Monday, 19 June 2006

InclusiveChurch letter from Columbus 4

Letter from the General Convention 2006: Sunday June 18, 2006
Columbus, Ohio.

IIt has been an eventful twenty four hours. Last evening there was a gathering to honour the ministry of the retiring Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold. It was a moving, humorous and respectful tribute employing video, music and drama to celebrate a remarkable ministry. Presentation was made of a book of reflections on reconciliation, ‘I Have Called You Friends’, published by the Cowley Press, and the evening was strong evidence of the spiritual heart of this Convention. One bishop afterwards said they failed to see how anyone present could not have been touched by the grace of God’s presence.

The ending of one ministry led today to the start of a new one. The election this afternoon of the Bishop of Nevada, Katharine Jefferts Schori, as the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church electrified the General Convention, dramatically moving the Windsor Report from top of the agenda. The news was greeted with unrestrained delight by the majority of the thousands waiting for the result who were also clearly aware that this is a momentous decision with wide reaching consequences. The Episcopal Church has become for some the scapegoat of the Communion and the election of the first woman primate will undoubtedly be seen by them as hastening the division that has been darkly predicted at the edges of this Convention. (Conspiracy theorists suggest bishops of the Anglican Communion Network actually voted for her to precipitate the break). Whatever happens next this election will undoubtedly change something of the chemistry of the Episcopal Church, many believe for the better.

There is no substitute for actually being here, and it is a pity there are so few of us here from the Church of England to experience the vitality of this remarkable church. Not everyone sees it. The Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, has commented on the resolution passed by the House of Bishops that opposes ‘any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriage or civil unions’, seeing this as evidence of a different religion at work. Following on from the Bishop of Durham’s intervention earlier in the week many people have questioned the prelates’ purpose, and how the Church of England would react to such direct intrusion from bishops from the Episcopal Church. The Bishop of Rochester preached at a eucharist on Friday organised by the AAC, ACN and Forward in Faith, at which we understand there were about eighty people present (Anglican Mainstream has the figure at 200).

Columbus is an unlikely setting for a gathering which is receiving so much attention from around the world, but what is happening here in these days is important, and in the right sense of the word, momentous. The overriding impression is of a church that is healthy, passionate and God centred. The commitment to Anglicanism is heartfelt, and it is worth repeating that the sense of Anglican identity is undoubtedly stronger here than in some other churches of the Communion. With so much focus on the pressures facing the Communion it is not surprising that there is so much introspection, but as the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Kenneth Kearon, today reminded the House of Deputies, the danger of spending too much time close to the problem is that we can lose sight of the big picture. Perhaps we all need to take a step back and celebrate the richness of the tapestry of God of which we are but a part.

Giles Goddard
Philip Chester

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 19 June 2006 at 7:11am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA | InclusiveChurch

Thanks for this opportunity to keep in touch with this important angle of the Anglicans in America.

Posted by: Bill See on Monday, 19 June 2006 at 12:37pm BST

'The richness of the tapestry of God': agreed. But such a perspective is predetermined by a prior (not necessarily fully examined) commitment to the ideology of 'inclusivity', whose self-contradictory and question-begging nature (inclusive of what? of everything? of everyone who wants? of everyone, even those who don't want? Who says?) is illustrated by the above post, which clearly wants to exclude certain approaches, and would only be truly happy to include certain individuals if they agreed to abandon the said approaches.

Practically anything in the world which has a definition at all is defined to exclude far more that it includes. That is what 'definition' means: setting boundaries.
Consequently, whatever word excludes nothing (apart from, say, 'the cosmos' etc) has no identity, does not describe anything real.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 19 June 2006 at 12:48pm BST

What is, is so blessedly diverse perhaps, that it also suggests that what ought to be, is similarly and even more fully diverse. The glory of God is a cosmos fully alive.

The lexicons & narratives of defining, first or foremost by saying what something is not, cannot be a comprehensive path for way too many reasons to list here. I've been passing round Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem, Pied Beauty, lately. A trout is not itself, mainly because it is not a flower or not an elephant. Nor does New Testament witness encourage us to rest safely and narrowly, only in a world of mutually exclusive opposites, one of which is always solid and full and real and blessed, while the other is simply an empty negation. Alas. Lord have mercy.

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 19 June 2006 at 2:33pm BST

Good points Christopher, but I'm afraid you'll make no headway pointing out the obvious. I found out a long time ago that liberals mean tolerant of only what they like when they say "tolerant" and inclusive of only what they like when they say "inclusive". I don't like the positions they take, but that has never bothered me as much as the Orwellian doublespeak.


Posted by: Steven on Monday, 19 June 2006 at 2:38pm BST

Re Christopher Shell's post & query got me praying and reading my Bible on inclusivity & the universal Hope of the Republic, Commonwealth or Queendom of G-D :

JOHN 1 : 3,4,7 & 9

JOHN 3 : 16a

LUKE 24 :47 ACTS 1: 5 & 8

REVELATION 22 : 1 thru 7

SECOND ISIAH in toto...

'Behold the mountain of Adonai in latter days shal rise...' (Malachi)

'Baruch attah Adonai eloheinu
Adonai Echad '

'on that day the LORD shall be One, and known as One....'

from The Jewish Liturgy of Shabbat

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 19 June 2006 at 3:37pm BST

"The commitment to Anglicanism is heartfelt, and it is worth repeating that the sense of Anglican identity is undoubtedly stronger here than in some other churches of the Communion."

It's nice to see at least two CofE-ers "get" us.

Not even us cradle-Episcopalians (of which I am one) "inherit" our Anglicanism: it's something we had to CHOOSE. We have to *love* BCP worship. We have to *want* to be formed by "Scripture, Tradition and Reason". We have to decide for ourselves that "the historic episcopate, locally-adapted" makes sense, in terms of our (forgive the redundancy) handed-down tradition, and (a *part* of!) our polity.

"Stronger" Anglican identity, indeed.

God bless TEC! :-D

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Monday, 19 June 2006 at 6:26pm BST

The great Christian hopes of 'the Lord will be one and his name one' and 'God will be all in all' are at the expense of the *exclusion* of everything either sinful or unrepentant. Whether that be obliterated, absorbed or whatever, it is still excluded. And that is a good thing, to anyone who has suffered its consequences.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 20 June 2006 at 12:16pm BST
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