Friday, 29 July 2005


The CEN reports in New alliance of traditionalists threatens truce that a meeting was held in Nassau at which a body called Council of Anglican Provinces of the Americas and Caribbean (CAPAC) was formed.

This body, despite its name, includes only two provinces of the Anglican Communion (West Indies, Southern Cone) but also includes the Diocese of Recife (in Brazil), The Anglican Communion Network (ACN) and The Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC).

It does not include Anglican provinces in Canada, the US, Mexico, Central America, any of the dioceses in the northern part of South America which are part of the Episcopal Church, or the Episcopal Church of Brazil.

The press releases about this event originate from Ekklesia:
A Statement from the Anglican Pan American Conference (scroll down for a Resolution on Recife)
Press Release from the Council of Anglican Provinces of the Americas and Caribbean
and the same website carries an article from the Christian Challenge:
Conservative Anglicans Envision Western Hemisphere Alliance

The NACDAP website carries Network joins Western Hemisphere Alliance which includes (scroll down) A Covenant of Understanding.

Other news reports about this:
TLC Nassau Covenant Signed and earlier Nassau Meeting Concludes
As TLC notes, this Nassau meeting was first mentioned by the Guardian in connection with the revelation of the Anglican Global Initiative, see here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 29 July 2005 at 12:39pm BST
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Excellent news!

Looks as if the split is beginning ; we can only hope.

I think conservatives in the CofE are going to find this hard, though - being part of a church whose epicentre will be so very far from Canterbury.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 29 July 2005 at 8:48pm BST

This is so very far from excellent news-- I don't understand how anyone could rejoice in it.

Posted by: Anna on Saturday, 30 July 2005 at 5:09am BST

Mike - you Brits are SOOOO provincial! Don't you know you've lost your empire? Anyway, my dictionary defines epicenter as '1. the point on the earth's surface directly above the focus of an earthquake; 2. the central point of a difficulty'. I imagine 'conservatives in the CofE would be happy to be away from such a calamity.

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Saturday, 30 July 2005 at 1:06pm BST

By the way, Mike, my contacts in the UK tell me that the biggest churches in the CofE are these evangelical or evangelical-charismatic parishes:
1. Holy Trinity Brompton (3200)
2. All Souls, Langham Place (2500)
3. Christ Church, Fulwood, Sheffield (1000?)
4. Trinity, Cheltenham (1000?)
5. St Mary's, Bryanston Sq, London (1000?)
6. Christ Church, Clifton, Bristol (800?)
7. St Helen's Bishopsgate, London (600?)
8. St Mark's, Battersea, London (600?)
9. Holy Trinity, Leicester (500)
10. Bramcote, Nottingham (500)
Further: that the biggest Anglican churches in any city are almost invariably evangelical: St Thomas's Lancaster, Holy Trinity Platt (Manchester); Holy Trinity Norwich; St Mary's Broadwater; St Leonard's Exeter; St Alkmund's Derby; St Nicholas, Durham; St Nicholas Nottingham; St Luke's Maidstone etc etc, and that they are notably younger in their membership and give more than the CofE average. I haven't a clue what these places are like, but assuming my information is correct, I can't imagine the leadership is going to allow the split you long for (but presumably don't pray for, as that view of God would be a bit 'fundamentalist'). In its financial straits the CofE isn't going to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs - and produces goslings as well.

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Saturday, 30 July 2005 at 5:49pm BST

I empathize w/ MM's sense of optimism (that the AC conflict be over and done with) . . .

. . . but I don't share it (I go, rather, with "That Blessed Hope")

Even if conservatives succeed in breaking up the Anglican Communion, that will only increase the imperative on North American (Scottish, et al) Anglicans to share with them---with ALL---the *embracing love of Jesus Christ*.

"Hound of Heaven": there's NOWHERE +Akinola or +Gomez or +Duncan (majority Primates, and/or self-styled Primates!) can go to escape the Gospel. Jesus's Love gonna getcha! :-D

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Saturday, 30 July 2005 at 7:50pm BST

Mr. Hambrook makes an interesting point -- I believe exactly the same point was made about how the churches in the developing world & the Anglican Consultative Counsel would never expel the North American churches who pay for most of the ministry in the Third World & pay for about two-thirds of the ACC budget.

Perhaps sometimes people might act out of motives other than the purely financial.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Saturday, 30 July 2005 at 7:51pm BST

Martin Hambrook: Yes, we know: Size matters to evangelicals. We assume that someone has audited your figures, of course. Magazines are required to audit their circulation figures; they aren't allowed to solicit advertising otherwise. But that isn't what I wanted to post about.

Can anyone point me to specific information (dates and documents) regarding the following matter:

Some years ago, ECUSA became concerned that donations earmarked for legitimate charitable purposes in overseas dioceses were being diverted by corrupt officials, including corrupt clergy. Uganda is a name I have heard mentioned in this context. ECUSA's response was to impose tighter financial controls on recipients. These were not theological controls, but did require greater financial accountability. I have heard that this move on ECUSA's part did not sit well with some. I would appreciate leads and pointers to solid information on this; you may reply privately. Thank you in advance.

Posted by: Charlotte on Saturday, 30 July 2005 at 8:20pm BST

Charlotte's sarcasm is misplaced. Martin was only saying that these are the churches that are growing, which was a perfectly fair point.

"Even if conservatives succeed in breaking up the Anglican Communion"

Again, a loaded comment. I doubt whether anyone wants to break up anything. But it is difficult to know what to do when the CofE has become hijacked by people to whom the Bible, it would appear, is deemed to be obsolete, and where the Christian faith is watered down so much as to being little more than a club where anything goes.

Liberalism, some would argue, has had its day. People want a faith worth living for. And liberalism hasn't got the answer.

Posted by: Ian on Saturday, 30 July 2005 at 9:58pm BST

But, Martin, its you conservatives who are making all the moves towards a split. This is just the latest.

The unease of CofE conservatives will be whether they choose to go with the conservative majority outside England, or not. I think they probably will go, and I would be very happy for them to take their unwieldy bureaucracy and unsuitable, costly buildings with them, if they are that bothered about Mammon.

I can't see those planning the split will have very much use for much of the CofE, bar some of the conservative 'super-churches' you mentioned. Having once been an attender at one of them, I would rejoice when such cult-like places were no longer part of the CofE. Concocted hysteria and premodern thinking really don't have much to offer, other than to the authoritarian personality seeking easy answers to difficult questions and cessation of reasoned thought in favour of bibliolatry and belief in that which has no intellectual or reasoned credibility.

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 30 July 2005 at 10:43pm BST

I'm with Charlotte - it's a bit silly to play the numbers game. But since Martin seems to value this...

In just my diocese (Dallas, TX), we have Transfiguration, which tops your #6-10 right off, and St. Michael & All Angels which is always exchanging the #1 & 2 spot in the entire *country* for most parisioners enrolled (with a church in Atlanta, which is also *not* an AAC parish).

This business that "only the (so-called) orthodox churches are growing and thriving" is just sheer nonsense. At best a poor attempt at "spin."

Posted by: Simeon on Sunday, 31 July 2005 at 4:10am BST

1. I wasn't playing a 'numbers game', simply pointing out that, AFAIK, the largest churches in the CofE are overwhelmingly evangelical, and this is accepted by everyone. This isn't a controversial claim. Similarly, I'm told that over 50% of Anglican seminarians in England are at evangelical seminaries. As you and I know, this isn't the case in Ecusa, although TESM is easily the largest and youngest seminary and it would be twice the size it is if bishops didn't prevent people from going there. That is a very well documented fact, Simeon, which I'm sure you will accept.
2. You and I also know that *enrollments* in Ecusa mean very little - it's *actual Sunday attendance* and giving that counts. Most of the people on Ecusa rolls are in bed or on the golf course on Sunday morning. It's a bit like the claim sometimes made in Engalnd that t'there are 27 million members of the C of E', which is crazy, since less than a million go to C of E churches. What is baptism without belief and belonging? Actual Sunday attendance in Ecusa hardly tops 800,000 and will be down again when we see the 2004 figures - it couldn't be otherwise, given the number of parishes lost that year and this (Overland Park etc). Again, this is a well documented fact, which I am sure you will accept.
3. Of course evangelicalism isn't a dominant force in Ecusa, and I doubt if it ever was. A kind of liberal catholicism has been the regnant view for the most part, and especially so since the REC disruption. But in the wider Anglican Communion (England, Africa, Australia and now South East Asia) it's a different picture.

Charlotte: you asked for information about Ecusa money misappropriated, possibly in Uganda. You may have in mind the attempt to establish Integrity Uganda and the pocketing of the cash by a renegade priest in that country. You can get further information from Integrity.

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Sunday, 31 July 2005 at 9:02am BST

"its you conservatives who are making all the moves towards a split"

And it's you liberals who are so determined to redefine the Christian faith that we awful conservatives feel out of place.

It's not that we wish to leave the church; it's that much of the church is leaving us.

And Merseymike, you keep on banging on about your having been in evangalical churches and by implication have grown out of them. Yet when asked, you don't define what you seem to be the essentials in Christianity. You deride the Bible, and seem to replace it by some confused sociological mish-mash! Well, that may be your experience. My experience is that people are seeking Christ, and rejecting a wishy-washy faith where anything goes. That is why the evangelical churches are growing. And that's the point that, as I read it, Martin was trying to make.

Ultimately, and I'm sure he would agree, numbers are not the criterion by which one judges a church. There are many evangelical churches which have few in numbers. And churches may grow or decline for a number of reasons. But the reality, though you may not concede this, is that the liberal churches have had their day. Where they remain in large numbers, it is because single issues not connected with the Christian faith are uniting people together. And these issues are usually a departure from the word of God.

Yes, there is likely to be a realignment within the Church of England. I doubt that those who are spearheading this want such a realignment, but they feel they have no option. For us, being a Christian is not a philosophical matter, but one of a relationship with Jesus Christ, and a wish, not to redefine the faith to discard anything that one personally does not like, but to follow Jesus Christ and to become more like Him.

Posted by: ian on Sunday, 31 July 2005 at 9:25am BST

I think that liberal Christianity also needs to look at itself, yes - and I am sure there will be changes.

But I am sure that evangelicalism will not grow more than its current number - and lets remewmber, many of the super-churches are simply gaining members from other evangelical churches, and the increase in numbers is largely down to immigrants.

The 93% of people who wouldn't touch evangelical Christianity with a bargepole are far more important to me that the certainties of the few who cling to their premodern religion, and I too think realignment is inevitable. However, unlike many, I welcome it, as I agree that my beliefs have very little in common with yours.

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 31 July 2005 at 4:58pm BST

FWIW, the largest parish in my CofE diocese is around 1300, and the second largest is about 900 on the electoral roll. Neither of these could remotely be described as "evangelical". The largest parish that could be so described is about 500.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 31 July 2005 at 7:01pm BST

Simon, are these actual Sunday attendance figures or names on a roll? Aren't there scores (or even hundreds) of names on these rolls of people who never attend - or maybe even died years ago? I know the average attendance in Ecusa is about 70 per church, I guess it's similar in the C of E. The important indicators are the age of the attenders and the number of children an young people regularly attending. Do liberal churches in England have many young people in them? In Ecusa the average age of many ocngregatiosn is over 60.
I've also heard about student churches in Oxford (St Aldate's) and Cambridge (the Round Church??) which claim 800-1000 attenders.

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Sunday, 31 July 2005 at 8:08pm BST

Martin Hambrook: No, actually, the Uganda scandal had something to do with archbishops and limousines kept for their exclusive use in the US. I remember it very imperfectly, however.

Posted by: Charlotte on Sunday, 31 July 2005 at 8:49pm BST

Since this thread seems to be taken up w/ numbers, and church-growth (as defined by numbers):

I take a paradoxical view.

No Christian can be willfully oblivious to the "people in the pews" question: at some point, one can drop below the "when 2 or 3 are gathered in my name", and then where are we?

At the same time, the Biblical witness is clear, again, and again, and again: people (being sinners) *love to flock to religion that is NOT of YHWH* (especially if it doesn't make any costly *ethical demands* on them). Ergo, the raw *numbers* of faith-adherents---whether as a snap-shot, or as a trend---can NEVER define whether "faith in God" is found simply where-the-people-are.

As Christians, called to share the Good News, we must constantly ask ourselves: are we *extending ourselves to invite others* to experience God's Love? But we must also ask "is God's Love to be found *in* my faith community?" (Because if not, having each and every person on the planet sign up---and pledge!---doesn't mean jack squat)

I honestly don't know whether ECUSA's witness will cost it members in the long-haul (clearly, there will be *some* costs in numbers short-term). I hope it doesn't. And I will try---in such ways appropriate to *my* personal vocation---to see that we *do grow*, in numbers.

. . . but far, FAR more important, is that we, The Episcopal Church, grow in FAITH.

In some ways, I think we're on the right track. In many others, there is VAST room for improvement.

I will trust the Holy Spirit (known through Scripture, Tradition and Reason) to show us the *right balance*: growing in numbers, where possible. Always growing in faith. :-)

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Sunday, 31 July 2005 at 9:56pm BST

Those are electoral roll figures: in the CofE these figures require the individual to apply on a written form, and are now renewed from scratch every six years. They are therefore not subject to the problems you mention.

Categorising churches as either "evangelical" or "liberal" is to misunderstand the CofE.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 31 July 2005 at 10:44pm BST

Again, FWIW, in my local church (Melbourne, Austrlaia) the biggest congregations seem to be the pentecostal evangelical churches of the Sydney sort. But the concern of those with oversight is, as I understand it, that the average length of stay in the congregation is about 2 years. This kind of religious faith has its place for those who find it meets an emotional need at a given time. But once that need is replaced by a deeper quest people move on, and often it's to what many who post here would call a 'liberal' group.

Posted by: Rodney on Monday, 1 August 2005 at 2:47am BST

I am grateful that my local diocese and parish have generally avoided the obsessions sewing conflict throughout the Communion. Our large ECUSA parish continues to thrive. On Sunday mornings, our pews are full.

If my parish were to participate in the petty squabbles plaguing much of the Church, I would choose instant disengagement and immediately cut all financial support. My 34 year participation in the Church would end peacefully. That would be a sane response, no?

Posted by: Michael on Monday, 1 August 2005 at 8:28am BST

Thanks for the clarification, Simon. Do you know what the average Sunday attendance is in these two churches you mentioned? Or the average Sunday attendance in CofE churches? Is it much different from the Ecusa average of about 70? Thanks for any info you can provide.

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Monday, 1 August 2005 at 9:51am BST

Our usual Sunday attendance at our 'liberal catholic' Parish Church is 150+ at 10.00 a.m. Parish Communion, plus about 30 at 8.00 a.m. BCP. and a faithful handful at 6.00 Evening Prayer. We try to be an open and thinking church.Our teaching is Bible-based without being fundamentalist. A significant minority of those attending are 'refugees' from local evangelical and 'happy-clappy' churches, and virtually all our membership would cease to attend were we to become like them.

Posted by: Michael Baker on Monday, 1 August 2005 at 2:00pm BST

While there are a good many evangelical mega-churches, they are few and far between, and their numbers may not add up to the total at all the smaller middle-of-the-road or liberal churches.

My own diocese is on the sidelines in the current debates (and two of our most evangelically oriented rectors are also theologically liberal).

In my prior diocese, Massachusetts, the second largest parish is an evangelical, Network parish (Christ Church Hamilton-Wenham), but the rest of the top 10 are all very liberal. The largest parish, Trinity Copley Square (1000+ Sunday attendance) has an evening service that used to have a predominantly gay congregation. And the other 2 Network parishes in Massachusetts have Sunday attendance of less than 50.

We can spin the numbers any way we want. But I don't think either side has a good idea of how many will go their way when the split happens, and there is a big middle (like my current diocese) that is very much up for grabs, hence all the arguments about who is in communion or who are the "true" Anglicans.

Posted by: Jim Pratt on Monday, 1 August 2005 at 2:23pm BST

Martin wrote: "although TESM is easily the largest and youngest seminary and it would be twice the size it is if bishops didn't prevent people from going there."

TESM ? (/me stops, looks puzzled, scratches head). Ah yes! that big Southern Baptist seminary in Pennsylvania ! (oh, come now, it's a *JOKE* :)

But if you wanna talk about "if bishops didn't prevent people from going there," then let's talk about how my Bishop and his Network buddies basically try to prevent anyone from going anywhere *else* BUT TESM...

Martin then said, "It's a bit like the claim sometimes made in Engalnd that there are 27 million members of the C of E', which is crazy, since less than a million go to C of E churches."

Which gets at the REAL point. When we all get a bit too proud of our numbers, let's remember the vast majority of the unchurched in our communities, and how utterly foolish we probably seem to them most of the time. No wonder they have no intention of giving up their Sunday newspapers and leisurely visits to Starbucks to hang out with us...

Posted by: Simeon on Monday, 1 August 2005 at 3:28pm BST

The numbers game is getting out of hand. Our American friends dont seem to realise how the sociological dynamics of english religion works.We have (still)an Established church and although this has, since the Toleration Act(or perhaps 1829), become more and more a voluntary society in an increasingly pluralistic context it still functions very differently from a membership church in the American "free market of religion" manner.Very large churches here tend to be eclectic, whatever their churchmanship--but most parishes which operate on a parish/geographical model has a "membership"(the word itself is rarely used here )that resembles an onion, many different layers of support.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Monday, 1 August 2005 at 4:47pm BST

I don't follow your comments, Simeon - TESM is an Episcopalian seminary, not Baptist, and it isn't anything as big as the Baptist schools I know about, like South-east and others. The faculty are very highly qualified - British PhDs etc. I've done a comparison of faculty resumes etc, and TESM faculty on the whole are better qualified and have a better publication record than most other schools. It also has more young men under 30 in its student body, the kind of people who will be able to give many years service in ministry.
For myself, I can't understand why postulants can't go to any approved Episcoplian seminary, whether it's CDSP, EDS, Nashotah or TESM. Bishops shouldn't block people in training from going where they think is best for them. A school should survive and flourish because people want to go there, not because somebody pulls strings. I have a hunch some of these schools would go under if they weren't on episcopal life support. Yes, as with ideas and speech, I guess I am unashamedly a believer in the free market.

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Monday, 1 August 2005 at 4:54pm BST

"my beliefs have very little in common with yours"

Merseymike, you've never told us what your beliefs are, despite several requests! You've said that the Bible is anti-gay, and continually refer to "pre-modern" or similar when you fled the evangelical church. What, then, to you, is a Christian? If you answer that, I'd know how much I can draw nearer to your argument.

Simon is right. there are more than just "evangelical" and "liberal" and if I gave that impression, I apologise. With regard to the issue of homosexuality, and women bishops, it is not only the evangelicals who are concerned, but also many anglo-Catholics as well.

Posted by: Ian on Monday, 1 August 2005 at 6:36pm BST

Regarding your comments about TESM, Simeon's comments, and a bishop's discretion as to where they are willing to send Postulants for Holy Orders:
1) In reviewing the resumes of TESM's 10 full-time faculty, I found that eight hold doctorates. BUT only 5 are academic (PhD/ThD), and these degrees are from Harvard, Westminster Theological Seminary, Wycliffe, and Tubigen. The 3 remaining doctoral degrees are DMin's from Trinty Evangelical Divinity School, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and TESM. So really there is only 1 of 10 who qualifies for the "British PhD" label. All 10 are ordained, though 2 are Presbyterians. Of the 8 ordained in the Anglican/Episcopal Church, only 5 received seminary training in an Anglican/Episcopal semianry. (my own comment: It seems ironic, given the academic and seminary training reflected in their faculty, that TESM is considered some kind of bastion for the deposit of classical Anglican thinking.) To add some perspective, I'll compare the resumes of the faculty at Virginia Theological Seminary (which actually DOES happen to be the largest seminary in the Episcopal Church). {and for the ultra-conservatives out there - Peter Akinola is an alumnus} VTS has 21 full-time teaching faculty. 20 of them hold doctoral degrees - all of which are academic (PhD, ThD, DMA). Those degrees were received from Duke, Yale, Brown, Ottawa, University of Toronto, Florida State, University of Washington, Vanderbilt, University of Virginia, Emory, and Eastman School of Music. 13 are ordained in the Anglican/Episcopal Church, and all of those received seminary training from an Anglican/Episcopal seminary. 2 are ordained Presbyterians, and 6 are lay Episcopalians. The Director of Library Services (not a teaching postion, but still vital) holds Masters degrees in Libary Admininstration and Theology and a DMin from Wesley Theological Seminary. She is an active Lutheran layperson. Publication rates are an awkward thing to track, because TESM does much of its own publishing, VTS does not. However, those on the VTS faculty who do write and publish, are held in high regard (Grieb, Lewis, Sedgwick, Battle, McDaniel, Ferlo, Cook, Hensley to name a few).

TESM does attract many younger seminarians, but I would caution anyone against dismissing the vocation and ministry of "second-career" clergy. Young clergy are a wonderful gift, but their vocation's should not be prized over all others. The question of how large TESM would be if bishops allowed people to go... Well, this can only be speculation. Several dioceses only send people to TESM. Several will send no one. It needs to be pointed out however that other Episcopal seminaries routinely deny admission due to space in classes, meaning lots of people are trying to get in (VTS, Sewanee, GTS, and Yale to name a few). Would TESM attract any of these people were they "allowed"? I don't know, nor do I know how many were prohibited in the first place.

2) Simeon was being uncharitable and sarcastic, but his comment does reflect the doubts that many have TESM. He well knows the TESM is an Episcopal seminary. And though I don't want to put words in his mouth, I think that when he is being charitable, Simeon will admit that TESM does many things well and serves its purpose in the church.

3) Bishops have discretion over how their Postulants for Holy Orders are trained, that's canon. But more than that, it is about role. Those of us who are ordained live lives of submission to God, to the congregation, and to our Bishops. One can only direct one's vocation and career so much. God's call, the Bishop's direction, and the community's discernment have ENORMOUS influence over you. And one thing that one learns as a Postulant is to submit to the Bishop's direction and the community's discernment. I think that's a good lesson, and I think that most (but certainly not all) bishops have the best interest of the individual who is presenting themself for ordination and the Church in mind rather than some political agenda.

Yours, Michael+

Posted by: michael cadaret on Monday, 1 August 2005 at 10:04pm BST

Thank you for your post. I note that TESM has appointed 4 new faculty, incl. a PhD from England and 2 others with doctorates. You are correct of course that VTS has the largest faculty, but I don't know how big its student body is - do you? VTS is an old and well-endowed institution whereas TESM is only about 25 years old and virtually bereft of endowments. Still, its growth is remarkable, and it's really focused on turning out preachers and missionaries - for home and abroad. I have read it has the highest enrollment but I'll check this out.
Of course older postulants have a lot to offer - but you do have to ask, say, what someone in her 40s is likely to achieve in the remainder of her working life, compared to, say, a 25 year old. And where are the 25 year olds in the church, anyway?
As for bishops controlling the place of study: I would buy the 'catholic submission' argument if the Ecusa bishops were more like authentic catholic bishops themselves, with a deep reverence for the authority of Scripture and the Councils of the Church in the sense commended by the 39 Articles. I am sure it is much more a matter of institutional control and formation, for if a school is accredited by the *Church, it should be acceptable to all bishops.

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Tuesday, 2 August 2005 at 12:06am BST

in about 30 seconds, I obtained the following from the VTS website:

Student Enrollment
Total enrolled: 272
Master in Divinity: 150
Master in Theological Studies: 21
Master of Arts in Christian Education: 19
Doctor of Ministry: 50
Theology & Anglican Studies: 17
Special Students: 15
Lay School of Theology: 180

Median MDiv Student Age:34
(40% in their 20's)
Average Age: 38
Married: 55%
Men/Women: 53/47
International Students: 9
Fulltime Faculty: 26
Adjunct Faculty: 28
Field Education Associates: 94
Staff: 57 Campus 88 Acres

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 2 August 2005 at 6:50am BST

Three points: 1)I do think that TESM does an excellent job with some things, and you are right to point out that in its 30 years or so it has succeeded in growing beyond expectations. You are also right to point out that VTS has deep pockets, and that its resources enable much. Thus, some of the comparisons are apples and oranges. However, to say to say that TESM focuses on turning out preachers and missionaries for the Church without qualification probably should be avoided. From its very beginning, TESM has sought to enroll and then graduate people of a very conservative mindset. They have never sought intellectual diversity, and I know several people who went there who received no end to grief for not toeing the TESM "party-line." TESM has a very clear agenda per the type of preacher and missionary they turn out (ultra-conservative/evangelical).
2)Ordinands in their forties come with certain drawbacks, as do ordinands in their twenties. Without being too crass a single 20-something priest still has some growing up to do, and if courtship is difficult for the laity just imagine what it's like for clergy. This is just one example. Other issues are the unspoken expectations held by so many that priests are to be wise, self-effacing, dignified, etc.. I'm not saying that young clergy don't carry these virtues. I know many who do, but I also hear their struggles and frustrations with the expectations of so many laity. So, I think we need to be careful with age-based characterizations.
3)Like I said before, I believe that most bishops view the issues of vocational formation with the utmost seriousness, and don't worry with institutional control in these decisions. If bishops don't send people to TESM, they probably have reasons other than simply not wanting the product that TESM turns out. The other seminaries in the Episcopal Church have much to offer that perhaps TESM doesn't. On the other end of the spectrum, EDS and Bexley Hall are often scrutinized by bishops in much the same way that TESM is.

Yours, Michael+

Posted by: michael cadaret on Tuesday, 2 August 2005 at 7:35pm BST

To build on Michael's aside, both Archbishop Akinola and Bishop Spong graduated from VTS. It's a remarkable community that manages to encompass and cherish a wide range of people. I get to take a class there this fall, and I'm really excited.

And for what it's worth, Martin, I'm 24.

Posted by: Anna on Tuesday, 2 August 2005 at 7:45pm BST

Thank you for your remarks, Michael. I am sure every school has its merits, it's a matter of what you're looking for. VTS, I think, is a place in transition, from being historically quite a conservative school, and now in the past few years facing some of the tensions that have come upon Ecusa in the past generation. I remember ABC Carey criticizing its change of policy on unmarried students cohabiting. I doubt if any African (other than S. African) students woud go there now, but I may be wrong.
Is TESM 'very conservative' in its student body? In Ecusa terms, that is probably so, but not by the standards of American Protestantism as a whole, and certainly not by world Anglican standards. There are lots of theologically and spiritually comparable places in English, African and Australian Anglicanism - which is to say that Ecusa has become largely theologically monochrome. Of course, this could be said of other places as well. But the point is, the kind of churches which have left in recent years - All Saints Pawley's Island, Christ Church Overland Park, and now the parishes in LA (and maybe soon those in CT?) - would never have left the Church of England but would have been the bedrock of their dioceses. The real challenge for this declining/dying church is: how can this trend by reversed? What kind of leaders do we need and where are they being produced?

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Tuesday, 2 August 2005 at 11:46pm BST

Fr. Michael wrote: "Simeon was being uncharitable and sarcastic, but his comment does reflect the doubts that many have TESM. He well knows the TESM is an Episcopal seminary. And though I don't want to put words in his mouth..."

I'm being "uncharitable and sarcastic" but you "don't want to put words in (my) mouth"," eh ? So which is it ? (grin) Actually, I was attempting humorous exaggeration, which seems to have fallen flat amongst some of the company here.

Yes, I'm well aware that TESM is (at least nominally) an Episcopal seminary. I simply find its character both *so* evangelical and so socially / theologically conservative that the aforementioned exaggeration just fell into my lap :)

Posted by: Simeon on Wednesday, 3 August 2005 at 12:58am BST

Simeon: thank you for your elucidation. I wasn't aware that being evangelical or 'socially /theologically conservative' disqualified a place from being Episcopalian or Anglican, since the majority of practicing Anglicans in the world (thinking here of England, W. and E. Africa, SE Asia, Australia etc) are in fact evangelical or 'socially/theologically conservative'. It's Ecusa - or large parts of it - which is in fact theologically extreme or eccentric, even sectarian. I've looked at the theological basis of TESM, its liturgical practice and the historical theology they teach there and it's pure classical Anglicanism as far as I can tell (and that is something I am fairly well qualified in, having taught this stuff).
I'm guessing you know a bit about the broader history of Anglicanism, so you may be aware of the role played by such doughty Anglican persons or institutions as Whitefield, Wesley, Wilberforce, Henry Venn, the CMS, Lord Shaftesbury, the East African Revival, John Stott, Jim Packer, Michael Green, George Carey, Tom Wright etc etc. (It would be laughable to mention theological pygmies like a Jack Spong or a Jim Pike in such company, let alone VGR).
Every blessing to you (no sarcasm here - we fundies are not very good at that - too much of that 'let your yes be yes' & 'love your neighbor' business that we try to follow).

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Wednesday, 3 August 2005 at 10:40am BST

Martin, VTS has recently graduated students from Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zambia, among other countries.

Let's all of us refrain from painting people and places with such a broad brush.

Posted by: Anna on Wednesday, 3 August 2005 at 3:21pm BST

VTS is a place in transition certainly. But, its long history of academic excellence in Bible, ethics, preaching, and missiology is a history of rigorous and broad intellectual expression. (Ray Glover, Charlie Price, Ted Mollegen, David Scott, Jim Ross, Reginald Fuller, Marianne Mix - these of the past 10-40 years) While VTS was conservative in the expected lifestyle 20 years ago, the broad academic commitments maintained by these professors was remarkable. While VTS has certainly changed in recent years on some issues, I think the same commitment to broad academic exposure remains. Some of the most liberal AND some of the most conservative clergy I know are VTS alums.

As far as international students are concerned over the past few years and crrent enrollments - there are students from Malawi, Ghana, Tanzania, Nigeria, Zambia, Myanmar, Sudan, Uganda, and Haiti (and I'm sure I'm missing a few).

You are right to point out that TESM is not "very" conservative given the spectrum of non-denominational, evangelical Protestantism. I would however push you on the ECUSA being theologically monochrome. Conservatives in the Church would like to convince us of that, but it simply has not been what I have experienced. I suppose it really comes down to what one considers acceptable theological method. TESM wants a thorough and ascenting restatement of what has gone before at one end of the spectrum of theological development with little question or criticism. I suppose that's fine. I certainly think that it is a legitimate part of theological method. BUT, it's certainly not all there is to the study of theology which can include exposure to Christian thought outside one's tradition, critical analysis of one's tradition, and (here's the uncomfortable part) the updating of one's understanding. TESM is vulnerable to the label of "theologically monochromatic" because it listens to the beat of one drum, and never suggests a different rhythm. This isn't about agreement either - it's about respectful and charitable engagement, and it is neither charitable nor respectful to dismiss those who differ from me as faithless. Who is to say that they haven't been devoted, thorough, and discerning in their reading, worship, and prayer? This isn't about doing away with absolute truth; it's about seeking the truth - knowing that we see in the glass dimly - I read that somewhere. (Bluntly, many on both sides show this dismissiveness. Which makes me think of something about an eye saying to a hand I have no need of you. Gosh, I think I read that somewhere. And something about all being one - I think I read that somewhere too.)

To say this in a personal and devotional way, I want to know Christ. I want to know him more fully because I am quite certain that I don't know him well enough. I must question myself to find my own spiritual impediments and repent of them. I must question my traditions and contribute to my community's repentence and removal of impediments. To know him, I must read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the Scripture. I must watch and pray. I must listen to the knowledge and experience of others with an ear for revelation that they may have received. I must serve the world in Christ's name, while always expecting to see his face in the outcast and needy. Certainly not the least of these, I must worship and allow the Sacrament to work its powerful, loving transformation on me. In all this I must be open to dying many metaphorical deaths, trusting that Christ will raise me to new life. So, you see, I think being theologically monochromatic may just be spiritually dangerous. I fear and weep for so many who are shoved on either end of the spectrum, clinging to their assuredness that they have sole possession of God's absolute truth.
yours, Michael+

Posted by: michael cadaret on Wednesday, 3 August 2005 at 4:05pm BST

Michael, thank you for your thoughtful and respectful posts. I echo entirely your desire to know Christ better and to serve him especially in the needy and outcast. I have raised this question of TESM and the hostility it arouses from many quarters in Ecusa because I believe it uncovers - in its witness to the gospel - large segments of unbelief over central creedal affirmations. TESM is stigmatized as 'extreme' by some here, but I counter that in fact it stand for nothing less than central historic Anglican orthodoxy - and what's more, I am told by acquaintances that by English or African evangelical standards TESM is actually quite 'high church' and sacramental. If you know about Oak Hill in London or Wycliffe College in Oxford where Alistair McGrath is president, you would get their point.
In what sense does it stand for central historic Anglican orthodoxy?
1. In affirming the authority of Scripture in a way that most Ecusa seminaries don't. Most of them follow 'mainline historical criticism' in seeing the Bible as a human document giving a very fallible witness to God that must be 'corrected' of its moral and theological 'errors'. Carter Heyward, Bill Countryman etc are very clear about this. What do you think of a so-called theologian who calls the doctrine of the atonement 'cosmic child abuse' as Carter Heyward did?
2. In affirming the Creeds as truthful and authoritative statements of Christian belief. How often have you heard Ecusa called 'unitarians with mitres'? How did this impression arise? Well, I'll tell you - the failure to discipline Spong with his sophomoric heresies, even to the point of encouraging him. Only TESM took Spong on, with their book 'Can a Bishop be wrong?' Other schools gave him DDs, for heaven's sake!
3. In standing against the unbiblical use of feminine language for God (which J C Fisher seemed to be gesturing toward, or maybe it's Gnosticism) and for holding to the 'Great Tradition' of teaching on sexual relations, which VTS regrettably has turned away from. That is one reason why I don't think you'll be seeing many more Africans at VTS.
In the eyes of many observers in the Anglican Communion Ecusa is becoming a post-Christian sect - places like TESM and Nashotah are its best chance of maintaining its orthodox heart. And I fear that VTS will lose its heart as well unless it returns to its biblical base in enjoining traditional Christian sexual morality for its students and staff.
Kind regards.

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Wednesday, 3 August 2005 at 8:41pm BST

Is this a private fight or can anybody join in?
The 'numbers game' is like nothing so much as one little boy saying to another 'My willy is bigger than yours'.
Does it matter? More to the point, does anyone think it really matters to God, whether he is worshipped in one way rather than another? The important thing is that he should be worshipped.We have it on good authority that he values the service of sinners (and aren't we all, in our different ways?) just as much as 'righteous folk who need no repentance'. And yes, of course, I know that sinners are called to repentance. But remember the mote and the beam; shouldn't we each be concentrating on our own failings rather than our neighbour's? What we believe about God, I believe, matters rather less to him than what he knows about each one of us.
'He hath shown thee,O man,what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.' Maybe some of us could do with a little more humility.
Sorry about that, folks; I realise neither of the champions on either side will take a blind bit of notice; but I feel the better for getting it off my chest.

Michael the Reader.

Posted by: Michael B. on Thursday, 4 August 2005 at 2:55pm BST

Michael, I appreciate your posting, and yes, there is much common sense in what you say. It's some time since the debate on number started, but my recollection is that it all started because one side was being declared as a spent force with few in numbers, and this resulted in an opposing point of view!

Good to have a posting that draws us back to the fundamentals - that of following the Master, and seeking to obey what God reveals in the scriptures. Homosexuality has dominated the thinking on this and other similar forums (fora?) and I doubt that anybody's stance has been changed by the lengthy debates.

Homosexuality has been the focus, and spurred on I sense by some who have a personal agenda on this issue but who may for all one knows have little interest in Christian matters. Ultimately, it is a bigger issue than homosexuality. The main issue is (or ought to be) the place and authority of the Bible.

And here we have had very little help from the hierarchy in the church. The latest pronouncements by the bishops is a right dog's dinner, and only reveals an attempt at piety, as well as seriously muddled thinking! The reception their pronoouncements has received should make them feel exceedingly embarrassed!

Posted by: Robert on Thursday, 4 August 2005 at 7:15pm BST

Michael B: welcome to this conversation (not a fight). You're right in one sense: numbers prove nothing where truth is concerned, and true Christians have always been a minority in the world, and shall be until the Parousia, I believe. But does it matter how God is worshiped? Well, Jesus does tell us in John 4 that the Father desires those who will worship Him 'in spirit and in truth'. There is plenty of "religion" in the world, but we should remember Yeats' words;
'The best lack all conviction
and the worst are filled with a passionate intensity.'
Since the truth can be known - for this purpose, among others, Jesus came into the world - we must pay all the closer attention to the word of God, as the Letter to the Hebrews encourages us.
Christianity is not be reduced to moralism or busy-ness: it is relational knowledge of the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit. The word of God is given precisely to enable this relational knowledge, to guard us from idolatry, and to guide us in the kind of life that pleases the Father. To cast aspersions on the Scriptures as the Word of God written is to choose darkness and to turn aside from true worship and obedience. Anglicans are enjoined to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the Holy Scriptures so that by the comfort of God's word we will assuredly know what it means 'to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.'
Every blessing to you.

Posted by: Martin Hambrook on Thursday, 4 August 2005 at 7:43pm BST

Above in this thread, I repeated a rumor concerning corruption in the Ugandan Church. That rumor has proven false. There is no evidence that such was the case. I heard the rumor from someone I generally take to be a reliable source, and perhaps they are, but in this case not. My great apologies to all involved, certainly to the Ugandan Church.

Posted by: Charlotte on Friday, 5 August 2005 at 7:04pm BST

The struggle between liberal and conservative Episcopalians appears that the liberals will win. The liberals want to change the church, they do not want to break from the church. The liberals have aligned certain high officials in the church and official stand is liberal. That means the conservatives either must change the minds of the higher ups or break from the ECUSA. As long as Bishop Griswold supports the liberal actions, that is the direction the ECUSA will go. And as long as Bishop Griswold takes a position his subordinates must do the same.

Posted by: Marion on Monday, 29 August 2005 at 12:20pm BST
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