Thinking Anglicans

Paul Marshall writes

Updated again Wednesday evening

Update Tuesday The Episcopal Majority has now also published this article, with some explanation:

This letter was written by the Right Reverend Paul Marshall (Bishop of Bethlehem) to other bishops in the Episcopal Church in anticipation of the next House of Bishops meeting. Initially written for limited circulation among Bishop Marshall’s colleagues in the House of Bishops, it has been distributed in wider circles. We reprint it here in full with Bishop Marshall’s permission.

—-
Both Jim Naughton and Ruth Gledhill have now published an article written by the Bishop of Bethlehem (Pennsylvania, USA) Paul Marshall.

You can read it in full here.

Ruth Gledhill has links to a number of other articles and has commented that:

I think he is being just a bit too hard on the Archbishop. Dr Williams has written about why he decided to invite Schori to the Primates’ meeting in Tanzania, and has also had meetings with US liberals that a fringe Bishop such as Marshall could not possibly know about. The orthodox are worried. Poor Dr Williams is being attacked from all sides. In the letter below, Bishop Marshall writes of the pending crucifixion and resurrection of The Episcopal Church as it is presumably ‘forced’ to split. But if you ask me, it is the Archbishop who’s being crucified here, not TEC or anyone else.

Jim Naughton wrote that:

…the bishop articulates what many of us have been feeling about the Archbishop of Canterbury and his behavior toward our Church for some time.

Certainly this contribution strengthens the feeling of American discomfort that I received from reading the articles linked previously.

Mark Harris has commented at The Questions get Sharper

Update Wednesday
The article is now available on the Bethlehem diocesan website as a PDF file or as a Word file, go here. There is a background note there also:

In anticipation of the House of Bishops meeting in Texas, Bishop Paul Marshall wrote a discussion starter and sent it by email on January 12, 2007, to his colleagues in the House of Bishops. Upon receiving requests from colleagues to share more widely the note initially intended for limited circulation, he expanded and revised it. Primarily about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s relationship to our House of Bishops, the note assumes a great deal of context. It may be downloaded below, as a Word or PDF file. As always, we continue to pray for the ministry of Rowan, Archbishop of Canterbury, who, as Bishop Paul notes, “needs no witness from me to his reputation as a pious and good man, great in so many ways, and someone whom I overall admire as writer, teacher and moral voice in the UK.

There is also an Episcopal News Service report headed Bishop challenges Archbishop of Canterbury to meet with House of Bishops.

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MadPriest
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MadPriest

As it is rare for a humble blogger to be ahead of the big boys I feel obliged to point out that I scooped everybody on this, printing the letter in full first thing this morning, English time. Sorry about the boasting but I really am quite proud of this fact.

Dennis
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Dennis

Yes, as Americans in the Anglican Communion we are feeling discomfort, and we are starting to question the need to stay in a place where we are so regularly attacked for following what we consider to be both right and compatible with the traditions of the faith. Rowan could have stopped this mess years ago by telling the break-aways in America to stop it and telling the foreign bishops to stay out of the American church. Rowan has coddled and encouraged our attackers. His flip on the rights of gays and lesbians in the church is astonishing. In the pews,… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

Maneuvering the Episcopal Church into withdrawing from the Anglican Communion of its own free will – an ecclesiastical repeat of 1776 – could well be the only way that the Church of England itself might hold together though such a split. If the ABC was being exceedingly calculating, this would be an interesting approach.

John D
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John D

Ms. Gledhill’s “fringe” bishop has it all quite right, and he expresses opinions shared by an increasing number of faithful Episcopalians.I’ll take “fringe” any day over the smarmy kiss-up arranged by the +Wimberly Gang(of four, six?) at its serial camp meetings.Whether intended or not, ++Rowan’s insults have done more to promote schism than anything the Moderator could concoct.

Bob McCloskey
Guest
Bob McCloskey

Paul Marshall – ‘fringe bishop’ – fringe of what? A small diocese? Successor to Mark Dyer, whose place in Anglican theological formation and ecumenical leadership is unparalleled? Inclusive pastor to the marginalized? Conscientious developer of companion relationships and assistance to African dioceses? One-time neighboring rector and friend to me on Long Island? Perhaps ‘fringe’ is justified in the sense that Paul doesn’t enjoy ecclesiastical parlor games and trivia as does his critic. Methinks that the UK media darling of all things ‘Anglican’, has once again missed the mark, a rather frequent habit.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

I really hope that TEC will be welcoming and outward looking to those of us who feel their perspective is the one we wish to follow, not that of the Anglican Communion, dominated by the views of Akinola et al, and with a leadership too cowardly to stop their takeover.

Milton
Guest
Milton

I read this on the HOBD (House of Bishops and Deputies of ECUSA listserv) digest this morning. +Marshall seems to be having a fit of the vapors and casts himself as such the martyr. Of course, he got the usual kudos from the usual suspects. But we US reasserters can take heart! “You know you’re over the target when you start picking up flak!”

Prior Aelred
Guest

“fringe”?

Hardly? A brilliant man with a great sense of humor, he early analysis of the WR proved to be right on target:

http://www.thewitness.org/agw/marshall101904.html

His book on the consecration of Samuel Seabury is also excellent!

Annie
Guest
Annie

I rather agree with “Poor Bishop Williams”! The longer this fiasco continues and the more rabid each side becomes, the more I admire him–even when I feel as though he has sort of stabbed at the liberal side and I’ve been left wondering why he takes it, ever so slightly. I think that he is emulating Christ. I think he is trying to bide his time and allow God to lead the church in the direction it should go. I think he is trying to discern that direction and is half-hoping that the rest of the Communion will too. We… Read more »

Charlotte
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Charlotte

Someone needs to tell Ruth Gledhill that +Paul Marshall is not a “fringe bishop.” He is a well-respected bishop of a central Pennsylvania diocese, widely regarded as a moderate. Bethlehem may be a small diocese but it is not all that far from the Northeast Corridor, at least as we Americans measure distance. But I suppose from a media celebrity’s point of view it’s just more “fly-over territory.”

Ian Montgomery
Guest
Ian Montgomery

Dennis writes – “Yes, as Americans in the Anglican Communion we are feeling discomfort, and we are starting to question the need to stay in a place where we are so regularly attacked for following what we consider to be both right and compatible with the traditions of the faith. Rowan could have stopped this mess years ago by telling the break-aways in America to stop it and telling the foreign bishops to stay out of the American church.” Excuse me but did not the US Episcopal Church cause this mess by ignoring all the warnings and pleas in 2003?… Read more »

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

Milton: When you post something on two different blogs that is word for word the same it is polite to note this ( You might write “This was cross posted at…”)

Since we all like to go over and watch the residents at StandFirm for some cheap comedy so we saw it there the first time.

Richard Lyon
Guest
Richard Lyon

I am sure that Ms. Gledhill’s profound thoughts on the matter will have a major impact in the shaping of world opinion.

Andrew Gerns
Guest

What Bishop Marshall wrote got more attention, but what he has written on this before. The Fall, 2005 edition of The Anglican Theological Review (84:4) focused on aspects of the Windsor Report. His essay was the lead essay of thirteen representing a wide variety of perspectives. It should have been required reading of all deputies and bishops before the 75th General Convention…and of primates and decision makers in other parts of the Communion, fringe or not. His article is titled “A Note on the Role of North America in the Evolution of Anglicanism” Here are the opening paragraphs: “The history… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

I don’t at all agree with Ruth Gledhill’s view on this. Making invitation to Lambeth is entirely at the discretion of the ABC.

No explanations given.

Issuing excuses like Dr Williams has done over the infitation of the American Presiding Bishop is highly inappropriate.

John Richardson
Guest
John Richardson

It’s because people don’t understand Rowan Williams’ theology that they feel he has betrayed them. For Williams, salvation is found in the person/people you would reject, no matter how deserving or undeserving of that rejection they may be – in Jesus for the Sanhedrin, in the terrorist for the American, in the gay person for the Conservative, in Akinola for TEC. This is because rejection is, essentially, sinful self-protection, and only in overcoming that can I truly be as God is and wants me to be – open and reconciled to my enemy. Hence Rowan is not compromising on this… Read more »

Josh Thomas
Guest

Ruth Gledhill’s casual insult, that Paul Marshall is a “fringe” bishop, shows how completely out of touch she is with the American Church. He couldn’t be more mainstream. The fact is that we in America are getting sick and tired of England’s dithering, appeasing, too-smart-by-half Archbishop. We have no intention of walking away from our Communion, but neither will we permit a man with no authority whatsoever in America to dictate our polity or theology. Our Church is democratic, and we didn’t elect him dogcatcher, much less Archbishop. All he’s trying to do is to keep from being blamed for… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“did not the US Episcopal Church cause this mess by ignoring all the warnings and pleas in 2003” Well, I would argue that the rest of the Communion caused all this by refusing to obey the recommendations of several Lambeth conferences to initiate discussion with gay people. That the American Church took this to heart and actually listened to gay people, thereafter finding itself unable to exclude them from the Christian family, is a testament to their obedience to the wider Church. If you want to get all fussed up about who obeys and who doesn’t, ask Nigeria how the… Read more »

Kurt
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Kurt

“In the pews, and not just online, we are starting to question if we shouldn’t say goodbye and goodriddance until the rest of you lot catch up with the idea that all people are welcome at Christ’s altar and all are loved by God as created.”— Dennis

Right on, Dennis! Most members of my small Brooklyn parish that I have talked to are sick and tired of Rowan Williams and consider him a gutless coward! Perhaps it’s time to toss the Lambeth tea into the harbor! (And to toss out Duncan et al with it!)

David Keen
Guest
David Keen

Josh, if the ABC has no authority whatsoever in America, why is Bishop Marshall getting so steamed up about him?

‘The Episcopal church is finally learning the lesson of Stonewall: fight back.’ Just like Jesus did. Great. I thought Christians were supposed to behave differently?

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

So, are liberal bishops a model for what we should do instead, David? Sit on the fence, compromise, sell gay and lesbian people down the river and allow the conservatives to take over?

David Keen
Guest
David Keen

There’s a difference between compromise and fighting back. Standing your ground is the nearest phrase I can get to it. Sorry, I’m just fed up with all this scrabbling for power whilst the church carries on shrinking – whoever finds themselves at the wheel by the time the ‘fight’ is over will look up just in time to see a giant iceberg hitting.

Deacon Mark
Guest
Deacon Mark

Why not just make up a list of who is not welcome in the Anglican Church; it would be easier for us poor dumb Americans to sort out then. What you English don’t seem to understand at all is our history of segregation; we’ve been down this road before with people of African and Native American descent and then with women. I think the good Bishop got it exactly right and showed remarkable restraint

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

I find Bishop Marshall’s comments just the sort of historically informed, trenchant commentary that I would have expected from any occupant of Canterbury, alas, Lord have mercy. If indeed Rowan Williams is trying to be like Jesus in reaching out, then he ought to be equally and equally vigorously reaching out, repeatedly, to all sides of Anglican views in this realignment crisis, and not keeping such a distance from one side in implicit favor of another. Any pastor or family therapist knows you gotta connect, actively, and accurately, with all sides of the family during difficult times. The messenger thang… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

But, David, I already think that the church is not worth being part of, and unless there can be genuine change, which for me means an organisational split, that will continue. I don’t think its about power. Its about justice, equality and inclusion. The problem is that the tactics and aims have been ‘trying to hold things together’ rather than ‘making plans to divide organisationally’ in a civil and reasonable manner. Surely no-one can truly believe that conservative and liberal Christianity are truly compatible? They are essentially different animals. Too many liberals, in a spirit of charity and inclusion, simply… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Ford – you say “They weren’t asked to accept, merely to listen.” …….not in 2003, I am sorry to say….the AC was given a fait accompli (despite its many requests for restraint and urgent warnings that the fabric of the communion would be torn at its deepest level, as it has been) I am sure you will agree: -one can listen carefully and not be convinced; -one can listen sympathetically, genuinely engage and still in the end disagree finding the case not proven; -one can listen carefully and in good faith for the foundation arguments but only find human rights… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

NP, What was presented in 2003 came after nearly two decades of obedience to Lambeth ’88 in which the Church was requested to engage in dialogue with gay people. TEC as a body did that. What about individual parishes and dioceses? Did Jack Iker, or Bob Duncan listen to what gay people had to say? You give a list each item of which begins “one can listen…”. I agree with each statement, but I claim they did NOT listen. I am not suggesting “If they had listened, they would like me.” Look at it this way. The Consevo message of… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Josh Thomas observes of TEC’s position vis-à-vis Rowan Williams, “we didn’t elect him dogcatcher, much less Archbishop”. Politely, Mr. Thomas does not mention that the Church of England has not elected Dr. Williams dogcatcher either. Unlike the “fringe” bishop of Bethlehem, PA, or the bishop of New Hampshire, both freely elected by the clergy and laity of their respective dioceses, Rowan Williams, like the entire English bench of diocesan bishops, was appointed on the recommendation of the prime minister’s office – a process which can still be highly political – subject to the rubber-stamp approval of a hereditary monarch. On… Read more »

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

Ian Montgomery: There really is no answering the so-called conservatives in America who are dancing with glee at the thought that the accepting progressives in America will be thrown out and replaced by hard-line so-called “orthodox” leaders. It is not going to happen, though. We are not going to start burning gays and lesbians at the stake. Women priests will not be turned out from their parishes. In our society there will be no camps opened to ship the gays and lesbians and upity women off to. Gays and lesbians will not be pushed back in the closet and women… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

I found this recently published book via the Sojourners daily digest today: http://www.powells.com/biblio/0060836946?&PID=29218 It is called “Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith” by Diana Butler Bass. It looks interesting and hopeful in that it posits a model that goes beyond maximised tithing profits through megachurch attendance. The publisher comments “For decades the accepted wisdom has been that America’s mainline Protestant churches are in decline, eclipsed by evangelical mega-churches. Church and religion expert Diana Butler Bass wondered if this was true, and this book is the result of her extensive, three-year study of… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

In reply to Lapinbizarre, please read the explanation of how an English diocesan bishop is chosen by an elected electoral college, at

http://peterowen.org.uk/articles/choosing.html

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

And exactly what is the point of a listening process if there is already a determination never to change one’s mind after listening?

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Many thanks for the info on the theory of the Anglican electoral process. I am aware of it, as I am aware of the following comment in the piece that you cite, and of what, in terms of the potential for political interference, that comment implies: “The Prime Minister chooses one of the two names to be the new bishop, or he or she may ask the CNC for more names. This is known to have happened at least once in recent times, when neither of the CNC’s two original names was chosen.” The episcopal electoral process is, to some… Read more »

Doug Taylor-Weiss
Guest

For the life of me, I can’t figure what Cheryl Clough’s big aggravation is. I guess she wants more good parishes and fewer venal ones. What does it have to do with the issues before us? Is Rowan Williams somehow aiding and abetting institutionalized poverty? Or condoning violence and repression? Huh? I happen to be a priest who believes that homosexual conduct is contrary to God’s call to holiness. Does this make me one of her “butt-licking priests”? If so, I guess I’ll need further catechizing in her “core principles of the Bible.” Come to think of it, maybe that… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

The easy outcome of a listening process, done accurately and with a modicum of effectiveness, is simply two fairly reliable results. Most of the time, understanding is increased. Mainly in ways which reduce social distance, and therefore, which reduced our human traditions of judgment, prejudice, stereotyping, ignorance, fear, and disgust – usually established, maintained, handed on, and kept lively by that very social distance which makes listening so potentially positive and growthful. A second fairly frequent outcome is an increase of mutuality, complexly enacted between/among the parties involved in the listening. In the case of sexual orientation, this means we… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Ford – I guess the leaders you mention would claim that they have listened seriously and carefully but rejected the arguments they have heard as not convincing.
I am not sure why you claim they have not listened – any evidence for that?

I think both sides knows where the other stands and are not likely to come to agreement so we are coming to the point of saying, “Let’s stop pretending we are united…”
(KJS is certainly a blessing in the sense that she seems much more honest about the real differences which exist)

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Moses didn’t exactly charm the Egyptions or 80% of the Jews who chose not to follow him into Exodus. Isaiah, Jeremiah and other prophets didn’t exactly have people swooning with their compliments. Their job was not to appease corruption but to get people to repent and if they would not discredit them as God’s “loving” ambassadors. In the last year: I have watched solo scripturalists deny the need to revere Creation or mete out justice in this world. Collusively participate in attempts at cultural or physical genocide, teach people to be complacent and ignore blatent injustice and cruelty. Humans choose… Read more »

ruidh
Guest
ruidh

“On a slightly different tack, re. the fresh-minted Bishop Mimms of Virginia and the 20 new Nigerian bishops, how are bishops elected in the Nigerian church? Curious to know, At this rate of progress, could Abp Akinola be looking at a Nigerian majority at Lambeth, come summer of next year?” The recent press release ( http://www.anglican-nig.org/bshpelects_jan2007.htm ) states that the bishops for the missionary diceses were elected by the Nigerian House of Bishops. Little different from how the US, for example, elected missionary bishops. The press release dosn’t say who elected the bishops-elect of the vacant sees, but it seems… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

NP, Lambeth ’88 did not enjoin the Church to listen to Herself and what Her Conservatives and Liberals think. We were asked to speak to gay people about their lives, their experiences, how they have been wounded by the Church and society. You say listen and not been convinced. Convinced of what? That gay people are human beings? That we have suffered at the hands of the Church? That knowledge of that gives us a jaundiced eye when it comes to religious people? Frankly, that we don’t trust you. Why do you choose to sit in judgement on what you… Read more »

Andrew Carey
Guest
Andrew Carey

Ford Elms is getting mixed up with dates. It was the 1998 Lambeth Resolution which put the emphasis on listening to the experience of homosexuals. The 1988 called for a dispassionate study of homosexuality which paid attention to the science, and the socio-cultural differences among Anglicans on the issue. The ’88 resolution also put an emphasis on the human rights of homosexuals. The point which stands is that as you look back at Lambeth resolutions in the past few decades only a few of them have had any real follow-up. Many of them stand as a description of what the… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Thanks for the correction, Andrew. The point, as you say, is that such calls were met with inaction in many quarters, often, I suspect, among those who are now “not convinced”. It woud be interesting to find out why this is so.

NP
Guest
NP

Ford – you have a much more reasonable definition of “listening” than many seem to have! We have a “fundamental” problem with those who define “listening” as “agree with” or “talk until behaviour is accepted” or “compromise” (so, this is not you but as you will know, some re-define “listen” like this) For all your understandable doubts – I sincerely expect Duncan et al have listened as you suggest even if we do not know about it….do get in touch with them and challenge them on it if you want to know and I hope you would get evidence of… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“The Church, recognising the need for pastoral concern for those who are homosexual, encourages dialogue with them. (We note with satisfaction that such studies are now proceeding in some member Churches of the Anglican Communion.)” Sorry for the double post, and I don’t mean to “one up” you here, Andrew, but the above is from Lambeth ’78, resolution 10.3. You are right however, that the language of Lambeth ’88 referred to “deep and dispassionate study of the question of homosexuality” while reaffirming Lambeth ’78. The key point, as you say, is that in some circles, the dialogue hasn’t happened. I… Read more »

laurence
Guest
laurence

How I loved being ‘studied’ — especially dispassionately. I remembered that when someone did do some real study of this ‘issue’, George Carey suppressed it, as it wasn’t the answer he wanted. I speak , of course , of the Osborne Report, produced at his and the Synod’s request by June Osborne and her working party. How I wish some one would publish yet — some of his have photocopies. Carey of course got another Report done that was more to his taste – Some Issues in Human Sexuality. The seeds of the present pseudo-crisis were loving tended by George… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Ford – you mention “those who now find themselves unable to celebrate the Eucharist with those who support…”

– again, I am sorry but we do not have a problem with anyone because of any pastoral “support” they give

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“I sincerely expect Duncan et al have listened as you suggest even if we do not know about it” You sincerely expect he has conducted the dialogue we are talking about, I equally sincerely doubt he has. Neither of us has evidence for our assumptions. I will find out. I would call you naive, you would call me cynical, I suppose. “We have a “fundamental” problem with those who define “listening” as “agree with” or “talk until behaviour is accepted” or “compromise”” But who are these people? Who is saying “listen till you agree with us”? I rather suspect they… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Ford And to add to your examples. How many times have parishioners had GLBT friends and relatives come to baptisms, weddings, funerals and not told the pastor that they wre GLBT? In fact, I know of souls who pray that at least at this particular service their priest defer one of his homophobic tirades for another service where their loved ones are not present. I know people who have chosen to change churches because they got tired of the insults that apply to their own brother/uncle/aunt/sister/close friend. As an aside, people who refer to others as “beasts” have no right… Read more »

Andrew Carey
Guest
Andrew Carey

Laurence, you also are getting mixed up with dates. The Osborne report happened in the Runcie years and was suppressed then. Issues in Human Sexuality was the follow-up and the work on that was begun under Robert Runcie. It was however the first report ‘signed’ by my father when he came into office. It doesn’t help to personalise everything though.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

To be precise, the Osborne report was produced in 1989.

Issues in Human Sexuality was published in 1991.

Prior Aelred
Guest

If I may be so bold as to return to the topic, the statement from Lambeth about “hurt feelings on all sides,” is a prime example of the failure of communication that Bishop Marshall addresses. He is not talking about hurt feelings. He is pointing out tremendous pastoral, moral & common sense failures in ++Rowan’s performance of his responsibilities as ABC & he is quite specific and objective in the examples he provides.