[Arrived 10/8/97 off the Internet]
As the scenario below in Philadelphia begins to unfold, let us offer our prayers for the parishes involved, their rectors and officers. Let us pray that the bishops of the diocese repent of their evil ways. Church rules apply to all, but how ineffectively the church enforces its rules against wayward bishops!! But HOW SWIFT is the establishment in applying those rules against priests!!!!
SYNOD RECTORS MEET WITH PA BISHOPS.
BISHOPS DEMAND VISITATION RIGHTS.
RECTORS REJECT CALL..
By David W. Virtue
Eight rectors met with Pennsylvania's three bishops yesterday and were delivered a strong letter by the bishops demanding that "we are going to enforce our rights to come to your parishes" whether they liked it or not.
The rectors in reply told bishops Allen Bartlett, Charles Bennison and
Franklin Turner that they were not welcome and would face acts of "civil disobedience" if they turned up at their parish doors.
The bishops insist they have a right to come based on resolution 3.24.4 and the Synod rectors argued that based on resolution 3.28.4 they had already received visitation from fly-in Bishop Parsons who met the canonical requirement in May of this year. This was based on the pre-existing agreement the ESA rectors had with Bishop Bartlett.
"Based on what has already been canonically met and the three-year rule we would not expect a visit from Bishop Bartlett till May 2,000 when he has retired from the diocese," said David Rawson, ESA's national chancellor.
"Bishop Bartlett has never been to Church of the Good Shepherd in seven and a half years and now he wants to come. He waived his rights then and now he is up to some game he has not previously played that he was not doing his duty."
The bishops said they would contact the rectors shortly to schedule a date.
None of the rectors were available for comment and the Bishops office did not return calls.
But according to reports learned by this writer the pre-arranged meeting between the synod rectors and the bishops went "badly" and while there were no threats of depositions the forced visitations pose a serious threat to the rectors who are now faced with a number of options. Lawyers are being consulted.
Among the options talked about are having Pinkerton Guards show up to escort the bishop into the church but not allow him to speak. Allow the bishop to address an empty church. Lock the doors and refuse entry to the bishop. Have the parish hold a service concurrently with the bishop's outside or elsewhere.
Earlier in the week some 30 laity from the eight Synod churches met with the bishops in Philadelphia to express their concerns. All expressed complete and total solidarity with their rectors.
Mr. Stanley Bright, rector's warden at Church of the Good Shepherd, whose rector is the Rev. Dr. David Moyer, said, in an interview, that he told the three bishops that they were "out of communion" with the synod rectors because of the actions of Bishop Bartlett in ordaining Barbara Harris illegally to the priesthood and later ordaining a non-celibate homosexual to the diaconate. Both actions violated ECUSA's official policy at that time.
In a direct confrontation with the bishops Bright said: "You chose to act as you did so it is unfair to complain because you knew and you made a choice. We told you then and we are telling you now, we are not in communion with you."
The bishops did not respond.
The meeting concluded with Mr. Bright declaring that he was a signatory to the Kuala Lumpur Statement which, he said, is the majority of the Anglican communion worldwide, but not with the Episcopal Church.
"The actions of Bishop Bartlett reveal his broken promises and our lack of trust in the Episcopal leadership of the Diocese," said Rawson.
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