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TEXAS: Twenty clergy walk out of convention after resolutions fail

DIOCESE OF TEXAS: Twenty clergy walk out of convention after resolutions fail

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

Bishop Don Wimberly got his way at the recent Diocese of Texas convention. He managed to squelch four conservative resolutions affirming orthodox positions on human sexuality before they even came to the floor for a vote.

The convention delegates, representing 85,000 members from 160 churches in the 59,000-square-mile diocese, filled the Harvey Convention Center with standing-room-only crowd at nearby First Baptist Church.

It was a pyrrhic victory for the bishop.

Some 15 to 20 of his clergy walked out of the convention many of whom had supported him during his election, this included one delegation of four from Katy. They wanted a strong statement opposing the actions of General Convention. They never got it.

The liberal element in the diocese (which has grown much stronger and larger in the past several years) also wanted no vote taken, so they became staunch allies of Bishop Wimberly. Ironically these same liberals did not support Wimberly during the election for coadjutor.

Many of the liberals supported Archdeacon Dena Harrison in the election for coadjutor.

According to reports reaching Virtuosity, no one seemed particularly happy about the 90-minute discussion about "the sexuality issue" held the final morning of the convention. The conservatives spoke forcefully and passionately from Holy Scripture, and the liberals seemed smug and detached. In the end no votes were taken. It was all talk.

Bishop Wimberly gave a passionate address to Council saying that no resolution or canonical change ever brought a person to Christ or transformed a life. On that point he is absolutely right. What he did not mention was the fact that he got to vote himself on the issue at General Convention. The orthodox in the Diocese had nowhere else to vote but at their own convention -- and that vote was denied to them by a slick parliamentary maneuver.

What Virtuosity learned was this: The committee on the Bishop's address (which usually comes up with resolutions echoing whatever the bishop said) suddenly introduced a voice resolution to set aside all four of the conservative resolutions -- barring them from coming to the floor -- but also setting aside time for them to "have dialogue together, without voting."

This maneuver (from a heretofore innocuous committee) caught everyone by surprise. Several conservatives rose immediately to "table" that voice resolution, but that effort was ruled out of order. Another motion to "set aside" the committee's voice resolution was ruled to be in order, and it was voted down . . . meaning that the committee's voice resolution was immediately up for a vote. It passed, probably by a 60-40 percent standing vote.

The result: No votes were taken on the sexuality issue at this Convention.

The mainstream news media ignored the convention, for the most part -- with the exception of David Vara of the Houston Chronicle, Virtuosity was told.

As a result several long-time conservative priests are now angling for retirement Virtuosity has learned. A few congregations are looking closely at the NACDP, but Bishop Wimberly has already given his "godly counsel" that this diocese does not want anything to do with THAT group.

The Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), meanwhile, has put in place a fledgling church in Houston, and others will no doubt spring up under the oversight of Bishop T.J. Johnson in Little Rock.

"Where we the orthodox go from here is anyone's guess," said a source. A great many of them are waiting quietly to see what (if anything) comes out of the new Eames Commission.

Wimberly's appeal was successful for the most part and in his address he appealed for unity, ministry and commitment. "We are together in this ... I share ministry with you, not to you," he said. "I've learned (over the years) that we are followers of Jesus Christ, not an institution."

He received a standing ovation at the end of his remarks, which were, he said, mostly "from the heart" and not found in his written address distributed to the delegates.

But Wimberly, an Episcopalian lifer of more than 40 years, and who was the bishop of the Diocese of Lexington for 15 years, before becoming bishop of the Diocese of Texas has only been at the job for eight months.

But his actions at this convention have made him a pariah among the orthodox and opens wide the door now for revisionists to walk in and take over the reins, filling whatever ecclesiastical posts surrounding the bishop that need filling.

Whether he wants to admit it or not Wimberly has made his bed with the revisionists and he will lie with them. And they know it.

The truth is, there has never been an occasion where a bishop has folded his cards on sexuality issues who can ever again gain the moral high ground on gospel imperatives. Never. The orthodox will never trust him, and they will begin to cut at his authority in small and large ways. One of them will be by withholding money.

Wimberly will be reluctantly allowed into orthodox parishes, but it will be made clear to him that he is not loved and only half-heartedly welcome. In time he may come to hate the job. He will also begin to make more and more threats to use his power to subjugate rising orthodox discontent. That too is part of the scenario.

The revisionists, through organizations like Via Media will begin to push him harder on same-sex issues, Robinson's consecration, the ordination of homoerotic priests and, with pressure he will, in time succumb.

It has always been that way and it will continue that way. Add to the mix the collegiality pressure from the Club of Purple (House of Bishops), and he will be Frank's man within a year.

The Diocese of Texas, which formerly had such great bishops as Ben Benitez, now a bitter opponent of ECUSA's revisionism, began its slide under Claude Payne, will now move it to completion under Don Wimberly.

And the issue while symbolized in sexuality issues is more deeply rooted in the bishops' failure to believe and accept the authority of Scripture.

The revisionists now have Wimberly on the ropes, and they will toy with him and pressure him before they deliver the knockout punch. When that moment comes he will be only too glad to surrender and acknowledge that he has become their man.

It is only a matter of time.

NOTE: If you are not receiving this from VIRTUOSITY, the Anglican Communion's largest biblically orthodox Episcopal/Anglican Online News Service, then you may subscribe FREE by going to: www.virtuosityonline.org. Virtuosity's website has been accessed by more than 900,000 readers in 45 countries on six continents. This story is copyrighted but may be forwarded electronically with reference to VIRTUOSITY and the author. No changes are permitted in the text.

END

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