Comments: Primates gathering: Thursday news reports

This story may or may not be mere conjecture and rumour. Nonetheless:
'consequences in context of unanimous commitment to walk together' (Arun Arora)
What consequences will there be for those churches - Nigeria and Uganda - which gave their support to draconian anti-LGBT legislation, thus failing to walk together? Given that persuading our archbishops to comment on that legislation one year ago was like getting blood out of a stone, perhaps we can guess what the answer will be....

Posted by fr rob hall at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 2:19pm GMT

Whatever the spindoctors call it, these "consequences" are clearly undesirable, and to placate the Global South and their Gafcon vanguard, must have teeth.

Expect that moves to extend marriage equality in Canada and Scotland are now dead. I'm sure it'll have been made clear to both provinces that they're a hair's breadth away from "consequences" of their own. (Consequences. Jeez, it's like a gangsta movie.)

May not be total victory for Gafcon, but certainly a defeat for LGBT people, affirming Anglicans, and progressive religion in general. When the traditionalists have the numbers, the cash, the organization and the will, guess it's not surprising.

Ray of hope: this may nudge the majority of progressives towards organizing the fightback.

Posted by James Byron at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 2:21pm GMT

So GAFCON and the Global South are the new Anglican Communion? Well, well, I wonder who is to be the new equivalent of the Archbishop of Canterbury? I wonder as well if the priests and people of the 'new Anglican Communion' have been consulted about their new status? It's extraordinary what momentous decisions can be made simply by press release.

Posted by Nicholas Henderson at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 2:47pm GMT

Re rumored TEC sanctioning, sanctioned by whom one wonders? By the ABC? By A majority of Conservative primates? By All the Primates in a formal statement? It is difficult to imagine either the Canadian Primate or Scottish Primus signing on to that, isn't it?

In the case of Canada which has blessings of same sex unions, and whose Primate has already declared this meeting not to be a "decision making one", signing onto any formal sanctions or even a politically couched statement of "concern" could be construed as hypocritical or worse. In fact, one would hope not just for a refusal to sign on, but a counter statement distancing one's self from the whole thing.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 3:10pm GMT

Rev. Arun Arora says that phones were not confiscated, while George Conger says that his "sources" (or their "sources") say that phones were confiscated "before each session." Who's telling the truth?

On another point, Rev. Arora seems to be spinning this outcome so hard that he's getting dizzy.

"Consequences not discipline."

Really? And the distinction, from the TEC perspective, would be...what exactly?

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 3:24pm GMT

Just to mention... I remain fully in communion with The Episcopal Church in the US, regardless of any 'consequences' aka quasi-sanctions are imposed on them.

I assume all the signatories of the letter to the Archbishops will also remain in full communion. Basically, the issue for ABC is not to tell TEC what they ought to do, but to handle the situation in his own Province.

Rather than trying to appease other provinces, he should be firmly focussed on his pastoral responsibility for the Church of England.

And in that context, he faces a Church divided down the middle. He cannot say on his Church's behalf 'we will have impaired communion with TEC' because frankly that will be ignored by half his Church in England.

The real matter-in-hand for Justin and the Church of England involves how you 'deal with differences and diversity' within the Church of England.

If Justin concedes the point that different provinces can operate with different views of human sexuality, then it can't logically end at Provincial level. If Provinces can differ, then why not individual churches at the local level?

What we now have here in England is a Church in considerable protest - more than half the members affirm gay sexual relationships, contrary to what the bishops 'say' the Church believes. The letter with almost 4000 signatories was actually a significant moment. It was a complete riposte to the Bishops' Pastoral (sic) Letter. It was the gay friendly half of the Church coming out and going public (even if the bishops woefully failed to do so).

What Justin tries to do with other Provinces is frankly a powerless struggle to try to dominate Provinces with dogma he has no power to insist upon. Why on earth should TEC face 'consequences', other than to appease and placate conservative primates? It is out of Justin's hands to tell Provinces what in good conscience they should practise and believe.

His business is his own Province - England.

And it is out of Justin's hand to tell priests, local churches, PCCs, and their local communities what in conscience they should practise and believe.

I believe a network of opposition will build and grow from the Letter to the Archbishops. Because the Covenant is dead. England did not want it. The very least way (and probably the only way) the bishops can pastor to the different churches and consciences in the dioceses, is to embrace the principles of fundamental Christian unity and accommodation of difference - what operates as 'Unity in Diversity'.

There is *nothing* to stop Christians with different conscience positions on sex from co-existing and loving and serving together.

I am probably classed as 'liberal' in my views on sexuality (although I am conservative in my Carmelite spirituality).

But on Wednesday I joined my fellow Christians at my evangelical C of E church to pray: there were lots of traditionalists, but there was myself (a transsexual woman and lesbian) and another lesbian there as well. There was love and welcome. We prayed together in a week, and on a day, when unity and prayer were so much needed.

(continued in 2 of 2)

Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 3:35pm GMT

Will TEC be expected to continue paying the Communion's bills while under "sanction"?

Posted by JPM at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 3:39pm GMT

(continued...)

If the bishops insist on imposing uniformity, they are driving difference and division... and it's so unnecessary.

What we all need is not a uniform moral rectitude, but grace to love one another, grace to serve our local communities, grace to be ourselves, and grace to respect others with different views to our own.

Our union - and communion - is in Jesus Christ alone.

I remain fully in communion with the Episcopal Church. I will not leave the Church of England. But I will not accept the authority of the bishops either, over conscience, and the conscience of priests (who themselves have gay and lesbian children, cousins, relatives, friends - or may be gay or lesbian themselves).

Our local church communities need to find unity for themselves (as mine does - with the primacy of love). It is a unity that respects difference and conscience. To use the words of the Roman Emperor as the empire was collapsing, the Christians in the local churches in England 'must look to their own defences.'

It is local priests, PCCs and churches that should decide - in all good conscience - whether to affirm and celebrate gay sexuality and relationships.

The best way to do this would be a kind of alternative 'Covenant' stating that from a given date, churches, priests and Christians will step up and exercise conscience in actions. The signatories of the recent letter could do this, by signing again, and the Church would not collapse, the world would not stop turning, love would not stop loving...

...but the Bishops would simply have to live with a new reality. At present they seem to inhabit 'Wonderland'. To conclude: there is no uniformity, but we are still one in Christ.

It is time for collective action to repudiate the fantasy that uniformity of conscience can be imposed from above. It is time for a Covenant of Affirmation to be launched, to build on the recent 'Letter', with no threat of leaving the Church of England, but firmly insisting: "This is what we believe and this is what we will do."

It is unfair to leave individual priests to be picked off, refused ordination or permission to officiate, or - for goodness sake - to lose employment involving caring for the sick.

They can too easily be picked off, one by one, for their love and their devotion to partners. The 'Letter to the Archbishops' showed huge solidarity in principle with diverse sexualities and gender identities. Now that solidarity needs to be transformed into loving, decent, affirming - and joyful - action.

We owe it to LGBT people in our land. We owe it for the sake of the Church's reputation. We owe it to our own consciences.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 3:41pm GMT

"However the use of the word “sanctions” has been questioned by Arun Arora who tweeted:

“Acting within the love&grace of Jesus Not about sanctions but consequences in context of unanimous commitment to walk together”

and ” In context of Primates agreeing to walk together, it’s about consequences not discipline; all governed by love & grace of Jesus.”"

---------------

I see - there will be 'conseqences' not 'sanctions'. I wonder if these 'consequences' will bear any resemblance to the 'relational consequences' that were proposed by the Anglican Covenant?

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 3:44pm GMT

JPM, of course, and the sad thing is, they probably will. That's why they get sanc...consequenced, and Nigeria and Uganda get a total walk.

Posted by James Byron at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 4:01pm GMT

Re, there will be consequences, but will they be "dire consequences" or perhaps merely like the old game show Truth or Consequences? Perhaps the last line of any forthcoming statement from the ABC may be "let's hope all our consequences are happy ones"

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 4:30pm GMT

I am bitterly disappointed and angry at the way this is turning out. I'm straight, so if I feel as I do it's easy to imagine how my LGBTI brothers and sisters are feeling.

I sincerely hope that a network of opposition will indeed grow from the Letter. My patience is beginning to wear very thin.

Posted by Sue Whitlock at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 4:32pm GMT

Arun Arora only speaks in spin. It's worrying that he is in charge of communications in Lambeth

Posted by Chris A at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 4:39pm GMT

The lack of leaks from the meeting is a pretty good indication that the phones were in fact taken, isn't it?

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 4:47pm GMT

"healing the legacy of hurt" - That's rich.

Posted by Davis d'Ambly at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 4:57pm GMT

And it's all over but the crying.

It's a rout. By over two-thirds majority, the Episcopal Church has been stripped of voting rights, banned from representing the Communion, and booted off its committees. "Consequences" last for three years: why three years? 'Cause that's when the next General Convention is. If GC doesn't return TEC to "Godly order," (i.e., repeal equal marriage, impose celibacy on its priests, etc) TEC likely to be expelled.

Canada only escaped a similar fate thanks to some fast talk from Fred Hiltz. Same-sex marriage now dead as a doornail in Canada and all other provinces still active members of the Communion. TEC faced with Hobson's choice: roll back equality, or cease to be Anglican. I wouldn't like to bet on which way it'll go.

The traditionalists have triumphed, triumphed utterly, and didn't need a Covenant to do so. Through gritted teeth, I congratulate them on their political skill, and wonder if liberal Anglicanism is finished, or just in for a long slumber.

So, how's them Lutherans?

Posted by James Byron at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 4:58pm GMT

Just remember, the Anglican Church of Canada does not recognize this meeting, or any meeting of the primates, as being a decision-making body. No motion it may pass has any force or effect on us or on any other participant.

In any case, I have seen reports that a motion has been presented. I have seen no reports that it has been accepted.

Posted by John Holding at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 5:14pm GMT

James, I strongly doubt whether liberal-leaning voices in Canada (and of course, on this issue I'm not one of them, although many of my friends are) will be in any mood to pay attention to the primates' meeting. People's patience is wearing thin. I think General Synod will do what it thinks it is being called to do - and not 'called by the primates' meeting'.

I think there will be a lively debate at GS, but I think that the strongest voices playing the Anglican Communion card have already left the Anglican Church of Canada.

Rod Gillis, what do you think?

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 5:21pm GMT

Having spent much of today praying for the Communion and the Primates meeting, I have a very heavy heart. But I HAVE to believe that our God of grace and love is in control. Has the letter sent to ++Justin and ++Sentamu had no influence on them at all? We cannot allow bullyboy tactics to silence us, and what do I say to my LGBTI friends? I hope that when we hear further about the meeting and any 'resolutions' or 'outcomes' that all will not be as it seems at the moment. I wonder what difference there would have been in these meetings had any women been present? Forgive us, Father, we don't know what we are doing.

Posted by Anne at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 5:25pm GMT

I believe the ACC has its own constitution -- in fact, it is the only legally constituted "instrument" of the whole Communion. As far as I know, the Primates have no authority to remove the representatives of TEC who were elected to that body, short of an action by that body itself through amending the Schedule of Membership.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 5:26pm GMT

Fine, if they are going to "sanction" the Episcopal Church for three years, the I say that we Episcopalians decline to fund any Anglican Communion projects for that period of time. In fact, if the TEC leadership does not withhold such funds, I'm sure that many of us will review our contributions to the Episcopal Church. If the Presiding Bishop and the rest of our lame "leadership" continues to fund any AC projects, I will reduce my financial pledges by the same percentages. Human rights violators in Africa and elsewhere should not get off free while human rights supporters are "sanctioned" by bigots! No money for the Anglican Communion for the duration of the "sanctions"!

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Posted by Kurt Hill at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 5:28pm GMT

The liberal provinces could always just decide to 'do the right thing' (as they it) and set up their own church? "The Episcopal Church" anyone?

Posted by Rev Dave at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 5:29pm GMT

If ABC doesn't openly speak against sanctions then surely he has betrayed all those participating in the shared conversations. If the reports are true he should be expected to resign.

Posted by Kate at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 5:32pm GMT

Is TEC still expected to pay for the "Communion"?

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 5:33pm GMT

'[T]oday’s vote directs the archbishop to discipline the American church'

...except the archbishop is explicitly prohibited from acting on this request as a result of the votes in the diocesan synods of the CofE three years ago which defeated the Anglican Covenant (including its disciplinary mandate). It would be unconstitutional to do otherwise.

Posted by Andrew at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 5:36pm GMT

JPM's is a key question for me. TEC is being invited to embrace the Communion's version of taxation without representation. If TEC does not suspend its financial support as a corollary of these 'consequences' it will be enabling the Primates' behavior. Withdrawal of financial support would also not be sanctions but simply consequences.

Having said that, TEC has taken a prophetic stance with regard to same-sex relationships. Unfortunately, prophets can expect to be treated badly--it's part of the job description. But I hope the Primates' actions will not deter other churches, including my own Anglican Church of Canada, from joining TEC in its prophetic witness at General Synod this summer.

Posted by Ken Hull at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 5:42pm GMT

So somebody needs to ask at that press conference - whose 'hurt' do the primates have in mind here?

Posted by Cassandra at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 5:43pm GMT

No surprise. Same message from 1998 onwards. Just ignoring it wasn't going to work. Numbers matter. Respectability with Rome matters. Now, enough wasting time - who will set up tec(UK)..... & will Canada not stand and affiliate with TEC rather than accept moratoria ? Principles or position??

Posted by S Cooper at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 5:55pm GMT

It's not over, James.

It's just beginning.

Now it's time to exercise conscience, within the Church of England.

It's time to create a network of Affirming Christians - and to exercise conscience at parish and local community level.

The Archbishop does not *own* our consciences.

Each church, locally, now needs to decide for themselves if they are *still* in communion with TEC. Each church, locally, now needs to decide for themselves if they affirm the lives and relationships of gay and lesbian and bi and trans people. AND PUBLICLY SAY SO.

Really. Those of us who are LGBTQI need that. Not just hand-wringing. We need that acceptance and affirmation of who we are and the people we love.

So I am calling on people more connected and influential than a nobody like myself:

To work together on a fair and reasonable wording, as acceptable as possible to be signed by all LGBT Christians, priests, PCCs, of a Covenant of Affirmation:

>>> to affirm the loveliness and decency and preciousness of gay and lesbian relationships and lives, the right to be bi-, the integrity of trans people, and their rights to be free of prejudice and discrimination inside and outside the church

>>> to affirm, as each local church determines in good conscience, the relationships and commitments and lives of LGBT people in their church and in the local community they serve

>>> to affirm that there are many Christians in the Church of England who value and celebrate LGBT people and their lives, for who they are, and how they live, including their sexual devotion and intimacy, as well as their care, and service of the community

>>> to affirm unity in Jesus Christ, but diversity of conscience, that should be respected, and cannot be dictated by bishop or archbishop

>>> to affirm the right of other Christians to hold different views to our own, in their own conscience, but to love and value them as Christians who share union with Jesus Christ

>>> to affirm the importance of grace, more than imposed uniformity; to affirm the grace that comes from working at co-existence, from serving together, from praying for each other; the grace to truly love one another, even those we disagree with

>>> to affirm the dignity and recognition the nation has decided to afford LGBT people, and to affirm our commitment to love and serve LGBT people too

This Covenant of Affirmation could be a follow-up to the 'Letter to the Archbishops' and ideally state a date, from which time, the individual or priest or PCC or church will decide their own consciences on this issue. A date and deadline after which conscience will be exercised at local level.

If enough people make a stand of conscience and integrity, the Archbishop cannot 'close down' local communities and churches. It just takes the courage to stand up for your conscience.

(continued in 2 of 2...)

Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 6:08pm GMT

(continued...)

Please bear in mind: each day, lesbian, trans, gay, bi and gender different people have to exercise courage. We get abused on the street. We sometimes get overlooked for jobs or turned down for housing. We are told - including by the Church - that our lives and relationships are not as good as other people's. We face scorn or abuse for who we are, some more than others. Young people at school get bullied. It takes real courage to make a stand for who you are.

Will Christians in the Church of England now (please) have the courage to make a stand for decency, conscience, justice, and affirmation of who people have a right to be?

Because justice and conscience can't be suppressed forever. Our lives are diminished day by day by an 'official' Church that claims our lives are sinful and less ideal than other peoples, thereby offering mandate and succour to bullies who can turn and claim 'Even the Church disagrees with your lives.'

I really hope an influential group can become core signatories of a Covenant of Affirmation, then open it up to others to sign... to come out for... to go public for.

The darkest hour is just before the dawn. It's not over, as long as there are people of good conscience, who know it and feel it in their consciences - that this can't be allowed to go on, and that individuals and local churches must act on their own consciences, and not have conscience dictated to them, on this matter of human dignity and value.

Let us keep loving one another, not giving way to hatred. Let us pray for our Church. Let us pray for The Episcopal Church and remain in solidarity and communion with them.

Finally, please pray for all gay, bi, lesbian, trans and otherwise gender-different people... for their forgiveness, for their hurt... and that we, as Christians, may tell them clearly they are a gift to our church, they are welcome, their lives are precious.

Because, honestly, in this day and age, Jesus who came down from heaven for each of us, each one of us an outsider along the margins of eternity... would he cast the lives and loves of LGBT people outside the Kingdom (as Nicky Gumbel put it in his Alpha text, and as the conservative primates seem to think)? Or would he know, and understand, and love, and embrace, and value, and affirm and celebrate?

Then let us affirm as well, in the name of Jesus.

But let us recognise that other good Christians hold different positions of conscience, and include them too. We can live and serve our communities together. We can dare to be diverse and different. We can be in communion.

Let love come first, above all. And love strong enough to follow our consciences, and stand up for what we believe is right.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 6:10pm GMT

"Will TEC be expected to continue paying the Communion's bills while under "sanction"?"

I've generally believed in staying engaged, no matter what. But it might be time to consider putting that considerable sum (I forget how many million dollars) into real mission and make an impact on the suffering of the world.

I think most TEC members are checked out already. Rowan's behaviour was egregious, Justin's is more of the same. And we can look to the treatment of the three Jeremy's any time we get sentimental about our historical connection to the ABC.

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 6:47pm GMT

This is disgusting. Those of you in the Church of England: How do you deal with the shame of being connected to that organization? By doing nothing, by putting up and accepting things you are responsible for this state of affairs. How do you even walk into the door of a Church of England parish and not feel dirty? Two decades of the Episcopal Church being treated like this by the English should have prepared us for this. But this is a line too far. We should "sanction" the Church of England for homophobia and hardness of heart and plant bishops and congregations to help those willing to walk out of the CofE. Lets see how much of the one million average Sunday attendance we can peel away. Shouldn't be too hard as your crowd are sitting on hundreds of empty buildings.

Posted by Dennis at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 7:02pm GMT

I think the real question is whether or not same sex marriages are headed off in Scotland and Canada. Otherwise, really, what effect does this have on the average Episcopalian, or Anglican? Do they even CARE there's an Anglican Communion?

Posted by I_T at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 7:03pm GMT

Depressed, depressed, depressed. A real pity that the 'liberal' provinces were browbeaten into agreeing to this.

Posted by Richard at Thursday, 14 January 2016 at 8:02pm GMT

From Morning Prayer for 1/15, very appropriate for TEC, and to remind us that there are godly in the land left to associate with, and spend our God-entrusted money with and on:

Psalm 16

1 Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you; *
I have said to the LORD, “You are my Lord,
my good above all other.”
2 All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land, *
upon those who are noble among the people.
3 But those who run after other gods *
shall have their troubles multiplied.
4 Their libations of blood I will not offer, *
nor take the names of their gods upon my lips.
5 O LORD, you are my portion and my cup; *
it is you who uphold my lot.
6 My boundaries enclose a pleasant land; *
indeed, I have a goodly heritage.
7 I will bless the LORD who gives me counsel; *
my heart teaches me, night after night.
8 I have set the LORD always before me; *
because you are at my right hand I shall not fall.
9 My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices; *
my body also shall rest in hope.
10 For you will not abandon me to the grave, *
nor let your holy one see the Pit.
11 You will show me the path of life; *
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 17

1 Hear my plea of innocence, O LORD;
give heed to my cry; *
listen to my prayer, which does not come from lying lips.
2 Let my vindication come forth from your presence; *
let your eyes be fixed on justice.
3 Weigh my heart, summon me by night, *
melt me down; you will find no impurity in me.
4 I give no offense with my mouth as others do; *
I have heeded the words of your lips.
5 My footsteps hold fast to the ways of your law; *
in your paths my feet shall not stumble.
6 I call upon you, O God, for you will answer me; *
incline your ear to me and hear my words.
7 Show me your marvelous loving-kindness, *
O Savior of those who take refuge at your right hand
from those who rise up against them.
8 Keep me as the apple of your eye; *
hide me under the shadow of your wings,
9 From the wicked who assault me, *
from my deadly enemies who surround me.
10 They have closed their heart to pity, *
and their mouth speaks proud things.
11 They press me hard,
now they surround me, *
watching how they may cast me to the ground,
12 Like a lion, greedy for its prey, *
and like a young lion lurking in secret places.
13 Arise, O LORD; confront them and bring them down; *
deliver me from the wicked by your sword.
14 Deliver me, O LORD, by your hand *
from those whose portion in life is this world;
15 Whose bellies you fill with your treasure, *
who are well supplied with children
and leave their wealth to their little ones.
16 But at my vindication I shall see your face; *
when I awake, I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 15 January 2016 at 5:55am GMT

As a member of the C of E, Dennis, I don't know how to deal with the shame that this statement brings upon us. I have said before in these pages that I feared that ++Welby was going to break the C of E on the wheel of trying to satisfy the GAFCON primates, and I think he may just have done exactly that, or at least gone a long way down the road towards it.
It certainly puts paid to any small hopes of anything meaningful emerging from the 'shared conversations' in the C of E about its own position on these issues.
Appeasement never works, and it will prove impossible to satisfy the GAFCON primates. In my view, their walking out of the meeting, and of the Anglican Communion, would have been a far better outcome, allowing people to move forward in the right way for them. This just 'kicks the can down the road' and freezes the division for 3 years, without any clarity at all about what will happen after that.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Friday, 15 January 2016 at 11:19am GMT
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