March 31, 2012

Missing the Point

Bob Duncan’s Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh recently announced that Frank Lyons, who is currently Bishop of Bolivia, has been called to the Pittsburgh diocese to become Assistant Bishop of Pittsburgh. This will free Duncan from pastoral responsibilities and allow him to concentrate on his more political duties as Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North American. The move mirrors what Duncan did when he was Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh, hiring Henry Scriven to do episcopal scut work while he was off to the four corners of the world undermining The Episcopal Church and promoting his own idiosyncratic vision of Anglicanism.

The announcement on the Anglican diocese’s Web site describes Lyon’s recent professional history this way:
During his eleven year tenure as bishop of Bolivia, Lyons has seen that very small diocese triple in their number of churches and ordained clergy. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. During the crisis in the Episcopal Church, Lyons also assumed responsibility for 40 congregations across the U.S. and their clergy. “Bishop Frank’s spiritual sensitivity, cross-cultural experience, and passion for the Gospel will be a wonderful asset to our Leadership Team,” said Canon Mary Hays.
Indeed, Lyons has often been in the news for his un-traditional interventions in Episcopal Church dioceses. A Chicago Tribune story from 2006, for example, begins this way:
Wearing a scarlet miter and colorful vestments, Anglican Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia stood before an Evanston church Sunday and called the faithful to kneel at the altar.

“If there is anyone in the congregation of The Church of Christ the King ... who would like to come forward and reaffirm their faith, we invite you now,” he said. Lyons, 51, is not simply a visiting missionary however. He is overseeing this and 28 other congregations from Virginia to San Diego that have broken with the Episcopal Church over their interpretations of the Bible, a dispute that was spurred by the election of an openly gay bishop in 2003.
I had not really intended to comment on the Lyons story—how big a story is the joining of forces of two minor Anglican outlaws anyway?—but I changed my mind when I saw Ann Rodgers’ story on Lyons’ new position in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The newspaper devoted nearly 13 column-inches to a story that fails even to hint at Lyons’ raids on The Episcopal Church. Rodgers blandly reviews Lyons’ career as follows:
He grew up in a charismatic Episcopal parish, attended evangelical Wheaton College in Illinois and Nashotah Theological Seminary, an Anglo-Catholic school in Wisconsin. That background brings together the three major theological streams in the Anglican Church in North America, a conservative body composed largely of parishes and dioceses that broke from the Episcopal Church over issues of biblical interpretation on matters ranging from salvation to sexuality.
Rodgers missed the point in her story. Lyons is not just any bishop.

 Note for women priests and deacons in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh: Lyons isn’t too keen on women clergy. The Chicago Tribune story includes this:
But Lyons doesn’t ordain women priests.

“I would have a problem with having a woman spiritually in charge of the church, based on the view that normally a man is the spiritual head of the house,” he said.
Good luck, girls.


  1. For some time, Lyons has had more renegade congregations in his hands here than the total in Bolivia. He clearly, it seems to me, used the Bolivian church as a launch pad for his own ambitions in the States. He has his reward.


  2. Of course it's all about his ambitions in the States, Jim. He only has spent 25 years on the mission field in Ecuador, Honduras, and Bolivia, speaks fluent Spanish and has two adopted Bolivian children but doesn't fit the narrative does it!

  3. As an ordained woman in this diocese I have no problem serving alongside such men as Bishop Lyons and the one time I met him personally I found him to be quite congenail. I don't think "good luck" will be necessary at all.

  4. I have become increasingly suspicious of Ann Rodgers' writings about TEC and ACNA in the Post-Gazette. They seem to lack objectivity, and she reports every ACNA news release like she's covering the D-Day invasion.

    As a sometime-journalist myself, I hate to cast aspersions on another writer --- but I have also spent a lot of time behind the scenes, watching the sausage being made.


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