Monday, February 11, 2008

Oregon Bishop Refutes Standing Committee's Proposal

The Bishop of Oregon, Johncy Itty, issued a response to the most recent Open Letter from the Standing Committee. To say it is uncooperative in its tone is putting it mildly. In this letter he denies accepting the proposed plan of the Standing Committee as outlined in their Open Letter to the diocese. Now he is seeking the views of the diocese in a meeting to be held in Eugene, Oregon on February 21st.

Let it be said, here and now, that the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Oregon is doing the best possible for Episcopalians in the diocese.The fact that he is reneging on his agreement only solidifies my misgivings about him from the start of his episcopacy. I have heard no objections from anyone in my parish about the time table he addresses, nor have I heard from anyone in the diocese regarding this matter as he states it.

Here is his response to the Standing Committee's Open Letter in its entirety:


February 11, 2008

My Dear Friends in Christ,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and our Lord, Jesus Christ:

At my consecration as your chosen Bishop, I took vows to guard and uphold the faith and unity of the Church. I do not wish to create disunity or divisiveness. That is why I have not involved myself in further statements about the transition. But now there seems to be confusion and lack of clarity, and some division and disunity among us. Let me clarify.

In November, I called for the orderly process to elect my successor. I said that I wanted to let you know well in advance so that you would not be caught off guard, or be alarmed. The process was to begin early in 2008, following the normal practice of 12-18 months, allowing for a smooth transition and careful planning.

However, in a meeting with Bishop Clay Matthews on January 16, the Standing Committee proposed a timetable whereby I would be leaving the Diocese on Easter Day, March 23, 2008, and they requested that Ecclesiastical Authority be subsequently transferred to them. They stated that this would be in the best interests of the diocese, and implied that the people of the diocese would be supportive of this proposal.

The plethora of responses that I have received from throughout the diocese suggests that this is not the case at all.

I do not believe that a proposal for a transition on Easter is wise or in the best interest of this diocese, however this is a matter that our wider diocesan family must address.

In this context, I need to be clear. I have no self-serving interest in staying longer, or in leaving sooner. I only want what is best for our diocese. An orderly transition is what I desire—one which allows adequate time for careful planning, the completion of tasks, minimizing financial impact, minimizing impact to my staff, and time for closure. Trying to complete this enormous process in two months is difficult, impractical, and awkward at best.

In the interest of transparency, and given the amount of feedback that I am receiving about this matter, I am hereby calling a special meeting of the College of Presbyters and the Community of Deacons on February 21, 2008 from 11:00 until 1:00 p.m. at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Eugene for a time of conversations. Any interested lay persons are most welcome to join us. I realize that this will not be the most opportune time for everyone, however given scheduling issues, this seems the best possible time frame at the present moment.

Please feel free to share this letter with other members of your congregation.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

The Rt Rev Johncy Itty, PhD

Bishop of Oregon


Footnote: In the Open Letter from the SC, Bishop Itty does in fact agree to the SC's proposal and offer. The date of the acceptance of the proposal was January 24th of this year. The agreed upon date of his departure, March 23rd, 2008.



writing_here said...

I have met a number of bishops and I have much respect for +Johncy.

As I recall +Johncy did originally talk about a time of transition and it does seem odd that the Standing Committee wants to hurry things along all of a sudden. And why Easterday for a transition of power? Why not just do what they did when +Bob announced that he was going to retire? Which is what they should be doing - a nice orderly search and transition process.

The hurry on the part of the Standing Committee in transferring Ecclesiastical Authority strikes me as rather odd.

Anonymous said...

Saw your post.

WTF?????? His demurral suggests that the Standing Committee is trying to "get him out of Dodge" as soon as possible. His letter raises more questions than it answers.

Letters like his make me begin to develop an allergy to purple. (sigh)


Anonymous said...

Y'know ....? This has sounded fishy from the git-go, when he made his announcement. Then your Standing Cmte issued their letter, which sounded irenic and way-more than generous to me. [I wish I could resign a position and still draw its salary and benefits for many, many months! Sweet deal!!] Now his letter just sounds grabbing and mean-spirited. I pray you all don't have another Bennison on your hands....

Itty's "resignation" sounded much like that to me. Of course, I don't know what the Standing Cmte is dealing with. But I will hold you all in my prayers.

Warm regards --

Tom Sramek, Jr. said...

OK, let us be clear about what the letter says. It does NOT say that the bishop is going back on his agreement. The message that he apparently got from the Standing Committee is that the majority of the people of this diocese want him gone as soon as possible. The reality is that there is a great diversity of opinion about +Johncy's time with us and there are many, me included, who wonder what the hurry is. I personally wish he would stay, but if he cannot, I'm wondering why he needs to essentially be run out of town and provided a golden parachute.

Anonymous said...

For the life of me, I cannot imagine why Itty is balking now, after saying he wants out.


Catherine + said...

Bishop Itty did indeed agree to the Standing Committee's proposal on January 24th, 2008. To say that his letter refuting this is NOT what it is saying, would be a poor observation of the Open Letter to the Diocese from the SC.

As Lisa implies: He's got it good, the SC has been more than generous,he gets to attend all the major doings this year and he gets to keep his title until the new year...,so why the proscrastination?

The Standing Committee is not made up of power-mongers or control freaks. It is composed of intelligent, spirit-filled individuals who, brought together, have the very best interests of this diocese in mind and heart. To say otherwise, is inaccurate and false.