Daily Archives: September 15, 2007

One third of dioceses respond to Bishops' communiqué study document

In his own diocese, [Alabama Bishop Henry] Parsley said, between 500 and 600 people, including clergy groups, four convocational gatherings, the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council discussed the document and considered its reflection questions.

In the Diocese of Vermont, Bishop Thomas Ely hosted six “Communion Matters” conversations which he said were attended by close to 225 people from more than 30 congregations.

“Communion Matters conversations here in Vermont were marked by a spirit of respectful listening and sharing of information, ideas, concerns, hopes and fears,” Ely wrote in his column for the Mountain Echo, the monthly diocesan newspaper.

He reported that others talked with him privately, especially those whom he said felt uncomfortable expressing their opinion in a large group, and others emailed him.

“What I take away from them and what I take with me to New Orleans is the clear desire of the members of our diocese to remain as part of the Anglican Communion family, while at the same time continuing to welcome, celebrate and cherish the presence and ministry of all members of our diocese — our gay and lesbian members as well as our members who disagree with many of the recent actions of the General Convention,” Ely wrote. “I heard much in these conversations about justice, acceptance, tolerance, respect, living with tension, waiting in the moment, not rushing to judgment, betrayal, fear, ”˜scapegoating,’ unity, diversity, certainty, ambiguity, hope and confidence in God.”

He wrote that none of the problems were solved, “but maybe — just maybe — like those disciples on the road to Emmaus we now see the whole picture a little more clearly.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Parishes, Theology

Tony Clavier: A New Baptismal Theology?

One of the arguments between Catholics and Protestants at the Reformation and until now centers on just how grace “works” in the sacraments. Is sacramental grace “invincible” in that it is offered in the sacrament whether the recipient seeks the grace or is prepared to receive the grace or not, or does the receptive state of the recipient determine whether grace abounds or not? Nothing is as simple as it sounds, and the Catholic would assert that the recipient of a sacrament should be in a “state of grace” to receive the gift, or there are consequences. Nor am I absolutely sure that a “receptionist” would want to make Jesus and His Presence entirely a matter of the receptive nature of the receiver: too much like works righteousness. I raise this question because our lawyer-bishops seem to propose that the theology of a baptismal “covenant” -but they say they are against covenants – is now divorced from any scriptural or credal teachings, among them that baptism is “for or by the remission of sins.” While “mutual ministry” doctrine is not clearly articulated in this paper, what is assumed is that all Christian ministries have their origin in baptism and that ergo all the baptized are to be included in all ministries to which the church discerns they have a calling. Certainly the unbroken teaching of the Church has been that in baptism all are incorporated into Christ and therefore into His ministry as prophet, priest and king. The source of the charisms of ministry is in the water of baptism rightly administered with the Trinitarian formula. That last caveat should be noted and remains the clear teaching of the Prayer Book and the Catechism.

An Evangelical and I would suggest an earlier Tractarian would object to bishops’ thesis in two particulars. The first is that it lacks a “moral” component. The second is that the bishops say too little rather than too much about their “discovery.” My use of the word “moral” takes us into dangerous grounds, for to most of us the word “moral” immediately suggests sex. That is a commentary on our times rather than theology. For “moral” I might propose the word suitable or apt, not perfect synonyms, but good enough for my purpose. While all the baptized may forensically be suitable or apt candidates for any form of ministry lay or ordained, it is surely obvious, even to the most sentimentally obtuse that all are not really suitable or apt candidates. I do not discount the power of grace to make up for deficiencies in talent or ability, but there would be no point in our present elaborate methods of discernment if all shall win and all take the prize.

A discernment committee is quite right to suggest that Susy’s chronic bad temper makes her a less than suitable candidate to serve as a deacon. A moral judgement is here made. But why should chronically choleric people be excluded?The fact that Frank has dreadful problems with comprehension would perhaps rule out a seminary education, although one remembers the Cure de Ars and wonders. To say to the world that persons living together in a sexual relationship outside the bounds of matrimony is a given based on their baptism asks us to suspend all moral or “suitability” judgments.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Baptism, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sacramental Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Theology

Leander Harding: A Response to the Lawyer/Bishops

The authors are proposing the methodology of advocates in the Anglo-Saxon tradition of jurisprudence as the preferred means for adjudicating the disputes in the Anglican Communion. I will be interested to hear what other lawyers who are churchman make of this assertion. I believe that this methodology is a method which has been developed with the assumption that the primary business of the courts is to apply existing statues in a way that is fair and equitable. In other words, to try the case in terms of the laws that apply. It must be said here that aims of such a method are very limited. This is a system and methodology that is designed to restrain crime and punish wrong doing. Reconciliation and healing are not in view here and certainly not in view is a vision of building up the one body of Christ. In response to the assertion that the authors are uniquely equipped to address the crisis in the Anglican world because of their training, I ask “but does this method really fit and does the method invoked have among its aims properly theological and properly ecclesiological aims?” Can the method of the civil law developed to work within a well-defined system of statues and precedents really be the answer to a profound theological and ecclesiological crisis? Is not a more likely analogy the analogy of ecumenical negotiation around agreed statements of faith, order and mission such as the National Council of Churches document on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry which the authors oddly invoke to bolster their case. I say oddly because the whole purpose of this ecumenical document was to be a prelude to growing ecumenical covenant.

The premise of the brief by these lawyers is that the method of legal argument which is appropriate to a system of settled statutes and case law is the best method to adjudicate what they identify as a constitutional crisis over a constitution that is unwritten and unenforceable. It appears to this non-lawyer that their method has quickly led them to a problem for which their method is in the nature of the case inadequate. The phrase “an unwritten and unenforceable but clearly recognized and anciently respected Anglican Constitution” seems on first reading an oxymoron. It is an enforceable constitution in the American case and an unwritten but enforceable constitution in the British case (nevertheless discernable through the tradition of common law) that makes the jurisprudential method the six bishops propose workable in its normal context. That the Anglican Communion is not able to enforce the most minimal communal discipline is exactly the crisis in front of us. To propose as a solution something that is unenforceable does not appear as a positive contribution to the crisis. Would not a status quo which enables radical and communion-breaking provincial autonomy be a kind of enforcement? The conclusion of the paper seems to contradict the method that is being invoked.

As the six bishops proceed with their argument they become more and more Orwellian. Traditionalists are “constitutional revolutionaries” and those who propose radical innovations in faith and morals and are breaking with the witness of the majority of the world’s Christians are somehow in the tradition of Vatican II and part of a coming “Ecumenical Reformation” and wish “to leave Anglicanism the way it is.” The tone of the paper is high-handed in the extreme and the actors are identified in a stereotypical way as conservatives who “unapologetically seek the utter defeat of the other” and want to “undo the use of reason in the interpretation of scripture” and who are part of a growing “fundamentalism” as opposed to those who “have rediscovered the church’s ancient baptismal theology” and seek to reform the church according to this theology and in a way that will finally make the church relevant to the society and culture it serves. This kind of rhetoric is very disappointing. One discipline that ought to prevail in these attempts at dialogue is the discipline to describe the position of the other side in terms that they can accept. To accuse your opponent of rejecting the role of reason in biblical interpretation while all the while you refuse to engage his careful exegetical arguments (for example N.T. Wright or Robert Gagnon or on the purely scientific front the NARTH researchers) is simply false witness.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecclesiology, Theology

Ugandan Archbishop to speak at St. Peter's Anglican Church in Florida

Although the split occurred after the American province ordained a gay bishop, the Rev. Eric Dudley, pastor at St. Peter’s, said the problems ran much deeper.

“Homosexuality became a lightning-rod issue, but underlying that was the much larger issue of the role Scripture plays in the church,” he said.

The idea that Jesus is a way, rather than the way to God is one example, Dudley said. He said most of the 77 million Anglicans worldwide, including Orombi, adhere to a more “classical” view of the Bible.

The Rev. Jim Needham – pastor of St. Luke’s Anglican Fellowship, also a sponsor of the archbishop’s visit along with St. Peter’s and Trinity Anglican Church in Thomasville – has met Orombi twice. He describes him as a “wonderful combination of gentleness and strength.”

“He has a firmness of convictions but at the same time cares a lot for people,” Needham said.

In addition to raising three children, for instance, Orombi also has taken in a number of children and supported them through college.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Florida

Bishop Harold Miller: Reflections on personal experiences of ECUSA, six years ago

My third observation was an emerging new theology of baptism. This was clarified for me when I was taken with members of the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation to a radical Episcopal church in San Francisco. When we entered into the liturgical space, I could see the table, which was unbounded by rails and clearly open to all. But I could not see the place of baptism. When I asked where it was, I was taken out the back, and told that it had been placed there so that baptism would not be a stumbling-block to newcomers. In other words, the idea goes, all people are welcome to the table no matter what their belief or lifestyle, as Jesus had table-fellowship with prostitutes and sinners. Baptism can be looked into later when there is time to think things through. This is, of course, a reversal of the biblical model, where baptism was the sacrament freely and always available for all who come to repentance and faith, and communion, the table fellowship of the baptized for which self-examination was necessary.

Aligned to that, I have also observed, and have seen particularly in the West Coast, an uncomfortableness with repentance and confession of sin. The theory, as I understand it goes something like this: The archetypal Eucharistic rite is focussed around the gathering, the word, the intercessions, the table and the going out. Confession is an optional extra. This was almost encouraged by the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation document on the eucharist, and by the pattern where the confession in the middle section was displaced when there was, for example a baptism, marriage, or an ordination. There has been a reclaiming of penitence in some of these rites recently, especially in the Church of England, by placing the penitential section at the beginning of the service. It is one thing to omit penitence in a church which has the expectation of personal auricular confession, but quite another to omit it in a church of the Reformation which enjoins General Confession. There is, in my view, behind this, a serious underplaying of personal sin and personal salvation.

The next element of the liturgy to be ”˜downplayed’ was historic Creeds. Again, we are told that the Eucharistic prayer is creedal (a part-truth), or that Creeds are not a necessary part of worship (another part-truth), but the eventual reality which I observed was the omitting of the historic creeds altogether in the main Sunday liturgy. I was sensitized to expect something of this sort several years ago when I met a very radical Presbyterian minister from Albuquerque. I asked him did they have the historic creeds in the worship of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. His answer was this: ”˜Yes. We have fourteen declarations of faith at the back of the book and they all interplay with each other’! There is a real reaction to and distancing from propositional statements of faith, even the historic ecumenical creeds – and in some cases from their central tenets and beliefs.

Sixth, and following on from the last point, there is an inclination to try to find ways of holding all faiths together as believing in a common god.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Baptism, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sacramental Theology, Theology

Archbishop Rowan Williams Interviewed by the Telegraph

Now he hopes Mr Brown will reduce the abortion time limit. “The nation generally is getting more unhappy about the high level of abortion in this country, people are not happy about abortion as a back-stop to contraception,” he says.

The Government needs to enforce strict controls on stem cell research too. “I can’t come to terms with the idea of a human individual being created for a purpose,” he says.

And he intends to speak out on euthanasia. “I’m against it – morally and religiously because I don’t believe any of us has the liberty to determine the day of our death, and practically because almost all forms of legislation for assisted dying open the door to unjust and destructive pressures on people.”

We have spent so long discussing the morality of politics that we have barely touched on the politics of the Church. Why is it so obsessed by gay priests?

“I don’t think it’s just an obsession with sex,” he sighs. “It’s about the authority of the Bible.

“Generally we’re seeing a reworking of that – it’s an area of real anxiety and for some people this is a step too far.”

He does not know if he can stop the church breaking apart. “I hope it won’t,” he says. I’m working very hard to stop that happening.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

A Really Sad Local Story

[George] Weld was rector of Saint Johns Episcopal Church from 1987 to 1995. That ended after church members complained about him violating guidelines for touching and supervision, Bishop Edward L. Salmon Jr. said. There was no evidence he had done anything illegal. “Over-familiarity is one way to describe it,” Salmon said. “I had no accusations of impropriety, absolutely none.”

The bishop allowed Weld to serve in a limited capacity after he left Saint Johns but eventually suspended him.

Read it all. Of course there are some stories like this I would rather not post but this is a news oriented site. George has not been with the diocese since the mid 1990’s. I ask your prayers for all involved, especially the whole Weld family–KSH.

Posted in * South Carolina

Canadian Anglican priest resigns

Rev. Antonio Osorio, the rector at St. Saviour’s Anglican Church, has resigned his position after admitting to sexual misconduct.

A statement issued by the Anglican Diocese of B.C. said Osorio was suspended from his duties Sept. 5 pending an investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct. On Wednesday, Osorio admitted to the allegation and offered his resignation, the statement said. It was accepted.

Read it all.

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

Bishop Orama of Nigeria offers some Thoughts

Bishop Orama maintained that the skill acquisition and the Small & Medium Scale Enterprises programmes of the federal government can be properly executed if the government partners with the Church.

On the political situation in the country, the Anglican bishop commended the present democratic dispensation for constituting the Electoral Reform Panel which he hopes, will help to guarantee credible elections in the future.

Also, speaking on the recent publication on the internet about an homophobic statement attributed to him in his recent synod address, Rt. Revd. Isaac Orama lamented over what he called a false statement published on the internet and called on the media to desist from publishing wrong statements for public consumption.

Read it all. Bishop Orama has been accused, tried and found guilty in many Anglican quarters of saying something he did not say . We have his text and what was purported to have been said was not in the text. So far as I am aware, there has been no audio or transcript of the bishop’s interview with reporters but both the bishop and the reporter said it was an incorrect quotation. UPI pulled the story. The reporter has made a statement which in part reads as follows:

The Bishop was wrongly misrepresented and misquoted and I hereby render my apologies to him, the Anglican Diocese of Uyo and the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) for embarrassment caused them by the report.

Look, I will continue to try to denounce language which is disrepectful of human dignity when I read of it or hear it. But where is the sense of justice from those who claim the mantle of justice for finding someone guilty of something he clearly did not say? Greg Griffith and I were both careful to couch our intial statements with the caveat that we were going by the report but that the report may not be correct. Many reappraisers did not. So where are the statements from them about this injustice now that it is very clear it was a false report? KSH.

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

Making a difference: Voices of Sept. 11

Go here and click on the video link under the picture. Check out their website also.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Terrorism

Episcopal Mission incorporates Navajo culture into church services

Still Father Corbett has faith in the future of St. Christopher’s. He is sure the Episcopal Church will not abandon its last “area mission” within the contiguous United States.

An area mission is much like any other Episcopal diocese, he explains. It is a district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. “But we are not, strictly speaking, a diocese, because we are not self-supporting.”

The mission will rely on the central church for the foreseeable future, Father Corbett is sure. He explains that one of the congregations, St. John’s, does not have one active member who has regular employment.

Father Corbett believes that if the Episcopal Church is going to continue to have meaning in the lives of Navajos, it must embrace their traditions. He quotes Steven Plummer, the church’s first Navajo bishop, saying the church must be an incubator of the culture. That’s why Father Corbett has learned Navajo prayers, recites the Lord’s Prayer in Navajo, prays in English to the four directions. “The basic point is anything Navajos learn has to fit in with their world view.”

Father Corbett says Navajo traditions are easily reconciled with Christianity in that Navajos also believe in a creator God. And Navajos have an easy time knowing God incarnate in his son, Jesus. In their Winter Festival, the Holy People come to dance among them, Father Corbett explains. “It is an instance of multiple incarnations.”

Father Corbett told a previous bishop that he thought the Navajo would always see Christ as first among many Holy People. “That was too much for him,” Father Corbett recalls.

Still, he is sure most of his superiors in the church believe as he does, “If you are going to have dialogue between the Navajo and Christian, if it is a true dialogue, both sides have to be open to change.” The Episcopal Church has a long history of adapting, he points out. He mentions the Nicene Convention.

So the Episcopal Church will use Navajo teachers and medicine men next week to help with a Navajo blessing ceremony when they ordain their new bishop. Father Corbett predicts, “The sermon will draw parallels with Christianity. No doubt we shall sing some hymns as well as Navajo chants. This has to be done by someone who is at home with both traditions. Otherwise we will end up with a mishmash.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Theology

Jim Workman: Turning Away From God

During the time of the first round of consents to the consecration of Fr. Lawrence, he was pushed repeatedly to make declarations of loyalty to The Episcopal Church. Some members of standing committees seemed to want an absolute, lifetime pledge. My plea is that members of standing committees will see that such an absolute pledge to any church organization carries a person beyond what scripture, tradition, and reason would require. It would be swearing to something to which God won’t swear.

Human attempts to organize our lives “fall short of the glory of God.” Religion ”” the acts of humans to respond to God ”” is not exempt. In biblical tradition, religion is under greater scrutiny. The standard for examination is the canon of scripture to which the canons of the church point.

In this time of palpable tension for those of us in The Episcopal Church, may diocesan bishops and standing committees not hold the bishop-elect of the Diocese of South Carolina to a standard to which God would not subscribe.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, Theology

Big challenges ahead for new boss of Olympia Episcopal diocese

It is likely to be a grand show.

More than 2,000 people, including a procession of 200 local clergy, are expected at Meydenbauer Center to attend the ordination and consecration of the Rev. Gregory Rickel as the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia.

Rickel, 44, who was most recently rector of a church in Austin, Texas, succeeds Bishop Vincent Warner, who is retiring after 18 years as head of the Episcopal Church in Western Washington.

“This whole thing is nothing you train for or plan for ”” you can’t,” Rickel said in an interview earlier this month. “This mantle ”” it’s daunting.”

Indeed, beyond the grandeur of the ordination ceremony, there are big challenges ahead for Rickel.

He faces declining membership numbers, a region that is known for being “unchurched,” and some ongoing debates over biblical interpretation on issues such as homosexuality that have led to two congregations pulling out of the diocese.

Read it all.

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

Bishop Dorsey Henderson Withdraws Report Endorsement

The Rt. Rev. Dorsey F. Henderson, Jr., Bishop of Upper South Carolina, was erroneously listed as a contributing author of a legal paper prepared for the House of Bishops’ meeting next week.

“My name is on it because there was a criss-cross of e-mails,” Bishop Henderson told a reporter from The Living Church. “I asked that my name be removed, but I was informed that it had already been sent to the printer. There are parts in which I concur, but others where I dissent.”

The 98-page paper is titled “The Constitutional Crisis, 2007: A Statement to The House of Bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury, & Honored Visitors by Legally Trained Members of the House.” In addition to Bishop Henderson, five other bishops who are licensed attorneys are listed as authors: the Rt. Rev. Cabell Tennis, retired Bishop of Delaware; the Rt. Rev. Robert D. Rowley, Jr., retired Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania; the Rt. Rev. Joe Morris Doss, retired Bishop of New Jersey; the Rt. Rev. Creighton Robertson, Bishop of South Dakota; and the Rt. Rev. Stacy F. Sauls, Bishop of Lexington.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori offers an overview the next House of Bishops Meeting

Watch and listen to it all.

Two comments from yours truly. First, there is an error. The Presiding Bishop says that the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Archbishop of Canterbury were invited but also invited (and omitted by her) is that the Primates Standing Committee was asked to come as well. Second, she really only mentions one instrument of Communion and noticeably not the other four (she mentions the Archbishop but not in that role). It is highly significant that the North American provinces keep exaggerating the importance of the Anglican Consultative Council, since they had and still have an undue influence in its functioning relative to other provinces in the Communion–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, TEC Bishops

An open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury from the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria

The proposed Anglican Communion Covenant is the one way for us to uphold our common heritage of faith while at the same time holding each other accountable to those teachings that have defined our life together and also guide us into the future. It has already received enthusiastic support from the majority of the Communion. Therefore we propose the following action plan:

As a matter of utmost urgency, call a special session of the Primates Meeting to:

a) Receive the responses made by The Episcopal Church to the Dromantine and Dar es Salaam Communiqués and determine their adequacy.

b) Arrive at a consensus for the application of the Windsor Process especially in Provinces whose self-understanding is at odds with the predominant mind of the Communion.

c) Set in motion an agreed process to finalize the Anglican Covenant Proposal and set a timetable for its ratification by individual provinces. This cannot be done at the Lambeth Conference because it is simply too large and, we all know, the Anglican Covenant requires individual provincial endorsement and signature.

Postpone current plans for the Lambeth Conference (as has been done before). This will:

a) Allow the current tensions to subside and leave room for the hard work of reconciliation that is a prerequisite for the fellowship we all desire.

b) Confirm that those invited to the Lambeth Conference have already endorsed the Anglican Covenant and so are able to come together as witnesses to our common faith.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Nigeria, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007

Naomi Schaeffer Riley: When Christians date outside the fold

Margaret Nagib, a 35-year-old single psychologist who lives outside of Chicago, sympathizes. “Sometimes it’s just nice to go out on a date.” Ms. Nagib was seeing a non-Christian for three months earlier this year. She talked with him very early on about her faith and even told him that she would “never consider being serious with someone who wasn’t Christian.” Ms. Nagib says that when he told her he was agnostic, she could have ended it right then, but the two “clicked really well.” He went to church with her and read a book on Christianity that she recommended, but ultimately the two broke up. He asked how her faith would affect their relationship if they got married. “When I think of our wedding ceremony, I want it to glorify God. And when I think of marriage and obviously children, they should glorify God.”

Ms. Nagib says that she has no regrets about the relationship. “God brought me into his life for a reason.” But she also offers advice for anyone going into such a situation. “You should know what your nonnegotiables are. You should talk about faith soon.” And she also suggests that if you find yourself “becoming defensive about it with your friends, there’s probably a problem.”

In fact, for older evangelicals it is less often their parents than their friends who steer them away from such relationships. Camerin Courtney, a columnist at ChristianSinglesToday.com, tells me that most Christian parents are just concerned that “their children find someone they love and who loves them back.”

But pastors regularly remind their flocks to avoid dating outside the faith. Lee Strobel, formerly a teaching pastor at Saddleback Church in Southern California and the author of “Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage,” tells people that “conjugal evangelism” doesn’t work. “If you’re feeling like if I just marry this person, I’ll be able to influence him toward God, it’s self-deception.” He notes that “the nonbeliever is more likely to pull the Christian away from his faith.” This is a contention, by the way, that sociologists, like Brad Wilcox at the University of Virginia, generally support. Mr. Wilcox explains: “Evangelicals who marry nonevangelicals are typically less likely to remain as or become as devout as those who marry within the fold.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture