In February a lay member of the Alberta Synod sent a letter to the National Church Council (NCC) requesting that the NCC conduct an inquiry into the allegations calling into question the validity of the 2005 National Convention vote on same-sex blessings. The chair of NCC, responding to a recent query as to the NCC's response to the request for such an inquiry, indicated that no action will be taken.
March 29, 2007
'NCC' Says No to Request to "Clear the Air"
On February 10th, 2007 I sent a letter to the National Church Council (NCC) requesting that the NCC conduct an inquiry into the allegations calling into question the validity of the 2005 National Convention vote on same-sex blessings. This letter was sent in anticipation that the NCC would next meet from March 15-17 in Winnipeg. On March 26th I sent a note by email to the chair of the NCC, Roger Kingsley, indicating that a written response from the NCC to my request for an inquiry would be appreciated. I received the following curt reply from Mr. Kingsley:
"Bishop Schultz wrote to you on February 12 to explain, quite reasonably, why we would not investigate the rumours which you cite. There was no reason for NCC to take a different view from that which Bishop Schultz expressed to you in February. No further action will be taken."
I was surprised and disappointed how my request to the National Church Council was handled in such an inconsiderate and dismissive manner. My request had been sent to the NCC, which of course, includes the bishop. Therefore, I had expected that the entire Council would give consideration to my request once they were together at a Council meeting and that they would then convey their response back to me in a written form. Such was not the case. I found the 'NCC' response to my request to be most irregular. On February 12th, two days after submitting my request to the NCC, I received the following short dismissive email from the bishop (copied to the other members of NCC):
"As your letter attests, the so-called allegations are based on rumours. We do not investigate rumours. To do so would be a frivolous expenditure of time and resources to no profitable end. The registration rules are being enforced because they are the rules. It was an error not to enforce them for the 2005 convention and be disappointed to learn that so many exceptions occurred".
I subsequently responded as follows:
"With all due respect, when people make allegations in writing, in public (which I have listed in Appendix 1 of my letter) these are no longer simply in the realm of "rumours". According to a dictionary definition of "rumour" it corresponds to "unverified information of uncertain origin usually spread by word of mouth". The "allegations" that I cite were in writing (not by word of mouth) and the authors of these allegations have identified themselves (thus, not of uncertain origin). I am asking the National Church Council to conduct an inquiry on that basis. Unlike you, I, and I expect many others in this church, do not consider this a frivolous matter because of the seriousness of the allegations, particularly as they are calling into question the validity of the 2005 National Convention vote on same-sex blessings.
As I mentioned, these allegations cast a pall over the upcoming 2007 Convention. While it is your opinion that this is a frivolous matter undeserving of the Council's attention, I hope and trust that other members of the National Church Council think otherwise and will comply with my request for an inquiry in order to clear the air on this matter prior to the commencement of the 2007 National Convention."
Curiously, I then found myself in the midst of an NCC email discussion of my request. Two members of NCC chirped in with comments supportive of what the bishop had said. A third member advised his NCC colleagues that my request "was not appropriately responded to and has been treated superficially", and that the National Church Council "should enquire into the validity of these allegations; transparency goes a long way in restoring trust".
I consider my request to the NCC to help clear the air on this matter to be a reasonable and appropriate request; not to be handled in such a cavalier and superficial manner. Mr. Kingsley's reply to my query suggests that when one addresses a matter to the attention of the National Church Council, the modus operandi is one of "when the bishop speaks, the council speaks".