Daily Archives: July 22, 2009

Canon Neal Michell (Dallas): Reflections on GC 2009

Well, that’s about it for the positives. The rest looks pretty grim””and, by the way, it’s not all about sex. Let’s get sex out of the way first, because TEC has more problems than just the conflict over sexuality.

1. Widening Gap Between TEC and the Anglican Communion. The most commented on actions coming out of the Anaheim General Convention has to do with the declarations that discernment for all levels of ordained ministry is open to gay and lesbian persons. Although many have and will argue””specifically, the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies””that the moratorium on consenting to the election of a bishop in a same sex union has not been repealed, both the rationale given for the proposed legislation, and the floor debate accompanying said legislation (“D025”) reveals that the intent of the General Convention legislation was to hold the self-restraint as called for in 2006 (“B033”) as no longer binding on the bishops. It must be added that the abrogation of B033 was stated gently, respectfully, and graciously, but the intent of both houses of Deputies and Bishops was to abrogate B033. To interpret D025 otherwise stretches the bounds of credulity. The result at the Communion level will be that the rift between TEC and the vast majority of the Anglican Communion (save for Canada and a number of individual dioceses) has now widened even more considerably, and the likelihood of some form of Communion discipline of TEC is increased.

The Episcopal Church through General Convention also authorized the development of liturgical resources for the blessing of same sex unions to be presented to the 2012 General Convention (C061). Those who want TEC to remain a “constituent member of the Anglican Communion” will argue that no official rites were thereby authorized; it is equally clear through the floor debate on C061 as well as the statement in C056 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.” Again, signal that TEC would move forward on the blessing of same sex unions wase given gently, respectfully, and graciously, but the intent was to move TEC beyond the constraints of the second moratorium requested by the primates in the Windsor Report family of requests. (There is one other problem facing TEC that comes from the sexuality decisions of General Convention in Anaheim. We will deal with that issue later in section 5 below.

However, the problems in TEC expressed through the decisions of General Convention in Anaheim run deeper than the sexuality issues….

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

Bishop Peter Lee (Virginia) on General Convention 2009

From here:

Dear Friends,

The most lasting impact of the 76th General Convention is likely to be an increase of initiative and energy in local congregations and dioceses. The sharp budget cuts in the three-year budget of the General Church will have a painful impact on some faithful staff members, but will shift the focus for mission to the local church, rather than the local church waiting for initiatives from the General Church.

The emphasis on local ministry is a proper expression of the principle of subsidiarity, whereby mission should occur at the level closest to the people who are called to engage in that mission.

Local mission is also enhanced by resolutions which the secular press has incorrectly interpreted as necessarily damaging our worldwide relationship and as following the agenda of a gay and lesbian lobby. Instead, what the Convention did is to reaffirm that the ordination process is under the control of local bishops and dioceses, while stressing that access to that process is open to all baptized persons.

The Convention also invited local churches and dioceses (as well as churches elsewhere in the Communion) to collect liturgical and theological resources regarding same-gender blessings. Recognizing the unique pastoral needs of those dioceses in jurisdictions where same-gender marriage or civil partnerships are legal, the Convention affirmed that a generous pastoral response is needed.

The emphasis on the local did not deter the Convention from adopting both a denominational health plan for the whole Church and a mandatory lay employee pension plan, both of which, in the long run, will strengthen the local church.

Faithfully yours,

–(The Rt. Rev.) Peter James Lee is Bishop of Virginia

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

Kendall Harmon and Jeff Walton interviewed About General Convention 2009

Listen to it all (segment starts 20 minutes in and goes just under 8 minutes).

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

Church Times: Noncelibate Gay bishops more likely after US passes ”˜nuanced’ motion

THE General Convention of the US Episcopal Church this week appeared to signal an end to its moratorium on the consecration of people in same-sex relationships.

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

Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans: A church divided by belief

Several African archbishops have severed ties with the American church over issues of sexuality, and more may follow. In the United States, many conservatives have defected. Some have formed a theologically conservative group called the Anglican Church in North America, which does not allow women bishops or sexually active gay clergy.

Resoundingly rejecting calls for restraint by global church leaders – including Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury – American church leaders voted to end a moratorium on consecrating openly gay bishops. (The church allowed the consecration of its first such bishop in 2003.) The General Convention also authorized a commission to develop rites for blessing same-sex couples.

The move to further liberalize the American church seemed strangely defiant, especially amid membership and budgetary troubles. It may now be more difficult for President Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori to defend her opposition to the Anglican Church in North America’s bid for full-fledged membership in the Anglican Communion.

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

Religious Intelligence: American dioceses allowed to create same-sex blessing rites

An amendment was proposed seeking to restrict the “generous pastoral provision” clause to dioceses located only in those states that had adopted gay marriage laws. However, objections were raised, with the Bishop of San Diego arguing “pastoral generosity is not related to geography.”

The Bishop of Western Kansas asked Bishop [Wayne] Smith if pastoral generosity included liturgical blessings. Bishop Smith replied the Committee had considered adding a specific provision for liturgies, but believed it best not to enumerate the forms pastoral generosity might take.

“Liturgies could be included” within the meaning of the resolution, but would not be named, he said.

The “reality of marriage of same gender couples is coming to you soon,” Bishop Robinson argued, adding that he was uncomfortable with the conditional language of the resolution, believing all bishops must allow the blessings. The word ”˜may’, “implies a bishop might not do so,” he said, adding that “I would argue that all of us are about providing generous pastoral responses.”

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

Robert Duncan Writes an Open Letter to the Anglican Communion

Two Cities: One Choice

An Open Letter to the Anglican Communion

Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There are times in the history of God’s people when the prevailing values and behaviors of those then in control of rival cities symbolizes a choice to be made by all of God’s people. For Anglicans such a moment has certainly arrived. The cities symbolizing the present choice are Bedford, Texas, and Anaheim, California. In the last month, the contrasting behaviors and values of the religious leaders who met in these two small cities made each a symbol of Anglicanism’s inescapable choice.

Jerusalem and Babylon come to mind as the Scriptural cities which are enduring symbols of choices to be made by God’s people, and of what can happen when God’s people make a choice for something other than God’s Way, God’s Truth, God’s Life, as set out in God’s Covenant, whether Old or New.

Charles Dickens contrasts London and Paris in the last quarter of the 18th Century in his Tale of Two Cities. Both cities are in crisis, but one operates from received values and behaviors, while the other attempts to re-make the world to its own revolutionary tastes.

St. Augustine of Hippo in his De Civitate Dei contrasts the City of God and the City of the World, explaining the fate of Rome in terms of the favor that comes from conforming to the behaviors and values of the Heavenly City as over against the Earthly City.

The Anglican Church in North America, whose leaders met at Bedford, Texas, from June 20th to June 25th, embraced the values and behaviors familiar to Christians in every age: daily repenting of human sin in disobeying the one Lord, embracing the need (both personal and corporate) of a divine Savior, and recommitting to the proclamation in word and deed of the gospel of transforming love. The unity at Bedford, despite very real differences, was palpable.

The Episcopal Church, whose leaders met at Anaheim, California, from July 8th to 17th, blessed the values and behaviors of a re-defined Christianity: enabling a revisionist anthropology, budgeting litigation rather than evangelism, and confusing received understandings of Scriptural truth, not least concerning the necessity of individual salvation in Christ Jesus. At Anaheim, there were those who valiantly stood against the revolutionary majority, and their pain and grief at what was happening was heartbreaking for all who saw it, not least for their brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church in North America.

The North American poet, Robert Frost, once wrote: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the road less traveled by. That has made all the difference.” For Anglican Christians, for the Instruments of Unity (Communion), for interdependent Provinces, for ordinary believers, there is a choice to be made. The choice is between two religions, two roads, two cities, two sets of conflicting values and behaviors. In Deuteronomy, chapter 30, Moses sets the choice as between blessing and curse, life and death. For contemporary Anglicanism the present choice is this stark.

I write this humbly and as a sinner. I also write it as one whose hope is in Christ alone, and with deepest love for all for whom He died and rose again.

The letter is signed this way:

Faithfully and Obediently,

The Most Reverend Robert William Duncan, D.D.
Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America
Anglican Bishop of Pittsburgh

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

The Bishop of Mississippi Writes About General Convention 2009

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

Letter from the Communion Partners to the Archbishop of Canterbury

We do not concur with any action taken that would be interpreted by the larger Communion as divisive, dismissive of our larger Anglican Communion or schismatic. The outgrowth of the decisions of the General Convention has yet to be ultimately determined as to its impact on our common bonds of affection that we should all share, and honor, as part of the worldwide Anglican family.

Some will clearly share the assessment of His Grace, Bishop N.T. Wright that The Episcopal Church has, by its most recent actions, chosen to “walk apart.” It would be our hope that if you share that assessment, that you would also share Bishop’s Wright’s counsel to “”¦not forget the ”˜Communion Partner’ bishops, who doggedly loyal to their church, and to the Windsor Report as expressing the mind of the wider Communion, voted against the current resolution. Nor should we forget the many parishes within revisionist dioceses (and, for that matter, worshippers within revisionists parishes) who take the same stance,” (The Times, 15 July, 2009). Again, let us categorically state, that we believe our ties to both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion must remain solid and unfettered by any action, resolution or statement that would in any way further tear the very fragile fabric that is now our Anglican family; and therefore would not support any such action, resolution or statement.

Lastly, we reaffirm our pledge of support for the unfolding Covenant process and it is our hope that Part IV of the Ridley Draft will soon be revisited and approved as a pathway for not simply Provinces, but Bishops, Dioceses and individual parishes to renew their commitment not only to the Anglican Communion, but to those vital pillars that in the end, draw us all together, rather than cause further division.

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

A Transcript of Bishop Mark Lawrence's Anglican TV Interview

As we’ve spread the Anglican understanding of Christianity around the world we’ve been slow to put into place structures that sufficiently govern the spread of Anglicanism. With the spread of the Internet and intercontinental travel, we find ourselves playing catch-up with the “flat world” and as we’re playing catch-up there’s those who want to hold on to old methodologies of government that just are not sufficient for the 21st century. My contention is that what we are in the midst of right now ”“ what is at stake ”“ is not just Anglicanism in North America; it is Anglicanism throughout the world.

I have not been and we in South Carolina do not see ourselves as somehow or another reforming the Episcopal Church. The landscape of Anglicanism is shifting all the time and this General Convention will shift it once again. What is at issue now is the survival of the Communion, and the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to transform people’s lives rather than the gospel of inclusivity that is also aggressively being spread. And so as I look at our role in the Diocese of South Carolina, we are to work for the shaping of Anglicanism in the 21st century, and we need to find and remain and stay in that place that will give us the most leverage in doing that.

In the domestic landscape you have two entities. You have TEC [The Episcopal Church] and the Anglican Church in Canada, which from my perspective is promulgating the gospel of inclusivity that would displace the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what we know of as the core doctrine of the Christian faith. That entity would export, or would like to export this uncatholic teaching about Christ and His Church. Then you have in ACNA, a confederation of people that (speaking for myself), I do not see a fullness of catholic ecclesiology there. There seem to be some groups that are so wedded to their personal identity (even though their personal identity may have only been around five or ten years) that there is a hesitancy to surrender that identity. So what we have almost is a codified (and I hate to use the word) schism that looks of prenuptial agreements: “I’ll enter into this but I’m not going to surrender myself fully to one another.” Thomas Brown described [them] centuries ago: Those who schism with others who lightly bond among themselves. What those in ACNA have to get over is that unwillingness for mutual accountability, surrender and responsibility.

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

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: 2009 Episcopal General Convention Report

ARCHBISHOP ROWAN WILLIAMS: Along with many in the Communion, I hope and pray that there won’t be decisions in the coming days that could push us further apart.

[KIM] LAWTON: Much of this week’s debate centered on balancing Communion concerns with a desire to move forward.

BISHOP GENE ROBINSON: I believe with my whole heart that we all know where this is going to wind up. It is going to wind up with the full inclusion of all of God’s children in God’s church.

BISHOP PETER BECKWITH: I would concede that if indeed that it is the right thing to do, we should do it now. I do not believe it is the right thing to do.

BISHOP NATHAN BAXTER: While I am very, very much concerned about our covenant with the Communion and our mission, I am also concerned about our covenant with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

BISHOP SHANNON JOHNSTON: The Communion, for me, is too much to lose. There is too much at stake with mission and our ability to apprehend larger, wider truths that go way beyond our own small church and setting in the Western world.

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