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"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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The meeting in Jerusalem this week was called in a sense of urgency that a false gospel has so paralysed the Anglican Communion that this crisis must be addressed. The chief threat of this dispute involves the compromising of the integrity of the church’s worldwide mission. The primary reason we have come to Jerusalem and issued this declaration is to free our churches to give clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ.--From the final text on which i will be giving a presentation later today
It is our hope that this Statement on the Global Anglican Future will be received with comfort and joy by many Anglicans around the world who have been distressed about the direction of the Communion. We believe the Anglican Communion should and will be reformed around the biblical gospel and mandate to go into all the world and present Christ to the nations.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates GAFCON I 2008 Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Missions * International News & Commentary Middle East Israel * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
...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
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
Remember that the more specific you can be, the more the rest of us will get from your comments--KSH.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates GACON II 2013 GAFCON I 2008 Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
In a further sign of fracture in the Episcopal Church over the ordination of an openly gay bishop, thousands of conservative American Anglicans rallied here on Tuesday at a conference that advocated radically reorganizing church authority.
The meeting, called by the orthodox American Anglican Council a week before an emergency meeting of Anglican leaders in London to avert a worldwide schism, circulated a draft ''call to action'' urging the parent church to ''create a new alignment for Anglicanism in North America.''
Denouncing the House of Bishops for backing the ordination in June of a gay man, the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire, the Rev. David H. Roseberry, rector of Christ Church in nearby Plano, said, ''The Episcopal Church has begun a wayward drift that will distort the Anglican community.''
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI
...It is our vocation as Communion Partners to navigate this narrow path between two dangerous extremes as we pursue the mission of the Church “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”To that end, six Communion Partner bishops (Greg Brewer, Paul Lambert, Ed Little, Dan Martins, Ed Salmon and Michael Smith) made a visit to Archbishop Justin Welby at his residence in Canterbury, England last week.
There we prayed together and discussed a range of issues concerning the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church. Also present was the Archbishop’s Director of Reconciliation, Canon David Porter.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
In his most stark comments yet about divisions over issues such as homosexuality, the Most Rev Justin Welby said the Church is coming perilously close to plunging into a “ravine of intolerance”.
He even drew parallels between the crisis afflicting the 77 million-strong network of Anglican churches and the atmosphere during the English Civil War.
And he likened the collective behaviour of the church to a “drunk man” staggering ever closer to edge of a cliff.
Read it all and the sermon text being cited is there.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali
Archbishop of Church of Uganda
13th August 2013
Good Morning. I greet you in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!
I have an important message for you today. Ten years ago this month, a gay man, who was a divorced father of two children, was elected a Bishop in the Episcopal Church in America. This unbiblical decision on the part of a church threw the entire global Anglican Communion into chaos.
Two months later, the Archbishop of Canterbury convened an emergency meeting of the 38 Primates - Senior Archbishops - of the Anglican Communion to try to resolve the crisis. The Primates issued a statement that said that if the consecration of this gay man proceeded it would "tear the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level." Even the American Archbishop agreed to this statement.
Yet, immediately after the close of the meeting, the American Archbishop held a press conference just outside Lambeth Palace and told the world that he would proceed with the consecration. And, indeed, he did.
And, as the Primates predicted, the American consecration of a gay man as a Bishop did "tear the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level."
There were many attempts by the Primates of the Anglican Communion to bring discipline to the American Church, but they were not implemented. And, so the spiritual cancer has spread. It has infected the Anglican Church in Canada, the Church of England, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Wales, and even the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.
In America, they even have a Lesbian Bishop now! Many Dioceses in the American Episcopal Church have approved the blessing of same-sex unions. And, with their recent Supreme Court decision to recognize same-sex marriage, we expect the American Church to promote this even more.
It isn't any better in Canada - most dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada have also approved the blessing of same-sex unions.
In the UK the Civil Partnership Act was passed in 2005. It allows same-sex partners to enter into a legal relationship with all the same benefits as marriage. Sadly, the Church of England supported this bill.
In the first year after it was passed, more than 50 gay or lesbian priests were "joined" in civil partnership ceremonies and are living together in church housing. Who knows how many more have been joined in such ceremonies in the seven years since then.
In January of this year, the Church of England House of Bishops resolved that clergy in civil partnerships are eligible to become Bishops. I responded at the time by saying, "The recent decision of the [Church of England] House of Bishops to allow clergy in civil partnerships to be eligible to become Bishops is really no different from allowing gay Bishops. This decision violates our Biblical faith and agreements within the Anglican Communion. When the American Church made this decision in 2003 it tore the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level. This decision only makes the brokenness of the Communion worse and is particularly disheartening coming from the Mother Church."
I have taken time to give you this history because we are at the ten-year anniversary mark of this crisis, and I want to ask, "Where are we?"
We have a new Archbishop of Canterbury who is born again and has a testimony. I have personally met him and I like him very much.
But, the problems in the Communion are still there, and they don't change just because there is a new global leader. In fact, ten years later, the crisis has deepened. It is worse, and shows no signs of improving.
This is why the Archbishop of Nigeria, the other Archbishops of East Africa, and I have come together and decided to organize a second Global Anglican Future Conference or GAFCON. It will be held in Nairobi at All Saints' Cathedral from 21st to 26th October. The Church of Uganda will be sending 200 Delegates to this important revival meeting.
The first GAFCON - or, Global Anglican Future Conference - was held five years ago in Jerusalem, the place where our Lord Jesus lived, died, and rose again for our justification.
The first GAFCON was very significant because it created a global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans led by a Primates Council and it also called for the creation of a new Bible-believing Anglican Province in North America. That new Anglican Province has now been created and is thriving. It is called the Anglican Church in North America.
This second GAFCON conference is also very important at this time in the life of our church. We are holding it in Nairobi this time because it is closer to the majority of the Christians who make up GAFCON.
I have called you here today because I want all our Christians to know about it, to pray for it, and to support it financially.
GAFCON is to the Anglican Communion as the East African Revival was to the church in Uganda. At first it was small revival fellowships meeting outside the church structures and church services. But, as the revival spread, it became mainstream in the Church. Now, most of the Church of Uganda is led by clergy and Bishops shaped by the East African Revival.
In the same way, we are going to GAFCON 2 in Nairobi to see that the Biblical faith of GAFCON spreads like revival throughout the whole Anglican Communion, so that global Anglicanism is brought back to its Biblical and evangelistic faith.
So, I am calling on all Christians to get involved in three ways:
First, we need you to pray! Pray for me as your Archbishop. Pray for your Bishop. Pray for your clergy and lay readers that we will all uphold the authority of the Bible in our lives and in our church. Pray for the GAFCON delegates that they will return from GAFCON and lead the Church of Uganda into Biblical truth and living.
Secondly, we need your financial support to ensure that your Bishop and other key clergy, women, and lay leaders from your Diocese are able to go to GAFCON. Please go to them and offer your financial support.
Finally, we need you to ask your Bishop and GAFCON delegates to report back to you after the conference. Ask them to tell you what they are doing to keep the Anglican Church on track.
Thank you for listening. And, thank you for supporting your Church's leadership in GAFCON.
--(The Most Rev.) Stanley Ntagali is Archbishop of Uganda
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Latest News Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates GAFCON I 2008 Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)
In 2003, after the Episcopal Church consecrated the first openly gay bishop within the Anglican Communion, the Province of the Southern Cone severed its relationship with the Episcopal Church. It also broke communion with the Anglican Church of Canada after one of its dioceses in 2002 authorized a rite for blessing same-sex unions. Are you still in broken communion with these two provinces?
Yes. In 2010 when an earthquake struck in Chile, I received many, many phone calls from [the Episcopal Church Center in] New York offering us money. But I said no; not out of arrogance but because we had broken communion with TEC and it would not be right to accept their money.
Did you ask permission of the local Anglican Church of Canada bishop to visit here?
No, because I am coming to another, different Anglican church.
n 2003, the Province of the Southern Cone offered Episcopal oversight to conservative Anglicans who had left the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada but who wanted to realign with another province. Does this make you a primate of the Anglican Church in North America along with its elected primate, Bob Duncan?
No. That is over. We provided temporary supervision. When ACNA was founded in Texas in 2008 the very next day I had breakfast with Bishop John Guernsey and said, “My churches in the States will now be under your supervision. Let me know what I should do to pass them to you.” Others like [Bishops] Frank Lyons of Bolivia and Greg Venables may have taken a bit more time but the Southern Cone decided to pass the [North American] churches to the new ACNA primate.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates GAFCON I 2008 Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * International News & Commentary South America Chile * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson says he chafed for several years at being branded the first openly gay bishop of the Anglican Church until he realized that he was wasting a pulpit from which he could advocate for equality.
“I’d been given this really remarkable opportunity and it would be selfish of me not to be the best steward of that opportunity,” he recently told The Associated Press in an interview as he prepares to retire in January. “We went from my consecration, which set off this international controversy, to nine years later seeing gay, lesbian and transgender congregants welcome at all levels of the church, including bishop.”
Robinson’s election in 2003 as the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican church created an international uproar and led conservative Episcopalians to break away from the main church in the United States.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Let me move to talk about some in-house matters for our Diocese, though important in their own right. First I turn to the matter of same-sex blessings, as approved by the General Convention last summer in Indianapolis. There are about two hundred pages of materials forwarded to the rest of the Church—Bible studies, theological resources, study guides for congregations, pastoral practices, and the rites themselves. The enabling resolution allows the implementation of these rites in a diocese with the bishop’s permission, and under his or her direction. I have decided to permit their use in congregations who are willing to prepare for them, through a season of prayer, study, and discernment. This decision is cause for joy and excitement for many, and consternation or dismay for others. I understand both responses.
Let me tell briefly how my own position on matters of human sexuality has changed. Or rather it is not so much that my position has changed, but the context in which I express my position has shifted markedly. My purpose has been, and still is, to work for the full inclusion of the faithful gay men and lesbians in our Church, while at the same time maintaining the highest degree of communion possible within our common life and with the rest of the Anglican world. That is the constant. We are, I think, at that highest possible degree of communion possible, right now. It is not likely to get much better or much worse.
There was a time, early in my episcopate, when it looked like the choice was either inclusion or communion. It looked binary, with no gradations between these two poles, and it looked as if it might be that way for a long time. The season after General Convention in 2003 was fractious, to say the least. Now, however, it looks like both inclusion and communion are available to us, at least provisionally.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Culture-Watch Globalization * Theology
[Australian bishop the Rt Revd Stephen Pickard]... went on to highlight the theological reflection on the Instruments in the report and said that there needed to be a proper understanding of the Instruments as a gift for the Communion that is primarily about relationships.
“The Instruments of Communion can lose their focus,” he said. “Their primary concern is the mission of God. Their horizon should be God’s work in the world. All deliberations, arguments [and] desire for corporate discernment, ought to be directed to God’s work in the world.”
Read it all.
Each province of the Anglican Communion is autonomous because there is no central authority uniting them. Adopting the covenant would mean the church would need to amend its constitution and canons, said Paul Valliere, a professor of religion at Butler University and an Episcopalian.
"As beautiful as the idea is of a united, global Anglicanism, it's probably an unworkable ideal," Theusen said.
A report prepared for the convention by the key House of Deputies Committee said the church's angst about the inter-Anglican Communion and other issues "appears to be easing."
Valliere said he disagrees with that assessment, calling the recent schisms "arguably the biggest schisms in the history of the Church."
"I think the Episcopal Church is in denial over what's happened in the last decade," he said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Covenant Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012 Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
Lambeth 1998, as I said, accepted homosexual orientation – what some have regarded as "a natural attribute for some people," that is, a natural predisposition toward people of the same sex –which has only been fully understood fairly recently. Even so, the Lambeth answer was to separate orientation from practice and commend celibacy.
But can celibacy be imposed? Shouldn't it be freely undertaken as a personal vocation by heterosexuals and homosexuals alike? As Rowan Williams once put it, "anyone who knows the complexities of the true celibate vocation, would be the last to have any sympathy with the extraordinary idea that sexual orientation is an automatic pointer to a celibate life: almost as if celibacy before God is less costly, even less risky to the homosexual than the heterosexual." And is not separating mind and body or feelings or orientation from practice a kind of dualism which the church has condemned in the past since human beings are a unified whole and cannot be compartmentalised in such a way. If that is true of humanity in general, why should we expect people of a homosexual disposition to be singled out in this way?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Wales Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships
Dr Williams could have stayed in the post until he was 70. Instead, with the Church of England on the brink of rejecting the document with just a handful of the 44 dioceses still to vote, it will be up to his successor to deal with a communion that is as divided over homosexuality and women bishops as when he was appointed a decade ago.
With the Covenant effectively doomed, the next Archbishop is likely to lead the Anglican Communion towards a federal model similar to that adopted by the Lutheran churches.
On the international front, he will have to deal with a communion of provinces heading for a formal schism over the ordination of gay bishops and same-sex blessings. But this will be nothing compared to the nightmare issues about to confront the Church of England at home over sexuality.
Read it all (subscription required).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK
Rowan’s style has been private and unstrategic. Once, questioned about strategy, he responded crossly ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit!’, seemingly oblivious to the possibility that the Spirit might work through long-term planning. Maybe that’s what we needed then. Certainly nobody doubts that he leads by example in his life of prayer and self-discipline. But we now need consultation, collaboration, and, yes, strategy. Despite routine pessimism, the Church of England isn’t finished. In a sense, it’s just getting going. We need someone with vision and energy to pick up from where Rowan’s charismatic style has led us and to develop and deepen things from there.
A new Archbishop must be allowed to lead. Yes, there are deep divisions. Part of the next Archbishop’s task will be to discern and clarify the difference between the things that really do divide and the things that people believe will do so but which need not. But, at the same time, there are problems of structure and organization that slow things down and soak up energy, problems that can and should be fixed so that the church and its leaders can be released for their mission, and to tackle properly the problems we face.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Windsor Report / Process * Theology Pastoral Theology
As Williams began his tenure as archbishop in 2003, though, the ordination of Robinson sent the issue of gay bishops to the head of the agenda. By last summer, with the Lambeth Conference approaching, schism seemed inevitable. Some bishops opposed to homosexual clergy held a rival conference in Jerusalem, denouncing Williams as a liberal pawn. Traditionalists announced plans to “go over” to the Roman Catholic Church or form their own church unless Williams got rid of Robinson. Gay activists circulated an old essay by Williams in which he had eloquently celebrated gay and lesbian relationships; the commentariat mocked him as a holy fool for some approving remarks he had made about Islamic law. Friends of Williams said he might resign. “God has given you all the gifts,” one friend told him, “and as your punishment, he has made you archbishop of Canterbury.”
The schism hasn’t come—not yet. The Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest group of Christians after the Catholics and the Orthodox, is still standing—a “hugely untidy but very lovable” body, in the words of its most famous member, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel laureate. But its unity has been compromised. In December, a half-dozen bishops broke with the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and announced their plans to found a rival Anglican Community for North America.
It is now, with his office under pressure from both left and right, that Rowan Williams’s real work is beginning....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts Global South Churches & Primates GAFCON I 2008 Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
Two consultants of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) have been reinstated as full members at the request of the Commission’s chairman.
The redesignation of Dr Katherine Grieb and Archbishop Tito Zavala as consultants took place as a result of the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams’ Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion issued in May 2010.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations
The film follows Robinson as the church grapples with how to handle lesbian and gay issues. Robinson’s election brought to a head divisions between liberal and conservative Episcopalians, and between the U.S. church and more conservative members of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Filmmakers followed Robinson to England in 2008, where he was excluded from the Anglicans’ Lambeth Conference of bishops. And they followed him to the Episcopal Church’s 2009 General Convention, where leaders voted to allow blessings of same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships (where legal) and allow gay men and women to become bishops.
Along the way, they interviewed Robinson, his family and other church leaders, many of whom supported his quest for equality and some of whom did not. In one scene, a woman sobs that she is torn between wanting to do what’s best for the people around her while also remaining true to Scripture.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Movies & Television Religion & Culture * Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
But matters are proceeding apace. The world is changing. The Global South objected to the consecration of a gay bishop with a partner, but Gene Robinson is no longer alone in that category even in the US House of Bishops (If he ever really was...). They objected to the idea of bestowing a blessing on a same-sex couple, and yet now in many states of this Union, including our own, the church is not only bestowing its blessing, but either seriously considering or already solemnizing the civil status of marriage.
In short, the process of organic development is afoot, it is not going to stop, and reception is or isn’t happening as I speak. In the meantime, the mainstream via media of the Episcopal Church is steadily reasserting our understanding of our authority to vary— to live out the variety of rites in our own context, which is very different from that in much of the Global South. As I learned intimately and personally at the conversation I attended in South Africa just a few weeks ago. The people in those places represented at that conference are free to maintain their various rules and traditions, suitable as they are for their contexts. I will say more in the open discussion about the extent to which the friction between the North and South has been exacerbated by misunderstanding and misinformation. But it is my sincere hope that corrections to those misunderstandings, and better information, through the mandated listening process and the Continuing Indaba — in both of which I have been involved — will assist to lessen the friction and perhaps even help calm the storms that have swept through our beloved Anglican Communion — not just the issue, but the issues behind the issues of Anglican disunion.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Covenant Anglican Identity Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
2. The same-gendered couple, civilly married, must be in an existing pastoral relationship with the clergy and parish.
3. At least one of the couple must be baptised.
4. Consistent with the moratorium and reflecting gracious restraint, no formal liturgy will be outlined or sanctioned by the Episcopal Office. However, the following guidelines must be observed:
a. The act of worship, prayer and blessing will be entered in the Vestry Book only.
b. The service of Blessing may not occur at the same occasion or day as a civil marriage so as to allow each event to be distinct and clearly understood.
c. Introductory remarks must be made that reflect the theological difference between the act of blessing and the sacrament of marriage.
d. The blessing of the commitment may include a statement of commitment and symbolic expressions of that commitment but these may not resemble those typically used in a marriage liturgy.
e. Celebration of the Eucharist is encouraged but optional.
f. In order to distinguish the act of blessing from marriage, it is not appropriate to ask for an exchange of consents. As well, blessings typically used in a marriage liturgy will not be used nor will a declaration of union be made. The act of blessing consecrates before God the partnership that already exists between the couple; mutual love and lifelong commitment one to the other in Christ.
Read it all (another from the long queue of should-have-already-been-posted material) and please take the time to note what is said about the communion of the unbaptized, not only in the letter but also in the appendix by the Canon Theologian of Ottawa.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship * Culture-Watch Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology
“It’s through marriage that people should enter into true sexual life. It’s not the process of re-inventing the third person because God did not invent the marriage between two same-sex persons as the cases in homosexuality and lesbianism.” He admonished those practising it to repent and come out of it because it’s evil.
The cleric argued that if God considered that yet another man was what Adam needed as companion and help mate in the Garden of Eden, He would have created another man, not a woman for Adam, stressing that, “He did not do that but rather created a unique person in the form of a woman different from the man.”
He lamented that there is moral decadence pervading the labyrinth of society in so much a way that hitherto despicable acts like lesbianism and homosexuality are gradually being decorated with public appeal and now receiving tolerance and even applause in today’s society.
Read it all (another from the long queue of should-have-already-been-posted material.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
...I appreciate the cautions about this linking of conciliarism too easily to Anglican provincial autonomy that Professor Radner makes me aware of. What are we to do in the 21st century with the international vision of Christian fellowship that was so much a part of the idealistic program of the medieval canonists who crafted conciliarism? What new structures might allow us to realize more deeply what it means to be members of the worldwide body of Christ? The Episcopal Church is no longer a “national church” but is made up of a family of nations, most of which do not share the English heritage of 18th-century American Anglicans (and in some nations the Episcopal Church in fact overlaps with another autonomous Anglican province). How can the 18th-century adaptation of conciliarism to one republic serve an international church that is no longer confined to one continent? The debate about the Anglican Covenant, which enters a new stage now as we prepare for the 2012 General Convention, is an opportunity for the whole people of God to engage prayerfully the issues concerning the constitutional structures of the body of Christ that Professor Radner and I have raised.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Covenant Episcopal Church (TEC) Executive Council Instruments of Unity * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Theology Ecclesiology
The segment description is as follows:
Kevin and George take you back to 2003 and the ultimate challenge for the Anglican Communion. They also discuss the London Riots and Potter-mania. Our guest Bishop this week is Archbishop Duncan who brings Kevin up to speed on the new Ordinal for the Anglican Church in North America.Watch it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Episcopal Church (TEC) Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Episcopal Church in the United States (EC), like other denominations, has been in crisis over human sexuality. What is different for the EC is that it faces, in its debates, the question of whether or not its vocation is to be an American Protestant denomination or to be part of the worldwide Anglican Communion in which national particularity is submerged for the sake of common witness.
In June 2010 EC Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori issued a pastoral letter that was a direct challenge to the archbishop of Canterbury and by extension to the Anglican Communion, of which Archbishop Rowan Williams is at least titular head. At stake is whether or not his headship can, or ought, to be more than titular; and if so, what would that mean?...
In truth, some EC leaders (some bishops, cathedral deans and theology professors) have in recent years largely eschewed the heavy lifting of systematic and moral theology, preferring the more applied genres in which the key matters turn toward the psychological, therapeutic and pastoral, as well as toward calls for social justice. A few years ago a book was published with the title The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, which said that the evangelical movement in the U.S. had not so much forgotten how to think, but that it was intended to do without deep thinking. If there were a new book, "The Scandal of the Episcopal Mind," the conclusions might be disarmingly similar. The rise to prominence of liberal theology in the EC came along with disinclination toward theological depth, as well as a desire to ally the denomination with the more "progressive" American denominations. As one senior bishop told me, in choosing "justice" as the talisman for all actions and featuring inclusiveness as the badge of this new orthodoxy, the EC had taken a thin slice of theology—and of justice.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
The end of conciliarism, which accords with the practice of the early church, is to be regarded as tragic. The Anglican tragedy, like its medieval counterpart, may be seen as stemming from the reluctance of the central authority to relinquish or even dilute its control. This reluctance is not necessarily a matter of perversity, however. To be sure, the reluctance of Anglican Communion Office, instanced by their keeping the ACC in line in Jamaica, has seemed motivated by a desire to avoid offending TEC, which provides much of their funding. But from their perspective TEC’s financial support may appear essential for the proper functioning of the Communion. They have seemed concerned also to avoid alienating the liberal wing of the Church of England. But this may be not just out of ideological predisposition. It may also reflect a belief that the CofE could not afford the resulting exacerbation of its divisions.
To Archbishop Rowan himself, with his brilliant mind, deep learning, and winning personality, such considerations may have less application. The explanation in his case may lie more in his espousal of a theology militating against closure on any issue, and thus supportive of the inclinations of the Anglican Communion Office, as of the interests of TEC, by default. Charles Raven, in his 2010 book Shadow Gospel: the Theology of Rowan Williams and the Anglican Communion Crisis, made an impressive case to this effect. As for Rowan’s adherence to such a theology despite all his sophistication, being essentially an academic, without secular or even significant parish experience, perhaps limits his awareness of the outside world.
If, then, there is to be a revival of Anglican conciliarism, it will have to come not from the Instruments in their now compromised state but instead out of churches of the Global South, together with their Western allies. These churches have laid a basis for it already in Gafcon, their conference in Jerusalem in June 2008. There the Spirit was clearly at work, producing conciliarly the extraordinary Jerusalem Declaration. So far, despite the South-to-South Encounter in Singapore in April 2010 and the CAPA meeting in Uganda last August, the Global South leaders have not followed up on it. But by absenting themselves from the Dublin Primates’ Meeting and thereby sealing its irrelevance, they have taken on a responsibility to do so. For the sake of conciliarism and of Anglicanism itself, they need now, in American terms, to step up to the plate.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Consultative Council Anglican Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
John Sentamu needs to stay at York and not be sent to Canterbury, an archiepiscopal see of dubious seniority, anyway. He needs to stay at York because of the Lambeth Conference. This is a once-every-10-years get-together of all the archbishops and bishops of the world-wide Anglican Communion and the next such shindig is in 2008.
It will, however, be almost entirely a waste of time and money, a squabble over various matters, particularly homosexuality and, more specifically, bishops with same-sex partners.
It will be an occasion when we shall witness an almighty, ungodly showdown between tradionalists and liberals. And it will probably lead to the final break-up of the Anglican Communion, already seriously fractured over the gay issue.
--Michael Brown, the Yorkshire Post's Religious Affairs Correspondent, in a column on October 19, 2006
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Archbishop of York John Sentamu Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
Covenantal relationships are one way for Christians to live out their baptismal calling in the world. As the Church discerns the fruits of the Spirit in faithful commitments – such as households marked by compassion, generosity, and hospitality – these commitments become a blessing to the wider community. Blessing covenantal relationships, including same-gender unions, thus belongs to the mission of the Church in its ongoing witness to the good news of God-in-Christ and the Christian hope of union with God.
Read it all.
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It was “quite clear” the Toronto College of Bishops “made a decision not to abide by the moratorium on same sex blessings. Further, the College has decided that a diocese is at liberty to move ahead unilaterally in this matter,” Dr. Murray Henderson of the Diocese of Toronto, vice-chairman of the Anglican Communion Alliance in Canada, told The Church of England Newspaper.
“I regard this as a grave action endangering the catholic faith and order of the church,” he said, noting the Toronto bishops were “acting on the disputed assumption that the Provinces are now merely a loose federation of independent churches.”
“I very much doubt that Canon Kearon, speaking as he does for the Archbishop of Canterbury, has reversed his policy of not allowing members of churches which move beyond the common faith and order of the Communion to serve on international commissions such as ARCIC. It is therefore puzzling and disheartening that a member of the Diocese of Toronto has been so appointed,” Dr. Henderson said.
Read it all.
[Anglican TV] ATV: What’s the most important issue going on in the Anglican Communion today?
[Greg Venables] GV: The vast majority of Anglican leaders worldwide, together with Anglicans in general, want to get on with preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ: the fact that there is a message of hope, and love and forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ.
But we’ve hit a problem. And the problem is that within what we call the Anglican Communion there is a significant group, which unfortunately seems to dominate much of the public life of our church, which is suppressing the truth.
The reason why we feel this urgency is because it is clearer than ever, even within our own Church, that we are under the wrath of God. Now that is not something that people like to talk about very much, and it’s not a very pleasant subject, but it is an important one.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011 Anglican Provinces Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone] Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Provinces Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone] Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
Against this background, what is most remarkable about the Dublin meeting is that its working document on the Primates’ Meeting cites only the preliminary remarks of Archbishop [Donald] Coggan, but makes no mention whatsoever of the subsequent work done to implement those remarks by the Lambeth Conferences and the Covenant in specifying the role of the Primates’ Meeting, work that by now has been accepted by all the Instruments of Communion. As far as one can discern, this established understanding played no role at all in the deliberations at Dublin. While one might try to parse the provisions of the Dublin document to align it to greater or lesser extent with the accepted precedents, the simple fact is that those other sources were not acknowledged, were not quoted and were not even the subject of obvious paraphrase. Those meeting in Dublin staked no claim to continuity with the past, ignoring the will of the most authoritative of the Instruments of Communion—the Lambeth Conference of Bishops.
For all these reasons, the group of Primates who met in Dublin cannot be recognized as acting in accord with the accepted Communion understanding of the Primates’ Meeting as an Instrument of Communion. This Instrument thus joins the others as now being dysfunctional and lacking in communion credibility. The role of the Lambeth Conference as an Instrument of Communion is to “express episcopal collegiality worldwide.” But in 2008, when the bishops of most Anglicans “worldwide” were not present, it could not perform this function. It accomplished little of substance and is now regarded throughout much of the Communion as a symbol of futility. Similarly, the Anglican Consultative Council has been re-structured legally so that it is no longer recognizable as the Instrument defined in the Covenant or in past Anglican documents. The role of the Archbishop of Canterbury as an Instrument of Communion is to function as “a primacy of honor and respect among the college of bishops,” as “a focus and means of unity,” and the one who “gathers” the Lambeth Conference and Primates’ Meetings. Whatever may be said about the cause of the disintegration, it is incontrovertible empirically that Canterbury has been unable to perform this function over the last three years. The Communion thus finds itself with no working Instrument that has been able to perform its necessary function, follow its rules, and garner credible acceptance from the majority of the Communion.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011 Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
Today, less than 8 years after the 2003 emergency Primates Meeting, 15 of the Primates are no-shows. There is loss of trust and a sense that words and efforts are meaningless - that the Episcopal Church in particular will act unilaterally against the mind of the Provincial leaders and global Anglican witness.
The Episcopal Church continues to decline, with its membership the oldest among U.S. denominations and its internal reports showing no reliable sources or patterns of growth. In an Anglican Communion of some 80 million members, only about 700,000 Episcopalians attend services on an average Sunday. The [partnered] gay bishop consecrated in 2003 downsized his diocese, spent most of his time at gay movement and media events, and recently announced his retirement after less than a decade in office.
A [partnered] lesbian bishop was consecrated, and some gay and lesbian couples have had high profile ceremonies, including a recent lesbian union worded contentiously as a variation on the Prayer Book marriage rite.
So, a small, affluent, socially homogeneous inner circle of a very small denomination indulges its fancies at the cost of a diverse, global Christian fellowship - a fellowship whose leaders hung in with misrepresentations and broken commitments while trying to maintain bonds of affection. That is, until this 2011 Anglican Primates Meeting in Dublin.
Read it all and make sure to take special note of the numbers of Primates attending.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011 Primates Meeting Alexandria Egypt, February 2009 Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007 Instruments of Unity
The former Dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, Dr. Phillip Turner of the Anglican Communion Institute told CEN he was disappointed by the reports produced by the meeting. “Here we have reports on both the function and the organization of the Primates meeting that neither locate as an aspect of ecclesiology the office and role of a primate within a communion of churches nor speak of how the meeting and its standing committee are to address a province or diocese within the communion whose actions other Provinces do not recognize as in accord with scripture.”
“These reports are theologically vacuous,” Dean Turner said. “Sadly, they only display the fact that this Instrument has become dysfunctional. It has become dysfunctional because neither the Primates as a group nor the Primate who is primus inter pares were willing and able to address the actions” of the North American churches.
The “fabric” of the communion remains torn “because of a failure in leadership,” he said, noting that the “communion as we have known it is gone.”
Read it all.
From here (requires subscription) in an earlier [24 January] London Times story:
Speaking to The Times, Archbishop Gregory Venables, who retired in November as archbishop of the Southern Cone, but is chairman of the Primates’ Council for the GAFCON conservative group, said: “There are two main reasons a significant number are not going. “There has been no real consultative preparation. In the past, we have been given a paper five minutes before a meeting and told to discuss it. The other reason is that there has been no responsible carrying out of what was decided in the past.”
He said that the meetings, which are closed to the press, did not lend themselves to open debate, adding: “You go to these meetings and there is a kind of gagging gas in the atmosphere. It is almost like trench warfare. The gagging gas comes down, and it is as if people are unable to speak.”
This is significant in that it accords with what Bishop Mouneer Anis said; note that neither agrees with what Kenneth Kearon says about their reasons for conscientious non-participation--KSH.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Primates Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011 Anglican Provinces Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone] Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
Conservative primates say they are disillusioned by a lack of disciplinary action against the U.S. church, despite recommendations made at previous primates' meetings, and add that there had been a lack of consultation before the meeting.
The Anglican Communion said primates refusing to attend included those of the Indian Ocean, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Nigeria, South East Asia, the Southern Cone of Latin America, Uganda, and West Africa.
Last June, [Katharine Jefferts] Schori said that plans to discipline her church violated Anglican traditions, moving toward a centralized authority.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011 Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
There’s a dynamic of divergence in the Anglican Communion. It is absolutely clear to most people in the Anglican / Episcopal churches in North America that the gospel demands the full inclusion of gay people. It is absolutely clear to those who speak for most churches in the developing world (though not all) that this inclusiveness merely dilutes the gospel. It provides evidence that the churches in North America – and the UK is under intense suspicion as well – are falling into a decadent decline. They just can’t be trusted; the only thing to do is to change the whole structure radically, either from within, or through a totally new structure. The first is preferable of course, as it means you inherit the resources; but either is preferable to the status quo.
The thing which is the obvious gospel imperative for one side is for the other side an equally obvious sign of the opposite. Blessing same-sex relationships is an unavoidable call of faith – or a clear rejection of Christian values. Planting new churches is mere obedience to the call to proclaim the good news – or an obvious rejection of the body of Christ in the churches already present.
No wonder a moratorium can have no effect. But what can anyone then do? Maybe giving up blaming the ‘other’ would help: no-one can be asked to act against their conscience, however misguided any of us might think it is....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Church of England (CoE) Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s authority is inevitably also diminished by these events, especially when his invitation to fellow Anglican primates to gather to take counsel is one which, because of who is invited, a significant number of Primates cannot in conscience accept. It is clear that, barring a miracle, there cannot again be a Primates’ Meeting in which the Archbishop of Canterbury gathers all Anglican primates from across the Communion: either the Presiding Bishop of TEC is not invited as a primate in full and equal standing or a significant number of Primates will not attend. Although some of those associated with GAFCON have spoken openly of a non-Canterbury communion, this is, thankfully, something which few are actively seeking. It is, nevertheless, increasingly obvious that this will be the next pressure point on the trajectory which has been travelled since 2003 and increasingly rapidly since 2007-8. There needs, therefore, to be a recognition that if the Instruments are unable to make themselves “fit for purpose” and the see of Canterbury continues to prove unable or unwilling to act in ways that secure the unity in truth of the Anglican Communion then God in his providence may raise up one or more other Anglican metropolitans who are able to fulfil at least some of Canterbury’s traditional responsibilities in relation to the majority of the Communion.
It is a biblical principle that we reap what we sow. The actions of North American provinces since 2003, the actions in response from other provinces and the actions (and subsequent inaction) of Primates’ Meetings have reaped quite a whirlwind. Whatever happens in Ireland there will be further consequences as a result and for some Anglicans those consequences will be painful – there are no painless ways forward from our current situation. The danger is that actions this week will produce consequences that simply harden rather than constructively address the impasse over sexuality, further erode the Instruments’ authority and alienate the majority of the world’s Anglicans. Such consequences would also undermine the covenant as the best long-term means of providing commitments and agreed structures to prevent the repetition of the last eight years and place the Communion on a firmer footing.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
The Primates’ Meeting must be that place where the integrity of the Instrument is worked through. If one does not attend the Dublin gathering, it remains the case that the Primates as individual leaders and as a body must propose and resolve how they will gather and do their work. Physical attendance may not be necessary at the month’s end and it is not going to happen anyway. But it remains the case that the composition and good working of the Primates as a Meeting, as a council, must be addressed by the Primates. How will they do this?
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Episcopal Church (TEC) Instruments of Unity * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Unlike some rites for blessing same-sex couples, the rite from Massachusetts repeatedly invoked the language and theology of marriage, occasionally revising the language of the Book of Common Prayer (1979).
“We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of these women in Holy Matrimony,” said the liturgy authorized and celebrated by Bishop Shaw. “Holy Scripture tells us that all love is from God, and the commitment of marriage signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and the Church.”
The rite also invoked marriage with a reading from the opinion by Margaret H. Marshall, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, in the case of Goodridge v. Department of Health.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology Seminary / Theological Education
....Dr. Radner takes issue with our description of a consensus: that a few should not be able to prevent an action representing the wish of the vast majority. He seems to imply that the conscience of the few should count. If so, then what does he make of those people, priests, Dioceses and Provinces who cannot go along with the supposed “virtual unanimity” in the communion? His claim validates positional authority, vested in the current Instruments of Communion, to override the eddies underneath the surface. We acknowledge that the Christian tradition has opposed homosexual relationships of any kind. It is a strong tradition which must have its respected voice. From our pastoral engagement, however, we realise that the received tradition on homosexuality no longer holds sway over significant number of people in our Diocese. We respect that it still has authority over many among us, and within a vast majority of Anglicans in the world whose contexts are not ours. But what of those who in good conscience, like the homosexually inclined person described by Rowan Williams, do not agree with it? They, too, are caught between holding together their loyalty to their conscience and their loyalty to the Communion, and in parts of Canada and elsewhere, loyalty to their bishop. This is certainly a difficult tension, but hardly a new or an impossible position in which to be. We ask again, but will they be given the same protection and freedom customarily extended to theological minorities in the Diocese of Toronto and is extended again clearly in the Guidelines? All too often majority is invoked to force compliance. When that happens we are not talking about authority, only power, and it frequently backfires. When the majority fails to listen to the real needs and pains of the minority, and when they do not help work out a legitimate way to accommodate, the minority often act inappropriately. We, as bishops of Toronto, by these Guidelines aim at foreswearing coercion and are willing to live in the tensions created while continued discernment is engaged. We appeal to others to do the same.
But neither will we be coerced. This can come from many directions, from those who believe we are too timid and from those who believe we are too bold. In the end, those who have power in the Communion will decide what to do with Dr. Radner’s accusation and do with us what they will, or not. We on our part are happy to maintain the bonds of affection with all members of the Communion, and eager to collaborate in Christ’s mission with any who are willing. We are also eager to continue the dialogue and listening that Professor O’Donovan commends and have committed ourselves to those processes across the Communion. While ready to make an account of our actions, we do not make a habit of answering every charge in public, but a person of Dr. Radner’s stature warrants an exception.
Read it all and note that Dr. Radner has responded to their response.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
...the issue goes beyond an interchange of views. What has happened is that TEC has demonstrated repeatedly an incapacity or unwillingness to deal with the views of the rest of the Communion with actual Christian responsibility. Such responsibility is assumed in council and by respecting the decisions of council.
TEC will do this on several bases: Communion councils have no legislative authority, she says, and therefore do not require adherence; majority votes by global South patriarchs are intrinsically undemocratic, and so should not be granted power; the Kingdom of God favors diverse viewpoints, and so uniform actions in the Communion are actually unfaithful. But the main reason TEC gives for not deferring to the decisions of the Communion’s representative bodies is that she is being “prophetic”, and therefore is being called by God quite precisely to oppose and subvert these decisions.
The self-given prophetic mantle is a claim that is difficult to argue against, by definition. But it is worth noting that the convenience of this difficulty is itself a major part of the problem in the Communion: TEC has adopted a self-identity that cannot be questioned and overturned, and thereby she has become impervious to all reason. This is not just a matter of style, as though the point is “let’s all tone down our rhetoric” – a suggestion one hears a good bit, as if talking more quietly would solve our problems. No: at issue here is that TEC has laid out a way of approaching disagreement that brooks no compromise, and therefore makes impossible constructive engagement altogether. On this matter, I commend a fine essay by Cathleen Kaveny in the recent volume Intractable Disputes about the Natural Law: Alisdair MacIntyre and his Critics (Notre Dame, 2009). Kaveny, hardly a right-wing shill, ably points out how reasoned moral discourse in America especially has been utterly eviscerated of common avenues of engagement largely because of “prophetic” commitments to ideological fixities that finally amount to self-blinding.
But there is more to this prophetic self-designation: its effect of moral intransigence is simply contrary to the specifically Christian vocation of deferring to the Body, a vocation that asks that we “not insist on our own way” (1 Cor. 13:5), and “count others as better than ourselves” (Philippians 2;3)....
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This is the third in a series of essays on the proposed Anglican Covenant.” The first, entitled “Communion, Order and Dissent,” attempted to present what might be called the inner logic of the covenant–a logic that rests upon a commitment by all the provinces to “mutual subjection within the body of Christ.” The second had the subtitle “On How To Dissent within a Communion of Churches.” Its purpose was to show that communion, as understood by Anglicans, must have as a part of its ideation an understanding of how to dissent from common belief and practice. Apart from such an understanding communion cannot survive the inevitable disagreements that arise within and between its member churches. This third essay explores ways to address dissent that serve to sustain communion even in the face of actions that plainly are at odds with Christian belief and practice as “recognized” within the Anglican Communion. If an agreed upon understanding of the nature of dissent is necessary to sustain and strengthen communion, so also is an agreed upon understanding of appropriate ways to address dissent. No matter how deep their divisions may be these are questions the Primates dare not ignore if the communion of Anglicans is to be sustained.
In the near term, however, it is a virtual certainty that they will address neither the question of dissent nor that of response to dissent. The Archbishop of Canterbury has invited the Primates to meet in Dublin, but he has done so in a way that guarantees that no significant business will be done. By inviting the Primate of a Church that has acted against the request of all the Instruments of Communion he has called for a meeting a significant number of Primates feel they in good conscience cannot attend. In view of these circumstances, there seems no good reason to call such a meeting. What of any possible value can be achieved?
A primary Instrument of Communion appears to have reached an impasse. The Communion’s mechanisms for sustaining communion have become dysfunctional. A part of the reason for this sad state of affairs is what the Bible calls “hardness of heart.” A part, however, stems from a lack of understanding of how to dissent and how to respond to dissent within a communion of churches.
This essay addresses the question of response to dissent....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
For the Anglican Communion, 2010 was not a year on which it could look back with undiluted pleasure. While not quite the Annus Horribilis that was 2003, the communion remained divided and distracted, nursing a colossal hangover watered by decades of doctrinal abandon. While individual provinces, dioceses and church movements flourished in different parts of the globe—as an international body the Anglican Communion ended 2010 crapulous, dispirited and decrepit.
The pace of decline has quickened: 2008 saw the collapse of the Lambeth Conference as a pan-Anglican body, losing its credibility through the absence of a majority of the African bishops and its rationale for being; 2009 witnessed the breakdown of the Anglican Consultative Council at its meeting in Kingston; and 2010 foreshadowed the end of the primates meeting as a credible body of leadership for the wider church and a mounting distrust of the London-based bureaucracy.
On Nov 7, 2006 the Primate of Uganda, Archbishop Henry Orombi told his general synod: “There is a proverb that says, ‘When America sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold’.”
Beware “the sickness that is coming from America,” he warned.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Primates Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
In short when communion is not sustained by a central juridical authority but by mutual recognition and submission within the body of Christ, there must be a means of dissent that coheres with these formative commitments. There must also be a means of addressing dissent that retains communion between a dissenting province and the Communion as a whole. Ecclesial disobedience as set forth above provides both an instrument of dissent and a response that prevents communion from lapsing into constantly dividing segments.
How are mutually recognized forms of belief, practice and worship to be sustained within a communion that does not have and does not want a centralized juridical structure? Given Anglicanism’s commitment to locally adapted expression of Christian belief and practice, in a world of competing nationalisms a covenant based upon mutual recognition and mutual subjection within the body of Christ is the only way I see to achieve this goal. Nevertheless, a shared understanding of dissent within a covenant relation must be part of the way in which the Communion sustains its common life. Apart from such an understanding, those who dissent will have no wisdom about the proper way to express their dissent, the Instruments and provinces of the Communion will have no wisdom about how to respond, and the Communion as a whole will inevitably devolve into a federation or (worse) a host of fragments that once formed a remarkable example of catholic Christianity.
To return to the beginning of this essay, the Archbishop of Canterbury, TEC’s Presiding Bishop, the ACO and the Primates will all be involved in the upcoming meeting in Ireland. Whether they admit to it or not, the question of dissent within a communion of churches will rest just under the surface of all their conversations. One can only hope and pray that the issue raised in this essay, the nature of ecclesiastical dissent, will rise to the surface of their conversations and receive the sort of attention that will allow the Anglican Communion to retain its identity, its unity and its integrity.
More concretely, the issue is this. What steps can the Primates take when they meet to bring the question of dissent out in the open where it belongs? There is an answer to this question, and it involves all the players that will come to Dublin. First, because it is the Archbishop of Canterbury who “gathers” the Primates and because his office is the primary locus of moral authority within the communion, the answer begins with him. He has authority to set the agenda for the Primates Meeting, and he should announce publically that the issue of TEC’s dissent from the moral authority of the Instruments is on the agenda. Further, if as is rumored, the Presiding Bishop has refused a request voluntarily to withdraw, the Archbishop should employ his authority to gather and withdraw her invitation....
Read it all.
The Covenant sets some of the credal statements of the Christian faith in a specific framework. The premise of this framework is that the doctrinal and theological disagreements which have surfaced within the Communion are not about fundamentals but have arisen through problems in communication and understanding, as people have differing convictions.
Are the doctrinal and theological matters in current dispute matters of right and wrong, truth and error, or matters of personal conviction over which better communication will produce unity and harmony? The Covenant process is only capable of dealing with disagreements of the latter kind. Better communication in such a framework requires an attitude of openness, a process of listening and adequate time. So the Covenant puts in place such a decision-making process in the Communion....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Covenant Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
The GAFCON statement notes a third sad fact about the Anglican Communion today:
The third fact is the manifest failure of the Communion Instruments to exercise discipline in the face of overt heterodoxy. The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, in proclaiming this false gospel, have consistently defied the 1998 Lambeth statement of biblical moral principle (Resolution 1.10). Despite numerous meetings and reports to and from the ‘Instruments of Unity,’ no effective action has been taken, and the bishops of these unrepentant churches are welcomed to Lambeth 2008. To make matters worse, there has been a failure to honour promises of discipline, the authority of the Primates’ Meeting has been undermined and the Lambeth Conference has been structured so as to avoid any hard decisions. We can only come to the devastating conclusion that ‘we are a global Communion with a colonial structure’.
This third fact is also in line with the observation of Metropolitan Hilarion that the source of false teaching and lax discipline in the Communion has its origins in the “North and the West,” that is to say, in Canterbury’s own jurisdiction. I have noted elsewhere that the “Instruments of Unity” as currently constituted are under the sway of the “Lambeth bureaucracy,” and hence the ecumenical failure of Anglicanism can only be laid at the door of Canterbury himself. This tough fact is exactly what Hilarion has brought to the banquet table at Lambeth Palace.
So GAFCON and the Orthodox share the sober critique of contemporary Anglicanism. It would be facile to say that today’s Anglican confessors are of one mind with the Orthodox. Surely there are issues of substance and ongoing discussion between the two.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Archbishop of Canterbury Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Orthodox Church * Theology Ecclesiology
To repeat the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury: “But again ‘pastoral response’ has been interpreted very differently and there are those […] who would say: ‘Well, pastoral response means rites of blessing’, and I’m not very happy about that.” The Archbishop is not alone in his feelings. But the bishops of the Diocese of Toronto have decided to pour more fuel upon the smoldering flames of that unhappiness.
Interestingly, the Toronto Guidelines tell us that parishes can go forward with requesting to be designated as places where same-sex blessings can be performed only when some kind of “consensus” within it has been found on the matter. This is further explained as follows: “Consensus is not total agreement; however, every effort should be made to reach a decision where everyone feels heard and is willing to live with the wider body’s decision.” This is explicitly qualified in this manner: “The way forward should not be achieved or prevented by a few taking an opposing view to the vast majority”.
An obvious question arises in the face of this definition of consensus and its requirements: is there in fact a “consensus” of this kind in the Diocese of Toronto around the motives, meaning, and substance of the new Guidelines? The process for putting the Guidelines together precluded such a consensus, and the implementation of the Guidelines moves forward without it. How should those within, but also those outside of the diocese interpret this failure to discern consensus? For we should also ask another and related question: where do the bishops of the Diocese of Toronto stand vis a vis the “consensus” of the Communion’s bishops and her “consultative organs”, a consensus that in fact is equivalent in this case to a unanimity? Do they stand with the “vast majority”? Or do they stand with “a very few taking an opposing view” that is thereby seeking to “prevent” a “way forward” towards the healing of the Communion? Does this matter to them?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Pastoral Care * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
So, who wants an Anglican covenant? For some reason it is never acknowledged that the only province to sign up so far is Mexico, whose primate is a Patron of Inclusive Church (the other province close to signing is that well-known neo-Puritan African province, South Africa). He perhaps wants it for the same reasons many others have welcomed it.
The covenant will, for example, force the Church of England to stop thinking of itself simply as, in the words of the advertisement, ‘the mother church of the Communion’ whose actions are so important that on its own it can prevent developments such as the covenant. It will create a more egalitarian and post-colonial international fellowship of churches affirming not simply an English 'mother church' but a common inheritance of faith and shared vision of life together “in communion with autonomy and accountability” (3.1.2). That will then shape their commitments, including mutual accountability, to one another and to a pattern of life marked by such virtues as spending time "with openness and patience in matters of theological debate and reflection, to listen, pray and study with one another in order to discern the will of God" (3.2.3).
Above all, the covenant will hopefully help refocus the Church of England and all covenanting churches on mission. That mission is not, as in the advert, defined by whether or not some outside the church are ‘put off by the Church’s apparent reluctance to change’. It is rather ‘God’s call to undertake evangelisation’ and ‘share in the healing and reconciling mission’ of God in Christ ‘"for our blessed but broken, hurting and fallen world"’ (2.2.1).
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Covenant Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Instruments of Unity Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
All these machinations we are hearing from the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. concerning steps being taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC) and the governing structures of the Anglican Communion because we snub our nose and refuse to abide by a couple requests made of us by those bodies, increasingly smacks of people who are used to getting their way, but no longer can.
Now, honestly, I have to admit that abiding by these two requests will impact my life, but only minimally. What I have to acknowledge is that I don't always get my way, I don't have a "right" to anything within the Church or the Body of Christ, and that I consider myself to be part of a Church that is Catholic - all of these things cause me to recognize, acknowledge, and abide by things I don't like, think is fair, or consider to be right. It isn't all about me or my group. By saying that, I do not even consider that I stop advocating for myself, my group, what I think to be God's will, what I believe to be right for the good order, safety, and benefit of all, and an advocate for those who are terribly abused by other Anglicans around the world and demand that they stop their abuse.
Soon, "imperialist" America will have to deal with the rest of the world standing up to us. How will we as a people and as a nation act when this really starts to happen in earnest? Will we join the rest of the world as equal partners or... will we continue to act like imperialists and attempt to force our will on the world or... will we retreat into isolationism?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
In his Oct 14 press release, Canon Kearon said “I have not received a response” to this request for “clarification” from the Southern Cone.
Canon Kearon’s claim, however, is at odds with Bishop Venables’ memory, as he reports having had two telephone conversations with Canon Kearon and one with Dr. Williams about this issue.
Bishop Venables further stated that he told Dr. Williams and Canon Kearon in the three conversations that he could not give a definitive answer to Canon Kearon’s letter until after the meeting of the Southern Cone standing committee.
A spokesman for the ACC confirmed that Canon Kearon had indeed “followed up with two phone calls” his June letter to Bishop Venables. However, the secretary general had “received no clarification as to the current state of his interventions by mid July as requested,” ACC spokesman Jan Butter said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Consultative Council Anglican Provinces Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone] Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
Obviously, the most problemmatic portion of the proposed Anglican Covenant is Section Four which deals with processes and procedures should one Province or “instrument” of the Communion feel that another Province has failed to live into the implications of the Covenant and caused serious stress and strain for sisters and brothers elsewhere, stretching or even breaking the bond of Communion the Covenant is supposed to enhance.
This is obviously a new development for the Anglican Communion. We have always seen ourselves as interdependent but autonomous Provinces bound together primarily by our approaches to the Bible and the Liturgy and by our historic ties to the See of Canterbury and the Church of England. This relationship has served us well in the past but, with globalization and worldwide communication and our now-decades-old developing self-understanding as a global Communion (“the third largest communion of Christians after the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox”) do we not need something more now as a kind of skeletal structure to bind us together.
Read it all.
Primates from the Global South are contemplating a boycott of the next Primates’ Meeting because the US Presiding Bishop, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, will be present.
The Archbishop of the Indian Ocean, the Most Revd Ian Ernest, has confirmed that he will not attend the meeting, due to take place in Dublin, 25-31 January.
Archbishop Ernest said last week that he had written to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the summer to convey his distress at the election in the United States of the Rt Revd Mary Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, as Bishop of Los Angeles. He had urged Dr Williams to exclude Dr Jefferts Schori from future Primates’ Meetings.
“There were conditions attached in that letter,” he said last week, “and I can confirm I will not attend if those conditions are not fulfilled.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Anglican Provinces Anglican Province of the Indian Ocean Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
In sum, I see the Lambeth Conference as the only real continuity into the future; Canterbury as a possible, if hoped-for, resource for the future; the Primates’ Meeting as giving way to some alternative Global South-oriented gathering of episcopal leaders that can move matters forward into the future in a provisional way (which may involve several decades); and the ACC as altogether finished. And this is perhaps all the Communion needs at the moment: we are learning to be less demanding of immediate solutions; more patient with less structured relations; more open to a future that does not depend on institutional sturdiness, but on God’s provisions and leading; less trusting in an ecclesial politics of maneuver and control; more joyous in the face of the Cross and the Resurrection. And in the course of such learning, individual Anglicans and their congregations are going to be drawn into new forms of witness, ones they perhaps never imagined, in a sense more globally bonded because less tethered to structures whose strength lay in local orderings we have now outgrown.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Consultative Council Anglican Primates Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity * Theology Ecclesiology
When the Anglican Communion started to unravel in 2007, following the Archbishop of Canterbury's unexplained decision to invite the American bishops to Lambeth 2008, even before the deadline for their compliance with certain restraints imposed by the primates, and the subsequent attempt to pretend that the 'deadline' was nothing of the kind, Bishop Mouneer [Anis] stood out as someone who was not prepared to break with the central organs of the Communion.
Unlike many other primates from the developing world, he continued to believe that the processes envisaged by the Windsor Report (2004) and the proposed Anglican Covenant, sponsored by the Archbishop of Canterbury as the answer to the Communion's incoherence as an ecclesial body, were good and necessary solutions to the church's problems. Accused of being naive by some of those who went on to form the FCA, Bishop Mouneer stuck by Rowan Williams and became one of his strongest backers. His public statements are full of praise for him and often quote him at some length, a degree of devotion which must make him virtually unique in the Anglican world.
Alas, Bishop Mouneer's reward for this extraordinary loyalty has been meagre. At one point he specifically asked the ACC to hold back on a statement it was going to issue because he was on a pastoral visit elsewhere in the Middle East and would not have time to consider it until his return to Cairo. He was ignored, and the ACC went ahead without him, making only the shortest of apologies when it realised that it had caused offence. Dr. Williams, who seems to have all the time in the world for Ms Schori, never rushed off to Cairo or showed any public concern for Bishop Mouneer's position. He could not ignore the bishop's resignation of course, but his official statement was perfunctory in the extreme and betrayed no sign of any sympathy for the reasons which compelled him to leave.
Bishop Mouneer could easily have camouflaged his resignation in the way that people often do. He could have pleaded the burdens of office or the dangers of stress and ill health. He might even have said that it was time for someone else to take his place, and pretended that he was stepping down in order to give others a chance. He did none of those things.
Instead, he told the truth....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
When it comes to the controversy about blessing non-celibate same sex unions among Anglicans, the issue needs to be carefully defined--both in terms of what it is and in terms of what it is not.
A long time ago, at General Convention in 2003, I spoke on this matter and began this way:
....[I] am very concerned that our categories are clear at the outset. This isn't a debate about who is included; Christ invites and includes all people. This isn't a debate about pastoral care, which is the church's living out her theology in practice that varies greatly depending on the circumstances. There is a distinction between orientation and practice that has to be kept in mind, people have urges and inclinations and desires but we need to distinguish between having them and acting on them. Finally, this is about the call of God to his church and its leadership to be holy as God is holy.
It is VITAL that the traditional position is correctly defined since it is so often mischaracterized and recently even caricatured in this discussion. Professor Gerard S. Sloyan puts it this way, "The physical attraction of adults of both sexes to..the opposite sex is natural and to those of the same sex is not necessarily perverse. Only when such attraction is acted upon is it ethically wrong: for Christian, Jew and Muslim it is sin." He also writes: "Marriage both is and is meant to be the normal outlet for sexual activity, while for unmarried Christians of whichever orientation no other is envisioned" (Theology Today, July 2003 edition, pp. 159-160; and 156).
Notice carefully what Professor Sloyan is saying: there are only two states of human existence, singleness, and marriage. Therefore there are NO relationships outside of marriage which the church can officially sanction as places where sexual activity may be celebrated
Not long after the Episcopal Church's General Convention in 2006, Archbishop Rowan Williams wrote the Anglican Communion as a whole in a letter entitled "The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today" in which he made a similar attempt to distinguishing what the issue is and what it is not:
Unless you think that social and legal considerations should be allowed to resolve religious disputes – which is a highly risky assumption if you also believe in real freedom of opinion in a diverse society – there has to be a recognition that religious bodies have to deal with the question in their own terms. Arguments have to be drawn up on the common basis of Bible and historic teaching. And, to make clear something that can get very much obscured in the rhetoric about ‘inclusion’, this is not and should never be a question about the contribution of gay and lesbian people as such to the Church of God and its ministry, about the dignity and value of gay and lesbian people. Instead it is a question, agonisingly difficult for many, as to what kinds of behaviour a Church that seeks to be loyal to the Bible can bless, and what kinds of behaviour it must warn against – and so it is a question about how we make decisions corporately with other Christians, looking together for the mind of Christ as we share the study of the Scriptures.
The church's standard for human behavior has been clear: faithfulness for those who are married, and abstinence for those who are single. This means that anyone who is single, a sinner like the rest of us, who pledges that they are upholding the church's teaching in their life and ministry is eligible in theory for a position in church leadership.
If you keep this in mind, and you keep in mind what was already known about Rowan Williams before he became the Archbishop of Canterbury, then you will see that notwithstanding some poor headlines and other comments about it, the Times interview today breaks little new ground.
In a crucial section of the Times interview today, Ginny Dougary does us no favors by using this language: "Much of this discord hinges on the interpretation of whether or not the Bible permits openly homosexual clergy." This is good on the Bible permits part, but not good on the "open" part because she fails to make the crucial distinction between orientation and practice. When she says "open" what she means is someone in a non-celibate same sex partnership and clear about that in numerous public settings.
She then cites a now famous chapter Rowan Williams wrote in a book entitled "the Body's Grace": “If we are looking for a sexual ethic that can be seriously informed by our Bible, there is a good deal to steer us away from assuming that reproductive sex is a norm.” Notice, however, that the quote that she gives is incomplete. The full quote is this (and it is all the same sentence): "In other words, if we are looking for a sexual ethic that can be seriously informed by our Bible, there is a good deal to steer us away from assuming that reproductive sex is a norm, however important and theologically significant it may be".
The article goes on this way: "'When I read this out, he replies: “That’s what I wrote as a theologian, you know, putting forward a suggestion. That’s not the job I have now.”"
Dr. Williams here reflects a distinction he understands between the role of an academic theologian and the role of an Archbishop, where his being a catholic Christian and seeking to guard the church's unity takes primacy over other matters. He has made this point in numerous settings over the years.
The article continues a bit later as follows:
One can also see that the spectre of the Communion being sundered on his watch must weigh heavily on him. “Yes, I believe that the Church suffers appallingly when it begins to fall apart – and its mission suffers in other ways, too. But on your specifics – the fact is that since the 1998 Lambeth Conference, every single public pronouncement on the question of sexuality has underlined the distinction between civic liberties and human dignity for gay people, which have always been affirmed, and whether or not the church has the right to bless same-sex unions or ordain people in same-sex unions. Now I know that those two are blurred but the point has always been made.”
Once again we see Rowan Williams the theologian making the necessary distinctions, exactly the distinctions so often missing not only in media accounts but in the church debates themselves.
Ginny Dougary is not satisfied:
But why shouldn’t gay couples be blessed if we are all equal? “The Church isn’t answerable to an abstract idea of equality, or rather it can certainly say everyone is equal in the sight of God. But what forms of life does the Church have the freedom to bless? The Church is obedient to Revelation. Now if you believe it’s very clear in Revelation that the only relation that can be blessed is between a man and a woman, then you’ve got a problem.”.
This sounds like the man who wrote the whole Anglican communion in 2006 and said "it is a question, agonisingly difficult for many, as to what kinds of behaviour a Church that seeks to be loyal to the Bible can bless, and what kinds of behaviour it must warn against...."
And later in the interview we get the same distinction:
To put it very simply, there’s no problem about a gay person who’s a bishop.” Really? “It’s about the fact that there are traditionally, historically, standards that the clergy are expected to observe. So there’s always a question about the personal life of the clergy.”
This latter part of this article is the one eliciting the most headlines, but if it is seen in the context of the many statements Rowan Williams has made while Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as in the context of the full Times article, it is not anything genuinely new. It is, however, the most he has said about it publicly in a good while--KSH
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * By Kendall * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
The (London) Times has major space devoted today to the current Archbishop of Canterbury and an interview they got with him recently.
The main article, entitled "Meet the Archbishop of Canterbury" and based on an interview with Ginny Dougary, is here. The best thing to do by far is to read the whole article carefully, but there are two problems with that. First, it is [as are all Times stories now] behind a paywall, and, second, it is very long (12 pages in a Word document including the book excerpt at the end). An article about the interview may be found there. It carries the unfortunate and wildly misleading headline "Gay bishops are all right by me, says Archbishop." There is also an editorial on the Dr. Williams interview here which bears the title "Mission Statement."
As if all this isn't enough, there is also an analysis article by Ruth Gledhill there, bearing the title "The Archbishop of Canterbury is treading an impossible path," and an entry on Ruth Gledhill's ["Articles of Faith"] blog about it here with the title "Rowan Williams and the questions of unity and truth."
Now I do not have a copy of the physical paper but I would guess the story with the misleading headline is on the front page. In any event, given that there are already five parts of the paper giving their attention to this matter, it is clear that the Times wants a big result. Unsurprisingly, they are getting what they want, in that there are numerous articles from other media about the Times interview, and in addition parts of the blogosphere are all atwitter on the matter.
I would strongly urge people not to come to any firm conclusions about this interview based on one or two snippets of the interview or articles or a few blog comments about it. I would say this anyway, but especially insist on it in this instance for a number of reasons. First, to be charitable about it, Rowan Williams' language is not always "user friendly" (when I describe him to friends who ask in detail I sometimes call him "the gnome" and I have said elsewhere that "you will not understand him unless you understand that he is a scholar, a Trinitarian and catholic Christian, a mystic and an iconoclast."). Second, in the paper itself in which the interview appears, the aggressive hostility of the U.K. secular establishment to the church's traditional position on human sexuality continuously influences the articles, which makes them misleading or worse. The terrible headline has already been mentioned above. The editorial, to cite another example, mentions the action of the Anglican Church in Uganda in 2007 when John Guernsey (who is not mentioned) was consecrated an Anglican Bishop, but not the action of the Anglican Church in Nigeria when Martyn Minns was consecrated which occurred in 2006. It also describes the action in a way the Anglican Church in Uganda would not agree with, and couches the whole narrative in a typically Northern-hemisphere centered way, leaving out the actions of the Episcopal Church and our crucial role in the crisis. Third, we then have the articles about the interview which themselves are full of distortions and misleading elements. My wife called on the way to the airport to say that the NPR headlines about the interview were worded so as to give a misleading impression, and I see other headlines that give confusing impressions as well.
So be careful as to how you digest this--KSH.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * By Kendall * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ecclesiology
(Please note that the video for this address was posted last evening--KSH).
Finally, but not the least, we cannot shy away from the state we are in. We cannot afford to continue to lurch from one crisis to the next in our beloved Communion. Despite attempts to warn some western provinces, action has been taken to irrevocably shatter the Communion. Sadly existing structures of the Anglican Communion have been unable to address the need for discipline. These can become irrelevant to our needs as Africans and are now, moreover, unrepresentative demographically. We need new structures that are credible and representative of the majority.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source Anglican Provinces Anglican Province of the Indian Ocean Church of Uganda Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * International News & Commentary Africa
Armed with a new $400,000 grant and the support of the Episcopal Church, a Berkeley seminary is convening priests from across the country to craft the liturgical rite for same-sex couples to receive religious blessings.
The new rite, which will take years to complete, will most likely consist of a series of original prayers, Bible readings and two essays: one on the theological meaning of same-sex blessings, and one advising priests who administer the new rite. If approved, the new blessing would be just the third addition to Episcopal liturgy since 1979.
“This is very significant,” said the Rev. Ruth Meyers, chairwoman of the church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, who is heading the effort. “It does acknowledge a fuller participation of gays and lesbians in the life of the church.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Consultative Council Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology
In light of these developments, we draw the following conclusions:
* It is not appropriate for one of the Communion’s four Instruments to be an English company regulated by UK and EU law like any other UK company. To repeat what we said above, we do not question the need for the proper and efficient management of the Communion’s charitable assets by fiduciaries complying with all relevant laws. We are not convinced, however, that this role should be confused with the historic role of the Instruments of Communion in “the discernment, articulation and exercise of our shared faith and common life and mission” and in particular with the role of the Communion’s Primatial leadership, which bears special responsibility for “doctrinal, moral and pastoral matters that have Communion-wide implications.” (Covenant 3.1.4.)
* We urge the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates not to cede their independent authority to the corporate charter of the ACC, but to insist that their authority cannot be infringed by the ACC.
* It is now beyond doubt that the newly transformed and empowered ACC Standing Committee cannot function as the committee required by Section 4 of the Covenant.
* The Covenant remains the only hope for preserving the traditional faith and order of the Anglican Communion. We call upon member churches of the Anglican Communion to adopt the Covenant with all deliberate speed and, having done so, to make proper arrangements for the responsibilities assigned to the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion in Section 4 to be undertaken by a body that has both the competence and ability to assess threats to the Communion and recommend appropriate action.
Read it carefully and read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Consultative Council Episcopal Church (TEC) Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
The Rev. Stockton Wulsin, pastor of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Evanston, resigned effective Sept. 30.
He told his congregation in a letter dated July 19 - the same day the church's Vestry issued a letter to church members confirming that it had accepted the resignation.
In his letter, which Wulsin said was not intended for the public, the priest cited two reasons for his decision. "The Anglican Communion has been in a state of crisis for several years over the choice of the American Episcopal Church to ordain bishops living in openly homosexual relationships and to pronounce liturgical blessings on people living in same sex relationships."
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Ecclesiology
When asked by the American Anglican Council for the minutes of this December meeting, Anglican Communion Office officials told us that they were not yet available as they needed to be approved at next week's meeting. For now, we are left to guess why Janet Trisk, a white priest and lawyer, was chosen to replace a black laywoman on the SCAC if their intent was to promote diversity. Are we to understand that there was really no other qualified lay representative from Africa who could replace Ms.Walaza? And was there not even another qualified clergy representative from Africa who could take her place until such a lay representative could be found? (See the ACC roster here) Is it merely a coincidence that Janet Trisk played a major role at ACC-14 in delaying and bottling up Section 4 of the Anglican Covenant, as documented on video by Anglican TV and live-blogged on Stand Firm in Faith by AAC Communications Officer Robert Lundy, and that her participation on the SCAC will almost certainly further the agenda of those who would weaken an already-weakened Anglican Covenant?
And what about those new "proposed bylaws" of the SCAC - can we have a look at them? Again, in the words of Mr. Butter from the Anglican Communion Office (ACO):
Asked if copies of the proposed new bylaws were available for review, the ACO responded that "discussions about the Articles are still ongoing between the legal advisor and the Charity Commission, so they are not yet available."
Is it any wonder that the majority of the Anglicans in the Global South, and the GAFCON Primates, have concluded that the ACC, the SCAC and its unpublished bylaws are simply a tool for the West to continue to exercise colonial hegemony over the rest of the Anglican Communion?
Read it all.
(By George Conger)
Observance of the Anglican Consultative Council's bylaws are discretionary, a spokesman for the organization tells The Church of England
ACC spokesman Jan Butter told CEN the future membership rules of the organization which seek to promote gender parity take precedence over its existing rules.
However, the Archbishop of Canterbury's press spokesman tells The Church of England Newspaper, the ACC staff's views are not the final word on the matter, as the appointment of Bishop Ian Douglas and Canon Janet Trisk to the ACC Standing Committee are under legal review.
Read it all.
A year ago, after analyzing carefully the chaotic vote on the Trisk amendment in Jamaica, we expressed the “hope that this will further demonstrate to the Communion the corrosive effect the current conflict and the efforts of those who seek to defeat or disable the Covenant are having in the Communion.” We have to conclude, however, that in the past year this hope has not been realized and the corrosion has only spread. Many of the primary players at Jamaica are now on the Standing Committee itself and they freely denounce and try to subvert the very Covenant they are to administer. TEC’s Presiding Bishop, like Dr. Fitchett calls the Covenant “un-Anglican,” challenges the Archbishop of Canterbury’s understanding of Pentecost and dismisses canonical requirements of the Church of England as “nonsense.” In reply, a Lambeth Palace official noted pointedly that one of the statements made by the Presiding Bishop was not true. The Secretary General notes that TEC does not “share the faith and order of the vast majority of the Anglican Communion” and that some Communion discussions are “at the point of collapse.” The Secretary General interrupted his vacation to meet with TEC’s Executive Council at its request only to be treated rudely while he was there and ridiculed after he left. Five resignations have been reported by the ACC Standing Committee in the last six months, and the Secretary General described its last meeting as the “worst meeting” of his life.
The Communion can hardly tolerate another year like the last one. It is essential that the Communion have structures that work in the midst of ongoing crises in several churches of the Communion. The corrosive effect we spoke of a year ago must now be addressed as a matter of urgency. Five things are needed....
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That we have reached this stage in our common life is a sign that as a Communion we have failed and are failing to present “a true sign of hope in a world of bitter conflict and rivalry”. Although the removal of provinces from representative ecumenical and faith and order functions is now a necessity this does not entail – as the Archbishop has repeatedly stated – an ending of all relationships. The issues of sexuality that have triggered this conflict will not go away and they continue to be live issues in many provinces of the Communion. The Continuing Indaba Project is one means of seeking to keep conversations going on various issues and to deepen mission relationships even in the midst of the differentiation now being implemented at other levels of the Communion and it would appear, from the letter, that other possible patterns of ongoing conversation are being discussed.
For almost a decade the actions of the American church and groups within it and the responses to these by other provinces have often dominated the life of the Instruments as well as damaging our united mission. The decision to confirm and consecrate Mary Glasspool was a clear signal that the American church is unwilling to heed the pleas of the wider Communion and desist from such divisive actions....
The Archbishop’s letter is perhaps in part an attempt to defuse the current difficulties by acknowledging that there is a fundamentally different vision of faith and order in TEC and releasing key Communion institutions – the Instruments, faith and order and ecumenical bodies – from being caught up in the tensions and conflicts that result from this reality. By removing those responsible for breaches of the moratoria from these bodies, they may be better able to focus on their task as Instruments of communion and the church’s mission. Alongside this, the tensions and disagreements over issues related to the moratoria may now be able to be addressed in other contexts which are less symbolically significant and where the issues that continue to divide us can be addressed without being distorted by the recent history of difficult meetings of the Instruments since at least 2003. As noted above, this will likely require carrying the logic of these decisions through into the Instruments, Standing Committee and covenant process. However, painful as it will be, if this is what is being done then it is possible that the Pentecost letter will ultimately be seen as having set a path which will assist the Communion’s renewal in the Spirit.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
It seems to me that love must, by its essential nature, be always unconditional. We welcome Katharine Jefferts Schori to this pulpit because we love our sisters and brothers in the Episcopal Church of the United States; not because she is female, or a woman bishop ahead of us, or has permitted a practising lesbian to become a bishop (As it happens she couldn’t have stopped it after all the legal and proper canonical electoral processes resulted in the election and nomination), we welcome her because she is our sister in Christ.
The lesson from the Hebrew Scriptures is enormously topical. Disaffected Anglicans have been threatening to ‘walk separate ways’ for many months. Abram and Lot travel together and their herdsmen bicker and fight, in modern translation there is 'strife' between them. They reach agreement to take separate paths and settle down and so their mutual belonging as members of one family is secured. The lesson is even more pertinent because it describes how Lot ended up near Sodom, which was a very wicked city, and of course it is sodomy that so curiously and constantly preoccupies so many disaffected Anglicans. The story of Sodom is often misrepresented from scriptures, the abuse which leads to its reputation and much social mythology, current even today, in Chapter 19, is a more sophisticated story of torture and coercion than misrepresented as a matter of sex.
It may be that some Anglicans will decide to walk a separate path. I believe the Chapter and congregation of this church will walk the same path as the Episcopal Church of America, the links are deep in our history, especially here. Their actions in recent months have been entirely in accord with the Anglican ways of generosity and breadth. They have tried to ensure everyone is recognised as a child of God. They have behaved entirely in accord with their canon laws and their freedom as an independent Province of the Church, not imposing or interfering with others with whom they disagree but proceeding steadily and openly themselves.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Identity Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Ecclesiology
It is as if the breath of the Spirit has the capacity to translate the gospel of the Word made flesh, not only into the different languages of the first day of Pentecost, and all the languages of our twenty-first century world; the Spirit can also translate into every culture of our world – and between the inculturation of the gospel in different cultures. So, when we cannot understand each other, we must be sure that we have listened carefully to the still small voice of the Spirit. Is the Spirit speaking to each of us? Can we recognise the presence of Christ, which is the touchstone, the standard, of the true Spirit of God?
I am convinced that in our current situation within the Communion neither have we done, nor are we continuing to do, enough of this sort of listening to one another. We do not understand one another and one another’s contexts well enough, and we are not sufficiently sensitive to one another in the way we act. Autonomy has gone too far. I do not mean that we should seek a greater uniformity – I hope it is clear I am saying nothing of the sort. But we risk acting in ways that are so independent of one another that it becomes hard for us, and for outsiders, to recognise either a committed interdependent mutuality or a common Christian, Anglican, DNA running through our appropriately contextualised and differentiated ways of being.
Bishop Katharine, what I am going to say next is painful to me, and I fear it may also be to you – but I would rather say it to your face, than behind your back. And I shall be ready to hear from you also, for I cannot preach listening without doing listening. It sometimes seems to me that, though many have failed to listen adequately to the Spirit at work within The Episcopal Church, at the same time within your Province there has not been enough listening to the rest of the Anglican Communion. I had hoped that those of your Bishops who were at the Lambeth Conference would have grasped how sore and tender our common life is. I had hoped that even those who, after long reflection, are convinced that there is a case for the consecration of individuals in same sex partnerships, might nonetheless have seen how unhelpful it would be to the rest of us, for you to proceed as you have done.
There are times when it seems that your Province, or some within it, despite voicing concern for the rest of us, can nonetheless act in ways that communicate a measure of uncaring at the consequent difficulties for us. And such apparent lack of care for us increases the distress we feel. Much as we understand that you are in all sincerity attempting to discern the best way forward within your own mission context, the plea is: be sensitive to the rest of who are still drinking spiritual milk and are not yet eating solids.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Identity Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Southern Africa Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
It requires no leap of the imagination to see that what the Presiding Bishop has in mind here is the Episcopal Church itself. If one were, like medieval dramatists, to present the Synod of Whitby in contemporary garb, the Episcopal Church would play the part of Celtic Christianity and the “centralized authority” of the Anglican Communion would appear as Rome. Perhaps Bishop Jefferts Schori would play the part of Colman of Lindisfarne and Archbishop Williams the perennially despised Wilfrid. Such a setting for the Synod of Whitby would then carry the message that the current struggles in the Anglican Communion are simply another manifestation of the perpetual struggle between a powerful, hierarchical, and autocratic church against a vulnerable and egalitarian form of Christianity. Obviously, this is a heady message, calling to arms all who wish to resist the tyrant doing “spiritual violence” once again to those who wish freely to express their “Spirit”-led beliefs. Thus, the Synod of Whitby draws greater power by implicitly invoking the even older image of Babylon persecuting the faithful remnant. Strange how people can morph into a reflection of how they perceive their opponents.
That this is the myth by which the Presiding Bishop is operating is shown by her allusion to colonialism. This is the other governing metaphor of the letter, and in this sense the Synod of Whitby becomes an expression of ecclesiastical colonialism over a native, “Celtic” people. We have here a sort of theological variation on Avatar. The irony, of course, is that this claim is being made by the Presiding Bishop of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church: the world’s most powerful nation and one of the world’s most well-heeled churches. Likening the Episcopal Church to a weak and oppressed Celtic Christianity or to forcefully clothed Hawaiian women requires a degree of mental acrobatics that beggars belief. It is equally ironic that she thereby presents Archbishop Williams, a Welshman, in the role of an agent of the domineering Roman church seeking to suppress the wonderfully tolerant Celtic church!
As thrilling as all this may be to some, the problem is that it does violence (to use a recurring metaphor in the letter) to the actual history.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Theology Ecclesiology
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States have both spoken of their “concerns” and “distress” at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s plans to impose sanctions on provinces that have breached the moratoria on gay bishops, same-sex unions, and cross-border interventions (News, 28 May).
Dr Williams announced the sanctions — which amount to excluding provinces from ecumenical dialogues and stripping them of some decision-making powers — in his Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion. He took the action in response to the consecration of an openly lesbian bishop, the Rt Revd Mary Glasspool, in the Episcopal Church in the US last month (News, 21 May).
As part of the follow-up to the Pentecost letter, the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon, announced on Monday that he has written to members of the Episcopal Church serving in the inter-Anglican ecumenical dialogues, “informing them that their membership of these dialogues has been discontinued”.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology
The Anglican Church of Canada has failed to put the debate over gay marriage to rest once and for all.
On the second last day of General Synod, a tri-annual gathering of clergy and lay leadership aimed at setting church policy, members essentially agreed to disagree on the fractious issue that's torn the church apart in recent years.
At the end of the day, the church resolved to continue to "engage in theological and scriptural study of human sexuality" and to include the "voices of gays and lesbians" in those discussions.
But after numerous discussions, which were conducted in small groups throughout the nine-day event in Halifax, the church ultimately decided not to make a "legislative decision" on the issue of same-sex unions.
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The point is that the Presiding Bishop begins with the tendentious claim that TEC’s action accords with Scripture and represents a new work of the Holy Spirit. Here is the tail (TEC’s action) that she then uses in an attempt to wag the dog (the weight of Communion teaching, procedure, and opinion).
...What I mean is this. To sustain her position she launches an attack on the Archbishop’s response. She seeks to show not only that the Archbishop is acting to quench the Spirit, but also that he has taken a morally dubious course that violates longstanding Anglican tradition. A hallmark of Anglicanism, she says, is a form of “diversity in community” that manifests “willingness to live in tension.” This tolerance of diversity “recognizes that the Spirit may be speaking to all of us, in ways that do not at present seem to cohere or agree.”
I have already noted that her view of the Spirit’s leading seems incoherent. I will leave it to the historians among us to assess her claims about the tolerant character of the Elizabethan Settlement, but it has never seemed to me that the Act of Uniformity was meant to put up a big tent, or that the treatment of Anabaptists (they were burned) showed great openness to contrary views of the Christian’s relation to the state. The fact of the matter is that “Anglican inclusiveness” serves more as a charter myth for legitimizing contested issues than a solid historical precedent for innovation. Anglican history, though not overly confessional when it comes to doctrine, manifests extraordinary caution when it comes to changing practice. If anything, caution in respect to changing practice is a “hallmark of Anglicanism.”
The real issue, however, is not the claim about “diversity in community” or “willingness to live in tension.” The real issue is what Anglican’s are to do when the action of one Province, diocese, or person within the Communion takes an official action that others do not “recognize” as consonant with Christian belief and practice. The issue of “recognition” stands in the background of the first Lambeth Conference. There, the question of recognition centered on Bishop Colenso’s interpretation of Holy Scripture. Latterly, the question of recognition surfaced with the consecration by TEC of a partnered gay man. Now it has surfaced once more with the consecration of the Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) * Theology Ecclesiology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) Theology: Salvation (Soteriology) Theology: Scripture
The Archbishop of Canterbury has admonished warring Anglicans for creating “recrimination, confusion and bitterness” all round.
He has punished those who have broken the rules by removing them from the body that deals with dialogue with the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and other churches, and the body that decides matters of faith.
In his Pentecost letter, Dr Williams called for Anglicans to pray for renewal in the spirit of God.
And he bewailed the failure by liberals to stand by moratoria imposed on the consecration of gay bishops and on same-sex blessings, and the failure by conservatives to observe that on boundary crossing.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone] Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has described the decision by Lambeth Palace to remove Episcopalians serving on international ecumenical dialogues as "unfortunate ... It misrepresents who the Anglican Communion is."
Jefferts Schori's comments were made during a June 8 press conference at the Anglican Church of Canada's General Synod 2010 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Before the sanctions were imposed on the Episcopal Church as a consequence for having consecrated a lesbian bishop, Jefferts Schori said she had written a letter to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams expressing her concern.
"I don't think it helps dialogue to remove some people from the conversation," she said shortly after addressing General Synod. "We have a variety of opinions on these issues of human sexuality across the communion ... For the archbishop of Canterbury to say to the Methodists or the Lutheran [World] Federation that we only have one position is inaccurate. We have a variety of understandings and no, we don't have consensus on hot button issues at the moment."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Identity Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
So far the proposed disciplines within the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost letter have affected only the Episcopal Church, but the letter also has raised questions for the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.
The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion has informed two representatives of the Episcopal Church that they will no longer serve as members of the Anglican–Orthodox Theological Dialogue. Those representatives are the Rev. Thomas Ferguson, the Episcopal Church’s interim deputy for ecumenical and interreligious relations, and the Rt. Rev. William O. Gregg, assistant bishop of North Carolina.
Episcopal News Service reported that the decision affects the Episcopal Church’s involvement in all ecumenical dialogues involving the Anglican Communion.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone] Episcopal Church (TEC) Instruments of Unity Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
The Episcopal Church
* The Episcopal Church is an autonomous church which is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, serving God and working together to spread through word and action the good news of God in Christ.
* The Episcopal Church has over 7400 congregations in 109 dioceses plus three regional areas in 16 countries with 2.2 million members.
* The Episcopal Church has members in the United States, as well as in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Micronesia, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Venezuela, the Virgin Islands, and the Convocation of Churches in Europe.
* The Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church is the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to lead The Episcopal Church as well as any of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Identity Episcopal Church (TEC) Instruments of Unity * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Theology Ecclesiology
The Anglican Communion has suspended U.S. Episcopalians from serving on ecumenical bodies because of the election of a lesbian as a bishop in California.
The U.S. church opened a rift in the global communion, and within its own ranks, seven years ago by electing a gay man, V. Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire. Conservative African Anglicans have taken a lead in opposing moves in the United States and Canada to promote gays and to bless homosexual relationships.
Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, had called for a moratorium on appointing homosexuals to leadership positions. He asked for action against the Episcopal Church after the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool was made an assistant bishop of Los Angeles.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology
Here are the circumstances and the answers:
*Synod passes a motion that approves same-sex blessings. This would break the moratorium.
* Synod passes a motion that allows dioceses to decide for themselves whether to conduct same-sex blessings. This would break the moratorium.
* Synod passes no motion, but continues to ignore dioceses that are already blessing same-sex unions and those who are about to start. This would not break the moratorium.
The distinguishing feature of the last option is that it is not “formal”; the fact that what should not happen is happening is immaterial so long as it is happening informally. A secular equivalent would be a loose association of astute crooks committing uncoordinated burglaries, emboldened by the certain knowledge that the informality of their crimes insulates them from prosecution.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
Now the Archbishop of Canterbury is being hammered from both liberal revisionist and orthodox conservative quarters. At the bottom of all this is a lack of previous leadership effort on his part, so that both revisionist and orthodox Anglicans see much of the present Anglican mess as his fault. Scripture says something about letting your yes be yes and your no be no, and really, when you do that, it is so much easier to remember what you said, and to act on what you said.
Dr. Williams has danced around the issues and we can think of only two reasons for that, and whatever the real reason is in a sense doesn't matter, since the bottom line is, he has no track record of really leading. He favors the Hegelian approach of letting both sides battle it out, and then the result will be a compromise that represents a best way forward. That could be the reason for what looks like no leadership skills.
Alternatively, he could actually have no leadership skills, and an internal inability to stand up and deliver.
Other than satisfying those of us who always want to know why things work out the way they do, it is really a distinction without a difference; no leadership is no leadership.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology
* As always, there are hints that the fight is about more than sex. In the case of this showdown, it is clear that Williams is frantically trying to hold the communion together on a wide range of doctrinal issues, with sex as the issue that, alas, always grabs the headlines. Jefferts Schori, meanwhile, sees this through the lens of Romeaphobia and claims that Canterbury is trying to enforce an anti-Anglican form of creedal orthodoxy, with Williams playing the role of pope.
The irony, of course, is that Williams has already established himself as a progressive on sexuality. Williams knows, however, that there are other doctrinal issues at play that matter far more to traditionalists around the world. What might those issues be?
* So, if this ongoing spirit of Pentecost is leading the Episcopal Church to edit and update centuries of Christian doctrine on sex and marriage, what other doctrines are being affected by these Winds Of Change? That’s the big question.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, has written to those Episcopalians serving on the communion's ecumenical dialogues informing them that their memberships have been discontinued.
The decision is likely to affect five Episcopal Church members serving on Anglican dialogues with the Lutheran, Methodist and Orthodox churches, as well as one member of the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity, Faith and Order, who has been invited to serve as a consultant.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology
What should be the ecclesial consequences for Anglican churches that have consciously rejected the “mind of the Communion” during this past decade? Many have waited a long time for Archbishop Rowan Williams to spell out his own views. Since 2007 he has openly talked of the costs involved in going one’s own way, however conscientiously, in opposition to the formally stated teachings of the Communion on the matter of sexual behavior and other key matters of doctrine and discipline. But what costs? The archbishop’s Pentecost letter has now begun the formal process of both laying out and setting in motion these consequences. This alone makes the letter significant.
Until this point, the archbishop has steadfastly followed two tracks in responding to the divisions of the Communion. First, he has formally initiated and supported Communion-based processes of consultation and evaluation leading out of the 2004 Windsor Report. By and large, and based on commonly accepted standards of doctrine and discipline around the Communion, these have consistently pressed for Anglican churches around the world to adopt and enforce moratoria on the consecration of partnered homosexual bishops, on the affirmation and permission of same-sex blessings or marriages, and on the cross-jurisdictional interference of bishops in the dioceses or provinces of another church. Through the Instruments of Communion — the Primates’ Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Lambeth Conference — as well as through representative commissions like the Windsor Continuation Group, the acceptability of this track has been reiterated over and over. Yet, for all that, there has never really been stable resolution emerging from these repeated requests for moratoria.
The archbishop’s second track has been to champion the Anglican Covenant....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
In essence, [Rowan] Williams and [katharine] Jefferts Schori are having a very old argument over local autonomy and central authority, Butler Bass said — two extreme and perhaps irreconcilable interpretations of Anglicanism.
"He's trying to find coherent Anglican identity and enforce it in a top-down way, and she's saying we've always been democratic, local, grass-roots."
That argument seems to have reached a breaking point, the historian said.
"Scholars will look back on these letters in 150 years and say, 'This is it. This is when it all went away,'" [Diana] Butler Bass said. "The Anglican Communion is not going to make it."
[David] Hein agreed, saying, "A path has been chosen. It seems (Jefferts Schori) has prepared to pack her bags and go off on her own."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology
I realize I may be expressing latent colonialist tendencies and committing spiritual violence by imposing a singular understanding of basic logic on Bishop [Jefferts] Schori, but it appears that she is forcing us to choose between two alternatives:
#1. The Holy Spirit is telling some people that gays and lesbians can be ordained ministers while telling other people that such a move is contrary to God’s will. Ergo, the Spirit is a relativist who imposes moral requirements based on cultural norms rather than on a fixed, knowable standard.
#2. The Holy Spirit is consistent and has expressed his will on this issue to one group; the other group is mistaken in believing that the Spirit has spoken to them. The group that he has spoken to are therefore justified in attempting to apply this standard consistently throughout the communion.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
Now that the Archbishop of Canterbury has released his Pentecost letter and its proposed steps of discipline, a significant next step is interpreting what the letter means.
If all the Instruments of Communion were to exclude members based on actions that disregard the moratoria of the Windsor Report, 30 Anglican leaders — from laity to priests to archbishops — could be affected.
The Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, founding missionary bishop of the Nigeria-sponsored Convocation of Anglicans in North America, said the archbishop’s letter does not cause him concerns.
The primates, he told The Living Church, “never agreed that there’s a moral equivalence between what they see as an attempt to change the Anglican Communion’s teaching and a provision for temporary pastoral care.”
The application of the archbishop’s letter, he said, depends on the interpretation of “past, present and future” actions.
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Anglicans who flout the wishes of the worldwide Church should be sidelined from official doctrinal committees, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.
In his Pentecost letter to Anglicans worldwide, Rowan Williams says there is still "painful division" in the Church.
He cites the consecration of a lesbian bishop in the US, and Church leaders organising in each others' areas.
If his call is heeded it would be the first time such sanctions have been imposed on dissident Church members.
The archbishop added that dissident Anglican provinces should not take part in formal dialogues with other Churches.
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"He [Williams] knows he has to do something because he's under pressure from all sides," [Robert Lundy of the American Anglican Council] said. "But unfortunately, the step he's taken in our view is not strong enough."
Bishop Ian Douglas of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut called Williams' statement "significant" but "not as punitive as it might have been."
He said it was an affirmation of the three moratoria, and he made clear that other churches, not just the U.S. Episcopal Church, will be affected for having broken promises as well.
"Many churches across the Anglican Communion because of conscience or their belief in what the holy spirit is up to in their local context have lived beyond the moratoria," Douglas said. "While the moratoria are still before us, such actions do have some ramifications. ... If anything, I question the efficacy of the moratoria."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
(Please take the time to read it thoroughly before any response--KSH).
Renewal in the Spirit
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost letter to the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion
‘They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak’ (Acts 2.4). At Pentecost, we celebrate the gift God gives us of being able to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ in the various languages of the whole human world. The Gospel is not the property of any one group, any one culture or history, but is what God intends for the salvation of all who will listen and respond.
St Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit is also what God gives us so that we can call God ‘Abba, Father’ (Rom. 8.15, Gal. 4.6). The Spirit is given not only so that we can speak to the world about God but so that we can speak to God in the words of his own beloved Son. The Good News we share is not just a story about Jesus but the possibility of living in and through the life of Jesus and praying his prayer to the Father.
And so the Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of ‘communion’ or fellowship (II Cor. 13.13). The Spirit allows us to recognise each other as part of the Body of Christ because we can hear in each other the voice of Jesus praying to the Father. We know, in the Spirit, that we who are baptised into Jesus Christ share one life; so that all the diversity of gifting and service in the Church can be seen as the work of one Spirit (I Cor. 12.4). In the Holy Eucharist, this unity in and through the self-offering of Jesus is reaffirmed and renewed as we pray for the Spirit to transform both the bread and wine and ‘ourselves, our souls and bodies’.
When the Church is living by the Spirit, what the world will see is a community of people who joyfully and gratefully hear the prayer of Jesus being offered in each other’s words and lives, and are able to recognise the one Christ working through human diversity. And if the world sees this, the Church is a true sign of hope in a world of bitter conflict and rivalry.
From the very first, as the New Testament makes plain, the Church has experienced division and internal hostilities. From the very first, the Church has had to repent of its failure to live fully in the light and truth of the Spirit. Jesus tells us in St John’s gospel that the Spirit of truth will ‘prove the world wrong’ in respect of sin and righteousness and judgement (Jn 16.8). But if the Spirit is leading us all further into the truth, the Spirit will convict the Church too of its wrongness and lead it into repentance. And if the Church is a community where we serve each other in the name of Christ, it is a community where we can and should call each other to repentance in the name of Christ and his Spirit – not to make the other feel inferior (because we all need to be called to repentance) but to remind them of the glory of Christ’s gift and the promise that we lose sight of when we fail in our common life as a Church.
Our Anglican fellowship continues to experience painful division, and the events of recent months have not brought us nearer to full reconciliation. There are still things being done that the representative bodies of the Communion have repeatedly pleaded should not be done; and this leads to recrimination, confusion and bitterness all round. It is clear that the official bodies of The Episcopal Church have felt in conscience that they cannot go along with what has been asked of them by others, and the consecration of Canon Mary Glasspool on May 15 has been a clear sign of this. And despite attempts to clarify the situation, activity across provincial boundaries still continues – equally dictated by what people have felt they must in conscience do. Some provinces have within them dioceses that are committed to policies that neither the province as a whole nor the Communion has sanctioned. In several places, not only in North America, Anglicans have not hesitated to involve the law courts in settling disputes, often at great expense and at the cost of the Church’s good name.
All are agreed that the disputes arising around these matters threaten to distract us from our main calling as Christ’s Church. The recent Global South encounter in Singapore articulated a strong and welcome plea for the priority of mission in the Communion; and in my own message to that meeting I prayed for a ‘new Pentecost’ for all of us. This is a good season of the year to pray earnestly for renewal in the Spirit, so that we may indeed do what God asks of us and let all people know that new and forgiven life in Christ is possible and that created men and women may by the Spirit’s power be given the amazing liberty to call God ‘Abba, Father!’
It is my own passionate hope that our discussion of the Anglican Covenant in its entirety will help us focus on that priority; the Covenant is nothing if not a tool for mission. I want to stress yet again that the Covenant is not envisaged as an instrument of control. And this is perhaps a good place to clarify that the place given in the final text to the Standing Committee of the Communion introduces no novelty: the Committee is identical to the former Joint Standing Committee, fully answerable in all matters to the ACC and the Primates; nor is there any intention to prevent the Primates in the group from meeting separately. The reference to the Standing Committee reflected widespread unease about leaving certain processes only to the ACC or only to the Primates.
But we are constantly reminded that the priorities of mission are experienced differently in different places, and that trying to communicate the Gospel in the diverse tongues of human beings can itself lead to misunderstandings and failures of communication between Christians. The sobering truth is that often our attempts to share the Gospel effectively in our own setting can create problems for those in other settings.
We are at a point in our common life where broken communications and fragile relationships have created a very mistrustful climate. This is not news. But many have a sense that the current risks are greater than ever. Although attitudes to human sexuality have been the presenting cause, I want to underline the fact that what has precipitated the current problem is not simply this issue but the widespread bewilderment and often hurt in different quarters that we have no way of making decisions together so that we are not compromised or undermined by what others are doing. We have not, in other words, found a way of shaping our consciences and convictions as a worldwide body. We have not fully received the Pentecostal gift of mutual understanding for common mission.
It may be said – quite understandably, in one way – that our societies and their assumptions are so diverse that we shall never be able to do this. Yet we are called to seek for mutual harmony and common purpose, and not to lose heart. If the truth of Christ is indeed ultimately one as we all believe, there should be a path of mutual respect and thankfulness that will hold us in union and help us grow in that truth.
Yet at the moment we face a dilemma. To maintain outward unity at a formal level while we are convinced that the divisions are not only deep but damaging to our local mission is not a good thing. Neither is it a good thing to break away from each other so dramatically that we no longer see Christ in each other and risk trying to create a church of the ‘perfect’ – people like us. It is significant that there are still very many in The Episcopal Church, bishops, clergy and faithful, who want to be aligned with the Communion’s general commitments and directions, such as those who identify as ‘Communion Partners’, who disagree strongly with recent decisions, yet want to remain in visible fellowship within TEC so far as they can. And, as has often been pointed out, there are things that Anglicans across the world need and want to do together for the care of God’s poor and vulnerable that can and do go on even when division over doctrine or discipline is sharp.
More and more, Anglicans are aware of living through a time of substantial transition, a time when the structures that have served us need reviewing and refreshing, perhaps radical changing, when the voice and witness in the Communion of Christians from the developing world is more articulate and creative than ever, and when the rapidity of social change in ‘developed’ nations leaves even some of the most faithful and traditional Christian communities uncertain where to draw the boundaries in controversial matters – not only sexuality but issues of bioethics, for example, or the complexities of morality in the financial world.
A time of transition, by definition, does not allow quick solutions to such questions, and it is a time when, ideally, we need more than ever to stay in conversation. As I have said many times before, whatever happens to our structures, we still need to preserve both working relationships and places for exchange and discussion. New vehicles for conversations across these boundaries are being developed with much energy.
But some decisions cannot be avoided. We began by thinking about Pentecost and the diverse peoples of the earth finding a common voice, recognising that each was speaking a truth recognised by all. However, when some part of that fellowship speaks in ways that others find hard to recognise, and that point in a significantly different direction from what others are saying, we cannot pretend there is no problem.
And when a province through its formal decision-making bodies or its House of Bishops as a body declines to accept requests or advice from the consultative organs of the Communion, it is very hard (as noted in my letter to the Communion last year after the General Convention of TEC) to see how members of that province can be placed in positions where they are required to represent the Communion as a whole. This affects both our ecumenical dialogues, where our partners (as they often say to us) need to know who it is they are talking to, and our internal faith-and-order related groups.
I am therefore proposing that, while these tensions remain unresolved, members of such provinces – provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) – should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged. I am further proposing that members of such provinces serving on IASCUFO should for the time being have the status only of consultants rather than full members. This is simply to confirm what the Communion as a whole has come to regard as the acceptable limits of diversity in its practice. It does not alter what has been said earlier by the Primates’ Meeting about the nature of the moratoria: the request for restraint does not necessarily imply that the issues involved are of equal weight but recognises that they are ‘central factors placing strains on our common life’, in the words of the Primates in 2007. Particular provinces will be contacted about the outworking of this in the near future.
I am aware that other bodies have responsibilities in questions concerned with faith and order, notably the Primates’ Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Standing Committee. The latter two are governed by constitutional provisions which cannot be overturned by any one person’s decision alone, and there will have to be further consultation as to how they are affected. I shall be inviting the views of all members of the Primates’ Meeting on the handling of these matters with a view to the agenda of the next scheduled meeting in January 2011.
In our dealings with other Christian communions, we do not seek to deny our diversity; but there is an obvious problem in putting forward representatives of the Communion who are consciously at odds with what the Communion has formally requested or stipulated. This does not seem fair to them or to our partners. In our dealings with each other, we need to be clear that conscientious decisions may be taken in good faith, even for what are held to be good theological or missional reasons, and yet have a cost when they move away from what is recognisable and acceptable within the Communion. Thus – to take a very different kind of example – there have been and there are Anglicans who have a strong conscientious objection to infant baptism. Their views deserve attention, respect and careful study, they should be engaged in serious dialogue – but it would be eccentric to place such people in a position where their view was implicitly acknowledged as one of a range of equally acceptable convictions, all of which could be taken as representatively Anglican.
Yet no-one should be celebrating such public recognition of divisions and everyone should be reflecting on how to rebuild relations and to move towards a more coherent Anglican identity (which does not mean an Anglican identity with no diversity, a point once again well made by the statement from the Singapore meeting). Some complain that we are condemned to endless meetings that achieve nothing. I believe that in fact we have too few meetings that allow proper mutual exploration. It may well be that such encounters need to take place in a completely different atmosphere from the official meetings of the Communion’s representative bodies, and this needs some imaginative thought and planning. Much work is already going into making this more possible.
But if we do conclude that some public marks of ‘distance’, as the Windsor Continuation Group put it, are unavoidable if our Communion bodies are not to be stripped of credibility and effectiveness, the least Christian thing we can do is to think that this absolves us from prayer and care for each other, or continuing efforts to make sense of each other.
We are praying for a new Pentecost for our Communion. That means above all a vast deepening of our capacity to receive the gift of being adopted sons and daughters of the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It means a deepened capacity to speak of Jesus Christ in the language of our context so that we are heard and the Gospel is made compelling and credible. And it also means a deepened capacity to love and nourish each other within Christ’s Body – especially to love and nourish, as well as to challenge, those whom Christ has given us as neighbours with whom we are in deep and painful dispute.
One remarkable symbol of promise for our Communion is the generous gift received by the Diocese of Jerusalem from His Majesty the King of Jordan, who has provided a site on the banks of the Jordan River, at the traditional site of Our Lord’s Baptism, for the construction of an Anglican church. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of blessing the foundation stone of this church and viewing the plans for its design. It will be a worthy witness at this historic site to the Anglican tradition, a sign of real hope for the long-suffering Christians of the region, and something around which the Communion should gather as a focus of common commitment in Christ and his Spirit. I hope that many in the Communion will give generous support to the project.
‘We have the mind of Christ’ says St Paul (I Cor. 2.16); and, as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has recently written, this means that we must have a ‘kenotic’, a self-emptying approach to each other in the Church. May the Spirit create this in us daily and lead us into that wholeness of truth which is only to be found in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus.
I wish you all God’s richest blessing at this season.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology
Why mince words here? For some years now – since even before the Virginia Report of the late 1990’s — it has been stated formally over and over again that the structures of the Anglican Communion needed redefinition and rebuilding, so as to be able to function fruitfully. Key efforts were made to give direction to such reconstruction. A decade of failure, however, has simply borne out an already established and publicly stated fear.
But trying to set up alternative structures has not fared much better. If the recent Singapore meeting exposed a ten-year lapse in credibility for existing Communion structures, it also put the lie to any attractive claim for alternative structures that, in the past 10 years, some portions of the Communion have so assiduously been at work to erect: new provinces in North America; special “primatial councils” for common confessors; extra-jurisdictional missionary fiefdoms; episcopal netwoks of alternative oversight. Instead, the gathering proved to be what every other Anglican gathering has been in the past decade: in addition to faithful witness and counsel, also a time for political maneuver, secretive changing of agendas at the last moment, North Americans coming in and grabbing the microphones and running meetings, disagreements over this and that strategy and doctrine. That a common communiqué emerged at all was cause for surprise by the end; that it expressed little tangible except a shared dislike for Communion structures and for TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada was probably the most one could have predicted, which isn’t very much, let alone particularly edifying.
There are some obvious conclusions to draw from these ten years.
First, that Anglican Communion “structuralism” – building offices and commissions and adjudicating bodies, in the wake of the 1963 Toronto Congress – is at an end, at least in its presently imagined forms. This is true for the official structures; it is also true for the alternative structures. The drift now between national churches and confessional bodies is too great to ensure their continued functioning and support in any energetic fashion. Not that any of these structures, official or otherwise, are simply about to disappear; they won’t and they shouldn’t, given that they continue to provide important links to the wider Church and mission, and can, in any case, be renewed. But fewer and fewer really care for them, no one really trusts them, no one really wants to let them have power over their lives. If I were an employee of the Anglican Communion Office or of its shadow embodiments, I would look for a new job, if only for economic motives: the money is drying up.
Second, the Anglican Covenant is both a product of this descending drift, as well as a response to it....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Covenant Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
We have for years in the Anglican Communion operated a tacit rule of agreeing to differ about many things but trying not to do or say things which will cause other Anglicans to stumble. The Lambeth Conference has been the main instrument of this process: broad agreement can be reached on major issues while the provinces retain autonomy in their own lives. Thus, for instance, the Lambeth Conference agreed that it was all right to admit children to Communion prior to Confirmation, which then opened up the question for any individual Province to discuss, as most now have. Our own General Synod repeated Lambeth’s point, so the issue was then passed down to dioceses. Our own Diocese in turn agreed, so the issue has now become a matter for individual parishes. That is a model of how you discern that something is adiaphora, and how you deal with the issue once that has been decided, respecting consciences all the way through. It highlights again this key point: the question of whether a particular issue is adiaphora or not cannot itself be adiaphora. It wouldn’t have done for the Parish of St-Muddy-by-the-Sea to decide independently that the question of unconfirmed children receiving Communion was adiaphora and then proceeding to take its own decision without reference to its diocese, its province, or the whole Communion.
This is the point which emerges with great clarity from St Paul. He is not at all advocating what we today call ‘tolerance’ – a loose, flabby laissez-faire approach which shrugs its shoulders and says ‘just do your own thing’. His aim is not the creation of several different communities each going its own way, but of one single Body of Christ. In that single family, practices that would divide Christians from one another on ethnic grounds are to be treated as adiaphora, however vital and mandatory they may have been for the Jewish people – not least Paul himself in his Pharisaic past! – prior to the coming of the Messiah. At the same time, that same goal – the creation and maintenance of the one Body of Christ – demands new standards of life to which all must conform, in relation to which pagans in particular will experience a considerable moral challenge. These new standards, spelt out in letter after letter, are not adiaphora. They – I am thinking of patience and practical love, of purity both in speech and in sexual behaviour – may not be as central as the Trinity or the Atonement, but they remain mandatory.
Here then is the point, which meets us on page after page in Paul: the move from something being mandatory to that same thing being non-mandatory (e.g. circumcision), from something being prohibited to that same thing being permitted for those who wish (e.g. eating pork), from something being essential to something being trivial – that move is not itself trivial. It is of the utmost importance. It is essential for Paul that the Jewish food-laws, like circumcision and Sabbath-keeping, are non-mandatory for those in Christ—or, to put it the other way round, that the Jewish prohibitions against eating pork and so on are now lifted. And he explains, again and again, why this particular shift has happened. It isn’t, despite centuries of misrepresentation, that Judaism was a religion of harsh and difficult laws and Christianity was all about getting rid of moral rules and regulations. It is, rather, that God has in Jesus Christ created a single family composed of people from every ethnic background. There are strict new rules for this family, because this family is the new humanity, the re-creation of the human race, the new Genesis; but one of those strict new rules is the complete relaxation of the regulations that would have kept Jews and Gentiles permanently separated. So, to repeat: the question of which things are adiaphora and which things are not, what is essential and what is trivial, is not itself a matter of indifference. It is vital; it is theologically rooted; it has nothing to do with an easy-going tolerance, let alone the assimilation of the church to its surrounding culture, and everything to do with the new humanity which has come into being in the Messiah, Jesus. This is the point we urgently need to grasp in relation to several pressing issues.
All this means that this question, which differences make a difference and which don’t, cannot itself be decided locally.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Instruments of Unity Lambeth 2008 * Theology Ecclesiology Theology: Scripture
Being in the Episcopal Church these days means entering a vertiginous journey into the corruption of language. You see language which used to mean x, and in one Episcopal Church setting it is used to mean y, and then in another the same words mean z. One thinks immediately of the scene in Alice Wonderland (written as I hope you know by an Anglican deacon):
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."
For a recent example of this manipulation of language to mean what it does not mean consider a piece on chastity by Richard Helmer .
Chastity, technically, is the refraining from sexual activity outside its proper context. For Christians, this has meant abstinence for those who are single and faithfulness for a wife or a husband who is married. This has been the standard for Christians throughout church history and still is for Christians worldwide today. None of this is to suggest that Christians have not struggled with sexuality, or that the understanding of sexuality and its proper use has not gone through interesting developments in the church's life. It is also not to suggest that a very small minority of contemporary mostly Western Christians have not sought to challenge this standard. The leadership of TEC of course is part of this very small minority.
Richard Helmer is certainly correct to observe that "chastity deserves a thorough study by everyone presently involved in the tired crisis of the Anglican Communion." It is just my hope that in doing so words are allowed to mean what the words mean and not what we want them to mean, whether in fact they mean what we say they mean or not.
One of the things you will hear in some circles of TEC is "sexuality is a sacrament." This was actually explicitly said in a national church resource a while back.
It isn't true, but like a lot of TEC leadership assertions these days, it contains partial truth. You may know that heresy is part of the truth masquerading as the whole truth--which is therefore actually an untruth. This statement about sexuality being "a sacrament" is an example of such a definition of heresy.
The truth is sexuality is like a sacrament and has sacramental dimensions, and it is from this vantage point that an important response to Richard Helmer can emerge.
You may know that in sacramental theology there is sometimes a distinction made between sacramental matter and sacramental form. The matter is the "stuff" or physical material involved in the sacrament, and the form is the words said and (sometimes) the sayer of such words, etc. Thus in baptism the matter is water, and the form is God's threefold name (it can be by an authorized minister, but it actually doesn't have to be).
We do not need to veer way off into sacramental theology at this time, the point is that in sacramental theology there is involved a what, as well as a who and how. This is not dissimilar to Thomistic ethical considerations, which tell us that any act's moral determination comes from considering the act, the intention and the circumstance.
When these kinds of dimensions are considered, and one realizes that sexuality has many sacrament-like qualities, one can argue that sexuality is best understood by considering all its aspects, the what and the who and the how.
Now consider Father Helmer's essay. Already one grows uneasy when one watches the essay begin without entering into the long stream of christian history in this area. What, one wants to ask, have all the Christians who have gone before us on whose shoulders we now stand, understood by this term chastity? One might have liked some Scriptural study and work as well. Instead we get a reference to chastity which has to do with "fidelity" and then a working definition as follows:
Chastity means setting aside dominance and control and seeking instead a new way to relate to the world and to God. He then goes on, quite revealingly, to say he is concerned about "a failure of chastity" which he then clarifies this way: "...I don't mean sex outside the marriage. By chastity in marriage I mean the challenge of setting aside the stubborn drive to control or change person we most cherish."
Now please understand that there is much in this discussion with which I would wholeheartedly agree. My concern here, though, is what this definition of chastity represents. It typifies the gnosticism present is all too much Episcopal Church thinking these days, where the how takes all precedence over the what, where form triumphs over substance. We hear talk of mutuality and faithfulness and encouragement and life enhancement and on and on and on. These are good things. But we cannot allow the how to bypass the what. We cannot allow intention and circumstance to dominate, and not ask about the act itself.
Alas, we are in a church which claims to be sacramental, but which is too often reductionistic.
Look at this paragraph from Father Helmer and see how it is all about the adjectives, is is all a world where how triumphs over what:
Chaste behavior has been in the quiet but transformative story-telling and building up of authentic relationships across the divides of gender, class, race, culture, sexuality, and ideology all across the Communion recently. Chastity allows us to be ourselves by allowing others to be themselves. Chastity makes it known when we are encountering oppression and articulates our needs as they arise. Chastity seeks honest accountability. Chastity sets aside the weapons and metaphors of war for an honest, authentic justice. Chastity endeavors to shed the harbored resentments and unmet wants of our brief lives and move forward in renewed relationship.
And what is the Alice in Wonderland outcome of such reductionism? Helmer asserts:
"Chastity has long been in evidence by those courageous, oft-threatened "firsts" of our faith who inhabit dangerous positions not for power or the quixotic pursuit of perfection, but simply by being who they are and following God's call as best they can. The consecrations in the Diocese of Los Angeles are some of the most recent examples of this form of chastity."
The problem here is that a woman in a same sex partnership by definition cannot be chaste, and would never have been considered chaste by our forbears. It flunks the test based on the what, no matter how much Father Helmer wants us to focus on the how. It is not just about the "form" of chastity, to have chastity one needs both form and substance.
In the world where words mean what they were given to mean, this isn't chaste at all.
One more observation, as a kind of final irony. Even if I were to grant that it is all about form (and I don't), this flunks the chastity test. Chastity is about "setting aside dominance and control" says Father Helmer. So many see in TEC's actions exactly those two things, they see American unilateralism writ large.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * By Kendall Sermons & Teachings * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Sacramental Theology
Tears, jubilation, and muted protest marked the consecration of the Anglican Communion’s first openly lesbian bishop in California last Saturday, although the event drew swift condemnation from traditionalist groups and from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In a brief statement, Dr Williams described the ceremony as “regrettable”, and said that it placed a question mark over the place in the Communion of the Episcopal Church in the United States. The criticism was echoed by Evangelical groups in Ireland, among other places.
A press release published jointly by the Church of Ireland Evangelical Fellowship and three other bodies argued that the consecration represented “a clear rejection of the many pleas for gracious restraint” set out in the Windsor report and made by the latest Primates’ Meeting.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
Asked whether he would have to step down from the ACC’s Standing Committee due to his change in status from priest to bishop, Dr. [Ian] Douglas told CEN he would remain in place.
“Election to the Standing Committee by the ACC is irrespective of orders. Therefore, if I am elected the episcopal ACC member from TEC by the Executive Council in June, then I remain on the Standing Committee,” he said.
However conservatives have pushed for ACC chairman, Bishop James Tengatenga to replace Dr. Douglas, arguing that under the bylaws of the ACC a church cannot have two episcopal delegates. They state that upon his consecration as a bishop, Dr. Douglas ceased to be a clerical member of the ACC.
Read it all (subscription to CEN needed to do so).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Consultative Council Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
In the work that bears his name, Gilbert and Sullivan’s wonderfully imagined Mikado purports “To let the punishment fit the crime, the punishment fit the crime.” In their guest opinion column in the Anglican Journal (May 2010, p. 5), Catherine Sider-Hamilton and Dean Mercer have, on the other hand, already decided the punishment– “a second-tier status in the larger Anglican Communion.” It remains only to conjure up the requisite crime....
...the writers imply that the current conflict pits those who love and faithfully receive scripture against those who despise it, who find its teaching “oppressive and outdated.” But we know that those who support the blessing of committed monogamous same-sex relationships include many who know and love the Bible as living witness to the living God. And we know that as we receive and interpret scripture, the truth that emerges is often contested truth–as for example, we come to divergent conclusions about the response that the God revealed in scripture invites to a question of sexual ethics and Kingdom ethos in the 21st century. Conflict and contested truth are not unfamiliar to Jesus’ disciples, and need not tear apart the foundational covenant of our common baptism into one body. We could renew a healthier and more faithful discourse by acknowledging contested truth and engaging in honest and charitable conversation about the practices, values and contextual realities that shape our reception and interpretation of scripture.
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All seems oddly quiet on this day when Canon Mary Glasspool will be ordained and consecrated at a Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles. Yet the consequences may well be graver than ensued after the Bishop of New Hampshire was consecrated in 2003. Then it could be said with some plausibility that no one in TEC realized what a fuss would emerge. No one is in any doubt this time. The Archbishop of Canterbury has made it clear that there will be consequences for TEC in its relationship with the Communion and there will be consequences within the Communion.
I read this morning an interview in the Baltimore Sun with Canon Glasspool which includes a short video. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/anne-arundel/bs-md-glasspool-bishop-consecration-20100507,0,73
A number of points were raised which invite comment....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Theology Ecclesiology
In the past the Archbishop of Canterbury has acknowledged indirectly that he has this authority. When he wrote the Primates in December 2006 concerning the upcoming meeting in Dar es Salaam, Archbishop Williams advised them that: “I have decided not to withhold an invitation to Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as the elected Primate of the Episcopal Church to attend the forthcoming meeting. I believe it is important that she be given a chance both to hear and to speak and to discuss face to face the problems we are confronting together.” He indicated in this letter that this was his decision based on open questions about TEC’s response to the Windsor Report. Those questions have now been conclusively answered by TEC, and a different decision is now required if the Communion is to survive.
Separately, when Ian Douglas was consecrated bishop he was disqualified from membership in the ACC (and its standing committee) since that would give TEC two bishops among its three members, which is not permitted under the ACC constitution. As The Church of England Newspaper reports, both TEC and Douglas take the position that he can be elected in June to the episcopal seat of the retiring Catharine Roskam (who continues to serve under ACC rules until just before the next meeting) and thereby remain on the ACC standing committee. But this result would violate ACC rules, and this position entails in any event the recognition that his current clerical seat has been relinquished by his consecration to the episcopacy. In other words, his seat on the ACC standing committee is already vacant, and he cannot resume that seat if he is elected to Roskam’s seat, which would not take effect until the next ACC meeting in any event under ACC rules (Resolution 4:28). Under the ACC bylaws (Article 7) the standing committee is now required to appoint a clerical member to fill the seat on the standing committee formerly held by Douglas.
Indeed, there is a precisely analogous situation in Canada to that of Douglas and TEC. Stephen Andrews, like Douglas, went to ACC-14 in Jamaica as a clergy member for his first meeting. After ACC-14, Andrews was consecrated bishop by the Anglican Church of Canada. Canada understands that Andrews ceased to be a member of the ACC upon his consecration and therefore that he has now been replaced by his clerical alternate. Indeed, Andrews was elected bishop before ACC-14, but his consecration delayed until after the meeting in Jamaica (we are told) precisely because Canada understood the ACC implications of his consecration. If TEC is permitted to circumvent the ACC rules to keep Douglas on the ACC and its standing committee, especially after the decision to disqualify Uganda’s chosen ACC representative at Jamaica, any remaining trust in the ACC will be lost forever.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Covenant Anglican Provinces Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia Anglican Church of Canada Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
We are now less than six days from ECUSA's "consecration" of a partnered lesbian to the (ECUSAn, at any rate) episcopacy. As I wrote in this earlier post, in so consecrating Canon Mary Glasspool, ECUSA will shoot itself in the foot. Even so, the silence from Lambeth Palace over the past weeks has been deafening.
Contrast to the present scenario the weeks following the confirmation of the election of V. Gene Robinson as bishop by both Houses at General Convention 2003....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Covenant Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)
What has been exercising the minds of Anglicans in recent years, as the culture wars over human sexuality have raged, is the relationship of Unity and Truth. How to reconcile radically divergent opinions in a single communion?
Some have put a premium on Truth – and so have been prepared to take unilateral action or to cross ecclesial boundaries in order to uphold it. Others have openly preferred Unity. Heresy, as one American bishop tersely put it, is to be preferred to schism.
And there has been no respite. No sooner had the crisis over women in the episcopate subsided than another conflict took its place – over the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of practising homosexuals....
The Windsor Report (2004), instead of addressing this pressing issue head on, chose by procedural sleight of hand to avoid it:
‘The mandate of this Commission has been to examine, and make recommendations in relation to, the formal results, in terms of our Communion one with another within Anglicanism, of the recent events which have been described. We repeat that we have not been invited, and are not intending, to comment or make recommendations on the theological andethical mailers concerning the practice of same sex relations and the "blessing or ordination or consecration of those who engage in them [italics theirs].
Having outlined the problems, and sketched the deeper symptoms we believe to lie beneath them, it is time to examine more fully, in this Section, the nature of the Communion we share, the bonds which hold it together, the ways in which all this can be threatened and how such threats might be met.’
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He went on to say that the Anglican Communion had been reflecting on the need for a covenant "in the light of confusion, brokenness and tension within our Anglican family – brokenness and a tension that has been made still more acute by recent decisions in some of our Provinces.?
"In all your minds there will be questions around the election and consecration of Mary Glasspool in Los Angeles. All of us share the concern that in this decision and action the Episcopal Church has deepened the divide between itself and the rest of the Anglican family. And as I speak to you now, I am in discussion with a number of people around the world about what consequences might follow from that decision, and how we express the sense that most Anglicans will want to express, that this decision cannot speak for our common mind.
"But I hope also in your thinking about this and in your reacting to it, you’ll bear in mind that there are no quick solutions for the wounds of the Body of Christ. It is the work of the Spirit that heals the Body of Christ, not the plans or the statements of any group, or any person, or any instrument of communion. Naturally we seek to minimize the damage, to heal the hurts, to strengthen our mission, to make sure that it goes forward with integrity and conviction.? Naturally, there are decisions that have to be taken.? But at the same time we must all...share in a sense of repentance and willingness to be renewed by the Spirit.
Read it carefully and read it all and note if you desire to you can watch the full address on video there.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Global South Churches & Primates Global South to South Encounter 4 in Singapore April 2010 Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Virginia has declined to consent to the election of the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool as bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles because, in the view of a majority of the Committee, her election is inconsistent with the moratorium agreed to by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. That majority believes that, at this time, failure by individual dioceses to respect the Church's agreement to the moratorium would be detrimental to the good order of our Church and bring into question its reliability as an institution. The committee found no other reason to withhold its consent to the election of Canon Glasspool.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings
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