Breaking News: Bishop Keith Ackerman announces retirement effective November 1

THUR. PM UPDATE: Forward in Faith releases the following announcement:

Further to the announcement yesterday of his retirement as Bishop of Quincy, The Right Reverend Keith Ackerman SSC wishes to make it clear that he will be remaining in office as President of Forward in Faith North America. Indeed, it is his intention during his retirement to devote himself more fully than has been possible hitherto to this ministry.

Bishop Ackerman announces retirement, via e-mail:

The Right Reverend Keith L. Ackerman, VIIIth Bishop of Quincy, has announced to the Standing Committee his retirement as Diocesan Bishop effective November 1st, 2008. Bishop Ackerman has reached this decision after much thought and prayer. The Bishop and his wife Jo conferred with his physicians, many trusted friends, and the Standing Committee before making this decision.

While Bishop Ackerman is retiring from his administrative duties as executive officer of the Diocese, he plans to remain in the area of the Diocese for some time and will make himself available, under arrangement with the Standing Committee, to perform Episcopal acts and provide spiritual counsel to members of the Diocese, as have Bishop Donald Parsons and Bishop Edward MacBurney, the VIth and VIIth Bishops of Quincy.

Under diocesan canons, the Standing Committee will continue to act as the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese, as they have since the Bishop’s sabbatical began in late August. Day to day operations of the diocese will continue to be handled by the various officers and department heads.

Bishop Ackerman wants to assure everyone that he has no intention of abandoning the diocese but will continue to provide spiritual and pastoral support as asked by the Standing Committee.

BB NOTE: November 1 is, of course, All Saints Day. God bless Bishop Ackerman to choose a significant day on the Church Calendar to formally retire. Enjoyed immensely the time spent with him and his wife Joann during the Lambeth Conference in August. Each morning there was a gathering in an “upper room” for Eucharist and I remember one in particular that was led by Bishop Ackerman which was very much an “instructional” Eucharist, explaining the different traditions observed over the centuries as we went through the liturgy.

One of the things he described, which he was using for that Eucharist, was the Orthodox Antimension (I think that’s the right name). As I recall, Bishop Ackerman described the one he had with him and how in time of emergencies and wars, a priest (or bishop) could just roll it up and take it with him. Enemies could destroy the altars, but the most holy of the linens could be easily removed for safe keeping until a safer place was found.

The celebrant would roll it out on a table for the Eucharist with part of his hanging over the front of the table/altar and then, if circumstances warranted, could roll it up fast for another location. Wiki says it is one of the most important furnishings of the Eastern Orthodox altars and I remember that the one Bishop Ackerman was using was quite beautiful. We were celebrating around the kitchen table in our “upper room” and of course, we did feel a bit under siege. When the Eucharist ended, Bishop Ackerman rolled it up and the table was transformed into morning breakfast.

Prayers continue as the Diocese of Quincy votes to separate from The Episcopal Church, Nov. 7-8. The Standing Committee will be the acting ecclesiastical authority for their Synod. Watch this space, friends.