Posts Tagged ‘bishops’

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Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

At the annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of New York last weekend, the Bishop of New York recommended two proposals, which were duly passed as resolutions of the whole convention.

The first resolution allocated $1,100,000 from the diocesan endowment as reparations for the sin of slavery. The money will go to assist African-Americans in ways yet to be determined. Reparations have been discussed in New York for years by a small group of Episcopalians. Now they are coming to fruition in the form of a grant equal to 2.5% of the diocesan endowment.

The Bishop also recommended a ten-year plan to reduce the carbon footprint of each parish by 30% by the year 2030–following a plan by Mayor Bill DiBlasio for many New York City buildings. Annual energy audits would have to be filed by every church as part of the parochial report.

These proposals will eventually impact the 200 or so parishes of the diocese. I won’t be here when Incarnation decides how to respond to these costly and left-of-center proposals, so I really don’t need to comment. I would just note that I can’t remember a Bishop of New York ever making this radical a challenge to his congregations. —J. Douglas Ousley

For Once, I Was Right

Monday, June 29th, 2015

I have an almost perfect talent for mis-predicting the outcomes of elections.

But I got last Saturday’s election right. In fact, I predicted a year ago that Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina would be a strong candidate for Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. At the beginning of this year’s General Convention in Salt Lake City, the House of Bishops chose him to be our next PB.

The election was surprisingly lop-sided, indicating that our bishops recognize the need for a powerful preacher and charismatic personality at the helm. One person can’t do everything. But we can at least put our best bishop to the front of the line. Deo gratias. —J. Douglas Ousley

Less Democracy–More Women Leaders?

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England , after years of debate and failed motions, yesterday passed the final resolution that will allow for the appointment of women bishops. There was cheering and considerable relief, as conservative Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals voted for legislation that they felt would preserve their freedom to remain separate from the female episcopacy.

Note that I said, “appointment.” In the Church of England, bishops, cathedral deans and canons, and archdeacons are chosen by other bishops or the Prime Minister. There is nothing like the diocesan election system in place in the U.S.

Interestingly, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church was recently in England, and she was asked about the coming Synod vote. She ventured the opinion that women leadership might advance more rapidly than it has in this country because women could be chosen by a few hierarchs, rather than by various large conventions.

Does this mean that ordinary laypeople and priests are anti-feminist and reactionary? I would hope not. In any case, the next few years in England will certainly be years of change. —J. Douglas Ousley

So Help Us God

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

To no fanfare and precious little interest even among careful observers of national church politics, the Joint Nominating Committee has presented its first “essay” regarding the upcoming election of a new Presiding Bishop.

The essay doesn’t say much except present a timeline for the nominating process. The real issues will be in the descriptions of the qualities of the ideal PB–and even these could probably be written today: “loves God, strives for peace and justice, nurtures diversity, strong leader” etc.

The only underground gossip seems to surround whether the current Presiding Bishop might seek an unprecedented second nine-year term, as apparently she will be just young enough to do. If she says definitively that she will not run, then expect candidates to come out of the woodwork. If she does run, then there will be lots of interest, because even her biggest supporters are disappointed in the decline of the church in the past eight years of her leadership. —J. Douglas Ousley

No News Is…

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

An unearthly quiet seems to have descended upon the Episcopal Church. Other than the recent divorce of Bishop Gene Robinson from his husband, there has been no real news. A group is working on a new vision for the Church, but the average layperson’s interest in that seems negligible. Any candidates in the campaign for Presiding Bishop–to be elected in summer, 2015–are apparently awaiting the announcement by the incumbent of whether she will run again. Bishop Jefferts-Schori is the first PB ever to be eligible for a second term; few bishops or others seem to want that, however, given the decline of the church during her time in office.

What’s next? Maybe this quiet period in Episcopal Church history will allow for growth at the parish level. In any event, it’s hard to see that some time out of the glare of negative media coverage will hurt the church. —J. Douglas Ousley

Do English Traditionalists Have a Point?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Some of the few ultra-conservative Evangelicals who voted against the General Synod legislation that would have permitted female bishops have pointed to the example of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

They have noted that Episcopalians who opposed the ordination of women in the 1970’s and later were repeatedly assured that their minority view would be honored. After all, male ordination had been the view of the entire church for almost 2,000 years.

In subsequent years, however, those same traditionalists have seemed to be less and less free to express their beliefs. In some cases, they have felt hounded out of the church; they have certainly disappeared in the councils of our church. Even the large committees and commissions no longer have any dissenting members.

English conservatives may well have felt they couldn’t trust a progressive majority that was allowed to get its way. —J. Douglas Ousley


Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

In response to my last post, someone asked me if the President of the House of Deputies was involved in some kind of power struggle. That is, indeed, the rumor and the concern.

The President now has her own web site (interestingly, the Episcopal Church web site doesn’t link to this site, at least as far as I can tell.) And in a recent post, Bonnie Anderson referred to herself as reigning at the top of the church hierarchy from her office in Michigan, along with the Presiding Bishop at her office at 815 Second Avenue, New York City.

Now, 815 Second Avenue has been recognized as the “National Church” headquarters for quite some time; not so, “Christ Church, Michigan.” As a pyramid only has one true highest point, we might wish that our hierarchy retain its traditional single shepherd, The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.–J. Douglas Ousley

Only in England

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Here is a quote from the 99th Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, commenting in the 1960’s on a possible choice to succeed him:

“Dr. Ramsey is a theologian, a scholar, and a man of prayer. Therefore he is entirely unsuitable.”

Michael Ramsey nevertheless was appointed the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury, and he went on to become perhaps the most popular English bishop of the 20th century. That he was a scholar and a man of prayer turned out not to be disadvantageous. —J. Douglas Ousley

Bishops v. Priests/laity

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

I recently heard a speech by a prominent observer of the Episcopal Church about the upcoming General Convention. He feared that a major issue at that convention would be a political battle between the two “Houses:” the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. The former consists of all bishops of the church who have shown up, including retirees; the latter consists of clergy and lay delegates elected by each diocese.

There are many perennial disagreements between the two groups. For example, the Bishops have been trying for years to reduce the size of each diocesan delegation from 8 members. (Often 8 alternates are also flown to the meeting; this is the case for New York, for example.) Delegates, fearing they may not get re-elected balk at this reform.

Apparently the biggest current issue, however, is the wish of the President of the House of Deputies to be able to speak on equal footing with the Presiding Bishop. For some, this is a matter of “justice”–giving equal weight especially to the laity.

I have often expressed my exasperation with the current President of the House of the Deputies. But even without such feelings, I am amazed that anyone in an “episcopal” (= “having bishops”) church would feel the need to counter the weight of the primate of the whole church. No doubt this issue will need to be considered again. —J. Douglas Ousley

Finally, the End of the Beginning?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

The weather forecast is clement and the postponed election for a Bishop-Coadjutor for the Diocese of New York seems set to happen this Saturday.

While many clergy and laity continue to mull over the qualities of the various candidates and rumors circulate, the mood in Manhattan seems more subdued than it was three weeks ago. Perhaps, “resigned” is a better word. We will not be offered the candidates of our dreams so we shall have to choose from among the ones set before us.

That said, I don’t think nominations from the floor can be ruled out, and it is at least possible that the convention will be deadlocked. Perhaps these prospects are contributing to the subdued consciousness. But they at least give us additional reasons to pray for the Diocese of New York. —J. Douglas Ousley