Tuesday, 31 October 2006

John Humphrys interviews Rowan Williams

Updated Sunday

Humphrys in Search of God is a series of three half-hour radio programmes being broadcast on BBC Radio 4 over the next three weeks. The BBC blurb reads:

John Humphrys as you’ve never heard him before - talking with religious leaders about his unfulfilled desire to believe in God.

How is faith possible in a world of suffering, much of it arguably caused by religion or religious extremism and to which God seems to turn a blind eye? Is there a place for religion in an age dominated by science?

His guests are the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams; Professor Tariq Ramadan, Muslim academic and author; and Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi.

The first interview, with Rowan Williams, was broadcast today. The 29 minute programme as broadcast can be heard here (Real audio).

The BBC website also has an extended 54 minute version of it, which you can listen to here.

Readers from outside the UK who may not be familiar with John Humphrys will find his biography here.

Update here is a transcript of the shorter version.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 31 October 2006 at 9:46pm GMT | Comments (28) | TrackBack
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Canadian bishops move on St Michael report

The following is excerpted from a Report from the House of Bishops, Oct. 23 - 26 by Vianney (Sam) Carriere

St. Michael Report

Bishop Victoria Matthews reviewed the work of the Primate’s Theological Commission leading up to the St. Michael Report that concluded that same-sex blessings is a matter of doctrine, but not of core doctrine. She also described the process whereby dioceses of the church were encouraged to consider the report and to comment on it. The question she asked bishops to consider in small groups was whether or not they “buy” the report’s central conclusion. All of the table groups reported back that they agreed with the report’s finding that the issue is doctrinal, but not one of core doctrine. “I won’t guess where that takes us,” Bishop Matthews concluded, “but I think it is important that we know this about ourselves.”

Ontario resolution

After considerable discussion, bishops approved the following statement on a process to bring the St. Michael Report to General Synod next year which was drafted by bishops from the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario. The statement is as follows:

We believe that as bishops we are called to exercise special responsibility in maintaining the unity of the church. We seek to provide leadership as we grapple with the issues posed by our continuing debate around human sexuality.

We believe that the Canadian Church will be looking for one or more significant decisions on these matters at General Synod 2007, and that further inaction, or the perception of stalling, may result in widespread disobedience in many parts of our Province and possibly further impair our relationship with the Anglican Communion.

We are aware that we occupy different places in the spectrum of convictions and hopes in the Canadian Church. We are happy to share the experience of affirming much that is common between us.

We welcome the work done by the St. Michael Report and the Windsor Report, particularly their identification of the nature of the doctrinal issues involved. We believe General Synod resolutions on these matters that engage their recommendations seriously will increase our credibility both within the church and within the communion. We believe the converse will also apply.

Our assessment of the current situation is that, doctrinally, there is no common mind in the church concerning the grounds for giving or withholding the blessing of same sex unions. Substantial numbers of our church, however, believe passionately that those doctrines have already been decided. We believe that further argument alone is unlikely to move people from their positions at this time. We believe the task of General Synod 2007 is to find an appropriate course of action for our situation. Paradoxically, if a way to live together as a church can be found, a theological consensus might develop within a framework of stability.

We advise against a change in the marriage canon at this time.

We believe that we should undertake intentional diplomacy in our international relationships within the Anglican Communion.

We urge the Church to show pastoral understanding and sensitivity to all same-sex couples, including those civilly married. As the National House of Bishops we agree to develop pastoral strategies to give effect to the acceptance of gays and lesbians to whom we are already committed by previous General Synod and COGS resolutions, House of Bishops guidelines, and Lambeth Conference statements.

We recommend the following processes for the consideration of the 2007 General Synod:

  • We believe that it is essential that there should be adequate time to consider what will be on the table. To assist in promoting useful discussion, we recommend substantial use of the Synod sitting as Committee of the Whole.
  • We share great wariness about the possibility of surprise motions, and urge attention and sensitivity to energy levels and emotions around important issues, and an avoidance of the passage of contradictory motions.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 31 October 2006 at 6:20pm GMT | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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more on what RW said about veils

Last Saturday’s opinions linked here included Rowan Williams writing in The Times that A society that does not allow crosses or veils in public is a dangerous one.

On Sunday, he was interviewed by Roger Bolton on the radio. You can listen here (7m 21s Real Audio).

When Dr Rowan Williams returned to the UK after his visit to China, he said he felt he had stepped into the middle of what felt like a general panic about the role of religion in society. He wrote in the Times that “The proverbial visitor from Mars might have imagined that the greatest immediate threat to British society was religious war, fomented by “faith schools”, cheered on by thousands of veiled women and the Bishops benches in the House of Lords”. …Roger asked him whether it really felt like that.

Yesterday, Andrew Brown wrote about the article on Commentisfree. Read Respect underwritten by fear.

Ruth Gledhill wrote about this also, see Loving religion, til China and Europe meet.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 31 October 2006 at 12:58pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Monday, 30 October 2006

Zimbabwe: church leaders speak out

There is no mention of explicit Anglican involvement in any of the following news reports from Zimbabwe. Nevertheless the event described seems worth reporting.

Reuters Mugabe rejects church calls for a new constitution
Voice of America Zimbabwe Churchmen Present ‘National Vision’ To President Mugabe
The Herald Harare via _AllAfrica.com Zimbabwe: Churches Present Draft Document to President
Associated Press via the International Herald-Tribune Church leaders ask for forgiveness, call for reconciliation to heal Zimbabwe

Hat Tip Magic Statistics.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 30 October 2006 at 12:42pm GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 29 October 2006

Nigerian news

First, a report on the Nigerian provincial website, about plans for growth and how these depend in part on finance. Read OVER 20 NEW DIOCESES TO BE INAUGURATED IN 2007.

Second, a report from Changing Attitude on Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) plans for Lambeth Conference. This suggests that quite a lot of money is available.

Update Tuesday
Mark Harris notes some editorial problems with the Nigerian provincial constitution in Revisiting The Church of Nigeria’s Constitution: An exercise in (mild) frustration.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 29 October 2006 at 10:33pm GMT | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Pittsburgh and APO

Updated Tuesday

While Dallas has withdrawn its request, the Diocese of Pittsburgh is proceeding full speed ahead in this matter of primatial oversight. The diocesan convention will be held next weekend (while the installation of the new PB takes place in Washington DC) and will be asked to vote on this resolution. The key paragraph reads:

RESOLVED, that the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in good faith hereby join with the other dioceses of the Episcopal Church who are appealing to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates of the Anglican Communion, and the Panel of Reference for immediate alternative Primatial oversight and pastoral care so that a unifying solution might be found to preserve an authentic Anglican community of witness within the United States of America and provide pastoral and apostolic care to biblically orthodox Anglicans in this country regardless of geographical location; and

The diocesan website has, incidentally, amended its notice concerning the text of the appeal:

…It explains why the dioceses involved believe that a different form of oversight is necessary (see editor’s note) and what that oversight might look like…

…Editor’s Note: Mary Francis Schjonberg of ENS helpfully pointed out here that “APO” was not used to describe the appeal by all those who ultimately signed the combined request that is linked above. I replaced “APO” with “A different form of oversight” in the text above to allow for the various terms used by bishops and diocesan bodies in their initial individual appeals. - Peter Frank, director of communications.

To get the full flavour of what the leadership of the Pittsburgh diocese thinks, you really need to read in full the address delivered by Bishop Duncan when he received an honorary doctorate from Nashotah House.

Update Tuesday
Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh has published briefing papers in response to this resolution, you can read them here, here, and here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 29 October 2006 at 4:08pm GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 28 October 2006

Lords reform and the Bishops

The Sunday Times reported in Life peers face axe in Lords overhaul on a draft document which is available in full here. The section dealing specifically with religious representation is reproduced here below the fold.

Today, in the Church Times Bill Bowder reports on this with Lords plan would keep bishops out of their dioceses.

(c) Religious representation

16. It is important that faith communities are formally represented in the House of Lords. The Church of England, as the established Church enjoys a special status in the social and political life in England and more widely around the United Kingdom and has long been recognised even by people who are not themselves Anglicans. Bishops have sat in the Lords since its inception; they are the only category of member whose term is limited to the holding of their office. There have in the past been arguments about the disestablishment of the Church of England. There is little steam behind such arguments today, and, in any event, any profound change in the status of the Anglican Church must be in the first instance for the Church itself. It is therefore right for there to be special representation of the Church of England in the reformed Lords.

17. Whilst recognising the quality of work they bring to the House, a more flexible approach which would allow a Bishop to take up a seat in the House of Lords where they have expressed a keen interest rather than based on seniority should be considered. Furthermore, assuming the overall size of the House reduces, it would be difficult to justify retaining the current number of 26 Bishops. A practical solution would be to reduce the number of reserved places say from 26 to 16. This was proposed as long ago as 1968 and was at that time acceptable to the Church of England.

18. It is equally important that a reformed House of Lords reflect the religious make-up of the UK, even though it may be the case that not all individuals will be able to act as formal spokespersons for these particular faiths or beliefs. Nevertheless, assuming there will be some form of appointments to the Lords, a duty could be placed on the Appointments Commission discussed elsewhere in this paper, to ensure that most major faiths together with those of no faith are represented in the House of Lords.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 28 October 2006 at 6:49pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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opinions at the weekend

Rowan Williams wrote in The Times earlier this week that A society that does not allow crosses or veils in public is a dangerous one.

Charles Moore writing in the Telegraph today, disagrees with him: Church schools kerfuffle is just the veil wagging the dog.

Stephen Plant writes in The Times today about The political race between the Evangelical God and the ‘ordinary one’.

Theo Hobson writes in the Guardian’s Face to faith column that Secular Christianity can reconnect religion to our world.

Christopher Howse uses his Telegraph column to write about Michael Mayne in A song that went on to the end.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 28 October 2006 at 12:11pm BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Friday, 27 October 2006

APO developments

First, the Living Church reported that four Global South primates were expecting to meet with Network dioceses requesting APO, see Four Primates Offer to Meet With Dioceses Requesting APO.

Second, ENS reported that Dallas really has withdrawn its request for APO. Or claims it never made one. Whatever, see Dallas Bishop clarifies request for ‘alternative primatial oversight‘.The full statement from Bishop Stanton is now added below the fold here. (hat tip SDB). Update Saturday morning: the statement is now also on the front page of the Dallas diocesan website, but you have to scroll down to find it.

Third, the Living Church reported that

The dioceses which appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury for alternate primatial oversight (APO) last summer have modified their petition and no longer seek an “alternative primate” to exercise metropolitan oversight. Instead they have asked Archbishop Rowan Williams for a “commissary” from Canterbury…

See Dioceses’ Appeal for APO Modified.

RESPONSE TO THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE DIOCESE OF PITTSBURGH

A recent announcement made by the Diocese of Pittsburgh has raised some discussion about the status of the Diocese of Dallas in an “appeal for Alternative Primatial Oversight. It reads:

“With the approval of the Standing Committee, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has released the full text of the appeal for Alternate Primatial Oversight (APO). The appeal, which lays out the request of the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Joaquin, South Carolina, and Springfield, was sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury on July 20. It explains why the dioceses involved believe that APO is necessary and what that oversight might look like. Since July, Dallas has withdrawn its request, but Quincy has joined the other appellants.” (Diocese of Pittsburgh website)

There is a problem here: I never asked for APO. This is well known to most of you based on our Clergy meeting on July 5, 2006, where I discussed this matter. I offer this response for further clarification.

The consolidated appeal to which this release makes reference, and which I did sign and had a hand in writing, doesn’t ask for APO either. Look at the third paragraph:

“Seven dioceses are seeking to reshape their life together as dioceses — faithful to what the Episcopal Church has been and submitted to what the Anglican Communion has taught — under the oversight of a Canterbury appointed Commissary, temporarily exercising some of the responsibilities normally assigned to the American primate. Some of these dioceses have requested “alternative primatial oversight.” One has requested “a direct pastoral relationship.” One has requested “alternative primatial relationship and, as appropriate, oversight.” While worded differently, what these requests seek in common is a special relationship of pastoral care and accountability under the Archbishop of Canterbury described more fully below.”

The consolidated appeal notes that different requests were made originally. It then seeks to clarify what “these requests have in common.” It is a “special relationship of pastoral care and accountability” under the Archbishop, and a designated point of contact called a “Commissary”. (“Commissary” being, of course, a sort of vicar used by the Bishop of London in colonial days.) Once past this paragraph, the term “alternative primatial oversight” is never used again. I maintain that the appeal is NOT for APO.

The first I ever heard of the concept of “alternative primatial oversight” (APO) was at the General Convention of 2006, when the Bishop of Fort Worth announced that he was appealing for APO, with the support of his Standing Committee. The next time I heard of it was when the Standing Committee of Dallas discussed this with me prior to the issuing of their Statement on July 5. Eventually even they modified the language, calling for “a direct primatial relationship.”

I had misgivings about the use of the APO language at the time. Among other concerns, we do not have “primatial oversight” in this Province as some other member Churches of the Anglican Communion do. Consequently, in a letter to the Diocese released at the same time as the Standing Committee’s Statement, I wrote:

“They [The Standing Committee] ask me to ‘appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury for a direct primatial relationship. . .’ Several dioceses have called for ‘alternative primatial oversight,’ as you will know through news reports. I will discuss a direct pastoral relationship with the Archbishop. This will be for the pastoral support of our mission, and assurance of our place in the Communion. I must emphasize that this relationship will be consistent with our Constitution and Canons, both of the Diocese and of the General Church.” (Pastoral Letter, July 5, 2006)

I immediately wrote to Archbishop Williams making my request in terms of a “direct pastoral relationship.”

Press reports and various blogs continued to use APO terminology, however. This language caused confusion and some anxiety within the Dallas Diocese. This is understandable, since I had announced and maintained a different sort of request from the beginning. Following the New York meeting in September, I shared this concern with my colleagues and indicated that I would quietly withdraw my own request. I did this before the Windsor Bishops’ meeting at Camp Allen, in a simple note to the Archbishop.

I continue to share with my colleagues a deep concern over the direction and coherence of the Episcopal Church. With them, I share a commitment to the health and unity of the Anglican Communion. I stand with them in their hope and work for a robust Anglican Covenant. There are no divisions among us. My own misgivings about the concept of APO is not a judgment on those who have made this request or what they intend by it. I certainly have not had any change of mind or resolve on my own part.

Since I never requested APO, it is incorrect to say that I have withdrawn from an appeal for APO.

Faithfully,
The Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton
Bishop of Dallas

The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas
1630 N. Garrett Av.
Dallas, TX 75206
Office: (214) 826-8310

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 27 October 2006 at 9:02pm BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Bishop Katharine visits Rowan Williams

Updated Monday morning

As previously reported by the Living Church, today the Presiding Bishop-elect of The Episcopal Church visited Archbishop Rowan Williams at Lambeth.

Episcopal News Service and the Anglican Communion News Service both carry reports and photographs.

Archbishop welcomes Presiding Bishop, Presiding Bishop-elect to Lambeth Palace

The Presiding Bishop elect meets with the Archbishop of Canterbury

Update The Living Church has a further report, Archbishop Williams Meets With Presiding Bishop-elect Jefferts Schori

Her installation as Presiding Bishop will take place at the Washington Cathedral on Saturday 4 November. Details of the arrangements are described here.

For an earlier video interview with CBS News, go here.

For two videos from the General Convention go here.

Her remarks at a recent conference for ordained women are summarised here.

Update Monday
In his sermon at St John’s Notting Hill yesterday, Frank Griswold said:

My reason for being here in London has been to introduce Bishop Katharine to his Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury. While I have known Archbishop Rowan for many years – our friendship dating back to his days as a professor at Oxford – my successor had yet to meet him. It was an immensely positive and fruitful exchange. During our meeting we were able to share mutual concerns and hopes for the future of our Communion and its ministry of service to our broken and needy world.

The Anglican Communion, through its international consultative council, has committed itself to gender equity in all of its representative and consultative bodies. The election of Bishop Katharine to serve as 26th Presiding Bishop, and therefore Primate, is a first step toward bringing gender balance to what until now has been an all male preserve.

There are those who have indicated that they will not sit at the same table with her. I do hope that once they meet her as a person, rather than as a fabrication of the Internet, they will be able to sense the depth and authenticity of her faith, and to recognize her as a sister in Christ and a fellow bishop.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 27 October 2006 at 6:28pm BST | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 26 October 2006

Is Dallas seeking any other primatial oversight?

Updated again Friday evening
Dallas Bishop clarifies request for ‘alternative primatial oversight’

The Diocese of Dallas has apparently withdrawn its application for alternative primatial oversight. That is what it says on the Diocese of Pittsburgh website. Confused? I am, but read it yourself here:

…the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has released the full text of the appeal for Alternate Primatial Oversight (APO). The appeal, which lays out the request of the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Joaquin, South Carolina and Springfield, was sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury on July 20. It explains why the dioceses involved believe that APO is necessary and what that oversight might look like. Since July, Dallas has withdrawn its request, but Quincy has joined the other appellants.

On the Dallas diocesan website, you find still present the following, dated 3 July:

To this end, we call upon the bishop to appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury for a direct primatial relationship with him for the purpose of mission, pastoral support, and accountability.

The Diocese of Dallas just completed its annual convention. All kinds of details about this meeting can be found on the website of the Bishop of Dallas and now on the diocesan site also. But there is no mention there of this matter that I could see. And I am told that the topic was never mentioned during the convention proceedings. This in itself seems very strange.

According to ENS in Convention refuses to sever relationship with the Episcopal Church:

The Diocese of Dallas’s 111th diocesan convention, meeting October 20-21 at the Southfork Ranch Event and Conference Center, refused proposals to remove all reference to the Episcopal Church and General Convention from its constitution, place the diocese specifically in relationship with the Anglican Communion, allow a parish to break from the diocese “upon concurrence of its Rector and at least two-thirds of its Vestry” and allow breakaway parishes to retain title to their property.

“Separation is never a strategy,” Dallas Bishop James Stanton said in a convention speech, according to an October 22 report in the Dallas Morning News.

“Those who depart the church are not, I think, fulfilling Christ’s call but are fulfilling the expectations the world has about the church, that we cannot really get along,” he said. The diocese’s website does not yet have a copy of Stanton’s address.

After the convention, Stanton told the Dallas newspaper that his call for church unity would apply to the denomination only if it follows “the teachings of the apostles.”

The Dallas Morning News reported Diocese says no, for now, to Episcopal split.

Update Thursday evening
This page from the Church of the Ascension in Dallas may shed some further light on the issue:

…At the end of the meeting Bishop Stanton stated that he, and in his opinion 80% of those he has met with, disapproved of the way Convention was run and/or disagreed with some of the outcomes. He then stated that, despite reports in the press to the contrary, he has not rejected the authority of the Presiding Bishop or anyone else. He shared with us his concerns that he feels we will loose some parishes maybe even prior to the convention. The uncertainty many of us felt about the role our Bishop would play in the ‘disassociation movement’ was diminished by his announcement that he was not going to leave the Episcopal Church whatever the outcome of the Diocesan convention in October, and that he was bound by our Canons and Constitution. Bishop Stanton further said that he acknowledges and accepts that Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori is the duly elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Further, he has not and will not ask the Archbishop of Canterbury for oversight from an Anglican leader instead of being under the umbrella of the American church.

Jim Naughton has also said he is confused about this, see Significant or merely curious?

Update Friday morning
The footnote 2 to this speech by Bishop Robert Duncan reads:

2 Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, San Joaquin, South Carolina, and Springfield have appealed for Alternative Primatial Oversight or Relationship. The Bishop of Dallas has withdrawn from the request, but the Bishops of Albany are considering joining the request.

The addition of Quincy was reported earlier. The possible addition of Albany is news. It is interesting that the references are to bishops rather than to dioceses.

Further research reminds me that what Bishop Stanton said (scroll down for his pastoral letter) on 5 July was this:

2. They [Standing Committee] ask me to “appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury for a direct primatial relationship …” Several dioceses have called for “alternative primatial oversight,” as you well know through news reports. I will discuss a direct relationship with the archbishop. This will be for the pastoral support of our mission, and assurance of our place in the Communion. I must emphasize that this relationship will be consistent with our constitution and canons, both of the diocese and of the General Church.

And yet, according to the Living Church:

Overseen by the Bishop of Dallas, the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, the 14-page petition for relief was sent to Lambeth Palace last month after Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams requested the dioceses to consolidate their requests for assistance.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 26 October 2006 at 8:44am BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 25 October 2006

South Carolina election consents

The episcopal election in South Carolina of Mark Lawrence has to be approved by a majority of the bishops with jurisdiction and a majority of the diocesan standing committees of ECUSA. (This was the election where one of the losing candidates announced shortly thereafter that he was going to work instead for the Anglican Mission in America, a separate ecclesial body, not part of the Anglican Communion, though with ties to the Province of Rwanda.)

Episcopal News Service reported: Via Media group asks bishops, standing committees to refuse consent to South Carolina bishop-elect.

The Via Media letters can be read here:
To Bishops
To Standing Committees

There is also a major article by Lionel Deimel here: No Consents.

And another article by Wake Up is here: There Is An Impediment. For more about this group, see here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 11:32pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Burundi update

Earlier, I mentioned a report from Burundi. Another report from Burundi was released after that: STATEMENT from the ANGLICAN CHURCH OF BURUNDI on the Anglican Communion.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 10:57pm BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Cohabitation: the CofE statement

Two weeks ago, the Archbishops’ Council issued a response to the Law Commission’s consultation Cohabitation: the Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown. The consultation closed on 30 September, but the documents are still available here. Main PDF document (warning: is 2.6 Mbytes).

The CofE press release about it is here. The full text of the Church of England response is here (PDF).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 24 October 2006 at 9:46am BST | Comments (33) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 21 October 2006

Weekend opinion

The Guardian’s “Face to faith” column is by Colin Sedgwick who writes that Self-harm has no place in the Christian discipline.

Christopher Howse’s regular “Credo” column in the Telegraph is Kindness amid persecution.

In The Times Jonathan Sacks writes Danger ahead - there are good reasons why God created atheists.

Giles Fraser also writes about atheists (and Richard Dawkins) in his Church Times column Atheists’ delusions about God.

Patrick Noonan writes in The Tablet about the modern missionary - From soul catcher to adventurer.

Saturday evening Addition

David Goodhart writes about God’s big comeback in the Guardian’s Comment is free.

Sunday Addition

Cristina Odone in The Observer It’s my cross and I’m proud to bare it.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 21 October 2006 at 10:40am BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 18 October 2006

church attendance

As we reported recently the latest annual official CofE attendance (and other) statistics were published on 15 September.

The 22 September issue of the Church Times carried some major articles related to this and some separate national research. Here are the links to those articles:

Faint signs of hope in church census results

The ‘regulars’ who come only once a year by Peter Brierley

Jesus and the 5000-ish by David Thomas

Breaking free from parish bounds by Sue Johns

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 18 October 2006 at 6:22pm BST | Comments (67) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 17 October 2006

more responses to Kigali and to the Panel report

There was an article in last week’s Church Times by Colin Slee which has already appeared on two other websites, Why the Kigali declaration is wrong. A response to it was already made by Archbishop Yong Ping Chung, the retired Archbishop of South East Asia, and published by Anglican Mainstream. This exchange is further discussed by Jim Naughton, who notes that:

AM, a British-based group, received $12,000 in funding last year from the American Anglican Council. (That’s according to the AAC’s IRS Form 990 for 2005.) So, an organization sustained in part by conservative American donors is downplaying the influence of conservative American donors.

This updates the information reported earlier about British use of such money.

And the Church of Burundi has issued a statement which appears to distance it from the Kigali report. Mark Harris comments on this in And then there were the Kigali Seventeen.

Turning to the Panel report, this has provoked a number of further responses.

One from LGCM is reproduced here below the fold. Update It is now also available here.

Another from Mark Harris says that Archbishop Gomez Should Step Down.

And, though written slightly earlier, this speech by Katie Sherrod is well worth reading.

Statement from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement 14th October 2006

The publication of the Panel of Reference report on the diocese of New Westminster [1] is a significant moment in the ongoing Anglican civil war.

Only now are the full implications of the Windsor Report being tested within the world-wide Church. In our view most commentators have ignored the significance of paragraph 146 of the Windsor Report and all that it implies when it says on human sexuality:

“it has to be recognised that debate on this issue cannot be closed whilst sincerely but radically different positions continue to be held across the Communion.” [2].

There is no definitive Anglican position on human sexuality at this time and this means that those who are reconciled to homosexual inclusion and those who are not both have a legitimate place within the Anglican family of Churches.

For the debate to move forward adequate provision has to be made for those minorities (on both sides) who do not agree with the local consensus. These provisions have to be meaningful, but they have to be agreed on locally and within the existing or expanded structures of each local church.

Those bishops and primates who have interfered in this legitimate process in Canada (and elsewhere) have in fact impeded reconciliation and the proper furtherance of the debate; it is hardly surprising that Archbishops Drexel Gomez and Gregory Venables should now be complaining loudly at the decisions of the panel [3].

The diocese of New Westminster on the other hand welcomes the decision of the Panel of Reference having cooperated fully in its deliberations [4] as does the leader of the Anglican Church in Canada [5].

This report from the Panel of Reference also challenges the vision and aspirations of the Global South group of Anglican Churches as laid out in the Kigali Communiqué [6]. We are led to believe that this Communiqué represented a compromise for those Anglican Primates who see lesbian and gay people as “evil” and a “perversion of human dignity” [7] and who are promoting laws [8] that would criminalise even those who wish to have a genuine debate [9].

In the context of this uneasy compromise within the Global South and taking into consideration the responses of Gomez and Venables to the findings of the Panel of Reference, it seems likely that more extreme agenda advocated by the Primate of Nigeria and others will once again come to the surface. It is clear that those Anglican leaders do not agree that the debate on human sexuality “cannot be closed” - they are determined that no such debate should take place in their own countries and no one who holds a different view should be allowed into their episcopate [10]

What is more they are willing to destroy the Anglican Communion to ensure this.

[ends]

1 http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/digest/index.cfm?years=2006&months=10&article=722&pos=#722

2 http://www.anglicancommunion.org/windsor2004/section_d/p3.cfm

3 http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/1307/

4 http://vancouver.anglican.ca/diocese/News/tabid/27/ctl/ViewArticle/ArticleId/384/mid/486/Default.aspx

5 http://www.anglican.ca/news/news.php?newsItem=2006-10-13_por.news

6 http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/articles/41/75/acns4193.cfm

7 http://www.anglican-nig.org/PH2006message2nation.htm

8 http://www.mediamax.com/mvthomster/Hosted/nigeria_gay_bill.pdf

9 http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2006/60241.htm

10 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4491376.stm

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 17 October 2006 at 1:13pm BST | Comments (20) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 15 October 2006

Getting Equal: not yet

Updated Monday

Today’s Observer has a front-page lead story by Gaby Hinsliff, political editor, entitled Cabinet split over new rights for gays.

According to the Observer:

The cabinet is in open warfare over new gay rights legislation after Tony Blair and Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, who is a devout Catholic, blocked the plans following protests from religious organisations.

Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, was so angry with the move that he wrote a letter to Kelly three weeks ago, telling her that the new rights should not be watered down.

The battle between what is being dubbed the government’s ‘Catholic tendency’ and their more liberal colleagues centres on proposals to stop schools, companies and other agencies refusing services to people purely because of their sexuality…

This confirms what I said last June in my Church Times article:

It is hard to see how the differences might be resolved, when the [Archbishops’] Council is asking for a wholesale exemption, and the Government is seeking to limit the Church’s protection from the law.

For more background links, see also here.

What the Observer article does not make clear is that the delay applies to two separate sets of regulations. Not only has the government delayed the publication of any proposed regulations relating to sexual orientation, envisaged in Part 3 of the Equality Act 2006, but it has also delayed bringing into effect the regulations relating to discrimination on the basis of religion or belief that were contained in Part 2 of the same act, have therefore already been approved by Parliament, and which were due to come into force this month. The official CofE position was broadly that the new regulations should parallel the wording used in Part 2.

Some of the more extreme religious groups, opposed even to the concept of such regulations, have restarted their campaign against them. See here for details. And also here. This campaign has been endorsed by Anglican Mainstream.

Update
There was a recent comment article in the Daily Telegraph and this letter was published last Friday in response to it. The signatories include the Archdeacon of Hampstead and the Vice Chairman of the House of Laity of the General Synod.

Monday
Today’s Guardian carries a report by Tania Branigan that Lib Dems urge Kelly to drop equalities brief. Toby Helm has a similar report in the Telegraph.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 15 October 2006 at 1:32pm BST | Comments (70) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 14 October 2006

opinion collection

In The Times Geoffrey Rowell writes this week’s “Credo” column about Egyptian desert monasticism: Amid the discipline and spirituality of the desert a saint was discovered.

Christopher Howse in his regular Saturday Telegraph column says that Prayer is what anyone can do.

The Guardian’s Face to Faith column is written by Trevor Dennis, and is about The Song of Songs.

Elsewhere, Theo Hobson wrote Anglicans, reform yourselves at commentisfree.

Christina Rees wrote about Women as Bishops for New Directions. See Unfolding Adventure.

And the Yorkshire Post interviewed Simon Lindley about hymns in Church music master hopes for chorus of approval.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 14 October 2006 at 12:59pm BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Friday, 13 October 2006

Panel of Reference reports on New Westminster

Updated again Saturday evening

ACNS Digest reports:

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s PANEL OF REFERENCE (POR) for the Anglican Communion report on the Diocese of New Westminster is now available at the following link on the Anglican Communion Website:
http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/reference/docs/report_october.pdf

The entire report is here presented in 32 paragraphs with 4 recommendations.

The Panel of Reference is chaired by the Most Revd Peter Carnley and staffed through the Anglican Communion Office, London, by the Revd Canon Gregory Cameron. The panel first met in July 2005.
The functions of the Panel include :

[at the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury] “to enquire into, consider and report on situations drawn to my attention where there is serious dispute concerning the adequacy of schemes of delegated or extended episcopal oversight or other extraordinary arrangements which may be needed to provide for parishes which find it impossible in all conscience to accept the direct ministry of their own diocesan bishop or for dioceses in dispute with their provincial authorities;

With [his] consent to make recommendations to the Primates, dioceses and provincial and diocesan authorities concerned, and to report to [him] on their response;

At the request of any Primate to provide a facility for mediation and to assist in the implementation of any such scheme in his own province.”

That PDF document does not allow extraction of the text, either in part or in whole, so we cannot at present easily quote it for you here.

Update we have now received a plain text version: here are the recommendations in full:

RECOMMENDATIONS

1. The Panel of Reference cannot recommend the proposals of the applicants for transfer of jurisdiction either to the ANiC or to CAPAC. The Diocese of New Westminster is part of the Anglican Communion within the Anglican Church of Canada, which is due to debate both Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference and the St Michael Report at its General Synod in June 2007. The most desirable outcome, as stated in TWR (see s.6 above) is for the theological dispute to be resolved and for reconciliation to be effected within the Anglican Church of Canada.

2. In the present temporary situation, the Panel recognises that an agreed scheme of extended episcopal ministry needs to be offered to a number of clergy and parishes within the Diocese of New Westminster, which will both provide for their spiritual needs and offer assurance of continuity for their distinctive theological tradition.

3. Such a scheme should be achieved within the Anglican Church in Canada itself, at national or provincial level. The bishop of a diocese is subject to the general ecclesiastical law of the church or province concerned, and one would look to the Anglican Church of Canada for action to be taken in the first instance. The provision of a scheme of Shared Episcopal Ministry [SEM] by the Canadian House of Bishops in 2004 offers a model which we believe to be appropriate, with some additional safeguards designed to take account of the special circumstances prevailing in this case, given the protracted and deep divisions which exist.

4. In order to command the confidence of the parishes and Diocese concerned, we consider it reasonable that any arrangements made for extended episcopal ministry should address certain key issues:

a. The two congregations which are not recognised as parishes of the Diocese of New Westminster (Holy Cross, Abbotsford and the Church of the Resurrection, Hope) should be offered a context by which they may formalise their relationship with the Diocese, within the provisions of local canon law.

b. A bishop should be appointed to provide extended episcopal ministry, whose name should be agreed jointly by the diocese and the applicants, for an initial (but renewable) period of three years, in the manner described by SEM, from the list maintained by the local province; or if that can not be agreed, at a national level as described by SEM. The visiting bishop should receive delegated authority to conduct Visitations and Confirmations on behalf of the Diocese of New Westminster within the parishes which have opted to receive SEM.

c. The bishop who provides extended episcopal ministry should be involved at all stages of the process in appointing new clergy and in the ordination process in respect of candidates from and for the parishes which seek this extended episcopal ministry, in consultation with representatives of the congregations. The licence of newly appointed or ordained clergy should be signed by the visiting bishop in addition to the diocesan bishop.

d. The Diocese of New Westminster should indicate formally that any previous disciplinary action against any clergy concerned is now at an end and that any record of this has been deleted from personal records.

e. A written assurance should be provided to the four parishes concerned that the Diocese has no intention of pursuing civil legal action against them or their officers or trustees on the basis of the dispute which began in June 2002, and does not intend to use Canon 15 in respect of church properties during the agreed period of temporary episcopal ministry provided by SEM.

f. Equally the congregations concerned should be willing to regularise their connections with the diocese, in matters such as diocesan synod attendance and the payment of diocesan assessments, in the course of the period of shared episcopal ministry.

The Diocese of New Westminster has published this response: Diocese welcomes report by Panel of Reference. The Anglican Church of Canada has issued Primate welcomes Panel of Reference Report.

Statements have also been published by Archbishop Drexel Gomez and Archbishop Gregory Venables. Both can be read at Stand Firm. Or at Global South Anglican: DG here, and GV here.

Further analysis of the report can be found at:
Fr Jake: Panel of Reference’s Report on New Westminster
Tobias Haller: Panel of Reference: Still In Communion
Jim Naughton: Panel of Reference speaks

The Living Church has two reports: Panel Rejects Jurisdiction for Parishes Seeking Alternative Oversight and Panel of Reference Report Called Inadequate.

The Anglican Network in Canada has issued this open letter in response.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 13 October 2006 at 3:26pm BST | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Nigeria: from the provincial website

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has published this article: FROM CARPENTER TO PRIMATE:Ambassador Sagay writes on Abp. Akinola. (Article in THE GUARDIAN of Sunday 1st October, 2006 reproduced with permission).

It is described on the homepage as “An interesting newspaper article showing a parishioner’s view of Abp. Peter Akinola …”

Here’s another more recent report from the Guardian about the plans for 14 October: Fellowship Holds Thanksgiving For Primate Akinola.

Mark Harris has some commentary about this at Preludium headed Shameless Commerce: Church of Nigeria style, as do his readers.

MadPriest also has comments.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 11 October 2006 at 9:48pm BST | Comments (51) | TrackBack
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Monday, 9 October 2006

Fulcrum responds to TA comments

In response to an earlier article here which linked to a piece by Andrew Goddard, several commenters responded strongly to that piece. Graham Kings has submitted this response:

As Fulcrum theological secretary, I offer the following few points concerning the posts about Fulcrum by JBE, Giles Fraser and Steve Watson:

1. JBE has commented about the founding of Fulcrum and Andrew Goddard’s role. My Fulcrum August newsletter, ‘Founding of Fulcrum’ shows that ‘proto-Fulcrum’ gathered first in October 2002, before the Reading controversy and the founding of Anglican Mainstream, and Andrew Goddard was part of Fulcrum from the beginning.

2. For Fulcrum’s original (and still valid) statement on sexual ethics, an issue raised by JBE and Steve Watson, see:
http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/centre.cfm?menuopt=1.

‘In the much-contested area of sexual ethics this means that the proper context for sexual expression is the union of a man and a woman in marriage. We will participate in debates on issues in sexual ethics arising today in the life of the Church and we identify as key references the CofE document Issues in Human Sexuality and Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference and True Union (a document shared with the Anglican Primates’ Meeting, Brazil 2003).’

See also our submission to the Lambeth Commission.

3. It was good to meet Giles Fraser at the launch of Fulcrum in November 2003 and yes, our aim then and now is to ‘renew the evangelical centre’. In our FAQ section, this is elucidated as:

‘It deliberately has two meanings: Fulcrum aims to renew the moderate centre of the evangelical tradition in the Church of England and also to renew the centre of the Church of England which is historically, and again currently, evangelical.

The sermon by Tom Wright launching Fulcrum may be seen on:www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm?ID=118

4. Giles Fraser also suggests that we are an arm of Anglican Mainstream. This is not the case. Anglican Mainstream is a single issue campaigning network whereas Fulcrum, as may be seen by the subjects of our articles, covers the whole range of theological and missiological issues. Although both are conservative on issues of sexuality, on other issues we differ from Anglican Mainstream eg in our attitude to the irregular ordinations in Southwark, and in that we positively advocate the consecration of women to the episcopate.

5. Finally, Andrew Goddard mentioned Michael Poon’s crucial article on the varying status of the Kigali Communique and the Road to Lambeth document. They are not of equal weight, and this whole discussion needs to take this difference of weight seriously:

‘We need to read The Road to Lambeth against the official document Kigali Communique, and indeed not the other way around. They are not two parallel statements from Kigali that bear the same authority.’

This is Michael Poon’s important comment in his perceptive response to the CAPA report ‘The Road to Lambeth’:
‘Quo Vadis? - Questions along the Road from Lambeth - A response to CAPA’s Invitation’, by Michael Poon, Global South Anglican site, 2 October 2006.

In a key passage of the article, Poon comments:

‘Shortly before the Kigali Meeting met, Canterbury issued a statement announcing that he has invited Archbishop Drexel Gomez to head a Covenant Design Group to draft an Anglican Covenant. He confirmed that this will be ‘a major and serious focus for the Lambeth Conference’. The Primates at Kigali greeted this in the most enthusiastic language. They believed that ‘an Anglican Covenant [that is now a major and serious focus for Lambeth 2008!] will demonstrate to the world that it is possible to be a truly global communion where differences are not affirmed at the expense of faith and truth but within the framework of a common confession of faith and mutual accountability’ (Communique, 7). In other words, the Global South Primates affirmed in clearest possible terms their intent to contribute in the Covenant processes. The Covenant constitutes the test of faithfulness (and membership). Lambeth 2008 will be the defining moment for the Communion.

Indeed, are not the recommendations in the Report superseded by recent events? Is not the Spirit of God at work, giving us more than we have ever imagined possible? Does not this explain why the CAPA Primates themselves did not explicitly endorse it at Kigali?’

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 9 October 2006 at 11:00pm BST | Comments (89) | TrackBack
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Nicholas Holtam responds to the Global South

A Response to the Primates of the Global South

Dear Friends in Christ

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus.

In the statement following the meeting of Anglican Primates from the Global South at Kigali you said you’re your vision is for a “global communion where differences are not affirmed at the expense of faith and truth but within the framework of a common confession of faith and mutual accountability”. You have begun to take initial steps towards the formation of a separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican Church in the USA. You received a draft report called ‘The Road to Lambeth’ commissioned by the Primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa and commended it to your churches for study and response. You also commended this report “for wider reflection”. This response is part of that process.

“The Road to Lambeth” is based on five assumptions. These assume too much, or too little, or are just plain wrong, and consequently the document cannot support the breadth of traditional Anglicanism. It misquotes and misuses the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral which, ironically, was formulated as the basis for Christian unity and the fulfilment of Christ’s prayer, “that they all may be one”. You assert interpretations of three texts about homosexuality “as a sign of fallenness and a sin separating one from salvation”. In this you are asserting one conclusion to what is now generally recognised as more complex exegesis, thereby ruling out all views but your own. These texts are about homosexuality and abuse associated with idolatry . For at least some Christians they do not settle the matter with regard to what we are now considering, baptised people in loving and faithful same sex relationships. In keeping with your vision for the Communion, faithful exegesis also requires an element of mutual challenge holding us accountable to experiences that differ from our own.

The fifth assumption is simply extraordinary - “the requirement that believers not associate with openly immoral church members (1 Cor 5.1-13; 2 Thes 3.14)”. This universalises specific teaching in a way that could never have been intended by St Paul. One is tempted to ask if it is alright to continue to associate with those who aren’t so open about their immorality; to assert the more significant assumption that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness; and to quote Jesus’ teaching about forgiving the sinner not seven times but seventy times seven.

The Christian Church has a great deal of experience of divisive issues about which faithful Christians disagree strongly. In the first century circumcision and attitudes to Jewish food laws were hotly contested but those issues got resolved within the pages of the New Testament and that settles the matter for us. Many issues did not. For example, the way of peace was at the heart of Jesus’ ministry. In the life of the Church this has resulted in two quite distinct and sometimes contradictory strands: Christian pacifism and the Just War tradition. We have learned to live with both and we now recognise the fruitful tensions between these fundamentally different approaches to war and peace. Christians do not see such differences – while significant and having potentially serious implications for ethical decision making – as being detrimental to “a common confession of faith”.

For those Christians who assert “the supreme authority of Scripture” this dispute is about whether the Anglican Church is keeping faith. The difficulty with this approach is that the meaning of Scripture is not always plain and simple and needs interpretation. Further, for Anglicans Christian ethics have never simply been Biblical ethics. We also use as authorities the tradition of Church teaching (a faithful wisdom from the Church down the ages), as well as the authority of our God-given reason and intellect. These three authorities work together to help us discern the work and will of God.

In John’s Gospel Jesus says that the Spirit will lead us into all truth, not that we already have all truth. From Kigali you say in effect that there is no new truth to be discovered in relation to human sexuality. In response many of us, and not just those who are homosexual by nature, and not just those in the rich West or North of the world, will say that we asked for bread and you gave us stones.

The reason homosexuality has become so divisive is because it is the touchstone for other matters. In the current debate these issues that purport to be about the use of scripture have got attached to separate but also fundamental issues about the legacy of colonialism. You assert that “70% of the active membership of the Anglican Communion” is in the Global South. As the Primates of the Global South you observe that your Provinces are under-represented in the senior positions within the Anglican Communion which is still in the control of “the Anglo-American bloc”. History and money are the reasons but you are right and the time to face the new reality is overdue.

However, this sort of structural issue is deeply difficult to resolve. Of course there has to be pressure for change to take place, but there is an evident willingness within the Anglican Communion to listen to and address the experience of the Global South. For example on development issues the Anglo-American bloc of the Anglican Church has led public opinion and many of the political processes that are seeking greater justice.

This is not a simple area of discussion and agreeable debate. There is an aspect of the current dispute which looks as though the Anglo-American bloc has exported its contentious issue of the moment – same sex relationships – to parts of the world where this issue is not particularly pressing and other matters seem more urgent.

I wonder if you realise that the tone and style of your statement is as offensive as the worst aspects of colonialism and neo-colonialism that you oppose? It is bullying to assert the will of the majority of the Communion in ways that permit no disagreement. The majority is not always right. It is also theologically deeply flawed. Jesus taught the significance of the Kingdom of heaven being known in the outcast and in the child. The Global South knows this from its own experience. Might it also be the experience of Christians in the Anglo-American bloc in relation to gender, race and sexual orientation? Perhaps this is why the recent processes of the Anglican Communion have emphasised the need to listen carefully to our differing experiences?

Each Primate represents an autonomous Province within the Communion. In the actions you are proposing the Primates of the Global South have given in to the pressure to interfere in the legitimate business of autonomous Anglican Provinces, thereby offending fundamental principles of Church order. It is a gross breach of Christian discipline for any Primate to organise parallel structures within another Province in the pretence that this furthers “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”.

“The Road to Lambeth” begins by saying we are at a crossroads, a parting of two ways. It looks different from Trafalgar Square in London. At St Martin-in-the-Fields we have been able to hold together a very diverse church community including British people with roots in many of your Provinces. We also welcome visitors from around the Communion, including from your Provinces. We have welcomed some of you. Our unity is in Christ and our being in Communion depends not on whether we agree about matters of morality but because Christ calls us, “to do this in memory of him”.

St Martin-in-the-Fields’ experience is unique but every parish church knows what it is to be the world’s local church. That the Provinces are straining apart is contradicted by the daily realities of local church life and ought to give you pause for thought. What we daily see with our eyes and touch with our hands is, even in the imperfect Anglican Communion, an experience of what it is to know Christ and to grow together in greater depth and maturity.

In the past we have based the organisational unity of our Communion on a broad and generous expression of Christianity, such as the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. This has created a variety of complementary and overlapping Anglican identities. Just because you choose to define “The Road to Lambeth” from Kigali by the image of our being at a crossroads and the way ahead as a narrow road, does not mean this is the way of Christ. I urge you to recognise that at least some of those with whom you disagree are also seeking to walk faithfully in the light of Christ. Please think and pray very hard as you consult your own Provinces because the arguments you have used are fatally flawed and from where I stand the direction you propose looks deeply misguided.

Revd Nicholas Holtam
Vicar, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London
St Francis’ Day 4th October 2006

The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral
The following Articles supply [a basis for Christian unity]:
1. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as “containing all things necessary to salvation,” and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith.
2. The Apostles’ Creed, as the Baptismal Symbol; and the Nicene Creed, as the sufficient statement of the Christian faith.
3. The two Sacraments ordained by Christ Himself - Baptism and the Supper of the Lord - ministered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of Institution, and of the elements ordained by Him.
4. The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church.
As adopted by the Lambeth Conference of 1888, Resolution 11

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 9 October 2006 at 10:40pm BST | Comments (36) | TrackBack
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A further IC response to Kigali

INCLUSIVECHURCH: A FURTHER RESPONSE TO THE “KIGALI COMMUNIQUE

In September 2006, a Global South Primates Meeting was held and the Kigali Communiqué published. We are among the many Anglicans concerned that its direction is at odds with our understanding of Scripture and the essence of Anglican tradition.

It is disappointing that the Communiqué renounces fellowship with Anglicans in North America and provincial autonomy, and commends for further reflection ‘The Path to Lambeth’, which condemns provinces as following the ‘way of idolatry’ if they take a different view on theology or even comply with equality laws. This also claims that there is a general ‘requirement that believers not associate with openly immoral church members’; and ‘We in the Global South have always made repentance the starting point for any reconciliation and resumption of fellowship in the Communion.’ This echoes Archbishop Peter Akinola’s earlier description of the Episcopal Church of the USA as a ‘cancerous lump’ which must be ‘excised’.

Witnessing in a broken world

The Communiqué draws attention to the tragedy of the genocide in Rwanda, to which primates and other leaders responded by ‘prayer and reflection. We were chastened by this experience and commit ourselves not to abandon the poor or the persecuted wherever they may be and in whatever circumstances. We add our voices to theirs and we say, “Never Again!”’ It continues, ‘As we prayed and wept at the mass grave of 250,000 helpless victims we confronted the utter depravity and inhumanity to which we are all subject outside of the transforming grace of God.’

Over the past century, widespread cruelty and slaughter have taken place not only in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America but also in Europe. Many vividly remember when Hitler’s regime, which held that some people were superior and others subhuman, murdered large numbers of Jewish and disabled people, and locked gypsies and gays, communists and feminists in concentration camps which many did not survive. How have ordinary people repeatedly been persuaded to go along with ethnic ‘cleansing’ and other barbarity?

Factors perhaps include the tendency of humans to feel distaste or contempt for, or distance themselves from, those regarded as ‘other’. Most disturbingly, while some Christians have bravely resisted, other devout believers have been convinced that mistreating others was doing God’s will. Through the centuries many have believed that the Bible justified anti-Semitism and separation of humankind into different ‘races’ or violence against the defenceless. It is all too easy not to question what teachers, pastors and national leaders claim is righteous and true. Scripture and tradition, as well as claims of social progress, have been misused to justify victimising others, not recognising them as children of the same heavenly Father, in whose image they are made. Indeed ‘The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse – who can understand it?’ (Jeremiah 17.9).

Less obviously, in both the global South and North, the destitute and abandoned largely go unnoticed by the prosperous and comfortable, apart from occasional acts of charity. Often Christians as well as non-Christians pass by on the other side (Luke 10.25-37), unwilling to enter too deeply into the lives of those whose experience is different from their own.

Humility is called for on the part of Anglicans throughout the world who wish to challenge cruelty and injustice and grow more like their Shepherd, who teaches people to love even their enemies (Matthew 5.43-48), patiently seeks the lost (Luke 15) and is willing to lay down his life for his sheep (John 10.11-16). ‘Evangelical’ or ‘Anglo-Catholic’, ‘liberal’ or ‘traditional’, we can only witness authentically to a broken world if we can admit our own fallibility.

Being Anglican

Nevertheless Anglicanism has something to offer the world. It arose from the ashes of brutal conflict in which pious Christians burnt or beheaded one another in God’s name. Former enemies, joined in a common baptism, together partook of the body and blood of Christ.

Decolonisation further decentralised power in the Anglican Communion, as did the increased role of laypeople in decision-making. There is no single authority which wields control everywhere, which could stifle cultural and theological diversity.

At best, Anglican engagement with Scripture, tradition and reason (and experience, some would add) has provided fertile ground for the workings of the Holy Spirit. It has sometimes taken a long time to reach consensus, and profound theological disagreements remain on issues ranging from lay presidency at communion to nuclear warfare, remarriage of divorcees and homosexuality. Patience can be hard, not only for those who believe that harmful teachings and practices are not being strongly enough challenged but also for others who feel that their vocation or very humanity has not been recognised because of their gender, sexuality, ethnicity or disability. But in time correct ideas are generally confirmed and wrong ones abandoned, in the context of shared worship, prayer and care for the sick and needy.

Dare any of us judge others, confident that we occupy the moral high ground (Matthew 7.1-5)? Does the language of “The Road to Lambeth” reflect the wisdom from above that is pure, peaceable, gentle and full of mercy (James 3.13-18)? Can we presume to come to the Lord’s table trusting in our own righteousness, and insist that certain of our brothers and sisters be barred if we are to attend? Jesus himself was criticised for eating with sinners (Matthew 9.11-13); are the disciples greater than the master? And if strong differences of opinion arise over other matters (which is likely) might there not be further splits? Will clergy who disagree with legitimate decisions within their provinces again seek out archbishops overseas to offer episcopal oversight? This is not in accord with Anglican tradition, and sets a poor example to a divided world.

Living with difference can be painful, and it may take time to learn to dispute difficult issues with kindness, respect and empathy. But the breadth of Anglicanism is part of our inheritance which we should cherish. Through continuing to eat and drink together at the Lord’s table and seeking to love across boundaries of culture and opinion, Anglicans may experience spiritual renewal and play a greater part in the healing of the nations.

Prepared by Savitri Hensman, Anglican Matters and member of InclusiveChurch executive

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 9 October 2006 at 10:30pm BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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InclusiveChurch on San Joaquin

Statement from InclusiveChurch regarding the Diocese of San Joaquin

9th October 2006

1.0 On October 1st, the Diocese of San Joaquin in California gave notice that it is calling a conference on 1st and 2nd December 2006 following proposals to amend the Diocesan constitution. The amendments would “place the Diocese of San Joaquin in an ideal position to be part of any ecclesiastical structure that the Archbishop of Canterbury and Primates might design”.

There can be little doubt that we are witnessing the rolling out of a carefully planned and well-funded strategy to create a church-within-a-church. If San Joaquin is successful, it will probably be followed by the other Dioceses seeking Alternative Primatial Oversight (APO). From there, it is likely that non-geographical missionary dioceses will be created, so that parallel structures will exist initially in the United States but thereafter in Canada, the United Kingdom and across the world.

2.0 This in tandem with the “Road to Lambeth” document and the Kigali Communique further confirm that the attempt to subvert traditional Anglicanism is already well advanced. We view these developments with deep concern.

3.0 InclusiveChurch is a broad-based organisation. Our supporters, across the world, include evangelicals, broad-church Anglicans, liberals and catholics. The partners with whom we work very closely include: Accepting Evangelicals, Changing Attitude, the Association of Black Clergy, the Modern Churchpeoples’ Union, the Society of Catholic Priests, Women and The Church, the Group for the Rescinding of the Act of Synod, Affirming Catholicism and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. We are orthodox Anglicans. We care deeply about the Gospel of Jesus Christ as communicated through the Anglican tradition. We look to the tradition of Lancelot Andrewes and Richard Hooker: “One Canon (of Scripture) reduced to unity by God Himself, two Testaments, three Creeds, four General Councils, (over) five centuries.” We understand the Anglican Communion to be both Catholic and Reformed, episcopally governed and synodically led. And we give thanks to God for its breadth, its diversity and its complex life.

4.1 It is in this context that we believe that what we are seeing is a serious distortion of Anglican polity and theology. In particular, bodies which have no legal or executive status in Anglicanism - notably the Lambeth Conference and the Primates Meetings - are being promoted to a position where they are being used to override fundamental Anglican principles - provincial autonomy and synodical government. Resolution 1.10 - which came at the end of a notoriously unedifying debate and is the flawed result of a badly managed process - apparently justifies the elevation of the Windsor Report to a quasi-legal status with the Primates sitting as judge and jury on the “Windsor compliance” of the Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC).

4.2 None of this is acceptable. Primates are not cardinals. The Primates’ meeting is not the Curia. Primates of any part of the Anglican Communion do not have the right to commit their provinces to action without implementing detailed and comprehensive synodical processes. The Windsor Report was an attempt to find a way through the apparent impasse we had reached. We acknowledge that it has, in the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury, been “widely accepted as a basis for any progress”. As a result and in order to go the extra mile, TEC and the ACC have agreed in the interests of unity both to withdraw from the meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council and to major amendments in provincial practice. But the notion that TEC has in some way “broken the rules” has no place in Anglican ecclesiology.

5.0 Savitri Hensman has written “Anglicanism has something to offer the world. It arose from the ashes of brutal conflict in which pious Christians burnt or beheaded one another in God’s name. Former enemies, joined in a common baptism, together partook of the body and blood of Christ.

Decolonisation further decentralised power in the Anglican Communion, as did the increased role of laypeople in decision-making. There is no single authority which wields control everywhere, which could stifle cultural and theological diversity.

Dare any of us judge others, confident that we occupy the moral high ground (Matthew 7.1-5)? Does the language of “The Road to Lambeth” language reflect the wisdom from above that is pure, peaceable, gentle and full of mercy (James 3.13-18)? Can we presume to come to the Lord’s table trusting in our own righteousness, and insist that certain of our brothers and sisters be barred if we are to attend? Jesus himself was criticised for eating with sinners (Matthew 9.11-13); are the disciples greater than the master? And if strong differences of opinion arise over other matters (which is likely) might there not be further splits? Will clergy who disagree with legitimate decisions within their provinces again seek out archbishops overseas to offer episcopal oversight? This is not in accord with Anglican tradition, and sets a poor example to a divided world.” (InclusiveChurch: a further response to the Kigali Communique - by Savitri Hensman)

6.0 This statement is being written in a thriving, inner city parish in South London. Half of the congregation are from Nigeria; one fifth from Sierra Leone and Ghana. Some are gay or lesbian. We do not agree on everything. But we meet, every Sunday, at the altar and share in the eucharist. We give thanks, every Sunday, that we are the Body of Christ; by the one spirit we were all baptised into one body.

6.1 The approach being taken by the “Global South” and the dioceses seeking APO seems to assume a theological dualism. Those who ascribe to a particular series of beliefs, coalescing around attitudes to homosexuality, are right. Everyone else is wrong. In the words of the Archbishop of Nigeria “Who ever subscribes to this covenant must abide by it and those who are unable to subscribe to it will walk out”. We see no place in Anglicanism for the description by a Primate of another province as a “cancer” which must be “rooted out”.

7.0 We call on all members of our communion - laity, clergy and bishops - to recognise the clear and present danger to the charism with which we are entrusted. In a world where modernity is increasingly rejected, and where the “lust for certainty” is increasingly paramount, the Anglican Communion has a great deal to offer. In the words of the Archbishop of Cape Town “We must not lose this inheritance, if we are serious about being faithful to the Lord, as he has been faithful to us.”

For further information and to sign up as a supporter of InclusiveChurch’s aims, go to www.inclusivechurch.net.

Giles Goddard - Chair -
On behalf of the InclusiveChurch Executive

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 9 October 2006 at 10:03pm BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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CofE bishops feel marginalised by government

Jonathan Wynne-Jones had an exclusive in the Sunday Telegraph headlined Drive for multi-faith Britain deepens rifts, says Church.

The BBC followed up on this by interviewing the Bishop of Hulme, Stephen Lowe:

According to the Sunday Telegraph, “The Church of England has delivered an astonishing assault on ministers’ attempts to turn Britain into a multifaith society”. The criticisms are said to come from a confidential church document written by The Archbishop of Canterbury’s interfaith adviser and discussed at a House of Bishop’s meeting last week. The document is reported as saying that the drive to make minority faith communities more integrated has backfired, that the Muslim community has been given privileged attention and that the Church of England has been sidelined. Roger [Bolton] is joined by the Bishop of Hulme, Stephen Lowe, who was this week appointed as the first Church of England Bishop for Urban Life and Faith and who has seen the document.
Listen (4m 14s).

The BBC website reported this too: Bishop defends multi-faith fears

The Church of England issued this official response today: Community cohesion: a response to media coverage. More on the CofE’s Inter Faith Relations here.

Ekklesia’s report is headlined Church advisor complains of marginalisation by Government

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 9 October 2006 at 4:00pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Changing Attitude on Kigali

Changing Attitude England has published a lengthy response to the Kigali communiqué and The Road to Lambeth. Read it in full here.

The Kigali communiqué published at the conclusion of the Global South meeting and The Road to Windsor document have received widespread coverage and reaction. While many parts of the church are engaged in discussion about the impact of the communiqué on the future of the Anglican Communion, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Anglicans have been feeling deep anxiety and fear…

One gay Anglican commented this week about Archbishop Finlay, retired bishop of Toronto, who presided at the blessing of a lesbian couple and as a result had his licence to officiate at marriages suspended:

“As I’m sure many gay people do, I find this “debate” enormously painful. Painted, as it is, in such stark, uncompromising terms, and apparently so one-sided, it is easy to lapse into self-doubt, to question one’s decisions of the past. Archbishop Finlay has given hope and encouragement to me, and countless others, who might despair, and, God forbid, begin to loathe themselves again.”

This is the effect Global South attitudes have on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Anglicans. They create fear, anxiety, self-loathing…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 9 October 2006 at 10:58am BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 7 October 2006

still more about Kigali

Earlier in the week, Jonathan Petre reported for the Telegraph that Williams told to act over gay clergy or face summit boycott:

Conservative Anglican leaders are urging the Archbishop of Canterbury to crack down on gay clergy in England or risk a boycott of the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

The archbishops, mainly from Africa and Asia, have expressed privately to Dr Rowan Williams their fears that the Church of England is fast becoming as liberal as its American counterpart.

They are particularly angry that bishops are failing to discipline gay clergy who have openly defied official guidelines on civil partnerships.

The concerns were raised at the Global South summit in Rwanda earlier this month, though no direct reference was included in their final statement. However, in a fresh blow to hopes for unity, sources said a number of archbishops may refuse to attend the Lambeth Conference, the 10-yearly summit of bishops held in Canterbury…

Andrew Goddard at Fulcrum has published a lengthy analysis, Fulfilled or Finished? which responds to the InclusiveChurch article by Giles Goddard (no relation), published earlier:

…The Inclusive Church statement (written by its Chair, Giles Goddard) and the GS documents to which it responds make evident just how serious are the differences and how wide is the gulf between Anglicans. They also signal how seriously - and how soon - we may face realignments that would bring about ‘the end of the Communion’ as we know it. The differences now becoming very clear relate not only to where we go from here but also understandings of where we are and how we got here.

The following offers an initial response to Giles Goddard’s various points in the hope that, by dialogue and listening, we may in the months ahead come to understand better where different perspectives are coming from and whether they are ultimately irreconcilable within the same ecclesial structures…

Thanks to Nick Knisely for drawing my attention to this analysis:Kigali, Covenant and Communion written by a Canadian blogger.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 7 October 2006 at 7:28pm BST | Comments (34) | TrackBack
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opinions this Saturday

Christopher Howse uses his Saturday Telegraph column to write about church schools in Debt of thanks to church schools. Ekklesia was less enthused about the Church of England’s recent press release as reported in Church schools policy dubbed ‘un-Christian’ as criticism grows.

Many people today are discussing what Jack Straw said about veils. The Guardian had a leader: Veiled issue. So does the Telegraph, Integration can’t be achieved behind the veil. And The Times has Veiled threat. Ruth Gledhill has a lot of background information and links here. Simon Barrow has an analysis at Good governance needs bridges not barriers in relating to Muslims.

In the Guardian’s Face to Faith column, John Coutts of the Salvation Army writes about the Caucasus.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 7 October 2006 at 5:22pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 4 October 2006

more on Kigali

The Church Times last week had a news report by Pat Ashworth: Global South Primates call for a ‘separate structure’ in USA.

The newspaper also had a leading article: Taking the road from Kigali:

…a determination to “stand against evil” is not a normal starting point for discussions about the better working of the Church Catholic. It helps to explain the Primates’ antagonistic stance towards the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the United States, though this is cloaked as a willingness to respond to those inside the US who have asked for outside assistance and oversight. But, however explicable, the decision to set up a parallel organisation in an existing province - unbidden - is a schismatic act; for what is a “separate ecclesiastical structure” but a Church?

The Kigali Primates speak of proceeding “in consultation with the instruments of unity in the Communion”. This is a perverse idea in the circumstances. None of those instruments - the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates’ Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Lambeth Conference - could countenance such a move. It is possible that the Global South Primates believe the US Episcopal leadership to be so discredited that the rest of the Communion will allow a new organisation to take its place as the official Anglican body there. It is more likely that they are not particularly interested in seeking permission. The document The Road to Lambeth, endorsed by the Primates of the Global South, hopes that its road ahead “may pass through Lambeth, our historical mother. But above all it must be the road of the Cross.”…

Michael Poon at Global South Anglican had some comments about the most contentious of the documents from Kigali: Quo Vadis? – Questions along the Road from Lambeth - A response to CAPA’s Invitation:

The Road to Lambeth is an appeal for faithfulness to God. It also recommends the way by which we keep this faith. These are two related but distinct summons. It is important to bear this in mind as we read the Report. My purpose here is to heed the Global South Primates’ advice to reflect on this draft report.

I begin with an observation on the status of the Report. The Report states in its Preamble that it was commissioned by CAPA Primates in February 2006. CAPA Primates received it “with gratitude” on 19 September 2006. They did not say they approved it; rather they “commended [it] for study and response to the churches of the provinces in Africa”.

The Kigali Communiqué takes a more reserved view on the Report. In sharp contrast with the enthusiastic language used on the Anglican Covenant processes earlier in Section 7 of the Communiqué, the Global South Primates stated that they “receive” the Report. They noted that “it highlights the crisis that now confronts us” and “commend this report for wider reflection”. In other words, they recognized the depth of the crisis that called for faithfulness. However, they shied away from endorsing the particular solutions the Report offered.

What then is the status of the Road to Lambeth? A CAPA commission drafted it and presented it to their Primates in September. CAPA Primates now officially recommends it for wider study. They have not mentioned how they will follow it up. The Global South Primates takes note of it as a document from CAPA, and commends it for wider reflection within the Communion…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 4 October 2006 at 2:08pm BST | Comments (56) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Responding to domestic abuse

Update The report can now be downloaded from the CofE website (458 kB pdf file).

The Church of England has launched a set of guidelines for anyone with pastoral responsibility as part of the Church’s commitment to victims of domestic abuse and to addressing the circumstances that lead to such abuse. The press release is here. Responding to Domestic Abuse: Guidelines for those with pastoral responsibility was produced in response to a motion passed by General Synod in July 2004.

Two press reports concentrate on the reasons for abuse rather than on how to respond to it.

Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph Traditional marriage vows ‘could be used to justify wife beating’

Ruth Gledhill in The Times Distorted Christianity ‘causing abuse’

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 3 October 2006 at 2:45pm BST | Comments (46) | TrackBack
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Urban Life and Faith

The Church of England is to appoint its first Bishop for Urban Life and Faith. To quote the press release

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have appointed the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, Bishop of Hulme, to promote the dissemination and implementation of the report Faithful Cities, the follow up report to Faith in the City, which was widely welcomed at its launch in May. The appointment is for three years, during which the Bishop will respond to issues of urban policy and life on behalf of the Church.

The press release about Faithful Cities and the Faithful Cities website.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 3 October 2006 at 2:44pm BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Ndungane preaches at Southwark

Stephen Bates has written about the sermon preached at Southwark Cathedral by Njongonkulu Ndungane the Archbishop of Cape Town. You can read the sermon itself in full here. Please do read it all.

The comment piece is published under the headline Harvesting intolerance. It covers the sermon, but also several other current events. It’s also worth reading all the way through.

Update
The BBC Sunday radio programme’s Jane Little also interviewed the archbishop:

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane
The slow and painful story of the disintegration of the Anglican communion continues to unfold. The divisions over homosexuality have pitted church leaders from the south - largely in Africa - against liberals in the west for condoning something they see as unbiblical. But one prominent African archbishop has long called for tolerance and has now broken with his fellow archbishops accusing them in turn of standing on the brink of destroying Anglicanism. Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane joins Jane in the studio.
Listen (5m 52s)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 3 October 2006 at 4:19am BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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San Joaquin: diocesan convention plans

The Living Church has two reports about the Diocese of San Joaquin:
San Joaquin Reschedules Diocesan Convention and San Joaquin to Consider Leaving The Episcopal Church.

Episcopal News Service has San Joaquin diocese to consider constitutional amendments severing relationship with the Episcopal Church.

All of these are prompted by this announcement on the diocesan website:

Due to recent meetings held within the Anglican Communion, the annual convention in the Diocese of San Joaquin was postponed to convene on December 1st and 2nd of this year, so that clergy and delegates would be better prepared to respond to any decisions made by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Primates that might affect us.

Meetings held in Houston by the Windsor Bishops, as well as the meeting of Primates in Kigali, Rwanda during September, were encouraging to those who have anticipated redefined relationships within the Anglican Communion.

In anticipation of some of the changes that have come about through the above mentioned meetings, constitutional amendments have been proposed that place the Diocese of San Joaquin in an ideal position to be part of any ecclesiastical structure that the Archbishop of Canterbury and Primates might design.

The Diocese of San Joaquin remains true to the Apostolic teaching and practice of the Episcopal Church that it received by being part of the Anglican Communion. The constitutional changes currently being proposed by the diocese affect neither this faith nor practice but rather perpetuate the historic Faith of the Church in a time when these things are being challenged by others.

Proposed Constitutional changes that have been on file with the Secretary of Convention since September 1st may be found here [PDF file].

Fr Van McCalister
Public Relations Officer
Diocese of San Joaquin

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 3 October 2006 at 3:55am BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Camp Allen: Lambeth Palace comments

The Living Church has published this report by George Conger: Archbishop of Canterbury Clarifies Role in Camp Allen Meeting. The quotation from Jonathan Jennings reads:

“The Archbishop of Canterbury was not involved in the organization of the Texas meeting and the Bishops of Durham and Winchester did not attend at his request,” Mr. Jennings noted.

“Once they had been invited by the organizers, they sought his consent to become involved in these discussions. This was discussed in the context of other initiatives and of the statements publicly made by the Archbishop since the General Convention, and consent was given to their participation in their own right in the Texas meeting,” he said.

Links to the conflicting reports: what Bishop Wimberly said originally, what the Camp Allen letter said, what the Presiding Bishop said.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 3 October 2006 at 3:27am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Martyn Minns and Peter Lee

Following rumours over the weekend, the Diocese of Virginia has now confirmed that the Bishop of Virginia, Peter Lee, has offered a licence to the Cana Missionary Bishop of the Church of Nigeria, Martyn Minns, to serve until the end of 2006 as priest-in-charge of Truro Church. However the letter from Peter Lee says he has not yet received Martyn Minns’ signature on the licence.

Here is the official press release:A letter to the Diocese of Virginia from the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop:

October 2, 2006

Dear Friends:

On August 20, 2006, the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns was consecrated a bishop in the Church of Nigeria. That act established his canonical residence in Nigeria and ended his canonical residence in the Diocese of Virginia. Consequently, as a Bishop from another province of the Anglican Communion, Martyn’s ability to function in any jurisdiction other than Nigeria, where he is canonically resident, requires that he be licensed by the Bishop with oversight.

As you well know, the vestry of Truro Church, where Martyn had served as rector since 1991, desired that he be allowed to serve in an ordained leadership capacity while they continue their search for a new rector, and I have been in conversation with the vestry as well as the diocesan Standing Committee, the diocesan Chancellor and others seeking their counsel on this question. Those conversations have concluded in such a way that I believe responds pastorally to the needs of Truro Church and maintains the integrity of the Canons of the Diocese and of The Episcopal Church with respect to ordained service, diocesan and provincial boundaries and episcopal authority.

Accordingly, I have licensed Martyn to serve as priest-in-charge of Truro church through January 1, 2007. The details of the license also establish that Martyn will perform no episcopal acts in the Diocese of Virginia through January 1, 2007 and that Martyn will exercise his ministry in compliance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church and The Diocese of Virginia. The license I issued requires Martyn’s signature. While I have not yet received the executed license, and had not intended to write to you until I had received it, I write to you now in light of the wide publicity being given to Martyn’s letter to the Truro congregation issued late last Friday.

I believe our response to this peculiar situation achieves the goal of discerning a resolution that expresses our concern for the pastoral needs of this congregation, honors the Church and glorifies God.

While I believe this resolution brings this matter to a close, I have no illusion that it satisfies those who continue in conflict over the actions of the 75th General Convention. As you read this, some in the Diocese are in the midst of an organized program of discernment to examine the future of their relationship with The Episcopal Church and The Diocese of Virginia.

While there can be no predetermined outcome for the results of engaging the Holy Spirit, as I write this, I am mindful of the centuries of the faithful who built up the Diocese of Virginia following periods of great division and destruction. I pray that, whatever may be the result of this period of discernment for the members of these congregations, in the end each member will choose to remain a faithful part of the Body of Christ as constituted in our Diocese and in our Church.

Faithfully,

Peter James Lee

Bishop of Virginia

The rumours were reported here, and here, and here. The original report here has still not returned.

Other blogs also commented: see Fr Jake here, and Mark Harris here and later here.

You can see a TV interview with Martyn Minns recorded on 29 September here. Richard Kew comments here.

Episcopal News Service has reported this: VIRGINIA: Bishops Lee, Minns reach agreement on Truro Church

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 3 October 2006 at 2:45am BST | Comments (9) | TrackBack
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