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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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....in the current litigation in South Carolina, the drive by ECUSA's team to move the ball into federal court has been blocked at every maneuver. They are stuck back on their own 10-yard line, with just a few dozen seconds left on the clock. (The case in South Carolina's Court of Common Pleas for the County of Dorchester is due to go to trial early next summer; all discovery in the case has to be completed by February 7.)
And so what do they decide to do?
The defendant rump group (but not yet ECUSA itself) throws a "Hail Mary" pass -- a motion to add, at this late date, four new defendants and eighteen new claims against those defendants, who are Bishop Mark Lawrence, James Lewis, Jeffrey Miller and Paul Fuener. The Rev. James Lewis serves as Bishop Lawrence's Canon to the Ordinary and Executive Secretary to the Diocesan Convention; the Revs. Miller and Fuener have both served as President of the Standing Committee of Mark Lawrence's Episcopal Diocese.
The very first claim the rump group seeks to assert demonstrates the flaw in the entire motion: it is a claim for alleged breach of "fiduciary duty."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Yes, on the site of the Diocese of Chicago and those that reprint its press release, you will read a headline such as: "Episcopal Diocese of Chicago and Episcopal Church File Suit in Peoria", but not at this blog. Here we call them as we see them -- and this latest lawsuit is simply an outrageous attempt to bludgeon the already cash-starved Anglican Diocese of Quincy and its member parishes and missions into submission. Worse, it comes right after the Anglican Diocese prevailed at trial over ECUSA on many of the same issues raised in this new lawsuit.
Take a look at the complaint as filed. The lies in the plaintiffs' press release are evident from the very caption at the start of the complaint. They claim to be suing "to clarify the legal status of the parishes and missions whose leaders left the Episcopal Church in 2008," yet have they named those parishes? No, they have not: instead, in typical blunderbuss fashion, they are going after the individual rectors of those parishes, as well as Bishop Morales and the members of the Diocese's standing committee and corporate board (whom they personally sued in the case they already lost).
Another lie in the press release (emphasis added): "Among the assets are the properties of St. George's Episcopal Church in Macomb, Grace Episcopal Church in Galesburg, Trinity Episcopal Church in Rock Island and Christ Episcopal Church in Moline." That last church, however, is not mentioned in the complaint; nor is its its rector (whom, again, they sued in the suit they lost, but in his capacity as a trustee and member of the Standing Committee).
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Quincy * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues
...the Communique reaffirms the understanding from 2008 that GAFCON is “not a moment in time but a movement of the Spirit.” This phrase is not flight of rhetoric but a claim that GFCA is among other things a God-ordained “ecclesial” entity. Secondly, the Conference identifies itself as an “instrument of Communion” called into being because of the failure of other Instruments of Communion. I suppose some will take this claim as an open rebuke of the existing organs of the Lambeth bureaucracy. It is that, and my essays on Communion governance stand as testimony as to why such a rebuke is justified. But it is more than that: it is a positive declaration that the GFCA plans to be a vehicle of God’s grace to reform and revitalize the Anglican Communion.
Some may ask by what right the GFCA appoints itself an instrument. In an early draft, the Statement Committee proposed saying that “we are conscious that we have become an instrument of Communion.” I think that wording is revealing, even if the final form moves consciousness into conviction. What I mean is that the GAFCON movement did not start out intentionally to overturn existing authorities but rather over a period of fifteen years came to realize that no other option was workable and that God had indeed formed new bonds of affection among its members during the times of trial.
So is the GFCA laying the groundwork for a separate Communion? Absolutely not! At the first GAFCON virtually all the delegates were adamant that they were not leaving the Anglican Communion, because “we are the Anglican Communion!” Some may think this is verbal trickery. It is not. There is nothing sacrosanct about the so-called Instruments of Communion. To be sure, the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lambeth Conference carry the weight of almost 150 years’ continuance. However, for good or ill, Archbishop Longley refused to grant the first Lambeth Conference ecclesial authority as a council and by so doing he built in a weakness that has been a major reason for the recent crisis. During the past decade, whenever the Primates proposed more authoritative action – e.g., “To Mend the Net” proposal or the Dar es Salaam Communique – Canterbury squelched the attempt.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams Anglican Primates Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007 Global South Churches & Primates GACON II 2013 Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
This brings me to the... more profound... reason for my support of Judge Ortbal’s reasoning: at the root of TEC’s fracture lies our General Convention’s failure to engage our church’s own identity, an identity rooted in the deeper character of unitive mission that ought to inform our life. In brief, the Church’s unity is given in her “apostolicity”, her apostolic mission. When the latter is subverted, unity disintegrates, and this is what we have seen happen in TEC. The result is not a “good” – I continue to believe that the disassociation of dioceses like Quincy, Fort Worth, South Carolina, and San Joaquin constitutes a failure of the Christian life. But the reversion to diocesan “independence” represents the almost natural reassertion of the will to apostolicity that one would expect in a situation of profound ecclesial dysfunction. And that reversion has something to teach us.
The polity question has to do with General Convention in this case. Dioceses, at least in theory, joined the Convention because such joining represented the furtherance of the apostolic ministry of the Church. They have disassociated themselves when that ministry was being impeded by General Convention. Part of the demanded reconsideration of our common life has to do with figuring out why this has been the case, and on what basis.
Read it all.
It appears that the default position of the communion in the past decade was to assert that what we hold in common is an adequate basis for unity in the communion. What we hold in common tended to get reduced to our “historic bonds of affection”. Everything else was contested.
Such an attitude to unity ignored the centrality of the identity discussion of the communion. When it did deal with the identity issue it drove a wedge between the local and universal and between diversity and unity. It privileged the local and diversity over the universal and unity.
A global/universal communion of churches has two key features: identity and unity. Identity is integrally connected to unity. It is the undermining of the integrity of the identity of the Anglican Communion that produced fragmentation and brokenness we see today in the Communion. The four instruments of unity that were expected to deal with the breakdown of unity in the communion, have failed in the opinion of both Anglican leaders and commentators.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Identity Global South Churches & Primates GACON II 2013 Instruments of Unity * Theology Ecclesiology Theology: Scripture
This talk generated a lot of "buzz" on the #GAFCON2013 Twitter feed yesterday. Highly recommended!!
The Grace of God OR the world of the West?
The Rev Dr Michael Ovey, Principal of Oak Hill College, London, England
Day 2, Oct 22nd GAFCON 2013
My first really significant encounter with worldwide Anglicanism came at theological college. It was 1990 and an east African priest was on secondment with us. He preached in the college chapel. He posed a question. Which gospel, he asked, which gospel do you westerners want us to believe? The one you came with or the one you preach now? Which gospel? I was horrified, not because what he said was not true. I was horrified because it was true.
My east African brother`s question has nagged away at me ever since. But how has it come about that we have a different gospel now from the one we first preached. What is this difference between what we westerners say now and what we said then?
I think the difference is nothing less than the grace of God and what we mean by it. The difference comes from the way that western culture and the western church deny or distort God`s grace. The modern west, in both culture and church, is, overall, graceless, and has become so because of its worldliness. That is why I have called this plenary talk the grace of God or the world of the west. Ultimately you cannot have both. It is either/or. My prayer is that as global Anglicans we choose grace, not the world of the west. For those of us who have tried to have grace and the world, I pray for our repentance. My fear is as global Anglicans we will try to have grace AND the world, and that God justly hands us over to the consequences of our sin in rejecting his grace as it truly is and builds his kingdom through others.
But I must now explain why grace is at stake, why the culture of the west denies grace and how the western church distorts grace.
2. Why is Grace at stake?
Let me begin with grace
On first hearing you may well be thinking that I am simply crazy. People in the western church still talk about grace. They talk about it a lot. If anything the charge is that traditional believers like me lack grace. So what am I getting at? It’s this. It`s not enough just to say the word `grace` a lot. The issue is what we mean by it, and whether we mean what the bible means or whether we have made up our own meaning for ourselves.
2.1. Cheap Grace?
Now the kind of grace that I think the western church talks about, and come to that western culture when it thinks about grace at all is this: cheap grace. Cheap grace. I am borrowing from the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He says this. 'ʹCheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate'ʹ1
We especially need to note three points.
• This grace is worldly. Bonhoeffer means that it conforms to the patterns of the world, is no different from the world and listens to the world.2 Crucial. Bonhoeffer was warning us about mixing Christian grace with the world’s idea of grace, and at worst substituting the world`s view of grace for the Christian view. For Bonhoeffer, who was writing in the 1930s, that influence from the world came from the tragic infatuation of some German Christians with Nazism. The precise kind of worldliness may be different now from Nazism then. I`m not saying that modern western culture and the modern western church is pro-‐‑Nazi. I am saying it is pro-‐‑world, just as, in their different way, Nazi Christians tried to be.
This worldliness is at the heart of Bonhoeffer’s criticism. He is echoing the Barmen declaration of 1934, when German Confessing Christians rejected the idea that Christ’s people should listen to any other voice claiming to stand on a par with his. The Barmen declaration comes back to that time and again: the imperative that Christ’s people listen to him the good Shepherd and not to any competing voice. It is Christ alone, not Christ and something else…. Whether the something else is Nazism or liberal democracy or an understandable pride in establishing oneself as an independent country. But what does this cheap grace that conforms to the world look like? Bonhoeffer points especially to 2 things that mark out cheap grace from real grace.
• This grace is repentanceless
• This is a grace we bestow on ourselves, in other words, it is a grace we give each other when we see fit, rather than according to the pattern of God
We need to look at both aspects, the lack of repentance and bestowing grace on ourselves.
Read it all (PDF File)
First, I am an Anglican because it is biblical. I appreciate the great authority that Anglicanism gives to Scripture. Article 6 of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion states that the Bible is the ultimate and final authority in all matters of faith, and nothing should be taught as doctrine or necessary for salvation that is not clearly taught in Scripture. Moreover, I believe that Anglicanism rightly places Scripture at the very center of all its ministries (e.g., liturgy), devotion (e.g., Book of Common Prayer), and foundational documents. It wants to immerse God's people in the Scriptures.
Second, I am an Anglican because it is historical. I appreciate Anglicanism's respect for the history and tradition of the Church. While its official conception took place in the mid-16th century, it still identifies itself with the catholic Church of the centuries prior to the Reformation. It seeks unity with the historic Church. As such, it receives and affirms the Apostle's, Nicene, and Athanasian creeds as authoritative summaries of what Scripture teaches and what the Church believes. Also, it follows the traditional church calendar and draws wisdom from many of the great theologians of the past (e.g., Article 29 mentions Saint Augustine).Read it all.
What might Anglicans make of these conclusions? Cape Town is in the main consistent with a serious, plain-sense reading of The Catechism of the 1979 prayer book. Our evangelical neighbors show us not the face of “the Other” but rather that of our own forgotten selves. If to some readers Cape Town seems distant, it will be because of our own estrangement or amnesia. Traditional believers within Anglicanism, be they Catholic or evangelical, are not some outdated rump but rather the enfleshed memory of normative, ecumenical, global Christianity.
Here the question of what Cape Town is saying “No” to returns. What makes Cape Town appealing is its address of Christian practice as well as belief. It consciously compares itself to Pauline epistles, which move from proclamation (kerygma) to moral exhortation (paraenesis). Talking the talk must move on quickly to walking the walk. And on this score Cape Town does not let evangelicals off the hook. They have not always proclaimed the whole gospel, nor have they reined in their own leaders, nor consistently addressed the pressing social issues of their day. While the doctrinal part of Cape Town aims at the perennial, the ethical section seeks after pertinence to today’s context.
Here too is a message crucial for Anglicans to hear. Cape Town’s call to action asks: How are we addressing dramatic urbanization and constant migration on the global scene? How are we catechizing our young? How can be minister with honesty and charity to the postmodern era’s commodified and disordered sexuality? Has our theological education retained a heart for evangelism?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Soteriology Theology: Evangelism & Mission Theology: Scripture
Please bow your heads and let us begin as we should always begin, in prayer.
Heavenly Father and Gracious God remind us of who you are and of whose we are and of the message that you have entrusted to us. We are gathered for such a time as this and we need to be recentered, we need to be refocused, we need to have our call furthered clarified, and so Lord we need a word from you. Gracious God take my lips and speak through them, take our minds and think through them, take our wills and mold them and shape them according to your purposes. And take our hearts and set them on fire with love for your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
In the stories General Eisenhower used to tell about his associates in the military and the government, he had one favorite above all the others. He indulged in it frequently at the expense of one of his chief aides, whose name was named George Allen. George Allen had the distinct misfortune, the dubious distinction of having played in the record-setting football game with the most lopsided score of all time. The score was 222 to 0. It was a game between Georgia Tech and Cumberland played in the 1916 season. And, yes you guessed it; George Allen played quarter back on the losing side. After about three quarters of the game, when the score had begun to mount into the hundreds and the team was dramatically demoralized, there came an amazing moment, in one of the few plays where Cumberland actually had the ball, when the ball was snapped back to Allen and he missed it and fumbled the ball. The opposing linemen came charging in, and suddenly the ball was trickling around the backfield and B. F. “Bird’ Paty, who later became a prominent attorney, was looking at the ball and he looked up past the ball and there was Allen, who was shouting, “Pick it up! Pick it up!” And Paty looked at the ball, and looked at Allen and then he looked at the charging linemen and he looked back at Allen and said, “You pick it up! You dropped it!”
My dear brothers and sisters I want to begin this afternoon by being so bold as to say that we have dropped the ball. I believe as passionately as I know how to state that we live in a time and a church under judgment. The book you need to center yourself on brothers and sisters is the book of Jeremiah, and the theme of judgment hardly ever mentioned in the contemporary western church when it is unfolded in the midst of God’s working with his people you see it quickly doing three things: It does cutting, it hurts and we heard abundant evidence of that today. Secondly it sets out confusion, tremendous confusion. Read and think about the book of Jeremiah sometime and think about how confusing it was for the people on the ground. Do I listen to Jeremiah or do I listen to Hananiah? Do I stay in Jerusalem or do I go to Babylon. Maybe I ought to think about going to Egypt. It becomes so confusing for Jeremiah himself at one point in Jeremiah 20 that he doesn’t even know to his own instincts and he almost internally self-destructs. But my dear brothers and sisters, a time of judgment is not only a time of cutting, though it is that, it is not only a time of confusion, though it is that, it is also a time of clarification.
And so the purpose of this talk this afternoon for just a few moments is to center us in our common faith and mission as we begin this 48-hour journey together. One of the things I delight in saying about my hero CS Lewis is that he had an instinct for the center. He knew how to distinguish between penultimate things and ultimate things and I need to say something to us as orthodox Anglicans. My dear brothers and sisters, we’ve not always done as well in making that distinction as we need to. We’ve got to learn to give those things that, even if they are precious to us, if they are not the ultimate things. We’ve got to recover an instinct for the center of whom we are, and the center of the message we are called to proclaim. Are you all with me?
So let’s think about Anglican essentials this afternoon. What is the center of who we are?
Number 1. All my points begin with the letter C, that is to help me in case I lose my place.
The first C is catholic; we are catholic, small C. What, Kendall Harmon was forced to think very deeply, what in its essence does it mean to be a catholic Christian, because that, I believe, is what we are.
It means first of all that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. It means there is such a thing, to use Thomas Oden’s wonderful phrase, as a history of the Holy Spirit. So that when I did my doctorate at Oxford in the early 1990s and I studied the whole history of western Christian eschatology there came a moment when I confronted Augustine for the first time in earnest since college and I read the whole City of God and I sat there at Latimer House in Oxford with my pitiful little heater in the freezing cold temperatures, and I wept. Because I realized the Augustine had simply leveled every single book I had read in the last ten years, in the first three chapters. No wonder CS Lewis said he read three old books for every new one. At the end of City of God Augustine says, speaking of heaven, these wonderful words:
“There we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise. This is what shall be in the end without end.” Did you get that? “There we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise.” Do you know that is the finest summary in the smallest amount of words of heaven I have found anywhere? We have to drink deeply from the tradition that has been handed on to us, and unapologetically.
Sunday is the 300th anniversary of the birthday of Jonathan Edwards so permit a word about the man who is called America’s theologian.
George Marsden, who is the finest church historian in my estimation writing right now, has just released a brand new book on Jonathan Edwards called Jonathan Edwards: A Life (Yale University Press).
And writing about Edwards and his theology he says this:
“It is precisely because of the 20th century’s experience of human horror that Jonathan Edwards’ thinking on hell (yes you heard me use that word) cannot be so easily dismissed. Marsden goes on, Edwards believed (listen carefully to these words) that each person is “by nature incredibly short-sighted, self-absorbed, and blinded by pride.” Only a traumatic jolt could burst the bonds of self-absorption. Therefore the verbal violence of hellfire and damnation “was a gift of God to awaken people who were blindly sleepwalking to their doom.”
Interesting themes, heaven and hell, Augustine and Jonathan Edwards, we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. That is part of what it means to be a catholic. But there is more.
Second part of being catholic, it seems to me, is to believe in order. I found myself thinking about that simple gesture that happens in so many courtrooms. Order in court.
It seems to me what catholics are constantly saying to the church is “Order in the church, order in our worship, for crying out loud.” You ought to be able to follow the service. CS Lewis has a wonderful essay were he describes how the priests are always messing with the service and there is no structure that is predictable so that the liturgy can be vehicle instead of an obstacle to worship. Order in worship is important. It is amazing to me, thinking particularly about General Convention but also the general life of the Episcopal Church that since Thomas Cranmer gave us the Book of Common Prayer we have almost gone completely full circle and we are back to the very liturgical situation that he set out to reform namely there were too many liturgies running around and there wasn’t any order so he wrote a bookof COMMON PRAYER.
And yes order in the church so there is a certain way that we go about our business: bishops, priests, deacons, vestries, canons, there is a way that God set up the church.
And most importantly in our time order in the way we make decisions. Which means that to be a catholic Christian means that the more important the decision the more widely you consult, more people need to be involved, themore important the international leadership is involved. Hello, that is what is means to be a catholic Christian.
Finally to be a catholic doesn’t just mean those seven sacraments or seven sacramental acts or however you want to delineate them. It means more than that. To be a catholic means to think sacramentally. I found myself going back to that wonderful minor classic of Harry Blamires The Christian Mind. Listen to this summary that he gives of what it means to be Christian.
“The Christian mind thinks sacramentally. The Christian Faith presents a sacramental view of life. It shows life’s positive richness as derivative from the supernatural. It teaches us that to create beauty or to experience beauty, to recognize truth or to discover truth, to receive love or to give love, is to come in contact with realities that express the Divine Nature. At a time when Christianity is so widely misrepresented as life rejecting rather than life affirming [does that sound familiar to anyone?], it is urgently necessary to right the balance. In denouncing excesses of sensuality, Christians are apt to give the impression that their religion rejects the physical and would tame the enterprising pursuit of vital experience.”
And we don’t do it. There I was watching the opening sequence of The West Wing where President of the United States, Jeb Bartlett, has his daughter gone and kidnapped. He is in massive crisis. And what does this secular program do with a country and a president in crisis but it ends the first show of this season with the President of the United States with his hands open and a priest placing a wafer in those hands. Because he needed to have a sense of contact with the supernatural.
That is part of what it means to be a catholic Christian. Ya’ll with me? Stand on the shoulders of those who came before, a sense of order in the church and to think sacramentally.
I want everybody here who defines themselves as an Anglo-Catholic to please stand up. God bless you all.
That’s right, you heard it hear first, charismatic.
I had the distinct fortune of having my roommate in college be a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Darien Conn. And believe it or not, we used to drive from Bowdoin College five hours one way and go to two Sunday morning worship services and the Sunday night worship service and then drive all the way back to Maine. And the one thing about that parish that I remember above all others was that when you walked in people were there to worship God for whom He was in the beauty of holiness and it was astounding to see people do that. And that is my image of what the church should be.
Worth-ship is what the word means. To give God the worth He is due for the glory of who He is. I find myself thinking of that interesting play “Equus.” That interesting play “Equus where Anthony Perkins played Martin Dysart the doctor in the Broadway version when it first came out. The story of a boy who has a bizarre form of mental disturbance where he is obsessed with horses and this secular psychologist named Martin Dysart who is working like crazy with the boy who does nothing but talk about and dream about horses reaches this amazing moment in his life where he actually begins to envy the boy even though he is profoundly aware that the boy is deeply disturbed. Because Martin Dysart the secular psychologist, realizes that the boy has something outside of himself that is beckoning him and that he has to bow down to and Martin Dysart the secular psychologist has nothing.
In an amazing moment he says in a soliloquy on the stage, “Without worship we shrink!”
And that is part of the message of the charismatic movement to the contemporary church. Worship, brothers and sisters, is a priority. To meet God for who He is.
More than just worship from the charismatic movement. Power.
If I learned anything from three-hundred-plus Terry Fullum tapes in the early 1980s I learned that Holy Spirit was the power of God to be unleashed on His people and in His world. So that in the early 1980’s when Mount St. Helens in the Cascade Range of Washington exploded with what is probably the most visible indication of something called natural power that many of us in the modern world has ever seen. At 8.32 a.m. the explosion ripped 1,300 feet off the mountain, with a force of ten million tons of TNT, or roughly equal to five hundred Hiroshimas. Sixty people were killed, most by a blast of 300-degree heat traveling at two hundred miles an hour. Some were killed as far as sixteen miles away from the original blast. The blast also leveled those incredible 150-foot Douglas firs, as far as seventeen miles away. A total of 3.2 billion board feet of lumber were destroyed in that explosion, enough lumber to build 200,000 three-bedroom homes. That’s natural power. And what the charismatic movement importantly reminds us that we need to center ourselves in this afternoon is that the power of God that resurrected His Son Jesus Christ which is far more potent than Mount St. Helens and far more powerful is the power that rests in each one of us and in His church. Do you believe that with me?
Just one quick story about the power of the Holy Spirit of all places at General Convention. Thank you for praying for us, thank you for praying for me. It was the case that the Spirit was working and certainly one of the low points was the night of August 5th when the vote came down and I was a complete mess in many many ways and very upset not least because the bishops went overtime and so the bishops were in session after the House of Deputies were no longer in session and I was commissioned to read a speech in the House of Deputies as Bob Duncan was going to read a speech in the House of Bishops repudiating the action but since the bishops went overtime the bishops made their statement but in deputies I didn’t make my statement and I was not pleased about this. I said, “Lord, what are you doing? We worked on the statement, this isn’t working out.” And I had to make the statement the next day. You know what Jesus says in John 3 about the Holy Spirit. He says the Holy Spirit blows where He wills.
And so we were trying to figure out when Gene Robinson on Wednesday was going to be introduced. And John Guernsey and I are standing there at the computer and Jim Simons calls and says he is going to be introduced right as the session begins. So we work like crazy on the statement. Then Jim Simons calls right back and says no he isn’t going to be introduced so we slow down our pace and then he calls back and says yes he is going to be introduced. And we start changing our pace again. And then he calls back and says no he’s not and then finally one more change and yes he is! And so Guernsey changes it for the 400 thousandth time in the computer and I literally rip the page off the printer and I run across the street to get in there and sure enough Gene Robinson is introduced, and I have to read the statement. The whole time this has been happening I have been praying the night before and that morning and I had one overriding impression that was bothering my spirit very deeply. The overriding impression, brothers and sisters, was this, when we had the debate in deputies on same-sex unions and on the confirmation of Gene Robinson, and you need to hear this, no one, not a single person who argued for the change and the innovation brought into the debate a perspective of those beyond our shores.
And so there I was with my prepared text and I thought, what the hay, the Spirit blows where He wills, and so I spoke from the heart and I inserted a section in the speech that wasn’t in the text. I could just imagine Guernsey’s response in the back. The Enforcer [nickname for John Guernsey] was not happy. But the Holy Spirit had other plans. I spoke this point into the microphone and then sat down. And one person from Texas stood up and then the next thing that happened was one of the really amazing moments in Minneapolis for me personally. We had a deputy stand up from Honduras and he stood up with a translator and very slowly, because each phrase had to be translated, with this wonderful cadence he said, “I am a servant of God, in Honduras, and I am charge of 52 missions, and because of what this convention has done my entire ministry has been [and I quote him directly] has been washed down the drain.” And it was as if he confirmed exactly the point I made, only it wasn’t in my speech. The Holy Spirit did one of those things that the Holy Spirit is so good at doing. Do you believe that the Holy Spirit blows where He wills in your lives right now? That’s what it means to be a charismatic Christian.
First, catholic. Second, charismatic. Third, canonical.
All right, I should have said evangelical but it had to start with a “c”. You knew it was going to come to the Bible eventually.
I do need to say a few things about the Bible although I know that John Yates is going to say a whole lot more. My dear brothers and sisters, I am so proud this afternoon to say to you that we are people who be lieve in theauthority of the Bible.
I can do no better this afternoon than to quote to you the 1958 Lambeth Conference statement which I believe every Anglican needs to memorize, that’s how important I think it is. Listen to what the 1958 Lambeth Conferencesaid about the Holy Scriptures:
“The Church [they wrote] is not ‘over’ the Holy Scriptures, but ‘under’ them, in the sense that the process of canonization was not one whereby the Church conferred authority on the books but one whereby the Church acknowledged them to possess authority. And why? The books were recognized as giving the witness of the Apostles to the life, teaching, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and the interpretation by the Apostles of these events.” [Listen to this last phrase.] “To that apostolic authority the Church must ever bow.”
Now I need to say to you that the authority of the Bible needs to be understood by us a Christians as personal authority. It is a certain kind of authority. It is an authority that is personal, and I can’t do better than one of my heroes, Austin Farrer, who was the warden of Keble College in Oxford where I had a chance to study. He’s given the perfect illustration of what it means for every Christian every day to pick up the Bible. What’s supposed to be in my mind when I hear a sermon from this document, when I hear an adult education class on this document or when I read this document? What am I supposed to think that I’m doing? Listen to what Austin Farrer says:
“What is the bible like? Like a letter which a soldier wrote to his wife about the disposition of his affairs and the care of his children in case he should chance to be killed. And the next day he was shot, and died, and the letter was torn and stained with his blood. Her friends said to the woman: the letter is of no binding force; it is not a legal will, and it is so injured by the facts of the writers own death that you cannot ever prove what it means. But the lady said: I know the man, and I am satisfied I can see what he means. And I shall do it because it is what he wanted me to do, and because he died the next day.”
That’s what it means to read the Bible. It means to read a personal letter from God stained with his own blood. Is that your perspective, when you preach from it?
Something else about the Bible, not just the Bibles authority and not just that its personal authority, but that we as Anglican Christians actually believe not only in the authority of the Bible, but the importance of loving the Bible. I like this first psalm; it says something really amazing about the godly person. It says that the man of God and the woman of God is blessed who not only meditates on God’s law but delights in it. And the word that is used in Hebrew haphats means to have emotional delight in. It’s the word of a wife delighting in her husband, or a husband delighting in his wife. We’re to have a delight of scripture. We’re to love it, not simply to read it although we should and not simply to be under its authority although we should, we need to love it, to care about it, and to steward it.
My own hero Charles Simeon (1759-1836) preached his way through the Bible and taught his congregation of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Cambridge, England not only that the Bible was authoritative but it was something to be loved. He once said this: “I love the simplicity of the Scriptures, I wish to receive and inculcate every truth precisely in the way and to the extent that it is set forth in the inspired Volume. Were this the habit of alldivines, there would soon be an end of most of the controversies that have agitated and divided the Church of Christ.”
Do we love the Bible, brothers and sisters? Love the Bible.
So what have I said so far? I said we’re catholics, I said we’re
charismatics, and I said we’re canonical. And I said we are under judgment. And I find myself gravitating to that fascinating verse, in Jeremiah: “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, [in Jeremiah 29] plans for welfare and not for evil to give you a future and a hope.” With these bases what is to be our focus as Anglicans as we go forward into the unknown future that God has for us. What is to keep the main thing the main thing mean for us in this time.
It means three more C’s.
First of all Christ. I’ve got to say that, I’m sorry! But it is about
Jesus. It is about the unsearchable riches of Christ and since we are in year B can I just remind you in passing of the sheer power for a moment of Mark’ Gospel. He is trying to portray a Jesus Christ who comes into people’s lives in power and who makes an authoritative claim. You remember the way that Mark unfolds the story at the end of chapter 4. That amazing scene where he stills the storm. They say who is this that at peace be still he says. And they say who is this of ye of little faith and so Mark wants to convey to his readers that the Jesus whom he is portraying has authority over the natural world. And then chapter 5 begins and you have that amazing scene with the Gerasene demoniac who is out there gashing himself among the tombs. And he suddenly because of the power of Christ is placed in his right mind. Jesus who has power not only over the natural world but over evil. And then the story goes on and Mark has that wonderful scene where Jairus has this sick daughter and Jesus is supposed to go and on his way, you remember what happens, the woman with the issue of blood comes up and touches the hem of Jesus’ garment and she is healed. Mark gives us a Jesus who has power over sickness. And now we have Jesus who has power over the natural world, and over the demonic world and over the evil world and over sickness. What is the last story in Mark Chapter 5? He goes to Jairus’ daughter’s house and she is dead, forget it, it’s over. He says it is not over that she is just sleeping and he gets everyone out of the room except the family and he says to the little girl, “Talitha cumi, “I say to you little girl arise,” and it’s the Jesus who has power over death.
This is the Jesus, brothers and sisters, that we need to unapologetically proclaim. The Jesus who makes a powerful claim, power over nature, power over the demonic, power over sickness and power the last great enemy of all, death itself.
We will be people who unapologetically will be about the Christ, proclaiming the unsearchable riches of Christ. We will also be people, next C, of the cross.
I’m not giving up on the Rite I language of the prayer book. “By His one oblation of Himself once offered, the full perfect and sufficient sacrifice oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. By the merits and death of Thy Son, Jesus Christ and through faith in His blood.” What is it that Paul says in Galatians 6? “Far be in from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” It’s got to be centered on the cross, brothers and sisters; the cross is the center of it all.
To be a Christian means not to think from the world or from one’s self to the cross but to place one’s self as Luther did every single morning at the foot of the Cross and to think and to pray out from there to one’s self and the world.
Two quick comments by way of reminder about the cross. The cross is the final statement of God about the depth of the problem. To think from the cross out is to be reminded of the horror of sin. In his wonderful book Compassion Henri Nouwen tells the moving story of a family whose name are Joel and Nida Theartiga that he knew in Paraguay. And this family in the course of their life and ministry the father who was a physician becomes increasingly critical of the government in Paraguay. The military is becoming increasingly abusive and the father can’t take it anymore and he speaks out more and more boldly. Finally the government acts and they take their revenge on this physician and his wife by arresting his teenage son and torturing him to death. The enraged townsfolk wanted to turn the boy’s funeral into a huge protest march, but as Nouwen tells the story, as they said their prayers and thought about it, they chose another protest, a more cross-like, biblical lament. And as Nouwen describes the funeral, what they chose to do was to take their son and to take his body exactly the way they had found it in the jail: naked, scarred by electric shocks and cigarette burns and beatings. All the villagers filed past the corpse, which lay not in a coffin but on the blood-soaked mattress that it was on in prison when they found it. It was the strongest protest imaginable, because it put the injustice of human sin on total display.
My dear brothers and sisters, that’s what happened on Good Friday. The Cross in all it’s ugliness, exposed the world and exposed our hearts for what they are breeding grounds for violence and injustice; for arrogance and pride; yes, for sexual sin and immorality; for moral cowardice, personal greed, and self-interest, and all else. The cross of Christ is offensive because it exposes and condemns our rebellion and rebelliousness.
But the other thing about the cross, the great thing about the cross if we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before, is that in the mystery of God’s working on the cross, God at that moment in history, the judge of history, comes into history and absorbs the judgment upon himself. PT Forsyth put it this way: “The cross of Christ is God’s only self-justification in a world such as ours.” Karl Barth put it this way: “God, by the decree He made in the beginning of all his works and ways, has taken upon himself the rejection merited by the man isolated in relation to him.” Total exposure of human sin, total absorption of human rebellion, he himself has born our sins. God made him who knew no sin to be sin, brothers and sisters, so that in him we may be the righteousness of God. Do you believe that?
My last C. Not only the Christ, and not only the cross, but finally, and here I think I get to my most heartfelt cri de coeur about the situation in which we find ourselves. It’s about conversion for crying out loud. A funny thing happened on the way to the 21st century in the Episcopal Church: The 1979 prayer book! The full theological measure of its ethos has yet to be completely felt but we are now at a place of enough distance from it to begin to reflect with each other about its real impact on our common life and if we do that, and very few people are doing it, the results are deeply disconcerting.
Think with me just for a second. A prayer book that has an underemphasis on God’s transcendence and holiness and judgment, combined with a very weak sense of sin, combined with a liturgical practice that actually makes confession of sin optional, combined with a strong emphasis on baptism, combined with a baptismal covenant which is decoupled from its trinitarian and scriptural mooring so that apparently the nearly everything I read in the Episcopal church what it actually means to be baptized ONLY is revealed the last two questions in the baptismal covenant: namely, loving your neighbor as yourself, and to striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being, combined with the predominant ethos of the American Episcopal Church which is liberal catholicism combined with the predominant ethos of America which is this weird post modern miasma of malnourished pluralism masking as real community, it leads to this, and I need to say this as clearly as I can: we have a theology in practice which moves straight from creation to redemption! A nearly universalistic or in fact completely universalistic worldview in which the fall and sin have in essence disappeared!! To be created in the Episcopal Church is apparently to be redeemed (at the most you need to be baptized) and so, think about this for just a second - what are the two most recent trends worthy of mention since Convention? Some people are arguing Gene Robinson was baptized, therefore he should be consecrated a bishop. It apparently trumps everything else. If you are baptized everything else follows, and then the even more important one which really flew under almost everybody’s radar screen, the huge growing practice in the Episcopal Church of open communion. So that at All Saints Pasadena the Rector gets up and says “who ever you are, where ever you are in your spiritual journey, I invite you to come forward for grace and consolation along the way.” Any reference to God the Father? Uh-uh. Any reference to God the Son? Gone. Any reference to the Holy Spirit? Nada. Now think about this for just a second.
Over against this barely Christian ethos, if you actually place what it means to have a biblical world view, you find yourself shocked, shocked because when you read the scriptures, Luke 19:10, the reason that the son of man came was to seek and to save the lost. God comes to Abraham and says, “Go to a lost world so that through you they will be blessed because they are not blessed now.” Jesus tells in Luke chapter 15 not one, not two, but three parables. The lost coin, and the lost sheep, and then–just incase we missed it–the lost son. And Paul can cry out in 2 Corinthians 5 “I beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” The overwhelming conviction of historic Christianity is: If you don’t have Christ you’re lost! Which is why number one on your sheet is to declare the great commission the first priority of our life and work. I don’t want to know when you come to see me whether you’re a good Episopalian, I want to know how many people in your parish have met Jesus Christ and are being transformed by His love.
One more Simeon story just about the lostness of the lost. I need to say this so strongly because it just is so rare in the Episcopal Church to see people that believe the way Simeon believed. I love this story. This is a first hand description of one of his sermons and the text on this particular day when Charles Simeon, a vicar at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Cambridge England, who lived from 1759-1836. Simeon is preaching and his text is “All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people,” that is his text. Listen to this eyewitness description. “And after having urged all his hearer to accept God’s offer of mercy, he reminded them that there were those present to whom he had preached Christ for more than thirty years, but they continued indifferent to a Savior’s love; and pursuing this train of expostulation for some time, he at length became quite overpowered by his feelings, and sank down in the pulpit and burst into a flood of tears, and few who were present could refrain from weeping with him” When was the last time anyone of us really cried for the lostness of the lost who are all over our parishes and our lives. God cries. The gospel calls. Do we?
So what have I said? What I have said is that what it means to be an Anglican is to be a catholic, to be a charismatic, to canonical. What it means to be centered in the Anglican essentials is that we are about Christ and his cross and yes the call to conversion. And now I draw my remarks to a close. Because this word this afternoon brothers and sisters has to touch us where we really live and breathe.
You remember I started by talking about the fact that I believe that we are a church that is under judgment. Did you catch the word that I used? I didn’t say they are under judgment, I said we. It’s a real downer to hear what happened as our panel well described to us about what happened in Minneapolis. And there is a danger that we face as we begin our journey together and the danger is this.
Any sense that it is the re-appraisers, that’s the way that I like to
describe them, who are responsible primarily or even nearly exclusively for the pathetic state of affairs in which we find ourselves and our church has to be abandoned. All of Israel I remind you all this afternoon was under judgment in Jeremiah’s day and the whole Episcopal Church is under judgment including us.
The so-called orthodox, that’s us, have an enormous amount to answer for in this time. Our sins of compromise, timidity, denial, ignorance, careerism, self-interest, party spirit, the list is very long. So hear this afternoon, my brothers and sisters, the gospel for all of us. Hear it well, B. F. “Bird’ Paty in that football game, in a losing game, looked at the football dribbling around on the ground and he didn’t want to pick it up. And God’s message to us in recentering us is: We have dropped the ball!! We have lost our center as gospel people, as catholic, charismatic, canonical Anglican people. Not only have we lost our center, but hear this well; we do not even have the power to pick the ball back up left to ourselves. But dear sisters and brothers hear the good news of the Gospel this afternoon. The God who gave us the ball, who has watched us drop the ball, through the cross forgives us for dropping the ball and by the power of the Holy Spirit gives us back the ball.
Will you take the ball back up with me?
And finally you’ve heard that word used by David Roseberry, realignment. You are going to hear a lot about it. It is in our preliminary draft of the statement. And I need to say a clearly as I know how this afternoon why a realignment within Anglicanism is indispensably necessary. There has to be a new realignment, there has to be a new and different future.
At Minneapolis the Episcopal church decided to risk the whole future of the Anglican communion on this one vote, all four instruments of Anglican unity said don’t do it, many prominent Anglicans leaders worldwide pleaded for us not to do it, and we not only did it but we did it without consulting them. This is not catholic it will not stand.
At Minneapolis the Holy Spirit was grieved and a way of life which is in contradiction to holiness was celebrated and blessed, this is not charismatic it will not stand.
At Minneapolis, the Scriptures were either quickly dismissed or incredible and deliberately twisted, this decision is not canonical it will not stand.
Most importantly and finally, at Minneapolis, the will of the Father to draw all people to himself through the cross of his Son, get this now, was replaced with a new and different gospel where a therapeutic Jesus embraces people where they are. It is a gospel of affirmation rather than the gospel of salvation. We have moved from sinners in the hands of an angry God to clients in the palm of a satisfied therapist.
So the Episcopal Church is now a church where people are officially led away from Christ. And this is why we need a realignment. You’ve got to understand this. Because with the new gospel you and I who believe the traditional gospel are the embodiment of a call to holiness and believers in a gospel which those who believe the new teaching see as unjust and unchristian. We are enemies of the new gospel. Beware underneath the call to participate in the Episcopal Church from now on there is lurking a passionate desire among some to persecute many of those who disagree with this new teaching.
I was on the committee that put out C-051. I remember it well there were 45 of us. Guess what the vote was? 44 to 1. I remember it because I was the one. And there was an incredible moment at the end of Minneapolis which is the future in the Episcopal Church if we don’t have intervention. And to my utter amazement, having written a one-person minority report, which is my prerogative as a member of the committee, I watched person after person after person come to the microphone and insist that my one-person minority report be expunged from the record of the Episcopal Church. It was astounding. It was like being in a family that has an Uncle Steve and they are pretending that he doesn’t exist and they go through all the family albums and pull out his picture and go through all the family history and erase those sections where Steve is mentioned. That’s our future brothers and sisters if we don’t have help. We’ve got to have outside intervention. We haven’t moved anywhere. The church has moved from us.
Our hope is in asking for a realignment in a church were are increasing under attack with a total sense of our own powerlessness to shape the nature of our coming intervention, and that’s really good news because Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
Are you re-centered with me brothers and sisters? Catholic, Charismatic, Canonical. We are going to be about Christ, and the cross, and conversion.
As we are seated, let us pray.
Lord, you are a great God and you have given us a great and astounding message. Re-center us, and enable us to be people who preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, and his cross, and who call others to conversion in His name by the power of the Holy Spirit. Forgive us Lord, for the ways that we have dropped the ball. We confess that we have dropped the ball Lord; we confess that we don’t have the power to pick the ball back up. Lord in your mercy, you, the God who gave us the ball in the first place and who watched us drop the ball. Give us back the ball Lord, by the power of your Holy Spirit, and bring us into the new and exciting and hopeful future that only you can give us. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.
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Read it all and the Statement from the Conference was published here
The Presiding Bishop's job -- and future reputation -- is, in effect, on the line. She and her personal Chancellor have been so identified with the litigation agenda of ECUSA (because they run that agenda without interference from anyone else in the entire Church) that they are taking a hit, so to speak, on account of the reversals which that agenda has recently suffered in Texas (Fort Worth), Illinois (Quincy), South Carolina, and yes - let it be said -- in San Joaquin (even though there is as yet no final judgment there, ECUSA faces a decidedly uphill battle to convince the California court that its canons allow it to take the property of the withdrawing diocese).
In a (rather desperate, and, some would say) clumsy attempt to protect her prerogatives on the litigation front, the Presiding Bishop (and, as always, her personal Chancellor, whose law firm earns millions each year from the Presiding Bishop's continuing patronage) asked the "Ecclesiology Committee" to deliver a counter to the "Bishops' Statement on Polity" promulgated by the Anglican Communion Institute and the Communion Partner Bishops within ECUSA....
That Committee (with membership as noted above) obediently came forth with just such a "Statement", and presented it to the assembled bishops in Nashville. Wonder of wonders, however -- what seemed likely as a rubber stamp of 815's current litigation claims devolved into a rejection of the Committee's paper. That rejection was based chiefly on the bishops' reluctance to submit themselves or their dioceses, by a simple resolution, to any claim of metropolitan authority -- but it was also based on their own personal knowledge of the Church's historical polity.
Read it all.
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Primates and bishops from the Global South attending a gathering here said current proposals for a new Anglican Communion covenant don’t go far enough to heal the conflict in the communion over homosexuality.
The Wednesday (Sept. 18) gathering to mark the 50th anniversary of the Toronto Anglican Congress, suggested the worldwide Anglican Communion faces troubled waters. Anglicans from the Global South prepare to meet for their second Global Anglican Future Conference next month and the Toronto meeting showed no signs of reconciliation.
Archbishop Ian Ernest, primate of the province of the Indian Ocean, said decisions by the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada on issues involving homosexuality have torn the fabric of communion.
Read it all.
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It is the attack made on Judge Houck's factual reasoning in the first seven pages of the Memorandum that I would like to consider. Here the attorneys argue that under an earlier case from the same Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal which would hear any appeal from Judge Houck's decision Bishop vonRosenberg has certain prerogatives of his office with which Bishop Lawrence is allegedly interfering.
The argument is ludicrous on its face. Consider this point: Bishop Lawrence is also a bishop of a diocese -- the one that is paying his salary -- and so under that same precedent, he has certain prerogatives of his office as well. What Bishop vonRosenberg wants is to restrict Bishop Lawrence's prerogatives just so he can exercise the ones he claims are his.
And that is not all. In Dixon v. Edwards (the earlier case in question), Bishop Dixon claimed that it was the vestry and rector of a particular parish in her own diocese that were interfering with her prerogatives as its bishop, and the court decided that her claims warranted relief. But Bishop Lawrence is not in the same diocese as Bishop vonRosenberg, and is not subject to his jurisdiction. If Bishop Lawrence's activities in his own diocese are interfering with Bishop vonRosenberg's activities in his, then can a federal court supply a remedy? To do so would be to wade too far into matters that are "quintessentially ecclesiastical" (to quote the Court of Appeal's decision in the Schofield case), in violation of the First Amendment.
Read it all and please note the link to the South Carolina filing which you can read in full.
More South Carolina Links
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Today Senior Judge C. Weston Houck of the Federal District Court in the District of South Carolina entered an order dismissing "without prejudice" the federal trademark infringement lawsuit filed in that court by Provisional Bishop vonRosenberg of the "Episcopal Church in South Carolina" against Bishop Mark Lawrence of the independent Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The dismissal "without prejudice" means that the Court declined to rule on any of the merits of Bishop vonRosenberg's claims, so as not to interfere with the State Court proceeding involving those same issues which is currently before Judge Diane Goodstein in the Court of Common Pleas for the First Judicial Circuit in Dorchester County, South Carolina (see the footnote on page 22 of the Order).
Should the State court proceedings not fully and finally resolve all of the trademark issues between Bishop vonRosenberg and Bishop Lawrence (and there is no reason to conceive why they should not so resolve them), then the dismissal without prejudice leaves Bishop vonRosenberg theoretically free to refile his Lanham Act (federal trademark) claims in the federal district court. However, if the State court proceedings result in a litigated final judgment, then that judgment would operate to bar any further such filings by Bishop von Rosenberg in any court.
Read it all (and please follow the link to the text of the actual order).
As his counterpart in Texas saw the matter, so might Judge Houck: why bother to get into the messy details of a federal trademark action if the earlier case filed in State court will dispose of the matter? He indicated by a question that he was considering staying the federal action pending the outcome of the proceedings in State court. He said he would have a ruling out in “a week or so.”
Meanwhile, the State court case begun by the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence and his Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina is moving forward, now that it has been remanded from Judge Houck’s court. The attorneys for all parties were in court on July 11 to discuss a schedule for the case with First Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein, who issued her order eight days later. The order ensures that the case will not dawdle, but will be ready for trial by the summer of next year.
ECUSA is seeking to add additional defendants to its counterclaim, namely, the individual trustees and members of the diocesan standing committee (as a prelude to naming the rectors and vestry members of 37 individual parishes -- some 500 people in all -- following the same punitive strategy it has tried in other cases). The court ordered that any additional response Bishop Lawrence’s attorneys wanted to make to that motion be filed by July 22, with ECUSA’s reply due 10 days later. Those papers have now been filed, and the parties await Judge Goodstein's ruling on the propriety of trying to add any individual defendants to the case.
Read it all.
The challenge is that there is a diversity of views and disagreement about the truthfulness of the doctrine and the faithfulness, integrity and wisdom of the discipline. The key questions here were set out by Archbishop Rowan in 2005: “What is the nature of a holy and Christ-like life for someone who has consistent homosexual desires? And what is the appropriate discipline to be applied to the personal life of the pastor in the Church?”. Our diversity is about “what the Church requires in its ordained leaders and what patterns of relationship it will explicitly recognise as unquestionably revealing of God”. There is similarly diversity in response to civil partnerships (as General Synod noted in a Feb 2007 motion) and, to a lesser extent, in response to the new legal definition of marriage barely on the horizon when the Pilling Group started its work.
The problem is that this diversity increasingly risks pushing the church nationally and internationally into division or at least increased structural differentiation. Facing this, General Synod, in another Feb 2007 resolution, commended “continuing efforts to prevent the diversity of opinion about human sexuality creating further division and impaired fellowship within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion”.
We need a report which can help us reason together by defining and explaining the theo-logic of our church doctrine and discipline and relating these to our diversity and potential division.
Read it all.
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The inference to be drawn from [Bill ] Lawton's argument is that an emphasis on discontinuous and futurist eschatology has had an impact on the way in which Anglicans from Sydney have responded to the rising tide of secularism since the 1960s. What I would like to show is that, while Sydney's Anglicans have not always responded well to the challenges of the new secularism, they were not in fact given to the kind of world-abandonment supposedly characteristic of them in the late nineteenth century.
The period of secularization following the 1960s does indeed have some strong echoes of the late nineteenth century. In between these two eras was the high-water mark of church influence in Australian life, and in Sydney especially. In the midst of the Great Depression, Sydney Anglicans like the extraordinary R.B.S. Hammond (1870-1946) at St Barnabas' Broadway distinguished themselves in remarkable service of the poor. The 1950s in particular was a time in which Australian society seemed more congenial to the influence of the church than it had been previously.
This was demonstrated by the dramatic impact of the Billy Graham crusade of 1959 - an event which had all the appearance of the dawn of a new glorious age of Christian social influence through the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the thousands of people who went forward in Sydney and Melbourne. More than 130,000 people made a commitment to Christ, a figure which represents nearly 2% of the Australian population at the time.
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The crown jewels of the Church of England are its parishes. Priests have the cure of souls—not just the churchgoers but of every resident of the neighborhood, where every blade of grass in the entire country has a church that seeks to make itself in some way a blessing to all, where the clergy know that “I can’t know everyone, but everyone can know me.” But this inheritance is under pressure. In the corners of clergy gatherings there are mutterings. Stories are told of spouses or friends in health care and education who see very few patients or students any more, but instead sit behind computers filling in forms about targets and thresholds. The same is said about priests—that a Prussian-style bureaucracy is infesting the poetry of the priest’s relationship to the parish.
In the Church of England, parish clergy are all paid the same; there are no “rich rectors” with well-endowed churches and sprawling expense accounts, so the conventional commercial appraisal—balance sheet healthy, 2 percent pay increase, MBA completed, another 2 percent increase—doesn’t apply. But now appraisal schemes for ministry review have been introduced by some dioceses, and this is the bureaucracy that is resented by clergy who see it, with its target goals, assessments, statistics and accountability, as another layer of control.
When I overhear the clergy grumbling, the elderly Welsh millworker comes to mind, and I find myself asking, “Shouldn’t we pause for a moment and ask ourselves why all these systems and controls have been introduced? Isn’t it because the glorious parish system puts the parish priest in a position of extraordinary trust, and because that trust has gone without honor rather more times than we’d care to admit?”
Read it all.
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In spite of assurances from Bishops and senior church officers that a change to the marriage canon would not be pursued at the 2013 General Synod, two members from the Diocese of Nova Scotia will do exactly that.
The motion reads:
Be it resolved that this General Synod direct the Council of General Synod to prepare and present a motion at General Synod 2016 to change Canon XXI on Marriage to allow the marriage of same sex couples in the same way as opposite sex couples . . . (Resolution #C003)
It offers this defense:
It has been 6 years since General synod last debated this issue. Since then, some dioceses have proceeded in a manner they deemed necessary to meet the local pastoral and other needs with respect to the blessing of same sex civil marriages. It has been over 10 years since such civil marriages were legal in Canada. The general public has become much more accepting of same sex unions since we last discussed it. This is also true of the church, though not, of course, universally so....
Read it all.
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Jesse Zink’s “Why Provinces Matter” and the responses from William G. Witt and Colin Podmore [TLC, May 26] illustrate the range of opinions on what South Carolina’s ultimate ecclesial structure should be, from standalone province to joining the Anglican Church in North America. One thing in common to all of the initial essays, however, was the recognition that any decision on ultimate structure might still be some time away.
This recognition has also been the starting point of the Anglican Communion Institute in our work on this issue in the last several months. We believe that South Carolina’s current status does not necessarily present a problem in need of immediate resolution, but rather inheres in the nature of this dispute. Taking our cue both from Bishop Mark Lawrence and the Instruments of Communion, we have proposed that the guiding principle of the next season for South Carolina is “provisionality.” During this period ultimate decisions are deferred precisely because they are premature. Bishop Lawrence has stressed this on many occasions. The rupture with the Episcopal Church is too fresh with many unresolved issues; the ensuing litigation is only beginning, not nearing an end. This is not the time to make such a momentous decision as that regarding the ultimate future of this diocese, which predates the formation of the Episcopal Church.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Parishes TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Theology Ecclesiology
Judge Reed explains the importance of Section 20.01(g) of the Canons of the Diocese of San Joaquin, and for this once, turns the tables on ECUSA by saying that it never objected to that Canon:
As to the issue of the parish’s right to disaffiliate from the church, it is undisputed that Canon XX, section 20.01(g) of the Diocese of San Joaquin has been an adopted canon of the diocese for many years, and that the plain language of section 20.01(g) allows for disaffiliation of the parish upon the written approval of the bishop of the diocese.After years of hearing courts say that dioceses and parishes never objected to the Dennis Canon before the current disputes arose, this opinion comes as a breath of fresh air, by turning the same point against ECUSA.
Plaintiffs argue that section 20.01(g) is invalid because Episcopal Church rules do not allow for a parish to disaffiliate. They base their contention upon church rules that indicate parish canons may not conflict with church rules and that parish property is to be held in trust for the church. However, the evidence before the court does not show that the Episcopal Church has objected to section 20.01(g) in the past, or taken any action to remove it from the diocese’s canons. Moreover, other church rules appear to give broad authority to bishops, such as Episcopal Church Canon II.6 which authorizes a parish to encumber parish property with consent of the bishop.
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In the... [crucial] section of his order, Judge Houck sets out the law that is applicable to these various claims and assertions ("Standard of Review"). Citing another 4th Circuit case which is binding upon him, Judge Houck writes: "Thus, '(i)f a plaintiff can establish, without the resolution of an issue of federal law, all of the essential elements of his state law claim, then the claim does not necessarily depend on a question of federal law." To determine this question, the U.S. Supreme Court requires a federal court to which a state-law case has been removed to analyze whether or not the federal claim involved is "substantial", or is merely an incident to the dispute:
Under the substantial federal question doctrine, "federal jurisdiction over a state law claim will lie if a federal issue is: (1) necessarily raised, (2) actually disputed, (3) substantial, and (4) capable of resolution in federal court without disrupting the federal-state balance approved by Congress." ... If the defendant fails to demonstrate all four of these elements, removal is improper under this doctrine.Now Judge Houck turns to a detailed analysis of the defendants' arguments to see how they fare under each of the four prongs of this test. He preliminarily disposes of the defendants' claims concerning the Lanham (federal trademark) Act, and observes that the plaintiffs had the absolute right to base their complaint upon State trademark law only. Thus the fact that there may be federal-law claims assertable in addition to the state-law ones pled in the complaint is irrelevant to the analysis.
And in a few thoroughly researched and well-written pages, Judge Houck now demonstrates how insubstantial are the defendants' federal-law arguments. He takes each of the four prongs one by one, and shows how the defendants' arguments fail to satisfy any of them. ((That is why Judge Houck's order would almost certainly be upheld if defendants were able to appeal from it (see below). Failing four out of four grounds of the test does not even make this a close case....)
Read it all and please note that there is a link provded to the full document from the Judge for those of you interested in such things--KSH.
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The fate of the Potemkin "Diocese of Quincy" foreshadows what will probably happen to all of the other Potemkin villages currently being propped up by the coffers of ECUSA, except for Pittsburgh and possibly Fort Worth (depending on how the Texas Supreme Court rules -- any day now, by the way). The remnant Episcopalians in San Joaquin, Quincy and South Carolina are currently each governed by a part-time, provisional bishop, previously retired ("resigned"), who spends only a fraction of his time visiting the parishes and handling administrative matters.
The oldest such group is in the geographical area of the former Diocese of San Joaquin, spread over fourteen California counties in the southern Central Valley. The Presiding Bishop called its initial convention in April 2008 so that it could immediately file a lawsuit against Bishop Schofield (but not naming his Anglican Diocese -- remember, ECUSA cannot recognize the right of a diocese to withdraw, without forfeiting its claims to the withdrawing diocese's property and bank accounts).
After five years, the group's lawsuit against Bishop Schofield has yet to go to trial, while it has accepted loans and subsidies from ECUSA amounting to about $1.5 million thus far. Meanwhile, its ASA dropped since 2001 by nearly 80%, and has remained flat at just 943 for 2010 and 2011.
Read it all.
The gist of the article is this. Public discourse in this country is now dominated by what the author calls “Motivated Thinking.” Dan Kahan, a professor of law and psychology at Yale University, says that motivated thinking occurs “when a person is conforming their assessments of information to some interest or goal that is independent of accuracy.” An interest or goal, he says may be “remaining a well-regarded member of a political party (we might add or a church), or winning the next election, or even just winning an argument.” In these instances and many others, reasoning may well be carried on in a way that is independent of the facts of the matter in question.
The author of the article (Ezra Klein) gives a number of examples of the sort of thinking social scientists have in mind when they speak of Motivated Thinking. My favorite comes from professor Geoffrey Cohen of Stanford University. He showed a group of students two articles—one a generic news story and one that described a proposed welfare policy. The generic story was a decoy. Prof Cohen’s real interest was in reactions to the one describing welfare policy. He wanted to know if party affiliation influenced voters when they assess new policies. To find out he produced multiple versions of the welfare article. Some students read about programs that were generous and others programs that were anything but. Nevertheless, in some versions of these articles that described a generous policy he indicated support by Republican Party leaders; and in some of the ones containing meager programs he described them as having Democratic support. He found that if a liberal student’s party endorsed the meager program so did the liberal student, and if the conservative party leaders supported the more liberal proposal, so did the conservative students. In each case the goal serving to motivate and shape thinking was based not on an assessment of the policy proposals themselves but upon party loyalty and identification. On both the left and the right Prof. Cohen found that Motivated Thinking rather than assessment of the facts determined the outcome.
Read it all.
It's a rather neat set-up, don't you think? Get the uneasy bishops to face disciplinary charges, and then soft-soap them with promises of full (well, almost) confidentiality. And then disregard the terms of the Accord entirely, thereby letting the accused bishops know that nothing, absolutely nothing, will stand in the way of intimidating them to whatever extent may be necessary to keep them silent.
In other words, despite your own contempt for the language of the Accord, continue to hold it over them, to intimidate them from attempting to commit such an outrageous act of disloyalty ever again. And if the bishops allow that continuing intimidation to affect their actions, then I pray for them, and for the future of a Church that is in such cynical and calculating hands.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Quincy TEC Polity & Canons * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues
Jesse Zink is therefore quite right: the Diocese of South Carolina cannot properly remain independent indefinitely. To be faithful not just to Anglican but more importantly to catholic ecclesiology, its bishops should belong to a province.
Once litigation in the secular courts is concluded, this could be achieved in several ways. There could be reconciliation with the Episcopal Church’s national leadership — we should always pray for reconciliation leading to the visible unity of the Church, however remote human sinfulness may make that prospect seem. Or the diocese could join the Anglican Church in North America or (less ideally) a more distant Anglican province.
Alternatively, it could follow the Sudan model, to which Zink points, and become a province by dividing into four dioceses. Half of one U.S. state, with fewer than 80 congregations and 30,000 baptized members, might be thought rather small to form a separate province. However, in 1998 the geographically and numerically much smaller Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao was divided into three dioceses (with only 38 congregations between them) and a “missionary area.” This enabled it to become a freestanding province of the Anglican Communion instead of joining the Church of the Province of South East Asia, which was formed in 1996 by the more conservative extra-provincial dioceses with which it had previously been associated.
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Now comes a task I would rather not face, given that I count many non-canon lawyers who are bloggers on Episcopal matters at least as colleagues, if not as personal friends. But in the wake of my commentary on the recent St. James ruling, a host of lay would-be canonists have rushed in to assure everyone that the ruling is not as bad as it is, or that it does not really say what it says. The latest comes from the estimable Father Haller, but he and others have also been contributing to the comments on other blogs. (Note that no one has seen fit to come here and question me directly.)
Let's clear up one simple matter first: the ruling is not yet precedent for California courts, because it is only the decision of a single trial judge in Orange County, California. As I pointed out in my original post, it will become problematic only if it is affirmed upon appeal. (But as I also pointed out in my post, all of the appeals taken thus far by St. James in this case were decided against them initially by the Court of Appeals.)
Read it all.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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
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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.
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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....
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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.
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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
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