Daily Archives: September 24, 2007

The 7 points of the Preliminary Draft Document: A Message from the House of Bishops

I thought it might be helpful to extract the bishops’ seven points from the rest of the verbiage of their proposed statement. Here they are:

1. We affirm and support the PB’s plan to provide Episcopal visitors for dioceses within the Episcopal Church. The Windsor Report (paragraph 152) affirmed that our plan for DEPO is reasonable and saw no reason why such delegated pastoral and sacramental oversight should not be provided by bishops from within this province. We believe the Presiding Bishop’s plan is consistent with DEPO and we thank those bishops who have generously offered themselves for this ministry.

2. While we have already expressed concerns about the recommendations made by the Primates for a pastoral scheme, we nonetheless urge the PB to continue conversations with those requesting alternative oversight, seeking ways to create and implement arrangements which meet pastoral needs and which do not violate our Constitution and Canons. We urge those requesting such oversight to participate in these conversations and to assist in finding appropriate solutions. We pray that a way forward can be found which will bring an end to the incursions of extra-provincial bishops. These incursions imperil the Communions principle of honoring one another as we work together in good faith on these very difficult issues.

3. We continue to invite all the provinces of the Anglican Communion to join in the listening process which was embraced by the 1998 Lambeth Conference I prayerfully considering the place of gay and lesbian people in our common life. We look forward to receiving initial reports about this process from every province if the communion and to our own continuing participation with others in this crucial project. We see an important role for the ACC in helping to accomplish this objective, as well as in addressing other important issues that come before us. The ACC is representative of both the lay and ordained members of our constituent churches, and it is the only body possessing a written constitution.

4. We have attempted to respond to the Primates questions regarding Resolution B033. in honesty we must report that within the HOB there is disagreement as to how this resolution is to be interpreted and applied. As we live with this painful reality, conversation study and prayer will continue. We recognize the challenge our disagreement presents for some in the Communion and we respectfully ask for their patience and forbearance.

5. Because we are a liturgical church our actions concerning
blessings are expressed in public liturgies. No rite of blessing for
persons living in same sex unions has been adopted or approved by our
General Convention. We wish to make it clear that the House of
Bishops has not voted to authorize such liturgies. Even in the
absence of such public rites, we acknowledge that the blessing of
same sex unions, no matter how public or private, is unacceptable to
some of our brothers and sisters in our own House, in our church, and
in the Communion. The issue remains perplexing for us as we seek to
balance these concerns about rites of blessing and the pressing
pastoral need that confronts us. We wish to offer respect for these
differing viewpoints.

We are grateful that the Primates have articulated their support for
meeting the individual pastoral needs of gay and lesbian persons. In
2003 they wrote “there is a duty of pastoral care that is laid upon
all Christians to respond with love and understanding to homosexual
persons.” The Primates have writeen that there must be a breadth of
private and pastoral responses to individual situations. It is the
case that for many decades, the Episcopal Church has explored the
most faithful ways of ministering to and with gay and lesbian people
who are part of our common life. We acknowledge that in some of our
dioceses this includes the blessing of same sex unions.

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

We are mindful that the Bishop of New Hampshire has not yet received
an invitation to Lambeth. We are also mindful that the Archbishop of
Canterbury has expressed a desire to explore a way to include Bishop
Robinson in the Lambeth Conference. Because we believe that this is a
matter of importance to the House of Bishops, we propose that the
Archbishop of Canterbury invite a small group of bishops appointed by
the Presiding Bishop to assist him in facilitating Bishop Robinson’s
presence and participation.

7. We reaffirm our March 2007 statement in which we said, “We
proclaim the Gospel of what God has done is doing in Christ, of the
dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion and peace.
We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no
male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in
Christ all God’s children, including women, are full and equal
participants in the life of Christ’s Church. We proclaim the Gospel
that in Christ all God’s children, including gay and lesbian persons,
are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church. We
proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including
violence done to women and children as well as those who are
persecuted because of their difference, often in the name of God.”

To read these points in their context go here.

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

A USA Today Article from Last week

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wrapped up the conference by saying the work is “just beginning.”

Speaking Friday from a mission trip in Ghana, Bishop Martyn Minns, a former Episcopal priest in Fairfax, Va., who now leads a Nigerian-aligned Anglican group in the USA, said he was saddened by the continuing lack of resolution.

“My sense is that the Communion is being reshaped, and that it will someday be expressed in different ways. The U.S. bishops are sincere, but they are sincerely wrong,” Minns said.

Read it all.

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

Chris Seitz on the Recent Session of the House of Bishops in New Orleans

From here:

This is predictably bad. The entire point of the CA gatherings is/has been to provide a credible ”˜minority report’ which will have an afterlife when this is over and join up with the Primates and show a way forward for those who do not participate in the odd group-speak of the loudest TEC bishops. The resolve of the CA bishops is crucial, if there is to be a credible minority report when the dust from this (tiresome, predictable) cavalcade is over. Listening to Doss or Charles for more than five mimutes would be like sitting in a Dante netherworld. How do these CA bishops and allies endure this? It’s like a faculty meeting of 100 trying to write a document. Absurd.

It is a book to be written which would describe the almost hopeless polity of TEC. Too many bishops, too few people, spread out over a vast region and so necessitating something like this, but almost requiring tacit agreements to work””and these are no longer there except on the Left”¦

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

Theologian predicts Episcopal bishops will seek (Inadequate) compromise

A conservative Anglican theologian believes the Episcopal Church will attempt to formulate a compromise that falls short of demands put forth by world Anglican leaders.

Episcopal bishops are currently meeting in New Orleans to decide whether to obey an order from the international leadership of the Anglican Communion that calls for an end to the consecration of homosexual bishops and blessings of “same-sex unions”. The Episcopal Church has until September 30 to comply with the order, or risk losing its membership in the world-wide Anglican Communion.

Dr. Kendall Harmon, Canon Theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, says it is very unlikely the Episcopal Church will agree with what Anglican leaders are asking. He says the denomination is in denial about its drift from Biblical truth.

“What’s so frustrating about the Episcopal Church,” Harmon says, “is they make changes and then when it comes to crunch time, they won’t admit that they [made] changes, and instead they play games with words, and they say one thing and do another. And that’s what’s going to be attempted in New Orleans.”

Harmon notes that some Episcopal bishops are not so timid, noting several liberal Episcopal bishops, including those of North Carolina, Newark, Massachusetts and California, who have made it clear that they embrace “a new theology” and that they refuse to waver from their present course of embracing homosexuality.

Read it all.

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

A Deeply Moving Reflection from Sarah Hey: “A grim morn, a glad day, and a golden sunset:"

Drawing on some powerful imagery from JRR Tolkein, Sarah Hey at Stand Firm outlines her hopes for how the Windsor Bishops will act in these crucial days:

For several years now, I have been clear with myself and others about what I hope for and seek. I believe that the Anglican vision of the church and the gospel is the most beautiful and complete Christian vision that there is. I want a disciplined, boundaried, ordered, and united Anglican Communion as the vehicle for that vision. I believe that such an Anglican Communion is the best, and probably the only hope for carrying that vision. It appears now highly unlikely that the Anglican Communion will discipline itself or further establish its ordered and clear identity — and thus the vehicle for carrying that vision to sinners will be lost, at least in the United States. Furthermore, because of my theology, numerous options that may be open for others are closed to me.

I understand that others do not believe as I do — but those who do, must take the path as it leads, regardless of any sadness or pain or defeat that may lie ahead.

This brings me to the Windsor bishops who are at this moment in the closed session of the House of Bishops meeting.

The temptation must be great for artificial closure — a shortcutting of the path that seems to lead to defeat. The honorable path is that of taking one’s stand for the clear and sole path towards the integrity and wholeness of the Anglican Communion — and that path is firmly standing for the doctrine and practice of the Christian faith and of the Anglican Communion. It is firmly standing for the principles espoused so clearly in the Windsor Report. And it is standing for the solution offered to the intractable problems that face us by the Dar es Salaam communique.

Down that path one must go. The ACI believes it. Kendall Harmon believes it. The staff at StandFirm believe it. In fact, there has rarely been such unity amongst conservatives in the Anglican Communion as today. All of us believe with our whole hearts that the path forward is Windsor and Dar and the outcry amongst us all, nearly to a person, is to please put to the floor a clear and forthright resolution that answers the questions of Dar, and vote as a stalwart unit for that resolution, making certain that your names are on the record for it.

But as we have learned — and I mean this personally, and am not pointing the finger at others — there are many opportunities for a conservative Episcopalian under immense pressure to betray one’s principles, one’s path, and one’s comrades. One might negotiate with other progressive bishops and produce a resolution that proves “acceptable” to a bare majority, but unacceptable to your fellow traditional bishops and which betrays the principles of the Windsor Report and the communique from the Primates. One might watch one’s comrades speak and urge for a clear statement, while remaining silent oneself. One might vote for the wrong resolution, in the hopes that it will pass without having to vote on the principled and clear resolution. One might refuse to let one’s vote be known, in the hopes of slipping quietly away. One might fail in defending the principled resolution from amendment, and then end up voting for the amended one as “the best we can do.” One might yield to the need of your diocese for money and aid. One might be tempted not to use the language asked for at Dar, but instead use “blurry words” that some revisionists might vote for. One might yield to the nearly irresistable temptation to save one’s diocese from the dissent and anxiety that may arise should a principled resolution come to the floor and be defeated. What will happen, an orthodox bishop may think, should I “step off that plane with no piece of paper that proclaims peace and stability for our time?”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Windsor Report / Process

Monday Noon Eastern: Looks like HoB going into Open Session

If they do, Matt Kennedy is ready to live blog

BabyBlue is also liveblogging

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

Another Example of Resolution Language which will Let me Know the House of Bishops is Serious

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church pledges itself in covenant to refrain from making local pastoral provision for same sex blessings in their dioceses until and unless a new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges and will discipline any bishop who permits local pastoral provision for same sex blessings in his or her diocese.

Note carefully that this language has a time period specified, it uses the language of the Tanzania Communique (“local pastoral provision for…blessings”) and the Windsor Report, AND there is discipline within the province for those who defy the covenantal pledge.

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

Living Church: Historic Two Days Ahead for House of Bishops

The four international speakers who have addressed the house all spoke critically of The Episcopal Church’s failure to consult adequately with its partners. They also mentioned how the church has made things worse by responding to requests for explanation with excuses about polity and cleverly worded statements that are contradicted by facts on the ground. Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt, Primate of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, had the most pointed criticism, but the criticism from Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Australia came as something of a surprise because he and the Province of Australia are generally regarded as friendly to The Episcopal Church.

“We are deeply, tragically, horribly ”˜stuck,’ not only in The Episcopal Church, but in the Anglican Communion as a whole,” said Bishop John Howe of Central Florida in the preface of a resolution he proposed. “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.”

Bishop Howe’s was one of at least two new resolutions known to be circulating for the first time since Friday. He does not think any of the proposals has achieved any momentum. This makes the job of the writing group appointed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori much more difficult.

Read it all.

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

Matt Kennedy: Consequences and Decisions: Comments on the Howe Proposal and other things

Fr. Matt Kennedy of Stand Firm has a very interesting analysis of Bp. John Howe’s proposal. He offers point by point commentary. Here’s an excerpt:

Bishop John Howe’s proposal is not perfect. It would, had the Archbishop of Canterbury been willing call a Primates meeting between now and Lambeth and withdraw Lambeth invitations, be unnecessary. But in light of the Archbishop’s apparent unwillingness to do what his office demands, the only way to preserve Communion unity will be for the House of Bishops to act sacrificially.

Bishop Howe has offered a proposal to the House of Bishops that, if implemented, essentially accomplishes what the orthodox (in general) have been seeking while, at the same time, allowing the revisionists a gracious way to remain true to their theological and ecclesial convictions. There is, as Bishop Howe suggests, pain enough for all, but the brilliance of the proposal is that it does not require the sacrifice of core principles.

The proposal incorporates 8 points. Each point is listed below followed by a brief comment.

”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.”

The resolution of the Windsor Bishops is best articulated in the MacPherson resolutions and as Bishop Howe notes, they are wholly consistent with the Dar Es Salaam (DES) Communique. This first step, voting on the MacPherson resolutions, is crucial because it, rightly, sets up the DES Communique as the criterion by which bishops identify themselves as Windsor or non-Windsor bishops. The DES Communique asks for honesty from the American church. Are we willing to abide both by the spirit and the letter of present Communion standards?

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 )

.
This second step circumvents one of the more intractable difficulties in our current debate. Revisionists argue that the unique polity of the Episcopal Church does not allow bishops to make the decisions that the DES asks them to make and, further, that the DES requests themselves reveal a deep misunderstanding of not only the American church, but the provincial autonomy at the heart of the Anglican Communion structure. But this proposal calls for a self-sacrificial voluntary removal for the sake of Christian charity rather than forced submission to what revisionists see as coercive demands. At the same time, for the orthodox, this voluntary removal provides the necessary space and distinction between false teaching and true, heresy and orthodoxy called for in the scriptures.

The whole entry is here.

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

Fr. Dan Martins reflects on and prays from Psalm 80

Fr. Dan Martins reflects on how today’s lectionary, in particular Ps. 80, is leading him to pray this morning.

One of the marvels of Holy Scripture–particularly, I have found, as I encounter it in the Daily Office–is the ability of an entirely familiar passage to suddenly leap off the page in an astonishing way.

Psalm 80 is appointed for this morning. It is a plea to Yahweh on behalf of Israel, and the Psalmist compares the nation to a vine–planted and tended by God himself, a beautiful thing. Yet, the vine has fallen on hard times:

Why have you broken down its wall, *
so that all who pass by pluck off its grapes?
The wild boar of the forest has ravaged it, *
and the beasts of the field have grazed upon it.

In what I hope is a faithful allegorical interpretation in the patristic tradition, my heart substituted Anglicanism for Israel, and the whole thing instantly became crushingly poignant in these days when the very survival of the Communion seems to depend on what a group of bishops in gathered in New Orleans decides to do.

The rest of the entry, including his prayer, is here.

Check out the latest Lent & Beyond entries as well for more prayers and reflections.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Biblical Commentary & Reflection, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Bishops

Greg Griffith's "Monday Morning Catch-Up" Thread

A fantastic job by Greg rounding up all the important news and links of last week. Read it here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Resources & Links, - Anglican: Latest News, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Gene Robinson emphasizes inclusiveness

Although Robinson occupies the center of the controversy, he did not use the sermon he gave at Grace Episcopal Church on Sunday to advocate for the rights of gay ministers. The sermon, rooted in the Gospel of Luke, nonetheless conveyed his view that the church should embrace outsiders who live “on the edges of acceptable society.”

If all scripture were lost save for one story, Robinson said, he would preserve the parable of the prodigal son: a young man who left home, squandered his inheritance and crawled back to his father in shame. His older brother lived a sober life and grew resentful when the father welcomed the wayward son home.

Robinson said the older brother did not understand that “the father’s love is big and expansive enough for everyone, for both the good and the bad sons.”

His sermon turned on two points: The church should offer a haven for sinners and outsiders who want to repent, and it should be a place where the faithful can come to renew and recharge their commitment to seeing justice done in the world.

“You and I are called to take a risk, trusting in God who loves us beyond all our imagination,” Robinson said.

Read it all.

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

AP Analysis: Anglicans Already Breaking Up

Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh is convening a meeting next week called “Common Cause Partners” to unite Episcopal conservatives. But even conservatives doubt its viability.

On Monday, conservative Bishop Jeffrey N. Steenson of the Diocese of the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, N.M., plans to announce that he’s resigning and joining the Catholic Church.

“The movement is in danger of fragmenting into so many pieces,” said Canon Kendall Harmon, a leading conservative thinker from the Diocese of South Carolina. “We look like American Protestantism already and we’ve only been essentially at this, depending on whose measuring stick you want to use, three to five years.”

If Anglicanism continues on the path of slow but steady splintering, it will effectively do as much harm as a formal schism. Anglicans in Africa, who derive much of their stature from their global ties, will become just another church. The 2.2 million-member Episcopal Church, which has played such a central role in U.S. history, will also be marginalized.

“If that happens, people will say, `This wasn’t much of a church anyway,'” said Ephraim Radner, an evangelical Anglican and a theology professor at Wycliffe College in Toronto. “The results will be the disappearance and dissolution of Anglicans as a whole in North America.”

Read it all.

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

Bishop Epting faces some questions

Bishop Epting blogs about the questions he got at an adult forum at a small parish in Louisiana. Here’s an excerpt:

I presided at the Eucharist and preached at a small mission congregation in the Diocese of Louisiana this morning. Before the liturgy, I led an adult forum with about 15 folks around a table in the parish hall. After an overview of the House of Bishops meeting and a little bit on our ecumenical relations, I opened the floor for their questions.

Lots of concern about the “September 30 deadline” (which, of course, is not a deadline but as the Archbishop of Canterbury has reminded us “perception is reality” in real life). I spoke of my hopes that we will find a way forward, and then said something like:

“Two things I hope you’ll hold in tension: I want you to be concerned about these larger issues, about the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, and all the rest of it. But, bottom line, no matter what happens at this House of Bishops meeting, it doesn’t have to derail your local efforts. The cutting edge of our mission and ministry is the local congregation and you need to build a healthy and vital congregation!”

A 40-something big guy, with a red face and tears in his eyes said, “I disagree with you. What happens does affect our local congregation! I invite people but nobody in this part of the world wants to come to a church where, when you open the paper, is all about gay bishops and being thrown out of the world wide communion!”

I conceded that there are local consequences, but reminded him that I was only arguing for some balance in all this”¦that we shouldn’t be consumed by “the issues” but dedicate ourselves to mission. Then we went on to the predictable argument about “do we believe the Bible or not”¦why won’t the bishops defend the plain Scriptural truth”¦why is the Episcopal Church going against worldwide Christian opinion on these matters, etc., etc., etc.”

The full entry is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Could We Please have the Statements of all the international Speakers?

My understanding is that there were four, and in the public domain there is only one. Could the powers that be not release all of them into the public domain if possible?

Posted in * By Kendall