Monthly Archives: August 2007

Ruth Gledhill: Speculation over whether Atwood et al to come to Lambeth

On the minus side is the guidance from inside Lambeth Palace: ‘This is very similar to Cana.’ In other words, Martyn Minns isn’t coming. Therefore, neither will these two be.

But another insider tells me this: ‘The question is genuinely open.’ It would of course be an ‘easy solution’ to extent the AMiA principle to all the ‘irregular’ consecrations. But it appears this might not in fact happen. No decision has been made. I don’t want to risk my reputation on this, but there does appear to be a chance that Atwood might be invited to Lambeth.

How come? Well, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who specialises in nuanced responses, will be aware that each scheme is unique and distinctive. This therefore opens the possibility of a differentiated response. I’ve not seen the scheme for William Murdoch, but it certainly appears that, with regards to Bill Atwood, he is described in much more traditionally understandable ‘suffragan’ terms than Martyn Minns is in his scheme. What is certain is that the question of the two new bishops and Lambeth has not been considered in a deliberate way as yet. And all points of view will be taken into account when the Archbishop of Canterbury makes his decision.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces

English General Synod members send congratulations on African consecrations

Read it all.

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

Archbishop Gomez’s Homily from the Nairobi Consecrations

“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? Feed my lambs …; tend my sheep …;feed my sheep …; follow me.” (John 21:15, 16, 17 and 19).

In the Gospel according to John, Jesus addressed Peter as “Simon, Son of John” on two occasions. In chapter one, Andrew, Simon’s brother, introduced Peter to Jesus. On this occasion, Jesus draws attention to Simon Peter’s natural human condition and his future role in the divine dispensation. Andrew brought Peter to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “So you are Simon, the Son of John? You shall be called Cephas (which means Peter). (John 1 :42). Simon, the son of John, is to become, by the grace of God, Peter the rock upon whom Jesus will build the church. Simon, Son of John, does not become Peter the rock by a process of natural development, not by a process of developing his natural potential but by a process of transformation by the power of God.

In a sense this process of transformation which began in chapter one is not completed until chapter twenty-one where we find the second occasion when Jesus addressed him as Simon, Son of John — Jesus said, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Among all the disciples, Peter was the one who had protested his devotion to Jesus most vehemently, promising to follow him even to death. “Peter said to him, Lord why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” (John 13:37)

All the Gospels record the terrible fact that Peter, the leaders of the Apostolic band, denied his master at the moment of crisis. The evangelist John, in line with the consistent teaching of his Gospel, is at pains to show that this did not arise from any moral weakness in Peter but was one manifestation of the necessary fact that the meaning of Jesus’ death can in no circumstances be grasped by unaided human nature (flesh and blood), but can only be grasped by the new dispensation of the spirit which is inaugurated by the passion and resurrection of Jesus.

Peter had been among the first to be called by Jesus to follow him. And he had followed faithfully in his way. Peter is ready to lay down his life for Jesus, just as Jesus had said that the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. And Peter’s word was proved true when in the darkness of the Garden of Gethsemane Peter drew his sword and proposed to fight single handedly against a whole company of soldiers. But that act of the impetuous – Peter brought only a sharp rebuke from Jesus. “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11). Peter is eager to follow, but he cannot because “the way” has not yet been opened. No one can follow until Jesus has done what he alone can do. Only he can “offer for all time a single sacrifice for sin.” (Hebrews 10:12). Jesus does this as an act of loving obedience to his Father – “Not my will but your will be done.” When Jesus has accomplished his saving work, a way will be opened along which Peter can and will follow, along with all who take up the cross and follow Jesus. Now he sees through a glass darkly and has to come to the realization that his human and loyal determination to follow Jesus leads him to act in his own strength without reliance on the will and power of God.

So in chapter twenty-one, Peter, who had promised to follow even unto death comes face to face with his friend and master whom he had three times denied. On this occasion, he is addressed by his old name, the name he had before Jesus met and called him to discipleship. Once again, as on that night of his threefold apostasy, Jesus looked at him across a charcoal fire and challenged him three times with the simple yet painfully searching question, “Simon, Son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Three times Peter answers with an affirmation of his love – but an affirmation which rests its confidence not on the strength of his own love but on the sureness of Jesus’ knowledge. “Lord you know everything, you know that I love you. And three times Jesus solemnly gives to the grieved and humbled disciple the commission to be the shepherd, guiding, guarding and nourishing the flock which belongs to Jesus. “Feed my lambs;” “Tend my sheep;” “Feed my sheep” are three commands included in the overriding command of Jesus “follow me.”

In the light of the Resurrection, Peter has learned what following Jesus really means. In the past, he had tried to follow according to his own desires and in his own strength. Now he will learn that following Jesus means going the way of the cross. “When you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (John 21 :18-19). After this he said to him “follow me.”

This following along the way of the cross will glorify God, for just as Jesus manifested the glory of God in his death, so the same glory will be manifested in the disciples whom he sends out into the world. “The glory that you have given me I have given them.”

So Peter receives the good news that the threefold denial is wiped out and forgiven in the threefold commissioning. “Feed my lambs;” “Tend my sheep;” “Feed my sheep.” An important element in the good news is the fact that the flock which belongs to Jesus consists not of the righteous but of sinners called to repentance. We need to remember that the primacy which Peter holds among the apostles is the primacy of a forgiven sinner. “You are Peter” is said by Jesus to the one to whom in the next breath Jesus will say “get behind me, Satan.” (Matthew 16: 18, 23). It is to the fisherman overwhelmed by the realization of his sinfulness that Jesus says “Do not be afraid, henceforth you will be catching men.” (Luke 5:8-10). It is to the disciple who will fall away that Jesus says, “when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31).

Peter is to be both a fisher of men and shepherd as he answers the call of Jesus to “follow me.” Peter can only serve as fisher of men and shepherd in so far as he is first a disciple – one who is following Jesus along the way to the cross.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, as disciples of the same Christ who continues to invite persons everywhere to follow him, we have assembled to participate in the solemn liturgy for the consecration of Bishops in the Church of God. It is only fitting on this occasion, to reflect on the nature of Christian ministry with special emphasis on Episcopal ministry.

As Anglicans, we identify with the growing ecumenical consensus on the nature of ministry reflected in the document issued by the World Council of Churches entitled “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry” (BEM). All ministries in the church, including the ordained ministry, are gifts (charisms) of the Spirit for the building up of the body of Christ. “For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members of one another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:4-8) “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) “The Holy Spirit bestows on the community diverse and complementary gifts.” (BEM, Ministry, 5) This charismatic understanding of ordained ministry is reflected in BEM’s interpretation of the meaning of ordination: “Ordination denotes an action by God and the community which through long tradition takes place in the context of worship and especially of the eucharist … The act of ordination by the laying on of hands of those appointed to do so is at one and the same time invocation of the Holy Spirit (epiklesis): sacramental sigh; acknowledgement of gifts and commitment. Ordination is an invocation to God that the new minister be given the power of the Holy Spirit in the new relation which is established between this minister and the local Christian community and, by intention, the Church universal.” (BEM, Ministry, 40-42)

Ordained ministry is not only a gift of the Spirit. It is also a representative ministry. While all baptized Christians represent Christ and the church, the ordained ministry represents Christ and the church in particular ways. In his book, “A Ministry Shaped by Mission,” Paul Avis explores the concept of representation as applied to the ordained ministry. According to Avis, the ordained ministry represents Christ to the community which is already united to Christ in baptism. The ordained ministry acts as the representative and organ of the whole body in the exercise of responsibilities which belong to the body as a whole.

The understanding of ordained ministry as a gift of the Spirit and a representative ministry together with the language of “sign” and “symbol” used in ecumenical agreements in connection with the ordained ministry challenge a purely functional understanding of ordained ministry, including episcopal ministry. Because Christ’s ministry is present to us only through the Spirit, ecclesial ministry is necessarily charismatic. For the same reason, it is relational. The nexus of relationships established by the Spirit creates a new way of being, which transforms both the one ordained and those for whom he is ordained, making it futile to debate whether ordained ministry in the church is functional or ontological in nature. BEM points in this direction when it speaks of ordination as establishing a “new relation” between the ordained minister and the local and universal church. Ordained ministry is neither a status nor a set of functions, but a charism of the Spirit which is to say that it is a sacramental reality.

Already in the early paragraphs of the Ministry section of BEM, the sacramental and not merely functional aspect of ministry, and indeed of episcopal office, is implied and assumed:

“The chief responsibility of the ordained ministry is to assemble and build up the body of Christ by proclaiming and teaching the Word of God, by celebrating the sacraments, and by guiding the life of the community in its worship, its mission and its caring ministry. It is especially in the eucharistic celebration that the ordained ministry is the visible focus of the deep and all-embracing communion between Christ and the members of his body. In the celebration of the Eucharist, Christ gathers, teaches and nourishes the Church. It is Christ who invites to the meal and who presides at it. In most churches this presidency is signified and represented by an ordained minister.” (BEM, Ministry. 13-14) In the Anglican tradition it is primarily the bishop as eucharistic president who is the sign of communion.

In IASCER’s response to the Lutheran document The Episcopal Ministry within the Apostolicity of the Church particular note was taken of the patristic tradition concerning episcopal ministry:

“Historians commonly agree that there are three principal images or models of the office of a bishop in the pre-Nicene church, which are best exemplified in Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus, and Cyprian. For Ignatius, the bishop is primarily the one who presides at the eucharist. This is central for Ignatius because of his understanding of the nature of the church. For Ignatius, then, the bishop is … the one who presides at … the eucharistic liturgy.

Irenaeus, on the other hand, while echoing the eucharistic teaching of Ignatius, places primary emphasis on the bishop’s role as teacher of the faith. The context here is the conflict with Gnosticism. For Irenaeus, the bishop is above all the one who preserves the continuity of the apostolic teaching in unbroken succession from the apostles. It is through the bishop’s faithful proclamation of the Gospel in each local church that the unity of the church and the continuity of the church in the apostolic tradition is preserved.

For Cyprian, the bishop serves as the bond of unity between the local church and the universal church. Here the collegial aspect of the bishop’s role comes to the fore. The Bishop is one member of a worldwide ”˜college’ of bishops who are together responsible for maintaining the unity of the churches. Cyprian’s primary emphasis, therefore, is upon the bishop as the bond of unity between the local church and the church universal.

In each of theses models, therefore, the bishop is the sign of unity between the local and the universal church, either through the maintenance of eucharistic communion, continuity in apostolic teaching, or common oversight of the churches.

My brothers, you are entering the Episcopal ministry within the Anglican Communion at a time when the Communion is being severely challenged in each of the three related areas of the patristic tradition concerning Episcopal ministry. I refer to:

* The maintenance of eucharistic communion
* Continuity and apostolic teaching.
* Oversight of the churches.

The present impaired state of the Communion is due mainly to actions taken by the Episcopal Church of the United States of America in respect of human sexuality with special reference to the consecration of a bishop living in an opened homosexual relationship. The actions of the Episcopal Church have created a situation in which some Anglicans in the United States and throughout most of the Provinces of the Communion are convinced that the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is clear in its teaching and must take precedent over culture. Holding fast to this belief, they cannot accommodate those who believe the contrary. The issue is not primarily on of sexuality but one which seeks to answer the question “which relationships correspond to God’s ordering of life, and violate it?” It is a division of opinion between those of us who firmly believe that homosexual practice violates the order of life give by God in scripture and those who seek by various mean to justify what scripture does not hounour. We, in the Global South, whole heartedly support the position outlined by Richard Hays in “The Moral Vision of the New Testament:”

“Paul singles out homosexual intercourse for special attention because he regards it as providing a particularly graphic image of the way in which human fallenness distorts God’s created order. God the Creator made man and woman for each other, to cleave together to be fruitful and multiply. When human beings ”˜exchange’ these created roles for homosexual intercourse, they embody the spiritual condition of those who have ”˜exchanged the truth about God for a lie.’”

We believe that faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ prevents us from compromising the truth so clearly revealed in holy scripture.

While the Anglican Communion struggles through the present impasse you, as bishops of the church, will be required to give sound and faithful leadership to the people of God committed to your care and charge. In faithful obedience to Christ, you must endeavour to “build up the body of Christ by proclaiming and teaching the word of God, by celebrating the sacrament, and by guiding the life of the community in its worship, mission and its caring ministry.” You cannot fulfill this ministry in your own strength. You must continue to meet the Lord in prayer as you seek to discern his will for his flock. You must love the flock of Christ as he loves us, and you must be a true shepherd “guiding, guarding and nourishing the flock which belongs to Jesus.” As you grow in apostolic ministry, always remember that you are sharing tin the ministry of Jesus the Good Shepherd and never forget that in all you say and do your aim must be to follow Jesus who is indeed “the way, the truth and the life.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, West Indies

Hank Steenstra reports from Nairobi

Stand Firm has posted an excellent report from Hank Steenstra, packed full of details re: yesterday’s consecrations in Nairobi. Of particular interest, the transcripts of statements by bishops Atwood and Murdoch towards the conclusion of the service. Here are a few excerpts, but you really should read the whole thing, says bossy elfgirl!

The liturgy was for the most part a very traditional Anglican service with some Kenyan touches. One was that a bishop-elect is escorted in and out of the cathedral during the service by a bishop on either side who is holding his hand. This was based on the history of martyrs and the fear that prospective bishops might be inclined to run rather than be consecrated. The service included great quantities of glorious music from traditional hymns to anthems by the great cathedral choir to praise music with African melodies and harmonies led by the Praise Band. To capture an event of worship of this length and variety required one to be present to hear, absorb and join in. The Anglican TV recording may help capture the flavor.

Among the assembled throng were nine primates of the Anglican Communion or their representatives. Those personally present included Archbishops Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya), Henry Orombi (Uganda), Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda), Gregory Venables (Southern Cone), Drexel Gomez (West Indies), Bernard Malango (Central Africa), Justice Akrofi (West Africa) and Ian Ernest (Indian Ocean). Archbishop Peter Akinola (Nigeria) was represented by Archbishop Nicholas Okoh. Total support but regrets for being unable to attend came from Archbishop Donald Mtetemela (Tanzania), Archbishop Dirokpa Fidele (Congo) and Archbishop Joseph Marona (Sudan).

In addition to this assembly of the major players in the Global South, the following US bishops were present: Bishop Robert Duncan (Pittsburgh), Jack Iker (Fort Worth), Martyn Minns (CANA) and Chuck Murphy (AMiA), plus Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti (Recife) and Bishop Donald Harvey (Canada). There were about 20 Kenyan bishops also present. All of this episcopate presence contributed to a dramatic sense of great importance surrounding the otherwise ordinary church business of consecrating bishops. No one I spoke with knew of any occasion in the history of the Anglican Communion when so many primates were present to lay hands for the consecration of bishops. […]

Comments from Bishop Bill Murdoch included the following:

This is an urgent mission moment. So, who better to lead the way than the ones who still know that the Mission is urgent and the Message is the word of God and the gospel of Christ, and the Price to be paid is everything for the love of Christ and his Cross. Who better to remind us that it is not about us, it is about Jesus, the only Lord, the only name by which men can be saved. Who better than the Kenyans, the Africans, the churches of the Global South, whose blood, sweat and tears, whose smiling eyes shine with the light of souls overflowing with the glory of this great salvation. Who better to tell us? The Mission is urgent.

[And Bishop Atwood’s remarks included the following]

Second, I owe a great debt to the East African Revival. I bear its mark deep in my heart and spirit. It has provided a profound resonance with my spirit and encouragement for my soul. In it I found a people who have discovered the lengths to which God is willing to go to demonstrate unconditional love”“”“a love so rich and deep it demands response.

I also owe a great debt to many Archbishops who have been mentors and friends. Each has freely shared their redemptive gifts with the church and the world and, thankfully also with me over the years. It is my hope to apply some of what I have learned from them and eventually to become something like them.

I long to have something of the precise theological vision of Drexel Gomez,
the Spirit of Henry Orombi,
the courage of Emmanuel Kolini,
the Gospel passion of Greg Venables,
the clarity of Justice Akrofi,
the servant’s heart of Bernard Malango,
the strength of Peter Akinola (represented today by Archbishop Nicholas Okoh – a great leader in his own right),
the willingness of Bob Duncan,
the humility of Donald Harvey,
the conviction of Ian Ernest, and
the distilled simplicity of Joseph Marona,
and the joy of Fidele Dirokpa.

While these and other friends here have been spiritual fathers and inspirational examples for me, I owe a particular debt to Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi…

The full text is here. Do read it all!

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, TEC Conflicts

Nathaniel Popper: Do culture-themed public schools cross a legal line?

When the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy opened four years ago in suburban Minneapolis, the school was a bold experiment and its survival was in question. There was the scramble to attract students that any charter school faces, but Tarek ibn Ziyad had the additional worry of a constitutional challenge, given the school’s sponsorship by a nonprofit called Islamic Relief and the curriculum’s emphasis on Muslim culture and the Arabic language.

The school has not only survived but thrived, and there are plans for local expansion. Perhaps the surest sign that the experiment worked came last week, when a new charter school opened up thousands of miles away in Hollywood, Fla.–founded by Jewish parents, Ben Gamla Charter School has kosher food in the cafeteria and Hebrew posters in the classrooms. In the planning of the Florida school, Tarek ibn Ziyad’s experience was taken into account.

The success of Tarek ibn Ziyad’s model, and its adoption outside of Minnesota, heralds a potentially explosive new trend in America’s charter schools: publicly funded schools tied to a particular religion. The founders of Ben Gamla are already promising more branches in other states, and parents from other religions are sure to venture into similar territory, pushing the constitutional limits even further. As Peter Deutsch, the Orthodox Jewish congressman who started Ben Gamla, has said, it “could be a huge paradigm shift in education in America.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Religion & Culture

IRD–Clock Running Out on Episcopal Church: One Month to Go

[TEC’s] goal, according to Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, ”˜is part of [the denomination’s] mission.’ The House of Bishops also defined it last March as part of the ”˜gospel’ that the Episcopal Church is called to preach. Yet that goal and many other examples of jettisoning biblical, traditional Anglican faith have led thousands of orthodox Anglicans to leave the Episcopal Church.

And it is precisely those deviations from orthodox faith and practice that put the Episcopal Church outside of the mainstream of not just the Anglican Communion, but the larger body of Christ. Make no mistake: the Episcopal Church’s actions dangerously compromise the holiness of the church and its members. The Anglican Communion primates clearly recognize that fact. Will the Episcopal Church put the good of the worldwide church ahead of its own desires? Or will it remain insistent, as its Executive Council said in June, that it can only be what it is? The clock is running out.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Church Times– New report: deacons should be seen as more distinctive

Deacons, even those impatient to be priests, may be required by their bishop to spend longer than one year in the diaconate, “in order to live more fully into that calling”, if the General Synod welcomes a new report from the Church of England’s Faith and Order Advisory Group.

It could also lead to some Readers’ being encouraged to test their vocations as deacons. “A pro-active discernment of the vocation of some Readers, by bishops and diocesan staff, could lead to a significant harvest of ordinands, especially for the distinctive diaconate,” the group finds.

Some Readers are experiencing a crisis of morale, says the report, The Mission and Ministry of the Whole Church. They feel squeezed between the clergy and “the upsurge of expressions of lay ministry”. Although some Readers would see the ministry of distinctive deacons as too close to their own for comfort, the group would prefer to see suitable Readers prepared for the diaconate rather than enlarge the duties attached to the office of Reader.

“For some, diaconal ministry would be an ongoing commitment: their ministry would find its fulfilment in the distinctive diaconate. For others, the diaconate would lead, perhaps after a period of several years, to ordination to the presbyterate,” it says.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

Barkley Thompson: Anglican Essentials from the Reformation

As the Anglican Communion navigates the current presenting issues that affect all Anglican provinces, The Episcopal Church should undoubtedly take counsel with other Anglicans, and very often we would do well to heed their advice. Indeed, it has been largely due to the pressure brought to bear upon us by our Anglican brothers and sisters that we have begun to tend more responsibly to the concerns of those within The Episcopal Church whose theological convictions have led them to dissent from the consent for Bishop V. Gene Robinson and other recent actions of the General Convention.

However, taking counsel differs immensely from establishing new legal arrangements within the Anglican Communion that would serve to undo the principle of autonomy and independence expressed in the Act in Restraint of Appeals. I would argue that this principle could legitimately be called the “First Principle of Anglicanism.” (The detailed discussion of autonomy in Section B of The Windsor Report arguably does not fully appreciate the intention and subsequent ramifications of autonomy as embodied in the act.)

As the Executive Council, the House of Bishops, and the General Convention consider various communiqués, potential plans of action, and ultimately the Anglican Covenant, we would do well to remember this first principle of Anglicanism that initiated our distinctive way of being church and heed the wisdom of our English reforming forbears.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC)

Andrew Carey: Anglican chaos

I’m not convinced about either the need for more mitres, or about the timing of all these consecrations. I’m not greatly sympathetic however to the official Anglican Communion response that the consecrations create ”˜increased confusion’. The confusion came with the consecration of Gene Robinson, and the subsequent inability of the Episcopal Church’s leadership to respond adequately to the clear voice of the Anglican Communion, and also to find a way to accommodate parishes and clergy who could no longer identify with their own diocesan bishops. Some kind of alternative oversight scheme should surely have been worked out which responded to the need of those congregations. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the Episcopal Church desires nothing more than conformity to its own mores and canons at the expense of theological and ecclesiological diversity.

Equally problematic however is the expectation of West Indies Archbishop, Drexel Gomez, that these consecrations could lead “towards a creation of a viable, stable and orthodox Anglican presence in the United States.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Conflicts

Chris Sugden: Not schism but revolution

Revolution in common parlance is an overthrow of the existing order. But when a wheel has completed one revolution, a point on its circumference has returned to its point of origin. And a revolution is a return to the beginning, a restoration.

What we are in the middle of now in the Anglican Communion is not schism or separation, but a revolution. In the last decades, the Communion has been increasingly under the dominance of leadership which is over-influenced by the assumptions of western intellectual culture through the dominant role of the Church of England and ECUSA. People are now saying publicly that this unrepresentative dominance must end.

Archbishop Orombi of Uganda has said “However we come to understand the current crisis in Anglicanism, this much is apparent: The younger churches of Anglican Christianity will shape what it means to be Anglican. The long season of British hegemony is over.

“The reason there is a global Anglicanism today is that Anglicans were compelled by the Word of God to share the gospel throughout the expanding British Empire and beyond. In the absence today of such a convenient infrastructure, the future of the Anglican Communion is found in embracing the key Reformation and evangelical princip les that have had such an impact in Uganda. Without a commitment to the authority of the Word of God, a confidence in a God who acts in the world, and a conviction of the necessity of repentance and of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we will be hard-pressed as a communion to revive and advance our apostolic and missionary calling as a church.” [read here]

In other words, the future is to be found in returning to the key Reformation and evangelical principles that are the strength and core of the Anglican expression of Christian faith.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Global South Churches & Primates

Michael Regan on What People in Connecticut Believe

But except for a belief in God, Connecticut residents were notably less likely to say that these basic biblical concepts “absolutely” exist when compared with their national counterparts.

“Overall, about the same proportions of people in Connecticut allow for the existence of these religious icons – God, Satan, etc.,” said Monika McDermott, research director at the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at UConn. “The big difference is that residents of Connecticut have some doubts that the rest of the country doesn’t seem to have at the same level.”

Although the 5 percentage point difference between state and national respondents who say that God “absolutely” exists is not statistically meaningful, McDermott said, in other categories the difference in levels of certainty is more significant than differences in overall belief levels.

Andrew Walsh, associate director of the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College, isn’t surprised by either of the poll’s major findings: that basic religious beliefs are similar in Connecticut and the nation, and that those beliefs tend to be less certain here.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

Jordan Hylden: The Last Stand of Rowan Williams

As has been reported by the press, the Episcopal bishops last spring were given three requests and a deadline by the global Anglican primates. They were asked to stop consecrating actively gay bishops (meaning no more Gene Robinsons), to stop formal blessings of same-sex unions, and to provide space for those who dissent from the regnant liberal theology of the Episcopal Church. The deadline was September 30, so the upcoming meeting will in effect signal definitively whether or not the American church will decide to remain in step with the Anglican Communion or instead detach itself and go its own way.

Williams’ stance at the meeting will inevitably signal whose side he is on. The majority of the Episcopal Church’s bishops do not want to comply with the primates’ requests, as they signaled vociferously last spring. The question is: If they refuse, what if anything will happen to them? Will the American bishops get to come to Lambeth and participate in the other global conferences of Anglicanism no matter what they do, or will refusal mean that they’ll have to sit at home?

It’s an important question, because sitting at home would mean that the American church would no longer have any say in the decision-making bodies of Anglicanism. In effect, it would mean that the Episcopal Church would no longer be a fully constituent part of the Anglican Communion””which, especially when viewed in light of Anglicanism’s history, would be a striking change. Many American bishops who otherwise would support Gene Robinson would at the least be given pause by such a momentous choice.

Of course, it is just this choice that the Americans want to avoid, as, most likely, does Rowan Williams. In many ways Williams is close theological kin to the American church, and it will be extraordinarily difficult for him to prosecute this sort of separation.

But as wrenching as it may be for him, it is probably the only way to keep the majority of Anglicanism together.

Not doing it will likely set off a domino-like series of effects. In essence, the decision-making authority of Anglicanism’s central instruments will collapse””if the agreement hammered out by the global primates last spring in Tanzania is seen to have no bite, future meetings will become toothless and ineffectual.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, Windsor Report / Process

Boston Globe: Consecration in Kenya widens a religious rift

“It is a division of opinion between those of us who firmly believe that homosexual practice violates the order of life given by God, and those who seek, by various means, to justify what Scripture does not,” said Archbishop Drexel W. Gomez of the West Indies, the main preacher at yesterday’s service. In his sermon, Gomez accused the Episcopal Church of “aggressive revisionist theology” and said the idea that homosexuality is permissible for Christians is “a lie.”

“[The apostle] Paul singles out homosexuality in the Gospel for special attention, because he regards it as providing a particularly graphic image of the way in which human fallenness distorts God’s created order,” Gomez said. “We believe that faithfulness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ prevents us from compromising the truth so clearly revealed in Holy Scripture.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

James Martin: A Saint’s Dark Night

During her final illness, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the 19th-century French Carmelite nun who is now widely revered as “The Little Flower,” faced a similar trial, which seemed to center on doubts about whether anything awaited her after death. “If you only knew what darkness I am plunged into,” she said to the sisters in her convent. But Mother Teresa’s “dark night” was of a different magnitude, lasting for decades. It is almost unparalleled in the lives of the saints.

In time, with the aid of the priest who acted as her spiritual director, Mother Teresa concluded that these painful experiences could help her identify not only with the abandonment that Jesus Christ felt during the crucifixion, but also with the abandonment that the poor faced daily. In this way she hoped to enter, in her words, the “dark holes” of the lives of the people with whom she worked. Paradoxically, then, Mother Teresa’s doubt may have contributed to the efficacy of one of the more notable faith-based initiatives of the last century.

Few of us, even the most devout believers, are willing to leave everything behind to serve the poor. Consequently, Mother Teresa’s work can seem far removed from our daily lives. Yet in its relentless and even obsessive questioning, her life intersects with that of the modern atheist and agnostic. “If I ever become a saint,” she wrote, “I will surely be one of ”˜darkness.’ ”

Mother Teresa’s ministry with the poor won her the Nobel Prize and the admiration of a believing world. Her ministry to a doubting modern world may have just begun.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer

No same-sex blessings for South African Diocese

THE ANGLICAN Church in South Africa will not permit blessings of same-sex unions or gay marriage, the Bishop of Mthatha told his diocesan synod on Aug 25, as it is contrary to Scripture and God’s plan for humanity.

The Rt Rev Sitembele Mzamane told the 48th meeting of the diocesan synod that he forbade clergy in the Diocese of Mthatha (formerly the Diocese of St John the Evangelist) from solemnising gay marriages under South Africa’s new civil marriage code.

“We still embrace the Biblical truth that homosexual behaviour is a sin, not an orientation as others would like us to believe,” he said.

“Same-sex union is something that has been accepted by the government. But that does not mean that everything the government accepts or condones as right, the church will simply say ”˜Yes’ and toe the line as well. No, it’s not like that, we base everything on the Bible,” Bishop Mzamane said according to accounts printed in an Eastern Cape newspaper, the Daily Dispatch.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)