Fr Stephen Smuts

Posts Tagged ‘Fr Christopher Kelley

St Mary of the Angels Priest Faces Ecclesiastical Trial by ACA

with 7 comments

Breaking news – on SUNDAY – just out over at Virtue Online.

On second thought: You can read about it there.

Very sad the way things are going over there…

 

St Mary of the Angels, Hollywood (ACA – TAC) in the LA Times

[For a background to the situation, on this blog, go here, here, here, or here.]

Loz Feliz Anglican parish has been embroiled in an odd sort of holy war since some of the 60 members voted to join the Catholic Church. How it will end, God only knows.

The Los Angeles Times:

Under the glimmer of a fingernail moon, Christopher Kelley tiptoed toward a two-story, Spanish Mission-style building in Los Feliz. He and his crew were jittery. What if a security guard spotted them?

A few blocks away, late-night revelers mingled in trendy bars. But Kelley’s target was dark and hushed — exactly as he wanted.

The building’s front door was protected by a padlocked, wrought-iron gate. So the crew crept around back, sidestepping a few jugs of rainwater and a tomato plant. They strained to hear whether anyone had followed them.

Nothing.

Then a locksmith pried open the door.

Motion-sensitive lights flickered on. Kelley felt a rush of joy. For the first time in weeks, the priest was back inside his church.

St. Mary of the Angels is an Anglican parish embroiled in an odd sort of holy war.

On one side are the Rev. Kelley and his supporters, who say their rivals are resisting the parish’s efforts to join the Roman Catholic Church. On the other: parishioners and Anglican authorities who accused Kelley of wrongdoing, took him to court, ran him out of the church and changed the locks.

Church quarrels are frequently decided in courtrooms, particularly when property is involved. A few years back, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles took a dispute with a breakaway parish all the way to the California Supreme Court.

But the St. Mary’s saga is notable for its viciousness. The church has perhaps 60 members, and the bickering among them has been marked by incendiary accusations and screaming matches that often end with “God is on our side!” The parish itself became such a battleground that for a time community groups were shooed out and services canceled.

“Never in the annals of church history has it gone down quite like this,” said Canon Anthony Morello of the Anglican Church in America, which has sided with the group trying to oust Kelley.

Kelley arrived as parish priest in 2007, having been chosen by St. Mary’s elected board of directors. Now 65, he is white-haired, blue-eyed, slight in build. He speaks in a soft, somewhat grandfatherly tone.

“He was just so pleasant,” said former board member Keith Kang, now a leader of the rival faction.

Kelley and his family — the Anglican church allows married priests — had been living in Michigan, where he worked as an archivist. They relished the summery feel of Los Angeles and the parish’s only-in-Hollywood history. (Its founding priest, Neal Dodd, had bit parts in dozens of films. He usually played a clergyman.)

Kelley and his wife, Mary Alice, moved into the church cottage with two of their children. They embraced the eclectic mix of congregants, many of them converts from other faiths, and the church’s black cat, Vesper.

Somewhere along the way, the goodwill crumbled. The two sides can’t even agree on how.

Kelley says the troubles stem from his enthusiasm for joining the Roman Catholic Church, a door that Pope Benedict XVI recently opened for Anglican parishes. At Kelley’s urging, St. Mary’s members have twice voted to head down that path.

“We can see the dispiritedness of the Anglican movement,” Kelley said. “Pope Benedict’s offer was a sanctuary for us.”

Such a step would sever their ties to the Anglican Church in America, a group of conservative parishes that long ago broke with the larger and better-known Episcopal Church. Kelley portrayed the effort to remove him as a last-ditch attempt to remain in the Anglican fold.

Kelley’s adversaries said the dispute has little to do with faith. Instead, in court papers they described him as a tyrant who mishandled church money — allegedly paying a dental bill with parish funds — and who threatened to excommunicate those who crossed him. Kelley denied the allegations.

Several longtime parishioners had begged Anglican authorities to discipline him. Langley Brandt said in an email to a church official that Kelley was prone to “violent temper tantrums” in which “his face goes red, his hands stiffen and become like a skeleton, and he screams at you with eyes budging.”

In December, a majority of the parish board asked the priest to leave. He didn’t. In April, Anglican officials said they, too, tried to push him out.

Kelley said the bishop who wrote the letter suspending him had no authority to do so, and he continued leading church services.

Kelley’s last Sunday Mass in the sanctuary, on May 20, included a reading from the Gospel of John. It began “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

His rivals did not attend. In court papers, they alleged that Kelley staffed church services with security guards, forcing his adversaries to worship at a condominium complex. (He said that wasn’t the case.)

Soon after, they secured a temporary restraining order against the priest. It barred Kelley from acting as St. Mary’s rector, pending a hearing on the allegations. Church authorities also asked the court to do what they had been unable to: kick Kelley out for good.

HT:  John Bruce

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 18, 2012 at 06:03

St Mary of the Angels: The Rest of the Hollywood Story

with 23 comments

With thanks to Fr Lawrence B. Wheeler who pointed out this article by Mrs Martha C. Eischenn in an comment earlier.

“For God is not a God of confusion, but a God of peace.” I Corinthians 14:33

Many wild accusations and pronouncements have been swirling around about St. Mary of the Angels, Hollywood, CA, and especially its rector, Fr Christopher Kelley. It has been anything but peaceful in Hollywood. The following sentence from “An Open Appeal to Bishop Marsh,” by the Rev Lawrence B. Wheeler, Holy Cross, Honolulu, sums it up rather accurately:

“The people of St. Mary’s, Hollywood are now suffering greatly from the wounds of division. The congregation has been polarized over the issue of their transition into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter and Fr. Kelley’s leadership in that direction.”

An attorney involved in the case said, “It is a complicated legal situation.”

Actually it’s not at all complicated. Two very opposing parties actually came together for two very different reasons to support the chaotic upheaval of this well-heeled parish of true believers, led by a very humble, godly priest, to advance their disparate, but parallel, agendas. Each of the parties sought, by any means, to upset both the course of the parish into the Ordinariate and the path to ordination and continued leadership of the rector. Strange bedfellows they were. Personal ambition and the lust for possession of the good land.

The end, which is still unfolding, voices have spoken above the din of the claims. In the end, who has the authority to restore the flock, with its shepherd, thatshepherd that it may safely graze? In the end, does the continued existence of the Patrimony of the Primate, to which St Mary’s clearly belonged, even matter? Did it affect the status of St Mary’s today?

Hoping to capitalize on the court order of June 13, 2012, in which the judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, made a statement that judicial interference in a dispute within a hierarchical religious organization was unconstitutional, Bishop Brian Marsh, as presiding bishop of the Anglican Church in America (ACA), seized the opportunity to make his categorical claim that “as the highest liturgical and religious authority in the ACA” he was advising the Los Angeles Police Department that “Fr Kelley is not the rector at St Mary’s and he has had no authority under the ACA to perform or act in any way as a priest there or to be on the premises since April 2, 2012.”

But the judge’s statement gave Bishop Marsh no such permission. In fact, she simply turns back the questions to the two equal parties in the dispute. Judge Ann I. Jones, concluded the following:

This case clearly presents a dispute within a hierarchical religious organization as to whether the Church has followed its own procedures, i.e., whether the Patrimony of the Primate was properly dissolved or continues to exist. This court would be acting unconstitutionally were it to interject itself into that controversy… Moreover, even if it were not to decide that judicial interference in this matter is unconstitutional, the Court would still deny the Preliminary Injunction on equitable grounds. ACA’s own personnel have repeatedly represented to parishes – after January 1, 2012 (the date on which Plaintiffs claim that the Patrimony dissolved),that, that they simply need to make a decision regarding their future jurisdiction, and that those parishes that wished to enter the Ordinariate would simply need to apply and that the parish’s acceptance would be “no big deal.” Sometime thereafter, as evidenced by this lawsuit, leaving the ACA became a very big deal and defendant’s reasonable reliance to its detriment to proceed under the ACA’s own stated processes estops the Plaintiffs from changing the rules at this juncture. He who seeks equity must do equity. That has not happened in this case.

From the trail of minutes and documents of the ACA itself, it is very clear, not at all complicated, that the ACA has no authority, jurisdiction or oversight in the ministry, fellowship, and decision-making of the Church of St Mary of the Angels, Hollywood.

For a thorough and clear record of the decisions and statements made by the House of Bishops of the ACA for the last two years, all one needs to do is retrieve the Declaration of the Archbishop Louis W. Falk in support of the opposition to Fr. Christopher P. Kelley to Plaintiffs’ Application for a Preliminary Injunction, filed in Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, June 8, 2012. In that declaration, several key exhibits are presented, which again quite clearly support the parish, its duly constituted vestry and duly elected rector, and their right to determine their own destiny. Those documents are:

1. The Letter of the Patrimony – Abp Falk says, in paragraph 8, “In October of 2010, the ACA bishops, myself included, held our semi-annual meeting. Bishop Stephen D. Strawn proposed that the bishops adopt the Patrimony. His proposal was unanimously accepted, and the Bishops thereafter jointly prepared and authorized the issuance of a letter entitled “Patrimony of the Primate,” which does set forth the intent and purpose of the Patrimony.” Paragraph 5 of that letter reads: “If at a future time the clergy or the parish seeks to return to the Diocese from which they were transferred and released, they are to apply to the Bishop/Ordinary for a License and membership respectively.” St Mary’s has never applied to return.

2. Vestry minutes and letters supporting the legitimate votes and subsequent requests for removal from the Diocese of the West of the ACA are likewise exhibits in this Declaration. St Mary’s and its clergy were released to the Patrimony of the Primate with letters dismissory by then bishop of the Diocese of the West (DOW),Daren, Daren K. Williams, on January 28, 2011.

3. Statement by the House of Bishops – on the subject of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, dated January 10, 2012. The end of Paragraph 2 states: “those who were formerly part of the Patrimony of the Primate must now make a decision regarding their future jurisdiction. Anyone, whether clergy or laity, who may now wish to return to the Anglican Church in America, should do so by contacting the diocesan bishop in their area.” Further, “Now that the circumstances regarding the Ordinariate have been clarified, we welcome those who wish to return to the ACA.” St Mary’s did not do so. Whether the Patrimony of the Primate was dissolved on January 1, 2012 or on April 12, 2012 is irrelevant. The path back into a jurisdiction in the ACA was clearly spelled out on at least two occasions recorded. St Mary’s chose not to return.

Archbishop Falk’s closing statement is, “…Bishop Strawn is without authority to issue the April 2, 2012 “Notice of Inhibition” against Father Kelley. From the time Bishop Williams discharged St Mary’s from the DOW in December 2010 through the present, St Mary’s was, and is no longer a member of the DOW, and as such falls outside of the DOW ecclesiastical care as well as its charge and control.”

In a strongly-worded letter, dated February 5, 2011, and entitled: Re: The Status of the Anglican Church in America, the chancellors of all the dioceses wrote: “According to our canons, those Bishops, clergy and parishes who leave for another jurisdiction, such as the Roman Catholic Ordinariate or the so-called Patrimony of the Primate, have, at this time abandoned the communion of this church and the ACA. With deep regret, the ACA declares that they are no longer a part of the ACA.”
So then, who holds the authority today over the household of St Mary of the Angels? And, how do they derive it?

We can state the following by summarizing Fr Wheeler’s appeal:

1. The vestry holds the cards. Whether it’s by the independent authority of the corporation of the parish, which independence was challenged and upheld at least two times before in court, or whether it is by the canons of the diocese or the ACA canons, the latter two of which are irrelevant, St Mary of the Angels has the right, by the agents of its vestry, to determine its destiny and its property use and ownership.

2. At each annual meeting, St Mary’s elected valid members of the vestry. The names of the current members can be supplied by Fr. Kelley and Dr. Allan Trimpi, his rector’s wardenFr. Kelley and Dr. Allan Trimpi, his rector’s warden, can supply the names of the current members. Further, the vestry stand firm in unanimous support of Fr. Kelley as their rector and havevestry stands firm in unanimous support of Fr. Kelley as their rector and has the utmost confidence in his leadership toward the transition into the Ordinariate.

“Therefore, the opinion of certain members of the opposition to the contrary notwithstanding, any contention that Canon Anthony Morello is the priest-in-charge of St Mary’s is simply bogus. Further, the names of any other so-called vestry members purported to you by Fr. Morello, or by any one of the members of the opposition, some of whom have illegally occupied the church building, are also bogus. Neither does Fr. Morello, nor does Bishop Strawn, nor does Bishop Marsh have the authority to elect or appoint members of the vestry, nor, for that matter, does Fr. Kelley. It is the annual meeting of St Mary’s communicants that elects the vestry, period.” (fromFrom the appeal by Fr Wheeler)

In conclusion, I ask these questions:

1. Does it matter that the entire body of St Mary’s voted properly, not once but twice –in 2011 and 2012 – regarding its own destiny, and the overwhelming majority, more than 80%, voted to go to the Ordinariate and fully supported without reservation their priest and rector?

2. Does it matter that the minority, because it desperately wanted to keep its wealth out of the clutches of the Catholic Church did the most heinous things against its own brothers and sisters in Jesus? It was more important to keep the property than to accept the will of the majority, much less abide by the law.

3. Does anyone in the Ordinariate, who is in a position to examine the character and life of a godly priest, this Fr. Kelley, know that from the start there was a pernicious effort afoot, a wicked conspiracy set in motion to destroy a humble priest, who continues under great affliction to be the rector of St Mary’s? Even the civil courts deemed there was no competent evidence to support their trumped-up claims of wrongdoing. All to keep the property, a man’s life and work and a church family’s spiritual journey based on conscience are slammed against the rocks by an advance guilty verdict reported in the court of public opinion.

Let us be reminded that neither Fr. Kelley nor the board of directors of St. Mary’s sought the official court ruling by the Superior Court of California,California was not sought by Fr. Kelley or the board of directors of St. Mary’s, but by members of the oppositionmembers of the opposition pursued it themselves. It was the court of their own choosing. They have no case. Therefore, any further action taken by the ACA, or most especially by the dissidents themselves to circumvent the ruling of the civil court, or to apply ACA canon law to accuse or abuse Fr. Kelley or the true vestry of St. Mary’s, is utterly without merit. The case against Fr Kelley is closed.

This madness is not of God. The lust for power and control, in this case of a substantial property, and the personal ambitions of another, cost an innocent man and an equally innocent congregation not only their reputation, butbut also it cost them their safe grazing in peace and righteousness. St. James warns us perfectly in James 3:16-17, “Where envying and strife is there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace.”

All suffering is redemptive, so we know that God will sanctify this suffering to thosegreatlythose greatly injured, but let us plead for our souls’ health, as in the collect for purity:

Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee and worthily magnify thy holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wow. Do feel free to comment.

 

What’s Going on in Hollywood at St Mary of the Angels (ACA)? A Siege?!

with 20 comments

[For something of a background to the messy situation, go here, here, or here.]

HOLLYWOOD, CA: The Siege of St. Mary of the Angels. Inhibited Priest Occupies Divided Parish.

Fired Anglo-Catholic rector breaks locks into church. Building now occupied by two factions.

Virtue Online has it as an exclusive:

In what could prove to be a made for TV miniseries, an inhibited Anglo-Catholic priest has broken into and illegally occupied his former church, defied a court order, allegedly taken tens of thousands of dollars of church funds, been accused of stealing parish financial records, lying, deception, gossip, character assassination and dividing his small congregation by wanting to join the Roman Catholic Church through the Pope’s offer of an Ordinariate.

It is being described by onlookers and observers as a “bizarre drama” involving a bishop, a Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Church in America (ACA), the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, the Los Angeles Police Department, a frustrated woman judge and a priest, Fr. Christopher P. Kelley who along with his family and a handful of followers, has taken over the lower portion (downstairs area) of the church, covered the windows refusing to leave the parish and rectory, rejecting an inhibition and must now face a trial and possible defrocking.

The end of the siege, now its fifth day, seems nowhere in sight, with no court order demanding his removal currently in effect and a reluctant Los Angeles Police Department to cross church/state lines.

The history of this parish and its priest began in April when VOL first broke the story http://tinyurl.com/d74o6vp that Fr. Kelley had been inhibited. Financial improprieties were alleged and the IRS threatened to seize the church’s property. Kelley was inhibited by Bishop Stephen D. Strawn of the Anglican Church of America (ACA) Diocese of the West on multiple charges of financial mismanagement and “conduct unbecoming a priest.” Kelley said he would not comply with the inhibition “because God told me” and because he did not recognize Bishop Strawn as his bishop. He said Archbishop Louis Falk was his bishop. Bishop Falk later stated he was not asked nor did he offer Episcopal oversight to Fr. Kelley or St. Mary of the Angels. However, St Mary’s appealed to Falk but was never under Falk, as Falk merely facilitated St. Mary’s to go to the Patrimony under then TAC Bishop David L. Moyer. Kelley has not just claimed the Patrimony continues on under Moyer, but another time before has claimed that St. Mary’s was under Archbishop Falk…

At the heart of the matter is the issue of who has ecclesiastical jurisdiction over St. Mary of the Angels at the time this all began with the inhibition…

… On Saturday, June 16, just before 2am, Fr. Kelley’s, former senior warden Alan Trimpi, and others engineered a break in at St. Mary of the Angels, they contacted a locksmith whom they were able to convince they had a right to access the building. The locksmith cut out a lock on the external door leading to the downstairs parish library, directly adjacent from the small cottage in which Kelley and family have been living since he took over as rector. (The reason the removal of the lock was necessary on their part was because all external and a few internal locks were changed by vestry members the day after the temporary restraining order was issued by Judge Ann Jones against Fr. Kelley on 25 May.)

Kelley and company then made their way through the library and into the rest of the downstairs parish hall. They made their way upstairs and were headed towards the parish office when they were confronted by both a private security guard (hired by the vestry) and a parishioner who had voluntarily been sleeping on site to help provide additional security. The police were called but reportedly did not arrive for nearly three hours. In the meantime, the guard, parishioner, and a vestry member who was also on site prevented Kelley and company from taking over the parish office.

The Police eventually arrived…

At some point it was announced that Brian Marsh, presiding bishop of the ACA, had agreed to come to St. Mary’s from his home in Massachusetts and was due to arrive later that evening around 9pm. The reason Marsh was asked and agreed to travel cross-country to be physically present at St. Mary’s was because one of the reasons cited by LAPD officers just after they arrived in response the break in was to verify Kelley’s letter of inhibition as well as Marsh’s letter explicitly firing/removing him from St. Mary’s. Following verification the LAPD still declined to forcibly remove Kelley from the property citing their department’s policy not to intervene internal religious disputes…

It was decided the night before that given the occupation of the downstairs parish hall by Kelley and his supporters that it would be too great a risk to hold Mass in the church on Sunday morning. The church was closed on Sunday. Despite this, Kelley invited several of his supporters and other parishioners to attend services down in the occupied parish hall…

On Monday June 18, Kelley and lawyers appeared in court on an Ex Parte Application to “restore the status quo” that existed before the TRO was granted on 25 May…

ORDINARIATE

Kelley has publicly stated that the issue is his and the majority of St. Mary’s who want to go to Rome through the Pope’s offer of Anglicanorum Coetibus an Ordinariate under the purview of Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson a former Episcopal Presiding Bishop. They had written to him asking for such spiritual sanctuary.

On May 3rd Steenson wrote to St. Mary’s expressing some misgivings over unresolved disciplinary charges against him and them. “Until these internal issues have been resolved, Fr. Kelley’s candidacy for ordination under the terms of Anglicanorum Coetibus and the particular law of the Ordinariate cannot move forward.

“We are not in a position to make determinations regarding the authority of the canons of the ACA, the status of the Patrimony of the Primate, or determining who has canonical oversight of St. Mary’s. We have no jurisdiction in this matter and no authority over the rector or the parish. This issue must be determined within the jurisdiction and structures of the ACA before Saint Mary’s can move forward as a parish,” wrote Steenson, the Ordinariate’s delegate to supervise the transition process. The issue of the parish’s move to Rome came to a grinding halt…

On May 3 the Rector of Saint Mary of the Angels, wrote an “Open Response” to Msgr. Steenson’s admitting there have indeed “been obstacles in our path, and these are being overcome.”

They said that all Vestry members signed the letter to Cardinal Wuerl on December 11, 2011, expressing the stated will of the Parish (by over 80%) to join the Ordinariate soon after its formal erection in 2012. This was also acknowledged by the Cardinal’s office. Ironically it was December 2011 when the vestry voted 5 to 4 in vote of ‘no confidence’ in Kelley. They demanded his resignation then. He refused, and Bp. Moyer refused to inhibit and remove him as he had promised.

They also said the nine points in Bishop Steven Strawn’s April 2 “Notice OF Inhibition” (sic) were all falsehoods. “They rest only on slander, gossip, or speculation. Some of them are actually impossible, as does appear to any careful examiner. Bishop Strawn has never had legitimate jurisdiction over St .Mary of the Angels,” they concluded.

ACA Presiding Bishop Brian Marsh

Concerned that the parish temperature was reaching an incendiary level, now that the courts and police were involved and the priest and his family had taken over the church basement, ACA Presiding Bishop Brian Marsh dropped everything and travelled last Saturday from his home in Massachusetts, arriving late in the evening and went straight to the church.

“I saw a parish in considerable conflict, a church under siege. I went immediately downstairs where Father Kelley, his family members and a few supporters were holed up. I wanted to talk with him, but he talked on his cell phone the entire time. I waited approximately 20 minutes, then left. I was concerned that he refused to speak to me. All I wished to do was get his perspective and see what could be done to defuse the situation. Some priests, and indeed some congregations, create conflict between people. I have asked that the Los Angeles Police Department implement its conflict resolution program. I have also asked the police department to ensure that church services may be held without disruption.”

Bishop Marsh noted that the issues underlying this conflict appear to be about money and the control of church property. St. Mary’s is an extremely wealthy congregation. The rental income from outside sources alone is reported to be $20,000 a month. According to ACA procedures, a parish priest may not control parish funds other than a discretionary account. Father Kelley has reportedly taken money from church funds.

Marsh said that the Ordinariate was a complicated issue for this parish. Some parishioners stated that they wanted it in order to get rid of Kelley, as the Roman Catholic Church would assign a priest and Kelley would be replaced. “Some members have backtracked because the Roman Catholic Church would take the property and the rental income.” The Ordinariate now seems to be off the table.

Following Monday’s court appearance, Kelley requested to receive the property, but the court dismissed the claim. Kelley then purportedly called the Roman Catholic Church archbishop and told him: “we are ready to join the Ordinariate.” The majority of the parish seems to be in favor of removing Kelley. A source said he took $75,000 from the church, but he has a law firm working for him pro bono, though it is suspected by some that the firm was retained under false pretenses when Kelley misrepresented the nature of the legal action against him. There is a level of desperation in the man. The threat is about control. There is only a small cult left that have basically glommed on to Kelley and they have seized the church. The majority of the parish seems to be in favor of removing Kelley.

Kelley Supporters

Kelley does have his supporters. The Rev. Fr. Lawrence B. Wheeler, priest-in-charge, Holy Cross Church, Honolulu who is under the ACA, Diocese of the West, waiting to go into the Ordinariate said the attempt to oust Fr. Kelley and the vestry by taking them to court was “lawless”. He wrote an ‘Open Appeal’ to Bishop Marsh urging him to be magnanimous and just let St. Mary’s go before there is even more suffering from divisions in the body of Christ. Layman John Bruce is also a vigorous supporter of Kelley as is Susan Aldrich.

VOL was told that a canonical presentment may soon be brought against Fr. Kelley and that an ecclesiastical court will likely be convened to decide on possible defrocking.

END

Wow… It reads more like a soap opera! The whole report is here. Very sad, unbecoming, and so unchristian.

One particular Scripture does come to mind:

5 You should be ashamed of yourselves! Don’t you have at least one wise person who is able to settle disagreements between believers? 6 Instead, one believer goes to court against another believer, and this happens in front of unbelievers.

7 You are already totally defeated because you have lawsuits against each other. Why don’t you accept the fact that you have been wronged? Why don’t you accept that you have been cheated?

- 1 Corinthians 6:5-7

UPDATEDeborah Gyapong reflects:

The situation at St. Mary of the Angels in Los Angeles… makes me think of our former cathedral parish in Victoria, B.C.  When conflict developed over entering the Ordinariate with the rector of the cathedral, then Bishop Peter Wilkinson and four clergy left the building behind though they did arrange to take some vestments and other articles so they could  do “church in a box” for a while.  I am glad they did not stick around and try to fight for their “rights” to the property.  I am glad they surrendered all to lead us into the Catholic Church.  I am grateful for their example…

In retrospect, though it may have been hard for Wilkinson to walk away from the building and his cathedral chair, the whole works, I thank God that he quietly did so.  What an example of holy self-offering he has been through out this process.

Which is not to say I understand what is going on in Los Angeles.  It just seems there is a lot more money at stake and a much, much more valuable piece of real estate.   It is sad the Patrimony of the Primate instituted by Archbishop Hepworth to protect those wishing to enter the ordinariates was obliterated and the Anglican Church in American is trying to lay claim to the property and the priest in question.

Sometimes when we encounter injustice, the right thing to do is to turn the other cheek.  Sometimes the right thing to do is walk away.  Sometimes the right thing to do is stand up for your rights.   I do not know the cast of characters in Los Angeles at all and therefore I cannot say what is right for them.  I am just glad our bishops led us into the Catholic Church without conditions.

 

Open Response to Msgr Steenson’s Letter by Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen of St Mary of the Angels

with 16 comments

[Background: Msgr Jeffrey Steenson letter to the ACA parish of St Mary of the Angels in Hollywood is here.]

In via e-mail:

Open Response to Msgr Steenson’s Letter of May 3, 2012

By the Rector, Wardens, & Vestrymen

Of Saint Mary of the Angels, May 5, 2012

There have indeed been obstacles in our path, and these are being overcome.

1)      Almost all Parishioners (and some desiring to become Parishioners) have been instructed in the Evangelium Catechism used by those entering the English Ordinariate. This was approved by Msgr. Stetson. Each person has been exhorted to examine his or her conscience in this matter. 65 have endorsed the Petition at this time.

2)      The Corporation, underCalifornialaw, determines its affiliation. This has been tested in the past in court. Two votes of the Corporation members have already been taken in the affirmative, by over 80%. A third vote is scheduled for May / June, 2012.

3)      St Mary’s website does not refer to any charges, nor have any disciplinary actions been undertaken by any recognized authority over St Mary’s Church. On the instruction of our Bishop, at the division of the House of Bishops of the ACA, our only connection to the ACA was the Patrimony of the Primate. When this structure closed, April 15, 2012, so too were our ties to the ACA. The Solemn Agreement adopted by all ACA bishops on April 26, 2011, at Tucson, guaranteed that any parish desiring to return to an ACA jurisdiction from the Patrimony had to formally request such a move. St Mary’s has not done so. Dissolving in reverse, ex post facto, has no legal effect in theUnited   States of America. (See above, Point 2, and the U.S.Constitution.)

4)      The statement that there are “charges” – and this is noted on the website – is contrafactual, to the best of our knowledge and a thorough web-search. No “charges” were ever brought against Fr Kelley, only allegations, and that without foundation in evidence.

5)      As a matter of Californiacivil law, who has oversight is a matter determined by the Corporation.

6)      The Vestry has been duly elected at an Annual Parish Meeting, according to the By-Laws. NO Vestry Member may be “appointed” in this Parish, under CA Law, not even by any Rector, Bishop, or presumptive Canon. State Law in CA specifies who are the legitimate authorities, past and present.

7)      Only a single Draft of proposed Articles and By-Laws was ever offered by us, and that only for comment, before its submission to the Vestry, although up to five drafts were communicated from sources unknown, pretending to be on authority.

8)      The actual tally of votes was provided electronically immediately after the vote, Sunday, January 22, 2012; this was acknowledged by both Msgr Wm. Stetson and Fr S. Hurd. The vote countof May 1, 2011, was also transmitted and acknowledged. All Vestry members signed the letter to Cardinal Wuerl on December 11, 2011, expressing the stated will of the Parish (by over 80%) to join the Ordinariate soon after its formal erection in 2012. This was also acknowledged by the Cardinal’s office.

9)      At the January 2012 meeting, copies of Dr Chalmers’s statement on parish property was made available to all who wished to examine it; several expressed interest and took it for examination; it was discussed on the floor of the meeting. Fr Raymond Willy and Mr Charles Coulombe were Roman Catholic witnesses; Pastor Philip George was a Presbyterian witness.

10)  The nine points in bishop Steve Strawn’s April 2 “Notice IF Inhibition” (sic) were all falsehoods. They rest only on slander, gossip, or speculation. Some of them are actually impossible, as does appear to any careful examiner. Bp Strawn has never had legitimate jurisdiction over St Mary of the Angels.

 

St Mary of the Angels (ACA) and the Ordinariate: Latest

with 25 comments

We previously reported on the trouble at the ACA parish of St Mary of the Angels in Hollywood here.

Now, according to Virtue Online, the Ordinary, Msgr Jeffrey Steenson, has written the parish regarding several very important issues that will need to be resolved before (if) the parish is to be received corporately into the Ordinariate. For now, individual or family reception is the option open.

You can read the full letter here.

And a statement on the the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter website:

The rector, wardens, and vestry of the Church of St. Mary of the Angels, Hollywood, CA, have previously expressed a desire to become a part of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter within the Catholic Church. However, a number of issues relating to the parish’s corporate structure, the Catholic formation of its clergy and members, and the resolution of some management concerns have yet to be resolved. The Ordinariate thus has no jurisdiction over St. Mary of the Angels; however, individual parishioners are welcome to join the Ordinariate if they wish to do so. The gift of full communion requires a spirit of reconciliation and the healing of relationships, and to this end, the Ordinary, Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, offers his prayers for all involved.

Just a short note from my side:

One thing that is really impressing me about the Ordinariate is the high standard being set. Msgr Jeffrey Steenson (the Ordinary) is acting most judiciously, labouring patiently and that with careful and prayerful discernment. It makes for a really solid and sound foundation (cf. Matt 7:24-27).

UPDATE:  The parish of St Mary of the Angels responds here.

 

Trouble in St Mary of the Angels Parish (ACA)

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According to Virtue Online the IRS has threatened to seize St Mary’s of the Angels Property in Hollywood because financial improprieties:

The priest of St. Mary of the Angels church in Hollywood, Fr. Christopher Kelley has been inhibited by Bishop Stephen D. Strawn of the Anglican Church of America (ACA) Diocese of the West on multiple charges of financial mismanagement and “conduct unbecoming a priest.”

A source has told VOL that Fr. Kelley would not comply with the inhibition “because God told me” and because he does not recognize Bishop Strawn as his bishop.

Kelley told VOL that Bishop Louis Falk is his bishop. Falk is the former Primate of the Anglican Church in America and is Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of the Missouri Valley.

St Mary of the Angels has had no budget for the past 2-3 years and a several church checks have bounced leading to the charges of financial mismanagement. Allegedly, there are also unpaid taxes to the IRS.

The unpaid tax matter is now in the hands of the Civil Courts who will determine in the coming days the final outcome of the parish and Fr. Kelley’s position. (St. Mary of the Angels Los Angeles was one of the first continuing Anglican parishes of the 1970s).

Notice of Inhibition documents were delivered Tuesday to Fr. Kelley by the Canon to the Ordinary and signed by The Rt. Rev. Stephen D. Strawn, Bishop of the Missouri Valley, Episcopal Visitor to the Diocese of the West.

“WE, Stephen Duane Strawn, by Divine Permission Episcopal Visitor of the See of the West within the Anglican Church in American did on the 2nd Day of April, in the Year of Our Lord 2012, with the Counsel and Advice of the Standing Committee did INHIBIT the Rev. Fr. Christopher Kelley …”.

The document says that Fr. Kelley must vacate the premises within 48 hours after receiving the letter and may not contact members of St. Mary’s of the Angels ACA in Hollywood in person, by mail, or by electronic means.

“This order is in violation of California civil codes, as the LAPD officers who responded to my call, explained. It is also a clear violation of my First Amendment Rights,” Kelley told VOL.

The parish has also sought and applied to join the Ordinariate. but all parties say this has nothing to do with the present state of affairs that now exists in the parish with the rector. The Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese of the West said that the Patrimony of the Primate was dissolved on January 1, 2012 with the establishment of the Ordinariate. Those parishes like St. Mary’s that did not vote to leave the ACA and the Traditional Anglican Communion have gone back under the authority of their geographical dioceses until they are received into the Ordinariate.

(Then Archbishop Louis Falk reported at the meeting of the ACA bishops in Tucson — over which he presided — that the bishops passed a resolution on the Patrimony stating that it would continue to exist until its function had been fulfilled, and all who wished to to make the transition to the Ordinariate had had opportunity to do so.)

Kelley branded as “false and lies” that he refused to allow anybody to see the letters from the IRS or the Treasurer and that he misappropriated funds, and refused to share auditing information. “What grounds do they have for charging me with ‘conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy’?” Kelley added he has been in the parish for five years.

A source said ACA leaders have received complaints from parishioners one of which was that Kelley would go around telling people that there are devils in the eyes of a painting worth $35,000 because the eyes were devils. Kelley described this as “total rubbish.” Fr. Kelley is a staunch Anglo-Catholic…

Rest here, and its messy.

The St Marys of the Angels website is here. It’s a smart site, and they seem like a well organised lot.

On the blog there, the Rector, Fr Christopher Kelley, writes in an Official Statement – which David Virtue doesn’t seem to (but should have) mention(ed):

We are very disappointed that a coup has been attempted by a small handful of dissidents who adamantly oppose St. Mary’s joining the Ordinariate. They apparently decided to try to thwart the will of the vast majority of parishioners, and they tried to physically take over the parish.

St. Mary’s is a free-standing legal corporation under California law. During the entire history of the Anglican Continuum, parishes have been free to come and go as they please, and many have changed jurisdictions, not just St. Mary’s.

Bishop Strawn’s “inhibition” of Fr. Kelley, and Canon Morello’s appointment of any officers is invalid, as they have no legal authority over St. Mary’s.  The Patrimony of the Primate continues so long as there exist Anglicans who may formally contemplate transition to the Ordinariate.  (It did not expire January 1, 2012.)

Some were used by people who have a larger agenda and are trying to exercise power and authority they do not possess. This whole brouhaha has been a distraction to the majority of parishioners and visitors who just want to attend church and worship the Lord, and not get involved in the power trips and self-serving political ambitions and machinations of a few. All parish funds were and are presently properly handled and accounted for at the parish banks.

They formed a front in matters not clearly understood by them, and without benefit of involvement in the long history of St. Mary’s finding the most appropriate larger ecclesiastical home in which to practice the Catholic faith.

We continue as before in the Lord’s service.

Prayerfully in Christ,

Chairman of the Board, President, & Rector

Fr. Christopher P. Kelley +

St. Mary of the Angels

So, it’s all about them wanting to join the Ordinariate then? Could it be? We’ll have to see.

One thing is for sure, they’ll be doing their own thing, regardless of what the ACA Bishops think, say, or do…

 

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

April 11, 2012 at 21:19

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