Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Update on the Livonia Situation

The Bishop of Michigan sent the following letter concerning the situation at St. Andrew's in Livonia. It is particularly interesting that Fr. Kannapell says "We have come to believe that no Episcopal bishop is theologically acceptable to our parish" and the bishop asks the Diocese for their prayers for the new mission's success.

January 10, 2006

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

As I indicated in the email that most of you received over the weekend, the Rev. C. Allen Kannapell, who had served most recently as rector of St. Andrew's, Livonia, has been inhibited for Abandonment of Communion of this Church (Title IV, Canon 10, Sec. 1). I took this action with much sadness and regret.

In a letter to me, signed by All and members of the vestry, and in a letter to the congregation, Kannapell announced his intention to leave St. Andrew's and the Episcopal Church, and said that some parishioners will leave with him.

Allen Kannapell and vestry members have been in conversiton with me over the past year as they have contemplated leaving the diocese and the Episcopal Church. Fr. Kannapell requested that St. Andrew's Church be placed under the juridiction of an overseas bishop of his choice - an option that is not possible in accordance with the canons of the Episcopal Church. In the last several months, I offered several nmaes of conservative Episcopal bishops who could provide pastoral care to the Livonia Parish, in accordance with the provisions outlined in the document entitled, "Care for All the Churches", commonly know as DEPO or Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight. However, in his January 5 letter to me, Fr. Kannapell refused oversight by any bishop of the Episcopal Church declaring, "We have come to believe that no Episcopal bishop is theologicallly acceptable to our parish."

Fr. Kannapell was given the opportunity to renounce his vows, which he refused. Therefore, I have inhibited him and place the Rev. John Henry as the temporary priest in charge of St. Andrew's Parish in Livonia. John Henry, a priest canonically licenced in the diocese of Northwest Pennsylvania, ahs been serving as assisting priest at the Church of the Holy Cross, Novi. He has also served congregations in Pennsylvania and New York.

The participation of the warden and vestry in actions taken to leave the Episcopal Church is interpreted as their abandonment of their duties, per Canon 1.17.8 of the Constititution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. I have therefore declared their offices vacant and deprived them of any further authorization to exercise the rights associated with those offices. The congregation of St. Andrew's will move to raise up new lay leadersip in the near future with the guidance of Fr. Henry.

I was blessed to spend this past weekend leading worship for the members of St. Andrew's who desire to remain part of the parish, part of the Diocese of Michigan and part of the Episcopal Church. For the immediated future, the worship schedule of the congregation will be maintained as usual. Clearly, a strong and determined Christian community that desires to rebuild the St. Andrew's parish was present this weekend. I ask your prayers as this community embarks on their new journey.

Finally, the decision by Allen Kannapell and others to leave the Episcopal Church is a prayerful choice. As members of the Body of Christ, we must honor the dignity with which they have taken action and offer them our prayers. Please do not engage in speculation or conversation that would denigrate the new mission Allen and others feel called to pursue. Rather, let us pray that God's mission will be furthered by the life and witness in which we all engage on our journey of faith.

The Rt. Rev'd Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr.