On the eve of the September House of Bishops meeting, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania has written a letter to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop Dean Elliot Wolfe asking them for their “support and assistance in constructing a way to go forward in this diocese and to secure Bishop Bennison’s retirement or resignation.”
The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania
240 South Fourth Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
September 2, 2010
The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori
The Right Reverend Dean Elliott Wolfe, D.D.
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Dear Bishop Katharine and Bishop Wolfe:
Let us pray for the Church:
Gracious God, we pray for your holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it, where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.
The Book of Common Prayer, page 816
With this prayer, we initiated our conversations with members of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, in communicating the decision of the Court of Review and in inviting our members to pray and share their reactions to the decision on August 8 and then reporting to them what we heard in that conversation. We offer this prayer to you, as you gather in your September meeting of the House of Bishops.
There was a wide range of reactions within the Diocese of Pennsylvania to the decision of the Court of Review: shock, surprise, anger, confusion, hurt, approval and support. To date the Standing Committee has noted that negative reactions to the decision and to Bishop Bennison’s resuming his office have far outnumbered the positive.
It is the Standing Committee’s assessment that Bishop Bennison does not have the trust of the clergy and lay leaders necessary for him to be an effective pastor and leader of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, nor that he can regain or rebuild the trust that he has lost or broken. Given the fact that the Court of Review has taken the position that its hands are tied, and the untenable situation into which the Diocese of Pennsylvania is placed with Bishop Bennison resuming his role as Diocesan, we need your support and assistance in constructing a way to go forward in this diocese and to secure Bishop Bennison’s retirement or resignation.
During the past three years, the Diocese of Pennsylvania has made great strides in healing, in building transparent and trusting relationships among the leadership of the Diocese. We have struggled to overcome and repair the fractured community we had become, and we have come to recognize the blessings inherent in our diversity. We have learned to love, honor, and respect one another again. Over a period of more than three years, the leadership and congregations of this Diocese have adopted procedures and practices that reinforce transparency, openness, and shared responsibilities in the administration of the Diocese and in our lives together as a Christian community.
It is our profound concern that the healing and progress of the Diocese are now at risk and so we request that this letter and our request for your concern and support in chartering a way forward be placed on the agenda for the September meeting of the House of Bishops. We wait with hope for your prayerful responses.
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania:
Mr. Christopher Hart; Ms. Jo Ann Jones, The Reverend Ledlie Laughlin (Member of the Executive Committee); The Reverend Glenn Matis (President of the Standing Committee and member of the Executive Committee), Mr. Norman McCausland; Ms. Arlene McGurk (Secretary of the Standing Committee and member of the Executive Committee); The Reverend Isaac Miller; The Reverend D. Joy Segal; and Ms. D-L. Wormley
The Reverend Samuel Adu-Andoh is in Ghana and was unable to sign the statement.
cc: Bonnie Anderson, President, House of Deputies
The Rev. Dr. Gregory Straub, Secretary, General Convention
The Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall
The Rt. Rev. John P. Croneberger
The Rt. Rev. Nathan Baxter
The Rt. Rev. Sean W. Rowe
The Rt. Rev. Wayne P. Wright
The R. Rev. James J. Shand
The Rt. Rev. Eugene Sutton
The Rt. Rev. John L. Rabb
The Rt. Rev. Kenneth L Price
The Rt. Rev. Herman Hollerith, IV
The Rt. Rev. Frank Neff Powell
The Rt. Rev. Shannon Sherwood Johnston
The Rt. Rev. David Colin Jones
The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane
The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer
The Rt. Rev. Charles E. Bennison