I do not pretend to have a gift of prophecy. In fact, I often get things quite wrong. However, the response of the House of Bishops today to the Tanzania Communique immediately brought back to me the words I wrote to Bishop Andrew Smith almost four years ago now, which now seem amazingly prescient. Of course, I could not have known when I wrote this letter that only two years later Bishop Smith and an entourage would invade our parish of St. John’s, Bristol, change the locks on our building, hack into the confidential files on the parish computer, impose a priest-in-charge who was a leading officer in Affirming Catholicism and who would then fire those of us who were the legally elected vestry, and, finally, that Smith would depose our rector, the Rev. Dr. Mark Hansen from the priesthood of the Episcopal Church. And I certainly could not have foreseen that I would be one of several dozen who would sign a presentment against our bishop that would be completely ignored, while Bishop Smith, still under charges, would be assigned as a judge in the trial of Bishop Cox for crossing diocesan boundaries. The ironies of my letter are rich, it seems.
Pay special attention to what I wrote about the oath of obedience. In the last several years it has become quite clear how TEC interprets that oath. And note what the HOB said today about the “sufficiency of Scripture.”
September 7, 2003
The Right Reverend Andrew D. Smith, Bishop
The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut
1335 Asylum Avenue
Hartford, CT 06105-2295
Dear Bishop Smith:
It is with deep regret that I write to inform you that I am withdrawing my request to be considered for ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal diocese of Connecticut.
I want to thank you for the courtesy extended to me on my visit to Diocesan House on June 10, and for your willingness to allow me to continue with the discernment process.
Unfortunately, in light of the recent events of this summer’s General Convention, I can not in good conscience continue with the ordination process, at least not in the diocese of Connecticut.
Please let me explain why I believe this to be so.