White Lake, Ontario
February 10, 1998
Legal Judicial Counsel
The United Church of Canada
3250 Bloor Street West
re: Executive of General Council Reply
Executive of General Council Response to Issues raised by the Interview of the Moderator, the Right Reverend Bill Phipps, with the Ottawa Citizen
I am concerned that in the reply the respondent has consistently misstated the Appeal, and that as a result the Judicial Committee may also misunderstand the Appeal as they decide whether it meets the grounds for an appeal.
Please consider the following:
The wherases of the Appeal clearly stated the grounds on which appeal was made,
. the Executive of General Council has made a response which is seen to be unjust in the public eye, is inimical to the doctrinal statements in The Basis of Union of the United Church of Canada, and is wrong by the bylaws governing the United Church of Canada (The Manual sections 076(e)ii, iii, iv);
while the respondent might disagree with the grounds, there is no justification to "assume" the grounds of the Appeal are different from what they are stated to be.
The Appeal nowhere implies to remove or otherwise deal with the Moderator (other than to resolve the conflict), but rather indicates the Executive's Recommendations are based on wrong presumptions.
With respect to "The Executive of the General Council is expressly prohibited from authorizing a remit (S. 524 (e))." (reply to Gist 9.), the same language would be used of Presbytery or Conference as "to seek" does not imply in itself who does the remit.
There remain at least six areas in which we are not in agreement:
1. I accept, but the respondent does not, that the doctrinal statements contained in The Basis of Union are a binding agreement of the Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregational Churches in Canada, to which addition or further expression constitutes a change which must on Union be thereafter remitted to the successors of the covenanting congregations.
"These were the statements which summarized the agreements made at the time of Union." (reply to Appeal 5.) misinterprets the doctrinal statements contained in The Basis of Union as a summary of the agreement rather than as a brief summary of our common faith (The Basis of Union 2.0) which was the doctrinal basis of the Union which occurred in 1925.
2. The Basis of Union 8.6.2(1) explicitly prohibits any legislation on matters respecting doctrine without remit.
"Nowhere do I find an indication that the Doctrinal statements contained in the Basis of Union are the only place where the doctrine of the United Church is to be held, nor that the Articles of Faith are the only statements of doctrine which the United Church is permitted to have." and "...there is nothing in the polity of the United Church which prevents further expressions of our doctrine and faith." (reply to Appeal 2.) blatantly ignores The Basis of Union 8.6.2(1).
"...in essential agreement with the Doctrine section of the Basis of Union." (reply to Gist 5. ) is used with reference to the Order of Ministry within The Manual, and nowhere does The Manual permit its courts to deviate from Doctrine or Polity without a remit pursuant to The Basis of Union 8.6.2(1) and The Manual 505(a).
3. The respondent, (not myself), raises "The Moderator is in essential agreement with the Articles of Faith as contained in the Doctrine section of the Basis of Union." (reply to Gist 7), which statement does not make the Moderator in essential agreement, and "The Presbytery is the body charged with the oversight responsibility in terms of membership in the Order of Ministry and the Conference is the court charged with determining fitness. The Executive of the General Council has no mandate to discern fitness for ministry or to comment on matters of oversight of particular members of the Order of Ministry. A Moderator, Ordered or Lay, makes reports to the Executive of the General Council, and to the General Council itself, as an exercise of accountability as its Moderator." (reply to Appeal 1), which does not address that it was the Executive of General Council who dealt with the issues instead of referring them to Presbytery.
If the respondent wishes to introduce these as part of the hearing they must be defended.
4. I accept, but the respondent does not, that the Executive of General Council failed to follow the process detailed in The Manual 065, 066, 067, 068, 069, 070, 072, 074, and 075 for resolution of conflicts. The Manual references no other procedure which might be used to resolve conflicts administratively.
We are agreed that the Executive of General Council is subject to the requirements of The Manual, but the Executive of General Council reply states, "The requirements of The Manual make no specific reference as to how concerns raised about statements of a Moderator shall be disposed." (reply to Gist 1.), and creates its own process which is not found in The Manual (cf. General Comments "I believe the Executive of the General Council heard the matter as completely as practicable. There was one sessional committee which considered each and every piece of correspondence which was received by mail, email, and fax by 6:00 p.m. on Sunday evening, November 23, 1997, including the duly transmitted Petition from the Bay of Quinte Conference. The full Executive heard comments from the Moderator with regard to his theological understandings; engaged in a process of theological reflection and discussion; prayed for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their deliberations and actions; considered each of the recommendations separately; and, permitted sufficient time on the agenda for the matter to be heard.").
5. The Judicial Committee is not asked to articulate Doctrine, but to declare what statements have met the requirement of The Basis of Union 8.6.2(1) - what is Doctrine and what is not Doctrine of the United Church of Canada.
6. I accept, but the respondent does not, the events that gave rise to the Executive of General Council Response are in the public eye and "...the imperative of justice, which, as a measure of faithfulness, must not only be done but also be seen to be done" (The Manual 065(b)) require a public statement, beyond the immediate parties to the appeal, of the findings of the Judicial Committee.
If there remains any misunderstanding of my Appeal before the Judicial Committee decides whether it meets the grounds for an appeal, please advise me.
Rev. Don Anderson