By Joe Thoma
The House of Bishops expressed its collegiality July 8 in a “mind of the house” resolution, after a closed-door discussion about accusations against nine bishops.
The bishops face possible Title IV charges that they engaged in misconduct when endorsing a friend-of-the-court brief prepared by the Anglican Communion Institute for a Texas Supreme Court. The court case is over legal authority and ownership of church property in that diocese.
The resolution said that leaders in the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin are “commended for their similar efforts, including in particular the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth; the Rt. Rev. Kenneth L. Price, Assisting Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh; the Rt. Rev. John C. Buchanan, Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of Quincy; and the Rt. Rev. Chester L. Talton, Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, and especially the strong lay leadership of each diocese.”
The resolution, in naming the bishops put in place in those dioceses by the Episcopal Church, is an acknowledgement by the bishops present and voting unanimously that the named bishops — not breakaway bishops — are the legitimate representatives of the Episcopal Church, some bishops said afterward.
The statement does not end the complaint against the nine bishops, but moves the matter toward reconciliation, participants said.
Expanding Canonical Residency
The bishops also voted to adopt Resolution A142, to study expansion of canonical residency. The resolution directs Executive Council, the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons, the Standing Commission on Ministry Development and the Office of for Transition Ministry to study the needs and merits of granting canonical residency to clergy not in charge of congregations.
The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, Bishop of American Churches in Europe, spoke on behalf of the resolution.
“Why are we the only province that has canonical residency when others have some form of licensing by the bishop?” he asked.
The rationale for the resolution says, “As the Episcopal Church in the 21st century responds to a rapidly changing society by encouraging new, creative models of ordained ministry, the need to amend the current canon addressing canonical residency becomes increasingly urgent.
“Because our Church is seeking to engage in a wider range of models for ministry, change in Canon III.9.4(d) is needed to include extra-parochial clergy. The benefits will be threefold: First, granting canonical residency to extra-parochial clergy will strengthen the bonds of pastoral care and accountability between Bishops or Standing Committees and the clergy who exercise ministry in their dioceses. Second, such change will ensure that all clergy engaged in active ministry may participate fully and fairly in the Church’s leadership and decision-making.”