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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates GAFCON II 2013 GAFCON I 2008 Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
...It is our vocation as Communion Partners to navigate this narrow path between two dangerous extremes as we pursue the mission of the Church “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”To that end, six Communion Partner bishops (Greg Brewer, Paul Lambert, Ed Little, Dan Martins, Ed Salmon and Michael Smith) made a visit to Archbishop Justin Welby at his residence in Canterbury, England last week.
There we prayed together and discussed a range of issues concerning the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church. Also present was the Archbishop’s Director of Reconciliation, Canon David Porter.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
In his most stark comments yet about divisions over issues such as homosexuality, the Most Rev Justin Welby said the Church is coming perilously close to plunging into a “ravine of intolerance”.
He even drew parallels between the crisis afflicting the 77 million-strong network of Anglican churches and the atmosphere during the English Civil War.
And he likened the collective behaviour of the church to a “drunk man” staggering ever closer to edge of a cliff.
Read it all and the sermon text being cited is there.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson says he chafed for several years at being branded the first openly gay bishop of the Anglican Church until he realized that he was wasting a pulpit from which he could advocate for equality.
“I’d been given this really remarkable opportunity and it would be selfish of me not to be the best steward of that opportunity,” he recently told The Associated Press in an interview as he prepares to retire in January. “We went from my consecration, which set off this international controversy, to nine years later seeing gay, lesbian and transgender congregants welcome at all levels of the church, including bishop.”
Robinson’s election in 2003 as the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican church created an international uproar and led conservative Episcopalians to break away from the main church in the United States.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
You can find the 1998 material there and that from 2008 here.
I also want to remember the statement of the Primate of Korea, who with two other primates addressed our House of Bishops on the subject of the proposed covenant. He strikingly said that the province he served would reject the proposed covenant, because, in their considered opinion, to accept would be to internalize the colonialism the has inhered in the historical relationship between the Anglican provinces of the West and their province.
My own memory is of having participated in the Lambeth Conference, 2008, a conference where it was made widely clear that we would have a non-legislative meeting – no voting. There were a series of meetings held on the proposed covenant, all of which I attended. The points of view expressed about the fourth part of the proposed covenant, which contains a mechanism whereby errant (in the judgment of some larger part of the Communion) provinces could have their status as full and equal members of the Communion reduced, were strongly negative. In our daily Indaba groups (discussion groups of about 40 bishops each), the proposed covenant was a discussion topic on one day. Though there was no voting, as advertised, amazingly the report that came out from Lambeth regarding the content of the conference said that a majority of participants favored an Anglican covenant. No mention was made of the opinions expressed in the meetings focused on the proposed covenant.
Read it all.
Rowan’s style has been private and unstrategic. Once, questioned about strategy, he responded crossly ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit!’, seemingly oblivious to the possibility that the Spirit might work through long-term planning. Maybe that’s what we needed then. Certainly nobody doubts that he leads by example in his life of prayer and self-discipline. But we now need consultation, collaboration, and, yes, strategy. Despite routine pessimism, the Church of England isn’t finished. In a sense, it’s just getting going. We need someone with vision and energy to pick up from where Rowan’s charismatic style has led us and to develop and deepen things from there.
A new Archbishop must be allowed to lead. Yes, there are deep divisions. Part of the next Archbishop’s task will be to discern and clarify the difference between the things that really do divide and the things that people believe will do so but which need not. But, at the same time, there are problems of structure and organization that slow things down and soak up energy, problems that can and should be fixed so that the church and its leaders can be released for their mission, and to tackle properly the problems we face.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Windsor Report / Process * Theology Pastoral Theology
As Williams began his tenure as archbishop in 2003, though, the ordination of Robinson sent the issue of gay bishops to the head of the agenda. By last summer, with the Lambeth Conference approaching, schism seemed inevitable. Some bishops opposed to homosexual clergy held a rival conference in Jerusalem, denouncing Williams as a liberal pawn. Traditionalists announced plans to “go over” to the Roman Catholic Church or form their own church unless Williams got rid of Robinson. Gay activists circulated an old essay by Williams in which he had eloquently celebrated gay and lesbian relationships; the commentariat mocked him as a holy fool for some approving remarks he had made about Islamic law. Friends of Williams said he might resign. “God has given you all the gifts,” one friend told him, “and as your punishment, he has made you archbishop of Canterbury.”
The schism hasn’t come—not yet. The Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest group of Christians after the Catholics and the Orthodox, is still standing—a “hugely untidy but very lovable” body, in the words of its most famous member, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel laureate. But its unity has been compromised. In December, a half-dozen bishops broke with the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and announced their plans to found a rival Anglican Community for North America.
It is now, with his office under pressure from both left and right, that Rowan Williams’s real work is beginning....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts Global South Churches & Primates GAFCON I 2008 Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
...a sort of evangelistic outreach is planned in conjunction with the rollout of the documentary. Robinson said moviegoers should not expect to see Love Free or Die in many theaters. Instead, the plan is to make a DVD available to individuals and congregations through the film’s website, with an emphasis on group showings for “the movable middle.”
“We are asking that everyone who sees the movie invite a person — a family member, a coworker, a former classmate — who are among that large group of people who for the most part love us — they know us, they think positively about us — but they still go in the voting booth and vote against us,” Robinson said. “You know about that here in California.”
Robinson repeatedly referred to an iconic “Aunt Betty” as the film’s target audience. “Make it your project this year to call them up and say, ‘Aunt Betty, you remember how we had that little altercation at Thanksgiving? Can I get you out for coffee, and let’s talk about that?’” Robinson said. “And then, it looks as if this will be showing on PBS in the fall, and … we’re working on getting it shown on Thanksgiving weekend. So you’ll be at home with Aunt Betty, and you can have a better conversation this time.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Media Movies & Television Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships
“It’s through marriage that people should enter into true sexual life. It’s not the process of re-inventing the third person because God did not invent the marriage between two same-sex persons as the cases in homosexuality and lesbianism.” He admonished those practising it to repent and come out of it because it’s evil.
The cleric argued that if God considered that yet another man was what Adam needed as companion and help mate in the Garden of Eden, He would have created another man, not a woman for Adam, stressing that, “He did not do that but rather created a unique person in the form of a woman different from the man.”
He lamented that there is moral decadence pervading the labyrinth of society in so much a way that hitherto despicable acts like lesbianism and homosexuality are gradually being decorated with public appeal and now receiving tolerance and even applause in today’s society.
Read it all (another from the long queue of should-have-already-been-posted material.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
The end of conciliarism, which accords with the practice of the early church, is to be regarded as tragic. The Anglican tragedy, like its medieval counterpart, may be seen as stemming from the reluctance of the central authority to relinquish or even dilute its control. This reluctance is not necessarily a matter of perversity, however. To be sure, the reluctance of Anglican Communion Office, instanced by their keeping the ACC in line in Jamaica, has seemed motivated by a desire to avoid offending TEC, which provides much of their funding. But from their perspective TEC’s financial support may appear essential for the proper functioning of the Communion. They have seemed concerned also to avoid alienating the liberal wing of the Church of England. But this may be not just out of ideological predisposition. It may also reflect a belief that the CofE could not afford the resulting exacerbation of its divisions.
To Archbishop Rowan himself, with his brilliant mind, deep learning, and winning personality, such considerations may have less application. The explanation in his case may lie more in his espousal of a theology militating against closure on any issue, and thus supportive of the inclinations of the Anglican Communion Office, as of the interests of TEC, by default. Charles Raven, in his 2010 book Shadow Gospel: the Theology of Rowan Williams and the Anglican Communion Crisis, made an impressive case to this effect. As for Rowan’s adherence to such a theology despite all his sophistication, being essentially an academic, without secular or even significant parish experience, perhaps limits his awareness of the outside world.
If, then, there is to be a revival of Anglican conciliarism, it will have to come not from the Instruments in their now compromised state but instead out of churches of the Global South, together with their Western allies. These churches have laid a basis for it already in Gafcon, their conference in Jerusalem in June 2008. There the Spirit was clearly at work, producing conciliarly the extraordinary Jerusalem Declaration. So far, despite the South-to-South Encounter in Singapore in April 2010 and the CAPA meeting in Uganda last August, the Global South leaders have not followed up on it. But by absenting themselves from the Dublin Primates’ Meeting and thereby sealing its irrelevance, they have taken on a responsibility to do so. For the sake of conciliarism and of Anglicanism itself, they need now, in American terms, to step up to the plate.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Consultative Council Anglican Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
John Sentamu needs to stay at York and not be sent to Canterbury, an archiepiscopal see of dubious seniority, anyway. He needs to stay at York because of the Lambeth Conference. This is a once-every-10-years get-together of all the archbishops and bishops of the world-wide Anglican Communion and the next such shindig is in 2008.
It will, however, be almost entirely a waste of time and money, a squabble over various matters, particularly homosexuality and, more specifically, bishops with same-sex partners.
It will be an occasion when we shall witness an almighty, ungodly showdown between tradionalists and liberals. And it will probably lead to the final break-up of the Anglican Communion, already seriously fractured over the gay issue.
--Michael Brown, the Yorkshire Post's Religious Affairs Correspondent, in a column on October 19, 2006
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
In a joint statement issued after a "Consultation of Bishops in Dialogue" meeting held in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania the church leaders said they had shared testimonies about partnership mission work. Through this a common thread had emerged "our experience of finding ourselves in each other."
"Across the globe, across the Communion, we actually really need one another," the bishops' statement said. "We are stronger in relationship than when we are apart. This, we believe, is a work of engaging in Communion building rather than Communion breaking. In the words of the Toronto Congress of 1963 we are engaged in living in 'mutual responsibility and interdependence' (Ephesians 2:13-22)".
The bishops hailed from Sudan, Botswana, Malawi, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Canada, the United States and England. They met at the end of February as a group of partner pairs and triads and discussed a range of issues including human sexuality, slavery and tackling poverty.
Read it all.
Update: An ENS article appears here also.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Burundi Anglican Church of Canada Anglican Church of Kenya Anglican Church of Tanzania Church of England (CoE) Episcopal Church (TEC) Lambeth 2008 * International News & Commentary Africa Kenya Tanzania
Primates from the Global South are contemplating a boycott of the next Primates’ Meeting because the US Presiding Bishop, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, will be present.
The Archbishop of the Indian Ocean, the Most Revd Ian Ernest, has confirmed that he will not attend the meeting, due to take place in Dublin, 25-31 January.
Archbishop Ernest said last week that he had written to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the summer to convey his distress at the election in the United States of the Rt Revd Mary Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, as Bishop of Los Angeles. He had urged Dr Williams to exclude Dr Jefferts Schori from future Primates’ Meetings.
“There were conditions attached in that letter,” he said last week, “and I can confirm I will not attend if those conditions are not fulfilled.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Anglican Provinces Anglican Province of the Indian Ocean Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
The Rev. Stockton Wulsin, pastor of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Evanston, resigned effective Sept. 30.
He told his congregation in a letter dated July 19 - the same day the church's Vestry issued a letter to church members confirming that it had accepted the resignation.
In his letter, which Wulsin said was not intended for the public, the priest cited two reasons for his decision. "The Anglican Communion has been in a state of crisis for several years over the choice of the American Episcopal Church to ordain bishops living in openly homosexual relationships and to pronounce liturgical blessings on people living in same sex relationships."
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Ecclesiology
Christians in the West have just finished celebrating Pentecost, the feast which marks the day the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and rendered them able to speak om foreign languages
But in the schism-torn Anglican Communion there has been a little less hand-waving than usual. Instead there has been the descent of the Archbishop of Canterbury in admonition of his church, in a letter where he gives tongue to uncharacteristic displeasure.
After years of suffering the spectacle of the conservative and liberal members of his Communion fight a towering Babel-like war of words over sexuality, in which neither side has ever seemed truly to understand the others, Dr Rowan Williams has finally been moved by the spirit of the times to act....
Read it all.
We have for years in the Anglican Communion operated a tacit rule of agreeing to differ about many things but trying not to do or say things which will cause other Anglicans to stumble. The Lambeth Conference has been the main instrument of this process: broad agreement can be reached on major issues while the provinces retain autonomy in their own lives. Thus, for instance, the Lambeth Conference agreed that it was all right to admit children to Communion prior to Confirmation, which then opened up the question for any individual Province to discuss, as most now have. Our own General Synod repeated Lambeth’s point, so the issue was then passed down to dioceses. Our own Diocese in turn agreed, so the issue has now become a matter for individual parishes. That is a model of how you discern that something is adiaphora, and how you deal with the issue once that has been decided, respecting consciences all the way through. It highlights again this key point: the question of whether a particular issue is adiaphora or not cannot itself be adiaphora. It wouldn’t have done for the Parish of St-Muddy-by-the-Sea to decide independently that the question of unconfirmed children receiving Communion was adiaphora and then proceeding to take its own decision without reference to its diocese, its province, or the whole Communion.
This is the point which emerges with great clarity from St Paul. He is not at all advocating what we today call ‘tolerance’ – a loose, flabby laissez-faire approach which shrugs its shoulders and says ‘just do your own thing’. His aim is not the creation of several different communities each going its own way, but of one single Body of Christ. In that single family, practices that would divide Christians from one another on ethnic grounds are to be treated as adiaphora, however vital and mandatory they may have been for the Jewish people – not least Paul himself in his Pharisaic past! – prior to the coming of the Messiah. At the same time, that same goal – the creation and maintenance of the one Body of Christ – demands new standards of life to which all must conform, in relation to which pagans in particular will experience a considerable moral challenge. These new standards, spelt out in letter after letter, are not adiaphora. They – I am thinking of patience and practical love, of purity both in speech and in sexual behaviour – may not be as central as the Trinity or the Atonement, but they remain mandatory.
Here then is the point, which meets us on page after page in Paul: the move from something being mandatory to that same thing being non-mandatory (e.g. circumcision), from something being prohibited to that same thing being permitted for those who wish (e.g. eating pork), from something being essential to something being trivial – that move is not itself trivial. It is of the utmost importance. It is essential for Paul that the Jewish food-laws, like circumcision and Sabbath-keeping, are non-mandatory for those in Christ—or, to put it the other way round, that the Jewish prohibitions against eating pork and so on are now lifted. And he explains, again and again, why this particular shift has happened. It isn’t, despite centuries of misrepresentation, that Judaism was a religion of harsh and difficult laws and Christianity was all about getting rid of moral rules and regulations. It is, rather, that God has in Jesus Christ created a single family composed of people from every ethnic background. There are strict new rules for this family, because this family is the new humanity, the re-creation of the human race, the new Genesis; but one of those strict new rules is the complete relaxation of the regulations that would have kept Jews and Gentiles permanently separated. So, to repeat: the question of which things are adiaphora and which things are not, what is essential and what is trivial, is not itself a matter of indifference. It is vital; it is theologically rooted; it has nothing to do with an easy-going tolerance, let alone the assimilation of the church to its surrounding culture, and everything to do with the new humanity which has come into being in the Messiah, Jesus. This is the point we urgently need to grasp in relation to several pressing issues.
All this means that this question, which differences make a difference and which don’t, cannot itself be decided locally.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 * Theology Ecclesiology Theology: Scripture
The arrival of Continuing Indaba on the Internet as part of the Anglican Communion web site makes visible the preparatory work already in hand for the series of pilot conversations between dioceses from different parts of the Communion to take place during 2010 and 2011.
Visitors to the new site will find an outline of the project,, which explains its origins as located within an African conversational method for resolving real or potential conflict through mutual listening and debate. The process emerges from the Indaba-style format used at the 2008 Lambeth Conference which is now being expanded to enhance the world-wide Anglican Communion in its quest to intensify relationships in the cause of shared mission.
These pages carry news of the initial series of ‘hub’ meetings around the world during late 2009 and early 2010 whose remit is to develop resources which can guide and inform the model conversations between participants from dioceses from across the world.
There is also a growing library of the resource papers generated from and through the ‘hubs’ in order to make them as widely available as possible for those wishing to follow the development of the Continuing Indaba conversations planned for 2010 and 2011....
Read it all.
Once in a while comes an historical event so momentous, so packed with unexpected force, that it acts like a large wave under still water, propelling us momentarily up from the surface of our times onto a crest, where the wider movements of history may be glimpsed better than before.
Such an event was Benedict XVI’s landmark announcement in October 2009 offering members of the Anglican Communion a fast track into the Catholic Church. Although commentators quickly dubbed this unexpected overture a “gambit,” what it truly exhibits are the characteristics of a move known in chess as a “brilliancy,” an unforeseen bold stroke that stunningly transforms the game. In the short run, knowledgeable people agree, this brilliancy of Benedict’s may not seem to amount to much. Some 1000 Church of England priests may convert and some 300 parishes turn over to Rome—figures that, while significant when measured against the dwindling numbers of practicing Anglicans there, are nonetheless mere drops in the Vatican’s bucket.
But in the longer run—say, over the coming decades—Rome’s move looks consequential in another way. It is the latest and most dramatic example of how orthodoxy, rather than dissent, seems once again to have taken the driver’s seat of Christianity. Every traditionalist who joins the long and already illustrious history of reconversion to the Catholic Church just tips the religious balance more toward Rome. This further weakens a religious communion battered from within by decades of intra-Anglican culture wars. Meanwhile, the progressives left behind may well find the exodus of their adversaries a Pyrrhic victory. How will they possibly make peace with the real majority of Anglicans today—the churches in Africa, whose leaders have repeatedly denounced the Communion’s abandonment of traditional teachings? Questions like these are why a few commentators now speak seriously about something that only recently seemed unthinkable: whether the end of the Anglican Communion itself might now be in sight.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
Read it all (30 page pdf).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
I have had my own disappointments and outright disagreements with Canterbury’s chosen course of action at various points over the last few years, and I have shared this with him personally. Where some have urged a “bolder” response to TEC, within the limits of his ecclesial and moral authority, I have urged the same thing. But I categorically reject the charges made here that he has set about to undermine agreements made among the Primates, as at Dar es Salaam, or to manipulate and ignore legal processes such as those in place at the ACC last May.
In the first instance, RW was personally a key player (not the only one) at getting the Dar agreement nominally accepted, through face to face persuasion on the floor, as it were. That has been stated by several GS primates present at the time. But the agreement was also made possible by the compromise work of primates who were not personally disposed to aspects of its content, e.g. Australia. The Dar agreement, in other words, was intrinsically fragile, based as it was on temporary dynamics and uncertain internal commitments. The sense of Lambeth, it soon became apparent, was that its prosecution was thereby vulnerable from the start, and at the first sign of withdrawal of strong support outside of the meeting, Lambeth decided that pressing the agreement concretely would be counterproductive to the agreements actual aims. These “signs” included TEC and AMiA both immediately rejecting key provisions, and their allies quickly standing behind them.
I believe that RW gave up too quickly, choosing instead (as he has consistently done) to rebuild alternative consensus for change through other groups (e.g. the Windsor Continuation Group). This is fair game to debate and criticize, it seems to me. But the notion that RW was the skunk in the patch here is, to put it bluntly, a matter of sinners throwing stones. The Primates Meeting had already proved to be, in certain respects, a place where bishops behaved badly, and the fact that it was judged to be a weak reed should surprise no one. I don’t believe it needed to be left at this place, but again, that is matter for debate.
As for the ACC, we all know that the running of this meeting was a procedural disaster that has set back the ACC’s credibility enormously, fanning the flames of suspicion by all and sundry. No one can mitigate that loss of trust or the justifications in general for that loss. But there is a long way between such generally well-founded worries about the ACC’s ability to do its job fairly and well, and condemning this or that individual with deliberate and malicious intent. “Manipulation” there was, I would think, although any precise assessment of blame is not possible to come by. And Canterbury’s role in this demonstrates confusion—albeit deeply regrettable confusion—rather than strategic subversion. Furthermore, the outcome with respect to the Covenant strikes me as a sign of recognition of this fact: amazingly expeditious revision, and starkly restrained in its focus. People don’t seem to admit mistakes much anymore in public; but the manner of this outcome adds up to an admission of sorts. That is my read of the matter, and I don’t think it is particularly pollyannish. Not, that is, in the face of the anti-Stalinists and anti-Czarists faced off against each other.
I remain convinced that those leaders—bishops, clergy, and laity—who can order their service to the church for the long haul, steadily and solidly faithful, ordered, engaged in commonly established processes of ecclesial life, honest and charitable, and perseverant in their commitments within and for the sake of the people shared (not just locally), will prevail. That is a promise of the Lord, it seems, to “those who endure to the end”. People like Abps. Chew and Mouneer Anis presently, or Gomez recently; and others. And, for all my concerns about this and that, Rowan Williams too has demonstrated a perserverence that is bound to his faith in Christ Jesus as Lord, and not to self-interest. From that certainly I can be strengthened. So should others be, whether or not they can affirm his decisions in this or that particular matter.
Thus ++Rowan played true to his role as Archbishop of Canterbury, while Bishop Griswold, enthusiastically supported by the same-sex activists in ECUSA, arrogated to himself the right to act in derogation of the bishops of Lambeth. Both did so despite the scorn which each thereby called upon his decision -- although the collective scorn heaped upon ++Rowan has never ceased, while that allocated to Presiding Bishop Griswold ended with his retirement. By remaining on the stage, and what is more by remaining steadfastly true to the limitations of his position, Archbishop Rowan has remained the sole target on which both sides could vent their anger. Hence he is in the impossible part of a "first among equals" who is now seen as neither "first" nor "equal".
Meanwhile, back at ECUSA, the Most Reverend Frank Griswold has given place to the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori. If Bishop Griswold arrogated to himself the right to act in derogation of his colleagues at Lambeth, Bishop Jefferts Schori seized the opportunity to so to act even before she had ever gone to Lambeth and met her equals. What is more, she has from the outset of her term in office presumed to act in derogation of her own equals in her own Church. The result has been a double usurpation of authority: where ++Griswold claimed only the right to consecrate a duly elected bishop in defiance of the advice of Resolution 1.10, ++Jefferts Schori has not only announced that she will do the same if the requisite consents for Canon Glasspool are received, but she also has made herself the sole arbiter of whether a bishop who transfers to another Church in the Anglican Communion thereby renounces his orders.
In presuming to claim that the Right Reverend Henry Scriven so renounced his orders in transferring from the Diocese of Pittsburgh to the Diocese of Oxford, and in recently declaring that the Right Reverend Keith Ackerman had done the same in resigning the Diocese of Quincy and going to work under the Bishop of Bolivia, the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA has effectively declared that she alone will be the judge of who can become, and who can remain, a bishop in the Episcopal Church (USA) -- regardless of what her equals in the Communion may believe. They are, to that extent, no longer her equals, but only bishops to be tolerated if they stay out of her way, to be ignored if they presume to disagree, and to be denounced and punished by any means possible if they try to hinder or interfere.
When one bishop so distorts the polity of the Communion as to claim the power to decide status without regard to the opinion -- nay, the full consensus -- of the other bishops in the Anglican Communion, what we have is no longer a Communion, but an autarchy.
Read it carefully and read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology
The spiritual leader of the global Anglican Communion issued an unusually sharp and swift rebuke to Episcopal Church leaders over the election of an openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.
In a terse statement, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams delivered a warning to bishops, clergy and lay representatives of the U.S. church about the confirmation of the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, a lesbian who has been in a partnered relationship for two decades.
Glasspool must still gain a majority of votes from bishops and standing committees of clergy and lay leaders in the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the worldwide communion. That voting process will unfold over the next four months as U.S. leaders consider Glasspool and another priest, the Rev. Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce, who was picked for a second "suffragan," or assistant bishop post in Los Angeles.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.
The process of selection however is only part complete. The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees. That decision will have very important implications.
The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
Good morning. What I have been asked to do this morning is to report on where we are at this point of time in the Anglican Communion. It’s a fairly complicated picture so I hope I will be given the gift of clarity as I talk to you about this. Since the last time I reported to Synod on these matters, six things have happened. I want to delineate those six things and comment on them and then conclude by talking about a situation which at the moment is absolutely no threat to the Uganda Link but is a potential cause of difficulty in relation to our relationships with the Church of Uganda.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Church of Uganda Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
The initial meeting between Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of the Diocese of El Camino Real and Bishop Michael Perham of Gloucester, England, at the 2008 Lambeth Conference was an auspicious one. When a protester jumped up and called Bishop Gray-Reeves “a whore of the church,” Bishop Perham stepped in to help his new American acquaintance around the protesters and on to safety.
This frightening encounter brought together two parts of what has become a trio of bishops — the third is Bishop Gerard Mpango of the Western Tanganyika Diocese in Tanzania — who have linked up as companion dioceses. The combination of American, British and African dioceses is intentional. The three locations encompass three regions of discontent in the Anglican Communion. By meeting, talking and working together, the three bishops hope to show that people of different cultures, and these three cultures in particular, can maintain civil relations and look for answers to divisive issues.
“We want to hold together when the Communion is threatened,” Bishop Perham said.
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The Anglican Consultative Council had a constitutional obligation towards the costs of the Conference, but had stopped putting money aside for the Conference since 2004, spending it instead on new offices.
The £1.6 million left over from 1998 and from setting money aside up to 2004 did not cover the expected £2.5-million rise in the cost to £6.1 million. In the event, because of the shortfall in the number of bishops who attended, the final cost was £5.2 million.
“To commit expenditure in advance of secure income was a practice that the directors of an entirely stand-alone company might have regarded as too risky. In doing so, it appears therefore that those involved have proceeded on the expectation that the Anglican Communion and in particular Church of England bodies . . . would not ultimately let the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Conference fail to pay its bills.”
The Commissioners were worried as early as May 2006 that they would be landed with the bill.
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Poor planning, inexperienced management, and weak financial controls contributed to a £288,000 deficit for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, a report released last week by the Archbishops' Council and the Church Commissioners has concluded.
The management team, conference structure and business practices were not up to the job, the report found, stating that the “arrangements in place for the 2008 conference were less robust than they needed to be.”
The conference's opaque management structure had left no one in charge, with the result that there had been a “disconnect between design on the one hand, and capacity and execution on the other.” The lack of clear lines of authority had led to cost overruns, with the financial team “not always aware” of the commitments made by conference management staff. Two examples cited by the report were the “failure to recognise a commitment for expenditure of £411,000 on the Big Top” the blue tent that served as the principle venue for conference meetings, and IT support.
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The Board of Governors of the Church Commissioners and the Archbishops' Council each agreed, last August, to make available to the Lambeth Conference Company up to £600,000 as required to enable the Company to honour its commitments while fundraising efforts continued. Both bodies regarded these amounts as interest free loan facilities. Of the £388,000 actually borrowed by the Company, £124,000 has now been repaid, leaving £132,000 owing to each organisation as fundraising continues.
By the end of 2008, the review reports, the projected deficit had reduced from an estimate of over £1 million in August 2008 to £288,000, in part as a result of further fundraising efforts and in part due to actual costs proving lower than had been cautiously projected earlier in the year. The total cost of the event was £5.2million, as against the budget of £6.1million.
Read it all and make sure to follow the links to the report and the appendices.
These two key dimensions of our vision, however, must be carried out with Another Fundamental Dimension of our diocesan life. Our constitution reads “The Church in the Diocese of South Carolina accedes to and adopts the Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church….” The relationship is there—though we may understand how it needs to be carried out in different ways. Certainly many of us in this diocese, but let us remember by no means all, have been on a very different course from the policy setters at recent General Conventions. The Standing Committee and I, following the path trod by Bishops Allison and Salmon, have felt compelled on several occasions to differentiate ourselves from statements or actions of various leaders in TEC—such as compromises toward the Uniqueness of Christ; certain non-Canonical actions of the Presiding Bishop and the HOB; as well as the controversies regarding Human Sexuality. I anticipate the continued need for such differentiation in the months and years ahead.
Beyond differentiation there is important witness still left to do, and from which I believe God has not yet released us. I believe the House of Bishops, and the Executive Council, following the lead of General Convention 2006 has resisted the change that the Holy Spirit seems to be urging us toward as Anglicans—such as, the call toward a more responsible autonomy and inter-provincial accountability. Yet these bodies have fearfully protected the prior century’s polity and structure when 21st Century structures are needed. It continues to astonish me that so many leaders in our Church favor revision of our doctrinal and moral teaching and yet uphold relatively recent canons and polity with a fervor that would be admirable if held toward the fundamental teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles. This heel-dragging protectiveness was shown clearly in New Orleans in 2007 when the HOB refused to adopt the Primates’ Communiqué from Dar es Salaam, arguing that it was contrary to the polity of our Church. The bishops were soon followed by the Executive Council, therein making it difficult if not impossible for the Presiding Bishop to follow through with the Primates’ directives. If we had received the Primates’ recommendation the four dioceses which have since left would be intact and in TEC today! Even more recently, this fear was shown afresh when individual bishops who seemingly have little respect for the Windsor Process and the Anglican Covenant accepted the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury to attend Lambeth and then spoke against any progress towards a Covenant. They will not be able to hold back the future of global Anglicanism permanently. Either Episcopalianism will repent of its unscriptural autonomy or it will spread its splintering tendencies of the last forty years throughout the Anglican Communion.
I believe our steadfastness will be of service within TEC—if only by challenging the structural conservatism of the theological innovators to face the changes of the future. Even more importantly it will be of service for the Anglican Communion as it moves towards the emerging structures God is providentially shaping.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * South Carolina
American Church leaders claimed this week that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s new group of Pastoral Visitors is ‘too little, too late’. As the number of lawsuits between the Episcopal Church (TEC) and breakaway conservative groups approaches 60, some say the initiative – intended to help repair the torn fabric of the Anglican Communion – lacks integrity.
The names of the bishops who will act as ‘mediators’ were announced this week by Lambeth Palace. The statement said that the bishops had attended a meeting at Virginia Theological Seminary in the USA from February 25 – 28. The purpose of the new group is to assist in healing the current tensions in the Anglican Communion by holding ‘face to face’ meetings with church leaders in both the new American provinces and TEC.
But the Rev Philip Ashey, Chief Operating Officer for the American Anglican Council, a grouping of conservative Anglicanism, was deeply concerned about Lambeth’s response. Speaking from Atlanta, Georgia, he said: “Every pastoral visitor programme suggested so far has ...[omitted] the participation of the parties who have been aggrieved, those people who have left TEC.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
Added to what at least appears to be a communiqué ‘spin’ on Archbishop Coggan’s 1978 address, in a press briefing last week the Archbishop of Canterbury referred to a "need for a shift of focus in the life of the Communion from autonomy of provinces with communion added on, to communion as the primary reality with autonomy and accountability understood within that framework". Precisely what that implies remains somewhat mysterious, but one can see the direction in which such a comment points. There is a slippery slope here, and it is important that the Primates’ Meeting should remain essentially for the purposes of consultative fellowship. The Anglican Communion should avoid a formal College of Primates.
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This is only one example of what people do not want to lose in the life of the Communion. And it is a good Pauline principle, if you read II Corinthians, that we should be glad of the honour of being able to support other churches in their need. Who knows whether some other structure than the Communion as we know it might make this possible? But the bare fact is that what now, specifically, makes it possible is the Communion we have, and that is not something to let go of lightly. Hence the difficult but unavoidable search for the forms of agreed self-restraint that will allow us to keep conversation alive – the moratoria advised by Lambeth, very imperfectly observed yet still urged by the Primates as a token of our willingness not to behave as if debates had been settled that are still in their early stages at best.
The Communion we have: it is indeed a very imperfect thing at the moment. It is still true that not every Primate feels able to communicate at the Lord's Table alongside every other, and this is indeed a tragedy. Yet last week, all the Primates who had attended GAFCON were present, every one of them took part in daily prayer and Bible study alongside the Primates of North America and every one of them spoke in discussion. In a way that I have come to recognise as very typical of these meetings, when talk of replacing Communion with federation of some kind was heard, nearly everyone reacted by saying that this was not something they could think about choosing. We may have imperfect communion, but we unmistakably want to find a way of holding on to what we have and 'intensifying' it – to use the language I used last summer about the proposed Anglican Covenant. Somehow, the biblical call to be involved with one another at a level deeper than that of mere affinity and good will is still heard loud and clear. No-one wants to rest content with the breach in sacramental fellowship, and everyone acknowledges that this breach means we are less than we are called to be. But the fact that we recognise this and that we still gather around the Word is no small thing; without this, we should not even be able to hope for the full restoration of fellowship at the Eucharist.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Identity Anglican Primates Primates Meeting Alexandria Egypt, February 2009 Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Lambeth 2008 * Theology Ecclesiology Sacramental Theology Eucharist
The two understandings of discipline and the roles of Canterbury and the Primates collided at the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam in February 2007. The early rounds of the conflict went to Rowan Williams, who had invited Presiding Bishop Katherine Schori despite a recommendation in the Dromantine Communiqué that Episcopal Church officials refrain from attending Communion events until Lambeth 2008. He then set the agenda of the meeting with only four hours devoted to the Episcopal Church’s reaction, and he endorsed a Joint Standing Committee report which claimed that the Episcopal Church had satisfied the conditions of the Windsor Report and the Dromantine Communiqué.
At this point, the Global South Primates interrupted the set agenda and pushed back. The final Communiqué was surprisingly strong, in which the Primates “unanimously” [made their recommendations]....
For a few brief weeks, it appeared that a final separation was imminent. Then Canterbury struck back:
1. by issuing invitations to Lambeth 2008 to all Episcopal bishops except Gene Robinson (May 2007);
2. by accepting an invitation to the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans (September 2007) and commissioning a report from the Joint Standing Committee that was not part of the Dar “process”;
3. by denying by word and deed that September 30 was a real deadline; and
4. by giving the Episcopal Church a weak pass in his Advent 2007 letter, which was all that was necessary to get it over the hurdles posed by the Dar Communiqué.
Most significantly, in the year intervening between Dar and Lambeth 2008, Archbishop Williams refused to call a follow-up Primates’ Meeting, despite the clear expectation in the Communiqué that he would reconvene the Primates to judge the Episcopal Church’s response and despite an urgent appeal from the Global South Steering Committee that he do so. Apparently the Archbishop had concluded from the Dar es Salaam Meeting that the Primates’ authority had been enhanced too much and that they needed to be relegated to the B-league as an honorary council of advice. The hope of Communion-wide discipline of those who had broken fundamental Christian doctrine had evaporated in a cloud of verbiage and dithering.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
At the core of the present fragmentation in the life of the Anglican Communion has been an avoidance of the conciliar process beyond the national level and an elevation of provincial autonomy over catholic consensus through the councils of the wider church. The conciliarist principle holds that local option must submit to the consensus of the wider church, which represents the whole church, not just a segment of it. Lesser synods must submit to the decisions of greater synods. Though the Anglican Communion has the structures in place that could promote conciliarism as a way of addressing current controversies, particularly the Lambeth Conference of Bishops and the Primates’ Meeting, these instruments of unity have been prevented from functioning in an effective way.
The Windsor Report (2004) proposed a conciliar approach to addressing the crisis prompted by the Robinson consecration and the blessings of same sex unions in North America. However, the Archbishop of Canterbury refused to discipline offending bishops by not inviting them to participate in the Lambeth Conference. The Primates’ Meeting was prevented from following through on the moratoria demands they had made of the Bishops of The Episcopal Church in their Dar es Salaam Communiqué (2007), and the 2008 Lambeth Conference was carefully orchestrated to prevent the Bishops from acting as a council of the church to address the sexuality crisis that has so deeply divided us.
Until the Anglican Communion addresses the prevailing system of elevating provincial autonomy over all else, we will be unable to function as a conciliar church and address controversy as a truly catholic body. Any claim to autonomy must be understood within the context of what it means to be a part of the larger body of the church catholic. There are limits to provincial autonomy that fall short of independence from the rest of the church and the principle of common consent. When we speak of autonomy, it is always autonomy in communion and interdependence. This has been made more difficult to address in light of the fact that the Lambeth Conferences have intentionally been designed to act merely as conferences, without legislative or canonical authority. They have not been seen as councils or synods of bishops with anything but a certain kind of moral authority. And when Lambeth resolutions are rejected or ignored, as in the last decade, there are no consequences, no discipline, and no accountability. Instead of discipline for American and Canadian bishops who openly rejected the teaching of the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1:10 and refused to comply with the recommendations of the Windsor Report, Archbishop Williams and his planning committee decided that Lambeth 2008 just would not adopt any resolutions or make any recommendations. We would simply have carefully orchestrated indaba groups and times for honest sharing of feelings.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
The theme of Lambeth was “Equipping Bishops for Leadership in Mission and Strengthening Anglican Identity”. Each day began with a celebration of the Eucharist followed by a study of the “I Am” sayings in the Gospel according to John. Much of our time was spent in “Indaba”. Indaba is an African word meaning a meeting for purposeful conversations among equals. In those circles we discussed a wide range of topics including evangelism, the authority of scripture, sexuality, a covenant for the Anglican Communion, ecumenism, and social justice.
The matter of blessing same-sex unions was very much a part of discussions in the conference. In the Reflections report produced by the conference it was noted that a strong majority of bishops present agreed that moratoria on same-sex blessings and cross-provincial interventions were necessary. In a letter following the conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury acknowledged that while the majority of bishops had spoken that way, “they were aware of the conscientious difficulties this posed for some and that there needs to be greater clarity about the exact expectations and what can be realistically implemented. How far the intensified sense of belonging together will help mutual restraint remains to be seen”.
At the fall meeting of the Canadian House of Bishops we had a full discussion of the call for moratoria and issued a statement in which we said, “a large majority of the House can affirm the following:
“A continued commitment to the greatest extent possible to the three moratoria – on the blessing of same-sex unions, on the ordination to the episcopate of people in same-sex relationships and on cross-border interventions – until General Synod 2010. Members of this House, while recognizing the difficulty that this commitment represents for dioceses that in conscience have made decisions on these matters, commit themselves to continue walking together and to hold each other in prayer…
“We ask for your continuing prayers as we steadfastly seek to discern the mind and heart of Christ for the wholesome care of all members of his Body, the Church. We share a deep hope that though we may never come to consensus over this matter of the blessing of same-sex unions, we will live with differences in a manner that is marked by grace and generosity of spirit, one toward another.”
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What about the definition of Anglican? In the October issue of First Things, I expressed the hope that last summer’s Lambeth Conference, and particularly the leadership of Archbishop Rowan Williams, gave strong evidence that the center of the Anglican communion intended to hold together; that the Episcopal left and the GAFCON right would not, in fact, carry the day and so lead the communion ever-further down the road to fragmentation and incoherence. Since that time, most of the action has been on the GAFCON and Bishop Duncan side; and the more influence they have, the less chance there is of an eventual coming-together of things.
But the ball is now in center court, as it were—this February’s meeting of the Anglican primates will be crucial, as will the meeting of the Covenant Design Group in April and the Anglican Consultative Council’s meeting in May. If Anglicanism is truly to mean something beyond the local, these meetings will carry forward the Lambeth vision of a genuinely covenanted “global” and “catholic church,” with its ministry, faith, and sacraments “united and interdependent throughout the world,” as Rowan Williams has put it.
There are, of course, no guarantees. The forces of dissolution and division right now are strong, and it is always much easier to pull apart than it is to hold together. The question “Anglican or Episcopalian?” may always be with us; but at the least, we may still be able to hope that the question “What kind of Anglican are you?” will not become just as common.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Common Cause Partnership --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts Global South Churches & Primates GAFCON I 2008 Lambeth 2008 Windsor Report / Process
One friend suggests his refusal to "speak out" is a reflection of Jesus's own approach, especially when Christ refused to answer Pontius Pilate's questions at His trial, as described in Mark's Gospel. "I think that, again, one of the things the Gospel ought to do is make us question the way we put our questions," Williams says. "So that, right throughout the ministry of Jesus as well as at His trial, a hostile person sitting there could say, 'He never gives a straight answer to a straight question: "Do we pay tribute to Caesar?"' And Jesus pushes it back and says, 'What are we really talking about?' I think it's always important to ask before we make the snap answer: what are we really talking about?"
Thirty years ago, Rowan Williams had a formative experience in Liverpool that would help define his approach as a churchman and an archbishop. "When I first went to train in a parish in the 1970s, I went to one of the worst council estates in Liverpool for a bit as part of my student experience, and the vicar said to me something I've never forgotten: 'The people here have doors slammed in their face every day of the week. I want to make sure they don't have another one slammed on the seventh.' That's a very central vision for me and that's what I try to work with."
It is a vision that helps guide him through the crises threatening his church.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Latest News Archbishop of Canterbury Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
Check it out (pdf).
Because of weaknesses of ACC, Donald Coggan called first meeting of Primates. This has been crucial in helping people understand one another and work on issues facing Anglican Communion. It has no legislative power — it is a consultation.
Anglican Communion is facing many things, many challenges, growing in some places, declining in others, making decisions which offend some parts of Anglican Communion and lacking opportunities to dialogue.
Who is an Anglican? Answer, “Does the ABC recognize you?” He only recognizes bishops, by inviting them to Lambeth. Problem for ABC, if he doesn’t invite a bishop, what does it say about the people in that diocese?
ABC has lots of influence, but no power. If a Bishop is behaving notoriously, he cannot remove that person. He can only talk with ABp or Primate of that area and plead with them.
ACC is in same situation. It has influence but no power.
Lambeth Conference is the same. It has influence, but it has no power.
The Primates’ Meeting is in the same situation.
Read it carefully. A couple of comments. First, I prefer very much the category of authority rather than power. Second, it is NOT true to say that the Lambeth Conference, for example, has no authority, it does have authority, the question is what kind of authority does it have. Again, my preference is to talk in terms of personal and moral authority rather than legislative authority. But this is all a matter for further prayerful reflection--KSH.
The first invitation to the Lambeth Conference was given by Archbp. Rowan in May 07. The invitation included the bishops of TEC (except Gene Robinson or those consecrated under the jurisdiction of African provinces to serve in the US with disaffected parishes from TEC). The Windsor process set up to identify what was at stake in the Anglican communion after that consecration in 2003, and how the Communion should respond was still ongoing as TEC had been given until 30 Sept to intimate whether they would be complying with the requests made of them by the Primates meeting which had taken place in Dar es salaam in Feb. They and had not yet done so. Would an invitation to Lambeth before that date be like a letting off the hook? What would the impact of the invitation be in other parts of the Communion. The answer soon came.
The Archbishop of Uganda declared that those who consecrated Gene Robinson, and had not repented or apologised for that consecration, were just as responsible for the breach in the Communion as Gene Robinson himself, and if those TEC bishops were to attend Lambeth neither he nor the other bishops of Uganda would be coming.
Vinay Samuel in his recent address to the Reform Conference identifies this moment, this invitation given to the TEC, as being the trigger for GAFCON. I think he is right about that. At GAFCON in my conversations with African Bishops, this was the moment when they became convinced that nothing would be done to discipline TEC. From then on, other provinces declared they would not be coming to Lambeth.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Global South Churches & Primates GAFCON I 2008 Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
THE ARCHBISHOP of Jerusalem and the Middle East has welcomed Dr Rowan Williams’ decision to hold the 2009 Primates’ Meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, telling The Church of England Newspaper the witness of Egypt’s embattled Christians in the face of persecution can serve to strengthen the Anglican Communion.
While the agenda and locale remain to be settled, the Bishop of Egypt, Dr Mouneer Anis, said he was proud to be able to host the conference. However, suggestions by the Archbishop of Canterbury that he would use the Indaba process to manage the Primates’ Meeting has prompted private scorn from the primates contacted by CEN, and public criticism from evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics unhappy with the ‘manipulation’ and management of the Indaba process at Lambeth.
“I want [the primates] to see, to feel the history of the Church as they walk through Alexandria,” Dr Anis said on Nov 11. For in Alexandria one “steps in the blood of the saints shed in obedience to the faith, a faith that has been watered by the blood of the martyrs.”
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What agenda did emerge? When the Archbishop of Canterbury was asked this question at the closing press conference, he immediately referred to the statement of the Windsor Continuation Group that came at the beginning of the conference.
This called for a complete cessation of
(a) the celebration of blessings for same-sex unions,
(b) consecrations of those living in openly gay relationships and
(c) all cross-border interventions and inter-provincial claims of jurisdiction
The group writes that “cessation of activity. .. applies to practices that may have already been authorised as well as proposed for authorisation in the future. “ The agenda also included the Pastoral Forum, for which bishops from overseas jurisdictions in the United States had not asked.
Had this agenda been discussed with the Primates, or endorsed by the conference? The closing presidential address had enumerated these and received a standing ovation, but not from the Presiding Bishop of TEC who stood with arms folded.
Some bishops probably saw from afar this attempt to produce an agenda out of what were only styled as reflections. The Moderators from the Churches of North and South India, Pakistan and Bangladesh issued their own statement as the conference ended. As other bishops had claimed to represent over half the church going Anglicans, they claimed to “represent nearly a quarter of the human race practicing and living all the major faiths of the world”. In other words, they knew what they were talking about in inter-faith matters. They applauded the walk of witness on world poverty but concluded that this “will mean an equitable sharing of resources within the Communion”. They were saddened and disturbed by the ‘fractured nature of the Anglican Communion’ which “seems primarily to have been caused by the issue of human sexuality……We acknowledge the biblical norms on human sexuality and urge that within the Anglican Communion this may be upheld for the effective witness of the Gospel.” They ask that “our differences, self-justifications and arrogant attitudes may be crucified and that we all experience the power of the resurrection for the transformation of our life together in the Communion.” Primates from the Global South, the Council of Anglican Province of Africa Bishops and the Bishops of Egypt also made public statements as the conference ended. Did this flurry of ‘minority reports’ represent a frustration at not having any opportunity to express a common mind and a protest against the Conference leadership?
Missing most glaringly from the Reflections are the presence of sin and disobedience in the leadership of the communion, clear disobedience to revealed truth in Scripture and a total avoidance of the issues of power in any relationships local or global. Mere repetition of being gracious and not rushing to judgment is the ploy that unethical power uses to mask its strategies of continuing hegemony.
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I remain convinced that to understand the heart of our struggles we need to recognise that there are two distinct but related issues. One is the issue of sexuality and attitudes to Anglican teaching, discernment and practice on this subject as found in Resolution I.10 of Lambeth 1998. The other – in some ways the more complicated one, especially for evangelicals – is the issue of ecclesiology and what it means to be a global communion of Anglican churches....
In relation to North America, GAFCON is clearly seeking to be the means of constituting a new Anglican province. While I am among those who believe this is a sign of failure, it is now the inevitable consequence of developments over recent years and the key task is to ensure it is at least as good a “second best” as possible rather than something worse. The aim must be not only to build the church and spread the gospel in the US and Canada. The aim must also be to establish a structure which, even if initially only recognised by a few provinces, is able and willing, once the Anglican covenant is agreed, to make the necessary affirmations and commitments and so align itself with the newly configured covenantal Communion. The danger is that this development may become – whether intentionally or not - the trigger for a fracturing of the wider Communion and the founding of a more narrowly defined purely confessional fellowship which is shaped less by the ecclesiological vision of Windsor and more by the forces of post-colonialism and hostility to the American church’s response to same-sex unions.
And what, finally, of our own Church [of England]? That is, I take it, where much of our discussion will focus today and I don't want to pre-empt that but a few comments as I close. We would be foolish to deny that the fault-lines in North America and the wider Communion are not present here or to pretend that realignment in these other contexts can take place without effecting us. In particular, if the failings of Lambeth place more weight on the Archbishop of Canterbury, they also place more pressure on the province of which he is Primate. However, it would be both foolish and dangerous to pretend that our own situation is anywhere near as dire as that of either the American or Canadian churches or to claim that we are called to follow their path. The challenge especially for evangelical Anglicans in the CofE is therefore to find a way of maintaining their own unity and rejecting further fragmentation, standing in solidarity with others here in England and across the Communion who are committed to biblical teaching, and supporting the covenant process and all other means of reforming, healing and revitalising the Anglican Communion and serving God's mission in the world.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Common Cause Partnership Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts Global South Churches & Primates GAFCON I 2008 Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology
What we desperately need, if we are to pursue a biblical, Christian and indeed Anglican mission in the postmodern world, is the Spirit of Truth. There is no time to develop this further, but it is vital to say this one thing. We have got so used to the postmodern sneer that any truth-claim is instantly suspect. And at that point many Christians have lurched back to the apparent safety of a modernist claim: conservative modernists claim that they can simply look up truth in the Bible, without realising what sort of book it is, while radical modernists claim they find truth in today’s science, without realising what sort of a thing that is either. But we cannot go back; we have to go on; and the Spirit of Truth, often invoked in favour of any and every innovation in the church, is actually at work when we live within the great story, the love story, God’s love-story, and become in turn agents, missional agents, of that story in the world. Truth is not something we possess and put in our pockets, because truth is grounded in the goodness of creation, the promise of redemption for that creation, and the vocation of human beings to speak God’s word both of naming the original creation and of working for new creation – the word, in other words, of mission. The Spirit of Truth is given so that, living within the great biblical story, we can engage in those tasks.
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We spent several hours in conversation on the implications of the appeal from the Primate.
As a result of these conversations a large majority of the House can affirm the following:
A continued commitment to the greatest extent possible to the three moratoria -- on the blessing of same-sex unions, on the ordination to the episcopate of people in same-sex relationships and on cross-border interventions -- until General Synod 2010. Members of this House, while recognizing the difficulty that this commitment represents for dioceses that in conscience have made decisions on these matters, commit themselves to continue walking together and to hold each other in prayer.
The House also affirms:
A commitment to establishing diocesan commissions to discuss the matter of same-sex blessings in preparation for conversations at General Synod 2010.
Continued commitment to exercise the greatest level of pastoral generosity in keeping with provisions approved by this House in Spring, 2007 and continued commitment to the Shared Episcopal Ministry document approved in Fall, 2004.
We ask for your continuing prayers as we steadfastly seek to discern the mind and heart of Christ for the wholesome care of all members of his Body, the Church. We share a deep hope that though we may never come to consensus over this matter of the blessing of same-sex unions, we will live with differences in a manner that is marked by grace and generosity of spirit, one toward another.
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One final story goes to the heart of the connectedness of the body. At various times I found myself in formal and informal discussions where concerns were voiced about differences in the interpretation of scripture as it relates to the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the Church. I was astonished to hear stories of brutality and murder against Anglican Christians in some parts of the world where Christians and Muslims coexist in an uneasy peace. We were told that clergy and their families as well as lay members of congregations are regularly targeted to be beaten and/or killed after a news report reached their area from the “west” about gay marriage or other actions which appear to the perpetrators as direct acts against God.
I can tell you that none of the bishops I spoke with asked us to undo what has been done. None of the bishops I spoke to were willing to tear apart the Communion over their disagreement with us. However, I must share with you that they did ask us to slow down, and in the midst of our pursuit for justice remember to seek justice for those whose lives are lost in response to some of the actions we have taken; actions we call righteous. How our relationships with others in the Anglican Communion are defined as we step off into the future are as yet unclear. I know only that we must put our whole faith and trust in God.
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It could have been called the “Seinfeld Conference.” The once-a-decade gathering of Anglican bishops held this summer in Canterbury—the 2008 Lambeth Conference—was the conference about nothing.
Designed to avoid controversy, Lambeth 2008 set out to make no statements, take no stands, and avoid provoking new conflict within the Anglican Communion. By its own lights, the July 14 to August 3 meeting was a triumph for its organizer and host, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, for during those three weeks the oft foretold crack-up of the Anglican Communion did not happen.
Yet bishops from both the left and right branded the conference a failure. Lambeth 2008 was about nothing, said nothing, and achieved nothing, and by its inaction, the Anglican Communion was left in a worse place than if it had never taken place at all, Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda said.
Divided over issues of doctrine and discipline, with homosexuality garnering the most media attention, the bishops refrained from hurling anathemas at one another and in the end issued a paper expressing mild statements of concern on global warming, poverty, disease, hunger, domestic violence and other generally bad things—while also mildly affirming—in a non-provocative way—generally good things: peace on earth, the brotherhood of mankind, and church unity.
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Warring Anglican bishops could be forced to confront each other in divorce-style "mediation" or conflict resolution, under proposals published today.
Theologians and canon lawyers responsible for drawing up the drafts of a new covenant, a document which is intended to re-unite the divided Anglican Communion around agreed practices and beliefs, have proposed that different forms of conflict resolution be examined to see if any might be suitable for use by Anglican bishops.
The document, drawn up after consultations with the bishops attending Lambeth Conference earlier this year, discusses the various types of conflict resolution that might be suitable.
Possible models include professionals involved in arbitration, mediation and reconciliation.
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One of the things that I re-learned in-depth is that the Episcopal Church probably has the most federal understanding of what the Anglican Communion is and the churches in the developing world have the
most organic, or unified understanding of the Anglican Communion. ... If you’re living in southern Africa and you go to Eucharist in Zimbabwe, you feel like you’re in your church. It feels like one church to them…. From our end of the spectrum, we feel like we’re in a federation of churches that share a heritage. … As they expressed their reaction to our actions, they were also expressing the depth of their sense of communion with us.
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“MORALITY, LIKE ART, means drawing a line someplace,” Oscar Wilde once observed. Anglican bishops historically wield the pen, drawing the line between error and truth, between right and wrong doctrine.
Yet at some point in the mid-20th century, the bishops of the church began to abdicate this responsibility - even before the American Church reformed its ordinal in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, removing the injunction to bishops that they “banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word.”
Where once the church celebrated Anglican comprehensiveness, it now celebrated diversity. Confessionalism morphed into conversation, as those charged with guarding the faith suffered a loss of nerve. The church, like the universities, the arts, literature and other repositories of high culture in the West, was trampled underfoot by the long march of the left through the institutions.
THE 2008 LAMBETH CONFERENCE of Anglican bishops in Canterbury July 16-August 3 was a milestone in this march of relativism. While nothing extraordinary happened - no fist fights or beatific visions - a number of prelates came away from Lambeth realizing the Anglican Communion no longer worked. Its structures were not a place for holy men, but for hollow men: bishops who knew in their hollow hearts they were stuffed with straw, trapped in a purposeless whirl of apathy and spiritual torpor called “dialogue.” The Anglican Communion had finally broken, coming to an end “not with a bang but a whimper.”
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One of the saddest moments of the Conference for me personally occurred in our Indaba when a bishop spoke earnestly of his views on same sex issues with a brief and solemn conclusion. Some minutes after I saw him surreptitiously pass a sheaf of the TEC briefing notes to the TEC bishop seated in front of him. He had parroted one of the ’sample narratives’. I wanted to shout and to cry. Any idea of transparency and trust through Indaba had been tragically thrown in our face. Set piece parroting surreptitiously orchestrated was poisoning our communion. God have mercy on us! Although I spoke to our Indaba facilitator of this privately we, as an Indaba group and Conference, had neither the wit nor the will to address our hiddenness.
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ACNS spoke to the Chairman of the Design Group, Archbishop Drexel Gomez about the Covenant Process.The full transcript is available below:
The Lambeth Commentary to the Saint Andrew’s Draft - what is it exactly?
At the Lambeth Conference, the bishops spent a great deal of time and attention looking at the Saint Andrew’s Draft for the Anglican Covenant - discussing the principle and the text, its merits and demerits. It is very important that their views are made available to the Communion as the Provinces assess the Saint Andrew’s Draft, and so they have now been published in a Lambeth Commentary which has been drawn together by the Covenant Design Group from the materials produced at the Conference.
And what was the reaction of the bishops at Lambeth?
Happily, it has been positive - and I say that as one who is a firm supporter of the current draft. A number of concerns were expressed about how the idea of a covenant might impact on the life of the Communion, but when the bishops looked at the detail, then there was a surprisingly high degree of satisfaction with many parts of the text.
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Following reports of a £1.2m shortfall in the funding of this year’s Lambeth Conference, the Church of England’s Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners have set up a review, under the independent chairmanship of John Ormerod, a former senior partner of Deloitte, to examine the financial management of the Lambeth Conference.
The team has also been asked to make recommendations regarding the future involvement of the Council and the Board of the Church Commissioners in assisting the financing of meetings of the Lambeth Conference. A spokesman for the Church of England told the Gazette: "The inquiry is due to report back to the Council and the Board early in 2009 with a preliminary report on the financial difficulties and how these arose. A final report, examining the way forward, will be produced in summer 2009. The Council and Board have indicated that the inquiry’s report should be published." The membership of the inquiry will be: John Ormerod; the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, and Christina Baxter (both Archbishops’ Council); and Timothy Walker, Third Church Estates Commissioner.
Last August, the Board and the Council met to discuss an approach from the Lambeth Conference Company - the body with responsibility for the finances and administration of the Lambeth Conference 2008 - for financial help.
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In my view they have received too little attention.
Further, when Christians take different sides on theological questions, we cannot all be correct. At the Last Judgment, we all will know God's truth with the greatest clarity. Until then, we can -- we should -- be more alert to how our fellow Christians may be serving God and what we may learn from them.
Another Lambeth Conference has convened and adjourned. Does anyone doubt that most of the tensions within the church will persist in the months and years ahead?
I've often fallen prey to a false assumption that conflict -- whether in my marriage or in the church -- is an inherent evil. I live as a better Christian by remembering this advice from premarital counseling: Conflict is not the problem.
It's in how we respond to conflict that we practice the presence of God -- or the presence of hell. Where do I prefer to dwell in that moment? For what eternal place am I preparing my body and soul?
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Some of us who attended the 1998 Lambeth Conference were not looking forward very much, if I am honest, to the one in 2008. The 1998 Conference, although it produced a lot of useful documents on mission, unity and human rights and a whole range of other subjects, fell apart on the issue of human sexuality towards the end of the Conference. The plenary dealing with Human Sexuality was the only one that refused to accept a report from a group that had been discussing the issue for three weeks and insisted on altering it, thus losing the balance of that carefully crafted document. The result was a bad tempered debate that soured everything. In reality, the issue of human sexuality had simmered under the surface of the 1998 Conference from the outset and that shows that it isn’t just the consecration of Gene Robinson or public rites of same sex blessings in Canada that are wholly responsible for the present crisis in the Communion. Throughout the ’98 Conference groups met in secret on and off campus, pursuing their own particular views on human sexuality and briefing against each other, so that when it actually came to the Resolutions, there was bound to be a conflagration and indeed, there was.
From the outset, the 2008 Conference – the 14th Lambeth Conference to be held, did not appear to have a dangerous under-current simmering beneath the surface. Everyone knew of GAFCON’s meeting, i.e. the meeting of around 200 bishops who had refused the Archbishop’s invitation to Lambeth and who met in Jerusalem beforehand. Everyone knew that Gene Robinson had not been invited; everyone knew that there were different views on sexuality, and everyone knew about the events that had taken place since ’98, yet there seemed to be a genuine desire on the part of everyone to engage constructively with those holding different views. Admittedly 200 Bishops were absent mainly from Africa, one or two from England and Australia but that too needs to be seen in perspective. Uganda was the only Province not to be represented by a bishop and some of the African Bishops had come under intense pressure from their Primates not to come, even though some of them wanted to. (This tells you something about the power of Primates in some Provinces of the Communion and why some of them fail to understand why the whole Communion does not fall into line when they speak).
It helped to know, of course, that nothing would be decided at this Conference – no Resolutions would be passed as has happened at most Lambeth Conferences. It was a return to the intention of the first Lambeth Conference called in 1867 by Archbishop Longley for brotherly counselling and conferring in response to a crisis caused by the Bishop of Natal who believed in a non literal interpretation of the Scriptures....
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The programme was certainly tight and finely controlled. In the event the controversial issues of the Covenant and the Communion, together with issues around human sexuality were left until the last few days. The hope was that the relationships built before we took these issues would help us stick together as we came to confront the differences that still divide the communion. The general opinion was that this did happen. Bishops listened more attentively and heard the different reactions from around the communion and did so in a calm and measured way. That is not to say that no passion was expressed about deeply held convictions.
My experience was to be part of a series of meetings in which it became dear that different situations demanded different responses and there was mutual respect shown for these various positions. They were basically irreconcilable and remained so yet the determination to stay in dialogue and to go on working with these dashing positions was what marked out the potential of our Communion as distinctive.
There is dearly more work to be done but with some hope of a way forward. The fact is that neither of the extreme positions if I can call them that can be expected to give up what they believe God has called them to witness to as part of the life of their Province. There may be a way through but it is not dear yet where it would take us - meanwhile we hold to the position that we are in pending further provision in the Communion to take account of the need for some enlarged thinking. Whether the proposed Pastoral Forum to take over the care of congregations that have chosen to renounce the leadership of their Diocesan Bishop can have any place in this process I personally doubt.
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Today, we feel that the Episcopal Church is viewed by the public through a blurry lens. Their view is distorted by the prominence given in the media to the dispute over wedge issues like gay bishops and female clergy. Press reports of the Lambeth conference or the General Convention inevitably play up these rifts. One might think that all mainstream Episcopal congregations spend most of their time in church discussing how to advance gay and female clergy. For the mainstream congregations that we are familiar with the reality is completely different. Our services focus on the Gospel and the life and teachings of Jesus. We feel that many breakaway parishes don't believe this reality, which is an example of the sort of accusation of false motives and hidden agendas that Guinness decries in his Manifesto.
The rift in the global Anglican Communion can and must be repaired through civil dialogue. This dialogue is impossible when parties refuse to show up at the table as happened at Lambeth. The differences among the vast majority are not as great as portrayed. We and other prominent Episcopalians will release a "Statement of Beliefs" that explains exactly what the beliefs of mainstream Episcopalians are. Among these beliefs are, not only that the risen Christ is "the way and the truth and the life," but also those values that Jesus lived out. He embraced the outcast and downtrodden, believed in inclusion far more than exclusion. He despised most hypocrisy and sanctimony. He believed in equity and justice and Christians making the most of their gifts in service to God. Surely, that represents a common basis for belief far greater than the sum of those points on which we differ.
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The Lambeth ceasefire has collapsed in Canada after the Diocese of New Westminster moved to reassert “control” over two conservative congregations who had broken with Bishop Michael Ingham to join the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC).
On Aug 26 the Dean and Chancellor of New Westminster, acting on behalf of the vacationing Bishop Ingham, invoked the Canadian Church’s Canon 15 and sought to dismiss the wardens and parochial trustees of two parishes: St Matthew’s Abbotsford and St Matthias & St Luke in Vancouver, replacing them with nominees loyal to the diocese.
The diocese had taken these steps “to remove clergy who have left the Anglican Church of Canada rather than accepting the decisions of its local and national governing bodies,” a press statement said.
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The three primates – Archbishop Hiltz, Archbishop de Andrade, and Bishop Jefferts Schori – have repeatedly asked Archbishop Venables to stop meddling in the internal affairs of their provinces. Archbishop Venables has, on his own accord, been providing episcopal oversight to churches that are in serious theological dispute with their respective provinces over the issue of sexuality. Archbishop Williams has said he will do his best to facilitate the request.
In an interview, Archbishop Hiltz said the Canadian bishops will have “a very focused conversation” around how they understand the call for moratoria. He said there are conflicting interpretations on what the moratorium means, with some thinking it means not having any new blessings, and some interpreting it as retroactive, which would require a synod like New Westminster to rescind its 2002 motion that allowed same-sex blessings in their diocese. He added that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent letter to bishops about the moratoria was also “significant.” Archbishop Williams had acknowledged that, while the call for moratoria received support from “a strong majority” at the conference, he was nonetheless aware of the “conscientious difficulties this posed for some.”
Archbishop Hiltz said that the diocesan bishop of New Westminster, Michael Ingham, “rightly pointed out that it’s not for him to rescind the motion; the synod has to debate the issue.” The primate said that he’d be “very surprised if they rescind that motion.”
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A friend who is deeply read in Anglican history and theology predicted that Lambeth 2008 would give a negative response to gay and lesbian people on the matter of their full inclusion in the life and orders of the church and that at Lambeth 2018 the discussion would be about banning women priests and bishops. So far his prediction has come fairly accurately true. On this most perplexing matter dividing our communion, the Lambeth’s Reflections do not even clearly call for continuing dialogue and listening to gay and lesbian people—despite the resolutions of Lambeth 1998.
From a theological perspective, the finest documents to emerge from this Lambeth Conference were the Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential addresses, but it is also clear that many of the other addresses were rich in theological content (eg. the Chief Rabbi’s lecture on Covenant). From an ecclesiological perspective, his decision to make this Lambeth a conference has been, in my view, a major step forward. The Reflections document issued at the end is by its very nature vague, and reflective of the multiplicity of positions on most of the questions that perplex us. This may be a healthy stage of conversation; it offers us all a clearer picture of the range of diversity and contexts in which we seek to live our mission.
More depressing, in my view, is that despite all protestations to the contrary and arguments about confrontation with Islam in Africa and elsewhere, the evangelical side of Anglicanism is leading us more and more toward a form of Christianity which is simply another variant of fundamentalist Islam....
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Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has expressed “frustration” that the Canadian church has not been given an opportunity to present its situation with regards to the blessing of same-sex unions during hearings conducted by a body formed to determine the next course of action for the Anglican Communion to salvage its fractured unity.
Archbishop Hiltz, who attended the once-a-decade conference of the world’s Anglican bishops here, said that it would be “a huge challenge” to merge what has been happening in bishops’ discussion groups, called indaba, with what the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) has been recommending as the way forward for the Communion.
“I think what we’re running into is a kind of difficult rubbing between the indaba process which has been in large measure very conversational, very relational” and the work of the WCG, which is “seeking to find structures and procedures whereby we can remain in communion with one another,” said Archbishop Hiltz.
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The conference was successful in accomplishing the agenda of not talking about the moral and theological vacuum the church has become, [Jeff] Garrety said.
"The archbishop has never spoken out against those married homosexual priests," he said. "Silence on a subject usually means agreement. And the vast majority of the Anglican Communion believes the opposite of him."
Rev. Sean Ferrell said from his understanding of what happened, the conference was a success. Ferrell is rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church.
The archbishop designed the Lambeth conference's format in a way to build relationships, Ferrell said.
"He organized it so bishops could engage and talk together and meet together over Bible studies," he said. "As a result, after spending time together and studying the scriptures together, the bishops didn't do any fighting."
The meeting deepened the relationships of the bishops in the Anglican Communion, Ferrell said.
"Now they have a deeper and stronger relationship with bishops in other provinces in the Anglican Communion," he said. "I find that to be a positive development."
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All the Primates have been sent copies of Dr [Rowan] Williams’s post-Conference reflections; but on Wednesday the promised “bridge-building” letters had still not been sent out. “I know it is being worked on in the office, and it is in process. But the letters have not physically gone out to everyone absent yet,” a source in the Anglican Communion Office said.
The press officer, Canon Jim Rosenthal, confirmed later in the day that they would be sent out at the end of the week.
Dr Williams and Canon Kearon have both been on leave.
The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, who is the newly appointed secretary of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), told The Guardian last week: “At Lambeth there was talk of building bridges, but as far as I know there has been no approach made.”
His remarks followed the publication of a communiqué from the GAFCON Primates’ Council’s first meeting, held in London from 20 to 22 August. The five Primates — of Nigeria, the Southern Cone, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda — who formed the Council said that GAFCON “continues its advance”. They had found no reason “to make us hesitate from the course we are taking”.
They warned that a breach of the three Windsor Process moratoriums supported widely at the Lambeth Conference — no episcopal ordina-tions of partnered homosexual people, no blessing of same-sex unions, and no cross-border incur-sions by bishops — would lead to the Communion’s “fracture”.
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I believe that this gathering had a great chance to move forward in relationship building, and to some extent, as I have mentioned earlier, it did. But when it came to addressing the pressing needs of the Communion to develop a global Anglican strategy to address the issues of disease, poverty, illiteracy, the environment and state-sponsored violence against civilian populations, this conference succumbed to “blaming the victims.” As in 1998, the victims are those whose sexual orientation happens to be different from the majority. It is far easier to blame our divisions and our inability to act as a united Communion to address pressing global issues on those least able to defend themselves. Blaming the least among us continues to divert our attention away from the issues that threaten the very existence of humankind and the environmental health of our planet.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for sacrifices to be made to keep the garment of the Communion together. And for the American and Canadian churches, that clearly means sacrificing once again the full participation of gay and lesbian persons in the life of our church. I for one will not ask for any more sacrifices to be made by persons in our church who have been made outcasts because of their sexual orientation.
This Lambeth Conference could have been a positive turning point for the Anglican Communion, but instead the powers that be chose to seek a middle way that is neither “the middle” nor “the way.” It will therefore be up to bishops from around the Communion who have continuing partner and companion relationships to work toward a more holistic view of the church. The Anglican Communion must face into the hard truth that when we scapegoat and victimize one group of people in the church, all of us become victims of our own prejudice and sinfulness.
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It was made starkly clear by the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) that actions moving toward affirming same-sex unions, including those in the Anglican Church of Canada, have increased the danger of fracture in the Communion. The WCG’s call to observe the Windsor Report’s moratorium on such rites, seconded by Archbishop Williams, was widely supported by the bishops. Most of the bishops also seemed to concur with Archbishop Williams’ challenge to receive the Covenant as the best hope for an enduring Communion. Only as we as a church receive the Covenant positively do we have the best chance of remaining full participants in the Communion. As any marriage counselor will tell you, holding a family together finally means facing hard truths and making sacrifices.
A theme of Archbishop Williams’ addresses was thinking and acting out of “the centre” of our faith. Such a centre implies accountability to one another in important matters of doctrine and practice on behalf of the Church catholic. He said this as centrifugal forces of a confessional right and a revisionist left strain at our Communion. I wonder if Archbishop Williams didn’t have the voice of another melancholic Celt in the back of his mind: “Things fall apart/ the centre cannot hold…”
We give thanks for the bishops’ experiences of unity at Lambeth, and for proposed new means to support it. But will the centre hold? That depends in part on our own church. Time may soon tell.
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Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said he wasn’t surprised with the Lambeth Conference’s call for a moratorium on actions that have led to divisions over sexuality. He said that bishops needed to be honest that this has been “a huge, huge challenge to implement.”
Archbishop Hiltz said that the moratorium and other recommendations are matters for the Canadian house of bishops and the Council of General Synod – the church’s governing body between General Synods – to discuss. Bishops were also presented with a proposal to create a pastoral forum that would create a “safe space” for conservative Anglicans who have left their churches.
There was wide agreement that moratoria on same-sex blessings, the ordination of gay bishops and cross-border interventions by conservative bishops would help to heal the conflict engulfing the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury warned that failure to heed the call would put the Communion “in grave peril.”
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SPRIT: So where from here?
+JMS: It depends much on the will of the Communion. Bishops acting unilaterally do not help this. The future of the Communion depends on those who are willing to forgo what they perceive to be their rights and their prerogatives and agree to live with and for others. We’ve been deaf to that call. It just depends on the will of those who are in leadership and who say, you know, the time has come to work together in unity. As far as I’m concerned as diocesan bishop, we have strong ties and relationships with the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Global South. The Global South bishops invited both Bishop Paul and me to a meeting with them. We cherish those relationships, and we will continue to witness and carry out our part in the Anglican Communion.
+PEL: I don’t know how I can expand upon that. We need to be faithful to the Scriptures and our Lord’s command to go forth into the world, but one of the things I’m trying to live into is what it means to be faithful to the vows I took when I was consecrated. There are some significant vows there. I think the House of Bishops and all bishops would do well to read those every day.
+JMS: It’s hard to know exactly what happened there until — it’s one of those odd things. It’s hard to know what happened at the meeting until you get well beyond it.
+PEL: It’s not unlike Jacob wrestling with God at Peniel (Gen. 32:30). He didn’t know it was God until after the fact. And that’s what sometimes happens during crises. You live into that crisis and do the wrestling — and we did some. I mean, it wasn’t all fun and games. Some hard things were said in those indaba groups.
+JMS: I like that. And I can think of Moses’ supporters saying to Moses after he had gone up on Sinai, “What happened?” We’ll see. It’s sort of the nature of God. God says to Moses, “I will be with you. That’s my name.” That’s all we can do — live in faith that God will be faithful.
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THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION is alive and vibrant.
It has survived another Lambeth Conference, a bit bruised, battered and fragmented. Bishops at Canterbury rallied around pertinent issues of social justice, poverty and the environment, and they reached the only conclusion they could on human sexuality: compromise.
That is what happens within a healthy family: members listen to each other, give a little, take a little, and reach a compromise. The result: both poles in the human sexuality debate are left frustrated and eager to battle another day, but it is the “middle road” – via media -- that has won the day.
The Anglican Communion emerged – as it always does after a Lambeth Conference -- a church struggling to be faithful to scripture and relevant to today’s society. Theologians and church leaders will debate the importance of Lambeth 2008 for some time to come; a sort of ecclesiastical navel-gazing. This issue of The Journal is dedicating an entire supplement to Lambeth.
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Division over homosexuality and women bishops does exist "across the spectrum" within the Anglican Church, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has said - but that is an indication of a church that is facing its challenges.
The archbishop, who returned from the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England, this month, said final decisions had not yet been made on contentious issues such as women clergy and the ordination of gay bishops, but they had been thoroughly discussed.
He acknowledged that there were divisions on these matters within all their dioceses across the world. However, it could not be seen as a split between liberals and conservatives as this was an "artificial divide".
"The reality across the spectrum, not just in South Africa, is that some parts of the communion are wrestling with issues such as ordaining women bishops, which we have done for 12 years already.
"I don't see this as a problem, but an indication of a church that is alive, and prepared to face the contextual realities and their challenges," he said.
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Much of today's building is relatively "modern," about 600 years old, but its history began in 597 A.D. when St. Augustine at the behest of Pope Gregory the Great arrived with 40 monks, built a church and nurtured Christianity on the soil of Britain.
Canterbury became a significant stop on the pilgrim route to Rome, and in 1170 an event occurred that transformed it into a shrine. Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket was murdered by four knights acting, they thought, on the desires of King Henry II. Four years later, Henry himself, wearing sackcloth, was at the altar being beaten by monks as penance for the deed.
When the current archbishop (the 104th) led retreat and worship, he wasn't far from the spot where one of his predecessors embodied a clash between spiritual and temporal power.
The conflicts roiling today's Anglican Communion were present at the conference, but the most valuable contribution Canterbury and the cathedral brought was a sense of perspective. The disagreements are just as real and just as serious as they were 500 or 1000 years ago, but the church as the body of Christ survives and the physical places of Canterbury transmit an awareness that we who are alive today continue to tell the great story of humanity's encounter with the divine. For Anglicans, for Episcopalians, it's not a bad heritage to share.
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Recognizing the division and brokenness which currently exists, the Archbishop of Canterbury stated in his August 2008 Pastoral Letter reflecting on Lambeth, "The Conference was not a time for making new laws or for binding decisions…The Conference Design Group believed strongly that the chief need of our Communion at the moment was the rebuilding of relationships – the rebuilding of trust in one another – and of confidence in our Anglican identity. And it was with this in mind that they planned for a very different sort of Conference, determined to allow every bishop's voice to be heard…"
Unfortunately while ample opportunity was in fact given for bishops to speak during the daily Bible studies, Indaba Groups, self-select sessions, and plenary sessions, the western design of much of the Conference made speaking uncomfortable for many non-westerners and -- as earlier attested to by Archbishop Orombi, the fact that one speaks does not necessarily mean they have been heard. The Anglican Communion has been encouraged for over ten years now to participate in a "listening process" as a means of working through the issues that divide us. While I am a firm believer in the importance of listening, even to those that we disagree with, unfortunately when dealing as we currently are with what I have come to believe are theologically irreconcilable differences in the views passionately held by each side of the debate on issues of the authority of Holy Scripture and human sexuality, I seriously question the chance of reconciliation by those on either end of the theological spectrum, barring a Damascus Road experience by one side or the other. No doubt, each side believes it is the other side that Jesus needs to zap.
This belief was confirmed at Lambeth while listening to some of the debates regarding homosexuality. During one of the sessions, an African bishop made an impassioned call upon the West to restrain from blessing same-sex unions and ordaining individuals engaged in homosexual lifestyles, stating that the Moslem extremists in his country are looking for any reason to attack and kill Anglican Christians. He said the revisionist actions of the West are giving them all the reason they need, resulting in the death and imprisonment of many of his people. Equally passionate, but from the opposite perspective, two Episcopal bishops spoke about justice for their gay and lesbian clergy and people, proclaiming their strong unceasing support for gay rights and that they would not stop the blessing of same sex unions in their diocese.
Unfortunately in many cases, the very ones calling for others to listen are unwilling to listen themselves. For some, the listening process will not be complete or successful until the other side is worn down and finally agrees with their position. Given the current debate on issues of human sexuality, when virtually every argument both for and against homosexual behavior, sex outside of marriage, and abortion have already been made numerous times over, the question ultimately must be asked – When is enough, enough? The longer the debate goes on, the more divided we seem to become and the more distracted we are from proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A major distinction between GAFCON and Lambeth concerning this issue is that for GAFCON, the debate seems to be over, for Lambeth, no end is in sight.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Global South Churches & Primates GAFCON I 2008 Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
While I and a number of others are not in favor of an Anglican Covenant, I believe it is something that is going to happen. Therefore The Episcopal Church needs to be fully part of the conversation which forms it. -- A "document" will be the result of the indaba group conversations, but this should not be interpreted as the last word. There are voices yet to be heard. Each Province of the Anglican Communion will have an opportunity to respond to the document. This will take time.
Many were looking for a definitive outcome of the Lambeth Conference. "What will you tell the people back home?" was a question frequently asked by the press and by visitors to the Conference. I believe the answer to that question has less to do with the issues we wrestled with than with what evolved during the process of Lambeth 2008. My answer is that we moved closer to God, we grounded ourselves in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we realized more fully the importance of a worldwide Anglican Communion. We focused on the spiritual, rather than the political. Those who came to Lambeth with heightened expectations will be disappointed. Under the leadership of Archbishop Williams, we avoided the cultural aspect of creating winners and losers. We agreed that we are Church in different contexts, and we agreed to continue our journey together. I believe Lambeth has been a huge success. It is a beginning, not an end. Our trust in one another is greatly improved and "we" are the outcome of the Conference.
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Second, on the controversial issue of the day regarding human sexuality, there was a very widely-held conviction that premature or unilateral local change was risky and divisive, in spite of the diversity of opinion expressed on specific questions. There was no appetite for revising Resolution 1.10 of Lambeth 1998, though there was also a clear commitment to continue theological and pastoral discussion of the questions involved. In addition to a widespread support for moratoria in the areas already mentioned, there was much support for the idea of a 'Pastoral Forum' as a means of addressing present and future tensions, and as a clearing house for proposals concerning the care of groups at odds with dominant views within their Provinces, so as to avoid the confusing situation of violations of provincial boundaries and competing jurisdictions.
Importantly, it was recognized that all these matters involved serious reflection on the Christian doctrine of human nature and a continuing deepening of our understanding of Christian marriage. A joint session with bishops and spouses also reminded us that broader moral issues about power and violence in relations between men and women needed attention if we were to speak credibly to the tensions and sufferings of those we serve.
Third, there was a general desire to find better ways of managing our business as a Communion. Many participants believed that the indaba method, while not designed to achieve final decisions, was such a necessary aspect of understanding what the questions might be that they expressed the desire to see the method used more widely – and to continue among themselves the conversations begun in Canterbury. This is an important steer for the meetings of the Primates and the ACC which will be taking place in the first half of next year, and I shall be seeking to identify the resources we shall need in order to take forward some of the proposals about our structures and methods.
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The press asked who was running the conference. The Archbishop of Canterbury gave five retreat addresses, three presidential addresses, chaired the five evening plenary presentations from guest speakers, and preached the final sermon. The press were told he was the common figure in meetings of the Design Team, the Anglican Communion Office and Lambeth Palace Staff meetings.
He did not consult the primates before indicating at the final press conference that the future agenda was the moratoria and the pastoral forum. Some bishops noted that the pope always speaks with his bishops rather than to his bishops. There was much speaking of people’s respect, loyalty and affection for Archbishop Williams. If people say that of a primate in Africa, this is regarded as fawning on an autocratic tribal chief. The Lambeth Conference Network in the Anglican Communion seems to have have been overtaken by celebrity culture. Is this style a reaction to criticism of lack of leadership?
The Culture of Lambeth was of Inclusive Church. The opening service was on the theme of diversity in unity. Most self-select sessions were from the liberal perspective. The market place was dominated by gay organisations.
The Archbishop said in his second presidential address: ”And the answer, I hope, is that we speak from the centre. We should try to speak from the heart of our identity as Anglicans; and ultimately from that deepest centre which is our awareness of living in and as the Body of Christ.”
What is the centre which is the heart of our identity as Anglicans? Is it defined by the faith, or is it defined by inclusion?
Traditional Anglican liberalism was founded on core Christian truths and commitments. Secular liberalism denies that truth is possible and urges the equality of every person and their views. Therefore all views can contribute and must be at the table.
Secular liberalism places the value of inclusion over against faithfulness and faith. The claim to speak from the centre must face the challenge of whether the faith that defines the centre is the centre of faith, or the centre of the secular vision of inclusion?
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It is true that the Conference passed no Resolutions, offered no Teaching Statements, and took no votes – on anything. But, on the final afternoon, in his Third Presidential Address, Archbishop Rowan Williams (in the words of one of the senior English Bishops) “decisively tipped the balance for the first time in the Conference.”
Another of the Bishops put it this way, “The Bible Studies and the Indaba groups provided the backdrop for the Archbishop to speak on behalf of the whole Conference. And he did so with remarkable clarity and forcefulness.” Unequivocally, he:
Affirmed the uniqueness of Christ as “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (not “my way,” or “a way”!);
Reaffirmed Resolution 1:10 (from the 1998 Conference)1 as the teaching of the Anglican Communion regarding sexual behavior;
Reiterated the Primates’ call in the 2007 Communique from Dar es Salam for moratoria on the blessing of same-sex relationships, the consecration of priests in same-sex relationships, and the crossing of diocesan borders by Bishops of other jurisdictions; 2
Endorsed once again the development of an Anglican Covenant as “the way forward”....
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Take a look (pdf).
The news of her appointment as the eighth bishop of Christchurch was heralded by a phone call at 4.30 one morning in February and was greeted with "excitement and delight, and a firm prayer to God that `we're in this together You made this happen so don't leave me now'."
[Victoria] Matthews has just returned from the Lambeth Conference, the once-in-a-decade worldwide gathering of the Anglican Church which the Bishop of Nelson, Richard Ellena, described as the "most expensive exercise in futility" he had ever been to.
The 20-day conference was attended by 650 bishops and cost around $15 million to stage but seemed to do little to heal the schism over the appointment of gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.
"I couldn't disagree more," Matthews said of Ellena's comments. "It was a profound gathering. We went in with our differences... but as time went on people began to see they needed to set aside their differences and stay together for the sake of the Church. That's not an exercise in futility."
Matthews is part of the Anglican Communion that agreed at the conference not to go ahead with the blessing of same-sex unions but is open to further discussion on it.
"As I understand it the Anglican Church, in this province, recognises two ways of life. One is marriage, which is between a man and a woman. And the other is celibacy. But if you think I'm going to be the sexual police, you're wrong. I'm not going to be out with my torch peering into people's bedrooms to see what they're up to."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia Anglican Church of Canada Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
The task force established to implement recommendations of the Windsor Report is unlikely to complete its work in time to have any affect on plans by the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh and Quincy to hold second and decisive votes to withdraw from The Episcopal Church this fall.
Despite the Windsor Continuation Group’s call for swift implementation of its proposed moratoria, Archbishop Clive Handford, retired primate of The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East and chairman of the Windsor Continuation Group, said he did not anticipate the group’s work having any sort of official status within the Communion until after the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in May 2009—six months after the last of the three dioceses, Fort Worth, has held its annual convention.
The six-member Windsor Continuation Group was established by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in February 2008. He had proposed formation of the group in his Advent letter to the primates last year.
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The House of Bishops will meet in special session Sept. 17-19 in Salt Lake City, Utah, with the Lambeth Conference being the primary topic on the agenda.
Normally during a Lambeth Conference year there is no fall meeting of the House of Bishops, said Neva Rae Fox, program officer for public affairs at the Episcopal Church Center. But at their March meeting, the bishops felt it was important to meet to debrief after the conference.
Four sessions devoted to Lambeth are on the preliminary agenda, according to Ms. Fox....
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Stephen Crittenden: And ...[Archbishop Rowan Williams] seems to have carried that through with the support of Primates. In fact like Phillip Aspinall from Australia, he made it fairly clear he was behind it. So there seems to have been at least a central group who was in favour of pursuing that right through the conference and out the other side.
Bruce Kaye: Absolutely. And the second thing he saw support for was what he called his 'pastoral forum', designed to help people who are minorities in particular provinces. And then he said a number of other things, how the instruments of communion work, and international development work and so on.
What I think that means is that what you have is a conference of general conversation in which the President, Archbishop Rowan Williams, identifies back to the conference what really was the consensus general direction of the conference, without any voting on that question.
Stephen Crittenden: Given his reputation, he's actually being very bureaucratically and strategically clever on this occasion.
Bruce Kaye: Well I was going to say he's been very papal, actually.
Stephen Crittenden: The draft covenant that the bishops saw at Lambeth seems to have been more punitive and legalistic than the majority of the bishops present were comfortable with.
Bruce Kaye: I think the general consensus according to the documents produced so far, was that they didn't like the appendix, which is very bureaucratic.
Stephen Crittenden: Is the Anglican church going to end up with a document or indeed some new institution, a pastoral council or a faith and order committee that actually does have real teeth? I mean this gets back to the whole way the Anglican tradition deals with conflict.
Bruce Kaye: Yes, it does. I'm not sure what will happen in that direction, but I'm sure that there'll be persistent efforts to try and find some way of making decisions about levels of affiliation.
Stephen Crittenden: In other words, if you're not willing to give up a certain degree of autonomy, you may have to settle for a lower level of participation in the central church?
Bruce Kaye: I think that's right.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Australia Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Global South Churches & Primates GAFCON I 2008 Lambeth 2008 * South Carolina
Over the succeeding five years [since 2003], the inability of Anglican bishops to worship round a common altar has not been addressed, and even with a boycott of over 200 bishops the opening eucharist in Canterbury Cathedral saw three primates and a number of bishops refrain from receiving communion due to their theological difficulties with the American church. These positions were not softened during the three weeks at Lambeth, but hardened with some bishops convinced that dialogue in the terms proposed by Dr. Williams was now fruitless.
Up until now, the Anglican Communion has held together “by appealing to diversity,” Bishop [Greg] Venables said.
However, he asked “Can we sacrifice what we believe for unity? I don’t think we can make that decision on the spur of the moment. It is unfair to ask people to sacrifice their convictions for the sake of a unity that is by no means certain.”
The attempts at conversation had not worked. “I hoped we would be able to talk about very serious things, we tried to but were unable to,” he said. The small group process helped “but there wasn’t enough trust. The level of conflict, fear, mistrust, frustration hasn’t allowed it.”
The problem of authority within Anglicanism was not being addressed, he argued. “Anglicanism has always said we were not a vertical church, but now it would help to have a council of cardinals to help us.”
“You have authority in the local church, authority in the diocese, authority in the province, why not have it in the whole church?” he asked. However, there are “no ground rules to define the Anglican Church. No ground rules outside the province. Now we have no way of avoiding the division,” Bishop Venables said.
“We talk but nothing is decided. People are frustrated,” and Lambeth 2008 did not address these needs, Bishop Venables said.
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Another factor has a profound influence as we consider Anglican strains around the world - a much greater influence than I had realized previously. The distinct polity (church governance) of the Episcopal Church is included; however, this is a larger and more significant matter than polity alone. As Americans, our country was born in revolution, and our individual rights are matters that hold almost a holy quality for us. Our constitutional Bill of Rights is nearly sacred writ in our self-understanding.
Yet the Anglican world values communion and community life as still higher aspirations and greater goods. Individual self restraint and forbearance for the sake of the common good are entirely consistent with Anglican values and priorities in most of the world. Matters involving individual rights and personal justice do not take as high a priority in many other countries as they do in our own. In many places, focus of attention is directed to the whole, rather than to the parts. Please understand that neither is excluded, but the emphasis is often different.
To express this matter as I heard it put repeatedly at Lambeth - when all the Instruments of Communion agreed on a direction for all churches of the Communion, it astounded our fellow Anglicans that we in the Episcopal Church did not follow that course. I need to add that colleagues in Great Britain and elsewhere considered the actions of General Convention 2003 to be much more confrontational to the entire Communion than I did at the time. Having spent these weeks at Lambeth, I do understand better their perception of apparent American disregard of Communion concerns. In the view of many Anglican colleagues, the Archbishop of Canterbury, along with the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Primates, all indicated disagreement with consecration of an openly gay man in a partnered relationship and yet the Episcopal Church did precisely that. Therefore, our appeals to Provincial polity have a very individualistic and hollow ring in the ears of many fellow Anglicans.
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The conference has ended now with the final plenary in the big tent and the Closing Eucharist in Canterbury Cathedral. The Anglican Communion exists at many levels. Jane Williams said this afternoon in her closing remarks that whatever gets decided or not decided by the bishops, whatever declarations and statements are made, the spouses are clear that communion is about relationships. They will remain together whatever happens.
Archbishop Rowan, in his final address, said something similar. A covenant, he said, can take many forms. Individual bishops can covenant with each other for prayer, mutual support and common mission. He seemed to be suggesting that, whatever the political outcomes of the current disagreements-the Body of Christ is capable of sustaining many layers of relationship.
The Archbishop's closing address was both clear and, at the same time, highly nuanced. He would like to see official rites for same-sex blessing withdrawn and invading bishops go home. At the same time, he recognizes this may not be possible for everyone for the sake of conscience. While calling for uniformity he also recognizes that the Church needs the questions of its innovators and the voices of its prophets. He seemed to chastise us but, also, to rule us on-side. I'll try to bring Lambeth home, and we'll have to consider deeply what it wants us to do. But for now, I want to thank all of you for your prayers.
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Lambeth has not resolved the matter of the ordination of gay clergy and consecration of gay bishops.
It is this issue, together with the ordination of female bishops, which has divided the church. While there was no defined schism at Lambeth, the Anglican church us a suppurating sore.
There is no easy way of saying this. The Anglican Church is fast becoming, if not already, dysfunctional. It is a divided house, it cannot stand.
Moreover, there is a significant delusion regarding its future. Over gay clergy, never the twain shall meet.
To this end, the covenant or moratorium over the ordination of gay clergy, achieved at the Lambeth conference, is unlikely to last.
The North American branch of Anglicanism is being held entirely accountable for the demise of the church's unity over the 2003 ordination of gay bishop Gene Robinson. It has not given a rolled gold assurance it will desist from ordination of gay bishops or bless same sex unions.
In fact, Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles, said: "For people who think this is going to lead us to disenfranchise any gay or lesbian person, they are sadly mistaken."
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In his second Presidential Address, the Archbishop stated that he hoped that Lambeth 2008 would ‘speak from the centre’, which is not ‘the middle point between two extremes’, but ‘the heart of our identity as Anglicans’, which ultimately is that ‘deepest centre which is our awareness of living in, and as, the Body of Christ.’ He went on, riskily and imaginatively, to enter the world of the ‘innovator’ and the ‘traditionalist’ concerning sexuality and tried to describe them from the inside and their respective calls for generosity. Surprisingly, and perhaps deliberately, he left little room to develop the depth of the ‘centre’.
This was left for the Concluding Presidential Address, on the last Sunday. At the end of a conference without ‘resolutions’, it was magisterially resolute. The Archbishop not only held the Communion together but moved it deeper into Christ and forward in intensification. Intriguingly, he used the phrase ‘Anglican Church’ several times, and time will be needed to elucidate this hint.
Bishops from The Episcopal Church USA who wanted to press ahead with their ecclesial sexual inclusion project and ignore the Windsor Process and the Anglican Covenant, had been carefully ‘minded’ by their media advisers not to react in anger. They went away tight lipped. They were angry, but not in public. Their thoughts were expressed by Susan Russell, the President of Integrity USA, when she called this address an ‘11th-hour sucker punch’.
The Archbishop lucidly expressed the mind of the Lambeth Conference, drawing on the reflections from the indaba groups, and clearly articulated the central way forward, which is the continuation of the Windsor Process and the Covenant. On the two key subjects of sexual ethics and ecclesiology, he reiterated the vital importance of three moratoria: on the authorisation of same-sex blessings, on the consecration of bishops in same-sex unions and on cross provincial interventions.
These interventions by some conservative Primates from Africa and the Southern Cone of Latin America had been declared by them, from the beginning, to be ‘temporary’ until something officially was set up. Something official has now been announced and is being urgently set up - the Pastoral Forum, ‘strengthened by arrangements like the suggested Communion Partners initiative in the USA’. There is no real need for them, on their side, to be angry or tight lipped. In fact, there is encouragement in the Archbishop’s final words concerning inviting ‘those absent from Lambeth to be involved in these next stages’ and of looking for ‘the best ways of building bridges’ with GAFCON.
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There are examples of exceptions to the Church’s moral teaching made for pastoral reasons. The African adaptation of the teaching on marriage so as to be able to incorporate polygamists and their wives is a good example. This exception also allows African Anglicans to teach the classic doctrine that marriage is for one man, one woman. One could object that allowing polygamists into the church—at whatever level—is de facto an approval of adultery. That in fact was the initial objection, and on the face of it, polygamy (or polyandry, or its contemporary expression in the West, polyamory), is adulterous in nature. However, the overriding concerns of justice for the wives and children, and mercy for the polygamist, allow the exception to be made. From the biblical perspective, some evidence is found to allow polygamy, as the Mormons will tell you, even though the prophets and the church of the New Testament did not accept it. This ambiguity also gives the exception some sort of biblical backing.
On this basis an exception can be made, and it is clear that Anglicans everywhere now accept it. That the Lambeth Conference came into being to advise on the case of Bishop Colenso, deposed for, among other things, advocating this exception, is proof that this process of approval is by no means automatic or rapid.
However, while a province may make such exceptions, there are limits. Polygamists are not allowed to add more wives, for instance. In particular, when one makes a pastoral exception for a certain group of people, ordaining them to the ministry, and especially the episcopate, is unacceptable. It must be pointed out, however, that the first consecrations of bishops of color were justified as pastoral exceptions made for the sake of mission—while sinfully continuing to deny the equality of those first bishops with others, since they were themselves part of an “inferior race.”
The churches that are dealing with the open presence of gay people in their midst are developing strategies to reach out to them. This Conference recognized that this development in these churches is not the fruit of doctrinal drift or abandonment of the faith. They are trying to create ways of incorporating gay people as part of their mission. As the Lambeth Indaba document states (para. 22), the church exists as the instrument of God’s mission—God is doing the sending, and the church is the extension into humanity of that mission. Furthermore, successive Lambeth Conferences have affirmed for thirty years that gay people are worthy to be received into the church, equally beloved with the rest of us by God.
As those churches trying to accomplish this mission in their context wrestle with the appropriate missional approach to and with gay people, they are trying to discern whether a pastoral exception is called for, as with polygamy, or whether in fact homosexuality can be fully accepted as part of living a holy Christian life for those who are so oriented. As Bishop Gene Robinson has pointed out a number of times, there is still significant indecision in the American context itself.
But I think Bishop Wright put the question squarely: can homosexual practice be validated as an acceptable way of life for those whose sexuality orients them toward it? The answer will clearly outline the shape of evangelism and mission to gays and lesbians, as well as pastoral and ascetical practice with gay people.
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A letter by Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator of the Common Cause Partnership, to Bishop Gary Lillibridge of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas has been made public. In that letter, dated August 11, Bishop Duncan put in writing concerns of the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, Quincy and other members of the Common Cause Partnership caused by the suggestions of the Windsor Continuation Group for dealing with divisions in the Anglican Communion. Bishop Duncan had initially shared these concerns with those present at the Lambeth Conference of Bishops.
The August 11 letter was forwarded with permission by Bishop Lillibridge to members of the Windsor Continuation Group and subsequently leaked to liberal activists and published online and via email on August 18.
“I am happy to publicly acknowledge this letter and my description of the concerns we in the Common Cause Partnership have about the proposals of the Windsor Continuation Group. Nonetheless, it is disturbing to discover that at least one member of the Windsor Continuation Group, a body that is supposed to be working for reconciliation in the Anglican Communion, so quickly leaked private correspondence in an attempt to gain some passing political advantage,” said Bishop Duncan.
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The Times also writes: "And tensions between the West and Islam underlie the complaint by African bishops that an endorsement of homosexuality by Western churches puts Christians at a disadvantage with Muslims -- and at risk of physical violence -- in areas where the two faiths compete for adherents."
A "disadvantage"? Exclusion is a far worse disadvantage for Anglicans. Risk of violence is another thing, however. Still, I am curious if this violence is truly based on homosexuality in the United States. After all, if African bishops and local Muslims are on the same side of the dispute, how can there be disagreement, let alone fighting? Perhaps agreements by some bishops (such as Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola) to support violence against homosexuals and their supporters by joining with local Muslims in oppression should be given more examination in the "culture war."
The Times' use of language that styles African bishops and their American supporters as culture warriors victimized by liberal encroachment neither accurately describes the situation in the Anglican Communion nor benefits the healthy exchange of ideas. The so-called culture war is not a response to victimization but an excuse to exclude, deride and criminalize those who are different. Why don't we start to discuss "traditional notions of faith and family" as describing compassionate action and loving, committed relationships? Those are truly Biblical notions.
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The suggestions included the development of a formal covenant agreement by which individual Anglican provinces would promise to act in union with the Anglican Communion as a whole on fundamental matters of faith and morals; the establishment of a "faith and order commission" that would provide guidance on matters of doctrine and morality; and the establishment of a "pastoral council" to address conflicts between provinces.
The outcome of the July 16-August 3 Lambeth Conference "in many respects was positive", ...[Canadian Monsignor Donald] Bolen said.
"A sense of direction emerged which was largely, but not universally agreed, and which should translate into greater cohesion within the Anglican Communion, giving it stronger boundaries and a stronger sense of identity."
In addition, he said, the Catholic participants at Lambeth were encouraged by the "strong support" shown for the call for moratoriums on blessing same-sex unions, on ordaining openly gay bishops and on violating the structure of the Anglican Communion by naming bishops outside one's own jurisdiction.
The practice has occurred when conservative Anglican provinces have named bishops for traditionalist Anglicans in the United States, where the US Episcopal Church has shown greater openness to homosexuals and has ordained women priests and bishops.
Because the Anglican Communion has no strong central authority like the Pope, because the Lambeth Conference does not have legislative powers and because the jurisdictional authority of the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury is limited, "at best the conference indicates a direction," Msgr Bolen said.
"We went into the Lambeth Conference in a wait-and-see mode and we came out of it with some encouragement, but still waiting," he said.
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On Tuesday, Robinson conducted a visitation of Trinity Episcopal Church in Meredith, including officiating a confirmation and reception service for five local people, including four youths.
Robinson recently returned from the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England, an assembly of Anglican bishops that takes place once every 10 years.
"I think it accomplished what it set out to do, which was to build relationships." he said, listening to such talks as the "Bishop of Havarti tell about what it is like in Zimbabwe. Just the chance to hear what that's like is just amazing."
The presence of Robinson, the church's first openly gay bishop, at the conference was itself the result of struggle and determination. He was not formally invited to this year's conference by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Anglican Church, though he still attended.
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I will consider posting comments on this article which are submitted first by email to: KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com
The Episcopal Church provided the largest block of bishops at the Lambeth Conference, sending 104 of the 469 diocesan bishops present during the conference of Anglican bishops in Canterbury.
Details on who and how many of the Anglican Communion’s 880 active bishops attended the Lambeth Conference have not been made public. However, the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Consultative Council, reported the conference “involved the participation of some 680 bishops and 3,000 participants.”
There were 617 Anglican bishops registered for the conference, according to Lambeth Conference documentation obtained by The Living Church. Approximately 600 Anglican bishops were present for the group photo. Of the 617, 469 were diocesan bishops and the remaining 140 were suffragan, assisting and assistant bishops, as well as eight bishops without territorial sees.
The largest number of absentees was from Africa, with 209 of the continent’s 324 diocesan bishops missing. There were 115 diocesan and 12 suffragan bishops from African dioceses.
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Our time together has indeed demonstrated to us the breadth and richness of the Communion. It has been a privilege to be here together, to represent our dioceses and to grow in respect and affection for one another. With the many differences among us we have found ourselves profoundly connected with one another and committed to God's mission. Many of us have experienced a real depth of fellowship in our Bible Study Groups and have been moved, sometimes to tears, by the stories our brothers and sisters have told us about the life of their churches, their communities and their own witness. For many bishops, especially those for whom this has been their first Lambeth Conference, they have understood for the first time what a precious thing it is to be an Anglican. There has been a wonderful spirit of dialogue and we want that to continue beyond the Conference by every means possible - "the indaba must go on," as one group expressed it. For many of us have discovered more fully why we need one another and the joy of being committed to one another. At a time when many in our global society are seeking just the sort of international community that we already have, we would be foolish to let such a gift fall apart.
That mood set the atmosphere in which we talked about the three issues that were pulling us apart - (1) the action of the Episcopal Church in ordaining a partnered gay man as a bishop, (2) the authorisation in some churches of blessing of same-sex unions and (3) the unwelcome incursions into dioceses by bishops from other dioceses, or even provinces and continents, to exercise pastoral care and oversight to those disenchanted with their own bishop. What our group discussions helped us to do was to see that we were not dealing with "the American Church" or "the African bishops", but with a number of brothers (and some sisters), each with a name and an individual personality - Simon, Neff, Mary, Michael, Greg, Gerard and so on - and each struggling, in their own way, to be loyal to the Gospel and to the Church, to respond both to their culture and the local pastoral needs they faced, each becoming more conscious of the affect of their words and actions on people on the other side of the world. This was a very important opening of eyes.
It meant, of course, that talk of "winning" and "losing" became less and less appropriate. It meant that people came to realise that they wanted us at all costs to find ways of staying together in one communion, recognising the huge loss if we do not. It meant that there were required some provisions to keep us together through a testing time. Although there is more to it than this, the two key proposals were "covenant" and "moratoria".
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Bishop [Michael] Hough said he returned to Australia a "Rowanite", convinced by the message and approach to managing the church taken by Archbishop Williams.
"Rowan was pilloried, attacked and mocked - but he got on with being the Archbishop of Canterbury," Bishop Hough said.
He said the approach taken at the conference to ensure all bishops had a chance to speak was to divide the 800 bishops - about 300 bishops boycotted the conference - into groups of about 40.
This was, Bishop Hough said, an African model of reaching consensus called Indaba.
"The term that Rowan used were `the bonds of affection that bind us'," Bihsop Hough said.
"If we can't build on those then what are we doing here?"
"Rowan said God's watching us, the world's watching us. If we don't handle our heritage with integrity then we fail in God's eyes.
"If we don't handle conflict then we have failed in the world's eyes."
Read it all.
There was a bit of a controversy in London last week. One of the reporters for The Times, who has a reputation for nastiness and undermining the Church of England, surfaced a letter from Archbishop Williams that stated his view that a same-sex relationship "might...reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage." The headline sensationalized it, speaking in the present tense, although the letter was written eight years ago. Williams has stated that as a theologian he is often "thinking aloud," but he was not doing so as a bishop.
Of course the reporter was only too happy to call others for comments, particularly the Primate of the Southern Cone, who immediately questioned ++Rowan's credibility as Archbishop of Canterbury, and disparaged the Lambeth Conference. He is a leader of the GAF-CON group, and is known to have more than just a foot out of the door. It was observed that he and a few other Primates chose not to receive communion from or with the Archbishop.
Within a day of the first article, nineteen Church of England bishops, led by +Tom Wright, a conservative, wrote The Times to criticize the newspaper's and reporter's bid to "scupper the conference." [read the letter and related articles in the links at the end of this letter] They also supported ++Rowan's right to his own views, even those with which they disagree; saying that he has acted appropriately as Archishop of Canterbury, and praising his leadership of the Lambeth Conference.
I was very pleased to see this letter of support. However, it is very clear that there are some within and others outside the Anglican Communion who are only too happy to undermine it by half-truths, innuendo, disinformation, and in many cases, out-right lies. At this point, it seems clear to me that we are experiencing the break-up of The Anglican Communion as we have known it. A number of Primates did not come to Lambeth, and showed by that act that they believe the rest of us have nothing to say to them. We have said what we could in the public arena but that allows for no nuances and does not have the strength of relationships to build on. The dynamics of this are like a congregational fight. Those who leave are, in affect, saying they want no reconciliation, they do not wish to work on a relationship. The saddest part is that they discard not only those with whom they disagree or are angry, they discard the friends who have stood by them, perhaps in agreement, but certainly in love. The difficulty on a larger scale is that anger can be just as intense as with those we know well, but love and affection are not, for distance and infrequency of meeting inhibit intimacy and trust, and a suspicious word can undermine so much. We have known some of that here.
I will consider posting comments on this article which are submitted first by email:
Actually it is hard to see how there could be an ‘orderly separation’ between traditionalists and liberals because in many cases the fault-lines do not lie between provinces but within them. In America attempts are to be made in September to depose traditionalist bishops while court battles rage over church property. There is nothing orderly about this.
It is also hard to see how Anglicans can be said to have ‘reaffirmed their mutual bonds’ when bishops at Gafcon committed themselves to setting up a ‘province of North America’ as an alternative to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.
Rowan Williams is pinning his hope on the Covenant and on a ‘Pastoral Forum’ made up of members representative of the breadth of the Communion and able to travel and offer, in the words of the Windsor Continuation Group, ‘pastoral advice and guidelines in conflicted, confused and fragile situations’. There is no guarantee that either the Covenant or the Pastoral Forum will prove acceptable to the Communion. There are questions about whether Parliament would give its approval to the Church of England entering the Covenant if this were seen as narrowing the broad national and popular base of the church.
As the Archbishop of Canterbury told the final Lambeth press conference, winning support for the Covenant among the 44 national and regional churches of the Communion could take up to 2013. That date coincides with the call by some bishops at Lambeth for another gathering in five years’ time. If Williams intends to see the matter through to some kind of resolution, he may be residing in Lambeth Palace for some years to come. Fortunately he is only 58.
In the meantime it remains essential to keep the moratoria on the ordination of gay and lesbian priests and the blessing of same-sex unions in place. It is difficult to see this happening if traditionalist bishops from elsewhere in the Communion continue to take parishes and dioceses in the US under their wing or ordain bishops for North America.
Read it all.
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