Monday, July 18, 2005

Resignation or Sabbatical? In His Own Words.

Here is what the (former?) Rector of St. John's Bristol, CT wrote to his congregation on March 15, 2005: (read it all)

“It is with deep regret that I now share in writing what I announced in Church two Sundays ago: that April 10 must be my last Sunday as your priest, as least in terms of directly providing for your pastoral care and leadership in worship. After that, I will officially be on sabbatical, and will plan to play an appropriate role in ensuring that everything is in place for you to find a new priest who will uphold classical Anglican biblical values….” (emphasis is mine)

“Ceil and I wish each and every one of you God’s richest blessings in your individual endeavors and as faithful members of St. Johns. We have been deeply privileged to have shared the last fifteen years with you…. I know that you will continue to make us proud as you honor God above all thing.”

Is this a resignation or a sabbatical? It sounds as if Fr. Mark Hansen is leaving the parish for good but that the vestry and he have negotiated a kind of sabbatical, so that he can remain the Rector on the books while they search for a new Rector, who is in keeping with their views.

Given the demands of the so-called CT-6 in 2004, they wish to have a call process (and other processes) outside of the normal processes of the diocese, yet still claim to be a part of the diocese.

He says he spoke to the congregation on or about March 1, 2005. This letter is dated March 15, 2005. The decision to inhibit Fr. Hansen took place in July. What took place in the meantime? Some accounts say that he has or is attempting to enter the secular work force. Since it seems that he neither resigned to the Bishop directly--which would mean the Bishop would appoint an interim and place them under the normal diocesan process for placement--nor has he arranged for a sabbatical in the usual way, he himself has placed himself and his parish at risk.

The reactions and letters in response to the action of the Standing Committee indicates also that the vestry has recieved poor advice based on inaccurate readings of canons and has a poor understanding of the relationship of parish to diocese in the Episcopal Church. The parish sees themselves as an autonomous congregation rather than as accountable constituent part of the basic unit of ministry in the Episcopal Church, the diocese.

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