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...there is no reason to presume that South Carolina’s declaration of itself as an extra-provincial diocese is more than an ad hoc solution to an immediate crisis. To speculate about the permanence of this situation or about which Anglican entity South Carolina might align itself with is equally a case of playing “Cheat the Prophet.”
The issue that is little addressed in such discussions is the theological nature of episcopacy. What does it mean to be a bishop? Standard Church histories make clear that the office of bishop is about continuity, specifically continuity between the apostolic Church and the catholic Church of the second century. To be a bishop is to recognize and submit oneself to the canonical authority of the Old and New Testaments as the faithful witness of prophets and apostles to the triune God revealed in the history of Israel, the saving work of Jesus Christ, and the Church as summarized in the Rule of Faith.
Whether bishops of the Episcopal Church have acted in continuity with this apostolic Church in proceeding to approve of same-sex unions is precisely the issue that is splitting the Anglican Communion. There are, of course, issues of universality involved as well. A bishop is a bishop not just for a local diocese but for the whole Church. In the long run, an extra-provincial diocese accountable only to itself is problematic. But then again, a national church that refuses to be accountable to an international communion has brought the Anglican Communion to its current crisis, even as a bishop who does not understand his chief role to keep intact the apostolic witness has rather missed the point of being a bishop.
Read it all.
As in Scripture, so also in ecclesiology: the pernicious hermeneutic of self-justification remains a constant temptation. This is regrettable. Ecclesiology is not a minor administrative matter that can be casually tossed aside. It is part of the core good news Christians have to proclaim. In a globalizing world that is dominated by discord and fracture, the Church makes the counter-cultural claim that in baptism we come to belong to the body of Christ. No other entity is shaped by a common willingness to die daily with Christ and be raised with him who is the author of true and abundant life. We believe we belong, and that this is good news. Anglicans work out the implications of this radical claim in the constellation of parishes, dioceses, provinces, networks, and institutions that comprise our global Communion.
The dispute in South Carolina could provide an opportunity — yet unrealized — to think seriously about the ecclesiological and theological convictions underlying Anglican churches. On that note, we might welcome the recent call in these pages for a retreat on the topic, organized by seminary deans. Prayerfully and reverently, one hopes, Anglicans may yet learn together to honor our theological convictions in our ecclesiological structures.
Read it all.
Almost three thousand years ago the Prophet Amos asked ‘can two walk together except they be agreed?’ How can the Church of England, pragmatic and volunteer-led but with complex legal and cultural structures, stay meshed with its culturally incompatible overseas churches? What is its future?
Theo Hobson argues in this week’s Spectator that the C of E needs to find a third way in order to survive, affirming gay partnerships whilst simultaneously rejecting equal marriage.
Can this be done? If the deadlock Hobson describes arose from a frail incoherent compromise, Some Issues in Human Sexuality, how can more hand-wringing duplicity solve it?
The world has moved radically on since 1991....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
It is a wearyingly obvious observation, but the Church of England remains crippled by the gay crisis. It is locked in disastrous self-opposition, alienated from its largely liberal nature. Maybe the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has a secret plan that will break the deadlock: there is no sign of it yet. The advent of gay marriage has made the situation look even more hopeless. It entrenches the church in its official conservatism, and it further radicalises the liberals. A few weeks ago the church issued a report clarifying its opposition to gay marriage, in which it ruled out the blessing of gay partnerships. This was not a hopeful move: it ought to be keeping these issues separate.
The ending of the turbulent Williams era is an opportunity to take stock, rethink, take a step back. What we see is that, for more than 20 years, the church has tried and failed to reform its line on homosexuality; and this failure has been amazingly costly. The church used to be good at gradual reform. Why did it fail so dismally this time?
I blame the liberals....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby --Rowan Williams Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
8. Thus, up through the end of February 2013, all proceedings to date had taken place in the Circuit Court of Dorchester County, South Carolina. But on March 5, everything changed. On that date, Bishop vonRosenberg made the litigation personal, by instituting a lawsuit in his own name in the federal District Court of South Carolina, in Charleston, against Bishop Lawrence as an individual defendant. The lawsuit claimed that Bishop Lawrence was violating the federal trademark Act ("Lanham Act"), by using what Bishop vonRosenberg claimed were marks and names that belonged to his "Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina." (Note that, despite his counsel's having consented to the entry of an injunction against Bishop vonRosenberg and others which forbade them from using that name in South Carolina, Bishop vonRosenberg blatantly used the name in his pleadings in the federal District Court.)
9. Two days later, on March 7, Bishop vonRosenberg's attorneys filed and served a motion for a preliminary injunction, supported by voluminous affidavits, in the federal court Lanham Act lawsuit. This motion sought the issuance of an order from the federal court which would do exactly the reverse of what Judge Goodstein had already ordered -- without objection from ECUSA!
10. Bishop vonRosenberg's moving papers, as you can see, mentioned the state court injunction only in these words, and did not attach a copy of the order itself
Read it all.
This is a highly unusual development, and will doubtless sow consternation among the SCEpiscopalians and their ilk: It shows that Chancellor Tisdale can read the writing on the wall, and knows that ECUSA cannot succeed in any plan to assume the DSC's identity through its own actions. Since the injunction now accomplishes nearly all of the objectives Bishop Lawrence had when he authorized the lawsuit (all that remains is a judgment declaring that his Diocese is the lawful and exclusive owner of the registered marks), it will be interesting to see whether or not ECUSA stipulates to the entry of such a final judgment in the weeks ahead. In short, there is nothing left worth litigating. Yes, ECUSA reserved the right to request a modification in the injunction, but at most it would be only to tinker with the fine points (and I can't think of any). That stipulation was probably included to assuage Mr. Tisdale's clients.
Where things will go from here is now the question. Bishop vonRosenberg has his work cut out for him -- he has to walk a tightrope between keeping the Presiding Bishop happy, and not violating the injunction in any way.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Last week, orthodox Christians convened at the historical St. Philip’s Church to participate in theological discussions at the Mere Anglicanism Conference. Most of the attendees expressed support for the Diocese of South Carolina under Bishop Mark Lawrence, which has been forced out of the Episcopal Church through heavy-handed persecution against traditional Christians within the denomination. Ironically, revisionist Episcopalians met only eight blocks away to reorganize the rump diocese loyal to the national Episcopal Church, USA under Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori.
Mere Anglicanism started off on January 24th with a traditional evensong from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer with the Rev. Dr. Leander Harding of Trinity School of Ministry acting as officiant. The Rt. Rev. Dr. Paul Barnett lectured the next morning on five epiphanies that convinced him of the historicity of Christ. The former Anglican Bishop of North Sydney emphasized the powerful manuscript evidence, the archaeological-geographical credibility of the Biblical record, the multiple attestation to miracles, and the existence of external hostile sources. He likewise excoriated the textual skepticism and deconstructionism that dominates many seminaries today. “The health in the seminary influences the health of the ministers, and the health in the ministers influences the health in the churches,” he surmised.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * South Carolina * Theology Christology
...then a true confusion results: since the remnant group sees themselves as "the Episcopal Church in South Carolina", and are indifferent to using the adjective "Protestant", they could not distinguish themselves from a group which called itself "the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, also known as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina." The former group sees the word "Protestant" as outdated, and superfluous to their identity, while the latter group sees the word as referring to the tradition they still uphold, and hence as still descriptive of their identity. Neither group rejects the adjective as part of their heritage.
The confusion appears to be intended, and not accidental. The "omission" of the single word "Diocese" from their official title turns out to have been a sham. An examination of the remnant group's Website demonstrates that it has not really tried to comply with the TRO, even after the changes made to it on the surface. If one visits their website and chooses the browser option "View Page Source", the following lines of code are right at the very top
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) House of Deputies President TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
On the evening of 4 January, as the BBC News led with a new “civil part- nered bishops” row, Rowan Williams must have powerfully experi enced how different life had become after stepping down as Archbishop of Canter- bury at the end of 2012. For over 10 years such stories were almost always tied to him and his views on sexuality and his leader- ship of the Church. Not any longer. Yet the story illustrates how much “unfinished business” remained as he left office and how fragile Anglican unity is. It therefore raises the question as to his legacy.
For the last six months I’ve attempted to look back over his primacy to offer an ini- tial tentative assessment of his tenure and legacy in Rowan Williams: His Legacy (Lion, 2013). It has been a fascinating and challenging task. I thought I had a fairly good idea of his ministry but quickly realised how little I knew and how wide it has been.
Read it all.
The House may have simply followed the Sodor and Man Review recommendations and put the Church back to where it was in June 2011 with the Equality Act advice but no formal policy of a moratorium. If so, then this minimum change needs to be clearly stated. In addition, given the bishops imposed a moratorium in order not to pre-empt the review’s work, there should be no problem in publishing at least those parts of the review’s work which “show the working” behind this decision and led to lifting the moratorium and making no additional requirements. It is however, possible that the Review’s proposal has been rejected by the House and/or we are not now back to where we were before the moratorium. If this is the case then the House needs to make clear what has happened and the details of the church’s new situation. In this scenario there is much more to explain to the church, including the wider Communion, and recent statements appealing to “natural justice” will not be sufficient.Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
When the conservative Anglican diocese that serves the Fresno, California, area voted to leave the U.S. Episcopal denomination, the national denomination did as it has done in Connecticut, Virginia, Florida and Texas, it fought the diocese in court – seeking to seize all property, which includes millions of dollars worth of sanctuaries, parsonages, parish halls and college campuses.
Observer Giles Fraser says that the liberal national leadership doesn’t have a clue. Citing a vote by the diocese of Pittsburgh, led by Bishop Bob Duncan, Fraser explained: “They are sick to death of liberals telling them that ‘gay’ is OK.”
“Anglicanism is in deep trouble,” writes Fraser, “and so, too, is the Church of England. The fact that 46 members of the church’s general synod, its parliament, have written expressing their support for secessionism, bodes very ill.
Read it all.
A troubling year lies ahead for church and state relations. All the signs are that Members of Parliament are flexing their muscles over the General Synod vote on women bishops.
They would like nothing less than to bounce the Church of England into an early decision, and some are actively seeking to interfere with a decision-making process that uniquely ties the Church and State together. Many supporters of women bishops will welcome this support from Parliament for their cause. Many of us agree that the Church of England must act quickly to resolve a question that has already been settled, not least by the overwhelming support of diocesan Synods. But threats from Parliament are unhelpful for many reasons.
In particular, dispersed power and the separation of British institutions are fundamental to our constitution. If any British institution seeks greater powers over another the balance of the British state is upset. We should expect Members of Parliament to exercise great restraint when it comes to their power. An over-mighty Parliament is as much a danger as an over-mighty Church. Both have their own respective responsibilities and rights and to overstep these is to upset a balance that has been worked out over centuries.
Religious freedom is threatened by a state that seeks to impose its own thinking on the Church. This is why the government’s pretence that it can outlaw the Church of England and the Church in Wales from ‘opting-in’ to same-sex marriage is such a curious claim. It misunderstands the nature of marriage itself, which cannot be divided into civil and religious marriage. It forgets that canon law is also the law of the land. And it is an overreaching of government power.
The fourth element of the so-called quadruple lock is merely a recognition of the status quo, that only the churches can initiate change to their own canon law. Any move to compel the Church in one direction or another is completely unacceptable.
--Church of England Newspaper, January 6, 2013 edition
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Church/State Matters Religion & Culture Women * International News & Commentary England / UK
Is the primary problem TEC faces today a “structural problem?” While we clearly have structural issues, I do not think we have yet come up with the right diagnosis. I would point to two issues that are symptomatic of our situation.
First, we have been involved in serious conflict for the past decade that has held the attention of our leadership, led to an acceleration of our decline and costs us millions of dollars in litigation. Like it or not, this conflict is related directly to our theological and missional identity, namely who are we and what we are called to do. I would caution that just because one side in the conflict seems to have won, this does not mean that we have determined an identity and way forward, especially a way that is significant to our wider cultural context. If the Episcopal Church is to have a future other than shrinking numbers, budgets, and congregations, we must be able to reach people in our society and draw them into this part of the body of Christ.
Second, there continues to be a major disconnect between our corporate structures and the local congregation. We continue to hear from denominational leaders that recent decisions have made us more viable to new generations and new ethnic groups which is making us a more inclusive and multi-cultural church. However, the numbers of declining congregations and the reality in the field is that local congregations are not, nor are most becoming, the kind of church that General Convention and the Executive Council say we are. Of course, we have some congregations that reflect this, but they are far from the norm of our local congregational life. I have spent much time over the last ten years visiting Episcopal Churches and making presentations on congregational development. I observe that many of our congregations are struggling with basic survival issues.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Data TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Missions * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology Soteriology
The crisis of gospel truth that has polarized the Anglican Communion and continues to separate Anglicans stems from a willful, premeditated and deliberate violation of Anglican Communion teaching on human sexuality and Holy orders (see Lambeth Resolution 1.10). For almost 15 years, TEC and other "progressive" Anglican churches in the mostly Western and Global North provinces have openly defied these settled Communion teachings.
It continues to be a sad commentary on the leadership of the current Archbishop of Canterbury that he seems unwilling even to acknowledge the doctrinal issues, much less the crisis, that has consumed so much of his tenure-especially with fellow bishops whose office is to guard the faith and order of our beloved Communion, and among whom are many from the largest Anglican provinces in the Global South who, in the face of this crisis of Gospel truth, found it necessary to provide refuge and oversight for faithful Anglicans in North America. "Some challenges" indeed.
Read it all.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has conceded defeat in the battle over the Anglican Covenant. In a 2 Dec 2012 Advent letter to the primates, Dr. Rowan Williams said the Anglican Communion had become “corrupted” and could no longer be considered a communion of churches but a “community of communities.”
Dr. Williams’ somber appreciation of the state of the communion today, contrasts with his past letters to the leaders of the Communions 38 provinces. Nothing now bound the church together apart from good will....
Read it all.
Cardinal Martini shook up a heady intellectual cocktail for the Catholic Church before he passed away. His recently published last testament has stunned the Vatican and set the faithful arguing about the direction of Catholicism in the 21st century. At nearly the same time, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the retiring leader of 100 million worldwide Anglicans, has been stirring up his flock with valedictory messages.
The lives of Cardinal Martini and Archbishop Williams share common themes. Both have held the highest academic positions and been recognized as great scholars, having produced over 50 works of theology between them. Both are remarkable linguists—Martini spoke 11 languages and Williams speaks six. Their prelatical concoctions pack a punch, and both will certainly enliven the debates about the future of the world’s two largest churches.
Read it all.
As the Special Convention called for the Diocese of South Carolina nears, both the leader of the Diocese and the leader of the national Church have issued pastoral letters. They attempt, on the surface, to calm the waters, but underneath each are stiff messages which show the resolve with which each side of this dispute is facing the coming confrontation.
boilerplate for 815, and comes straight from Chancellor David Booth Beers. The mantra about dioceses needing the "consent" of General Convention to disaffiliate is based on no language in the Church's Constitution or Canons whatsoever. During the Civil War, seven dioceses left the Church without asking or seeking any permission from the national Church to do so. Since then, a proposal to make General Convention the supreme authority in the Church failed to pass General Convention in 1895, and the subject has not been touched upon since.
Bishop Jefferts Schori's letter also takes the occasion to discuss the charges brought against the Fort Worth Seven and the Quincy Three, but again it adds nothing new (except to express the extraordinary opinion that "all involved see [the process] as a positive endeavor"!!). It reiterates that the matter is going through the new procedures under the amended Title IV of the Canons, but it fails to acknowledge her own improper role in that process -- improper, in that she is acting as a judge in her own cause. (The "offense" with which those bishops have been charged is, at bottom, their act of disagreeing with the Presiding Bishop -- and she gets to direct and control the disciplinary process.)
But she also makes a false appeal to parishioners' fear and misunderstanding about what is happening...
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils TEC Polity & Canons * South Carolina * Theology
In Part Two we consider issues of ecclesiology and pastoral care. We are concerned that:
TEC is acting contrary to basic principles of Anglican ecclesiology and ancient norms of the universal church; and
It is sacrificing the genuine pastoral needs of its members to advance doubtful litigation goals.
Read it all.
NOTE: You can read Part 1 and the lively discussion in the comments here.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
This is the first of two articles in which we will address issues arising in South Carolina. We consider below issues of good faith and canonical integrity. In particular:
--TEC’s actions in South Carolina raise troubling questions about the good faith of many church leaders in their dealing with Bishop Lawrence, including the Presiding Bishop, the Disciplinary Board, other TEC bishops
and some diocesan clergy.
--TEC’s position is canonically incoherent; either its actions in South Carolina are in open contempt of its own canons or it has undermined the basis on which it has spent millions of dollars on lawsuits.
In a second post later this week we will consider issues of ecclesiology and pastoral care. We are concerned that: TEC is acting contrary to basic principles of Anglican ecclesiology and ancient norms of the universal church; and it is subordinating the genuine pastoral needs of its members to further doubtful litigation goals.
But we begin with a detailed summary of facts that are not widely known outside South Carolina. It is important that these be placed in the record for the maintenance of public trust. This is neither light nor pleasant reading. Please bear with us.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The certification of abandonment by ECUSA's new Disciplinary Board for Bishops, communicated to Bishop Mark Lawrence by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on October 15, 2012, raises some very troubling questions. It also evidences a new degree of repression operative in ECUSA that seems designed to curb the free speech and other First Amendment rights of its clergy....
Bishop Lawrence has 60 days in which to answer the charges, but he will not do so, as he could not enter into their rigged game without waiving his position that the new Title IV has no force or effect in South Carolina. Moreover, his diocese is no longer even a member of ECUSA, and so the Church's organs and agents have no jurisdiction whatsoever over him. They will still have to go through the motions of "deposing" him, but that is the Church's fault -- it refuses to allow its bishops or other clergy to leave peacefully, and can get them off its books only by charging "abandonment" or "renunciation."
Indeed, any communication Mark Lawrence makes in public about the charges or his diocese now runs the risk that the Presiding Bishop will treat it as she did in the case of Bishop Iker, and declare that it constitutes a "voluntary renunciation of orders" so that she can shorten the process of his removal, and not have to bother with a meeting of the House of Bishops. And in fact, now that I think about it, mark my words -- watch for that very thing to happen.
Read it all (emphasis mine).
This last point brings us to the crux of our disagreement with Bishop Whalon: does TEC’s Constitution create a “metropolitical authority” superior to the diocesan bishop? Bishop Whalon thinks it does. Without citing or alluding to a single provision of the Constitution, he merely asserts: “the metropolitical authority… resides in the General Convention….The General Convention is at the top of our hierarchy.” We disagree. And it is important to emphasize that our disagreement with this conclusion is based fundamentally on an undeniable legal fact: nowhere does TEC’s Constitution state what Bishop Whalon asserts.
“Metropolitical authority” is a very precise and technical ecclesiological term. “Top of the hierarchy” is a very colloquial allusion to a legal concept that is widely used and readily identified in constitutions and legal documents. The legal term most often used to express this concept is “supremacy,” as in the English Act of Supremacy by which the Church of England separated from Rome and the oath of supremacy that all Church of England bishops continue to swear to this day. There are also other terms that are recognized legally as expressing this concept, but none of them is used in TEC’s Constitution. If there were any constitutional article stating that the General Convention is the supreme or highest or metropolitical authority in the church, we can be quite confident that Bishop Whalon would have quoted it rather than relying on mere colloquial assertion.
Again it is important to stress the context of this debate: a legal brief to a civil court. Given the constraints of the First Amendment, secular courts of law can draw conclusions about church polity only when those conclusions are stated plainly in recognizable legal language in the church’s governing instruments—in other words “on the face of it.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Polity & Canons --Aggressive Title IV Action Against Multiple Bishops on Eve of Gen. Con. 2012 * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ecclesiology
(Please note that this piece is largely a repeat of something released much earlier this year [a fact missed by many others it appears]--KSH).
....some of the deficiencies of Rowan's era have to be put down to the horrendous lack of support which the Church of England gives to the Archbishop of Canterbury, while trammelling him with useless and outdated bureaucratic inhibitions. If the Primate of All England is rightly expected to be a global figure, besides being an organic yet vitally critical part of the British political and social fabric, then his office needs to be resourced at a modern, dynamic and media-savvy level well beyond that of a pumped-up diocesan bishop, as currently prevails.
Yet I would reiterate, in conclusion, that the huge gain of Rowan's primacy has been the way he has commanded intellectual and cultural respect in a time of renewed atheistic and liberal attacks on the Christian legacy. Were this gain allowed to lapse, it could be catastrophic. For this reason, I support continuity with Rowan's remarkable and unprecedented mission, and suggest that the person best able to provide this continuity is John Inge, the bishop of Worcester. Like Rowan, he is a moderate Anglo-Catholic capable of resonating with evangelicals, and politically he is a postliberal communitarian. Above all, Inge is a creative traditionalist with a mystical and yet practical sense of the importance of place and temporal legacy.
What is essential is that the Crown Nominations Commission does not sacrifice vision to efficiency - lack of the former, at this juncture, could prove disastrous. I remain optimistic though, for besides Inge, there are several able potential candidates, and more crucially, among the younger generation, real signs of Anglican revival, on both the Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical wings. All the while, whiggish liberalism in the Church of England continues its rapid and inexorable decline.
Read it all.
It would seem that the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) has failed to conclude its deliberations this week. Press reports that this is the case appear to be confirmed by the official statement that “the work of the Commission continues”.
Why is the CNC undecided and what can break the deadlock? To try to answer this it is necessary to understand matters of both composition and process within the CNC. These are set out in General Synod Standing Orders (para 122).
There are 16 full voting members of the Commission whereas usually there are only 14. This is because the appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury introduces both a lay Chair chosen by the Prime Minister (Lord Luce) and a Primate of the Communion (Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales). In addition there are six members elected by Canterbury diocese and two bishops elected by the House of Bishops (to replace the two Presidents, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York). All 10 of these members have little or no experience of CNC processes. Then there are the 6 permanent members – 3 lay and 3 clergy – elected by General Synod most of whom have several years’ service and much experience in selecting bishops. One complicating factor is therefore that usually there are 8 permanent and experienced members and 6 new members (from the vacant diocese) but this time there are only 6 permanent members and 10 new members and neither Archbishop is present.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
When the idea of an Anglican Ordinariate was announced in September 2009 in the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Times of London ran the headline 'Vatican Parks Tanks on Rowan's Lawn'.
It seemed an apt image at the time, for all sorts of reasons: one was the spectacularly undiplomatic character of the act, which was opposed by some in the Vatican and by very senior English Roman Catholics; another was the personal affront to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, whose progressive leanings have never hidden a genuine admiration for the wider western catholic tradition of which his own Anglicanism is a part.
But the other implication of the image was one of a serious and lasting shift in power, a re-drawing of boundaries or movement of populations. Three years later it is more as though the Pope had, uninvited, sent over a Fiat cinquecento or two to pick up some stranded friends and their bags. As they leave the Lambeth Palace gates there is probably relief on both sides....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI
As ENS notes, the defenders of Title IV claimed their February 2011 response to our original critique “conclusively establishes the constitutionality” of Title IV. General Convention must have reached a different conclusion. In any event, we invite all concerned about Title IV to read our replies to their defense of Title IV before accepting the characterization that its constitutionality has been established: “Title IV Unmasked: Reply to Our Critics” (February 2011) and “Title IV and the Constitution” (March 2011). The latter in particular is a comprehensive review of the constitutional provisions for clergy discipline from 1789 to the present. Our own conviction after undertaking this work: “The conclusion that the 2009 Title IV revision is unconstitutional cannot reasonably be denied.” Our critics never answered these papers.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012 TEC Polity & Canons * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The final choice, of course, rests with the Diocese (speaking through its convention).
And that, it turns out, is a very good place in which to start. Just what is the "Diocese of South Carolina", and what abilities and powers does it have when it speaks through its convention?
Here we must be careful to distinguish the ecclesiastical realities from the legal realities. Dioceses of a Church have dual personalities: they are participants in the Church of which they are a constituent member, and at one and the same time, they are legal entities ("persons") in the eyes of the State(s) in which they exist, and have their boundaries.
The Episcopal Church (USA), as has been discussed many times on this blog, is a rather unique entity in the eyes of the secular law. It formed itself in 1789, as an "unincorporated association." But what do those legal terms actually mean?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012 TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
.......But there is a more ominous aspect to these resolves. They clearly purport to “authorize” something General Convention has no jurisdiction to authorize, thus usurping the authority of the very bishops they purport to authorize. And they invite (using the permissive “may”) bishops to use or adapt this rite in “civil jurisdictions where same-sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal.” This calls on bishops to ignore both the rubrics for marriage (including civil marriage) defining it as between a man and a woman and the marriage canon, which as the resolution itself acknowledges “applies by extension.” The House of Bishops was expressly advised that the intention of this resolution was to encourage clergy to perform same sex marriages.
One diocesan bishop has already reversed his position and will now allow clergy to perform same sex marriages, concluding “we are left with a situation in which the mind of this recent Convention appears to be to allow such services. However, The Constitution and The Book of Common Prayer still say something else.” For him “the mind of this General Convention” trumped both of these foundational instruments.
The incoherence of this position is demonstrated by the liturgical materials that were approved, which simultaneously opine that the rite can be used in connection with civil marriages and that “A bishop, priest, or deacon who violates the rubrics or the Canon risks disciplinary action under Title IV.”...
Every bishop, priest and deacon undertakes at ordination “to conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church.” The recent action by General Convention purporting to authorize bishops to authorize a rite for blessing same sex couples raises in an acute way the question of what exactly is the worship of The Episcopal Church to which all clergy promise to conform. We look carefully at this question below. Our conclusions can be summarized as follows:
• The authority to define the worship of the Church is spelled out with precision in Article X of the Constitution.
• Subject to the exceptions in Article X, the worship of the Church is that found in the Book of Common Prayer, which is to be used “in all the Dioceses.”
• General Convention has authority only to amend the Book of Common Prayer or to propose revisions to the BCP and authorize them “for trial use throughout the Church” “at any time” “as an alternative” to the standard Book of Common Prayer.
• Diocesan bishops, not General Convention, have authority to permit supplemental forms of worship under defined conditions.
• The proposed rite was not conceived as a revision to the Book of Common Prayer and therefore General Convention had no authority to authorize its use by any majority or supermajority vote.
• The action of General Convention was theologically incoherent in that it assumed that God’s blessing can be invoked provisionally and in some dioceses but not others.
• The resolution passed is unconstitutional because it exceeds the authority of General Convention and invites clergy to violate BCP rubrics.
• Bishops cannot constitutionally permit use of this rite in connection with civil marriages.
We conclude: taken as a whole, Resolution A049 is not just a legal nullity and theologically incoherent, although it is that. It is also profoundly unconstitutional in that it purports to do something General Convention is not authorized to do and encourages clergy to violate the canons, the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer and their vow to conform to the worship of the Church.
But this is only one instance of the proliferation of unconstitutionally authorized liturgical materials for a church in liturgical, theological and canonical chaos. General Convention itself has called attention to this problem and concluded “it is time…to honor the spirit of the prayer book rubrics.” We agree.
Read it all.
It was the church of George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, George Bush Sr and seven other United States presidents. The Episcopal Church is the US branch of the Anglican Church and it was once very influential. More than a third of Supreme Court justices have been Episcopalians. It was one of the first mainstream churches to ordain women; the first to consecrate an openly gay bishop. But over the past 20 years, the church has lost more than a third of its members, falling from 3.4 million in 1992 to 2.3 million in 2012. Now, following its convention in Indianapolis, the Episcopal Church appears on the brink of collapse. Beliefnet.com reports 46 members of the synod have spoken out in support of seceding from the Episcopal Church; six bishops have petitioned the Archbishop of Canterbury for permission to leave the Church but remain part of the worldwide Anglican communion. Not all the tension is over liberal policies on sexuality. There's also deep disagreement on fundamental matters of Christian doctrine. Author, journalist, and Episcopal minister from Florida, George Conger, explains the developments at the convention that sparked the latest crisis.
You can find the whole transcript here.
In fact, in a few short years, the legal and political order simply reinvented itself, like a genie, flew out and left the self-styled prophets tongue-tied. Now we see that the church was but a dog following behind its master, behind a culture washing through the institution and dissolving its commitments in every corner of its corridors. To be sure, we have long been subject to the harangues of those warning against a “church that bows to culture” and does not transform it. But the extent of its subservience in this case still astonishes.
And the extent is itself a theological challenge, as well as opportunity. The church has been swallowed up. The challenge, furthermore, is not The Episcopal Church’s alone. It represents a kind of march of moral hollowing and distraction that has lulled the whole world (or at least its formal leaders). We should make no mistake about this: every church, and along with them our families and our friends, are being carried along. That is the message of the churches’ own secondary and even tertiary role in this movement, for it is the rush of the civil current that has first inundated the space of all our lives.
So what does this amount to? Our refusal to see the Church as Israel is what has robbed us of the tools to see the meaning of this clearly. Christian ecclesiology is a study of Israel first, given in the only Scriptures the first Church read. Ecclesiology cannot be something founded on the bits and pieces of New Testament practical advice that have so often stunted our ecclesial categories. And the point is this: Israel falls completely.
Read it all.
For a decade now, the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) has been bitterly divided over the issue of ordaining openly gay clergy. The matter reached a new intensity this past week when the church's triennial convention ended the ban on gay candidates serving in ordained ministry. After years of protesting ECUSA's liberal policies and doctrines, seceding conservatives have now organized a rival church -- the Anglican Church in North America, or ACNA -- which claims 100,000 believers, compared with two million in ECUSA. This week's dramatic decision is sure to widen the rift even further, causing what church historians might officially label a "schism."
The presiding bishop of the mainstream Episcopal grouping, Katherine Jefferts Schori, predictably condemns ACNA, protesting that "schism is not a Christian act." But it is not wholly clear who is seceding from whom. In approving gay bishops, ECUSA is defying the global Anglican Communion, which had begged Americans not to take a move that could provoke believers in other parts of the world. The Anglican Communion, though noticeably "progressive" in its American and British forms, is a world-wide church of 80 million. Indeed, the majority of Anglicans today live in African and Asian countries where progressive views are not so eagerly embraced. For American conservatives, it is Bishop Jefferts Schori's church that has seceded from global Anglicanism.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Finally, there is potential for a constitutional crisis of major proportions should anyone in the Church even try to proceed under the new Title IV with respect to anything that the Diocese of South Carolina or any of its clergy may do. The reason for that statement is simple: the Diocese of South Carolina has not adopted, and will not adopt, the new Title IV because it regards those Canons as beyond the powers of General Convention to enact and remain consistent with ECUSA's Constitution. And as noted many times before on this blog, the Canons of General Convention are without any binding force on any Diocese that refuses, on constitutional grounds, to recognize their validity.
And short of a Constitutional amendment to make General Convention the supreme legislative and judicial authority in the Episcopal Church (USA), there is nothing that anyone in ECUSA can do about that situation. It is the same situation we had in the United States when it was under the Articles of Confederation; Congress had no power to impose any of its laws on an individual State against its will -- because there was no Supremacy Clause in the Articles. (It was by reason of their experiences with the stalemates thus generated between Congress and the several States that the Founders included a Supremacy Clause in the new Constitution drafted in 1787, and finally ratified in 1789. And tellingly, some of those same Founders chose not to include a Supremacy Clause for General Convention when they participated in 1789 in drafting ECUSA's Constitution, also adopted by the several Dioceses in that same year.)
If a collision is coming, it will have to be one that the national leadership has actively sought by its actions to date, and that it will seek by its actions to come. Will that leadership be wise enough to pull back before it commits itself to still more? We shall have to bide our time, and see.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012 TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * South Carolina
So what, exactly, did the Bishops do today (July 9), besides “pass” a piece of paper labeled “Resolution A049”?
Did they amend the Book of Common Prayer?
They did not.
Did they approve an alternative to the BCP for trial use on a Church-wide basis?
They did not—the proponents of A049 knew they did not have the votes to do that.
Instead, at the last minute, they carefully reworded their Resolution to take out the word “trial [use]” wherever it appeared, and put the word “provisional” in its place. In this way, the rudderless Bishops apparently believed they were not opening up a route to amending the Book of Common Prayer, by triggering the requirement of the need for a supermajority under Article X of the Constitution (as discussed in this post).
But did they approve, then, an experimental rite for “special occasions” and for use only with the permission of a bishop, as discussed in this earlier post?
No, they did not manage to do that, either....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012 TEC Polity & Canons Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship --Book of Common Prayer * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Right at the outset, we are given two completely disparate views on what we are there for: first, to take advantage of a nearby baseball game (to which, like the prodigal son's banquet, we may always "arrive late"), and to undergo a "tune-up", to "synchronize our heartbeat with God's." One doesn't know whether one has wandered into a sports bar, or the doctor's office.
From there on, the two ships which are passing in the night continue their respective courses, each oblivious to, and unaware of, the other as something to be reckoned with.
Read it all.
In 2007 I wrote an article for the Living Church magazine reporting on the controversies surrounding the passage of the Dennis Canon at the 1979 General Convention. In that article I reported that it could not be shown that the Dennis Canon had passed the convention, but the balance of probabilities made it more than likely that it did.
In the five years since I wrote that article I have done further research on this question, and in light of these researches I have revised my conclusions.
Read it all.
So is this a more “Anglican” budget, intended to endear ECUSA to the rest of the Anglican Communion?
Yes and no. For one thing, although the Executive Council had proposed a reduction in the Church’s support for the Anglican Communion Office from the past triennium’s $1,160,000 to $850,000, the PB now proposes to give the ACO just $500,000. At the same time, she proposes to use the savings in what would have been given to the ACO to enlarge the budget of the Church’s own Anglican Communion office by some $500,000 over what the EC had proposed for it (see lines 192-97). This will be touted as “a greater commitment” to the Anglican Communion, but it is all in moneys to be spent by the PB in adding new staff and in entertaining visiting primates and other Communion dignitaries.
Then again, the PB proposes to raise $1.5 million in new funds for the relief of Haiti, by getting “faithful Episcopalians” to donate to match, on a 2 for 1 basis, the $774,000 already budgeted for such relief (lines 18 and 83). This will certainly please the clergy and laity who have been working there to help Haiti recover from its catastrophic earthquake—but should something be budgeted which apparently has not even yet been committed, or pledged?
Other money “found” since the EC met has resulted from a refinancing of the Church’s outstanding debt at a lower interest rate (line 329), but achieved by pledging the Church’s donated stocks and bonds as security. This allows the PB to project a payment on principal of $1.5 million per year for the next three years. Indeed, this successful achievement by her Treasurer and his staff may well have contributed to the impetus for a new draft budget.
However, the PB was not content to book just concrete savings. As noted earlier, she decided to put in phantom pledges in order to redress the budget as “mission-oriented,” and thus in the process to offer bread and circuses to her constituency.
Read it all.
The list of orders from their June 14 conference is now online, and it shows that less than four of the Supreme Court’s Justices were interested in reviewing the two petitions from parishes who lost their properties in the courts below. It takes a vote of at least four Justices to grant review, and the two cases (the Timberridge case from Georgia, No. 11-1101, and the Bishop Seabury case from Connecticut, No. 11-1139) are shown as having review denied. (The latter case appears on p. 6 of the orders list, because it also required a ruling on a pending motion to allow the amicus brief by St. James Newport Beach, et al., to be filed.)
Read it all and follow the links.
Are we serious about recognising dissenters as loyal Anglicans and, in the words of the 2008 Synod resolution, making “special arrangements... within the existing structures of the Church of England, for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests”? If so, then saying in the Measure that provision should be consistent with those theological convictions should not be so significant as to justify abandoning the first principle - women bishops, equal with men, as soon as possible - by opposing the legislation.
Read it all.
The challenge is not that we have a ministry of the baptized and Communion as our central act of worship – the challenge is that we have clergy ill-trained in Sacramental theology administering them. We have laity that we have failed to form in Sacramental living. We now have a wide body of our priests that do not believe anything much actually happens in the Sacraments.
Do you believe the Holy Spirit descends upon a person and transforms their very being in Baptism so that they are united with Christ? Do you believe that Christ is truly present in the Body and Blood we receive at the Altar? Are the Sacraments God’s action or ours? I have heard far too many talking of Baptism as an entry rite rather than as transformation just as I have heard too many speak of Communion as a “meal” alone rather than the very Presence of Christ among us.
If you have a clergy addicted to modernism and reformation charged with carrying out the catholic Sacramental life of the Church then you will, indeed, have tension. But the tension should not between upending the Sacraments or administering them faithfully as they have been across the centuries. The tension should be between doing or not doing them. You can choose other ways of ministry that do not involve undoing the historic Sacraments of the Church if you are not comfortable with the faith and order we have been welcomed into as both baptized and ordained leaders.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Anthropology Sacramental Theology Baptism Soteriology
You can find the audio here, it may be listened to directly or downloaded as an MP3 file.
More significant was the view that the election of the Archbishop of Canterbury was a matter for England alone. It will be the leaders of the FoCA who decide whether or not to accept him as part of the Fellowship: no-one is acceptable (i.e. godly and Anglican) merely by virtue of their office.
* * *
Therefore there will be no schism in the sense of one organization separating itself out from another on a certain day, followed immediately by either or both bodies setting up new structures and legal identities.
Instead there will be a steady continued tearing of the fabric as distinct ecclesial units (parishes, dioceses and provinces as well as individuals) align themselves explicitly with the FoCA. The legalities will depend on the law of each country (property and pensions being governed by secular law) and on the ecclesiastical structure of each Church.
I anticipate that the FoCA churches will thrive, purposeful and enthusiastic for at least the medium-term foreseeable future. It will thus be self-legitimating.
Read it all.
Kevin and George analyze today's Anglican News -- including breaking news from GAFCON in London and a new solution offered to AMiA Bishops and Clergy from ACNA. Episode 37 also discusses the Fort Worth Seven and the Settlement with Truro Church in Virginia. Alan Haley dissects TEC and we comment on our mailbag.
Watch it all.
(This was sponsored by Guildford DEF[Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship] which is part of the Church of England Evangelical Council in England). You may listen to it all through the audio file which may be found over here (an MP3 file), or if easier here:
Herewith a flyer sent out as an invitation to this event:
The Guildford Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship invite you to an An evening with Bishop Mark Lawrence (TEC Bishop of South Carolina) and Bishop John Guernsey (ACNA Bishop of Mid-Atlantic) On 25th April 2012 at 8 pm At Holy Trinity Claygate, Church Road, Claygate, Surrey, KT10 0JPPlease note this is is a long evening of some 1 hour and 40 minutes. During the introduction the following people are mentioned--it is opened by Philip Plyming, vicar of Holy Trinity, Claygate, and then chairman, Stephen Hofmeyr, QC. There is then a message from Bishop Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford given by the Ven. Julian Henderson, Archdeacon of Dorking. Both Mark Lawrence (who goes first) and John Guernsey then give presentations of some twenty minutes which takes you to approximately one hour. After that there are questions from those present to the two bishops about the matters at hand. Archdeacon Julian Henderson then offers brief concluding remarks. Do take the time to listen to it all--KSH.
We are delighted that Bishop Mark Lawrence, the Episcopal Church Bishop for the Diocese of South Carolina, and Bishop John Guernsey, the Anglican Church in North America Bishop for the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, have agreed
• to bring us up to date with developments amongst Anglicans in North America;
• to tell us why some orthodox Anglicans have considered it appropriate to work within TEC whilst others have considered it appropriate to work within ACNA; and
• to explain to us how people within the two organisations who hold similar views are generally able to continue to support each other in spreading the Gospel.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts Global South Churches & Primates FCA Meeting in London April 2012 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina * Theology
You may go here to find the audio link (MP3).
In 2004 a man serving on our vestry decided to leave his wife after only two years of marriage. There was no adultery, no abandonment, nothing. He’d just grown tired of her and wanted to find someone new. He and I were close. I trusted him. He’d been instrumental in saving my job. When liberal members of Good Shepherd, upset over the stance I had taken with regard to Gene Robinson, called a parish meeting at another local Episcopal Church trying to gather support to have me ousted, this man rallied my supporters and showed up at the meeting with the majority of the congregation behind him.
So when he came seeking my blessing for his divorce he may have expected me, for the sake of our friendship and his past loyalty, to give it. Instead I told him that he needed to step off of the vestry. I told him that in order to remain a member in good standing he’d need to halt his divorce proceedings, go to a Christian marriage counselor, and commit to reconciliation.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Provinces Anglican Church in Congo/Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo Church of Rwanda * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Anglican Continuum * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
But perhaps even more urgent for the Church in England than addressing this issue is the need to amend the growing incompetence and theological incoherence on the ground. There are three crucial elements that stand out:
--Almost ubiquitous liturgical chaos, where many evangelicals and liberals alike have little sense of what worship is for.Read it all.
--The increasing failure of many priests to perform their true priestly roles of pastoral care and mission outreach, in a predominantly "liberal" and managerialist ecclesial culture that encourages bureaucratisation and over-specialisation. This has often led to a staggering failure even to try to do the most obvious things - like publicising in the community an Easter egg hunt for children in the bishop's palace grounds! To an unrecognised degree this kind of lapse explains why fewer and fewer people bother with church - though the underlying failure "even to try" has more to do with a post 1960s ethos that assumes decline and regards secularisation as basically a good thing, or even as providentially ordained since religion is supposedly a "private" and merely "personal" affair after all.
--Perhaps most decisive is the collapse of theological literacy among the clergy - again, this is partly a legacy of the 1960s and 70s (made all the worst by the illusion that this was a time of enlightening by sophisticated German Protestant influence), but it has now been compounded by the ever-easier admission of people to the priesthood with but minimal theological education, and often one in which doctrine is regarded almost as an optional extra.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ecclesiology
This report envisions far more than a pastoral provision for same-sex couples. It represents an official turning point in the debate via an entirely new teaching about the nature and significance of marriage and the biological family, according to which not only procreation but male and female themselves are made optional and accidental ingredients. If such a redefinition of Christian marriage is accepted, it will represent a stunning victory for a Gnostic — and Pelagian — version of Christianity, that can only further damage the already fragile unity of our church.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Not everyone had the capacity of the willingness to suffer through the audio, and now through the kindness of some very hard working individuals you can read a transcript if you are interested.
You may find part one there and part two is here.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Departing Parishes TEC Parishes * By Kendall Sermons & Teachings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Part one is here and part two is there. You are encouraged to take the time to listen to (suffer through?) it all.
Please note--these are both audio files. The time begins with a short Q and A to introduce me to those present before the questions shift to the subject at hand. Note, too that Bishop Kee Sloan of Alabama was invited by the Dean, Frank Limehouse, to come, which he (graciously) chose to do. During the time, Dean Limehouse invited Bishop Sloan to speak, and he chose to do so. This covers a wide range of recent events/developments and will be of broad interest to many blog readers--KSH.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Data * By Kendall Sermons & Teachings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Theology Christology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
Take the time to go through them all as your schedule permits.
The recently disclosed rupture inthe relationship of the Rwandan House of Bishops and bishops of the Anglican Mission in the Americas, although hardly yet resolved or completely transparent, illumines at least a couple of key elements about ecclesial existence, especially among Anglicans. I was never a supporter of the AMiA’s formation, for mainly two reasons: it diluted traditional Anglican witness within North America and it provided a model of and stoked the dynamics for Anglican fragmentation around the world. But for all that, many of the AMiA’s leaders have been people of enormous missionary commitment and skill, and the public dispute among their American and Rwandan leaders hardly does them the honor they deserve.
Read it all.
The rise of the African church could have made Canterbury an important player in international relations—not exactly a rival to Rome (Catholicism’s one billion adherents make that unlikely) but at least a second European center with which Africans would have felt a relation and to which they could have looked for intellectual and ecclesial authority.
Instead, hardly anyone notices when the archbishop of Canterbury is about to be replaced and the unity of Anglicanism is about to be shattered. The job of the archbishop of Canterbury has always been something of a high-wire act, delicately balanced between the Protestant impulses of the church on one side and its Catholic impulses on the other side. And, from time to time, various archbishops have lost their balance (notably when John Henry Newman slipped away to Catholicism in the battles over the Oxford Movement in the 1840s).
This time, unfortunately, it is the wire itself that is breaking....
Read it all.
...the findings in respect of Bishop Lawrence are even broader. As we have noted before, under the new Title IV all clergy are required to report to the Intake Officer “all matters which may constitute an Offense.” The failure by the Board to refer these matters to the Intake Officer thus necessarily constitutes a finding by them, the body responsible for the trial of bishops under Title IV, that not only has there been no abandonment, neither has there been a violation of any of the other disciplinary canons. In other words, Bishop Lawrence has been given the broadest possible clearance.
Fourth, turning to the final sentence in Bishop Henderson’s statement in which he emphasizes that he is speaking only for himself, we note that the express reservation here underscores the fact that the rest of his statement is made on behalf of the entire Board. As to the substance of this sentence, we are unsure what Bishop Henderson means when he expresses his hope that the minority in South Carolina will be given a “safe place.” We are unaware of any allegations that dissident clergy have been disciplined or otherwise treated unfairly by Bishop Lawrence or the Diocese. There was a single allegation concerning a chapel comprised of dissenters from the diocesan majority, but this related not to any alleged discipline or persecution but only to whether this chapel would be organized as a diocesan parish or mission. Bishop Lawrence has in the past vigorously refuted this allegation, pointing out that he has worked closely with this chapel to provide them with priests, including the licensing of priests from other dioceses. In any event, this allegation was dismissed along with the others.
Perhaps Bishop Henderson was using the term “safe place” to suggest that Bishop Lawrence permit the dissenters to perform same sex blessings, call priests who are in same sex relationships or practice communion of the unbaptized, practices that are widespread elsewhere in TEC but prohibited in the Diocese of South Carolina. There is much esteem and affection for Bishop Henderson in the Church, but his hopes on this point are simply those of one bishop expressed openly to another. For our part, we have little doubt that Bishop Lawrence will continue to require that all under his episcopal authority adhere to traditional standards of sexual ethics, standards required by diocesan canons, regardless of any decision made to approve blessings at next year’s General Convention.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils TEC Polity & Canons * Theology Ecclesiology
To sum up the current anomalies, as presented in this post:
1. The Episcopal Church (USA) currently defines marriage, both canonically and in its rubrics, as the "physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman."Read it all.
2. There is no current measure proposed in the governing bodies of the Episcopal Church (USA) which would alter or amend its definition of "marriage" so as to incorporate therein the joining in "marriage" of two persons of the same sex.
3. Notwithstanding the Episcopal Church (USA)'s Book of Common Prayer and its associated Canons, certain clergy (including diocesan bishops) have performed, or have allowed to take place within their Diocese, rites of "holy matrimony" for same-sex marriages within the Episcopal Church's liturgy.
4. The resulting spectacle of lawlessness is undermining the Church from within.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Polity & Canons * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The evidence around us today points to the unwelcome fact that the message of the gospel can degenerate in just a few generations. It seems almost impossible for the missionary zeal of any congregation to rise above that of its priest. If this is correct, then most congregations will be operating at 50% of the missionary zeal of their priest - and this is only when they are doing very well, and where there is good teaching, good fellowship and good prayer meetings. A few from that congregation, a very few indeed, may rise up to 70% or 80% in their zeal towards that of the priest. Suppose that from this congregation there is recruited someone who goes for training for the priesthood. If this man is operating at 50% when he goes to the seminary, and if the seminary is very orthodox and non-evangelical or liberal, then he is panel-beaten and sprayed down to 25%, and in that state he is ordained and sent to another congregation. Since he is now operating at 25%, his congregation will be at 11.5%. As time goes by, a member of that congregation may be selected and sent for training, operating at the same 11.5% and comes out from the seminary operating at 5.75% It is only a matter of time, as the downward spiral takes its toll, that the work of mission and evangelism in his church will die. This is the end result of discontinuity!
The mission of the church, however, cannot, will not, and will never be discontinued. We may choose to neglect it and be careless about the whole mission of God, and indeed in a given generation with a particular group of people the baton could be dropped and the mission discontinued in that place and at that time. God.s mission, however, will move elsewhere and continue.
There is so much to be done in the church and world today. In the same way in which Jesus spoke concerning the harvest in Israel, "The harvest is plenty, but the labourers are few" (Matthew 9:37), so is he speaking in our time and in our context.
Read it all.
In this post, I want to lay out for all to see the conflicts (in addition to those I have already made manifest) which should disqualify still other members of the Board from proceeding any further in examining the claims made against Bishop Lawrence. Let us start with his colleagues -- the bishops who sit on the Board besides its President, the Rt. Rev. Dorsey Henderson.
The Rt. Rev. Ian Douglas, Bishop of Connecticut, is presuming to judge whether, by leading his Diocese to remove its accession to the Canons of General Convention, Bishop Lawrence has thereby "abandoned" communion with ECUSA. Bishop Douglas should accuse himself of that charge, because he now leads a Diocese which has never acceded to the Canons of General Convention, but only to the Church's Constitution....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils TEC Polity & Canons * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
In light of this sequence of events and the manifest importance of this matter for the church as a whole, we believe greater transparency is required than has thus far been displayed. In particular, we suggest the following questions are of sufficient importance to require prompt answers:
When was “the Bishop Lawrence information” first brought to the Title IV Review Committee and who initiated this process? When first submitted to that Committee was the information contained in the document entitled “Addendum” that was subsequently provided to Bishop Lawrence? Or was it initially submitted in another form or by other parties?Read it all.
Why was the Lucka letter of May 25 to the Presiding Bishop, Bonnie Anderson and Executive Council, which prompted the Executive Council’s June action, not provided to the diocese at the time or ever made public? What is the relation between its “Addendum” and the (in part identical) “Addendum” now under review by the Disciplinary Board?
Why was the June “decision” by the Executive Council handled as it was? Why was the diocese not informed for over two months? How has the Executive Council continued “to monitor the actions” of the South Carolina convention?...
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * Theology Pastoral Theology
One of the allegations now being made against Bishop Lawrence is that the decision by the Diocese of South Carolina to continue to adhere to the prior Title IV canons rather than adopt the controversial new revisions constitutes abandonment by being an open renunciation of the discipline of TEC. Last March Alan Runyan and I published an article that undertook a careful examination of the history of TEC’s Constitution as it relates to clergy discipline. We started at the beginning in 1789, but gave particular attention to those constitutional revisions in 1901 that the drafters of the new Title IV claim “profoundly changed” the constitutional allocation of authority in the church. That article provides conclusive proof that the Constitution as now in effect allocates authority for discipline of priests and deacons exclusively to the dioceses except for appeals.
This issue has been much debated in the history of TEC, and our article contains a detailed examination of that history. But throughout those years of debates, the result was always the same: disciplinary authority remained with the dioceses. Our article provides compelling proof that the revisions to Title IV are unconstitutional. It cannot be a renunciation of the discipline of the church to uphold that discipline as specified in the Constitution by resisting unconstitutional encroachment on the diocese’s exclusive authority....
Read it all (and make sure to go and read the full original article to which it links) [emphasis his].
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Church History
Thus [we hear from today's Living Church article that] Bishop Henderson previously worked with Mr. J. B. Burch when Bishop Henderson served on the former "Title IV Review Committee" (of which Bishop Waggoner was the chair). And in that capacity, Bishop Henderson tells us, "he did preliminary work on the Bishop Lawrence information . . .".
What are we to make of this? It indicates that the so-called allegations of "abandonment" against Bishop Lawrence were on the docket of the former Title IV Review Committee until that body ceased to operate as of July 1, 2011. But if that is the case, they must have been presented with the allegations in June 2011 or earlier -- possibly (as I indicated in an earlier post) as long ago as last September.
One wonders why it took so long for Bishop Lawrence to be informed of the allegations made against him, if that chronology is true....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues
Stuff and nonsense, Mr. Gerns. A complaint is made up of allegations. Allegations are charges -- claims that what is stated is true. Bishop Lawrence has been charged by persons undisclosed with "abandonment of communion" under Canon IV.16. Had he not been so charged, the Disciplinary Board for Bishops would never have gotten involved. (And by the way, Mr. Gerns: just how does a Bishop go about abandoning his Church by "inaction"? Wouldn't that happen only if the Church in question first abandoned that particular Bishop, and he did "not act" so as to follow them?)...
More stuff and nonsense. The charges have already been filed -- that is how the Board gets to investigate them. (What? -- you thought they acted only on rumors, and not charges? Well, actually, the Canon lets them act on anything that comes to their attention. But in this instance, as Bishop Henderson stated, they are acting on complaints brought by persons unknown -- to us, but not to the Disciplinary Board -- within Bishop Lawrence's Diocese.)
And the charges will not get "filed" again. Instead, by a simple majority vote of its members, the Board will either certify that "abandonment" has occurred, or it will not. There will be no further investigation. There will be no "attempts at reconciliation." And there will certainly be no hearing, because the Canon (IV.16) does not provide for one.
Read it all (being sure to follow the link to Mr. Germs piece to which it is responding).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * South Carolina
Your Curmudgeon takes pride in his attention to details -- and he does not like being misled. He is always happy to correct his mistakes, once they are pointed out to him, because no one should have a vested interest in spreading untruth. Thus when somebody feeds him wrong information, he cannot refrain from asking why they would have done so.
Consider the latest snafu over the "mistaken" listing of Ms. Josephine Hicks, the Church Attorney to the Disciplinary Board of Bishops, on the Official Roster of that Board as published on ECUSA's Website. She was still shown as a "Member" (i.e., a participant with a vote) as late as October 12, and yet on the previous September 30, she authored a letter to the President of South Carolina's Standing Committee, which she signed as "Church Attorney to the Board".
Now the Rt. Rev. Dorsey Henderson, former (resigned) Bishop of Upper South Carolina, is a canon lawyer. He has served on the predecessor to the Disciplinary Board (the former "Title IV Review Committee"). As such, he participated in the proceedings against Bishops Schofield and Duncan for so-called "abandonment of communion", which resulted in their faux "deposition" by a tiny minority of the full membership of the House of Bishops who are actually entitled to vote under ECUSA's Constitution, notwithstanding what the vindictive Presiding Bishop or her financially very interested Chancellor chooses to opine. So he is no stranger to the canonical process, especially in so-called cases of "abandonment."
Read it carefully and read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * South Carolina
The abandonment canon was originally enacted to cover the clear case where a bishop converts to another faith without bothering to resign his see first (an act which also requires consent from the House of Bishops). Its expedited procedures assumed that (a) there could be no argument over what acts constituted the "abandonment" -- hence the lack of provision for any hearing, or trial; and (b) the abandoning bishop would in all likelihood not contest the fact of his having left the Church. Neither of those circumstances applies in Bishop Lawrence's case.
But now Bishop Henderson has made it official: despite all the fanfare about the supposedly "more humane" character of the new disciplinary canons, when it comes to "abandonment", it is business as usual in the Episcopal Church (USA). If the Disciplinary Board certifies the flimsy acts spelled out in the document published on South Carolina's website as constituting "abandonment", it will have acted even worse (if that is possible) than did the old Title IV Review Committee in the case of Bishop Duncan. And for the second time in its history, the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops will have decided to remove one of its own members, a sitting and functioning bishop, from his diocese without any overt act on his part of renunciation or departure -- indeed, in spite of all his protestations to the contrary.
And so now, the question arises: why did it take so long for the Disciplinary Board to get involved? Why was not the September 2010 letter from the Episcopal Forum, with its nearly identical charges, not referred to the old Title IV Review Committee at the time?
Read it all.
Bishop Dorsey Henderson, President of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, has responded to questions concerning the canonical process underway involving Bishop Mark Lawrence. We appreciate his clarification on a matter of great interest to the church.
Many in the church had assumed that the Lawrence matter was being processed by the normal intake procedures specified under the new Title IV. Included among these were bishops sympathetic to the national church who assumed that this was the beginning of an extended procedure involving the Reference Panel, subsequent Conference and Hearing Panels, and the normal process of notice and opportunity to be heard inherent in the trial process. We were dubious of that assumption ourselves, but that was one of the questions we raised in our earlier piece on this matter. We are grateful for an answer.
It is now clear that there will be no such process. The matter will be considered by the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, meeting as a whole, which will vote whether to certify Bishop Lawrence for abandonment. If it were to certify that Bishop Lawrence has abandoned the church, his ministry would be restricted immediately (what formerly was called inhibition) and the matter would be sent straight to the House of Bishops at its next meeting (following a period of at least sixty days). If the Disciplinary Board votes by the end of this year, that meeting would be the March meeting of the House of Bishops at which Bishop Lawrence would be deposed if the House so votes by a majority vote.
Read it all.
Update: Since I have a lot of email questions on where to find the "new" Title IV canons, one place is here.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * South Carolina
The new title became effective on July 1, 2011, and already has been invoked in two proceedings against bishops of the Church. Given our past concerns, it is appropriate to take initial stock of the new canons as applied. Our succinct summary: it is even worse than we expected. We address three issues below: (1) what procedures are followed in initiating proceedings against bishops; (2) what standards are applied when restricting the ministry of bishops before trial; (3) what standards are applied in evaluating allegations before deciding to proceed with an investigation....
Without knowing the answers to... [all our] questions, two inferences seem reasonable at this point. First, the canonical authorities designated by the new canons do not understand the procedures they are canonically required to follow. And second, there is something approaching an official and conclusive determination that the matters under consideration by the Disciplinary Board are not matters that “may constitute an Offense.” Otherwise, we would have proof of a massive canonical failure by the entire church leadership, including the officers designated by Title IV, the House of Bishops and the Executive Council, at the very outset of the new title.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils TEC Polity & Canons * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The recently announced disciplinary process against Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina is deeply disturbing on at least two fronts. First, it sullies the Gospel and the Lord of the Gospel; second, it promises to do serious damage to The Episcopal Church (TEC).
In the first place, the allegations against Bishop Lawrence, and the claim that they may amount to “abandonment” of TEC are so absurd as to cross the line into deceit and malice. The fact that these allegations are being made and taken seriously by the leadership of TEC in itself constitutes an affront to the commitments for which a Christian church stands – honesty, charity, care for the witness of the Church’s unity.
Read it all.
ECUSA's General Convention in those days had as its primary function the hearing of reports on the status of the Church in each Diocese. Occasionally it was called on to admit another new diocese into union with the Church, or appoint a bishop to supervise a missionary diocese, and now and then it adopted amendments to the Canons. But its role on the national scene was largely ephemeral, and entirely forgettable.
What changed ECUSA structurally from its original model was the slow but steady growth in the size of its House of Bishops, as more and more territory came under ECUSA's jurisdiction, and also the advent of powerful new social forces. The first factor forced a change in the office and functions of the Presiding Bishop; following that change, the second factor transformed the character of the Church itself, under the active leadership of the new breed of Presiding Bishops.
Read it all.
The tendency in all such bodies as our General Convention, is to centralize power; and unless there are well defined checks and barriers to it, we can not avoid its dangers. A centralized ecclesiastical power is an unqualified evil, and as surely results in corruption as if that were the goal of its ambition. A very superficial glance at the history of the American Church will show, that we have been drifting with accelerated velocity towards this danger, with almost the drowsy indifference of the lotus eaters.
"Let us alone. What pleasure can we haveWhen the first steps were taken to form a Church Union, each State had its own Church; which was, to all intents and purposes, a National Church, and was so regarded. Each State might have any number of dioceses within it. In the General Convention—no matter how many dioceses there might be within it,—each State was entitled to but one body of delegates. The Church Constitution, like that of the Government, did not seek to interfere with the political theory, that each State is sovereign in all local matters. Even the trial of bishops remained within the States until 1841, when, by reason of the change which had been made in 1838, allowing dioceses to be represented in the General Convention, a necessity arose for such a provision.
To war with evil? Is there any peace
In ever climbing up the climbing wave?"
Read it all and look carefully at the date.
As readers of this blog are aware, your Curmudgeon is no fan of the Dennis Canon, which I like to call the Episcopal Church (USA)'s Trojan Horse. It has spawned a disproportionate amount of Church property litigation, because it operates by stealth, and springs onto the back of a parish just at the time when it is most vulnerable, having decided to take the final step to disaffiliate from ECUSA. All of a sudden, the Bishop of the Diocese swoops down with his attorneys, and orders the congregation to vacate its building, and leave everything behind, from the altar candlesticks to the bank accounts and pew cushions. "Because you no longer are operating within the Episcopal Church," he says, "Canon I.7.4 [the Dennis Canon] declares that all of your property is now forfeit to the Diocese, since it was always held in trust for this Diocese and the Church."
Such a claimed operation for the Canon comes as a surprise to many congregations who thought that their years of paying for the acquisition, construction and maintenance of their building, plus a deed in their name, meant that they owned it. Furthermore, every State in the United States has a law which says that trusts in real property can be created only by a writing signed by the owner of the property. The Dennis Canon operates in reverse: it purports to create a trust in church property without the owner's signature, and just on the authority of ECUSA's General Convention. As I noted elsewhere, it purports to operate as though, upon you and your spouse's joining the Democratic Party, your house and all your worldly goods become forfeit to the Party should you ever decide to become a Republican.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Departing Parishes TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market
Read it all (54 page pdf).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
It was only in July 2006, almost three years after the Episcopal Church’s consecration of a pseudogamously partnered man as Bishop of New Hampshire that Walter, Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), the Vatican’s “ecumenical office,” delivered an urgent address to the House of Bishops of the Church of England imploring them to proceed no further with measures allowing for the appointment of woman bishops, as such a measure would render impossible the realization of previous Anglican and Catholic ecumenical aspirations. (I shall return to this episode further on in this presentation.) Cardinal Kasper had a reputation, perhaps not undeserved, for being interested primarily in cultivating ecumenical relations with representatives of the historic Protestant churches, such as those that made up the Lutheran World Federation or the Anglican Communion, to give two examples, and rather less with conservative or dissident groups stemming from those traditions, and reacting to their perceived liberalism, such as the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, or the various “jurisdictions” that make up “Continuing Anglicanism,” and this address to the Church of England’s bishops was almost the “last hurrah” of this type of Catholic ecumenism. Almost — for there was to be a last farewell to it at the 2008 Lambeth Conference.
All this said, the remainder of my presentation shall tell “three stories:” the story of the Traditional Anglican Communion’s approaches to Rome; the story of England’s Forward-in-Faith organization and its dealings, or the dealings of some of its member bishops and clergy, with Rome; and, finally, and perhaps most significantly, the almost completely unpublicized story of the secret discussions between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome and some English Anglican bishops in 2008 and 2009.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Anglican Continuum Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI
The segment description is as follows:
George Conger and Kevin Kallsen bring you back to the "new media" of the 1980's in their "On this day in History" segment. They also discuss the use of analogies and their place in a violent world. Alan Haley discusses some specifics from the court case in the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin; and our guest Bishop this week is Bishop Iker from the Diocese of Fort Worth. Bishop Iker brings news from the Fort Worth law suit and the new heat record for DFW.Watch it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis - Anglican: Latest News Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues
It seems to me that the understanding of communion that has shaped the proposed covenant is vastly superior to the theologically vacuous one favored by many with progressive views and to the impractical confessional one favored by many with more traditional convictions. It provides a way to sustain a thick form of communion within the changes and chances of history and within the conflicts occasioned by differences in culture. It provides a way through history that does not reduce communion (as in the progressive case) to the chance overlap of moral commitments or (as in the traditionalist case) to a fixed point in the history of the church that can serve as a theological north star. The ship that is the church is best guided by common immersion in Holy Scripture and mutual recognition born of a grace filled struggle in the light of scripture’s witness to arrive at truth. That is what the covenant is all about.
It saddens me that the chances for general ratification are in decline. I am still hopeful that most of the provinces will ratify the proposal. The recent actions of South East Asia and Ireland strengthen that hope. Nevertheless, hope in this case might disappoint. It is possible that the covenant will fail. If it does fail, the present disputants, because of the positions they hold, will miss the full scope of what has been lost. The great problem in the history of the church is how fidelity to the apostolic witness is to be maintained within the changes and chances of history. Anglicans have an answer to this question that the disputants in this fight have missed. It is a powerful answer, but it may indeed be lost without the disputants knowing what has actually happened....
I believe that Anglicans have addressed this question, though unwittingly, in a different and more adequate way—largely through a Book of Common Prayer.
Read it all.
Before I get into that, lets look at a few quotes from the [parish] report, which acknowledges "a steady decline in attendance over the past 18 months" and "Overall, our participation numbers in children’s choirs has dropped dramatically since 2008, although a slight recovery appears to be underway." I have to wonder if any of the report readers recognize the correlation between program and attendance/involvement. I won't point out those correlations -- I'll just let you view them and hopefully comment.
Let me say, as an aside, that this parish is not unique at all within TEC. All over the US, Episcopal parishes are trying to figure out what on earth is going wrong. Parishes are declining in droves -- and many of them are in death spirals. As I shared with someone recently [edited slightly]:
"I personally believe that TEC will continue to decline rapidly, and most of the "hinterland" parishes will die. That is certainly what is happening within my diocese. We'll end up with some parishes in Greenville, Columbia, Aiken, one in Rock Hill [which is dying] and a couple in Spartanburg -- and that will be it. Our "natural size" now in our diocese is around 12 functional/healthy parishes, with the rest on life support until the older generations die out. And I think that's the level that dioceses of that size will eventually decline to over the next 10-20 years."Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Data Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Theology
The Episcopal Church in the United States (EC), like other denominations, has been in crisis over human sexuality. What is different for the EC is that it faces, in its debates, the question of whether or not its vocation is to be an American Protestant denomination or to be part of the worldwide Anglican Communion in which national particularity is submerged for the sake of common witness.
In June 2010 EC Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori issued a pastoral letter that was a direct challenge to the archbishop of Canterbury and by extension to the Anglican Communion, of which Archbishop Rowan Williams is at least titular head. At stake is whether or not his headship can, or ought, to be more than titular; and if so, what would that mean?...
In truth, some EC leaders (some bishops, cathedral deans and theology professors) have in recent years largely eschewed the heavy lifting of systematic and moral theology, preferring the more applied genres in which the key matters turn toward the psychological, therapeutic and pastoral, as well as toward calls for social justice. A few years ago a book was published with the title The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, which said that the evangelical movement in the U.S. had not so much forgotten how to think, but that it was intended to do without deep thinking. If there were a new book, "The Scandal of the Episcopal Mind," the conclusions might be disarmingly similar. The rise to prominence of liberal theology in the EC came along with disinclination toward theological depth, as well as a desire to ally the denomination with the more "progressive" American denominations. As one senior bishop told me, in choosing "justice" as the talisman for all actions and featuring inclusiveness as the badge of this new orthodoxy, the EC had taken a thin slice of theology—and of justice.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
There is something beautiful about the way in which Augustine and Thomas integrated the map of the self society provided them within a complex account both of Christian belief and practice and an extensive account of the forms of human relationship. Indeed Anglicans still employ versions of these exhortations and prayers. Nevertheless, they sound strange to many in the pews who think of themselves not as embodied souls with intellect, will and appetite but as persons with rights, selves with particular histories and individuals whose nature is unique. These people may well look to marriage to provide mutual society, help and comfort. These, after all, are good things for selves in search of flourishing. Nevertheless, the tie of marriage to procreation will most certainly be jarring if children are not part of a couple’s notion of flourishing. Again, persons (in the modern sense of the word) probably do believe government is to provide civil order and administer justice fairly. These tasks create the space necessary for the pursuit of private goals. However, is government within its rights to maintain true religion, and ought government to be given the right to monitor the private virtues and vices of individuals? Embodied souls once thought that as the intellect was to order the powers of will and appetite, so the ruler was to order the unruly wills and affections of the citizenry. Nevertheless, in our time persons protective or their rights may with good reason believe assignment of these responsibilities to government intrudes inordinately on the freedom of individuals in pursuit of good, as they understand it.
The theological task, therefore, is to integrate the present account of human agency within a comprehensive account of Christian belief and practice. It is false to say that progressive voices have not attempted to do just this. It would also be false to say that more traditional voices have not sought to bring the changes in moral practice now common in the West under the scrutiny of such an account. The problem is that progressives have made the connection by reducing Christian belief to rather vacuous account of divine and human love; and traditionalists have, as it were, “majored” in dogmatic assertions while remaining unaware of the moral gains that have come with our present map of the self. If I hope for a more adequate account of Christian belief and practice from progressives, I hope also that traditionalists will manifest less dogmatism and more awareness of the moral gains that have accrued to the West because of its current account of moral agency. In a way, addressing these inadequacies defines the theological and moral task now presented to the churches of the West. If this task were to be undertaken by Anglicans, the Achilles Heel of Anglicanism in North America and the United Kingdom would most certainly be exposed, and perhaps the Anglican Communion in those lands would be spared Achilles fate. Perhaps other churches might even undertake the same task.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis * Culture-Watch * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit
The end of conciliarism, which accords with the practice of the early church, is to be regarded as tragic. The Anglican tragedy, like its medieval counterpart, may be seen as stemming from the reluctance of the central authority to relinquish or even dilute its control. This reluctance is not necessarily a matter of perversity, however. To be sure, the reluctance of Anglican Communion Office, instanced by their keeping the ACC in line in Jamaica, has seemed motivated by a desire to avoid offending TEC, which provides much of their funding. But from their perspective TEC’s financial support may appear essential for the proper functioning of the Communion. They have seemed concerned also to avoid alienating the liberal wing of the Church of England. But this may be not just out of ideological predisposition. It may also reflect a belief that the CofE could not afford the resulting exacerbation of its divisions.
To Archbishop Rowan himself, with his brilliant mind, deep learning, and winning personality, such considerations may have less application. The explanation in his case may lie more in his espousal of a theology militating against closure on any issue, and thus supportive of the inclinations of the Anglican Communion Office, as of the interests of TEC, by default. Charles Raven, in his 2010 book Shadow Gospel: the Theology of Rowan Williams and the Anglican Communion Crisis, made an impressive case to this effect. As for Rowan’s adherence to such a theology despite all his sophistication, being essentially an academic, without secular or even significant parish experience, perhaps limits his awareness of the outside world.
If, then, there is to be a revival of Anglican conciliarism, it will have to come not from the Instruments in their now compromised state but instead out of churches of the Global South, together with their Western allies. These churches have laid a basis for it already in Gafcon, their conference in Jerusalem in June 2008. There the Spirit was clearly at work, producing conciliarly the extraordinary Jerusalem Declaration. So far, despite the South-to-South Encounter in Singapore in April 2010 and the CAPA meeting in Uganda last August, the Global South leaders have not followed up on it. But by absenting themselves from the Dublin Primates’ Meeting and thereby sealing its irrelevance, they have taken on a responsibility to do so. For the sake of conciliarism and of Anglicanism itself, they need now, in American terms, to step up to the plate.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Consultative Council Anglican Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
Notice how the conclusion does not even begin to follow from the premise. Because the Constitution does not circumscribe the authority of the Presiding Bishop does not mean either (a) the authority must be unlimited; or (b) that General Convention has the power to define the authority of that office -- or to add to, or detract from, its authority on its own. And since duty flows from (and is defined by) authority, having the power to prescribe duties appropriate to the authority that has been given is not the same as having the power to create new authority by creating new "duties."
Can anyone today seriously argue that the office of the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA is without any limits on its authority? The Title IV Task Force II seems to think so -- and they defend their extension, sub rosa, of metropolitical authority to that office on the ostensible ground that such authority is "nothing new," because General Convention "has never considered that office to be limited as the Runyan & McCall paper states."
Only persons who were determined to ignore the evolutionary history of the office of Presiding Bishop could make such an outlandish statement....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Church History
Thus, the justification offered by the "Task Force II" on Title IV has no historical basis in fact, and constitutes a misreading of the intent of those who enacted the language. And as argued at the outset of this post, there is no rational basis for dividing the power to establish courts from the power to define their jurisdiction, constitution, and procedures. Read in that way, Article IX becomes a mere fig leaf: the real power to create the courts, notwithstanding the language of Article IX, lies in General Convention.
And so to read Article IX, in a paper submitted by the authors of the revisions to Title IV, is to express everything that is wrong with the current views of the leadership of ECUSA as to its polity. In the state court lawsuits, over and over again, that leadership has beat the drum for ECUSA's "hierarchical" polity, when -- as shown in the first post in this series -- there is no such hierarchy as between the dioceses themselves, or when assembled in General Convention. The proof of this point lies in the latest revisions to Title IV themselves. On the "Publications" page of General Convention may be found links to various documents regarding the revisions, including a set of "model" canons for the dioceses to enact in order to implement the revisions.
Without the dioceses enacting those (or similar canons) in their own separate conventions, the changes to Title IV approved at the national level in 2009 could never take effect....
Read it all.
What then shall we do? The most immediate answer is to provide an alternative to the shallow account of the Christian Gospel and the nature and mission of church now proposed by the liberal rump. As the Windsor Report suggests, a robust account of “communion” will go a long way toward meeting that goal. Nevertheless, such an account will not appear apart from work yet to be done. If not done, the politics of compromise and deal making will take over the dissidents as it has their progressive opponents. In that case, the counter example of what it is to be the Anglican Communion will not appear, and we will be left with only fragments.
This is the moment the Global South has asked and waited for. This is their time to call the Anglican Communion back to its roots in Holy Scripture and the fathers of the church. It is their time to show us what communion is all about. That effort will require of all of us not only great theological effort but also all the graces Paul places at the foundation of Christian unity—lowliness, meekness, patience, forbearance in love, eagerness for unity along with kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness. Much will be asked of everyone, but it is these, my brothers and sisters in the Global South, who, in our time, will bear the heat of battle. Those of us in provinces controlled by the liberal rump of what once was our communion, though we may help in this enterprise if asked, now in large measure are called upon to wait, watch and pray rather than control. One thing we should wait, watch and pray for is a rigorous account of what it means when Anglicans claim to be a communion of churches. We understand that meetings are now being planned within the Global South to arrive at ways to move forward despite the terrible divisions we face. I pray that a meeting soon will take place. I pray also that it will appoint a body from throughout the Communion to forge a common vision of what the Anglican Communion is called to be. Finally, I pray that those who now resist the direction manifest in Dublin will prayerfully move forward and embrace a Communion ecclesiology that gives glory to God, who has so richly blessed the missionary extension of the Gospel throughout the world. This should be a time of fresh hope in that same Gospel and its Lord.
Read it all.
[Anglican TV] ATV: What’s the most important issue going on in the Anglican Communion today?
[Greg Venables] GV: The vast majority of Anglican leaders worldwide, together with Anglicans in general, want to get on with preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ: the fact that there is a message of hope, and love and forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ.
But we’ve hit a problem. And the problem is that within what we call the Anglican Communion there is a significant group, which unfortunately seems to dominate much of the public life of our church, which is suppressing the truth.
The reason why we feel this urgency is because it is clearer than ever, even within our own Church, that we are under the wrath of God. Now that is not something that people like to talk about very much, and it’s not a very pleasant subject, but it is an important one.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011 Anglican Provinces Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone] Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
Against this background, what is most remarkable about the Dublin meeting is that its working document on the Primates’ Meeting cites only the preliminary remarks of Archbishop [Donald] Coggan, but makes no mention whatsoever of the subsequent work done to implement those remarks by the Lambeth Conferences and the Covenant in specifying the role of the Primates’ Meeting, work that by now has been accepted by all the Instruments of Communion. As far as one can discern, this established understanding played no role at all in the deliberations at Dublin. While one might try to parse the provisions of the Dublin document to align it to greater or lesser extent with the accepted precedents, the simple fact is that those other sources were not acknowledged, were not quoted and were not even the subject of obvious paraphrase. Those meeting in Dublin staked no claim to continuity with the past, ignoring the will of the most authoritative of the Instruments of Communion—the Lambeth Conference of Bishops.
For all these reasons, the group of Primates who met in Dublin cannot be recognized as acting in accord with the accepted Communion understanding of the Primates’ Meeting as an Instrument of Communion. This Instrument thus joins the others as now being dysfunctional and lacking in communion credibility. The role of the Lambeth Conference as an Instrument of Communion is to “express episcopal collegiality worldwide.” But in 2008, when the bishops of most Anglicans “worldwide” were not present, it could not perform this function. It accomplished little of substance and is now regarded throughout much of the Communion as a symbol of futility. Similarly, the Anglican Consultative Council has been re-structured legally so that it is no longer recognizable as the Instrument defined in the Covenant or in past Anglican documents. The role of the Archbishop of Canterbury as an Instrument of Communion is to function as “a primacy of honor and respect among the college of bishops,” as “a focus and means of unity,” and the one who “gathers” the Lambeth Conference and Primates’ Meetings. Whatever may be said about the cause of the disintegration, it is incontrovertible empirically that Canterbury has been unable to perform this function over the last three years. The Communion thus finds itself with no working Instrument that has been able to perform its necessary function, follow its rules, and garner credible acceptance from the majority of the Communion.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011 Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
Today, less than 8 years after the 2003 emergency Primates Meeting, 15 of the Primates are no-shows. There is loss of trust and a sense that words and efforts are meaningless - that the Episcopal Church in particular will act unilaterally against the mind of the Provincial leaders and global Anglican witness.
The Episcopal Church continues to decline, with its membership the oldest among U.S. denominations and its internal reports showing no reliable sources or patterns of growth. In an Anglican Communion of some 80 million members, only about 700,000 Episcopalians attend services on an average Sunday. The [partnered] gay bishop consecrated in 2003 downsized his diocese, spent most of his time at gay movement and media events, and recently announced his retirement after less than a decade in office.
A [partnered] lesbian bishop was consecrated, and some gay and lesbian couples have had high profile ceremonies, including a recent lesbian union worded contentiously as a variation on the Prayer Book marriage rite.
So, a small, affluent, socially homogeneous inner circle of a very small denomination indulges its fancies at the cost of a diverse, global Christian fellowship - a fellowship whose leaders hung in with misrepresentations and broken commitments while trying to maintain bonds of affection. That is, until this 2011 Anglican Primates Meeting in Dublin.
Read it all and make sure to take special note of the numbers of Primates attending.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011 Primates Meeting Alexandria Egypt, February 2009 Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007 Instruments of Unity
Evident Preoccupation with Issues of Anglican Crisis: The four current emphases of IASCUFO indicate that issues arising from the Anglican crisis are dominating the group’s attention. The definition of church and the related question whether the communion is a church or a communion of churches constitute an issue that is, yes, fundamental but also a bit elementary for a group purporting to be advancing the theology of the communion as a whole. The reason is probably a pervasive of sense of crisis and disintegration. The second topic of the Anglican Covenant is obviously crisis-related, as is the third on the Instruments of Communion and their inter-relations. The first half of the fourth topic, the reception of the work of the instruments and of the ecumenical dialogues, is also crisis-related, with only the second half indicating a nod to the complex and diverse ecumenical dialogues. Ecumenism is likely to get short shrift, most unfortunate in light of Anglicans’ historic role in catalyzing ecumenical relationship and work. Theology and doctrine are likely to be marginalized altogether as managing and responding to the crisis take center stage. The Anglican crisis is full-blown, I have criticized efforts to minimize it, and it deserves the kind of attention it has been receiving. It is simply unfortunate that this conflation of commissions appears to suck all other theological and ecumenical air out of the room. The health of the communion depends partly on other kinds of work moving forward and receiving support – and it may well be that this unfortunate conflation has occurred mainly for financial reasons.
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“Sumptuous” Is the word the Rev. Dr. Peter Moore used to describe this years’ Mere Anglicanism Conference held January 20-22 at St. Philip’s Church in Charleston. Over 200 participated in the sixth annual Conference held, this year, in honor of the 12th Bishop of South Carolina, the Rt. Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison.
“Over half a century ago Dr. ‘Fitz’ Allison began preaching, teaching, and writing about the Word of God’s Grace in ways that are still bearing fruit in Anglicanism today,” said Conference organizer and retired Dean of South Carolina, the Very Rev. William McKeachie. “This year’s Mere Anglicanism Conference, the biggest and best ever, was the church’s way of saying, ‘Thank you,’ to this amazing bearer and sharer of God’s Grace.”
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(By Cheri Wetzel).
The main day of presentations has concluded. This afternoon, we heard a brilliant piece by the Rev. Dr. Ashley Null on Recent findings in Cranmer Research. For the first time ever, the development of the Doctrine of Anglicanism made sense to me, from the early days of the beginning of the Church, through Cranmer’s time as Archbishop of Canterbury. The early Church Fathers, the writing, analysis and evaluation of competing texts in Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, plus the Reformation writers, especially Luther, became a completed picture – no longer a jig saw puzzle with lots of missing pieces. Rationale for Cranmer’s development of the Book of Common Prayer I and II finally make sense. Because major portions of this paper will be published this calendar year, this commentary ends here. Dr. Null has promised that when the publishing cycle is complete, we will do an in-depth interview. Trust me, it will be worth the wait for this excellent material.
This lecture was followed by the Rev. Dr. Steven Paulson, escapee from the frozen tundra of central Minnesota. His topic was “Preaching the Gospel of Grace.” A clerical member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Dr. Paulson spoke with clarity about the difference between the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of the Sadducees, both of which are warned against in Paul’s letters. “Cheap Grace” and the problems between works and grace that have inhabited the Church since the early days, received great discussion. How do you actually preach the Gospels when these differences in understanding still exist? Get to the core. Who is the person of the Christ? What was he sent to us to accomplish? How did he do that? Is this healing balm still vital and active and functioning today? Yes. Preach it!
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(By Cheri Wetzel).
The Rev. Jeffrey Miller of St. Helena’s, Beaufort South Carolina delivered the homily. Here are my notes from this homily, which was excellent.
Tertullian, a Roman theologian, said, “We are but of yesterday, yet we have felled every spot you occupied. We have left nothing to you but empty broken tokens of your gods.”In the short span of 200 years, a formerly persecuted sect filled the whole earth and even invaded Caesar’s palace.
How? Edward Gibbon wrote in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, that Christians felt it was the sacred duty of each person to share their faith. Why is Christianity struggling and shrinking across the West and Islam growing? Because you and I have failed. We have become convinced that it is impolite, impolitic and rude to discuss in public our faith. We believe that our faith is a private matter and is best kept to the self. This is decidedly not how the disciples or the early Church felt.
Remember that first Palm Sunday in Jerusalem? Jesus was walking down the street and the people were ripping palm branches off the trees and shouting. It was pandemonium. The disciples ran to Jesus and begged him to make the people stop. He replied, “If they are silent, even the rocks will cry out.”
His last words to his disciples before his ascension into heaven were, “Go ye into all the world and make disciples…”
So let me ask you. Is it impolite, impolitic and rude to warn someone about a speed truck that is heading their way? Is it impolite, impolitic and rude to tell someone about a cure for cancer?
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis - Anglican: Latest News * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * South Carolina * Theology
From its birth in 1559, the Church of England trumpeted latitudinarianism in the early church as the basis for its existence, and now for the more catholic minded among them they all wonder why ‘Anglicanism’ has become, like mystery Babylon the great, the “hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.”
There are many good, loyal, God loving people within Anglicanism, both those still looking to Canterbury, and those who have abandoned those in communion with ++Rowan Cantaur for putatively more pure forms. Ultimately, however, the anti-Catholic notions of 1559 will catch up to them. Why? Because allowing or accepting anything means holding to nothing. Kinsman can have the final word: “In the Episcopal Church, some of the most conspicuous examples of applied individualism in ministerial free-lances are to be found in ‘Catholic parishes.’ This is inevitable. Those who believe they possess the Catholic priesthood and the Catholic episcopate are bound, by conditions of the Episcopalian system, to act as priests-at-random and bishops-at-large . . . . Congregational methods seemed … a travesty on the true work of Bishops and Priests in the Church of God, to illustrate the effort to ‘raise an altar on one’s own centre of gravity’ and to be ‘a little Holy Catholic Church, all by one’s self.’ I could never view every minority of one as an Athanasius, or feel that the one criterion of Catholic truth was that it should be held by only one person! I was never on of those Anglo-Catholics who can think of themselves each as Athanasius contra – Ecclesiam. Ego contra: ergo Athanasius!”
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Here is a nice color brochure to remind ou of this upcoming gathering.
...the issue goes beyond an interchange of views. What has happened is that TEC has demonstrated repeatedly an incapacity or unwillingness to deal with the views of the rest of the Communion with actual Christian responsibility. Such responsibility is assumed in council and by respecting the decisions of council.
TEC will do this on several bases: Communion councils have no legislative authority, she says, and therefore do not require adherence; majority votes by global South patriarchs are intrinsically undemocratic, and so should not be granted power; the Kingdom of God favors diverse viewpoints, and so uniform actions in the Communion are actually unfaithful. But the main reason TEC gives for not deferring to the decisions of the Communion’s representative bodies is that she is being “prophetic”, and therefore is being called by God quite precisely to oppose and subvert these decisions.
The self-given prophetic mantle is a claim that is difficult to argue against, by definition. But it is worth noting that the convenience of this difficulty is itself a major part of the problem in the Communion: TEC has adopted a self-identity that cannot be questioned and overturned, and thereby she has become impervious to all reason. This is not just a matter of style, as though the point is “let’s all tone down our rhetoric” – a suggestion one hears a good bit, as if talking more quietly would solve our problems. No: at issue here is that TEC has laid out a way of approaching disagreement that brooks no compromise, and therefore makes impossible constructive engagement altogether. On this matter, I commend a fine essay by Cathleen Kaveny in the recent volume Intractable Disputes about the Natural Law: Alisdair MacIntyre and his Critics (Notre Dame, 2009). Kaveny, hardly a right-wing shill, ably points out how reasoned moral discourse in America especially has been utterly eviscerated of common avenues of engagement largely because of “prophetic” commitments to ideological fixities that finally amount to self-blinding.
But there is more to this prophetic self-designation: its effect of moral intransigence is simply contrary to the specifically Christian vocation of deferring to the Body, a vocation that asks that we “not insist on our own way” (1 Cor. 13:5), and “count others as better than ourselves” (Philippians 2;3)....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
This is the third in a series of essays on the proposed Anglican Covenant.” The first, entitled “Communion, Order and Dissent,” attempted to present what might be called the inner logic of the covenant–a logic that rests upon a commitment by all the provinces to “mutual subjection within the body of Christ.” The second had the subtitle “On How To Dissent within a Communion of Churches.” Its purpose was to show that communion, as understood by Anglicans, must have as a part of its ideation an understanding of how to dissent from common belief and practice. Apart from such an understanding communion cannot survive the inevitable disagreements that arise within and between its member churches. This third essay explores ways to address dissent that serve to sustain communion even in the face of actions that plainly are at odds with Christian belief and practice as “recognized” within the Anglican Communion. If an agreed upon understanding of the nature of dissent is necessary to sustain and strengthen communion, so also is an agreed upon understanding of appropriate ways to address dissent. No matter how deep their divisions may be these are questions the Primates dare not ignore if the communion of Anglicans is to be sustained.
In the near term, however, it is a virtual certainty that they will address neither the question of dissent nor that of response to dissent. The Archbishop of Canterbury has invited the Primates to meet in Dublin, but he has done so in a way that guarantees that no significant business will be done. By inviting the Primate of a Church that has acted against the request of all the Instruments of Communion he has called for a meeting a significant number of Primates feel they in good conscience cannot attend. In view of these circumstances, there seems no good reason to call such a meeting. What of any possible value can be achieved?
A primary Instrument of Communion appears to have reached an impasse. The Communion’s mechanisms for sustaining communion have become dysfunctional. A part of the reason for this sad state of affairs is what the Bible calls “hardness of heart.” A part, however, stems from a lack of understanding of how to dissent and how to respond to dissent within a communion of churches.
This essay addresses the question of response to dissent....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
In short when communion is not sustained by a central juridical authority but by mutual recognition and submission within the body of Christ, there must be a means of dissent that coheres with these formative commitments. There must also be a means of addressing dissent that retains communion between a dissenting province and the Communion as a whole. Ecclesial disobedience as set forth above provides both an instrument of dissent and a response that prevents communion from lapsing into constantly dividing segments.
How are mutually recognized forms of belief, practice and worship to be sustained within a communion that does not have and does not want a centralized juridical structure? Given Anglicanism’s commitment to locally adapted expression of Christian belief and practice, in a world of competing nationalisms a covenant based upon mutual recognition and mutual subjection within the body of Christ is the only way I see to achieve this goal. Nevertheless, a shared understanding of dissent within a covenant relation must be part of the way in which the Communion sustains its common life. Apart from such an understanding, those who dissent will have no wisdom about the proper way to express their dissent, the Instruments and provinces of the Communion will have no wisdom about how to respond, and the Communion as a whole will inevitably devolve into a federation or (worse) a host of fragments that once formed a remarkable example of catholic Christianity.
To return to the beginning of this essay, the Archbishop of Canterbury, TEC’s Presiding Bishop, the ACO and the Primates will all be involved in the upcoming meeting in Ireland. Whether they admit to it or not, the question of dissent within a communion of churches will rest just under the surface of all their conversations. One can only hope and pray that the issue raised in this essay, the nature of ecclesiastical dissent, will rise to the surface of their conversations and receive the sort of attention that will allow the Anglican Communion to retain its identity, its unity and its integrity.
More concretely, the issue is this. What steps can the Primates take when they meet to bring the question of dissent out in the open where it belongs? There is an answer to this question, and it involves all the players that will come to Dublin. First, because it is the Archbishop of Canterbury who “gathers” the Primates and because his office is the primary locus of moral authority within the communion, the answer begins with him. He has authority to set the agenda for the Primates Meeting, and he should announce publically that the issue of TEC’s dissent from the moral authority of the Instruments is on the agenda. Further, if as is rumored, the Presiding Bishop has refused a request voluntarily to withdraw, the Archbishop should employ his authority to gather and withdraw her invitation....
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The danger in the current situation is that arguments over the details of the covenant text or how the covenant might be used are distracting us from central theological and ecclesiological questions which lie at the heart of the vision of our life together articulated in the covenant. Those rejecting the covenant have not, in their critiques, set out any credible theological and practical alternative either of a vision of our life as a fellowship of churches or of what we should do now given the reality of our fractured but still much treasured communion. Indeed, Jonathan Clatworthy claims ‘Those who oppose a change do not normally feel obliged to propose a different change’ while Chris Sugden and Vinay Samuel simply claim we need ‘to recognise the role that the Jerusalem Declaration could play’. More seriously, although never clearly articulated or justified, behind their critiques are understandings on some key theological areas addressed by the covenant which are seriously flawed.
Jonathan Clatworthy ends his response by claiming that recent controversies and ethical and theological disagreement ‘should be resolved by patient, informed ethical and theological dialogue, not by ecclesiastical power politics and threats of exclusion’. That will require scrutiny not only of the covenant but of the arguments and alternatives of those rejecting it from polar opposite and incompatible perspectives. We need to hear and weigh not just the criticisms of the proposed covenant but the alternative proposals of those who are currently challenging the covenant’s way forward.
The only way to allow the Church of England – and perhaps the wider Communion - to engage in ‘patient, informed ethical and theological dialogue’ about this crucial issue is to vote for the motion in Synod. This makes no binding commitment but allows diocesan synods and ongoing debate in other arenas to inform Synod’s final decision in 2012. To vote against or to abstain suddenly puts into reverse the general support given to the Windsor and covenant processes by the Church of England and its General Synod and makes the Archbishop of Canterbury’s already difficult calling well-nigh impossible. Anything but a ‘yes’ vote is, in short, to engage in ‘ecclesiastical power politics’ and, far from being inclusive, excludes much of the church from further informed discussion and discernment about how we should live together in future.
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One can see the same dynamic at work in the advertisement “Who runs the Church?” composed by members of Inclusive Church and Modern Church. The implicit (and occasionally explicit) vision of the authors is of a church in which “Anglicans have traditionally valued the role of reason and thus expect to learn from other people.” It is a vision of a non-dogmatic church that is forward-looking, devoted to debating matters at a local level, and eager to learn from others. Their cry, if you will, is that “Anglicanism is not dogmatic” and that “Anglicans have never accepted the primacy of Scripture in a Puritanical manner.”
This delightfully gentle vision of Anglicanism suffers from only one flaw: it has very little basis in reality. While liberal Anglicanism has long sought a utopian church that is non-dogmatic about everything but the dogmas of tolerance, non-dogmatism, and social justice, this has never been a position that has laid claim to more than a minority among Anglicans. To the contrary, even the most cursory reading of Anglican history will show that we have a long and notable history of being dogmatic, intolerant, occasionally authoritarian, and gleefully happy to impose a particular interpretation of Scripture on others. I suspect that the Roman Catholics burned at the stake, the Puritans whose ears were lopped off, the Non-Conformists who were fined for not attending their parish church, the evangelicals who were attacked for their “enthusiasm,” the Ritualists who were put on trial or (worse) tarred-and-feathered, or the so-called conservatives and liberals of today who feel threatened by their church would question just how tolerant and non-dogmatic Anglicanism actually is. In reality, Anglicanism is a bit like those late medieval knights who imagined themselves to be noble and chivalric even as they raided and pillaged defenseless towns and villages. At times we’re a little too willing to believe our own smug press.
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The most obvious disagreement is whether provinces will be subordinated to the international authorities and threatened with punishment if they do not obey. We wrote that the Covenant
was first proposed by the Windsor Report in 2004 to put pressure on the North American churches, after a diocese in the USA had elected an openly gay bishop and a diocese in Canada had approved a same-sex blessing service. Opponents had no legal way to expel the North Americans, so the Covenant is designed to achieve the same result by redefining the Anglican Communion to exclude them.
Goddard considers this a 'highly implausible spin'. He does not explain why, but he does reply:
In fact, the Windsor Report's stated aim was that a covenant 'would make explicit and forceful the loyalty and bonds of affection which govern the relationships between the churches of the Communion' (para 118).
Our point exactly! How one can force people to be loyal and affectionate has been one of the great puzzles of the project; clearly any talk of force is obviously meaningless without some kind of punishment.
Later, repeating the denial of any subordination or punishment, Goddard describes how the current text was established:
In fact, the Windsor Report's stated aim was that a covenant 'would make explicit and forceful the loyalty and bonds of affection which govern the relationships between the churches of the Communion' (para 118).
Our point exactly! How one can force people to be loyal and affectionate has been one of the great puzzles of the project; clearly any talk of force is obviously meaningless without some kind of punishment.
Later, repeating the denial of any subordination or punishment, Goddard describes how the current text was established:
There was substantial resistance to the idea that there should be any development of a body which could be seen to be exercising universal jurisdiction in Anglican polity. Anglicans wished to keep the autonomy of their Churches. Secondly, it became clear that the processes of adoption of the Covenant would be immensely complicated if the Covenant were seen to interfere with or to necessitate a change to the Constitution and Canons of any Province... Section Four of the RCD is therefore constructed on the fundamental principle of the constitutional autonomy of each Church.
This too accords with our argument: the reason why the Covenant restricts its punitive proposals to the relationships between provinces is that legally it cannot do more.
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The GAFCON statement notes a third sad fact about the Anglican Communion today:
The third fact is the manifest failure of the Communion Instruments to exercise discipline in the face of overt heterodoxy. The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, in proclaiming this false gospel, have consistently defied the 1998 Lambeth statement of biblical moral principle (Resolution 1.10). Despite numerous meetings and reports to and from the ‘Instruments of Unity,’ no effective action has been taken, and the bishops of these unrepentant churches are welcomed to Lambeth 2008. To make matters worse, there has been a failure to honour promises of discipline, the authority of the Primates’ Meeting has been undermined and the Lambeth Conference has been structured so as to avoid any hard decisions. We can only come to the devastating conclusion that ‘we are a global Communion with a colonial structure’.
This third fact is also in line with the observation of Metropolitan Hilarion that the source of false teaching and lax discipline in the Communion has its origins in the “North and the West,” that is to say, in Canterbury’s own jurisdiction. I have noted elsewhere that the “Instruments of Unity” as currently constituted are under the sway of the “Lambeth bureaucracy,” and hence the ecumenical failure of Anglicanism can only be laid at the door of Canterbury himself. This tough fact is exactly what Hilarion has brought to the banquet table at Lambeth Palace.
So GAFCON and the Orthodox share the sober critique of contemporary Anglicanism. It would be facile to say that today’s Anglican confessors are of one mind with the Orthodox. Surely there are issues of substance and ongoing discussion between the two.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Archbishop of Canterbury Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Orthodox Church * Theology Ecclesiology
A proper reading of the covenant shows it is, on this account, indisputably Anglican and inclusive of all these components of our Anglican heritage accepting that ‘each of these has a place in the church’s life’.
The critique of IC and MCU distorts this by unfairly and unreasonably painting the covenant as simply a mixture of two concerns pushed to their extremes: ‘strict evangelical Protestantism’ (the neo-Puritan method) and ‘Roman Catholicism’ (more centralised and clerical, subordination to an international body). In doing so, they show no awareness of the many elements of the covenant reflecting their own emphases and its overall nuance and balance. Even more worrying is their apparent blindness to the dangers in their own tendency of ‘de-emphasising revelation and history’. In fact, in the substance and tone of their campaign, they demonstrate that they have become ‘enthusiasts’ for an isolated ‘religious liberalism’ who have little regard for – or even fundamentally reject – any ‘limits on the degree of adjustment to the culture and its habits’.
In summary, their response to the covenant reveals that they are far from being the authentic voice of Anglicanism or the Church of England. Instead, they are at risk of seeking to remake the Communion in their own particular Western liberal image and thus make it captive to what Oliver O’Donovan described as The failure of the liberal paradigm in his first Fulcrum sermon on subjects of the day (now published by SCM as A Conversation Waiting to Begin). At root, their ill-informed polemic suggests that ultimately they cannot accept that their own tradition in Anglicanism must – like evangelical and catholic perspectives – also learn ‘to live with certain tensions or even sacrifices’ if it is to be truly Anglican. As a result, they rail against a covenant one of whose main strengths is precisely that it prevents any one part of Anglicanism from heading where they sadly risk heading - ‘in a direction ultimately outside historic Anglicanism’.
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This is the topic for the 2011 Mere Anglicanism Conference in Charleston, South Carolina in January.
Consider coming and make plans now.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * South Carolina * Theology Pastoral Theology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
So, who wants an Anglican covenant? For some reason it is never acknowledged that the only province to sign up so far is Mexico, whose primate is a Patron of Inclusive Church (the other province close to signing is that well-known neo-Puritan African province, South Africa). He perhaps wants it for the same reasons many others have welcomed it.
The covenant will, for example, force the Church of England to stop thinking of itself simply as, in the words of the advertisement, ‘the mother church of the Communion’ whose actions are so important that on its own it can prevent developments such as the covenant. It will create a more egalitarian and post-colonial international fellowship of churches affirming not simply an English 'mother church' but a common inheritance of faith and shared vision of life together “in communion with autonomy and accountability” (3.1.2). That will then shape their commitments, including mutual accountability, to one another and to a pattern of life marked by such virtues as spending time "with openness and patience in matters of theological debate and reflection, to listen, pray and study with one another in order to discern the will of God" (3.2.3).
Above all, the covenant will hopefully help refocus the Church of England and all covenanting churches on mission. That mission is not, as in the advert, defined by whether or not some outside the church are ‘put off by the Church’s apparent reluctance to change’. It is rather ‘God’s call to undertake evangelisation’ and ‘share in the healing and reconciling mission’ of God in Christ ‘"for our blessed but broken, hurting and fallen world"’ (2.2.1).
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Covenant Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Instruments of Unity Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
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