Monday, April 23, 2012

No Julian No!

Dear Bishop Julian,

It is great that you have grown from strength to strength in your ministry as an ordained person within global Anglicanism, to the point where you exercise ministry as a bishop within the CANA fold. You have journeyed a long way from a curacy in Westport, New Zealand!

However, within Anglican polity we hold that any one of us, even a bishop, is capable of fallible pronouncement. Thus it is worth pointing out that you have made a judgement call which is unfair and unfounded. According to a writing of yours, published on VirtueOnline (H/T Fr Ron Smith), you have written,

"On 16 April, the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch held an international press conference and public celebration (in a stark, visual demonstration of the wilting moral and spiritual leadership of that body, only 40 'locals' showed up from that city's population of 384,000 according to The New Zealand Herald) to unveil avant garde Japanese architect Shigeru Ban's model for a NZD 5 million (USD 4.2 million) cardboard cathedral."
It would be difficult for anyone in Christchurch, whatever you intended by this statement, not to feel that you have made a judgement call on the work of Anglicans in the Diocese of Christchurch: "the wilting moral and spiritual leadership of that body." What is the basis for saying this? According to you it is because "only 40 'locals' showed up from the city's population of 384,000".

I suggest a bishop, as a theological and spiritual leader might be expected to show more human insight than you demonstrate here. Insight that press conferences are not church services so the number turning up has no direct relationship to spiritual health and vigour; insight that in a post quake stressed city there might be one hundred and one other things needing to be done rather than turning up to press conferences; insight that the project of building a cathedral for permanent service in the worship of God might be a long project, long enough to warrant a temporary, transitional structure such as a 'cardboard cathedral' to be built; insight that whatever the religious background of the architect, whatever the building materials and whatever the cost, to make progress on such a matter at such a time might have cost many people tears, sweat, sleepless nights, and much time in prayer. In short, I think a bishop could be expected to show some appreciation for his brothers and sisters in Christ and their labours in the Lord's Name and for the Lord's service.

Instead we have this cutting judgement (of which only a part is cited above). The moral and spiritual leadership of Anglicans in Christchurch is not wilting. It is not perfect, and like any flower it could do with some tender love and a pouring of the water of encouragement. But 'wilting' as a judgement on our leadership is neither fair nor founded on any evidence you bring forward.

If, however, we are judged in this way from afar we might just wilt from discouragement. But is a self-fulfilling judgement on us the lasting memory of your ministry which you wish to leave with us?

Yours in Christ, even in disagreement,

1 comment:

Father Ron Smith said...

From his clerical career (and I use that word in its widest sense) which has been fraught with the need for constant change; one might question the attitude of former Nelson priest, Julian Dobbs. He has accepted what might be seen as a very doubtful 'preferment' into an American church founded as a result of institutional piracy by a group hell-bound on 'reforming' the Anglican Tradition - of which he was once a beneficiary.

His plea for loyalty to the past (in his comments about our plans to demolish Christchurch Cathedral) fits ill with his desire to challenge the 3-legged stool of Anglicanism, by his move into schism from that provenance.

"By their fruits ye shall know them"