April 14, 2005

Dear Bishop Andrew and Brothers and Sisters of the Standing Committee,

We, the undersigned, write to you out of the deepest grief and concern for our beloved Episcopal Church, and specifically for those within the Diocese of Connecticut who are now under threat of deposition as clergy, removal as lay leaders, or reduction to mission status as congregations.

We ask in all sincerity how you can suggest they have abandoned the Communion? Neither these clergy nor their laity have ordained contrary to the received teaching (not only of Lambeth but of the whole Christian Church). They have not voted for the innovation represented by the New Hampshire consecration or for the blessing of same sex unions as “within” our practice. They have not laid hands in consecration despite the unanimous call of the Primates not to do so.

The clergy and people of the six parishes now in sustained conflict with you are in full communion with us. They preach and teach what the Anglican Communion preaches and teaches. They preach and teach what we preach and teach. It would be impossible for us to recognize any inhibition or deposition imposed upon them.

We understand that the standoff between the Bishop and Standing Committee and these clergy and their congregations has, in part, to do with Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight. Was it also the case that financial demands were tied to any possible provision of such care, stipulations we find absent from the plan our House agreed? In any case, did not “Caring for All the Churches” stipulate the possibility of provincial appeal? How did that appeal go forward?

What are we to do? We have agreed as bishops not to cross diocesan boundaries. But was not this moratorium based on other moratoria being observed as well, and on the maintenance of status quo as regards actions against the conservative minority? Were not the commitments we made to one another at the March meeting of the House of Bishops also based on the assumption of the functioning of the Panel of Reference, called for by the Primates in February 2005? And was it not notification of their intent to appeal to the Panel of Reference by the six parishes, given by letter to the Bishop of Connecticut, that immediately precipitated the threat of inhibition and deposition of the clergy of those parishes?

We also ask: was Title IV, Canon 10, intended to be used against clergy who have resolutely maintained their commitment to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, as these clergy have? What about due process and right to ecclesiastical trials, both of which are denied when this Canon on Abandonment of Communion is used in this way? Who is it that has abandoned the Communion?

This is a painful letter for us to write. We pose much of this letter as questions. Is there some way to head off the terrible confrontation that now appears inevitable, not only in Connecticut, but also among us bishops? Please know that we are more than eager to be part of the resolution of this crisis in every appropriate way.

“The whole world is watching”, as we used to observe in the sixties. We do not seem to be commending the faith that is in us in any way that the watching world can appreciate or fathom. Whatever shall we do to reverse the course of the scandal that besets us?

Faithfully in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman
Bishop of Quincy

The Rt. Rev. David Bena
Suffragan Bishop of Albany

The Rt. Rev. James Adams
Bishop of Western Kansas

The Rt. Rev. Stephen Jecko
Assisting Bishop of Dallas

The Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith
Bishop of Springfield

The Rt. Rev. Henry Scriven
Assistant Bishop of Pittsburgh

The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan
Bishop of Pittsburgh

The Rt. Rev. William Skilton
Suffragan Bishop of South Carolina

The Rt. Rev. Bertram Herlong
Bishop of Tennessee
{Yay!!! Hurrah, Hurrah!!}

The Rt. Rev. Daniel Herzog
Bishop of Albany

The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe
Bishop of Central Florida

The Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth

The Rt. Rev. Terrence Kelshaw
Bishop of Rio Grande

The Rt. Rev. Edward Salmon
Bishop of South Carolina

The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield
Bishop of San Joaquin

The Rt. Rev. James Stanton
Bishop of Dallas

The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey Steenson
Bishop Coadjutor of Rio Grande