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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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Bishop David [Hamid]’s letter says:- Dear Bishop Helga, dear Bishop Ole
On behalf of the clergy and people of the Church of England Diocese in Europe I want to send this message to express our sorrow and to convey our deepest condolences to our sisters and brothers in Norway, following yesterday’s massacre in the centre of Oslo and on the nearby island of Utoya. We are aware that there has not been such an act of violence to strike your nation since World War II, and that in a nation of just under 5 million people, a tragedy of this dimension will affect the whole population. That the gunman sought to attack the nation’s youth, gathered to think and reflect together about issues concerning the future of the country, adds to the pain of this immense tragedy....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * International News & Commentary Europe Norway * Theology Pastoral Theology
On the 11th of March at 2:46pm, the biggest earthquake ever to hit Japan struck just off the coast of the Tohoku region. This caused a tsunami and fires that brought massive devastation to a very wide area. This unimaginably strong earthquake triggered an explosion at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear reactor. The people living in the area around that and the No. 2 reactor have been evacuated. The stories and images constantly broadcast by the media have left people lost for words, unable to describe the sheer scale of the unbelievable devastation caused by the earthquake, tsunami and fires.
We see homes devastated, whole towns that were swallowed by the tsunami, and houses that continue to burn because fire fighters are unable to reach both the properties and the people who were the victims of this catastrophe. With hearts filled with grief and helplessness we see people who are mourning their lost loved ones and others who search tirelessly for missing family members. There are so many who have lost their homes and possessions. Towns and villages were obliterated by the tsunami, everything was gone in a second.
Read it all.
For myself personally, I rejoiced at Mary and Diane's election. I would have been happy to get just one more woman bishop in California - but two! It was like Christmas! I knew though that many did not share this joy, and that included people in our partnership and in my diocese. After weeks of prayer and conversation I realized I had an opportunity to make no one particularly happy, but importantly to act in a way where the integrity of everyone's deeply held beliefs - and their very beings - could be honored so we might remain at the table. In our system, it is consents that allow a bishop to be ordained. I consented to Mary's election without hesitation. The laying on of hands makes a bishop, and in other provinces where there is no consent process like ours, this is a very key symbol. It took awhile, and as +Michael said, I did not come easily to the decision of not attending on Saturday. But the truth is, Mary and Diane had plenty of bishops to get the job done, and my hands were not needed there on May 15th. They were needed to reach other places and so I did.
As people have emailed me or blogged their anger and concern it seems that people think I was pressured by my partner bishops. Indeed, they made a request - as did many in the Anglican Communion of our entire church - for us not to consent or consecrate Mary. While listening is an important part of our partnership, we respect one another's autonomy. Hopefully we the body of Christ all make prayerful decisions with one another in mind. You may not like the decision I made, but let me be clear, it was mine to make, not +Michael's or +Gerard's.
My gesture of not attending on Saturday was received graciously by both partner bishops, and we will just have to see what the future holds for our unusual and extraordinary relationship.
Read it carefully and read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology
Kendall posted this on the backup blog, but it hasn't yet been posted here. -- elves
Resolution C056 calls for gathering theological and liturgical resources with respect to offering the Church’s blessing for same-gender unions, which will be brought to the next General Convention in 2012 for study and consideration. The fact is that several states have legalized gay and lesbian unions, and others will likely follow suit. This resolution responds to that reality. It also allows bishops the exercise of personal discretion in providing for a “generous pastoral response” for gay and lesbian persons in the Church. I voted in favor of this resolution because I am convinced that it is both realistic and right. Monogamous same-gender unions are now a reality, and we should provide for the Church’s response, with blessing or without. The resolution allows for either. Bishops must also have the ability to respond to what is actually true in all the various locales and contexts in which this Church ministers. It is important to remember, however, that no official rites of blessing that wholly sanction same-gender unions have been approved for the Church. In fact, it would take years to develop such rites.
It is not so much the actual content of these two resolutions that may be problematic. The potential for difficulty follows from interpretation of the resolutions. The plain reality is that very little is actually changed by either one of the resolutions in themselves. Both statements address what is already true in the life and witness of the Episcopal Church. The Convention is overwhelmingly of the mind that the Episcopal Church will be the stronger for the realistic and clear perspective of these resolutions.
Read it all.
Then, the Prayer Book and Litury legislative committee brought to the floor of the House of Bishops (where such legislation originates) a resolution that called for the development of liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender unions, along with a generous flexibility in the use of rites in those civil jurisdictions where marriage equality is already (or may become) a reality. The debate was vigorous and positive. It looked as if we were going to move forward. Then a bishop rose to propose that legislating this issue was counterproductive. It was moved to send this to a small working group to come up with a "better way." This motion passed, and I feared that this move was an attempt to get us to do nothing, or worse, to make our own statement as bishops, completely sidestepping the fact that we were meeting, not as a lone House of Bishops, but as the General Convention, which includes laity and clergy.
In an effort to forestall this move, I signed up to be a part of the small working group (Presiding Bishop Katharine had invited any who wanted to be a part of the group to volunteer). What followed was perhaps the most signficant "moment" of the Convention for me.
We met late into the night on Wednesday night. Some 25 bishops representing the entire spectrum of opinion, from the most conservative to the most liberal. On Wednesday night, using the style of the African Indaba process from the Lambeth Conference, we each simply spoke about where we were on this issue. NEVER in my six years as a bishop have I experienced the holy speaking and holy listening I experienced that night. Each bishop in turn spoke their truth -- the pain and difficulty they've experienced in their dioceses as a result of the controversy, the personal burdens they've shouldered, the pain of gay and lesbian people in their dioceses who are not sure whether they are valued as full members of this church and their pastoral needs as children of God. Each spoke of what they needed to go home with. Each was honest and vulnerable about what they could give up for the good of the whole. It is hard to describe the vulnerability and honesty with which each bishop contributed.
We took all this to our prayers and to bed, and returned at 7:00 the next morning to decide what all this meant for the resolution before us. The vulnerability and honesty continued in this working session. What resulted was a resolution to bring back to the House that represented that group's "best way forward," although there was no attempt to lock anyone into voting for it or to commit to every word.
At our afternoon session, the resolution was presented, along with a brief account of our precious time together. Then we talked about the resolution at our tables of eight, for close to half an hour. Then the debate began. There were a few amendments offered -- some passed, some failed. But the resolution we had crafted remained reasonably intact.
Just as we were nearly ready to vote, a bishop rose and proposed "discharging" the resolution (in effect, NOT voting on it and making it "go away"). This move to not deal with the issue failed by a substantial (3 to 1) margin. It seemed clear that the Bishops knew that we could not duck out of this one. A roll call was requested, so no bishop could hide behind a voice vote. The time had come to declare ourselves. When the resolution came to a vote, it passed by a whopping 3.5 to 1 margin. Interestingly, some of the bishops who had voted to make the whole issue go away, when finally having to vote, voted "yes!" There were some bishops who voted "yes" who had NEVER voted "yes" on any gay-affirmative resolution before. This vote was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone seemed stunned.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ in the Diocese of Dallas,
I write to you in response to the actions of the recent General Convention of The Episcopal Church meeting in Anaheim, California. Some in the diocese will be pleased with much that happened, while others will view with alarm some of the resolutions passed.
I feel compelled to speak a word to the Diocese of Dallas concerning three actions in particular. The first two gathered the most press attention and later comment. Members of our Diocese as well as Anglicans throughout the Communion are particularly concerned about these actions, which took the form of resolutions.
The Communion at large has been looking for a clear word from The Episcopal Church as to whether we will continue to honor the moratoria on developing rites for the blessing of same sex unions and consenting to the election to the episcopate of a person living in a same sex relationship. These moratoria were first suggested in the Windsor Report of October 2004 and were occasioned by the consecration of a bishop in The Episcopal Church living in a non-celibate same-sex relationship. A pledge, known as B033, to “exercise restraint” in giving further consents to such persons was adopted by the Convention of 2006. And while the 2006 Convention did not declare a moratorium on blessing rites for same-sex unions, it nevertheless turned away several resolutions calling for development of such rites. The Primates of the Anglican Communion took note of these actions with gratitude at their meeting in 2007 (Dar es Salaam), but requested greater clarity. That clarity would come in 2009.
It is clear from the resolutions passed, as well as from the floor debate in both Houses, that it is the intention of the leadership of The Episcopal Church that the moratoria requested by the Communion are no longer binding. Although a number of commentators, among them bishops, have maintained that the moratoria themselves were not specifically addressed, it is clear that both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops view their previous pledge as cancelled.
Resolution D025 reads (in part): “That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call [gay and lesbian persons in lifelong committed relationships], to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church” and further declares that it is competent to deal with these calls in its own “discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.”
Resolution C056 reads (in part): “That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological and liturgical resources, and report to the 77th General Convention”.
While it is true that neither of these resolutions deal explicitly with repudiations of either previous actions of the Convention or of specific requests made of our Church, it is also quite true that their intent is plain. The 2006 resolution had called for restraint on giving consent to the consecration of any bishop “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church.” That concern is now completely absent in D025, and the only criteria in making such decisions are entirely internal. As for C056, the operative word is “develop.” The plain sense here is to “create,” “produce,” or “promote.”
C056 also resolves that bishops “may provide generous pastoral response” to meet the needs of same-sex couples, and this, before providing any theological support for the rites themselves. This appears to give a “green light” to local, unilateral action, and is already being so interpreted by a number of bishops.
Taken together, this is de facto a repudiation of the repeated requests directed to us by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates of the Communion, and the Anglican Consultative Council. It is also, I would argue, a repudiation of a previous actions of our own General Convention, in 1991, which mandated a “pan-Anglican” and ecumenical consultation on these matters, because “these potentially divisive issues which should not be resolved by the Episcopal Church on its own.” (1991-B020)
Although these resolutions deal specifically with matters concerning same-sex relationships and persons living within them, I want to remind you of the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury in his paper following our 2006 General Convention (“The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today”):
“And, to make clear something that can get very much obscured in the rhetoric about 'inclusion', this is not and should never be a question about the contribution of gay and lesbian people as such to the Church of God and its ministry, about the dignity and value of gay and lesbian people. Instead it is a question, agonisingly difficult for many, as to what kinds of behaviour a Church that seeks to be loyal to the Bible can bless, and what kinds of behaviour it must warn against - and so it is a question about how we make decisions corporately with other Christians, looking together for the mind of Christ as we share the study of the Scriptures.”
There are many gay and lesbian members of our congregations. Some long for the day when the Church will recognize and bless their relationships. Others among them do not. Add to these a number of people who are considering whether they can even remain in The Episcopal Church any longer. Ministry in these circumstances can be agonizing indeed. The churches of the Diocese of Dallas will, I trust, continue to be a place where all are welcome. We all kneel on level ground before the cross of Christ.
But the larger question is what it means for “the Church” to make these decisions: is it right or good, or even possible, for a congregation, a diocese, or even a province of the Universal Church to make its own way and claim to give “the Church’s blessing” – or God’s? Discerning the mind of Christ surely must mean doing this together. The Christian faith is something we receive, not legislate. Our own Book of Common Prayer recognizes that “the bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. And Holy Scripture commends it to be honored by all people.” (BCP, p. 423)
In the meantime, we need to be clear about where “we are” as a Diocese:
- The Diocese of Dallas will continue to hold up and proclaim the apostles’ teaching that is the ground of Christian fellowship, and the foundational promise of our Baptismal vows.
- We will continue to stand with the larger Church in affirming the primacy of Scripture, the sanctity of marriage and the call to holiness of life.
- We will not consent to the election of a bishop living in a same-sex relationship, and we will not allow the blessings of same-sex relationships in this diocese.
- We will continue to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, engage in mission at home and abroad, plant new congregations and make disciples of our Lord.
These commitments are in keeping with the historic teaching of the Holy Scriptures as held by the vast majority of the Anglican Communion, and, for that matter, the Church throughout the centuries.
I mentioned earlier a third significant resolution passed by the General Convention. Resolution D020 “invites” the dioceses and congregations of the Episcopal Church to study the proposed Anglican Covenant and “to consider the Anglican Covenant proposed draft as a document to inform their understanding of and commitment to our common life in the Anglican Communion.” I commend this study to our churches and I intend to give a prominent place at our Diocesan Convention in October to such a consideration.
Bishop Lambert and I will be conferring with the Standing Committee and the Clergy of this Diocese on these matters. In the meantime, please know that we will continue to stand with the larger Communion and the historic Church in upholding the apostolic faith and fellowship.
It is imperative that we as a Diocese commit ourselves to one another and work together for the building up of God’s kingdom. At no time in the life of this Church has it been so critical for the community to stand together to carry the message of the Good News of Christ to a broken world. We cannot live in isolation from one another but must find ways to work with and support one another in our common mission and ministry. Now is not the time to “run for cover” but to step out in the name of Jesus Christ and continue to worship, work and witness for the glory of God.
--(The Rt. Rev.) James M. Stanton is Bishop of Dallas
The most lasting impact of the 76th General Convention is likely to be an increase of initiative and energy in local congregations and dioceses. The sharp budget cuts in the three-year budget of the General Church will have a painful impact on some faithful staff members, but will shift the focus for mission to the local church, rather than the local church waiting for initiatives from the General Church.
The emphasis on local ministry is a proper expression of the principle of subsidiarity, whereby mission should occur at the level closest to the people who are called to engage in that mission.
Local mission is also enhanced by resolutions which the secular press has incorrectly interpreted as necessarily damaging our worldwide relationship and as following the agenda of a gay and lesbian lobby. Instead, what the Convention did is to reaffirm that the ordination process is under the control of local bishops and dioceses, while stressing that access to that process is open to all baptized persons.
The Convention also invited local churches and dioceses (as well as churches elsewhere in the Communion) to collect liturgical and theological resources regarding same-gender blessings. Recognizing the unique pastoral needs of those dioceses in jurisdictions where same-gender marriage or civil partnerships are legal, the Convention affirmed that a generous pastoral response is needed.
The emphasis on the local did not deter the Convention from adopting both a denominational health plan for the whole Church and a mandatory lay employee pension plan, both of which, in the long run, will strengthen the local church.
--(The Rt. Rev.) Peter James Lee is Bishop of Virginia
Read it all.
We do not concur with any action taken that would be interpreted by the larger Communion as divisive, dismissive of our larger Anglican Communion or schismatic. The outgrowth of the decisions of the General Convention has yet to be ultimately determined as to its impact on our common bonds of affection that we should all share, and honor, as part of the worldwide Anglican family.
Some will clearly share the assessment of His Grace, Bishop N.T. Wright that The Episcopal Church has, by its most recent actions, chosen to “walk apart.” It would be our hope that if you share that assessment, that you would also share Bishop’s Wright’s counsel to “…not forget the ‘Communion Partner’ bishops, who doggedly loyal to their church, and to the Windsor Report as expressing the mind of the wider Communion, voted against the current resolution. Nor should we forget the many parishes within revisionist dioceses (and, for that matter, worshippers within revisionists parishes) who take the same stance,” (The Times, 15 July, 2009). Again, let us categorically state, that we believe our ties to both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion must remain solid and unfettered by any action, resolution or statement that would in any way further tear the very fragile fabric that is now our Anglican family; and therefore would not support any such action, resolution or statement.
Lastly, we reaffirm our pledge of support for the unfolding Covenant process and it is our hope that Part IV of the Ridley Draft will soon be revisited and approved as a pathway for not simply Provinces, but Bishops, Dioceses and individual parishes to renew their commitment not only to the Anglican Communion, but to those vital pillars that in the end, draw us all together, rather than cause further division.
Read it all.
As we’ve spread the Anglican understanding of Christianity around the world we’ve been slow to put into place structures that sufficiently govern the spread of Anglicanism. With the spread of the Internet and intercontinental travel, we find ourselves playing catch-up with the “flat world” and as we’re playing catch-up there’s those who want to hold on to old methodologies of government that just are not sufficient for the 21st century. My contention is that what we are in the midst of right now – what is at stake – is not just Anglicanism in North America; it is Anglicanism throughout the world.
I have not been and we in South Carolina do not see ourselves as somehow or another reforming the Episcopal Church. The landscape of Anglicanism is shifting all the time and this General Convention will shift it once again. What is at issue now is the survival of the Communion, and the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to transform people’s lives rather than the gospel of inclusivity that is also aggressively being spread. And so as I look at our role in the Diocese of South Carolina, we are to work for the shaping of Anglicanism in the 21st century, and we need to find and remain and stay in that place that will give us the most leverage in doing that.
In the domestic landscape you have two entities. You have TEC [The Episcopal Church] and the Anglican Church in Canada, which from my perspective is promulgating the gospel of inclusivity that would displace the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what we know of as the core doctrine of the Christian faith. That entity would export, or would like to export this uncatholic teaching about Christ and His Church. Then you have in ACNA, a confederation of people that (speaking for myself), I do not see a fullness of catholic ecclesiology there. There seem to be some groups that are so wedded to their personal identity (even though their personal identity may have only been around five or ten years) that there is a hesitancy to surrender that identity. So what we have almost is a codified (and I hate to use the word) schism that looks of prenuptial agreements: “I’ll enter into this but I’m not going to surrender myself fully to one another.” Thomas Brown described [them] centuries ago: Those who schism with others who lightly bond among themselves. What those in ACNA have to get over is that unwillingness for mutual accountability, surrender and responsibility.
Read it all.
Human sexuality - Several dozen resolutions on some aspect of human sexuality were submitted to the Convention by dioceses, parishes, and individuals across the church. The Convention, working through its legislative committees on World Mission and Prayer Book and Liturgy, combined most of these resolutions into two.
The first of these -- Resolution D-025 -- has been widely reported in the press. The press coverage has essentially said that the Episcopal Church has approved the ordination of gay and lesbian persons. Well, no, this Convention took no such action. What this resolution did was simply to reaffirm our own Canons. Back in 1994, the General Convention created a Canon that opened access to the ordination processes of the church -- for all holy orders -- to all baptized persons. This has been our canonical position for fifteen years and it is consistent with the baptismal theology of the Book of Common Prayer. Discernment for holy orders is serious business and should be. In the Episcopal Church we take such discernment with the utmost of seriousness. There is no "right" to ordination for anyone. Our Canons are clear that all baptized persons are to have access to discernment processes. Whether any persons actually gets ordained is a much more complicated set of questions. To summarize: the principal thing this resolution does is simply to affirm that when our church makes decisions on who can and cannot be ordained, we will discern those decisions in accordance with our Canons. The Canons on these matters have not changed since 1994.
Some will ask, does this ignore the request of the Windsor Report for a moratorium on the election and consent to gay or lesbian partnered priests to the episcopate? Some would say so; I don't think so. I don't find the moratorium concept at all helpful, but unless and until a diocese of the church elects a gay partnered person to the episcopate, and the church gives its consent, there is, practically speaking, a moratorium in effect. And again, the only thing this Convention has said is that when any such decision comes before the church, the decision will be made according to our own Canons. The Convention simply clarified that "state of the question" to those who have been asking. The Convention changed nothing.
Read it all.
Read it all.
3. Did not repeal B033 (last Convention’s resolution which asks bishops and standing committees to exercize “restraint” in consenting to the election of any bishop whose “manner of life” would cause additional strains on the Anglican Communion.)...
5. Authorized the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to work on designing rites for the blessing of same gender unions which would need to be brought back to the next General Convention for possible authorization in “trial use.”
6. Did not authorize any “public rites” for such blessings at the present time. The point of working on these for the future is so that we can get our theology right on these to know what we are actually doing as a church. This is crucial because the society is moving so quickly toward “gay marriage” and the church needs to be clear about what we think we are going when, and if, we bless such civil unions.
Read it all.
Read the whole thing.
Both resolutions (DO25 and CO56) will, I am most certain, place strain on the Anglican Communion. Reactions I've received support this belief. However, we need to give the communion time to respond, and we need to listen to our Archbishop as he speaks to us about his thoughts and reflections on the events of General Convention.
My [no] votes represent where I believe the majority of our diocese is right now; though I know it does not reflect the totality of who we are as a community. Press releases, news stories, and magazine articles can never carry the fullness of that reality, nor can they capture my desire to be shepherd to all my sheep in the diocese.
We remain part of the Episcopal Church. That’s my stance. I also intend to maintain the same balance as Don Wimberly, that we also remain active, constituent, members of the Anglican Communion.
I am committed to the Windsor Report recommendations and process which include a moratoria on blessings and elections of partnered gay clergy to the office of bishop.
I am committed to the Covenant and a process.
Read it all.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Thank you for the many expression of encouragement and prayer over the past two weeks. General Convention is a long, exhausting, and “stretching” experience, and your support has been both a blessing and a source of strength. The Latin term is sine qua non (without which not). In other words, I couldn’t do it without you and your prayers.
Your General Convention deputies - the Rev. Ben Jones, the Rev. Richard Lightsey, the Rev. Dan Martins, the Rev. Henry Randolph, the Rev. Carolyn Jones (who, as an alternate, replaced Fr. Richard during the last two days of Convention), Pam Harris, Charlotte Strowhorn, Christopher Wells, and Scott Wright - were a superb and prayerful team. It was a joy and a privilege for me to serve with them.
In my first report, written just before the opening gavel, I predicted that human sexuality would dominate General Convention’s deliberations. That turned out to be the case. Two questions were particularly pressing: Should we in some fashion overturn a resolution from the last Convention (B033) which asked for restraint in ordaining persons as bishops whose manner of life would pose a challenge to the unity of the Anglican Communion? And should we authorize liturgies for the blessing of same sex unions? These questions did not exist in isolation. The Anglican Communion itself - through the four Instruments of Communion (the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Lambeth Conference; the Anglican Consultative Council; and the Primates’ Meeting) - has asked the Episcopal Church to effect a moratorium in these areas until a new Anglican consensus emerges.
The debate surrounding these questions was both intense and respectful. Bishops and deputies listened carefully to one another as we struggled with painful and sometimes divisive issues in which no obvious middle way seemed possible. In the end, General Convention passed two resolutions regarding the questions before us.
Resolution D025 deals with the matter of ordination. While it does not directly repeal B033 from 2006, D025 clearly implies that the church has moved to a new place: “Resolved, That the 76th General Convention recognize that gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships [committed same-sex partnerships] have responded to God’s call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst; and be it further Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church." “Any ordained ministry” would include, of course, the ministry of bishops. I believe that this resolution in essence rejects one of the moratoria requested of us by the Anglican Communion. I do not believe that any other interpretation is possible from the plain sense of its words.
On the matter of the blessing of same-sex unions, General Convention also moved away from a Communion-requested moratorium on authorizing liturgies. Resolution C056 asks the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to “collect and develop theological and liturgical resources” for such blessings and “report to the 77th General Convention” in 2012. The resolution goes to say that “bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church.” In other words, as a kind of interim step until liturgies have been formally approved by General Convention, bishops may go ahead and authorize liturgical forms for the blessing of same-sex unions. Again, this resolution clearly steps away from a Communion-requested moratorium.
Both resolutions passed with overwhelming majorities (D025, with a margin of 99-45, with two abstentions; and C056, 104-30, also with two abstentions). In both cases, I voted with the minority. I did so with sadness. Gay and lesbian Christians are beloved members of our diocese, and I am grateful to be their chief pastor. I’m profoundly aware that my vote may be painful to many of them. And so, in explaining the reason for my vote, I must also - and rightly - reaffirm my love and care for them.
The Windsor Report, a 2004 document produced by the Lambeth Commission appointed at the request of the Primates, ends with these sober words: “There remains a very real danger that we will not choose to walk together” (Sec. 157). I am deeply concerned that the actions of the 76th General Convention may represent a significant step in that tragic direction. The Episcopal Church, at its highest decision-making level, has turned its back on the pleas of the Anglican Communion and has pressed forward when the Communion urges restraint.
Yet I write these sober words with a sense of hope. After the vote on C056, a group of bishops, about twelve of them, gathered to write a statement in which we could together affirm our dual commitment: to remain loyal members of the Episcopal Church, obedient to its constitution and canons; and to remain at the same time loyal members of the Anglican Communion, in communion with the historic See of Canterbury. Together we drafted the Anaheim Statement, and one of our number - Bishop Gary Lillibridge of West Texas - read it to the whole House of Bishops on behalf of all of us. Our statement was received by our colleagues, particularly those who had voted in favor of D025 and C056, with respect and appreciation. So far, about 34 bishops have joined us in signing the statement. I’ve appended it to the conclusion of this report.
Many bishops told me how grateful they are that those who oppose General Convention’s actions are willing to remain engaged and to make their convictions known. Perhaps the clarity achieved at this convention, as painful as it is for those on the minority side, will help us to speak with honesty and integrity to one another, and help us as well to find a way to honor the conscience of all. I am also hopeful that a way can be found, for those dioceses of the Episcopal Church which agree to the Communion’s requests, to remain in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Archbishop Rowan himself, in a letter written to Bishop John Howe in 2007, said: "Any Diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion, whatever may the longer-term result for others in The Episcopal Church. The organ of unity with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such." The Diocese of Northern Indiana is on record as embracing the Windsor Report and the moratoria requested of us by the Instruments of Communion. Our commitment is to say Yes to the Episcopal Church and to sharing in its life and ministry - and Yes to the Anglican Communion and a Catholic vision of worldwide, interdependent life.
Clearly, General Convention did much more than deal with human sexuality and Anglican Communion issues. Among other things, we passed a canonical change that will inaugurate a churchwide health insurance plan. Up until now, each diocese has been left on its own to negotiate health insurance for clergy and lay employees. Because the pool of employees is thus small, costs have been staggering. By making the entire Episcopal Church a single unit, we hope to bring down the cost. This will not happen overnight; but the convention’s action is the first step to reversing a difficult trend.
Second, General Convention approved a sweeping revision of Title IV in the canons, the section dealing with clergy discipline. In essence, the new section provides a disciplinary process that has greater possibility of a pastoral (rather than simply a legal) response when, most painfully, discipline is required.
Third, General Convention passed a resolution calling for extensive outreach to our Spanish-speaking neighbors - outreach that would include both church planting and the strengthening of existing Hispanic congregations. Our own experience with St. Thomas', Plymouth (la Iglesia de Santo Tomas) shows us that Episcopalians can indeed do fruitful evangelistic work among Hispanics, and I am excited that the the church on a national level will be making this an important priority.
Fourth, General Convention wrestled with a significant shortfall in the Episcopal Church’s budget for the next triennium - about $23,000,000 less than what was received in the previous three years. Programs have been drastically cut, many positions eliminated at the Episcopal Church Center in New York, and a general belt-tightening is required at all levels. The Joint Committee on Program, Budget, and Finance did heroic work throughout convention in dealing with these difficult realities.
During August and early September, your General Convention deputies and I will be holding a series of regional meetings around the diocese, to give you a chance to hear from us and to ask questions. As soon as the details of those meetings have been worked out, we’ll place the information on this website. Meanwhile, please join with me in praying for the church:
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one god, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP, p. 528)
--The Rt. Rev. Edward Little is Bishop of Northern Indiana
As for Bp. Wright’s concern about Anglican Church in North America, I am sure, knowing the Anglican Communion hierarchy, that there will be no rush to enfranchise ACNA or disenfranchise the Communion Partners remaining in TEC. But is it too much to ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to reaffirm the Primates’ call at Dar es Salaam for the cessation on lawsuits for all orthodox in TEC and ACNA on threat of immediately withdrawing his recognition?
The big question for the days ahead is whether the two streams of the orthodox movement – which had coalesced in the Anglican Communion Network in North America and the Global South coalition – will begin to come together again. I believe their reunion, not at first political but spiritual and practical, is devoutly to be wished.
Let me point out two positive indicators for why this can happen....
Read it all.
Many observers, both conservative and liberal, say the 2006 moratorium has been essentially overturned by the new resolution.
[Henry] Parsley disagrees.
"My view is that it doesn't overturn the resolution from three years ago," Parsley said. "It reminds the larger church where we are in terms of valuing the gifts of all our members.
"This does not repeal the moratorium; it says we're open to all people. It affirms our relationships with the Anglican Communion and acknowledges that there are many who don't agree. It's very respectful. We continue to seek the mind of Christ."
Read it all.
I will be meeting with the Standing Committee, Deans and others after my return late Wednesday evening. I will be clarifying my thoughts and seeking greater clarity from the Lord in the intervening days. Please keep me in your prayers as you will be in mine. God has prepared us as a diocese to address this hour in the life of our Church—of that I am confident. It is not a time for alarm. It is a time for thoughtful and steady resolve. We face significant challenges. They are no longer the challenges of tomorrow they are the challenges of today. This cannot be brushed aside as if it is of little consequence.
There is an increasingly aggressive displacement within this Church of the gospel of Jesus Christ’s transforming power by the “new” gospel of indiscriminate inclusivity which seeks to subsume all in its wake. It is marked by an increased evangelistic zeal and mission that hints at imperialistic plans to spread throughout the Communion. This calls for a bold response. It is of the utmost importance that we find more than just a place to stand. Indeed, it is imperative that we find a place to thrive; a place that is faithful, relational and structural—and so we shall!
Read it all.
This may cross over into editorializing which we elves try not to do. But posting the roll call tables below, we couldn't help but be struck by something.
We have extracted the voting information for the 27 bishops who are known to have signed the "Anaheim Statement," from the larger table with all the roll call votes which is posted in the entry below. It seems very strange to us elves that a full one-third of these signatories claim to "reaffirm their commitment" to uphold the Windsor Process moratoria, while they voted FOR one or both resolutions (D025 and C056) that indicate TEC's intention to breach those moratoria.
Remember, as per all our caveats in the entry below, the vote tallies here are unofficial. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, but the C056 data in particular is still off by two votes (among the full 136 bishops who voted).
You can read the full text of the Anaheim Statement here
It includes the line:
* We reaffirm our commitment to the three moratoria requested of us by the instruments of Communion.
Re-read D025 and C056 for yourselves, and please explain to this feeble-minded elf how one can have voted YES for D025 and C056 and signed this reaffirmation. We're clueless.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Data Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
Thanks to the work of a number of T19 readers, led by Karen B., here is an unofficial tally of all the Bishops' roll call votes from GC09.
It includes the roll call votes for:
-- Resolution D025 (basically overturning B033 which urged restraint on consecration of further non-celibate homosexual bishops, etc.)
-- Rowe Amendment to discharge, (i.e. "kill without voting") Resolution C056
-- Resolution C056 (allowing development of SSB liturgies and "generous pastoral response")
-- Also, the currently known signatories to the "Anaheim Statement" are noted.
The listing is based on vote by vote review of the audio files of the roll calls for D025 and C056, and also draws heavily on the Rev. George Conger's report for the Living Church. (however the tally does not exactly match Conger's tally. There are 3 or 4 differences based either on what was heard on audio, or other published reports of how a bishop voted.) There are detailed notes and links to sources at the bottom of the table.
Note: the totals for D025 match the published totals. However the totals for the Rowe Amendment and C056 are slightly off by 2-3 votes. There are several votes which are impossible to hear clearly in the audio files. So these tallies should be used with caution, although they are believed to be 99% accurate.
Please send Kendall or us elves any corrections. We will of course post the official tallies from TEC once they are released.
You can download/view the PDF version of the roll call tallies table here
We're going to try to post the full table here on the blog, but that may be difficult. Check back in a little while.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Data Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
Read it all.
One thing of which I stand in awe is how the early church was able to put into words God’s revelation of the Trinity and develop a creedal language 1600 years ago that has lasted down to the current age.
The revelation and the creedal language tell us of a Trinity that is mysteriously and intimately intertwined, with an unbounded reciprocal love. We do not understand its complexity, but we do see the results of that love; it is an outpouring of love for all of creation, especially an outpouring of love toward humanity, a love whose ultimate expression is in the love of Christ for humankind.
Likewise, the love of one human being for another, as creatures created in the image of God, is a complex and mysterious thing. Such love can take the form of friendship, or of what the New Testament calls agape, or of sexual love, to name but a few examples. Just as with the reciprocal love of the Trinity, we rarely understand human love, and sometimes are even frightened by it, as in the case of sexual love, because it is so personal, indeed, so intimate.
But we do see the results of such human love, as when the love of two people for one another causes them to reach out in love and concern for others. By saying that we will limit that love and concern for one another and, by extension, to others, simply on the basis of chromosomal make-up is fearful at best, and at worst a human obfuscation of the very mystery of the outpouring love of the Trinity.
I contend that we already have a theological rationale for moving forward in areas of human sexuality. In fact, we have had it for 1600 years, but only in this generation have the scales begun falling from our eyes. In ways that we frequently do not understand, we have a tangible glimpse of the divine love of the Trinity.
We need to witness to this generation, bringing good news now.
Proclaiming the good news is never a future event; it is always a present honor and responsibility. If we as bishops always want to wait for a more opportune time, I fear that we are forgetful of our ordination vow to boldly proclaim the Gospel of Christ, enlightening the minds and stirring up the conscience of our people.
[Greg] Rickel, in a blog on Wednesday, anticipated that the latest General Convention actions will cause some pain. "It does not go back to B033, but instead looks forward," he said of the resolution adopted.
"Several things are important to me here. First, I think it is time for this Church to be honest about where it finds itself now. Second, it must acknowledge that not everyone is in that same place, in fact there are many and varied places people find themselves in this debate.
"Third, this resolution does, in fact, open up access once again to gay and lesbian people, to the discernment process for the episcopate. To interpret this any other way would be dishonest."
Twenty-nine bishops have endorsed affirming their desire to remain part of the Anglican Communion and Episcopal Church while being faithful to the calls for restraint made by the wider church.
Styled as the "Anaheim Statement," the letter of dissent to the actions of the 76th General Convention pledged the bishops’ fealty to the requests made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the primates' meetings and ACC-14 to observe a moratoria on same-gender blessings, cross-border interventions and the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the episcopate.
In the hours after its release, the statement drew support from 23 diocesan bishops, four suffragan and assistant bishops, and two retired bishops and included bishops who voted on both sides of D025 and C056 -- resolutions that rescinded the ban on two of the three Windsor Report moratoria.
Read it all.
We are coming into the home stretch of this General Convention. We finish late Friday afternoon. Today a balanced budget for The Episcopal Church was passed in both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops. There were no amendments to the budget, although some were proposed in the House of Deputies. There was virtually no discussion on the budget in the House of Bishops. It was a moment of legislative whiplash which, I suppose, reflected the feeling of futility that nothing could be changed. The lack of debate also honored the extraordinary work of the Program, Budget and Finance Committee that had the onerous task of balancing the budget that at one point was $24 million dollars in deficit. Many cuts were made, which means that lots of departments across the church have been reduced; and many staff jobs have been eliminated. There is a lot of hurt and loss to all of this -- and I don't think any of us really know the implication and impact of this yet.
"Mission" is our Presiding Bishop's echoing metaphor. She describes mission as the heartbeat of the church. She invited -- no, she challenged, us to hear the mission heartbeat in our bodies and souls. It will be more imperative than ever to respond to this challenge with deeper commitment -- given that there are fewer financial resources to carry it out. Thus the Episcopal Church mirrors the experience of the dioceses -- which is, to be sure, also the experience of congregations.
Yesterday, the House of Bishops passed a resolution that said a whole array of things -- but mainly was focused on same-gender blessings and offering generous pastoral sensitivity for dioceses which perform them. The original amendment was almost brought to a vote the day before, but several bishops who were in the minority of the two-to-one vote the day before that (on affirming GLBT people for all levels of ministry) stood up to say that they felt marginalized and vulnerable. The legislative process was abandoned for the rest of the day -- and a group of self organized bishops agreed to meet informally in order to try and move things forward.
This was the hardest moment of Convention for me. It turned out that it was the hardest moment of Convention for the 26 bishops who met that night and early the next morning -- and for 26 different reasons. I felt that there was a movement afoot to scrub the decision of full inclusion; others said that the church was moving too fast for them. We expressed our thoughts and feelings in an Indaba-like atmosphere (which we had learned at the Lambeth Conference a year before). As the discussion progressed, we decided to move beyond creating a process of winners and losers, and instead to intentionally come up with a statement that included the ideas and feelings of as many as possible. We wanted to build a tent that was high and wide enough for as many as possible to gather underneath.
The resulting resolution (which five of us wrote) reflected the diversity of perspectives. When presented on the floor of the House of Bishops, there were more amendments -- and amendments to the amendments; but they were, for the most part, attempts to better articulate what we were about rather than efforts to discredit or distort.
The final resolution passed by a three to one margin. It recognized our diversity. Instead of trying to restrict dioceses -- the intent of the resolution was to trust the integrity and practice of bishops in their respective jurisdictions.
I think it was an important step forward.
Your deputation will be coming home tomorrow -- and over the weekend. Many of us from General Convention will be present next Thursday, July 23 -- from 10am-12 noon, and 7pm to 9pm, at St. Agnes Church, 65 Union Avenue, Little Falls, to tell our stories of Convention and to entertain your questions and hear your concerns. Each session will essentially be the same -- and anyone who wishes to is invited to come.
--(The Rt. Rev.) Mark M. Beckwith is Bishop of Newark
A: The most significant thing that happened was on Tuesday, after the House of Bishops stopped the debate on same-sex blessings and decided to have a smaller group of bishops meet to discuss it further. They said anyone could come, and it turned out it wasn’t a small group at all. There were 25 to 30 of us, and it turned out to be the most significant interaction I’ve had with the bishops since I’ve been elected.
It was profound and it was inspiring. People stood up and spoke their own truth, both the pain and the joy. Everyone spoke honestly about what they needed to go home with, what they could live with and what they couldn’t.
Q: So how do you explain the vote counts? The bishops passed both of these measures resoundingly, and we are starting to hear of many moderate-to-conservative bishops who voted “yes” on both ordinations and gay blessings.
A: Everyone acknowledges they know where this is going, that gay marriage is becoming a reality. But we’re trying to bring our people along. One bishop said to me he voted “no” so he could go home and do this work, as he explained it, “so I can bring my people along.” He used the Nixon in China analogy. This was a bishop who voted “no” on my consent in 2003.
Read it all.
“The majority voice has spoken at this General Convention,” said Lillibridge later. “But I think it is important to also hear from the significant minority that represents about one-third both in the House of Bishops and House of Deputies.”
He said that in the Diocese of West Texas, the focus will remain on being a part of The Episcopal Church and continuing as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion.
“Out of all of this,” said Lillibridge, “what I want to bring home to the diocese is the deepening of our conversation regarding the issue of human sexuality as well as the relationship between minorities and majorities as we all seek to work together.”
Read it all.
This is the statement (read by Bishop Gary Lillibridge on behalf of the group)
The Anaheim Statement, General Convention, 2009
At this convention, the House of Bishops has heard repeated calls for honesty and clarity. As the conversation has proceeded within the HOB, repeated attempts to modify wording which would have been preferable to the minority in the vote were respectfully heard and discussed, but in the end most of these amendments were found unacceptable to the majority in the House. Many in the majority believed the amendments would make the stated position of this House less honest about where they believe we are as The Episcopal Church.
It is apparent that a substantial majority of this Convention believes that The Episcopal Church should move forward on matters of human sexuality. We recognize this reality and understand the clarity with which the majority has expressed itself. We are grateful for those who have reached out to the minority, affirming our place in the Church.
We seek to provide the same honesty and clarity. We invite all bishops who share the following commitments to join us in this statement as we seek to find a place in the Church we continue to serve.
* We reaffirm our constituent membership in the Anglican Communion, our communion with the See of Canterbury and our commitment to preserving these relationships.
* We reaffirm our commitment to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this church has received them (BCP 526, 538)
* We reaffirm our commitment to the three moratoria requested of us by the instruments of Communion.
* We reaffirm our commitment to the Anglican Communion Covenant process currently underway, with the hope of working toward its implementation across the Communion once a Covenant is completed.
* We reaffirm our commitment to "continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship" which is foundational to our baptismal covenant, and to be one with the apostles in "interpreting the Gospel" which is essential to our work as bishops of the Church of God.
When I spoke to Bishop Lawrence midday, there were 12 bishops who had signed, and my understanding is that as of tonight that number is higher. I do not yet have all the names of those signing it--KSH
Update: Just got off the phone with Bishop Lawrence, and he said Bishop Lillibridge read the statement and it now has over 20 names
After the resolution passed, the Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity USA, an LGBT advocacy group within the Episcopal community, called the vote "a big step forward on same-sex blessings.
"I trust the process and most of all I trust the Holy Spirit present in the process," she said. "I have seen us do hard things well many times, and I was convinced this would be one of them. I just could not believe that this church isn't bigger and better and stronger than many were giving it credit for. I am delighted to be moving forward."
Read it all.
This is good news. While the media is likely to position this story in such a way to be sensational, the resolution includes some compelling components that are important to note:
1. In accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, the resolution recognizes that discrimination of individuals based on race, age, gender or sexual orientation does not have a place in the discernment process of our ministry.
2. The resolution recognizes that God’s call to the ordained ministry in the church is a mystery.
3. The resolution recognizes that we are not all of one mind on the issue of sexuality.
4. The resolution was written in a way that would allow dioceses to consider anyone as a candidate to the episcopacy regardless of sexual orientation, but does not mandate that all dioceses do so.
5. The resolution does not rescind Resolution B033 (General Convention 2006) “to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on the communion.”
It does not suggest that the Episcopal Church will close its moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops.
Resolution DO25 passed in the HOD clergy order by a 2 to 1 margin, in the HOD lay order by a 2 to 1 margin, and in the HOB by a 2 to 1 margin. This demonstrates some consistency among lay and clergy that is important to respect.
Read it all.
As I stated in my Bishop’s Address at our Diocesan Convention in March, I see little reward or benefit in expending our resources and energies in unfruitful expeditions trying to stem the tide of revisionism in The Episcopal Church. Certainly I ask those who are intercessors to pray that God would “stay the hand of the revisionists” at General Convention. And we who attend will, under God, carry out our roles in faithful witness to the truth as we have received it in Holy Scripture and in the traditions of the Church. But the creative thrust of the diocese—beyond the gospel imperative to preach the gospel, make disciples, and plant churches as missionary outposts of the Kingdom of God—needs to be elsewhere than in political machinations of the General Convention. As I’ve stated before, God has called us to help shape the future of Anglicanism through mutually enriching missional relationships and through inter-diocesan, inter-provincial accountability. Certainly, Kendall as our Canon Theologian will monitor the developments at General Convention 2009, but I believe it is in keeping with our declared vision as a diocese to focus on what we believe God is calling us to do, not on the strategies and battles he called us to engage in yesterday.
Before I conclude, let me address an issue that I find is sometimes confusing to many within the diocese, as well as those who are watching us in the reappraiser wing of North American Anglicanism, specifically in what is called “The Inside Strategy.” Among the writers and bloggers of North American Anglicanism there has emerged what some call the inside and the outside strategy in battling with heterodox teaching and practice in the Church. Some who were once Episcopalians have left because they were convinced that anything resembling orthodox belief and practice was lost. Many of these are now gathering at the ACNA convention. They are sometimes referred to as engaging in the outside strategy. That is, in the cause of orthodoxy in North American Anglicanism they have left previously official churches, such as the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church in the United States. According to this understanding it is believed the best way to revive or reform Anglicanism in North America is to work outside the established churches of the Anglican Communion. In distinction from those outside there are those who remain within TEC and the Anglican Church in Canada. Since they are staying, but still hold to the same understanding of the faith as those who have left, it is assumed by some that they must be carrying out an inside strategy of reformation. We in South Carolina are then said to be carrying out such an agenda—battling for orthodoxy, seeking to win back the day in The Episcopal Church in some maneuvering of ecclesiastical politics. While some within the Church may indeed be doing this, it is certainly not my intent. The stakes at present are much higher than what is happening in Episcopalianism or the continuing Anglican bodies in North America.
If we could be said to be carrying out an “Inside Strategy” it is not towards TEC: it is toward the Anglican Communion. Put simply, we remain inside the structures of the Communion to help shape the emerging Anglicanism of the 21st Century so long as we are able. It is ironic that as one of the few dioceses of The Episcopal Church with documented growth in every significant metric of measurement—membership, average Sunday attendance (ASA), spiritual vitality, finances, missional relationships through the last decade—we can influence the developments within global Anglicanism more effectively than we can influence our own Church! When conferences are held for bishops and leaders in TEC about growth and reaching new generations, why are experts brought in from non-Anglican sources and the prior architect of growth in the one diocese in TEC that has documented growth, Bishop Salmon, is not invited to speak? Why are the rectors in this diocese who have so clearly effectively reached their communities with the gospel never once referenced or consulted? Even the Presiding Bishop had to revise her statement that no diocese in TEC had seen growth, when documentation was cited that South Carolina had seen significant decadal growth. But, irony aside, getting back to my main point, our “Inside Strategy” is not to tilt at windmills in Quixotic fashion thinking we can turn back the clock to some prior age; it is to help shape the future that is emerging in global Anglicanism from within the Communion.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) ACNA Inaugural Assembly June 2009 Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts * South Carolina
The Lambeth Conference is a gathering of bishops from the entire Anglican Communion which met for the first time in 1888. It meets every ten years to discuss issues of common concern in the mission of the church today. In the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury: "The chief aims of our time together are, first, that we become more confident in our Anglican identity, by deepening our awareness of how we are responsible to and for each other; and second, that we grow in energy and in enthusiasm for our task of leading the work of mission in our church."
The conference gives bishops a chance not only to get to know each other personally, but also to share stories from different parts of the world and the cultural contexts they come from. This year's conference was attended by 670 bishops out of approximately 800 bishops in the Anglican Communion. Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda did not attend.
One of the issues that came up among others was homosexuality, especially the blessing of same sex marriages and ordination of openly gays and lesbians. Lambeth's position was that homosexuality is a sensitive pastoral and divisive issue that has to be handled with care. Lambeth discussed this issue in a very responsible manner by emphasising the importance of the family bond in the Communion whereby members of one family do not have to agree on all issues but still remain a family. Contrary to the forecast by the media that the Anglican Communion was about to break up, the 670- bishops present expressed their allegiance to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Communion. It was also made clear and agreed upon, after long discussion in small groups where all the bishops were able to make an input, that the ordination of gays and lesbians and blessings of same sex marriages was to stop forthwith and the discussion about these matters was to continue.
Read the whole thing.
There are so many excellent statements being published by various bishops and Primates. We will not be able to post them all. But Bp. MacPherson's letter from Salt Lake City, posted at Brad Drell's blog, is worthy of a stand-alone entry. Bp. MacPherson is the President of the Presiding Bishop's Council of Advice. As his letter indicates, that gave him a big role in the proceedings. This elf is thankful for his bold and consistent witness, that his position of leadership has not caused him to compromise. --elfgirl
In the course of the session during which the charge was addressed, the Presiding Bishop’s ruling to depose was challenged, and I was amongst those to support this challenge, and this being based upon the irregularities stated above. This action failed as a two-thirds vote of the House was required to overturn. This was subsequently followed by a request for a roll call vote was asked for by nine bishops, myself included.
A question now is where this will lead, and this is unknown at the moment. What we do know is the Diocese of Pittsburgh will face many challenges, and sadly, challenges that will be disruptive to the ministry of the Church and proclamation of the Gospel in word and action. Our prayers for Bishop Duncan, his family, and the people of the diocese, are important and urged.
I must stop for now as I the remainder of the meeting is before me, and my flight home to follow shortly thereafter. I will however, close with a concern. The concern that I have is the fact that by this action, a dangerous precedent has been established as applied to the interpretation and execution of the Constitution and Canons of the Church. The danger in this is that it can, and unless terminated, will lead to the living out of a polity and governance in a manner that is not a part of our heritage nor the intent of the Canons as established by General Convention.
Go to Brad's blog and read the whole letter!
Received via e-mail from the Diocese of Central Florida, here is an update from Salt Lake City by Bishop John Howe:
Bishop Howe provided a recent update on the House of Bishops' meeting in Salt Lake City and granted his permission for me to share that update with the Cathedral community.
My Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I suspect that by the time I have finished composing this post you will have already learned that the House of Bishops has this afternoon voted to depose Bishop Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh for "abandoning the communion of this Church by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline or Worship of this Church."
The vote was 88 in favor of deposition, 35 against, and there were 4 abstentions. I voted against. I want to share with you my impressions of what has just happened.
First, the background of "where we are" was reviewed last night primarily by the Presiding Bishop's Chancellor, David Beers. He apprized us of his interpretation and advice to the Presiding Bishop regarding the meaning and interpretation of the Abandonment canon. He told us that he had conferred with a number of Diocesan Chancellors in rendering his opinion, and that the Parliamentarian of our House agrees with his interpretation and advice.
In particular, it is his contention (and the PB told us in her letter last week that it would be her ruling) that the House may move to depose without the necessity of the PB first imposing inhibition on the Bishop in question (an action that would require the consent of the three most senior active Bishops), and secondly, he contends that "a majority of all those entitled to vote" refers to those PRESENT at the HOB meeting, and not to ALL the Bishops of the House, whether present or not.
My own conviction is that on both of these points Mr. Beers' interpretation is incorrect, as both I and our Standing Committee have previously stated (following similar depositions last spring).
This afternoon I offered this argument: "I want to compare what Mr. Beers said last night to the argument that many have advanced in favor of ordaining persons directly to the priesthood - without the requirement that they become deacons first. Cogent arguments can be made for that position, but that is not what our canons stipulate. They say a person SHALL be a deacon first, and only afterward may they be ordained priest. You can wish it were otherwise, and you can speculate all you like about intent, but if you want to change things - change the canons.
"Similarly, our canons are clear - not at all 'ambiguous' - however much you might not like them. 'A Bishop SHALL be inhibited, with the consent of the three senior Bishops,' before deposition can be imposed. The way to change that is to change the canons. Bishop Bob Duncan has not been inhibited, and he cannot be deposed."
However, in today's meeting both that ruling and the one regarding how much of a majority is required for a deposition were upheld by a vote of the House. (It would have required a 2/3 majority to overturn them, and the votes were not even close to a simple majority.)
I told the Diocesan Board last week that I was contemplating the possibility of disassociating myself from the vote altogether, in that I believed it was canonically illegitimate. However, with the PB's rulings being upheld by the House (and having no other, final, authority to determine the matter), I saw no other course but to vote No with regard to the deposition.
The discussion and debate today lasted across both this morning's and this afternoon's sessions, for a total of approximately six hours. There was a good deal of sentiment expressed that any action by this House should not occur until after the Diocese of Pittsburgh has voted for a second time to remove its accession to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, a matter which is scheduled to be before its Convention within the next couple of weeks. A number of people argued that until/unless that decision becomes final "abandonment" has not actually occurred, either by the Bishop or by the Diocese as a whole.
Others, however, argued that in allowing and urging the Diocese to withdraw its accession, and thus to attempt to remove itself from The Episcopal Church, Bishop Duncan has long since violated and "abandoned" his loyalty to The Episcopal Church. Some of the Bishops who are also lawyers argued that the case law of Pennsylvania would make it more difficult for The Episcopal Church to press its case if we delayed our action until after Pittsburgh's Diocesan Convention.
My sense of the discussion today is that it was respectful, painful, and deeply tinged with sadness. There was a good deal of recognition and concern that many, both within The Episcopal Church and across the Anglican Communion, will see today's action as precipitous, pre-emptive, and vindictive. Some expressed the concern that this may well solidify the previously undecided in Pittsburgh to join in the support of Bishop Duncan, by making him, in effect, a "martyr."
In the end there was a Roll Call vote, and, as I stated above, 88 voted in favor of deposition, 35 against, and there were 4 abstentions. A simple majority was needed to depose (under the PB's ruling), but in fact slightly more than 2/3 voted to depose.
I understand that Archbishop Greg Venables of the Southern Cone has already declared that Bishop Duncan is a member in good standing in the Province of the Southern Cone, and the widespread expectation is that a) the Diocese of Pittsburgh will, indeed, vote to remove itself from The Episcopal Church, and align with the Southern Cone, and b) once it has done so it will ask Bishop Duncan to continue serving as its Bishop. And then, of course, the real battles will begin.
Bob Duncan is my friend, and Pittsburgh was my Diocese from 1972 to 1976. Bob and I have not always agreed, but we have been on the same side of most of the "issues," and I believe him to be a fearless and courageous contender for the Faith. I believe this is a very sad day for the Church, and I find myself in mourning.
As always, thank you for your prayers.
Warmest regards in our Lord,
The Right Rev. John W. Howe
Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida
Bishop Duncan's Statement on his "Deposition"
"I offer my deepest thanks to the company of saints all around the globe who have sustained me, my wife and all who are dear to me in these days."
It is a very sad day for The Episcopal Church. It is also a sad day for me, a faithful son of that church.
Nevertheless it is also a hopeful day, hopeful because of the unstoppable Reformation that is overtaking the Christian Church in the West. It is also a hopeful day for me personally as I am unanimously welcomed into the House of Bishops of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, an act applauded by Anglican archbishops, bishops, clergy and people all around the world.
The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will move forward under its new Ecclesiastical Authority, its Standing Committee. That body will carry the diocese through to our realignment vote on October 4. With the success of that vote, it will be possible that we be joined together again as bishop and people.
I offer my deepest thanks to the company of saints all around the globe who have sustained me, my wife and all who are dear to me in these days.
The following is the statement by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on the actions of the House of Bishops today, Thursday, September 18, 2008
The House of Bishops worked carefully and prayerfully to consider the weighty matter of Bishop Duncan. The conversation was holy, acknowledging the pain of our deliberations as well as the gratitude many have felt over the years for their relationships with, and the ministry of, Robert Duncan. The House concluded, however, that his actions over recent months and years constitute “abandonment of the communion of this church” and that he should be deposed. Concern was expressed for the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in the face of leadership which has sought to remove itself from The Episcopal Church. In the days and months ahead, this Church will work to ensure appropriate pastoral care and provision for the members of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, so that mission and ministry in that part of Pennsylvania may continue in the name of Jesus Christ and in the tradition of the Episcopal Church.
What's new: Response from +Hiltz of Canada, new GLOBAL petition to indicate your support of GAFCON, long commentary on GAFCON from Forward in Faith, etc...
Now that the responses to GAFCON are coming in fast and furious, we thought it would be helpful to create a roundup post to track them. As always, feel free to post comments that include links to articles and statements of interest.
New entries July 2 & 3: (apologies these are in no particular order... it's a busy day)
A NEW GLOBAL Petition in support of GAFCON:
++Hiltz (Primate of Canada)
+Chane (Dio. Washington)
+Benn (Lewes, UK)
CANA Bishop David Bena writes his clergy about GAFCON
Forward in Faith: Letter from Jerusalem
Bp. Kirk Smith of Arizona (See “A Final Thought")
Kevin Kallsen of Anglican TV reflects on GAFCON
GAFCON Report by Canon Bill Gandenberger (Dio. San Joaquin)
Church of England GAFCON Briefing (one of the Melbourne GAFCON bloggers)
Church Times blog (July 1): GAFCON Primates in London
A summary of GAFCON designed for parish newsletters (Produced by the Chelmsford branch of Anglican Mainstream, note this is primarily geared to CoE parishes)
New materials at Anglican TV:
GAFCON: The Post Gafcon London Meeting
GAFCON Archbishop Venables delivers closing sermon
GAFCON-Final-Press-ConferenceGAFCON: Final Press Conference
-- end of new July 3 links --
I. GAFCON Communique and other important Conference Materials (see also section VI. below for more conference materials)
The GAFCON Communique -- full text and primary T19 discussion thread.
-- the SF Discussion Thread on the Communique.
GAFCON Final Press Briefing (audio)
GAFCON Final Press Release
-- SF Discussion thread
Jerusalem Declaration Acceptance Statement (Matt Kennedy's liveblog)
The Offical GAFCON website is here.
II. International Response and Commentary
Archbishop Rowan Williams Response
-- SF Discussion thread
Bishop NT Wright's Response
Bp. Allan Ewing (Canberra)
Abp. Peter Jensen (Sydney)
Bp. Robert Forsyth (South Sydney)
Modern Churchpeople's Union
Bp. Tom Butler (Southwark)
++Philip Aspinall, Primate of Australia
Anglican Church League, Sydney
III. US Response and Commentary
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's Response
Bishop Iker's (Fort Worth) Response
Canon Neal Michell (Diocese of Dallas) Response
Dr. Leander Harding
Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina: Understanding the Times (pre-GAFCON)
IV. Bloggers and Various other Commentary
The GAFCON links post which we elves had posted during most of the GAFCON conference -- links to all those who were blogging from Jerusalem
Matt Kennedy: The Anglican Communion Must Change or Die
Greg Griffith: Finally, Into the Breach? The Global Anglican Future Begins
Fr. Dan Martins: A First Take on the Jerusalem Declaration
The Ugley Vicar: Can GAFCON really help us in England?
Graham Kings: On the GAFCON Final Statement: Encouragements and Serious Questions
Christopher Seitz on the GAFCON Communique’
Brad Drell: What The Gafcon Statement Means For Western Louisiana
Bobby J. Kennedy: GAFCON: What's in it for me? (Another view from Western Louisiana)
Fr. Lee Nelson (Fort Worth, GAFCON attendee): My Thoughts on the Jerusalem Declaration and the GAFCON Statement
Tony Payne (Sydney, GAFCON attendee): GAFCON final day: Making a Statement!
Dr. Karin Sowada (Sydney, GAFCON attendee): Singing Bishops and Firm Words
REFORM Ireland (GAFCON attendee): Moving Forward
The Rev. Grant LeMarquand (Trinity Seminary, Ambridge)
Cherie Wetzel (Anglicans United, Dallas, GAFCON attendee)
Tony Clavier: GAFCON and Voluntary Groups
Chris Watson Lee: GAFCON Roundup
V. Mainstream Media Reports
Timothy Morgan: Misunderstanding GAFCON (Christianity Today)
Travis Kavulla: Remaking Anglicanism (National Review)
Time: An Anglican Schism Headed for US?
Telegraph July 1 (coverage of All Souls Langham Place, comments by ++Jensen and ++Orombi)
NPR: All Things Considered, June 30, Barbara Bradley Hagerty (Comments by ++Venables, Naughton, +Minns, +VGR)
VI. Miscellaneous Conference Materials
Matt Kennedy's blog entry listing TEC Bishops and Anglican Primates in attendance at GAFCON
Dr. Stephen Noll: COMMUNING WITH CHRIST, A WORKSHOP ON ANGLICAN ECCLESIOLOGY
Given at GAFCON 2008
Notes on Dr. Os Guiness' talk at GAFCON
The full Transcript of Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali’s GAFCON Talk
GAFCON Day 3: Live Blog of +Nazr-Ali Remarks to General Assembly
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali on authentic Anglicanism
Dr. Mark Thompson: “Just what is the Bible?” (GAFCON Scripture workshop)
Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda Interviewed at Gafcon by BBC’s Today Programme
Live Blog: Archbishop Henry Orombi’s Sermon at the Opening Eucharist
GAFCON: Live Blog of Day 1 Press Conference
GAFCON – A Rescue Mission: Archbishop Peter Akinola’s opening address
GAFCON: Transcript of Archbishop Akinola’s Opening Address
Bp Bob Duncan: Anglicanism Come of Age: A Post-Colonial and Global Communion for the 21st Century
-- SF Discussion thread
GAFCON: ‘The Way, the Truth and the Life’ Publication [PDF Document]
-- T19 thread
-- SF Discussion
VII. All Souls Langham Place London Post-Gafcon meeting
1. Presentation by ++Orombi
2. Presentation by ++Venables
3. Interview with JI Packer
4. Panel Discussion
5. Apb. Peter Jensen Presentation
6. Petition to declare support of GAFCON for CoE members (COE members only!)
VIII: Additional Anglican TV videos:
GAFCON Jerusalem Declaration Video
GAFCON Behind the scenes briefing
GAFCON Interview with Archbishop Venables
Anglican Report with Archbishop Orombi
last updated: 3 July 2008, 12:30 GMT (8:30 am Eastern)
It has been a joy to participate in the GAFCON experience in Jerusalem, and I welcome and endorse the proclamation that has been issued at the conclusion of our week of deliberation and prayer.
It is a positive contribution to the future direction of the Anglican Communion, as well as a very encouraging affirmation and validation of the realignment that has been taking place in the Communion over the past few years.
We stand in solidarity with the GAFCON movement and principles, and we in Fort Worth look forward to the continuing saga of this exciting development in our life together as faithful Anglicans.
May the Lord continue to bless and guide us in the challenging days ahead of us.
The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
[from the Diocese of Fort Worth website]
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth Global South Churches & Primates GAFCON 2008
Given that there are new articles and press releases, etc. being released frequently, and the potential significance of the story, we thought it would be helpful to provide a roundup of all the Virginia court ruling links in one place. We'll keep updating this periodically:
Primary Source documents: Court Ruling and Press Releases or Letters
The Court Ruling: [Stand Firm has a PDF here]
The Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) Press Release:
The Diocese of Virginia Press Release:
The CANA Press Release:
The Presiding Bishop's Statement:
A letter from the Rev. John Yates, rector of the Falls Church
A letter from Virginia Bishop Peter James Lee
Articles / Analysis / Commentary: (in the order we came across them)
The main T19 comment thread is here
Stand Firm -- long comment thread is here.
Va. judge sides with breakaway Episcopal parishes, By Julia Duin
Judge's Initial Decision Favors Breakaway Churches, By Michelle Boorstein
[note BabyBlue has an important bit of background on this article here (Patrick Getlein used to be the Communications Director for the Diocese of VA)]
Ruth Gledhill (The London Times)
Big Win for Va.'s Breakaway Anglican Parishes in Property Fight, by Sheryl Henderson Blunt
Episcopal News Service:
Virginia judge issues preliminary ruling on application of state statute, by Mary Frances Schjonberg
"The Lead" (one of the primary reappraising TEC blogs)
Thinking Anglicans (a reappraising blog from the UK) which provides a roundup of links and some commentary
The Living Church: Favoring Parishes, Virginia Judge Cites ‘Division of First Magnitude’
Reuters: US judge rules for Episcopal Church secessionists, By Michael Conlon
The Institute on Religion and Democracy
Brad Drell (Louisiana attorney and Anglican Blogger at Drell's Descants)
David Trimble (an attorney in KY, and Anglican blogger at Still on Patrol)
Hills of the North (a Georgia attorney)
Bishop David Anderson of the AAC (via Anglican Mainstream)
Note: BabyBlue's blog is, of course, one of the best places to keep up with the news as it happens, since BabyBlue is directly connected to the story, being a member of Truro, one of the ADV congregations.
Feel free to add other links in the comments. We'll update this as we are able.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Latest News - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops CANA Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Virginia TEC Departing Parishes
[received via e-mail]
Diocese of San Joaquin: March 12, 2008
Contact: Fr. Van McCalister, (559) 244-4828, Diocese of San Joaquin
The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, a member diocese of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of South America, was disappointed by today’s decision of the Episcopal House of Bishops but he was not surprised by it.
“It is a shame that the disciplinary process of The Episcopal Church has been misused in this way,” Bishop Schofield said in responding to the news that the Episcopal House of Bishops voted to depose him. “The disciplinary procedures used by the House of Bishops, in my case, were intended for those who have abandoned the Faith and are leading others away from orthodox Christianity, as held in trust by bishops in the Anglican Communion – and which The Episcopal Church had previously upheld also.”
“The question that begs to be answered by the House of Bishops,” said Bishop Schofield, “is, why bishops who continue to teach and publish books that deny the most basic Christian beliefs are not disciplined while those of us who uphold the Christian Faith are?” He added, "At least I am in good company. It is a privilege to know that I am standing along side of one of the outstanding theologians of our time, J. I. Packer, who is under similar discipline by the Canadian Church and who, also, has placed himself under the authority of the Southern Cone."
“I have not abandoned the Faith,” Schofield observed. “I resigned from the American House of Bishops and have been received into the House of Bishops of the Southern Cone. Both Houses are members of the Anglican Communion. They are not – or should not be – two separate Churches. It is the leadership of The Episcopal Church that is treating itself as a separate and unique Church. They may do so, but they ought not expect everyone to follow teaching that serves only to undermine the authority of the Bible and ultimately leads to lifestyles that are destructive."
"The fact remains," Schofield observed, "that a canon law specifically designed to protect the people of God from wrong teaching and schismatic movements has been used in a clumsy way. I do not think it is a coincidence that the canon that was used, was the one that involves the least due process. The decision to act against me was not made by the House of Bishops as a whole. It was made behind closed doors by a small review committee and, only then, presented to the larger body for an 'up or down' vote." The bishop added, "Tragically, what drives this action of The Episcopal Church is neither the Christian Faith nor the Communion they say I have abandoned. In the end, it appears as though the real motivation behind all of this is the use of raw power and coveting property. If this is so, then any attempts by The Episcopal Church to seize our property directly ignore Saint Paul's warning not to take a fellow Christian to a civil court. [1 Corinthians 6:1-8]"
Bishop Schofield resigned from the House of Bishops as of March 7, 2008. “I am still an active Anglican bishop, and I continue to be the bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin,” Bishop Schofield affirmed.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Anglican Provinces Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone] Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin
Here's an excerpt:
Today we stand at a critical juncture in history. It would be myopic to imagine that the rest of
Christendom, let alone the Anglican Communion, is not watching and praying as we deliberate.
Pray that the Holy Spirit will lead us in the momentous decisions that lie before us.
It is only natural to experience fear, for what we are considering takes the Diocese of San Joaquin
into unchartered waters. The leaders of the General Convention have expended enormous energy
to spread their mantra: “Individuals may the leave the Church, but Parishes and Dioceses cannot.”
No one seems to know who dreamed up this idea. What we DO know is that it is simply not true!
During the time of the Civil War in the 1860's when this nation was torn apart, dioceses in those
states called the Confederacy withdrew from what was then known as The Protestant Episcopal
Church. During the war years they held their own conventions, developed their own Constitution,
had there own House of Bishops, elected a Presiding Bishop, and consecrated a bishop for one of
their dioceses. Nothing could be clearer. The southern dioceses had departed and had created a
separate church. Today we might call it their own Province.
Unlike many of the Protestant denominations, however, it didn’t make sense to Episcopalians to
maintain the separation when the war ended. Not only were the southern bishops and their dioceses
welcomed back, the newly consecrated bishop was recognized, and no punitive action was taken
against anyone. Presumably the southerners had taken their property with them when they left.
And, they would not have been the first to do this.
Centuries before, King Henry VIII, with the help of Parliament prevented all English money from
going to Rome. This action was followed up by taking all the property of the churches, including
the monasteries and shrines –many of which he dismantled and sold. Today, were you to go to
Ireland in search of a name or a tombstone of anyone buried before 1540, your search would have
to be in Anglican –not Roman Catholic– churches and cathedrals. Somehow the Pope never asked
that they be returned to him...and they weren’t.
Colonial churches, especially those in Virginia, whose existence pre-date not only The Episcopal
Church but the United States itself, were never given back to the Lord Bishop of London nor to the
Archbishop of Canterbury when, after the American Revolution, Anglicans identified themselves
as Episcopalians. They took their property with them.
History is replete with instances in which dioceses, too, have moved from one Province to another
– no matter how it was accomplished. Liberia moved from The Episcopal Church to the Province
of West Africa, Venezuela moved from the West Indies to The Episcopal Church. Mexico has
moved back and forth from The Episcopal Church more than once.
Historically, Provinces, such as The Episcopal Church, are not, and never have been, an essential
part of Catholic Order. On October 14th this year, Rowan Williams, our present Archbishop of
Canterbury, wrote to Bishop John Howe of Central Florida: “...Without forestalling what the
Primates might say, I would repeat what I’ve said several times before – that any Diocese compliant
with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the
Communion, whatever may be the longer-term result for others in The Episcopal Church. The
organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial
structure as such.” Later, in the same letter, Archbishop Williams strengthened what he had said
already by adding: “I should feel a great deal happier, I must say, if those who were most eloquent
for a traditionalist view in the United States showed a fuller understanding of the need to regard the
Bishop and the Diocese as the primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality
of the ‘national church’.” (Emphasis added) Abstract realities do not own, nor have they ever
There is no question that what we are considering today will be called Schism. We will be told that
unity trumps theology. We shall be told that we are doing is destructive and against history and
Catholic Order. Once again, the words of J.I. Packer are most helpful. He notes: “Schism means
unwarrantable and unjustifiable dividing of organized church bodies, by the separating of one group
within the structure from the rest of the membership. Schism, as such, is sin, for it is a needless and
indefensible breach of visible unity. But withdrawal from a unitary set-up that has become
unorthodox and distorts the gospel in a major way and will not put its house in order as for instance
when the English church withdrew from the Church of Rome in the sixteenth century, should be
called not schism but realignment, doubly so when the withdrawal leads to links with a set-up that
is faithful to the truth, as in the sixteenth century the Church of England entered into fellowship
with the Lutheran and Reformed churches of Europe, and as now we propose gratefully to accept
the offer of full fellowship with the Province of the Southern Cone. Any who calls such a move
schism should be told they do not know what schism is.”
For those of us who are facing the unknown, Provinces and Property seem to be among the top
concerns. As bishop, I would like to suggest to you that a ‘NO’ vote at this convention will not
provide the imagined protection needed to get on with our lives uninterrupted. Many do not realize
that for 40 years, with the first twenty under Bishop Victor Rivera, and now nearly twenty years
with me, as bishops we have been able to provide a buffer for our people from the innovations that
abound in dioceses all around us. A quick trip north, south, east or west is all that it takes to wonder
if we’re in the same church with those folks. Years ago, it was the moderate Bishop John
MacArthur of West Texas who first stated clearly that “we are two churches under one roof.”
The full text is here.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils
Read it carefully and read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Anglican Provinces Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone] Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin
Archbishop Williams stated at one point that “perception is a fact.” I think that is a very helpful insight to remember. What we believe to be true (even if it is not) is held to be true. I read The New York Times article at the conclusion of the HOB meeting and was very disappointed. The headline and paragraphs of the article were the exact opposite of what happened at the meeting. I found it interesting that some were interviewed for the article that were not even present for the meeting; and that participants at the meeting were not interviewed.
My point is simple. Read the direct sources prayerfully for yourselves. Please read The House of Bishops' response "to questions and concerns raised by our Anglican Communion partners." Also read the article: Anglican Communion’s Secretary General reflects on House of Bishops meeting. You will be better and more clearly informed.
Read it all.
From the New Hampshire Episcopalian
Go West, young man (and South)
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
As you read this, I will be beginning a three month sabbatical leave, as prescribed for clergy in this diocese every five years. To say the least, the last five years have been busy for me at times busy and exhilarating, at other times difficult and challenging. I am ready for a rest.
Most memorable for me in these last five years was the day of my election not just because of being elected, but because of the feeling of the presence of the Holy Spirit in that church on that clear June morning in 2003. To have been called to this ministry by the very peers with which I had served for nearly thirty years was an indescribable blessing. I cannot remember a time when I have felt so humbled, so unworthy and so wanting to fulfill the hope you placed in God working through me. Whether or not I was ever confirmed by the larger Church mattered less than the confidence you expressed in me.
The drama over your election of me as Bishop continues to play out. In the end, God will have God¹s way. Episcopalians in America and Anglicans around the world continue to seek God¹s guidance in dealing with the challenge that my election represents. On a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis, I remember the phrase so often repeated in the Old and New Testaments by the God who loves us: 'Be not afraid.'
Now it is time for me to rest a while. I intend to do so. I also will be doing some things that I have wanted to do, and which this time will permit me. For a month, I will be traveling in the Pacific. I will be traveling to several parts of the Anglican Communion to learn about the Christian life in different contexts. I hope to make a contribution to the ongoing life of the Communion by meeting personally with some of the Anglican Church Primates who are willing to receive me to hear about the challenges that they face in THEIR contexts, to learn about the spread of the Gospel in far off places, and mostly to build relationships with some who do not know or understand OUR context for ministry. The Primates have no way of knowing who I really am, beyond what the press has said. I hope that my building relationships with some of them might, in some small way, contribute to reconciliation in the Anglican Communion. These ³stops² include Hong Kong, a remote diocese in the Solomon Islands (Province of Melanesia), Australia and New Zealand. My partner Mark will join me 'down under' for some 'down time' in Australia and New Zealand, two places we¹ve always wanted to visit, but have never had the opportunity.
Upon my return, I have been offered someone¹s house on beautiful Squam Lake to do some writing. Church Publishing has asked me to work on a book, tentatively entitled 'In the Eye of the Storm.' In addition to having the opportunity to write about the Gospel, for which I am so passionate, this will also afford me the time away to read, reflect, and pray. Although Jesus usually went to the mountain to pray, Squam Lake doesn¹t sound like a bad substitute! This time will afford me a quiet and thoughtful Advent, not to mention time to spend with my children and grandchildren. I look forward to returning to this ministry that I so love with joy and energy and focus.
Thank you for making this time of refreshment and renewal possible. It is one of the many blessings that come with this ministry, and I deeply appreciate it. My promise to you is that I will not fill it up with activity, but use it to get the rest and refreshment I need and crave. I will return to my work on January 1, ready to embrace and celebrate the months and years ahead with you, my brothers and sisters. Pray for me, and be assured that my prayers of thanksgiving for your lives and ministries will ascend every day that I am away.
Your brother in Christ,
What an amazing turn of events! The overall response of the Joint Committee to the House of Bishops message is positive – yet the Evangelicals in the Church of England demand that the ABC denounce the church in the US over the possibility of consecrating a partnered gay to the episcopate - and our blessing of same sex unions! They threaten to divide the English church over this - just as TEC is threatened.
We simply have to be more vocal about this....the C of E blesses same-sex unions. The partnered homosexual clergy in the C of E are entitled, under British law, to register their relationships in order to gain the legal benefits accorded them. The C or E House of Bishops issued a statement to that effect in November or December of 2005.
Following that C of E HOB statement a condemnatory letter issued from Nigeria - reminding the English church that TEC and others were being ostracized for that sort of thing. But outrage at the C of E does not seem to have any staying power -- either in other parts of the Communion or in TEC. When Bishop Mark Sisk and I asked the ABC about same-sex blessings - about what the difference is between what happens in the Cof E and what happens in some places here he answered, "They ( in England) are not public."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Anglican Primates Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007 Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts
Q: What has been the situation in this diocese?
A: I have said to the diocese that there will be no permission for blessing of same-sex unions until the General Convention of this church has made a decision.
That is not because I feel that faithful persons in a chaste, loving relationship should not have the grace of God acknowledged by a blessing, but I also am bound as a bishop of the church to be responsible and faithful and obedient.
Q: You said in New Orleans that “sometimes traveling as a body means slowing down the pace, in the hope that all can make the journey.” What should gay and lesbian Episcopalians understand when you say that?
A: I want them to hear that the commitment to the journey of full inclusion continues. We don’t know what it will ultimately look like. But we want them to know we’re still on the journey.
What I have found is that many gay and lesbian Christians are concerned not just about their sacramental inclusion, but about the church. Many have shared that they’re willing for us to pause and have that conversation. There are some who are pretty angry, and I understand that.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
Here's an excerpt from Bp. Paul Marshall's convention address to the Diocese of Bethlehem this weekend:
Comment is needed in the aftermath of the late meeting of House of Bishops. I need to say something different from what other bishops may be saying in their conventions because the Bethlehem deputation in 2006 did not vote for the General Convention Resolution that the bishops were seeking to “clarify” for the primates. Something we were not favor of in the first place has been intensified.
Every single news report I have read about that meeting does not resemble the meeting I attended. Let me just say that I remain perplexed by the action and more perplexed by the process in New Orleans, but as always, I think God is providing a spiritual opportunity for me.
I find that as just a few years ago I had to learn to be a gracious “winner,” if such a term is ever appropriate, when the church was moving my way, now I must learn to be a gracious “loser,” if such a term is ever appropriate, when that course is reversed or halted. For some of you those poles are reversed, and it is your turn to be a gracious winner. Some of you may well feel keen disappointment and even rejection as a result of my colleagues’ clarifications. As those of you who accepted the invitation to meet with me two weeks ago know, I believe that your pain is deep and proportionate. I will not presume to say that I can feel anyone else’s pain, but I certainly recognize and grieve its existence, as do many, many people in this diocese.
Beyond that, I must also say that I believe we have held together as a diocesan community during a turbulent three decades not because our range of opinion and conviction is narrower than that found elsewhere in the Episcopal Church. We have held together because of discipline, the tough discipline we practice of keeping our focus on Christ rather than ourselves, the tough discipline of genuinely honoring the conscience of every member of this diocese and welcoming the gifts the Holy Spirit bestows on the Church through each of the baptized. In previous years in this room I have had to reassure those who might be considered conservative of this fundamental principle of our life. I find myself today needing to reassure those who might be considered liberal or progressive of the same thing, that the only disciples of Jesus excluded in this diocese are those who exclude themselves.
I do not know how to predict if what the Archbishop of Canterbury and our domestic leadership wanted of and got from the majority bishops of this church will be effective or productive, and having no power in the matter have chosen to cease from worrying about the behavior or witness of any bishop other than myself.
So here is where I am. My understanding of my relationship with Christ means that I am not personally able to sacrifice individual lives or the dignity of any follower of Jesus to even the most benign dreams of world-wide ecclesiastical empire, but will do my utmost to stay in real and effective communion with Anglicans in every place on the globe.
As the designated chief sinner of the diocese, I will continue to try to honor each of you as God’s works in progress, living stones built into a marvelous temple for the praise of God the Father. As Habbakuk was taught in last Sunday’s first lesson, we do not know how things will turn out but we do know that the future belongs to God and we are to keep busy letting people know that there is a vision. We need to do that communicating, the prophet was told, in letters
so big that joggers may read them. Translation: it must be unmistakable in our words and deeds that we trust the God who made each of us and that we are moving ahead in that trust.
In saying that I do not mean to say that we should pretend that our varying understandings do not exist. On the contrary, I meant something active and powerful and traditionally Anglican – that is, in honoring and exploring our differences, we may generate the way through them to a place nobody would have imagined.
Let me dwell on this for just a minute. I just spoke of 400 years of Anglicanism in Virginia, now let me go back a mere 40 years, to a non-Anglican in California. In 1967, Dr. Ralph Greenson, “psychiatrist to the stars” and medical professor in Los Angeles, wrote about the tendency of his colleagues not to communicate with each about their disagreements in theories or practice. Remember, these are psychiatrists who weren’t communicating. Listen to his observations from 1967. Where you hear the language of his vocation, insert the language of our life as disciples. Ask whether Greenson’s words do not speak to our situation:
Those who wish to suggest innovations or modifications of technique do not usually confer with others who are more traditional in their viewpoint. They tend to form cliques and to work underground, or at least segregated from the mainstream... As a consequence the innovators are apt to lose contact with those groups… that might help validate, clarify, and amend their new ideas. The secluded innovators are prone to becomes “wild analysts,” while the conservatives, due to their own insularity, tend to become rigid with orthodoxy. Instead of influencing one another constructively they each go their separate ways as adversaries, blind to whatever benefits each might have gained from an opening and continuing discussion. (The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis I, p. 2)
To put his observation in spiritual terms, we grow when we risk exploring each other’s perceptions and applications of biblical truth to test and strengthen our own grasp of God’s will for us. I would say that it is quite one thing to think that one possesses truth and quite another thing to experience oneself as being possessed by truth. Whether it is an old truth or a new truth, they who believe they own the truth will become rigid and defensive. They who believe they are possessed by truth, new or old, find themselves in joyful service to the truth, and willingly engage others so that all members of the conversation can be productive and balanced. Rigidity and disconnection are the enemies of spiritual growth in conservatives and liberals alike.
The value of the worldwide Communion, when it is working well, is that those who see something new and those who cherish something old, are in a position to grow in a conversation that is truly catholic. At the moment, at least, that possibility still exists and, like many, I hope that the long-promised conversation may actually get started.
The full text is here.
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Important Update: In the course of discussing this with readers, I've realized I made a mistake in lumping together the five bishops who included the "breadth of response" language in their responses to the New Orleans statement. In particular +Ed Little should not just have been lumped in the list as if he was trying to exploit some loophole. Upon re-reading his statement, that would be clearly UNTRUE. Please see my comment #44 below. Apologies for the confusion and not giving +Little's statement more careful attention. It shouldn't have been just lumped in the batch. --elfgirl
Some TEC Bishops try to exploit a perceived loophole and hide the truth
In my work the other night compiling and organizing various TEC bishops' letters and statements following the New Orleans HoB meeting, one phrase began to leap out at me as it was repeated and emphasized by quite a few TEC bishops. Some among the TEC bishops, notably +Jack McKelvey, seemed to be claiming that the public same sex blessings occurring in their dioceses fall under the Primates' allowance of a "breadth of private pastoral response."
Two examples should suffice, though at least 5 bishops, and perhaps others, have highlighted this phrase in their discussions of the New Orleans HoB meeting:
+Duncan Gray of Mississippi:
We also articulated, again as requested, the fact that this church has never authorized the blessing of same gender unions. We spoke clearly to the fact that a majority of dioceses already function on this matter in the way that we do in this diocese. We also made reference, as the Primate of Australia suggested we do, to the fact that the Primates themselves have affirmed that pastoral care for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters requires the Communion ‘to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care."
+Jack McKelvey of Rochester, (a bishop and diocese who are on record (see pp 11 – 13) as supporting and allowing public SSBs for nearly 30 years):
We quoted the Primates in their May 2003 statement saying that we have a pastoral duty, "to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations." They further stated, ". . . It is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care." This will be honored in the Diocese of Rochester and I believe in many dioceses throughout our church.
+Larry Benfield of Arkansas(a diocese which had just recently, under +Benfield's predecessor +Larry Maze, begun to allow public SSBs to be conducted by its clergy; +Benfield may be changing the policy in the diocese, it is not yet totally clear.) also specifically cited "breadth of private response" language, as did +Henry Parsley of Alabama and +Ed Little of Northern Indiana.
So, what were the Primates actually affirming in May 2003, and is the TEC HoB's adoption of this phrase consistent with the original usage or intent? It appears that this is a key question. Let's trace the history of this language and the intent behind the original language, first looking at the actual use of this phrase in New Orleans.
1. TEC HoB Usage of the Phrase "Breadth of ... response" in New Orleans
On Sept. 24, in the midst of the TEC HoB meeting, TitusOne Nine published the proposed draft of the TEC response to the primates. That draft response included this section:
5. Because we are a liturgical church our actions concerning blessings are expressed in public liturgies. No rite of blessing for persons living in same sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. We wish to make it clear that the House of Bishops has not voted to authorize such liturgies. Even in the absence of such public rites, we acknowledge that the blessing of same sex unions, no matter how public or private, is unacceptable to some of our brothers and sisters in our own House, in our church, and in the Communion. The issue remains perplexing for us as we seek to balance these concerns about rites of blessing and the pressing pastoral need that confronts us. We wish to offer respect for these differing viewpoints.
We are grateful that the Primates have articulated their support for meeting the individual pastoral needs of gay and lesbian persons. In 2003 they wrote "there is a duty of pastoral care that is laid upon all Christians to respond with love and understanding to homosexual persons." The Primates have written that there must be a breadth of private and pastoral responses to individual situations. It is the case that for many decades, the Episcopal Church has explored the most faithful ways of ministering to and with gay and lesbian people who are part of our common life. We acknowledge that in some of our dioceses this includes the blessing of same sex unions.
Note how here the proposed text explicitly acknowledges the public blessings of same-sex unions occurring in various dioceses and tries to claim that such blessings fall under the "breadth of ... pastoral responses" envisioned by the Primates. The TEC bishops suggest and appear to want to believe that the only matter of concern to the Primates was the official authorization of liturgical rites for same-sex blessings at a national level, in spite of the fact that the Dar es Salaam Communiqué explicitly stated the Primates’ concern about TEC’s “pastoral provision” in various dioceses.
In the final statement from New Orleans, that section re: Same-sex blessings was modified to read as follows:
Blessing of Same-Sex Unions
We, the members of the House of Bishops, pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. In the near future we hope to be able to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide listening process. In the meantime, it is important to note that no rite of blessing for persons living in same-sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. In addition to not having authorized liturgies the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions. We do note that in May 2003 the Primates said we have a pastoral duty "to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations." They further stated, "...It is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care."
Again, the TEC bishops are trying to claim that the Primates' 2003 statement would encompass and allow the current practice of public same sex blessings occurring in many TEC dioceses.
As noted, the language in question goes back to the May 2003 Primates' Communiqué following the Primates meeting in Gramado, Brazil. Let's look at that more closely...
Read it all (you can also download this)
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis - Anglican: Commentary - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
With regard to the question of same-sex blessings, we also reiterated what has already been said many times before, that most bishops/dioceses do not provide for these. The fact is, no bishop can “authorize” rites in any institutional sense apart from the action of General Convention. That such blessings do occur in some places and at some times is a pastoral reality. These blessings are “outside” the official umbrella of the authorization of General Convention. However, they are within the provisions of the resolution of General Convention 2003 which affirmed that such pastoral actions are “within the bounds of our common life.”
A Brief Reflection on the Recent Statement from the House of Bishops
The Rt. Rev. Joe G. Burnett
[Note: the full text of the Bishops’ Statement follows this reflection.]
At the conclusion of our recent meeting in New Orleans, some one hundred and fifty bishops approved a document entitled Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners. This approval came on a voice vote with only one audible dissenting vote. Anytime such a document receives this level of support in our diverse community of bishops, you can be sure that it either represents a wide consensus, or that it reflects the fact that most, if not all, of those present and voting are not completely happy with the results, but have chosen to compromise on one or more elements. My own sense is that the latter reality is in play here. And my guess is that individual members of our own diocese will find themselves in a similar place, i.e., in agreement with some parts of the statement, but not with others.
As I think about what we said in New Orleans, I am reminded of an old saw about preaching: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. And then tell them what you told them.” In many ways, our statement was part three of that homiletic counsel. We told them (our Anglican Communion partners) what we have already told them twice before.
Our statement of Response is in three parts: (1) an introduction and preamble; (2) a “bullet point” summary; and (3) an elaboration and explanation of the bullet points. Also, this statement is carefully worded and nuanced. An accurate interpretation of any one part must be undertaken in terms of the overall content of the whole.
In short, here is my interpretation, followed by a couple of closing comments.
First, we said nothing new in terms of our strong desire to remain part of the Anglican Communion, or in terms of our responses to requests that have been made of us by our Anglican Communion partners.
Our description of General Convention resolution B033 was just that—a description—along with a word about what we believe the resolution means to most bishops. I say “most,” because some of the bishops feel bound by this resolution, and some do not. I count myself in the latter group, as I believe it is canonically and constitutionally inconsistent for bishops and/or standing committees to surrender, categorically and in advance, the sacred duty to give or to withhold consent to any Episcopal consecration.
With regard to the question of same-sex blessings, we also reiterated what has already been said many times before, that most bishops/dioceses do not provide for these. The fact is, no bishop can “authorize” rites in any institutional sense apart from the action of General Convention. That such blessings do occur in some places and at some times is a pastoral reality. These blessings are “outside” the official umbrella of the authorization of General Convention. However, they are within the provisions of the resolution of General Convention 2003 which affirmed that such pastoral actions are “within the bounds of our common life.”
In keeping with this theme we also reaffirmed our message to the church from our Spring 2007 meeting in which we called for justice and dignity for gay and lesbian persons throughout the world, and, in particular, across the Anglican Communion.
Second, we reaffirmed our intention to live within the constitutional and canonical framework of The Episcopal Church. We did this not only by affirming our Presiding Bishop’s plan for “Episcopal Visitors,” but also by acknowledging that changes of policy on various issues could only occur by action of General Convention—and quite apart from any “consensus” in the wider Communion.
Third, we strongly urged an end to extra-provincial incursions by uninvited bishops. We insisted on fulfillment of the promise to implement a “listening process” around the Communion on matters of human sexuality. And we encouraged the Archbishop of Canterbury in his “expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference.”
Finally, I offer two thoughts—one hopeful and one not so.
Here is the hopeful thought: Since our meeting I have been heartened by the generally positive response to our statement by the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates—many of whom, by the way, share our frustration that we have been prodded by a few (who do not have the authority to do so) to go through these machinations. I hope this process will lead to a more productive unity with those who really do cherish the broad traditions of Anglicanism. We shall see.
My not so hopeful thought, however, has to do with my nagging sense that in our fervor to preserve the institutional ties within our Communion, in some cases with provinces and persons who have already declared themselves out of communion with us, we have yet again postponed our full commitment to a truly inclusive church. If that is the case, then I seriously doubt that what we have said and done in New Orleans will either preserve the Anglican Communion as we have known it, or promote the gospel of Jesus as we have received it.
As always, I stand ready to visit and discuss these issues with clergy groups and or parish groups across our diocese.
Grace and peace,
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
On the matter of the concerns before us from the Primates and the rest of the Anglican Communion, I want to offer a few reflections. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, was with us to both hear from us and to share with us. In addition were members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates. They listened to us, were fully a part of our work, and spoke to us. I believe that we came away with a better understanding of one another. Of greatest importance, is that we understand what it means to be in communion, and on an even deeper level, what it means to be the Church. We are in challenging times, and also times of great opportunity, if we can truly listen to one another and walk together. My analogy is that when people are trying to walk and talk it is often the case that one is walking ahead of the other which makes it impossible for the other to hear or be heard. My hope and my prayer is that this meeting will make it possible for us to walk together and to truly listen, one to the other. Some of you may feel that we gave up too much; others may feel that we did not go far enough. I understand these feelings. It is critical that you know I have never seen the House of Bishops work more respectfully or more prayerfully. All bishops were engaged, across the theological spectrum.
Read it all.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As most of you are well aware, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church met September 19th -25th in New Orleans. Immediately following was a meeting of The Common Cause Partnership, held in Pittsburgh, September 25th - 28th. I attended both meetings, the second of which as an observer. Rather than come out with some statement immediately upon my return, I felt it necessary to take a few days to pray and reflect on all that occurred, as well as deal with all the diocesan business that was awaiting me upon my return. I would now like to share some of my thoughts and observations. I greatly appreciate your patience.
Regarding the House of Bishops’ Meeting, there were some hopeful things that occurred, as well as some frustrating and disappointing things, all of which I will speak more about in the following response. The main task confronting the bishops going into the meeting was how to respond to the February 2007 Dar es Salaam Communiqué from the Primates of the Anglican Communion.
Essentially we were asked to make a clear response to four areas of concern:
1) Will the House of Bishops make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will
not authorize any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through
2) Will the House of Bishops confirm that the passing of Resolution BO33 of the 75th
General Convention means that a candidate for Episcopal orders living in a same sex union
shall not receive the necessary consent; unless some new consensus on these matters
emerges across the Communion?
3) Will the House of Bishops allow participation in the pastoral scheme proposed in the Dar
es Salaam Communiqué which would provide an alternative Primatial Vicar for those
dioceses requesting it?
4) Will the House of Bishops respond favorably to the urging from the Primates for representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes to suspend all legal actions against one another?
The statement made by the House of Bishops in response to the four areas of concern just mentioned can be found on the Diocesan Website: http://www.albanyepiscopaldiocese.org/news/other/071002.html. As you might expect, there has been a great deal of debate and speculation these past several days regarding the bishops’ response and how it will be received by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Anglican Communion.
While some believe that the Bishops’ Statement adequately addresses the Primates’ concerns and will thereby be favorably received, helping to mend the “tear in the fabric” of our common life in Christ, others argue that it is more of the same, falling far short of the clear unequivocal response requested by the Primates. Unfortunately, the recently released Joint Standing Committee (JSC) Report on the House of Bishops’ response only adds to the confusion.
On the one hand the JSC report states, “We believe that the Episcopal Church has clarified all outstanding questions relating to their response to the questions directed explicitly to them, and on which clarifications were sought by the 30th of September and given the necessary assurance sought of them.” However, as stated by Archbishop Mouneer Aris, Primate of Jerusalem and the
Middle East, “It is very unfortunate that not all the members of the JSC were present when a response to the House of Bishops of TEC was drafted. The lack of discussion and interaction will not produce a report that expresses the view of the whole committee.” He went on to say, “the House of Bishops has not responded positively to either the Windsor Report or the Dar es Salam Primates’ recommendations.”
Ultimately, Archbishop Rowan Williams and the other Primates will decide for themselves as to the adequacy of the Bishops’ Statement. A copy of the JSC report has been sent to all the Anglican Communion Primates and members of the Anglican Consultive Council with the request that they respond back to the Archbishop of Canterbury by the end of October.
Given the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves in, with the very future of the Anglican Communion, The Episcopal Church and ultimately the Diocese of Albany at stake, I urge each of us to keep the Archbishop of Canterbury along with the other Primates and members of the ACC in our prayers as they attempt to discern God’s will in how best to move forward. This truly is a critical time in the life of the Church. As we have all been reminded, the very fabric of the Anglican Communion has been torn. The decisions that will be made in the coming weeks and months could very well determine whether the fabric can be mended or whether it will be completely ripped in half, leading to the breakup of the Anglican Communion. I believe such a development would be tragic, delivering a major blow to all of Christendom.
In John’s Gospel, we read Jesus’ prayer for unity, “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one…I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world…I ask you to protect them from the evil one…Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth…I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:11, 14, 17, 20-21, 23) May our Lord ’s prayer for unity be our prayer. We are not just talking about the future relationship of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. The spread of the Gospel and the salvation of countless souls are at stake. The current environment within the Episcopal Church, with all the attacks and infighting is not very conducive to bringing people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
It is time to call a truce in the current battle, to give us time to rethink the road I am afraid the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion may very well go down if we are not careful. There is enough guilt, blame, pain and hurt to cover all sides. It is easy to point fingers at one another, blaming the other for the mess that we are in, but the reality is, we are all guilty. We have all contributed to the broken state of affairs in the Church – conservative, liberal, orthodox, revisionist -- whatever classification or label we might have. We are all in need of asking for forgiveness and offering forgiveness. Part of the House of Bishops inability to work more closely with one another and with the wider Anglican Communion is a result of past hurts and offenses that have never healed, been forgiven, or honestly dealt with. With that said, however, there are hopeful signs with the current governance of the House of Bishops that some healing can start taking place.
Genuine theological differences are another major contributing factor to the House’s inability to offer a more clear response to the Primates’ request. While the final statement made by the House of Bishops was much better than it started out, it fell far short of what I and several other Windsor Bishops had hoped for. It does however show the division within the House over the issues we are struggling with. Much of the apparent ambiguity in the response was actually an indication that the House is not all of one mind, but in fact is divided, despite various statements to suggest otherwise.
In the March 2007 Statement from the House of Bishops, the following remark was made: “In truth, the number of those who seek to divide our Church is small…The fact that we have among ourselves, and indeed encourage, a diversity of opinion on issues of sexuality should in no way be misunderstood to mean that we are divided, except among a very few, in our love for The Episcopal Church…”
During the House of Bishops Meeting, I along with other conservative bishops challenged the above statement. At the very least I believe this statement is inaccurate and fails to acknowledge the pain, frustration, embarrassment and anger that thousands of theologically conservative and orthodox Episcopalians are experiencing throughout the Episcopal Church. I’m not sure what is more frustrating, the fact that the statement was ever made, or that some actually believe it in light of the growing exodus of some of our largest parishes to include Christ Church, Plano (the largest Episcopal Church in the nation); Falls Church, VA; Truro Church, VA; the Pro Cathedral of St. Clement, El Paso; as well as numerous other smaller churches around the country, not to mention the tens of thousands of individual Episcopalians who have left the Episcopal Church in the last few years to go elsewhere because they cannot support the current direction of the National Church and because they are tired of fighting. In discussing the March statement, I pointed out that not only did I believe it was inaccurate for the reasons just mentioned, but to suggest that the number of people upset about the current state of affairs in the Church is “small” or “a very few” is insulting, insinuating that their views are insignificant. I stated, “I don’t consider myself or others who share similar theological views to be insignificant.” Fortunately, attempts to put similar statements in the September HOB response were not approved.
In the various attempts these past several years, as well intentioned as some of them may have been, to correct past injustices and make The Episcopal Church more inclusive, reaching out to the marginalized in society (particularly within the homosexual community), the Church has unfortunately become more exclusive, creating a new class of victims – the traditional orthodox believers. Clergy and laity alike, who acknowledge the authority of Holy Scripture, recognizing it as the revealed Word of God, and who believe the faith proclaimed in the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, as well as the traditional moral teachings of the Church, now find themselves under attack not only from the world as Jesus warned they would, but even more disturbingly, from within the Church itself. I believe the growing exodus of thousands and thousands of Episcopalians out of the Episcopal Church to CANA, AMiA, and the various other Anglican bodies that are springing up bear witness to the truth of this statement. The average Sunday attendance in The Episcopal Church across the United States is now under 800,000.
If we are to stop the current downward spiral of The Episcopal Church and the unraveling of the Anglican Communion, it is essential that the leadership of the Episcopal Church (Lay and Ordained) as well as the leadership of the wider Anglican Communion acknowledge the reality of the crisis we are in and then commit ourselves to work together to identify and honestly address the issues that have brought us to this point. While some are working toward this goal, much more still needs to be done. One thing is certain, if there is to be a turn around in the Church, there must be a viable place for the conservative orthodox voice. I was pleased at the September meeting that more conservative orthodox bishops began speaking up. I was also encouraged by the greater sense of cooperation between bishops of highly differing views. The warm reception that I, as a conservative bishop, have personally received by the vast majority of the bishops has been greatly appreciated and ads to my sense of hope for the future.
Some of the major problems we find ourselves confronted with include how to work through the very real theological differences in understanding of Holy Scripture and its authority in our lives; how to live out one’s human sexuality in a manner that is pleasing to God; how to best minister to those who find themselves to be homosexual; and what it means to live in communion with one another, exercising appropriate discipline when necessary while at the same time not falling into Satan’s trap of dividing ourselves into opposing camps at war with one another. As Jesus himself said, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house.” (Luke 11:17) The more we divide the weaker and less effective we become in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
While not compromising Himself by conforming to or adopting the ways of the world, Jesus didn’t isolate himself from people living sinful lives, as we currently seem to be doing by saying who we will and won’t associate with. But rather, he ate and drank and socialized with them. His presence amongst them brought transformation and healing into their brokenness. It is time that we recognize that we are all broken and that our enemy is not the person who thinks differently than we do, but Satan and the powers of evil who are intent on confusing, dividing and destroying us. If we are to overcome the chaos, confusion and division that threaten our Church, we must unite with one another in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Unity for unity sake is of little value. True meaningful unity within the Church can only occur in and through Christ. As you have heard me say over and over again, we must keep our focus on Christ as we go through the midst of the current storm we find ourselves in. Jesus is “the Way, and the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6) If we come humbly before the Lord, seeking His guidance, He will lead us, giving us the grace we need to work with those of a different mind, while we work toward a common understanding. I am not suggesting that it will be easy, but just the opposite. It will take tremendous effort, great humility, forgiveness, patience, understanding, and grace, depending not upon ourselves, but rather upon our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us. Apart from Christ we will fail, but in and through Christ ALL things are possible. It is for this reason that I have hope and am unwilling to write this person or that person or this group or that group off. I am constantly reminded of Paul’s Damascus Road experience and how an encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, turned one of the greatest enemies of the Church into one of the greatest saints of the Church.
A member of our Diocese recently emailed me and asked, “Can you give me any good reason (s) why I should remain a member of TEC (The Episcopal Church)?” In response to my friend who asked this question and to all the others who are thinking it, I offer the following reasons:
The Diocese of Albany including each of its parishes is The Episcopal Church within the 19 counties and 20,000 square miles that make up its borders.
The Bishop and leadership of this Diocese are Christ centered, and are committed to helping the Diocese live out The Great Commandment and The Great Commission, sharing the love and Good News of Jesus Christ, proclaiming Him as Lord and Savior, The Way, the Truth and the Life.
The Lord is doing a mighty work in the Diocese of Albany, pouring out his Holy Spirit on the various ministries of the Diocese, particularly in the ministry of healing.
At its best, The Episcopal Church as a member of the Anglican Communion has much to offer the larger Church, through its rich history, liturgy and tradition as well as its unique position uniting the best of Catholicism and Protestantism into one faith.
The Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion, although far from perfect, are worth fighting for. There is no perfect Church this side of Heaven. And yet even in our brokenness, God’s strength can shine forth.
You are a unique child of God, created in His image and likeness. We love and need you. I say this to all the members of this Diocese, regardless of where you find yourselves on the theological spectrum.
While being very conscious of the length of this letter and your time in reading it, there are a couple more things that I need to comment on. Regarding that which was asked by the Primates of the Anglican Communion, while I can’t speak for the entire House of Bishops, I will speak for myself as the Bishop of Albany and a member of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.
1) I will not authorize or permit any Rite of Blessing (public or private) for same-sex unions in this Diocese for the following reasons:
There is no Biblical president or support in either the Old or New Testament for such blessings. To do so would be encouraging individuals to live in a lifestyle that I believe is contrary to God’s Word as revealed in the teachings of Holy Scripture and 2000 years of Church tradition, and is therefore not in a person’s best interest to do so.
I recognize that many in our Church see this as a “justice issue.” I strongly believe that the Church has a responsibility to fight injustice protecting the dignity of all human beings, and to reach out and minister to all people including those who find themselves to be homosexual. The Church needs to reassure all people of God’s love for them and His gift of salvation made possible for all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, accepting Him as Lord and Savior. While God loves ALL His children, He does not necessarily approve of or bless all of our behavior. For this reason and the reasons listed above, I believe the Church would in fact be doing a great injustice to our homosexual brothers and sisters in Christ, by blessing same sex unions, even when those unions are within the confines of a loving and committed relationship.
As a member of the Anglican Communion, I believe The Episcopal Church has a responsibility to the other members of the Communion who have clearly stated that such blessings are not appropriate and in fact to authorize them would cause great pain, suffering and damage throughout the wider Communion.
2) While the interpretation of Resolution BO33 of the 75th General Convention seems to be
somewhat debatable, depending on who you talk to, as the Bishop of Albany, I will not
consent to any candidate for Episcopal orders living in a same sex union or anyone
involved in sexual relations outside of marriage between a man and woman, unless some
new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion. I make this
commitment for the same reasons listed above. I would remind us that in 1991,
the General Convention passed Resolution B020, addressing “human sexuality issues.” It concluded by saying, “these potentially divisive issues… should not be resolved by the
Episcopal Church on its own.” Unfortunately, we failed to heed our own warning which
proved to be very prophetic.
3) In regard to lawsuits, I believe every effort should be made by the Church to avoid going
to court over property issues. Once you go to court, everyone loses, the Diocese, the
Parish, the local community and the Church at large. There has to be a more Christian
manor of resolving legal disputes than the one currently being employed by the National
Church in dioceses across the country. I applaud those bishops who have tried to deal
with these issues in a pastoral way.
Finally in reference to the meeting of the Common Cause Partnership in Pittsburgh, as mentioned at the beginning of this letter, I did attend the meeting as an observer. I believe I have a responsibility as your bishop to be as informed as I can be regarding the current situation facing our Church. As I stated at the Diocesan Convention in June, it is my hope and prayer that we never have to decide between the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion. We are currently a member of both. God willing, we will stay that way. You will recall at the Diocesan Convention, I stated if either The Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion took any action that would require us to choose between one or the other, I would call for a Special Convention, at which time we would come together as a Diocese to decide how best to respond to whatever confronts us. To date, there is no need for such an action. Again, I pray there never will be.
With that said, as much as I love The Episcopal Church (even with all its current frustrations) and as much as I love the Anglican Communion, I love the Lord Jesus Christ most of all. As your bishop, I will do everything within my power, through the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to remain Christ centered, seeking His will in all that we do, as we move forward living out The Great Commandment and The Great Commission. May we never loose sight of who we are as children of God and the mission entrusted to us by our Lord Himself, to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything He has commanded. In so doing, our Lord promised he would never leave us, but would be with us to the end of the age.” God’s peace.
Faithfully Yours in Christ,
(The Rt. Rev. Bill Love is Bishop of Albany
On the issue of same sex unions, I argued that our statement be reflective of what is true right now in the Episcopal Church: that while same sex blessings are not officially permitted in most dioceses, they are going on and will continue to go on as an appropriate pastoral response to our gay and lesbian members and their relationships. Earlier versions of our response contained both sides of this truth. I argued to keep both sides of that truth in the final version, providing the clarity asked for by the Primates.
Others made the argument that to state that “a majority of Bishops do not sanction such blessings” implied that a minority do in fact sanction such blessings, and many more take no actions to prevent them. All this without coming right out and saying so. That argument won the day. I think it was a mistake.
Another issue to which I spoke was this notion of “public” versus “private” rites. I pointed out on the floor that our very theology of marriage is based on the communal nature of such a rite. Presumably, the couple has already made commitments to one another privately, or else they would not be seeking Holy Matrimony. What happens in a wedding is that the COMMUNITY is drawn into the relationship – the vows are taken in the presence of that community and the community pledges itself to support the couple in the keeping of their vows. It is, by its very nature, a “public” event – no matter how many or how few people are in attendance. The same goes for our solemn commitments to one another as lgbt couples.
I suspect that these efforts to keep such rites “private” is just another version of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” If avoidance of further conflict is the goal, then I can understand it. But if speaking the truth in love is the standard by which we engage in our relationships with the Communion, then no.
Let me also state strongly that I believe that the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and Primates MISunderstood us when they stated that they understood that the HOB in fact “declared a ‘moratorium on all such public Rites.’” Neither in our discussions nor in our statement did we agree to or declare such a moratorium on permitting such rites to take place. That may be true in many or most dioceses, but that is certainly not the case in my own diocese and many others. The General Convention has stated that such rites are indeed to be considered within the bounds of the pastoral ministry of this Church to its gay and lesbian members, and that remains the policy of The Episcopal Church.
Read it all. I applaud this truthful witness, and what I believe to be an accurate explanation that the bishops were misunderstood. Why can't we have more people in this church who are willing to tell the truth?--KSH.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
Note: BabyBlue has posted a list of statements we compiled last night. These are all the statements we've seen so far. (A total of 40 dioceses). So you can easily see what we're missing!
If your bishop has made a statement and it's not yet been posted, please e-mail us the text or the link: T19elves@yahoo.com
Thanks to all who are sending in such helpful links. Keep 'em coming.
A few excerpts from various bishops' statements which haven't yet been posted here. They are in no particular order and range quite widely in content. To view the full statements by each bishop quoted below, in most cases, just click on the name of the diocese.
+John Howard of Florida
I believe firmly that the Episcopal Church must be “true to itself.” It must honor its own nature and traditions in order to be an effective leader in this country, in the Anglican Communion, and in the world. […] We affirmed our commitment not to adopt any rite or service for the blessing of same-sex unions, even though we acknowledged that in a relatively small handful of dioceses some priests are performing such services without an official liturgy and as a purely pastoral matter. This is, of course, not the case in the Diocese of Florida and will not be for so long as I am your bishop.
+Todd Ousley of Eastern Michigan
I believe that we have fully responded to the requests of the Primates and have demonstrated our intent to be faithful to the Windsor Process. Despite some media reports to the contrary, I believe the statement to be a significant step toward healing division within the Communion and a reaffirmation of The Episcopal Church’s commitment to justice and dignity for all people.
+Chilton Knudson, Diocese of Maine:
In Maine, we are profoundly blessed by two realities: The ministries of gay and lesbian layfolk and clergy whom we cherish and support AND the ministries of people (lay and ordained) whose conscientious convictions cause them serious difficulty about the ministries of gay and lesbian folks in (at least) some aspects of our diocesan ministry. I pray we will always be an ANGLICAN diocese; a diocese which embraces and respects a great range of difference within the Body of Christ. My own personal, prayerful, position, has never been a secret: I believe that, by virtue of our baptism, God calls ALL of us into ministry and into all four orders of ministry (laypeople, deacon, priest and bishop). My position is unchanged.
The General Convention of the Episcopal Church is paramount in our governance, and unlike other Provinces where bishops are regarded as close to Almighty God in authority, we are committed to a democratic and inclusive form of government for our church.
A central charism of our church is that we all can be different--and differ widely from each other in opinion and practice--but always we are able to find our union in the Eucharist. Our history shows us our ability to remain united in the midst of controversies like slavery, discrimination and racism, birth control, remarriage of divorced persons, Prayer Book revisions and women's ordination.
But his pastoral letter and written "reflections" are much tamer than what he is reported to have told the Diocesan clergy at their clergy day shortly after the HoB meeting.
+Mark Hollingsworth of Ohio:
In the letter that proceeded from our meeting in March of this year, we stated, "We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church." You will see that these words are repeated near the end of this week's response to our Communion partners. It is a specific charism of The Episcopal Church to advocate for the civil rights and leadership gifts of gay and lesbian persons, by both our words and our actions. This need not conflict with our uncompromised commitment to continued relationship within the Anglican Communion, rather it may be an essential and valuable part of it.
Bp Michael Smith of North Dakota:
Specifically, the Primates requested that we “make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorize any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention.” In response we pledged “not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action.” We also noted that “the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions.”
+Carolyn Tanner Irish of Utah (Kendall already posted the news article in which this quote appears, but in the avalanche of news back then, it was easy for many to miss this statement, so I'm reposting it)
In the meantime, Bishop Irish said she will continue to bless same-sex unions, acknowledging that there are “all kinds” of restraints that she must follow to make those blessings happen. Those restraints include not doing the blessing during a Sunday service and making sure each person is a member of the church.
In our statement—A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners—we were able to accommodate concerns of our more conservative members by reconfirming the charge of the 2006 General Convention (Resolution B033) for bishops and standing committees to “exercise restraint” in giving consent to episcopal elections in which the candidate’s lifestyle would pose a challenge to the wider church, and by acknowledging this charge applies to non-celibate gay and lesbian persons.In addition, we pledged not to authorize public rites of blessing for same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion.
Both of these declarations conflict with my understanding of an open and inclusive Church, a conviction that informed my vote against B033 in 2006 and one I reconfirmed in my message to our diocese following the Primates communiqué last February. However, from what I witnessed this past week in New Orleans, I realize these compromises are necessary at this point in our Communion’s discernment to ensure the fullest participation in our ongoing conversation. It is important to note that while our General Convention has acknowledged that blessings of same-sex unions have occurred in response to local pastoral needs, the Convention has never authorized the development of such rites. Our Church is likely to revisit both these matters at our next General Convention in 2009.
The full text is here
The House of Bishops' final statement, a response to the Dar es Salaam Communiqué and additional questions posed to the Episcopal Church, follows this letter. It is born out of much work, much challenge to one another and with a deep general conviction within the House of Bishops to remain deeply part of the Anglican Communion while at the same time being authentically who we are as part of that body in our context. We also wanted to claim where we have come thus far, believing our voice and our experience is of utmost importance to the life of the Anglican Communion and the Christian witness in the world. The House of Bishops is clear that we are not of one mind on many of these issues but we desire to remain a model for how differing views can in fact remain in conversation and yet still gather around one table. There was an overwhelming feeling that this is the true expression of Anglicanism and one we want to continue to live into.
The full text is here.
Note: Nothing in Bp. Rickel's statement suggests he is in any way repudiating his earlier stated policy:
"Rickel says he is comfortable continuing Bishop Warner's stance of letting individual priests decide whether to perform blessing ceremonies for same-sex unions."-- Seattle Times, Sept. 15, 2007
We encourage you to read this on the Diocese of Hawaii website, since Bp. Fitzpatrick intersperses his comments with the HoB statement -- on the Hawaii site different colors are used making it easier to distinguish the original text and the bishop's response. Here's an excerpt:
While I believe that the blessing of same-sex unions is an important and right evolution in the life of Christ’s Church and I am formulating my own understanding of the topic for public teaching and critique, The Episcopal Church has not authorized such rites and we have no clear teaching (or even a mind of the House of Bishops preliminary report) on this matter. In keeping with this statement, I will therefore not authorize such public blessings of same-sex unions in the Diocese of Hawai`i and I formally ask the clergy of this Diocese to refrain from officiating in any liturgies in our churches that might be construed by the reasonable outside observer as a formal public “blessing” or “marriage” of a same-sex couple. As a Church in the catholic tradition, individual priests and vestries (or, in my mind, bishops and dioceses) have no authority to act unilaterally in such matters. We are not congregationalists or presbyterians. Our catholic heritage demands a broader action of a national church in consultation with the Communion worldwide (even if the local national church chooses to act on its own in keeping with its canons and governance). This part of the House of Bishops statement is a response, I think, to the need to have clearer teaching before acting. It is a fair statement of our Church at this time, though the limits for this Diocese noted above are my own.
The full text is here.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
Bishop John Bryson Chane said that the Diocese of Washington does not have an authorized rite for blessing same-sex relationships. However, he added that the statement passed by the bishops will allow such blessings to continue in the diocese.
--From the front page of the latest Washington Window, a newsletter of the diocese of Washington. Could the degree of word games and the refusal to do what the Tanzania Communique asked for be any clearer?
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
“Boycott is not a word that I used. The problem is that the Lambeth conference has been for 150 years where Bishops gather together to teach. That is the main reason for it - to exercise their office as teachers of the faith for the worldwide communion.
We have been told this time that this is not what it will do. So the question arises what is it for and will it be worthwhile since it is a hugely costly exercise. I am very happy to talk with people at any time that is mutually convenient. The Lambeth Conference is not just such an occasion. It is a meeting of bishops for particular purposes. There are churches and bishops who were requested, there were pleas to them by everyone from every quarter, not to do what the whole communion had said was contrary to God’s purpose. They went ahead and did it. Now the intention is to have those bishops at the Lambeth Conference and the person consecrated also. Under such circumstances, and as matters stand, I could not go. I do not want to single out Gene Robinson
Read it all.
The Next Twenty Years
for Anglican Christians
‘Crisis’, ‘schism’, ‘division’, ‘break-up’ – this has been the language of the last five years in the Anglican Communion. Again and again we have reached ‘defining moments’, ‘crucial meetings’ and ‘turning points’, only to discover that they simply lead into another period of uncertainty.
Uncertainty is now over. The decisive moments have passed. Irreversible actions have occurred. The time has come for sustained thought about a different future. The Anglican Communion will never be the same again. The Windsor process has failed, largely because it refused to grapple with the key issue of the truth. A new and more biblical vision is required to help biblically faithful Anglican churches survive and grow in the contemporary world.
Some have still set their hopes on the Lambeth Conference. But that is to misunderstand the significance of our time. It can no longer either unify Anglicanism or speak with authority. The invitations have gone to virtually all, and it is likely that some of those not invited will still attend as guests. There are faithful Anglican bishops who are not invited, and there are others who cannot be present in good conscience. The solemn words of the 1998 Conference were ignored by the American Church in 2003, and any authority which we may have ascribed to the deliberations of the Bishops has been lost permanently. Not surprisingly, Lambeth 2008 is not going to attempt a similar exercise in conciliar pronouncements. Why would it? There is no vision here.
The key defining moment on the liberal side was the consecration of Bishop Robinson of New Hampshire. At first it was hoped that this was a mere aberration, that it could be dealt with by returning to where we were. In fact it was a permanent action with permanent consequences. It truly expressed the heart-felt views of the greater part of the leadership of the American Episcopal Church. The only way in which steps can be retraced is by repudiating the action itself, a development impossible to contemplate. That was the year of decision for the American church, and the decision was made in the clear light of day. They knew what they were doing.
The American House of Bishops has now responded to the Primates. Many have seen in their pronouncements sufficient conformity to the request of the Primates to enable the Communion to continue on its way. I do not read their statement like that. I think that they have failed to meet the hopes of the Primates. But the significance of the document at this level hardly matters. The document taken as a whole makes the real issue abundantly clear. Sexual rights are gospel.
The Americans are firmly committed to the view that the practice of homosexual sex in a long term relationship is morally acceptable. Not only is it acceptable, it is demanded by the gospel itself that we endorse this lifestyle as Christian. They are prepared to wait for a short time while the rest of the Communion catches up. But they do not intend to reverse their decisions about this and they do intend to proclaim this message wherever possible. They want to persuade us that they are right, and that the rest of us should embrace this development. Here is a missionary faith.
The biblical conservatives and their allies in Africa and Asia knew this. They did not need to wait for the House of Bishops. They took irreversible steps to secure the future of some of the biblical Anglicans in North America. I say ‘some’, because it is often forgotten that faithful Canadian Anglicans are living in a Diocese where the blessing of same sex unions is diocesan policy. What if TEC has been judged to conform to the Primates wishes? The Diocese of New Westminster certainly has not. What is to be done for the orthodox in that Diocese? What will happen if British Anglicans follow this route? This sort of question shows why a new vision and further action will be needed.
The response of the Primates has involved the provision of episcopal oversight. This, too, has changed the nature of the Anglican Communion. From now on there will inevitably be boundary crossing and the days of sacrosanct diocesan boundaries are over. Anglican episcopacy now includes overlapping jurisdictions and personal rather than merely geographical oversight. If the sexual revolution becomes more broadly accepted elsewhere, so other Bishops will be appointed as they have been in the USA. This is the new fact of Anglican polity. How are these developments going to be incorporated into world-Anglicanism? What future should we be thinking of? Where is our vision for them? Hand-wringing is not the answer.
The aim of the Archbishop of Canterbury was to retain the highest level of fellowship in the Communion. He believed that truth will be found in communion, in inclusion rather than exclusion. From his point of view, an extended passage of time is vital. What matters for the Archbishop is not this Lambeth, but the next one and the one after that. Will those who have initiated this novelty relent and give up their commitments? Or will the objectors tire of their fuss and concede the point? Since the likelihood of the American church repenting of its action is remote, the hope must be that those who now protest will eventually weary of their protest and learn to live with the novelty of active gay bishops.
The Archbishop has revealed his hopes through a lecture on biblical interpretation, ‘The Bible Today: Reading and Hearing’. delivered in Canada in April 2007. In this lecture he addresses the very heart of the controversy, by challenging conservative interpretations of Romans 1 and John 14, and thus raising the issues of interpretation, human sexuality and the uniqueness of Christ as Mediator. He has signalled the importance of hermeneutics for our future. His lecture shows that there is an unavoidable contest about the meaning of the Bible in these crucial areas ahead of us. It is a challenge which must be met at a theological level. We may think that this whole business is about politics and border-crossing and ultimatums and conferences, but in fact it is about theology and especially the authority and interpretation of Scripture.
That leads to this fundamental conclusion. Those who believe that the American development is wrong must also plan for the next decades, not the next few months. There is every reason to think that the Western view of sexuality will eventually permeate other parts of the world. After all, it has done so spectacularly in the West, and the modern communication revolution has opened the way for everyone to be aware of what happens in New York, London, San Francisco and Brighton.
Thus the question before the biblically orthodox in the Communion is this: what new vision of the Anglican Communion should we embrace? Where should it be in the next twenty years? How can we ensure that the word of God rules our lives? How are we going to guard ourselves effectively against the sexual agenda of the West and begin to turn back the tide of Western liberalism? What theological education must we have? How can we now best network with each other? Who is going to care for Episcopalians in other western provinces who are going to be objecting to the official acceptance of non-biblical practices? The need for high level discussion of these issues is urgent.
As an initial step I look to the Global South leadership to call for another ‘Blast of the Trumpet.’ The ensuing consultation must start with the reality of where we are now, and look steadfastly to a future in which the bonds of Communion have been permanently loosened. It has to strengthen the fellowship by which churches will help each other to guard their theological good health while engaging together with the task of preaching the gospel to an unbelieving world.
In any case, the basic issue is no longer how can the communion be kept together. It is, within the Communion as it has now become, how can biblical Anglicans help each other survive and mission effectively in the contemporary world? The Africans have shown a commendable concern for this very issue and taken steps to assist the western church. They have recognised that the gospel sometimes divides and sometimes requires new and startling initatives. We must now all take the actions and do the thinking required to safeguard biblical truth, not merely in the West but throughout the Anglican world. To fail here, will be to waste the time and effort which has brought us to this fateful hour.
--Dr. Peter Jensen is the Archbishop of Sydney
Why I Voted No
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.
(Robert Frost, “Mending Wall”)
He is our peace, making both groups into one and
destroying the barrier formed by the dividing wall,
the hostility between us. (Ephesians 2:14)
You may have read that in New Orleans on September 25 there was one vote opposed to the adoption of “A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners,” the House of Bishops’ reply to the demands made of the Episcopal Church by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in their February 19 communiqué from Dar es Salaam. That vote was mine. Let me explain.
Like others, I am deeply concerned about, and committed to, the unity of the Anglican Communion and, beyond it, that of the church catholic and ecumenical; the Body of Christ.
But the unity of the Anglican Communion is not based on the uniformity of its thirty-eight provinces, each of which brings to the whole the unique gift of who it is under the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We, the Episcopal Church, are not today what we used to be, nor are we what we may be tomorrow.
Today, however, we are a church that endeavors to honor each individual for who she or he is, recognizing that, among other gifts, some are by nature gay or lesbian in their sexual orientation and, furthermore, should be as free as straight persons to make, with the church’s blessing, a life-long commitment of their lives to another.
In this belief, at the 2006 General Convention, I was one of sixteen bishops who voted against Resolution B033 calling upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees “to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”
Howsoever diffuse a connotation may have attended the language of “restraint” then, its meaning was tightened on September 25 when the House of Bishops concurred “with Resolution EC011 of the Executive Council, commending the Report of the Communion Sub-Group of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion as an accurate evaluation of Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention.”
The Sub-Group had noted that “by requiring that the restraint must be expressed in a particular way – ‘by not consenting …’, the resolution is calling for a precise response, which complies with the force of the recommendation of the Windsor Report” – the finding of the Lambeth Commission on Communion published October 18, 2004, in response to problems stemming from the reaction of conservatives to the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire. The group also noted “that while the Windsor Report restricted its recommendation to candidates for the episcopate who were living in a same gender union, the resolution at General Convention widened this stricture to apply to a range of lifestyles which present a wider challenge. The group welcomed this widening of the principle, which was also recommended by the Windsor Report, and commends it to the Communion.”
When, on September 25, the House of Bishops adopted this interpretation of B033 and affirmed that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains, knowing that resolutions are recommendatory, not canonically mandatory, and that therefore compliance is voluntary, I honestly could not promise I would not consent to the election of a gay or lesbian priest to the episcopate.
--(The Rt. Rev.) Charles Bennison is Bishop of Pennsylvania
The House of Bishops went on to “pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. In the near future we hope to be able to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide listening process. In the meantime, it is important to note that no rite of blessing for persons living in same-sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. In addition to not having authorized liturgies, the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions.”
I am not party to that majority. Consequently, again because resolutions are recommendatory, not mandatory, and because I could not presume that our clergy would cease from asking me for allowances to bless the union of gay or lesbian couples, I did not feel that in honesty I could voluntarily promise I would deny (though I have on occasion) such requests. Usually, indeed, I have granted permission if the vestry supports the priest in what is proposed, the priest agrees to make the marriage public in the parish, the priest has carried out the usual marriage counseling, and if, in my judgment, the union will prove to be a blessing to the church and the wider community as it usually has long already been.
Because the Book of Common Prayer includes a rubric stating that “for special days of fasting or thanksgiving, appointed by civil of Church authority, and for other special occasions for which no service or prayer has been provided in this Book, the bishop may set forth such forms as are fitting to the occasion,” I provide our clergy with “A Rite of Commitment to a Life Together,” of which I was a co-author in 1996, and ask that they use it for the service.
Despite the bishops stated effort on September 25 to be “clear and outspoken in our shared commitment to establish and protect the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons, and to name and oppose at every turn any action or policy that does violence to them, encourages violence toward them, or violates their dignity as children of God,” and their articulated support of “the Archbishop of Canterbury in his expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference” (although, unlike the rest of us, he has not yet been invited), their mutual agreement to cease from consenting to the election of non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy to the episcopate and from allowing same-sex unions buttresses our society’s homophobia and heterosexism, and effects the very violence they sincerely deplore.
The “Response” equally encourages sexist violence against women by providing an alternative for bishops who refuse to welcome our duly-elected Presiding Bishop into their dioceses. While the Presiding Bishop was magnificent in her leadership of the New Orleans meeting, as she has been through her ministry as our primate this past year, I could not support her plan for episcopal visitors for dioceses that request alternative oversight, commended by the House of Bishops’ “Response,” any more than I could vote for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) several years ago as affirmed by the Windsor Report, which with the episcopal visitors’ plan is seen as being consistent.
The most theologically misconstrued and ultimately un-pastoral part of the “Response,” however, comes when, after rightly saying they “deplore incursions into our jurisdictions by uninvited bishops and call for them to end,” the bishops turn around and express their expectation that “the Presiding Bishop will continue conversation with those dioceses that may feel the need for” episcopal ministries other than those of their own bishops, and that she will seek “communion-wide consultation with respect to the pastoral needs of those seeking alternative oversight.” Such actions would, if they occurred, smack of incursions – simply more softly and subtly made.
Before any of the four gospels was written, the Apostle Paul gave definition to “the gospel” of Christian theology over against the influential challenge of Gnostic thought.
Had Gnosticism won, the church would have become a club characterized by like-minded people. In the unlikely event such a church would have had bishops, their dioceses would have been made up of people who agreed with them – about the role of women, the place of gay and lesbian persons, or any passing issue of the day. Their churches would have been homogeneous communities walled off from one another.
But just as the poet knew that “something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” Paul understood that in Jesus every “barrier formed by the dividing wall” has been broken down. As it happened, Pauline thought prevailed, making possible a church that would be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic – a heterogeneous church made up of “all sorts and conditions,” a corpus mixtum united not by uniformity of thought or action or feeling, but ultimately and only by the love we know in Christ.
Afraid we may be walled off from the Anglican Communion, and the Communion from us, in New Orleans my beloved episcopal colleagues did not, as some have commented, simply describe where we are now as a church. They built higher and thicker walls. They diminished the rich meaning of the Anglican Communion. They undermined the catholicity of the church.
I voted no because I believe we Episcopalians should be who we are, howsoever unique we may be, and offer ourselves freely as our gift to the Communion. If the Communion cannot accept us as we are at present, we can still humbly offer other gifts others may receive – our companion relationships, our hands-on labor, our financial support, our seminary training, and our daily prayers. Such strikes me as the kenotic approach of self-oblation, self-emptying, to which the gospel calls us.
Many are of course asking: Does the House of Bishops’ statement honor the primates’ specific requests? That isn’t completely clear. Cyberspace is already ablaze with radically different analyses of what the bishops said. My own assessment is that the House’s answer to the first question is a fairly unambiguous Yes, the answer to the second somewhat less so (particularly with the proviso concerning General Convention, and in the implication that some bishops do in fact authorize liturgies for same-sex unions). As a matter of full disclosure, I should say that I argued on the floor of the House for the removal of the implicit recognition (which, I fear, could be taken for approval) that some bishops authorize liturgies; but the consensus of the House moved in a different direction. Although I was not able to speak directly to the phrase “or until General Convention takes further action,” I would have preferred that those words had been removed as well: the matter of liturgies for the blessing of same-sex unions is one that should involve the whole Communion, and not just our own province.
In the end, however, I voted in favor of the bishops’ statement. It is not perfect; it could have been stronger and clearer, especially regarding the primates’ second request; yet it does, I think, move the church in a Communion-affirming direction, and demonstrate a willingness to discover more profoundly what it means to be interdependent members of a worldwide Christian family, linked together by our communion with the historic See of Canterbury. My colleagues across the theological spectrum showed remarkable charity toward one another as we crafted the statement phrase by phrase. The process was long, exhausting, and at times excruciating. While none of us can say that the statement contains everything that we would have wanted, I believe that it reflects many of my concerns, and I am able to support it with a good conscience and an open heart.
Read it all.
Dear Friends in Christ:
I returned home last night from the week-long House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans . I have much to say about that meeting, including a description of the inspiring Katrina recovery work our church is engaged in there, and further thanks to you for your contributions to it. But space (and time) only permit me to say so much in this particular medium. So, please consider this Part I of my report. (Part II will come next week.)
First of all, I want to say how grateful I am for your prayers. I was pleased, along with all the bishops, to receive a beautiful “Prayer Shawl” made for us as a pledge of prayerful support by National Episcopal Health Ministries. It was a wonderful gift, and it reminded me not just of their prayers, but of yours. I know that many of you were praying for us. I certainly felt it. I am grateful.
If you have not yet read the HOB statement entitled “A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners,” I hope that you will do so. I also ask that copies be made available in all our congregations. The text of the statement can be found on the Episcopal News Service website: http://episcopalchurch.org/79901_90457_ENG_HTM.htm
It must be said: watch out for the media reports on this matter. Even a very able reporter for our own Episcopal News Service attributed words to me which I did not speak. (I addressed the House about the problem of incursions into our dioceses from extra-provincial bishops, and my comments were largely incorporated into the final version of the Response; the subsequent article quoted me speaking on General Convention Resolution B033, about which I said not a word!) It was an honest error, but it serves as a reminder to be very careful in taking in and responding to what we read—being most especially careful (as the Windsor Report reminds us to be) with on-line communications.
The passage of the Response was nearly unanimous—there was only one dissenting voice. As expected, people are interpreting that statement in various ways, largely reflecting their various interests. I spoke with one of the more conservative bishops in the airport on the way home yesterday, and I think his assessment is basically correct: “The center held. The center has grown larger and stronger.” I agree, and. as a self-described radical moderate, I find that trend to be very gratifying.
The Archbishop of Canterbury himself told us (corroborating what we heard last March) that the Primates’ Communiqué was not an ultimatum, and that September 30 was not a deadline. Several members of the Joint Standing Committee who were with us indicated their support and appreciation. (Nevertheless, “Demands Rejected” read one newspaper headline….) No matter what you may read, the HOB Response is not a defiant rejection, but a candid description of our differences, a good faith commitment to the Windsor process, and a very positive expression of desire to continue working in partnership with all members of the Anglican Communion for the sake of our common mission.
Archbishop Akinola is said to be unhappy with our Response. That is no surprise, since he has already established 4 bishops for counter-TEC work in this country. No one thought for a moment that they would stand down, even if we had given everything he says he wants from us. It is clear, then, that mere appeasement is not an option. Instead, protecting the integrity of The Episcopal Church, we are seeking to work with the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates, and the Archbishop of Canterbury to be fully active and faithful participants in the Anglican Communion. The Joint Standing Committee has already indicated preliminary appreciation of our Response. They will meet and report to the Archbishop of Canterbury, perhaps as early as today or tomorrow; soon thereafter, we should be hearing some additional word from him.
Not all members of the House were happy with all aspects of the final Response, me included. But everyone present was listened to and valued. Everyone agreed to give something for the sake of our unity. Worship was central to our work, the serious work of building true community, and of being attentive to the guidance of the Spirit. We know that we cannot have common discernment if we do not have common prayer.
I remain committed to the Windsor Process as the best way forward for us. I remain committed to the full inclusion of all baptized Christians in the full life of the Church. These things you have heard from me before. I am pleased to report that there was ample room for me at the House of Bishops table. I am also pleased to tell you that the quality of leadership I am seeing in my fellow bishops and our Presiding Bishop is inspiring. I have great confidence in The Episcopal Church, and in the Diocese of Northern California.
Grace and peace to you all.
--(The Rt. Rev.) Barry Beisner is Bishop of Northern California
The leader of Episcopalians in Vermont stands by his church's progressive treament of gay and lesbian couples in Vermont, despite opposition from conservatives in his denomination and an ambiguous national policy on the blessing of same-sex unions.
Thomas C. Ely, the Episcopal bishop of Vermont, played an active role in the recent meeting of the Episcopal House of Bishops that answered a communiqué by the Anglican Communion objecting to policies regarding gays and lesbians in the American church.
"Our church, the Episcopal Church, has continually spoken out and been an advocate for the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons in our culture, and certainly here in Vermont that's key to our mission and ministry," Ely said Sunday, during an interview at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Bennington, where he took part in the Cornerstone Centennial Celebration.
The Episcopal Church in the U.S. is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a fellowship of churches that trace their roots back to the Church of England. Over the past several decades, homosexuality has become a divisive issue, particularly with the election in 2003 of...[Gene] Robinson, a gay man in a relationship, to become bishop of New Hampshire. In addition, some Episcopal dioceses — including the Diocese of Vermont — permit the blessing of same-sex couples as a pastoral decision by clergy.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
Yesterday I returned from the House of Bishops meeting. It was a week that showed us the challenges that lie ahead and the hope that we Christians hold on to tenaciously, especially as our meeting was in New Orleans, a city that still shows very clearly the scars of Hurricane Katrina.
The work that the Episcopal Church continues to do in Louisiana and Mississippi in the aftermath of the hurricane should make you proud. Other churches were present in the days immediately following the storm, but the Episcopal Church continues its hard work two years later. Our people are still building houses, counseling the broken hearted, and establishing vital services for residents whose world has been turned upside down.
On Thursday evening, we gathered for worship and to receive an offering for our ongoing work in the two states devastated by Katrina. The presiding bishop asked each diocese to bring $10,000. We in Arkansas met the challenge from our emergency fund. When gifts from across the church were gathered, the total was almost $1 million.
Saturday the bishops and spouses fanned out across the city for a work day. Some people hung drywall, some painted, and some (including your bishop) planted community gardens to bring tangible signs of life to neighborhoods that so desperately need it. I was greatly moved when I stood both in a house's front lawn and later in a church, and saw there, higher than my head, the still-remaining marks of flood waters. But the people of New Orleans are resilient. Hope is replacing despair.
I am also reminded that hope can replace despair when I reflect on the work in New Orleans of the House of Bishops as we responded to the spring primates' communiqué regarding issues surrounding human sexuality. The house listened to the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Anglican Consultative Council, and they in turn listened to our witness to the larger church of the American experience. There is a huge love for the Anglican Communion among Episcopal bishops. Together we can do much to better the world. There is a profound respect for the fact that in the Episcopal Church all orders of ministry-lay and ordained-bear witness to the truth.
Our final statement reflected both our love and our witness in many ways. We stated that we will find ways that dioceses whose people feel disaffected in the Episcopal Church can feel included in our life. The witnesses of such dioceses are important. We stated that our love for the Communion is such that we will continue the policy enacted at the most recent General Convention of urging restraint in the election of bishops whose manner of life gives cause for concern. We stated that the witness of the church must be that the dignity of gay and lesbian persons is an unequivocal commitment. We stated that we will wait to discern the will of General Convention regarding authorized rites for the blessing of same sex unions, and in the meantime we will allow for a breadth of response to situations of individual pastoral care, as the primates themselves encouraged us in 2003.
We expressed our opposition to the crossing of jurisdictional boundaries by uninvited bishops. Such behavior fosters competing prayer, rather than the common prayer that has been historically foundational to the Anglican experience.
In November at clergy conference, I will talk with the members of the clergy about the work of the House of Bishops this past week. But I share with all of you now that our work in Arkansas continues as always: to find exciting ways to tell our ancient story to the next generation of people whose lives can be changed by the gospel. If we keep our focus on that work, there is nothing we cannot do.
--(The Rt. Rev.) Larry R. Benfield is Bishop of Arkansas
Q: And how does that get resolved, given the situation or position of some in the church?
A: I think it's resolved by patience and time, that as people -- I know anecdotally of African clergy who have been guests at American churches where one of the clergy, say, in a multi-staff church was gay and had adopted children, and it was a brand new experience for the African priest to experience that reality, and so getting to know people like that on a personal level has been very helpful.
Q: There's been a lot of hoopla leading up to this meeting, saying this is a make or break time for the communion, that the ultimate relationship between the Episcopal Church and the worldwide communion could be at stake. How do you assess where the relationship is?
A: I don't see this as a deadline or breakthrough meeting. It's an important meeting, but it seems to me that the relationships that we have worldwide, with dozens, hundreds of Anglicans worldwide are going to be intact. A very important meeting prior to this one occurred in July '07 outside of Madrid, where a group of about 25 American bishops, including me, met with about 30 African bishops, and the press was not invited, and it was very clear that the great majority of them wanted to continue in relationship. The Anglican Communion is not a juridical group where there is a clear method of kicking someone out, to put it bluntly. So if we are -- if our relationship is stressed with the rest of the communion to the breaking point, the break will come from others, not from us.
Read it all.
Q: Tell me about this meeting in Pittsburgh. What are you and all these groups trying to accomplish here?
A: There are 10 jurisdictions who have been working together, a growing number, we started as six in 2004, who have committed to make common cause for the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel as it has been received, and to make common cause for a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America. We are fragments, like some of us represent fragments, dioceses of the Episcopal Church that can't go down the road that the Episcopal Church is on, can't leave the faith once delivered, and other fragments [are] folks who as long as 134 years ago actually found themselves put out of the Episcopal Church because of their stand on the gospel and their belief that the Episcopal Church was shifting and wavering and moving away from its' reformation position. This meeting is a meeting in which these fragments, as bishops, and for the first time it's all the bishops of these 10 fragments from the US and Canada, they are together and we're together and what we've done is agree to the way in which we'll move forward, move forward forming a federation of the Common Cause Partners, pushing that schedule along, and before too long appealing to provinces within the communion to recognize this federation as a new ecclesiastical structure in the States, the very thing that a number of the primates just a year ago in September called for from Kigali as they looked to the problems in the US church and to the wavering and wandering of the majority.
Q: So the goal here is to create an alternative Anglican structure?
A: The goal has been to bring together all of those who stand on scripture, who stand with the tradition, who are committed to mission and who can't bring themselves to separate from what Christians have always believed. So we're working together as bishops, forming a college of bishops, again first ever meeting here, who can work together in mission. We've shared all kinds of ministry initiatives together, from ministry to youth, all kinds of exciting things with postmoderns to work with the global church in relief and development to the more ordinary matters of church planting. Indeed one of the calls of this conference was for us together to plant 1000 new churches, which would be quite something to see.
Read it all.
The Presiding Bishop asked me to serve on the writing committee that drafted the response. Along with seven other bishops, much of my time was devoted to this task. Three versions were presented over the course of two days before the final version was adopted. Beyond what you can read in our final version, I’m writing today to offer some personal commentary on this response.
I want you to know that I voted to support this document, although there are certain aspects of it which trouble me. Time will tell whether our response will be a helpful contribution to the current conversation; I sincerely hope that it will.
Arguably, the two most sensitive matters before us were consents to episcopal elections (Resolution B033 of the General Convention) and the authorization of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions. Addressing both of these matters, the House of Bishops reaffirmed the actions of the 2006 General Convention, and here I remind us all that the General Convention is the primary decision making body of The Episcopal Church.
Regarding episcopal elections (BO33), I believe our statement, “non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains,” went too far in the direction of trying to interpret a General Convention resolution, yet I can attest that some wanted an even stronger interpretation. The efforts to seek common ground are clearly evident in our writing on this matter.
The second matter addressed public rites of blessings for same-sex unions. Again, we rehearsed the actions of General Convention, which in 2006 took no action to authorize such rites. We acknowledged as well that “the majority of bishops make no allowance for the blessing of same sex unions.” Of course that means some bishops do. I am one who makes allowance for such blessings, and I intend to continue the current pastoral approach we have in place in the Diocese of Vermont for the blessing of holy unions. This was clearly addressed and understood in the House of Bishops.
Read it all. Ok, now follow the bouncing ball with me as we once again explore the Alice in Wonderland world of the Episcopal Church.
You may remember that back in 2004 the diocese of Vermont took some dramatic action:
Episcopalians in Vermont, in a "pastoral response" to the nation's first and only civil unions law, have unveiled liturgical rites that gay couples can use in the state's 48 Episcopal churches.
The worship guidelines, which look and sound like liturgies used for heterosexual weddings, are believed to be the first anywhere in the Anglican Communion that convey church blessings on gay civil partnerships.
The services are contained in a 36-page manual that was distributed to clergy, last month. A committee began drafting the rites in October, and they are expected to become of official in 2006.
The "blessing of holy unions" is backed by Vermont Bishop Thomas Ely. "It would help our people to have the experience of common liturgy where there's consistency in teaching, in language."
Read that very carefully. Got it? Liturgical rites that same sex couples may use, with an accompanying diocesan manual. And these rites are backed by Bishop Thomas Ely.
What was is that Tanzania was concerned about?
[The Episcopal Church is asked to] "1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144)."
Please observe carefully in that section the very important little word OR. It is not only through General Convention that the Primates in Tanzania did not want to see authorized blessings, but also at the diocesan level. So how are liturgical rites backed by the bishop not seen to be contrary to this? Only in a world where words mean what you want them to mean.
Q: Where does it leave the diocese of Chicago if Tracey Lind, an openly lesbian priest, is elected bishop?
A: We have a resolution of the General Convention that says we should exercise restraint, and we don't really know where that will take us, and we won't know until there is another bishop-elect who is gay or lesbian, and then we'll see how that happens. I think we're all exercising restraint in a sense that we know this is an important issue. We know it's a controversial issue, and only time will tell how that will go either with bishops or with standing committees. And remember in our church it's not just bishops who decide, but clergy and laity as well as the bishop.
Q: What did you learn at this meeting about the feelings of the rest of the world?
A: I think the international visitors underscored for me what we've known, but hearing it coming from their lips is even more powerful. Their contexts are so different from ours. It should not surprise us, but perhaps we're naive when we forget that in many countries of the world if you're known to be gay you can be imprisoned. There's just rampant discrimination. In a context like that, to ever have a chance to sit in the room with a faithful, committed Christian person who also happens to be gay or lesbian -- it's just not something that happens. So to hear from their lips how their contexts are different from ours, I think it always helps to have that personal contact. It was just as important for them to experience how very different our context is. So I think there was learning on both sides. That's really why we treasure the Anglican Communion so much is that if we hold together there is so much to be learned from one another.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)
Many voices have already been raised, denouncing the Bishops’ Statement as “non-compliance.” I disagree. I would characterize the decisions of the House of Bishops as being in partial compliance with what the Primates asked of us.
Unfortunately, the Bishops failed to even mention a third request from the Primates, that we put an end to the lawsuits that are being pressed in many Dioceses against congregations that are attempting to leave The Episcopal Church and yet retain “their” properties.
In our failure to do all that the Primates asked of us I was unable to vote for the Bishops’ Statement, but I was grateful to see a far higher level of concern for the unity of the Communion evident throughout our meeting than I have ever witnessed previously. Whether or not that level was high enough remains to be seen. Ultimately, of course, it is for the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates to make that call.
Read it all.
Read it all.
A Pastoral Letter from
The Rt. Rev'd D. Bruce MacPherson
III Bishop of Western Louisiana
September 27, 2007
Please read at all services on the weekend of September 29-30, 2007. In addition to reading, this may also be reproduced and distributed. [Canon III.12.3(b) Constitution and Canons of General Convention 2006].
A response and reflections on the House of Bishops meeting
[September 19-25, 2007 New Orleans, Louisiana]
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus:
A week and a half ago Susan and I set out for New Orleans and the advent of the House of Bishops meeting. This gathering has been in the thoughts and prayers of many since March of this year when the bishops of the Church made their initial response to the Communique issued by the Primates. I know, and will say at the outset, there are varying views amongst people across the Church as to the response and outcome of this important meeting, and I speak to this a little later in this letter.
We went to this meeting with the knowledge of being held in prayer by so very many across our diocese and places beyond, and we are grateful. We went knowing the weight that rested upon the work of the bishops and the ultimate statement that would be made. As we travelled, the scripture passage from Joshua 24:15 kept coming to mind, “... as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
For Joshua, it was a declaration that would set the tone for those who shared in the story of Israel's life in its land. Pausing for a moment and looking back at the path taken by Joshua, we find that his book simplifies what was not only a long, but also complex process, by which the Israelites settled in Canaan. The history of their battles and struggles prevail over the course of twenty-two chapters, and then lead us into the concluding two chapters. It is in these concluding verses that we discover the loyalty of the Israelites to their God who has given them the land they now occupy.
A careful reading of the book in its entirety will reveal that the affirmation of God's purpose for Israel was served even by the difficulties and evil that were encountered, but more important, for you and for me it serves as a vehicle to lead us to an understanding of obedience to God, and in whose image we are created.
As shared some time back, the passage “... as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” is simply stated, yet expresses the focus that Susan and I have shared as we have sought to live out our lives in faithfulness before, and for, the Lord.
In reading Joshua's declaration there is no doubt as to what is intended. He has gathered all of the people together, reviewed with them the gracious acts of God toward them down through history, and then challenges them to choose whom they will worship - the God of all creation or other gods. They concur with him and in turn enter into a solemn covenant with one another and God. Down through the years, and to this day, life is always confronting us with choices and alternatives. We have a choice - God or the worldly things which surround us.
It was with this on my heart and mind that I entered the city of New Orleans. My prayer was that we would enter into a solemn covenant with God through the response that we would make as bishops of the Church.
Our time over the many days was spent sharing in Bible study with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others, worship, closed executive sessions, and at times with business being conducted with the media present.
A highlight for many was on Saturday, September 22, when most of the bishops and spouses spent the day in either Mississippi or the New Orleans area, doing hurricane relief work. Due to the condition of my knee, and the fact that I was on a crutch, Susan and I signed up to go and work in the kitchen of the Cathedral making sandwiches for those who were labouring in the field. This unfortunately didn't work out as they assigned us to go and work on a building site. The vision of me endeavouring to hang sheet rock while balanced on a crutch dissuaded us.
With this background, permit me now to speak to the larger, and more important picture, the response of the bishops of The Episcopal Church to the Primate's Communique. In the course of the week a portion of our time was shared with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev'd Rowan D. Williams, and with some members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council. I would not be honest if I didn't share that the week was intense, and the conversation for the most part, quite serious. I was taken a bit in our early conversations to find a number of bishops, whom have most often tended to disagree with me, expressing concern about the outcome of the meeting and our ongoing relationship within the Anglican Communion and with the See of Canterbury. These expressions were built upon by a number of them, and particularly following the presentations made by the Archbishop and some of the members of the Joint Standing Committee.
As a part of his time with us, the Archbishop shared his concern about the direction of the Church as it relates to our ecclesiology. I personally felt he was speaking with a sense of deep concern and pastoral care. The Joint Standing Committee, represented by both lay and ordained members, as did the Archbishop, spent time in conversation with us formally and informally. When each of them addressed the gathering, they demonstrated great candor while being gracious. Their messages were to the point, and they were uniform in their expressed feeling that The Episcopal Church needs the Anglican Communion, and the Anglican Communion needs The Episcopal Church. Underscoring this however, was the fact that we, The Episcopal Church, cannot be implementing change without regard to the effect it has on the wider Communion.
The message that was delivered to us was clear: the Communion wants more from us than was offered in Resolution B033 (General Convention 2006), and it needs to be unequivocally so.
As I listened to each of the speakers and the message of desired clarity, I honestly could not help but feel the resolution submitted by the Windsor bishops addressed their concerns exactly. Unfortunately though, not only our resolution, but the resolution submitted jointly by the Bishop of Louisiana in concert with the Bishops of Los Angeles and Washington, which was a modified version of the Windsor bishop's resolution, were not able to get to the floor. It was the posture of the House to have a writing committee that had been appointed, take these documents and draw upon them in the development of the statement of response.
This committee repeatedly brought drafts to the House for consideration in executive sessions, and in each case the contents were debated. I can assure you, every effort was made to produce a document that contained the Windsor compliant language of the Windsor bishops proposed resolution. Sadly, the effort was in vain.
The final document has left frustration on both sides of the aisle, and basically states the following:
* “We reconfirm that Resolution B033 (General Convention 2006) that bishops and Standing Committees exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on the Communion.”
* “We pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.”
* “We commend our Presiding Bishop's plan for episcopal visitors.”
* “We support the Presiding Bishop in seeking communion-wide consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.”
* “We call for increasing implementation of the listening process across the Communion and for a report on its progress to Lambeth 2008.”
* “We support the Archbishop of Canterbury in his expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference.”
* “We call for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety and dignity of gay and lesbian persons.”
For those who have read the Communique and the Windsor Report, you will note this fails to respond clearly to that which has been asked of us. My disappointment with the above is that it falls short of providing the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Primates of the Communion with the response they sought with respect to definitive clarity.
As many are aware, the document was approved by the House of Bishops with one dissenting vote, and this coming from one of the more progressive bishops. As to my personal action, I sat mute, and in doing so, supported this work. Should I have been vocal at this stage, yes, but I failed to do so and take responsibility for my silence.
Where will we go from here? This will be determined by the response that will be made by the Archbishop, Joint Standing Committee and Primates, and the direction we take in living out the faith that has been entrusted to us, and the proclamation of the Gospel as we fulfill the mission of the Church, and this is in the “Making of Disciples: restoring all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” I pray the response will come in time for our Diocesan Convention on October 12-13 at the Holiday Inn Convention Centre Hotel in Alexandria.
It is important to note, we have accomplished much toward this end with our reconciliation and healing work over this past year; our unwillingness to be distracted from the ministry to which God has called us and to which we have responded with great commitment. Those participating in this endeavour spoke clearly as to what the expressed desire is - faithful submission to the will of God; maintaining a focus on the Gospel and the mission of the church; respecting one another and our differences, and being a continuing part of The Episcopal Church as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion in communion with the See of Canterbury. I pray that we, as the Diocese of Western Louisiana, will continue to focus on these things as we move forward together in the days ahead.
In closing, permit me to end with that which I began, “... as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” This has not changed, and my prayer is that while not having changed, I trust there has been growth in my faith and relationship with Christ. Although I failed to speak out at the time of the final vote, I remain committed to the Windsor Report and in being the Bishop of a Windsor compliant diocese. My position with respect to the requests of the Primate's Communique has not changed and I will continue to work toward the development of the Anglican Covenant.
As your bishop, I am committed to ministering to the whole of God's people in this diocese, and ensuring that we live with fullness into our Baptismal Covenant. To do this, I need your help and prayers and trust you know of my prayers for each of you.
“O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” [BCP p.832]
Faithfully offered in the love of Christ,
The Rt. Rev'd D. Bruce MacPherson
III Bishop of Western Louisiana
Anglican TV has now posted the video of the press conference from yesterday afternoon in Pittsburgh. Here's the link.
Memo to: Clergy and Diocesan/Congregational Leaders
From: The Rt. Rev. James L. Jelinek
VIII Bishop, Diocese of Minnesota
Have you ever worked on a statement with ±150 colleagues? And have you ever done so considering the nuanced meaning of words and phrases to a worldwide audience? That pretty well describes the last two days of the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. Within hours after its release Tuesday afternoon, it was commented upon and interpreted by scores of people and so it is my hope that this /Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners/ (attached below) will be read more carefully than the comments and criticisms about it. Please spend the time to read it slowly. What does it say? What doesn't it say? I believe it is a pretty accurate description of us that is quite clear about what we stand _for_ in the name of God and also sets limits as to what we are willing to take from others outside of The Episcopal Church.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, +Rowan Williams, and several members of the Steering Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (the only body with a constitution and agreed-upon authority in the Anglican Communion) met with us and urged us to be clear. I believe we were. I also believe we answered everything we were asked to answer. It is clear that some were looking for a repudiation by The Episcopal Church (TEC) of earlier actions, but that is something we neither could nor would do.
Will there be reactivity to this /Response/? Is the sun likely to rise again tomorrow? Watch and listen, but first of all measure your own reactions and re-read those passages or phrases to which you most strongly react. Upon second or third reading, do you hear them the same way? If so, that is worth pursuing in conversation in your congregation or with your clergy group. If not, it is worth reflecting on what this touched (or even triggered) in you. We need to be aware that in times of tension like this, our fears and anxieties are likely to be near the surface, more easily unsettled.
The big picture is that we are considering matters that are not about winning or losing, but of discernment and meaning and within relationships. Where is the Holy Spirit leading the Christian Church and leading humanity? How do we identify the marks of the Holy Spirit in what feels like a progression, in comparison with the spirit of the age we live in? Most especially, how do we do this /within time/ when we do not yet have the luxury of looking back at the past where we sometimes have more clarity? Some argue that this is precisely why we must go very slowly, yet that seems more than unjust when people are suffering. So, The Episcopal Church is moving forward while trying not to inflict more pain or to provoke more controversy.
At times like this I am most concerned about reaction without reflection, for in haste our reactions are usually determined by fear, particularly one of the following: the fear of losing or failing or losing out or losing one's touchstones and one's bearings. It seems to me that when we struggle with our inclusion we are most afraid of losing out, of not counting. And when something new comes along that seems so unusual, so different from the ways we have always seen the world and how we understand God's creativity, it seems that our experience is one of disorientation, the fear of losing our bearings. That seems to describe the church we live in today. No wonder there are tensions.
I pray that our personal and communal responses may be guided by hope, the hope which comes from trusting in God to inspire us, and more-to knit us together in one heart even when we cannot be of one mind.
* * *
I am pleased with the comments in the Minneapolis Star Tribune by Dean Spenser Simrill and the Revs. LeeAnne Watkins and Mariann Budde, for they put the matter into perspective for people, which Martyn Minns does not do as well, glossing over the limitations which our structure puts upon us. Notice that the headlines here and in the New York Times yesterday love to focus on the controversies and the differences and do not choose to see how many in the House of Bishops have come to be of one heart.
* * *
In general, the meeting of the House and Community (including our partners) of Bishops was a good experience. +Rowan Williams spoke a few times, preached at a stirring ecumenical gathering where the jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, Jr., "stole the show" from everyone else there, setting us all on fire. +Rowan was at his best Friday morning, offering a wonderful bible study which revealed his deep knowledge, intellectual brilliance and spiritual insights. This is where we saw the man of faith, and he inspired us. +Katherine was perceptive, able to
enumerate, synthesize and describe what we had come to in our discussions, both our agreements and where we still had work to do. She can be very charming and funny, as well, and at the end we gave her a standing ovation for her work among us and on our (TEC's) behalf during her first year. Our chaplains gave voice to the prayers we were not articulating well, as we wrestled inwardly and outwardly. Our Anglican Communion guests brought us both challenge and gift: differing points of view and the warmth of international friendships.
I have never been to New Orleans before, so I can only guess what is missing from the number of empty lots, falling down buildings and neighborhoods, and the personal stories of those who live there. Tourism and business are way down. Complaints abound about the lack of a good governmental response on any level, and yet churches and agencies get kudos-both for the work that so many local and out of state volunteers do and for the caring listening which affirms people so much. Most of us took Saturday to participate in rebuilding, and I am very glad I did. We worked alongside honor student volunteers from Tulane putting in the beams and flooring of a house. Cliff, our crew chief (about 20), is doing this work "for a while" before he begins college. We did not need to talk much, for there was an easy rhythm to our work together.
We have done what we have done, and it was worth the time, the effort, the care and the prayer, and I thank you for yours. We offer this to God, to the Church, and to all those whose lives may be affirmed and strengthened by it.
The formal response to the Primates' Communiqué was adopted late Tuesday by the House of Bishops by a virtually unanimous vote. It reflected our very deep appreciation of the Anglican Communion and our strong desire to maintain and nurture our role within it, while asserting our determined commitment to include gay and lesbian persons in our common life. In our statement, the bishops reconfirmed our vote at the 2006 General Convention to "exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion." This reconfirmation constitutes our continuing agreement with that resolution and acknowledges that such language pertains specifically to non-celibate gay and lesbian persons. We also repeated our pledge not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. We noted that we hope to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide process of listening to the experiences of gay and lesbian persons.
We commended our Presiding Bishop for her plans to provide episcopal visitors for dioceses at irreconcilable odds with her own ministry as Primate and we support her commitment to consult with the wider communion in pastoral matters, seeking creative solutions that are in accord with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. We supported the Archbishop of Canterbury in his desire to include the bishop of New Hampshire at next year's Lambeth Conference. We called for commitment to the civil rights, safety and dignity of gay and lesbian persons. We deplored the incursion of uninvited bishops into our dioceses.
No one achieved everything he or she wanted in our statement. To your Virginia bishops, our traditionally centrist attitude seemed to be the prevailing attitude of the House of Bishops. We share the viewpoint of many of our brother and sister bishops that our response to the Communiqué meets the requests put to us by the Primates.
Read it all.
Please do not assume we have seen them and pass them along. Full text by email preferred, url is o.k. if you are in a hurry--thanks.
...The two of us, and several others, sought repeatedly - in public and in private - for clarity and directness in our response. In our view, we should have answered the questions simply and straightforwardly, and any other comments we wanted to make should have been issued separately. As one bishop noted to the House, we were asked left-brain questions and we offered right-brain answers.
Take a look at all the entries and be aware that there is more coming.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Now that the House of Bishops meeting has ended, and I am back home among you, I want to share a few thoughts on the work we did, and particularly on the statement we produced. As you may know, I was one of the eight bishops who wrote this statement, which developed over several days as each draft was discussed by the whole House and further refined by the writing group. Apart from preaching and celebrating at a local parish on Sunday, this process of drafting and revising took up all my waking hours from Friday evening until Tuesday afternoon. So it is fair to say that my experience of New Orleans is essentially my experience of that process.
I went to New Orleans afraid that the House would not maintain the high level of civility and mutual respect that marked our meeting last March.
On the one hand, I worried that the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury might provoke angry words directed against him and the other primates. On the other, I feared that bishops on different sides of the same-sex unions debate might become rancorous toward one another. None of this happened. Rowan Williams was welcomed with respect and warmth, as were the members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates, whom we had invited to sit with us in our deliberations. As for how we related to one another, I was struck by the kindness, care and mutual understanding that informed the House's discourse from beginning to end. We are a community of bishops that is passionately devoted to the worldwide Anglican Communion and committed to our unity and fellowship with one another as members of the Episcopal Church.
The meeting was largely shaped, in my view, by our conversations, both formal and informal, with our Anglican Communion guests. What emerged for all of us was a firmer grasp of how the Primates and the ACC viewed the Episcopal Church and what they were asking of us as its bishops. I was surprised to discover that, for the most part, we are held in high regard by our brothers and sisters in the Communion, and our participation in the Communion is very highly valued. Moreover, while there is frustration and anger that we have, in their view, acted precipitously and disrespectfully in consecrating a partnered gay bishop without consulting with the larger Communion, there is also an appreciation that the Episcopal Church is forcing a Communion-wide conversation about homosexuality that is long overdue. What our guests were asking of us was clarity about two things: (1) the bishops'
interpretation of B033, the 2006 General Convention resolution regarding the election of partnered gay bishops, and (2) the bishops' current approach to the blessing of same-sex unions.
The statement that we produced is our attempt to answer those two questions succinctly and transparently. We have said nothing new. Those who were dissatisfied with B033 for going too far or not going far enough will be equally dissatisfied with the present statement. However, what we have said as a House arises in the context of renewed hope for a conversation with our Anglican partners that honors all members of our Church. I am heartened by this hope, and I pray that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters will also find encouragement in this.
My ardent desire for this Diocese is that we will continue diligently to embrace our fellowship with one another across the differences that both challenge and enrich us. We all have a witness to share, and we all are in need of having our perspective broadened by the witness of others. By God's grace, and through your prayers, a step was taken in New Orleans toward recovering the possibility of an Anglican Communion capable of facing tough issues with mutual forbearance and readiness to learn from one another. That possibility will become a reality as it is lived into on the ground. God bless us in Southern Ohio, as we play our part in that adventure.
--(The Rt. Rev.) Thomas E. Breidenthal is Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio
I am grateful to the clergy and people of the Diocese of Tennessee for your prayers and other support during the recent meeting of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. I have been conscious that this support, a sign of our communion and common life in the Body of Christ, has upheld me during a time of stress in the life of the Church. I give thanks for you, and pray that you too are upheld in your ministry by God’s life-giving power.
Our time of gathering in New Orleans with the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting was not an easy one. The visible signs and continuing effects of the devastating hurricane of two years ago were evident; the weighty subject of the Primates’ February Communiqué and our response to it was in the forefront of most minds. The Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Joint Standing Committee shared with the House of Bishops the global context of recent actions of the Episcopal Church and the effects of these actions on the life of the Anglican Communion, and also charted a possible way forward for our common life together as a Communion. These perspectives were difficult for some members of the House of Bishops to receive, yet these perspectives shaped the response of the bishops.
In a most positive part of our time together, members of the House of Bishops and spouses along with our Communion partners had the opportunity to join in the work in rebuilding New Orleans. We also shared in a joyful ecumenical service of thanksgiving during which almost one million dollars from the dioceses of the Episcopal Church was presented to the Dioceses of Louisiana and Mississippi. We discovered, as well, the continuing vibrancy of many communities on the Gulf Coast, in the midst of a situation that continues to be very difficult.
The House of Bishops has now given its response, one that went much further than I thought possible for the House to provide the clarifications requested by the Primates’ Meeting. The clarifications concern the requested assurances on the blessing of same-sex unions and on the consecration to the episcopate of persons living in a partnered same-sex union sought by the 2004 Windsor Report. The issue before the Episcopal Church is to provide the assurances requested by the Report that will allow the common life of the Anglican Communion to continue. I believe that the principal question is no longer just whether the Episcopal Church desires to continue to walk with the Communion, but whether the Communion itself has the will to continue together. There is much here at stake that goes beyond the Episcopal Church.
It is now the responsibility of the Instruments of Communion to evaluate our response. The Communiqué was addressed to us by the Primates’ Meeting, and I believe that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and the Primates’ Meeting will be making recommendations to them. Many interested parties will offer their own evaluations, but the assessment of the Communion as a whole through the Instruments of Communion is the crucial one for Communion-minded people.
Part of being members of a Communion of Churches is that our own opinion of whether we have addressed adequately the concerns of others is not decisive for the future of our relationship. These matters are the business of common discernment throughout the Church. I have written before of my passion for Jesus’ Church, a worldwide phenomenon with roots firmly planted in the earliest times, growing and reaching out to the future. I have called you to a deeper consideration of the Church, “that wonderful and sacred mystery” (BCP, 291), and I call you again to reflect on the importance of Christian community. My commitments are unchanged. In the midst of challenge, I pray for good discernment, graceful conversion, and at all times the mercy of God.
(The Rt. Rev.) John Bauerschmidt is Bishop of Tennessee.
An influential African archbishop said Thursday that the Anglican church was still in crisis despite the US Episcopal Church agreeing to halt the ordination of gay bishops and blessing same-sex unions.
Benjamin Kwashi, archbishop-elect of Jos province in Nigeria, insisted that the gay crisis was "not resolved" by the statement by US church leaders.
"The statement by the U.S. Episcopal bishops should be taken with extreme caution," Kwashi told Nigerian media.
"The US bishops have not said anything different from their earlier liberal stance, which supports same-sex unions."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting
As I prepare to return to the diocese after participating in the House of Bishops Interim Meeting in New Orleans since last Wednesday, I am attaching hereto the communiqué that we have adopted in response to the requests of our partners in the Anglican Communion. Please read it carefully and know that it was written over a lengthy period of days and adopted by a very broad consensus of your bishops.
I believe that this communiqué represents a considerable spirit of compromise and collegiality in the House of Bishops, which I am pleased to see. There were only two voiced votes against its adoption and no minority report or open dissent. The communiqué will be "spun" in different ways no doubt in accordance with the biases of the press and the desires of different factions in the church. I lament this, but it is the way of the world in which we presently live. I was particularly disappointed by the inaccuracy of the New York Times article which appeared in the Birmingham News today. Let us not be misled by negative and ill-prepared comments.
Read it all. Is it not a bit humorous to see all these Episcopal leaders so critical of the New York Times? Weren't they the same ones who quoted Bishop Parsley in the article before the meeting?
I am grateful for the tone of this meeting and for many aspects of the process and the contributions many bishops from very diferent perspectives made to it. I wish that such openness and frankness, and serious discussion, had characterized earlier meetings. (And here I refer to 15 years of such meetings!)
But the final result, I must confess, is disappointing to me. I do not believe the answers requested by the Primates have been given. I do not believe we have moved very far – if at all – from where we were before this meeting in terms of the assurances sought. I certainly think that internally, the House of Bishops changed its dynamics in a number of ways that are welcome. But for all that, we still seem, as one bishop has said, “stuck.”
It seems that, even with the best of intentions, we simply cannot get beyond the thought that we might learn from what the Archbishop of Canterbury called “common discernment;” in other words, that our decisions as a House might be wrong and at any rate ought to be subject to the advice and concerns of our Communion bothers and sisters. Many bishops argued for ambiguity as the most “honest” statement of “where we are.” Perhaps that is true. That is the effectual outcome of this meeting.
Read it all.
The clear message of the September 25th House of Bishops (HOB) statement is that they are determined to stay on the exact same course that they have been on all along.
Although promising “not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions” sounds like a prohibition, in reality it is a “don’t ask; don’t tell” policy in practice. This has been demonstrated by Bishop Bruno’s recent comments that he has not authorized such blessings, while priests in the Diocese of Los Angeles do so without hesitation. If this were a prohibition, priests who conduct such blessings would be inhibited by Bishop Bruno. To date, this has not happened. Not authorizing “a public rite” means that The Episcopal Church (TEC) will not authorize and publish an official prayer book service for same-sex unions. In other words, clergy in dioceses who wish to perform same-sex unions may continue to do so, so long as it is not an official public rite. This is neither prohibition nor restraint. It is simply turning a blind eye.
Likewise, the promise to “exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church” is a proclamation of intent that falls far short of repentance, and is no guarantee of cessation. At best this is a pause, not a change in direction. Were this a change in direction, a lesbian candidate for the Diocese of Chicago would be removed from the list. What did the HOB statement say about ordaining practicing homosexuals to other clerical orders? Nothing.
Read it all.
There were a remarkable series of dynamics in play at the just concluded House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. For starters, there was the dynamic between the Episcopal Church (increasingly identified as TEC by the rest of the Anglican Communion)– represented by the House of Bishops; and the rest of the Anglican Communion – represented by the Archbishop of Canterbury and several leaders of the Anglican Consultative Council (the ACC). The Archbishop and the representatives of the ACC presented to us a rather united front in their disdain/concern/anger at TEC for getting out ahead of the rest of the Anglican Communion in our actions over the last three years (the more gentle presentation) – or abrogating our commitment to the Communion and the Gospel (the more harsh presentation). We later learned that the ACC position may not have been so united – in that some of the ACC members present, who represented different views, were not given the opportunity to speak to us. It was also troubling to learn that an edited version of the most ardent presentation was on the internet within an hour of it being presented to us.
Another dynamic in play was the sense I had that we are dealing with more than one house of bishops. The primary house is comprised of the vast majority of bishops who stayed through the whole meeting – and who worked hard, and well, to build bridges and create solidarity in the midst of diversity. It appears to me that an ancillary or adjunct House is made up of a small group of dissident bishops who left the meeting as soon as the Archbishop of Canterbury did. Their media champions stayed – and seemed to have versions of our work – with their own unique commentary on it, out in public before we even finished that work.
To my mind, the “primary” House of Bishops was able to sort through these various dynamics, and build on the work that we did at our meeting in March. Although it may not be reflected in our final statement, there was a growing sense during the meeting that we are willing and able to honor our differences – which are reflected in our differing theologies and liturgical practices. There was not an attempt to demand conformity – or to diminish any particular diocesan response to the invitations and challenges of the Gospel.
Read it all.
In the interest of clarity, I would like to report to the clergy and people of the Diocese of South Carolina on the meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans. I am particularly concerned that you hear directly from me as the distortion in the media and on blogs is profound.
From my perspective this was probably the best meeting I have attended and at the same time the most painful.
I asked for and was granted permission to speak to the whole House beyond any contribution I made in the various debates.
The presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury was helpful in getting us to look at where we are as a Church and a Communion; and what that says about our ecclesiology.
Profound pain was experienced when members of the ACC Steering Committee and the Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East addressed the House. They told us how the decisions made by the Episcopal Church had affected their mission and ecumenical relationships destructively in their lands. It was a moving experience.
Just as devastating was the address from Bishop Jeffrey Steenson explaining why he was resigning his orders and becoming a Roman Catholic. We are good friends and have worked closely together.
We then had a report giving us the list of congregations leaving the Episcopal Church in part or whole for other Anglican jurisdictions and the names of these jurisdictions. A number of the clergy were well known to me. Even the loss of one because of our conflict is a painful matter for me at the end of my ministry. It is a matter of great sorrow.
In my address to the House, I said that I appreciated the hard work that had resulted in the document that was before us.
I also stated that I could not support it for the following reasons:
1. It did not respond as requested to the three points raised by the Anglican Primates in Dar es Salaam.
2. It did not provide alternative oversight that met the needs of those who asked for it.
3. It placed the condition that our responses must be in keeping with our Constitution and Canons. The chaos we are in requires tremendous grace, not law.
4. There is oppression of those not in agreement, often unaware to those responsible.
5. Statements by our leadership saying that 95% of the Church was doing well or that only a small percentage were affected makes discussion impossible. The Episcopal Church Foundation says we are in a systemic decline which is significant.
I believe that the impact of these days has produced the potential for us to move because this is the first time in my memory this has been revealed to the House face to face by members of the Communion. I am committed to continue to work for that day faithfully, but I cannot support the document for the reasons stated.
--The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr., is acting Bishop of South Carolina
The Speech was given in closed session so I am guessing that is why it was not reported. The key phrase he used was "I cannot support the document."
A total of 51 bishops and bishops-elect representing tens-of-thousands of Anglicans in North America are meeting together Sept. 25-28 in Pittsburgh , PA. The meeting of the first-ever Common Cause Council of Bishops brings together bishops and observers from the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Coalition in Canada, the Anglican Communion Network, Anglican Network in Canada, the Anglican Province of America, Anglican Essentials Canada, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, Forward in Faith North America and the Reformed Episcopal Church.
In welcoming the assembled bishops, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh and convener of the gathering, said that before any unified orthodox Anglicanism could be expected to emerge in North America relationships among bishops and jurisdictions need to be reordered. "Our shortcoming is not 'right Faith.' Our shortcoming is 'right Order' and 'right Mission ,'" said Bishop Duncan.
Bishop Duncan went on to suggest that the bishops discuss a number of practical points that could contribute to building a more unified orthodox Anglicanism in North America . Among those points, he asked that the bishops agree to consult each other as they plant congregations, mutually review candidates for bishop before consecrations, share ministry initiatives instead of duplicating efforts, work actively together at the local level, and allow those ordained in one jurisdiction to function in all jurisdictions.
"Our theme for this Council of Bishops is 'Together in Mission : Restoring Confidence in an American Episcopate.' The whole world is watching. After speaking the truth to each other, we will need to speak the truth about what we have done - or not done - to the world," said Bishop Duncan.
The full text of Bishop Duncan's opening remarks follows:
A HISTORIC CONCLAVE
"Together in Mission : Restoring Confidence in an American Episcopate"
Welcome to Pittsburgh ! Welcome to the Common Cause Partnership Council of Bishops! Welcome to three days of worship, fellowship, teaching, sharing and incredibly hard work.
Welcome Bishops, Bishops-elect, Bishops-designate, Wives, Presenters, Intercessors, Staff, Friends. Welcome to Dr. George Hunter of Asbury Seminary, our keynote speaker tonight, and welcome to Prof. Justyn Terry of Trinity School for Ministry, our Scripture expositer for the next three mornings.
During the early hours of yesterday, the Lord reminded me of the word "conclave." Bishop's meetings are sometimes "with the key withheld," the literal meaning of the Latin root. Bishops gathering in conclave cannot come out until they have a successful result. While there will be no one "locking us in," the whole Anglican world is expecting something great of us in this meeting. They are expecting some "key" to unlock a more hopeful future. Let us not fail them, or our God.
Most of our work here is behind closed doors. This is an intentional decision on the part of the seven lead bishops who did the planning: Bishops Ackerman, Grundorf, Harvey, Minns, Murphy, Riches and myself. We need to speak the truth to one another. We need to do some hard thinking and hard talking. The future of Anglicanism in North America is at stake.
On Trinity Sunday in 2004, the leaders of the first six (now ten) Partners wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury "signifying our commitment to make common cause for the gospel of Jesus Christ and common cause for a united, missionary and orthodox Anglicanism in North America."
The Primates of the Global South, writing from Kigali exactly one year ago, stated that the time had come for a "separate ecclesiastical structure in the United States [ North America ]." What we come together to do is to see whether we can so re-order the relationships among us that the way might be opened for such a structure to emerge.
Our shortcoming is not "right Faith." Our shortcoming is "right Order" and "right mission."
- Can we agree to interchangeability of those in holy orders?
- Will we work actively together at the local level?
- Will we consult with one another as we seek to plant congregations?
- Can we agree to mutual review of candidates for bishop before consecrations?
- Will we share ministry initiatives or needlessly duplicate efforts?
- Can we agree about appropriate ratios of bishops to congregations, attendance and membership?
- Would each one of us be willing to give up episcopal function for the good of the whole, were that in the best interests of all?
- Could each one of us become a missionary bishop over a growing Church?
Our theme for this Council of Bishops is "Together in Mission : Restoring Confidence in an American Episcopate." The whole world is watching. After speaking the truth to each other, we will need to speak the truth about what we have done - or not done - to the world.
Anglicanism appears to be failing in the West. We cannot answer for how others have failed, or are failing, but we must surely answer for what we do - or do not do - here in this place, in this conclave, wherein we hold the key.
Again the warmest of welcomes, for the most important of tasks. Almost upon us is Global Anglicanism's September 30th deadline for bishops in America to make response about "walking together" or "walking apart." It is to walking together that we are called, is it not? I am confident in the company gathered here and, above all, in the Lord who has called us. We are here to make common cause for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and here to make common cause for a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America . We have our work cut out for us, we whose highest calling is as servants of the servants of God, and God's servants all across the land very much have their eyes set upon us and upon this place for these days. May God's help be ours in abundance.
Read it all.
Update: The Living Church has an article about Bishop Steenson's statement here. Here's the concluding section:
“From time to time it seems necessary for some to embark on these personal journeys as a reminder that the churches of the Reformation were not intended to carry on indefinitely separated from their historical and theological mooring in the Church of Rome," he said. "I believe that the Lord now calls me in this direction.”
In concluding remarks, Bishop Steenson asked for forgiveness from his fellow bishops “for any difficulty this may cause and for anything I may have said or done that has failed to live up to the love of Christ.
"I hope that you will not see this as a repudiation of The Episcopal Church or Anglicanism. Rather, it is the sincere desire of a simple soul to bear witness to the fullness of the Catholic faith, in communion with what St. Irenaeus called ‘that greatest and most ancient Church.’ I believe that our noble Anglican tradition (‘this worthy patrimony’) has deep within it the instinct of a migratory bird calling, ‘It is time to fly home to a place you have never seen before.’ May the Lord bless my steps and yours and bring our paths together in his good time.”
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Rio Grande
A snippet from Matt Kennedy's live blog of tonight's press conference. Please remember this may not be word-for-word accurate (as Matt+ says, this is live not memorex). A few typos corrected by the elves.
NPR: to Bruno, do you see any possibility of TEC reversing course with regard to sexuality issues
Bruno: I don't believe we'll ever turn back the clock. We are not responding to that right now. WE are responding to what has been asked of us. As to whether we are going to withdraw our support for gay and lesbian people in the church. no they are fully franchised. Are we going to exacerbate the situation no.
The full live blog is here.
Update: there's also this at BabyBlue regarding the rest of +Bruno's remarks this evening. What was it Kendall wrote last week about Honesty vs. Obfuscation?
Update 2: Stand Firm has more on the question of +Bruno's involvement in SSBs in Los Angeles. Note: Matt is now working from a *recording* of the press conference, thus +Bruno's actual word's, not a mere close approximation.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
I thought it might be helpful to extract the bishops' seven points from the rest of the verbiage of their proposed statement. Here they are:
1. We affirm and support the PB’s plan to provide Episcopal visitors for dioceses within the Episcopal Church. The Windsor Report (paragraph 152) affirmed that our plan for DEPO is reasonable and saw no reason why such delegated pastoral and sacramental oversight should not be provided by bishops from within this province. We believe the Presiding Bishop’s plan is consistent with DEPO and we thank those bishops who have generously offered themselves for this ministry.
2. While we have already expressed concerns about the recommendations made by the Primates for a pastoral scheme, we nonetheless urge the PB to continue conversations with those requesting alternative oversight, seeking ways to create and implement arrangements which meet pastoral needs and which do not violate our Constitution and Canons. We urge those requesting such oversight to participate in these conversations and to assist in finding appropriate solutions. We pray that a way forward can be found which will bring an end to the incursions of extra-provincial bishops. These incursions imperil the Communions principle of honoring one another as we work together in good faith on these very difficult issues.
3. We continue to invite all the provinces of the Anglican Communion to join in the listening process which was embraced by the 1998 Lambeth Conference I prayerfully considering the place of gay and lesbian people in our common life. We look forward to receiving initial reports about this process from every province if the communion and to our own continuing participation with others in this crucial project. We see an important role for the ACC in helping to accomplish this objective, as well as in addressing other important issues that come before us. The ACC is representative of both the lay and ordained members of our constituent churches, and it is the only body possessing a written constitution.
4. We have attempted to respond to the Primates questions regarding Resolution B033. in honesty we must report that within the HOB there is disagreement as to how this resolution is to be interpreted and applied. As we live with this painful reality, conversation study and prayer will continue. We recognize the challenge our disagreement presents for some in the Communion and we respectfully ask for their patience and forbearance.
5. Because we are a liturgical church our actions concerning
blessings are expressed in public liturgies. No rite of blessing for
persons living in same sex unions has been adopted or approved by our
General Convention. We wish to make it clear that the House of
Bishops has not voted to authorize such liturgies. Even in the
absence of such public rites, we acknowledge that the blessing of
same sex unions, no matter how public or private, is unacceptable to
some of our brothers and sisters in our own House, in our church, and
in the Communion. The issue remains perplexing for us as we seek to
balance these concerns about rites of blessing and the pressing
pastoral need that confronts us. We wish to offer respect for these
We are grateful that the Primates have articulated their support for
meeting the individual pastoral needs of gay and lesbian persons. In
2003 they wrote "there is a duty of pastoral care that is laid upon
all Christians to respond with love and understanding to homosexual
persons." The Primates have writeen that there must be a breadth of
private and pastoral responses to individual situations. It is the
case that for many decades, the Episcopal Church has explored the
most faithful ways of ministering to and with gay and lesbian people
who are part of our common life. We acknowledge that in some of our
dioceses this includes the blessing of same sex unions.
6. Those among us who have received an invitation to attend the 2008
Lambeth Conference look forward to that gathering with hope and
expectation. Many of us are engaged in mission partnerships with
bishops and dioceses around the world and cherish those
relationships. Lambeth offers a wonderful opportunity to build on
We are mindful that the Bishop of New Hampshire has not yet received
an invitation to Lambeth. We are also mindful that the Archbishop of
Canterbury has expressed a desire to explore a way to include Bishop
Robinson in the Lambeth Conference. Because we believe that this is a
matter of importance to the House of Bishops, we propose that the
Archbishop of Canterbury invite a small group of bishops appointed by
the Presiding Bishop to assist him in facilitating Bishop Robinson's
presence and participation.
7. We reaffirm our March 2007 statement in which we said, "We
proclaim the Gospel of what God has done is doing in Christ, of the
dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion and peace.
We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no
male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in
Christ all God's children, including women, are full and equal
participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel
that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons,
are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We
proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including
violence done to women and children as well as those who are
persecuted because of their difference, often in the name of God."
To read these points in their context go here.
Received by e-mail, posted with the kind permission of Bishop John Howe of Central Florida.
To My Fellow Bishops:
We are deeply, tragically, horribly "stuck," not only in The Episcopal Church, but in the Anglican Communion as a whole. In the past three days we have heard again what we already knew, that we have damaged our relationships with many parts of the Communion by failing to give sufficient attention to "common discernment," and by moving ahead with decisions in the area of human sexuality before the rest of the Anglican family is able to accept those decisions. It is clear that the great majority of our Bishops cannot retreat from what they believe to be not only a matter of justice, but a "Gospel imperative." But, in the light of that, we are squandering members, finances, and energy in our deadlock.
What we need is a comprehensive solution that will end the international interventions, end the defections, end the property disputes, end the litigation, and end the ravaging of our witness and mission to the outside world simultaneously. I believe there is such a solution, but it will require great sacrifice on all sides.
I propose that we:
1) Put the Resolution of the "Windsor Bishops" to a vote. It calls for full compliance with the requests of the Primates in their Communique from Tanzania last February.
2) Those who cannot, for conscience' sake, abide by the acknowledged teaching and discipline of the Communion (Lambeth I:10) will then voluntarily withdraw (at least temporarily) from the official councils of the Communion (as per Professor Katherine Grieb's much appreciated proposal to us in March at Camp Allen).
3) Those committed to the Communion's teaching and discipline will continue their participation in the councils of the Communion.
4) Perhaps we will then adopt the Archbishop of Canterbury's terminology of "constituent" and "associate" membership for our dioceses. "Constituent" = fully Windsor-compliant. "Associate" = committed to remaining Anglican, but unable to accept the Windsor proposals.
5) Those congregations and clergy which are in "associate" dioceses, who wish to continue in "constituent" membership will be transferred to the oversight and care of "constituent" dioceses and Bishops - and vice-versa.
6) We will then request the Primates who have established extra-geographical oversight in this country to give that up, and fold any congregations under their care back into "constituent" dioceses.
7) We will endeavor to fold any American clergy who have been consecrated by international jurisdictions into Suffragan and Assistant Episcopal positions in "constituent" dioceses.
8) Without relinquishing their membership in The Episcopal Church, the "constituent" dioceses will elect their own Coordinator, and function as a parallel provincial entity for a period of 5 years (or perhaps 6 = two General Conventions, or 10 = the next Lambeth Conference).
9) After 5, 6, or 10 years we determine whether or not a "new consensus" has emerged within the Anglican Communion, and in the light of that determination -
10) We either recombine as a single jurisdiction, or we fully separate.
Warmest regards in our Lord,
The Right Rev. John W. Howe
Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)
From Bishop Epting's blog:
[CORRECTION: the elf sincerely apologizes for originally mis-attributing this to Bp. Pierre Whalon. The two bishops' blog feeds are adjacent in my RSS feed and so even though the link was to Bp. Epting's blog, I saw the name Whalon and wrote that without thinking.]
Quite a roller coaster of a day yesterday. Our first time, as Episcopal bishops, to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury to talk face-to-face about our ongoing issues in the Anglican Communion.
We began with a festive Eucharist in the hotel with a great sermon by our Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori and the lusty singing of hymns from “Holy, holy, holy” through “There’s a sweet, sweet Spirit in this place” (and, perhaps surprisingly, there is!) to “O Praise Ye the Lord!”
Then, we entered into table discussions and open plenaries sharing our Hopes and Concerns for this meeting. My hope was that we could find a way to assure the Communion that we will do what General Convention has asked us to do by exercising restraint in consenting to the election of bishops whose manner of life will produce additional strains on the Communion. My concern is, that nothing we do will be enough for some — in our own House and in the Communion.
The afternoon continued with a brief address by Archbishop Rowan Williams and two questions to wrestle with: how far can we go in accommodating the request of the Primates’ Communique and what kind of “shared episcopal leadership” (within our own House) would we find possible and helpful. Lots of pain and anguish from all sides in the open discussion which followed. But it was good for Rowan and the other Primates and visitors from across the Communion to see the kind of respectful and thoughtful conversation we can have together.
I learned nothing really new. No conversations we have not had before. But it was good for our overseas colleagues to engage with us. It would have been helpful for the Archbishop to have done this three years ago.
Full text is here.
Resolution offered by Bruce MacPherson, Russell Jacobus, Geralyn Wolf, and C. Franklin Brookhart
We’ve been trying to post this but technical problems are preventing the text from appearing here. So head on over to Stand Firm!
September 20, 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I arrived in New Orleans yesterday for the House of Bishops Meeting which officially began this morning and will end on Tuesday night, Sept. 25th. I ask each of you to enter into a period of prayer and fasting, keeping not only me, but the entire House of Bishops in your prayers, as well as ++Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, and the visiting members of the Primate’s Standing Committee. We are truly at a critical time in the life of the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion. This is NOT “just one more meeting.” I sincerely believe that the decisions made by the House of Bishops at this meeting will be a key factor in determining the future of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
I invite you to join me in praying that the Holy Spirit will come mightily upon this House, touching and transforming the hearts and souls and minds of every Bishop here, helping us to discern and carry out the will of God. May His will and only His will be done. Just as Paul encountered the risen Lord on the road to Damascus, may we too have a Damascus road experience in which we, the House of Bishops, are convicted of that which is not of God, repenting and asking His forgiveness of our sins, and then be given the grace to be faithful and obedient in exercising our ministry as bishops in God’s holy Church, keeping Jesus Christ at the center of all that we do.
Archbishop Rowan Williams will be with us through tomorrow afternoon. I pray the Holy Spirit will speak clearly to and through him as he addressed the House of Bishops. May we be open to what he has to say.
While we will be addressing a variety of issues throughout the meeting, one of the most important things we will deal with is our official response to the Primate’s Communiqué to the House of Bishops regarding the Windsor Report. As most of you are well aware, there is much division within the Church regarding what our response should be. Again, it is my prayer that God’s will be done. Thank you for yours prayers and your faithfulness.
In Christ Jesus,
--(The Rt. Rev.) Bill Love is Bishop of Albany
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I write to you out of deep prayer for the life of our Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion.
The House of Bishops' meeting begins on Wednesday evening, September 19th, with the first two days spent in the honored company of Archbishop Rowan Williams, Primates from the Joint Standing Committee, and other invited guests.
Primarily, we are being called to offer a response to the Windsor Report (including an Anglican covenant), and the Primates' Communiqué from Dar es Salaam. Once the meeting adjourns, the Archbishop is to consult with other Primates to consider a response to our deliberations and resolutions, after which they will give us a timely response. In addition, we will discuss the MDG's, spend a day working in New Orleans, and visit neighboring parishes on Sunday morning.
On Wednesday, September 26th, I will arrive home about two hours before the regularly scheduled meeting of Diocesan Council, and will communicate with you as soon as I am able.
Please pray for me and all our bishops. I leave for this meeting with a deep sense of anxiety, and my prayers have been for wisdom and humility at a time when there seems to be growing entrenchment and self-righteousness. May we honor one another in the honor and glory that is God's gift through Jesus Christ.
May God bless all of us.
(The Rt. Rev.) Geralyn Wolf is Bishop of Rhode Island
[The Source for this is here].
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007 Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sept07 HoB Meeting TEC Conflicts Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
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