Daily Archives: September 12, 2007
[Rowan Williams]… has been warning some of his colleagues, he said, that “the underlying issue is not going to go away.” Acts and decisions by one province have an impact — and sometimes a cost — elsewhere, and it is “an illusion” to imagine otherwise. “If we’re going to be in any sense a global communion and not just the loosest possible federation of local churches, then not only do we have to ask about primacy, we have to ask about structures of responsibility.” And he detects “a very strong groundswell of opinion in many quarters” toward that conclusion.
Maybe, but the Episcopal church in the United States took no such global view when it ordained Gene Robinson to the episcopate. Indeed, the presiding bishop at the time, Frank Griswold, announced that “we thought it was a local matter.” For the American Anglicans, what they have done in ordaining Robinson, according to the procedures laid down in their church’s constitution, is a legitimate prophetic action in the cause of justice and human rights. They have always regarded themselves as the cutting edge of the communion, and since the foundation of their church in the wake of the American Revolution, have understood their General Convention to be juridically independent.
Williams, as always, sees both sides of the question. “I do accept that there are moments when people say, truth before unity. I understand why the Reformation happened, why in the 1930s the German church divided so violently, where the only unity that could have survived the acceptance of Hitler’s racial laws was a unity which absolutely undermined the integrity of the church.” He commented: “Clearly some people in the United States have seen this as that sort of moment. I don’t.”
Welcome to the Alice in Wonderland world of “process” which so dominates the upper echelons of the leadership life of the Episcopal Church. If words COULD be interpreted in a way that does not favor the leadership’s goals, they are not, but when the wording does, they are interpeted that way, restrictively. There is some talk that this whole conflict and crisis among Anglicans is all about power, and it is not primarily about power, actually, but about truth and other things. Yet power plays a role, it is just that TEC leadership does not do much self-criticism about how they exercise their own power. Words mean what those in leadership in TEC want them to mean in too many instances. One wishes there would be some self-scrutiny on such matters because the implications would be considerable. The lack of honesty in this church in some matters has become intolerable. People are saying one thing and doing another and using words to mislead others into thinking they are not doing what in fact they are doing….
The key language in this resolution may be found here: Lambeth “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions.” Anglican practice needs to be in accord with anglican teaching. Therefore, there can be no pastoral practice in a local setting which either is or is seen to be somehow “legitimising or blessing”¦same sex unions.” And this means that local blessings, whether in houses or churches or wherever, and whether they have official sanctioned liturgies or not, cannot be done, if they are of non-celibate same sex couples.
Lest there be any doubt about this, the Archbishop of Canterbury said at the concluding press conference of the Tanzania primates meeting:
The teaching of the Anglican Church remains that homosexual activity is not compatible with scripture.
Read it all. And note that Bishop Councell’s article posted below is exactly legitimizing a same sex union in his diocese. This is the new theology and practice which TEC has embraced. Why will its leaders not admit this openly and honestly? Do they lack the courage of their convictions?
Those who practice homosexuality have no chance of living the abundant life of which Jesus spoke. The objective studies (the results of which rarely appear in main stream media even when the research is done by pro gay and lesbian groups) are clear and compelling with regard to the inordinately high levels of social, emotional, spiritual, and physical difficulties experienced by those captured by the gay and lesbian way of life.
Given that an Episcopal priest is a shepherd of a local Christian flock, the question for the parishes of Cape May County is do we want a shepherd who has herself chosen a path that cannot lead to human fulfillment? To be a shepherd of God’s people one must minimally have the Creator’s view on what needs to be in place for individuals to experience the abundant life in Christ. So out of care for the well being of those who seek true spiritual guidance, installing a priest, a spiritual leader, who is a practitioner and defender of homosexuality is, by any measure the wrong way to go for Christians who seek the robust human flourishing of their fellow pilgrims.
Most Americans believe the nation’s founders wrote Christianity into the Constitution, and people are less likely to say freedom to worship covers religious groups they consider extreme, a poll out today finds.
The survey measuring attitudes toward freedom of religion, speech and the press found that 55% believe erroneously that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation. In the survey, which is conducted annually by the First Amendment Center, a non-partisan educational group, three out of four people who identify themselves as evangelical or Republican believe that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation. About half of Democrats and independents do.
Most respondents, 58%, say teachers in public schools should be allowed to lead prayers. That is an increase from 2005, when 52% supported teacher-led prayer in public schools.
More people, 43%, say public schools should be allowed to put on Nativity re-enactments with Christian music than in 2005, when 36% did.
It appears to many of us ”“ bishops, clergy, laity ”“ that a moment of decision has arrived in the Anglican Communion. The Windsor Report and Primates Communiques from Dromantine and Dar es Salaam have asked The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to take clear actions committing these two Provinces of the Anglican Communion to “walking together” rather than “walking apart” from the Communion. After four years the official, as well as general, response from The Episcopal Church seems to be “we’ll do it our way.” Moreover rejection (by both the House of Bishops and Executive Council) of proposals to allow sufficient integrity to dioceses like Pittsburgh, concerning traditional Faith and Order, now seem all but final. A last minute reversal by the House of Bishops (prior to a September 30th deadline established by the Communion) seems most unlikely. In light of these events, with heavy hearts, and for the sake of our mission it appears the time has come to begin the process of realignment within the Anglican Communion.
Constitutional changes proposed for consideration at the 142nd Annual Convention would begin the process to exercise our right to end the accession of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church of the United States of America. The accession clause first appeared in the Constitution of our Diocese in 1868. The effect of the changes would make clear the right to end any claim of spiritual or canonical authority of the General Convention over the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and would allow the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to realign itself with another Province of the Anglican Communion. The proposed changes are written in such a way, however, that continuing membership in The Episcopal Church remains a possibility if The Episcopal Church were to reverse its “walk apart” from the Anglican Communion.
Where are we going? Nowhere. We stand where we have always stood. We are who we have always been. It is The Episcopal Church that has moved. It is The Episcopal Church that has become something new. If the Convention adopts the constitutional amendments proposed, it is re-alignment within the Anglican Communion that would be made possible. The argument is that this re-alignment would free the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh from any claim that it can be forced to be something different, from being carried somewhere outside the mainstream of Anglicanism, from being lured somewhere outside the mainstream of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Because the accession clause is a feature of our local diocesan constitution, adoption of the changes requires the action of two successive annual conventions. The proposed changes would therefore not take effect immediately, but would open a season of planning, discussion and decision-making in preparation for the second vote in 2008.
September 11, 2007 – Today, the Diocesan Council of The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh began formal process that could lead to changes in its diocesan constitution by forwarding resolutions to Pittsburgh’s Diocesan Convention Nov. 2-3. If ultimately passed by Diocesan Convention, those changes will open the door for the diocese to remain within mainstream Anglicanism even as the wider Episcopal Church continues to cut those ties.
“We are praying that the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops makes these votes unnecessary by unequivocally accepting all the requests of the worldwide Anglican Communion when they meet in New Orleans Sept. 20-25,” said the Rev. David Rucker, president of Diocesan Council. “While we continue to pray for the House we must also prepare for the very real possibility they will not respond favorably. Thus, we are beginning the process that will allow our convention to consider this action in the event the Episcopal Church does not turn back,” he added. The release of convention resolutions conforms to Pittsburgh’s internal rules of order that require any proposed resolutions to be made public well in advance of the meeting itself.
To maintain the Episcopal Church’s standing in the worldwide communion, the House of Bishops has until September 30 to take a number of steps. Among the actions requested of the House of Bishops by the leadership of the worldwide communion is an agreement to participate in a specific oversight plan for American Episcopalians who do not accept the liberal direction of the Episcopal Church.
Acting in March 2007, the House of Bishops rejected in advance the creation of this system of oversight for conservatives and hinted that they would not be able to act on the other requests. Actions by The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council in June further signaled the church leadership’s decision to allow no internal solution.
The Episcopal Church has been steadily moving away from biblical Christianity for more than 30 years. Church leaders are on record denying basic Christian truths, especially concerning the uniqueness of atonement and salvation by Jesus Christ and the primacy of Scripture in determining moral and theological teaching. The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, as well as a number of other dioceses, has worked for years to reconcile its differences with The Episcopal Church, or, failing that, arrange for an orderly and charitable parting of ways. Those efforts have been unsuccessful.
For the first time in six years, Sept. 11 fell on a Tuesday, the same day the planes flew into the buildings and changed everything.
Yet much was different at the increasingly familiar ceremony in Lower Manhattan, where families of the dead, public officials and visitors gathered to mourn and remember.
Unlike the awful, brilliant day of the attacks, this year’s skies were moody and dark, alternately threatening and delivering rain. The ceremony took place not at ground zero, where construction cranes now rise like tentative fingers of hope, but near its southeastern corner, in Zuccotti Park.
The families began trickling in at 7 a.m., some clutching bouquets of flowers, others holding heart-shaped balloons, eventually filling the park by the hundreds and taking refuge from sporadic drizzle under a sea of dark umbrellas.
And then, as it has for five years before, the remembrance ceremony assumed its recognizable form. At 8:40 a.m., the Brooklyn Youth Chorus took the stage, and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” their voices sounding like angels as mourners held aloft photos of people who, to them, are angels now, too. Afterward, the drummer for the New York Police Department marching band sounded a mournful heartbeat, and then the bagpipers began.
At 8:46 a.m., the moment the first plane struck the North Tower, a bell was sounded, as it has for six years now, and the gathered masses bowed their heads.
“On that day, we felt isolated, but not for long, and not from each other,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said. “New Yorkers rushed to the site, not knowing which place was safe or if there was more danger ahead. They weren’t sure of anything except that they had to be here. Six years have passed, and our place is still by your side.” In Washington, unlike previous anniversaries of the attack, President Bush spent the day in the city after attending a service at St. John’s Episcopal Church and holding a moment of silence on the South Lawn of the White House.
We in the Diocese of New Jersey respect the discernment of the local congregations as they search for and call clergy to serve in leadership. All clergy candidates are subject to the same reference and background checks, including conversations with the bishops and deployment officers of those applying from other dioceses. Among the questions that I always ask is the following, based upon one of the ordination vows in our Book of Common Prayer: “Is this priest’s personal life a wholesome example to the people?”
I believe that gay and lesbian clergy, living in monogamous, faithful and stable unions, are a wholesome example to the people of our churches. Once assured of that, I welcome congregations to call such clergy to lead them in their life and ministry.
I have met the Rev. Debra Bullock, who comes with the very highest recommendations from her seminary faculty and from the clergy and lay leaders where she served in Chicago. She is a faithful, dedicated, hard-working, warm and talented priest. She will bring new life and new energy to St. Barnabas in Villas and to St. Mary’s, Stone Harbor.
I welcome her to this Diocese and I give thanks that she and her partner will join our Episcopal community.
The Diocese of Quincy, headquartered in Peoria, Illinois, announced today that it will consider proposals at its October Synod that would cut its ties with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church if leaders of that Church continue to pull away from mainstream Anglicanism.
The Archbishops of the Anglican Communion have set September 30th as the deadline for the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops to give “unequivocal” assurance that they will stop advocating teaching and practices that are incompatible with Holy Scripture.
“We’re praying the House of Bishops will have a change of heart when they meet in New Orleans September 20th-25th,” said Bishop Keith Ackerman of Quincy. “As a diocese, our goal has always been to uphold the historic faith and order of the Church. This is reflected in our diocesan Constitution. If the Episcopal Church refuses to turn back, we will be forced to make a decision.”
Fr. John Spencer, President of the Quincy Standing Committee, made it clear that the Diocese is not trying to preempt the upcoming meeting of the House of Bishops. “We’re required to finalize proposed Synod resolutions now to meet canonical deadlines. It’s not our intention to prejudge what the House of Bishops may or may not do when they meet later this month.”
Spencer also stressed that Quincy is not acting alone. “Other dioceses will consider similar proposals this fall,” he said. “They will announce their plans in due course. If the Episcopal Church continues to reject the pleas and counsel of the Anglican Communion, we’ll be compelled to seek a home in a different Province of the Communion where we can practice the Christian faith in good conscience.”
Quincy would join hundreds of parishes that have cut ties with the Episcopal Church in recent years to affiliate with overseas Provinces of the Communion. Many Episcopal Church leaders are on record denying basic Christian teaching such as the uniqueness of salvation through Jesus Christ and the primacy of Scripture in determining theological and moral teaching.
“It’s become obvious over three decades,” Bishop Ackerman said, “that two churches now exist under the same name. The original church encompasses the parishes and dioceses like Quincy who are committed to the authority of Holy Scripture and Christian orthodoxy. The second is a new culturally-driven religion that advocates revolutionary social change and has abandoned orthodox Christianity. Sadly, this new group has gained control of the national General Convention and Executive Council. Leaders of the Anglican Communion have repeatedly asked the Episcopal Church to repent and heal the schism they’ve caused in our Communion. The Episcopal Church has simply refused.”
Last year, Quincy and six other dioceses asked for alternative oversight from an Archbishop outside of the United States. The House of Bishops and Executive Council both rejected the most recent proposal earlier this year.
“We’ve gone the extra mile in demonstrating patience,” Spencer said, “and then some. But many of our people are simply unwilling to wait any longer, when we see absolutely no sign that the Episcopal Church will hear the pleas of our Anglican brothers and sisters around the world and turn back from the destructive path it is on.”
There are a lot of reasons why the emotional half-life of 9/11 has been so short, many of them good, or at least understandable. We haven’t been (successfully) attacked at home since 9/11, for example.
But it’s important to remember that from the outset, the media took it as their sworn duty to keep Americans from getting too riled up about 9/11. I wrote a column about it back in March of 2002. Back then the news networks especially saw it as imperative that we not let our outrage get out of hand. I can understand the sentiment, but it’s worth noting that such sentiments vanished entirely during hurricane Katrina. After 9/11, the press withheld objectively accurate and factual images from the public, lest the rubes get too riled up. After Katrina, the press endlessly recycled inaccurate and exaggerated information in order to keep everyone upset. The difference speaks volumes.
We are ordained leaders in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and we write to our fellow Anglicans across this Church in this season of great importance concerning our future. We are glad followers of Jesus Christ, working for the mission of his Gospel, and have for decades labored for the reform and renewal of the Episcopal Church under Holy Scripture and through the Holy Spirit. We are deeply thankful for this call upon our lives; we love the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we love this Church.
We write in a season where it is evident that differences of faith and practice have torn our Church and our Communion, perhaps beyond mending. We have all experienced this rending in painful and personal ways.
The presenting issue is the question of human sexuality, but underlying issues go deeper, to the very heart of our faith, including our understanding of the Triune God, the devastating impact of the fall upon human nature, the unique work of Jesus as the only Savior of the world, our understanding of God’s Gospel mission to the world, the interdependence of our Communion, and ”“ above it all ”“ the final authority and full trustworthiness of Holy Scripture guiding us through these matters. Though our faith is in concert with the majority of our Communion and the historical roots of our Church, we now find ourselves fundamentally divided from the majority of the leadership in the Episcopal Church over these issues of first importance.
We have noticed a widespread and growing trend in The Episcopal Church: in many places congregations and dioceses are no longer free to recruit, develop or choose leaders who share their faith and values; mandatory diocesan assessments are used to fund causes that many believe are in opposition to their own principles; and, if the trend continues, acceptance of behavior Scripture reveals to be immoral and destructive will be soon required. Litigation and presentments are being widely used against congregations and their leaders who in conscience resist or who seek the freedom to realign with other parts of our Communion. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that opposition to classical, creedal, biblical theology and to our ministries is being orchestrated from the highest levels of the Episcopal Church. We wonder if we really are welcome here.
Mindful of Jesus’ guidance we have worked to bring our concerns to the leadership of the Anglican Communion. We have been heartened by the broad attention and support we have received. We hoped that the Lambeth Conference, the Windsor Report, and the Tanzania CommuniquÃ© would provide a workable way forward for our ministries and the Anglican Communion itself.
We were stunned by the rapid, summary dismissal of the Tanzania CommuniquÃ© by our House of Bishops and Executive Council early this year. We understood this to signal a decided rejection of Communion authority, of our most deeply held values, and of our future ministries. We believe there shall be no viable long term future for our ministries in this church unless we make unacceptable compromises on matters of first importance. Many of us sense we are being compelled to realign. All of us believe we must act to protect the churches and people we serve. We now fear for the future of the Anglican Communion itself.
We do not want to act in haste or in a spirit of judgment. We are concerned that the history of the Church is littered with the wreckage of strife and division, and we do not wish to add to the ruins. We are mindful that our own hands are not clean in the development of this history, and are particularly brokenhearted over the pride that has too often accompanied our witness. We beg God and others across our Church for the forgiveness we need and for the opportunity for a different future than the one we fear is rapidly coming upon us. More than anything we wish to see God’s Gospel healing upon our Church.
We have an urgent request for our leaders as they take counsel in the months to come.
In all humility, with all prayer, and with great respect for the importance of your leadership in God’s Church, we beg you, implore you, to reconsider and comply with the unanimous requests of the Anglican Primates in the Tanzania CommuniquÃ©.
We believe this plan to offer the greatest and perhaps last opportunity for a much needed halt in the rending of our Church and for the ”˜grace space’ that might offer us a different, ordered, and hopeful way forward.
We shall be much in prayer in the coming weeks, seeking the leading and help of Him whose grace upholds us all.
The Rev. John P. Bailey, Vicar, St. Andrew’s Church, New Kensington
The Rev. Ronald J. Baillie, Vicar, Church of the Good Samaritan, Liberty Boro
The Rev. Dr. James Bauer, Priest, Indiana
The Rev. Douglas R. Blakelock, Rector, St. Mark’s Church, Johnstown
The Rev. Dr. Dennett Buettner, Priest in Charge, Church of the Savior, Ambridge
The Rev. Stanley Burdock, Rector, Christ Church, Brownsville
The Rev. Donald W. Bushyager, Assistant Rector, St. David’s Church, Peters Twp
The Rev. Geoffrey W. Chapman, Rector, St Stephen’s Church, Sewickley
The Rev. James Chester, Deacon, Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Dr. Ruth E. Correll, Assistant & Chaplain, St. Francis Church and Day School, Potomac, MD
The Rev. Dr. Daniel F. Crawford, Rector, St. Thomas-in-the-Fields Church, Gibsonia
The Rev. John T. Cruikshank, Rector, All Saints Church, Brighton Heights, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Dallam G. Ferneyhough, Priest-in-Charge, St. Luke’s Church, Georgetown
The Rev. John E. Fierro, Rector, St. Paul’s Church, Monongahela
The Rev. James Forrest, Associate Rector, St. David’s Church, Peters Twp
The Rev. Matthew Frey, Rector, Church of the Advent, Brookline
The Rev. Dr. Jack Gabig, Director of the Children &Youth Initiative, Anglican Communion Network, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Canon Mary M Hays, Canon Missioner, Diocese of Pittsburgh
The Rev. John Heidengren, Rector, Prince of Peace Church, Aliquippa
The Rev. Marc Jacobson, Priest, Manila, Philippines
The Rev. Sam Jampetro, Church Planter, Coraopolis
The Rev. Paul Johnson, Assistant, Trinity Cathedral, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Carrie Klukas, Deacon in Residence, Trinity Cathedral, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas, Rector, St. Martin’s Church, Monroeville
The Rev. Dr. Grant LeMarquand, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies & Mission, Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge
The Rev. Canon John A. Macdonald, Director of the Stanway Institute for World Mission & Evangelism and Assistant Professor of Mission & Evangelism, Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge
The Rev. Canon Dr. J. Douglas McGlynn, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Parish Ministry, Nashotah House Theological Seminary, Nashotah WI
The Rev. Christine McIlvain, Deacon, Christ Church, North Hills
The Rev. Peggy Means, Assistant Rector, Christ Church Greensburg and Associate Priest, Seeds of Hope Church, Bloomfield
The Rev. Jonathan N. Millard, Rector, Church of the Ascension, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Gary D. Miller, Rector, Church of the Holy Innocents, Leechburg
The Rev. James C. Morehead, Assistant Rector, Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship, Pittsburgh
The Very Rev. Dr. Peter C. Moore, Dean Emeritus, Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge
The Rev. James C. Morehead, Assistant Rector, Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Jeffrey Murph, Rector, St. Thomas Church, Oakmont
The Rev. Andrew Ray, Assistant Rector, Fox Chapel Church
The Rev. David B. Rucker, Rector, All Saints Church, Rosedale
The Rev. Rebecca C. Spanos, Deacon, Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Elaine Storm, Assistant Rector, St. Philip’s Church Moon Twp
The Rev. Dr. Justyn Terry, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge
The Rev. David D. Wilson, Rector, St. Paul’s Church, Kittanning
The Rev. Karen Woods, Deacon, Seeds of Hope Missionary Fellowship, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Michael D. Wurschmidt, Rector, Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Dr. Mark Zimmerman, Rector, St. Francis-in-the-Field Church, Somerset
The day after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the headline in Paris’ Le Monde newspaper read “We are all Americans”. Liane Hansen speaks with Jean-Marie Colombani, who wrote the article that ran beneath that headline about his reflections on that time.