Comments: SEC General Synod - day one

Having so recently threatened the stability of SEC with its ACCORD with the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, one might have thought that the Head of the Church of England would step very carefully in his relationship to the Episcopal Church of Scotland.

We are only just getting over the implied threat to the stability of TEC - The Episcopal Church in the U.S. - by the ABC's conservative friends among the Communion prelates.

No doubt people will remember the time when the Church of Eengland refused to ordain Bishops for the new Anglican Church in the United States (ECUSA). The Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC stepped into that gap, ordaining TEC's first Anglican Bishop.

This implied threat from the 'Mother Church' could well signal another blow to the Anglican ethos of 'Unity in Diversity that formerly marked us out as a fellowship of equals.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 10 June 2016 at 6:16am BST

The problem is that nothing that Canterbury or the Anglican Communion does *will* threaten the stability of TEC. The only thing that does that is the perception of TEC's incredibly lukewarm and watered-down commitment to social and spiritual justice and compassion by repeatedly demanding others to suffer so that the structure can remain in contact with a corrupt and corrupting organization masquerading as a "communion."

No judge is going to care about a group of foreign churches and a pompous little man from England when deciding about U. S. church property. The ones who were going to leave over the move towards justice and compassion have left, and the few that *might* leave were only ever committed to playing at a sort of Roman Catholicism without the inconvenience of celibacy and having to actually listen to anyone. They will find some other pretty structure to inhabit until demands are made on them. Those would be more than balanced by a bitter and betrayed population, straddling a wide demographic of race, age, and social standing who want a church that will actually stand up against what they (we, rather) perceive as a corrupt, possibly evil, stagnation from the right-wing, and long for the structure of liturgy and a guiding hierarchy. Right now, they see business as usual, no commitment and a focus on what's best for those in power - the same as the secular world. There *is* no threat to TEC, only the possibility of honest and growth to a better world in God's Hands.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 10 June 2016 at 8:41am BST

"No doubt people will remember the time when the Church of Eengland (sic) refused to ordain Bishops for the new Anglican Church in the United States."

1. There was no episcopal church when Seabury was ordained; he was sent by loyalists in the state of CT;
2. Seabury was an ardent Tory and no revolutionary, which made him also suspect by many;
3. He wanted to be consecrated in the Church of England, and indeed pressed their cause for BCP issues (descent clause; Creed of Athanasius) when later the Episcopal Church developed and sought to create a PB;
4. He was not consecrated in the CofE because he could not take an oath of conformity; it was not lifted for oversees clergy until later;
5. The only expediency available to him was to seek ordination in the non-juring SEC; this fact also put him at cross purposes with White and Provoost and other Episcopalians, though peace was finally secured when a 4th bishop was consecrated in MD by all three.

There is a very good history of the SEC available which also tells how it was that a man forgotten to almost all Scots (Seabury) re-emerged in the early 20th century, in the context of trying to raise funds to build a cathedral in Aberdeen. It is written by a member of the SEC and published locally.

Posted by cseitz at Friday, 10 June 2016 at 9:06am BST

Re Seabury -- he was unable to take the oath of allegiance to the British Crown and the archbishops were unable to consecrate anyone without a royal mandate and without the person having been elected to a diocesan See in England, or appointed as a suffragan bishop in England. The Consecration of Bishops Abroad Act 1786 permitted the archbishops to consecrate foreign subjects without requiring them to take the oaths of allegiance, supremacy and obedience.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Friday, 10 June 2016 at 9:59am BST

Of course the Primates overstepped their powers. (Was it even a properly noticed Primates' meeting?)

That aside, I will be fascinated to watch Parliament react as the Archbishop of Canterbury imposes "discipline" on another Anglican Church within the United Kingdom.

Methinks the fur is about to fly again in Westminster.

As it should.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 10 June 2016 at 10:30am BST

cseitz's laudable attempt to correct some misconceptions about Seabury's consecration could be interpreted (probably against his intention) to argue that this early connection between the SEC and TEC is mostly historical accident and Seabury's consecration was purely a matter of administrative convenience.

There's one glaring piece of evidence that the early TEC-SEC relationship was stronger than this argument implies. Compare the Communion services of the 1662 BCP of the Church of England with the 1789 American Book of Common Prayer. Notice what follows the Words of Institution in 1789, but not in 1662. Why it's the Oblation and the Invocation! The words that draw the liturgy from a fully memorialist to a bloodless sacrifice of thanksgiving interpretation. And you'll find these words in the 1637 Scottish Book, too.

Now interestingly enough, William White had to submit the 1789 BCP to English review before his consecration. The Archbishops at the time insisted on a few changes, including restoration of some omissions from the Apostle's Creed. However, I do not recall whether they objected to the pre-1662 Eucharistic Prayer.

However, this suggests there was enough theological alignment with Scotland over England in the early Episcopal Church to align the Eucharistic Prayer in a 1549/1637 direction. And we likely don't have William White to blame, who would have made a Scottish Primus faint away with his habit of using the Holy Table as an umbrella stand.

Posted by Caelius Spinator at Friday, 10 June 2016 at 10:31am BST

What would ABC have the Primus do? Is he supposed to defy the democratic decision of the Synod if it votes to allow ssm? Is the Primus supposed to resign?

Posted by Kate at Friday, 10 June 2016 at 12:45pm BST

Seabury wrote tracts defending the Scottish HC service; I have not said otherwise in my comments. He agreed to this rite in exchange for his consecration. The Scottish prelates had fascinating exchanges with the Eastern Church and were in favor of the epiclesis. As the saying goes, "The Orthodox know everything about the RC's and love nothing, and about Anglicans they know nothing and love everything."

Seabury also wrote stout tracts arguing for the loyalist cause under a pseudonym (A.W. Farmer), and was chaplain to the King's regiment when on Long Island. Alexander Hamilton was his antagonist interlocutor.

Of course his trek north to Scotland was borne of expedience. He never said otherwise. He was a Priest ordained in the Church of England and wanted to be consecrated there. He was unable to be consecrated because of the necessity of the oath.

Posted by cseitz at Friday, 10 June 2016 at 2:21pm BST

Who are the member churches of the Reformed grouping? Presbyterian Church USA? The Church of Scotland? The Reformed Church of France?

Aren't most of these churches either in favour of same-sex marriage or on the way there?

Perhaps they should object if David Chillingworth is removed from this post.

Very odd that you can't be leading dialogue with more progressive churches because you are seen as too progressive yourself!

Posted by Iain Baxter at Friday, 10 June 2016 at 2:50pm BST

Expanded citation from the report of the Primus re the Primates meeting:

" I believe that the Primates Meeting has acted beyond its powers. That is not an issue about Human Sexuality but about Anglican polity and governance. Some of us now - but all of us eventually - will have to address issues of human sexuality. To adopt a sanctions-based approach to the internal discipline of the Anglican Communion - when we have already rejected the Anglican Covenant - seems to me to be a real pity."

The Anglican church of Canada has just been told that its General Synod will not be voting on the Covenant this time around. (see link).

Also, some cracks in the Canadian Order of Bishops, which has a veto at its GS, are also appearing. (see link)

This is very much an issue of polity and governance. Synodical polity, as well as consultative mechanisms like ACC, are under siege from a liege lord type of international episcopacy. There is a lot at stake. In the meantime we do the cause of human rights on the planet no favor by placating the hierarchy of Provinces that labour under appalling human rights abuses.

Hopefully, the so called covenant is dead in the water. Ironically, the power grab by primates may have been the final salvo that sinks it.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Friday, 10 June 2016 at 3:21pm BST

There is no question that Bishop Samuel Seabury was a Tory supporter during the War of the Revolution (which is why New York’s Bishop Samuel Provoost would have nothing to do with him). However, like many others he rapidly reconciled himself to the new American Republic. In 1785 he became the first bishop of any American denomination to wear a miter in the performance of his ecclesiastical duties. He may have also have worn a chasuble about this time as well (perhaps a keepsake of his contacts with the Danish Church while cooling his heels in London). The Communion Office he introduced into the American Prayer Book of 1789 certainly had influences from the more Catholic 1549 and 1637 Prayer Books. Not only that but Bishop Seabury also reflected Scottish Episcopal influence in that he provided for the Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament for the sick and home-bound by inserting a specific phrase into the 1789 Communion Office.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Posted by Kurt Hill at Friday, 10 June 2016 at 3:45pm BST

Here's the Anglican Communion's webpage on the Anglican - Reformed dialogue.

The most recent communiqué lists Reformed members of the Dialogue as being present from the United Reformed Church, the Church of Scotland, the Church of South India, and the Dutch Reformed Church and a consultant from the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa. They represent the World Communion of Reformed Churches, which has 225+ members.

Posted by Peter Owen at Friday, 10 June 2016 at 5:11pm BST

I see that four English bishops are now offering to provide "alternative episcopal oversight" to Scotland.


The gentlemen involved are: The Rt Rev John Ellison, The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, The Rt Rev Wallace Benn, and The Rt Rev Ken Barham.

Is it not time that the persecuted LGBT Anglicans in Nigeria, Uganda, etc, etc, were offered alternative episcopal oversight? Or even those priests who are unable to marry in England?

Will their Archbishop condemn this border-crossing incursion?

Posted by Iain Baxter at Saturday, 11 June 2016 at 4:29am BST

To clarify the status of the four English bishops.

Kenneth Barham was consecrated a bishop in 1993, and served as a diocesan bishop in Rwanda from 1996 until his retirement in 2001.

John Ellison was the diocesan bishop of Paraguay from 1998 to 2007 when he retired.

Wallace Benn was Area Bishop (ie a suffragan bishop) of Lewes from 1997 until 2012 when he retired.

Michael Nazir-Ali was Bishop of Rochester from 1994 to 2009 when he retired early. Previously he had been diocesan Bishop of Raiwind (in Pakistan) from 1984 to 1986.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Saturday, 11 June 2016 at 8:55pm BST
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