According to Jonathan Wynne-Jones in the Sunday Telegraph:
Conservative Christians will throw down the gauntlet to the Archbishop of Canterbury this week by demanding that he openly disowns the American church over gay bishops.
A letter to be sent to Dr Rowan Williams tomorrow by Reform, an evangelical group representing 1,000 parishes, urges him to make it clear that he opposes the American position
The group warns that his failure to do so would split the Church of England from “top to bottom” and lead to a further demand that the US church is barred from the Lambeth Council, the annual gathering of bishops…
Read the whole article, Ultimatum on Anglican church gays.
Read a statement from Reform at Anglican Mainstream Response from Reform to New Orleans Statement by TEC Bishops.
The New York Times has Groups Plan New Branch to Represent Anglicanism by Neela Banerjee.
Associated Press had Breakaway Episcopalians Form Partnership.
Reuters had Conservative Episcopalians plot separate church.
The Washington Times has Episcopalians plan to leave denomination by Julia Duin.
Two opinions on New Orleans:
The Tablet has a leader: Fragile compromise:
…Some evangelical bishops in Africa in particular seem keen to impose something akin to provincial uniformity on the American Church, where no deviation from their own hard line regarding homosexuality is permitted and those who ever thought differently are required to repent. But such intransigence is not the Anglican way, and if they push much harder it is they who will be in schism. Dr Williams will have to be as firm with these African bishops recklessly fishing in troubled Episcopalian waters as he has been with the Episcopalian leadership itself.
In the longer term, however, the New Orleans compromise itself looks unstable. The majority of American Anglicans still see discrimination against gay men and women as incompatible with the Gospel, and that includes discrimination against candidates for the priesthood or episcopacy. And they no longer accept the distinction that has helped the Catholic Church handle these tricky issues, between celibate and sexually active homosexuals. So, although a dam has been built, the rising waters may burst through again.
The Anglican Communion has often been a powerful force for good in the world and the cause of Christianity itself would be damaged if it broke up, not least because of the bitterness that would result. Catholics in particular can appreciate the belated realisation in the American Church that unity carries a price that can sometimes be irksome, and a Communion in which every part is entirely free to do whatever it thinks best is not worthy of the name. That acknowledgement now needs to be hammered home and made a central tenet of Anglican identity, not treated as a temporary local compromise to overcome a particular difficulty.
Fr Tony Clavier has a view: A Minor Miracle:
..The bishops go to Lambeth first of all as individuals, individually invited, and only secondly as provincial affiliates. This is a fact both they and the rest of us should stress and take in deadly earnest. They are given the opportunity to seek to shed for a space of time, jurisdictional and ethnic pride and to live into the baptismal promise the American Church constantly trumpets. Each bishop will go to Kent primarily as a baptized Christian, called to exercise episcopacy in a context. That context is both universal and local. As the late Eric Mascall suggested, they are Apostolically incorporated into the College of the Apostles, a rather more important concept than mere “succession.” They are locally appointed to an area in which they serve as proclaimers of the faith and unity of the church…
The official announcement about the tribunal decision is here:
Appellate Tribunal determination on Women Bishops:
The Anglican Church’s highest legal authority, the Appellate Tribunal, has cleared the way for the consecration of women as diocesan bishops across Australia.
In a majority decision the Tribunal has ruled that there is nothing in the Church’s Constitution that would prevent the consecration of a woman priest as a diocesan bishop in a diocese which by ordinance has adopted the Law of the Church of England Clarification Canon 1992. Not every diocese has done so.
The ruling impacts only on diocesan bishops and not assistant bishops most of whom are elected and confirmed under provisions of the Assistant Bishops’ Canon 1966 which seems to retain the requirement for candidates to be male.
One of the central issues in the ruling allowing women to become diocesan bishops concerned the definition of ‘canonical fitness’. In the Church’s Constitution, adopted in 1962 it was clear at that time canonical fitness included a requirement for ‘maleness.’
The ‘maleness’ requirement was removed in a process that began in 1989 when a canon (church law) was passed that amended the Constitution to redefine ‘canonical fitness.’ The canon came into effect in 1995 after 75% of dioceses, including all metropolitan dioceses, adopted it…
The full text of the decision can be read as a PDF file here.
Peter Selby writes in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column and reflects on how wars have challenged the modern church.
Jonathan Romain writes in The Times that Jews don’t have to believe – if they do what He says.
Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about A (Muslim) duty to prevent wrongdoing.
Bill Countryman writes in the Church Times about A weakness in the US Constitution.
Giles Fraser spoke on the radio yesterday about the Levellers and Burma.
Fulcrum has responses to what the American bishops said.
Andrew Goddard ‘Half Empty, Half Full, Too Little, Too Late?’
The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (NACDAP) announces Anglican Bishops Take First Steps to New Structure.
Anglican bishops from ten jurisdictions and organizations pledged to take the first steps toward a “new ecclesiastical structure” in North America. The meeting of the first ever Common Cause Council of Bishops was held in Pittsburgh September 25–28.
The bishops present lead more than 600 Anglican congregations. They formally organized themselves as a college of bishops which will meet every six months. They also laid out a timeline for the path ahead, committed to working together at local and regional levels, agreed to deploy clergy interchangeably and announced their intention to, in consultation “with those Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion offering recognition under the timeline adopted,” call a “founding constitutional convention for an Anglican union,” at the earliest possible date agreeable to all of the partners…
Read on for the full text of “The Articles of The Common Cause Partnership”.
Episcopal News Service reports Common Cause bishops pledge to seek Anglican recognition and lists the bishops of the Episcopal Church, USA who took part in this:
Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan convened the meeting in his role as moderator of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (NACDP), also known as the Anglican Communion Network.
Thirteen active or former diocesan Episcopal Church bishops attended the meeting, including Keith Ackerman (Quincy), James Adams (Western Kansas), Fitz Allison (formerly of South Carolina), Peter Beckwith (Springfield), David Bena (formerly of Albany), Alex Dickson (formerly of West Tennessee), Andrew Fairfield (formerly of North Dakota), John Howe (Central Florida), Jack Iker (Fort Worth), William Love (Albany), Donald Parsons (formerly of Quincy), Henry Scriven (assistant, Pittsburgh) and William Wantland (formerly of Eau Claire).
Duncan and others compared the steps taken during the meeting to those of the Reformation, the American Revolution, the U.S. Civil War and martyrdom.
Scroll down for a complete list of participant bishops and other leaders from all jurisdictions.
The “Common Cause College of Bishops Statement” also appears on the website of the Diocese of Pittsburgh: Anglican Bishops Take First Steps to New Structure.
A list of participating bishops now appears on the Network website.
The following letter to the editor was published today in full in the Church of England Newspaper and in a shorter form in the Church Times.
from Eeva John, the Revd Geoff Maughan, and the Revd Dr David Wenham
Recent revelations concerning the removal of Dr Elaine Storkey and of the Revd Dr Andrew Goddard and the Revd Lis Goddard from their posts at Wycliffe Hall have ensured that this Oxford Evangelical theological college continues to attract media attention. Over the past six months, rumours have abounded regarding a shift towards conservative evangelicalism, homophobia, misogyny on the one hand, and heavy-handed management involving bullying and intimidation on the other. Until now, out of loyalty to the college and concern for its students, staff at the college have been reluctant to comment, even though the situation has been repeatedly misrepresented in the press by other stakeholders. But now the serious and distressing injustice of the forcible removal of three fellow staff members compels us to set the record straight and to let the facts of the past two years speak for themselves.
Wycliffe Hall was in a strong and healthy position, when the Revd Professor Alister McGrath stepped down as Principal in 2004. But the appointment of a new Principal in April 2005 heralded a new era and the time for various changes, especially in administrative and managerial areas of college life. Staff were open to change, and wanted to work with the new Principal in this.
Distress soon set in, however, as strategic decisions, policies, and appointments were made without due regard for the views of colleagues. Despite intense behind-the-scenes discussions, these acute management difficulties culminated in the first of many resignations: David Wenham resigned as Vice-Principal, and Geoff Maughan, Director of Ministry, left the Hall to take up a parish post.
Tensions continued and reached a new climax at a meeting of staff and student representatives, at which the Principal responded unsatisfactorily to questions from students about various issues, including future staff appointments.
Dr Elaine Storkey, the Hall’s Senior Research Fellow, spoke out forthrightly at the meeting in support of those students and staff who had questions. This led directly to the Principal’s initiating formal disciplinary proceedings against Dr Storkey, and in due course to her responding reluctantly with grievance proceedings.
The heavy-handed disciplinary action, following all that led up to it, resulted in an appeal to the Hall Council from nine mostly senior staff (not including Dr Storkey), asking for their help in resolving the difficulties within the staff team and in bringing reconciliation. This was followed in subsequent months by a series of letters to the Council (six from groups of staff and many others from individual staff members) asking the Council to help.
The repeated pleas for face-to-face meetings with the Council and eventually for independent mediation were consistently rejected by the Council; substantive issues raised by staff were not addressed.
Eventually, the Council initiated a listening process, giving individual staff members access to two designated Council members. The outcome was a brief 140-word statement to the Hall community which reiterated the Council’s unanimous support for the Principal, and emphasised the need for all staff “to follow proper processes, to support the Principal, and to work to the highest Christian standards”.
In the mean time, resignations continued unabated. By the end of the academic year, eight staff members had resigned, two annual contracts had not been renewed, and one senior staff member had stepped down from his management responsibilities in protest.
Not all these resignations were as a direct consequence of the difficulties at the Hall, but many were. Three were staff who had been appointed by the current Principal and had been in post only two years. They could hardly be described as dead wood. Finally, the recent dismissals without grounds of Dr Storkey and the Goddards, none of whom had plans or desires to leave their posts at the Hall this year, has taken the toll of staff departures in one academic year to a total of 13. This represents more than 40 per cent of all support and academic staff.
Clearly neither Elaine Storkey nor the Goddards were alone in their unhappiness with the leadership and management of the Hall: they simply outstayed their welcome as far as the Principal and the Council were concerned.
The rough and tumble of heavy-handed and abrasive management may be the harsh reality of life in some businesses and organisations, but it is unacceptable and damaging in an institution that is first and foremost a Christian community in which future leaders are trained and mentored to imbibe the counter-cultural values of servant and team leadership. Furthermore the severance of the contracts of three members without any justification other than elimination of dissent is unjust. This is particularly the case when so many pleas for help in working towards reconciliation and understanding have been ignored.
Purported theological dimensions to the crisis at the Hall have been eagerly grasped by the press, and expressed variously as an attempt to capture the college for a narrow evangelicalism that is hostile to women’s ordination and homophobic. We are deeply distressed by, and wish to distance ourselves from such attempts to to polarize the Christian community caricature theological viewpoints. However, some of the Principal’s recent appointments, public statements, and changes to the curriculum do, however, suggest a more narrowly conservative emphasis (not to mention his signing of the “Covenant for the Church of England” without consulting colleagues). On the other hand, the appointment of two women academics can be seen as representing a broader approach.
As for the outgoing staff, any suggestion that they were uncommitted to the Evangelical heritage and emphasis of the Hall is untrue: we all held highly the Hall’s long-standing commitment to biblical doctrine, preaching and practice in a spirit of generous theological orthodoxy.
Finally, Wycliffe’s status as a Permanent Private Hall within Oxford University has been under the spotlight as a result of the recent review of all PPHs by the University. An important dimension of the Hall’s vision is to foster the pursuit of evangelical biblical scholarship within a context in which views are respectfully exchanged and heard. The Hall’s association with Oxford University is vital to this vision. We are naturally concerned that the recent events may have weakened this important relationship, but hope that the Council will support the Principal in ensuring that any damage is swiftly and unequivocally repaired.
The events we have described have caused intense pain and perplexity to many people. Although we readily acknowledge that the failures of judgement and charity have not all been on one side, we believe it is important for the wider Church, to which Wycliffe Hall is ultimately accountable, to be exposed to the voices that heretofore have been silent.
As staff who have left the Hall, we deeply regret what has happened, and the divisions that have arisen within the college and among its friends. We continue to have great affection for the Hall and for colleagues and students who have meant so much to us, and we hope and pray, still, for reconciliation, for healing of relationships, and for the rebuilding of the Wycliffe community.
Eeva John (Wycliffe Hall 2004-07); Geoff Maughan (Wycliffe Hall 1998-2007); David Wenham (Wycliffe Hall 1983-2007)
Last week’s Church Times contained a comment article written by me and titled Discrimination: a lost opportunity.
The Hereford Times has reported: Diocese will not appeal.
THE Diocese of Hereford will not appeal against a tribunal’s ruling that the bishop, the Rt Rev Anthony Priddis, discriminated against a gay job applicant.
An appeal is not being planned due to the high cost and length of time it would be expected to take, the diocese confirmed this week.
Diocesan spokesperson Anni Holden said: “We have taken legal advice and decided against appealing.
“Appeals can take several years and cost a lot of money. We are looking to the remedy hearing in December.”
During the remedy hearing it will be decided how much compensation youth worker John Reaney will receive…
Today’s Church Times has two news reports on the American House of Bishops meeting, and editorial comment.
The Economist has The turbulence of priests.
The Christian Science Monitor has Episcopal bishops move to ease clash over gays.
The Oxford University Gazette has published the full report: Review of the Permanent Private Halls associated with the University of Oxford.
It is available as a PDF file, from here.
The whole report should be read to get the sense of it, but in response to anticipated interest Annexe E on Wycliffe Hall can be read as an html page here. (There is a similar annexe describing each of the individual halls.)
Giles Fraser comments in the Guardian op-ed pages, US bishops have bent the knee to the will of the bully.
Robert Pigott at the BBC has Threat of Anglican schism still looms.
Updated Thursday afternoon
Global South Anglican has “editorial comment”: Why the TEC House of Bishop’s Statement will not ‘mend the torn fabric”. This has subsequently been attributed to Terry Wong.
There is a Joint Statement on the Resolution of the House of Bishops from “three orthodox Anglican groups, the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Communion Network, and Forward in Faith North America”.
Update there is also this analysis of the HoB statement at the AAC website (small PDF file). It compares the wording to earlier documents, and finds it “non-compliant”.
The Bishop of Dallas has published (as a PDF file) his Reflections on the House of Bishops meeting. This contains some very interesting detailed comparisons of wording as the communique drafting progressed.
The Primate of Australia has issued a press release, original now available here.
Affirming Catholicism UK has issued this statement: Who pays the price of our unity?. A copy of this follows, below the fold.
Affirming Catholicism has responded to the 25th September 2007 statement by the House of Bishops of the American Episcopal Church and welcomed insofar as it seeks to maintain unity in the Anglican Communion and within the American Church, but voiced its strong concern that lesbian and gay Christians would continue to suffer the burden of preserving that unity.
The statement by the American bishops came after a five day meeting in New Orleans during which the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke to them about the continued negative reaction in some parts of the world-wide Communion to the consecration in 2003 of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, the first openly gay bishop in the Church. Since then threats of splits have grown in the run up to next year’s gathering of all the bishops of the Church at the Lambeth Conference, and it seems likely that, despite the statement, some American dioceses will still seek to come under the jurisdiction of more conservative Anglican Provinces in other parts of the world. In seeking to preserve their place in the Communion the American bishops gave reassurances that they would not approve the ordination of gay men or women as bishops nor officially authorise rites of blessing for same-sex partnerships.
Canon Nerissa Jones MBE, Chair of Trustees, said:
We recognise the great lengths to which the American Bishops have gone to keep walking with those provinces of the Anglican Communion which take a conservative line on the issue of homosexuality. I hope that the leaders of those provinces will now cease to agitate against the American Church and accept their good faith. However, as long as the Anglican Church does not to authorise the consecration as a bishop of any openly lesbian women or gay man who is in a relationship and refuses to authorise the blessing of same-sex partnerships it continues to place the unfair burden of preserving our Church’s unity on gay people. I pray that one day that burden will be lifted.
Affirming Catholicism has consistently argued that lesbian and gay people ought to receive equal treatment and should be fully included in the life of the Church, and that differing views on the issue ought not to split the Church.
Fr Jonathan Clark, who heads up the Anglican Society of Catholic Priests, an organisation representing clergy reflected the views of the grass roots when he said:
In most parishes the controversies which rage amongst the global leadership are irrelevant. Parish priests and people simply want to welcome everyone to their worship and generously serve their communities. However the ongoing debates inevitably have a corrosive effect on the morale of lesbian and gay clergy and people in particular and I welcome the American bishops’ determination to keep the issue on the agenda, even if at the moment there is no consensus view across the Communion. Lesbian and gay people are a blessing to the Church and I hope that one day that will be formally acknowledged by our leadership.
In their statement the American Bishops affirmed their belief in the dignity of lesbian and gay people and, in the run up to next year’s Lambeth Conference, called on the rest of the Communion to engage in the process of listening to the experience of gay Christians.
Several statements have appeared:
From the Primate of Nigeria: A STATEMENT ON THE RESPONSE OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH TO THE DAR ES SALAAM COMMUNIQUÉ
From South Carolina: A Report on the New Orleans House of Bishops from Bishop Edward Salmon
The BBC reports that: Gay bishop move rejected by Kenya
There is a quote from the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church in this press release about an Inclusive Church event.
The Times now has a more substantial report, in US Episcopal Church leaders pledge not to consecrate gay bishops by Ruth Gledhill.
Boston Globe Michael Paulson Episcopal leaders act to avert a schism
Los Angeles Times Rebecca Trounson Episcopal bishops promise ‘restraint’
The video of the closing press conference is now available here at Episcopal News Service.
Church Society had this to say:
In some respects this is a positive move since it does show a willingness to try to satisfy the conditions laid down by the Primates. However, the problem is that at heart it changes nothing. Most of these Bishops are still committed to teach things that are contrary to Scripture (a fact which the Primates did not address) and they are determined to press ahead with their revisionist agenda. Although they have said they will not authorise services for same-sex unions, yet such services are happening in their Dioceses and nothing they have said will alter that. Their plan for episcopal visitors seems to fall a long way short of the sort of oversight the Primates envisaged and even further short of what many conservatives require. They clearly recognise nothing wrong in the fact that Gene Robinson is a Bishop and are merely biding their time.
All this is likely to mean that the whole unseemly mess continues without resolution. Moreover The Archbishop of Canterbury and the majority of the Primates’ Standing Committee are in agreement with the US revisionists, so they are going to play along with the charade and interpret the words as favourably as possible.
Anglican Mainstream appears to be more focused on the meeting in Pittsburgh and the comments of Bishop Duncan, which are reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in Bishop skeptical of Episcopal stance on gays by Steve Levin.
Fulcrum had fairly detailed comment from Graham Kings which starts out:
Initial Comment on the House of Bishops Statement from New Orleans
On a first reading, this statement is very significant and seems to go further and be more encouraging than many conservatives thought to be likely. The Presiding Bishop, and others who have worked hard with her from various traditions, deserve thanks for gathering support for an almost unanimous statement.
Moratorium on Consecration of people living in same sex unions. It clarifies the surprising last minute resolution B033 of General Convention 2006 by saying:
The House acknowledges that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains.
This seems to make The Episcopal Church compliant with The Windsor Report concerning a moratorium on the consecrations of people living in same-sex unions.
Blessing of Same-Sex Unions. The pledge on ‘not authorising any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action’ is important and welcome. However it still seems to allow space for private, unofficial pastoral services of blessing, in a minority of dioceses - this is implied in the statement that the majority of bishops ‘do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions’. It also interestingly adds ‘…or until General Convention takes further action’, which stresses the autonomy of TEC polity…
The Church Times has published US Bishops produce compromise statement
…The Response was more conciliatory than many had feared. At the press conference after the meeting, the Presiding Bishop, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, said: “We have reaffirmed our firm desire to remain as full members of the Anglican Communion.” The statement was essentially unanimous, and a significant number of conservative bishops had a hand in its drafting.
It is unlikely, however, that the document will satisfy all the Church’s critics, and particularly the most conservative bishops in the US, a handful of whom left the meeting early to travel to Pittsburgh, where the diocesan bishop, the Rt Revd Robert Duncan, has convened a meeting of the various traditionalist groups in North America. This meeting, called the Common Cause Council of Bishops, appears to be formulating an alternative to the official Episcopal Church, possible in conjunction with one of the overseas provinces. One possibility is that up to five Episcopal dioceses will secede.
The House of Bishops statement was firm on the subject of overseas incursions. “Such incursions imperil common prayer and long-established ecclesial principles of our Communion,” they say, calling for them to end.
Critics of the Episcopal Church will find several areas of dissatisfaction in the statement…
Ekklesia reports that Changing Attitude pledges to continue struggle for an inclusive church and the Changing Attitude press release can be found here.
The response of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church ‘to questions and concerns raised by our Anglican Communion partners’ gives encouragement to members of Changing Attitude and our brothers and sisters in Integrity, representing LGBT people in many parts of our Communion…
Earlier, Ekklesia had Mixed response to US Episcopal compromise on gay issue.
LGCM issued a rather different statement:
MEDIA STATEMENT LESBIAN AND GAY CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT
25th September 2007
The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in the United States of America has issued a statement today 25th September 2007
The Revd Martin Reynolds of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement said:
“Our disappointment with the American Church was profound when their General Convention outlawed gay bishops in 2006, that disappointment has now been reinforced.”
“But we believe this attempt to suck up to the homophobes will come to nothing. They have already decided not to believe anything the leaders of TEC say and are quite happy to ditch Canterbury and go it alone.”
“The schism will continue and I predict by this time next year there every disappointed American cleric who wants to be a bishop will have his wish.”
“Lesbian and gay bishops, priests, deacons and laypeople will continue to love and serve God in His Church while these bishops fall deeper into malice, we will pray for them.”
Ekklesia reported that as UK gay Christians disappointed at American Church decision.
Guardian Stephen Bates US bishops offer lifeline in effort to keep world Anglican church intact
Telegraph Jonathan Petre For now, US Anglicans give in to Archbishop
The Times Ruth Gledhill Bishops reject same-sex blessings
New York Times Neela Banerjee Episcopal Bishops Reject Anglican Church’s Orders
Chicago Tribune Manya A. Brachear Episcopals give ground on gay bishops
New Orleans Times-Picayune Bruce Nolan Episcopal bishops decline to roll back inclusion of gays
Living Church Steve Waring Bishops Conclude Meeting With Response to Primates
Episcopal News Service Pat McCaughan and Mary Frances Schjonberg Bishops provide ‘clarity’ in response to Primates’ communiqué and also Matthew Davies ACC, Primates Joint Standing Committee adjourns, initiates report to Archbishop of Canterbury
National Public Radio Bishops Move to Ease Concerns on Homosexuality
Reuters Bruce Nichols Episcopal Church to urge restraint on gay bishops
epiScope has it here: A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners
Update Episcopal News Service now has it also, at House of Bishops response ‘to questions and concerns raised by our Anglican Communion partners’.
House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church
New Orleans, Louisiana
September 25, 2007
A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners
In accordance with Our Lord’s high priestly prayer that we be one, and in the spirit of Resolution A159 of the 75th General Convention, and in obedience to his Great Commission to go into the world and make disciples, and in gratitude for the gift of the Anglican Communion as a sign of the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work of reconciliation throughout the world, we offer the following to the Episcopal Church, the Primates, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), and the larger Communion, with the hope of “mending the tear in the fabric” of our common life in Christ.
“I do it all for the sake of the Gospel so that I might share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:23
The House of Bishops expresses sincere and heartfelt thanks to the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates for accepting our invitation to join us in New Orleans. By their presence they have both honored us and assisted us in our discernment. Their presence was a living reminder of the unity that is Christ’s promised gift in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Much of our meeting time was spent in continuing discernment of our relationships within the Anglican Communion. We engaged in careful listening and straightforward dialogue with our guests. We expressed our passionate desire to remain in communion. It is our conviction that The Episcopal Church needs the Anglican Communion, and we heard from our guests that the Anglican Communion needs The Episcopal Church.
The House of Bishops offers the following responses to our Anglican Communion partners. We believe they provide clarity and point toward next steps in an ongoing process of dialogue. Within The Episcopal Church the common discernment of God’s call is a lively partnership among laypersons, bishops, priests, and deacons, and therefore necessarily includes the Presiding Bishop, the Executive Council, and the General Convention.
Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention
The House of Bishops concurs with Resolution EC011 of the Executive Council. This Resolution commends the Report of the Communion Sub-Group of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion as an accurate evaluation of Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention, calling upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees “to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.” (1) The House acknowledges that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains.
Blessing of Same-Sex Unions
We, the members of the House of Bishops, pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. In the near future we hope to be able to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide listening process. In the meantime, it is important to note that no rite of blessing for persons living in same-sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. In addition to not having authorized liturgies the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions. We do note that in May 2003 the Primates said we have a pastoral duty “to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations.” They further stated, “…[I]t is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care.”
We affirm the Presiding Bishop’s plan to appoint episcopal visitors for dioceses that request alternative oversight. Such oversight would be provided by bishops who are a part of and subject to the communal life of this province. We believe this plan is consistent with and analogous to Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) as affirmed by the Windsor Report (paragraph 152). We thank those bishops who have generously offered themselves for this ministry. We hope that dioceses will make use of this plan and that the Presiding Bishop will continue conversation with those dioceses that may feel the need for such ministries. We appreciate and need to hear all voices in The Episcopal Church.
Incursions by Uninvited Bishops
We call for an immediate end to diocesan incursions by uninvited bishops in accordance with the Windsor Report and consistent with the statements of past Lambeth Conferences and the Ecumenical Councils of the Church. Such incursions imperil common prayer and long-established ecclesial principles of our Communion. These principles include respect for local jurisdiction and recognition of the geographical boundaries of dioceses and provinces. As we continue to commit ourselves to honor both the spirit and the content of the Windsor Report, we call upon those provinces and bishops engaging in such incursions likewise to honor the Windsor Report by ending them. We offer assurance that delegated episcopal pastoral care is being provided for those who seek it.
In their communique of February 2007, the Primates proposed a “pastoral scheme.” At our meeting in March 2007, we expressed our deep concern that this scheme would compromise the authority of our own primate and place the autonomy of The Episcopal Church at risk. The Executive Council reiterate our concerns and declined to participate. Nevertheless we recognize a useful role for communion-wide consultation with respect to the pastoral needs of those seeking alternative oversight, as well as the pastoral needs of gay and lesbian persons in this and other provinces. We encourage our Presiding Bishop to continue to explore such consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.
The Listening Process
The 1998 Lambeth Conference called all the provinces of the Anglican Communion to engage in a “listening process” designed to bring gay and lesbian Anglicans fully into the church’s conversation about sexuality. We look forward to receiving initial reports about this process at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and to participating with others in this crucial enterprise. We are aware that in some cultural contexts, conversation concerning homosexuality is difficult. We see an important role for the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in this listening process, since it represents both the lay and ordained members of our constituent churches and so is well placed to engage every part of the body in this conversation. We encourage the ACC to identify the variety of resources needed to accomplish these conversations.
The Lambeth Conference
Invitations to the Lambeth Conference are extended by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Those among us who have received an invitation to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference look forward to that gathering with hope and expectation. Many of us are engaged in mission partnerships with bishops and dioceses around the world and cherish these relationships. Lambeth offers a wonderful opportunity to build on such partnerships.
We are mindful that the Bishop of New Hampshire has not yet received an invitation to the conference. We also note that the Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed a desire to explore a way for him to participate. We share the Archbishop’s desire and encourage our Presiding Bishop to offer our assistance as bishops in this endeavor. It is our fervent hope that a way can be found for his full participation.
Justice and Dignity for Gay and Lesbian Persons
It is of fundamental importance that, as we continue to seek consensus in matters of human sexuality, we also be clear and outspoken in our shared commitment to establish and protect the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons, and to name and oppose at every turn any action or policy that does violence to them, encourages violence towards them, or violates their dignity as children of God. We call all our partners in the Anglican Communion to recommit to this effort. As we stated at the conclusion of our meeting in March 2007: “We proclaim the Gospel of what God has done and is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion and peace. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God’s children including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ’s Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecutive because of their differences, often in the name of God.”
(1) The Communion Sub-Group noted that “the resolution uses the language of ‘restraint’, and the group noted that there has been considerable discussion since General Convention about the exact force of that word. By requiring that the restraint must be expressed in a particular way—’by not consenting…’, however, the resolution is calling for a precise response, which complies with the force of the recommendation of the Windsor Report.” The group also noted “that while the Windsor Report restricted its recommendation to candidates for the episcopate who were living in a same gender union, the resolution at General Convention widened this stricture to apply to a range of lifestyles which present a wider challenge. The group welcomed this widening of the principle, which was also recommended by the Windsor Report, and commend it to the Communion.”
Updated Tuesday evening
The Bishop of Lichfield has expressed an opinion. See Gay row could split church from the Wolverhampton Express & Star.
New Orleans Times-Picayune has Episcopal bishops walking a fine line.
National Public Radio has Gay Issue Looms over Episcopal Church.
Living Church Steve Waring In Closed Session, Bishops Perfecting Response to Primates
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the other members of the joint steering committee of primates and the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) met late into the night Monday discussing language on the eight or so bullet points which might constitute an acceptable response from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the primates…
…Meanwhile Bishop Jefferts Schori has been meeting most of the day in private session with the bishops trying to obtain their consent on the wording developed during the joint steering committee meeting last night. Not all of the suggested changes have been received with universal enthusiasm from the bishops, and some have said they expect that at least some of the proposed changes may require an up-or-down vote. Among the issues said to be encountering the most resistance is the bullet-point item on same-sex blessings…
Agency France Presse US Episcopal bishops meet on gay priests amid schism threat
Further developments yesterday:
Episcopal News Service House of Bishops talks make ‘enormous progress,’ go into overtime
…In response to a reporter’s queries about the future course of the church and possible breakaway dioceses reformulating under an overseas or other archbishop, Alvarez said: “We have been addressing precisely that issue as openly as possible, recognizing the divisiveness and controversy around it. We are very clear that we may have some people who are not in agreement with the majority positions taken by both houses of General Convention, but,” he added, “that doesn’t mean we can foresee a significant breakaway or division of the Episcopal Church…”
Living Church Steve Waring Bishops: New Document Will Preserve Status Quo
…The document released Monday morning is no longer a draft being revised. It has been replaced, Bishop Bruno said during the briefing. The new working draft was developed from this document and one submitted by Bishop Bruno and Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana. During the private session, the bishops discussed the two documents simultaneously for an extended period without coming to any consensus.
Finally Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori proposed an eight-paragraph summary which she had written. An overwhelming majority of bishops agreed her proposal captured many of the salient points in both of the draft documents under debate.
After receiving approval, Bishop Jefferts Schori briefed members of the joint steering committee of the primates and the Anglican Consultative Council so that they could complete their report to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The members of the steering committee were under a deadline because many are scheduled to depart New Orleans Tuesday morning. The writing committee will present final draft language for approval by bishops in the morning…
Associated Press Rachel Zoll Episcopalians Try to Prevent Split
Reuters Russell McCulley Episcopal bishops see “clear” statement on gays
Daily Telegraph Jonathan Petre Anglican Church could split by end of year
…Conservatives believe, however, that Dr Williams is now openly siding with the liberals and allowing the Communion to fall apart by default, leaving conservatives stranded.
Until now, only parishes have left the American Episcopal Church and affiliated with overseas provinces in Africa, often amid acrimonious and costly disputes over property.
But under the new plans, whole dioceses will for the first time transfer their allegiances, a significant escalation of the conflict which will be seen as highly provocative by American liberals…
The Living Church has several reports:
Stand Firm has published a draft document which is described as The 7 points of the Preliminary Draft Document: A Message from the House of Bishops (updated). And there is an even more obscure document titled Draft Copy of Notes from an informal meeting of 57 Bishops listing agreements and disagreements. Some explanation of all this can be found at Episcopal Café see Works in progress.
Episcopal News Service has House of Bishops begins to prepare Primates’ Communiqué response.
Updated Tuesday morning
Chicago Tribune Anti-gay Anglican archbishop speaks in Wheaton
Chicago Sun-Times ‘God wants unity’ but doesn’t get it
Northwest Herald Critic of Episcopal support for gay clergy speaks in Wheaton
Associated Press Nigerian archbishop, foe of gay clergy, visits church gathering
The Chicago Tribune also has a video report linked from this page.
Episcopal News Service has David Skidmore Followers, protestors greet Akinola at Wheaton chapel.
In the Guardian Stephen Bates writes US bishops try to find compromise on gay clergy.
…American conservative bishops complained that the archbishop refused to see them, or return their calls during his stay. A handful have now left the meeting and are planning to re-gather in Pittsburgh this week to discuss strategy, which is likely to include seeking oversight from an African province. Their leader, Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, predicted that about five of the US church’s 112 dioceses would seek to affiliate outside the US…
For the Associated Press Rachel Zoll writes Analysis: Anglicans Already Breaking Up.
In the New Orleans Times-Picayune Kate Moran has Bishop emphasizes inclusiveness.
From Episcopal News Service there are several more reports:
Shawls will enfold bishops in Episcopal Church’s prayers
Bishops asked to join ‘We the People’ leadership
Episcopal Communicators help rebuild lives in Gulf Coast recovery efforts
Rio Grande bishop announces intention to resign
Updated Sunday evening
The Sunday Telegraph has extensive reporting by Jonathan Wynne-Jones:
Archbishop prays for miracle in gay rights row
Homosexuality not a ‘disease’, says Archbishop
Church leaders on the brink of schism
Episcopal News Service ‘Day of Service’ puts bishops to work in Mississippi, New Orleans
The interview broadened into attendance at Lambeth Conference. In Bates’ telling the majority of Nigerian bishops want to go to Lambeth — contrary to the position of their primate, Peter Akinola.
Sunday evening updates
There are further proposals from bishops as to what to do, including this: A Proposal to the House of Bishops from Bishop John Howe.
The BBC radio programme Sunday carried an interview with Eeva John:
Wycliffe Hall staffing dispute
Elaine Storkey has left Oxford’s Wycliffe Hall theological college. Storkey, sometime presenter of Thought For The Day on Radio 4’s Today programme, is the latest in a long line of academic staff who have gone since the appointment of Richard Turnbull as principal two years ago.
Turnbull was brought in to improve management at the college. He has earned many critics and some have expressed fears that he is moving the college in a more theologically conservative direction.
Eeva John, Wycliffe’s former director of the diploma for Biblical and theological studies, resigned in August. She explained why she decided to go.
Listen (6m 18s)
Earlier report on this is here.
Further comment, by Eeva John herself, appears below among the comments.
Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, in addition to its main story, U.S. Episcopal Bishops Meeting in New Orleans has four interviews:
Bishop Charles Jenkins
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
Bishop John Chane
Bishop John Guernsey
The speech of Bishop Mouneer Anis Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, has been published, and can be read in full here.
The statement of Bishop Marc Andrus of California has also been published here.
Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona wrote an email about his reactions to the first day.
Andrew Goddard wrote a letter on 16 September which only got published yesterday, in which he writes about New Orleans and the Anglican Communion.
Friday’s press conference can be viewed in full by going to Episcopal News Service here.
Andrew Carey wrote in the Church of England Newspaper Schism is not the Answer.
Kendall Harmon wrote on titusonenine What Would a Radical Solution Look Like?
The sermon preached by the Archbishop of Canterbury is here: Sermon Preached at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center New Orleans.
Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times that The Divine Compassion has steel as well as serenity.
David Boulton writes about National Quaker Week in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column.
Christopher Howse writes about The bells that make Cockneys in the Daily Telegraph.
Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about These new bishops are only virtual — not real.
Guardian Stephen Bates Williams escapes bishops’ poison to see church at work in New Orleans
New York Times Neela Banerjee Episcopal Church Remains Divided on Gay Issues
Washington Post Michelle Boorstein Anglican Leader Plays Down Schism
Boston Globe Michael Paulson Archbishop holds out hope for compromise
Chicago Tribune Russell Working For Episcopal bishops, stress running high
USA Today Cathy Lynn Grossman Archbishop addresses religious fissure
Associated Press Rachel Zoll Anglican Head Downplays Split Over Gays
Agence France Presse Anglican leaders hope to avoid schism over gay clergy
Episcopal News Service Archbishop of Canterbury ‘encouraged’ by bishops’ meetings
Anglican Journal No ultimatum in request for September response, says Williams
Ah! New Orleans – the Big Easy, birthplace of the Blues and Louis Armstrong, city of Mardi Gras and Voodoo, the least Protestant town in the US: what better place to witness the latest stage in the break-up of the worldwide Anglican Communion? No prizes to be awarded – can you hear me, Bishop of Carlisle? – for the first one to pronounce God’s judgement if a hurricane hovers into view.
This week’s meeting between Rowan Williams and the American bishops will be my swan-song as a religious affairs correspondent, after eight years covering the subject for The Guardian. I’d have been less keen to attend had the venue been Detroit, but where better to end it? It is time to move on for me professionally, and probably for Anglicans too and this marks a suitable place to stop. There is also no doubting, personally, that writing this story has been too corrosive of what faith I had left: indeed watching the way the gay row has played out in the Anglican Communion has cost me my belief in the essential benignity of too many Christians.For the good of my soul, I need to do something else…
The Daily Telegraph has Archbishop accused of ‘dehumanising gays’ by Jonathan Petre
Ruth Gledhill has more about what Archbishop Akinola said to her yesterday, on her blog, at Peter Akinola ‘blows the fourth trumpet’.
The Living Church has Concluding His Visit, Archbishop Seeks to Lower Expectations by Steve Waring. And also Details Sketchy on Episcopal Visitor Proposal by George Conger and Steve Waring.
The Boston Globe has Episcopal leader pushes for a compromise on gay rights by Michael Paulson
Associated Press Rachel Zoll Anglican Head Downplays Split Over Gays
Reuters Bruce Nichols and Ed Stoddard U.S. Episcopals to respond on gay issue next week
Episcopal News Service has published the Archbishop of Canterbury’s opening remarks at today’s news conference:
…It has been a valuable opportunity to listen carefully to the thinking of the bishops here on the problems that face the Communion; and also for us to share with the House some perspectives from elsewhere in the Communion. I think that in the light of the conversations we have come to a better understanding of the House in response to the questions and proposals of the Dar es Salaam Primates’ Meeting. I hope that the House, equally, has understood more fully what those questions and proposals were meant to achieve. The House will continue to reflect on them over the weekend.
Despite what has been claimed, there is no “ultimatum” involved. The Primates asked for a response by September 30 simply because we were aware that this was the meeting of the House likely to be formulating such a response. The ACC and Primates Joint Standing Committee will be reading and digesting what the bishops have to say, and will let me know their thoughts on it early next week. After this I shall be sharing what they say, along with my own assessments, with the Primates and others, inviting their advice in the next couple of weeks. I hope these days will result in a constructive and fresh way forward for all of us.
Stand Firm has published another proposal, this one by four bishops, which also appears to be consistent with the Dar es Salaam communique.
Stand Firm has published a draft resolution which is described by SF thus:
This is a statement crafted during the last meeting of “Windsor Bishops,” and we’re told forms the basis of the resolution Bishop Jenkins is going to propose. However, we’ve also been told that he’s been “consulting” with bishops Bruno and Chane to make it more palatable to them. The document has been circulating among the bishops at the meeting here in New Orleans.
The draft is here.
The Church Times published an article written by me in last week’s issue in which I made an attempt at counting the number of parishes breaking away from the Episcopal Church in the US.
This is now available on the web at Global South reaches into the United States.
This article was written and printed before the announcement made last week by CANA concerning additional bishops and additional congregations.
The Washington Post has Anglican Leader Urges Church To Find Accord Amid Turmoil by Michelle Boorstein and Jacqueline Salmon.
The Boston Globe has Episcopal bishops, archbishop seek a middle ground by Michael Paulson.
Associated Press has Meeting Held on Anglican-Episcopal Split by Rachel Zoll.
Reuters has Episcopals reveal little of gay rift talks by Bruce Nichols.
Episcopal News Service has two reports:
House of Bishops sessions reflect ‘passionate commitment’ to Anglican Communion
Archbishop of Canterbury gets a taste of New Orleans
The problem for Anglicanism is that it has never been clear whose discernment counts. This is an inevitable dilemma for a Church that attempts to be true to both its Catholic roots and Protestant experience. Anglicans value and defend individual conscience, but also maintain Catholic order (as they understand it). With this in mind, Dr Williams has a limited armory. It includes the ability to win people over by argument and personal influence. He is adept at the first and possesses the necessary charisma for the second. He should use them to convince the diverging sections of the Communion that a sincere difference of opinion exists, and that, since the time taken so far to resolve the issues has clearly not been enough, more time is needed.
If, after the US House of Bishops meeting, the conservative and liberal tendencies declare that they are seeking greater division, this will solve little. Since schism removes the challenge of working closely with critics, it invariably confirms prejudice. Dr Williams will work to keep Anglicanism together not because everyone agrees with each other, but because they don’t. Most of all, we hope he will keep his head and refuse to be manipulated into one camp or another. Giving visible support to all sides equally is a good example to set.
From Australia, the ABC radio programme The Religion Report interviewed Philip Aspinall, Archbishop of Brisbane, before he departed for New Orleans. Go here, and scroll down more than halfway,to read the full transcript of this.
Religious Intelligence has this: More staff leave under-fire Anglican college:
THREE senior members of academic staff are leaving an under-fire Oxford theological College, it has been revealed today.
In the latest blow to Wycliffe College, which has come under mounting criticism in recent months for adopting a more conservative evangelical stance, its Principal the Rev Dr Richard Turnbull confirmed that three staff members are to leave, following another five academics have already left the institution in recent months.
The doctrinal change has coincided with the appointment of the new Principal, whose management style also been criticised.
In May one anonymous staff member claimed the college had become ‘openly homophobic’ and ‘hostile to women priests’ since his appointment.
The three staff members are Dr Elaine Storkey, formerly senior research fellow in social philosophy, the Rev Dr Andrew Goddard, tutor in Christian Ethics, and his wife, the Rev Lis Goddard, who was tutor in Ministerial Formation…
A feature film about this saga has been made, see this review of it here.
Lambeth Palace has issued this:
Briefing note from Lambeth Palace
Thursday 20th September 2007
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has spoken of his relief at receiving assurances over news agency reports attributing offensive remarks to the Bishop of Uyo, Nigeria, the Rt Revd Isaac Orama.
” As I said last week, these reports were very concerning and it is a great relief to have had full assurances that the stories were false and should never have appeared. I am grateful that the prospect of the severe offence that would have been caused has now abated”.
Episcopal News Service announces that Eight bishops agree to serve as ‘episcopal visitors’.
The Living Church has Bishops, Archbishop of Canterbury Begin Private Sessions.
The Chicago Tribune has Presiding bishop asks church to set aside ‘abundant disdain’ for differences.
From London, Ruth Gledhill of The Times reports that Pro-gay agenda pushes Church closer to schism and has an interview with Archbishop Akinola.
Updated Thursday evening
Rachel Zoll of Associated Press has Episcopal Bishops in Key Meeting on Gays.
Mary Frances Schjonberg of Episcopal News Service has House of Bishops meeting set to open and also CHICAGO: Persell criticizes Akinola’s anticipated visit.
There is an article written by Gregory Cameron over here.
The Chicago Tribune has Anglican gay-bishop stance is put to the test in Chicago and U.S. church receives deadline.
The BBC has US Anglicans meet over gay clergy.
Rebecca Trounson Los Angeles Times Episcopal bishops meet to discuss future
Kendall Harmon has an article at titusonenine Honesty or Obfuscation in New Orleans?
Raleigh News-Observer Bishop in full support of gays
Thursday evening update
Jonathan Petre Daily Telegraph Anglican Church in crisis talks to avert schism
USA Today Anglicans meet amid growing discord
Lakeland (Florida) Ledger Episcopal Bishop Joins Meetings
Comment is free has a column by Andrew Brown Communing with Dostoevsky.
The Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, has said that, while he supported the principle of an Anglican Covenant, he could not endorse the proposed version currently on the table.
See press release, Archbishop of Wales warns proposed Anglican Covenant could lead to exclusion.
See full text of his address, Talk to the Governing Body, September 2007. Here is an extract:
Three of the primates have also ordained bishops specifically to exercise ‘pastoral oversight’ in North America, and this has won the approval of a fourth primate, the Chair of the Covenant Design Group who has said that their consecrations could lead “towards a creation of a viable, stable and orthodox Anglican presence in the USA”. To intervene in the internal affairs of another province in this way has hitherto been regarded by the Communion as totally unacceptable. The Windsor report condemns such activities as did previous Lambeth resolutions. Although the primates in Tanzania also condemned these actions, they seemed to accept the fact that some primates did not feel able to refrain from such actions, until sufficient provision had been made, for what are regarded as faithful Anglicans in North America. That totally subverts the polity of the province concerned and Anglican ecclesiology in general, (if it happened in this province, we would not find it acceptable), but the primates seem to give it passive acceptance. The implementation of the Covenant will be in their hands, and they seemingly condone ‘the breaking of the bonds of affection’ in a very substantial way by some of their number. As they said in their press statement at Tanzania , “Those who have intervened believe it would be inappropriate to bring interventions to an end until there is change in the Episcopal Church”. They then go on to propose pastoral strategies with a pastoral council and a primatial vicar for the Episcopal Church to be in place by the end of September. That would possibly end interventions by individual primates but it would be a massive intervention in the affairs of the Episcopal Church by the primates as a body and all of this before a Covenant is even in place.
Moreover the primates at Tanzania went further. They said, “Pastoral needs are not limited to the Episcopal Church alone. Until a Covenant is secured, it may be appropriate for the Instruments of Communion to request the use of this or a similar scheme in other contexts should urgent pastoral needs arise”. In other words, there could be wholesale intervention by the primates in any province until a Covenant is in place and then obviously intervention by them again if any province was deemed to have breached the terms of that Covenant. Not surprisingly the Episcopal Church has refused such requests. In an attempt however to be irenic the Episcopal Church says, “The proposed pastoral scheme is injurious to the Episcopal Church but we pledge ourselves to find ways of meeting the pastoral concerns of the primates compatible with our own polity and canons”. In other words, before a Covenant is even established the primates are imposing deadlines and demands. What will happen if a Covenant were to be in place?
Updated again Wednesday evening
Jim Naughton has some advice to readers and also to journalists. He also reports that Archbishops Akinola and Orombi “both happen to be in the country this week”.
George Conger reports in the Living Church on who exactly will be accompanying the Archbishop of Canterbury, and what other meetings are scheduled this week. Joint ACC, Primates Committee to Meet Sept. 24.
Episcopal News Service recaps the Nigerian letter to the archbishop and other Nigerian developments in Bishops urge postponing Lambeth Conference, call for special Primates’ Meeting.
Updates Wednesday morning
Stephen Bates reports in the Guardian Williams in showdown with US church over gay bishops:
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, will demand concessions from the bishops of the US Episcopal Church tomorrow at a crisis meeting aimed at staving off the most damaging split in the church’s modern history, over the issue of homosexuality.
They will be asked to give guarantees that they will not allow the election of any more openly gay bishops or authorise public blessing services for same-sex couples and will create a structure for separate episcopal oversight for conservative congregations who disagree with the church’s liberal leadership…
Jane Lampman Christian Science Monitor Tension as Episcopal bishops meet
Christopher Quinn Atlanta Journal-Constitution Episcopalian church beginning to divide
Michael Conlon Reuters U.S. Episcopal church faces another showdown on gays
Bruce Nolan New Orleans Times-Picayune N.O. backdrop for meeting to save the Anglican communion and a later version on the front page of today’s paper: N.O. becomes the accidental backdrop for a high-stakes meeting to save the world’s Anglican communion. This contains an interview with Bishop Jenkins, conveniently excerpted here.
The Canadian Anglican Journal has a report by Solange de Santis with a different focus: Episcopal meeting brings helping hands to New Orleans
Church of England Newspaper has a report by George Conger Three Questions for the USA
Sister Joan Chittister, OSB has written a column titled We all need the Anglicans right now. Here’s an extract:
…So the question the Anglican communion is facing for us all right now is a clear one: What happens to a group, to a church, that stands poised to choose either confusion or tyranny, either anarchy or authoritarianism, either unity or uniformity? Are there really only two choices possible at such a moment? Is there nowhere in-between?
The struggle going on inside the Anglican Communion about the episcopal ordination of homosexual priests and the recognition of the homosexual lifestyle as a natural state is not peculiar to Anglicanism. The issue is in the air we breathe. The Anglicans simply got there earlier than most. And so they may well become a model to the rest of us of how to handle such questions. If the rate and kinds of social, biological, scientific and global change continue at the present pace, every religious group may well find itself at the breakpoint between “tradition” and “science” sooner rather than later.
Theological questions driven by new scientific findings, new social realities, new technological possibilities abound. How moral is it to take cells from one person for the treatment of another if all human cells are potentially life generating? Is that the destruction of life? If homosexuality is “natural,” meaning biologically configured at birth, why is it immoral for homosexuals to live in homosexual unions — even if they are bishops? After all, isn’t that what we said — in fact, did — when we argued “scientifically” that blacks were not fit for ordination because blacks weren’t quite as human as whites? And so we kept them out of our seminaries and called ourselves “Christian” for doing it. Without even the grace to blush.
It is not so much how moral we think we are that is the test of a church. Perhaps the measure of our own morality is how certain we have been of our immoral morality across the ages. That should give us caution. We said, at one time, that it was gravely immoral to charge interest on loans, that it was mortally sinful to miss Mass on Sunday, that people could not read books on the Index, that the divorced could not remarry. And we brooked no question on any of these things. People were either in or out, good or bad, religious or not, depending on whether they stood at one end or another of those spectrums…
The Archbishop of York wrote about Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe last Sunday in the Observer newspaper.
Nicholas Watt Archbishop hits out at policy on Zimbabwe
Updated Monday evening
As the Archbishop of Canterbury prepares to go to the USA and visit New Orleans, there is a website established by the Diocese of Louisiana devoted specifically to his visit. (h/t DL)
There are also various press reports about what may happen next.
Christopher Landau reports for the BBC What future for Anglicanism?
Jonathan Wynne-Jones reports for the Sunday Telegraph Archbishop fears split over gay clergy
Robert Barr reports for the Associated Press Anglican Leader in U.S. Over Gay Bishop
Neela Banerjee reports for the New York Times Episcopal Church Faces Deadline on Gay Issues
Daniel Burke reports for Religion News Service Episcopal Church faces same-sex deadline
The Sunday programme on BBC radio had an item about this:
Go here (6 minutes long).
Archbishop Peter Akinola, and journalist Stephen Bates are interviewed.
For a longer version of the Peter Akinola interview go here ( URL valid this week only).
The Episcopal News Service has a new monthly video programme. The first programme, available to watch here, has fascinating material about the situation in Louisiana and Mississippi following Katrina.
ENS also has a report on the responses made across the Episcopal Church to “a study document aimed at helping the House of Bishops respond to the requests made to them by the Primates of the Anglican Communion”: One third of dioceses respond to Bishops’ communiqué study document.
The Living Church reports on two other aspects:
Thinking about the meaning of Ramadan has made me a better Christian, says Chris Chivers in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column.
Reconciliation offers greater rewards than revenge writes Roderick Strange in the Credo column of The Times.
Christopher Howse says Jews fast, Muslims fast, so should Christians in the Daily Telegraph.
Giles Fraser writes about New York, where all our compulsions meet in the Church Times.
In the Washington Post Mary Jordan writes that In Europe and U.S., Nonbelievers Are Increasingly Vocal. (The article is in fact mostly about Europe and in particular the UK.)
The full interview, by Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson is available here: ‘Is our society broken? Yes, I think it is’.
News report: Archbishop: Pushy parents damaging children
Leader: A commonsense cleric
The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has published the following OPEN LETTER TO ABP. ROWAN WILLIAMS:
An open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury from the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria meeting in Osogbo, Osun State
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the one and only Lord Jesus Christ.
We write to you out of profound love for our beloved Anglican Communion and recognition that this current crisis in our common life together is an unrelenting source of anguish for you and for all concerned.
We have reviewed the paper “A Most Agonizing Road to Lambeth 2008” that was made available to us by our primate, the Most Rev’d Peter J. Akinola. We found it to be a compelling summary of many of the key events and meetings of the past ten years. It highlights the intractability of our current crisis.
We are persuaded that a change of direction from our current path is urgently needed and write to assure you of our willingness and commitment to work towards that end. We have noted your desire that the proposed Lambeth Conference be a place for fellowship and prayer and an exploration of our shared mission and ministry – all of these are of course commendable aims.
We all know, however, that the pressures of the present situation would adversely affect the outcome of the conference unless there is a profound change of heart; for how can we as bishops in the Church of God gather for a Lambeth Conference when there is such a high level of distrust, dislike and disdain for one another? How can we meet as leaders of the Communion when our relationships are so sorely strained and our life together so broken that we cannot even share together in the Lord’s Supper? It would be a mockery and bring dishonour to the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ.
We are also concerned about the abuse directed towards those who hold to traditional views on matters of Human Sexuality. The spate of hostility in the UK is alarming.
We are all witnesses to:
In truth anyone who does not embrace revisionist views is a potential target. We know it is possible to provide some security to minimize such occurrences but is the additional cost justifiable? Would the resultant atmosphere of fear and uncertainty be conducive to the goals of such a large gathering of bishops?
These are all matters of concern but in our opinion there is a way forward.
The proposed Anglican Communion Covenant is the one way for us to uphold our common heritage of faith while at the same time holding each other accountable to those teachings that have defined our life together and also guide us into the future. It has already received enthusiastic support from the majority of the Communion. Therefore we propose the following action plan:
As a matter of utmost urgency, call a special session of the Primates Meeting to:
a) Receive the responses made by The Episcopal Church to the Dromantine and Dar es Salaam Communiqués and determine their adequacy.
b) Arrive at a consensus for the application of the Windsor Process especially in Provinces whose self-understanding is at odds with the predominant mind of the Communion.
c) Set in motion an agreed process to finalize the Anglican Covenant Proposal and set a timetable for its ratification by individual provinces. This cannot be done at the Lambeth Conference because it is simply too large and, we all know, the Anglican Covenant requires individual provincial endorsement and signature.
Postpone current plans for the Lambeth Conference (as has been done before). This will:
a) Allow the current tensions to subside and leave room for the hard work of reconciliation that is a prerequisite for the fellowship we all desire.
b) Confirm that those invited to the Lambeth Conference have already endorsed the Anglican Covenant and so are able to come together as witnesses to our common faith.
We make these proposals in good faith believing that they provide an opportunity for us to reunite the Communion consistent with our common heritage and give us a way forward to engage the world with the holistic Gospel of Salvation in Jesus Christ.
Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
September 13th, 2007
Since the earlier reports, there has been an email, which TA received only as a comment from elsewhere, but which various other blogs have published, that reads as follows:
From: Emeka Samuel
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2007 6:00 AM
FROM: EMEKA OGENYI, NAN, UYO
REJOINDER: HOMOSEXUALS, LESBIANS ARE INSANE- BISHOP
This is to inform the agency and the general public that the report on the above subject credited to the Anglican Bishop of Uyo Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama was untrue.
I wish to state here that the report was not a true reflection of what the interview he granted journalists while Bishop Orama never made any statement at any time to condemn perpetuators of such unbiblical acts to such an extent as was reflected in the report.
The Bishop was wrongly misrepresented and misquoted and I hereby render my apologies to him, the Anglican Diocese of Uyo and the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) for embarrassment caused them by the report.
While I apologize for the mistake and to state that the report was not written in bad faith I wish to express my commitment to the evangelization of the gospel through this medium.
The Church of Nigeria has also issued the full Powerpoint file containing Bishop Orama’s synod presentation, the content of which Stand Firm has republished here. Although as the above email states, that presentation was not the source of the original article but rather an interview with journalists.
There has not so far been any statement relating to this email from the Church of Nigeria.
There has not been any statement from the News Agency of Nigeria.
Nor has there been any further statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Former primate of Canada Michael Peers has written “An Amplification of the Brooks Document” supplementing the earlier article Who has the power? by Robert Brooks.
See Archbishop Peers on the Primates and the ACC at Episcopal Majority.
I reported earlier about the Church of England’s response to the government review of current legislation.
Today, the Church Times has both a news article and a leader column about the response.
News: C of E queries Government’s new ideas for equality laws (this also includes a report of the Northern Ireland judicial review of SORs).
Leader: My right’s better.
On the Northern Ireland judicial review, Jonathan Petre had this in the Daily Telegraph: Judge squashes part of UK gay rights laws.
On the government consultation, the Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales have also filed a response. It can be found here.
Last week’s Church Times had this comment article by Pat Ashworth: Pushing Anglicanism to the precipice.
SPIN-doctoring overreached itself — and fell flat on its face — two weeks ago with the publication of a pastoral letter purporting to be from the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, to his flock in Abuja (News, 24 August). Should it matter that the bulk of it was written in the United States from the computer of Bishop Martyn Minns, and that revision, editing, and formatting took place over four days?
I believe it does. After our news story (24 August) we were accused by the Nigerian director of communications of being “insulting and racist”. It has nothing to do with race but everything to do with language and politics, in a climate where the word “decision” is now drip-fed into every missive…
Updated Friday evening
CANA announces: 4 New Bishops Elected to Serve CANA:
September 13, 2007
(Herndon, VA) — The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) met in Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria, on the 12th day of September 2007. They received a report from the Rt. Rev’d Martyn Minns, Missionary Bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria in the USA. Acknowledging the significant growth of CANA that is taking place in the USA, the House of Bishops considered a request for additional bishops to further the work of CANA and the extension of God’s Kingdom.
After the meeting, the Primate, the Most Rev’d Peter J. Akinola, announced the election of four suffragan bishops and appointed them to serve in the USA. The bishops-elect are the Rev’d Canon Roger Ames (Akron, OH), the Rev’d Canon David Anderson (Atlanta, GA), the Ven. Amos Fagbamiye (Indianapolis, IN), and the Rev’d Canon Nathan Kanu (Oklahoma City, OK). The consecrations will take place in the USA before the end of 2007, at a date and place yet to be determined. These four bishops-elect will join Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns and Suffragan Bishop David Bena in providing an indigenous ecclesiastical structure for faithful Anglicans in this country.
CANA currently consists of approximately 60 congregations and 80 clergy in 20 states. About a quarter of the congregations are primarily expatriate Nigerians. CANA was established in 2005 to provide a means by which Anglicans living in the USA, who were alienated by the actions and decisions of The Episcopal Church, could continue to live out their faith without compromising their core convictions. CANA is part of the Common Cause partnership that includes representatives of more than 250 Anglican congregations that are connected to the rest of the Anglican Communion, a worldwide fellowship of some 70 million, through various pastoral and missionary initiatives.
The Living Church has a report which explains at least in part how the new number of 60 CANA congregations mentioned above now arises: in the report AAC’s Anderson Among Four New CANA Bishops by George Conger and Steve Waring it says:
In an interview with The Living Church, Fr. Ames said all of the parish leadership and the congregation of St. Luke’s left The Episcopal Church about two years ago for the Diocese of Bolivia in the Province of the Southern Cone, but because the Diocese of Ohio has not to date included the departure in its parochial report filings with the national church, he and the congregation continue officially to be designated members in good standing of The Episcopal Church.
Fr. Ames said there are currently about 50 former Episcopal congregations affiliated with the Diocese of Bolivia. These are in the process of being transferred to CANA by mutual agreement of Bishop Minns and the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons, Bishop of Bolivia. According to a press release published on CANA’s website, the convocation now has 60 congregations and 80 clergy in 20 states.
Updated Thursday morning
Changing Attitude sent somebody to Uyo, Nigeria, to find out more about what the bishop had or had not said.
There is a report here: Changing Attitude Nigeria investigates Bishop Orama of Uyo.
First, the Nigerian provincial website has published: BISHOP ORAMA CALLS FOR YOUTH RE-ORIENTATION TO CURB VIOLENCE IN THE NIGER DELTA REGION. This includes:
Also, speaking on the recent publication in some dailies on homosexual issue in the North America as he expressed in the last synod of Uyo Diocese, Rt. Revd. Isaac Orama lamented over what he called a false statement published on the internet and called on the media to desist from publishing wrong statements for public consumption.
According to him, what he said was that CANA is the offshoot of the Church of Nigeria’s response to the unbiblical agenda of the Episcopal Church of United States of America in supporting same sex marriage and consecrating in the year 2003 the publicly acknowledged gay priest V. Gene Robinson as bishop.
Second, I received an email yesterday from The Venerable AkinTunde Popoola which is reproduced in full below the fold.
Email from the Director of Communications, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion):
Subject: Re Bishop Orama
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2007 17:30:48 +0100
From: CofN Communications Dept.
I have obtained both a soft copy (PowerPoint) and a booklet copy of the Bishop’s Synod address in order to be sure I had what was given out at the synod the NAN reported covered.
There was no mention of the word ‘homosexual’
There was one mention of the word ‘gay’
There was one mention of the words ‘same sex’
The paragraphs containing these words are copied below. The offending reporter is pleading for forgiveness (his job on line) the Bishop has told him to first publish the retraction.
Many others need to do something similar for name calling.
The Lord bless you as you remain in Christ
The Venerable AkinTunde Popoola
G. INAUGURATION OF CANA
The formal inauguration of CANA-Convocation of Anglicans in North America and the enthronement of its pioneer Bishop, Rt. Revd. Martyn Minns took place on 4th May, 2007, at a service presided over by the Primate and Metropolitan of Church of Nigeria, The Most Revd. Peter J. Akinola at Hylton Chapel woodbridge, Virginia in the United States of America.
CANA is the offshoot of the Church of Nigeria’s response to the unbiblical agenda of the Episcopal Church of United States of America in supporting same sex marriage and consecrating in the year 2003 the publicly acknowledged gay priest V. Gene Robinson as bishop.
The aim of CANA, in the words of the Primate of Church of Nigeria, The Most Revd. Peter J. Akinola is “to provide a safe place for those who wish to remain faithful Anglicans but can no longer do so within the Episcopal Church. The Primate was assisted by the following bishops of Church of Nigeria, Rt. Revd. Emmanuel Chukwuma (Enugu); Rt. Revd. Benjamin Kwashi (Jos); Rt. Revd. Ignatius Kattey, (NDDN); Rt. Revd. Edafe Emamezi (Western Izon). The chairman of board of trustees of CANA, Barr. Abraham Yisa was also in attendance.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matt. 5: 8 - ‘Tunde
The Diocese of Pittsburgh, a member of the Anglican Communion Network, has an annual convention (think diocesan synod) coming up on 2-3 November. A number of official documents have been published in relation to this.
For an alternative view of Pittsburgh, try reading either the website of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh or the most recent entries of Lionel Deimel’s weblog:
Agreeing to Agree
“… the bishop didn’t say that.”
The Courts Service of Northern Ireland has now published the full text of yesterday’s judgement by Mr Justice Weatherup.
The document can be read as an html page here.
John Wilkins, former editor of The Tablet, writes at great length in the American National Catholic Reporter about Anglican schism?
This is the cover story for the issue dated 14 September. There is an annoying subscription offer that you have to push past to get to the article but it’s well worth reading in full.
Update Also see this accompanying page: The Anglican crisis in brief.
The BBC reports on the outcome of the judicial review of The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006:
New legislation banning discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals is lawful with just one exception, a High Court judge has ruled.
Mr Justice Weatherup said harassment provisions in the Sexual Orientation Regulations must be removed…
…The judgement followed a five-day hearing last June when the Christian Institute and numerous churches applied for a judicial review of the regulations which they claimed were a “gay rights charter.”
… The regulations came into force last January when former secretary of state Peter Hain was accused of rushing the powers into law by limiting consultation to six weeks whereas people in the rest of the United Kingdom were given six months to examine the controversial issues.
It was on the consultation ground that Mr Justice Weatherup said the harassment provisions had to be set aside.
A harassment clause was not included in the corresponding regulations for Great Britain, as the topic was to be considered as part of the wide-ranging Discrimination Law Review. (The consultation period following that review has just closed, see here.)
The Evangelical Alliance issued a press release saying:
The Evangelical Alliance is encouraging Christians to respond respectfully and in a Christ-like manner to the decision made in today’s judicial review of Northern Ireland’s Sexual Orientation Regulations that banning discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals is lawful with one exception.
The Alliance welcomes the fact that a number of Christian organisations were able to exercise their right to call for the review. It also welcomes the removal of the harassment clause and particularly of the judge’s confirmation that the regulations do not apply to the core school curriculum. But it is also praying that following the decision, Christians’ rights do not appear bigger than their representation of Christ or their commitment to the rights of others.
For an alternative interpretation of the decision, see the Christian Institute’s press release.
Anglican TV has a lengthy video (over 42 minutes) in which Archbishop Henry Orombi is questioned by reporters from the BBC (Christopher Landau), the Wall Street Journal, as well as Anglican TV, about the recent consecration of an American there.
The Central Florida Episcopalian for this month also contains another article which details further the position on property issues for congregations who might wish to leave the diocese. That can be found in the original PDF here, on pages 11 and 12, or there is an html copy here.
Both documents are worth reading right through. Some quotes from the letter:
…Nearly thirty of our Bishops – myself among them – have given the assurances requested, but a larger number than that have said they will never agree to these requests, and more than a third of the Bishops have yet to declare themselves. (Note: The Episcopal Church has never officially authorized the blessings, but some Bishops have done so in their own Dioceses.)
Everyone hopes that clarity and understanding will be improved on all sides when the Archbishop meets with us, but I know of no one who expects that at the end of the meeting the unequivocal assurances will have been given by the House as a whole.
Archbishop Williams will need to consult with the other Primates to consider and evaluate whatever responses we will have given them. The Archbishop has recently said he is “hopeful, but not optimistic” that the Anglican Communion will be able to stay together after that point.
What this will mean for parishes, Dioceses, and The Episcopal Church as a whole is not yet clear. There is, however, increasing talk among several of our Central Florida clergy about the possibility of their declaring their “separation from The Episcopal Church” and their seeking “realignment” with some other Province of the Anglican Communion. They would hope to take as many of their parishioners with them as possible, and they would try to retain the property belonging to those congregations.
If they decide to do this it will be extremely messy, difficult, and costly in every way imaginable.
Both the canons of The Episcopal Church and the state law of Florida stipulate that congregational properties are held “in trust” for the Diocese and the national Episcopal Church. This means that even if every single person in a given congregation wanted to leave they could not simply “take the property with them.”
…I believe that in virtually every one of our congregations, even those in which the desire to separate is widespread, there are many who do not wish to leave The Episcopal Church or the Diocese of Central Florida. If those who desire to remain can become a viable congregation, that congregation becomes the continuing body of that parish, with a claim upon the property.
So: I foresee an extremely difficult period ahead of us, in which congregations may be pulled apart, and arguments over property become horribly distracting and costly.
I am committed to being as gracious and generous as possible to those who, for conscience sake, believe they must separate. But I am pledged to stand alongside those who, for conscience sake, choose to remain, and I am committed to the rebuilding of congregations and this Diocese in the wake of any such departures…
A suburban church in Illinois which is part of the Anglican Mission in the Americas has discovered that Rwandan secular politics affects them. See this from Christianity Today: Rwandan Politics Intrudes on American Church. (hat tip Stand Firm)
A suburban Chicago church sought leadership from Rwanda amid theological disputes with the Episcopal Church. This week, it found itself in conflict with its leaders over Rwandan politics.
All Souls Anglican Church had invited Paul Rusesabagina, whose life was featured in the 2004 movie Hotel Rwanda, to speak during Sunday morning services. The Wheaton, Illinois, church, a member of the Rwandan-led Anglican Mission in America, invited him as part of a fundraiser to build a school in Gashirabwoba, Rwanda.
On Thursday, however, Emmanuel Kolini, the Anglican archbishop of Rwanda, asked All Soul’s pastor J. Martin Johnson to rescind the invitation.
Rusesabagina has been at odds with the president of Rwanda. The archbishop feared that the event could create a strain in the relationship between the Anglican Church of Rwanda and the government.
“Truly I am horrified that we could have such a negative impact without meaning to,” Johnson told Christianity Today. “I had no idea this was a controversial issue…”
And later this month, as the All Souls’ Anglican Church website notes there will be:
The AMiA Big event
On Sunday, Sept 23rd at 10:30am, we’ll gather with other local Anglican churches for a worship service at which the Most Revd. Dr. Peter Akinola, Bishop of Abuja, and Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria will preach. We will meet in Edman Memorial Chapel on the corner of Washington and Franklin in Wheaton, IL.
Updated again Monday evening
The elected President of the House of Deputies of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church is currently a lay person, Bonnie Anderson.
She recently visited Fort Worth Texas, to address a local meeting, co-hosted by the Brite Divinity School and Fort Worth Via Media, neither of which is an official organ of the Diocese of Ft Worth. Indeed, the divinity school is associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), another Christian denomination.
Nevertheless the Bishop of Fort Worth Jack Iker objected to her visit. He issued a press release [PDF file] in which he says:
…“This visit by Mrs. Anderson was arranged without any prior consultation with me or any of the other elected leaders of this diocese. I consider it a breach of protocol and a violation of the basic polity of The Episcopal Church. It is a clear effort on her part to recognize and empower a small group of people who dissent from the stated theological positions of this diocese and who claim that they alone are the true ‘loyal Episcopalians‘ here in Fort Worth.
“This visit by Mrs. Anderson further exacerbates an already tense, adversarial relationship that has developed between national leaders and diocesan officials. Unfortunately, she has sought to further divide the people of this diocese rather than to promote reconciliation. I regret that Mrs. Anderson has chosen to fan the flames of division and to advocate a rather one-sided view of the controversies that have overtaken The Episcopal Church in recent decades. Rather than working with me and other diocesan officials, she has chosen to go around us in a blatant attempt to work with the revisionist opposition known as the Via Media.
“I regard her visit as part of a concerted effort to undermine the existing diocesan leadership in favor of those who support the liberal agenda of the General Convention Church. It is disconcerting to see this deepened alienation fostered by one of the top leaders of The Episcopal Church. However, we will not be deterred or side-tracked from our Gospel mission by this kind of political manipulation.”
Some other recent statements by Bishop Iker can be found here:
It turns out that Bishop Iker was invited to this meeting, and Bishop Iker did not indicate any displeasure over the visit in his note declining the invitation. The exchange of notes between FWVM and the bishop before the event can be read in full here: Bishop Iker is Unhappy.
For links to other blog comments about this event, go here.
Monday afternoon Episcopal News Service has a very detailed report from Mary Frances Schjonberg titled Bonnie Anderson promises support, tells Fort Worth Episcopalians to ‘saddle up’.
Fort Worth Via Media has issued this statement.
Jonathan Sacks writes on the occasion of the Jewish New Year that Freedom can only walk on the path of forgiveness.
Simon Rocker writes about the image of God, in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column.
And in the Daily Telegraph Christopher Howse writes about What Richard Dawkins makes of Jewish morals.
From the Church Times Giles Fraser asks Should the BBC allow extremist voices?
The Living Church reports in Pro-American Provincial Dean in Central Africa Ousted that the Bishop of Botswana, Trevor Mwamba has been removed as provincial dean:
…The Rt. Rev. Albert Chama, Bishop of Northern Zambia, was appointed to replace Bishop Mwamba as dean by the church’s General Synod, which began meeting on Sept. 6 in Mangochi, Malawi.
The government-backed Harare Herald reported Bishop Mwamba was “relieved of his duties” due to his “pro-gay” and pro-American lobbying, and because he misrepresented “the province’s position on the issue of homosexuals.”
From Kenya, the Nation reports New Anglican priest in dilemma over gay family.
From Rwanda, the New Times reports Country to Anoint U.S. Bishops.
Some further comments concerning the Central Africa situation can be found here at Episcopal Café.
And Bishop Mwamba’s remarks in England last January can be found here.
Here’s another report from news24 ‘We will not indulge gays’.
“Covenant” Web Site Launched to Aid Thoughtful Reconciliation among Anglicans and Others
Durham, NC — September 5, 2007 – A group of American Episcopalians and Anglicans who call themselves “evangelical catholic” have today launched a new website and blog, “Covenant” (http://covenant-communion.com), that will focus on “the present struggles and gifts” of The Episcopal Church and other communities in order to emphasize the need for greater humility and reconciliation among Christians.
The founders of the site, who are students, teachers, and pastors from the Episcopal Church in the United States, are frustrated with the polarization and vitriol about sexuality and other hot topics that have divided so many Episcopalians (and Anglicans throughout the world) from each other. Similar debates are dividing Lutherans, Methodists, and others in the mainline churches.
Taking St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians as their theme, the founders of the site insist that all Christians are called by God to “agree” and “unite,” which is the literal meaning of the word covenant. This requires “waiting for one another,” the website proclaims, and reflecting more carefully about what “orthodoxy” means for Christians.
Visitors to Covenant can expect to find:
To reach Covenant, visit their website at http://covenant-communion.com
Updated again Saturday morning
The following announcement has been issued from the Anglican Communion Office:
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has expressed deep shock at remarks said to have been made by the Bishop of Uyo, Nigeria, the Rt Revd Isaac Orama concerning gay and lesbian people.
The Archbishop will be contacting the Archbishop of Nigeria, Dr Peter Akinola, to seek clarification. Dr Williams said “The safety of people of gay and lesbian sexual orientation is a matter of concern for us all. The Anglican Primates, along with all other official bodies in the Anglican Communion, have consistently called for an end to homophobia, violence and hatred. If these reports are correct I would urge the bishop to apologise. Such comments are unacceptable and profoundly shocking on the lips of any Christian”.
To see the original remarks go here.
To see the latest press release from Changing Attitude about this, go here.
Update Friday evening
The Living Church reports that Reporter Apologizes for Misquoting Nigerian Bishop:
… A spokesman for the Church of Nigeria, Archdeacon Akintunde Popoola, told The Living Church the quote attributed to the bishop was false.
The Bishop of Uyo “denied making such a statement,” Canon Popoola said. While the bishop’s address to his diocesan synod did speak to the issue of human sexuality dividing the Communion, and the Church of Nigeria’s position on these issues, “he did not say that [gays and lesbians] are to be hated, nor that they are insane or unfit to live.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reporter has “apologized for the misrepresentation and promised a retraction,” Archdeacon Popoola told TLC.
Stand Firm has published this email from UPI:
Thank you for your enquiry about the September 2 article that attributed some highly critical comments on homosexuals to Bishop Orama of Nigeria. This story was generated by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). UPI distributes stories from NAN and other African news agencies as a pass-through service. We cannot vouch for their accuracy. The UPI tag at the start of the story was added in error.
We do note, however, that there are reports of a statement from a spokesman for the Episcopal Church of Nigeria that Bishop Orama has denied making the statements attributed to him, and that the reporter concerned has offered a verbal apology and promised to publish a retraction. You would have to contact NAN as to whether the information about the retraction is true. In the meantime, UPI is taking down the story from our site and informing our customers of this action. If a retraction appears from NAN we will run it.
Note that this is not “United Press International reporter apologises” as claimed at present in a headline here.
The Diocese of Fort Worth issued this announcement “From the Bishop”: The Realignment Moves Forward. It includes this:
…As you know, in March the House of Bishops voted down a very workable proposal for alternative primatial oversight that the Primates’ Meeting had offered to provide for our expressed needs, and no other alternative plan has been suggested. This resulted in the declaration that the Standing Committee and I made on May 16th that we would now have to pursue our original appeal for APO – an appeal that was supported by an overwhelming majority vote at our Diocesan Convention last year – independent of the structures of The Episcopal Church. We have had some very encouraging meetings and conversations over the summer months with a number of Bishops and dioceses and Primates and Provinces that share our concerns and our commitment to Christian orthodoxy. The Archbishop of Canterbury has been kept informed of these developments. More about this will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.
One of the most encouraging signs of the realignment that is under way is the first-ever Council of Bishops of the Common Cause Partners which is to meet in Pittsburgh during the last week of September. This is a gathering of all bishops exercising active ministry within the member bodies of Common Cause.* The purpose of the meeting is to explore ways in which we can work together for a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America. I will be among some 60 bishops in attendance, as will be the newly consecrated bishops serving those congregations here in the States that are under the Provinces of Uganda and Kenya.
By the end of this month, the House of Bishops will have decided the future direction of TEC, and as a result we too will have to declare our future as a diocese. I do not expect that TEC will comply with the requests of the Primates in their Dar es Salaam Communiqué. In that case, we will see further fraction and division in the Communion during the months ahead. We will then have to choose in favor of the Anglican Communion majority at the expense of our historic relationship with the General Convention Church…
Updated again Saturday
The Archbishops’ Council has issued a response, available here as an RTF file, to the UK government’s consultation paper, A Framework for Fairness: Proposals for a Single Equality Bill for Great Britain.
The consultation paper, which can be found as a large PDF file via this link, sets out the government’s proposals for a Single Equality Bill for Great Britain. These proposals were developed as a result of the Discrimination Law Review, launched in February 2005 to consider the opportunities for creating a clearer and more streamlined discrimination legislative framework which produces better outcomes for those who currently experience disadvantage.
A Church of England press release about the response can be found here.
Ekklesia has reported on this, see Church of England concerned that equality bill will reduce its influence. Here is the concluding part of that report:
…The response claims that the Church of England has been consistent in its support for the use of the law to combat the manifestations of prejudice and to promote equality and fairness since the introduction of the first anti-discrimination legislation more than forty years ago.
But critics say that the Church has used its unelected representatives in the House of Lords and its lobbying muscle elsewhere to oppose or seek to water down equalities legislation and regulations, particularly in relation to sexual orientation. The desire for ‘opt-outs’ has also been challenged.
While many church groups have opposed the new Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs), the evangelical Faithworks network has called on Christians to recognise the need for equal treatment in spite of moral disagreement.
Simon Barrow, co-director of the independent Christian think tank Ekklesia, commented: “The comprehensive and integrated equalities agenda across Britain’s public institutions is no threat to freedom of religion or tolerance. On the contrary, equal treatment is a cornerstone of fair access and open expression for all - including people of faith and those of non-religious outlook.”
He added: “It is sad that some faith organisations seem fearful of equal rights, especially when it applies to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons. But there is a clear distinction to be made between the moral stipulations of a community of commitment, and the obligation on public institutions to ensure fair treatment. Religious bodies do not have to take public money, run schools and work in cooperation with community and public services. But if they do so, they need to occupy the same level playing field as others.”
Ekklesia argues that the churches need to pay more attention to the “radically egalitarian” strand of the Gospel message in developing their response to public policy, rather than defending their institutional interests over and against others.
Jonathan Petre reports on this at the Daily Telegraph: Church fears lawsuits over gay rights. He says in part:
…The Church of England, in its official submission to the Government’s consultation on the Bill, said the proposed harassment laws were unnecessary.
If such legislation was introduced, however, it would be “crucial” to ensure that a religion’s followers, and not just clergy, could continue “to express the views of their faith about homosexual conduct, including challenging people to lead lives consistent with the teaching of the Church.
“To deny Christians (and followers of other faiths which take a similar view) such a right would amount to an unjustified interference with the right to manifest religious belief.”
The Church added that the proposals “should not prevent church schools from continuing to teach in accordance with such a school’s religious ethos.”
Government plans to extend the same harassment laws to religion and belief were also criticised.
The Church said it could lead to people objecting to religious symbols such as crosses on hospital walls on the grounds that they were an affront to atheists.
It added that the proposals were in danger of undermining religious freedom.
“We have been concerned at what has seemed in some recent debates to be a trend towards regarding religion and belief as deserving of a lesser priority in discrimination legislation than the other strands where the law seeks to bring protection,” it said.
Religion and belief seemed to be treated as subordinate to other rights because they were deemed to be a personal choice, but this was “a false analysis”, it continued.
“Nor is religious equality achieved by the elimination of expressions of religious belief in public institutions such as schools or local authorities.
“This does not amount to, or achieve, equal respect for different religious groups and those of no religion; rather it amounts to an enforced secularism that fails to respect religious belief at all.”
Steve Doughty in the Daily Mail has Church of England: Labour’s equality law denies Christians right to oppose homosexuality.
An OpEd column from the Ugandan Observer is titled Tolerance key in gay saga. Here’s a sample:
…While it is understandable that many people, particularly in Africa, find homosexuality so revolting, churches are giving the issue more attention than it actually deserves.
Besides, some religious leaders seem to have forgotten the virtues of tolerance and forgiveness so well articulated in the Bible in their zeal to condemn and pass judgment on homosexuality.
As a result of this fixation, such religious leaders tend to keep a blind eye on other evils going on under their noses everyday but are quick to jump onto the gay bandwagon.
Every other day some religious leaders are cited in cases of theft, witchcraft or adultery, but they are not treated as outlaws as much as gays are. Yet the Bible clearly says that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory…
Michael Paulson of the Boston Globe who went to Africa to cover the recent consecrations has filed this further lengthy report giving a lot of background to recent events: African Anglicans try to transform US church.
Updated again Friday
A Communiqué FROM THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS OF THE PROVINCE OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF RWANDA
The House of Bishops of the Province of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda (PEER) met in Kigali, Rwanda on the 4th day of September 2007. Acknowledging the significant growth of the missionary outreach initiated by PEER in the USA, the House of Bishops considered nominations for additional missionary Bishops to further the work of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA). The House of Bishops elected three bishops and appointed them to serve in PEER’s missionary jurisdiction in North America committed to extending God’s kingdom. The bishops-elect are the Rev. Terrell Glenn, the Rev. Philip Jones and the Rev. John Miller. The date for the consecrations has been set for the 26th day of January in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ 2008 following the Anglican Mission’s Winter Conference (January 23 – 26, 2008) in Dallas, Texas.
PROVINCE OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF RWANDA
In the AM comment and listing of all the “American Bishops from other jurisdictions”, there is still no mention of the Southern Cone and Bishop Bill Cox.
George Conger has some additional information at Religious Intelligence in Rwanda appoints more bishops for USA.
Almost half of the Church of Rwanda’s bishops will be former priests of the American Episcopal Church by the year’s end, the church announced today.
Three more American bishops will be added to the roster of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMIA), the Church of Rwanda announced on Sept 5; increasing the size of the Rwanda House of Bishops to 16: seven missionary American bishops and nine Rwandan diocesan bishops…
Read his article for some biographical information about the candidates.
Episcopal News Service has this: RWANDA: Three former Episcopal priests elected missionary bishops for North America.
The Bishop of Uyo, which is in south-eastern Nigeria, has said something that is causing a stir:
Sept. 2 (UPI) — Uyo, Sept. 2, 2007 (NAN) The Anglican Bishop of Uyo, Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama, has condemned the activities of homosexuals and lesbians, and described those engaged in them as “insane people”. “It is scaring that any one should be involved in a thing like that and I want to say that they will not escape the wrath of God,” he said. Orama told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) today in Uyo, that the practice, which has worsened over the years, was “unbiblical and against God’s purpose for creating man”. Homosexuals - 2 “Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God’s purpose for man,” the Bishop said. He noted that the Anglican Church in Nigeria had continued to lead the fight against the practice especially in the US where it led the opposition to same sex marriages. “The aim of such fight is to provide a safe place for those who want to remain faithful Anglicans and Biblical Christians,” he explained.(NAN) NS/IFY/ETS
Changing Attitude has issued this: Davis Mac-Iyalla challenges Bishop Orama’s attack on lesbian and gay people.
Fr Jake has commented here: Bp. Orama: “Insane, Satanic Gays Not Fit to Live”.
This story has resulted in unusually strong editorial opinions from two conservative American Anglican blogs:
titusonenine Kendall Harmon: A Statement to be Condemned without Reservation and
Stand Firm Greg Griffith Unfit for the Episcopacy?
The Episcopal Majority has published a paper by the Revd Canon Robert J Brooks which is titled Who Can Expel the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion?
Lisa Fox writes in the Preamble there:
Much virtual and real ink has been spilled about what the Episcopal Church’s constitution does or does not allow. Canon Brooks shifts the focus to the Anglican Consultative Council [ACC], which has a written constitution, unanimously adopted by the provinces of the Anglican Communion. Given that the proposed new structures have Communion-wide ramifications, it makes sense to consider what the constitution of the ACC does and does not allow.
Canon Brooks concludes that only the ACC can expel the Episcopal Church, and it would require a constitutional amendment ratified by the General Synods of two-thirds of the provinces. In other words, 26 of the synods in Anglican Communion provinces would have to vote to expel the Episcopal Church.
The BBC Radio 4 evening rush hour news programme, named PM, carried a major item on this at 5.30 pm tonight. Christopher Landau reports and includes an interview with Bishop Guernsey among others.
Go here, and go forward 31 minutes or so. This link will last only for a week. The item lasts about 7 minutes.
Updated again Monday evening
Mail and Guardian Africa welcomes US gay-bashers
Sunday Nation Split in Anglican faith now inevitable
Jamaica Gleaner Behind the gay issue. This lengthy article reflects an interview with Chris Sugden who was recently in Jamaica.
Update Sunday afternoon
First reports of the Ugandan consecration:
And the BBC Sunday programme has an item. Christopher Landau is in Uganda.
Initial URL is this one, and go forward 32.5 minutes. Better URL tomorrow. Or you can download the podcast.
NEW URL: Listen (3m 54s) and the BBC blurb reads:
Anglican Uganda disagreement
White Anglican archbishops used to travel to Africa to consecrate black bishops. Last week, however, white American Anglicans have gone to Uganda to be consecrated by black Archbishops before returning to lead their congregations in the States.
Does this mark another step in the disintegration of the Anglican Communion? Or is it a welcome diversity of approach for a strife-torn organisation consumed with disagreements about homosexuality and episcopal oversight? Christopher Landau was on the line from Mbarara in the West Ankole Diocese of Uganda.
Updated again Sunday evening
New Vision Gay row: Uganda consecrates American bishop
Daily Monitor Orombi consecrates anti-gay US bishop
And, reverting to the Kenyan consecrations:
The full text of Archbishop Drexel Gomez’s sermon in Nairobi is available here.
Episcopal News Service has UGANDA: Archbishop consecrates former Episcopal priest as bishop
A letter appeared in last week’s paper edition of the Church Times and is now on the web: Wycliffe Hall: doing very nicely, thank you by Richard Turnbull.
The Church Times followed up on the 18 August report in the Independent Wikipedia and the art of censorship by publishing a short item last week, now on the web, authored by me, Jefferts Schori in the dark on Wikipedia edit.
Episcopal News Service picked this up and published Presiding Bishop unaware of Wikipedia edit; allegations discredited.
The church’s preference for commitment over numbers has made it increasingly irrelevant, says David Self in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column.
Thursday’s Guardian carried this article by John Cornwell The importance of doubt which discusses Richard Dawkins.
The simple life is the way to tackle climate change says Mary Grey in the Credo column of The Times.
Christopher Howse writes about Mother Teresa’s crisis of faith in the Daily Telegraph.
Giles Fraser’s Church Times column is headed A real faith leads deep into the desert.