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--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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It is ironic indeed that Nick Zeigler would invoke the specter of Fort Sumter in a book published just before the current Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church sent her attorneys and investigators into the Diocese of South Carolina. One would think that she would be highly grateful to Bishop Lawrence for managing to hold his Diocese together after the fractures caused by the rift with All Saints Waccamaw, and the loss of the use of the Dennis Canon as a tool for intimidating the faithful in South Carolina. The parishioners of the Diocese have no sooner put that matter behind them, however, than the Presiding Bishop lets herself be seen further stirring up old divisions and strongly-felt emotions, with no evident clue as to her utter folly in doing so.
Alas, when it comes to the leadership at 815, one can but lament: what else is new? They must want it this way, and they will reap what they sow.
Read the whole thing.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina
In the American House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans when The Episcopal Church faced its deadline to deal with terms like moratoria, ‘words’ were fiercely debated. How far could the House of Bishops go to deliver words which might placate the Anglican Communion without giving anything away? This was a studied course of dishonesty.
Now we have the most egregious example of all in the declaration by the Canadian diocese of Ottawa that it will allow a parish to perform same-sex blessings in order to ‘discern’ the way forward. Needless to say, it’s an odd kind of ‘discernment’ to do something you are not agreed upon in order to reach agreement. It seems like a recipe for division and conflict.
Furthermore, the diocese claims that it is not violating the moratorium on samesex blessings. “There is nothing in the moratorium that says we cannot continue to discern,” said Archdeacon Ross Moulton of Ottawa. It seems unnecessary to point out that the very meaning of the word ‘moratorium’ rules out this kind of discernment. But Archdeacon Moulton has a different dictionary it seems.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
...[Dr. Michael] Howell presented a detailed account of the actions of The Episcopal Church that have precipitated a worldwide crisis and the response of the four governing instruments of Anglican Communion.
“The Dar es Salaam Communiqué called the Episcopal Church’s response to Windsor Report inadequate,” Howell said. “It asked for responses from the House of Bishops, but the bishops refused [the Primatial Scheme and call for a moratorium on same-sex blessings]. Then in New Orleans the Archbishop of Canterbury inserted a new process involving the Joint Standing Committee. He refused to call a Primates Meeting and deferred the discussion until the Lambeth Conference, which now is organized so that no resolutions will emerge.” The result of all this, Howell said, is that “GAFCON bishops have lost faith in the structures of the Communion.”
Before the concluding question-and-answer period, three members of the Remain Faithful executive board made brief presentations based on sections of the group’s 25-page position paper, Evidence that Demands a Decision, published in June. Cora Werley, a member of Trinity Church, Fort Worth, discussed revisionist understandings of Jesus Christ and Holy Scripture. David Weaver, a member of St. Alban’s, Arlington, spoke about the polity and origins of The Episcopal Church and the ancient understanding of the diocese as the “organ of union” in the church. Jo Ann Patton, a member of St. Andrew’s, Fort Worth, spoke of the pattern of innovation in The Episcopal Church, seen in its handling of women’s ordination and human sexuality issues, that begins with a violation of canons and progresses to permissiveness and then required practice.
Read it all.
I would only update it a little and call it Honesty or Obfuscation at Lambeth and it applies completely. By the way, anyone remember who came out AFTER the New Orleans House of Bishops meeting and said that the report written about what was happening was incorrect because there were same sex blessings occurring in various parts of the Episcopal Church? Yes--it was Gene Robinson--KSH.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Primates Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007 Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
About what situations is the Archbishop here concerned? The context of the proposal – ‘unanswered questions’ with respect to NOLA – indicates that the main issue is TEC’s (and perhaps other churches’) relationship with the Communion: how far does her claim as ‘Anglican’ go when in fact her teaching and practice have clearly departed from the Communion’s? However, the mention of Windsor’s recommendations and extra-jurisdictionally ordained bishops, also indicates that the Archbishop is aware that various responses to TEC’s clear departure from Communion teaching and practice has also obscured the character of Anglican identity more broadly and of common authority. These issues must also be addressed, rather than allowed to further dissipate a common mind. The Archbishop recognises ‘much unclarity’ over ‘who speaks for the Communion?’ and says this needs resolution ‘urgently’: ‘the people of the Communion need to be sure that they are not placed in unsustainable and damaging positions by any vagueness as to what the Communion as a whole believes and endorses, and so the issue of who represents the Communion cannot be evaded…Not everyone carrying the name of Anglican can claim to speak authentically for the identity we share as a global fellowship’.
This last concern, which is surely a weighty one, faces into the current dissolution of the Communion’s ‘common voice’ through a host of unilateral decisions that clearly affect teaching and discipline both. Not only are churches like TEC and certain bishops and dioceses in Canada knowingly moving ahead with innovations that run counter to everything that Anglicans have together articulated and decided, but in doing so they are wittingly undercutting the very notion of common identity, character, authority, mission, and concern. Those responding to these actions have, in their turn, if with a certain reactionary rationale, ended up moving forward in ways that do not represent common decision-making within the Communion and that may, in fact, further the dismantling of Anglican identity. To pursue such destructive innovations unilaterally, and still call oneself ‘Anglican’ has put into question the very notion of Anglicanism itself as a divinely called church within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church into which we are called to grow with other Christians.
The group that the Archbishop proposes offer recommendations about this challenge, as it affects several churches and the Communion as a whole (including how Lambeth Conference may operate) cannot be some judicial tribunal. Nor, however, can it be a repeat of the Panel of Reference that, despite careful work, has been unable to direct any major conflicts it has examined towards fruitful resolution. It appears that the Archbishops himself, given his own role as the articulator of the Communion’s mind, and gatherer of her chief pastors, has accepted his role as moral leader for the Communion especially in this time of crisis. He will, again, seek to bring concrete recommendations before the council of Anglicanism’s bishops for the sake of the Communion’s common ordering. This is yet another indication that the Archbishop has decided that the Lambeth Conference must be a truly conciliar decision-making body for the Communion.
Read it carefully and read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
The Primates have returned a vote of no confidence in the Episcopal Church. Lambeth Palace reports that a majority of primates have rejected the conclusions of the ACC/Primates Joint Standing Committtee (JSC), and have told the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams the Episcopal Church has failed, in whole or in part, to honor the recommendations of the Windsor Report and the Primates’ Dar es Salaam communiqué.
The majority rejection of the JSC report comes as a blow to Dr. Williams’ hopes to avert a showdown between the liberal and conservative wings of the Communion. It also marks an unprecedented repudiation of the competence and judgment of the central apparatus of the Anglican Consultative Council.
Following the publication of the positive assessment by the JSC of the actions of the New Orleans meeting of the US House of Bishops, Dr. Williams wrote to the primates asking “How far is your Province able to accept the JSC Report assessment that the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops have responded positively to the requests of the Windsor Report and those made by the Primates in their Communiqué at the end of their meeting in Dar es Salaam?”
Of the 38 primates, including the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, Lambeth Palace reported it had received 26 responses, and no reply from 12. Of the 26, 12 stated they could accept the JSC’s findings, 12 stated they rejected the JSC’s findings, while three offered a mixed verdict, and one said it was continuing to review the matter.
Read it all.
The split between liberal and conservative Anglicans grew wider in September as bishops of the U.S. Episcopal Church reaffirmed their denomination’s more-inclusive stance on homosexuality and a breakaway group of bishops moved to form a “new ecclesiastical structure” in North America.
About 150 Episcopal Church bishops met in New Orleans from Sept. 20 to 25, along with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, several primates (national archbishops from other countries) and members of the international Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). At the end of their meeting, the American bishops issued a statement that they said was the best expression of a position on which all present could agree. (Several conservative bishops had left the meeting early.)
Read it all.
WHATEVER IS DRIVING Dr. [Rowan] Williams’ strategy, it would seem in the wake of the HOB meeting to have reached a crossroads. The primatial jury is still out, of course, but it is already evident that the HOB statement will not fly with a significant segment of the global church. The Communion’s future will pivot heavily on how Williams now handles key matters going forward.
Of course, even Archbishops of Canterbury must contend with historical forces beyond their control. In all probability, TEC’s long recurrent role as artful dodger of orthodoxy, even if it has slightly receded for now, has set in train fragmentation and realignment among Anglicans that cannot now be averted.
This is a lengthy article but there is some material in it not available elsewhere and it is well worth the time--KSH.
In the end, we issued our response to the Questions and Concerns raised by our Anglican Communion Partners. This document (see Internet reference 2 below) has met with acceptance by most of our visitors; however, it did not satisfy the very conservative primates or bishops in our church and the larger Communion. They are working to set up their own Anglican body. The liberals were not happy with it either, even though on the critical issues of giving consent to the election of partnered gay bishops and blessing same sex unions, we said little more than was said at the General Convention of 2006. The writing team worked on endless drafts of our report to accommodate the views and phrases to which the majority of the House could agree. Our Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, said more than once, "No one is going to get everything they want."
Two further elements in our response did ease the way for many of us. One was the expression of our "fervent hope" that the Archbishop of Canterbury would find a way to invite Bishop Gene Robinson to the Lambeth Conference next summer and to assure his full participation. Also, with our Presiding Bishop's appointment of Episcopal visitors to dioceses not willing to receive her, we called for an immediate end to diocesan incursions by uninvited bishops in accordance with the Windsor Report and consistent with the statements of past Lambeth conferences and the Ecumenical Councils of the Church. We have not heard any response from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
For myself, I found the spirit of the Community of Bishops (as we call ourselves) much diminished since our meeting last spring. From that meeting we issued a statement profoundly descriptive of who we understand ourselves to be, absent the pressures of 'compliance' to the demands of the newly rising structures of authority and the doctrinal positions newly called the "standards of teaching" of the Anglican Communion. What we did in March was much like what our own deputation did in response to the Dar es Salam Communiqué, that is to say it was proactive and declarative, not defensive or reactive.
Read it all.
Resolved, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, meeting in Dearborn, Michigan, expresses its appreciation to the House of Bishops for undertaking the monumental task of trying to clarify the conflict between the canons of the Episcopal Church and the demands raised by the Dar E [sic] Salaam communiqué, and be it further
Resolved, the Executive Council affirms with the House of Bishops the essential and renewed study of human sexuality as noted in the “listening process” of the Lambeth Conference of 1998, and be it further
Resolved, that the House of Bishops’ statement exacerbated feelings of exclusion felt by many of the lesbian and gay members of our church by defining Resolution B033 from the 75th General Convention to include lesbian and gay people, and be it further
Resolved, that by calling particular attention to the application of B033 to lesbian and gay person [sic], it may inappropriately suggest that an additional qualification for the episcopacy has been imposed beyond those contained in the constitutions and canons of the church, and be it further
Resolved, that while B033 focuses on the consent process for bishops, the broader impact is to discourage the full participation by lesbians and gay persons in the life of the church and enshrine discrimination in the policies of the Episcopal Church, and be it further
Resolved, that the Executive Council acknowledge with regret the additional pain and estrangement inflicted on lesbian and gay members of the church, and we pledge to work toward a time when our church will fully respect the dignity of every human being in all aspects of the life of our church.
Update: Ralph Webb has some comments on this here.
General Synod was given the opportunity to record their own opinions in small group meetings. They heard the case for the Americans put by Robert Fordham, Australia’s representative on the global church’s top decision making body called the Anglican Consultative Council. The case against was presented by the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen.
It appeared that Dr Jensen’s speech was well-received by General Synod delegates.
“I am sure that the American response was well-intentioned,” he said. “But it has not yet healed the rift which opened as a result of their actions in 2003, because those actions arose from a way of looking at the world which most in the Communion believe to be unbiblical.”
During small group discussion, there was widespread concern expressed at the American response from across many Dioceses.
Read it all.
How has the verdict of the Joint Standing Committee been received around the world? The Church of England Evangelical Council headed by Bishop Benn has dissented from it. Those American Bishops and Dioceses who have been planning to leave The Episcopal Church have not been stopped in their tracks. A large group of African Primates – representative of the people who posed the questions – have said, ‘on first reading we find it to be unsatisfactory. The assurances made are without credibility and its preparation is severely compromised by numerous conflicts of interest. The report itself appears to be a determined effort to find a way for the full inclusion of The Episcopal Church with no attempt at discipline or change from their prior position.’
Why this dissent from the Joint Committee? It would of course be best to have the whole Dar Es Salaam communiqué, but, failing that, here are the two questions which were put to the Americans for an answer by September 30th:
‘In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church
1.make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their diocese or through General Convention (cf TWR, 143, 144); and
2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, 134);
Unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, 134).’
We only have time to look at the response to the first request. The wording of the reply certainly does not give the assurance that is sought. The Americans were asked to restrain General Convention from authorising a Rite of Blessing; they could do this, I am told, by exercising what amounts to a veto; but they undertake only to refrain ‘until General Convention takes further action’, a different proposition altogether. In fact the Primates used, and stressed the word unless, the Bishops replied with ‘until’. The difference tells us something about the enthusiasm of many Americans to see these developments agreed to. In short the different heart of the Americans and the different heart of their critics is not going to understand these words in the same way even if they were not ambiguous. This is not black-letter dispute over words.
The Primates already knew that no rite has been approved as yet by General Convention; the Americans observe that the majority of bishops ‘do not make allowance for the blessing of same sex unions.’ But that concedes the very point at issue. This is a practice allowed by some Bishops at least; perhaps many. The consequence is, then, if I understand the situation correctly, at least one American Bishop, though a believer in same-sex blessings, has now forbidden them occurring. He understood that even permitting them was not an option. But they will still occur elsewhere. Thus Bishop Chane of Washington is reported in Washington Window, his own newspaper, as saying, that, ‘the Diocese of Washington does not have an authorised rite for blessing same-sex relationships. However, he added that the statement passed by the bishops will allow for such blessings to continue in the Diocese.’
And here are the honest reflections of Bishop Gene Robinson on what has occurred. ‘Let me also state strongly that the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and the Primates misunderstood us when they stated that the HOB in fact “declared a moratorium on all such public Rites.” Neither in our discussions nor in our statement did we agree to or declare such a moratorium on permitting such rites to take place. That may be true in many or most dioceses, but that is certainly not the case in my own diocese and many others. The General Convention has stated that such rites are indeed to be considered within the bounds of the pastoral ministry of this Church to its gay and lesbian members, and that remains the policy of The Episcopal Church.’
I believe that this is what Canon Kearon was referring to when he spoke of the need for some episcopalian bishops to consider their position in the Communion. It already dents the modified rapture of the Joint Committee in saying, ‘The Communion should move towards closure on these matters, at least for the time being,’ It certainly justifies the response of Bishop Mouneer and others. The matter is not resolved.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Primates Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007 Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting
Read it all.
Duncan said that the Diocese of Pittsburgh is scheduled to vote in early November on the first step in severing ties with the Episcopal Church.
The loose federation, with its own College of Bishops, hopes to garner favor domestically and abroad by using an "if we build it, they will come" strategy, according to Peter Frank, a spokesperson for Duncan. However, issues such as the ordination of women—some of the groups ordain women, some do not—remain to be decided, according to the Common Cause Council.
Bishop Martyn Minns, who heads the Nigerian-related Convocation of Anglicans in North America, told a telephone news conference September 26 that the participants "have different styles and approaches, but not differences" in doctrine.
The African "mission" links to dissident Episcopalians have been called "incursions" by the archbishop of Canterbury, but Minns, the former rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia, disagreed. "These are replies to the cries of help from this country."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Latest News Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia Common Cause Partnership Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts
The New Orleans Statement by the US House of Bishops has generated a wide and contradictory spate of explanatory letters and speeches from the American bishops to their dioceses. While the Primates ACC Joint Standing Committee’s report of Sept 30 argues the New Orleans statement complied with the primates’ request for a moratorium on gay bishops and blessings, liberal and conservative bishops in the US are united in saying it promised no such thing.
Speaking at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral on Sept 30, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said the US Church was ‘not going backward’ on gay rights. “All people, including gay and lesbian Christians and non-Christians, are deserving of the fullest regard of the church,” she said, noting the New Orleans statement was part of a larger conversation leading to the full inclusion of gays and lesbians into the life of the church.
Pennsylvania Bishop Charles Bennison told his diocese he had voted against the New Orleans statement because he would not honour the gay bishop ban. The 2006 statement by the US General Convention to withhold consent for new gay bishops had been ‘recommendatory, not canonically mandatory,’ meaning that ‘compliance is voluntary’ he said. “I honestly could not promise I would not consent to the election of a gay or lesbian priest to the episcopate,” Bishop Bennison said.
Nor would Vermont honour the gay blessing ban. On Sept 28 Vermont Bishop Thomas Ely explained that the bishops had stated that “the majority of bishops make no allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions. Of course that means some bishops do” permit gay blessings. Bishop Ely said: “I am one who makes allowance for such blessings, and I intend to continue the current pastoral approach we have in place in the Diocese of Vermont for the blessing of holy unions.” He added that this was ‘clearly addressed and understood in the House of Bishops’ and that gay blessings would be permitted.
Writing in the October issue of his diocesan newspaper, Washington Bishop John Chane stated that while his diocese did not yet have an official rite for the blessing of same-sex unions, the New Orleans statement would permit same-sex ‘blessings to continue in the diocese’.
On Oct 9 the Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson stated the Primates-ACC Joint Standing committee had ‘misunderstood us’ when it reported the American House of Bishops had ‘declared a
moratorium on all such public Rites’ of same-sex blessings. “Neither in our discussions nor in our statement did we agree to or declare such a moratorium on permitting such rites to take place,” Bishop Robinson said, adding that while it may be true of some dioceses it “is certainly not the case in my own diocese and many others.”
Bishop Robinson said that he had urged the Bishops’ statement ‘be reflective of what is true right now in the Episcopal Church: that while same-sex blessings are not officially permitted in most dioceses, they are going on and will continue to go on’. He stated that he was unhappy with the final statement that said a ‘majority of Bishops do not sanction’ gay blessings. This ‘implied that a minority do in fact sanction such blessings, and many more take no actions to prevent them’. It was a ‘mistake’ not to ‘come right out and [say] so’.
The conservative bishop of San Joaquin John-David Schofield agreed with Bishop Robinson that the New Orleans statement was “neither [a] prohibition nor [a] restraint.” It merely turns a ‘blind eye’ to the issue.
The Bishop of Dallas, James Stanton, was more sanguine than Bishop Schofield about the statement, stating the deliberations surrounding the report had been the most open and frank in his 15 years as a bishop in debating the topic. “But the final result, I must confess, is disappointing to me. I do not believe the answers requested by the Primates have been given. I do not believe we have moved very far — if at all — from where we were before this meeting in terms of the assurances sought,” he said.
The majority of US Bishops did not believe “our decisions as a House might be wrong and at any rate ought to be subject to the advice and concerns of our Communion brothers and sisters.” The final statement, he observed, was an admission that the centre could not hold and that the Church was ‘walking apart’, Bishop Stanton concluded.
In a letter to the clergy of Central Florida, Bishop John W Howe stated he had voted against the final statement, saying it did not ‘fully comply’ with the Primates’ requests ‘but we came much closer than I ever thought we would’. The Bishops had made a “distinction between ‘public Rite’ and ‘private blessings’,” he said. Public rites would not be authorised, but there was ‘an implicit acknowledgement that in some places private blessings are still being offered’, Bishop Howe wrote.
“In our failure to do all that the Primates asked of us I was unable to vote for the Bishops’ Statement, but I was grateful to see a far higher level of concern for the unity of the Communion evident throughout our meeting than I have ever witnessed previously,” Bishop Howe said, adding
“whether or not that level was high enough remains to be seen.”
--This article appears in the Church of England Newspaper edition of October 19, 2007, on page 7
From several emails.
My brothers and sisters:
I am grateful for the considered way in which the House worked together in New Orleans, and for our demonstration of solidarity with the people of Louisiana and Mississippi. I am finding that most of you would rather focus on the latter!
I have received from Rowan both a thank you for his time among us, and a copy of the Joint Standing Committee report. This has been posted online in a number of places, and I hope you have seen it by now.
Rowan is asking that I report to him by the end of October the sense of this Province, precisely on the following:
"...how far your province is able to accept the JSC Report assessment that the House of Bishops have (sic) responded positively to the requests of Windsor and of the Dar es Salaam message of the Primates. The report sets out clearly for us the requests that were made, both in the context of the Windsor Report and of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué; there are other issues that have been raised in general discussion around the Communion, and indeed in the TEC communiqué, but I hope you will concentrate on the very specific matters put before the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops. I shall welcome not only your reactions but also proposals for any next steps we should take together. My intention is firmly to honour the discernment of all the primates and the wider Communion at this juncture..."
Let me note that consultation in your Diocese will undoubtedly be helpful, and if you can give me an indication of what that looked like, I would be most grateful. I have finally had time to read all of the submissions on Communion Matters, and I am struck by the breadth of comment received and its coherence. Henry Parsley and the Theology Committee are to be deeply thanked for their effective work on this, in a short time-frame.
Please note the relatively short time available to do this - let me suggest that Monday, 29 October would be a helpful target - and that what is most needed are your brief impressions following conversation in your diocese.
Your servant in Christ,
(The Rt. Rev.) Katharine Jefferts Schori
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
Archbishop Williams stated at one point that “perception is a fact.” I think that is a very helpful insight to remember. What we believe to be true (even if it is not) is held to be true. I read The New York Times article at the conclusion of the HOB meeting and was very disappointed. The headline and paragraphs of the article were the exact opposite of what happened at the meeting. I found it interesting that some were interviewed for the article that were not even present for the meeting; and that participants at the meeting were not interviewed.
My point is simple. Read the direct sources prayerfully for yourselves. Please read The House of Bishops' response "to questions and concerns raised by our Anglican Communion partners." Also read the article: Anglican Communion’s Secretary General reflects on House of Bishops meeting. You will be better and more clearly informed.
Read it all.
The leading evangelical umbrella group in the Church of England has given the thumbs down to the recent statement from the US House of Bishops, and they have invited English dioceses to consider boycotting next year’s Lambeth Conference.
The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) emphasised that they are committed both to the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. However they judged that the recent statement from the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans fell short of the demands made on it by the Primates.
In a statement they said: “We believe TEC’s response does not meet the requests of the Primates from Dar es Salaam, not merely for clarification but for repentance and turning back from their clear intention to affirm same-sex blessings and the consecration of practicing homosexuals to the episcopate.”
They said that the American bishops had ‘continued to widen a gap of their own making’. As a result the fabric of the Communion is torn ‘almost beyond repair’.
While they supported the proposed Anglican Covenant, they said that the reaction from the American bishops showed that ‘this covenant may not hold’. And they went further. The contents of their statement showed, they claimed, that the US Church ‘has placed itself outside the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the Catholic Creeds’.
In an appeal to English dioceses, they said that those dioceses that are linked with dioceses overseas should consult with their companion dioceses about whether to attend the Lambeth Conference.
A number of dioceses, largely in Africa, have said that they may not attend the 10-yearly meeting of the Anglican bishops. And last week the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali (pictured) revealed that if current arrangements stand, he might not be able to attend himself.
Sources have told The Church of England Newspaper that representatives from almost all the African Provinces have responded positively to their invitations to Lambeth, with the one exception being Uganda.
In their statement the CEEC said: “We prayerfully counsel Church of England bishops to consider whether in the light of TEC’s response they may wish to absent themselves.”
They added that the inclusive Gospel preached by Jesus was based on repentance, faith and the gift of the Spirit. “In effect TEC’s approach to inclusiveness excludes the majority of Anglicans from other provinces who are faithful to Biblical teaching. We affirm as the will of God the biblical teaching that we are called either to heterosexual marriage or celibacy.”
--This article appeared in the Church of England Newspaper daily edition of October 15, 2007
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Primates Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007 Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
What an amazing turn of events! The overall response of the Joint Committee to the House of Bishops message is positive – yet the Evangelicals in the Church of England demand that the ABC denounce the church in the US over the possibility of consecrating a partnered gay to the episcopate - and our blessing of same sex unions! They threaten to divide the English church over this - just as TEC is threatened.
We simply have to be more vocal about this....the C of E blesses same-sex unions. The partnered homosexual clergy in the C of E are entitled, under British law, to register their relationships in order to gain the legal benefits accorded them. The C or E House of Bishops issued a statement to that effect in November or December of 2005.
Following that C of E HOB statement a condemnatory letter issued from Nigeria - reminding the English church that TEC and others were being ostracized for that sort of thing. But outrage at the C of E does not seem to have any staying power -- either in other parts of the Communion or in TEC. When Bishop Mark Sisk and I asked the ABC about same-sex blessings - about what the difference is between what happens in the Cof E and what happens in some places here he answered, "They ( in England) are not public."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Anglican Primates Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007 Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts
Q: What has been the situation in this diocese?
A: I have said to the diocese that there will be no permission for blessing of same-sex unions until the General Convention of this church has made a decision.
That is not because I feel that faithful persons in a chaste, loving relationship should not have the grace of God acknowledged by a blessing, but I also am bound as a bishop of the church to be responsible and faithful and obedient.
Q: You said in New Orleans that “sometimes traveling as a body means slowing down the pace, in the hope that all can make the journey.” What should gay and lesbian Episcopalians understand when you say that?
A: I want them to hear that the commitment to the journey of full inclusion continues. We don’t know what it will ultimately look like. But we want them to know we’re still on the journey.
What I have found is that many gay and lesbian Christians are concerned not just about their sacramental inclusion, but about the church. Many have shared that they’re willing for us to pause and have that conversation. There are some who are pretty angry, and I understand that.
Read it all.
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Here's an excerpt from Bp. Paul Marshall's convention address to the Diocese of Bethlehem this weekend:
Comment is needed in the aftermath of the late meeting of House of Bishops. I need to say something different from what other bishops may be saying in their conventions because the Bethlehem deputation in 2006 did not vote for the General Convention Resolution that the bishops were seeking to “clarify” for the primates. Something we were not favor of in the first place has been intensified.
Every single news report I have read about that meeting does not resemble the meeting I attended. Let me just say that I remain perplexed by the action and more perplexed by the process in New Orleans, but as always, I think God is providing a spiritual opportunity for me.
I find that as just a few years ago I had to learn to be a gracious “winner,” if such a term is ever appropriate, when the church was moving my way, now I must learn to be a gracious “loser,” if such a term is ever appropriate, when that course is reversed or halted. For some of you those poles are reversed, and it is your turn to be a gracious winner. Some of you may well feel keen disappointment and even rejection as a result of my colleagues’ clarifications. As those of you who accepted the invitation to meet with me two weeks ago know, I believe that your pain is deep and proportionate. I will not presume to say that I can feel anyone else’s pain, but I certainly recognize and grieve its existence, as do many, many people in this diocese.
Beyond that, I must also say that I believe we have held together as a diocesan community during a turbulent three decades not because our range of opinion and conviction is narrower than that found elsewhere in the Episcopal Church. We have held together because of discipline, the tough discipline we practice of keeping our focus on Christ rather than ourselves, the tough discipline of genuinely honoring the conscience of every member of this diocese and welcoming the gifts the Holy Spirit bestows on the Church through each of the baptized. In previous years in this room I have had to reassure those who might be considered conservative of this fundamental principle of our life. I find myself today needing to reassure those who might be considered liberal or progressive of the same thing, that the only disciples of Jesus excluded in this diocese are those who exclude themselves.
I do not know how to predict if what the Archbishop of Canterbury and our domestic leadership wanted of and got from the majority bishops of this church will be effective or productive, and having no power in the matter have chosen to cease from worrying about the behavior or witness of any bishop other than myself.
So here is where I am. My understanding of my relationship with Christ means that I am not personally able to sacrifice individual lives or the dignity of any follower of Jesus to even the most benign dreams of world-wide ecclesiastical empire, but will do my utmost to stay in real and effective communion with Anglicans in every place on the globe.
As the designated chief sinner of the diocese, I will continue to try to honor each of you as God’s works in progress, living stones built into a marvelous temple for the praise of God the Father. As Habbakuk was taught in last Sunday’s first lesson, we do not know how things will turn out but we do know that the future belongs to God and we are to keep busy letting people know that there is a vision. We need to do that communicating, the prophet was told, in letters
so big that joggers may read them. Translation: it must be unmistakable in our words and deeds that we trust the God who made each of us and that we are moving ahead in that trust.
In saying that I do not mean to say that we should pretend that our varying understandings do not exist. On the contrary, I meant something active and powerful and traditionally Anglican – that is, in honoring and exploring our differences, we may generate the way through them to a place nobody would have imagined.
Let me dwell on this for just a minute. I just spoke of 400 years of Anglicanism in Virginia, now let me go back a mere 40 years, to a non-Anglican in California. In 1967, Dr. Ralph Greenson, “psychiatrist to the stars” and medical professor in Los Angeles, wrote about the tendency of his colleagues not to communicate with each about their disagreements in theories or practice. Remember, these are psychiatrists who weren’t communicating. Listen to his observations from 1967. Where you hear the language of his vocation, insert the language of our life as disciples. Ask whether Greenson’s words do not speak to our situation:
Those who wish to suggest innovations or modifications of technique do not usually confer with others who are more traditional in their viewpoint. They tend to form cliques and to work underground, or at least segregated from the mainstream... As a consequence the innovators are apt to lose contact with those groups… that might help validate, clarify, and amend their new ideas. The secluded innovators are prone to becomes “wild analysts,” while the conservatives, due to their own insularity, tend to become rigid with orthodoxy. Instead of influencing one another constructively they each go their separate ways as adversaries, blind to whatever benefits each might have gained from an opening and continuing discussion. (The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis I, p. 2)
To put his observation in spiritual terms, we grow when we risk exploring each other’s perceptions and applications of biblical truth to test and strengthen our own grasp of God’s will for us. I would say that it is quite one thing to think that one possesses truth and quite another thing to experience oneself as being possessed by truth. Whether it is an old truth or a new truth, they who believe they own the truth will become rigid and defensive. They who believe they are possessed by truth, new or old, find themselves in joyful service to the truth, and willingly engage others so that all members of the conversation can be productive and balanced. Rigidity and disconnection are the enemies of spiritual growth in conservatives and liberals alike.
The value of the worldwide Communion, when it is working well, is that those who see something new and those who cherish something old, are in a position to grow in a conversation that is truly catholic. At the moment, at least, that possibility still exists and, like many, I hope that the long-promised conversation may actually get started.
The full text is here.
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By George Conger
THE NEW Orleans statement of the US House of Bishops has ‘clarified all outstanding questions’ posed by the Primates to the American Church, a report prepared by the Primates/ACC Joint Standing Committee (JSC) has found.
However, the 19-page report has been dismissed as dishonest by US conservatives, and its conclusions rejected by the African churches. Observers note the clumsy attempt of the JSC to usurp the prerogatives of the Primates, and to become a de facto fifth ‘instrument of unity,’ has served to worsen the already bitter climate within the Communion.
The Primates had asked the US Church to clarify the statement of its 2006 General Convention that it would not permit the election of more gay bishops or authorise gay blessings, that an autonomous scheme for pastoral oversight be given to traditionalists, and that the lawsuits against breakaway conservative parishes would cease.
At their March meeting the US bishops invited Dr Williams and the members of the Primates Standing Committee to meet with them face-to-face to avert a blow up. Over the summer this invitation was enlarged by the ACC staff to include itself and the ACC standing committee. In New Orleans the US Bishops pledged ‘as a body’ to ‘exercise restraint’ in electing gay bishops, pledged not to authorise ‘public rites’ of same-sex blessings, and agreed to delegated pastoral oversight for traditionalists under the supervision of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. It declined to address the issue of lawsuits, and chastised Global South Primates for violating their jurisdictions in providing support for traditionalist congregations.
The JSC concluded that this response satisfied the Primates’ requests and added the US was correct in citing the ‘ancient councils of the Church’ in protesting border crossings. The Primates were hypocrites in demanding the US church refrain from implementing gay bishops and blessings while they permitted the border crossings to go on. “[W]e do not see how certain Primates can in good conscience call upon The Episcopal Church to meet the recommendations of the Windsor Report while they find reasons to exempt themselves from paying
regard to them.
“We recommend that the Archbishop remind them of their own words and undertakings,” the report said.
Crafted in a late night session on Sept 24 by Bishop Jefferts Schori and the JSC, the statement was adopted with amendments by the bishops on Sept 25. Critics of the report charge it is disingenuous of the ACC to give an independent endorsement of a report that it helped write, and question the US Presiding Bishop’s role as defendant, judge and jury in the process.
Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda called the report ‘severely compromised, and the gross conflicts of interest it represents utterly undermine its credibility.’ He said the Primates did not envision the ACC inserting itself in the process while the US was ‘considering our requests. Yet, members of the [JSC] met with Presiding Bishop Schori in the course of the preparation
of their House of Bishops’ statement in order to suggest certain words, which, if included in the statement, would assure endorsement by the [JSC].
‘Presiding Bishop Schori’s participation in the evaluation of the response requested of her province is a gross conflict of interest. We wonder why she did not recuse herself.’ Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt, a member of the JSC delegation in New Orleans repudiated the report saying the US had given an inadequate response. “Instead they used ambiguous language and contradicted themselves within their own response,” he said.
The African archbishops also questioned the integrity of the JSC report, stating last Friday that: “On first reading we find it to be unsatisfactory. The assurances made are without credibility and its preparation is severely compromised by numerous conflicts of interest. The report itself appears to be a determined effort to find a way for the full inclusion of The Episcopal Church with no attempt at discipline or change from their prior position.”
The JSC report will be forwarded to all of the members of the Anglican Consultative Council and the primates for consideration. Archbishop Rowan Williams has asked for
their responses by the end of October.
--This article appears on page 8 of today's edition of the Church of England Newspaper
Washington Blade: What is your reaction to the House of Bishops statement released last week?
Bishop Gene Robinson: My take on what happened is “not much” and that’s what a number of us were working for. The bishops in our church don’t speak for the whole church. Our church only speaks when bishops and clergy and laity are gathered. Unlike many other churches, the bishops do not speak for the whole church. So it was not within our authority to do something different than what the General Convention did last summer. It was largely a restatement of where we already were. My thought is that sometimes progress is holding the ground you’ve already gained when moving forward is either untimely or politically not possible. I think that’s what we did....
Blade: What do you say to gay Christians who are struggling under the weight of their own church’s oppression? Is it better to stay and fight or leave and join a gay-friendly church?
Robinson: That’s a very personal choice. I would recommend that everyone stay and work hard in the denomination and religious communities they find to be home. But I also understand that in some places, in some congregations and environments it has become so toxic to one’s spiritual life that it may not be possible. To find spiritual solace, comfort and inspiration someplace else is also a reasonable choice. In the end, I don’t think God wants any one of us to sacrifice our spiritual life on this or any other altar. It’s up to each person to assess where they are in their own relationship with God and to discern whether that relationship is so strong that you can stay in a somewhat hostile environment to work for change. And if you can’t, then go someplace that does feed you.
Read it all.
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Important Update: In the course of discussing this with readers, I've realized I made a mistake in lumping together the five bishops who included the "breadth of response" language in their responses to the New Orleans statement. In particular +Ed Little should not just have been lumped in the list as if he was trying to exploit some loophole. Upon re-reading his statement, that would be clearly UNTRUE. Please see my comment #44 below. Apologies for the confusion and not giving +Little's statement more careful attention. It shouldn't have been just lumped in the batch. --elfgirl
Some TEC Bishops try to exploit a perceived loophole and hide the truth
In my work the other night compiling and organizing various TEC bishops' letters and statements following the New Orleans HoB meeting, one phrase began to leap out at me as it was repeated and emphasized by quite a few TEC bishops. Some among the TEC bishops, notably +Jack McKelvey, seemed to be claiming that the public same sex blessings occurring in their dioceses fall under the Primates' allowance of a "breadth of private pastoral response."
Two examples should suffice, though at least 5 bishops, and perhaps others, have highlighted this phrase in their discussions of the New Orleans HoB meeting:
+Duncan Gray of Mississippi:
We also articulated, again as requested, the fact that this church has never authorized the blessing of same gender unions. We spoke clearly to the fact that a majority of dioceses already function on this matter in the way that we do in this diocese. We also made reference, as the Primate of Australia suggested we do, to the fact that the Primates themselves have affirmed that pastoral care for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters requires the Communion ‘to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care."
+Jack McKelvey of Rochester, (a bishop and diocese who are on record (see pp 11 – 13) as supporting and allowing public SSBs for nearly 30 years):
We quoted the Primates in their May 2003 statement saying that we have a pastoral duty, "to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations." They further stated, ". . . It is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care." This will be honored in the Diocese of Rochester and I believe in many dioceses throughout our church.
+Larry Benfield of Arkansas(a diocese which had just recently, under +Benfield's predecessor +Larry Maze, begun to allow public SSBs to be conducted by its clergy; +Benfield may be changing the policy in the diocese, it is not yet totally clear.) also specifically cited "breadth of private response" language, as did +Henry Parsley of Alabama and +Ed Little of Northern Indiana.
So, what were the Primates actually affirming in May 2003, and is the TEC HoB's adoption of this phrase consistent with the original usage or intent? It appears that this is a key question. Let's trace the history of this language and the intent behind the original language, first looking at the actual use of this phrase in New Orleans.
1. TEC HoB Usage of the Phrase "Breadth of ... response" in New Orleans
On Sept. 24, in the midst of the TEC HoB meeting, TitusOne Nine published the proposed draft of the TEC response to the primates. That draft response included this section:
5. Because we are a liturgical church our actions concerning blessings are expressed in public liturgies. No rite of blessing for persons living in same sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. We wish to make it clear that the House of Bishops has not voted to authorize such liturgies. Even in the absence of such public rites, we acknowledge that the blessing of same sex unions, no matter how public or private, is unacceptable to some of our brothers and sisters in our own House, in our church, and in the Communion. The issue remains perplexing for us as we seek to balance these concerns about rites of blessing and the pressing pastoral need that confronts us. We wish to offer respect for these differing viewpoints.
We are grateful that the Primates have articulated their support for meeting the individual pastoral needs of gay and lesbian persons. In 2003 they wrote "there is a duty of pastoral care that is laid upon all Christians to respond with love and understanding to homosexual persons." The Primates have written that there must be a breadth of private and pastoral responses to individual situations. It is the case that for many decades, the Episcopal Church has explored the most faithful ways of ministering to and with gay and lesbian people who are part of our common life. We acknowledge that in some of our dioceses this includes the blessing of same sex unions.
Note how here the proposed text explicitly acknowledges the public blessings of same-sex unions occurring in various dioceses and tries to claim that such blessings fall under the "breadth of ... pastoral responses" envisioned by the Primates. The TEC bishops suggest and appear to want to believe that the only matter of concern to the Primates was the official authorization of liturgical rites for same-sex blessings at a national level, in spite of the fact that the Dar es Salaam Communiqué explicitly stated the Primates’ concern about TEC’s “pastoral provision” in various dioceses.
In the final statement from New Orleans, that section re: Same-sex blessings was modified to read as follows:
Blessing of Same-Sex Unions
We, the members of the House of Bishops, pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. In the near future we hope to be able to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide listening process. In the meantime, it is important to note that no rite of blessing for persons living in same-sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. In addition to not having authorized liturgies the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions. We do note that in May 2003 the Primates said we have a pastoral duty "to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations." They further stated, "...It is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care."
Again, the TEC bishops are trying to claim that the Primates' 2003 statement would encompass and allow the current practice of public same sex blessings occurring in many TEC dioceses.
As noted, the language in question goes back to the May 2003 Primates' Communiqué following the Primates meeting in Gramado, Brazil. Let's look at that more closely...
Read it all (you can also download this)
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With regard to the question of same-sex blessings, we also reiterated what has already been said many times before, that most bishops/dioceses do not provide for these. The fact is, no bishop can “authorize” rites in any institutional sense apart from the action of General Convention. That such blessings do occur in some places and at some times is a pastoral reality. These blessings are “outside” the official umbrella of the authorization of General Convention. However, they are within the provisions of the resolution of General Convention 2003 which affirmed that such pastoral actions are “within the bounds of our common life.”
A Brief Reflection on the Recent Statement from the House of Bishops
The Rt. Rev. Joe G. Burnett
[Note: the full text of the Bishops’ Statement follows this reflection.]
At the conclusion of our recent meeting in New Orleans, some one hundred and fifty bishops approved a document entitled Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners. This approval came on a voice vote with only one audible dissenting vote. Anytime such a document receives this level of support in our diverse community of bishops, you can be sure that it either represents a wide consensus, or that it reflects the fact that most, if not all, of those present and voting are not completely happy with the results, but have chosen to compromise on one or more elements. My own sense is that the latter reality is in play here. And my guess is that individual members of our own diocese will find themselves in a similar place, i.e., in agreement with some parts of the statement, but not with others.
As I think about what we said in New Orleans, I am reminded of an old saw about preaching: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. And then tell them what you told them.” In many ways, our statement was part three of that homiletic counsel. We told them (our Anglican Communion partners) what we have already told them twice before.
Our statement of Response is in three parts: (1) an introduction and preamble; (2) a “bullet point” summary; and (3) an elaboration and explanation of the bullet points. Also, this statement is carefully worded and nuanced. An accurate interpretation of any one part must be undertaken in terms of the overall content of the whole.
In short, here is my interpretation, followed by a couple of closing comments.
First, we said nothing new in terms of our strong desire to remain part of the Anglican Communion, or in terms of our responses to requests that have been made of us by our Anglican Communion partners.
Our description of General Convention resolution B033 was just that—a description—along with a word about what we believe the resolution means to most bishops. I say “most,” because some of the bishops feel bound by this resolution, and some do not. I count myself in the latter group, as I believe it is canonically and constitutionally inconsistent for bishops and/or standing committees to surrender, categorically and in advance, the sacred duty to give or to withhold consent to any Episcopal consecration.
With regard to the question of same-sex blessings, we also reiterated what has already been said many times before, that most bishops/dioceses do not provide for these. The fact is, no bishop can “authorize” rites in any institutional sense apart from the action of General Convention. That such blessings do occur in some places and at some times is a pastoral reality. These blessings are “outside” the official umbrella of the authorization of General Convention. However, they are within the provisions of the resolution of General Convention 2003 which affirmed that such pastoral actions are “within the bounds of our common life.”
In keeping with this theme we also reaffirmed our message to the church from our Spring 2007 meeting in which we called for justice and dignity for gay and lesbian persons throughout the world, and, in particular, across the Anglican Communion.
Second, we reaffirmed our intention to live within the constitutional and canonical framework of The Episcopal Church. We did this not only by affirming our Presiding Bishop’s plan for “Episcopal Visitors,” but also by acknowledging that changes of policy on various issues could only occur by action of General Convention—and quite apart from any “consensus” in the wider Communion.
Third, we strongly urged an end to extra-provincial incursions by uninvited bishops. We insisted on fulfillment of the promise to implement a “listening process” around the Communion on matters of human sexuality. And we encouraged the Archbishop of Canterbury in his “expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference.”
Finally, I offer two thoughts—one hopeful and one not so.
Here is the hopeful thought: Since our meeting I have been heartened by the generally positive response to our statement by the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates—many of whom, by the way, share our frustration that we have been prodded by a few (who do not have the authority to do so) to go through these machinations. I hope this process will lead to a more productive unity with those who really do cherish the broad traditions of Anglicanism. We shall see.
My not so hopeful thought, however, has to do with my nagging sense that in our fervor to preserve the institutional ties within our Communion, in some cases with provinces and persons who have already declared themselves out of communion with us, we have yet again postponed our full commitment to a truly inclusive church. If that is the case, then I seriously doubt that what we have said and done in New Orleans will either preserve the Anglican Communion as we have known it, or promote the gospel of Jesus as we have received it.
As always, I stand ready to visit and discuss these issues with clergy groups and or parish groups across our diocese.
Grace and peace,
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
One statement produced four different headlines: “Episcopal Bishops stand their ground” (The Times- Picayune, New Orleans), “Episcopal Bishops reject Anglican Church’s orders” (New York Times), “Episcopal Bishops make concessions for the sake of unity” (USA Today), and “Episcopal leaders pledge ‘restraint’ on gay support” (Des Moines Register). As one who was there and engaged in the discussion and response, I would write “Episcopal Bishops seek to offer clarity and transparency to the Anglican Communion”.
In our statement in response to the Primates’ Communiqué the House of Bishops reinforced first that we would not consent to any one elected as bishop whose manner of life was a challenge to the Communion, and we clarified that this resolution (General Convention resolution B003) pertained to non-celibate gay and lesbian persons. We underscored how this response from General Convention had been accepted by the ACC’s own Working Sub Group set up to evaluate our responses to the Windsor Report. Second, we upheld that we have never and will not in the current time authorize any official rites for same sex blessings. We added that a majority of bishops do not allow their clergy to offer the local pastoral option for same sex couples of an unofficial or private rite, even though the Primates own statement from 2003 indicates that such offerings are pastorally sensitive. We were also clear that some bishops do permit their clergy to make local pastoral provisions for such couples. All in all it struck me that this statement alone was an indication of a serious roll back from 2003, as I am sure some bishops of that majority have ceased such permissions since that time. The distinction of practice between authorizing rites and local option allowance was something the ACC representatives wanted to know about. It was a clarity that allowed for greater unity across the floor of the House of Bishops.
The third area concerned the refusal in March and then in June by the Executive Council for a pastoral council made up of representatives from beyond this Province to overview the concerns of the dioceses who could not accept the Presiding Bishop’s authority. We upheld our position, but asked the Presiding Bishop to explore ways to create such a sounding board through which the Communion could engage us in regular conversation about things that come up that might be potentially problematic. The Presiding Bishop announced a team of Episcopal visitors – all bishops on the conservative spectrum of the House – including for example the Bishop of Dallas whom it was hoped would be acceptable to a bishop like his neighbor in Fort Worth. The ACC representatives assured us that a pastoral council would not infringe on our autonomous polity but be a source for preliminary conversation for things that might come up of a challenging nature which could then be marked as such. We hoped that such a council might include radar that swings 360 degrees and is not only pointed at The Episcopal Church. The council would be made up of all the ministry orders: lay, non episcopal clergy and bishops.
In these responses, I believe that we did what we were asked, and then went further to speak about jurisdictional boundary crossings, the ongoing listening process for gay and lesbian believers, our ongoing support as a Communion to the rights of gay and lesbians around the world, and a request to explore Gene Robinson’s potential invitation to the Lambeth Conference. The complete statement was accepted by the House of Bishops with only one nay vote, and that from a bishop who was standing by his GC vote against B033. Bishops who had been unable to sign on to our statement from the March House of Bishops, and Bishops who had rose to distance themselves from B033 at its passing at General Convention 2006, and Bishops who had risen to protest the inability simply to pass the Windsor report at that same Convention all declared themselves of one mind in our response to the Primates. One mind did not mean of the same opinion on the matters at hand, but that we had stated our positions as clearly and openly as we could. Only those who had already decided on the outcome and seemed to be there only to be heard by the Archbishop of Canterbury – Pittsburgh, West Kansas and Quincy – leaving when he did, as well as those who did not attend at all– Fort Worth, San Joaquin and Springfield – exempted themselves from the response process altogether.
The Bishop of Rio Grande, however, was in a class by himself, as with great emotion and humility he announced his resignation from The Episcopal Church and his desire to enter the Roman Catholic Church. His profound, personal theological statement and his warmth of feeling for his fellow Bishops as he explained his reasons, was a highlight. In one sense it was the Church at its best in a most sorrowful time, and the standing ovation and embraces he received afterwards will never be forgotten. It was a marked contrast to the arrogance that has been a part of our dispute.
As with most historical and critical times, there was drama. An early draft of where we might be, provided by a selected Writing Committee, was rejected from both sides as non representative, unclear and unhelpful. That draft unfortunately was released as “our statement” by an unknown source as we worked on the process in open session. Even the New York Times “bit” early and Bishops had to send out disclaimers through their diocesan communications officers, warning against premature reactivity among their people.
Whether our own statement will be sufficient for the Archbishop and for those who assess it officially is to be seen. Certainly we were left in no doubt about the seriousness of the requests upon us. The Archbishop ended his statements by stating on the one hand that we were not under any deadline or facing an ultimatum, but went on to say, on the other, that “what happens in these next few days will enable growth to go forward or not.”
For me, three things were very clear. There was not a soul in the place that did not with great affection and passion appreciate their fellowship in the Anglican Communion, and we have to a large extent sought to make space for the broader conversation if members of the Communion really want it. The Archbishop and the members of the Joint Standing Committees of the ACC and the Primates indicated by their presence how much they seek that conversation. We are not however as a Church going to embrace a perspective on gay and lesbian believers which excludes them. That is a missional stance for many of us. And finally through our engagement with the city and people of New Orleans and of the Mississippi Coastal communities, and witnessing their efforts to come back from the devastation of Katrina and the breaking of the levees, we received an incredible charge to be restorers of paths to dwell in. In addition we were challenged by Dr Paul Farmer who works in his volunteer time to bring about the eradication of poverty and disease around the world to see that our constituency as bishops is equal to that of the public representatives of our cities and states and our voices and energy need to be displayed in the public arena. I was reminded that this is the conversation that was going on in the House of Bishops as I joined it, and one that caught my imagination then and still does today.
Out of the breaking of our Communion’s levees, I believe that the Holy Spirit is bringing us back around to God’s great and continuous agenda. It is the agenda of God’s mission which we can do in the unique relationships across the globe called the Anglican Communion, and it is an agenda I know we will continue with our partners already made around the globe. In fact it is also really an agenda we need to seek to carry out in an ever expanding communion of all of Christ’s followers regardless of our diverse and particular ecclesiological personalities. For there is never a shortage of opportunity to be united in mission, if we have the will. In fact life is too short to have it any other way, and the need for God’s love and care too great and too urgent.
--(The Rt. Rev.) Alan Scarfe is Bishop of Iowa
On the matter of the concerns before us from the Primates and the rest of the Anglican Communion, I want to offer a few reflections. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, was with us to both hear from us and to share with us. In addition were members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates. They listened to us, were fully a part of our work, and spoke to us. I believe that we came away with a better understanding of one another. Of greatest importance, is that we understand what it means to be in communion, and on an even deeper level, what it means to be the Church. We are in challenging times, and also times of great opportunity, if we can truly listen to one another and walk together. My analogy is that when people are trying to walk and talk it is often the case that one is walking ahead of the other which makes it impossible for the other to hear or be heard. My hope and my prayer is that this meeting will make it possible for us to walk together and to truly listen, one to the other. Some of you may feel that we gave up too much; others may feel that we did not go far enough. I understand these feelings. It is critical that you know I have never seen the House of Bishops work more respectfully or more prayerfully. All bishops were engaged, across the theological spectrum.
Read it all.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As most of you are well aware, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church met September 19th -25th in New Orleans. Immediately following was a meeting of The Common Cause Partnership, held in Pittsburgh, September 25th - 28th. I attended both meetings, the second of which as an observer. Rather than come out with some statement immediately upon my return, I felt it necessary to take a few days to pray and reflect on all that occurred, as well as deal with all the diocesan business that was awaiting me upon my return. I would now like to share some of my thoughts and observations. I greatly appreciate your patience.
Regarding the House of Bishops’ Meeting, there were some hopeful things that occurred, as well as some frustrating and disappointing things, all of which I will speak more about in the following response. The main task confronting the bishops going into the meeting was how to respond to the February 2007 Dar es Salaam Communiqué from the Primates of the Anglican Communion.
Essentially we were asked to make a clear response to four areas of concern:
1) Will the House of Bishops make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will
not authorize any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through
2) Will the House of Bishops confirm that the passing of Resolution BO33 of the 75th
General Convention means that a candidate for Episcopal orders living in a same sex union
shall not receive the necessary consent; unless some new consensus on these matters
emerges across the Communion?
3) Will the House of Bishops allow participation in the pastoral scheme proposed in the Dar
es Salaam Communiqué which would provide an alternative Primatial Vicar for those
dioceses requesting it?
4) Will the House of Bishops respond favorably to the urging from the Primates for representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes to suspend all legal actions against one another?
The statement made by the House of Bishops in response to the four areas of concern just mentioned can be found on the Diocesan Website: http://www.albanyepiscopaldiocese.org/news/other/071002.html. As you might expect, there has been a great deal of debate and speculation these past several days regarding the bishops’ response and how it will be received by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Anglican Communion.
While some believe that the Bishops’ Statement adequately addresses the Primates’ concerns and will thereby be favorably received, helping to mend the “tear in the fabric” of our common life in Christ, others argue that it is more of the same, falling far short of the clear unequivocal response requested by the Primates. Unfortunately, the recently released Joint Standing Committee (JSC) Report on the House of Bishops’ response only adds to the confusion.
On the one hand the JSC report states, “We believe that the Episcopal Church has clarified all outstanding questions relating to their response to the questions directed explicitly to them, and on which clarifications were sought by the 30th of September and given the necessary assurance sought of them.” However, as stated by Archbishop Mouneer Aris, Primate of Jerusalem and the
Middle East, “It is very unfortunate that not all the members of the JSC were present when a response to the House of Bishops of TEC was drafted. The lack of discussion and interaction will not produce a report that expresses the view of the whole committee.” He went on to say, “the House of Bishops has not responded positively to either the Windsor Report or the Dar es Salam Primates’ recommendations.”
Ultimately, Archbishop Rowan Williams and the other Primates will decide for themselves as to the adequacy of the Bishops’ Statement. A copy of the JSC report has been sent to all the Anglican Communion Primates and members of the Anglican Consultive Council with the request that they respond back to the Archbishop of Canterbury by the end of October.
Given the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves in, with the very future of the Anglican Communion, The Episcopal Church and ultimately the Diocese of Albany at stake, I urge each of us to keep the Archbishop of Canterbury along with the other Primates and members of the ACC in our prayers as they attempt to discern God’s will in how best to move forward. This truly is a critical time in the life of the Church. As we have all been reminded, the very fabric of the Anglican Communion has been torn. The decisions that will be made in the coming weeks and months could very well determine whether the fabric can be mended or whether it will be completely ripped in half, leading to the breakup of the Anglican Communion. I believe such a development would be tragic, delivering a major blow to all of Christendom.
In John’s Gospel, we read Jesus’ prayer for unity, “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one…I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world…I ask you to protect them from the evil one…Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth…I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:11, 14, 17, 20-21, 23) May our Lord ’s prayer for unity be our prayer. We are not just talking about the future relationship of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. The spread of the Gospel and the salvation of countless souls are at stake. The current environment within the Episcopal Church, with all the attacks and infighting is not very conducive to bringing people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
It is time to call a truce in the current battle, to give us time to rethink the road I am afraid the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion may very well go down if we are not careful. There is enough guilt, blame, pain and hurt to cover all sides. It is easy to point fingers at one another, blaming the other for the mess that we are in, but the reality is, we are all guilty. We have all contributed to the broken state of affairs in the Church – conservative, liberal, orthodox, revisionist -- whatever classification or label we might have. We are all in need of asking for forgiveness and offering forgiveness. Part of the House of Bishops inability to work more closely with one another and with the wider Anglican Communion is a result of past hurts and offenses that have never healed, been forgiven, or honestly dealt with. With that said, however, there are hopeful signs with the current governance of the House of Bishops that some healing can start taking place.
Genuine theological differences are another major contributing factor to the House’s inability to offer a more clear response to the Primates’ request. While the final statement made by the House of Bishops was much better than it started out, it fell far short of what I and several other Windsor Bishops had hoped for. It does however show the division within the House over the issues we are struggling with. Much of the apparent ambiguity in the response was actually an indication that the House is not all of one mind, but in fact is divided, despite various statements to suggest otherwise.
In the March 2007 Statement from the House of Bishops, the following remark was made: “In truth, the number of those who seek to divide our Church is small…The fact that we have among ourselves, and indeed encourage, a diversity of opinion on issues of sexuality should in no way be misunderstood to mean that we are divided, except among a very few, in our love for The Episcopal Church…”
During the House of Bishops Meeting, I along with other conservative bishops challenged the above statement. At the very least I believe this statement is inaccurate and fails to acknowledge the pain, frustration, embarrassment and anger that thousands of theologically conservative and orthodox Episcopalians are experiencing throughout the Episcopal Church. I’m not sure what is more frustrating, the fact that the statement was ever made, or that some actually believe it in light of the growing exodus of some of our largest parishes to include Christ Church, Plano (the largest Episcopal Church in the nation); Falls Church, VA; Truro Church, VA; the Pro Cathedral of St. Clement, El Paso; as well as numerous other smaller churches around the country, not to mention the tens of thousands of individual Episcopalians who have left the Episcopal Church in the last few years to go elsewhere because they cannot support the current direction of the National Church and because they are tired of fighting. In discussing the March statement, I pointed out that not only did I believe it was inaccurate for the reasons just mentioned, but to suggest that the number of people upset about the current state of affairs in the Church is “small” or “a very few” is insulting, insinuating that their views are insignificant. I stated, “I don’t consider myself or others who share similar theological views to be insignificant.” Fortunately, attempts to put similar statements in the September HOB response were not approved.
In the various attempts these past several years, as well intentioned as some of them may have been, to correct past injustices and make The Episcopal Church more inclusive, reaching out to the marginalized in society (particularly within the homosexual community), the Church has unfortunately become more exclusive, creating a new class of victims – the traditional orthodox believers. Clergy and laity alike, who acknowledge the authority of Holy Scripture, recognizing it as the revealed Word of God, and who believe the faith proclaimed in the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, as well as the traditional moral teachings of the Church, now find themselves under attack not only from the world as Jesus warned they would, but even more disturbingly, from within the Church itself. I believe the growing exodus of thousands and thousands of Episcopalians out of the Episcopal Church to CANA, AMiA, and the various other Anglican bodies that are springing up bear witness to the truth of this statement. The average Sunday attendance in The Episcopal Church across the United States is now under 800,000.
If we are to stop the current downward spiral of The Episcopal Church and the unraveling of the Anglican Communion, it is essential that the leadership of the Episcopal Church (Lay and Ordained) as well as the leadership of the wider Anglican Communion acknowledge the reality of the crisis we are in and then commit ourselves to work together to identify and honestly address the issues that have brought us to this point. While some are working toward this goal, much more still needs to be done. One thing is certain, if there is to be a turn around in the Church, there must be a viable place for the conservative orthodox voice. I was pleased at the September meeting that more conservative orthodox bishops began speaking up. I was also encouraged by the greater sense of cooperation between bishops of highly differing views. The warm reception that I, as a conservative bishop, have personally received by the vast majority of the bishops has been greatly appreciated and ads to my sense of hope for the future.
Some of the major problems we find ourselves confronted with include how to work through the very real theological differences in understanding of Holy Scripture and its authority in our lives; how to live out one’s human sexuality in a manner that is pleasing to God; how to best minister to those who find themselves to be homosexual; and what it means to live in communion with one another, exercising appropriate discipline when necessary while at the same time not falling into Satan’s trap of dividing ourselves into opposing camps at war with one another. As Jesus himself said, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house.” (Luke 11:17) The more we divide the weaker and less effective we become in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
While not compromising Himself by conforming to or adopting the ways of the world, Jesus didn’t isolate himself from people living sinful lives, as we currently seem to be doing by saying who we will and won’t associate with. But rather, he ate and drank and socialized with them. His presence amongst them brought transformation and healing into their brokenness. It is time that we recognize that we are all broken and that our enemy is not the person who thinks differently than we do, but Satan and the powers of evil who are intent on confusing, dividing and destroying us. If we are to overcome the chaos, confusion and division that threaten our Church, we must unite with one another in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Unity for unity sake is of little value. True meaningful unity within the Church can only occur in and through Christ. As you have heard me say over and over again, we must keep our focus on Christ as we go through the midst of the current storm we find ourselves in. Jesus is “the Way, and the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6) If we come humbly before the Lord, seeking His guidance, He will lead us, giving us the grace we need to work with those of a different mind, while we work toward a common understanding. I am not suggesting that it will be easy, but just the opposite. It will take tremendous effort, great humility, forgiveness, patience, understanding, and grace, depending not upon ourselves, but rather upon our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us. Apart from Christ we will fail, but in and through Christ ALL things are possible. It is for this reason that I have hope and am unwilling to write this person or that person or this group or that group off. I am constantly reminded of Paul’s Damascus Road experience and how an encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, turned one of the greatest enemies of the Church into one of the greatest saints of the Church.
A member of our Diocese recently emailed me and asked, “Can you give me any good reason (s) why I should remain a member of TEC (The Episcopal Church)?” In response to my friend who asked this question and to all the others who are thinking it, I offer the following reasons:
The Diocese of Albany including each of its parishes is The Episcopal Church within the 19 counties and 20,000 square miles that make up its borders.
The Bishop and leadership of this Diocese are Christ centered, and are committed to helping the Diocese live out The Great Commandment and The Great Commission, sharing the love and Good News of Jesus Christ, proclaiming Him as Lord and Savior, The Way, the Truth and the Life.
The Lord is doing a mighty work in the Diocese of Albany, pouring out his Holy Spirit on the various ministries of the Diocese, particularly in the ministry of healing.
At its best, The Episcopal Church as a member of the Anglican Communion has much to offer the larger Church, through its rich history, liturgy and tradition as well as its unique position uniting the best of Catholicism and Protestantism into one faith.
The Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion, although far from perfect, are worth fighting for. There is no perfect Church this side of Heaven. And yet even in our brokenness, God’s strength can shine forth.
You are a unique child of God, created in His image and likeness. We love and need you. I say this to all the members of this Diocese, regardless of where you find yourselves on the theological spectrum.
While being very conscious of the length of this letter and your time in reading it, there are a couple more things that I need to comment on. Regarding that which was asked by the Primates of the Anglican Communion, while I can’t speak for the entire House of Bishops, I will speak for myself as the Bishop of Albany and a member of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.
1) I will not authorize or permit any Rite of Blessing (public or private) for same-sex unions in this Diocese for the following reasons:
There is no Biblical president or support in either the Old or New Testament for such blessings. To do so would be encouraging individuals to live in a lifestyle that I believe is contrary to God’s Word as revealed in the teachings of Holy Scripture and 2000 years of Church tradition, and is therefore not in a person’s best interest to do so.
I recognize that many in our Church see this as a “justice issue.” I strongly believe that the Church has a responsibility to fight injustice protecting the dignity of all human beings, and to reach out and minister to all people including those who find themselves to be homosexual. The Church needs to reassure all people of God’s love for them and His gift of salvation made possible for all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, accepting Him as Lord and Savior. While God loves ALL His children, He does not necessarily approve of or bless all of our behavior. For this reason and the reasons listed above, I believe the Church would in fact be doing a great injustice to our homosexual brothers and sisters in Christ, by blessing same sex unions, even when those unions are within the confines of a loving and committed relationship.
As a member of the Anglican Communion, I believe The Episcopal Church has a responsibility to the other members of the Communion who have clearly stated that such blessings are not appropriate and in fact to authorize them would cause great pain, suffering and damage throughout the wider Communion.
2) While the interpretation of Resolution BO33 of the 75th General Convention seems to be
somewhat debatable, depending on who you talk to, as the Bishop of Albany, I will not
consent to any candidate for Episcopal orders living in a same sex union or anyone
involved in sexual relations outside of marriage between a man and woman, unless some
new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion. I make this
commitment for the same reasons listed above. I would remind us that in 1991,
the General Convention passed Resolution B020, addressing “human sexuality issues.” It concluded by saying, “these potentially divisive issues… should not be resolved by the
Episcopal Church on its own.” Unfortunately, we failed to heed our own warning which
proved to be very prophetic.
3) In regard to lawsuits, I believe every effort should be made by the Church to avoid going
to court over property issues. Once you go to court, everyone loses, the Diocese, the
Parish, the local community and the Church at large. There has to be a more Christian
manor of resolving legal disputes than the one currently being employed by the National
Church in dioceses across the country. I applaud those bishops who have tried to deal
with these issues in a pastoral way.
Finally in reference to the meeting of the Common Cause Partnership in Pittsburgh, as mentioned at the beginning of this letter, I did attend the meeting as an observer. I believe I have a responsibility as your bishop to be as informed as I can be regarding the current situation facing our Church. As I stated at the Diocesan Convention in June, it is my hope and prayer that we never have to decide between the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion. We are currently a member of both. God willing, we will stay that way. You will recall at the Diocesan Convention, I stated if either The Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion took any action that would require us to choose between one or the other, I would call for a Special Convention, at which time we would come together as a Diocese to decide how best to respond to whatever confronts us. To date, there is no need for such an action. Again, I pray there never will be.
With that said, as much as I love The Episcopal Church (even with all its current frustrations) and as much as I love the Anglican Communion, I love the Lord Jesus Christ most of all. As your bishop, I will do everything within my power, through the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to remain Christ centered, seeking His will in all that we do, as we move forward living out The Great Commandment and The Great Commission. May we never loose sight of who we are as children of God and the mission entrusted to us by our Lord Himself, to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything He has commanded. In so doing, our Lord promised he would never leave us, but would be with us to the end of the age.” God’s peace.
Faithfully Yours in Christ,
(The Rt. Rev. Bill Love is Bishop of Albany
On the issue of same sex unions, I argued that our statement be reflective of what is true right now in the Episcopal Church: that while same sex blessings are not officially permitted in most dioceses, they are going on and will continue to go on as an appropriate pastoral response to our gay and lesbian members and their relationships. Earlier versions of our response contained both sides of this truth. I argued to keep both sides of that truth in the final version, providing the clarity asked for by the Primates.
Others made the argument that to state that “a majority of Bishops do not sanction such blessings” implied that a minority do in fact sanction such blessings, and many more take no actions to prevent them. All this without coming right out and saying so. That argument won the day. I think it was a mistake.
Another issue to which I spoke was this notion of “public” versus “private” rites. I pointed out on the floor that our very theology of marriage is based on the communal nature of such a rite. Presumably, the couple has already made commitments to one another privately, or else they would not be seeking Holy Matrimony. What happens in a wedding is that the COMMUNITY is drawn into the relationship – the vows are taken in the presence of that community and the community pledges itself to support the couple in the keeping of their vows. It is, by its very nature, a “public” event – no matter how many or how few people are in attendance. The same goes for our solemn commitments to one another as lgbt couples.
I suspect that these efforts to keep such rites “private” is just another version of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” If avoidance of further conflict is the goal, then I can understand it. But if speaking the truth in love is the standard by which we engage in our relationships with the Communion, then no.
Let me also state strongly that I believe that the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and Primates MISunderstood us when they stated that they understood that the HOB in fact “declared a ‘moratorium on all such public Rites.’” Neither in our discussions nor in our statement did we agree to or declare such a moratorium on permitting such rites to take place. That may be true in many or most dioceses, but that is certainly not the case in my own diocese and many others. The General Convention has stated that such rites are indeed to be considered within the bounds of the pastoral ministry of this Church to its gay and lesbian members, and that remains the policy of The Episcopal Church.
Read it all. I applaud this truthful witness, and what I believe to be an accurate explanation that the bishops were misunderstood. Why can't we have more people in this church who are willing to tell the truth?--KSH.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
Note: BabyBlue has posted a list of statements we compiled last night. These are all the statements we've seen so far. (A total of 40 dioceses). So you can easily see what we're missing!
If your bishop has made a statement and it's not yet been posted, please e-mail us the text or the link: T19elves@yahoo.com
Thanks to all who are sending in such helpful links. Keep 'em coming.
A few excerpts from various bishops' statements which haven't yet been posted here. They are in no particular order and range quite widely in content. To view the full statements by each bishop quoted below, in most cases, just click on the name of the diocese.
+John Howard of Florida
I believe firmly that the Episcopal Church must be “true to itself.” It must honor its own nature and traditions in order to be an effective leader in this country, in the Anglican Communion, and in the world. […] We affirmed our commitment not to adopt any rite or service for the blessing of same-sex unions, even though we acknowledged that in a relatively small handful of dioceses some priests are performing such services without an official liturgy and as a purely pastoral matter. This is, of course, not the case in the Diocese of Florida and will not be for so long as I am your bishop.
+Todd Ousley of Eastern Michigan
I believe that we have fully responded to the requests of the Primates and have demonstrated our intent to be faithful to the Windsor Process. Despite some media reports to the contrary, I believe the statement to be a significant step toward healing division within the Communion and a reaffirmation of The Episcopal Church’s commitment to justice and dignity for all people.
+Chilton Knudson, Diocese of Maine:
In Maine, we are profoundly blessed by two realities: The ministries of gay and lesbian layfolk and clergy whom we cherish and support AND the ministries of people (lay and ordained) whose conscientious convictions cause them serious difficulty about the ministries of gay and lesbian folks in (at least) some aspects of our diocesan ministry. I pray we will always be an ANGLICAN diocese; a diocese which embraces and respects a great range of difference within the Body of Christ. My own personal, prayerful, position, has never been a secret: I believe that, by virtue of our baptism, God calls ALL of us into ministry and into all four orders of ministry (laypeople, deacon, priest and bishop). My position is unchanged.
The General Convention of the Episcopal Church is paramount in our governance, and unlike other Provinces where bishops are regarded as close to Almighty God in authority, we are committed to a democratic and inclusive form of government for our church.
A central charism of our church is that we all can be different--and differ widely from each other in opinion and practice--but always we are able to find our union in the Eucharist. Our history shows us our ability to remain united in the midst of controversies like slavery, discrimination and racism, birth control, remarriage of divorced persons, Prayer Book revisions and women's ordination.
But his pastoral letter and written "reflections" are much tamer than what he is reported to have told the Diocesan clergy at their clergy day shortly after the HoB meeting.
+Mark Hollingsworth of Ohio:
In the letter that proceeded from our meeting in March of this year, we stated, "We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church." You will see that these words are repeated near the end of this week's response to our Communion partners. It is a specific charism of The Episcopal Church to advocate for the civil rights and leadership gifts of gay and lesbian persons, by both our words and our actions. This need not conflict with our uncompromised commitment to continued relationship within the Anglican Communion, rather it may be an essential and valuable part of it.
Bp Michael Smith of North Dakota:
Specifically, the Primates requested that we “make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorize any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention.” In response we pledged “not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action.” We also noted that “the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions.”
+Carolyn Tanner Irish of Utah (Kendall already posted the news article in which this quote appears, but in the avalanche of news back then, it was easy for many to miss this statement, so I'm reposting it)
In the meantime, Bishop Irish said she will continue to bless same-sex unions, acknowledging that there are “all kinds” of restraints that she must follow to make those blessings happen. Those restraints include not doing the blessing during a Sunday service and making sure each person is a member of the church.
In our statement—A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners—we were able to accommodate concerns of our more conservative members by reconfirming the charge of the 2006 General Convention (Resolution B033) for bishops and standing committees to “exercise restraint” in giving consent to episcopal elections in which the candidate’s lifestyle would pose a challenge to the wider church, and by acknowledging this charge applies to non-celibate gay and lesbian persons.In addition, we pledged not to authorize public rites of blessing for same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion.
Both of these declarations conflict with my understanding of an open and inclusive Church, a conviction that informed my vote against B033 in 2006 and one I reconfirmed in my message to our diocese following the Primates communiqué last February. However, from what I witnessed this past week in New Orleans, I realize these compromises are necessary at this point in our Communion’s discernment to ensure the fullest participation in our ongoing conversation. It is important to note that while our General Convention has acknowledged that blessings of same-sex unions have occurred in response to local pastoral needs, the Convention has never authorized the development of such rites. Our Church is likely to revisit both these matters at our next General Convention in 2009.
The full text is here
The House of Bishops' final statement, a response to the Dar es Salaam Communiqué and additional questions posed to the Episcopal Church, follows this letter. It is born out of much work, much challenge to one another and with a deep general conviction within the House of Bishops to remain deeply part of the Anglican Communion while at the same time being authentically who we are as part of that body in our context. We also wanted to claim where we have come thus far, believing our voice and our experience is of utmost importance to the life of the Anglican Communion and the Christian witness in the world. The House of Bishops is clear that we are not of one mind on many of these issues but we desire to remain a model for how differing views can in fact remain in conversation and yet still gather around one table. There was an overwhelming feeling that this is the true expression of Anglicanism and one we want to continue to live into.
The full text is here.
Note: Nothing in Bp. Rickel's statement suggests he is in any way repudiating his earlier stated policy:
"Rickel says he is comfortable continuing Bishop Warner's stance of letting individual priests decide whether to perform blessing ceremonies for same-sex unions."-- Seattle Times, Sept. 15, 2007
We encourage you to read this on the Diocese of Hawaii website, since Bp. Fitzpatrick intersperses his comments with the HoB statement -- on the Hawaii site different colors are used making it easier to distinguish the original text and the bishop's response. Here's an excerpt:
While I believe that the blessing of same-sex unions is an important and right evolution in the life of Christ’s Church and I am formulating my own understanding of the topic for public teaching and critique, The Episcopal Church has not authorized such rites and we have no clear teaching (or even a mind of the House of Bishops preliminary report) on this matter. In keeping with this statement, I will therefore not authorize such public blessings of same-sex unions in the Diocese of Hawai`i and I formally ask the clergy of this Diocese to refrain from officiating in any liturgies in our churches that might be construed by the reasonable outside observer as a formal public “blessing” or “marriage” of a same-sex couple. As a Church in the catholic tradition, individual priests and vestries (or, in my mind, bishops and dioceses) have no authority to act unilaterally in such matters. We are not congregationalists or presbyterians. Our catholic heritage demands a broader action of a national church in consultation with the Communion worldwide (even if the local national church chooses to act on its own in keeping with its canons and governance). This part of the House of Bishops statement is a response, I think, to the need to have clearer teaching before acting. It is a fair statement of our Church at this time, though the limits for this Diocese noted above are my own.
The full text is here.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
Bishop John Bryson Chane said that the Diocese of Washington does not have an authorized rite for blessing same-sex relationships. However, he added that the statement passed by the bishops will allow such blessings to continue in the diocese.
--From the front page of the latest Washington Window, a newsletter of the diocese of Washington. Could the degree of word games and the refusal to do what the Tanzania Communique asked for be any clearer?
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in its 9/25/07 statement in response to concerns expressed by representatives of the Anglican Communion, clearly stated the following:
Agreed not to consent to the consecration of any bishop who would upset the harmony of the World Wide Anglican Communion. Agreed not to formally adopt rites for public blessings of same-sex unions. [Note: these statements are copied verbatim from a number of emails posted on the HoBD list for Bishops, Deputies, and Alternates). True or False?
Needless to say there is widespread disagreement on this question. The basic difficulty, I believe, is rooted in our inability to listen. The 1998 recommendation of the Lambeth Conference (that a "listening process" be initiated) presumed that most Anglicans had developed basic listening skills. This was and continues to be a seriously erroneous assumption. For proof one need look no further than the confusion over the meaning of the HoB 9/25/07 statement. So let us consider these two issues.
"We reconfirm that resolution B033 of General Convention 2006 calls upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees 'to exercise restraint by not consenting ...'" (and the 9/25/07 statement continues with the rest of B033).
Well, if it will help anybody who may be confused, I will join with our Bishops and reconfirm that B033 as passed by General Convention 2006 says what B033 passed by General Convention 2006 said it said.
Have I given you any assurance that I will honor this request? Have I told you that I support this decision of GC? Indeed, have I pledged "not to consent?" While I stand ready to be corrected by one whose listening skills are more developed than mine, in my opinion the House of Bishops made no such commitment in its 9/25/07 statement. It simply reconfirmed the text of B033.
Now to the second issue: did the HoB agree "not to formally adopt rites for public blessings of same-sex unions?" Well, here is what the Bishops actually said (see if you can spot the difference); "We pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions." Did you get it? One says "rites for public blessings" and the other says "public rites for the blessing ...". There is no end to the word games being played here.
But the key phrase in my view is "we pledge as a body ...". I don't recall anyone worrying about the possibility that the HoB might act unilaterally on the issue of same-sex blessings. Indeed, our Bishops have maintained for years that only General Convention could authorize such rites and it has not acted. The real point here is that individual Bishops may (and will) continue to do as they please.
Compare the above with what our HoB stated in their "Covenant Statement" issued on March 15, 2005 in response to the Windsor Report:
"Those of us having jurisdiction pledge to withhold consent to the consecration of any person elected to the episcopate after the date hereof until the General Convention of 2006, and we encourage the dioceses of our church to delay episcopal elections accordingly. ... [We also] pledge not to authorize any public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions, and we will not bless any such unions, at least until the General Convention of 2006."
Whatever happened to the clear, unambiguous phrase "we pledge"? Two and one half years is a pretty short life span.
In its 10/8/07 issue Newsweek magazine described the most recent HoB statement as "a shift to the middle so slight and nuanced it's almost imperceptible." Actually, when compared to the 3/15/05 statement, the 9/25/07 statement strikes me as an unmistakable step away from the middle. But then people of good will can and will disagree over a change "so slight and nuanced [that] it's almost imperceptible."
Oh, and by the way, my answer to my opening question is that both statements are indeed false.
--The Rev. Nathaniel W. Pierce lives in Trappe, Maryland
Two 9/26/07 headlines:
"US Anglicans Reject Gay Bishops" [BBC news in London]
"Episcopal Bishops Reject Anglican Orders" [New York Times -- orders here does not refer to ordination, but rather to the "order" to reject gay Bishops]
Two headlines from respected news organizations on the same statement but with an absolutely different understanding of what the HoB said. Pause for a moment in reverent, holy awe. After more than four centuries of work, behold the perfect manifestation of Anglican fudge. We shall not see this again in our lifetime.
The other interesting quote comes from Newsweek magazine: "a shift to the middle so slight and nuanced it's almost imperceptible."
--The Rev. Nathaniel Pierce lives in Trappe, Maryland
What was it I was hoping for above all in New Orleans? Clarity and not obfuscation. We got the latter and not the former, alas--KSH.
The discussions were honest and painful. I doubt whether any House of Bishops has been so directly challenged before, and some were offended and hurt.
In the end, the Presiding Bishop was able to tell the Joint Standing Committee that it had agreed that: first, it would not consent to consecrate any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life “presents a challenge to the wider Church”. It included non-celibate gay and lesbian persons in this. Second, the Bishops pledged not to authorise for use in their dioceses any public rites of blessing for same-sex unions.
The Joint Standing Committee agreed that the Episcopal Church had given the necessary assurances on these two issues. They saw that the Bishops had shifted ground considerably in passing these resolutions. The Committee consists of people of different views from provinces across the Communion: for it to come to this view speaks volumes of the real shift it believed the Bishops had made.
As for the pastoral care for dissenting minorities, the Presiding Bishop announced at the start of our meeting that she had appointed several bishops to minister to dioceses who found her ministry unacceptable (episcopal visitors). She felt that the theological stance of such bishops should be able to command the respect of the dissenting congregations. This was endorsed by the House of Bishops.
Read it all. It is remarkable that someone as bright as the Archbishop of Wales could be so mistaken. The Bishops shifted ground considerably?Barry Morgan apparently attended a different meeting than the Bishop of Southern Ohio who accurately noted: we have said nothing new. As for the proposed plan for pastoral care, it was devised without even consulting with the leadership of the movement it was designed to care for. This is the equivalent of General Motors managment announcing a new company policy on health care without consulting the workers.
Conservative Anglicans have condemned a statement by the bishops of the Episcopal Church (TEC) last week, which they claim failed to clarify the US Church’s views on homosexuality, writes Timothy Lavin.
Primates of the Anglican Communion at a meeting in February demanded that the leaders of TEC, Anglicanism’s American wing, vow not to consecrate non-celibate gay bishops or approve an official blessing for gay unions. The American bishops, meeting in New Orleans last month to discuss the issue, said that they would continue to “exercise restraint” when naming bishops and would not approve a blessing for same-sex unions. But their statement fell far short of what many in the Anglican leadership had wanted.
“It was our expressed desire to provide one final opportunity for an unequivocal assurance from the Episcopal Church of their commitment to the mind and teaching of the Communion,” said Peter Akinola, the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria and a prominent conservative. “We also made clear that it is a time for clarity and a rejection of what hitherto has been an endless series of ambiguous and misleading statements. Sadly it seems that
our hopes were not well founded.”
CAPA Primates’ Meeting in Mauritius
5th October 2007
We, the Primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) meeting 3rd to 5th October in Mauritius, Province of the Indian Ocean, issue this Communiqué from our meeting:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our one and only Saviour.
1. We have been greatly encouraged by our time together with the CAPA Council that has just completed its General Meeting. A separate Communiqué has been issued from these proceedings and we give thanks to God for the dedication of each of the delegates and the many signs of God’s blessing throughout our various provinces.
2. At the conclusion of that meeting we conducted elections for the CAPA leadership team and are pleased to announce that the Most Rev’d Ian Ernest, Bishop of Mauritius and Archbishop of the Province of the Indian Ocean was elected to serve as Chairman with the Most Rev’d Emmanuel Kolini, Bishop of the Diocese of Kigali and Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda, elected to serve as Vice-Chairman. We are grateful for their courageous leadership and look forward to the work of CAPA going from strength to strength.
3. We are, however, aware that we live and serve within the context of the wider Anglican Communion and acknowledge that we are profoundly concerned by the current impasse that confronts us. We have spent the last ten years in a series of meetings, issuing numerous communiqués, setting deadlines and yet we have made little progress. As was clearly articulated by our brother bishop, the Most Rev’d Mouneer Anis, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal/Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East when he addressed the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church (TEC), “we want unity but not unity at any expense.” We have observed that his call for clarity in response to the Dar es Salaam recommendations and his appeal to them to turn back from their current path or acknowledge that TEC has chosen to walk a different way from the rest of the Anglican Communion was ignored. We believe, therefore, that a change of direction from our current trajectory is urgently needed.
4. While meeting in Mauritius we received a copy of the report of the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council. On first reading we find it to be unsatisfactory. The assurances made are without credibility and its preparation is severely compromised by numerous conflicts of interest. The report itself appears to be a determined effort to find a way for the full inclusion of The Episcopal Church with no attempt at discipline or change from their prior position.
5. We are convinced that what is at stake in this crisis is the very nature of Anglicanism – to understand it simply in terms of the need for greater inclusivity in the face of changing sexual ethics is a grave mistake. It is not just about sexuality but also about the nature of Christ, the truth of the Gospel and the authority of the Bible. We see a trend that seems to ignore the careful balance of reformed catholicity and missionary endeavor that is our true heritage and replace it with a religion of cultural conformity that offers no transforming power and no eternal hope.
6. In our considered opinion, however, there is a possible way forward. The Anglican Communion Covenant is the one way for us to uphold our common heritage of faith while at the same time holding each one of us accountable to those teachings that have defined our life together and also guide us into the future. We therefore propose the following actions:
a. Call a special session of the Primates Meeting. We believe that meeting together is essential if we are prayerfully to allow the Holy Spirit to work through our interactions and bring us to a common mind. We would need to:
i. Review the actual response made by The Episcopal Church – both their words and their actions.
ii. Finalize the Covenant proposal and set a timetable for ratification by individual provinces.
b. Postpone current plans for the Lambeth Conference. We recognize that such an action will be costly, however, we believe that the alternative – a divided conference with several provinces unable to participate and hundreds of bishops absent would be much more costly to our life and witness. It would bring an end to the Communion, as we know it. Postponement will accomplish the following:
i. Allow the current tensions to subside and leave room for the hard work of reconciliation that must be done.
ii. Ensure that those invited to the Lambeth Conference have already endorsed the Covenant and so can come together as witness to our common faith.
7. We make these proposals in good faith believing that they provide an opportunity for us to reunite the Communion consistent with our common heritage and give us a way forward. We also stand ready to work with the various instruments of the Communion to ensure their success.
8. We are very much aware of the plight of faithful Anglicans in North America during these difficult times. We assure them of our prayers, support and full recognition until the underlying concerns are fully resolved.
9. While these current difficulties are challenging for all concerned we do not lose heart because we know that the One we serve is faithful. During our time together we have heard numerous testimonies of God’s faithfulness in the face of enormous difficulties and we are confident that we will find a way forward that will bring honour to His Name.
10. We recognize the fellowship and participation of the following Archbishops who have announced their retirement: the Most Rev’d Bernard Malango, The Church of the Province of Central Africa, the Most Rev’d Most Rev'd Njongonkulu Ndungane, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Most Rev’d Donald Mtetemela, Anglican Church of Tanzania. We also give thanks to God for the dedicated leadership of our outgoing chairman, the Most Rev’d Peter J. Akinola, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).
11. Finally, we acknowledge with grateful thanksgiving the hospitality of the Most Rev’d Ian Ernest and the opportunity to pay courtesy calls on the President of the Republic of Mauritius, Sir Aneerood Jugnauth, and the Prime Minister, the Honourable Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam.
To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Reports & Communiques -- Statements & Letters: Primates Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting Global South Churches & Primates * International News & Commentary Africa
Read it all.
Leaving aside the areas where the bishops are silent (e.g., recourse to law in property disputes and the importance of affirming "the Windsor Report as the standard of teaching commanding respect across the Communion (most recently expressed in Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference)"), the response, though showing some signs of progress, in our view falls short of what the Primates were seeking and for which many have hoped and prayed in recent months. It would appear that this most recent meeting of the House of Bishops had its most serious engagement yet with the reality of TEC's actions on the wider Communion and the gulf both within itself and between TEC and the mind of the Communion expressed through its Instruments. The bishops clearly made a valiant effort to find a form of words that would be acceptable to the overwhelming majority of its own members and also to the wider Communion. We commend the efforts of those at New Orleans to stop the drift of TEC away from the larger communion.
However, the flaws in its final response signal that when faced with a clear choice, the local audience was ultimately still more determinative than the global one and the demands of being an American denomination triumphed over the disciplines of belonging to the Church Catholic. Either a majority of bishops did not wish to do as they were clearly requested to by the Communion in order to repair the tear in the fabric of the Communion (the Windsor Bishops presented motions that would have enabled this) or, if they did, they did not wish to do so in a manner that would lead to dissent from those many bishops, clergy and laity in TEC who are conscientiously convinced that the demands of the gospel prevent acceptance of any moratorium on same-sex blessings or the ordination and consecration of those in such unions.
Read it all.
(Church of Uganda News)
The Episcopal Church USA (TEC) has clarified its commitment to continue on their path to abandon the Biblical and historic faith of Anglicanism. They, in fact, have decided to walk apart, and we are distressed that they are trying to take the rest of the Anglican Communion with them.
We cannot take seriously a statement from TEC that merely pledges “as a body” to not do something. TEC betrayed the Anglican Communion when it elected and confirmed as bishop a divorced man living in a same-sex relationship. We were further betrayed when its Presiding Bishop agreed to the Communiqué from the 2003 emergency Primates’ Meeting that he deeply regretted the “actions of the…Episcopal Church (USA),” and immediately proceeded to assert at a press conference that he would preside at that consecration. He then explained that the Primates believed their statement “as a body,” but individual primates were free to disagree.
Now, TEC has told us that they pledge “as a body” not to “authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.” We have every reason to believe that individual bishops will feel free to disagree and continue to permit blessings of same-sex unions in their dioceses, rationalizing it as part of the breadth of their pastoral response, and all the while denying their complicity. This is unacceptable.
TEC has lost the right to give assurances of their direction as a church through more words and statements. They write one thing and do another. We, therefore, cannot know what they mean by their words until we see their meaning demonstrated by their actions.
--The Most Rev. Henry Orombi
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Primates Anglican Provinces Church of Uganda Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting
The House of Bishops expressed their rejection of the interventions by Primates from other Provinces. However they did not accept the Primates recommendation of a Pastoral Scheme. Instead they came up with an internal plan for ”Episcopal visitors” which is unlikely to solve deep disputes between Dioceses and parishes and TEC. Of course it is impossible to imagine that TEC could both be a party in the dispute as well as a judge of it.
In conclusion, I believe that TEC did not and will not change its position in regard to the issues that tear apart the fabric of the Communion. They tried to use very ambiguous language to show that they responded positively to the Windsor Report and well as the Primates recommendation. However, I see that they are determined to go their own way. I am afraid that TEC’s position may lead to more intervention and further fragmentation within the Communion. They describe their position as a new Reformation, but they forgot that the reformation led to a split!
At a time like this we need clarity and firmness to resolve this crisis. Without this the Communion will fragment because every church will take the actions she likes. I do pray for Archbishop Rowan Williams at this time, so that the Lord may give him wisdom and the love in this difficult time.
Read it all.
“The report is severely compromised and further tears the existing tear in the fabric of our beloved Anglican Communion,” Archbishop Orombi wrote. “It is gravely lamentable that our Instruments of Communion have missed the opportunity in this moment to begin the healing that is so necessary for our future.”
Archbishop Orombi said the primates never asked the House of Bishops to make new policy for The Episcopal Church. Given that General Convention would not meet again for three years, he said the primates wanted the Episcopal bishops to clarify parts of two General Convention resolutions which the primates believed could be interpreted several different ways.
“TEC has lost the right to give assurances of their direction as a church through more words and statements,” Archbishop Orombi said. “They write one thing and do another. We therefore cannot know what they mean by their words until we see their meaning demonstrated by their actions.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Primates Anglican Provinces Church of Uganda Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting
Why I Voted No
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.
(Robert Frost, “Mending Wall”)
He is our peace, making both groups into one and
destroying the barrier formed by the dividing wall,
the hostility between us. (Ephesians 2:14)
You may have read that in New Orleans on September 25 there was one vote opposed to the adoption of “A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners,” the House of Bishops’ reply to the demands made of the Episcopal Church by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in their February 19 communiqué from Dar es Salaam. That vote was mine. Let me explain.
Like others, I am deeply concerned about, and committed to, the unity of the Anglican Communion and, beyond it, that of the church catholic and ecumenical; the Body of Christ.
But the unity of the Anglican Communion is not based on the uniformity of its thirty-eight provinces, each of which brings to the whole the unique gift of who it is under the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We, the Episcopal Church, are not today what we used to be, nor are we what we may be tomorrow.
Today, however, we are a church that endeavors to honor each individual for who she or he is, recognizing that, among other gifts, some are by nature gay or lesbian in their sexual orientation and, furthermore, should be as free as straight persons to make, with the church’s blessing, a life-long commitment of their lives to another.
In this belief, at the 2006 General Convention, I was one of sixteen bishops who voted against Resolution B033 calling upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees “to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”
Howsoever diffuse a connotation may have attended the language of “restraint” then, its meaning was tightened on September 25 when the House of Bishops concurred “with Resolution EC011 of the Executive Council, commending the Report of the Communion Sub-Group of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion as an accurate evaluation of Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention.”
The Sub-Group had noted that “by requiring that the restraint must be expressed in a particular way – ‘by not consenting …’, the resolution is calling for a precise response, which complies with the force of the recommendation of the Windsor Report” – the finding of the Lambeth Commission on Communion published October 18, 2004, in response to problems stemming from the reaction of conservatives to the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire. The group also noted “that while the Windsor Report restricted its recommendation to candidates for the episcopate who were living in a same gender union, the resolution at General Convention widened this stricture to apply to a range of lifestyles which present a wider challenge. The group welcomed this widening of the principle, which was also recommended by the Windsor Report, and commends it to the Communion.”
When, on September 25, the House of Bishops adopted this interpretation of B033 and affirmed that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains, knowing that resolutions are recommendatory, not canonically mandatory, and that therefore compliance is voluntary, I honestly could not promise I would not consent to the election of a gay or lesbian priest to the episcopate.
--(The Rt. Rev.) Charles Bennison is Bishop of Pennsylvania
The House of Bishops went on to “pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. In the near future we hope to be able to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide listening process. In the meantime, it is important to note that no rite of blessing for persons living in same-sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. In addition to not having authorized liturgies, the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions.”
I am not party to that majority. Consequently, again because resolutions are recommendatory, not mandatory, and because I could not presume that our clergy would cease from asking me for allowances to bless the union of gay or lesbian couples, I did not feel that in honesty I could voluntarily promise I would deny (though I have on occasion) such requests. Usually, indeed, I have granted permission if the vestry supports the priest in what is proposed, the priest agrees to make the marriage public in the parish, the priest has carried out the usual marriage counseling, and if, in my judgment, the union will prove to be a blessing to the church and the wider community as it usually has long already been.
Because the Book of Common Prayer includes a rubric stating that “for special days of fasting or thanksgiving, appointed by civil of Church authority, and for other special occasions for which no service or prayer has been provided in this Book, the bishop may set forth such forms as are fitting to the occasion,” I provide our clergy with “A Rite of Commitment to a Life Together,” of which I was a co-author in 1996, and ask that they use it for the service.
Despite the bishops stated effort on September 25 to be “clear and outspoken in our shared commitment to establish and protect the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons, and to name and oppose at every turn any action or policy that does violence to them, encourages violence toward them, or violates their dignity as children of God,” and their articulated support of “the Archbishop of Canterbury in his expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference” (although, unlike the rest of us, he has not yet been invited), their mutual agreement to cease from consenting to the election of non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy to the episcopate and from allowing same-sex unions buttresses our society’s homophobia and heterosexism, and effects the very violence they sincerely deplore.
The “Response” equally encourages sexist violence against women by providing an alternative for bishops who refuse to welcome our duly-elected Presiding Bishop into their dioceses. While the Presiding Bishop was magnificent in her leadership of the New Orleans meeting, as she has been through her ministry as our primate this past year, I could not support her plan for episcopal visitors for dioceses that request alternative oversight, commended by the House of Bishops’ “Response,” any more than I could vote for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) several years ago as affirmed by the Windsor Report, which with the episcopal visitors’ plan is seen as being consistent.
The most theologically misconstrued and ultimately un-pastoral part of the “Response,” however, comes when, after rightly saying they “deplore incursions into our jurisdictions by uninvited bishops and call for them to end,” the bishops turn around and express their expectation that “the Presiding Bishop will continue conversation with those dioceses that may feel the need for” episcopal ministries other than those of their own bishops, and that she will seek “communion-wide consultation with respect to the pastoral needs of those seeking alternative oversight.” Such actions would, if they occurred, smack of incursions – simply more softly and subtly made.
Before any of the four gospels was written, the Apostle Paul gave definition to “the gospel” of Christian theology over against the influential challenge of Gnostic thought.
Had Gnosticism won, the church would have become a club characterized by like-minded people. In the unlikely event such a church would have had bishops, their dioceses would have been made up of people who agreed with them – about the role of women, the place of gay and lesbian persons, or any passing issue of the day. Their churches would have been homogeneous communities walled off from one another.
But just as the poet knew that “something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” Paul understood that in Jesus every “barrier formed by the dividing wall” has been broken down. As it happened, Pauline thought prevailed, making possible a church that would be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic – a heterogeneous church made up of “all sorts and conditions,” a corpus mixtum united not by uniformity of thought or action or feeling, but ultimately and only by the love we know in Christ.
Afraid we may be walled off from the Anglican Communion, and the Communion from us, in New Orleans my beloved episcopal colleagues did not, as some have commented, simply describe where we are now as a church. They built higher and thicker walls. They diminished the rich meaning of the Anglican Communion. They undermined the catholicity of the church.
I voted no because I believe we Episcopalians should be who we are, howsoever unique we may be, and offer ourselves freely as our gift to the Communion. If the Communion cannot accept us as we are at present, we can still humbly offer other gifts others may receive – our companion relationships, our hands-on labor, our financial support, our seminary training, and our daily prayers. Such strikes me as the kenotic approach of self-oblation, self-emptying, to which the gospel calls us.
Sometimes what you don’t say speaks more tellingly than what you do. One famous case is that of the dog that didn’t bark in the Sherlock Holmes story “Silver Blaze.” The dog did not bark because the crime was an inside job and the malefactor was known to him. Some such case applies to the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in their latest Statement from New Orleans.
I will not rehearse the details of that Statement, as everyone under the sun has already done so. What I want to do is to pose three questions which the bishops chose not to address but for which I think there are obvious unspoken answers.
Read it all.
It was hardly a surprise but a cause for sorrow nonetheless: the House of Bishops, meeting in New Orleans, made a response to the requests of the Primates at Dar Es Salaam that offered little to repair the “tear in the fabric of the communion” caused by the consecration of Gene Robinson. They did pledge compliance in the election of bishops (no more Gene Robinsons) – but then demanded that Gene Robinson be invited to Lambeth Conference in 2008. Their convoluted pledge not to authorize same-sex blessings is surely designed to permit local option (as is already happening). They demanded that the Global South Primates stop their pastoral interventions, but they had nothing serious to offer the conservative dissenters the Primates are trying to care for: the Pastoral Council proposed by the Primates was refused in favour of window-dressing; and the destructive policy of aggressive litigation against conservative dissent was not even addressed, let alone restrained.
Some will adjudge the result the best that could be hoped for under the circumstances. Others will even eagerly claim to find it satisfactory. But who really believes that is true? These are grudging assurances in words that inspire no trust, weasel words with built-in wiggle-room, a tactical maneuver, not a change of heart. The House has not renounced the imagined right of the Episcopal Church to do as it pleases, unconstrained by the teaching of the Bible, the historic Faith, or the Communion’s “bonds of affection”. They have not healed the breach their arrogance opened up, and that means it will only get worse.
The breach has now come to Savannah, in the decision by the Vestry of Christ Church to secure its future in the Faith, in the Anglican Communion, by placing the parish under the pastoral care of John Guernsey, a Virginia priest recently made bishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda in North America. This decision, made in conscience, cannot have been easy to make, and it deserves respect even from those who disagree with it. St. John’s Vestry has made no such decision, but I can testify to our respect for theirs; and also our continuing fellowship with them in the historic faith, and in “the bonds of affection”.
In response Bishop Louttit has asserted the Episcopal Church’s claim to Christ Church’s real property, on the grounds that parishes are “integral and constituent parts of a diocese and of the larger church.” But the obligations of “constituent” membership in the “larger church” run both ways. The constitutional obligations of the Episcopal Church - to uphold the Bible’s teaching, the Church’s historic Faith and Order, and membership in the Communion – are the covenantal basis of its canonical claims to parochial real property. If it cannot fulfil the former, then the moral basis for the latter disappears.
--The Rev. Gavin Dunbar is rector, Saint John's, Savannah
The questions about who signed and who didn’t sign are all very interesting, as well as the discussions about conflict of interest, ... [edited]
Regardless, the crucial issue here is that the JSC Report is a rather bald-faced lie. The requirements of Dar Es Salaam were quite clear, specifically:
That the HOB make itself clear that GC2006 meant that no bishop living in a same-sex relationship would be approved (not “exercise restraint").
That the HOB make itself clear no same-sex blessings would take place, whether public or private.
That the Primatial Vicar scheme would be implemented--not another DEPO.
That lawsuits would cease.
Unless and until all these requirements were meant, border crossings would continue, with the approval of the Primates who agreed to DES.
The reappraisers understood this. I would ask the reappraisers to jog their memories to recall some of the rather vigorous opposition they offered to the DES Communique when it first come out.
None (I repeat, None) of the above requirements were met at NO. And everyone knows this. Why then, the reappraisers are so happy about the JSC Report is baffling to me. Either, the reappraisers are thrilled that the HOB was given a pass on a blatant deception. Or, the HOB was not being deceptive, in which case the reappraisers are thrilled because the JSC is lying when it says that the HOB said something they did not say.
Or the reappraisers are thrilled because they are being portrayed as illiterates. All your vigorous opposition to DES back in February was based on a misreading? DES really didn’t ask for the things that you all were so upset about? And your rejoicing at KJS’s claims that she didn’t actually sign anything were misplaced?
Of course, the other possibility is that the JSC is just as blatantly dishonest as the HOB statement coming out of NO. And the reappraisers are thrilled either because they approve of the deception, or they are thrilled because all that matters is a Lambeth invite, and if deception is the necessary price for a ticket to Lambeth, it is an expensive price, but one worth paying.
And the sad thing is that the latter is the most plausible likelihood.
The Anglican Communion Office has issued a report, purportedly from the Joint Standing Committee of Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council essentially affirming the US House of Bishops statement of last week. In an astonishing piece of manipulation the one conservative (Mouneer Anis) who had attended the meeting in New Orleans was squeezed out of the drafting process whereas the US Presiding Bishop was included. The ACO is heavily funded by the US Episcopal Church and has for a long time been considered to be manipulating agendas and events in order to promote the revisionist cause. This latest move adds weight to the concerns and destroys any credibility the report might have had.
The report has been posted on the ACO website should anyone think it worth reading. As we predicted beforehand it is taking the view that the US Bishops did just enough (which they didn't) in order to satisfy the requirements made of them. Clearly it had already been agreed what the report would say and how the US Bishops would have to phrase their response in order to match it.
In its report, however, the Anglican panel said the bishops' pledges had "clarified all outstanding questions" and given the needed assurances.
At the same time, the panel urged the Episcopal Church to do more to provide pastoral care and oversight to disaffected conservatives within its ranks. At least four dioceses, including Fresno-based San Joaquin, are taking steps to break with the national church and align with conservative Anglican bishops abroad. More than 50 Episcopal parishes, including several in Southern California, have done the same.
Unless adequate reassurances can be given to dissident congregations and dioceses, "there will be no reconciliation either within the Episcopal Church or within the wider Anglican Communion," the report said.
But the panel also appeared to rebuke several Anglican primates who had established networks of breakaway Episcopal parishes in the United States, calling for an end to such practices. "We believe that the time is right for a determined effort to bring interventions to an end," the report stated.
The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, said in a statement Wednesday that she was pleased with the committee's finding that the church had fulfilled the primates' requests.
Read it all.
Response to the Report of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Primates On The Reply of the American House of Bishops
The JSC has determined that the American HOB has responded adequately to requests from the Anglican Primates for clarification of their response to the Windsor Report both in terms of the approval of additional bishops in committed same-sex relationships and the approval of same-sex blessings.
The JSC concludes that a majority of bishops have committed themselves to withhold consents to election of candidates for bishop in same sex relationships. This is I believe actually the case. The meeting in New Orleans did express a consensus that consents would be withheld at least until after the next General Convention. I suspect that if there is a Lambeth Conference in the offing the HOB will in all likelihood refrain from giving the necessary consents until after Lambeth.
The JSC has accepted the declaration of the HOB that TEC has not authorized public rites for same-sex blessing though reserving the right for private pastoral response. The JSC makes clear that “we believe that the celebration of a public liturgy which includes a blessing on a same-sex union is not within the breadth of the private personal response envisaged by the Primates in their Pastoral Letter of 2003, and that the undertaking made by the bishops in New Orleans is understood to mean that the use of any such rites or liturgies will not in future have the bishop’s authority, ‘until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action.’”
At this point the statement becomes really an exercise in subterfuge....
The JSC accepts the undertaking made by the HOB in terms that the HOB never set and which are contradicted by numerous facts on the ground and the explicit statements of many bishops. By saying that such blessings when they take place are “without the bishop’s authority” the JSC is replaying on the communion wide stage the comical picture of LA bishop Bruno denying that the same-sex blessing described in the New York Times announcement page was going forward with his knowledge or authority. This is an attempt to finesse an issue that even the secular press will find duplicitous. It is inconceivable the HOB would discipline any of its members for allowing public same-sex blessings. A real undertaking not to authorize would mean to discipline those who take unauthorized action. This seems an attempt to generate a legal fiction for the purpose of giving TEC a pass by virtue of living into a legal fiction that it did not in its deliberations agree to. Meanwhile the spirit of Windsor cooperation which is what is really needed has been simply repudiated. The JSC is trying to give the HOB a way of playing the character Sargent Schultz from the sitcom Hogan’s Heroes. Schultz the German guard turned a blind eye to the shenanigans of the prisoners and when asked by his superiors about transgressions said famously, “I know nothing, I know nothing.” By its finesse and fine parsing of language the JSC is helpfully feeding the HOB this line. They are saying in effect, “we are going to say we take it in this way, you don’t protest and you will be able to say, ‘we know nothing.’”
The JSC also takes up the issues of alternate Primatial Oversight. It encourages the Presiding Bishop to consult further with dissenting groups but “we believe the Presiding Bishop has opened a way forward. There is within this proposal (the plan announced at NOL) the potential for the development of a scheme which, with good will on the part of all parties could meet their needs.” So they ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to use his office to bring together the leaders of TEC and the dissenting dioceses for further negotiation but put their prestige behind what the PB has put on the table. They suggest that possibly the Panel of Reference might be resurrected.
They encourage the ABC to use his office to discourage law suits on all sides. This is the single positive contribution in the report.
The JSC scold those primates who have offered emergency pastoral care to American parishes for not abiding by the Windsor Report and call for a determined effort to bring interventions to an end. They ask the ABC to convene talks between the intervening bishops and the TEC bishops of the diocese in which the interventions occur.
The JSC commends the listening process called for by Lambeth.
The JSC suggests that the there is an emerging consensus in the communion “which says that while it is inappropriate to proceed to public Rites of Blessing of same-sex unions and to the consecration of bishops who are living in sexual relationships outside of Christian marriage, we need to take seriously our ministry to gay and lesbian people inside the Church and the ending of discrimination, persecution and violence against them. Here The Episcopal Church and the Instruments of Communion speak with one voice.”
The essence of the JSC report is to try to sell on a Communion wide basis the American HOB fiction that because no new liturgies have been authorized and no new elections consented to the American Church is Windsor compliant.
There is a willful distortion of reality in this report that raises the most serious questions about whether the Primates can themselves be an instrument of unity and exercise meaningful authority in the communion. This report will not help the communion stay together. It is in every way a clever and artful (in the sinister sense of that word) document designed to deceive and cry peace where there is no peace. It can only seem odious to plain speaking people looking for plain talk about the really somber prospect of the break up of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. The ABC and the Primates have been badly let down by this report. I look with anticipation for a minority report from Bishop Mouneer Anis.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Primates Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007 Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts
The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, said she was gratified by the panel’s conclusions. “The Joint Standing Committee report has recognized the hard work of the House of Bishops,” Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori said in a statement, “and that our responses reflect our repeatedly expressed desire to remain in full communion with the rest of the Anglican Communion.”
But a conservative member of the committee immediately took issue with the report, saying his input was not included.
“The response of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church represents a superficial shift from their previous position,” the committee member, the Most Rev. Mouneer Hanna Anis, primate of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, wrote in an e-mail statement. “Therefore I strongly disagree with the report.”
Committee members traveled to New Orleans with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the communion’s spiritual leader, to talk to the Episcopal bishops about the tensions in the communion.
The Joint Committee submitted its report to Archbishop Williams, and he has sent it to all the primates and members of the Anglican Consultative Council, a representative body of bishops, priests and lay people. They are to respond to the archbishop by the end of the month.
“This is one voice, and other voices need to come in and say whether the Episcopal Church has indeed satisfied” the primates’ demands,” said Canon James M. Rosenthal, spokesman for the Anglican Communion Office.
Read it all.
Look at the contributors and see if you notice a pattern
The present text was developed from the remarks of JSC members in New Orleans and in consultation with them.
In electronic correspondence, the following members of the Joint Standing Committee have signified their assent to this text:
♦ Phillip Aspinall, Primate of Australia, Primates’ Standing Committee
♦ Barry Morgan, Primate of Wales, Primates’ Standing Committee
♦ Katharine Jefferts Schori, Primate of The Episcopal Church, Primates’ Standing Committee
♦ John Paterson, Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council and of the ACC Standing Committee
♦ George Koshy, Vice-Chair, ACC and Standing Committee
♦ Robert Fordham, ACC Standing Committee
♦ Kumara Illangasinghe, ACC Standing Committee
♦ James Tengatenga, ACC Standing Committee
♦ Nomfundo Walaza, ACC Standing Committee
Responses have not yet been received from:
♦ Mouneer Anis, Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Primates’ Standing Committee
♦ Philippa Amable, ACC Standing Committee
♦ Jolly Babirukamu, ACC Standing Committee
♦ Elizabeth Paver, ACC Standing Committee
Update: Mouneer Anis is 'incredibly disappointed and grieved':
His response, which reached The Times a couple of hours after the JSC report was published, indicates perhaps that hopes of reconciliation remain as distant as ever, as the JSC itself appears from this document to fear they might. Archbishop Anis said this evening: 'It is very unfortunate that not all the members of the Joint Standing Committee were present when a response to the HOB of TEC was drafted. The lack of discussion and interaction will not produce a report that expresses the view of the whole committee.' He said the TEC response merely represented a 'superficial shift' from their previous position and refuted the JSC's claim that there had been a change in position since 2003.
'Therefore I strongly disagree with the report of the JSC which states that "We believe that the Episcopal Church has clarified all outstanding questions relating to their response to the questions directed explicitly to them, and on which clarifications were sought by the 30th of September, and given the necessary assurance sought of them." The reasons for my disagreement are as follows:
'On Public Rites for Blessing of Same-sex Unions
'The statement of the House of Bishops in New Orleans did not meet the request of Windsor Report that the "Bishops must declare a moratorium on all such public rites". It also failed to meet the request of the Primates at Dar El Salam that the Bishops should "make an unequivocal common covenant that the Bishops will not authorize any rites of blessing for same-sex unions in their Diocese."
'They did not declare a moratorium on authorization public rites of the blessing of same-sex unions. Instead the House of Bishops pledged not to authorize any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions. I understand moratorium as "cessation of activity". In the explanatory discussion they mentioned that "the majority", not all, of Bishops do not make allowances for the blessings of same-sex unions. This means that a number of Bishops will continue to make allowances for the blessing of same-sex unions. I see this as an equivocal and unclear response.
'While the House of Bishop's response means that 'authorization' of the rites will not take place, but it also stated that some will continue to ''explore and experience liturgies celebrating the blessing of same-sex unions''. The exploration of liturgies celebrating the blessing of same-sex unions, keeps a window to continue such blessings under another title !! This unashamedly disregards the standard teaching of the Anglican Communion which is still torn over this issue.
Read it all.
Update: Here is perhaps a better link for +Mouneer Anis' commentary on the JSC report.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary - Anglican: Primary Source -- Reports & Communiques Anglican Primates Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007 Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Reports & Communiques Anglican Primates Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007 Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)
By George Conger
Reactions to the US House of Bishops New Orleans statement amongst the Primates have broken along factional lines, with conservatives denouncing the statement as insubstantial and dishonest, while liberals have praised its candor and modesty.
The divergent views of the adequacy of the US response to the Primates request for clarification of American church practices towards gay bishops and blessings further complicates the Archbishop of Canterbury’s hopes of forestalling a schism within the Communion.
Straightened finances and fears of a boycott by the primates of Wales, Ireland and Scotland to an emergency primates’ meeting to discuss the American response to the primates’ Dar es Salaam communique, has led to Dr. Williams telephoning the Communion’s primates to try to find a common mind. Whether the primates’ round robin will produce an amicable resolution appears to be further hampered by the different world views of the players in Anglicanism’s great game. Aides to the Archbishop told The Church of England Newspaper during his meeting with the American bishops in New Orleans that Dr. Williams hoped to find the right combination of words that would satisfy the church’s disparate factions.
However, leaders of the Global South coalition have demanded not words, but action from the American church, and have little trust in the veracity of American promises of good behavior. Leaders of the liberal wing of the US Church and across the Communion are also divided, with some arguing that truth must not be subordinated to expediency while others hope their place within the councils of the church can be saved through the artful use of semantics.
The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Alan Harper of Armagh lauded the American response, saying the American “Bishops have gone a considerable way to meeting the reasonable demands of their critics.”
Archbishop Harper noted the “generous agreement” of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori “to put in place a plan to appoint Episcopal visitors for dioceses that request alternative oversight” and stated that while the bishops had declined “participation in the ‘Pastoral Scheme’ offered by the Primates,” they had “at least” recognized the “useful role” of the Communion in these debates. Dr. Harper stated this seemed to be a “balanced and relatively generous response in a very delicate area of inter-provincial relationships.”
Bishop David Beetge of the Highveld, the acting primate and vicar general of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, said he welcomed the decision “for the simple reason it gives us more space and time to talk to each other.”
The Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Brisbane said he believed the US had “responded positively to all the requests put to them by the Primates in our Dar es Salaam communiqué.”However, he went on to damn the American Church with faint praise saying “Certainly they have responded to the substance of those requests.”
However the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen was not as sanguine. “At first reading, the statement from the TEC bishops does not seem to say anything new,” he noted. “The situation may not then be changed in any way.”
The African churches were stronger in their condemnation. “What we expected to come from them is to repent. That this is a sin in the eyes of the Lord and repentance is what me, in particular, and others expected to hear coming from this church,” Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said.
The Assistant Bishop of Kampala, David Zac Niringiye told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme Uganda believed the statement was inadequate as it was “not a change of heart”, but a temporizing solution.The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola stated the US response fell short of what was required. The primates had given the US “one final opportunity for an unequivocal assurance” that it would conform to the “to the mind and teaching of the Communion.” He said the primates were unwilling to accept further “ambiguous and misleading statements” from the US Church. “Sadly it seems that our hopes were not well founded and our pleas have once again been ignored.”
Meanwhile the Anglican Mainstream group said they were disappointed with the response because it failed to address the specific questions asked of it by the Primates’ Meeting in February, and backed the Common Cause College of Bishops. In a statement they said: “The first two points — on the election of non-celibate gay and lesbian bishops, and on public rites for blessing same-sex unions — suggest that the TEC House of Bishops has agreed not to walk further away from the rest of the Anglican Communion for the moment. “However, the TEC House of Bishops gives no indication of being prepared to turn and walk back towards us so that we may walk ahead together, and in reality same-sex blessings are continuing. “Moreover, there is no response to the Primates’ request to suspend all legal action.”
The Church Society also rejected the House of Bishops statement saying it demonstrates TEC has ‘abandoned orthodox Christianity’.
--This article appears in the October 5, 2007 Church of England Newspaper, page 3, under a different headline
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007 Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts
Friday, September 28, 2007
Bishops didn’t reject Anglicans’ request
I am writing to call attention to the inaccuracy and distortion of the article “Episcopal bishops reject Anglican demands” (The News, Wednesday) from the New York Times News Service about the meeting of the Episcopal House of Bishops. The bishops did not reject the requests of our Anglican partners. We responded with great care, and the truth is, our response takes significant positive steps for the sake of our interdependence and unity in the Anglican Communion.
The article only quoted people who have a divisive agenda and whose assessment of the House of Bishops meeting is intentionally misleading. No one from The News attempted to call me or my office to ask for our view of the bishops’ work before publishing this front-page article. Not a single bishop present at the meeting is quoted. This is disappointing and biased journalism. It is harmful to the church and to the commonwealth.
The meeting of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church included a spirit of compromise and sacrifice for the good of the Anglican Communion, as well as an affirmation of our church’s commitment under God to love and respect the dignity of every human being. I hope our Anglican friends, and maybe even The News, will recognize this in the months to come.
Henry N. Parsley
Episcopal Bishop of Alabama
October 2, 2007
Bishop's letter itself inaccurate:
Bishop Henry N. Parsley's letter ("Bishops didn't reject Anglicans' request," The News, Sept. 28) alleging inaccuracy in The New York Times story is itself inaccurate.
The Anglican primates addressed three major concerns to the leadership of the Episcopal Church. On the first, the bishops said yes, sort of, but on their terms. In doing so, they continued to use expansive language (referring to bishops "whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church"), which was not the language they were asked to use ("any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same-gender union").
The Episcopal bishops in New Orleans then said no to requests two and three, and they also did and said nothing about the lawsuits they were asked to stop. Going even further, however, they then insisted on two things they said were necessary of the rest of the Anglican Communion, which they have so badly damaged.
This was a last-ditch effort to seek to enable healing in a very deep wound. Tragically, the bishops have done nowhere near enough given what was asked and what the stakes were.
The Episcopal lobbying group Integrity, which is seeking to overturn the Episcopal Church's teaching and practice in the area of legitimizing same-sex practice, titled its response to the New Orleans meeting: "Integrity applauds bishops' strong stand against primates." Is it not possible it and The New York Times see truth Parsley does not?
The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall Harmon
of South Carolina
These are the letters as they appeared. My submitted letter had one additional sentence in end of the first paragraph: "The expansive language the bishops chose to maintain was used by some Episcopal leaders recently to vote against South Carolina’s choice for Bishop, Mark Lawrence, a person who upholds the very theological position the Primates were trying to protect."
As an interested and concerned observer of the Anglican Communion's recent goings on, the end result of the recent meeting of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in New Orleans crystallized an opinion I've held for quite some time. Regardless of the outcome, schism or no, the conservative, continuing, diehard (pick one) Anglicans (Episcopalians) at the heart of this battle have pretty much themselves to blame. They fought a mighty battle, yes, but for the most part they fought it with their foot in their mouth, one arm tied behind their back and their ears definitely nowhere near the ground.
Since Lambeth in 1998, but more so since 2003 when the world learned that Gene Robinson makes Mrs. Robinson look like a 19th century school marm, I have waited for the other shoe to drop. Well, the thud heard 'round Bourbon Street last week left nothing to the imagination. Ironically, too, this pronouncement came from New Orleans, where, how shall I say, sin is not difficult to find and is also extremely easy to overlook.
My viewpoint in this debate is from the pew, not the pulpit. I have waited patiently the past few years for my marching orders. I knew without being told that the cause was just. I gladly enlisted. Then I waited for word as to where I was going and how I was going to get there. I stood silently by, as good soldiers do, while my colonels and majors got organized. What happened, sad to say, was the generals never showed up.
I heard many voices, for sure; from places like Plano and Dar es Salaam and San Joaquin. Groups were formed and alliances were melded. But no single leader emerged. Not to overdo the military analogy but it's akin to the captain who chastised the private for saluting him on the battlefield. Even though he's in charge he doesn't want to become THE target. As a result, those of us in the ranks has been left standing on the platform, waiting for a troop train that will never come.
Still I waited. Like my ancestors listening to the static-filled airwaves at the height of World War II, many of us huddled in our living rooms, talking to no one but each other. We gathered each Sunday morning for news. But more often than not the pulpit was silent. If, by chance, something was said it was along the lines of "stay the course."
Occasionally, an out-of-town expert would arise during the Sunday school hour and mumble about this or that. At dinner that same afternoon, I would not be able to intelligently discuss a single thing he or she said. And, of course, the Bishop would drop by once a year. I strained to listen but Bishopspeak is a difficult language for anyone to understand. What is happening to my church, I wanted to know? Is the truth still the truth. Will our biblical standards be upheld? Speaking only for myself, all I ever got back was some vague, obscure and, at times, downright upside down thinking.
Historically, wars are won in the trenches. On the front lines. One foothold at a time. Shoulder to shoulder, with steady hands and thumping hearts. Wars are not won back at headquarters. Battles are planned there, of course, and charts are drawn, But without the foot soldier, in this case the men and the women in the pews, nothing ventured is nothing gained.
The current leaders of The Episcopal Church think, and some have even been heard to say, that those who are unhappy with the current direction of the church are but a fraction of the whole; a scruffy rabble eager for a fight.
They think that because they haven't been allowed to hear from me, and many more like me. The affected bishops and clergy (our colonels and majors), the ones who attend meetings and draw battle plans, have, for all intents and purposes, excluded us; allowing us no forum other than a vitriolic blog response or an occasional letter like this.
Following a recent pity party, a friend reminded me that The Episcopal Church is based on the European model of doing things. Top down, not bottom up. Indeed the definition of Episcopal means just that. But at such a critical time as this to exclude and, it pains me to say, ignore the voices from the pews is a marketing plan destined for failure.
This past Sunday, the Sunday following the New Orleans meeting, my parish pulpit was once again without voice. To a great many parishioners, to endure this kind of silence is most hurtful.
Esoteric thinking has its place. But when it comes time to pay the church electric bill or put the money in the bank to pay for staff salaries, it's the folks who sign the pledge cards year in and year out who are counted on the most. The same should apply when the very future of our church home is at stake.
The old saying, "the devil is in the details," has never been more obvious nor has it ever seemed more ominous.
--Mr David Peek is an Episcopal layman and lives in Sumter, South Carolina
Many are of course asking: Does the House of Bishops’ statement honor the primates’ specific requests? That isn’t completely clear. Cyberspace is already ablaze with radically different analyses of what the bishops said. My own assessment is that the House’s answer to the first question is a fairly unambiguous Yes, the answer to the second somewhat less so (particularly with the proviso concerning General Convention, and in the implication that some bishops do in fact authorize liturgies for same-sex unions). As a matter of full disclosure, I should say that I argued on the floor of the House for the removal of the implicit recognition (which, I fear, could be taken for approval) that some bishops authorize liturgies; but the consensus of the House moved in a different direction. Although I was not able to speak directly to the phrase “or until General Convention takes further action,” I would have preferred that those words had been removed as well: the matter of liturgies for the blessing of same-sex unions is one that should involve the whole Communion, and not just our own province.
In the end, however, I voted in favor of the bishops’ statement. It is not perfect; it could have been stronger and clearer, especially regarding the primates’ second request; yet it does, I think, move the church in a Communion-affirming direction, and demonstrate a willingness to discover more profoundly what it means to be interdependent members of a worldwide Christian family, linked together by our communion with the historic See of Canterbury. My colleagues across the theological spectrum showed remarkable charity toward one another as we crafted the statement phrase by phrase. The process was long, exhausting, and at times excruciating. While none of us can say that the statement contains everything that we would have wanted, I believe that it reflects many of my concerns, and I am able to support it with a good conscience and an open heart.
Read it all.
Dear Friends in Christ:
I returned home last night from the week-long House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans . I have much to say about that meeting, including a description of the inspiring Katrina recovery work our church is engaged in there, and further thanks to you for your contributions to it. But space (and time) only permit me to say so much in this particular medium. So, please consider this Part I of my report. (Part II will come next week.)
First of all, I want to say how grateful I am for your prayers. I was pleased, along with all the bishops, to receive a beautiful “Prayer Shawl” made for us as a pledge of prayerful support by National Episcopal Health Ministries. It was a wonderful gift, and it reminded me not just of their prayers, but of yours. I know that many of you were praying for us. I certainly felt it. I am grateful.
If you have not yet read the HOB statement entitled “A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners,” I hope that you will do so. I also ask that copies be made available in all our congregations. The text of the statement can be found on the Episcopal News Service website: http://episcopalchurch.org/79901_90457_ENG_HTM.htm
It must be said: watch out for the media reports on this matter. Even a very able reporter for our own Episcopal News Service attributed words to me which I did not speak. (I addressed the House about the problem of incursions into our dioceses from extra-provincial bishops, and my comments were largely incorporated into the final version of the Response; the subsequent article quoted me speaking on General Convention Resolution B033, about which I said not a word!) It was an honest error, but it serves as a reminder to be very careful in taking in and responding to what we read—being most especially careful (as the Windsor Report reminds us to be) with on-line communications.
The passage of the Response was nearly unanimous—there was only one dissenting voice. As expected, people are interpreting that statement in various ways, largely reflecting their various interests. I spoke with one of the more conservative bishops in the airport on the way home yesterday, and I think his assessment is basically correct: “The center held. The center has grown larger and stronger.” I agree, and. as a self-described radical moderate, I find that trend to be very gratifying.
The Archbishop of Canterbury himself told us (corroborating what we heard last March) that the Primates’ Communiqué was not an ultimatum, and that September 30 was not a deadline. Several members of the Joint Standing Committee who were with us indicated their support and appreciation. (Nevertheless, “Demands Rejected” read one newspaper headline….) No matter what you may read, the HOB Response is not a defiant rejection, but a candid description of our differences, a good faith commitment to the Windsor process, and a very positive expression of desire to continue working in partnership with all members of the Anglican Communion for the sake of our common mission.
Archbishop Akinola is said to be unhappy with our Response. That is no surprise, since he has already established 4 bishops for counter-TEC work in this country. No one thought for a moment that they would stand down, even if we had given everything he says he wants from us. It is clear, then, that mere appeasement is not an option. Instead, protecting the integrity of The Episcopal Church, we are seeking to work with the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates, and the Archbishop of Canterbury to be fully active and faithful participants in the Anglican Communion. The Joint Standing Committee has already indicated preliminary appreciation of our Response. They will meet and report to the Archbishop of Canterbury, perhaps as early as today or tomorrow; soon thereafter, we should be hearing some additional word from him.
Not all members of the House were happy with all aspects of the final Response, me included. But everyone present was listened to and valued. Everyone agreed to give something for the sake of our unity. Worship was central to our work, the serious work of building true community, and of being attentive to the guidance of the Spirit. We know that we cannot have common discernment if we do not have common prayer.
I remain committed to the Windsor Process as the best way forward for us. I remain committed to the full inclusion of all baptized Christians in the full life of the Church. These things you have heard from me before. I am pleased to report that there was ample room for me at the House of Bishops table. I am also pleased to tell you that the quality of leadership I am seeing in my fellow bishops and our Presiding Bishop is inspiring. I have great confidence in The Episcopal Church, and in the Diocese of Northern California.
Grace and peace to you all.
--(The Rt. Rev.) Barry Beisner is Bishop of Northern California
Giles Fraser argues that the American Anglican bishops have sacrificed justice to expediency and unity with bigots when they agreed, at the pleading of the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, to approve no further elections of openly gay bishops and not officially to sanction the blessing of gay relationships. But things may well be worse than he thinks. They haven't really sacrificed anything except the truth about what they believe and intend.
The one thing we know about all these agreements is that they are signed with fingers crossed. The American bishops who signed a paper saying they will take account of the wishes of the rest of the Communion don't actually believe for a moment they were wrong about homosexuals, or that the wider church is right. They just believe that they have seen an opportunity to outmanoeuvre their opponents.
Read it all.
We believe that the response from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church to the three central questions asked by the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam has been ‘yes, no, and no’:
• Yes to the withholding of consent to the consecration to the episcopate of people living in same-sex unions
• No to the cessation of the practice of some bishops covertly allowing the blessings of same-sex unions, even though a public rite has not been authorised
• No to the proposed Pastoral Scheme and Pastoral Council, even though a scheme of Episcopal Visitors is still being clarified
Furthermore, we believe that there is a series of further ‘no’s to the other concerns that Primates wanted them to address, in particular a complete silence on the Covenant process.
This follows from our careful analysis of the House of Bishops statement and a detailed comparison of it with the requests made by the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
We conclude that the Archbishop of Canterbury should:
• underline the sections in his invitation to the Lambeth Conference concerning the importance of the Windsor Report and the Covenant process
• disinvite the bishops of the Episcopal Church who are not willing to work with these tools
• work forwards from here with the ‘Windsor Bishops’ of the Episcopal Church, who have done their best to hold the high middle ground, to provide acceptable pastoral oversight for conservative parishes and dioceses
• urge again the cessation of litigation on all sides
Read it all. Although this is certainly better than Graham Kings' initial response, I do not think this correctly interpets the document, I am sorry to say. Of the three major requests the bishops said, yes, sort of, but on our terms, and with the expansive language used against Mark Lawrence by some kept in, not the precise language of windsor, then they said no and on to 2 and three.
They also did and said nothing about the lawsuits
They insist on two things that they said were necessary in precise and clear terms
AND (in my mind worst of all)
They pretended the two nos were yeses, and misrepresented the degree to which their first yes was qualified.
By any fair evaluation, this is ANYTHING BUT responding fully and adequately to what was requested of them. Yes, they tried hard. Yes they worked together more than in the past. But this was a last ditch effort to seek to enable healing in a very deep wound, and, alas, it is nowhere near enough--KSH.
The leader of Episcopalians in Vermont stands by his church's progressive treament of gay and lesbian couples in Vermont, despite opposition from conservatives in his denomination and an ambiguous national policy on the blessing of same-sex unions.
Thomas C. Ely, the Episcopal bishop of Vermont, played an active role in the recent meeting of the Episcopal House of Bishops that answered a communiqué by the Anglican Communion objecting to policies regarding gays and lesbians in the American church.
"Our church, the Episcopal Church, has continually spoken out and been an advocate for the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons in our culture, and certainly here in Vermont that's key to our mission and ministry," Ely said Sunday, during an interview at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Bennington, where he took part in the Cornerstone Centennial Celebration.
The Episcopal Church in the U.S. is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a fellowship of churches that trace their roots back to the Church of England. Over the past several decades, homosexuality has become a divisive issue, particularly with the election in 2003 of...[Gene] Robinson, a gay man in a relationship, to become bishop of New Hampshire. In addition, some Episcopal dioceses — including the Diocese of Vermont — permit the blessing of same-sex couples as a pastoral decision by clergy.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
Yesterday I returned from the House of Bishops meeting. It was a week that showed us the challenges that lie ahead and the hope that we Christians hold on to tenaciously, especially as our meeting was in New Orleans, a city that still shows very clearly the scars of Hurricane Katrina.
The work that the Episcopal Church continues to do in Louisiana and Mississippi in the aftermath of the hurricane should make you proud. Other churches were present in the days immediately following the storm, but the Episcopal Church continues its hard work two years later. Our people are still building houses, counseling the broken hearted, and establishing vital services for residents whose world has been turned upside down.
On Thursday evening, we gathered for worship and to receive an offering for our ongoing work in the two states devastated by Katrina. The presiding bishop asked each diocese to bring $10,000. We in Arkansas met the challenge from our emergency fund. When gifts from across the church were gathered, the total was almost $1 million.
Saturday the bishops and spouses fanned out across the city for a work day. Some people hung drywall, some painted, and some (including your bishop) planted community gardens to bring tangible signs of life to neighborhoods that so desperately need it. I was greatly moved when I stood both in a house's front lawn and later in a church, and saw there, higher than my head, the still-remaining marks of flood waters. But the people of New Orleans are resilient. Hope is replacing despair.
I am also reminded that hope can replace despair when I reflect on the work in New Orleans of the House of Bishops as we responded to the spring primates' communiqué regarding issues surrounding human sexuality. The house listened to the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Anglican Consultative Council, and they in turn listened to our witness to the larger church of the American experience. There is a huge love for the Anglican Communion among Episcopal bishops. Together we can do much to better the world. There is a profound respect for the fact that in the Episcopal Church all orders of ministry-lay and ordained-bear witness to the truth.
Our final statement reflected both our love and our witness in many ways. We stated that we will find ways that dioceses whose people feel disaffected in the Episcopal Church can feel included in our life. The witnesses of such dioceses are important. We stated that our love for the Communion is such that we will continue the policy enacted at the most recent General Convention of urging restraint in the election of bishops whose manner of life gives cause for concern. We stated that the witness of the church must be that the dignity of gay and lesbian persons is an unequivocal commitment. We stated that we will wait to discern the will of General Convention regarding authorized rites for the blessing of same sex unions, and in the meantime we will allow for a breadth of response to situations of individual pastoral care, as the primates themselves encouraged us in 2003.
We expressed our opposition to the crossing of jurisdictional boundaries by uninvited bishops. Such behavior fosters competing prayer, rather than the common prayer that has been historically foundational to the Anglican experience.
In November at clergy conference, I will talk with the members of the clergy about the work of the House of Bishops this past week. But I share with all of you now that our work in Arkansas continues as always: to find exciting ways to tell our ancient story to the next generation of people whose lives can be changed by the gospel. If we keep our focus on that work, there is nothing we cannot do.
--(The Rt. Rev.) Larry R. Benfield is Bishop of Arkansas
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I have to agree with the Episcopal conservatives here (though of course for different reasons) who called...[the House of Bishops Statement in New Orleans] a “legal fiction.”
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Q: And how does that get resolved, given the situation or position of some in the church?
A: I think it's resolved by patience and time, that as people -- I know anecdotally of African clergy who have been guests at American churches where one of the clergy, say, in a multi-staff church was gay and had adopted children, and it was a brand new experience for the African priest to experience that reality, and so getting to know people like that on a personal level has been very helpful.
Q: There's been a lot of hoopla leading up to this meeting, saying this is a make or break time for the communion, that the ultimate relationship between the Episcopal Church and the worldwide communion could be at stake. How do you assess where the relationship is?
A: I don't see this as a deadline or breakthrough meeting. It's an important meeting, but it seems to me that the relationships that we have worldwide, with dozens, hundreds of Anglicans worldwide are going to be intact. A very important meeting prior to this one occurred in July '07 outside of Madrid, where a group of about 25 American bishops, including me, met with about 30 African bishops, and the press was not invited, and it was very clear that the great majority of them wanted to continue in relationship. The Anglican Communion is not a juridical group where there is a clear method of kicking someone out, to put it bluntly. So if we are -- if our relationship is stressed with the rest of the communion to the breaking point, the break will come from others, not from us.
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Q: Tell me about this meeting in Pittsburgh. What are you and all these groups trying to accomplish here?
A: There are 10 jurisdictions who have been working together, a growing number, we started as six in 2004, who have committed to make common cause for the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel as it has been received, and to make common cause for a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America. We are fragments, like some of us represent fragments, dioceses of the Episcopal Church that can't go down the road that the Episcopal Church is on, can't leave the faith once delivered, and other fragments [are] folks who as long as 134 years ago actually found themselves put out of the Episcopal Church because of their stand on the gospel and their belief that the Episcopal Church was shifting and wavering and moving away from its' reformation position. This meeting is a meeting in which these fragments, as bishops, and for the first time it's all the bishops of these 10 fragments from the US and Canada, they are together and we're together and what we've done is agree to the way in which we'll move forward, move forward forming a federation of the Common Cause Partners, pushing that schedule along, and before too long appealing to provinces within the communion to recognize this federation as a new ecclesiastical structure in the States, the very thing that a number of the primates just a year ago in September called for from Kigali as they looked to the problems in the US church and to the wavering and wandering of the majority.
Q: So the goal here is to create an alternative Anglican structure?
A: The goal has been to bring together all of those who stand on scripture, who stand with the tradition, who are committed to mission and who can't bring themselves to separate from what Christians have always believed. So we're working together as bishops, forming a college of bishops, again first ever meeting here, who can work together in mission. We've shared all kinds of ministry initiatives together, from ministry to youth, all kinds of exciting things with postmoderns to work with the global church in relief and development to the more ordinary matters of church planting. Indeed one of the calls of this conference was for us together to plant 1000 new churches, which would be quite something to see.
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The Presiding Bishop asked me to serve on the writing committee that drafted the response. Along with seven other bishops, much of my time was devoted to this task. Three versions were presented over the course of two days before the final version was adopted. Beyond what you can read in our final version, I’m writing today to offer some personal commentary on this response.
I want you to know that I voted to support this document, although there are certain aspects of it which trouble me. Time will tell whether our response will be a helpful contribution to the current conversation; I sincerely hope that it will.
Arguably, the two most sensitive matters before us were consents to episcopal elections (Resolution B033 of the General Convention) and the authorization of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions. Addressing both of these matters, the House of Bishops reaffirmed the actions of the 2006 General Convention, and here I remind us all that the General Convention is the primary decision making body of The Episcopal Church.
Regarding episcopal elections (BO33), I believe our statement, “non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains,” went too far in the direction of trying to interpret a General Convention resolution, yet I can attest that some wanted an even stronger interpretation. The efforts to seek common ground are clearly evident in our writing on this matter.
The second matter addressed public rites of blessings for same-sex unions. Again, we rehearsed the actions of General Convention, which in 2006 took no action to authorize such rites. We acknowledged as well that “the majority of bishops make no allowance for the blessing of same sex unions.” Of course that means some bishops do. I am one who makes allowance for such blessings, and I intend to continue the current pastoral approach we have in place in the Diocese of Vermont for the blessing of holy unions. This was clearly addressed and understood in the House of Bishops.
Read it all. Ok, now follow the bouncing ball with me as we once again explore the Alice in Wonderland world of the Episcopal Church.
You may remember that back in 2004 the diocese of Vermont took some dramatic action:
Episcopalians in Vermont, in a "pastoral response" to the nation's first and only civil unions law, have unveiled liturgical rites that gay couples can use in the state's 48 Episcopal churches.
The worship guidelines, which look and sound like liturgies used for heterosexual weddings, are believed to be the first anywhere in the Anglican Communion that convey church blessings on gay civil partnerships.
The services are contained in a 36-page manual that was distributed to clergy, last month. A committee began drafting the rites in October, and they are expected to become of official in 2006.
The "blessing of holy unions" is backed by Vermont Bishop Thomas Ely. "It would help our people to have the experience of common liturgy where there's consistency in teaching, in language."
Read that very carefully. Got it? Liturgical rites that same sex couples may use, with an accompanying diocesan manual. And these rites are backed by Bishop Thomas Ely.
What was is that Tanzania was concerned about?
[The Episcopal Church is asked to] "1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144)."
Please observe carefully in that section the very important little word OR. It is not only through General Convention that the Primates in Tanzania did not want to see authorized blessings, but also at the diocesan level. So how are liturgical rites backed by the bishop not seen to be contrary to this? Only in a world where words mean what you want them to mean.
Q: Where does it leave the diocese of Chicago if Tracey Lind, an openly lesbian priest, is elected bishop?
A: We have a resolution of the General Convention that says we should exercise restraint, and we don't really know where that will take us, and we won't know until there is another bishop-elect who is gay or lesbian, and then we'll see how that happens. I think we're all exercising restraint in a sense that we know this is an important issue. We know it's a controversial issue, and only time will tell how that will go either with bishops or with standing committees. And remember in our church it's not just bishops who decide, but clergy and laity as well as the bishop.
Q: What did you learn at this meeting about the feelings of the rest of the world?
A: I think the international visitors underscored for me what we've known, but hearing it coming from their lips is even more powerful. Their contexts are so different from ours. It should not surprise us, but perhaps we're naive when we forget that in many countries of the world if you're known to be gay you can be imprisoned. There's just rampant discrimination. In a context like that, to ever have a chance to sit in the room with a faithful, committed Christian person who also happens to be gay or lesbian -- it's just not something that happens. So to hear from their lips how their contexts are different from ours, I think it always helps to have that personal contact. It was just as important for them to experience how very different our context is. So I think there was learning on both sides. That's really why we treasure the Anglican Communion so much is that if we hold together there is so much to be learned from one another.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)
[KIM] LAWTON: Robinson acknowledged he had some frank exchanges with the archbishop.
Bishop [GENE] ROBINSON: I understood him to be saying that we had to choose between fidelity to our gay and lesbian members and fidelity to the process of what he called "common discernment." And I said that, as a gay man, choosing a process over human beings felt dehumanizing to me. And perhaps there were people who were shocked that I said that, but after all, I'm the only openly gay voice in that room.
LAWTON: The New Orleans meeting seemed to solidify the decisions of those already contemplating leaving the Episcopal Church. New Mexico Bishop Jeffrey Steenson announced he was resigning in order to become a Roman Catholic.
Bishop JEFFREY STEENSON (Diocese of the Rio Grande): There are a lot of doctrinal matters that are being debated in the Episcopal Church that just astonish me, and I felt that it was really important for me now to be clear with myself about where I could be comfortable.
LAWTON: Four of the 110 U.S. dioceses have begun steps to break with the Episcopal Church. Conservative American bishops, including some who left the Episcopal Church decades ago, met together in Pittsburgh this week to discuss ways they can work together. Many are aligning with Global South Anglican churches.
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The one thing that was clear from the final statement of the HOBs is that nothing is going to change. Every concern of the primates was brushed aside as having already been dealt with sufficiently in accordance with TEC's polity. For example, the Pastoral Council/Primatial Vicar scheme outlined in the Dar es Salaam Communique was tossed aside without discussion, and a hopelessly inadequate DEPO scheme under PB Schori's direction (announced late last week without details) was endorsed in its place, even though the dioceses that had appealed for APO were never consulted and rejected the new plan as insufficient the moment it was announced.
Of course, two things were included in the HOB statement that might on their face seem to address the primates' concerns. First, the House again pledged to exercise "restraint" in approving future bishop-elects whose "manner of life" posed a "challenge" to the world-wide Communion. But a pledge of "restraint" is not a prohibition, and "restraint" is purely voluntary and subject to termination any time at the whim of the party "restraining " himself or herself. Secondly, the House collectively pledged not to endorse any official, public rites for same-sex blessings, while clearly leaving a vast amount of room for the continued practice of "private, unofficial" SSBs as a form of "pastoral care" (which "private" same-sex blessings may, of course, be performed in a church in front of 500 people by a priest or bishop in full vestments using language that may sound uncannily like a formal liturgy, just so long as no official text of a rite has been approved in advance by the bishop!). There will clearly be no turning back by TEC.
My response to all of this is deep sadness. New Orleans was undoubtedly the last chance for TEC to reverse course. I didn't expect the HOB truly to repent and turn away from their path of the last several years, but frankly I had thought they would produce something that went a bit further toward meeting the actual requirements of the primates.
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We are facing an eleventh-hour crisis in the Anglican Communion; any suggestion that further discussion is the way forward is a failure to realise the imminence of the threat we face. What is needed now is firm, decisive leadership which clearly protects and promotes the Biblical Christian faith. It is around such a position that the Communion could unite. In practice this means that discipline should be applied to TEC. Any bishops involved in the consecration of Gene Robinson or who teach that such consecrations are acceptable should be dis-invited from the Lambeth 2008 conference.
Without such discipline, we fear that divisions within the Anglican Communion will become permanent, with very grave consequences for the Church of England herself. Many in the mainstream of the Church’s life will want to align themselves with orthodox believers and distance themselves from TEC. This will entail a review, and suspension of, current diocesan links with TEC. Where dioceses are unwilling to suspend such links, orthodox clergy and parishes will remain committed to the Church of England, but will find the case for seeking alternative forms of spiritual oversight increasingly attractive and in many cases overwhelming.
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Conservative critics of the American church, especially bishops from the so-called Global South, protest that Episcopalians are allowing their faith to be adulterated by the culture. But the conservative bishops who abhor homosexuality are themselves acting in a cultural context. Experts on Christianity in Africa note that some bishops there don't want to seem "soft" on homosexuality for fear of losing converts to Islam.
In its long history, Christianity repeatedly has been divided and subdivided, and most of the issues that led one group to part company with another were "inside" issues of theology -- the authority of the Bible versus that of the pope, the role of "faith" and "works" in salvation, the nature of the sacraments. But others, like the dispute over American slavery that divided Northern from Southern Presbyterians in the 19th century, raged and resonated outside church walls. That is the case with the Anglican argument over gays, which is why so many non-Episcopalians -- and non-Christians -- are paying attention.
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Many voices have already been raised, denouncing the Bishops’ Statement as “non-compliance.” I disagree. I would characterize the decisions of the House of Bishops as being in partial compliance with what the Primates asked of us.
Unfortunately, the Bishops failed to even mention a third request from the Primates, that we put an end to the lawsuits that are being pressed in many Dioceses against congregations that are attempting to leave The Episcopal Church and yet retain “their” properties.
In our failure to do all that the Primates asked of us I was unable to vote for the Bishops’ Statement, but I was grateful to see a far higher level of concern for the unity of the Communion evident throughout our meeting than I have ever witnessed previously. Whether or not that level was high enough remains to be seen. Ultimately, of course, it is for the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates to make that call.
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Even the fiercest critics of the Episcopal Church's liberal drift say it's too soon to know whether the bishops' latest pledge to "exercise restraint" in approving another gay bishop will go far enough to help prevent an Anglican schism.
"It will take months and years to really see," said Bishop Martyn Minns, who leads a conservative network of breakaway Episcopal parishes.
Episcopal bishops released their pledge to "exercise restraint" Tuesday in the final moments of a six-day meeting, as the decades-long debate over interpreting the Bible threatens to shatter the world Anglican Communion.
Anglican leaders had set a Sunday deadline for the American bishops to pledge unequivocally not to consecrate another gay bishop or approve an official prayer service for same-sex couples.
The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon Jr., acting bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, had delivered an impassioned speech before the House of Bishops in New Orleans. He implored them to vote against a resolution he said did not respond to the points raised by the Anglican Primates in Dar es Salaam.
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Read it all.
''I can't tell you how, but we all came together on this one,'' says Frade, who attended the New Orleans assembly. In the end, the vast majority of the bishops . . . voted for the statement that we presented to the church's 38 primates.''
Still, not all South Florida Episcopal clergy agree that the statement and concessions healed the rift or that it eliminates the possibility of a future church split.
''It is wonderful news that the Episcopal Church in the United States remains intact. But to me it was sort of like putting a Band-Aid on the sun,'' says Father Orlando Addison, rector of St. James in the Hills Episcopal Church in Hollywood.
``It just wasn't enough. The truth is the bishops and priests on either side of this issue are no closer to agreeing. This statement simply puts things off till the next general assembly of the church in 2009.
``Hopefully then we can come to a resolution. But I fear we won't, and the church will split.''
That fear received a small boost Friday when Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, unsatisfied with the New Orleans compromise, announced he wanted to form a splinter church.
The problem, Addison says, is that both sides disagree on how literally to take the Bible, which some conservative clergy say condemns homosexuality.
''On a personal level, I believe all people should have the rights to the same social and financial benefits,'' Addison says. ``But to the issue of homosexuality, I'm sorry. But those rights should not alter how the church is run.''
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Depending upon what you read this week, Episcopal leaders appeared to either bow to the wishes of worldwide Anglican Communion leaders, or they moved further away from their Anglican family.
The New York Times wrote Wednesday that Episcopal bishops, meeting during a conference in New Orleans, "rejected" demands of Anglican leaders by adopting a resolution that defies the Anglican Communion's directive to change several church policies regarding the place of gays and lesbians in their church.
The Associated Press reported on the same day that Episcopal leaders said they will "exercise restraint" in approving another gay bishop and that they will not authorize official prayers to bless same-sex couples.
The Right Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, Utah's Episcopal bishop, said simply that the Episcopal House of Bishops voted to essentially reconfirm the 2006 resolution passed by her church's general convention held every three years. She voted against the nonbinding 2006 measure that urged Episcopal leaders to exercise restraint in future votes on ordaining gay bishops.
"I felt like we lost some ground and we gained some ground," Bishop Irish said in a phone interview. "And that's what pretty much happens in our church."
She read directly from the resolution, saying that the bishops agreed to exercise restraint by "not consenting to consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the church and will lead to further strains on communion." Exactly what constitutes a "challenge" to the church may vary from case to case, according to Bishop Irish.
Read it all. So riddle me this, Batman. If they were so clear why did the press have such varying interpretations? And how is the language of even the first section really doing what they were asked?
Jared Cramer sees the B033 section for what it is, even if some Episcopal Church leaders who should know better do not:
I suspect that the section on B033 will be the most contentious. In the full statement the bishops respond to the Primates’ request for just who B033 is talking about by speaking as clearly as possible: “non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains.” I would like to make two points. First, this resolution calls for restraint in any such election. To me, the word “restraint” suggests pause, taking time to consider the implications of what any such election may mean. Sure, the resolution specifies “exercise restraint by not consenting,” but I think that language is not as strong as an explicit and ill-advised moratorium would be [Bingo!--KSH]. Furthermore, I find it encouraging that ++Katharaine explicitly noted that with regard to the partnered lesbian priest currently up as one of eight nominees to be the next bishop of Chicago there needs to be reflection. She then goes on to note that partnered gay and lesbian clergy are certainly still qualified to serve as bishops.
Second, non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains. That is, there are others whose manner of life might also present a challenge to the life of the communion. I believed then and still believe now that this resolution is intended to “cut both ways”; it is intended to say that if the manner of life of someone up for bishop presents a challenge to the wider communion (whether she is gay or he is a misogynist or, say, would encourage more of those problematic border crossings) then those involved in giving consent to that election should exercise restraint and caution, fully aware of what any of those elections would mean.
In short, I have no problem with the HoB statment’s clarification of B033.
Yes, because the clarification also involves qualification, and that is why I DO have a problem with this section since it does not do what the Windsor Report asks for. That is worth being reminded of one more time:
the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges.
The sad fact is that, on any careful objective reading of the HoB statement, the glass is nowhere near either ‘half full’ or ‘half empty’. It may appear to be so on first examination but in fact once one has removed the froth there is little nourishing left in the glass. To change the metaphor, what is being offered here are essentially the same TEC sweets the Communion has been offered over recent years only now in a more attractive wrapping and with a stronger sugar coating.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the American church has already walked too far apart from the Communion and too much of it sincerely believes that it has walked that way led by the Spirit. As a result, despite much prayer and great effort by many, what has been offered by its bishops to the Communion is ‘too little, too late’.
The challenge now, with the Lambeth Conference less than a year away, is to discern what this means for the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole. That is a task that cannot be left to the Archbishop on his own or relying solely on advisors at Lambeth and the Anglican Communion Office. It requires the Primates who offered their guidance at Dar to be gathered in some manner so as to provide a common and coherent response to the statement from TEC’s HoB on the basis of their own understanding of the needs and demands we are facing together. There can be little doubt that TEC’s relationship with the Communion still remains as it was declared to be at Dar – “damaged at best” - and that “this hasconsequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion”.
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A Pastoral Letter from
The Rt. Rev'd D. Bruce MacPherson
III Bishop of Western Louisiana
September 27, 2007
Please read at all services on the weekend of September 29-30, 2007. In addition to reading, this may also be reproduced and distributed. [Canon III.12.3(b) Constitution and Canons of General Convention 2006].
A response and reflections on the House of Bishops meeting
[September 19-25, 2007 New Orleans, Louisiana]
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus:
A week and a half ago Susan and I set out for New Orleans and the advent of the House of Bishops meeting. This gathering has been in the thoughts and prayers of many since March of this year when the bishops of the Church made their initial response to the Communique issued by the Primates. I know, and will say at the outset, there are varying views amongst people across the Church as to the response and outcome of this important meeting, and I speak to this a little later in this letter.
We went to this meeting with the knowledge of being held in prayer by so very many across our diocese and places beyond, and we are grateful. We went knowing the weight that rested upon the work of the bishops and the ultimate statement that would be made. As we travelled, the scripture passage from Joshua 24:15 kept coming to mind, “... as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
For Joshua, it was a declaration that would set the tone for those who shared in the story of Israel's life in its land. Pausing for a moment and looking back at the path taken by Joshua, we find that his book simplifies what was not only a long, but also complex process, by which the Israelites settled in Canaan. The history of their battles and struggles prevail over the course of twenty-two chapters, and then lead us into the concluding two chapters. It is in these concluding verses that we discover the loyalty of the Israelites to their God who has given them the land they now occupy.
A careful reading of the book in its entirety will reveal that the affirmation of God's purpose for Israel was served even by the difficulties and evil that were encountered, but more important, for you and for me it serves as a vehicle to lead us to an understanding of obedience to God, and in whose image we are created.
As shared some time back, the passage “... as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” is simply stated, yet expresses the focus that Susan and I have shared as we have sought to live out our lives in faithfulness before, and for, the Lord.
In reading Joshua's declaration there is no doubt as to what is intended. He has gathered all of the people together, reviewed with them the gracious acts of God toward them down through history, and then challenges them to choose whom they will worship - the God of all creation or other gods. They concur with him and in turn enter into a solemn covenant with one another and God. Down through the years, and to this day, life is always confronting us with choices and alternatives. We have a choice - God or the worldly things which surround us.
It was with this on my heart and mind that I entered the city of New Orleans. My prayer was that we would enter into a solemn covenant with God through the response that we would make as bishops of the Church.
Our time over the many days was spent sharing in Bible study with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others, worship, closed executive sessions, and at times with business being conducted with the media present.
A highlight for many was on Saturday, September 22, when most of the bishops and spouses spent the day in either Mississippi or the New Orleans area, doing hurricane relief work. Due to the condition of my knee, and the fact that I was on a crutch, Susan and I signed up to go and work in the kitchen of the Cathedral making sandwiches for those who were labouring in the field. This unfortunately didn't work out as they assigned us to go and work on a building site. The vision of me endeavouring to hang sheet rock while balanced on a crutch dissuaded us.
With this background, permit me now to speak to the larger, and more important picture, the response of the bishops of The Episcopal Church to the Primate's Communique. In the course of the week a portion of our time was shared with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev'd Rowan D. Williams, and with some members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council. I would not be honest if I didn't share that the week was intense, and the conversation for the most part, quite serious. I was taken a bit in our early conversations to find a number of bishops, whom have most often tended to disagree with me, expressing concern about the outcome of the meeting and our ongoing relationship within the Anglican Communion and with the See of Canterbury. These expressions were built upon by a number of them, and particularly following the presentations made by the Archbishop and some of the members of the Joint Standing Committee.
As a part of his time with us, the Archbishop shared his concern about the direction of the Church as it relates to our ecclesiology. I personally felt he was speaking with a sense of deep concern and pastoral care. The Joint Standing Committee, represented by both lay and ordained members, as did the Archbishop, spent time in conversation with us formally and informally. When each of them addressed the gathering, they demonstrated great candor while being gracious. Their messages were to the point, and they were uniform in their expressed feeling that The Episcopal Church needs the Anglican Communion, and the Anglican Communion needs The Episcopal Church. Underscoring this however, was the fact that we, The Episcopal Church, cannot be implementing change without regard to the effect it has on the wider Communion.
The message that was delivered to us was clear: the Communion wants more from us than was offered in Resolution B033 (General Convention 2006), and it needs to be unequivocally so.
As I listened to each of the speakers and the message of desired clarity, I honestly could not help but feel the resolution submitted by the Windsor bishops addressed their concerns exactly. Unfortunately though, not only our resolution, but the resolution submitted jointly by the Bishop of Louisiana in concert with the Bishops of Los Angeles and Washington, which was a modified version of the Windsor bishop's resolution, were not able to get to the floor. It was the posture of the House to have a writing committee that had been appointed, take these documents and draw upon them in the development of the statement of response.
This committee repeatedly brought drafts to the House for consideration in executive sessions, and in each case the contents were debated. I can assure you, every effort was made to produce a document that contained the Windsor compliant language of the Windsor bishops proposed resolution. Sadly, the effort was in vain.
The final document has left frustration on both sides of the aisle, and basically states the following:
* “We reconfirm that Resolution B033 (General Convention 2006) that bishops and Standing Committees exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on the Communion.”
* “We pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.”
* “We commend our Presiding Bishop's plan for episcopal visitors.”
* “We support the Presiding Bishop in seeking communion-wide consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.”
* “We call for increasing implementation of the listening process across the Communion and for a report on its progress to Lambeth 2008.”
* “We support the Archbishop of Canterbury in his expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference.”
* “We call for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety and dignity of gay and lesbian persons.”
For those who have read the Communique and the Windsor Report, you will note this fails to respond clearly to that which has been asked of us. My disappointment with the above is that it falls short of providing the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Primates of the Communion with the response they sought with respect to definitive clarity.
As many are aware, the document was approved by the House of Bishops with one dissenting vote, and this coming from one of the more progressive bishops. As to my personal action, I sat mute, and in doing so, supported this work. Should I have been vocal at this stage, yes, but I failed to do so and take responsibility for my silence.
Where will we go from here? This will be determined by the response that will be made by the Archbishop, Joint Standing Committee and Primates, and the direction we take in living out the faith that has been entrusted to us, and the proclamation of the Gospel as we fulfill the mission of the Church, and this is in the “Making of Disciples: restoring all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” I pray the response will come in time for our Diocesan Convention on October 12-13 at the Holiday Inn Convention Centre Hotel in Alexandria.
It is important to note, we have accomplished much toward this end with our reconciliation and healing work over this past year; our unwillingness to be distracted from the ministry to which God has called us and to which we have responded with great commitment. Those participating in this endeavour spoke clearly as to what the expressed desire is - faithful submission to the will of God; maintaining a focus on the Gospel and the mission of the church; respecting one another and our differences, and being a continuing part of The Episcopal Church as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion in communion with the See of Canterbury. I pray that we, as the Diocese of Western Louisiana, will continue to focus on these things as we move forward together in the days ahead.
In closing, permit me to end with that which I began, “... as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” This has not changed, and my prayer is that while not having changed, I trust there has been growth in my faith and relationship with Christ. Although I failed to speak out at the time of the final vote, I remain committed to the Windsor Report and in being the Bishop of a Windsor compliant diocese. My position with respect to the requests of the Primate's Communique has not changed and I will continue to work toward the development of the Anglican Covenant.
As your bishop, I am committed to ministering to the whole of God's people in this diocese, and ensuring that we live with fullness into our Baptismal Covenant. To do this, I need your help and prayers and trust you know of my prayers for each of you.
“O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” [BCP p.832]
Faithfully offered in the love of Christ,
The Rt. Rev'd D. Bruce MacPherson
III Bishop of Western Louisiana
And in New Orleans, the Episcopal Bishops, in a near-unanimous voice vote [as noted before, we now know this is untrue although what is true remains unclear--KSH], essentially confirmed what they had said less formally on other occasions: They rejected the notion of Communion involvement in the bishops they choose, promised to "exercise restraint by not consenting" to non-celibate gay bishops and pledged not to approve prayers to bless gay couples.
All of this falls short of what the global Anglican leadership asked for. Indeed, at the end of August, the Chicago Episcopal diocese named an openly gay woman as one of five nominees for a bishop's position. And a pledge not to come up with a specific prayer for gay marriages doesn't necessarily mean that individual priests won't continue to perform improvised ceremonies.
Read it all. I am frustrated that this reporter didn't talk to me and took one word from the RNS article (posted just above) instead of putting it in context. The reason it is insulting is that they think others in the Communion will not be clever enough to see their attempted ruse. So it is not just a failure to tell the truth, it is a failure to love and to respect the dignity of their listerners around the Communion--KSH.
In making a “pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions” at this time, they noted that the church has never adopted any rite for such blessings.
[But the Primates already knew this, what they were concerned about was local pastoral provision for same sex blessings which is occurring even without any General Convention authorized rite--KSH].
Whether the bishops’ response will satisfy either the Anglican primates or dissident Episcopalians remains in question.
“It’s a great example of apostolic leaders acting like lawyers,” said the Rev. Kendall Harmon, a conservative theologian from the Diocese of South Carolina. “They’re hiding behind language that’s parsed and [this attempt to pretend using language as a weapon is--KSH] insulting.”
The bishops’ “reluctant bargaining effort to keep their foot in the door,” of the Anglican Communion, will just lead to increased chaos in the U.S. and abroad, Harmon said.
But the statement’s seemingly overwhelming support from conservative and liberal bishops proves that it strikes a balance on a divisive issue, said Jim Naughton, a spokesman for the Diocese of Washington.
“Much of the church would like to move forward on issues of full inclusion,” he said. “We would like to authorize blessings for gay relationships, we would like to say that all orders of ministry in our church are open to our gay and lesbian members. We’re not happy with the statue quo. But tactically this seemed by far the wisest thing to do.”
Read it all. But Jim Naughton is not telling the truth about the Bishops not telling the truth. It is not the status quo. It is still creating facts on the ground in multiple dioceses which put into practice something Anglicans have never agreed to do and the Bible has never been understood by the Church to permit. That is why Integrity entitled its press release "INTEGRITY APPLAUDS BISHOPS' STRONG STAND AGAINST PRIMATES".
Update: And speaking of creating facts on the ground, anyone remember this statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury?
But I distinguish as clearly as I can between a question a theologian may ask and an action or determination the church may take, or only the bishop may take. I think that is a necessary distinction for the life and health of the church. It would be a tragedy if the church sought to suppress questions. But it is equally a tragedy when the church creates facts on the ground that foreclose discussions and reflections on such questions.
So, heading into this meeting TEC’s bishops were aware that if the necessary reassurances were not given they risked being disciplined, possibly even suspended from the Anglican Communion. Equally though, it’s patently obvious that there is no real desire to pull back from the course they have charted for themselves. Most observers predicted that what would emerge from this meeting would be a form of words which would be enough to satisfy the majority of the Communions Primates that TEC is seeking to comply with their wished, whilst at the same time giving themselves enough ‘wiggle room’ to continue as before. And that’s exactly what they have done.
Read it all.
Memo to: Clergy and Diocesan/Congregational Leaders
From: The Rt. Rev. James L. Jelinek
VIII Bishop, Diocese of Minnesota
Have you ever worked on a statement with ±150 colleagues? And have you ever done so considering the nuanced meaning of words and phrases to a worldwide audience? That pretty well describes the last two days of the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. Within hours after its release Tuesday afternoon, it was commented upon and interpreted by scores of people and so it is my hope that this /Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners/ (attached below) will be read more carefully than the comments and criticisms about it. Please spend the time to read it slowly. What does it say? What doesn't it say? I believe it is a pretty accurate description of us that is quite clear about what we stand _for_ in the name of God and also sets limits as to what we are willing to take from others outside of The Episcopal Church.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, +Rowan Williams, and several members of the Steering Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (the only body with a constitution and agreed-upon authority in the Anglican Communion) met with us and urged us to be clear. I believe we were. I also believe we answered everything we were asked to answer. It is clear that some were looking for a repudiation by The Episcopal Church (TEC) of earlier actions, but that is something we neither could nor would do.
Will there be reactivity to this /Response/? Is the sun likely to rise again tomorrow? Watch and listen, but first of all measure your own reactions and re-read those passages or phrases to which you most strongly react. Upon second or third reading, do you hear them the same way? If so, that is worth pursuing in conversation in your congregation or with your clergy group. If not, it is worth reflecting on what this touched (or even triggered) in you. We need to be aware that in times of tension like this, our fears and anxieties are likely to be near the surface, more easily unsettled.
The big picture is that we are considering matters that are not about winning or losing, but of discernment and meaning and within relationships. Where is the Holy Spirit leading the Christian Church and leading humanity? How do we identify the marks of the Holy Spirit in what feels like a progression, in comparison with the spirit of the age we live in? Most especially, how do we do this /within time/ when we do not yet have the luxury of looking back at the past where we sometimes have more clarity? Some argue that this is precisely why we must go very slowly, yet that seems more than unjust when people are suffering. So, The Episcopal Church is moving forward while trying not to inflict more pain or to provoke more controversy.
At times like this I am most concerned about reaction without reflection, for in haste our reactions are usually determined by fear, particularly one of the following: the fear of losing or failing or losing out or losing one's touchstones and one's bearings. It seems to me that when we struggle with our inclusion we are most afraid of losing out, of not counting. And when something new comes along that seems so unusual, so different from the ways we have always seen the world and how we understand God's creativity, it seems that our experience is one of disorientation, the fear of losing our bearings. That seems to describe the church we live in today. No wonder there are tensions.
I pray that our personal and communal responses may be guided by hope, the hope which comes from trusting in God to inspire us, and more-to knit us together in one heart even when we cannot be of one mind.
* * *
I am pleased with the comments in the Minneapolis Star Tribune by Dean Spenser Simrill and the Revs. LeeAnne Watkins and Mariann Budde, for they put the matter into perspective for people, which Martyn Minns does not do as well, glossing over the limitations which our structure puts upon us. Notice that the headlines here and in the New York Times yesterday love to focus on the controversies and the differences and do not choose to see how many in the House of Bishops have come to be of one heart.
* * *
In general, the meeting of the House and Community (including our partners) of Bishops was a good experience. +Rowan Williams spoke a few times, preached at a stirring ecumenical gathering where the jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, Jr., "stole the show" from everyone else there, setting us all on fire. +Rowan was at his best Friday morning, offering a wonderful bible study which revealed his deep knowledge, intellectual brilliance and spiritual insights. This is where we saw the man of faith, and he inspired us. +Katherine was perceptive, able to
enumerate, synthesize and describe what we had come to in our discussions, both our agreements and where we still had work to do. She can be very charming and funny, as well, and at the end we gave her a standing ovation for her work among us and on our (TEC's) behalf during her first year. Our chaplains gave voice to the prayers we were not articulating well, as we wrestled inwardly and outwardly. Our Anglican Communion guests brought us both challenge and gift: differing points of view and the warmth of international friendships.
I have never been to New Orleans before, so I can only guess what is missing from the number of empty lots, falling down buildings and neighborhoods, and the personal stories of those who live there. Tourism and business are way down. Complaints abound about the lack of a good governmental response on any level, and yet churches and agencies get kudos-both for the work that so many local and out of state volunteers do and for the caring listening which affirms people so much. Most of us took Saturday to participate in rebuilding, and I am very glad I did. We worked alongside honor student volunteers from Tulane putting in the beams and flooring of a house. Cliff, our crew chief (about 20), is doing this work "for a while" before he begins college. We did not need to talk much, for there was an easy rhythm to our work together.
We have done what we have done, and it was worth the time, the effort, the care and the prayer, and I thank you for yours. We offer this to God, to the Church, and to all those whose lives may be affirmed and strengthened by it.
The formal response to the Primates' Communiqué was adopted late Tuesday by the House of Bishops by a virtually unanimous vote. It reflected our very deep appreciation of the Anglican Communion and our strong desire to maintain and nurture our role within it, while asserting our determined commitment to include gay and lesbian persons in our common life. In our statement, the bishops reconfirmed our vote at the 2006 General Convention to "exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion." This reconfirmation constitutes our continuing agreement with that resolution and acknowledges that such language pertains specifically to non-celibate gay and lesbian persons. We also repeated our pledge not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. We noted that we hope to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide process of listening to the experiences of gay and lesbian persons.
We commended our Presiding Bishop for her plans to provide episcopal visitors for dioceses at irreconcilable odds with her own ministry as Primate and we support her commitment to consult with the wider communion in pastoral matters, seeking creative solutions that are in accord with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. We supported the Archbishop of Canterbury in his desire to include the bishop of New Hampshire at next year's Lambeth Conference. We called for commitment to the civil rights, safety and dignity of gay and lesbian persons. We deplored the incursion of uninvited bishops into our dioceses.
No one achieved everything he or she wanted in our statement. To your Virginia bishops, our traditionally centrist attitude seemed to be the prevailing attitude of the House of Bishops. We share the viewpoint of many of our brother and sister bishops that our response to the Communiqué meets the requests put to us by the Primates.
Read it all.
Given the pain the Communion has experienced, a repeated call for active listening process, though Windsor-compliant, is foolhardy as it will tear dioceses and Provinces apart (thus Church of England Synod’s refusal to table the issue), let alone Lambeth Conference. I don’t disagree with the need. But time needs to be given for the tear to heal and it is pastoral and leadership madness to deal with this divisive issues after all the pain it has caused and will cause if it remains in the forefront of how the Communion relate together. TEC HOB’s requests for this underlines their determination to ‘converse to convert’ and remain actively in the communion processes to convince the rest of then world that their actions are right and ‘prophetic.’ It is a bizarre reaction to the crisis they have caused.
The fabric remain as torn as it did in 2003. Unless some HOB bishops has the leadership guts to lead TEC out of her current direction, fudging the issues will only continue the pain and division in the Communion. It is best that those who are determine to pursue the 2003 action indicate clearly their desire to ‘walk apart’ so that the rest of the Communion can move on with her life and core business. Perhaps the Covenant can do the work to mend the net and for TEC to return via that channel. This will truly ‘save the Communion’, a phrase that has been bandid around but it is obvious that most seem concern to ‘save TEC’ and help her keep her status as an official member of the Communion.
Read it all.
Please do not assume we have seen them and pass them along. Full text by email preferred, url is o.k. if you are in a hurry--thanks.
...The two of us, and several others, sought repeatedly - in public and in private - for clarity and directness in our response. In our view, we should have answered the questions simply and straightforwardly, and any other comments we wanted to make should have been issued separately. As one bishop noted to the House, we were asked left-brain questions and we offered right-brain answers.
Take a look at all the entries and be aware that there is more coming.
The best that could be hoped for from the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans was clarity. In fact it was this that the Primates in the Dar-es-Salaam meeting earlier this year were particularly requesting after a decade of obfuscation.
Firstly, the General Convention resolutions of last year were ambiguous in their response to the call for a moratoria on same-sex blessings and the consecration of so-called ‘partnered homosexuals’. As usual the Bishops and deputies of the Convention gave themselves a large amount of wriggle room to pursue their own agendas. Thus we had the spectacle at one of the House of Bishops press conferences this week of the Bishop of Los Angeles, Jon Bruno, earnestly informing the press that same-sex blessings had not been authorised in his diocese. It later came to light that they were routine in his diocese and he had even presided at one himself. In other words, they didn’t need authorisation because they were an accepted part of diocesan practice.
So in some senses, the eight-point plan adopted by the Bishops and thrown as a lifeline to the embattled Archbishop of Canterbury might be seen as a move forward towards this clarity and honesty that is so badly needed.
The Bishops reiterated the General Convention resolution which promised restraint in the election of bishops ‘whose manner of life’ presented a challenge and spelled out helpfully that this included practising homosexuals.
They also promised not to authorise public rites of blessing, but clung to the get-out clause that allowed a diversity of pastoral responses to gay men and lesbians. In other words, plenty of wriggle room there.
Another crucial response which was required in the Primates’ Tanzanian demands was a scheme of alternative Episcopal oversight. It is here that the American Bishops chose to raise their two-fingered salutes to the rest of the ‘Americans and Europeans are religious in different ways’ Communion by rejecting any notion of ‘alternative’ oversight in favour of modifying their ‘delegated oversight scheme’. The trouble is that this has never worked because it has never had the confidence of those it was established for. The Bishops accepted some degree of outward influence on the ‘delegated’ scheme giving Presiding Bishop Schori the decisive role in taking this forward.
And then comes a list of demands from the House of Bishops. Find a place at the Lambeth Conference for Gene Robinson and we’ll send a delegation to the Archbishop of Canterbury to help him do so —presumably the heavy brigade to twist Dr Williams arms behind his back. End incursions by African Archbishops onto American soil and protect the human rights of lesbians and gays throughout the communion. This latter point in a sense is the least controversial to western ears, but badly needs saying in parts of the world where homosexuality is still criminalised and gays face persecution and violence. However, with its credibility as a Church which values the opinions of the wider body in absolute tatters, I’m not sure that The Episcopal Church’s voice can be heard on this fundamental point.
The eight-point plan, endorsed almost unanimously [We now know this is not true, thought what is true exactly remains murky--KSH], promised no consent for any more gay bishops, no public blessings, and the adoption of a plan for Episcopal visitors to conservative parishes which cannot accept their liberal bishops. On reflection, the House of Bishops statement goes some way towards answering the demands of the Tanzanian communiqué, but probably not far enough. It will certainly not reassure Primates who are already marking out territory in the United States and will not roll back the incursions there.
We are left with chaos and we are all left with the blame. Firstly, so-called ‘conservatives’ in the US and elsewhere have not stood united together in opposing changes in theology which have led us to our current pass. Secondly, liberals have played fast and loose with scripture. When they have failed to change the mind of the Church they have resorted to placing facts on the ground, and accomplishing their agenda by dishonest manoeuvres rather than open theological debate in the councils of the Church and communion. Sadly, the Archbishop of Canterbury and his advisers have made two recent catastrophic errors. In sending out Lambeth
invitations to all US bishops they ignored the weight of the Windsor Report towards a distancing of Gene Robinson, and the coconsecrators from the councils of the Communion.
This has introduced confusion into a process which was absolutely clear from the time that the Windsor Report was published. Secondly, during the time of negotiation last week with the House of Bishops, Dr Williams openly declared that September 30, which the Primates had set as a deadline for response, was no ultimatum but merely a convenient date following the House of Bishops meeting.
It is clear that this is not a view shared by many of his fellow primates and does not reflect the language of the communiqué itself. This declaration however gives an open signal that Dr Williams himself is not prepared to lead the Communion in any proper sanction against The Episcopal Church. We can therefore expect further tragic fragmentation in the coming months.
--This article appears in the Church of England Newspaper, September 28, 2007, edition, page 15
"After a half day of discussion and tinkering with the language, the bishops adopted the resolution with only the Bishop of Pennsylvania, Charles Bennison voting against — and an undisclosed number of bishops declining to vote."
--from the front page article in today's Church of England Newspaper
This statement is incorrect. We now know that Bishop Salmon said no audibly. The Bishop of Dallas did not vote for it (he was already gone). The Bishop of Central Florida did not voice support either (he so told the Boston Globe). A late and rushed voice consensus vote on something this important was not helpful--KSH.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Now that the House of Bishops meeting has ended, and I am back home among you, I want to share a few thoughts on the work we did, and particularly on the statement we produced. As you may know, I was one of the eight bishops who wrote this statement, which developed over several days as each draft was discussed by the whole House and further refined by the writing group. Apart from preaching and celebrating at a local parish on Sunday, this process of drafting and revising took up all my waking hours from Friday evening until Tuesday afternoon. So it is fair to say that my experience of New Orleans is essentially my experience of that process.
I went to New Orleans afraid that the House would not maintain the high level of civility and mutual respect that marked our meeting last March.
On the one hand, I worried that the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury might provoke angry words directed against him and the other primates. On the other, I feared that bishops on different sides of the same-sex unions debate might become rancorous toward one another. None of this happened. Rowan Williams was welcomed with respect and warmth, as were the members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates, whom we had invited to sit with us in our deliberations. As for how we related to one another, I was struck by the kindness, care and mutual understanding that informed the House's discourse from beginning to end. We are a community of bishops that is passionately devoted to the worldwide Anglican Communion and committed to our unity and fellowship with one another as members of the Episcopal Church.
The meeting was largely shaped, in my view, by our conversations, both formal and informal, with our Anglican Communion guests. What emerged for all of us was a firmer grasp of how the Primates and the ACC viewed the Episcopal Church and what they were asking of us as its bishops. I was surprised to discover that, for the most part, we are held in high regard by our brothers and sisters in the Communion, and our participation in the Communion is very highly valued. Moreover, while there is frustration and anger that we have, in their view, acted precipitously and disrespectfully in consecrating a partnered gay bishop without consulting with the larger Communion, there is also an appreciation that the Episcopal Church is forcing a Communion-wide conversation about homosexuality that is long overdue. What our guests were asking of us was clarity about two things: (1) the bishops'
interpretation of B033, the 2006 General Convention resolution regarding the election of partnered gay bishops, and (2) the bishops' current approach to the blessing of same-sex unions.
The statement that we produced is our attempt to answer those two questions succinctly and transparently. We have said nothing new. Those who were dissatisfied with B033 for going too far or not going far enough will be equally dissatisfied with the present statement. However, what we have said as a House arises in the context of renewed hope for a conversation with our Anglican partners that honors all members of our Church. I am heartened by this hope, and I pray that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters will also find encouragement in this.
My ardent desire for this Diocese is that we will continue diligently to embrace our fellowship with one another across the differences that both challenge and enrich us. We all have a witness to share, and we all are in need of having our perspective broadened by the witness of others. By God's grace, and through your prayers, a step was taken in New Orleans toward recovering the possibility of an Anglican Communion capable of facing tough issues with mutual forbearance and readiness to learn from one another. That possibility will become a reality as it is lived into on the ground. God bless us in Southern Ohio, as we play our part in that adventure.
--(The Rt. Rev.) Thomas E. Breidenthal is Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio
“Bishop [Neil] Alexander [of Atlanta] said that he hoped for a ‘clear and unambiguous’ statement from the bishops. Well, judging by the initial media response, the statement released Tuesday night falls short of ‘clear and unambiguous,’” noted respected theologian Dr. R. Albert Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of America’s pre-eminent evangelical leaders.
What The Episcopal Church had hoped to be a "clear and unambiguous" statement has left both sides of the Anglican divide dissatisfied, with some saying the Episcopal bishops are again dodging their response to avoid losing their place in the global communion.
"I'm saddened but not surprised," said the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, missionary bishop of the Anglican breakaway CANA (Convocation of Anglicans in North America), in a teleconference on Wednesday. "I think basically they ducked. The response they've offered does not clarify as was requested."
Read it all.
Read it all.
In its report of the recent meeting between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church – in post-Katrina New Orleans, of all places – the Associated Press accompanied its article with a color photograph of several vested bishops taking part in a rendition of "When the Saints go marching in"!
Considering what had, or more importantly had not, transpired at that meeting, my first reaction on seeing the photograph was to recollect a poem by the late T. S. Eliot entitled The Hollow Men. On further reflection, and taking into account the visually gender-correct prominence of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in the front row, I was at length struck by the realization that the entire Anglican process of "compromise" since the publication of the Windsor Report in 2004 has been all too much like the re-arranging of deck chairs on the Titanic.
Although I have commended the Christian virtue of patience as we watch and pray during this time of a New Reformation, it is becoming more and more questionable whether the present Archbishop of Canterbury, in his repeated reluctance to assume the risk of prophetic leadership, is able or willing to see what is lurking in the ecclesiastical waters rising around him. But is there not now a clear irreversibility to The Episcopal Church’s institutional descent into apostasy? Even if the Windsor process has so far taken the form of indecision and procrastination, the imperative of decisiveness is now, with the collapse of any common witness on the part of the so-called Windsor bishops in this country, looming over us.
Those seeking to re-arrange the ecclesiastical deck chairs want to persuade us that the disagreements in the Anglican Communion are "really" about polity, power and the purse rather than doctrine, theology, and biblical faithfulness.
It is, of course, to the Devil’s advantage that Mammon should seem to trump God!
In any case, it is certainly mischievous at best for anyone to try to lay the blame for schism on those, like the Diocese of South Carolina, who have gone so many extra miles in seeking to repair the breaches in the Anglican Communion which have developed and widened so relentlessly in recent years. After all, it is not traditionalists who have broken faith with the biblical teaching of the 1998 Lambeth Conference or two thousand years of Christian moral consensus. It is not we who have played fast and loose with the content of the creeds or the conciliar tradition of the church catholic. It is not we who have sundered communion and continuity.
Of all the inordinate and self-deluding aspects of Anglican pride about the "genius" of our have-it-both-ways ecclesiology – having our cake and eating it too – perhaps the most enduring (but, by the same token, the most insidious) has been the notion that, as heirs equally of the Catholic Tradition on the one hand and the Protestant Reformation on the other, we of the "middle way" would never, ever have to choose between doctrine and historicity, creeds and continuity, Chalcedon and Canterbury, or even between the Bible and Baal.
But the ruling oligarchy of The Episcopal Church is forcing such choices by its willingness simply to lie about the present state of affairs – in which the Presiding Bishop, when questioned directly, declines to affirm the uniqueness and universality of Christ as savior of the world; her chancellor resorts to litigious legalism in order to prevent conscientious conservatives from seeking theological safe havens; the General Convention claims putative "autonomy" understood in a modern and revisionist sense unknown to the Church Fathers or the English Reformers; and increasing numbers of clergy impose the substitution, in liturgy and life, of political correctness for orthodox doctrine.
The evidence for all of this is legion, but it remains willfully unacknowledged by the majority of American bishops, by the national leadership of The Episcopal Church, or by the staff of the Anglican Communion Office in London and the Anglican Centre in Rome.
In 1999, Archbishop Rowan Williams’s predecessor, Archbishop George (now Lord) Carey made an eloquent plea on behalf of "The Precious Gift of Unity" in a lecture here at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston. But as Lord Carey himself has come to recognize, the failure to heed that plea began with seeds sown not by upholders of orthodoxy but by those who thought unity could be separated from truth.
On the contrary, unity "in Christ" can only exist as rooted and grounded in the biblical, doctrinal, and moral truth of God’s trustworthy Word . It is otherwise a sham.
--The Very Rev. William McKeachie is Dean of the Cathedral of Saint Luke and Saint Paul in Charleston, South Carolina
At some point, he said, the Episcopal Church's leaders must clearly state, once and for all, what they believe and why they believe it. If they want to remain part of the Anglican Communion, they need to be honest with the other churches.
"My friends, if you really believe that the truth revealed to you is different from that shown to the rest of the Communion, then you need to uphold that claim with boldness even at the risk of losing unity," he told the bishops. "If you think it is right and necessary to ordain and consecrate practicing homosexuals and that you should bless same-sex partnerships or even marriages, you should be true to what you believe is right and accept the consequences."
The Egyptian bishop was not the only person calling for doctrinal clarity, even if clarity would cause pain. One outspoken progressive said it's time to admit that same-sex blessings are common in many U.S. dioceses and that Episcopal leaders are moving toward open advocacy of the ordination of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual clergy.
Same-sex blessings are "happening all over the place, with official sanction of diocesan authorities in a few places," noted Father Scott Gunn, at the Inclusive Church weblog. "We're trying to have it both ways here.
"We should either come out and say what we're doing and why (with strong biblical and theological support), or we should stop doing it. If we take the first option, let's face the consequences, if any. It is neither honest nor helpful to do something and then say we're not doing it."
Read it all.
I am grateful to the clergy and people of the Diocese of Tennessee for your prayers and other support during the recent meeting of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. I have been conscious that this support, a sign of our communion and common life in the Body of Christ, has upheld me during a time of stress in the life of the Church. I give thanks for you, and pray that you too are upheld in your ministry by God’s life-giving power.
Our time of gathering in New Orleans with the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting was not an easy one. The visible signs and continuing effects of the devastating hurricane of two years ago were evident; the weighty subject of the Primates’ February Communiqué and our response to it was in the forefront of most minds. The Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Joint Standing Committee shared with the House of Bishops the global context of recent actions of the Episcopal Church and the effects of these actions on the life of the Anglican Communion, and also charted a possible way forward for our common life together as a Communion. These perspectives were difficult for some members of the House of Bishops to receive, yet these perspectives shaped the response of the bishops.
In a most positive part of our time together, members of the House of Bishops and spouses along with our Communion partners had the opportunity to join in the work in rebuilding New Orleans. We also shared in a joyful ecumenical service of thanksgiving during which almost one million dollars from the dioceses of the Episcopal Church was presented to the Dioceses of Louisiana and Mississippi. We discovered, as well, the continuing vibrancy of many communities on the Gulf Coast, in the midst of a situation that continues to be very difficult.
The House of Bishops has now given its response, one that went much further than I thought possible for the House to provide the clarifications requested by the Primates’ Meeting. The clarifications concern the requested assurances on the blessing of same-sex unions and on the consecration to the episcopate of persons living in a partnered same-sex union sought by the 2004 Windsor Report. The issue before the Episcopal Church is to provide the assurances requested by the Report that will allow the common life of the Anglican Communion to continue. I believe that the principal question is no longer just whether the Episcopal Church desires to continue to walk with the Communion, but whether the Communion itself has the will to continue together. There is much here at stake that goes beyond the Episcopal Church.
It is now the responsibility of the Instruments of Communion to evaluate our response. The Communiqué was addressed to us by the Primates’ Meeting, and I believe that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and the Primates’ Meeting will be making recommendations to them. Many interested parties will offer their own evaluations, but the assessment of the Communion as a whole through the Instruments of Communion is the crucial one for Communion-minded people.
Part of being members of a Communion of Churches is that our own opinion of whether we have addressed adequately the concerns of others is not decisive for the future of our relationship. These matters are the business of common discernment throughout the Church. I have written before of my passion for Jesus’ Church, a worldwide phenomenon with roots firmly planted in the earliest times, growing and reaching out to the future. I have called you to a deeper consideration of the Church, “that wonderful and sacred mystery” (BCP, 291), and I call you again to reflect on the importance of Christian community. My commitments are unchanged. In the midst of challenge, I pray for good discernment, graceful conversion, and at all times the mercy of God.
(The Rt. Rev.) John Bauerschmidt is Bishop of Tennessee.
An influential African archbishop said Thursday that the Anglican church was still in crisis despite the US Episcopal Church agreeing to halt the ordination of gay bishops and blessing same-sex unions.
Benjamin Kwashi, archbishop-elect of Jos province in Nigeria, insisted that the gay crisis was "not resolved" by the statement by US church leaders.
"The statement by the U.S. Episcopal bishops should be taken with extreme caution," Kwashi told Nigerian media.
"The US bishops have not said anything different from their earlier liberal stance, which supports same-sex unions."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting
As I prepare to return to the diocese after participating in the House of Bishops Interim Meeting in New Orleans since last Wednesday, I am attaching hereto the communiqué that we have adopted in response to the requests of our partners in the Anglican Communion. Please read it carefully and know that it was written over a lengthy period of days and adopted by a very broad consensus of your bishops.
I believe that this communiqué represents a considerable spirit of compromise and collegiality in the House of Bishops, which I am pleased to see. There were only two voiced votes against its adoption and no minority report or open dissent. The communiqué will be "spun" in different ways no doubt in accordance with the biases of the press and the desires of different factions in the church. I lament this, but it is the way of the world in which we presently live. I was particularly disappointed by the inaccuracy of the New York Times article which appeared in the Birmingham News today. Let us not be misled by negative and ill-prepared comments.
Read it all. Is it not a bit humorous to see all these Episcopal leaders so critical of the New York Times? Weren't they the same ones who quoted Bishop Parsley in the article before the meeting?
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