Daily Archives: July 5, 2007

Church of England General Synod Begins Tomorrow: Anglican Covenant on Agenda. A Pre-Synod Roundup.

The Church of England General Synod begins tomorrow. One of the central items on the agenda is the proposed draft of the Anglican Covenant. Below is a roundup of links to various background papers and Covenant responses we’ve seen on various blogs and websites (from various sides of the spectrum) in recent days. We very much welcome input from our CoE readers with additions, corrections, clarifications. Thanks!
I. Simon Sarmiento’s Thinking Anglicans blog (reappraising side of the aisle) has been posting quite a number of background papers and responses from different leaders, groups and organizations within the CoE in recent days. You can keep up with Thinking Anglicans CoE General Synod coverage here.

In addition to posting the Fulcrum paper we posted here earlier this week, Simon has also recently posted two entries with statements from Affirming Catholicism here and here.

The first entry from Affirming Catholicism reveals that they are backtracking on support for the Covenant:

Alarm raised over draft Covenant

In the week before the General Synod of the Church of England will be asked to endorse the process to create an Anglican Covenant, Affirming Catholicism has sounded alarm over the current proposed draft. In a commentary on the Covenant design group’s proposal to give the final say on Anglican doctrine to the meeting of the leaders of national churches, the Primates, The Rev’d Dr Mark Chapman, editor of a forthcoming Affirming Catholicism publication on the Anglican Covenant, and Vice-Principal of the Ripon College, Cuddesdon, said:

The emphasis given in the current proposals to the Primates’ Meeting (composed of 38 men and one woman) downplays the importance of synods. There is something disingenuous about giving power to determine membership of the Communion and to decide what constitutes the ”˜common mind’ of the Churches to a group who at the moment refuse even to share Eucharistic communion with each other.

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II. Also in the lead up to General Synod, Andrew Goddard has published various materials on Fulcrum’s site:

In The Anglican Covenant: A Briefing Paper for the Evangelical Group on General Synod, Goddard reaches this conclusion:

There are no solid reasons – either in principle or pragmatically in the current political context – for evangelicals or anyone else to object to Synod making a commitment to positive participation in the covenant process. There are many reasons – theological and political – why evangelicals and others who share our commitments to world mission, to learning from Anglicans around the globe, to safeguarding biblical faith and to facilitating harmony among Anglicans should wish the Church of England wholeheartedly to support the covenant process. Indeed, in terms of our life together as a Communion, the covenant process is – like the Windsor Report in which it originated – now ‘the only poker game in town’. If the Communion is to have a future together then the form of this will be discerned in and through this covenant process. For the Church of England to abandon that process through non-participation, or destructive participation, would therefore be for the eye to say to the hand ‘I don’t need you’ and for us as a province to embrace a vision of Anglicanism in which every one does what is right in their own eyes.

Also at Fulcrum is Goddard’s The Anglican Covenant: Background and Resources

Anglican Mainstream has also been tracking various responses to the Anglican Covenant. Last week they published a link to the Modern Churchpeople’s Union’s (MCU) rejection of the covenant draft.

All the MCU materials related to the Anglican Covenant are here. Their 2 page summary of their longer response paper is here.

Here are some of MCU’s justifications for rejecting the Draft Covenant:

Communal and theological consequences
The MCU anticipates that the centralisation and authoritarian character of the proposed polity will have a deleterious effect on the life of the Communion. In particular it is likely, over time, to discard much of the richness of the Anglican inheritance, to narrow theological and spiritual life, and to reduce both the diversity of the Communion and the positive valuation of difference. As power moves from synods to Primates it is also likely to diminish further the role of the laity.

We also anticipate that the desire for an ever more centralised and uniform Church is likely to result in greater structural inflexibility and thus to generate more division and schism.

Justification
No innovative change of this magnitude should be embarked upon unless it is clear that the proposals are both in accord with the inheritance of faith and will also (to the best of prayerful judgement) positively serve to build up all aspects of the body of the Church. The Draft does not address how its proposed changes will lead to these wider benefits.

Alternatives
The MCU recognises that there are strong reasons for looking again at the future of Anglicanism. However we believe that there is much in the storehouse of classical Anglicanism with which to build hope for a new and vibrant future. We value the existing polity of the Anglican Communion characterised by dispersed authority, responsibility and wisdom. In the absence of adequate reasons for change we would wish to continue to work within and to build on this framework.

We look towards a Communion characterised by diversity and mutual respect, accountability and hospitality. We would value and include all members of the church in decision making. We would refuse the use of power to limit the faithful life of the Church.

For all these reasons the MCU believes that the proposed Draft Anglican Covenant is not appropriate as a foundation for the future of the Anglican Church. The MCU urges its rejection.

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Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream’s personal response on the Covenant is online here. Sugden concludes:

So we must have our eyes open when discussing this matter.

The issue is not about agreement and disagreement, but conformity to the standard of teaching of the faith, expressed in a text ”“ the Covenant – that is accepted by the Communion as a family of churches rather than by individuals.

The issue is about the clarity of what the Communion is committed to which is public and accessible

It is also about what the Communion is committed to being accessible to all, not kept unwritten, vague and therefore only to be interpreted by those in power.

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IV. Finally in terms of sites to follow what is happening at the CoE Synod, the Church Society (an Evangelical group) has an excellent and helpful Synod page:

July 2007 Synod Issues

Here is their issue page on the Anglican Covenant. Here’s how the Church Society frames the issue of the Anglican Covenant:

On Sunday 8 July the General Synod will be asked to endorse the following resolution.

18. ”˜That this Synod:
(a) affirm its willingness to engage positively with the unanimous recommendation of the Primates in February 2007 for a process designed to produce a covenant for the Anglican Communion;
(b) note that such a process will only be concluded when any definitive text has been duly considered through the synodical processes of the provinces of the Communion; and
(c) invite the Presidents, having consulted the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council, to agree the terms of a considered response to the draft from the Covenant Design Group for submission to the Anglican Communion Office by the end of the year.’

The last item refers to the draft covenant drawn up by the Covenant Design Group and circulated to members of the General Synod.

There are three main areas of concern with this motion.

* First, the text of the draft covenant.
* Second, whether the Presidents (Archbishops) and Bishops are capable of addressing the real issues.
* Third, whether the concept of the Covenant, which originally surfaced in the Windsor Report, will really solve the problems in the Anglican Communion, or potentially make them worse.

The full agenda of the CoE Synod is published here.

While Synod is sitting, the Church Society will be posting news here.

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Whew. That’s a lot of material to try and cover. This elf confesses to feeling in over our head in trying to follow this. We would very much welcome comments, clarification and links from our British readers. Thanks in advance!

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UPDATE

The Inclusive Church blog has a commentary posted today linking the Covenant Process to the situation with extra-provincial bishops in North America. We may post this as a top level entry. But in the meantime, here’s the beginning of the blog entry:

The growing number of bishops created by African provinces for “pastoral oversight” in North America (and potentially in other provinces), the attempts to create a Covenant that defines Anglican doctrine and ethics, and the apparent intention to organise an alternative to the Lambeth Conference in London next year all point towards one thing. The strategy to destabilise the Anglican Communion is moving into another phase.

I think Kendall may have previously posted an Inclusive Church Covenant response. We’ll check and may update this with more links later.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Resources & Links, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Resources: blogs / websites

From Crosswalk: Evangelical Presbyterians Approve New Presbytery for New Wineskins churches

It looks like it is not only Anglicans establishing new, non-traditonal church structures in the US. The following article from Crosswalk provides details about the new non-geographic presbytery which was formally approved at the recent Evangelical Presbyterian General Assembly.

New Wineskins Yearn to be Filled with the Spirit

They left because they were tired ”“ tired of merely standing in the pews on Sunday, tired of leaders who denied the truth of Scripture, tired of seeing their numbers dwindling. They were also thirsty — thirsty for a filling of the Holy Spirit and thirsty to reach out in their communities. The men and women who formed the New Wineskins Association of Churches (NWAC) ”“ a splinter group of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) ”“ saw the new wine of the Holy Spirit being poured out across the world. They saw lives being transformed and longed to be part of the movement.

Gerrit Dawson, co-moderator of the New Wineskins, says, “We realized we needed new wineskins and it’s not really about denominations at all. It’s about being missional, out-turned congregations. That’s where the real deal is. The rest is peripheral to our calling.”

According to Dawson, conservative Presbyterians have for years been troubled by signs of increasing liberalism in the PCUSA such as drifting from the Trinity and the denial of absolute truth. Some tried to take a stand within the denomination. But actions by the PCUSA’s 217th General Assembly, such as a move toward the ordination of homosexuals, rang a final warning bell for the conservative Presbyterians. “For years we have mourned our denomination’s unfaithfulness and we have grieved its actions,” says Dean Weaver, a New Wineskins co-moderator. “We have labored faithfully for renewal.”

So, on Feb. 9, 2007, representatives of the New Wineskins voted unanimously to pursue refuge within the conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) after the EPC proposed to establish a temporary, non-geographic presbytery for dissident PCUSA congregations.

According to EPC Moderator Paul Heidebrecht, “The Holy Spirit drew us toward the New Wineskins. We are truly impressed by the mission-driven polity of the NWAC.”

On June 22, the move became official when the 27th General Assembly of the EPC officially created a New Wineskins Transitional Presbytery. Transitional membership commenced on the adjournment of the 27th General Assembly and will end on June 30, 2012.

The full article is here. (h/t Pat Dague)

Some background links from “Reformed Pastor” David Fischler:
New Wineskins Press Release (June 22)
David Fischler’s June 22 live blog of EPC Assembly vote on the Transitional Presbytery proposals
EPC General Assembly Q&A on Transitional Presbyteries

And from the EPC website, there is this:
Structure for Receiving Churches and Pastors Transitionally, Approved by the 27th General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, June 2007

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Interestingly enough, after we had prepared the above text as a draft for posting, we continued our “blog crawl” and reached “The Lead,” one of the blogs that make up the Episcopal Cafe site. They’ve posted a short entry yesterday on a June 24 Washington Times article about how the EPC is coping with explosive growth. Here’s what The Lead has to say:

We, of course, don’t hear about the small denominations that folded or merged. Denominations that start from a tiny base – and have survived – more than likely are experiencing high growth. No doubt PCUSA has lost some members due to controversial issues – and gained or held onto others for the same reason. But what newspapers rarely mention, when pointing out the declining membership in the mainline denominations, is that conservative denominations tend to have higher birthrates, and in mainline denominations the birthrate hovers at or below replacement.

Besides, PCUSA isn’t merely following the times. It is following its moral compass – even if that means those more attracted to religion are turned off by the change in direction.

Is anyone surprised by this spin? But it really does strike this elf as pretty incredible denial.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

From the New York Times: The Shelf Life of Bliss

FORGET the proverbial seven-year itch.

Not to disillusion the half million or so June brides and bridegrooms who were just married, but new research suggests that the spark may fizzle within only three years.

Researchers analyzed responses from two sets of married or cohabitating couples: one group was together for one to three years, the other for four to six years.

While the researchers could not pinpoint a precise turning point ”” the seven-year itch, as popularized in the play and film about errant husbands, was largely a theory ”” they found distinct differences between the groups.

“We know the earlier ones are happier,” said Prof. Kelly Musick, a University of Southern California sociologist. “The initial boost that marriage seems to provide fades over time.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family

A Communication from the Bishop of Rhode Island Concerning Ann Holmes Redding

To: Clergy, Members of Diocesan Council and Standing Committee
From: The Rt. Rev. Geralyn Wolf
Re: The Rev. Dr. Ann Holmes Redding

As many of you know, The Rev. Dr. Ann Holmes Redding is an Episcopal priest who has recently professed her faith in Islam. Dr. Redding is canonically resident in the Diocese of Rhode Island, though she has not served here for over twenty years.

After meeting with her I issued a Pastoral Direction giving her the opportunity to reflect on the doctrines of the Christian faith, her vocation as a priest, and what I see as the conflicts inherent in professing both Christianity and Islam. During the next year she is not to exercise any of the responsibilities and privileges of an Episcopal priest or deacon. Other aspects of the Pastoral Direction will remain private.

I am sending this e-mail to you because the continued web-site coverage suggests that I be as clear as possible with those exercising leadership in our diocese.

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Update: The Living Church has an article with the news here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, TEC Conflicts, Theology

Chuck Collins: An open letter to House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson

Dear Ms. Anderson,

I read with interest the ENS report of your visit to Albuquerque a few days ago. If the report is accurate, it’s shocking the veiled and not so veiled attempts you made as a guest in the Diocese of the Rio Grande to undermine the authority of their bishop and the leadership of the Diocese of the Rio Grande.

My purpose in writing, however, it to ask you to not include me or Christ Church San Antonio in your reports about the “majority” in the Episcopal Church. The talking point that you and the Presiding Bishop continuously repeat – that only “45 of the Church’s 7,500 congregations have decided to leave” – suggests that parishes like ours in San Antonio are with you. I want you to know that, even though we have not joined another Anglican body, we are emphatically not with you and we do not support the revisionist agenda that seems bound and determined to lead us away from the wider Communion.

In a letter to Bishop Gary Lillibridge (July 26, 2006) we stated: “In a unanimous vote, the clergy and [18 member] vestry of Christ Church and Christ Church in the Hill Country affirm our commitment to Jesus Christ, to the authority of Holy Scripture, and to that which binds us to our Anglican heritage. As a consequence, when the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates offer us an acceptable option, we will disassociate from the Episcopal Church. We feel that we must do this because we believe The Episcopal Church has left the Anglican Communion, and us, and now no longer lives under the authority of the Bible.”

Ms. Anderson, in the future, please report that “46 of the Church’s 7,500 congregations have decided to leave,” or at least have the intention to leave once the Primates together offer an option. If the Presiding Bishop, House of Deputies President, and the House of Bishops were to give even passing affirmation to the Tanzania Communiqué and the Windsor Report, if there was even slight movement in the direction of wanting to follow the direction of the Primates, we would feel differently. But the trajectory of the Episcopal Church appears to be set in stone, and it is a direction that clearly leads away from historic Anglicanism and the Anglican Communion.

We at Christ Church wait prayerfully and with eager expectation to see how God brings together orthodox churches and dioceses, with the support of the Primates. We are committed to our bishop who strongly upholds the Windsor Report and the Anglican Covenant as the hope for our future. Until the Episcopal Church begins to support the mind of the world-wide Anglican Communion, Christ Church San Antonio cannot be counted on to support the Episcopal Church.

Respectfully in Christ,

Chuck Collins
Rector, Christ Church
San Antonio, TX

[elves add: the T19 post of the ENS article about Bonnie Anderson’s visit to Rio Grande is here.]

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, TEC Conflicts

Amazing UK Weather photos

Being a Wimbledon fan, this elf has been at least somewhat aware that it’s been particularly rainy in London in recent days, but we’d missed the news of just how extreme some of the London-area weather has been. Check out these amazing photos!

Kendall, hope the weather clears up for your time with family next week!

(h/t Pat Dague’s blog Transfigurations)

Posted in * International News & Commentary, England / UK

Saskatchewan: Theologian argues House of Bishops' statement contradicts doctrine of Eucharist

A kind reader e-mailed us the link to a new entry on the diocese of Saskatchewan website. It is a letter to the Canadian House of Bishops concerning its statement on pastoral care to same-sex couples in response to the Canadian General Synod’s call for further theological reflection on these matters.

Here’s how the diocese of Saskatchewan website introduces the letter:

In a letter that is likely to lead to calls for review within the House of Bishops of its April Statement on pastoral care to same-sex couples, theologian John Hodgins argues that celebrating Holy Communion for civilly married same-sex couples, while withholding a nuptial blessing, severs and undermines the unity of the Eucharist. Fr. Hodgins’ courteous letter is exceptional both for the force of its argument and its impartiality regarding the same-sex issue. His concern is with the nature of the Church.

Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

In time, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and over centuries, the official role of solemnization and recording of vows was assumed by the Church in many places. The Celebration of Marriage was instituted as “a public service of the Church” (BAS p. 526). For the first half of Christian history, however, many contend that the only blessing of Christian marriage and other relationships of professing Christians (holy orders, religious life, etc) was in the context of the Mass.

For good reason, only those committed to Christ in faith would celebrate their professions or states of life at the Eucharist with the clear understanding that only that which was inherently blessed by God and in conformity with sacred Scripture and tradition was to be celebrated in the Sacrament of Unity. Christ is the Sacrament of God. In the Holy Eucharist we share communion in Christ’s life and blessing. This is the single and unified source of liturgical blessing in the Christian community. No blessing may be added which is not inherently present within the dominical Sacrament of the Eucharist.

The suggestion that a further blessing may be added or withheld from those in a civil union or other relationship, apart from the blessing that is inherent in the Holy Eucharist, is to confuse the issue and to detract from Christ’s unique blessing. To presume that a bishop or priest might somehow add to the Sacrament or withhold pronouncing God’s blessing upon any person, state or relationship beyond what is celebrated in the Eucharist is to suggest a development of doctrine which is not within the jurisdiction of any single body of Christians.

As John W.B. Hill has pointed out in his essay, A Theology of Blessing and Liturgies of Blessing, “The mere pronouncement of a blessing can be seriously misunderstood if we forget that we are a eucharistic people. Blessing is not a power we wield but a gift we celebrate.” To be theologically consistent, then, the blessing of God celebrated in the context of the Holy Eucharist is complete. No other blessing may be added or withheld.

In summary: Provision for a celebration of relationships which presumes or indicates that the Holy Eucharist is lacking in some way and so may allow for or require a further blessing by a priest or bishop is fundamentally contrary to the received teaching of the Church. Such a provision inherently undermines the doctrine of the Church with regard to Sacrament. The concept of ”˜blessing’ as set apart from or in addition to the expression of God’s love and friendship in the Holy Eucharist contradicts the nature of the Sacrament.

The notion of an additional blessing pronounced or withheld apart from the Eucharist celebrating a relationship is not in conformity with the formularies of the Church. For example, the BCP and BAS both allow for the celebration and blessing of a marriage outside of the Eucharist but the BAS rubric clearly states that “Where both bride and bridegroom are entitled to receive communion, it is desirable that the form of service in which the marriage rite is incorporated in the celebration of the eucharist be used.” (BAS p. 527). There is no provision, however, for the celebration of the Marriage Eucharist which precludes the blessing of the relationship because blessing is inherent within the Eucharist. To sever or undermine the unity of Eucharist and blessing contradicts the very nature of the Eucharist which is the fullest expression of God’s blessing.

In fact, Eucharistic celebrations of the sort proposed in the Statement would easily be misunderstood as attempting to do indirectly what has not been approved. At the same time, withholding a blessing, would indicate that such an extraordinary blessing (outside of the Eucharistic celebration) is in some way superior to, or in addition to the singular blessing of God in Christ which is celebrated most completely in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

For these reasons I respectfully request that the instructions for the celebration of the Eucharist for civil unions or other relationships in the Statement to General Synod (2007) be withdrawn.

John L. Hodgins
Chatham , Ontario

You can read the full letter here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali speaks out about Canadian Synod decision

From this morning’s perusal of Anglican Mainstream, we find this.

“Marriage is to do with the church’s relationship to her redeemer. What could be more core doctrine than that?” Nazir Ali

At the fourth Chavasse Lecture at Wycliffe Hall on July 4, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester responded to a question about the recent motion at the Canadian General Synod.

Q. Can you comment on the motion that the Canadian General Synod has passed asserting that blessing of same-sex relationships is not a matter of core doctrine?

A. First, the Book of Genesis affirms that humanity is made in God’s image, male and female together, and is given a common mission which they fulfil in distinctive ways. As Karl Barth said, this makes marriage and the family the most visible sign of that image.

Secondly this is clarified further in the teaching of Jesus. Mark 10 1-9 (“The two will become one flesh”) is set as the gospel for the wedding service, and when I preached at wedding services in Pakistan many Muslim women used to come to enquire further about it as they had never heard about this way in which the relationship between men and women is ordered.

Thirdly, Ephesians 5.32 (“This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church”) is the only place where the word ”˜sacrament’ which is the translation of the Greek word ”˜mysterion’, is used in the New Testament. It affirms that marriage is a sacrament of Christ and the church. Fundamentally this is to do with the Church’s relationship to her redeemer. What could be more core doctrine than that?

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Sacramental Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Bp. Ackerman on Anglicanism

Andy at All Too Common blog has an entry with links to a 5 part presentation by Bp. Keith Ackerman of Quincy on Anglicanism, given at St. David of Wales in Denton, Texas.

Here’s Andy’s blog entry where you can find all 5 links.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Resources & Links, Anglican Identity, Episcopal Church (TEC), Resources: Audio-Visual, TEC Bishops

Report from Pittsburgh: Diocesan Leadership Continues Discussing Future

From the diocese of Pittsburgh website:

Continuing work begun at their May retreat, members of the Board of Trustees, Diocesan Council and Standing Committee met on June 29 at St. Martin’s in Monroeville to talk again about the future direction of the diocese.

Bishop Robert Duncan thanked the diocesan leadership for the work they have done over the last month and a half to help the diocese begin to think through the choices it faces now that the national church has made it clear there will be no positive answer to the diocese’s request for Alternate Primatial Oversight or any return to mainstream Christianity. “I couldn’t be prouder of the leadership of the diocese. You have risen to help us figure this out,” he said.

Leaders shared information about events both inside and outside the diocese. Within the diocese, four of eight districts have held open meetings to discuss how the diocese should respond to these events. Those meetings were often very emotional, with comments ranging from clear calls to separate from the national Episcopal Church immediately, to expressions of deep anger and hurt at the leadership of the diocese for even considering such a move.

Some common themes are emerging. As one speaker said at the District II meeting on June 19, “The fundamental issue is always fidelity to Christ and his Gospel.” Another group of speakers clearly stated that “the fight isn’t worth it, but the mission is,” reported the leaders of District III. Many Pittsburgh Episcopalians continue to have questions about the basics of the discussion. In District IV, “A good number of people did not understand that the national church laid claim to all property and endowments,” reported its leaders. The meeting in District VII wanted the diocese to hear their pain and concern that anyone would even consider separation from the national church as a way forward. “Some very emotional people said some very emotional stuff,” reported one of its leaders.

Bishop Duncan encouraged those districts that had not yet met to schedule their meetings in the near future. “I am convinced that the sooner our people are dealing with this, thinking about this, praying about this, the better it will turn out,” he said. Bishop Duncan also reminded diocesan leaders of the path toward a decision. While it will ultimately be the diocesan convention that decides the course forward, any proposed resolutions setting that course need to be developed by the middle of August.

Here’s the rest of the story.
(h/t Anglicans United)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

"Gang of 13"

Yikes! Even though he calls them the “Gang of 13” and a “Rogues gallery of the invading army of bishops,” Mark Harris’ post with pictures of all the US Bishops for overseas’ provinces (AMia/Rwanda, CANA/Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda) is worth a look.

Harris has also started reflecting and speculating on what might occur at the September Common Cause Council of Bishops meeting.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Resources & Links, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, Resources: Audio-Visual, TEC Conflicts

Timothy B. Safford: William White in a Time of Turmoil

One factor in our current turmoil in The Episcopal Church and the larger Anglican Communion is the power and authority of bishops. One way to read the primates’ communiqué is as a rejection of the polity of The Episcopal Church that limits the power of bishops to make policy for the larger church. William White never proposed a distinct House of Bishops separate from the House of Deputies. For him, the clergy and laity meeting together, with their bishops, was adequate, as is still the case in diocesan conventions.

Born and educated in the democratic cauldron of Philadelphia, White did not object to the role of bishops elsewhere, but believed the new American church had an opportunity to return to its primitive roots when, before Constantine, the laity participated in the selection of their bishop, and before 1066, when the power of a bishop was not an extension of the power of the state. For the New England states, White’s new democratic Catholicism went too far. The clergy of Connecticut so objected to White’s proposal to have the first duly elected bishop of the United States consecrated by presbyters, temporarily, until proper Episcopal orders could be attained, they chose (without the vote of the laity) Samuel Seabury as bishop. He sailed for Canterbury, where he would not be consecrated, and then moved on to the non-juror bishops of Scotland.

Seabury believed that apostolic bishops, not a democratic process shared by clergy and laity, should determine the governance and worship of the emergent Episcopal Church. But for William White, who knew how difficult it would be to unify an Episcopal Church out of its very diverse parts, a method of choosing bishops was needed before the choosing could happen. For White, to do otherwise would be like electing George Washington the president, and then having him write the Constitution.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Commentary, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC)

For those who may have been offline…

For those who may have been offline yesterday, here are recommendations to three posts from yesterday:

Ruth Gledhill’s interview with Abp. Peter Akinola
Living Church Op-Ed: Confessions of an Episcopal Fundamentalist
4th of July Open Thread (it’s not too late to contribute your own reflections!)

Posted in * Admin

Failed State List 2007 and Religious Freedom

A provocative little blurb on Evangelical Outpost blog caught my attention:

The Failed States List 2007: The most failed state in the world according to the Index is Sudan. The second worse: Iraq.

The piece notes a relationship between stability and freedom of religion:

Freedom of worship may be a cornerstone of democracy, but it may also be a key indicator of stability. Vulnerable states display a greater degree of religious intolerance, according to scores calculated by the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom. Persecution of religious minorities in Bangladesh, Burma, Iran, and Uzbekistan has deprived millions of faithful of the freedom to follow their beliefs. But religious repression is often nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to muzzle the country’s civil society.

(HT: PoliBlog)

Here’s the Failed States 2007 report (available in full only to Foreign Policy subscribers)

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Church-State Issues, Religious Freedom / Persecution

For the Record: Anglican Scotist responds to Radner on CWOB

The Anglican Scotist, who has been one of the bloggers most involved in the current spate of discussions regarding Communion without Baptism, browsed through the old T19 links on the issue which we posted in the comments to this blog entry on Tuesday. The Scotist noted Ephraim Radner’s May 2005 essay on the subject and has now issued a reply to Radner.

For those of you interested in these discussions:

— Ephraim Radner’s article on the ACI website is here (the old T19 comment thread is here).

Anglican Scotist’s response is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts