Daily Archives: September 25, 2007

Jim Naughton: Saying Too Much?

Jim Naughton has this short blurb posted at Episcopal Cafe (The Lead)

Saying too much?

When the House of Bishops reconvenes, it will vote on a resolution of “seven or eight” bullet points written in resolution style followed by about a page and a half of explanatory langauge. I am told that there is general agreement on the bullet points, but that some bishops feel the explanatory language says more than is necessary, and raises issues that don’t need to be addressed. The PB thinks they can wrap this up by the 5 p. m. Eucharist.

(posted in full since access to Episcopal Cafe may be iffy, just as T19/SF have also been slammed by high traffic)

Posted in Uncategorized

Afternoon session to begin at 2:45 Central

[Information about “committee of four bishops” deleted. It was not accurate. My sincere apologies — elfgirl]

Discussion is scheduled for 2:30 Central / 19:30 GMT (20:30 London)

The live blog thread at Stand Firm will be here.
And of course, Baby Blue will be there too.

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

Anglican TV Schedule — live broadcast from Pittsburgh planned 8 pm Eastern tonight — UPDATE

Kevin Kallsen of Anglican TV is in Pittburgh now. He plans a live stream of the Common Cause Bishops Council tonight at 8 pm Eastern (11:00 GMT / midnight London)

Here’s the post where the stream from Pittsburgh will be broadcast.

You can read about Kevin’s schedule and broadcast plans here.

NOW scheduled for approx 8 p.m. eastern (not 7) since there is no wifi to enable him to broadcast live:

Update: There is no internet in the William Penn Ballroom. There is free internet in the lobby. Sssoooo, I will tape the opening address of Bishop Duncan and then run up to the lobby and broadcast it. I would imagine it would be sometime around 8:00pm.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Resources & Links, Anglican Communion Network, Common Cause Partnership, Resources: Audio-Visual

Ralph Webb: Is Only 5 Percent of the Episcopal Church Experiencing Conflict?

This morning, after listening to tales from over 20 dioceses of congregations splitting and foreign “incursions” (evidently the new preferred term for the formerly popular “border crossings”) around the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori made this astonishing statement:

“The conflict that you read about in the headlines is not reality for 95 percent” of the church.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Breaking: Q&A with Apb. Orombi of Uganda today in Kentucky

Reported by Alice Linsley, who attended the event, and posted at Northern Plains Anglicans. It seems everyone’s a reporter this week! Thanks All!!

Here’s the Q&A portion. But read the whole entry:

Henry Orombi Meets with Kentucky Anglicans
Alice C. Linsley

Archbishop Henry Orombi, Primate of the Anglican Church of Uganda, spoke to Anglican clergy and lay leaders at Apostles Anglican Church in Lexington, Kentucky on Tuesday, September 25. The event was well attended with representatives from all the newly formed Anglican churches in Kentucky. Also present were representatives from a missionary agency working in Uganda and a representative from the American Anglican Council.

[…]
After the preaching, His Grace took questions. Here are some points that he addressed:

Rowan Williams does not have authority to change the deadline for TEC’s response to the Communiqué because the Primates set that date in Dar es Salaam.

Rowan Williams regards many in TEC as being so long without Christian teaching that “they don’t know their right hand from their left.” (Here Orombi is quoting Williams.)

Archbishop Orombi and Archbishop Akinola are in the USA at a time that coincides with the HOB meeting to strengthen Anglicans in preparation for TEC’s anticipated rejection of the Primates’ requests to cease ordination/consecration of active homosexuals and same-sex blessings in the Episcopal churches.

Archbishop Orombi consecrated John Guernsey so that there would be an Anglican bishop in close proximity to deal with emergencies. As he expressed it: “It took me 16 hours to arrive in Virginia. If you need a fire truck to come all the way from Uganda, what would be left of the building?”

His Grace expressed gratitude for the Common Cause Partners and asked for prayer that there might be unity among them. “They must come together as brothers, taking each other’s hands,” he said. “They must stand together, all holding hands.”

When asked about the importance of Canterbury, the Archbishop responded, “Anglican identity is not tied to Canterbury.” While Anglicans recognize Canterbury as one of the oldest sees, “there are other significant sees.” In this matter His Grace follows Church tradition in recognizing the authority of older sees such as Jerusalem, Alexandria, Rome and Antioch.

Read it all here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

NPR: Gay Issue Looms over Episcopal Church

At the end of the day, the bishops emerged with nothing decided. But Bishop J. Neil Alexander, of Atlanta, was optimistic that they would soon produce a winning document.

“My own feeling is the statement will be shaped in such a way that it will be well received by the leaders of the Anglican communion and also be well received by the majority of the members of the Episcopal Church,” Alexander said.

That remains to be seen. According to several sources, the bishops have agreed on content that is unlikely to appease conservatives.

They will reportedly reiterate that they will show restraint in consecrating openly gay bishops, but they will not rule it out altogether.

They may say they will not officially perform same-sex blessings that are not authorized ”” yet, nearly a dozen dioceses openly permit them. And they will back a proposal that would let the presiding bishop appoint a few bishops to be ambassadors to the unhappy conservative congregations.

But that falls short of the independent oversight conservatives had wanted.

Read (or listen to) it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

A reminder: T19 Mobile View

The servers are slowing down due to traffic. If you just want to check to see what’s posted and what is drawing comment, PLEASE try using the “mobile” view — headlines and comment totals: http://kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/mobile/

Oh: and it’s probably a good idea to save your comment before hitting submit.

Update: we’ve reduced the number of entries displayed on the main page to 20. Just for today.

Posted in * Admin

Forth Worth Standing Committee Statement

We, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, have recently conducted two meetings with clergy and lay leaders of the diocese. This was done in accord with our decision, announced in May, to continue to seek Alternative Primatial Oversight as requested by vote of the 2006 Diocesan Convention. The meetings allowed us to explore the options before us. All active parish clergy resident in the diocese were invited to attend one of the two meetings. The junior and senior wardens of each congregation also were invited to attend, to represent the concerns of the laity.

The purpose of the meetings was to give each participant an opportunity to share personal feelings and opinions on the crisis facing The Episcopal Church and the relationship of this diocese to General Convention. The meetings were characterized by a spirit of charity and openness, as well as anxiety and grief. We heard sincere and faithful voices from all points of view. It was the opinion of all that, regardless of what course of action is taken, there will be tremendous cost at all levels. At the same time, we were encouraged by the honest discussion during this time of listening.

Three general options for the future were identified in May. During the whole course of both meetings, we heard two or three persons voice support for a path of complete accession to the positions taken by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. There was a little more support for continuing the current course of staying and witnessing within The Episcopal Church. The overwhelming opinion expressed by those who spoke was that it is time for the realignment to move forward, as we committed ourselves to doing at our Diocesan Convention of 2003.* Sadly, no other solution to the crisis could be identified. With faith and renewed hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, we will move forward.

We appreciate the contributions made by all who participated, and we pray for the life and direction of this diocese.

The Very Rev. Ryan S. Reed
President
on behalf of the Standing Committee

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Organizations, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, TEC Polity & Canons

Welcome to Alice in Wonderland

Apparently the Bishop of Los Angeles has given permission to his priests to do blessings without his permission.

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

Bishop Steenson's Statement to the House of Bishops

Read it all.

Update: The Living Church has an article about Bishop Steenson’s statement here. Here’s the concluding section:

“From time to time it seems necessary for some to embark on these personal journeys as a reminder that the churches of the Reformation were not intended to carry on indefinitely separated from their historical and theological mooring in the Church of Rome,” he said. “I believe that the Lord now calls me in this direction.”

In concluding remarks, Bishop Steenson asked for forgiveness from his fellow bishops “for any difficulty this may cause and for anything I may have said or done that has failed to live up to the love of Christ.

“I hope that you will not see this as a repudiation of The Episcopal Church or Anglicanism. Rather, it is the sincere desire of a simple soul to bear witness to the fullness of the Catholic faith, in communion with what St. Irenaeus called ”˜that greatest and most ancient Church.’ I believe that our noble Anglican tradition (”˜this worthy patrimony’) has deep within it the instinct of a migratory bird calling, ”˜It is time to fly home to a place you have never seen before.’ May the Lord bless my steps and yours and bring our paths together in his good time.”

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

Michael Watson Chimes In

Kendall,

Louie Crew cites the reference in paragraph 143 of the Windsor Report to a “breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care.” But the cited language in the Windsor Report is a quote from the Primates’ Pastoral Letter of May 2003. The Primates’ letter in turn cites as its source on the individual pastoral care issue True Union in the Body. What does True Union in the Body say about the subject? In Section 5, “Embodying True Grace: The Pastoral Response of the Church,” we find this: “Pastoral care that is shaped by this costly grace will resist actions to legitimate same-sex unions and seek to show that, because they are in theological error, such actions by the Church do not contain within them the promised seed of freedom.” (paragraph 5.15) “Thus the decision to bless same-sex unions, rather than assisting a life of faithful witness and being good pastoral practice, sends out contradictory messages concerning the Christian life. It undermines faithful witness by leading Christian believers into areas of real temptation and indeed sin.”
(paragraph 5.16)

We are asked to believe that blessings of same sex unions are within the range of private pastoral responses envisioned by the Primates (and in the Windsor Report), but in fact the Primates’ (and the Windsor Report’s) cited source on the subject directly negates the view that unofficial blessings are to be embraced as a permissible pastoral response.

Posted in Uncategorized

I Agree with Jim Naughton

From here:

I am praying for an improvement in the House of Bishops’ gross motor skills.

I agree. Once again I do not think that our trumpeted polity looks very impressive in practice. But let us see what comes later.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Bishop of Lichfield: Gay row could split church

The Bishop of Lichfield told the Express & Star he had a traditional view of homosexuality and viewed the appointment of gay bishops as wrong.

He said: “I have friends who are gay and I am very fond of them and life is very complex for them. I don’t want a split at all but the reason for it not so much the moral issue, it is the fact the Americans have gone ahead without a debate. We need to have a debate, that’s the real cause of the split.

“It may be that the American churches are allowed to split and get on with it while the rest of the church gets back to debating it. Appointing a gay bishop, in my view, was wrong and I think 95 per cent of the Anglican Communion would agree with me.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

(London) Times: US bishop defects to Catholic Church in row over gays

His defection will come as a further blow to an Anglican province already reeling from the plans of up to five dioceses to seek leadership from a conservative province outside the US. Insiders say that the small but wealthy Episcopal Church, with about one million Sunday worshippers, is losing hundreds of people every year.

The row is ostensibly over the 2003 consecration of the openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson to New Hampshire, but in reality it is about the wider issue of Biblical interpretation and the place of tradition in a modern church in the secular world. The Church is about to be riven by litigation as many of the departing Episcopalians attempt to take their church buildings with them.

The Right Rev Steenson indicated that those who want to go should go quietly.

He said: “I hope my decision will encourage others who believe they can no longer remain in the Episcopal Church, to respect its laws and to withdraw as courteously as possible for the sake of the Christian witness.”

Referring to another meeting of the Church’s bishops this year, he said: “I was more than a little surprised when such a substantial majority declared the polity of the Episcopal Church to be primarily that of an autonomous and independent local church relating to the wider Anglican Communion by voluntary association. This is not the Anglicanism in which I was formed, inspired by the Oxford movement and the Catholic Revival in the Church of England. Perhaps something was defective in my education for ministry in the Episcopal Church, but, honestly, I did not recognise the church that this House described on that occasion.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Tuesday's commentary roundup

As we did yesterday, we’ll add to this post throughout the day with interesting excerpts of commentary from around the blogosphere. Keep checking for updates.

** this is “sticky” — check below for new entries **

——–
Wednesday Morning Update:

No new entries have been added to the main text, but we’ve provided some links in the comments to other blogs providing commentary roundup.

From Scott Gunn at Inclusive Church:
Clarity, please — and my own “radical solution”
http://inclusivechurch.blogspot.com/2007/09/clarity-please-and-my-own-radical.html

Not too long before the House of Bishops began to meet, Kendall Harmon made this plea:

So let the TEC leaders have the courage of their convictions and say what they actually believe before God and the global Anglican leaders. If they fail to do so, where is the justice in that?

I’m in full agreement with Kendall here. Too often, we progressives in ECUSA have been willing to duck behind polity or otherwise obscure our actions. The bishops needs to acknowledge their authority and their responsibility.

==================

Must reading from Matt Kennedy:
Duplicity and same sex blessings: The difference between Pastoral Care and Public Rites
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/6293/

The bishops’ at last night’s press conference bent over backwards to get their talking points out: the House of Bishop’s response will be “clear” and “unambiguous”

And yet as we have seen, an Episcopalian bishops’ understanding of clarity and forthrightness is not wholly consistent with that of an ordinary person. An Episcopalian bishop, for example, can “permit” countless “acts of pastoral care” in his/her diocese wherein an officially licensed Episcopalian priest, in a “public” ceremony, blesses union of a gay and/or lesbian couple and still claim that he/she has not “authorized public rites for same sex blessings.”

The distinction such a bishop seeks to draw (or the obfuscation behind which such a bishop seeks to hide) is between a “rite” or liturgy authorized for use by the diocesan office and an actual ceremony, public or not, using a liturgy that does not enjoy the bishop’s “official” sanction. […]

The duplicity evidenced by Bishop Bruno in last night’s press conference (which is not at all unique to Bishop Bruno but simply reflective of the institutional deception that has arisen since 2003) is precisely the sort of duplicity that the Dar Es Salaam Communique seeks to disallow. The Primates want same sex blessings to end.

If what we have seen so far is any indication, the House of Bishops is making every possible effort, making every acrobatic twist, not to be clear, not to be forthright and not to give an honest answer.

===========

Over at Covenant is a fascinating reflection on ++Rowan Williams sermon at the Ecumenical service last week by Dr. Jean Meade:

Dr. Jean Meade: Reflection from New Orleans

Feast celebrates the doctrine of the Trinity

[blockquote]But wrapped up there was the identical sermon being preached to and applied to the Episcopal Church and its Bishops, don’t you think? It is a “real wound” that the conservatives have been driven out, and are being driven out, and those in charge must realize that their own selves are endangered when these “others”, on whom they deeply depend for their meaning as Christians, are treated as if they had no worth. They must change their hearts and their very image of themselves. [Surely the Archbishop would by now have picked up on the always-unstated subtext that those of us who remain in the City of New Orleans generally say “good riddance” to those who have left, and are happy to see them never come back””just about the same attitude the Bishops have about the traditionalists who have left and are leaving.][/blockquote]

===========

EPC pastor David Fischler at Reformed Pastor joins in the vocal commentary about +Bruno’s remarks at yesterday’s press conference

Busted (UPDATE: Plausible Deniability)
Busted (UPDATE: Plausible Deniability)

It isn’t often that someone in a clerical collar and pectoral cross is caught in a flat-out, bold-faced, demonstrable whopper. Such, however, was the fate of Los Angeles Episcopal Bishop Jon J. Bruno at a press conference in New Orleans last night.

===========

Mark Harris at Preludium comments on the Making of Sausage:
http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2007/09/on-matter-of-making-sausage.html

Every effort to make a collective statement requires the addition of material which does not satisfy the discriminating writer, much as making sausage often includes binders and fillers that appall. Persons of discriminating taste ought not watch while sausage, law or group communications are being produced. Having been part of several drafting committees I can speak from personal experience on the matter. […]

I believe the House of Bishops is working hard at being and doing what is expected of them. Perhaps it is all our fault in expecting them to be and do too much. Some of us out here in the church have forgotten, along with some of them, that the work we do as The Episcopal Church (as opposed say to the diocese, or the parish, or the youth group) is cycled on a general three year plan. General Convention, the great sausage machine of The Episcopal Church, takes in all our concerns raised over three years and produces sausage which is then consumed (with greater and lesser gusto) in the years following. This in turn feeds into the next round. And so it goes.

It is perhaps too much to expect that the House of Bishops will produce definitive statements at this point. Some of us do not think they ought to do so. (See the Consultation statement.) In any event the House of Bishops, what ever they do today, deserve our thanks and prayers. Believing that it is necessary to make sausage, they are hard at work. Whether or not it is eatable remains to be seen.

============

And the best headline award goes to…. Ruth Gledhill! For this gem: Goodbye Father Jeffrey. Hello, Sister Moon.
http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2007/09/goodbye-father-.html

(Right, I know we didn’t actually ANNOUNCE a headline contest, but Ruth wins hands down anyway 😉 ) Ruth writes:

The Bishop of Rio Grande, Jeffrey Steenson, is today explaining to the US bishops why he is to be received into the Roman Catholic Church. He leaves an Episcopal Church in disarray, led no longer by a ‘house’ but by a ‘community’ of bishops, with a songbook of praise to Mother Earth, Sister Moon and Brother Sun. Thank you BabyBlue for finding out what the bishops are singing in New Orleans and thus reminding us that this whole affair actually has very little to do with homosexuality.

=============

Northern Plains Anglicans are pulling no punches:
Bishops and other assorted Episcopal leaders are lying
http://northernplainsanglicans.blogspot.com/2007/09/bishops-and-other-assorted-episcopal.html

[in discussing the lack of transparency re: systemic decline, and also the apparent lie of Bishop Jon Bruno]

We can argue about all kinds of issues, but one of the reasons that the Episcopal Church is in so much trouble is that its leaders have shown themselves untrustworthy. One of this week’s morning lessons (1979 Book of Common Prayer) includes an instruction for Christ’s people to live together with “sincerity and truth”. Let us pray for honesty from our leaders. The flock needs to know where it is being led, and if the voice calling it is the Good Shepherd or a thief.

=============

BabyBlue and an unnamed reporter discuss this morning’s open session:
http://babybluecafe.blogspot.com/2007/09/day-seven-live-from-house-of-bishops.html

I was just whispering with one of the national reporters here and she thought that the bishops standing up and talking about all the parishes leaving backfired on them. The way they talked (for example, the PB talked about the “Secret Church of Jesus Christ”) was jocular, not sorrowful. But I think it’s significant that Bishop Lee did not participate in that “event.”

===============

Bishop Steenson as part of his resignation statement, as reported in the Living Church:

“It seems to me that The Episcopal Church has made a decisive turn away from those extraordinary efforts to preserve the Communion, such as Archbishop Rowan’s [Williams] proposal last summer in ”˜The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today.’ It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that The Episcopal Church has rejected the discipline of communion but wants it only on its own terms.

==============

David Trimble of Still on Patrol weighs in on +Jon Bruno and the culture of obfuscation of the HoB:
Same-Sex, Lies, and Video Feeds
http://stillonpatrol.typepad.com/still_on_patrol/2007/09/same-sex-lies-a.html

So, did +Bruno make a bold-faced lie to the NYT? Arguably, especially if you consider a “lie” to include obscuring the truth. Did he prevaricate and obfuscate by some winking and nodding at what is and is not officially approved and doing what he wants anyway? Most certainly. After all, isn’t this the TCGC way? No one associated with TCGC these days seems capable of giving a straight, honest, accountable answer to any question posed to them. Watching a HOB/COB press conference is almost like watching a Senate hearing where everything which occurs after the initial call to order is shaded, nuanced, and massaged to the point where the truth becomes a forgotten and antiquated concept.

In that it appears that +Bruno is among those on the writing committee, what hope is there that the “new document” which is supposed to emerge today will be any more acceptable than yesterday’s “draft”? The repeated assurances of a need for clarity do not lend themselves to any notion that TCGC is planning to repent or back away from anything it has done over the past 30 years. My prediction is that today’s new “draft” will surpass yesterday’s in its single-digit salute given to the Anglican Communion, and will this time include both the right and left hand versions of that gesture both to the AC at large and to the orthodox in particular.

==========

Dave Sims at Covenant comments on +Steenson’s statement and asks some great questions:

You Can’t Get There From Here: +Steenson says Windsor Process insufficiently Catholic

Richard Minter: An Armenian church in Turkey is restored

These are sobering thoughts for any Anglican concerned with real Catholicity. Apparently something happened at the NO meeting which confirmed doubts that +Steenson has been wrestling with for some time. The issues he lays before the HOB describe broad, intractable problems, endemic to contemporary Anglicanism.

So, what would Cantuar say to this charge? Is the idea of a Covenant not sufficiently unifying to provide genuine Catholic order? Is Anglicanism really at a dead end with regards to a future Catholic unity?

===========

Cherie Wetzel confirms Baby Blue’s impression that the press were not impressed by the discussion of “incursions by foreign prelates,” and that it may have backfired on TEC:

(via e-mail, her report #10. Will eventually be posted here).

Next, we heard the report about parishes in dioceses that have disassociated with TEC and gone “foreign.” There was no way to gloss over this report or minimize its impact on the press. Clearly more than 30 parishes were listed, 50 clergy named and other announcements of new parishes begun by CANA and the AMiA in more than 10 dioceses. At the conclusion of the report, Bishop Dean Wolfe of Kansas stated that he wanted the visitors to know that given the great list we had just heard, TEC had only lost 2 parishes. Just after this, the press was dismissed from the meeting. Incredulous at the statistical analysis just given, this now is the question in the pressroom.

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

A Letter from The Consultation to The House of Bishops

September 24, 2007

A message from The Consultation to the House of Bishops as it deliberates its message to the Church.

The thirteen constituent members of The Consultation, representative of the independent justice organizations of The Episcopal Church, meeting September 23-24 in Newark, wish to remind the members of the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans that they represent one house of the General Convention, and one constituency of the baptized in The Episcopal Church. Any message you make must be mindful of the fact that the Executive Council has made a very clear statement on the matter before you and that General Convention will not speak on this matter until its meeting in 2009. We have in mind the language of the Baptismal Covenant which calls us to respect the dignity of every human being. It is not respectful of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers when we tell them that they are full participants in the church and then place restrictions on their participation at any level of the church’s life.

In the preamble of the 2006 platform of The Consultation we affirm that we see the image of God and the Christ in others and ourselves. We believe that all the baptized are called to share in the governance and mission of the Church at all levels. We see the increase of power claimed by the episcopate as imbalance in The Body.

We urge you to have these things in the forefront of your minds and hearts as you craft this statement. The sacred vows of The Baptismal Covenant and the tradition and heritage of the participatory governance of The Episcopal Church must not be squandered for a single Lambeth conference.

We urge you as bishops not to walk apart from the rest of the priesthood of all believers in The Episcopal Church, and to embrace the unconditional love of God as made incarnate in the radical inclusion of Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit be with you to guide you in all strength and courage in these difficult days as ordained leaders in the Church.

The Consultation
Integrity
TransEpiscopal
Episcopal Urban Caucus
Episcopal Peace Fellowship
Episcopal Women’s Caucus
Union of Black Episcopalians
Episcopal Ecological Network
National Episcopal AIDS Coalition
Province VIII Indigenous Ministries
Episcopal Church Publishing Company
Episcopal Network for Economic Justice
Episcopal Asiaamerica Ministry Advocates Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission

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

Kendall Harmon: The Episcopal Church Plays and Loses the Numbers Game

As is well known, the Episcopal Church radically altered its theology and practice at its General Convention in 2003. As a result a significant amount of unrest has gone on in the TEC community which the leadership has tried to downplay or deny.

It is important to understand that those who are deeply opposed to the new theology fall into not one but four groups, each of which is engaged in different things.

(1) There are people who are voting with their feet, and departing from the Episcopal Church to Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and Free Church Protestantism.

According to the Christian Century, “the Episcopal Church has suffered a net loss of nearly 115,000 members over the past three years ””with homosexuality issues fueling the departures.” Kirk Hadaway, the denomination’s director of research, noted that “it is a precipitous drop in losing 36,000 in both 2003 and 2004, and now 42,000 in 2005.” The numbers for 2006 have not been released yet, but they are sure to show this trend continuing, and indeed probably increasing as the departure of large portions of whole parishes or indeed nearly all of some parishes begin to be reflected in the numbers.

Also, the level of struggle is well indicated by a recent national church publication in which we learn:

“The proportion [of parishes] with excellent or good financial health declined from 56% to 32% between 2000 and 2005.”

And: “The proportion in some or serious financial difficulty almost doubled, increasing from 13% in 2000 to 25% in 2005.”

(2) There are whole parishes or portions of parishes which through different means have sought to leave the Episcopal Church but to keep their ties to the Anglican Communion through a relationship with another Anglican Province. At present, these groups are in a state of flux and in seemingly nearly constant motion but it is possible to delineate some sense of their numbers:

Anglican Mission in America (Rwanda), some 100-115 parishes
CANA (Nigeria), some 60 parishes
Uganda, some about 30 parishes
Kenya, some 20-30 parishes
Southern Cone, some at least 50 parishes

Now, not all of these parishes consists of former members of TEC as some are church plants, but many of them contain sections of former TEC folks and in a number of cases nearly the whole parish came over from TEC (Christ Church, Plano, Texas, being a recent example, in that case of a church who joined AMIA/Rwanda)

(3) There are parishes or sections of parishes who are on the verge of deciding along the lines of group 2 in some way by the end of 2007/early 2008, depending on the outcome of the Tanzania Communique, the House of Bishops meeting, and the response of the Anglican leadership thereto. Saint Clements, El Paso, one of the largest parishes in the diocese of the Rio Grande, just voted by an overwhelming margin to leave TEC on Sunday, September 16th. It needs to be emphasized that many of these people and parishes do not wish to depart, but feel if the Anglican Communion leadership continues to fail to provide a safe place for them, they have no other choice.

It must also be noted that three dioceses””Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, and San Joaquin, appear to be considering moves in this direction. I am not aware of any time in the history of the Episcopal Church when three dioceses as whole dioceses sought to consider these kinds of momentous decisions. (It will of course be noted that the dioceses are not monolithic””no diocese is-and there are smaller groups within the diocese that feel differently. Nonetheless the contemplated collective diocesan action is significant).

(4) There is a considerable group of other individuals, parishes and dioceses who are completely opposed to the new theology and practice of TEC’s leadership, but who wish to find a way to stay connected to the Anglican Communion as they continue to stand in radical opposition, and are not sure what the way forward is. Two examples would be the diocese of South Carolina, and the parish of Saint Martin’s Houston, which claims the largest membership in the country and which made clear in its last call process that their new rector would need to stand solidly for the theology of the Anglican Communion and the Windsor Report.

The national leadership’s way of treating this problem is to give the most narrow definition as possible to group two, and then to try to minimize the problem.

Unfortunately, for example we see things like this:

Note on Dioceses, Congregations and Church Structure

· Dioceses and congregations remain part of the Episcopal Church even when local leaders and/or a number of parishioners opt to leave the denomination as a matter of personal choice.
· Dioceses are created by the General Convention and cannot be dissolved without action of the General Convention in accordance with the provisions of the churchwide constitution and canons. Congregations, likewise, are created by a local diocese and continue within that structure unless otherwise decided by the local bishop in consultation with other elected diocesan leaders.
· According to a September 2007 update from director of research Kirk Hadaway, out of some 7600 total Episcopal Church congregations, located inside and outside the U.S., since 2003:
32 have LEFT–and by that we mean the majority of the congregation expressed a desire or voted to withdraw from The Episcopal Church, the bishop declared the congregation abandoned and notified the national office, where the church is now listed as non-filing/closed.
23 have VOTED TO LEAVE–meaning a significant number, usually including the clergy, have expressed a desire to withdraw from The Episcopal Church.

(And one immediately notes in passing that the national church office managed to get THESE numbers updated and out before the House of Bishops meeting, but that they still do not have the numbers out from 2006 in terms of overall membership numbers. Hmmmmm. I wonder why.)

Or this, which ran in April 2007 with the headline “Episcopal Bishop says few leaving over same-sex issues”:

The Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop on Wednesday downplayed the notion of a denominational schism over homosexuality, saying only a tiny fraction of congregations have moved to break away.

In an interview, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said the congregations had “gotten a lot of attention and been very noisy,” but accounted for less than 1 percent of the country’s total number of parishes, which she put at 7,500.

“The Episcopal Church is alive and well,” she said. Jefferts Schori was in Virginia Beach on Wednesday to speak at the Episcopal Communicators annual meeting at The Cavalier Hotel.

You can see what is going on, they are playing games with numbers and categories. “Few” leaving actually means “congregations,” and congregations means congregations defined as a whole. This is collapsing all four categories into a very narrow and misleading picture of group number 2.

People know that in reality it is very difficult to get whole parishes or dioceses to take significant decisions about ANYTHING, much less something as important as this. Given the degree of opposition and hostility faced in numerous quarters from diocesan and national leadership, and given how many Anglican reasserters (such as your blog convenor) have been advocating a stay and be opposed but be faithful stance, it is actually surprising that the numbers from the four categories are this large.

The key point is, taken together the four groups illustrate a VERY SERIOUS problem. Good leadership owns the actual situation and then tries to deal with it, it does not try to redefine it narrowly and pretend it is less than it is–KSH.

Update: the above article was written before and independently of this one by Simon Sarmiento but the information seems to be of a similar type.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Data, TEC Parishes

ENS: House of Bishops talks make 'enormous progress,' go into overtime

“This is a continuing process of discernment and clarification of the relationship of the Episcopal Church with the whole Anglican Communion” as regards church polity, the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire and other issues arising from that decision, Bishop David Alvarez of Puerto Rico told reporters at an evening news conference.

“Through this process we have proven the quality of life of this church in which we can talk openly with each other and in which we can differ but also pray together,” he added.

He was joined by Bishop J. Neil Alexander of Atlanta and Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles, who called earlier reports about a draft document inaccurate. “There is no draft at this point,” Alexander said emphatically. “We’ve made enormous progress today in building a very strong and broad consensus in the House of Bishops but we still have work to do.”

Read it all.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children;

that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,

so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;

and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God….

In spite of all ….[God did for them] they still sinned; despite his wonders they did not believe.

So he made their days vanish like a breath, and their years in terror.

–Psalm 78:5-7; 32-33
————————————————————————
He went in, and stood before his master, and Eli’sha said to him, “Where have you been, Geha’zi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.”

But he said to him, “Did I not go with you in spirit when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, menservants and maidservants?

Therefore the leprosy of Na’aman shall cleave to you, and to your descendants for ever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, as white as snow.

–2 Kings 5:25-27
——————————————————————

It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans.

–1 Corinthians 5:1

————————————————————–

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

–Matthew 5:37

=======

[Note from the elves, you can read all the lectionary passages easily on one page here (in the ESV translation)]

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Biblical Commentary & Reflection, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Down to the Last Day

Does it strike anyone else that as General Convention 2006 went down to the wire on the very last day, and the production of the unanimously supported Tanzania Communique also went down to the last part of the last session on the last day, that this House of Bishops meeting is headed in the same direction? I wonder what that really means–KSH.

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

Kendall Harmon: We Have Seen This Movie Before, Will it stop?

From yesterday’s livebog of the news Conference by Matt Kennedy:

NPR: But specifically what about ssbs [same sex blessings] that are occurring in diocese”¦the communiqué wants them to stop.

BRUNO: as I said we are going to be dealing with the specific questions asked of us by the Communion

NYT: How is the communiqué different from the desires of conservatives who wish for you to reverse course on sexuality issues. Doesn’t the communiqué ask you to reverse course in the same way. How can you distinguish between what the conservatives want you to do and the Communique asks you to do?

Bruno: You have asked whether we will continue the process of General Convention. The fact is that we have never authorized same sex unions.

NYT: it happens on the diocesan level all the time.

Bruno: Not in my diocese. It does not happen without my permission.

—————————————————————-

There are many bishops who have not formally authorized ceremonial rites for gay unions, but who nevertheless allow priests to perform them….

“Blessings happen, sure,” said Bishop [Mark] Sisk of New York. “But I didn’t authorize them.”

The New York Times, February 21, 2007

——————————————————————

According to Cheri Wetzel’s report from earlier at this New Orleans House of Bishops meeting:

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Phillip Aspinall, Archbishop of Brisbane Australia, spoke to the House, telling them that they must reassure the Communion that they will live into the resolutions passed at General Convention last year. He asked what the rest of the Communion was to think when they vote to refrain from authorizing same sex blessings and 14 bishops quietly (but publicly) authorize rites to be used in their diocese and give permission to their clergy to perform same sex marriages as a pastoral care issue. Aspinall asked, “What good is your vote? How do we trust you?”

Bishop Aspinall’s question still stands. The fact that we are seeing reruns of the Bishop Sisk movie from February from Bishop Bruno on the second to last day of this House of Bishops meeting in September (never mind all of the other showings) is not encouraging. This is not a game where it all comes down to what the meaning of is is. The movie needs to stop, that is why the Tanzania Communique used the language of “local pastoral provision” for same sex blessings in the first place–KSH.

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

Cheryl Glenn: Do the Episcopal Church Bishops Have the Guts to Stand Their Ground?

The U.S. arm of the Anglican Communion (The Episcopal Church USA) has been publicly debating the issues of gay ordination and same-sex unions for half a decade. This, of course, all came out (so to speak) when Gene Robinson (an openly gay Episcopal priest) was confirmed as a bishop at the 2003 general convention of the denomination.

The American Episcopal church seems to be predominantly liberal in its approach to this issue, but some North American dioceses have already pulled out of the American church and more are threatening to do the same. So, this week, the American House of Bishops is meeting in New Orleans to come to some sort of decision on the issue. Will they stand their ground as an open and inclusive Christian denomination or will they choose to bow to the Anglican Communion, for fear of disrupting the entire worldwide denomination with a church wide schism?

Read it all.
[warning: possible objectionable content on this site]

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

Reuters: Episcopal bishops see "clear" statement on gays

“We want that statement to be clear and unambiguous and we are working in that direction,” Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta told a news briefing in New Orleans, where the House of Bishops has been meeting.

The church leaders will wrap up six days of meetings on Tuesday with a response to the request made by senior Anglican bishops meeting in Tanzania earlier this year.

Those bishops asked that the U.S. church, by the end of this month, renounce the blessing of same-sex marriages and agree not to allow more non-celibate gays to become bishops.

“Are we going to withdraw our support of gay and lesbian people in the church? No, we’re not … They’re fully enfranchised members of our body,” said Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles.

“Are we going to do anything that will exacerbate this situation? No, I don’t think we will.”

Read it all.

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

AP: Episcopalians Try to Prevent Split

“We are working very closely with one another whether we are on the conservative end of the church, the liberal or the moderate middle,” said liberal Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno. “We’re looking to make as full, clear and complete a response as we can.”

The Episcopal Church, the Anglican body in the U.S., caused an uproar in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Bishop Ed Little of Northern Indiana, a theological conservative who wants to stay in the Episcopal Church, said that lay and clergy leaders from the Anglican Communion who have been attending the six-day meeting are pushing bishops to make concessions.

“They’ve all said in essence, for the good of the church, for the good of the communion, you have to take a step back,” Little said.

Read it all.

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

Telegraph: Anglican Church could split by end of year

The worldwide Anglican Church is expected to split radically by the end of the year under plans being drawn up by a leading conservative archbishop to “adopt” a breakaway group of American dioceses, the Daily Telegraph has learned.

Under the unprecedented proposals, the archbishop would allow the conservative dioceses to opt out of the liberal American branch of the Anglican Church and affiliate with his province thousands of miles away.

It is understood that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has been informed of the plans.

Read it all.

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

Kendall Harmon: Will it Be Clear and Unambiguous?

The Bishop of Atlanta says tomorrow’s statement(s) will be clear and unambiguous. This has not been the pattern of this church in the past, but I will be delighted to be surprised.

Here is one way I plan to evaluate this call for clarity: will it be as clear on the things that upset and concern them as TEC Bishops as it is on those things that upset and concern their sisters and brothers throughout the worldwide Anglican Communion?

An example. It is no secret that a number of TEC bishops are very, very angry about the increasing number of TEC parishes or portions of parishes affiliating with other member Provinces of the Anglican Comunion. I was told by one participant that one proposal being bandied about this week had to to with this subject. If I understood him correctly, the idea was a plea to global Anglican leaders to refuse to recognize any ordination, congregation or ecclesial entity within the Episcopal Church as being properly related and in communion with Canterbury unless certain TEC conditions were met.

Now, please let me be clear. I am not saying this will be in anything produced tomorrow (there were and are a lot of suggestions and drafts and sections of drafts running around) I am basing this on notes of a phone conversation.

But I think the language is unambiguous. The Americans feel threatened that they will lose their Anglican franchise here. So they want any ordination, parish, or ecclesial entity (mission? missionary society?) affiliated overseas to be somehow deligitimized according to their standards.

To me it sounds unambiguous. I would say ordination, congregation or ecclesial entity pretty much covers it, wouldn’t you?

What is the point? When TEC leaders want to be clear they can be.

I am watching not only for clarity, but for consistent clarity–KSH.

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

Living Church: New Document Will Preserve Status Quo

The new document essentially preserves the current status quo within The Episcopal Church, according to several bishops who were present. In the media briefing Bishop Bruno said the document in no way represented a “turning back of the clock. Gays and lesbians are fully enfranchised in our life,” he noted.

Bishop Bruno was questioned closely by journalists attending the briefing on whether there would be any change to the current policy on same-sex blessings, which is determined by General Convention Resolution C051 approved in 2003. That resolution states in part “that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions.”

At one point in response to a question by a reporter from The New York Times, Bishop Bruno said “same-sex blessings do not occur in my diocese with my permission.” The media briefing was officially ended shortly after that. In a follow up question afterward, Bishop Bruno denied knowledge of a same-sex blessing that occurred Saturday at All Saints’, Beverly Hills. A celebration announcement was published in the Sunday edition of the Times.

When contacted by The Living Church, the Rev. Susan Russell, associate rector at All Saints’ Church, Pasadena, and president of Integrity, clarified the apparent contradiction.

“Same-sex blessings occur in the Diocese of Los Angeles all the time,” she said listing several parishes including her own at which same-sex blessings had recently been performed. “We don’t ask for permission because Bishop Bruno has told us that he cannot give it until General Convention approves an official liturgy. He has told us that we are free to exercise appropriate pastoral care” for parishoners.

Read it all. By any reasonable measure, the Tanzania Communique wanted anything but the status quo–KSH.

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

Chicago diocese lists 3 more final nominees for Bishop

Read it all.

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

Kendall Harmon: About Tomorrow and How to Receive What Comes Out from the Bishops

Maybe it is good that I am writing this just after getting off the elliptical. Tomorrow it appears two written statements will come from the House of Bishops. The situation is fluid.

Predictions are to be treated with skepticism.

The documents will be important, but so will how we respond to them.

There have been a number of occasions recently like this where a key document or statement has come out, and the response has been, shall we say, less than satisfactory. Therefore there needs to be some preparation on our part so as to try to react in a Christian manner. Herewith some suggestions:

(1) Please try to read the actual text itself and concentrate on the language the Bishops used. I am sorry if this seems obvious but my Mom was an English teacher–you would be amazed at how little it actually occurs. Who are the worst people to do a Bible study with? Seminarians. Why? Because they have the most deep seated ideas of what the text says before they read it. It is vital that the text be heard on its own terms.

(2) Try to draw conclusions yourself FROM THE TEXT before getting your head clouded with what others think. Be aware that some of the early reactions will be wrong.

(3) When you consider others reactions, read from a variety of sources. You should regularly be visiting reappraiser and reasserter sites, writers you agree with and authors who drive you crazy.

(4) Make your early evaluations tentatively. “It seems to be saying that,” “what I hear the statement saying is,” are the kinds of things I would prefer to hear.

(5) Be aware that every statement like this goes through a process of sifting. Give it at least three days. There is an earthquake, there are aftershocks, and then things settle down.

(6) Expect the discernment to be a corporate activity. We still seek to be part of the Church of Jesus Christ, and we need one another. May the way we respond demonstrate this–KSH.

P.S. Pray that the server works!

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

Press conference video now up at Baby Blue

Part 1 of press conference video is posted at Baby Blue: http://babybluecafe.blogspot.com/2007/09/press-conference-for-day-six-house-of.html

Matt’s Live Blog text is here: http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/6265/

more links as we get them

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Resources & Links, - Anglican: Latest News, Episcopal Church (TEC), Resources: Audio-Visual, Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops