Fort Worth, Quincy: Conciliation meeting outcome announced

[Office of Public Affairs — Press Release] The outcome of a January conciliation meeting concerning complaints involving the Episcopal Dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy has been announced, following the written agreement of all parties and acceptance by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

“As a result of the process of Conciliation under Canon IV.10 of The Episcopal Church, the…Complainants and Respondents agree to this Accord on terms which promote healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation,” begins the Accord, which was signed by all parties in March 2013.

Even though there is agreement, the proceedings of the meeting, held according to Canon IV.10 on January 8 and 9 in Richmond, VA, as well as any documentation, presented remain confidential.

The meeting concerned complaints from the Diocese of Quincy Standing Committee against Bishops Peter Beckwith (Springfield), Bruce MacPherson (Western Louisiana) and Edward Salmon (South Carolina), and from the Diocese of Fort Worth Standing Committee and an individual complainant against Bishops Maurice Benitez (Dallas), John Howe (Central Florida), Paul Lambert (Dallas), William Love (Albany), Daniel Martins (Springfield), Edward Salmon (South Carolina), and James Stanton (Dallas).

John G. Douglass was Conciliator for the meeting.

According to Canon IV.10, conciliation is not a trial but a form of mediation.

Participants were one person from each of the Standing Committees of the Dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy; the individual complainant; four representatives of the respondent bishops; three bishops appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori; advisors to the complainants and respondents; and legal advisors.

Appointed by the Presiding Bishop to represent the House of Bishops were Bishops Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real, Edward Little of Northern Indiana, and Michael Milliken of Western Kansas. (Canon IV.10.Sec 2).

The Accord

This is the full text of the Accord.

ACCORD

As a result of the process of Conciliation under Canon IV.10 of The Episcopal Church, the parties listed below as Complainants and Respondents agree to this Accord on terms which promote healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation, as provided below:

1. This Accord arises from Conciliation of complaints which alleged that Respondents, purporting to act in their official capacities as bishops of The Episcopal Church, caused to be filed or endorsed for filing an amicus brief with the Texas Supreme Court (Case No. 11-0265) on April 23, 2012 or an affidavit with the Circuit Court of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, Adams County, Illinois (Case No. 09-MR-31) on October 6, 2011, in which they asserted opinions regarding the polity of the church adverse to the interests and legal positions of The Episcopal Church and the continuing Episcopal Dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy, and in support of breakaway factions in that litigation involving disputes over property and funds of the Church, all outside of Respondents’ respective dioceses.

2. The Intake Officer for the Church, by referring this matter to the Reference Panel, determined that the foregoing allegations, if true, would constitute one or more Offenses under Canon IV.3 or IV.4.  Respondents deny that their actions violate the Constitution or Canons of the Episcopal Church or their ordination vows.  The Reference Panel referred this matter for Conciliation.

3. Respondents  commend the Episcopalians in the Dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin – lay and clergy –  for their unflagging efforts to continue to witness God’s mission as The Episcopal Church during recent difficult times as they reorganize their continuing dioceses in that same spirit; and that the leadership in each of those four continuing dioceses be commended for their similar efforts, including in particular the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of Ft. Worth, and his successor, the Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr.; the Rt Rev. Dorsey McConnell, Bishop Diocesan and successor to the Rt. Rev. Kenneth L. Price, Provisional 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.

4. Respondents express regret for any harm to the Bishops, clergy and laity of the Dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy resulting from Respondents’ acts.

5. Respondents agree not to file or endorse any further amicus brief or affidavit in litigation outside of their respective dioceses and against the legal position of The Episcopal Church until the General Convention formally addresses this conduct, either by amendment to the Constitution and/or canons or by formal resolution and to act in accordance with the action of the General Convention.

6. Respondents acknowledge that the 2009 Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church is likely a minority opinion.

7. Respondents affirm that the authority of a diocesan Bishop is limited by the Dennis canon (Canon I.7.4).

8. In the spirit of reconciliation, Respondents undertake to help defray the costs of the Conciliation process.  Complainants except the Rt. Rev. Maurice M. Benitez from any obligation under this paragraph.

9. This Accord provides full and final resolution of all offenses arising from the alleged acts set forth in paragraph 1 above including but not limited to alleged violations of:
a. Canon IV.3.1(a)[Constitution Art. II.3; Canon III.13; Fort Worth Diocesan Constitution art. 14; Fort Worth Diocesan Canon 17];
b. Canon IV.4.1(e)[Canons I.7.4, II.6; Fort Worth Diocesan Canon 30];
c. Canon IV.4.1(g);
d. Canon IV.4.1(h)(6);
e. Canon IV.4.1(h)(8) [Canon I.17.8]; and
f. IV.16(A),
provides complete protection to Respondents against any and all future charges arising from those acts and bars any future proceedings against Respondents arising from those acts as provided by Canon IV.19.13 of The Episcopal Church.

10. The Parties and their agents reaffirm, attach and incorporate herein by reference  the Agreement to Mediate executed on or about January 8, 2013, and specifically reaffirm that the provisions regarding the confidentiality of  the Conciliation process as described therein remain in effect hereafter, except for the publication of this Accord as required by Canon IV.14.12(b).

11.  This Accord takes effect only upon signature by all parties listed below and signature by the Conciliator, and upon written acceptance of the terms of this Accord by the Presiding Bishop as provided in Canon IV.14.

Respondents:
The Rt. Rev.  John W. Howe (resigned, Diocese of Central Florida)
The Rt. Rev. Paul E. Lambert (suffragan, Diocese of Dallas)
The Rt. Rev. William H. Love (diocesan, Diocese of Albany)
The Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson (resigned, Diocese of W. Louisiana)
The Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins (diocesan, Diocese of Springfield)
The Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton (diocesan, Diocese of Dallas)
The Rt. Rev. Maurice M. Benitez (resigned, Diocese of Texas)
The Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith (resigned, Diocese of Springfield)
The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon (resigned, Diocese of South Carolina)

Complainants:
Paul Ambos (Member, Christ Church, New Brunswick, New Jersey)

Diocese of Quincy
The Rev. Canon James Clement
The Very Rev. Robert Dedmon
Tobyn Leigh
The Rev. Canon John Blossom
Christine Barrow
Janna Haworth

Diocese of Fort Worth
The Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl
Martha A. Fagley
Elinor Normand
The Rev. Susan Slaughter
The Rev. William Stanford
The Rev. David A. Madison
Margaret D. Mieuli

Conciliator:
John G. Douglass

 

Comments

  1. Zachary Brooks says:

    God willing, this is the start of conservative bishops recognizing that they are part of the Church and not above it.

    • Doug Desper says:

      Zachary –
      God help us if we ever have bishops who fail to speak their mind and instead just bend to the prevalent winds of opinion emanating from the loudest voices in the House of Bishops. What is chilling here is that these bishops rendered an opinion not in keeping with the progressive/revisionists’ somewhat loose reading of canons – and they were made to pay for it. I thought that revisionists in the Church were all about generosity, Indaba, open forums, diversity, and etc. Apparently only when nothing is at stake.

      • Zachary Brooks says:

        The bishops aided a schism of the Church, and they admitted as much. “Speaking their minds” had nothing to do with it, and hopefully they really realize it.

      • Jennifer Edwards says:

        I live in the Diocese of Quincy and personally know one of the Complainants and can’t thank her enough for her courage in the face of great abuse coming from the Respondents . We’ve gone through hell because of the actions of those Bishops. We’ve lost our property and have clawed back tooth and nail to retain our identity as Episcopalians. This had nothing to do with “Bishops speaking their minds,” and everything to do with misogyny and bigotry.

  2. Bishop Benitez is from Texas not Dallas https://www.ecdplus.org/clergy/?clergyID=27307

  3. Kimberly Clark says:

    Go in Peace to love and serve the Lord. Love the lord your God with all your heart and soul and love your neighbor as you also love yourself. The fields are White unto harvest. I have prayed for the sins of the Episcopal Church around power and money daily since 1973. I am hopeful this will be the dawn of a new day. I liken the sexual sins of the catholic church to the Episcopal church regarding power and money. Growing up in the Episcopal Church, I saw first had the extent to which the beauty of the church family and it’s many assets, buildings, christian education and worship as well as the crimes of the power filled that were perpeprated agains the faithful. I feel so lucky that I had family, clergy and a christian community to support me as I worked through my own questions about courage, grace and integrity. As teen we refered to the U.S. Senate as the Episcopal church at work. In those days the majority of the Senate were episcopaians. I told my father and the Bishop things would change when I grew up concerning civil rights, caring for the poor and including a more motley crowd in our midst. Sadly, things have not changed much and in fact there seems to be more greed, power plays and misuse of money than I could have ever imagined. Imagine all 10,000 of us who left the leadership of the church in 2004 going through the same process your group is going through without the secrecy. Just imagine what God might have in mind. A world where peace love and Joy prevails? A world where there is compassion for the poor? A world where you do unto others as you would have them do unto you? As Aunt Jane once said when there was a big power play going on. “I am voting for all the people in Mount Holly Cemetary. I was here before you came and I will be here after you are long gone.”

  4. Owanah Anderson says:

    Hear ye: Go forth and sin no more!

  5. Edwin Williamson says:

    Why is the file under seal? What was the amount of the costs that the Respondents will “help” defray? How much did TEC and its dioceses spend on this?

    • Zachary Brooks says:

      The Canons of the Episcopal Church consider many parts of trials of conciliation to be privileged information. Canons dictate that proceedings of ecclesiastical trials go straight to the archives of the Episcopal Church, with no provision for release to the public.

      • Zachary Brooks says:

        I oughtter add that the process for conciliation is in canon IV.16, not IV.10 as the article says. Though I could be reading one or the other wrong- I’ve read the canons but I can’t claim to be an expert.

  6. Carol McRee says:

    Zachary, The conservative bishops always wanted to be part of the church. They never thought they were above it. That sort of attitude belongs to TEC leaders whose actions make it clear that they think they are above it. Why else would this accord be entered into evidence in the Quincy trial if the result was supposed to be “confidential”? Simple- to pursue their litigation against other conservative bishops. At least we now know what TEC leaders truly think. See http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/30519 for another view on this “confidential” accord.

  7. Carol McRee says:

    Zachary, This was conciliation NOT an ecclesiastical trial.

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