Daily Archives: July 27, 2008

Lambeth spouses tell stories of ”˜hardship and hope’

The host of the Spouses’ Conference, Jane Williams, wife of the Archbishop of Canterbury, says the spouses are ”˜looking at some of the most urgent issues facing us as human beings made in God’s image.’

And, as the conference approaches its final week, she spoke about the stories the spouses have been telling: ”˜I feel as though I can hardly bare for it [the conference] ever to end because there are 550 of us and obviously the proportion of stories I have heard is still quite small of all of those people. And every single one has the most extraordinary story to tell.

”˜We have heard some stories of amazing hardship, fantastic hope, often the two together – hardship and hope.

”˜I spent a little while yesterday talking to the bishops’ wives from the Congo and as you know, Congo has been through a long period of war and civil unrest. And the kind of rebuilding work that all of those women are involved in within their dioceses is just so uplifting; to hear what they are doing on hardly any resources and they are doing simply out of love of God and love of the people God has given to them.’

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

A Look Back to Lambeth 1968

Faith and Ministry. The overall theme of the month-long meeting is “The Renewal of the Church,” with particular reference to faith, ministry and church union. Subordinate topics for consideration range widely, from the proper relationship between Christianity and secularism to such purely ecclesiastical issues as Prayer Book reform. There is ample opportunity for bishops to raise new issues. Last week, for example, Archbishop Donald Coggan of York formally proposed that women be admitted to the priesthood””an idea that was shouted down by his peers.

This year’s conference has streamlined some of the more somnolent procedures of the past. Instead of doing all their business in plenary sessions, the bishops have been assigned to 33 subcommittees, which are responsible for drafting resolutions prior to debate. They have also adopted an innovation of the Second Vatican Council: 25 theological experts are available for consultation by the bishops.

Resolutions of the Lambeth Conference are not binding on the 19 member churches, but they are intended to express the consensus of the Communion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates

History of the Lambeth Conference

Some nice background.

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

Mouneer Anis, Primate of the Middle East: Prayer needed for spiritual battle at Lambeth

On Tuesday 22 July, approximately 200 bishops and several primates gathered to discuss issues which concern the Global South, especially that of the faithful Anglicans in the United States. Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh spoke, along with Bishop Michael Scott-Joynt of Winchester and Bishop N.T. Wright of Durham. We had a wonderful time with the bishops from Africa, Asia, Latin America, UK, Australia, New Zealand and USA. We were all encouraged and ended the meeting by singing “He is Lord.”

Our daily Bible study time in small groups have included good opportunities to meet and share our thoughts, bringing tough issues to the surface and talking about them. I was encouraged by several American Bishops who thanked me for my words to the TEC House of Bishops in New Orleans. One of them said “we needed to hear your words because our knowledge of the communion is limited.” I do not believe that The Episcopal Church is going to change its direction. It is not all about sexuality but about biblical interpretation, Ecclesiology and Christology. This reminds me with the position of US administration before and during the war in Iraq. They refused to listen to millions of voices that cried against the war. The North American churches believe that the truth was revealed to them and that the other churches in the Communion need to follow them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Lambeth 2008, Middle East

An AFP article on Nigerian Anglicans

bout a quarter of the bishops in the worldwide Anglican Communion — including most from Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda — are consequently boycotting the once-a-decade meeting this summer in Canterbury.

And the Nigerian church, which accounts for 17 million of the 77 million Anglicans worldwide, is leading the opposition to the communion’s leader, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

“The issue is not that of gay alone. The crux of it is the revisionist agenda, which is that some people are out to rewrite the Bible,” Archbishop of Lagos Adebola Ademowo said Saturday.

“The authority of the Scriptures cannot be challenged. Old time religion is good enough for us.”

Speaking specifically about Williams, the 60-year-old said: “That man, I don’t know what’s wrong — he should be able to say ‘this is the Bible standard’ and come out and defend it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Sermon from this Morning

Last week, at one of the morning services at the Conference, one of our African bishops spoke powerfully about how Jesus himself is the gift, even before he does anything, heals or feeds anyone, and, he said, we have to ask, ‘What if the Church itself is the gift, the sign of something new and life giving, even before it solves any problems, brings peace or prosperity or education or medicine?’

It’s a very good question. And if we want to answer that, yes, the Church itself really is the gift, then the Church has to look like a gift. It has to look like a solace where people don’t seem to be alone or trapped, anxious and fearful: a place where people seem to live in a larger more joyous and hopeful atmosphere, and where they are treasured and nourished as precious images of GOD.

Churches that are divided and fearful and inward-looking don’t easily give that message; and our Anglican family badly needs to find some ways of resolving its internal tensions that will set it free to be more confidently what GOD wants it to be. Part of our agenda at this Conference is to do with this. But our willingness to work at it constructively has a lot to do with hearing good news from our own members ”“ the sort of good news we’ve heard something of this morning.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth 2008, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

BBC: Anglicans 'must resolve tensions'

The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of the need to resolve “internal tensions” within the Anglican Church.

In a sermon in Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams suggested rows over gay clergy and women bishops hampered the global Anglican Communion’s mission.

It comes during the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, which some are boycotting over the gay clergy issue.

Archbishop Gregory Venables, from South America, said there was “frustration” that sexuality had yet to be discussed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth 2008

Notable and Quotable (I)

Stephen Crittenden: Nonetheless isn’t it important now how the Episcopal church behaves, particularly in relation to the Archbishop of Canterbury. I mean if the American church is going to go on ordaining more gay bishops, or blessing same-sex unions in California, it’s just going to make Rowan Williams’ task of holding the global communion together more and more impossible.

Jim Naughton: I’m not sure. I mean I think one of the things that GAFCON has done is demonstrate that whatever concessions you make to these folks, they will want more. I mean the notion that we all need to go back to the 1662 Prayer Book and the 39 Articles of Religion from Elizabethan times is kind of whacky, yet that’s at the core of their movement. So we can’t give up enough to please them, and yet retain any kind of identity. Another point that we need to make is that every church in the Anglican communion has its own identity, and its own domestic situation. The Episcopal church would fall apart if it suddenly decided, ‘Oh, you know what? We really don’t mean anything that we said about the full inclusion of gays and lesbians’, it would be institutional suicide. I mean it would be a tremendous betrayal of our own consciences, but it would also be institutional suicide.

Jim Naughton, making clear that “inclusion” means affirmation of public immorality and that the Episcopal Church will instransigently embrace such theology and practice even if it costs the Anglican Common its common life in the process.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Statement to the Windsor Continuation Group from the Bishop of Iowa

Like many people, I have had to pray and work my way through to be able to be a pastor accessible to gay and lesbian Christians. I have counseled in relationships, buried church members and their friends, been present during long illnesses with families and friends. And I have learned Christ in them, and cannot deny Christ’s full blessing upon them. Please don’t make us choose which “us” we must be in communion with.

Finally, as far as the reference in Part One Observations regarding creedal errors, under the section on “Turmoil in the Episcopal Church”, I want to state as a bishop in the Episcopal Church in the USA that I firmly believe in the Virgin Birth, the physical resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is my Savior and that I am saved only by the Grace of God as shown through the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ who forgives my sins, and that I believe Jesus to be the Way, the Truth and the Life. Thank you for your attention and this opportunity.

Read it all. Once again, it needs to be stated in the strongest possible terms that ministering among gay and lesbian people, and enabling the church to be accessible to such people, which is a good thing, is NOT the issue. Rowan Williams hit the nail on the head when he said:

Unless you think that social and legal considerations should be allowed to resolve religious disputes ”“ which is a highly risky assumption if you also believe in real freedom of opinion in a diverse society ”“ there has to be a recognition that religious bodies have to deal with the question in their own terms. Arguments have to be drawn up on the common basis of Bible and historic teaching. And, to make clear something that can get very much obscured in the rhetoric about ”˜inclusion’, this is not and should never be a question about the contribution of gay and lesbian people as such to the Church of God and its ministry, about the dignity and value of gay and lesbian people. Instead it is a question, agonisingly difficult for many, as to what kinds of behaviour a Church that seeks to be loyal to the Bible can bless, and what kinds of behaviour it must warn against ”“ and so it is a question about how we make decisions corporately with other Christians, looking together for the mind of Christ as we share the study of the Scriptures.

The question to Bishop Scarfe is by making the church accessible do you mean publically affirming in leadership behavior which Christians have always considered out of bounds? Which the Anglican Communion has said is not something which the Bible permits? Which the Church East and West has not understood the Scriptures to allow but calls them to forbid? Which even the Episcopal Church has never officially endorsed? In other words for too many Episcopal Church leaders inclusion, alas, has become a code word for inclusion of public immorality in Christian leadership which the Episcopal Church unilaterally and incoherently is making part of the common witness of Anglicans throughout the world, overturning the doctrine of marriage in the process. If that is what is meant then the theological argument has not been made for it, and the global church has not been convinced but has consistently rejected it–KSH.

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

Bishop Gregory Kerr-Wilson offers some Lambeth Thoughts

The topic for Friday, Day 4 was “Serving Together: The Bishop and Other Churches. The Eucharist was led by the Church of North India and the Church of Bangladesh.

The Bible Study covered John 8:31-59, which includes disputes between Jesus and the Jewish authorities of the day – in the midst of which occurs the startling statement by Jesus that “before Abraham was, I am.” Interestingly, John tells us that this conversation is with some who “had believed in him”. We were challenged to re-hear the story as followers who have believed, and to consider the ways in which Jesus’ hard words might be spoken to us.

The Indaba groups discussed the main topic, which was essentially around the bishop’s role in ecumenical relationships. We had some good solid discussions about the foundations of Christian “koinonia” in our group, focusing on the Apostolic Witness as recorded in Scripture – particularly Ephesians 4:1-6. There was some interesting variation from different perspectives, but a very large amount of agreement in most of it.

Later in the afternoon, I attended a “self-select” group in which Abp Rowan, Kallistos Ware and some other ecumenical representatives (including RC) discussed the Windsor report and its ecclesiology (its theological understanding of the nature of the Church). A very helpful bit that came out was the observation that koinonia (fellowship or communion) is a mystery, and a gift of God which is a reality already given and undergirding our efforts to mend the broken relationships that exist between Christian Church bodies.

Read it all.

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

Bishop Tom Wright: Mid-Lambeth Conference Letter to the Diocese of Durham

Second, there is a sense that the Conference has done all its preliminary work, has got to know one another, and is now ready for the final seven days, beginning on Monday (tomorrow, Sunday, is more or less a rest day and that’s how I intend to spend it). The tricky thing now is that there are several different processes going on simultaneously which are designed to come together into some kind of ”˜reflection’, or even ”˜statement’, but nobody (except perhaps the planning group?) has a clear idea of how precisely this will happen. There are several sessions labelled ”˜conference reflection’ as the week develops, and these will presumably be used as plenaries to discuss the major issues that are coming up. +Rowan said, when he invited us all fourteen months ago, that the point of the Conference was to take forward the work of the Windsor Report on the one hand and the Covenant proposals, which nest within Windsor, on the other. We are having ”˜hearings’ and other sessions on aspects of these, which should then eventually dovetail with the ”˜Indaba’ group processes (they report to a central secretariat which will try to pull their insights together). I spoke at a ”˜self-select group’ yesterday on the Windsor/Covenant theme and was subjected to a barrage of anxious and fearful American comments, including two who were objecting that the Covenant seemed to be ”˜anxious and fearful’. That’s the sort of double-edged conversation you tend to have from time to time . . . There is another ”˜hearing’ on Monday to take forward the Windsor process, and we are waiting for that quite eagerly to see what the group who have been working on it will come up with. It’s all supposed to come together towards the end of the week, and this is where, please, you will focus your prayers, that we may be given wisdom faithfully to discern God’s will and the leading of the Spirit, and how our commitment to live together under scripture (which we embody daily in the Bible Studies) will translate into actual policies and healing and life for our beloved Communion.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Lambeth 2008

Looking Back in Time: The Bishops at Lambeth

First topic on their agenda: THE HOLY BIBLE, ITS AUTHORITY AND MESSAGE. So far has the pendulum swung from literalist respect for the authority of the Bible, the bishops feel, that even some professing Christians are tending to look upon it as a collection of fairy stories. To combat this tendency, the bishops hope to educate the public to interpret Biblical statements and events in terms of the thought forms of the people who wrote the Scripture down. Said one bishop: “The Bible mustn’t be thought of as the Koran is thought of. It hasn’t got the personal authority of the word of Mohammed behind it, but its every word is illuminated by the Holy Spirit. This idea we must get across once again, and if we can, people may understand that the Bible can help them deal with many of today’s problems by guiding them in the way the problems should be approached.”

Ok, before you click please guess (a) what year it was and (b) how many bishops were there. Then read it all.

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

Ruth Gledhill–Lambeth Diary: The 'Fifth Instrument'

The feel of the conference at the moment is that it is turning around. I am sure it is something to do with the weather being so lovely, but bishops have started being nice to each other. The indaba process is beginning to work properly. Some extraordinary theological reflections are coming out of them which will be published in full later this year. That will be the important document that comes out of the conference.

Read it all and do please watch the video.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

Notable and Quotable

Dr. [Ephraim] Radner, who accepted the premise that the covenant itself was not intended to resolve the current difficulties with TEC, nonetheless considered that a resolution of those difficulties needed to be reached before a covenant could usefully be entered into. (I don’t think he meant a resolution by inaction and putting the matter aside. See his letter of July 13.) It seems possible at least to envision a solution involving a combination of a covenant involving substantial improvements to the St. Andrew’s draft (without scrapping it altogether) and a contemporaneous disciplining of TEC that would be illustrative as to future application. Without at least that, it is hard to see the value of proceeding with a covenant.

Mike Watson on the very important thread on this blog below, all of which deserves careful perusal

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Telegraph: Homosexual bishops face Anglican Church ban

The proposal to ban future consecrations is the most significant move yet over the issue.

The paper, which was commissioned by Dr Rowan Williams, will be debated by 650 bishops tomorrow at the Lambeth conference in Canterbury, the once-a-decade gathering of the Anglican Communion.

It is set to start the first real clash of the conference, with liberal bishops expected to fight any attempt to restrict their autonomy.

However, Dr Williams is determined to impose tighter governance of the Anglican Communion to try and hold it together.

The paper, “How do we get from here to there?”, stresses that it is vital that an Anglican Covenant be agreed so that churches around the world are mutually accountable and united by a common set of beliefs. This must happen as soon as possible, it says, to prevent further haemorrhaging of the Anglican Communion over the issue of homosexual clergy.

Until a consensus is reached, the American and Canadian churches must refrain from consecrating more homosexual bishops and carrying out blessing services for same-sex couples, the paper says.

Read it all.

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