kennedys ? It sounds like Muthah+ has a fine handle on that. Peace to them...

Brother David said...

I didn't know that pecusa [sic] was a communion unto itself; I was under the understanding that pecusa [sic] is a province of the Anglican Communion.

I speak ESL and even I understand the phrase "Abandonment of the Communion of The Episcopal Church" perfectly! In fact, I believe that Mr. Seel edited the the letter by adding the capital C himself to better whine his point.

I'm not an expert on Canon Law in TEC, not even on the canon's of our own La Iglesia Anglicana de México, but I would suspect there is a right way and a wrong way to incardinate to another province. One that would not have invoked claims of abandonment and deposition.

In most civilized nations, if you are married to one person and just walk out of the marriage to shack up with someone else, most folks would consider that abandonment!

Mr. Seel is choosing to be dishonest and obtuse! I thought that TEC had psychological evaluations to weed out such character flaws in the discernment process?

June Butler said...

Are the Kennedys actually moving to Kenya with their congregation? No. I know they won't do that. I keep waiting for chartered planes from San Joaquin to load up passengers and take off to the Southern Cone, but that won't happen either.

I'm sad to see the Kennedys go - if go they do - but I'm not sorry. They were quite unhappy in TEC. I wish them well and God's peace in their new venture.

susankay said...

Yes -- I wish them well and am sorry they are gone. I found Matt+'s dialogue over on Fr Jakes very worthwhile. I hope they feel that they are still welcome on the blogs of (sadly) "our side". And I pray they find peace and God and walk with God.

Robert Zacher said...

I'm not sad about this at all. If anything I've watched this Kennedy performance from the sidelines with arched eyebrows.

By his own admission Kennedy within the first year of his tenure caused the departure of about 60% of the laity he found at Good Shepherd, Binghampton. I feel sorry about those people who lost their parish church, forced out by this bright boy's hard nosed, fart in a bottle Calvinism.

The Kennedys' went on to pack Good Shepherd with their agreeable and elect supporters predestined to assist the Rev. Mr. Tony Seel with the dismantling of nearby St. Andrew's, Vestal, with up the road.

Now Mr. Kennedy having made his mark with a laptop and touch typing and chaos in the Binghampton deanery of Central New York, will no doubt make his debut as one of the emerging stars of Kenya or CANA or wherever.

Reading "mutha's+" comments and backround material on all this put the Kennedy act in the proper context. Thank you, mutha+. I see that Bp. Claude Payne ordained this enfant terrible to the diaconate. Does that mean we have the diocese of Texas Commission on Ministry together with the Virginia Seminary to thank for this?

I wonder ... why is it that so many people who are angry with or potential bad fits for The Episcopal Church allowed to offer themselves for its ministry? The complex rigmarole adopted by commissions on ministry has nevertheless allowed many like the Kennedys to infest the church. Perhaps its something like the hiring I was warned about in my last job. My boss said, "Be careful! ... just because they look good doesn't mean that they are good."

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hey, Robert, thanks for dropping by and leaving your comment.

You know, I'll never understand why the Kennedy's came to The Episcopal Church to pursue their ordained ministry. Neither one of them seems particularly Anglican or Episcopalian. It took them less than five years to discover they were in the wrong place - or, not the place they thought it would be.

Never mind. That's okay. I just don't understand the impulse to hunt down and destroy what you can't mold in your own image.

That they are not joining CANA or Duncan's Tribe is not a surprise. Matt made that pretty clear when he called Duncan's plan a failure in his essay last week. Kenya is also not a surprise, given Anne's history there and ACK's position on the ordination of women - which suits hers and Matt's.

They are two fine priests who have married, been ordained, started a church, had four babies and discerned greater clarity of their vocation in less than six years.

They have clearly not let grass grow under their feet. I expect to hear marvelous things about the mighty works they will accomplish in the name of Jesus which God has so clearly called them to do.

I wish them nothing but happiness and prosperity.

Frair John said...

For the last time, these two, and Mat+ in particular, are not "Calvinists." rather they are Arminians. Arminians with a decidedly Anabaptist streek.

Hiram said...

I grew up as a Presbyterian, and I still count myself as Reformed in theology, so I have a lot in common with the Kennedys. One fall in the late 60's, when I was in grad school, I attended an organ concert at the Episcopal Church just off the university grounds. As I listened to the very fine music, I read the BCP. I looked at the XXXIX Articles, Morning Prayer, and Holy Communion. (This was the BCP of 1928; there were, I think, some trial books around at the time, but this parish did not use have them in the pews.) As I read, I said to myself, "This is what I believe!"

I later attended worship, and I loved the liturgy, music, and so on. However, the more often I attended worship in Episcopal parishes, the more I noted the disconnect between what the Prayer Book and Bible said and what the sermons said.

Later on, I did meet some British and American evangelicals (including John Stott, JI Packer, Alden Hathaway, and John Howe). I had not yet decided to be confirmed, and they told me that I should only enter ECUSA if I felt that God was calling me to be a witness to biblical Anglicanism, calling ECUSA back to the beliefs its historic documents expressed.

This was before I had any sense of call to ordained ministry. It was not until I had been an active member of a parish for a few years that I believed that God was calling me to ordained ministry. It was not the easiest thing to get through the COM of a moderate to conservative diocese -- but I was blessed by the experience of the COM and the Episcopal seminary I attended. I was ordained, and I have served four parishes in four dioceses since my MDiv.

In all that time, it has gotten harder and harder to be an evangelical Episcopalian. From my perspective, it seems to me that progressives called for “diversity” when their positions were in the minority, and now that they have, one way or another, gotten hold of the levers of power, there are calls for uniformity. Often such calls are “under the radar,” with evangelicals being called foolish, ignorant and/or psychologically warped, or being denied seats on diocesan committees. And even where we are allowed to state our opinion or to refrain from some action such as the blessing same-sex unions, we are not allowed to call for adherence to those standards which we believe are in accord with God’s will.

So, more and more of us will leave. We did the best we could to call ECUSA back to its historic faith, the faith it received when it came into existence in 1789 – but our efforts have not availed. (ECUSA will not even come back to “mere Christianity.”) The Kennedys are leaving now, and more will follow, including me. I cannot imagine the horrors that will come out of GC 09, so most of us will have left by that summer.

Some will say, “We will miss your voice.” Others may say (in a whisper), “Thank God!”

Anne said...

Lauren, please stop posting inacurate biographical stuff about me (and Matt). As I said before, you never knew us that well. You know nothing about our experience in the Episcopal church or our coming to faith.

And for all the rest, I didn't grow up in Kenya. I grew up in Mali, West Africa. I have been a life long member of the Episcopal church (sometimes at a distance). Never in my whildest dreams did I think there would be a point I would leave. But things change.

I thank you all for the good wishes and good thoughts. We have had a good 4 years for both sides to understand the nature of this division. If you still don't get it, I don't see what else can be said.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

With all due respect, Mother Anne, perhaps you have misstated your case.

You and Matt have had four good years to understand the fuller picture that has been the reality of The Episcopal Church for more than 30 years. From everything I've read, I've come to know both you and Matt to be good, energetic, skilled, passionate, intelligent clergy. You have had a very full and busy six years together - having babies, raising a family, trying to grow a church.

Did you really think you could change things around in the Episcopal church entire in just 4 years?

I do plan to check in on your blog occasionally as I live in sure and certain hope that you will post your marvelous sermons, when you get to preach them. I trust your new bishop will still allow you to preach and preside occasionally.

I wish you and your beautiful children and your husband godspeed. I trust you will no doubt get to do some of your work in Africa, once (please God) the unrest in Kenya settles down and it is safe to do your work in your new home diocese. What a wonderful experience for the children. The Episcopal Church is poorer for your absence.

Suzer said...

Although Matt+ and Anne+ would probably not want the likes of me on the doorstep of their church, I have enjoyed reading Anne's blog and I agree her sermons are excellent. (I do tend to skip over stuff that references apostasy and such, as we would strongly disagree on that issue.) Anne+, you are a talented preacher, and I'm sure a wonderful mother, and I wish you the best whether in or out of the Episcopal Church. I also hope you keep posting your cooking ventures and recipes, as they inspire me to experiment a bit. :)

I must say I don't understand what would bring people with theologies like Matt+, Anne+ or Hiram+'s to desire ordination in TEC, as they apparently had some seemingly major disagreements with TEC before they even started. The "why", I guess, will remain a mystery to me, as these ministers move toward more suitable churches for their particular theologies. And there's nothing at all wrong with that -- I just wish they and others like them had been able to discern their call a bit more clearly, before following a path that apparently has caused them (and others, particularly GLBT people in the church) much pain.

Godspeed to Anne+, Matt+ and Hiram+.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

I too am sorry in one way to see the Kennedy's go this way. But I do agree that the "fit" was not particularly good. I sense this is a little like the marriages entered into where one party is well aware of the other's "faults" but thinks he or she can "get them to change." It almost never works out.

This is one of the points I always bring up in marriage counseling. One should not imagine one can change things about other people to conform them to one's own ideal. Working on oneself is quite enough for anyone to handle, and that usually fails, too.

Padre Mickey said...

I lived on the island of Okinawa from the age of five to sixteen; I am very much Okinawan and Japanese at my core (just ask the Lovely Mona!) but I would never take Parroquia San Cristóbal into Nippon Sei Ko Kai, even though deep inside I think Japanese culture is superior to Western culture.
I find this all very sad.

Robert Zacher said...

Hey Elizabeth, thanks for the warm welcome.

I see that Anne Kennedy has posted a comment and I want to say hello to you also. These comments introduced me to your blog with the ... er ... somewhat scary title of "an undercurrent of hostility." However I am impressed with your quite candid and creative writing there especially as it pertains to issues of domesticity and cooking. I do a lot of cooking, and I bake all of my own bread. I would prefer to meet you or anyone in that venue rather than in the arena of theological polemic.

If I may though, let me point out that you and Matt have, due to the extensive scope and not to say the voluminous quantity of your published work on the Internet, shown more of yourselves in a public way than you might realize. By that I mean to say that although you may very well know what you have written, you can only know to a limited extent what your work reveals about you, your brief histories and your personalities that are put on display for anyone to see.

All that being the case as it is for agressive Internet apologists and bloggers, I fail to see how you or Matt can fairly say to Lauren

" ... You know nothing about our experience in the Episcopal church or our coming to faith ... "

Quite to the contrary, my bit of reading and reasearch shows me and anyone else who cares to look that the two of you have put exactly that up on the Internet for all the world to see - your experience in The Episcopal Church and something more than you might realize about your coming to the beliefs you hold. One does not need to have been in seminary with you two to see a lot about what is going on.