QUINCY: Presiding Bishop accepts Keith Ackerman's renunciation

October 15, 2009

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori notified Keith Ackerman by mail and email October 16 that she has accepted the former bishop of Quincy's voluntary renunciation of ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.

In a statement released by the Presiding Bishop's office October 16, Jefferts Schori cited Title III, Canon 12, Section 7 of the canons: "I have accepted the renunciation of the Ordained Ministry of this Church, made in writing to me in July 2009 by the Rt. Rev. Keith L. Ackerman, Bishop of Quincy, Resigned who is, therefore, removed from the Ordained Ministry of this Church and released from the obligations of all Ministerial offices, and is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God's Word and Sacraments conferred on him in Ordinations."

According to the statement, Jefferts Schori had thanked Ackerman in an October 7 letter "for your follow up note regarding your plans to function as a bishop in the Diocese of Bolivia in the Province of the Southern Cone. As you know, there is no provision for transferring a bishop to another Province. I am therefore releasing you from the obligations of ordained ministry in this Church.”

The full text of the Presiding Bishop's October 7 letter is available here.

The Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop, explained the action. "The Presiding Bishop has accepted the voluntary renunciation as a result of his informing her that he is working for the Diocese of Bolivia in the Province of the Southern Cone," he said. "Research has indicated that there are no provisions for this type of arrangement."

Ackerman's renunciation, effective immediately, was not made for reasons of moral character, according to the Presiding Bishop's office.

Ackerman, 63, could not be reached for comment October 16.

The theologically conservative bishop had abruptly announced his retirement, effective November 1, 2008, the day he was to return from a three-month sabbatical. It was also the day the governing synod voted to sever ties with the Episcopal Church and to realign the 1,800-member diocese with the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

Ackerman had conferred with family, friends, members of the standing committee -- which had served as ecclesiastical authority during his absence -- and his personal physicians prior to making the decision to retire, according to a statement released by the standing committee.

Consecrated bishop of the Peoria, Illinois-based Diocese of Quincy in 1994, Ackerman's theological differences over the ordination of women and gays frequently put him at odds with Episcopal Church leadership.

In September 2006, Quincy joined a small number of Episcopal Church dioceses seeking what they called "alternative pastoral oversight" from a primate other than the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. The diocese had called a special synod meeting following the 2006 General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which elected Jefferts Schori. The Diocese of Quincy does not ordain women to the priesthood.

A news release issued at the time by the diocese said that part of the reason for the diocese's request was the theology of Jefferts Schori, who allowed Diocese of Nevada congregations to offer blessings of same-gender unions and voted in 2003 to consent to the election of openly-gay Bishop Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire.

Quincy was "unwilling to accept the leadership" of Jefferts Schori, the news release said.

Born in McKeesport, Pennsylvanian, Ackerman, received a bachelor of science degree from Marymount University in Salina, Kansas in 1971. He received both a master of divinity degree in 1974 and a Doctor of Divinity degree in 1994 from the Nashotah House seminary in Wisconsin.

He currently serves as president of Forward in Faith North America, an organization opposed to what it perceives as liberal trends in the church. He is also as a member of the Common Cause Partnership, which is led by deposed bishop Robert Duncan and is dedicated in part to developing an "Anglican union" that at least some Anglican Communion primates would recognize.

Delegates of the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, meeting at a special April 4, 2009 synod, unanimously elected the Rt. Rev. John Clark Buchanan, retired bishop of West Missouri, as provisional bishop.

News of the Presiding Bishop's acceptance of Ackerman's renunciation came on the eve of the 132nd Synod of the continuing diocese, meeting October 17 at St. Paul's Cathedral in Peoria.

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