Remember that the more specific you can be, the more the rest of us will get from your comments–KSH.
Category : Lambeth 2008
…It is our vocation as Communion Partners to navigate this narrow path between two dangerous extremes as we pursue the mission of the Church “to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”To that end, six Communion Partner bishops (Greg Brewer, Paul Lambert, Ed Little, Dan Martins, Ed Salmon and Michael Smith) made a visit to Archbishop Justin Welby at his residence in Canterbury, England last week.
There we prayed together and discussed a range of issues concerning the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church. Also present was the Archbishop’s Director of Reconciliation, Canon David Porter.
In his most stark comments yet about divisions over issues such as homosexuality, the Most Rev Justin Welby said the Church is coming perilously close to plunging into a “ravine of intolerance”.
He even drew parallels between the crisis afflicting the 77 million-strong network of Anglican churches and the atmosphere during the English Civil War.
And he likened the collective behaviour of the church to a “drunk man” staggering ever closer to edge of a cliff.
New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson says he chafed for several years at being branded the first openly gay bishop of the Anglican Church until he realized that he was wasting a pulpit from which he could advocate for equality.
“I’d been given this really remarkable opportunity and it would be selfish of me not to be the best steward of that opportunity,” he recently told The Associated Press in an interview as he prepares to retire in January. “We went from my consecration, which set off this international controversy, to nine years later seeing gay, lesbian and transgender congregants welcome at all levels of the church, including bishop.”
Robinson’s election in 2003 as the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican church created an international uproar and led conservative Episcopalians to break away from the main church in the United States.
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
I also want to remember the statement of the Primate of Korea, who with two other primates addressed our House of Bishops on the subject of the proposed covenant. He strikingly said that the province he served would reject the proposed covenant, because, in their considered opinion, to accept would be to internalize the colonialism the has inhered in the historical relationship between the Anglican provinces of the West and their province.
My own memory is of having participated in the Lambeth Conference, 2008, a conference where it was made widely clear that we would have a non-legislative meeting ”“ no voting. There were a series of meetings held on the proposed covenant, all of which I attended. The points of view expressed about the fourth part of the proposed covenant, which contains a mechanism whereby errant (in the judgment of some larger part of the Communion) provinces could have their status as full and equal members of the Communion reduced, were strongly negative. In our daily Indaba groups (discussion groups of about 40 bishops each), the proposed covenant was a discussion topic on one day. Though there was no voting, as advertised, amazingly the report that came out from Lambeth regarding the content of the conference said that a majority of participants favored an Anglican covenant. No mention was made of the opinions expressed in the meetings focused on the proposed covenant.
Rowan’s style has been private and unstrategic. Once, questioned about strategy, he responded crossly ”˜I believe in the Holy Spirit!’, seemingly oblivious to the possibility that the Spirit might work through long-term planning. Maybe that’s what we needed then. Certainly nobody doubts that he leads by example in his life of prayer and self-discipline. But we now need consultation, collaboration, and, yes, strategy. Despite routine pessimism, the Church of England isn’t finished. In a sense, it’s just getting going. We need someone with vision and energy to pick up from where Rowan’s charismatic style has led us and to develop and deepen things from there.
A new Archbishop must be allowed to lead. Yes, there are deep divisions. Part of the next Archbishop’s task will be to discern and clarify the difference between the things that really do divide and the things that people believe will do so but which need not. But, at the same time, there are problems of structure and organization that slow things down and soak up energy, problems that can and should be fixed so that the church and its leaders can be released for their mission, and to tackle properly the problems we face.
As Williams began his tenure as archbishop in 2003, though, the ordination of Robinson sent the issue of gay bishops to the head of the agenda. By last summer, with the Lambeth Conference approaching, schism seemed inevitable. Some bishops opposed to homosexual clergy held a rival conference in Jerusalem, denouncing Williams as a liberal pawn. Traditionalists announced plans to “go over” to the Roman Catholic Church or form their own church unless Williams got rid of Robinson. Gay activists circulated an old essay by Williams in which he had eloquently celebrated gay and lesbian relationships; the commentariat mocked him as a holy fool for some approving remarks he had made about Islamic law. Friends of Williams said he might resign. “God has given you all the gifts,” one friend told him, “and as your punishment, he has made you archbishop of Canterbury.”
The schism hasn’t come””not yet. The Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest group of Christians after the Catholics and the Orthodox, is still standing””a “hugely untidy but very lovable” body, in the words of its most famous member, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel laureate. But its unity has been compromised. In December, a half-dozen bishops broke with the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and announced their plans to found a rival Anglican Community for North America.
It is now, with his office under pressure from both left and right, that Rowan Williams’s real work is beginning….
…a sort of evangelistic outreach is planned in conjunction with the rollout of the documentary. Robinson said moviegoers should not expect to see Love Free or Die in many theaters. Instead, the plan is to make a DVD available to individuals and congregations through the film’s website, with an emphasis on group showings for “the movable middle.”
“We are asking that everyone who sees the movie invite a person ”” a family member, a coworker, a former classmate ”” who are among that large group of people who for the most part love us ”” they know us, they think positively about us ”” but they still go in the voting booth and vote against us,” Robinson said. “You know about that here in California.”
Robinson repeatedly referred to an iconic “Aunt Betty” as the film’s target audience. “Make it your project this year to call them up and say, ”˜Aunt Betty, you remember how we had that little altercation at Thanksgiving? Can I get you out for coffee, and let’s talk about that?’” Robinson said. “And then, it looks as if this will be showing on PBS in the fall, and ”¦ we’re working on getting it shown on Thanksgiving weekend. So you’ll be at home with Aunt Betty, and you can have a better conversation this time.”
“It’s through marriage that people should enter into true sexual life. It’s not the process of re-inventing the third person because God did not invent the marriage between two same-sex persons as the cases in homosexuality and lesbianism.” He admonished those practising it to repent and come out of it because it’s evil.
The cleric argued that if God considered that yet another man was what Adam needed as companion and help mate in the Garden of Eden, He would have created another man, not a woman for Adam, stressing that, “He did not do that but rather created a unique person in the form of a woman different from the man.”
He lamented that there is moral decadence pervading the labyrinth of society in so much a way that hitherto despicable acts like lesbianism and homosexuality are gradually being decorated with public appeal and now receiving tolerance and even applause in today’s society.
The end of conciliarism, which accords with the practice of the early church, is to be regarded as tragic. The Anglican tragedy, like its medieval counterpart, may be seen as stemming from the reluctance of the central authority to relinquish or even dilute its control. This reluctance is not necessarily a matter of perversity, however. To be sure, the reluctance of Anglican Communion Office, instanced by their keeping the ACC in line in Jamaica, has seemed motivated by a desire to avoid offending TEC, which provides much of their funding. But from their perspective TEC’s financial support may appear essential for the proper functioning of the Communion. They have seemed concerned also to avoid alienating the liberal wing of the Church of England. But this may be not just out of ideological predisposition. It may also reflect a belief that the CofE could not afford the resulting exacerbation of its divisions.
To Archbishop Rowan himself, with his brilliant mind, deep learning, and winning personality, such considerations may have less application. The explanation in his case may lie more in his espousal of a theology militating against closure on any issue, and thus supportive of the inclinations of the Anglican Communion Office, as of the interests of TEC, by default. Charles Raven, in his 2010 book Shadow Gospel: the Theology of Rowan Williams and the Anglican Communion Crisis, made an impressive case to this effect. As for Rowan’s adherence to such a theology despite all his sophistication, being essentially an academic, without secular or even significant parish experience, perhaps limits his awareness of the outside world.
If, then, there is to be a revival of Anglican conciliarism, it will have to come not from the Instruments in their now compromised state but instead out of churches of the Global South, together with their Western allies. These churches have laid a basis for it already in Gafcon, their conference in Jerusalem in June 2008. There the Spirit was clearly at work, producing conciliarly the extraordinary Jerusalem Declaration. So far, despite the South-to-South Encounter in Singapore in April 2010 and the CAPA meeting in Uganda last August, the Global South leaders have not followed up on it. But by absenting themselves from the Dublin Primates’ Meeting and thereby sealing its irrelevance, they have taken on a responsibility to do so. For the sake of conciliarism and of Anglicanism itself, they need now, in American terms, to step up to the plate.
John Sentamu needs to stay at York and not be sent to Canterbury, an archiepiscopal see of dubious seniority, anyway. He needs to stay at York because of the Lambeth Conference. This is a once-every-10-years get-together of all the archbishops and bishops of the world-wide Anglican Communion and the next such shindig is in 2008.
It will, however, be almost entirely a waste of time and money, a squabble over various matters, particularly homosexuality and, more specifically, bishops with same-sex partners.
It will be an occasion when we shall witness an almighty, ungodly showdown between tradionalists and liberals. And it will probably lead to the final break-up of the Anglican Communion, already seriously fractured over the gay issue.
–Michael Brown, the Yorkshire Post’s Religious Affairs Correspondent, in a column on October 19, 2006
In a joint statement issued after a “Consultation of Bishops in Dialogue” meeting held in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania the church leaders said they had shared testimonies about partnership mission work. Through this a common thread had emerged “our experience of finding ourselves in each other.”
“Across the globe, across the Communion, we actually really need one another,” the bishops’ statement said. “We are stronger in relationship than when we are apart. This, we believe, is a work of engaging in Communion building rather than Communion breaking. In the words of the Toronto Congress of 1963 we are engaged in living in ‘mutual responsibility and interdependence’ (Ephesians 2:13-22)”.
The bishops hailed from Sudan, Botswana, Malawi, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Canada, the United States and England. They met at the end of February as a group of partner pairs and triads and discussed a range of issues including human sexuality, slavery and tackling poverty.
Update: An ENS article appears here also.
Primates from the Global South are contemplating a boycott of the next Primates’ Meeting because the US Presiding Bishop, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, will be present.
The Archbishop of the Indian Ocean, the Most Revd Ian Ernest, has confirmed that he will not attend the meeting, due to take place in Dublin, 25-31 January.
Archbishop Ernest said last week that he had written to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the summer to convey his distress at the election in the United States of the Rt Revd Mary Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, as Bishop of Los Angeles. He had urged Dr Williams to exclude Dr Jefferts Schori from future Primates’ Meetings.
“There were conditions attached in that letter,” he said last week, “and I can confirm I will not attend if those conditions are not fulfilled.”