Comments: Archbishop of Canterbury announces new Chaplain

Excellent, wise appointment. Wonderful news. This Monday I returned from 12 days in South Sudan where Jo Bailey Wells's annual visits to theological colleges are clearly greatly appreciated.

Posted by Graham Kings at Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 11:48am GMT

Does she have any parish experience?

Posted by Richard at Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 11:59am GMT

As an alumnus of Duke University, I am pleased to see the "better half" of the Wells get such an excellent appointment. As you know her husband, The Revd Dr Sam Wells was dean of Duke Chapel and is now Rector of St Martin in the Fields, London.

Duke University, by the way, is affiliated with the United Methodist Church although one might be forgiven for assuming it was Episcopalian after a visit to its superb Collegiate Gothic campus, the center of which is the Chapel.

Posted by Andrew at Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 4:12pm GMT

This seems to bode really well.

Project Education South Sudan (a small NGO connected to TEC) is a ministry partner with our parish. I am in awe of the work people are doing in South Sudan.

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 5:31pm GMT

After her comments on the election of Bishop Glasspool I have serious doubts that she will be able to offer anything toward reconciliation. She is a partisan with an agenda. From the perspective a gay American Episcopalian it looks like the agenda is against us. I think we have the right to say that if she is serious about reconciliation she must start by apologizing. That is step one. Apologize, please.

Posted by Dennis in Chicago at Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 9:27pm GMT

According to Episcopal Cafe, these are the comments by Jo Bailey Wells conerning Mary Glasspool's election as bishop that Dennis referred to:

"'The Episcopal Church, by its actions, is demonstrating that it no longer values its place under the historic headship of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and therefore the Anglican Communion,' Wells said.

"The confirmation of a second openly gay bishop is even more significant than the first, Wells said, since the consequences—widespread dissent in the communion and persecution of Anglicans in countries where homosexuality is reviled—are clear."

There is no condemnation in this story, I note, about the persecution of reviled homosexuals in these countries, which has been fairly consistent by the powers that be in the Church of England.

Posted by dr.primrose at Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 11:36pm GMT

Just to refresh everyone's memory, Jo Bailey Wells was quoted as follows in a Beliefnet story on Mary Glasspool's election:

"The Episcopal Church has said for years that it is committed to both the Anglican Communion and the full inclusion of gays and lesbians, said the Rev. Jo Bailey Wells, a professor and director of Anglican studies at Duke Divinity School in Durham, N.C. Glasspool’s election is, in a sense, a fork in the road.

“I think Williams’ statement points out the incommensurability of both agendas,” she said. “Episcopalians are prone to deny the consequences of their actions, because they so believe in what they are doing that they don’t believe that others do not believe.”

Yes, she does sound like someone with an agenda.

Source: "Second Gay Bishop Poses Stark Choice for Episcopal Church" -- Beliefnet 2009.

Posted by Charlotte at Friday, 1 March 2013 at 1:55am GMT

This quote from Jo Bailey Wells is making the rounds in the US:

“The Episcopal Church, by its actions, is demonstrating that it no longer values its place under the historic headship of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and therefore the Anglican Communion,” Wells said.
The confirmation of a second openly gay bishop is even more significant than the first, Wells said, since the consequences—widespread dissent in the communion and persecution of Anglicans in countries where homosexuality is reviled—are clear.

1. Bishops are elected locally and many, many more people voted for Mary Glasspool than had the opportunity to vote for the ABC.
2. She's blaming egregious human rights abuses in Uganda and else where on TEC???????????

Clear anti-TEC bias. Some reconciliation. Here's a link to an American blog, as you can see, the nastier CoE is about our progressive positions on human rights, the less Episcopalians care about the ABC, who is selected mysteriously by whomever...

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 1 March 2013 at 3:43am GMT

My instant reaction is to be careful of anything that Graham Kings thinks wise. He and the small leadership group at Fulcrum have a pro-women position balanced by a determined (and rather nasty) anti-gay stance, so I am deeply cautious.

On the other hand, I remember all too well the context of Mary Glasspool's election and the fears being circulated that there would be mass murder of Christians in certain non Christian countries if more partnered gay people were openly ordained.

Rowan Williams had gathered wide support for his policy of appeasement, in part based on such widespread fears, and the pressure was indeed laid heavily on TEC to comply with the calls for a moratorium. Williams staked his own reputation on being able to hold the line. When Mary Glasspool gained the necessary consents, there is no doubt those supporting Williams felt dismayed. This quote must be read in that context.

What has struck me however are the personal testimonies on threads such as Episcopal Cafe where her interpersonal skills are highly praised. So, good luck to her and I hope she doesn't fall for the spin again.

But for those who were involved in the events surrounding the last appointment at Canterbury, Justin Welby is in a completely different position. Then, The Bishop at Lambeth arrived here in Newport to inform Rowan that the support staff at Lambeth were a fixed item, he could take no staff with him.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Friday, 1 March 2013 at 1:03pm GMT

It is not in itself evidence of 'anti-TEC bias' to point out that there are tensions between TEC's new commitments regarding LGBT inclusion and its membership in a global communion which only partly shares those commitments. I read Jo Bailey Wells as making a statement of fact, rather than of prejudice. It would be a convenient world if our moral stances only had the effects we wanted them to, but TEC's decisions about sexuality do not stop having consequences at the borders of the United States, and are not understood solely in the context of American history, with its distinctive understanding of social justice primarily in terms of individual civil rights. There really are places where Anglican churches are, for example, in local competition with Islam over who does and does not promote virtue; and distant garbled rumours of TEC gay bishops come in as the basis for anti-Christian libels which sometimes lead to violence. This does *not* mean than TEC is responsible for those libels; or that the hideous homophobic violence in some of those same places does not matter; or that TEC should compromise its own sense of justice. But TEC is not always very good at acknowledging these complexities. You are a self-selected liberal denomination in the American supermarket of religions, with a very high proportion of converts among your membership: most of the other churches in the communion have different histories. When, for whatever reason, good or bad, you are out of step with the rest of us, you tend to reach very readily for the language of American exceptionalism, in which your difference is necessarily a sign of enlightenment. These things are very visible from outside the US *even to those of us who think you are right on the LGBT issues*. To demand an apology from Jo Bailey Wells for even mentioning the problem, is essentially an assertion that only a reflection back to you of your own good intentions is acceptable.

Posted by Francis at Friday, 1 March 2013 at 1:03pm GMT

This article by Jo Bailey Wells may be of interest

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 1 March 2013 at 1:21pm GMT

With everything, it's the tone that matters as much as the opinion voiced. And to ignore completely TEC's repeated affirmation of the Anglican Communion and its desire to remain a part of it and to say that "The Episcopal Church, by its actions, is demonstrating that it no longer values its place under the historic headship of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and therefore the Anglican Communion,"
is more partisan than necessary.

It was just as easy to have said "although we know that TEC is a committed member of the AC, we fear they may be misjudging the consequences of their actions."

Facts or perceived facts can still be expressed in several ways.
I have to say that I do find this worrying - at least until future pronouncements give a clearer indication of Dr Wells's actual views on lgbt inclusion and our relationship with TEC.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 1 March 2013 at 1:51pm GMT

Francis I was listening when you noted that in TEC we tend to filter our thoughts via the Civil Rights movement. It became the language for womens and LGBT rights. You lost me at the "exceptionalism as showing our enlightenment" part.

LGBT persons are real flesh and blood people. I'm one of them. And what I heard from Rowan and Bailey is that TEC is supposed to throw us under a bus. My suffering, and that of my brothers and sisters, matters. The discrimination and senseless destruction of my career matters, as does the depression I went through and the therapy bills I had to pay (as we don't have NHS and I didn't have insurance when the career tanked). The suicide rate amongst LGBT teens who constantly hear that "God hates fags" is suffering that we must address. So yes, TEC is the place in America where these teens can hear God loves you, really, and we prove it by not discriminating.

The idea that American LGBT persons, especially our suicidal teens, need to suffer longer because of Global events is crazy. Rowan's appeasement is not the way to achieve Human Rights. The way to achieve Human Rights is to acknowledge Human Rights!!!!!!!

Rowan was decidedly ineffective on both side, because appeasement is the wrong side. I work in a 3rd World country that is not progressive on LGBT. We work on the issues at hand. We love one another. Getting on with the work without having to agree is possible. Indeed, that is the way that people in impoverished countries will learn that human rights are beautiful and ultimately promote peace and prosperity. Working together on issues like poverty, health, and education.

Please re-read MLK's Letter from the Birmingham (Alabama) Jail if you still think that appeasement is right for our suicidal teens and depressed LGBT persons. And then of course, there's Jesus standing up for the outcast. He never told us to wait.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 1 March 2013 at 4:24pm GMT

Thanks for linking the article Simon. Same story though. LGBT suffering in the US (and Canada and perhaps elsewhere) is to continue unabated because of "appeasement."

The US Supreme Court is taking up marriage equality. They are being bombarded with briefs of support from both the right and the left. It's hard to say what they'll do, a handful of them are intransigent hardliners. But if 5 of them support marriage equality, then our country will be in a new place.

To ask the churches to be behind society on moral issues is not a formula for a robust and vibrant church. We need only a brief look at CoE's problems to see that. TEC is gaining in vibrancy, and that means more people are being lifted up. Jo Bailey Well's approach would empty our pews, as it seems to have done in England.

We elect our bishops locally. Episcopalians in Los Angeles select the person who they believe is best for them. Same with New Hampshire (whose slogan is "Live Free or Die" and yes, comes from the Revolution). We don't have top-down management. The demand that Rowan and Ms. Wells make violates our polity. The idea that we should change our polity so that our hierarchy can then have the power to violate human rights and interfere with the discernment of local Episcopalians is not a winner.

Finally, we know that in England the majority of the public and members of CoE support LGBT equality. We see the debacle surrounding WB's. We are not seeing a shining example of the radical love of Jesus Christ. CoE needs to get its house in order before lecturing to the more progressive churches. AND I strongly suspect that TEC has as much ministry in Africa as CoE, proving that ministry and life goes on...

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 1 March 2013 at 5:02pm GMT

Also, in the article, she's writing about the Northern Virginia churches in 2007. I'm from Northern Virginia. Those churches tend to get filled with people from the various Presidential administrations. In 2007 it was the administration of GW Bush and so there were a lot of neocons filling those churches. Neocons whose lives and careers hinged on being fire-breathing culture warriors.

All politics are local. Including church.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 1 March 2013 at 5:06pm GMT

One more thing. Wells said that all churches of all denominations are impacted globally by TEC's following of the example of the radical love of Jesus Christ.

I have news for Ms. Wells. In the US and many global churches, including in England, there are denominations that are more progressive than TEC. The Quakers, Unitarians, UCC, Reformed Jews, and more. She is hardly speaking for all denominations.

That article was uninformed and ill-conceived.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 1 March 2013 at 5:26pm GMT

There's a frivolous but fun game, called "Lent Madness," currently available to members of TEC. Each day,it pits one saint from our calendar against another, and asks for votes. It's interesting that, when Martin Luther and Martin Luther King, Jr. were "competing," Dr. King won,albeit by small majority. Yes, we do filter our thoughts through the Civil Rights movement,and see justice as pivotal to the proclamation of the Gospel. When the Civil Rights movement was in progress, some people said that we weren't ready for such changes yet,and we needed more time for discussion. They were wrong. We don't need "more time" for people to suffer injustice.

Posted by Old Father William at Friday, 1 March 2013 at 7:10pm GMT

Reading the Jo Bailey Wells' article made me think that although she was living and teaching in the USA at the time she wrote it, she really didn't understand America and TEC very well at all. Yes, we do see things through the eyes of civil rights (praise the Lord) as Obama said, the road leads from Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall. The other cultural 'difference' between TEC and C-of-E that strikes me (once again) in her article is the 'pretense' or 'hypocrisy' that no C-of-E bishops are 'openly' gay or partnered. That's not what I hear, and I am merely a lowly assistant chaplain. They have to be 'more discreet' as a high up RC prelate once said almost within my hearing (but I'm a girl, so of course he wouldn't say it to me). I call it hypocrisy, he and quite a few I fear in the C-of-E call it discretion.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Saturday, 2 March 2013 at 7:07am GMT

And just to put a little bit more perspective on this ......

When Rowan Williams did get the chance to begin appointing his own team, he gave the job to a family friend, Jonathan Goodall, a supporter of Forward in Faith.

Jonathan remains on the Lambeth staff, Williams promoted him to head the ecumenical team some time ago.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Saturday, 2 March 2013 at 8:46am GMT

Looks as though Dr. Bailey Wells was willing to throw TEC under the bus when the then-Archbishop of Canterbury thought this was needful.

Query whether Dr. Bailey Wells was expressing her own view, or was simply trimming her sails to accommodate the then-prevailing winds.

Either way, it doesn't look like a good start towards reconciliation--either with TEC or with LGBT people in England.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 2 March 2013 at 4:40pm GMT

Sara has it right, Wells doesn't "get it."

I understand about Christians who live alongside Muslims and that creates issues. I disagree that a proper response is denying human rights elsewhere, but I acknowledge the dynamic.

There is no sensitivity from CoE leadership to the fact that our society has extremists completely unlike anything in the UK (as far as can tell from living there for around 8 months or so). The fact that powerful interests push the message "God hates fags," has hurtful consequences. And that awful message needs a healing response from TEC and the other liberal denominations.

We are protecting our friends, family, and CHILDREN with our inclusion. I am a person for whom the message of God's love acts as a shield against the horrific hate. I can't express enough how life giving that is for me and many others.

Hypocrisy would not get that job done. We're created in the image of God, equally loved, or we're not. If we're not, we are vulnerable to the hate.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 2 March 2013 at 5:29pm GMT

I said "I understand about Christians who live alongside Muslims and that creates issues..."

This needs clarification. I understand that in some places in Africa, this is a problem.

In the US, on a train on the East Coast, my partner inescapably overheard the following conversation between two young Muslim men (shortly after our 9/11): "If we want respect and equality in the US, then we'll have to respect plurality. We'll have to accept gay marriage, for example, because that freedom insures our own freedom."

Christians and Muslims are living side-by-side in the US and generally getting on just fine. So no, denying human rights is not an essential element in achieving peace and justice in a pluralistic society.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 2 March 2013 at 7:36pm GMT

"When you (TEC) are out of step with the rest of us..."
I'm not sure who the rest of us are, Francis. I have often had the distinct feeling of being out of step with many representatives of the hierarchy of the CoE, Rowan Williams downwards, as, I think, are many members of the CoE when it comes to LGBT rights, gay marriage etc. When I look across the Atlantic at TEC, I see a church that looks much more like the kind of church I want to belong to.

Posted by Helen at Saturday, 2 March 2013 at 9:56pm GMT

Yes, Helen, just right.

The majority of CoE members support WB's and marriage equality, and CoE leaders are going to tell TEC that we're out of step?

We elect our leaders. I wonder what CoE would look like if their leadership truly and deeply respected the voice of their own people?

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 3 March 2013 at 12:04am GMT

Sorry - when I said 'the rest of us', I meant the other churches of the communion, considered as institutions. I didn't mean that I was speaking for some mass of uniform anti-inclusive opinion among individual Anglicans around the world. I absolutely agree that a majority of lay opinion inside the C of E is pro-gay marriage, and pro-women bishops, and that the question there is how to translate that lay majority into an institutional settlement. (I am part of that majority of 'liberal' opinion; I am close to people who are working hard to get the church to shift accordingly as a structure.) I also agree that visible unity in the global communion ought to be a second-order priority. Where we feel the strong prompting of the Holy Spirit towards new forms of justice, we should expect to reach the point where we must do the good that it is within our reach to do, and to trust the Spirit then to take care of the continuing invisible unity of the bodies that split as a result. Less elaborately put: we shouldn't move at the pace of our least enlightened member church, and we should do the right thing even if it means saying goodbye, GAFCON.

All I am trying to say here is that TEC's experience on these issues is not always easily exportable to different situations, and that non-Americans who occasionally express frustration with the very righteous tone of some pronouncements by TEC, aren't necessarily declaring themselves to be on the side of international reaction, indulgence of homophobia, and 'appeasement'. Erika, reading over Jo B W's statements in 2007, I do agree that she was being more intemperate than is useful. But it very much remains to be seen what her appointment will mean now, in 2013, in a changed situation, with changed priorities, under a new Archbishop.

Posted by Francis at Sunday, 3 March 2013 at 12:13pm GMT

I'm no sure that some of the comments here capture the drama and swings of policy that TEC underwent from 2003 to 2010. I was using these pages to bemoan the vaguaries of TEC particularly following the passing of BO33.
This ENS piece captures the atmosphere rather well in the run up to the subsequent meeting of General Convention that saw the passing of DO25.

While reiterating a hope that she be given space to develop in her new job, there must be many who share some of the concerns here and I think that it should be remembered that the most dismissive of her comments are also the most recent, dating from spring 2010.

Still, while we shall see her quite a lot, at her bosses right hand, going on past form we will hear very little if anything from her. Or are we going to see something quite different? Are we going to see and hear a few of these people "out front"? When Rowan gave the inimitable George Pitcher his head - George ended up getting the boot rather quickly .........

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 3 March 2013 at 5:27pm GMT

I very much appreciate your conciliatory words, Francis, because Wells words were very hurtful.

I am really completely unaware of TEC forcibly exporting our sense of progressive justice on others. I am keenly aware that Rowan, as ABC, punished our church and treated our bishops in a very shabby manner. All because we were moving "in step" with human rights organizations, such as at the UN and the EU, and moral figures such as Desmond Tutu.

It will be hard for gay Episcopalians and our 2.4 million friends and family to forget that the coercion was about insisting that TEC throw us under a bus.

Rowan's actions were very, very painful. The new ABC has inherited a deeply wounded relationship. Wells words in 2007 were twisting the knife in that wound.

We're waiting for healing words from Canterbury. We are interested in communion. But what do we do if Canterbury hurls more deeply wounding attacks at our gay and lesbian members, including our children? In the global environment, it isn't Rowan vs. Schori. It's Rowan telling us that we're not created in the image of God, and aligning Canterbury with the "God hates fags" crowd in the US.

Taking a loving stance to accept all as created in the image of God is a much needed message of hope in the US. Imagine what the world would look like if we in TEC could convince our government to treat all lives equally?

I wish good luck for Ms. Wells and the new ABC. The situations in the CoE are complex, I hope that all can be worked out in a way that is a shining example for us all. The American experience with slavery and Civil Rights is that there isn't much of a "middle way" on justice. Maybe something miraculous will happen.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 4 March 2013 at 12:12am GMT

I understand that "the rest of us" meant institutions in your context, and likely that of Ms. Wells as well. But institutions are made of people. Unlike CoE (and Nigeria and Uganda) TEC is highly representative, we the people made those decisions. We were tuned into the Holy Spirit as deeply and honestly as we could be. We heard the cries of injustice in our country, past and present, we responded to the enormous need.

Our journey includes enormous suffering resulting from having gotten it very wrong: slavery, lynchings, total disruption of native peoples, gun violence, hate crimes against women, LGBT people, and immigrants, lack of social safety net, and crushing any one in the way of "Manifest Destiny." The suffering cries for justice and redemption.

Perhaps in the face of human need, the Holy Spirit has called us to move a little quicker.

Are those thoughts "exportable?" I would hope that responding to human need would be universal. I would hope that observing internationally agreed upon human rights (expressed by the UN and ECHR) would have enough respect to not be the cause of "breakup" in the Anglican Communion.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 4 March 2013 at 2:08am GMT

What Cynthia said.

I find your comments on this thread and throughout TA very very encouraging, Cynthia.

Also, knowing that TEC was there, with its bold, inclusive witness, has kept me going for decades.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Monday, 4 March 2013 at 1:58pm GMT

Thanks Laurence. For the record, I LOVE the UK and the sense of community I have with Anglicans there, and our worship together.

I appreciate how CoE is trying to hold everyone together. We tried very hard and failed. If CoE managed to do it, really do it, without diminishing WB's, and eventually LGBT persons, it would be miraculous. And a truly great example.

Although I am hopeful of that miracle, and believe that if ANYBODY can do it, it would be the British, long history indicates that justice, is justice and that doesn't leave much room for those who insist on injustice at the leadership table.

Finally, I do poke a bit here. Witness is an important element of Christian community. Telling our stories is a way to promote listening and engagement. If I didn't Witness, how would CoE members know that the remarks by Wells in 2007 and 2010, and actions of Rowan aligns them with the "God hates fags" crowd in the US? Regardless of their intentions, it is the ultimate result, and it is quite harmful. The suicidal teen and depressed adult who's just lost their job due to discrimination, are not going to be too concerned about the politics of the Anglican communion.

The human rights message has a much better chance of improving the conditions of Christians in Africa. I hope ++Justin gets onboard with that.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 4 March 2013 at 5:16pm GMT
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.