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CONNECTICUT: Bishop Lays Down Law on DEPO

Orthodox Priests Will Resist Giving to Revisionist Agenda

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

The Bishop of Connecticut laid down the law to his priests and wardens this week and with the recent House of Bishops DEPO plan in hand he offered very little wiggle room for orthodox dissenters in his diocese.

Bishop Andrew D. Smith summoned the priests and wardens to the cathedral in Hartford last Saturday with the sole purpose of giving his interpretation of what “caring for all the churches” would look like in his diocese.

What he laid down was this. He said that he would “continue to exercise constitutional and canonical jurisdiction in all congregations of the diocese.” Furthermore he would be involved in the life and mission of the parish with a yearly meeting with the parish Vestry, “and in other ways as are appropriate.”

But then he added a proviso.

The revisionist bishop, who, along with his two suffragan bishops attended the consecration of V. Gene Robinson, said that in order for the DEPO plan to be viable, every parish would have to kick in 12.5% of their operating budget or DEPO was a no go.

“He won’t get it,” said the evangelical orthodox priest of Bishop Seabury Church in Groton, Ct.

The Rev. Ron Gauss, a Jewish convert who has been the rector of the parish for 29 years said that he and at least seven other parishes – all members of the newly formed AAC- Connecticut, won’t be delivering the financial goods to the revisionist bishop this year.
(A total of 19 parishes have sent representatives to the AAC Connecticut meetings.)

“The bishop is short $700,000 in his budget so far, and it will only get worse,” he told Virtuosity. “A lot of churches are withholding funds and redirecting them elsewhere to authentic biblical mission. By doing that the bishop is not getting the money he wants.”

Fr. Gauss said the bishop shamelessly ordained a male homosexual and a lesbian to the transitional deaconate before the last General Convention and then to the priesthood following GC2003 so he lost all credibility with the orthodox rectors in his diocese.

“He just doesn’t get it. I’m a Jewish convert to Jesus and these three bishops don’t believe the content of the Old Testament on sexuality issues let alone anything else.”

Fr. Gauss said giving 12.5 percent of whatever was available in loose offering came to $219.00, “which is 2 percent of giving. We will send him a check for the full amount.”

The no nonsense priest whose parish has blossomed to nearly 800 under his Biblical preaching and dynamic leadership, said the withholding was hurting the diocese. “The bishop says we are taking money away from mission, but that’s not the kind of mission that I, my congregation and the other orthodox priests believe in,” he told this writer.

The Diocese of Connecticut has an endowment and will give over and above the requirement to the national church, he said.

“Everything with Bishop Smith is about money and control. He has a revisionist gospel that does not equate with biblical revelation.” The diocesan budget is about $4 million.

Asked how he handles visitations, Gauss said, “We have asked him not to come. We won’t even dialogue with him; there is nothing to talk about.”

Gauss said the parish was dying when it was taken over and resurrected by Charismatic preachers Terry Fullam and later Martyn Minns. “For over 29 years I have been building up the most holy faith in these dear people. I will not betray or let them down now. I left Judaism to become a Christian in the ECUSA 50 years ago and all I have ever preached is the unsearchable riches of Christ, and Jesus as the fulfillment of all that the law and prophets spoke of. I have no intention in my final years of selling out to these godless, unbelieving bishops.”

“Because of my upbringing I can’t compromise. The Episcopal Church doesn’t believe the Old Testament let alone half the content of the New Testament.”

Gauss said that the bishop’s proposal that there shall be an agreement concerning the giving of 12.5 percent of the congregational budget for diocesan mission and ministry won’t fly. “A lot of the liberal parishes can’t go for it either.”

When asked if he would go after those parishes that are redirecting funds, Bishop Smith said, “it was time of grace and patience”, but we are not sure how long that will last said a knowledgeable orthodox layman.

“We as a diocese always roll out the canons and constitutions as having higher authority than Scripture, said Tony Miscimarra, senior warden of St. Paul’s Church and president of the AAC- Ct. who opposes the bishop’s theological positions.

In his DEPO statement the bishop wrote, “from time to time the Diocesan Bishop shall review and decide as to the continuation of the ministry of delegated episcopal pastoral oversight in this diocese, and shall do so at the time of the General Convention in 2006.”

What this means, said Miscimarra, is that there is a sunset provision with an expectation that reconciliation will take place between now and Convention 2006, “but I see no methodology or process that would allow that to happen.”


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