Daily Archives: August 7, 2008

The Economist: The high price of togetherness

BY ITS own unusual lights, the Lambeth conference of Anglican bishops was a great success. Its self-imposed task was to avoid any nasty rows between 650 purple-clad gentlemen (and a few purple-clad ladies) who hold widely diverging views on issues which they see as matters of principle, not detail. And a “surprising level of sheer willingness to stay together” was finally reported, on August 3rd, by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury””after nearly three weeks of well-choreographed confraternity in which participants took no votes and made no firm decisions. (Such a luxury would hardly be possible for a body like, say, the International Telecommunication Union, where success is judged by earthly yardsticks.)

Still, the Anglican leader’s own standing as a mediator, doing his best to hold together the almost irreconcilable, rose as a result of the gathering. And in a very Anglican way, the thorny issues facing the church were artfully concealed by euphemism and arcane procedures that will unfold over several years. Minds were distracted from trickier subjects by a hyper-inclusive march against poverty.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

Lambeth Conference: An Anglican Communion Institute Perspective

2. The call from the Archbishop of Canterbury for a Primates Meeting in 2009. This will determine where the wider communion is and how broadly support for the Instruments remains. We hope all Primates will be present and that the work of the Communion will continue in these challenging days. If there is to be a Faith and Order committee of some description, as suggested, the input of the Primates into this important initiative is critical.
3. The endorsement from the Archbishop of Canterbury of the Covenant Process, Lambeth 1.10, Communion Partners, and a Pastoral Forum. In several public statements he clarified considerably his own view on the teaching of the church in the area of human sexuality, and was clearer about the consequence of pressing forward with departures from that teaching. In our view, this indicates a realism about the probability of Bishops and Dioceses moving forward with same-sex blessings in a more concerted manner. Already we are seeing news reports to that effect.
4. We welcome the call for moratoria and the timing of these, as this places the matter firmly before the Communion as a totality.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Lambeth 2008

President Bush condemns China human rights record on eve of Olympics

President Bush has issued a blunt condemnation of Beijing’s repression of its people on the eve of the Olympics, just as three American Christians were arrested for protesting for religious freedom in Tiananmen Square.

With the eyes of the world on China and heads of state from around the globe flying in for the opening ceremony tomorrow, Mr Bush used some of his toughest language yet to press China to improve its record on human rights.

Speaking in Bangkok, he said: “America stands in firm opposition to China’s detention of political dissidents and human rights advocates and religious activists. We press for openness and justice ”“ not to impose our beliefs but to allow the Chinese people to express theirs.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Politics in General

CNN: Why many Americans prefer their Sundays segregated

The Rev. Paul Earl Sheppard had recently become the senior pastor of a suburban church in California when a group of parishioners came to him with a disturbing personal question.

They were worried because the racial makeup of their small church was changing. They warned Sheppard that the church’s newest members would try to seize control because members of their race were inherently aggressive. What was he was going to do if more of “them” tried to join their church?

“One man asked me if I was prepared for a hostile takeover,” says Sheppard, pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in Mountain View, California.

Read it all–a painful but important subject.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

Jeffrey Steel: Thoughts after Lambeth: T.S. Eliot Speaks Still!

There is a very troubling spread in the Times today (see the inside piece here)concerning some letters exchanged between ABC Rowan Williams and a Dr. Pitt. This is a tactical move to say the least by some who really seem to not understand the nature of the Church. It’s not the ‘old news’ of the ABC’s views of late that is troubling (not sure what the motive for putting this out now is all about) but the views of the press and the culture that demands the Church to get into line with something completely contrary to its own worldview. We find such comments by some who comment here such as John Realis when he writes,

Newspaper article after newspaper article upbraids C of E Anglicanism for not being liberal enough, for not being more in line with the positive values of British society, among which rejection of grievous past discrimination against homosexuals and joyful acceptance of civil partnerships – otherwise known as marriages – are the most exemplary – and by no means confined to ‘the chattering classes’. Try to get a grip on reality – not self-seeking fantasy.

This only goes to show how much this secularised culture is in the dark about the ways of faithful Catholic Christianity that is counter-cultural to such false ideologies and philosophies that shape a distorted secularised worldview.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

More on Lambeth 2008 from the Bishop of Olympia

As the world has become more global so has the Church. It often does not do us well to try to have relationship in this instantaneous communicative world we live in. One can nary have a fleeting thought before it is posted on the World Wide Web, and this does not help our conversations. I am sure the web is humming already. What we had this last three weeks is real conversation, the face-to-face kind, where memos and e-mails cannot hide the incarnated being right before your eyes. There is no delete button or hiding behind the computer screen here. And there is nothing that can substitute for the experience of the primitive ancient church practice and reality of gathering around the Scripture in a small group, under a tree or around a table.

That is not to say that all the conversations during this time have been chummy, as they might say here in England. No; they were direct, even strident at times, but at least we were in the room together. We had to deal with each other. And on this last day, as we shared our hopes and dreams before we left, especially with those in our Indaba and Bible study groups, we realized we had put ourselves in the hand of God, and with Jesus as our guide, the vast majority had been solidified in one thing even if not changed as far as position or theological stripe: we value each other and we value this communion, even more deeply than when we arrived. Tears were shed, smiles were shared, vows were made to pray for one another and to share and talk, even when the rough times come, and we know they will.

I give great credit to the Archbishop of Canterbury in proposing and following through with an agenda and way of being at this conference that was centered on relationships, not legislation. As he said in one of his speeches, “For those of you who are unhappy or wish to criticize this approach, let me ask you: Have the old ways really been all that effective?” He has a very good point. I know many of you are divided as to trusting him or not. I can only tell you he is human, too; he has his strong desires and he is in a most difficult place. In all Christian charity, for now, I intend to trust the current process and work with our Presiding Bishop and our House of Bishops in working with the communion.

Read it all.

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

Mary Ann Sieghart: Rowan Williams was selected as a liberal and now he should govern as one

If only more members of the Anglican Communion displayed as much humility as Rowan Williams, who signs himself endearingly in one of these letters as “an averagely muddled bishop”. And if only Dr Williams could display just a little less humility in his job of leading the Church, the current stand-off in the Communion might have more chance of being resolved.

Until now, Anglicans knew Dr Williams, in his personal views, to be a liberal on the matter of gay relationships, but the evidence rested only on a rather oblique argument, set out in an essay nearly 20 years ago. These letters, however, make a much stronger and clearer case for Christians to be accepting of homosexuality, since they challenge the very scriptural basis of the Biblical prohibitions on gay sex. Dr Williams concludes that passages describing homosexuality as sinful are referring to promiscuous homosexuality by heterosexuals, rather than committed relationships between two people who are gay by nature.

This is a respectable point for an eminent theologian to argue, and it is a great pity that he has not been brave enough to argue it as Archbishop of Canterbury. Instead he has, if anything, sided with the conservatives. “I find myself personally in a difficult situation,” he admits in the letter, “between the pressures of the clear majority view in my Church [and] my own theological convictions.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

Massachusetts Episcopal bishop will ordain priests in noncelibate same sex partnerships

A month ago, the world’s Anglican bishops flew off to London, hoping to do something to keep the world’s third largest Christian family from falling apart over the ordination of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire.

But as the bishops return to their dioceses around the world, the plight of the Episcopal Church, and its parent Anglican Communion, remains as muddled as ever. With conservatives contending that the denomination is moving toward schism and liberals arguing that the denomination is stabilizing, the path forward is unclear.

Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, said in an interview upon his return from London that he will continue to ordain gay clergy, which he called “pastorally important.”

He also said that local priests will continue to bless same-sex marriages, although Shaw said that those priests are doing so on their own and that “I haven’t authorized anybody to do anything.”

As for whether he would follow up on his earlier intention to push for ending the moratorium on gay bishops and allowing church recognition of same-sex marriage when the Episcopal Church meets at its General Convention next year, Shaw said he would now wait until he meets with all the American bishops next month to decide how he will proceed.

Read it all.

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

From Green Bay to Broadway: Brett Favre Is a Jet

The Jets, once the team of one of football’s most charismatic quarterbacks, now have another one. They acquired Brett Favre from the Green Bay Packers in a deal late Wednesday night that the Jets hope will ignite excitement for a team that struggles to remain in the headlines in the same city with the Giants and struggles for competitiveness in the same division as the New England Patriots.

“We just felt this was an opportunity to go get somebody of Brett’s stature and what he’s accomplished,” said Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum.

The terms of the trade were not announced, although it was believed to be for a fourth-round pick that, depending on Favre’s performance and the team’s results, could increase in value, all the way up to a first-round selection. The trade was first reported Wednesday night by FoxSports.com.

Quarterback Chad Pennington, a former first round draft pick, is loved and respected in the Jets’ locker room, but Tannenbaum said early Thursday morning that the Jets will part ways with him now that Favre is on board.

“It’s a bittersweet moment for us,” Tannenbaum said. “I have all the respect in the world for Chad as a person and as a player. He gave his heart and soul to this organization for a long, long time.”

What a national soap opera this became. Watching ESPN’s sportscenter turned into as the Brett Favre saga turns. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

AP: On marriage, some gays seek total solidarity

When Marisa Miller married David Wolfson last year, the couple added a statement to their vows that they both passionately believe in the right of all people to marry regardless of sexual orientation.

With gay friends making up about 20 percent of guests and two openly gay religious clergymen officiating, it seemed appropriate to note they felt “somewhat out of step with society’s views on marriage.”

“I thought it was really, really beautiful and very healing,” said the Rev. Nate Walker, who presided with Rabbi Frank Tamburello. “It brought tears to my eyes, thinking that I am legally entitled to marry this wonderful couple but I am not entitled to have the same joy in my own life.”

Such statements have become more common at heterosexual weddings. But not all gay guests appreciate the gesture. Pattrice Jones, a lesbian author, compares straight couples’ efforts at solidarity to a white person joining a whites-only country club and making a quick statement of support for blacks who are excluded.

“Just don’t join the club, it’s that simple,” Jones said.

After a wedding last year in which a straight couple read a statement of solidarity with gay couples, Jones said her “gay friends rang to tell me about it. They were horrified and really annoyed.” Jones did not attend the wedding, but “we all felt it was so wrong to grab all the benefits that marriage gives you and just make a little statement to calm your guilt.”

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Marriage & Family, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Kenyan primate wants Lambeth Conference to continue

Asked about Orombi’s statements, Nzimbi told Ecumenical News International, “I don’t want to comment on that but what I know is the Anglican Communion surrounds the see of Canterbury, and the Canterbury see is respected by all of us, and we would like the Anglican Communion to continue.”

He said, “The archbishop of Canterbury should continue calling [the] Lambeth [Conference] but let us go back to what it used to be.” This was understood to mean that there should be a common understanding that homosexuality is sinful and homosexuals should not be in positions of leadership in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Nzimbi said Anglican leaders who took part in a gathering in June in Jerusalem of the Global Anglican Future Conference, or GAFCON as it is known, will meet shortly to map a way forward after the Lambeth Conference. GAFCON is widely seen as having been an “alternative” Lambeth Conference that brought together opponents of openly gay bishops and same-sex blessings.

The Kenyan archbishop took issue with remarks by Robinson, according to whom leaders such as Nzimbi are calling for the exclusion from the Anglican Communion of those churches that support the greater inclusion of gay and lesbian people.

Nzimbi said the current problem within the Anglican Communion was not based on who should stay or go, but on compliance to the word of God.

“When you obey the Scriptures you repent of your sins. What is … bringing problems is the interpretation of the Scriptures,” he said. “If we all obey the Scriptures, and what they tell us, I know that inner oneness will make us have the outer form of the Anglican Communion that which we want.”

Read it all

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

Follow up on this morning's question about developments in the Episcopal diocese of Pennsylvania

From here:

An article appeared in Tuesday’s Philadelphia Bulletin regarding the sentencing of Bishop Bennison. That article is inaccurate. The pre-sentencing process has not yet been completed, and the Trial Court has not yet imposed a sentence on Bishop Bennison.

Posted in Uncategorized

Reuters: Some Canada Anglicans may reject same-sex moratorium

There seems little chance that all Canadian Anglican clergy will honor the moratorium on blessing same-sex unions requested by the worldwide Anglican communion.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, leader of the global Anglican church, warned on Sunday that the 80-million-member church would be “in grave peril” if the U.S. and Canadian branches did not agree to moratoriums on same-sex blessings and on the ordination of gay bishops.

But the head of the Canadian church, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, told Reuters in a phone interview on Wednesday it would be especially tough for Bishop Michael Ingham of the British Columbia diocese of New Westminster to halt the homosexual blessings altogether.

Read the whole article.

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

The Bishop of California: Lambeth Reflections

The document that came out of the Lambeth Conference, the final draft of which we saw at the last plenary session yesterday, is a distillation of the Indaba Group conversations that have gone on over the length of the conference. All of us were assigned to Bible study groups that met each morning. Five Bible study groups constituted an Indaba Group, which met after the individual study groups.

What has emerged from the extended time in the Bible study and Indaba Groups is relationship. Bishops spoke honestly and deeply. We found places of profound commonality, and we named honestly pain in division that was not erased.

One Sudanese bishop said this, “After 22 years of suffering (civil war) we have learned not to run away based on what we hear, but to come and see, and then decide rather we need to run away. We are not leaving these friendships.”

There was much talk about “What I need to take back to my diocese.” People asked me that quite a lot. Was it moratoria on blessings, on incursions? Was it commitment to the relief of global suffering through the Millennium Development Goals process? An Anglican Covenant?

For me it is the relationships. Unlike most of the other products, the usefulness of the relationships formed at the Lambeth Conference will lie in the extension of the relationships into our diocese, and beyond. As I wrote in an earlier posting, part of the way bishops must now fulfill their ministry of unity is by actively extending the relationships they have to others, and even understanding that these relationships need to develop apart from the bishops themselves. I am coming home to the beautiful Diocese of California knowing that there are great opportunities for becoming a global body that contributes to the healing of the world, and that people in the Bay Area are eager to be part of this. The same Sudanese bishop who spoke so movingly of his province’s brave journey to Lambeth (when significant neighbor provinces stayed away based on what they had “heard”) has asked me whether people in California could help his people with the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Sudan. Who better than we?

As to the other ”˜products’ I mentioned above: the document we produced has real significance as it reflects the searching, prayerful conversations over a two week period of over 600 Anglican bishops. The points of substantial agreement are thus worth our attention. In California we will be seeking ways to utilize the indaba process to consider the contents of the document, absorb and extend its learnings, and contribute back to the whole.

At the same time, the document is not legislation. We will pay close attention to it, but we must not reify the agreement points in it into laws, and we should resist interpretations that seek to employ those agreements as laws.

Read it all.

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

The Bishop of Ely Offers some Reflections on Lambeth 2008

Two aspects that formed a continuing thread through the Conference were those of mission and support for the Millennium Development Goals. This is what the Anglican Communion does in its day to day life in the wider world. The march down Whitehall past Parliament to Lambeth Palace was deeply impressive. As one policeman said to Sheila and me, it is rare to have a demonstration in favour of something. The significance of the Millennium Development Goals was reinforced at many points in the Conference, and when the Bishops gathered in front of Lambeth Palace, we were addressed by the Prime Minister. It was a remarkable speech, in which he demonstrated his deep concern and great knowledge of these issues; it was greatly appreciated by the Bishops.

As the Conference proceeded, it was impossible not to be aware that we had the privilege of being present at a very significant occasion ”” an occasion at which it can truly be said that the Holy Spirit had led the Church through and around its difficulties into a new place.

Many expected that the Anglican Communion would not survive the Conference, but it was clear that the vast majority were determined that we should stay together within the Communion, and behind the Archbishop’s leadership. Whilst there was no expectation that all the problems would be solved, there was a confidence that a new way of being the Church was emerging, based on a willingness to listen and participate in the struggle to grapple with these issues. This made the absences all the more painful.

Ten years ago, the Conference concluded with three days in which the Resolutions developed by the various Sections were debated in a plenary session and voted on. Hurriedly written and densely worded Resolutions were passed by an assembly of people, many of whom could not have been aware of the implications of the actions, and were unable to follow the proceedings or take part in them. A moment lodged in my memory, is the occasion when a Sudanese Bishop tried to speak about violence and warfare (his wife had been killed a month beforehand), but was prevented from doing so because he had not put his name down to speak two days beforehand. It was the Archbishop’s determination that the end of this Conference should be different that shaped its structure.

The Anglican Covenant, has been developed since the Windsor Report of 2004, and has been refined at various subsequent meetings. This document was examined by the Bishops, they did not vote on it, and the process of refining the Covenant goes on (possibly for some years). It was surprising that there was such broad support for so much of the Covenant, and it is now referred to the Anglican Consultative Council in September, and will be seen by the Provinces and Dioceses after that – so that we will see it in due course.

Read it all.

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