Daily Archives: July 20, 2009

Christianity Today: The New Remnant: Evangelical Episcopalians

So, the big question for conservatives is this: What is holding this remnant together?

The Left sees only conservative condemnations and what conservative evangelicals are against as the glue that can only hold the Right together for so long.

The Right, however, puts high hopes on the Anglican Convenant, evangelism, natural church growth, and liberal over-reach as elements that will give them the edge in the long haul.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

Bank 'walkaways' from foreclosed homes are a growing, troubling trend

Bank ‘walkaways’ from foreclosed homes are a growing, troubling trend

Renetta Atterberry thought she had lost her East 102nd Street house. So she was shocked to learn in January — five years after her mortgage company filed for foreclosure — that it was still in her name.

Worse, the long-vacant rental home had been vandalized and she faced a raft of housing code violations. Since then, she has been saddled with debts of about $12,000 to pay for demolition and back taxes.

“I thought I had nothing else to do with that home,” said Atterberry. “I was so embarrassed and humiliated by this.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

Still More from the Bishop of Alabama on General Convention 2009

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

The Dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent on General Convention 2009

Though I deeply sympathize with those who are wrestling with issues of human sexuality, and though we are all without exception equally sinful before God and our church will continue to welcome all people with loving and opened arms, I stand in solidarity with the teachings of the universal church that the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman as defined in the Bible is the standard set forth by God and that the ordained ministry should be confined to those who submit and adhere to this standard.

To be honest, I am neither shocked nor surprised by the events of General Convention 2009. Things have been working up to this for a long time. But now the die has been cast. No longer is The Episcopal Church “limping with two different opinions” (1 Kings 18:21). I would question the clear-mindedness of anyone who doesn’t see where the denomination is headed. The Episcopal Church continues, with increasing momentum, to depart from the teachings of the universal church and to “tear the fabric of the Anglican Communion at its deepest level.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

The Bishop of Texas on General Convention 2009

Both resolutions (DO25 and CO56) will, I am most certain, place strain on the Anglican Communion. Reactions I’ve received support this belief. However, we need to give the communion time to respond, and we need to listen to our Archbishop as he speaks to us about his thoughts and reflections on the events of General Convention.

My [no] votes represent where I believe the majority of our diocese is right now; though I know it does not reflect the totality of who we are as a community. Press releases, news stories, and magazine articles can never carry the fullness of that reality, nor can they capture my desire to be shepherd to all my sheep in the diocese.

We remain part of the Episcopal Church. That’s my stance. I also intend to maintain the same balance as Don Wimberly, that we also remain active, constituent, members of the Anglican Communion.

I am committed to the Windsor Report recommendations and process which include a moratoria on blessings and elections of partnered gay clergy to the office of bishop.

I am committed to the Covenant and a process.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

The Bishop of Northern Indiana on General Convention 2009

Dear brothers and sisters,

Thank you for the many expression of encouragement and prayer over the past two weeks. General Convention is a long, exhausting, and “stretching” experience, and your support has been both a blessing and a source of strength. The Latin term is sine qua non (without which not). In other words, I couldn’t do it without you and your prayers.

Your General Convention deputies – the Rev. Ben Jones, the Rev. Richard Lightsey, the Rev. Dan Martins, the Rev. Henry Randolph, the Rev. Carolyn Jones (who, as an alternate, replaced Fr. Richard during the last two days of Convention), Pam Harris, Charlotte Strowhorn, Christopher Wells, and Scott Wright – were a superb and prayerful team. It was a joy and a privilege for me to serve with them.

In my first report, written just before the opening gavel, I predicted that human sexuality would dominate General Convention’s deliberations. That turned out to be the case. Two questions were particularly pressing: Should we in some fashion overturn a resolution from the last Convention (B033) which asked for restraint in ordaining persons as bishops whose manner of life would pose a challenge to the unity of the Anglican Communion? And should we authorize liturgies for the blessing of same sex unions? These questions did not exist in isolation. The Anglican Communion itself – through the four Instruments of Communion (the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Lambeth Conference; the Anglican Consultative Council; and the Primates’ Meeting) – has asked the Episcopal Church to effect a moratorium in these areas until a new Anglican consensus emerges.
The debate surrounding these questions was both intense and respectful. Bishops and deputies listened carefully to one another as we struggled with painful and sometimes divisive issues in which no obvious middle way seemed possible. In the end, General Convention passed two resolutions regarding the questions before us.

Resolution D025 deals with the matter of ordination. While it does not directly repeal B033 from 2006, D025 clearly implies that the church has moved to a new place: “Resolved, That the 76th General Convention recognize that gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships [committed same-sex partnerships] have responded to God’s call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst; and be it further Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.” “Any ordained ministry” would include, of course, the ministry of bishops. I believe that this resolution in essence rejects one of the moratoria requested of us by the Anglican Communion. I do not believe that any other interpretation is possible from the plain sense of its words.

On the matter of the blessing of same-sex unions, General Convention also moved away from a Communion-requested moratorium on authorizing liturgies. Resolution C056 asks the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to “collect and develop theological and liturgical resources” for such blessings and “report to the 77th General Convention” in 2012. The resolution goes to say that “bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church.” In other words, as a kind of interim step until liturgies have been formally approved by General Convention, bishops may go ahead and authorize liturgical forms for the blessing of same-sex unions. Again, this resolution clearly steps away from a Communion-requested moratorium.

Both resolutions passed with overwhelming majorities (D025, with a margin of 99-45, with two abstentions; and C056, 104-30, also with two abstentions). In both cases, I voted with the minority. I did so with sadness. Gay and lesbian Christians are beloved members of our diocese, and I am grateful to be their chief pastor. I’m profoundly aware that my vote may be painful to many of them. And so, in explaining the reason for my vote, I must also – and rightly – reaffirm my love and care for them.

The Windsor Report, a 2004 document produced by the Lambeth Commission appointed at the request of the Primates, ends with these sober words: “There remains a very real danger that we will not choose to walk together” (Sec. 157). I am deeply concerned that the actions of the 76th General Convention may represent a significant step in that tragic direction. The Episcopal Church, at its highest decision-making level, has turned its back on the pleas of the Anglican Communion and has pressed forward when the Communion urges restraint.

Yet I write these sober words with a sense of hope. After the vote on C056, a group of bishops, about twelve of them, gathered to write a statement in which we could together affirm our dual commitment: to remain loyal members of the Episcopal Church, obedient to its constitution and canons; and to remain at the same time loyal members of the Anglican Communion, in communion with the historic See of Canterbury. Together we drafted the Anaheim Statement, and one of our number – Bishop Gary Lillibridge of West Texas – read it to the whole House of Bishops on behalf of all of us. Our statement was received by our colleagues, particularly those who had voted in favor of D025 and C056, with respect and appreciation. So far, about 34 bishops have joined us in signing the statement. I’ve appended it to the conclusion of this report.

Many bishops told me how grateful they are that those who oppose General Convention’s actions are willing to remain engaged and to make their convictions known. Perhaps the clarity achieved at this convention, as painful as it is for those on the minority side, will help us to speak with honesty and integrity to one another, and help us as well to find a way to honor the conscience of all. I am also hopeful that a way can be found, for those dioceses of the Episcopal Church which agree to the Communion’s requests, to remain in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Archbishop Rowan himself, in a letter written to Bishop John Howe in 2007, said: “Any Diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion, whatever may the longer-term result for others in The Episcopal Church. The organ of unity with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such.” The Diocese of Northern Indiana is on record as embracing the Windsor Report and the moratoria requested of us by the Instruments of Communion. Our commitment is to say Yes to the Episcopal Church and to sharing in its life and ministry – and Yes to the Anglican Communion and a Catholic vision of worldwide, interdependent life.

Clearly, General Convention did much more than deal with human sexuality and Anglican Communion issues. Among other things, we passed a canonical change that will inaugurate a churchwide health insurance plan. Up until now, each diocese has been left on its own to negotiate health insurance for clergy and lay employees. Because the pool of employees is thus small, costs have been staggering. By making the entire Episcopal Church a single unit, we hope to bring down the cost. This will not happen overnight; but the convention’s action is the first step to reversing a difficult trend.

Second, General Convention approved a sweeping revision of Title IV in the canons, the section dealing with clergy discipline. In essence, the new section provides a disciplinary process that has greater possibility of a pastoral (rather than simply a legal) response when, most painfully, discipline is required.

Third, General Convention passed a resolution calling for extensive outreach to our Spanish-speaking neighbors – outreach that would include both church planting and the strengthening of existing Hispanic congregations. Our own experience with St. Thomas’, Plymouth (la Iglesia de Santo Tomas) shows us that Episcopalians can indeed do fruitful evangelistic work among Hispanics, and I am excited that the the church on a national level will be making this an important priority.

Fourth, General Convention wrestled with a significant shortfall in the Episcopal Church’s budget for the next triennium – about $23,000,000 less than what was received in the previous three years. Programs have been drastically cut, many positions eliminated at the Episcopal Church Center in New York, and a general belt-tightening is required at all levels. The Joint Committee on Program, Budget, and Finance did heroic work throughout convention in dealing with these difficult realities.

During August and early September, your General Convention deputies and I will be holding a series of regional meetings around the diocese, to give you a chance to hear from us and to ask questions. As soon as the details of those meetings have been worked out, we’ll place the information on this website. Meanwhile, please join with me in praying for the church:

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one god, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP, p. 528)

–The Rt. Rev. Edward Little is Bishop of Northern Indiana

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, TEC Bishops

Stephen Noll Responds to Bishop of Durham Tom Wright's article in the (London) Times

As for Bp. Wright’s concern about Anglican Church in North America, I am sure, knowing the Anglican Communion hierarchy, that there will be no rush to enfranchise ACNA or disenfranchise the Communion Partners remaining in TEC. But is it too much to ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to reaffirm the Primates’ call at Dar es Salaam for the cessation on lawsuits for all orthodox in TEC and ACNA on threat of immediately withdrawing his recognition?

The big question for the days ahead is whether the two streams of the orthodox movement ”“ which had coalesced in the Anglican Communion Network in North America and the Global South coalition ”“ will begin to come together again. I believe their reunion, not at first political but spiritual and practical, is devoutly to be wished.

Let me point out two positive indicators for why this can happen….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

The Rector of Christ Church San Antonio Writes His Parish

The 76th General Convention meeting in Anaheim, CA has just ended. If you have followed the actions of this Convention on our diocesan website or on other sites you know that The Episcopal Church (TEC) has traveled much farther down the road of theological innovation. In a move at the end of the Convention to save some hope, Bishop Lillibridge and others presented to the bishops the “Anaheim Statement” that attempts to hold those dioceses to some Anglican Communion norms (link below). But what Bishop MacNaughton wrote in 1995 has proven to be prophetic: within TEC there are two churches: one determined to remain faithful to mainstream biblical Christianity, the other determined to follow new theologies and understandings. Churches like Christ Church are now a distinct minority as evidenced in some of the big stories of this General Convention:

Presiding Bishop Schori in her opening sermon remarkably blamed the current crises on “the great Western heresy ”“ that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God.” She went on to say, “That individualist focus is a form of idolatry.”

In spite of a passionate plea against its passage from the Archbishop of Canterbury, a resolution was passed with overwhelming support of lay, clergy and bishops that effectively ends the 2006 General Convention’s moratorium on non-celibate gay bishops in the church. Our bishops both voted against this resolution. Bishop Lillibridge said on the diocesan website that Resolution D025 “accurately reflects where we are as a Church. If it is descriptive, I am in favor of it. But if it is proscriptive, telling me what I can and cannot do as a bishop, that’s an entirely different thing for me.” This resolution makes official what is already the practice in the church, that every bishop and diocese will do whatever they choose in these matters. After the vote, English Bishop Tom Wright (Durham) said, “The Americans know this will end in schism” (link below).
The House of Deputies voted to accept the recommendation of the Evangelism Committee to “discharge” (i.e. kill) Resolution C069 that affirms the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in a multi-faith world. The same resolution proposed and passed in the Church of England’s Synod earlier this year.

The church cannot discriminate against persons who seek ordination in TEC because they are transgender, transsexual or transvestite, according to Resolution C001.
Episcopalians must now work against “Defense of Marriage” statutes or constitutional amendments that come before their states, according to Resolution C023.

TEC will now collect and develop rites for same-sex blessings before the next General Convention in 2011, and in the meantime each bishop will decide whether or not same-sex blessings will be sanctioned in their diocese (Resolution C056). It is one thing to look the other way while renegade bishops allow same-sex blessings and an altogether new thing when the church officially allows them. To sanction this in our prayers is to endorse this as official theology. 104 bishops voted “yes,” 30 voted “no.” Our bishops both voted against this resolution.

The House of Deputies declined to concur with the House of Bishops on a resolution sponsored by the Diocese of West Texas (C067) asking the National Office to disclose the amount of money spent by their office suing churches and dioceses who have left TEC. Last count TEC has recently initiated 57 law suits and it is anyone’s guess how much has been spent on legal costs.

The two churches within TEC were very evident at General Convention with conservatives outnumbered 2 to 1. Even in our own diocesan delegation several deputies commented about how there was not always unity on the issues. For example, while our bishop expressed sadness over the battles fought and lost, our Diocesan Chancellor and alternate deputy to Convention, Drew Cauthorn, blogging on our diocesan website about his experience in Anaheim, is elated with the experience of General Convention. He wrote, “I am encouraged by the passage of D025 and hope the House of Deputies will concur with the House of Bishops in the passage of C056, which move The Episcopal Church closer to the inclusion of all persons to full participation in all aspects of ministry and closer to the blessing of committed relationships of enduring love, mutuality and fidelity.”

Several months ago I asked Bishop Lillibridge to come to our August vestry meeting to report and to answer questions. He has graciously agreed to come Tuesday, August 18, 5:00 PM in the Parish Hall. All meetings of the vestry are open to anyone interested in attending, and I hope you will come if you are interested in hearing from our bishop.

Here are several questions that I hope he will answer:

Is there room in the Diocese of West Texas for a rector (church) that does not support the enactments of General Convention or the Presiding Bishop?

Is there room in the Diocese of West Texas for a rector (church) who cannot call good what the Bible calls sin ”“ who will offer partnered gays and lesbians what he offers all sinners, all parishioners: nonjudgmental love, friendship, encouragement in Christ, AND the gospel of repentance, forgiveness, amendment of life, and God’s healing?

We have declared ourselves a Windsor diocese, and the Windsor Report calls us to adhere to traditional sexual morals (Lambeth 1.10) and calls for a moratorium on ordinations of non-celibate homosexuals and the practice of blessing same-sex couples. This obviously puts us at odds with the majority of Episcopalians, and in complete agreement with those in other Anglican jurisdictions in the United States. Will Christ Church be allowed to work in mission and ministry with Windsor-compliant churches from other Anglican provinces, including being able to call clergy who currently serve in those provinces?

I love the breadth and generosity of our heritage, but I don’t love how TEC has lost its salt and connection to historic Anglicanism. The wider Anglican Communion accepts the Bible as uniquely inspired by God and is our primary authority, while encouraging each member to wrestle with Holy Scriptures for themselves ”“ I love that! It proclaims that we are justified by faith by God’s grace, but allows for diversity and wideness in God’s mercy ”“ I love that! It respects other religions while holding fast to the belief that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, and no one comes to the Father except through him ”“ I love it! Where gays and lesbians are welcome as everyone is welcome ”“ I love that! That treats sin seriously as a pastoral matter, not as a bludgeon ”“ I particularly love that! This is the fabric of our life together at Christ Church and the core values that attracted me to join you in ministry eight years ago. These commitments continue to make Christ Church an extraordinary church and will into the future. I can’t help but wonder, though, will there ever be a day when we can focus on reaching more people for Jesus Christ, and worshipping in the beauty of holiness, and growing in our love for one another, without the weight of a deviant denomination on our shoulder?

–The Rev. Chuck Collins is rector, Christ Church, San Antonio, Texas

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

Anglican TV Interviews Albany Bishop Bill Love

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention

Health Care Cost, access plague South Carolina Residents

Adrienne Sellers thought she made the right choice when she quit her job in Charleston and moved to Atlanta temporarily to help raise her grandchildren after her daughter was in a bad car accident. What Sellers didn’t anticipate was the way her own medical problem would devastate her life.

In December 2008, Sellers was just settling back into life on the peninsula after eight months away when a doctor told her the unbearable pain she felt was from a prolapsed uterus and a subsequent infection ”” and she’d better get surgery quick.

Sellers had a solid work history, but her health care coverage had lapsed while she was caring for her family and she didn’t have the money to pay for the expensive operation.

She is one of the hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians without health care coverage, a number that grows by 670 people each week. Depending on the estimate, roughly one out of every six South Carolinians does not have insurance.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Health & Medicine