LAMBETH: Four TEC Bishops Absent from Lambeth
Bishop Edward L. Salmon Disinvited at Last Minute
By David W. Virtue
With plane tickets and hotel reservations in hand, the retired Bishop of South Carolina, the Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon found himself suddenly disinvited to the Lambeth Conference in an embarrassing foul-up by the Palace just a week before the decennial gathering of bishops in Canterbury.
When Sue Parks who heads the Lambeth Design Group, discovered the double booking of two bishops for one diocese, she immediately contacted Salmon who voluntarily withdrew his invitation to allow his successor the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence full reign as the new Diocesan Bishop.
"There was nothing malicious in the disinvitation," Salmon told VirtueOnline in Canterbury. "I got an invitation when the invitations first went out and I was still the diocesan. Then we had an election that was not approved and I sat there as bishop till January 2008. The communion office was not notified. I am now retired but still technically on sabbatical. I turned 75 in January.
"The National Church retired me when I turned 72 but then the Diocese of South Carolina asked me to remain as bishop. "Till last week I still had an invitation.
"Then I got an email from Sue Parks head of the Lambeth design group telling me that they had made a slip up. They had gone over the list and saw that the diocese had two bishops and that was not right and they wondered how to proceed.
"I called her up then and said to her that I wouldn't come. I voluntarily withdrew. The communion has problems enough and I wasn't going to make this an issue.
"As I had booked my plane ticket and since my invitation still stood and there was no conspiracy I decided to come anyway." Rumors swirled that Salmon had been disinvited for reasons other than those given. "I always believe what people say to me," he told VOL. "I had a non-refundable ticket I could not turn in. I will now apply for a press pass."
Salmon conceded that what happened to him was a microcosm of the deeper issues facing the communion. "I think the church is in travail, mine was a mix up." Salmon said he alerted Bishop Mark Lawrence, and told him he would take the opportunity of being in Canterbury to support him.
Three other Episcopal bishops are also noticeably absent from Lambeth.
They include the Rt. Rev. James Adams, Bishop of Western Kansas who told VOL that he would not spend any of the Church's money on a three week retreat in England, which even the ABC said would not work to solve our problems, when he could not even afford priests for all his congregations. Adams said he went to GAFCON as a 60th birthday present to himself and paid for it himself.
Also noticeably absent is the brazenly inhibited Bishop of Pennsylvania, Charles E. Bennison who was found guilty of two charges of covering up his brother's sexual abuse of a minor. An ecclesiastical court declared that he knowingly did nothing while his brother John Bennison, also a cleric, engaged in sexual relations with a minor. He was also found guilty of covering up his brother's sexual misbehavior.
A third bishop, John-David Schofield the Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin withdrew from coming to Lambeth. At the last moment Schofield declined an invitation to attend the Lambeth Conference.
In a carefully worded note the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams sent over the weekend to the Primate of the Southern Cone, the Most. Rev. Gregory Venables, under whose authority Bishop Schofield functions, the ABC made it clear that while he affirms the ministry of Bishop Schofield, it is better that he not attend the Lambeth Conference.
In his letter to Venables, Williams wrote: "I understand that Bishop John-David Schofield has been accepted as a full member of the episcopal fellowship of the Province of the Southern Cone within the Anglican Communion and as such cannot be regarded as having withdrawn from the Anglican Communion. However, it is acknowledged that his exact status (especially given the complications surrounding the congregations associated with him) remains unclear on the basis of the general norms of Anglican Canon Law, and this constitutes one of the issues on which we hope for assistance from the Windsor Continuation Group.
"Bishop Schofield has elected to decline the invitation to the Lambeth Conference issued to him last year although that decision does not signal any withdrawal from the Communion. I hope there may be further careful reflection to clarify the terms on which he will exercise his ministry."
Schofield withdrew citing health concerns about the effect of another long trip, so soon after the Global Anglican Future Conference. He said he was delighted that his status with the Communion was settled amicably and did not signal any withdrawal from the Communion.
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