VIA MEDIA'S STRATEGY EXPOSED
By David W. Virtue
Notes from a private meeting of the Steering Committee of the liberal pansexual ECUSA organization known as Via Media on September 29, 2005 were sent to VirtueOnline and reveals their strategy in the eventuality that The Episcopal Church starts to come apart after General Convention in 2006.
The following persons were present: Dixie Hutchinson, Lynn Minor, Steve Westen, Rick Matters, Greg Fry, Joan Gundersen, Meg Ingalls and Andrew Grimmke
People began by introducing themselves. Meg's parish just gave a van bought with UTO money to the Diocese of Mississippi.
After a prayer by Rick Matters, we began reports from the field.
VMFW - Bishop Iker has been fairly quiet, but has gotten very vocal about women's ordination. He has sent a formal request 10 Panel of Reference to shelter them from women's ordination. He is claiming that the church is forcing him to accept women's ordination.
FWVM always responds with a letter. Sent one to the Panel of Reference. Now have a newsletter with a circulation of 950. Sent to all clergy, including the bishop. Got directories from every parish with membership in their group. The group is having to pay for mailing. They are now 501-c3. Fort Worth budget short $70,000 (i.e. one parish which is even MORE conservative),
Discussion of Hurricane relief and the way the Dallas, Fort Worth and Pittsburgh dioceses have ignored the ERD.
Remain Episcopal - At clergy convocation Bishop Schofield announced that the Episcopal Church's refusal to repent at GC will trigger the diocese announcing that the Episcopal Church has left the A.C. This was part of an announcement about "Where he stands." There is supposed to be a DVD of this talk. He expects the network to be recognized immediately after convention. After convention, all bets are off for those priests who don't follow his lead. They need to "watch out." In the past he had offered to let liberal parishes leave, but not now.
Dallas - The group believes there will be a power battle between Stanton and Duncan for control of new church. Special convention voted to approve Windsor Report (3 no votes). DVM had a great turnout when Michael Battle spoke. Raised $2000 and travel for him from a call for donations and plus had a surplus. Have e-mail list of 200, Stanton says there is no Via Media, and Jekko (Jecko former Bishop of Florida) is now assistant bishop. Have stripped all outreach funds from budget to place in evangelism. DVM is getting ready to challenge this. New interim Dean of Cathedral is Network's church planting guru, Kevin Martin. Expects to be named real dean.
SW FL - Diocese in disarray, bishop coadjutor search on hold. Bishop swings depending who he talked to last. Bishop Lipscomb and Bishop Chane trying to work out DEPO swap. Bishop has said he will let each parish make its own decision as to where to go. They are working quietly, meeting with bishop. Hard to have a formal structure, did have an event for diocese looking at the positive things the church is doing- The chair of the standing committee is a member of S.W. FL.
Episcopal Voices -- have web site that is beginning to really do good work, a yahoo group, meetings 2-3 times a year with speakers. Quiet group, doesn't know where to go from here. Lay led. Meg got together a group of clergy, most of whom are VM - trying quietly to get as many people as possible on diocesan committees. They are looking for a way at diocesan convention to create "up/down" roll call vote to make clear who is is going to leave and who wants to remain part of TEC. They had been looking for an outreach project that would build bridges with people from other parishes, Katrina and Rita have given them that. Major committees of diocese are all "owned" by network.
PEP (Pittsburgh) - has newsletter, chat list, monthly meetings, convention presence, has been effective opposition at conventions, has done consulting with parishes in other parts of the country, has broken national stories about schism, does briefings for convention.
CESLD - two founding members died. Herzog is retiring, wants co-adjutor. By getting a coadjutor and not retiring until after Lambeth, they can increase the number of conservative bishops at Lambeth.
During the reports, the steering committee members identified the following questions for a discussion of strategy;
How to prepare for split aller 2006 GC
How to address ignoring of ERD in relief announcements. Is this a PR opportunity? Appeal to ABC to suggest that only diocesans be able to vote at the next Lambeth conference, or to ask for other actions. How to get other dioceses and groups involved Are there specific actions or outcomes for us to work on for GC? Strategy discussion - what can we do, then how, then how to reach the larger community.
1. What will be our response the "Day After" when the bishops start announcing they are in a "new" Anglican Communion and the Network is "recognized" as the only legitimate expressions of the A.C. in North America?
* HAVE READY BLANK PRESENTMENTS FOR ABANDONMENT OF THE COMMUNION.
* Have already drafted request stating that the see is vacant and requesting appointment of interim bishop. Need to coordinate with PB on these appointments.
* Have request for special convention ready to give to interim bishop so that vacant spots in diocesan government can be filled (trustees, council, standing committee, commission on ministry, etc.)
* Be ready to take legal action on property - identify who will serve as litigants, what * property needs to be covered.
* Have plan for locations and personnel to provide worshipping communities and "safe
* havens" for the faithful remnants. Identify retired priests and deacons, lay leadership.
2. Build a broader awareness and support for VMUSA and the coming crisis.
* Tap into provincial presidents.
* Build sister parish connections and lay leadership.
* Find a group of bishops to work with, including PB candidates
* Cultivate Executive Council, Officers of General Convention
* Cultivate local press * Develop criteria for recognizing schism
* Recruit 5-7 national leaders to be in a teleconference with us. Rick Matters to set up
* phone call and hold it, Chris and Joan will be the others involved.
They will set follow- up steps and identify next phone conversation. Possible participants Jenkins, Parsley, Alexander, Titus Pressler, George Werner, Jon Bruno, John Chane, Catherine Roskam, Chilton Knudson, Edward Little, Don Johnson, Mark Dyer, Sauls, Bill Carroll.
* Deadline - Nov. 15.
3. New Public Awareness campaign to be headed by Steve Westen
* To engage seminary professors in discussion
* To connect with others in church who are concerned
* Westen to create his own committee and come back with a proposal by October 29.
4. Each allied group is asked to find someone (not necessarily a lawyer) to act as liason on legal issues to help coordinate and share information. The committee then looked for volunteers for specific tasks. Meg Ingalls will do letter to request interim bishop after "abandonment." And have request ready to ask to hold special convention to fill vacant spots. Oct. 15 Dixie will talk to a former chancellor about whether he would help us with presentment boiler plate and for lawsuits (Oct. 15)
Every group to get a legal liaison for VMUSA. (10/29)
Communicate: Steve Westen talked more about his vision of the wider public relations effort: Name the threat or challenge Sketch the cost and the promise Outcome of immediate and long-term consequences
Steps to take after having done the above: Broadcast widely, network of seminary educators to do responses to this issue, office of general convention, office of pastoral care, staff individually, staff of Episcopal Life, NY Times, Jim Lehrer, Washington Post, Bill Moyers, Larry King live, NPR (Barbara Bradley Haggerty).
Joan will talk with George Werner about what happened here and if there is something that we should be approaching Executive Council about. Should we ask an Exec Council to have a representative at our next steering meeting.
VMUSA authorized Rick Matters to meet with ABC in March, (Mar 15-27) Joan to write a letter for us to sign. Cameron as back up if ABC out of town.
Christopher to contact Province Presidents by mid November and establish a contact.
Nancy Key to write up the concept of sister parish.
Next in person meeting in Lodi, Travel to arrive on 1/26/06 through 1/28/06 at noon, alternative dates arc first two weeks in Feb.
The Steering Committee adjourned to go to dinner and then open the general conference with a reception that night.
Joan R. Gundersen Temporary Secretary
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