At its recent meeting, the Council of General Synod approved the following initial response to the draft Anglican Communion Covenant and asked that it be forwarded to the Communion offices.
Reference is made in that to the 2007 Canadian response to the Windsor Report.
Updated Friday morning
The Lesbian and Gay Clergy Consultation organised a service today, at which, according to Ruth Gledhill, the Archbishop of Canterbury presided and preached.
Her blog report is headlined Rowan celebrates ‘secret’ gay communion service, although pretty obviously it wasn’t a secret that it was happening.
Her online newspaper story however is headlined Archbishop presides over ‘gay’ Eucharist.
Some other websites are temporarily unavailable, but I will add further links as soon as I am able.
However babyblue has noted in a comment at StandFirm that Martyn Minns preached at an Integrity eucharist in November 2001. A report of that event can be found in this PDF document.
Changing Attitude has this press release: Archbishop of Canterbury meets LGBT members of the Consultation.
And the paper version of The Times has this version of Ruth Gledhill’s story: Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, at ‘secret’ gay ceremony. The scare quotes in the headline have moved over one word!
November 29, 2007 — The following pastoral statement is released to the Church by the Primate and the Metropolitan Archbishops of each of the four ecclesiastical provinces.
A Pastoral Statement from the Primate and Metropolitans of the Anglican Church of Canada
Greetings in the name of the One who was, who is, and who is to come — our Lord Jesus Christ
The Mission Statement of the Anglican Church of Canada opens with these statements: “As a partner in the worldwide Anglican Communion and in the universal Church, we proclaim and celebrate the gospel of Jesus Christ in worship and in action. We value our heritage of Biblical faith, reason, liturgy, tradition, bishops and synods and the rich variety of our life in community.”
It is fundamental to the values and mission of our Church that we welcome and respect freedom of individual conscience and the theological convictions of a diverse membership. Our General Synods have consistently strived to honour every voice as the Church works through contentious and difficult issues before it. This is particularly true in the way the Church has endeavoured to address matters of human sexuality including the blessing of same-sex unions.
The report of the Primate’s Theological Commission commonly known as the St. Michael Report has described this issue as matter of doctrine but not core doctrine. General Synod concurred with this opinion last June. The St. Michael Report also declared that the matter need not be a Communion-breaking issue.
It is in this context that we deplore recent actions on the part of the Primate and General Synod of the Province of the Southern Cone to extend its jurisdiction into Canada through the Essentials Network Conference. This action breaks fellowship within the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Communion.
We affirm the statement unanimously agreed to by the Council of General Synod which appeals to the Archbishop of Canterbury “to make clear that such actions are not a valid expression of Anglicanism.” We too appeal to him in his capacity as one of the instruments of communion and as chair of the Primates’ Meeting to address the very serious issues raised by this intervention.
The actions by the Primate of the Southern Cone are not necessary. Our bishops have made adequate and appropriate provision for the pastoral care and episcopal support of all members of the Anglican Church of Canada, including those who find themselves in conscientious disagreement with the view of their bishop and synod over the blessing of same-sex unions. These provisions, contained in the document known as Shared Episcopal Ministry, were adopted by the House of Bishops and commended by the panel of reference appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The actions by the Primate of the Southern Cone are also inappropriate. They contravene ancient canons of the Church going as far back as the 4th century, as well as statements of the Lambeth Conference, the Windsor report and the Communiqué from the Primates’ Meeting earlier this year. Furthermore these actions violate Canon XVII of the Anglican Church of Canada which states that “No Bishop priest or deacon shall exercise ordained ministry in a diocese without the license or temporary permission of the Diocesan Bishop.”
Any ministry exercised in Canada by those received into the Province of the Southern Cone after voluntarily relinquishing the exercise of their ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada is inappropriate, unwelcome and invalid. We are aware that some bishops have, or will be making statements to that effect in their own dioceses.
In the meantime we rejoice in this season of Advent in which we once again begin that great journey of tracing the steps of our Lord’s most holy life through the liturgy of a new year.
We rejoice in the gift of word and sacrament. We rejoice in the gift of our baptism and in the great gift of the Eucharist. We rejoice in the gift of the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth and empowers us to proclaim the gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ in word and action.
We respect the diversity of opinion in our Church over many issues. We respect the manner in which we take counsel together and honour the intention of all those who even in the midst of struggle desire to remain within the fellowship of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Let us renew our trust in the One who holds us together in the embrace of His love and peace.
We call all Anglicans to a renewed emphasis on mission and prayer for faithful witness in the service of the gospel within our parishes and across the world.
In him whose Advent sets us free.
The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, Archbishop and Primate
The Most Rev. Terry Buckle, Archbishop and Metropolitan of British Columbia and Yukon
The Most Rev. John Clarke, Archbishop and Metropolitan of Rupert’s Land
The Most Rev. Caleb Lawrence, Archbishop and Metropolitan of Ontario
The Most Rev. Bruce Stavert, Archbishop and Metropolitan of Canada
The Church of Ireland has issued this press release:
A Response To The Consultation On Draft Anglican Covenant
Church of Ireland General Synod’s Standing Committee agrees response to Consultation on Draft Anglican Covenant.
The Primates of the Anglican Communion have called on member churches to agree a Covenant which will recognise their common bond. Each church is being given an opportunity to contribute to the process.
The Standing Committee of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland, at its meeting on Tuesday 20th November, agreed a response to the Consultation on a Draft Anglican Covenant. The response includes an alternative form of wording for the Covenant, which the Standing Committee hopes might encapsulate an approach that would be acceptable across the Provinces of the Anglican Communion.
The text of the response is posted on the Church of Ireland website at the request of the Honorary Secretaries, and may be accessed by clicking here [PDF].
An html copy of the proposed covenant text (not including the covering explanation) can be found here.
The introduction is copied here, below the fold.
THE CHURCH OF IRELAND RESPONSE TO THE DRAFT ANGLICAN COVENANT PART ONE
This Church of Ireland response to the Anglican Draft Covenant was prepared by a small drafting group comprised of those who were, or had been, elected members of ACC and those who had been much involved in ecumenical affairs on behalf of the Church of Ireland. The preliminary discussion centred on whether the idea of a Covenant was to be supported, or whether something much simpler was required, such as a common statement. Two previous Church of Ireland responses within the Windsor process had shown somewhat different emphases in relation to this issue. However it soon emerged that there was within the drafting group, a general willingness to support the Covenant concept.
The drafting group decided that rather than make a line by line response to the Draft Covenant, it would use it as a basis for the construction of what it was felt would be an acceptable form of Covenant. A new drafting for a Covenant was then discussed at a full meeting of the drafting group and the Bishops of the Church of Ireland. It received a very positive response with a few minor suggestions which were easily incorporated. The Standing Committee of the General Synod, representative of the clergy and laity of every diocese then passed the response.
The thinking behind the Church of Ireland re-drafting could be listed as threefold:
1. A Covenant should express very clearly the themes of Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence within the Body of Christ;
2. A Covenant should aim, insofar as possible, to be inclusive;
3. Whilst perhaps not solving the present crisis a Covenant should, by emphasising what is implied by mutual responsibility, go some way to prevent similar crises in the future.
The methodology of the redrafting included the following:
In discussion it became clear that, though procedures were felt to be inappropriate within the context of a Covenant, the Anglican Communion would have to put in place procedures, in keeping with the Covenant, to deal with crises which might develop.
The redrafting of the Covenant as attached here is offered in the sincere conviction that the Church of Ireland has a real contribution to make. This response is representative of work undertaken together by those of a wide variety of views in relation to both churchmanship and issues of human sexuality.
It reflects a determination to stay together in the face of the current difficulties. This redrafting is offered as a suggestion as to a possible Covenant which might be agreed on the one hand by those who emphasized the need for a greater sense of communion and all that this implied, and on the other by those who stressed the need for the recognition that provincial autonomy must remain paramount.
Go here to listen to it (40 minutes long). BBC blurb:
Michael Buerk reports on the divide over homosexuality in the worldwide Anglican Church. He talks to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who expresses his feelings of shame over homophobia.
Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream gave an address ‘An International Overview’ [of the Anglican Communion] at the Anglican Network in Canada conference, Burlington, Ontario, 23 November 2007.
You can read his remarks in full here (PDF file). He makes the following assumption:
…There are currently three groups of people in the current debate.
Some think that the approach of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada is the way ahead for the Anglican Communion. These would include the Archbishops of Wales and Scotland, and since they are welcoming Gene Robinson to visit, the Primates of Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia and Melanesia.
Some do not agree with The Episcopal Church in its teachings on doctrine and ethics. Bishop Jonathan Gledhill of Lichfield said he believed that 95% of the Anglican Communion would hold this view.
Of the second group, some no longer trust the Archbishop of Canterbury to deal adequately with the problem. Others still trust that the Archbishop of Canterbury is willing to address the problem as one charged with contending for the faith once delivered to the saints…
See also his earlier article in Evangelicals Now (September 2007) Not schism but revolution which you can read here.
Graham Kings of Fulcrum has commented on these remarks, you can read his comments in full here (comment timed at 11.49 on 28 November), but the key point made is this:
… It seems clear from the rest of the address that Chris Sugden aligns himself (and Anglican Mainstream as a whole?) with the second group, which presumably also would include CANA, AMiA, Anglican Communion Network and Common Cause.
Fulcrum, the Anglican Communion Institute and Covenant would be part of group three.
This ‘no longer trusting in the Archbishop of Canterbury’ matches Chris Sugden’s earlier article, ‘Not Schism but Revolution’, in Evangelicals Now (September 2007), where he stated, after a quotation from Bishop Bob Duncan:
In other words, since the Archbishop of Canterbury has not provided for the safe oversight of the orthodox in the United States, he has forfeited his role as the one who gathers the Communion.
The irony of this, is that the Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, Greg Venables, has been at pains to point out that he consulted with the Archbishop of Canterbury in September concerning the current events. At least he continues, it seems, to treat the Archbishop of Canterbury as one ‘who gathers the Communion’.
The consequential question resulting from Chris Sugden’s view concerning the Archbishop of Canterbury is: ‘Then who does gather the Communion?’ His view leaves a vacuum. It also means that the Primates’ Meeting can’t be gathered, since Canterbury presides at those meetings. It also means the Lambeth Conference can’t meet. Of the Four Instruments of Communion, that leaves only the Anglican Consultative Council and that is not seen as respresentative by him.
The Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council and the Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have issued a joint statement.
This statement has been issued with a press release titled Churches comment on Government’s incitement to hatred plans which starts:
The Church of England and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have commented on the Government’s proposed amendment to the Public Order Act 1986 to create a new offence of incitement to hatred on grounds of sexual orientation….
Scroll down from the press release to read the full text of the Memorandum to the Public Bill Committee on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill.
Riazat Butt who is the Religious Affairs correspondent at the Guardian wrote a column for the Church of England Newspaper which has now appeared on Religious Intelligence.
…Talking is something that Anglicans are good at. But I kind of wish they’d do something else. For at least four years the threat of a schism has been hanging over the communion and people write about walking apart and falling off fences but the key word here is threat. Unless I’m deaf I’ve not heard the crack of a rupture so it leaves me thinking that this much-hyped schism, which by all accounts should have happened months ago, is the longest and slowest break-up in history…
GLOBAL ANGLICANS SHARE CALL TO AN INCLUSIVE GOSPEL VISION AND MISSION
Inclusive Church supporters are drenched in grace and ready to embrace “costly unity”
Last week, 180 people gathered in Derbyshire, England for “Drenched in Grace”, Inclusive Church’s first residential conference.
We met as Anglicans, committed to our church. We met as evangelicals and charismatics, as catholics, liberals and conservatives. We met at the Lord’s table - the unifying core of the conference. We reclaimed with confidence the orthodoxy of the inclusive Gospel we celebrate in the Anglican Communion.
We offered a model of engagement to the Communion at large. In our disagreements we acknowledged the primacy of God’s love in which we are all held together, but we did not keep silent about our differences.
Dr Jenny Te Paa (St John’s College, Auckland NZ) opened the conference. In a strong speech, Te Paa reminded us “how pervasive the reach of enmity has become amongst us.” She urged us “not so much to focus too intently and singularly on the bad behaviour of the few, but rather to focus anew on the very good behaviour of the many.”
Revd Dr Sharon Moughtin-Mumby in her talk “Out of the Silence” said “I believe it is vital for us to …. refuse to skip over the difficult and challenging or awkward passages of the Bible, just as in Inclusive Church we are committed to refusing to skip over those who can be made to feel like the difficult, challenging or awkward members of the people of God.”
Revd Dr Louis Weil (Berkeley, California) spoke about the central place baptism holds in our ecclesial understanding. Speaking of the sacraments of baptism and communion, he said “our obsession with validity has weakened the boldness of the sacramental signs. This creates a low level of expectation and weakens our understanding of mission.” We are in communion with one another by God’s grace, not by any human action. “I am in communion with Peter Akinola (the Archbishop of Nigeria)” he said. “I will remain in communion with Peter Akinola until we are both on the other side.”
Canon Lucy Winkett (St Paul’s Cathedral) spoke of the need to “forge relationships on the anvil of profound disagreement.” “The worry that we have as Anglicans is that our faith can be so driven by fear that our liturgy is tedious and our public pronouncements shrill and irrelevant.” In a powerful and wide ranging address she called for engagement with others across the theological spectrum.
Mark Russell, the Chief Executive of Church Army, sent us out into the world, calling passionately for the church to unite. “Unity is not saying that we will always agree with each other, unity is a deeper spiritual concept. Unity allows me to love my brothers and sisters even when I don’t always agree with them. Love allows me to hold difference and diversity.” He challenged us to “go from here, with a renewed vision to pursue a costly unity, and a vision to bring a gospel of hope to all.”
Many present are increasingly alienated and distanced from the church which they see as home. They are being rendered spiritually homeless. A common question was - why are our episcopal friends, who value and support classical Anglican comprehensiveness, so silent? Why do they, with few exceptions, leave the field clear to those who continually seek to undermine the Communion and deny its profound unity?
We have a Gospel to proclaim in a world disenchanted by the actions of those who proclaim a message which excludes. We invite them to meet with us, so that we can together move into the world with a vision of costly unity and hope for all in Jesus Christ.
Updated Monday morning
The Archbishop of Canterbury has given an interview to a British Muslim magazine, Emel.
The Sunday Times has a news report on this, US is‘worst’ imperialist: archbishop by Abul Taher and has also published the full text of the interview as a PDF file, which you can read here. The interview is more balanced than the newspaper report of it.
Other British newspapers reported on this:
Stephen Bates Guardian Archbishop thrown into row over US Middle East policy
Auslan Cramb Daily Telegraph Archbishop’s assault on US foreign policy
And the BBC reported it as Archbishop attacks ‘violent’ US
Giles Fraser writes from Pittsburgh for the Church Times that I believe the new puritans will fail.
Paul Woolley writes for The Times about how Religion holds its own in the forum of public debate.
Christopher Howse explains in the Daily Telegraph Why Gladstone had God up his sleeve.
Christopher Rowland writes in the Guardian about Blake’s creative engagement with the Bible.
The full text of the concluding keynote address by Mark Russell, Chief Executive of the Church Army, can now be found at Go into the world.
And the welcoming remarks by Giles Goddard at the conference opening can be found here.
For the other talks, see entries below.
Updated Friday evening
TA readers will recall the recent letter from the UK supporting Bishop Duncan.
Pat Ashworth in the Church Times reports that The Catholic Group on the General Synod has initiated a letter of support for the Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt Revd Jack Iker.
The full list of names is
not yet available but the report says that 34 of the 51 names are common to the earlier letter.
Thr full text and list of signatures is now available on the Fort Worth site here.
And is reproduced below the fold.
Church of England leaders send letter of support to Bishop Iker
signers are members of the Church of England General Synod and leaders of Forward in Faith/United Kingdom
The letter was issued on Nov. 20, 2007
Dear Bishop Jack,
We write to assure you of our support and prayers in the face of the letter you have received recently from Presiding Bishop Schori.
We fully applaud the stand you have taken for scriptural and traditional Faith and Order, the departure from which of The Episcopal Church (TEC) has been deeply damaging and divisive within the Anglican Communion, and in our relationships with major ecumenical partners. The leadership of TEC’s use of litigation against faithful congregations and clergy is nothing short of a scandal, recalling St. Paul’s strictures about the letter of the law which kills, in contrast to the Spirit of God which gives life and freedom. Bishop Peter Forster of Chester was quite right when he said last week that the use of legal procedures was not an appropriate way to address this kind of situation.
We are delighted by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement in response to Bishop John Howe of Central Florida that any diocese compliant with Windsor remained in communion with the See of Canterbury and the mainstream of the Anglican Communion, and trust that you and your diocese will be encouraged thereby.
We hope and pray that you, your clergy and people will find an appropriate way to remain true to the faith and order of the universal Church within the fellowship of the Anglican Communion. We look to the Church of England to give a lead in modelling better ways of handling disagreement to TEC and the rest of the Communion.
Signed by the following members of General Synod (dioceses in brackets)
Simon Killwick (Manchester)
Eric Armitstead (Bath & Wells)
Jonathan Baker (Oxford)
Barry Barnes (Southwark)
Anneliese Barrell (Exeter)
Paul Benfield (Blackburn)
Tom Benyon (Oxford)
Paul Boyd-Lee (Salisbury)
Mike Burbeck (Salisbury)
Graeme Buttery (Durham)
Graham Campbell (Chester)
Nigel Chetwood (Gloucester)
John Cook (London)
Martin Dales (York)
Ian Dobbie (Rochester)
Paul Farthing (Lichfield)
Sarah Finch (London)
Emma Forward (Exeter)
Vivienne Goddard (Blackburn)
Ian Gooding (Derby)
John Hanks (Oxford)
Jamie Houghton (Chichester)
David Houlding (London)
Peter LeRoy (Bath & Wells)
Angus MacLeay (Rochester)
Joanna Monkton (Lichfield)
Gill Morrison (Peterborough)
Rob Munro (Chester)
Mary Nagel (Chichester)
Gerald O’Brien (Rochester)
Ian O’Hara (Coventry)
David Mills (Carlisle)
Elizabeth Paver (Sheffield)
Paul Perkin (Southwark)
Sam Philpott (Exeter)
John Pope (Chichester)
Andrew Presland (Peterborough)
Colin Randall (Carlisle)
Jonathan Redden (Sheffield)
Clive Scowen (London)
Penny Stranack (Truro)
Chik Kaw Tan (Lichfield)
Fr. Thomas Seville, CR (Religious Communities)
Mark Sowerby (Ripon & Leeds)
Mike Streeter (Chichester)
Chris Sugden (Oxford)
Carol Ticehurst (Lincoln)
David Waller (Chelmsford)
Glyn Webster (York)
Anne Williams (Durham)
Ruth Whitworth (Ripon & Leeds)
Bishop of Richborough
Bishop of Ebbsfleet
and leading members of Forward in Faith
Stephen Parkinson (Director)
Geoffrey Kirk (National Secretary)
Anne Williams (Vice-Chair; also on General Synod as above)
Nicholas Turner (Editor, New Directions)
Len Black (Forward in Faith, Scotland)
See here for earlier report.
Pat Ashworth has more information in the Church Times in Dr Tutu is ‘ashamed’ of his ‘homophobic’ Communion.
…Dr Tutu told Lord Carey that he was ashamed of Anglicanism as long ago as the Lambeth Conference of 1998, over which Lord Carey presided as Archbishop of Canterbury. Lord Carey is heard drawing a distinction between tolerance and approval of homosexuality — in a manner that the programme’s producer, David Coomes, described on Tuesday as “nuanced”. “There was a report in The Sunday Telegraph saying Lord Carey and Tutu were at odds. There’s an element of truth in that, but not the total truth,” he said.
Whereas Dr Tutu sees the Bible as “a useful guide rather than a repository of unqualified truth”, says Michael Buerk, conservatives such as Stephen Green regard it as “divinely inspired to such an extent that he would like to see its strictures incorporated into British law”.
Ann Widdecombe, he explains, “thinks Tutu is blurring all the edges . . . between the sinner and the sin, between orientation and action — above all, between right and wrong”; and that “Tutu’s idea of what Christ is about is too simple by half.” Bishop Duncan “appears to think Tutu, now 76, has lost it — if he ever had it”, says Mr Buerk…
From Calvary to Lambeth is broadcast on Radio 4 on Tuesday 27 November at 8 p.m., and repeated on Sunday 2 December at 5 p.m.
Here are links to audio recordings of two of today’s keynote talks.
Both of these presentations were outstanding and I strongly recommend listening to it all.
Louis Weil on When Signs Signify
Lucy Winkett on Our sound is our wound
(Text versions of these will also be available later.)
Meanwhile the full text of two other talks are already available:
Each of us was given grace: an address by Dr Jenny Plane Te Paa (audio linked here previously).
Out of the silence: an address by the Revd Dr Sharon Moughtin-Mumby
(Dr Moughtin-Mumby was unable to be present but her address was read by the Revd Canon Giles Goddard, chair of Inclusive Church.)
From the Anglican Communion Office:
ACC/Primates Consultation following the New Orleans meeting of the TEC House of Bishops
The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to Anglican Communion Primates and members of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) with a summary of their individual responses to the outcome of September House of Bishops meeting of the Episcopal Church (USA). He made it clear that he was not at this stage advancing his own interpretation of these responses.
He would include his own reflections in his (annual) Advent Letter to the Primates in the coming weeks .
A summary of responses to the consultation on the House of Bishops’ response to the request for certain clarifications in respect of the Windsor Process, and the subsequent report of the Joint Standing Committe of the Primates and the ACC, is posted here.
The Report is also available as a PDF Document here.
The InclusiveChurch conference Drenched in Grace opened with a keynote speech by Jenny Te Paa.
Jenny Te Paa condemns “the reach of enmity” among Anglicans The first Inclusive Church conference opened today at the Hayes Conference Centre in Derbyshire, England with an address by Dr Jenny Plane Te Paa. In a strong speech, Te Paa reminded us “how pervasive the reach of enmity has become amongst us.” She urged us “not to notice the bad behaviour of the few, but the good behaviour of the many.” Calling to mind the great humanitarian needs of the world, Te Paa lamented our obsession with drawing lines that exclude, which is distracting us from the enormous suffering so many people face. We must not “fret and fight” while people are literally dying.
Te Paa is a Principal of the College of St John the Evangelist in Auckland, New Zealand, was a member of the 2003 Lambeth Commission, and assisted in the St Augustine’s Seminar responsible for planning the detailed content for the forthcoming Lambeth Conference 2008.
The Revd Canon Giles Goddard, chair of Inclusive Church, said, “We are not a pressure group of the like-minded.” He added, “We are ordinary Anglicans who love our church, and we are deeply concerned by the way in which the effort to exclude is overtaking the calling to live the Gospel.”
180 people have gathered here at a time in which many people are concerned that the generous tolerance which has characterized Anglicanism is under serious threat from those who wish to divide the church. The conference includes participants from all parts of Great Britain and throughout the Anglican Communion.
Information for Editors: IC is a growing network of Anglicans from across the Anglican Communion working to celebrate the traditional diversity of Anglicanism.
For further information contact Revd Canon Giles Goddard - 07762 373 674 or
Revd. Philip Chester - 07515 815710
Savi Hensman has written a little more about the session on the IC blog at Each of us was given grace.
And you can listen to the entire speech by going to Audio from Jenny Te Paa address.
Reports from Canada about the Southern Cone are piling up:
Bishop gives Anglicans new option National Post
The Anglican Network in Canada is organising a conference shortly
And the Anglican Journal reports that Bishop protests unauthorized ordinations.
Michael Valpy has ‘Full-blown schism’ in church, Anglican bishop says in the Toronto Globe and Mail
Updated again Wednesday evening
Several reports on the Virginia lawsuit:
Trial Begins in Clash Over Va. Church Property by Michelle Boorstein in the Washington Post
Former Episcopal leaders reminded of vows by Julia Duin in the Washington Times
Judge Overrules Objections During Virginia Testimony by Elizabeth Hudgins in the Living Church
Episcopal trial weighs concept of division Washington Times
Phase 1 of Church Property Trial Ends, 1st Amendment Issues Next Falls Church News-Press
Episcopal suit testimony ends Washington Times
Trial Portion of Virginia Case Ends Early Living Church
A report from California:
Episcopal leader seeks to mend church rift by Rebecca Trounson in the Los Angeles Times
A further report on the Fort Worth convention:
Fort Worth Passes Major Changes at Convention by Steve Waring in the Living Church
And another lawsuit in Georgia:
Diocese files petition to regain Christ Church, Savannah property in Episcopal News Service
Andrew Brown has written on comment is free that Rowan Williams and the Church of England can no longer remain aloof from convulsions threatening to tear the Anglican communion apart.
Read Falling off the fence.
Jonathan Petre reports in the Daily Telegraph Dr Rowan Williams to target pro-gay bishops which is not the action that Andrew had in mind. Nor what Desmond Tutu thinks, see Williams should tackle Anglican homophobia, says Desmond Tutu on Ekklesia.
Andrew’s link to Rowan’s 1998 Address at Lambeth Plenary on making moral decisions is a useful reminder.
Colin Coward asks Is the Archbishop of Canterbury proposing to withhold Lambeth invitations from English bishops?
BBC Radio 4 will broadcast a programme From Calvary To Lambeth on Tuesday 27 November at 8.00 pm. Here’s the blurb:
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, once labelled “a rabble-rouser for peace”, gives vent to his feelings of shame for a worldwide Church which – as he sees it – is homophobic and “obsessed” with human sexuality. This is tragic, he says “in the context of a world suffering from war, poverty and disease”. God must be weeping, he says, to see a Church with priorities so different from those of its Founder who first and foremost loved, welcomed and embraced all humanity.
His critics – including former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, MP Ann Widdecombe, and the US conservative Bishop, Robert Duncan – stand up for a Church working worldwide on behalf of the poor and deprived, and accuse Desmond Tutu of engaging in caricature, special pleading and false theology. Michael Buerk reports.
News reports so far:
Sunday Telegraph Jonathan Wynne-Jones Carey and Tutu wade into conflict over gays
The Diocese of Niagara has joined the growing ranks of Canadian dioceses that have voted in favour of same-sex blessings.
The Anglican Journal has the full story in Niagara diocese approves blessings for gay couples; bishop assents.
The southern Ontario diocese of Niagara, meeting at its annual synod, on Nov. 17 voted to allow civilly-married gay couples, “where at least one party is baptized,” to receive a church blessing.
Bishop Ralph Spence, who had refused to implement a similar vote three years ago, this time gave his assent, making Niagara the third diocese since the June General Synod convention to accept same-sex blessings.
Of the 294 clergy and lay delegates, 239 voted yes, 53 said no and two abstained. In 2003, out of 319 delegates, 213 voted yes and 106 said no.
“The question has been asked, ‘Where do we go from here?’ Much consultation will take place … When and how this will be implemented will be dealt with in the days that lie ahead. We are aware of the vote’s ramifications,” said Bishop Spence, who also said he has been in consultation in the past week with Lambeth Palace (residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury), the Canadian primate (Archbishop Fred Hiltz) and his successor, Bishop Michael Bird, who takes office on March 1. Bishop Spence declined to say whom he had spoken with at Lambeth Palace.
The dioceses of Ottawa and Montreal recently passed similar motions and their bishops have said they will consult widely before deciding whether to implement the decisions. (The Vancouver-based diocese of New Westminster has offered blessings since 2002.) Civil marriage has been legal for homosexual couples since 2003…
The bishops issued this pastoral letter following the synod.
The Canadian Council of General Synod is meeting this weekend. It has issued this statement:
A Statement to the Church From the Council of General Synod
November 16, 2007
The Council of General Synod, meeting in Mississauga, Ontario, from November 16th - 18th 2007, has received with concern the news that Bishop Donald Harvey has voluntarily relinquished, effective immediately, the exercise of ordained ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada, and intends to be received into the Province of the Southern Cone (in South America). Bishop Harvey, retired bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, has been a valued member of our church, and his decision is a source of sadness.
The Anglican Church of Canada welcomes and respects freedom of individual conscience and the theological convictions of its diverse membership. Our General Synods have consistently sought to honour every voice as we work patiently through contentious and difficult issues before our church. Our bishops have made adequate and appropriate provision for the pastoral care and episcopal support of all Canadian Anglicans. We value and respect the diversity of the worldwide Anglican Communion and have expressed our commitment to its ongoing life, even as we also ask for respect and understanding of our own.
To this end we wish to make clear that interventions in the life of our church, such as ordinations or other episcopal acts by any other jurisdictions, are inappropriate and unwelcome. In particular, we cannot recognize the legitimacy of recent actions by the Province of the Southern Cone in purporting to extend its jurisdiction beyond its own borders. We call upon the Archbishop of Canterbury to make clear that such actions are not a valid expression of Anglicanism and are in contravention of the ancient and continuing traditions of the Church. They aggravate the current tensions in the Anglican Communion.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for the world, and our primary task as Christians is to make this Gospel known through action and word. We strongly support our Primate’s view that the Church in Canada and throughout the world should make Christ and His mission its central focus. We therefore call upon all our members, lay and ordained, to commit themselves to this priority, and to respect the structures and authority of the Church.
We ask your prayers for our continued fellowship in the Spirit and our unity in the bond of peace.
The Anglican Journal has a report, Bishop leaves Canadian church for South American province:
The retired bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, Don Harvey, has left the Anglican Church of Canada to become a bishop in the South American province of the Southern Cone, a decision that the primate of the Canadian church acknowledged would pose “complications” for the already fragile unity within the local church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Bishop Harvey, who has been outspoken in his opposition to what he considers the Canadian Anglican church’s liberal stance on homosexuality, particularly the blessing of same-gender unions, announced his departure more than a week before he was to lead a meeting in Burlington, Ont. to discuss the future of conservative Anglicans in the church…
The Anglican Network in Canada had this description of the event: Anglican Network in Canada bishop received into Southern Cone.
The Anglican Journal has a further report, Council expresses sadness over bishop’s departure.
Andrew Linzey had an article in The Times yesterday about electing bishops. In England. See Listen to the voice of the people.
Giles Fraser wrote in the Church Times yesterday about life in California. See California: where the giving is cheerful.
Julia Neuberger writes in the Guardian today about multifaith charity work. Read Face to Faith.
Christopher Howse writes in today’s Daily Telegraph about The strange rites of Coronation.
Ekklesia has an article by Colin Morris titled Violence, the media and redemption.
Updated Saturday evening
Pat Ashworth reports in today’s Church Times Southern Cone offers haven to disaffected US dioceses.
George Conger had New haven for US dioceses on offer in the Church of England Newspaper.
The Diocese of San Joaquin has published a Pastoral Letter to be Read in All Churches of the Diocese of San Joaquin this Sunday or the following Sunday. This reports on the offer made by the Southern Cone and then says:
Should the second reading of the Constitutional changes receive the necessary two thirds of each order voting affirmatively next month, this will mean that the Diocese is free to accept the invitation of the Province of the Southern Cone. This enables us: 1) to receive the protection contemplated by the Primates in Dar Es Salaam that was originally agreed to by the Presiding bishop, but later rejected by the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church; 2) to remain a diocese with full membership within the Anglican communion where the orders of our clergy are recognized; and, 3) to assure that we remain within the Anglican Communion through a Province in full communion with the See of Canterbury. According to well-informed sources, the Archbishop of Canterbury has been fully informed of the invitation of the Province of the Southern Cone and described it as a “sensible way forward.” Indeed, it is the sensible way forward and a decision by the Diocese to move in this direction is by no means irrevocable as was seen during the 1860’s when the Dioceses of the Southern States left the Episcopal Church and at the conclusion of the Civil War returned to the Episcopal Church without punitive action. As the Southern Cone invitation makes clear, the Diocese may return to full communion with the Episcopal Church when circumstances change and the Episcopal Church repents and adheres to the theological, moral and pastoral norms of the Anglican Communion, and when effective and acceptable alternative primatial oversight becomes available.
Read the whole document in pdf format here.
Concerning this matter of “well-informed sources” Andrew Brown has today commented in the Church Times press column as follows:
…The Times followed it up four days later with a version that added two things. The first was a claim that the Archbishop of Canterbury thought this “a sensible way forward”. This was not attributed, though it was in quotes as direct speech: when I rang Lambeth Palace, the spokesman had no idea when or even why the Archbishop might have said any such thing. Perhaps it was in his secret unity talks with the Pope…
The Diocese of Fort Worth voted on its proposed constitutional changes today. Episcopal News Service has a report: Fort Worth convention approves first reading of constitutional changes:
The 25th annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth November 17 gave the first of two approvals needed to amend its constitution and remove accession to the Constitution and Canons of General Convention, as well as several canonical amendments that eliminate mention of the Episcopal Church.
Speaking in a news conference following the convention’s conclusion, Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker said the decisions “marked a firm resolve about moving forward together, recognizing that there are parts that are not fully behind the path we’ve chosen, but the debate is always characterized by respect and honesty.”
“It’s important to note that the decisions made today are preliminary decisions that need to be ratified by another convention,” he added.
Meeting at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas, the convention also thanked the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone for its invitation offering the diocese membership “on an emergency and pastoral basis.” Iker and the diocesan Standing Committee are to prepare a report on “the constitutional and canonical implications and means of accepting that invitation.” Attending the convention was Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia in the Southern Cone.
The convention noted that the diocese wishes “to remain within the family of the Anglican Communion while dissociating itself from the moral, theological, and disciplinary innovations of the Episcopal Church…”
titusonenine has more detailed voting figures.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has contributed to the Anglican Communion Listening Process.
The Church Times has an exclusive report by Bill Bowder at Acceptance helps gays, psychiatrists inform Anglicans.
THE Royal College of Psychiatrists has challenged Anglican bishops to support gay clergy and laity as an example to parents struggling to come to terms with having gay or lesbian children.
“The Church has a wonderful opportunity to lead rather than to be dragged along kicking and screaming. Christianity is such an inclusive religion,” said Professor Michael King, an executive committee member of the College’s special-interest group of 200 to 300 psychiatrists who work with lesbians, gay men, and bisexual and transsexual people.
His committee has submitted a report to the Church’s Listening Exercise on Human Sexuality, to inform a study guide for next year’s Lambeth Conference.
The report, endorsed by the full College “from the President down”, said that there were no scientific or rational grounds for treating lesbian, gay, and bisexual people differently, Professor King said on Monday.
The full text of the resolution passed by the Provincial Synod of the Southern Cone of America concerning the welcoming of American Episcopal dioceses can be found here.
A resolution is to be put to the Fort Worth Diocesan Convention as follows:
A Response to the Invitation of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone
Whereas, it is the resolve of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth to remain within the family of the Anglican Communion while dissociating itself from the moral, theological, and disciplinary innovations of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America;
And whereas, the Synod of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, meeting Nov. 5-7, 2007, voted to “welcome into membership of our Province on an emergency and pastoral basis” those dioceses of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America who share this resolve;
Therefore, be it resolved, that the 25th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth extend its sincere thanks to the Synod of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, and to its Primate, the Most Reverend Gregory J. Venables, for the generous and fraternal invitation to join their Province;
And, be it further resolved, that the Bishop and Standing Committee prepare a report for this diocese on the constitutional and canonical implications and means of accepting this invitation.
Stephen Bates has written an article with this title for New Humanist.
After seven years on the faith front lines, Guardian religious affairs correspondent Stephen Bates is glad to be back on civvy street.
Here’s a sample:
…The presenting issue, of course, for what has become a struggle for power and control not only of the Church of England but throughout the worldwide Anglican communion, is homosexuality and the church’s attitude towards gays. Outsiders may have accepted civil partnerships, but the established church is tearing itself apart on the issue with quite extraordinary bitterness and rancour. Only a week or so ago, a US blogger was remarking charitably that it wasn’t worth expending a bullet on the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, who is the first woman to lead a major Christian denomination. The blogger, incidentally, was herself a woman…
Read the whole article.
Answers to written Questions have been posted on the Church of England website.
See press release ‘Virtual’ questions receive answers.
The original RTF file is here.
TA has provided an html copy of the file here.
The Bishop of Fort Worth has replied to the Presiding Bishop’s recent letter to him.
You can read his reply here.
Episcopal News Service has a detailed report by Jan Nunley, Fort Worth bishop responds to warning letter from Jefferts Schori which sets out the reasons for sending him the earlier letter:
Fort Worth’s diocesan convention meets November 16-17 to consider the first reading of a constitutional amendment that would remove accession to the Constitution and Canons of General Convention, as well as several canonical amendments that eliminate mention of the Episcopal Church.
Iker has publicly endorsed the changes and declared his intention to separate the Fort Worth diocese from the Episcopal Church.
In an October 20, 2007 address to the Forward in Faith International Assembly in London, a recording of which is available on the group’s website, Iker stated that the three Forward in Faith dioceses — Fort Worth, San Joaquin, and Quincy — intend to leave the Episcopal Church by 2009.
“There are three Forward in Faith dioceses in the United States, and the three bishops of those dioceses have come to a common conclusion that we have no future in the Episcopal Church,” Iker reported to the London meeting. “Our conventions in those three dioceses, Fort Worth, Quincy, and San Joaquin, will be taking constitutional action to separate officially from TEC. Because it is a constitutional change, it must be passed at two successive annual conventions.”
On the recording, Iker continued: “…Our plan is not only to disassociate, then, from the Episcopal Church, but to officially, constitutionally re-affiliate with an existing orthodox province of the communion that does not ordain women to the priesthood. These conversations are very far along but cannot be announced until the province that is considering our appeal has made their final decision public.”
There is also a Living Church report, Bishop Iker: Presiding Bishop’s Letter ‘Highly Inappropriate’.
The Washington Times has an article about Virginia: Episcopal dispute hinges on 1860s law by Julia Duin.
The largest property dispute in the history of the Episcopal Church, brought on by divisions over a homosexual bishop, is likely to turn on a Civil War-era Virginia law passed to govern churches splitting during disputes over slavery and secession.
The Rocky Mountain News has an article about Colorado: Diocese turns up heat in lawsuit over schism by Jean Torkelson.
The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado moved Friday to sue individual parishioners who support the breakaway congregation at Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish in Colorado Springs, according to documents filed in El Paso District Court.
The petition asks the court to add 18 people to the diocese’s existing countersuit, which is seeking monetary damages as well as repossession of the church.
The targeted members include everyone on the parish’s governing board as well as the church’s main spokesman, Alan Crippen, and its rector of 20 years, the Rev. Don Armstrong.
We haven’t previously linked to reports of other recent developments in this case. Here are some backfile items:
Living Church Forensic Audit Faults Diocese in Armstrong Investigation
Press releases from the Diocese of Colorado about all this are here.
Here is another article about Virginia, from the Richmond Times-Dispatch Episcopal property case goes to trial today.
The following article by Harold Lewis appears in the parish magazine of Calvary Church, Pittsburgh, go here for PDF version.
The New Confederacy
In alleging that there was no canonical impediment to the recent actions of diocesan convention, namely the vote to remove the Diocese of Pittsburgh from the Episcopal Church, Bishop Duncan made an appeal to historical precedent. He stated that in 1862, a group of dioceses located in the Confederate states withdrew from the Episcopal Church but that their action did not prompt the Episcopal Church to enact a canon asserting that such an action was illegal. In other words, the bishop interpreted the church’s silence as assent, thereby giving carte blanche to all dioceses, in perpetuity, to separate themselves from TEC, despite their constitutional obligation to remain in communion with it. The bishop’s assertion was problematic on two levels. First, it was a mark of gross insensitivity on his part to hold up the example of the Confederate Episcopal Church, which came into being because it believed it could no longer share a church with those [i.e. Northerners] whose attack on slavery was “treason to the Southern cause.” Moreover, as the Confederate House of Bishops also stated, the Confederate Church believed that the institution of slavery was one of “those sacred relations which God has created, and which man cannot, consistently with Christianity, annul.” Secondly, the bishop’s historical recollection was selective. In point of fact, The Episcopal Church, it can be said, never really recognized the formation of the Confederate Church. When the roll was called at the General Convention of 1862, and the Southern dioceses did not respond, they were simply marked absent. When the Convention convened three years later, following the end of the Civil War, the dioceses representing the defeated Southern states had returned, contrite. Their attendance was duly noted, and the Church saw no need to be punitive. (This issue is discussed in some detail in my book, Yet With a Steady Beat: The African American Struggle for Recognition in the Episcopal Church.)
As I reflected on the bishop’s comments, I realized that from his theological point of view, the Confederacy may well be an apt analogy for the so-called orthodox movement in the Episcopal Church. Like the Confederacy, it stands for a different set of values than those of TEC. Progressives, like the Northerners, are considered traitors —- in this case to the cause of the Gospel. Moreover, we have been accused of doing to the church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality what the Northerners did to slavery, that is, annul a sacred relationship created by God. But the similarity is most evident in the fact that just as the Confederate Church maintained that they could no longer exist under the same roof as TEC, so has the conservative element in the Diocese declared that the Episcopal Church is an unfit cohabitant for them in the house of God. Separation from us, and realignment with another province of Anglicanism deemed to be, in the words of the Epistle to the Ephesians, “without spot, or wrinkle or any such thing,” is, for the “conserving church,” the only recourse.
Perhaps the most painful experience at Convention was listening to the laundry list of the theological deficiencies purportedly in evidence throughout the liberal wing of the church. They were summarized at a pre-Convention hearing led by Jonathan Millard, the rector of Ascension, Oakland. According to Fr. Millard, there is, in TEC, in addition to erroneous teaching and practice regarding human sexuality, confusion about who God is, a failure of bishops to defend the faith, and a lack of clear teaching about Christ’s divinity and about salvation and sin. A drift towards universalism; a loss of confidence in the Gospel as Good News for all; a preoccupation with social justice (as if justice were not a Biblical concept); contempt for the Bible’s authority, and a lack of respect for truth or unity are other shortcomings. While “evidence” for the existence of such opinions can be culled from various isolated sources, it is as preposterous as it is presumptuous to suggest that the entire church can be tarred by that brush. But tarred it has —- and our alleged failures are held up as the reasons for our being unfit to share Word and Sacrament with those who believe that they and they alone possess and practice the faith once delivered to the saints.
In his Convention address, Bishop Duncan observed that since the vote on Resolution One was but the first of the two votes required to effect a constitutional change, nothing has changed. I beg to differ. For the foreseeable future, the people of the Diocese of Pittsburgh are living in a situation not unlike that of a couple who have decided to divorce, but who for whatever set of reasons, still share a residence. But it is actually worse than that. For whereas some couples may actually recognize that their marriage has failed but have no animosity toward each other, the conservative party sees itself as the wronged party in the marriage who has informed the progressive party in this Diocese that they have sullied the marriage because we follow a different Gospel and a different Lord.
If indeed the Episcopalians seeking realignment can be seen as the new Confederacy, we can take some comfort in the knowledge that the old Confederacy and the church that it spawned were short-lived. Already there is dissension in the ranks. In this diocese, although we could not tell by their behavior at Convention, there are several clergy and lay leaders from conserving” parishes who have indicated to the bishop that when push comes to shove, they will not join ranks with the Realigners, and will instead remain in the Episcopal Church. Beyond the bounds of the Diocese, other Realigners are seeking different paths. The bishop of Fort Worth, for example, whose diocese is a member of the Network, has indicated that his diocese will only realign with a province which does not recognize the ordination of women. One religious body which is a member of the newly formed group called Common Cause is reportedly considering a petition to the Holy See. Such, historically, has been the fate of religious organizations formed in protest against other religious organizations.
The memory of the words and the presence of Archbishop Tutu buoyed me during the cheerless hours spent at diocesan convention. His embracing message of inclusivity, based on his interpretation of John 12:32, “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself,” rang in my ears. Despite a Biblical theology which trumpets a penchant for believing in “the plain meaning of Scripture,” this passage seems to elude our conservative brethren, who by their actions continually suggest that the Lord’s intention was to bring only some to himself. Here at Shady and Walnut, in an effort to be faithful to our Lord, will continue to endeavor to welcome all in the Name of Christ.
Giles Fraser writes in today’s Guardian that Anglicanism, a house divided against itself, can’t survive its civil war in one piece. Read Face to Faith.
And in the Church Times he writes about Why equality belongs with freedom.
Christopher Howse in his Daily Telegraph column has Sacred Mysteries: Evidence for the human soul.
David Cooper wrote in The Times yesterday that We need to remember the value of lives of service.
Rebecca Fowler had a report in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph : Women priests and their continuing battle.
The Guardian has a leader about the Anglican Communion: Beyond compromise:
…Always a loose and unwieldy alliance, the communion has survived since the age of empire only because of the effective acceptance that each church was sovereign in its own land. With the initial encouragement of the religious right in America, however, conservative elements of the communion are trying to impose an infeasible doctrinal unity. Dr Williams has responded to this pressure by seeking compromises. His difficulty is that, as the head of such a loose confederation, he does not have the power to make deals stick, as the freewheeling action of the conservatives is showing.
Dr Williams is a liberal who is instinctively supportive of gay people. His desire to hold the communion together, however, has already led him to support a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops and to suggest that Anglican churches should not recognise same-sex unions through public rites. These concessions have not, however, checked the communion’s unravelling. The fence on which Dr Williams has been sitting has collapsed. It is time for him to preach what he believes.
There is also a news report by Riazat Butt Archbishop urged to delay conference in gay clergy row.
Updated again Sunday evening
The Living Church has a report by George Conger: Southern Cone Offers ‘Safe Haven’ for American Dioceses.
The Bishop of Lewes is happy about it.
Reuters carried a report: Traditionalist pressure mounts on Anglican Communion.
Update Friday evening
Ruth Gledhill has a report ‘Realignment’ of Anglican Communion underway at Times Online in which she says that:
…According to well-informed insiders, Dr Rowan Williams, while opposed to separatist solutions to the Anglican crisis, has described the plan of Bishop Venables as a “sensible way forward…”
…Four US diocesan bishops met Bishop Venables and his bishops at his episcopal headquarters in Buenos Aires in August to discuss the plan. Bishop Venables met Dr Williams in London in September where they discussed the proposal.
In an interview with The Times, Bishop Venables said: “We have talked with a number of US dioceses and bishops. They think the could remain within the Anglican Communion if they are no longer part of The Episcopal Church. So we took an overwhelming decision in our provincial synod this week to receive into our province any diocese that wishes to come.”
The diocese must first go through the necessary synodical procedures to separate from The Episcopal Church. The San Joaquin diocese is furthest down this road. Bishop Venables said: “It is a bit like a refugee situation. If next door’s children come running out in the middle of the night, the first response must be to give them a safe place before you find out what is going on and sort it out…”
Ruth has written further about this on her blog at Anglican ‘realignment’ begins:
…I have it on impeccable authority that Rowan’s response to Bishop Greg, while not exactly falling over himself with joy, was that this was a ‘sensible way forward’. Bishop Greg discussed it briefly with the Archbishop in London in September, I understand, but Greg himself declined to tell me what the Archbishop said…
Update Sunday evening
Over on titusonenine Gregory Venables blogged a comment in which he announced his own re-election as primate of the Southern Cone (H/T GK). This must be some kind of first in ecclesiastical history:
4. Gregory wrote:
Greg Venables has just been relected unanimously as Primate.
November 8, 9:12 am
Ruth Gledhill has another version of her report in tomorrow’s Times, see US dioceses offered safe haven to secede in gay clergy row.
From today’s Church Times Pat Ashworth has this:
English bishops back Duncan over warning letter (scroll down for second story)
THE BISHOPS of Chester, Chichester, Exeter, and Rochester issued a statement on Tuesday in support of the Rt Revd Robert Duncan, the Bishop of Pittsburgh, after the warning letter sent to him by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori…
…The English bishops’ statement, which was instigated by the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, read: “We deeply regret the increase in the atmosphere of litigiousness revealed by the Presiding Bishop’s letter to Bishop Duncan. At this time, we stand with him and with all who respond positively to the Primates’ Dar es Salaam requests. We hope the Archbishop’s response to Bishop John Howe of Central Florida will also apply to Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh.”
The Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster, said on Tuesday that the statement gave personal support to Bishop Duncan. He described the Presiding Bishop’s letter as “aggressive, inappropriate, and unfortunate”. “They are acting as if it is the OK Corral. This is the North American culture: it is a managerial rather than a pastoral approach.”
Dr Forster emphasised that issuing the statement did not imply support for decisions taken at the Pittsburgh diocesan convention.
When asked whether the Presiding Bishop was within her rights to act as she had done, Dr Forster said that if a whole diocese voted to realign with another province, that needed to be addressed on its own terms. “I’m not sure simply saying ‘It’s illegal’ is the best way to produce some healing. What’s needed is a pastoral, healing approach, which attempts to find a way forward.”
Bishop Duncan is “holding out the prospect of those who wish to stay doing so, and promises to be fair and generous in his dealings with them. I think I’m asking for a similar fairness and generosity from the Episcopal Church towards those parishes who do want to leave,” said Dr Forster….
The ENS report by Jan Nunley is headed: Fort Worth bishop receives notice of possible consequences if withdrawal effort continues.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has made public another letter of warning sent to a bishop actively seeking to withdraw his diocese from the Episcopal Church.
The letter to Bishop Jack Leo Iker of the Diocese of Fort Worth notifies him that such a step would force her to take action to bring the diocese and its leadership into line with the mandates of the national Church.
The first of the letters was sent to Bishop Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh on October 31. Letters to other bishops will follow.
Fort Worth’s diocesan convention, meeting November 16-17, is set to consider the first reading of a constitutional amendment that would remove accession to the Constitution and Canons of General Convention, as well as several canonical amendments that eliminate mention of the Episcopal Church. Iker has indicated his support and approval of the amendments…
The full text of the letter is below the fold.
The Living Church also has a report: P.B. Issues Warning to Fort Worth.
8 November 2007
The Rt. Rev. Jack Iker
The Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth
2900 Alemeda Street
Fort Worth, TX 76108
As you are undoubtedly aware, it is my view that recent amendments to your Diocese’s constitution violate the Constitutional requirement that the Diocese maintain an “unqualified accession” to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. I have now reviewed several proposed constitutional amendments that will be considered at your forthcoming diocesan convention. It is evident to me that several of these proposed changes would further violate the Church’s Constitution, while some other proposed changes would undo the problems created by the earlier amendments. It is clear from your public statements and from what I understand your position to be regarding these matters that you endorse the first set of changes. Your statements and actions in recent months demonstrate an intention to lead your diocese into a position that would purportedly permit it to depart from the Episcopal Church. All these efforts, in my view, display a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between The Episcopal Church and its dioceses.
I call upon you to recede from this direction and to lead your diocese on a new course that recognizes the interdependent and hierarchical relationship between the national Church and its dioceses and parishes. That relationship is at the heart of our mission, as expressed in our polity. Specifically, I sincerely hope that you will change your position and urge your diocese at its forthcoming convention to adopt the proposed amendments that will bring the Diocese’s constitution into agreement with the Church’s Constitution and Canons.
If your course does not change, I shall regrettably be compelled to see that appropriate canonical steps are promptly taken to consider whether you have abandoned the Communion of this Church — by actions and substantive statements, however, they may be phrased — and whether you have committed canonical offences that warrant disciplinary action.
It grieves me that any bishop of this Church would seek to lead any of its members out of it. I would remind you of my open offer of an Episcopal Visitor if you wish to receive pastoral care from another bishop. I continue to pray for reconciliation of this situation, and I remain
Your servant in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori
The Diocese of Virginia has published details of the various legal actions taken in the current disputes there over the ownership of parish property.
See Property Dispute:
The dispute over property in the Diocese of Virginia entered the civil courts when the separated CANA congregations filed petitions with the courts in their jurisdictions reporting the results of their congregational votes and seeking the court’s declaration that the property belonged to the congregations. The Diocese and the Episcopal Church responded to those filings and are defendants in those cases.
Subsequently, the Diocese and the Episcopal Church filed complaints seeking a declaration that Episcopal Church property, while held by local trustees, is held in trust for the benefit of the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Virginia and Episcopalians throughout the generations. Those cases have yet to be scheduled for trial. At issue is the real and personal property of 11 Episcopal churches. In each case, that property currently is occupied and used by non-Episcopal congregations. Four continuing Episcopal congregations have been denied use of their property, locked out of their buildings, deprived of their rights to that property and forced into exile.
By agreement of the parties, all cases were consolidated in Fairfax Circuit Court, and they have been assigned to Judge Randy I. Bellows. On this site, you will find various court filings related to the litigation.
Truro Church has published this page: Property Defense.
And the Anglican District of Virginia has published this page: Legal Resources.
Jonathan Petre has an exclusive this morning in the Daily Telegraph: Anglican leader offers haven to US conservatives:
…Archbishop Gregory Venables is to allow conservative dioceses that are defecting from the pro-gay American branch of Anglicanism to affiliate with his South American province thousands of miles away…
…The British-born Archbishop, who is the Primate of the Province of the Southern Cone, told the Telegraph: “This is a pivotal moment in the history of the Anglican Communion.
“The new realignment demonstrates the depths of the divisions that already exist. “
Dr Williams appears to want to keep the Communion together at all costs, but Gospel truth should never be sacrificed for structural unity.
“Conservatives in America and elsewhere cannot wait in limbo any longer. They need a safe haven now.”
Archbishop Venables unveiled the decision of his bishops and other leaders after the plans were overwhelmingly approved by his provincial synod during a meeting in Chile last night…
Anglican Mainstream has printed the full text, and also the full list of signatories, which does not appear in the newspaper itself. There it says: “Col Edward Armitstead and 41 Members of General Synod from 24 dioceses”.
Letter published in the Church of England Newspaper
The Editor The CEN
We write to inform you that we are sending the following letter of support to Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh and his fellow Bishops in the Common Cause Council of Bishops following the letter last week to the Bishop of Pittsburgh,
Dear Bishop Duncan and Bishops in Common Cause
Warm greetings from the UK.
We have read the letter from Presiding Bishop Schori to the Bishop of Pittsburgh. We want to assure you, your dioceses and parishes of our prayers and fellowship as you take your stand on our shared Anglican heritage, accepting the Holy Scriptures as the rule and ultimate standard of faith, contrary to those innovators both in the British Isles and in the Americas who wish to give primacy to the demands of contemporary culture.
We are outraged by the threat and implementation of court actions against faithful Anglicans in the United States by the current leadership of The Episcopal Church who appear to be unitarian and universalist in theology, and coercively utopian in social practice.
We are most disturbed that the current plans for the Lambeth Conference are that the leadership of TEC be invited to the Lambeth Conference but not faithful Anglican bishops.
Yours in Christ
46 Members of General Synod from 26 dioceses
Colonel Edward Armitstead (Bath and Wells), Mrs Lorna Ashworth (Chichester), Mrs Anneliese Barrell (Exeter), Fr Paul Benfield (Blackburn), Mr Tom Benyon (Oxford) , Mr Paul Boyd Lee (Salisbury), Canon Peter Bruinvels (Guildford), Mr Gerald Burrows (Blackburn), Mr Graham Campbell (Chester) , Mr Nigel Chetwood (Gloucester), Mr John Clark (Lichfield) , Rev John Cook (London), Mr Tim Cox (Blackburn), Brigadier Ian Dobbie (Rochester), Rev John Dunnett (Chelmsford), Mr Paul Eddy (Winchester), Mrs Sarah Finch (London), Dr Philip Giddings (Oxford), Rev Ian Gooding (Derby), Rev John Hartley (Bradford) , Rev Richard Hibbert (St Albans), Fr Simon Killwick (Manchester) , Mr Peter LeRoy (Bath and Wells), Rev Angus Macleay (Rochester) , Dr Peter May (Winchester), Mr Steve Mitchell (Derby), Mrs Joanna Monckton (Lichfield), Mrs Gill Morrison (Peterborough), Mr Gerry O’Brien (Rochester), Rev Paul Perkin (Southwark) , Preb Sam Philpott (Exeter) , Mr Andrew Presland (Peterborough), Rev Colin Randall (Carlisle) , Mr Jonathan Redden (Sheffield), Mrs Alison Ruoff (London), Mr Clive Scowen (London), Mr Ian Smith (York), Rev Mark Sowerby (Ripon and Leeds),Mr Michael Streeter (Chichester) Canon Dr Chris Sugden (Oxford), Dr Chik Kaw Tan (Lichfield), Rev Rod Thomas (Exeter), Mr Jacob Vince (Chichester), Rev David Waller (Chelmsford) , Mrs Ruth Whitworth (Ripon and Leeds) Sister Anne Williams (Durham)
Plus Rev David Phillips (St Albans) Director, Church Society, Rev Geoffrey Kirk (Southwark) Secretary, Forward in Faith UK, Stephen Parkinson, Director, Forward in Faith, Rev Beaumont Brandie (Chichester) Chair of College of Forward in Faith Deans, Gill James (Birmingham), Rev Alan Rabjohns, Chair, Credo Cymru. Canon Nicholas Turner (Bradford) Editor, New Directions, Rev Trevor Walker (Lincoln) Forward in Faith Council, Fr Ross Northing (Oxford) Regional Dean, Fr Len Black (FiF dean for Scotland)
This document is signed by the following nine persons:
Most Rev Dr Peter J. Akinola (Nigeria)
Most Rev Dr Bernard Amos Malango (Central Africa)
Most Rev Dr John Chew Hiang Chea (South East Asia)
Most Rev Ian Ernest (Indian Ocean)
Most Rev Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis (Jerusalem and the Middle East)
Most Rev Emmanuel Musaba Kolini (Rwanda)
Most Rev Justice Ofei Akrofi (West Africa)
Most Rev Henry Luke Orombi (Uganda)
Most Rev Dr Fidèle Dirokpa (Congo)
The full text can be found here.
Communiqué of the Global South Primates, Shanghai, October 30, 2007
1. The visit of the Global South Primates to the People’s Republic of China has given us an opportunity to meet and reflect on the present situation facing the Anglican Communion and what we have to do to move forward while remaining grounded in the Word of God and preserving its catholicity and apostolicity.
2. We are saddened that all the decisions and recommendations made at the several meetings of the Primates since 2003 and the Windsor Report have not been duly respected. In view of the current crisis, it is imperative to call for faithfulness to the Word and the tradition we have received, and move to build up a momentum for the transformation of our common life. We see the crisis as a call to an Anglican renewal of faith as part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, and to move forward in mission and evangelism within the wider church and the world.
3. Since the colonial past, no consolidation of the essence of communion has been made on the part of the Mother Church and of the churches in the West. What is at stake is the very nature of Anglicanism – not just about sexuality but also about the nature of Christ, the truth of the Gospel and the authority of the Bible. We reject the religion of accommodation and cultural conformity that offers neither transforming power nor eternal hope.
4. There is today an urge to reject subservience and call for mutual responsibility. The Instruments of Communion should be given the needed attention so that they can really enable mutual respect and faithfulness to what holds us together – the faith once delivered to the saints. Our call is to work towards the equipping of God’s people so that we can be a faithful people of God and for God.
5. We are experiencing a sense of belonging in the spirit of communion in the Global South. This strengthens the structures that facilitate cooperation, conversation and accountability.
6. It is clear to us that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church (TEC) has not given an unequivocal response to the requests of the Primates at Dar es Salaam. Therefore we affirm the conclusion that the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) has reached in the communiqué of their meeting in Mauritius in October 2007 that “a change in direction from our current trajectory is urgently needed” because “we want unity but not unity at any expense”.
7. In view of our desire to move forward:
7.1 We call for an urgent meeting of the Primates to receive and conclude the draft Anglican Covenant and to determine how the Communion should move forward;
7.2 We urge that the proposed Lambeth Conference 2008 be postponed to a later date when bishops of all the provinces in the Communion can participate in a spirit of true collegiality and unity in the faith;
7.3 We request the Steering Committee to start preparations for the 4th Encounter of the Global South in 2008;
7.4 We receive with thanks the report of the Economic Empowerment Consultation in Accra, Ghana, in September 2007, and encourage the Task Force to continue to develop programmes to help our churches to be increasingly self-supporting;
7.5 We commend the work of the Theological Education and Formation Task Force, especially the drafting of the Anglican Catechism in Outline (ACIO), and urge our dioceses to make it available to all strata of leadership in preparation for its formal adoption in the first quarter of 2008;
7.6 We call upon bishops of the Global South and the Anglican Communion to write to their churches to explain the current situation and ask them to pray for the Communion at this crucial time which would lead to reformation and transformation.
8. We give thanks to God for the life and ministry of the following Primates who will be retiring in 2007 and we pray that they will have a blessed retirement:
“I… urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” (Jude 3)
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our One and Only Saviour Jesus, the Christ.
I write on the 490th anniversary of that moment in Church history when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Cathedral in Wittenberg in which he asserted, among other things, that the truth of the gospel must always take precedence over the structures of the church. It is becoming increasingly clear that we are facing a similar situation today. While it has been my hope that we would be able to share these reflections face to face it seems unlikely that we will be called to meet together in the near future and so I offer these thoughts by letter.
It has been repeatedly stated and most succinctly summarized in the report, ‘Road to Lambeth’ we face a two fold crisis in the Anglican Communion: a crisis of doctrine and a crisis of leadership, in which the failure of the “Instruments” of the Communion to exercise discipline has called into question the viability of the Anglican Communion as a united Christian body under the common foundation of faith. (See the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral)
The Church of Nigeria is not interested in territorial expansion. The failure to resolve these dual crises has been at the heart of the decision by our Church and a number of other Global South Provinces to offer encouragement and oversight to a growing number of clergy and congregations in the USA. These pastoral initiatives are not and should not be seen as the cause of the crises.
Although they have variously been described as “interventions” “boundary crossing” or “incursions” — they are a direct and natural consequence of the decision by The Episcopal Church (TEC) to follow the path that it has now chosen.
These pastoral initiatives undertaken to keep faithful Anglicans within our Anglican family has been at a considerable cost of crucial resources to our province. There is no moral equivalence between them and the actions taken by TEC. They are a heartfelt response to cries for help. We acted in accordance with the Gospel mandate. Had TEC, against all godly warnings, not taken actions that tore the fabric of our beloved Communion there would be no need for hundreds indeed, thousands of its members to seek pastoral, episcopal and now primatial care elsewhere.
It has been suggested that our actions violate historic Anglican polity and early church tradition with particular reference made to the Council of Nicea. This assertion is both hollow and made in bad faith since those who make it are more than willing to ignore historic biblical teaching on the uniqueness of Christ, the authority of the Scriptures and the call to moral obedience. With regard to Nicea - while there was concern for proper order there was even greater commitment to maintaining right teaching. This can be seen by the provision of godly bishops and clergy in places where the incumbents were proponents of false teaching.
The world needs to understand that the situation that we now confront is not primarily about structure or conferences but about irreconcilable truth claims. It is worth remembering that in the Biblical narratives religious structures have often been the enemy of revealed truth. When these structures become obstacles, YHWH, in his own way and at a time of his own choosing removed them and brought His people back to Himself. Of course there is value to preserving Anglican structures but we must never do so at the expense of the people for whom our Lord Jesus the Christ gave his life.
Until the Communion summons the courage to tackle that issue headlong and resolve it we can do no other than provide for those who cry out to us. It is our earnest prayer that repentance and reconciliation will make this a temporary arrangement. One thing is clear we will not abandon our friends.
When we met in Dar es Salaam, after a great deal of effort, we suggested a way forward that had the support of all those present – including the Presiding Bishop of TEC. The House of Bishops and Executive Committee of The Episcopal Church quickly rejected this proposal on the grounds that it apparently violated their canons. We now have a counter proposal from TEC and yet there is no indication that it will meet the needs of those for whom it is supposedly designed. This endless series of proposals and counter proposals continues with no apparent conclusion in sight. Sadly, it is becoming increasingly clear that the only acceptable end as far as TEC is concerned is the full capitulation of any who would stand in opposition to their biblically incompatible innovations- this we will never do. There is a way forward - we have written and spoken repeatedly about it – the time for action is now.
I believe that we Primates must meet in the next few months to respond to the crisis that now confronts us. The situation in The Episcopal Church is deteriorating rapidly. Lawsuits are escalating and I have just heard that Bishop Bob Duncan is now threatened with ecclesiastical trial by the Presiding Bishop for his faithful attempts to find a way to protect his faithful members and diocese. Other godly bishops are under the same threat. Their only crime is a desire to continue their Christian pilgrimage as faithful Anglicans. This situation will affect all of us. We dare not let our love for the historic structures of our beloved Communion, important as they are, allow us to destroy its future. We are losing members. We are losing time. We are losing our integrity as an important part of the One, holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
“Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision”. Joel 3:14
All Saints Day, 2007
Just two weeks to go before the InclusiveChurch residential conference, Drenched in Grace. A description of the programme can be found here.
Keynote speakers -
Over 15 workshops will cover the spectrum of Anglican concerns, from women in the episcopate to inclusive liturgy, and from the Millennium Development Goals to welcoming transgendered people.
Download the brochure with booking form (PDF) here.
A further report from Canada: in the Anglican Journal Solange de Santis writes that Bishops continue moratorium on same-gender blessings .
…Meanwhile, there was a general consensus that the bishops’ pastoral statement, issued last April, was useful, said Bishop Spence. Some liberals find it attractive as it permits them to celebrate a church service with a civilly-married gay couple; some conservatives appreciate the fact that it does not allow same-sex weddings or blessings and, in essence, continues a moratorium on blessing ceremonies first imposed by the bishops in 2005. (New Westminster responded to the moratorium by limiting blessings to eight parishes that had requested permission earlier.)
Integrity, a support group for gay Anglicans, wrote to Archbishop Hiltz asking that the house of bishops lift the moratorium. He said after the closed session that his response to Integrity will be that “the position of the house as outlined in the pastoral statement remains.” The bishops did not “entertain any changes” in it, he said…
That pastoral statement can be found in this page.
She reports in detail on how various dioceses feel about such blessings:
In terms of consultation, bishops Barry Clarke of Montreal and John Chapman of Ottawa each said they have not yet reached a decision on how they will act upon the votes of their synods. “It was useful to have a conversation with dioceses in the same position,” said Bishop Chapman, who added he wanted to see the decisions of the diocese of Niagara, whose Nov. 16-17 synod was scheduled to vote on the blessings issue. “I don’t want to act alone, but I don’t think I’ll need to. There is movement in the church (toward further acceptance of gay people); there is no going back.”
In open session, bishops discussed the reactions in several dioceses to the General Synod votes last June that said same-sex blessings do not contravene core church doctrine but declined to affirm dioceses’ authority to offer them. Reaction was fairly quiet in Western Newfoundland, Brandon (Manitoba) and Calgary, said their respective bishops, Percy Coffin, Jim Njegovan and Derek Hoskin.
Bishop Jim Cowan said seven priests in his diocese of British Columbia, angered that they may not offer same-sex blessings, signed a petition asking to have their permission to officiate at weddings withdrawn from the diocese and will make other provisions for marriages to take place at their churches.
Bishop Spence said the reaction in Hamilton, Ont.-based diocese of Niagara was a “firestorm” after General Synod. “There is frustration that Niagara, which has held the line, is not allowed to go forward (with same-sex blessings),” he said. If the matter arises again at synod, “my expectation is that I will not be able not to give my assent,” he said. (Niagara’s 2004 synod voted in favor of blessings, but Bishop Spence withheld his consent in favour of church unity.) On the other hand, the diocese contains clergy who lead the conservative Anglican Essentials group and was to be the location of a major meeting of that group in late November, after the synod. “If we are faced with parishes that decide to leave the diocese, we will need legal responses to that,” said Bishop Spence.
Read the whole article for what the bishops thought about the New Orleans meeting and JSC report thereon, and also on their concerns for the activities of a Canadian retired bishop who has participated in irregular consecrations of bishops who intend to minister to conservatives in the U.S.
Episcopal Café has drawn attention to a dissertation on this topic:
Episcopal Church is not divisible
Bishops thinking of leading their dioceses out of The Episcopal Church seem to have missed lessons on church history somewhere along the line. The Diocese of Pittsburgh’s vote on Resolution 1, as reported in A House Dividing yesterday is based on the idea that Dioceses are free standing entities. This reading of history has no basis in fact according to scholars of American history.
In 1959, James Allen (Jim) Dator, Professor, and Director of the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa, wrote a dissertation on The Government of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Confederal, Federal, or Unitary? It was accepted by the Faculty of the Graduate School (School of Government) of The American University, Washington, DC, in 1959 in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
The complete dissertation is here.
The whole Episcopal Café article is here. It summarises some key conclusions of the dissertation. In particular:
…after carefully reviewing the various drafts of a constitution for PECUSA, and the Church’s Constitution as adopted on October 2, 1789, I conclude two things:
(1) The Church’s constitution was NOT made in imitation of the US Constitution. Thus, while the US Constitution is a federal system, giving the states certain rights and the central government other rights, “there is not explicit in the Church’s Constitution of 1789 any definition of a division of powers [between the dioceses and the General Convention], even though the framers of that Constitution had models of both the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution before them” (p. 53).
(2) PECUSA was created as a unitary and not a federal government: “In summary, neither Bishop White’s “Case”, nor the “Fundamental Principles” of 1784, nor the “General Ecclesiastical Constitution” of 1785, nor the “General Constitution of 1786,” nor the Constitution of 1789 provided explicitly for a constitutional division of powers. Such a division of powers is an essential manifestation of both federal and confederal governments. Neither is there any other evidence to indicate that the Constitution is one of a confederation. Indeed, as far as the written Constitution is explicitly concerned, the Church’s government is unitary” (p. 54).
There is a lot more. Do read at least the whole of the Cafe article.
The correspondence which started last January has recently resumed.
See the most recent letters:
Andrew to Giles on 16 September
Giles to Andrew on 3 November
The Primate of Nigeria has told the Nigerian Tribune why “Nigerian bishops are insisting” on the postponement of next year’s Lambeth Conference. Curiously enough though, the headline uses the word may and the article also says
“According to Akinola, Nigerian bishops had not “fully decided” on whether they would attend.”
From the official Nigerian provincial website: ‘WE MUST FORGET ABOUT BRITAIN’ NIGERIAN BISHOP TELLS ANGLICANS
And last month This Day gave strong editorial support to Nigeria: Akinola’s Anti-Gay Campaign.
The Church of Nigeria announced previously that it had chosen four more American-based priests to be consecrated as CANA bishops, “at a date and place yet to be determined”.
A subsequent CANA announcement explained that:
Immediately following the Council (December 6-8), the consecration will be performed on Second Advent, December 9, 2007. Both events will be held in the northern Virginia region. The Council (December 6-8) will be hosted at Church of the Epiphany in Herndon, near Dulles Airport; stay tuned for an announcement regarding the site for the consecration (December 9).
Dave Walker of CartoonChurch fame is reporting fully on this story over at SPCK reports (latest), so just read it all there.
Update on Durham Cathedral SPCK, see this.
Updated again Sunday morning
Episcopal News Service has a further detailed report, Pittsburgh convention approves first reading of constitutional changes.
The Living Church has an extremely short report.
New York Times Pittsburgh Episcopal Diocese Votes to Leave the Church
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Episcopal Diocese votes to leave
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Episcopal bishop won’t ‘abandon’ his local sheep
Associated Press Pittsburgh Diocese backs a split
Progresssive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Chooses Path to Separation
Apologies for the earlier erroneous information. I wrote earlier:
How close was this vote? Read this.
We have opened the way to seeking membership in another province of the Anglican Communion, should delegates so decide a year from now. But how significant a single vote can can be. We passed it 109-24 in the clerical order (the usual supermajority), but by 118 to 58 in the lay order (with one abstention). One switch from “aye” to “nay” and we would have lacked the requisite two-thirds majority…
This turns out to be incorrect. Only simple majorities are required. The Pittsburgh constitution reads:
Alteration of the Constitution
This Constitution, or any part thereof, may be altered in the following manner only: The proposed alteration or amendment shall be submitted in writing to the Annual Convention, and if approved by a majority of each Order, shall lie over to the next Annual Convention, and if again approved, by a majority of each Order, the Constitution shall then stand altered or amended as proposed.
Simon Barrow writes about a special feature this week on Religion and Public Life in the Economist . See The Predictable New Wars of Religion?
The Economist feature is here: In God’s name.
Jay Lakhani writes in the Guardian that All faiths must accept pluralism.
Jonathan Sacks appears twice today. In The Times he writes that The search for meaning must begin outside the self.
Over in the Daily Telegraph he is interviewed by Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson in Jonathan Sacks’s solution to family breakdown.
Also at the Daily Telegraph Christopher Howse asks Why should abortion be thought wrong?
In the Church Times Giles Fraser asks Is football in a moral bubble?
The Diocese of Pittsburgh has voted in favour of Resolution One, which starts out this way:
RESOLVED, that Article I, Section 1 of the Constitution of the Diocese of
Pittsburgh be, and it hereby is, amended and restated in its entirety to read as follows:
The Church in the Diocese of Pittsburgh is a constituent member of the Anglican
Communion, a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of those duly constituted Dioceses, Provinces and regional churches in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.
RESOLVED FURTHER, that a new Section 2 of Article I of the Constitution of the Diocese of Pittsburgh be, and it hereby is, adopted to read as follows:
The Diocese of Pittsburgh shall have membership in such Province of the Anglican
Communion as is by diocesan Canon specified.
Read the rest of it in a PDF file here.
The diocesan press release about this says:
Clergy and deputies to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh’s 142nd Annual Convention strongly approved a resolution that begins the process of amending the diocesan constitution. If the amendment passes a second reading, slated for November of 2008, a future diocesan convention would be able to realign the diocese to another province of The Anglican Communion if it so chose.
Deputies voted 118 to 58 with one abstention to approve the change. Clergy voted 109 to 24 in favor. An effort to instead return the diocese to full “accession” to The Episcopal Church was defeated by voice vote.
“This vote does not change the diocese’s current affiliation with The Episcopal Church. In fact, nothing at all changes until such a time as the next annual convention approves a second reading of the proposed amendment,” said Bishop Robert Duncan…
Bishop Duncan’s address to the convention can be found in full here.
1st November, A.D. 2007
The Feast of All Saints
The Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori
Episcopal Church Center
New York, New York
Here I stand. I can do no other. I will neither compromise the Faith once delivered to the saints, nor will I abandon the sheep who elected me to protect them.
Pax et bonum in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Episcopal News Service has this report by Mary Frances Schjonberg: Pittsburgh bishop declines Presiding Bishop’s offer of reconciliation.
There is a very detailed article by Auburn Faber Traycik in the Christian Challenge which is titled TEC: “Clarified All…Questions”?
Also, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church passed a resolution at its recent meeting, which ENS reports on as follows:
As it concluded its three-day fall meeting at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Dearborn, Michigan, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church thanked the House of Bishops for its efforts that resulted in a statement to the Anglican Communion issued in September.
However, Council Resolution NAC026 said that where the bishops’ statement called “particular attention to the application of [General Convention] Resolution B033 to lesbian and gay persons, it may inappropriately suggest that an additional qualification for the episcopacy has been imposed beyond those contained in the constitution and canons of the church.”
Two new articles arising from the recent Williams/Howe correspondence:
PARISH IS THE BASIC UNIT OF THE CHURCH IN AMERICAN ANGLICANISM by Rev. Dr. Tim Smith and Rev. George Conger.
The Parish is the basic unit of the church in American Anglicanism. Local property rights prevailed throughout early American Anglicanism. Centralization of control using the corporate model which began to be used in the early 1900s - has failed the purposes of the Church. Any new order should return to the foundational roots of American Anglicanism…
On 14 October 2007 the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote to Bishop John Howe of Central Florida full text here… The Archbishop appeared to remove the national church and province from any significant role in his understanding of Anglican polity. He also seemed to suggest that a ‘Windsor-compliant’ diocese would be in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, separate from the relationship of the diocese to its province.
In a letter to Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, by contrast, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori makes very clear that the national church and its constitutional structures are a very sharp reality.
Timothy Bartel takes issue with the Archbishop:
What are we to think of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent letter to the Bishop of Central Florida, which asserts that ‘any diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the [Anglican] Communion, whatever may be the longer-term result for others in The Episcopal Church’? According to Lambeth Palace, that letter was ‘neither a new policy statement nor a roadmap for the future’ of the Communion. It was written simply to discourage conservative clergy and parishes in Central Florida and elsewhere from forsaking a ‘Windsor-compliant’ diocesan bishop and seeking refuge in foreign jurisdictions—and it simply repeats ‘a basic presupposition of what the archbishop believes to be the theology of the Church’, namely, that ‘theologically and sacramentally speaking, a priest is related in the first place to his or her bishop directly, not through the structure of the national church’…
Updated again Friday evening
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on October 31 inhibited Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Charles Bennison from all ordained ministry pending a judgment of the Court for the Trial of a Bishop. The Title IV Review Committee issued a presentment for conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy against Bennison on October 28.
Read the full ENS report: Pennsylvania bishop inhibited from ordained ministry.
The two counts of the presentment center on accusations that Bennison, when he was rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Upland, California, did not respond properly after learning sometime in 1973 that his brother, John, who worked as a lay youth minister in the parish, was having an affair with a 14-year-old member of the youth group. John Bennison was also married at the time, according to the presentment.
The bishop is accused of not taking any steps to end the affair, not providing proper pastoral care to the girl, not investigating whether she needed medical care, taking three years to notify the girl’s parents, not reporting his brother to anyone, not investigating whether his brother was sexually involved with any other parishioners or other children, and seeking no advice on how to proceed. The presentment says Charles Bennison reacted “passively and self-protectively.”
The second count of the presentment accuses Bennison of continuing to fail in his duties until the fall of 2006. John Bennison became ordained during this time and the bishop is accused of not preventing his brother’s ordination, or his ultimately successful application to be reinstated as a priest after having renounced his orders in 1977, or his desire to transfer from the Diocese of Los Angeles to the Diocese of California. John Bennison was forced in 2006 to renounce his orders again when news of his abuse became public.
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania has issued a statement. TitusOneNine has a copy of it here.
Episcopal News Service has a detailed report: PENNSYLVANIA: Standing Committee upholds Presiding Bishop’s decision to inhibit bishop.
The Standing Committee website has more links.
Katharine Jefferts Schori Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA has written to Robert Duncan Bishop of Pittsburgh. The full text of this letter has been published by ENS and also appears here, below the fold.
According to Episcopal News Service similar letters will follow to other bishops who are actively seeking to withdraw their dioceses from the Episcopal Church.
Read the full report by Jan Nunley Presiding Bishop reaches out to bishops attempting to withdraw dioceses.
…Of those dioceses considering “realignment,” Springfield appears not to have yet acted, and Quincy declined in its recent diocesan convention to pass a proposed canonical revision.
Fort Worth’s convention, meeting November 14-15,is set to consider the first reading of a constitutional amendment that would remove accession to the Constitution and Canons of the church, as well several canonical amendments that eliminate mention of the name of the Episcopal Church. Jefferts Schori intends to send a letter to Bishop Jack Iker, who advocates these changes, before the convention notifying him that such a step would force her to take action to bring the diocese and its leadership into line with the mandates of the national Church.
A similar canonical change is set to come before the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s convention November 2-3, and Jefferts Schori has written to Pittsburgh’s bishop in this regard (see link to letter cited above).
In December the Diocese of San Joaquin is scheduled to hear the second and final reading of its constitutional accession amendment, a proposed act that may prompt “more dramatic action” beforehand…
A year ago, the Presiding Bishop also wrote to Bishop John-David Schofield of San Joaquin.
Letter from the Presiding Bishop to Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan
The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan
Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh
There have been numerous public references in recent weeks regarding resolutions to be introduced at your forthcoming diocesan convention. Those resolutions, if adopted, would amend several of your diocesan canons and begin the process of amending one or more provisions of your diocesan Constitution. I have reviewed a number of these proposed resolutions, and it is evident to me that they would violate the Constitutional requirement that the Diocese conform to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. It is apparent from your pre-convention report that you endorse these proposed changes. I am also aware of other of your statements and actions in recent months that demonstrate an intention to lead your diocese into a position that would purportedly permit it to depart from The Episcopal Church. All these efforts, in my view, display a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between The Episcopal Church and its dioceses. Our Constitution explicitly provides that a diocese must accede to the Constitution and Canons of the Church.
I call upon you to recede from this direction and to lead your diocese on a new course that recognizes the interdependent and hierarchical relationship between the national Church and its dioceses and parishes. That relationship is at the heart of our mission, as expressed in our polity. Specifically, I sincerely hope that you will change your position and urge your diocese at its forthcoming convention not to adopt the resolutions that you have until now supported.
If your course does not change, I shall regrettably be compelled to see that appropriate canonical steps are promptly taken to consider whether you have abandoned the Communion of this Church — by actions and substantive statements, however they may be phrased — and whether you have committed canonical offences that warrant disciplinary action.
It grieves me that any bishop of this Church would seek to lead any of its members out of it. I would remind you of my open offer of an Episcopal Visitor if you wish to receive pastoral care from another bishop. I continue to pray for reconciliation of this situation, and I remain
Your servant in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori