Monday, February 21, 2011
SFIF blogger Matt Kennedy posts the letter all the Pittsburgh clergy received from Bp Duncan last week and then he offers his comments on it. I agree with him fully. Probably what disturbs me the most about the St Philip's and the Somerset settlements is the fact that two of our parishes have placed us in a more difficult situation than we had been in for what they see as their own best self-interest. They have allowed TEC to use them to set a precidence that can now be used against us. The Soviets used to call people like these "useful idiots".
Attached is a letter describing an agreement made by Somerset Anglican Fellowship with the TEC Diocese. Some of you have already read about this in the newspaper or received an email; many of you have communicated with me your concerns that there might be many “secret deals” being made which will leave many congregations “on their own.” Here is some information about the agreement, and our current situation, that we thought it would be helpful for you to know.
1) Somerset Anglican Fellowship negotiated this settlement without the input or approval of the Diocese. In fact, we have reason to believe that the lawyer representing SAF advised them not to inform the Anglican diocese. We are very concerned that a congregation thought itself to be so in jeopardy as to necessitate secret legal action.
2) St. Stephen’s, Sewickley and Church of the Savior, Ambridge have consulted legal counsel with regard to individual settlements with the TEC Diocese. Both parishes informed the Anglican Diocese at the time and both parishes have decided not to participate in any settlement without the involvement of the Diocese.
3) To the best of our knowledge, there are no other parishes which are unilaterally attempting to make a settlement with the TEC diocese.
4) The Anglican Diocese remains committed to finding the best solution for each of its parishes in light of the recent legal decisions. We also continue to hope for and look for some kind of settlement that would benefit all of our congregations.
5) Please do not hesitate to email or call Canon Mary, Geoff Chapman (Chair of the Standing Committee) or Jonathan Millard (Standing Committee member) or me if you have further questions or concerns.
In light of these very serious developments, I feel compelled to issue a godly directive to all of the clergy of the diocese not to engage in, conduct, or conclude negotiations without first discussing such actions with me, or with Canon Mary, and with our chancellor.
The Most Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan
I think this is an unfortunate but necessary admonition. Having been through litigation, I certainly understand and think it often necessary to settle at some point. But no Christian church should enter into a settlement in which the Episcopal Church dictates a congregation's ecclesiastical loyalties and commitments. We should be willing to lose our property and assets and all things before giving in to such demands from heretics. Christ alone ought to be given the sort of authority that some churches seem to be willing to give to Episcopal Church in order to save their buildings. The very reason we have chosen to leave the Episcopal Church is so that we might worship God in freedom and truth. These egregious settlements compromise both.
And what is more it is a compromise made at just a time when TEC has had to change tactics because their previous slash and burn policy was producing so much internal and external backlash. With this new tactic, the TEC, if we allow them, will continue to rake in some cash, damage competing orthodox dioceses, and falsely present themselves as the defeated parish's benefactors. The only reason this tactic has succeeded so far and the only way it can continue to succeed is if orthodox congregations count their physical properties and assets so dear that they are willing to cooperate with heretics and relinquish Christian allegiances in order to save them.