Daily Archives: October 3, 2007

Kendall Harmon: Initial Response to the JSC report

This is an illegitimate report based on a bizarre and deeply flawed process. The Presiding Bishop should have but did not recuse herself. Members of the Joint Standing Committee suggested word changes to an American report which they were then going to evaluate. Not all committee members had a chance to deliberate with others before the report was released, and the release was clearly rushed. Also: who wrote this document?

This looks and feels like American power politics, not prayerful Anglican deliberation–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, - Anglican: Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Reports & Communiques

Supreme Court Turns Down Cases on Religious Separation

One contentious topic missing from the Supreme Court’s docket as the new term opened on Monday was religion. The justices evidently plan to keep it that way, at least for now.

Among the hundreds of appeals the court turned down on Monday, in a list that printed out at 83 pages, were two cases on the relationship between church and state that might have brought even more visibility to the term.

One was a case from New York on whether church-affiliated employers who object to birth control on religious grounds must nonetheless provide contraceptive coverage to their female employees as part of their medical insurance coverage, as required by laws in New York and some two dozen other states.

The other case challenged the refusal of a public library in California to make a community meeting room available for worship services.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Church-State Issues, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

The World of Exclusive Inclusiveness and the JSC Report

Look at the contributors and see if you notice a pattern

The present text was developed from the remarks of JSC members in New Orleans and in consultation with them.
In electronic correspondence, the following members of the Joint Standing Committee have signified their assent to this text:
♦ Phillip Aspinall, Primate of Australia, Primates’ Standing Committee
♦ Barry Morgan, Primate of Wales, Primates’ Standing Committee
♦ Katharine Jefferts Schori, Primate of The Episcopal Church, Primates’ Standing Committee
♦ John Paterson, Chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council and of the ACC Standing Committee
♦ George Koshy, Vice-Chair, ACC and Standing Committee
♦ Robert Fordham, ACC Standing Committee
♦ Kumara Illangasinghe, ACC Standing Committee
♦ James Tengatenga, ACC Standing Committee
♦ Nomfundo Walaza, ACC Standing Committee

Responses have not yet been received from:
♦ Mouneer Anis, Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Primates’ Standing Committee
♦ Philippa Amable, ACC Standing Committee
♦ Jolly Babirukamu, ACC Standing Committee
♦ Elizabeth Paver, ACC Standing Committee

Update: Mouneer Anis is ‘incredibly disappointed and grieved’:

His response, which reached The Times a couple of hours after the JSC report was published, indicates perhaps that hopes of reconciliation remain as distant as ever, as the JSC itself appears from this document to fear they might. Archbishop Anis said this evening: ‘It is very unfortunate that not all the members of the Joint Standing Committee were present when a response to the HOB of TEC was drafted. The lack of discussion and interaction will not produce a report that expresses the view of the whole committee.’ He said the TEC response merely represented a ‘superficial shift’ from their previous position and refuted the JSC’s claim that there had been a change in position since 2003.

‘Therefore I strongly disagree with the report of the JSC which states that “We believe that the Episcopal Church has clarified all outstanding questions relating to their response to the questions directed explicitly to them, and on which clarifications were sought by the 30th of September, and given the necessary assurance sought of them.” The reasons for my disagreement are as follows:

‘On Public Rites for Blessing of Same-sex Unions

‘The statement of the House of Bishops in New Orleans did not meet the request of Windsor Report that the “Bishops must declare a moratorium on all such public rites”. It also failed to meet the request of the Primates at Dar El Salam that the Bishops should “make an unequivocal common covenant that the Bishops will not authorize any rites of blessing for same-sex unions in their Diocese.”

‘They did not declare a moratorium on authorization public rites of the blessing of same-sex unions. Instead the House of Bishops pledged not to authorize any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions. I understand moratorium as “cessation of activity”. In the explanatory discussion they mentioned that “the majority”, not all, of Bishops do not make allowances for the blessings of same-sex unions. This means that a number of Bishops will continue to make allowances for the blessing of same-sex unions. I see this as an equivocal and unclear response.

‘While the House of Bishop’s response means that ‘authorization’ of the rites will not take place, but it also stated that some will continue to ”explore and experience liturgies celebrating the blessing of same-sex unions”. The exploration of liturgies celebrating the blessing of same-sex unions, keeps a window to continue such blessings under another title !! This unashamedly disregards the standard teaching of the Anglican Communion which is still torn over this issue.

Read it all.

Update: Here is perhaps a better link for +Mouneer Anis’ commentary on the JSC report.

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

Joint Standing Committee Report out on New Orleans before all Members Could Even Respond

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Reports & Communiques, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Robin Jordan makes some Observations about some Episcopal Church life in KY

When these problems are viewed together, they embody a significant theological shift in the denomination away from orthodox Christianity and biblical Anglicanism. This is evident more in some parts of TEC than others. It may not be immediately recognized because of the veneer of traditional Anglo-Catholic worship that overlays it.

This shift is evident in the Episcopal churches in the part of Kentucky in which I am now living. It represents a radical change from what I heard preached and taught in the same churches over 20 years ago when I first began to visit the area. The message is not just one of the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church but of universalism, pluralism, and social and economic liberation. At the same time the worship in these churches can be characterized as traditionally Anglo-Catholic ”“ candles, eucharistic vestments, elaborate ritual, processions, chanted prayers and other liturgical texts, incense, vested choirs, organs, standard hymns and anthems, and Holy Communion on weekdays, as well as Sundays.

Of the five Episcopal churches in the area, only two give any appearance of real vitality. The latter can be attributed in part to their location, one in the downtown district of the region’s only city and the other in a university town. The area had six churches but the sixth church was closed in 2005 and its congregation merged with that of another church. One of the remaining five churches gives all appearances of being slated for closure at some future date: it is little more than a preaching station.

Read it all.

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

Healthy living could save U.S. $1 trillion, study finds

The rapid rise in preventable chronic diseases — such as obesity and heart disease — over the last 20 years is hurting U.S. economic productivity, escalating treatment costs and causing unnecessary suffering, a new report says.

That’s the bad news.

The good news, according to the report by the Santa Monica-based Milken Institute, is that the trend can be turned around with healthy doses of prevention and early detection.

The report comes amid a national debate over healthcare, what it should include, and who should pay for it — including government, private insurers, individuals and employers.

The Milken report is part of growing pressure at the same time to allocate more health dollars for prevention and early detection — rather than just treatment.

Currently Medicare, the government’s health insurance program for seniors, and private insurers tend to pay more for surgeries and treatment procedures than for prevention counseling in a physician’s office.

Such payments are rooted in the healthcare needs of the population when the payment plans began decades ago.

The Milken Institute, a private economic think tank, joins a growing chorus of researchers and public health experts contending that such a system no longer serves the nation because the population is aging and because the incidence of obesity and preventable diseases among Americans of all ages, including children, has risen alarmingly in recent years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Akhandadhi Das: Is it ethical to compel doctors actively to end life?

I have long contended that it’s unethical to compel doctors, whose very reason is to prolong life, to end it, either through the termination of pregnancy or euthanasia. The Mental Capacity Act raises the converse issue: Doctors can be stopped from providing life-preserving treatments by the wishes of their patients. Some might feel that this compromises their vocation as a doctor.

For me, the question then becomes: is acquiescing to a patient’s refusal of all interventions contrary to the dharma of a physician? Hinduism approaches it from the underlying philosophical principle that life belongs to the soul residing within the material body. The soul is an eternal spiritual entity and the body is a mechanical vehicle to be employed to best advantage whilst it lasts.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

Steve Wood: Politics And The Church

Here is what I have concluded:

1. It is impossible for a church to be non-political. The gospel that we preach is inherently political. We preach Jesus as King and the in-breaking of God’s Kingdom through Him. This means that we preach ultimate allegiance to Jesus, which threatens and challenges all other allegiances: to family, to country, to job, and to political parties.

2. The church can and does lift its voice and must speak plainly when we believe that a violation of biblical values is occurring. Thus, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. appropriately led the church to protest the segregation laws as violations of the biblical doctrines of human dignity and equality. Likewise, the church must speak plainly and clearly whenever we see human life, freedom, or dignity threatened by the state or by our culture.

3. Churches (and pastors) should serve as spiritual and moral advisors to Christian individuals who will lead political fights. It is Christian individuals, not the church or pastors that should engage in political fights. By doing this the church avoids dividing the body, we avoid compromising our value systems, we avoid implying that another conversion is necessary beyond coming to Christ, and we avoid hair-splitting discussion that are foreign to our approach to life. Christian individuals may have a calling to the world of politics. Churches (and pastors) generally do not.

4. The place for the church to proactively engage the world is by redefining the public square. Nothing that I’ve said should be read to imply that the best course for a church is to withdraw from the larger society and simply offer a privatized or merely “spiritual” gospel. Instead, St. Andrew’s has chosen to change the terms of the discussion altogether. We want to completely redefine engagement with the public square. It is not necessary to debate the proper role of government in order for a church to set up a prison ministry. We need not get every Christian to agree on government provided healthcare for us to set up a free medical clinic. The church need not be divided or endlessly debate the wording of legislation to do justice by tutoring kids, offering free legal services, helping people to get their GEDs, or serving unwed moms in crisis pregnancies. And we need not be aligned with any political party or be beholden to any politician to practice racial reconciliation or assist families struggling with mental illness, poverty, or domestic violence.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

No money and pressure from Celtic Anglicans influence ABC’s decision on Primates’ Meeting

By George Conger

Reactions to the US House of Bishops New Orleans statement amongst the Primates have broken along factional lines, with conservatives denouncing the statement as insubstantial and dishonest, while liberals have praised its candor and modesty.

The divergent views of the adequacy of the US response to the Primates request for clarification of American church practices towards gay bishops and blessings further complicates the Archbishop of Canterbury’s hopes of forestalling a schism within the Communion.

Straightened finances and fears of a boycott by the primates of Wales, Ireland and Scotland to an emergency primates’ meeting to discuss the American response to the primates’ Dar es Salaam communique, has led to Dr. Williams telephoning the Communion’s primates to try to find a common mind. Whether the primates’ round robin will produce an amicable resolution appears to be further hampered by the different world views of the players in Anglicanism’s great game. Aides to the Archbishop told The Church of England Newspaper during his meeting with the American bishops in New Orleans that Dr. Williams hoped to find the right combination of words that would satisfy the church’s disparate factions.

However, leaders of the Global South coalition have demanded not words, but action from the American church, and have little trust in the veracity of American promises of good behavior. Leaders of the liberal wing of the US Church and across the Communion are also divided, with some arguing that truth must not be subordinated to expediency while others hope their place within the councils of the church can be saved through the artful use of semantics.

The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Alan Harper of Armagh lauded the American response, saying the American “Bishops have gone a considerable way to meeting the reasonable demands of their critics.”

Archbishop Harper noted the “generous agreement” of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori “to put in place a plan to appoint Episcopal visitors for dioceses that request alternative oversight” and stated that while the bishops had declined “participation in the ”˜Pastoral Scheme’ offered by the Primates,” they had “at least” recognized the “useful role” of the Communion in these debates. Dr. Harper stated this seemed to be a “balanced and relatively generous response in a very delicate area of inter-provincial relationships.”

Bishop David Beetge of the Highveld, the acting primate and vicar general of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, said he welcomed the decision “for the simple reason it gives us more space and time to talk to each other.”

The Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Brisbane said he believed the US had “responded positively to all the requests put to them by the Primates in our Dar es Salaam communiqué.”However, he went on to damn the American Church with faint praise saying “Certainly they have responded to the substance of those requests.”

However the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen was not as sanguine. “At first reading, the statement from the TEC bishops does not seem to say anything new,” he noted. “The situation may not then be changed in any way.”

The African churches were stronger in their condemnation. “What we expected to come from them is to repent. That this is a sin in the eyes of the Lord and repentance is what me, in particular, and others expected to hear coming from this church,” Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said.

The Assistant Bishop of Kampala, David Zac Niringiye told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme Uganda believed the statement was inadequate as it was “not a change of heart”, but a temporizing solution.The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola stated the US response fell short of what was required. The primates had given the US “one final opportunity for an unequivocal assurance” that it would conform to the “to the mind and teaching of the Communion.” He said the primates were unwilling to accept further “ambiguous and misleading statements” from the US Church. “Sadly it seems that our hopes were not well founded and our pleas have once again been ignored.”

Meanwhile the Anglican Mainstream group said they were disappointed with the response because it failed to address the specific questions asked of it by the Primates’ Meeting in February, and backed the Common Cause College of Bishops. In a statement they said: “The first two points ”” on the election of non-celibate gay and lesbian bishops, and on public rites for blessing same-sex unions ”” suggest that the TEC House of Bishops has agreed not to walk further away from the rest of the Anglican Communion for the moment. “However, the TEC House of Bishops gives no indication of being prepared to turn and walk back towards us so that we may walk ahead together, and in reality same-sex blessings are continuing. “Moreover, there is no response to the Primates’ request to suspend all legal action.”

The Church Society also rejected the House of Bishops statement saying it demonstrates TEC has ”˜abandoned orthodox Christianity’.

–This article appears in the October 5, 2007 Church of England Newspaper, page 3, under a different headline

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

Sara “Sally” Gausmann: Reflections on the Churchwide Assembly

One of the slogans of the ELCA over the last couple of years has been “unity in the midst of diversity.” This unity has been so important that it even made it into the proposal of the task force presentation in 2005 when we discussed the blessing of same sex unions and the rostering of non-celibate clergy. The resolution was, that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America””its members, congregations, synods, churchwide organization, and agencies and institutions””be urged to concentrate on finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of disagreements, recognizing the God-given mission and communion that we share as members of the body of Christ.

What is the disagreement that we have that endangers our unity so much that we have to make resolutions promoting living together faithfully? Well, after I attended the 2005 assembly it became clear to me that the disagreement was not just on matters relating to human sexuality but had to do with a different understanding of theology or what I would call a new gospel. After attending the 2007 churchwide assembly I now realize that not only does this new gospel exist, but I have now had confirmed in my mind the realization that because of this new gospel we cannot have a unified church.

I say this not to be overly dramatic or divisive; I say it simply because it is the truth. Our Lord himself said that a house divided against itself cannot stand. (Mk 3:25) and Saint Paul likewise condemned the preaching of a new gospel (Galatians 1:9)

Now, first of all I need to define this new gospel and how it differs from the gospel of Jesus Christ, as revealed to us in holy scripture and the historic witness of the church catholic…

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches

A Statement from the Bishop of Georgia

Statement of the Right Reverend Henry I Louttit, Ninth Bishop of Georgia concerning the recent announcement by the present leadership of Christ Church (Episcopal), Savannah of their intention to leave the Episcopal Church:

I have just been informed that the rector and wardens of Christ Church, Savannah have voted to leave the Episcopal Church. It is important to clarify the ecclesiastical structure of our denomination. Parishes in our church are not separate congregations but are integral and constituent parts of a diocese and of the larger church. Should some individuals in a parish decide they can no longer be Episcopalians, that in no way changes the fact that Christ Church is and will remain a parish of the Episcopal Church in this diocese and will continue to occupy its present facilities.

Even though some parishioners of Christ Church have chosen to leave the Episcopal Church, I will work with those who remain to ensure that they will have newly empowered leaders, vestry members and clergy to lead them and carry forward the ministry and mission of the Episcopal Church at Christ Church, Savannah. To that end the continuing members of the Parish of Christ Church will meet in St. Paul the Apostle Episcopal Church, 34th & Abercorn, at 5 p.m. Sunday October 7 for the liturgy of Holy Communion and for a time of fellowship.

No matter what path any individual or any group may choose, Christ Church in its present facilities will carry on its portion of the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church here in Savannah and in the broader community and world. Should some decide that they can no longer take part in that mission and ministry, we will wish them well. However, we will continue to do God’s work at Christ Church, a parish of the Diocese of Georgia in the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church has weathered many storms over the last two hundred years and we will weather the present one as well. Please know that I want no one at Christ Church or elsewhere in this diocese to leave this part of God’s church that we call the Episcopal Church. But also know that should anyone choose to leave us, the doors of the Episcopal Church in this diocese will remain open for their return.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes

Savannah News: "Mother church" moves to leave Episcopal denomination

In February, leaders of national churches – called primates – set a Sept. 30 deadline for the Episcopal Church to promise not to approve any more gay bishops or blessings of gay partnerships.

Episcopal bishops issued a cleverly worded declaration on Sept. 25 that angered both sides of the issue. In it, they promised to “exercise restraint” by not consenting to any candidate for bishop “whose manner of life presents a challenge” to the church.

“We perceived that decision failed to comply with the primates’ expectations and the primates’ directives to the Episcopal Church,” said the Rev. Marc Robertson, church rector.

“It became clear to us that this was the best direction for us to take in order to proclaim the authority of Holy Scripture and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior,” said senior warden Steve Dantin in the statement sent Tuesday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes

Breaking: Christ Church, Savannah, Votes to Place themselves under the Province of Uganda

Read it carefully and read it all.

Update: Here is the press release:

September 30, 2007””Savannah, Georgia: The vestry of historic Christ Church has voted to continue in a province in good standing with the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion by placing itself under the pastoral care of The Rt. Reverend John Guernsey, Rector of All Saint’s Church in Woodbridge, VA and a bishop of the worldwide Anglican Communion’s Province of Uganda, Africa. The vestry was unanimous in its decision.

The vote follows a period of discernment and prayer that stretches back to 2000. “For seven years we have studied scripture, prayed and engaged in deep and significant conversations within the vestry, the congregation and the diocese,” Senior Warden Steve Dantin said. “It became clear to us that this was the best direction for us to take in order to proclaim the authority of Holy Scripture and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.”

“We have witnessed how The Episcopal Church (TEC) has separated itself from the historic Christian faith over the last few decades,” Dantin continued. “In February 2007 TEC received a final call from the Anglican Communion to return to the central tenets of Christianity, and TEC failed to comply with the request by the September 30 deadline. Therefore, TEC has abandoned the communion previously existing between TEC (including the Diocese of Georgia) and Christ Church. This is a sober moment for us, but our first allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s word revealed to us in the Holy Bible.”
“Traditional Anglican worship will continue at Christ Church just as it has for almost 275 years,” said The Reverend Marc Robertson, Rector of Christ Church. “We have had an established mission relationship with Uganda for several years. Bishop Guernsey in Virginia is well known to us, and I welcome the opportunity to serve under his authority.”

The province of Uganda, under the leadership of Archbishop Henry Orombi, has a membership of 9.5 million people, including 33 churches in the U.S. Christ Church is one of over 1,000 congregations representing more than 200,000 U. S. Anglicans and 1,200 clergy who are associates of the Anglican Communion Network, an ecclesial, Anglican body in the U. S. Christ Church is also an affiliate of the American Anglican Council, an advocacy group for Anglican orthodoxy in the United States.

Founded in 1733 with the establishment of the Georgia colony, Christ Church is the Mother Church of Georgia and the oldest continuous Christian congregation in the state. Christ Church predates the establishment of The Episcopal Church in the United States and the Diocese of Georgia. Early rectors include British evangelists John Wesley and George Whitefield. Located on its original site on historic Johnson Square in downtown Savannah, Christ Church continues as an active and thriving congregation.

Christ Church is a Bible-based, mission-minded congregation. The Christ Church Parish House hosts Emmaus House, started in the 1980’s, which feeds 30,000 meals to homeless people annually, including a Christmas morning breakfast. Christ Church is a full partner in the Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens, which it founded in 1935, returning the bulk of its proceeds to community ministries and mission. Christ Church also supports missions in Pass Christian, Mississippi; Belize; Romania; Russia; South America and Uganda.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes

Peter Toon on Common Cause–Embarking on a hazardous route to a desired holy Destination

What I say may seem critical to some””especially those who want to rejoice without restraint; but, I think that, to the discerning reader, my offering will be seen as truly encouraging, by suggesting important ways to improve what has begun, which like a seed, has the potential to grow and, when growing, to manifest different features, good and bad. I want to encourage firm growth and good fruit. So here we go…

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Common Cause Partnership

Dueling Letters to the Editor in the Birmingham, Alabama, News

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bishops didn’t reject Anglicans’ request

I am writing to call attention to the inaccuracy and distortion of the article “Episcopal bishops reject Anglican demands” (The News, Wednesday) from the New York Times News Service about the meeting of the Episcopal House of Bishops. The bishops did not reject the requests of our Anglican partners. We responded with great care, and the truth is, our response takes significant positive steps for the sake of our interdependence and unity in the Anglican Communion.

The article only quoted people who have a divisive agenda and whose assessment of the House of Bishops meeting is intentionally misleading. No one from The News attempted to call me or my office to ask for our view of the bishops’ work before publishing this front-page article. Not a single bishop present at the meeting is quoted. This is disappointing and biased journalism. It is harmful to the church and to the commonwealth.

The meeting of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church included a spirit of compromise and sacrifice for the good of the Anglican Communion, as well as an affirmation of our church’s commitment under God to love and respect the dignity of every human being. I hope our Anglican friends, and maybe even The News, will recognize this in the months to come.

Henry N. Parsley
Episcopal Bishop of Alabama

October 2, 2007

Bishop’s letter itself inaccurate:

Bishop Henry N. Parsley’s letter (“Bishops didn’t reject Anglicans’ request,” The News, Sept. 28) alleging inaccuracy in The New York Times story is itself inaccurate.

The Anglican primates addressed three major concerns to the leadership of the Episcopal Church. On the first, the bishops said yes, sort of, but on their terms. In doing so, they continued to use expansive language (referring to bishops “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church”), which was not the language they were asked to use (“any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same-gender union”).

The Episcopal bishops in New Orleans then said no to requests two and three, and they also did and said nothing about the lawsuits they were asked to stop. Going even further, however, they then insisted on two things they said were necessary of the rest of the Anglican Communion, which they have so badly damaged.

This was a last-ditch effort to seek to enable healing in a very deep wound. Tragically, the bishops have done nowhere near enough given what was asked and what the stakes were.

The Episcopal lobbying group Integrity, which is seeking to overturn the Episcopal Church’s teaching and practice in the area of legitimizing same-sex practice, titled its response to the New Orleans meeting: “Integrity applauds bishops’ strong stand against primates.” Is it not possible it and The New York Times see truth Parsley does not?

The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall Harmon

Canon theologian

Episcopal Diocese

of South Carolina

Summerville, S.C.

These are the letters as they appeared. My submitted letter had one additional sentence in end of the first paragraph: “The expansive language the bishops chose to maintain was used by some Episcopal leaders recently to vote against South Carolina’s choice for Bishop, Mark Lawrence, a person who upholds the very theological position the Primates were trying to protect.”

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

David Peek: Anglican Unheard

As an interested and concerned observer of the Anglican Communion’s recent goings on, the end result of the recent meeting of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in New Orleans crystallized an opinion I’ve held for quite some time. Regardless of the outcome, schism or no, the conservative, continuing, diehard (pick one) Anglicans (Episcopalians) at the heart of this battle have pretty much themselves to blame. They fought a mighty battle, yes, but for the most part they fought it with their foot in their mouth, one arm tied behind their back and their ears definitely nowhere near the ground.

Since Lambeth in 1998, but more so since 2003 when the world learned that Gene Robinson makes Mrs. Robinson look like a 19th century school marm, I have waited for the other shoe to drop. Well, the thud heard ’round Bourbon Street last week left nothing to the imagination. Ironically, too, this pronouncement came from New Orleans, where, how shall I say, sin is not difficult to find and is also extremely easy to overlook.

My viewpoint in this debate is from the pew, not the pulpit. I have waited patiently the past few years for my marching orders. I knew without being told that the cause was just. I gladly enlisted. Then I waited for word as to where I was going and how I was going to get there. I stood silently by, as good soldiers do, while my colonels and majors got organized. What happened, sad to say, was the generals never showed up.
I heard many voices, for sure; from places like Plano and Dar es Salaam and San Joaquin. Groups were formed and alliances were melded. But no single leader emerged. Not to overdo the military analogy but it’s akin to the captain who chastised the private for saluting him on the battlefield. Even though he’s in charge he doesn’t want to become THE target. As a result, those of us in the ranks has been left standing on the platform, waiting for a troop train that will never come.

Still I waited. Like my ancestors listening to the static-filled airwaves at the height of World War II, many of us huddled in our living rooms, talking to no one but each other. We gathered each Sunday morning for news. But more often than not the pulpit was silent. If, by chance, something was said it was along the lines of “stay the course.”

Occasionally, an out-of-town expert would arise during the Sunday school hour and mumble about this or that. At dinner that same afternoon, I would not be able to intelligently discuss a single thing he or she said. And, of course, the Bishop would drop by once a year. I strained to listen but Bishopspeak is a difficult language for anyone to understand. What is happening to my church, I wanted to know? Is the truth still the truth. Will our biblical standards be upheld? Speaking only for myself, all I ever got back was some vague, obscure and, at times, downright upside down thinking.

Historically, wars are won in the trenches. On the front lines. One foothold at a time. Shoulder to shoulder, with steady hands and thumping hearts. Wars are not won back at headquarters. Battles are planned there, of course, and charts are drawn, But without the foot soldier, in this case the men and the women in the pews, nothing ventured is nothing gained.

The current leaders of The Episcopal Church think, and some have even been heard to say, that those who are unhappy with the current direction of the church are but a fraction of the whole; a scruffy rabble eager for a fight.

They think that because they haven’t been allowed to hear from me, and many more like me. The affected bishops and clergy (our colonels and majors), the ones who attend meetings and draw battle plans, have, for all intents and purposes, excluded us; allowing us no forum other than a vitriolic blog response or an occasional letter like this.

Following a recent pity party, a friend reminded me that The Episcopal Church is based on the European model of doing things. Top down, not bottom up. Indeed the definition of Episcopal means just that. But at such a critical time as this to exclude and, it pains me to say, ignore the voices from the pews is a marketing plan destined for failure.

This past Sunday, the Sunday following the New Orleans meeting, my parish pulpit was once again without voice. To a great many parishioners, to endure this kind of silence is most hurtful.

Esoteric thinking has its place. But when it comes time to pay the church electric bill or put the money in the bank to pay for staff salaries, it’s the folks who sign the pledge cards year in and year out who are counted on the most. The same should apply when the very future of our church home is at stake.

The old saying, “the devil is in the details,” has never been more obvious nor has it ever seemed more ominous.

–Mr David Peek is an Episcopal layman and lives in Sumter, South Carolina

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