THE BATTLE OF ACCOKEEK - Part II
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Thu May 31 01:46:12 EDT 2001
THE BATTLE OF ACCOKEEK - Part II
By David W. Virtue
It was a rout of epic proportions.
She came, she saw, she failed to conquer.
St. John's Parish, Christ Church, Accokeek 4. Jane Dixon 0.
In one single hour of her life, Washington Suffragan Bishop Jane Dixon
managed to achieve what no other bishop in the history of the Episcopal
Church has ever done.
She failed to unseat a sitting priest or even to interrupt the service
he was conducting. She committed criminal trespass by entering parish
premises that she had no right to enter in order to perform a
contentious communion service in the parish pavilion. She then heard
from another bishop that the church was being placed under the
protection of an orthodox bishops because of her lawless behavior.
Finally, at least three other colonial parishes who witnessed what she
did, will now get together to consider the implications of the Dixonian
Jihad on their future.
Could this lead to what Jane Dixon fears the most - the departure of
the most faithful and historically oldest Episcopal parishes in ECUSA
for less toxic theological pastures? We shall see.
In the course of the well-orchestrated assault, Dixon managed to shoot
herself in both feet, and she left frustrated, unable to achieve even
her most basic goal of throwing Fr. Samuel Edwards out onto the street,
a feat achieved by Massachusetts Bishop Tom Shaw with an entire
Dixon failed to reckon with a number of issues, chief of which was that
she utterly failed to comprehend or appreciate the determination of the
vestry, wardens and rector to stand their ground; and, despite repeated
bullying, to tell her, in the nicest possible way, to get lost. Around
the country now Episcopalians are pausing to reflect on the situation
and say, we have had enough.
Dixon deserved exactly what she got.
The criminal trespass charges could conceivably result in jail or, at
the very minimum a serious fine. Her husband David Dixon's violent
reaction to the junior warden could result in a fine that will besmirch
his otherwise clean legal record of government service.
And Dixon did it all for property and her pathological hatred of
orthodox Christianity - the very religion she swore, as bishop, to
uphold. Evidence of her defeat was her failure to fulfill her promise
of her availability to address the media for questions, except for a
later sympathetic television interview. One can only surmise how deep
the defeat and humiliation must have been for her to rob herself of the
opportunity with the paparazzi.
But in a reversal of what she intended, it was Jane Dixon who got the
highway. And the 57 ECUSA bishops, a motley collection of liberals,
revisionists and theological pluriformists who supported her, in
writing, were powerless to stop it.
The communion service looked more like two card sharps dressed in
purple playing three card Monte with communion wafers helped along by a
flagon of cheap Taylor wine for passing players...all mounted on a card
table of course. It was mockery heaped on mockery, irony upon irony.
The only moment of honesty in this whole side-show was the tall, darkly
handsome figure of Ralph Kettell from St. Luke's, Bladensburg who
struck up the first verse of 'Alleluia, Sing to Jesus'. The singing
briefly stopped Dixon in her tracks. Haines looked embarrassed by the
outpouring of praise.
Furthermore it is doubtful that Jane Dixon can do anything against Fort
Worth Bishop Jack Iker for crossing boundary lines. He has made it
clear in a subsequent letter to his diocese that his actions were "not
canonical or juridical but pastoral and spiritual."
Iker may have "crossed lines" in the person of Bishop Edward MacBurney
on Sunday but as one journalist noted, "they can't chop off his head
either: the Anglican world is watching. After all, Iker simply
implemented what the primates at Kanuga asked/told Griswold to do and
what Lambeth signaled should be done."
These are heady days for foot-draggers and Dixon would have a hard time
convincing Frank Griswold to get up a presentment against Iker with the
whole world watching and with cyber journalists like yours truly ready
to rain on his parade by telling the world about it.
There are no canons she can actually invoke against him. 'Twas a shrewd
move by the Anglo-Catholic bishop of Fort Worth.
Unconfirmed reports say that Frank Griswold made a last ditch effort to
get Dixon to back down before he took off for Paris, but it clearly
failed. Dixon would have none of it. Even the robust presence of Dr.
George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury appearing a few weeks earlier in
the Diocese of Washington failed to still the hated-filled soul of Jane
Dixon would sooner die for pansexual behavior and a revisioning of the
language of the Trinity than to preach the gospel of God's free grace
that liberates the sexually wounded and depraved and theologically
confused. She can't, of course, because she has never experienced it
herself. Her soul is as dark as her complexion, the anger and hatred
that fill her eyes and the venom that pours from her lips.
Is it any wonder that senior warden Barbara Sturman told a local
journalist, "We're fighting against evil forces. I pray for her. She's
a lost soul and I pray she finds Jesus Christ in her life. For her to
have such a godly man in her pulpit and for her to reject him is a
As culture watcher Os Guinness in his book 'Character Counts' observes,
"Our age is often described as "permissive." More accurately, it is
"transgressive." "It is forbidden to forbid" is the rallying cry and
way of life of many of our fellow citizens. It is certainly true of
Episcopal pansexualists and their pro-Lesbitransgay bishops.
Dixon is proscribing orthodoxy in her diocese and she used her former
deployment officer Ted Karpf for more than three years to keep out
married orthodox priests in the name of an inclusivity that included
deviant sexual behavior but excluded biblical morality and theological
Fr. Samuel Edwards' views on the Episcopal Church have been known for
years, and as the former head of Forward in Faith, the traditionalist
ECUSA Anglo-Catholic organization, he has been decidedly blunt on both
women's ordination and pansexual behavior. It is disingenuous of Dixon
to say that she suddenly discovered them online this late in the game.
If she didn't know it, or didn't want to know it, that was her fault
not his, and she cannot suddenly claim an 11th hour illumination on
What we observed last Sunday was ecclesiastical tyranny, nothing less.
It is a microcosm of the full-blown tyranny of the majority of the
House of Bishops who overtly and covertly do everything they can to
dissemble and snuff out historic Christianity in the name of a
pluriform gospel that is no gospel at all.
The "safe places" that homosexualists like Louie Crew, Michael Hopkins
and Elizabeth Kaeton whine they need, can be found everywhere. Most
dioceses have web links to Crew's website and LBTG interests are posted
on every liberal diocese along with Integrity news with so-called "safe
parishes" named for all to visit. It is the Anglo-Catholics and
increasingly the Evangelicals that need "safe places" to hide from the
venom of bishops like Dixon, and her actions on Sunday indicate only
too well how short ECUSA is of such places.
"We have a priest," Wes Courtney told Dixon, "his name is Fr. Edwards."
No you don't said Jane Dixon. And there was no middle ground to be
found, no "graceful conversation", no "deeper place" of Frank
Griswold's to run too and hide.
"You do know that Fr Edwards is now outside the canonical
responsibilities and is now disobeying the canons if he celebrates the
mass. We will go to the door and knock and if you don't receive us we
will go into the pavilion...and if you don't want us in the pavilion we
will be in the rose garden," said Dixon.
She would not take no for an answer. "Jack boot Jane" as she is also
known, proceeded liked a puffed up penguin to stride towards the
church, her faithful in tow.
"You can worship with us but you cannot speak to us", said senior
warden Barbara Sturman at the church door.
The bishop turned and left. "It was a huge mistake," cried a Dixon camp
follower as they meekly followed behind her, heads high as they moved
towards the pavilion.
"We are going to have worship here," said Dixon "Let us set up an
Nothing would stop her. She was determined. She would ride rough shod
over everybody. Nothing and nobody would stand in her way.
"This is a visitation...would the press please go to the back," she
screamed. Of course banish the media. She said it three times to make
her point. Dixon sought to banish the media at an earlier meeting with
the parish on April 1 - this time the media wouldn't go.
"A round of applause for this circus," said a jean clad Stan Hupert,
determined to halt the Determined One. It was to no avail. She
persisted and continued. Next to her for moral support stood the former
Bishop of Washington Ronald Haines. He preached a sermon uninterrupted.
When I asked the Police why they didn't arrest her on the spot, they
said there were too many people present and they didn't want to cause a
confrontation. Had the boot been on the other foot you can be sure
Dixon would have demanded 'they' be arrested immediately.
Fr. David Moyer, the current president of Forward in Faith, North
America and rector of Good Shepherd, Rosemont, PA said, "I don't
understand what her purpose is in this. She has yet to acknowledge the
fact of Jack Iker's declaration of oversight. She has not refuted
that," the pipe-smoking evangelical Catholic priest opined.
"This is a desperate attempt to get herself out of a scrape that she
has put herself in pretty deeply into. This is a new day for Christ
Church, Accokeek. I praise Jack Iker for his courage and his coming to
the rescue as a bishop."
Asked what he thought the significance of what happened was, he said,
"the significance is the fact that here a bishop is being forced to
take action to protect a parish that is bereft of pastoral care and
being denied of its right...its Christian freedom to exercise faithful
Anglican Christianity. These people are doing nothing less and nothing
more than striving to be faithful Christian people and every attempt
possible is being levied against them to stop it."
Asked if he thought the Primates would support Iker's action, Moyer
said, "I do."
Moyer said he thought about 10 primates would weigh in. "Iker needs
protection. It would be helpful if he had Primates standing behind him.
What the Lambeth conference called for 'sustained pastoral care'."
Of a new Province Moyer said this: "A step forward in the establishment
On Flying bishops? "It is something Bishop Griswold is forced to
"This is the tragic thing, the Episcopal Church is so out of step with
the Anglican Communion. It is just totally flying solo," he said.
Moyer said that when he met with Griswold recently his action was one
of 'listening' and an assurance that there could be resolution to our
concerns and we were needed in the Episcopal Church. "At the same time
it would be a virtual impossibility for a traditionalist bishop ever to
be elected and approved again. There will never be another Bishop Iker,
Ackerman and Schofield in the life of the Episcopal Church."
As she closed out her "service" Dixon announced that Bishop Haines
would return as Interim rector and subsequent Sundays. She said a
priest would be here "next Sunday."
When she announced that a new Deployment Officer, would work with the
parish to find a new rector, Dixon got loud cheers although only 22 opf
those cheering were parishioners-the majority were in the church
celebrating the Eucharist.
Later Dixon vehemently accused Fr. Edwards of "having a bifurcated
understanding of what a bishop is. He said he would recognize me in and
administrative role but not a sacramental role. I don't understand that
and I find that unacceptable. Dixon reiterated that not one member of
the Standing Committee said she should recognize Fr. Edwards."
An outraged member of the Diocesan Standing Committee, David Hoffman
said, "I am angry...the talk of Holy War, the stench of sanctimony that
is in the air, the talk of the unchurch, the self-righteous discussion
about sin and death and who is hell bound, the time for the dusting of
feet...the last temptation is to do the right thing for the wrong
reason. Why should the congregation trust you?" he asked Fr. Edwards.
Dixon said her plans were to continue "to keep this congregation under
my pastoral care. I am having a meeting on June 4 with the Standing
Committee and Executive Council following which we will make an
announcement to the press."
Asked what his plans are as priest-in-charge at Christ Church for the
next 30 days, Haines said he's not sure what will happen. The parish
owns a small chapel, St. John's, located in Pomonkey, but Haines said a
parishioner told him the vestry had locked that building against the
bishop's visit as well and that he doubted it could be used without a
confrontation. "There's a church in nearby Waldorf which has offered to
let us use the parish hall," he said, "and many of those who have left
Christ Church are there anyway."
"We'll find a place," Haines said. "I'm an optimist. I think they just
need a place to regroup. I don't know, we may be 'Christ Church in
exile'--that may be our new name."
But he doesn't want to involve himself in the struggle any deeper.
"What I plan to do is just settle down and be a congregation and let
the legal people fight the legal battles," he said.
It was over. When the Rev. Thomas Andrews head of the Diocesan Standing
Committee was asked about Bishop Iker's statement he said he was
committed to "reconciliation" and would leave an official statement to
the Presiding Bishop.
This begs the question as to what the word "reconciliation" means when
Edwards is considered a non-priest in the diocese.
The tragic situation in ECUSA today recalls the words of Martin
Niemoller, recast for the present situation. First they came for the
Anglo-Catholics, and I didn't speak up, because I wasn't an Anglo-
Catholic. Then they came for the Evangelicals and I didn't speak up,
because I was afraid. Then they came for me, and by that time there
was no one left to speak up for me.
Dixon's cry might well be that of Henry II over Archbishop Thomas
Becket; "Is there no one who will free me from this turbulent priest?
Certainly 57 bishops could not do it, and at the end neither could
Frank Griswold nor George Carey. Dixon's Golgotha was Accokeek and Fr.
Edwards her crown of thorns.
Dixon was crucified on the cross of her own revisionist gospel, and for
that, there is no resurrection.
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