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WEST TENNESSEE: Bishop Blasts Orthodox

A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Don Johnson (West Tennessee)

Dear fellow Episcopalians in West Tennessee,

As the Bishop of The Diocese of West Tennessee, it is my privilege to
serve beside you in witness to Christ. In this particular circumstance,
I do so no w as one who must uphold the doctrine, discipline and worship
of the Church I have sworn to defend. No matter what oneE28099s
opinions are about the more controversial decisions reached at our last
General Convention, one has to admit that they were done publicly and
above board. Using the long established means to reach decisions as a
Church gathered in Convention, the outcome and resulting actions were
literally done before the eyes of the world.

Loyal opposition and honest dissent to such actions are legitimate and
should be honored by all. I have been careful to do so. However,
deceitfulness and subversive sabotage justified in the name of serving
Christ cannot be overlooked. To this point, I direct your attention to
an article in the January 14, 2004 issue of The Commercial Appeal
outlining publicly the American Anglican

Council's confidential game plan for the destruction of The Episcopal
Church U.S.A. by becoming a replacement jurisdiction, even if it means
disobedience of canon law on a widespread basis as deemed necessary. At
this time I have in my possession the full text of the confidential
letter cited in the article. In as much as what has been done in
darkness has now been brought into the light, I urge you to read for
yourself this document that lays out the American Anglican Council's
plan of destruction.

I do not endorse, nor will I have this diocese in any way associated
with this effort, and I will use all the power of my office to see to it
that our clergy and congregations will not be in any formal membership
arrangement with this or any other such group seeking to destroy the
Episcopal Church. To this end, I am taking the following initial steps:
First, I am posting in its entirety on our diocesan web page
(www.episwtn.org) the letter from the American Anglican Council's
representative, the Rev. Geoffrey W. Chapman, who writes on behalf of
the American Anglican Council and their Bishop's Committee on Adequate
Episcopal Oversight.

It is their response letter to Episcopal congregations across the
country who have requested what they describe as Adequate Episcopal
Oversight. Specifically, this letter refers to oversight by a bishop who
has bought into the American Anglican Council's plan to sabotage The
Episcopal Church. This secret plan is very different from AAC's public
statements to the effect that it would work within The Episcopal Church
under its Constitution and Canons to bring about change in Church policies.

Second, I have called a special meeting of the Standing Committee. I am
asking for its advice and counsel concerning what next steps need to be
take n by my office regarding our clergy and congregations formally
affiliated with the American Anglican Council and, implicitly, with its

Third, while it may be obvious from the tone of this letter, I want to
go o n record in saying that I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of
the American Anglican Council. Further, I do not endorse, support or
condone their plan to methodically create anarchy in the Church.

Fourth, until the American Anglican Council made explicit what many
already thought was their real agenda, I have spoken with respect for
the bishops, members of the clergy and lay persons who have found in
this organization a place to express their honorable dissent and loyal
opposition. It is to you that I address the following:

It is my firm belief that most of you who have associated with the
American Anglican Council did so for honorable reasons with no idea that
their avowed actual goal is to destroy The Episcopal Church as it
currently exists. However, according to their own documents, they seem
to advocate whatever means necessary to innovatively move around, beyond
or within the canons to do so. I know that not everyone associated with
the American Anglican Council is of one mind. However, these revelations
that have just come to light may help clarify your thinking about their
agenda. As such, I hope that you will see this as an opportunity for you
and your congregation to rethink and officially disassociate with this

I ask your prayers for our Church, our Diocese and for our clergy and
lay leaders who will be asked to help me be faithful in accomplishing
this minis try for ChristE28099s witness and love. To that end, I remain

Faithfully yours,

The Rt. Rev. Don E. Johnson Bishop of West Tennessee

(As provided for in Title III, Canon 24, Section 5, this Pastoral Letter
is to be read at each service on either Sunday, January 18th, 25th, or
February 1st, 2004, or announced as being available, and a sufficient
number of hard copies should be provided to those requesting them.)

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