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NORTH DAKOTA: Two Orthodox Priests Deprived of Voting Rights in Diocese


Special Report

By David W. Virtue

Two orthodox priests in the Diocese of North Dakota have been stripped of their voting rights in an upcoming election for a new bishop by revisionists seeking to replace the Evangelical Andy Fairfield with a more theologically liberal bishop.

In backroom tactics worthy of a Chicago mayoral race, the Rev. Larry Winslow, St. Sylvan's in Dunseith and the Rev. Brian Minaker, St. Peter' Church in Walhalla were informed they could not vote because of a complaint filed by the revisionist Dean of Fargo, The Rev. Steve Easterday. The action taken was evil.

Both priests are close to the Canadian border and also have parishes in the Dioceses of Manitoba and Rupertsland. Both men were given uncontested voting rights two years ago in the Diocese of North Dakota. Fr Winslow is also the Regional Dean, Peace Garden Deanery Diocese, and a Brandon Member of the Brandon Essentials Group.

Now both priests have been deprived of their voting rites on the grounds that they are canonically Canadian.

In a blistering letter to the Standing Committee of the Diocese of North Dakota Fr. Winslow wrote, "I have been informed that Father Brian Minaker and I have been unilaterally stripped of our voting rights conferred by due process at the second last Diocesan Convention - and without challenge at that time."

"It would seem that no one was concerned about the decision of Convention until the theologically liberal constituents (most especially the Dean of the Diocese) realised that, in the upcoming Special Convention to elect a new Bishop, the Canadian Priests who were given that right, would be voting in a theologically conservative vein."

"While I am disappointed that the liberal constituency would stoop to such underhanded last minute strategies to try to gain their "democratic" will, I am not surprised that liberals who are always spouting fairness, dialogue, inclusiveness, and justice would take such an action. After all, in the eyes of such individuals, the end always justifies the means."

"If there were legal concerns or concerns over propriety or Canon Law, locally or Nationally, they should have been brought up at that time. It certainly seems interesting that the Chancellor who did not raise any concerns at the time of the enabling vote at Convention should suddenly become concerned now. One would not like to think that this had anything to do with his being a parishioner of the Dean who is, as I understand it, the chief liberal protagonist in this event. And to query the National Chancellor in the light of the current situation in ECUSA is like asking Satan if he favours sin."

"The whole process undertaken to block these valid votes is bogus and immoral - but irrefutable at this time. I have never seen another situation where a motion passed at Convention is later overturned unilaterally by a Standing Committee. Usually such can only be done at another Convention. The application of Canon Law is ambiguous at best in this situation. Furthermore, no attempt was made by the protagonists or other members of the Standing Committee to invite Brian or I into this discussion. The Dean acting unilaterally sent letters to our Bishops behind our backs, which is in clear violation of the teachings of Holy Scripture - not that Scripture is a matter of concern to liberal flagitious poltroons. It seems clear that this was a successful attempt to eliminate conservative votes that could make it difficult for the liberals to achieve their underhanded goals in this issue."

"However, I do want the members of this committee to consider the following: This action is an insult and an act of disrespect for the Episcopacy of the Godly Andrew Fairfield who pushed to have this process established so as to give fair representation to all Parishes in the Diocese and to make those Priests provide gratuitous service from other regions full members of the North Dakota team The action is a disenfranchising of the Parishes covered by Brian and I by reducing their votes by one in each Parish. It is another way that the lower income Parishes are relegated to a lesser status in the Diocese."

The action is an insult to both Brian and I who give our time to providing worship to Parishes that cannot be covered by regular North Dakota Clergy. We work hard for these people and then are handicapped in our voting office, made possible at a North Dakota Convention, to support these people. Further, it is interesting that so many of the candidates for Bishop emphasized their perceived need for a unifying and reconciling effort in this Diocese - it is easy to see how the need for that would come about with surreptitious backdoor efforts such as these."

In fact the dubious nature of this action places the outcome of the whole electoral convention in question - or even doubt as to its validity. If justice, morality, and righteousness have been served, it is certainly only in the eyes of those who would pervert such in order to gain political victory and power."

"I actually thought that there was a greater degree of integrity in the people of the Diocese of North Dakota. But it is now obvious the deceitfulness, deceptiveness, and willful divisiveness reign in this Diocese as well. I am certain Bishop Fairfield will be hanging his head in sorrow over these actions of those hungry for their own brand of power."

Fr. Winslow said the problem was conducive to those liberals who had selected five liberals as candidates to be the next Bishop of North Dakota with the only conservative being a petition candidate - The Rev. Dr. H. Lawrence (Laurie) Thompson, III Associate Professor of Liturgy and Pastoral Theology Dean, Doctor of Ministry Program at The Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania.


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