Category : — Statements & Letters: Bishops

Bishops' Statements: 40 down, 60 to go

As will be evident in this morning’s entries (see the next 3 posts below), we’re catching up on posting a batch of additional bishops’ responses to the New Orleans’ statement. Some of these statements are fairly new, some have been mouldering in our inbox for awhile. T19 and / or Stand Firm have now posted either excerpts or the full text to 40 bishops / dioceses’ statements.

Note: BabyBlue has posted a list of statements we compiled last night. These are all the statements we’ve seen so far. (A total of 40 dioceses). So you can easily see what we’re missing!

If your bishop has made a statement and it’s not yet been posted, please e-mail us the text or the link: T19elves@yahoo.com

Thanks to all who are sending in such helpful links. Keep ’em coming.

Posted in * Admin, * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Other Bishops' Statement Quotes and links

A few excerpts from various bishops’ statements which haven’t yet been posted here. They are in no particular order and range quite widely in content. To view the full statements by each bishop quoted below, in most cases, just click on the name of the diocese.

+John Howard of Florida

I believe firmly that the Episcopal Church must be “true to itself.” It must honor its own nature and traditions in order to be an effective leader in this country, in the Anglican Communion, and in the world. [”¦] We affirmed our commitment not to adopt any rite or service for the blessing of same-sex unions, even though we acknowledged that in a relatively small handful of dioceses some priests are performing such services without an official liturgy and as a purely pastoral matter. This is, of course, not the case in the Diocese of Florida and will not be for so long as I am your bishop.

—————–

+Todd Ousley of Eastern Michigan

I believe that we have fully responded to the requests of the Primates and have demonstrated our intent to be faithful to the Windsor Process. Despite some media reports to the contrary, I believe the statement to be a significant step toward healing division within the Communion and a reaffirmation of The Episcopal Church’s commitment to justice and dignity for all people.

————–

+Chilton Knudson, Diocese of Maine:

In Maine, we are profoundly blessed by two realities: The ministries of gay and lesbian layfolk and clergy whom we cherish and support AND the ministries of people (lay and ordained) whose conscientious convictions cause them serious difficulty about the ministries of gay and lesbian folks in (at least) some aspects of our diocesan ministry. I pray we will always be an ANGLICAN diocese; a diocese which embraces and respects a great range of difference within the Body of Christ. My own personal, prayerful, position, has never been a secret: I believe that, by virtue of our baptism, God calls ALL of us into ministry and into all four orders of ministry (laypeople, deacon, priest and bishop). My position is unchanged.

Bp. Leo Frade of SE Florida has two statements here and here.

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church is paramount in our governance, and unlike other Provinces where bishops are regarded as close to Almighty God in authority, we are committed to a democratic and inclusive form of government for our church.

A central charism of our church is that we all can be different–and differ widely from each other in opinion and practice–but always we are able to find our union in the Eucharist. Our history shows us our ability to remain united in the midst of controversies like slavery, discrimination and racism, birth control, remarriage of divorced persons, Prayer Book revisions and women’s ordination.

But his pastoral letter and written “reflections” are much tamer than what he is reported to have told the Diocesan clergy at their clergy day shortly after the HoB meeting.

—————

+Mark Hollingsworth of Ohio:

In the letter that proceeded from our meeting in March of this year, we stated, “We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church.” You will see that these words are repeated near the end of this week’s response to our Communion partners. It is a specific charism of The Episcopal Church to advocate for the civil rights and leadership gifts of gay and lesbian persons, by both our words and our actions. This need not conflict with our uncompromised commitment to continued relationship within the Anglican Communion, rather it may be an essential and valuable part of it.

————–

Bp Michael Smith of North Dakota:

Specifically, the Primates requested that we “make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorize any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention.” In response we pledged “not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action.” We also noted that “the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions.”

————

+Carolyn Tanner Irish of Utah (Kendall already posted the news article in which this quote appears, but in the avalanche of news back then, it was easy for many to miss this statement, so I’m reposting it)

In the meantime, Bishop Irish said she will continue to bless same-sex unions, acknowledging that there are “all kinds” of restraints that she must follow to make those blessings happen. Those restraints include not doing the blessing during a Sunday service and making sure each person is a member of the church.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

+Persell of Chicago responds to New Orleans HoB Statement

In our statement””A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners””we were able to accommodate concerns of our more conservative members by reconfirming the charge of the 2006 General Convention (Resolution B033) for bishops and standing committees to “exercise restraint” in giving consent to episcopal elections in which the candidate’s lifestyle would pose a challenge to the wider church, and by acknowledging this charge applies to non-celibate gay and lesbian persons.In addition, we pledged not to authorize public rites of blessing for same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion.

Both of these declarations conflict with my understanding of an open and inclusive Church, a conviction that informed my vote against B033 in 2006 and one I reconfirmed in my message to our diocese following the Primates communiqué last February. However, from what I witnessed this past week in New Orleans, I realize these compromises are necessary at this point in our Communion’s discernment to ensure the fullest participation in our ongoing conversation. It is important to note that while our General Convention has acknowledged that blessings of same-sex unions have occurred in response to local pastoral needs, the Convention has never authorized the development of such rites. Our Church is likely to revisit both these matters at our next General Convention in 2009.

The full text is here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Bp. Rickel of the Diocese of Olympia's statement re: HoB meeting

The House of Bishops’ final statement, a response to the Dar es Salaam Communiqué and additional questions posed to the Episcopal Church, follows this letter. It is born out of much work, much challenge to one another and with a deep general conviction within the House of Bishops to remain deeply part of the Anglican Communion while at the same time being authentically who we are as part of that body in our context. We also wanted to claim where we have come thus far, believing our voice and our experience is of utmost importance to the life of the Anglican Communion and the Christian witness in the world. The House of Bishops is clear that we are not of one mind on many of these issues but we desire to remain a model for how differing views can in fact remain in conversation and yet still gather around one table. There was an overwhelming feeling that this is the true expression of Anglicanism and one we want to continue to live into.

The full text is here.

Note: Nothing in Bp. Rickel’s statement suggests he is in any way repudiating his earlier stated policy:

“Rickel says he is comfortable continuing Bishop Warner’s stance of letting individual priests decide whether to perform blessing ceremonies for same-sex unions.”

Seattle Times, Sept. 15, 2007

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

The Bishop of Hawaii's Letter re: the New Orleans HoB Statement

We encourage you to read this on the Diocese of Hawaii website, since Bp. Fitzpatrick intersperses his comments with the HoB statement — on the Hawaii site different colors are used making it easier to distinguish the original text and the bishop’s response. Here’s an excerpt:

While I believe that the blessing of same-sex unions is an important and right evolution in the life of Christ’s Church and I am formulating my own understanding of the topic for public teaching and critique, The Episcopal Church has not authorized such rites and we have no clear teaching (or even a mind of the House of Bishops preliminary report) on this matter. In keeping with this statement, I will therefore not authorize such public blessings of same-sex unions in the Diocese of Hawai`i and I formally ask the clergy of this Diocese to refrain from officiating in any liturgies in our churches that might be construed by the reasonable outside observer as a formal public “blessing” or “marriage” of a same-sex couple. As a Church in the catholic tradition, individual priests and vestries (or, in my mind, bishops and dioceses) have no authority to act unilaterally in such matters. We are not congregationalists or presbyterians. Our catholic heritage demands a broader action of a national church in consultation with the Communion worldwide (even if the local national church chooses to act on its own in keeping with its canons and governance). This part of the House of Bishops statement is a response, I think, to the need to have clearer teaching before acting. It is a fair statement of our Church at this time, though the limits for this Diocese noted above are my own.

The full text is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Notable and Quotable

Bishop John Bryson Chane said that the Diocese of Washington does not have an authorized rite for blessing same-sex relationships. However, he added that the statement passed by the bishops will allow such blessings to continue in the diocese.

From the front page of the latest Washington Window, a newsletter of the diocese of Washington. Could the degree of word games and the refusal to do what the Tanzania Communique asked for be any clearer?

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

The Bishop of Rochester speaks further on the Lambeth Conference

“Boycott is not a word that I used. The problem is that the Lambeth conference has been for 150 years where Bishops gather together to teach. That is the main reason for it – to exercise their office as teachers of the faith for the worldwide communion.

We have been told this time that this is not what it will do. So the question arises what is it for and will it be worthwhile since it is a hugely costly exercise. I am very happy to talk with people at any time that is mutually convenient. The Lambeth Conference is not just such an occasion. It is a meeting of bishops for particular purposes. There are churches and bishops who were requested, there were pleas to them by everyone from every quarter, not to do what the whole communion had said was contrary to God’s purpose. They went ahead and did it. Now the intention is to have those bishops at the Lambeth Conference and the person consecrated also. Under such circumstances, and as matters stand, I could not go. I do not want to single out Gene Robinson

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Lambeth 2008

A Statement from the Archbishop of Sydney on the Future of the Anglican Communion

The Next Twenty Years
for Anglican Christians

”˜Crisis’, ”˜schism’, ”˜division’, ”˜break-up’ ”“ this has been the language of the last five years in the Anglican Communion. Again and again we have reached ”˜defining moments’, ”˜crucial meetings’ and ”˜turning points’, only to discover that they simply lead into another period of uncertainty.

Uncertainty is now over. The decisive moments have passed. Irreversible actions have occurred. The time has come for sustained thought about a different future. The Anglican Communion will never be the same again. The Windsor process has failed, largely because it refused to grapple with the key issue of the truth. A new and more biblical vision is required to help biblically faithful Anglican churches survive and grow in the contemporary world.

Some have still set their hopes on the Lambeth Conference. But that is to misunderstand the significance of our time. It can no longer either unify Anglicanism or speak with authority. The invitations have gone to virtually all, and it is likely that some of those not invited will still attend as guests. There are faithful Anglican bishops who are not invited, and there are others who cannot be present in good conscience. The solemn words of the 1998 Conference were ignored by the American Church in 2003, and any authority which we may have ascribed to the deliberations of the Bishops has been lost permanently. Not surprisingly, Lambeth 2008 is not going to attempt a similar exercise in conciliar pronouncements. Why would it? There is no vision here.

The key defining moment on the liberal side was the consecration of Bishop Robinson of New Hampshire. At first it was hoped that this was a mere aberration, that it could be dealt with by returning to where we were. In fact it was a permanent action with permanent consequences. It truly expressed the heart-felt views of the greater part of the leadership of the American Episcopal Church. The only way in which steps can be retraced is by repudiating the action itself, a development impossible to contemplate. That was the year of decision for the American church, and the decision was made in the clear light of day. They knew what they were doing.
The American House of Bishops has now responded to the Primates. Many have seen in their pronouncements sufficient conformity to the request of the Primates to enable the Communion to continue on its way. I do not read their statement like that. I think that they have failed to meet the hopes of the Primates. But the significance of the document at this level hardly matters. The document taken as a whole makes the real issue abundantly clear. Sexual rights are gospel.

The Americans are firmly committed to the view that the practice of homosexual sex in a long term relationship is morally acceptable. Not only is it acceptable, it is demanded by the gospel itself that we endorse this lifestyle as Christian. They are prepared to wait for a short time while the rest of the Communion catches up. But they do not intend to reverse their decisions about this and they do intend to proclaim this message wherever possible. They want to persuade us that they are right, and that the rest of us should embrace this development. Here is a missionary faith.

The biblical conservatives and their allies in Africa and Asia knew this. They did not need to wait for the House of Bishops. They took irreversible steps to secure the future of some of the biblical Anglicans in North America. I say ”˜some’, because it is often forgotten that faithful Canadian Anglicans are living in a Diocese where the blessing of same sex unions is diocesan policy. What if TEC has been judged to conform to the Primates wishes? The Diocese of New Westminster certainly has not. What is to be done for the orthodox in that Diocese? What will happen if British Anglicans follow this route? This sort of question shows why a new vision and further action will be needed.

The response of the Primates has involved the provision of episcopal oversight. This, too, has changed the nature of the Anglican Communion. From now on there will inevitably be boundary crossing and the days of sacrosanct diocesan boundaries are over. Anglican episcopacy now includes overlapping jurisdictions and personal rather than merely geographical oversight. If the sexual revolution becomes more broadly accepted elsewhere, so other Bishops will be appointed as they have been in the USA. This is the new fact of Anglican polity. How are these developments going to be incorporated into world-Anglicanism? What future should we be thinking of? Where is our vision for them? Hand-wringing is not the answer.

The aim of the Archbishop of Canterbury was to retain the highest level of fellowship in the Communion. He believed that truth will be found in communion, in inclusion rather than exclusion. From his point of view, an extended passage of time is vital. What matters for the Archbishop is not this Lambeth, but the next one and the one after that. Will those who have initiated this novelty relent and give up their commitments? Or will the objectors tire of their fuss and concede the point? Since the likelihood of the American church repenting of its action is remote, the hope must be that those who now protest will eventually weary of their protest and learn to live with the novelty of active gay bishops.

The Archbishop has revealed his hopes through a lecture on biblical interpretation, ”˜The Bible Today: Reading and Hearing’. delivered in Canada in April 2007. In this lecture he addresses the very heart of the controversy, by challenging conservative interpretations of Romans 1 and John 14, and thus raising the issues of interpretation, human sexuality and the uniqueness of Christ as Mediator. He has signalled the importance of hermeneutics for our future. His lecture shows that there is an unavoidable contest about the meaning of the Bible in these crucial areas ahead of us. It is a challenge which must be met at a theological level. We may think that this whole business is about politics and border-crossing and ultimatums and conferences, but in fact it is about theology and especially the authority and interpretation of Scripture.

That leads to this fundamental conclusion. Those who believe that the American development is wrong must also plan for the next decades, not the next few months. There is every reason to think that the Western view of sexuality will eventually permeate other parts of the world. After all, it has done so spectacularly in the West, and the modern communication revolution has opened the way for everyone to be aware of what happens in New York, London, San Francisco and Brighton.

Thus the question before the biblically orthodox in the Communion is this: what new vision of the Anglican Communion should we embrace? Where should it be in the next twenty years? How can we ensure that the word of God rules our lives? How are we going to guard ourselves effectively against the sexual agenda of the West and begin to turn back the tide of Western liberalism? What theological education must we have? How can we now best network with each other? Who is going to care for Episcopalians in other western provinces who are going to be objecting to the official acceptance of non-biblical practices? The need for high level discussion of these issues is urgent.

As an initial step I look to the Global South leadership to call for another ”˜Blast of the Trumpet.’ The ensuing consultation must start with the reality of where we are now, and look steadfastly to a future in which the bonds of Communion have been permanently loosened. It has to strengthen the fellowship by which churches will help each other to guard their theological good health while engaging together with the task of preaching the gospel to an unbelieving world.

In any case, the basic issue is no longer how can the communion be kept together. It is, within the Communion as it has now become, how can biblical Anglicans help each other survive and mission effectively in the contemporary world? The Africans have shown a commendable concern for this very issue and taken steps to assist the western church. They have recognised that the gospel sometimes divides and sometimes requires new and startling initatives. We must now all take the actions and do the thinking required to safeguard biblical truth, not merely in the West but throughout the Anglican world. To fail here, will be to waste the time and effort which has brought us to this fateful hour.

–Dr. Peter Jensen is the Archbishop of Sydney

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces

The Bishop of Pennsylvania on the New Orleans House of Bishops Meeting

Why I Voted No

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.
(Robert Frost, “Mending Wall”)

He is our peace, making both groups into one and
destroying the barrier formed by the dividing wall,
the hostility between us. (Ephesians 2:14)

You may have read that in New Orleans on September 25 there was one vote opposed to the adoption of “A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners,” the House of Bishops’ reply to the demands made of the Episcopal Church by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in their February 19 communiqué from Dar es Salaam. That vote was mine. Let me explain.
Like others, I am deeply concerned about, and committed to, the unity of the Anglican Communion and, beyond it, that of the church catholic and ecumenical; the Body of Christ.
But the unity of the Anglican Communion is not based on the uniformity of its thirty-eight provinces, each of which brings to the whole the unique gift of who it is under the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We, the Episcopal Church, are not today what we used to be, nor are we what we may be tomorrow.
Today, however, we are a church that endeavors to honor each individual for who she or he is, recognizing that, among other gifts, some are by nature gay or lesbian in their sexual orientation and, furthermore, should be as free as straight persons to make, with the church’s blessing, a life-long commitment of their lives to another.
In this belief, at the 2006 General Convention, I was one of sixteen bishops who voted against Resolution B033 calling upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees “to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.”
Howsoever diffuse a connotation may have attended the language of “restraint” then, its meaning was tightened on September 25 when the House of Bishops concurred “with Resolution EC011 of the Executive Council, commending the Report of the Communion Sub-Group of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion as an accurate evaluation of Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention.”
The Sub-Group had noted that “by requiring that the restraint must be expressed in a particular way ”“ ”˜by not consenting ”¦’, the resolution is calling for a precise response, which complies with the force of the recommendation of the Windsor Report” ”“ the finding of the Lambeth Commission on Communion published October 18, 2004, in response to problems stemming from the reaction of conservatives to the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire. The group also noted “that while the Windsor Report restricted its recommendation to candidates for the episcopate who were living in a same gender union, the resolution at General Convention widened this stricture to apply to a range of lifestyles which present a wider challenge. The group welcomed this widening of the principle, which was also recommended by the Windsor Report, and commends it to the Communion.”
When, on September 25, the House of Bishops adopted this interpretation of B033 and affirmed that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains, knowing that resolutions are recommendatory, not canonically mandatory, and that therefore compliance is voluntary, I honestly could not promise I would not consent to the election of a gay or lesbian priest to the episcopate.

–(The Rt. Rev.) Charles Bennison is Bishop of Pennsylvania
The House of Bishops went on to “pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. In the near future we hope to be able to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide listening process. In the meantime, it is important to note that no rite of blessing for persons living in same-sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. In addition to not having authorized liturgies, the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions.”
I am not party to that majority. Consequently, again because resolutions are recommendatory, not mandatory, and because I could not presume that our clergy would cease from asking me for allowances to bless the union of gay or lesbian couples, I did not feel that in honesty I could voluntarily promise I would deny (though I have on occasion) such requests. Usually, indeed, I have granted permission if the vestry supports the priest in what is proposed, the priest agrees to make the marriage public in the parish, the priest has carried out the usual marriage counseling, and if, in my judgment, the union will prove to be a blessing to the church and the wider community as it usually has long already been.
Because the Book of Common Prayer includes a rubric stating that “for special days of fasting or thanksgiving, appointed by civil of Church authority, and for other special occasions for which no service or prayer has been provided in this Book, the bishop may set forth such forms as are fitting to the occasion,” I provide our clergy with “A Rite of Commitment to a Life Together,” of which I was a co-author in 1996, and ask that they use it for the service.
Despite the bishops stated effort on September 25 to be “clear and outspoken in our shared commitment to establish and protect the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons, and to name and oppose at every turn any action or policy that does violence to them, encourages violence toward them, or violates their dignity as children of God,” and their articulated support of “the Archbishop of Canterbury in his expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference” (although, unlike the rest of us, he has not yet been invited), their mutual agreement to cease from consenting to the election of non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy to the episcopate and from allowing same-sex unions buttresses our society’s homophobia and heterosexism, and effects the very violence they sincerely deplore.
The “Response” equally encourages sexist violence against women by providing an alternative for bishops who refuse to welcome our duly-elected Presiding Bishop into their dioceses. While the Presiding Bishop was magnificent in her leadership of the New Orleans meeting, as she has been through her ministry as our primate this past year, I could not support her plan for episcopal visitors for dioceses that request alternative oversight, commended by the House of Bishops’ “Response,” any more than I could vote for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) several years ago as affirmed by the Windsor Report, which with the episcopal visitors’ plan is seen as being consistent.

The most theologically misconstrued and ultimately un-pastoral part of the “Response,” however, comes when, after rightly saying they “deplore incursions into our jurisdictions by uninvited bishops and call for them to end,” the bishops turn around and express their expectation that “the Presiding Bishop will continue conversation with those dioceses that may feel the need for” episcopal ministries other than those of their own bishops, and that she will seek “communion-wide consultation with respect to the pastoral needs of those seeking alternative oversight.” Such actions would, if they occurred, smack of incursions ”“ simply more softly and subtly made.

Before any of the four gospels was written, the Apostle Paul gave definition to “the gospel” of Christian theology over against the influential challenge of Gnostic thought.
Had Gnosticism won, the church would have become a club characterized by like-minded people. In the unlikely event such a church would have had bishops, their dioceses would have been made up of people who agreed with them ”“ about the role of women, the place of gay and lesbian persons, or any passing issue of the day. Their churches would have been homogeneous communities walled off from one another.

But just as the poet knew that “something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” Paul understood that in Jesus every “barrier formed by the dividing wall” has been broken down. As it happened, Pauline thought prevailed, making possible a church that would be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic ”“ a heterogeneous church made up of “all sorts and conditions,” a corpus mixtum united not by uniformity of thought or action or feeling, but ultimately and only by the love we know in Christ.

Afraid we may be walled off from the Anglican Communion, and the Communion from us, in New Orleans my beloved episcopal colleagues did not, as some have commented, simply describe where we are now as a church. They built higher and thicker walls. They diminished the rich meaning of the Anglican Communion. They undermined the catholicity of the church.

I voted no because I believe we Episcopalians should be who we are, howsoever unique we may be, and offer ourselves freely as our gift to the Communion. If the Communion cannot accept us as we are at present, we can still humbly offer other gifts others may receive ”“ our companion relationships, our hands-on labor, our financial support, our seminary training, and our daily prayers. Such strikes me as the kenotic approach of self-oblation, self-emptying, to which the gospel calls us.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

The Bishop of Northern Indiana on the House of Bishops Statement in New Orleans

Many are of course asking: Does the House of Bishops’ statement honor the primates’ specific requests? That isn’t completely clear. Cyberspace is already ablaze with radically different analyses of what the bishops said. My own assessment is that the House’s answer to the first question is a fairly unambiguous Yes, the answer to the second somewhat less so (particularly with the proviso concerning General Convention, and in the implication that some bishops do in fact authorize liturgies for same-sex unions). As a matter of full disclosure, I should say that I argued on the floor of the House for the removal of the implicit recognition (which, I fear, could be taken for approval) that some bishops authorize liturgies; but the consensus of the House moved in a different direction. Although I was not able to speak directly to the phrase “or until General Convention takes further action,” I would have preferred that those words had been removed as well: the matter of liturgies for the blessing of same-sex unions is one that should involve the whole Communion, and not just our own province.

In the end, however, I voted in favor of the bishops’ statement. It is not perfect; it could have been stronger and clearer, especially regarding the primates’ second request; yet it does, I think, move the church in a Communion-affirming direction, and demonstrate a willingness to discover more profoundly what it means to be interdependent members of a worldwide Christian family, linked together by our communion with the historic See of Canterbury. My colleagues across the theological spectrum showed remarkable charity toward one another as we crafted the statement phrase by phrase. The process was long, exhausting, and at times excruciating. While none of us can say that the statement contains everything that we would have wanted, I believe that it reflects many of my concerns, and I am able to support it with a good conscience and an open heart.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

The Bishop of Northern California on the New Orleans Bishops Statement and Meeting

From here:

Dear Friends in Christ:

I returned home last night from the week-long House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans . I have much to say about that meeting, including a description of the inspiring Katrina recovery work our church is engaged in there, and further thanks to you for your contributions to it. But space (and time) only permit me to say so much in this particular medium. So, please consider this Part I of my report. (Part II will come next week.)

First of all, I want to say how grateful I am for your prayers. I was pleased, along with all the bishops, to receive a beautiful “Prayer Shawl” made for us as a pledge of prayerful support by National Episcopal Health Ministries. It was a wonderful gift, and it reminded me not just of their prayers, but of yours. I know that many of you were praying for us. I certainly felt it. I am grateful.

If you have not yet read the HOB statement entitled “A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners,” I hope that you will do so. I also ask that copies be made available in all our congregations. The text of the statement can be found on the Episcopal News Service website: http://episcopalchurch.org/79901_90457_ENG_HTM.htm
It must be said: watch out for the media reports on this matter. Even a very able reporter for our own Episcopal News Service attributed words to me which I did not speak. (I addressed the House about the problem of incursions into our dioceses from extra-provincial bishops, and my comments were largely incorporated into the final version of the Response; the subsequent article quoted me speaking on General Convention Resolution B033, about which I said not a word!) It was an honest error, but it serves as a reminder to be very careful in taking in and responding to what we read””being most especially careful (as the Windsor Report reminds us to be) with on-line communications.

The passage of the Response was nearly unanimous””there was only one dissenting voice. As expected, people are interpreting that statement in various ways, largely reflecting their various interests. I spoke with one of the more conservative bishops in the airport on the way home yesterday, and I think his assessment is basically correct: “The center held. The center has grown larger and stronger.” I agree, and. as a self-described radical moderate, I find that trend to be very gratifying.

The Archbishop of Canterbury himself told us (corroborating what we heard last March) that the Primates’ Communiqué was not an ultimatum, and that September 30 was not a deadline. Several members of the Joint Standing Committee who were with us indicated their support and appreciation. (Nevertheless, “Demands Rejected” read one newspaper headline”¦.) No matter what you may read, the HOB Response is not a defiant rejection, but a candid description of our differences, a good faith commitment to the Windsor process, and a very positive expression of desire to continue working in partnership with all members of the Anglican Communion for the sake of our common mission.

Archbishop Akinola is said to be unhappy with our Response. That is no surprise, since he has already established 4 bishops for counter-TEC work in this country. No one thought for a moment that they would stand down, even if we had given everything he says he wants from us. It is clear, then, that mere appeasement is not an option. Instead, protecting the integrity of The Episcopal Church, we are seeking to work with the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates, and the Archbishop of Canterbury to be fully active and faithful participants in the Anglican Communion. The Joint Standing Committee has already indicated preliminary appreciation of our Response. They will meet and report to the Archbishop of Canterbury, perhaps as early as today or tomorrow; soon thereafter, we should be hearing some additional word from him.

Not all members of the House were happy with all aspects of the final Response, me included. But everyone present was listened to and valued. Everyone agreed to give something for the sake of our unity. Worship was central to our work, the serious work of building true community, and of being attentive to the guidance of the Spirit. We know that we cannot have common discernment if we do not have common prayer.

I remain committed to the Windsor Process as the best way forward for us. I remain committed to the full inclusion of all baptized Christians in the full life of the Church. These things you have heard from me before. I am pleased to report that there was ample room for me at the House of Bishops table. I am also pleased to tell you that the quality of leadership I am seeing in my fellow bishops and our Presiding Bishop is inspiring. I have great confidence in The Episcopal Church, and in the Diocese of Northern California.

Grace and peace to you all.

–(The Rt. Rev.) Barry Beisner is Bishop of Northern California

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Vermont Bishop voices support for same-sex unions

The leader of Episcopalians in Vermont stands by his church’s progressive treament of gay and lesbian couples in Vermont, despite opposition from conservatives in his denomination and an ambiguous national policy on the blessing of same-sex unions.

Thomas C. Ely, the Episcopal bishop of Vermont, played an active role in the recent meeting of the Episcopal House of Bishops that answered a communiqué by the Anglican Communion objecting to policies regarding gays and lesbians in the American church.

“Our church, the Episcopal Church, has continually spoken out and been an advocate for the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons in our culture, and certainly here in Vermont that’s key to our mission and ministry,” Ely said Sunday, during an interview at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Bennington, where he took part in the Cornerstone Centennial Celebration.

The Episcopal Church in the U.S. is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a fellowship of churches that trace their roots back to the Church of England. Over the past several decades, homosexuality has become a divisive issue, particularly with the election in 2003 of…[Gene] Robinson, a gay man in a relationship, to become bishop of New Hampshire. In addition, some Episcopal dioceses ”” including the Diocese of Vermont ”” permit the blessing of same-sex couples as a pastoral decision by clergy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

The Bishop of Arkansas on the New Orleans House of Bishops Meeting

Via Email:

Yesterday I returned from the House of Bishops meeting. It was a week that showed us the challenges that lie ahead and the hope that we Christians hold on to tenaciously, especially as our meeting was in New Orleans, a city that still shows very clearly the scars of Hurricane Katrina.

The work that the Episcopal Church continues to do in Louisiana and Mississippi in the aftermath of the hurricane should make you proud. Other churches were present in the days immediately following the storm, but the Episcopal Church continues its hard work two years later. Our people are still building houses, counseling the broken hearted, and establishing vital services for residents whose world has been turned upside down.

On Thursday evening, we gathered for worship and to receive an offering for our ongoing work in the two states devastated by Katrina. The presiding bishop asked each diocese to bring $10,000. We in Arkansas met the challenge from our emergency fund. When gifts from across the church were gathered, the total was almost $1 million.

Saturday the bishops and spouses fanned out across the city for a work day. Some people hung drywall, some painted, and some (including your bishop) planted community gardens to bring tangible signs of life to neighborhoods that so desperately need it. I was greatly moved when I stood both in a house’s front lawn and later in a church, and saw there, higher than my head, the still-remaining marks of flood waters. But the people of New Orleans are resilient. Hope is replacing despair.

I am also reminded that hope can replace despair when I reflect on the work in New Orleans of the House of Bishops as we responded to the spring primates’ communiqué regarding issues surrounding human sexuality. The house listened to the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Anglican Consultative Council, and they in turn listened to our witness to the larger church of the American experience. There is a huge love for the Anglican Communion among Episcopal bishops. Together we can do much to better the world. There is a profound respect for the fact that in the Episcopal Church all orders of ministry-lay and ordained-bear witness to the truth.

Our final statement reflected both our love and our witness in many ways. We stated that we will find ways that dioceses whose people feel disaffected in the Episcopal Church can feel included in our life. The witnesses of such dioceses are important. We stated that our love for the Communion is such that we will continue the policy enacted at the most recent General Convention of urging restraint in the election of bishops whose manner of life gives cause for concern. We stated that the witness of the church must be that the dignity of gay and lesbian persons is an unequivocal commitment. We stated that we will wait to discern the will of General Convention regarding authorized rites for the blessing of same sex unions, and in the meantime we will allow for a breadth of response to situations of individual pastoral care, as the primates themselves encouraged us in 2003.

We expressed our opposition to the crossing of jurisdictional boundaries by uninvited bishops. Such behavior fosters competing prayer, rather than the common prayer that has been historically foundational to the Anglican experience.

In November at clergy conference, I will talk with the members of the clergy about the work of the House of Bishops this past week. But I share with all of you now that our work in Arkansas continues as always: to find exciting ways to tell our ancient story to the next generation of people whose lives can be changed by the gospel. If we keep our focus on that work, there is nothing we cannot do.

–(The Rt. Rev.) Larry R. Benfield is Bishop of Arkansas

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Religion and Ethics Weekly Interviews Peter Lee

Q: And how does that get resolved, given the situation or position of some in the church?

A: I think it’s resolved by patience and time, that as people — I know anecdotally of African clergy who have been guests at American churches where one of the clergy, say, in a multi-staff church was gay and had adopted children, and it was a brand new experience for the African priest to experience that reality, and so getting to know people like that on a personal level has been very helpful.

Q: There’s been a lot of hoopla leading up to this meeting, saying this is a make or break time for the communion, that the ultimate relationship between the Episcopal Church and the worldwide communion could be at stake. How do you assess where the relationship is?

A: I don’t see this as a deadline or breakthrough meeting. It’s an important meeting, but it seems to me that the relationships that we have worldwide, with dozens, hundreds of Anglicans worldwide are going to be intact. A very important meeting prior to this one occurred in July ’07 outside of Madrid, where a group of about 25 American bishops, including me, met with about 30 African bishops, and the press was not invited, and it was very clear that the great majority of them wanted to continue in relationship. The Anglican Communion is not a juridical group where there is a clear method of kicking someone out, to put it bluntly. So if we are — if our relationship is stressed with the rest of the communion to the breaking point, the break will come from others, not from us.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Religion and Ethics Weekly Interviews Bob Duncan

Q: Tell me about this meeting in Pittsburgh. What are you and all these groups trying to accomplish here?

A: There are 10 jurisdictions who have been working together, a growing number, we started as six in 2004, who have committed to make common cause for the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel as it has been received, and to make common cause for a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America. We are fragments, like some of us represent fragments, dioceses of the Episcopal Church that can’t go down the road that the Episcopal Church is on, can’t leave the faith once delivered, and other fragments [are] folks who as long as 134 years ago actually found themselves put out of the Episcopal Church because of their stand on the gospel and their belief that the Episcopal Church was shifting and wavering and moving away from its’ reformation position. This meeting is a meeting in which these fragments, as bishops, and for the first time it’s all the bishops of these 10 fragments from the US and Canada, they are together and we’re together and what we’ve done is agree to the way in which we’ll move forward, move forward forming a federation of the Common Cause Partners, pushing that schedule along, and before too long appealing to provinces within the communion to recognize this federation as a new ecclesiastical structure in the States, the very thing that a number of the primates just a year ago in September called for from Kigali as they looked to the problems in the US church and to the wavering and wandering of the majority.

Q: So the goal here is to create an alternative Anglican structure?

A: The goal has been to bring together all of those who stand on scripture, who stand with the tradition, who are committed to mission and who can’t bring themselves to separate from what Christians have always believed. So we’re working together as bishops, forming a college of bishops, again first ever meeting here, who can work together in mission. We’ve shared all kinds of ministry initiatives together, from ministry to youth, all kinds of exciting things with postmoderns to work with the global church in relief and development to the more ordinary matters of church planting. Indeed one of the calls of this conference was for us together to plant 1000 new churches, which would be quite something to see.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

The Bishop Of Vermont on the New Orleans Bishops Meeting

The Presiding Bishop asked me to serve on the writing committee that drafted the response. Along with seven other bishops, much of my time was devoted to this task. Three versions were presented over the course of two days before the final version was adopted. Beyond what you can read in our final version, I’m writing today to offer some personal commentary on this response.

I want you to know that I voted to support this document, although there are certain aspects of it which trouble me. Time will tell whether our response will be a helpful contribution to the current conversation; I sincerely hope that it will.
Arguably, the two most sensitive matters before us were consents to episcopal elections (Resolution B033 of the General Convention) and the authorization of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions. Addressing both of these matters, the House of Bishops reaffirmed the actions of the 2006 General Convention, and here I remind us all that the General Convention is the primary decision making body of The Episcopal Church.

Regarding episcopal elections (BO33), I believe our statement, “non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains,” went too far in the direction of trying to interpret a General Convention resolution, yet I can attest that some wanted an even stronger interpretation. The efforts to seek common ground are clearly evident in our writing on this matter.

The second matter addressed public rites of blessings for same-sex unions. Again, we rehearsed the actions of General Convention, which in 2006 took no action to authorize such rites. We acknowledged as well that “the majority of bishops make no allowance for the blessing of same sex unions.” Of course that means some bishops do. I am one who makes allowance for such blessings, and I intend to continue the current pastoral approach we have in place in the Diocese of Vermont for the blessing of holy unions. This was clearly addressed and understood in the House of Bishops.

Read it all. Ok, now follow the bouncing ball with me as we once again explore the Alice in Wonderland world of the Episcopal Church.

You may remember that back in 2004 the diocese of Vermont took some dramatic action:

Episcopalians in Vermont, in a “pastoral response” to the nation’s first and only civil unions law, have unveiled liturgical rites that gay couples can use in the state’s 48 Episcopal churches.

The worship guidelines, which look and sound like liturgies used for heterosexual weddings, are believed to be the first anywhere in the Anglican Communion that convey church blessings on gay civil partnerships.

The services are contained in a 36-page manual that was distributed to clergy, last month. A committee began drafting the rites in October, and they are expected to become of official in 2006.

The “blessing of holy unions” is backed by Vermont Bishop Thomas Ely. “It would help our people to have the experience of common liturgy where there’s consistency in teaching, in language.”

Read that very carefully. Got it? Liturgical rites that same sex couples may use, with an accompanying diocesan manual. And these rites are backed by Bishop Thomas Ely.

What was is that Tanzania was concerned about?

[The Episcopal Church is asked to] “1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144).”

Please observe carefully in that section the very important little word OR. It is not only through General Convention that the Primates in Tanzania did not want to see authorized blessings, but also at the diocesan level. So how are liturgical rites backed by the bishop not seen to be contrary to this? Only in a world where words mean what you want them to mean. [/i]

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Religion and Ethics Weekly Interviews Gene Robinson

Q: Where does it leave the diocese of Chicago if Tracey Lind, an openly lesbian priest, is elected bishop?

A: We have a resolution of the General Convention that says we should exercise restraint, and we don’t really know where that will take us, and we won’t know until there is another bishop-elect who is gay or lesbian, and then we’ll see how that happens. I think we’re all exercising restraint in a sense that we know this is an important issue. We know it’s a controversial issue, and only time will tell how that will go either with bishops or with standing committees. And remember in our church it’s not just bishops who decide, but clergy and laity as well as the bishop.

Q: What did you learn at this meeting about the feelings of the rest of the world?

A: I think the international visitors underscored for me what we’ve known, but hearing it coming from their lips is even more powerful. Their contexts are so different from ours. It should not surprise us, but perhaps we’re naive when we forget that in many countries of the world if you’re known to be gay you can be imprisoned. There’s just rampant discrimination. In a context like that, to ever have a chance to sit in the room with a faithful, committed Christian person who also happens to be gay or lesbian — it’s just not something that happens. So to hear from their lips how their contexts are different from ours, I think it always helps to have that personal contact. It was just as important for them to experience how very different our context is. So I think there was learning on both sides. That’s really why we treasure the Anglican Communion so much is that if we hold together there is so much to be learned from one another.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

The Bishop of Central Florida on the New Orleans House of Bishops Meeting

Many voices have already been raised, denouncing the Bishops’ Statement as “non-compliance.” I disagree. I would characterize the decisions of the House of Bishops as being in partial compliance with what the Primates asked of us.

Unfortunately, the Bishops failed to even mention a third request from the Primates, that we put an end to the lawsuits that are being pressed in many Dioceses against congregations that are attempting to leave The Episcopal Church and yet retain “their” properties.

In our failure to do all that the Primates asked of us I was unable to vote for the Bishops’ Statement, but I was grateful to see a far higher level of concern for the unity of the Communion evident throughout our meeting than I have ever witnessed previously. Whether or not that level was high enough remains to be seen. Ultimately, of course, it is for the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates to make that call.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

The Bishop of Upper South Carolina on the New Orleans Bishops Meeting

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Bishop MacPherson's Pastoral Letter about the HoB meeting

[via e-mail]

A Pastoral Letter from
The Rt. Rev’d D. Bruce MacPherson
III Bishop of Western Louisiana
September 27, 2007

Please read at all services on the weekend of September 29-30, 2007. In addition to reading, this may also be reproduced and distributed. [Canon III.12.3(b) Constitution and Canons of General Convention 2006].

A response and reflections on the House of Bishops meeting
[September 19-25, 2007 New Orleans, Louisiana]

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus:

A week and a half ago Susan and I set out for New Orleans and the advent of the House of Bishops meeting. This gathering has been in the thoughts and prayers of many since March of this year when the bishops of the Church made their initial response to the Communique issued by the Primates. I know, and will say at the outset, there are varying views amongst people across the Church as to the response and outcome of this important meeting, and I speak to this a little later in this letter.

We went to this meeting with the knowledge of being held in prayer by so very many across our diocese and places beyond, and we are grateful. We went knowing the weight that rested upon the work of the bishops and the ultimate statement that would be made. As we travelled, the scripture passage from Joshua 24:15 kept coming to mind, “… as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

For Joshua, it was a declaration that would set the tone for those who shared in the story of Israel’s life in its land. Pausing for a moment and looking back at the path taken by Joshua, we find that his book simplifies what was not only a long, but also complex process, by which the Israelites settled in Canaan. The history of their battles and struggles prevail over the course of twenty-two chapters, and then lead us into the concluding two chapters. It is in these concluding verses that we discover the loyalty of the Israelites to their God who has given them the land they now occupy.

A careful reading of the book in its entirety will reveal that the affirmation of God’s purpose for Israel was served even by the difficulties and evil that were encountered, but more important, for you and for me it serves as a vehicle to lead us to an understanding of obedience to God, and in whose image we are created.

As shared some time back, the passage “… as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” is simply stated, yet expresses the focus that Susan and I have shared as we have sought to live out our lives in faithfulness before, and for, the Lord.

In reading Joshua’s declaration there is no doubt as to what is intended. He has gathered all of the people together, reviewed with them the gracious acts of God toward them down through history, and then challenges them to choose whom they will worship – the God of all creation or other gods. They concur with him and in turn enter into a solemn covenant with one another and God. Down through the years, and to this day, life is always confronting us with choices and alternatives. We have a choice – God or the worldly things which surround us.

It was with this on my heart and mind that I entered the city of New Orleans. My prayer was that we would enter into a solemn covenant with God through the response that we would make as bishops of the Church.

Our time over the many days was spent sharing in Bible study with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others, worship, closed executive sessions, and at times with business being conducted with the media present.

A highlight for many was on Saturday, September 22, when most of the bishops and spouses spent the day in either Mississippi or the New Orleans area, doing hurricane relief work. Due to the condition of my knee, and the fact that I was on a crutch, Susan and I signed up to go and work in the kitchen of the Cathedral making sandwiches for those who were labouring in the field. This unfortunately didn’t work out as they assigned us to go and work on a building site. The vision of me endeavouring to hang sheet rock while balanced on a crutch dissuaded us.

With this background, permit me now to speak to the larger, and more important picture, the response of the bishops of The Episcopal Church to the Primate’s Communique. In the course of the week a portion of our time was shared with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev’d Rowan D. Williams, and with some members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council. I would not be honest if I didn’t share that the week was intense, and the conversation for the most part, quite serious. I was taken a bit in our early conversations to find a number of bishops, whom have most often tended to disagree with me, expressing concern about the outcome of the meeting and our ongoing relationship within the Anglican Communion and with the See of Canterbury. These expressions were built upon by a number of them, and particularly following the presentations made by the Archbishop and some of the members of the Joint Standing Committee.

As a part of his time with us, the Archbishop shared his concern about the direction of the Church as it relates to our ecclesiology. I personally felt he was speaking with a sense of deep concern and pastoral care. The Joint Standing Committee, represented by both lay and ordained members, as did the Archbishop, spent time in conversation with us formally and informally. When each of them addressed the gathering, they demonstrated great candor while being gracious. Their messages were to the point, and they were uniform in their expressed feeling that The Episcopal Church needs the Anglican Communion, and the Anglican Communion needs The Episcopal Church. Underscoring this however, was the fact that we, The Episcopal Church, cannot be implementing change without regard to the effect it has on the wider Communion.

The message that was delivered to us was clear: the Communion wants more from us than was offered in Resolution B033 (General Convention 2006), and it needs to be unequivocally so.

As I listened to each of the speakers and the message of desired clarity, I honestly could not help but feel the resolution submitted by the Windsor bishops addressed their concerns exactly. Unfortunately though, not only our resolution, but the resolution submitted jointly by the Bishop of Louisiana in concert with the Bishops of Los Angeles and Washington, which was a modified version of the Windsor bishop’s resolution, were not able to get to the floor. It was the posture of the House to have a writing committee that had been appointed, take these documents and draw upon them in the development of the statement of response.

This committee repeatedly brought drafts to the House for consideration in executive sessions, and in each case the contents were debated. I can assure you, every effort was made to produce a document that contained the Windsor compliant language of the Windsor bishops proposed resolution. Sadly, the effort was in vain.

The final document has left frustration on both sides of the aisle, and basically states the following:

* “We reconfirm that Resolution B033 (General Convention 2006) that bishops and Standing Committees exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on the Communion.”
* “We pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.”
* “We commend our Presiding Bishop’s plan for episcopal visitors.”
* “We support the Presiding Bishop in seeking communion-wide consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.”
* “We call for increasing implementation of the listening process across the Communion and for a report on its progress to Lambeth 2008.”
* “We support the Archbishop of Canterbury in his expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference.”
* “We call for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety and dignity of gay and lesbian persons.”

For those who have read the Communique and the Windsor Report, you will note this fails to respond clearly to that which has been asked of us. My disappointment with the above is that it falls short of providing the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Primates of the Communion with the response they sought with respect to definitive clarity.

As many are aware, the document was approved by the House of Bishops with one dissenting vote, and this coming from one of the more progressive bishops. As to my personal action, I sat mute, and in doing so, supported this work. Should I have been vocal at this stage, yes, but I failed to do so and take responsibility for my silence.

Where will we go from here? This will be determined by the response that will be made by the Archbishop, Joint Standing Committee and Primates, and the direction we take in living out the faith that has been entrusted to us, and the proclamation of the Gospel as we fulfill the mission of the Church, and this is in the “Making of Disciples: restoring all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” I pray the response will come in time for our Diocesan Convention on October 12-13 at the Holiday Inn Convention Centre Hotel in Alexandria.

It is important to note, we have accomplished much toward this end with our reconciliation and healing work over this past year; our unwillingness to be distracted from the ministry to which God has called us and to which we have responded with great commitment. Those participating in this endeavour spoke clearly as to what the expressed desire is – faithful submission to the will of God; maintaining a focus on the Gospel and the mission of the church; respecting one another and our differences, and being a continuing part of The Episcopal Church as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion in communion with the See of Canterbury. I pray that we, as the Diocese of Western Louisiana, will continue to focus on these things as we move forward together in the days ahead.

In closing, permit me to end with that which I began, “… as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” This has not changed, and my prayer is that while not having changed, I trust there has been growth in my faith and relationship with Christ. Although I failed to speak out at the time of the final vote, I remain committed to the Windsor Report and in being the Bishop of a Windsor compliant diocese. My position with respect to the requests of the Primate’s Communique has not changed and I will continue to work toward the development of the Anglican Covenant.

As your bishop, I am committed to ministering to the whole of God’s people in this diocese, and ensuring that we live with fullness into our Baptismal Covenant. To do this, I need your help and prayers and trust you know of my prayers for each of you.

“O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” [BCP p.832]

Faithfully offered in the love of Christ,

+Bruce

The Rt. Rev’d D. Bruce MacPherson

III Bishop of Western Louisiana

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Anglican TV: Common Cause Press Conference Friday

Anglican TV has now posted the video of the press conference from yesterday afternoon in Pittsburgh. Here’s the link.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Resources & Links, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Common Cause Partnership, Resources: Audio-Visual

The Bishop of Minnesota Responds to the House of Bishops Meeting

Via email:

Memo to: Clergy and Diocesan/Congregational Leaders
From: The Rt. Rev. James L. Jelinek
VIII Bishop, Diocese of Minnesota

Have you ever worked on a statement with ±150 colleagues? And have you ever done so considering the nuanced meaning of words and phrases to a worldwide audience? That pretty well describes the last two days of the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. Within hours after its release Tuesday afternoon, it was commented upon and interpreted by scores of people and so it is my hope that this /Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners/ (attached below) will be read more carefully than the comments and criticisms about it. Please spend the time to read it slowly. What does it say? What doesn’t it say? I believe it is a pretty accurate description of us that is quite clear about what we stand _for_ in the name of God and also sets limits as to what we are willing to take from others outside of The Episcopal Church.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, +Rowan Williams, and several members of the Steering Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (the only body with a constitution and agreed-upon authority in the Anglican Communion) met with us and urged us to be clear. I believe we were. I also believe we answered everything we were asked to answer. It is clear that some were looking for a repudiation by The Episcopal Church (TEC) of earlier actions, but that is something we neither could nor would do.

Will there be reactivity to this /Response/? Is the sun likely to rise again tomorrow? Watch and listen, but first of all measure your own reactions and re-read those passages or phrases to which you most strongly react. Upon second or third reading, do you hear them the same way? If so, that is worth pursuing in conversation in your congregation or with your clergy group. If not, it is worth reflecting on what this touched (or even triggered) in you. We need to be aware that in times of tension like this, our fears and anxieties are likely to be near the surface, more easily unsettled.

The big picture is that we are considering matters that are not about winning or losing, but of discernment and meaning and within relationships. Where is the Holy Spirit leading the Christian Church and leading humanity? How do we identify the marks of the Holy Spirit in what feels like a progression, in comparison with the spirit of the age we live in? Most especially, how do we do this /within time/ when we do not yet have the luxury of looking back at the past where we sometimes have more clarity? Some argue that this is precisely why we must go very slowly, yet that seems more than unjust when people are suffering. So, The Episcopal Church is moving forward while trying not to inflict more pain or to provoke more controversy.

At times like this I am most concerned about reaction without reflection, for in haste our reactions are usually determined by fear, particularly one of the following: the fear of losing or failing or losing out or losing one’s touchstones and one’s bearings. It seems to me that when we struggle with our inclusion we are most afraid of losing out, of not counting. And when something new comes along that seems so unusual, so different from the ways we have always seen the world and how we understand God’s creativity, it seems that our experience is one of disorientation, the fear of losing our bearings. That seems to describe the church we live in today. No wonder there are tensions.

I pray that our personal and communal responses may be guided by hope, the hope which comes from trusting in God to inspire us, and more-to knit us together in one heart even when we cannot be of one mind.

* * *

I am pleased with the comments in the Minneapolis Star Tribune by Dean Spenser Simrill and the Revs. LeeAnne Watkins and Mariann Budde, for they put the matter into perspective for people, which Martyn Minns does not do as well, glossing over the limitations which our structure puts upon us. Notice that the headlines here and in the New York Times yesterday love to focus on the controversies and the differences and do not choose to see how many in the House of Bishops have come to be of one heart.

* * *

In general, the meeting of the House and Community (including our partners) of Bishops was a good experience. +Rowan Williams spoke a few times, preached at a stirring ecumenical gathering where the jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, Jr., “stole the show” from everyone else there, setting us all on fire. +Rowan was at his best Friday morning, offering a wonderful bible study which revealed his deep knowledge, intellectual brilliance and spiritual insights. This is where we saw the man of faith, and he inspired us. +Katherine was perceptive, able to
enumerate, synthesize and describe what we had come to in our discussions, both our agreements and where we still had work to do. She can be very charming and funny, as well, and at the end we gave her a standing ovation for her work among us and on our (TEC’s) behalf during her first year. Our chaplains gave voice to the prayers we were not articulating well, as we wrestled inwardly and outwardly. Our Anglican Communion guests brought us both challenge and gift: differing points of view and the warmth of international friendships.

I have never been to New Orleans before, so I can only guess what is missing from the number of empty lots, falling down buildings and neighborhoods, and the personal stories of those who live there. Tourism and business are way down. Complaints abound about the lack of a good governmental response on any level, and yet churches and agencies get kudos-both for the work that so many local and out of state volunteers do and for the caring listening which affirms people so much. Most of us took Saturday to participate in rebuilding, and I am very glad I did. We worked alongside honor student volunteers from Tulane putting in the beams and flooring of a house. Cliff, our crew chief (about 20), is doing this work “for a while” before he begins college. We did not need to talk much, for there was an easy rhythm to our work together.

We have done what we have done, and it was worth the time, the effort, the care and the prayer, and I thank you for yours. We offer this to God, to the Church, and to all those whose lives may be affirmed and strengthened by it.

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The Bishop of Virginia on the House of Bishops New Orleans Statement

The formal response to the Primates’ Communiqué was adopted late Tuesday by the House of Bishops by a virtually unanimous vote. It reflected our very deep appreciation of the Anglican Communion and our strong desire to maintain and nurture our role within it, while asserting our determined commitment to include gay and lesbian persons in our common life. In our statement, the bishops reconfirmed our vote at the 2006 General Convention to “exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.” This reconfirmation constitutes our continuing agreement with that resolution and acknowledges that such language pertains specifically to non-celibate gay and lesbian persons. We also repeated our pledge not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. We noted that we hope to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide process of listening to the experiences of gay and lesbian persons.

We commended our Presiding Bishop for her plans to provide episcopal visitors for dioceses at irreconcilable odds with her own ministry as Primate and we support her commitment to consult with the wider communion in pastoral matters, seeking creative solutions that are in accord with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. We supported the Archbishop of Canterbury in his desire to include the bishop of New Hampshire at next year’s Lambeth Conference. We called for commitment to the civil rights, safety and dignity of gay and lesbian persons. We deplored the incursion of uninvited bishops into our dioceses.

No one achieved everything he or she wanted in our statement. To your Virginia bishops, our traditionally centrist attitude seemed to be the prevailing attitude of the House of Bishops. We share the viewpoint of many of our brother and sister bishops that our response to the Communiqué meets the requests put to us by the Primates.

Read it all.

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We are Looking for Diocesan and Parish Responses the the House of Bishops Statement

Please do not assume we have seen them and pass them along. Full text by email preferred, url is o.k. if you are in a hurry–thanks.

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The Bishop of West Texas on the House of Bishops Meeting in New Orleans

…The two of us, and several others, sought repeatedly – in public and in private – for clarity and directness in our response. In our view, we should have answered the questions simply and straightforwardly, and any other comments we wanted to make should have been issued separately. As one bishop noted to the House, we were asked left-brain questions and we offered right-brain answers.

Take a look at all the entries and be aware that there is more coming.

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The Bishop of Southern Ohio on New Orleans: "We have said nothing new"

Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Now that the House of Bishops meeting has ended, and I am back home among you, I want to share a few thoughts on the work we did, and particularly on the statement we produced. As you may know, I was one of the eight bishops who wrote this statement, which developed over several days as each draft was discussed by the whole House and further refined by the writing group. Apart from preaching and celebrating at a local parish on Sunday, this process of drafting and revising took up all my waking hours from Friday evening until Tuesday afternoon. So it is fair to say that my experience of New Orleans is essentially my experience of that process.

I went to New Orleans afraid that the House would not maintain the high level of civility and mutual respect that marked our meeting last March.

On the one hand, I worried that the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury might provoke angry words directed against him and the other primates. On the other, I feared that bishops on different sides of the same-sex unions debate might become rancorous toward one another. None of this happened. Rowan Williams was welcomed with respect and warmth, as were the members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates, whom we had invited to sit with us in our deliberations. As for how we related to one another, I was struck by the kindness, care and mutual understanding that informed the House’s discourse from beginning to end. We are a community of bishops that is passionately devoted to the worldwide Anglican Communion and committed to our unity and fellowship with one another as members of the Episcopal Church.

The meeting was largely shaped, in my view, by our conversations, both formal and informal, with our Anglican Communion guests. What emerged for all of us was a firmer grasp of how the Primates and the ACC viewed the Episcopal Church and what they were asking of us as its bishops. I was surprised to discover that, for the most part, we are held in high regard by our brothers and sisters in the Communion, and our participation in the Communion is very highly valued. Moreover, while there is frustration and anger that we have, in their view, acted precipitously and disrespectfully in consecrating a partnered gay bishop without consulting with the larger Communion, there is also an appreciation that the Episcopal Church is forcing a Communion-wide conversation about homosexuality that is long overdue. What our guests were asking of us was clarity about two things: (1) the bishops’
interpretation of B033, the 2006 General Convention resolution regarding the election of partnered gay bishops, and (2) the bishops’ current approach to the blessing of same-sex unions.

The statement that we produced is our attempt to answer those two questions succinctly and transparently. We have said nothing new. Those who were dissatisfied with B033 for going too far or not going far enough will be equally dissatisfied with the present statement. However, what we have said as a House arises in the context of renewed hope for a conversation with our Anglican partners that honors all members of our Church. I am heartened by this hope, and I pray that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters will also find encouragement in this.

My ardent desire for this Diocese is that we will continue diligently to embrace our fellowship with one another across the differences that both challenge and enrich us. We all have a witness to share, and we all are in need of having our perspective broadened by the witness of others. By God’s grace, and through your prayers, a step was taken in New Orleans toward recovering the possibility of an Anglican Communion capable of facing tough issues with mutual forbearance and readiness to learn from one another. That possibility will become a reality as it is lived into on the ground. God bless us in Southern Ohio, as we play our part in that adventure.

–(The Rt. Rev.) Thomas E. Breidenthal is Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio

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The Bishop of Tennessee on the recent House of Bishops Statement

I am grateful to the clergy and people of the Diocese of Tennessee for your prayers and other support during the recent meeting of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. I have been conscious that this support, a sign of our communion and common life in the Body of Christ, has upheld me during a time of stress in the life of the Church. I give thanks for you, and pray that you too are upheld in your ministry by God’s life-giving power.

Our time of gathering in New Orleans with the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting was not an easy one. The visible signs and continuing effects of the devastating hurricane of two years ago were evident; the weighty subject of the Primates’ February Communiqué and our response to it was in the forefront of most minds. The Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Joint Standing Committee shared with the House of Bishops the global context of recent actions of the Episcopal Church and the effects of these actions on the life of the Anglican Communion, and also charted a possible way forward for our common life together as a Communion. These perspectives were difficult for some members of the House of Bishops to receive, yet these perspectives shaped the response of the bishops.

In a most positive part of our time together, members of the House of Bishops and spouses along with our Communion partners had the opportunity to join in the work in rebuilding New Orleans. We also shared in a joyful ecumenical service of thanksgiving during which almost one million dollars from the dioceses of the Episcopal Church was presented to the Dioceses of Louisiana and Mississippi. We discovered, as well, the continuing vibrancy of many communities on the Gulf Coast, in the midst of a situation that continues to be very difficult.
The House of Bishops has now given its response, one that went much further than I thought possible for the House to provide the clarifications requested by the Primates’ Meeting. The clarifications concern the requested assurances on the blessing of same-sex unions and on the consecration to the episcopate of persons living in a partnered same-sex union sought by the 2004 Windsor Report. The issue before the Episcopal Church is to provide the assurances requested by the Report that will allow the common life of the Anglican Communion to continue. I believe that the principal question is no longer just whether the Episcopal Church desires to continue to walk with the Communion, but whether the Communion itself has the will to continue together. There is much here at stake that goes beyond the Episcopal Church.

It is now the responsibility of the Instruments of Communion to evaluate our response. The Communiqué was addressed to us by the Primates’ Meeting, and I believe that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and the Primates’ Meeting will be making recommendations to them. Many interested parties will offer their own evaluations, but the assessment of the Communion as a whole through the Instruments of Communion is the crucial one for Communion-minded people.

Part of being members of a Communion of Churches is that our own opinion of whether we have addressed adequately the concerns of others is not decisive for the future of our relationship. These matters are the business of common discernment throughout the Church. I have written before of my passion for Jesus’ Church, a worldwide phenomenon with roots firmly planted in the earliest times, growing and reaching out to the future. I have called you to a deeper consideration of the Church, “that wonderful and sacred mystery” (BCP, 291), and I call you again to reflect on the importance of Christian community. My commitments are unchanged. In the midst of challenge, I pray for good discernment, graceful conversion, and at all times the mercy of God.

(The Rt. Rev.) John Bauerschmidt is Bishop of Tennessee.

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African archbishop says Anglican church still faces 'gay' crisis

An influential African archbishop said Thursday that the Anglican church was still in crisis despite the US Episcopal Church agreeing to halt the ordination of gay bishops and blessing same-sex unions.

Benjamin Kwashi, archbishop-elect of Jos province in Nigeria, insisted that the gay crisis was “not resolved” by the statement by US church leaders.

“The statement by the U.S. Episcopal bishops should be taken with extreme caution,” Kwashi told Nigerian media.

“The US bishops have not said anything different from their earlier liberal stance, which supports same-sex unions.”

Read it all.

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The Bishop of Alabama on the New Orleans Meeting

As I prepare to return to the diocese after participating in the House of Bishops Interim Meeting in New Orleans since last Wednesday, I am attaching hereto the communiqué that we have adopted in response to the requests of our partners in the Anglican Communion. Please read it carefully and know that it was written over a lengthy period of days and adopted by a very broad consensus of your bishops.

I believe that this communiqué represents a considerable spirit of compromise and collegiality in the House of Bishops, which I am pleased to see. There were only two voiced votes against its adoption and no minority report or open dissent. The communiqué will be “spun” in different ways no doubt in accordance with the biases of the press and the desires of different factions in the church. I lament this, but it is the way of the world in which we presently live. I was particularly disappointed by the inaccuracy of the New York Times article which appeared in the Birmingham News today. Let us not be misled by negative and ill-prepared comments.

Read it all. Is it not a bit humorous to see all these Episcopal leaders so critical of the New York Times? Weren’t they the same ones who quoted Bishop Parsley in the article before the meeting?

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The Bishop of Dallas on the New Orleans Bishops Meeting

I am grateful for the tone of this meeting and for many aspects of the process and the contributions many bishops from very diferent perspectives made to it. I wish that such openness and frankness, and serious discussion, had characterized earlier meetings. (And here I refer to 15 years of such meetings!)

But the final result, I must confess, is disappointing to me. I do not believe the answers requested by the Primates have been given. I do not believe we have moved very far ”“ if at all ”“ from where we were before this meeting in terms of the assurances sought. I certainly think that internally, the House of Bishops changed its dynamics in a number of ways that are welcome. But for all that, we still seem, as one bishop has said, “stuck.”

It seems that, even with the best of intentions, we simply cannot get beyond the thought that we might learn from what the Archbishop of Canterbury called “common discernment;” in other words, that our decisions as a House might be wrong and at any rate ought to be subject to the advice and concerns of our Communion bothers and sisters. Many bishops argued for ambiguity as the most “honest” statement of “where we are.” Perhaps that is true. That is the effectual outcome of this meeting.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops