Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bishop Ackerman Responds to ‘Renunciation'

From the Living Church-

The Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman expressed dismay on Monday that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has described him as renouncing his orders as a bishop. Bishop Ackerman resigned from the Diocese of Quincy in November 2008.

“I did so for reasons of physical, spiritual and emotional distress, related to the ongoing demise of the Episcopal Church,” he said in a statement that he read at the beginning of a conference call arranged by Anglicans United, which is based in Dallas, Texas.

Now that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has described him as renouncing his ministry, “I cannot go back to the church of my childhood and perform a funeral,” Bishop Ackerman said. “There has been absolutely no pastoral concern or pastoral care.”

Bishop Ackerman said he would not have responded to the Presiding Bishop’s actions if she had not gone public with the matter. He said that publicity prompted many people to ask whether he had indeed renounced his orders as a bishop.

“For me, this is not a matter of whether I’m in the Episcopal Church or not in the Episcopal Church. I want to be obedient to the call on my life,” he said, adding that his mother had dedicated him to God while he was still in her womb.

The bishop said he had sent two handwritten letters to the Presiding Bishop, the first of which said that he did not write in order to renounce his ministry. Instead, Bishop Ackerman had been invited to serve as a U.S.-based bishop for the Diocese of Bolivia, without a vote in its House of Bishops. Bishop Ackerman requested a transfer to that diocese.

Bishop Ackerman said he wanted his correspondence with the Presiding Bishop to be honorable and discreet, and he wanted to continue ministry to Episcopalians in the dioceses of Quincy and Springfield.

“If this happens to me when I’ve tried to do this above board, what happens to those who have not voted to work within the system?” he said. “I’m concerned that they’re also going to be treated with a lack of love. I don’t want anyone else to be mistreated.”

Bishop Ackerman said he has heard from the Diocese of Bolivia regarding the Presiding Bishop’s actions. “Having heard from the Diocese of Bolivia, I understand that I’m a priest in good standing in that diocese,” he said.

Bishop Ackerman said he is troubled by the Episcopal Church’s apparent inability to transfer bishops peaceably to other provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

“It must see itself as highly independent,” he said. “If orders are not universal in the Anglican Communion, they cease to be catholic in the full sense of the word. … The Episcopal Church does not own the ministry of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.”

Neva Rae Fox, the Episcopal Church’s program officer for public affairs, said the Presiding Bishop was unlikely to respond to Bishop Ackerman’s remarks.

“I do not know if the Presiding Bishop has seen Keith Ackerman’s statement, nor do I know if he has sent any correspondence to the Presiding Bishop,” she wrote in response to a request for comment. “I do not anticipate that the Presiding Bishop will have a statement.”


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