Category : Sept07 HoB Meeting

Greenough White–Jackson Kemper: An Apostle of the Western Church

In the same report a “Catholic feature” of the mission is noted,–classes of adult catechumens, conducted by the brethren; and an intention of having weekly communions, “according to primitive practice,” is recorded. To this end the brothers had sought to secure the services of the good missionary priest, Richard Cadle, and to convert him into the Father Superior of their order,–but the worthy man shied at the novel honor. With funds that Hobart had obtained at the East a beautiful tract of land was bought about Nashotah (signifying “Twin Lakes”), and thither, in August, the mission was moved. The following October, Adams and Breck were advanced to the priesthood, and the latter was made head of the religious house. A few theological students answered to the lay brothers of Vallombrosa; they supported themselves by farm work, etc., according to the primitive method at Gambier. The community rose at five o’clock, had services (lauds or prime) at six and nine in the morning, on Wednesdays and Fridays the litany and on Thursdays Holy Communion at noontide, and services at three and half-past six o’clock in the evening, answering to nones and vespers. Now at length, as Breck wrote home with glee, he began to feel that he was really in a monastery. But within a year from that hopeful start it seemed as if the community would be dissolved. Adams had a severe attack of pneumonia, felt unequal to bearing the business burdens of the house, and returned to the East; Hobart lingered a few months longer, and then followed; and Breck began to think of moving further west.
At this period Kenyon College was in such financial straits that it was in imminent danger of being lost to the church,–but a mighty effort was made, collections were taken for it on a large scale among congregations throughout the eastern dioceses, and it was saved; but the extraordinary exertion resulted in a deficit in the missionary treasury that reduced many a poor minister on the frontier to pinching poverty.

One is startled to hear that in 1843 a medical department was annexed to Kemper College and already boasted of the formidable number of seventy-five students. The attention of the church was called to this Protestant Episcopal University west of the Mississippi, which “promised a rich return for its fostering care,” and seemed destined to “hand down the name of its beloved founder to other ages.” There were but a score of students, however, in the collegiate department, at whose first commencement the bishop presided that summer.

The good example set by his young itinerants in Wisconsin moved him to urge the appointment of two or more missionaries of similar type to operate in Indiana. That diocese now made another attempt to perfect its organization, electing Thomas Atkinson of Virginia as its bishop,–but he declined. Its leading presbyter, Roosevelt Johnson, waived a like offer. Missouri diocese had similar aspirations and electoral difficulties, which it solved by throwing the onus upon the general convention, entreating it to choose a bishop. In 1843, Cicero Stephens Hawks accepted a call to the rectorate of Christ Church, St. Louis; and the favor with which he was received determined the choice of the convention. On the 2oth of October, 1844, (the day of Cobbs’ consecration), and in Christ Church, Philadelphia, he was consecrated bishop of Missouri by Philander Chase, now presiding bishop, assisted by Kemper, McCoskry, Polk, and DeLancey.

With this event terminated what is in one way the most interesting period of our hero’s life,–the dawn, or morning of his episcopate, with its wide and long vistas, its freshness and promise. Wonderful indeed was the accomplishment of those nine mystic years, especially when we consider that it was before the days of railroads,–that he had to toil painfully in wagons, on horseback or afoot along wretched roads over boundless tracts that the traveler now crosses smoothly, gliding at the rate of a mile a minute in a palace car.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

A.S. Haley–South Carolina: a Case Study in How to Tear a Church Apart

It is ironic indeed that Nick Zeigler would invoke the specter of Fort Sumter in a book published just before the current Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church sent her attorneys and investigators into the Diocese of South Carolina. One would think that she would be highly grateful to Bishop Lawrence for managing to hold his Diocese together after the fractures caused by the rift with All Saints Waccamaw, and the loss of the use of the Dennis Canon as a tool for intimidating the faithful in South Carolina. The parishioners of the Diocese have no sooner put that matter behind them, however, than the Presiding Bishop lets herself be seen further stirring up old divisions and strongly-felt emotions, with no evident clue as to her utter folly in doing so.

Alas, when it comes to the leadership at 815, one can but lament: what else is new? They must want it this way, and they will reap what they sow.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Presiding Bishop, Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

A.S. Haley–South Carolina: a Case Study in How to Tear a Church Apart

It is ironic indeed that Nick Zeigler would invoke the specter of Fort Sumter in a book published just before the current Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church sent her attorneys and investigators into the Diocese of South Carolina. One would think that she would be highly grateful to Bishop Lawrence for managing to hold his Diocese together after the fractures caused by the rift with All Saints Waccamaw, and the loss of the use of the Dennis Canon as a tool for intimidating the faithful in South Carolina. The parishioners of the Diocese have no sooner put that matter behind them, however, than the Presiding Bishop lets herself be seen further stirring up old divisions and strongly-felt emotions, with no evident clue as to her utter folly in doing so.

Alas, when it comes to the leadership at 815, one can but lament: what else is new? They must want it this way, and they will reap what they sow.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Presiding Bishop, Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Andrew Carey: Words not what they used to be in the post-Windsor Anglican Communion

In the American House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans when The Episcopal Church faced its deadline to deal with terms like moratoria, ”˜words’ were fiercely debated. How far could the House of Bishops go to deliver words which might placate the Anglican Communion without giving anything away? This was a studied course of dishonesty.

Now we have the most egregious example of all in the declaration by the Canadian diocese of Ottawa that it will allow a parish to perform same-sex blessings in order to ”˜discern’ the way forward. Needless to say, it’s an odd kind of ”˜discernment’ to do something you are not agreed upon in order to reach agreement. It seems like a recipe for division and conflict.

Furthermore, the diocese claims that it is not violating the moratorium on samesex blessings. “There is nothing in the moratorium that says we cannot continue to discern,” said Archdeacon Ross Moulton of Ottawa. It seems unnecessary to point out that the very meaning of the word ”˜moratorium’ rules out this kind of discernment. But Archdeacon Moulton has a different dictionary it seems.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Windsor Report / Process

Living Church: Encouragement for Fort Worth Laity

…[Dr. Michael] Howell presented a detailed account of the actions of The Episcopal Church that have precipitated a worldwide crisis and the response of the four governing instruments of Anglican Communion.

“The Dar es Salaam Communiqué called the Episcopal Church’s response to Windsor Report inadequate,” Howell said. “It asked for responses from the House of Bishops, but the bishops refused [the Primatial Scheme and call for a moratorium on same-sex blessings]. Then in New Orleans the Archbishop of Canterbury inserted a new process involving the Joint Standing Committee. He refused to call a Primates Meeting and deferred the discussion until the Lambeth Conference, which now is organized so that no resolutions will emerge.” The result of all this, Howell said, is that “GAFCON bishops have lost faith in the structures of the Communion.”

Before the concluding question-and-answer period, three members of the Remain Faithful executive board made brief presentations based on sections of the group’s 25-page position paper, Evidence that Demands a Decision, published in June. Cora Werley, a member of Trinity Church, Fort Worth, discussed revisionist understandings of Jesus Christ and Holy Scripture. David Weaver, a member of St. Alban’s, Arlington, spoke about the polity and origins of The Episcopal Church and the ancient understanding of the diocese as the “organ of union” in the church. Jo Ann Patton, a member of St. Andrew’s, Fort Worth, spoke of the pattern of innovation in The Episcopal Church, seen in its handling of women’s ordination and human sexuality issues, that begins with a violation of canons and progresses to permissiveness and then required practice.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates, Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Worth a Careful rereading–Kendall Harmon: Honesty or Obfuscation in New Orleans?

I would only update it a little and call it Honesty or Obfuscation at Lambeth and it applies completely. By the way, anyone remember who came out AFTER the New Orleans House of Bishops meeting and said that the report written about what was happening was incorrect because there were same sex blessings occurring in various parts of the Episcopal Church? Yes–it was Gene Robinson–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

ACI: Description and Comments on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2007 Advent Pastoral Letter

About what situations is the Archbishop here concerned? The context of the proposal ”“ ”˜unanswered questions’ with respect to NOLA ”“ indicates that the main issue is TEC’s (and perhaps other churches’) relationship with the Communion: how far does her claim as ”˜Anglican’ go when in fact her teaching and practice have clearly departed from the Communion’s? However, the mention of Windsor’s recommendations and extra-jurisdictionally ordained bishops, also indicates that the Archbishop is aware that various responses to TEC’s clear departure from Communion teaching and practice has also obscured the character of Anglican identity more broadly and of common authority. These issues must also be addressed, rather than allowed to further dissipate a common mind. The Archbishop recognises ”˜much unclarity’ over ”˜who speaks for the Communion?’ and says this needs resolution ”˜urgently’: ”˜the people of the Communion need to be sure that they are not placed in unsustainable and damaging positions by any vagueness as to what the Communion as a whole believes and endorses, and so the issue of who represents the Communion cannot be evaded”¦Not everyone carrying the name of Anglican can claim to speak authentically for the identity we share as a global fellowship’.

This last concern, which is surely a weighty one, faces into the current dissolution of the Communion’s ”˜common voice’ through a host of unilateral decisions that clearly affect teaching and discipline both. Not only are churches like TEC and certain bishops and dioceses in Canada knowingly moving ahead with innovations that run counter to everything that Anglicans have together articulated and decided, but in doing so they are wittingly undercutting the very notion of common identity, character, authority, mission, and concern. Those responding to these actions have, in their turn, if with a certain reactionary rationale, ended up moving forward in ways that do not represent common decision-making within the Communion and that may, in fact, further the dismantling of Anglican identity. To pursue such destructive innovations unilaterally, and still call oneself ”˜Anglican’ has put into question the very notion of Anglicanism itself as a divinely called church within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church into which we are called to grow with other Christians.

The group that the Archbishop proposes offer recommendations about this challenge, as it affects several churches and the Communion as a whole (including how Lambeth Conference may operate) cannot be some judicial tribunal. Nor, however, can it be a repeat of the Panel of Reference that, despite careful work, has been unable to direct any major conflicts it has examined towards fruitful resolution. It appears that the Archbishops himself, given his own role as the articulator of the Communion’s mind, and gatherer of her chief pastors, has accepted his role as moral leader for the Communion especially in this time of crisis. He will, again, seek to bring concrete recommendations before the council of Anglicanism’s bishops for the sake of the Communion’s common ordering. This is yet another indication that the Archbishop has decided that the Lambeth Conference must be a truly conciliar decision-making body for the Communion.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Church of England Newspaper: US Bishops fail to convince primates

The Primates have returned a vote of no confidence in the Episcopal Church. Lambeth Palace reports that a majority of primates have rejected the conclusions of the ACC/Primates Joint Standing Committtee (JSC), and have told the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams the Episcopal Church has failed, in whole or in part, to honor the recommendations of the Windsor Report and the Primates’ Dar es Salaam communiqué.

The majority rejection of the JSC report comes as a blow to Dr. Williams’ hopes to avert a showdown between the liberal and conservative wings of the Communion. It also marks an unprecedented repudiation of the competence and judgment of the central apparatus of the Anglican Consultative Council.

Following the publication of the positive assessment by the JSC of the actions of the New Orleans meeting of the US House of Bishops, Dr. Williams wrote to the primates asking “How far is your Province able to accept the JSC Report assessment that the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops have responded positively to the requests of the Windsor Report and those made by the Primates in their Communiqué at the end of their meeting in Dar es Salaam?”

Of the 38 primates, including the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, Lambeth Palace reported it had received 26 responses, and no reply from 12. Of the 26, 12 stated they could accept the JSC’s findings, 12 stated they rejected the JSC’s findings, while three offered a mixed verdict, and one said it was continuing to review the matter.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Anglican Journal: Schism plans develop after U.S. meeting

The split between liberal and conservative Anglicans grew wider in September as bishops of the U.S. Episcopal Church reaffirmed their denomination’s more-inclusive stance on homosexuality and a breakaway group of bishops moved to form a “new ecclesiastical structure” in North America.

About 150 Episcopal Church bishops met in New Orleans from Sept. 20 to 25, along with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, several primates (national archbishops from other countries) and members of the international Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). At the end of their meeting, the American bishops issued a statement that they said was the best expression of a position on which all present could agree. (Several conservative bishops had left the meeting early.)

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Christian Challenge: Did the Episcopal Church Bishops Clarify All Questions in New Orleans?

WHATEVER IS DRIVING Dr. [Rowan] Williams’ strategy, it would seem in the wake of the HOB meeting to have reached a crossroads. The primatial jury is still out, of course, but it is already evident that the HOB statement will not fly with a significant segment of the global church. The Communion’s future will pivot heavily on how Williams now handles key matters going forward.

Of course, even Archbishops of Canterbury must contend with historical forces beyond their control. In all probability, TEC’s long recurrent role as artful dodger of orthodoxy, even if it has slightly receded for now, has set in train fragmentation and realignment among Anglicans that cannot now be averted.

This is a lengthy article but there is some material in it not available elsewhere and it is well worth the time–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish of Utah

In the end, we issued our response to the Questions and Concerns raised by our Anglican Communion Partners. This document (see Internet reference 2 below) has met with acceptance by most of our visitors; however, it did not satisfy the very conservative primates or bishops in our church and the larger Communion. They are working to set up their own Anglican body. The liberals were not happy with it either, even though on the critical issues of giving consent to the election of partnered gay bishops and blessing same sex unions, we said little more than was said at the General Convention of 2006. The writing team worked on endless drafts of our report to accommodate the views and phrases to which the majority of the House could agree. Our Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, said more than once, “No one is going to get everything they want.”

Two further elements in our response did ease the way for many of us. One was the expression of our “fervent hope” that the Archbishop of Canterbury would find a way to invite Bishop Gene Robinson to the Lambeth Conference next summer and to assure his full participation. Also, with our Presiding Bishop’s appointment of Episcopal visitors to dioceses not willing to receive her, we called for an immediate end to diocesan incursions by uninvited bishops in accordance with the Windsor Report and consistent with the statements of past Lambeth conferences and the Ecumenical Councils of the Church. We have not heard any response from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

For myself, I found the spirit of the Community of Bishops (as we call ourselves) much diminished since our meeting last spring. From that meeting we issued a statement profoundly descriptive of who we understand ourselves to be, absent the pressures of ‘compliance’ to the demands of the newly rising structures of authority and the doctrinal positions newly called the “standards of teaching” of the Anglican Communion. What we did in March was much like what our own deputation did in response to the Dar es Salam Communiqué, that is to say it was proactive and declarative, not defensive or reactive.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Executive Council Resolution on the New Orleans House of Bishops Meeting

Via email:

Resolved, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, meeting in Dearborn, Michigan, expresses its appreciation to the House of Bishops for undertaking the monumental task of trying to clarify the conflict between the canons of the Episcopal Church and the demands raised by the Dar E [sic] Salaam communiqué, and be it further

Resolved, the Executive Council affirms with the House of Bishops the essential and renewed study of human sexuality as noted in the “listening process” of the Lambeth Conference of 1998, and be it further

Resolved, that the House of Bishops’ statement exacerbated feelings of exclusion felt by many of the lesbian and gay members of our church by defining Resolution B033 from the 75th General Convention to include lesbian and gay people, and be it further

Resolved, that by calling particular attention to the application of B033 to lesbian and gay person [sic], it may inappropriately suggest that an additional qualification for the episcopacy has been imposed beyond those contained in the constitutions and canons of the church, and be it further

Resolved, that while B033 focuses on the consent process for bishops, the broader impact is to discourage the full participation by lesbians and gay persons in the life of the church and enshrine discrimination in the policies of the Episcopal Church, and be it further

Resolved, that the Executive Council acknowledge with regret the additional pain and estrangement inflicted on lesbian and gay members of the church, and we pledge to work toward a time when our church will fully respect the dignity of every human being in all aspects of the life of our church.

Update: Ralph Webb has some comments on this here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Support for US Bishops Wanes in Australia

General Synod was given the opportunity to record their own opinions in small group meetings. They heard the case for the Americans put by Robert Fordham, Australia’s representative on the global church’s top decision making body called the Anglican Consultative Council. The case against was presented by the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen.

It appeared that Dr Jensen’s speech was well-received by General Synod delegates.

“I am sure that the American response was well-intentioned,” he said. “But it has not yet healed the rift which opened as a result of their actions in 2003, because those actions arose from a way of looking at the world which most in the Communion believe to be unbiblical.”

During small group discussion, there was widespread concern expressed at the American response from across many Dioceses.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Archbishop Peter Jensen on the American House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans

How has the verdict of the Joint Standing Committee been received around the world? The Church of England Evangelical Council headed by Bishop Benn has dissented from it. Those American Bishops and Dioceses who have been planning to leave The Episcopal Church have not been stopped in their tracks. A large group of African Primates ”“ representative of the people who posed the questions ”“ have said, ”˜on first reading we find it to be unsatisfactory. The assurances made are without credibility and its preparation is severely compromised by numerous conflicts of interest. The report itself appears to be a determined effort to find a way for the full inclusion of The Episcopal Church with no attempt at discipline or change from their prior position.’

Why this dissent from the Joint Committee? It would of course be best to have the whole Dar Es Salaam communiqué, but, failing that, here are the two questions which were put to the Americans for an answer by September 30th:

”˜In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church

1.make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their diocese or through General Convention (cf TWR, 143, 144); and
2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, 134);
Unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, 134).’

We only have time to look at the response to the first request. The wording of the reply certainly does not give the assurance that is sought. The Americans were asked to restrain General Convention from authorising a Rite of Blessing; they could do this, I am told, by exercising what amounts to a veto; but they undertake only to refrain ”˜until General Convention takes further action’, a different proposition altogether. In fact the Primates used, and stressed the word unless, the Bishops replied with ”˜until’. The difference tells us something about the enthusiasm of many Americans to see these developments agreed to. In short the different heart of the Americans and the different heart of their critics is not going to understand these words in the same way even if they were not ambiguous. This is not black-letter dispute over words.
The Primates already knew that no rite has been approved as yet by General Convention; the Americans observe that the majority of bishops ”˜do not make allowance for the blessing of same sex unions.’ But that concedes the very point at issue. This is a practice allowed by some Bishops at least; perhaps many. The consequence is, then, if I understand the situation correctly, at least one American Bishop, though a believer in same-sex blessings, has now forbidden them occurring. He understood that even permitting them was not an option. But they will still occur elsewhere. Thus Bishop Chane of Washington is reported in Washington Window, his own newspaper, as saying, that, ”˜the Diocese of Washington does not have an authorised rite for blessing same-sex relationships. However, he added that the statement passed by the bishops will allow for such blessings to continue in the Diocese.’

And here are the honest reflections of Bishop Gene Robinson on what has occurred. ”˜Let me also state strongly that the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and the Primates misunderstood us when they stated that the HOB in fact “declared a moratorium on all such public Rites.” Neither in our discussions nor in our statement did we agree to or declare such a moratorium on permitting such rites to take place. That may be true in many or most dioceses, but that is certainly not the case in my own diocese and many others. The General Convention has stated that such rites are indeed to be considered within the bounds of the pastoral ministry of this Church to its gay and lesbian members, and that remains the policy of The Episcopal Church.’

I believe that this is what Canon Kearon was referring to when he spoke of the need for some episcopalian bishops to consider their position in the Communion. It already dents the modified rapture of the Joint Committee in saying, ”˜The Communion should move towards closure on these matters, at least for the time being,’ It certainly justifies the response of Bishop Mouneer and others. The matter is not resolved.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Two Bishops In Kentucky on the Recent House of Bishops Meeting

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Christian Century: Episcopal alternative formed; Africans urge Lambeth be postponed

Duncan said that the Diocese of Pittsburgh is scheduled to vote in early November on the first step in severing ties with the Episcopal Church.

The loose federation, with its own College of Bishops, hopes to garner favor domestically and abroad by using an “if we build it, they will come” strategy, according to Peter Frank, a spokesperson for Duncan. However, issues such as the ordination of women””some of the groups ordain women, some do not””remain to be decided, according to the Common Cause Council.

Bishop Martyn Minns, who heads the Nigerian-related Convocation of Anglicans in North America, told a telephone news conference September 26 that the participants “have different styles and approaches, but not differences” in doctrine.

The African “mission” links to dissident Episcopalians have been called “incursions” by the archbishop of Canterbury, but Minns, the former rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, Virginia, disagreed. “These are replies to the cries of help from this country.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

CEN: U.S. House of Bishops Letter Sparks Debate on Both Sides

The New Orleans Statement by the US House of Bishops has generated a wide and contradictory spate of explanatory letters and speeches from the American bishops to their dioceses. While the Primates ACC Joint Standing Committee’s report of Sept 30 argues the New Orleans statement complied with the primates’ request for a moratorium on gay bishops and blessings, liberal and conservative bishops in the US are united in saying it promised no such thing.

Speaking at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral on Sept 30, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said the US Church was ”˜not going backward’ on gay rights. “All people, including gay and lesbian Christians and non-Christians, are deserving of the fullest regard of the church,” she said, noting the New Orleans statement was part of a larger conversation leading to the full inclusion of gays and lesbians into the life of the church.

Pennsylvania Bishop Charles Bennison told his diocese he had voted against the New Orleans statement because he would not honour the gay bishop ban. The 2006 statement by the US General Convention to withhold consent for new gay bishops had been ”˜recommendatory, not canonically mandatory,’ meaning that ”˜compliance is voluntary’ he said. “I honestly could not promise I would not consent to the election of a gay or lesbian priest to the episcopate,” Bishop Bennison said.

Nor would Vermont honour the gay blessing ban. On Sept 28 Vermont Bishop Thomas Ely explained that the bishops had stated that “the majority of bishops make no allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions. Of course that means some bishops do” permit gay blessings. Bishop Ely said: “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.” He added that this was ”˜clearly addressed and understood in the House of Bishops’ and that gay blessings would be permitted.

Writing in the October issue of his diocesan newspaper, Washington Bishop John Chane stated that while his diocese did not yet have an official rite for the blessing of same-sex unions, the New Orleans statement would permit same-sex ”˜blessings to continue in the diocese’.

On Oct 9 the Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson stated the Primates-ACC Joint Standing committee had ”˜misunderstood us’ when it reported the American House of Bishops had ”˜declared a
moratorium on all such public Rites’ of same-sex blessings. “Neither in our discussions nor in our statement did we agree to or declare such a moratorium on permitting such rites to take place,” Bishop Robinson said, adding that while it may be true of some dioceses it “is certainly not the case in my own diocese and many others.”

Bishop Robinson said that he had urged the Bishops’ statement ”˜be reflective of what is true right now in the Episcopal Church: that while same-sex blessings are not officially permitted in most dioceses, they are going on and will continue to go on’. He stated that he was unhappy with the final statement that said a ”˜majority of Bishops do not sanction’ gay blessings. This ”˜implied that a minority do in fact sanction such blessings, and many more take no actions to prevent them’. It was a ”˜mistake’ not to ”˜come right out and [say] so’.

The conservative bishop of San Joaquin John-David Schofield agreed with Bishop Robinson that the New Orleans statement was “neither [a] prohibition nor [a] restraint.” It merely turns a ”˜blind eye’ to the issue.

The Bishop of Dallas, James Stanton, was more sanguine than Bishop Schofield about the statement, stating the deliberations surrounding the report had been the most open and frank in his 15 years as a bishop in debating the topic. “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,” he said.

The majority of US Bishops did not believe “our decisions as a House might be wrong and at any rate ought to be subject to the advice and concerns of our Communion brothers and sisters.” The final statement, he observed, was an admission that the centre could not hold and that the Church was ”˜walking apart’, Bishop Stanton concluded.

In a letter to the clergy of Central Florida, Bishop John W Howe stated he had voted against the final statement, saying it did not ”˜fully comply’ with the Primates’ requests ”˜but we came much closer than I ever thought we would’. The Bishops had made a “distinction between ”˜public Rite’ and ”˜private blessings’,” he said. Public rites would not be authorised, but there was ”˜an implicit acknowledgement that in some places private blessings are still being offered’, Bishop Howe wrote.

“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,” Bishop Howe said, adding
“whether or not that level was high enough remains to be seen.”

–This article appears in the Church of England Newspaper edition of October 19, 2007, on page 7

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

The Presiding Bishop Writes Her Fellow Bishops About Assessing Recent Events and Documents

From several emails.

My brothers and sisters:

I am grateful for the considered way in which the House worked together in New Orleans, and for our demonstration of solidarity with the people of Louisiana and Mississippi. I am finding that most of you would rather focus on the latter!

I have received from Rowan both a thank you for his time among us, and a copy of the Joint Standing Committee report. This has been posted online in a number of places, and I hope you have seen it by now.

Rowan is asking that I report to him by the end of October the sense of this Province, precisely on the following:

“…how far your province is able to accept the JSC Report assessment that the House of Bishops have (sic) responded positively to the requests of Windsor and of the Dar es Salaam message of the Primates. The report sets out clearly for us the requests that were made, both in the context of the Windsor Report and of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué; there are other issues that have been raised in general discussion around the Communion, and indeed in the TEC communiqué, but I hope you will concentrate on the very specific matters put before the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops. I shall welcome not only your reactions but also proposals for any next steps we should take together. My intention is firmly to honour the discernment of all the primates and the wider Communion at this juncture…”

Let me note that consultation in your Diocese will undoubtedly be helpful, and if you can give me an indication of what that looked like, I would be most grateful. I have finally had time to read all of the submissions on Communion Matters, and I am struck by the breadth of comment received and its coherence. Henry Parsley and the Theology Committee are to be deeply thanked for their effective work on this, in a short time-frame.

Please note the relatively short time available to do this – let me suggest that Monday, 29 October would be a helpful target – and that what is most needed are your brief impressions following conversation in your diocese.

I remain

Your servant in Christ,

(The Rt. Rev.) Katharine Jefferts Schori

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Windsor Report / Process

The Bishop of Southwest Florida on the House of Bishops New Orleans Statement

Archbishop Williams stated at one point that “perception is a fact.” I think that is a very helpful insight to remember. What we believe to be true (even if it is not) is held to be true. I read The New York Times article at the conclusion of the HOB meeting and was very disappointed. The headline and paragraphs of the article were the exact opposite of what happened at the meeting. I found it interesting that some were interviewed for the article that were not even present for the meeting; and that participants at the meeting were not interviewed.

My point is simple. Read the direct sources prayerfully for yourselves. Please read The House of Bishops’ response “to questions and concerns raised by our Anglican Communion partners.” Also read the article: Anglican Communion’s Secretary General reflects on House of Bishops meeting. You will be better and more clearly informed.

Read it all.

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

CEN Daily: Evangelical Rebuff for US Bishops

The leading evangelical umbrella group in the Church of England has given the thumbs down to the recent statement from the US House of Bishops, and they have invited English dioceses to consider boycotting next year’s Lambeth Conference.

The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) emphasised that they are committed both to the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. However they judged that the recent statement from the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans fell short of the demands made on it by the Primates.

In a statement they said: “We believe TEC’s response does not meet the requests of the Primates from Dar es Salaam, not merely for clarification but for repentance and turning back from their clear intention to affirm same-sex blessings and the consecration of practicing homosexuals to the episcopate.”

They said that the American bishops had ”˜continued to widen a gap of their own making’. As a result the fabric of the Communion is torn ”˜almost beyond repair’.

While they supported the proposed Anglican Covenant, they said that the reaction from the American bishops showed that ”˜this covenant may not hold’. And they went further. The contents of their statement showed, they claimed, that the US Church ”˜has placed itself outside the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the Catholic Creeds’.
In an appeal to English dioceses, they said that those dioceses that are linked with dioceses overseas should consult with their companion dioceses about whether to attend the Lambeth Conference.
A number of dioceses, largely in Africa, have said that they may not attend the 10-yearly meeting of the Anglican bishops. And last week the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali (pictured) revealed that if current arrangements stand, he might not be able to attend himself.
Sources have told The Church of England Newspaper that representatives from almost all the African Provinces have responded positively to their invitations to Lambeth, with the one exception being Uganda.
In their statement the CEEC said: “We prayerfully counsel Church of England bishops to consider whether in the light of TEC’s response they may wish to absent themselves.”
They added that the inclusive Gospel preached by Jesus was based on repentance, faith and the gift of the Spirit. “In effect TEC’s approach to inclusiveness excludes the majority of Anglicans from other provinces who are faithful to Biblical teaching. We affirm as the will of God the biblical teaching that we are called either to heterosexual marriage or celibacy.”

–This article appeared in the Church of England Newspaper daily edition of October 15, 2007

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

The Bishop of Indianapolis on the Release of the JSC report

What an amazing turn of events! The overall response of the Joint Committee to the House of Bishops message is positive ”“ yet the Evangelicals in the Church of England demand that the ABC denounce the church in the US over the possibility of consecrating a partnered gay to the episcopate – and our blessing of same sex unions! They threaten to divide the English church over this – just as TEC is threatened.

We simply have to be more vocal about this….the C of E blesses same-sex unions. The partnered homosexual clergy in the C of E are entitled, under British law, to register their relationships in order to gain the legal benefits accorded them. The C or E House of Bishops issued a statement to that effect in November or December of 2005.

Following that C of E HOB statement a condemnatory letter issued from Nigeria – reminding the English church that TEC and others were being ostracized for that sort of thing. But outrage at the C of E does not seem to have any staying power — either in other parts of the Communion or in TEC. When Bishop Mark Sisk and I asked the ABC about same-sex blessings – about what the difference is between what happens in the Cof E and what happens in some places here he answered, “They ( in England) are not public.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Central Pa Episcopal bishop talks about homosexuality and the Anglican church

Q: What has been the situation in this diocese?

A: I have said to the diocese that there will be no permission for blessing of same-sex unions until the General Convention of this church has made a decision.

That is not because I feel that faithful persons in a chaste, loving relationship should not have the grace of God acknowledged by a blessing, but I also am bound as a bishop of the church to be responsible and faithful and obedient.

Q: You said in New Orleans that “sometimes traveling as a body means slowing down the pace, in the hope that all can make the journey.” What should gay and lesbian Episcopalians understand when you say that?

A: I want them to hear that the commitment to the journey of full inclusion continues. We don’t know what it will ultimately look like. But we want them to know we’re still on the journey.

What I have found is that many gay and lesbian Christians are concerned not just about their sacramental inclusion, but about the church. Many have shared that they’re willing for us to pause and have that conversation. There are some who are pretty angry, and I understand that.

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

Bp. Paul Marshall reflects on New Orleans and the Anglican Communion in his convention address

Here’s an excerpt from Bp. Paul Marshall’s convention address to the Diocese of Bethlehem this weekend:

Comment is needed in the aftermath of the late meeting of House of Bishops. I need to say something different from what other bishops may be saying in their conventions because the Bethlehem deputation in 2006 did not vote for the General Convention Resolution that the bishops were seeking to “clarify” for the primates. Something we were not favor of in the first place has been intensified.

Every single news report I have read about that meeting does not resemble the meeting I attended. Let me just say that I remain perplexed by the action and more perplexed by the process in New Orleans, but as always, I think God is providing a spiritual opportunity for me.

I find that as just a few years ago I had to learn to be a gracious “winner,” if such a term is ever appropriate, when the church was moving my way, now I must learn to be a gracious “loser,” if such a term is ever appropriate, when that course is reversed or halted. For some of you those poles are reversed, and it is your turn to be a gracious winner. Some of you may well feel keen disappointment and even rejection as a result of my colleagues’ clarifications. As those of you who accepted the invitation to meet with me two weeks ago know, I believe that your pain is deep and proportionate. I will not presume to say that I can feel anyone else’s pain, but I certainly recognize and grieve its existence, as do many, many people in this diocese.

Beyond that, I must also say that I believe we have held together as a diocesan community during a turbulent three decades not because our range of opinion and conviction is narrower than that found elsewhere in the Episcopal Church. We have held together because of discipline, the tough discipline we practice of keeping our focus on Christ rather than ourselves, the tough discipline of genuinely honoring the conscience of every member of this diocese and welcoming the gifts the Holy Spirit bestows on the Church through each of the baptized. In previous years in this room I have had to reassure those who might be considered conservative of this fundamental principle of our life. I find myself today needing to reassure those who might be considered liberal or progressive of the same thing, that the only disciples of Jesus excluded in this diocese are those who exclude themselves.

I do not know how to predict if what the Archbishop of Canterbury and our domestic leadership wanted of and got from the majority bishops of this church will be effective or productive, and having no power in the matter have chosen to cease from worrying about the behavior or witness of any bishop other than myself.
So here is where I am. My understanding of my relationship with Christ means that I am not personally able to sacrifice individual lives or the dignity of any follower of Jesus to even the most benign dreams of world-wide ecclesiastical empire, but will do my utmost to stay in real and effective communion with Anglicans in every place on the globe.

As the designated chief sinner of the diocese, I will continue to try to honor each of you as God’s works in progress, living stones built into a marvelous temple for the praise of God the Father. As Habbakuk was taught in last Sunday’s first lesson, we do not know how things will turn out but we do know that the future belongs to God and we are to keep busy letting people know that there is a vision. We need to do that communicating, the prophet was told, in letters
so big that joggers may read them. Translation: it must be unmistakable in our words and deeds that we trust the God who made each of us and that we are moving ahead in that trust.

In saying that I do not mean to say that we should pretend that our varying understandings do not exist. On the contrary, I meant something active and powerful and traditionally Anglican ”“ that is, in honoring and exploring our differences, we may generate the way through them to a place nobody would have imagined.
Let me dwell on this for just a minute. I just spoke of 400 years of Anglicanism in Virginia, now let me go back a mere 40 years, to a non-Anglican in California. In 1967, Dr. Ralph Greenson, “psychiatrist to the stars” and medical professor in Los Angeles, wrote about the tendency of his colleagues not to communicate with each about their disagreements in theories or practice. Remember, these are psychiatrists who weren’t communicating. Listen to his observations from 1967. Where you hear the language of his vocation, insert the language of our life as disciples. Ask whether Greenson’s words do not speak to our situation:

Those who wish to suggest innovations or modifications of technique do not usually confer with others who are more traditional in their viewpoint. They tend to form cliques and to work underground, or at least segregated from the mainstream… As a consequence the innovators are apt to lose contact with those groups”¦ that might help validate, clarify, and amend their new ideas. The secluded innovators are prone to becomes “wild analysts,” while the conservatives, due to their own insularity, tend to become rigid with orthodoxy. Instead of influencing one another constructively they each go their separate ways as adversaries, blind to whatever benefits each might have gained from an opening and continuing discussion. (The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis I, p. 2)

To put his observation in spiritual terms, we grow when we risk exploring each other’s perceptions and applications of biblical truth to test and strengthen our own grasp of God’s will for us. I would say that it is quite one thing to think that one possesses truth and quite another thing to experience oneself as being possessed by truth. Whether it is an old truth or a new truth, they who believe they own the truth will become rigid and defensive. They who believe they are possessed by truth, new or old, find themselves in joyful service to the truth, and willingly engage others so that all members of the conversation can be productive and balanced. Rigidity and disconnection are the enemies of spiritual growth in conservatives and liberals alike.

The value of the worldwide Communion, when it is working well, is that those who see something new and those who cherish something old, are in a position to grow in a conversation that is truly catholic. At the moment, at least, that possibility still exists and, like many, I hope that the long-promised conversation may actually get started.

The full text is here.

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

Rebuff for Episcopal Green Light

By George Conger

THE NEW Orleans statement of the US House of Bishops has ”˜clarified all outstanding questions’ posed by the Primates to the American Church, a report prepared by the Primates/ACC Joint Standing Committee (JSC) has found.

However, the 19-page report has been dismissed as dishonest by US conservatives, and its conclusions rejected by the African churches. Observers note the clumsy attempt of the JSC to usurp the prerogatives of the Primates, and to become a de facto fifth ”˜instrument of unity,’ has served to worsen the already bitter climate within the Communion.

The Primates had asked the US Church to clarify the statement of its 2006 General Convention that it would not permit the election of more gay bishops or authorise gay blessings, that an autonomous scheme for pastoral oversight be given to traditionalists, and that the lawsuits against breakaway conservative parishes would cease.

At their March meeting the US bishops invited Dr Williams and the members of the Primates Standing Committee to meet with them face-to-face to avert a blow up. Over the summer this invitation was enlarged by the ACC staff to include itself and the ACC standing committee. In New Orleans the US Bishops pledged ”˜as a body’ to ”˜exercise restraint’ in electing gay bishops, pledged not to authorise ”˜public rites’ of same-sex blessings, and agreed to delegated pastoral oversight for traditionalists under the supervision of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. It declined to address the issue of lawsuits, and chastised Global South Primates for violating their jurisdictions in providing support for traditionalist congregations.

The JSC concluded that this response satisfied the Primates’ requests and added the US was correct in citing the ”˜ancient councils of the Church’ in protesting border crossings. The Primates were hypocrites in demanding the US church refrain from implementing gay bishops and blessings while they permitted the border crossings to go on. “[W]e do not see how certain Primates can in good conscience call upon The Episcopal Church to meet the recommendations of the Windsor Report while they find reasons to exempt themselves from paying
regard to them.

“We recommend that the Archbishop remind them of their own words and undertakings,” the report said.

Crafted in a late night session on Sept 24 by Bishop Jefferts Schori and the JSC, the statement was adopted with amendments by the bishops on Sept 25. Critics of the report charge it is disingenuous of the ACC to give an independent endorsement of a report that it helped write, and question the US Presiding Bishop’s role as defendant, judge and jury in the process.

Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda called the report ”˜severely compromised, and the gross conflicts of interest it represents utterly undermine its credibility.’ He said the Primates did not envision the ACC inserting itself in the process while the US was ”˜considering our requests. Yet, members of the [JSC] met with Presiding Bishop Schori in the course of the preparation
of their House of Bishops’ statement in order to suggest certain words, which, if included in the statement, would assure endorsement by the [JSC].

”˜Presiding Bishop Schori’s participation in the evaluation of the response requested of her province is a gross conflict of interest. We wonder why she did not recuse herself.’ Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt, a member of the JSC delegation in New Orleans repudiated the report saying the US had given an inadequate response. “Instead they used ambiguous language and contradicted themselves within their own response,” he said.

The African archbishops also questioned the integrity of the JSC report, stating last Friday that: “On first reading we find it to be unsatisfactory. The assurances made are without credibility and its preparation is severely compromised by numerous conflicts of interest. The report itself appears to be a determined effort to find a way for the full inclusion of The Episcopal Church with no attempt at discipline or change from their prior position.”

The JSC report will be forwarded to all of the members of the Anglican Consultative Council and the primates for consideration. Archbishop Rowan Williams has asked for
their responses by the end of October.

–This article appears on page 8 of today’s edition of the Church of England Newspaper

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Gene Robinson addresses gay Mormons

Washington Blade: What is your reaction to the House of Bishops statement released last week?

Bishop Gene Robinson: My take on what happened is “not much” and that’s what a number of us were working for. The bishops in our church don’t speak for the whole church. Our church only speaks when bishops and clergy and laity are gathered. Unlike many other churches, the bishops do not speak for the whole church. So it was not within our authority to do something different than what the General Convention did last summer. It was largely a restatement of where we already were. My thought is that sometimes progress is holding the ground you’ve already gained when moving forward is either untimely or politically not possible. I think that’s what we did….

Blade: What do you say to gay Christians who are struggling under the weight of their own church’s oppression? Is it better to stay and fight or leave and join a gay-friendly church?

Robinson: That’s a very personal choice. I would recommend that everyone stay and work hard in the denomination and religious communities they find to be home. But I also understand that in some places, in some congregations and environments it has become so toxic to one’s spiritual life that it may not be possible. To find spiritual solace, comfort and inspiration someplace else is also a reasonable choice. In the end, I don’t think God wants any one of us to sacrifice our spiritual life on this or any other altar. It’s up to each person to assess where they are in their own relationship with God and to discern whether that relationship is so strong that you can stay in a somewhat hostile environment to work for change. And if you can’t, then go someplace that does feed you.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Some TEC Bishops attempt to exploit a perceived loophole and hide the truth

We elves and some of our friends have been busy analyzing TEC bishops’ statements. We’ve found a troubling pattern. We hope this analysis will be helpful, and encourage you to circulate this widely. (please credit T19 if you do circulate this)

—-
Important Update: In the course of discussing this with readers, I’ve realized I made a mistake in lumping together the five bishops who included the “breadth of response” language in their responses to the New Orleans statement. In particular [b]+Ed Little[/b] should not just have been lumped in the list as if he was trying to exploit some loophole. Upon re-reading his statement, that would be clearly UNTRUE. Please see my comment #44 below. Apologies for the confusion and not giving +Little’s statement more careful attention. It shouldn’t have been just lumped in the batch. –elfgirl

Some TEC Bishops try to exploit a perceived loophole and hide the truth

In my work the other night compiling and organizing various TEC bishops’ letters and statements following the New Orleans HoB meeting, one phrase began to leap out at me as it was repeated and emphasized by quite a few TEC bishops. Some among the TEC bishops, notably +Jack McKelvey, seemed to be claiming that the public same sex blessings occurring in their dioceses fall under the Primates’ allowance of a “breadth of private pastoral response.”

Two examples should suffice, though at least 5 bishops, and perhaps others, have highlighted this phrase in their discussions of the New Orleans HoB meeting:

+Duncan Gray of Mississippi:

We also articulated, again as requested, the fact that this church has never authorized the blessing of same gender unions. We spoke clearly to the fact that a majority of dioceses already function on this matter in the way that we do in this diocese. We also made reference, as the Primate of Australia suggested we do, to the fact that the Primates themselves have affirmed that pastoral care for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters requires the Communion ”˜to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care.”

+Jack McKelvey of Rochester, (a bishop and diocese who are on record (see pp 11 ”“ 13) as supporting and allowing public SSBs for nearly 30 years):

We quoted the Primates in their May 2003 statement saying that we have a pastoral duty, “to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations.” They further stated, “. . . It is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care.” This will be honored in the Diocese of Rochester and I believe in many dioceses throughout our church.

+Larry Benfield of Arkansas(a diocese which had just recently, under +Benfield’s predecessor +Larry Maze, begun to allow public SSBs to be conducted by its clergy; +Benfield may be changing the policy in the diocese, it is not yet totally clear.) also specifically cited “breadth of private response” language, as did +Henry Parsley of Alabama and +Ed Little of Northern Indiana.

So, what were the Primates actually affirming in May 2003, and is the TEC HoB’s adoption of this phrase consistent with the original usage or intent? It appears that this is a key question. Let’s trace the history of this language and the intent behind the original language, first looking at the actual use of this phrase in New Orleans.

1. TEC HoB Usage of the Phrase “Breadth of … response” in New Orleans

On Sept. 24, in the midst of the TEC HoB meeting, TitusOne Nine published the proposed draft of the TEC response to the primates. That draft response included this section:

5. Because we are a liturgical church our actions concerning blessings are expressed in public liturgies. No rite of blessing for persons living in same sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. We wish to make it clear that the House of Bishops has not voted to authorize such liturgies. Even in the absence of such public rites, we acknowledge that the blessing of same sex unions, no matter how public or private, is unacceptable to some of our brothers and sisters in our own House, in our church, and in the Communion. The issue remains perplexing for us as we seek to balance these concerns about rites of blessing and the pressing pastoral need that confronts us. We wish to offer respect for these differing viewpoints.

We are grateful that the Primates have articulated their support for meeting the individual pastoral needs of gay and lesbian persons. In 2003 they wrote “there is a duty of pastoral care that is laid upon all Christians to respond with love and understanding to homosexual persons.” The Primates have written that there must be a breadth of private and pastoral responses to individual situations. It is the case that for many decades, the Episcopal Church has explored the most faithful ways of ministering to and with gay and lesbian people who are part of our common life. We acknowledge that in some of our dioceses this includes the blessing of same sex unions.

Note how here the proposed text explicitly acknowledges the public blessings of same-sex unions occurring in various dioceses and tries to claim that such blessings fall under the “breadth of … pastoral responses” envisioned by the Primates. The TEC bishops suggest and appear to want to believe that the only matter of concern to the Primates was the official authorization of liturgical rites for same-sex blessings at a national level, in spite of the fact that the Dar es Salaam Communiqué explicitly stated the Primates’ concern about TEC’s “pastoral provision” in various dioceses.

In the final statement from New Orleans, that section re: Same-sex blessings was modified to read as follows:

Blessing of Same-Sex Unions

We, the members of the House of Bishops, 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. We do note that in May 2003 the Primates said we have a pastoral duty “to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations.” They further stated, “…It is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care.”

Again, the TEC bishops are trying to claim that the Primates’ 2003 statement would encompass and allow the current practice of public same sex blessings occurring in many TEC dioceses.

As noted, the language in question goes back to the May 2003 Primates’ Communiqué following the Primates meeting in Gramado, Brazil. Let’s look at that more closely…

Read it all (you can also download this)

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

Another bishop weighs in on the HoB meeting: +Burnett of Nebraska

Another bishop acknowledges that blessings freely occur, even if they’re not “authorized:”

With regard to the question of same-sex blessings, we also reiterated what has already been said many times before, that most bishops/dioceses do not provide for these. The fact is, no bishop can “authorize” rites in any institutional sense apart from the action of General Convention. That such blessings do occur in some places and at some times is a pastoral reality. These blessings are “outside” the official umbrella of the authorization of General Convention. However, they are within the provisions of the resolution of General Convention 2003 which affirmed that such pastoral actions are “within the bounds of our common life.”

[via e-mail]

A Brief Reflection on the Recent Statement from the House of Bishops
The Rt. Rev. Joe G. Burnett

[Note: the full text of the Bishops’ Statement follows this reflection.]

At the conclusion of our recent meeting in New Orleans, some one hundred and fifty bishops approved a document entitled Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners. This approval came on a voice vote with only one audible dissenting vote. Anytime such a document receives this level of support in our diverse community of bishops, you can be sure that it either represents a wide consensus, or that it reflects the fact that most, if not all, of those present and voting are not completely happy with the results, but have chosen to compromise on one or more elements. My own sense is that the latter reality is in play here. And my guess is that individual members of our own diocese will find themselves in a similar place, i.e., in agreement with some parts of the statement, but not with others.

As I think about what we said in New Orleans, I am reminded of an old saw about preaching: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. And then tell them what you told them.” In many ways, our statement was part three of that homiletic counsel. We told them (our Anglican Communion partners) what we have already told them twice before.

Our statement of Response is in three parts: (1) an introduction and preamble; (2) a “bullet point” summary; and (3) an elaboration and explanation of the bullet points. Also, this statement is carefully worded and nuanced. An accurate interpretation of any one part must be undertaken in terms of the overall content of the whole.

In short, here is my interpretation, followed by a couple of closing comments.

First, we said nothing new in terms of our strong desire to remain part of the Anglican Communion, or in terms of our responses to requests that have been made of us by our Anglican Communion partners.

Our description of General Convention resolution B033 was just that””a description””along with a word about what we believe the resolution means to most bishops. I say “most,” because some of the bishops feel bound by this resolution, and some do not. I count myself in the latter group, as I believe it is canonically and constitutionally inconsistent for bishops and/or standing committees to surrender, categorically and in advance, the sacred duty to give or to withhold consent to any Episcopal consecration.

With regard to the question of same-sex blessings, we also reiterated what has already been said many times before, that most bishops/dioceses do not provide for these. The fact is, no bishop can “authorize” rites in any institutional sense apart from the action of General Convention. That such blessings do occur in some places and at some times is a pastoral reality. These blessings are “outside” the official umbrella of the authorization of General Convention. However, they are within the provisions of the resolution of General Convention 2003 which affirmed that such pastoral actions are “within the bounds of our common life.”

In keeping with this theme we also reaffirmed our message to the church from our Spring 2007 meeting in which we called for justice and dignity for gay and lesbian persons throughout the world, and, in particular, across the Anglican Communion.

Second, we reaffirmed our intention to live within the constitutional and canonical framework of The Episcopal Church. We did this not only by affirming our Presiding Bishop’s plan for “Episcopal Visitors,” but also by acknowledging that changes of policy on various issues could only occur by action of General Convention””and quite apart from any “consensus” in the wider Communion.

Third, we strongly urged an end to extra-provincial incursions by uninvited bishops. We insisted on fulfillment of the promise to implement a “listening process” around the Communion on matters of human sexuality. And we encouraged the Archbishop of Canterbury in his “expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference.”

Finally, I offer two thoughts””one hopeful and one not so.

Here is the hopeful thought: Since our meeting I have been heartened by the generally positive response to our statement by the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates””many of whom, by the way, share our frustration that we have been prodded by a few (who do not have the authority to do so) to go through these machinations. I hope this process will lead to a more productive unity with those who really do cherish the broad traditions of Anglicanism. We shall see.

My not so hopeful thought, however, has to do with my nagging sense that in our fervor to preserve the institutional ties within our Communion, in some cases with provinces and persons who have already declared themselves out of communion with us, we have yet again postponed our full commitment to a truly inclusive church. If that is the case, then I seriously doubt that what we have said and done in New Orleans will either preserve the Anglican Communion as we have known it, or promote the gospel of Jesus as we have received it.

As always, I stand ready to visit and discuss these issues with clergy groups and or parish groups across our diocese.

Grace and peace,
+Joe

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

The Bishop of Iowa Writes on the New Orleans House of Bishops Meeting

One statement produced four different headlines: “Episcopal Bishops stand their ground” (The Times- Picayune, New Orleans), “Episcopal Bishops reject Anglican Church’s orders” (New York Times), “Episcopal Bishops make concessions for the sake of unity” (USA Today), and “Episcopal leaders pledge ”˜restraint’ on gay support” (Des Moines Register). As one who was there and engaged in the discussion and response, I would write “Episcopal Bishops seek to offer clarity and transparency to the Anglican Communion”.

In our statement in response to the Primates’ Communiqué the House of Bishops reinforced first that we would not consent to any one elected as bishop whose manner of life was a challenge to the Communion, and we clarified that this resolution (General Convention resolution B003) pertained to non-celibate gay and lesbian persons. We underscored how this response from General Convention had been accepted by the ACC’s own Working Sub Group set up to evaluate our responses to the Windsor Report. Second, we upheld that we have never and will not in the current time authorize any official rites for same sex blessings. We added that a majority of bishops do not allow their clergy to offer the local pastoral option for same sex couples of an unofficial or private rite, even though the Primates own statement from 2003 indicates that such offerings are pastorally sensitive. We were also clear that some bishops do permit their clergy to make local pastoral provisions for such couples. All in all it struck me that this statement alone was an indication of a serious roll back from 2003, as I am sure some bishops of that majority have ceased such permissions since that time. The distinction of practice between authorizing rites and local option allowance was something the ACC representatives wanted to know about. It was a clarity that allowed for greater unity across the floor of the House of Bishops.

The third area concerned the refusal in March and then in June by the Executive Council for a pastoral council made up of representatives from beyond this Province to overview the concerns of the dioceses who could not accept the Presiding Bishop’s authority. We upheld our position, but asked the Presiding Bishop to explore ways to create such a sounding board through which the Communion could engage us in regular conversation about things that come up that might be potentially problematic. The Presiding Bishop announced a team of Episcopal visitors ”“ all bishops on the conservative spectrum of the House ”“ including for example the Bishop of Dallas whom it was hoped would be acceptable to a bishop like his neighbor in Fort Worth. The ACC representatives assured us that a pastoral council would not infringe on our autonomous polity but be a source for preliminary conversation for things that might come up of a challenging nature which could then be marked as such. We hoped that such a council might include radar that swings 360 degrees and is not only pointed at The Episcopal Church. The council would be made up of all the ministry orders: lay, non episcopal clergy and bishops.

In these responses, I believe that we did what we were asked, and then went further to speak about jurisdictional boundary crossings, the ongoing listening process for gay and lesbian believers, our ongoing support as a Communion to the rights of gay and lesbians around the world, and a request to explore Gene Robinson’s potential invitation to the Lambeth Conference. The complete statement was accepted by the House of Bishops with only one nay vote, and that from a bishop who was standing by his GC vote against B033. Bishops who had been unable to sign on to our statement from the March House of Bishops, and Bishops who had rose to distance themselves from B033 at its passing at General Convention 2006, and Bishops who had risen to protest the inability simply to pass the Windsor report at that same Convention all declared themselves of one mind in our response to the Primates. One mind did not mean of the same opinion on the matters at hand, but that we had stated our positions as clearly and openly as we could. Only those who had already decided on the outcome and seemed to be there only to be heard by the Archbishop of Canterbury ”“ Pittsburgh, West Kansas and Quincy ”“ leaving when he did, as well as those who did not attend at all”“ Fort Worth, San Joaquin and Springfield ”“ exempted themselves from the response process altogether.

The Bishop of Rio Grande, however, was in a class by himself, as with great emotion and humility he announced his resignation from The Episcopal Church and his desire to enter the Roman Catholic Church. His profound, personal theological statement and his warmth of feeling for his fellow Bishops as he explained his reasons, was a highlight. In one sense it was the Church at its best in a most sorrowful time, and the standing ovation and embraces he received afterwards will never be forgotten. It was a marked contrast to the arrogance that has been a part of our dispute.

As with most historical and critical times, there was drama. An early draft of where we might be, provided by a selected Writing Committee, was rejected from both sides as non representative, unclear and unhelpful. That draft unfortunately was released as “our statement” by an unknown source as we worked on the process in open session. Even the New York Times “bit” early and Bishops had to send out disclaimers through their diocesan communications officers, warning against premature reactivity among their people.
Whether our own statement will be sufficient for the Archbishop and for those who assess it officially is to be seen. Certainly we were left in no doubt about the seriousness of the requests upon us. The Archbishop ended his statements by stating on the one hand that we were not under any deadline or facing an ultimatum, but went on to say, on the other, that “what happens in these next few days will enable growth to go forward or not.”

For me, three things were very clear. There was not a soul in the place that did not with great affection and passion appreciate their fellowship in the Anglican Communion, and we have to a large extent sought to make space for the broader conversation if members of the Communion really want it. The Archbishop and the members of the Joint Standing Committees of the ACC and the Primates indicated by their presence how much they seek that conversation. We are not however as a Church going to embrace a perspective on gay and lesbian believers which excludes them. That is a missional stance for many of us. And finally through our engagement with the city and people of New Orleans and of the Mississippi Coastal communities, and witnessing their efforts to come back from the devastation of Katrina and the breaking of the levees, we received an incredible charge to be restorers of paths to dwell in. In addition we were challenged by Dr Paul Farmer who works in his volunteer time to bring about the eradication of poverty and disease around the world to see that our constituency as bishops is equal to that of the public representatives of our cities and states and our voices and energy need to be displayed in the public arena. I was reminded that this is the conversation that was going on in the House of Bishops as I joined it, and one that caught my imagination then and still does today.

Out of the breaking of our Communion’s levees, I believe that the Holy Spirit is bringing us back around to God’s great and continuous agenda. It is the agenda of God’s mission which we can do in the unique relationships across the globe called the Anglican Communion, and it is an agenda I know we will continue with our partners already made around the globe. In fact it is also really an agenda we need to seek to carry out in an ever expanding communion of all of Christ’s followers regardless of our diverse and particular ecclesiological personalities. For there is never a shortage of opportunity to be united in mission, if we have the will. In fact life is too short to have it any other way, and the need for God’s love and care too great and too urgent.

–(The Rt. Rev.) Alan Scarfe is Bishop of Iowa

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Bishop Rabb of Maryland Writes about the recent House of Bishops Meeting

On the matter of the concerns before us from the Primates and the rest of the Anglican Communion, I want to offer a few reflections. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, was with us to both hear from us and to share with us. In addition were members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates. They listened to us, were fully a part of our work, and spoke to us. I believe that we came away with a better understanding of one another. Of greatest importance, is that we understand what it means to be in communion, and on an even deeper level, what it means to be the Church. We are in challenging times, and also times of great opportunity, if we can truly listen to one another and walk together. My analogy is that when people are trying to walk and talk it is often the case that one is walking ahead of the other which makes it impossible for the other to hear or be heard. My hope and my prayer is that this meeting will make it possible for us to walk together and to truly listen, one to the other. Some of you may feel that we gave up too much; others may feel that we did not go far enough. I understand these feelings. It is critical that you know I have never seen the House of Bishops work more respectfully or more prayerfully. All bishops were engaged, across the theological spectrum.

Read it all.

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

The Bishop of Albany Writes his Diocese About New Orleans and the Anglican Communion

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As most of you are well aware, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church met September 19th -25th in New Orleans. Immediately following was a meeting of The Common Cause Partnership, held in Pittsburgh, September 25th – 28th. I attended both meetings, the second of which as an observer. Rather than come out with some statement immediately upon my return, I felt it necessary to take a few days to pray and reflect on all that occurred, as well as deal with all the diocesan business that was awaiting me upon my return. I would now like to share some of my thoughts and observations. I greatly appreciate your patience.
Regarding the House of Bishops’ Meeting, there were some hopeful things that occurred, as well as some frustrating and disappointing things, all of which I will speak more about in the following response. The main task confronting the bishops going into the meeting was how to respond to the February 2007 Dar es Salaam Communiqué from the Primates of the Anglican Communion.
Essentially we were asked to make a clear response to four areas of concern:
1) Will the House of Bishops 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?
2) Will the House of Bishops confirm that the passing of Resolution BO33 of the 75th
General Convention means that a candidate for Episcopal orders living in a same sex union
shall not receive the necessary consent; unless some new consensus on these matters
emerges across the Communion?
3) Will the House of Bishops allow participation in the pastoral scheme proposed in the Dar
es Salaam Communiqué which would provide an alternative Primatial Vicar for those
dioceses requesting it?
4) Will the House of Bishops respond favorably to the urging from the Primates for representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes to suspend all legal actions against one another?
The statement made by the House of Bishops in response to the four areas of concern just mentioned can be found on the Diocesan Website: http://www.albanyepiscopaldiocese.org/news/other/071002.html. As you might expect, there has been a great deal of debate and speculation these past several days regarding the bishops’ response and how it will be received by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Anglican Communion.
While some believe that the Bishops’ Statement adequately addresses the Primates’ concerns and will thereby be favorably received, helping to mend the “tear in the fabric” of our common life in Christ, others argue that it is more of the same, falling far short of the clear unequivocal response requested by the Primates. Unfortunately, the recently released Joint Standing Committee (JSC) Report on the House of Bishops’ response only adds to the confusion.

On the one hand the JSC report states, “We believe that the Episcopal Church has clarified all outstanding questions relating to their response to the questions directed explicitly to them, and on which clarifications were sought by the 30th of September and given the necessary assurance sought of them.” However, as stated by Archbishop Mouneer Aris, Primate of Jerusalem and the
Middle East, “It is very unfortunate that not all the members of the JSC were present when a response to the House of Bishops of TEC was drafted. The lack of discussion and interaction will not produce a report that expresses the view of the whole committee.” He went on to say, “the House of Bishops has not responded positively to either the Windsor Report or the Dar es Salam Primates’ recommendations.”
Ultimately, Archbishop Rowan Williams and the other Primates will decide for themselves as to the adequacy of the Bishops’ Statement. A copy of the JSC report has been sent to all the Anglican Communion Primates and members of the Anglican Consultive Council with the request that they respond back to the Archbishop of Canterbury by the end of October.
Given the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves in, with the very future of the Anglican Communion, The Episcopal Church and ultimately the Diocese of Albany at stake, I urge each of us to keep the Archbishop of Canterbury along with the other Primates and members of the ACC in our prayers as they attempt to discern God’s will in how best to move forward. This truly is a critical time in the life of the Church. As we have all been reminded, the very fabric of the Anglican Communion has been torn. The decisions that will be made in the coming weeks and months could very well determine whether the fabric can be mended or whether it will be completely ripped in half, leading to the breakup of the Anglican Communion. I believe such a development would be tragic, delivering a major blow to all of Christendom.
In John’s Gospel, we read Jesus’ prayer for unity, “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one”¦I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world”¦I ask you to protect them from the evil one”¦Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”¦I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:11, 14, 17, 20-21, 23) May our Lord ’s prayer for unity be our prayer. We are not just talking about the future relationship of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. The spread of the Gospel and the salvation of countless souls are at stake. The current environment within the Episcopal Church, with all the attacks and infighting is not very conducive to bringing people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
It is time to call a truce in the current battle, to give us time to rethink the road I am afraid the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion may very well go down if we are not careful. There is enough guilt, blame, pain and hurt to cover all sides. It is easy to point fingers at one another, blaming the other for the mess that we are in, but the reality is, we are all guilty. We have all contributed to the broken state of affairs in the Church ”“ conservative, liberal, orthodox, revisionist — whatever classification or label we might have. We are all in need of asking for forgiveness and offering forgiveness. Part of the House of Bishops inability to work more closely with one another and with the wider Anglican Communion is a result of past hurts and offenses that have never healed, been forgiven, or honestly dealt with. With that said, however, there are hopeful signs with the current governance of the House of Bishops that some healing can start taking place.
Genuine theological differences are another major contributing factor to the House’s inability to offer a more clear response to the Primates’ request. While the final statement made by the House of Bishops was much better than it started out, it fell far short of what I and several other Windsor Bishops had hoped for. It does however show the division within the House over the issues we are struggling with. Much of the apparent ambiguity in the response was actually an indication that the House is not all of one mind, but in fact is divided, despite various statements to suggest otherwise.
In the March 2007 Statement from the House of Bishops, the following remark was made: “In truth, the number of those who seek to divide our Church is small”¦The fact that we have among ourselves, and indeed encourage, a diversity of opinion on issues of sexuality should in no way be misunderstood to mean that we are divided, except among a very few, in our love for The Episcopal Church”¦”
During the House of Bishops Meeting, I along with other conservative bishops challenged the above statement. At the very least I believe this statement is inaccurate and fails to acknowledge the pain, frustration, embarrassment and anger that thousands of theologically conservative and orthodox Episcopalians are experiencing throughout the Episcopal Church. I’m not sure what is more frustrating, the fact that the statement was ever made, or that some actually believe it in light of the growing exodus of some of our largest parishes to include Christ Church, Plano (the largest Episcopal Church in the nation); Falls Church, VA; Truro Church, VA; the Pro Cathedral of St. Clement, El Paso; as well as numerous other smaller churches around the country, not to mention the tens of thousands of individual Episcopalians who have left the Episcopal Church in the last few years to go elsewhere because they cannot support the current direction of the National Church and because they are tired of fighting. In discussing the March statement, I pointed out that not only did I believe it was inaccurate for the reasons just mentioned, but to suggest that the number of people upset about the current state of affairs in the Church is “small” or “a very few” is insulting, insinuating that their views are insignificant. I stated, “I don’t consider myself or others who share similar theological views to be insignificant.” Fortunately, attempts to put similar statements in the September HOB response were not approved.
In the various attempts these past several years, as well intentioned as some of them may have been, to correct past injustices and make The Episcopal Church more inclusive, reaching out to the marginalized in society (particularly within the homosexual community), the Church has unfortunately become more exclusive, creating a new class of victims ”“ the traditional orthodox believers. Clergy and laity alike, who acknowledge the authority of Holy Scripture, recognizing it as the revealed Word of God, and who believe the faith proclaimed in the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, as well as the traditional moral teachings of the Church, now find themselves under attack not only from the world as Jesus warned they would, but even more disturbingly, from within the Church itself. I believe the growing exodus of thousands and thousands of Episcopalians out of the Episcopal Church to CANA, AMiA, and the various other Anglican bodies that are springing up bear witness to the truth of this statement. The average Sunday attendance in The Episcopal Church across the United States is now under 800,000.
If we are to stop the current downward spiral of The Episcopal Church and the unraveling of the Anglican Communion, it is essential that the leadership of the Episcopal Church (Lay and Ordained) as well as the leadership of the wider Anglican Communion acknowledge the reality of the crisis we are in and then commit ourselves to work together to identify and honestly address the issues that have brought us to this point. While some are working toward this goal, much more still needs to be done. One thing is certain, if there is to be a turn around in the Church, there must be a viable place for the conservative orthodox voice. I was pleased at the September meeting that more conservative orthodox bishops began speaking up. I was also encouraged by the greater sense of cooperation between bishops of highly differing views. The warm reception that I, as a conservative bishop, have personally received by the vast majority of the bishops has been greatly appreciated and ads to my sense of hope for the future.
Some of the major problems we find ourselves confronted with include how to work through the very real theological differences in understanding of Holy Scripture and its authority in our lives; how to live out one’s human sexuality in a manner that is pleasing to God; how to best minister to those who find themselves to be homosexual; and what it means to live in communion with one another, exercising appropriate discipline when necessary while at the same time not falling into Satan’s trap of dividing ourselves into opposing camps at war with one another. As Jesus himself said, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house.” (Luke 11:17) The more we divide the weaker and less effective we become in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
While not compromising Himself by conforming to or adopting the ways of the world, Jesus didn’t isolate himself from people living sinful lives, as we currently seem to be doing by saying who we will and won’t associate with. But rather, he ate and drank and socialized with them. His presence amongst them brought transformation and healing into their brokenness. It is time that we recognize that we are all broken and that our enemy is not the person who thinks differently than we do, but Satan and the powers of evil who are intent on confusing, dividing and destroying us. If we are to overcome the chaos, confusion and division that threaten our Church, we must unite with one another in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Unity for unity sake is of little value. True meaningful unity within the Church can only occur in and through Christ. As you have heard me say over and over again, we must keep our focus on Christ as we go through the midst of the current storm we find ourselves in. Jesus is “the Way, and the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6) If we come humbly before the Lord, seeking His guidance, He will lead us, giving us the grace we need to work with those of a different mind, while we work toward a common understanding. I am not suggesting that it will be easy, but just the opposite. It will take tremendous effort, great humility, forgiveness, patience, understanding, and grace, depending not upon ourselves, but rather upon our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us. Apart from Christ we will fail, but in and through Christ ALL things are possible. It is for this reason that I have hope and am unwilling to write this person or that person or this group or that group off. I am constantly reminded of Paul’s Damascus Road experience and how an encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, turned one of the greatest enemies of the Church into one of the greatest saints of the Church.
A member of our Diocese recently emailed me and asked, “Can you give me any good reason (s) why I should remain a member of TEC (The Episcopal Church)?” In response to my friend who asked this question and to all the others who are thinking it, I offer the following reasons:
 The Diocese of Albany including each of its parishes is The Episcopal Church within the 19 counties and 20,000 square miles that make up its borders.
 The Bishop and leadership of this Diocese are Christ centered, and are committed to helping the Diocese live out The Great Commandment and The Great Commission, sharing the love and Good News of Jesus Christ, proclaiming Him as Lord and Savior, The Way, the Truth and the Life.
 The Lord is doing a mighty work in the Diocese of Albany, pouring out his Holy Spirit on the various ministries of the Diocese, particularly in the ministry of healing.
 At its best, The Episcopal Church as a member of the Anglican Communion has much to offer the larger Church, through its rich history, liturgy and tradition as well as its unique position uniting the best of Catholicism and Protestantism into one faith.
 The Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion, although far from perfect, are worth fighting for. There is no perfect Church this side of Heaven. And yet even in our brokenness, God’s strength can shine forth.
 You are a unique child of God, created in His image and likeness. We love and need you. I say this to all the members of this Diocese, regardless of where you find yourselves on the theological spectrum.
While being very conscious of the length of this letter and your time in reading it, there are a couple more things that I need to comment on. Regarding that which was asked by the Primates of the Anglican Communion, while I can’t speak for the entire House of Bishops, I will speak for myself as the Bishop of Albany and a member of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.
1) I will not authorize or permit any Rite of Blessing (public or private) for same-sex unions in this Diocese for the following reasons:
 There is no Biblical president or support in either the Old or New Testament for such blessings. To do so would be encouraging individuals to live in a lifestyle that I believe is contrary to God’s Word as revealed in the teachings of Holy Scripture and 2000 years of Church tradition, and is therefore not in a person’s best interest to do so.
 I recognize that many in our Church see this as a “justice issue.” I strongly believe that the Church has a responsibility to fight injustice protecting the dignity of all human beings, and to reach out and minister to all people including those who find themselves to be homosexual. The Church needs to reassure all people of God’s love for them and His gift of salvation made possible for all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, accepting Him as Lord and Savior. While God loves ALL His children, He does not necessarily approve of or bless all of our behavior. For this reason and the reasons listed above, I believe the Church would in fact be doing a great injustice to our homosexual brothers and sisters in Christ, by blessing same sex unions, even when those unions are within the confines of a loving and committed relationship.
 As a member of the Anglican Communion, I believe The Episcopal Church has a responsibility to the other members of the Communion who have clearly stated that such blessings are not appropriate and in fact to authorize them would cause great pain, suffering and damage throughout the wider Communion.
2) While the interpretation of Resolution BO33 of the 75th General Convention seems to be
somewhat debatable, depending on who you talk to, as the Bishop of Albany, I will not
consent to any candidate for Episcopal orders living in a same sex union or anyone
involved in sexual relations outside of marriage between a man and woman, unless some
new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion. I make this
commitment for the same reasons listed above. I would remind us that in 1991,
the General Convention passed Resolution B020, addressing “human sexuality issues.” It concluded by saying, “these potentially divisive issues”¦ should not be resolved by the
Episcopal Church on its own.” Unfortunately, we failed to heed our own warning which
proved to be very prophetic.
3) In regard to lawsuits, I believe every effort should be made by the Church to avoid going
to court over property issues. Once you go to court, everyone loses, the Diocese, the
Parish, the local community and the Church at large. There has to be a more Christian
manor of resolving legal disputes than the one currently being employed by the National
Church in dioceses across the country. I applaud those bishops who have tried to deal
with these issues in a pastoral way.

Finally in reference to the meeting of the Common Cause Partnership in Pittsburgh, as mentioned at the beginning of this letter, I did attend the meeting as an observer. I believe I have a responsibility as your bishop to be as informed as I can be regarding the current situation facing our Church. As I stated at the Diocesan Convention in June, it is my hope and prayer that we never have to decide between the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion. We are currently a member of both. God willing, we will stay that way. You will recall at the Diocesan Convention, I stated if either The Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion took any action that would require us to choose between one or the other, I would call for a Special Convention, at which time we would come together as a Diocese to decide how best to respond to whatever confronts us. To date, there is no need for such an action. Again, I pray there never will be.
With that said, as much as I love The Episcopal Church (even with all its current frustrations) and as much as I love the Anglican Communion, I love the Lord Jesus Christ most of all. As your bishop, I will do everything within my power, through the grace of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to remain Christ centered, seeking His will in all that we do, as we move forward living out The Great Commandment and The Great Commission. May we never loose sight of who we are as children of God and the mission entrusted to us by our Lord Himself, to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything He has commanded. In so doing, our Lord promised he would never leave us, but would be with us to the end of the age.” God’s peace.

Faithfully Yours in Christ,

(The Rt. Rev. Bill Love is Bishop of Albany

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