Central Florida Jumps On the Bandwagon…

Letter to the Presiding Bishop

From the Diocese of Central Florida

May 15, 2008

The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop

The Episcopal Church Center

815 Second Avenue

New York, NY 10017

Dear Bishop Jefferts Schori,

Grace and peace from our God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We, the Diocesan Board and Standing Committee and Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, strongly protest what we believe to have been a failure to follow the Canons of our Episcopal Church in the recent depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox.

Since deposition is the most severe sanction that can be applied against a bishop, it is critical that both the letter and the spirit of the Canons be followed. The Canons intentionally provide for an exceptionally high level of participation and agreement from the Bishops in order to impose a sentence of deposition.  In this instance, it seems clear to us that the canonical safeguards in place were not followed.

We respectfully disagree with Mr. Beers assertion, which was reaffirmed by you in your April 30, 2008 letter to the House of Bishops, that the Canonical language of “the whole number of bishops entitled to vote” can be taken to mean only those in attendance at a particular meeting (Addendum 1).  Indeed, that would leave no higher standard for deposition than for any matter of routine business.  We agree with the analysis provided by Bishop and Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina that the Canons plainly require a majority of all Bishops entitled to vote, not just those in attendance at a particular meeting.  (Addendum 2).

We respectfully request that you and the House of Bishops revisit those decisions and make every effort to follow our Church Canons in this and all future House of Bishops decisions.

Finally, we believe that depositions are an unnecessary and unfortunate way to deal with disagreement, dissension, and even division within our Church.  Those Bishops (or other clergy) who, for sake of conscience, can no longer minister as part of The Episcopal Church can be transferred at their request, or permitted to renounce their vows and join with other Anglican Provinces without vindictiveness or punitive measures.  This would avoid the horrible implication that it is “abandonment of Communion” to join with another Anglican Province with whom we are in Communion, even if impaired.  Further, it would be a gracious demonstration of the love of Christ to honor the service of these Bishops to our Church by wishing them Godspeed as they enter new phases of their life and ministry.

Our common desire is to conduct our common life in such a way as to build one another up in Christ and commend our Lord to all those who see us.  We pray that gracious and life-giving strategies will be found as we move through this difficult season.

Yours in Christ,

John W. Howe, Bishop

Anthony P. Clark, President of the Standing Committee

————————————————————————————————

ADDENDUM 1

House of Bishops’ votes valid, chancellor confirms

March 15, 2008

[Episcopal News Service] The Presiding Bishop’s chancellor has confirmed the validity of votes taken in the House of Bishops on March 12, correcting an erroneous report published online March 14 by The Living Church News Service.

Chancellor David Booth Beers said votes consenting to the deposition of bishops John‑David Schofield and William Cox conformed to the canons.

“In consultation with the House of Bishops’ parliamentarian prior to the vote,” Beers said, “we both agreed that the canon meant a majority of all those present and entitled to vote, because it is clear from the canon that the vote had to be taken at a meeting, unlike the situation where you poll the whole House of Bishops by mail. Therefore, it is our position that the vote was in order.”

A quorum had been determined at the meeting by the House of Bishops’ secretary, Kenneth Price, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Southern Ohio.

——————————————————————————————-

ADDENDUM 2

Under Canon IV.9.2, the House of Bishops must give its consent to depose a bishop under the “abandonment of communion” canon. “. . . by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote.”  The Constitution of the Episcopal Church, Article I.2, states in pertinent part that “Each Bishop of this Church having jurisdiction, every Bishop Coadjutor, every Suffragan Bishop, every Assistant Bishop, and every Bishop who by reason of advanced age or bodily infirmity . . . has resigned a jurisdiction, shall have a seat and vote in the House of Bishops.”

Due to amendment, Canon IV.9.2, at various times, required consent under these circumstances consisting of “ . . . a majority of the House of Bishops,” “. .. . a majority of the whole number of bishops entitled . . . to seats in the House of Bishops . . .”  and “ . . . by a majority of the whole number of bishops entitled to vote.”  The language of the Canon has consistently required that a majority of all bishops entitled to vote, and not just a majority of those present at a meeting, must give their consent to the deposition of a bishop.  Although the language itself is clear, the definition contained in Title IV is even more specific.  Canon IV.15 specifically provides that “All the Members shall mean the total number of members of the Body provided for by Constitution or Canon without regard to absences, excused members, abstentions or vacancies.”

From a letter from the Bishops and Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina to The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, dated March 27, 2008.

http://www.cfdiocese.org/news/news08/0508pbletter.htm

3 Responses to “Central Florida Jumps On the Bandwagon…”


  1. 1 Henry May 23, 2008 at 12:18 am

    Way to go Central Florida!

  2. 2 Scott+ May 23, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Brad,

    Do you have a count of such letters?

  3. 3 descant May 23, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    3, including this one.


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