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GC2012:Open Letter Bishops Claim Partial Victory in Mind of the House Resolution

GC2012: Open Letter Bishops Claim Partial Victory in Mind of the House Resolution

By Michael Heidt in Indianapolis
July 8, 2012

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (TEC) passed a "Mind of the House Resolution" on Sunday, July 8, in support of the laity, clergy and bishops of the TEC loyal Dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin.

At least two bishops, Wallis Ohl of the Diocese of Fort worth, and John Buchanan of the Diocese of Quincy, regard this as a partial victory in their attempt to censure nine of their fellow bishops.

Meeting in legislative session, the House of Bishops passed the following resolution:

"Resolved, That Episcopalians in the Dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin - lay and clergy - be commended for their unflagging efforts to continue to witness to God's mission as The Episcopal Church during their recent difficult times as they reorganize their continuing dioceses in that same spirit; and be it further

"Resolved, That the leadership in each of those four continuing dioceses be commended for their similar efforts, including in particular the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth; the Rt. Rev. Kenneth L. Price, Assisting Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh; the Rt. Rev. John C. Buchanan, provisional Bishop of the Diocese of Quincy; and the Rt. Rev. Chester L. Talton, provisional Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, and especially the strong lay leadership of each diocese."

The vote follows hours of closed discussion in the House of Bishops concerning nine bishops who had been accused by Ohl and Buchanan of disloyalty to the Episcopal Church in an open letter dated July 5. The letter claims that the nine bishops had broken Episcopal Church law by signing an amicus brief and affidavits in support of the Dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy who had left the Episcopal Church in 2009, and which the Episcopal Church is litigating against.

More specifically, Ohl and Buchanan's letter alleges that the offending nine bishops had "failed to recognize the right bishops," namely themselves, as the bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy; this is a charge that six of the accused bishops explicitly deny in an open letter dated July 6. Regardless of this denial, bishop Ohl of Fort Worth and bishop Buchanan of Quincy, feel vindicated by this Sunday's resolution.

According to the episcopalcafe blog, bishop Buchanan made the following statement after the resolution was passed by a unanimous roll-call vote.

"Bishop Ohl and I triggered this resolution by writing our letter. The House of Bishops spent nearly two and a half hours discussing this matter in productive and collegial conversation that worked toward reconciliation. The matter will continue to be discussed at future meetings of the House of Bishops.

"I am most grateful for the resolution that identifies me as the bishop of the Diocese of Quincy."

For the Episcopal Church's Bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy their House's vote of confidence may count as a first step towards victory in their attack on nine of their fellow bishops. But at a press briefing on Sunday evening, Bishop Jeffrey Lee of the Diocese of Chicago was swift to downplay this. Sunday's resolution was "virtually the same as a resolution we passed in 2009," said lee, "we simply wanted to reiterate it."

The House of Bishops will continue to debate what action, if any, should be taken against their nine colleagues accused by Ohl and Buchanan.

Bishop Ohl's Diocese of Fort Worth has an estimated membership of less than a thousand persons. Bishop Buchanan's Diocese of Quincy has an estimated membership of 300 persons.


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