Daily Archives: August 8, 2008

Notable and Quotable

Question: We’re hearing that the Lambeth Conference ended up over 2 million pounds in debt. Has the American church been asked to help foot that bill? And if so, will we?

KJS: My understanding is that the conference is a million pounds in debt. Or two million dollars…uh…or short fall. Yes we’ve been asked and the bishops of this church responded in ways that would provide bursaries for those unable to attend as scholarship assistance. I believe there..that the Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed a desire to come to the United States and uh…do some fund raising work and we have certainly offered our assistance in that…when he would like to do that.

–The Presiding Bishop in a webcast yesterday with the Presiding Bishop and Bishop Mark Sisk on the Lambeth Conference

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

The Bishop of Southwark: The Lambeth Conference may cause a positive transformation in the church

We were told that we were to treat the Conference as a pilgrimage, and it did have such a feel, but for me it was like being involved in the pilgrimage of the life cycle of the butterfly, egg, larva, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly. The conference for me felt like the chrysalis stage. The caterpillar entering this stage spins thread around itself which hardens into a protective shell. On the campus of the University of Kent, we were in just such a protective shell, with the world and its pressures and reporters kept at bay.

Inside the chrysalis shell the caterpillar turns into a soft, squidgy jelly like blob. Its structures soften and dissolve and something new begins to appear. And then the miracle occurs, out of this soft, squidgy confusing, not now, not ‘yetness’, the body of the beautiful butterfly is formed and in the fullness of time, breaks out and flies.

At Canterbury the Anglican Church allowed itself to risk being changed through the liquid of conversation and challenge across cultures and beliefs. It’s not at all certain that minds were altered but positions might have been softened and if so there’s a chance that something beautiful might emerge in the future which is nothing quite like we’ve known so far. The Anglican Communion might yet fly anew better fit for purpose.

Read it all.

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

Rob Moll: Want More Growth in China? Have Faith

One of the most important dissenting voices in China today belongs to Peter Zhao, a Communist Party member and adviser to the Chinese Central Committee. Mr. Zhao is among a group of Chinese intellectuals who look to the West to find the key to economic success. Mr. Zhao in particular believes that Christianity and the ethical system based upon its teachings are the reason that Western countries dominate the global economy. “The strong U.S. economy is just on the surface,” he says. “The backbone is the moral foundation.”

Without a unifying moral system enforced by common values, Mr. Zhao argues, there can be no real trust between people. Without faith among business partners and between management and shareholders, only the threat of the law can keep people honest. “There are problems of corruption emerging. . . . There is concern about whether China’s market economy will ever become a sound market economy.”

Mr. Zhao has made his case in both popular and academic publications in the past several years, publishing more than 200 articles — for instance, “Market Economies With Churches and Market Economies Without Churches” — explaining how Christianity leads to long-term growth. “From the ancient time till now everybody wants to make more money,” Mr. Zhao told me. “But from history we see only Christians have a continuous nonstop creative spirit and the spirit for innovation.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Economy, Religion & Culture

David Quinn: Liberal dogmatism killing Church unity

LIBERALS are fond of brow-beating the Churches about sectarianism and disunity. These twin evils, they say with some justification, are harmful to society because they set one group against another and because sectarianism is, at the very least, uncivil.

It now transpires that all this liberal bleating about sectarianism and disunity was exactly that, bleating. But it was also hypocritical because when it suits their agenda liberals are very inclined to use sectarian language of their own and have no hesitation adding to the already deep divisions between the Churches.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Donna Freitas on Stephenie Meyer's Fourth Novel: True Love Waits

Another mother nearby had a litany of reasons why the series was good for girls. “Twilight helps girls realize they don’t need to settle for anything less than what they really want,” she began. “It teaches them to keep high standards. That there are guys that will treat them with respect. Girls today need to learn this, and they can learn it from this series.”

When asked about the fact that there were almost no boys present at the event, this group of women said that they knew boys who had started to read the series because they realized that “to get the girls, they need to figure out Edward.”

As clergy and parents and even a few teachers struggle to make a case for abstinence among the young, it may seem strange and unexpected that Ms. Meyer has served up one of the most compelling and effective arguments for abstinence in mainstream American culture — through a teen vampire romance. It may also be that she is trying to stay true to her faith’s teachings on sex even within her fiction. Regardless, Ms. Meyer has somehow made not having sex seem like the sexiest decision two people can make and has conveyed this effectively to her teenage audience.

Some of her young fans are hoping for a sex scene in “Breaking Dawn,” however. As one girl told me: “I’m looking forward to Bella and Edward getting married so they can have sex.” What a novel idea.

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Sexuality, Teens / Youth

More from the Economist: What Roman Catholics fear from an Anglican split

One reason why senior Catholic clerics view a possible schism with dismay is personal and emotional. As the Second Vatican Council’s decree on ecumenicism noted, the Anglican Communion occupies a “special place” in relation to the Catholic church. In the 44 years since then, many Catholics have invested time, effort and prayer in trying to reunite with the Church of England, and there have been moments when they dared to hope it was possible. Good friendships and working relationships have been formed along the way (one is between Rowan Williams and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Murphy-O’Connor). No one likes to hear a row in a friend’s house.

But there are other, less sentimental reasons why the Catholic hierarchy dreads a split. In particular, the acceptance into the Catholic church of large numbers of married Anglican clerics would make it harder for the Vatican to hold its already shaky line on priestly celibacy. Since 1980, when rules were drawn up for the reception of Anglican clerics (some of whom were unhappy at the prospect of women priests in their Communion), more than 80 have taken the leap worldwide. Most are married. Catherine Pepinster, the editor of a liberal Catholic weekly, the Tablet, says that in Britain most Catholics feel that these priests “bring something beneficial to their ministry. They understand people’s married lives, and that is appreciated.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Lambeth 2008, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

An Article on the Bishop of Derby and Lambeth 2008

Dr [Alastair] Redfern said the topic of homosexuality came up a number of times during the conference and that it was decided more discussion was needed before any decisions were made.

But the conference had not changed his views.

He said: “The American church has consecrated as a bishop its first practising homosexual.

“I think it’s wrong and it’s wrong in the view of most of the people at the conference.

“We expect the highest standards of people in this position.”

The bishop said this did not mean he and his fellow bishops were condemnatory of homosexuality.

He said: “Just as we say to any unmarried person that you should get married before you have sex, we say the same to homosexuals.

“The teaching of our church is that sexual activity belongs in marriage between men and women, and I hold by that.”

Read it all.

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

Forbes: America's 10 Fastest-Dying Cities

Please try to guess the top 10 before you read the article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy

Bishop John Pritchard of Oxford reflects on Lambeth 2008

What’s needed to under-write the Covenant is the further implementation of what’s known as the Windsor Process. Again there was much endorsement of the process, along with some anxiety about commitment to it. Crucially, there was support for three moratoria:

* consecration of people in same-sex relationships
* blessings of same-sex unions
* cross-border incursions by bishops.

Without these it will be very hard to move forward. Secondly there will be a Pastoral Forum which can come into action quickly in a situation of dispute, and thirdly the four Instruments of Communion (the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Primates’ Meeting) will need to have their roles and relationships clarified to avoid the confusions and distrust of recent years.

What now?

Of course there are real concerns. Mine centre on whether the Gafcon bishops and leaders will be prepared to engage with the re-affirmed Covenant and Windsor processes, and whether the American church will hold to the moratoria. It was a huge impoverishment that the Gafcon bishops weren’t all with us (though 80 were). We need all of us to be exercising gracious restraint and committing ourselves to affection, trust and goodwill towards each other and in particular to the Archbishop of Canterbury. But such ‘affection, trust and goodwill’ are surely at the heart of any Christlike living. How can we not offer such gifts to each other?

This was a remarkable experience for all of your bishops. We were fully engaged and much inspired.

Read it all.

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

The News Letter Interviews Bishop Harold Miller of Down and Dromore

And, entering the debate over Archbishop Alan Harper’s comment that if science can prove homosexuality to be “natural” then the Church may need to reconsider its approach to the issue, Bishop [Harold] Miller explained why he disagreed.

“If you say that because you are born with a certain inclination then it is God-given and you should be free to follow that through in your life, it doesn’t make any logical sense whatever,” he said.

“You would then have to say that there are many different inclinations with which people are born ”” even if it is true that this is an inherent thing ”” and which people spend their lifetime trying to subdue.
“The fact that you are born with it doesn’t make any moral judgement on the inclination. People fight to subdue inherently bad tempers, depressive streaks or lots of sexual inclinations. Some inclinations are good, some are not good and some are mixed.”

Bishop Miller warned that changing positions on homosexuality would open up other areas of debate, some of which may be even more divisive.
“I stood at the front gate of a Cathedral in America last month and read a notice saying ‘Anybody going on the LGBT parade come to the Cathedral first and have your relationship blessed by the bishop’.

“There’s no doubt about it ”” it’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered for a start ”” so the thing has widened already and you have to ask: what does it mean for someone who’s born bisexual to follow their inclination or inclinations?”

Read the whole interview and there is an additional article about the interview here.

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

Wales Online: Anglicans couldn’t have a better man in charge

The problems for Dr Williams have come as he plays the role of leader of the Anglican communion. Those holding a minority view, still less mavericks, will always struggle in such a pivotal roles, as he himself will surely know.

Since taking over as archbishop, he has followed a studiously orthodox path when it comes to same-sex partnerships, along with much else. He feels he is obliged to explain the Church’s teaching on subjects, even if they may conflict a little with his own. A difficult position to be in ”“ the stakes are very high indeed, with the threat of an irrevocable schism ever present ”“ and one that we would do well to appreciate a little better.

If he has been unlucky in some of the battles he has had to fight, he has hardly been helped by fellow liberals: the North American churches’ decisions to push ahead with blessing same-sex unions has merely made the position more difficult for Lambeth Palace.

Read it all.

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

In live webcast, Presiding Bishop says making connections was a highlight of Lambeth

(ENS) Addressing the development of a proposed Anglican covenant that would outline basic beliefs, [Presiding Bishop Katharine] Jefferts Schori said, “there was great willingness to think about a a covenant that spoke positively about what we do share as members of the communion. There was really no interest in producing a covenant that defined who could be excluded.”

A committee called the covenant design group will meet this fall to consider the comments from the bishops and possibly produce another draft that will then be made public and presented to the international Anglican Consultative Council in May. “The ACC will make a decision about what to do next, whether to send it back for further revision, reject it or send on to the provinces for consideration,” said Jefferts Schori.

[Bishop Mark] Sisk said one bishop in his group talked about how important it is for families to have standards, “but I said that you stick together, even if you disagree.”

When asked how Lambeth affects the status of gay and lesbian church members, Jefferts Schori said, “we were very clear for an overwhelming majority of the bishops of this church that the well being and adequate and appropriate pastoral care of gay and lesbian members of the church is a significant mission issue for us. We have been having conversations and debate for more than 40 years. Even though other parts of the communion may not understand that, we have been working at this for a long time. Our conversations are not going to end.”

Read it all.

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

Bishop Ed Little of Northern Indiana's Reflections on the Lambeth Conference

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lambeth Design Group, as they planned Lambeth 2008, made the decision that this time around, the Conference would not deal with any resolutions. Archbishop Rowan made it clear that Lambeth I.10 remains the mind of the Communion on the subject of human sexuality and would not be re-visited in 2008; nor, in the process, would we take up any other subjects in a legislative mode. We would instead have a season of “fasting” in which we listen to each other, take counsel, pray and reflect together, but avoid any definitive actions that would further exacerbate the conflict that has engulfed the Anglican Communion particularly since the actions of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in 2003. The decision to “fast” from resolutions was a controversial one, but in the end I’m convinced that it was wise, prudent, and courageous.

That means that “Lambeth Indaba” isn’t an authoritative teaching document; it doesn’t intend to be. Rather, it is a report of our conversations, a snapshot of the bishops in the midst of a long and ultimately productive time together. The document seeks to be faithful to the Gospel, faithful to the Indaba process, faithful to the bishops and their context, and faithful to the Communion (pp. 7-8). It goes on to describe conversations on mission and evangelism, the environment, ecumenism, relations with world religions, Anglican bishops and Anglican identity, human sexuality, the Bible, the Anglican Covenant, and the Windsor process. Necessarily, the document contains contradictory material. After all, it simply reports what we said to one another; and since we sometimes (often!) didn’t agree, “Lambeth Indaba” allows us a glimpse at the theological and pastoral diversity that characterizes the Anglican Communion. Don’t read the document looking for an authoritative pronouncement. You won’t find it; and I think it’s safe to say that this Lambeth Conference probably couldn’t have found a consensus on some of the difficult matters that continue to divide us. Yet, as I mentioned at the beginning of these reflections, the search for unity in the midst of significant conflict was a kind of subtext that permeated the whole Conference, from start to finish; you’ll find echoes of that yearning throughout “Lambeth Indaba”. I encourage you to download the document and to read it prayerfully and carefully, and in that way to pray with and for the bishops who spend nearly three weeks in Canterbury.

I should add a bittersweet footnote to the preceding paragraph. We weren’t all there. Four provinces (Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya) declined the Archbishop’s invitation to come to Lambeth (though in the end several Kenyan bishops did attend); several Australian and British bishops were also missing, as were a couple of Americans. Those who chose to say away did so in large part to protest the presence of the Episcopal Church, and in part as well because they disapproved of Lambeth’s non-legislative format. Many, though not all, of these bishops had attended a meeting in Jerusalem entitled “Global Anglican Futures Conference” at the end of June, though some bishops were present both at Lambeth and at GAFCON. (Note the GAFCON website.) The absence of so many Christian friends from the Lambeth Conference was a grievous loss indeed. We needed their strong voices. The Conference was less robustly representative because of their absence.

Archbishop Rowan’s concluding presidential address summarized our time together and gave what I believe to be an authoritative interpretation of the Lambeth Conference and its long-term effects.

Read it all.

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

The Bishop of Arizona: Back fom Lambeth

Although the Reflections document is merely a report of our discussions (Lambeth has no legislative authority), many of its comments related to human sexuality are bound to gain attention in the coming months. The American Church realizes that our policy of inclusion is not shared by the majority. The document reflects that fact. Even though I had hoped that the Communion could accept the American Church’s actions, I was disappointed that this was not the case. Bishop Gene Robinson’s exclusion was personally difficult for me, and I supported him the best I could by attending an off- campus Eucharist with him. Most (but not all) of the 38 constituent provinces still feel that there is need for a covenant agreement which would contain some kind of discipline for those provinces that proceed with the consecration of openly gay or lesbian bishops, or who offer blessings of same gender unions. Both the meaning of these passages, and the disciplinary implications are still unclear, but I don’t think it would be an overstatement to say that many of us in the American Church feel caught between our love for the Communion and our conviction that in the church there can be no outsiders. The result, as someone half jokingly remarked, is that “the Anglican Communion welcomes everyone, except a few, and the Americans, who welcome everyone.” So this tension will continue.

For my part, I intend to do three things. The first is to nurture the friendships I made with my colleagues from around the world. I am sure my prayer-group members (which included one very vocal critic of the American Church) and I will be friends for life, for we pledged to pray daily for each another. Second, our mission partnerships need to be strengthened. I hope to build on our relationship with Western Mexico and Dar es Salaam, and both will be present at our Convention in October. Third, the clergy and I will be discussing the pastoral implications of the Reflections document at our clericus meetings this fall and how we as one Diocese can best respond to it.

Read it all.

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

An ACN Release: No Decisions at Lambeth Conference

It does not lay out a timeline or suggest a new way forward to unifying the Anglican Communion around the mainstream Christian consensus on issues of human sexuality. Instead, it offers general support for ongoing initiatives that were first suggested in the 2004 Windsor Report and subsequent meetings of the primates of the Anglican Communion, such as the Anglican Communion Covenant and the proposed moratoria on same sex blessings, the election of bishops in same-sex relationships, and bishops taking foreign parishes and dioceses into their churches.

The indaba document also expresses general support for the creation of the latest in a long line of committees and commissions intended to offer some relief to faithful Anglicans who have been forced into conflict or have had to leave their dioceses or national churches. This latest effort, called the “Pastoral Forum,” has no clear timeline, authority, budget, or membership.

A number of Network bishops attended the Lambeth Conference. Writing after the conference concluded, Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina stated, “I had come to speak a word of hope and perhaps to intervene on behalf of our beloved, but in the last resolve the family refused the long needed measures.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Communion Network, Lambeth 2008