Daily Archives: April 6, 2015

The Archbishop of York's 2015 Easter Message–will we have a Jesus-centred faith this Easter?

The Easter message, which is the core of the Christian story, must be applicable to humanity in its deepest distress. I was told of a recently bereaved widower who looked out on his garden ablaze with hundreds of daffodils, his eyes full of tears. “How she loved this view each Spring”, he said. Grief at the death of his wife had eclipsed the beauty of the moment. What for others would have been a glorious scene was a painful reminder to him of his loss.

Christians are not excused suffering. Indeed, in many parts of the world right now, Christians are actually at greater risk because of their followership of Jesus Christ. It is in the midst of all this that the virtue of Christian hope, grounded in the Resurrection of Jesus, comes from the contagious conviction that death, grim as it may be, is actually the prelude to something else. A comma, not a full stop, a pause, not the end.

If you take a glance at the New Testament, in the Bible, you will see that it all stems from encountering Jesus of Nazareth alive again from the dead. His followers would have all abandoned his mission of God’s love if he was not Risen from the dead. They would not have endangered their lives to preserve the memory of a dead man who had been condemned for treason! He had invited everyone to trust him from here to eternity. A number did.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, England / UK, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

A (Highly recommended) Tim Keller sermon for Easter–Born into a Living Hope (1 Peter 1)

Without hope, it is all but impossible face life and endure suffering. But hope must be grounded in something real and lasting. True hope enables us to navigate both sorrow and joy. In Jesus Christ, we have a living hope grounded and sustained in an ever-living savior.

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Eschatology, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

James Martin: Celebrating Easter–Why a Watered-Down Resurrection Doesn’t Work

…particularly when we look at the disciples, the watered-down resurrection doesn’t seem credible at all. Remember that the Gospel of John (whose author had little to gain by making the disciples, future leaders of the early church, look bad) notes that the disciples were so frightened that they barricaded themselves behind locked doors after Jesus’s death. They had good reason to be. “If the authorities dealt that way with Jesus, who had so many people supporting him,” they must have thought, “what will they do to us?” Even before the crucifixion Peter shrank in fear from being identified as a follower of Jesus. Imagine how their fear would have intensified after witnessing the Romans’ brutal execution of their master.

With one exception, all of Jesus’s male followers were so terrified that they shrank from standing at the foot of the cross, unable to accompany Jesus during his final hours. Their reluctance may have stemmed from an inability to watch the agonizing death of their friend, but much was out of fear of being identified as a follower of an enemy of Rome. (The women, showed no such fear, though the situation may have posed less danger for them.)

The disciples were terrified. So does it seem credible that something as simple as sitting around and remembering Jesus would snap them out of their abject fear? Not to me. Something incontrovertible, something undeniable, something visible, something tangible, was necessary to transform them from fearful to fearless.

This is one of the most compelling “proofs” of the Resurrection.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Apologetics, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Eschatology, Theology

The only hope we have for making a better world

This is the real meaning of Easter…

No tabloid will ever print the startling news that the mummified body of Jesus of Nazareth has been discovered in old Jerusalem. Christians have no carefully embalmed body enclosed in a glass case to worship. Thank God, we have an empty tomb.

The glorious fact that the empty tomb proclaims to us is that life for us does not stop when death comes. Death is not a wall, but a door. And eternal life which may be ours now, by faith in Christ, is not interrupted when the soul leaves the body, for we live on…and on.

There is no death to those who have entered into fellowship with him who emerged from the tomb. Because the resurrection is true it is the most significant thing in our world today. Bringing the resurrected Christ into our lives, individual and national, is the only hope we have for making a better world.

“Because I live ye shall live also.”

That is the real meaning of Easter.

–Peter Marshall (1902-1949), The First Easter

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter

The Eucatastrophe

The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation ”” This story begins and ends in joy.

— J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Poetry & Literature

An Easter Message from South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence

As a parish priest I remember telling parishioners, on more than one occasion, “When death comes into your home he brings a lot of unwanted relatives with him.” I do not mean relatives or in-laws who may come from out of town for the funeral. The relatives of death to which I refer are grief, fear, loneliness, guilt, shame, anger, depression, even anxiety. Once these come under the roof of your house it is difficult to show them the door. They tend to take up residence, over staying their welcome. Just this morning I read the story of Clint Hill, the secret service agent assigned to Jackie Kennedy during the days some refer to as Camelot. With poignant grief he recalled her words that day almost fifty years ago as the President’s wounded head lay in her lap like a modern Pieta, “They shot his head off. Oh Jack, what have they done?”

I’ve been listening to Dr. Billy Graham’s recent book Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well. He is no stranger to moments of national grief, like the one Clint Hill witnessed so painfully. At age 93 he has seen firsthand more than a little of our country’s sorrow. Yet grief when it is personal strikes even deeper. In recounting the death of his beloved wife and best friend for almost sixty-four years, Ruth Bell Graham, he writes, “Although I rejoice that her struggles with weakness and pain have all come to an end, I still feel as if a part of me has been ripped out, and I miss her far more than I ever could have imagined.” “Death”, he goes on to say, quite accurately, “is always an intruder even when it is expected.” Frankly, if there is no answer to death there is no answer to our most abiding enemy and all those blood relatives he brings with him. This, as you might imagine, brings me to Easter. I am happy to recall it. The apostle affirms, “Our Saviour Jesus Christ has broken the power of death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:10 NEB)

Easter unflinchingly confronts our enemies, death and sin that would lock us in a self-justifying bondage, and plague our lives from start to finish. Christ’s death, however, is God’s No to sin. In the cross God reveals his hatred of sin as Christ dies to destroy it; and shows his love for sinners as he dies to free us of it. In Christ’s resurrection God speaks his Yes to life and human freedom, breaking the power of death. Donald Coggan, a former Archbishop of Canterbury put it well: “You may not like it. You may ignore it. You may deny it. But this is it. Take away the Cross and Resurrection from Christianity and you have a poor lifeless and maimed thing left…” And we must also say a dead religion dreadfully inadequate for our needs. Archbishop Coggan was right. We need to keep the Cross and Resurrection central. They tell us of God’s No, to death, and the fear that is death’s power; No, to sin and its tyranny of our lives; No, to fear that cripples us from living the dance of life freely; No, to the shame we don’t deserve and grace for the shame we do; No, to the loneliness that dogs our steps for the Risen One is with us always. Let me say again. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Great Yes of God. It has left us an empty tomb and an open door. It will in God’s good time and grace sweep our lives clean of death and the unwanted relatives it brings into our homes. Even this Sunday as we say the words, “Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.” the joy of Easter may escort some these out the door. We can then live our lives in Christ, with Christ and for Christ freely, and for his sake for a hurting and broken world.

May the Peace of the Risen Christ be always with you,

–(The Rt Rev.) Mark Lawrence is Bishop of South Carolina

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Eschatology, Theology

Easter Song, 2nd Chapter of Acts

Watch and listen to it all–live from 1987 from the original writers of the song.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Liturgy, Music, Worship

(The State) University of South Carolina Basketball Team Fall one Pt short in Final 4

[Tiffany] Mitchell’s last shot hit the side of the backboard. The buzzer sounded, the glass turned red and it was over. As Welch bent over at midcourt, hands unable to stop her tears, the celebrating Irish ran to their bench. A stunned Mitchell fell to the floor in disbelief.

There was no other chance. No other way to get one more shot, one more try.

No other game.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Education, Sports, Women, Young Adults

(Public Discourse) Charles Chaput et. al: Now Is the Time to Talk About Religious Liberty

In recent days we have heard claims that a belief central to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam””that we are created male and female, and that marriage unites these two basic expressions of humanity in a unique covenant””amounts to a form of bigotry. Such arguments only increase public confusion on a vitally important issue. When basic moral convictions and historic religious wisdom rooted in experience are deemed “discrimination,” our ability to achieve civic harmony, or even to reason clearly, is impossible.

America was founded on the idea that religious liberty matters because religious belief matters in a uniquely life-giving and powerful way. We need to take that birthright seriously, or we become a people alien to our own founding principles. Religious liberty is precisely what allows a pluralistic society to live together in peace.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Holy Week, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

(ABC Aus.) Stanley Hauerwas–What's Love Got to do with It? The Politics of the Cross

The resurrected Christ is the crucified Christ. Only such a Christ, moreover, can save us. For Jesus is the Christ, being for us this particular man making possible a particular way of life that is an alternative to the world’s fear of one like Jesus.

Christians have no fantasy that we may get out of life alive. Instead we have a saviour who was in every way like us, yet also fully God. Jesus is not 50% God and 50% man. He is 100% God and 100% man – he is the incarnation making possible a way to live that constitutes an alternative to all politics that are little less than conspiracies to deny death.

Such a saviour does not promise that by being his follower we will be made safe. Rather, this saviour offers to free us from our self-inflicted fears and anxieties. Jesus does so not by making our lives “more meaningful” – though we may discover our lives have renewed purpose – but by making us members of his body and blood so that we can share in the goods of a community that is an alternative to the world.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ethics / Moral Theology, Holy Week, Politics in General, Soteriology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from E. Milner-White

Make our hearts to burn within us, O Christ, as we walk with thee in the way and listen to thy words; that we may go in the strength of thy presence and thy truth all our journey through, and at its end behold thee, in the glory of the eternal Trinity, God for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty! Thy decrees are very sure; holiness befits thy house, O LORD, for evermore.

–Psalm 93:4-5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon: The Instruments of Unity and the Way Forward [+Transcript]

Listen to it all, carefully from a conference organised in Toronto in 2013 and see also Nigerian bishop to be the Anglican Communion’s next Secretary General.

An Unoffficial Transcript follows:

I will be speaking as Josiah, not as an archbishop or bishop. I will speak in my own capacity as a member and a child of the Anglican Communion. I am saying this because before the last Primates Meeting [Dublin], I wrote an article urging all primates to make the attempt to be there, and someone in England quickly alerted the Church Times editor to say: ”˜Oh, he’s not an archbishop, so don’t take him seriously. Please take me seriously because: I am a child of this Communion; my parents served this Communion until the Lord called them home; and I have been a bishop now for 23 years. So I speak as Josiah.

My topic is ”˜Why the Instruments still matter.’ Bottom line – yes, I believe they still matter, and the Primate of Egypt and the Middle East essentially gone into my farm, he has done some work, but honestly my sisters and brothers we are all very passionate about this Communion, and my own recommendations are going to be even more radical than that of the Archbishop, because he is a Primate, I am not.
Now I want to begin with a personal experience I had as a member of the Lambeth Commission that produced the Windsor 2003 document. Our first series of meetings, one of us was not present, and the second time we reconvened, she was there. And Lord Eames who was our chairman asked her: ”˜being a judge, look go through the job we did while you were away and come back to share with us’. So she spent the whole morning looking at what we had done and she came back and said: ”˜oh you guys are brilliant you have done a good job.’ And we were sort of, you know, preening ourselves, felt we had done a good job, and suddenly you know like a whiplash, she asked: ”˜who are you writing for?’

And there was this frightened silence. We never thought along that line at all. We thought we were speaking for the entire Communion. And so we went on discussing, and eventually we concluded that we were actually writing for 70% of Anglicans. The question you will ask is what about the remaining 30%? We discovered that, on the left we have 15 % who will not care about what we were discussing and on the right another 15%. And we discovered that the 15% on the left are what I, Josiah, would call Extreme Conservatives, and on the right we have Extreme Liberals.

Brothers and sisters let us not deceive ourselves, within this Communion we have conservatives and liberals. We have Extreme, and I use that word Extreme as a student of Islam, because we no longer use Fundamentalism for Muslims who are terribly radical, we call them Extreme Muslims. And that is the way I want us to understand this concept because we have to agree, otherwise there will be no communication.

So when you hear me say Extreme Liberals and Extreme Conservatives, I am talking about those who are really radical and they are not interested in being together. I have a petition for you towards the end of this from Lord Ramsey, what he has to say – sorry, Professor Seitz, what he has to say – about these two extreme groups. Brothers and Sisters, I believe as Anglicans and Episcopalians, that in spite of the serious problems we face today, 70% of us want us to be together. We want to stay in and checkmate each other.

I am unashamedly an evangelical, charismatic Pentecostal evangelical, and I don’t hide that. However, I believe there are liberals who are genuinely Anglicans and I have come to realise that if we want to stay as a family, we have got to checkmate each other. So 70% and I believe a majority of us here this afternoon are either evangelicals or liberals, and we want to stay in. So I am assuming I am addressing people, Anglicans, who actually are committed to our Communion and they want to be together. Unfortunately what I perceive as happening today, is that the 15% Extreme Evangelicals want to impose their ecclesiology and theology on the 70% and the 15% Extreme Liberals want to do the same. That is my understanding as a sociologist of what is happening today in this Communion.

Lord Carey reminds us and I quote: ”˜that the Anglican Instruments of Unity have a reason primarily out of conflict and a desire to be true to our ecumenical goals’. Lord Ramsey reminds us that our main goal is to unite the church of Christ, as Anglicans. To unite the church of Christ, certainly we have not achieved this goal and therefore I believe the Instruments, useful as they may be, need to be re-evaluated in the light of the problems we face today.

I owe what I share with you to Professor Radner in a paper he gave in 2010, Lord Carey himself and Canon [Colin] Cranston who wrote a beautiful article on the ACC, so most of what I will be sharing with us comes from these sources and other books I refer to.

Our problem has to do with Authority. The Anglicans are scared of the word authority. And Lord Ramsey on page 3 of his book ”˜The Anglican Spirit,’ he said: ”˜The difference between Christianity that can make do without the papacy, is already a Christianity in which changes of belief and sentiment are taking place.’

This statement is the reason, as I understand it, for the Instruments of the Anglican Communion, so the assignment for us is to justify why these Instruments still matter today. I am hoping that in spite of the damage already done to this communion, together at this conference and after, we shall make every effort in the words of Lord Carey ”˜to find positive ways of healing our wounded Communion’ today.

There are four of these Instruments and the Primate of Egypt and the Middle East has referred to them; quickly ”“ the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting.

Let me take on the Archbishop of Canterbury ”“ not in person, don’t tell me that, the office as an instrument. In the words of Lord Ramsey, and I quote:

”˜The Anglican Communion has always looked and enjoyed the closest of links with Rome and varieties of Protestant Churches. Anglicans have insisted on certain things – not a particular ideology, but simply what we believe to be basic Catholic facts and principles, which are: the Scriptures, the sacraments of salvation [baptism and eucharist], the creeds, and the apostolic ministry embodied in the historic episcopate. Given those basic facts and principles, Anglicans seem ready to be in communion with other Christians and create united churches with them.’

The Archbishop of Canterbury represents the Communion in these ecumenical contexts and roles. The Archbishop of Canterbury is described as our symbol of unity. This office should and I believe will remain, but why should it remain? Listen again to Lord Ramsey, he said ”˜[the very term]..Anglicanism is one produced by the situation of sad disunity, and the disappearance of Christian disunity might well mean the disappearance of the word “Anglicanism. Until that happens we believe that God has given us real work to do [as Anglicans], and “Anglicanism” describes that work”

The Archbishop of Canterbury represents this movement. This Instrument therefore is an essential, at least until the entire church becomes one.

In the Archbishop of Canterbury’s matter, in the ongoing mission of Anglicanism, how do we make it relevant? How do we make it an essential Instrument of Unity?

1. According to Professor Radner, he gives us some of the things the Archbishop of Canterbury does and Lord Carey himself. One – we are told, the ABC has direct power to invite or withhold invitation to the Lambeth Conference. However, to the last conference, the same African Primates who would desire Rulership disobeyed the Archbishop of Canterbury.

2. The Archbishop of Canterbury in a real sense has a personal ministry of recognising whom he is in communion with, even though the ACC deals with the legislative processes.

3. The ABC by his office has the goal and the vision for the Communion in the words of Lord Carey, and I quote: ”˜The Communion may be to quote the familiar mantra of the Communion, episcopally led and synodically governed but this leadership can only be conducted with the agreement of the Communion and its Instruments’

4. In certain final cases only an Archbishop of Canterbury can intervene internationally, and Lord Carey here is speaking about the situation in Rwanda when we had the genocide.

And finally, as the office is presently, the Archbishop of Canterbury, yes he is only primus-inter-pares, he is President of the Anglican Communion; that means he presides over each of the Instruments of Unity.

What are my proposals? If we are going to retain this Instrument of Unity:

1. In addition to the ratification of a new constitution, and chairing the ACC in the light of the threat by some groups to create their own church within the Communion, I would propose that in tenor with the Gospel principle of persuasion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, needs to consult a bit more regularly with the Primates and some senior bishops and archbishops within the Communion on an annual basis. That is not happening now.

2. It would be helpful for the Archbishop of Canterbury to appoint, in consultation with Primates and senior bishops and archbishops from some provinces liaison officers who will keep the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury well informed of situations from their parts of the Communion. It is not happening now.

So, all our former Archbishops of Canterbury including the present one have always resisted a patriarchal or papal role within the Communion’s affairs. The truth is they have a very real influence, which no other Primate or archbishop has. They can steer, they can push, and lead, but they cannot rule.

I speak now as an African Anglican Christian, but educated in the West. This last quotation, i.e. the Archbishop of Canterbury can steer, he can lead, but he cannot rule I find it problematic as an African. To put it mildly, African bishops and Archbishops find this concept of “can’t rule” difficult. This from my limited experience is at the root of a significant number within the Conservative 15% from Africa who think the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury is ineffective, and so they will want to take over the entire Communion. They believe he is too weak, and I am happy the Primate of Egypt and the Middle East has alluded to that. African Primates, bishops, archbishops, they believe that the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury is too weak.

The ecclesiology and theology of most African Anglicans are built around autocracy. To a number though, few but loud, African archbishops, bishops and Primates, the Archbishop of Canterbury should rule, not only steer, push or lead. Thus in this Instrument, lies what I am afraid could be described as a clash of cultures, and I think this group, because we are committed to keeping this Communion together, we need to take that very seriously. There is a clash of cultures. I will develop that as we go on.

Now I move very quickly to the Lambeth Conference.

Let us be reminded that this Instrument came into being as a result of the Colenso crisis of 1867. Since 1998, this Instrument has come under severe criticism, because it does not represent clergy and laity. May I remind us what the Correspondence Secretary in the person of Bishop Selwyn of the Anglican Communion said to the General Convention of the PECUSA at Baltimore in 1871. Please listen, I quote you. He was preaching at the Convention and he said: ”˜There should be “no servile uniformity” in the church, but if there be but a recognised authority, which all are willing to obey, the whole of our church is interested in obtaining this happy combination of elastic freedom with efficient control”

I believe that here we have a sketched out essence of the Anglican ideal of authority.

The invitation to the Lambeth Conference of 1897 was sent out by Archbishop Benson before his death in 1896 – Archbishop Temple who succeeded him kept faith with the invitation Archbishop Benson wanted Lambeth Conference wanted to take. So Archbishop Benson wanted Lambeth Conference to take decisions on the organisation of the Anglican Communion. What I want to share with us now, will help us to make suggestions to our Primates, to the archbishops on why this Instrument of Unity still matters.

I say again, he made proposals for committees to work on the following, and I want us to listen:

1. a central consultative body;
2. a tribunal of reference; and
the positions and functions of the Lambeth Conference.

American bishops became suspicious and were vehemently opposed to any attempt to establish any authoritative relation to the See of Canterbury in America. I want you to think as far back as that time. So what is happening now is not new.

The committee on the organisation of the Anglican Communion recommended the establishment of a tribunal of reference to which might be referred questions submitted by the bishops of the Church of England and colonial and missionary churches. Again the Americans were opposed to this. As far as they were concerned the purpose of Lambeth Conference should continue to be for talk and consultation, and not for decisions or to exercise authority on behalf of the Communion. This is as far back as 1867.

My observation ”“ looking back, that was the initial intention of what this Instrument was set up to achieve, though it was the Colenso Affair that forced the first Lambeth Conference to hold. By the 2008 Lambeth Conference, we had weathered the storm for over 100 years and as said by Professor Radner, the last Lambeth Conference, which the Primates also mentioned that, did not give an impression to the world of a united family called the Anglican Communion. There is no doubt that this Instrument of Unity has played some important roles in our life together as a family.

However, in the light of the discordant voices within it today and for the Instrument to continue to matter in our communal life together, there is a need to give it some new lease of life.

What are my proposals?

I believe we have to ask ourselves: should the Lambeth Conference continue to be for talk and consultation and not for decision, or exercise authority on behalf of the whole Communion? We need to go back and ask questions and challenge our American brothers and sisters.

At the Lambeth Conference of 2008, decisions were not even allowed. It is my humble submission that that decision was very unfortunate. I believe it was an opportunity to look at the proposed Covenant and actually make recommendations from the Covenant, if even as the Primate has just shown to us the fourth section is terribly problematic.

My submission is that this Instrument, that is the Lambeth Conference still matters, and therefore it is my proposal that we urgently set up a commission to have a second look at the intentions of Archbishop Benson who sent the invitation to the 1897 Lambeth and see how we can adapt some of his ideas to the 21st Century.

I now move to the Anglican Consultative Council.

I take the fact that we all know why it was set up, you can read the Lambeth Conference of 1968. That was when it was set up – everything is there. And the question is: does this Instrument still matter in the Communion today? Again speaking as an African Anglican bishop and having sounded the opinions of Africans, Asians and Arab colleagues, it is my opinion that for this Instrument to carry the church furthest along in its ecumenical responsibilities in promoting the unity, renewal and mission of Christ’s church, two changes need to be given an urgent consideration:

1. I believe and I submit that the Council needs to be headed by an experienced clergy in Episcopal status. Going back to 1867 when Bishop Selwyn was appointed Correspondence Secretary of the Anglican Communion, the fact that he was a bishop made relationship much easier. He related to other bishops as colleagues and they were able to discuss as church fathers. For a General Secretary to write letters of instruction and send to a diocesan bishop tastes sour.

2. The ACC needs to come directly under the oversight of the Archbishop of Canterbury. He already chairs the meetings. The General Secretary should be responsible to the ABC, and not to present himself or herself as the executive running the entire Communion, that’s how we see it now. This will create a better rapprochement between the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates Meeting and the planning of the subsequent Lambeth Conferences. This Instrument is a very important one and I am hoping that some of the suggestions I have made and the ones that will come from the group here will be passed on to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates for implementation.

Finally the Primates Meeting

”“ this the youngest of the Instruments, first met in 1979 and in recent years it did take the lead in trying to stop the crisis that has almost succeeded now in tearing the Communion apart. Professor Radner has given us a list of the achievements of this group. However, in the words of Lord Carey, and I quote: ”˜the one Instrument of Unity that seems to have been emerging into a position of strength in recent decades is vigorously resisted by the ACC which feels threatened by it, while certain provinces, notably in North America, desiring total autonomy theologically from Communion while at the same time imposing total autocracy within their boundaries.’ ”“ that’s Lord Carey, not Josiah.

Because we are Anglicans, or Episcopalians, we need not be hesitant or embarrassed about empowering our Primates in the church to have real and special authority at the communal levels. It is for this reason that I would strongly support this Instrument of Unity with the following recommendations:

1. That each Primate, coming to the Primates Meeting attend in the company of two other senior bishops who specialise in some specific area relevant to whatever is to be discussed. I propose this – I propose two representatives so as to have both the liberal and conservative opinions expressed during the discussions. I think it is about time Anglicans, we stopped running away from the fact that we are two groups within this Communion, the liberals and the conservatives, and if a Primate attends the Primates Meeting with a bishop representing each of these political parties ”“ you know they will struggle there, they will argue, and the agreement ”“ I mean, they don’t have to agree, but there will be opportunity for understanding. That is why I am proposing that.

2. That recommendations from Primates Meetings should be taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the ACC for input from the other two segments that make up the Communion. This reconstituted ACC, as recommended above, will therefore act as a clearing house.

In my recommendations for the ACC, what I have proposed again is that being headed by a bishop, we have the house of laity, we have the house of clergy. It means it is like a synod, and decisions taken there, could be taken to the Primates at their meeting, they will look at it with all the theological advisors and they will be able to, sort of, streamline it, and if the Primates agree, having had it from the ACC it means implementation at the provincial level would be a bit easier.

It is therefore my submission for your consideration, that this enlarged Primates Meeting should be able to recommend decisions to the entire Communion for implementation at each provincial level.

In conclusion, we have two political parties, and we must begin to encourage debates. We don’t have debates, and I am now speaking as an African. In Africa we don’t have enough debates.

The sort of unity we have in Africa is what Bishop Selwyn calls servile unity ”“ you don’t ask ”“ you don’t ask questions ”“ you don’t query. Actually among the Yoruba people, when they address the bishop, they address him as someone you don’t question. It is totally unChrist-like. It’s unbiblical and dare I say here, it is actually un-Islamic, because it is not according to the tenor of the Koran and the Hadith. So we must encourage debate. I do share the position of bishop Seitz, that within us, we operate as if we are two enemies; the conservatives the evangelicals and we are not willing to accommodate each other. If this Communion is a gift to us ”“ I will believe it is a gift ”“ if this Communion has a mission, which is to unite the church, we must learn to accommodate one another. The Conservatives have been very arrogant, the Liberals have been very despotic, and I believe we both need to ask the Lord for forgiveness. I do not share the opinion of some people who say the Instruments have no use ”“ no I don’t believe that.

I end by sharing with you my experience as a boy in the military school in the 60’s. Each time we were going out for map-reading, the captain who was in charge would always say to us: ”˜boys, if you don’t know where you’re going, where you’re heading, at least you remember where you are coming from. My sisters and brothers, we do not want the Extreme Liberals and Extreme Conservatives to lead us to where we do not want to go, but we know where we are coming from. Let’s get to work and make Archbishop Benson’s dream come true. Thank you.
For more current related background and events see:
Nigerian bishop to be the Anglican Communion’s next Secretary General
Anglican Unscripted 171: The End of the ACC?
The GAFCON Chairman’s Easter Pastoral Letter
Andrew Symes: Sexuality is irrelevant to Christian witness, says Archbishop
Bishop Mouneer Anis’s talk at the same conference

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

The GAFCON Chairman's Easter Pastoral Letter

Two of the greatest challenges to world Christianity, and therefore to GAFCON as a global and confessing movement, are Islamic radicalism and the re-evangelisation of the West. At the heart of our response to both must be faithful and costly witness to the gospel by people who are deeply convinced that, in season or out of season, their work will not be useless or wasted because it is done for Christ and in the hope of the resurrection. Such hope leads to a determination to be ”˜abounding in the work of the Lord’, to excel in the cause of the gospel, and let me share with you two recent examples of how GAFCON is inspiring bold initiatives for gospel witness.

Firstly, last week it was my privilege as Chairman of GAFCON to share in the launch of the Australian branch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. I believe this is a new beginning for united gospel witness across the continent, sharing the same determination and passion for the gospel as that of the pioneering Anglican chaplain and missionary, Richard Johnson, who led the first recorded act of Christian worship on Australian soil on Sunday 3rd February 1788. It was also a great privilege to meet delegates from New Zealand and they are deeply concerned that their Church may formally accept rites for the blessing of same sex unions next year.

Secondly, GAFCON is also facilitating reciprocal international mission to fulfil the Great Commission of the Risen Christ. I am hearing very positive reports about the team from All Saints’ Cathedral here in Nairobi who ministered at ”˜Send 2015’, a campus mission in Chicago held a few weeks ago by church planters of the Anglican Church in North America. I hope we shall have many more initiatives like this. We need an outward looking unity in diversity that serves the truth of the gospel, not the inward looking unity in diversity of projects like ”˜Continuing Indaba’ that open the doors of the Church to a false gospel.

The GAFCON Primates Council will soon meet in London, from the 13th to the 17th April, and we shall take counsel together so that our movement can grow strongly and be equipped to fulfil the vision of restoring the Anglican Communion’s commitment to biblical truth. It will also give us a special opportunity to meet with leaders of the British and Irish branch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and the Anglican Mission in England. Please uphold us in prayer during this time.

Finally, please also be in prayer for the people of Nigeria, including some twenty million Anglicans, under a new President after the recent elections. May they know peace, security and stability and may the work of the gospel speed forward in that great nation.

So let us resolve to set all our hopes on the Risen Christ and give ourselves fully to the service of the one who makes all things new.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council

Read it all and see also Archbishop Wabukala’s Good Friday Statement following the Garissa attacks here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, GAFCON II 2013, Global South Churches & Primates

A Prayer for Easter Sunday Evening

Lord Jesus, risen from the dead and alive for evermore: Stand in our midst tonight as in the upper room; show us thy hands and thy side; speak thy peace to our hearts and minds; and send us forth into the world as thy witnesses; for the glory of thy name.

–The Rev. John R. W. Stott

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

Archbishop Justin Welby's 2015 Easter sermon

In every town and village in this country, in almost every country round the world churches stand as mute confession of the resurrection. They stand, but like the stone at the tomb they cannot speak. Only witnesses can speak, and in God’s values no witness more or less important than any other. Mary Magdalene became a witness of what she had experienced: “I have seen the Lord”.

Cathedrals and churches make great statements, but without words. Witnesses are those people who know Christ; lay or ordained, old or young, gender, politics, sexuality or whatever irrelevant – all are equally witnesses. The resurrection happened, and it changes our view of the universe. Once we have seen the reality of the risen Jesus nothing else should be seen in the same way as before.

To witness is to be a martyr. I am told by the Coptic Bishop in England that the Coptic Christians murdered in Libya last month died proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord. They are martyrs, a word that means both one that dies for their faith and one that witnesses to faith. There have been so many martyrs in the last year. On Maundy Thursday, three days ago around 150 Kenyans were killed because of being Christian. They are witnesses, unwilling, unjustly, wickedly, and they are martyrs in both senses of the word.

Christians must resist without violence the persecution they suffer and support persecuted communities, with love and goodness and generosity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, England / UK, Eschatology, Kenya, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence