Tuesday, February 12, 2013

An Ecclesiastical Peculiar

An informed observer has raised a question about the timeline from the Freedom for St Mary blog that I quoted in yesterday's post.
I have a clear recollection of reading in The Christian Challenge at the time, ca. 1992, that when Fr. Wilcox came to St. Mary as its Rector he was an ACC priest and St. Mary was an ACC church (meaning the majority portion of the ACC that had rejected the merger between the minority of the ACC and the AEC, and which called itself the ACA). Subsequently, Wilcox had a fight with the ACC's Bishop Seeland, which led to both Wilcox and St. Mary switching to the ACA, which was then, of course, headed by Falk[.]
I've raised this with other informed parties, who tell me that as of the early 1990s, St Mary of the Angels Hollywood was an "ecclesiastical peculiar" under Bishop Falk. A google search on this term turns up not much useful, other than an impression that in the Church of England, ecclesiastical peculiars seem to have been abolished around the same time as rotten boroughs, for roughly the same reasons. That Bishop Falk and the ACA would be perpetuating practices long abandoned elsewhere as corrupt is, as we've already seen, not a surprise -- but perpetuate Anglican purity we must!

Fr Wilcox, I'm told, came from the ACC parish St Luke's La Verne, CA and had been an ACC priest. St Mary's jurisdiction appears to have been an "ecclesiastical peculiar" until 1994, when Falk ordered the parish to attend the ACA diocesan synod in San Jose and vote for Falk's preferred candidate for Bishop of the West, Robin Connors, who was consecrated ACA Bishop of the West at St Mary of the Angels in 1995. St Mary's formal admission to the ACA as a parish other than a "peculiar" appears to have happened at the time of the 1994 synod.

Prior to that, apparently in 1993, there was a confrontation between Fr Wilcox and Bishop Seeland on the St Mary's steps. It appears that Seeland had been elected ACC Bishop of the Pacific and Southwest, but had not yet been consecrated. As a result, Wilcox felt that Seeland, as only a bishop-elect, was not eligible to make an episcopal visit to the parish, whose status appears to have been unclear in any case. Wilcox, by this account, raised his hand in a gesture to block Seeland's entry, which Seeland interpreted as an attempt to strike him, and this caused Wilcox's inhibition as an ACC priest.

A news item from 2005 apparently also refers to this episode:

"(The politics) took a toll on the parish, because that's not why people come to church," Wilcox said. "At one point they erected a chain-link fence because there were rumors the bishop would come and try to take the property. . ."
Clearly, controversy, ambiguous authority, and angry bishops trying to seize the place are nothing new in the parish's history. If anyone knows more about Bishop Connors, Bishop Seeland, "ecclesiastical peculiars" and anything else relating to this period in the parish history, I will be most eager to hear it. UPDATE: Another knowledgeable party e-mails me to say it was his impression that the chain link fence episode dated from the original break with The Episcopal Church. Again, any information with be appreciated.