Tuesday, 4 April 2006

more on the ECUSA HoB meeting

updated Thursday

Jonathan Petre wrote a story for the Telegraph on Monday, which was headlined US bishops set for U-turn on gay ‘marriages’. Then today Wyatt Buchanan wrote a story for the San Francisco Chronicle Episcopal panel seeks slowdown on new gay leaders Church to be urged to repent for electing Gene Robinson.

This reporting depends heavily on an email sent by one bishop, Kirk Smith of Arizona, which can be read in full here but which was not intended for publication beyond an Arizona diocesan mailing list. He has subseqently commented further in an interview with the Living Church Bishop of Arizona Calls for Civil, ‘Religious’ Discourse.

Some comments have been published by other bishops who attended the meeting. See for example, Jeffrey Steenson of the Diocese of the Rio Grande and Charles G. vonRosenberg of East Tennessee. Also Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh made this comment.
Update See also these comments from John Howe of Central Florida and from Duncan Gray of Mississippi.

The special commission’s report which was discussed at the meeting was also referenced by Michael Langrish of Exeter, as previously noted. It has been finalised since the HoB meeting and will be published in full, along with many other pre-Convention documents on or around Monday 10 April. That’s about a week away.

Meanwhile, Jim Naughton’s opinions on what will happen may well be a better-informed estimate than other reports.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 4 April 2006 at 7:45pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA

I wish the Bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande would tell me what '"the" homosexual lifestyle' is.

I don't have a 'lifestyle.' I have a life. Each of us lives our own life.

Rita Mae Brown lives hers. Louie Crew and Ernest live theirs. Gene Robinson and his partner live theirs. Martina lives hers.

My gay friends here in Virginia live theirs - as teachers, priests, engineers, hospital administrators, college students, parish administrators, government officials, church musicians, UPS drivers, college professors, food service workers at the university, rabbis, lawyers ... we're everywhere ... and we all have lives, not 'lifestyles.'

I do seriously wish that people like the good bishop would take the time to get to know us. But perhaps they are too busy with '"the" heterosexual lifestyle.'

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 5 April 2006 at 4:53am BST

Well said Cynthia.

Also that Telegraph article looks excessively journalistic to me.

"...which could save the worldwide Church from schism."? Er, hello? There's a difference between a difference of opinion, and seeking to go separate ways about it. You can live with the former in the same denomination, but not the latter.


"...the American bishops appear close to bowing to international pressure and shelving their radical agenda at a conference in June." Please to be showing me where this "agenda" is set out. Is the Torygraph trying to say that there's a document with a plan for world-church-domination by the new gay master-race or something? What makes me think the article author thinks of homosexuals as "other"?

Posted by: Tim on Wednesday, 5 April 2006 at 11:55am BST

Cynthia, you simply fail to realize that I, you, and all your "gay friends here in Virginia" are doing all those varied things as "UNREPENTANT SINNERS". That makes us all, qualitatively, different animals than those conscientious hets judging us, and finding us so very wanting...

Re the HofB: now I'm worried again. Are they really going to throw us LGBT Episcopalians under the bus, just to assure their tea-time at Lambeth? :-0

Going back to the ABC's "German Confessing Church" analogy: when will the *fence-sitting* TEC bishops realize, that by the time the AC episcopal-majority "comes for them, there will be no one left to speak up"? [para. Martin Niemoller]

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Wednesday, 5 April 2006 at 7:41pm BST

Pardon the impertinence, but a great number of the laity of TEC, hetero-sexual, tireless workers, and wealth-givers, will not tolerate an action by the HofB that dishonors our "gay friends". There will surely be Hell to pay if the purple shirts turn spineless to appease +Exeter, ++Canterbury, or the rascals lead by +Pittsburgh.

Posted by: John D on Wednesday, 5 April 2006 at 11:40pm BST

I found the comments by the Bishops greatly encouraging. There can be little hope if the all or nothing confrontation continues. The ABC is correct in that there can be no change in the Communion teaching unless there is communion wide agreement. Also he has stated that the sign of God's hand leading is unity and that is currently absent. The lack of unity, degree of rancour, polarization and name calling is huge and therefore indicative of the work of another force which will not bless the Church.

+Exeter's address was highly instructive and drew a line in the sand. If ECUSA crosses that line then ECUSA will be seen to have decided to walk apart and ECUSA will split with part staying a constituent part of the Anglican Communion and the other becoming its own sect. Eventually other parts of the AC might follow and we end up with the historical equivalent of the splits between the East and West or Protestant/Catholic. The determination of such walking apart will come from the Primates and the ABC seems to have indicated that he will maintain the official teaching of Lambeth 1.10, Windsor as reflected at Dromatine.

My personal reflection from what has been written, is that the ECUSA bishops are unwilling in some moderate majority to side with the agenda of those whom +Exeter categorises as those pushing the "prophetic" agenda for full inclusion through blessings and ordination of active homosexual persons. His analysis of the different communities as four groups was helpful to me. I believe that here is a middle ground that is being staked out which puts membership in the Communion the priority over unilateral change in the name of provincial autonomy. That moderate voice is committed to the listening process etc. of Lambeth 1.10.

I am one who for mainly biblical, but also according to reason and tradition supports Lambeth 1.10. I am of the belief that Windsor as applied at Dromatine gives a possible road map for the integrity and future of the Communion. I have taken hope from the recent letters from some of our bishops responding to the Kanuga meeting of the ECUSA HOB. I am in ECUSA (33 years) and before that was in the C of E. I have over the last two years spent nearly three months visiting an East African province of great vitality. They are apalled by the arrogance of ECUSA and even across denominational lines are devastated by the seeming blessing of immorality. The bonds of affection which we share and have shared historically are something that I hope and pray will be preserved. The impaired communion that now exists with in the AC cannot IMHO be of God. I have feared the worst and now have some hope of a voice and vote for moderation at GC 2006.

As to the question of an "agenda" - that is explicitly set out by the Integrity/Claiming the Blessing manifesto. It was clearly enunciated in the Reconciliation Task Force Meetings since 2003 - I was a participant in one of these.

I for one am prayerfully hopeful that ECUSA will step back from its 2000 and 2003 votes and seek humbly, repentantly, to renew the bonds of affection in the AC. The bishops of ECUSA can make this possible. The house of deputies can make this possible. The Anglican world is watching and praying against ECUSA effetually walking apart and then itself becoming actually divided.

If the division occurs then it will be irreparable in several lifetimes. The mistrust and real hurts on both sides mean that reconciliation will be hard (though worth the effort) if ECUSA pulls back. Any actual division will seal the separation not only into two sides but possibly two religions. There will be a hardening and entrenching of the positions already extant with those in the middle forced to make choices they are unready and unwilling to make.

Pray for unity, moderation and against a winner takes all attitude.

BTW the confessing church parallel was I think made in reference to those in ECUSA who conscientiously dissent from the ECUSA decisions of 2003 and to some extent 2000 General conventions. I and our congregtion generally fall into that category. We are not out to anathematize the homosexual though the current polarization has had the effect of people believing that. The Scriptures however make clear that Lambeth 1.10 was a correct decision and from that Scriptural basis we cannot move. The justice/righteousness of God calls us all as repentant sinners to come to the Cross of Christ for forgiveness there to seek new life in regeneration and the Holy Spirit for amendment of life. The encounter with the risen Christ calls for the pursuit of holiness which in turn means the rejection of immorality - hence the edicts of the Council of Jerusalem. To confess such in ECUSA has been to make us both a minority and all to often in some dioceses subject to persecution. That is the price we are paying and willing to pay because we stand as did Luther - we can no other. The Scriptures will not permit us to do so.

PRAY for ECUSA to step back and to take a more moderate attitude which will allow for further unity in Christ and the pursuit of Apostolic witness in an encreasingly secular western society that is hungry for authentic encounter with the risen Christ.

Posted by: Ian Montgomery on Thursday, 6 April 2006 at 11:02am BST

Well said, Mr. Montgomery. Thank you.

Posted by: Tom on Thursday, 6 April 2006 at 3:00pm BST

Ian Montgomery says "there can be no change in the Communion teaching unless there is communion wide agreement."

There was no communion wide agreement to Lambeth 1.10. It did not reflect the working party report, which acknowledged deep disagreements. Following Lambeth 1.10, a Pastoral Statement publicly apologising for Lambeth 1.10 was issued by 182 bishops worldwide, including the primates of Brazil, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Central Africa.

Majority and consensus are two very different things. Lambeth 1.10 was passed with a large majority. It was not based upon any consensus. Those who promoted it (and, particularly, the amendments to it) scorned consensus. It is those who treated issues in human sexuality as a form of party politics who poisoned the discussions which have followed, and we all suffer from that poison.

It is no part of the constitution of the Anglican communion that individual provinces or dioceses are bound by a show of hands by bishops at a Lambeth Conference once every 10 years. A completely different approach is required.

Posted by: badman on Thursday, 6 April 2006 at 3:08pm BST

Even if ECUSA's HoB were to regret, or repent of, having consented to +VGR's consecration as Bishop of New Hampshire, it would make no difference in the eyes of the Global South gang allied to the 'bully' of Abuja, and his fellow-schismatics in the so-called Anglican Network recognized by our disoriented ++Rowan Cantuar as a 'Confessing' Church. Cantuar seems to have forgotten that the Nazis persecuted gays and lesbians as well as Jews. The German Confessing Church Movement stood up for all the people marginalized and persecuted by the Nazis.

No matter what action ECUSA's HoB might take at GC 2006, it won't make any difference in the eyes of the homophobe bigots, who regard the current U.S. President as a 'godly' ruler despite the U.S. outsourcing of torture and the violation of citizens' constitutional rights with regard to illegal wire-taps. Their theology is one of 'contamination' - association with +VGR at HoB meetings as well as association with those critical of George W. Bush, who, in their eyes, has embraced biblical family values.

Posted by: John Henry on Thursday, 6 April 2006 at 6:08pm BST

Lambeth 1.10 - like other pronouncements from past Lambeths - I'm thinking of an early 20th century tirade against birth control and family planning - is purely advisory.

Part of its advice was for people through the Communion to listen to the experience of gay and lesbian Christians. That such listening happened is not very evident. It did not stop the Archibishop of Nigeria from being involved in supporting the continued persecution of gay and lesbian Nigerians by their own government.

And yes, Claiming the Blessing does have an agenda - how sinister - the agenda is justice and inclusion. I'm mighty proud of that.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 6 April 2006 at 6:41pm BST

I'm afraid Ian Montgomery makes the mistake, along with many people of his side of the debate, of starting with the principle that 'The Bible says so'. I and many, many others, DO NOT, when it is read fully and in the spirit of Christ, think that it does say what Akinola, Montgomery etc say it does. Read Jeffrey John, Keith Ward, Rowan Williams and, lately, Jack Rogers just for a start. The idea that there may just may be a very different AND PERFECTLY VALID interpretation from ones own just seems to be beyond comprehension for some people. All our ideas on 'what the Bible says' are incomplete and provisional before the eschaton. However, on this particular subject I hold my interpretation very genuinely. It is not simply ignoring what the bible really says for some stange wacky agenda I may have. It is a real, genuine and widely shared view of what the truth may really be like.

Posted by: lapsang on Thursday, 6 April 2006 at 7:29pm BST

“No matter what action ECUSA's HoB might take at GC 2006, it won't make any difference in the eyes of the homophobe bigots, who regard the current U.S. President as a 'godly' ruler despite the U.S. outsourcing of torture and the violation of citizens' constitutional rights with regard to illegal wire-taps. Their theology is one of 'contamination' - association with +VGR at HoB meetings as well as association with those critical of George W. Bush, who, in their eyes, has embraced biblical family values.”—John Henry

Agreed. So let’s stop pussyfooting around with these people and get out the ax, starting with Duncan.

Posted by: Kurt on Thursday, 6 April 2006 at 7:30pm BST

The vitriol is so sad, so tragic. I believe that following the statements of the primates and the ABC that Lambeth 1.10 is expected to be normative taching for the AC and as such ++Rowan has taken its discussion off the table for 2008.

The vitriol sadly makes me more ready for the division that may take place if the moderate majority do not flex their muscle. I cannot accept such statements as the "bully of Abuja" nor accept the idea of taking an axe to +Pittsburgh who is one of the most Godly men I have the privilege of knowing.

I am still praying for ECUSA to step back and to learn to walk in communion with our bonds of affection strengthened.

PRAY and do not spew venom - please

Posted by: Ian Montgomery on Friday, 7 April 2006 at 12:33am BST

Father Montgomery, I reject your *framing* of this issue on almost every point.

Can't you at least TRY to be fair?

"We are not out to anathematize the homosexual though the current polarization has had the effect of people believing that."

Well, the Inquisitors "burning the body to save the soul" thought as much, also: so what?

What you term "bonds of affection" were nothing but *bondage*, to the LGBT persons you made (out of your *prejudice*, and NOT for "mainly biblical, but also according to reason and tradition" justifications) to feel your moral inferiors. We've "read, marked, learned and inwardly digested" the Scripture for ourselves, and we LGBTs just *aren't having* your prejudice hung round our necks anymore! (and for that, you accuse us of "walking apart"! :-0)

I have little doubt that, in the short term, your anti-gay frames (biases) will prevail among Two-Thirds World Anglicans...

...but LGBTs, faithful to Christ, are THERE TOO. In God's Good Time, it will be *they*, not TEC, who demonstrate to their fellow Anglican nationals what TEC has (over 40 years) learned: gay and straight, partnered as well as celibate, ALL ARE ONE IN CHRIST! :-)

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Friday, 7 April 2006 at 2:37am BST

It is odd to read Montgomery's comments on Thinking Anglicans, although pretty common in some of the news pieces of course. His fallacy is thinking he represents the moderates in ECUSA. Perhaps "moderate" in some geographical parts of the country, but certainly not in these parts. What is it about full and equal participation by GLBT folks and women that these people don't get? Loving God and loving your neighbor - those will always remain the bedrock of our wonderful three-legged stool. Real moderates will stick with us as we continue to follow the breath of God - the CofE will follow, at some point. Sydney and the Africans too - it will take time, but i continue to have faith. Meantime, some continuing pain and heartache - but Jesus will see us through.

Posted by: Byron on Friday, 7 April 2006 at 3:23am BST

I find this kind of overwrought rhetoric extrmely disturbing: "Are they really going to throw us LGBT Episcopalians under the bus, just to assure their tea-time at Lambeth?"

The graphic violence inherent in the imagery is completely out of proportion to the discussions at hand which are whether we are going to pause or to continue on our current course without regard for the international consequences. A pause in our progress is not equivalent to a premeditated act of murder and I'm extremely offended by the suggestion that it is.

Posted by: ruidh on Friday, 7 April 2006 at 4:20am BST

Ian Montgomery,

Haven't you seen the Videos?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 7 April 2006 at 8:12am BST

Ian Montgomery writes: "I believe that following the statements of the primates and the ABC that Lambeth 1.10 is expected to be normative taching for the AC and as such ++Rowan has taken its discussion off the table for 2008."

++Rowan has taken Lambeth 1.10 off the table for 2008 because he recognises that this is not an issue that can be resolved by majority vote - not for any other reason.

He has expressed conservative views about whether a sexually active gay man or lesbian should be consecrated bishop at this time. However, he has never suggested that all teaching in the Anglican Communion should be in accordance with the majority view expressed in Lambeth 1.10. He is known to think that the resolution is wrong; because he himself voted against it.

Since his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury, he initially supported the appointment of Jeffrey John as bishop and, although he tried to avoid controversy by forcing Dr John to withdraw from that appointment, he approved his subsequent appointment as Dean of St Albans. Among other senior Anglicans who publicly teach against Lambeth 1.10 is the Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford, who is a Canon of Christ Church and, therefore, subject to ecclesiastical discipline. It has not been suggested by the Archbishop of Canterbury, by the Bishop of Oxford or, so far as I am aware, anyone else, that such teaching is not allowed.

I welcome Mr Montgomery's calls for moderation. I believe, however, that he needs to re-examine his own assumptions about what constitutes "normative" teaching if there is to be substance in his call for a "winner takes all" attitude to be abandoned.

Posted by: badman on Friday, 7 April 2006 at 11:12am BST

I think I give up! I do wish the discussion could be more about heterodoxy vs. orthodoxy rather than making martyrs of any group.

Is not Thinking Anglicans just meant to be that? Thinking from our very varied community. Perhaps I am to be excluded from the conversation because I cannot applaud either the agenda or the tenor of some of the conversation. I am clearly part of the "dissenting minority" in ECUSA. Perhaps I shall simply have to be quiet as the "loyal opposition?" I think not - the ordination vow I took under the BCP 1662 forbids that.

The vow I took asks: - " Will you be ready with all faithful diligence to banish and drive away all erroneous doctrines contrary to God's Word; and to use both public and private monitions and exhortations, as well to the sick as to the whole within your cures, as need shall require, and occcasion shall be given." I take that vow very seriously.

Clearly understanding moderation, albeit from an Evangelical point of view, puts me in a minority on this site yet in the Church at large I have not found that so, especially beyond the USA.

I think I shall not give up and will continue to PRAY for moderation and conversation as the way ahead if we can pull back from the brink of schizm from the Communion as I believe the ECUSA bishops have indicated is their desire.

Posted by: Ian Montgomery on Friday, 7 April 2006 at 12:31pm BST

Don't give up, Ian Montgomery, your contributions are welcome and it is healthy to hear all points of view.

However, "heterodoxy v orthodoxy" is not a helpful straitjacket to suggest, because no-one will accept that their prayerful, good faith, scripture-based, tradition-compliant and reason-supported views on human sexuality, or on anything else, are other than orthodox. Your prayer for moderation and conversation does you credit. Your persistent assumption that only your school of thought can claim to be orthodox, or normative, or in line with what scripture "makes clear", to take some of the language of your recent posts, falls a little way short of your ideals.

(By the way, the "loyal opposition" was never expected to keep silent. The point of the expression is to emphasise that opposition to prevailing views and loyalty to the polity hosting the debate are perfectly consistent with each other).

Posted by: badman on Friday, 7 April 2006 at 2:04pm BST

Ian Montgomery, please do not think anybody is excluding you from the conversation. If they were your postings would stop appearing and I don't think that would happen on Thinking Anglicans! However, I must take issue with your characterisation of the conversation (and long may conversation continue). I, and I would suspect many others, do not see this as you being orthodox and us being heterodox. I wish you could understand that people on our side of the argument really, genuinely think that we are being orthodox. We also can go along with the 1662 prayer book. We really believe that what we think is, as far as we can tell (and as I said before, all we think is provisional before God) not only not 'erroneous' but what God is moving the church towards. I'm afraid that we really do think we are being orthodox.

Posted by: lapsang on Friday, 7 April 2006 at 4:35pm BST

Sorry, Lapsang, but many of us Episcopalians stopped looking to the 1662 prayer book when we adopted our own--liturgically more advanced--American Prayer Book in 1789. As for the Articles of Religion, neither American clergy nor laypeople are bound to those formulations in any way. To us most of us, they are merely historical statements.

Posted by: Kurt on Friday, 7 April 2006 at 5:43pm BST

ruidh, I confess to using a bit of hyperbole ("under the bus" is a sports analogy I read somewhere recently. On par w/ a comment I recently read here on TA, supposedly about "liberals sticking the knife into ++Rowan"?).

At the same time, REAL LGBTs really do face that kind of REAL VIOLENCE in many parts of the world: as much as anything, TEC isn't acting on its *own* (U.S.) behalf---it's acting for our LGBT brothers and sisters elsewhere (all those places, where if they came forward to be "listened" to, they could face arrest, beatings, or WORSE).

Is my hyberbolic verbal violence more offensive than anti-gay physical violence, ruidh? (May I suggest a Gospel perspective says it's not?)

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Friday, 7 April 2006 at 6:57pm BST

Is my hyberbolic verbal violence more offensive than anti-gay physical violence, ruidh? (May I suggest a Gospel perspective says it's not?)

Did I suggest it was?

I'm merely objecting to parallels between a desire to maintain the highest degrees of unity in Christ and physical violence against those who some want to portray as the "losers" in this scenario for purposes of sympathy.

In reality, I have the very highest degree of support for our GLTB brothers and sisters. I will continue to speak out in support publicly, provide support and prayers privately while urging restraint while our international partners have a chance to catch up.

Posted by: ruidh on Saturday, 8 April 2006 at 4:33am BST
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