Friday, 31 August 2007

postscript to a most agonising journey

The original Word document that was at the centre of this story last week was published on the web five days ago. The publication of this original file does not seem to have attracted much notice.

Go here and scroll down to find it. If you have the software to read an MS Word file, you can see the Martyn Minns and Chris Sugden entries for yourself.

George Conger has written about this story for the Church of England Newspaper under the heading Archbishop Rebuffs Claim of Re-Written Pastoral Letter.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 31 August 2007 at 6:53pm BST | Comments (31) | TrackBack
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more on the Kenya consecrations

Ruth Gledhill has more on her blog about this: Speculation over whether Atwood et al to come to Lambeth

The Times had this report from Rob Crilly in Nairobi US congregations defect to Africa as schism over gay priests widens

Andrew Carey has published his CEN column, Anglican chaos.

Anglican Mainstream reports English General Synod members send congratulations on African consecrations. Those listed include the Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali.

At Fulcrum Graham Kings expresses his reservations, see this discussion thread.

And the Associated Press reports US priests getting ordained in Kenya say American church has lost its way

Both sides of the argument say the issue goes deeper than simple acceptance of homosexuality. Liberal Anglicans say the Bible’s message of tolerance means there should be a place for everyone in church, but conservatives say that is bending the word of God to fit fashion.

“American males who are homosexually active have a life span that is three decades shorter than the norm,” Atwood said Wednesday. “How can a church say, ‘You are precious, we care about you, we love you, we want the best for you and now we want to bless behaviors that cause you to die three decades early’?”

See here for comment on the source of this claim.

Episcopal News Service has KENYA: Two former Episcopal priests consecrated as bishops for North America

The BBC’s Alex Kirby has written Kenya consecration deepens Anglican rift.

..So when one bishop (in this case Dr Nzimbi) acts in a way that undercuts the authority of another bishop, it is the clearest possible way of emphasising the church’s disunity.

What Dr Nzimbi is saying, in effect, is that he knows better than the US bishops about the pastoral needs of their people.

The two new bishops promised to “serve the international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya, to serve clergy and congregations in North America under the Kenyan jurisdiction”.

It is a formula which ignores the fact that none of the Anglican Communion’s member churches has any international interests of its own.

All are - in theory - united in working for the interests of the Communion itself.

And the claim that there are North American Anglicans “under the Kenyan jurisdiction” is breathtaking in the way it opens the door to ecclesiastical anarchy.

No doubt Dr Nzimbi believes the consecrations are in the best interests of Kenyan Anglicans, and of their fellow believers elsewhere in Africa.

In fact they look very unlikely to be anything of the sort…

Boston Globe Consecration in Kenya widens a religious rift

Voice of America Kenya’s Anglican Church Ordains American Bishops

Church Times Archbishop of Kenya consecrates bishops to work in US

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Thursday, 30 August 2007

Kenya consecrations

Updated Friday

William Atwood and William Murdoch were today ordained bishops by Kenya’s Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi (and, one assumes, at least two other bishops).

Ruth Gledhill in The Times US priests become Kenyan bishops in gay protest
BBC US Anglicans join Kenyan Church
Reuters Kenya consecrates conservative U.S. clerics as bishops
The New York Times reprints the Reuters article but with different pictures.
USA Today also reprints the Reuters article with another selction of pcitures.


Global South Anglican has this picture of the consecration with many of the participating archbishops and bishops identified.
The Living Church Foundation in Bishops Atwood, Murdoch Consecrated in Kenya names several of those present.

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Saturday, 25 August 2007

Uganda: consecration next Sunday

As reported previously, the Province of Uganda will consecrate one American bishop on Sunday 2 September.

In addition to the links from that report, here is the full text of a letter from Archbishop Orombi to the Rectors, Clergy, and Lay Leaders of Ugandan Churches in America. A biography of John Guernsey is available here. A further report in the Church of England Newspaper is available here.

A second bishop will also serve: see this further press release about Bishop Andrew Fairfield.

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Kenya: consecrations next week

Updated Tuesday

The consecration of two American bishops by the Anglican Church of Kenya is scheduled for next Thursday. The latest Kenyan press reports on this:
The Nation Anglicans plan to send clergy to America.
East African Standard Nzimbi to Consecrate Two American Priests

And from America:
Reuters Africans woo conservative U.S. Anglicans in gay row

As previously reported, the official press statement of the ACK Provincial Synod in June said:


The ACK Province now provides Episcopal oversight to several dozen congregations in the USA through a number of Kenyan Bishops. By a unanimous vote of the Provincial Synod of the Anglican Church of Kenya endorsed the selection of The Revd Canon Bill Atwood as Suffragan Bishop of All Saints Cathedral Diocese (Nairobi) to serve the international interests of the ACK including taking responsibility for care for the congregations and clergy in the USA under Kenyan jurisdiction. The Synod also unanimously approved the consecration of The Revd Bill Murdoch as Suffragan Bishop of All Saints’ Cathedral Diocese to work with Revd Bill Atwood in providing that oversight and Episcopal care. Consecrations are scheduled for August 30th in Nairobi. They will collaborate with others in the Common Cause network, chaired by The Rt. Revd Robert Duncan (Pittsburgh) to provide Orthodox Episcopal care and oversight, strategically uniting a broad conservative coalition that shares historic Anglican faith and practice. (end)

Here is the earlier (15 June) report from the Church Times Archbishop of Kenya to consecrate US bishop. And from the Church of England Newspaper there was Mixed Reaction to Atwood Appointment.

And here is Bill Atwood’s CV as a Word document (from the Kenyan website). Or, the Anglican Communion Network has this version.

More about William Murdoch:
Diocese, Congregation Announce Amicable Separation in Massachusetts from the Living Church. And the Anglican Communion Network has this short biography.

Another Reuters article Africa gives refuge to rebel U.S. Anglicans

…Benjamin Nzimbi told Reuters on Monday he would consecrate dissident U.S. clerics Bill Atwood and Bill Murdoch as bishops on Thursday at a ceremony in Nairobi. Uganda’s Henry Orombi is due to consecrate John Guernsey next week.

“Since the talk about gay marriage started, many congregations in America have been looking for oversight from overseas,” Nzimbi said.

In Africa, gay relationships are denounced as immoral and are outlawed in many countries.

The 77 million-strong Anglican Church has been split since 2003 when its 2.4 million member U.S. branch consecrated Gene Robinson as its first openly gay bishop.

The move enraged conservative Anglicans, who accuse the Episcopal church of flouting Biblical commandments. Nzimbi said Kenya had been approached by more then 30 congregations from across the United States asking for leadership since then.


Liberals, who support a looser interpretation of scripture, say the African clergy are violating church rules by creating conservative outposts in the United States and deepening a crisis that threatens to split the Anglican communion — a worldwide federation of 38 churches.

“We are not invading other people’s territory as such but preaching the gospel, the way it was brought to us, the way it is written,” Nzimbi said.

And he said the only way to bridge the schism was for the liberal churches to repent: “The way we can have one understanding is through repentance, that is the key word.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 25 August 2007 at 1:56pm BST | Comments (63) | TrackBack
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Desmond Tutu appeals for unity

Rachel Boulding reports it in the Church Times headlined Be united and let Jesus smile again, begs Dr Tutu and Matthew Davies reports it in Episcopal News Service under Tutu urges full Lambeth participation.

THE ARCHBISHOP Emeritus of Cape Town, Dr Desmond Tutu, has made an emotional appeal to the Primates of the Anglican Communion to accept one another, and agree to disagree.

In the open letter sent last week to his successor as Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane, he asks all the Primates to put aside their differences in order to deal with the world’s troubles.

He describes how, on a recent retreat: “I felt under considerable divine pressure to address this appeal to you and your fellow Primates.” Referring to Luke 15 and its parables of the lost sheep and the prodigal son, he writes: “We are most like this God and God’s Son when we are welcoming and inclusive. It is almost a defining characteristic of God to draw together, to unite. . . Sin, on the contrary, always divides. It is centrifugal by nature. It alienates, separates, like apartheid.”

After referring to unity and fellowship as “a gift from God”, he writes of the “bewildering diversity” of God’s creation: “None is self-sufficient, but all are made for interdependence, each making up what is lacking in the other. In a world where difference has led to alienation and even bloody conflict, the Church is God’s agent to demonstrate that unity in diversity is in fact the law of life.”

Dr Tutu admits: “I am not telling you anything new.” He continues: “Our Communion has always been characterised by its comprehensiveness, its inclusiveness, its catholicity

. . . We have been known to embrace within this one family those whose views were almost diametrically opposed. We said: ‘I disagree with you but we belong together.’”

He then addresses the Archbishop of Canterbury directly: “Please invite [to the Lambeth Conference] ALL those in Episcopal orders who are not retired, even those irregularly consecrated or actively gay; please, now I appeal to you all, do not excommunicate one another seemingly so easily. Be welcoming and inclusive of one another. Commune with one another and with our Lord, sacramentally and in other ways.”

Dr Tutu ends dramatically: “Our Lord is weeping to see our Communion tearing itself apart on the issue of human sexuality, when the world for which he died is ravaged by poverty, disease, war and corruption. We are one of God’s agents to deal with these scourges. God has no one but us. Please, I beg you all in our Lord’s name, agree to disagree, argue, debate; disagree, but do all this as members of one family. Accept one another as God accepts us, however we are, in Christ.

“Wipe the tears from our Lord’s eyes; put the smile back on God’s face. I beg you all on bended knee.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 25 August 2007 at 11:07am BST | Comments (91) | TrackBack
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columns for the holiday weekend

In The Times Stephen Plant asks How can there can be forgiveness without remorse?

Glynn Cardy writes in the Guardian about the model of the church as a ship in Face to Faith.

The surprise of thatched churches is discussed in the Daily Telegraph by Christopher Howse.

A double dose of Giles Fraser:
The bishops really need to talk from last week’s Church Times and this week When the US Right was not so religious.

And another article from last week’s Church Times: Robin Gill writes about the state of the Anglican Communion: Keeping it in the family.

This week’s Tablet has an interview by Theo Hobson of Metropolitan John D. Zizioulas. Read An eye for the other.

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Thursday, 23 August 2007

Journey to Lambeth via Virginia?

Updated Friday afternoon

The Church Times has a report by Pat Ashworth headed Software suggests Minns rewrote Akinola’s letter.

A BISHOP in the United States has been revealed as the principal author of a seminal letter to the Church of Nigeria from its Archbishop, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, which was published on Sunday.

The letter includes a suggestion that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s status as a focus of unity is “highly questionable”. It also refers to a “moment of decision” for the Anglican Communion, which is on the “brink of destruction”.

The document, “A Most Agonising Journey towards Lambeth 2008”, appears to express to Nigerian synods the personal anguish of Archbishop Akinola over his attendance at the Lambeth Conference.

But computer tracking software suggests that the letter was extensively edited and revised over a four-day period by the Rt Revd Martyn Minns, who was consecrated last year by Archbishop Akinola to lead the secessionist Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) (News, 11 August 2006). Bishop Minns, along with the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, has not been invited to Lambeth (News, 25 May).

Close examination of the document, tracing the authorship, editing history, and timing of changes, reveals about 600 insertions made by Bishop Minns, including whole new sections amounting to two-thirds of the final text. There is also a sprinkling of minor amendments made by Canon Chris Sugden of the conservative group Anglican Mainstream…

Read it all here.

This picture and its caption seems an appropriate summary.

Tunde Popoola has published a press release on the official Church of Nigeria website: PRESS RELEASE- Re: Church Times on Abp. Akinola’s letter (and the same material also appears in the comments below).

It is very insulting and racist to infer that the Primate of All Nigeria is being dictated to. Is this in continuation of the ‘jamming’ of people opposing the agenda?

I would have believed the ‘computer software’ story were it not for the allegation of ‘minor amendments’ by the Canon Chris Sugden who had nothing to do with the document.

Abp. Akinola informed his senior staff and the Episcopal Secretary the need to highlight efforts at maintaining unity and the intransigence of the revisionists so that the Nigerian community is left in no doubt about who is ‘walking apart’

Along with his PA in Abuja, work started on the gathering of materials and relevant documents on 6th August, 2007. We used in addition to existing statements and my internet searches, Nigerian Episcopal meeting documents and TECUSA resolutions supplied respectively by our Episcopal Secretary, the Rt. Rev. Friday Imaekhia and a CANA priest, the Rev. Canon David Anderson. The draft of the statement was ready for correction by the primate on 9th August, 2007 who was however unable to correct it as he was about to travel.

Abp. Akinola was in the US and Bahamas between 10th and 22nd August 2007. I sent the draft to him through the Rt. Rev Minns with a request for assistance in getting some online references which I could not easily locate.

I fail to see any issue if amendments are then made on Bp. Minns’ computer. Apart from the fact that they were together during the period of the amendment, the Archbishop like many effective leaders who spend little time glued to a desk often phones me and other staffs to write certain things. Such remain his idea and anyone who knows Abp. Peter Akinola knows you can not make him say what he does not mean.

The publication doubting authenticity is another attempt to divert attention away from the carefully researched document which shows that the revisionists are directly responsible for problems confronting the Communion. Instead of chasing shadows, concerned Anglicans should consider the indisputable scenario highlighted in the document and pray for ways to save our beleaguered Communion.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 24 August 2007 at 12:10am BST | Comments (139) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 19 August 2007

A Most Agonising Journey


The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has published a document with this title. It is described thus:

Archbishop Peter Akinola writes to Nigerian Synods on the Journey towards Lambeth 2008

You can read the original copy here.

There were a number of formatting problems with that copy and so I have made another copy here. This copy now includes the paragraphs that were previously omitted by mistake from the original. For convenience of those who read the earlier version, I have placed the additions in italics.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 19 August 2007 at 7:41am BST | Comments (279) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 18 August 2007

Nigeria and Uganda: further reports

Updated Wednesday

Changing Attitude has two further reports

This update on the Nigerian situation: Further news about the arrest of 18 gay men in Bauchi, Nigeria

This report on Uganda: Kampala Homosexuals Speak Out. The original of this is on allAfrica here.

And a further report: CAN members witness court appearance in Bauchi.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 18 August 2007 at 7:31pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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weekend columns

In the Church Times Andrew Linzey writes about animal cruelty in First hit the pets, then the people.

And last week, in the Church Times Harriet Baber wrote about gun control in How to survive in a violent world.

Andrew Clitherow writes the Guardian’s Face to Faith column about the cul-de-sac of formal religion.

Luis Rodriguez writes in The Times that We must work to discover the meaning of suffering.

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Friday, 17 August 2007

Canterbury visit to US: first stories

Both the Living Church and the Church of England Newspaper have stories previewing the next American House of Bishops meeting, 20-25 September in New Orleans. The Archbishop of Canterbury will attend the first two days.

Living Church U.S. Bishops Ask Archbishop of Canterbury for Clarity by Steve Waring

Bishops who have made a public commitment to support the Windsor Report have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to be clear and articulate in explaining what the consequences will be if the House of Bishops fails to give the assurances sought by the primates.

Seventeen diocesan bishops and one bishop suffragan from The Episcopal Church received an extensive briefing on the primates’ communiqué from the Rev. Canon Gregory Cameron, and shared with him their hopes for the meeting in September between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Bishops during a conference held Aug. 9-10 at Camp Allen near Houston…

Church of England Newspaper Williams ’set to be manipulated’ by George Conger

THE ARCHBISHOP of Canterbury’s Sept 20-21 meeting with members of the US House of Bishops in New Orleans will seek to manipulate Dr Williams into giving the Episcopal Church a clean bill of health so as to preserve its place in the Communion.

Conservative American leaders claim the Episcopal Church will seek to resurrect a report presented to the February Primates’ Meeting prepared by a small group within the Joint Primates-ACC Standing Committee that said the Episcopal Church had met two of the three requests of the Windsor Report and deserve a reprieve.

The meeting will be used to “manipulate” Dr Williams, the Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt Rev Jack Iker said on July 31. The leaders of the American House of Bishops believe “If we can talk to Rowan, face to face, we can convince him of the rightness of our position and that he will stand with us,” he said…

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Thursday, 16 August 2007

Virginia: two more news reports

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch
Ruling reversed in church dispute
Update and another version of this on Saturday, Judge reverses ruling to dismiss church lawsuits.

From the Falls Church News-Press
1st Court Ruling After Defections Favors Continuing Episcopalians

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Wycliffe Hall: two press releases

This week, Wycliffe Hall issued two documents: both are available here as PDF files:

The Guardian’s news article (11th August 2007) concerning Wycliffe Hall contains material inaccuracy. The report both distorts the University of Oxford’s Review of Permanent Private Halls (PPHs) and repeats previously unsubstantiated material derived from anonymous documents circulated to the media. It attributes comments to the Principal he simply did not say.

The Press Office of the University has issued a statement which states that, “the article implies that a report about PPHs generally is directed specifically at Wycliffe Hall. This is incorrect.”

The excellence of the academic standards at Wycliffe Hall are amply demonstrated by the first place achieved by the Hall in the 2007 Norrington Tables for PPHs, results which when compared to the other colleges, gave Wycliffe a higher score than several well known names such as Corpus Christi, Oriel, Exeter, St Hugh’s and St Catherine’s.

Wycliffe Hall has come in first place in the University of Oxford’s Norrington Table for Permanent Private Halls (PPHs) for 2007 just published

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Monday, 13 August 2007

Virginia: ADVA reacts to Friday's court hearing

The Anglican District of Virginia has at the time of posting not yet issued this press release. However the text of it does appear here instead.

Update A text has now appeared and it is not the same text. Here is the ADVA press release:Anglican District of Virginia Responds to Judge Bellows’ Decision to Dismiss Volunteers from Lawsuit

The earlier text is reproduced below the fold.

Letter from the Anglican District of Virginia regarding outcome of TEC/DoV lawsuit hearing last Friday, August 10th

As you may have heard, we had a preliminary hearing on Friday, August 10, in court, at which the court heard arguments on our demurrers and pleas in bar. (Our demurrer asserted that even if everything The Episcopal Church claims is true, they still would have no case. The plea in bar argued that vestry members are immune from suit for actions taken in an official capacity as volunteers).

After extensive argument over the plea of statutory immunity, the court was prepared to rule but suggested that the parties work out an agreement. After recess, the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church agreed to dismiss all of the vestry members and rectors as defendants without prejudice and the individuals agreed to honor any determination of the court regarding the plaintiffs’ property claims, subject to their rights of appeal of any adverse ruling.

“We are appreciative that after all these months, our volunteer vestry members and our pastoral leadership are no longer named defendants in lawsuit filed by the Diocese and The Episcopal Church,” said Tom Wilson, Senior Warden of The Falls Church, and Chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia Board of Directors.

As to the ownership of the property, the court stated that it was making a very narrow ruling. The court found that, at this preliminary stage in the litigation, the complaints filed by the Diocese and The Episcopal Church state a sufficient claim to an interest in the property for those claims to proceed to trial where The Episcopal Church and the Diocese will have to put on actual evidence to support their allegations. The court emphasized that it was not making a determination as to any rights, but simply that the complaints alleged enough to get The Episcopal Church and the Diocese past a preliminary motion to dismiss.

However, before those claims proceed to trial, the court has scheduled a hearing later this year to determine whether or not the claims filed by the Virginia churches under the Virginia Division Statute preempt the property claims of The Episcopal Church and the Diocese. If the court rules in favor of the churches under the Virginia Division Statute, that finding will be dispositive (which means that there would be no reason to proceed with the property claims made by the Diocese and The Episcopal Church).

What does all of this mean? Our legal team will be parsing every sentence of Judge Bellows’ rulings for some time, but we should keep in mind that these are preliminary skirmishes in a long battle. Since football season is about to begin, I can’t help but use a couple of analogies…

Our demurrer was, frankly, a long shot. Our legal team has told us that, as a practical matter, it is very rare for a judge to dismiss an entire case at this preliminary stage, particularly one with such national visibility. But it was worth a try. Think of it as a long incomplete pass.

We can think of the plea in bar as a touchdown – very good news, but it is still the first quarter of the game. And we must remember that our trustees are still named as defendants, although no claim of personal liability is asserted.

We still have a long way to go, and we still need prayer! We appreciate your support, encouragement and prayer throughout this process.

Jim Oakes
Vice Chairman
Anglican District of Virginia

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Nigeria: 2014 Commonwealth Games

Updated Thursday

Changing Attitude Nigeria has published this press release: Nigeria “unfit” to host 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The press release includes a link to the full text of the report presented to the Commonwealth Games Federation, which is titled Abuja’s Bid – Sins of Omission and is available here as a PDF file.

News reports on this matter:
Church Times Delegation lobbies against Nigerian venue for games
Ekklesia Campaigners say Nigeria is unfit for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Glasgow Evening Times Call for Games rivals to be axed from 2014 bid

Glasgow is the city which is competing against Abuja for the 2014 Games.

Reaction against it: Why the Bishop of Chelmsford should now step down from Changing Attitude.

Subsequent development:
BBC Gay Nigerians face Sharia death
Voice of America Nigerian Gays Charged With Sodomy, Could Face Death Penalty

Subsequent Changing Attitude press release: Eighteen gay men arrested and remanded for alleged sodomy.

Update Thursday
Yet another Changing Attitude press release: Members of Changing Attitude Nigeria Jos group among the 18 arrested in Bauchi:

…The Jos leader reports that 5 of the 18 gay men arrested at the party in Bauchi last week are members of the CAN group in Jos. The leader and members of the group had been invited to the party…

Tunde Popoola has commented below:

…If someone knows any Anglican been charged before an Islamic Sharia court for ANY offence, PLEASE let me have such a person’s details and I can assure the church’s legal officer in the concerned diocese will be mandated to ensure such an injustice is prevented.

If my friend Davis is just trying to exploit the unfortunate situation to remain relevant, he should be reminded that he claims CA to be made up of Anglicans which means they are Christians naturally exempted from being charged before Islamic courts.

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Saturday, 11 August 2007

Virginia: reports of court hearing

Updated Sunday morning

Episcopal News Service reports that Court will use Church’s Constitution and Canons in deciding property disputes.

Virginia’s Fairfax Circuit Court ruled August 10 in favor of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia in denying the claims of 11 separated congregations that the court should not consider the Church’s Constitution and Canons in deciding property disputes.

The congregations, in which a majority of members have voted to leave the Episcopal Church but continue to occupy its property, asked the court to dismiss the complaints of the Church and the diocese.

After hearing arguments by all parties, the judge overruled all but one part of the motions. The court dismissed the claims of the diocese for a judgment that the congregations had committed a trespass by holding onto the property. Such claims, the court ruled, should be pleaded separately…

And this:

Also on August 10, after hearing arguments on a motion to dismiss all the individual defendant vestry members, clergy, and trustees from the litigation, all of the parties agreed that they — together with the separated congregations — will be bound by whatever ruling the trial court makes regarding ownership of the real and personal property. Their agreement extends to any ruling on appeal.

According to the agreement, if the court rules in favor of the Episcopal Church and the diocese, an orderly transition with respect to all property would ensue. The Church and the diocese reserve the right, however, to seek an accounting of all monies spent by the departed congregations and bring the individual vestry members and clergy back into the litigation for that purpose.

There is another account of yesterday’s court session here: A Very Good Day.

A recent letter from the diocese (mentioned in the ENS report) can be found here.

Update Sunday morning:

There is still nothing yet posted on CANA or on ADVA websites about this.

The Diocese of Virginia now has this: Judge Overrules Motion to Dismiss Lawsuits:

Today in Fairfax Circuit Court, Judge Randy I. Bellows overruled a motion to dismiss lawsuits filed by The Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church against 11 congregations that voted last year to leave The Episcopal Church and attempt to take Episcopal Church property.

The decision to overrule the motion to dismiss came at the end of a four-hour hearing in Courtroom 4-C. In addition, two-hours into the hearing, The Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church agreed to allow individuals named in the lawsuits to be taken out of the suits on assurance that those individuals and their successors will be bound by the rulings of the court on diocesan and Church claims concerning property.

“Our only aim in including these individuals was to make sure the proper parties were before the court so that the relief and remedies we seek could be properly sought and obtained,” said Patrick Getlein, secretary of the Diocese. “The assurance to be bound by the rulings of the court achieves that objective.”

Those individuals whose names were removed today include the vestry and rector of each congregation. Trustees remain named in the suits only in their capacity as holders of title.

“We are pleased with today’s rulings and the agreement on removing the names of individuals from the suits. But by no means is the work here done,” said Mr. Getlein. “There are still individuals and congregations who have been dispossessed and literally locked out of their churches. Their exile continues.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 11 August 2007 at 6:54pm BST | Comments (61) | TrackBack
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opinions of the week

Christopher Howse visited Thornham Parva and reports, in Masterpiece in a country church.

Peter Thompson, writing the Face to Faith column in the Guardian says that Religion is not a delusion but a quest for ‘home’.

Joel Edwards writes about being an Evangelical with a capital E in the Credo column of The Times, Ever heard the one about Jesus and the good news?

In the Church Times Giles Fraser thinks that Harry Potter is a true evangelist.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 11 August 2007 at 8:38am BST | Comments (38) | TrackBack
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Friday, 10 August 2007

Sentamu interviewed on ABC radio

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s National Radio programme, The Religion Report carried this interview of the Archbishop of York, conducted by Stephen Crittenden.

There are audio links on the same page if you prefer to listen to it.

But do read it all, carefully.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 10 August 2007 at 1:13pm BST | Comments (60) | TrackBack
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Wycliffe Hall: Oxford report comments

Updated again Saturday

Bill Bowder has a report in today’s Church Times Oxford Halls report queries Wycliffe’s liberal principles.

…Wycliffe students are not getting “an Oxford experience in its essentials”, it says. Some young people come from Christian families who are looking for an Oxford education in a Christian context. But they are mixing mainly with older ordinands, and the educational environment is not suitable for there “full intellectual development”.

Although some of those at Wycliffe Hall told the panel that the Evangelical tradition was not exclusive, and that a range of opinions exists there, the report suggests that Wycliffe Hall needs to “make a determined effort to clarify these matters to the rest of the University if it is to achieve manifest harmony with the University’s principles of education”.

In its list of 34 recommendations, the review says that the University should have greater legal control over the Halls. The University’s “licence”, under which the Halls operate, should not be seen as givin
Wycliffe Hall: Oxford report comments | Entries | Thinking Anglicans | Movable Type Publishing Platformg them the right to move outside “the values to which the University holds, namely the values of liberal education conducted in a spirit of free and critical enquiry and debate”. If any Hall departs from such values, its licence should be “re-examined”.

The Halls should not be allowed to override the University’s policies on equal opportunities, harassment, and the protection of freedom of opinion and speech, the report says.

“The review panel believes that there should be a considerably greater say in the running of their institutions for the stipendiary academic staff, as in other parts of the collegiate University. In addition, it is not confident that all the Halls have the appropriate structures for the consideration of matters of academic discipline or the resolution of complaints.”

At present, many of those training for Christian ministry in the Halls do not receive Oxford qualifications, but the report recommends that Halls should award only Oxford qualifications, in order to avoid damaging the University’s reputation. It also suggests that some of the current students are not not equipped academically to take such qualifications. At Wycliffe, there has been a proposal that part of a Bachelor of Ministry (BM) degree would be taught at St Paul’s Theological Centre at Holy Trinity, Brompton.

The Principal of St Stephen’s House, Canon Dr Robin Ward, said on Tuesday that he was concerned how the ordination training and the requirements of Oxford University to give only Oxford qualifications would fit together, given that the average age of Anglican ordinands was 41, and therefore they were unlikely to do more than a two-year course. Even an Oxford certificate in theology could be too demanding for some, he said…

Update Friday afternoon
The University Press Office informs me that the full report will be published online in the Oxford University Gazette but no earlier than 20 September.

Update Saturday morning
The Guardian also has a report on this by Stephen Bates Oxford gives warning to theological college.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 10 August 2007 at 8:23am BST | Comments (49) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 9 August 2007

Nigerian chaplaincy revisited

Thinking Anglicans first wrote about this topic back on 16 August 2006. Since then, I have written further to various CANA officials but I have never had any response from anyone.
The “About CANA” page has moved since last year, and is now to be found here. The second link to “Archbishop Peter Akinola himself says this elsewhere on the site” has now moved here.

Mark Harris returned to the subject yesterday in CANA and inventive storytelling. He writes:

I was surprised to read the following on the Convocation of Anglicans in North America website, on the page titled, “What is CANA”:

“ECUSA proved over and over again that it was unwilling to respect the faith of Anglican Nigerians by its divisive actions. One of these actions was that ECUSA unilaterally sacked the former Nigerian chaplain appointed to care for Anglican Nigerians in this country, the Rev. Canon Gordon Okunsanya. So, we can really say that ECUSA itself made the creation of CANA necessary. Necessity is truly the mother of invention.”

Necessity is actually the mother of inventive storytelling. I had thought that Thinking Anglican’s [sic] rather complete review of the matter might have caused CANA to change this bit of the story of their beginnings, particularly since CANA went to some trouble to revamp their web presence, but I guess not. Nothing has been done.

The idea that ECUSA made the creation of CANA necessary, on any basis having to do with the appointment of Canon Okunsanya, is rot.

Mark Harris also draws attention to the misinformation contained on the Frequently Asked Questions page of the CANA website:

Now CANA asks and then answers, in the Frequently Asked Questions section of its web site, “Is such an international connection unusual? (The connection is between CANA and Nigeria and their work in the US)

Not really. For more than 160 years (1607–1776), the first Anglicans in this country existed as a missionary outpost under the Bishop of London, England. After the American Revolution, the Church of Scotland [sic] consecrated Samuel Seabury in 1789 as the first bishop of the fledgling Episcopal Church. Most of the Anglican provinces in existence today started as the result of a similar missionary initiative. More recent provinces have had similar international sponsorship.”

Once again CANA needs to clean up its act: Minor points are overlooked… the Anglicans were not “a missionary outpost,” perhaps the clergy sent here by the missionary societies were missionaries. And, let’s see…oh yes, the Episcopal Church of Scotland [sic] did consecrate Samuel Seabury, but he was sent off to England and then went to Scotland having been elected by at least somebody in the US to some particular venue (Connecticut) where there was NO bishop in place. He was not a missionary from Scotland.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 9 August 2007 at 12:39pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Colorado Springs: church court verdict

Updated again Monday

From the Colorado Springs Gazette Church court: Armstrong guilty:

An ecclesiastical court on Wednesday convicted the Rev. Donald Armstrong of stealing nearly $400,000 from his Colorado Springs parish, though it cannot legally punish the breakaway pastor.

The court of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado will decide in about a month, however, whether to recommend that Bishop Robert O’Neill defrock Armstrong, a largely symbolic action that would end all ties between the church and him.

From Episcopal News Service Former rector Don Armstrong found guilty of financial misconduct:

The Rev. Don Armstrong, former rector of Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Colorado Springs, has been found guilty on all counts of financial misconduct presented to an Ecclesiastical Court of the Diocese of Colorado that has been reviewing the evidence since July 31.

The preliminary judgment was made public August 8 by the five members of the Ecclesiastical Court who unanimously found Armstrong guilty of diverting $392,409 from the parish’s operating fund and committing tax fraud by not reporting $548,000 in non-salary income and benefits to state and federal tax authorities.

On other counts of misconduct, Armstrong has been found guilty of receiving illegal loans totaling $122,479.16 in violation of Diocesan Canons; unauthorized encumbrance and alienation of Grace Church’s real property; violation of the temporary inhibition placed on Armstrong; the improper use of clergy discretionary funds; and failure to maintain proper books of account.

Press release from the Diocese of Colorado here (PDF).


Associated Press Episcopal Court Issues Tentative Verdict

Rocky Mountain News Episcopal court finds pastor guilty of theft

Living Church Guilty Verdict in Colorado Misconduct Case

Colorado Springs Gazette Springs police looking into possible embezzlement at Grace Church and, later, Police look into Grace funds.

Monday update
Denver Post Cops investigate theft report (Saturday article)

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Wednesday, 8 August 2007

General Synod: elections

The results of elections just held among General Synod members to fill various posts are as follows. (Stage numbers refer to the process of election by the method of Single Transferable Vote.)

Three clergy places on the Crown Nominations Commission:

  • The Very Revd Colin Slee (Deans) (Stage 4)
  • The Revd Canon Peter Spiers (Liverpool) (Stage 5)
  • The Revd Canon Glyn Webster (York) (Stage 6)

Three laity places on the Crown Nominations Commission:

  • Mr Aiden Hargreaves-Smith (London) (Stage 10)
  • Professor Glynn Harrison (Bristol) (Stage 10)
  • Mrs Mary Johnston (London) (Stage 6)

One clergy place on the Ministry Council:

  • The Very Revd Michael Sadgrove (Deans) (stage 9)

In addition to these the Revd Prebendary David Houlding has been elected to fill a casual vacancy on the Archbishops’ Council.

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Monday, 6 August 2007

Arora rebukes Anderson

The Archbishop of York’s Adviser on Communications, Arun Arora has responded to an article in the Church of England Newspaper, written by The Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, who is President, American Anglican Council and Secretary of the Anglican Communion Network.

Arun Arora’s response can be found on the archbishop’s website: Why Canon Anderson Got it Wrong.

Anglican Mainstream has linked to this response with the headline: York Diocesan website posts swingeing rebuttal of Anderson, Phillips.

Here are the links to the articles by David Phillips which are also mentioned:
Telegraph reports Sentamu saying sexual ethics are not core issues
Archbishop Sentamu on Unity

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Saturday, 4 August 2007

Mark Lawrence re-elected

Episcopal News Service reports that South Carolina re-elects Mark Lawrence as bishop.

The Very Rev. Mark Lawrence was re-elected as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina August 4 at a special electing convention held at St. James Church on St. James Island, South Carolina. Lawrence was the only candidate in the election since no petitions to add other names to the slate were received by the July 11 deadline…

The diocesan website announcement is here:

The Diocese re-elected the Very Rev. Mark J. Lawrence as the 14th Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, August 4, at a special called election at St. James Church, James Island. Mark, had been previously elected by the diocese in September of 2006, but that election was declared null and void by the Presiding Bishop in March of 2007.

Prior to the election, a service of Holy Eucharist, Rite I, was celebrated. The Rev. Steve Wood, Rector of St. Andrew’s Mt. Pleasant, challenged those present to engage the culture with the gospel, and not stand apart from it.

Fifty eight congregations were represented with 201 lay delegates and 82 priests. In a vote by orders, 78 clergy voted for Mark Lawrence, with two abstentions. Missions cast seven yes votes, with one half deputation divided. Among congregations, forty-three yes votes were received, with three congregations voting no and one abstention.

Once the vote, re-electing Lawrence was announced the congregation voiced their pleasure with applause.

And here is an eyewitness account of the event from the Living Church, No Surprises, Much Rejoicing.

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columns of opinion

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about being on holiday: How can happiness be so elusive?

Also in the Church Times Paul Vallely asks Is it right to limit the mega-mosque?

The Guardian has Tom Horwood writing that “Faith leaders could learn a lot from managers in the secular working world” in Face to faith.

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about a new film production in Michael Gambon in Brideshead Revisited.

Jonathan Sacks writes that Harry Potter could teach adults how to grow up, too in The Times.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 4 August 2007 at 10:16am BST | Comments (60) | TrackBack
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Friday, 3 August 2007

England to get ‘flying bishop’?

Religious Intelligence carries this report dated Thursday, 2nd August 2007. 3:50pm

England to get ‘flying bishop’?
By: Ed Beavan.

NIGERIA is on the verge of appointing its own ‘flying bishop’ in England to represent disillusioned Anglicans, The Church of England Newspaper has learnt.

A new bishop to be appointed by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola could be consecrated before next year’s Lambeth Conference if plans succeed. A source describing himself as a ‘worker in the Nigerian diocese’ said he was aware of such plans and that such a person would be employed as a ‘mission co-ordinator’.

Rumours regarding the possibility of such a role have been circulating over the last few months but this is the first time it has been confirmed by a clergy member from Nigeria.

Speaking to the CEN he said: “It is possible that Archbishop Peter Akinola will have somebody appointed by the next Lambeth Conference in July 2008.” To read the whole of this story see this week’s Church of England Newspaper or go to

The text of the full article is to be found here.

Update Saturday morning
Ekklesia has also reported on this, Nigerian Primate may ordain breakaway Church of England bishop.

Update Saturday evening
Fr Jake has reminded us that this started back in September 2005, with Nigerian archbishop warns of break with mother church in the Mail & Guardian Online. TA carried it within this article.

Nigeria’s Anglican archbishop said on Thursday that Nigerian churches might cut ties with the Church of England if it did not revise its stance on homosexuality, which accepts gay priests in same-sex partnerships.

“As of now, we have not yet reached the point of schism, but there’s a broken relationship,” Archbishop Peter Akinola told reporters in the capital, Abuja.

Akinola had already spoken out against a July 25 announcement from England’s bishops that said gay priests who register same-sex partnerships under a new civil law will remain in good standing so long as they promise to remain celibate.

Akinola said on Thursday that there was still hope to recover church unity if churches that have adopted liberal lines on homosexuality showed “repentance”.

Update Sunday morning revised Tuesday evening

The BBC Sunday programme also reported on this story:

The Anglican Church’s travails over homosexuality have taken another twist: the Church of England newspaper is reporting that Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria - who takes a famously hard line on the matter - is to appoint a ‘flying bishop’ to England to minister to disenchanted Anglicans here. Archbishop Akinola has already sent a bishop to the United States with a similar mission. Stephen Bates of The Guardian has written a book about the divisions in the church and joined Sunday.
Listen (4m 12s)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 3 August 2007 at 12:46pm BST | Comments (101) | TrackBack
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Hereford update

Updated Monday

My Church Times articles published in last week’s paper edition are now available on the web:

Priddis loses, but sticks to his guns

Quotes from the bishop:

Talking to the Church Times last week, the Bishop said that he had consulted the diocesan registrar on four separate occasions during the course of the recruitment, and believed he had followed the advice given. He was therefore surprised at the tribunal’s judgment, which, he said, was puzzling and in some ways inconsistent. A particular concern to him was that it felt able to override his own pastoral judgement, based on 35 years’ experience.

He awaited further advice from the lawyers on whether to appeal, but he also needed them to advise on changes to diocesan procedures to avoid future problems. “I am disappointed that the judgment spends so much time focusing on the 1991 House of Bishops teaching document Issues in Human Sexuality, and so little on the more important decision of General Synod in 1987.”

The Bishop insisted that in rejecting Mr Reaney he was upholding the 1987 teaching of the General Synod that “holiness of life is particularly required of Christian leaders,” which was not limited to the clergy.

Why this constitutes illegal discrimination

My concluding paragraphs:

The tribunal found the facts of this case so compelling that it found in Mr Reaney’s favour without needing to rely on the discriminatory nature of the underlying Church of England policy of “marriage or abstinence”. The marker laid down here, however, and the inherent difficulty of proving justification, suggests that any future case might well succeed in a claim of indirect discrimination.

On the other hand, the ease with which this tribunal accepted that this officer-level post fell within the ambit of the religious exemption will be of concern to those who had imagined that only top-level lay employees in dioceses and at the National Church Institutions were affected.

Last Tuesday’s edition of The Times carried a profile of the barrister who represented John Reaney. Sandhya Drew said this about the case:

What were the main challenges in this case and the implications of the decision?

The challenges were having to deal with the culture of fear and concealment surrounding sexual orientation in the Church of England. What was very striking, however, was the amount of support for John Reaney from Christians of all sexual orientations, not only within the Church of England but within the Diocese of Hereford itself. The main implication of the decision is that organised religions should not assume that they can rely on an exemption from the law against discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation. Lesbian and gay people of faith make a significant contribution to all the leading world religions and the law will protect them where necessary.

Update Monday
The case is cited in an article in Personnel Today Weekly dilemma: Job interviews.

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Thursday, 2 August 2007

Virginia: bishop removes 21 clergy

Updated again Saturday

The Bishop of Virginia has removed 21 priests from the ordained ministry of The Episcopal Church.

See the full details here: Inhibited Clergy Released from Obligations of Priesthood:

Yesterday, in an official act observed by two presbyters of The Diocese of Virginia and with the advice and consent of the diocesan Standing Committee, the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee took the required canonical action to remove from the priesthood clergy inhibited by him on January 22, 2007. Those clergy were inhibited following a determination by the diocesan Standing Committee January 18 that they had abandoned the Communion of The Episcopal Church. The possibility of such a determination was explained by the Bishop in a December 1, 2006 letter to the clergy and leadership of the now-former Episcopal congregations. By this action, the former Episcopal clergy are “released from the obligations of Priest or Deacon and … deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority conferred in Ordination.”

In addition to losing their capacity to officiate in Episcopal churches or in any manner as Episcopal priests, the former Episcopal clergy lose their capacity to contribute to pension plans begun during their time as Episcopal priests and any other benefits of service as Episcopal priests or employees of Episcopal churches or institutions. Pension benefits accrued to this point will remain payable…

The names listed do not include Martyn Minns who was earlier consecrated a bishop in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). In a letter dated October 2, Bishop Lee wrote:

…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.

…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 Anglican District of Virginia, an “association of Anglican congregations in Virginia”, has responded. See ADV Responds to the Bishop of Virginia’s Announcement to Depose Former Clergy.

ADV describes itself thus:

ADV is currently comprised of 19 member congregations, 15 of which are under the ecclesiastical authority of the Bishop of CANA, The Right Reverend Martyn Minns, and four of which are ecclesiastical members under direct authority of other Anglican Archbishops, strongly supported by ADV members.

The Anglican Communion Network has responded. See Bishops will continue in ministry with Virginia priests:

…The Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, the Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith of the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, the. Rt. Rev. Jack Iker of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the Rt. Rev. John David Schofield of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin have issued the following statement:

“In conscience we must remain in relationship and ministry with these priests, and the many others who have had this canon used against them because of their determination to stand with mainstream Anglicanism. As bishops, we ordain priests for the whole church. Surely we overstep our bounds when we attempt to decide for the whole church that a priest’s ministry is ended because he is no longer under our authority.

“Because these Virginia priests are priests in good standing in the Provinces of Uganda and Nigeria, respectively, the deposition is, in fact, of no effect. Each is recognized as a priest in good standing of the Anglican Communion. Therefore we welcome them to exercise their sacerdotal ministries in our Dioceses. Though we continue to work and pray for a charitable disengagement, actions such as this only make our relationships with each other more difficult and divided.”

Julia Duin has this report in the Washington Times Episcopal bishop ejects clergy.

Updated Saturday morning
Associated Press Priests reject Virginia Episcopal bishop’s sanctions
Living Church Network Bishops Pledge Solidarity With Virginia Clergy

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Colorado Springs: more reports

The Living Church has Brief Testimony in Presentment Trial of Colorado Priest.

Episcopal News Service has COLORADO: Evidence presented against former Colorado Springs rector.

Update Thursday afternoon
Colorado Springs Independent Armstrong a no-show at his own church trial.

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Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Gomez on the Communion

Auburn Faber Traycik of the Christian Challenge has published Conservative Leaders Will Ensure Communion’s Orthodox Stand In Gay Dispute. This is a report of what Archbishop Drexel Gomez, Primate of the West Indies said to a day-long Festival of Faith at St. Luke’s Church, Bladensburg, Maryland. Here is the first part of it:

“This is a fight we are engaged in and we will see it through to the end. We are determined to see that the Anglican Communion ends up on the right side of the debate” over homosexual practice.

So West Indies Archbishop Drexel Gomez declared outside Washington, D.C. Saturday, drawing a standing ovation from a sizeable gathering of orthodox believers during a day-long Festival of Faith at St. Luke’s Church, Bladensburg, Maryland. The event also featured retired Quincy (IL) Episcopal Bishop Donald Parsons.

Gomez assailed opponents for characterizing fidelity to the consistent witness of scripture on homosexual practice as homophobia, bigotry, and fundamentalism. He said that he and co-religionist Anglican leaders would keep the Communion in line with the 2,000-year consensus of Christianity on same-sex relations, holding that the issue relates to “God’s ordering of life.” It is therefore - contrary the recent declaration by the Anglican Church of Canada - a matter of “core doctrine.”

But the leading conservative primate (provincial leader) also warned of a liberal recasting of official Anglicanism if some conservative provinces boycott the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops. A few provinces have already determined to skip the meeting over the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision to include therein all Episcopal prelates who have violated the Lambeth ‘98 sexuality resolution except actively gay prelate Gene Robinson, and to exclude U.S. missionary bishops backed by African provinces.

Gomez also sees obstacles to fulfilling the hopes of embattled American conservatives that The Episcopal Church (TEC) would be deemed by primates this fall to have left the Communion, a move they thought could help usher in a new jurisdiction for faithful U.S. Anglicans.

Such Communion housecleaning is still hampered by a weak top-level Communion structure that is already undergoing de facto change, but which awaits formal strengthening via the prospective Anglican covenant, which would be binding among provinces that adopt it. That is something Gomez knows a lot about, and talked a lot about in Bladensburg, as he not only helped produce the 2004 Windsor Report which (inter alia) recommended a covenant to help alleviate Anglican structural problems, he heads the panel that is designing the pact. Backed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and his fellow primates, the covenant is a key agenda item for Lambeth ‘08, which, however, already appears to be in trouble due to Dr. Williams’ controversial handling of invitations to the once-a-decade meeting.

GOMEZ TOLD his Washington-area audience, which numbered over 200 at its peak, that he sees little prospect that all 38 Anglican primates will meet later this year to determine the Communion status of TEC, whose bishops and Executive Council have rebuffed the primates’ last-ditch pleas to forswear further same-sex blessings and actively gay bishops, and to cooperate in the primates’ plan to provide an alternative leadership for disaffected Episcopal dioceses and parishes. Episcopal bishops have until September 30 to give a final answer to the primates’ appeals, before which time Archbishop Williams is due to meet with the prelates. Gomez and others still hope TEC will have a change of heart, but no one is predicting one.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 1 August 2007 at 12:46pm BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Armagh on the Communion

The Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Reverend Alan Harper, preached this sermon at Clonmacnoise on the Feast Day of St Mary Magdalene. Read it all, but here’s the concluding part:

Archbishop Drexel Gomez, addressing the General Synod of the Church of England on the issue of an Anglican Covenant, said recently:

Anglican leaders are seriously wondering whether they can recognize in each other the faithfulness to Christ that is the cornerstone of our common life and cooperation. While some feel there will be inevitable separation, others are trying to deny that there is a crisis at all. That is hardly a meeting of minds. Unless we can make a fresh statement clearly and basically of what holds us together we are destined to grow apart.

I doubt if anyone believes that there is no crisis. Rather, in the context of Archbishop Drexel’s key test, that is, recognizing in each other the faithfulness to Christ that is the cornerstone of our common life and cooperation, a spirit of arrogance on both sides is causing people of genuine faith and undoubted love for the Lord Jesus to bypass the requirement for patience and for making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

I have yet to meet any “leader” who does not treat with the utmost respect and indeed reverence the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. I have heard no one in this crisis deny the fundamental tenets of the faith as Anglicans have received them. Yet I have heard believing Christians attack other Christians for not believing precisely as they themselves believe. Equally, I have heard believing Christians attack other Christians for not attaching the weight they themselves attach to this biblical text compared with that.

This is not the way of Christ; it is the way of fallen humanity. It is a boulder of our own creation and I do not know who will help us to roll it away.

Some fear, and I am among them, that an Anglican Covenant, unless it is open and generous and broad, may simply become a further means of obstruction: a boulder, rather than a lever to remove what obscures and impedes our access to the truth that sets us free.

The truth is that the tomb is empty and we are called to live a new life in which resurrection and not death is the new reality; a life freed from the narrow constraints of human expectation, predictability and conformity; a life that confidently expects the disclosure of new vistas offered by the God whose very nature and purpose is to make all things new and make us part of His new creation.

Throughout history the way of the Church has been strewn with boulders of her own making. Those boulders conceal from us what God has already done and is continuing to do. They are boulders compounded of pride, hypocrisy and conceit, envy, hatred and malice and all uncharitableness.

From such things, good Lord, deliver us! And deliver especially this tortured Anglican Communion of Churches.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 1 August 2007 at 12:36pm BST | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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Colorado Springs: church court hearing

Updated Wednesday evening

The Diocese of Colorado has been holding an ecclesiastical court hearing to consider what action should be taken in the case of The Revd Donald Armstrong.

Jean Torkelson in the Rocky Mountain News has Episcopal priest’s case goes to church court and Episcopal lawyer slams Armstrong at hearing.

Colleen Slevin of Associated Press has Panel To Decide Case Against Armstrong.

Ed Sealover in the Colorado Springs Gazette has Episcopals may revoke Armstrong’s ordination.

All this is separate from the property dispute which is what the Denver Post is focused on in Theology battle rocks Springs church, world by Electa Draper.

The two congregations involved have websites:
The Episcopal Church congregation is here.
The CANA congregation is here.

Another two reports:

Jean Torkelson Rocky Mountain News Spotlight hotter for ex-rector:

…The whistle-blower who entangled the Rev. Don Armstrong in allegations of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars in church money was the parish bookkeeper, an attorney said Tuesday…

Electa Draper Denver Post Rebel priest spurns hearing

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