Comments: General Synod: CT on women bishops

I do hope that in the debate on women bishops the HoB and Synod will not try to frame all its discussions in terms of "equality" and "human rights". They are inadequate concepts to help us address details of theology, morality or church order.

We are trying to discern whether change is the Will of God, and how to make arrangements with people who are unable to accept that change. This calls for sensitivity, discernement, wisdom and love. Not just demands, rejection or rhetorical hyperbole.

Posted by Dave at Sunday, 29 January 2006 at 8:11pm GMT

Well,they may be to you, Dave, but clearly to many they are vitally important. You can't simply wish them off the agenda!

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 30 January 2006 at 1:21am GMT

Not rejection, Dave? But that's what those who are 'unable to accept that change' are doing to women priests and bishops, whose calling the Church of England as a body (after many years of sensitive discernment and discussion) has accepted, blessed and legitimized. Lack of consensus is claimed to be an obstacle to acceptence of gay blessings and ordinations, yet here, with women priests and bishops, we have reached a majority consensus. It's all done and dusted. The Church of England has carefully considered the theology, morality & church order and now officially accepts and celebrates women priests & bishops.

Women are being rejected, by a minority, because they are women.

That's what the church is trying to sort out now. How do we respond to this continuing rejection, despite the consensus, the agreement, the decision, the legitimization... and God's calling.

I suppose it's the same old 'can an inclusive church include those who exclude?' debate. You say it should and even be led by a minority of excluders - I say it should include excluders (should they wish to stay) but not accomodate or support their attempts to reject or exclude. Why people think it necessary that those who reject women priests and bishops should be handled with kid gloves and cuddled and patted on the head and given a blanket and some warm milk and their own special MALE to help get them through the trauma caused by the prospect of being ministered to by a female is beyond me.

Personally, I'd be grateful to have the blessing of anyone willing to minister to and accept me on behalf of God. The thought of rejecting anyone who sought to minister to and accept me in Christ (in whatever way), on the basis of an innate or unchangeable condition makes me fear I would rejecting Christ himself. I feel it is that serious an offence - to the woman and God.

I think the church has been extremely gracious and patient to the rejecters with these compromises - to a definite fault. There comes a point where the church should make a clear stand against the continuing rejection of women priests and bishops.

It's a shame, because they are almost, nearly, challenging and guiding and healing a world where women are still of a lower caste to men, payed less and discriminated against to varying degrees. But no, it falls at the last hurdle and sends out the message to the world that as far as ministering the sacraments to the 'serious' part of the church is concerned, women should be treated as lepers because they corrupt and undo anything they do or touch as priests or bishops - they nullify its holiness and blessing. God thinks women are just not as good or holy or capable as men. It's okay to push a woman aside as she serves and demand a bloke instead.

That needs rejecting, not cosseting.

Posted by augustus meriwether at Monday, 30 January 2006 at 11:38am GMT

AM, it's always a mistake to imagine that you know your opponents' thinking better than they do, as your posting illustrates. In fact such a condescending and insulting tone verges on the puerile.

There is no consensus in the Church of England concerning either women as priests or as bishops, contrary to your claim, and your method of achieving consensus - kick out those who disagree with you - is somewhat reminiscent of the former Soviet Union.

ECUSA is hardly a glowing example of how to proceed in this matter, divided down several fault lines as it attempts to impose various innovations on parishes and dioceses which reject them.

The Church of England is simply trying to find a way forward with justice for both those who want women bishops, and those for whom it is a theological impossibility. (Who in world terms constitute the vast majority of christendom, since you seem to be impressed by majorities).

Co-existence is better than schism, if it can be achieved. That used to be the genius of Anglicanism, but it has in some provinces taken too many lessons from ECUSA concerning the way to dispose of minorities.

It has been a pyrrhic victory for ECUSA however. By the time the purges are over, the Network and its allies will have replaced it.

Posted by Martyn Sandford at Monday, 30 January 2006 at 1:25pm GMT

I think MS is mistaken on several points. Firstly he criticises Augustus for imagining how his opponents think. I see no problem with trying to imaginatively understand other people and what they might be thinking. Secondly, within the decision making process in the C of E there is clearly a consensus on women priests and bishops. Thirdly, nobody is trying to throw out those who disagree with this consensus. It is they who are threatening to leave, or take their Parish Share away to play with by themselves. Fourthly, (this is starting to sound like the sermon of my nightmares - 'My twenty-second point is...') I think that ECUSA are doing the complete opposite of trying to 'dispose or minorities'. Instead they are trying to include all minorities (and majorities). It is others who are trying to exclude. Finally, I suspect that it is those who, disagreeing on one particular point of their own bishop, import bishops who agree on that particular point (regardless of anything else they might think) who are the true 'innovators' and not those attempting to preach the gospel to ALL.

Posted by lapsang at Monday, 30 January 2006 at 7:19pm GMT

Er... If there is a consensus in the Church of England, why all these extraordinary proposals being put forward at the General Synod? With 1,000 parishes formally opposed to women priests (let alone bishops) and some 2,000 clergy belonging to Forward in Faith or Reform, I don't think "consensus" is the word.

If you read the views of WATCH and other similar groups you will find that these is a strong desire to rid the Church of England of those who do not conform to their views. They want a single-clause Measure to permit women bishops, and no quarter to be shown to dissidents, whom they equate with racists and slave-traders.

ECUSA's General Convention not long ago made it a requirement that every diocese should have women priests - something which was first permitted then became mandatory. It is in this sort of climate of compulsion and exclusion that people start to look outside their own province for help from abroad. Not least those who are being summarily deposed, illegally, by abuse of the so called "abandonment" canon, or being threatened with it by their inclusive and liberal bishops.

If ECUSA could have found some way to compromise and to enable co-existence then it would have been better for the whole Anglican Communion. Its last chance to redeem itself comes at GC 2006 but my bet is that we will see more of the same, rather than an end to the ethical cleansing by the "inclusivists".

The Church of England may just find a way to move forward without splitting down the middle, but there are some who want exactly that and will push for it next month. Without a balanced package with provision for both sides they will only succeed in replicating ECUSA's woes in England.

Posted by Martyn Sandford at Monday, 30 January 2006 at 11:51pm GMT

Well said, lapsang. They feel free to import a bishop on one issue, what will stop them from importing another when that bishop becomes a "false teacher" or goes, and the new one is a "false teacher"? I guess they will just go bishop shopping again.

Posted by RMF at Tuesday, 31 January 2006 at 12:01am GMT

"It has been a pyrrhic victory for ECUSA however. By the time the purges are over, the Network and its allies will have replaced it."

And you accuse *Augustus Meriwether* of being "puerile", Martyn?

With the exception of a *tiny* number of just-swim-the-Tiber-already revanchists, the ordination of women (including to the episcopacy) is a DONE (with ALL thanks to God!) DEAL in ECUSA. It hasn't been "pyrrhic" in the least.

Those Anglican churches who have affirmed *God's call* of women to all orders, have been tremendously blessed by it: come on in, CofE, the water's fine! :-D

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Tuesday, 31 January 2006 at 12:47am GMT

Yeah, wot lapsang said.

I'm not very impressed by majorities at all - they can be disastrously misguided, although in the Church they are taken by many to be an indication of God's will. I make a point of using it in my argument though, because (as I just said) there are glaring double standards used by the conservatives in that they refuse to accept blessings or ordination of partnered GLBT people BECAUSE there is no majority or consensus willing to do so, whilst on this issue, where the Church of England -my free province- (not the global Church) has reached a CRITICAL majority consensus (clearly not unanimous - the word 'consensus' can mean 'general agreement or accord' not necessarily 'complete agreement or accord' as with 'unanimous') where it has accepted the ordination of women priests and the consecration of women bishops, the conservatives choose to IGNORE that critical majority consensus.

See? In the olden days, that's what they called 'hypocrisy'.

So, I need to know: do the conservatives respect and accept the decisions of critical majority consensus (as in the case of gay blessings/ordinations in the AC), or do they ignore and dismiss critical majority consensus (as in the case of women bishops/priests in the CofE)?

respect & accept
ignore & dismiss?

I never thought I would be grateful for Archbishop Rowan Williams' Q&A session at Egypt.

Posted by augustus meriwether at Tuesday, 31 January 2006 at 1:13am GMT

My late mother-in-law of truly blessed memory was over sixty years of age when she accepted an invitation by the Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral in Wilmington Delaware to become one of those many lay people who stand behind the altar rail and administer the chalice at Eucharist.

Usually she served at the 10:00 service, but on occasion she served at the 7:30 a.m. service, the more conservative service. She was the only woman who served at 7:30. One day she shared with me a great grief: There was one older woman in the 7:30 congregation who got up and left church after the liturgy of the Word, every time she saw my mother-in-law, Grace, in the Lay Reader/Chalice Assistant seat in the chancel. The woman never spoke to Grace about it, and Grace never would tell me the woman's name.

Grace continued to serve her Lord at the altar, even in the face of the pain of watching her one time friend leave at her presence, and she took the the woman's name to her grave with her, an honorable woman to the end.

My dear brothers in Christ on this and other threads on Thinking Anglicans, we women are accustomed to men, even bishops, speaking about our ministry and our relation to Christ - yes I say our relation to Christ for our ministry and relationship with Him are inseparable - as if we weren't even here. When it was being decided what to do with the "irregularly" ordained women in ECUSA, before General Convention made women's ordinations regular, the women themselves presented themselves to the House of Bishops for the hearings, but were made to sit in the hallway, and were never allowed to speak or tell their stories.

Now that we may be ordained both priest and bishop,the stories of our relationship with Christ and how those stories lead us to ordination can be heard and experienced. The result is that in most places where we serve, the priesthood we hold in our earthen vessels is a blessing both to those we serve and to us.

We do not enter ordination as presbyter or as bishop as a matter of equal rights, for we know it is not about that at all. Ordination is about being faithful to God in Christ Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. We do not enter Holy Orders lightly. We do not enter them in order to make the lives of our fellow men and women miserable. We enter Holy Orders knowing that there are still those who shrink in disgust at our very existence in Orders. But what are we to do?

God has a hold on us and will not let us go. God has work for us to do and we can refuse to do it, in deference to your horror, or we can say "Here I am, Lord. I am your servant. Be it unto me as you have said."

The Rev'd Lois Keen
Priest in Charge
St. Martin's Episcopal Church
Boothwyn, Pennsylvania USA

Posted by Rev. Lois Keen at Tuesday, 31 January 2006 at 2:06pm GMT

Martyn said, "It has been a pyrrhic victory for ECUSA however. By the time the purges are over, the Network and its allies will have replaced it."

Oh please... Can we be just a smidgen less melodramatic here ?

At *best*, the hard-core, "traditionalist," he-man woman (and gay) haters are less than 15% or so of all Episcopalians. Their fate is hardly to replace the ECUSA.

Rather, they'll become the next, small "Anglican" splinter group like the AMiA, which will then (of course) fracture internally several times as most of these purity movements do...

Posted by Simeon at Tuesday, 31 January 2006 at 2:37pm GMT

Thanks for telling us some of your story, Mother Keen. I think it's important that we hear more such stories.

Posted by RMF at Tuesday, 31 January 2006 at 5:13pm GMT

AM wrote: "So, I need to know: do the conservatives respect and accept the decisions of critical majority consensus (as in the case of gay blessings/ordinations in the AC), or do they ignore and dismiss critical majority consensus (as in the case of women bishops/priests in the CofE)?"

Dear AM, I am a Christian; that means I [try to] follow Christ - His teachings and those of His Apostles etc, that are recorded in the New Testament. Majorities or minorities are not souvereign.

Issues such as identical or distinct roles for men and women are in my view "debatable" since the NT can be interpreted either way (though my personal view is that the exclusive roles taught by Paul were meant for the particular conditions that existed for the people to whom he wrote). What is not debatable from the NT is that men and women are equal.. I can understand why some people might read the NT to mean that gender roles are different, including in church leadership, and I respect that even though I don't agree! What I don't respect is treating one gender as superior or inferior!

In the case of sex, the situation is very different. The only place for sex that is sanctioned anywhere in the NT (or the OT for that matter) is within a life-long marriage. Everything else is called "sin" - and sin is a primary issue!

I think that the difference in the seriousness of these issues is reflected already in the way the church is reacting to them. Hence we include churches that disagree on gender roles, but the majority concensus of Anglican Bishops, Primates, the ACC and the CofE's General Synod is to reject homosexual sex as sinful.

Posted by Dave at Tuesday, 31 January 2006 at 6:47pm GMT

Back to the old "inclusivity" chestnut.. I'm surprised that some contributors still haven't worked out that so called liberal "Inclusivity" isn't really inclusive. It just includes and excludes slightly different sets of practices and beliefs, based on liberal humanist principles rather than on orthodox Christian principles. Hence liberal-approved homosexual partnerships are "in" and people who have (liberal) unorthodox beliefs are "in", but people who have non-liberal beliefs are "out".

While we're at it, the same can be said for liberal "tolerance". What liberals *approve* of is "in" everything else is "out". The worrying thing is, though, that a growing number of liberals seem to have persuaded themselves that liberalism=tolerance.... and have lost true tolerance (tolerating that which you *disapprove* of). Hence the absurd statement: "we will not tolerate intolerance"!

Posted by Dave at Tuesday, 31 January 2006 at 7:05pm GMT

So there have been no Continuing Churches in ECUSA, no AMiA, no Network, no parishes tranferring to other Provinces, no steep decline in funds or attendance, no Windsor Report, no termination of ARCIC for all practical purposes, no heresy, no gay blessings, no lawsuits over property, no threats to depose traditionalist bishops....etc, etc.

It's all just great in ECUSA. And they have a majority for everything.

Posted by Martyn Sandford at Tuesday, 31 January 2006 at 7:09pm GMT

Well, rather ECUSA than the patehetic fence sitting of the CoE!

And I think that intolerance and bigotry does need to be opposed - thats why I don't agree with conservative theology.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 31 January 2006 at 10:46pm GMT

"ECUSA is hardly a glowing example of how to proceed in this matter, divided down several fault lines as it attempts to impose various innovations on parishes and dioceses which reject them."

The Episcopal bishops of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas have never permitted women to do anything priestly in their jurisdictions and still do not. The chasubles and altars in Episcopal churches in north Texas remain uncontaminated by female contact. No ECUSA Holy Office is demanding that these bishops relent and recant. Instead, as dissenting parishes there are painfully aware, these bishops are rattling the exit doors.
Exclusion of women from holy orders diminishes the witness to Christ by one half.

Posted by counterlight at Tuesday, 31 January 2006 at 11:17pm GMT

Dave wrote, 'The only place for sex that is sanctioned anywhere in the NT (or the OT for that matter) is within a life-long marriage.'
Abraham had children with Hagar as well as Sarah. He also had concubines (see Genesis 25.6). David had several wives and concubines (ie 2 Samuel 5.13) with whom he had many sons and daughters. Perhaps is is not fair to mention Rehoboam who had 'eighteen wives and sixty concubines' (2 Chronicles 11:21) as 'he did evil'. But then this evil was for not setting 'his heart to seek the Lord' (2 Chronicles 11.14) rather than the multiplicity of his wives, concubines and children. (Jacob also had children not only with his wives Leah and Rachel but also with their maids, but I suppose you could say that all four were his wives so perhaps that counts as sex within a marriage.)
I'm sure I could carry on, but I think you can see my point. In the OT, at least, the modern monogamous marriage was not necessarily the norm.

PS I thought the point about sin was that 'there is no one who is righteous, not even one' (Ps 14 and Romans 3.10) - we are all sinners.

Posted by lapsang at Tuesday, 31 January 2006 at 11:32pm GMT

Our faith has always been one of Christ incarnate. One of God coming into an imperfect broken world and through grace healing it. This once for all event is a daily reality whenever we receive the sacraments and read and live the Gospel with charity and love.

An incarnational faith can not be practiced in a vacuum. From the very beginning local cultural values have had to be accommodated.

While it is right to point out the debt that modern Christianity owes to liberal humanism it is wrong to ignore the debt that those who oppose an inclusive church owe to Victorian values and the like.

We are called to live out the Christian life in todays world, not that of a bygone era. Our Christ incarnational faith must be allowed to transform todays world - not disengage from it. Otherwise, the church will become increasingly irrelevant to the world in which we live.

It would have been nice if parallel stipendiary ministries for men and women were considered by Forward in Faith - as this is an area that Forward in Faith will have to address if it wants to survive in the longer term. Perhaps allowing women to function as modern day stipendiary Deaconesses with parallel duties of priests.

If the conservatives want to conserve but also move forward in faith they to need to confront the modern world, and so far the liberals have been far better at it.

Posted by Joan at Wednesday, 1 February 2006 at 2:41am GMT

Beautifully said, Lois. Thank you. As I consider my own call--certainly to God and perhaps to the priesthood-- I pray to be as gracious and thoughtful as you and as honorable as Grace!

Posted by Anna at Wednesday, 1 February 2006 at 3:34am GMT

AM wrote: "So, I need to know: do the conservatives respect and accept the decisions of critical majority consensus or do they ignore and dismiss critical majority consensus?"

giving 2 examples.

Dave did not answer.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 1 February 2006 at 6:56am GMT

Somehow the new-puritans have convinced themselves that "inclusion" must mean they win every argument. So, if their arguements against female bishops do not persuade the church, clearly the church is not being inclusive.

I at least can live with that. Inclusion of bullies is always a bad idea. AMIA is open and available, and inclusive for like minded bullies.


Posted by JimB at Wednesday, 1 February 2006 at 2:40pm GMT

Goran, there is a massive difference between saying we will respect and accept a decision which is consistent with God's voice in Scripture as accepted by the majority international concensus (eg on the sexuality issue) and we will respect and accept a decision which is accepted by the majority concensus in a province but which we are not convinced is consistent with God's voice in Scripture (eg on women Bishops). To equate the two and accuse of hypocrisy nonsense.

JimB, bullying? I don't understand. Which is bullying: arguing for provision for those who in conscience cannot agree? Or arguing for (de facto) expulsion of those who cannot agree?

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 1 February 2006 at 7:49pm GMT

Dear JimB, you might not have noticed that it is "nice liberal" ECUSAn Bishops who are actually sacking and defrocking those orthodox "bully" priests who do not accept their authority [to go against Christian/Anglican teachings], and throwing orthodox churches out of their buildings [or trying to].

Most of this liberal hysteria about bullying by conservativee anglicans is based on what you fear they will do.. Is this some kind of phobia, or just a way to justify to your own conscience that it is ok to mistreat the orthodox ?

"Do unto others before they do it unto you" maybe ?

Posted by Dave at Wednesday, 1 February 2006 at 9:27pm GMT

Dear Göran, What I was saying in my reply to Augustus M was "NO"; I neither accept nor reject majorities. I [try to] follow Christ.

Posted by Dave at Wednesday, 1 February 2006 at 9:29pm GMT

Tolerance has been mentioned in these comments. It is one of those rather slippery words. I think it was Kingsley Amis who got rather wound up about what he saw as people's sloppy use of this word. He pointed out that you were tolerant to the tolerable and intolerant to the intolerable. By this definition tolerace does not just simply mean accepting anything. A few examples:

I am a Church Organist and there are many hymns I do not like. However, I tolerate them and play them.

The schisophrenic who comes to our church can, when he neglects his medication, be difficult. This we tolearate, until and unless his behaviour becomes intolerabe and then something has to be done. In this way he is accepted into the Body of Christ, but what is intololerable is not accepted (or tolerated).

Many theological differences can be profound, but while we see the face of Christ in the other we tolerate these and continue the conversation. Bonhoeffer could no longer see Christ in a Church which accepted the Nazi race rules and no longer tolerated this. He paid for it with his life.

I think the so-called 'conservatives' ('conservative' and 'liberal' also being very slippery terms - see Colin Slee's Sermon at the foundation of are very wrong about women priests, gay priests and civil partnerships and am profoundly upset when they claim that they are true Bible believers and so imply that I am not. (On this Keith Ward's Book - What the Bible Really Teaches is interesting.) I relunctatly and perhaps, after reading Mother Lois above, shamefacedly, tolerate this. If they gained the ascendancy in the Anglican Church and forced their views on the whole communion I would not find this tolerable and would not tolerate it. Whether this means leaving or fighting would depend on circumstances.

Posted by lapsang at Wednesday, 1 February 2006 at 10:37pm GMT

Well, Dave - if they don't accept the authority of their Bishop, then they should leave. Thats certainly what would be expected from your crowd if the boot was on the other foot. But you believe that you have some sort of extra rights because of your refusal to accept progress and the shortcomings of your religion.

I simply find conservative theology and its god repulsive. I wouldn't have gone near Anglicanism other than via its liberal wing, but you will no doubt be pleased to hear that I can't be bothered worshipping in the Church of England until the split occurs and we can have a church worth being part of, free of outdated dogmatic delusion.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 2 February 2006 at 12:24am GMT

Dave wrote: "I do hope that in the debate on women bishops the HoB and Synod will not try to frame all its discussions in terms of "equality" and "human rights".

They are inadequate concepts to help us address details of theology, morality or church order."

Would be interesting to know why?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 2 February 2006 at 7:07am GMT


So the difference ("massive" is Blair speak) is a mere "we are convinced"?

How do you arrive at this?

How do you know that your conviction is right?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 2 February 2006 at 7:12am GMT


Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 2 February 2006 at 7:16am GMT

What a bizarre position to be in, MH! You wish to dictate to members of a church what they should believe, although you are not actively involved in it, so that it can become what you would like it to be, and then you will consider worshipping in it.

Faith by very definition is not and never has been a matter of rights. But presumably you don't see religion in terms of faith either?

Posted by Martyn Sandford at Thursday, 2 February 2006 at 9:09am GMT

Dave wrote this: "What I was saying in my reply to Augustus M was "NO"; I neither accept nor reject majorities. I [try to] follow Christ."

Funnily enough - those of us who are in favour of both women bishops and acceptance of gays are also just trying to follow Christ. And it is certainly not about just accepting majorities - because for so long those who were arguing for inclusion of gays were very much in the minority - both within the church and even among the population as a whole.

It seems to me that your problem (which you share with many co-called "conservatives") is that you see things in a very monochrome way:

I am following Christ
These people do not agree with me
They cannot be following Christ (because if they were, they would agree with me)

The thing which really gets me despairing is that so many faithful, thoughful and sincere Christians are being written off as "not following Christ" simply because they do not toe your party line.

I am very happy to say: "We do not agree, but we can (and must) still work together and respect one another as brothers and sisters in Christ." What you seem to be saying is: "We do not agree, therefore you cannot be a true follower of Christ and we cannot really work together or respect one another until you agree with me."

Posted by David Chillman at Thursday, 2 February 2006 at 1:00pm GMT


Let's do a bit of a reality check as to the inhibitions in the Episcopal Church.

Those who have been inhibited in the Church, have openly defied their bishop and the Church by proclaiming that they are no longer in the particular diocese, that they no longer recognize the authority in the Episcopal Church, and that their bishop has no authority over them.

The bishop then says, well, alright, and defrocks the priest.

Isn't this the sort of authority to correct and guide, that many of the schismatics, hope they will get through an Anglican Covenant?

Moreover, why do the priests complain, when they have already noted that they do not recognize the authority of the Church or of the bishop, and actively work against its institutions? By inhibiting them, the Church is signaling that they too recognize that the priest has left the flock.

Sadly, it is perhaps only after the formalizing of the break, that the priest and his congregation realize what they have done.

Posted by RMF at Thursday, 2 February 2006 at 1:35pm GMT

Acrimonious debate achieves little more than vexing everyone.

The issues of women in church leadership & Lesbian and Gay Christians etc. really is about cultural values.

Cultural values can be good (Candles on altars; Easter Eggs at Easter; Flowers on graves and in Churches etc.) or they can be bad (racism; sexism; homophobia etc.)

Gospel values can not support the latter. Neither should we.

While Forward in Faith and Affirming Catholicism (to take two examples) may disagree on how to avoid racism; sexism & homophobia in the church most of them would agree that they are all unacceptable pastorally. BOTH these groups need to find ways to work together again, as they did before these issues surfaced - otherwise the 'low church' will prevail in the Church power structures completely, and we all know that would mean dictatorship and the most profound evils - just look at Nigeria!

Unfortunately privately thinking one thing and publically expressing another leads to all kinds of evil, (like the Nazis of the past)

Silence on these matters kills. More Bishops need to speak out against Nigeria's Archbishop.

Posted by pauline at Thursday, 2 February 2006 at 1:48pm GMT

Let us also consider some of the people behind these schismatic elements in the Episcopal Church and the wider Communion. Let us not for a minute believe that these groups do not have vast secular, right wing and politically oriented funding mechanisms behind them.

What they are doing is injecting a degree of political positioning and political alliance that has heretofore not existed here.

The American Anglican Council, for instance, has always had very close ties with the Institute for Religion and Democracy, sharing IRD office space for a number of years in Washington, D.C. It is now headquartered in Atlanta, where its president lives.

What is the IRD?

The IRD has helped incubate traditionalist insurrections
against liberal policies of Presbyterian, United Methodist and Episcopalian churches, and has financing from the Scaife Foundations, the Bradley and Olin Foundations, and Howard and Roberta Ahmanson's Fieldstead & Co.

It was an IRD board member, Fred Barnes, editor of the Weekly Standard, who helped promote slanderous accusations about Gene Robinson prior to the vote on his elevation to bishop. The IRD is also agitating for schism between conservative and liberal factions in the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church USA.

The IRD’s board is made up of many leaders from the conservative political US establishment,
including the American Enterprise Institute, Concerned Women for America, and the Weekly Standard.

To those unfamiliar with these, the are the defenders and promoters of extreme right ideology.

The AAC developed the strategy of taking the issue global, stirring up the more naturally conservative provinces of the global south.

The AAC has used this international support to keep up a “chicken little” atmosphere of constant crisis. (This can be seen by visiting any of their or like-minded websites that publish and heap with scorn and angry diatribes, attacks on every bishop, clergyman, or Episcopal Church mechanism that does not adhere to their every demand.)

At the same time, mirroring the IRD tactics in the Presbyterian and Methodist churches, they have been setting up alternative structures in the United States to prepare for the larger Communion to declare them to be the legitimate expression of the Anglican Communion in the United States, working to ostracize the official church in the United States and Canada.

IRD’s agenda is “part of a longstanding and comprehensive
agenda of ultraconservative forces to transform key elements of our mainstream consensus.

The mainline denominations are another prime target for them, representing billions of dollars in assets as well as formidable communications capacities that exert moral influence in defining ‘Judeo-Christian values’ for policymakers and voters. Under particularly aggressive attack are the
Presbyterian, United Methodist and Episcopal churches with their combined membership of 14 million. The right has already succeeded in taking over the largest Protestant denomination in the nation, the Southern Baptist Convention, and is using it effectively to advance its agenda.

(Most of this is borrowed from "DAVID v. GOLIATH: A report on faith groups working for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality (and what they’re up against) ", available at .

Posted by RMF at Thursday, 2 February 2006 at 4:43pm GMT

Interesting points by RMF.

The conservative groups in the USA are being aided and abetted by ++Rowan Cantuar's lack of decisive leadership. The Bishop of Bangor, in a recent statement, had the guts to stand up to the chief trouble-maker ++Peter Abuja, declaring that ++Abuja hath no jurisdiction in Wales." Does ++Rowan Cantuar have this kind of backbone? Obviously not. Only a few days ago St. Anne's Church, Oceanview, CA, placed itself under +Bolivia, 6-8 parishes in the Diocese of Florida placed themselves under African bishops, as did a parish in Virginia.

The BORDER CROSSINGS by Southern Hemisphere bishops must be stopped. ++Rowan Williams has failed the Anglican Communion miserably by not maintaining Anglican polity. The Third World episcopate has become a JOKE--a used car for which American dissidents shop around, and which they trade in for another model if dissatisfied (or disagreeing over a matter of theology or, better, ideology).

Posted by John Henry at Thursday, 2 February 2006 at 7:26pm GMT

Related to the issue of consecrating women as bishops and ordaining women as priests is how we as a church view and value women. I am struggling with how young girls define themselves in terms of their attractiveness and usefulness to the boys around them. In some cases, read the names they use when chatting - often sexual and demeaning. How can I go to them and help them define themselves without mirroring how boys see them, without mirroring how society has seen them - as reproductive machines or sexual objects when the church does not define them separately from men and usually, not equal to men. And it might be said that the church does define women as equal but then should not it also present that equality. To say that only men have the qualifications to be priests because they are male does not make for positive images in women. It uses the male as the norm for defining worthiness. Is that what our Lord and Saviour taught?

So should I be tolerant of the people who deny women the right to answer God's call. I can love them as children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ but I don't need to be tolerant of a view that does so much harm on many levels. In the Gospel of Mary, Levi defends Mary saying -"6) Levi answered and said to Peter, Peter you have always been hot tempered.

7) Now I see you contending against the woman like the adversaries.

8) But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well.

9) That is why He loved her more than us. Rather let us be ashamed and put on the perfect Man, and separate as He commanded us and preach the gospel, not laying down any other rule or other law beyond what the Savior said.

10) And when they heard this they began to go forth to proclaim and to preach."

I realize that this is not a canonacal text but I think it says much. There really isn't a text in the canoical books that adequately expresses from Jesus that women should not be allowed to minister as fully as possible.

I also question that we should insist on male only when it is obvious that women are being called. Why would God call women to ordained ministry if God did not want them there in the first place. Who are we, as mere mortals, to question God's wisdom. And when we deny those who are truly called, we are placing our human, and therefore, faulty, wisdom above God's.

Posted by Ann Marie at Thursday, 2 February 2006 at 9:42pm GMT

Distressing and depressing, John Henry---but good to know.

"The Third World episcopate has become a JOKE--a used car for which American dissidents shop around, and which they trade in for another model if dissatisfied (or disagreeing over a matter of theology or, better, ideology)."

Says it all. :-(

Lord have mercy!

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Thursday, 2 February 2006 at 11:53pm GMT

John Henry wrote: "The BORDER CROSSINGS by Southern Hemisphere bishops must be stopped."

Dear John Henry, In my view "border crossings" are perfectly justified if they are episcopal care for faithful Christians in the diocese of unfaithful bishops. Position in a religious heirachy, even a nominally Christian one, does not give absolute power, the right to do as you please, or "ownership". I think that many ECUSAn Bishops may be in or close to the position of the unfaithful tenants in the parable below; there are parallels to their increasing nastiness to dissenters and (ab)use of episcopal powers etc:

"There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance.' So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" "He will bring those wretches to a wretched end," they replied, "and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time."

Posted by Dave at Saturday, 4 February 2006 at 1:38am GMT

Since we are now firing Our Lord's passages across each other's bows, perhaps Dave should consider this one from the Gospel of Luke concerning the issue of what is lawful and traditional:
"One Sabbath, he was teaching in a synagogue, and there was a woman possessed by a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent double and quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her He called her and said, 'You are rid of your trouble.' Then He laid His hands on her, and at once she straightened up and began to praise God. But the president of the synagogue, indignant with Jesus for healing on the Sabbath, intervened and said to the congregation, 'There are six working days: come and be cured on one of them and not on the Sabbath.' The Lord gave him His answer,'What hypocrites you are!' he said, 'Is there a single one of you who does not loose his ox or his donkey from the manger and take it out to water on the Sabbath? And here is this woman, a daughter of Abraham, who has been kept prisoner for eighteen long years: was it wrong for her to be freed from her bonds on the Sabbath?' "

And I remind you that it was Mary Magdalen, a person of the female persuasion, whom the Lord gave the privilege of being the first to see Him risen.

It was also a woman, Our Lady, who made the Incarnation possible by giving her consent to Our Lord's request a told to her by the angel. I can't think of anything more truly priestly.

In all our shouting matches over what is lawful and right, and over who is or is not truly Anglican or truly Christian, I think we should keep in mind Our Lord's saying that the Sabbath was made for us. Not we for the Sabbath.

Posted by Counterlight at Saturday, 4 February 2006 at 2:25pm GMT

I remain fascinated by Dave, who continues to exhibit certainty that he, and only he, knows the truth. The rest of us -- except for those members of the clergy or laity who may be fortunate enough to agree with him -- are obviously mistaken, or worse.

When Pope Peter of Abuja is enthroned, or not, it will be interesting to see how many of Dave's fellow "faithful" will be with him

The rest of us, in various provinces of the Anglican Communion, will just have to seek Christ in our own imperfect ways.

Posted by GK Hannon at Saturday, 4 February 2006 at 10:02pm GMT


Who determines that the ECUSA bishops whose dioceses are invaded by the primates and bishops of the Global South are "unfaithful bishops"?

Is it you, Dave? ++Peter Abuja? +Bolivia? ++Orombi of Uganda or the Primate of the Southern Cone?

There are structures and canonical processes in the Anglican Communion that make that determination whether you, ++Abuja, +Bolivia and ++Uganda, ++Southern Cone like it or not.

Episcopi vagantes are not Anglican bishops. Too bad ++Rowan Cantuar doesn't have the backbone to take a firm stand. The Anglican Communion deserves better leadership than that, however brilliant a theologian Dr. Williams is regarded as. As a theologian, he may be on par with Dr. Joseph Ratzinger, but he is no Benedict XVI!

Posted by John Henry at Sunday, 5 February 2006 at 1:01am GMT

Wow, two ad hominem attacks out of three responses!

To answer the question about who decides what unfaithfulness is, I would point out that the liberal Bishops in ECUSA have known for many years that they are pushing out on a limb. The [ultimate canon of] scripture, NT and OT, always calls same-sex sex sin. Even ECIUSA's own theological committee recommended not going ahead!

Then we have had the Lambeth '98 resolution, which came about because other Bishops were aware that the revisionists were moving in this direction.. and were working towards achieving a "helpful" resolution. Plus appeals from the Archbishop of Canterbury, decisions from the Primates Meeting, and from the Anglican Consultative Council. These are the "processes" that should have made them realise they were wrong.

But still these bishops insist on persisting in calling sin "blessed", and are now sacking and defrocking clergy who won't accept their authority to say this.

Sin is a first order issue; it won't go away and can't be ignored.

Posted by Dave at Monday, 6 February 2006 at 5:31pm GMT

As a lay anglican, could a theologian somewhere please help me. When did Christ entrust the guardianship and shepherding of his followers to a woman, please? Christ made Mary Magdalene the first witness of the resurrection and therefore women can be priests as they can bear and preach witness, but it is bishops who are our guardians and shepherds and so, I return to my opening question, when did Christ entrust these roles to a woman, please?

Posted by Robert D Willcox at Monday, 24 July 2006 at 2:16am BST
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