Saturday, February 16, 2013

At Its Peak, The ACA Diocese Of The West

had something like 38 parishes. This would still be miniscule for a diocese in any real denomination, but from that peak, it's now down to 11, which is impossible. Robin Connors had something to do with this, but he wasn't the only one, and as I've suggested, he's more a symptom than a cause. Still, the recent history of St Mark's Portland, OR, the ACA-DOW parish of which he eventually became rector, is worth review.

On January 17, 1993, St Mark's Portland officially withdrew from The Episcopal Church and affiliated itself with the Anglican Church in America. The Rev. Charles H. Osborn, who had served as rector from 1962 to 1974 and who had helped found the ACA, returned to serve as interim priest-in-charge until a new rector could be called.

That new rector was Fr. Dartland Anderson. I'm told that possibly in the late 1980s or perhaps 1990-91, Anderson had attempted to bring his Northern California house-church (just him and his wife) into the ACC's Diocese of the Pacific and Southwest pre-ACA, when Fr. Greg Wilcox of St Mary of the Angels, then ACC, was in charge of vocations and the examining chaplains board. "Fr" Anderson had no theological education and had dubious sources of Succession. Fr. Wilcox told him that he needed to get some training and formation and they might talk again in a few years.

A few years passed, and St. Mary's was being wooed by Bishop Mark Holiday. Holiday was the first ACA Bishop of the West, having previously been AEC Bishop of the West before the ACA- ACC merger and the 1991 Deerfield Beach, FL ACA consecrations. I'm told that Bishop Holiday showed up at the St. Mary's parish office with the new rector of St. Mark's Portland - and head of the Examining Chaplains for the New DOW/ACA - none other than Dartland Anderson. This was one of many reasons why St. Mary's stayed out of the ACA as long as it could, choosing to stay "peculier" under "Archbishop" Falk, which lasted until the parish was ordered to the synod to vote for Robin Connors, Bishop Holiday's eventual successor. However, following what I'm told were controversies over money, Anderson resigned as rector of St Mark's Portland.

Anderson has since resurfaced, having rearranged his name slightly, as The Rt Rev Ian Anderson, a "Bishop" at something called the "Diocese of the Resurrection of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA", which of course is not The Episcopal Church. What he is actually running appears to be a wedding chapel, rental cost $150, organist $250, honorarium for the bishop extra. If nothing else, this is an indication of the very thin line between respectability and charlatanism in "continuing Anglicanism". My sources wish him well.

Anderson's successor at St Mark's Portland was Fr Martin Wray, who unlike Anderson was the real thing: he was from the UK, with the right accent, indeed a real Church of England priest, which might ordinarily have caused a "continuing Anglican" parish some hesitation, but perhaps the posh accent allayed any concerns. However, as befits an actual priest in the Anglican Communion, he began to express objections to the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, and he mooted moving the altar out from the wall in order to celebrate the mass ad populum in proper style. (Well, what else did they expect?)

I'm told that he also fired the whole altar guild within a month of his arrival, and his dog, given the freedom of the parish, tended to defecate in the Lady Chapel. Sounds entirely U to me. Having spent thousands to bring him over, the parish spent thousands more to send him back.

Like that of Ian Dartland Anderson, Wray's story doesn't end there. I don't normally post pictures here -- I'm sure you get enough at the Smuts site -- but I can't resist this one:

Father Wray is in gold tights on the left. From the UK Daily Mail:

A charity 'vicars and tarts' party has sparked outrage amongst church-goers after a clergyman wore a flamboyant mini-skirt and leggings outfit for the event.

The Reverend Martin Wray, of St Lawrence the Martyr Church, South Shields, has been on sick leave for almost three months after some of his parishioners expressed alarm at his part in the night in August [2010], which aimed to raise funds for local charities.

What was meant to be a fun-filled affair has divided opinion with some of the congregation believing the vicar's decision to dress up as a 'tart' had brought his parish into disrepute after a photograph of Rev Wray at the party, was published in the local newspaper, the Shields Gazette.

Wray, who had been married with children at St Mark's Portland, entered into a gay partnership in May 2010. He subsequently resigned his cure and retired from St Lawrence the Martyr and the CofE. It's worth pointing out that in Anglicanism, a rector is called by a vestry with the assent of a bishop. The ACA Bishop of the West who assented to Wray's hiring at St Mark's Portland shares in the poor judgment and poor stewardship reflected in that episode. Wray was the real thing, all right.

Wray's successor as rector of St Mark's Portland was ACA Bishop of the West Robin Connors.

Many thanks to my anonymous informant for the links in this post.