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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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In the afternoon the second of two hearings was held by the Windsor (Report) Continuation Group (WCG). About twenty speakers from around the Communion spoke to the third part of the group's proposals following up on the Windsor Report. As you may remember, the Windsor Report called for three moratoria: (1) on same-sex blessings; (2) on the ordination of partnered gay priests to the episcopate; and (3) on the incursion of foreign bishops into territories outside of their jurisdiction. In the Windsor Report, the first two of these moratoria are to last until such time as the Communion as a whole reaches consensus. You can pretty much imagine, I suspect, how the conversation proceeded: very strong opinions expressed on all sides of the matter. The comments will feed into the WCG who will issue a report in anticipation of the meeting of the Anglican Consultation Council in May 2009.
It was particularly striking for me to hear the witness of two bishops in particular. The first was Bishop Michael Ingham. He reminded the hearing that the Windsor Report is exactly that, a report. It was requested by a body with no jurisdiction and one that has no authority to impose its positions on any of the 38 self-governing churches (or provinces) of the Anglican Communion. Unfortunately, Bishop Ingham reminded us, the Windsor Report has been elevated to be the standard by which Anglicans are to live together and has become such without our input or consent, and its interpretation seems to get more rigid by the day. Some suggest that the Windsor Report is the only way to save the Anglican Communion. Others suggest that it's having the opposite effect and that the increasing dogmatism toward the proposals of the Windsor Report will kill the generous spirit of historic Anglicanism even if the Communion holds together structurally. The all-or-nothing manner in which the Windsor proposals are being embraced might well hold the Anglican Communion together, but we will be a faint shadow of the great missionary movement for Christ we have cherished through the centuries.
The other bishop whose words were particularly inspiring was Duncan Gray, the Bishop of Mississippi. Bishop Gray spoke powerfully about his own journey of "discovering church" among those with whom he disagrees on issues and how important it is to him to stay in fellowship and communion with them. He witnessed to the fact that he has "discovered church" in lots of surprising places in the Episcopal Church and is deeply grateful for all that means. I can say, without qualification, that I have "discovered church" in the life and witness of Bishop Gray.
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