Monthly Archives: September 2007

The LA Times: God, gays and Episcopalians

Conservative critics of the American church, especially bishops from the so-called Global South, protest that Episcopalians are allowing their faith to be adulterated by the culture. But the conservative bishops who abhor homosexuality are themselves acting in a cultural context. Experts on Christianity in Africa note that some bishops there don’t want to seem “soft” on homosexuality for fear of losing converts to Islam.

In its long history, Christianity repeatedly has been divided and subdivided, and most of the issues that led one group to part company with another were “inside” issues of theology — the authority of the Bible versus that of the pope, the role of “faith” and “works” in salvation, the nature of the sacraments. But others, like the dispute over American slavery that divided Northern from Southern Presbyterians in the 19th century, raged and resonated outside church walls. That is the case with the Anglican argument over gays, which is why so many non-Episcopalians — and non-Christians — are paying attention.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Now Available: The Diocesan Newspaper of South Carolina, Latest Edition

The careful reader will find a number of items of interest therein.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC)

TEC's 2006 Parish and Diocese Membership Statistics by Graph Only Are Available

Good to see this, finally. But surely these were releasable before the House of Bishops meeting….We are interested in you looking up your parish and your diocese and seeing how the numbers there fit with your own observations on the ground.

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

The Bishop of Central Florida on the New Orleans House of Bishops Meeting

Many voices have already been raised, denouncing the Bishops’ Statement as “non-compliance.” I disagree. I would characterize the decisions of the House of Bishops as being in partial compliance with what the Primates asked of us.

Unfortunately, the Bishops failed to even mention a third request from the Primates, that we put an end to the lawsuits that are being pressed in many Dioceses against congregations that are attempting to leave The Episcopal Church and yet retain “their” properties.

In our failure to do all that the Primates asked of us I was unable to vote for the Bishops’ Statement, but I was grateful to see a far higher level of concern for the unity of the Communion evident throughout our meeting than I have ever witnessed previously. Whether or not that level was high enough remains to be seen. Ultimately, of course, it is for the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates to make that call.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

In New Mexico Sadness, confusion after Episcopal bishop quits

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.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Rio Grande

Groups Plan New Branch to Represent Anglicanism

Experts on the church across the theological spectrum agreed that most splinter Christian groups withered over time. But they said that the Common Cause statement could not be easily dismissed, given how tense relations were in the Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest Christian body.

“They’ve set up a timetable that means that they are moving forward,” said the Rev. Ephraim Radner, a leading Episcopal conservative and professor of historical theology at Wycliffe College in Toronto. “They will ask for recognition as an alternative to the Episcopal Church even before there’s been a resolution to the actual status of Episcopal Church in the Communion.”

In February, the archbishops of the communion’s provinces, or regional churches, issued the directive on gay bishops and on same-sex unions to which the Episcopal bishops responded earlier this week. The archbishops, various Anglican bodies and the archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the communion, must now weigh that response and their next steps.

“Seeking recognition by these provinces looks to be part of an effort to replace the Episcopal Church with their new and improved province,” said the Rev. Mark Harris, a member of the Executive Council, which governs the Episcopal Church between the conventions it holds every three years. Common Cause is “hoping to use the argument that a majority of the provinces recognize them and not us.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Common Cause Partnership

BBC: Anglican Call for Gay Inclusion

Archbishop Carlos Touche-Porter of Mexico, and Primus Idris Jones of the Scottish Episcopal Church, are taking part in the conference.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott said that their call will illustrate the determination of liberal Anglicans to prevent what they fear could be a traditionalist domination of the Communion.

He added that the Communion is delicately poised after the bishops of the American Episcopal Church agreed not to authorise liturgy for blessing same-sex relationships or to repeat the ordination of an actively gay bishop. [But authorizing the liturgy was not the issue, local pastoral provision for blessings was]

But the US church refused to provide an autonomous organisation for traditionalists in America. [But Tanzania didn’t call for a completely autonomous provision, just one which provided genuine succor where there were some checks and balances on TEC’s authority through a Primatial Council]

Read it all.

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

Time Magazine: Uganda Becomes an Anglican Haven

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.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Alternative Primatial Oversight (APO), Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Article from the Local Paper on the House of Bishops Meeting in New Orleans

Even the fiercest critics of the Episcopal Church’s liberal drift say it’s too soon to know whether the bishops’ latest pledge to “exercise restraint” in approving another gay bishop will go far enough to help prevent an Anglican schism.

“It will take months and years to really see,” said Bishop Martyn Minns, who leads a conservative network of breakaway Episcopal parishes.

Episcopal bishops released their pledge to “exercise restraint” Tuesday in the final moments of a six-day meeting, as the decades-long debate over interpreting the Bible threatens to shatter the world Anglican Communion.

Anglican leaders had set a Sunday deadline for the American bishops to pledge unequivocally not to consecrate another gay bishop or approve an official prayer service for same-sex couples.

The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon Jr., acting bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, had delivered an impassioned speech before the House of Bishops in New Orleans. He implored them to vote against a resolution he said did not respond to the points raised by the Anglican Primates in Dar es Salaam.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

The Bishop of Upper South Carolina on the New Orleans Bishops Meeting

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Reinhold Niebuhr is Unseen Force in 2008 Elections

Thirty-six years after his death, Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr seems more alive than ever. Perhaps not since President Jimmy Carter acknowledged Niebuhr’s influence in his 1976 campaign has the name been on so many people’s lips.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama told New York Times columnist David Brooks that Niebuhr is “one of my favorite philosophers.” Brooks himself quotes Niebuhr consistently, describing him as a thinker we could use today “to police our excesses” in foreign policy.

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne’s forthcoming book takes note of the current longing for a new Niebuhr to inspire religious liberals, while GOP hopeful John McCain, in his volume, “Hard Call,” wonders what the critic of pacifism during World War II would say today about Iraq. As political theorist William Galston put it recently: “After a period of neglect, Reinhold Niebuhr is the man of the hour.”

Niebuhr is widely regarded as one of the most significant Christian intellectuals of the 20th century. Born in 1892 in Missouri to German parents, Niebuhr was ordained in the German Evangelical Church (later part of the United Church of Christ) and taught for more than three decades at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He was a founder of the liberal anticommunist lobbying group Americans for Democratic Action, and in 1948, he appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

The eternal question Do animals have souls?

Jodi Dotson is a Christian who is an animal lover, and she can’t imagine heaven without her beloved pets. “Have you ever looked into the eyes of a greyhound?” asked Dotson, a Park City resident who has three pet greyhounds — Holyfield, Special and Checkers. “Because if you can’t see all the way to their soul, you’re missing something.”

As with many other issues related to faith, people have different beliefs when it comes to questions of spirituality and animals.

Some people of faith, such as Dotson, who attends Kechi United Methodist Church, believe that animals have souls and go to heaven when they die.

Yet most mainstream religions view animals as God’s creations, and some religious leaders say that there is a difference between animals and humans when it comes to the issue of spirituality — including the question of whether animals have souls.

The Rev. Catherine A. Caimano, rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Wichita, is a self-proclaimed animal lover.

She proudly shows pictures of her dog, Scooter, and two cats, Dwight and Mamie. She’s also a vegetarian and does not wear leather.

“I’m really clear about my commitment to the love and care for God’s creatures,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in Theology

The Miami Herald Article on the House of Bishops Meeting

”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.

“Hopefully then 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.

”On a personal level, I believe all people should have the rights to the same social and financial benefits,” Addison says. “But to the issue of homosexuality, I’m sorry. But those rights should not alter how the church is run.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Conservatives Take First Step Toward New Anglican Structure

The formation of a separate ecclesiastical structure was called for by conservative Anglican leaders in the Global South last September. Former Episcopal Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold had raised concerns, saying such a move would open the way to “multiple divisions across other provinces.”

Still, conservatives see The Episcopal Church drifting apart and say they want to stay aligned with the rest of the communion.

“We met deeply aware that we have arrived at a critical moment in the history of mainstream Anglican witness in North America. God has led us to repentance for past divisions and opened the way for a united path forward,” said Duncan in a statement.

Though some were expecting the announcement of a complete new structure in place this week, forming a separate Anglican body is only in its initial stages.

“To have the brand new squeaky clean thing in place [right now] is simply not realistic,” said the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, missionary bishop of the Anglican breakaway CANA (Convocation of Anglicans in North America). “Such a thing, frankly, takes far more time.”

“But we can begin working together far more deliberately,” he noted.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Common Cause Partnership

Washington Times: Episcopalians plan to leave denomination

Fifty-one Anglican and Episcopal bishops announced plans yesterday to form a separate Anglican province in North America within 15 months, giving disaffected Episcopalians a chance to flee their increasingly liberal denomination.

The Common Cause partnership, which includes bishops from several Episcopal dioceses and leaders of nine Anglican organizations, met yesterday in Pittsburgh. The leaders represent 600 congregations and more than 100,000 people.

The bishops said they will meet in December to put together an office staff for a 39th province of the 77-million-member Anglican Communion.

“We took some steps in the right direction,” said Bishop Martyn Minns, the former rector of Truro Church in Fairfax who now leads the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a group of 60 former Episcopal churches that have left the denomination. “It was quite a journey but I am pleased with the movement we made.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Common Cause Partnership