Daily Archives: July 23, 2008

Jordan Hylden: Following Lambeth

Bloggers and reporters innumerable are churning out reports and commentary on the ongoing Lambeth Conference, and I’ve been dutifully reading as much of it as I can stand. My job, you see, is to spend too much time on the Internet, so that you don’t have to. (At least, that’s how I justify it to myself.)

Reading it all is a bit like wading through a marsh, or picking one’s way through a thicket, except with more pointy bishop’s hats and English accents. Much of what’s out there is either of little use, strongly biased, or hopelessly misleading (especially in the British press), but every now and again one runs into something truly worthwhile. Herewith my guide to must-read Lambeth news and comment….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

Communications from Lambeth by the Bishop of West Virginia to his Diocese

Check them out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Bishops

Theo Hobson: The Anglican communion has never been stranger

It’s not often that one can claim to be a keener Anglican than one’s local bishop, but I am attending the Lambeth Conference, and Pete Broadbent, the Bishop of Willesden, is not. He is an evangelical, who sympathises with the Gafcon movement. I ask a couple of local vicars what they think of his boycott: they are not impressed. “By staying away from the conference I think the bishop undermines his own authority,” says one. So in my neck of the woods this conference is hardly conducive to episcopal authority and church unity.

The main point about this conference is that it is determined not to make rules, or “resolutions”. It’s just a massive talking-shop. The idea is that bishops get to hear other points of view in small discussion groups modelled on the Zulu council meeting, the “indaba”. The experience is meant to make the bishops glad to belong to a common body, full of cultural diversity.

I arrived in Canterbury on Sunday, as the bishops’ retreat ended, and the conference proper began. There was a lot of episcopal idealism in the air, a lot of bullish upbeat rhetoric. A South African bishop told a press conference about the indabas of his native village. There was also an Australian bishop there: he didn’t tell us whether indabas resembled his native tradition of drinking tinnies round the barbie. At the risk of sounding un-PC, there is a serious point here: the Anglican communion does play the exotic-primitivist card quite strongly.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

Guess the reference and the date of this Quote

“The Church is not something made by men. It is the instrument of the living God for the setting-forward of His reign on earth . . . This is an hour of testing and peril for the Church, no less than for the world. But it is the hour of God’s call to the Church . . . For those who have eyes to see, there are signs that the tide of faith is beginning to come in.”

Said about what gathering of what Christian group when–guess first and then please read it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Notable & Quotable

Cherie Wetzel: Lambeth Report #7 Wednesday morning, June 23, 2008

I heard several different people report from the American provincial meeting held on Monday afternoon, that our bishops are finding it difficult to encounter so many disagreeable attitudes towards them. In short, they are wondering why they are disliked (some said ”˜hated’) so strongly by so many bishops from other provinces.

And folks, they “don’t get it.” They see their actions as fully in line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Bp. John Chane, who is getting a great deal of face time here, was in the today’s Lambeth Daily video report as a featured bishop on The Bishop and Social Justice, which is today’s theme. He said into the camera that he and all of the other bishops of the United States believe in Jesus. I have never heard him make any kind of statement of that nature before. I acknowledge that he didn’t say what they believe Jesus to be: Incarnate Son of the Living God, or just one of multiple ways? He followed that with Jesus is the American’s model for social justice, which is not a new statement for this group.

Their efforts to tell the others that there is nothing wrong with the American church and that we are not in turmoil and/or crisis is falling on deaf ears. So far, three bishops have approached me, asked if I was an American and asked me about what is really going on in our church. Several reporters from other countries have done the same.

Yesterday at the ad hoc press conference with Archbishop Deng Bul of the Sudan, the Episcopal News Service correspondent here asked if he had spoken with Gene Robinson. When he replied “No”, she asked if he would like to.

That’s when the archbishop replied, “We will not talk to Gene Robinson or listen to him or his testimony. He has to confess, receive forgiveness and leave. Then we will talk. You cannot bring the listening to gay people to our Communion. People who do not believe in the Bible are left out of our churches, not invited in to tell us why they don’t believe.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Notable and Quotable (I)

“We have a major crisis. A family that doesn’t face into the crisis it has is a family that is going to fall apart.”

–The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh from an interview which can be seen on video via this page

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Bishops

The Bishop of Southeast Florida offers some Lambeth Reflections

I think that what is very moving is the commitment of all the bishops, but especially those from Africa. The bishops of Sudan, especially, give a tremendous witness for our faith. Although they have been persecuted by the Muslim central government, they have resisted forced conversions. I met one of their bishops who is now living with his people in Northern Kenya, where they had to find refuge in order to avoid extermination. Please keep them in your prayers.

This afternoon we had our Provincial meetings, so we headed to the Big Top, which is the only place that could accommodate our numbers. Among the exciting things that we saw was a video from the Episcopal Youth Event meeting in San Antonio. The EYE is a one of the most joyful events of the Church, and it definitely would have been my preference to be with our young people in warm San Antonio rather than in this cold “summer?” weather.

One of the topics of the meeting was the absence of the bishop of New Hampshire from our gathering. I must say that we were very upset because due to security, Gene Robinson could not even meet with the rest of the bishops. Regardless of what position you may hold on this issue, as Americans we are used to more equality, and to have one of our duly elected bishops forbidden to meet with us is a travesty. This was a meeting of the bishops of The Episcopal Church, and it is sad that in the 21 Century we are still acting as if we were in the Middle Ages.

Later on we went back to the Indaba group and then to a reception sponsored by the Episcopal Church Foundation. It was good to eat non-cafeteria food, although it was only finger food from a hotel. Some of the bishops are staying in the hotels of Canterbury, as they were not very happy with sleeping in our small cells, separated from our spouses.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Bishops

Cardinal Ivan Dias's Full Speech to the Lambeth Conferece

This presentation would be incomplete if we did not touch on the ecumenical dimension in the thrust for evangelisation which animates both the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church. Someone has rightly said in a humorous vein: “If Christians do not hang together, they will hang separately”. It is obvious that a united effort would certainly strengthen the implementation of Christ’s mandate to preach the Gospel to every creature. We must gladly recall here the Agreed Statement on Growing Together in Unity and Mission published in 2007 by the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). The document thoroughly examines various aspects and prospects (worship, study, ministry and witness) for a common mission thrust. The more Anglicans and Catholics are able to study issues together and to discern an appropriate Gospel response, the stronger will be the impact of their mission endeavours. They could start with the points which unite the two Churches, and slowly strive to clarify their approaches and to perfect their attempts to harmonise their mission efforts.

Evangelisation is the unique prerogative of the Holy Spirit, who needs channels through which He may flow unhampered. This will be possible in the measure in which there is unity and cohesion between the members of the Church, between them and their shepherds, and, above all, between the shepherds themselves, both within the community as well as with the other Christian confessions. For, in the present ecumenical framework in which Providence has willed to engage the Churches, a unity which binds them together in the apostolic faith is intrinsic to the Church’s mission of speaking and spreading the Gospel. Hence, when they are of one mind and heart notwithstanding their diversity, their missionary thrust is indeed enhanced and strengthened. But, when the diversity degenerates into division, it becomes a counter-witness which seriously compromises their image and endeavours to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Much is spoken today of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. By analogy, their symptoms can, at times, be found even in our own Christian communities. For example, when we live myopically in the fleeting present, oblivious of our past heritage and apostolic traditions, we could well be suffering from spiritual Alzheimer’s. And when we behave in a disorderly manner, going whimsically our own way without any co-ordination with the head or the other members of our community, it could be ecclesial Parkinson’s.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Evangelism and Church Growth, Lambeth 2008, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

Charles Haynes: Marriage entanglements

Suddenly this summer, the reality of same-sex couples lining up to get married in California has led some religious leaders to rethink their government role.

In a letter last month, Bishop Marc Handley Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California directed his clergy to “encourage all couples, regardless of orientation, to follow the pattern of first being married in a secular service and then being blessed in the Episcopal Church.”

The bishop’s missive illustrates what a tangled web we have woven when clergy intone “by the power invested in me by the state.”

Because the Episcopal Church doesn’t sanction same-sex marriage ”” but gives the option of blessing the union ”” the bishop appears to be seeking a way to bless all couples while distancing the church from legal arrangements sanctioned by the state.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Times: Archbishop Williams confirms church's traditional stance on Marriage

The Archbishop of Canterbury has continued his quest for Anglican unity with a strong statement against living in sin and gay sex.

Dr Williams said: “I do not believe that sex outside marriage is as God purposes it.”

And he said he remained “committed” to the Church’s official stance against gay sex, which aims to preserve Biblical norms.

Dr Williams denied that the Anglican Communion was at an end and said he did not believe the Church of England had entered the Lambeth conference as “a bleeding, hunted animal with arrows in its side” as a result of the vote on women bishops which took place at the General Synod last month.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

ENS: Lambeth panel explores questions of Anglican identity, postcolonialism

A postcolonial conversation, a critique of colonialism involving patient listening and that includes everyone equally, is long overdue, yet most Anglicans tend to avoid the discussion, said the Rev. Joe Duggan, an Episcopal priest from the Diocese of Los Angeles and a doctoral researcher at the University of Manchester’s Lincoln Theological Institute (LTI).

LTI, along with the Journal of Anglican Studies, co-sponsored the panel discussion, “Anglican Identities and the Postcolonial,” a Lambeth Conference “fringe event” held at the University of Kent’s Darwin Hall. Featured speakers included: Robert Young, author and a professor of English and Comparative Literature at New York University; Bishop James Tengatenga of Southern Malawi; Bishop Mano Rumalshah of Pakistan; and Bishop Assistant Stephen Pickard of Adelaide in the Anglican Province of Australia.

Duggan said the panel discussion was planned for Monday, the day bishops would be addressing Anglican identity and mission. “We wanted to initiate a global conversation about what is the postcolonial in a way”¦not caught up in polarization with controversy in the debate, but a patient listening. Our hope is that you’ll take these questions back to your dioceses.

“There’s never been a Lambeth Conference that’s looked at what is the theology and ecclesiology after the colonial period,” Duggan told the gathering of about 75. “If you look at Anglican theologians around the world, the space given to colonialism is very brief and very short. So it’s not surprising we’re in the situation we are. We are trying to step back and provide resources”¦to begin asking the questions.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Identity, Church History, Lambeth 2008

Times: Bishops invited to sit under the Church’s ”˜shady tree’ and give tribal politics a go

Bishop Tilewa Johnson, from Gambia, said that his own villages used indaba, but called it bantaba, which means “under the big tree”.

“The fact that an attempt has been made to use the process is a good one. But of course it clashes with the culture here of everybody keeping an eye on the clock,” he said. “Indaba has no time limit. We keep going until a solution is found. Indaba takes place under a huge, shady tree where villagers assemble to talk about things. The aggrieved and the perpetrators must both be there to respond.”

Allison Lawrence, wife of the Bishop of South Carolina, Mark Lawrence, said: “They have taken a Zulu word and used it for an American concept. The African concept when you do an indaba is you talk, talk, talk until you agree. In these indaba groups, they talk a little and then someone changes the subject if they don’t like it. The Americans are feeling railroaded and manipulated. Even the Africans are saying, ”˜This is not indaba’.”

Bishops emerging from yesterday’s sessions described being divided into groups of about 40. As if there were not already enough divisions among Anglicans, they were divided up further into groups of four or five and given papers on subjects that the conference is addressing: mission, millennium goals, poverty ”“ the list is long. They talked and a rapporteur took notes, to be passed up to the next level. No one quite knew who or where that was.

Moreover, none of the bishops asked by The Times had yet been given a chance to discuss the one thing that they are all desperate to address: how can the Anglican Communion survive the consecration of Gene Robinson, the openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Church of Ireland Bishop warns of sense of uncertainty among Anglicans

THERE IS “a palpable sense of uncertainty about where it is all going” and “a lack of trust under the surface”, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Down and Dromore Right Rev Harold Miller said about the Lambeth Conference yesterday. He also warned that “if there is not a proper place for debate, then that will be exceptionally dangerous for the Anglican Communion”.

Acknowledging there had been just two days of the indaba discussions format, whereby the 670 bishops attending have been meeting in groups of 40, he said he felt one-line summations at the end of the discussions tended towards the bland. There was also uncertainty about being involved in something that would not involve the passing of a resolution, he said.

He welcomed as “brave” and “courageous” a statement from the Sudanese bishops yesterday that rejected homosexual practice as “contrary to biblical teaching and can accept no place for it within ECS (the Episcopal Church of Sudan)”.

They also called on the Anglican Church in the US and Canada to refrain from ordaining practising homosexuals as priests or bishops, from approving rites of blessing for same-sex relationships, to cease court actions with immediate effect, to comply with past Lambeth Conference resolutions, and “to respect the authority of the Bible”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, Lambeth 2008

(The Correct) Response of GAFCON to the St Andrew's Draft Text

1. A failure to address the issue

Any covenant document has to recognise fully the mischief it seeks to address. This document makes no mention of the crisis which has generated the call for such a remedy, which is a crisis of obedience to Scripture. Further, it fails to recognise that in the eyes of many the ”˜instruments of Communion’ (3.1.4) are themselves part of the problem. This means that trying to use such failed instruments as arbiters of a future solution is problematic in the extreme. Put bluntly, this covenant will not allow the real issues to be addressed.

2. An illegitimate notion of autonomy

The understanding of the individual Churches of the Communion throughout this document is fatally ambiguous. The language of autonomy in communion is introduced in 3.1.2., but there has been no justification produced for this concept in the preceding sections. More seriously this language is unqualified and so fails to distinguish between matters on which Scripture is silent (and where there may be legitimate liberty and indeed diversity) and matters on which Scripture has spoken definitively (and where autonomy is therefore a euphemism for sin). Our obedience to Scripture and our responsibility to each other must significantly qualify all talk of ”˜autonomy’ with reference to any congregation, diocese, province or, indeed, the Communion itself.

3. No biblical theology

The entire document, and particularly the statement concerning ”˜the inheritance of faith’ in paragraph 1, is detached from the Scriptural narrative of salvation and redemption from sin, which Churches in the Communion have seen realised. The principal concerns of Scripture are ignored as the document concentrates on matters which are dependent and consequential upon those concerns. The unity of Christians flows out of the redeeming work of Christ and the incorporative ministry of the Spirit. Any attempt to generate or sustain such unity on our own terms and by our own institutional efforts without reference to this prior and determinative reality must be judged sub-biblical.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates

GAFCON response to the St Andrew’s Covenant: correction and apology

Via Email:

The Global Anglican Future Conference Theological Resource Group (TRG) has published a response to the St Andrew’s Covenant. www.gafcon.org/index.php This has the authority of that group and is the substantive response from GAFCON.

There are two major concerns about the proposed covenant. First, what will it contain? Will it have sufficient commitment to the doctrinal and ethical commitments of the traditional Anglican formularies? Will it have sufficient material on the process of maintaining unity on essentials?

Secondly, the current St Andrew’s draft focuses the action away from the Primates to the Anglican Consultative Council. In every case except the Church of England, the Primates are the elected heads of their churches. The Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998 asked for enhanced responsibility to be given to the Primates on matters of contention. The St Andrew’s draft reverses this direction and gives responsibility to the ACC for approval of the final text of the covenant and as arbiter of inclusion in the Communion.

Thirdly, it should be noted that even though the Lambeth Conference is an instrument of communion, it has no decision-making role in finalizing the covenant. Rather it is the ACC that will be the final arbiter of what the covenant will contain.

Further, no bishop here has the authority to accept the covenant on behalf of anyone else: such decisions belong to the provinces, their synods and house of bishops.

The briefing paper that was posted on the GAFCON website, on which Dr Andrew Goddard focuses his major critique www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm, has now been removed. It was purely a resource paper provided for the TRG comparing the St Andrews Draft with earlier theological reflection. This reflection was incorrectly identified for which apologies are made for the confusion caused.

The response of the GAFCON Theological Resource Group is to the St Andrew’s Draft and the GAFCON Theological Resource group welcomes comments on the substance of their response to office [at] gafcon [dot] org.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates