Updated Tuesday morning
Initial press coverage of this speech:
Episcopal News Service Network meeting opens with challenge to Canterbury
Associated Press Conservative Episcopal bishop says Anglican church at crossroads
The full text of the Moderator’s Address has been published. It gives a detailed picture of how the ACN views itself and the rest of the Anglican Communion.
Here is the section about the appeals for “Alternative Primatial Oversight”:
First, there is the matter of the appeal of seven Network Dioceses for an extra-ordinary pastoral relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury, a relationship that most have described as “alternative primatial oversight.” After the Bishops and Standing Committees of the seven Dioceses lodged the request, the Bishops of the seven Dioceses worked together on a submission to Lambeth Palace which unified and developed the original requests.. This fourteen page submission, including appendices, was transmitted in the week of July 16th. The purpose of the appeal was:
- disassociation from “innovating” ECUSA
- spiritual cover through re-assignment of the tasks normally assigned to the Presiding Bishop
- recognition of Communion standing from Canterbury as required in the ECUSA constitution
- commitment to accountability under the Constitution and Canons as an “enduring” ECUSA, and;
- the creation of a practical “cease-fire” in the American Church such that the Communion Covenant process might run its course.
Needless to say, we are hopeful about the Appeal, if not necessarily optimistic. This is a kairos moment in the life of the Anglican Communion, especially as regards the evolving role of its leadership by the Archbishop of Canterbury. If Canterbury can find a way to recognize the spiritual legitimacy of the claim of the Network Dioceses (and of the Network Parishes in Non-Network Dioceses) – together, one would hope, with the wider fellowship of emerging “Windsor dioceses” — to be that part of ECUSA that has “not walked apart” from the Communion – that has sacrificially and faithfully stood for what is the Communion’s articulated teaching and for what are the accepted boundaries of its order – then Canterbury sustains and renews his claim to be “gatherer” and “moral voice” of the Communion. To do this, he must bring along a strong majority of the Primates and of his own House of Bishops, for he is no pope. But do this he must. If he fails, any hope for a Communion-unifying solution slips away, and so does the shape and leadership of the Anglican Communion as we have known them. Our prayers are with Rowan Williams now more than ever. It is a kairos moment, a crossroads of Church history.
From the BBC radio programme Sunday:
Inner Change Freedom Initiative
The Inner Change Freedom Initiative is a Christian programme aimed at reforming prisoners which has been in operation in Dartmoor since April but the Prison Service has now denied it formal approval and that means it will have to stop in October. The people who run the programme, the Prison Fellowship, believe it is being shut down because it’s too Christian and falls foul of the prison’s diversity policy. They have attracted some high level support in the Church hierarchy. The Bishop of Lewes, Wallace Benn, says the Chaplain General of the Prison Service should resign over the matter. However by no means all his fellow bishops agree. Edward [Stourton] talked to Peter Selby, the bishop of Worcester, who is the Church of England’s Bishop for Prisons.
Listen (4m 3s) (Real Audio)
Several reports of American bishops under fire:
Second, the Living Church has a report that the Presentment Against Bishop of Connecticut Moves Forward. This refers to an action which was last reported on 11 months ago, in August 2005.
And finally for the record, the Living Church reports on changes to the membership of the Title IV Review Committee. (Title IV of the ECUSA Canons concerns Discipline.)
Perspective is the title of a sermon delivered last Sunday at Evensong in St Albans Cathedral by the Rev. Dr. Francis H. Wade, formerly Rector of St Alban’s Parish, Washington, DC.
The full text is below the fold.
I am grateful to Dean John for the privilege of his pulpit. This is the second time I have been this fortunate. To be asked to preach in a great church is an honor. To be asked back is astonishing. I am also delighted to share this evening’s service with my Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Frank Griswold and you should be pleased as well. I have been asked to reflect on The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion in light of our recent General Convention. I did not know Bishop Griswold would be present and when I found out I had to take out about half of what I was going to say. So this sermon will not be as juicy but it will be shorter and that is always an occasion for thanksgiving. In order to deliver on that promised brevity, let us turn to the texts for this evening.
Job, the psalmist and the author of the Letter to the Hebrews all participate in a consistent truth about human beings : we are all thumbs and mumbles when required to stand before our God. Job (13:15 ff) switches from despair to an unreasonable confidence in God’s presence, “See he will kill me; I have no hope… I know that I shall be vindicated.” The psalmist (73:21 ff) is all too aware of his inadequacy before life and before the Lord, “When I was pricked in the heart, I was like a brute beast toward you. Nevertheless I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel…” And the writer of Hebrews (2:6) is reminded of the head-shaking question “What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals that you care for them?” This sense of uncertainty and inadequacy was true for our spiritual ancestors and it is true for us today. Our church at every level is being required to stand before God and deal with a difficult question: Is God calling us to a new understanding of human sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular, or not?
We have had a pretty clear view of these things for a long time but as is often the case such clarity can be maintained by blindness and exclusivity and their constant companions, cruelty and indifference. So the question has been raised. Not by a radical fringe group or those swept along by the hedonism of Hollywood or the ethical relativism of moral pygmies but by none other than the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops. I have never been to a Lambeth Conference but I do not think of them as hot beds of social sedition and theological anarchy. In 1978 they called for a “deep and dispassionate study” of homosexuality. It was largely ignored so in 1988 Lambeth required each province of the communion to reassess its attitude and understanding of homosexual persons. This too was widely overlooked. In 1998 the same body noted that faithful Anglicans are deeply divided on the issue. The Episcopal Church began its study of human sexuality at the General Convention level in 1964 and we are certainly divided in our views. Many individuals are certain about the answer. I am one of those. I think it is quite clear. But I have many brothers and sisters in Christ who are just as certain as I am but our certainties do not mesh. Many of us are individually certain but as a church we are corporately confused.
Why is it so difficult? It is hard to talk about sexuality. It is well within our private spheres and close to our identity. We in The Episcopal Church have discovered the error in the 1978 Lambeth resolution. That which is deep is not dispassionate and that which is dispassionate is not deep. We are also hindered by the uncertain means by which we come to new understandings about God’s intent. God does call us to new ways of being faithful. One does not need to read the whole Bible to see this, it is in the table of contents which is divided between two understandings. The New Testament presents the interplay between law and grace, the role of the messiah and the nature of the people of God in ways quite different from the Old Testament. In addition we have been led to new understandings about divine right monarchy, slavery and our thinking about the role of women seems to be moving into its final phase. God does call us to new understandings. But every new idea, even those deeply and passionately held by faithful people, is not necessarily from God. The heresies of the early church and the recent struggles against apartheid and segregation serve to illustrate this fact. And most of us would agree that the crusades were not God’s idea even though they were the focus of European Christianity for over two hundred years.
How did we get it right in the past? The two words that describe this process are slowly and badly. We are all thumbs and mumbles when required to stand before our God. And we have been arrogant and judgmental when facing each other in such times. That was true in the past and it is the case now. Final resolution has come when the experience of God’s grace overcomes the entrenchments of our humanity. It is experience more than logic that leads us into new truth or away from half truth. Christianity is not a philosophy, not a good idea or good advice, it is good news about a way of living in which we experience God’s grace. When we remember that our salvation depends more on what God believes about us than what we believe about God, when we shift our focus from how we think to how we live, then grace will have its way. That was true before and it will be true this time.
What do we do until grace overcomes us? Consider the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus after the crucifixion when the resurrection was just a rumor. They were talking about what they knew, what they had heard, what they feared and what they hoped. As they did this – when and because they did this – the Lord came to them and opened their eyes to a truth they fully realized only in the context of worship – the breaking of the bread. Note what the people did. They talked and worshipped, Jesus did the rest. As – when and because – we do the same things, the Lord will be with us and lead us into all truth.
That is where The Episcopal Church, the Church of England and the Anglican Communion are at this time – on the road to Emmaus. For all of its discomforts it is holy ground and the right place to be.
Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times that The example of Jesus points the way to a meaningful pattern of prayer.
In the Guardian Nicholas Buxton, a participant in the BBC’s Monastery series, now an ordinand at Cambridge, writes Face to Faith.
Also, Karen Higginbottom writes about graduates who don’t want to enter the corporate world finding their true calling in religion, in Keeping the faith.
Christopher Howse in the Telegraph writes about Archbishop Milingo in Zambian archbishop reclaims Korean bride.
This week’s Church Times has Jonathan Bartley writing that Christians are in denial on faith hate.
There is also a further report in the Algarve Resident this week, Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.
Earlier reports are here.
Bishop Geoffrey Rowell has written to the President of Latvia, Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, following the recent events that occurred in Riga.
See Reuters Latvian gay priders bombarded with eggs, excrement and the Baltic Times Gay bashers arrested after parade attack. And also this first hand report on commentisfree.
Update Wednesday evening additional Baltic Times reports here: Gay pride celebration marked by clashes, EU reps call for sanctions on Latvia and FIRE JAUNDZEIKARS.
Update Thursday evening
Thomas Hammarberg is the Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, Strasbourg. He has written this article about the Riga events.
Update Friday morning
The Church Times has this by Rachel Harden Protesters attack worshippers.
You have made it recently very clear that human rights lie at the very foundations of the Constitution of Latvia and that they are to be respected without any discrimination or restriction. Furthermore the Constitution also guarantees to the residents of Latvia the right to freedom of speech and assembly. I hope, along with many other Christians and people of goodwill, that those who threaten such human rights will be brought to account and that those attacked at St Saviour´s will be interviewed for the information they can give to assist the process of bringing unlawful behaviour to account. In our opinion, this is important, because its seems evident that the events of July 22nd were not a spontaneous protest, but a pattern of behaviour by organized vigilante groups who use intimidation and threats of violence as their tools. European history is well versed in such tactics and their consequences.
Within the Anglican community there are differing opinions as to the moral appropriateness of homosexual behaviour. However, we are unequivocal in our belief that the victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered toward people of the same sex is anathema to us and that, as children of God, homosexual people deserve the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship. The attack that occurred on Saturday was not, however, just an attack on homosexual people but a hostile assault on a varied number of people and on St Saviour´s church.
Updated 1 August
Episcopal News Service Committee set to review accusation against San Joaquin bishop
Living Church Bishop Swing Writes to Bishop Henderson
The Living Church reports that Complaint Alleges Bishop of San Joaquin Has Abandoned Communion.
Four bishops with jurisdiction in the state of California have asked a disciplinary panel to approve an expedited deposition of the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop of San Joaquin.
In a letter to the organizing chair of the Title IV [Ecclesiastical Discipline] Review Committee, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles; the Rt. Rev. Jerry M. Lamb, Bishop of Northern California; the Rt. Rev. James R. Mathes, Bishop of San Diego; and the Rt. Rev. William E. Swing, Bishop of California, are concerned that Bishop Schofield intends to “abandon the communion of this Church.” As one of the primary pieces of their evidence the four cite recent changes that qualify subordination under the diocesan canons to the Constitution and Canons of the General Convention.
At its annual meeting last October, delegates to San Joaquin’s convention approved the second reading of a change to Article II of its constitution to state that it “accedes to” the Canons and Constitution of the General Convention “to the extent that such terms and provisions” are “not inconsistent with the terms and provisions of the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of San Joaquin.” The four believe this fact alone is sufficient to remove Bishop Schofield from office without trial.
Title IV Canon 9.1 is reproduced below the fold (PDF original here).
A petition opposing this action can be found here.
CANON 9: Of Abandonment of the Communion of This Church by a Bishop
Sec. 1. If a Bishop abandons the communion of this Church (i) by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship of this Church, or (ii) by formal admission into any religious body not in communion with the same, or (iii) by exercising episcopal acts in and for a religious body other than this Church or another Church in communion with this Church, so as to extend to such body Holy Orders as this Church holds them, or to administer on behalf of such religious body Confirmation without the express consent and commission of the proper authority in this Church; it shall be the duty of the Review Committee, by a majority vote of All the Members, to certify the fact to the Presiding Bishop and with the certificate to send a statement of the acts or declarations which show such abandonment, which certificate and statement shall be recorded by the Presiding Bishop. The Presiding Bishop, with the consent of the three senior Bishops having jurisdiction in this Church, shall then inhibit the said Bishop until such time as the House of Bishops shall investigate the matter and act thereon. During the period of Inhibition, the Bishop shall not perform any episcopal, ministerial or canonical acts, except as relate to the administration of the temporal affairs of the Diocese of which the Bishop holds jurisdiction or in which the Bishop is then serving.
Sec. 2. The Presiding Bishop, or the presiding officer, shall forthwith give notice to the Bishop of the certification and Inhibition. Unless the inhibited Bishop, within two months, makes declaration by a Verified written statement to the Presiding Bishop, that the facts alleged in the certificate are false or utilizes the provisions of Canon IV.8 or Canon III.13, as applicable, the Bishop will be liable to Deposition. If the Presiding Bishop is reasonably satisfied that the statement constitutes (i) a good faith retraction of the declarations or acts relied upon in the certification to the Presiding Bishop or (ii) a good faith denial that the Bishop made the declarations or committed the acts relied upon in the certificate, the Presiding Bishop, with the advice and consent of a majority of the three senior Bishops consenting to Inhibition, terminate the Inhibition. Otherwise, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to present the matter to the House of Bishops at the next regular or special meeting of the House. If the House, by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote, shall give its consent, the Presiding Bishop shall depose the Bishop from the Ministry, and pronounce and record in the presence of two or more Bishops that the Bishop has been so deposed.
The Diocese of Fort Worth, which earlier had submitted an appeal to the Panel of Reference, and more recently had also asked for “Alternative Primatial Oversight” has now announced that it proposes to withdraw from the regional association of dioceses, known as Province VII: Standing Committee resolves to leave Province VII.
For the background on these internal provinces see this paper (PDF) by Lionel Deimel. This was written about Pittsburgh, which invented the concept of a “Province X”, and that concept is presumably equally applicable here.
Update a further report in the Living Church Fort Worth Dean: General Convention is ‘Outside the Faith’. The Dean of St Vincent’s Cathedral said:
…General Convention is essentially an illegal body now. They have stepped outside the [apostolic] faith.”
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We hope that this will all lead to more and better comments.
The full set of articles on this month’s General Synod at York is now available on the Church Times website, and each one is listed below.
If instead you want the short official version, the CofE website has two files here at the top of the page.
Dr Williams defends Anglican covenant
Marrying in church
Pretty churches in focus, as couples’ choice is debated
Draft Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure
Clergy Terms of Service
Clergy updated on their rights
Keeping faith with the city
Be prophetic, churchpeople are urged
Marriage and Taxation
Marriage disincentives decried
FE chaplains: ‘their time has come’
Prison discipleship programme
During the past week or so, lots of articles about ECUSA have appeared in American media. Here is a selection of them.
Steve Levin in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Mainline denominations losing impact on nation
Michael Luo New York Times Leaning Left, but Not When It Comes to Gay Bishops
Christian Century Division looms for Episcopal Church
Via Media Dallas An Open Letter to Bishop James M. Stanton
William E. Swing Bishop of California Communists, Counterfeiters, and Catholics
And a number of articles from the Living Church:
Day of ‘Cathartic Encouragement’ Falls Through. See also the LEAC press release EPISCOPAL ‘MELTDOWN’ ENDS LAY GROUP’S INDICTMENT PRESSURE ON ‘RADICALIZED BISHOPS’.
Gary Kriss No Longer Catholic
Jack Iker Bishop of Ft Worth Our Future in Question
Stuart Kenworthy an American priest serving as a military chaplain in Iraq has written about this experience: Dispatches from the Iraqi desert.
Pete Tobias who is a Liberal Jewish rabbi, has written in Face to Faith in the Guardian that “We must acknowledge that ‘scripture’ was written by fallible humans if we are to solve the Middle East’s troubles.”
Louise Mitchell writes in The Times about interfaith work: ‘Do unto others’ is only the first step on a long and gruelling journey.
Alan Webster writes in The Times about ecumenism in France: French priests put the cordiale into the entente.
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about an RH Benson novel in The palm trees of Armageddon.
Last week’s Church Times had this article by Marilyn McCord Adams: Waiting on others can stifle prophetic action.
This morning on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, the Archbishop of Canterbury was interviewed about the Middle East situation.
Women Bishops: A Response to Cardinal Kasper by Tom Wright and David Stancliffe is now available online here at Fulcrum.
Updated Friday evening and Saturday morning
The Church of England Newspaper carries a front page news story about the Anglican chaplaincy in the Algarve, which is in the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe: Algarve parish seeks alternative oversight. There is a further column, also by Andrew Carey, in the same issue, about this matter, which is now available, in an expanded form here.
The Diocese in Europe has issued this statement: St Vincent’s Anglican Church in the Algarve.
The trade union Amicus has issued this statement: Amicus wins pay out for bullied clergyman.
Friday’s Guardian has a report by Stephen Bates Clergyman compensated after ‘bullying’ by Algarve retirees.
Saturday’s Telegraph has a report by Jonathan Petre Sunshine parishes split as chaplain is forced from job.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued this statement:
Archbishop condemns escalating violence in the Middle East.
Ekklesia has Williams laments Lebanon vicious spiral of violence.
Read about it here.
Update and the feed notified me that there is now a press release about it.
Thinking Anglicans also has RSS feeds: one for articles, one for comments. On the home page look in the left hand column for the orange RSS logo above the two links.
Here is one Church of England diocese that is taking seriously the request of the Lambeth Conference and other bodies to engage in listening:
Listening for the Truth in Love, which was launched on 13 July, is a listening process. It was set up by the Diocese of Worcester Board for Social Responsibility. It is the result of a resolution passed at the Diocesan Synod meeting of November 2005 which set up a group to provide opportunities and materials to enable conversation about the homosexuality debate.
A pack has been produced that covers the topic from a number of viewpoints and is designed to encourage people to hold meetings to listen to each other’s experiences and opinions. The pack includes leaflets setting out different interpretations of Scriptures, personal experiences and materials for worship.
The individual elements of the pack are PDF files which can be downloaded from this page.
The Bishop of Worcester, the Right Revd Dr Peter Selby commented:
“This pack is designed to enable real conversation around the issue of human sexuality. This means a willingness to listen to different views and be open to new ways of thinking and new possibilities of understanding. We’re not expecting people to suddenly change long-held convictions, but we do hope that through listening there might be healing and learning for us all.”
What are other dioceses doing?
TA recently linked to a Church Times article by Vincent Strudwick. Discussion of the covenant proposals here and elsewhere suggests that not everyone has read the latest covenant document published by the Anglican Communion Office. This was linked on TA back on 22 May, but it bears repetition:
PDF copies of the document in both English and Spanish can be found here.
Here’s the concluding bit:
The Provenance of this document
This document was prepared by a small working party convened by the Deputy Secretary General at the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General. It was intended to inform the deliberation of JSC upon the proposal for an Anglican Covenant and was adopted by them as a basis for further consultation across the Communion. Since this is only a tentative and consultative document, the drafting group was deliberately kept small and relatively inexpensive, which meant confining membership to those who could come easily to London for two day meetings. The CDG mandated by the decision of the JSC will be a body more representative of the wider Anglican Communion.
The members of the group were:
London, 20th March 2006
There have been several interviews:
Living Church Bishop Jefferts Schori: Open to the Spirit’s Leading.
Back in June, PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly had a TV interview: you can read the transcript or watch the video here.
Tonight, CBS Nightly News will probably run an interview with her. British viewers of Sky News can also see it.
Update See Bishop Jefferts Schori: Take two
Update see article based upon the interview here. Also links to video clip.
In this week’s Tablet Richard Harries writes about The female mitre.
Yesterday’s Guardian had an interesting feature article by Natasha Walter about CofE schools: On a wink and a prayer.
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about the poet RS Thomas.
Roderick Strange in The Times has We must not stray from understanding the essential inhumanity of evil.
Vincent Strudwick wrote in last week’s Church Times about the proposed Anglican covenant. The strapline:
The Anglican covenant is about working together, not agreeing on doctrine. Give it a chance, argues Vincent Strudwick: ‘We need each other and our conflicting views in this task’
Please read the whole article.
From last week’s Church Times :
Pat Ashworth reports at length on an episcopal saga in Central Africa, Court pursues Primate over bishop’s aborted trial. She concludes:
…The Archbishop of Canterbury has no jurisdiction in Central Africa. But there is a right of appeal to him in the canons on matters of law and fact. There is likely now to be a two-pronged attack on Archbishop Malango: a secular court compelling him to set the trial down for continuation, and a call for Canterbury to instruct him to resume the trial. New legal ground could be broken.
Dr Williams has already indicated that he believes Archbishop Malango — who is due to retire at some time in the next year — should suspend Bishop Kunonga. In a statement to The Sunday Times last month, he said: “In the context of a prolonged and political crisis, the diocese of Harare faces intolerable strain in the form of the very grave and unresolved accusations against Bishop Kunonga. In other jurisdictions, a priest or bishop facing such serious charges would be suspended without prejudice until the case had been closed. It is therefore very difficult for Bishop Kunonga to be regarded as capable of functioning as a bishop elsewhere in the Communion.”
Lambeth Palace said in a further statement on Monday: “The Palace has been in conversation with the Archbishop and others in the province as well as with the Bishop of Harare. It remains our view that due process and principles of natural justice must be followed for the benefit of all.”
Attempts to reach Archbishop Malango failed this week. A member of the Lambeth Commission, he has been prominent in the condemnation of the Episcopal Church in the United States over same-sex blessings, and of the Church of England over civil partnerships. He has described the implications of these as “staggering. . . It will seriously undermine our ability to reach people for Christ across the globe.”
The hugely comprehensive coverage of General Synod in today’s Church Times is available at present only to subscribers. TA will link to that material next week. For now, the following items are available:
News Report: Synod hands women over to drafting group
Leader: One faith, one Lord, one Church
Columnist: If only the Church could make its mind up by Giles Fraser
The Church of England Newspaper is on the web today with numerous reports of General Synod:
Quandary ahead on women bishops
Faithful Cities report lacks evangelistic focus - says Synod
Commissioners want scrutiny
Synod’s Carbon attitudes lukewarm
Women bishops are justified
Archbishop criticises US Churchs legal processes for doubts
Dr Williams clarifies his thinking on the plans for a two-tier Anglican Communion
Church to double FE chaplains
Pensions plan welcomed
Synod debates merits of tax policy
Archbishop demonstrates that he has found his true home in York
Couples allowed to wed in any churches where they have link
Plans for freehold replacement unveiled to Synod members
Prisons policy defended
The Times mentioned the final day of synod in Ruth Gledhill’s story about Ndungane’s letter: Church must keep to ‘middle ground’.
Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph was able to report Give married couples an even break on benefits, says Synod. This pleased the writers of leader columns there: The Synod’s solid sense.
Updated Thursday - see below
As background to this question, the Church of England Newspaper published a news report last week headlined Prison ministry axed.
There was also a report in the Telegraph Prison service axes Christian course and an opinion item also.
The CEN article was mentioned during the debate on the report of the business committee, at the start of the synod meeting last Friday, and it also led to an additional question being raised, which was answered on Tuesday morning. There were also several supplementary questions. The whole sequence can be listened to here.
The Ven Alan Hawker (Bristol) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Q: In the light of recent press reports about the ending of particular Christian programmes for prisons, will the House of Bishops, in consultation with the Mission and Public Affairs Council, ascertain the facts and make representations to the Home Secretary?
The Bishop of Worcester as the Bishop to HM Prisons to reply.
A: I thank the Archdeacon and Mrs Ruoff who first raised the issue for the opportunity to correct the very inaccurate reports in the Church of England Newspaper about the ending of the Inner Change Programme at HMP Dartmoor. These reports suggest that it is becoming more difficult or even impossible to gain approval for specifically Christian programmes in prisons. I have consulted with the Chaplain General, who is of course a member of the Synod and with us this morning.
The Inner Change programme failed on five different counts to obtain approval under the Prison Services ‘Effective Intervention’ Criteria. For instance objective research on re-offending rates sadly did not confirm the claims made for the programme: experience of the programme in the USA has been mixed, and there have been concerns about its ability to integrate with general chaplaincy provision. Contrary to what is said in the CEN, the Chaplain General was not involved in the decision, which was made by the Area Manager after the usual panel meeting. The same panel and the same Area Manager have accredited a number of specifically Christian programmes including Kairos. Many specifically Christian programmes are approved and taking place in prisons – Alpha probably being the best known. The idea that chaplains have to sign a ‘multi-faith covenant’ is simply not true.
The Standing Committee of the House of Bishops is currently planning the agenda for the October meeting of the House and I have been asked by the Archbishop of York to propose an outline for a session or sessions on the criminal justice system. I am sure that the position of the Christian faith and practice in prisons would be part of that discussion. I am in regular touch with Christopher Jones and the members of the Mission and Public Affairs Division, and shall be glad with him to supply any necessary briefing if the Private Member’s Motion which has just been tabled comes to be debated.
The pressures in the prison system, with record numbers incarcerated, and the variety of religious faiths represented, present a hugely challenging environment for the Service in general and the Chaplaincy in particular. Despite these pressures, the Chaplain General has enabled the production of policies which maintain the proper balance between maintaining that which is specifically Christian and enabling proper provision for other faith communities so that the needs of their members can be met. I would wish to assure him and all chaplains of our support and our prayers in their demanding task, and Synod of the continued validity of Christian witness in prisons.
And Andrew has further comments about this on his blog here.
And, in relation to the Telegraph coverage, there is a letter from the Director General of the Prison Service here.
The Presiding Bishop has issued some personal thoughts in A Word to the Church.
Bruce Mullin has written at Beliefnet What’s Going on in the Anglican Communion?
The Living Church has published an editorial comment Convention Stumbles and Falls on Windsor Report.
The Anglican Communion Institute has published Our New Season of Anglican Maturing by Christopher Seitz, Ephraim Radner, Philip Turner. Reaction to it by Matt Kennedy is here. A further article by Ephraim Radner in response to Kennedy is here.
Tom Woodward’s blog has published A Manifesto by The Rev. William R. Coats.
PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE USE
11 July 2006
AFFIRMING CATHOLICISM WELCOMES SYNOD’S DECISION AND PLEDGES TO FIND WAYS TO INCLUDE OBJECTORS WITHOUT UNDERMINING FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES.
The Director of the Anglican organisation, Affirming Catholicism, the Rev’d Richard Jenkins, today welcomed the decision of the Church of England’s General Synod to press ahead with moves to admit women to the episcopate. The General Synod, meeting in York over the last 5 days, voted by substantial majorities to welcome and affirm the view that the development was consistent with Anglican faith and practice and to proceed with drafting necessary legislation for women to be ordained as Bishops. Synod also passed an amendment to endorse the view that those who oppose the move are equally loyal Anglicans.
I’m delighted that the Synod has voted so resoundingly to admit women to the episcopate. It has also underlined its determination to find principled ways to keep the minority who object to the move within the body of the Church. We will continue to engage in the process with charity and theological rigour in order to help craft legislation which admits women to the episcopate on the same basis as men, provides a safe and secure space for those who object, and encourages all of us to encounter and enrich each other in one polity.
In the run up to the recent debates, Affirming Catholicism’s theological group made submissions on the issue to the House of Bishops’ working parties and published a book outlining the Catholic case in favour of women bishops which was circulated to every member of General Synod. The Affirming Catholicism group will reconvene once the official legislative drafting group is created. Affirming Catholics in Synod (ACiS) numbers over 90.
Nine parishes in the Diocese of Pittsburgh have today issued a press release. You can read the whole thing here. It starts like this:
Nine urban, suburban and rural congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh today challenged the recent actions of the Right Reverend Robert William Duncan and the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. On 28 June 2006, the Bishop and Standing Committee announced their intention to withdraw from the duly recognized, geographically-determined Province III of The Episcopal Church, envisioning the emergence of a theologically-determined “Province X.” The parishes believe that these steps, if left unchallenged, could effectively remove the Diocese from The Episcopal Church. The congregations further believe that by requesting “alternative primatial oversight,” the Bishop and Standing Committee seek to remove the Diocese from the oversight of the presiding bishopelect of The Episcopal Church, the Right Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori. The parishes also believe that all of these actions constitute an effort to retain use of property which is properly within the jurisdiction of The Episcopal Church while withdrawing from The Episcopal Church.
The diocese has responded with its own press release. It says in part:
…“There continues to be confusion about the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh’s status in the Episcopal Church,” said Bishop Duncan, “I will say again what we have been saying for months now. We have no plans to be anything but faithful, orthodox, Anglican-Communion-bound Episcopalians, today, tomorrow and the day after that. We are the Episcopal Church in this place and we are going to continue being what we always have been.”
Bishop Duncan went on to note that the June 28 decisions of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Standing Committee did not bring the diocese outside of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church in any way. Instead, they simply served to make clear the diocese’s firm intention, expressed by overwhelming margins at numerous diocesan conventions, to remain a “constituent” member of the Anglican Communion, even while much of the Episcopal Church continues choosing a path that is breaking that bond…
Press coverage of this:
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steve Levin Nine Episcopal parishes don’t want new province
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Craig Smith 9 parishes may go to court (This headline directly contradicts what was said at the press conference according to Levin in the P-G; the diocesan statistics are quoted differently too)
Claim: That the experience of Missouri provides a precedent for withdrawing from a province of the Episcopal Church.
Fact: Article VII of the Constitution of The Episcopal Church does require that a diocese agree to its placement in a particular province. Pittsburgh did agree to being in Province III. The canons of The Episcopal Church specify the assignment of each diocese to a province. There is no provision for withdrawing from a province, only for transferring to another existing province. Missouri was originally in Province VII, which includes most of the Southwest. In the 1960s, Missouri decided that it had little in common with dioceses in that geographical area and would fit better in a more Midwestern region. It stopped participating but did not try to withdraw formally from Province VII. This situation helped encourage General Convention to pass a canonical change specifying a means by which a diocese could transfer to another province. Missouri then followed the specified procedure to transfer to Province V, which includes much of the Midwest.
A much lengthier discussion of all this by Lionel Deimel can be found in An Appraisal of the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s “Withdrawal” of Consent to Inclusion in Province III (PDF format).
The Nation now reports that Malango rules out Henderson return:
The office of the Anglican Archbishop of Central Africa in Zomba has indicated that the decision to order Bishop James Mwenda to return to Zambia does not mean giving a chance for rejected British clergyman Paul Nicholas Henderson to head the Diocese of Lake Malawi.
Provincial Secretary Eston Pembamoyo said Monday Mwenda had to leave the country to allow for neutral discussions between Anglican bishops in Malawi and the laity of the Lake Malawi on the way forward.
Pembamoyo ruled out the possibility of reconsidering the diocese’s first choice, Henderson, who was rejected following allegations that he supported gay activities in the United Kingdom.
“Henderson’s case is a closed chapter. There is no way we can start discussing him again,” said Pembamoyo…
ACNS reports that the Archbishop of Cape Town, Njongonkulu Ndungane, has written a lengthy reflection on the nature of Anglicanism, and what it means to be an Anglican. The reflection is addressed to his fellow Primates. Here are a few snippets from the early paragraphs:
What does it mean to be Anglican? What is it about Anglicanism that has led so many to conclude that it provides the most productive spiritual soil for living out the Christian faith? What is it that we have, which we dare not lose?
Archbishop Rowan offers his own description of our distinctive Christian inheritance…
It is indeed within the territory encompassed by these strands that I find my own experience and understanding of Christianity. These describe the rich heartlands of Anglicanism — the solid centre, focussed on Jesus Christ, to which we are constantly drawn back by the counterbalancing pull of the other strands, if any one threatens to become disproportionately influential.
These Anglican heartlands are the subject of my reflections — the historic fertile middle ground, which is in danger of being forgotten amid polarising arguments and talk of schism.
The ACNS summary is included below the fold. The full reflection by Archbishop Ndungane is here.
‘Heartlands of Anglicanism’ — Archbishop of Cape Town Promotes Middle Ground
The Archbishop of Cape Town has written to the Primates of the Anglican Communion issuing a strong call to uphold the ’ broad rich heartlands of our Anglican heritage.’ He argues that this must be ‘the territory on which we debate our future.’ He adds ‘it is not something to be fought out at the limits of conservatism or liberalism, as if they were the only possibilities before us. ’
In a lengthy reflection on what it is to be Anglican, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane declares, ‘we cannot lose this middle ground.’ He argues that the central core of Anglican tradition is not bland or shallow, but offers ‘productive spiritual soil.’ He refutes any suggestion that embracing the middle ground means ‘anything goes.’ Rather, he affirms uncompromising dedication and obedience to the heart of faith, as it is lived under the authority of Scripture, of Church order and structures, and of Christian tradition.
His call follows the recent ‘profound and stimulating reflections’ by the Archbishop of Canterbury, ‘The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today.’ In responding, the Archbishop of Cape Town asks ‘What does it mean to be Anglican?’ and affirms Archbishop Rowan’s description of the fundamental character of Anglicanism as combining the best of both catholic and reformed tradition, which together inform mature engagement with contemporary culture. He contends that any authentic solution to current differences within the Anglican Communion must preserve these strengths.
He also argues that the best means of finding such a solution is to proceed in a characteristically Anglican way: in a spirit of tolerance, trust and charity, and through the existing structures of the Communion. Acknowledging that these have evolved over time to serve changing needs, he now calls for their ’ renewal, transformation and revision’ rather than ‘radical replacement,’ so as to preserve their strengths. He points out that legal authority rests with the synodical processes of Provinces, and calls for fuller engagement of clergy and laity in the current debate, which he says will inevitably be lengthy.
Archbishop Ndungane speaks of ‘creative and dynamic diversity’ within his own personal faith, as well as at every level of Anglicanism. He illustrates this by reflecting on experiences within Southern Africa, from which he also demonstrates that decisions to exist separately can leave a lasting and difficult legacy.
He offers a fresh understanding of what it means to live within tradition, not seeing it as ‘dry history’ but rather as ‘holy remembering’ through which we ‘find our place of participation within the unfolding narrative of God’s redeeming acts.’
The Archbishop does not propose specific solutions. Instead, he writes that his intention is to help Anglicans be faithful to what God has done in the past, and so preserve and pass on the best of that heritage — and that he believes that holding on to the middle ground, the Heartlands of Anglicanism, is the best way of achieving this.
- ENDS -
For further information, please contact Penny Lorimer, Media Liaison for Archbishop Ndungane on +27 82 894-1522
Synod ended its July sessions at 11.20 this morning. As your correspondent leaves the University of York the official report of the morning’s business is not yet available, so for the record here is the motion passed by Synod nem con on a show of hands. The business was entitled “Married Couple’s Tax Allowance”, although the motion was heavily amended to make it more general.
That this Synod, wishing to reaffirm the importance of marriage as central to the stability and health of society and the best context in which to bring up children
(a) reaffirm its own priority of supporting family life (including the work of the Mothers’ Union and FLAME) and encouraging more couples to affirm their commitment and love to each other in marriage; and
(b) call upon Her Majesty’s Government to do the same, in all ways open to it and in particular by removing the considerable financial penalties placed on marriage by the tax and benefit system.
Update The official report of the morning’s business is now available here.
Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph has New Church effort on women bishops
Ruth Gledhill in The Times has Synod vote on women clergy is setback for traditionalists
Matthew Davies for Episcopal News Service has a detailed report of the debate in Church of England begins long process toward ordaining women bishops
Michael Brown reporting for the Yorkshire Post concentrates on one single speech in Leading Yorkshire cleric attacks bishops over women’s ordination.
The official report is here. This will be updated following the evening session.
Paul Roberts has written about this morning’s debate here: General Synod - Monday.
Stephen Bates has also written: Going round in circles.
The two major contributions of the Archbishop of Canterbury to today’s debate on women bishops can be found on his own website:
Speech given moving item 14 on Women in the Episcopate at the Church of England’s General Synod
Closing Speech on item 14 (as amended) on Women in the Episcopate at the Church of England’s General Synod
For audio links go here.
Reactions have already come from Forward in Faith, and from WATCH. The latter is a PDF file, so is reproduced below the fold.
10th July 2006 for immediate release
SYNOD TAKES ANOTHER STEP TOWARDS WOMEN BISHOPS
Today a packed General Synod debated the legal and practical framework as the Church of England moves towards having women bishops. On Saturday, two days ago, Synod affirmed the principle that women should be bishops in the Church of England, an issue it has been debating for nearly thirty years. In today’s debate the Archbishop of Canterbury urged the Synod to pass the motion in his name inviting continued debate and reflection on the subject of women as bishops, and the setting up of a legislative drafting group to make the necessary legal and other arrangements. In his summing-up speech the Archbishop strongly affirmed the contributions made by
women priests over the last twelve years.
Christina Rees, Chair of WATCH, said “Today’s vote is very good news. This vote indicates the widespread acceptance of women’s orders and the reception of women ministering at all levels in the ordained ministry of the Church of England. The wheels are now turning and, at long last, we can look forward to having women as bishops within the next few years.”
Today’s motion was passed by an overwhelming majority of Synod members. The mood in Synod was clearly to move forward. Only three out of eight amendments were passed, one of which affirmed the church’s Canon Law A4. This states that all who have been lawfully ordained as deacons, priests and bishops in the Church of
England should be recognised as such by its members.
Christina Rees (Chair) Hilary Cotton (Vice-Chair)
Tel: 01763-848-822 Tel: 01483–856-827
Mob: 07768-051-646 Charles Read (Vice Chair)
eMail: Christina@MediaMaxima.com Tel: 0191-334-3885
The Nation has a report by Juliet Chimwaga Mwenda kicked out, heads back home.
Anglican Bishop James Mwenda at the centre of a controversy over the headship of the Diocese of Lake Malawi is going back home in Zambia, the church’s Archbishop Bernard Malango confirmed Sunday.
But Malango could not give further details on the development, saying he would issue a press statement Monday…
The official report of this morning’s business is available here.
Having voted in favour of the principle of having women bishops on Saturday, Synod today spent all morning debating the process for bringing this about. Several amendments, three of which were accepted, were proposed to the original motion. The motion refers to Canon A4, and the text of this is given below the motion and result of the final vote. Details of the original motion and the amendments are below the fold.
The motion as put to Synod (with text added by amendments shown in bold) was.
That this Synod, endorsing Resolution 111.2 of the Lambeth Conference 1998 “that those who dissent from, as well as those who assent to the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans” and believing that the implications of admitting women to the episcopate will best be discerned by continuing to explore in detail the practical and legislative arrangements:
(a) invite dioceses, deaneries and parishes to continue serious debate and reflection on the theological, practical, ecumenical and missiological aspects of the issue;
(b) invite the Archbishops’ Council, in consultation with the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops and the Appointments Committee, to secure the early appointment of a legislative drafting group, which will aim to include a significant representation of women in the spirit of Resolution 13/31 of the Anglican Consultative Council passed in July 2005, charged with:
(i) preparing the draft measure and amending canon necessary to remove the legal obstacles to the consecration of women to the office of bishop;
(ii) preparing a draft of possible additional legal provision consistent with Canon A4 to establish arrangements that would seek to maintain the highest possible degree of communion with those conscientiously unable to receive the ministry of women bishops;
(iii) submitting the results of its work to the House of Bishops for consideration and submission to Synod; and
(c) instruct the Business Committee to make time available, before first consideration of the draft legislation, for the Synod to consider, in the light of any views expressed by the House of Bishops, the arrangements proposed in the drafting group’s report.
The motion, as amended, was carried on a show of hands.
A 4 Of the Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons
The Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, annexed to The Book of Common Prayer and commonly known as the Ordinal, is not repugnant to the Word of God; and those who are so made, ordained, or consecrated bishops, priests, or deacons, according to the said Ordinal, are lawfully made, ordained, or consecrated, and ought to be accounted, both by themselves and others, to be truly bishops, priests, or deacons.
Text of original motion and amendments
The Archbishop of Canterbury moved:
14. That this Synod, believing that the implications of admitting women to the episcopate will best be discerned by continuing to explore in detail the practical and legislative arrangements:
(a) invite dioceses, deaneries and parishes to continue serious debate and reflection on the theological, practical, ecumenical and missiological aspects of the issue;
(b) invite the Archbishops’ Council, in consultation with the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops and the Appointments Committee, to secure the early appointment of a legislative drafting group charged with:
(i) preparing the draft measure and amending canon necessary to remove the legal obstacles to the consecration of women to the office of bishop;
(ii) preparing a draft of possible additional legal provision to establish arrangements that would seek to maintain the highest possible degree of communion with those conscientiously unable to receive the ministry of women bishops;
(iii) submitting the results of its work to the House of Bishops for consideration and submission to Synod; and
(c) instruct the Business Committee to make time available, before first consideration of the draft legislation, for the Synod to consider, in the light of any views expressed by the House of Bishops, the arrangements proposed in the drafting group’s report.
Preb David Houlding (London) moved as an amendment:
21. After the words “this Synod,” insert the words “endorsing Resolution 111.2 of the Lambeth Conference 1998 “that those who dissent from, as well as those who assent to the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans” and”.
Item 21 was carried by 209 votes in favour to 166 against.
Sister Anne Williams (Durham) moved as an amendment:
22. At the end of paragraph (a) insert the words “with particular reference to the Rochester Commission Report (Women Bishops in the Church of England?) and GS Misc 827 (Resources for Reflection)”.
Item 22 was defeated on a show of hands.
The Ven Jonathan Greener (Wakefield) moved as an amendment:
23. Leave out paragraphs (b) and (c) and insert as a new paragraph (b):
“(b) refer the matter back to the House of Bishops for further consideration, until such time as they can propose arrangements that maintain the highest possible degree of communion with those conscientiously unable to receive the ministry of women bishops;”
Item 23 was defeated on a show of hands.
Canon Cynthia Dowdle (Liverpool) moved as an amendment:
24. In paragraph (b) after the words “legislative drafting group” insert the words “, which will aim to include a significant representation of women in the spirit of Resolution 13/31 of the Anglican Consultative Council passed in July 2005,”.
Item 24 was carried on a show of hands.
The Ven Arthur Hawes (Lincoln) moved as an amendment:
25. In paragraph (b)(ii) leave out the words “of possible additional legal provision to establish arrangements that would seek to” and insert the words “Code of Practice in order to”.
Item 25 was defeated on a show of hands.
The Revd Paul Benfield (Blackburn) moved as an amendment:
26. In paragraph (b)(ii) leave out the words “a draft” and insert the words “drafts” and leave out the word “provision” and insert the word “provisions”.
Item 26 was defeated by 157 votes in favour to 192 votes against.
Canon Jane Sinclair (Sheffield) moved as an amendment:
27. In paragraph (b)(ii) after the word “provision” (or “provisions” as the case the case may be) insert the words “consistent with Canon A4”.
Item 27 was carried following a vote by houses - details below.
The Revd Jeremy Crocker (St Albans) to move as an amendment:
28. In paragraph (b)(iii) after the words “submission to Synod” insert the words “by February 2007”.
Item 28 was defeated on a show of hands.
A letter appears in the Independent newspaper this morning. You can read it here, but the format makes it difficult. The text is therefore reproduced below. The newspaper does not list all the signatories, so they are listed in full below.
Sir: We write to add our voice to the public debate on the issue of the maintenance and renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons programme demanded by the House of Commons Defence Committee. We urge MPs seriously to consider our views when they come to a formal debate in the House and take part in any subsequent vote.
Whatever our various views on conventional warfare, we all agree that Just War arguments rule out the use of nuclear weapons and such weapons challenge the very core of Judeo-Christian Faith where humanity is given responsibility for the stewardship of God’s creation. But there are also practical, moral and economic objections to the basic concept of having a deterrent.
Practical because a deterrent is only effective if a potential enemy knows for certain it will be used. But the use of nuclear weapons would not be an option for us, as that would be nothing less than the mass murder of thousands if not tens of thousands of innocent civilians. The resultant fall-out from a tactical or battlefield weapon could not be confined to a particular area.
Moral because it is morally corrupting to threaten the use of weapons of mass destruction even when there is no real intention of using them.
Economic because the use of limited resources on WMDs diverts those resources from education, health and aid to those who are the poorest and most in need.
Humanity has the power to make or mar this planet. Current concern over global warming and the environment, as well as poverty and debt among the world’s most vulnerable people, demonstrate the need to re-engage with the task of caring for the world and its people.
Human dignity and freedom are foundation values for all people. Humanity has a right to live in dignity and freedom without fear. Trident and other nuclear arsenals threaten long-term and fatal damage to the global environment and its peoples. As such their end is evil and both possession and use profoundly anti-God acts.
Nuclear weapons are a direct denial of the Christian concept of peace and reconciliation, which are social and economic as well as physical and spiritual. The Christian Gospel is one of hope, enabling humanity to live in harmony with itself and nature and leading to prosperity and community life marked by joy.
At the Gleneagles summit a year ago the G8 pledged to “Make Poverty History” and to end the debt burden on the world’s poorest countries. The costs involved in the maintenance and replacement of Trident could be used to address pressing environmental concerns, the causes of terrorism, poverty and debt, and enable humanity and dignity to be the right of all, and would go a long way towards helping Make Poverty History.
RT REVD PETER PRICE, BISHOP OF BATH AND WELLS;
RT REVD COLIN BENNETTS, BISHOP OF COVENTRY
RT REVD MICHAEL HILL, BISHOP OF BRISTOL
RT REVD RICHARD LEWIS, BISHOP OF EDMUNSBURY AND IPSWICH
RT REVD JOHN SAXBEE, BISHOP OF LINCOLN
RT REVD TIMOTHY STEVENS, BISHOP OF LEICESTER
RT REVD JACK NICHOLLS, BISHOP OF SHEFFIELD
RT REV DR DAVID JAMES, BISHOP OF BRADFORD
AND 12 SUFFRAGAN BISHOPS
The suffragans are:
Stephen Lowe, Hulme
Stephen Cottrell, Reading
David Hawkins, Barking
Peter Broadbent, Willesden
James Langstaff, Lynn
David Rossdale, Grimsby
Ian Brackley, Dorking
James Bell, Knaresborough
Michael Lewis, Middleton
Graham Cray, Maidstone
Nicholas Baines, Croydon
Richard Inwood, Bedford
Michael Brown in the Yorkshire Post has Synod vote paves way for women bishops.
Stephen Bates in the Guardian reported that Terrorists are blasphemous, says archbishop.
Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph has Church accused of £100m asset stripping.
Robert Pigott at the BBC says Challenges continue over women bishops
The official report is here.
Ruth Gledhill’s blog entry is here.
General Synod members are invited to the Sung Eucharist at York Minster on the Sunday morning of its meeting at York, and most go. The Archbishop of Canterbury preached this sermon at the service this morning.
BBC report on the Archbishop’s sermon
Sunday Times Christopher Morgan Church rebels plan £1bn property grab
TRADITIONALISTS in the Church of England are preparing for a possible breakaway over women bishops by taking legal advice on whether they could claim property worth more than £1 billion…
Sunday Telegraph Jonathan Wynne-Jones Women can be bishops, Synod rules
Independent Women bishops could be here by 2012, says C of E
Update BBC Sunday radio programme has a report by Trevor Barnes from General Synod. Go here and then go 5 minutes forward. Various synod personalities are interviewed about the state of the Anglican Communion, as well as women bishops in England (about 7 minutes).
The presidential address given to the General Synod yesterday by the Archbishop of York has been published by Episcopal News Service.
Sunday afternoon UPDATE The text is now also online at the Church of England website.
The official report of the afternoon and evening’s business can be found here.
And also Call for love to fight terrorism
ENS has Sentamu calls for ‘gracious magnanimity,’ comments on Convention and also Women bishops approved in principle at Church of England’s Synod and Synod’s structures contrast with Convention’s. And later, Synod affirms women bishops; debate draws mixed reactions.
Associated Press Church of England: appointing women bishops ‘theologically justified’
Theo Hobson has written Sowing the seeds of change on commentisfree.
Michael Bordeaux writes in The Times about The religious maelstrom of modern Russia.
Also Jonathan Sacks writes that Bonds of friendship will prevail over those who seek to divide us.
Richard Frith writes in the Guardian about the Mission to Seafarers.
Information about and audio files of Saturday morning’s business can be found on the Church of England website: General Synod - Summary of Business Conducted on Saturday 8th July am.
Synod had the first of its two debates on Women in the Episcopate today (Saturday) morning. The Archbishop of York proposed the motion:
‘That this Synod welcome and affirm the view of the majority of the House of Bishops that admitting women to the episcopate in the Church of England is consonant with the faith of the Church as the Church of England has received it and would be a proper development in proclaiming afresh in this generation the grace and truth of Christ.’
The two amendments below were proposed to the motion but both were clearly defeated on a show of hands.
Leave out the words “welcome and affirm” and insert the word “note”.
At the end insert the words “and note the possible ecumenical implications of such a development in light of the contributions of the representatives of other Churches who took part in the presentation at the February 2006 group of sessions”.
A vote by houses was taken on the main motion. Whilst the motion was very clearly carried in each house, the majority in the House of Laity was a little short of the two-thirds that will be required at final approval of the measure that will actually allow women to become bishops.
Here are the detailed voting figures.
The BBC has Church to discuss female bishops.
The Yorkshire Post has Michael Brown writing that: Church tiptoes up to the issue of women.
Information about Friday’s business can be found on the Church of England website: General Synod - Summary of Business Conducted on Friday 7th July pm. Audio files of all today’s sessions are now available.
I am glad to have the opportunity of offering in these few minutes a very brief update on the current situation in the Anglican Communion, particularly in the light of the recent session of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention - which was, of course, attended by my brother Archbishop, who made an outstanding contribution to its discussions. The first thing to say is that the complex processes of Convention produced - perhaps predictably - a less than completely clear result. The final resolution relating to the consecration of practising gay persons as bishops owed a great deal to some last-minute work by the Presiding Bishop, who invoked his personal authority in a way that was obviously costly for him in order to make sure that there was some degree of recognisable response to the recommendations of the Windsor Report in this regard. I think that he - and his successor-elect - deserve credit and gratitude for taking the risk of focusing the debate and its implications so sharply.
However, as has become plain, the resolutions of Convention overall leave a number of unanswered questions, and there needs to be some careful disentangling of what they say and what they don’t say. This work is to be carried forward by a small group already appointed before Convention by the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC. And I have also written directly to every Primate to ask for a preliminary reaction from their province. The next Primates’ Meeting in February next year will digest what emerges from all this.
You will be aware of a number of developments in the public arena in the last couple of weeks, notably the request from several US dioceses for some sort of direct primatial oversight from outside the US, preferably from Canterbury. This raises very large questions indeed; various consultations are going forward to clarify what is being asked and to reflect on possible implications. There has also been an announcement from Nigeria of the election by the Nigerian House of Bishops of an American cleric as a bishop to serve the Convocation of Nigerian Anglican congregations in the US. I have publicly stated my concern about this and some other cross-provincial activities.
A working party is also being established in consultation with the Anglican Communion Office and others to look more fully at the question of what sort of ‘Covenant’ could be constructed to fulfil another significant recommendation of the Windsor Report.
Mention of this leads me to say a word about my own published reflections in the wake of General Convention. In spite of some interesting reporting and some slightly intemperate reaction, this contained no directives (I do not have authority to dictate policy to the provinces of the Communion) and no foreclosing of the character and content of such a covenant. Were any such arrangement to be proposed, it would of course have to be owned by the constitutional bodies governing Provinces. The proposal has already been dismissed in some quarters as a capitulation to fundamentalism and in others as a cunning plan to entrench total doctrinal indifferentism.
Both characterisations are nonsense. Perhaps you will allow me a word or two of clarification and further thought on all this. When I said, as I did in my reflections, that the Communion cannot remain as it is, I was drawing attention to some unavoidable choices. Many have said, with increasing force of late, that we must contemplate or even encourage the breakup of the Communion into national churches whose autonomy is unqualified and which relate only in some sort of loose and informal federation. This has obvious attractions for some. The problem is that it is unlikely to bear any relation to reality. Many provinces are internally fragile; we cannot assume that what will naturally happen is a neat pattern of local consensus. There are already international alliances, formal and informal, between Provinces and between groups within different Provinces. There are lines of possible fracture that have nothing to do with provincial boundaries. The disappearance of an international structure - as, again, I have observed in recent months - leaves us with the possibility of much less than a federation, indeed, of competing and fragmenting ecclesial bodies in many contexts across the world.
A straw in the wind: in Sudan, there is a breakaway and very aggressive Anglican body that has had support, in the past, from government in Khartoum. Among the varied grounds advanced for its separation is the ludicrous assertion that the Episcopal Church of Sudan is unorthodox in its teaching on sexual ethics. Some mischievous forces are quite capable of using the debates over sexuality as an alibi for divisive action whose roots are in other conflicts. And churches in disadvantaged or conflict-ridden settings cannot afford such distractions - I speak with feeling in the light of what I and others here in Synod know of Sudan. It helps, to put it no more strongly, that there is a global organisation which can declare such a separatist body illegitimate and insist to a local government that certain groups are not recognised internationally.
So I don’t think we can be complacent about what the complete breakup of the Communion might mean - not the blooming of a thousand flowers, but a situation in which vulnerable churches suffer further. And vulnerable churches are not restricted to Africa… But if this prospect is not one we want to choose, what then? Historic links to Canterbury have no canonical force, and we do not have (and I hope we don’t develop) an international executive. We depend upon consent. My argument was and is that such consent may now need a more tangible form than it has hitherto had; hence the Covenant idea in Windsor.
But if there is such a structure, and if we do depend on consent, the logical implication is that particular churches are free to say yes or no; and a no has consequences, not as ‘punishment’ but simply as a statement of what can and cannot be taken for granted in a relationship between two particular churches. When I spoke as I did of ‘churches in association’, I was trying to envisage what such a relation might be if it was less than full eucharistic communion and more than mutual repudiation. It was not an attempt to muddy the waters but to offer a vocabulary for thinking about how levels of seriously impaired or interrupted communion could be understood.
In other words, I can envisage - though I don’t in the least want to see - a situation in which there may be more divisions than at present within the churches that claim an Anglican heritage. But I want there to be some rationale for this other than pure localism or arbitrary and ad hoc definitions of who and what is acceptable. The real agenda - and it bears on other matters we have to discuss at this Synod - is what our doctrine of the Church really is in relation to the whole deposit of our faith. Christian history gives us examples of theologies of the Church based upon local congregational integrity, with little or no superstructure - Baptist and Congregationalist theologies; and of theologies of the national Church, working in symbiosis with culture and government - as in some Lutheran settings. We have often come near the second in theory and the first in practice. But that is not where we have seen our true centre and character. We have claimed to be Catholic, to have a ministry that is capable of being universally recognised (even where in practice it does not have that recognition) because of its theological and institutional continuity; to hold a faith that is not locally determined but shared through time and space with the fellowship of the baptised; to celebrate sacraments that express the reality of a community which is more than the people present at any one moment with any one set of concerns. So at the very least we must recognise that Anglicanism as we have experienced it has never been just a loose grouping of people who care to describe themselves as Anglicans but enjoy unconfined local liberties. Argue for this if you will, but recognise that it represents something other than the tradition we have received and been nourished by in God’s providence. And only if we can articulate some coherent core for this tradition in present practice can we continue to engage plausibly in any kind of ecumenical endeavour, local or international.
I make no secret of the fact that my commitment and conviction are given to the ideal of the Church Catholic. I know that its embodiment in Anglicanism has always been debated, yet I believe that the vision of Catholic sacramental unity without centralisation or coercion is one that we have witnessed to at our best and still need to work at. That is why a concern for unity - for unity (I must repeat this yet again) as a means to living in the truth - is not about placing the survival of an institution above the demands of conscience. God forbid. It is a question of how we work out, faithfully, attentively, obediently what we need to do and say in order to remain within sight and sound of each other in the fellowship to which Christ has called us. It has never been easy and it isn’t now. But it is the call that matters, and that sustains us together in the task.
© Rowan Williams 2006
Today’s Church Times has several reports (and others not on the web until next week):
Nigerians set to write off Lambeth by Pat Ashworth
Requests for alternative Primatial oversight leave ECUSA guessing by Douglas LeBlanc
Columnist: A new way to silence prophecy? by Giles Fraser
Margaret Duggan recently previewed the forthcoming group of sessions at York in the Church Times What’s on for Synod in York.
And the Church Times also had Bishops’ stalemate presents C of E with quandary and Why the House has lost confidence in the power of TEA.
There was also this leader: Women bishops — a collision course?
The Living Church has questioned the canonical status of the “election” of Canon Martyn Minns as a bishop by the Church of Nigeria. See Canon Minns Election Appears to Violate Nigerian Canons:
The election of an Episcopal priest as a missionary bishop to the United States by the Anglican Church of Nigeria appears to be in violation of a Nigerian canon which stipulates that eligible persons to the episcopate must belong either to the Church of Nigeria or a diocese in communion with it. The Church of Nigeria broke communion with The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia after the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson was consecrated Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire in 2003.
The Church of England Newspaper has four articles this week relating to the major news stories of the Anglican Communion:
Mixed response to call for two-tier Communion by George Conger
Six dioceses appeal
Caution as US priest is made Nigerian bishop. This includes the following claim:
Four bishops affiliated with the Network voted for Bishop Schori with the express purpose of “bringing down the house of cards”. The four swung the close election to Bishop Schori, prompting a charge the three retired and one sitting diocesan bishops had behaved badly, and had acted with “unmitigated evil”.
Rival Lambeth warning by George Conger
Fulcrum published this response to General Convention and Canterbury’s Reflections.
LGCM published this response, which is titled Retrograde General Convention: Episcopal Church Fails To Challenge Homophobia By Embracing Windsor Report, but scroll down for the full text, the latter part of which is a response to the Reflection.
Ekklesia had more to say in its helpful roundup.
Three recent reports from the Malawi press:
Daily Times Hooligans attack Anglican Church by Deborah Nyangulu
Nation Anglicans fight in church by Francis Tayanjah-Phiri
Nation 10 arrested in Anglican fracas by Willie Zingani
A statement from the standing committee now appears on the diocesan website.
The Diocese of Dallas has joined the list of ECUSA dioceses seeking “alternative primatial oversight”, according to the Associated Press in this report yesterday: Dallas’ Episcopal diocese joins others in bishop rift.
The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas on Wednesday joined a growing rejection of the church’s newly elected bishop because she supports same-sex relationships.
Bishop James M. Stanton, the head of Dallas’ diocese and its 40,000 members, wrote a letter asking Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams for a “direct pastoral relationship” from overseas instead of being under the American church and its new leader.
The diocesan website does not yet contain anything about this though. Neither does the personal website of the bishop, James Stanton. Since the report appeared in the Dallas Morning News it can’t have escaped the attention of Dallasites. So in the absence of any statement to the contrary, I presume it is true.
Update titusonenine has this press release also.
Update And also this statement from the Standing Committee.
The questions to be answered at this month’s sessions of General Synod have been published. You can download them as an rtf file or read them online. They are scheduled to be answered on Friday 7 July between 8.30 and 10.00 pm.
Harold Meyerson has written Co-dependence day. The right wing of American Episcopalianism wants the Archbishop of Canterbury to save it from its crazy modernist brethren.
Stephen Bates has written Things fall apart. Rowan Williams’s plea to the Anglican communion to hold together appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
First, we apologise for the difficulties some of you have had accessing TA recently. The same difficulties have delayed publication of more news items. We hope they will be resolved soon.
Now, here are two report from ABC Radio in Australia. First:
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of Sydney on the state of Anglican Communion
Concerning what Peter Jensen says here about Archbishop Akinola, for a full set of links to what Peter Akinola really said (or not) go here.
UK Guardian journalist Andrew Brown on the state of Anglican Communion
As a footnote to that, here’s a comment from Andrew’s blog this morning.
(News reports are appearing today, Tuesday, about Monday’s Nigerian story.)
Two more reports have now been posted on the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) website:
Second, a report from the First National Anglican Conference on WELFARE OF THE NATION: THE ROLE OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION IN NATION BUILDING.
Some quotes from the first document:
Synod notes with satisfaction the efforts of the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), His Grace, The Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, in giving the Church of Nigeria, CAPA and Global South a purposeful and effective leadership. It further expresses its approval of his actions and pronouncements against errors of revisionist ideologies. With much delight and enthusiasm, Synod received his citing by TIMES Magazine as one of the 100 persons that shaped the World in 2005, and encouraged him not to relent in his efforts in exercising his ministry.
2. THE ANGLICAN COVENANT
Synod is satisfied with the move by the Global South to continue with its veritable project of defending the faith committed to us against present onslaught from ECUSA, Canada, England and their allies. The need therefore, to redefine and/or re-determine those who are truly Anglicans becomes urgent, imperative and compelling. Synod therefore empowers the leadership of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) to give assent to the Anglican Covenant.
3. THE LAMBETH CONFERENCE
The Lambeth Conference which is one of the accepted organs of unity in the Anglican Communion is due for another meeting in 2008. the Synod, after reviewing some recent major events in the Communion, especially the effects of the ‘revisionists’ theology’, which is now making wave in America, Canada and England, observed with dismay the inability of the Church in the aforementioned areas to see reason for repentance from the harm and stress they have caused this communion since 1988 culminating in the consecration of Gene Robinson, a practicing homosexual in 2003 as a bishop in ECUSA. Synod also regrets the inability of the See of Canterbury to prevent further impairment of the unity of the Church. It therefore, believes strongly that the moral justification for the proposed Lambeth Conference of 2008 is questionable in view of the fact that by promoting teachings and practices that are alien and inimical to the historic formularies of the Church, the Bishops of ECUSA, Canada and parts of Britain have abandoned the Biblical faith of our fathers.
4. GLOBAL SOUTH CONFERENCE
Synod underlines the need for maintaining the age-long tradition of a ten-yearly Conference of Bishops in the Anglican Communion for discussing issues affecting the Church. It therefore calls on the leadership of the Global South and Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) to do everything necessary to put in place a Conference of all Anglican Bishops to hold in 2008 should all efforts to get the apostles of ‘revisionist agenda’ to repent and retrace their steps fail.
The second document includes the following points, among numerous others:
At the end of the conference it was resolved that:
11. [That the church should] Learn to speak out when human rights are subverted and violated in the nation and against societal ills that hamper true nation-building, as well as participate in partisan politics.
And also this:
7. On marriage, the conference agreed that marriage between man and woman is the official position of the Anglican Communion, and confirmed by its laws, and condemned in its entirety homosexuality and same sex marriage.
Today’s Guardian carries yet another piece about the Anglican Communion. This time it is editorial opinion, and is entitled Divine divisions.
The concluding part:
…Lambeth’s gamble is that, faced with the enormity of allowing the next 10 years to be dominated not by ministry but by schism, with all that implies by way of painful, wasteful rows and expensive lawyers, the US conservatives will have to face up to the fact that they cannot sustain themselves apart. With the prospect of meaningful negotiation, the liberals will back off too. At that point the two sides may finally begin to engage with one another, and try seriously to find a common way through their difficulties. If the US church calms down (the Canadians are cited as the model of temperate conduct), there is a chance at least for a world-wide lowering of the temperature. But it could all too easily go the other way. Here, the Church of England is already dangerously divided and open to ideas of parallel jurisdictions. Its traditionalists certainly appear ready to seize the opportunity, in tandem with the African churches and other conservatives, of capturing the heart of Anglicanism. It’s not surprising, then that liberals are already talking of making common cause with the North American churches and warning that division could sever the church from the very top down to the humblest parish.
The best hope for avoiding the schism of which Dr Williams warned lies in redefining the argument. Lambeth would like the rival factions to understand that the row between two fundamentally opposing points of view is superficial. What happens next is not about gay bishops, nor same-sex weddings, nor polygamy. Rather it is about the church’s architecture and the degree of autonomy enjoyed by its constituent parts. Faced with the terrifying idea of first establishing and then policing the doctrinal purity for the core churches implicit in the twin-track approach, the rival factions are being challenged to stop it happening. In the end, though, Dr Williams will have to choose between unity - and bigotry.
A very belated posting. For previous posting on this topic see here.
The Diocese of Southwark website has Bishop’s letter re Rev Richard Coekin as a PDF file. The letter is dated 15 June. The full text is below the fold.
To all licensed clergy, churchwardens, members of the Bishopâ€™s Council, members of the Diocesan Synod, members of the Ministry and Training Committee.
As many of you know last November, following an unauthorised ordination, I removed the Revd Richard Coekinâ€™s licence as an honorary assistant curate at Emmanuel Church Wimbledon, which is a proprietary chapel. In practice he has for some years been exercising ministry at Dundonald Church â€“ a congregation meeting at Dundonald School in South Wimbledon. This originated as a plant from Emmanuel. He appealed against the revocation to the Archbishop of Canterbury and, after a court hearing by the Bishop of Winchester, the Archbishop upheld the appeal. With the various press reports concerning the appeal, I thought that it might be helpful for you to have my response.
I note that the Archbishop, in his determination, states that “Mr Coekin’s conduct [in arranging a Church of England in South Africa ordination in a Church of England parish church without reference to the Archbishop or Diocesan Bishop] merited censure.” The Church of England in South Africa is not in communion with the Anglican Communion.
I note further that the Archbishop, whilst cancelling the revocation of the licence for essentially technical reasons, states that he (the Archbishop) “does not accept that the requested undertakings [for such a cancellation as recommended by the Bishop of Winchester’s report] are unreasonable or unjustifiable.” [These undertakings are:
(i) except under the authority of the Bishop of Southwark to refrain from any involvement in:
a) ordination services within the area of the Diocese of Southwark, or
b) the ordination of persons (of whatever Christian church) to serve within the area of that diocese.
(ii) strictly to abide by all general or specific directions given by the Bishop of Southwark, concerning church planting or mission initiatives.]
In this, the Archbishop makes it clear that the content of these recommended undertakings â€œreflects the legal obligations which Canon law imposes upon any licensed minister.â€
The Archbishop’s report further emphasises that if Mr Coekin is to exercise licensed ministry in the Church of England he must “conform to the discipline of the Church” and “must submit to the Bishop of Southwark’s episcopal authority.”
The Archbishop points to the commitment of the whole Church of England to its mission as the national Church. The Archbishop points to the forthcoming Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure, (which places an important emphasis on Bishops’ mission orders that govern mission initiatives).
Within these understandings, I will be looking to Mr Coekin to work in partnership with the Diocese and with all of its other clergy.
The reason Mr Coekin gave for proceeding with the unauthorised ordinations was my refusal to distance myself from the House of Bishopâ€™s Statement on Civil Partnerships, although during the hearing it became clear that plans for the ordination had been made in March 2005, several months before the Bishopsâ€™ Statement had been produced. (For the same reason it is reported that two ordinands in the Diocese of London have decided not to proceed to being ordained by the Bishop of London).
You may be interested to know that in the Diocese of Southwark we have meticulously followed the process set down by the House of Bishopsâ€™ Pastoral Statement concerning clergy who have indicated that they wish to engage in a civil partnership. There have been a small number of such cases and all the clergy involved have met with their Area Bishop who has drawn to their attention the expectation that their relationship will be consistent with the teaching set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.
With best wishes,
Grace and Peace,
The Washington Post has awoken to the story on its doorstep, in Episcopal Protest of Top Bishop Increases by Alan Cooperman.
The Witness has an article by Bishop Barbara Harris She Will Not Be Alone.
Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh has issued a press release Pittsburgh Action Called Divisive:
… “This request is divisive, yet without substance,” said PEP President Joan R. Gundersen, “since our primate, the Presiding Bishop, has virtually no power and exercises no ‘oversight’ over dioceses and their bishops. It is an irresponsible attempt to create a media event, without regard to the genuine harm this does to parishes in the diocese, to The Episcopal Church, and to the Anglican Communion. It represents a premature judgment of our Presiding Bishop-elect, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, of Nevada. The move by the Standing Committee has brought distress to Episcopalians committed to The Episcopal Church, as parishioners fear the organizational estrangement being sought by their bishop. It stirs up division and anxiety in the many parishes that are divided in their response to the recent church controversies and to the course of action being pursued by Bishop Duncan.
The alleged withdrawal of the diocese from Province III is even more disingenuous. Not only does the diocese already have little involvement in provincial affairs, but the Bishop of Pittsburgh well knows that the creation of provinces and the assignment of dioceses to provinces can only be done by canon of the General Convention. It would not be unprecedented for a diocese to ignore its province, but neither the Standing Committee nor the Convention of the diocese can remove the diocese from Province III; only General Convention can do that, and not before 2009. Creating a tenth province, as suggested by the resolution, likewise, can only be accomplished by General Convention. “A province of Network dioceses would be a pastoral disaster,” Gundersen suggested. “At least 13 parishes in this diocese have declined to be part of the Network and declared a commitment to The Episcopal Church. Despite assurances from the Standing Committee, these parishes, and similar parishes in other dioceses, either will be abandoned or forced into a being part of the Network against their will.”…
Roger Herft Archbishop of Perth in Western Australia has written an article in the Sydney Morning News entitled Love and generosity should guide fractured Anglican Church. This deserves careful reading.
Archbishop Andrew Hutchison of Canada preached this Sermon at Southwark Cathedral last week.
Updated again Tuesday
Richard Ostling of the Associated Press has written this report on the first item below: African Branch Criticizes Anglican Plan.
Tuesday’s Nigerian story is here.
First the Nigerian House of Bishops has issued this response to Rowan Williams: Re: THE CHALLENGE AND HOPE OF BEING ANGLICAN TODAY. It deserves to be read in full.
Second this newspaper headline has appeared in The Tide : Anglican communion to restore Nigeriaâ€™s glory. This of course refers not to the “Anglican Communion” but rather to the “Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)” which is the name by which the Anglican Church of Nigeria is known locally. For background on the conference being held, see here and also the full text of the press briefing. For other news reports, see here, and also here.
The Sunday Telegraph interviewed Christina Rees, Coming very soonâ€¦ women bishops.
The same paper had a report by Jonathan Wynne-Jones headlined Liberals may split from Canterbury over homosexuals.
Christopher Morgan in the Sunday Times reports that St Alban is holier than St George.
What Rowan Williams actually said about St Alban can be found here. Other pictures of the occasion can be found here and here.
The BBC’s radio programme Sunday considered theArchbishop of Canterbury’s recent Reflection. Chris Sugden and Giles Goddard are interviewed by Jane Little. Starts here ( about 7.5 minutes). Better permalink here.
The Times has Stephen Plant writing on If faiths are to parley they first have to get into each other’s good books, and also Conal Gregory writes about the York Mystery Plays in A marvellous quarry of medieval devotion.
Face to Faith in the Guardian is by Shaunaka Rishi Das and is about Hinduism.
Last week, the Church Times carried an extract from the Gore Lecture given by Peter Selby. The full text of the lecture is on the Westminster Abbey website. The title was: Structures of Disdain - and how they might be redeemed.
For Northern Virginia see article below this one.
Associated Press Episcopal Rift Over Gay Bishops Widens
New York Times Laurie Goodstein Episcopalians Shaken by Division in Church
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steve Levin Fissures remain after Episcopal Church convention
Update Sunday I missed the accompanying editorial opinion: Anglican anguish / The new bishop has her work cut out for her
Lakeland Ledger (Florida) Cary McMullen Toward a Two-Tier Episcopal Church
Oregonian Nancy Haught Episcopalians’ new U.S. head readies herself
Grand Rapids Press (Michigan) Charles Honey Episcopalians struggle over issues of homosexuality
A new report has now appeared at the Washington Times Virginia Episcopal bishop slams Nigerian appointment. This includes the following:
“This is not a welcome development,” said Jonathan Jennings, spokesman for Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, about Wednesday’s election of Canon Martyn Minns of Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax as bishop for the Anglican province of Nigeria.
“It’s neither timely nor constructive,” he said. “It further complicates an already complex situation.”
And the Episcopal News Service published Virginia bishop calls Nigerian election an ‘affront’.
Richmond Times-Dispatch Episcopal official objects to rector also serving as bishop
The first Washington Times story about this was Anglicans select Fairfax rector as bishop on 28 June.
Forward in Faith North America has welcomed the development nevertheless, see FiF NA welcomes the election as bishop of Canon Martyn Minns.
There seems to be confusion and misinformation about what is happening there. Yesterday, I linked to a story in the Washington Times (which for a while was removed from that website but has now been republished with a correction notice) and there was nothing at all in the Washington Post.
According to this letter on the Diocese of Virginia website, Bishop Peter Lee writes to the Diocese of Virginia, several things in that story are not true:
In a story in todayâ€™s Washington Times newspaper (June 29, 2006), reporting on the election by the Nigerian Episcopal Synod of the Rev. Canon Martyn Minns as a bishop of the Church of Nigeria, it is asserted that Truro Church, Fairfax and The Falls Church, Falls Church have informed me that they plan to leave the Diocese.
I have had no such conversation with either church. In fact, I received a call today from the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, to apologize for the assertion in the story and to assure me that there is no such plan on the part of The Falls Church. I also received today an e-mail from the Rev. Martyn Minns assuring me that no such decision had been made at Truro.
The election of the Rev. Martyn Minns as a Bishop of the Church of Nigeria with oversight of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America is an affront to the traditional, orthodox understanding of Anglican Provincial Autonomy. Archbishop Akinola acknowledges as much in his letter to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. How that situation resolves itself remains to be seen. However, the request by Archbishop Akinola that Martyn be allowed to continue as rector of an Episcopal congregation while also serving as a Nigerian Bishop seems to me, at this point, to be impossible. I raised this issue with Martyn when he and I spoke yesterday.
Here are links to the websites of the two churches:
The Washington Times has reported that our church has informed our Bishop that we are leaving the Diocese of Virginia and leaving the Episcopal Church. This certainly is not true and misrepresents where we are as a congregation. It is true that we think an extended period of study, prayer, and deliberation about how we are to respond to the serious rift in our denomination is wise and we are hoping to engage in such a time this fall. The thoughtful booklet (â€œCan Two Walk Together, Except They Be Agreed?â€) that our vestry recently prepared and sent to the congregation analyzing our current situation is the most up to date information we have produced. It gives a clear sense of the issues we are facing. There are extra copies available in the church.
On Wednesday, the Church of Nigeriaâ€™s House of Bishops selected me as their missionary bishop for the Convocation for Anglicans in North America (CANA). I am truly humbled by this honor.
CANA was created by the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) as a mission to meet the needs of Anglican Nigerians in the wake of the divisive actions of the Episcopal Church USA at its last triennial General Convention in 2003. In this role of missionary bishop I have been called upon to provide oversight to the pastors of CANA congregations.
What does this mean for Truro? It most certainly does NOT mean that Truro will be left without a rector. Iâ€™m not going anywhere. The vestry has endorsed my continuing as Truroâ€™s rector until the rector search committee completes its job and a new rector has been selected.
By the way, donâ€™t believe everything you read in the newspapers. Thursdayâ€™s headline in the Washington Times was terribly wrong. The Truro congregation has not gone through its discernment process and so no decision has been made about our future plans. We are struggling to find a way to remain faithful Anglicans during these turbulent times in the Episcopal Church.
I look forward to seeing you in worship this weekend and at one of our previously scheduled parish meetings on Sunday: Rectorâ€™s Forum (9:30 a.m. in the Chapel) or the Parish Meeting (12:00 p.m. noon in the Main Sanctuary).
As always, your brother in Christ,
More about the position of The Falls Church here.