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WEST TENNESSEE: Open Warfare Breaks Out Against Orthodox Clergy And Laity


By David W. Virtue

MEMPHIS, TN-(9/12/2004)--The Dean of St. Mary's Cathedral in Memphis, the flagship parish in the Diocese of West Tennessee, has declared open warfare on orthodox clergy and laity in his diocese.

In a front page article posted at the cathedral's website, Dean Clarence D. Baker blasted the American Anglican Council, the orthodox wing of the Episcopal Church, and in an article titled "Thoughts on the Diocese of West Tennessee & the American Anglican Council" he ripped into AAC president Canon David C. Anderson accusing him of fomenting schism and creating chaos within the church.

"It seems to me that those who support AAC Mid-South ought to immediately call for the resignation of the national AAC leadership and disavow the stated goal of the organization. If the leadership refuses to resign the members in Memphis ought to quit the organization." Baker said he has been a voice for reconciliation...for staying at the table no matter one's theological position on human sexuality. "Times are changing now and it is more difficult than ever to have the dialogue I would like to have."

Baker said he met his friend and peer, The Very Rev. Sam Candler, Dean of St. Philip the flagship cathedral in Atlanta and said Candler recounted a conversation he had with Anderson, and when he asked Anderson what it was the AAC wanted, Anderson replied, "What we want is to create chaos within the Episcopal Church." I asked Sam if I could quote him on that and he said absolutely, because that is exactly what Anderson said.

Virtuosity confronted Anderson and asked if what he said was true, and the AAC leader replied, "I haven't spoken with or in the presence of Sam Candler very many times. When I am asked what we really want, which is frequently, I say that in a perfect world I would want the Episcopal Church to repent, to straighten out its doctrinal and theological errors and misdeeds, and be restored to full communion with Global Anglicanism, but I don't think that will happen. Failing that, I would like to see ECUSA severely reprimanded and sanctioned by the global Anglican Primates, and reduced to observer status in the Anglican Communion. I would like for the global Primates to make some provision to recognize faithful orthodox Episcopalians so that in a time of membership suspension the faithful Episcopalians could continue to be in full communion with the rest of our global church. That is what I really want."

Anderson recalled having lunch with Dean Candler at Bones Restaurant in Atlanta three months ago and said to him by way of challenge, "The Church is in chaos over the Gene Robinson issue and the blessings of gays, and you Sam led the charge, you bear some of the responsibility." I don't recall that he answered me, he told Virtuosity.

Your statement, "I believe it is now time for those who share that goal to leave the Episcopal Church," is a statement that is pushed on the orthodox constantly. There is a war going on in the church today brought on by the revisionist actions and continued by the revisionists actions.

Dioceses throughout the country are adopting liturgies for marrying/blessing same sex relationships. Two seated bishops, Chane and Bruno have personally officiated at same sex blessings of their clergy.

Appointments to congregations are denied orthodox clergy because the revisionist bishop doesn't want "that type" in the diocese. Clergy are threatened that if they join the AAC or the Network they will be brought up on charges, or given godly admonitions. Congregations are told to disaffiliate from the AAC or the ACN or else by their bishops."

Then Anderson blasted Baker saying, "It probably becomes a Constitutional issue at some point of, denial by an employer of an employee's rights to free assembly and freedom of speech. What do I really want? Ask me yourself, I'll tell you!"

"You don't want me to exercise my rights as a free citizen and come to Memphis and speak. Don't attend. Or do attend and actually hear with your own ears what I am saying to the saints."

Baker replied by recalling the words of the Rev. Geoff Chapman, an AAC consultant who wrote in a memo saying, "Our ultimate goal is a realignment of Anglicanism on North American soil..." He speaks further of, "faithful disobedience of canon law..." if necessary. Secrecy, schism and the purposeful breaking of laws that are not unjust; this does not sound Christian to me."

Anderson hit back at Baker saying, "You attack the AAC, national, local, anywhere, with an old piece about the Chapman memo. The musings of an AAC sub committee member who had not circulated the document to the AAC leadership, and had no authorization to speak for the AAC as a statement of policy or long range plans. [It was] unfortunate that he wrote it, unfortunate that he circulated it for others, unfortunate that you are still living in the past; this is September and we are waiting for the Lambeth Commission Report, maybe you should also."

The AAC Mid-South has scheduled a meeting in September and has invited The Rev David Anderson, president and CEO of the national AAC, among others to attend.

Bishop Don Johnson says he will not endorse, nor will he 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, he wrote in a
Pastoral Letter.

Johnson, a revisionist, did not start out there. "He was a solid Anglo-Catholic, when we were in seminary together," said Fr. David L. Moyer to Virtuosity. "It is distressing to me that Bishop Johnson seems to have progressively fallen away from what I always knew him to hold dear. So often the Episcopacy has that unfortunate affect of putting ambition ahead of theological principal. It has been a sad decline to watch, said the Anglo-Catholic rector of Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, PA.


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