Daily Archives: September 26, 2007

Episcopal bishops try to buy time on sexuality issues

Colorado Episcopal Bishop Rob O’Neill joined his colleagues Tuesday, pledging not to push same-sex unions and openly gay bishops until a wider consensus emerges in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The U.S. bishops, meeting in New Orleans, were responding to a demand by the conservative Anglican majority overseas to renounce their pro-gay policies by Sunday, or face censure or even expulsion from the 72 million- member communion.

However, conservative churches in Colorado won’t buy the bishops’ carefully worded compromise, the Rev. Jim Paul, of Fort Collins predicted Tuesday.

“We’ve heard all this before,” Paul said.

Paul said his 225 parishioners at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Fort Collins will announce on Sunday’s deadline whether they plan to leave the diocese for a more compatible Anglican organization. He expects other Colorado churches to make similar decisions.

“They’re being very quiet out there, but we know other parishes are lined up behind us,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Boston Globe: Episcopal leaders act to avert a schism

The leaders of several conservative Anglican churches in the United States, some of which are still part of the Episcopal Church and some of which have broken away, are gathering this week in Pittsburgh to discuss their future. Four or five of the 110 Episcopal dioceses are talking about trying to leave the Episcopal Church.

“What we were looking for was clarity, and what we got is an exercise in wordsmithing,” said Robert Lundy, spokesman for the American Anglican Council, an alliance of conservatives. “Overall, we feel disappointment.”

The Episcopal Church has repeatedly sought to portray the conservatives who would leave as a tiny minority.

“The conflict that you read about in the headlines is not reality in 95 percent of the church,” Jefferts Schori said yesterday.

Bishop John W. Howe of Central Florida, one of the most conservative bishops present at the meeting in New Orleans, said last night that he did not vote for the statement because it did not bar blessings of same-sex unions outright, but that he also thought that, among the Anglican primates, as leaders of provinces are called, “the majority will find it acceptable.” Howe, asked if he would try to remove his diocese from the Episcopal Church, said “absolutely not.”

“I think we did better than I expected,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Statement by the Anglican Communion Secretary General

(ACNS)

The Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council accompanied the Archbishop of Canterbury to the meeting of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church which has been meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, between Wednesday 19 September and Tuesday 25 September.

We gathered at the invitation of presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and of the House of Bishops in order to converse with them about the current tensions encountered in the life of the communion.

On Monday 24 September, the Joint Standing Committee met in formal session to reflect on the conversations, both formal and informal, in which they had participated over the previous four days.

The Committee would like to express their profound thanks to the Presiding Bishop and to the House of Bishops for the generosity and graciousness of the welcome that they have received.

They had also been invited by Bishop Charles Jenkins and the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana to witness something of the ministry of the Church, as it plays its part in the healing and renewal of the City of New Orleans in the wake of hurricane Katrina. So, after two days of engagement and listening on the Thursday and Friday, members of the Joint Standing Committee joined members of the House of Bishops and their spouses in participating in active mission projects in the city of New Orleans so grievously affected by Hurricane Katrina.

The past few days have been a time of enormous learning and growth in mutual understanding. At the same time, the conversation has been honest, direct and even painful at times. The Committee is conscious that some of its members, in reflecting the very real concerns of the wider Communion, have spoken in a way which could be seen as challenging or even offensive to the Bishops of the Episcopal Church. Nevertheless, it has been important that each side has been honest, and free to speak the message which has been laid on their hearts. The words of the members of the Archbishop and of the Joint Standing Committee were met with patience, generosity and an intensity of debate on the Monday and Tuesday which illustrates how seriously the concerns of the wider Communion are taken by the Episcopal House of Bishops.

The Joint Standing Committee is also conscious that the very life of the Communion is standing at a crossroads at present. The Anglican Communion is a family of 44 autonomous churches. There is no central body which can pass judgement or issue directions for the life of the Communion. At the same time, however, it is the responsibility of the Instruments of Communion to enable conversation and discernment between the provinces and churches, and it was in this spirit that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the members of the Joint Standing Committee have approached this meeting.

A central focus of the discussions has been the requests of the Windsor Report to the Episcopal Church, as amplified by the Primates most recently at Dar es Salaam in February 2007. At that meeting, the primates specifically addressed three questions arising from the Windsor Report to the Episcopal House of Bishops.

The primates had requested clarification on the status of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention, and whether this did in fact reflect the request of the Windsor Report for a moratorium on the election and consecration of candidates for the episcopate who were living in a sexual relationship outside of Christian marriage.

Secondly, the primates had asked that the Bishops, as the chief liturgical officers in their dioceses, should mutually undertake not to offer public liturgies for the blessing of same-sex unions.

Thirdly, the primates had offered suggestions for the sort of pastoral care which could be offered in a way which enabled interventions from other provinces to cease.

While the Joint Standing Committee met in formal session on the Monday, the House of Bishops began their consideration of the concerns expressed to them by the wider Communion.

Although their response was not available to the Joint Standing Committee as they concluded their meeting on Tuesday evening, they were briefed before departure by the Presiding Bishop. The formal response of the House of Bishops is now available, and it is the intention of the Joint Standing Committee to consult with one another in the preparation of a report to be submitted to the Archbishop of Canterbury by the end of the week offering an early response to the statement that the House of Bishops have developed.

The Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council are grateful that the Archbishop of Canterbury has indicated that he intends to consult widely with all the Primates and with all members of the Anglican Consultative Council as the Communion discerns the way ahead. We call upon all Christian people to remember the Churches and faithful of the Anglican Communion in their prayers, trusting in the Holy Spirit will guide us into the wholeness of truth and life which is Christ’s will for his Church.

London
Thursday, 27 September, 2007

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

A Scottish Cathedral Provost Gets It

You almost have to smile at the bishops of the Episcopal Church in the states. It would appear that they have managed to get Rowan Williams the headlines that he wanted without changing their policy on anything at all.

The BBC is reporting things particularly inaccurately.
They say today:

Leaders of the Episcopal Church in the United States have agreed to halt the ordination of gay clergy to prevent a split in the Anglican Church.
The Church will also no longer approve prayers to bless same-sex couples.

But neither statement is true at all. The bishops have not said they will halt the ordination of gay people. Some people think that they said that they would not ordain any more gay bishops. That is not quite right either. The polity lingers on. If any diocese elects a bishop who is in a partnership, it will still be for the other diocesan bishops with jurisdiction & Standing Committees to vote on whether to confirm the election just as they do for all bishops. We might presume that quite a few of them would vote against such an appointment at this time. We must also assume that quite a few would vote in favour. The process has changed not a jot as a result of this latest meeting.

Read it all. (Hat tip: DM)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Please don't miss…

the two excellent posts at Stand Firm this morning.

Matt’s: The Fall of the Windsor Bishops, the loss of the House”¦

Sarah’s: After a Battle, What Do We Do: Traveling Home

Both insightful and helpful in this elf’s humble opinion.

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

Living Church Article on Final House of Bishops Statement

After the meeting was opened to the public and the final version was distributed at around 4:30 p.m., there was one last proposed amendment to drop language from the paragraph on same-sex blessings which stated the bishops would not authorize “public rites of blessing” for same-sex unions “until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion.” Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island then proposed a motion for a vote on the document itself as opposed to adoption without a formal vote.

“All I wanted was for us to vote on this so as to honor the minority voice,” Bishop Wolf told The Living Church. “I didn’t expect the ”˜no’ vote to come from the conservative side and it didn’t. Bishop [Charles] Bennison [of Pennsylvania] was the only ”˜no’ vote.”

Bishop Wolf said the measure was “better than anyone could have expected. There is a clear sense that the majority did not approve of same-sex blessings in their diocese. I think we added some depth to the issue of consents as well.”

Read it all but Bishop Bennison was not the only no vote. This is why I so dislike voice votes on very important matters..

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

Al Mohler: What Really Happened in New Orleans? An Anglican Schism Draws Closer

Conservatives seem to see the statement as a non-starter and a sure sign that a schism is at hand. Their reading of the statement would seem to be shared, at least in this respect, with homosexual rights activists within the Episcopal Church.

The activist organization known as “Integrity” released a statement celebrating the bishop’s action. Their statement began with these words:

The members of Integrity have prayed unceasingly for their bishops as they met this week to consider a response to the primates’ communiqué. The bishops were pressured by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other international guests to comply with the primate’s demands. The bishops struggled mightily amongst themselves to achieve a clear consensus on how to respond. Integrity is gratified that the final response from the House of Bishop declined to succumb to the pressure to go backwards, but rather took some significant steps forward.

Similarly, The New York Times reported:

Bishop Martyn Minns of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a prominent conservative group supported by the Archbishop of Nigeria, responded to the bishops’ resolution: “They’re offering business as usual. The communion asked them to make a change, to embrace the teaching of the communion about homosexuality, and there’s no change at all.”

This indeed appears to be the bottom line — no change at all. This is indeed a tragedy, and one that will effect other denominations and churches as well. The most important issues at stake in New Orleans were not same-sex unions and gay bishops but biblical authority and the integrity of the church.

Read it all.

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

Kendall Harmon: A Heartbreaking Observation

In a time of judgment the truth is revealed in moments like this, and it can be quite painful. So why does the New York Times get it, the Times-Picayune get it, Integrity get it, and people in the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church who should know better not get it? It is because they do not understand the depth of the breach that needed to be repaired in the first place. The Primates sought an unequivocal commitment because for a marriage in temporary separation if you do not invest yourself completely in what the marriage counselor asked for, it will not work and you get a divorce. The stakes are simply too high, and the damage is too great, for a negotiation, quid pro quo, well I might, sort of, for a short time do this, and while I say this (I will still do sometimes do that), oh and by the way, I insist on my spouse doing this and that which I want because I have terms here too.

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

The New Orleans Times-Picayune Gets it

Episcopal bishops meeting here Tuesday declined to give other churches in the Anglican Communion the unequivocal guarantee they sought to cease the ordination of partnered gay bishops.

Read it all.

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

The New York Times: Episcopal Bishops Reject Anglican Church’s Orders

The resolution affirmed the status quo of the Episcopal Church, both theological conservatives and liberals said.

It states, for example, that it “reconfirms” a call to bishops “to exercise restraint” by not consenting to the consecration of a partnered gay bishop. It also says the bishops promise not to authorize “any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions.” Still, some bishops allow such blessings to occur in their dioceses. Both positions have been stated in past meetings of the governing body of the church, the General Convention.

The resolution also calls for an “immediate end” to the practice of foreign bishops’ consecrating conservative Americans to minister to breakaway congregations in the United States, a trend that church leaders believe undermines their authority.

The Bishop Martyn Minns of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a prominent conservative group supported by the Archbishop of Nigeria, responded to the bishops’ resolution: “They’re offering business as usual. The communion asked them to make a change, to embrace the teaching of the communion about homosexuality, and there’s no change at all.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Notable and Quotable

”˜I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo.
”˜So do I,’ said Gandalf, ”˜and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us

Then Frodo kissed Merry and Pippin, and last of all Sam, and went abroad; and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew, and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth; and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore glimmered and was lost. And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last one night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.

–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Posted in Uncategorized

Ephraim Radner on the House of Bishops New Orleans Statement

From here:

This is at best a 40 out of 100, with respect to the Primates’ questions. The issue of election and consecration of bishops was clarified as the Primates requested and in the direction they wanted. The issue of same-sex blessings was, as many have quickly pointed out, dodged in a long-familiar way, but in a way that actually avoided confronting the Primates explicit question of “permission” of, and not simply authorizing public rites. A relatively clear “no” to the Primates. The issue of pastoral oversight was left muddy, but with a reiteration of the earlier clear “no” to the actual suggestion of the Primates. For lack of any other proposal offered by the American bishops, this can only be seen as an attempt to obfuscate and buy time, without any cost. The other statements are boilerplate. In the end, the response must be construed as a failure to meet the Primates’ requests, although one made with some very small gestures in their direction. and others made to emphasize their disagreement with the Primates.

It is not surprising that this kind of statement would come out of the diverse and unevenly divided House, faced with the various pressures it has been feeling. The House of Bishops is not capable of acting as a body. This is a part of the judgment it carries. For that matter, it reflects what may be becoming clear on a larger stage: the Anglican Communion itself is not capable of acting as a body. What then? The analogy with a human body could go in a number of directions: paralysis, coma, seizures, spasticity, death. Who knows? Maybe even eventual healing. The claim to “health through amputation” (made by some in this case), however, strikes me as a naive hope that will resemble in the end the knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail movie, only here the victim of his own weapon and no another’s. All the more liable.

Is there a minority report? I hear no mention of one. It doesn’t matter if the task of the HoB was impossible. Inevitable failures are still useless, and still to be rejected, despite their unavoidable nature. Those bishops who understand this should at least say so, and not only in lonely whispers.

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

From the Bishops in New Orleans, a Key Deafening Silence on one Subject the Primates Addressed

From the Tanzania Communique:

The Primates urge the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation. We also urge both parties to give assurances that no steps will be taken to alienate property from The Episcopal Church without its consent or to deny the use of that property to those congregations.

They said not a word about it. Not one–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Leander Harding Responds to the New Orleans Bishops Statement

From here:

My primary reaction to the HOB document is that the majority of the bishops do not understand the gravity of the situation in the communion and the fragility of the communion at this moment. The premise of this document is that a promise not to give consent for another bishop in a same-sex relationship before the next Lambeth and a promise not to change the formularies and authorize “public rites” for same sex blessings will buy a place at the Anglican table and enable the American church to participate in communion synods as advocate for the gay agenda by pushing the listening process. The fundamental dishonesty of the situation with regard to same sex blessings where the permission is given not to ask for permission has not been lost on the press. It is hard to understand why the HOB thinks the rest of the communion should not feel that this is simple insincerity. The provision of a separate paragraph for pushing to have Gene Robinson included in the Lambeth meeting is a stunning bit of denial. Clearly if Gene Robinson is present at Lambeth in any kind of official capacity the attendance of Global South bishops will be dramatically reduced. If Rowan Williams allows his name to be invoked with impunity as the sponsor of that effort it will be another and perhaps final blow to his credibility.

Especially disappointing is the refusal to consult with the dissenting bishops to arrive at a scheme for alternative oversight that would be acceptable to them. Rather than offering another take or leave it plan an invitation to the dissenting dioceses to put forward a plan of their own would have communicated some Christian charity. The majority in the HOB seems to perfect the art of being poor winners.

The resolution does empower the presiding bishop to consult with the primates on a plan but there is no good faith gesture in the report that gives ground for hope of a real negotiation. I am very sorry that Bishop Howe’s plan was not given greater consideration.

The HOB has clarified that it commits itself not to give consents to another election like Gene Robinson. It continues to claim that encouraging local option for same sex blessings shouldn’t be communion breaking as long as “public rites” are not authorized. This seems to me to be a claim that we should be able to violate our own rules as long as we do it quietly. I can’t imagine the primates buying it.

In sum the document brings the communion closer to schism. If Rowan Williams does not now disassociate himself from the American church leadership and its intransigence he will become irrelevant as a force for keeping the communion together and the break between the Global South and the rest of the communion will be accelerated.

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

Bishop Duncan's Opening Address: Common Cause Council of Bishops

* Note Kevin Kallsen should be broadcasting this very shortly *
link: http://www.anglicantv.org/blog/index.cfm/2007/9/25/Common-Cause-PIttsburgh-Tuesday-Stream
[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.

RE-STRUCTURING RELATIONSHIPS

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.

WELCOME

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.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Common Cause Partnership