* Note Kevin Kallsen should be broadcasting this very shortly *
[hat tip to Stand Firm]
A total of 51 bishops and bishops-elect representing tens-of-thousands of Anglicans in North America are meeting together Sept. 25-28 in Pittsburgh , PA. The meeting of the first-ever Common Cause Council of Bishops brings together bishops and observers from the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Coalition in Canada, the Anglican Communion Network, Anglican Network in Canada, the Anglican Province of America, Anglican Essentials Canada, the Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, Forward in Faith North America and the Reformed Episcopal Church.
In welcoming the assembled bishops, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh and convener of the gathering, said that before any unified orthodox Anglicanism could be expected to emerge in North America relationships among bishops and jurisdictions need to be reordered. “Our shortcoming is not ‘right Faith.’ Our shortcoming is ‘right Order’ and ‘right Mission ,'” said Bishop Duncan.
Bishop Duncan went on to suggest that the bishops discuss a number of practical points that could contribute to building a more unified orthodox Anglicanism in North America . Among those points, he asked that the bishops agree to consult each other as they plant congregations, mutually review candidates for bishop before consecrations, share ministry initiatives instead of duplicating efforts, work actively together at the local level, and allow those ordained in one jurisdiction to function in all jurisdictions.
“Our theme for this Council of Bishops is ‘Together in Mission : Restoring Confidence in an American Episcopate.’ The whole world is watching. After speaking the truth to each other, we will need to speak the truth about what we have done – or not done – to the world,” said Bishop Duncan.
The full text of Bishop Duncan’s opening remarks follows:
A HISTORIC CONCLAVE
“Together in Mission : Restoring Confidence in an American Episcopate”
Welcome to Pittsburgh ! Welcome to the Common Cause Partnership Council of Bishops! Welcome to three days of worship, fellowship, teaching, sharing and incredibly hard work.
Welcome Bishops, Bishops-elect, Bishops-designate, Wives, Presenters, Intercessors, Staff, Friends. Welcome to Dr. George Hunter of Asbury Seminary, our keynote speaker tonight, and welcome to Prof. Justyn Terry of Trinity School for Ministry, our Scripture expositer for the next three mornings.
During the early hours of yesterday, the Lord reminded me of the word “conclave.” Bishop’s meetings are sometimes “with the key withheld,” the literal meaning of the Latin root. Bishops gathering in conclave cannot come out until they have a successful result. While there will be no one “locking us in,” the whole Anglican world is expecting something great of us in this meeting. They are expecting some “key” to unlock a more hopeful future. Let us not fail them, or our God.
Most of our work here is behind closed doors. This is an intentional decision on the part of the seven lead bishops who did the planning: Bishops Ackerman, Grundorf, Harvey, Minns, Murphy, Riches and myself. We need to speak the truth to one another. We need to do some hard thinking and hard talking. The future of Anglicanism in North America is at stake.
On Trinity Sunday in 2004, the leaders of the first six (now ten) Partners wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury “signifying our commitment to make common cause for the gospel of Jesus Christ and common cause for a united, missionary and orthodox Anglicanism in North America.”
The Primates of the Global South, writing from Kigali exactly one year ago, stated that the time had come for a “separate ecclesiastical structure in the United States [ North America ].” What we come together to do is to see whether we can so re-order the relationships among us that the way might be opened for such a structure to emerge.
Our shortcoming is not “right Faith.” Our shortcoming is “right Order” and “right mission.”
– Can we agree to interchangeability of those in holy orders?
– Will we work actively together at the local level?
– Will we consult with one another as we seek to plant congregations?
– Can we agree to mutual review of candidates for bishop before consecrations?
– Will we share ministry initiatives or needlessly duplicate efforts?
– Can we agree about appropriate ratios of bishops to congregations, attendance and membership?
– Would each one of us be willing to give up episcopal function for the good of the whole, were that in the best interests of all?
– Could each one of us become a missionary bishop over a growing Church?
Our theme for this Council of Bishops is “Together in Mission : Restoring Confidence in an American Episcopate.” The whole world is watching. After speaking the truth to each other, we will need to speak the truth about what we have done – or not done – to the world.
Anglicanism appears to be failing in the West. We cannot answer for how others have failed, or are failing, but we must surely answer for what we do – or do not do – here in this place, in this conclave, wherein we hold the key.
Again the warmest of welcomes, for the most important of tasks. Almost upon us is Global Anglicanism’s September 30th deadline for bishops in America to make response about “walking together” or “walking apart.” It is to walking together that we are called, is it not? I am confident in the company gathered here and, above all, in the Lord who has called us. We are here to make common cause for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and here to make common cause for a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America . We have our work cut out for us, we whose highest calling is as servants of the servants of God, and God’s servants all across the land very much have their eyes set upon us and upon this place for these days. May God’s help be ours in abundance.