Monday, July 19, 2010

Trinity congregation ‘where we never expected to be’ with leader’s sudden suspension

From Upper South Carolina-

There were prayers for the Very Rev. Philip C. Linder and his family Sunday and a call for members of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral “to seek out God in prayer” as the congregation gathered for the first time since the extraordinary suspension last week of its longtime leader.
“The events of this past week have brought us to a place where we never expected to be,” the Rev. Charles M. Davis Jr., who was named interim dean, told the packed congregation gathered in Averyt Hall for the 10 a.m. service.

Linder, 50, was suspended Wednesday as dean of the downtown cathedral by Bishop W. Andrew Waldo, the newly consecrated leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, following a move by the vestry, the church’s governing body, to sever its 11-year relationship with Linder.

Waldo, who was asked by the vestry to mediate the conflict, took the unusual step of suspending the dean after Linder apparently violated a pastoral directive not to speak to staffers or members about the leadership schism.

“I ache for Philip, and I ache for you,” Davis told the hushed congregation. “I know that this time is not easy, but I call on you to seek out God in prayer.” He prayed for the bishop and for the Linder family and told the congregation, “I am here for you.”

In place of the usual sermon, Davis read the bishop’s letter that was posted Friday on the church’s website. In that letter, Waldo, who was consecrated bishop of the diocese May 22, acknowledged the shock and concern generated by his action. But he laid the responsibility for the suspension on Linder, who Waldo said continued to contact Trinity members either himself, or through his wife, Ellen, as the conflict simmered.

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