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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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(Michael Carreker was rector of Saint John's, Savannah Georgia at the time this was written--KSH).
The workings of God’s good providence are never failing and always glorious, but none more so than the events of these last two weeks. This past weekend we hosted a conference of the Georgia Chapter of the American Anglican Council, followed by the southeastern convocation of the Anglican Communion Network, and this coming weekend is the dedication of our newly refurbished building for Christian education, Cranmer Hall.
In the first instance, it was a joy to sponsor these conferences along with Christ Church. An enormous amount of good will was shared between our parishes: extensive preparation and flawless execution. Mostly responsible for this were Patti Victor of St. John’s and Carol Rodgers Smith of Christ Church. While significant differences distinguish our churches - in a very inadequate way we might refer to us as Anglo-Catholic and to them as Evangelical - we stand together now in solidarity with those who claim the essentials of what it means to be within the Anglican Communion and the Church Catholic.
All of this might not have been possible for our churches, if by God’s good providence, Dr. [Marcus] Robertson [of Christ Church, Savannah at the time] and I had not shared in a theological seminar for a year before the chaos of General Convention 2003. That seminar, as does all proper theological thinking, helped to establish trust, charity, and mutual joy.
The meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the American Anglican Council was very encouraging. There were a number of parishes represented from the Diocese of Georgia, and a few from the Diocese of Atlanta, as well as some from outside Georgia. We also heard from a young, courageous priest (an old friend from North Fulton High School in Atlanta), Dr. Foley Beach. His story of the gradual decline in the Diocese of Atlanta away from the Catholic faith was sobering indeed. But the story of how his faithful parish has come under the pastoral oversight of an orthodox bishop, the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyon of the Diocese of Bolivia, was inspiring and hopeful.
On Monday, at the meeting of the Anglican Communion Network, Dr. Beach’s story was put in a much broader context when the Rt. Rev. Alex Dickson, retired bishop of West Tennessee, recalled for us the history of the past forty years and the gradual doctrinal decline of the Episcopal Church, something we have all come to recognize has come full force with ECUSA’s action in New Hampshire.
But what was most gratifying to me was the evidence of providence again, when we had the Rev’d Canon Michael Green, Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, preach for us
at Evensong. Lynne and I attended St. Aldate’s Church at Oxford in the late seventies when Canon Green was the rector there. It was the time of Professor Maurice Wiles and the infamous publication of his The Myth of God Incarnate, to which, in a miraculous six weeks, a volume was published refuting Wiles’ book, entitled The Truth of God Incarnate, edited by Michael Green. He was a defender of the faith then and he is now. His sermon and the most exquisite Evensong of the Choir was another glistening of our Lord’s providence.
The rest of the Anglican Communion Network meeting saw a resolve for us to embrace the recommendations of the Windsor Report. The ACN has as its primary goal to be an orthodox Christian fellowship which holds to the supremacy of Holy Scripture, the historic formularies of the Anglican Church, and is in communion with the worldwide Anglican Church.
As for this coming Sunday, we dedicate our newly refurbished Christian education building, Cranmer Hall. I believe this must be seen within the larger context of what St. John’s has been, is, and shall be.
Our church has been devoted first of all to the worship of Almighty God. It is wonderful when you hear, as I did the other night, people speaking of Bible studies and study groups in which they have discerned through the Bible and elsewhere that the first need that they have is the worship of God. That is why St. John’s has not given herself over entirely to practical concerns, but keeps the focus of worship primary.
Cranmer Hall represents now the commitment to educate ourselves and our children more completely in the orthodox Christen faith. Its Rose window is s symbol of what such teaching means.
At its center is the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, enveloped by the Triune God. From this center, the window moves outward through the symbols of the twelve Apostles to twelve saints and worthies who made a profound influence on the development of Anglican spirituality. It is our intention to live into that heritage more fully and to share and teach it as well.
But more is required. We as a parish must prepare ourselves for greater mission work than in the recent past. We sometimes forget that St. John’s was a mission of Christ Church, and that St. Paul’s (originally St. Matthew’s and later renamed) was a mission undertaken by St. John’s. It is time now for other mission churches to be founded and for greater cooperation with Anglican Churches throughout the wider Communion. The ministry of Elliott House is set and on its way with our fourth theological seminar coming up in January. But now it is important for us to reach out in other ways to establish Christian mission in the Anglican Way. That will not happen unless we live into the theme of the Rose Window, and cultivate our heritage as orthodox Anglican Christians with missionary fervor.
Finally, the work of the Building Committee has now come to a very happy end. We should all be grateful for the many gifts and hours of labor, a labor of love, that the members of the committee have offered to the Lord and to their Church. Our Senior Warden and I have asked George Fawcett to oversee the final interior details of the building, and Martha has graciously consented for him to do so. As George represents a long family history at St. John’s, this too is a remarkable testimony to the good providence of God. And so with our profound thanksgiving, Soli Deo Gloria.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Georgia TEC Departing Parishes TEC Parishes Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology
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
Please bow your heads and let us begin as we should always begin, in prayer.
Heavenly Father and Gracious God remind us of who you are and of whose we are and of the message that you have entrusted to us. We are gathered for such a time as this and we need to be recentered, we need to be refocused, we need to have our call furthered clarified, and so Lord we need a word from you. Gracious God take my lips and speak through them, take our minds and think through them, take our wills and mold them and shape them according to your purposes. And take our hearts and set them on fire with love for your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
In the stories General Eisenhower used to tell about his associates in the military and the government, he had one favorite above all the others. He indulged in it frequently at the expense of one of his chief aides, whose name was named George Allen. George Allen had the distinct misfortune, the dubious distinction of having played in the record-setting football game with the most lopsided score of all time. The score was 222 to 0. It was a game between Georgia Tech and Cumberland played in the 1916 season. And, yes you guessed it; George Allen played quarter back on the losing side. After about three quarters of the game, when the score had begun to mount into the hundreds and the team was dramatically demoralized, there came an amazing moment, in one of the few plays where Cumberland actually had the ball, when the ball was snapped back to Allen and he missed it and fumbled the ball. The opposing linemen came charging in, and suddenly the ball was trickling around the backfield and B. F. “Bird’ Paty, who later became a prominent attorney, was looking at the ball and he looked up past the ball and there was Allen, who was shouting, “Pick it up! Pick it up!” And Paty looked at the ball, and looked at Allen and then he looked at the charging linemen and he looked back at Allen and said, “You pick it up! You dropped it!”
My dear brothers and sisters I want to begin this afternoon by being so bold as to say that we have dropped the ball. I believe as passionately as I know how to state that we live in a time and a church under judgment. The book you need to center yourself on brothers and sisters is the book of Jeremiah, and the theme of judgment hardly ever mentioned in the contemporary western church when it is unfolded in the midst of God’s working with his people you see it quickly doing three things: It does cutting, it hurts and we heard abundant evidence of that today. Secondly it sets out confusion, tremendous confusion. Read and think about the book of Jeremiah sometime and think about how confusing it was for the people on the ground. Do I listen to Jeremiah or do I listen to Hananiah? Do I stay in Jerusalem or do I go to Babylon. Maybe I ought to think about going to Egypt. It becomes so confusing for Jeremiah himself at one point in Jeremiah 20 that he doesn’t even know to his own instincts and he almost internally self-destructs. But my dear brothers and sisters, a time of judgment is not only a time of cutting, though it is that, it is not only a time of confusion, though it is that, it is also a time of clarification.
And so the purpose of this talk this afternoon for just a few moments is to center us in our common faith and mission as we begin this 48-hour journey together. One of the things I delight in saying about my hero CS Lewis is that he had an instinct for the center. He knew how to distinguish between penultimate things and ultimate things and I need to say something to us as orthodox Anglicans. My dear brothers and sisters, we’ve not always done as well in making that distinction as we need to. We’ve got to learn to give those things that, even if they are precious to us, if they are not the ultimate things. We’ve got to recover an instinct for the center of whom we are, and the center of the message we are called to proclaim. Are you all with me?
So let’s think about Anglican essentials this afternoon. What is the center of who we are?
Number 1. All my points begin with the letter C, that is to help me in case I lose my place.
The first C is catholic; we are catholic, small C. What, Kendall Harmon was forced to think very deeply, what in its essence does it mean to be a catholic Christian, because that, I believe, is what we are.
It means first of all that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. It means there is such a thing, to use Thomas Oden’s wonderful phrase, as a history of the Holy Spirit. So that when I did my doctorate at Oxford in the early 1990s and I studied the whole history of western Christian eschatology there came a moment when I confronted Augustine for the first time in earnest since college and I read the whole City of God and I sat there at Latimer House in Oxford with my pitiful little heater in the freezing cold temperatures, and I wept. Because I realized the Augustine had simply leveled every single book I had read in the last ten years, in the first three chapters. No wonder CS Lewis said he read three old books for every new one. At the end of City of God Augustine says, speaking of heaven, these wonderful words:
“There we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise. This is what shall be in the end without end.” Did you get that? “There we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise.” Do you know that is the finest summary in the smallest amount of words of heaven I have found anywhere? We have to drink deeply from the tradition that has been handed on to us, and unapologetically.
Sunday is the 300th anniversary of the birthday of Jonathan Edwards so permit a word about the man who is called America’s theologian.
George Marsden, who is the finest church historian in my estimation writing right now, has just released a brand new book on Jonathan Edwards called Jonathan Edwards: A Life (Yale University Press).
And writing about Edwards and his theology he says this:
“It is precisely because of the 20th century’s experience of human horror that Jonathan Edwards’ thinking on hell (yes you heard me use that word) cannot be so easily dismissed. Marsden goes on, Edwards believed (listen carefully to these words) that each person is “by nature incredibly short-sighted, self-absorbed, and blinded by pride.” Only a traumatic jolt could burst the bonds of self-absorption. Therefore the verbal violence of hellfire and damnation “was a gift of God to awaken people who were blindly sleepwalking to their doom.”
Interesting themes, heaven and hell, Augustine and Jonathan Edwards, we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. That is part of what it means to be a catholic. But there is more.
Second part of being catholic, it seems to me, is to believe in order. I found myself thinking about that simple gesture that happens in so many courtrooms. Order in court.
It seems to me what catholics are constantly saying to the church is “Order in the church, order in our worship, for crying out loud.” You ought to be able to follow the service. CS Lewis has a wonderful essay were he describes how the priests are always messing with the service and there is no structure that is predictable so that the liturgy can be vehicle instead of an obstacle to worship. Order in worship is important. It is amazing to me, thinking particularly about General Convention but also the general life of the Episcopal Church that since Thomas Cranmer gave us the Book of Common Prayer we have almost gone completely full circle and we are back to the very liturgical situation that he set out to reform namely there were too many liturgies running around and there wasn’t any order so he wrote a bookof COMMON PRAYER.
And yes order in the church so there is a certain way that we go about our business: bishops, priests, deacons, vestries, canons, there is a way that God set up the church.
And most importantly in our time order in the way we make decisions. Which means that to be a catholic Christian means that the more important the decision the more widely you consult, more people need to be involved, themore important the international leadership is involved. Hello, that is what is means to be a catholic Christian.
Finally to be a catholic doesn’t just mean those seven sacraments or seven sacramental acts or however you want to delineate them. It means more than that. To be a catholic means to think sacramentally. I found myself going back to that wonderful minor classic of Harry Blamires The Christian Mind. Listen to this summary that he gives of what it means to be Christian.
“The Christian mind thinks sacramentally. The Christian Faith presents a sacramental view of life. It shows life’s positive richness as derivative from the supernatural. It teaches us that to create beauty or to experience beauty, to recognize truth or to discover truth, to receive love or to give love, is to come in contact with realities that express the Divine Nature. At a time when Christianity is so widely misrepresented as life rejecting rather than life affirming [does that sound familiar to anyone?], it is urgently necessary to right the balance. In denouncing excesses of sensuality, Christians are apt to give the impression that their religion rejects the physical and would tame the enterprising pursuit of vital experience.”
And we don’t do it. There I was watching the opening sequence of The West Wing where President of the United States, Jeb Bartlett, has his daughter gone and kidnapped. He is in massive crisis. And what does this secular program do with a country and a president in crisis but it ends the first show of this season with the President of the United States with his hands open and a priest placing a wafer in those hands. Because he needed to have a sense of contact with the supernatural.
That is part of what it means to be a catholic Christian. Ya’ll with me? Stand on the shoulders of those who came before, a sense of order in the church and to think sacramentally.
I want everybody here who defines themselves as an Anglo-Catholic to please stand up. God bless you all.
That’s right, you heard it hear first, charismatic.
I had the distinct fortune of having my roommate in college be a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Darien Conn. And believe it or not, we used to drive from Bowdoin College five hours one way and go to two Sunday morning worship services and the Sunday night worship service and then drive all the way back to Maine. And the one thing about that parish that I remember above all others was that when you walked in people were there to worship God for whom He was in the beauty of holiness and it was astounding to see people do that. And that is my image of what the church should be.
Worth-ship is what the word means. To give God the worth He is due for the glory of who He is. I find myself thinking of that interesting play “Equus.” That interesting play “Equus where Anthony Perkins played Martin Dysart the doctor in the Broadway version when it first came out. The story of a boy who has a bizarre form of mental disturbance where he is obsessed with horses and this secular psychologist named Martin Dysart who is working like crazy with the boy who does nothing but talk about and dream about horses reaches this amazing moment in his life where he actually begins to envy the boy even though he is profoundly aware that the boy is deeply disturbed. Because Martin Dysart the secular psychologist, realizes that the boy has something outside of himself that is beckoning him and that he has to bow down to and Martin Dysart the secular psychologist has nothing.
In an amazing moment he says in a soliloquy on the stage, “Without worship we shrink!”
And that is part of the message of the charismatic movement to the contemporary church. Worship, brothers and sisters, is a priority. To meet God for who He is.
More than just worship from the charismatic movement. Power.
If I learned anything from three-hundred-plus Terry Fullum tapes in the early 1980s I learned that Holy Spirit was the power of God to be unleashed on His people and in His world. So that in the early 1980’s when Mount St. Helens in the Cascade Range of Washington exploded with what is probably the most visible indication of something called natural power that many of us in the modern world has ever seen. At 8.32 a.m. the explosion ripped 1,300 feet off the mountain, with a force of ten million tons of TNT, or roughly equal to five hundred Hiroshimas. Sixty people were killed, most by a blast of 300-degree heat traveling at two hundred miles an hour. Some were killed as far as sixteen miles away from the original blast. The blast also leveled those incredible 150-foot Douglas firs, as far as seventeen miles away. A total of 3.2 billion board feet of lumber were destroyed in that explosion, enough lumber to build 200,000 three-bedroom homes. That’s natural power. And what the charismatic movement importantly reminds us that we need to center ourselves in this afternoon is that the power of God that resurrected His Son Jesus Christ which is far more potent than Mount St. Helens and far more powerful is the power that rests in each one of us and in His church. Do you believe that with me?
Just one quick story about the power of the Holy Spirit of all places at General Convention. Thank you for praying for us, thank you for praying for me. It was the case that the Spirit was working and certainly one of the low points was the night of August 5th when the vote came down and I was a complete mess in many many ways and very upset not least because the bishops went overtime and so the bishops were in session after the House of Deputies were no longer in session and I was commissioned to read a speech in the House of Deputies as Bob Duncan was going to read a speech in the House of Bishops repudiating the action but since the bishops went overtime the bishops made their statement but in deputies I didn’t make my statement and I was not pleased about this. I said, “Lord, what are you doing? We worked on the statement, this isn’t working out.” And I had to make the statement the next day. You know what Jesus says in John 3 about the Holy Spirit. He says the Holy Spirit blows where He wills.
And so we were trying to figure out when Gene Robinson on Wednesday was going to be introduced. And John Guernsey and I are standing there at the computer and Jim Simons calls and says he is going to be introduced right as the session begins. So we work like crazy on the statement. Then Jim Simons calls right back and says no he isn’t going to be introduced so we slow down our pace and then he calls back and says yes he is going to be introduced. And we start changing our pace again. And then he calls back and says no he’s not and then finally one more change and yes he is! And so Guernsey changes it for the 400 thousandth time in the computer and I literally rip the page off the printer and I run across the street to get in there and sure enough Gene Robinson is introduced, and I have to read the statement. The whole time this has been happening I have been praying the night before and that morning and I had one overriding impression that was bothering my spirit very deeply. The overriding impression, brothers and sisters, was this, when we had the debate in deputies on same-sex unions and on the confirmation of Gene Robinson, and you need to hear this, no one, not a single person who argued for the change and the innovation brought into the debate a perspective of those beyond our shores.
And so there I was with my prepared text and I thought, what the hay, the Spirit blows where He wills, and so I spoke from the heart and I inserted a section in the speech that wasn’t in the text. I could just imagine Guernsey’s response in the back. The Enforcer [nickname for John Guernsey] was not happy. But the Holy Spirit had other plans. I spoke this point into the microphone and then sat down. And one person from Texas stood up and then the next thing that happened was one of the really amazing moments in Minneapolis for me personally. We had a deputy stand up from Honduras and he stood up with a translator and very slowly, because each phrase had to be translated, with this wonderful cadence he said, “I am a servant of God, in Honduras, and I am charge of 52 missions, and because of what this convention has done my entire ministry has been [and I quote him directly] has been washed down the drain.” And it was as if he confirmed exactly the point I made, only it wasn’t in my speech. The Holy Spirit did one of those things that the Holy Spirit is so good at doing. Do you believe that the Holy Spirit blows where He wills in your lives right now? That’s what it means to be a charismatic Christian.
First, catholic. Second, charismatic. Third, canonical.
All right, I should have said evangelical but it had to start with a “c”. You knew it was going to come to the Bible eventually.
I do need to say a few things about the Bible although I know that John Yates is going to say a whole lot more. My dear brothers and sisters, I am so proud this afternoon to say to you that we are people who be lieve in theauthority of the Bible.
I can do no better this afternoon than to quote to you the 1958 Lambeth Conference statement which I believe every Anglican needs to memorize, that’s how important I think it is. Listen to what the 1958 Lambeth Conferencesaid about the Holy Scriptures:
“The Church [they wrote] is not ‘over’ the Holy Scriptures, but ‘under’ them, in the sense that the process of canonization was not one whereby the Church conferred authority on the books but one whereby the Church acknowledged them to possess authority. And why? The books were recognized as giving the witness of the Apostles to the life, teaching, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and the interpretation by the Apostles of these events.” [Listen to this last phrase.] “To that apostolic authority the Church must ever bow.”
Now I need to say to you that the authority of the Bible needs to be understood by us a Christians as personal authority. It is a certain kind of authority. It is an authority that is personal, and I can’t do better than one of my heroes, Austin Farrer, who was the warden of Keble College in Oxford where I had a chance to study. He’s given the perfect illustration of what it means for every Christian every day to pick up the Bible. What’s supposed to be in my mind when I hear a sermon from this document, when I hear an adult education class on this document or when I read this document? What am I supposed to think that I’m doing? Listen to what Austin Farrer says:
“What is the bible like? Like a letter which a soldier wrote to his wife about the disposition of his affairs and the care of his children in case he should chance to be killed. And the next day he was shot, and died, and the letter was torn and stained with his blood. Her friends said to the woman: the letter is of no binding force; it is not a legal will, and it is so injured by the facts of the writers own death that you cannot ever prove what it means. But the lady said: I know the man, and I am satisfied I can see what he means. And I shall do it because it is what he wanted me to do, and because he died the next day.”
That’s what it means to read the Bible. It means to read a personal letter from God stained with his own blood. Is that your perspective, when you preach from it?
Something else about the Bible, not just the Bibles authority and not just that its personal authority, but that we as Anglican Christians actually believe not only in the authority of the Bible, but the importance of loving the Bible. I like this first psalm; it says something really amazing about the godly person. It says that the man of God and the woman of God is blessed who not only meditates on God’s law but delights in it. And the word that is used in Hebrew haphats means to have emotional delight in. It’s the word of a wife delighting in her husband, or a husband delighting in his wife. We’re to have a delight of scripture. We’re to love it, not simply to read it although we should and not simply to be under its authority although we should, we need to love it, to care about it, and to steward it.
My own hero Charles Simeon (1759-1836) preached his way through the Bible and taught his congregation of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Cambridge, England not only that the Bible was authoritative but it was something to be loved. He once said this: “I love the simplicity of the Scriptures, I wish to receive and inculcate every truth precisely in the way and to the extent that it is set forth in the inspired Volume. Were this the habit of alldivines, there would soon be an end of most of the controversies that have agitated and divided the Church of Christ.”
Do we love the Bible, brothers and sisters? Love the Bible.
So what have I said so far? I said we’re catholics, I said we’re
charismatics, and I said we’re canonical. And I said we are under judgment. And I find myself gravitating to that fascinating verse, in Jeremiah: “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, [in Jeremiah 29] plans for welfare and not for evil to give you a future and a hope.” With these bases what is to be our focus as Anglicans as we go forward into the unknown future that God has for us. What is to keep the main thing the main thing mean for us in this time.
It means three more C’s.
First of all Christ. I’ve got to say that, I’m sorry! But it is about
Jesus. It is about the unsearchable riches of Christ and since we are in year B can I just remind you in passing of the sheer power for a moment of Mark’ Gospel. He is trying to portray a Jesus Christ who comes into people’s lives in power and who makes an authoritative claim. You remember the way that Mark unfolds the story at the end of chapter 4. That amazing scene where he stills the storm. They say who is this that at peace be still he says. And they say who is this of ye of little faith and so Mark wants to convey to his readers that the Jesus whom he is portraying has authority over the natural world. And then chapter 5 begins and you have that amazing scene with the Gerasene demoniac who is out there gashing himself among the tombs. And he suddenly because of the power of Christ is placed in his right mind. Jesus who has power not only over the natural world but over evil. And then the story goes on and Mark has that wonderful scene where Jairus has this sick daughter and Jesus is supposed to go and on his way, you remember what happens, the woman with the issue of blood comes up and touches the hem of Jesus’ garment and she is healed. Mark gives us a Jesus who has power over sickness. And now we have Jesus who has power over the natural world, and over the demonic world and over the evil world and over sickness. What is the last story in Mark Chapter 5? He goes to Jairus’ daughter’s house and she is dead, forget it, it’s over. He says it is not over that she is just sleeping and he gets everyone out of the room except the family and he says to the little girl, “Talitha cumi, “I say to you little girl arise,” and it’s the Jesus who has power over death.
This is the Jesus, brothers and sisters, that we need to unapologetically proclaim. The Jesus who makes a powerful claim, power over nature, power over the demonic, power over sickness and power the last great enemy of all, death itself.
We will be people who unapologetically will be about the Christ, proclaiming the unsearchable riches of Christ. We will also be people, next C, of the cross.
I’m not giving up on the Rite I language of the prayer book. “By His one oblation of Himself once offered, the full perfect and sufficient sacrifice oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. By the merits and death of Thy Son, Jesus Christ and through faith in His blood.” What is it that Paul says in Galatians 6? “Far be in from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” It’s got to be centered on the cross, brothers and sisters; the cross is the center of it all.
To be a Christian means not to think from the world or from one’s self to the cross but to place one’s self as Luther did every single morning at the foot of the Cross and to think and to pray out from there to one’s self and the world.
Two quick comments by way of reminder about the cross. The cross is the final statement of God about the depth of the problem. To think from the cross out is to be reminded of the horror of sin. In his wonderful book Compassion Henri Nouwen tells the moving story of a family whose name are Joel and Nida Theartiga that he knew in Paraguay. And this family in the course of their life and ministry the father who was a physician becomes increasingly critical of the government in Paraguay. The military is becoming increasingly abusive and the father can’t take it anymore and he speaks out more and more boldly. Finally the government acts and they take their revenge on this physician and his wife by arresting his teenage son and torturing him to death. The enraged townsfolk wanted to turn the boy’s funeral into a huge protest march, but as Nouwen tells the story, as they said their prayers and thought about it, they chose another protest, a more cross-like, biblical lament. And as Nouwen describes the funeral, what they chose to do was to take their son and to take his body exactly the way they had found it in the jail: naked, scarred by electric shocks and cigarette burns and beatings. All the villagers filed past the corpse, which lay not in a coffin but on the blood-soaked mattress that it was on in prison when they found it. It was the strongest protest imaginable, because it put the injustice of human sin on total display.
My dear brothers and sisters, that’s what happened on Good Friday. The Cross in all it’s ugliness, exposed the world and exposed our hearts for what they are breeding grounds for violence and injustice; for arrogance and pride; yes, for sexual sin and immorality; for moral cowardice, personal greed, and self-interest, and all else. The cross of Christ is offensive because it exposes and condemns our rebellion and rebelliousness.
But the other thing about the cross, the great thing about the cross if we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before, is that in the mystery of God’s working on the cross, God at that moment in history, the judge of history, comes into history and absorbs the judgment upon himself. PT Forsyth put it this way: “The cross of Christ is God’s only self-justification in a world such as ours.” Karl Barth put it this way: “God, by the decree He made in the beginning of all his works and ways, has taken upon himself the rejection merited by the man isolated in relation to him.” Total exposure of human sin, total absorption of human rebellion, he himself has born our sins. God made him who knew no sin to be sin, brothers and sisters, so that in him we may be the righteousness of God. Do you believe that?
My last C. Not only the Christ, and not only the cross, but finally, and here I think I get to my most heartfelt cri de coeur about the situation in which we find ourselves. It’s about conversion for crying out loud. A funny thing happened on the way to the 21st century in the Episcopal Church: The 1979 prayer book! The full theological measure of its ethos has yet to be completely felt but we are now at a place of enough distance from it to begin to reflect with each other about its real impact on our common life and if we do that, and very few people are doing it, the results are deeply disconcerting.
Think with me just for a second. A prayer book that has an underemphasis on God’s transcendence and holiness and judgment, combined with a very weak sense of sin, combined with a liturgical practice that actually makes confession of sin optional, combined with a strong emphasis on baptism, combined with a baptismal covenant which is decoupled from its trinitarian and scriptural mooring so that apparently the nearly everything I read in the Episcopal church what it actually means to be baptized ONLY is revealed the last two questions in the baptismal covenant: namely, loving your neighbor as yourself, and to striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being, combined with the predominant ethos of the American Episcopal Church which is liberal catholicism combined with the predominant ethos of America which is this weird post modern miasma of malnourished pluralism masking as real community, it leads to this, and I need to say this as clearly as I can: we have a theology in practice which moves straight from creation to redemption! A nearly universalistic or in fact completely universalistic worldview in which the fall and sin have in essence disappeared!! To be created in the Episcopal Church is apparently to be redeemed (at the most you need to be baptized) and so, think about this for just a second - what are the two most recent trends worthy of mention since Convention? Some people are arguing Gene Robinson was baptized, therefore he should be consecrated a bishop. It apparently trumps everything else. If you are baptized everything else follows, and then the even more important one which really flew under almost everybody’s radar screen, the huge growing practice in the Episcopal Church of open communion. So that at All Saints Pasadena the Rector gets up and says “who ever you are, where ever you are in your spiritual journey, I invite you to come forward for grace and consolation along the way.” Any reference to God the Father? Uh-uh. Any reference to God the Son? Gone. Any reference to the Holy Spirit? Nada. Now think about this for just a second.
Over against this barely Christian ethos, if you actually place what it means to have a biblical world view, you find yourself shocked, shocked because when you read the scriptures, Luke 19:10, the reason that the son of man came was to seek and to save the lost. God comes to Abraham and says, “Go to a lost world so that through you they will be blessed because they are not blessed now.” Jesus tells in Luke chapter 15 not one, not two, but three parables. The lost coin, and the lost sheep, and then–just incase we missed it–the lost son. And Paul can cry out in 2 Corinthians 5 “I beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” The overwhelming conviction of historic Christianity is: If you don’t have Christ you’re lost! Which is why number one on your sheet is to declare the great commission the first priority of our life and work. I don’t want to know when you come to see me whether you’re a good Episopalian, I want to know how many people in your parish have met Jesus Christ and are being transformed by His love.
One more Simeon story just about the lostness of the lost. I need to say this so strongly because it just is so rare in the Episcopal Church to see people that believe the way Simeon believed. I love this story. This is a first hand description of one of his sermons and the text on this particular day when Charles Simeon, a vicar at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Cambridge England, who lived from 1759-1836. Simeon is preaching and his text is “All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people,” that is his text. Listen to this eyewitness description. “And after having urged all his hearer to accept God’s offer of mercy, he reminded them that there were those present to whom he had preached Christ for more than thirty years, but they continued indifferent to a Savior’s love; and pursuing this train of expostulation for some time, he at length became quite overpowered by his feelings, and sank down in the pulpit and burst into a flood of tears, and few who were present could refrain from weeping with him” When was the last time anyone of us really cried for the lostness of the lost who are all over our parishes and our lives. God cries. The gospel calls. Do we?
So what have I said? What I have said is that what it means to be an Anglican is to be a catholic, to be a charismatic, to canonical. What it means to be centered in the Anglican essentials is that we are about Christ and his cross and yes the call to conversion. And now I draw my remarks to a close. Because this word this afternoon brothers and sisters has to touch us where we really live and breathe.
You remember I started by talking about the fact that I believe that we are a church that is under judgment. Did you catch the word that I used? I didn’t say they are under judgment, I said we. It’s a real downer to hear what happened as our panel well described to us about what happened in Minneapolis. And there is a danger that we face as we begin our journey together and the danger is this.
Any sense that it is the re-appraisers, that’s the way that I like to
describe them, who are responsible primarily or even nearly exclusively for the pathetic state of affairs in which we find ourselves and our church has to be abandoned. All of Israel I remind you all this afternoon was under judgment in Jeremiah’s day and the whole Episcopal Church is under judgment including us.
The so-called orthodox, that’s us, have an enormous amount to answer for in this time. Our sins of compromise, timidity, denial, ignorance, careerism, self-interest, party spirit, the list is very long. So hear this afternoon, my brothers and sisters, the gospel for all of us. Hear it well, B. F. “Bird’ Paty in that football game, in a losing game, looked at the football dribbling around on the ground and he didn’t want to pick it up. And God’s message to us in recentering us is: We have dropped the ball!! We have lost our center as gospel people, as catholic, charismatic, canonical Anglican people. Not only have we lost our center, but hear this well; we do not even have the power to pick the ball back up left to ourselves. But dear sisters and brothers hear the good news of the Gospel this afternoon. The God who gave us the ball, who has watched us drop the ball, through the cross forgives us for dropping the ball and by the power of the Holy Spirit gives us back the ball.
Will you take the ball back up with me?
And finally you’ve heard that word used by David Roseberry, realignment. You are going to hear a lot about it. It is in our preliminary draft of the statement. And I need to say a clearly as I know how this afternoon why a realignment within Anglicanism is indispensably necessary. There has to be a new realignment, there has to be a new and different future.
At Minneapolis the Episcopal church decided to risk the whole future of the Anglican communion on this one vote, all four instruments of Anglican unity said don’t do it, many prominent Anglicans leaders worldwide pleaded for us not to do it, and we not only did it but we did it without consulting them. This is not catholic it will not stand.
At Minneapolis the Holy Spirit was grieved and a way of life which is in contradiction to holiness was celebrated and blessed, this is not charismatic it will not stand.
At Minneapolis, the Scriptures were either quickly dismissed or incredible and deliberately twisted, this decision is not canonical it will not stand.
Most importantly and finally, at Minneapolis, the will of the Father to draw all people to himself through the cross of his Son, get this now, was replaced with a new and different gospel where a therapeutic Jesus embraces people where they are. It is a gospel of affirmation rather than the gospel of salvation. We have moved from sinners in the hands of an angry God to clients in the palm of a satisfied therapist.
So the Episcopal Church is now a church where people are officially led away from Christ. And this is why we need a realignment. You’ve got to understand this. Because with the new gospel you and I who believe the traditional gospel are the embodiment of a call to holiness and believers in a gospel which those who believe the new teaching see as unjust and unchristian. We are enemies of the new gospel. Beware underneath the call to participate in the Episcopal Church from now on there is lurking a passionate desire among some to persecute many of those who disagree with this new teaching.
I was on the committee that put out C-051. I remember it well there were 45 of us. Guess what the vote was? 44 to 1. I remember it because I was the one. And there was an incredible moment at the end of Minneapolis which is the future in the Episcopal Church if we don’t have intervention. And to my utter amazement, having written a one-person minority report, which is my prerogative as a member of the committee, I watched person after person after person come to the microphone and insist that my one-person minority report be expunged from the record of the Episcopal Church. It was astounding. It was like being in a family that has an Uncle Steve and they are pretending that he doesn’t exist and they go through all the family albums and pull out his picture and go through all the family history and erase those sections where Steve is mentioned. That’s our future brothers and sisters if we don’t have help. We’ve got to have outside intervention. We haven’t moved anywhere. The church has moved from us.
Our hope is in asking for a realignment in a church were are increasing under attack with a total sense of our own powerlessness to shape the nature of our coming intervention, and that’s really good news because Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
Are you re-centered with me brothers and sisters? Catholic, Charismatic, Canonical. We are going to be about Christ, and the cross, and conversion.
As we are seated, let us pray.
Lord, you are a great God and you have given us a great and astounding message. Re-center us, and enable us to be people who preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, and his cross, and who call others to conversion in His name by the power of the Holy Spirit. Forgive us Lord, for the ways that we have dropped the ball. We confess that we have dropped the ball Lord; we confess that we don’t have the power to pick the ball back up. Lord in your mercy, you, the God who gave us the ball in the first place and who watched us drop the ball. Give us back the ball Lord, by the power of your Holy Spirit, and bring us into the new and exciting and hopeful future that only you can give us. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams Anglican Primates Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * By Kendall * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship --Book of Common Prayer * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Anthropology Eschatology 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.
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Our final talk inspired us to a revival of the missionary spirit of the Toronto Congress.
In this spirit, we lay before you the following:
Communion is a missionary movement: as Stephen Bayne said at the time, our common goal is to plant the Gospel “in every place of the world”.Read it all.
Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence (MRI) remains a compelling calling for today.
We need renewal of the structures of the Communion so as to reflect the tremendous growth of the Church in last 50 years in Global South. As the Congress noted regarding the fact of mission: “the form of the Church must reflect this”.
We must reclaim and strengthen Anglicanism’s conciliar character in these structures and in our decision-making, as MRI assumed.
We are open to a fresh articulation of an Anglican Covenant and commend the role it can have in the renewal of our Communion, and we believe that we ourselves can have a constructive role to play in leading in this.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Reports & Communiques Anglican Covenant Anglican Primates Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Global South Churches & Primates Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
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.
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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.
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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.
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(This was sponsored by Guildford DEF[Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship] which is part of the Church of England Evangelical Council in England). You may listen to it all through the audio file which may be found over here (an MP3 file), or if easier here:
Herewith a flyer sent out as an invitation to this event:
The Guildford Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship invite you to an An evening with Bishop Mark Lawrence (TEC Bishop of South Carolina) and Bishop John Guernsey (ACNA Bishop of Mid-Atlantic) On 25th April 2012 at 8 pm At Holy Trinity Claygate, Church Road, Claygate, Surrey, KT10 0JPPlease note this is is a long evening of some 1 hour and 40 minutes. During the introduction the following people are mentioned--it is opened by Philip Plyming, vicar of Holy Trinity, Claygate, and then chairman, Stephen Hofmeyr, QC. There is then a message from Bishop Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford given by the Ven. Julian Henderson, Archdeacon of Dorking. Both Mark Lawrence (who goes first) and John Guernsey then give presentations of some twenty minutes which takes you to approximately one hour. After that there are questions from those present to the two bishops about the matters at hand. Archdeacon Julian Henderson then offers brief concluding remarks. Do take the time to listen to it all--KSH.
We are delighted that Bishop Mark Lawrence, the Episcopal Church Bishop for the Diocese of South Carolina, and Bishop John Guernsey, the Anglican Church in North America Bishop for the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, have agreed
• to bring us up to date with developments amongst Anglicans in North America;
• to tell us why some orthodox Anglicans have considered it appropriate to work within TEC whilst others have considered it appropriate to work within ACNA; and
• to explain to us how people within the two organisations who hold similar views are generally able to continue to support each other in spreading the Gospel.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts Global South Churches & Primates FCA Meeting in London April 2012 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina * Theology
The Covenant had been billed as a way to heal the growing splits within Anglican churches over a range of issues that centered on same-sex unions and homosexual bishops.
One of its biggest supporters was Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who backed the covenant's call to member churches not to take steps or adopt policies that could antagonize Anglicans in other countries.
Failure to abide by the Covenant would result in a kind of second-tier membership for independent-minded member churches.
Read it all.
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).
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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.
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Read it all.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has given his backing to a deal intended to prevent a split between the Church’s traditionalist and liberal wings, by effectively preventing openly gay clergy from becoming bishops.
However, last night the proposed Anglican Covenant stood on the brink of failure, after worshippers and clergy rejected it in votes up and down England. Two bishops voted against it.
Supporters of Dr Williams said that a defeat would be a “devastating” blow to him after he staked so much of his authority on the Covenant.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Covenant Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Global South Churches & Primates Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
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.
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“If the threat of property disputes is the only thing that holds us together, what sort of mission do we have?” he said. “Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom, not the keys to the building.”
He does not believe the quitclaim deeds will make congregations more inclined to separate from the diocese.
“Frankly, the people already believe they can leave because of the All Saints’, Pawleys Island, decision” by the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Distributing the quitclaim deeds was a liberating decision, the bishop said.
Read it all.
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[Bishop Mark] Lawrence said the national Episcopal Church is threatening the unity of the Anglican communion. He said in the diocese "while we are in the vast minority of the Episcopal Church, we hold positions that Anglicans have held for the past 400 to 500 years."
The 2 million-member Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members worldwide.
"I don't believe that the founders of the Episcopal Church ever envisioned a day when issues of theology and constitutionality would have arisen as they have arisen right now. I ask myself: 'What are we here in the Diocese of South Carolina called to do?'" he asked. "My gut reaction was this day would come."
Read it all.
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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
We are pleased to announce the establishment of an association of bishops in the Anglican Church of Canada who are committed to a policy of ‘gracious restraint’, embodied in observing the three-fold moratoria as enjoined by the Windsor Report (1). Between ourselves we agree to observe the discipline of the Windsor moratoria until such time as there is clarity in the Communion about the final status of the Anglican Covenant and our mutual obligations.
The purposes of the association will be:
1. To provide fellowship, support and accountability for those who are committed to remaining within the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Communion;
2. To encourage some of our episcopal colleagues who are themselves in dioceses deeply conflicted on matters dividing the Church;
3. To preserve and promote the conditions for constructive discussion of the nature of Communion and the place of the Covenant, particularly in light of General Synod’s express will that we study the Anglican Covenant;
4. To respond to a call issuing from across the Church for greater episcopal leadership regarding matters threatening our fellowship; and
5. To issue a message to the wider Communion that there is an association of Canadian bishops who greatly value the efforts being made to strengthen our common life through the Covenant.
The association is open to any others who share in these commitments and purposes.
+Stephen Andrews (Algoma) +Fraser Lawton (Athabasca)
+William Anderson (Caledonia) +Andrew Atagotaaluk (Arctic)
+Michael Hawkins (Saskatchewan) +Larry Robertson (Yukon)
(1)‘Gracious restraint’ was urged on the Communion by the Primates’ (‘A Letter from Alexandria to the Churches of the Anglican Communion’ (2009), para 12) and was a factor in developing the Anglican Covenant (see report of the Covenant Design Group, April 2009 (The Ridley Cambridge Report of the Covenant Design Group), para 3.2.5). The three-fold moratoria include: 1. consecration of clergy to the office of Bishop who are living in a same gender relationship, 2. the authorization of public rites of blessing for same gender unions, and 3. interventions by Bishops into ecclesiastical provinces other than their own. These were affirmed at ACC14 in Jamaica 2009.
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.
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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.
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[Anglican TV] ATV: What’s the most important issue going on in the Anglican Communion today?
[Greg Venables] GV: The vast majority of Anglican leaders worldwide, together with Anglicans in general, want to get on with preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ: the fact that there is a message of hope, and love and forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ.
But we’ve hit a problem. And the problem is that within what we call the Anglican Communion there is a significant group, which unfortunately seems to dominate much of the public life of our church, which is suppressing the truth.
The reason why we feel this urgency is because it is clearer than ever, even within our own Church, that we are under the wrath of God. Now that is not something that people like to talk about very much, and it’s not a very pleasant subject, but it is an important one.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011 Anglican Provinces Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone] Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
Given these shortcomings, it’s hard to see how the Dublin document advances even “honest conversation,” much less “our common life in Christ” (46-47). We will all have to do better.
1. With a full 15 of their membership missing in action, many for reasons of conscience, that the Dublin primates saw fit to produce any document at all on “the purpose and scope of the Primates’ Meeting” appears presumptuous and imprudent. In the current climate of broken trust, it was bound to be approached suspiciously. For what commonly accepted criteria of Christian decision-making were used, shorn of party prejudice? And if it is pointed out that the document lacks theological conviction as well as continuity with the recent past, this only creates other problems. Why publish such a thing, when the chances are small that the text, even as a non-committal working document, will be received by a future, restored Primates’ Meeting?
2. “No meeting can allow itself to be shaped wholly by the people who are not there,” said Archbishop Williams afterward, a sound general principle. Given the deep divisions within Anglicanism, however, which the several instruments of the Communion have proven increasingly unable even to address directly, much less resolve, it may have been better to call off the Dublin meeting altogether, as Canterbury reportedly contemplated at one point: refuse to press on with business as usual, in favor of an intervention or course correction. One hears an impatience in the archbishop’s statement that “two thirds of the Communion at least wish to meet and wish to continue the conversations they have begun.” Who will take responsibility for the whole by speaking publicly and candidly about the way forward and how we will get there? The archbishop himself has done so before and must do so again, as a “focus and means of unity” for the Communion (Anglican Covenant, 3.1.4)....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Primates Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011 Global South Churches & Primates Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
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
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.
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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....
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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.
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....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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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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In short when communion is not sustained by a central juridical authority but by mutual recognition and submission within the body of Christ, there must be a means of dissent that coheres with these formative commitments. There must also be a means of addressing dissent that retains communion between a dissenting province and the Communion as a whole. Ecclesial disobedience as set forth above provides both an instrument of dissent and a response that prevents communion from lapsing into constantly dividing segments.
How are mutually recognized forms of belief, practice and worship to be sustained within a communion that does not have and does not want a centralized juridical structure? Given Anglicanism’s commitment to locally adapted expression of Christian belief and practice, in a world of competing nationalisms a covenant based upon mutual recognition and mutual subjection within the body of Christ is the only way I see to achieve this goal. Nevertheless, a shared understanding of dissent within a covenant relation must be part of the way in which the Communion sustains its common life. Apart from such an understanding, those who dissent will have no wisdom about the proper way to express their dissent, the Instruments and provinces of the Communion will have no wisdom about how to respond, and the Communion as a whole will inevitably devolve into a federation or (worse) a host of fragments that once formed a remarkable example of catholic Christianity.
To return to the beginning of this essay, the Archbishop of Canterbury, TEC’s Presiding Bishop, the ACO and the Primates will all be involved in the upcoming meeting in Ireland. Whether they admit to it or not, the question of dissent within a communion of churches will rest just under the surface of all their conversations. One can only hope and pray that the issue raised in this essay, the nature of ecclesiastical dissent, will rise to the surface of their conversations and receive the sort of attention that will allow the Anglican Communion to retain its identity, its unity and its integrity.
More concretely, the issue is this. What steps can the Primates take when they meet to bring the question of dissent out in the open where it belongs? There is an answer to this question, and it involves all the players that will come to Dublin. First, because it is the Archbishop of Canterbury who “gathers” the Primates and because his office is the primary locus of moral authority within the communion, the answer begins with him. He has authority to set the agenda for the Primates Meeting, and he should announce publically that the issue of TEC’s dissent from the moral authority of the Instruments is on the agenda. Further, if as is rumored, the Presiding Bishop has refused a request voluntarily to withdraw, the Archbishop should employ his authority to gather and withdraw her invitation....
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The 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....
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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.
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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?
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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
Obtained via email; in wide circulation at present so important for blog readers to see; please read it all and follow all the links--KSH.
The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin
The Central Third of California
The Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb, Bishop
The Rev. Canon Mark H. Hall, Canon to the Ordinary
Dear Bishops and Standing Committee Members,
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin joins me in sending you this letter that outlines our grave concerns about the election of the Rev. Daniel Martins as the Bishop Diocesan of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois.
Our concern is not about the electing process, but about the suitability of Daniel Martins to be ordained a bishop in the Episcopal Church. We write to you now before the consent process is in full swing, so you will know of our concerns and have a chance to review pertinent information about Daniel Martins and his involvement in the attempted separation of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin from the Episcopal Church. We also request that you visit Daniel Martins' website (http://cariocaconfessions.blogspot.com/) and review his comments about the startup of the Continuing Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.
All of the material concerning Daniel Martins' relationship to the Diocese of San Joaquin can be found on our diocesan website (http://www.diosanjoaquin.org) under "Updates" on the right sidebar or by direct link at http://www.diosanjoaquin.org/dioceseofspringfieldconsent.html.
Daniel Martins came to the Diocese of San Joaquin in 1994 when he was called to be the rector of St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Stockton. He remained at St. John's until August 2007 when he accepted a call to St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Warsaw, Diocese of Northern Indiana. St. John's is the oldest Episcopal Church in Stockton (and was one of the leading parishes in the diocese.) Only months after Martins left St. John's, the parish chose to follow John-David Schofield in the attempt to leave the Episcopal Church. It is our contention that Daniel Martins did not prepare this congregation to remain in the Episcopal Church, but did just the opposite. St. John's, Stockton is one of the few incorporated parishes in the diocese, and we were forced to file suit to recover this property for the Episcopal Church.
While residing in the Diocese of San Joaquin, Daniel Martins was very active in diocesan affairs. He was elected a deputy to General Convention multiple times, the last time in 2006. The Diocesan Council meeting minutes on April 8, 2006 report on a discussion of the upcoming Diocesan Convention resolution regarding disassociation from the Episcopal Church. In response to a question as to why deputies to General Convention 2006 had questions about the timing of the resolution, the Rev James Snell is referenced: "Read e-mail from Dan Martins. Endorse substance of proposal but concerned that (1) language provocative, (2) timing is ill-advised (prior to GC 2006) - diverts attention, (3) resolution will be spun by Bps adversaries, (4) robs GC deputations of effectiveness and credibility at GC. If GC rejects Windsor Report, then it will be time to act and Dan will lead the charge." (See http://www.diosanjoaquin.org/doc/CouncilMinutesApr2006)
In John-David Schofield's address to convention in December 2006, when the first reading of the proposed change to the Constitution was made, he made the following statement, "Working independently of this Virginia meeting, three of our rural deans: Frs. Dan Martins, Jim Snell, and Richard James came up with a substitute for the original proposed changes to our diocesan constitution." This substitute amendment became the very amendment that the disaffiliating parties attempted to use as their vehicle to leave the Church. (See http://www.diosanjoaquin.org/doc/SchofieldAddr2006)
When former Bishop Schofield called for a vote in 2006 on this constitutional change removing the accession clause (after rejecting the motion for a secret ballot) and called for a vote by delegates standing in favor, reliable witnesses noted that Daniel Martins voted in the affirmative.
The Standing Committee and I contend Daniel Martins was instrumental to the process that led to first and second votes by the diocese to change the Constitutions and Canons that resulted in the failed attempt to unilaterally leave the Episcopal Church. Further excerpts from Diocesan documents are available at our diocesan website. (See for example, email dated June17, 2007 from Martins to Standing Committee http://www.diosanjoaquin.org/doc/Email6172007, Standing Committee minutes from June 2007 http://www.diosanjoaquin.org/doc/SCMinutesJun2007, and email from Dan Martins in December 2006 http://www.diosanjoaquin.org/doc/Email12182006).
We also urge you to read excerpts from Daniel Martins' blog entitled "Confessions of a Carioca." (See http://www.diosanjoaquin.org/doc/DanMartinsBlogExcerpts) The following are examples from his blog.
3-5-2008: There's a new group of Non-Jurors in the process of formation even as I write. They are former clergy and laity of the Diocese of San Joaquin. Their principled stand places them between the "rock" of their former bishop, whom they have loved and served loyally, but whom they cannot in good conscience follow to the Province of the Southern Cone, and the "hard place" of the noncanonical rump "remaining" Diocese of San Joaquin, which they cannot in good conscience join because it represents the raw exercise of naked illicit power by the Presiding Bishop, and because to do so would compromise their oath of loyalty to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.
7-13-2008: Now, aside from the ... what shall we say? ... ungenerous ... tone of the missive, it raises some curious issues. It comes as no news that, for a number of substantive technical reasons, I recognize neither the constitutional foundation of the "Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin" nor the authority of Bishop Jerry Lamb. By any rational reading of the Constitution & Canons of the Episcopal Church, we're talking about a bogus diocese with a bogus bishop, though they have some impressive-looking stationery. That they exist at all, and are able to maintain the chimera of legitimacy is a result only of the raw exercise of naked political power on the part of the Presiding Bishop. She is manifestly guilty of presentable offenses but it will never happen because the political calculus just isn't there.
Out of concern for the Episcopal Church, we urge you to review the information in this letter, on our website (http://www.diosanjoaquin.org/dioceseofspringfieldconsent.html), and in Daniel Martins' own blog.
Upon reviewing the materials, we believe that it is clear that Daniel Martins not only actively supported and voted to attempt to remove the Diocese from the Episcopal Church. Furthermore, it is implicit in his writings and actions that he clearly holds the belief that a Diocese may leave this Church unilaterally, which is contrary to our understanding of Anglicanism and the polity of the Episcopal Church.
In closing, the consent process, as mandated by our canons, is the only way the wider Church can respond to the election of a person to be a bishop. Accordingly, we would ask you to join us in withholding consent for Daniel Martins to become the Bishop of Springfield.
--(The Rt. Rev.) Jerry A. Lamb is Bishop of San Joaquin [the TEC Affiliated Diocese]
Members of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin TEC Polity & Canons Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings 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
The Diocese of Western Louisiana endorsed the Anglican Covenant at its 31st annual convention Oct. 15-16 in Alexandria, La.
Delegates passed by an overwhelming majority a resolution offered by St. Mark’s Cathedral of Shreveport that endorsed the Covenant. The resolution added that the diocese “remains committed to the Constitution and Canons of General Convention of the Episcopal Church while seeking to pursue our identity as constituent members of the Anglican Communion in communion with the See of Canterbury.”
Read it all.
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
(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
A proposal to separate the Episcopal Church in the United States from the Anglican Communion was rejected by the Communion’s Standing Committee (SCAC) when it met in London over last weekend.
The suggestion, from Dato’ Stanley Isaacs (Church of the Province of South East Asia), led to a discussion, and acknowledgement by committee members of “anxieties felt in parts of the Communion about sexuality issues”, the ACNS reported. But “the overwhelming opinion was that separation would inhibit dialogue on this and other issues”, and would therefore be “unhelpful”.
The Committee also heard the rationale behind the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost letter, which proposed excluding from certain ecumenical dialogues provinces that had breached moratoria. Dr Williams and the Communion’s secretary general, Canon Kenneth Kearon, said that the Archbishop “had not acted unilaterally but with the support of the secretary general”, and that they had acted within their powers. The action “had not been punitive in intention”, but had followed “the breaking of the agreed moratoria — in response to the needs of the Communion in respect to ecumenical dialogues and faith and order bodies”.
Read the whole thing.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Consultative Council Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
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 Diocese of San Diego has joined several other dioceses — including Massachusetts, Southeast Florida and Southern Ohio — that have decided since General Convention 2009 to allow some form of public blessings for same-sex couples.
The decision by the Rt. Rev. James Robert Mathes, Bishop of San Diego, reflects the recommendations of the diocese’s Holiness in Relationships Task Force Report [PDF].
“My approach on this matter, and several other things, is to be in conversation with the community,” Bishop Mathes told The Living Church.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
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.
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.
Read it carefully and read it all.
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.
Read it all.
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.
Read it all.
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
Christians in the West have just finished celebrating Pentecost, the feast which marks the day the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and rendered them able to speak om foreign languages
But in the schism-torn Anglican Communion there has been a little less hand-waving than usual. Instead there has been the descent of the Archbishop of Canterbury in admonition of his church, in a letter where he gives tongue to uncharacteristic displeasure.
After years of suffering the spectacle of the conservative and liberal members of his Communion fight a towering Babel-like war of words over sexuality, in which neither side has ever seemed truly to understand the others, Dr Rowan Williams has finally been moved by the spirit of the times to act....
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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.
Read it all.
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
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
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
The head of Canada’s Anglican Church appealed Friday to hundreds of bishops, priests and laypeople that they not let talks on the thorny issue of same-sex unions further divide the church or take on the rancour of the past.
Rev. Fred Hiltz said at the opening of the General Synod that there are still varying opinions in the church about homosexuality, but that a new, more conciliatory approach might dull the passions around it.
“My hope clearly is that we will be able to continue this conversation, live with some difference and to do it with a degree of grace,” he said at the triennial gathering in Halifax.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
"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
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
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
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
There are several aspects of Ruth Gledhill's argument that demand response. In the first place, it is shocking that she asserts with such breathtaking ease that the conservatives in the Anglican Communion — those who stand on clear teachings of the Bible, must give way to the liberals. There is no acknowledgment that this means the growing churches of the Anglican Communion surrendering to the agenda of the dying churches.
Second, the argument that an insistence on the importance of biblical sexuality means that these teachings are held to be more important than "the Resurrection, the Crucifixion, the Virgin Birth, and the Trinity," is nothing less than ludicrous. The issue of homosexuality may now function to place persons "on the Christian spectrum," but this is only because the liberal churches have forced the issue. Conservative Anglicans from Africa and South American did not raise the issue of sexuality — the Episcopal Church did.
One other aspect of this particular issue cries out for acknowledgment. One additional reason that the issue of homosexuality (and biblical authority) now functions so decisively is precisely because the liberal churches have already allowed liberal denials of everything mentioned by Gledhill on her list. It so happens that the churches that hold fast to those theological essentials are, almost without exception, the same churches that maintain biblical teachings on human sexuality. No real surprise there.
Third, the argument that the historic creeds and confessions and liturgies of the church do not mention homosexuality is obvious and simple — they did not need to.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Global South Churches & Primates Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
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.
Read it all.
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.
Read it all.
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
The arrival of Continuing Indaba on the Internet as part of the Anglican Communion web site makes visible the preparatory work already in hand for the series of pilot conversations between dioceses from different parts of the Communion to take place during 2010 and 2011.
Visitors to the new site will find an outline of the project,, which explains its origins as located within an African conversational method for resolving real or potential conflict through mutual listening and debate. The process emerges from the Indaba-style format used at the 2008 Lambeth Conference which is now being expanded to enhance the world-wide Anglican Communion in its quest to intensify relationships in the cause of shared mission.
These pages carry news of the initial series of ‘hub’ meetings around the world during late 2009 and early 2010 whose remit is to develop resources which can guide and inform the model conversations between participants from dioceses from across the world.
There is also a growing library of the resource papers generated from and through the ‘hubs’ in order to make them as widely available as possible for those wishing to follow the development of the Continuing Indaba conversations planned for 2010 and 2011....
Read it all.
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.’
Read it all.
It is important that this is not simply a matter of disagreement about biblical interpretation and sexual ethics although these are central and important. It is now very clearly also a fundamental matter of truth-telling and trust. In September 2007, at the Primates’ request and after meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, TEC bishops confirmed they would “exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion”. They made clear that “non-celibate gay and lesbian persons” were among such candidates.
When asked recently how they could therefore now proceed to confirm Mary Glasspool in the light of that assurance, one TEC bishop said this simply expressed where the bishops were in 2007 and they may be somewhere different now. At least where they are now is crystal clear. Both moratoria have been rejected. In addition, TEC is pursuing legal actions, with widespread concern its leadership intends aggressive action against the diocese of South Carolina which upholds the Communion’s teaching....
....the situation is now such that it may be better for the Archbishop simply to state – as one of the Instruments and a focus and means of unity - that TEC as a body has rejected the Communion’s repeated appeals for restraint, made false promises, and confirmed its direction is away from Communion teaching and accountability. It has thereby rendered itself incapable of covenanting with other churches and made it unclear what it means when it claims to be in communion with the see of Canterbury and a constituent member of the Anglican Communion.
Although decisive action is necessary, Archbishop Rowan’s limited powers within the Communion and his laudable desire to keep on going the extra mile to enable dialogue mean many think it unlikely. Some long ago gave up on him. Many, however, both within the Church of England and the wider Communion (particularly in the Global South which meets next month) have been patient and sought to work with him by supporting the Windsor and covenant processes. They need now to make clear that unless he gives a clear lead then all that he and others have worked for since the Windsor Report and all that is promised by the covenant is at risk because of the new situation in which TEC has placed us.
Read it carefully and 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
The paper aims to draw out the historic significance of the Anglican Covenant for the Anglican Communion. It begins by examining the nature and reasons of the “ecclesial deficit” of the Anglican Communion. It points out that the ecclesial status of the Anglican Communion has never been clarified. The Anglican Communion arises historically as an accident. It has never been constituted as an ecclesial body. The paper traces the transformations in the Anglican ecclesiastical map amid powerful global undercurrents in the second half of the twentieth century. It reflects on the emergence of the status of the See of Canterbury as “focus of unity” of the Anglican Communion. It proceeds to point out how uncritical adoption of the term “instruments of unity” from Protestant ecumenical dialogues led to confusion and mistrust among Anglican Churches. The paper then explores the potentials of communion-ecclesiology for the Anglican Covenant. It goes on to argue that the Anglican Covenant, grounded in the New Covenant, provides the canonical structure of the Anglican Communion. It constitutes the particular Churches to be a confident Communion of Churches. The inter-Anglican structures of the Anglican Communion should in fact be the ecclesiastical embodiment of the Anglican Covenant.
Read it carefully and read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Windsor Report / Process * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Theology Ecclesiology
Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop-elect Mary Douglas Glasspool has received the required number of consents from diocesan standing committees to her ordination and consecration, pending verification by the presiding bishop's office.
The Diocese of Los Angeles announced March 10 that Glasspool had received 61 standing committee consents, in an unofficial tally. A majority of consents, or 56, were required from standing committees in the Episcopal Church's 109 dioceses.
"I give thanks for the standing commitees' prompt action, and for the consents to the elections of my sisters," Los Angeles Bishop Diocesan J. Jon Bruno said on March 10, referring to both Glasspool and Bishop-elect Diane Jardine Bruce.
"I look forward to the final few consents to come in from the bishops in the next few days, and I give thanks for the fact that we as a church have taken a bold step for just action."
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's office has yet to verify the official number of bishops with jurisdiction who have consented to Glasspool's ordination and consecration.
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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 Windsor Report / Process
The Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce has received the necessary consents to her election as seventh bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles, officials have confirmed.
Meanwhile, Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction continue to provide their consents to the election of the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool as the diocese's eighth bishop suffragan.
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Los Angeles -- offering its weekly update of consents received from counterpart Standing Committees in 109 other dioceses of the Episcopal Church -- said on Feb. 17 that in the past 43 days, of the 56 total votes needed, Bruce has received 56, and Glasspool, 45.
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I am writing to share with you my decision to give my consent for the consecration of the Rev. Mary Glasspool, bishop suffragan elect, in the Diocese of Los Angeles. What follows address both the considerations of my decision and also my interpretation of related Resolutions of The Episcopal Church, including C056 and D025 of the 2009 General Convention. In the consent process of an Episcopal election, the Church asks all bishops with jurisdiction and all Standing Committees to review the election process and discern the candidate’s suitability as a bishop for the entire Church. Only in a few cases are there questions about the suitability of a candidate or the election process. On such occasions, it has been my custom to inform the diocese of my conclusions.
Throughout her 30 years of ordained ministry, the Rev. Mary Glasspool has been faithful and consistent to the ministry, doctrine and teaching of the Episcopal Church. This includes her current ministry (since 2001) as Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of Maryland. In the one area where there is controversy, she has been unquestionably faithful to the spirit of the Church. I have known her for many years, and I have known her to be an excellent priest, pastor, administrator and servant of the church. What I have read of her writings, her preaching, her guidance of parishes in discernment for either deployment or congregational development of their mission has deeply impressed me. Her efforts in formal theological continuing education have reflected a desire to grow theologically as a leader in the Church. Her commitment to Jesus Christ has always been clearly expressed in her ministry. As I have been in discernment about consent for consecration, I have had extended conversation with bishops with whom she has served. It is their experience that she has been effective and well received by all clergy and parishes of her diocese, including those of decidedly conservative convictions. Canon Glasspool has been invited to lead vestry retreats and mutual ministry reviews in all parishes of the diocese. She has gained a common and mutual respect with all church leaders in her diocese.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
There are more developments than just one that raise questions about the future of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. The one singled out for discussion here relates to the 161st annual Council of the Diocese, to be held on February 12 and 13 in Killeen, Texas. According to the material presented in The Texas Episcopalian and in the Journal (Volume I) and other material published on the Diocese’s website, one of the items on the agenda is a resolution that, among other things, accords honor to gay and lesbian relationships and states that God is made known in and through such relationships.
It is not so surprising that such a resolution would be proposed, but it is seems quite irregular that the resolution would originate from, and be recommended by, a majority of the Diocese’s committee on resolutions. Under the canons, the resolutions committee, appointed for each year by the bishop at the preceding Council meeting, has the duties of receiving and processing resolutions, conforming them to proper usage, ranking them by importance, and making recommendations if they so determine. The canons do not assign to the resolutions committee any role of drafting and presenting resolutions on behalf of itself.
In this case, the action taken by the committee was apparently in response to two resolutions received from a group of five individuals, including the Very Rev. Joe Reynolds, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral and the Rev. David Boyd, Rector of St. David’s, Austin. One of the resolutions put forward by this group upholds same-gender couples living in committed relationships, saying the relationships are characterized by “the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God.” The commentary accompanying the resolution affirms the integrity of such relationships and that some persons in these relationships are “in all ways faithfully participating in Diocesan life.” In putting forth its own resolution, the resolutions committee stated (as published in Volume I of the Journal) that it intended to preserve the spirit of the two resolutions that had been submitted by the group, while doing so in “a true and complete statement of unity and inclusion.” According to material on the Diocese’s website, in response to the committee’s resolution, Dean Reynolds, Fr. Boyd and the other proposers have withdrawn their original resolutions.
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Everything I know about Mary Glasspool assures me that she is an experienced, faithful priest with extensive diocesan experience and strong leadership skills. I believe she would make a wonderful bishop and that she is an excellent match for the Diocese of
Los Angeles. Her election there was logical and appropriate.
Nevertheless, it is clear to me that the ordination of an openly Gay woman to the episcopate will - at this time - have a serious negative impact on our relationship with the wider Anglican Communion, and that it may very well strain - to the breaking point - those bonds of affection which we have come to value with others, even with those who may agree with us. This, in turn, would limit or damage our future ability to offer leadership to the wider church around matters of sexuality and social justice, as well as limit our participation in shared programs for mission.
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We have learned today from Bishop Mouneer Anis that he has submitted his resignation from the former joint standing committee. Following so closely the release in December of the final text of the Anglican Communion Covenant, this resignation underscores the extent to which the Anglican Communion is at a major crossroads. At this decisive moment, however, substantial doubts have been expressed both publicly by Bishop Mouneer and privately by others as to whether this committee, now the standing committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, is the appropriate body to coordinate the implementation of the Covenant. These concerns point to the steps that we believe are necessary to restore the Communion so badly damaged by actions in North America over the last decade. In what follows, we seek first to outline the current structural challenges to the Covenant’s initial implementation. This will involve some important, if technical, analysis. Only then, however, can we make clear what, in our mind, these necessary steps for implementation are.
In summary, and on the basis of our continued conviction that the Covenant itself as currently formulated is a positive, faithful, and necessary basis for the renewal of the Anglican Communion and its member churches, we argue that:
1. The final Covenant text envisions a Communion of responsibly coordinated Instruments, ordered episcopally, that the current ACC-led standing committee is in fact undermining;
2. The current ACC standing committee is not necessarily the “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion” indicated by the Covenant text, and cannot therefore automatically claim the authority it seems to be assuming;
3. The current ACC standing committee has little credibility in the eyes of a large part of the Communion and ought not to be claiming the authority it seems to be assuming;
4. Those Churches of the Communion who move fully and decisively to adopt the Covenant must work with a provisional and representative standing committee, continuous in membership with the other Instruments, that will direct the implementation of the Covenant in a way that can eventually permit a Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion to be formed as envisioned by the Covenant text.
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...I have come to the sad realization that there is no desire within the ACC and the SCAC to follow through on the recommendations that have been taken by the other Instruments of Communion to sort out the problems which face the Anglican Communion and which are tearing its fabric apart. Moreover, the SCAC, formerly known as the join Standing Committee (JSC), has continually questioned the authority of the other Instruments of Communion, especially the Primates Meeting and the Lambeth Conference.
Some may say that the provinces within the Anglican Communion are autonomous, and each province is free to make its own resolutions. While I agree and accept the autonomous nature of each province, I believe that the participation in the decision making process that affects the life of the Anglican Communion should be for those who show respect in word and deed to the whole Communion - not those who turn their backs to every appeal and warning.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Primates Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Covenant Anglican Provinces The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East Episcopal Church (TEC) Global South Churches & Primates Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
Once in a while comes an historical event so momentous, so packed with unexpected force, that it acts like a large wave under still water, propelling us momentarily up from the surface of our times onto a crest, where the wider movements of history may be glimpsed better than before.
Such an event was Benedict XVI’s landmark announcement in October 2009 offering members of the Anglican Communion a fast track into the Catholic Church. Although commentators quickly dubbed this unexpected overture a “gambit,” what it truly exhibits are the characteristics of a move known in chess as a “brilliancy,” an unforeseen bold stroke that stunningly transforms the game. In the short run, knowledgeable people agree, this brilliancy of Benedict’s may not seem to amount to much. Some 1000 Church of England priests may convert and some 300 parishes turn over to Rome—figures that, while significant when measured against the dwindling numbers of practicing Anglicans there, are nonetheless mere drops in the Vatican’s bucket.
But in the longer run—say, over the coming decades—Rome’s move looks consequential in another way. It is the latest and most dramatic example of how orthodoxy, rather than dissent, seems once again to have taken the driver’s seat of Christianity. Every traditionalist who joins the long and already illustrious history of reconversion to the Catholic Church just tips the religious balance more toward Rome. This further weakens a religious communion battered from within by decades of intra-Anglican culture wars. Meanwhile, the progressives left behind may well find the exodus of their adversaries a Pyrrhic victory. How will they possibly make peace with the real majority of Anglicans today—the churches in Africa, whose leaders have repeatedly denounced the Communion’s abandonment of traditional teachings? Questions like these are why a few commentators now speak seriously about something that only recently seemed unthinkable: whether the end of the Anglican Communion itself might now be in sight.
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(Please note that this response refers to the thread below on the blog on which there are currently over 50 comments. If you have not read that thread I would encourage you to do so--KSH)
This thread must be one of the best T19 has witnessed, IMHO. Thank you to the many participants: I have benefited greatly from the discussion - not least the rigour and candour of much of it. Even if I disagree with those who do not favour the Covenant Process ...!
In my present little part of the Lord's vineyard, we have a really intriguing situation developing. For New Zealand is not generally known for its conservative style Anglican ethos (ven if it does have a strong CMS history)!. Yet, as we face the run up to its General Synod in May this year, some lines are starting to be drawn which will determine our long term future, for better or ill.
The Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia runs a quarterly national magazine called Taonga. The name is Maori for "prized treasure", a reference to the Gospel of the Kingdom of God in Christ Jesus. The latest Advent edition ran two articles on the Anglican Communion Covenant, one pro and one against. As with this Church's official response to the RCD, it mostly wants a 'bob-each-way' - even as it tries to be fair in its debates! See http://www.anglicantaonga.org.nz/ and the third set of links beginning with "Dr Williams hails latest Covenant".
I refer the T19 readership to these links especially since the article in favour reaffirms some of the stronger points made in this thread, while the one against - by a retired bishop please note - shows very starkly why the AC seriously needs such a mechanism as the Covenant, to arrest the dribbling into the sands of endless ideological pluralism. And it is clear to me at least the GS leadership has grasped this western ideological nettle very firmly, to refute it, as it seeks to bolster the Covenant Process to achieve an AC that still might be a vessel of worth in the Lord's hands for the global mission of the Church in the 21st C. Enjoy!
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Covenant Anglican Provinces Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia Instruments of Unity Windsor Report / Process
I have had my own disappointments and outright disagreements with Canterbury’s chosen course of action at various points over the last few years, and I have shared this with him personally. Where some have urged a “bolder” response to TEC, within the limits of his ecclesial and moral authority, I have urged the same thing. But I categorically reject the charges made here that he has set about to undermine agreements made among the Primates, as at Dar es Salaam, or to manipulate and ignore legal processes such as those in place at the ACC last May.
In the first instance, RW was personally a key player (not the only one) at getting the Dar agreement nominally accepted, through face to face persuasion on the floor, as it were. That has been stated by several GS primates present at the time. But the agreement was also made possible by the compromise work of primates who were not personally disposed to aspects of its content, e.g. Australia. The Dar agreement, in other words, was intrinsically fragile, based as it was on temporary dynamics and uncertain internal commitments. The sense of Lambeth, it soon became apparent, was that its prosecution was thereby vulnerable from the start, and at the first sign of withdrawal of strong support outside of the meeting, Lambeth decided that pressing the agreement concretely would be counterproductive to the agreements actual aims. These “signs” included TEC and AMiA both immediately rejecting key provisions, and their allies quickly standing behind them.
I believe that RW gave up too quickly, choosing instead (as he has consistently done) to rebuild alternative consensus for change through other groups (e.g. the Windsor Continuation Group). This is fair game to debate and criticize, it seems to me. But the notion that RW was the skunk in the patch here is, to put it bluntly, a matter of sinners throwing stones. The Primates Meeting had already proved to be, in certain respects, a place where bishops behaved badly, and the fact that it was judged to be a weak reed should surprise no one. I don’t believe it needed to be left at this place, but again, that is matter for debate.
As for the ACC, we all know that the running of this meeting was a procedural disaster that has set back the ACC’s credibility enormously, fanning the flames of suspicion by all and sundry. No one can mitigate that loss of trust or the justifications in general for that loss. But there is a long way between such generally well-founded worries about the ACC’s ability to do its job fairly and well, and condemning this or that individual with deliberate and malicious intent. “Manipulation” there was, I would think, although any precise assessment of blame is not possible to come by. And Canterbury’s role in this demonstrates confusion—albeit deeply regrettable confusion—rather than strategic subversion. Furthermore, the outcome with respect to the Covenant strikes me as a sign of recognition of this fact: amazingly expeditious revision, and starkly restrained in its focus. People don’t seem to admit mistakes much anymore in public; but the manner of this outcome adds up to an admission of sorts. That is my read of the matter, and I don’t think it is particularly pollyannish. Not, that is, in the face of the anti-Stalinists and anti-Czarists faced off against each other.
I remain convinced that those leaders—bishops, clergy, and laity—who can order their service to the church for the long haul, steadily and solidly faithful, ordered, engaged in commonly established processes of ecclesial life, honest and charitable, and perseverant in their commitments within and for the sake of the people shared (not just locally), will prevail. That is a promise of the Lord, it seems, to “those who endure to the end”. People like Abps. Chew and Mouneer Anis presently, or Gomez recently; and others. And, for all my concerns about this and that, Rowan Williams too has demonstrated a perserverence that is bound to his faith in Christ Jesus as Lord, and not to self-interest. From that certainly I can be strengthened. So should others be, whether or not they can affirm his decisions in this or that particular matter.
The views of the Primates were sought at the Primates’ Meeting in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, in 2007.
The change (in effect a change to the Constitution) required approval in principle from a majority of the provinces, and the Standing Committee just before ACC 14 in Jamaica in 2009 noted that the requisite number of approvals had been received. The change to the status of the Primates’ Standing Committee with respect to the ACC and its Standing Committee came into effect when approvals had been received. The company itself is now in the process of registration with the Charity Commissioners.
Read it all. Please note that it is unclear when Nick Kniseley quotes "the Secretary General's response," what, exactly, Nick is quoting from (that is, is it a personal letter or email to Nick, someone else, a group of people, or what exactly--KSH?.
...there apparently is a new ACC constitution (now referred to as Articles of Association) that changes the membership procedures for the ACC. This new constitution (which has not been made public) also applies in some way to the adoption of the Covenant by other churches.
11. On the second question, “who can invite,” the Covenant is explicit in saying that this may be done by the “Instruments.” On its face, this means that any of the Instruments, e.g., the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Primates’ Meeting, could issue such an invitation, which would then invoke the procedures indicated: approval by the Standing Committee and consents from the Primates.
12. None of this is meant to suggest that such an invitation is necessarily imminent, but the procedures are far more flexible and responsive to developing circumstances than many have been led to believe.
13. With these principles in mind, we urge all churches and dioceses interested in committing to the life of mutual accountability and interdependence required by the Covenant to adopt and affirm the Covenant as soon as practicable and communicate their decisions to the Communion and its churches. We note that paragraph 4.1.6 provides that “This Covenant becomes active for a Church when that Church adopts the Covenant through the procedures of its own Constitution and Canons.” Thus, the Covenant will become active as soon as member churches begin to adopt it, and the Global South churches have indicated their intention to begin doing so as early as April 2010. By committing to the Covenant, a church or diocese will immediately begin to share in the Communion life represented by the Covenant even as the formalities of the Communion Instruments necessarily will take longer to implement.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Covenant Anglican Identity Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils Instruments of Unity Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Anglican Covenant is now in its "final" form, and it has been distributed to the Provinces of the Communion for their consideration. It is not greatly different from the third draft that we saw several months ago. I believe that the first three sections are an excellent - truly excellent - summary of what Anglicans believe and have in common. The full text is available at: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/final/text.cfm
Section four is in a sense what the whole exercise has been about. The drafting of this Covenant was first proposed in the 2004 Windsor Report which was produced in response to the Primates' concerns over the election and consecration of an openly non-celibate gay man as Bishop of New Hampshire.
It has been a lengthy process, and it will not be concluded soon. But section four of the Covenant outlines a process by which the majority of the Communion might be able to declare that a given action on the part of one of its member Churches (such as the consecration of an openly non-celibate homosexual bishop) is or would be "incompatible with the Covenant" and there might then be "relational consequences."
From the beginning of the Covenant drafting process the Archbishop of Canterbury has been clear that he hoped we would create a Covenant that each member Province could voluntarily decide to "opt into" or not. He has envisioned a "two tier" or "two track" Communion in which those Provinces that choose to "opt into" the Covenant remain in "constituent membership" in the Communion, and those Provinces that "opt out" of the Covenant move into "associate membership" - something which he has compared to the status of the Methodist Church: it has an Anglican heritage, but it is really a separate denomination.
The Episcopal Church's Executive Council has said that the earliest time in which TEC as a whole can officially consider the Covenant is the General Convention of 2012. But, in his response to my inquiry on behalf of our Diocesan Board, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said that dioceses are certainly free to "affirm" the Covenant if and when they choose to do so.
The Covenant has created a procedure by which those Provinces that "opt into" it can take action on behalf of the Communion as a whole to declare that certain actions are outside the bounds of our corporate life, and while the "relational consequences" are not spelled out in the Covenant itself, they clearly are foreshadowed by those Provinces which have declared "impaired" or "broken" communion with The Episcopal Church over the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire.
Both our Diocesan Board and our Standing Committee have already affirmed the first three sections of the Covenant, and there is a Resolution to be considered by our 41st Convention next month to do likewise. Now that the fourth section has been finalized Fr. Eric Turner (who proposed the original Resolution) will offer a substitute Resolution that the Convention affirm the Covenant as a whole.
I have repeatedly said that I believe the only hope for the Anglican Communion is in following the Archbishop's lead in drafting and adopting this Covenant. I now urge the delegates to Convention to study it and affirm it on January 30.
It remains my personal commitment to uphold the Covenant, and I give you my assurance, again, that I will never consent to the election of a bishop (or for that matter a priest or deacon) living in a relationship of sexual intimacy other than marriage as the Book of Common Prayer defines and understands it (one man and one woman, in Christ).
Warmest regards in our Lord,
--(The Rt. Rev.) John W. Howe is Bishop of Central Florida
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As you may be aware, on Saturday, December 5, the Diocese of Los Angeles elected the Rev. Mary D. Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, as one of two bishops suffragan elected in that diocese over the weekend. This election, like all elections to the episcopate, must receive a majority of consents from bishops exercising jurisdiction (that is, diocesan bishops) as well as diocesan Standing Committees of the Episcopal Church within 120 days of the election. In response to this election, the Archbishop of Canterbury released the following statement on December 6: “The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole. The process of selection however is only part complete. The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees. That decision will have very important implications. The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold.”
Previously, the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting in Columbus, Ohio, in June 2006, passed resolution B033 that called “upon the Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on the communion.” There was much conversation at this year’s 76th General Convention in Anaheim about whether the actions of the 2009 Convention had repealed B033. We are mindful of the statement of this summer’s General Convention that acknowledged that “members of The Episcopal Church, as of the Anglican Communion, based on careful study of the Holy Scriptures, and in light of tradition and reason, are not of one mind, and Christians of good conscience disagree about some of these matters” (resolution D025). We reiterate our belief that The Episcopal Church should exercise the restraint called for by the Anglican Communion and, likewise, will not consent to this election.
This election in Los Angeles comes at a time when we are expecting, within the next few weeks, the release of the final draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant, which seeks to guide our common life as a communion of churches. Our diocese, through actions at Diocesan Council and statements from our leadership, has consistently affirmed our support of the requests of the wider Communion in these matters, as well as the ongoing Anglican Covenant process.
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 Windsor Report / Process
The 2.1-million-member denomination paved the way for her election last summer when it lifted a moratorium on electing gay bishops after the election of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson six years ago caused a split in the 70-million-member Anglican Communion.
The majority of world Anglicanism opposes openly homosexual clergy, and a majority of Anglican bishops voted against allowing them at the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops in Canterbury, England.
But the U.S. Episcopal Church ignored that sanction, selecting Bishop Robinson in 2003, causing an estimated 100,000 Episcopalians to flee the denomination to more conservative churches. Four dioceses also have pulled out of the denomination in protest. They and an estimated 60 churches are entangled in lawsuits with the Episcopal Church in a fight to keep millions of dollars' worth of property and real estate.
Ms. [mary] Glasspool had 153 clergy votes, with 123 needed to win, and 203 lay votes, with 193 needed to win. Mr. Vasquez had 87 clergy votes and 177 lay votes.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
This decision represents an intransigent embrace of a pattern of life Christians throughout history and the world have rejected as against biblical teaching. It will add further to the Episcopal Church's incoherent witness and chaotic common life, and it will continue to do damage to the Anglican Communion and her relationship with our ecumenical partners.
--The Rev. Dr. Kendall Harmon is Canon Theologian of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina
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Good morning. What I have been asked to do this morning is to report on where we are at this point of time in the Anglican Communion. It’s a fairly complicated picture so I hope I will be given the gift of clarity as I talk to you about this. Since the last time I reported to Synod on these matters, six things have happened. I want to delineate those six things and comment on them and then conclude by talking about a situation which at the moment is absolutely no threat to the Uganda Link but is a potential cause of difficulty in relation to our relationships with the Church of Uganda.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Church of Uganda Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts Lambeth 2008 Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
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“This will bring further recognition of our diocese as a part of the Episcopal Church, as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, and in communion with the See of Canterbury. When I shared with the Archbishop of Canterbury last month the plans for a resolution of this nature, he responded favorably,” the bishop said.
The bishop also spoke of why he believes the diocese needs to remain within the Episcopal Church.
“We need to stay where we are because our Lord needs the faithfulness of the ministry this diocese has to offer, and does offer, through the commitment of those who make this their spiritual home, and in turn are striving to build up the kingdom of God in this place and the life of Christ’s Church,” he said. “We stay also because our historic identity with the Anglican Communion demands it of us. Without ordered processes there is no catholicity, no claim to the ancient Christian unity, which we claim is at the very heart of whom we are as members of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.”
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As you know, in his July 27, 2009 "'Reflections on the Episcopal Church�s 2009 General Convention. . .," the Archbishop of Canterbury discussed the possibility of a "two-fold ecclesial reality in view in the middle distance. . .[whereby] there may be associated local churches in various kinds of mutual partnership and solidarity with one another and with �covenanted� provinces." God willing, should there come an opportunity for this Diocese, and likewise for the Advent, to remain aligned with the orthodox Anglican Communion and at the same time distance ourselves from the current direction and decisions of TEC, we prayerfully believe that you will take all necessary actions to remain aligned with the Anglican Communion.
May God be with both of you, and grant us all His wisdom.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
8. The autonomy of TEC dioceses has long been recognized as a feature of TEC polity. For example, the standard text on polity when many of TEC’s current bishops were trained was the volume in the widely-distributed official series in the 1950s and 1960s entitled “The Church’s Teaching.” It was written by the long-time sub-dean and professor of church history at the General Theological Seminary with the assistance of an “Authors’ Committee” composed of numerous church leaders. The author, Dr. Powel Mills Dawley, summarized the role of the diocese as follows:
Diocesan participation in any national program or effort, for example, must be voluntarily given; it cannot be forced. Again, while the bishop’s exercise of independent power within the diocese is restricted by the share in church government possessed by the Diocesan Convention or the Standing Committee, his independence in respect to the rest of the Church is almost complete.
9. Moreover, the preamble of TEC’s constitution explicitly identifies TEC as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, which it characterizes (quoting the well-known Lambeth Conference resolution) as a fellowship of “Dioceses, Provinces and regional Churches.”
10. Thus, in the case of TEC the relevant constitutional procedures for adopting the Covenant include direct adoption by its autonomous dioceses, which are the highest governing bodies within their territory and enjoy a particular constitutional prerogative concerning constituent membership in the Anglican Communion. Indeed, given the autonomy of TEC dioceses, central bodies such as General Convention could not commit individual dioceses to the Covenant over their objection. Thus, when the Covenant is sent to the member churches, dioceses are appropriate bodies to respond at that time under the unique constitutional procedures of TEC.
Read it all.
The Episcopal Church is in a Level Five conflict. It's not getting better, it's getting worse. We continue on this trajectory and the entire communion is affected. The best thing would be for The Episcopal Church to withdraw for a time certain, work through their theological issues, and then come back. Perhaps in that time, the rest of the communion will have worked through and discovered that yes, God is Doing A New Thing and glory hallelujah. Or not. Then The Episcopal Church can decide whether it belongs in the Anglican Communion.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Covenant Anglican Identity Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
An Anglican church cannot simultaneously commit itself through the Anglican Covenant to shared discernment and reject that discernment; to interdependence and then act independently; to accountability and remain determined to be unaccountable. If the battle over homosexuality in The Episcopal Church is truly over, then so is the battle over the Anglican Covenant in The Episcopal Church, at least provisionally. As Christians, we live in hope that The Episcopal Church will at some future General Convention reverse the course to which it has committed itself, but we acknowledge the decisions that already have been taken. These decisions and actions run counter to the shared discernment of the Communion and the recommendations of the Instruments of Communion implementing this discernment. They are, therefore, also incompatible with the express substance, meaning, and committed direction of the first three Sections of the proposed Anglican Covenant. As a consequence, only a formal overturning by The Episcopal Church of these decisions and actions could place the church in a position capable of truly assuming the Covenant’s already articulated commitments. Until such time, The Episcopal Church has rejected the Covenant commitments openly and concretely, and her members and other Anglican churches within the Communion must take this into account. This conclusion is reached not on the basis of animus or prejudice, but on a straightforward and careful reading of the Covenant’s language and its meaning within the history of the Anglican Communion’s well-articulated life.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Covenant Anglican Identity Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
THE first openly gay bishop in the Anglican communion yesterday criticised the Archbishop of Canterbury's suggestion of a possible "two-track" church. Gene Robinson, the Episcopalian bishop of New Hampshire, said: "I can't imagine anything that would be more abhorrent to Jesus than a two-tier church.
"Either we are children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ, or we aren't. There are not preferred children and second-class children. There are just children of God."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts Instruments of Unity Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process * Theology Ecclesiology
This may cross over into editorializing which we elves try not to do. But posting the roll call tables below, we couldn't help but be struck by something.
We have extracted the voting information for the 27 bishops who are known to have signed the "Anaheim Statement," from the larger table with all the roll call votes which is posted in the entry below. It seems very strange to us elves that a full one-third of these signatories claim to "reaffirm their commitment" to uphold the Windsor Process moratoria, while they voted FOR one or both resolutions (D025 and C056) that indicate TEC's intention to breach those moratoria.
Remember, as per all our caveats in the entry below, the vote tallies here are unofficial. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, but the C056 data in particular is still off by two votes (among the full 136 bishops who voted).
You can read the full text of the Anaheim Statement here
It includes the line:
* We reaffirm our commitment to the three moratoria requested of us by the instruments of Communion.
Re-read D025 and C056 for yourselves, and please explain to this feeble-minded elf how one can have voted YES for D025 and C056 and signed this reaffirmation. We're clueless.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Data Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
Thanks to the work of a number of T19 readers, led by Karen B., here is an unofficial tally of all the Bishops' roll call votes from GC09.
It includes the roll call votes for:
-- Resolution D025 (basically overturning B033 which urged restraint on consecration of further non-celibate homosexual bishops, etc.)
-- Rowe Amendment to discharge, (i.e. "kill without voting") Resolution C056
-- Resolution C056 (allowing development of SSB liturgies and "generous pastoral response")
-- Also, the currently known signatories to the "Anaheim Statement" are noted.
The listing is based on vote by vote review of the audio files of the roll calls for D025 and C056, and also draws heavily on the Rev. George Conger's report for the Living Church. (however the tally does not exactly match Conger's tally. There are 3 or 4 differences based either on what was heard on audio, or other published reports of how a bishop voted.) There are detailed notes and links to sources at the bottom of the table.
Note: the totals for D025 match the published totals. However the totals for the Rowe Amendment and C056 are slightly off by 2-3 votes. There are several votes which are impossible to hear clearly in the audio files. So these tallies should be used with caution, although they are believed to be 99% accurate.
Please send Kendall or us elves any corrections. We will of course post the official tallies from TEC once they are released.
You can download/view the PDF version of the roll call tallies table here
We're going to try to post the full table here on the blog, but that may be difficult. Check back in a little while.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Episcopal Church (TEC) General Convention TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Data Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings Windsor Report / Process
General Convention’s Committee on World Mission spent nearly 90 minutes Saturday morning revising a resolution that, while using polite language about preserving the unity of the Anglican Communion, ultimately repeals Resolution B033.
The amended form of Resolution D025 says the 76th General Convention acknowledges that God may call gays and lesbians, “like any other baptized members, to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church.”
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 Windsor Report / Process
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