Location: Wisconsin, United States

I am a convert to the Catholic Church after serving in ordained ministry for more than nine years in another denomination. I hold a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in historical theology, and another in systematic theology, and am currently working (very slowly) on my doctorate. I work in Christian Education and Formation and teach at the University level. I am blessed with a wonderful wife and eight great kids! When I'm not studying, reading, or blogging, I enjoy eating and drinking! Like Bilbo Baggins, I have been specializing in food for many years, and my table has a high reputation!

Monday, April 16, 2007


Further Thoughts on the CEC

It's been awhile since I've posted on this blog. Much of my time has been spent moderating several sections of the Ancient-Future Catholic forum, owned by fellow blogger David Bennett. Some months ago, we decided mutually that the time had come to shut down discussions of the CEC on that forum, and overall, I believe that this has been a wise move. Some CEC discussion has continued on the On Our Way Home forum, but at a much slower, and less frenetic pace than before.

Now that the dust has cleared somewhat, we can perhaps have a better picture as to what has actually happened, and what is still going on.

Total Episcopal Departures from the CEC since May 2006:

Bishop Philip Zampino, formerly Bishop of the Mid-Atlantic Diocese and Abbot General; now Prelate of the Communion of Corpus Christi.

Bishop Fred Fick, formerly Bishop of the Great Lakes Diocese; now a bishop in the Communion of Christ the Redeemer.

Bishop Don Miles, formerly assistant Bishop of the Great Lakes Diocese; now a bishop in the Communion of Christ the Redeemer.

Bishop Rich Lipka, formerly Bishop of Delmarva Diocese; now the President of the Communion of Christ the Redeemer.

Bishop Phil Weeks, formerly Missionary Bishop for the CEC; now a bishop in the Communion of Christ the Redeemer.

Bishop Ken Myers, formerly Bishop of the South-Central Diocese; now Vice-President of the Communion of Christ the Redeemer.

Bishop Rick Painter, formerly Bishop in Arizona; now the Secretary-Treasurer of the Communion of Christ the Redeemer.

Archbishop Randy Sly, formerly Archbishop of the Eastern Province; now a layman in the Roman Catholic Church.

In addition, there have been dozens, if not hundreds of priests and deacons who have left for other bodies, dozens of churches who have left for other bodies, and thousands of laity which have left for other bodies.

The "Exodus" continues, but has been slowed to a trickle. I do expect more losses, but not nearly at the rate we've seen over the last 9 months or so.

Is, then, my earlier post on the demise of the CEC incorrect? To paraphrase Mark Twain: "Are the rumors of the death of the CEC greatly exaggerated?"

No, I don't think so. It may still be possible for the CEC to survive as a meaningful entity -- but I would not bet the rent on it.

What has happened positively:

There have been some positives.

1) The CEC is finally being honest about its own numbers here in the United States. For many years, those in the CEC (including those in ministry) were treated to enormous exaggerations as to churches and parishoners. In the United States, the CEC is now admitting to about 4,000 souls.

2) The CEC is finally taking a stand on doctrinal issues (like the Canon of Scripture). Lack of clarity on fundamental points of doctrine has always been a shortcoming of the denomination. It appears that this is beginning to change.

3) The CEC is finally taking a stand on a unified liturgy. This has also been a shortcoming, as not only styles of worship would vary around the country, but so also would fundamental and theological aspects of the liturgy. It is difficult to have a unified doctrine if there is no uniform liturgical worship. The CEC is finally coming to grips with this.

4) The CEC seems to be making at least a minimal attempt to regularize its reporting, both with regard to parish records and with regard to financial accountability. This may be "too little, too late" -- but, nevertheless a start is being made.

HOWEVER -- the NEGATIVES certainly outweigh the positives:

1) Honesty about numbers is a good thing. The numbers themselves look very bad -- and when analyzed, look much worse. 4,000 persons -- 90 churches. That adds up to about 45 persons per church. Not very viable. But there's more. 6 of those congregations are cathedral parishes, which tend to be much larger than the typical CEC congregation. If we assume an average membership of 150 for those six congregations (which is conservative indeed) we're left with about 3,100 persons in 84 parishes/missions. That adds up to about to about 37 members per congregation. But it gets worse than that. Among those 4,000 people, are between 300 and 350 clergy! For 90 churches! Most members of the CEC clergy have families, and many of those families are quite large. Just assuming an average of 4.5 members per clergy family (which again is conservative indeed) and we see between 1,800 and 2,000 members of CEC churches who are either clergy, or families of clergy. That number approaches 50%. This is not viable denominational growth!

2) Taking a stand on doctrine and on liturgy is also a good thing. However, in the case of the CEC, the stand taken is essentially "We have decided that we are a Protestant denomination". If that is truly what they want to be, that's fine and dandy. But that is not the song which was being sung EVEN ONE YEAR AGO, much less from the beginning of the denomination. Yet the current leadership is pretending that this is not the case. One immediately thinks of the "doublespeak" talked about in 1984. Those of us who remember how it was at the beginning cannot be fooled.

3) The beginnings of accountability are not enough. The current leadership of the CEC has still not "come clean" about the events of the past year (and honestly, much further back than that!) Clergy and laity who still ask questions are being insulted by bishops. The cries of the literally thousands who have asked for information, and yes, for justice, have been mocked and ridiculed. Attacks have been made against forums and blogs (including this one) yet certain leaders have no hesitancy in printing their own views and opinions. Lies have been told, and continue to be told. Reputations have been tarnished, and continue to be tarnished. Relationships have been broken, and continue to be broken.

In other words, in spite of the loss of 8 bishops, dozens to hundreds of clergy, and (depending on which set of figures you read) up to 75% percent of the laity in the United States, a certain cadre within the remaining leadership is still continuing "business as usual".

I pray for those left in the CEC. I pray for healing and for reconciliation. But I also pray that "the truth will out".

Papa Z

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Blogger MommaBlogger said...

[i]and we see between 1,800 and 2,000 members of CEC churches who are either clergy, or families of clergy. That number approaches 50%. This is not viable denominational growth![/i]

Actually, it's not a bad way to grow a church. Teach the children, grow them up in the faith, and hope that they stay. But then again, which is more important, the denomination or the faith?

Out of curiosity, do you think that there are no problems in any other denomination? If you take a good strong look at any denomination, you will find problems. Many of which are as bad or worse than any in the CEC.

Is this about denominationalism, or faith in God and His will? It seems as though you wish to see the demise of the CEC. Is this true?

4:58 PM  
Blogger David Zampino said...

Greetings "Mommablogger" and thanks for your comments. I see you're from Wisconsin as well. GREAT!!! Let me address a few points:

1) The "4,000" figure is a far cry from the figures which were being tossed about by the current leadership of the CEC before the recent crisis. What it "looks like" to me -- is that pretty much only the families and the "hard-core" are left.

2) The faith is far more important than the denomination. No question about that at all. But has the CEC kept the "faith"? What "faith"? The "faith" of whom? The faith of Michael Davidson (the current CEC bishop exercising oversight in Wisconsin) is certainly not the CEC I signed up for -- nor is it the CEC of even 2 years ago. I signed up for the Ecumenical Councils of the Church, which the CEC once claimed to believe -- NOT the Westminister Confession.

3) I do agree that there are many problems in all denominations. Those churches which address the problems grow stronger through the pain. Problems worse than the CEC? Nope -- don't think so. Not in my experience. Larger (per capita) perhaps -- but not worse. And the CEC has still not come to grips with many of their institutional problems. Yes, it's easy to blame those who have left, etc., but notice who, for the most part, HAS left (especially the Bishops who have left): those who have challenged the integrity of the "system". Those who have not been afraid to attack corruption. Many of those who have left had been with Adler for decades -- and could not take the lies and the corruption any more.

I know what has been said about me. I know what has been written about me. I also know about the hundreds -- HUNDREDS of persons who have contacted me -- from around the world -- about what they have seen and what they have heard and what they have experienced -- and the abuse -- yes, I'll use the word abuse -- has been staggering. Simply staggering.

Many have suggested that I wish to see the demise of the CEC. I find such comments unfortunate. I wish that those have been hurt will be healed. I wish for the truth to come out. I wish for the abuse to stop.

If you like, please feel free to contact me privately. I'm more than willing to chat.


Papa Z

5:21 PM  
Blogger MommaBlogger said...

I haven't been paying much attention to the official numbers of members in the CEC, in my opinion, the numbers can be fairly liquid. On any given day any number of people can leave or join any church.

As far as I can tell from what I'm hearing among clergy, is that many of the problems are being addressed and taken care of now. Where there used to be a rush to ordain clergy, there are a few more protocols in place now.

I honestly don't know what's been said about you, so I can't really comment on that. I only know that our experience here has been the best we could imagine. Yes, there are occasionally issues, but we've had worse in other denominations. Any issues that have come up have been dealt with for the most part right away.

As for faith, our faith is in God, as well as the leadership that He has put before us. When the leadership is in line with God's teaching and the House of Bishops, as far as I know everything has been going the way it should be.

11:01 PM  
Blogger David Zampino said...

Hi Mommablogger,

I'm glad that you have had, and are continuing to have a good parish experience. On the parish level, I too, had a positive experience.

Yes, some problems have been addressed; others have not. The loss of 8 bishops and essentially four entire dioceses is still quite troublesome.


Papa Z

8:15 AM  
Blogger stlouismb said...

Papa Z,

Thanks for your summary. I have posted a portion of it on the On Our Way Home Forum
Where you mention discussion continues at a less frenetic pace.
Keep up the great work and insightful discussion.


8:59 AM  
Blogger MommaBlogger said...

I can understand that some might be upset that certain issues aren't being dealt with immediately, but isn't better in some circumstances to fully address one or two issues at a time, and address them fully and properly, than to address several issues at once and only moderately deal with them?

One other thing I don't understand. Many of our clergy took vows to serve God in the CEC. They felt that their calling was to be in the CEC as clergy, to serve God in that capacity, and instead of dealing with the issues, they left for "greener pastures".

Many years ago, I became acquainted with an Episcopal Priest. At the time, he knew that there were many issues in the Episcopal church, and had even been invited to join the CEC. He stated that while he would love to be a part of the CEC, he knew that his vows were with the Episcopal church, and it was his God-given duty to try to affect change from within, and not just by leaving. At the time, it seemed silly for him to stay in such a downward-spiraling denomination, but now I understand his point. He made vows, and he chose to keep them, even though the church was going a different direction. He knew that leaving when it got rough only showed lack of character on his part.

Why then, do so many of the CEC clergy choose to forsake their vows, in favor of going elsewhere, where there are only more of the same or similar problems?

7:00 PM  
Blogger norksquad said...

I know that in the case of the priest at the church we attend, he chose to remain faithful to his bishop. He could have stayed with the CEC, or gone Orthodox or something, but he seems to see himself as a "man under authority, with people under him." As a faithful shepherd, he is trying to keep his congregation together, and keep them from being exposed to the "storms". He seems to have been very effective in doing this. So I can't say that just because priests have stayed with their bishop, that this is somehow "dishonorable". In fact, it might have been exactly the right thing to do.

2:35 PM  
Blogger David Zampino said...

Greetings to both "mommablogger" and "norksquad".

Earlier on this blog, I posted some comments on the subject of vows which either/both of you might find interesting.

No matter what side of the issue one takes, I think that we would all agree that such decisions are usually very painful and not at all taken lightly.

For the record, however, I must say that there are some in the CEC who are very free with their criticisms of those who have left -- but when someone left another church to JOIN the CEC, somehow the question of "vows" never came up. I find the double-standard very sad.

Blessings to you both!

Papa Z

3:45 PM  
Blogger MommaBlogger said...

"but when someone left another church to JOIN the CEC, somehow the question of "vows" never came up. I find the double-standard very sad."

And when vows weren't made to another church in the first place? What about the men who were ordained into the CEC? Their vows were not with another church, they were with the CEC. They were ordained into the Apostolic Succession of the CEC, and yet when things get a bit rough, they left.

What good are vows if they are not kept? Part of the vows of a priest aren't to leave when things get rough, they are to help their leaders to stay on track. That doesn't always mean one or the other will always be right.

11:38 PM  
Blogger James said...


I stumbled upon this post quite by accident. It was linked from A Conservative Blog For Peace. Needless to say, I find this topic quite fascinating.

I was once a member of the CEC, in California. I had been studying Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism when I found the CEC in 2002. Soon, I was attending St Michael's seminary in San Clemente, to become a "priest" but whilst studying, it occured to me--and to other seminarians--why were we not Roman Catholic? Or Orthodox? Oh, Dan Sharp had plenty of reasons. For a time, I chose to go to a Roman Catholic Church, but returned to the CEC, with a troubled conscience about the aims and authenticity of the CEC's claims, not yet having made up my mind about the RC Church. I eventually decided to leave to become a catechumen in the Orthodox Church, and received a few very nasty e-mails from my former CEC pastor about my lack of loyalty to the CEC, etc, which prompted the assistant priest to leave the CEC as well.

Our parish was small, about 12 in number. I hate to sound so negative about my experience with the CEC because it was through the CEC that I discoverd Anglo-Catholcism which has led me ultimately to the Roman Catholic Church. But there seemed to me to be a cultish idea of loyalty to a communion that could not decide if it was Protestant or catholic, and after listening to Adler's sermons from "CEC Home" I could not stand his clearly protestant doctrines, especially concerning the spotlessness of Mary, mocking the Immaculate Conception.

This led to a period of depression and listlessness. I didn't know what to do. But finally, by the grace of God, I fully embraced the Roman Catholic Church and will be recieved into full union with Rome in a couple of weeks.

It surprises me a little to hear that there is a huge crisis going on in the CEC, but at the same time, it was to be expected, because so much of the CEC seemed to revolve around Adler's ideas about Catholic Christianity instead of God's.

Sorry to ramble, but I thank you. I found this very interesting to read about.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Dn. Chic Harmon said...

Good posting David.

I would add that my former diocese cathedral had 500 to 600 members, so that makes it even worse numbers-wise.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Dn. Chic Harmon said...

As to MommaBlogger's commments about vows, my former bishop broke his vows to the Episcopal Church when he joined the CEC, so the standard was set by the bishops themselves for clergy to break vows and to leave one body for another.

One of the things that bothers me tremendously is that these folks that point an accusing finger at departing clergy and try to inject the broken vows card are not trying to help/heal or in any way work toward restoration. They are simply accusers who have judged another Christian.

It would be a different story if the departing were departing Christianity altogether! But those that are departing are STILL CHRISTIAN BROTHERS (speaking of clergy)...

Go figure.

1:17 PM  
Blogger David Zampino said...

Thanks to James and Dcn. Chic and Mommablogger for the thoughtful comments.

I guess one thing which still bothers me greatly is the huge number of people (mostly laity -- but some clergy as well) who are still being "kept in the dark" about what truly has happened in the CEC over the last 18 months. I've read the notes from the February House of Bishops meeting -- and frankly, if this report is truly the mind of the leadership of the CEC, then there still a great deal of delusion going on. And sadly, not only delusion, but a great deal of dishonesty as well. And the dishonesty is what bothers me more than anything else. Frankly, it reminds me of the "doublespeak" in George Orwell's "1984".

If the dishonesty continues, how can the problems be rectified?

2:02 PM  
Blogger Dn. Chic Harmon said...


I agree it sounds desperately Orwellian.

On another note though, I have been inundated with politics these past twelve months, and I have come to the conclusion that we all create a "holographic" life, if you will; one where we are the center of attention and attempt to have a modicum of control over all that we encounter. Anything outside of that is considered trash and not worthy of any consideration.

The reason I say this is that as I have moved through the political spectrum, the folks I encounter most are those that simply want us all to "get along". i.e. - stand for nothing and don’t rock the boat. Doesn't matter what carnage is being wrought, it is more important to not cause any more waves. Many Christians are in the same mindset. "As long as we pretend it isn't happening (when faced with the ugly truth), all will remain okay." The problem with this is obvious: it is only going to get worse and they are settling for second best (at best).

I had a local Episcopal priest's wife email me about some of my "scab scratching" in my town to tell me that basically it is all about restoring relationships, to which I responded, "no, it is about restoring RIGHT relationships."

This is something it seems we have traded for temporary peace. We'd rather NOT deal with the issue at hand, only cover it with a gauze bandage and pretend it is not infected.

That is what has happened in the CEC and to most every congregant and clergy that is left. If it were not true, drastic and corrective measures would have been taken immediately to start on the road toward healing and correction. The fact that it did not start at all until a few months ago, and that only half heartedly, is proof positive.

I call it the "Rodney King Syndrome". ("Can't we all just get along?" as he was raking in mega bucks in his lawsuits and dragging the LA police through the hatred his actions created toward them. It would be better said if he had only just given up when he was being arrested, none of the ensuing problems would have occurred.)

1:35 PM  

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