The following appeared earlier on the Global South Anglican website as a comment to this article, but has now been removed. I have added some typographical emphases.
7. I just received the following confidential letter by e-mail from an esteemed Primate. I am overwhelmed that my remarks on GAFCON – posted as a mere comment in the Global South Anglican web blog, would attract such swift rebuke from an Anglican Primate. I am not sure whether he himself would be so out of character to use such harsh words to a priest begging for clarifications from the authorities. After all what will take place in GAFCON affects my future. The metadata of his Word-document reveals that it was in fact drafted by another person – by an equally esteemed new bishop in America. The issues he raised are public in nature, and are decisive to the future of the Global South Anglican movement. They call for considered response.
First, I enclose his comments:
I can only use the very words you yourself have chosen to express my great concern at your public statement - shocked and saddened.
How could you possibly believe it to be God’s will to make such a public scandal against your brethren without first consulting with us? Common courtesy and politeness alone would have insisted on that and the scripture clearly teaches us to exhaust private attempts at reconciliation before doing something public.
You assume authority and superiority (neither of which are yours to assume) and assault not only the entire enterprise but the integrity of those involved.
You use rhetorical questions thus adding inappropriate scorn to what you have perpetrated.
On top of this you used the Global South website for a personal matter. With whose authorization did you do so?
This conference is designed to move beyond the current paralysis in the Communion and pursue mission with those who have a common mind about what Biblical mission means. We are not suggesting that we are the only ones who have the “real” faith to share, but neither are we so naive to believe that all who call themselves Anglicans agree with what the church has always described as the content of the faith and the mission of the Church. If the intention were to foment division, there are far more effective ways to do it than the plans we are making. In addition it is being set up by leaders who believe that the theological crisis (which you wrongly limit to being a North American problem) has damning implications in real people’s lives.
Given that every clear statement on unity, faith, and order has been summarily ignored, it is unreasonable to suspect that continuing to do the same things will bring different results.
Please seek God over this and recognize the great wrong you have done to those who have trusted you and never imagined you might behave in this way.
I leave aside his questions on the use of web blogs and authority in blog posting, which I consider as confusion on his part on the nature of web blog. The Primate, as a senior member in the GSA leadership team, should well be aware that GSA has two important arms working for the long-term strengthening of churches in the Southern Hemisphere and in the Communion at large. They are the Economic Empowerment Task Force and the Theological Formation and Education Task Force, the latter of which I am the chair. The chairs of both Task Forces work closely with the central leadership in the GSA Primates Steering Committee. For myself, I keep in touch with the GSA Primates chair and General Secretary on weekly basis over the past year – if not more – on our long-term work outside of the limelight. Successive GSA communiqués have commended the work of these two tracks.
In particular, the Primates have commissioned the Theological Formation and Education Task Force to produce a draft of the theological framework for an Anglican catechism. The committee with Primate-representatives from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, and South East Asia, alongside corresponding members from Northern churches endorsed by the Primates, has been working very closely together (and very hard) for the past year on this project. We have taken great care to produce a unitive and building document for the whole Communion, that it would complement the GSA theological input to the Anglican Covenant processes. We took particular care in defining orthodoxy in the Anglican Communion in the document. The 60-page Interim Report Anglican Catechism in Outline (ACIO), with Key Recommendations—that has received unanimous endorsement from all members— has important ramifications for Christian discipleship throughout the Communion. It will be submitted to the GSA Primates very soon. The GSA Primates who went to China in October 2007 saw an earlier draft and have commended on its work in their communiqué. They “urge [their] dioceses to make it available to all strata of leadership in preparation for its formal adoption in the first quarter of 2008”. According to agreed plans, it will be released it by mid February 2008, if not earlier, to the whole Communion for feedback. The Final report is due to be released by June 2008. All these plans were agreed by the Primates at least six months ago. The GSA Chair and General Secretary have received the successive drafts and were consulted on all major decisions as the draft was amended and re-crafted.
The drafting committee met in Singapore from 11 to14 December 2007, I believe it was in the same week as the Nairobi meeting took place. Archbishop John Chew was with us throughout the meeting and gave us vital leadership. I do not think any of us meeting in Singapore knew about the Nairobi meeting.
I hope this sets the scene in explaining why I was shocked and saddened by the GAFCON Statement.
I ask pose your questions gently back to you: Did you and those in Nairobi consult all GSA primates on such an important conference on Anglican future? Could there be better coordination between Global South Anglican initiatives and that of the GAFCON organizers? Are you setting up a new structure (Global Anglican) other than GSA to move the Communion forward? Would you not think given the publicity that GAFCON has attracted (quite aside from my humble questions) as splitting the Communion, how would others in the Communion perceive the ACIO Interim Report that is meant to build up the whole Communion upon the authority of the Holy Scripture when it is released? (Have you seen the document?) Would they not be prone to dismiss it off hand as another radical proposal from the Global South? This would be a great pity and great setback to the good work of the Global South Movement.
The GSA Primates leadership team has a prime responsibility to work and discern together with all churches in the Southern Hemisphere. Its authority is derived from this mandate. Consultation is vital to this.
I suggest GSA Steering Committee to meet soon to clear up the matter.
Please be assured of my continued effort to work to the utmost in defending orthodoxy with you in the Communion.
Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright,
He’ll with a giant fight,
He will have a right
To be a pilgrim.
Affectionately in Christ,
Posted by Michael Poon on 12/31 at 01:29 PM
Updated again Sunday evening
On the one hand, two papers have been [re-]published on the GAFCON site, which are “to add to the understanding of the background to the Global Anglican Future Conference”:
On the other hand, Michael Poon from Singapore, writing on the Global South Anglican site, has asked the GAFCON organisers some very good questions:
“Everything is permissible” — but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” — but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. (1 Corinthians 9: 23-24)
I am saddened and shocked by the Statement on “The Global Anglican Future Conference, June 15-22, The Holy Land”, issued on December 26, 2007. Perhaps the Primates responsible need to clarify their views on the matter.
1. On what basis was the Statement “announced by Orthodox Primates”? What is the basis of orthodoxy? Historically, the Communion takes Canon A5 “Doctrine of the Church of England” and C15 “On the Preface to the Declaration of Assent” of the Church of England as the basis of its belief. This underpins Section 2 (“The Faith we share”) of the proposed Anglican Covenant. On what basis did the Primates of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Southern Cone, and Tanzania declare themselves as orthodox primates?
2. Did the Primates at Nairobi act on their personal capacity or as primates of their respective churches that “represent over 30 million of the 55 million active Anglicans in the world”? It would be helpful if the Primates and bishops are able to have their Statement ratified through due process by their Provincial/National/Diocesan Synods.
3. Has the Global South Anglican Primates Steering Committee endorsed this Statement? So far, it has remained silent on the matter. It is important to note that the authority of the Global South Anglican “movement” and of the Steering Committee arise from the South-South Encounter and most recently the Kigali Meeting in 2006. The Global South represents a broad spectrum of Anglican churches that hold onto the historic faith and ecclesiology informed by the historic formularies. It does not answer to the dictates of the radical evangelical wings within the Communion. It is regrettable that Asia, West Indies, and Middle East are glaring omissions among the “conveners” of the proposed Conference. Have they been consulted? Have they rejected the proposal? In their place, we find names of colleagues (with due respect) from a particular strand in the Northern churches. Why was this Statement issued with such haste? And without broader representation?
4. Was the Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem of the Middle East consulted? After all the proposed Conference takes place in Jerusalem? Furthermore, by holding it in Jerusalem, it makes it quite impossible for orthodox Christians from Muslim countries to attend. And yet, what is that insignificant minority in the face of powerful numerical blocs?
What should our discipleship be at this stage? Primates are pledged to uphold the unity and the faith of the church, and not their private judgments and personalities—even their interpretation of orthodoxy. Please be constructive in your decisions at this stage.
Feast of Thomas Becket, 2007
Michael Poon has asked some more questions, see Michael Poon asks Archbishop Peter Jensen for clarification on several crucial points. The article is too long to add in full here, but the first two questions are as follows:
1. What is the particular nature of the crisis before the Communion today?
2. What are the particular heritage within the Anglican history you wish to retain?
And, as noted in a comment below, the following editorial note appears on the Global South Anglican homepage:
Editorial note: Both Dr Michael Poon and Archbishop Jensen have articles featured on this site regularly. It will be in the interest of our readers and Anglican faithful that we continue some open conversations on the nature and direction that our Communion is taking. This is a critical time for our Communion and churches. If we are just fighting for biblical orthodoxy and nothing else, we might as well splinter into independent churches. Even ‘mission’ is not a good enough reason to be together - for we are working quite well across denominational boundaries. If it is both biblical orthodoxy AND the catholic order of our Church with our identity/mission as an ecclesial family, then it calls for careful, deeper reflection, longterm vision and clarity in our strategy - that the 2003 crisis and our subsequent responses may not tear the fabric of our Communion even further.
And, as also mentioned in comments, there is this report from a Kent newspaper:
… GAFCON spokesman Canon Chris Sugden would not be drawn on whether or not Dr Williams would be invited to the rival conference. He said: “Of course, the Archbishop will be preoccupied with the Lambeth Conference, but no decisions have been made yet.”
A spokeswoman for Lambeth Palace said the Archbishop of Canterbury would not be making any comment on the alternative conference…
Events in San Joaquin before Christmas are recorded here.
Next, we have these blog reports from Fr Jake:
The last one of those has links to many other blog commenters, and also notes that some prominent American Anglican sites have not mentioned the events at all.
And today’s Modesto Bee reports on this also: Bishop Schofield removes Episcopal vicar from Atwater post by Sue Nowicki.
There is also a PDF file containing an excerpt from a letter to Father Fred Risard of Atwater’s St. Nicholas Episcopal Church from Anglican Bishop John-David Schofield.
Giles Fraser wrote in the Guardian about A very lefty festival.
The tradition of carols as an anarchic and populist form of devotion is alive and well, says Ian Bradley in Face to Faith.
Jonathan Romain wrote in The Times that All the true miracles happen in the human heart.
Vicki Woods wrote in the Daily Telegraph about Going to church when you have no faith.
At Ekklesia Simon Barrow wrote that Christ is an unwanted gift for the religious.
Jonathan Bartley wrote about The real offensiveness of Christmas.
‘Since Christmas a day: and the day of St Stephen, First Martyr.
‘Since St Stephen a day: and the day of St John the Apostle.
‘Since St John the Apostle a day: and the day of the Holy Innocents.
‘Since the Holy Innocents a day: the fourth day from Christmas.
‘To-day, what is to-day?’
So wrote T S Eliot at the start of the second act of his play Murder in the Cathedral, written for the 1935 Canterbury Festival, and first performed in the Chapter House at Canterbury, just a few yards from where, on this day in 1170, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, was killed.
The murder, or assassination, of Thomas Becket within his cathedral church shocked the whole of western Christendom. Within three years he had been canonized, his name added to the roll of saints of the Church, and King Henry II forced to do penance for his role in Becket’s death. From Iceland to Italy there are churches dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury, and relics, statues and images from just a few years after 1170.
The cause for which Becket died, however, is not one that today we necessarily regard as unambiguously right. As Eliot has the assassins remind his audience, the rule of law that we treasure as a great protection was begun by the reforms of Henry II that Becket stood against. ‘Remember,’ says the Second Knight in his speech to the audience, ‘remember that it is we who took the first step. We have been instrumental in bringing about the state of affairs that you approve.’ On the other hand, the rule of law that Henry II was introducing was harsh, whereas the rule of the Church, which Becket wanted to encompass as many people as possible, was more lenient.
And yet we cannot easily regard the murder of Becket as justified, even if we can agree with some of the sentiments Eliot has the knights express. The end does not justify the means. The powerful cannot go around murdering those they disagree with, whether they be political rivals or obstacles (as Becket had become to Henry II), or the weak and impoverished (as the boys of Bethlehem were to Herod, or indeed today). The prophets of the Old Testament remind us of this too: we see David brought to book by Nathan for arranging the death of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11, 12); and Elijah foretells disaster on the house of Ahab for his complicity in bearing false witness against Naboth and causing him to be executed (1 Kings 21); and there are plenty of other examples.
The very rule of law that Henry II wanted to introduce requires that arbitrary exercise of power is not allowed. The murder of Thomas Becket reminds us still that the rule of law (tempered by equity and mercy) is fundamental to the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and that it applies as much if not more to the rich and powerful and to the rulers as it does to the dispossessed, the powerless and the ruled. Those in power must always be held to account for their treatment of those who are in their power.
‘To-day, what is to-day?’
‘Let our thanks ascend
To God, who has given us another Saint in Canterbury.’
‘Blessed Thomas, pray for us.’
Today, the fourth day of Christmas, the Church remembers an incident recorded in Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus. The evangelist tells us how Herod, warned that a ‘new king of the Jews’ had been born in Bethlehem, gave orders for the massacre of all the boys aged two years or under in and around Bethlehem. The evangelist notes that this is a fulfilment of the words of Jeremiah. Later legend puts the number involved in the thousands, or even in the hundreds of thousands, though it has been estimated that the likely number of boys of that age in a town the size of Bethlehem might have been around twenty.
Scholars doubt the historical accuracy of this story, and we do not need to take it literally to commemorate today all who are wrongly persecuted and betrayed by those who should be protecting them.
The young boys in the story know nothing of Jesus, nor indeed of the politics and powers of this world. They cannot by any stretch of historical or theological imagination be described as Christians. Just babies or toddlers with a few words, they are the epitome of powerlessness and vulnerability, still dependent on others for all their needs. Primarily they depend upon their parents, but secondarily they depend on their neighbours, and on the earthly powers-that-be for protection from the evils and disasters that can strike at any time.
And despite their ignorance of Jesus, the Church has from ancient times commemorated them: a reminder that God’s love is for all; a reminder of the sufferings endured by so many; and a reminder of our responsibilities towards those who depend upon us, and those who are weaker than we are. And a reminder too of the need to hold the powerful to account, and to ensure, so far as we are able, that they too remember their responsibilities to the weak and powerless, and not abuse their power for their own ends.
It is a sad fact that such abuse of power and responsibility not only still exists, but also that it is not just confined to the obviously evil. From terrorists exercising power without responsibility, not caring about the suffering of the innocent, through politicians convinced of the ‘greater good’, to religious leaders who fail to use to the utmost their moral power and influence, we still see connivance, deliberate and thoughtless, in the persecution of those who have every right to expect the protection of the more powerful.
The best way in which we can commemorate this feast today of the Holy Innocents is to speak out against and to work towards the end of the tyranny of evil. Not just this day, but every day.
Religious Intelligence had Rival Lambeth Conference announced by Nick Mackenzie.
The Living Church had Traditionalists Plan June Conference in Holy Land.
Christianity Today had Global Anglicans Face Test of Strength.
The Washington Post in being the first mainstream media outlet to report this event, unfortunately got the date of it wrong by a whole month.
Earlier the Daily Telegraph had predicted all this accurately, in Second Lambeth Conference a blow to Williams.
Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney has written about his involvement here.
In a surprising move, the Daily Telegraph has published a leader comment in favour of Church of England bishops. Commenting on a news article by its own Religious Affairs Correspondent, Jonathan Petre, headlined One in five C of E bishops faces sack, the leader says:
When, in 1942, Winston Churchill nominated William Temple for Canterbury, he remarked that he had chosen the only half-crown article in a sixpenny bazaar.
That was too harsh on the bishops of the time, but how does the bishops’ bazaar compare today?
In monetary terms, their services are less valued now. A diocesan bishop receives £36,230 a year, and an auxiliary suffragan bishop only £29,560.
That is less than a teacher, though we expect great things of bishops.
But, as we report today, instead of finding ways of attracting better candidates, perhaps by increasing the amount they receive to a level where they might no longer wonder how to pay for the children’s shoes, the Church Commissioners, in a secret document, have recommended that more than a fifth of bishops should simply be abolished.
Some dioceses might also go, or be merged. There is talk of selling off historic palaces.
No one is underestimating the difficulties facing the Church of England. Its full-time clergy have diminished in the past century from 24,000 to 9,000. Parishes are amalgamated, and churches crumble and are closed.
The apparent decline reflects lay secularisation, but also a reduced status for clergy. This leads to a diminished pool of talent from which bishops may be drawn.
The solution is not to bash the bishops once more. Real savings should come from trimming a proliferating bureaucracy, not from cutting bishops’ incomes.
As for selling off historic palaces, that is an abdication of trust and a pointless transfer of historic property to unreliable custodians.
A success story for the Church of England has been its cathedrals: well attended and able to draw in those previously little interested in Christianity.
One model for the C of E’s future is the building of central teams in dioceses, flexible and mobile enough to meet local needs. This is no time to weaken episcopal vigour.
‘In the beginning was the Word’. So begins the gospel according to John, and it is John that is commemorated today: John the apostle, and John the gospel-writer or evangelist — perhaps the same person, perhaps not, but apostle and evangelist commemorated as one today.
In this prologue to the good news of Jesus of Nazareth, the evangelist writes in poetic language and connects the eternal Word of God with this living person, Jesus of Nazareth, whom he had known.
In the beginning was the Word
The universe is something that we observe, and in particular something that scientists observe and try to understand. And one of the things that they observe is that there is something about the universe that tends towards what might be called ‘creativity’. At one level this can be explained as a result of electro-magnetic and nuclear forces acting at infinitesimally small distances or of gravity acting over unimaginably large distances. It is these forces that create galaxies and stars, that cause the creation of the elements within these massive stars and the dispersal of these elements around a galaxy to enable younger stars and planets to be formed. At another level it is the creation of localized negative entropy systems (though there is net gain of entropy in the larger closed system) which enables life to exist here on Earth.
This ‘creativity’ seems to be built in to the universe that we inhabit and observe, and to the scientist this can be described by formulations such as the weak anthropic principle (that if the universe were not pretty much like it is then we wouldn’t exist and so wouldn’t be here to observe that it is like this).
In the biological and social spheres we can observe similar tendencies towards creativity — in biological reproduction, and in the care that we as humans try to take towards the young and to those responsible for them, and towards each other. And we see it in our own attempts at creativity — in the arts and in the sciences.
As Christians we can associate this ‘tendency towards creativity’ with the divine creativity. In John’s gospel, following the lead of Greek philosophers, this creativity is called the Word, (the ‘Logos’ in Greek), and the writer reminds us that everything was made through this creativity, nothing was made without it, and that it was there from the very beginning. This can be compared with the poetry of Genesis, in which it is similarly the word of God that brings the universe into existence.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us
And then, says the evangelist, ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’. This creativity, this divine spark, was uniquely focussed in a particular human being, the human being we know as Jesus.
This creativity is revealed in Jesus to be at one with the divine love — love for the creation, love for our fellow creatures, and love for the divine creator. This profound religious truth is revealed to us in the incarnation, in the message of Christmas, and recorded for us by the evangelist, John. And as we struggle towards understanding we can understand too that the creativity and love that is at the heart of our own human existence is also part of that divine creativity, the divine inspiration or inbreathing of the Spirit of God.
We saw his glory, such glory as befits the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth
The glory of God, the glory of creation, is revealed in human love, shown to us in the life and teaching of Jesus who cared about all who suffered, and shown to us today by all who follow that same path.
‘Good King Wenceslas looked out,’ we sing in the popular carol, ‘on the feast of Stephen’. Today is the feast of Stephen, perhaps the most under-observed feast in the calendar. Its proximity to the feast of the Nativity is intended to honour Stephen, the first person to suffer death for their faith in Jesus of Nazareth — but in practice this proximity means that most people, even seasoned churchgoers, are taking the day off.
Stephen, though, deserves more than a passing commemoration.
Stephen was a Greek-speaking Jew, described as ‘full of faith and the Holy Spirit’. In the earliest period of the development of the Church, when it had become too large for the Twelve to manage by themselves, he was chosen as one of seven men to look especially after the Greek speakers in the Church, and particularly to ensure that the widows received their share of daily bread.
The initial description of the role of Stephen and his six fellows is a servant ministry, and although not described as such, they are accounted as the first deacons.
But Stephen and the others were not limited to ensuring that the widows received their daily bread. Stephen did great wonders and signs, and disputed with other members of the synagogue. And so he was brought before the Council, and stoned to death.
In the Acts of the Apostles the author tells us two more things about Stephen. First, Stephen is given a lengthy speech in which he describes the great sweep of Jewish history, from Abraham onwards, all pointing towards the birth of Jesus, and in which he criticizes the leaders of the Jews for resisting the Holy Spirit, persecuting the prophets, and not keeping God’s law.
Secondly, the description of Stephen parallels that of Jesus in many ways: being filled with the Holy Spirit; seeing the Son of Man at the right hand of God, as Jesus promised he would be; commending his spirit to Jesus, as Jesus commended his to the Father; kneeling as Jesus did in Gethsemane and asking forgiveness for his persecutors.
Witnessing to Jesus by acting like Jesus in every way is thus seen by the author of Acts to be essential to the Christian life.
GLOBAL ANGLICAN FUTURE CONFERENCE IN HOLY LAND ANNOUNCED BY ORTHODOX PRIMATES
The press release (below the fold) is followed by:
Frequently asked Questions
1. Who is sponsoring the Conference?
The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) is being called by those who took part in the Nairobi Consultation:
Archbishops Peter Akinola (Nigeria), Henry Orombi (Uganda), Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda), Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya), Donald Mtetemela (Tanzania), Archbishop Peter Jensen (Sydney) Archbishop Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria). Bishop Don Harvey (Canada) and Bishop Bill Atwood (Kenya) who also represented Archbishop Greg Venables (Southern Cone). Bishop Bob Duncan (Anglican Communion Network and Common Cause USA.), Bishop Martyn Minns (Convocation of Anglicans in North America), Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India and England), Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England)
Bishop Michael Nazir Ali (Rochester, England) and Bishop Wallace Benn (Lewes, England) were consulted and also form part of the Leadership Team.
These bishops and their colleagues represent over 30 million Anglicans out of the 55 million active Anglicans. ( Nigeria 18m , Uganda 8m Kenya 2.5m Rwanda 1 m Tanzania 1.3 m plus Southern Cone, US, Sydney, England). The notional total of the Communion is 77m. The active membership is nearer 55 m, since of the 26m notional members in CofE 3.7m attend at Christmas Services)
2. Whom do you expect to come?
We will be inviting bishops and their wives, senior clergy, church planters, and lay people including the next generation of young leaders. We aim to make it a Global Anglican Conference with its eye on the future and future leadership.
3. Is this a Global South Initiative?
Not quite. Many of the Primates at the Nairobi Consultation are in the Global South, but it also included Anglican leaders from parts of the world beyond the geographic Global South.
4. Why a pilgrimage?
We are looking to the future of the Global Anglican Communion, which is itself a pilgrimage.
Those who want to hold on to the Biblical and Historical faith need to come together to renew their faith and develop a fresh vision for our common mission. The way we have chosen to do this is to undertake a pilgrimage to a land whose heritage we all share, the land where Jesus Christ was born, ministered, died, rose again, ascended into heaven and sent his Holy Spirit, and where the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out. We believe this will strengthen us for the difficult days ahead.
The conference will outline the mission imperatives for the next 25 years for orthodox Anglicans. It is important therefore to reconnect with our roots in the biblical story.
5. Is not Israel/Palestine a controversial venue?
Israel/Palestine has been a place of conflict for decades. That should not keep us from making pilgrimage to a land that is our common heritage. We want to bring fellowship and bear testimony to the Christian communities in Israel/Palestine. Those of us from Africa are no strangers to the pressure that Christian communities are put under from other religious groups and communities.
6. Why call it in June?
The pilgrimage is to strengthen bishops at a crucial time in the life of the Anglican Communion. Many bishops will not be able to accept the invitation to the Lambeth Conference as their consciences will not allow it. Some will attend both gatherings. The purpose of the consultation is to strengthen them all spiritually.
7. Is it not really an alternative to the Lambeth Conference?
It is not at the same time or in the same region as the Lambeth Conference. So there will be some who will attend both conferences and thus be able to consult with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others there.
As Archbishop Gregory Venables has said: “While there are many calls for shared mission, it clearly must rise from common shared faith. Our pastoral responsibility to the people we lead is now to provide the opportunity to come together around the central and unchanging tenets of the central and unchanging historic Anglican faith. Rather than being subject to the continued chaos and compromise that have dramatically impeded Anglican mission, GAFCON will seek to clarify God’s call at this time and build a network of cooperation for Global mission.”
GAFCON is a call to vision and action for mission based firmly on the “faith once delivered to the saints” and revealed in Scripture, to reform the church and transform persons, communities and societies through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. African Bishops had this focus at their Lagos 2004 conference. The Episcopal church’s agenda has recently overshadowed it. We now need to develop this gospel agenda for all like-minded in the communion.
It is to outline the mission imperatives for the next 25 years and how to begin to respond to them.
It is a pilgrimage to the places of the Biblical story to renew our faith and commitment. It is to envision the Global Anglican Future.
The Lambeth Conference has a different agenda.
8. Is this all over a gay bishop?
GAFCON is about churches being grouped by what they have in common. We’re for growth, we’re for being passionate about the truth. We want to look to the future. That’s what the conference is about - Global Anglican Future.
9. Aren’t you splitting the church?
No. Communion depends on having something in common. Churches in the Global South are growing. They’re passionate about the truth and their faith. We are building on this strength.
As the Anglican Communion develops, some of the old bonds are loosening, and some new bonds are being formed. That’s a good thing. These bonds involve churches which are growing, and which have something distinctive to say to the world. GAFCON is enthusiastic about mission. Its focus is the future.
The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), June 15-22, 2008, The Holy Land
Issued by the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), June 15-22, 2008, The Holy Land
December 26, 2007
GLOBAL ANGLICAN FUTURE CONFERENCE IN HOLY LAND ANNOUNCED BY ORTHODOX PRIMATES
Orthodox Primates with other leading bishops from across the globe are to invite fellow Bishops, senior clergy and laity from every province of the Anglican Communion to a unique eight-day event, to be known as the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) 2008.
The event, which was agreed at a meeting of Primates in Nairobi last week, will be in the form of a pilgrimage back to the roots of the Church’s faith. The Holy Land is the planned venue. From 15-22 June 2008, Anglicans from both the Evangelical and Anglo-catholic wings of the church will make pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where Christ was born, ministered, died, rose again, ascended into heaven, sent his Holy Spirit, and where the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out, to strengthen them for what they believe will be difficult days ahead.
At the meeting were Archbishops Peter Akinola (Nigeria), Henry Orombi (Uganda), Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda), Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya), Donald Mtetemela (Tanzania), Peter Jensen (Sydney), Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria); Bishop Don Harvey (Canada), Bishop Bill Atwood (Kenya) representing Archbishop Greg Venables (Southern Cone) , Bishop Bob Duncan (Anglican Communion Network), Bishop Martyn Minns (Convocation of Anglicans in North America ), Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India and England) and Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England). Bishops Michael Nazir-Ali (Rochester, England), Bishop Wallace Benn (Lewes, England) were consulted by telephone. These leaders represent over 30 million of the 55 million active Anglicans in the world.
Southern Cone Primate Gregory Venables said: “While there are many calls for shared mission, it clearly must rise from common shared faith. Our pastoral responsibility to the people that we lead is now to provide the opportunity to come together around the central and unchanging tenets of the central and unchanging historic Anglican faith. Rather than being subject to the continued chaos and compromise that have dramatically impeded Anglican mission, GAFCON will seek to clarify God’s call at this time and build a network of cooperation for Global mission.”
The gathering set in motion a Global Anglican Future Conference: A Gospel of Power and Transformation. The vision, according to Archbishop Nzimbi is to inform and inspire invited leaders “to seek transformation in our own lives and help impact communities and societies through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Bishops and their wives, clergy and laity, including the next generation of young leaders will attend GAFCON. The GAFCON website is http://www.gafcon.org.
Canon Chris Sugden added: “While this conference is not a specific challenge to the Lambeth Conference, it will provide opportunities for fellowship and care for those who have decided not to attend Lambeth. There was no other place to meet at this critical time for the future of the Church than in the Holy Land .”
The full text of the sermon preached by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his cathedral on Christmas Day can be found here.
BabyBlue published a long article concerning the Virginia property trial,The Division of The Episcopal Church: First Post-Trial Briefs Filed Today.
Mark Harris distilled from that article the following: CANA argues for two Anglican entities, affirms schism. The key paragraph seems to be this one:
“As a result of these recent changes, the Anglican Communion is now divided into two “branches”—those that relate to all provinces that relate to the See of Canterbury, and those that relate only to those who are understood as adhering to the historic faith, doctrine, and discipline of the Anglican Communion. See Sept. 14, 2007, Tr. 41 (directing the parties to address the branch issue at the Anglican Communion level). The Church of Nigeria, with which the CANA Congregations have affiliated, is the principal leader of this new branch. Tr. 363-64, 372-74 (Minns); Tr. 639-40 (Yisa). Indeed, TEC Presiding Bishop Schori herself referred to CANA as a distinct “part” or “branch of the Anglican Communion” repeatedly in her deposition. Schori Dep, Designations 54-56, 79, 83. The evidence at trial thus independently satisfied the “branch” requirement of § 57-9 at the Anglican Communion level.”
bb helpfully comments that
The post-trial briefs from both parties are now up and can be downloaded from here: http://www.anglicandistrictofvirginia.org/resources/legal-resources
Scroll down that page for the full set of legal documents. For the post-trial briefs in PDF format:
Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times that The Christmas story allows us to behold God’s glory.
Ruth Gledhill reports: Make every Sunday a Christmas Day, churches told.
Earlier, The Times also had Top ten Carols and things you didn’t know about them.
Despite the seasonal humbug, Christmas has not become ‘content-free’ just yet, writes Judith Maltby in the Guardian.
And also in the Guardian Mark Lawson writes about Victorian intolerance.
The Associated Press reports on what an astrophysicist thinks about “the star in the East”.
In the Telegraph Christopher Howse writes about The shepherds’ dog and the angel.
Giles Fraser wrote in the Church Times about Learning to spot a fading pleasure.
And the Church Times had this leader: Prepare to meet thy maker.
Updated again Wednesday afternoon
See here for previous update.
Religious Intelligence has a report by George Conger that says:
THE DIOCESE of San Joaquin has welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent letter to the Primates, seeing it as a validation of its secession from The Episcopal Church to the Church of the Province of the Southern Cone.
“I find it difficult to imagine any other reading of Canterbury’s Advent letter than the intent to recognize — or maybe I should say, to allow San Joaquin to be recognized as a legitimate member of the Anglican Communion,” Diocesan spokesman the Rev Van McCalister (pictured) told The Church of England Newspaper…
The Church Times report is not available until next week, except to subscribers.
The Living Church has a report by Steve Waring of an interview with Bishop Schofield, see Bishop Schofield: ‘Not My Wish to Leave’:
“You are talking to someone who loves the tradition of the church. It is my heritage,” Bishop Schofield said during an interview with a reporter from The Living Church. “I don’t have any personal antagonism toward The Episcopal Church or its leaders, but day by day they seem to depart more and more from what is asked of us in scripture.
“It is not my wish to leave The Episcopal Church. If I saw signs that they were returning [to the historic faith] it is possible I would approach my convention about revisiting this decision.”
And an earlier Living Church report is titled San Joaquin Vicar Questions Bishop Schofield’s Visitation.
Episcopal News Service reports that Central, Southern California newspapers will carry Episcopal Church advertisement.
The advertisement itself can be seen as a PDF file here. The section on the San Joaquin diocese reads as follows:
The Diocese of San Joaquin
The Episcopal Church continues in Central California amid a current change in diocesan leadership. Assisting in this transition are members of Remain Episcopal (www.remainepiscopal.org) and Holy Family Parish in Fresno (www.holyfamilychurchfresno.org).
Resonating with the season of the Nativity, the Fresno parish’s name recalls Mary and Joseph’s faithfulness in overcoming their challenges in welcoming the Christ Child into the world. The Church’s historical tradition holds that Mary’s own parents, Joachim and Anne, also responded uniquely to God’s call during their lifetimes. It is for Joachim that California’s San Joaquin Valley and the local Episcopal diocese is named.
Earlier, Episcopal News Service had this report: SAN JOAQUIN: Atwater vicar asks bishop to clarify planned visit:
The vicar of St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Atwater, California, in the Diocese of San Joaquin has written to Bishop John-David Schofield questioning his plan to visit the congregation December 23 and asking for clarification about his status as a bishop in the Episcopal Church…
…”We would like you to state to us your pastoral and canonical relationship with St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, and myself,” Risard wrote in his letter. “You publicly stated at our diocesan convention that you no longer are the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, and instead you are a Bishop within the Province of the Southern Cone. As such, we understand your visit is simply to worship with us; there will be no liturgical role for you, neither celebrating nor preaching. The Episcopal Church welcomes all, and you are most welcome to worship, with the purpose of seeking transformation and reconciliation.”
…Furthermore, I understood the Convention’s actions as a request that I provide episcopal oversight of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin under the Province of the Southern Cone of South America. Accepting such an invitation to be a part of the Southern Cone’s House of Bishops may not necessarily define my relationship with The Episcopal Church particularly since this may only be a temporary arrangement. This is true in light of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent Letter in which he proposes facilitated conversations not only between us but among others in the Anglican Communion.
The purpose of December 8th’s vote, then, was not to change anything within the Diocese but quite to the contrary. With the status of The Episcopal Church’s member-ship in the Anglican Communion looking more and more precarious, the people of San Joaquin simply wanted to remain what we have always been, namely Anglican…
Update Monday morning
Fr Jake reports: Early Reports from St. Nicholas, Atwater
What happened when Bishop Schofield visited.
Update Monday afternoon
Rebecca Trounson has a report in the Los Angeles Times Bishop at forefront of Episcopal divide.
Update Wednesday afternoon
Another report from St Nicholas Atwater.
Pat Ashworth reports in the Church Times Williams wants to see main antagonists face to face.
George Conger reports in the Church of England Newspaper Archbishop’s warning to conservatives.
The Living Church had Archbishop of Canterbury Addresses Communion Tensions in Letter to Primates.
The Tablet has a report by Victoria Combe which is not yet available online but is headlined Williams unveils plan to save Anglican Communion and starts out:
The Archbishop of Canterbury delivered a master plan for the survival of the Anglican Communion last week, warning the opposing sides that refusing to meet was “a refusal of the Cross and so of the Resurrection”.
In his Advent letter, sent to 38 primates across the world, Archbishop Rowan Williams sought to offer strong leadership to his increasingly fractured Church…”
My news report on this, published in the Church Times last week, is now available here.
The statement that the diocese issued to me while I was preparing that article was previously published here and is below the fold.
The full context for that statement was unfortunately not included in the Church Times article as published. I reproduce below a longer version of my report.
Priddis now regrets but remains impenitent
THE Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Anthony Priddis, has said he now regrets “a lot of what has happened” in the case of unlawful discrimination against John Reaney. He lost the case (News, 20 July), but he has not changed his opinion, he said last Friday.
Bishop Priddis said in a witness statement: “I am very sorry for all the hurt and pain my decision not to appoint [him] has caused”, but he went on: “my opinion was, and still is, that at the time of the interview [he] did not have sufficient stability of life to give the assurances the Tribunal have found I was entitled to require of him.”
An employment tribunal at Cardiff last week adjourned before deciding on financial compensation and other remedies, which the parties had failed to agree privately in the four months since judgment was given in July. During the hearing, the chairman repeatedly urged the parties to seek agreement. No decision will now be issued until at least mid-January. A Stonewall spokesman said afterwards: “It is deeply regrettable that John has been forced to come back to endure further unnecessary cross-examination, which has been deeply distressing”.
Counsel for the diocese interrogated Mr Reaney as to why he did not apply for two similar posts recently advertised by Worcester and Guildford dioceses. Mr Reaney said that he lacked the confidence to seek any other church position after the way the bishop had treated him.
When asked whether or not the diocese would in future insert a reference to the employment regulations in its advertising, the bishop was hesitant: “We wouldn’t want to be in a position where we discourage people of homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation to apply for posts”. Later a diocesan spokesperson explained: “Given the judgement of the tribunal the only “safe” option to avoid future discrimination claims is for the Diocese to express a Genuine Occupational Requirement… This we do not wish to do… We are therefore seeking advice on how we can maintain the teachings of the Church without transgressing the law.”
The bishop took strong exception to adverse press reports, saying: “The media attention has, in my opinion, made matters worse for myself, the claimant and the Church of England as a whole.” He insisted the coverage had been “driven by Stonewall” particularly the Bigot of the Year Award. He said: “when they make derogatory statements about me personally, then that’s clearly hurtful to me”. Responding to this, Stonewall said: “The only person responsible for the media coverage is the bishop himself, who was found to have acted unlawfully”.
Here is what the Diocese of Hereford told me on Tuesday 11 December when I asked them to clarify the comments made by the Bishop of Hereford at the employment tribunal hearing in Cardiff on Friday 7 December:
“Given the judgement of the tribunal the only “safe” option to avoid future discrimination claims is for the Diocese to express a Genuine Occupational Requirement and claim exemption from the Sexual Orientation Regulation 2003.
This we do not wish to do as we wish to encourage people of any sexual orientation to play a full part in the life of the Church and to apply for all Diocesan posts.
However, we also require those in leadership positions within the Diocese, and the DYO is such a position, to uphold, support and promote the doctrine of the Church of England. We are therefore seeking advice on how we can maintain the teachings of the Church without transgressing the law.”
The grace of communion, spelled with a small “c” is a talk given at the consultation by Dr Jenny Te Paa.
A new way in the wilderness is a sermon by the Very Revd Tracey Lind, Dean of Trinity Cathedral, Cleveland, delivered upon her return from the consultation.
Two major articles have been published at Daily Episcopalian:
“Our Constitutional Heritage: Why Polity and Canon Law Matter” by the Rt. Rev. Stacy F. Sauls, Bishop of Lexington, was presented at the Chicago Consultation at Seabury-Western Seminary, December 5, 2007.
Read it at The wisdom of the Constitution.
In February, the Dar es Salaam Communique from the Primates of the Anglican Communion created uncertainty in the Episcopal Church about what individuals or bodies had the authority to respond to the Primates’ recommendations. The Episcopal Church’s response has been made, but the nature of authority in our Church remains poorly understood. Sally Johnson, chancellor to Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, lays out her opinion:
or read the short version here:
Summary of Authority in The Episcopal Church as it Relates to the Demands of the February 2007 Primates Communiqué
Several reports from Northern Virginia:
The recent legal proceedings are discussed by Robert L. McCan in As we await a decision, at Daily Episcopalian.
The Fairfax Times published CANA split on issue of women priests
The Falls Church News-Press had Defectors from Episcopal Church Revert to Ban on Women Priests.
Julia Duin wrote on her blog about Chasing Archbishop Akinola.
This week’s Tablet has an article by the Archbishop of Canterbury which looks forward to next month’s centenary Week of Christian Unity.
His article is titled No common language yet. It starts this way:
A hundred years on from the establishing of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, how much further forward are we? And what exactly are we praying for during this week of prayer? On the whole, it’s become a fixture for most “mainstream” denominations, a few days when the more enthusiastic or more biddable members of the congregation turn up to someone else’s church for a well-mannered but often rather lukewarm joint service or two, or perhaps for a talk by a prominent local leader.
The aspiration that we end up relating better with each other, or even that we end up more willing to engage in witness and work together is entirely worthy, and is probably widely fulfilled. But are we praying for anything more than this?
For some people, the answer is clearly “no”. To look beyond this fostering of local goodwill, they would say, is always in danger of slipping towards the yearning for some universal institution with clear central control - at worst, a Pullmanesque Magisterium, some people’s nightmare of Roman Catholicism…
The Diocese of Central Florida published A Protocol for Those Desiring to Disaffiliate From The Episcopal Church.
Bishop John Howe wrote this letter to his clergy.
Episcopal News Service published this report, CENTRAL FLORIDA: Leadership outlines ‘disaffiliation protocol’.
The diocesan convention meets in late January and will be asked to approve the constitutional change [PDF file] which adds wording relating to the Anglican Communion but does not remove the wording relating to The Episcopal Church.
Anglicans need deep learning not cheap victory is the title of an article published by Ekklesia and written by Savi Hensman.
Some church leaders caught up in the sexuality row not only refuse to consider scholarship which does not conform to their own perspective but also demand the right to prohibit others from acting on the fruits of study. Anglicans need to be learners not warriors.
Updated again Monday morning
They held a meeting on 18 December and issued a Communiqué. The text of it is here.
ENS has a report on this, Common Cause Leadership Council outlines plans for an ‘Anglican union’.
Anglican Communion Institute has “We Know What Hour It Is”: A Comment on the Advent Pastoral and Common Cause (h/t Fulcrum)
The comments thread to the ACI article shown above is especially interesting. For example, Dan Martins writes:
This makes my blood run cold. In January 2004 I was present at a meeting that was apparently a direct result of the one referenced by Dr Radner. It took place at Christ Church, Plano, and I was there as an official representative (appointed by Bishop Schofield, along with another cleric and two lay persons) of the Diocese of San Joaquin. It was at this meeting that the Network charter was “perfected” in debate, and adopted–so far as I can recall, unanimously–by those present. It was also at this meeting that Geoff Chapman, who was there, was rebuked formally–and he apologized formally–for circulating the now infamous memo outlining a “replacement” strategy. The assembly disavowed the Chapman Memo, and I recall that such a disavowal was a condition laid down by Bishop Howe for his continued participation in the meeting. The ACN charter that was adopted, of course, pledged to operate within the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. There were some others present as well–non-Episcopalians –who were seated at a special table in the back of the room and referred to as “common cause partners.”
Many Reappraisers have spoken of a Grand Conspiracy to effect a coup d’eglise within American Anglicanism. I have always resisted such talk because I believed myself to be enough of an insider to know that it was unfounded. After all, I raised my hand in assent when the motion to disavow the Chapman Memo was made. I am now beginning to wonder whether I have been duped and played…
And William R MacKaye writes:
…As a journalistically trained observer of the present Episcopal unpleasantness (though scarcely a disinterested observer), it has been obvious to me for some years that a portion of those in the conservative camp were not debating in good faith. To the contrary, they were colluding to create a separate North American jurisdiction that would displace the Episcopal Church as the recognized Anglican presence on this continent. And even more important, they had secured financial resources that would generously support their activities despite the modest number of their supporters.
As soon as it became clear that the archbishop of Canterbury could not support such a strategy, sharing communion with the see of Canterbury ceased to be a sine qua non for being Anglican, so far as these advocates were concerned….
Read them all and others too.
Updated Friday evening
I was away when the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter first appeared, so I will refer to the Episcopal Café roundup of press reports, rather than create a new one. See The press reads The Letter.
Episcopal Café also has this excellent roundup of blog reactions, Reactions to the Archbishop’s letter. Most of these are from Americans.
Here’s an English reaction from MadPriest.
Changing Attitude has issued this Changing Attitude England response to 2007 Advent Letter.
Conservative websites do appear to be divided in their opinions:
Kendall Harmon quite liked it, see his detailed initial response.
Anglican Mainstream (i.e. Chris Sugden) doesn’t like it, see The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent Letter.
Fulcrum liked it: Fulcrum Response to the 2007 Advent Letter.
CANA Suffragan Bishop David Anderson didn’t like it at all: Lambeth Palace/Anglican Communion Office Anglicanism has failed - Bishop David Anderson.
The Ugley Vicar thought it was really rather good, see Leadership and Lambeth - Dr Williams’ Advent challenge to the Communion. He had further thoughts, see The Archbishop’s Egg — what is good (and what is not so good) about the proposals in Rowan Williams’ Advent letter?
The Church of England has published the office and working costs of its bishops for 2006. Here is the press release.
The 2006 office and working costs of bishops in the Church of England are published today. Figures for individual bishops were first published, for the year 2000, in December 2001. Bishops’ office and working costs were previously published as a total figure.
In 2006, the Church Commissioners funded the ministry of Church of England bishops by some £15.9 million, figures from the House of Bishops show. Of that sum, £4.6m related to stipends, National Insurance and pension contributions for the 44 diocesan and 69 suffragan/full-time assistant bishops. The remaining £11.3m related to bishops’ office and working costs, most of which pays for the salaries and pensions of office staff, as set out in this report.
Copies of Bishops’ office and working costs for the year ended 31 December 2006 are available from Bishoprics and Cathedrals Dept, The Church Commissioners, Church House, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3AZ, tel 020 7898 1058.
The booklet includes a full description of the important role played by bishops locally, regionally and nationally.
The booklet for 2006, and for previous years back to 2000, can be downloaded from here.
The Presiding Bishop wrote again to Bishop Schofield. Read her letter in full at Episcopal News Service San Joaquin bishop asked to confirm status after vote to leave the Episcopal Church.
Bishop Schofield wrote a pastoral letter to the diocese of San Joaquin. Read that letter in full at SAN JOAQUIN: Pastoral letter says diocese is no longer part of Episcopal Church.
Meanwhile, the Stockton Record continues to cover the story. See Episcopal split in California has some historical precedent. And also this and this.
El Bohemio News has A Church in Conflict – Update – AN ALLEGATION OF MANIPULATING THE VOTE.
The Church Times had this report by Pat Ashworth: San Joaquin moves to ‘assured place’.
The Bakersfield TV station, KBAK-TV has Local church members want to “Remain Episcopal” which includes a video report.
National Public Radio had an audio report here: Episcopal Diocese Secedes over Role of Gays.
The BBC earlier had an audio report here.
The Archbishop of York writes in the Observer I ripped up my dog collar to help topple this brutal tyrant.
Mark Vernon at Comment is free asks “Is philosophy just tinkering around the edges of science, or can a meeting of the disciplines give us deeper insghts into the universe?” in God and the multiverse.
Shelina Zahra Janmohamed argues in the Guardian’s Face to faith column that Spiritual journeys like the hajj must challenge body and soul.
Christopher Howse in the Telegraph writes on Judging when you must fight a war
Also in the Telegraph Sarah Todd hears how one Christmas congregation found room at the inn in Fathers, sons and holy spirits.
Joanna Moorhead in the Times writes that in deepest Surrey, families are flocking to watch a cast of real people in a most extraordinary nativity play O little town of Wintershall.
Also in the Times Ruth Gledhill writes about a study that argues Plagues of Egypt ‘caused by nature, not God’.
In the Church Times Giles Fraser writes about US suburbs: the home of segregation.
Today’s Guardian has an article by Stephen Bates Williams condemns breakaway bishops in gay rights row. That is an edited version and Stephen has kindly sent us his original full article which follows below.
Archbishop slams the splitters
Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican communion, yesterday condemned attempts by conservative church leaders to undermine the US Episcopal Church for its support for gay rights and effectively refused calls to disinvite American bishops from next year’s Lambeth Conference of all the church’s bishops.
In a long-anticipated Advent message to the 38 primates of the communion at which the archbishop had promised to respond to the crisis, Dr Williams criticised African and other church leaders who have consecrated their own American bishops and offered to look after the small number of dioceses whose conservative American bishops have said they wish to separate from the US church and seek oversight from foreign provinces. The first American diocese, San Joaquin in California, formally announced its secession at its synod last weekend and its intention to align itself to the tiny Anglican archdiocese of the Southern Cone, which covers most of South America.
In words which directly rebuke conservatives who claim theirs is the true and only voice of authentic Anglican identity, Dr Williams stated: “Not everyone carrying the name of Anglican can claim to speak authentically for the identity we share as a global fellowship….A great deal of the language that is around in the communion at present seems to presuppose that any change from our current deadlock is impossible, that division is unavoidable and that such division represents so radical a difference in fundamental faith that no recognition and future co-operation can be imagined. I cannot accept these assumptions and I do not believe as Christians we should see them as beyond challenge.”
In a passage which will be particularly galling to conservative evangelicals, especially those who regard the archbishop as Biblically unsound, Dr Williams cited St Paul, the sole author in the New Testament to explicitly condemn homosexuality and so regarded as a definitive spokesman for orthodoxy, saying: “The gospels and the epistles of Paul alike warn us against a hasty final judgement on the spiritual state of our neighbours….The challenge is not best addressed by a series of ad-hoc arrangements with individual provinces elsewhere…this is not doing anything to advance or assist local solutions that will have some theological and canonical solidity.”
Dr Williams’s lengthy and detailed statement, which went through numerous revisions by his staff at Lambeth Palace, is likely to infuriate conservative Anglican pressure groups who have been demanding that the church should discipline or expel the Americans for electing the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. The archbishop met all the US bishops in New Orleans in September when they formulated a statement agreeing not to endorse any further gay bishops or to authorise formal blessings services for same sex couples.
His silence since that meeting has created a vacuum which has exasperated both liberals and conservatives anxious for him to give a lead. The statement now directly contradicts the assertion of the Most. Rev. Gregory Venables, the English Evangelical presiding bishop of the Southern Cone, who has made no secret of wishing to recruit disaffected American dioceses and who let it be known, following a meeting in London with Dr Williams in September that he believed the Archbishop thought the plan was “a sensible way forward”.
Lambeth Palace did not publicly criticise Bishop Venables until this week. One senior insider at the Palace told the Guardian that the idea that Dr Williams supported the move was complete nonsense.There are signs of divisions between senior members of the archbishop’s staff and frustration over his perceived dithering.
As the message makes clear that Bishop Robinson will not be invited to next year’s conference either, the official said it contained “something to annoy everyone.”
Dr Williams put forward two proposals to keep the American Church inside the Anglican communion: “professionally facilitated conversations” between US leaders and their American and outside critics to see if they can achieve better mutual understanding, reduce tensions and clarify options and the setting up of a group of primates to produce proposals to put to next year’s Lambeth Conference on the issues that the gay crisis has thrown up. Neither last night seemed likely to satisfy the church’s conservatives who have maintained for several years that the time for listening is past.
Other press reports
Ruth Gledhill in The Times Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, warns American church leaders to curb their pro-gay agenda
Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph Williams warns bishops in gay rights row
The Archbishop of Canterbury has released an Advent Letter to the Primates of the Anglican Communion & Moderators of the United Churches.
Greetings in the name of the One ‘who is and was and is to come, the Almighty’, as we prepare in this Advent season to celebrate once more his first coming and pray for the grace to greet him when he comes in glory. You will by now, I hope, have received my earlier letter summarising the responses from Primates to the Joint Standing Committee’s analysis of the New Orleans statement from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church. In that letter, I promised to write with some further reflections and proposals, and this is the purpose of the present communication…
The Archbishop of Canterbury has released a Christmas Message to the Anglican Communion.
The Christmas Message is also available for the first time as a podcast.
One of the strangest yet most moving expressions in the New Testament is a verse in the Letter to the Hebrews (11.16): God ‘is not ashamed to be called their God’. The writer is talking about the history of God’s people. When they have been faithful to God, faithful in keeping on moving onwards in faith rather than settling down in self-satisfaction, when they are true pilgrims, then God is content to be known as their God…
Full text below the fold.
One of the strangest yet most moving expressions in the New Testament is a verse in the Letter to the Hebrews (11.16): God ‘is not ashamed to be called their God’. The writer is talking about the history of God’s people. When they have been faithful to God, faithful in keeping on moving onwards in faith rather than settling down in self-satisfaction, when they are true pilgrims, then God is content to be known as their God. He declares himself to be the God of pilgrims, of people who know that their lives are incomplete and that they are still journeying towards the fullness of God’s promises. Visiting refugee camps in the Middle East, as I did this October, brings home so powerfully what it is to be literally and absolutely homeless, not able to be confident in any resources, inner or outer. People in these terrible circumstances will never be complacent, they will always be looking for a future. They are in the most obvious way those whom God is not ashamed to be with, people whose God he is happy to be. He is at home with the homeless. But it is also an image of God’s relationship with all those who are homeless or wandering in other ways.
What an odd expression, to say that God is not ‘ashamed’! It’s as though we are being reassured that God, in spite of everything, doesn’t mind being seen in our company. Most of us know the experience of being embarrassed by someone we are with – children are embarrassed by parents, parents by children; I have sometimes found myself walking down the road with someone who is talking loudly or behaving oddly, and wishing I weren’t there. But God is not embarrassed by human company when that company is turning away from self-satisfaction and ready to move on. We might think that God would be ‘ashamed’ of human company that was imperfect, confused, even sinful. But God is happy to be the God of confused and sinful people when they recognise their own confusion and face the truth of their need. That’s what the great parables of Jesus in St Luke’s Gospel are so often about, especially the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.
So at Christmas, God shows that he is not ashamed to be with us. He has heard our cries of weakness and self-doubt and unhappy longing, he has seen our wanderings and anxieties, and he is not ashamed to be alongside us in this world, walking with us in our pilgrimage. And because he is content to walk with us, we are challenged about whose company we might be ashamed to share. So easily we decide that we would be ashamed to share the company of the sinful, the doubting or the outcast. But God, it seems, is not ashamed to be seen with such people. If he is ashamed to be called the God of any human group, the text from Hebrews strongly suggests that he is most ‘embarrassed’ by those who think they have arrived at the end of their journey, who think they have already attained perfection (compare St Paul’s angry and scornful words in I Corinthians 4.8 – ‘Already you have become rich!’). And it is clear why God would be ashamed to be the God of such people: they behave and speak as if they didn’t really need God, as if they didn’t really need grace and hope and forgiveness.
God loves the company of those who know their need, and that is why he comes at Christmas to stand with them, to live with them and to die and rise for them. He is the God who blesses the poor – not only those who are materially poor, but those who are without the ‘riches’ of self-satisfaction and complacency, those who know all too well how far they fall short of real and full humanity. And so we are to pass on that blessing to the poor of every sort, those who are without material resources and those who are ‘poor in spirit’ because they know their hunger and need. Let us ask ourselves honestly whose company we are ashamed to be seen in – and then ask where God would be. If he has embraced the failing and fragile world of human beings who know their needs, then we must be there with him.
May God give us every blessing and joy in the Christmas Season.
Here is what the Diocese of Hereford told me on Tuesday 11 December when I asked them to clarify the comments made by the Bishop of Hereford at the employment tribunal hearing in Cardiff on Friday 7 December:
“Given the judgement of the tribunal the only “safe” option to avoid future discrimination claims is for the Diocese to express a Genuine Occupational Requirement and claim exemption from the Sexual Orientation Regulation 2003.
This we do not wish to do as we wish to encourage people of any sexual orientation to play a full part in the life of the Church and to apply for all Diocesan posts.
However, we also require those in leadership positions within the Diocese, and the DYO is such a position, to uphold, support and promote the doctrine of the Church of England. We are therefore seeking advice on how we can maintain the teachings of the Church without transgressing the law.”
The Church Times has a story on this, Priddis ‘sorry for hurt’, but it is only available to subscribers at present.
Marilyn McCord Adams delivered a paper entitled “Shaking the Foundations: LGBT Bishops and Blessings in the Fullness of Time”.
Read the full text on Daily Episcopalian over here.
Read the Episcopal News Service report here.
Check at Episcopal Café for more papers soon.
Here’s the press release from: The Chicago Consultation
International Anglican group initiates “strategy of inclusion”
Chicago Consultation celebrates contributions of gay Christians, urges blessing of same-sex relationships, calls homophobia “a sin whose end time is now”.
(Evanston, Ill.) Anglicans from around the world met near Chicago last week to build international coalitions and develop a strategy for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in the life of the Church.
Meeting at Seabury-Western Seminary, Dec. 5-7, the 50-member group known as the Chicago Consultation urged leaders of the Episcopal Church to permit the blessing of same-sex relationships and to remove barriers that keep gay candidates from being elected as bishops.
“Some people call it the gay agenda, but we call it the Gospel Agenda,” said the Rev. Bonnie Perry, rector of All Saints Church, Chicago, co-convener of the Consultation. “We are asking our Church and our Communion to see what God has created and know that it is good.”
The Consultation also called upon the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, to invite Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as a full participant to the Lambeth Conference. Robinson, a member of the Consultation, is the only diocesan bishop in the Anglican Communion living openly in a same-sex relationship.
“We wanted to affirm Gene,” said Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Diocese of Washington, “but we also wanted to affirm all of the anonymous gay and lesbian Christians who have graced the Church with their God-given gifts—even when the Church has been unwilling to receive them.”
Participants from Africa, England and New Zealand joined fellow Anglicans from Central, North and South America in pledging to work against schismatic leaders who have sought to gain power in the Communion by turning marginalized groups against one another.
“Homophobia is a sin whose end time is now,” said the Rev. Canon Marilyn McCord Adams, Regius Professor of Divinity at Christ Church, Oxford University, in a paper opening the consultation.
Human institutions are riddled with systemic evils, she said. “Our calling is to discern which ones are ripe for uprooting and to take the lead in eradicating them, beginning in the garden behind our own house!”
In three intensive days, punctuated by periods of silent prayer, participants heard papers by Adams, Bishop Stacy Sauls of the Diocese of Lexington, Dean Jenny Te Paa of St. John’s College, Auckland, New Zealand and the Rev. Frederick Quinn of Salt Lake City, Utah and began to develop strategies to advance the cause of full inclusion at the Lambeth Conference in July 2008, and at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Anaheim in 2009.
Te Paa also preached at a Eucharist celebrated with members of the Consultation and the seminary community.
While developing what they dubbed a “strategy of inclusion,” participants also voiced opposition to the current draft of a proposed Anglican Covenant, which would create a centralized governing body with authority over member Churches for the first time in the Communion’s history.
“There was tremendous energy in the plenary sessions, and even more in the breakout groups,” said the Rev. Ruth Meyers, academic dean at Seabury, and co-convener of the Consultation. “It was such a talented and committed group that eventually we abandoned some of the formal presentations and started identifying our priorities and making plans.”
Participants focused particular attention on building international coalitions to work against what the Rev. Mpho Tutu, executive director of the Tutu Institute for Prayer and Pilgrimage in Alexandria, Va., called “interlocking oppressions,” the web of economic, political and social factors that determine who has access to power, resources and social approval, and who does not.
“The issue is human suffering and the attitudes that cause it,” said Bishop Celso Franco de Oliveira of Rio de Janeiro.
Before adjourning, the group made plans to:
The consultation includes two Primates of the Anglican Communion—Archbishop Martin de Jesus Barahona of Central America and Archbishop Carlos Touche-Porter of Mexico, who was unable to attend due to illness; 12 bishops from the Episcopal Church, including 10 diocesan bishops or bishops-elect; four members of the Church’s Executive Council; numerous General Convention deputies, and representatives of groups such as Integrity, Claiming the Blessing and Inclusive Church.
Bonnie Anderson, president of the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies, attended the consultation as an observer, and said she hopes other groups in the Church will invite her to their meetings in a similar capacity so that she can familiarize herself with their concerns.
Participants from other Churches in the Anglican Communion included the Very Rev. Victor Atta-Baffoe, dean of St. Nicholas College, Cape Coast, Ghana; Bishop Michael Ingham of the Diocese of New Westminster, Canada; Te Paa; the Rev. Jane Shaw, dean of divinity, New College, Oxford and the Rev. Giles Fraser, founder of Inclusive Church in the United Kingdom.
The steering committee was convened by Meyers and Perry and included Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta, who was unable to attend the meeting; Chane; the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of Seabury-Western; the Rev. Gay Jennings, associate director of the CREDO Institute; Jim Naughton, canon for communications and advancement in the Diocese of Washington; Robinson and Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Mary Wolfe Professor of Historical Theology at Episcopal Divinity School.
The consultation was supported by several grants, including one from the Arcus Foundation of Kalamazoo, Mich., which works to “achieve social justice that is inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity and race.” Following the conference, the group received a $60,000 grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Philadelphia, Pa., to support its future work.
The text of the address given at the Drenched in Grace conference by the Revd Dr Louis Weil is now available at the Inclusive Church website.
Read it in full at When signs signify - the Baptismal Covenant in its sacramental context.
If the comments we receive are anything to go by TA readers may be most interested in what the Archbishop said about gay clergy but do read all of the interview.
Ruth Gledhill reproduces most of the interview in today’s Times: Family and God keep me going - even if they all think I’m an idiot.
Episcopal News Service reports: Continuing Episcopalians making plans to reconstitute Diocese of San Joaquin.
Local leaders, along with those from the wider church, are already making plans for the continuation of the Diocese of San Joaquin following a vote to disassociate from the Episcopal Church.
Michael Glass, a San Rafael, California-based attorney who represents congregations and individual Episcopalians who wish to remain in the Episcopal Church, told Episcopal News Service (ENS) December 11 that he, local leaders, Chancellor to the Presiding Bishop David Booth Beers, and leaders from Episcopal dioceses surrounding San Joaquin “are coming together very soon to finalize our coordinated efforts to provide for the leadership needs, the legal and pastoral issues, and the financial concerns of our brothers and sisters in San Joaquin, and to provide for the continuation of the diocese.”
The Rev. Robert Moore will meet with the group as well. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori appointed Moore “to provide an ongoing pastoral presence to the continuing Episcopalians in the Diocese of San Joaquin,” said the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop.
Moore is the husband of Bishop Suffragan Bavi Edna “Nedi” Rivera of Olympia, the daughter of San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield’s predecessor, Bishop Victor Rivera.
But it is not straightforward. Read the rest of the report about the intimidating threats to clergy, and the problems of mission congregations.
This week, in the Church Times a letter was published from Canon Giles Goddard which is reproduced at InclusiveChurch.
The earlier letters to the editor to which this is a direct response can be found here, at Bishops Iker and Duncan, and the Episcopal Church in the United States.
The employment tribunal hearing last week in the case of John Reaney and the Diocese of Hereford adjourned without the Remedies being settled. The tribunal chairman said it would be at least mid-January before judgment would be given. That’s yet another month’s delay in a case which started over a year ago.
Some press reports:
And in today’s Guardian, Stephen Bates has a piece in the People column.
Updated Tuesday morning
As noted by Episcopal Café an email from The Rev. Canon Dr. James M. Rosenthal, Anglican Communion Office, Director of Communications says:
“Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has not in any way endorsed the actions of the Primate of the Southern Cone, Bishop Gregory Venables, in his welcoming of dioceses, such as San Joaquin in the Episcopal Church, to become part of his province in South America,” a spokesman for the Anglican Communion said.
Episcopal News Service has Archbishop did not endorse Southern Cone’s invitation to San Joaquin, Anglican Communion spokesman says which includes various earlier quotes relating to this issue, and Anglican Mainstream has this report which quotes Gregory Venables himself as saying:
“I have neither sought nor claimed his endorsement for our actions in Canada or the Diocese of San Joaquin. At the same time however he has been informed of the steps we were planning in North America. If that hadn’t been the case we wouldn’t have moved ahead.”
Updated again Tuesday evening
has been is still no at last a media report so far of the episcopal consecrations which took place yesterday afternoon in Virginia. Four additional suffragan bishops were consecrated for CANA by Archbishop Peter Akinola. This is the first such event to take place in the USA. Correction It has been pointed out that some AMiA consecrations took place in Denver in June 2001.
Update the report is in the Fairfax Times and is headlined CANA split on issue of women priests.
Bishop Frank Lyons of the Province of the Southern Cone, Bishop John Guernsey, Missionary Bishop for the Province of Uganda, and Bishop Bob Duncan, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, Bishop John Ball, Diocese of Chelmsford, Church of England, Bishop Ben Kawshi and many other bishops from the Province of Nigeria, and other bishops all took part in the consecrations this afternoon at Church of the Epiphany, Herndon, VA.
Bishop Martyn Minns delivered this address last Thursday (PDF file).
The order of service for the consecrations is also available as a PDF file.
Biographies of the four are included here.
Two earlier press reports:
New bishops set for Anglican breakaways by Julia Duin Washington Times
Ex-Episcopal splinter group expanding, official says Washington DC Examiner
More photos are here.
Updated again Tuesday evening
Sunday Telegraph Jonathan Wynne-Jones Diocese splits from Church in gay row
The Living Church has this interesting account headlined Presiding Bishop Eyes New Leadership for Diocese of San Joaquin.
Remain Episcopal had issued this press release in November: San Joaquin Diocese Will Continue With or Without Bishop Schofield (PDF file). The website of this organisation is here.
The official press release from the diocese is here: Diocese of San Joaquin Votes to Disassociate with The Episcopal Church. It includes the assertion that:
The Diocese of San Joaquin was founded as a missionary diocese in 1911 and became a full autonomous diocese in 1961.
Gregory Venables sent this message to San Joaquin.
Daily Telegraph Anglican diocese quits over gay rights by Catherine Elsworth
Los Angeles Times Some parishes won’t secede by Rebecca Trounson
The Remain Episcopal website has various messages of support linked from the home page.
A representative of the Diocesan Office said that Schofield told the news media Friday during the convention that individual parishes within the diocese are free to remain in the Episcopal Church as long as they settle any outstanding debts first.
So…what does that mean for the 20 San Joaquin congregations (out of 56) currently in mission status?
Updated Sunday morning
Episcopal News Service reports on the voting at the diocesan convention today.
Read San Joaquin votes to leave Episcopal Church, realign with Southern Cone by Pat McCaughan.
The full text of the bishop’s convention address can be found in this PDF file. And the Living Church has a story on that, Bishop Schofield Urges San Joaquin Delegates to Take Leap of Faith.
Initial press reports of this:
Associated Press Diocese Breaks With Episcopal Church
New York Times Episcopal Diocese Votes to Secede From Church by Neela Banerjee
Los Angeles Times Episcopal diocese secedes in rift over gays by Rebecca Trounson (and in the print edition with the headline California diocese leaves Episcopal Church in rift over gays, theology)
Central Valley Business Times Central Valley Episcopal diocese splits from national church
San Francisco Chronicle Episcopal fold loses 1st diocese - in valley
Fresno Bee Diocese splits from national Episcopalians
Modesto Bee Diocese will leave Episcopal Church
Bakersfield Californian Diocese votes to split from church
In the Guardian Zaki Cooper says Some of the staunchest supporters of Christmas come from other religions.
Also, Pankaj Mishra argues that a public conversation about Islam should not be avoided, in A paranoid, abhorrent obsession.
The Times has Jonathan Sacks writing that The battle to teach moral values is won at school.
Giles Fraser asks Which party really wants a divorce? in the Church Times.
Andrew Brown argues at Comment is free that Civilisation is safe.
Cardinal pours cold water on union with rebel Anglican group is the headline in the Catholic Herald.
One of the Vatican’s most senior cardinals has dismissed the idea that a breakaway group of Anglicans might be received into the Catholic Church en masse – despite Benedict XVI’s personal support for such a move.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, told The Catholic Herald: “It’s not our policy to bring that many Anglicans to Rome.”
The cardinal’s comments refer to the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), a rebel group which claims to represent 400,000 people. Its bishops sent a letter to Rome last month requesting “full, corporate and sacramental union”.
But the bishops did not send their letter to Cardinal Kasper. Instead they addressed it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), where, it is understood, they expected a warmer reception…
Read the whole article here.
The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds has criticised Anglican bishops who are threatening to withdraw from next year’s Lambeth Conference on issues of principle as “misguided and missing the point”, saying that the purpose of the ten yearly gathering of Anglican bishops from around the world has always been to discuss divisions and differences since it was begun by his predecessor, 140 years ago.
Read the full press release about his Advent Address.
…Speaking of his predecessor, the first Bishop of Ripon, Charles Longley, Bishop Packer said, “The act for which he is remembered in history is that calling of the (Lambeth) Conference in 1867 in which bishops were invited to express their differences in the context of their unity in Christ… There was strong disagreement over the necessity for Christians to believe in the reality of eternal punishment following the publication of ‘Essays and Reviews’.
“There could not be a greater contrast between the attitude of the bishops at Lambeth in 1867 and those who appear unwilling to attend in 2008 who I believe to be misguided and missing the point….. (In 1867) there was no sense of a need to achieve unity before meeting, or refusal to attend on the grounds of the deep divisions which then split Anglicans from each other. Indeed the fact of such divisions was the chief incentive to meet…”
The full text of his address is available as a PDF file here.
Updated again Friday evening
The ENS report by Jan Nunley is headed San Joaquin bishop asked to ‘reconsider, draw back’ from withdrawal efforts.
Expressing concern for his health and “evident sense of isolation,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori urged Bishop John-David M. Schofield of the Diocese of San Joaquin to “reconsider and draw back” from efforts to withdraw his diocese from the Episcopal Church.
As with previous letters to other disaffected bishops, the correspondence with Schofield notified him that such a step would force Jefferts Schori to act to bring the diocese and its leadership into line with the mandates of the national Church.
“You have been clear that you feel your views are dismissed or ignored within the Episcopal Church, yet you have ceased to participate in the councils of the Church. It is difficult to have dialogue with one who is absent,” Jefferts Schori wrote. “…The Church will never change if dissenters withdraw from the table. There is an ancient and honored tradition of loyal opposition, and many would welcome your participation”…
The full text of the letter is included and also appears here below the fold.
Bishop Schofield has responded to this, and his reply can be read here. The diocesan site has it here, but a more permanent URL is this PDF version. The full text of this reply is now also below.
December 3, 2007
The Rt. Rev. John-David M. Schofield
Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin
4159 East Dakota Avenue
Fresno, CA 93726-5227
As you approach your next Diocesan Convention, I would like to remind you of my prayers, and those of many other Episcopalians, for you and for the Diocese of San Joaquin. I continue to be concerned for your health, and for your evident sense of isolation. You have been clear that you feel your views are dismissed or ignored within the Episcopal Church, yet you have ceased to participate in the councils of the Church. It is difficult to have dialogue with one who is absent. While there are a number who disagree with you, I believe many more would welcome your participation, particularly as a sign of your faithfulness to your vow to share in the councils of the Church. The Church will never change if dissenters withdraw from the table. There is an ancient and honored tradition of loyal opposition, and many would welcome your participation.
I do not need to remind you as well of the potential consequences of the direction in which you appear to be leading the Diocese of San Joaquin. In this connection I have in mind, among other things, your support of amendments to that diocese’s Constitution that would be plainly inconsistent with the Constitution of the Episcopal Church and that would implicitly reject the Church’s property and other canons, as well as your support for the transfer of the membership of your Diocese to the Province of the Southern Cone. If you continue along this path, I believe it will be necessary to ascertain whether you have in fact abandoned the communion of this Church, and violated your vows to uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of this Church. I do not intend to threaten you, only to urge you to reconsider and draw back from this trajectory.
While you may believe that the Diocese of San Joaquin can be welcomed into another Province of the Anglican Communion, I believe you will find that few parts of the Communion will recognize such a proposal. Such an action is without precedent, violates long-standing principles of catholic Christianity, and can only harm those faithful Episcopalians who only seek to follow Christ. I urge you to consider whether there might not be a more honorable course for you, personally, than seeking to violate your ordination vows and the Canons of this Church. Together with many in this Church, I would very much value your continued and increased presence at the table – both the table of Jesus Christ and the table of fellowship.
You and the Diocese of San Joaquin continue in my prayers, and I remain
Your servant in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori
Bishop Schofield’s response to Presiding Bishop Schori
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
815 Second Ave.
New York, NY 10017-4594
Dear Bishop Schori:
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, our one and only Lord and Savior.
I have read your letter of December 3, 2007 and thank you for your prayers. There is a pastoral tone to this letter which is much appreciated. Informing me that you are not writing with any threats is most encouraging also. One would hope that this indicates your serious consideration of the Primates’ specific request that deposition and litigation under the present circumstances be abandoned as unacceptable behavior among Christians.
Please know I do not share your feelings that I am isolated. My understanding of the authority of the Holy Scriptures, as well as Catholic Faith and Order are shared by the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches and by some 60 million faithful Anglicans worldwide. It is The Episcopal Church that has isolated itself from the overwhelming majority of Christendom and more specifically from the Anglican Communion by denying Biblical truth and walking apart from the historic Faith and Order.
It is true that the House of Bishops has ignored my views for nearly twenty years. After this length of time, one wonders how genuine the offer of change for the Church can be by having the “loyal opposition” present at the table. Despite all of this, we are not pining away here in the Diocese of San Joaquin; we are rejoicing in the truth of God’s word!
The decision to be made by our Annual Convention this Saturday is the culmination of The Episcopal Church’s failure to heed the repeated calls for repentance issued by the Primates of the Anglican Communion and for the cessation of false teaching and sacramental actions explicitly contrary to Scripture. For years, I have tried in vain to obtain adequate Primatial oversight to protect the Diocese from an apostate institution that has minted a new religion irreconcilable with the Anglican faith. Hopes were raised in February 2007 when leaders of the Anglican Communion met in Dar es Salaam. The direction given by them for the formation of a pastoral council would have provided the protection we requested and would have averted the need for the Diocese to seek sanctuary from another Province. You were in Dar es Salaam, and in the presence of the assembled Primates you verbally signified your agreement to this direction. By the time you returned to the United States, however, you denied your public statement and declared you had only meant to bring it back for further consideration. It was no surprise, therefore, when the Executive Council and the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church later denounced the plan for a pastoral council that you went along with them. This was a clear signal that our religious freedom to practice the Historic Faith as this Church has received it would not be protected by The Episcopal Church. My Ordination vows require me to be a faithful steward of God’s holy Word and to defend His truth and “be ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God’s Word; and to use both public and private monitions and exhortations…” I can do no other.
The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone has graciously offered the Diocese sanctuary on a temporary and emergency basis. This action is unprecedented but so, too, are the apostate actions of The Episcopal Church that make these protective measures necessary. The invitation of the Southern Cone is a matter of public record. In essence it embodies the solution agreed upon by you and the rest of the Anglican leaders at Dar es Salaam to provide adequate, acceptable Alternative Primatial Oversight. To endorse this as a way forward need not be a final nor irreconcilable commitment. Should it be the will of the Annual Convention to accept this most generous gift, I will welcome the opportunity implied in your letter to discuss how it impacts our relationship. In the event that the clergy and laity reject this offer from the Southern Cone, I would, of course, follow your recommendation to participate as a dissenter of the present unbiblical course of action being pursued by the House of Bishops. To do anything else would be to abandon God’s people of San Joaquin and, in the end, prove to be a hireling and not a shepherd. For me, at least, this is the honorable course the Lord would have me follow.
You will remain in my prayers,
+John-David M. Schofield
Bishop of San Joaquin
Today, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has this article by Ann Rogers: Secession sends churches into unknown territory.
And last Friday the Ridgecrest Daily Indpendent in California had Split in world church could mean change for local parish by Ruth Justis.
Earlier last month, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram had Episcopal diocese takes step to cut ties by Terry Goodrich.
In a related development, Episcopal News Service recently published Executive Council committee chairs respond to retired bishops’ open letters which references the detailed response given (PDF file) to “a pair of open letters written last summer by a group of retired bishops, demanding a “public report” of the cost of litigation over breakaway groups attempting to take the Episcopal Church’s property”. The article also gives some background on the earlier actions of those retired bishops.
First, The Rev. Canon Benjamin Twinamaani of Uganda has written a very informative article, which is published by both Anglican Communion Institute and by Covenant.
Second, Andrew Goddard has published a new analysis The Anglican Communion - Mapping the Terrain which constitutes the November newsletter for Fulcrum.
It’s receiving a number of critical comments from American conservatives. See for example these three:
No doubt more to follow.
It should not go unnoticed that another letter from the UK was sent to the Anglican Network in Canada. The full text and list of signatories can be found here, and the text is reproduced below the fold. Note that the signatories claimed to be writing not as individuals but also on behalf of their organisations:
Signed with pleasure and delight,
+Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes & President of Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC)
Dr Philip Giddings, Convenor, Anglican Mainstream
Paul Boyd-Lee, Chair of the 1990 Group in General Synod
Rev John Coles, Director of New Wine
Canon Andy Lines, General Secretary of Crosslinks
Stephen Parkinson, Director, Forward in Faith
Revd Paul Perkin, Convenor of the Covenant Group for the Church of England
Revd David Phillips, Director of Church Society
Canon Dr Chris Sugden, Executive Secretary, Anglican Mainstream
Rev Dr Richard Turnbull, Chairman and for the Executive of the Church of England Evangelical Council
Rev Roderick Thomas, Chairman of Reform
But also, there is this letter from no less than the Bishop of Rochester:
The Right Revd Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester
I greatly regret the necessity for this step, but I am glad that an agreed way has been found for biblically minded and orthodox Anglicans to receive appropriate primatial oversight from the province of the Southern Cone and episcopal care from Bishop Don Harvey. I pray that this arrangement will be a blessing for many.
Bishop Michael Nazir Ali
A group of orthodox Anglican leaders in the United Kingdom on behalf of their organisations
We want to assure you of our prayers and fellowship in our shared Anglican heritage as you take your stand on the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures as the rule and ultimate standard of faith, contrary to those innovators both here and elsewhere who wish to give primacy to the demands of contemporary culture.
We rejoice in our fellowship as Churches in communion with the Risen Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Linked together by the apostolic ministry, our communion is expressed by the fellowship and mutual commitment of local churches, congregations faithful to the apostolic tradition, led by faithful clergy, and gathered around their bishop, however expressed, for example on a geographic or non-geographic basis.
With you we are committed to faithful biblical orthodoxy. This orthodoxy is defined by and centred on the classic formularies (foundational principles) of the Anglican tradition. Anglican doctrine is grounded in the supremacy of the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, the catholic creeds and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as agree with the Holy Scriptures. In particular, it has confessed this faith in the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer (our Anglican standard for worship) and the 1662 Ordinal, including its preface (our Anglican standard for the making of bishops, priests and deacons). This commitment does not mean we are perfect: we need constantly to reform our lives in accord with the scripture to learn and grow with the help of the Spirit and one another.
With you we are committed to maintaining and propagating the unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ to make and grow disciples who will themselves make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ and plant churches. Proclaiming the biblical gospel of the Kingdom of God transforms and renews us and the whole creation. It produces life-giving and life-transforming mission, holiness of life and unity in the Holy Spirit to the end that people are drawn into a personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ, and become members of the Body of Christ engaged with the challenges of their time and agents of transforming their communities and creation.
Although we regret that it has become necessary, we have been encouraged by the action of Presiding Bishop Greg Venables and the Province of the Southern Cone in offering oversight to some orthodox Anglican Dioceses in the United States. This interim provision is a sensible way forward. Extension of this oversight to Bishop Don Harvey in Canada with parishes and people gathered around him is a welcome expression of the proper duty of orthodox Anglicans to secure the provision of godly leadership and oversight.
We hope that this recognition given to your network will further benefit the recognition of those who have been given similar oversight in the United States and Latin America.
We share with you the goal Jesus himself gave us of making all nations disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. We share with you, in obedience to Christ, his call to teach them to observe all that he has commanded. We share with you, and with the exalted Lord who now sits at the right hand of the Father, the call to pray for the world which he created and the people for whose salvation he died and rose again.
“To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever.” (Ephesians 3.21)
for signatures see above
For Immediate Release: November 30, 2007
1. Regarding extending a place in the Anglican Communion for those who in all conscience cannot remain in their Province, Archbishop Venables quoted scripture:
“Jesus said, ‘Which of you if your son or ox fall into the well won’t immediately pull him out on the Sabbath?’
Are we keeping the law or the spirit of the law?”
2. Regarding the provision for pastoral care and episcopal support being adequate and appropriate:
“Surely this would require agreement from the recipients as well as those in power.”
3. Regarding the contravening of agreements by interventions:
“In the Dar es Salaam communiqué we said, “Furthermore, those Primates who have undertaken interventions do not feel that it is right to end those interventions until it becomes clear that sufficient provision has been made for the life of those persons.”
On the other hand the bishop of New Westminster within the ACOC a few hours after the appearance of the Primates’ letter from Brazil in 2003 went ahead with the very action the letter had pleaded should not be taken. It also went against the Bible and the consensus of 2000 years of Christianity.
The implication of this violation and the resulting crisis was ignored.
Since then there have been egregious examples in clear rejection of Lambeth 1 10, Windsor and the requests of the Communion leadership. Once again nothing has been said even though this has meant the tearing apart of the Anglican Communion and an exodus from the church.
Now suddenly those who seek to take care of those who side with historic, biblical Christianity and the Anglican Communion are accused of the very lapse that has produced the crisis.
Is it possible in the real world to use the very agreements that one is contravening to protect oneself”.
4. Regarding Bishop Donald Harvey’s response to the Pastoral Statement (Nov. 30, 2007):
Bishop Don Harvey’s response is an accurate assessment of the cause of the current crisis and interpretation of the Primates’ statements. I am grateful to my brothers and sisters in Christ who wrote letters in support of for these actions and in support of ANiC and the ministry of biblically faithful Communion committed Canadian Anglicans. Thanks be to God.
The Anglican Journal has an interview: South American archbishop sees ‘denial’ and ‘hypocrisy’ in Canadian leaders’ statement
and there is a sidebar, Quick facts: The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America.
The Anglican Network in Canada itself had this to say about the Pastoral Letter.
Roderick Strange writes in The Times about Advent: Nativity narratives are a gift from the gospel’s heart.
Martyn Percy writes in the Guardian that: Advent is a time of serious preparation, but it’s about far more than Christmas.
Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about a new papal encyclical: Spe Salvi, says Pope Benedict.
The same paper also has a piece by Sam Leith titled Loving William Blake for being bonkers.
Giles Fraser who has returned from his US trip, writes in the Church Times about How the US conscience has become diseased.
In the Los Angeles Times there is an essay by Laura Miller on the Religious furor over ‘The Golden Compass’.
And here’s a bonus column: Andrew Brown writes about Kitschmas: Funnier than thou.