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The Reconciliation Lies of South Carolina Episcopal Bishop "Skip" Adams

The Reconciliation Lies of South Carolina Episcopal Bishop "Skip" Adams
For Adams it is not about reconciliation but capitulation and absorption
Adams ignored a priest who abused 16 boys when he was bishop in the Diocese of Central New York

By David W. Virtue, DD
July 24, 2018

If you read and listen to Episcopal Bishop "Skip" Adams you will hear that what he wants more than anything else is reconciliation in South Carolina with 28 parishes worth more than half a billion dollars that could be lost to the Diocese of South Carolina now affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America led by bishop Mark Lawrence.

Adams has solicited help from presiding bishop Michael Curry who also claims to breathe the air of reconciliation with heaps of scripture thrown in for good measure.

But Adams past track record on reconciliation is anything but.

Adams past reveals a man whose behavior on reconciliation is nothing less than untruthful and contemptuous. Here is the back story.

In 2005 he inhibited a 20-year serving priest by the name of Fr. David Bollinger in the diocese of Central New York where Adams was bishop after Fr. Bollinger blew the whistle on a pedophile priest who reportedly abused 16 people. The name of that priest was Fr. Ralph Johnson. Pennsylvania state police charged the 82-year old priest with sexual contact with a minor. Johnson was finally inhibited by Adams but not before Adams took revenge on Bollinger for blowing the whistle on Johnson.

Bollinger told VOL at that time, "I believe I was inhibited as a punishment for trying to seek the truth about Johnson's alleged pedophile activities when I received an affidavit from one of 16 victims of my parish charging the former parish priest with sexual abuse."

Bollinger was a priest for 20 years at St. Paul's, Owego, NY where Adams went after him for supposed financial irregularities allegedly in order to shut the priest up after he had a dispute with the bishop at last year's diocesan convention following allegations of a sex abuse scandal, which the priest says Adams tried to cover up. Prior to his being inhibited, Fr. Bollinger was the Dean of the Ithaca-Courtland District for 12 years.

Bollinger sent the signed complaint to the bishop and pastoral response team. As a result of doing this, and because he blew the whistle on the former parish priest, the bishop turned on Bollinger and inhibited him and then accused him of misusing his Discretionary Fund. VOL interviewed Bollinger and you can read it all here: https://tinyurl.com/y7thkjvo

Adams later hired Peter Kapcio, a member of Eric Mower Associates, a major New York Public Relations firm. Adams calls him his "image consultant." He was a crisis manager and spin doctor, and the bishop hired him to spin my situation, said Bollinger. "I am convinced that Kapcio orchestrated the Holiday Inn meeting which for most clergy was a disaster for the bishop. He lost a great deal of credibility. It was a kangaroo court."

Fr Bollinger's attorney at the time was Raymond Dague of Syracuse, NY, who told VOL that there was not a shred of evidence that Fr. Bollinger had any psychiatric problems. "This was a trumped up suggestion by the bishop that Fr. Bollinger must get psychiatric treatment."

Fr. Bollinger, was ultimately cleared of allegations that he financially mismanaged his parish by a diocesan ecclesiastical court and was restored to "good standing." Bishop Adams refused to answer questions put to him by VOL about his scandalous behavior towards Fr. Bollinger.

What is ironic is that Rev. Heather Cook was hired by the diocese but later laid off after she relocated from her parish in Pennsylvania to Syracuse. She went on to become the assistant bishop of Maryland where she killed a cyclist in a drunken state and is now doing time.


Among his "visionary" notions, Bishop Adams tore down the Thornfield Conference Center because the "vision committee" determined that it had no future and was expensive to run and maintain. Many parishes were not paying or are underpaying their mandatory diocesan assessment and the bishop used his column in the Messenger, calling on parishes to pay their assessments.

Said a parish priest, "You don't do this if only one or two parishes are a bit delinquent."


There was talk of a Presentment against Bishop Adams for his mismanagement of the diocese at that time. "He is approaching a convention in November with what must be anything but the expectation of good things. Even the liberals don't like him now because of the Bollinger inhibition. He controls his clergy through fear that they may be next. Even the female clergywoman who is the head of Integrity of Central New York has written Adams a highly critical letter telling him that he is not running the diocese very well and that the Bollinger inhibition is wrong. We do not agree with her sexual politics, but she is on the mark here," said another source who asked not to be named.


In the first of two "reconciliation" attempts in his diocese, Adams went after the parish of St. Andrews Church in Syracuse in 2006, after the diocese refused to settle a lawsuit against the Syracuse parish.

Attorney Raymond J. Dague wrote at that time, "After six months of litigation by the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York to take over one of its former parishes in Syracuse, that parish offered to settle the case by giving their property to the diocese, but the diocese refused. The diocese filed the lawsuit against St. Andrews Church (last July) to take the property from those who have worshiped in the local congregation since 1903. The Diocese did this because the parish transferred its allegiance from Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams, III of Syracuse to the Anglican Archbishop of Rwanda.

"We thought we were making a very generous and charitable offer to settle their lawsuit against our people," said Raymond Dague, attorney for the parish. "They would get the buildings which are owned by us and for which they have sued us. This would have spared everyone the continuing scandal of a bishop suing a local church to assert spiritual authority in the civil courts."

The parish offered to stop defending the lawsuit and deed the church building, the parish hall, and the rectory over to the diocese in exchange for a nominal lease arrangement of up to five years so the people in the local congregation could find another place to worship. During the time of the lease, the local congregation, and not the diocese, would have been responsible to maintain the buildings, and then turn the keys over to the diocese once the congregation built a new church. Adams refused.

The judge did throw out the Diocese's lawsuit against St. Matthias Society, LTD. St. Matthias is an independent, not-for-profit corporation which aids parishes faithful to the historic faith of the church and the Anglican Communion. It had been supporting the work of St. Andrews.

"In the Diocese of Central NY, we learned that Skip could not to be trusted. This is sad, but true. He said he would negotiate with us for our buildings, but whenever he rejected an offer that we made he never made a counter-offer. Despite his assurance to us, we quickly learned that he had no interest in negotiating," wrote Dague recently.


In another case that got more national attention, was the case of the Rev. Matt Kennedy and his parish, the Church of the Good Shepherd, Binghamton, NY, which sought to leave the diocese after the election of Gene Robinson, an openly homosexual man living with his partner. Kennedy offered to buy his parish for over $150,000.

Adams would have none of it, and rather then let the parish sit idle, he sold the historic parish to a Muslim entity, rather than allowing it to remain in the hands of traditional Anglicans who practice the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

The death knell for the structure as a Christian house of worship was delivered on February 9, 2010, when it was sold to Imam Muhammad Affify, doing business as the Islamic Awareness Center, for a mere $50,000, a fraction of the church's assessed $386,400 value.

The classic red Anglican doors were repainted green, the simple cross on top of the steeply peaked bell tower was lopped off, and a windowpane cross in the side door was disfigured leaving only narrow vertical glass with the cross beam being painted over to hide it. The Muslims consider the cross a pagan symbol.

The Rev. Matt Kennedy, his wife and partner in ministry, Anne, their young family of six and congregation were sent packing in the bitter cold and deep snow in January, 2008 when the New York Supreme Court ordered them to relinquish the 130-year-old church building, which stands overlooking the meandering Susquehanna River.


The legacy of Bishops Adams can be demonstrated by his 15-year tenure as Bishop of Central New York. It has been nothing short of disastrous. He left with the diocese in financial tatters. When he took over in 2002, the diocese had 22,389 baptized persons. In 2016, it had dropped to 12,307, a drop of 49.6%. Average Sunday attendance in 2002 was 6,734. By 2016, it had dropped to 3,589, a drop of 48.6%. Plate and pledge dropped from just a tad over $7 million in 2010 to under $6.5 million in 2016.

A 2016 Parochial report reveals that baptisms totaled 147 and confirmations totaled 94. The church received 38. Burials, on the other hand totaled a whopping 302.

The average age of all its priests is 62, with only 6% under the age of 44. The percentage of priests aged 55 to 65+ is a whopping 73%. In eight years, they must retire with little hope for their replacement.

The number of full time priests of one congregation is only 39%. Part time priests of one congregation is 38%, priests in yoked churches or parish clusters is 16%. There are more fulltime women priests, 44%, with only 36% full time male priests. Non-stipendiary priests number 8%.

Of the 81 congregations, there are only 64 working priests. This includes interim, full‐and part‐time and non‐stipendiary priests serving as rectors, deans, vicars, curates, assistants, associates or pastors. It does not include supply priests or retired assisting priests or emeritus priests.

Based on the current trajectory, the diocese will cease to exist within 5 years. All is not well in upstate and western New York. Bishop Sean Rowe the Bishop of Northwestern PA (since 2007), also serves as Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem (since 2014). When Bishop Bill Franklin retires as Bishop of Western NY next year, the plan is for Bishop Rowe to serve NW PA and WNY. They are contiguous dioceses. The Diocese of Bethlehem has elected a new bishop, who will be enthroned in a few months' time. Bishop Rowe's tenure as provisional bishop will then end. A similar fate awaits the diocese of Central New York.

This is the diocese Bishop Adams left behind, and now he believes he can make nice with "reconciliation" talk in South Carolina, when his own track record in Central New York reveals just how venal and dysfunctional his behavior was there.

Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina should expect nothing from Adams based on past experience. Hell hath no fury like an Episcopal bishop scorned, and Adams, aided by the leadership at 815 2nd Avenue in New York, will go to the mat, even though a mere 445 persons have showed up at three "listening" sessions hoping that now former Episcopalians will get on board with him.

Litigation continues even though Adams thinks he can forge ahead and reclaim the properties. "There are no time frames for anything at this stage. For now, there appears to be a further long road of litigation ahead of us before anything is settled," Canon Jim Lewis told VOL.


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