Friday, 12 September 2008

Lambeth: another Scottish perspective

The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church Bishop Idris Jones of Glasgow and Galloway has published his address to Diocesan Council in which he discusses the Lambeth Conference.

The full text is available here: Bishop’s reflections on Lambeth.

…The fact is that neither of the extreme positions if I can call them that can be expected to give up what they believe God has called them to witness to as part of the life of their Province. There may be a way through but it is not dear yet where it would take us - meanwhile we hold to the position that we are in pending further provision in the Communion to take account of the need for some enlarged thinking. Whether the proposed Pastoral Forum to take over the care of congregations that have chosen to renounce the leadership of their Diocesan Bishop can have any place in this process I personally doubt.

It seems to me that the issue is not that we lack structure but that the structure has failed to address the situation and when it has attempted to do so Provinces have simply continued to do what they wanted to do and ignored the proposals put forward by the Instruments of Unity. I do have an unease that at the heart of our Communion there is a lack of evenhanded dealing. It was almost as if we were trapped into a game of “my pain is bigger than your pain”. The approach of the Church of Canada about which we were able to learn so much more this year and which was praised for its theological method was completely ignored and brushed aside for example whilst and the interference of another Province in Canada where proper and full provision had been made for congregations who felt alienated remained un -rebuked in spite of it having been forbidden by the recent Primates meeting.

The Canadian Anglican church has a long and strong history of fidelity and development - it gave the Communion AYPA for example - and has been not accorded the respect that it should have. There is more than one way of destroying a Communion but injustice is high on the list of how to achieve it.

We heard much about the need to support churches in other parts of the world; but very little of the vulnerability of the church where society has moved ahead of the game in its provisions which is the position that we find ourselves in along with other churches in the developed world.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 7:07pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Lambeth Conference 2008 | Scottish Episcopal Church

Well said, Primus!

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 12 September 2008 at 8:23pm BST

"Whether the proposed Pastoral Forum to take over the care of congregations that have chosen to renounce the leadership of their Diocesan Bishop can have any place in this process, I personally doubt." - Primus of Scotland

It seems that the Primus of Scotland, like those of Wales and Ireland, is realistic about what the Lambeth process can be expected to achieve - in terms of real progress on the question of 'how do we proceed from this point in the history of our Churches in the Communion?'

The proposed 'Pastoral Forum', which is meant to minister to the various component parts of the Communion which think differently on the need for moratoria, would seem already to be at an impasse. This has already been thwarted by the action of the 'Dissenters' who refuse to be part of the Anglican Communion as presently constituted - on the grounds of their inability to 'live with' the theological view that Gays are part and parcel of the Church, and therefore part and parcel of God's call to ministry in the Church.

The ongoing question is: If the Dissenters refuse to meet with the requirements of their moratorium (as has already been stated in the various communications of the GAFCON members), how could one expect others to keep their part of the same call to the moratoria? One might ask: Does the Gospel have a prophetic edge, or must the Church be constantly oblivious of the need for change - on the say-so of a vociferous and puritanical minority of Provincial Church Leaders?

It is doubtful whether the rank and file of the Churches have been consulted on their view of the present controversy. Therefore it becomes all the more necessary to listen to "What the Spirit is saying to the Church" - the whole Body of the Christ we seek to follow. No doubt the next meeting of the ACC wil have a more moderating view of what the Communion's response to the present crisis ought to be. In the meantime, the witness of the Church suffers from the inertia that has been thrust upon it by those whose agenda has encouraged them to walk apart.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 1:31am BST

Another vote against the practicality of the Pastoral Forum - that's both sides of the divide then.

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 2:06am BST

Any Canadians around here who can verfiy the "proper and full provision had been made for congregations who felt alienated" part of this? I have heard of a couple of parishes asking for provision and alternative oversight, but the ones I've heard of were all refused. How can you have provision for the alienated if the people in charge just say, "Sorry, you don't need it."?

Sorry if that sounds a bit snippy, but I have friends in my American diocese that left after our bishop--who isn't definite enough on virgin birth, literal resurrection, etc. for them-- was named as a possible "overseer" in America. Foxes guarding the henhouse and all that, you know.

It would be nice to know that the system was working somewhere. Any info?

Posted by: Chris H. on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 4:44am BST

The BC parishes who walked out of synod were offered APO, but didn't like the person suggested. I can't speak for any others. We have three dioceses here, no parishes have requested APO. We've had four parishes in our diocese in which there has been some support for the conservatives, and two dissident parishes have been set up, I don't know their makeup except that they are less than 100 people each. I could cynically note that their "orthodoxy" is so pure they couldn't get together and form one parish, or that one of them is rather ostentatiously dedicated to St. Steven the Martyr! I have no idea whose authority they are under, but I suspect it's +Harvey. The four parishes that contained these network supporters are reportedly recovering nicely. The Essentials people here shot themselves in the foot with the underhanded way they organized.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 1:08pm BST

What precisely did the parishes request? If they were asking to be exempt from the possibility of discipline or where requesting to become a sort of peculiar, it shouldn't be surprising that they were turned down. Certainly at least some of the US parishes that have left have even demanded that the diocesan bishop change how the ordination process works for candidates from that parish.


Posted by: Jon on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 2:30pm BST

It's nice to see someone else saying what I've been saying and thinking for some time now about the Canadian church and our theological methodology! I am still convinced that the St Michael Report process is the best way ahead. And I continue to think that the real problem in the American church boils down to not putting the blessings/marriage question and its solution first.
However, when all's said and done, I think it's clear that the Anglican Communion is now irreparably broken and that the next Lambeth will be very different than any previous one.

Posted by: Abigail Ann Young on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 3:39pm BST

Nice spin, Chris. Where the process has failed (both in Canada and in the US) it has failed because the "dissenters" were determined to make it fail.

The clearest example was in New Hampshire, of course, where the one dissenting congregation insisted on a particular conservative bishop for alternate oversight. That is, they insisted on that particular bishop until the day that Gene Robinson offered them that particular bishop, and suddenly that particular bishop wasn't acceptable either.

This has been essentially the process whenever alternate episcopal oversight has been decclared a failure by the faux-orthodox schismatics.

Sorry. One cannot play the victim when one has committed the act of sabotage one's self.

Rather like the fellow who kills his parents then pleads for mercy because he's an orphan.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 4:39pm BST

Chris --

Only one Canadian diocese has authorized the blessing of same-sex unions -- New Westminster. So on the face of it, that's the only diocese where there might be grounds for asking for alternative oversight. And someone above covered New Westminster.

Let's be clear: in no other diocese has any step been taken that would justify a request for alternative oversight.

In this diocese, Ottawa, where -- despite a fair amount of noise -- only one parish has voted to leave, it did not so far as I know ask for alternative oversight -- as we don't bless same-sex unions and our bishop is married (to a woman -- as it's Canada, we need to specify in a case like this) with children, neither of the presenting issues is present. Other clergy have left on their own, and a couple of small groups are trying to get new congregations going, but that's different.

I note that, so far as I know, today there are no openly gay bishops in Canada, living with partners or not -- which is a change from some previous decades, though back then they weren't able to marry those partners (civilly) which, I would imagine, would be a minimum requirement for acceptance today. None of the conservatives objected then. Why now?

Posted by: John Holding on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at 7:07pm BST

Although no diocese besides NewWest has authorized the blessing of same-sex unions/marriages (yet), some bishops have ordained or licensed openly gay or lesbian clergy (and I congratulate John Chapman for licensing Linda Previtera, something Peter Coffin continually delayed and equivocated on). Certainly this would give conservatives qualms about the bishop's oversight, and potential grounds for seeking alternative oversight.

The trouble is that all the arrangements for alternative episcopal oversight, approved by the Windsor Report and by the Panel of Reference, fall short of a total transfer of jurisdiction to a sympathetic bishop, thus leaving the dissenting parish still "contaminated" by contact with the impure. Nothing is ever going to satisfy this lot.

Posted by: Jim Pratt on Tuesday, 16 September 2008 at 6:17pm BST

"some bishops have ordained or licensed openly gay or lesbian clergy"

Do you mean openly partnered, or just openly gay or lesbian? I thought there was no objection to the latter.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 16 September 2008 at 6:49pm BST

Jim and Erica

The two presenting issues are the election of married gay or lesbian bishops and the blessing of same-sex partnerships (in Canada that means civil marriages). Objecting to something else (even something "less") is adding a new ingredient.

Objecting to the licensing (or induction) of a gay or lesbian priest living in an open same-sex relationship would hardly be an innovation, here or, for example, in the CofE. It's now 30+ years since an openly gay, living-with-his-partner bishop was made dean of a major Canadian cathedral. It's several decades since a gay (married to a woman) and prominent bishop of the CofE was in place. Lambeth knew but did not object.

In Ottawa, Bishop John's predecessor licensed Linda -- who is married to her same-sex partner. Bishop John inducted her as rector of a parish. There was less fuss about that than about her licensing. The separators had mostly left before her induction, and many of them before her appointment.

Single (and presumably celibate) gay or lesbian clergy have been around this diocese for many, many years. I am aware of at least one licensed gay, married (to a male) male priest in the diocese at the moment (not rector of a parish, though).

Posted by: John Holding on Thursday, 18 September 2008 at 4:02am BST
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