This week’s instalment in the series More Than Dreams is the story of Khosrow, from Iran.
TEC House of Bishops’ recent rejection of the Anglican Primates’ request for a "primitial vicar" to help those parishes which could not stomach the church’s left-wing agenda is an illustration of how it’s easier to tell others to be internationalists than to be one yourself.
Liberals–and not just Episcopal ones either–have been telling the rest of us for years that we should be better "internationalists," heeding super-national authorities such as the UN. They criticise the Bush Administration’s unilateralism in Iraq (they also criticised his multi-lateral approach to North Korea!)
But now that a very international body has told TEC to have some regard for those to disagree with them, they reject the call because it impinges their "national sovereignty" (or the TEC’s equivalent thereof.) Sounds like the Bush Administration’s playbook if you ask me.
Back when the UK "ruled the waves," sometimes people found they also "waived the rules." Sounds like the "English church" in the U.S. (for the moment, at least) is trying the same thing. If, as Emerson said, consistency was the hobgoblin of little minds, liberals must be geniuses. But they are unreliable ones.
“And a man came up to Jesus, and said: “Teacher, what good thing must I do to obtain Immortal life?” “Why ask me about goodness?” answered Jesus. “There is but One who is good. If you want to enter the Life, keep the commandments.” “What commandments?” asked the man. “These,” answered Jesus:–“‘Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not say what is false about others. Honour thy father and thy mother.’ And ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thou dost thyself.” “I have observed all these,” said the young man. “What is still wanting in me?” “If you wish to be perfect,” answered Jesus, “go and sell your property, and give to the poor, and you shall have wealth in Heaven; then come and follow me.” On hearing these words, the young man went away distressed, for he had great possessions. At this, Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you that a rich man will find it hard to enter the Kingdom of Heaven! I say again, it is easier for a camel to get through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” On hearing this, the disciples exclaimed in great astonishment: “Who then can possibly be saved?” But Jesus looked at them, and said: “With men this is impossible, but with God everything is possible.” Then Peter turned and said to Jesus: “But we–we left everything, and followed you; what, then, shall we have?” “I tell you,” answered Jesus, “that at the New Creation, ‘when the Son of Man takes his seat on his throne of glory,’ you who followed me shall be seated upon twelve thrones, as judges of the twelve tribes of Israel. Every one who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or land, on account of my Name, will receive many times as much, and will ‘gain Immortal Life.’ But many who are first now will then be last, and those who are last will be first.” (Matthew 19:16-30)
One of the strange things about Christianity–and the current dispute between TEC and the Global South is the perfect illustration–is the fact that the most "socially conscious" churches tend to have the wealthiest congregations. TEC, in fact, has made a career out of attracting such people.
But when it comes to actually meeting people of lesser means on their own level, TEC cannot bring itself to do this, even when the Scriptures make it clear that the Global South is in the right about the real meaning of the Word of God.
We have gone down this road before but two things bear repeating:
- Wealthy congregations have the means to right many of the inequities of the world, but they will not do it. It is more convenient for them to get the government (or the UN, through the MDG’s.) to solve the problem for them.
- As long as they have wealth they will not part with, they are part of the problem, not part of the solution, at least from the "zero-sum" view that dominates the Left.
Evangelical churches have been criticised for their obsession with tithing and giving. People say that "tithing is Old Testament." But the above scripture shows what the New Testament standard might look like. In this perspective 10% is the easy way out.
We have had enough of wealthy churches such as the TEC whining about the "social injustices" of the world while they not only continue living as they do but pander to others to "join the club." If the current Presiding Bishop really wants to turn the tables on the Global South, she should direct her congregants to sell all as Jesus commanded the rich young ruler.
It’s time to sell all or shut up.
As Election 2008 continues unabated, the issue of Mitt Romney’s religion continues to surface, both on the right (where Evangelicals don’t like the idea of a Mormon President) and the left (who don’t like the idea of religious people period.) We expect to see considerable discussion about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) and its beliefs. If these are on par with the way the media usually handles religious questions, one can expect more heat than light.
But the first question the left needs to answer is a simple one: why is it that Mitt Romney’s religion is a potential issue when Harry Reid’s isn’t? They’re both Mormons.
Beyond this, we have already heard statements to the effect that the "issues" surrounding the LDS church concern the Book of Mormon. It is on this point that we want to make one thing clear: the Book of Mormon does not teach Mormonism! We refer you to this link to see this for yourself. This includes the whole business of men becoming gods, which we discussed a while back in Half a Million Roubles. Is it Enough?
The reasons for this are complicated, but what it boils down to is that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and those who came after them "progressively defined" the religion as they went. That’s why there are two Mormon scriptures after the Book of Mormon plus the pronouncements that have come from "Presidents and Prophets" in Salt Lake City.
There are some serious questions about the LDS church that do relate to politics, most of which go back to the early history of the church (Mountain Meadows, polygamy, etc.) But these are not to be found in the Book of Mormon.
Julian wasted no time ploughing into her catechisation; he started during dinner the following evening. There was method in his madness though: the catechism began with the subject of Terry’s sponsors in baptism, so they spent dinner talking about Terry’s godparents and her growing up at St. Sebastian’s, which made for nice dinnertime conversation. As dinner wound down, Julian wanted to get into some more of the catechism, but Terry had other things on her mind.
“Julian, does anyone here at the Cathedral do visitation?”
Julian was taken aback by the question. “I’ve never heard it put that way.”
“I know I did a lot of it as a pastor—in a small church especially, people expected it.”
“I still find it strange to hear you refer to yourself as a pastor, even though I know you were a fine one,” Julian replied.
“Many people found it strange, but they sent me to plant the Barlin church so I did. God made a way for it to grow.”
“That right—you were its first pastor, weren’t you?”
“It was the third attempt. None of the men wanted the job. I had to work full time to support myself. Max helped to get my job as secretary to then Duke Henry. After my workday was done, I often went to visit people—current members who were sick or had problems, people who had visited our church or one of the prayer groups we had, or just needed the Saviour. Barlin is small, so I didn’t have to go far. But you still haven’t answered my question about visitation here.”
Julian thought for a minute. “All of our parishes have communicants and memberships; how often the parishioners are visited depends, of course, on the rector. Some are more diligent than others about it. Our problem at the Cathedral, however, is in part due to our odd legal status.”
“What’s odd about it, Julian?”
“Under our law—both secular and canon—the Bishop is the chaplain to the King and Queen—Desmond is chaplain to His and Her Highnesses. The Cathedral, thus, is the King’s Chapel, and as such has no means by which a communicant of our Church can directly affiliate with the Cathedral. The people who attend service here are, technically, on membership rosters elsewhere—usually at St. Matthew’s in Serelia Beach. But we have no way of really keeping up with them—we do not even have a proper Vestry, although we do have an Altar Guild. That’s one reason why we only need one service on Sunday morning—Sunday evening is for other purposes.”
“Then perhaps we should start with what we would call your ‘regular attenders,’” Terry suggested. “I know you believe in visitation.”
“I felt it was my duty to do something—they were in such grief, and no one else was…”
“…doing anything about it.” Terry finished. “But think about the people you see every Sunday—who might we go see tonight?”
Once again Julian had to think. “There’s the Chancellor’s father and mother—she’s an invalid, they only come occasionally. They leave about three blocks from here.”
“An excellent place to start—let’s do it.” With that they went out of both the Cathedral close and the palace grounds hand in hand into town. Terry had found the Serelians to be a charming people, but she still had a hard time getting over the desultory way in which they kept their town in general and their houses in particular. As Julian had promised, though, in three blocks they reached a small concrete block house in a lot not much bigger than the house. Julian and Terry walked up to the front door and Julian knocked.
“Peace be to this house, and to all that dwell in it,” Julian said when the man of the house answered the door.
“My, Reverend, this is a surprise—and such a fellow visitor you have here.” He was grizzled, in his late 60’s, neatly but plainly dressed.
“Oh, yes—this is my friend, Terry Marlowe,” Julian said nervously. His next step would have been to reach for his Prayer Book but Terry had his right hand firmly clasped in her left.
“Her Highness’ assistant—this is an event,” the man said. “I’m Harold Dillman—you’ve met my son, the Chancellor. Come on in”—he ushered them into his living room—“and meet my wife Loretta.” They came in; Loretta was sitting in her wheelchair, but reached out her hand to greet them. All of them were seated; if Loretta hadn’t had her own chair, one of them would have been in the floor. “It’s been a long time since a man of the cloth has darkened this door,” Harold said. “So what brings you two here?”
“It was Terry’s idea,” Julian admitted. “She was a pastor in her church and country, and had done quite a lot of it. She asked me about the Cathedral’s visitation. This is ultimately my answer.”
Harold looked at Terry. “I don’t know about her church, but her country has caused us a lot of grief lately.”
“Oh, but she’s in our service now,” Julian came back eagerly.
Harold looked Terry over again. “You’re originally from Verecunda, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I am,” Terry replied. “Point Collina, to be exact—since the country has been dismembered, the distinction is significant.”
“It really is,” Harold agreed. “So you’re just learning your way around here, aren’t you?”
“There’s a lot to learn,” Terry replied. “Your son was one of the first people I met when I first came here in March. He’s a fine man. He actually received me as a subject of the king.”
“We think he’s fine too—we just don’t see him often enough,” Loretta said. “The king keeps him busy.”
“I have some roots there myself,” Harold said. “My mother’s family was from Driscoll, but my father’s father came here from Verecunda long ago.”
“Any relation to the gynaecologists?” Terry inquired.
“Cousins,” Harold answered. “I’m glad they’re here, but it’s a shame why they had to move. My grandmother’s family was from Hallett, in Uranus—her maiden name was Stanley, so I’m related to that young lady who now is known as ‘the Ponytail Princess.’”
“Julia,” Terry happily said. “A wonderful Christian girl.”
“I got to meet her when she was on her honeymoon,” said Harold. “She has an interesting life ahead of her.”
“I was there when it changed so dramatically,” Terry said.
“I understand you might have missed it if our dear Princess hadn’t have been the nosey kind,” Harold came back. They all got a chuckle out of that.
“I used to be in the Royal Serelian Navy,” Harold resumed. “I came up through the ranks. By the time this last war rolled around, I had a desk job as commander of the Royal Naval Docks. We would have won that war if that fool Amherst hadn’t gotten such big ideas with that big operation he tried at Cresca—we tried to talk him out of it, but he wouldn’t listen and neither would the king. Now we are only half the country we were. I retired after the cease-fire. It was just as well, as Loretta was hit by a car just about then and hasn’t walked since.” They chatted about many things; Julian had known them for a long time, so there was plenty to chat about.
Finally Julian said, “We have missed you in God’s house.”
“It’s hard to go with Loretta the way she is,” Harold replied. “Besides, after what we went through in this war, it’s hard to see whether God cares about this place or not, or if He’s even out there to care.”
Terry looked at Harold intensely. “My God has never failed me,” she began. “He was there for me when I married my husband, and He was there when I buried him. He was there when I brought my son into the world, and He was there when I sent him out for the last time. He was there when I left Verecunda in secret, and He was there when I returned with the Aloxan army. He is here with me now that I have come to Serelia to serve, and if we had lost the war, He would have been at my side if I were hanged outside the palace gate. My God has never abandoned me, and if you’ll trust Him, you find He will be there for you too.”
Harold looked at her with a surprised look. “You really believe that, don’t you?”
“I’ve staked my life on it.” There was a silence in the room. Then Terry turned to Loretta and said, “Would you like for us to pray for you?”
Now the surprise was Loretta’s. “That would be very kind of you.” Terry got out her little bottle of anointing oil.
“You’re one of them, aren’t you?” Harold asked.
“Yes, I’m one of them.” She dabbed her right index finger in the oil, then laid it on Loretta’s forehead and began to pray. Julian grasped Terry’s left hand and prayed along the best he could. Terry prayed about a minute and then ended.
“That was nice of you,” Loretta said.
“Once again, we’d love to see you in church sometime,” Julian said, looking for something to say.
Harold thought a minute. “I might take you up on that sometime soon.”
“Do you need help in getting to church?” Terry asked, almost reflexively.
“No—we’ll get Devin to bring us. He doesn’t have anything else better to do on Sunday anyway.” They wound it up and said their goodbyes. Terry went out the door first, but as Julian left Harold called his name. He stopped and turned around.
“Yes, what is it?” Julian asked.
“That’s a fine girl you’ve got yourself there,” Harold said. “Don’t let her slip through your fingers like you did the last one.”
“Yes, sir,” Julian nervously replied, and left.
As they reached the street they saw Devin coming from the government complex towards the house. “Fine to see you two out this evening,” Devin said. “I’m coming by to check on my father and mother.”
“We were just visiting them,” Julian replied.
“Oh? Something wrong?” Devin asked.
“No—it’s Terry’s idea for visitation.”
“Good one—keep it up,” Devin said. As Devin went into the house, Julian and Terry walked back towards the palace gate.
“In our Church, we usually use a solid nard for unction, rather than liquid oil,” Julian said.
“Then bring some next time we go,” Terry replied.
“Also in our Church, the minister is the one who administers the Unction of the Sick.”
“Then next time you pray like that.”
Saturday morning was the normal practice time of the children’s choir at the Cathedral. Their rehearsal room was upstairs; the two sets of pews for altos and sopranos were set in a V-shape, with the grand piano in the middle. This gave Julian, sitting at the keyboard, a reasonable view of the whole choir, necessary with the group he was dealing with. On this Saturday morning Terry decided to come and sit in on the practice and see just how Julian did it; she and Darlene were making enough progress on the charters to permit such a break.
The practice was unexceptional; the older children found her presence intriguing, though. When it was over and Terry went over to Julian and asked, “Why don’t we go to the beach? I’ve not had the chance to go since I’ve been here.”
Julian looked out the window and said, “Looks a little threatening today.”
“Then we need to get started early.” Julian realised that she had already taken their decision, so he agreed.
“We’ll get ready in our respective apartments and meet in the middle, directly behind the palace proper,” Julian declared. They then left the choir room and separated, Julian to his apartment and Terry to hers.
Terry had the longer trip initially, so she alternated between a run and a brisk walk. Darlene was out with one of the staff, trying to start an herb garden at the palace. She saw Terry and said, “What’s your hurry?”
“I’m meeting Julian on the beach,” Terry replied, racing onward.
Darlene turned to her assistant and said, “Quick, go get George and tell him to meet me at the Sea Garden—it’s important.” As the assistant went on to summon the Prince, Darlene went on as rapidly as she could to the Sea Garden.
The Palace Beach wasn’t the best beach in Serelia by any means, as it was too close to the inlet. It tended to fall off very rapidly into the ocean. However, it had one virtue: it was private, restricted to those who lived in the palace compound or the Cathedral close. On this day Terry and Julian had the beach to themselves, except for the occasional palace guard and at first the small cloud of witnesses gathering at the Sea Garden.
Julian reached the appointed spot first, dressed in a tacky pair of swimming trunks and shirt to match. He stood and looked northwest up the beach, waiting for Terry. It took what seemed to him to be an eternity for Terry to emerge from the beach door at the bottom of the living quarters, but finally she did. He could make out that she was dressed in a beach robe and had sunglasses on, with a beach towel over her arm. She made her way slowly down to beach towards Julian; he took in every step.
When she finally reached him, she stood in front of him in silence. Then she took her sunglasses off and slipped them into the pocket of the robe. Then she took her robe off, which revealed a full one-piece bathing suit. Then she laid her robe and towel on the ground and stood looking at him.
A wide-eyed Julian took two steps back; once again it was his turn to put his hand in the mains. They were in silence looking at each other when Terry said, “Why don’t we go into the ocean for a swim?”
“That’s a splendid idea,” Julian answered, regaining enough of his composure to speak. He turned and started running towards the ocean. He got halfway there when he realised that Terry wasn’t following him. He stopped and turned back towards her.
“Going into the water would be a lot nicer if you’d take your shirt off,” Terry coolly observed.
“You’re absolutely right,” he said. He walked back up to her, took his shirt off, and they went into the ocean hand in hand.
While they were doing all this, Darlene and George were in the Sea Garden, trying to be inconspicuous while doing the play-by-play.
“She’s still disgusting—I can’t believe how skinny she is,” Darlene said.
“I told you not to feed her so much conch chowder,” George gently scolded his wife.
“I had to do something to move this relationship on,” Darlene defended herself.
“Well, you’ve done it this time.” They sat there and watched as the lovers enjoyed the water.
“Remember when we would play here long ago?” Darlene asked her own love.
“I do—you always liked those sand castles,” George answered. They drew closer at the thought. “I find it hard to believe that we’re sitting here watching two people ten years our senior and we’re the old married people.”
“What’s even more amazing,” Darlene added, “is that for both of them their most passionate love isn’t swimming in the water with them.”
Julian and Terry played and swam in the water for a long time, but finally got out and went back to where their towels were. They dried off, then spread them out on the beach, and laid down facing each other.
“You’ve never told me about your time at university,” Terry said.
“Oh, so I haven’t. As you know, my father was sexton at the Cathedral. Everyone expected me to be the next sexton too, but by the time I was twelve I was playing the organ some. So I was able to win a scholarship and study music on the mainland. The Church told me that, if I would take a minor in theology, they would pay the additional expense and ordain me a priest. Music is a demanding major, so I ended up spending five years getting my degree.”
“Did you enjoy your time there?”
“With my music, I did. When I got there, they were amazed at how proficient at the organ I was, since I came from such a remote place. It made less work for them. I still didn’t have a lot of money, though, so I had to work. I played jazz in nightclubs for a while.”
“Jazz—I didn’t know you played jazz.”
“That’s where I really learned how to properly improvise,” he said. “I enjoyed playing the music in the clubs, even though I don’t think that kind of music has any place in the church. Don’t some of your churches use it during their worship services?”
“All the time.”
“I eventually had to quit working in the clubs, though.”
“Why? Because you were a theology minor?”
“Not really—they thought it was funny, even though they knew what kind of a person I was. My studies got too demanding, though. Besides, I got tired of the smoke and the drunks and the scantily-clad barmaids there—oh, I’m sorry,” Julian stopped himself, surveying his love.
Terry giggled. “I’m flattered by the comparison. But I don’t do this very often. Even Darlene wondered why I wear long sleeves all the time.”
“I think your modesty is admirable.”
“There’s more to it, though.” She turned her left arm to show the needle scars between her wrist and elbow from her days as a drug addict. Julian winced; he winced again when she leaned her left shoulder towards him, showing the scar on the upper left arm from the war. “God has brought me a long way. So how did you like your theology studies?”
“Not so much. I didn’t like all of the doubts they had. It seemed to me that they doubted just for doubting’s sake. Desmond really enjoys all that, but I don’t. And they made fun of our church, too.”
“What did they say?”
“They thought it was too conservative—that was especially true of those who were connected with other churches in the Communion. The same questions kept coming up—why don’t you change your Prayer Book? Why don’t you think about ‘opening up’ on your beliefs? Why don’t you consider ordaining women? And then of course our relationship with the state was always a point of controversy. One of my teachers told our entire class in my presence that he thought the Church of Serelia was ‘a blight on the Anglican Communion.’ After that I just wanted to get done with theology, concentrate on my music and come home, which I did. Shortly after my return, our organist and choirmaster, who was my teacher, had to retire because of his poor health, and I’ve been at my duties here ever since.”
“That puts this church in a whole different light,” Terry observed. “You know, we were going over the Apostles’ Creed—you know the Verecundans made your church eliminate any reference to Christ’s second coming.”
“They made them rewrite the Creed entirely,” Julian added. “It was blasphemy.”
“You know,” Terry mused, “some people would think we’re crazy, out here on the beach, talking about the Creed.”
“It’s all I’ve ever known,” Julian said.
Terry reached out and stroked Julian’s face. “When I’m here with you like this, on the beach with the ocean, I feel like I’m in the Garden of Eden. Now I have an inkling of what our first parents felt. They did have one other advantage, though.”
“What did you have in mind, Terry?” Julian asked, a little nervous.
She cast a glance towards the Sea Garden. “Until the serpent showed up, only God was watching them.”
“Oh, dear,” Julian sighed, realising that palace romance was a spectator sport. They talked for a long time about many subjects, even drifting back into the Creed from time to time.
“This isn’t moving very fast,” George said. “All they do is talk.”
“Maybe they’re reaching beyond what they see in each other—which is beautiful enough—into what they can’t, which is even better,” Darlene replied.
At long last the weather looked like it was going to get nasty, so they picked up their things and embraced goodbye. Julian stood watching her departure; she had put her robe back on and was carrying towel over her arm as she walked up the beach back towards the door. She waved at George and Darlene as they prepared for the post-game analysis and bowed to the King and Queen, who were out on their balcony, taking this all in. Julian did not start back to his apartment until she went through the door and out of sight.
Everyone’s routine went on as usual the following week. Julian and Terry met faithfully for her catechism. Julian read to her the question that came after the Creed: “What dost thou chiefly learn in these Articles of thy Belief?”
“First, I learn to believe in God the Father, who hath made me, and all the world,” she replied, likewise reading. “Secondly, in God the Son, who hath redeemed me, and all mankind. Thirdly, in God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth me, and all the elect people of God.”
Julian looked at Terry. “I’m a little worried about this part.”
“Because churches such as yours are generally Reformed, and believe that Christ only died for the elect, and all that.”
“Pentecostal churches are not really ‘Reformed’ in that sense,” Terry explained. “Mine—and most of us—are Wesleyan-Arminian in theology. Jesus Christ did not come and die just for a few—He came in love for all of us. It’s just that some of us elect to receive Him and some don’t. It’s the same with sanctification—the Holy Ghost came to sanctify all the church, it’s just that some receive it and some don’t. John Wesley was a lifelong Anglican—it was this kind of doctrine that helped him to understand sanctification as a second work after salvation. I guess I’m coming full circle here, from an institutional standpoint. The one thing Pentecostal churches have discovered is the third work, the baptism in the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues as the initial evidence.”
“I heard you do that while praying over Loretta Dillman the other evening,” Julian said. “I wasn’t prepared for it.”
“I knew Pentecostals spoke in tongues, but we have always associated such things with people who lacked intelligence—something you obviously are well endowed with.”
“God has a great sense of humour, doesn’t he?” Terry asked. “I’m glad you witnessed that. I’ve never intended to hide that from you.” She paused. “If you believe the rumour mill, there’s not much I haven’t hidden from you.”
“It’s really terrible,” Julian noted.
“Don’t you people have a prayer”—she leafed through her prayer book—“yes, here it is: ‘Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid;’ I think in this place there aren’t any secrets from anyone else either.” They both got a laugh out of that.
In the course of the back and forth over the "failure" (technically at least, but there’s dispute over that) of Mark Lawrence to obtain the necessary consents for his election as Bishop of South Carolina, I brought up SC’s last legal miscalculation: attempting to block All Saints Pawley’s Island’s departure, which I originally commented on in When "Doing Right" Isn’t. A response came that pointed out that the parish was the first to sue.
To buttress this claim, a letter from Bishop Salmon to the parishioners was produced. I will reproduce this in its entirety with some comments:
January 16, 2004
My piece was written a year and a half later. Quite a lot transpired in that time; obviously that wasn’t covered in the letter below. I did my best to keep up with this, but it wasn’t the easiest thing to follow.
TO: The Members of All Saints’ Parish, Waccamaw
FROM: Bishop Salmon
Dear Friends in Christ,
The opening chapter of St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians provides the greeting to you for this letter. “I never stop thanking God for all the graces you have received through Jesus Christ” (I Cor.4). in the same chapter St. Paul appeals to the Corinthians “for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ to make up the differences between you” (I Cor. 1:10). In that spirit I write you all this letter.
In all the recent events around All Saints Parish and the Diocese of South Carolina, a number of Public statements have been made about our relationship. It is my intention in this letter to present the position that I have taken and offer documentation to support that position. Having heard both sides, you may then draw conclusions, as you are so led, which conclusions will I pray move us closer together rather than apart.
When Bishop Murphy was consecrated in Singapore in an irregular consecration in 2000, I was not in favor of the consecration because I believed that it would be divisive to orthodox unity. I believe it has. I could not change the fact that it had taken place. Since Bishop Murphy was no longer under our Canons, I had no control over the exercise of his ministry. The hope and expectation was that All Saints Parish would remain a faithful part of the Diocese of South Carolina.
When the Vestry in Moorhead City, N.C. voted to leave the Diocese of East Carolina they first transferred title to the church property to another group, and then informed the bishop that they were leaving the Diocese of East Carolina. Because of this the Chancellor advised me to record in the Georgetown County Courthouse, the Canons of the Diocese reflecting the requirement regarding property under which all congregations operate. In the North Carolina suit AmiA claimed that because the Diocese of East Carolina had not done so, the Diocese had no claim on the property. In the suit filed against the Diocese, the claim has been made that because the Diocese of South Carolina recorded the applicable canon, we had placed a cloud on the title. Bishop Murphy has stated that it was similar to building a swimming pool over a property line. It must be removed by legal action.
The facts are the opposite. If permission of the Bishop and Standing Committee are not given the title is clouded. Ross M. Lindsey, Parish Chancellor, admitted in his deposition, that in a transaction in 1986 the bank itself asked that such permission be sought. I am enclosing a letter written by Bishop Murphy, when he was a member of the Standing Committee, asking permission for All Saints to borrow money from the bank in 1988. The canons require such permission and not to seek permission clouds the transaction. I am also enclosing a sample page from the Standing Committee records showing similar permission requested by St. Peter’s by-the-Sea and the Church of the Holy Communion in 1965 as standard operating procedure for the Standing Committee. This has been a part of our common life for well over a hundred years.
If I were the bank, I would expect this permission also even if its necessity were in doubt. Bankers are generally very conservative about these things. The fact that the bank required this may only reflect the bank’s desire to "cover its bases" completely.
When All Saints Waccamaw sued the Diocese ( we are the defendants) over the recording of the applicable property canon, they claimed, in a deposition, that they were not under the canons, and kept them as a matter of courtesy. The Chancellor ruled that a church could not be not under the canons and in union with the Diocese at the same time. The convention, hoping for some reconciliation, voted to give All Saints Parish seat, voice, not a vote.
The fact that the Diocese is the defendant may not be a significant as it looks. As was the case with SC itself 20 Dec 1860, All Saints’ objective was to secede from the TEC. The only way to accomplish this was to secede from the Diocese as well. When the Diocese decided to perfect its interest in the property, All Saints was faced with one of those "fish or cut bait" moments, so they had to sue to prevent this.
In the meantime, Bishop Murphy has continued to live in the rectory, meet with the Vestry when he is in town, appoint a vicar to represent him, and generally to be in charge. Tim Surratt who, until now, has been the only clergyman canonically resident in the diocese, has been the supposed interim rector. He has, as of January 12, asked to be transferred to Rwanda. I plan to do so.
Because of the legal action, I have not met with the Vestry or made a visitation. Bishop Skilton has been to All Saints, for a visitation once.
I discovered, by happenstance, that the All Saints vestry had voted to amend the 1902 Charter which the then serving Chancellor had assisted the parish in securing. By way of background, the granting of the 1902 Charter by the Secretary of State was followed by the Trustees of the Diocese’s conveying the title to the church property to All Saints Church Parish by quit claim deed dated 1903. Because of the actions of the vestry, I immediately informed the Chancellor and notified the then Wardens and Vestry that they had in fact voted to leave the Church and could not longer be considered the vestry because by leaving they were no longer communicants in good standing, and thereby did not qualify to be vestry members. I did not excommunicate them as has been said. They are free to receive communion whenever and wherever they choose. They cannot vote to leave the church and at the same time be the vestry. I am enclosing copies of the letter and documents sent to them.
I called a meeting of the Standing Committee and informed them of my actions. After considerable discussion, the members of the Standing Committee decided to talk directly with the vestry. I gave my full support to such discussions. I am enclosing the report of their meeting written by the president of the Standing Committee. I told the Standing Committee that I was more than willing to consider and implement their suggestions, but that I was not willing to drop the appeal because (1) it had already been heard (September 10) and we were simply waiting for a ruling. I reminded them that (2) because of the original ruling no one now owned the property and this issued needed to be settled.
The basic issues on the table are those of lawlessness and the stability of the Diocese itself. We have no theological issues with All Saints. If any parish in the Diocese can unilaterally decide to not be under the Canons, appoint vicars, do what they want to when they want to, our strength as a Diocese is soon destroyed. There is no authority, only individual choice. That is exactly why the Episcopal Church is in the mess it is in. Bishops have individually acted without accountability, believe or not believe as they choose. That is lawlessness. It is my duty to oppose it.
This paragraph comes as close as anything I have seen to elaborating Salmon’s rationale for spending the Diocese’s money on this. His position is a straightforward, American conservative "rule of law" type of stance. Unfortunately it’s getting harder and harder to mechanistically apply this in the situation we’re in these days.
To start with, we need to make a clear distinction between civil law and God’s law. The central problem with TEC stems from the fact that large numbers of clergy and laity alike have opted to dispense with God’s Word as the basis of their life’s convictions. People like Henry Louttit tried to stop this, but the church at large didn’t have the stomach to carry through.
Churches operate in a framework of civil law because they have to. In the Middle Ages the Catholic Church tried with varying degrees of success to remove themselves from the jurisdiction of kings and nobles. No church today has that option. In SC, for example, an unincorporated religious body can be sued, and it is done by suing the membership! But the bottom line is that going to law needs to be a last resort, and that going to law needs to be done in the context of preserving the doctrinal integrity of the church, not just the institutional integrity of the Diocese.
This is where I part company with the Diocese on the issue of All Saints.
I have met with members of All Saints who are loyal to the Diocese. It was my decision to treat the loyal membership as a parish rather than a mission. We have organized and elected wardens. We plan to meet again as All Saints Parish Waccamaw under the Canons of the Diocese. We have notified the Secretary of State that there is a new vestry representing All Saints Parish, and Articles of Correction will be filed with the Secretary of State giving notice that the original charter of All Saints, Waccamaw remains unchanged.
It is my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will give us all a way to Godly solution to this situation, which is painful for all concerned. You are in my prayers. I cherish yours.
“May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (II Cor. 13:13)
Yours Faithfully in Christ,
Edward L. Salmon, Jr.
Bishop of South Carolina, XIII
Salmon reminds me of Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai. Nicholson insists on building a top-flight bridge, irrespective of the fact that it is for the enemy, and resists its destruction. Nicholson does this because it is the "proper" thing to do, and shows that he and his men are superior to their captors. But the end result is that the enemy has a bridge. With Mark Lawrence’s difficulties it seems that they have found how to run their train over it.
Ruth Gledhill’s piece about former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey calling for the disestablishment of the Church of England is an intriguing one, if a little disorienting for Americans. (Not this one, as you can see for yourself!)
The best practical argument for disestablishment, however, is that it would give more freedom to the church to set its own agenda.
We’ve already noted that there has been talk about Parliament forcing the CofE to admit women bishops. In the gay-crazy mood the UK is in these days, we’re honestly surprised that the government allowed Rowan Williams to humour the Global South the way he did in Dar-es-Salaam. The main reason why they haven’t is that the CofE isn’t a very significant part of Britain’s landscape any more except for its empty church buildings. And there’s always the National Trust for those in a crunch.
But we know that, with the homosexuals, there’s not an insignificant enough opponent they won’t try to crush sooner or later.
Historically, in the nineteenth century the CofE had difficulties "getting to the masses" because it literally took an Act of Parliament to establish or abolish a parish. This rigidity helped the growth of the Nonconformists.
The only unknown is whether or not the Church of England would use the freedom of "privitisation" wisely if it ever got it.
The flap over General Pace’s remarks about homosexuals in the military makes us think of our own closing remarks in our 2004 piece Gay Marriage? What Marriage?
Such moves (Christians withdrawing from the mainstream of society as a result of enshrining gay marriage into law) would have the long term effect of strengthening the Christian community at the expense of the state. Homosexuals and the left would learn the hard way that the opposite of love is not hatred but apathy, and that it is hard to sustain a great country like the United States without the enthusiastic support of at least part of its population. In other words, they may win their battle but ultimately lose their war.
And war is something they need to think about these days. One of those things the homosexual community may get through is eliminating the "don’t ask/don’t tell" policy in the military. This would make it easy for people to be openly homosexual in the armed services, as was the case with ancient Thebes’ "Sacred Band." They may need to do a little recruiting. What do you think will happen to the homosexual community if we get shar’ia?
Ending "don’t ask/don’t tell" will further sour the taste of heterosexual Christians and others to serve in the military. Depending on the course of American politics, the homosexuals may indeed win the battle on this, but then it will be up to them to defend our civilisation–such as it is–against the Islamicists. Like we say in prayer, be careful what you ask for: you may get it.
While thinking about the volleys of insults last week (both Ann Coulter’s and Bill Maher’s about the Vice President) we keep being haunted by the following:
Above: A St. Andrew’s School sophmore points out the obvious Confederate flag on the wall of a dorm room while his classmates (one American and one Bahamian) have a good laugh at his expense. People these days get very lathered up over offensive speech and symbols, but the truth is that liberals–no strangers to foul speech–make life impossible for the rest of us by continually moving the goalposts. This appeared in the 1971 Tartan (St. Andrews’ yearbook.) It is doubtful that this product of a very liberal school (then and now) would pass muster anywhere in the U.S. today.