Daily Archives: November 18, 2008

Geoffrey Kirk: The Way we live Now

So it’s official; we are past the worst of the crisis in The Episcopal Church. The presiding Bishop has told us so. The remarkable thing was surely not that she predicted the imminent end of the crisis, but that she admitted that there was a crisis at all.

The eerie thing about TEC has been the ‘business as usual’ attitude of its proprietors as parishes and dioceses have abandoned ship, clergy have been jettisoned and litigation has grown. In the Church of England we have been nervously asking: what in the world is going on, and could it happen here?

An answer to those questions is pressing. And so I will try to give it.

What has been happening? The answer is simple but unpalatable. There has been a logical and inevitable outworking of the Doctrine of Provincial Autonomy.
The idea that provinces of the Communion are sovereign in matters of doctrine and order was invented in the late Sixties/ early Seventies to facilitate the ordination of women to the priesthood.

At the time it must have seemed convenient and unexceptionable. The Communion had always been made up of national churches with their own discrete codes of canon law; provincial autonomy (though it had never actually been exercised in the areas in which it now came into play) was merely a function of that reality.

But ‘untune that string and Hark! what discord follows’. Provincial autonomy, as understood in the United States, had at one leap rendered doctrine and orders subject to geography and democracy. The POLITY of The Episcopal Church (O fatal and oft-repeated word!) had come to mean that the General Convention, by majority voting, could with impunity reverse the Vincentian Canon. It could do what previously had been unknown to any, anywhere and at any time.

It is strange that Americans, with the glaring example of the Civil War in their own history, were not more circumspect about the consequences of democratic self-determination. Its ultimate result is secession. For who is to determine (except arbitrarily) at what level or in what forum finality resides? Is it the Union, or the States? Is it the National Church or the dioceses or the parishes? And since a democratic vote is merely the aggregation of individual consciences, what place does the individual have in this economy?

In recent times The Episcopal Church has placed a high value on individual autonomy, allowing, for example, the continuance in office of plainly heretical bishops from Pike to Spong. More recently the case of Dr Ann Redding has highlighted this issue. Redding claimed to be ‘following Jesus’ into Islam. Now her bishop, Geralyn Wolf, is disciplining her for ‘abandonment of communion’ (the very accusation against those who have left TEC for the Southern Cone).

I have to say that I have a great deal of sympathy for Redding. Her only offence is to fail to take the creeds literally. ‘We Christians, in struggling to express the beauty and dignity of Jesus and the pattern of life he offers, describe him as the ‘only begotten son of God’. That’s how wonderful he is to us. But that is not literal.’ If this is an offence, then it is a very Episcopalian offence. And Bishop Wolf is being inexcusably picky.

In short, it is a strange Church which can tolerate Jack Spong, eject Ann Redding and depose Bob Duncan – in the same breath and for the same reasons. It is a very strange and wholly inconsistent Church which will not extend its tolerance of individuals to dioceses or parishes; and which acknowledges the plenary self-determination of its General Convention, but will not allow the secession of its constituent diocesan Conventions.

What is happening in The Episcopal Church is the gradual unfolding of the implications of Provincial Autonomy. What is remarkable is that no one seems to have noticed the fact.

And can it happen here?

Naturally, what is happening in the United States is taking a very American form. An ecclesial re-run of the War between the States is hardly likely in the United Kingdom – where ecclesial devolution preceded political devolution by decades or even centuries, and where the latter is unlikely to lead to bloodshed. But if the question is: ‘will the liberal tendency in the Church of England prove as rapacious as its North American counterparts?’ the answer is, most probably, yes.

The aim of Liberal Entryism is to steal the assets (and especially the intellectual property) of the previous occupants. It is important to them to present themselves as the legitimate heirs of the Christian centuries. And in order to do so they have both to re-invent Anglicanism as traditionally tolerant of almost any doctrinal deviation (which, needless to say, it has never been), and to persecute to extinction those who have the temerity to point out the deception.

People talk about ‘illiberal liberals’ as though it were a paradox and as though there were in fact another kind. But I beg to differ. If, as the proponents of women’s ordination and homosexual equality have done, you advance your case by fabricating evidence and rewriting history, you have no course, in the end, but to treat as enemies those who seek to nail the lie.

And if you base yourself on an ethical a priori proposition, you have nothing to stand on except assertion, which will consequently degenerate into violence, physical or intellectual. We can agree with Lady Bracknell that it ‘reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution. And I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to?’

What is already evident in some quarters – where revisionists are crying ‘We are the real Catholics’ whilst shying bricks at the Holy See – cannot, as I see it, fail to become the stance of the whole church, which, to justify its self-will, will wilfully sever itself from the root of which it is a branch.

Mrs Schori may well think (but she would think that, wouldn’t she?) that the crisis in The Episcopal Church is nearing its conclusion. But there can be no doubt that the manner in which she is seeking to end it is likely to store up further problems in the Communion as a whole. Bishop Bob Duncan, who is not famous for his jokes, has a good one up his sleeve: that more bishops of the Anglican Communion recognize him than recognize his former Primate.

He is probably right.

–This article appears in the November 2008 edition of New Directions

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Identity, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Julia Duin: Breakaway Episcopalians to unveil constitution

Leaders of 100,000 disaffected former Episcopalians will unveil a proposed constitution for a new 39th province of the Anglican Communion at a Dec. 3 ceremony at the evangelical Wheaton College in west Chicago.

The new province, which will contain significant portions of four breakaway Episcopal dioceses plus about two dozen churches in Northern Virginia, will be launched in early 2009.

“This is a huge step,” said Anglican Bishop Martyn Minns, one of the leaders who will sign the constitution as the head of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

“The constitution will create a new Anglican church in North America that will have all the necessary features to be recognized as a province,” said Robert Lundy, a spokesman for the American Anglican Council, one of the constitution’s signatory groups. “Then it’ll be out of our hands.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Common Cause Partnership

Redefining marriage renders it meaningless, Roman Catholic Bishop of Portland says

Richard Malone, the Bishop of Portland, Maine, has written a letter to Maine Catholics in response to a Portland news conference where leaders in several other Christian faiths professed support for same-sex marriage. The bishop defended marriage, saying opposition to its redefinition derives not only from faith but also from reason and a concern for the good of society.

According to Bishop Malone’s letter, which was sent over the past weekend, the Christian ministers’ news conference had urged the people of Maine to embrace same-sex marriage “in the name of equal civil rights.”

“To claim that marriage is a civil right open to all forms of relationships is a misnomer,” he explained.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

Proponents of women bishops fear backlash in UK

Proponents of women bishops now face a threat as serious as any ever faced before — from those opposed to females in mitres — according to a leading campaigner for their ordination.

The claim comes from Christina Rees who heads WATCH, the Women and the Church movement, and is a prominent member of the General Synod.

Ms Rees voices the claim in a letter sent to networks of clergy and laity, a copy of which has been seen by The Church of England Newspaper.

In the letter, which takes a swipe at traditionalist Anglicans opposed to women priests and bishops, she declares: “It is our opinion that we now face a threat as serious as any we have faced before in the long journey towards women’s full inclusion in the ordained ministries of the Church of England.”

And she claims: “Even at this eleventh hour, those who oppose ordaining women are summoning all their strength to delay, distort and subvert the will of the General Synod as expressed in the debates over the past few years.”

Read it all.

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

CNA: Ft. Worth becomes the fourth diocese to leave the Episcopal Church

Among the diocese’s voting clergy, 72 voted to leave the General Convention of the Episcopal Church while 19 voted against, VirtueOnline.org reports. Among the diocese’s voting lay delegates, 102 voted to leave while 25 opposed the proposal.

Similar numbers voted to join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, whose archbishop, Gregory Venables, sent a message to the diocese, saying:

“In spite of the tragic circumstances which have made your costly decision necessary we rejoice with you at the opportunity to serve God together in His ongoing and glorious mission to extend His Kingdom.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Mormons feel the heat over Proposition 8

Protesters have massed outside Mormon temples nationwide. For every donation to a fund to overturn Proposition 8, a postcard is sent to the president of the Mormon Church. Supporters of gay marriage have proposed a boycott of Utah businesses, and someone burned a Book of Mormon outside a temple near Denver.

“It’s disconcerting to Latter-day Saints that Mormonism is still the religious tradition that everybody loves to hate,” said Melissa Proctor, who teaches at Harvard Divinity School.

As an indication of how seriously the Mormon leadership takes the recent criticism, the council that runs the church — the First Presidency — released a statement Friday decrying what it portrayed as a campaign not just against Mormons but all religious people who voted their conscience.

“People of faith have been intimidated for simply exercising their democratic rights,” the statement said. “These are not actions that are worthy of the democratic ideals of our nation. The end of a free and fair election should not be the beginning of a hostile response in America.”

Jim Key, a spokesman for the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, said barbs by gay marriage activists were directed at church leadership, not individual Mormons.

“We’re making a statement that no one’s religious beliefs should be used to deny fundamental rights to others,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Mormons, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

Living Church: Primates Hold Key to New Province’s Recognition

It is the primates, not the Archbishop of Canterbury, who are directly responsible for granting official status to a new Anglican Communion province. That responsibility is spelled out under section 3 of the constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC).

The constitution explains that a new province may be admitted “with the assent of two-thirds of the primates of the Anglican Communion.”

Assuming that at least two-thirds of the primates of the Anglican Communion do consent to the formation of another province in North America when they meet in February, it is likely that the matter would come before the ACC when it meets in Jamaica next May.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Common Cause Partnership

Howard Kurtz on the media and the President elect

Obama’s days of walking on water won’t last indefinitely. His chroniclers will need a new story line. And sometime after Jan. 20, they will wade back into reality.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Media, US Presidential Election 2008

Murdoch to Aussies: embrace technology

NEWS Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch is urging Australians to move out of their comfort zones and embrace new technology.

In his second of five Boyer Lectures, The Challenge of Technology, which will be aired on ABC Radio National at 5pm tomorrow, Mr Murdoch says people should stop whingeing about the challenge of new technology and “get out in front of it”.

He says new technology, such as the internet, is destroying business models that have been used for decades, particularly those with a “one size fits all” approach to their customers.

The US television networks are finding their audiences shrinking every day, he says. “People suddenly have a growing multitude of choices — and they are rightly exercising those choices,” Mr Murdoch says.

Read it all..

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Blogging & the Internet, Economy, Science & Technology

Claude Knobler: Life Is Wonderfully Ridiculous

When I was 18, a friend asked if I’d like a job delivering singing telegrams in Manhattan while dressed as a gorilla. It wasn’t anything I ever expected to do, but I was unemployed and the gorilla mask muffled my lack of singing ability. So I took the job.

Soon after, I heard about another job, this time at the Empire State Building entertaining tourists by posing as King Kong. As one of the few applicants with prior gorilla experience, I was a shoo-in. When the summer ended and it got too cold to be on the observation deck, even while wearing a gorilla suit, another friend asked if I’d like to be a private detective. I said, “Yes, ever since I was 6.”

Somewhere between the gorilla suits and getting hired to work as an actual private eye, I realized something about myself: I believe in the ridiculous.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Bishop Harold Daniel returns to lead Church Army International

The Bishop of Mandeville in the Diocese of Jamaica, the Rt. Revd Harold Daniel, and who is himself a former Church Army Evangelist, has been appointed Chairman of the Council of Church Army International. He takes over from Mr Roy Totten from Northern Ireland.

Bishop Daniel who is married to the Revd Canon Judith Daniel grew up in Montserrat and moved to England as a young man living and worshipping in North London. It was from there that he responded to a call to serve God as an Evangelist in Church Army. He trained at the organisations college which was at that time in Central London. He had hoped that it might be possible to return to his home country of Montserrat. However following his training he was sent to work with Church Army Jamaica and he has remained in that country ever since.

Bishop Daniel spent eighteen years serving as a Church Army Evangelist in Jamaica working in various parishes, and also as the Diocesan Youth Evangelist. Following ordination he served in a number of parishes in the Kingston and Montego Bay areas. He was elected Suffragan Bishop of Mandeville eight years ago.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Latest News, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

Hillary Clinton to accept Obama's offer of Secretary of State job

Hillary Clinton plans to accept the job of secretary of state offered by Barack Obama, who is reaching out to former rivals to build a broad coalition administration, the Guardian has learned.

Obama’s advisers have begun looking into Bill Clinton’s foundation, which distributes millions of dollars to Africa to help with development, to ensure that there is no conflict of interest. But Democrats do not believe that the vetting is likely to be a problem.

Clinton would be well placed to become the country’s dominant voice in foreign affairs, replacing Condoleezza Rice. Since being elected senator for New York, she has specialised in foreign affairs and defence. Although she supported the war in Iraq, she and Obama basically agree on a withdrawal of American troops.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Globalization, Politics in General, US Presidential Election 2008

A Fort Worth Post Convention Press Conference Transcript

[Bishop Godfrey]…Lambeth 1998 was my second Lambeth Conference. We passed Lambeth Resolution I.10 by an overwhelming margin of bishops from around the world. The Episcopal bishops from your country said they were going to ordain and marry gays anyway. Why not just tell us that they don’t care what we think? The bishops from my continent thought this behavior was appalling.

We believe we must consult each other and act more like a family. Submit to common discernment. TEC’s behavior is scandalous. Now, I suppose, Bishop Iker will be deposed by supposed adherence to canon law. Its scandalous.

Bishop Iker: Bishop Wantland, would you like to make a statement?

Bishop Wantland: Yes, I would. My father had a phrase: “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. When in doubt, don’t.” I used that phrase all the time when I was a practicing lawyer and judge. The problem that led us to this point is not just a problem for TEC or the Anglican Communion. It is those who want to impose their will on others. It seriously concerns me that our House of Bishops has disregarded our own canons with regard to deposition.

Bishop Iker: Judy would you like to make a statement? [Judy is a member of the Standing Cmte, beginning her third year.]

Yes, I would. I want to state how hard the many members of the Standing Committee and members of the Bishop’s staff have listened to each parish in this diocese. We made a plan with the Diocese of Dallas for temporary oversight of those parishes that do not want to come with us to the Southern Cone. That plan was rejected by the national church. I feel real excitement in going forward. God is with us and will guide us. It is good to get to this point with the decision behind us. Now is the time to move forward. It may be difficult for a while. To those who choose to go another way, we will say “God Speed.” The new Province will be good, but there is sadness to it, too. It is sad to know that we tried to work with the General Convention and TEC and gotten to the point that each is traveling on two roads that do not converge. We need to be honest about that. Our differences are real and substantial.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

"As We Realign"–A Statement Distributed Yesterday within the Diocese of Fort Worth

Our 26th annual convention has taken action to secure our future as a diocese.

During the Nov. 14 & 15 diocesan convention, your clergy and elected delegates have taken a stand as faithful members of the worldwide Anglican Communion. They have heeded the call to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” (Jude 3)

What has changed?

By voting to change our diocesan Constitution and Canons, we have withdrawn from the General Convention, dissociating ourselves from the moral, theological, and disciplinary innovations of The Episcopal Church. We have realigned with another Province of the Anglican Communion. This is a change in affiliation, not a change in worship or doctrine.

Our Bishop, clergy, and congregations have been received into the fellowship of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. We are deeply grateful to Archbishop Gregory Venables for this provision, which he has made on temporary and emergency basis, in response to the crisis in The Episcopal Church. We now look forward to the formation of an Anglican Province in North America.

Where we stand….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Anglican Leaders Seek to Unite North American Churches

Leaders of the Common Cause Partnership, a federation of more than 100,000 Anglican Christians in North America, will release to the public on the evening of Dec. 3 the draft constitution of an emerging Anglican Church in North America, formally subscribe to the Jerusalem Declaration of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) and affirm the GAFCON Statement on the Global Anglican Future at an evening worship celebration in suburban Chicago.

This historic event comes in the wake of GAFCON held in Israel last June with leaders from more than one-half of the world’s 77 million Anglicans. At the close of that gathering, Anglican leaders released the Jerusalem Declaration and the GAFCON Statement on the Global Anglican Future, which outlined their Christian beliefs and goals to reform, heal and revitalize the Anglican Communion worldwide.

“One conclusion of the Global Anglican Future Conference held in Jerusalem last June was that the time for the recognition of a new Anglican body in North America had arrived,” observed Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, moderator of Common Cause Partnership. “The public release of our draft constitution is an important concrete step toward the goal of a biblical, missionary and united Anglican Church in North America.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Common Cause Partnership, GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates