Statement by the Central American and Communion Partner Bishops

…We are mindful that the decisions of the 78th General Convention do not take place in isolation. The Episcopal Church is part of a larger whole, the Anglican Communion. We remain committed to that Communion and to the historic See of Canterbury, and we will continue to honor the three moratoria requested in the Windsor Report and affirmed by the Instruments of Communion.

We invite bishops and any Episcopalians who share these commitments to join us in this statement, and to affirm with us our love for our Lord Jesus Christ, our commitment to The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion, and our dissent from these actions.

Read it all [pdf]


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

14 comments on “Statement by the Central American and Communion Partner Bishops

  1. Karen B. says:

    I’m glad for this statement and for the bishops who signed it. They are in my prayers.

    I’ve been commenting quite extensively over at SF the past 48 hours on the matter of the incredibly rapid decline in the number of bishops willing to stand for orthodoxy in TEC. It’s not a surprise, but it’s breathtaking in its speed. See comment thread here:

    For thsoe who don’t read Stand Firm, here is a summary of a number of points I’ve made in a series of comments. [i](Note in every case below when I say “Diocesan bishops,” I mean US domestic and Province IX diocesan bishops, unless clearly I’ve specified “US domestic bishops”)[/i]

    [u][b]In 2003[/b][/u]
    43 US & Province IX Diocesan bishops voted against Gene Robinson’s consecration
    48 Diocesan bishops voted FOR a resolution upholding core doctrine and the authority of Scripture (Resolution B001)

    [u][b]In 2005-2006[/b][/u]
    about 27 Diocesan bishops (24 from the US, 3 from Province IX) pledged to support the Windsor report process and moratoria, respecting the wider Anglican Communion. (there were a couple of different lists & statements, making it hard to get a precise number / definition of “Windsor” bishops]

    [u][b]In 2009[/b][/u]
    – 29 Diocesan bishops voted AGAINST consent for Kevin Thew Forrester
    – 34 Diocesans voted Against D025 (which renounced the Windsor criteria & removed restraint on ordination of additional homosexual bishops)
    – 23 Diocesans voted AGAINST C056 mandating the development of liturgies for same-sex blessings
    – 27 Diocesan bishops signed the “Anaheim Statement” (23 Domestic bishops / 4 overseas Province IX bishops)
    (Here’s the statement to refresh everyone’s memory

    [u][b]In 2012[/b][/u]
    30 diocesan bishops voted AGAINST Resolution A049 regarding making SSB liturgies available

    [u][b]In 2015[/b][/u]
    ONLY 19 Diocesans (20 if you count +Lambert of Dallas acting as Bishop pro-tem of Dallas) voted AGAINST resolution A036 formalizing the redefinition of marrage through the change in the marriage canon. [There was not a roll call vote on the other marriage resolution A054]

    It is interesting to note that several of the bishops who voted against A036 voted FOR A054 (including +Lillibridge of West Texas, per his audio statement here: )

    Here’s my comment about Bp. Lillibridge’s statement at SF:
    [blockquote]Bp. Lillibridge voted YES for A054 (trial use liturgies) – the vote for which there was not a roll call. He voted NO against the A036 resolution (canonical change) because he felt it was wrong to change the canons “until trial use liturgies have actually been tried,” that it creates constitutional disorder.

    So… his NO vote is not really a strong stand for the Biblical definition of marriage, but more a protest against canonical disorder. Sigh. [/blockquote]

    The same rationale (voting against “constitutional disorder”) also probably explains the otherwise surprising NO vote by the Bp. of Wyoming.

    +Lillibridge has not (so far) signed the Salt Lake statement of dissent, and in fact, the news that he voted FOR Resolution A054 authorizing the same sex marriage liturgies pretty much torpedoes any chance of him ever again being called a Communion / Windsor bishop.

    Only 14 of the 20 Diocesan bishops (counting Dallas pro tem) who voted against Resolution A036 have so far signed this statement of dissent. [In fact, I don’t expect any additional bishops to sign.] 7 US bishops and 7 Province IX bishops.

    [b]As we can see, out of 24 US bishops who pledged to support the Windsor process / Windsor Criteria in 2005 – 2006, only 7 US bishops/dioceses remain who are still upholding that pledge, a 71% decline in 10 years.[/b] STUNNING how quickly the orthodox ranks have been depleted. Granted 5 of the bishops/dioceses committed to the Windsor process have left TEC. But that leaves another 12 bishops / dioceses who have just quietly faded away and chosen adherence to the new cultural orthodoxy of LBGTwhatever over adherence to Scripture and 2000 years of Christian teaching and commitment to the broader Anglican Communion.

  2. CSeitz-ACI says:

    I wish we would get some sense of how they are intending to accommodate the ‘make provision’ demand of GC.

    People are saying different, and contradictory, things.

    Go to a neighboring diocese? Doyle Plan? Bring in an officiant from outside?

    And what about LBGT couples seeking full inclusion in their churches, seeking ordination, etc?

  3. Karen B. says:

    In re-reading my comment, I realize I probably sound quite dismissive of some of the bishops who voted against A036 but did not (yet) sign the Salt Lake Statement.

    They are:
    Gunter, Fond Du Lac
    Howard, Florida
    Konieczny, Oklahoma
    Lillibridge, West Texas
    McConnell, Pittsburgh (“rump” TEC diocese)
    Smylie, Wyoming

    My “dismissal” of these bishops as not seriously upholding marriage is not meant to be snarky, but I’m not hopeful that any of them will show leadership in standing for Christian orthodoxy and marriage. Here’s why.

    Of these bishops / dioceses, Fond du Lac & West Texas have the most consistent orthodox voting records (including prior diocesan bishops). +Gunter of Fond du Lac is quite new (consecrated in 2014) and was not a bishop when the Windsor moratoria were adopted. I don’t expect him to sign this statement. He could surprise me, however, as he has shown some signs of leadership and orthodox commitment at this General Convention in ways that I did not expect. But Fond du Lac is a small, struggling diocese, and I expect he has to focus all his energy on the diocese, not on Communion matters.

    +Lillibridge, as explained above, voted YES on the other marriage resolution A054 authorizing several SSB / SSM liturgies and mandating that every diocese provide access to what had, up until now, been optional “trial use SSB liturgies,” so it’s very hard to expect that he will continue as a “Communion Bishop” or further support the Windsor moratoria.

    None of the other US diocesan bishops who voted NO on Resoution A036 have shown much consistency in taking a stand for orthodoxy.

    I appreciate the NO votes of each of these bishops, but it is not clear to me that they voted NO because of a commitment to Biblical authority, rather I think some were focused on avoiding any potential conflict between the revised Canon on marriage and the BCP.

  4. Karen B. says:

    Well, surprise, surprise, surprise…! While I’ve been commenting here, the signatory total has gone up from 18 to 20.
    One added signature is Retired Bp. MacPherson of Western Louisiana, one of the original Windsor bishops, so his signature is no surprise.

    However, the BIG surprise is another US Diocesan bishop, +John Howard of Florida has signed. His votes over the years on marriage issues *have* been fairly orthodox. However, he took a very hard line stand against conservative clergy & parishes in his diocese – any who showed support for the Anglican Communion Network (predecessor to ACNA). So, it’s a bit hard to understand his position siding with the Communion bishops.

  5. Karen B. says:

    Updated list with 20 signatories HERE:
    I’m sure Anglican Ink will have the updated list as well, I just don’t have that link handy.

  6. tjmcmahon says:

    I find the statement very mild. They state an objection, imply that they will not personally participate in gay marriages, that they support the tradition view of marriage as expressed in the 1979 BCP (which is already not really so traditional as the 1928 or older texts).
    The statement does NOT say they will not comply, will not allow their clergy to perform gay marriages, or deny the use of their parishes for such ceremonies. Better than nothing, but hardly a statement of refusal to participate in the ongoing blasphemy and heresy of present day TEC.
    They have no way out- either they allow gay marriage in their dioceses, or else pay whatever the cost for each and every gay couple to travel to some other diocese (and I am not sure even that is an option- I think 815 will read the rule that the “wedding” MUST take place in the couple’s home parish if they so desire). You can anticipate test cases to pop up in Central Florida and Dallas any day now.
    Resistance is futile, you will be conciliated.
    I would give a recommendation to the few remaining conservatives in TEC, but I doubt it would pass muster with the elves.

  7. The Rev. Father Brian Vander Wel says:

    #6 I ask you to consider that most of us who sharply disagree with the decision of General Convention to change the marriage canons and yet who remain in TEC are not necessarily expecting change in TEC in this lifetime. Many of us, including me, expect resistance, false accusations, draconian-measured persecution, perhaps even expulsion. But, I’m sure you would agree that there is a big difference between witnessing to the truth in the midst of deeply blasphemous actions and subsequently being thrown out for your witness (what happened in SC, I would argue), and voting with your feet now by leaving the Episcopal Church of your own accord (as happened in Pittsburgh, I would say). One says, “I will stand in front of you and tell you that you — and those who listen to you — are in grave danger for false teaching. Now what will you do about it?” while the other says, “I’m not going to live subject to this false teaching any more and get out of here!”

    I do not think that one is better or worse than another. I do not think that one is more “biblical” or Christian than another. I’m simply suggesting that for some who have chosen to remain in TEC with this posture, it appears to many who have walked away to be a confusing or perhaps even disobedient decision.

    I can only speak for myself. I do not speak for anyone else, even for the parish I serve. But it appears for the time being that God has called me to continue to bear witness against the wickedness now enshrined in canon law and to trust the outcome and influence of that witness to him. And I’m grateful that there are still some bishops — dwindling as they are — who will write in a measured, clear fashion, the truth I know I am called to teach and obey.

    I don’t mean in anyway to sound belligerent, but simply to lay out one possible case for staying in a profoundly broken and disobedient branch of the Body of Christ: I do it because I’m called. Not everyone is called in this way. And, you know, I’m so grateful that it really is for Jesus to decide the meaning of our lives.

  8. Karen B. says:

    Brian, thank you for staying and for your faithful witness in such a hard place. I’m one who left, partly because my home church in VA left, but also because of my ministry circumstances overseas. Remaining in TEC could have been very damaging to my witness here…

    But I applaud those who remain as a faithful remnant and witnesses within TEC. It is only getting harder as the numbers get so small.

    As I read your words, I was reminded of the Book of Acts. Several years ago when trying to counsel persecuted believers here how to respond to threats & danger (stay or flee) I did an intensive study of Acts. There is no one response to situations of danger & persecution. Sometimes apostles were led to flee (escaping in baskets in the middle of the night… Acts 9), other times they were called to stay and given promises of God’s presence (Acts 18), or they were warned of persecution & suffering ahead and yet boldly headed toward it. (Paul going to Jerusalem in spite of prophetic warnings – Acts 20).

    I think of the exhortation in Jude to contend for the faith, and also these verses: (vv 20 – 23)
    [i]But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. (Jude 1:20-23 ESV)[/i]

    May God grant you grace to obey these words.

    Before closing let me also share a wonderful blog entry I came across tonight by the deputation from the Dioces of Albany. An incredible testimony of what it means to take comfort from the Scripture and find the courage to press on as a despised remnant.

    [b]MUST READING.[/b]

  9. Karen B. says:

    By the way, you can see the list of clergy & lay signatories to this statement here:

    You can SIGN the statement here:

  10. The Rev. Father Brian Vander Wel says:

    Karen, thank you for your words and for these links. Good words in a hard moment.

    It is interesting you bring up Acts. We studied Acts in our weekly Bible study this past year. I was similarly struck by things you point out. I was also struck by the juxtaposition of peace and harmony within the early church (at points) which were often followed by persecution and opposition. It seems that, just as peace with God was won through crucifixion, it would seem that a similar pattern is at work for Christians: ground won for the Kingdom of God is done so through violent oppression.

    And so we witness. We trust. We obey. We exult in a God who wins through the cross and an empty tomb. And we wait.

    Most all of my friends who were in TEC have left for ACNA, Rome or Orthodoxy. But that reality has not changed the unity which Jesus establishes between us. God bless you and thank you, again, for your kind words and prayers.

  11. Karen B. says:

    A deputy from Honduras requested a point of personal privilege to read the Bishops’ statement of dissent in the House of Deputies. She was only able to read 5 sentences before she was cut off by the chair as being out of time….

    Over at SF, one commenter speculated that the time is now ripe for the Central American dioceses of TEC to become their own Province. In the past one might imagine that financial considerations might prevent that. But given the major TEC budget constraints these days, perhaps there is less financial incentive for these Central American dioceses to remain in TEC.

  12. Ralph says:

    A much stronger statement than that issued by the GS bishops.

  13. tjmcmahon says:

    Fr. Vander Wel,

    I do respect those who stay in TEC to bear a witness. But I would make the case that the situation of a layman in one of the 5500 openly revisionist parishes in one of the 90 openly revisionist dioceses is different than that of a priest. When the bishop rejects the Nicene Creed, or the local priest (or bishop) invites all and sundry to “eucharist!!” (which has seemingly become some sort of transitive verb), where God the Father is now a rock, a mother, or a gender neutral non-parental ethereal entity, it becomes difficult to understand in what way one is part of the Church. I am a layman. I left TEC upon receiving the news of the deposition of EVERY single Anglo Catholic priest canonically resident in Quincy (many of whom lived in other jurisdictions), including retired clergy in their 80s, along with Bishop Ackerman (at that time also retired). TEC gave me a choice of staying in communion with TEC, or with the men who had baptized my siblings and said the funeral masses for my parents. I lived a goodly distance from Quincy, but there was little question about where to look for guidance and spiritual enrichment. The closest “orthodox” TEC parish to my present home, (not orthodox from my point of view as a traditional Anglo Catholic, but at least one where the BCP was used more or less verbatim, and the preaching wasn’t openly heretical) was 5 hours away.
    How are parents to deal with having their children baptized when the local parish has an entirely different definition of what the sacrament means? How do you take your children to be confirmed by a “bishop” who openly preaches a gospel not that of Jesus, crucified and risen? Is your priest actually a priest at all? Those are the questions faced by the vast majority of the remaining orthodox laity in TEC.
    I do indeed pray for all of those who are standing firm, who are beacons of light in very dark places, who defend their little stone bridges. Please know that you have my respect and admiration for what you are trying to do. I do think I know where you are. I hope you have a DEPO arrangement of some sort so that your congregation is ministered to by an actual bishop, and not the local pretenders to the title, who have abandoned the communion of the Church.
    Yes, I know I am harsh and judgmental. I am not “nice.” But I was just a simple layman trying to go to church. I did not expect to be dragged into a spiritual war, did not expect to be called names by TEC bishops, or damned by TEC priests, or to get threatening emails, just because, as one diocesan official put it, ” your theology hasn’t evolved from what you believed in 1965″ (no, seriously, that is what she said, and yes, I was then rude enough to point out that “God is the same God I worshiped in 1965”). It was bad enough that I took to the nom de plume “tjmcmahon” very early on.
    So, Father, go in peace to love and serve the Lord. I will do the best I can to do the same.

  14. The Rev. Father Brian Vander Wel says:


    Thank you for this. I appreciate your honesty, candor and self-revelations. And your post makes my point exactly: we have to do what is in our reach with what God has given us. We have to seek faithfulness and obedience in the places and circumstances in which we find ourselves.

    I was ordained by Bishop Duncan in Pittsburgh in 1999 and if I had been in Pittsburgh when the diocese left, I likely would have gone with them. I can’t say I would have for sure, but it is highly likely. But I am not in Pittsburgh. I am 43rd Rector of Christ Church in Accokeek, the one sued by Jane Dixon in 2000 over their choice of Father Sam Edwards as Rector. But by God’s grace and, frankly, by the generosity of both Bishop Chane and Bishop Budde, we have Supplemental Episcopal Oversight, (not DEPO, thank God), from Bishop Salmon. This episcopal oversight is based on the hard work that comes with real relationship and trust.

    I do feel for you and the countless laymen and women like you who have felt forced to leave TEC because there is simply no option. Worship and Christian community is always best local. I’m also sorry for how you were treated and how the many faithful clergy of Quincy (Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, etc.) were treated. I do pray that God give you the grace to forgive such disobedient actions.

    May God richly bless you today.