The Covert Letter
jQuery Slider

You are here

SC Bishop Deposed*Oregon Supreme Court Ditches Dennis Canon*PEAR Bishops to ACNA

Hope of Glory. Responsibility and rule. Scripture contains many indications that the new heaven and the new earth will be for the believer a place not only of privilege but of responsibility. The 'good and faithful servant', who has been 'faithful with a few things', will be put 'in charge of many things' and will 'share [his] master's happiness' (Mt. 25:21, 23). Similarly, to the good servant in the parable of the ten minas the nobleman says: 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities' (Lk. 19:17). And Paul adds to the Corinthians: 'Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?' (1 Cor. 6:2). It seems fitting that it should be so. Those who have learned to do Christ's works in this life will continue to do them in the next. Those who have come to rule their own passions on earth will rule over people in heaven. --- John R. W. Stott

Love in heaven. The new age will be peopled by new beings living a new life under new conditions. Humans will be like angels. Mortals will have become immortal. Borrowing a phrase from the apostle Paul, they will have been 'raised imperishable' (1 Cor. 15:52-54). Consequently, the need to propagate the race will no longer exist. The creation command to 'be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth' (Gn. 1:28) will be rescinded. And in so far as reproduction is one of the chief purposes of marriage, humans will no longer marry. Not that love will cease, for 'love never ends' (1 Cor. 13:8). But sexuality will be transcended, and personal relationships will be neither exclusive in their character nor physical in their expression. --- John R. W. Stott

" ... what we aspire to as Anglicans is not to be a federation of loosely connected and rather distant relatives who sometimes send Christmas cards to each other, but a true family and fellowship in which we share our hopes and know that we are responsible for each other's well-being and integrity before God." ---- Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in his 2012 Advent letter to the Anglican Primates

Dear Brothers and Sisters
December 7, 2012

It came as no real surprise when the Presiding Bishop called to inform South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence this week that she and her council of advice had accepted his renunciation of ordained ministry.

Lawrence listened quietly but did not feel any need to argue or rebut her. "It is the Presiding Bishop's crossing of the T and doting of the I-for their paper work, not my life," he wrote in a letter to his diocese.

"Quite simply, I have not renounced my orders as a deacon, priest or bishop any more than I have abandoned the Church of Jesus Christ-But as I am sure you are aware, the Diocese of South Carolina has canonically and legally disassociated from The Episcopal Church. We took this action long before today's attempt at renunciation of orders, therein making it superfluous.

"So we move on-onward and upward. I write these words in the vesper light of this first Wednesday of Advent, the bells of the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul ring in the steeple beside the diocesan office, I remain the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina."

Is this the end of the matter? One doubts it. The next move will be what the national church does legally about the Diocesan property and who will lead the rump diocese of a dozen or so parishes. The next move on the ecclesiastical chess board is Jefferts Schori's.


The Oregon Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case of Hope Presbyterian Church of Rogue River v the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Presbytery of the Cascades of Oregon. The Court held that a denominational trust does not encumber parish property unless the parish takes an explicit action to place a trust or lien on the property on behalf of the denomination.

This ruling could nullify the Episcopal Church's Dennis Canon in its jurisdiction. Bishop Jack Iker and the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth filed a letter brief with the Texas Supreme Court reporting the Oregon Supreme Court's ruling in favor of "neutral principles of law" in adjudication church property disputes.

In an e-mail from the diocese, Suzanne Gill wrote, "Oregon becomes 38th state to adopt neutral principles. The state of Oregon has joined a majority of other states in support of the neutral principles approach to church property settlements, bringing the total nationwide to 38. In a Nov. 29 opinion resolving a Presbyterian church's dispute, the Oregon Supreme Court adopted neutral principles and vigorously supported the role of state-level trust laws for establishing property ownership. In light of this decision, our legal team has filed a letter brief with the Texas Supreme Court and updated our Bench Exhibit 1 of Oct. 16."


The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia announced a slate of four nominees to stand for election as the diocese's sixth bishop and one of them is from New Zealand. The nominees are:

The Very Rev. Mark Bourlakas, 49, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Louisville, Kentucky; The Rev. Jeanne Finan, 62, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Asheville, North Carolina; The Rev. Gail Greenwell, 57, rector of St. Michael and All Angels in Mission, Kansas; and The Rt. Rev. David Rice, 51, bishop of the Diocese of Waiapu in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.


PEARUSA bishops, those bishops under the Anglican Province of Rwanda, are now united to the Anglican Church in North America. Bishop Steve Breedlove is already seated in the ACNA College of Bishops with two other bishops shortly joining him. One is Terrell Glenn and the other is Thad Barnum. They will be welcomed in at their January meeting in Orlando.

It is becoming manifestly clear that the ACNA is the elephant in the Anglican sacristy, sanctuary, and, in some cases, the cathedral. They cannot be ignored. Perhaps some of those parishes in the Diocese of South Carolina might consider a move in that direction. They would be welcome, I'm sure. The bigger question and, as yet, unanswered is whether the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, an evangelical, will recognize the ACNA. That would be a huge step forward. Never has there been a time in the last eight years when things have looked so good for evangelicals in the communion. A new day is dawning for them.


The chairman of the Anglican Mission in the Americas chairman Chuck Murphy announced this week that he will form a new church plant out of the ashes of the split vote at All Saints Pawleys Island where a majority chose to leave the AMIA and join with the ACNA. He was the original pastor who built it into one of the largest Anglican churches in the US.

In an inaugural newsletter, dated December 1 (the Feast of Nicholas Ferrar), Murphy wrote supporters saying it is now time to "set sail" and launch a new church that might also become a "celebrated Christian community."

In a recent vote of the members of the All Saints parish, 322 voted to join ACNA and 229 voted in favor of joining the Anglican Mission in the Americas Society for Mission and Apostolic Works.

What is sad about this is that there is already a parish in Pawleys Island. Grace Church Anglican -- Waccamaw -- an AMiA congregation already in Pawley's Island. The question is why the need for a new church plant if there are those who preferred to remain with AMiA rather than go into ACNA. They could have gone over to Grace.

These splits seem to serve very little purpose except to bring discredit on the need for a unified Anglicanism in North America. One hopes we don't end up like the situation which began in 1977 among Anglo-Catholics. It would be a crying shame.


The saga of St. Mary of the Angels in Hollywood seems to be winding down. On Dec. 2 the first Sunday in Advent, they reopened their doors with 30 parishioners in attendance. Fr. Nicholas Taylor has been brought in to serve as curate for St Mary's for a period of time. He's now living in the cottage on the property since Fr. Kelley was removed, a source told VOL Kelley was deposed by ACA Bishop Strawn last week. He is no longer has standing as a priest in the ACA. Kelley said has he plans to take his flock into the Ordinariate. The Superior Court dismissed Fr. Kelley's case against the ACA, Diocese of the West and other individuals stating he had no standing to bring the action in the courts.


Members of the Church of England's "parliament" this week attempted to oust one of its most senior figures following the defeat of legislation to allow women bishops.

In a dramatic move, members of the General Synod's House of Laity secretly called an emergency meeting so they could hold a vote of no confidence in their Chair, Dr. Philip Giddings, who spoke forcefully against the reform.

They believe that, if Giddings is forced out, the move could help Church leaders get around the rules and bring back the legislation before a new Synod is elected in three years.

The debacle, which was condemned by David Cameron and MPs, has sparked bitter recriminations within the Church and left incoming Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, facing a crisis.

Much of the anger has focused on the lay members because the legislation fell by only six votes in their section of the Synod, which is made up of three Houses: bishops, clergy and laity.


Conservative Evangelicals are calling for the appointment of a bishop to minister to their community. VOL's London Correspondent, James Ramsey writes that one of the first of many tasks awaiting the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, when he takes up office in early 2013, will be the appointment of a new Provincial Episcopal Visitor (PEV) or Flying Bishop for the See of Ebbsfleet, one of the suffragan sees in his own new Diocese of Canterbury.

The General Synod of the Church of England passed an Act of Synod in 1993 which created three PEVs, one for the smaller province of York, and two for the province of Canterbury, to minister to those parishes and clergy unable to accept the ministry of women priests. The vast majority of parishes which have opted into the PEV scheme from the beginning are robustly Anglo-Catholic, although it was not devised solely with them in mind.

Conservative Evangelical parishes have been much slower to adopt a PEV, partly because of their different understanding of episcopacy, and partly because there has been a deep-rooted suspicion that the whole thing was designed only for Anglo-Catholics. Those suspicions have been reinforced by succeeding Archbishops, who have appointed only Anglo-Catholics hitherto to the three PEV Sees.

You can read the full story in today's digest.


The former rector of the nation's largest Episcopal church has become a Roman Catholic. The Rev. Larry Gipson was dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham from 1982-94. Gipson retired in 2008 from the 8,000-member St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, where his parishioners included former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara. Last month, Gipson was accepted as a Catholic into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a structure set up by Pope Benedict XVI to accept former Anglicans into the Catholic Church. "The nature of authority in the Catholic Church is what attracted me to it," Gipson said.

"After I retired, I was concerned and had been for many years about the Episcopal Church's authority structure."

Gipson will be among 69 candidates for Catholic priesthood attending a formation retreat this weekend in Houston at the Ordinariate's headquarters. Among those leading seminars at the Formation Retreat in Houston will be the Rev. Jon Chalmers, who was ordained a Catholic priest in June, the second former Episcopal cleric to be accepted as a priest under the ordinariate. His wife, Margaret Chalmers, former canon lawyer for the Catholic Diocese of Birmingham and now chancellor of the ordinariate, will also be a presenter at the weekend retreat.


Episcopal Bishop-elect Douglas Fisher of Western Massachusetts will keep the diocese on the same trajectory as his predecessor Bishop Scruton. "At the general convention in July the convention approved a liturgical rite for the blessing of same sex unions. Bishop Scruton and I put a letter out there right after that saying we give the Episcopal clergy of the Diocese of Western Mass. permission to perform these ceremonies. But at the same time, that's not marriage. What I'll be doing in the next couple of years is having dialogue about that with clergy and church leaders, knowing that there are people of good will on both sides of this."

For the record, the number of baptized in the diocese has dropped from 20,682 in 2000 to 16,000, a loss of 16%. ASA has gone from 7,295 to 5189 during that time, a net loss of 26.6%. Don't look for a turnaround. God will never honor what he has forbidden.


According to N. Kurt Barnes, Episcopal Church Treasurer, the Episcopal Church trust funds have experienced annual net returns after fees and expenses of 8.2% annually for the past 10 years ending September 30, 2012. Barnes made the announcement at the recent meeting of the Executive Council's Investment Committee in St. Louis, MO.

"This performance compares favorably with that of many larger endowment funds in the country," noted T. Dennis Sullivan, chair of the Investment Committee and past president of the Church Pension Group. "It reflects the dedication and wise deliberation of volunteers, staff, professional investment managers and consultants."

The performance of the trust funds is an important source of funding for the General Convention Budget. In recent years, dividends from the trusts have represented nearly one-third of the revenue available for the church wide mission, Barnes noted.


St. Stephen's Anglican Church, the first and only Anglican Church in the city of New Orleans will be the lead church in support of a mission for the Super Bowl there on Feb. 3rd. This mission is a project put on by Sports Fan Outreach International. This organization of Anglicans, based in Atlanta, has run a mission at each of the last eight Super Bowls. They have been effective for players and fans alike and have grown each year. Their headquarters this year will be at the Hotel Monteleone. St. Stephen's will provide Creole gumbo and other nourishments at the Headquarters, and make its chapel available for several services of the mission up to game time. All this while Mardi Gras is in full swing. Praise the Lord, says Dr. David W. Aiken, Sr. an activist layman in the church.


A quip from Damian Thompson at the Telegraph in his version of Viewpoints says this. "Now Catholics are in crisis. The Church of England has made a terrific hash of this women bishops thing, as both the outgoing and incoming Archbishops of Canterbury would be the first to agree. Every Anglican knows it, too. The crisis in the English Catholic Church, in contrast, is unknown to anyone outside a small circle. But it's real, and it's serious.

"To cut a long story short, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the Papal Nuncio to Britain, appears to have fallen out with the bishops of England and Wales and especially their leader, Archbishop Vincent Nichols. I've been offered two explanations. First, Nichols allows 'gay Masses' in Soho, which Rome loathes. Second, foot-dragging over the Ordinariate for ex-Anglicans has annoyed the Pope.

"The bishops should watch out. The Nuncio is ready to break up the 'Magic Circle' of ambitious liberals who twist the Vatican's arm over senior appointments. Also, Nichols has been kept waiting an awfully long time for his cardinal's hat, and people are beginning to wonder why..."


In Melbourne, Australia, a female priest was named Queensland's first woman bishop. The Venerable Alison Taylor, Melbourne's archdeacon for international partnerships and vicar of St. John's Anglican Church Camberwell, has been appointed to lead the Southern Region of the Diocese of Brisbane as Queensland's first woman bishop.

She will succeed incumbent Bishop Geoff Smith, who will serve as general manager of the Brisbane diocese from early next year.


IN CANADA, The college council of the College of Emmanuel & St. Chad in Saskatoon announced that it will shut its doors at the end of the coming academic year. It voted to suspend operations at the end of June, 2013. College council president Bishop James Njegovan of Brandon said the decision to close had been made in light of the "current financial condition of the college, the ongoing decline in student enrolment, and the current and projected costs of operating the college."

In 2006 the college, the official accredited theological college for the ecclesiastical province of Rupert's Land, sold its buildings to the University of Saskatchewan and has been renting space from a Lutheran chapel and has been seeking to develop additional programs to make up for the sharp decline of ordinands in training. However, the college council reported the school was unable to continue to operate with a deficit and must shut its doors.

The announcement comes amidst a worsening financial picture for the Anglican Church of Canada (ACA). In a speech to members of the synod of the ecclesiastical province of Canada last week in Montreal, Archbishop Fred Hiltz reported the ACA was running a deficit of C$900,000 after the first two quarters of 2012.

IN OTHER CANADA NEWS, the long time church building of ANiC's Church of the Messiah (Ottawa, ON) now houses a Diocese of Montreal (Anglican Church of Canada) ministry to the homeless. The renovations needed to accommodate this ministry in the 145-year-old building cost a million dollars, according to the Ottawa Citizen. Centre 454, which provides a safe space for people in Ottawa who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, started its life in that basement in 1976, but moved to 216 Murray St. in 2000.

One wonders why the Anglican Church of Canada that is so fascinated by social action and so little concern for the souls of people doesn't just turn all its dying church properties over to the Salvation Army and let them run them. At least the occupiers would hear the gospel, which is more than can be said for your average ACoC parish on any given Sunday.

As if to make the point that things are going from bad to worse, the bishop of the Diocese of Quebec has authorized his clergy to perform rites for the blessing of same-sex unions even while that diocese is fast going out of business with shrinking congregations and more. Opponents of the motion at their recent Diocesan Convention argued the adoption of rites for the blessing of same-sex unions was un-Scriptural and placed the diocese at odds with the mind of the larger Anglican Communion. However, opponents were able to muster only 10 votes out of the approximately 70 delegates present.

In other Canadian news, the editor of the Anglican Journal resigned this week. Kristin Jenkins has accepted the position of director of advancement for Albert College, Canada's oldest co-educational boarding and day school in Belleville, Ont. The editor of the Anglican Journal, the national newspaper of the Anglican Church of Canada, has announced her resignation effective Jan. 7, 2013. One wonders what the future of the Journal itself will be when the money dries up even further. One wonders if the whole church has much of a future. Will there be an Anglican Church of Canada ten years from now? One thing is for sure, the upstart Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) is on a roll. They have a new Presiding Bishop, Charlie Masters. He succeeds Don Harvey who did an excellent job bringing the ANiC into existence and linking it to the ACNA.


Senior CofE bishops regret the UK failure to back Palestinian statehood. Two senior bishops, one Anglican and one Catholic, have written a public letter to Foreign Secretary William Hague urging fresh thinking about Israel-Palestine.

The Rt. Rev Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter and the Church of England's lead bishop on international affairs, along with the Rt. Rev. Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton and chair of the department for International affairs for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, describe the UK government's recent decision to abstain from supporting the Palestinian bid for non-member observer state status at the United Nations as "regrettable".

They write: "the Palestinian bid to upgrade its status at the UN represented a legitimate and creative non-violent attempt at breaking the current political impasse. As such, it deserved wide support."


Another confused liberal? The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams and the Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome are delighted to announce their appointment of the Most Reverend David Moxon as the Archbishop of Canterbury's Representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Archbishop David Moxon is currently the Bishop of Waikato, Senior Bishop of the New Zealand Dioceses, and an Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. He succeeds the Very Rev. Canon David Richardson, previously Dean of Melbourne and of Adelaide (Australia). Canon Richardson will retire at Easter, and Archbishop Moxon will take up his appointment in the early summer. He will remain co-chairman of ARCIC.


This week The Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, announced the 24 members of the special Task Force for Church Structural Reform.

Approved at the July General Convention 2012, Resolution C095 calls for development of a 24-member task force charged with presenting a plan to the next General Convention in 2015 "for reforming the Church's structures, governance, and administration.

"We are delighted at the collection of gifts that have been offered for this work, and overjoyed at the constellation assembled in this task force," commented Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. "We pray that God's creative spirit will be unleashed in the midst of this work to move us into God's future with excitement, openness, and commitment to the opportunities before us."

The problem with TEC is not its structure, but its lack of a coherent message. You can have all the modern inclusive liturgies you like, promote pansexuality to all levels of the church, but none of these things will ever make churches grow. You need a gospel that challenges the status quo and the culture. If you don't, then stay in bed with the New York Times on Sunday morning.


The Scottish Episcopal Church is following The Episcopal Church Process for discussion of same sex relationships. The College of Bishops at its last meeting discussed a number of issues around the subject of same sex relationships. It was aware that the Faith and Order Board would, in due course, be responding to the Scottish Government Bill on same sex marriage. Developments in the area of same sex relationships are ones which the Church needs to discuss in its own way and in its own time. A linked question is how the SEC sees itself in relation to the Anglican Communion following the decision of General Synod in June this year not to adopt the Anglican Covenant. The tone of debate at General Synod evinced continuing warmth towards the Anglican Communion and it is clear that the existing companionship links between Scottish dioceses and others in the Communion are highly valued. The Continuing Indaba project within the Communion comprises a resource which could be drawn on to enable discussion across difference. The College of Bishops intends to invite the Mission and Ministry Board to consider designing a process to enable consideration of matters concerning same sex relationships. Such matters are complex ones for the Church to consider since they give rise to a range of strongly held views. Such a process would enable conversation and discussion to take place across a range of places and people in an atmosphere where time can be taken for careful consideration of the matters in question. The Bishops envisage that such a process itself is likely to take some time. At this point in our life, it would represent a broadening of the concept of the Provincial Conference. It is hoped that in designing such a process, it may be possible to draw on Anglican Communion resources and perhaps involve one or more of our companion dioceses as a means of including a Communion aspect to our discussions.


The Diocese of Uruguay has been thwarted in its attempt to switch provinces. They are part of the Southern Cone, but they wanted to join the ultra liberal Episcopal Province of Brazil.

A source told VOL that Uruguay will not be given permission to switch, but it is being encouraged to work it out in the Southern Cone. The Southern Cone will continue its trajectory towards two provinces. The fact that Uruguay wants a liberal province makes no headway as it would allow other dioceses to switch - as some in or ex TEC would like to do. The Standing committee said no to the request and has proposed other plans that allow for another election and that then must go to the Province for approval.

The liberal Canadian wannabee bishop Archdeacon Michael Pollesel, former general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, was elected in that process but failed to get approval. He was not ratified by the province. Apparently the rest of the Province is just tired of Uruguay wanting to go its own way, regardless of any sense of right or wrong. They have whined too often, said the source.

The diocese had appealed a transfer to the ACC Standing Committee this past July. Formerly, it requested permission to leave the province. The request was denied. Uruguay has been part of the Southern Cone since its formation in 1988. The Southern Cone also includes dioceses in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Peru.


In Abuja, Nigeria this week, the Primate of All Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, dismissed calls in some quarters for Churches in the country to be mandated to pay taxes to the government. Okoh said at the 2012 Carnival for Christ, organized by the Abuja Diocese of the Anglican Communion.

The Carnival for Christ is an annual gathering of the various archdeaconries in the diocese to praise and worship God. The Primate said Churches in the country were contributing immensely to the growth of the economy through their programs and activities by engaging many unemployed youths.


This week we put out our annual appeal for funds to take us into the New Year. Please consider a tax deductible donation as part of your end of year giving. It is vitally important as we watch the Anglican Communion leadership move from an Affirming Catholic leader to an Evangelical one. We do need your help to carry on. PLEASE make a donation. Every contribution counts, even small gifts are appreciated. Our address is:

1236 Waterford Rd.,
West Chester, PA 19380

Or you can make a donation at VOL's PAYPAL link

If you would like to set up your own foundation to support VOL and the charitable efforts you believe in then click here and see how you can contribute:

For more stories and to access one of the most comprehensive archives of the Anglican Communion, go here:

You can invite a friend to join and receive VOL's free weekly digest of stories. Drop me a line at and we'll add their names.

If you are looking for a free theological education, go to VOL's Global Anglican Theological Institute (GATI) to join up:

Thank you for your support.

Warmly in Christ,


comments powered by Disqus

Popular Posts


Subscribe to VOL's Weekly News Digest

Setup your own foundation

to support VOL and the

charitable efforts you believe in.

All Saints' parish seeks full-time parish priest.

APA Diocese of the West

Lead young families
Orthodox, 1928 BCP

Search Committee
P.O. Box 1545
Prescott, AZ 86302


Suburban Philadelphia
On the Mainline

Worship with us:
Sundays at 4:00pm.

210 S. Wayne Ave, Wayne, PA

Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee

Drink Coffee

Do Good

Sustainable Ministry

Coffee, Community, Social Justice

St. Dunstan parish seeks full-time rector.

ACA Diocese of the Missouri Valley

Family-sized church
Orthodox, 1928 BCP
Anglican Missal

Tara Keehr

Go To Top