Friday, 9 December 2005

more about the Lake Malawi election

A lot more information about the rejection of Nicholas Henderson’s election is found today in a report by Pat Ashworth in the Church Times: Elected bishop is vetoed as ‘unsound’, for example:

The decision was not conveyed to Mr Henderson until he phoned the Provincial Secretary. He discovered that he had been rejected by a majority vote by the bishops of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, and Malawi. Five bishops are known to have supported Mr Henderson, who has had no contact with Archbishop Malango, despite repeated phone calls over five days.

The CEN has this report by George Conger: London vicar rebuffed as bishop in Central Africa.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 9 December 2005 at 8:47am GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion
Comments

"Given the “poisonous” atmosphere between “North and South”, the bishops of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, and Malawi have "erred on the side of" poison.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 9 December 2005 at 11:11am GMT

With the advent of the internet and its general accessibility, untrue and evil reports can be spread in a matter of minutes. Some users of the internet have nothing else to do but to bring the names of faithful and mission-minded clergy to the attention of the global community if there is even the suspicion of sexual misconduct based on rumors and inuendo. Then godly bishops are on the receiving side of abuse for, allegedly, having neglected their duties of episcopal oversight. The 'purists' expect godly bishops to be agents of the 'vice squad' of the local police department, monitoring the goings on in clergy bedrooms. It's disgusting!

Why are we all so hung up on the sexual conduct of a tiny minority of the population who exhibit homosexual tendencies? It is insane!

Sadly, the Biblical 'purists' pick and choose their passages of scripture which suit their obsessions. A person so obsessed with homosexual conduct, and reading scripture in the literal sense, will not tell his wife, who may be a professional, say, a physician, a stock broker, a member of Parliament or Congress, etc., to quit her public career in order to conform to St. Paul's explicit expectations of women as home-makers. Where is the consistency?

Posted by: John Henry on Saturday, 10 December 2005 at 3:00am GMT

Archbishop Malango: "Quite a number of people were doubting if Reverend Henderson is a man of sound faith and we have found that he is not, according to research by the Anglican Church."

And for "research by the Anglican Church", insert "smear tactics by VirtueOnline", apparently. :-(

"And blessed are you, when men shall revile you..."

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Saturday, 10 December 2005 at 3:12am GMT

Perhaps Pat (Ashworth) might tell us which bishops supported Fr Henderson. I understand that such dissention is untypical – so it would be good to know just who does not think that a case was proved against Fr Henderson.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 10 December 2005 at 9:36am GMT

I wonder how many here would be protesting if a liberal province had rejected someone as a candidate because they had links with Reform or Church Society or SAMS?

(Not that I can imagine that such a person would attempt to deny that they shared the views of the organisation concerned. But it is strange what purple fever does to people.)

Just to look at a specific province: how many liberal diocesan bishops in the Church of England have appointed a conservative as one of their suffragans? And in the case of Reform, there is only one (suffragan) bishop - Wallace Benn - who was appointed by a conservative (A-C) diocesan.

So all of this protest about Abp Malango rings a little hollow here in England. Especially since he has inquired into this with the support of a Commission. There is no such equivalent able to inquire into candidates nominated in England.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Saturday, 10 December 2005 at 11:07am GMT

Alan
Here in England, for diocesan bishops, we have the Crown Nominations Commission, which involves members who are elected by the various houses of the General Synod, to serve for several years and to represent the wider interests of the CofE, in addition to the members who come for that occasion only, to represent the particular diocese whose vacancy is being filled.
Why is this inadequate for you?

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 10 December 2005 at 1:26pm GMT

The Crown Nominations Commission includes some elected members, but it is heavily weighted by the permanent presence of two archbishops and their staff; and the outcome of their deliberations is neither subject to review nor to a genuine election in the diocese - only a farce at the cathedral where the chapter are required to vote for the Queen's nominee.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Saturday, 10 December 2005 at 5:03pm GMT

Alan ; the problem with Reform bishops is that they would have to be able to act as bishop to those parishes whose members they would hardly regard as Christian at all. Would many of them actually want to be placed in this position?

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 10 December 2005 at 10:16pm GMT

The CNC membership is detailed at
http://www.peter-owen.myby.co.uk/articles/choosing.html
As explained there, there are normally 14 voting members.

Two archbishops
Six from the diocese, elected by the Diocesan Synod
Six (3 clergy, 3 lay) elected by General Synod members

12 elected members, and 2 archbishops.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 10 December 2005 at 11:46pm GMT

MM - how many parishes in the diocese of Lake Malawi would want a representative of MCU as their bishop - an organisation which among other things has historically denied various articles of the creed and is currently espousing euthanasia.

Come to that, how many people in the diocese of Durham were asked if they would want David Jenkins as their bishop?

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Saturday, 10 December 2005 at 11:50pm GMT

Yes, Simon, but there is no mechanism for the names chosen by the CNC to be reviewed or scrutinised. The name of the "successful" nominee is announced from 10 Downing Street, and the cathedral chapter is legally OBLIGED to vote FOR that one name.

People I know who have taken part from the dioceses told me they were simply presented with a pre-approved list of names drawn up by the permanent staff and by the archbishops. "Like clones falling off the end of a conveyor belt" was how one woman put it. "You simply get what the establishment wants". And she got a complete dud as her bishop.

He was well-known as a dud. But once the name is announced, it is the end of the story. There is no way to challenge it.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Sunday, 11 December 2005 at 12:10pm GMT

Well, you did in Surbiton.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 11 December 2005 at 3:02pm GMT

Alan ; the procedures of the CofE are not particularly democratic.

But the parishioners of New Hampshire voted for their Bishop, didn't they?

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 11 December 2005 at 3:53pm GMT

As Simon S has already said 6 out of 14 members of the CNC are elected from the diocese which is to be filled.

Any one of the diocesan members can require a name to be put on the long list and considered by the full CNC. This in turn triggers the individual concerned being asked to complete a full set of nomination forms and supply referees. So that the same paperwork is available on such candidates as on those who are already on the lists maintained by the secretaries.

I suspect that the situation Alan Marsh refers to comes from an earlier version of the nomination system, when there were less diocesan representatives and no method of getting papers on additional candidates.

Finally, the term "a complete dud" is very often a euphemism for "someone who doesn't lead us all in the direction I want to go". I know all the C of E diocesans reasonably well by now, and although there are some obvious exceptionally gifted individuals I can't think of one who I would describe as a dud.

Posted by: David Walker on Sunday, 11 December 2005 at 6:20pm GMT

Here in Sydney the archbishop is elected from the floor of synod. I can't see why a diocese can't elect the diocesan bishop in England too.

Posted by: Obadiahslope on Sunday, 11 December 2005 at 8:32pm GMT

Personally I think that what Alan is describing is real.. The heirachy seems to be reproducing Itself, rather than reflecting the composition of the clergy and churches (especially the successful ones). I think the breakdown for Diocesans is roughly:

LibCath 40%
LibEvang 19%
LibModern 14%
ConCath 14%
ModerateEv 14%
ConEv 0%

Maybe Simon has some better stats, and comparisons with clergy and churches. But as far as I can see, candidates have to be liberal or catholic, "prefer"ably both ;-)

Posted by: Dave on Sunday, 11 December 2005 at 9:47pm GMT

No, Bishop David, I am thinking of the new CNC system in England, which is marginally better than the old one in thet the local diocese has a bit of extra representation. (Of course suffragan bishops are still nominated personally by the diocesan bishop in England, after a bit of pretence at consultation).

The comparison is with Lake Malawi, where there is a system capable of reviewing and if necessary rejecting nominations. This should have happened in the USA, where the NH election was subject to ratification by General Convention, which took the fatal decision to proceed with it. In normal circumstances an election requires the consents of a majority of members of the ECUSA HoB, outside the time of General Convention.

I can think of a number of dead ducks in the current English house of bishops, excluding suffragans. I won't name anyone here, but there are several who owe their existence solely to archiepiscopal cronyism rather than to any verifiable gifts or abilities, and at least one allegedly well-known to the prime minister, who regrettably still has a finger in the pie.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Sunday, 11 December 2005 at 10:17pm GMT

Hear, hear, obadiah!

Of course, a democratic vote doesn't *guarantee* the Will of God will be done.

... it's just more likely that way, than through all the *other* systems. ;-/

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Sunday, 11 December 2005 at 10:44pm GMT

Dave ; I ask again - how would a ConsEvo diocesan cope with the liberal churches on his patch, given that he would not regard them as validly Christian?

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 12 December 2005 at 12:30am GMT

As an American, I can't help but like votes. But I'd disagree, J.C., that it's easier to get the Will of God that way.

I had a bishop for a professor who spoke very highly of the selection process for bishops in England because of what he called a conscious effort to balance the talents of the bishops as a group: some preachers/teachers, some pastors, some theologians, some administrators, some visionaries/mystics. He contrasted that to the U.S. where people tend to elect all pastors. Not that bishops shouldn't be pastors, but he maintained (and I agree, at least to some extent)that the U.S. House of Bishops is poor in theologians, administrators, teachers, etc. as a result.

The Will of God, I suspect, has a way of working itself out in spite of, as much as in the course of, our best judgments.

Posted by: Anna on Monday, 12 December 2005 at 3:01am GMT

"This should have happened in the USA, where the NH election was subject to ratification by General Convention, which took the fatal decision to proceed with it."

Or Spirit-filled and life-affirming decision, depending on your POV, Alan. ;-/

"the clergy and churches (especially the successful ones)"

And how would we define "successful", Dave? A Christian standard . . . i.e., "one that gets you all-but-abandoned and crucified"?

Or a *worldly* one? (ala "exceeding demographic growth projections" or "capturing market share"?)

"What Would Jesus Do", indeed.

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Monday, 12 December 2005 at 5:33am GMT

Anna ; I think that is a rather strange way of looking at the British system of appointment. To think that God had anything to do with it is fanciful - its a political balancing act.

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 12 December 2005 at 9:22am GMT

Alan, you are continuing a "shorthand" explanation of the process for consents to episcopal elections in the US which is inaccurate: "...the NH election was subject to ratification by General Convention, which took the fatal decision to proceed with it. In normal circumstances an election requires the consents of a majority of members of the ECUSA HoB, outside the time of General Convention."

1) The bishops who vote for consent are always the bishops with jurisdiction, not all members of the HoB, which includes suffragans (who in the US do not have jurisdiction). This takes place _at_ the meeting of the General Convention but it is not a vote of the House of Bishops, and is not an "act" of the General Convention. It is a special case.

2) Outside the time limits which require consent from the House of Deputies seated at General Convention, the norm is consent by the standing committees of a majority of dioceses. Consent by laity and clergy of the whole church (via the standing committees or the House of Deputies) is required _in addition_ to the consent by the diocesan bishops.

Posted by: Tobias S Haller BSG on Monday, 12 December 2005 at 3:54pm GMT

Brother Tobias has addressed the unusual means for confirming Bishop Robinson (and eleven other bishops) at General Convention - unusual in that this is the canonical procedure when the election happens close enough to General Convention, not in the sense that this was a non-canonical or exceptional procedure. However, I think Alan also raises the question of how persons are nominated in the American church.

In fact, anyone can nominate a priest for election to the episcopate, once an election has been announced. I am not and was not in the Diocese of New Hampshire when Bishop Robinson was elected. However, I would guess more than 50 names were nominated. That has been my observation in the dioceses in which I have been present for an election. A committee is formed to receive and review nominations. The same committee is charged with first developing a profile of the diocese, and then of the characteristics desired in a bishop. Those committees survey their diocese, and wide participation is sought from all parishioners, as well as all clergy. The committee then reviews all names, including seeking background checks (required in the Episcopal Church). The committee usually identifies five names or so of priests who seem to uniquely fit the profiles they have prepared. It is still possible to nominate a person after the committee has released their report; but because the background checks are necessary it is almost impossible to nominate from the floor during the convention. The bishop is then elected in an electing convention of the diocese. After that procedures for confirmation by bishops, and separately by Standing Committees of dioceses, come into play.

No, the process of trusting the Holy Spirit to work in and through an election doesn't always seem to work out as we would expect. On the other hand, in my 25 years in ministry I've been pleasantly surprised more often than I have been distressed.

Posted by: Marshall on Monday, 12 December 2005 at 9:53pm GMT

"It is still possible to nominate a person after the committee has released their report; but because the background checks are necessary it is almost impossible to nominate from the floor during the convention."

Someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but IIRC, wasn't that how +Bob Duncan was nominated (and then elected)?

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Tuesday, 13 December 2005 at 5:12am GMT

Merseymike, I don't think that it's "fanciful" to suggest that God is somehow involved in helping God's Church select their leaders. I do think it's fanciful, to use your word, to suggest that a diocese voting for its own bishop is always the best way or the one most open to the Spirit. God can work through or around any process God's people create.

Posted by: Anna on Tuesday, 13 December 2005 at 4:12pm GMT

One wonders if the good folk of the Lake Malawi diocese will appeal to the Panel of Reference in this matter.

Posted by: Robert L on Tuesday, 13 December 2005 at 6:43pm GMT

Mike

A Conservative Evangelical Diocesan Bishop would care and pastor for all people equally as would any other Diocesan. We don't have two heads and cold hearts. We just disagree over what the Bible teaches.

What is staggering is that there isn't a single CE Diocesan Bishop. There are perhaps 1-2 CE Area Bishops - that's it.

At least your views are represented by a number of Senior Bishops in the HOB. CEs hardly have a voice in the HOB.

Posted by: Martinluther on Thursday, 15 December 2005 at 12:29pm GMT

Dear Mike

I agree with ML that a ConEvang Diocesan would strive to care for everyone under his patoral care. You are just perpetuating a prejudice when you suggest that we are less caring!

As for liberal CofE churches, my general observation is that they seem to be withering on the vine. I just wish that liberals would realise what an unjustifiable clutch they have on the hierarchy.

Posted by: Dave on Friday, 16 December 2005 at 7:36pm GMT

MM wrote, "Dave ; I ask again - how would a ConsEvo diocesan cope with the liberal churches on his patch, given that he would not regard them as validly Christian?"

Well, I know how it's handled in my diocese (Dallas, TX). More than one reliable witness has stated that our mainstream ECUSA parish is simply referred to as "no longer Christian" by the residents of Diocesan House (who are, not surprisingly, all "conservative," evangelical supporters of the AAC/"Network").

Posted by: Simeon on Friday, 16 December 2005 at 9:35pm GMT

Thought as much, Simeon.

Hopefully not for much longer, though!

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 17 December 2005 at 1:16pm GMT

Dear Simeon, If your church teaches belief in Jesus Christ, helps people to trust and obey Him as Lord and Saviour, and upholds the historical creeds, then you are a Christian church... don't worry what people say about you !

But being a mainstream church in any organisation is a secondary factor... As one CofE bishop recently said in Synod: "... what unites the Church ... is the faith of the Apostles."[rather than the figure of the Bishop]. "I would say that what we need first of all is bishops and everyone else acknowledging the authority of the apostolic teaching, and then we will not have the sort of fragmentation that the questioner clearly fears.

Posted by: Dave on Saturday, 17 December 2005 at 6:21pm GMT
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