Daily Archives: September 23, 2007

Ken Semon Chimes In

From here:

On September 30 I celebrate my last day at Christ Church in Paradise Valley, AZ, a parish under Bishop Steenson’s good care. The parish will split and a good number of faithful people will be realigning on October 1 with another province in the Anglican Communion. After threats from the diocesan, the faithful decided not to fight for the property but to leave it and move on.

On October 1 I begin as priest in charge of Holy Faith parish in Santa Fe. I was so looking forward to serving under Bishop Steenson. My heart is broken–not just for him, but for the diocese he has led so faithfully and with such grace. I can’t say I am sorry to miss the clergy conference this week as I am packing to leave Arizona. The PB has nothing to say to me. Pray for the Church.

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

A proposal from Bishop Howe

Received by e-mail, posted with the kind permission of Bishop John Howe of Central Florida.

To My Fellow Bishops:

We are deeply, tragically, horribly “stuck,” not only in The Episcopal Church, but in the Anglican Communion as a whole. In the past three days we have heard again what we already knew, that we have damaged our relationships with many parts of the Communion by failing to give sufficient attention to “common discernment,” and by moving ahead with decisions in the area of human sexuality before the rest of the Anglican family is able to accept those decisions. It is clear that the great majority of our Bishops cannot retreat from what they believe to be not only a matter of justice, but a “Gospel imperative.” But, in the light of that, we are squandering members, finances, and energy in our deadlock.

What we need is a comprehensive solution that will end the international interventions, end the defections, end the property disputes, end the litigation, and end the ravaging of our witness and mission to the outside world simultaneously. I believe there is such a solution, but it will require great sacrifice on all sides.

I propose that we:

1) Put the Resolution of the “Windsor Bishops” to a vote. It calls for full compliance with the requests of the Primates in their Communique from Tanzania last February.

2) Those who cannot, for conscience’ sake, abide by the acknowledged teaching and discipline of the Communion (Lambeth I:10) will then voluntarily withdraw (at least temporarily) from the official councils of the Communion (as per Professor Katherine Grieb’s much appreciated proposal to us in March at Camp Allen).

3) Those committed to the Communion’s teaching and discipline will continue their participation in the councils of the Communion.

4) Perhaps we will then adopt the Archbishop of Canterbury’s terminology of “constituent” and “associate” membership for our dioceses. “Constituent” = fully Windsor-compliant. “Associate” = committed to remaining Anglican, but unable to accept the Windsor proposals.

5) Those congregations and clergy which are in “associate” dioceses, who wish to continue in “constituent” membership will be transferred to the oversight and care of “constituent” dioceses and Bishops – and vice-versa.

6) We will then request the Primates who have established extra-geographical oversight in this country to give that up, and fold any congregations under their care back into “constituent” dioceses.

7) We will endeavor to fold any American clergy who have been consecrated by international jurisdictions into Suffragan and Assistant Episcopal positions in “constituent” dioceses.

8) Without relinquishing their membership in The Episcopal Church, the “constituent” dioceses will elect their own Coordinator, and function as a parallel provincial entity for a period of 5 years (or perhaps 6 = two General Conventions, or 10 = the next Lambeth Conference).

9) After 5, 6, or 10 years we determine whether or not a “new consensus” has emerged within the Anglican Communion, and in the light of that determination –

10) We either recombine as a single jurisdiction, or we fully separate.

Warmest regards in our Lord,

The Right Rev. John W. Howe
Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida

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

More Thoughts from Ephraim Radner

From here:

This is not a question of “blind eye”, but of Christian realism.

First, we all know that Canterbury has no real stomach for “kicking out” people from the Communion. He has long said it himself, and he has made it clear in his actions. I think you are wrong in your interpretation (and that is all it is, because you and I together have no idea about his actual motivations and deliberations) that he actively “worked against” Dar. What he has, rather, tended to do is commit himself to a process of working with others that has permitted things like Windsor, Dromantine, the reconfigured ACC, the Covenant, and Dar to happen, and in themselves redefine matters as they go along. He has done so largely (and this I DO know) because he believes that the discernment of the larger church, through its councils, is likely more faithful than his own personal predilections, and he is committed to submitting himself to them, however difficult that is.

Second, within the church of Christ, we all are called to come into some kind of peace with those with whom live, so long as we can, in good conscience, maintain that peace. Paul tells us this over and over (Rom. 12:18; 2 Cor. 13:11, etc. etc.). This means enduring people’s weaknesses and often difficult character-traits (as long, again, as they are not outright destroying the Gospel), and helping, where possible, for them to grow in the Lord.

Given the above, in the present situation it is both Christian and realistic for those of us seeking the welfare of the Church of Christ and our Communion within it to work with the people we have as both our leaders and colleagues in order to move forward faithfully. I myself would have been happy if Williams had gotten up after Abp. Anis talk and said “Amen to that! He has spoken my mind exactly!”. But he didn’t, and we know that this is not either how he acts or even what he was probably thinking. Still, as Dr. Seitz has pointed out, he brought Abp. Anis with him, he knows him well, he knows what he would say (they surely consulted), and he encouraged the saying of it through his encouragement of this entire visit. I am not saying this is “good cop, bad cop” as some kind of strategy. It is, rather, the encouragement of the process he himself has supported to work itself out. Our calling in this is not to continually complain let alone accuse!””that Williams is not Anis. He is not. I am not you, nor you me. Our calling is, knowing these differences, to seek a way, through prayer and faithful engagement, to move forward our church in the purposes of God. How does one work with a Williams, an Anis, an Akinola, a Schori in this situation? It is possible to conclude simply that one “cannot”, and leave. But most of us have in fact not reached that conclusion, even if we fear it may come to that or are confused at how we might avoid it. Rather, we seek a way forward that is faithful. And in doing so, we take into account the Williamses and the Anises and the others, well aware that life would be easier if everyone were as we wished them to be (of course, that is a fallacy!), but also more aware that they simply will not be so, and these are the people God has bound us to.

Few of us on this blog are “blind” to the way Rowan Williams approaches matters. We are grateful for his gifts, often frustrated by some of his habits and dispositions, and””my hope””willing to move on with what God has given us in one another within this difficult situation.

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

The Bishop of the Rio Grande to begin Process of Resignation

UPDATE: ENS has a story online here.
September 21, 2007

To the Clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This is a very difficult letter to write as your bishop and colleague in the ordained ministry, and I hope that you will receive it in the prayerful spirit in which it is offered. A pastoral letter to the people of the diocese will follow in a few days. At the House of Bishops meeting about to be convened in New Orleans, my intention is to ask them for permission to begin the process to resign as diocesan bishop. The bishops must give their consent, and then I will step down by the end of the year.

The reason for this decision is that my conscience is deeply troubled about where the Episcopal Church is heading, and this has become a crisis for me because of my ordination vow to uphold its doctrine, discipline, and worship. An effective leader cannot be so conflicted about the guiding principles of the Church he serves. It concerns me that this has affected my ability to lead this diocese with a clear and hopeful vision for its mission. I also have sensed how important it is for those of us in this position to model a gracious way to leave the Episcopal Church in a manner respectful of its laws.

I believe that God’s call to us is always positive, always a to and not a from. At the clergy conference next week I hope to be able to share something of this. Many of you already know of my love for the Catholic Church and my conviction that this is the true home of Anglicanism. I will not dwell on this, however, so as not to lose sight of my responsibility to help lay a good foundation for the transition that you must now lead.

I also want to acknowledge with gratitude the pastoral support I have received from the Presiding Bishop and her office during this time. She has offered to visit, and I have invited her to be with us at the clergy conference the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 26, and perhaps also for that evening, for mutual conversation and the opportunity to know each other better in this time reserved for the clergy. I hope that you all can be present.

This has been an extraordinarily difficult decision to make because of the bonds I share with you and the people of this diocese. It has indeed been a privilege to serve alongside you these past seven years. With deep feelings I write, with regret for how this may complicate your own ministry, with profound gratitude for your prayers and support, and with much love for you. I pledge to you my prayers and friendship in these days to come.

Your brother in Christ,

+Jeffrey Steenson

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Bishop Steenson Comments on the HOB Meeting

A very interesting interview.

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

NY Times: Episcopal Church Remains Divided on Gay Issues

At the news conference on Friday, Archbishop Williams said that other Anglican leaders who attended this week’s meetings would be “reading and digesting what the bishops have to say” and would share their opinions with him next week. He said he would also talk to primates and others in the coming weeks before giving his own opinion about what to do next.

After years of discussion, some Episcopal and Anglican leaders seem to have reconciled themselves to the fact that some kind of break within the Episcopal Church or the greater communion is inevitable. If several months ago a sizable number of bishops would have argued for the unity of the communion at almost any cost, far fewer would do so now, several bishops said.

Bishops also said that while the conversation this week was respectful, they felt disappointed it was so brief. And they said the archbishop and other Anglican leaders had failed to grasp and respect how the Episcopal Church was governed. Other provinces are much more hierarchical and bishops can legislate church policy, they said. Episcopal bishops assert that they cannot govern without the votes of clergy members and lay people, too.

One bishop who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “What was said to us was, ”˜All this talk of laity aside, if you acted like a real bishop, what would you do?’ ”

Read it all.

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

Bishop Epting is Blogging from the Meeting

Here is the entry for yesterday.

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

Sunday Telegraph: Archbishop prays for miracle in gay rights row

On Tuesday, the American bishops, the majority of whom are liberals, are expected to vote to support a greater role for gays and lesbians in the Church, both with regard to the creation of new bishops and the blessing of same-sex relationships.

Unless they can be persuaded otherwise, it seems certain the move will irrevocably split the Church, ending the Anglican Communion and creating an alternative alliance between Africa and conservatives in the US.

Into this increasingly hot and humid atmosphere, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, arrived for a frenetic round of last-minute shuttle diplomacy in a series of private meetings.

As events progressed, Dr Williams showed his face only briefly. In the lobby of the InterContinental, the lift doors opened to reveal the leader of the Anglican Church, his eyes weary from jetlag and battle fatigue.

Asked how the meetings were progressing, the archbishop gave a Gallic shrug and an exasperated raise of the familiar bushy eyebrows before the blessed relief of the lift doors sliding shut again.

He is said to have cut no less awkward a figure in the private meetings, seemingly pained by the position that he finds himself in, trying to reconcile those who believe homosexuality is a sin with liberals who want a more inclusive Church.

Read it all. There are a couple of things which need to be said about this article. First, the document to which Jonathan Wynne-Jones refers is the one posted last Friday by Stand Firm, and so far as I am aware it has no approved status as of yet, and I honestly will be surprised if the House endorses it in some fashion (maybe they will). So it is not true-yet–that the US Bishops have rejected–or approved–anything. Second, and more importantly, we learn that the week before Dr. Williams went to New Orleans he had a private meeting with Archbishop Akinola. This does not sound like the action of an Archbishop who (a) is not trying as best he can to be faithful to the whole communion and (b) is not taking the concerns of the Global South seriously–KSH.

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

Washington Post: Anglican Leader Plays Down Schism

The head of the Anglican Communion offered words of encouragement yesterday to U.S. Episcopal bishops under fire for their support of gay men and lesbians, saying they aren’t facing an “ultimatum,” even as other leaders of the worldwide church insisted the Americans are teetering on being forced out of the communion.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams made his comments at the end of his two-day visit with bishops of the Episcopal Church — the U.S. branch of the communion — who are meeting in New Orleans. The key topic at the conference was the request made this year by the heads of other branches of the communion that the U.S. church promise to halt the approval of gay bishops and the authorization of same-sex marriage rites.

A response was requested by Sept. 30. That has been viewed by many, particularly conservatives, as a major deadline in a years-long standoff in the Episcopal Church over what the Bible says about sexuality and how to view Jesus.

Read it all.

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

The World Comes to Georgia, and an Old Church Adapts

From the front page above the fold of yesterday’s New York Times:

When the Rev. Phil Kitchin steps into the pulpit of the Clarkston International Bible Church on Sunday mornings, he stands eye to eye with the changing face of America. In the pews before him, alongside white-haired Southern women in their Sunday best, sit immigrants from the Philippines and Togo, refugees from war-scarred Liberia, Ethiopia and Sudan, even a convert from Afghanistan.

“Jesus said heaven is a place for people of all nations,” Mr. Kitchin likes to say. “So if you don’t like Clarkston, you won’t like heaven.”

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once noted that 11 a.m. on Sunday was the beginning of the most segregated hour of the week in America, and for the better part of 120 years, that certainly applied to this church. From 1883 until a few years ago, anyone on the pulpit would have gazed out at a congregation that was exclusively white. The church is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, a group that in 1995 renounced its racist past.

But an influx of immigrants and refugees transformed this town in a little over a decade, and in the process sparked a battle within this church over its identity and its faithfulness to the Bible, one that led it to change not just its name but its mission.

The Clarkston International Bible Church, which sits along an active freight rail line down the road from the former Ku Klux Klan bastion of Stone Mountain, is now home to parishioners from more than 15 countries. The church also houses congregations of Ethiopians, Sudanese, Liberians and French West Africans who worship separately, according to their own traditions. The church’s Sunday potluck lunch features African stews and Asian vegetable dishes alongside hot dogs, sweet tea and homemade cherry pie.

The transformation of what was long known as the Clarkston Baptist Church speaks to a broader change among other American churches. Many evangelical Christians who have long believed in spreading their religion in faraway lands have found that immigrants offer an opportunity for church work within one’s own community. And many immigrants and refugees are drawn by the warm welcome they get from the parishioners, which can stand in stark contrast to the more competitive and alienating nature of workaday America.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches

From the Bishop of Atlanta, Neil Alexander

[Saturday] morning Bishop Alexander, on a construction site rebuilding a house in central New Orleans, had this to say:

“The conversations have been frank but productive. I’m confident that we will emerge from this meeting having found a place that is acceptable to both the majority of the Anglican Communion and the majority of the Episcopal Church.”

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

Chicago Tribune: Tensions high among Episcopal bishops

Archbishop Rowan Williams came to a hurricane-damaged city hoping to spark frank dialogue about gay ordination issues that have divided the U.S.-based Episcopal Church from many of its Anglican brethren abroad.

He seems to have gotten just that, saying Friday that the 77 million-member Anglican Communion is “under the greatest possible strain at the moment.”

Episcopal bishops are meeting through Tuesday to draft a response to the worldwide communion’s call to stop consecrating gay and lesbian bishops — a conflict that has divided the worldwide body since the U.S. election of an openly gay bishop in 2003.

“Temperatures are very high at the moment,” Williams told reporters.

Read it all.

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

Notable and Quotable

Concerns over the appointment [of Jeffrey John] raised by evangelicals in the diocese of Oxford, Williams said, were “theologically serious, intelligible and by no means based on narrow party allegiance or on prejudice” and must be considered fully.

–Archbishop Rowan Williams as cited by the Christian Century July 12, 2003

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

Richard Kew: After half a lifetime…

But the shortcomings of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer point up what I believe is American Anglicanism’s greatest weakness — its theological vapidity. I am not an Anglican because of the lovely worship or our sacramental life, or any of the various pieces of adiaphora that so many of us enjoy. I am first and foremost an Anglican because of its doctrinal and theological tradition.

I don’t know how many times I have heard it said outright or implied in my years here that theology doesn’t really matter or Anglicanism is not confessional. I’m sorry, that is just plain wrong: Anglicanism from the 16th Century onward has taken doctrine seriously and is has always had a strong confessional tone. Because so many have come to believe this flaccid approach to theology and the revealed truth, in recent years we have been reaping the whirlwind of the wind that for several generations has been being sown. I think this has been one of my greatest causes of grief.

What startled me when I first came here was that I was pilloried by some because of my theology, and then immediately judged not on the basis of what I believed but on my stance in relation to what was the issue du jour. In those days it was women’s ordination, which most of the time was approached not as the theological issue that it truly is, but as an issue of human right. Very early on I realized that not only did many leaders not really know the Scriptures very well, or be particularly interested in growing in their Scriptures, but they did not see that as a problem. Added to that was a very limited understanding of those generations of Christian shoulders on which we as people of this time stand.

It was when I started traveling around the church that I got to visit the seminaries that I started to discover how they functioned and what they perceived their role to be. Also, for a decade I happened to be officed in a seminaries so could see what happened there first hand. Gradually it dawned on me that my understanding of the nature of theological education was not what was going on in most of these places. There was little laying a firm foundation in Scripture, classic theology, philosophy, church history, and so forth, thereby equipping the next generation of ordained leaders for pastoral and missional ministry, but was more about propagandizing the student body into seeing life, ministry, and God in a particular culturally-conditioned kind of way.

In these seminary settings some students rebel, a few are capable of cutting their theological and intellectual teeth in a constructive manner, but significant numbers swallowed the bait hook, line, and sinker, and in the process often seemed to lose their first rich passionate love of the Lord Jesus Christ. A significant element of this prevailing seminary process is that it is predicated upon a hermeneutic of suspicion when handling the Scriptures, coupled with a sense of disdain for the wisdom of those who have journeyed the Christian way before us, and the notion that we now know better. When coupled with the desperate shortcomings of the Commission on Ministry system in most dioceses it is not difficult to see why leaders cannot lead, and the faith is not growing and blossoming as it ought.

Today’s theological confusion is the end product of decades of such conditioning. Perhaps the classic example of our church’s theological vacuity was the statement that came out of the House of Bishops in March: a mishmash of inadequate theology coupled with such a spin being put on history that the facts could not sustain. It was a classic example of wanting things to go a particular way, and so tinkering with events, movements, and theology so that it was possible to justify what was desired by the majority.

Read it all.

Posted in Theology

NewsFlash: I agree with Mark Harris

Mark says:

Almost everything we see coming out is rehash of old positions. I think things are stuck and that some who believe their job is to rescue us all from stuck positions will put forward compromises that will be rejected. However, what is needed is not compromise, but promise – a new beginning for life together, where most of us can say, “Not farewell, but fare forward voyagers.”

I agree (it does not happen all that often). I keep thinking of that AA statement the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and to expect different results.

Any attempt to put out a mushy statement and then have people go home and do what they have done before will be a disaster. And that has been the pattern again and again.

A system that is stuck needs a breakthrough; a radical proposal that actually creates space, movement, and offers real hope for the future to all as well as calling for sacrifice from all. Pray with me for that.

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