Daily Archives: August 2, 2008

A Standfirm Interview with Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina

Many in the Episcopal Church have been living in anticipation of Lambeth 2008 since the summer of 2003. What do you think the effects of this Conference will be on the Communion level?

Before I came here I wrote a letter to the clergy and to the diocese saying I do not think that GAFCON or Lambeth would be a “Continental Divide” for the Communion. Think, for instance, of the rivers that flow through the mountains of North Carolina. Some flow into the Mississippi River and to the Gulf of Mexico and Some flow into the Savannah River and then into the Atlantic.

What we are involved in is like a drive across Nevada on US highway 50. It is called the “Loneliest Road in America”. You cross more mountain passes on that road than if you went across the entire United States from Oregon to Connecticut. None of the divides are continental and none of the waters that flow from there ever make it to the ocean.

So it is the wrong expectation. I did not expect Lambeth to deliver the answers. It would have been nice but I did not expect it.

I am not quite so sure about GAFCON. I am tempted to say that Lambeth has shed a lot of light on GAFCON and GAFCON has shed a lot of light on Lambeth.

Read it all.

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

Michael Poon–The Forgotten Third Voice: Generosity Rebuffed?

More seriously, this second Presidential Address showed a worrying misreading of the ground realities of the Communion. Together with many who come from churches outside the Anglo-American axis, I cannot identify myself with either side the Archbishop portrayed. It put me at a loss. What is the “generous initiative” am I supposed to take in the Communion? More poignantly, am I expected to take any generous initiative at all? Even more pointedly, has the Archbishop ”“ with his best intents ”“ completely ignored the realities outside the familiar Anglo-American perceptions? And so, the many generous acts of love from churches in the southern continents have been dismissed by the sense of “superiority and dependence” in the West, as Gregory Cameron has pointed out. This is to say, British academics and US financiers have the rest of the world all figured out and neatly configured from the vantage points of sanitised settings in the West.

For Canterbury does speak (unconsciously) from a centre: the centre of a domineering Western framework that has proved ineffective and burdensome to the rest of the Communion. The present crisis is not merely a clash of two opposing theological positions: liberal and conservative. The emerging voices from the South are stifled, misunderstood, and misrepresented by all sides in the West in the current debates. What has been expected of the rest of the world is often merely in conforming to set roles in screenplays that are scripted by (well-meaning!) westerners. What American and British Anglicans have often failed to appreciate is this: despite human folly and weakness, and often quite aside from institutional efforts, the Word of God has given birth to new spiritual movements in the wider world. God has kept for himself a people in the southern continents, that they may be able to save the Anglican Communion in the present dark hour (alluding to Rabbi Jonathan Sack’s exposition on Joseph in his plenary address to Lambeth).

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth 2008, The Anglican Church in South East Asia

Steve Waring (Living Church)–Delays at Lambeth 2008: An Analysis

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams made an eloquent case in his opening presidential address to the Lambeth Conference for embracing a new way of addressing the difficult issues that divide Anglicans, so it is disheartening to see with just two days left that this new procedure appears to be moving toward adopting more of the same failed policies from the past.

In Part Three of its preliminary observations, the Windsor Continuation Group recommended moratoria on same-sex blessings, the consecration of more partnered homosexual bishops and the cessation of cross-border interventions. It also proposed “the swift formation” of a “pastoral forum” to “engage theologically and practically with situations of controversy as they arise or divisive actions that may be taken around the Communion.”

It is difficult to imagine either those seeking to normalize homosexuality within the church or those seeking to minister to congregations and dioceses that feel marginalized by such innovations taking the pastoral forum any more seriously than they did the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference or the primates’ pastoral scheme. In addition, the Windsor Continuation Group recommends deferring a decision to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), which does not meet until next May. Undoubtedly a round of provincial consultations will follow.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

An Interview with the Bishop of Reading in England

Watch it all.

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

Kendall Harmon–Lambeth Questions (III)

Do Lambeth participants not see that there is a total contradiction between the WCG (Windsor Continuation group)’s and Rowan Williams’ sense of the size of the problem and the consequences if it is unaddressed on the one hand and the formation, status, and decisions of the Episcopal Forum being proposed on the other?

If Anglicans need to act “speedily” and if the present (quite serious) situation will get worse over time unless there are these multiple moratoria, then something needs to happen AT Lambeth 2008 itself to improve things. Not to decide is itself a decision.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

From the Email Box

We have one or two crucial sessions left and then we leave here with a landscape entirely redefined most likely without anything [really meaningful and clear] having been said.

–From a bishop participating in Lambeth not long ago

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

The Fourth Draft of the Lambeth Reflections Document is out

Section H: Human Sexuality

90. This section should have been titled “The Bishop and Homosexuality” because it was quickly apparent the whole spectrum of human sexuality, including issues of marriage and family, was not going to be discussed. The self select sessions identified with human sexuality included sessions on Human Sexuality and the Witness of Scripture, Listening and Mission, The Anglican Communion and Homosexuality, Listening in Practice, Sexuality and Spirituality, Questions of Science, Culture and Christ, Culture and Homosexualities, Listening to the Experience of Homosexual People.

91. The third meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in 1976 spoke about the Communion in this way: “As in the first century, we can expect the Holy Spirit to press us to listen to each other, to state new insights frankly, and to accept implications of the Gospel new to us, whether painful or exhilarating. (ACC-3 p.55)” Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10, while reiterating clearly the traditional stance of the Church, also called for sensitive listening. The Bible study and indaba groups gave us the opportunity to meet in a spirit of generosity and prayerful humility which helped us to listen patiently to each other and to speak honestly.

92. Christians are called to exercise judgement and discernment in their vocation and discipleship, but to embrace that discipleship with humility and with generosity. The Lord himself warned us to avoid judgementalism22. It is important therefore to be careful not to make dismissive judgements, because people have come to their decision after prayer and careful study of the Bible. Nor is there a monopoly on Christian charity: those who take different positions regarding this issue have often been the bearers of compassionate pastoral care to homosexual persons, though we must confess some failure in this regard. We come from different backgrounds, contexts and experiences. As Bishops we need to repent of the ways in which our hardness of heart toward each other may have contributed to the brokenness of our Communion at this present time. We need to repent of statements and actions that have further damaged the dignity of homosexual persons. People who have held traditional views on this matter have sometimes felt that they have been dismissed with ridicule or contempt.

93. There were repeated statements of the desire to remain in communion while attempting to maintain a generous space for ongoing discussions. Although there has been a great appreciation of one to one conversations, there is the need to develop further trust in the relationships that have started here. In this regard, in some groups, in addition to previous expressions of regret by both the House of Bishops and the General Convention of The Episcopal Church23, some individual bishops of The Episcopal Church have expressed apologies in their groups, noting that they had not previously grasped the depth of the negative impact that their action in the consecration of the present Bishop of New Hampshire had caused in many parts of the Communion.

94. There were several references to the Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10, although it was clear that only one section was being referenced and not the whole report on Human Sexuality from the 1998 Lambeth Conference or the whole resolution.

95. There is confusion about what “the issue” really means. There are three aspects that would help to clarify discussions:
-How the church evangelizes, disciples and provides pastoral care for homosexual people;
-How and on what basis the church admits people to Sacred Orders;How the church deals with the first two locally and globally.

96. The whole issue of homosexual relations is highly sensitive because there are very strong affirmations and denials in different cultures across the world which are reflected in contrasting civil provisions, ranging from legal provision for same-sex marriage to criminal action against homosexuals. In some parts of the Communion, homosexual relations are a taboo while in others they have become a human rights issue.

97. Some people said that their understanding of the long tradition of Christian moral teaching is now being questioned and this creates confusion when a clear presentation of how people have come to their new understanding of scripture and theology is not available to them. For some, such new teaching cannot be acceptable as they consider all homosexual activity as irredeemably sinful.

98. In the framework of The Bishop in Mission, it is agreed that the ordination of a partnered homosexual Bishop has compromised mission in many parts of the Communion and has had a profoundly disruptive effect on the Communion by detracting from other aspects of mission. There is anxiety that this will not turn out to be a single act but something that is likely to happen again and further compromise mission.

99. For some, the way the Communion has been perceived to handle polygamy has complicated the issue. Polygamy has been part of the history and of the present of some provinces of the Communion. It is unacceptable in other parts of the Communion. The perception has been that the Communion did not tell those Provinces that they must withdraw from the Communion. The Communion made a space for them to deal with this issue at their local level. This they are doing, setting clear standards while providing pastoral attention. The question from some is, why can we not make the same space in regard to homosexuality? In the case of polygamy, there is a universal standard ”“ it is understood to be a sin, but local pastoral provision is made: polygamists are not admitted to positions of leadership, nor after acceptance of the Gospel can a convert take another wife, nor, in some areas, are they admitted to Holy Communion.

100. There have been many aspects of the history of this current situation that has brought us to this point in time. To some, the possible acceptance of homosexual people as good Christian people is new, and their acceptance as possible leaders in the church is unacceptable. To others, thirty years of Scripture study, of theological discussion, of listening and discussion to come to the present understanding, seems a long time. In the time frame of Christianity, or even of the Anglican tradition, it has not been enough time to allow for the Bishops of the Communion to come to a new consensus within Provinces or worldwide ”“ either to agree, or to live together in disagreement.

101. The issue of homosexuality has challenged us and our Churches on what it might mean to be a Communion. We are still learning how to be the Communion that God has called and gifted us to be.

102. For many Anglicans, the ordination of an openly homosexual bishop, is seen as questioning the authority of Scripture and the church’s traditional reading on these matters. It calls into question traditional moral teaching concerning the nature of marriage. The question for many is “Whether the Bible transforms the culture or the culture is allowed to transform the Bible”.

103. The ordination of an openly partnered homosexual bishop and the open blessing of same sex relationships has had many negative results including:
􀂃 Partnership in mission is lost and damaged.
– In some provinces, there is an experience of betrayal of the teaching of the missionaries who brought the faith, and it is experienced as a new form of colonisation
-Confidence in the validity of the Anglican Communion, the bonds of affection and our mutual interdependence is severely damaged
-It is dishonouring to former Lambeth Conference decisions.
-It diverts us from our primary focus
-It is seen as leading to “sexual license”
-It damages ecumenical and interfaith relationships.
-Bishops cannot be a symbol of unity when their consecration itself divides the church. The unique focus for catholicity in the Communion is lost.
-In some regions the issue has become a test of orthodoxy and a basis for hostile actions
– In some places the church is ridiculed as the “gay church”, so membership is lost.

104. There have also been positive effects in parts of Canada, the US and England when homosexual people are accepted as God’s children, are treated with dignity and choose to give their lives to Christ and to live in the community of faith as disciples of Jesus Christ with fidelity and commitment.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

Saturday Afternoon Press Conference: We do not need more talk

Kwong: Good afternoon. This is my first Lambeth and I confess I did not go to indaba this morning. I had something else to do but I want to give you my impression of the conference which has taken place and this is a great privileged to be a part of this conference and like any other conference there are good and bad things.

For this conference I found most things here are very good in particular the worship in the morning and the bible studies where we have a chance to reflect and share our views about the conference and the communion difficulties in relations to the bible.

One thing I found disappointing is that we have spent a lot of time sharing and listening but I wish we could have more time to talk about actions and what might happen from here with regard to the issues that are causing division. We have been beating about the bush and “talking” about the issues facing the communion for a long time. It is time to deal with it.

From Hong Kong in particular we want to see that all parties concerned would have a chance to sit down and work around something concrete to resolve the issues. We want somebody or a team with some diplomatic skills to invite all of the parties and look at the issues. We in Hong Kong respect what people are taking about and doing.

But all these people are saying, everyone is saying, that what they have done is correct in their context. Now we are asking all of these people to stop defending what they do or accusing others. Come instead together and say what sacrifice and concessions can you make for the sake of the integrity of the communion; for the sake of the integrity of the church. I was hoping this conference to ask us for a forward in that way.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

Religion and Ethics Weekly Interviews Gene Robinson of New Hampshire

Q: How do you characterize where this process is moving? Is it moving at all or is it a stalemate?

A: I think it depends on what your expectations are. There are people who want this all tied up into a neat and tidy little package as of yesterday, and there are other people who feel that the longer we take doing this the better off we’ll be, because there will just be that much more time for people to converse with one another, understand where each other is coming from, and so on, so it probably depends on who you ask. I personally don’t think this Communion is broken, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and there are all kinds of people trying to fix this. So as a person in the American church, I think we’re doing what is best in the Anglican tradition. We have always been a church that said you figure out what is appropriate for your local context, and you figure out what God is telling you to do there and do it. So the American church did that with my election and consenting with my election, and now people are suddenly saying, oh no, we didn’t really mean that at all, and we have to, we have to bring about more order. Well, you know, this is a church that was founded resisting such a centralized bureaucracy in Rome, so how odd for people who call themselves traditionalists to be trying to take us to a place that has never been our tradition, to be some kind of centralized authority that rules on whether or not something is too far out of step or whatever. So to those of us who don’t think it’s broken, it’s taken a long time [and] that’s just fine. But my fear is that there are people who are working to bring this to a close, a point of departure, I don’t know how you describe it, but someplace that will make everybody choose.

Q: What’s at risk with this meeting?

A: The reason I’m so committed to the Anglican Communion is, especially as an American and an American Christian, there are things I need to hear from people in the developing world, like the ramifications of our racism, our colonialism, American hegemony in terms of our military prowess, of economic clout, and so on, and I think we have done some pretty terrible things in the world, and if we don’t have brothers and sisters in Christ in the developing world who can tell us what will not be comfortable to hear, but speak the truth in love, as we’re commanded to do, I don’t know who’s going to tell us those things, and so I think we need each other, and the Communion, as it has been, is this quite loose confederation of churches, each doing ministry in its own context but, through a variety of ways, talking to each other. If we lose that we’ve lost a great opportunity, so I would really lament that. I don’t think it is worth completely giving up who we are, either as the American church or giving up our 500 years of tradition as an Anglican Communion, and changing ourselves radically to preserve it.

Read it all.

I will consider posting comments on this article submitted first by email to Kendall’s E-mail: KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates

Religion and Ethics Weekly Interviews Eugene Sutton of Maryland

Q: Have you been hearing from your fellow bishops from other parts of the world that they are still troubled by what the US has done?

A: Oh, yes. I’ve asked some of the bishops in countries where Christians are a persecuted minority, and I’ve asked them, have the actions of the Episcopal Church in 2003 caused problems for you and your people? One bishop said to me, “Of course, my brother, it’s caused tremendous problems.” They are persecuted every day by a Muslim majority. But he said to me, “I’m not asking you to make my life easier. I just want you to know what it has done here.” He is willing to bear the cross. If standing up for the least in his society, the voiceless who are people of homosexual orientation, if that is the price he must pay, he is willing to bear that cross. But he wants you to know that it’s a cross for him in a way that Americans do not have to bear.

Q: Americans have been the subject of quite a bit of discussion, and some of the proposals are pretty restrictive. Obviously, they are still proposals, but do you sense a movement toward some more punitive measures coming out of Lambeth?

A: There is some movement. Some want to use the language of judgment and of punitive actions and of bans. But there is something about banning people, banning actions of people who believe they are led by the Holy Spirit, there’s something about that that is very difficult for other Christians to do. I don’t believe there will be any bans coming out of this Lambeth Conference. Why? Because we’ve prayed together, we’ve studied the Scriptures together. We’ve argued together forcefully. How then can you ban your brother or your sister because they disagree with you on some fundamental things about ethics and morality? But Jesus, in one of his great parables, when he’s talking about who is to enter the kingdom of heaven, those who are entering the kingdom of heaven are entering not because of anything around sexual ethics or what they believe about women or views about interpretation of Scripture. Jesus said those who enter the kingdom are those who have fed hungry people. They are housing those who have no home. They are visiting people in prison and in hospitals. They are giving a cup of water to those who are thirsty. When we get back to these issues, I think it would be a wonderful thing if, when people think of the Anglican Communion, they think of oh, how they love each other and how they are feeding a hungry world, not oh, those are the ones who are bickering about sex.

Read it all.

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

Religion and Ethics Weekly Interviews Massachusetts Bishop Tom Shaw

Q: What kinds of things are you hearing? What are some of those tough issues that are really causing tensions?

A: Well, I think the toughest issue is human sexuality and I think that that’s — there are lots of other issues that are around that issue, but that’s the one that seems to be the hot point for everybody.

Q: And what are you hearing from your fellow bishops on that issue?

A: Well, you hear the whole spectrum, from people that basically agree with the role that the American church has taken in examining this issue, and people that disagree with us but still want to work together in mission and still want to be in Communion, and then there are those parts of the Communion who feel that the Episcopal Church has gone too far, and they want us to leave the Communion or be part of it in a different way.

Q: How is that working out in the dialogue? Is it frustrating relationships?

A: Well, for me whenever we move into that place where we’re talking about the juridical aspects of this, it makes me think that we’re not going to move forward as a Communion and that we’re not going to be able to be patient with one another, we’re not listening to one another and really taking an issue that’s a huge issue, that represents a whole lot of other issues, and try and talk them through.

Q: It does seem like there’s almost a stalemate. Do you see any forward motion, or does it feel like the same arguments over and over again?

A: Well, it depends on the day you talk to me. On some days I’ve had really significant conversations with individual bishops and groups, and I get a sense that we really are listening to one another and trying to find a path forward, and then on other days it doesn’t seem like really talking to one another, and it’s hard for me to see how we can go forward.

Read it all.

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

Lambeth 2008: A Conversation with Archbishop Gregory Venables

Watch it all from Anglican TV.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], Lambeth 2008

Religion and Ethics Weekly Interviews Bishop Lawrence of South Carolina

Q: Have you picked up on a lot of concerns from people here about things going on in the Episcopal Church?

A: I find that when I apologize for what we’ve done, in the midst of the conversation they say thank you, I’m glad to hear that that’s how you feel. William Temple, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, said that the church needs to be very clear in its public pronouncements so it can be very pastoral in its application. What the Episcopal Church did in 2003 is it made a public pronouncement by action, and that action was contrary, or in contradiction to the teaching of the church, and so what we have is a public pronouncement and an official teaching that [are] incoherent with one another, and that creates, then, a very awkward situation in which what we teach and what we’ve done are at odds with one another, and there is a profound unclarity on a public level, which means on a local level every individual priest, every individual bishop has to take a stand, and once you’ve taken a stand then it’s difficult to be in a pastoral relationship with those who feel like you’ve just abandoned them or taken a position that alienates them from where they are. And so it’s just the opposite of what the archbishop said years ago, that the church needs to be very clear in its public pronouncement so it can be very pastoral in its application. We’ve turned the axiom on its end.

Q: A group here within the church has recommended that the moratorium continues and be enforced against a blessing for same-sex relationships, against gay bishops, against the cross-jurisdictional relationships. What is your reaction to these recommendations?

A: Well, I’d say this: that the Anglican Communion is in a process of trying to understand how we live in a global age. ”¦ Some of us have come to the conclusion we need some kind of covenant by which we can say this is who we are, this is how we shall live together, this is how we should treat one another. There are limits to Anglican diversity, and these are now what they are.

Q: Is that a good idea?

A: It’s a wonderful idea, because this Communion is too important in an age of globalism, in a global church, not to be able to live together with respect, with trust, and with cooperation.

Read it all.

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

A Religion and Ethics Weekly report on Lambeth 2008

[KIM] LAWTON: There was also intense debate about changing some of the ways the Communion operates. Some bishops are pushing for a broad statement of agreement that would help define who Anglicans are.

Bishop [MARK] LAWRENCE: There is a limit as to what diversity can allow for in the midst of a family, a community that has to trust one another.

LAWTON: Many bishops are increasingly frustrated by the seeming stalemate, and not surprisingly, there are differing opinions about whether schism can ultimately be avoided.

Bishop [PETER] BECKWITH: If we don’t change is that Communion going to continue? That remains to be seen, but I would say it’s very questionable.

Bishop TOM SHAW (Diocese of Massachusetts): On some days I have really significant conversations with individual bishops and in groups, and I get a sense that we really are listening to one another and trying to find a path forward. And then on other days it doesn’t seem like we’re really talking to one another and it’s hard for me to see how we’ll be able to go forward.

Bishop [MARC] ANDRUS: There will be a Communion. It may look different than the Communion we have today. I think most of the people here will stick with each other.

LAWTON: Organizers hope this Lambeth Conference has helped the bishops build the relationships needed to hold the Communion together. Many here say they will also need some divine intervention to make that happen.

Watch or read it all.

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

Notable and Quotable (I)

What might be wrong with our polity? It looks to me as though the Episcopal Church (on both “sides”) tends to regard bishops as though they were state governors ”” “our elected officials.” That neglects the two aspects of a bishop’s vocation that look most important to me: the bishop’s role as a teacher, and the bishop’s role as the point where the local church (the diocese) interacts with the church catholic. On that basis, churches in Iran really do have a stake in whom the Diocese of Chicago elects as bishop; a bishop who can’t function as a liaison (either because the world refuses them, or their home diocese does) can’t fulfill a constitutive aspect of the bishop’s role. The Episcopal Church tacitly recognizes this through its assent process, and (ironically) just exercised the prerogative to not accept a bishop’s election on the grounds that not enough dioceses felt they could rely on that candidate to remain within the Episcopal Church [a reference to the first election in South Carolina of Mark Lawrence]. Though we do not ask every diocese around the globe to consent to each episcopal election, the principle is the same: A bishop belongs both to the diocese and to the church catholic, and both need to accept the bishop in order to maintain sound polity.

So when the House of Bishops asserts that “the meaning of the Preamble to the Constitution of The Episcopal Church is determined solely by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church,” or that we have no intention of leaving the Anglican Communion but that our polity does not permit arrangements such as the Primates requested, they’re begging the question. It’s the polity itself that has come into focus as the problem. The Primates want a polity in which our bishops stand more fully accountable to the world church, because (on this interpretation) that’s part of their job description; and the Episcopal Church says, “You can’t exclude us because that’s not the way we do things.” The US position looks an awful lot like an assimilation of ecclesiastical roles to local civic models: the U.S. bishops should lobby on behalf of the citizens they represent to bring home favorable policies (and if the governors of Utah and Mississippi, even the President of the U.S., don’t like the governor of Iowa, it’s tough luck because the Iowans voted for her). That’s not my understanding of how the members of the Body of Christ work together to build up and strengthen the whole.


Posted in Uncategorized