Friday, 22 August 2014

South Carolina affiliates with the Global South

This announcement has been made jointly by the Global South Primatial Steering Committee and the Diocese of South Carolina led by Bishop Mark Lawrence.

Diocese of South Carolina: Global South Welcomes Diocese of South Carolina

…As you will recall the 223rd Diocesan Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina meeting at Christ Church in Mt. Pleasant on March 14-15, 2014 unanimously accepted the offer of the Global South Primates Steering Committee for Provisional Primatial Oversight.

Now this morning we receive with gratitude this letter from the Global South Primatial Steering Committee. It is their acceptance of our request for this gracious relationship. I trust you will be heartened as I have been by their welcome of us “… as an active and faithful member within the Global South of the Anglican Communion, until such time as a permanent primatial affiliation can be found.” It is my joy to share it with you…

Letter from Archbishops Anis and Ernest: Announcement regarding the Diocese of South Carolina.
Also available at Global South Anglican.

…The Global South of the Anglican Communion welcomes the unanimous request of The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, XIV Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, and the Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina to “accept the offer of the newly created Global South Primatial Oversight Council for pastoral oversight of our ministry as a diocese during the temporary period of our discernment of our final provincial affiliation.”

The decision of the Diocese of South Carolina was made in response to the meeting of the Global South Primates Steering Committee in Cairo, Egypt from 14-15 February 2014.1 A recommendation from that meeting stated that, “we decided to establish a Primatial Oversight Council, in following-through the recommendations taken at Dar es Salam in 2007, to provide pastoral and primatial oversight to dissenting individuals, parishes, and dioceses in order to keep them within the Communion.”

Recognizing the faithfulness of Bishop Mark Lawrence and the Diocese of South Carolina, and in appreciation for their contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, the Global South welcomes them as an active and faithful member within the Global South of the Anglican Communion, until such time as a permanent primatial affiliation can be found…

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Thursday, 3 July 2014

Presiding Bishop visits St Albans and Oxford

Updated Friday evening

The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church recently visited St Albans and Oxford.

At St Albans she preached at the Alban Pilgrimage.

ENS Video: Presiding Bishop preaches at Alban Pilgrimage

ENS Video: Alban Pilgrimage pays tribute to Britain’s first Christian martyr

At Oxford, she preached at the University Church and received an honorary degree from Oxford University.

ENS Presiding Bishop preaches in Oxford

ENS Presiding Bishop receives honorary degree from Oxford University

The citation for the degree can be seen here.

The Church Times carries this interview with her, conducted by Paul Handley ‘A long process of liberation’.

Lucy Davis of WATCH has written Wonderful, inspiring day in St Albans with Bishop Katharine.

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Thursday, 10 April 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury visits Canada and USA

Updated Thursday evening

The Archbishop of Canterbury is this week visiting Canada and the USA.

See Lambeth Palace press release: Archbishop of Canterbury visits Anglicans in Canada and the USA

From Canada, the Anglican Journal reports: Welby explains gays and violence in Africa remarks. An extract:

…Q: Were you in fact blaming the death of Christians in parts of Africa on the acceptance of gay marriage in America?

A: I was careful not to be too specific because that would pin down where that happened and that would put the community back at risk. I wouldn’t use the word “blame”— that’s a misuse of words in the context. One of the things that’s most depressing about the response to that interview is that almost nobody listened to what I said; they mostly imagined what they thought I said…It was not only imagination, it was a million miles away from what I said.

Q: So what exactly were you saying?

A: What I was saying is that when we take actions in one part of the church, particularly actions that are controversial, that they are heard and felt not only in that part of the church but around the world…And, this is not mere consequentialism; I’m not saying that because there will be consequences to taking action, that we shouldn’t take action. What I’m saying is that love for our neighbour, love for one another, compels us to consider carefully how that love is expressed, both in our own context and globally. We never speak the essential point that, as a church, we never speak only in our local situation. Our voice carries around the world. Now that will be more true in some places than in others. It depends on your links. We need to learn to live as a global church in a local context and never to imagine that we’re just a local church. There is no such thing…

The Anglican Journal also reports Welby & Hiltz discuss issues of sexuality, reconciliation

When Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby met with the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, he was “very interested” in the work of the Anglican Church of Canada’s commission on the marriage canon because of the reality that the Church of England will have to wrestle with the issue of same-sex marriage following its legislation in the U.K.

“Notwithstanding the declared position of the Church of England at this moment, he [Welby] is very conscious, of course, that there’s going to be a fair amount of pressure from within the Church of England to at least have some discussion around that [same-sex marriage],” said Hiltz in an interview with the Anglican Journal. “He hoped that we would stay in touch over the work of the commission, [because] inside the Church of England, they will need to have the same conversation.”

Welby was also very interested in the issue of reconciliation as it relates to the history of the Canadian church’s relations with indigenous people and its involvement in the Indian Residential School System. “As he said now, in the Church of England, things are coming to light in terms of abuse in church schools…they’re kind of at that early stage,” and Welby wanted to know how the Canadian church responded. “They’re compelled [to respond] and they will not stand in anyone’s way,” said Hiltz, adding that Welby was interested in the church’s 1993 apology to former residential school students for the harm and pain inflicted through the schools.

On the issue of the marriage canon, Hiltz said Welby was “very appreciative” that the commission will conduct a broad consultation across the Anglican Communion and with its ecumenical partners on the matter of changing the Canadian Anglican church’s marriage canon (church law) to allow same-sex marriage…

The archbishop then moved to Oklahoma, where he delivered this speech: Archbishop Justin’s speech at the Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace conference, Oklahoma, USA

ENS reports:

Archbishop says church must ‘join its enemies on their knees’

VIDEO: Archbishop explains comments made to LBC radio

…During the news conference, Welby noted that he had made similar comments in the past and that he was trying to say that “at its heart is the issue that we’re a global church.”

“The Anglican Communion is a global church. And that wherever we speak, whether it’s here or in Africa, or in Asia or in any of the 143 countries in which we are operating, in which there are Anglicans, we never speak exclusively to ourselves but we speak in a way that is heard widely around the world,” he said. “And so the point I was making, because the question was essentially about why don’t we just go ahead and do gay marriages, we have a profound disagreement within the Church of England about the right thing to do, whether to perform gay marriages or have blessing of same sex marriages where the marriage has taken place in the civil system.”

Same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales on March 29. Parliament by a comfortable majority passed The Marriage (Same-sex Couples Act) in July 2013.
The Church of England is “starting two years of facilitated conversation about this and we are not going simply to jump to a conclusion, to preempt that conversation in any direction at all but we need to spend time listening to each other, listening to the voices around the communion,” Welby said.

The example he gave during the call-in program of his experience at the site of the mass grave “was of a particular example some years back which had had a great impact on my own thinking,” he said during the news conference…

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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

South Carolina: Anglican developments

The Diocese of South Carolina led by Bishop Mark Lawrence has issued this press release: Diocese Formalizes Worldwide Anglican Ties

The Diocese of South Carolina has been formally recognized as a member in good standing of the Global Anglican Communion.

On Saturday, March 15, the Diocese’s 223rd Annual Convention unanimously accepted an invitation to join the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA) and temporarily enter into a formal ecclesiastical relationship known as provisional primatial oversight from bishops in the Global South.

The convention’s nearly 400 participants supported clergy and delegates as they voted to create a task force to explore more permanent affiliation options for the diocese. The task force will offer recommendations at the next Convention, which will be held next March.

Local critics of the Diocese’s 2012 separation from The Episcopal Church had said the disassociation would isolate the Diocese from the Global Anglican Communion. While the Diocese has maintained many informal relationships with organizations that are part of the communion, this formal primatial oversight arrangement makes clear that the Diocese is officially part of the greater Anglican Church.

“There’s an African proverb that wisely states ‘If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together,’ said the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, 14th Bishop of the Diocese, in his address to the Convention. “This will give us gracious oversight from one of the largest Ecclesial entities within in the Communion; one which includes Anglicans from a diverse body of believers from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America, the Indian Ocean and many, many others.”…

The Charleston Post-Courier reported this: Diocese of South Carolina accepts provisional oversight from Global South primates.

Another press release says: SC Court of Appeals Denies TEC Appeal

SOUTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS DENIES TEC APPEAL, BLOCKS DENOMINATION’S STALLING TACTICS

Justices prevent TEC from using legal maneuver to delay court proceedings

CHARLESTON, SC, March 18, 2014 – The South Carolina Court of Appeals today rejected an appeal that would have delayed a trial in the Diocese of South Carolina lawsuit to protect diocesan and parish property from seizure by The Episcopal Church (TEC) and its local group, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC).

The Court decided that TEC and TECSC could not appeal a lower court ruling on the process to be used in discovery.

The Court of Appeals effectively said it will not tolerate legal shenanigans to delay a trial to decide whether the denomination may seize South Carolina property, including churches and the diocesan symbols. In asking the Court of Appeals to dismiss the action, the Diocese of South Carolina argued that TECSC is appealing a court order that is “unappealable”.

South Carolina’s Court of Appeals justices agreed…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 at 3:13pm GMT | Comments (37) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

US Supreme Court will not hear Falls Church case

Michelle Boorstein at the Washington Post reports: Supreme Court won’t hear appeal of dispute over Episcopal Church’s property in Va.

Seven years after 15 conservative Virginia congregations made global news by breaking away from the Episcopal Church — and refusing to give up tens of millions of dollars in property — the Supreme Court on Monday ended the complex legal dispute by declining to take up an appeal by the last remaining plaintiff.

The Falls Church Anglican, a 2,000-member breakaway congregation, had asserted that the nearly 300-year-old sprawling property belonged to the Anglican group because the Episcopal Church “left” its umbrella Anglican tradition by becoming more liberal in interpreting scripture and ordaining gay and lesbian clergy…

Mary Frances Schjonberg at ENS reports this way: U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear Falls Church Anglican case. This article contains many links to earlier documents.

More than seven years after a majority of clergy and members of several Diocese of Virginia congregations declared they had left the Episcopal Church and the question of ownership of the property involved began to be litigated, the U.S. Supreme Court refused on March 10 to hear the appeal of the last congregation still at odds with the Episcopal Church and the diocese.

The court gave no reason for deciding not to review a 2013 ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court reaffirming an earlier circuit court ruling that returned The Falls Church property to loyal Episcopalians to use for the mission of the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church. The court’s decision was included in its March 10 order list and was one of 121 requests for review that it refused.

All that remains in the case is for the Diocese of Virginia to request an order from the Fairfax Circuit Court releasing to the diocese more than $2.6 million that was in the Falls Church’s bank accounts at the time of the split and that the court has been holding in escrow during the progression of the case…

Diocese of Virginia: press release and letter to diocese.

There is no press release as yet from CANA or ACNA. The latest email to the Falls Church Anglican congregation can be found here.

We received word today that the United States Supreme Court has denied our church’s petition for certiorari and declined to hear our case. This means that the long legal process in which our church has been involved since we were sued by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in 2007 has come to its end.

We have pursued this legal process out of the conviction that it is one of the ministries that God has entrusted to our church and out of our desire to be faithful to God’s calling to see it through to the end. We are grateful that our nation’s civil justice system allows us this recourse and we thank the Supreme Court for its consideration of our petition.

We will keep praying for the many churches and dioceses that remain embroiled in lawsuits over their property with The Episcopal Church or other denominations. We will continue to pray for clarification of this area of law, which has become increasing convoluted and confusing for the lower courts since the Supreme Court last addressed it in 1979…

A.S. Haley has published Heartbreaker: U. S. Supreme Court Denies Falls Church Petition.

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Thursday, 6 February 2014

Oxford University to award honorary degree to Presiding Bishop

Updated Friday

Press release from Oxford University:

Six leading figures from the worlds of science, the arts and religion are set to receive honorary degrees from the University of Oxford this year, subject to approval by Congregation.

The degrees will be awarded at Encaenia, the University’s annual honorary degree ceremony, on Wednesday 25 June 2014.

Degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa:

The Most Reverend Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, PhD, is Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America and 16 other nations. Over the course of her nine-year term, Bishop Jefferts Schori is responsible for initiating and developing policy for the Episcopal Church and speaks on behalf of the church regarding the policies, strategies and programmes authorised by General Convention. Bishop Jefferts Schori’s studies for the priesthood, to which she was ordained in 1994, were preceded by her career as an oceanographer. She holds a BSc in biology from Stanford University, an MSc and PhD in oceanography from Oregon State University, an MDiv from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and several honorary doctoral degrees…

Update Lambeth Palace has issued this:
Archbishop congratulates Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on honorary Oxford degree

Friday 7th February 2014

Archbishop Justin has welcomed news that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, is to be awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity by the University of Oxford

Archbishop Justin said: “I am delighted by the news that the Most Revd Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori is to receive an honorary Doctor of Divinity from the University of Oxford. This award, richly deserved, reaffirms Bishop Katharine’s remarkable gifts of intellect and compassion, which she has dedicated to the service of Christ.

“Prior to becoming ordained, Bishop Katharine pursued a career in oceanography, and her enduring deep commitment to the environment has evolved into a profound dedication to stewardship of our planet and humankind, especially in relieving poverty and extending the love and hospitality of Christ to those on the edges of society. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said of Bishop Katharine, ‘In her version of reality, everything is sacred except sin.’

“It must be noted, too, that Bishop Katharine’s achievements serve – and will continue to serve – as a powerful model for women seeking to pursue their vocations in the church.”

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Friday, 31 January 2014

US Presiding Bishop on LGBT rights

The US Episcopal Church has issued this press release.

Presiding Bishop on LGBT rights

The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs
Thursday, January 30, 2014

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following statement on LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered) rights:

The Episcopal Church has been clear about our expectation that every member of the LGBT community is entitled to the same respect and dignity as any other member of the human family. Our advocacy for oppressed minorities has been vocal and sustained. The current attempts to criminalize LBGT persons and their supporters are the latest in a series, each stage of which has been condemned by this Church, as well as many other religious communities and nations. Our advocacy work continues to build support for the full human rights and dignity of all persons, irrespective of gender, race, national origin, creed, sexual orientation, physical and mental ability or inability. To do less is effectively to repudiate our membership in the human community. No one of God’s children is worth less or more than another; none is to be discriminated against because of the way in which she or he has been created. Our common task is to build a society of justice for all, without which there will never be peace on earth. Episcopalians claim that our part in God’s mission is to love God fully, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. That means all our neighbors.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Anglican homophobia: two reports and one response

There are two news reports (so far) of the latest remarks by the Primate of Nigeria The Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh on the Nigerian anti-gay legislation:

Nigerian Tribune Those practising same-sex marriage are heading for destruction —Okoh

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), The Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, on Monday, warned those practising same sex marriage to desist from the act, saying they were heading for destruction…

…Okoh explained that the act was an attempt by people to question God’s authority.
He said: “The same thing is happening today in the issue of human sexuality. It is not about whether a man should marry a man or a woman should marry a woman, the question in the garden (of Eden) has come back again.

“And as in the former time, disaster followed when man dethroned God. So, again it shall happen that if man decided to stick to the principle of dethroning God, He will face nothing but disaster.

“Man will come to nothing but extinction. For this road leads to nowhere. It is a dead end and it is not in the interest of humanity.

“We want to thank God, the National Assembly and the President. He (Jonathan) has articulated the views of Nigerians.”

Channels God’s Punishment Awaits Those Against Anti-Gay Law- Okoh

…He however commended President Goodluck Jonathan for his courage in signing the anti-gay bill into law which has continued to generate reactions in some quarters in Nigeria and beyond.

According to him, those not in support of the bill are like the biblical duo, Adam and Eve who questioned God for asking them not to eat the fruits from the Garden of Eden.

His words: “Many people do not realise that what is referred to as the homosexual trouble is not the homosexual or lesbian trouble but people’s refusal to accept the scripture for what it is, authority for life and practice following God.

He added: “in the beginning, man questioned the authority of God in the garden by saying did God actually say that you should not eat the forbidden fruit. That challenge to God’s authority dethroned God’s power and enthroned man’s power.

“”So they concluded that God has no right to tell man what to do and that they were the people who knew what to do. So man set God aside and took over the command. Consequently, disaster followed”.

There has been one response to all this, from the President of the House of Deputies of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, The Reverend Gay Clark Jennings, writing at Religion News Service : COMMENTARY: The church’s role in, and against, homophobia across Africa

…The Anglican primates of Uganda and Nigeria enthusiastically support anti-gay legislation in their countries. I, like them, am a member of the Anglican Communion, a worldwide body of more than 80 million Christians. I am troubled and saddened that fellow Anglicans could support legislation that fails to recognize that every human being is created in the image of God.

Western Christians cannot ignore the homophobia of these church officials or the peril in which they place Ugandan and Nigerian LGBT people. The legacy of colonial-era Christian missionaries and infusions of cash from modern-day American conservatives have helped to create it.

Twice in the last three years, I have traveled to Africa to meet with biblical scholars, grass-roots activists and church officials at consultations about the Bible and sexuality. These brave leaders have taught me that there is no getting around the Bible when searching for the origins of the homophobia that is rampant in many African cultures. What’s more, Europeans and North Americans bear much of the historical responsibility for this sad state of affairs. As Zimbabwean biblical scholar Masiiwa Ragies Gunda has written, it is “far-fetched to look beyond the activities of Western missionaries” when considering the role of the Bible in Africa…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 at 3:29pm GMT | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Friday, 30 August 2013

Texas Supreme Court rules on church property cases

The Supreme Court of Texas today handed down its decisions in two cases relating to the property of The Episcopal Church. In both cases the ruling was against a diocese of The Episcopal Church.

The actual texts of the decisions are here:

Statements were issued by the two Fort Worth diocesan organisations:

Pastoral Letter from Bishop High

Pastoral Letter from Bishop Iker

A S Haley writes:

Today the Texas Supreme Court handed down decisions in the two ECUSA cases pending before it: No. 11-0265, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, et al. v. The Episcopal Church, et al.; and No. 11-0332, Masterson v. Diocese of Northwest Texas. In the first case, the Court sided with Bishop Iker’s Diocese by a closely split vote of 5-4, reversed the summary judgment of Circuit Judge John Chupp which had awarded all of the property and assets of Bishop Iker’s Diocese to the Episcopal Church and its rump diocese, and sent the case back to the trial court. The majority held that the trial court had improperly failed to apply a “neutral principles of law” analysis to the issues. The four dissenters did not disagree with that result, but instead believed that the Court lacked jurisdiction to hear a direct appeal from the trial court’s judgment in the case.

In the second case, the Court by a vote of 7-2 reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision requiring the Church of the Good Shepherd in San Angelo to turn over its building and all other assets to the Diocese of Northwest Texas. The Court definitively ruled that all Texas courts must follow “neutral principles of law” (rather than deferring to an ecclesiastical hierarchy), and that based on such an analysis, the Dennis Canon was not effective under Texas law (or that if it were effective to create a trust, the trust was not expressly irrevocable, and so could be revoked by the parish in question)…

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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

American church responses to Supreme Court decisions

Updated

The Supreme Court of the United States today issued two decisions relating to the marriage of same sex couples. The Guardian summarised it this way:

A landmark supreme court ruling struck down a controversial federal law that discriminated against gay couples in the US, delivering a stunning victory on Wednesday to campaigners who fought for years to overturn it.

The court also dismissed a separate appeal against same-sex marriage laws in California, restoring the right to gay marriage in the largest US state and nearly doubling the number of Americans living in states where gay marriage would be legal.

Together, the two rulings mark the biggest advance in civil liberties for gay people in a generation, and come amid growing political and international recognition that same-sex couples deserve equal legal treatment…

The Federal DOMA opinion is here. The California Proposition 8 opinion is here.

Numerous statements in response were made by bishops of The Episcopal Church and other senior church officials. Here are some links:

Update

Church leaders outside The Episcopal Church expressed contrary views:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 26 June 2013 at 7:50pm BST | Comments (27) | TrackBack
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Friday, 10 May 2013

Los Angeles court rules against Newport Beach church

Episcopal News Service reports: Court orders return of Newport Beach property to Los Angeles diocese

Orange County Superior Court Judge Kim G. Dunning today reaffirmed her May 1 final orders that property occupied by St. James Church, Newport Beach, is held in trust for the current and future ministry of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the wider Episcopal Church.

“All the church property acquired by and held in the name of St. James Parish is held in trust for the Episcopal Church and the diocese, which have the exclusive right to possession and dominion and control,” Judge Dunning ordered. “The diocese is entitled to enforce the trust in its favor and eject the current occupants.”

This is the fourth and final case involving congregations in which a majority of members, having voted to disaffiliate from the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church, sought to retain church property for themselves. In each instance, however, courts have ruled that the property rightfully belongs to the diocese and Episcopal Church…

The congregation issued this press release and a prominent conservative lawyer issued this analysis of the decision.

Anglican Mainstream issued this Letter of support to St James Newport Beach:

The following letter was sent to the rector and congregation of St James’ Newport Beach and read out at the three main services on Sunday May 5.

To the Rev Richard Crocker and people of St James, Newport Beach

Dear Friends and Fellow Christians

We were very disturbed and saddened to read the news that legal proceedings against you by other Anglicans mean that you may soon be deprived of your property at St James and have to find alternative accommodation.

We wish first to assure you of our fellowship with you as you continue to take your stand on biblical and orthodox Anglican teaching. We share with you a passion to proclaim the gospel of our risen Lord Jesus Christ and affirm you in your faithful discipleship.

Although we have not experienced the depth of hostility that has led some people with responsibility in the Church of Christ to act in this way against you, we do want to assure you of our love, our prayers and our support. You are not alone: anyone who touches you, touches us.

This further evidence of continuing litigious acts against those whose only “wrongdoing” is to stand firm on biblical and orthodox Anglican teaching should convince all those in authority in the Churches of the Anglican Communion that your stance is the mark of authentic Christian discipleship and fellowship. For this reason we are copying our letter to Archbishop Justin Welby and Archbishop Eliud Wabukala.

With warmest greetings in our risen victorious Lord

Dr Philip Giddings (Convenor, Anglican Mainstream)
Bishop John Ellison (Chairman, Anglican Mission in England Panel of Bishops)
Rev Paul Perkin, (Chairman, Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (UK and Ireland))
Canon Dr Chris Sugden (Executive Secretary, Anglican Mainstream)

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Friday, 19 April 2013

Virginia Supreme Court rules in favour of TEC

It has been a full year since we last reported on the long-running property disputes between CANA and the Diocese of Virginia. (Previous reports here, and also here.)

This week the Supreme Court of Virginia made a ruling. Here is the Diocese of Virginia press release: Supreme Court of Virginia rules in favor of diocese.

In a dispute over the ownership of The Falls Church, the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled today in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church. The decision affirms an earlier ruling returning Episcopalians to their church home at The Falls Church in Falls Church, Va. The Falls Church Anglican had sought to overturn the lower court’s ruling in favor of the Diocese. The court also remanded a portion of the case back to the Fairfax Circuit Court for a decision to determine a minor fractional difference in funds owed to the Diocese of Virginia.

“We are grateful that the Supreme Court of Virginia has once again affirmed the right of Episcopalians to worship in their spiritual home at The Falls Church Episcopal,” said the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop of Virginia. “This decision ensures that Episcopalians will have a home for years to come in Falls Church, and frees all of us, on both sides of this issue, to preach the Gospel and teach the faith unencumbered by this dispute.”

The court also held that the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church have a trust interest in the property, in addition to the contractual and proprietary interests already found by the lower court. This provides greater certainty regarding church property ownership.

“The Falls Church Episcopal has continued to grow and thrive throughout this difficult time,” said Edward W. Jones, secretary of the Diocese and chief of staff. “This ruling brings closure to a long but worthwhile struggle, and will allow the members of the Episcopal congregation to put the issue behind them and to focus their full energies on the ministries of the Church. We hope that The Falls Church Anglican will join us in recognizing this decision as a final chapter in the property dispute.”

Bishop Johnston added, “We pray that all those who have found spiritual sustenance at The Falls Church Episcopal and our other churches will continue to move forward in a spirit of reconciliation and love.”

Nearly a year ago, the Diocese settled the conflict over property with six other congregations. The Falls Church Episcopal and the other continuing and newly formed congregations, including Church of the Epiphany, Herndon; St. Margaret’s, Woodbridge; St. Paul’s, Haymarket; and St. Stephen’s, Heathsville, spent the past year growing their membership, supporting outreach and strengthening their church communities. Members of the Diocese have joined them in these efforts through Dayspring, a diocesan-wide initiative that is bringing a spirit of vision and rebirth to our shared ministries as a church.

Read the full opinion of the Supreme Court of Virginia online.

Some press reports:

Washington Post Episcopal Church wins Virginia Supreme Court ruling

Falls Church News-Press Virginia Supreme Court Upholds Decision Conveying Falls Church Property to Diocese

Update
There is a letter from The Reverend John Yates to the CANA congregation: The Falls Church statement on VA Supreme Court decision.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 10:16pm BST | Comments (61) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 7 March 2013

More developments in South Carolina

Previous report on this subject here.

Now, further legal action has been taken, as ENS reports: Lawsuit seeks to recognize vonRosenberg as bishop of South Carolina.

Acting to protect the identity of the diocese he serves, the Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg filed suit in U.S. District Court today against Bishop Mark Lawrence, asking the court to declare that only vonRosenberg, as the bishop recognized by The Episcopal Church, has the authority to act in the name of Diocese of South Carolina.

Having renounced The Episcopal Church, Bishop Lawrence is no longer authorized to use the diocese’s name and seal. By doing so, he is engaging in false advertising, misleading and confusing worshippers and donors in violation of federal trademark law under the Lanham Act, the complaint says. It asks the court to stop Bishop Lawrence from continuing to falsely claim that he is associated with the Diocese of South Carolina, which is a recognized sub-unit of The Episcopal Church.

The suit does not address property issues directly. But by asking the federal court to recognize Bishop vonRosenberg as the true bishop of the diocese, the suit would effectively resolve the issue of who controls diocesan property and assets, including the Diocesan House and Camp Saint Christopher on Seabrook Island. The ownership of individual parish properties is not addressed in the complaint…

The full text of the complaint can be found here (PDF).

And the Motion for a Preliminary Injunction is here.

At the time of writing, this action has not been reported on the website of the “Lawrence” diocese. The latest news item there is 222nd Annual Diocesan Convention to be Held in Florence, March 8-9 and also Three More Parishes Join in Suit to Prevent TEC from Seizing Property.

The latter press release summarises the situation thus:

…47 of the Diocese’s 71 parishes and missions have voted to support the Diocese; 18 support TEC and 7 remain undecided. The parishes and missions supporting the Diocese represent 80 percent of the Diocese’s 30,000 members.

The TEC diocese website reports that the Annual Convention of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, will be held March 8-9, 2013, at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston.

And it has this press release: Diocese added as defendant in lawsuit.

…Remaining with The Episcopal Church are 19 parishes and missions so far, along with at least 10 more “continuing parishes,” where members are maintaining official ties to The Episcopal Church even though their parish leadership has left the church. In addition, at least seven active and growing worshiping communities have organized across the diocese to allow displaced Episcopalians to continue to worship together…

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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Developments in South Carolina

Updated again Friday

TEC Agrees to Injunction that Prohibits Them From Using Diocese of SC Identity
South Carolina lawsuit parties agree to temporary injunction

I last reported on South Carolina on 8 January. Since then there have been significant developments.

A South Carolina Circuit Court judge Jan. 23 issued a temporary restraining order preventing any “individual, organization, association or entity” from using registered names and marks that are claimed by Mark Lawrence and other leaders who led some Episcopalians in that state out of the Episcopal Church.

Judge Diane S. Goodstein’s order is in effect until Feb. 1 when a hearing is scheduled.

See ENS report South Carolina court temporarily restrains use of diocesan names, seal and also this diocesan press release
Circuit Court Blocks the Use of Diocese of South Carolina Identity By Anyone Outside of the Diocese.

And on 26 January a provisional bishop for those remaining in The Episcopal Church was elected, see this ENS report South Carolina continuing Episcopalians meet to plan their future.

See also:

Presiding bishop preaches to Episcopalians in South Carolin

House of Deputies president supports South Carolina Episcopalians

New bishop provisional addresses South Carolina Episcopalians

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Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Lawsuit filed in South Carolina against The Episcopal Church

See this press release: Diocese Seeks Declaratory Judgment to Prevent Episcopal Church from Seizing Local Parishes and “Hijacking” their Identities.

St. George, SC, January 4, 2013 –The Diocese of South Carolina, the Trustees of the Diocese and congregations representing the vast majority of its baptized members today filed suit in South Carolina Circuit Court against The Episcopal Church to protect the Diocese’s real and personal property and that of its parishes.

The suit also asks the court to prevent The Episcopal Church from infringing on the protected marks of the Diocese, including its seal and its historical names, and to prevent the church from assuming the Diocese’s identity, which was established long before The Episcopal Church’s creation.

“We seek to protect more than $500 million in real property, including churches, rectories and other buildings that South Carolinians built, paid for, maintained and expanded – and in some cases died to protect – without any support from The Episcopal Church,” said the Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary. “Many of our parishes are among the oldest operating churches in the nation. They and this Diocese predate the establishment of The Episcopal Church. We want to protect these properties from a blatant land grab.”

The Diocese of South Carolina was established in 1785 as an independent, voluntary association that grew from the missionary work of the Church of England. It was one of nine dioceses that voluntarily joined together to form The Episcopal Church in October 1789, which eventually became an American province in the worldwide Anglican Communion, also a voluntary association.

“When the Diocese disassociated from The Episcopal Church we didn’t become a new entity,” Canon Lewis explained. “We have existed as an association since 1785. We incorporated in 1973; adopted our current legal name, ‘The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,’ in 1987; and we disassociated from the Episcopal Church in October of 2012. The Episcopal Church has every right to have a presence in the area served by our Diocese – but it does not have a right to use our identity. The Episcopal Church must create a new entity.”

The Diocese of South Carolina is made up of 71 parishes with approximately 30,000 members. Of those, 22,244 members have decided to remain with the Diocese and 1900 are undecided. Fifty Three Hundred say they want to be with The Episcopal Church with nearly half of those from one church in Charleston. While the Diocese has disassociated from The Episcopal Church, it remains a part of the Anglican Communion.

Though theologically more conservative than the leadership of the national Episcopal Church, Bishop Lawrence has for five years struggled to keep the Diocese intact and in The Episcopal Church, even as some 200 parishes and four other dioceses nationwide disassociated. The parishes and dioceses have disagreed with The Episcopal Church’s recent interpretation of scripture, which is widely considered to be unorthodox by most of the world’s 80 million Anglicans…

And there is this letter from Bishop Mark Lawrence.

There is a long version and also a short version of a document entitled Stewardship of the Gospel - Stewardship of the Diocese.

And there are other materials and letters of support from elsewhere in the Anglican Communion and beyond over here.

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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

A TEC statement about Bishop Mark Lawrence

Updated again Friday

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Public Affairs has issued a statement titled Presiding Bishop accepts Lawrence’s renunciation.

Citing Title III, Canon 12, Section 7 of the Constitutions and Canons of The Episcopal Church, and following thorough discussion with the Council of Advice, with their advice and consent, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has accepted the renunciation of the ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church of Mark Lawrence as made in his public address on November 17 and she has released him from his orders in this Church.

The Presiding Bishop made the announcement December 5. The Presiding Bishop informed Lawrence by phone, email and mail on December 5. Following that, the House of Bishops was notified.

According to the documents, Lawrence “is therefore removed from the Ordained Ministry of this Church and released from the obligations of all Ministerial offices, and is deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God’s Word and Sacraments conferred on him in Ordinations. This action is taken for causes that do not affect his moral character.”

The renunciation is effective immediately on December 5.

The renunciation was consented to by the members of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice, who are the presidents or vice presidents of the nine Provinces of the Episcopal Church: Bishops Stephen Lane of Maine (Province I), Lawrence Provenzano of Long Island (Province II), Neff Powell of Southwestern Virginia (Province III), Dabney Smith of Southwest Florida (Province IV); Wayne Smith of Missouri (Province V), Rob O’Neill of Colorado (Province VI), Larry Benfield of Arkansas (Province VII), James Mathes of San Diego (Province VIII) and Francisco Duque of Colombia (Province IX). Also members of the Council of Advice are Bishop Dean Wolfe of Kansas, vice president of the House of Bishops and Bishop Clay Matthews of the Office of Pastoral Development. Note: Bishop Dabney Smith was not present at the meeting because of illness…

The public address on 17 November referred to above is this one. Also available as a PDF here. The events surrounding this were previously reported here.

There is additional background material in the announcement linked above, and also on this page. An earlier letter from the Presiding Bishop is available here.

Update
Bishop Lawrence has issued this letter: Bishop Lawrence Writes Regarding Renunciation.

The Presiding Bishop called me this afternoon to inform me that she and her council of advice have accepted my renunciation of ordained ministry. I listened quietly, asked a question or two and then told her it was good to hear her voice. I did not feel any need to argue or rebut. It is the Presiding Bishop’s crossing of the T and doting of the I—for their paper work, not my life. I could bring up the canonical problems with what they have done contrary to the canons of The Episcopal Church but to what avail? They will do what they will do regardless of canonical limitations. That is already well documented by others and hardly needs further documentation by me. She and her advisers will say I have said what I have not said in ways that I have not said them even while they cite words from my Bishop’s Address of November 17, 2012.

Quite simply I have not renounced my orders as a deacon, priest or bishop any more than I have abandoned the Church of Jesus Christ—But as I am sure you are aware, the Diocese of South Carolina has canonically and legally disassociated from The Episcopal Church. We took this action long before today’s attempt at renunciation of orders, therein making it superfluous…

There is a lot of useful background information on earlier comparable cases, and how they were dealt with, towards the end of this ENS news report.

A further statement from the diocese: Diocesan Statement Regarding Claimed Renunciation

…This action by the Presiding Bishop will come as no surprise to most, though it should be a disappointment to all. It has been done before. Just as the Episcopal Church has been increasingly characterized by ignoring the plain meaning of biblical texts, that same behavior has now come to characterize the application of their own governing canons as well. Those canons are quite explicit about the renunciation of ministry. It is to be a request, made in writing, to the Presiding Bishop, that the bishop in question wishes to be released from the ministry of the Episcopal Church. None of those qualifications have been complied with. Bishop Lawrence has never renounced his orders or expressed the desire to do so.

It is also clear in the canons that a release from ministry is not possible when another disciplinary process is in force. With the previous certification of abandonment by the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, it should not have been possible, without violating the canons, for there to be a declaration of the renunciation of ministry. As surely as these same interpretive habits have created theological chaos within the Episcopal Church, these latest actions are further evidence of increasing canonical chaos and a leadership that has slipped all restraints in pursuit of its agenda and goals. For those remaining within the Episcopal Church, these developments should be cause for serious concern. For the Diocese of South Carolina, which has already departed, they are viewed with a certain amazement, but also with gratitude that we have disassociated ourselves from the increasing dysfunction.

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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

General Synod Questions about ACNA and South Carolina

Two questions were asked at General Synod on Monday which were answered by the Bishop of Guildford. The full list of all Questions is available here (PDF).

53. Miss Prudence Dailey (Oxford) to ask the Chairman of the Council for Christian Unity:

Q. Has consideration been given to whether the Church of England is in full and unimpaired communion with Bishop Mark Lawrence and the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina?

54. Mrs Lorna Ashworth (Chichester) to ask the Chairman of the Council for Christian Unity:

Q. Following the recent issue of a Certificate of Abandonment of the Episcopal Church in relation to the Rt Revd Mark J Lawrence, Bishop of South Carolina, and recognising that Bishop Lawrence has been one of the declining number of theologically conservative bishops who has sought to remain and to keep his people within TEC, in the light of paragraph 6 in the statement offered to the Synod in GS Misc 2011 by the Archbishops, are there any plans to consider proposing to the Synod fuller recognition of the Anglican Church in North America than has been considered to be appropriate up to this point.

The Bishop of Guildford’s answer (transcribed from audio recording available here)

With your permission sir, I will answer this and Mrs Ashworth’s question together.

The withdrawal from The Episcopal Church of most of the clergy and people of several dioceses, led by their bishops, after diocesan convention decisions, is a development novel in kind as well as in scale. Our North American sisters and brothers have been often involved in a litigious and sometimes acrimonious debate. We should try to remain on good terms with all parties and avoid inflaming matters further. Our response should be deliberate, and not hasty.

As the Archbishops noted in GS Misc 1011, the creation of the Anglican Church in North America raises questions of recognition of orders – ministry – as well as a relationship of communion. The former question is in some respects simpler, because the considerations are more objective, and it is also the more pressing, by reason of requests for transfer. Nevertheless there are some matters that require clarification before any decisions can be taken.

Clergy ordained in several churches with which we are not, or not yet, in communion are seeking permission to minister in the Church of England. The Council for Christian Unity has therefore established a small group to offer advice to the Archbishops through the Faith and Order Commission on the relevant issues. The question about the Anglican Church in North America’s orders (whether it is a church and whether its orders are such, whether they such that we can recognize) will be addressed in that context. This will necessarily involve direct ‘engagement with the Anglican Church in North America’ which was envisaged in the Archbishops General Synod miscellaneous paper that I have referred to, GS Misc 1011, and that will be the context for subsequent exploration of relationships between our churches.

On Saturday, a Special Diocesan Convention endorsed the South Carolina withdrawal from The Episcopal Church. The Bishop has stated that their position would be to remain within the Anglican Communion as an extra-provincial Diocese. The Episcopal Church on the other hand maintains that General Convention consent is necessary for any withdrawal. So the legal and indeed theological and ecclesiological position is extremely complicated. And it is absolutely not certain.

It has therefore not been possible to consider the consequences for our relationships at this immediate stage. And, in my view, any statement just at this point would be premature.

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Saturday, 17 November 2012

South Carolina: withdrawal from Episcopal Church confirmed

Updated Sunday morning

Episcopal News Service reports: South Carolina convention affirms decision to leave Episcopal Church

The majority of South Carolina Episcopalians who attended a special convention at St. Philip’s Church here Nov. 17 affirmed actions by Bishop Mark Lawrence and the diocesan Standing Committee a month ago to disaffiliate the diocese from the Episcopal Church.

Those actions took place after Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori restricted Lawrence’s ministry on Oct. 17 after the church’s Disciplinary Board for Bishops certified to her that he had abandoned the Episcopal Church “by an open renunciation of the discipline of the church.”

On that same day, the Standing Committee announced that the action of the Disciplinary Board “triggered two pre-existing corporate resolutions of the diocese, which simultaneously disaffiliated the diocese from the Episcopal Church and called a special convention.”

The bishop referred to the special convention as “the Valley of Decision” during his address and asserted, “It is time to turn the page.” He referred to attempts to prevent separation of the diocese, and his oft-mentioned issues of theology, morality and disagreement with church canons…

The full text of Bishop Lawrence’s address to the convention can be found here. It is worth reading in full.

The ENS report notes that:

..While the bishop referred to numerous letters of support from church leaders, he did not announce any open offers of affiliation with the Anglican Communion, and he confirmed that for now the separatist diocese will affiliate with no one. In a conference call following the convention, he confirmed that alignment is not on the table at present.

However, during his address, he claimed that “for now and the foreseeable future, having withdrawn from our association with TEC, we remain an extra-provincial diocese within the larger Anglican Communion.”

Such a designation requires action by the Anglican Consultative Council, which concluded a 12-day meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, on Nov. 7. No action on South Carolina was taken during that meeting and the council will not meet again until May 2016…

Updates

Diocese of South Carolina Turns the Page; Looks Forward

Special Convention Approves Canonical and Constitutional Amendments Regarding Disassociation

Today, Saturday, November 17, 2012, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina met in Special Convention at the “mother church of the Diocese,” historic St. Philip’s Church in Charleston. There, an overwhelming majority passed three resolutions…

Full details of the three resolutions can be found here (PDF).

Video of Bishop Lawrence’s address here.

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Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Diocese of South Carolina: confusing developments

Updated twice Thursday evening

Earlier reports were here, and also here.

Updates
Bishop Mark Lawrence has issued
A Message from Bishop Lawrence to the People of the Diocese of South Carolina which is also available as a PDF here.

…On Thursday, November 15, 2012, the following message to the people of the Diocese of South Carolina from Bishop Mark Lawrence was placed in the Charleston Post and Courier. The Bishop’s message reminds us that we are still here, where we always have been: a historic diocese remaining faithful to the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ and recognized as such by the vast majority of the Anglican Communion in spite of recent attempts to assume our identity by the new TEC Steering Committee…

ENS has published Presiding bishop’s pastoral letter to Episcopalians in South Carolina

Katharine, a servant of Christ, to the saints in South Carolina.
May the grace, mercy, and peace of Christ Jesus our Savior be with you all.
You and the challenges you are facing in South Carolina remain in my own prayers and in those of many, many Episcopalians. As the confusion increases, I would like to clarify a number of issues which I understand are being discussed…

——

The Episcopal Church has issued this Fact sheet: The Diocese of South Carolina dated 9 November.

The Diocese of South Carolina (i.e. the body headed by Bishop Mark Lawrence) has issued

And a rival diocesan website has appeared here. Its contents include:

The group South Carolina Episcopalians has issued numerous further documents, including

There are even more documents from other sources available here.

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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

GAFCON supports South Carolina

Following on from here,

GAFCON Primates Write in Support of Bishop Lawrence

…During our meeting last week in Dar es Salaam we took time to pray for you and the clergy and people of the Diocese of South Carolina. We are encouraged by your faithfulness to the Bible and rejoice in your clear stand for the Gospel.

We are grieved, however, by the attitude and actions of the leadership of The Episcopal Church and their efforts to demand canonical obedience through unjust means to their ungodly agenda. As we have made clear in the Jerusalem Declaration we reject their authority and call on them to repent and return to the Lord.

Please know that we continue to recognize you as a faithful Anglican bishop and the Diocese of South Carolina as part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church….

and in this October Pastoral Letter there was an express mention of South Carolina:

…As a result of the increased aggressiveness of the revisionists there are now those in every province and beyond who wish to stand with us and who need our help to stand for Christ: in Recife (Brazil), in South Carolina, in the Church of Scotland, in Ireland, in England, in Australia and many more. We received reports from various FCA affiliates and rejoice in their faithful witness in the face of tremendous pressure and were delighted to receive an application for the establishment of an FCA affiliate in Australia.

We were also reminded of the need for prayer for those who will gather in Auckland, New Zealand, for the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. In particular we prayed that they will avoid compromise and have the courage to declare boldly the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is good news for all people at all times and in all cultures…

And there was this letter from the UK.

A group called South Carolina Episcopalians has a different take on events. See for example, this Frequently Asked Questions page.

The Living Church has just published this article by Mark McCall titled Dumbing Abandonment Down. This needs to be read in full, but here’s an excerpt:

…To step back from the canonical fine print, the larger question is whether South Carolina intended to leave the Episcopal Church by these acts. The answer quite obviously is no. It is obvious for three reasons. First, even the disciplinary board never claims that the diocese either withdrew or attempted to withdraw from the Episcopal Church by these actions. It claims only that the modification of the accession clause violated the Episcopal Church’s Constitution. But South Carolina’s legal counsel correctly advised the convention before it voted on these resolutions that seven dioceses have no accession clause at all and another 15, like South Carolina after the 2010 vote, accede only to the Constitution.

Second, the advocates of the resolutions, including Bishop Lawrence, said explicitly on the floor of the convention that “we are not deciding to leave the national church by passing these; in no way are we deciding that” (the Very Rev. John B. Burwell) and “we are called to resist what many of us believe is a self-destructive trajectory within the Episcopal Church; and to resist until it is no longer possible” (Bishop Lawrence).

Third, South Carolina has continued to participate in the life of the Episcopal Church since these resolutions were passed two years ago, including participating in the House of Bishops and General Convention. It is puzzling how bishops who sat next to Bishop Lawrence at General Convention in July could then vote in September that he had abandoned the church back in 2010…

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Sunday, 28 October 2012

Conciliation sought for bishops involved in property disputes

There is an article for Episcopal News Service which reports a development for which there is as yet no official statement at all from The Episcopal Church: Reference panel recommends conciliation with 9 bishops.

An Episcopal Church reference panel has apparently recommended seeking “conciliation” with nine bishops (five active and four retired) after two complaints were filed earlier this year about their involvement in property litigation in two dioceses.

According to information circulating on some blogs, the reference panel unanimously decided that the complaints would proceed with conciliation pursuant to Canon IV.10 of the Episcopal Church’s Constitution and Canons.

Conciliation, according to the canon, calls for seeking a resolution “which promotes healing, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, justice, amendment of life and reconciliation among the complainant, respondent, affected community, other persons and the church.”

An earlier ENS report in July by Mary Frances Schjonberg was headlined Disciplinary process set to begin on complaints against nine bishops.

The more recent article summarises the complaints thus:

In one instance, the complaint concerns the fact that seven bishops endorsed an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief prepared by the Anglican Communion Institute, Inc. in the pending appeal of a court ruling involving the Diocese of Fort Worth and the bishop, clergy and laity who broke away from that diocese in November 2008.

The brief objects to the trial court’s ruling that told the dissidents to return “all property, as well as control of the diocesan corporation” to the Episcopal leaders of the diocese.

Those named in the Fort Worth complaint are retired Diocese of Texas Bishop Maurice M. Benitez, retired Diocese of Central Florida Bishop John W. Howe, Diocese of Dallas Bishop Suffragan Paul E. Lambert, Diocese of Albany Bishop William H. Love, Diocese of Western Louisiana Bishop D. Bruce MacPherson, Diocese of Springfield Bishop Daniel H. Martins, and Diocese of Dallas Bishop James M. Stanton.

MacPherson is also named in the other complaint, along with retired Diocese of South Carolina Bishop Edward L. Salmon, Jr. and retired Diocese of Springfield Bishop Peter H. Beckwith. Matthews e-mailed them to say that a complaint has been received against them because they signed affidavits opposing to a motion for summary judgment made by representatives of the Diocese of Quincy and the Episcopal Church in the fall of 2011 to secure diocesan financial assets from a group that broke from the diocese in November 2008.

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More about the Diocese of South Carolina

See our recent reports, here, here, and here.

In the past week, there have been these developments:

The diocese has published this FAQs About the Assault on the Diocese of South Carolina, also available as a PDF.

GlobalSouthAnglican published a Letter from the Global South Primates Steering Committeee to Bishop Mark Lawrence.

This is also reported by ENS as Two primates write letter in support of South Carolina bishop.

ACNA published An Open Word of Encouragement to the Bishops, Clergy and People of the Diocese of South Carolina.

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Saturday, 20 October 2012

South Carolina: the diocese responds again to TEC

The Diocese of South Carolina has published several further statements on its website:

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Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Diocese of South Carolina responds

The Diocese of South Carolina has published in addition to the announcement reported previously, the following documents:

The Board of Directors and Standing Committee unanimously vote to call a Special Convention the first Saturday that is 30 days after any “Action” by The Episcopal Church (“TEC”) against Bishop Lawrence.

September 20, 2012: Standing Committee asks Bishop Lawrence to interpret provisions of the Constitution & Canons of the Diocese. October 2, 2012: Bishop Lawrence issues his interpretation of the Constitution & Canons.

Standing Committee and Board of Directors vote unanimously to disaffiliate with, and withdraw membership from, TEC effective upon the taking of any “action” as specified in the motion

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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Presiding Bishop restricts ministry of Bishop of South Carolina

Updated again twice on Thursday evening

The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church has issued this notice:

Office of the Presiding Bishop

On October 10, 2012, I received from the Disciplinary Board for Bishops a certification pursuant to Canon IV.16(A)(1) that The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, had abandoned the Episcopal Church within the meaning of that canon.
Accordingly, I have this 15th day of October, 2012, at noon EDT, placed a restriction on the exercise of ministry of Bishop Lawrence “until such time as the House of Bishops shall investigate the matter and act thereon.” During the period of such restriction, “the Bishop shall not perform any Episcopal, ministerial or canonical acts.”

Dated: October 15, 2012
(The Most Rev.) Katharine Jefferts Schori XXVI Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

The certification mentioned above can be found here. Three “events” are referred to:

  • Resolutions passed by the Diocesan Convention of October 2010, which the bishop approved
  • Documents filed with the State of South Carolina in November 2011 which the bishop had signed
  • Quitclaim deeds issued by the diocesan chancellor to numerous parishes around November 2011, which the bishop had instructed him to do.

The Diocese of South Carolina has issued the following statement:

On Monday, October 15, 2012, Bishop Mark J. Lawrence, the 14th Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina was notified by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, that on September 18, 2012 the Disciplinary Board for Bishops had certified his abandonment of The Episcopal Church. This action by The Episcopal Church triggered two pre-existing corporate resolutions of the Diocese, which simultaneously disaffiliated the Diocese from The Episcopal Church and called a Special Convention. That Convention will be held at St. Philip’s Church, Charleston, on Saturday, November 17, 2012.

Bishop Lawrence was notified of these actions taken by the Episcopal Church between two meetings, one held on October 3 and one to be held on October 22, which Bishop Andrew Waldo of the Upper Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Lawrence had set up with the Presiding Bishop to find a peaceful alternative to the growing issues between The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina. The meetings were to explore “creative solutions” for resolving these issues to avoid further turmoil in the Diocese and in The Episcopal Church. A timeline of these events and their associated documents may be found below.

Two of the three charges had previously been determined by a majority vote of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops in November 2011 not to constitute abandonment. The Diocese has not received a signed copy of the certification and also remains uninformed of the identity of those making these charges.

We feel a deep sense of sadness but a renewed sense of God’s providence that The Episcopal Church has chosen to act against this Diocese and its Bishop during a good faith attempt peacefully to resolve our differences. These actions make it clear The Episcopal Church no longer desires to be affiliated with the Diocese of South Carolina.

Updates

Episcopal News Service has published Disciplinary Board for Bishops certifies that South Carolina bishop has abandoned the church.

The Disciplinary Board for Bishops has advised Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori that the majority of the 18-member panel has determined that Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina has abandoned the Episcopal Church “by an open renunciation of the Discipline of the Church.”

Following complaints of 12 adult members and two priests of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, the determination was made under Canon IV.16(A).
The 18 member board – composed of 10 bishops, four clergy, four laity – issued a letter dated September 18. Following the assembly of numerous documents, the Presiding Bishop received the letter in her Church Center office on October 10; the letter was received via U.S. Mail.

On Monday October 15, the Presiding Bishop called Lawrence and, speaking directly with him, informed him of the action of the Disciplinary Board. She also informed him that, effective noon of that day, the exercise of his ministry was restricted. Therefore, under the canon, he is not permitted to perform any acts as an ordained person.

From here, Lawrence has 60 days to respond to the allegations in the certification…

And ENS has a lot of historical background to this in a further report: Disciplinary Board says South Carolina bishop has abandoned church.

Episcopal News Service has a further report: South Carolina Episcopalians explain complaint against bishop.

A South Carolina attorney involved in the complaints filed with the Episcopal Church’s Disciplinary Board for Bishops that resulted in the board certifying that Diocese of South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence had abandoned the Episcopal Church issued the following release Oct. 18.

With much deliberation, Melinda A. Lucka, an attorney in the Charleston, S.C. area and an active communicant in the Diocese of South Carolina, requested that the Disciplinary Board for Bishops review various actions of Bishop Lawrence that have taken place over the past two years. Ms. Lucka asked the Board if it could make a determination as to whether or not the actions were consistent with the mission and polity of The Episcopal Church…

And there is yet another ENS report: South Carolinians say diocesan actions were ‘too far out of bounds’.

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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Following the Money: funding the Anglican Right

In April 2006, we published Funding the Anglican Right linking to a major report entitled Following the Money: Donors and Activists on the Anglican Right.

Due to a subsequent rebuild of the website on which it originally appeared, the links to the full text of the report became broken.

A PDF version of the entire report is now available at this location.

In September 2006, we also published Has any Ahmanson money reached the UK?

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Wednesday, 11 July 2012

General Convention declines to take a position on the Anglican Covenant

ENS reports Convention ‘declines to take a position’ on Anglican Covenant.

The House of Bishops concurred with the deputies July 10 to affirm their commitment to building relationships across the Anglican Communion, especially through the Continuing Indaba program, and to decline to take a position on the Anglican Covenant.

After considering eight resolutions, the General Convention’s committee on world mission recommended adoption of two resolutions on Anglican Communion relationships and the Anglican Covenant, a document that initially had been intended as a way to bind Anglicans globally across cultural and theological differences.

Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, chair of the world mission committee, told ENS following the vote that the resolutions are “a genuine pastoral response because we are not of one mind, and to push a decision at this time would cause hurt and alienation in our church on both sides and instead we chose to stay in the conversation.”

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition issued this statement:

The wind has clearly gone out of the sails of the Anglican Covenant. There was not even a single dissenting vote when the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia declared itself unable to adopt the Covenant. While our Coalition would have preferred a clearer “no” from the Episcopal Church, the resolution passed in Indianapolis is scarcely more than an abstention – and the commitment to “monitor the ongoing developments” rings hollow when we consider that the same General Convention phased out funding for the Episcopal Church staff position for Anglican Communion affairs. Perhaps they will monitor the situation by following #noanglicancovenant on Twitter.

The next major step in the Covenant process will be at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, this fall. We understand that there will be an attempt to introduce a ratification threshold and a sunset date to the Covenant process. Depending on the details, our Coalition is likely to be broadly supportive of both initiatives.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 10:47pm BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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General Convention approves Same Sex Blessings

Updated again Sunday morning
Episcopal News Service reports: Blessing rite authorized for provisional use from First Advent

Same-gender couples soon can have their lifelong relationships blessed using a rite approved by General Convention July 10.

In a vote by orders, the House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops to pass Resolution A049, which authorizes provisional use of the rite “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” starting Dec. 2 (the first Sunday of Advent). Clergy will need the permission of their bishop under the terms of the resolution.

The motion in the House of Deputies carried by 78 percent in the clergy order, with the clergy in 85 deputations voting yes, 22 no and four divided; and 76 percent in the lay order, with laity in 86 deputations voting yes, 19 no and five divided. The bishops had approved the resolution on July 9 with a roll call vote of 111 to 41 with three abstentions…

The text of the resolution, as amended, is here as a PDF.

The Diocese of South Carolina released a statement in opposition to this action.

Some other statements in reaction to this, and some press coverage can be found here.

Updates

Anglican Ink reports
12 bishops say no to gay blessings

A coalition of conservative and moderate bishops attending the 77th General Convention has released a statement denouncing the passage of Resolution A059: “Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Sex Relationships.”

The “Indianapolis Statement” joins declarations by the bishops and deputations of South Carolina and Central Florida in rejecting the authorization of provisional local rites for gay blessings as being contrary to Scripture, the Prayer Book, the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, and the undivided theological, pastoral and moral witness of the universal church for the past 2000 years…

and South Carolina walks out of General Convention

“Due to the actions of General Convention, the South Carolina Deputation has concluded that we cannot continue with business as usual. We all agree that we cannot and will not remain on the floor of the House and act as if all is normal. John Burwell and Lonnie Hamilton have agreed to remain at Convention to monitor further developments and by their presence demonstrate that our action is not to be construed as a departure from the Episcopal Church. Please pray for those of us who will be traveling early and for those who remain.”

and South Carolina not seceding from the Episcopal Church

Sunday Updates
Statement from Diocese of Central Florida
Statement from Diocese of Albany (PDF)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 at 8:37am BST | Comments (121) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Bishop Mark Lawrence & Bishop John Guernsey

From Titusonenine:

A Crucial Apr. 25 Presentation—Bishop Mark Lawrence, S. Carolina, and ACNA Bishop John Guernsey

The Guildford Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship invite you to an An evening with Bishop Mark Lawrence (TEC Bishop of South Carolina) and Bishop John Guernsey (ACNA Bishop of Mid-Atlantic) On 25th April 2012 at 8 pm At Holy Trinity Claygate, Church Road, Claygate, Surrey, KT10 0JP

We are delighted that Bishop Mark Lawrence, the Episcopal Church Bishop for the Diocese of South Carolina, and Bishop John Guernsey, the Anglican Church in North America Bishop for the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, have agreed

  • to bring us up to date with developments amongst Anglicans in North America;
  • to tell us why some orthodox Anglicans have considered it appropriate to work within TEC whilst others have considered it appropriate to work within ACNA; and
  • to explain to us how people within the two organisations who hold similar views are generally able to continue to support each other in spreading the Gospel.

Kendall Harmon adds:

Please note this is is a long evening of some 1 hour and 40 minutes. During the introduction the following people are mentioned—it is opened by Philip Plyming, vicar of Holy Trinity, Claygate, and then chairman, Stephen Hofmeyr, QC. There is then a message from Bishop Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford given by the Ven. Julian Henderson, Archdeacon of Dorking. Both Mark Lawrence (who goes first) and John Guernsey then give presentations of some twenty minutes which takes you to approximately one hour. After that there are questions from those present to the two bishops about the matters at hand. Archdeacon Julian Henderson then offers brief concluding remarks.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 29 April 2012 at 6:21pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 21 April 2012

Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced a settlement of their property dispute on 17 April and issued this joint statement.

Joint Statement from Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

4/17/2012

Truro Anglican Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced today a settlement that concludes five years of litigation that arose after Truro Anglican and other parishes left the Episcopal Church in 2006 to become part of what is now the Anglican Church in North America.

The settlement follows a January ruling in which the Circuit Court of Fairfax County held that all real and personal property held by the parishes at the time they left the denomination belongs to the Diocese.

Under terms of the settlement, the Diocese has given Truro Anglican a rent-free lease of the church buildings at 10520 Main Street in Fairfax, as well as two rectories, until June 30, 2013. Truro Anglican will deed the properties to the Diocese by April 30, 2012, and will pay the operating costs of the properties during the term of the lease. In addition, the Diocese has the option to use a small portion of the church building during the lease, as determined between the Rev. Tory Baucum, rector of Truro Anglican, and the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop of the Diocese of Virginia.

Additionally, Truro Anglican has agreed to pay $50,000 to resolve diocesan claims for liquid assets due under the court’s order. The parties had already agreed on division of the tangible personal property held by Truro Anglican.

In several previous settlements, Anglican parishes that leased Episcopal property agreed to sever ties with all Anglican bodies during the term of the lease. Under today’s settlement, however, the parties have agreed that Truro Anglican will maintain its affiliation with the Anglican Church of North America and its Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. Because the Diocese and Truro Anglican are part of different ecclesiastical bodies who share the Anglican tradition, they have agreed to follow a process during the term of the lease by which bishops may visit Truro Anglican with the permission of Bishop Johnston.

An important feature of this settlement is that both sides have agreed to enter into a covenant of mutual charity and respect. This document will frame the way the Diocese and Truro Anglican will deal with one another and speak of one another. The covenant is being drafted by the Rev. Baucum and Bishop Johnston.

“This is an important step for the Diocese of Virginia and Truro Anglican,” said Bishop Johnston. “What the Diocese has sought since the court’s ruling has been a ‘witness’ and not merely an ‘outcome.’ The parties have carried on a public dispute for five years and it is important that we publicly begin to make peace.”

Bishop Johnston and the Rev. Baucum have been meeting together for prayer and conversation for over a year. “Bishop Johnston and I have become friends,” said the Rev. Baucum. “In spite of our significant theological differences, we care for and are committed to each other as brothers in Christ.”

“We are grateful for the Diocese’s generosity in allowing us to continue to use the property for another 15 months at no cost,” said the Rev. Baucum. “This allows us time to make a good transition to interim facilities and then to our new church home.”

“Tory and I believe that this is an opening for a transformative witness to many across the worldwide Anglican Communion,” added Bishop Johnston.

A settlement in another property dispute also involving the diocese of Virginia was announced the previous day: Diocese Settles with St. Paul’s Church, Anglican, Haymarket.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 21 April 2012 at 4:50pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Court rules for Diocese of Virginia in property dispute

From the Diocese of Virginia: Court Rules in Favor of Diocese

1/10/2012

Tonight, the Fairfax Circuit Court issued its ruling in favor of the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church in litigation seeking to recover Episcopal church property. “Our goal throughout this litigation has been to return faithful Episcopalians to their church homes and Episcopal properties to the mission of the Church,” said the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop of Virginia.

The court ruled that the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia have “a contractual and proprietary interest” in each of the properties subject to the litigation. The court ordered that all property subject to its ruling be turned over to the Diocese.

“We hope that this ruling will lead to our congregations returning to worship in their church homes in the near future, while finding a way to support the CANA congregations as they plan their transition,” said Henry D.W. Burt, secretary of the Diocese and chief of staff.

Bishop Johnston added, “While we are grateful for the decision in our favor, we remain mindful of the toll this litigation has taken on all parties involved, and we continue to pray for all affected by the litigation.”

The ruling can be found here (PDF).

From the CANA website: Statement by the ACNA Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic

(January 10, 2012) – Seven Anglican congregations in Virginia that are parties to the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia are reviewing today’s ruling by the Fairfax County Circuit Court that the property should be turned over to the Episcopal Diocese.

The Circuit Court heard the case last spring after the Virginia Supreme Court remanded it in June 2010. The congregations previously had succeeded in their efforts on the Circuit Court level to defend the property that they bought and paid for.

“Although we are profoundly disappointed by today’s decision, we offer our gratitude to Judge Bellows for his review of this case. As we prayerfully consider our legal options, we above all remain steadfast in our effort to defend the historic Christian faith. Regardless of today’s ruling, we are confident that God is in control, and that He will continue to guide our path,” said Jim Oakes, spokesperson for the seven Anglican congregations.

The Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, a historic property involved in the case, stated, “The core issue for us is not physical property, but theological and moral truth and the intellectual integrity of faith in the modern world. Wherever we worship, we remain Anglicans because we cannot compromise our historic faith. Like our spiritual forebears in the Reformation, ‘Here we stand. So help us God. We can do no other.’”

The seven Anglican congregations are members of the newly established Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, a member diocese within the Anglican Church in North America. Bishop John Guernsey of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic has expressed to leaders of the seven congregations, “Our trust is in the Lord who is ever faithful. He is in control and He will enable you to carry forward your mission for the glory of Jesus Christ and the extension of His Kingdom. Know that your brothers and sisters in Christ continue to stand with you and pray for you.”

The Anglican Curmudgeon has his analysis of the judgment here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 11 January 2012 at 10:05am GMT | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Friday, 6 January 2012

Looking ahead: The Episcopal Church in 2012

Jim Naughton wrote at Episcopal Café about the year ahead for The Episcopal Church.

A number of comments related to this article were made in an earlier thread here, which was about an English subject: Same-sex Marriage and Disestablishment.

In order to stop the discussion on the latter topic being dominated by Americans discussing something quite different, I have created this article.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 6 January 2012 at 2:57pm GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 1 January 2012

US Ordinariate is announced

A year after the Ordinariate was established in England and Wales, the corresponding announcements have been made in the USA.

Rocco Palmo Upon This “Rock,” An Ordinariate Is Born

In an unprecedented Sunday announcement — a significant sign of Rome’s degree of seriousness about the effort — the Vatican’s press bulletin gave official word of the erection of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, encompassing the territory of the United States. The national quasi-diocese for the entering groups is the second of its kind, following England’s Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was launched a year ago this month.

Fr Jeffrey Steenson, 59, the former Episcopal bishop of Rio Grande ordained a priest of the archdiocese of Santa Fe in 2009, has been named the founding Ordinary. A married father of three and Oxford-trained patristics scholar who’s been serving until now as a professor at Houston’s St Mary’s Seminary and University of St Thomas, Steenson’s appointment is effective immediately…

George Conger Jeffrey Steenson to lead the Anglican Ordinariate in the U.S.

The Vatican has appointed the former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande to head up the American branch of the Anglican Ordinariate.

On 1 Jan 2012 the Vatican announced that Fr. Jeffrey Steenson had been named the Ordinary for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. The American branch of the ordinariate will be based in Houston, Texas and is the second national jurisdiction for former Anglicans established under the provisions of Pope Benedict’s 2009 apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum coetibus”.

A second former Episcopal clergyman, Fr. Scott Hurd, who was received into the Catholic Church in 1996 and is presently a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, has been appointed vicar-general of the ordinariate for a three-year term, the Vatican announcement said…

The website of the American Ordinariate is here.

Update

The situation with respect to Canada is discussed here by Rocco Palmo On Day One, The Ordinariate Spreads North.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 1 January 2012 at 6:29pm GMT | Comments (49) | TrackBack
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Monday, 26 December 2011

Sudan bishops like ACNA and snub TEC's Presiding Bishop

Updated Friday
The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of Sudan has issued a statement, and also sent a letter to the Presiding Bishop of TEC.

See the news report by George Conger in the Church of England Newspaper Sudan breaks with the Episcopal Church.

The American Episcopal Church’s support for gay bishops and blessings has led the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) to ban Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori from visiting the church. The dis-invitation to Bishop Jefferts Schori follows a vote by the ECS House of Bishops last month to swap its recognition of the Episcopal Church for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as the legitimate expression of Anglicanism in the United States…

The letter reads as follows:

“The Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church United States of America
Thursday 15th December 2011

Dear Bishop Katharine,

Advent greetings to you in the name of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

It is with a heavy heart that I write you informing you of our decision as a House of Bishops to withdraw your invitation to the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS). We acknowledge your personal efforts to spearhead prayer and support campaigns on behalf of the ECS and remain very grateful for this attention you and your church have paid to Sudan and South Sudan. However, it remains difficult for us to invite you when elements of your church continue to flagrantly disregard biblical teaching on human sexuality.

Find attached a statement further explaining our position as a province.

(Signed)

—(The Most Rev.) Dr. Daniel Deng Bul Yak, Archbishop Primate and Metropolitan of the Province of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan and Bishop of the Diocese of Juba “

The statement, which has appeared on various blog websites reads as follows:

STATEMENT OF HOUSE OF BISHOPS OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF SUDAN ON HUMAN SEXUALITY

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan in its meeting held in Juba from 14-16, November 2011 in the context of General Synod has reaffirmed the statement of the Sudanese Bishops at the Lambeth Conference in 2008 as quoted below:

“We reject homosexual practice as contrary to Biblical teaching and can accept no place for it within ECS. We strongly oppose developments within the Anglican Church in USA and Canada in consecrating a practicing homosexual as bishop and in approving a rite for the blessing of same-sex relationships.”

We are deeply disappointed by The Episcopal Church’s refusal to abide by Biblical teaching on human sexuality and their refusal to listen to fellow Anglicans. For example, TEC Diocese of Los Angles, California in 2010 elected and consecrated Mary Douglas Glasspool as their first lesbian assistant Bishop. We are not happy with their acts of continuing ordaining homosexuals and lesbians as priests and bishops as well as blessing same sex relations in the church by some dioceses in TEC; it has pushed itself away from God’s Word and from Anglican Communion. TEC is not concerned for the unity of the Communion.

The Episcopal Church of Sudan is recognizing the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) fully as true faithful Orthodox Church and we will work with them to expand the Kingdom of God in the world. Also we will work with those Parishes and Dioceses in TEC who are Evangelical Orthodox Churches and faithful to God.

We will not compromise our faith on this and we will not give TEC advice anymore, because TEC ignored and has refused our advices.

(The Most Rev.) Dr. Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop and Primate of Episcopal Church of Sudan, Juba, 12th December 2011

Responses from American dioceses are recorded by Episcopal Café in Dioceses respond cautiously to latest letter from Church of Sudan.

Update
The report on this from last week’s Church Times is now available, see Sudan chides US and backs ACNA.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 26 December 2011 at 2:42pm GMT | Comments (67) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Bishop of South Carolina cleared by Disciplinary Board

Updated Tuesday evening

A Statement by the President of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops
Regarding the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina
from here.

On November 22, the Disciplinary Board for Bishops met via conference call to consider whether, based on information previously submitted to the Board by lay communicants and a priest of the Diocese of South Carolina, the Bishop of that Diocese, the Right Rev’d Mark Lawrence, has abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church.

Based on the information before it, the Board was unable to make the conclusions essential to a certification that Bishop Lawrence had abandoned the communion of the Church. I have today communicated the Board’s action to Bishop Lawrence by telephone, to be followed by an e-mail copy of this statement.

The abandonment canon (Title IV, Canon16) is quite specific, designating only three courses of action by which a Bishop is to be found to have abandoned the church: first, “by an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline or Worship of the Church”; second, “by formal admission into any religious body not in communion with” the Church; and, third, “by exercising Episcopal acts in and for a religious body other than the Church or another church in communion with the Church, so as to extend to such body Holy Orders as the Church holds them, or to administer on behalf of such religious body Confirmation without the express consent and commission of the proper authority in the Church….” Applied strictly to the information under study, none of these three provisions was deemed applicable by a majority of the Board.

A basic question the Board faced was whether actions by conventions of the Diocese of South Carolina, though they seem—I repeat, seem—to be pointing toward abandonment of the Church and its discipline by the diocese, and even though supported by the Bishop, constitute abandonment by the Bishop. A majority of the members of the Board was unable to conclude that they do.

It is also significant that Bishop Lawrence has repeatedly stated that he does not intend to lead the diocese out of The Episcopal Church—that he only seeks a safe place within the Church to live the Christian faith as that diocese perceives it. I speak for myself only at this point, that I presently take the Bishop at his word, and hope that the safety he seeks for the apparent majority in his diocese within the larger Church will become the model for safety—a “safe place”—for those under his episcopal care who do not agree with the actions of South Carolina’s convention and/or his position on some of the issues of the Church.

The Right Rev’d Dorsey F. Henderson, Jr.
President, Disciplinary Board for Bishops

For extensive background on this case, see ENS Disciplinary Board dismisses abandonment complaint against South Carolina bishop by Mary Frances Schjonberg

…Lawrence told the diocese Oct. 5 that he was being investigated for abandonment. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the House of Bishops were not involved in making the claims, Henderson said at the time via a “fact sheet.”

The package of documents alleging his abandonment of the church that Lawrence said he received Sept. 29 from Henderson, is posted here on the diocese’s website. The documents contained 12 allegations of when Lawrence’s “actions and inactions” sought to abandon the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church…

And an earlier ENS report is: South Carolina bishop investigated on charges he has abandoned the Episcopal Church.

Doug LeBlanc recently interviewed Bishop Lawrence for the Living Church, see ‘The Bishop Brings the Crozier’.

Update Tuesday evening
The following has been published on the diocesan website: Bishop Lawrence Writes to the Diocese About Disciplinary Board Decision.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 29 November 2011 at 12:23am GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

More on the South Carolina disciplinary case

Updated Thursday evening

Last week’s report is here.

Since the last update, several more developments have occurred.

On 14 October, The Living Church reported Church Attorney Recuses Herself

On 17 October, The Living Church reported Attorney J.B. Burtch Returns to Lawrence Case.

And the ACI published South Carolina: Upholding The Church’s Discipline By Upholding The Constitution.

And Anglican Curmudgeon published The Kangaroo Court Should Resign in Toto.

The next day, Preludium asked Why is the old TItle IV better than the new?

And today, the Bishop of Upper South Carolina, Andrew Waldo wrote an opinion column for The State newspaper titled Unity, diversity both necessary and possible in Episcopal Church.

Episcopalians in the Columbia-based Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina are watching with heavy hearts as our brothers and sisters in the Charleston-based Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina contend with allegations that their bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, has “abandoned the communion” of the Episcopal Church.

We appreciate Bishop Dorsey Henderson’s clarification that the church’s disciplinary board, which he chairs, is merely looking to see if the charges have merit, not prosecuting Bishop Lawrence on the basis of them (“Calm urged over Lawrence inquiry,” Friday).

I consider Bishop Lawrence a friend and respected fellow-laborer in the vineyards of the Lord. I know him to be a loyal and faithful minister who seeks to raise valid and serious questions as to the theology, polity and structure of the Episcopal Church. Our church has a long history of theological diversity and respect for those with whom we disagree, and we can all benefit from the challenge of addressing these questions openly and in a spirit of mutual charity. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that is too often hostile to disagreement and unwilling to engage in honest dialogue with those who have different views. Our churches are not immune from this, and all who follow a loving God have each to ask God to forgive us for any roles we may have played in that hostility over the years.

I do not intend to prejudge the matters being considered by the review board; however, it is hard for me to see how the actions complained of against Bishop Lawrence rise to the level of an intentional abandonment of the communion of this church, as is charged. I have difficulty understanding why matters that are arguably legislative and constitutional in nature should be dealt with in a disciplinary context. I await the report and yet hope the review board shares my difficulty…

Thursday evening update
ACI has published South Carolina: The Church Needs Transparency

We have considered carefully the available information related to the allegations against Bishop Mark Lawrence that are currently under review by the Disciplinary Board for Bishops. That information discloses an extended and troubling sequence of events that raises serious questions about transparency in the church…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 19 October 2011 at 10:41pm BST | Comments (45) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

PA Supreme Court rejects Archbishop Duncan's appeal

Updated Wednesday evening

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has rejected the last appeal made by the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh (ACNA).

From the court document (PDF):


ORDER

PER CURIAM
         And now, this 17th day of October, 2011 the Petition for Allowance of Appeal is hereby DENIED.

From the diocesan website:

On October 17, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the request of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh to appeal the ruling of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

18th October, A.D. 2011
Feast of St. Luke

TO ALL CLERGY AND LAY LEADERS OF THE ANGLICAN DIOCESE:

Dearest Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

I write to you today to inform you that our appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has been rejected. We accept that the courts have not found in our favor and will, of course, comply with all court orders.

We remain committed to reaching a negotiated settlement with the Episcopal Church diocese. In light of this judgment by the courts, we will redouble that commitment to reaching a final resolution of all issues between the Episcopal Church diocese and the Anglican diocese through negotiation.

We intend to persevere in our mission, which is to be Anglican Christians transforming our world with Jesus Christ. We do this chiefly by planting congregations. As at every annual Convention since realignment, congregations are being added to our diocese both locally and across the country, for which we give thanks to God. We pray God’s continued favor on our mission, his grace towards those who remain within the Episcopal Church, and his help for our beloved Communion as we move into the challenges and opportunities of this new millennium. May the Gospel of our Lord Christ find a fresh hearing all across his Church and his world!

Faithfully your Bishop and Archbishop,

The Most Rev. Robert Duncan
Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh
Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America

Update

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has issued this statement: Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeal of Property Rulings.

n an order issued October 17, 2011, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania rejected an appeal seeking to challenge lower court rulings holding that, under the terms of the 2005 settlement of the Calvary suit, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church was the rightful trustee of diocesan-held property.

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision. The issues presented to the court had been adequately reviewed and ruled on, first by the Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County, then on appeal by Commonwealth Court. Each ruling consistently supported the position of the Episcopal Diocese. We hope that all litigation over these issues will now cease.

The Court’s ruling also affirms that the Episcopal Diocese holds the title to the property of a number of parishes where congregations had ceased to actively participate in the Diocese. We will continue to encourage them to return to active participation in the Diocese, and in the meantime to be good stewards of the property. This Diocese remains committed to working through these issues with each of the affected congregations.

A previous diocesan statement, which includes a link to the Commonwealth Court decision, is available here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 18 October 2011 at 11:45pm BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Friday, 14 October 2011

further developments in the South Carolina case

Updated Friday evening

Following on from here, the stream of material continues. Making sense of it all is not easy.

The Diocese of South Carolina has issued this: Diocese Releases Correspondence Relating to Josephine Hicks, Church Attorney

The Living Church has published Bishop: Attorney Never on Disciplinary Board.

TitusOneNine has published a helpful index of documents published so far.

Episcopal Café has published an analysis of events, titled The game is afoot in South Carolina.

Preludium has published On this business of accession to the General Convention and What to do if you (Diocese of South Carolina) don’t like Title IV (or TEC’s “direction.”)

Anglican Curmudgeon has published Why Would Any Disciplinary Board Choose Ms. Hicks?

Friday evening update
Living Church Church Attorney Recuses Herself

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 14 October 2011 at 3:03pm BST | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

South Carolina bishop: more on the disciplinary process

Updated yet again Thursday afternoon

See earlier report South Carolina bishop accused of “abandonment”.

In the comments to that article, I provided links to some criticisms of what was, at the time, assumed to be the process being followed. It now appears that those assumptions were wrong. The Living Church reports:

In response to questions from The Living Church and others, the Rt. Rev. Dorsey Henderson, president of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, provided this explanation regarding accusations brought to the board against the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, Bishop of South Carolina.

See Bp. Henderson Explains Disciplinary Board’s Duty.

A question has arisen about the process for administration of the so-called “abandonment” canon (Title IV.16) especially as it applies to bishops. Although it has come in a couple of forms, the question might be expressed in this way: “Who initiates action when information arises which indicates that abandonment of The Episcopal Church may have occurred?”

In accordance with the canon, such proceedings are begun at the initiative of the Disciplinary Board itself (although this has not happened within memory, if ever), or when information is received by the Disciplinary Board from any credible source with standing to raise the issue. Perhaps the following is helpful.

Title IV.16 is entitled “Of Abandonment of The Episcopal Church,” and sub-section (A) is the portion thereof which relates to bishops. It designates that conduct which constitutes abandonment and specifies the process for administration of the canon when such conduct happens, or is alleged to have happened.

Title IV.17 is entitled “Of Proceedings for Bishops.” It addresses terminology applicable to Title IV.16, but the canons make clear that the process to be followed for abandonment is markedly different from that to be followed with other kinds of infractions…

This has provoked further critical comments:

ACI Title IV: Abandonment Without Offense? and Anglican Curmudgeon Bishop Henderson: It’s “Business as Usual” in the Church.

The full text of the Title IV canons can be found here (PDF).

Some more background can be found in this ENS news report from June: Disciplinary Board for Bishops formed for new Title IV canons.

Wednesday evening update

The Diocese of South Carolina has published this account of a meeting held yesterday, Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese Meet to Discuss “Serious Charges” Made Against Bishop Lawrence.

In an atmosphere of prayerful solemnity, the Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina gathered at Saint James Church, James Island, S.C. for more than two hours on Tuesday, October 12. In focus were the “serious charges” that have been made against Bishop Mark Lawrence and the diocese under the new Title IV canons.

Bishop Lawrence began by restating the diocesan vision of “Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age” and then traced the history of the current controversy in The Episcopal Church and the many obstacles they presented to pursuing our diocesan vision. He ended with the two recent diocesan conventions in which the diocese refused to be coerced into the Episcopal Church’s embrace of the new title IV canons which violate both due process and the Episcopal Church’s own constitution. Of further concern with the current allegations is that evidently this process doesn’t allow the accused to know who his accusers are…

Thursday lunchtime update

The State a newspaper in South Carolina reports Bishop urges calm over Lawrence inquiry

Retired Episcopal Bishop Dorsey F. Henderson Jr. sought Wednesday to quell tensions among S.C. Lowcountry clergy, saying the national church is not attacking its bishop, the Right Rev. Mark Lawrence.

Henderson, who heads the national Episcopal Church’s Disciplinary Board for Bishops, told Lawrence Sept. 29 that the board is investigating allegations, made by churchgoers within Lawrence’s diocese, that he abandoned the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church.

But Wednesday Henderson made clear that the inquiry is in its earliest stages and in no way implies that Lawrence may have committed any wrong. Henderson said he notified Lawrence and shared all the information the board had received.

“I thought he needed to know,” said Henderson, who led the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina until his retirement in 2009. “I thought it was only fair for him to know that we had this information and that we were studying it.”

…But Henderson said, “The idea that the Episcopal Church is after Bishop Lawrence and after the diocese is incorrect. I’m going to keep the board focused and, as much as humanly possible, to stay narrowly focused on the canon and to see if that information fits the definition of abandonment.”

Thursday afternoon update

Bishop Henderson has issued a further statement which is copied in full below the fold.

Statement from Bishop Henderson:

The Role of the Disciplinary Board Regarding the Bishop of South Carolina.

Public media has recently reported that the “The Episcopal Church is alleging that Bishop Mark Lawrence has abandoned the church….” That is incorrect.

This action originated with communicants of the Bishop Lawrence’s own diocese, who submitted information to the Disciplinary Board for the House of Bishops. Those communicants requested that the information be studied in order to determine if abandonment had occurred.

The Disciplinary Board, made up of bishops, other clergy, and lay people from many dioceses across the country (none of whom are in the employ of, or under the direction of, the Episcopal Church Center), does not have the discretion to decline to study the matter.

The role of the Disciplinary Board in circumstances which may constitute abandonment is to:

1. Determine whether the actions and/or conduct included in the information submitted to it is factual; and, then,

2. Determine whether the information submitted, even if true, constitutes abandonment as defined by the Church’s canons (laws).

The Disciplinary Board is only in the earliest stages of its work and has not reached any decision regarding the credibility of the information received or whether the actions and conduct reported actually constitute abandonment. It has made no “charges” of any kind; neither has any other part or structure of The Episcopal Church.

The Disciplinary Board will, by the grace of God and with diligence, proceed methodically, carefully, prayerfully—and confidentially—to meet its canonical responsibility, including a request for, and consideration of, any and all input that Bishop Lawrence wishes to be considered. The President of the Disciplinary Board has provided Bishop Lawrence with all of the information it has received and is under consideration, and will continue to do so.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 at 8:44am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

South Carolina bishop accused of "abandonment"

A complaint has been made, by some members of his diocese, that the Bishop of South Carolina Mark Lawrence has “abandoned” The Episcopal Church.

See these news reports:

Episcopal News Service Mary Frances Schjonberg South Carolina bishop investigated on charges he has abandoned the Episcopal Church

…The allegations are being investigated by the church’s Disciplinary Board for Bishops. Communicants in the Diocese of South Carolina filed the information with the board, according to the Rt. Rev. Dorsey Henderson, board president. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the House of Bishops were not involved in making the claims, Henderson said in a fact sheet released by the church’s Office of Public Affairs.

“Therefore, the matter is not being handled by the Presiding Bishop’s office or anyone in the employ of the Episcopal Church Center,” Henderson said in the fact sheet.

Henderson said he has been in contact with Lawrence, whose ministry has not been restricted during this phase of the process.

Under Title IV, Canon 16, a bishop is deemed to have abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church by an open renunciation of the doctrine, discipline or worship of the church; by formal admission into any religious body not in communion with the church; or by exercising episcopal acts in and for a religious body other than the church or another church in communion with the church…

Living Church Doug LeBlanc Board Hears Case against Bp. Lawrence

The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, Bishop of South Carolina, is being investigated on accusations of abandoning the Episcopal Church, and his diocese has released a 63-page document of the evidence brought against him.

Lawrence and the Very Rev. Paul C. Fuener, president of the diocese’s standing committee wrote in a letter to members of the diocese that on Sept. 29 the bishop “received communication from the President of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops that ‘serious charges’ have been made under Title IV of the Canons of The Episcopal Church. … Since several of these allegations also include actions taken by the Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina, after sustained prayer and discernment, it has seemed appropriate to both the Bishop and the Standing Committee to make these allegations available to the members of the Diocese.”

See these documents:

  • Text of memo released by Dorsey Henderson, retired Bishop of Upper South Carolina, president of the 18-member Title IV Disciplinary Board copied below the fold.

From Bishop Dorsey Henderson President of the Title IV Disciplinary Board of the Episcopal Church
Concerning the Diocese of South Carolina:

• In the matter concerning the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, information is being reviewed by the Title IV Disciplinary Board. Bishop Dorsey Henderson is President of the Title IV Disciplinary Board.

• Information was presented from communicants within the Diocese of South Carolina.

• The information was not brought forward by the Presiding Bishop’s office, or by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church. Therefore, the matter is not being handled by the Presiding Bishop’s office or anyone in the employ of the Episcopal Church Center.

• All information has been presented to the Disciplinary Board under the Episcopal Church Title IV disciplinary canons (laws of the church).

• In situations as this, the “church attorney” is an attorney who is retained by the Disciplinary Board to investigate cases brought to the Disciplinary Board. The “church attorney” is not the chancellor to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

• As a matter of law and a matter of respect to those involved, the Disciplinary Board operates confidentially and will continue to do so. As such, it would not be appropriate to discuss the details of the case in public.

• Bishop Henderson has been in conversation with Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina.

• The Disciplinary Board is comprised of Episcopal Church bishops, clergy and laity.

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Monday, 5 September 2011

David Moyer leaves Good Shepherd, Rosemont

From the website of the Diocese of Pennsylvania: Judge Rules in Good Shepherd, Rosemont, Case:

On Friday, August 26, the Honorable Stanley Ott issued an Order stating that David Moyer, a Bishop in the Traditional Anglican Communion, and two other individuals no longer have any right or authority to serve as rector or on the vestry of the Church of the Good Shepherd, located in Rosemont Pennsylvania. Judge Ott determined that the Standing Committee and Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese are charged with the responsibility of deciding whether an individual may serve in the pulpit of an Episcopal Church and whether particular members of a vestry have acted in compliance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. Judge Ott’s Order was effective immediately and, as of this date, neither Bishop Moyer nor the two individuals have sought a stay of the Order which, if granted, might allow Bishop Moyer to remain at Good Shepherd pending any appeal.

By way of background, the individuals who founded the Church of the Good Shepherd over a century ago included language in the deeds and in the Church’s Articles of Incorporation which provided that the parish was to be forever operated in accordance with the Canons and Constitution of the Episcopal Church. Fundamentally, of course, this required the Vestry to employ as rector a priest licensed by the Bishop to officiate in this Diocese and to undertake the same burdens and responsibilities imposed by the Episcopal Church and the Diocese on all of the parishes in this Diocese. Bishop Moyer has not been licensed by the Bishop to officiate in this Diocese since 2002; the Vestry has employed a series of assistant rectors at Good Shepherd which likewise had not been licensed and had otherwise failed to comply with the requirements of the Diocesan Canons and Canons of the Episcopal Church…

The judge’s order can be read in full from here (PDF).

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported this: Defrocked Episcopal priest loses bid to retain Montco parish.

The statement from the vestry of the parish can be found here.

A farewell address by David Moyer is on the parish website.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As Tuesday’s Vestry email stated, I respect and submit to Judge Ott’s Decree. This means that my ministry as Rector has ended.

I am now engaged in what is required to move out of my office, and in informing the Vestry what the specific areas are that have been my responsibility for the past twenty-one years, and the areas I assumed beyond set and expected responsibilities.

I want to repeat what I have said previously. I know that as individuals and as families, whatever choices are made (and they may change in the future), I love you all, and will never let different choices break the bonds of affection and care I have for all of you…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 5 September 2011 at 12:50pm BST | Comments (7) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

TEC Commission reports on the Covenant

The Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church has issued a report on the Anglican Covenant.

See this ENS news report: Task force releases report on Anglican Covenant.

“The SCCC is of the view that adoption of the current draft Anglican Covenant has the potential to change the constitutional and canonical framework of [the Episcopal Church], particularly with respect to the autonomy of our Church, and the constitutional authority of our General Convention, bishops and dioceses,” says the report.

The full text of the report can be found here as a PDF.

Mark Harris has commented on it: The Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons’ report. There it is.

Lionel Deimel has Analysis of the Report from the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 10:00am BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 2 June 2011

How Americans choose a bishop

Jim Naughton has written a piece for Ruth Gledhill’s blog about this (original behind Times paywall).

A copy of the article also appears at the Daily Episcopalian. See Courting the Holy Spirit by practicing retail politics.

Last week, while the Church of England was dealing with embarrassing revelations about how badly the Archbishops of Canterbury and York had behaved while selecting the current Bishop of Southwark, I was observing the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D. C. as it prepared to choose the successor of Bishop John Bryson Chane, who retires in November.

The process that I witnessed was so different than the one described by the late Dean Colin Slee in his now-famous memo, that it seems almost unfair to draw comparisons. In filling the vacancy in Southwark, the English method of appointing bishops was clearly at its worst. Or so one hopes. A story of subterfuge leavened with a dash of Python-like absurdity, it featured a media leak meant to scuttle two candidacies, clumsy attempts to blame the leak on an innocent party, an investigation into the leak whose findings have been kept secret, and a delicious moment in which the Archbishop of York lobbied for votes while leading a group outing to the toilet. Little wonder that members of the Crown Nominating Committee were reduced to tears during the proceedings.

The process in Washington, on the other hand, has run relatively smoothly so far, although the election will not be held until June 18…

What Jim describes is, I think, what we here would call a “hustings”.

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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Los Angeles declines to endorse Anglican Covenant

The Diocese of Los Angeles has issued this press release: Diocese of Los Angeles declines to endorse Anglican Covenant.

And there is this video documenting the process by which Diocesan Convention initiated the response.

Here is an extract:

… We are concerned about the omission of the laity from Section 3. As St. Paul teaches, we are all of us the Body of Christ and individually members thereof (I Corinthians 12). There are four orders of ministry in the Church – bishops, priests, deacons and lay people, who also minister as members of the baptized people of God. Such an ecclesiology should both undergird the theology expressed in the Covenant and the church structures developed as means of connecting and serving the churches of the Communion. A Covenant to which we could subscribe would need to re-imagine the Instruments of Communion to provide a stronger representation from all the orders of ministry.

Section 4 is of greatest concern. It creates a punitive, bureaucratic, juridical process within the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, elevating its authority over the member churches despite previous affirmations of member church autonomy (see, e.g., Section 4.1.3). It contains no clear process for dispute resolution, no checks and balances, no right of appeal. The concept of mediation, introduced in Section 3.2.6, is not mentioned in Section 4. The covenant’s focus on “maintenance, dispute and withdrawal” bodes of an immobilized church mission instead of one that is flexible and prophetic. For these reasons, we cannot agree to Section 4.

We cannot endorse a covenant that, for the first time in the history of The Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion, will pave the way toward emphasizing perceived negative differences instead of our continuing positive and abundant commonality. We strongly urge more direct face-to-face dialogue, study, prayer and education before the adoption of a document that has such historic significance in the life of the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church. Our differences should not be seen as something that must be proved wrong or endured but rather a motivation to dig deeper into discerning God’s purposes for God’s church…

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Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Chicago Consultation publishes The Genius of Anglicanism

press release from The Chicago Consultation

CHICAGO CONSULTATION RELEASES PUBLICATION ON PROPOSED ANGLICAN COVENANT

The Genius of Anglicanism includes essays by theologians, church leaders

April 5, 2011—The Chicago Consultation, which advocates for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the worldwide Anglican Communion, has released a collection of essays and study questions on the proposed Anglican Covenant.

The Genius of Anglicanism, a 64-page booklet, includes eight essays and study questions, and may be downloaded at no cost at www.chicagoconsultation.org.

“We believe that congregations, bishops, General Convention deputations and individual Episcopalians will benefit from this careful exploration of the proposed covenant,” said the Rev. Lowell Grisham, co-convener of the Chicago Consultation and rector of St. Paul’s Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

“The proposed covenant is a complex document that could have a major impact on the Episcopal Church and its many vital and longstanding relationships within the wider Anglican Communion,” he added. “We are grateful that well-respected theologians, clergy and lay leaders were willing to analyze it for us.”

The Very Rev. Jane Shaw, Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and former dean of divinity at New College, Oxford, wrote the introduction for the guide, which was edited by Jim Naughton and includes essays by:

  • The Rev. Ruth Meyers, Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California, on the relationship of the proposed covenant to the Baptismal Covenant of the Episcopal Church
  • The Rev. Ellen Wondra, editor in chief of the Anglican Theological Review and academic dean at Seabury Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois on how a theological innovation, such as the proposed covenant is received or rejected by a community of faith
  • The Rev. Timothy Sedgwick, Clinton S. Quin Professor of Christian Ethics at Virginia Theological Seminary, on the concept of episcopal authority in the proposed covenant
  • Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Mary Wolfe Professor Emerita of Historical Theology at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cam bridge, Massachusetts, on how the proposed covenant will affect the participation of the laity in Communion affairs
  • The Rev. Canon Mark Harris, of the Diocese of Delaware, a member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council on the proposed covenant and the traditional concept of “the historic episcopate locally adapted”
  • Sally Johnson, chancellor to Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies on the judicial and disciplinary provisions in the fourth section of the proposed covenant
  • The Rev. Gay Jennings, the Episcopal Church’s clergy representative to the Anglican Consultative Council, on the Anglican Communion’s existing covenant, which is grounded in the Five Marks of Mission
  • The Rev. Winnie Varghese, priest-in-charge at St. Mark’s-Church-in-the-Bowery in New York City and member of Executive Council on the kind of covenant necessary to make the Communion an ally of the poor and the oppressed.

Grisham, who prepared the study questions that accompany each essay, said he believes the booklet will be widely used in the run-up to the Episcopal Church’s next General Convention in July 2012.

The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. To learn more about the Chicago Consultation, visit www.chicagoconsultation.org.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 6 April 2011 at 12:37am BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 2 April 2011

Court rejects request to review in Pittsburgh

The Diocese of Pittsburgh reports that the earlier court decision in its favour is upheld.

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has turned down a request made by former diocesan leaders to reargue their appeal of a lower court’s ruling concerning diocesan property.

On February 2, 2011, Commonwealth Court affirmed the decision by Judge Joseph James of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County that found the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church to be the rightful trustee of diocesan-held property and assets, based on a Stipulation the former diocesan leaders agreed to in 2005. Those former leaders had appealed Judge James’ decision to Commonwealth Court, and two weeks after the appeals court affirmed Judge James, they asked the appeals court to reconsider its ruling.

The actual court order is available as a PDF, but the content is reproduced here:

NOW, March 29 2011, having considered appellants’ application for re-argument before the court en banc and appellees’ answer, the application is denied.

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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Judgment in Colorado Springs

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports Armstrong sentenced to probation, $99,247 restitution.

A judge Friday sentenced the Rev. Donald Armstrong to four years probation for his no-contest plea to one count of misdemeanor theft of funds from the Colorado Springs church where he once served as rector.

Fourth Judicial District Judge Gregory R. Werner also ordered Armstrong to pay restitution in the amount of $99,247 that was diverted to pay for his son’s and daughter’s college education. The money came from a trust fund originally set up to pay for the education of seminary students…

And the Colorado Springs Independent has Armstrong avoids jail time, must pay $99,247 in restitution.

The Rev. Don Armstrong won’t have to serve any jail time for misusing funds while he was rector of Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.

That ruling came Friday afternoon from 4th Judicial District Judge Gregory Werner, who upheld an earlier plea agreement that gives Armstrong two concurrent four-year probation terms for no-contest pleas involving his stewardship of a Grace scholarship fund called the Bowton Trust.

Werner did order Armstrong to pay $99,247 in restitution to Grace for money that went from the Bowton Trust to pay for his children’s college-related expenses. Werner singled out those funds because, he said, Armstrong had fiduciary responsibility over the trust as Grace’s rector.

The judge also ordered that, during his probation, Armstrong will have to do 400 hours of community service outside his current church, St. George’s Anglican Church. The 61-year-old rector also must disclose all of his current finances and is prohibited from managing the finances of any church or group in a fiduciary role…

An earlier and very long article in the Independent Judgment day for the Rev. Armstrong reviewed the whole background to this case in considerable detail. Worth reading. It also reports that:

The 61-year-old is as comfortable as ever in pushing his conservative theology from the pulpit, as in his sermon Feb. 6 when Armstrong chastised the daughters of George W. Bush and John McCain for “speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage,” adding, “how quickly we should see it as human-centered thinking, not God’s teaching.”

Armstrong remains a priest in good standing in CANA, under Bishop Martyn Minns, which is part of either ACNA, or part of CoN (Anglican Communion) or possibly both.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 26 February 2011 at 10:08am GMT | Comments (33) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Appeals Court upholds Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh

Updated again Saturday morning

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports: Court upholds Episcopal Diocese’s claim to assets.

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has upheld an Allegheny Common Pleas decision awarding centrally held property of the Episcopal diocese that split in 2008 to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh rather than to the rival Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

About $20 million in endowment funds and other assets is at stake. The ruling has no direct impact on ownership of parish property, other than indicating that Anglican parishes must apply to the Episcopal diocese to negotiate for their property, rather than vice versa.

The Anglican diocese has not decided whether to pursue a further appeal.

Lionel Deimel has further details of this, see Details of Commonwealth Court Ruling.

The full text of the judgment can be read from a PDF file here.

There is now a fuller story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Episcopal diocese wins a legal round.

Episcopal Bishop Kenneth Price Jr. welcomed the decision, which arrived the day his diocese reached the first settlement with an Anglican parish. It required that parish to cut ties with the Anglican diocese for five years.

“We are pleased with the court’s findings and hope this will be the final legal challenge concerning this issue,” he said.

He invited Anglican congregations “to join us in negotiating a settlement to our differences.”

Archbishop Duncan, who is also primate of the theologically conservative Anglican Church in North America, hasn’t decided whether to appeal.

“The decision of the appellate court is deeply disappointing,” he said. “In the next hours and days the bishop and standing committee will pray and take counsel about our corporate path forward.”

The Episcopal Diocese has issued this press release: Appeals Court Upholds Diocese in Assets Case

Update This press release has been issued: A Pastoral Letter to the Clergy and People of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh which includes the following paragraph:

…The Standing Committee met on Wednesday night, February 2nd. Three important decisions were made. First, we will petition the appellate court for a re-hearing, which means the lower court’s ruling will not yet be final. Second, the Standing Committee and Diocesan leadership (Bishop’s Office, Trustees and Council) will do everything we can to keep all our congregations working together. Third, the Standing Committee will work tirelessly for a negotiated end to the strife between the Anglican and Episcopal Church Dioceses…

Pittburgh Post-Gazette Anglican diocese asks court to rehear case

The filing, which must be made within 14 days, is not an appeal but an outright request for the same court to hear the case over, citing errors of fact in the ruling which was authored by Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer.

“There are some points of fact that are incorrect in the ruling,” said David Trautman, a spokesman for the Anglican diocese. “We are giving the court a chance to correct those errors.”

He did not specify the errors the Anglicans contend are in the ruling.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 2 February 2011 at 11:01pm GMT | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 22 January 2011

Fort Worth: Judge rules against Bishop Iker

Updated Saturday evening

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Judge rules for national Episcopalians, against Iker’s group

A state district judge on Friday ordered the group of Episcopalians headed by Bishop Jack Iker to “surrender all Diocesan property as well as control of the Diocese Corporation” to Episcopalians loyal to the national church.

Judge John Chupp’s ruling in 141st District Court came after months of legal arguments over who owns church buildings and other property in the 24-county Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Chupp heard arguments for both sides Jan. 14 and granted a summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs — Episcopalians who have remained a part of the U.S. Episcopal Church.

Chupp wrote that they have legal claim to diocesan property. He ordered the defendants to “provide an accounting of all Diocesan assets within 60 days…”

The Diocese of Fort Worth has this press release: Judge Grants Episcopal Parties’ Motions for Summary Judgment and Orders Surrender of Diocesan Property.

On Friday, January 21, 2011, the Hon. John P. Chupp of the 141st District Court, Tarrant County, Texas, granted the Local Episcopal Parties’ and The Episcopal Church’s Motions for Summary Judgments. He denied the Southern Cone parties Motion for a Partial Summary Judgment The orders can be seen here.

The Court orders provide in part that the defendants, including Bishop Jack L. Iker, “surrender all Diocesan property, as well as control of the Diocesan Corporation, to the Diocesan plaintiffs and to provide an accounting of all Diocesan assets within 60 days of this order.” Additionally, “the Court hereby orders the Defendants not to hold themselves out as leaders of the Diocese.”

The parties are ordered “to submit a more detailed declaratory order within ten days of the date of this order” or by January 31…

The judge’s order is available as a PDF file.

There is as yet no press release from Bishop Iker.

Update Saturday evening

There is now a press release from Bishop Iker, Diocese and Corporation announce intention to appeal trial court ruling.

On Friday afternoon, Jan. 21, attorneys for the Diocese and Corporation received two orders from the Hon. John Chupp in the matter of the main suit against us, in which a minority of former members has been joined by The Episcopal Church in an effort to claim diocesan property. Judge Chupp signed an order drafted by the plaintiffs’ attorneys, from which he struck several points with which he did not apparently agree. The order does find that TEC is a hierarchical church, and on that basis the judge has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The judge’s order can be read here.

Friday’s ruling from the trial court is a disappointment but not a disaster. The plaintiffs have offered no evidence, either in the courtroom or in their voluminous filings, supporting their claim that the Diocese was not entitled to withdraw from The Episcopal Church, as it did in November 2008. Nor have they demonstrated a legal right to our property, which is protected by Texas statutes regulating trusts and non-profit corporations.

On the contrary, it is our position that the judge’s order does not conform to Texas law, and we are therefore announcing our plans to appeal the decision without delay. We believe that the final decision, whenever it is signed by Judge Chupp based on these orders, will not be sustained on appeal. According to our lead attorney, Shelby Sharpe, “These orders appear to be contrary to the earlier opinion from the Second District Court of Appeals in Fort Worth and current decisions from both that court and the Supreme Court of Texas.”

In response to the ruling, Bishop Iker has said, “We are obviously disappointed by Judge Chupp’s ruling and see it as fundamentally flawed. We are confident that the Court of Appeals will carefully consider our appeal and will rule in accordance to neutral principles of law as practiced in the State of Texas. In the meantime, we will continue to focus on mission and outreach in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, while praying for the judges who will take up our appeal.”

We give thanks to God in all circumstances, and we trust in His plans. While we disagree with the judge’s ruling, we offer our sincere appreciation for the time and study he has given to the case.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 22 January 2011 at 7:00am GMT | Comments (14) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

TEC lists Principles for Same-sex Blessings

The Standing Liturgical Commission of The Episcopal Church is developing resources for blessing same-sex relationships.

As explained here:

The 2009 General Convention of The Episcopal Church acknowledged the changing circumstances in the United States and in other nations, as legislation authorizing or forbidding marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian persons is passed in various civil jurisdictions that call forth a renewed pastoral response from this Church. In light of these circumstances, the General Convention directed the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to collect and develop theological and liturgical resources for blessing same-gender relationships. At the same time, we were asked to invite theological reflection from throughout the Anglican communion…

The Commission has recently published two documents as PDF files:

These materials are discussed in an article at the Living Church SCLM Lists Principles for Same-sex Blessings.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 12 January 2011 at 9:18am GMT | Comments (41) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 21 November 2010

Gene Robinson interview

Ruth Gledhill has interviewed Gene Robinson, the bishop of New Hampshire. The full interview is behind the Times paywall but there are two extracts on YouTube.

Gene Robinson Part One: the Anglican crisis
This week I [Ruth Gledhill] went to New York to interview Gene Robinson. “I have clergy friends in England who literally studied at Archbishop Williams’s feet when he was teaching and who have said to me it is almost as if aliens have come and taken Rowan away from us and they have left something here that looks like him but we don’t recognise him any more,” Bishop Robinson said. Giving his first interview since announcing that he will retire in two years, Bishop Robinson said that Dr Williams was a wonderful human being and a faithful Christian.
But he added: “I’m not at all sure that his attempts to hold us together as a communion at all costs is the kind of leadership that this time calls for. I pray for him every day.

Gene Robinson Part Two: A Boy Named Vicki Gene
Gene Robinson talks to Ruth Gledhill in New York: His parents, poor tenant farmers, were told he would certainly die. Before his birth, they had come up with a girl’s name, Vicky Jean, after his father, Victor and his mother, Imogene. “In his distress he just changed the spelling and thought it wouldn’t matter on a tombstone. So that’s the name on my birth certificate.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 21 November 2010 at 1:42pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Earlier, another bishop had resigned...

The Bishop of New Hampshire announced last Saturday that he intended to retire in January 2013. The New York Times has a detailed report by Laurie Goodstein at First Openly Gay Episcopal Bishop to Retire. This includes the information that:

The church in New Hampshire suffered less fallout under Bishop Robinson than the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion. Only one New Hampshire congregation departed during his tenure, a congregation long unhappy with the direction of the Episcopal Church, according to diocesan leaders.

The number of active members in New Hampshire fell 3 percent, from 15,259 in 2003 to 14,787 in 2009. In that period, the Episcopal Church, like most mainline Protestant denominations, lost about 10 percent of its members. (It had about two million in 2008, the last year for which statistics are available.)

And the same report summarises the international consequences of his election thus:

The election of Bishop Robinson in a church in Concord, N. H., in 2003 was the shot heard round the Christian world. It cracked open a longstanding divide between theological liberals and conservatives in both the Episcopal Church and its parent body, the Anglican Communion — those churches affiliated with the Church of England in more than 160 countries.

Since 2003, the Communion’s leaders have labored to save it from outright schism, not just over homosexuality, but also over female bishops and priests.

The current strategy, pushed by the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, is for each regional province to sign a “covenant” of common beliefs.

The covenant has been slowly making its way through laborious writing and approval processes, which could take years.

Late last month, an international coalition of liberal Anglicans started a campaign to reject the covenant, saying, “The covenant seeks to narrow the range of acceptable belief within Anglicanism.”

The group, Anglicans for Comprehensive Unity, said, “Rather than bringing peace to the Communion, we predict that the covenant text itself could become the cause of future bickering and that its centralized dispute-resolution mechanisms could beget interminable quarrels and resentments.”

This news got extensive coverage in the Guardian:

The Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen issued a statement in his capacity as General Secretary of GAFCON/FCA, see Statement on retirement of Gene Robinson.

The agonising dispute in the Anglican Communion is not about Bishop Robinson personally. It is true that his consecration as a Bishop seven years ago was one of the flashpoints for a serious re-alignment of the whole Communion. But many things have happened since then. GAFCON is about the future. It is dedicated to the future of a renewed Anglican Communion centred on the orthodox teaching of the Jerusalem Declaration.

No mention of the Anglican Covenant there.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 9 November 2010 at 8:29am GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 7 November 2010

consents sought for Springfield election

A new bishop for the Diocese of Springfield was elected recently. See the official announcement: The Rev. Daniel Hayden Martins elected the 11th Bishop of Springfield.

There have been objections to his election, and rather unusually a diocese in which he had previously served has been one of those raising them. See Bishop Jerry Lamb and Standing Committee send letter regarding consent of Bishop-elect Dan Martins.

This was all reported by ENS in SAN JOAQUIN: Bishop, Standing Committee raise ‘grave concerns’ about Springfield election.

Others however have spoken up in his support, starting with his current diocesan, Bishop Edward Little: see Bishop Little on Dan Martins.

And also the group known as Concerned Laity of the Springfield Diocese.

And there is another letter of support from a group of people who are deputies to General Convention and /or on Executive Council.

Fr Dan Martins has himself been a blogger for some years, see Confessions of a Carioca.

It’s all a very far cry from the hidden machinations of the Crown Nominations Commission.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 7 November 2010 at 9:55pm GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Friday, 15 October 2010

South Carolina diocesan news

Updated Saturday morning

The Diocese of South Carolina today approved six resolutions that the diocese said represent “an essential element of how we protect the diocese from any attempt at unconstitutional intrusions into our corporate life in South Carolina.”

See the ENS report SOUTH CAROLINA: Convention approves ‘protective’ resolutions.

[The Presiding Bishop said:] “I grieve these actions, but I especially grieve Bishop Lawrence’s perception of my heartfelt concern for him and for the people of South Carolina as aggression. I don’t seek to change his faithfully held positions on human sexuality, nor do I seek to control the inner workings of the diocese. I do seek to repair damaged relationships and ensure that this church is broad enough to include many different sorts and conditions of people. South Carolina and its bishop continue in my prayers.”

The Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the South Carolina diocese, told ENS that the convention’s action is “significant … in that it enables us to pursue the bishop’s vision of making biblical Anglicans for a global age while resisting the national leadership’s attempts to change our polity in violation of own constitution and the basic principles of justice and due process.”

See the diocesan news release about this: Diocese Votes Overwhelming in Favor of Resolutions; Lawrence remarks on Opportunities and Challenges

And the full text of Bishop Lawrence’s address is here.

For background on this, see the earlier article today, and also this previous report.

The diocese also announced the appointment of Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali as an Assisting Bishop in the diocese. TA understands that this is not a full-time appointment, but rather that Bishop Michael will spend periods of time in residency in the diocese, where he has been a regular visitor in the past. He will be “Visiting Bishop for Global Anglican Relations”.

Here is the text from the diocesan website:

Michael Nazir-Ali—Visiting Bishop in South Carolina for Anglican Communion Development

In May of this year, the Reverend Dr. Kendall Harmon and I traveled to Nashotah House to meet with the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, retired Bishop of Rochester in England and one of the most respected figures in the Anglican Communion. We discussed the possibility of forming a relationship between him and the Diocese of South Carolina. Then in September the Reverend Jeffrey Miller and I met with Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali in Washington D.C. to clarify the details of such a relationship. It is my great pleasure to announce at this Reconvened Annual Convention that he has agreed to be Visiting Bishop in South Carolina for Anglican Communion Relationships. Thus along with periodic visits here in the diocese for teaching and relational support, he will represent this diocese on his travels around the world. This creative and vital relationship will give us further opportunities to strengthen existing and form new and abiding missional relationships with others in the emerging Anglicanism in the 21st Century. It gives legs to our vision.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 16 October 2010 at 12:04am BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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Two bishops write about TEC polity

First, the Bishop of South Carolina, Mark Lawrence wrote this article in the Living Church: A Conservationist among Lumberjacks

…There is much axe swinging these days in the Episcopal Church. I have grown sad from walking among the stumps of what was once a noble old-growth Episcopalian grove in the forest of Catholic Christianity. It may surprise some, but I write not to bemoan the theological or moral teaching that is in danger of falling to the logger’s axe. I have done that elsewhere. My concern here is that as the church’s polity is felled only a few bother to cry “timber.”

I have space to raise three concerns, and these briefly: the presiding bishop’s threat to our polity —litigious and constitutional; the revisions to the Title IV canons; and, finally, a passing word about inhibitions and depositions to solve our theological/spiritual crisis…

Second, the Bishop of San Diego, James Mathes wrote a response for Daily Episcopalian: Nullification revisited

…Bishop Lawrence feigns great sorrow at the changing landscape of the Episcopal Church. He writes, “I have grown sad from walking among the stumps of what was once a noble old-growth Episcopalian grove in the forest of Catholic Christianity.” Donning the mantle of ecclesial conservationist, Bishop Lawrence even quotes environmentalist, Aldo Leopold, “a conservationist is one who is humbly aware that with each stroke [of the ax] he is writing his signature on the face of his land.” The bishop adds, “far too many leaders in our church have never learned this lesson.” Indeed.

All of this is prelude to his main premise that the presiding bishop is threatening the polity of the Episcopal Church. He wants you to believe that the threat is manifested in three ways: because her chancellor has retained a South Carolina attorney to represent the wider Episcopal Church’s interests should they diverge from the Diocese of South Carolina’s interests; through the Title IV revisions from the 2009 General Convention; and by the manner in which the House of Bishops has dealt with bishops who have left the Episcopal Church…

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Friday, 24 September 2010

South Carolina disputes clergy discipline canons

ENS carried a report on 16 September, SOUTH CAROLINA: Diocese proposes resolutions to ‘protect’ itself. The diocesan convention meets again on 15 October.

As Kendall Harmon explained it on 15 September:

At the Clergy Conference held at St. Paul’s, Summerville, on September 2, Mr. Alan Runyan, legal counsel for the Diocese, presented a report detailing revisions to the Title IV Canons of the Episcopal Church, which were approved at the 2009 General Convention. These Canons deal directly with issues of clergy discipline, both for priests and bishops. The impact of these changes is profound. It is our assessment that these changes contradict the Constitution of The Episcopal Church and make unacceptable changes in our polity, elevating the role of bishops, particularly the Presiding Bishop, and removing the duly elected Standing Committee of a Diocese from its current role in most of the disciplinary process. The changes also result in the removal of much of the due process and legal safeguards for accused clergy that are provided under the current Canons. For a detailed explanation of these concerns, members of the diocese are encouraged to review the paper co-authored by Mr. Runyan and found on the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) website.

In response, the Standing Committee is offering five resolutions to address the concerns we have with these changes. View the resolutions. Each represents an essential element of how we protect the diocese from any attempt at un-Constitutional intrusions into our corporate life in South Carolina. In the coming weeks these resolutions, along with an explanation of the Title IV changes, will be discussed in the Deanery Convocations for delegates, as we prepare for Convention to reconvene on October 15th. By these resolutions, we will continue to stand for the Gospel in South Carolina and pursue our vision of “Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age.”

The proposed resolutions can be found here (PDF).

The detailed analysis of the canons to which objection is being taken is on the Anglican Communion Institute website, Title IV Revisions: Unmasked.

A group named Episcopal Forum of South Carolina issued a letter on 22 September, addressed to the House of Bishops and the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, titled The Alienation and Disassociation of the Diocese of South Carolina from The Episcopal Church. The text of that letter is here (PDF). It concludes:

“We wish to call to your attention the recent actions and inactions on the part of the diocesan leadership and leaders in parishes and missions within the Diocese of South Carolina, which we believe are accelerating the process of alienation and disassociation of the Diocese of South Carolina from The Episcopal Church.

In accordance with our Mission statement, we feel compelled to emphasize the importance of the issues that we include in our attached documents. Specifically, we enumerate issues that present grave concern to us, as Episcopalians in our Diocese, and we request that The Episcopal Church leadership investigate the situation in our Diocese.”

The Bishop of South Carolina, Mark Lawrence, has responded to this, see Bishop Lawrence Responds to Request for Investigation.

Yesterday a group within the Diocese known as the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina wrote to the House of Bishops and the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church urging them to investigate my actions as Bishop and the actions of our Standing Committee. They have cited seven concerns as the foundation for their request. While these are trying times for Episcopalians and there is much need for listening carefully to one another, I do not want to let these accusations stand or go without response. Perhaps in their anxiety they have done us all a favor—indeed, presenting me with a teachable moment for this diocese and, dare I hope to believe, for others as well who may have read their letter. I will strive to refrain from using ecclesiastical language (Episcopalianese) or unduly difficult theology. Unfortunately, due to the accusations, a certain amount of each is necessary. Nevertheless, I will tune my writing as well as I can for the person in the pew. I will proceed by first putting forth in italics the accusation. In most cases I will just use their language, then, give my response. This could be much longer, but there is little need to try your patience…

The first of two articles criticising the proposed resolutions, by Dr Joan Gunderson of Pittsburgh What the Diocese of South Carolina May Get Wrong is available here (PDF).

…I am truly surprised by the Anglican Communion Institute’s and the Diocese of South Carolina’s sudden negative reaction to the revised Title IV (ecclesiastical discipline) of the Episcopal Church canons. While I do not find the revision perfect and hesitated briefly before voting for them as a deputy at the 2009 General Convention, the time for protest is long past. In fact, these canons were developed over at least seven years in an open process that included posting of multiple drafts. The 2006 draft received numerous criticisms, but questions of constitutionality were not raised. In fact, conservative blogger Brad Drell republished (June 9, 2006), a set of comments made by Province I Chancellors after a careful study of the 2006 draft.

Constitutionality issues were raised neither by Drell nor the Province I Chancellors. General Convention listened to the many critics and, rather than pass the 2006 version sent the draft back to committee for further revision. The intent of the revision was to move away from an adversarial mode based on a courtroom trial model focused on uncovering truth and fostering reconciliation. Its closest model was the professional standards board. Driving the revision were concerns about dealing with sexual misconduct, not theological controversy…

And she concludes:

So why is there such a fuss now? Is it really the changes that worry South Carolina, or is it that some are looking for a wedge issue to drive South Carolina further from the rest of the Church and isolate it more? Were some of South Carolina’s leaders following a strategy based on evading one set of disciplinary canons only to find that the loopholes they had counted on were about to be closed? Were South Carolina leaders so asleep at the switch that for five years they didn’t notice a major revision of the canons until the deadline for implementation of the canons drew near? Whatever explanation you pick, it would seem the problem lies more within the Diocese of South Carolina than in Title IV.

Expect more on this story soon.

Update ENS now has a further report, SOUTH CAROLINA: Bishop says diocese engaged in ‘battle’ for Anglicanism’s soul.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 24 September 2010 at 10:29pm BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Colorado Springs: confused reports

Updated Thursday morning

The case of Don Armstrong former rector of Grace Church in Colorado Springs, now a priest in CANA, is back in the news.

Episcopal Café has two recent articles which contain links to pretty much all the reports of the previous few days (see also in the comments).
Armstrong pleads no contest
Speaking of diminishing Christian witness…

The latest newspaper report at the time of writing this is in the Denver Post.
Priest and Pueblo attorney general interpret plea agreement in different ways

The Rev. Don Armstrong, who founded St. George’s Anglican Church after he and his congregation lost the battle for the Grace Church building in Colorado Springs, called the disposition Friday of his criminal theft case “divine intervention.”

Pueblo District Attorney Bill Thiebaut, whose office provided a special prosecutor, called the disposition “just.” And the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, which last year took back Grace Church in civil court from Armstrong after he became an Anglican priest, said the end of the criminal case would bring “healing to all those harmed by Armstrong’s actions.”

Yet reports and interpretation of the plea deal have created confusion…

Update

Episcopal Café has a further report, Truth and clarity about Armstrong’s plea agreement which includes a link to the full text of the plea agreement (PDF) and statements from the Episcopal parish and the diocesan Chancellor.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 9:50am BST | Comments (49) | TrackBack
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Monday, 6 September 2010

Anglican Covenant views

From ENS in the USA we have a report Presiding officers, Executive Council member urge congregations to study the Anglican Covenant.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson and Executive Council member Rosalie Simmonds Ballentine are calling on all Episcopal congregations to engage in discussion of the proposed Anglican Covenant at some time during the next two years.

The Episcopal Church leaders suggested in a Sept. 3 letter that congregations consider organizing a discussion group on the covenant during Advent (2010 or 2011) or Lent (2011 or 2012) or at another time before General Convention in 2012…

There is an official Study Guide, available here.

Meanwhile, from Simple Massing Priest in Canada we have a strongly worded critique, Saying No to the Anglican Covenant.

…The Anglican Covenant is the greatest attempted centralization of authority since the de facto creation of the Anglican Communion due to the final disestablishment of episcopacy in Scotland (1689) and the consecration of the first American bishop (1784). Despite the pretty words of 4.1.3 that the Covenant “does not represent submission to any external ecclesiastical jurisdiction,” nor “grant to any one Church or agency of the Communion control or direction over any Church,” 4.2.7 is very clear that the newly minted Standing Committee (whose creation has been a sideshow of smoke, mirrors and skullduggery) will have authority effectively to direct “relational consequences” to be imposed on recalcitrant Provinces…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 6 September 2010 at 9:05pm BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Monday, 16 August 2010

Standing Committee does not want Bennison back

Updated again Wednesday morning

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania has issued a statement.

Read An Open Letter to the People of the Diocese of Pennsylvania From the Standing Committee of the Diocese.

…We do not believe that Bishop Bennison has the trust of the clergy and lay leaders necessary for him to be an effective pastor and leader of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, nor that he can regain or rebuild the trust that he has lost or broken.

We believe that it would be in the best interest of the Diocese that Bishop Bennison not resume his exercise of authority here.

Updates
ENS has two detailed reports at Pennsylvania bishop returns to divided diocese and again at Pennsylvania bishop says he’s listening to lay, clergy leaders.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 16 August 2010 at 6:49pm BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Friday, 6 August 2010

Bishop Bennison wins appeal

Updated again Saturday evening
ENS reports Court rules in favor of Charles Bennison.

An ecclesiastical review court Aug. 4 ruled in favor of Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Charles E. Bennison with respect to two alleged disciplinary charges stemming from his response to his priest brother’s sexual misconduct some 35 years ago.

The decision by the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop is here… [PDF file]

Read the full article for the background to this decision.

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania has issued a brief statement, and promised to say more soon.

Update see also An Invitation from the Standing Committee

The Living Church has Bp. Bennison Trusted the Canons.

Update See further ENS article, Standing Committee plans worship, ‘open conversation’ in wake of bishop ruling.

Other press reports:

Philadelphia Inquirer Episcopal bishop can return to head Pa. diocese

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Church overturns conviction of Episcopal bishop

Blog reports and comment:

Episcopal Café Bennison reinstated

Anglican Curmudgeon Court of Review Dismisses Charges Against +Bennison

Mark Harris Bishop Bennison guilty, but time ran out.

Gordon Reid Bishop Bennison wins his appeal

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 6 August 2010 at 11:06am BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
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Monday, 26 July 2010

A diocesan partnership described

The Partnership of the Dioceses of El Camino Real, Gloucester and Western Tanganyika

From the Diocese of Gloucester website:

Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Regarding the partnership of the dioceses of El Camino Real, Gloucester and Western Tanganyika
[in .doc format]

From the Diocese of El Camino Real website:

Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury from our Partnership Bishops

This letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury was drafted by Bishops Mary Gray-Reeves of the Diocese of El Camino Real, Gerard Mpango of the Diocese of Western Tanganyika, and Michael Perham of the Diocese of Gloucester.

Please read it at http://www.edecr.org/sitefiles/file/newsdocs/NEWS-Ltr2ArchbpREpartnDio-20100622.pdf [in pdf format]

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 26 July 2010 at 6:45pm BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 21 July 2010

boundary crossing in Virginia

The Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, is in Virginia, attending the annual council of CANA.

According to Episcopal Café

Asked about whether Okoh had sought permission to be in the diocese, Henry Burt, a spokesperson for the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, said “Bishop Johnston received no request from Archbishop Okoh to exercise any ministry in the Diocese of Virginia. Unfortunately, the circumstances of this visit do not aid the process commended by the Windsor Report.”

According to Breakaway Groups Prevented Anglican Split, Nigerian Primate Suggests in the Christian Post

According to Okoh, the Church of Nigeria received the same sanctions as The Episcopal Church this year, which include removal from the Anglican Communion’s ecumenical dialogues and from a body that examines issues of doctrine and authority.

“The command of Scripture is that we should go everywhere and preach and teach. So we came here to help our brothers and sisters in the Lord. But instead of getting commendation, we are getting punishment or sanction,” said Okoh, who was elected as primate in September.

Criticizing the move, he commented, “To do so, to ban us … we believe they were not properly advised. So if you ask me whether there is justification for that, I will say no.”

Sanctions were proposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, earlier this year for provinces that breach the three moratoria that leaders in the 77 million-member global body had agreed to since 2004. The moratoria include cross-border interventions, the ordination of partnered homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions.

The legal situation in Virginia is complex. Previously, in ADV motion for rehearing has no merit, and even earlier in Anglican District of Virginia files motion of appeal Episcopal Café explained the detail. In summary now:

In a motion for rehearing to the Virginia Supreme Court the nine churches in dispute with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia over church property earlier this month reversed field and instead of claiming they are a branch of the Church of Nigeria now claim that CANA is not a branch of the Church of Nigeria…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 21 July 2010 at 10:57pm BST | Comments (6) | TrackBack
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Friday, 25 June 2010

Jane Shaw named Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

Grace Cathedral Names Jane Alison Shaw as its Eighth Dean

On June 25, Grace Cathedral’s Board of Trustees by unanimous roll call vote enthusiastically approved the nomination of the Rev. Canon Dr. Jane Alison Shaw as the eighth dean of Grace Cathedral. She was nominated by the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus after an extensive search process.

“Jane Shaw’s spiritual depth, commitment to the Gospel, theological vision and leadership skills make her uniquely qualified to help guide Grace Cathedral into its second century,” said the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of California.

Dr. Shaw joins Grace Cathedral from the University of Oxford in England where she has served as the Dean of Divinity and a Fellow of New College, Oxford. In addition, she has taught history and theology at the university.

Serving with distinction as a priest, academic theologian and historian, Dr. Shaw brings powerful preaching and deep expertise in liturgy, management and administration, program development, teaching, community building and fundraising.

Dr. Shaw is known internationally for her exceptional talents in the communication of Christianity in the public sphere. In Great Britain, she has been successful in bridging differences in governance and policies pertaining to inclusion, and has served as Theological Consultant to the Church of England House of Bishops. Dr. Shaw is Canon Theologian at Salisbury Cathedral and an honorary canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford…

Some other information is available at the Episcopal Café under New Dean named for Grace, San Francisco.

What was the cathedral looking for? Well, this link leads to detailed information about that.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 25 June 2010 at 6:48pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
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Church Times reports on Southwark episode

Updated Friday afternoon

The Church Times reports a New twist in saga of ‘Mitregate’.

Pictures taken both at Southwark and at Gloucester cathedrals are printed side by side in the paper edition.

Some information new to TA readers is included:

Concerning Dr Jefferts Schori, the Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Colin Slee, was told that “canon law does not recognise women bishops, and women bishops cannot officiate in this country in any episcopal act”. Many believe that presiding at the eucharist is a priestly, not an epis­copal act; but mindful of sensitivities over the forthcoming Synod debate, he chose to be “hugely diplomatic and careful”.

A Lambeth Palace spoke[s]woman said on Wednesday: “This is not a ban. It was simply a recommenda­tion that has been given in the past on legal advice in similar situations.”

A Church Times reader, the Revd Elizabeth Baxter, recalls a service in Ripon Cathedral in 1994 at which the then Bishop of Dunedin, the Rt Revd Penny Jamieson, was invited to preach. She was asked not to wear her mitre by the Bishop, the Rt Revd David Young. Ms Baxter writes: “In solidarity with Bishop Penny, the many bishops who took part in that service processed without their mitres.”

The Church Times went to press on Wednesday, before the publication at Episcopal Café of the letter from Canon Anthony Ball to a member of the public. That letter itself is however dated Monday.

Update
That letter is itself the subject of comment in today’s Guardian diary column with the strapline: Mitre-gate: it’s all very problematic. What’s worse, we’re to blame.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 25 June 2010 at 7:42am BST | Comments (12) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Lambeth Palace explains the Southwark episode

Episcopal Café reports, in Lambeth Palace on “the issue of vesture” AKA #mitregate, on an email reply sent from Lambeth Palace to an American Episcopalian who wrote to complain about the treatment of the Presiding Bishop when she recently presided and preached at Southwark Cathedral.

Follow the link above to read the comments of the Café on this reply, but here is the text of it.

Sent: Monday, June 21, 2010 1:14 PM
Subject: RE: [ID: 81888] AB Comment from an American Episcopalian

Dear Mr _____,

Thank you for your e-mail to which I have been asked to respond as, I am sure you will understand, Archbishop Rowan is not able to reply personally to as much of the correspondence he receives as he would wish. It may help if I set out some of the background to the questions you raise.

The Dean of Southwark first issued an invitation to Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori before the Lambeth Conference in 2008 – one in what I understand to be an ongoing programme of invitations to Primates of the Anglican Communion. She was not able to accept the invitation at that time and last Sunday’s date was subsequently agreed. Initially the invitation was to preach, however, earlier this month it became clear that the Presiding Bishop would be asked to preside at the Eucharist too. As the intention was for her to ‘officiate’ at a service the Archbishop’s permission was required under the provisions of the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967. This is a matter of English law. The Archbishop’s permission under the Measure is the means of confirming a person’s eligibility to exercise their ministry in the Church of England and applies to any clergy ordained overseas. The application form (an example of which is at www.cofe.anglican.org/about/churchlawlegis/faq/appform.rtf) asks the necessary questions - although in the Presiding Bishop’s case it was explicit that the ‘letters of orders’ were not required. The Archbishop’s permission was sought and granted, although the legal and canonical framework of the Church of England prevents the Archbishops granting permission for a woman priest to exercise a sacramental ministry other than as a priest. The agreed approach of the English bishops [not all*] is that women bishops celebrating under these provisions should do so without the insignia of episcopal office so as to avoid possible misunderstandings.

As you might imagine, I am not in a position to answer the questions about what permissions or evidence of orders the Episcopal Church require of clergy from other parts of the Anglican Communion.

Please be assured that the Archbishop, and those of us who support his ministry, had no intention to slight the Presiding Bishop. Indeed, by ensuring that the legal formalities were observed it was hoped that she, and the Dean of Southwark, might be spared the embarrassment that might have flowed from any challenge to her presiding and preaching at the cathedral. The media interest provoked over the issue of vesture has, of course, undermined that hope - as your letter makes clear.

Yours in Christ,

Anthony Ball
Sent by Jack Target on behalf of:
The Revd Canon Anthony Ball
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Chaplain
Lambeth Palace, London

* these words not in original email (see comments below)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 11:32pm BST | Comments (19) | TrackBack
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More on Kearon's visit to the Executive Council

Some members of the TEC Executive Council have now written more about this event, which is first reported on here.

Mark Harris has written Canon Kearon on Faith and Order: It is about troublesome TEC.

In that meeting Kearon said that The Episcopal Church does not “share the faith and order of the vast majority of the Anglican Communion.” What precisely did he mean by that?

He argued that “The Commission on Unity Faith and Order is central to our way forward as a communion. and a lot of effort has gone into making it balanced.” He argued that “There is a logic which says if you do not share the faith and order of the wider communion then you shouldn’t represent that communion to the wider church.”

All of this makes matters of sexuality - particularly the matters addressed in the moratoria on same-sex blessings and episcopal ordination of partnered gay or lesbian persons - matters of “faith and order.” Now how does that happen? What precisely is this business of Faith and Order?

Katie Sherrod has written a detailed account of this event, see Canon Kearon speaks. One sample:

It began with Canon Kearon telling Bishop Katharine that he wanted the session to be private, with staff and press put out of the room. He talked about how the press was the enemy of us all and that bloggers would take anything that was said and distort it.

So Bishop Katharine said, “All those in favor of a closed session, please raise your hands.” Four or five hands went up.

“All opposed?” Hands went up all over the room. The session remained open to everyone.

There is a lot more on the substance of the discussion.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 7:29am BST | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 22 June 2010

mitres in Gloucester

The Diocese of El Camino Real reports on the visit of its bishop, Mary Grey-Reeves to the Diocese of Gloucester in England.

Read From Bp. Mary and Bp. Michael, June 21, 2010

Dear Friends,

Some of you may have heard that on a recent visit to England, +Katharine Jefferts Schori was asked to verify her orders of ordination and asked not to wear her miter. As you know, I am here on a partnership visit in the Diocese of Gloucester. Attached is a greeting and explanation from Bishop Michael regarding our own correspondence with Lambeth Palace, hopefully clarifying a policy that has been in place but not enforced. The incident with +Katharine was of course exacerbated by +Rowan’s Pentecost letter and +Katharine’s response. I must say that I have not met anyone here that is happy with +Rowan’s letter and the actions that it announced; but are rather many are embarrassed and upset.

As you will see from an update that Celeste Ventura and Channing Smith will send shortly, we are having a wonderful time in Gloucester being treated very well and shown great hospitality. There are no major issues regarding the wearing of my miter or being a woman bishop, although of course there are those who do not approve of women’s ordination. It is a very live issue here and there are lots of feelings and emotions as the Church of England approaches another vote, hopefully towards women in the episcopate, in just a few weeks.

In the meanwhile, I send greetings from everyone participating on this triangular partnership and ask your continued prayers. I will send another update at the end of the week after my return late on Wednesday night.

With love and blessings,
+Mary

A message from Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Diocese of El Camino Real

I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, rejoicing as always in our partnership, drawing together your diocese, the Diocese of Western Tanganyika and my own.

It has been a great joy to have Bishop Mary with us these last few days, sharing in our partnership meeting, speaking to our Diocesan Synod, preaching in the Cathedral and visiting parishes. It will be a particular joy when, on the last day of the partnership gathering, she presides at the Eucharist in the Lady Chapel of our Cathedral.

People here in the Diocese of Gloucester share my respect and affection for Bishop Mary. Once again having her here has been a delight and an encouragement to us all. Her graciousness is a wonderful gift to our partnership and companion relationship and I believe the partnership is a gift to our troubled Anglican Communion.

I am attaching a note I have written to try to explain some of the difficulties we have run into in England these last few days in relation to the ministry of visiting bishops. The difficulties have felt to be a long way away from the happy acceptance of one another here.

+Michael

The note mentioned is copied here below the fold.

And for good measure, there is a picture at The Three-Legged Stool, see Comments from ECR and Gloucester on recent events.

Background explaining the need for permission to her diocese

Under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure of 1967, which in my view needs urgent revision, but which is still in force and which must therefore be respected, clergy from abroad (Anglican or otherwise) need the permission of the Archbishop to officiate here. My understanding is that over the years, this rule has not been tightly followed in the case of those visiting partner dioceses for short periods of time, but only for those seeking to take up a ministerial post here. However, with all the present tensions in the Communion and with some people prepared to use legal processes to challenge bishops and others who do not follow the letter of the law, the Archbishop’s office has thought it best to ensure that the rule is strictly adhered to. Thus I have sought and obtained permission for Bishop Mary for preside at the Eucharist in Gloucester Cathedral.

(Bishop Gerard is also presiding at the Eucharist while here, but in his case in a private chapel where no such permission is required.)

The Measure makes no reference to what the bishop wears. As it happens, the simple weekday Eucharist at which Bishop Mary will preside is not one when either she or I would expect her to wear a mitre. However in the Cathedral on Sunday, when she stood at my side when I presided at the Eucharist and again when she preached at a Partnership Service later in the day, she did, like me and Bishop Gerard, wear her mitre.

The triangular partnership that draws the dioceses of Western Tanganyika, El Camino Real and Gloucester into a companion relationship emerged from the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops. There has never been any doubt within our dioceses that the three bishops are equally bishops of the Anglican Communion and not for a moment would we have treated one bishop differently from the others. We recognise and honour the ministry of all.

+Michael

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 at 11:14am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 20 June 2010

Southwark episode rumbles on

Some more items in the “mitregate” saga.

Maggi Dawn (whose earlier post Mitregate: the latest church row was linked previously on TA has written two further articles: first, Mitregate (2): “should I go or should I stay, now?”

…My own mailbox this week has had a stream of comments from women who have just been, or are about to be, ordained as priests or deacons. They are disappointed and dismayed as everyone else who sees this whole charade as a massive PR blunder. But there is a personal element too. It swings straight back at them: with one hand the Church has welcomed their giving up of their time, their careers and their economic security in order to serve, while with the other hand, in the very month that they take their orders, it has smacked them down again. You can serve, the Church seems to say, but never dare to forget you are second class citizens.

At one level this whole affair has been a lot of nonsense – as the Presiding Bishop herself said, “It is bizarre; it is beyond bizarre“. But I don’t mind admitting that the onslaught of mockery from those outside the church and disappointment from inside has had me seriously considering hanging up my own cassock.

And also, Mitregate 3:

I feel sure that the Mitregate story will blow over sometime in the next 24 hours. It’s just a small incident, of course – it’s just a hat, it’s just one misunderstanding, it’s not what we are really all about, and it really deserves a good lampooning of the kind Spitting Image used to do so well. For the true picture, you could do no better than to hear or read the marvellous sermon KJS preached at Southwark last weekend. What I regret about this story, though, is that it’s one of a long series of events that make the Church appear out of touch and absorbed in petty details that don’t matter that much.

Many have asked, “What was Lambeth thinking?”. I may be wrong, but my guess is that it was the timing of her visit – so close to our imminent Synod debate on women bishops in England – that made those in Lambeth anxious not to be seen to be forcing the issue. Perhaps this isn’t surprising given that the history of England* has always inclined towards change by degree. We didn’t make the long journey from feudalism to democracy without a war or two, but once France had her revolution we followed with two centuries of political reform, one tiny step at a time. Whether the anxiety for less bloodshed left us with more frustration is hard to say, but it seems that culturally we carved a path we still follow: change comes slowly, with every miniscule step analysed and considered. The seventeenth century proverb (later adapted by Longfellow) could have been written for the Church of England: “God’s mill grinds slow, but sure.”

Kelvin Holdsworth has provided a Scottish perspective in his article Mitregate:

…The short version is that the Presiding Bishop of the US based Episcopal Church was inhibited from wearing a mitre or carrying a pastoral staff whilst visiting Southwark Cathedral last Sunday. I suspect this is because the Church of Englandshire does not recognise that women can become bishops yet and so inhibit women who have been made bishops from acting as bishop or appearing as bishops when in England. It is a kind of small-mindedness that we don’t indulge in up here. Either Bishop Katharine is a bishop or she isn’t. If she is, she gets treated with respect as a bishop or she isn’t and we don’t have to bother about her at all. (It was the same years ago for Bishop Penny from New Zealand who was able to act as a bishop in Scotland even before we had made any decision about women and the Episcopatate but she could not do so in England).

I remember that +Gene Robinson was banned from wearing Episcopal regalia when in England two years ago for similar reasons. However, I could not remember whether he had worn one a titfer liturgically when he came here. It made me look back at the video of that service and I found that he did indeed wear a mitre. Seems to me that making headgear the cause of controversy is displacement activity.

Presumably the no-mitre on +Katharine rule was instigated in order to appease a certain kind of Evangelical lobby group. (Which again, I don’t think we really have up here either, thank God). Oh how sweet the irony that they become the first bible-believing fundamentalists to insist that a woman not wear a hat in public worship…

And it appears that Kenneth Kearon made a comment about this last week in Maryland.

But this Canadian church website has a video which everyone should watch. (h/t SueM)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 20 June 2010 at 5:34pm BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
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Pentecost letters - further analysis

The Advisory Committee of Communion Partners has issued A Response to the Pentecost Pastoral Letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

(To discover who exactly the signatories are, scroll to the bottom.)

I failed to link earlier to the statement from the Chicago Consultation which doesn’t seem to have made it yet to the consultation’s own website. So I have copied it here below the fold.

Another statement comes from The Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission. That one is here: look for The Convent Station Statement on the changing ethos of the Anglican Communion Sunday, June 13, 2010

Andrew Goddard has written at Fulcrum: Reflections on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost Letter: A pathway for Anglican spiritual renewal?

CHICAGO CONSULTATION APPLAUDS PRESIDING BISHOP’S PENTECOST LETTER

CHICAGO, IL, June 4, 2010: The Chicago Consultation’s spokesperson and co-convener, the Rev. Lowell Grisham, released this statement today in response to the Presiding Bishop’s Pentecost letter:

“The Chicago Consultation applauds Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for her pastoral letter to the Episcopal Church in this season of Pentecost and thanks her for her leadership of our ‘broad and inclusive tent,’ said Grisham.

“In her letter, the Presiding Bishop has defended with grace and clarity our Church’s profound and evolving desire to accept gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Christians as full members of the Body of Christ. She has reminded Anglicans who seek to exert authority over other provinces within the Communion that true Anglicanism requires otherwise. And with gracious restraint she has explained why it is godly to honor the customs of indigenous Americans in our liturgy.

“Above all, the Presiding Bishop has soundly rejected the argument that the Anglican Communion can best be held together by breaking faith with its gay and lesbian members. In rejecting this false choice, the Presiding Bishop stands as a witness to all Episcopalians that we need not fear where God is leading us as we endeavor to do justice and seek true communion.”

The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. To learn more about the Chicago Consultation, visit www.chicagoconsultation.org.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 20 June 2010 at 8:38am BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Friday, 18 June 2010

Kearon visits TEC Executive Council

ENS reports: Secretary general says Episcopal Church should have expected consequences for Glasspool consecration

The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, told the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council June 18 that when Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary Glasspool was ordained as the church’s second openly gay, partnered bishop, the church ought to have known that it would face sanctions.

However, he said that in the recent removal of Episcopal Church members from some Anglican Communion ecumenical dialogues “the aim has not been to get at the Episcopal Church, but to find room for others to remain as well as enabling as full a participation as possible for the Episcopal Church within the communion.”

Kearon claimed that the communion’s ecumenical dialogues “are at the point of collapse” and said that the last meeting of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, of which Jefferts Schori is an elected member, “was probably the worst meeting I have experienced.”

“The viability of our meetings are at stake,” he added…

For earlier reports of the meeting, see Executive Council quizzes Secretary General.

In a formal statement issued after the meeting, available from ENS here, the Council said this about the encounter with Kearon:

The 45-minute session on Friday with invited guest Canon Kenneth Kearon was carefully prepared for by the Standing Committee on World Mission, who wrote the thoughtful and substantive questions that made clear our commitment to being an inclusive church while also deeply committed to classic Anglicanism and deepening our relationship with our sisters and brothers across the Communion.

Canon Kearon began by describing the beginning of the current tensions as the increasing “problem of growth and diversity in the Anglican Communion.” This statement was significant to a body that has long seen diversity in the Body of Christ as an opportunity and has sought to base its actions on the baptismal promise that we will seek and serve Christ in all people and respect the dignity of every human being.

The questions sought clarification on the presenting issues, including the Archbishop of Canterbury’s removal of appointees from The Episcopal Church to ecumenical bodies and Canon Kearon’s statement that The Episcopal Church does not “share the faith and order of the vast majority of the Anglican Communion.” He also responded to concerns about incursions by other provinces of the Communion. He acknowledged that the Archbishop of Canterbury considers certain activities of the Province of the Southern Cone to constitute an incursion, but is awaiting clarification about the extent of these activities from the primate of that province. However, such ongoing breaches of the moratorium on incursions do not rise to the same level of departure from the faith and order of the Communion as does the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Christians.

The Council very much appreciated the chance to meet with Canon Kearon, who agreed to respond in writing to additional questions from members of the Council.

The Living Church also has a report, see Kenneth Kearon Defends Archbishop’s Decisions.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 18 June 2010 at 9:38pm BST | Comments (63) | TrackBack
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more sanctions from Lambeth?

Updated Friday evening

The Church Times reports on last Sunday’s service at Southwark Cathedral, in a sidebar to the story headlined Bishops criticise USPG cuts.

Doffed: the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, was asked by Lam­beth Palace not to wear her mitre when she visited Southwark Cath­edral last Sunday. As a consequence, she carried it under her arm. In her sermon, she spoke of the fear of strangers: “There’s something in our ancient genetic memory that ratchets up our state of arousal when we meet a stranger — it’s a survival mech­anism that has kept our species alive for millennia by being wary about strangers. But there’s also a piece of our make-up that we talk about in more theo­logical terms — the part that leaps to judgement about that person’s sins. It’s con­nected to knowing our own sinful­ness, and our tendency toward competition.” She urged the con­gregation to lose the “defensive veneer that wants to shut out other sinners”.

In a letter to The Times, a group of 15 clerics in the Southwark diocese, mostly con­servative Evangelicals, criticised the invitation: “We seriously question the judgement of those who have not withdrawn their invitation to her after her recent consecration of Mary Glasspool,” a partnered lesbian. She also spoke at the Scot­tish Synod, where she talked of her Church’s “radical hospitality”. At the USPG annual meeting, she was upbraided by the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba: the support for same-sex partnerships had com­municated “a measure of uncaring at the con­sequent difficulties for us”

In a related story, the Church of England Newspaper has this report by George Conger Bishop Jefferts Schori rebuffs Dr. Williams’ call for restraint. It includes this:

The June 2 public letter follows upon private communications between Bishop Jefferts Schori and Dr. Rowan Williams about her continuing role in the councils of the Anglican Communion.

The press officer to the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council has confirmed to The Church of England Newspaper that Canon Kenneth Kearon hand delivered a letter from Dr. Williams to Bishop Jefferts Schori at the April 17 consecration ceremony of Bishop Ian Douglas of Connecticut.

The chancellor to the Presiding Bishop, David Booth Beers, told bishops attending the May 24 to 28 Living Our Vows bishops’ training programme at the Lake Logan Episcopal Center in North Carolina that in this letter Dr. Williams had asked the Presiding Bishop to consider absenting herself from meetings of the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee and the Primates Meeting in light of the Episcopal Church’s violation of the moratoria on gay bishops and blessings, those present tell CEN.

Speaking to a group of bishops during an informal after dinner session, Mr. Beers stated the Presiding Bishop had rejected the Archbishop of Canterbury’s suggestion, observing that he had no authority to remove her from the Primates Standing Committee as she had been elected by the North and South American primates. She also objected to Dr. Williams’ claim to have the authority to ban her from the councils of the church.

One of the bishops at the evening encounter told CEN that speculation on the future structures of the Communion was also shared by Mr. Beers with the bishops. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s press office did not respond to requests for clarification on Mr. Beers’ comments, while a spokesman for the Presiding Bishop declined to comment on “speculation and conjecture.”

Other reports:

Diana Butler Bass at Beliefnet Mitregate: The Anglican Crisis Over Women’s Hats

Maggi Dawn Mitregate: the latest church row

Friday evening update

According to the American Anglican Council in an article headlined Jefferts Schori: “We were not asked to withdraw” the following exchanges took place at the press conference following the Executive Council meeting in Maryland today:

Robert Lundy, American Anglican Council: Presiding Bishop, my question is in regards to the election of a new representative for The Episcopal Church to the Anglican Consultative Council. Was that new representative Bishop Ian Douglas and if so, will you and Bishop Ian Douglas be attending the next Standing Committee meeting of the ACC?

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori: We expect those elections to happen this afternoon and yes I expect the representatives of The Episcopal Church to be present at that meeting.

President Anderson: We’re looking forward to the election. We have two candidates in both positions that are open. . .

David Virtue, Virtue Online: My question is for the Presiding Bishop. In light of events recently concerning the Archbishop’s Pentecost letter and the TEC being asked to withdraw several ecumenical leaders from the ACC, will the Presiding Bishop and Executive Council consider cutting the 40% budget of the ACC? Has that been discussed?

Jefferts Schori: Your first observation is not accurate. Members of Ecumenical dialogues were removed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. We were not asked to withdraw. We were not asked to withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council. There has been no discussion here of reducing our offering to the Anglican Communion Office.

Mary Francis Schjonberg, Episcopal Life: At the beginning of this presentation this morning, what was your general sense that the way he (Kenneth Kearon) sees things may not be the way The Episcopal Church sees things. At the end of the session, do you think there was any greater understanding on his part or on the Council’s part about the situation in the Communion?

Anderson: I’d like to say in response to that one of the comments that Secretary Kearon made in his opening remarks struck me particularly where he mentioned that some of the issues that they have identified in the Anglican Communion and one of them, a presenting issue, is diversity. In the first place, I don’t think that The Episcopal Church sees diversity as an issue in the same way in which Secretary Kearon presented it of being seen from his viewpoint. I did not see any change in that by the time we had finished talking. I didn’t see any concrete evidence that there was a particular newly developed line of understanding becoming perhaps both ways.

Jefferts Schori: I think we look forward to the possibility of…upon further reflection that all participants in the conversation this morning they have had their understanding increased.

And two more #mitregate articles

RNS Daniel Burke It’s hats-off to female bishop, and not in a good way

Ruth Gledhill Mitregate: The Sequel

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 18 June 2010 at 7:54am BST | Comments (34) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 15 June 2010

more from Southwark Cathedral

Updated yet further Thursday afternoon

An audio recording of the Presiding Bishop’s sermon is now available on the cathedral website, along with the text.
Go to this page
.

Also, in the afternoon, the Dean of Southwark made comments about the morning event in his sermon, text here.

This morning there is some comment about the event in the Diary column of the Guardian. Read that over here.

Updates

ENS reports from the TEC Executive Council meeting now proceeding in Maryland, that Lambeth Palace tells presiding bishop not to wear symbol of office.

In the week before her visit, the presiding bishop said, Lambeth pressured her office to provide evidence of her ordination to each order of ministry.

“This is apparently a requirement of one of their canons about the ministry of clergy from overseas,” she said.

The presiding bishop said both the ordination and mitre issues put the Very Rev. Colin Slee, Southwark’s dean, “in a very awkward position.”

She called the requirements “nonsense” and said, “It is bizarre; it is beyond bizarre.”

A commenter on another thread has linked to a picture showing the Presiding Bishop carrying her mitre.

The full text of the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967 can be found here, and further context can be found at this TA article from February 2005 (scroll down to Question 56 and follow the links).

A comment from the thread below has been republished in this article at Episcopal Café:

jdd commenting on the story that the Archbishop of Canterbury gave the Presiding Bishop permission to preach and preside at Southwark Cathedral on the condition that she not cover her hair…

As to precedents:

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold wore a mitre at Southwark Cathedral in 2006, see Griswold wore mitre at Southwark.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wore a mitre when she preached at Salisbury Cathedral in 2008, see Salisbury diocese welcomes Presiding Bishop, Sudanese bishops for pre-Lambeth hospitality initiative. See this picture.

Ruth Gledhill has written about this on her blog, see Bishop crossed in mitre row. Another picture there too.

The story in The Times is headlined Female US bishop forced to carry mitre in ‘snub’ by Lambeth Palace, but that is behind a paywall.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 15 June 2010 at 8:04am BST | Comments (94) | TrackBack
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Monday, 14 June 2010

cross-border interventions

Updated again Wednesday evening

I published a couple of cross-border intervention footnotes recently to other articles, see here, and also here. That was after the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Kenneth Kearon wrote a letter in which he indicated some doubts in this area.

Today, Episcopal Café joins the campaign for better information on this topic.

Has the Church of Nigeria formally engaged in boundary crossing? The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council do not know.

On their respective websites the Church of Nigeria and CANA openly confess that the Church of Nigeria is formally in violation of the boundary crossing moratorium…

See It’s formal: CANA is a diocese of the Church of Nigeria.

Referring to the recent Virginia court decision involving CANA/Anglican District of Virginia:

…The Virginia Supreme Court Decision said the ADV congregations lost the case because, as ADV claimed (and as you can see, still claim), they were a branch of the Church of Nigeria.

This information is offered to assist the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General in their inquiries into whether the Province of the Church of Nigeria has engaged in and continues to engage in crossing boundaries of another province of the Communion in violation of the moratorium against such intervention.

And there is this further document dated May 2010 from the ACNA website [PDF] that lists all the cross-border interventions and notes that:

During this period of transition, bishops within ACNA will retain membership in the House of Bishops of the province in which they were members prior to the formation of ACNA.

H/T to the Café and to Albany Via Media.

Update Wednesday evening

ENS reports that Communion secretary general due to attend Executive Council meeting

The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, is to speak to the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council here on June 18.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told the council at its opening plenary session that Kearon would engage with the council in a question-and-answer session at 9 a.m. on the last day of the council’s June 16-18 meeting at the Conference Center at the Maritime Institute.

His presence at the meeting will come 11 days after he announced that he had sent letters to five Episcopal Church members of the inter-Anglican ecumenical dialogues with the Lutheran, Methodist, Old Catholic and Orthodox churches “informing them that their membership on these dialogues has been discontinued.” Kearon also said on June 7 that he had written to the Episcopal Church member of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO), withdrawing her membership and inviting her to serve as a consultant to that body…

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Sunday, 13 June 2010

Presiding Bishop at Southwark Cathedral

ENS has published the full text of the sermon preached at Southwark Cathedral this morning. See Presiding bishop preaches at Southwark Cathedral in London. The text is copied here, below the fold.

I come from a notorious place. Gambling and prostitution are legal in Nevada. Ministry there means that many congregations host 12-step programs not just for alcoholics and drug addicts, but for those addicted to gambling. There are a few groups for sex addicts, too. A story quietly circulated when I was there, about a priest who encouraged the local madams and their employees to visit the churches he served. One congregation made a warm enough welcome that the women of the night returned frequently. Other congregations acted more like Jesus’ fellow dinner guests – “who let her in here?” The women didn’t return to those dinner tables.

I don’t know what it’s like in the Church of England, but in some circles the Episcopal Church has the reputation for being a place where you have to dress correctly, and know how to act – i.e., you really should know all the responses by heart, and how to find your way around the several books we use in worship – or you shouldn’t even bother walking in the front door. Yes, I’ll admit that there are a few places like that, where the local pew-sitters are more afraid than their potential guests, but there are lots more communities where all comers are not just invited, but welcomed with open arms.

I have an old friend, a quirky priest who’s been a college chaplain for decades, who tells about the summer he traveled across the United States visiting different churches. He was camping, and didn’t get a bath every day, but he talked about what a different reception he’d get when he wore his collar, even when he was grubby. The Bishop of Rhode Island spent part of her last sabbatical learning what it’s like to live on the street. She tells about sleeping in homeless shelters in some of her own churches, and then going upstairs to church on Sunday morning. She was never recognized, but she learned a great deal about the welcome and unwelcome of different congregations.

It’s hard work to get to the point where you’re able and willing to see the Lord of love in the odorous street person next to you in the pew. It can be just as hard to find him in the unwelcoming host.

What makes us so afraid of the other? There’s something in our ancient genetic memory that ratchets up our state of arousal when we meet a stranger – it’s a survival mechanism that has kept our species alive for millennia by being wary about strangers. But there’s also a piece of our makeup that we talk about in more theological terms – the part that leaps to judgment about that person’s sins. It’s connected to knowing our own sinfulness, and our tendency toward competition – well, she must be a worse sinner than I am – thank God!

That woman who wanders into Simon’s house comes with her hair uncovered – “oh, scandal! She’s clearly a woman of the street!” And she starts to act in profoundly embarrassing ways, crying all over Jesus’ feet and cleaning up the tears with her hair. And, “oh Lord, now she’s covering him with perfume! We can’t have this in a proper house – what will people think? And I guess now we know just what sort of person this fellow is!”

The scorn that some are willing to heap on others because we think they’ve loved excessively or inappropriately is still pretty well known. Yet it is this woman’s loving response to Jesus that brings her pardon, and Jesus’ celebration of her right relationship with God. She doesn’t even have to ask. Jesus seems to say that evidence of her pardon has already been given – full measure, pressed down, and overflowing – just like her tears and hair and cask of nard.

It’s the same message Jesus offers over and over: “perfect love casts out fear” (1Jn 4:18). It’s actually our fear of the wretchedness within our own souls that pushes us away from our sisters and brothers. Fear is the only thing that keeps us from knowing God’s love – and we most often discover it in the people around us. Jesus wasn’t afraid to eat with sinners, either Simon or the other dinner guests, and he wasn’t afraid of what the woman of the city was going to do to his reputation.

The forgiven woman of the city is sister to the prodigal son. They are both our siblings. We can join that family if we’re willing to let go of that fearful veneer of righteousness. It covers our yearning to be fully known, because we don’t quite think we’re lovable. That veneer is the only thing between us and a whole-hearted “welcome home.” It’s risky to let that veneer be peeled away, but all we risk is love.

That’s what Paul is talking about in his letter to the Galatians. He knows that all his work at observing the fine points of the law is like piling up the layers in a piece of plywood. Those layers of veneer may make plywood strong, but in human beings they have to be peeled away, or maybe traded for transparent ones. The layers won’t right our relationship with God. Love will. Paul says, “if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a sinner.” The veneered self simply can’t be vulnerable enough to receive the love that’s being offered. Can we see the human heart yearning for love in that person over there? Can we recall our own yearning, and find the connection? That’s what compassion is – opening ourselves to love.

Practicing compassion rather than judgment is one way the layers start to fly off. Think about all those dinner guests. The party’s going to be far more interesting if we can find something to love about the curmudgeonly host and his buddies. Rejecting them is going to shut down any real possibility of compassion. It’s risky, yes, but the only thing we risk is our own hearts, and the possibility they’ll overflow as readily as that woman’s tears. It’s a big risk to let the layers go, but the only thing we risk is discovering a brother or sister under the skin.

Jesus invites us all to his moveable feast. He leaves that dinner party with Simon and goes off to visit other places in need of prodigal love and prodigious forgiveness. His companions, literally his fellow tablemates, are the 12 and “some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities.” Hmmm. Strong, healthy women, and three of them are actually named here: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna. Together with many others they supported and fed the community – they became hosts of the banquet.

Those who know the deep acceptance and love that come with healing and forgiveness can lose the defensive veneer that wants to shut out other sinners. They discover that covering their hair or hiding their tears or hoarding their rich perfume isn’t the way that the beloved act, even if it makes others nervous. Eventually it may even cure the anxious of their own fear by drawing them toward a seat at that heavenly banquet. There’s room for us all at this table, there are tears of welcome and a kiss for the wanderer, and the sweet smell of home.

Want to join the feast? You are welcome here. Love has saved you – go in peace. Lean over and say the same to three strangers: you are welcome here. Love has saved you – be at peace.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 13 June 2010 at 5:34pm BST | Comments (23) | TrackBack
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Friday, 11 June 2010

Presiding Bishop at Scottish General Synod

Updated Saturday lunchtime

The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schiori, the Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church, addressed the Scottish General Synod this afternoon.

Raspberry Rabbit has audio of the address online.

Update

The audio is now also available on the SEC wesbite.

Audio of Bishop Katharine’s Address to General Synod

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California property dispute continues

In California, another property dispute continues:

The California Supreme Court agreed June 9 to hear an appeal in the six-year property dispute between a Newport Beach church that broke away from the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church. The dispute began in 2004 when a majority of members of the Newport Beach congregation, citing theological differences, voted to disaffiliate from the diocese and the Episcopal Church. The group renamed itself St. James Anglican Church, realigned with the Anglican Church of Uganda and attempted to retain property and assets. The group is now part of the Diocese of Western Anglicans in the Province of the Anglican Church in North America.

Read ENS LOS ANGELES: California Supreme Court to hear Newport Beach breakaway group’s appeal.

The statement from St James Anglican Church is here.

Cross-border interventions note:
The ACNA Diocese of Western Anglicans explains itself here. Another page gives details of the involvement of the Provinces of Uganda and the Southern Cone which preceded its formation. That is copied in full below the fold.

Copy of Provinces and Dioceses:

This page is retained as of historical interest only. It shows how our member congregations had aligned themselves jurisdictionally during the period prior to our becoming a Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America.

The worldwide Anglican Communion is comprised of thirty-eight independent Anglican churches with historic ties to the Church of England (“Anglican” is the medieval and Late Latin word for England). When missionary bishops established churches throughout the British Empire, and beyond, they raised up indigenous clergy so that the local people could build their own churches. These independent Anglican Churches have continued in communion with the Church of England, and with each other, not because of hierarchical ties but through bonds of affection and the shared tradition of Anglican worship, based on the Book of Common Prayer.

The member churches of the Anglican Communion are called Provinces. Each is headed by an archbishop, called a Primate. Each Province consists of a number of (usually) geographic subdivisions, called Dioceses.

The member congregations of The Association of Western Anglican Congregations have provisional canonical connections to two of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion: the Province of Uganda, and the Province of the Southern Cone of South America.

The Anglican Church of Uganda

The Anglican Church of Uganda is a member church of the Anglican Communion. It was founded in 1877 by the Church Missionary Society and has grown through Africans evangelizing Africans. The church claims about 7 million members, although in the 2002 census some 8.7 million Ugandans (of a population of 24 million) considered themselves to be Anglicans. It is a church founded on the blood of martyrs. In 1876 the king had twenty-three of his page boys (mostly Anglican and Roman Catholic) roasted over a fire because of their loyalty to King Jesus. The event is commemorated annually. Today the church is active in the leadership of southern hemisphere churches that have provided provisional oversight to orthodox Anglican churches in America. In September, 2007 the church consecrated an American priest, John Guernsey of Virginia, a bishop for pastoral oversight of the more than 30 American churches that have affiliated with the Church of Uganda.

There are currently 31 dioceses of the Church of Uganda, each headed by a bishop. The dioceses in turn are divided into smaller units called parishes and sub-parishes and headed by Priests and Lay Readers, respectively.

Primate: The Most Revd. Henry Luke Orombi, Archbishop

Bishop: The Rt. Revd. John Guernsey

Bishop of Luweero Diocese: The Rt. Revd. Evans Kisekka

Bishop of North Mbale Diocese: The Rt. Revd. Daniel Gimadu

Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of South America

British immigrants brought Anglicanism to South America in the nineteenth century. The Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America (Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of America) was founded in 1974 as a new province of the Anglican Communion. Included are Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. The province is one of the largest in territory but one of the smallest in congregants, with approximately 30,000 church members. The Primate has been vocal in behalf of Christian orthodoxy within the Anglican Communion.

Primate: The Most Revd Gregory James Venables, Archbishop

Bishops: Rt. Revd Frank Lyons, Bishop of Bolivia. The Rt. Revd William Atwood is providing pastoral oversight for the churches of the Diocese of Argentina.

At present eight of the Western Anglican congregations are aligned with Uganda, two with Bolivia and three with Argentina.

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Thursday, 10 June 2010

Virginia Supreme Court rules in favour of Episcopal Church

ENS reports: Virginia diocese, Episcopal Church prevail with state Supreme Court

Statement from the Diocese of Virginia:
Court Rules in Favor of Diocese; Division Statute Does Not Apply

The Diocese of Virginia is gratified by the Supreme Court of Virginia’s ruling that the 57-9 “Division Statute” was incorrectly applied by the Fairfax County Circuit Court. The statute has forced faithful Episcopalians to worship elsewhere for over three years. The Supreme Court has sent the matter back to the lower court for further proceedings. The Diocese will demonstrate that the property is held in trust for all 80,000 Episcopalians who worship in Virginia.

“This decision brings us one important step closer to returning loyal Episcopalians, who have been extraordinarily faithful in disheartening and difficult circumstances, to their church homes,” said the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop of Virginia. “We are extremely grateful for this opportunity to correct a grievous harm. The Episcopal Church has and will continue to stand by its people, its traditions and its legacy - past and future. We look forward to resolving this matter as quickly as possible and bringing our faithful brothers and sisters back to their home churches.”

Added Henry D.W. Burt, secretary of the Diocese, “In light of this decision and its clear implications, I hope the leadership of CANA will now provide access for the continuing Episcopal congregations to worship as Episcopalians at their home churches during this interim period.”

Read the full opinion (PDF).

Statement from the Anglican District of Virginia:
Anglican Congregations Disappointed in Virginia Supreme Court Decision
Also over here on the CANA website.

FAIRFAX, Va. (June 10, 2010) – The nine Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) congregations that are parties to the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia are reviewing today’s Virginia Supreme Court ruling overturning the Fairfax County Circuit Court’s ruling in the case and remanding it back to the Circuit Court for further proceedings. The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia had appealed a ruling in favor of the congregations to the Virginia Supreme Court.

“We are disappointed with today’s ruling and will review it as we consider our options. This is not the final chapter in this matter. The court’s ruling simply involved one of our statutory defenses, and these properties are titled in the name of the congregations’ trustees, not in the name of the Diocese or The Episcopal Church. So we continue to be confident in our legal position as we move forward and will remain steadfast in our effort to defend the historic Christian faith,” said Jim Oakes, chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia, which is the umbrella organization for the nine Anglican congregations.

“As the Virginia Supreme Court’s opinion recognizes, there is clearly a division within The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia. Those divisions are a result of the actions of The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia to fall out of step with much of Christendom by choosing to redefine and reinterpret Scripture. They chose to sue our congregations when our churches in good conscience could not continue down their path. We are sorry The Episcopal Church has chosen to go its own way. Their choice to be a prodigal church does not give them the right to take our houses of worship with them. The legal proceedings have been an unfortunate distraction from all the good work our churches are doing to advance the mission of Christ. Ultimately, we know that the Lord is in control and our congregations will continue to put our trust in Him, not in secular courts or buildings. Our doors remain open wide to all who wish to worship with us,” Oakes concluded.

Cross-border interventions note: ADA explains:

The Anglican District of Virginia (www.anglicandistrictofvirginia.org) is an association of Anglican congregations in Virginia. Its members are in full communion with constituent members of the Anglican Communion through its affiliation with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a missionary branch of the Church of Nigeria and other Anglican Archbishops.

And from here:

The Anglican District of Virginia is made up of 34 Member Congregations (and counting!) in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, DC and North Carolina…

Footnote 7 of the judgment lists:

The nine congregations are: The Church at the Falls – The Falls Church, in Arlington County; Truro Church, Church of the Apostles, and Church of the Epiphany, Herndon, in Fairfax County; St. Margaret’s Church, Woodbridge, St. Paul’s Church, Haymarket, and Church of the Word, Gainesville, in Prince William County; Church of Our Saviour at Oatlands, in Loudoun County; and St. Stephen’s Church, Heathsville, in Northumberland County.

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USPG conference reports

Updated again Friday afternoon

Two items from the Swanwick conference:

Bishop Katharine calls on Anglicans to ‘speak truth to power’

The presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church in the US has called on Anglicans to help defeat injustice and human suffering.

Speaking at the USPG Annual Conference yesterday, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said ‘missional partnerships, whether Anglican, Christian or inter faith’ were essential for building a worldwide ‘community of peace and justice’.

Thabo Makgoba Addressing Anglican Differences - Spirit and Culture at the Foot of the Cross

‘Jesus Christ is the standard for discerning the path between authentic cultural expression and flawed syncretism, between ensuring we do not quench the Spirit and yet properly testing what we believe may be the Spirit’s leading’ said Archbishop Thabo Makgoba. He was addressing the USPG Annual Conference in Swanwick, England, on ‘Mission Realities for Southern African Anglicans – and their Wider Implications’.

Follow the link above and scroll down for the full text of his address. Here is one extract:

I am convinced that in our current situation within the Communion neither have we done, nor are we continuing to do, enough of this sort of listening to one another. We do not understand one another and one another’s contexts well enough, and we are not sufficiently sensitive to one another in the way we act. Autonomy has gone too far. I do not mean that we should seek a greater uniformity – I hope it is clear I am saying nothing of the sort. But we risk acting in ways that are so independent of one another that it becomes hard for us, and for outsiders, to recognise either a committed interdependent mutuality or a common Christian, Anglican, DNA running through our appropriately contextualised and differentiated ways of being.

Bishop Katharine, what I am going to say next is painful to me, and I fear it may also be to you – but I would rather say it to your face, than behind your back. And I shall be ready to hear from you also, for I cannot preach listening without doing listening. It sometimes seems to me that, though many have failed to listen adequately to the Spirit at work within The Episcopal Church, at the same time within your Province there has not been enough listening to the rest of the Anglican Communion. I had hoped that those of your Bishops who were at the Lambeth Conference would have grasped how sore and tender our common life is. I had hoped that even those who, after long reflection, are convinced that there is a case for the consecration of individuals in same sex partnerships, might nonetheless have seen how unhelpful it would be to the rest of us, for you to proceed as you have done.

There are times when it seems that your Province, or some within it, despite voicing concern for the rest of us, can nonetheless act in ways that communicate a measure of uncaring at the consequent difficulties for us. And such apparent lack of care for us increases the distress we feel. Much as we understand that you are in all sincerity attempting to discern the best way forward within your own mission context, we ask you to be sensitive to the rest of us.

Let me immediately add that, if there were certain others here, I would speak to them equally frankly. Cross border visitations and other moratoria violations have undermined not only your polity, but wider attempts to handle disagreements in a godly way before the face of the watching world. I will also add that, outside the scope of the moratoria, there are too many other shameful and painful ways that ‘gracious restraint’ has not been exercised by various different individuals and groups from all manner of perspectives. These too destructively exacerbate our attempts to live truly as a Communion, and contribute to the way that disagreements over human sexuality and its handling have come to dominate the life of the Anglican Communion to a disproportionate and debilitating extent. When I am interviewed, when I participate in radio phone-ins, no matter what the ostensible topic, again and again I find myself derailed by questions on this. I have to say this undermines our witness; dissipates energies that ought to be spent on the true priorities of mission; and distorts the focus and agenda of the Communion’s common life to an increasingly detrimental degree.

Updates

ENS has a report, ‘Witnessing to Christ Today’: Presiding bishop, Southern Africa primate address USPG conference.

This has links to videos as well:

Video: Presiding bishop addresses USPG on ‘Witnessing to Christ Today’
[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori delivers a keynote address June 9 on the theme “Witnessing to Christ Today,” during the annual meeting of USPG-Anglicans in World Mission in Swanwick, England.

Video: Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba addresses USPG conference
[Episcopal News Service] Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba delivers a keynote address June 10 as part of the USPG-Anglicans in World Mission annual conference. Makgoba speaks on the theme “Mission Realities for Southern African Anglicans — and their wider implications.

Video: USPG panel tackles issues concerning mission, Anglican identity, human sexuality, environment
[Episcopal News Service] Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba and Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori join the Rev. Mark Oxbrow, international director of the Faith2Share network, for a panel discussion June 9 that focuses on issues of local and global mission, Anglican identity, human sexuality and environmental concerns. The discussion was held during the USPG-Anglicans in World Mission annual conference in Swanwick, England.

Colin Coward reports, Thabo Makgoba and Katharine Jefferts Schori model the possibility of creative dialogue at the USPG Conference.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 4:54pm BST | Comments (8) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

still more on Williams, Kearon etc.

Updated Thursday morning

Earlier roundups here, and here.

Ruth Gledhill at The Times has Warring Anglicans removed from ecumenical faith group.

Also Commentary: Pentecost and the Anglican schism.

Anglican Journal has reports from Canada:

Mission possible…when the Anglican Communion works together, says Kearon

Deeper partnership possibilities: Both churches ‘have the ability to speak truth to power,’ says U.S. Presiding Bishop

A much more user-friendly copy of this same article is now here.

Video report includes highlights from an address by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (the Episcopal Church)

Update

Anglican Essentials has transcripts of the press conference held by Kenneth Kearon:

See here, and more recently also here.

Here’s a sample:

Neal[e] Adams, Anglican Journal: What about Nigeria and Rwanda?

I simply do not know whether Nigeria or Rwanda have formally through their Synod or through a resolution in their House of Bishops have decided [to break the moratorium regarding cross-border interventions.]

There are three sets of letters going out, one to The Episcopal Church members [Americans] who are on ecumenical dialogues or who are on the Faith and Order Commission. The second letter is to the Primate of Canada [Fred Hiltz], to clarify whether the Province has made a decision on the question of same-sex blessings. He may have addressed that in his primatial address. And thirdly, there’s a letter to the Primate of the Southern Cone Greg Venables asking him about the status of the intervention he has been involved with. His is the only intervention referred to in the Windsor Continuation Report. As a start we’re addressing those three areas and we await the responses – not where an individual bishop has broken one of the moratoria.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 at 10:34pm BST | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Presiding Bishop visits the UK

The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori is currently visiting the UK. Three items in her itinerary are:

  • Visiting the Scottish Episcopal Church General Synod in Edinburgh on Friday
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 at 2:49pm BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Inclusive Church Open letter to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

Inclusive Church has today issued this Open letter to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States.

Inclusive Church
St John’s Vicarage
Secker St
London SE1 8UF
www.inclusivechurch2.net

An open letter to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States
815 Second Avenue
New York
NY 10017

09 June 2010

Dear Bishop Katharine,

We rejoice that in your Pentecost Letter the Episcopal Church has reaffirmed its strong affirmation of gay and lesbian people as part of God’s good creation and your continued commitment to recognising, led by the Spirit, that God is calling and fitting gay and lesbian people to be ordained leaders of the Church.

We regret that the Archbishop of Canterbury has suggested in his letter to the Anglican Communion that The Episcopal Church should not be a participant in Ecumenical Dialogue on behalf of the Communion and should serve only as consultants on IASCUFO. The Archbishop may experience ecumenical partners saying they “need to know who it is they are talking to” but our experience is of ecumenical partners saying we are carrying forward this difficult discernment process for the whole church, that they have similar or more contentious issues to deal with themselves, and that they are appreciative of the open way we are facing this issue.

We do not support the Archbishop’s position that only those in agreement with the majority view can be participants as Anglicans in ecumenical dialogue or for that matter any other representative body of the Anglican Communion. Indeed, the Episcopal Church’s diligence in undertaking “deep and dispassionate study of the question of homosexuality, which would take seriously both the teaching of Scripture and the results of scientific and medical research” with gay and lesbian people, as resolved at the 1978 Lambeth Conference, and in upholding their human rights, as emphasised at the 1988 Lambeth Conference, has been in marked contrast to the position of other provinces whose status as representative participants is unchallenged. We ask you to have the courage, commitment and humility to “remain at the table” not just until you are asked to leave but indeed until the table is removed from you. We recognise this is asking you to be in an uncomfortable place but the self-denial being asked of you is not for a gracious withdrawal but a silencing of voices that need to be heard.

The 1979 Anglican Consultative Council Resolution on Human Rights specifically called on member churches “to rigorously assess their own structures, attitudes and modes of working to ensure the promotion of human rights within them, and to seek to make the church truly an image of God’s just Kingdom and witness in today’s world”. In 1990 the ACC resolution on Christian Spirituality urged “every Diocese in our Communion to consider how through its structures it may encourage its members to see that a true Christian spirituality involves a concern for God’s justice in the world, particularly in its own community”. We recognise that developments in the life of the Episcopal Church have been in line with and, in part, a response to this call.

In 2005 The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada were asked to withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council. Inclusive Church appealed to you not to accede to this request. We argued that The Anglican Consultative Council, consisting of Bishops, Clergy and Laity is currently the most representative body in the Anglican Communion; were you to withdraw your participation it would no longer be a fully representative body. It is our belief that your actions, taken in response to the pastoral needs of gay and lesbian people and the justice of their claim to full participation in the life of the church, do not justify the breaking of “the bonds of communion” or any moves to exclude you from the conciliar life of the Communion. On the contrary it means you bring to the Anglican Consultative Council experience and counsel that would otherwise be absent and without which the Anglican Communion can not progress to a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding sexuality or ever achieve reconciliation.

We hold to that view still today and ask that you resist this process of excluding those Provinces of the Communion most committed to the visible inclusion of all Anglicans in the life of the Church. This process and the proposed Anglican Covenant are not building unity, they are turning disagreement into institutionalised disunity - even inventing mechanisms of exclusion to facilitate the process.

To agree to a voluntary self exclusion would not be to agree to a self- denying ordinance for the good of the whole. Gay Anglicans are part of the Anglican Communion in every province. Some are facing persecution by their own churches because of their courageous witness. By remaining at the table, the Episcopal Church has the opportunity to remind those who serve on representative bodies of their existence and to raise their voice. We ask that you resist this misguided process that is formally excluding those who speak for people the Communion should urgently be seeking to include.

Yours sincerely,
Canon Giles Goddard
Chair, Inclusive Church
www.inclusivechurch2.net

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 at 2:37pm BST | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Williams and Kearon: more stories

Continued from here.

Simple Massing Priest has The end of authentic Anglicanism.

Colin Coward has What the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General should really be doing.

An earlier news report published by ENS by Neale Adams CANADA: Hiltz supports Episcopal Church, echoes objections to proposed sanctions

Associated Press Anglicans cut Episcopalians from ecumenical bodies

Religion News Service Episcopalians Booted from Anglican Bodies Over Gay Bishops

Anglican Journal Facing the consequences: Anglican Communion takes action against The Episcopal Church (previously linked in our Canadian synod coverage)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 at 9:36am BST | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 8 June 2010

PB: "sanctions are 'unfortunate'"

ENS has a report on what the Presiding Bishop said to the Canadian General Synod.

See Marites N. Sison Presiding bishop describes Canterbury’s sanctions as ‘unfortunate’

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has described the decision by Lambeth Palace to remove Episcopalians serving on international ecumenical dialogues as “unfortunate … It misrepresents who the Anglican Communion is…”

Update

A partial transcript of the press conference is available at the Anglican Essentials website, see Press conference with TEC Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts-Schori. Some excerpts:

Q: On the sanction imposed by the ABC on TEC for the ecumenism committee, the argument was that because of what has happened TEC doesn’t represent the faith and order of the communion. Is that fair? Secondly, how is it going to effect the work of TEC since you have a very strong interest in ecumenism?

KJS: Certainly our bilateral conversations will continue. I think it’s very unfortunate because it misrepresents who the Anglican communion is: we have a variety of opinions on these issues of human sexuality. People act as though one resolution from the 1998 Lambeth conference decided this for all time. If you look at the history of the Lambeth conference, they have gone back and forth: one in the 20s said that contraception was inappropriate and the next one said, yes it was appropriate and by the time you got 2 or 3 further down the road, it was the duty of families to plan. So our understanding about ethical issues evolves as it needs to, because our context evolves. For the Anglican communion to say to the Methodists or the Lutherans that we only have one position is inaccurate. We have a variety of understandings and, no we don’t have consensus on the hot-button issues of the moment.

and

Q: Has the ABC responded adequately to cross border interventions?

KJS: I don’t think he understands how difficult, painful and destructive it’s been, both in the ACoC and TEC. When bishops come from overseas and say, well, we’ll take care of you, you don’t have to pay attention to your bishop, it destroys pastoral relationships. It’s like an affair in a marriage: it destroys trust and I believe it does spiritual violence to vowed relationships. It is a very ancient teaching of the church that a bishop is supposed to stay home and tend to the flock to which he was originally assigned.

Q: you mentioned in your Pentecost letter – from the duelling Pentecost letters – “we note the troubling push towards centralised authority “ in response to Rowan Williams. Is not the resistance to cross-border interventions a similar push towards central authority on a smaller scale?

KJS: The resistance to cross-border interventions is for the reasons I’ve pointed out: it destroys pastoral relationships. It prevents any possibility of reconciliation; it prevents growth in understanding among people who disagree. The idea that one person in one location in the world can adequately understand contexts across the globe and decide policy across the globe, I think contravenes traditional Anglican understanding of local worship in a language understood by the people. This is what we were arguing about 500 years ago.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 8 June 2010 at 11:34pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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more responses to Williams and Kearon

Doug LeBlanc has reported at the Living Church that the Letter Affects Five Episcopal Leaders.

Earlier he had written Archbishop’s Letter Could Affect 30 Leaders.

The Living Church also published an editorial, An Invitation to Grow Up.

At Episcopal Café John Chilton wrote Disinvitations raise constitutional questions.

Also Jim Naughton wrote The incredible shrinking Archbishop of Canterbury.

Mark Harris wrote What makes The Episcopal Church so “Special” in the Archbishop’s eyes?

Adrian Worsfold at Pluralist Speaks has written Someone Should Remove Williams.

And he also published Rounding Up: The Opposition Grows.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 8 June 2010 at 10:19pm BST | Comments (2) | TrackBack
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Monday, 7 June 2010

Episcopal Church reports on ACO action

ENS reports: Episcopalians removed from Anglican Communion’s ecumenical dialogues

Jan Butter, communications director for the Anglican Communion, confirmed that the membership change applies to all ecumenical dialogues.

Butter told ENS that the Anglican Communion’s secretary general, in consultation with the archbishop of Canterbury, appoints members to the ecumenical commissions and to IASCUFO. “He therefore can ask people to stand down,” he said.

Episcopal Church members who were serving on the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue are the Rev. Thomas Ferguson, the Episcopal Church’s interim deputy for ecumenical and interreligious relations, and Assistant Bishop William Gregg of North Carolina.

Bishop C. Franklin Brookhart of Montana had been a member of the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission and the Very Rev. William H. Petersen, professor of ecclesiastical and ecumenical history of Bexley Hall, Columbus, was serving on the Anglican-Lutheran International Commission.

The Rev. Katherine Grieb, an Episcopal priest and professor of New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary, was the IASCUFO member who has been invited to serve as a consultant.

Kearon said he has also written to Archbishop Fred Hiltz of the Anglican Church of Canada “to ask whether its General Synod or House of Bishops has formally adopted policies that breach the second moratorium in the Windsor Report, authorizing public rites of same-sex blessing,” and to Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, “asking him for clarification as to the current state of his interventions into other provinces.”

Some dioceses in the Canadian church have made provisions for blessing same-gender unions and Venables has offered oversight to conservative members of parishes and dioceses breaking away from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

No mention was made in Kearon’s letter of ecumenical commission members from other provinces — such as Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda – that are currently involved in cross-border interventions in the United States.

Another document which surfaced today is a set of talking points from the Office of Public Affairs of the Episcopal Church. There is a copy of this, with some additional notes, at Episcopal Café.
There is now an official website copy over here.

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Friday, 4 June 2010

responses to the Presiding Bishop's letter

Updated Friday evening

Here are three:

Another version of this article is at Huffington Post The Real Reason for the Anglican-Episcopal Divide

Other news reports:

Religion News Service Daniel Burke Episcopal Head Lashes Out at Anglican ‘Colonial’ Uniformity

Reuters Tom Heneghan Church rejects Anglican pressure over gay rights and earlier Avril Ormsby Latest Anglican peace bid meets with skepticism

Friday evening update

Here’s a fourth analysis:

Living Church and Covenant Ephraim Radner Actions Now Have Consequences

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Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Presiding Bishop issues pastoral letter

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued a pastoral letter to the Episcopal Church, in which she refers to the Pentecost letter from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and urges continued dialogue with those who disagree with recent actions “for we believe that the Spirit is always calling us to greater understanding.”

The full text of the letter is below the fold. It also deals with the proposed Anglican Covenant. The covering press release continues:

In his May 28 letter, Williams acknowledged the tensions caused in some parts of the Anglican Communion by the consecration of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary Douglas Glasspool and the ongoing unauthorized incursions by Anglican leaders into other provinces. Glasspool is the Episcopal Church’s second openly gay, partnered bishop.

Jefferts Schori acknowledged in her letter that “the Spirit does seem to be saying to many within the Episcopal Church that gay and lesbian persons are God’s good creation, that an aspect of good creation is the possibility of lifelong, faithful partnership, and that such persons may indeed be good and healthy exemplars of gifted leadership within the Church, as baptized leaders and ordained ones. The Spirit also seems to be saying the same thing in other parts of the Anglican Communion, and among some of our Christian partners, including Lutheran churches in North America and Europe, the Old Catholic churches of Europe, and a number of others.

“That growing awareness does not deny the reality that many Anglicans and not a few Episcopalians still fervently hold traditional views about human sexuality. This Episcopal Church is a broad and inclusive enough tent to hold that variety.”

Note: the error discussed in the comments below has now been corrected in the original ENS published copy, and therefore this copy has been conformed accordingly.

A pastoral letter to The Episcopal Church

Pentecost continues!

Pentecost is most fundamentally a continuing gift of the Spirit, rather than a limitation or quenching of that Spirit.

The recent statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury about the struggles within the Anglican Communion seems to equate Pentecost with a single understanding of gospel realities. Those who received the gift of the Spirit on that day all heard good news. The crowd reported, “in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power” (Acts 2:11).

The Spirit does seem to be saying to many within The Episcopal Church that gay and lesbian persons are God’s good creation, that an aspect of good creation is the possibility of lifelong, faithful partnership, and that such persons may indeed be good and healthy exemplars of gifted leadership within the Church, as baptized leaders and ordained ones. The Spirit also seems to be saying the same thing in other parts of the Anglican Communion, and among some of our Christian partners, including Lutheran churches in North America and Europe, the Old Catholic churches of Europe, and a number of others.

That growing awareness does not deny the reality that many Anglicans and not a few Episcopalians still fervently hold traditional views about human sexuality. This Episcopal Church is a broad and inclusive enough tent to hold that variety. The willingness to live in tension is a hallmark of Anglicanism, beginning from its roots in Celtic Christianity pushing up against Roman Christianity in the centuries of the first millennium. That diversity in community was solidified in the Elizabethan Settlement, which really marks the beginning of Anglican Christianity as a distinct movement. Above all, it recognizes that the Spirit may be speaking to all of us, in ways that do not at present seem to cohere or agree. It also recognizes what Jesus says about the Spirit to his followers, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:12-13).

The Episcopal Church has spent nearly 50 years listening to and for the Spirit in these matters. While it is clear that not all within this Church have heard the same message, the current developments do represent a widening understanding. Our canons reflected this shift as long ago as 1985, when sexual orientation was first protected from discrimination in access to the ordination process. At the request of other bodies in the Anglican Communion, this Church held an effective moratorium on the election and consecration of a partnered gay or lesbian priest as bishop from 2003 to 2010. When a diocese elected such a person in late 2009, the ensuing consent process indicated that a majority of the laity, clergy, and bishops responsible for validating that election agreed that there was no substantive bar to the consecration.

The Episcopal Church recognizes that these decisions are problematic to a number of other Anglicans. We have not made these decisions lightly. We recognize that the Spirit has not been widely heard in the same way in other parts of the Communion. In all humility, we recognize that we may be wrong, yet we have proceeded in the belief that the Spirit permeates our decisions.

We also recognize that the attempts to impose a singular understanding in such matters represent the same kind of cultural excesses practiced by many of our colonial forebears in their missionizing activity. Native Hawaiians were forced to abandon their traditional dress in favor of missionaries’ standards of modesty. Native Americans were forced to abandon many of their cultural practices, even though they were fully congruent with orthodox Christianity, because the missionaries did not understand or consider those practices exemplary of the Spirit. The uniformity imposed at the Synod of Whitby did similar violence to a developing, contextual Christianity in the British Isles. In their search for uniformity, our forebears in the faith have repeatedly done much spiritual violence in the name of Christianity.

We do not seek to impose our understanding on others. We do earnestly hope for continued dialogue with those who disagree, for we believe that the Spirit is always calling us to greater understanding.

We live in great concern that colonial attitudes continue, particularly in attempts to impose a single understanding across widely varying contexts and cultures. We note that the cultural contexts in which The Episcopal Church’s decisions have generated the greatest objection and reaction are also often the same contexts where women are barred from full ordained leadership, including the Church of England.

As Episcopalians, we note the troubling push toward centralized authority exemplified in many of the statements of the recent Pentecost letter. Anglicanism as a body began in the repudiation of the control of the Bishop of Rome within an otherwise sovereign nation. Similar concerns over self-determination in the face of colonial control led the Church of Scotland Scottish Episcopal Church to consecrate Samuel Seabury for The Episcopal Church in the nascent United States – and so began the Anglican Communion.

We have been repeatedly assured that the Anglican Covenant is not an instrument of control, yet we note that the fourth section seems to be just that to Anglicans in many parts of the Communion. So much so, that there are voices calling for stronger sanctions in that fourth section, as well as voices repudiating it as un-Anglican in nature. Unitary control does not characterize Anglicanism; rather, diversity in fellowship and communion does.

We are distressed at the apparent imposition of sanctions on some parts of the Communion. We note that these seem to be limited to those which “have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion.” We are further distressed that such sanctions do not, apparently, apply to those parts of the Communion that continue to hold one view in public and exhibit other behaviors in private. Why is there no sanction on those who continue with a double standard? In our context bowing to anxiety by ignoring that sort of double-mindedness is usually termed a “failure of nerve.” Through many decades of wrestling with our own discomfort about recognizing the full humanity of persons who seem to differ from us, we continue to work at open and transparent communication as well as congruence between word and behavior. We openly admit our failure to achieve perfection!

The baptismal covenant prayed in this Church for more than 30 years calls us to respect the dignity of all other persons and charges us with ongoing labor toward a holy society of justice and peace. That fundamental understanding of Christian vocation underlies our hearing of the Spirit in this context and around these issues of human sexuality. That same understanding of Christian vocation encourages us to hold our convictions with sufficient humility that we can affirm the image of God in the person who disagrees with us. We believe that the Body of Christ is only found when such diversity is welcomed with abundant and radical hospitality.

As a Church of many nations, languages, and peoples, we will continue to seek every opportunity to increase our partnership in God’s mission for a healed creation and holy community. We look forward to the ongoing growth in partnership possible in the Listening Process, Continuing Indaba, Bible in the Life of the Church, Theological Education in the Anglican Communion, and the myriad of less formal and more local partnerships across the Communion – efforts in mission and ministry that inform and transform individuals and communities toward the vision of the Gospel – a healed world, loving God and neighbor, in the love and friendship shown us in God Incarnate.

May God’s peace dwell in your hearts,

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

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Bishop of California responds to ABC

Bishop Marc Andrus of California has written A response to Archbishop Rowan’s Pentecost letter.

Here is an extract:

…When an Empire and its exponents can no longer exercise control by might, an option is to feint, double-talk, and manipulate. Such tactics have been in the fore with Archbishop Rowan since the confirmation of Gene Robinson as the Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. The deployment of the Windsor Report and the manipulation of the Lambeth Conference, as cited above, are prime examples. The archbishop’s Pentecost letter is the most recent example.

In the Pentecost letter, it looks like he is disciplining errant provinces of the Communion, while only a little concentration shows that the underlying goal is to assert his power to be the disciplinarian. Archbishop Rowan is intent on a covenant with punitive measures built in. The bishops of the Communion expressed their distaste for a punitive covenant, and so the archbishop has stepped up to be himself the judging authority he has been unable to build into a covenant.

Other examples in the Pentecost letter:

  • All three moratoria are supposedly to be attended to, but the packaging of the letter on the Anglican Communion website makes it clear that it is Mary Glasspool’s consecration that has galvanized the archbishop into action.
  • The archbishop says that primates of disciplined provinces are free to meet together. Surely these primates do not need the archbishop’s permission to meet together. This is another example of promoting the illusion of the archbishop’s power.
  • By taking offending provinces out of the conversation with ecumenical partners, the archbishop subtly implies that such conversation is dangerous and contaminating, exactly as was done with Bishop Robinson and LGBT voices in general at the Lambeth Conference…
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Monday, 31 May 2010

more criticism of the ABC

Jim Naughton has written an article at Episcopal Café titled The self-trivializing Anglican Communion.

…About halfway through weighing some of the issues that I’ve written about here before, I had a sudden realization: reflecting on Rowan Williams’ letter wasn’t a worthwhile use of my time; writing it was not a worthwhile use of his. The issues at stake have become so trivial — We are not debating right and wrong, we are debating whether there should be trifling penalties for giving offense to other members of the Communion.—that to engage them at all compromises our moral standing and diminishes our ability to speak credibly on issues of real importance.

This isn’t to say that we don’t have to make a decision about whether to accede to the archbishop’s proposal — and I suppose I think that we shouldn’t because it would only encourage him to make other such requests — just that whether we accede or not make very little difference to the world, to the Communion, to our ecumenical partners, to our church, or even to a Communion news junky like me.

Which is why I was of no use to the reporters I spoke to on Friday afternoon; because, God bless them, they had to write stories based on the mistaken notion that all of this stuff still matters, and increasingly, it does not. In attempting to ram through a covenant that marginalizes the laity and centralizes authority in fewer hands, Rowan Williams has unwittingly made it clear that the governance of the Communion is as nothing compared to the relationships within the Communion, and the relationships are beyond his control.

Last week, Jim also wrote a piece endorsing last week’s Observer article criticising Anglican silence on gay persecution in Africa, see Complicity is too mild a word.

As Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams has not only been complicit in the persecution of gay and lesbian Africans, he has actively abetted the cause of the Anglican Communion’s most virulently bigoted prelates, and twisted the Communion’s moral calculus beyond recognition…

…Williams’ silence on these issues would be less troubling had he not so frequently and publicly criticized the Episcopal Church for treating gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered Christians as full members of the Church. He used an invitation to the Church’s General Convention last summer to urge worshipers — during a sermon — not to pass legislation making it more likely that a gay or lesbian candidate would be elected to the episcopacy. When then-Canon Mary Glasspool, a lesbian, received sufficient consents to be consecrated as suffragan bishop of Los Angeles, Williams expressed his displeasure in a press release emailed far and wide at the crack of dawn (in stark contrast to his tepid criticism of the Ugandan legislation). And he continues to warn about the “consequences” that the Episcopal Church will face for Glasspool’s consecration.

Williams’ behavior suggests that there is only one sin for which an Anglican leader can earn public condemnation, and only one act that merits exclusion from the councils of the Communion: repenting of the Church’s age old homophobia. Calling him complicit in the persecutions of LGBT people in African suggests that he acquiesced in the creation of a climate of intolerance within the Anglican Communion. But in reality, he is one of its architects.

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Friday, 28 May 2010

Los Angeles consecration of bishops service

As there are a number of people, even bishops, who have expressed criticism of this event, it may be helpful to link to the Order of Service that was followed.

It is in a PDF file, available here.

Direct links to the video recordings are also available from this page.

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Tuesday, 18 May 2010

reflections on Bishop Glasspool's consecration

Doug LeBlanc wrote in the Living Church Lambeth Silent after Glasspool Consecration.

Tobias Haller wrote about The Pluperfect Mindset.

Savi Hensman wrote at Cif belief Mary Glasspool is ordained.

Jim Naughton asked at Episcopal Café What if we are asked to dis-invite ourselves again?

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Sunday, 16 May 2010

Los Angeles consecrations

updated again Monday morning

Diane Jardine Bruce and Mary Douglas Glasspool were consecrated bishops suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles yesterday.

Pat McCaughan reports this for Episcopal Life Online: Diane Bruce, Mary Glasspool consecrated bishops in joyous celebration in Los Angeles diocese.

Here are other reports, some reporting on the service and others previewing it.

Mitchell Landsberg in the Los Angeles Times L.A. region’s first two female Episcopal bishops are ordained
Arthur Hirsch in The Baltimore Sun Beyond the label
Gay Episcopal bishop-elect prepares for historic move to Los Angeles
Reuters U.S. Episcopal Church consecrates lesbian bishop
CNN Episcopal Church consecrates first openly lesbian bishop
Associated Press Episcopal church ordains its 2nd openly gay bishop
BBC US Church ordains lesbian bishop Mary Glasspool
Martin Beckford in the Telegraph First lesbian bishop to be consecrated by Anglican church in America
Jonathan Wynne-Jones comments in the Telegraph that Lesbian bishop proves that liberals have won the battle over gay clergy.

Updates

Giles Whittell and Ruth Gledhill in the Times Anglican rift deepens over Episcopalian ordination of lesbian bishop

Ruth Gledhill also has a Commentary article, For the sake of God, Anglican Church must put aside its differences.

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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

more news from Pittsburgh

The previous report here was in late January.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Anglicans hear legal fight details in Monroeville meetings.

And, direct from the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh:

Parishes and Diocese Meet to Discuss Litigation

Leaders from all 55 parishes in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh met with diocesan leaders to worship and discuss the current status of the litigation with The Episcopal Church. Archbishop Duncan read a prepared statement, which addressed financial concerns, timelines, and the way forward in mission. Bob Devlin, chancellor for the diocese, and members of the standing committee responded to questions and concerns from parish leaders. Parish leaders were also given various resources to guide them in moving forward with their mission.

To view Archbishop Duncan’s statement, click here. [PDF]

To view a Frequently Asked Questions sheet from this meeting, click here. [PDF]

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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Los Angeles suffragan consents - more reactions

The Fulcrum Leadership Team has published Where do we go from here? in response to the consents to the election of Mary Glasspool as bishop suffragan in the diocese of Los Angeles.

In response Matthew Davies at Episcopal Life has published ENGLAND: Conservative group denounces consent to Glasspool’s election in Los Angeles.

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Thursday, 25 March 2010

Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church

updated Maundy Thursday

The US Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops has published a draft of the 95-page report titled “Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church”. This is really two reports, one from the “Traditionalists” and one from the “Liberals”.

Episcopal Life has this story: Bishops’ theology committee publishes draft report on same-gender relationships which includes useful information of the report’s status. It starts:

The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops, concluding its six-day retreat meeting at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas, has posted a draft of the long-awaited 95-page report titled “Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church” on the College for Bishops’ website here.

“For a generation and more the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion have been engaged in a challenging conversation about sexual ethics, especially regarding same-sex relationships in the life of the church,” Theology Committee Chair and Alabama Bishop Henry Parsley wrote in the report’s preface. “The hope of this work is that serious engagement in theological reflection across differences will build new bridges of understanding.”

A notation on the report’s table of contents page cautions that the report “has been edited in several places” following a discussion among the bishops on March 20. “The responses of several pan-Anglican and ecumenical theologians will be added to this study in the summer, along with some further editing, before a final edition is published,” the note concludes.

Episcopal Café reports this as House of Bishops posts same-sex report(s).

update

Bill Bowder reports this in the Church Times as US theologians have words over gay marriage.

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Thursday, 18 March 2010

Los Angeles suffragans complete consent process

Updated Saturday morning and Monday morning

Both suffragan bishops recently elected in Los Angeles have now completed the process of church-wide consents.

Los Angeles diocesan announcement: Episcopal church consents to Glasspool’s ordination

Los Angeles Bishop-elect Mary Douglas Glasspool has received the required number of consents from diocesan standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction to her ordination and consecration as a bishop, according to a March 17 statement from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s office.

Statements from the Los Angeles bishops-elect: Consent process complete for Bishop-elect Mary Glasspool

ENS report: Los Angeles Bishop-elect Glasspool receives church’s consent to ordination

Some initial press reports:

Los Angeles Times Episcopal Church approves ordination of openly gay bishop in Los Angeles

Associated Press Episcopal church approves 2nd gay bishop

New York Times Episcopalians Confirm a Second Gay Bishop

Update

Living Church Lambeth Regrets Consents for Canon Glasspool

…This is the full statement from Lambeth Palace:

It is regrettable that the appeals from Anglican Communion bodies for continuing gracious restraint have not been heeded. Following the Los Angeles election in December the archbishop made clear that the outcome of the consent process would have important implications for the communion. The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion reiterated these concerns in its December resolution which called for the existing moratoria to be upheld. Further consultation will now take place about the implications and consequences of this decision.

Living Church Communion Partners on Bishop-elect Glasspool

Fulcrum Fulcrum Response to Consents being given to the Consecration of Mary Glasspool

Further update

LGCM Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement welcomes confirmation of Mary Glasspool as Suffregan Bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010

News from around the USA

From Los Angeles, we learn that Mary Glasspool has now received the required number of consents from standing committees of TEC dioceses. Consents from the bishops with jurisdiction are still awaited. See Los Angeles diocesan report here, and ENS report over here.

From South Carolina, there is news of resolutions to be considered at the 26 March diocesan convention. See the full text of these resolutions (also available as a PDF). ENS has a report titled Convention to consider resolutions on Episcopal identity, diocesan authority.

Hearings are due soon in lawsuits in both Fort Worth and Virginia:

  • The Court of Appeals for the Second District of Texas has announced that it will hear oral argument on the writ sought in the case of the Diocese of Fort Worth on Wednesday, April 14. For some of the background to this case, see here. For the views of those who have seceded from TEC, see this page and also this page.
  • The Virginia Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia during the week of April 12-16. See diocesan press release. Documentation is all available here. Press release from ADVA is over here.
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Friday, 5 March 2010

Civil Marriage in Washington DC

The District of Columbia in the USA recently became the sixth jurisdiction in the USA to enact a change to its civil marriage laws, to permit same-sex couples to get married. The five others are New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont.

The law went into effect this week, after the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court declined to order a delay.

The Bishop of Washington, John Chane issued this press release and these guidelines (PDF) for clergy. (The Diocese of Washington includes the District of Columbia and several counties of Maryland.)

Episcopal Bishop: Priests may preside at civil marriages in D. C.

Episcopal priests in the Diocese of Washington may preside at civil same-sex marriages in the District of Columbia under guidelines released today by Bishop John Bryson Chane. No priest is required to preside at such ceremonies.

“Through the grace of Holy Baptism, there are no second class members of the Body of Christ, “ Chane said. “We are of equal value in the eyes of God, and any one of us may be called by the Holy Spirit into holy relationships as well as Holy Orders.”

At its General Convention in July, the Episcopal Church granted bishops with jurisdiction where civil same-sex marriage is legal the discretion to “provide generous pastoral responses to meet the needs of members of this church.” Chane joins bishops in Iowa, Vermont and Massachusetts in permitting clergy to preside at civil same-sex marriages. Diocesan clergy in Washington have long been permitted to offer liturgical blessings to same-sex couples.

Chane’s guidelines do not specify what rites clergy may use when officiating at a civil marriage. “I would prefer to work that out in consultation with the clergy who will be performing these services,” he said…

For more background, see the ENS report by Mary Frances Schjonberg WASHINGTON: Priests may preside at civil marriages in D.C.

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Monday, 1 March 2010

US Supreme Court denies certiorari

From a press release by the Los Angeles diocese:

The U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it has denied a petition to hear an appeal from a breakaway congregation seeking claim to the property of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church of La Crescenta, California. The court posted its action, together with dozens of other petitions denied, on its web site.

Meeting in conference on Feb. 26, the high court declined to hear the petition filed by St. Luke’s Anglican Church of La Crescenta, whose members voted in 2006 to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Go here to read a statement by the Bishop of Los Angeles.

ENS report: LOS ANGELES: U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear La Crescenta petition on property case

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Friday, 19 February 2010

Law suits demonic, says Akinola

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) website has published the text of some reports by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) concerning recent activities of Archbishop Peter Akinola.

See Law suits against traditional Anglicans demonic, says Akinola.

The full text of this is copied below the fold.

Scroll down even further for the full text of a second article titled Battle against unscriptural practices not over, says Akinola. Also copied.

So far, I have not been able to locate either of these reports at the website of NAN.

(h/t to Episcopal Café)

Law suits against traditional Anglicans demonic, says Akinola

Washington, Feb. 11, 2010 (NAN) Archbishop Peter Akinola, the outgoing Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), has described as “demonic’’, the myriad of ongoing lawsuits instituted against orthodox Anglicans in North America.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Washington D.C., Akinola said the intention of the lawsuits was to stifle and annihilate the growth of the Church in the U.S.

NAN reports that the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria, was established in 2005 to cater for Christians opposed to same-sex teachings.

The convocation, which disassociates itself from the U.S. Episcopal Church, says it has grown to about 95 congregations since its formation.

Akinola noted that the growth had not been without serious challenges.

According to him, the mainstream U.S. Episcopal Church had filed multi-million dollar suits over ownership of church property.

“It is (the law suits) a major challenge. It is not CANA going to court; it is the demonic powers in the so-called Episcopal Church that are suing CANA churches.

“They are fighting us with everything they have with the hope of crushing us.

“It is so ungodly, so demonic and they are determined to completely wipe us out and this is costing millions of dollars.

“Money that could have been used in more positive work of the gospel, is now being used for legal battle; it’s so sad,” he said.

The Nigerian Anglican leader, who in 2006, consecrated a former Episcopal Church priest Martyn Minns, as bishop of CANA, said some of the legal battles had been decided in favour of CANA and some against it.

“Where we have lost, our people have braced up to say that they will not bow down to Baal and they will not on the account of money go and do what is not right.’’ he said.

Akinola, who was in the U.S. for a farewell luncheon organised in his honour by CANA, also spoke on what he plans to do after retirement on March 25.

“Peter Akinola has been able to live a very active life and at the age of 66, it is not possible for him to go and sit down.

“With the help of parents, we have been able to incorporate Peter Akinola Foundation (PAF) which has five broad initiatives.

“Four are written down and one is kept in the mind.

“ The four that are written down have to do with youth empowerment, mission and evangelism, standing-in-the-gap (a programme for lukewarm members of the church) and the fourth one is continental- a concern to deal with African unity and economic empowerment,’’ he said.

He said that the N300 million Foundation would also initiate a programme to spur Christian leaders particularly those in Africa, to “wake-up’’ to their leadership roles and responsibilities. (ENDS)

Battle against unscriptural practices not over, says Akinola

Washington, Feb. 11, 2010 (NAN) Archbishop Peter Akinola, the outgoing Primate of Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), says the ongoing battle against unscriptural practices in the “Church of God’’ will continue after his retirement on March 25.

At a valedictory luncheon in Washington D.C, organised by the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), Akinola urged evangelicals in the Church to continue to stand firm against “huge problems confronting the Church.’’

“The problems that led to the forming of CANA are still very much with us; the battle is not over yet.

“Akinola is going to step down from this office but you dare not step down from this struggle.

“The schools which our children attend are filled teachers who are promoting this same evil agenda,’’ he said.

The cleric described as very fascinating the “story of CANA’’, which was established as a spiritual harbour for Christians opposed to liberal teachings of the US Episcopal Church.

“It was originally meant to be a church that will be a home for Nigerian Anglicans in this country.

“ We said we will not allow them to go to drift to some other churches, that was the initial plan.

“But in God’s providence, that little effort has resulted in this mighty tree called CANA and in that I rejoice,’’ he said.

Akinola insisted that he was not “retiring from preaching the gospel of Christ, saying “ I am transiting to another phase of work.’’

The New Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in spite of heavy snowstorms in Washington D.C on Wednesday, the organisers of the event braced the odds to organise the momentous event.

The occasion was laden with tributes from friends, priests, parishioners and Church leaders who lauded the visionary leadership of the 66-year old cleric.

Bishop Martyn Minns of CANA recounted Akinola’s humble beginning from a poor home and his growing into a “man with great passion for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.’’

“A man who is determined to be obedient to the word of God, who sees no problems but opportunities,’’ Minns, who was consecrated the first bishop of CANA in August 2006 in Abuja said of Akinola.

Mr Abraham Yisa , the Registrar of the Church and Chairman, Board of Trustees of CANA, thanked Akinola for his selfless service and jovially invited him to “ please apply for the position of a parish priest in CANA after retirement.’’

Emmanuel Kampouris, the publisher of Kairos, a Christian journal, said owing to Akinola’s commitment to the Holy Bible he had spoken at various events in the world “telling the hard truth in love and encouraging those facing fiery trials.’’

He commended his great courage, saying “ he is a Man who fears only God and we thank God for that.’’

Akinola will be retiring as Bishop of Abuja diocese, Archbishop of Abuja and Primate of Nigeria, a position he held for a decade.

The Primate-elect, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh is currently the Chairman, Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC). (NAN) ENDS

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 19 February 2010 at 11:11am GMT | Comments (25) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 16 February 2010

What We Think We Are Doing

An article with this title by Bishop Pierre Whalon appears this week at Anglicans Online.

You can read it here.

There is then further comment and response by Bishop Whalon at the Episcopal Café.

See the comments here, and the response here.

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Sunday, 14 February 2010

more on the ACNA debate - part 2

Updated yet again Tuesday evening

See earlier list of pro-ACNA items.

The Church Times headline is Synod holds off from ACNA.

THE General Synod declined on Wednesday afternoon to express a desire to be in communion with the Anglican Church in North Amerca (ACNA).

But, “aware of the distress caused by recent divisions” in the Anglican Churches of the US and Canada, it recognised and affirmed the desire of those who had formed ACNA to be part of the Anglican family, and “acknowledged that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further”.

Earlier in the week, Matt Davies of ENS had reported Church of England says no to full communion with breakaway entity.

Church Mouse For the avoidance of doubt - the CofE did not ‘recognise’ the ACNA yesterday

Simple Massing Priest “Just a flesh wound”

Lionel Deimel Declaring Victory and Moving On

Scott Gunn Parsing Synod — what have they done?

Jim’s Thoughts resolution

Colin Coward Lorna Ashworth’s motion about the Anglican Church in North America

ask the priest Synod, ACNA and the FCE - A narrowly-avoided theological misstep

Updates

More from Simple Massing Priest
SOMEBODY on the Anglican Right is lying
and
Another lie from the Anglican Right

Justin Brett ACNA-Related Ramblings

Stand Firm has discovered another document, Copy of TEC Memo Circulated at CoE Synod.

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Saturday, 13 February 2010

more on the ACNA debate

Updated

The synod debate on ACNA has produced these reactions from Americans who support ACNA:

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Friday, 12 February 2010

Brian Lewis writes about the ACNA debate

The following article was written by Brian Lewis for the Preludium blog of Mark Harris.

“We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language” (Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost 1887).

I was alarmed but (bearing in mind Oscar’s witticism) should not have been surprised to hear that some in TEC and ACoC might misunderstand the full significance of the Church of England’s General Synod’s decision to reject the call to “express a desire to be in Communion with ACNA”.

But let us be clear it did just that, not once, but twice or perhaps even three times.

To follow through the sequence of events.

The original motion was:

That this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America.

In a background paper circulated in advance of the debate the mover (Lorna Ashworth) made a number of allegations about TEC and the ACoC. This clearly established that though the motion was ostensibly only about ACNA it was intended to invite the CoE to condemn the behaviour of TEC and ACoC.

In response to that briefing paper I circulated to all members of synod two papers.

  • The first was written by Revd Canon Alan T Perry LL M. a lecturer in ecclesiastical polity at the Montreal Diocesan Theological College, and amongst other things former Prolocutor of the Province of Canada and member of the Council of the Canadian General Synod, and specifically rebutting the allegations made against ACoC in Mrs Ashworth’s briefing paper.
  • The second was compiled by Simon Sarmiento (of among other things Thinking Anglicans fame) after consultation with David Booth Beers, Chancellor to the Presiding Bishop and Mary E. Kostel, Special Counsel to the Presiding Bishop for property litigation and discipline, and assistance from the Revd Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG, the Revd Scott Gunn, and Ms Susan Erdey of the Church Pension Group. It rebutted the allegations made against TEC.

All synod members including the Archbishops were sent these papers (I believe they are now online at Thinking Anglicans). Members of TEC and ACoC are indebted to Simon; I know how hard he worked on the production of theses papers. I also know how grateful many members of synod were to receive them.

Mrs Ashworth duly presented her motion to Synod, the further allegations made in her opening address confirmed that this was indeed a motion inviting synod to condemn the actions of TEC and ACoC.

In response to the original motion the Bishop of Bristol put forward an amendment (with the support of the House of Bishops) entirely replacing it.

The amendment reads

That this synod
(a) recognise and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family;
(b) acknowledge that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further; and
(c) invite the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011.

There are two key and essential things to recognise about this amendment (certainly recognised by everyone in the synod and why it was resisted by those supporting ACNA):

  • The original motion had asked the synod to express OUR desire to be in COMMUNION with ACNA.
  • The replacement recognised and affirmed THEIR desire to remain part of the Anglican FAMILY.

(Other finer questions about “affirm” and “remain” were not key to the understanding of this amendment and to my recollection not brought into the debate, indeed an amendment to leave out “affirm” was withdrawn; we could equally say that by saying the leadership had “formed” ACNA the Bishop was saying ACNA is a new church, but that was also not part of the debate nor probably part of the Bishop’s intention. )

The force of this amendment is in replacing OUR desire to be in COMMUNION with THEIR desire to remain part of the Anglican FAMILY.

Synod accepted this amendment.

Synod declined to express “a desire to be in Communion with ACNA”. That matters. Questions not asked are one thing but when a question is asked and the answer is politely No Thank You that changes where you are.

The No Thank You was polite, of course it was, but it was real. The amendment also asked our Archbishops for a report on the situation, and helpfully recognised the reality of the issues any future possible recognition would raise for the relevant authorities.

I find it difficult to see how ACNA could welcome any of this.

Further In case it was just possible that this was not a rejection of synod “expressing a desire to be in Communion with ACNA” the supporters of ACNA put forward again, as an amendment to the Bishop’s amendment, the original request “that this Synod express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America”. Asking the Synod to say both things at once. A very Anglican fudge that would have been!

The Bishop of Winchester and other ACNA supporters spoke for this, needless to say I spoke against it.

This was the critical moment of the debate - you might just possibly maintain we had in the Bishop’s amendment acknowledged proper procedure - the role of the “relevant authorities” the role of the Archbishops etc, now we could add in the support of our persecuted brothers and sisters (as they were presented to us), and say we desired to be in Communion with them.

The synod carefully considered this and voted No.

That is the second time.

Then we were asked to add an amendment that expressed “our desire that in the interim, the orders of ACNA clergy be recognised and accepted by the Archbishops subject to their satisfaction as to such clergy being of good standing, enabling them to exercise their ordained ministry in this country, according to the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967.”

We said No. Recognising orders is a key part of being in Communion.

I’m afraid I consider that is No a third time.

It was hardly surprising however that nobody objected to the final amendment, an acknowledgement of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and Canada - indeed I had referred to it myself when calling on synod members to support those who had remained faithful to their church.

I know the very existence of this debate raises questions about one part of the Anglican Communion interfering with another - and those questions were raised - but before we answer them, what of the Archbishop of Canterbury in his Presidential address expressing “repugnance” of the “infamous” proposed legislation in Uganda, and the efforts he and other CofE bishops have made communicating directly with the Anglican Church in Uganda. It is also not improper for a synod to offer its view of who it hopes we will be in Communion with. But I recognise there are big issues at stake for the Communion generally - I would just reiterate, I see little cause for concern for TEC or ACoC in the outcome of this particular debate, and to be frank it is beyond disingenuous or bizarre for anybody connected with ACNA to pretend this is in anyway an affirmation of ACNA.

Brian Lewis

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Tuesday, 9 February 2010

ACNA: another critical view

A critical view of the ACNA resolution is contained in an article published on Fulcrum and due to also appear on Religious Intellligence written by the Bishop of Sherborne, Graham Kings.

Read General Synod Motion concerning the Anglican Church in North America.

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ACNA: some other views

The Church of England Newspaper reports that one episcopal signer of the original resolution has had new thoughts. In Controversial American vote defused by House of Bishops it is reported that:

The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, said: “My name is on the original motion of Lorna Ashworth’s, and I’m happy that it was and is, but I realise that it is more practical to ask the Synod to do something that it really is in a position to do. “It is not in fact the role of the Church of England to make these kind of decisions, nor is it for Synod to make these kind of decisions. Therefore, to enable the archbishops and the bishops and others to vote positively, there needs to be an amendment like that which the Bishop of Bristol will be bringing.

“It does two things. It brings the motion in line with the constitutional role and the canonical realities as to who actually makes these decisions. At the same time it is a clear and positive affirmation of the character and intentions and standpoint of the ACNA.

Somebody who left the Church of England quite a while ago, Charles Raven, now a major force in the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans says this, in a piece published on Anglican Mainstream titled The English General Synod: The Centre Cannot Hold:

…it is as much about the English Church as the Church in North America.

She poses precisely the sort of question that the Church of England’s leadership wants to avoid because the ACNA represents a choice which must be made between two incompatible forms of religion – historic biblical Anglicanism and that pseudo- Anglicanism being promoted by TEC and its allies which derives its energy from the spirit of the age rather than the Spirit of Christ.

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ACNA: questions on a postcard

Tobias Haller has composed some pithy questions that member of General Synod might care to ponder about ACNA:

Please consider the following for a moment:

1) What would be done in the Church of England if a bishop from the convocation of Canterbury were to announce one day that he no longer considered himself to be under the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury and had transferred his allegiance to the Archbishop of Tanzania, but intended to remain in his present location and exercise episcopal functions as a representative of his new archbishop?

2) What would be done in the Church of England in the case of a priest who announced that he no longer recognized his diocesan bishop as having any authority over him, but refused to relinquish his cure? And if he invited bishops from other dioceses or provinces to do parish visitations there?

3) What would be done in the Church of England if the clergy and parish council of a parish in, shall we say, Dibley, announced that it was no longer part of the Church of England, but considered itself now to be a congregation of the Church of the Province of the Sudan, altered all of their signage and other public information to reflect this change, purporting now to be part of “The Anglican Church in England” and invited bishops from the Sudan to function in the parish, refusing to have anything more to do with their C. of E. diocese or its leadership?

These are the kinds of things The Episcopal Church is having to deal with, as facts on the ground. Any depositions, inhibitions, or lawsuits are a result of and in response to precisely these sorts of actions. Consider carefully how you vote on the motion to come before you. You may soon be dealing with just such situations yourself.

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Monday, 8 February 2010

The Episcopal Church and the ACNA

The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs
February 4, 2010

The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA)

The following is one in a series of talking points prepared as a resource for The Episcopal Church.

Talking Points:

The Episcopal Church and the ACNA

The facts about The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA).

  • The Episcopal Church is over 7400 congregations in 109 dioceses plus three regional areas in 16 countries with 2.2 million members.
  • It is important to note that membership in ACNA includes churches and denominations which have disassociated from The Episcopal Church both recently and over the last 130 years, as well as congregations which have never been part of The Episcopal Church. A definitive number is difficult to ascertain.
  • ACNA is led by an archbishop who is not a member of The Episcopal Church, The Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, or The Anglican Communion.
  • The Episcopal Church laity and clergy believe the Christian faith as stated in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. We call the Holy Scriptures the Word of God because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Bible. We look to the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church in the understanding of the Scriptures. Our assurance as Christians is that nothing, not even death, shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • The Episcopal Church welcomes all who wish to serve God through Jesus Christ.
  • The Episcopal Church welcomes women in ordained ministry – deacons, priests and bishops. The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church is the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to lead The Episcopal Church as well as any of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion. ACNA does not permit women to serve as bishops and, in some areas, bars women from all ordination.
  • The Episcopal Church is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, serving God together and working together to bring the Reign of God on earth. ACNA is not a member of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.
  • It is important to note that those who have remained in The Episcopal Church in those places where some have left include conservatives as well as liberals, persons on the political right as well as on the political left, and everything in between.
  • It is an inaccurate and misleading image that pictures those who have broken away from The Episcopal Church as the persecuted faithful, when in reality those who have remained have felt deeply hurt, and now in some cases are exiled from their own church buildings by ACNA.
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Tales from ACNA-land

Scott Gunn has posted a series of blog articles recently commenting on various matters relating to ACNA.

Some examples:

Putting the shoe on your foot

“Church Militant” gets new meaning

Duncan says Canterbury is “lost”

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Friday, 5 February 2010

ACNA: the background reading

Updated

As listed in my paper:

Professor Bruce Mullin’s Affidavit in the case of the Diocese of Ohio

This deals particularly with the issue of parishes purporting to depart from a diocese. It has not previously been published.

Professor Bruce Mullin’s Affidavit in the case of the Diocese of Fort Worth

This deals particularly with the issue of dioceses purporting to depart from TEC.

Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church (2009)

New edition, just published electronically during the past week.

The “Chapman report” January 2004

This matter was also reported at the time by Stephen Bates in the Guardian see
US Anglicans plot to break up church and Leaked letters reveal plot to split US church.

“Alternative oversight”

On January 14, 2004 , The Washington Post published a story headlined, “Plan to Supplant Episcopal Church USA Is Revealed.”

The article was based on a letter from the Rev. Geoff Chapman, rector of St. Stephen’s, Sewickley-one of the larger parishes in Duncan ‘s diocese-who said he was responding to an inquiry on behalf of the AAC and its “Bishops Committee on Adequate Episcopal Oversight.” 10 The letter, dated December 28, 2003 , was leaked to Post reporter Alan Cooperman.

In the letter, Chapman wrote that the AAC’s “ultimate goal is a realignment of Anglicanism on North American soil” resulting in a “replacement jurisdiction.” He added that conservatives would “seek to retain ownership of our property as we move into this realignment.”

A parish interested in “alternative oversight” should declare its relationship with its diocesan Bishop “severely damaged” as a result of Robinson’s consecration, Chapman wrote, and state that it now looked to “one of the Primates or an AAC orthodox Bishop for their ‘primary pastoral leadership.’”

Episcopal bishops who claimed authority over a parish in another bishop’s diocese would be vulnerable to prosecution under canon law. However, Chapman wrote, “we do have non-geographical oversight available from ‘offshore’ Bishops, and retired Bishops.”

If “adequate settlements” were not within reach by “some yet to be determined moment, probably in 2004,” he added, “a faithful disobedience of canon law on a widespread basis may be necessary.”

[extract from Following the Money see link below]

The “Barfoot memo” March 2004

The concept of “offshore oversight” for conservative Episcopal parishes was developed further in a March 3, 2004 , memo to “Ekklesia Society primates and bishops” and leaders of the Network by Canon Alison Barfoot. It was occasioned, Barfoot wrote, by conversations with Atwood, John Guernsey of the Network and Martyn Minns of the AAC.

Barfoot, formerly co-rector at Christ Church in Overland Park , Kansas , had recently been appointed an assistant to Orombi, primate of the province of Uganda . An ally of Duncan’s, Orombi had broken off relations with the Episcopal Church in December 2003.

In the memo, Barfoot outlined a three-step plan for removing parishes from the oversight of Episcopal bishops and placing them under the oversight of an “offshore” bishop who would then delegate his authority over that parish to the Network. If a parish did not already have a relationship with an offshore bishop, Barfoot suggested, the Ekklesia Society could arrange a match.

[extract from Following the Money see link below]

Following the Money 2006

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Responses to ACNA documents

The American Anglican Council has published this press release: Rebutting Simon Sarmiento and TEC’s Factual Inaccuracies.

The article lists only five points.

Anglican Essentials Canada has published this article: ACoC priest, Alan Perry, questions the ACNA briefing paper.

The article lists only one point.

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Thursday, 4 February 2010

ACNA and the Episcopal Church

Readers may recall this General Synod motion, which is being debated next Wednesday. And there is this amendment.

A paper rebutting the claims made about the Episcopal Church, compiled by me, has been issued to General Synod members.

That paper can now be read in full here.

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Saturday, 30 January 2010

God's Call and Our Response

This is the title of a publication from the Chicago Consultation.

As the press release says:

Earlier this month, diocesan standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction were formally notified of the election of the Rev. Mary Glasspool as bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Bishop-elect Glasspool is the second openly gay, partnered person to be elected bishop in the Anglican Communion.

The 2009 General Convention of the Episcopal Church affirmed, through Resolution D025, that God calls partnered gay and lesbian people to all orders of ministry in the Episcopal Church. The Chicago Consultation believes that this position is consistent with traditional Anglican polity and theology. To aid standing committees and bishops with their role in the consent process, we have published a collection of essays by eminent theologians across the Episcopal Church…

God’s Call and Our Response is available as a PDF file.

It is is edited by the Rev. Dr. Ruth A. Meyers, Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. It includes essays by:

  • The Rev. Canon Gary R. Hall, Ph.D, Christ Church Cranbrook, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
  • The Rev. Jay Emerson Johnson, Ph.D., Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California
  • The Rev. Dr. John Kater, Professor Emeritus of Ministry Development, Church Divinity School of the Pacific
  • Dr. Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Mary Wolfe Professor of Historical Theology, Episcopal Divinity School

More about the Chicago Consultation here.

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Friday, 29 January 2010

News from Pittsburgh

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has a press release:

Today Common Pleas Court Judge Joseph James accepted a Special Master’s report detailing the properties the Judge has previously ruled should be controlled by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The Special Master compiled his inventory following the Judge’s order of October 6, 2009, in which he ruled that a 2005 Stipulation agreed to by former diocesan leaders prevented them from continuing to hold diocesan assets.

Today’s order contains provisions intended to make it clear to the financial institutions holding the assets that they should now take their instructions only from designated representatives of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The order, which takes effect immediately, also requires former diocesan leaders to provide ongoing cooperation to the Diocese to implement the provisions of the Order.

The Diocese plans to quickly make arrangements so that all parishes may again have access to their investment funds that were frozen by financial institutions during the legal proceedings.

A PDF of Judge James’ January 29th order and the public version of the Special Master’s report can be viewed by clicking here.

Lionel Deimel has additional information here, and more here. And even more here.

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Sunday, 10 January 2010

a bridge too far?

Episcopal Café has drawn attention in ABC’s visitors to Canada on “aberrations south of the border” to a report in the Anglican Journal on the recent visit to Canada of “two pastoral visitors from the U.K. who were deputized by the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams”. They were Bishop Chad Gandiya of Harare, Zimbabwe, and Bishop Colin Bennetts, the retired bishop of Coventry.

Rather surprisingly, the visitors appear to have included remarks in their report about a country they were not visiting, the USA. According to the Journal:

The visitors said they were also reminded frequently by bishops that “Canada is not the USA.” While the United States is seen as a melting pot culture where religious and ethnic groups are synthesized into “Americans,” Canadians “genuinely value and seek to live with diversity.” Differences between the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church were underscored, including the area of Christology. “We sensed that in Canada there was a general consensus on the nature of orthodoxy, with fewer extreme views of the kind that have led to some of the aberrations south of the border,” the report said. “Even the bishops who were strongly progressive in the matter of same-sex blessings insisted that they stood firmly within the creedal mainstream.” This, the report said, is “an encouraging sign that it allows for a more obviously Christ-centred approach to issues that currently divide the Communion, to say nothing of the wider church.”

Now read this article about the skills of Bishop Bennetts as a “bridge-builder”, Conflict resolution expert sent to observe at HOB.

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Friday, 11 December 2009

Los Angeles - Friday reports

Pat Ashworth reported it all for the Church Times in Election of lesbian bishop stirs up controversy.

Riazat Butt reports in the Guardian that Archbishop Rowan Williams urged to retract comments on election of lesbian bishop.

Jeanne Carstensen at Religion Dispatches has Election of New Lesbian Bishop Reveals Tensions in Anglican World.

Daniel Burke at Religion News Service has Lesbian Bishop Aware but Undaunted by Controversy.

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Thursday, 10 December 2009

Los Angeles - Thursday report

PBS has Bishop Jon Bruno: “No Barriers” for Gay and Lesbian Episcopalians.

There is a Southern California Public Radio interview at The highest stained glass ceiling.

Ruth Gledhill has Canon Mary Glasspool: time for Church to open door to rights for gays in The Times and Lesbian bishop pledges gracious non-restraint on her blog.

On the other hand, there is this editorial in the Living Church Think, and Act, Globally.

And this Statement from the Communion Partners Clergy Steering Committee on the Bishop-Suffragan Election in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

And also A Statement by the Bishop of Texas on recent Anglican Events.

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Wednesday, 9 December 2009

LA and the Archbishop - Wednesday report

Bishop Alan Wilson wrote a further post, this one is titled Two ways to win an argument….

Richard Morrison in The Times wrote Nothing but sex please, we’re vicars…

Savi Hensman wrote for Ekklesia Liberating the Anglican understanding of sexuality.

The New York Times published an Associated Press report headlined Episcopal Lesbian Bishop Calls Election Liberating.

The Baltimore Sun published a report headlined Lesbian bishop-elect finds support as well as controversy and the transcript of the interview is at Glasspool: ‘I anticipated some kind of reaction’…

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Inclusive Church letter on Los Angeles

Open letter to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and the Bishop of Los Angeles

Dear Bishop Katharine and Bishop Jon,

We congratulate you and the people of the Episcopal Church on the electoral process which has led to the election of the Revd Canon Diane Jardine Bruce and the Revd Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool as Suffragan Bishops of the Diocese of Los Angeles. We are aware that the process was carried out with great care and prayer, as will the decisions of Bishops and Standing Committees who consider whether to confirm the elections. We wish the elected candidates all joy in their ministries and assure them of our prayers.

The Anglican and Episcopalian tradition is, at its best, one which celebrates the breadth of human experience and welcomes the many ways in which we, as Christians, try to live out our vocations under God. We are therefore deeply sorry that the reaction from the Church of England to the election of Mary Glasspool has been at best grudging and at worst actively negative.

While it gives us no pleasure to dissociate ourselves from the sentiments expressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose wisdom in so many areas we deeply respect, we greatly regret the tone and content of his response, particularly in the context of his failure to make any comment on the seriously oppressive legislation being proposed in Uganda.

We wish you to know that there are a great many within the Church of England who like us are unequivocally supportive of TEC in being open to the election of bishops without regard to gender, race and sexuality. We pray that the Communion at large will grow in confidence and maturity, so that it can learn to celebrate both those things which hold us together and those things over which we disagree. In that context we greatly welcome the Theological Round Table recently announced by the Churches in India.

We urge you and your fellow Bishops and diocesan Standing Committees therefore not to be persuaded by responses from outside your province in considering the request to confirm these elections, and urge those who disagree to approach the Episcopal Church with a renewed and reinvigorated sense of trust in the actions of the Holy Spirit. As a Communion we are called to be an example to other Christians and those who have no beliefIn a diverse and global world threatened by much, it is time now to move on from these questions which divide us and focus on responding to the huge challenges we face together.

Yours sincerely

Giles Goddard
Chair,
Inclusive Church

PDF version

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Tuesday, 8 December 2009

LA and the Archbishop - Tuesday report

Updated

Stuff on this just keeps on coming in.

ENS Los Angeles women bishops’ elections create ‘bit of a wave’; tsunami of reaction, expectations

Bishop Alan Wilson What hath Kampala to do with LA?

Living Church Canon Glasspool’s Election Draws Pointed Responses

Kampala Monitor Orombi angry over new lesbian bishop

Ruth Gledhill has written Friend of Dr Rowan Williams feels ‘betrayed’ by his stance on gays.

The subject of that interview, Colin Coward, has commented in Betrayed by the Church’s stance on gays.

Earlier posts by Colin are here, and also here.

Symon Hill has written Questions for Ruth Gledhill and Rowan Williams.

And now, Ruth Gledhill has blogged Out and Angry: Colin Coward on being gay priest in today’s church.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 8 December 2009 at 3:30pm GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Monday, 7 December 2009

Chicago Consultation to Archbishop

The Chicago Consultation has issued this press release:

Chicago Consultation Asks Archbishop to Reconsider Statement and Silence

“For weeks the Archbishop of Canterbury has been silent as the Ugandan legislature considers making homosexuality a crime punishable by death. Lambeth Palace has let it be known that it was working behind the scenes to influence the situation because public confrontation would be counterproductive and disrespectful. Yet the election of the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, a remarkably qualified gay woman as a suffragan bishop of Los Angeles, incited the Archbishop’s immediate statement of alarm, implying there would be grave consequences unless bishops and standing committees in the Episcopal Church refused to consent to her election.

“Canon Glasspool is a qualified, respected and beloved servant of God whom the Diocese of Los Angeles has discerned has the gifts of the Spirit to help lead their ministry. She is no threat to the work of God or to Jesus’ commandment that we love our neighbor as ourselves. On the other hand, executing gay people and creating a state system of oppression is a gross violation of the spirit of the one who welcomed the outcast to his table. We are as perplexed by the Archbishop’s speedy condemnation of the former as we are by his prolonged silence of the latter.

“We believe that honoring the relationships and ministries of gay and lesbian Christians, is, in the end, the only way in which the Anglican Communion can be faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We hope that when the Archbishop realizes the damage he has done to the Communion’s ministry among gay and lesbian Christians and those who seek justice for them, he will reconsider both the words he has spoken and the words he has not.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 7 December 2009 at 9:57pm GMT | Comments (18) | TrackBack
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commentary on the Los Angeles election

Savi Hensman has written A bishop Anglicans can live with.

Riazat Butt has written Election of lesbian bishop divides Anglican community.

Paul Vallely has written Rowan Williams cannot now prevent an Anglican schism.

Scott Gunn has written Of “bonds of affection” and misplaced anxiety

Susan Russell has written Advent is for lighting candles, not for fanning flames.

Tobias Haller has written Episcopalections.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 7 December 2009 at 3:02pm GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Glasspool's election is good news

George Pitcher writes at the Telegraph A lesbian bishop need not mean Anglican handbags at dawn, his concluding paragraphs are:

…What the American Episcopal direction really means is that we’re moving towards a schism that looks like the Mercedes-Benz logo. In one segment we have the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions; in another, the conservative and orthodox Anglicans and, in the third, those who push the Reformist tradition alongside Bishops Glasspool and Robinson.

To those who say this last category is taking the Church to hell in a handcart, or possibly a handbag, I would say this: when Anglicans started to ordain women priests in the Nineties, female bishops became a logical and rational extension of that Reformist tradition. As for lesbians, the Bible has even less to say about them than it does about homosexuals. It may very well be that Queen Victoria, for whom lesbianism is said to have been removed from the Labouchere Amendment in 1865 when homosexual acts were outlawed because she simply didn’t believe they existed, was being more obedient than she knew to her scripture study.

But, ultimately, what Bishop Glasspool shows us is a God who is infinitely more interested in love than in sex. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth for his human creatures.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 7 December 2009 at 9:05am GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
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Sunday, 6 December 2009

Los Angeles and the Archbishop: more articles

Daily Mail Steve Doughty Archbishop of Canterbury calls on Americans to block lesbian bishop’s appointment

Telegraph Tom Leonard Archbishop of Canterbury concerned over lesbian US bishop

Press Association Rethink urged on gay bishop role

Ekklesia Williams questions lesbian bishop’s appointment - but stays silent on Uganda

And at Cif belief Andrew Brown in a piece mainly concerned with Uganda, titled Rowan Williams’ choice concludes with these paragraphs:

What makes his difficulty darkly comic rather than tragic is the speed with which he has reacted to the election of a lesbian assistant bishop in Los Angeles. A statement came out of his office less than 12 hours later urging the Americans not to proceed.

Consider the case of two Anglicans of the same gender who love one another. If they are in the USA, the Anglican church will marry them and may elect one of them to office. If they are in Uganda, the Anglican church will have try to have them jailed for life, and ensure that any priest who did not report them to the authorities within 24 hours would be jailed for three years; anyone who spoke out in their defence might be jailed for seven.

Under Williams, the church that marries two women who love each other is to be thrown out of the Anglican Communion. The church that would jail them both for life, and would revile and persecute their defenders, stays snugly in his bosom. Not even the Archbishop’s remarkable gift for obfuscation can conceal these facts forever.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 6 December 2009 at 11:48pm GMT | Comments (40) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 5 December 2009

Los Angeles elects two suffragans

Updated Sunday morning

The Diocese of Los Angeles has elected two women as suffragan bishop. They are:

This election is attracting more attention than most suffragan bishoprics do, because of Canon Glasspool’s status as “openly gay partnered”.

Diocesan press releases:
L.A. diocese elects Diane Bruce as bishop suffragan
L.A. Episcopal diocese elects Glasspool as bishop suffragan

First media reports:

Associated Press Lesbian Episcopal priest elected LA assist. bishop

AP via San Francisco Chronicle Christopher Weber and Rachel Zoll 2nd gay bishop for Episcopal Church, Anglicans

Los Angeles Times Larry Stammer Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles elects openly gay bishop and later Newly elected gay Episcopal bishop: Excited about church’s future and later still, L.A. Episcopal Diocese elects openly gay bishop by Larry Stammer and Paul Pringle

Press-Enterprise Lesbian priest from Maryland elected Episcopal bishop at Riverside meeting by Larry Olson

Baltimore Sun Md. priest becomes first lesbian Episcopal bishop

BBC US Episcopal Church elects second gay bishop headline changed to Rift flares after US Episcopal Church elects gay bishop after a write-through

Mail on Sunday Jonathan Petre Fury as lesbian is chosen by Anglican Church to be a bishop

Press Association Lesbian elected US Anglican bishop

ENS news reports:
Los Angeles diocese elects Diane Jardine Bruce as first woman bishop suffragan
Los Angeles diocese elects openly gay bishop suffragan: Mary Douglas Glasspool

Press Releases:
Integrity
Chicago Consultation

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Thursday, 29 October 2009

Pittsburgh: a name change and an appeal

Updated again Friday evening

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Anglicans appeal ruling on property division.

A group of 55 congregations that split last year from the Episcopal Church announced today that they will appeal a court ruling that awarded all centrally held diocesan assets to the 27 congregations that remained in the Episcopal Church.

“We believe we have to make this stand,” said the Rev. Jonathan Millard, rector of Church of the Ascension in Oakland and chair of the Alliance for an Anglican Future.

The group also announced that it was changing its name to The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. It was formally known as the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican). The group they split from is known as the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States…

The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh published a press release ANGLICAN DIOCESE OF PITTSBURGH RESPONDS TO COURT RULING at a new website, http://pittsburghanglican.org although the group’s website at http://www.pitanglican.org remains.

Today, we are pleased to introduce ourselves as The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. Previously known as The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, our diocese is comprised of fifty-five congregations; 51 local congregations with a very long record of service to Pittsburgh area communities (in eleven southwestern Pennsylvania counties), and 4 congregations beyond the immediate region. We were the majority (67%) on the vote to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and are the majority now: 55 Anglican Church congregations as compared to 27 Episcopal Church congregations.

Our purpose in asking you here today is to announce our intention to appeal the recent ruling of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. The court ruled that a minority of our former parishes, which now claim to be a diocese affiliated with the Episcopal Church, shall hold and administer all diocesan assets. The appeal will be filed once the court issues a final directing the transfer of all diocesan property to this minority group…

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has issued a press release, Statement Concerning Announced Intent to Appeal Ruling in Diocesan Assets Case.

We are disappointed that the former leaders of this diocese, who now call themselves the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, have decided to appeal Judge Joseph James’ October 6, 2009, ruling that a 2005 settlement agreement prevents those former leaders from continuing to hold and administer the diocesan assets.

Judge James found that the 2005 Stipulation and Order – that both sides agreed to before those former leaders left the Episcopal Church – clearly and unambiguously requires that the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States be the rightful trustee of those assets.

We stand ready to defend our position and the Court’s ruling on appeal. At the same time, we will continue to cooperate in the orderly transition of diocesan property, and when the time is right, to engage in a dialogue on other issues between us that still need to be resolved.

Updates

ENS has a lengthy report, reviewing the background, see PITTSBURGH: Group plans to appeal diocesan property ruling by Mary Frances Schjonberg.

The Living Church has a report by Doug LeBlanc Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh to Leave Longtime Office.

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Monday, 12 October 2009

South Carolina proposals get press attention

It has been several months since we reported on South Carolina bishop makes proposals.

The five proposed resolutions to be voted on at the Special Convention, October 24, are now online here (PDF).

There has been extensive coverage in the local press namely the Charleston Post & Courier recently:

It’s hard to imagine an English diocesan synod meeting getting this kind of space in the local paper!

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Friday, 9 October 2009

American Exec Council on the Covenant draft

ENS reports Executive Council notes concern with covenant’s disciplinary section.

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council said October 8 that the majority of the General Convention deputations and individual deputies that expressed an opinion do not support the disciplinary process outlined in the latest draft of a proposed Anglican covenant.

The comment came in the council’s official response to the Ridley Cambridge Draft, which the members said addresses “some of the most difficult matters and substance relating to such a covenant.”

The Anglican Communion’s provinces were asked for specific comments on the draft’s Section Four, which contains a dispute-resolution process…

The Executive Council said that the comments it received on Section Four were “so interwoven” with comments on the covenant as a whole that “separating the two is difficult.”

“The majority of deputations and individual deputies that responded are not convinced that the covenant in its current form will bring about deeper communion,” the council said. “Several stated that the overall idea of a covenant is ‘un-Anglican.’ One went as far as to say that the ‘document incorporates anxiety.’”

On the other hand, the council noted, another deputy called the covenant “a presentation of the Christian community as a dynamic spiritual body in which God-given freedom is inextricably bound up with God-given accountability.”

…The council also said that it was “grateful” for the opportunity given to provinces to consider the Ridley Cambridge Draft “in the hopes of realizing a fully matured Anglican covenant.” It also pledged that its ongoing participation in the covenant development process would be entrusted “to the leading of the Holy Spirit” and that it “look[s] forward to the next three years as we grow more deeply into our common life in the Anglican Communion.”

The actual text of the response, linked in the above report as a Word file, can be read in html here.

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Wednesday, 7 October 2009

US Supreme Court declines to review California property decision

The quote below from Episcopal Life sums it up.

Episcopal Life Online U.S. Supreme Court declines to review California property decision

The U.S. Supreme Court October 5 refused to grant a petition of review from St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach, which broke away from the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Times U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear Episcopal property case

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to intercede in a long-running property dispute pitting the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the national Episcopal Church against a breakaway local congregation, St. James Anglican Church of Newport Beach.

Associated Press Court refuses to get involved in church dispute

Long Beach Press-Telegram Supreme Court won’t yet get involved in Episcopalian church dispute

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Pittsburgh court decision

Updated again Monday morning

There has been a court decision in favour of the US Episcopal Church in its property dispute with Bishop Bob Duncan in Pittsburgh.

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh - of The Episcopal Church in the United States of America reports Judge Awards Control of Assets to Diocese.

A judge has agreed with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh that it should have control of assets still held by former diocesan leaders.

In a decision issued October 6, Judge Joseph James of the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County ruled that an existing court-approved agreement is “clear and unambiguous” in requiring that diocesan property must remain with a diocese that is part of the Episcopal Church of the United States.

The judge further ruled the former diocesan leaders are “in violation [of that agreement] and cannot continue to be the trustee” of the property.

“The property is to be held or administered by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States,” Judge James wrote.

Episcopal Café has Pro-TEC ruling in Pittsburgh case.

There is a copy of the court ruling here. The court’s decision is, of course, subject to appeal.

Updates

There is a response to this decision, see Archbishop Duncan Issues Pastoral Letter.

Another copy of the decision, which is a searchable PDF, is available here.

In another, unrelated, development, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has issued this press release: Diocese To Release Inactive Clergy. The letter sent to clergy can be read here.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has issued a Statement Concerning the Court Ruling of October 6, 2009 explaining what this means for parish property.

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Wednesday, 30 September 2009

three dioceses learning together

The Living Church ran an article at the beginning of last week which reported Trio of Bishops Seek to Strengthen Communion Ties.

The initial meeting between Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of the Diocese of El Camino Real and Bishop Michael Perham of Gloucester, England, at the 2008 Lambeth Conference was an auspicious one. When a protester jumped up and called Bishop Gray-Reeves “a whore of the church,” Bishop Perham stepped in to help his new American acquaintance around the protesters and on to safety.

This frightening encounter brought together two parts of what has become a trio of bishops — the third is Bishop Gerard Mpango of the Western Tanganyika Diocese in Tanzania — who have linked up as companion dioceses. The combination of American, British and African dioceses is intentional. The three locations encompass three regions of discontent in the Anglican Communion. By meeting, talking and working together, the three bishops hope to show that people of different cultures, and these three cultures in particular, can maintain civil relations and look for answers to divisive issues…

A week later, ENS has also published an article on the same topic, EL CAMINO REAL: Visit from African, English bishops deepens partnerships.

Three bishops who met by chance during last year’s Lambeth Conference spent a week in California recently, planning very intentional, international ministry together.

At first glance their dioceses — Western Tanganyika, Tanzania; Gloucester, England; and El Camino Real, California — couldn’t have seemed more different.

And then each decided to take a closer look.

“We have more in common than might first appear,” said Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real, who hosted Bishop Gerard Mpango of Western Tanganyika and Bishop Michael Perham of Gloucester September 20-25 in the Central California diocese…

You can find reports and pictures of the most recent event over here.

Diocese of Gloucester and read more about their international links here

Diocese of El Camino Real and their companion dioceses page

Diocese of Western Tanganyika (This is a page from the Tanzania provincial website, no diocesan website yet.)

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Monday, 28 September 2009

comment on the Pawleys Island case

Lionel Deimel has published some comments written by a Pittsburgh lawyer, Ken Stiles.
See A Perspective on the Pawleys Island Case.

Anglican Centrist has published comments by another lawyer, Eric Von Salzen.
All Saints Church Waccamaw – Abuses of the Statute of Uses?

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Tuesday, 22 September 2009

news from South Carolina

Updated yet again Wednesday evening

A very long-running lawsuit in South Carolina has reached a decision. This one goes back to 2000 when the Diocese of South Carolina first tried to record its interest in the parish property of All Saints, Pawleys Island. That parish decided in October 2003 that it wished to leave the Diocese of South Carolina and affiliate with what is now the Anglican Mission in the Americas.

At the time of writing, there is still no report of this decision on any of the websites linked above.

The actual decision is a PDF file, available here. (I have been unable to reach this site, but was kindly sent a copy of the file.)

Episcopal Café has reported it with the headline Ruling on Pawleys Island: TEC and DioSC lose, and has also published a very helpful further article, Putting the South Carolina decision into perspective which includes comments made at the TitusOneNine blog.

Late last week the Supreme Court of South Carolina issued a ruling in the ongoing legal battle between the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Chuck Murphy (of the Anglican Mission in America) and Vestry of All Saint’s, Pawley’s Island. The property dispute stems from the decision of then Rector Murphy and the Vestry to leave the Episcopal Church and become part of the AMiA (connected to the Anglican Province of Rwanda and now associate with the ACNA).

The Supreme Court ruled that the Dennis Canon, which says that diocesan and parish property are all held in trust for the Episcopal Church is not valid in this case.

There are a couple of reasons that this decision is unique. First, the parish in question, like a few others on the East Coast, predates the foundation of the Episcopal Church in 1789 so it has been argued that the Episcopal Church is more a creation of the parish than the parish of the Episcopal Church.

Second, the Supreme Court has decided to decide based primarily on neutral principles of law rather than by being guided by deference to denominations being allowed to create their own internal governance structures…

The Charleston Post and Courier reports the story: see Court rules in favor of Pawleys Is. congregation by Dave Munday.

A Pawleys Island congregation, embroiled in litigation ever since it left the Episcopal Church in 2004, has won a major court battle over land and assets that could have wide implications for others looking to break away.

The S.C. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Friday that All Saints Church at Pawleys Island belonged to the independent corporation All Saints Parish, Waccamaw Inc. and not to the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, which had staked a claim to the property.

“When a vestry of a parish in the diocese votes to take action to leave the church, they cannot then hold an office as a vestry of the church from which they have voted to depart,” wrote then-Bishop Edward L. Salmon Jr. soon after All Saints’ vestry voted to break its ties with the Episcopal Church and modify its 1902 parish charter.

But last week, the state’s highest court repudiated the diocese’s claims, overturning an earlier Circuit Court verdict.

The court rejected the Episcopal Church’s claim that “all real and personal property” used by a congregation, mission or parish “is held in trust for this church.” That rule, codified in 1979 and called the Dennis Canon, makes it impermissible for congregations to assume ownership of church property. The Episcopal Church long has argued that when individuals choose to leave the church, dioceses and parishes remain intact and available to others who choose to remain, even if they constitute a minority of the congregation…

Note that the quote in this article originally attributed to Kendall Harmon has now been corrected to show that it comes from this article by A.S. Haley.

And the Georgetown Times has Historic church property goes to Anglican Mission.

The Living Church has S.C. Decision Could Have Far-Reaching Impact.

Still no report on the websites of the parish, the diocese, or AMiA. However, Episcopal News Service now has a report: SOUTH CAROLINA: State Supreme Court rules in long-running Pawley’s Island case by Mary Frances Schjonberg:

The South Carolina Supreme Court has overturned a lower court decision in favor of the minority of the members of the parish of All Saints, Waccamaw in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina who remained loyal to the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina.

The Supreme Court said in its September 18 opinion that the majority of the parish members could retain the parish’s property after they left the Episcopal Church and the diocese in 2003 to affiliate with the breakaway Anglican Mission in America (AMiA).

A statement issued by the Presiding Bishop’s office said that the opinion was “particularly disappointing in the light of the long struggle in which the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina have worked cooperatively to preserve the property of this parish for the mission of the church and the diocese.”

“Time has not permitted a careful analysis of the opinion or of the options that confront the church and the diocese at this point,” the statement said.

South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence said that “there’s a long wisdom of tradition in the scriptures, and counsel in the book of Ecclesiastes that there is a time to keep silent and a time to speak, and as picked up in the letter of James, where James says, ‘Know this my beloved brothers and sisters, let everyone be quick to hear and slow to speak.’ I believe this is such a time.”

Religious Intelligence US dioceses ‘free to secede’ by George Conger

he Sept 18 decision in the case of In Re: All Saints Parish, Waccamaw ends nine years of litigation over the mother church of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA), and is the second major legal defeat for the Episcopal Church in a week.

While the ruling only affects the state of South Carolina, the legal analysis the court used in rejecting the ‘Dennis Canon’ —- the 1979 property canon that states that parish property is held in trust by congregations for the diocese and national church —- will likely have an unfavourable impact upon the dozens of other pending parish property suits prosecuted by the Episcopal Church across the nation…

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Friday, 18 September 2009

Fort Worth legal ruling

There are conflicting reports on this from either side in the dispute over who is the “real” diocese.

Living Church reports Both Sides Debate Significance of Fort Worth Ruling

Episcopal News Service reports FORT WORTH: Continuing diocese has right to sue breakaway group, judge rules.

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has published a PDF of the actual ruling made by the judge, see here and issued these two statements:

What the legal language of the order means

What the legal language of the order (click here to read it and note that the hand-written portions of the order are in the judge’s own hand) means is this: essentially the court refused to strike the pleadings i.e. it ruled that the reorganized Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the Corporation had the right to continue to sue the defendants and establish our right to seek declarative judgment. The defendants lost on their main argument that we should not be able to sue the defendants because they are the rightful diocese. This was the main objective of former Bishop Iker’s attorneys, and they did not achieve it. The court left that determination for a later hearing.

The order also barred our attorneys from appearing on this suit as attorneys for the entities associated with Jack Iker. Our attorneys have, of course, never asserted that.

As is clear in the order, no other rulings were made. The judge did make comments and he did ask questions, but he made no other rulings.

We now await the October 15 hearing.

Statement on hearing that concluded on September 16

The Hon. John Chupp, judge of the 141st District Court of Tarrant County, Texas today ruled that attorney Jon Nelson and Chancellor Kathleen Wells are not authorized to represent the diocese or the corporation that are associated with Jack L. Iker. These attorneys have never claimed to do so. The judge denied the motion by Bp. Iker’s attorneys to remove the diocese and the corporation from the lawsuit filed April 14, 2009.

While the judge did make some off hand remarks in court and asked many questions, he made no other rulings.

A hearing is set for Oct. 15 on the motion for partial summary judgment in this same court.

The Southern Cone diocese has published a statement as a PDF:

Court Issues Decision on Rule 12 Motion

FORT WORTH, Texas – In a hearing today in the141st District Court, Judge John Chupp granted the Diocese partial relief under Rule 12 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. He ruled that attorneys Jonathan Nelson and Kathleen Wells do not represent the diocese or the corporation which have realigned under the Province of the Southern Cone. He denied a second aspect of Rule 12 relief which would have removed the plaintiffs’ diocese and corporation from the lawsuit filed April 14, 2009.

The judge also ruled that neither the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church nor the Constitution and Canons of this diocese prohibit withdrawal from TEC and realignment under another province. Further, he found that the Diocese had done so at its November 2008 annual convention, saying that “they [the members] took the diocese with them.” The action of the November convention was not, he said, ultra vires and void, as the suit’s plaintiffs have argued. He declared, too, that the Diocese had taken its property with it in realignment. He said he did not consider any court ruling concerning a realigning parish to be applicable in the present case, and he said that he considered it “self-serving on [the part of TEC] to say that [Bishop Iker] abandoned his job.”

The hearing on the Rule 12 motion began Wednesday, Sept. 9. At that time, the judge denied a motion for continuance filed by Nelson and Wells. Each party filed a supplemental written statement in the period between the first and second portions of the hearing. The statement submitted by attorney Shelby Sharpe is available on the diocesan Web site.

Commenting on today’s ruling, Bishop Iker said, “We are pleased that Judge Chupp has recognized the legitimacy of the vote of our Diocesan Convention in November 2008 to withdraw from the General Convention of The Episcopal Church and has ruled that we had the legal right to amend our Constitution in order to do so. This a positive step in support of the position we have taken. We will continue to keep our concerns before the Lord in prayer.”

The date for a further hearing to take up the remaining Motion for Leave to File a Third-Party Petition will be set shortly. A date of October 15 has been set to hear the plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgement.

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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

support for the seven bishops

As happened previously with a Communion Bishops statement, a number of priests who are affiliated with Communion Partners have endorsed it. In this case, they pledged to fulfill the “non-episcopal requests” made by those bishops who met with the Archbishop of Canterbury on Sept. 1.

The Living Church reports that the 74 priests lead parishes with a collective baptized membership of 60,000.

See Communion Partner Rectors Endorse Bishops In Meeting With Archbishop of Canterbury

The undersigned Communion Partner Rectors [and] associate Clergy commend and support the initiative taken by the Communion Partner bishops in meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury on September 1, 2009 in order to discuss and clarify the present circumstances of The Episcopal Church, as well as his understanding of what entities might be eligible to sign and adopt the Anglican Communion Covenant.

We echo the commitment of the bishops “to remain constituent members of both the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church.” Our desire is also to use the present situation as an opportunity to make manifest our commitment to becoming “a part of a ‘Covenanted’ global Anglican body in communion with the See of Canterbury.”

In support of the bishops, we commit ourselves to the five non-episcopal requests listed in their report of September 7, 2009…

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Wednesday, 9 September 2009

more writing about the covenant

Updated again Thursday evening

Not content with their recent magnum opus the Anglican Communion Institute has published another (shorter) essay, titled Communion Partner Dioceses and The Anglican Covenant.

We address below issues related to the capacity of CP dioceses to sign the Anglican Covenant. We consider the text of Section 4 of the Ridley Cambridge draft, ACC Resolution 14.11, the unique polity of TEC and the ACC constitution and membership schedule. Although the final wording of Section 4 has not yet been agreed, the principles discussed below, particularly the constitutional integrity of member churches, are fundamental to Anglicanism and not in dispute…

Pluralist has already responded.

Updates Mark Harris has now also responded with Why bother, #1

Why bother with the in house realignment crowd (the Communion Partners Bishops, the Anglican Communion Institute, the Covenant-Communion writers.) The logic chopping is so bad in some of their essays that the noise of it turns the brain to Wheatena.

Here is example #1…

And later, with Why bother, #2

The Covenant-Communion article, subject of my first “Why bother?” post, was published just the day after the seven bishops who visited with the Archbishop of Canterbury published their report.

The “realignment-from-within” Bishops, the RFW Bishops aka the Communion Bishops, have produced a somewhat odd report, as if jet lag had not yet left them able to work at full speed…

Mark Harris has also written The Anglican Covenant: A tempting but wormy apple.

The notion of an Anglican Covenant is as tempting for some as the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The promise is that the Anglican Covenant would make it clear to ourselves and to all the world just who we were and what we stood for and how we would comport ourselves as a Christian fellowship. Many Anglicans can just taste it! A sense of self esteem when we are compared to other world wide churches and a sense of religious order when we look at our own community. The Anglican Covenant would make us one of, you know, THEM, world wide Churches that have real apostolic heft, with bishops and all.

The Anglican Covenant promised a lot, but preliminary taste tests seem to indicate that the fruit is wormy. The apple, it seems, is a bit rotten in places…

Further criticism of the earlier ACI document comes from Tobias Haller who has written The Heterosectual Communion.

The soi-disant Anglican Communion Institute has a knack for inverting the old Latin tag, “the mountains labored and bore a mouse.” In this case the gang of three, augmented by an attorney and a bishop, have given birth to a mountain of verbiage which in the long run, fundamentally flawed as it is, amounts to less than a mole-hill…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 9 September 2009 at 11:22pm BST | Comments (4) | TrackBack
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Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Statement from "Communion Partner" bishops

Updated Wednesday morning

The seven “Communion Partner” American bishops who recently visited Lambeth Palace have issued a statement.

The full text of their statement was first published at Cotton Country Anglican and is reproduced here below the fold.

It includes a recommendation to urge the adoption of the Anglican Covenant by the US General Convention. This would appear to be at odds with the views expressed recently by the ACI and the Bishop of Durham.

ENS now has a comprehensive report by Mary Frances Schjonberg at Seven Episcopal bishops urge covenant endorsement at all church levels.

A Report of the meeting of the Bishops of Albany, Dallas, North Dakota, Northern Indiana, South Carolina, West Texas and Western Louisiana with the Archbishop of Canterbury on September 1, 2009.

As seven representatives of the Communion Partner Bishops, we are grateful to have met with the Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss our concern in light of the recent actions of the General Convention and the subsequent nomination of candidates “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on Communion” (General Convention 2006, B033).

At this meeting we expressed our appreciation for his post-convention reflections, “Communion, Covenant, and our Anglican Future,” and were especially interested in his statement about whether “elements” in Provinces not favorably disposed to adopt the Anglican Covenant “will be free … to adopt the Covenant as a sign of their wish to act in a certain level of mutuality with parts of the communion.”

Given our commitment to remain constituent members of both the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church, we are encouraged by our meeting with the Archbishop. We agree with him that our present situation is “an opportunity for clarity, renewal and deeper relation with one another - and also Our Lord and his Father in the power of the Spirit.” We, too, share a desire to “intensify existing relationships” by becoming part of a “Covenanted” global Anglican body in communion with the See of Canterbury. We also pray and hope that “in spite of the difficulties this may yet be the beginning of a new era of mission and spiritual growth for all who value the Anglican name and heritage.”

We understand the divisions before us, not merely differences of opinion on human sexuality, but also about differing understandings of ecclesiology and questions regarding the independence or interdependence of a global communion of churches in discerning the mind of Christ together. However, we also shared our concern that the actions of General Convention have essentially rejected the teaching of 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 as the mind of the Communion, and raise a serious question whether a Covenant will be adopted by both Houses at General Convention 2012.

At the same time we are mindful that General Convention Resolution D020 “commended the Anglican Covenant proposed in the most recent text of the Covenant Design Group (the “Ridley Cambridge Draft”) and any successive draft to dioceses for study during the coming triennium” and invited dioceses and congregations to “consider the Anglican Covenant proposed draft as a document to inform their understanding of and commitment to our common life in the Anglican Communion.”

Therefore, at this time we make the following requests of Communion minded members of the The Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion:

1. We encourage dioceses, congregations and individuals of The Episcopal Church to pray and work for the adoption of an Anglican Communion Covenant.

2. We encourage dioceses and congregations to study and endorse the Anglican Communion Covenant when it is finally released and to urge its adoption by General Convention, or to endorse the first three sections of the Ridley Cambridge Draft and the Anaheim Statement, and to record such endorsements on the Communion Partners website (www.communionpartners.org).

3. We encourage bishops, priests, deacons and laypersons of The Episcopal Church who support the adoption of the Anglican Communion Covenant to record such endorsement on the Communion Partners website.

4. We encourage dioceses and congregations, in the spirit of GC2009 Resolution D030 [B030], to engage in “companion domestic mission relationships among dioceses and congregations within The Episcopal Church.”

5. We encourage Bishops exercising jurisdiction in The Episcopal Church to call upon us for service in needed cases of Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight.

6. We encourage relationships between Communion Partners and primates, bishops, provinces and dioceses in other parts of the Communion, in order the enhance the ministry we share in the life of the Communion.

7. We invite primates and bishops of the Communion to offer their public support to these efforts.

+Mark J. Lawrence, South Carolina
+Gary R. Lillibridge, West Texas
+Edward S. Little, II, Northern Indiana
+William H. Love, Albany
+D. Bruce MacPherson, Western Louisiana
+Michael G. Smith, North Dakota
+James M. Stanton, Dallas

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 8 September 2009 at 9:47am BST | Comments (21) | TrackBack
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Saturday, 5 September 2009

more legal moves in Fort Worth

The Diocese of Fort Worth has issued this press release:
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth files motion for a partial summary judgment in effort to recover property and assets of the Episcopal Church.

Attorneys for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, and the Episcopal Church have on Sept. 3, 2009 filed a motion for a partial summary judgment in the 141st District Court of Tarrant County, Texas as a step to recover property and assets of the Episcopal Church.

The defendants are former members of the Diocesan Corporation’s board of trustees and the former bishop of the diocese, all of whom have left the Episcopal Church and its Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth but continue to control significant Episcopal Church assets…

Follow the link above to find numerous related legal documents.

Earlier, the diocese had also filed a response to motions filed by attorneys for former bishop Jack L. Iker and former members of the corporation’s board. See this press release of 28 August:
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth responds to motions filed by former leadership.

The following excerpt is interesting:

As do many of those who have left the Episcopal Church, Bishop Iker continues to make inconsistent arguments about the hierarchical nature of the Episcopal Church. Just seven years ago, in 2002, he joined in challenging Bishop Jane Dixon’s authority as a bishop in a dispute in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. Then he represented in a “friend of the court” brief he and former Bishop Duncan authorized to be filed in the U.S. Appellate [Court] that

1. Bishops in the Episcopal Church have limited authority,
2. General Convention leads the church,
3. Dioceses are subordinate to the General Convention,
4. The Episcopal Church is not merely a loose federation of independent dioceses, and
5. That diocesan canons cannot be inconsistent with national Church canons.

Bishop Jane Dixon prevailed, and the court, in their decision, clearly determined that the Episcopal Church was hierarchical.

All these are opposite of the positions he and others take now.

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Thursday, 3 September 2009

news from American dioceses

In Fort Worth, ENS reports Breakaway bishop seeks challenge to authority of Episcopal bishop, others.

Attorneys for Jack Iker have asked a Texas court for permission to challenge the authority of Provisional Bishop Ted Gulick Jr. and the standing committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Iker, who left The Episcopal Church in 2008 but refused to relinquish church property or assets, is responding to a pending lawsuit filed by The Episcopal Church and the continuing Diocese of Fort Worth in April to establish the authority of the new diocesan leadership and to recover diocesan assets, according to chancellor Kathleen Wells…

In Pittsburgh, the Post-Gazette reports Episcopal bishop from Ohio nominated for Pittsburgh job.

Bishop Kenneth L. Price Jr. has been nominated to serve as a full-time interim bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh that remained in the Episcopal Church after last year’s diocesan convention voted to secede…

The diocese that Bishop Price has been nominated to serve has 9,833 members in 28 parishes. It is governed by a standing committee of clergy and laity, with the part-time assistance of retired Bishop Robert H. Johnson, who commutes from North Carolina.

If elected at the Oct. 17 diocesan convention, Bishop Price will be a “provisional” bishop, with the authority of a diocesan bishop. He will serve a few years until a permanent bishop is elected…

See diocesan press release, and three letters.

In San Joaquin ENS reports Breakaway diocese asks California appeals court to review ruling.

Representatives for the breakaway Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin have asked a California appellate court to review a July lower court decision affirming Bishop Jerry Lamb as the leader of the Episcopal Church in the Central California Valley diocese.

Bishop Jerry Lamb of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and the Episcopal Church will have until September 15 to respond to the petition filed by John-David Schofield and others.

Mike Glass, chancellor for the Episcopal diocese, said he had just received notice that the petition had been filed with the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno. After the diocese responds, Schofield will have until October 5 to submit a reply. The court will then decide whether or not to grant the review…

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American bishops visit Lambeth

ENS has a report about the visit of seven bishops of the Episcopal Church USA visiting the Archbishop of Canterbury. Read Canterbury hosts seven Episcopal bishops for private meeting.

The bishops attending the meeting were Mark Lawrence of South Carolina, Gary Lillibridge of West Texas, Edward Little of Northern Indiana, Bill Love of Albany, Michael Smith of North Dakota, James Stanton of Dallas, and Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana.

A spokesperson in the Lambeth Palace press office confirmed that Williams had hosted the seven Episcopal bishops, but said that the meeting was private.

When asked for his reflections on the meeting, MacPherson told ENS that the bishops will have “something forthcoming soon.”

The Living Church reported recently that two additional bishops had signed the Anaheim Statement to which reference is made in the ENS story. See Anaheim Statement Continues to Gain Supporters.

The Rt. Rev. Charles E. Jenkins, III, Bishop of Louisiana, and the Rt. Rev. Harry W. Shipps, retired Bishop of Georgia, have endorsed the letter affirming their loyalty to the Anglican Communion in the wake of the adoption of resolutions C056 and D025 ending the moratoria forbidding the consecration of partnered gay clergy as bishops and the authorization of rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.

However, Bishop Jenkins also was one of the bishops who voted against D025 but in favor of C056. He later said he voted for C056 because his colleagues had responded well to his plea for graciousness. “I felt I was honor-bound to vote for it because these bishops had done what I had asked them to do,” he said. ” I felt that the process was a ray of hope for The Episcopal Church.”

For the earlier list of 34 signatures, see here.

For the text of the statement, see here.

Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina recently made a lengthy address to his diocesan clergy about the stance towards TEC that he believes his diocese should now take. You can read that in full here.

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Sunday, 30 August 2009

Salvation's goal

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wrote an essay at Episcopal Life Online under the title Salvation’s goal: returning all to right relationship.

I always am delighted when people listen to what I say in a sermon or address. Sometimes I am surprised by what they hear.

In my opening address at General Convention, I spoke about the “great Western heresy” of individualism (see the full text here). There have been varied reactions from people who weren’t there, who heard or read an isolated comment without the context. Apparently I wasn’t clear!

Individualism (the understanding that the interests and independence of the individual necessarily trump the interests of others as well as principles of interdependence) is basically unbiblical and unchristian.

The spiritual journey, at least in the Judeo-Christian tradition, is about holy living in community. When Jesus was asked to summarize the Torah, he said, “love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” That means our task is to be in relationship with God and with our neighbors. If salvation is understood only as “getting right with God” without considering “getting right with (all) our neighbors,” then we’ve got a heresy (an unorthodox belief) on our hands…

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Thursday, 13 August 2009

South Carolina bishop makes proposals

The Diocese of South Carolina is in the news.

Associated Press via The Sun News Meeting to mull future of SC Episcopal diocese

Living Church S.C. Bishop Proposes Diocese Withdraw from TEC Governing Bodies

The full text of Bishop Lawrence’s Address to the Clergy, August 13, 2009

A summary of this can be found at Episcopal Café, see Bishop Lawrence speaks.

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Monday, 10 August 2009

TEC and the CofE

Updated

Giles Goddard has written an article at Daily Episcopalian entitled TEC and C of E: the makings of a progressive alliance.

…The big question facing us all is how we respond to the suggestion of a two-track Communion. The feeling within the progressive groups of the Church of England is that such a thing should be resisted, and if the Covenant were to bring this about it, too, should be resisted. However, and this is a new thought for me, there may be another way. The Episcopal Church in Anaheim passed various resolutions which reaffirmed its inclusive polity and brought greater clarity about the way forward TEC may take. In that context, and having passed those resolutions, what is to stop TEC signing the Covenant? We are awaiting a further draft, but unless it contains radical strengthening of any judicial measures, it seems to me that TEC would be able to sign it, as a sign of its mutual commitment and in the context of its present policy of ensuring that it is open to LGBT people both single and in relationships. Result; a Communion strengthened and affirmed in its breadth and diversity and once again bearing a global witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

And for the Church of England? We still have a long way to go. The measures to bring about full recognition of LGBT Christians are still a few years off, and as presently drafted the Covenant might delay those measures even further. Maybe the Church of England shouldn’t sign it. In which case, I suppose, we would be outside the main body while TEC would be inside. Now there’s a thought to conjure with…..

And there is more from Giles here in a report by Riazat Butt for the Guardian headlined Survey set to reveal number of gay clergy in Church of England.

…The Rev Canon Giles Goddard, rector of St Peter’s , Walworth, in London and chair of Inclusive Church, said: “It’s very early days but we need realistic information on how many LGBT clergy there are. It’s about demonstrating to people that we’re here and we need to be respected and recognised. We want to play our full role in the life of the church…

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Friday, 7 August 2009

are war claims justified?

Updated again Monday morning

News coverage of this statement by 13 groups has been interesting.

First was Ruth Gledhill with New push for same-sex marriage, gay ordination in Church of England on her blog and Liberal Anglicans declare war on conservatives in the Church in The TImes .

Then there was Liberals question Archbishop on gay response from Toby Cohen at Religious Intelligence.

This was followed by ‘Not in our name’ pro-gay groups by Pat Ashworth at the Church Times.

Now Jonathan Wynne-Jones on his blog at the Telegraph has written Americans planning to start a civil war in the Church of England.
The Episcopal Café points out in One plus one equals six hundred sixty six, that only one American is identified.
His recent blog posting here is essentially a republication of an earlier article from last November.

Sunday update
Geoffrey Hoare has this further blog entry: The Blogosphere.

Monday update
And Mark Harris has noted what Bishop Anderson of the American Anglican Council said, first here, and then over here. And he also draws attention to the poll Should TEC set up in the UK? at Religious Intelligence.

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Saturday, 1 August 2009

General Convention revisited

Jane Shaw wrote in last week’s Church Times about it. See Mission was behind the US vote.

MANY RESPONSES to last week’s decision by the Episcopal Church’s General Convention to allow (again) the possibility of gay bishops and same-sex blessings, have spoken of schism. Worse, some suggested that the Convention’s decisions were deliberately provocative.

Nothing could be further from the truth. As one of a number of inter­national visitors at the General Con­vention, I witnessed the care and thought with which laity, clergy, and bishops deliberated on these issues. As the dust settles, we can ask more soberly: why did the votes go the way they did?

Meanwhile, from Global South Anglican we have Statement by Province of Southeast Asia Standing Committee.

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Monday, 27 July 2009

Canterbury reflects on General Convention

From Lambeth Palace comes Communion, Covenant and our Anglican Future.

Reflections on the Episcopal Church’s 2009 General Convention from the Archbishop of Canterbury for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion.

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yet more reflections on General Convention

The Bishop of Rochester wrote about it, in the Washington Times, a rather odd place for a CofE bishop to write, you might think. His article is titled Episcopal gay moves risk schism.

(This provoked Adrian Worsfold into a spoof version.)

A much more useful article, by somebody who was actually there, can by found at Anglicans Online. See Pierre Whalon What Didn’t Happen at General Convention 2009—and What Did?

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Saturday, 25 July 2009

more reflections after Gen Con

The Church Times press column this week was written by Rebecca Wilson and is titled Rare moment of cake.

In the news pages, Pat Ashworth summed up developments in US decision triggers postal activity.

Doug LeBlanc wrote for the Living Church that Bishops Discuss Paradoxical Votes on Consecrations, Blessings.

Adrian Worsfold wrote “Rowan Williams’s game is up” for Episcopal Café.

The Anglican Communion Institute wrote Resolutions and the Windsor Moratoria.

Religion Dispatches published Episcopal Church Walks with American Clergy on Gay and Lesbian Equality.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 25 July 2009 at 9:26am BST | Comments (22) | TrackBack
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court ruling for San Joaquin

The Diocese of San Joaquin has reported Court Determines that Bishop Lamb is the Bishop of the Diocese.

On July 23, 2009, the Diocese received an order issued by the Superior Court of Fresno County, California, sustaining the position of the Church and the Diocese that the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb is the Bishop of the Diocese and the officeholder of the Diocesan corporations, and that former Bishop John-David Schofield is no longer the Bishop and has no claim to any of the corporate or ecclesiastical offices of the Diocese…

The Court Order is here as a PDF file.

The Diocese of Fort Worth has also reported this case, and in greater detail, see Superior Court of California grants summary adjudication to the continuing Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

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Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Presiding Bishop writes to TEC

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued a letter to the church about General Convention, which was held July 8-17 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California.

The full text is available here, and is also below the fold.

My brothers and sisters in Christ:

The 76th General Convention is now history, though it will likely take some time before we are all reasonably clear about what the results are.

We gathered in Anaheim, as guests of the Diocese of Los Angeles, for eleven full days of worship, learning, and policy-making. The worship was stunning visually, musically, and liturgically, with provocative preaching and lively singing.

Our learning included training in Public Narrative, as well as news about the emergent church, in the LA Night presentation.

We welcomed a number of visitors from other parts of the Anglican Communion, including 15 of the primates (archbishops or presiding bishops), other bishops, clergy, and laity.

You can see and hear all this and more at the Media Hub: http://gchub.episcopalchurch.org/

The budget adopted represents a significant curtailment of church-wide ministry efforts, in recognition of the economic realities of many dioceses and church endowments, which will result in the loss of a number of Church Center staff who have given long and laudable service. Yet we will continue to serve God’s mission, throughout The Episcopal Church and beyond. This budget expects that more mission work will continue or begin to take place at diocesan or congregational levels. Religious pilgrims, from the Israelites in the desert to Episcopalians in Alaska or Haiti, have always learned that times of leanness are opportunities for strengthened faith and creativity.

As a Church, we have deepened our commitments to mission and ministry with “the least of these” (Matthew 25). We included a budgetary commitment of 0.7% to the Millennium Development Goals, through the NetsforLife® program partnership of Episcopal Relief & Development. That is in addition to approximately 15% of the budget already committed to international development work.

We have committed to a domestic poverty initiative, meant to explore coherent and constructive responses to some of the worst poverty statistics in the Americas: Native American reservations and indigenous communities.

Justice is the goal, as we revised our canons (church rules) having to do with clergy discipline, both as an act of solidarity with those who may suffer at the hands of clergy and an act of pastoral concern for clergy charged with misconduct.

The General Convention adopted a health plan to serve all clergy and lay employees, which is expected to be a cost-savings across the whole of the United States portion of the Church. Work continues to ensure adequate health coverage in the non-U.S. parts of this Church. The Convention also mandated pension coverage for lay employees.

Liturgical additions were also included in the Convention’s work, from more saints on the calendar to prayers around reproductive loss.

What captured the headlines across the secular media, however, had to do with two resolutions, the consequences of which were often misinterpreted or exaggerated. One, identified as D025, is titled “Anglican Communion: Commitment and Witness to Anglican Communion.” It

  • reaffirms our commitment to and desire to pursue mission with the Anglican Communion;
  • reiterates our commitment to Listening Process urged by Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988, and 1998;
  • notes that our own participation in the listening process led General Convention in 2000 to “recognize that the baptized membership of The Episcopal Church includes same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships ‘characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God’”;
  • recognizes that ministry, both lay and ordained is being exercised by such persons in response to God’s call;
  • notes that the call to ordained ministry is God’s call, is a mystery, and that the Church participates in that mystery through the process of discernment;
  • acknowledges that the members of The Episcopal Church, and of the Anglican Communion, are not of one mind, and that faithful Christians disagree about some of these matters.

The other resolution that received a lot of press is C056, titled “Liturgies for Blessings.” The text adopted was a substitute for the original, yet the title remains unchanged. It

  • acknowledges changing circumstances in the U.S. and elsewhere, in that civil jurisdictions in some places permit marriage, civil unions, and/or domestic partnerships involving same-sex couples, that call for a pastoral response from this Church;
  • asks the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, and the House of Bishops, to collect and develop theological and liturgical resources for such pastoral response, and report to the next General Convention;
  • asks those bodies to invite comment and participation from other parts of this Church and the Anglican Communion;
  • notes that bishops may provide generous pastoral responses to the needs of members of this Church;
  • asks the Convention to honor the theological diversity of this Church in regard to matters of human sexuality.

The full text of both resolutions is available here: http://gc2009.org/ViewLegislation. I urge you to read them for yourself. Some have insisted that these resolutions repudiate our relationships with other members of the Anglican Communion. My sense is that we have been very clear that we value our relationships within and around the Communion, and seek to deepen them. My sense as well is that we cannot do that without being honest about who and where we are. We are obviously not of one mind, and likely will not be until Jesus returns in all his glory. We are called by God to continue to wrestle with the circumstances in which we live and move and have our being, and to do it as carefully and faithfully as we are able, in companionship with those who disagree vehemently and agree wholeheartedly. It is only in that wrestling that we, like Jacob, will begin to discern the leading of the Spirit and the blessing of relationship with God.

Above all else, this Convention claimed God’s mission as the heartbeat of The Episcopal Church. I encourage every member of this Church to enter into conversation in your own congregation or diocese about God’s mission, and where you and your faith community are being invited to enter more deeply into caring for your neighbors, the “least of these” whom Jesus befriends.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

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Archbishop writes to the Communion

Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America has written An Open Letter to the Anglican Communion (PDF).

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) has issued a press release: Archbishop Duncan Writes Open Letter to Anglican Communion.

The letter is also to be found on the site of the Anglican Church in North America.

Or, see below the fold.

22nd July, A.D. 2009
Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

Two Cities: One Choice
An Open Letter to the Anglican Communion

Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There are times in the history of God’s people when the prevailing values and behaviors of those then in control of rival cities symbolizes a choice to be made by all of God’s people. For Anglicans such a moment has certainly arrived. The cities symbolizing the present choice are Bedford, Texas, and Anaheim, California. In the last month, the contrasting behaviors and values of the religious leaders who met in these two small cities made each a symbol of Anglicanism’s inescapable choice.

Jerusalem and Babylon come to mind as the Scriptural cities which are enduring symbols of choices to be made by God’s people, and of what can happen when God’s people make a choice for something other than God’s Way, God’s Truth, God’s Life, as set out in God’s Covenant, whether Old or New.

Charles Dickens contrasts London and Paris in the last quarter of the 18th Century in his Tale of Two Cities. Both cities are in crisis, but one operates from received values and behaviors, while the other attempts to re-make the world to its own revolutionary tastes.

St. Augustine of Hippo in his De Civitate Dei contrasts the City of God and the City of the World, explaining the fate of Rome in terms of the favor that comes from conforming to the behaviors and values of the Heavenly City as over against the Earthly City.

The Anglican Church in North America, whose leaders met at Bedford, Texas, from June 20th to June 25th, embraced the values and behaviors familiar to Christians in every age: daily repenting of human sin in disobeying the one Lord, embracing the need (both personal and corporate) of a divine Savior, and recommitting to the proclamation in word and deed of the gospel of transforming love. The unity at Bedford, despite very real differences, was palpable.

The Episcopal Church, whose leaders met at Anaheim, California, from July 8th to 17th, blessed the values and behaviors of a re-defined Christianity: enabling a revisionist anthropology, budgeting litigation rather than evangelism, and confusing received understandings of Scriptural truth, not least concerning the necessity of individual salvation in Christ Jesus. At Anaheim, there were those who valiantly stood against the revolutionary majority, and their pain and grief at what was happening was heartbreaking for all who saw it, not least for their brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church in North America.

The North American poet, Robert Frost, once wrote: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the road less traveled by. That has made all the difference.” For Anglican Christians, for the Instruments of Unity (Communion), for interdependent Provinces, for ordinary believers, there is a choice to be made. The choice is between two religions, two roads, two cities, two sets of conflicting values and behaviors. In Deuteronomy, chapter 30, Moses sets the choice as between blessing and curse, life and death. For contemporary Anglicanism the present choice is this stark.

I write this humbly and as a sinner. I also write it as one whose hope is in Christ alone, and with deepest love for all for whom He died and rose again.

Faithfully and Obediently,

The Most Reverend Robert William Duncan, D.D.
Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America
Anglican Bishop of Pittsburgh

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Communion Partners write to Lambeth

A letter has been published, signed on behalf of a substantial number of clergy, in support of the “Anaheim Statement”.

Letter from the Communion Partners to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The full text of this letter is copied below the fold. For the list of signatures to the attached Communion Partners Rectors’ Statement, follow the link above, or there is another copy at the Anglican Communion Institute site.

Letter from the Communion Partners to the Archbishop of Canterbury

104th Archbishop of Canterbury
Lambeth Palace
London, England
SE1 7JU

Your Grace:
You will be sent a hard copy of this letter, statement and the list of signatories, but because of our desire to put this material in front of you soon, we are e-mailing this correspondence as well. We must share with you that this letter will also be made public via the trusted websites of the The Livng Church and The Anglican Communion Institute.

Enclosed, please find a statement of the Communion Partner Rectors who welcome and declare our appreciation for the witness of the over 30 Episcopal bishops who have signed the minority statement read in the House of Bishops at the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Anaheim, California on Thursday, July 16, 2009.

Though we have been in touch with you throughout the last year and a half, we simply reiterate our deep desire and commitment to remain constituent members of the greater Anglican Communion. We, as we believe it to be well documented now, concur with your leadership, and that of Lambeth Conference and the ACC that the road to stronger bonds of affection amongst the members of the Communion is our shared commitment to our Lord and His Church, the instruments of Communion and the parameters and councils set forth in the Windsor Process, the three (at present) requested moratoria, the most recent Lambeth Conference, Lambeth Resolution 1.10 and the unfolding Covenant Process, to which we are fully committed.

We do not concur with any action taken that would be interpreted by the larger Communion as divisive, dismissive of our larger Anglican Communion or schismatic. The outgrowth of the decisions of the General Convention has yet to be ultimately determined as to its impact on our common bonds of affection that we should all share, and honor, as part of the worldwide Anglican family.

Some will clearly share the assessment of His Grace, Bishop N.T. Wright that The Episcopal Church has, by its most recent actions, chosen to “walk apart.” It would be our hope that if you share that assessment, that you would also share Bishop’s Wright’s counsel to “…not forget the ‘Communion Partner’ bishops, who doggedly loyal to their church, and to the Windsor Report as expressing the mind of the wider Communion, voted against the current resolution. Nor should we forget the many parishes within revisionist dioceses (and, for that matter, worshippers within revisionists parishes) who take the same stance,” (The Times, 15 July, 2009). Again, let us categorically state, that we believe our ties to both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion must remain solid and unfettered by any action, resolution or statement that would in any way further tear the very fragile fabric that is now our Anglican family; and therefore would not support any such action, resolution or statement.

Lastly, we reaffirm our pledge of support for the unfolding Covenant process and it is our hope that Part IV of the Ridley Draft will soon be revisited and approved as a pathway for not simply Provinces, but Bishops, Dioceses and individual parishes to renew their commitment not only to the Anglican Communion, but to those vital pillars that in the end, draw us all together, rather than cause further division.

Toward that end and toward all of these matters, we pledge our prayers and support to you, to our Communion Partner Bishops and those Bishops who joined them in signing the Anaheim Statement, and to those Bishops who have made similar statements to their own Dioceses. Please let us know how we can further support you.

Faithfully, on behalf of the attached list of Communion Partner Rectors,

The Advisory Committee of the Communion Partner Rectors

The Reverend Dr. Charles Alley, Rector, St. Matthews, Richmond, Virginia
The Right Reverend Anthony Burton, Rector, Church of the Incarnation, Dallas, Texas

The Very Reverend Anthony Clark, Dean, St. Luke’s Cathedral, Orlando, Florida
The Reverend S. Brooks Keith, Rector, Church of the Transfiguration, Vail, Colorado
The Reverend Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr. Rector, St. Martin’s, Houston, Texas
The Reverend Leigh Spruill, Rector, St. George’s, Nashville, Tennessee

The Communion Partner Rectors’ Statement:

July 22, 2009

We, the undersigned clergy in good standing in the Episcopal Church welcome and declare our appreciation for the witness of the bishops who signed the minority statement read in the House of Bishops in Anaheim, California on Thursday, July 16, 2009. We also express our on-going support for all the reaffirmations listed in that document, which read as follows:

  • We reaffirm our constituent membership in the Anglican Communion, our communion with the See of Canterbury and our commitment to preserving these relationships.
  • We reaffirm our commitment to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this church has received them (BCP 526, 538).
  • We reaffirm our commitment to the three moratoria requested of us by the instruments of Communion.
  • We reaffirm our commitment to the Anglican Communion Covenant process currently underway, with the hope of working toward its implementation across the Communion once a Covenant is completed.
  • We reaffirm our commitment to “continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship” which is foundational to our baptismal covenant, and to be one with the apostles in “interpreting the Gospel” which is essential to our work as bishops of the Church of God.

We are committed along with said bishops to be a positive force for the spread of God’s Kingdom in this world; to pray for Christ’s Body, the Church, the Anglican Communion, The Episcopal Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, all bishops and other ministers. We hold that as Christ’s Body, the Church is to be a “pillar and buttress of truth,” (1 Timothy 3:15) through which the Gospel is held high in witness and proclamation, and we pray for the reconciliation of all humankind through the saving life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.

For more information about the Communion Partner Rectors, contact CPRectors@stmartinsepiscopal.org

list of signatures follows - use links above

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Tuesday, 21 July 2009

General Convention: another letter to Lambeth Palace

First, there was the letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury concerning Resolution D025.

Now, ENS reports in Presiding officers write Canterbury explaining same-gender unions resolution that a further letter has been sent concerning Resolution C056.

The letter is here as a PDF. The full text is now available below the fold.

The official press release reads:

Following its passage in both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson sent a letter to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams discussing Resolution C056 at the recently completed 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. (Text of letter is at the end.)

Additionally, the Presiding Bishop forwarded the letter to the 38 Primates and clergy and lay leaders of the Anglican Communion. (Text of letter is at the end.)

In the letter, the Presiding Officers noted, “While the Resolution honors the diversity of theological perspectives within The Episcopal Church, it does not authorize public liturgical rites for the blessing of same-gender unions. The Book of Common Prayer remains unchanged, the marriage rites are unaltered and the Rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer define marriage as a “solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God.”

It also explained, “It is now left to each bishop to determine what such a generous pastoral response might mean in her or his diocesan context. This Resolution neither forces nor demands any bishop, diocesan convention, congregation or clergy to take any action it considers contrary to its will. The Resolution honors and acknowledges this Church’s continuing commitment to and honoring of theological diversity and the inclusion of a variety of points of view on matters of human sexuality.”

General Convention 2009 was held July 8 to July 17 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California (Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles).

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention, held every three years, is the bicameral governing body of the church. General Convention, the second largest legislative body in the world, is comprised of the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 members, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay representatives from the 110 dioceses, at over 850 members.

The Episcopal Church, with 110 dioceses in 16 nations, is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.


Letter to Archbishop Rowan Williams

from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President Bonnie Anderson.

17 July 2009
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Rowan Williams
Lambeth Palace
London

Dear Archbishop Williams,

We greet you once again as we write regarding another significant resolution adopted today by the 76th General Convention. Like Resolution D025, about which we wrote to you several days ago, Resolution C056 will impact both the life and work of The Episcopal Church and have implications for our relationships within the Anglican Communion. A copy of Resolution C056 is attached to this letter.

While the Resolution honors the diversity of theological perspectives within The Episcopal Church, it does not authorize public liturgical rites for the blessing of same-gender unions. The Book of Common Prayer remains unchanged, the marriage rites are unaltered and the Rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer define marriage as a “solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God.”

The Resolution encourages this Church and its members to engage in several actions over the coming three years until The General Convention gathers again as the only body of The Episcopal Church that can speak definitively for this Church. Resolution C056:

  • Calls on the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (an interim body of The General Convention made up of laity, clergy and bishops) in consultation with the House of Bishops and House of Deputies to collect and develop theological and liturgical resources around the blessing of same gender unions and report the results of its work to the 77th General Convention which will convene in 2012. The collection and development of these theological and liturgical resources is a way by which further theological inquiry and debate/discussion can take place, but does not commit any future General Convention to formal adoption of any rites.
  • Calls for wide participation in an open process of conversation and consultation across The Episcopal Church in congregations and dioceses and with individuals. We pray this work will contribute to the Listening Process on all levels since we earnestly desire to listen to all as encouraged by successive Lambeth Conferences.
  • Allows bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, to provide a generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church.

It is now left to each bishop to determine what such a generous pastoral response might mean in her or his diocesan context. This Resolution neither forces nor demands any bishop, diocesan convention, congregation or clergy to take any action it considers contrary to its will. The Resolution honors and acknowledges this Church’s continuing commitment to and honoring of theological diversity and the inclusion of a variety of points of view on matters of human sexuality.

The House of Bishops received Resolution C056 from the legislative Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music (made up of bishops, clergy and laity). A group of over 25 bishops representing diverse and divergent views gathered informally and, using the Indaba process learned at the Lambeth Conference 2008, had thoughtful, loving and candid conversation. The fruit of their conversation and prayer was presented to the House of Bishops in the form of a revision to Resolution C056 which was adopted by both Houses thus becoming the action of the General Convention thus speaking definitively for The Episcopal Church. This resolution is seen as a continuation of the pastoral response and listening process asked for and encouraged by successive General Conventions and Lambeth Conferences.

As our letter of July 16 stated, “it is not our desire to give offense. We remain keenly aware of the concerns and sensibilities of our brothers and sisters in other Churches across the Communion.” The Episcopal Church treasures our relationships and partnerships as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, and prays fervently for its life and mission, as we pray for you, brother Rowan, and your ministry as the spiritual leader of the Communion.

With all prayers and best wishes, we remain,

Your sisters in Christ,
Bonnie Anderson, D.D.
President of The House of Deputies

The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate

Letter to the Anglican Primates
TO THE PRIMATES OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION:
17 July 2009

Dear Brothers in Christ,

Having written you once to explain something of the process and significance of Resolution D025, adopted here in our 76th General Convention, it is important to send you this second, follow-up letter addressed once more to the Archbishop of Canterbury. This letter, again co-signed by myself and the President of our House of Deputies, concerns Resolution C056, which was adopted today, in the hopes of being clear with the Archbishop and with all of you about what the resolution does, and does not, mean.

As the attached letter notes, C056 does not authorize public liturgical rites for the blessing of same-gender unions. It is crucial to note that the Book of Common Prayer remains unchanged and the marriage rites unaltered.

What this resolution in fact does is honor the diversity of theological perspectives in our own cultural context, and encourage this Church’s members to pursue thoughtful and informed conversation and the study of resources that have been developed. Please note the second page of the letter that describes the careful process that resulted in the amendment of this resolution, a process influenced greatly by the Indaba process learned at the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

As with the previous correspondence, I welcome any questions or feedback you might have. And once again, I offer my thanksgiving to God for the presence of so many of you here at this Convention. As we move forward, may we do so with prayers for one another and God’s blessings on our respective ministries.

Your servant in Christ,
The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate

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how many Anaheim statement signatories?

According to Anaheim Statement Attracts More Support in the Living Church there are now 34 signatories.

That’s five more than the 29 that were reported in this earlier article, Dissenting Bishops Issue ‘Anaheim Statement’.

But that listed only 27 names. So we are still missing two names.

And, several of these names are of bishops who voted in favour of one or more of the resolutions which provoked the statement. According to this tally, at least nine of the original 27.

Update

George Conger has kindly supplied a complete list of the names. Here it is:

The Rt. Rev’d James Adams, Western Kansas
The Rt. Rev’d Lloyd Allen, Honduras
The Rt. Rev’d David Alvarez, Puerto Rico FOR D025
The Rt. Rev’d John Bauerschmidt, Tennessee
The Rt. Rev’d Peter Beckwith, Springfield
The Rt. Rev’d Frank Brookhart, Montana FOR C056 FOR D025
The Rt. Rev’d Andrew Doyle, Texas
The Rt. Rev’d Philip Duncan, Central Gulf Coast
The Rt. Rev’d Dan Edwards, Nevada
The Rt. Rev’d William Frey, Rio Grande
The Rt. Rev’d Dena Harrison, Texas, Suffragan
The Rt. Rev’d Dorsey Henderson, Upper South Carolina FOR C056 FOR D025
The Rt. Rev’d Julio Holguin, Dominican Republic
The Rt. Rev’d John Howe, Central Florida
The Rt. Rev’d Russell Jacobus, Fond du Lac
The Rt. Rev’d Don Johnson, West Tennessee FOR C056 FOR D025
The Rt. Rev’d Paul Lambert, Dallas Suffragan
The Rt. Rev’d Mark Lawrence, South Carolina
The Rt. Rev’d Gary Lillibridge, West Texas
The Rt. Rev’d Edward Little, Northern Indiana
The Rt. Rev’d William Love, Albany
The Rt. Rev’d Bruce MacPherson, Western Louisiana
The Rt. Rev’d Alfredo Morante, Litoral Ecuador FOR C056
The Rt. Rev’d Henry Parsley, Alabama FOR C056
The Rt. Rev’d David Reed, West Texas Suffragan
The Rt. Rev’d Sylvestre Romero, El Camino Real assisting in New Jersey FOR D025
The Rt. Rev’d Jeffrey Rowthorn, Europe
The Rt. Rev’d William Skilton, Dominican Republic
The Rt. Rev’d John Sloan, Alabama Suffragan FOR C056 FOR D025
The Rt. Rev’d Dabney Smith, Southwest Florida
The Rt. Rev’d Michael Smith, North Dakota
The Rt. Rev’d James Stanton, Dallas
The Rt. Rev’d Pierre Whalon, Europe FOR C056 FOR D025
The Rt.Rev. Don Wimberly, Texas retired

I have annotated the list (George is not responsible for my annotations):
italics denotes retired
Suffragan
Voted FOR C056 and/or FOR D025

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Monday, 20 July 2009

The Episcopal Church's new resolutions

press release from Inclusive Church

The Episcopal Church’s new resolutions

Inclusive Church welcomes the clarity of the new resolutions passed at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the USA (TEC). They accurately and honestly describe the current situation, affirming that homosexual orientation should not be a bar to ordination as priest or bishop, and recognising that same sex blessings are being performed in some parishes and dioceses.

It is our wish that such honesty prevail in all current dialogues within the Anglican Communion - for example, recognising that within the Church of England there are a great many gay and lesbian clergy, single or in committed relationships, and many churches offer blessings or thanksgivings for same-sex relationships.

We equally acknowledge the costly lengths to which TEC has gone over many years to encourage the unity of the Anglican Communion, and note that the moratoria previously agreed regarding human sexuality have not been overturned.

We urge members of the Communion to consider carefully what has actually been agreed at Anaheim. The Presiding Bishop has stated in a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the other Primates ‘This General Convention has not repealed Resolution B033. It remains to be seen how Resolution B033 will be understood and interpreted in light of Resolution D025. Some within our Church may understand Resolution D025 to give Standing Committees (made up of elected clergy and laity) and Bishops with jurisdiction more latitude in consenting to Episcopal elections. Others, in light of Resolution B033, will not.’

Inclusive Church believes that excluding LGBT people from the sacramental life of the church is a sin similar to the historical discrimination against people of colour and women. We value Anglican diversity, and acknowledge that there is a breadth of views on questions of human sexuality. We salute the considerable efforts made to recognise and contain that breadth with TEC, and regret the attempts by others who have withdrawn to undermine the territorial integrity of local Anglican churches.

Above all we pray that the slow and often tortuous process in which the Communion is engaged over these issues will, in the end, enable all the member churches to speak more prophetically and more clearly of God’s inexhaustible love and justice for the whole world.

For further information visit www.inclusivechurch.net

Giles Goddard
Chair, Inclusive Church
07762 373 674
gileswgoddard@gmail.com

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Sunday, 19 July 2009

after GC: press releases

Several groups have issued press releases.

Chicago Consultation: Chicago Consultation Statement on the 76th General Convention

Integrity: Integrity USA Achieves Its Goals At General Convention 2009

Anglican Communion Institute: Committing to the Anglican Communion: Some Will, Others Won’t

Fulcrum: Fulcrum Response to TEC General Convention 2009 Resolution C056:
official promotion of a process to develop liturgies for the blessing of same-sex unions

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Saturday, 18 July 2009

after General Convention...

Updated Sunday morning

Some media reports:

Associated Press Episcopalians: Bishops can bless same-sex unions

Reuters Episcopal Church moves toward blessing gay unions

Los Angeles Times Episcopal leaders affirm new policy on same-sex blessings

New York Times Pared-Down Episcopal Church Is Looking to Grow Through ‘Inclusivity’

Some comment:

Guardian Jim Naughton Face to faith

And some heavyweight analysis:

Wall Street Journal Philip Jenkins Their Separate Ways

And some simple explanation:

Changing Attitude Caro Hall Is this the Schism (finally)?

…The Presiding Bishop has stated in a letter to Rowan Williams and the other Primates ‘This General Convention has not repealed Resolution B033. It remains to be seen how Resolution B033 will be understood and interpreted in light of Resolution D025. Some within our Church may understand Resolution D025 to give Standing Committees (made up of elected clergy and laity) and Bishops with jurisdiction more latitude in consenting to Episcopal elections. Others, in light of Resolution B033, will not.’

So once again this resolution ‘holds the tension’ and provides a big tent within which people of many different theological stripes can come together. It’s classical Anglicanism – both/and not either/or and that drives some people crazy!

The Presiding Bishop describes D025 as descriptive not prescriptive and that’s probably what she’ll say about C056 as well which allows bishops to make a ‘generous pastoral response’ to those in same-gender relationships. It also calls for collecting and developing theological and liturgical materials for blessing same-gender relationships. It does not go as far as developing a rite for public blessings.

Just like D025 the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. How bishops interpret this will depend on their local circumstances. America is a big country and things vary a lot from place to place so local discernment makes a lot of sense…

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Friday, 17 July 2009

General Convention last day actions

Updated again Thursday

The “Anaheim statement” current information has been moved over here.
———

Resolution C056 has now been passed by the House of Deputies. The voting was Lay: 78 yes, 23 no, 7 divided. Clergy: 74 yes, 27 no, 7 divided. The text is here.

The Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury concerning Resolution D025. The original is available as a PDF. The full text of this letter is reproduced below the fold. The same letter was sent to all Primates of the Anglican Communion with a cover letter. This also is reproduced below the fold.

These documents were issued under the cover of a short press release which reads as follows:

Presiding Bishop, HOD President send letter to Archbishop Williams,Anglican Primates on GC actions, affirms close relationship with Anglican Communion

[July 17, 2009] A letter describing the steps taken by The Episcopal Church’s 76th General Convention and reaffirming the close relationship with the Anglican Communion was sent today to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson. A copy of the letter also was sent to the 38 Primates, and clergy and lay leaders of the Anglican Communion

The letter to Archbishop Williams outlined Resolution D025, which was adopted at this General Convention, explaining that Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and President Anderson understood Resolution D025 to be more descriptive than prescriptive in nature. It stated that some are concerned that the adoption of Resolution D025 has effectively repealed Resolution B033 but reiterated that is not the case. The letter continued, “This General Convention has not repealed Resolution B033. It remains to be seen how Resolution B033 will be understood and interpreted in light of Resolution D025.

The letter also states that the Episcopal Church “is deeply and genuinely committed to our relationships in the Anglican Communion.” It also says, “In adopting this Resolution, it is not our desire to give offense. We remain keenly aware of the concerns and sensibilities of our brothers and sisters in other Churches across the Communion. We believe also that the honesty reflected in this resolution is essential if indeed we are to live into the deep communion that we all profess
and earnestly desire.”

The letter expresses the profound appreciation of the Presiding Officers that Archbishop Williams, 16 Anglican Primates, and lay and clergy leaders of the Anglican Communion attended the General Convention and stressed the importance of finding ways to communicate directly about different cultural and ecclesial contexts.

The letter to Archbishop Williams was hand-delivered. Copies of the letter were emailed to the Primates and to Anglican lay and clergy leaders on July 17, and were distributed to the House of Bishops and House of Deputies.

General Convention 2009 continues until July 17 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California (Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles).

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention, held every three years, is the bicameral governing body of the church. General Convention, the second largest legislative body in the world, is comprised of the House of Bishops, with upwards of 200 members, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and lay representatives from the 110 dioceses, at over 850 members.

16 July 2009

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Rowan Williams
Lambeth Palace
London

Dear Archbishop Williams,

We are writing to you as the Presiding Officers of the two Houses of The General Convention of The Episcopal Church. As your friends in Christ, we remain deeply grateful to you for your gracious presence among us recently during our 76th General Convention in Anaheim.

As you know, The General Convention voted this week to adopt Resolution D025, “Commitment and Witness to the Anglican Communion”—a multilayered resolution that addresses a range of important issues in the life of The Episcopal Church that clearly have implications for our relationships within the Anglican Communion.

Because this action is already being variously interpreted by different individuals and groups, we want to offer our perspective to you with the hope that some background, context, and information will be helpful in understanding this action of our General Convention. If you have not already had an opportunity to read it, a copy of the resolution is attached.

We understand Resolution D025 to be more descriptive than prescriptive in nature—a statement that reaffirms commitments already made by The Episcopal Church and that acknowledges certain realities of our common life. Nothing in the Resolution goes beyond what has already been provided under our Constitution and Canons for many years. In reading the resolution, you will note its key points, that:

  • Our Church is deeply and genuinely committed to our relationships in the Anglican Communion;
  • We recognize the contributions gay and lesbian Christians, members of our Church both lay and ordained, have made and continue to make to our common life and ministry;
  • Our Church can and does bear witness to the fact that many of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters live in faithful, monogamous, lifelong and life-giving committed relationships;
  • While ordination is not a “right” guaranteed to any individual, access to our Church’s discernment and ordination process is open to all baptized members according to our Constitution and Canons; and
  • Members of The Episcopal Church do, in fact, disagree faithfully and conscientiously about issues of human sexuality.

It is important to understand the process through which this Resolution came into being.

In 2006, the 75th General Convention adopted Resolution B033 which “called upon Standing Committees and Bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider Church and will lead to further strains on communion.”

While adoption of that resolution was offered with a genuine desire “to embrace The Windsor Report’s invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation” within the Anglican Communion, it has also been a source of strain within the life of our own Church.

This year at least sixteen resolutions were submitted asking the 76th General Convention to take further action regarding B033. These resolutions fell into three categories—those calling for the repeal of B033; those restating or seeking to strengthen our Church’s nondiscrimination Canons; and those stating where The Episcopal Church is today. From these options, our General Convention chose the third—along with reaffirming our commitments to the Anglican Communion—with the hope that such authenticity would contribute to deeper conversation in these matters.

The complex and deliberative nature of our legislative process involving bishops, lay deputies, and clerical deputies prevents the General Convention from acting rashly. However, it does lead eventually to a profound consensus. Sometimes this consensus takes years to achieve. As Resolution D025 itself states, we are still not all of one mind. Passage of this Resolution represents another step in a conversation that began with the 65th General Convention in 1976 which stated that homosexual persons are “children of God and have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.” The discussion of these issues has continued consistently through every General Convention for the past thirty-three years, and we understand it to be an important contribution to the listening process invited by the successive Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988, and 1998.

Some are concerned that the adoption of Resolution D025 has effectively repealed Resolution B033. That is not the case. This General Convention has not repealed Resolution B033. It remains to be seen how Resolution B033 will be understood and interpreted in light of Resolution D025.

Some within our Church may understand Resolution D025 to give Standing Committees (made up of elected clergy and laity) and Bishops with jurisdiction more latitude in consenting to episcopal elections. Others, in light of Resolution B033, will not. In either case, we trust that the Bishops and Standing Committees of The Episcopal Church will continue to exercise prayerful discernment in making such decisions, mindful and appreciative of our relationships in the Anglican Communion.

In adopting this Resolution, it is not our desire to give offense. We remain keenly aware of the concerns and sensibilities of our brothers and sisters in other Churches across the Communion. We believe also that the honesty reflected in this resolution is essential if indeed we are to live into the deep communion that we all profess and earnestly desire.

Please know that we continue to hold you in our prayers even as we invite yours for us.
We remain,

Faithfully,

Your sisters in Christ,

Bonnie Anderson, D.D.
President of The House of Deputies

The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
——————————————————————————-
TO THE PRIMATES OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION:

15 July 2009

Dear Brothers in Christ,

My heart was filled with joy at seeing so many of you here last week at the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church meeting in Anaheim, California. It is important to me that we continue to find ways to communicate with one another directly about our different cultural and ecclesial contexts, and thereby prevent any misunderstandings.

For this reason, I am sending you a copy of a letter addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and co-signed by myself and the President of our House of Deputies. It outlines in some detail Resolution D025, which was adopted at this Convention, explaining both what this resolution means and what it does not mean. With so much misinformation circulating through the press and other sources, it is crucial to me that I provide the Archbishop and all of you with accurate information. To this end, I am also attaching a copy of Resolution D025, so that you may read it in its entirety for yourself.

As the attached letter notes, some people have been concerned that the adoption of D025 has effectively repealed the 2006 General Convention Resolution B033. Let me stress that this is not the case. Rather, we understand D025 to be more descriptive than prescriptive in nature, acknowledging the realities we face in various parts of our own Church while reaffirming our ongoing commitment on all levels to our relationships within the Anglican Communion.

I would welcome any questions or feedback you might have, and reiterate yet again my profound appreciation and joy at having so many of you with us as we gathered as a Church to worship, fellowship, and deliberate together. May God continue to bless your ministries and strengthen our bonds of affection.

Your servant in Christ,
[signed] Katharine Jefferts Schori

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General Convention update

Updated Friday evening

Resolution C056 reported earlier when it passed the House of Bishops, will be considered by the House of Deputies at 0930 California time.

Meanwhile, a group of bishops has issued a statement. The list of names is not yet available but their number is said to be in excess of 20. The full text is below the fold.

The ENS report on this is here: West Texas bishop drafts ‘Anaheim Statement,’ reaffirms moratoria commitment.

The Church Times carries this report of earlier events: Gay bishops more likely after US passes ‘nuanced’ motion.

And published this leader: Schism must not be allowed to happen.

Friday evening update

Here is the press release from West Texas. Still no list of names.

Religious Intelligence George Conger US vote ‘not a snub to Archbishop of Canterbury

Episcopal Café Richard Helmer Eyes on the floor: Matters of conscience, matters of psyche

New York Times Laurie Goodstein Episcopals’ First Openly Gay Bishop Speaks

The Anaheim Statement, General Convention, 2009

At this convention, the House of Bishops has heard repeated calls for honesty and clarity. As the conversation has proceeded within the HOB, repeated attempts to modify wording which would have been preferable to the minority in the vote were respectfully heard and discussed, but in the end most of these amendments were found unacceptable to the majority in the House. Many in the majority believed the amendments would make the stated position of this House less honest about where they believe we are as The Episcopal Church.

It is apparent that a substantial majority of this Convention believes that The Episcopal Church should move forward on matters of human sexuality. We recognize this reality and understand the clarity with which the majority has expressed itself. We are grateful for those who have reached out to the minority, affirming our place in the Church.

We seek to provide the same honesty and clarity. We invite all bishops who share the following commitments to join us in this statement as we seek to find a place in the Church we continue to serve.

  • We reaffirm our constituent membership in the Anglican Communion, our communion with the See of Canterbury and our commitment to preserving these relationships.
  • We reaffirm our commitment to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this church has received them (BCP 526, 538)
  • We reaffirm our commitment to the three moratoria requested of us by the instruments of Communion.
  • We reaffirm our commitment to the Anglican Communion Covenant process currently underway, with the hope of working toward its implementation across the Communion once a Covenant is completed.
  • We reaffirm our commitment to “continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship” which is foundational to our baptismal covenant, and to be one with the apostles in “interpreting the Gospel” which is essential to our work as bishops of the Church of God.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 17 July 2009 at 8:35am BST | Comments (15) | TrackBack
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Thursday, 16 July 2009

Further views on D025 and Tom Wright

Updated again Thursday evening

Scott Gunn has written at Seven whole days When Tom Wright gets it totally wrong….

Nicholas Knisely has written at Covenant D025, the blogsphere and the House of Bishops, and also Wait…, what?

Ann Rodgers has written for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Episcopalian gay bishops decision confounds activists

And now, here comes Stephen Bates at Cif belief with The Anglican church’s crumbling foundations.

…As it is, this week’s Anaheim resolution will probably become the occasion for a split in the ranks of worldwide Anglicanism, the third largest Christian denomination. The Americans insist they don’t want it and indeed it has almost exclusively been the church’s conservative, largely evangelical, movements and pressure groups which do and have done all along.

The conservative forces are ready to go and have their organisations and lobbyists already in place and flexing their muscles, keen to take over the communion and reshape it in their image – though, interestingly, the conservatives are already falling out among themselves, united in what they oppose rather than what they agree. In England certainly if the conservative evangelicals get their way the established church will look very different from the broad, tolerant institution that it has been up till now – even Tom Wright might find himself anathematised. Some of them insist that the 17th-century Reformation did not go far enough and needs to be finished, which may come as a surprise to the high church Anglo-Catholics with whom they have allied, whose dearest wish is to reunite with Rome. Perhaps someone should tell them…

Afternoon update

Some more British journalists:

Ruth Gledhill has Anglican schism: Is this it? and earlier had Princely Bishop of Durham rides to the rescue.

And Gay marriage approval sounds death knell for Anglican unity (this relates to C056 approval which still needs concurrence in the HoDeputies, but never mind.)

Jonathan Wynne-Jones has Anglican schism means Archbishop Rowan must act.

Evening update

Telegraph Martin Beckford Archbishop of Canterbury faces final divide in Anglican Communion over gay clergy

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 16 July 2009 at 10:31am BST | Comments (36) | TrackBack
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Now on to C056

The American House of Bishops has passed a resolution relating to same-sex blessings.

Here is the text of what they approved. (This still has to go to the House of Deputies.)

The voting on this was 104-30 with two abstentions.

ENS reports at Bishops call for ‘resources’ for same-gender blessing. Comments on this from numerous bishops are included.

The Living Church reports this as Bishops Call for Development of Liturgies for Same-Sex Blessings.

The Associated Press reports it as Episcopal bishops OK prayer for gay couples.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 16 July 2009 at 8:36am BST | Comments (31) | TrackBack
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Wednesday, 15 July 2009

more about D025

First, the House of Deputies has concurred in the version that was previously approved by the bishops.

Here is the final version of the Resolution. It’s worth reading the text in full, including the Explanation.

ENS reports this (taken from the PDF file of the Convention Daily, inexplicably this story is not yet on the ENS website):

Convention passes Resolution D025
By Melodie Woerman

The House of Deputies July 14 concurred with the House of Bishops in their action on Resolution D025 and passed it as amended.

The resolution affirms that ordination is available to anyone in the church through the discernment process outlined in the Constitution and Canons of the church. It also said that God’s call to ordination is a mystery and reaffirmed the Episcopal Church’s participation in the Anglican Communion, while noting that the communion is not of one mind on this matter.

The resolution passed in a vote by orders called for early in the debate. The final vote in the lay order was 78 yes, 21 no and 9 divided. In the clergy order the vote was 77 yes, 19 no and 11 divided. A simple majority – 55 votes among laity and 56 among clergy – was required for the resolution to pass.

This vote followed previous action on D025 July 12 that was passed by deputies with a 2-1 majority. Because the resolution passed with an amendment by the bishops July 13, deputies had to vote on the amended version in order for the resolution to be adopted.

In the debate leading up to this vote, the Very Rev. Philip Lindner (Upper South Carolina) said the time for this action had arrived. “I saw our passage of D025 as our acknowledgement of what is – a way forward that is not perfect but is nonetheless a way for us to state boldly that we as Anglicans, as Episcopalians, are now recommitting to our faith and love in Jesus Christ now with a desire to fully focus on mission and ministry in his name.”

Grace Aheron, a member of the Official Youth Presence from the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, noted that the house already had spoken and needed to reaffirm that vote. “It is time to move past this resolution,” she said. “This house has already decisively spoken. I ask you to quickly pass this resolution again. There are many other issues requiring our attention, and we have delayed this long enough. The debate is over, and it’s time to vote. As we say in Virginia, let’s get ‘er done.”

Two other members of the Official Youth Presence urged the resolution be defeated. Michael Sahdev of Southeast Florida said, “I am extremely worried about the future of this church and what will happen to it. We already have lost so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Please, I beg and plead of you, don’t leave me and my generation with half a church or no church at all.” Zach Brown of Upper South Carolina said, “I fear more conservative members will leave our church. My fear is that parishes and dioceses will leave our church. Without the communion’s unity, the Episcopal Church will gradually diminish.”

However, ENS has published this roundup of responses to the action of the bishops: Resolution D025 draws mixed responses. This reveals a variety of opinions about what the resolution does and does not do with reference to the B033 “moratorium” resolution of 2006.

Kendall Harmon has an opinion, see Kendall Harmon on D025.

Mark Harris also has an opinion: The Vote, Canterbury’s uninformed reaction.

See also Terry Martin D025: An Honest Statement.

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Times leader praises Episcopal Church decision

The article on D025 yesterday included a link to this Times leader , but it might get overlooked in the long list there. This is part of the context for Tom Wright’s op-ed article.

Honest to God

The consecration of homosexual bishops is a matter of justice

The Episcopal Church in the United States voted last week to overturn a moratorium on the ordination of gay bishops. Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, told the General Synod yesterday that he regretted that decision.

The ground of Dr Williams’s concern is clear. Since his enthronement six years ago, he has sought to preserve the unity of the Anglican Communion. He spoke last week of his hopes and prayers that “there won’t be decisions in the coming days that will push us further apart”.

It is a noble aim to maintain a federation of 38 autonomous churches united by tradition. But Dr Williams’s appeal for restraint is ultimately untenable. It cannot override a simple and direct acknowledgment that homosexual clergy, including bishops, belong in the Church.

Dr Williams should state that principle, even aware of its divisiveness. Churches that insist on the inerrant word of Scripture, notably the Pauline epistles, will not accept the consecration of open homosexuals. Yet social attitudes to homosexuality have shifted radically in the past generation. The sources of Christian inspiration are diverse. They do not derive only from a private response to Scripture.

It is possible to maintain that the Episcopal Church has been impolitic in its vote, but still maintain that it is right. A united Anglican witness to the nation and to the world is a valuable civic as well as religious resource. Those member Churches, including many in Africa, who conscientiously cannot accept homosexual bishops, should not have appointments forced upon them. But the issue is not one of denominational preference alone. It is also a matter of justice.

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Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Episcopal Church bishops pass D025

Updated again late Tuesday evening

Here is the text of Resolution D025, as amended, and then passed by the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church.

Commitment and Witness to Anglican Communion.

ENS news story: Bishops approve resolution opening ordination to gays, lesbians Headline later changed to read: Bishops affirm openness of ordination process

Bishops voted 99-45, with two abstentions, for the revised resolution, which goes to the House of Deputies world mission legislative committee. The committee must make a recommendation to the full house about whether to concur in the amended resolution, amend it further, or defeat it, according to Deputy Sally Johnson (Minnesota).

The bishops amended the fourth resolve, which originally read “that the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church which call is tested through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.” They inserted the words “and that God’s call to the ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church is a mystery which the church attempts to discern for all people” after the words “to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church” and deleted “which call is tested.”

Church Times blog has some more here.

First update 10 am Tuesday

Associated Press Rachel Zoll Episcopal church to affirm gay clergy

BBC US Church drops gay bishops ban

press release from Integrity Bishops Vote For “No Outcasts”

Second update 6.30 pm Tuesday

press release from Fulcrum Fulcrum Press Statement on the decision by the House of Bishops of TEC to pass D025

The Times
leading article: Honest to God
Ruth Gledhill Schism ‘inevitable’ after US bishops approve gay ordination

Guardian Riazat Butt and agencies US Episcopal church bishops vote for ordaining gay clergy

Los Angeles Times Episcopal Church, at Anaheim convention, moves to end ban on gay bishops

New York Times Laurie Goodstein Episcopal Church Moves to End Ban on Gay Bishops

Episcopal Café How to interpret D025, and its consequences and also Updated, but imperfect roll call

Third update 10.30 pm Tuesday

Cif belief Savitri Hensman Episcopals vote for inclusion

Ekklesia Savitri Hensman US Anglicans forty years after Stonewall

The Times Tom Wright The Americans know this will end in schism

press release Anglican Mainstream Anglican Mainstream responds to decision of TEC House of Bishops to overturn moratorium on consecrating bishops in same-sex relationships

press release Anglican Communion Institute Statement on the Repudiation of B033

Living Church George Conger News Analysis: Passage of D025 May Place TEC Outside Communion

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Monday, 13 July 2009

GS and GC: press reports Monday evening

George Pitcher wrote at the Telegraph Sack the bishops and make them earn their livings.

Riazat Butt wrote in the Guardian Vote on gay bishops threatens archbishop with another schism.

And at Cif belief General synod: the tightrope walk continues.

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ABC reacts to news from General Convention

Updated Monday afternoon

ENS reports that Deputies support fully inclusive ordination process, ongoing commitment to communion.

The House of Deputies by more than a 2-1 margin adopted a resolution July 12 that declares the ordination process of the Episcopal Church open to all individuals while expressing its ongoing commitment to the Anglican Communion.

The vote was 77-31 in the lay order and 74-25 in the clergy order. It now goes to the House of Bishops, where it must be passed to be enacted.

Resolution D025 was created as a response to resolution B033, which was adopted in the waning hours of the 2006 General Convention and urged restraint concerning the election of bishops whose “manner of life” would cause offense to the wider Anglican Communion. That was widely believed specifically to refer to gays and lesbians in committed same-sex relationships.

Ruth Gledhill has a comprehensive report on what the Archbishop of Canterbury said during the first item of business on Monday.

Archbishop of Canterbury ‘regrets’ TEC move to gay ordination.

Responding to a question by Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream, Dr Williams said: ‘As for General Convention it remains to be seen I think whether the vote of the House of Deputies will be endorsed by the House of Bishops. If the House of Bishops chooses to block then the moratorium remains. I regret the fact that there is not the will to observe the moratorium in such a significant part of the Church in North America but I can’t say more about that as I have no details.’ Dr Williams also responded to concerns about the funding for the ‘listening process’ saying that he had been personally involved in securing that funding and had been completely unaware of any ‘agenda’ attached to the funding.

The Church Times blog has a good report on the story from General Convention, see House of Deputies affirms ministry of gay and lesbian persons.

Updates Monday afternoon

The Times Ruth Gledhill Schism closer as US Anglicans vote to overturn ban on gay ordinations

Guardian Riazat Butt Archbishop of Canterbury ‘regrets’ move to ordain gay bishops

Press Association Martha Linden Archbishop’s ‘regret’ over US decision over gay bishops

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General Convention: Windsor and ACNA and the CofE

Two reports from ECUSA General Convention, related to polity issues:

Episcopal Cafe reports The remarks of Dr. Jenny Te Paa to the House of Deputies.

…It may be worth my repeating here something I said the other day in my contribution to the Chicago Consultation luncheon event at which I spoke. I was sharing in all humility one of my deepest regrets (one that I know is shared by other Commissioners) that as members of the Lambeth Commission we were never fully apprised of the full facts of your polity and in particular of the limits to the power of the office of Presiding Bishop.

As a result of that crucial gap in knowledge and understanding it is my belief that the very unfair, in fact the odious myth of ‘The Episcopal Church acting (in the matter of the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson) with typical unchecked US imperialism’, was more readily enabled and abetted to grow wings and fly unchecked for way too long across the reaches of the Anglican Communion.

It was only in hindsight as a number of us as Commissioners managed to catch our breath, to compare notes and to consult with our trusted Episcopal Church sisters and brothers that I realized, that we realized, to our utterly deserved chagrin that we had perhaps failed albeit inadvertently to prevent something of the unprecedented vilification of the Episcopal Church and especially of its leadership that inevitably resulted…

George Conger writing for the Washington Times reports in Episcopal bishop warns of further schism

The presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church warned the Church of England not to foment schism in America, responding to a threat made over the possibility that the U.S. church will start ordaining actively gay bishops.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said Sunday, in response to questions from The Washington Times, that calls by conservatives in the Church of England for recognition of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) over gay-related issues would wound her church, already split by the secession of conservative dioceses and congregations to form the ACNA.

She urged Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to remember the “pain of many Episcopalians in several places of being shut out of their traditional worship spaces, and the broken relationships, the damaged relationships between people who have gone and people who have stayed.”

“Recognition of something like ACNA is unfortunately likely only to encourage” further secessions, she said, reminding the Church of England that “schism is not a Christian act…”

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Saturday, 11 July 2009

General Convention: sexuality issues continue

Updated Saturday evening

Some ENS reports:

Marriage equality, same-gender rites receive broad support at hearings

Testimony is overwhelmingly in favor of moving beyond B033

Resolution B033 continues to spark passionate debate

Ruth Gledhill has a guest blogger, Sue Carter who writes at #ECGC Danger of ‘spiritual earwax’ at Anaheim.

From Episcopal Café

Eyes on the Floor: B033 – A Festering Wound by Richard Helmer

Fear and the Episcopal future by Rebecca Wilson

And by the way The secret theology committee is secret no more.

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General Convention: how to keep up

Because General Convention is meeting at the same time as the General Synod of the Church of England, coverage of the former here is inevitably limited. I linked before to a post of Dave Walker which suggested sources of information.

Here are some additional sources:

Episcopal Life Online

Integrity

Titusonenine (Kendall Harmon)

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Thursday, 9 July 2009

General Convention: sexuality debate

The Chicago Consultation has published this study guide Christian Holiness and Human Sexuality. (PDF file).

The contributors are:

Marilyn McCord Adams, Oxford University
Wil Gafney, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
A. Katherine Grieb, Virginia Theological Seminary
Louis Weil, Church Divinity School of the Pacific
Ellen K. Wondra, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary
Sylvia Sweeney, Episcopal Theological School at Claremont (Bloy House)

Edited by
Gary R. Hall, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary
Ruth A. Meyers, Church Divinity School of the Pacific

ENS has a news report, Chicago Consultation releases homosexuality study guide.

Bringing its support for full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians to General Convention, the group called the Chicago Consultation released on July 7 a study guide designed to help people in the pew face tough questions about homosexuality — and come up with their own answers.

But leaders of the 18-month-old group made clear that the 34-page booklet, Christian Holiness & Human Sexuality: A Study Guide for Episcopalians, presents a perspective in support of same-sex blessings and the ordination of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Episcopalians.

“In parishes everywhere there are members of the church who are struggling with misconceptions about human sexuality in the context of scripture, tradition and liturgy,” said the Rev. Ruth Meyers, co-editor of the new publication. “We’re trying to reconcile that with this study guide by providing information that can help people to make up their own minds.”

The booklet’s five essays, written by eminent Episcopal and Anglican theologians, review human sexuality within the context of scripture, tradition, ethics and liturgy, followed by eight pages of discussion questions. The publication, however, does not pretend to be an objective presentation of different opinions.

“Presenting disparate views on the issue is not the purpose of this study guide,” Meyers said. “The purpose is to show why we believe GLBT persons are a part of God’s gift to us.”

Meanwhile, Resolution B012 Pastoral Generosity in Addressing Civil Marriage was considered at legislative hearings.

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That this 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church acknowledge the pastoral concerns facing those dioceses in states where the civil marriage of same gender couples is legal; and be it further

Resolved, That in those dioceses, under the direction of the bishop, generous discretion is extended to clergy in the exercise of their pastoral ministry in order to permit the adaptation of the Pastoral Offices for The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage and The Blessing of a Civil Marriage for use with all couples who seek the church’s support and God’s blessing in their marriages; and be it further

Resolved, That in order to build a body of experience for the benefit of the church, each bishop in those dioceses where this pastoral practice is exercised provide an annual written report on their experience to the House of Bishops each March and to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music for its report to the 77th General Convention.

See ENS report Resolution to allow ‘generous discretion’ for same-sex blessings draws passionate debate.

Episcopal Café also has reports, Hearing no objections and Chicago Consultation reception draws quite a crowd.

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Archbishop visits General Convention

Updated Saturday

The Archbishop of Canterbury is at Anaheim, California, where the American General Convention is being held.

Reports of his visit, from ENS:

Global economics a ‘crisis of truthfulness,’ Archbishop of Canterbury tells convention

Describing the global economic downturn as a “crisis of truthfulness,” Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams addressed more than 2,000 people attending a July 8 forum in Anaheim, California, as part of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention.

During the last six to nine months, Williams said, “we have suddenly discovered we have been lying to ourselves. For the last decade or more there has been a steady erosion of trust in our financial life. Our word has not been our bond. We have learned to tolerate high levels of evasion and anti-relational practices.

“We have lied to ourselves about the possibility of profit without risk,” Williams told those gathered at the forum, titled Christian Faithfulness in the Global Economic Crisis.

“We have lied to ourselves consistently about the possibility of limitless material growth in a limited world. We have denied precisely that ubuntu that this convention seeks to venerate and reinforce,” Williams added, referring to the convention theme that emphasizes the interconnectedness of people in community…

Archbishop hears from cross section of Episcopal Church

…In addition to observing the work of the House of Bishops, Williams met with members of the convention’s official youth presence, the House of Deputies president’s council of advice and a small group of lesbian and gay deputies. He also met with provisional and assisting bishops in the four dioceses that are reorganizing after the majority of their members and leadership left the church…

And from Episcopal Café

Anderson and advisors meet with Archbishop Williams

…Anderson said she and her council expressed to Williams their concern that communications and requests to the Episcopal Church are typically addressed only to the Church’s House of Bishops, which does not have authority, on its own, to respond to them.

“We are a church of more than one order of voices,” Anderson said to several reporters after the meeting.

Sally Johnson, Anderson’s chancellor and a deputy from the Diocese of Minnesota, said that the group told Williams it hoped that requests to the Episcopal Church be addressed to the Episcopal Church, rather than to the House of Bishops. “Allow The Episcopal Church to decide for it who decides,” she said.

“No one can respond and bind the Episcopal Church except the General Convention,” Johnson added. “These may seem like fine distinctions to other people, but to us they are foundational…“

The archbishop also attended the opening service where the Presiding Bishop preached.

Dave Walker explains how to follow General Convention on the internet.

Update
The full text of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s meditation at the eucharist is available here.

Archbishop of Canterbury visits Santa Ana preschoolers

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Thursday, 2 July 2009

some silly things

Dave Walker has collected some weird items in a posting at the Church Times blog titled The Church Society on ‘strange vestments and ceremonies’.

And something even weirder crops up in an article for the Washington Times by Julia Duin titled New Anglicans split on women.

I queried retired Eau Claire, Wis., Bishop William Wantland, an old friend and an ardent opponent of ordaining women. He reminded me that 22 of the ACNA’s 28 dioceses do not allow female priests. It’s a system known as “dual integrity,” dioceses that differ on a question where Scripture can be read both ways agree to respect and live with each other’s views.

I asked him if he wanted the ACNA to eventually outlaw ordaining women entirely.

“Of course. That’s our mission,” he said. “Christ is the bridegroom and the church is the bride. The priest at the altar is an icon of Christ. What image is that if the person at the altar is a woman? It’s a lesbian relationship.”

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Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Williams to meet gay Episcopalians

ENS has this report:
Private meeting with Williams at convention will address sexuality, ministry

Eight members of the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies are scheduled meet privately with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at General Convention in a session that is intended in part to address lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues in the church.

General Convention meets July 8-17 in Anaheim, California, and Williams will be present July 7-9.

The session is not an official convention meeting and thus there has been no announcement of the plans. However, when contacted by Episcopal News Service, the Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe of the Diocese of California confirmed the details.

Barlowe said that he and the other deputies understood the meeting was to be brief and private, but that it was not a secret…

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secret theology committee unmasked

Lisa Fox has published all but two of the names of the group studying same-sex relationships. For background here is the early June report.

See The Formerly Secret Panel (go to original source for live links)

So here are eight of the ten theologians serving on the panel to study same-sex relationships.

Co-facilitators:

* The Rt. Rev. Joe G. Burnett, Bishop of Nebraska (webpage here)
* Ellen Charry, Princeton Theological Seminary (webpage here)

Members:

* Deirdre J. Good, General Theological Seminary (webpage here)
* Willis Jenkins, Yale Divinity School (webpage here)
* The Rev. Grant LeMarquand, Trinity School for Ministry (webpage here)
* Eugene Rogers, University of North Carolina, Greensboro (webpage here)
* The Rev. George Sumner, Wycliffe College, Toronto (webpage here)
* The Rev. Daniel A. Westberg of Nashotah House (webpage here; see page 3 of the newsletter)

The Chicago Consultation has issued this press release:

CHICAGO, July 1, 2009—Ruth Meyers, Hodges Haynes Professor of Liturgics at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, General Convention deputy from the Diocese of Chicago, and co-convener of the Chicago Consultation, responded to the news that the names of most members of the House of Bishops Theology Committee panel on same-sex blessings have been made public:

“Continued scholarly work, done with particular attention to the work of the Holy Spirit in committed, life-long, monogamous unions of faithful gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Episcopalians, can liberate the church to discern more fully the work of the Spirit in all life-long unions of fidelity and mutual love. We wish this panel well, and we call upon General Convention to enrich its theological work by establishing a common rite for the blessing of unions across the Episcopal Church.”

“We commit to praying for each of these theologians and their co-chairs by name, and we hope that the remaining two members of the panel will choose to come forward publicly so that we may begin General Convention next week with the spirit of openness and transparency that characterizes our polity and our common life…”

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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Fort Worth correspondence

Bishop Jack Iker has today issued a Memo to All Diocesan Clergy.

In recent days I understand that all of you have received two threatening letters from representatives of the rump diocese. The first is a letter from The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick, Jr., the Bishop of Kentucky, in a capacity he claims as the “Provisional Bishop” of the rump diocese, threatening to inhibit and then depose you if you do not recognize his authority over you as your bishop. The second is a letter from Jonathan Nelson, legal counsel for the Gulick-led group, addressed to our vestries, treasurers, and finance committee members, as well as to all our vicars and rectors. It too is meant to intimidate and control us. It is the preliminary notification that will lead to additional lawsuits to be brought against us by The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (PECUSA). Both of these letters are now in the hands of our attorneys, and they will be responding on our behalf. There is nothing you need to do at this point in time. We are no longer members of PECUSA and are not subject to their discipline. It is indeed regrettable that they find it necessary to engage in such harsh, uncharitable tactics, rather than enter into negotiation…

The documents to which this responds are appended as PDF files:
Letter to clergy
Letter to churches
They were reported on by the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth in this news release, dated 29 May.

And there are two further documents published today by Bishop Iker:
Litigation Perspective
Archbishop Venables writes to the diocesan clergy

Earlier in the month, the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth had issued this formal response to a document filed in court on 8 May by the lawyers for Bishop Iker.

Read about it at The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth files response to motion to dismiss suit to recover property and assets of the Episcopal Church.

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General Convention is near

Episcopal Café has published two important articles relating to The Episcopal Church. Only the first one is, at present, scheduled for discussion at the triennal General Convention which starts on 8 July.

GC and B033: a preview and an analysis by Jim Naughton explains what may happen in relation to the moratorium in TEC on consecrating bishops who are in same-sex relationships.

Nick Knisely in Report on communing the unbaptized released introduces the text of a report from the House of Bishops Theology Committee entitled REFLECTIONS ON HOLY BAPTISM AND THE HOLY EUCHARIST.

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Friday, 12 June 2009

California church properties returned

ENS reports: California appellate court rules La Crescenta property belongs to Los Angeles diocese.

California appellate court’s June 9 ruling was the latest in a series of recent developments that return disputed church properties to three California Episcopal dioceses.

On June 9, the San Diego-based Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled unanimously that the Diocese of Los Angeles is legal owner of property currently occupied by St. Luke’s Anglican Church. The congregation had cited theological differences when severing ties to the Episcopal Church (TEC) in 2006 and realigning with an Anglican diocese in Uganda.

In unrelated agreements, displaced Episcopalians will return July 1 to two other disputed properties, St. John’s Church in Petaluma, in the Diocese of Northern California and St. Paul’s Church in Modesto in the Diocese of San Joaquin…

See also news reports:

Dispute over old church resolved
Breakaway Petaluma congregation returns building to Episcopal Church

and

Church ruling upheld
Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles wins another property battle

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Thursday, 4 June 2009

mediation ends dispute in Colorado

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports ‘Everyone just agreed to walk away’ from Grace Church dispute.

Litigation over the Grace Church property downtown seemed destined to drag on for years.

But all that changed Tuesday.

In a marathon mediation session, the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado agreed to drop its lawsuit against 18 Anglican parish members being sued for damages. Also several motions, including an appeal of the March 24 court decision upholding the diocese’s ownership of the Tejon Street church property, were quashed…

And there is this earlier report, Dispute over Grace church property settled.

A press release found at the website of the CANA congregation says:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2009

St. George’s Responds to Settlement with the Diocese of Colorado

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – St. George’s Anglican Church issued the following statement in response to the settlement agreement reached with the Diocese of Colorado:

“We are pleased with the settlement, particularly since it relieved our staff and vestry members of the burden and expense of defending against $5 million in unjustified claims brought against them personally by the Diocese of Colorado and The Episcopal Church.

“The settlement reached also means that all the costs associated with maintaining the property of Grace Church and St. Stephens, including payment of the $2,500,000 mortgage, belong to the Episcopal congregation and the Diocese of Colorado.

“Our only remaining obligation is to pay final operational expenses we had incurred during our possession of the property, but were unauthorized to pay until this settled agreement was reached.

“We look forward to fulfilling God’s call to us for mission and ministry.”

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Tuesday, 2 June 2009

secret theology committee

Updated again Saturday evening

Here’s a very surprising story from the USA about the Episcopal Church.

Episcopal Café Secret theology committee studies same sex relationships

The House of Bishops Theology Committee is refusing to release the names of members of a sub-committee it has appointed to study same-sex relationships. The existence of the panel was first reported in the Blue Book, which contains information relevant to General Convention, 2009. However, the Rt. Rev. Henry Parsley of Alabama, chair of the Theology Committee has refused several requests to disclose the names of its members.

The anonymity of the panel raises serious concerns in the Church that prides itself on the transparency of its representative form of governance. In addition, the work of this secret panel has already been cited by some bishops as a reason to delay further legislative action on the issue of same-sex relationships until the panel finishes its work in 2011…

The Chicago Consultation has issued a press release:
CHICAGO CONSULTATION CALLS FOR HOUSE OF BISHOPS THEOLOGY COMMITTEE TO RELEASE NAMES OF SCHOLARS STUDYING SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS

…However, we are saddened that the House of Bishops Theology Committee has chosen to begin this important scholarly work without making public the names of the bishops, theologians and scholars who are serving on this panel. The theological study of human sexuality is essential to our common life, to our mission and evangelism, and to our ability to live out our baptismal promises. Such important work deserves to be no less than a model of the transparent governance that the Episcopal Church has upheld for centuries.

As theologians, priests, bishops and laypeople from across the Episcopal Church, we call upon the House of Bishops Theology Committee to release at once the names of those serving on the panel it has appointed to study same-sex relationships. We commit to praying for them by name and to providing our assistance as they continue their work…

Update

EpiScope reports this statement From the HOB Theology Committee:

The following is a statement from the chair of the HOB Theology Committee.

By the Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley, Jr.
Chair, Theology Committee of the House of Bishops

In response to questions that have been raised about the panel of theologians appointed by the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops to prepare a paper on same-sex relationships in the life of the church, I wish to assure those concerned that the panel very intentionally represents a robust range of views on the subject and includes gay and lesbian persons.

This project has been designed in full communication with the House of Bishops. It has always been the committee’s intention to publish the names of the panel when the work has reached the appropriate stage. We believe that for a season the work can best be accomplished by allowing the panel to work in confidence. This supports the full collegiality and academic freedom of the theologians and provides the space they need for the deep dialogue and reflection that is taking place among them.

This project is designed to articulate theologically a full range of views on the matter of same sex relationships in the church’s life and to foster better understanding and respectful discernment among us. It will also be a contribution to the listening process of the larger Communion. It has several stages and is scheduled to be complete by early 2011. We are grateful to the distinguished theologians for their generous service to the church.

We wish to invite any member of the church who wishes to address the panel to send comments to the Theology Committee. We will see that these are communicated to the theologians to enrich their reflection and dialogue.

Comments should be directed to the chair of the committee, Bishop Henry Parsley, at hparsley@dioala.org.

ENS has a full report now, see Bishops’ Theology Committee chair declines to release names of same-gender study group.

Saturday evening update

Here’s a further twist to this strange tale. Frank Lockwood reports at Bible Belt Blogger that

Facing criticism for withholding information from its 2.3 million members, the Episcopal Church has quietly removed from its new IAmEpiscopalian.org website assurances that the church is committed to openness and transparency in government.

For months, the site had proclaimed on its home page: “Our controversies and conversations have been public. Our governance is transparent. You are free to see our imperfections…” (See a copy of the original message here.)

But sometime this week, after the church was repeatedly criticized for concealing key governance decisions from the people in the pews, the “transparency” and “openness” message disappeared.

Mark Harris doesn’t think this change is related to the above story. But even if it isn’t the original story is still very surprising. It even made the Church Times this week, see Name gay study group, say activists.

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Saturday, 30 May 2009

news from the world of realigning dioceses

From San Joaquin:

ENS Final depositions for 61 disaffiliated clergy

Press release Letters of deposition sent

PDF of deposition notice

Bishop Schofield responds, see here.

From Fort Worth:

ENS Bishop asks clergy to verify decision to leave

Press release Bishop Gulick sends letters to clergy who left the Episcopal Church

PDF of letter from Bishop Gulick

From Pittsburgh:

TEC Hearing Conducted In Diocesan Assets Case

Southern Cone Legal Update- May 27 Hearing

For an eyewitness account see Lionel Deimel My Day in Court.

PDF of TEC intervention here

PDF of Bp Duncan’s filing here

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Friday, 24 April 2009

Litmus test or Dar replay?

As noted in the preceding item, the Church Times has reported that the Covenant is to be used as litmus test of Anglicanism.

Now, the Daily Episcopalian asks a related question, The Anglican Covenant: Dar by other means?

Jim Naughton writes:

Is it possible that proposed Anglican Covenant is a means of achieving a modified version of the Dar es Salaam settlement proposed by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in 2007?

The communiqué released after that meeting proposed a “pastoral scheme”, which created a church within a church led by almost exactly the same bishops who signed the factually challenged document on diocesan autonomy released yesterday by the Anglican Communion Institute.

The ACI, with Fulcrum in the United Kingdom, were influential in creating the pastoral scheme and articulating the Camp Allen principles that were also endorsed by the Primates. The Dar settlement was almost unanimously rejected by the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops, (which, as Sally Johnson chancellor to Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies, has demonstrated, did not have the constitutional authority to affirm it.) Despite its rejection, the leaders of the ACI continued to press for its provisions to be imposed on the Episcopal Church, even though the Dar settlement makes no provisions for this eventuality, and the Primates Meeting lacks the authority to force settlements on member Churches…

The Church Times reported:

…The Anglican Partner bishops have declared themselves to be loyal to the Episcopal Church and to the Anglican Communion. Their move can be seen as an alternative path to that taken by the Common Cause Anglicans in the United States, who last year established the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) under the deposed Bishop of Pittsburgh, the Rt Revd Bob Duncan.

None the less, their latest move to use the Covenant as a test of orthodoxy parallels moves by the ACNA last week. The Covenant has been criticised by conservatives in the past, and the first version of a communiqué issued by the GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) Primates in London last week appeared to be sceptical about the latest draft of the Covenant (the “Ridley draft”, News, 17 April): “While we support the concept of an Anglican Covenant . . . if those who have left the standards of the Bible are able to enter the Covenant with a good conscience, it seems to be of little use.”

This was later changed to: “We welcome the Ridley Cambridge Draft Covenant and call for principled response from the provinces.”

Interviewed at Heathrow on Thursday of last week, Bishop Duncan said that the Covenant would be debated at the ACNA provincial assembly in June. “We imagine that, while we as the Anglican Church in North Ameri-can ratify the Covenant, neither the US Church, when it meets three weeks later, nor the Church of Canada, when it has its next general synod, will be in any hurry to ratify it. The question will be for the Communion: ‘Who actually are the partners?’”

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More on the CP/ACI statement

The Church Times has this report by Pat Ashworth US contingency plan asserts diocesan autonomy and there is a second, related report Covenant is to be used as litmus test of Anglicanism.

The first article has moved on the CT website: please follow the above link, and then scroll down, in order to find the first article above!

Matthew Davies has written about it for ENS see Communion Partners statement challenges Episcopal Church polity.

The Chicago Consultation has issued this Response to Anglican Communion Institute statement.

The Living Church has a report, Bishops: Church’s Doctrine, Worship, Polity in ‘Grave Peril’.

Mark Harris who first broke this story, has written a second note, Cleaning out the Stalls.

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Wednesday, 22 April 2009

CP/ACI statement published

The predicted statement has now been published.

See Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church, at the ACI website.

There is also a separate item there, Statement from the Anglican Communion Institute signed only by The Revd Canon Professor Christopher Seitz. This responds to the original publication of email extracts by The Revd Canon Mark Harris.

The entire email correspondence has now been published as a PDF file over here.

Earlier, an unofficial copy of the formal ACI document was published, also as a PDF here.

The Bishops’ Statement has been signed by 15 bishops. The list is as follows:

  • The Right Reverend James M. Adams, Jr. Bishop of Western Kansas
  • The Right Reverend Peter H. Beckwith Bishop of Springfield
  • The Right Reverend William C. Frey Assisting Bishop of Rio Grande; Retired Bishop of Colorado
  • The Right Reverend Alden M. Hathaway Retired Bishop of Pittsburgh
  • The Right Reverend John W. Howe Bishop of Central Florida
  • The Right Reverend Russell E. Jacobus Bishop of Fond du Lac
  • The Right Reverend Paul E. Lambert Bishop Suffragan of Dallas
  • The Right Reverend Mark J. Lawrence Bishop of South Carolina
  • The Right Reverend Edward S. Little II Bishop of Northern Indiana
  • The Right Reverend William H. Love Bishop of Albany
  • The Right Reverend D. Bruce MacPherson Bishop of Western Louisiana
  • The Right Reverend Edward L. Salmon, Jr. Retired Bishop of South Carolina
  • The Right Reverend Michael G. Smith Bishop of North Dakota
  • The Right Reverend James M. Stanton Bishop of Dallas
  • The Right Reverend Don A. Wimberly Bishop of Texas

Also Endorsed By:
- The Reverend Canon Professor Christopher Seitz
- The Reverend Dr. Philip Turner
- The Reverend Dr. Ephraim Radner
(The Anglican Communion Institute, Inc.)

The name of Mark McCall, the actual author, does not appear in the published document.

According to the emails and the draft version of the document, the following four additional signatures were sought:
list amended Thursday morning

The Right Reverend John C. Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee
The Right Reverend Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of Rhode Island
The Right Reverend Gary R. Lillibridge, Bishop of West Texas
The Right Reverend C. Andrew Doyle, Bishop Coadjutor of Texas

Various blogs have commented on this story, including:
In A Godward Direction BS from ACI
BabyBlue Draft of Communion Partners Statement on the Polity of The Episcopal Chuch is seized and leaked by Episcopal progressive activists
Integrity Integrity Applauds “Outing” of Communion Partners Network
Telling Secrets Anglican Teabagging
Episcopal Café ACI releases statement and Breaking III: Integrity publishes CP/ACI draft document
Articles of Faith Episcopal email conspiracy unwrapped
Washington Blade Episcopal leaders look to enhance anti-gay schism: source

An Inch At A Time: Reflections on the Journey Nancy Drew and The Case of the Errant Anglican Emails added Thursday morning

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 22 April 2009 at 10:30pm BST | Comments (29) | TrackBack
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CP/ACI and Pittsburgh

The arguments being put forward by Communion Partners about the autonomy of TEC dioceses apply also of course to those dioceses which now claim to have left TEC. And the ACI is clearly aware that the forthcoming CP statement could be used in the litigation which is ensuing in relation to those dioceses (San Joaquin, Fort Worth, Quincy, and Pittsburgh). Here are three further quotes from the same thread of emails:

…by ‘support’ do you mean, support for the Bishops signing this document to be posted at ACI and used in the Pittsburgh case? Mark McCall can evaluate that better than I, but in terms of sending a message about where the CP Rectors are, this could I think be helpful. It will not go out as a CP Bishops statement, however, but rather as a statement endorsed by individual Bishops, all of whom are of course also CP Bishops.

…On the second purpose of the Bishops’ Statement—to serve as a resource for the litigation and the expert testimony—the general principle is the more support the better, although on this front, it is the bishops’ signatures that matter the most. The only thing that would hurt is a format that implies more signatures should have been attached, e.g., if your statement were open to all rectors but only a handful actually signed on.

…there were significant developments in the Pittsburgh litigation while we were in Houston. There was a flurry of filings and a ruling yesterday permitting +Buchanan (with Beers as counsel) to intervene. This is merely a procedural ruling. Beers now has to prove what he has alleged (subordination, etc.). As some of you know, I have always regarded this procedural ruling as a foregone conclusion, but +Duncan’s counsel opposed it vigorously. I was somewhat concerned that they were wasting credibility with the judge, but they know this better than I. There will still be substantial procedural wrangling in Pittsburgh over the terms of the settlement agreement reached three years ago between +Duncan and Harold Lewis+, so the substantive issues we are concerned with will come up later in Pittsburgh than in San Joaquin. I believe, however, that the failure of the procedural tactic by +Duncan’s lawyers means that these substantive issues will eventually be decisive in Pittsburgh. (I have a great deal of respect for +Duncan’s current lawyer, John Lewis. He is trying to get out of a deep hole dug by Duncan’s former counsel in the disastrous Harold Lewis litigation. Bishop Duncan has been badly served in the past by my profession.)

So it is not entirely clear to me how far the CP members are distancing themselves from those who have left TEC for ACNA.

Update

John Chilton has drawn attention at Episcopal Café to the signature of The Rt. Reverend D. Bruce MacPherson (Communion Partner Bishops) on the document at ACI entitled ACI Statement on Civil Litigation which deals specifically with the TEC intervention in the legal action in Pittsburgh.

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Communion Partners forge ahead

Communion Partners is an organisation of (non-TEC) Primates, TEC bishops and TEC rectors which is closely linked to the Anglican Communion Institute.

The two organisations jointly sponsored a conference last week in Houston, Texas. You can find more information about the conference here, and in this Living Church news report, Archbishop Carey: TEC Likely to ‘Clean Out’ Conservatives.

Their own About Us page says:

In light of our understanding of the integrity of the Dioceses of The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Visitors concept announced by the Presiding Bishop, we have considered a need to maintain and strengthen

  • our ties with the Anglican Communion
  • our fidelity to the canonical realities, integrities and structures of the Episcopal Church
  • and our exercise of our office as a focus of unity.

We believe such ties will provide the opportunity for mutual support, accountability and fellowship; and present an important sign of our connectedness in and vision for the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as we move through this time of stress and renewal.

And the page also discusses Purpose, Scope, Participants, and Transparency. The Primates listed are: Tanzania, West Indies, Jerusalem and Middle East, Burundi, Indian Ocean.

There are lists of TEC bishops and of TEC rectors.

Earlier statements published in the name of the CP group include Common Cause and a New Province.

CP and ACI now intend to publish a formal document shortly, signed by perhaps 18 CP bishops, entitled Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church which argues in detail that TEC is not a hierarchical body and that individual dioceses are autonomous entities. In particular they argue that individual dioceses are free to sign up to the proposed Anglican Covenant, and that it is not necessary to leave TEC and join ACNA in order to do that. The presumption here is that TEC itself will not do so, or at least not in 2009.

Mark Harris has reported on the existence of a thread of emails about this plan, see Heads Up: Lawyer McCall and “Communion Partner” bishops play the diocese card.

The CP bishops and ACI also plan to press ahead with a plan for a priest in Colorado, named as The Revd. Theron Walker, Rector of St Philip In the Field, Sedalia, to request a visitation from the Bishop of South Carolina, as a CP Bishop. Below the fold, are extracts from two of the emails which give full details of this.

email 1:

The other main concern is seeing to a visitation in the name of CP, something now long overdue. We are hoping that Theron Walker requests a CP visitation from +Mark Lawrence, asap, and +Mark will request that +Salmon go in his place, as a CP Visitor. I understand from Philip that +Wimberly has also volunteered his services, as has +Hathaway.

I would request of your advisory group that a series of these visits be planned, asap, and with some sense of organisation, perhaps using these three men. It was usefully pointed out that the places needing support are precisely those where the Bishop is very unclear about his support of Covenant, and so the parishes under him that want this are left to themselves, either to buckle under or leave with the help of AAC/ACNA.

In point of fact, this is not really the case in B-ham with Limehouse, as +Mark reminded me. That said, any parish that wants to underscore their commitment to covenant and CP needs a way to show their people that CP is the way to do this.

The negotiating of this takes place between a CP bishop and the respective Diocesan, but the advisory group of CP can start setting the matter in motion. Only in this way will the PV scheme have a proper foundation, and otherwise it may be stalled for a season. We can however show Lambeth that this way forward works, (if it does), and help parishes resist leaving as the only way forward.

———-
email2:

1) The CO priest will request of +SC, as a CP Bishop, a ‘visitation’,

2) the purpose of which is to prevent his parishioners from concluding that the only route for them is joining ACNA (which will be happening in CO soon) because their Diocesan is not foregrounding his covenant commitments and indeed has ordained an openly homosexual priest, etc, but also has said he means to create space for others’ views, etc;

3) +SC will phone +O’Neil and ask that this request be honored and seek to persuade him of its importance,

4) +SC will ask +Salmon to visit, and will indicate to +CO that +Chane is using Salmon in this way in DC.

At issue here is said parish understanding that they have some connective tissue to a covenant their Diocesan may wish to avoid, without challenging the Diocesan as to his authority, and so underscoring a way to remain in TEC and not leave for ACNA but also to affirm Communion life and differentiation.

Importantly, +SC reminded us that he does not want to get into a quid pro quo situation that, having implemented something like this, the PB makes sure he reciprocates when SSBs pass in General Convention and he is forced to let a proponent of the same do a visitation in SC. Hence, using +Salmon.

But also, hence, the importance of the Pastoral Visitors. They need to come into play in time as independent of deal-making and/or mild forms of extortion.

…at issue here is a) the need to show +RDW and others that CP works at a practical level, and that we have tried, b) that we have not done this by asking something of the PB is is not her right to give, but have worked bishop to bishop, c) that the PVs can in time occupy the space—it is hoped—modelled by the CP initiatives in this regard.
IMPORTANTLY, the visitation in CO, should it happen, needs to be labelled by all as a CP initiative and not just a single ad hoc thing (as in DC).

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Sunday, 19 April 2009

Pittsburgh: legal developments

Updated Monday morning

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh reports that:

A judge has ruled in the Diocese’s favor on several points in its legal dispute with former leaders over the control of diocesan assets.

In a hearing today, April 17, 2009, Judge Joseph James of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, allowed Diocesan Chancellor Andy Roman’s appearance as the attorney for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church. The judge also granted a motion by The Episcopal Church to intervene in the case.

Both matters had been challenged in earlier court filing by attorneys representing former Bishop Robert Duncan and others who left the Episcopal Church last October.

The judge proceeded to order a hearing on the central issue before him, namely, whether a 2005 Court Order and Stipulation agreed to by Duncan and Calvary Episcopal Church requires that diocesan property must remain under the control of a diocese that is part of The Episcopal Church. Attorneys on both sides agreed the question of whether a diocese may leave the Episcopal Church will be reserved for a later hearing and decision, if necessary…

Read the full report at Judge Allows Chancellor’s Role, Episcopal Church Intervention.

Compare this account with the press release found on the website of the “Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican)” emphasis added:

On April 17, lawyers for the diocese attended a hearing before Judge James in Pittsburgh, together with lawyers for Calvary Church, lawyers representing The Episcopal Church (TEC) diocese, and lawyers representing the leadership of the national Episcopal Church.

All parties, including the lawyers for the leadership of national Episcopal Church, agreed that there will be hearing based on the assumption that the diocese’s withdrawal from The Episcopal Church was valid. At that hearing, the court will address whether the October 2004 stipulation in the Calvary Church lawsuit was violated by a valid withdrawal of the diocese from The Episcopal Church. No date for the hearing has yet been set…

Lionel Deimel has additional commentary at A Hearing at Last.

The Living Church reported it this way: Flurry of Motions in Pittsburgh Case.

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Wednesday, 15 April 2009

lawsuit filed in Ft Worth

Updated 24 April

Episcopal Café reports that:

On Tuesday, April 14, 2009, the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the Episcopal Church filed suit in 141st District Court of Tarrant County, Texas in part to recover property and assets of the Episcopal Church. The defendants are former members of the corporation’s board and the former bishop of the diocese, all of whom have left the Episcopal Church.

For the diocesan press release, and a statement by the Presiding Bishop, go here.

For the Pastoral Letter from the Provisional Bishop, see this, or there is a PDF copy here.

To read the petition filed in court, as a PDF, go over here. (1.1 Mb)

The story has been reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as National Episcopal Church sues Fort Worth group over split.

And in the Dallas Morning News it is described as Episcopal Church sues to regain control of Fort Worth-area buildings held by breakaway group.

24 April update

A news report of this event appeared yesterday at the website of the defendants, see Lawsuit served on the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. The earlier comment made by Bishop Iker is here.

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Wednesday, 8 April 2009

news from Virginia

Updated Thursday lunchtime

The Diocese of Virginia has issued a press release: Diocese of Virginia Appeals to Virginia Supreme Court in Order to Protect Religious Liberty in the Commonwealth.

Determined to restore constitutional and legal protections for all churches in Virginia, and to return loyal Episcopalians in Virginia to their Episcopal homes, the Diocese of Virginia today filed a petition to appeal The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. Truro Church, et al.

The Diocese is appealing on a number of grounds, including a challenge to the constitutionality of Virginia’s one-of-a-kind division statute (Va. Code § 57 9(A)) and the rulings of the Circuit Court in applying the law…

The full text of the appeal petition can be read as a PDF file here.

The Anglican District of Virginia has responded with ADV Responds to Appeal by The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia.

FAIRFAX, Va. (April 7, 2009) – In response to the appeal in the Virginia church property litigation filed on Tuesday, April 7 by the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church, the Anglican District of Virginia Vice-Chairman Jim Oakes issued the following statement:

“We are saddened that The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia find it necessary to continue this litigation with an appeal filed during Holy Week. The appeal process will cost additional millions of dollars that could be spent on mission and ministry. Both sides have already spent some $5 million in legal costs, money that could have gone to helping our communities during these tough economic times. The legal victories we’ve had so far in support of our religious freedom have only encouraged us to stand firm in our Anglican faith and work together to deliver the message of Christ.

“Since our final legal victory in December 2008, the Anglican District of Virginia has added two more congregations, bringing out total to 25 congregations and three mission fellowships. This continuing growth here and around the country is tangible evidence of the hunger for orthodox Anglicanism in the U.S. Despite today’s appeal, we will continue to move on with our mission to spread the transforming news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our doors are open to everyone, especially those who thirst for transformation and renewal.”

Thursday update

The Episcopal Church has also filed a petition, see The Episcopal Church’s Petition to the Supreme Court of Virginia to Hear Appeal (PDF).

There is a full article at ENS about all this, VIRGINIA: Diocese, Episcopal Church ask state Supreme Court to review property rulings by Mary Frances Schjonberg.

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Monday, 6 April 2009

North American news roundup

ACNA has published its draft constitution and canons, see ACNA Canons Published, Comments Welcome for more detail.

The Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) has paid the Anglican diocese of Niagara $20,000, which it was awarded for legal costs by an Ontario Superior Court ruling. See Diocese of Niagara awarded $20,000 in legal costs at Anglican Journal.

The Falls Church congregation which split from TEC has issued a request to help pay legal bills. See the text of the letter sent as a PDF, and for background on the property development mentioned, see this news article in the Falls Church News-Press. (H/T Episcopal Café)

And in Colorado Springs, there are reports of the successful transfer of occupancy of Grace and St Stephens Church. See ENS report Colorado Springs parishioners celebrate Palm Sunday homecoming, and also in the Colorado Springs Gazette For two churches, a new beginning.

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Sunday, 5 April 2009

news from Quincy

The Peoria Journal-Star reports Top Episcopal Church bishop visits Peoria.

An unprecedented visit to Peoria on Saturday by the top leader of the Episcopal Church was welcomed by some local churches but was largely ignored by the 19 that have broken away from the national organization.

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, called a special synod at St. Paul’s Cathedral to name new leadership within the Peoria-based Diocese of Quincy and “to get the diocese back on its feet.”

More detail is available in this ENS report Joy, hope and excitement surround formal reorganization of Diocese of Quincy.

Deputies to a special synod meeting of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy acted with dispatch on Saturday, April 4 as they quickly and unanimously elected new leadership, approved a diocesan budget and elected a provisional bishop. The actions were necessary after a majority of deputies at the 2008 annual synod voted to leave the Episcopal Church and realign with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

Deputies elected the Right Rev. John Clark Buchanan, retired bishop of the Diocese of West Missouri, as provisional bishop of the Diocese of Quincy. Buchanan most recently served as interim bishop in the Diocese of Southern Virginia.

The homily preached by the Presiding Bishop is available here.

The Church of England Newspaper has a report Quincy Dioceses files lawsuit against Episcopal Church which says that:

The breakaway Diocese of Quincy has filed suit against the Episcopal Church in an Illinois Court, asking the court to clarify its rights to the name and assets of the diocese.

“We hoped from the beginning to avoid any legal action,” the President of Quincy’s Standing Committee, Fr. John Spencer said on March 31. However, preliminary moves by the national church to seize the diocese’s bank accounts prompted the court filing, he said.

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Friday, 27 March 2009

US Religious Landscape Survey

The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey is available on the web in a variety of formats.

From the Summary:

An extensive new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life details statistics on religion in America and explores the shifts taking place in the U.S. religious landscape. Based on interviews with more than 35,000 Americans age 18 and older, the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey finds that religious affiliation in the U.S. is both very diverse and extremely fluid.

One of the key findings is that:

More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion - or no religion at all. If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, 44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether.

Another of its findings is that Most Mainline Protestants Say Society Should Accept Homosexuality.

Members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, two mainline Protestant denominations, are considering whether to allow the ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians as members of their clergy. The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that majorities of both denominations say that homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society. Among mainline Protestants overall, 56% say homosexuality should be accepted, compared with only about one-in-four evangelical Protestants and four-in-ten members of historically black Protestant churches.

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Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Judgement in Colorado Springs

Updated again Thursday morning

Thursday morning update
Colorado Springs Gazette Judge orders Anglican parish to vacate Grace church by April 3

A judge on Wednesday ordered the Anglican parish that’s been meeting at Grace Church, 631 N. Tejon St., to vacate the building by April 3 at 5 p.m., setting the stage for the exiled Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal parish to hold its first service in the gothic church on Palm Sunday.

Judge Larry Schwartz also ordered the Anglican parish priest, Donald Armstrong, to vacate the rectory, where he lives on Electra Drive in the Skyline Way area, by May 8. This revised the original order issued on Tuesday, which stated that Armstrong would have to vacate by April 1.

——-
Earlier report:

The property dispute in the Diocese of Colorado over Grace and St Stephens parish property has been resolved in favour of the diocese. Many members of the congregation have affiliated with CANA.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports it this way: Armstrong camp loses Tejon Street church report written through extensively and new headline is One group leaving Grace church, one moving in — but when?

From the earlier version:

According to a press release issued by the Rev. Alan Crippen II, a member of the breakway group, Judge Larry Schwartz issued a 28-page ruling that concluded , among other things: “The Diocese over most of its 135 years existence demonstrates a unity of purpose on the part of the parish and general church. … The trust created through past genereations of members of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s prohibits the departing parish members from taking the property with them.”

Crippen said the group is considering an appeal, but is already preparing to move from the historic property.

“We will meet at a new location,” he said in an interview.

Because of the ruling, the congregation’s leader, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, is also losing his rectory, and the church loses its name because it’s so similar to the Episcopal congregation, Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal.

Martin Nussbaum, attorney for the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, expects the move to go quickly.

“We will be in possession of the property no later than next Wednesday,” he said.

The press release from the Diocese of Colorado is available here as a PDF. The content as a web page can be found here at Episcopal Café:

The Bishop and Diocese of Colorado, and the more than 500 members of Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church rejoice today that the members of the Episcopal parish will be returning to their church home as a result of a decision issued by District Court Judge Larry Schwartz. In that ruling, Judge Schwartz found that the historic property is held in trust for the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church and ordered the breakaway congregation that wrongfully took possession of the property two years ago to leave…

There is also a press release from the continuing parish.

The full text of the judgement is on the website of the continuing Episcopal parish as a PDF file.

The website of the CANA-affiliated congregation has its press release here as a PDF file:

“For two years we have been praying for justice in this case, and the Court has now ruled. Judge Schwartz is a fair and honorable man and we appreciate his own sacrifice and considered effort in hearing our case. Our congregation will take some time to review his ruling with our attorneys before we make a formal response.

There is much yet to be settled even with this significant ruling now issued,” said Father Donald Armstrong, rector of Grace Church & St. Stephen’s.

“As to the future of our congregation, it’s the people and not the building that is at the heart of our life in Christ,” Armstrong said. “This decision is one major step out of the ambiguity in which we have lived these past two years and will allow us to more readily refocus on gospel work and service. At the very least this is an occasion for renewal and recommitment to the essential things of gospel work. Our Plan B is well-developed, exciting, and will be announced shortly.”

and:

“This is a new beginning for Grace Church & St. Stephen’s in its partnership with CANA,” said the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, missionary bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA).

“Grace Church has a glorious heritage and an exciting future ahead of it. Although this decision is disappointing, the congregation and its leadership in Don Armstrong are strong in their commitment to gospel work and the renewal of Anglicanism in Colorado Springs and beyond. I fully expect that its members will quickly recover
from the sad loss of their historic place of worship. Knowing the people of Grace Church and their buoyant optimism, I anticipate that the parish’s best days are yet ahead.”

Update Wednesday morning

Episcopal News Service has a detailed report at Diocese of Colorado, Episcopal Church prevail in Grace and St. Stephen’s church property dispute by Pat McCaughan. It includes this:

Armstrong, who became rector of the congregation in 1987, is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation into allegations he misappropriated parish funds. No criminal charges have as yet been filed in that matter, although parish financial records and computers were seized during a November 2008 police raid.

A year earlier, an ecclesiastical court had judged Armstrong guilty of financial improprieties and sentenced him to deposition from ordained ministry. On September 26, 2007, the five-member panel of clergy and laity unanimously found him “guilty on all counts … (of) theft of $392,409.93 from Grace Church and causing Grace Church to issue false W-2s and underreport Armstrong’s benefits by $548,097.27,” according to a diocesan spokesperson.

The diocesan court also found Armstrong guilty on four other charges, including receiving illegal loans totaling $122,497.16 as well as “unauthorized encumbrance and alienation of Grace Church’s real property, violation of the temporary inhibition placed on Armstrong and improper use of clergy discretionary funds and failure to maintain proper accounting records.”

and

Local media reported that police were called to the church by Armstrong a few hours after the court’s ruling. Armstrong said that security guards hired by the diocese who were on the property to patrol it were trespassing.

Armstrong told a Colorado Springs Gazette reporter that “they have no right to be on the property until April.”

Other press reports:

Associated Press Breakaway Episcopalians lose bid to keep building

Denver Post Church is Episcopal property, judge says

Colorado Springs Gazette Grace Church timeline

CANA has issued a press release, CANA Responds to Colorado Springs Ruling:

“While we are of course disappointed with today’s ruling, we will continue with our ministry and mission work in Colorado Springs and around the nation,” said CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns. “The Gospel is not spread by church buildings or church property. It is the living Christ that works in people, and we are praying for the orthodox Anglicans in Colorado Springs that the work of the Lord will continue.”

“We remain steadfast in our effort to defend the historic Christian faith across the country. There is clearly a division within The Episcopal Church which broke its relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion and fell out of step with much of Christendom by choosing to redefine and reinterpret Scripture,” Minns concluded.

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Sunday, 8 March 2009

USA: dioceses respond to defections

The Diocese of Quincy is reorganising itself, see ENS report, Diversity embraced as steering committee leads reorganization by Joe Bjordal:

A newly appointed steering committee, representing persons in the Diocese of Quincy who want to remain in the Episcopal Church, has met with the Presiding Bishop in New York, welcomed a bishop as consultant, and released a vision statement and immediate goals for the reorganizing diocese.

Last November, a number of clergy and laypersons in the Peoria, Illinois-based diocese voted to leave the Episcopal Church due to theological disagreements and align with the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

The reorganization moves are in preparation for a special synod meeting which has been called by Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for Saturday, April 4 to be held at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Peoria. In a notice issued February 27, Jefferts Schori called for the synod, saying there was “no bishop of the Diocese of Quincy, or any qualified members of the standing committee of that diocese.”

The notice from the Presiding Bishop can be found in full here.

The Diocese of Fort Worth is seeking to recover control of its assets, see ENS report Continuing diocese requests ‘orderly transfer of assets’ by Pat McCaughan:

The standing committee of the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (Texas) and Provisional Bishop Edwin Gulick have written to former bishop Jack Iker to request a “peaceful and orderly transfer of property and other assets.”

“Our hope is to work together with those who left the Episcopal Church to make this period of transition as painless as possible in what has been a sad time for all of us,” said the Rev. Frederick Barber, president of the standing committee. “Those who left remain our brothers and sisters in Christ. But we also know we have a sacred responsibility to the Episcopalians of the diocese to be good stewards of property that is held in trust for generations of Episcopalians past and to come.”

The March 3 letter, written by chancellor Kathleen Wells, also asked that Iker and others not interfere with the reorganization of the continuing diocese; refrain from using the diocesan logo and seals and meet with representatives of the continuing diocese “to plan the orderly transition” of property and assets. Last November, Iker and some members of the diocese voted to realign with the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

The letter itself can be read in full as a PDF file here.

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Friday, 27 February 2009

Pittsburgh: letter from Bishop Duncan

Updated again Sunday evening

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) has published a Pastoral Letter from Bishop Robert Duncan. The website home page summarises the letter thus:

Bishop Duncan comments on the decision of the new Episcopal Church diocese to reject mediation.

Sunday Update

I should have added some background when posting the above note. First, the previous TA report on the Pittsburgh saga is Pittsburgh: national church seeks intervention.

Subsequent to that report, on 23 February, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh issued a letter dated 18 February, which can be read in full as a PDF over here.

Sunday evening

Lionel Deimel has attempted an analysis of the Duncan letter, see Duncan Letter Decoded.

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Sunday, 15 February 2009

Pittsburgh: national church seeks intervention

Updated again Tuesday evening

Although there is no report of this as yet on Episcopal Life Online, nor at the The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) - which despite former claims to the contrary now appears to have slightly changed its name - there is now confirmation from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of a report from Lionel Deimel that Episcopal Church Asks to Join Calvary Lawsuit.

The actual court filing can be seen here as a PDF.

Deimel wrote:

An objection that the defendants have raised more than once in the lawsuit filed by Calvary Church against now-deposed bishop Robert Duncan and other (now former) leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is that Calvary had no right to sue without The Episcopal Church’s being a party to the suit. Well, Archbishop-in-Waiting Duncan seems about to get his wish. Papers were filed today in the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Bishop John C. Buchanan, Retired Bishop of West Missouri and parliamentarian of the House of Bishops. In a “petition to intervene,” Buchanan, representing The Episcopal Church, asks the court to become a plaintiff in the case…

The diocese wrote:

Today, Friday, February 13, 2009, attorneys representing The Episcopal Church filed a Petition to Intervene in the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s Request to Special Master now pending in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County.

The following statement was issued by the Standing Committee, the current leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh:

“We approve of and welcome The Episcopal Church joining our legal effort to regain control of diocesan assets that are still held by former diocesan leaders. Our request before the court is based on an agreement those former leaders made in court, namely, that diocesan property would unconditionally remain with a diocese that is defined as being part of The Episcopal Church of the United States. We believe the participation of The Episcopal Church in the case will help clarify beyond question who is and who is not rightfully the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh identified in that court agreement.”

Update

Lionel Deimel has published a second article, Further Analysis. In this he notes that the PDF document linked above contains two items. The second document, titled complaint-in-intervention, is analysed in detail by him. He summarises the concluding paragraph as follows:

In particular, The Episcopal Church asks that the court:

a. Declare that the people recognized by The Episcopal Church are the proper authorities to control the assets of the diocese.

b. Declare that property held by and for the Diocese of Pittsburgh may only be used for the mission of The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Pittsburgh, subject to the rules of each.

c. Order the defendants to relinquish all diocesan assets to the proper authorities of the diocese.

d. Require defendants to submit an accounting of all assets held on October 4, 2008,

e. Provide such further relief as may be proper.

Tuesday evening update

ENS now has a report, PITTSBURGH: Episcopal Church petitions to join property case, wants Duncan to vacate offices.

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Friday, 6 February 2009

Fort Worth moves forward

Updated Sunday morning

The Convention of the Diocese of Fort Worth is due to hold a special meeting tomorrow.

The Presiding Bishop will attend tomorrow, and will preside and preach at the eucharist preceding the meeting, and again on Sunday morning. The meeting will elect a provisional bishop to replace Bishop Jack Iker.

The recommended candidate is Rt. Rev. Edwin F. “Ted” Gulick Jr., Bishop of Kentucky.

Earlier this week Bishop Jack Iker announced that he was relinquishing all claims on four of the parishes of the diocese. See this press release, Diocese Releases Four Parishes, and the associated supporting documents. See also this press release from The Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians about it. There are several more parishes not affiliated with Bishop Iker.

The Dallas Morning News carried this front page report today: Episcopal divide in Fort Worth still wide open by Sam Hodges.

Sunday morning update

ENS reports: FORT WORTH: Gulick unanimously elected provisional bishop.

A pastoral letter from Bishop Gulick can be found here (PDF).

Local newspaper reports:

Fort Worth Star-Telegram Fort Worth-area Episcopalians elect provisional bishop and Reorganized Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth elects a new bishop.

Dallas Morning News Fort Worth congregations loyal to Episcopal Church reorganize.

Meanwhile, Bishop Iker announced 23 Clergy Released from Canonical Residency.

Katie Sherrod writes about it here.

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Saturday, 31 January 2009

Episcopal Church response to Covenant

The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church has published its latest response to the St Andrew’s Draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

The response is in a PDF file available here.

There is also a covering press release. Some excerpts:

[Episcopal News Service — Stockton, California] The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council said January 30 that the church “remains committed to the Communion-wide process of conversation towards an Anglican covenant.”

“At the same time, TEC wants to emphasize that matters of moral authority and interdependence amongst churches result from mutuality, not regulation,” the council wrote its response to the St. Andrew’s Draft of the proposed covenant.

“Care needs to be taken that our conversations around an Anglican covenant do not draw us necessarily toward a hierarchical model of a church union or even the perception of Anglicanism as a singular global church,” the response said…

…Council’s covenant response reiterates the Episcopal Church’s stance that participation in the covenant development process “does not implicitly commit” the church to ultimately approving a covenant. And it makes clear that only the General Convention can sign the church onto such a document. It predicts that such approval would not come until at least 2012 and not until at least 2015 if such approval was deemed to require changes to the Episcopal Church’s constitution…

…In response to the Joint Standing Committee’s question about what changes are needed in the St. Andrew’s Draft, the council offered nearly five pages of section-by-section comments. It raised the most concern over the process (that begins to be described in Section 3.2.5) to be employed when any proposed or enacted measures at the provincial or local level “are deemed to threaten the unity of the Communion and the effectiveness or credibility of its mission.”

Calling it “the most problematic section,” the response said the process that involves consultation, mediation, and communion-wide evaluation is “overly juridical.” The council said that from the time an Anglican covenant was proposed in an appendix to the 2004 Windsor Report, there has been a movement “calling for the beginnings of inter-Anglican canon law or, if not that, inter-Anglican processes for negotiations and settlement of disputes and concerns.” Council summed up its comments by asking, “How does the covenant help us look like Christ?” and asked how it helps Anglicans recognize Christ in each other…

The recent Church of England response to the same draft was reported here.

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Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Bishop Henry Scriven

Updated again Saturday morning

There have been several confusing reports about Bishop Henry Scriven’s status as a bishop.

ENS reported Presiding Bishop accepts two bishops’ voluntary renunciation of orders.

Religious Intelligence reported US Presiding Bishop deposes Church of England Bishop

…On Oct 16, Bishop Scriven wrote to Bishop Schori to inform her that he was returning to the Britain to take up the post of director of South American ministry for SAMS-CMS. Ordained in the Church of England, Bishop Scriven was consecrated in 1995 as Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe by Archbishop George Carey. In 2002, Bishop Scriven became the Assistant Bishop of Pittsburgh in the Episcopal Church. Following Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan’s deposition from office as Bishop of Pittsburgh on Sept 19, Bishop Scriven’s position in the US church was terminated.

In his letter, Bishop Scriven informed Bishop Schori he was returning to the UK to take up the SAMS-CMS post and had been appointed an Honorary Assistant Bishop and would be under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Oxford.

In her response of Nov 12, Bishop Schori acknowledged that Bishop Scriven was now a Bishop of the Church of England, and said she would “release you from your orders in this Church” for reasons “not effecting moral character.” Bishop Schori added that she believed “that subtlety was lost on some of our Communion partners” over her understanding of canon law, as her action would not undo the “indelible” mark of ordination, but was a housekeeping action that would end his licence to serve in the US Church.

However, before Bishop Schori’s tenure as Presiding Bishop, bishops who left the US church to serve in other provinces were not released from their orders, but transferred to other churches…

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has issued a statement:

An article that appeared on Episcopal Life Online on January 23, 2009 reported that Bishop Henry Scriven, the former Assistant Bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, had renounced his orders and that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, had accepted that renunciation. Although the article may suggest otherwise, the Standing Committee understands that this action was not in any sense a disciplinary action or an action taken because of Bishop Scriven’s support for the attempt to realign the Diocese with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

Before he relocated to England, Bishop Scriven had submitted his resignation as a member of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, inasmuch as he was planning to return to England and serve as Assistant to the Bishop of Oxford. In order to permit that, the Canons required that he be released from his orders in the Episcopal Church for reasons not affecting his moral character, which is what occurred. This is a routine way of permitting Bishop Scriven to continue his ministry. Orders in the Church themselves are indelible, but licensing is required to exercise them.

The Standing Committee gives thanks for the gracious way in which Bishop Scriven exercised his ministry in the Episcopal Church while he served here as Assistant Bishop and we hope he and his wife Catherine will visit us in the future.

Friday morning update

The Church Times has a report by Pat Ashworth ‘Really weird’, but Scriven bears no ill will on orders.

…Bishop Scriven described the letter he received in November releasing him from his orders as “really weird”. He retained it but did not respond to it. The promised certificate releasing Bishop Scriven from his orders did not reach him personally, “though, to be fair, she might have tried as I was wandering round the world,” he said on Wednesday.

The correspondence is now in the public domain. “I had no desire to publish these letters until the thing was announced but was then very happy for them to be released,” Bishop Scriven said. “Hers was a very gracious letter but I was kind of boggled by the language really. It’s two nations divided by the same language, it seems to me. I bear no ill will, and I think it’s a storm in a teacup really…

There is a further report from ENS which notes PITTSBURGH: Standing Committee acknowledges Scriven’s service to diocese.

The Anglican Communion Institute has published Is The Renunciation of Orders Routine?

Saturday update

Andrew Carey has also weighed in, see A dangerous move by the Americans.

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Sunday, 25 January 2009

reports from Virginia

The Diocese of Virginia held its annual Council meeting yesterday. A number of resolutions were passed. They included this one:

R-4a Blessedness of Covenanted Relationships

RESOLVED, that the Diocese of Virginia recognizes our responsibility to respond to the pastoral needs of our faithful gay and lesbian members in a spirit of love, compassion and respect, and in doing so seek to fulfill our baptismal commitment to respect the dignity of every human being; and be it further

RESOLVED, that accordingly the 214th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia affirms the inherent integrity of and blessededness of committed Christian relationships between two adult persons, when those relationships are “characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God.” (Resolution 2000-D039 of the 73rd General Convention of the Episcopal Church).

Two other resolutions on related topics were not passed, but were referred to an already existing diocesan Windsor Dialogue Commission. For details of these resolutions see:
R-5: Allowing Clergy To Exercise Pastoral Care In Blessing the Unions Of Same-Gender Couples
R-6: Inclusiveness in Ordained Ministry

According to Episcopal Café another highlight of the event was this:

…the longest applause came during the closing remarks of the chaplain for this year’s 214th Annual Council. Archbishop Barry Morgan, Primate of Wales, said Wales was in the same boat as The Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church and he would resist the formation of an alternative North American province with, in his words, “every fiber of my being.” The room jumped to its feet with applause and cheering.

The report of the Windsor Dialogue Commission is a PDF file here. Appendices 2 and 3 contain liturgies in Thanksgiving for a Committed Relationship and for Friendship.

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Friday, 23 January 2009

two American news items

Updated Sunday lunchtime

First, George Conger reports in the Church of England Newspaper that those Brazilians, who earlier had affiliated with the Province of the Southern Cone, have now decided to migrate to the new grouping being formed in North America. See Brazilian diocese links with the Americans.

The synod of the Diocese of Recife has voted to leave the shelter of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone and affiliate with the third province movement in North America.

At its Dec 4-6 meeting in Jaboatão dos Guararapes the ex-Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) diocese voted to join with the ex-Episcopal Church dioceses of Pittsburgh, Quincy, Fort Worth and San Joaquin, along with a number of continuing American and Canadian Anglican and African-led jurisdictions, to form the new province.

The move from the Southern Cone to the third province will take place in June at the Anglican Church in North America’s founding convocation in Fort Worth…

Update Sunday
Anglican Mainstream has published this Important correction from Diocese of Recife which says this is not correct.

It was a surprise to all of us from the Diocese of Recife to read the title and the internal affirmation of the article “The Synod of the Diocese of Recife has voted to leave the shelter of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone and affiliate with the third province movement in North America”. We had no debate or deliberation in the Synod of this subject…

Second, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Morgan Stanley has frozen the accounts of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh because it is unsure who should be allowed to access them. See Schism causes Morgan Stanley to freeze Episcopalian accounts.

Financial services firm Morgan Stanley has frozen the accounts of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh because it is unsure who should be allowed to access them.

In a letter Jan. 13, the firm said it would not allow any further distributions until it received a court order listing those authorized to use the accounts…

Related to this, the diocese has published Information On Recent Court Filings by Southern Cone Group.

On January 20, 2009, the attorneys for former Bishop Duncan and other former leaders of the Diocese who now regard themselves to be affiliated with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone filed three motions with the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County seeking to oppose the “Request to Special Master” that had been filed jointly by the Diocese and Calvary Episcopal Church on January 8, 2009…

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Monday, 12 January 2009

Anglican angles on Obama's inauguration

Updated again Friday evening

First, there was the invitation to Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church to give the formal invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration. There was a lot of negative reaction to this, but more recently Mr Warren added his own Anglican angle, as reported by Christianity Today in Displaced Anglicans Offered Refuge on Saddleback Campus.

Wednesday evening update That article was removed, as explained here. The original text can still be found here.

Second, there is the news report that the Rev. Sharon E. Watkins of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is to deliver the sermon at the national prayer service that is held the day after the inauguration. The Anglican angle is that this service is being held at the Washington National Cathedral.

Third, there is the announcement that Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson is to offer prayers at the Lincoln Memorial concert two days before the inauguration. See also the ENS report: New Hampshire bishop invited to offer prayers at inaugural kickoff event. And there are many links to other reports here.

British reporting of this: Guardian, Times, Telegraph.

Wednesday morning updates

Episcopal News Service has more on the Rick Warren story, at ‘Purpose-Driven’ pastor offers space to dissident Episcopalians.

And Max Blumenthal has written about Rick Warren’s Africa Problem.

National Public Radio has a 5 minute radio interview with Bishop Robinson at Robinson ‘Delighted’ To Be Part Of Inauguration.

Wednesday evening update

A fourth Anglican angle on the inauguration can be found in the Washington Post which reports that Historic Church Will Host President-Elect on Big Day. This refers to St John’s Church Lafayette Square.

Friday evening update
More Anglican angles on the Washington Cathedral service, which will involve both the Bishop of Washington and the Presiding Bishop.

Even more detail on all the participants in that service is provided by ENS here.

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another Fort Worth update

The previous one was over a month ago.

The Presiding Bishop is due to attend a special diocesan convention in Fort Worth on 7 February. See FORT WORTH: Presiding Bishop will convene a special diocesan convention. The formal notice is here.

Bishop Jack Iker has sent a letter to the Presiding Bishop, making a public objection about this. (H/T Est Anima Legis)

Also, the Church of England Newspaper reports that Fort Worth bishop demands right to respond to ‘abandonment’ charge. See also here.

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Thursday, 8 January 2009

Pittsburgh: moves to claim assets

Updated again Monday evening

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has issued this press release: Diocese Asks Court For Access To Funds.

Request Made In Case Which Defined “Episcopal Diocese”

Pittsburgh, PA – Today, January 8, 2009, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh asked a court for control of church assets still held by former diocesan leaders who have left the Episcopal Church.

The request was made in the context of an existing court order which stipulated that local Episcopal property must stay in the control of a diocese that is part of the Episcopal Church of the United States.

“We’re not asking for anything the court has not already addressed, or for anything former leaders have not already agreed to,” said the Rev. Dr. James Simons, President of the diocesan Standing Committee, the group currently leading the Pittsburgh Episcopal Diocese.

The original court order was issued in October 2005 as a result of a lawsuit filed by Calvary Episcopal Church in East Liberty. The order prohibits any group that separates itself from the Episcopal Church from continuing to use or control Diocesan property. The order specifically defines the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh as being part of “the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.” In negotiations leading to the 2005 Order, former Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan and his attorneys agreed this stipulation would apply regardless of the circumstances surrounding any separation, even if every parish were to leave…

…Approximately 27 congregations, or about 40% of the Pittsburgh Diocese prior to the October separation, remain active in the life of the Episcopal Church.

The Southern Cone-affiliated body has also issued a press release: New Diocese Attempts to Join Lawsuit

In an expected, but disappointing decision, the newly forming Episcopal Church diocese in southwestern Pennsylvania announced today that it intends to move forward with legal action against The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) by attempting to claim all diocesan property.

“The document filed today in the Calvary litigation by Calvary and the new diocese created after the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh withdrew from The Episcopal Church is both procedurally and substantively improper. Moreover, it is regrettable that these groups have chosen to pursue more litigation rather than agree to equitable division of the assets.” said the Rev. Peter Frank, diocesan spokesman.

Initial press reports:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Claim filed to control local Episcopal Church assets

Associated Press Pa. Episcopal church sues parishes for $20 million

Friday press reports

Associated Press Diocese seeks $20M from breakaway Episcopalians

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Episcopal Diocese claims $20 million in schism fight by Paula Reed Ward

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Episcopal groups battle over assets by Craig Smith

Episcopal News Service PITTSBURGH: Diocesan leaders ask court for access to assets by Mary Frances Schjonberg

Monday update

There is an excellent summary by Joan R. Gundersen of recent events in Pittsburgh in this post: A Pittsburgh timeline.

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Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Colorado Springs fraud case

The Colorado Gazette reports Grace raid affidavit details claims that Armstrong misused church funds:

The Rev. Donald Armstrong funneled money earmarked for “single, unmarried seminarians” from a Grace Church trust fund to pay for his two children’s college tuition, according to Colorado Springs police investigators.

That accusation was contained in a affidavit supporting a search warrant used by police in a November raid on Grace Church and St. Stephen’s and its offices in a next door Victorian home known as the McWilliams House at 601 N. Tejon St.

The affidavit, returned by detective Michael Flynn to the court Tuesday, outlines the 18-month police investigation from May 2007 - when they were notified by the Episcopal Church, Diocese of Colorado that it suspected financial wrongdoing by Armstrong - and Nov. 25, when a judge signed the warrant authorizing the search…

Once again, there is an exhaustive set of links to earlier reports on this story already available at Episcopal Café.

The previous TA article on this case can be found here.

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Tuesday, 6 January 2009

California court rules on church property cases

Episcopal News Service reports:

In a landmark ruling that could have national implications, the California Supreme Court on January 5 upheld an earlier court decision that buildings and property do not belong to dissident congregations but to the Diocese of Los Angeles and the general Episcopal Church…

See California Supreme Court rules disputed property belongs to general church by Pat McCaughan.

The full text of the opinion is a PDF file available here.

There are many more links to related stories at Episcopal Café both here, and also here.

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Friday, 19 December 2008

Virginia property dispute: further rulings

The Fairfax County Circuit Court today issued its last rulings in the long-running property dispute between the Diocese of Virginia and the eleven congregations that seek to depart from The Episcopal Church but retain their parochial property. The Diocese of Virginia intends to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Virginia.

The actual court ruling (PDF)

Press release from Anglican District of Virginia NB This is very poorly formatted, an easier to read copy can be found here instead.

Press release from CANA

Statement by Bishop Martyn Minns

Press release from Diocese of Virginia

Press statement from Canon Charles Robertson, Canon to the Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop

ENS has VIRGINIA: Court ruling clears way for property-litigation appeal by Mary Frances Schjonberg

The archive of documents can be read here. Or alternatively over here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 19 December 2008 at 4:20pm GMT | Comments (28) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Presiding Bishop at National Press Club

The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church addressed the National Press Club, in Washington DC.

There is a transcript of her speech here.

There is an audio recording which also includes the extended Question and Answer session here.

A video recording of the event is over here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 at 9:34am GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA