The July 14, 2004 Meeting with the Bishop
The Reverend Christopher Leighton, Rector
July 15, 2004
To my brothers and sisters in Christ who prayed for me:
- Thank you for your prayers and communications of encouragement. In response to prayer, I felt calm and strong.
- My 35-minute meeting with Andrew Smith was one-on-one and frank.
- He wanted to make sure I understood that the relationship of the six churches to him cannot continue at the "impasse." He sees only three possibilities for us. The first is that we will leave. The second is that we will stay, and accept his form of DEPO. And the third is that we do nothing, thinking that nothing will happen, but that he will take canonical initiatives against the clergy and their churches.
- I listened and then was asked for any response. I responded with the following:
- My response to his Pastoral Directive was to obey the summons to be present. I have tried to respect Andrew and his office during his years as Diocesan.
- I made it clear that St. Paul's and I have no intentions of leaving the diocese or the Episcopal Church. I let him know that I heard firsthand from an individual that the diocesan office, explicitly a staff member, has been saying that "the seven churches are leaving". I asked Andrew to correct the situation and perception. To my knowledge, I have not heard of any church saying it was leaving. And in fact, on behalf of St. Paul's I said, "We're not threatening to leave. We're threatening to stay."
- I reminded him that I was present as the rector of a parish whose vestry and parishioners are united. The vestry has made a decision to redirect funds. The vestry has requested Adequate Episcopal Oversight. There seems to be an untold story in Connecticut, and it is the impact that his actions are having on the laity. I was present, and so proud of my vestry, as they wrote the letter concerning DEPO, and each member individually signed it. Though I wasn't present at the other five churches as the letters were signed, I conveyed how impressed I was by all those signatures. Is it Andrew's intention to ignore the needs of these parishes?
- My response about DEPO - The House of Bishops is offering DEPO to the end of reconciliation with those who disagree with recent actions of the Episcopal Church. I said it's an unusual form of reconciling work to unilaterally impose on an injured party a take-it-or-leave-it approach. I can't imagine two estranged parties in a marriage ever working it out if one had a plan that he or she insisted would work for the other, without any input from that party. It truly feels like Andrew is coming down the mountain from the House of Bishops. I asked if he would reconsider meeting with the vestries together. His agitation about them being a power bloc or a mini-diocese was countered by my observation that they are in agreement as to what are their needs, and that his version of DEPO doesn't meet their needs. I asked Andrew to consider putting aside concerns about power, and just meeting with a group that is fearful that he will pick them off individually.
- I asked him what the hurry was. He had spoken that these conversations began in April, and that there had to be conclusion. I opined, "You've won. Why don't you just let things sit for a while?" He said he was soon to go on vacation, that he was expecting action when he returns in September. I told him I would communicate with St. Paul's. He will be calling me in early September.
Your brother in Christ,