Sunday, September 30, 2007

San Francisco's Grace Cathedral welcomes Presiding Bishop

From EpiscopalLife Online, a story on today's visit to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco by Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori:

. . . Moderating the forum, Grace Cathedral Dean Alan Jones asked the bishops why media reports varied so significantly in their coverage of the bishops' meeting. The New York Times coverage, for example, has been critiqued as heavily skewed toward views and voices of dissident clergy, while the Associated Press was said to have captured more fully the compromise measure of "restraint."

The range of coverage "reflects the House" itself, Jefferts Schori said, pointing to the "variety of opinions reflected" in both the membership and its September 25 statement.

Asked by Jones to bring "a sense of proportion" to the current conflict, the Presiding Bishop cited reports that of the Episcopal Church's more than 7,600 congregations, some 45-60 of those have experienced votes by a majority of parishioners to affiliate with an overseas Anglican diocese. "That is well under 1 percent" of total congregations, and many of those continue in name and mission as Episcopal congregations within their dioceses, Jefferts Schori said. [I wonder how this corresponds with the new ECUSA stats that are now out?]

Jones further reported that active diocesan bishops of some five of the Episcopal Church's 110 total dioceses participated in a September 25-28 "Common Cause Partnership" meeting in Pittsburgh seeking a realigned structure for Anglicanism in North America.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, meanwhile, has affirmed previously that he will not recognize in North America Anglican Provinces other than the U.S.-based Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Anglican Church of Mexico.

Primates and other groups within a number of the Anglican Communion's 38 member Provinces are in solidarity with the positions of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, Jefferts Schori added. [Huh?] She further cited international learning that is occurring around the Episcopal Church's baptismal covenant to "respect the dignity" of all people. [Baptism to me is now being treated as a magic spell - a little water dunking, a few liturgical words, and one can do whatever one wants with no consequences, because one has been baptized.] A similar covenant is not in place in the vast majority of Anglican Provinces, the Presiding Bishop said.

Laity should be more widely involved in international conversations about the shape and direction of Anglicanism, said Andrus, bishop of the California diocese since 2006 and previously bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Alabama.

For the morning's liturgy, Andrus joined Jones and the procession in meeting the Presiding Bishop at the cathedral's great doors, replicas of Ghiberti's Renaissance masterpieces adorning the cathedral baptistery in Florence, Italy. After three knocks outside the San Francisco cathedral, the Presiding Bishop entered through its doors, and was later welcomed with a standing ovation.

The Presiding Bishop also blessed a new stone labyrinth [of course she did!] recently completed inside the cathedral nave. . ..

Read it all.

Rio Grande: Sadness, confusion after Episcopal bishop quits

From SantaFeNewMexican.com:

Clergy from the Diocese of the Rio Grande greeted Bishop Jeffrey N. Steenson with a standing ovation last week during a conference at the Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla Park, N.M.

The expression of respect and affection for Steenson came five days after he released a “very difficult letter” announcing his intention to resign as bishop of the 8,000-member diocese in New Mexico and West Texas. Steenson said his “conscience is deeply troubled about where the Episcopal Church is heading.”

According to clergy in the room, the response was one of compassion for Steenson’s realization that he could no longer uphold the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church, which has lost dozens of congregations in recent years.

But along with the sadness there was confusion, trepidition and, for some, a feeling of abandonment.

Most clergy and lay people had hoped that Steenson, a gentle, pastoral man, could help heal the rift in the diocese and in the worldwide Anglican communion over issues of governance and sexuality.

Steenson, who was consecrated a bishop in 2005, opposed the ordination of the gay bishop Gene Robinson in 2003 and official blessings of same-sex relationships. But he also believed conservatives and traditional people should stay within the church and work for change.

Now he has announced that he will join the Roman Catholic Church, which he called the “true home of Anglicanism.”. . .

. . . Earlier this month, members of the Pro-Cathedral of St. Clement’s in El Paso voted to leave the Episcopal Church, and Steenson helped negotiate a deal that will allow the congregation to keep the church’s property for $2 million. Two other churches in the diocese, St. Francis on the Hill in El Paso and St. Mark’s on the Mesa in Albuquerque, have also considered breaking with the national church and seeking other alliances.

The impact of Steenson’s departure on those who are teetering on the edge is a big question.

Kelly said Steenson’s resignation might cause some churches to decide now is the time to make a move because there is no bishop they have to get past. Others might continue to take a “wait and see” attitude. . .

. . . In the days after Steenson’s announcement, lay people and even some clergy flooded the conservative Web site standfirminfaith.com with comments on the decision. Many praised his character, but some posters accused him of betrayal for resigning rather than taking the Diocese of the Rio Grande out of the Episcopal Church. One writer even predicted a massive exodus from the church in the wake of Steenson’s departure. And a self-described former Episcopal priest, now a Roman Catholic, urged Episcopalians to “come home,” declaring that, “The only thing you have to lose is endless turmoil and distraction from Christ’s mission.”

In his own comments, Steenson has indicated that pressure from the right was a major contribution to his decision. [But note that the quote below addressing this is not from Bishop Steenson, so I'm not sure what was really said -ed.]

According to Raney [Ray Raney, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross in Edgewood], the bishop noted the intervention of ultraconservative primates, particularly those from Africa and the Southern states, in local dioceses has destabilized the conservative movement in the Episcopal Church. Because of their interference, it has become more difficult for more traditional Episcopalians to influence church policy.

“Each person must speak from his or own careful conviction. As long as people are able with integrity to speak, that’s healthy for church. We’re balanced by that,” Kelly explained. “But when people from one direction or another start leaving, that balance becomes unbalanced. I weep when that happens.”

But, he said, “There are still plenty of voices that are out there.”

Read it all.
H/t to TitusOneNine.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

"We know nothing of religion here: we think only of Christ"

From chapter 5 of The Great Divorce (1946) by C.S. Lewis, part of the conversation between one of the Bright People, named Dick on earth, and the "fat ghost with the cultured voice":

      “. . . Ah, Dick, I shall never forget some of our talks. I expect you’ve changed your views a bit since then. You became rather narrow-minded towards the end of your life: but no doubt you’ve broadened out again.”
      “How do you mean?”
      “Well, it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that you weren’t quite right. Why, my dear boy, you were becoming to believe in a literal Heaven and Hell!”
      “But wasn’t I right?”
      “Oh, in a spiritual sense, to be sure. I still believe in them in that way. I am still, my dear boy, looking for the Kingdom. But nothing superstitious or mythological. . .”
      “Excuse me. Where do you imagine you’ve been?”
      “Ah, I see. You mean that the grey town with its continual hope of morning (we must all live in hope, must we not?), with its field for indefinite progress, is, in a sense, Heaven if only we have eyes to see it? That is a beautiful idea.”
      “I didn’t mean that at all. Is it possible you don’t know where you’ve been?”
      “Now that you mention it, I don’t think we ever do give it a name. What do you call it?”
      “We call it Hell.”
      “There is no need to be profane, my dear boy. I may not be very orthodox, in your sense of that word, but I do feel that these matters ought to be discussed simply, and seriously, and reverently.”
      “Discuss Hell reverently? I meant what I said. You have been in Hell: though if you don’t go back you may call it Purgatory.”
      “Go on, my dear boy, go on. That is so like you. No doubt you’ll tell me why, on your view, I was sent there. I’m not angry.”
      “But don’t you know? You went there because you are an apostate.”
      “Are you serious, Dick?”
      “Perfectly.”
      “This is worse that I expected. Do you really think people are penalized for their honest opinions? Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that those opinions were mistaken.”
      “Do you really think there are no sins of intellect?”
      “There are indeed, Dick. There is hide-bound prejudice, and intellectual dishonesty, and timidity, and stagnation. But honest opinion fearlessly followed—they are not sins.”
      “I know we used to talk that way. I did it too until the end of my life when I became what you call narrow. It all turns on what are honest opinions.”
      “Mine certainly were. They were not only honest but heroic. I asserted them fearlessly. When the doctrine of the Resurrection ceased to commend itself to the critical faculties which God had given me, I openly rejected it. I preached my famous sermon. I defied the whole chapter. I took every risk.”
      “What risk? What was at all likely to come of it except what actually came—popularity, sales for your books, invitations, and finally a bishopric?”

U.S. church: Please invite gay bishop to Lambeth

From the Bible Belt Blogger (Frank Lockwood, the religion editor at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette):

ANALYSIS The Anglican Communion wanted the U.S. Episcopal church to stop consecrating gay bishops and to stop blessing same-sex unions. Instead, the bishops voted to maintain the status quo on both issues AND to lobby for openly-gay bishop V. Gene Robinson to get an invitation to the once-per-decade Lambeth Conference. No apologies. No backtracking. No firm promises. The Americans are calling the Africans' bluff (if indeed it is a bluff...) The Archbishop of Canterbury seemingly made clear this week that if forced to choose between U.S. liberals and the Global South, he'll side with the Americans. Now it's up to the Africans. Are they bluffing or will they break away? We'll soon know. The bishop of the Rio Grande, perhaps seeing the handwriting on the wall, announced that he plans to become a Roman Catholic.

Read it all.

BabyBlue VideoBlog: Report on the Anglican District of Virginia Synod and Constitutional Convention

From BabyBlue Online:

Hear a short report on the Anglican District of Virginia Synod and Constitutional Convention held Friday, September 28-Saturday, September 29. It was gathering of all the churches under the ecclesiastical oversight of both CANA and the Uganda parishes in Virginia. The VideoBlog includes a short reflection on Friday night's Dylan concert in Columbia, MD.

The VideoBlog was broadcast live at Starbucks, where they still serve coffee and chai.

Uganda becomes an Anglican haven

From Time:

This Sunday a number of Episcopal churches in America will be praying under a distinctly foreign authority. God is still in charge, but so will the Church of Uganda. The east African nation's Anglican Church consecrated Virginian John Guernsey as bishop earlier this month to lead 33 American congregations that have defected from the U.S. Episcopal Church, mainly because of the American organization's stand of gay ordination — a stance reaffirmed at a conference this week in New Orleans.

But earlier in September, in a five-hour long, open-air service in southwestern Uganda that blended Anglican hymns with traditional African music, bishops from around the world joined together to anoint the latest conservative U.S. cleric seeking shelter in an African church. Says Guernsey: "Uganda has become a haven for ecclesiastical refugees."

Wearing a slightly ill-suited, printed Ugandan shirt, Bishop Guernsey earnestly calls Uganda his "spiritual home." Guernsey is the most recent in a series of American bishops pledging allegiance to African churches that have strong anti-homosexuality stances. In September alone, Americans William Atwood and William Murdoch were also consecrated by an African church, the Anglican Church of Kenya. Anglicans worldwide have been divided since the U.S. Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church's American branch, consecrated Gene Robinson as Anglicanism's first openly gay bishop four years ago.

Anglican bishops met in Tanzania in February to issue an ultimatum to the U.S. church, calling for an end to both the appointment of gay clergy and the approval of same-sex unions. After a six-day meeting in New Orleans, American Episcopalians decided Wednesday that they will "exercise restraint" in doing both actions, but did not announce an end to its liberal position on homosexuality. The Episcopal Church also called for an end to the practice of foreign bishops consecrating Americans.

"The decision is inadequate — clearly, the Episcopal Church has torn apart the Anglican Communion and wants to walk away from the rest of the church," Guernsey says. "The Episcopal Church embarked on its course before there were African bishops and will continue to do so." He adds that American churches have become too dry and lost their vigor. In contrast, Guernsey says that Western visitors are often overwhelmed by the heightened religiosity found in Ugandan churches. . .

Read it all.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...

From the MiamiHerald.com:

Rift over gay clergy cools down for now

Four years after a feud erupted in the Episcopal Church over the appointment of a gay bishop and the formal blessing of same-sex unions, a surprising thing happened at the church's House of Bishops assembly in New Orleans last week: The dispute appeared to cool -- for now.

''I say it was nothing short of a small miracle,'' says Bishop Leo Frade, of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida.

But that doesn't mean vocal opinions don't remain on both sides of the issue.

Earlier this year, the leaders of the Anglican Communion, the worldwide overseer of Episcopal churches, demanded its U.S. church not install any more gay bishops, stop blessing same-sex unions and try to install more conservative bishops to accommodate more traditional church members. [Not sure where this last point came from - ed]

Liberal clergy opposed the demands. Conservative clergy sided with the Anglican Communion and its leader, Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury.

In the end, both sides issued a statement to the Communion and the Anglican Church's 38 primates -- archbishops or regional presiding bishops -- agreeing in spirit to the demands of no more gay bishops and same-sex unions for now, but gently rejecting Communion input on future U.S. nominations.

The concessions won't jeopardize the status of V. Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire whose 2003 election started the controversy. Nor does it invalidate blessings previously given at same-sex commitment ceremonies.

''I can't tell you how, but we all came together on this one,'' says Frade, who attended the New Orleans assembly. In the end, the vast majority of the bishops . . . voted for the statement that we presented to the church's 38 primates.''

Still, not all South Florida Episcopal clergy agree that the statement and concessions healed the rift or that it eliminates the possibility of a future church split.

''It is wonderful news that the Episcopal Church in the United States remains intact. But to me it was sort of like putting a Band-Aid on the sun,'' says Father Orlando Addison, rector of St. James in the Hills Episcopal Church in Hollywood.

``It just wasn't enough. The truth is the bishops and priests on either side of this issue are no closer to agreeing. This statement simply puts things off till the next general assembly of the church in 2009. [By which time, I will be long gone! - ed]

``Hopefully then [2009?? He's kidding, right?] we can come to a resolution. But I fear we won't, and the church will split.''

That fear received a small boost Friday when Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, unsatisfied with the New Orleans compromise, announced he wanted to form a splinter church.

The problem, Addison says, is that both sides disagree on how literally to take the Bible, which some conservative clergy say condemns homosexuality. . .

. . . Episcopal clergy like Father Sharrod Mallow, rector of All Saints Church in downtown Fort Lauderdale, argue that talk of an eventual church split is hype.

''The church is not going to split, not now, not at the next assembly,'' Mallow says. ``I'm amazed at what I hear -- especially in the media -- about our impending destruction. It's just not true.''

Read it all. As I've said before, it never ceases to amaze me how each one can see it through his own prism and ignore the rest.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Common Cause Pittsburgh Friday Press Conference

From AnglicanTV, the Common Cause press conference from Friday:

AnglicanTV schedule update

From AnglicanTV:

I am taking October off... I have been traveling on and off for ATV for about 15 months now and I need a break. Don't worry -- I have loved every minute of it!

This does not mean I won't be posting more video. I have several hours of video I will be editing and posting from New Orleans, Pittsburgh and other trips. However, I won't be traveling again until I go to some Diocesan Conventions in November and December. I think the first one is Pittsburgh on the 2nd of November and the last one is San Joaquin sometime in December. I will also try to make it to Mark Lawrence's consecration and any emergency primate meetings.

I am considering going to Lambeth, but I want to see how this exciting news from Pittsburgh shakes out around the world. Also, Canterbury has not responded to the HOB yet... I wonder what they (Rowan) will say. Is Rowan going to be real or is he still the only optimist left in the Anglican Communion?

So thank you all for your prayers, donations, and volunteering. Special thanks goes to ATV Reporter Anne Coletta, Richard Naff (huge donation and technical assistant in Bedford, TX) , and Rolin Bruno (technical assistant in New Orlreans).

Also, AnglicanTV has a new treasurer (Andrew Barnett) and we will be filing for 501(3) status. This means I will be getting more serious about fund raising and traveling to more venues.

Sharing His Victory,

Kevin

Notes from a clergy conference: +Schori to prevent departing parishes from Communion connection

From Stand Firm, a report from a Diocese of Rio Grande clergy member who was present at their recent meeting with the Presiding Bishop:

Notes from the clergy conference with the Presiding Bishop:

First, until Bishop Steenson’s resignation is accepted by the Standing Committee, the HoB cannot vote. They will mail a ballot to each bishop when the SC completes action, probably next Thursday.

Second, ++KJS is quite insistent that a clause be added to the St. Clement’s contract making it null and void if they cease to be an independent congregation of join another part of the Anglican Communion/ She, rightly in my mind, sees this as crucial for TEC. I believe she repeated that at least once and referred to that principle several times in the question and answer session. However, the agreement is signed, sealed, delivered and the money became an investment instrument the minute it was received. I don’t believe it can be legally reopened. But she is steely eyed committed to see that this clause gets in all the next agreements. “Warning Will Robinson!”

Third, two bishops threatened +Jeffrey, over this agreement with St. Clement. CO and I believe XX were the bishops. He was really upset by this –in tears and shaking- and it included deposition, law suits, not allowing him to resign. . . We were quite angry on hearing this. . .

I have met Bishop Steenson and a more gentle, thoughtful man would be hard to find. Whether you agree with his decision or not, the fact that Christian bishops would threaten him in such a way is unconscionable. Read it all.

Rewrite of "The Church's One Foundation"

To the tune of “The Church’s One Foundation”

The Anglican Communion
Was mightily distressed
When bishops of ECUSA
Their heresies expressed,
And in Convention showed not
Repentance or regret,
But chose to walk their own path,
Firm in their own ways set.

Political correctness
And chic diversity -
These are our church’s hallmarks,
And quite our cup of tea.
We follow where the winds blow,
We are the church of NOW.
We’re new Episcopalians
And trendier than thou.

Our gospel is inclusive.
(The other one’s passé.)
We welcome all the sexes,
Transgendered, lesbigay.
And though we’re loudly preaching
Our relevant good news,
We are a tad perplexed by
So many empty pews.

“To God alone be glory” -
This used to be our song.
With Katharine Jefferts Schori
It likely won’t be long
Before we change our story
And sing another tune -
Not Father, Son and Spirit,
But Mother, Child and Womb.

Our church has no foundation
And Christ is not her Lord.
She is our new creation
By our own mighty word.
The Bible’s too oppressive,
And morals leave us bored.
Who then is our salvation?
It’s our own selves - adored


H/t to Peter Ould, but the source is at this point unknown.

AnglicanTV: Common Cause press conference

From Kevin Kallsen at AnglicanTV on his broadcast of the Commom Cause press conference:

I am rebroadcasting on a different computer at 3pm est.

Thanks
Kevin

So, keep checking!

Common Cause Partners Press Release: Anglican bishops take first steps to new structure

From TitusOneNine:

In the grace, mercy and power of God, and in repentance for past disunity and disharmony, in thanksgiving for our full reconciliation in the Lord Jesus Christ, to give expression to our unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church as Anglicans in North America, and for the sake of our mission to extend the Kingdom of God, nurture faithful disciples through Word and Sacraments, seek the lost, and partner globally with other orthodox Anglicans, we hereby commit to do the following:

1. In order to achieve greater unity and strengthen our partnership in the Gospel, we the undersigned commit ourselves to the Common Cause Partnership as set forth in the Articles of the Partnership (see Appendix 1).

2. We declare clearly that we are taking this as a first step in the formation of the “separate ecclesiastical structure” in North America called for at Kigali in September, 2006.

3. In consultation with those Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion offering recognition under the timeline adopted, we intend a founding constitutional convention for an Anglican union (see Appendix 2).

4. Those presently-participating bodies which have not yet joined the Common Cause Partnership will decide at the next meeting of their legislative bodies, either to enter the Partnership or leave full membership in Common Cause, becoming observer bodies. It is expected that all presently-participating bodies will be able to enter the Partnership.

5. We will work together on the regional and local levels and avail ourselves of the various ministries of the Common Cause Partners. We will deploy clergy interchangeably as outlined in the Articles of the Partnership. We are free to invite our fellow bishops in this College to share episcopal acts and our sacramental life.

6. The College of Bishops will meet every six months in order to accomplish our stated objectives. The leading bishop of each Partner will serve on a Lead Bishops Roundtable, which may be expanded as they may determine. The Roundtable will advise us in matters referred to it (see Appendix 3).

7. We are committed to the Great Commission. We will make disciples who make disciples and plant churches that plant churches, not resting until the millions of unreached souls in North America are brought to Christ, until all groups on the earth have indigenous churches firmly begun within them and our Lord returns in glory.

8. We ask our Chairman to inform the Primates of the Anglican Communion of these commitments in the hope that our emerging common life will commend us to them as full partners.

Read it all.

AnglicanTV: Common Cause Interview with Bishop Duncan

From AnglicanTV, Kevin talks with Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Centurions Sought

From Touchstone Magazine:

Chuck Colson's Centurion program is looking for a hundred Christians to enroll in this year's class that equips Christians with worldview skills for ministry:
The Centurions Program is a distance-learning/networking program that equips Christians to engage a starving culture with the choice fruits of biblical truth. Studying under Chuck Colson and other great leaders and teachers, students learn to handle accurately the word of truth as it applies to every area of life and culture—including politics, education, mass media and the arts, bioethics, business, and marriage and family. And they gain confidence to speak persuasively and winsomely amid the stew of distorted beliefs and values.

Equip, educate, engage.
Each year we select 100 Christians—from hundreds of applications—and train them through an intense combination of rigorous reading and writing assignments, teleconferences, three weekend residences, worldview devotionals, monthly meetings with accountability and prayer partners, and a thriving online forum that supports a free-flowing exchange of ideas and experiences.

Will you consider becoming one of a hundred in 2008?
To apply, you can visit our website to download an application and get more program details. Or call 1-877-478-0100. We will be accepting applications through November 30, 2007.

Stand Firm: Running thread on bishops' responses

I was thinking about creating a list like this, but fortunately I checked Stand Firm before I started, and they've already started it!

So if you're wondering what your (or anyone else's) bishop has said about the HOB meeting and the resulting resolution, you'll be able to find it here.

HOB Shoe Thursday redux *sticky*

The Manolo comes through again with shoes that represent a perfect example of what was generated this past week in New Orleans.

fish sandals
Or, to put it in descriptive terms, "Tell me, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"

Bonnie Anderson, House of Deputies president, responds to House of Bishops' statement

From Episcopal Online, a statement from Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, on the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans:

The House of Bishops' statement, "A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by Our Anglican Communion Partners," is comprehensive. It calls for careful reading, reflection and discussion.

The bishops reaffirmed that they are partners with the laity and the clergy in formulating the Episcopal Church's response to the issues of our church and our world. They said: "Within The Episcopal Church the common discernment of God's call is a lively partnership among laypersons, bishops, priests, and deacons, and therefore necessarily includes the Presiding Bishop, the Executive Council, and the General Convention."

Equally important was the bishops' continuing insistence that gay and lesbian persons "are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church." They also called for all partners in the Anglican Communion to recommit to the communion's opposition to "any action or policy that...violates their dignity as children of God."

The bishops spoke on a number of other issues and I commend their entire statement to you for study. I also suggest that you study a companion statement offered by the bishops, which speaks about the context of their time on the Gulf Coast and how what they saw influenced and renews their call to the mission of the Episcopal Church. That statement and other resolutions passed by the bishops are being perfected and should be posted on the church's website soon.

Read it all.

That's Not My Church!

From Rob (who is in the process of becoming a Roman Catholic after being Episcopalian) at the Llama Butchers:

Nasty, Brutish & Short has the skinny on the collective answer of the bishops of the Episcopal Church, led by Her High Priestessness Katharine "Damn The Icebergs" Jefferts-Shorri, to the demand of the Anglican Communion that it get back in line. If you read the actual document, it's got enough carefully crafted waffle language to allow TEC to maintain that it really, honestly, is trying to work with the Communion, and probably also to give Archbishop Rowan "Follow The Money" Williams some political cover. However, the more conservative elements of the Communion, who called TEC to account in the first place, will see it for what it really is.

As it happens, I o-fficially resigned from my vestry this week in connection with my Tiber-swimming activities and I must confess that I'm glad to be shot of the TEC as she begins to sink. Meanwhile, NBS and (I suspect) a great many other conservative Palies, are trying to figure out which lifeboat to man. I wish both him and all the others the best of luck.

Read it all.

AnglicanTV: Must Watch: the Bruno Press Conference

From AnglicanTV:

Scott Gunn with a bold and very important post on the House of Bishops meeting

From Scott Gunn at InclusiveChurch:

. . . We need clarity now, not obfuscation. In the draft statement our bishops are now mulling over (as reported on BabyBlueOnline) the reader will find this:
No rite of blessing for persons living in same sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. We wish to make it clear that the House of Bishops has not voted to authorize such liturgies.

Well, I suppose in a Pharisaical sense that might be true. But SSB's are happening all over the place, with official sanction of diocesan authorities in a few places. Now I happen to believe that SSB's are completely in line with Christian practice and belief. And I long for the day when we can celebrate these blessed moments publicly as a church. But we're trying to have it both ways here. We're doing them, but we're saying that they're not sanctioned.

As a province, I think we should do one of two things. We should either come out and say what we're doing and why (with strong biblical and theological support), or we should stop doing it. If we take the first option, let's face the consequences, if any. It is neither honest nor helpful to do something and then say we're not doing it. It smacks of the worst kind of American imperialism to tell the primates that we've honored their requests, when we really haven't.

Here's another example. Resolution B033 from General Convention 2006 talks about refraining from the consent of candidates whose "manner of life" is problematic for others. Since we're talking about GLBT people, let's name them. It's hardly honorable to place a burden on a class of people (and on the whole church, I think) without showing the burdened class the simple respect of at least naming them. Why didn't we do that? Because our constitution forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation, perhaps. Or maybe because a motion that named LGBT people might not have passed that last-minute effort in Columbus. Either way, we've done something without saying what we've done.

Here's my radical proposal -- as solicited by Kendall Harmon -- for breaking the impasse. (I'm sure it's too late to have an effect in New Orleans, and I'm not sure any bishops other than my own bishop read this corner of cyberspace.)

Let's say what we mean, and let's mean what we say. All of us. Liberal and conservative. American and Nigerian. All of us. . .

Read it all.
H/t to TitusOneNine.

Michael Poon responds to Kenneth Kearon’s response to the House of Bishops New Orleans statement

From Michael Poon at Global South Anglican:

The Statement the Secretary-General crafted on behalf of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council is remarkably misleading. That such statement can come from someone in such high office in the Communion is an indication of the heart of darkness in the once Christian and self-proclaimed civilized West that is slowly eroding the Communion of its Christian foundations. Such encroachment on the Lordship of Jesus Christ upon his holy and catholic church – his rightful property – must end.

How the Secretary-General “civilized” the Dar es Salaam requests

Consider how the Secretary-General redefined the Primates’ request to the Episcopal Church:

The primates had requested clarification on the status of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention, and whether this did in fact reflect the request of the Windsor Report for a moratorium on the election and consecration of candidates for the episcopate who were living in a sexual relationship outside of Christian marriage.

Secondly, the primates had asked that the Bishops, as the chief liturgical officers in their dioceses, should mutually undertake not to offer public liturgies for the blessing of same-sex unions. (ACNS4323)

Compare the above with what the Windsor Report recommended, and elaborated by the Primates in the Dar es Salaam Communiqué:

. . . the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges. (TWR, 135)

In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church

1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144); and
2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134); unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, §134). (Dar es Salaam Communiqué)

Why such misrepresentation? The Secretary General acted strangely in concert with the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops to evade the issue of same-sex union. To replace the specific phrase “living with same-sex union” in the Dar es Salaam Communiqué with the general reference “living in a sexual relationship outside of Christian marriage” is an insult to and betrayal of trust of the Communion, especially to most in the Communion whose first language is not English.

In the second place, . . .

Read it all.
H/t to TitusOneNine.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

And now, for a different perspective

While I take a look at what "the other side" has to say from time to time, I usually don't post those here, but this one by Giles Fraser from the Guardian (U.K.) struck me, because I just have to say, it's almost impossible for me to comprehend how this thinking occurs. And so I must think that they would say the same about me - which just goes to show how amazingly far apart we are, not just in our theology but in our language and world view:

TEC bishops have bent the knee to the will of the bully
Uniting in homophobia, the Anglican church has delivered another blow to the battle against global religious fascism

After months of "Anglican church to divide" headlines, the end is, at last, nigh. Those Anglicans who are really no more than fundamentalists in vestments will split off and form a version of the continuing Anglican church, or whatever they will call it. And the moderate conservatives and the moderate progressives will settle down to business as usual. After much worry, the Archbishop of Canterbury will be able to have a good night's sleep. The church is safe.

If only it were as simple as that. The deal that the archbishop has brokered with the Episcopal church in New Orleans protects the unity of the church by persuading US bishops that the church is more important than justice. The prophets of the Hebrew scriptures would have been appalled. For all the high-sounding rhetoric about how much they value gay people, the church has once again purchased its togetherness by excluding the outsider. . .

. . . The sad truth is, the issue of homosexuality isn't splitting the Anglican communion: it's uniting it like never before. Before this great global row, we hardly knew each other existed. Anglicans in the pews could hardly care less about Christians in the next door parish, let alone care for those thousands of miles away in Africa or Asia. But as crisis looms, common cause has been achieved. The Rt Rev Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, has brought people together: hands across the ocean, united in homophobia.

It was the Episcopal church that held out longest against unholy unification. But in agreeing to these terms, they too have now bent the knee to the will of the collective bully. The fact that a fringe of rabid evangelicals may now quit the church must not distract from Rowan Williams's achievement in keeping us all together. A crisis has been averted. Gay people remain firmly on the outside; used by the church for vicars and vergers and sacristans, but officially little more than outcasts.

I have never been persuaded that Jesus was gay, as some do believe. But there is no doubt that he too was the outsider, despised and rejected. He also was the victim of official religious persecution. Which is why the other passage that today's Christians ought to give some thought to is the one from St Matthew's gospel that goes: "Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me."

Read it all. [boldface mine]
H/t to Walking with Integrity.

The Anglicans get ready to rumble

From Time:

. . . And in New Orleans, the Episcopal Bishops, in a near-unanimous voice vote, essentially confirmed what they had said less formally on other occasions: They rejected the notion of Communion involvement in the bishops they choose, promised to "exercise restraint by not consenting" to non-celibate gay bishops and pledged not to approve prayers to bless gay couples.

All of this falls short of what the global Anglican leadership asked for. Indeed, at the end of August, the Chicago Episcopal diocese named an openly gay woman as one of five nominees for a bishop's position. And a pledge not to come up with a specific prayer for gay marriages doesn't necessarily mean that individual priests won't continue to perform improvised ceremonies.

The American bishops threw verbal sweeteners into the resolution, stressing their "passionate desire" to remain in the Communion. Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori called the results "sacrificial," which might even be accurate, given the pro-gay-rights attitude of what is probably a significant majority of her flock.

But it may not be enough. The Rev. Kendall Harmon, a conservative strategist, was quoted in the Religion News Service as calling the results of the conference "insulting." Martyn Minns, a former Episcopal rector who jumped ship to take a position in a competitor Virginia-based Anglican "convocation" under Nigeria's Akinola, gave TIME what is probably a milder preview of his boss's likely response: "I think this is far short of what was asked for. It's a technical slide-by at best." The Associated Press quoted the Right Rev. John Howe, the conservative Episcopal bishop of Central Florida, as saying the statement wouldn't satisfy all Anglican leaders, but that "most will find it acceptable." But that may be wishful thinking on Howe's part, who despite his differences with church leadership says he will not abandon the American organization.

The Communion is scheduled to review the Episcopal vote over the next few weeks. It is always possible that Williams will be able to forestall drastic action against the American church at least until all the Anglican Bishops gather at their once-a-decade Lambeth conference next July. However, both the liberal Episcopalians and the Communion conservatives seem so fixed in their positions that it is hard to imagine that the current delicate balance can be sustained too much longer.

Read it all.
H/t to Stand Firm.

AnglicanTV: Common Cause Pittsburgh keynote speaker

From AnglicanTV:



THIS VIDEO IS A MINISTRY OF ANGLICANTV.ORG

Joint Statement on the Resolution of the House of Bishops

From the Anglican Communion Network:

Joint Statement on the Resolution of the House of Bishops

Three orthodox Anglican groups, the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Communion Network, and Forward in Faith North America, have issued a joint statement on the recently-concluded meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans.

The last seven days have been eventful ones for the worldwide Anglican Communion. The future of our 500–hundred year fellowship has been focused on The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops (HOB). The worldwide Anglican Communion has been looking for clarity, praying for unity, and searching for Christ and His will in our lives. Unfortunately, the HOB has failed the Communion; their continued ambiguity, questioning of basic Christian beliefs, and rejection of obvious Scriptural teaching has widened the gap between them and biblical Christianity.

The Primates’ Dar es Salaam Communiqué required that The Episcopal Church:
  • End same-sex blessings at all levels.
  • Confirm that no more non-celibate homosexuals will be consecrated bishop.
  • Provide alternative Primatial oversight for those who do not agree with The Episcopal Church’s leadership.
  • End all lawsuits against parishes and vestries.

To our disappointment, the House of Bishops (HOB) did not meet the request but offered a carefully crafted response that appears to comply but actually maintains the status quo.
  • The HOB refused to address the widespread practice of same-sex blessings. Instead, they restated their long-standing position.
  • The HOB clarified Resolution B033 as applying to “non-celibate gay(s) and lesbian(s) [among others]”; however, the bishops agree only, for now, to “exercise restraint.”
  • The HOB rejected the Primates’ plan for pastoral oversight and offered their own inadequate alternative.
  • The HOB ignored the request to end lawsuits against parishes and vestries. To this day, churches and individuals face litigation funded by The Episcopal Church, and guided by its chancellor.
  • Fully half of the response is concerned with matters not raised by the Communion that nonetheless press forward The Episcopal Church’s agenda.
We, with others gathered in Pittsburgh for the Common Cause Council of Bishops, are committed to remaining within biblical Christianity even as The Episcopal Church once again has chosen to continue on its own tragic course. We trust that in the weeks and months ahead God will guide us and the entire Anglican Communion in continuing and deepening a faithful path forward.

Posted September 26, 2007

Episcopal bishops offer response to 'mend tear' in Anglican Communion

Yes, do read the article at the Christian Post - but what is most interesting is the little correction at the bottom of the page [boldface mine]:

Correction: Wednesday, September 26, 2007:

An article on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007, about a statement issued by the Episcopal House of Bishops incorrectly reported that The Episcopal Church had agreed to halt the ordination of gay clergy in an effort to prevent a schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion. While Episcopal bishops agreed that there should not be consent given to the consecration of non-celibate homosexuals who would “challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion," they did not state any intentions to bar such consecrations.

Huummm. . .

H/t to The Catholic Knight.

Conservative group leaves Episcopalian parish in Paradise Valley, AZ

From The Arizona Republic:

About 15 percent of the members are splitting from a prominent Valley Episcopalian parish and affiliating with an African church because they say the conservative congregation here is not conservative enough for them.

The departure is one of many across the United States by former Episcopalians who believe the church, the American arm of the worldwide Anglican Communion, has turned its back on its own traditions and become too liberal.

A leader of the group that left Christ Church of the Ascension at the end of August says the decision had nothing to do with a statement issued Tuesday by American bishops attempting to appease fellow church leaders on the gay issue.

Christ Church of the Ascension, at 4015 E. Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley, is one of the largest and most prosperous Episcopalian parishes in Arizona. The late Sen. Barry Goldwater, who donated some of its land, worshiped there, and his ashes are interred there.

The church has approximately 1,000 members. Christ Church Anglican, the breakaway group, has about 150 members who will worship at a church at 20th Street and Bethany Home Road. The first service will be at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 7. The gay issue was "inconsequential" in the breakaway group's decision, said Jane Allred, a leader of the new church. Instead, she said, the motivation was respect for traditional Anglican values.

"We are leaving to follow Christ's call as we understand it," Allred said. "We want to be part of a Scriptural church that is biblically orthodox, and the Episcopal Church is no longer teaching the basic and ancient truths."

The rector of Christ Church of the Ascension, who also is leaving the parish, agreed that the gay issue is just a part of a bigger issue that could divide the Anglican Communion from the Episcopal Church.

"The gay stuff is minor," said the Rev. Ken Semon, who declined to lead the breakaway group. "It's about the Episcopal Church failing to acknowledge the authority of Scripture."

Semon said he will move to Santa Fe to lead a conservative parish that remains affiliated with the Episcopal Church. "Since I have friends on both sides of the divide," Semon said Tuesday, "I decided that this would not betray anyone or hurt anyone any more than they already have been hurt."

Read it all.
H/t to Anglicans United.

Comment by Craig Goodrich

From TitusOneNine, comment #22 by Craig Goodrich on the "Archbishop Peter Akinola: A STATEMENT ON THE RESPONSE OF TEC TO THE DAR ES SALAAM COMMUNIQUÉ" thread [boldface mine]:

We need to be clear, ourselves, what we mean by “schism”—I believe schism within ECUSA—815 vs Common Cause, though CC will be bringing in non-ECUSA Anglicans—is inevitable, and is probably occurring as we type. Schism within the Communion—Canterbury vs the Global South—is avoidable and depends entirely on +++Rowan’s willingness to support disciplining 815 in a serious, meaningful way while recognizing Common Cause.

Note that South Africa has just chosen a Primate who intends to move his church closer to the Global South. ++Aspinall, a moderate liberal in a mostly-liberal province (aside from Sydney), has had it with 815’s semantic games and childish hair-splitting. +Scott-Joynt claims that if push comes to shove, 60% of C of E bishops will boycott Lambeth if ECUSA attends. The DeS Communique was unanimous and utterly unambiguous to anyone but David Booth Beers.

I doubt very much that +++Rowan will go along with Canon Kearon and his patrons at 815 much longer; there’s too much at stake.


I agree with Craig's distinction between schism within ECUSA and schism within the Communion. I only hope his conclusion is correct!

Kendall Harmon to be on the radio in Chicago

From the Elves at TitusOneNine:

Not quite sure of the time. Kendall just said "soon"Here's the link, it's a Chicago Christian Talk station. WYLL.Comhttp://www.wyll.com/

It's on: 5:37 eastern

Archbishop Peter Akinola: A STATEMENT ON THE RESPONSE OF TEC TO THE DAR ES SALAAM COMMUNIQUÉ

From TitusOneNine [boldface mine]:

September 26th, 2007

A STATEMENT ON THE RESPONSE OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH TO THE DAR ES SALAAM COMMUNIQUÉ

In accordance with our desire to walk “in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called, … eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians (4:1,2) we have looked forward with hope to the response of The Episcopal Church as requested by the Primates when we met earlier in the year in Dar es Salaam. That request was the culmination of many conversations and years of painful negotiations. It was our expressed desire to provide one final opportunity for an unequivocal assurance from The Episcopal Church of their commitment to the mind and teaching of the Communion. We also made clear that it is a time for clarity and a rejection of what hitherto has been endless series of ambiguous and misleading statements. Sadly it seems that our hopes were not well founded and our pleas have once again been ignored.

While we await a meeting of all the Primates to receive and determine the adequacy of The Episcopal Church’s response it seems clear from first reading that what is offered is not a whole hearted embrace of traditional Christian teaching and in particular the teaching that is expressed in Lambeth Resolution 1.10. The unequivocal assurances that we sought have not been given; what we have is a carefully calculated attempt to win support to ensure attendance at the Lambeth Conference and continued involvement in the life of the Communion.

Instead of the change of heart (repentance) that we sought what we have been offered is merely a temporary adjustment in an unrelenting determination to “bring the rest of the Communion along” as stated by a bishop at one of the press conferences. We also note that while we have repeatedly asked for a moratorium on same-sex blessings –across the Episcopal Church the clergy have continued with these blessings with the full knowledge and support of the Diocesan bishops even if not technically authorized.

This attitude towards the Word of God and the requests of the Communion is at odds with the Spirit of the One we serve. The Unity that Christ commands can only be found in obedience to the Truth revealed in the Holy Scriptures and mutual submission to one another. The Gospel message of freedom, justice and dignity for all persons can only be found in heartfelt repentance and joyful obedience to the Truth.

"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:21

THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA (Anglican Communion)

THE MOST REV. PETER J. AKINOLA, D.D, CON
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria.

Sincerely,

The Most Revd. Peter J Akinola, CON, DD

A Report on the New Orleans House of Bishops from Bishop Edward Salmon

From Stand Firm [boldface mine]:

A Report on the New Orleans House of Bishops from Bishop Edward Salmon

In the interest of clarity, I would like to report to the clergy and people of the Diocese of South Carolina on the meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans. I am particularly concerned that you hear directly from me as the distortion in the media and on blogs is profound.

From my perspective this was probably the best meeting I have attended and at the same time the most painful.

I asked for and was granted permission to speak to the whole House beyond any contribution I made in the various debates.

The presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury was helpful in getting us to look at where we are as a Church and a Communion; and what that says about our ecclesiology.

Profound pain was experienced when members of the ACC Steering Committee and the Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East addressed the House. They told us how the decisions made by the Episcopal Church had affected their mission and ecumenical relationships destructively in their lands. It was a moving experience.

Just as devastating was the address from Bishop Jeffrey Steenson explaining why he was resigning his orders and becoming a Roman Catholic. We are good friends and have worked closely together.

We then had a report giving us the list of congregations leaving the Episcopal Church in part or whole for other Anglican jurisdictions and the names of these jurisdictions. A number of the clergy were well known to me. Even the loss of one because of our conflict is a painful matter for me at the end of my ministry. It is a matter of great sorrow.

In my address to the House, I said that I appreciated the hard work that had resulted in the document that was before us.

I also stated that I could not support it for the following reasons:
  1. It did not respond as requested to the three points raised by the Anglican Primates in Dar es Salaam.

  2. It did not provide alternative oversight that met the needs of those who asked for it.

  3. It placed the condition that our responses must be in keeping with our Constitution and Canons. The chaos we are in requires tremendous grace, not law.

  4. There is oppression of those not in agreement, often unaware to those responsible.

  5. Statements by our leadership saying that 95% of the Church was doing well or that only a small percentage were affected makes discussion impossible. The Episcopal Church Foundation says we are in a systemic decline which is significant.
I believe that the impact of these days has produced the potential for us to move because this is the first time in my memory this has been revealed to the House face to face by members of the Communion. I am committed to continue to work for that day faithfully, but I cannot support the document for the reasons stated.

--The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr., is acting Bishop of South Carolina

H/t: T-19

Brad Drell: My conversation/interview with Bishop MacPherson this morning

From Brad Drell at Drell's Descants:

. . . I asked +Bruce [Bishop Bruce MacPherson of the Diocese of Western Louisiana] to expand his thoughts on the New Orleans resolution. He stated that people on both sides were uncomfortable with this resolution. He feels progress was made in the realm of the consent to future bishops engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage. On the floor of the House of Bishops at General Convention in Columbus, some 30 bishops repudiated B033 and stated that would not abide by it. These 30 bishops have now agreed to abide by it. That is what +Bruce means by some progress being made. He feels that this is a significant change from where this house was at General Convention. +Bruce voted against B033 at General Convention, but felt that the New Orleans resolution was clearer (but not perfect).

On the issue of same sex blessings, +Bruce told me that the language was not strong or clear enough. He believes more bishops will take this issue seriously after this meeting, but knows that some bishops are going to continue to do what they have been doing, which is to allow same sex blessings to occur, even though they are not authorized.

+Bruce also confirmed that he believes that Charles Bennison was the only no vote to the resolution. . .

Read it all.

NewsFlash: Bishop Salmon not only voted No but gave an impassioned speech explaining why

From TitusOneNine:

The Speech was given in closed session so I am guessing that is why it was not reported. The key phrase he used was "I cannot support the document."

Anglican split gains ground

From the Toronto Star:

Pittsburgh bishop calls on church conservatives to split if necessary from more liberal elements

A possible massive realignment of the worldwide Anglican Church got started last night in America's Steel City.

Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan, long a critic of his church's liberal drift, called on conservative Anglicans in the United States and Canada to return to traditional Christian values to revive the church, and to even split from their national churches if need be.

"Anglicanism seems to be failing in the west," said Duncan, a major force in the conservative Anglican movement. "Would each one of us become a missionary bishop?"

He was speaking at the opening last night of a four-day meeting here to discuss splitting the Episcopal Church, as Anglicanism is known in the U.S., in two – one liberal and one conservative.

About 50 American bishops are attending the meeting, which opened with prayers and hymns. Two Canadians, Rev. Canon Charlie Masters of Ontario and retired eastern Newfoundland bishop Donald Harvey, are observers.

Masters and Harvey are leaders of the Anglican Network in Canada, which has set itself up as a possible alternative church for conservatives who want to break away from the Canadian Church of Canada.

The Worldwide Anglican Communion has been threatened by schism since 2003 when the openly gay Gene Robinson was made bishop of New Hampshire, enraging conservative church members in the U.S. and around the world.

Growing support for same-sex marriage blessings in Canada and the U.S. has further enflamed passions. Several U.S. parishes have split with the Episcopal Church, aligning instead with more conservative African churches.

But the process begun last night could see entire dioceses in the United States, and possibly Canada, split from their national churches.

Duncan said the liberal church is becoming increasingly inhospitable for conservatives. "Many Anglicans have become disheartened."


Duncan has said that up to five dioceses could split, including his own, with three having plans to vote on the issue in the coming months.

The Episcopal Church was given until Sept. 30 to recant its support for gay clergy and same-sex blessings, or face expulsion from the worldwide communion.

After a week-long series of meetings that ended yesterday in New Orleans, the church's House of Bishops pledged to "exercise restraint" in approving another gay bishop and pledged not to approve an official prayer for blessing same-sex couples.

The move, made to placate conservative forces within the church, was immediately dismissed by Duncan last night, saying the New Orleans meeting had "failed.". . .

Read it all.

Bishop Duncan opens Common Cause 2007

From AnglicanTV, Bishop Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh opens Common Cause 2007. Check it out!



THIS VIDEO IS A MINISTRY OF ANGLICANTV.ORG

US bishops offer lifeline in effort to keep world Anglican church intact

From Stephen Bates at the Guardian (U.K.):

A slender lifeline was offered to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his attempt to keep the worldwide Anglican communion intact, when Episcopal bishops pledged at a meeting in New Orleans yesterday to maintain a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops.

While the statement may satisfy parts of the Anglican communion, and just be enough for the archbishop to sell to other church provinces, it was dismissed by conservative evangelicals as inadequate. . .

. . .The eight point plan, endorsed almost unanimously, promised no consent for any more gay bishops, no public blessings, and the adoption of a plan for Episcopal visitors to conservative parishes which cannot accept their liberal bishops. [Bates does not mention here that the moratorium is not permanent.]

The crisis which has convulsed world Anglicanism over the last four years and has led to demands, particularly from African church leaders, that the 2.2 million-strong US church should be excluded from the rest of the communion, was sparked by the Episcopalians' decision to endorse the election of the church's first openly gay bishop, the Rt Rev Gene Robinson, in New Hampshire in 2003.

The statement also condemned incursions into US dioceses by African archbishops claiming to provide help to dissident parishes, and said it wished to explore with Dr Williams the possibility of Bishop Robinson being invited to next year's conference of all the world's Anglican bishops. It added: "We call for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety and dignity of gay and lesbian persons." The battle, in which conservative Episcopalians anxious to wrest control over their church away from its traditionally-liberal leadership have made common cause with developing world leaders, has become both vicious and abusive.

Yesterday, the bishops haggled over their response, building on and amending a long portfolio resolution they hope will satisfy at least moderate archbishops across the rest of the church. Bishop J Jon Bruno, of Los Angeles, told journalists: "I do not believe we'll ever turn back the clock. Are we going to withdraw support for gays and lesbians in the church? No. They are fully enfranchised members of our body."

A few conservative bishops who withdrew from the meeting early are likely to seek membership of an Anglican province outside the US, probably the tiny province of the Southern Cone, covering most of South America, which has only 20,000 members and an English presiding archbishop, Gregory Venables, who never rose above the status of curate in England.

One bishop, the Rt Rev Jeffrey Steenson of the Rio Grande diocese, centred on Albuquerque, has also announced he will leave, though to join the Roman Catholic church. One moderate conservative bishop, the Rt Rev John Howe of Central Florida, who intends to stay, told the meeting: "We are deeply, tragically, horribly stuck, not only the Episcopal church but the Anglican communion as a whole."

Read it all.

And to understand how journalist Stephen Bates is approaching this (and maybe to explain his omissions of fact and snide tone), from his post at Religious Intelligence:
This week’s meeting between Rowan Williams and the American bishops will be my swan-song as a religious affairs correspondent, after eight years covering the subject for The Guardian. I’d have been less keen to attend had the venue been Detroit, but where better to end it? It is time to move on for me professionally, and probably for Anglicans too and this marks a suitable place to stop. There is also no doubting, personally, that writing this story has been too corrosive of what faith I had left: indeed watching the way the gay row has played out in the Anglican Communion has cost me my belief in the essential benignity of too many Christians. For the good of my soul, I need to do something else.

I had no notion in 2000 that it would come to this: I had thought then that we were all pretty ecumenical these days. I was soon disabused of that. I had scarcely ever met a gay person, certainly not knowingly a gay Christian, and had not given homosexuality and the Church the most cursory thought, much less held an opinion on the matter. But watching and reporting the way gays were referred to, casually, smugly, hypocritically; the way men such as Jeffrey John (and indeed Rowan Williams when he was appointed archbishop) were treated and often lied about, offended my doubtless inadequate sense of justice and humanity.

Why would any gay person wish to be a Christian? These are people condemned for who they are, not what they do, despite all the sanctimonious bleating to the contrary, men and women despised for wanting the sort of intimacy that heterosexual people take for granted and that the Church is only too happy to bless. Instead, in 2007, the Church of England and other denominations jump up and down to secure exclusive rights to continue discriminating against a minority of people it does not like. What a spectacle the Church has made of itself! What hope of proselytising in a country which has accepted civil partnerships entirely without rancour or bigotry?. . .

While I disagree totally with his approach and conclusions, as articulated here, to Scripture, Tradition, and Reason, I regret that he has seen and heard things from other Christians that have worked against his faith.

Kendall Harmon: A Heartbreaking Observation

From Kendall Harmon at TitusOneNine:

In a time of judgment the truth is revealed in moments like this, and it can be quite painful. So why does the New York Times get it, the Times-Picayune get it, Integrity get it, and people in the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church who should know better not get it? It is because they do not understand the depth of the breach that needed to be repaired in the first place. The Primates sought an unequivocal commitment because for a marriage in temporary separation if you do not invest yourself completely in what the marriage counselor asked for, it will not work and you get a divorce. The stakes are simply too high, and the damage is too great, for a negotiation, quid pro quo, well I might, sort of, for a short time do this, and while I say this (I will still do sometimes do that), oh and by the way, I insist on my spouse doing this and that which I want because I have terms here too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Episcopal bishops reject Anglican Church’s orders

From the New York Times:

Bishops of the Episcopal Church on Tuesday rejected demands by leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion to roll back the church’s liberal stance on homosexuality, increasing the possibility of fracture within the communion and the Episcopal Church itself.

After nearly a week of talks at their semiannual meeting in New Orleans, the House of Bishops adopted a resolution that defied a directive by the Anglican Communion’s regional leaders, or primates, to change several church policies regarding the place of gay men and lesbians in their church. But the bishops also expressed a desire to remain part of the communion, and they appeared to be trying to stake out a middle ground that would allow them to do so.

Still, up to five American dioceses led by theologically conservative bishops may try to break with the Episcopal Church and place themselves under the oversight of a foreign primate in the coming months, said the Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon, a conservative Episcopal strategist.

“We’ll have the chaos here increase as more individuals, parishes and dioceses begin moving,” Mr. Harmon said. “What will happen is that we will see more of the disunity here spread to the rest of the communion.”

In a voice vote, all but one bishop supported a resolution, called “A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by Our Anglican Communion Partners.” Several conservative bishops who are considering leaving the Episcopal Church were not in attendance.

The resolution affirmed the status quo of the Episcopal Church, both theological conservatives and liberals said.

It states, for example, that it “reconfirms” a call to bishops “to exercise restraint” by not consenting to the consecration of a partnered gay bishop. It also says the bishops promise not to authorize “any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions.” Still, some bishops allow such blessings to occur in their dioceses. Both positions have been stated in past meetings of the governing body of the church, the General Convention.

The resolution also calls for an “immediate end” to the practice of foreign bishops’ consecrating conservative Americans to minister to breakaway congregations in the United States, a trend that church leaders believe undermines their authority.

The Bishop Martyn Minns of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a prominent conservative group supported by the Archbishop of Nigeria, responded to the bishops’ resolution: “They’re offering business as usual. The communion asked them to make a change, to embrace the teaching of the communion about homosexuality, and there’s no change at all.”

The Anglican Communion in 1998 denounced homosexuality as incompatible with Scripture. Bishop Minns spoke from a meeting in Pittsburgh where he and leaders of as many as 50 breakaway groups were discussing how to cooperate and avoid further splintering.

Contrary to recent news reports that the conservatives were close to forming a unified new structure, Bishop Minns said there were no plans to announce the formation of a new Anglican body that would consolidate all the conservative groups that have broken with the Episcopal Church under one umbrella.

The dispute over homosexuality has simmered for at least 30 years, as part of a larger clash about biblical interpretations and primacy. Tensions worsened when the Episcopal Church consecrated an openly gay man, V. Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. . .

Read it all.
H/t to BabyBlue Online.

Fizzle and fizzled

Captain Yips Secret Journal has a couple of interesting posts on the House of Bishops, with the promise of more to follow. First, check out Fizzle, and then take a look at Part I of his detailed analysis of the House of Bishops resolution (Part II may be posted tomorrow).

"You'll complain. We'll pretend to give a damn."

A must read from Christopher Johnson at the Midwest Conservative Journal on the bishops' response:

Kids! Fudge is ready!

The House of Bishops concurs with Resolution EC011 of the Executive Council. This Resolution commends the Report of the Communion Sub-Group of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion as an accurate evaluation of Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention, calling upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees "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 communion." The House acknowledges that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains.

Boilerplate. The Bishops may have thought that acknowledging that "non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains" was a radical step but it's nothing we didn't already know. Besides, we may see how serious they are in November at the Chicago episocopal election. Given their stance on same-sex marriages, they may not be very serious at all.

We, the members of the House of Bishops, pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion,

Translation: until you bigots realize that we're right.

or until General Convention takes further action. In the near future we hope to be able to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide listening process.

When we tell you to your bigoted faces that you're wrong and we're right.

In the meantime, it is important to note that no rite of blessing for persons living in same-sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. In addition to not having authorized liturgies the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions. We do note that in May 2003 the Primates said we have a pastoral duty "to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations." They further stated, "…[I]t is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care."

We haven't officially authorized it and most of us don't allow it anyway so it's not really happening. And while the Primates may have indicated that it "is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care," the Primates also indicated in the Dromantine and Dar es Salaam Communiqués that same-sex marriages were to stop happening. So I guess you have to read between the lines or something to understand how this complies.

We affirm the Presiding Bishop’s plan to appoint episcopal visitors for dioceses that request alternative oversight. Such oversight would be provided by bishops who are a part of and subject to the communal life of this province. We believe this plan is consistent with and analogous to Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) as affirmed by the Windsor Report (paragraph 152). We thank those bishops who have generously offered themselves for this ministry. We hope that dioceses will make use of this plan and that the Presiding Bishop will continue conversation with those dioceses that may feel the need for such ministries. We appreciate and need to hear all voices in The Episcopal Church.

In other words, we support a plan that's temporary, under our complete control and already dead-on-arrival. But, gosh, something has to be done about The Worst Thing That Has Ever Happened In The History of Christianity. It makes us cry just to think about it and we're not sure we can get through this next paragraph. . .

Read it all.

Kendall Harmon: Early Reaction

From TitusOneNine:

The voice of self-proclaimed prophecy has been replaced by the murmur of expediency.

A great opportunity was lost.

What was it I asked at the beginning of the meeting: Is the leadership of the Episcopal Church going to be honest about what they really believe and are doing or will they hide behind an institutional and verbal smokescreen? They opted for the second.

Stand Firm: Breaking text: Response to the Primates

From Stand Firm:

House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church
New Orleans, Louisiana
September 25, 2007

A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners:

In accordance with Our Lord's high priestly prayer that we be one, and in the spirit of Resolution A159 of the 75th General Convention, and in obedience to his Great Commission to go into the world and make disciples, and in gratitude for the gift of the Anglican Communion as a sign of the Holy Spirit's ongoing work of reconciliation throughout the world, we offer the following to The Episcopal Church, the Primates, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), and the larger Communion, with the hope of "mending the tear in the fabric" of our common life in Christ.

"I do it all for the sake of the Gospel so that I might share in its blessings."
1 Corinthians 9:23.

Introduction

The House of Bishops expresses sincere and heartfelt thanks to the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates for accepting our invitation to join us in New Orleans. By their presence they have both honored us and assisted us in our discernment. Their presence was a living reminder of the unity that is Christ's promised gift in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Much of our meeting time was spent in continuing discernment of our relationships within the Anglican Communion. We engaged in careful listening and straightforward dialogue with our guests. We expressed our passionate desire to remain in communion. It is our conviction that The Episcopal Church needs the Anglican Communion, and we heard from our guests that the Anglican Communion needs The Episcopal Church.

The House of Bishops offers the following responses to our Anglican Communion partners. We believe they provide clarity and point toward next steps in an ongoing process of dialogue. Within The Episcopal Church the common discernment of God's call is a lively partnership among laypersons, bishops, priests, and deacons, and therefore necessarily includes the Presiding Bishop, the Executive Council, and the General Convention.

Summary

  • We reconfirm that resolution B033 of General Convention 2006 (The Election Of Bishops) calls upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees "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 communion."
  • We pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.
  • We commend our Presiding Bishop's plan for episcopal visitors.
  • We deplore incursions into our jurisdictions by uninvited bishops and call for them to end.
  • We support the Presiding Bishop in seeking communion-wide consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.
  • We call for increasing implementation of the listening process across the Communion and for a report on its progress to Lambeth 2008.
  • We support the Archbishop of Canterbury in his expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference.
  • We call for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety, and dignity of gay and lesbian persons.

Discussion

Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention

The House of Bishops concurs with Resolution EC011 of the Executive Council. This Resolution commends the Report of the Communion Sub-Group of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion as an accurate evaluation of Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention, calling upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees "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 communion." The House acknowledges that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains.

Blessing of Same-Sex Unions

We, the members of the House of Bishops, pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. In the near future we hope to be able to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide listening process. In the meantime, it is important to note that no rite of blessing for persons living in same-sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. In addition to not having authorized liturgies the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions. We do note that in May 2003 the Primates said we have a pastoral duty "to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations." They further stated, "…[I]t is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care."

Episcopal Visitors

We affirm the Presiding Bishop's plan to appoint episcopal visitors for dioceses that request alternative oversight. Such oversight would be provided by bishops who are a part of and subject to the communal life of this province. We believe this plan is consistent with and analogous to Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) as affirmed by the Windsor Report (paragraph 152). We thank those bishops who have generously offered themselves for this ministry. We hope that dioceses will make use of this plan and that the Presiding Bishop will continue conversation with those dioceses that may feel the need for such ministries. We appreciate and need to hear all voices in The Episcopal Church.

Incursions by Uninvited Bishops

We call for an immediate end to diocesan incursions by uninvited bishops in accordance with the Windsor Report and consistent with the statements of past Lambeth Conferences and the Ecumenical Councils of the Church. Such incursions imperil common prayer and long-established ecclesial principles of our Communion. These principles include respect for local jurisdiction and recognition of the geographical boundaries of dioceses and provinces. As we continue to commit ourselves to honor both the spirit and the content of the Windsor Report, we call upon those provinces and bishops engaging in such incursions likewise to honor the Windsor Report by ending them. We offer assurance that delegated episcopal pastoral care is being provided for those who seek it.

Communion-wide Consultation

In their communiqué of February 2007, the Primates proposed a "pastoral scheme." At our meeting in March 2007, we expressed our deep concern that this scheme would compromise the authority of our own primate and place the autonomy of The Episcopal Church at risk. The Executive Council reiterated our concerns and declined to participate. Nevertheless, we recognize a useful role for communion-wide consultation with respect to the pastoral needs of those seeking alternative oversight, as well as the pastoral needs of gay and lesbian persons in this and other provinces. We encourage our Presiding Bishop to continue to explore such consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.

The Listening Process

The 1998 Lambeth Conference called all the provinces of the Anglican Communion to engage in a "listening process" designed to bring gay and lesbian Anglicans fully into the Church's conversation about human sexuality. We look forward to receiving initial reports about this process at the 2008 Lambeth Conference and to participating with others in this crucial enterprise. We are aware that in some cultural contexts conversation concerning homosexuality is difficult. We see an important role for the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in this listening process, since it represents both the lay and ordained members of our constituent churches, and so is well-placed to engage every part of the body in this conversation. We encourage the ACC to identify the variety of resources needed to accomplish these conversations.

The Lambeth Conference

Invitations to the Lambeth Conference are extended by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Those among us who have received an invitation to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference look forward to that gathering with hope and expectation. Many of us are engaged in mission partnerships with bishops and dioceses around the world and cherish these relationships. Lambeth offers a wonderful opportunity to build on such partnerships.

We are mindful that the Bishop of New Hampshire has not yet received an invitation to the conference. We also note that the Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed a desire to explore a way for him to participate. We share the Archbishop's desire and encourage our Presiding Bishop to offer our assistance as bishops in this endeavor. It is our fervent hope that a way can be found for his full participation.

Justice and Dignity for Gay and Lesbian Persons

It is of fundamental importance that, as we continue to seek consensus in matters of human sexuality, we also be clear and outspoken in our shared commitment to establish and protect the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons, and to name and oppose at every turn any action or policy that does violence to them, encourages violence toward them, or violates their dignity as children of God. We call all our partners in the Anglican Communion to recommit to this effort. As we stated at the conclusion of our meeting in March 2007: "We proclaim the Gospel of what God has done and is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion and peace. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecuted because of their differences, often in the name of God."

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Footnote to Line 80 -The Communion Sub-Group noted that "the resolution uses the language of 'restraint,' and the group noted that there has been considerable discussion since General Convention about the exact force of that word. By requiring that the restraint must be expressed in a particular way - 'by not consenting ... '. however the resolution is calling for a precise response, which complies with the force of the recommendation of the Windsor Report." The group also noted "that while the Windsor Report restricted its recommendation to candidates for the episcopate who were living in a same gender union, the resolution at General Convention widened this stricture to apply to a range of lifestyles which present a wider challenge. The group welcomed this widening of the principle, which was also recommended by the Windsor Report, and commend it to the Communion."

Read it all (Stand Firm also has a line numbered version).