The Time Has Come for Our Departure

March 28, 2010

St. Paul wrote:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season;reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist,fulfill your ministry.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there islaid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me onthat Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

This morning at 7.15 am the Vestry of St. Andrew’s Church ~ Mt. Pleasant met and unanimously passed the following resolution:

RESOLVED that the resolution unanimously adopted by the Vestry on March 28, 2010 for this church corporation, parish, and congregation to withdraw from and sever all ties with The Episcopal Church in the United States and to transfer its canonical residence to the Anglican Church in North America or another province of the worldwide Anglican Communion be ratified by the members of this church corporation.

The Parish then met in a Special Meeting at 12.15 pm for the purpose of ratifying and concurring with this decision of the Vestry to withdraw from The Episcopal Church.

The preliminary vote results will be posted at the receptionist’s desk in the lobby of the Ministry Center by 2.00 pm, Monday, 29 March 2010.  The certified results will be posted at the same location by 3.00 pm, 2 April 2010,  for a period of one week.

I will offer a bit of commentary tomorrow once the preliminary vote results are made known.

In the meantime, thank you for your prayer, your words of encouragement, your courage and your willingness to stand firm and complete the task given us to complete.  I am humbled by your friendship, blessed to be the Rector of this fine Parish, and committed to seeing the Kingdom of God come here in our midst.

With love and prayers,

Steve

41 responses to The Time Has Come for Our Departure

  1. There is a word that is not supposed to be said until after Easter, so since I can’t say that . . . I will, with utmost reverence, say, “Amen.” I regret we didn’t get out votes in, but – in spirit – there are two more for our departure to ACNA to the tally.

  2. I have no doubt that God will bless SAMP, but it is still sad. We left the Episcopal Church when our orthodox rector was replaced by a revisionist and I couldn’t expose my kids to the lies of the TEClub. I miss the church of my youth. You can’t go home. The best is yet to come.

  3. I understand your decision. I respect and honor your prayerful process. I hope now that you will all invest the money that you are putting aside for the lawsuits into a new building so that the impending collateral damage to the rest of the diocese will be lessened. God bless you on your journey. I envy your future freedom from the mess. May Jesus light your way.

  4. End of an era. Now for a new one!

  5. Well done.

  6. God bless you and keep you safe and bold!

  7. Welcome to the clean air!

  8. Prayers for your congregation. What a pity for TEC if they lose you, but what a blessing to be free.

  9. Carolina Anglican March 28, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Congratulations. It is a difficult move, but God will bless you and now you can move forward in mission! I hope the rest of the diocese joins you.

  10. Welcome in advance to the ACNA family. May God bless you richly in this courageous stand.

  11. This announcement brought tears to my eyes and prayers for the future of Saint Andrews. I, too, say “May God Bless you richly in this courageous stand.”

  12. Welcome. ACNA is a great place. We have always loved worshipping at SAMP. God Bless all of you.

  13. Very good

  14. God bless you

  15. David,

    Resolution R-2 from Friday’s Diocesan Convention declares that the Presiding Bishop has no canonical authority to retain legal counsel in the Diocese of S.C.

    Resolution R-4 from Friday’s Diocesan Convention gives canonical authority to the Bishop of the Diocese to negotiate amicable settlements between departing parishes and the Diocese. Resolution R-4 also implicitly denies the Presiding Bishop the authority to demand legal action.

    All this to say, that the actions of this Diocese on Friday give the Bishop the freedom to negotiate a friendly and pastoral departure. Since the Bishop has already declared publicly he would not litigate against departing parishes, why then would St. Andrews need money for the court room? That is unless the Presiding Bishop oversteps her authority and begins legal action contrary to the wishes of the Diocesan head. Will you suggest that Bishop Lawrence and the Diocese use their legal defense funds to buy new property rather than defend their canonical sovereignty? As of Friday, those are the stakes.

    Your point on collateral damage is well taken, however let me gently suggest it is simply more of the same weak medicine that got us here in the first place. For fear of collateral damage (whatever incarnation that takes with the speaker), we have allowed things to trundle on much further than any of us anticipated. As for me, I’m not generally worried about collateral damage from St. Andrews. I’m far more concerned that our low tolerance for pain and discomfort will only cause the Gospel to be further compromised in this church.

    much love,
    Rob

  16. God bless you in your decision and courage to take a stand. Your decision is a shining light for the true Gospel.

  17. Free at last. Great God Almighty, we are indeed free at last. It is hard to believe this day has finally come. No longer are we part of a church whose presiding bishop says that if one has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then you’re a heretic. Thank you to our vestry and to Steve for prayerful and careful guidance on this voyage.

  18. Good news!

  19. I like it!

  20. Very good.

  21. Praise God!

  22. What a shame…

  23. Yes, it definitely has; doing the right thing is rarely the easy thing to do.

  24. Good news!

  25. Dear Dave and Rob,

    I am sure Steve will address these two posts tomorrow in his commentary after the preliminary votes are posted, but the following two links to the letters by Rev. Terrell Glenn of All Saints, Pawleys AMiA, and Rev. Ed Kelaher of All Saints Waccamaw should provide even more significant news pertaining to the reasons why these issues are moot points. If you have not read them, I commend them to you.

    http://treadinggrain.com/2010/letter-to-parish-from-all-saints-pawleys-amia/

    http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/25800

  26. Put on the whole armor of God. May He keep you under His wing.

  27. Truth Unites… and Divides March 28, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Definitely within God’s Will.

    Peace and blessings.

  28. We’ve been there…….and never regretted our decision…. may you all feel that peace too!!!

  29. May God bless you as you take this bold move and may his kingdom grow. I will be praying for you as I am sure many others will be.

  30. God bless your courageous step. When God directs, we must follow. Be Blessed.

  31. “From heresy and schism–Good Lord, deliver us.”

  32. You have a curious definition of schism, Patriarch – as well as an grossly lacking understanding of history regarding both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church.
    We remain a part of the Anglican Communion. TEC is increasingly separating itself from the Anglican Communion. So, if the hand, TEC, seeks to cut itself off from the body, the Anglican Communion, and one of the fingers wishes to remain attached to the body rather than the dying and rotting appendage, that is schism?
    Very curious thought process Patriarch.

  33. “From heresy and schism–Good Lord, deliver us.” It seems hard to be delivered from heresy right now w/o some superficial form of schism. I’m pretty convinced that the New Testament is much more concerned with heresy than schism. Good Lord, deliver us.

  34. Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

    While I think you are making a seriously ill-informed decision, I do respect that you believe your ministry to be hindered by your historic association with the Episcopal Church and that this is split is necessary to better fulfill your call to serve Our Lord.

    However, there are two postings on here that are somewhat misleading and require some clarification.

    The Anglican Communion is not “Church” like Roman Catholicism, nor is it a “body” like the U.N. Anglicanism is a tradition defined mostly by its theology and forms of worship, grounded in the Church of England in the 1500’s.

    The Anglican Communion is simply a collection of 39 VERY diverse provinces around the world that have descended from that tradition. Membership in the Communion is determined by receiving a once-in-a-decade invitation to a conference held at the palace of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    While it is accurate to claim that an independent St. Andrew’s could consider itself part of the Anglican tradition, it can not be a part of the Communion unless it is part of one of the 39 provinces. Individual parishes can not belong to the Communion nor does the ACNA since it is not a province nor has its leader ever been invited to the palace across the Pond.

    Today many people see the Communion as an impotent relic of British colonialism, with quarreling egotistical primates jockeying for attention and power.

    That’s probably an overly harsh assessment, but what you will find is that the juice in the Communion comes from the two provinces in North America — the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church. Together they are the largest financial contributors, and provide more missionary and programmatic resources to the member provinces than any others (nearly half, as matter of fact.)

    If you are trying to get away from what Steve describes as a diseased body part, you won’t do it by embracing the Anglican Communion.

    2. Rob Sturdy is a wonderful preacher but lousy lawyer. The Diocese of South Carolina has no legal ability to limit the legal right of the Episcopal Church or the authority of its General Convention to act to protect its interests.

    Like the ill-fated Ordinance of Nullification in the early 1800s, a Diocesan convention can not circumvent the national Constitution and Canons any more than a state can ignore a Federal law it dislikes.

    Bishop Lawrence can negotiate whatever deals he wants with departing parishes, but if that deal is arguably not in the best interest of the Episcopal Church, its leadership has an obligation to act to invalidate such a deal.

    No resolutions passed at a diocesan convention can alter that, and nothing passed in Summerville last Friday changes any of the dynamics that St. Andrew’s will now have to navigate if it wants to retain what is legally Church property.

    The resolutions passed at the Diocesan Convention are largely meaningless in restricting the ability of the wider Church to hire attorneys or pursue its legal obligations.

    If St. Andrew’s wants to retain its property and avoid legal challenges from the wider Church, its leaders should negotiate a financial settlement with the Diocese that can be considered fair to the Diocese, the parish, and the Episcopal Church.

    Godspeed to all of you, and may you find peace wherever you end up.

  35. I’m not going to hide behind a user name, so I’ll say what I have to say. I should preface my comments by expressing that I wish, during Holy Week, that I could find myself as charitable over this rash action as our faithful bishop. For all the santimonious talk coming from those who support this move, I hardly see how pulling the rug out from under every other orthodox parish in this diocese–not to mention our bishop–can be considered edifying to the body of Christ. What happens when your new “bishop,” having been selected buffet-style, does something not to your liking? Will you bolt once again? The manner in which the now former parish that insists on styling itself St Andrews thumbed its nose like a recalcitrant child at Bishop Lawrence after the efforts he’s made on all of our behalf is nothing less than shameful. Not even one week after the happy conclusion of the situation in Pawleys Island, you’ve now put Bishop Lawrence right back in the same sticky wicket and threatened the tenuous stability gained by the amicable settlement. I don’t believe that Christ shares any of your delight over these fresh wounds that you’ve caused his body. Ironic that your rector conveniently ignored St Paul’s charge for patience in the passage he quoted. My understanding was that there was a sort of a gentlemen’s agreement between the parishes of the Diocese of South Carolina that we would follow–as a body–its duly authorized bishop, in keeping with episcopal discipline, before making any such changes in our relationship with The Episcopal Church. I see no patience here.

  36. Brian,

    Let be begin by thanking you for your forthrightness. It has been rare that critics have had the courage of their convictions to speak unmasked. Next, let me suggest that your comment is woefully lacking in knowledge of fact, theology and ecclesiology.

    First, this was hardly a “rash action.” The issues SAMP has had with the theological drift of TEC began in the mid-90’s. By 1999 the rector, Terrell Glen, had departed and the exodus from our pews had begun (beginning just after General Convention 1997). From that time through today we’ve lost approximately 600 faithful attenders/givers/participants. To put that into perspective, those 600 would comprise a top-five best attended parish in this diocese were they a parish. They also reflect loss giving in excess of $500,000, not to mention the significant loss of ministry and parish leadership. Frustrated with our patience adn the deliberative process we engaged as a parish and member of this diocese, many of these good people ended up at Seacoast, East Cooper Baptist and, more recently, a sizable number have departed to help plant St. Peter’s Church AMiA here in Mt. Pleasant. Ten years ago, the vestry of SAMP, in its parish profile for the successor to +Terrell, forthrightly inquired of every potential candidate their willingness to remove SAMP from TEC. Were you not willing, you were not a candidate.

    Secondly, our previous bishop, +Ed Salmon was quite aware of the struggle of SAMP to remain within TEC. The then bishop and I had numerous personal conversations, as did he with our vestry. One of the consequences of those discussions was the establishment of a foundation to hold any acquired properties and to receive monies from individuals whose conscience would not permit their giving to a TEC associated parish.

    Thirdly, as a member of the Standing Committee during the episcopal search process as well as a candidate for bishop of SC, it was very clear in both arenas that the next bishop of SC must be willing to remove the diocese from TEC. The Rev’d Greg Kronz, as chair of the Search Committee caught quite a bit of heat during the process for the narrow path they walked with regard to candidates. This was a primary factor for St. Andrew’s continued participation in the life of the diocese at that time. It was our hope that the entire diocese would depart as a whole. Strategically, it would have been to our selfish benefit to have departed during this interregnum. However, it was not – and is not – our wish to harm harm this diocese or disrupt its life beyond what would/will naturally occur with our departure.

    Fourthly, I was very clear and direct with both of the other candidates for bishop, Ellis Brust+ and +Mark Lawrence, during the candidating process that SAMP was struggling to remain within TEC, that we were hoping for the departure of the diocese as a whole, and that short of that we would almost certainly departing as a parish in the not too distant future. I had this conversation, again, with then bishop-elect Mark Lawrence over breakfast prior to a clergy day hosted by SAMP in December 2006.

    Fifthly, as then bishop-elect +Lawrence’s consent process failed to return the necessary consents this diocese was placed in a very vulnerable position- and would remain so until January of 2008 when +Lawrence, having received the necessary consents in round two would be consecrated bishop. Selfishly, this would have been an opportune time for us to act as the absence of leadership would have benefitted our parish. However, recognizing the vulnerability of the diocese we chose not only to remain, but increase our participation in the life of this diocese by many offering ourselves to both elected office and volunteer ministry positions.

    Sixthly, having been the very model of patience and restraint, SAMP has increasingly recognized that this bishop has no intention of removing this diocese from TEC. While we can and do respect the conviction demonstrated by the bishop and leadership, we disagree most emphatically with this position. Dress it up anyway one wants but this “godly bishop” and “orthodox diocese” (to quote our outside critics) remain – organically, organizationally, ecclesiastically, ontologically – within TEC, thus placing itself under the spiritual headship of General Convention and the Presiding Bishop. That relationship was untenable for SAMP. As the bishop’s articulation of his conviction became more and more clear – and stated – we began a series of conversations with him over a period of the past 20 months. Thus, he knew, as did the chancellor and Standing Committee of this diocese, of our deep, deep struggle to remain associated with an organization that had so egregiously contradicted the faith revealed in both Scripture and tradition.

    Seventhly, our point of view and what we have done has never been done in secret or in some dark corner of the diocese. As the then largest parish in the diocese it was quite impossible to do anything quietly. We continued a practice of “cards on the table” in our communications. This was evident in our notification and rationale offered for the “40 Days of Discernment” this past fall. In our written communication – mailed to the parish and bishop and published on our parish website, my blog and communicated through press release to numerous media outlets we indicated, explicitly, that the discernment process would culminate in March of 2010 preferably after the Diocesan Convention so that we might be able to consider fully any and all developing matters within the diocese as a whole. Having done this, patiently, deliberatively and openly the leadership, and indeed the whole parish, concluded that the bishop means exactly what he had said with increasing clarity these past two years – that he has no intention of leading this diocese out of TEC. From our point of view his convention address and the actions of this convention reaffirmed this strategy of remaining in TEC by positioning this diocese for a defensive, rather than an initiatory, response to any actions taken by the national church against the Diocese of SC.

    Lastly, may I say that both the bishop/diocese and SAMP are acting upon deeply-held theological convictions and understandings. We find it an impossibility to separate the diocese from TEC, regardless of attempts at “differentiation” while it remains a constituent member of TEC. As organizations comprised of reasonable and reasoning adults, we knowingly and fully assume the consequences of our actions/inaction.

    Perhaps, Brian, this backstory will help you more adequately understand our point of view, our actions and our extreme patience exercised these many years. Know that we wish this diocese nothing but the best and, having set our face toward our Jerusalem this Holy Week we ask that you simply wish us God’s best in return.

    Kindly,
    Steve

  37. Dear Steve,

    I thank you for your very considered and generous response. Please forgive me for being uncharitable in my earlier post. I don’t argue the facts you present. I think we both look at those same facts and just arrive at different conclusions. The sad reality–no, on second thought the happy reality is that on the bigger picture we remain unified: in continuing in the faith once delivered and in the apostles’ teachings. I do have a strong conviction that we can–however tenuously–continue to serve Christ faithfully within the Episcopal Church. For how much longer…well, “we see through a glass darkly.” For some, I understand, that time comes more quickly than for others, but I can’t help but hold onto the firm conviction, based on my belief in apostolic authority–we are Anglican after all–that it is for us to follow our duly elected and consecrated bishop’s lead in this matter. I can’t see any other way but that the day will come when this diocese must withdraw–I pray not, but God’s will be done. So, we can respectfully agree to disagree in this regard. But I’m left with this thought:

    Though with a scornful wonder
    Men see her sore oppressed,
    By schisms rent asunder,
    By heresies distressed:
    Yet saints their watch are keeping,
    Their cry goes up, “How long?”
    And soon the night of weeping
    Shall be the morn of song!
    ’Mid toil and tribulation,
    And tumult of her war,
    She waits the consummation
    Of peace forevermore;
    Till, with the vision glorious,
    Her longing eyes are blest,
    And the great Church victorious
    Shall be the Church at rest.

    God’s blessings this Good Friday,

    Your brother in Christ,

    Bryan Hunter

  38. Thanks, Kate. I appreciate the sentiment and the prayers. Blessings.

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