Two radio reports today:
Same sex blessings
The worldwide Anglican Communion finally gets to see the Eames Report this month. Named after Archbishop Robin Eames, who chaired the commission, it’s meant to chart a way forward out of the crisis over same sex blessings and the election of the practising homosexual Bishop Gene Robinson. Conservatives in Africa and around the world want The Commission to recommend throwing the Episcopal Church USA – or ECUSA – out of the Anglican Communion. And also to reject the man it endorsed as Bishop of New Hampshire. Many predict schism if the American Church isn’t called upon to “repent”. But as Jane Little reports from New Hampshire the break up is already happening. Listen here (9 minutes)
The long standing row about whether women should be able to become Bishops in The Church of England, and whether one day there might be a woman Archbishop, is coming to a head. Next month the so called “Rochester Report” will be published but its contents have been widely leaked. It will apparently put forward seven options, from which Synod can choose. For Forward in Faith, the organisation which opposes the ordination of women as Bishops, or indeed as priests, there are only two options which they will outline in their own report, to be published next Friday. These are either to maintain the status quo where all Bishops are men, or set up an independent or free province of the Church for those who cannot accept women Bishops. Roger Bolton reports. Listen here (7 minutes)
The Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold issued this letter to the HOB members after the meeting, which discusses plans for Lambeth Commission followup and contains at the end of it the text of a resolution passed concerning the transfer of clergy between dioceses. The letter is here among other places. The wording of the resolution is also below the fold here.
Bishop John Chane of Washington DC issued a letter concerning the visits of bishops to his diocese. You can read it on the diocesan website here.
Mind of the House Resolution
Resolved: That the transfer of a canonical residence to a diocese in another Province of the Anglican Communion shall meet the following guidelines:
(a) The bishop is satisfied that the ministry of the person requesting transfer is to be exercised within the geographic boundaries of the diocese or the Province of the Anglican Communion to which the transfer is to be made.
(b) The bishop is satisfied that there are no pending disciplinary proceedings or related matters regarding the individual requesting the transfer.
(Explanation: The House of Bishops rejects the practice of transfer of canonical residence to allow a priest or bishop to exercise ordained ministry outside of the geographical boundaries of his or her canonical license.)
In Los Angeles, Bishop Bruno has said that he will not take legal action against Bishop Maurice Benitez: Bishop to Hold Off on Charges
Meanwhile NACDAP has published this Analysis of Bishop Bruno’s Lawsuit Against St. James Church, Newport Beach (it would be more comprehensible if the source documents were available)
The ECUSA House of Bishops has held a meeting in Spokane. Larry Stammer reported on it this way: Bishops End Session With Hope and here is the ENS press release, A word to the Episcopal Church from the House of Bishops.
Another ENS press release is subtitled House of Bishops informed of network leaders’ plan to launch parallel agency and refers to this announcement by NACDAP: Anglican Relief and Development Fund Launched. The same body had earlier claimed that SUPPORT AND RECOGNITION OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION NETWORK INCREASES. The figures in that release deserve some analysis in due course.
Yet another item of interest from this HoB meeting is on titusonenine and is Bishop Epting’s House of Bishops’ Presentation concerning the status of ECUSA’s ecumenical relations.
A new story in the Daily Pilot by Deepa Bharath
St. James secession nets lord’s judgment
NEWPORT BEACH — St. James Church leaders hailed a former archbishop’s criticism of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles for suing three churches from the diocese.
The Canadian Anglican Journal has a useful reprise of previous events:
ECUSA’s troubles continue with three parishes seceding
Stephen Bates reports in the Guardian
US bishops’ cash threat as split over gays widens
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is being warned that North American bishops will cut off funds from the Anglican church in Africa if they are disciplined for supporting the election of a gay bishop, in a row which threatens to split the worldwide church.
Update This story is generating a lot of comment from Americans, see for instance Money, sex and power by Doug LeBlanc which has lots of links to related material.
Ruth Gledhill reports in The Times
Carey fights for the palace Batman
THE former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, has spoken out in support of the intruders at Buckingham Palace, arguing that they were “right to draw attention” to their plight.
He said that the actions of the Fathers 4 Justice campaigners were born out of society’s “sad and sorry departure” from traditional marriage and the increasingly commonplace phenomenon of fatherless families. He also called for a radical rethink of the orthodox Christian understanding of marriage, which is based on St Paul’s dictum that “the man is the head of the woman”.
and the story concludes with this:
He said that the Church must also take responsibility for the situation, having for centuries assigned a submissive and compliant role to married women, which no longer bore relation to reality.
Two further items on the current ECUSA situation which are worth a read:
First courtesy of titusonenine an article from The Living Church magazine
Bryan Owen: Beware of the Trojan Horse
The Rev. Bryan Owen is the rector of the Church of the Incarnation, West Point, Miss.horse; this appeared as a viewpoint article in the September 19, 2004 issue of THE LIVING CHURCH magazine. (The Reader’s Viewpoint article does not necessarily represent the editorial opinion of The Living Church or its board of editors.)
Second, this from the PBS TV programme Religion & Ethics News Weekly
Ongoing Tensions in the Episcopal Church
Correspondent Kim Lawton reports from a conservative Episcopal church in northern Virginia where the former Archbishop of Canterbury rather than the local bishop presided on Sept. 15 at confirmation services — another sign of division over the Episcopal Church’s support of its first openly gay bishop.
Today’s BBC radio programme Sunday has further material about Lord Carey’s visit to Virginia.
Listen here with Real Audio (5.5 minutes) including a substantial interview with the former archbishop conducted by Jane Little.
The BBC’s blurb for it says:
Bishop Peter Lee
“Needlessly provocative” is what the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement called the former Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision to fly into Virginia this week to confirm three hundred people into the Episcopal Church. They came from twelve of the nearly two hundred parishes that make up the Diocese of Virginia that officially falls under the command of Bishop Peter Lee. But these twelve parishes are deeply troubled by his endorsement of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire and so they shunned him. Bishop Lee says the solution was to invite Lord Carey to take his place, and that it wasn’t, in his view, inflammatory.
The whole of the programme will be of interest to Americans, see the list of items here (this link will break after a week).
See also Religion and politics in America
Lord Carey confirmed in the Diocese of Virginia this week, at the invitation of the diocesan bishop, Peter Lee.
The Washington Post reported it this way:
Va. Episcopalians Enlist Ex-Archbishop’s Services
Here is the Associated Press report as it appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch
Former Archbishop of Canterbury hopes to heal split among U.S. Episcopal churches
The BBC’s Jane Little reported it as: Lord Carey confirms US Anglicans
Although British newspapers had reported the long-planned event some weeks ago, no other British reports have appeared this week.
Frank Griswold has written a letter to ECUSA bishops in which he comments on the forthcoming report of the Lambeth Commission. You can read the letter here.
Update the letter has now been published by Episcopal News Service and that copy can be read here.
Mark Harris has today published a new article in which he takes note of new information received. The new article can be read here.
The new information itself appeared on titusonenine on 5 September and can be read in its original form here together with numerous comments about it, and referring back to the original piece.
You can read a further critique of the new article by Mark Harris from a conservative viewpoint here.
Update later comments from titusonenine can be read here.
On the BBC’s Sunday radio programme an interview with Frank Griswold
Listen here with Real Audio. 6 minutes long.
The BBC’s blurb:
On Friday it was announced that the Lambeth Commission on Communion will publish its report on the 18th October. The commission, chaired by Archbishop Robin Eames is trying to find a way of holding the fragmenting Anglican communion together. The commission says it expects to propose radical changes in the ways Anglicanism relates to its different constituencies. The Dean of Southwark, Colin Slee, has now warned that a “civil war” could result. This latest and gravest crisis was triggered by the decision of the Episcopal Church in the United States, ECUSA, to elect the practising homosexual Canon Gene Robinson, to the office of Bishop, and by the blessing of same sex unions in Canada. The man who consecrated Gene Robinson is the presiding Bishop of ECUSA, Frank Griswold, who is preaching in St Paul’s Cathedral later today. Earlier Roger asked him how he would react, if as has been rumoured, the Eames Commission recommended ECUSA be disciplined? Would a civil war result?
Since earlier in the week, a number of further reports have appeared:
9 Sep Daily Pilot “Community Commentary” by Timothy Titus St. James property debate stacked against local church
10 Sep Daily Pilot “Readers Respond” St. James secession emotional
10 Sep titusonenine Statement in Response to Lawsuits Filed on September 7, 2004, by the Diocese of Los Angeles and Bishop J. Jon Bruno Against St. James, All Saints’ and St. David’s Anglican Churches
11 Sep Daily Pilot Churches respond to diocese lawsuit
Lawyers for St. James in Newport Beach and two other breakaway churches say legal claims show ‘true colors’ of the Los Angeles diocese.
This story is getting more confusing.
Doug LeBlanc thinks it is impossible for Bishop Robert O’Neill of Colorado to be present in London on the timetable Jonathan Petre has proposed:
Through the space-time continuum with Bishop Robert O’Neill.
ENS has issued an explanation from the Diocese of Massachusetts about why the meeting is happening in the first place:
Massachusetts diocese issues clarification about Bishops’ Meeting in London
The meeting was first discussed among the group in April as an opportunity for two newer bishops and two established bishops to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury and was subsequently scheduled in June.
This shows that Petre also had one name wrong: it is the current Bishop of Ohio, Mark Hollingsworth, not the retired bishop thereof whom he named, who is involved.
Earlier, ENS had issued this note about Griswold’s preaching engagement at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Kendall Harmon asks various questions about why this reporting is happening now, not earlier, and other matters in More on the Trip of the four Bishops to London (scroll down to the part in italics).
Personally, I think that Rowan Williams is entitled to keep his engagement diary private.
Los Angeles Times Larry Stammer Diocese Sues Breakaway Parishes
Episcopalians lay claim to property in North Hollywood, Long Beach and Newport Beach.
Daily Pilot Diocese files suit against church
Episcopal bishop says property belongs to the national church. Local leaders hold steadfast in their secession stand.
AP via L.a. Daily News Southland Episcopalian churches sued for revolt
Doug LeBlanc has reflections on the Los Angeles Times coverage by Larry Stammer in this post on GetReligion: Qualifying a bishop’s words
5 Sep Associated Press via LA Daily News Breakaway parishes meet
5 Sep Long Beach Press-Telegram For All Saints, another Sunday worship
6 Sep Daily Pilot St. James receives a Texas-size boost
Maurice Benitez, former bishop of the Diocese of Texas, encourages nondenominational path.
7 Sep Los Angeles Times Priest Steers O.C. Parish Through Rough Waters
Leader of a church that left Episcopal diocese has had a long journey to the center of schism.
The Los Angeles Times carries two stories by Larry B Stammer under the heading
EPISCOPAL CHURCH SCHISM
Push to Be Inclusive Creates a Divide
By reaching out to homosexuals, L.A. Bishop J. Jon Bruno alienated three parishes. He’s no stranger to crisis.
A Prelate of Evangelical Intensity
Ugandan berates the American church and says it’s departed from historic teachings.
And the Daily Pilot had this editorial comment:
Church practicing what they preach
There is also material about Los Angeles, including a quote from Archbishop Orombi, in this BBC radio report by the Sunday programme which deals first with the Lambeth Commission story. Listen here (Real Audio)
The Church and homosexuality - Liberal Anglicans in Britain have told us they may seek Episcopal oversight from pro-gay American Bishops if the Church of England supports the Anglican Communion in disciplining the American wing of the church for supporting homosexuality…
First, a reprise of events so far is available in this NPR radio report:
Gay Bishop Ordination Still Rocking Episcopal Church which includes interview quotes from Bishop Bruno
Second, and new today:
Larry Stammer Los Angeles Times Bishop Asserts Control
L.A.’s Episcopal prelate assigns assistant bishops to take over three breakaway parishes.
Deepa Bharath Daily Pilot L.A. bishop fires leaders of churches
Head of Episcopal diocese informs pastors, vestries of three breakaway churches, including Newport Beach church, that new priests, directors to take over in their communities.
Update Orange County Register 3 parishes’ Episcopal clergy replaced
Copies of a letter to one parish about this from Bishop Bruno, and of the press statement issued by all three parishes in reply to these letters can be found on titusonenine headed The Episcopal Controversy in Los Angeles Escalates Still Further
Updated Tuesday 31 August
Los Angeles Times Breakaway Parishes Refuse to Hand Over Their Records
Daily Pilot Churches fire back at claims of diocese
Long Beach Press-Telegram Churches refuse demands
Associated Press version via San Luis Obispo Tribune Breakway Episcopal parishes reject refusal to surrender churches
Another story, from The Monitor (Kampala) Orombi Backs US Break-Away Parishes via allAfrica.com
“It is a distress call from those parishes which did not support homosexuality. They were literally desperate. It’s like when someone’s house catches fire and they are screaming for help, you just can’t turn away. We are not asking for administrative jurisdiction. Those [breakaway parishes] need our fellowship,” Orombi said, adding that Uganda had been approached for help and not the other way round.
…Orombi said the American Episcopal Church’s support to gays had betrayed the position of the global Anglican community during the Lambeth Conference in 1998 when 800 bishops voted against the practice of homosexuality.
“We all agreed to keep the traditional view of marriage. Afterwards they went ahead to approve the election of a gay bishop, Gene Robinson,” Orombi said.
And another Ugandan newspaper, the Kampala-based New Vision has Three US Parishes Join Luweero Diocese via allAfrica.com
Three more items - Monday 30 August
The Episcopal News Service has a further report on this:
Los Angeles bishop seeks reconciliation with departing clergy, parishioners as legal deadline nears
LA Daily News Standing firm in secession
And this from The Monitor (Kampala) via allAfrica.com dated today:
Anglican Church Oversees US Parishes
Uganda’s Anglican Church has offered leadership to three parishes in the US after they fell out with their local church over disagreements on homosexuality.
US media reports say the parishes of Newport Beach, Long Beach and North Hollywood, all in Los Angeles, decided to ally with Uganda in defiance of the Episcopal Authority of LA Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jon Bruno, because he supported gay marriages.
Uganda, which also opposes homosexuality, has accepted to lead the dissident US churches. It is reported that the Rt. Rev. Evans Kisekka, the Bishop of Luweero, said he would act as the bishop for the three parishes, a position reportedly backed by the Church of Uganda. Kisekka could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Sources within the Anglican Church confirmed the development yesterday. A highly placed source said Uganda had accepted pastoral oversight over the US churches, but would not be taking over administration.
“A Diocese in Rwanda has also taken pastoral oversight over some US parishes as well as some Asian churches which have also taken over pastoral oversight of US churches,” the source said, but declined to be named.
…Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi said he would offer an explanation today.
The Los Angeles Times reports today that:
Episcopal Diocese Demands Property
and the Long Beach Press-Telegram carries:
Parishes asked to give up control
while the Daily Pilot has:
Pastor leads church in secession struggle.
And here in the UK, the Guardian finally noticed the story, as Stephen Bates filed this brief report:
US parishes defect as gay rift deepens.
Across the USA, this Associated Press report is now appearing:
L.A. Episcopal diocese demands property from breakaway parishes here via the San Diego Union Tribune
According to the Church of England Newspaper the retired bishop of Texas Maurice Benitez will exercise pastoral oversight, on behalf of Bishop Kisseka of Luweero, over the (so far, three) Los Angeles parishes who have separated themselves from their geographic diocese.
This information is included in the report Americans win support which also covers the George Carey in Virginia story, as well as the Los Angeles/Uganda one.
The latter is not mentioned in this week’s Church Times although that paper does have a report on the Virginia matter Carey becomes flying bishop in Virginia as well as a brief mention of Robert Duncan’s use of a 9/11 analogy for ECUSA ECUSA is ‘like 9/11’.
Another LA report from the Long Beach Press-Telegram
26 August Church leader backs bishop over dissenters
The Episcopal News Service issued this press release on Wednesday afternoon:
which prompted two newspapers so far to print this report by Larry Stammer:
Los Angeles Times Top Episcopal Bishop ‘Troubled’ by Breakaway Churches
Boston Globe Episcopal head raps parish takeover
The lack of coverage of this news story outside Southern California, and especially in the UK, continues to surprise me.
A couple more newspaper stories:
Long Beach Gazette All Saints Breaks With National Church
AP Religion News in Brief leads with an item about LA (here via MyrtleBeachOnline but appearing in papers across the USA)
First three reports from the Orange County Register (hat tip KH)
20 August Showdown on horizon for diocese, churches
23 August Local parish defends split from church
25 August Third Episcopal church realigns
Next another official statement from Bishop Jon Bruno as reported by the American Anglican Council: Third Church in Diocese of LA Disassociates from ECUSA
24 August Bruno statement now also available from the LA diocesan website
25 August Griswold statement from LA diocesan website
And the official press release from St David’s Church also via AAC:
St. David’s Church Disassociates from ECUSA and Aligns Itself with the Worldwide Anglican Communion
And from titusonenine a reader has sent in the text of a letter apparently sent to all parishioners at (all?) the dissenting parishes by the Bishop of Los Angeles
To the members of All Saints Episcopal Church in Long Beach
Larry B. Stammer in the Los Angeles Times has the story:
North Hollywood Parish Is Third to Leave the Episcopal Church
There was also this in the Long Beach Press-Telegram
3rd church to leave diocese
Other recent press reports:
AP wire service based on LA Times Third SoCal parish breaks off affiliation from Episcopal church
earlier AP report Angelican [sic] archbishop supports breakaway Episcopal parishes
The Archbishop of Uganda has issued a statement which has been published so far only by the American Anglican Council and titusonenine and not by either of the two parishes (or indeed the Ugandan provincial website):
Here is an extract from that statement:
We have recently concluded the 17th Provincial Assembly of the Province of the Church of Uganda. During that meeting, the Assembly affirmed the House of Bishops’ stance of broken communion with ECUSA, and at the same time declared its commitment to, support for, and communion with clergy and parishes of the Anglican Communion Network who seek to uphold biblical orthodoxy and the faith once delivered to the saints.
This confirms the status of Uganda which was already listed by me as being among the nine provinces who have broken communion with ECUSA.
Meanwhile press reports from the scene:
Larry Stammer of the Los Angeles Times ‘A New Day’ for Two Congregations (23 August)
Press-Telegram 240 join at ex-Episcopal church (22 August)
Press-Enterprise Bishop to answer churches (20 August)
Update The Telegraph on Wednesday carries, under the headline Back-seat bishop this letter from Lord Carey: Responding to the deep divisions. An extract:
…I must make it clear that I have not sought out this engagement – indeed, I am well aware of the way this action could be perceived.
However, the Bishop of Virginia, Bishop Peter Lee, a close friend of mine, invited me to conduct the confirmations with the full knowledge of the Archbishop of Canterbury, in some of his most thriving parishes which, sadly, are now estranged from him.
I salute Peter Lee’s spirit of generosity and humility as a demonstration that in these critical days for the Anglican Communion it is possible to avoid schism, if American bishops pay attention to the many Episcopalians who are exceedingly distressed by the consecration of Gene Robinson.
The Telegraph today carries a highly contentious story by Jonathan Petre which is headlined:
Carey tour adds to US fears of gay schism
and starts out:
Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, will provoke a fresh storm over homosexuality in the Church next month by blessing hundreds of American traditionalists who are boycotting their own pro-gay bishop.
This high-profile intervention by Lord Carey will highlight the growing polarisation in the worldwide Anglican community over the issue and will be criticised as “back-seat driving” by supporters of his successor at Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
It will also raise the temperature of the debate weeks before the publication of the final report by the Lambeth Commission, the body set up last year by Dr Williams to try to avert schism.
But this event was known about as far back as 4 June at least, when it was reported in the Washington Times that:
…several Northern Virginia parishes are refusing to even allow Bishop Lee or his two assistant bishops to perform confirmations on parish property. The two sides compromised this week by agreeing to fly in retired Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, who will preside over a mass confirmation ceremony on Sept. 15.
The Telegraph article also says:
More than 100 parishes have now split from the Church and affiliated themselves with evangelical dioceses in Africa.
This is misleading. Very few parishes (maybe 10?) so far have split from ECUSA as a result of last year’s events, although no doubt more will. This figure of 100 affiliations with African dioceses can scarcely be be obtained even by including all those who left as a result of earlier events and formed the AMiA whose website shows a list of around 70 congregations.
Although most of this happened well before Wednesday’s press time, there is not a word about it in this week’s Church Times. So here it is…
This week two parishes of the Diocese of Los Angeles declared themselves out of communion with ECUSA and to have joined the Diocese of Luweero in the Anglican Province of Uganda, and placed themselves under the jurisdiction of Bishop Evans Kisekka.
Here’s how it unfolded in the Los Angeles Times where Larry B Stammer reported:
17 August Episcopalian Parishes Split Over Gay Bishop
18 August Parishes Split Off Over Gay Issues (note also correction to previous day’s story)
19 August Bishop Orders Priests to Stop Work
Other press reports:
18 August AP Pair of SoCal Episcopal parishes break rank with national church
18 August Daily Pilot Church drops ‘Episcopal’ from its name
18 August Contra Costa Times Episcopal congregation splits from U.S. church
18 August Press-Telegram 2 local parishes leaving church
Episcopal News Service
17 August Two Southern California parishes vote alignment with Uganda diocese
19 August Bruno inhibits breakaway Los Angeles clergy
Here are the documents issued by the participants:
Diocese of Los Angeles
17 August: Statement from the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop scroll down
Pastoral letter from Bishop Jon Bruno issued 17 August to be read at every service in all churches of the diocese on Sunday 22 August.
All Saints Long Beach
17 August press release in pdf format
17 Aaugust fact sheet also in pdf format
Two 17 August entries on titusonenine contain html copies of the releases from them:
Two Major Calif. Churches Disassociate From Episcopal Church USA
Still More on the Two Los Angeles Area Episcopal Churches
And in case you thought the AAC and NACDAP were missing from the original story, three press releases appeared two days later:
19 August Statement by the Clergy of St. James Church, Newport Beach, Calif., and All Saints’ Church, Long Beach, Calif.
19 August Churches in Diocese of Los Angeles Leave Episcopal Church
19 August ACN CONVOCATION DEANS COMMENT ON TWO CALFORNIA CHURCHES’ DISASSOCIATION FROM THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
On 15 June, Robert Duncan Bishop of Pittsburgh, gave testimony to the Lambeth Commission, and the full text of his prepared statement has been published as a pdf file here. An html version is available here. A press release concerning it can be found here.
Three other persons representing the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes [despite its title, a wholly United States- based organization] also gave testimony, and they can all be found here. Originally, i.e. on 22 June, the Network then said:
In deference to Lambeth Commission, the presentations will be released to them for posting on the official website and may be accessed at http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/lambeth.asp (not of course the official website)
Although the most remarkable aspect of his testimony may well be his comparison of recent events in ECUSA to the bombing and subsequent collapse of the World Trade Center towers, Bishop Duncan’s testimony also includes the following paragraph (my emphasis added):
Thirteen diocesans, given impetus by four other Communion primates, agreed to create the Network in November. Representatives of twelve dioceses and six convocations (groups of parishes in non-Network dioceses) chartered the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes in January 2004. To date nine of those dioceses have ratified the charter, Albany becoming the most recent just this past Saturday. Within the six convocations, 43 congregations (within 22 non-network dioceses) have thus far taken vestry action to associate. Many times this number have such action under consideration, and this frequently in the face of direct opposition from the local bishop. 14 Provinces (all among the 21 Provinces who have announced some form of broken communion with ECUSA) have to date recognized the Network.
I have discussed here ad nauseam the unsubstantiated claims repeatedly made concerning both the number of provinces, and the number of primates acting personally, who have taken actions against ECUSA.
I know of no evidence to support a claim of 21 provinces breaking communion with ECUSA. As I have shown previously (dated 13 July, so after the testimony under discussion here), the most that can be proved with certainty is a mere nine. Indeed I think that 21 maybe the largest number yet claimed for provinces.
As to how many provinces (not merely primates) have “recognized” the Network, whatever that may mean, I have no information, and invite anyone who knows to send me or to publish the list of these fourteen. There doesn’t seem to be anything about this at the Network’s website, which is where you would expect to find it prominently available.
One wonders whether the Commission members or indeed the staff of the commission questioned any of these statistics at their Kanuga meeting, or asked Bishop Duncan for the list of 14 names.
I look forward to receiving any additional information, but as time goes by these claims look more and more like the missing Iraqi WMD.
Update thank you Matt for the comment referring to two statements from primates, but this is not the same as provincial “recognition”.
The following article is by Mark Harris, a priest in the Diocese of Delaware, USA.
It was originally written for the HOB/D mailing list. and appears here with Mark’s express permission.
Note also that Mark specifically invites corrections to his work. His email address is at the bottom of his resumé.
On the Matter of the Archbishop of Canterbury naming, suggesting or otherwise initiating the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes
Two weeks ago I wrote the HoB/D list asking for information regarding the widely stated proposition that the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes was set up at the suggestion of, given its name by, or was the idea of, the Archbishop of Canterbury. I received a number of replies, for which I thank HoB/D list readers.
What follows is my effort to untangle the various strands of this history. It is unfortunately a bit long, so be forewarned! Now is a good time to stop unless this bit of historical detective work is of interest. I hope it helps to set out the issues in some coherent way.
June 25, 2004
The claim in recent days:
This claim that the ABC is the source of the idea of the Network continues to find its way into the record. The Living Church in its June 27, 2004 issue, in an article by Sarah Tippit-Johnson, repeats the claim, where she writes,
“…national leaders from the American Anglican Council (AAC) and from the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (the official name for the CAN) stopped short of calling for a full-out separation —- even though they acknowledged that the ACN, a network of ecclesial bodies set up on the suggestion of the Archbishop of Canterbury, is structured exactly like a province.” (p. 5)
Bishop Robert Duncan restated this claim in his response to Bishop Parsley on May 13, 2004.
“The Archbishop of Canterbury first recommended formation of a network of “confessing” dioceses and congregations.”
Neither attribution is a direct quote, and neither states that the ABC actually suggested the form and structure of the network that happened under AAC guidance. “Suggestion” and “recommendation” allows for a variety of interpretations as regards detail, etc. But the recital of the phrase “network of confessing dioceses and congregations” would lead one to believe that the ABC gave prior approval to the Network as it came to be formed, even though its name is The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, rather than The Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes.
So there continues to be the claim made, or the claim reported, that the Archbishop of Canterbury made the specific suggestion for the name or for the idea of setting up the Network.
And the truth of the matter? It is hard to say. However, here is what has come to light.
The argument for such a suggestion:
(i) Anglican Mainstream, reported on the AAC preparations for realignment on October 24, 2003 and in that report quotes Canon David Anderson,
“A first component of the new realignment is the establishment of a “Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes,” which is actually a name given to us by the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
So Canon Anderson claims the name is given by the ABC, although the name used differs - “confessing” being replaced by “Anglican Communion.”
(ii) George Conger reported by email to the HoB/D list,
“Yes, the Archbishop of Canterbury made the statements cited by Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh in support of the formation of the Network. He made them on October 15 at Lambeth Palace to four bishops and David Anderson and Martyn Minns. I have questioned Lambeth Palace on this point and have received confirmation of the veracity of Bishop Duncan’s claims.”
Mr. Conger does not tell us the nature of that confirmation (letter, email, conversation?) nor its source. His source concerns the idea of forming a network.
(iii) Bishop Duncan, in response to Bishop Parsley on May 13, 2004 says
“The Archbishop of Canterbury first recommended formation of a network of ‘confessing’ dioceses and congregations. In response to that call the Anglican Communion Network is developing as a biblically-based missionary movement dedicated to upholding a faithful expression of Anglicanism in North America.”
Bishop Duncan attributes to the ABC the recommendation that a network be formed.
Problems with the affirmative answer:
Anderson and Anglican Mainstream make no mention of the occasion on which the Archbishop might have given this name or made this suggestion. Anderson’s remarks followed an ACC special board meeting on October 22-23, 2003, so we know that if made it was before that date. The Anglican Mainstream article references a meeting between the ABC and four ACC bishops and two clergy leaders on October 17, 2003. The Anglican Communion News Service, in an article by James Solheim, mentions only this meeting of the ACC leadership and the ABC. That article makes no reference to an earlier meeting.
So does George Conger know of another meeting held before the Primates Meeting by anyone who could have picked up on the ABC’s idea and taken that to the AAC leadership?
When would that meeting have to have been held? Conger supposes October 15, 2003, but as has been pointed out by others (L. Deimel and J.R. Gundersen) Bishop Duncan already used the title, “Network of Confessing Diocese and Parishes” at the Plano Meeting on October 8, 2003.
Bishop Duncan must too have been making reference to some statement by the ABC prior to October 8, 2003, otherwise it is he and the AAC and not the ABC who gave rise to the idea and name to the effort.
The question is, then, is there a source prior to October 8th for any statement by the Archbishop in which he might have said something like:
“I think it would be important to establish a network of confessing dioceses and parishes,” or
“Here’s an idea: why don’t you set up a network of confessing dioceses and parishes,” or even more ambiguously
“Some kind of network of dioceses and parishes would make sense; why don’t you take up that effort.”
References to meetings between the ABC and AAC leadership after October 8, 2003, are not relevant to the issue as to whether or not the ABC suggested the name or the idea of the Network.
One suggestion (by Joan Gundersen) is that there might have been some sort of conversation at the CAPA meeting the first week of October. See this Virtuosity report referenced by Joan Gundersen, which has the only reference I can find to a meeting between Episcopal Church bishops and CAPA Primates in early October.
In order for this to be of interest it would need to be shown that the Archbishop of Canterbury initiated the idea there himself, or caused that idea to be floated by someone representing him, and that someone from the AAC was there to receive it. It does not serve the interest of the claim to have one of the American bishops or AAC leaders provide the name or idea for discussion, for if the idea is to be the ABC’s it must come from him.
Barring further revelations (or at least citations) I see no convincing basis for the claim that the Archbishop of Canterbury suggested the name, or even the idea, of the Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes.
Arguments against the ABC naming or suggesting the Network:
The question of encouragement: The wider background for the claim arises in the context of also claiming that
“With the Archbishop of Canterbury’s encouragement, the AAC Bishop’s Committee on Adequate Episcopal Oversight is coordinating requests for oversight.” (see Anglican Mainstream news cited above.)
It is in the larger context of “encouragement” that much of the claim for the ABC’s initiation is paced. Encouragement of a general “networking” effort is not the same as either naming the network itself or endorsing the specifics of this particular network’s actions.
Bishop Duncan, in the Anglican Communion News Service article of December 23, 2003 is quoted as saying that the ABC
“has encouraged the formation of such a network in private dialogue with members of the orthodox caucus.”
This statement is clearly more cautious than that made by Canon Anderson two months before. Encouraging the formation of “such a network” is quite different from naming the network, or even initiating the idea. Bishop Duncan does not specify the date of that meeting. This is of course somewhat different from Bishop Duncan’s own statement of May 13, 2004.
Bishop John Howe identifies only the one meeting between the AAC leadership and the ABC: October 17, 2003. While Bishop Howe does say that he remembers the ABC encouraged a network, he later understood that the ABC
“has made it clear that he believes any provision for Episcopal oversight must be worked out within ECUSA itself, and that he will not be personally involved.” (press release December 19, 2003)
One other meeting, the December meeting of AAC leadership in London, is sometimes mentioned in relation to the question of the ABC’s initiation of the idea. The AAC web page report of the meeting in London to draft a Memorandum of Agreement, reported on December 18, 2003, and the press release related to that make no mention of the claim of ABC initiation, and no mention of meeting with the ABC at that time.
Given the various opportunities for the ABC or his office to acknowledge the claim or for the AAC in later publications to state it as clearly as Canon Anderson had initially, the silence seems to step back from the bold assertion that the
“Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes,” is actually a name given to us by the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
We are still left with two questions:
(i) What of the “private dialogue” and whether or not it took place before October 8th, when the name is first used at the Plano conference? It becomes clear that whatever was said and to whom, the ABC in December did not claim ownership of the idea and/ or engagement with the details of negotiation. The matter of response to the issues of oversight was clearly understood to be something that needed to be worked out within the Episcopal Church.
(ii) What of the notion of being in sympathy with the efforts of the AAC and Network? On February 9, 2004, at the Church of England General Synod the Archbishop of Canterbury said,
“I’ve been following sympathetically the discussions around the setting up of a network within the Episcopal Church of the United States of America engaged in negotiating some of these questions of episcopal oversight.”
This clearly indicates some real interest by the ABC in the development of the Network, but the lack of any suggestion of providing leadership - by idea, suggestion, or engagement - is telling. “Following sympathetically,” is as supportive as he wishes to be.
On February 10, 2004 the AAC wrote commending the ABC for
“the sympathetic reaction that the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes received from the Archbishop of Canterbury.”
The commendation goes on to state that
“This acknowledgement of work with representatives of the Network and the American Anglican Council clearly refutes statements from ECUSA leaders implying no such discussions have occurred.”
But the question is not about there being discussions, but rather about whether or not the ABC indeed named the Network or initiated the idea. For that to be true there must be an event prior to October 8, 2003 in which to place the specifics of that discussion.
Interestingly, of course, the ABC’s statement of February 9, 2004 names no parties or individuals as regards work done. I assume that when he speaks of “the discussions around the setting up of a network within the Episcopal Church.” he is indeed speaking of the AAC efforts. I also assume that when the ABC says, “I have been involved in working with several parties there towards some sort of shared future and common witness, so far as is possible,” he is referring to contacts with the Presiding Bishop’s office as well as with AAC leadership and others. But none of this is stated clearly.
What is most interesting about the AAC commendation letter of February 10, 2004 is that it does not reiterate the claim that the ABC is the source of the idea of forming the Network, much less the person who named the network.
(i) As yet there is no source confirmed for any meeting prior to October 8, 2003 in which the Archbishop of Canterbury or his spokesperson floated the idea of “A Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes.”
(ii) That title was used at the Plano Conference by Bishop Duncan thereby making any subsequent mention of the name derivative.
(iii) The ABC did meet with four bishops and two clergy on October 17, following the Primates Meeting. The ABC no doubt listened attentively and sympathetically to the concerns of the AAC. There is some memory that at that meeting he used the term “Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes.” But because that term was already in use he can not have then invented it. He might well have referred to the idea and perhaps may have been sympathetic to its goals as they were spelled out at the time.
(iv) Later references to the notion that the ABC had initiated the idea and named the group seem to be references back to the initial claim of Canon Anderson, with the exception of Bishop Duncan, who in the letter to Bishop Parsley restates the claim. I wonder if the Duncan statement is written by ACC staff persons who by that time had accepted the earlier Anderson claim. If not, of course, Bishop Duncan has memory of another source. It would be very helpful if he would share that source, the time and date, etc.
Were there discussions with the ABC in which the idea of a Network was floated? No doubt.
Was the ABC the source of the idea, the name, or any sort of recommendation for something not already in the works? I have considerable doubts.
Does any of this matter at all?
Only to the extent that historical memory is a product of those in contention remembering what they want to remember as well as what actually took place, and the extent to which such memories lend credence to the efforts of those in contention.
If the ABC had indeed suggested the idea, named the group, etc, it would raise issues of the extent to which the ABC or his office were attempting to set the course of Episcopal Church development and intervene in the internal affairs of an autonomous church. But it would be a sign of encouragement to the AAC from one of the “instruments of Unity.”
If he has not done so it would raise issues of the spin by the AAC put on otherwise less promising meetings and would confirm the sense by some of us that the AAC overstates its case considerably.
Unless clear and verifiable information is brought out, the claim that the Archbishop of Canterbury first gave name to the Network, or initiated the idea of its formation remains clouded in the memories of a few.
I gather that efforts to get a definitive statement from the ABC’s office have gone unanswered, with the exception of that offered by Mr. Conger. The supposed meeting of October 15, 2003, reported by him, seems immaterial given the address by Bishop Duncan on October 8, 2003, which specifically speaks of the Network by name.
So we are left with the probability that the Archbishop of Canterbury may be sympathetic, supportive, interested, attentive, etc to an idea proposed by others and that something like the network was in the works and the words bandied about for some time. But sympathy is a long way from endorsing or encouraging, much less commissioning the specifics of the Network.
I continue to be amazed by the presumption of calling the “Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes” the “Anglican Communion Network” thereby giving it the supposed status of being THE real connection among member churches in the Anglican Communion.
I stand ready to be corrected on any or all parts of this.
Mark Harris, Clergy delegate to ECUSA General Convention, Delaware.
Below is the full text of the CAPA statement issued in Nairobi on 16 April 2004.
The press release said:
Primates resolve to multiply efforts of fortifying CAPA and African Theology
By Justus Waimiri
Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) Primates met in Nairobi on Wednesday and Thursday this week, and agreed to strengthen the financial position of the African Provinces and CAPA secretariat.
A statement issued at the end of the meeting that went late into Wednesday night and Thursday morning, said the Primates were encouraged by the outcome of the meeting, in which they affirmed the role of CAPA in uniting African Provinces.
They agreed to develop the available economic and organisational resources, and to increase their commitment to CAPA.
The Primates also deliberated on the development of an African Theological and Doctrinal Commission, and agreed to forge ahead with the initiative.
The meeting was attended by Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who is also CAPA Chairman, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, Archbishop Fidele Dirokpa of Congo, Archbishop Joseph Marona of Sudan and Archbishop Bernard Malango of Central Africa.
Others were The Rt Revd Nicodemus Okille of Uganda, Rt Revd Dinis Sengulane of Southern Africa, Rt Revd Mouneer Anis of Egypt, and Rt Revd Jean Claude of Indian Ocean.
Regarding the controversial sexuality issues, the CAPA Primates affirmed the Lambeth resolution of 1998 and the previous CAPA Primates meeting of September last year, that opposed appointment of openly gay people to church ministry.
However, the Primates expressed faith and “prayerful support” to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and the Lambeth Commission established by him to study the appropriate measures to take after the controversial consecration of Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church of United States (ECUSA), New Hempshire.
The Primates and Bishops also discussed the stalemate that followed the retirement of Archbishop Robert Okine of West Africa, and expressed hope that the issue would be resolved soon. They said they would avail themselves as CAPA if called upon to mediate any contentious issues.
The meeting said it was encouraged by the peace process in the Sudan, and thanked the Government of Kenya for its role in bringing the warring factions together. A special message will be delivered to Kenya’s President, Mwai Kibaki.
On Rwanda, the Primates congratulated the reconciliation going on in the country, and pledged their support.
Below is a full text the CAPA Primates Statement:
CAPA PRIMATES’ STATEMENT
We CAPA Primates meeting in Nairobi on 14th April had a very constructive discussion of the issues that concern our church in Africa. We are encouraged by the outcome of the meeting in which we affirmed the importance of the ownership of CAPA and furthering its development. We therefore recommended the following steps;
a) To work hard to develop our economic and organisational resources.
b) To increase the financial contribution to CAPA.
c) To develop our African theological training programme that would equip our ministers with the African spirituality that is based on the scripture.
In regard to the sexuality issues,
We continue to affirm Lambeth resolution 1.10 of 1998 and our statement of the last CAPA meeting as well as the Primates statement of October 2003.
We are committed to prayerful support for the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan William and his leadership to the Communion in this very difficult time. We also pray and support Lambeth Commission set by him to study the appropriate actions towards those in ECUSA who ignored the Primates’ warnings and violated the historical faith and order of the Church by consecrating a non-celibate open homosexual Priest as Bishop.
We appeal to the Commission to consider the serious implications of not taking a strong disciplinary action against ECUSA, which will definitely tear the Communion apart and will badly affect our ecumenical and interfaith relations as a Communion.
The Primates of CAPA reaffirm the statement that was issued in September last year.
We note that some Provinces have already taken action in declaring a broken Communion with ECUSA as an institution, while maintaining communion with individuals who have stayed away from the official position of ECUSA.
Some Provinces have impaired communion with ECUSA.
The Commission is requested to call ECUSA to repentance giving it a three -months period to show signs of such repentance. Failing that, discipline should be applied.
As CAPA Primates we stand firm to what we have decided that if there is no sign of repentance on the part of ECUSA, the consequences will determine the next line of our action.
f) WEST AFRICA
The question of the enthronement of the Primate that did not take place was received with sadness and asked the secretariat to write to the Dean of the Church of West Africa assuring them of our prayers and expressed the availability of CAPA if there will be need for consultation with them.
g) CHURCH OF RWANDA
We congratulate and rejoice with the people and government of Rwanda on the efforts being made at reconciliation.
We support the Primate of Rwanda, the Council of Churches and the Government of Rwanda in their reconciliatory efforts..
Emphasis on the catechistical teaching of the sanctity of human life and the ministry of healing of memories are of great importance for this situation.
h) CHURCH OF SUDAN
The Primates are encouraged by the progress that was made in the peace process in Sudan. We hope and pray that both the government of Sudan and SPLA would reach the final peace agreement.
i) THE MIDDLE EAST
The CAPA Primates are saddened by the continuing violence in the Holy Land and appeal to the international community to intervene to achieve peace for both the Palestinians and the Israeli people.
Our hope is that Iraqi people resume their peace and develop their country under Iraqi government.
The ENS has a detailed report about the news from the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA): Mixed signals emerge from Nairobi meeting of Global South primates.
This refers to a formal statement from CAPA the full text of which
I have yet to find published on the web is now available on TA here, although Kendall Harmon has some earlier notes from Nairobi here, here and here. ENS also refers to a separate press statement by Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town, which again I have not seen the full text of yet.
It contains information about the complexity of American financial support to Africa:
It was not clear what would be the immediate effect of Akinola’s declaration that the CAPA primates would not accept donations from certain dioceses within the Episcopal Church.
“All disbursements for mission from the national budget for this year have been made already,” said the Rev. Pat Mauney, director of Anglican and Global Relations (AGR) for the Episcopal Church. “The disbursements are offered without strings attached. If they decide not to accept, we respect their decision.”
Of the 12 African provinces, Nigeria and Central Africa do not request mission funds from AGR. Of the remaining ten, only Uganda has rejected a $7500 grant, and Rwanda has not yet responded for the 2003-2006 triennium. The CAPA secretariat accepted a $16,000 grant from AGR for 2003.
Other mission funds come through wealthy parishes such as Trinity Church in New York and Truro Church in Virginia, as well as independent foundations and mission organizations. Another source is the companion diocese relationship between American and African dioceses and provinces. Currently 19 US dioceses whose bishops voted in favor of the Robinson consecration have formal or informal relationships in Africa, while another 17 whose bishops voted against Robinson have formal or informal links with African dioceses.
In Britain, The Times reported the story African Anglicans spurn gay funding and also gives some figures:
ANGLICAN bishops in Africa are to refuse all funding from dioceses that ordain homosexual clergy and bishops.
The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, headed by Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, a leading conservative evangelical, could lose up to 70 per cent of its funding if it acts on the motion passed at a meeting in Kenya this week.
The motion was accompanied by a demand that the Episcopal Church of the United States repent within three months for the ordination of the openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson. The African bishops called also for the Episcopal Church to be disciplined, a demand unlikely to be met because all Anglican provinces are autonomous.
The Episcopal Church alone provides nearly a third of the African council’s annual budget, amounting to $106,000 or £59,000 in 2002.
The council represents 12 national and regional churches in Africa plus the diocese of Egypt. Many of these, as well as other Global South provinces, have already severed ties with the New Hampshire diocese by declaring themselves “out of communion”. But eight provinces have already taken money this year.
Episcopal leaders believe the vote to refuse funds is little more than a symbolic protest. But Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya said the Africans would have to sever links with New York’s Trinity Wall Street, a prominent parish that distributes grants worth millions of dollars.
The Telegraph also has Archbishops reject US cash in gay clergy row.
African archbishops representing more than half the worldwide Anglican Church are to refuse millions of pounds a year from their US counterparts in protest at its first openly gay bishop.
Their action will be seen as another step towards schism over the issue of homosexuality. Many of them are disillusioned with the efforts of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to keep the worldwide Church together, and they are making preparations for a rival Church with an alternative leader.
The most likely candidate, the Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, said the liberal leadership of the American Episcopal Church must be disciplined for supporting the consecration.
African Churches Take Stand Against Gays
By TOM MALITI
Associated Press Writer
read the full article here
Peter Akinola (pictured right) said:
“If we suffer for a while to gain our independence and our freedom and to build ourselves up, I think it will be a good thing for the church in Africa,” Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria told journalists. “And we will not, on the altar of money, mortgage our conscience, mortgage our faith, mortgage our salvation.”
Update an even later revision of the AP story is here on CNN (thanks KH), with additional quotes e.g.
Akinola said the South African leader, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town, told him in a telephone conversation Thursday that he supported the stand taken by the other African archbishops.
He added that Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the Bahamas, who listened in on the conversation, “is firmly in support of the views which we are espousing. He made that quite clear.”
The Guardian has a report by Stephen Bates US church ‘must repent’ for gay bishop decision.
The BBC reported all this as African clergy reject ‘gay’ funds
The bishops made it plain that money from like-minded Americans, that is those who oppose the ordination of homosexuals, would not be turned away.
They said they were now conducting a review of how many programmes would be affected by a ban on official donations from the American church.
Archbishop Akinola also said they would take “action they deem necessary” if the US Church failed to “repent” over the ordination of homosexuals within the next three months.
“We shall cross that bridge when we get there,” he said. “We represent more than half of the entire Anglican world. I don’t think anybody would simply want to wish away our opinion”.
Another report from Nairobi, this from IPS: Africa Rejects Donations From Churches That Support Gay Unions
Africa’s Anglican archbishops have vowed never to receive donations from western churches which support the ordination of gay priests.
“We do not want any money from the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. This is not rhetoric. It is not a matter of a joke. We mean what we say,” the chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, Nigeria’s Archbishop Peter Akinola said, as the other clergymen nodded in affirmation.
Akinola was addressing a news conference in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, on behalf of the continent’s 12 archbishops, on Friday. The conference followed a two-day meeting to review the African bishops’ stand on homosexuality. Five archbishops from Latin America, Asia and Middle East also attended the gathering. The church in the four regions does not condone homosexuality.
“Those who have chosen a different path away from Anglican doctrines must repent and come back to the Anglican fold or be kicked out of the communion,” Akinola said. “We have recommended to the Lambeth Commission (in London) to take this clear line of disciplinary action against ECUSA because of what it has done.”
Pierre Whalon wrote another essay at AO on Thought, Love, and Bishops. This discusses at length some of the theological issues arising from the New Hampshire consecration. Recommended reading and not susceptible to short quotes here.
Meanwhile John Heidt, who was once in Cheltenham but is now in Fort Worth, wrote this open letter to the American bishops, which analyses the reasons for conservatives among them not participating fully in the ECUSA House of Bishops meetings. It also is recommended reading.
Again conservative comment can be found here.
Peter Akinola spoke out again. The Associated Press reported it, for example Africa’s Top Anglican Warns U.S. Church.
Archbishop Peter Akinola said the future of true Anglicanism in the United States lies with conservative minority opposition groups within the Episcopal Church who oppose gay marriage and the church’s approval of an openly gay bishop. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion.
Akinola also said in a telephone interview that unless conditions change, he will not attend meetings alongside the leader of the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, or attend the 2008 meeting of the world’s Anglican bishops if the U.S. hierarchy participates.
Akinola underscored his support of the conservative minority over the weekend when he met in Atlanta with leaders from the two main U.S. organizations that oppose toleration of homosexual activity: the American Anglican Council and the recently formed Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes.
Akinola said the Episcopal Church “is trying to redefine Christianity and rewrite Scripture, and we have no right to do that. The historic faith of the church is what we stand by, and there is no going back.”
In the archbishop’s view, although those who favor liberal policies on homosexuality have a clear operating majority in the U.S. church, he strongly backs the minority and its new network.
“It’s either repent and come back to the fold, or give up on the Anglican family,” he said.
And read this about Nigerian religion, from a Lagos newspaper: Nigerians Only Pretend to Be Religious — Mbang
Nigeria is said to be the most religious nation in the world. How do you react to such a report?
I’ve talked about this several times. We have so many churches on the streets, in fact in every street, you have a church, but that doesn’t make a country religious. It is the quality and calibre of people you have that can make you describe a country as being religious. The kind of people we have in Nigeria, with all these killings and corruption at the high and low places, it is difficult to say that Nigeria is religious or it may be religious through other religions; talking of Nigeria being a religious country outside Christianity and Islam, maybe you can say so. People in these two religions, they pretend to be very religious but when they go into their offices, it’s a different story. Most of these people who kill people, come to our churches and when they come to take Holy Communion, they will walk very holy and shout holy, holy, and you don’t know them. So that’s the problem, and I’ve raised the issue at various occasions I have gone to. What Nigerians need to work for is to see how they can produce quality God-fearing people, Christians after God’s heart. We have very few of them in Nigeria today.
The Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, is in Pittsburgh this week. He was interviewed just before he left England by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette resulting in this: Visiting bishop wants end to rhetoric on gay clergy.
His quoted remarks here, comparing ECUSA to the Bush administration, have provoked considerable criticism in America. In fact they are quite similar to earlier expression of his views. See for example, That special relationship in the Guardian last October.
However, the Pittsburgh story does contain some rather odd details. Leaving aside for now all the issues arising from the comparison with the Bush administration, just consider the ECUSA facts.
He compared that action to the Episcopal Church’s consecration of an openly gay bishop against existing church polity. “So why should the world listen to the [Episcopalians in the] United States when changing Episcopal Church law?” he asked. “It is bound to be perceived as, ‘There you go again.’ It’s more of the same.”
But the consecration of Gene Robinson as a bishop in ECUSA is not against “existing [ECUSA] church polity” and the only relevant changes to “Episcopal Church law” were made several years ago. Specifically:
1. The canons of ECUSA were modified by General Convention in 1994:
All Bishops of Dioceses and other Clergy shall make provisions to identify fit persons for Holy Orders and encourage them to present themselves for Postulancy. No one shall be denied access to the selection process for ordination in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities, or age, except as otherwise specified by these Canons. No right to ordination is hereby established.
Title III, Canon 4, Section 1 of the Constitution and Canons for the Government of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, p. 60
2. Then in 1996, an ECUSA ecclesiastical court ruled that retired Bishop Walter Righter had violated no church law or “core doctrine” when he ordained (back in 1990) a non-celibate homosexual man. The court therefore declined to consider further the heresy charges that had been made against him (by ten bishops, many of whom are those now forming the NACDP). The bishops chose not to appeal the decision.
3. And for good measure, in 1997, the ECUSA General Convention approved health benefits for domestic partners to be extended to the partners of clergy and lay employees in dioceses that wish to do so.
So, it is hardly surprising that, seven years after the Righter judgement, a non-celibate homosexual has been consecrated as a bishop in ECUSA. Much of the comment about the Robinson case has related to the events of 2003 (election, confirmation, consecration), all of which were conducted entirely in accord with existing ECUSA requirements and involved no changes in church law. But the initial eligibility of the candidate for the office was established in law long before that. Surely the time for complaining about any of the changes listed has long since expired?
A letter, written by ECUSA Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, to Archbishop Robin Eames in his capacity as Chairman of the Lambeth Commission has been published on the web. The PDF original is on the Lambeth Commision site.
You can read the full text here. (Note that the use of boldface for one section is an editorial action of that website, not something in the original letter).
This very interesting letter recounts events in the history of ECUSA leading up to Gene Robinson’s election and consecration. I noticed in particular:
Ten years ago at the General Convention in 1994 a resolution was passed amending the canons such that “no one shall be denied access to the selection process for ordination in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age.”
When we met at Lambeth the primates asked me if I couldn’t have intervened and stopped the consecration. I made it clear that I could not because of the canonical realities by which I am bound, and that it is my responsibility to uphold the decisions formally made by the church.
Meanwhile, a meeting took place in Georgia of representatives of several groups of moderate Episcopalians who live in conservative (typically “Network”) dioceses and are worried that the NACDP will not stay within ECUSA. See this Associated Press news report: Episcopal groups try to mend break over gay clergy issue.
The press release is copied below.
EPISCOPALIANS UNITE IN ATLANTA MEETING
Episcopalians from 11 dioceses across the United States have joined together to promote unity within the national church.
The alliance, named Via Media USA, represents laypeople and clergy from grassroots organizations that hold diverse opinions about many issues facing the church but are solid in their desire to remain in communion with The Episcopal Church of the USA and the worldwide Anglican Communion. The name - “via media” means middle way - reflects the group’s focus on preserving the church and its traditional openness to differing interpretations of scripture, tradition and reason.
“There is room for everyone in the Episcopal Church,” said The Rev. Michael Russell, Rector of All Souls’ Episcopal Church in San Diego, CA, and a member of Episcopal Way of San Diego. “We believe that the Christian way is to love, work and worship together - to resolve disputes within the church without tearing it apart.”
The 12 groups, from California, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, New York, Illinois, Texas, South Carolina, and Florida, met for three days of worship and fellowship during which many members talked about specific concerns in their dioceses. Most of the groups are in the minority in the leadership of their dioceses, many of which have joined a newly formed network. Via Media USA has ongoing concerns that the network’s actions may ultimately result in schism within the national church.
“We learned about and from each other, drawn together in fellowship,” said Dr. Joan Gundersen of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. “Some people who were feeling isolated now feel supported. This meeting has helped us move closer together and has given us a better working relationship.”
The organization of Via Media USA is in its preliminary stages and all of the represented groups will be consulting with their own members in coming weeks about how to move forward. Two observers from The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council attended the meeting and Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold sent a letter that encouraged the group’s efforts to promote unity.
“The diverse center is the overwhelming reality of our church and its voice is urgently needed, both within the church and in our fractured and polarized world,” Griswold wrote.
ENS has published a detailed survey covering many of the reactions to the proposal made by ECUSA bishops for delegated oversight.
Conservative responses mixed on Camp Allen oversight plan.
This report does not however include the most recent NACDP statement Convocation Deans Respond to House of Bishops Plan.
The House of Bishops has failed the Church by its new process for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO). The bishops had the opportunity to act sacrificially and lovingly to reach out to orthodox Episcopal congregations and parishioners. Instead, they have offered DEPO, a cumbersome bureaucratic process controlled by the very overseers from whom relief is sought. It inadequately deals with episcopal pastoral care and fails entirely to address such issues as ordination, the calling of clergy, church planting, finances or property. Under DEPO, the power and prerogatives of the bishops are paramount, while genuine concern for parishioners is lost. It shows that the House of Bishops is not serious about reform which would respond to the concerns of the Primates.
We know that our Network bishops who were present worked valiantly for a better outcome from the House of Bishops meeting just concluded. Nevertheless, the great majority of the bishops have made clear by the terms of the plan for DEPO that the rejection of biblical authority and the endorsement of sexual intimacy outside of marriage are now the settled teaching of our Church; all that remains is to regulate the speed with which this new teaching is imposed on orthodox Episcopalians.
The Anglican Communion Network is committed to living under the authority of Holy Scripture and in true unity with the vast majority of the world-wide Anglicans. We serve in partnership with the Primates, who have written, “we offer our support and the full weight of our ministries and offices to those who are gathering” in the Network.
This does not sound like a body looking for a negotiated settlement.
Reference is sometimes made to the English Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 as a model for the American or Canadian situation. But this Act does not remove a petitioning parish from the jurisdiction of its diocesan bishop, and is dependent on his agreement for its application. So I think it is unlikely to be acceptable to NACDP.
Where the English model differs from the American proposal is in its de facto compulsion. Every bishop in the Church of England has agreed to abide by it, and, as far as I know, no properly submitted parish petition for “appropriate episcopal duties in the parish” to be carried out by another bishop in accordance with the Act has ever been refused. It seem that NACDP believes that some American bishops are even now unwilling to offer any form of “DEPO”. If this is true, then only a General Convention (next scheduled for 2006) could compel them to do so. From a British perspective, this perceived inflexibility of diocesan bishops just seems very strange.
Nevertheless, I find it very surprising indeed that no-one among the conservatives has published any draft of an alternative oversight proposal that might be acceptable to them. With no such document in circulation it is easy for others to accuse the Network leaders of insincerity in their statements about wanting to remain within ECUSA, as opposed to forming a North American equivalent of the FiF-proposed but as yet non-existent CofE Third Province.
Since writing the above, the AAC has published Setting the Record Straight: What Really Happened at the House of Bishops which raises the temperature yet again.
No British newspaper reports yet on the bishops’ plan.
Other American newspapers:
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Conservative Episcopalians cool to reconciliation plan
Washington Times (Moonie-owned) Oversight plan ‘silly,’ Episcopal priest says
Houston Chronicle Unauthorized service angers church leaders (AP story with local additions)
San Diego Union-Tribune reports on local Episcopal election in light of all this,
Hunting for a healer
Orlando Sentinel reports on national meeting today of Via Media groups, Episcopalians seek middle ground
And the CEN is published, but went to press before any reports had emerged, so their headline is US Bishops pressured to find a compromise. Still it has a few tidbits, such as:
To add to the problems, four bishops - three members of Forward in Faith and one evangelical - have boycotted the meeting in protest to the presence of Gene Robinson while five bishops have refused to stay at the Conference Centre.
Conference organisers scored a spectacular own goal by placing Bishop Bob Duncan, the leader of the dissenting ‘Anglican Communion Network’ in the same Bible study and prayer group as Gene Robinson, causing Bishop Duncan to withdraw.
Statements have been issued by:
American Anglican Council House of Bishops Approves Inadequate Oversight Plan (this is quite a detailed analysis)
FiFNA FIFNA President declares it unacceptable (no idea why this is not yet on FiFNA website)
Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes HOB Oversight Plan will take ‘extraordinary new levels of trust’ (this is a bit less negative than the AAC commentary)
The Diocese of Pittsburgh has published this note.
Kendall Harmon has published Key Section of the Saturday Afternoon Version of the Plan which shows that at an earlier stage it looked less complicated.
There are lots of individual opinions floating around, which I have not had time to digest yet.
The ECUSA House of Bishops has completed its meeting in Texas and published its proposals for what is now called delegated episcopal pastoral oversight.
Here is the formal statement:
Caring For All The Churches
and here is the press release from ENS that describes the proposal:
Bishops propose plan for delegated episcopal pastoral oversight.
Here is the Associated Press report of this: Bishops Offer New Plan to Gay Dissenters.
“although the vote was not unanimous, an overwhelming majority of the bishops voted in favor of adopting the plan”.
Houston Chronicle report Clergy devises plan to deal with gay bishop split
Washington Post Episcopal Bishops Reach Pact On Dissent
Later version of Associated Press story
Washington Times Episcopalians forge compromise
For basics of the plan, read on…
If for serious cause in the light of our current disagreements on issues of human sexuality, the bishop and rector/congregation cannot work together, we propose the following process for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight.
1) In the spirit of openness, the rector and vestry, or the canonically designated lay leadership shall meet with the bishop to seek reconciliation. After such a meeting, it is our hope that in most instances a mutually agreeable way forward will be found.
2) If reconciliation does not occur, then the rector and two-thirds of the vestry, or in the absence of a rector, two-thirds of the canonically designated lay leadership, after fully engaging the congregation, may seek from their diocesan bishop, (or the diocesan bishop may suggest) a conference regarding the appropriateness and conditions for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight.
3) After such a conference the bishop may appoint another bishop to provide pastoral oversight.
4) If no reconciliation is achieved, there may then be an appeal to the bishop who is president or vice-president of the ECUSA province in which the congregation is geographically located, for help in seeking a resolution. Those making such an appeal must inform the other party of their decision to appeal.
5) When such an appeal has been made, the provincial bishop may request two other bishops, representative of the divergent views in this church, to join with the provincial bishop to review the situation, to consider the appeal, and to make recommendations to all parties. If an episcopal visitor is to be invited, that bishop shall be a member in good standing in this Church.
6) When an agreement is reached with respect to a plan, it shall be for the purpose of reconciliation. The plan shall include expectations of all parties,especially mutual accountability. The plan shall be for a stated period of time with regular reviews.
Here is a fragment of information from the ECUSA House of Bishops meeting.
Post Card from Camp Allen
We have started our work on what has been re-named delegated pastoral oversight, and so far it has gone well.
The Church Times summarises the story so far as Bishop of Ohio snubbed over confirmation.
The CEN had this version of events US bishops raise stakes.
Today the Associated Press reports Episcopal Church bishops meet amid unprecedented tension over gay bishop and includes this:
The leading conservative bishop is Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, moderator of a “network” formed in January to unite Episcopal dioceses and parishes that insist upon the traditional Christian teaching against same-sex relationships.
Duncan said some conservative bishops are boycotting the Navasota meeting, some will participate fully and some - like himself - will stay offsite and attend only sessions treating the church fracture.
The retreat will be the first meeting of bishops since the consecration of Robinson, who is expected to attend. A few conservative bishops will boycott the meeting, said Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, a member of the Anglican Communion Network, an organization of conservative dioceses and parishes formed in January.
“Some bishops have decided they cannot in good conscience attend the meeting,” Duncan said in a statement. “Others have agreed to be present only for those sessions in which (oversight) will be discussed.”
Exactly what Griswold will propose this weekend to resolve the impasse is unknown, said the Rev. Jan Nunley, deputy director of Episcopal News Service.
“No one has seen it,” Nunley added. “No one knows what the plan is.”
The bishops are expected to take up the issue Saturday and Sunday behind closed doors, but it was unclear whether they would take any official action.
And here’s another note which gives a few details of the meeting agenda.
The Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice has issued a statement regarding the March 14 confirmation of 110 individuals in Ohio by five retired Episcopal bishops and a diocesan bishop from Brazil without the permission of the local diocesan bishop. The full text of the statement is here. These ten diocesan bishops are elected to represent their geographical regions (“provinces” within ECUSA). Two quotes:
We, the elected members of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice, on the eve of the spring meeting of our House of Bishops, are moved to express our strong disapproval of the action taken by five retired bishops of our church who have violated our Constitution and Canons by performing episcopal and sacramental actions in the Diocese of Ohio without first securing the permission of the Bishop of Ohio.
We also note that this action—being in violation of our Constitution and Canons—is contrary to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s understanding of how we are to move forward. As he said in a recent letter to our Presiding Bishop regarding the forthcoming meeting of the House of Bishops: “My hope and prayer is that this meeting will offer generous and constructive ways forward within the constitutional and canonical structures of ECUSA that will guarantee Episcopal care for all and avoid further fragmentation, and the consequent distraction from our main task of proclaiming Christ.”
Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh and “Moderator” of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes has issued a statement about the event in the diocese next door to his:
Bishop Duncan Supports Ohio Confirmands (press release issued by the American Anglican Council)
“I pray for those newly confirmed and for the congregations from which they were presented. I also pray for the retiring Bishop of Ohio and for the Bishop-elect that they might respond with grace to the canonical irregularities with which they now find themselves confronted,” said Bishop Duncan.
“The joint confirmation service, organized by Episcopalians from five congregations and the members of one Anglican fellowship, was brought about by the failure of the Episcopal Church to provide Adequate Episcopal Oversight for orthodox minorities in revisionist dioceses,” added Duncan.
He goes on to say that the current ECUSA proposals for Supplemental Pastoral Care have been rejected by the Network.
Incidentally, the Network makes the claim that it is “commonly known as the Anglican Communion Network”.
Forward in Faith NA offers its support and prayers to the ‘Ohio cluster’ in less guarded terms, actually mentioning “the bishops who took the pastoral initiative”.
Forward in Faith, North America, the oldest orthodox and traditional organization in the Episcopal Church, offers its support and prayers to both the bishops who took the pastoral initiative to reach out to beleaguered members of the church, and to the clergy and people of the “Ohio cluster.” We believe in the necessity of Sunday’s action as a response that provides Godly leadership and hope for members of the church who remain steadfastly committed to biblical Christianity as practiced in the vast majority of the Anglican Communion.
Frank Griswold has also responded to the event in Ohio by issuing the following statement.
There is now an ENS press release available: Irregular confirmations in Ohio spark stern response from bishops.
Text of Presiding Bishop’s Statement
By their recent action in the Diocese of Ohio, five of our retired bishops and a bishop from the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil have arrogated to themselves the right to perform episcopal and sacramental acts without the permission of the diocesan bishop. The claim that their action was pastoral and in accordance with a mandate from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates of the Anglican Communion is contradicted by the statement of the Primates last October which states quite clearly that they, “reaffirm the teaching of successive Lambeth Conferences that bishops must respect the autonomy and territorial integrity of dioceses and provinces other than their own,” and that they “call on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care,” and that they should do so “in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates.”
Provisions for “episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities” is thus clearly a matter to be resolved by the province. That is precisely what this church is seeking to do. In consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury and his chancellor, our bishops have been considering a draft plan for episcopal pastoral care which they will address further when we gather for our spring meeting later this week in Texas.
With respect to this forthcoming meeting, the Archbishop of Canterbury said in a recent letter to me, “My hope and prayer is that this meeting will offer generous and constructive ways forward within the constitutional and canonical structures of ECUSA that will guarantee Episcopal care for all and avoid further fragmentation, and the consequent distraction from our main task of proclaiming Christ.”
What is quite clear is that whatever pastoral response is agreed to, it must, as the Archbishop points out, be consistent with the “constitutional and canonical structures of ECUSA.” Here I note that according to our Constitution:
A bishop shall confine the exercise of such office to the Diocese in which elected, unless requested to perform episcopal acts in another Diocese by the Ecclesiastical Authority thereof… [Article II,Sec.3]
Why, I am moved to ask, did these bishops decide that Confirmation of these persons was pastorally necessary at this moment and act without permission of the Bishop of Ohio? Given that the House of Bishops will meet later this week, I can only surmise that their intention is to co-opt the bishops’ agenda and provoke a reaction that will appear sufficiently lacking in pastoral concern for “dissenting minorities” to justify what they have done in the eyes of others. I trust that they will be disappointed in their hope and that the vast majority of bishops of this church—occupying the diverse center—will find a way forward that is clear and just in its principles, pastoral in its approach and responsive to the needs of the church in this present moment.
The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA
March 15, 2004
The bishops of the Diocese of Ohio have responded to yesterday’s event.
On the Extra-Canonical Confirmation Service Held 14 March 2004 in Fairlawn, Ohio
From the Ven. Mark Hollingsworth Jr., Bishop-Elect of Ohio:
I am disappointed that the parish priests from the Diocese of Ohio and the six bishops of the Church who were involved in this service chose to begin their relationship with me, not with direct and honest dialogue, but by acting in this manner. I certainly don’t want anyone to think that this behavior is characteristic of Christian community, especially the young people of those congregations.
An action of this sort, designed to break down the community of faith, has no place in our polity. No one group can define for the whole Church what constitutes an “emergency.” The laity and the clergy of the Diocese of Ohio, meeting in convention last November, clearly articulated their support of an inclusive theology in the larger Church, and their affirmation of its actions in last summer’s General Convention. It is a singular privilege to begin serving with them in this diocese at a time of such great potential for the Church.
From the Rt. Rev. J. Clark Grew, II, Bishop of Ohio
It is unfortunate that five Episcopal parishes, gathering people for sacramental purposes, have felt the need to participate in an unauthorized and clandestine service. I am not yet clear on what prompted such an action, one that was also decided and planned in secret, except perhaps an anxiety on their part caused by having the majority of clergy and parishes in this diocese take up the work of mission at home and abroad after the events of last summer, and center themselves in the gospel imperatives with renewed energy in anticipation of shared service with Bishop-elect Mark Hollingsworth.
It saddens me that these five congregations had to create a disturbance with our common Church polity, in order to focus attention once more on their minority position. There is no crisis in the Diocese of Ohio, except the one created by a group that hopes to hold on to attention that is slipping away as time passes, a group that may use the threat of further extracanonical action as a way to manipulate the House of Bishops in its deliberations on the matter of alternative oversight.
Neither the House of Bishops nor the Diocese of Ohio is likely to be swayed by sudden confrontational actions. Any response by the Diocese of Ohio in this matter will be prayerfully considered and characterized by the life of Jesus himself, who calls us all to unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.
Thanks to Kendall Harmon for the following press coverage:
Two local radio reports Diane Keough talks to participants and also to ECUSA Communications Director Dan England
Associated Press Conservative Bishops Defy Episcopal Church
Cleveland Plain Dealer Episcopalians exclude bishop
British newspaper websites have carried this Associated Press report:
Conservative Bishops Defy Episcopal Church. What’s going on?
OK, the first story to appear about this was from Beliefnet:
Six Episcopal Churches Move to Split from Ohio Diocese
Then, the American Anglican Council issued this press release
Senior Bishops Cross Diocesan Lines: Confirm 110 at Unprecedented Service
and Kendall Harmon and others published
STATEMENT OF SENIOR BISHOPS AT MULTI-CONGREGATIONAL SERVICE OF CONFIRMATION AND HOLY EUCHARIST. Extract of this below.
I will post more when it appears.
Our presence today is in direct response to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the rest of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, who called for “adequate provision for episcopal oversight” in their statement of October 2003. To date no such oversight has been offered by ECUSA. We represent a spectrum of congregations and Provinces within the Anglican Communion, and our actions represent a spectrum of possible responses to the Primates directive. Our participation in today’s Service represents “emergency measures” for those ECUSA congregations in revisionist dioceses who cannot in good conscience accept the radical actions taken by our General Convention last year and who now find themselves alienated from their bishops and diocesan leadership who voted for and support such actions. Our active bishops are currently seeking means for providing Adequate Episcopal Oversight, and if an acceptable plan is approved, these kinds of measures may no longer be necessary. But right now, we consider these actions an essential and imperative response to a pastoral emergency in Northern Ohio.
First, the Diocese of Pittsburgh joined the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. See picture here of the network charter being signed.
See this report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Episcopal diocese here joins anti-gay group.
By a 16-4 vote at a diocesan council meeting Tuesday night, members ratified inclusion in the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, chartered last month by lay and clergy representatives from 12 dioceses to “constitute a true and legitimate expression of the world-wide Anglican Communion.”
Pittsburgh is the third diocese — joining Central Florida and Fort Worth — to join.
Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh issued a press release, Pittsburgh Episcopalians Deplore Affiliation with ‘Orthodox’ Network which said in part:
Diocesan Council, following the lead of Pittsburgh bishop Robert W. Duncan, Moderator of the Network, has voted to associate this diocese with an organization whose aim is to divide the Episcopal Church, USA, and to create a new fundamentalist church to replace it as the sole true representative of Anglicanism in the United States.
Following the issue of this statement about the network by Anglican primates from 13 “Global South” provinces, containing:
We re-affirm our solidarity with faithful Bishops, clergy and church members in North America who remain committed the historic faith and order of the church and have rejected unbiblical innovation. We offer our support and the full weight of our ministries and offices to those who are gathering in a “Network of Confessing Dioceses and Congregations” now being organized in North America. We regard this network as a hopeful sign of a faithful Anglican future in North America. We invite those who are committed to the preservation of historic Biblical faith and order, to join that work and its essential commitment to the Gospel.
the Bishop of Pittsburgh then issued this statement which includes:
We seek humbly to serve Christ as faithful Anglicans and to offer hope to those in North America devastated and disenfranchised by actions of the Episcopal Church, a Church of which we are a part. This recogntion by 14 Primates, representing 45 million Anglicans worldwide, gives us great encouragement and affirmation of our mission, and is a clear sign that the Anglican realignment in North America is moving forward.
Episcopalians hoping to steer the diocese of North Carolina back to its traditional understanding of sexuality left the annual convention Saturday disappointed and discouraged after delegates soundly defeated a dozen resolutions proposed by the dissident group.
The defeat signaled that the diocese — spanning 39 counties in the Piedmont — is squarely behind the national church, which in August voted to confirm its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
It was also a vote of confidence in North Carolina Bishop Michael B. Curry. Some had challenged his authority after he voted to ratify Robinson’s election.
Meanwhile in the liberal-minded Diocese of Washington which covers parts of Maryland as well as DC, the annual convention passed this resolution on Conscience
The Archbishop of Cape Town, Njongonkulu Ndungane preached this sermon.
The bishop John Chane said in his address the following:
The genius of Anglicanism has always been that it is theologically roomy, respectful and tolerant. The European struggles of the 16th Century between Catholicism and the Protestant Reformers literally gave birth to the Church of England and Anglicanism. Precision in doctrine was not our Anglican founders’ desire, but rather it was the writing of magnificent liturgy, the creation of a beautiful Prayer Book language and poetry, the adherence to the discipline of the daily reading of Holy Scripture and sound preaching. As many have said far more eloquently than I, Anglicans enter theological reflection from practices rather than doctrine. For those of us who continue to work toward a definition of what makes Anglicans Anglicans, I can only say that our theology holds that our primary responsibility is to help people to know and to love God. Our theology is a pastoral theology! For any of us to focus on fostering disunity within our branch of the Anglican Communion by using a theological hammer as the tool of choice at the expense of our own pastoral, Episcopal domestic and global mission imperatives is, in itself, a tragedy that claims the original sin of a divided and broken humanity above the promise of our unity in the Body of Christ. Our mission as a diocese is about healing, building, growing, reaching out, and believing that our ministry can make a difference and that in all things we place Christ and the teaching of the Gospels ahead of our own personal agendas. Our mission strategy must be based on the direction set for us by the Gospels, as we know them. It is time now to seriously get on with the mission of this diocese and the larger church. Remember the words of Jesus to his disciples; 2As you have done it to the least of these my friends so have you done it to me.”
I was fascinated by this report from South Carolina. Under the headline Tough to say ‘enough’ with some stories a reader of the Post and Courier, Charleston, complained:
This week, several readers said they have read more than enough, thank you, about a handful of topics: … the Episcopal Church, ….
The reader who took issue with the amount of Episcopal Church reporting in The Post and Courier wonders if anyone but Episcopalians are interested in the stories about the rift in the denomination. The staff has had lots of discussions about the same questions over a long period of time. Religion reporter Dave Munday outlines reasons he has covered the story so closely.
— The denominational rift took root here in this diocese, and local church leaders are at the forefront of the international debate.
— The division goes beyond the 2 million-member Episcopal Church. “What’s at stake is the future of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church’s parent group.”
— The bigger story that is facing or is likely to face other denominations is whether Christians of different stripes can find a way to worship together despite their differences.
— The issue of homosexuality, one of the key issues being debated in the Episcopal Church, has taken a prominent role among national figures including presidential contenders.
Still, in 2003, The Post and Courier published at least 58 news stories about the Episcopal Church split and dozens of letters to the editor — a number of which offered Scriptural interpretations.
To one reader, that was too much. “My husband and I do not go to the editorial page for a daily sermon,” she said.
In August, Gray was one of 43 bishops who did not vote to confirm the gay bishop but said he accepted the majority’s decision as “the mind of the Church at this moment in faith history.”
Since then, the bishop has held meetings throughout the state to keep dialogue open. For the council, which begins Feb. 6, he has requested open hearings for all sides to debate the resolutions before they are presented to the council for vote. Delegates include laity and clergy from each of the 82 parishes and missions.
“I hope we can openly and constructively address the deep disagreements,” said Gray, who is third in his family to be a Mississippi bishop.
He estimates less than 1 percent of the diocesan members have left the Episcopal Church over the general convention’s decisions, but he said some Mississippians are expressing their feelings by withholding their normal tithings and support.
“There is a lot of uncertainty in our church,” Gray said. “We’re in unprecedented times, and this year’s council theme, ‘Praying Into God’s Future,’ is an acknowledgement of that uncertainty but also an affirmation that God greets us. Through prayer we can learn to walk confidently through uncertainty.”
In Northern Florida, the Diocese of Florida convention met, and for procedural reasons refused to consider a motion relating to joining the Network but the bishop made his position clear as reported in the Jacksonville Times-Union Episcopal unity in state is in danger
Clarifying his own place in the disagreement after months of silence, the newly installed bishop said he would not ordain active homosexuals or allow their unions to be celebrated, but promised to oppose any limits on the diocese’s participation in the national Episcopal Church.
By the end of the day, the success of Howard’s supporters in upholding that agenda had endangered his hopes for unity. Representatives from several of the most biblically orthodox churches said they stood on the brink of divorce from the diocese because the diocese would not divorce the Episcopal Church.
After a majority of delegates voted to continue contributing to the national church, representatives from 12 of those churches, comprising about 16 percent of the diocese, withdrew their annual contributions to the diocese. Six of those were from Jacksonville, and two from Orange Park.
Most of the dissidents said they simply wished to reconsider their contributions in the wake of the decisions by the convention. But some said their very membership in the diocese was in question.
In Central Florida, the diocese has joined the network. This news story from the local Scripps-Howard newspapers, Episcopalians say conservative network lets them protest gay bishop without leaving fold comes complete with a picture of animal blessings.
By joining the network, the diocese chose not to split from the Episcopal Church, which is the American branch of the Anglican Communion, the worldwide body of churches affiliated with the Church of England.
Meanwhile, one parish left the diocese for the AMiA anyway: Melbourne Episcopal church leaving denomination
Many ECUSA dioceses are holding their annual synods (called conventions or councils) at this time of year. This weekend, that included the Diocese of Virginia, the largest diocese.
Here are reports beforehand from the Washington Post Episcopalians to Face Major Issues
and the Richmond Times-Dispatch Meeting of Virginia Episcopalians starts today
Declining revenue and challenges to the authority of Richmond Bishop Peter James Lee will be two of the major issues on the agenda of more than 700 Episcopalians from Virginia as they gather today in Reston to begin their diocese’s annual convention.
The two-day meeting of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia takes place at a time of rising turmoil in the denomination set off by the consecration last summer of its first openly gay bishop, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
That turmoil is reflected in the convention’s agenda, which includes adoption of a 2004 budget that is reeling from a drop of nearly $900,000 in parish pledges. The delegates will also deal with a resolution asking Lee to allow conservative parishes to have another bishop lead them.
The full text of the bishop’s address to the council yesterday is online. Part of it is reproduced below.
After the convention the Washington Post published this account, Virginia Episcopalians Avert Split Over Gay Bishop
Episcopalians of Virginia voted yesterday to set up a year-long “reconciliation commission” to examine ways of maintaining their unity in the face of deep theological differences over what the church’s stance on homosexuality should be.
The vote, taken on the last day of the diocese’s annual convention, had wide support among the 700 delegates gathered at a Reston hotel — a sign, many said, of the desire not to let their differences lead to an open split.
From the bishop’s pastoral address:
The church’s current debate over sexuality is a controversy we may have no desire to discuss, and we do disagree, but it is a debate that distracts us from the mission that unites us. The reality is that serious Christians in our diocese differ over numerous traditions of Biblical interpretation that underlie our differences.
I appeal to members of this Council to see the unifying power of Christ in the midst of our differences and to take no actions to exacerbate our differences.
I hear the pain and grief expressed by those angered by the election and consecration of Bishop Robinson of New Hampshire and by my role in that. And I hear the pain and disappointment of gay and lesbian members of our diocese who are frustrated at the lack of availability to them of rites of blessing.
Members of a Christian community bear one another’s burdens. Listening to each other and finding those areas of mission where we can unite are important patterns of discipleship.
I appeal also to members of our diocese who are tempted to separate from our body because of their anger at what we have done or disappointment at what we have not done to stay the course and to learn of Christ’s desire for our unity through our engagement with one another.
James I. McCord was a twentieth century Presbyterian leader and scholar who warned his students: “If you must make a choice between heresy and schism, always choose heresy. For as a heretic, you are only guilty of a wrong opinion. As a schismatic, you have torn and divided the body of Christ. Chose heresy every time!” (The Anglican Journal, January 2004, p. 15)
Now, I hope we will avoid both heresy and schism. The best protection against heresy is the breadth of the community of faith, wrestling with the interaction of scripture and tradition with the stresses and questions of contemporary life. Schism diminishes the corrective power of differing opinions.
I am aware that some of our congregations are so unhappy with my decisions at General Convention that they will not welcome my visits to them. I remind you that Christian communities often consist of solidarities not of our choosing. Our faith teaches that people with whom we differ often have important truths to teach us. So I want very much to remain in touch with those who differ with me. I am willing to ask another bishop to come into a parish for pastoral and sacramental ministries, but I believe deeply that God has called us together to ministry in Virginia, and we have gifts to offer each other. We are one body, not a federation of individual, isolated congregations, and I am committed to serving the whole body.
There is One Lord, One faith, One baptism, and we are called perhaps especially at times of difference, to affirm that our unity in Christ transcends our differences. Claim that unity and pray that God will reveal more fully the bonds that bring us together.
Meetings planned to debate future of All Saints Church Sun News Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - relates to the parish that left ECUSA recently to join AMiA:
The future of All Saints Church, and whether it will remain part of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, will be the topic of meetings this week on the Waccamaw Neck.
A group of about 38 people who opposed the church’s vote to leave the diocese is scheduled to meet Tuesday with Bishop Edward Salmon.
“The meeting is meant to support members of All Saints who want to remain part of the diocese,” said Craige Borette, president of the standing committee of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.
The 1,000-member church, which is the third-largest congregation in the Diocese of South Carolina, voted overwhelmingly Jan. 8 to leave the diocese.
Parsley opposes protest group Birmingham News Alabama (Bishop Parsley opposes the Network)
The formation of a national protest network last week in response to the denomination’s first openly gay bishop is “clearly divisive,” said Alabama Episcopal Bishop Henry N. Parsley.
While 12 bishops have signed on to the new Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, Alabama’s bishop won’t.
“This is unfortunate,” Parsley, head of the Diocese of Alabama, said about the formation of the network. “We do not need ‘a church within a church.’ As the New Testament bears witness, we are to be the church together, with inevitable differences of opinion at times.”
Central Florida Episcopals vote to join conservative group Lakeland Ledger Florida (Bishop Howe was previously worried about the network when he read the Chapman memo, but now seems happier, see next item)
The Diocese of Central Florida is the state’s first to align itself with the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, in existence only since Tuesday.
The diocese consists of 48,000 members in 87 parishes across 15 counties.
…he [Bishop Howe] urged the diocese to move beyond the rancor that has gripped the church since the consecration of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire in November.
A response to a ‘Call to repudiate the American Anglican Council and Network’ appeared on Kendall Harmon’s blog but is written by Ephraim Radner.
He disagrees (at some length) with this Via Media Groups’ statement.
Kendall Harmon has written an even longer piece On the Matter of the Geoff Chapman Memo.
In this, among many many other things, he complains again about my choice of headline, based directly on the Washington Post’s own wording, which in turn reflects the content of their story.
He also comments that I attributed this and this to the American Anglican Council when I first listed them here. Both items were published on the AAC website at about the same time as their own press release with three URLs differing only in serial number (947, 948, 949). They also appeared in due course elsewhere here and here.
The Church Times has this report US conservatives deny they want a split.
Now as Kendall Harmon notes, this is a little incorrect. Credit for publishing the AAC letter should go exclusively to the Washington Post which published the full text as a pdf file. The letter itself first appeared in html right here on TA. The CT’s own press column (not on the web for another 2 weeks) discusses only the stories in the Guardian the next day.
Meanwhile, from around the USA:
In Texas, a Tall Order by Doug LeBlanc, in the Wall Street Journal
Episcopalians remain split on gay issues, New Jersey Herald
Diocese joins conservative group Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Bishop: Episcopal splinter groups ‘breeding schism’ Houston Voice
Forward in Faith North America has published this comment by David Moyer, FiF North America and The Network
Another article by Diane Knippers of IRD. The following comments were given by IRD President Diane Knippers at the American Anglican Council “Plano East” Conference in Woodbridge, VA on January 10, 2004. Exploding Myths about the Episcopal Church Crisis.
The CEN has US group fears retribution. The CEN went to press before the outcome of the meeting was known, but said:
Claims that the Network was an attempt to create a cocoon for conservatives within the Episcopal Church were inaccurate, one bishop noted. The Rt Rev Peter Beckwith of Springfield told The Church of England Newspaper “a Church within a Church is not what we are about”; such a solution would be “unworkable”.
ECUSA’s Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold, has issued this statement: A word to the Episcopal Church.
Every Voice Network has published AAC backtracks on breaking the law.
In Upstate New York the Albany Times-Union has Dissent network divides diocese.
In Kentucky, the Lexington Herald-Leader has Episcopal dispute on the front line.
Chicago Tribune Conservative bloc taking on Episcopal Church USA
Charleston Post and Courier Episcopal network OKs charter
Fort Worth Star-Telegram Episcopal group sets its course
Jacksonville Florida Times-Union Episcopal dissidents create ‘network’
AAC President’s Letter to AAC Members Concering the Adequate Oversight Memo
Press Release from Via Media groups GROUPS CALL FOR REPUDIATION OF AMERICAN ANGLICAN COUNCIL AND NETWORK
Episcopal News Service New Anglican network signs charter, elects Duncan moderator
Associated Press Questions and answers on the Episcopal Church’s gay divide
Peoria Journal Star Episcopal bishop: Leaders trying to end exodus from denomination
Reuters UK Anglicans could head for schism
“This is a definite step in the direction of schism,” Church Times Editor Paul Handley told Reuters after conservative U.S. Anglicans formed their own Episcopalian network in protest over the ordination of an openly homosexual bishop.
“There is no way this group of traditionalists will stay in the same organisation as the Liberal leadership of the U.S. Episcopalians,” he told Reuters.
“They are definite and determined,” he added. “This is a confirmation that they are not going to buckle under.”
The meeting in Plano has released the text of the Charter for the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes they have unanimously agreed.
Reuters reported it thus: Conservative Episcopalians Form New Network
The Associated Press had Launch of dissenting ‘network’ ensures a protracted Episcopal struggle over gay issues and Dissident Episcopalians Form Protest Group but Not Schism.
Beliefnet carried this interview What Do Conservative Episcopalians Really Want? with Diane Knippers, an Episcopalian who is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a completely separate body from the American Anglican Council.
What we really want is an amicable realignment of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. One possible scenario is that membership in the Anglican Communion is redefined with more obligations and with some measure of accountability. For example, perhaps the question of who gets to be an Anglican bishop might be settled, not only by national churches, but also through confirmation by some sort of global body. The Episcopal Church would presumably opt out of a Communion that requires such accountability, leaving the way for another entity to be granted the Anglican “franchise.”
The Christian Science Monitor ran this article: New Episcopal ‘network’: path to schism?.
The Organizing Convocation of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes today and tomorrow in Plano, Texas. The Convocation sessions will not be open to media or observers, but there will be press briefing or conference each day. Note that this body is not to be confused with the American Anglican Council.
This was front page news in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today, Rules jettisoned in Episcopal rift over gay bishop. Bishop Neil Alexander of the diocese of Atlanta ‘slammed the conservative coalition’s plans to break church law. “They seem determined to have their way, regardless of what kind of destruction it may cause the church rather than engage in the hard work of reconciliation.”’
Whether the Diocese of Central Florida would join seemed unclear, according to the Orlando Sentinel: Local Episcopalian bishop to convene with conservatives
and Episcopal Church’s Future Uncertain in the Lakeland Ledger.
The BBC reported it tonight: Anti-gay US clergy mulls ‘split’.
Meanwhile, Beliefnet’s Deborah Caldwell interviewed Frank Griswold, Presiding Over Crisis—and Maybe Schism.
Earlier, the Chicago Tribune had reported on the separate South Carolina defection of a parish as A fractured covenant.
And this press release supporting Bishop Johnson of West Tennessee was issued by all the Via Media diocesan groups together.
The BBC interviewed Bob Duncan on the radio this morning, listen here with Real Audio.
The Bishop of West Tennessee wrote a pastoral letter, severely critical of the American Anglican Council and in particular of the Chapman letter (first published on the web here).
They replied with a press release, and two other responses.
Yesterday’s story has produced plenty of follow-up.
First, here is the Associated Press version of the story as headlined in the Philadelphia area, Strategy paper asks ‘replacement’ for Episcopal Church due to gay bishop.
This version met with less disapproval than any other version from Kendall Harmon who even objected to “anti-ECUSA plot revealed” as my choice of title, though he failed to comment on our main blog headline Plot to supplant ECUSA.
Anyway, he really didn’t like the Washington Post story one little bit, not to mention the ENS version.
I don’t suppose he’s any happier about Stephen Bates who managed to get both a front page article, US Anglicans plot to break up church, and a more detailed inside story, Leaked letters reveal plot to split US church in today’s Guardian. The front page starts out:
American Anglican traditionalists are plotting the break-up of their national church and the creation of a new fundamentalist church in the wake of its consecration of the openly gay bishop Gene Robinson.
In spite of public assurances that they only wish to secure oversight by sympathetic conservative bishops, rebel parishes are being secretly told to prepare for the ultimate goal of breaking up the US Episcopal church - the American equivalent of the Church of England - the Guardian can reveal.
And that was not all: Stephen also had a third story in the same paper, this one about English plots: Bishops attack pressure groups which reports that Bishop Colin Buchanan has joined Bishop Pete Broadbent in complaining about the dreadful notes written after NEAC.
And for good measure today, the Guardian also has Karen Armstrong weighing in about third province apartheid proposals, The Eve of destruction.
Some other items today:
Slate published an article by Deborah Caldwell of Beliefnet Where Anglicans Fear To Tread - Will a schism destroy the Episcopal Church?
The American Anglican Council issued this press release in reaction to the Washington Post story.
The ECUSA Episcopal News Service issued this story about the report in the Washington Post, Memo discloses AAC’s strategy for replacing Episcopal Church (which also includes the full text of the memo).
Here also is an earlier ENS report on a conference of conservatives held earlier this month. Although titled North American conservatives and global South Anglicans seek discipline of ECUSA, in fact the speakers included several UK residents. Perhaps UK is Global South?
Today’s Washington Post carried this story:
Plan to Supplant Episcopal Church USA Is Revealed
The full text of the document mentioned in the story can be found below. It is also on the Washington Post website as a PDF document but is over 30 megabytes in size, so downloading is not recommended. PDF file later replaced by smaller one, only 4 Mb
It may be worth mentioning that the website listed at the end as being “in Great Britain” is not in Great Britain but is part of a Canadian one. Close :-)
December 28th, 2003
I am Geoff Chapman, Rector of St Stephens Church in Sewickley, Pa. (Diocese of Pittsburgh). I am responding to you on behalf of the American Anglican Council and their Bishops’ Committee on Adequate Episcopal Oversight (AEO). Thanks for contacting us; we very much want to network with you in these difficult times and be of real help to you.
The AAC Strategy Committee has been working for months on AEO. In consultation with a wide circle of friends - inside this country and beyond - we have clarified our strategy and are now moving to implement it. I am serving as their response person for AEO, and I want to brief you on our progress. This document will get you up to speed on where we are going. Please keep this document confidential, sharing it in hard copy (printed format) only with people you fully trust, and do not pass it on electronically to anyone under any circumstances.
1) Our ultimate goal is a realignment of Anglicanism on North American soil committed to biblical faith and values, and driven by Gospel mission. We believe in the end this should be a “replacement” jurisdiction with confessional standards, maintaining the historic faith of our Communion, closely aligned with the majority of world Anglicanism, emerging from the disastrous actions of General Convention (2003). We believe this goal is now pressed upon us by the Holy Spirit as a result of the rejection of the historic Christian faith and the rejection of biblical and Communion authority by the leadership of ECUSA. We will lead our congregations and partners in making the adjustment to adopt this strategy. We seek to retain ownership of our property as we move into this realignment.
2) As an intermediate step, we will respond to the urgent pastoral need in our country by offering Adequate Episcopal Oversight to parishes or remnants of parishes who share our deeply held convictions, proceeding under the guidance of our Bishops and the Primates. Bp Griswold’s offer of “Extended Episcopal Care” is unacceptable, fundamentally flawed and disingenuous, and does not meet the needs of our parishes or the intentions of the Primates. Our AEO will maintain confidentiality in the application process, and seek transfer of Parish oversight across geographic diocesan boundaries to an orthodox bishop, the right of pastoral succession, liberty of conscience In financial stewardship (the right to “redirect” funds), and negotiated property settlements affirming the retention of ownership in the local congregation.
The implementation of Adequate Episcopal Oversight will normally follow a two-step, “Stage 1 Then Stage 2” process.
Stage 1 will feature “spiritual realignment” while remaining within the letter of current canons. Parishes would publicly announce that their relationship with their diocesan Bishop is “severely damaged” because of the events of the summer, and that they are now looking to one of the Primates or an AAC orthodox Bishop for their “primary pastoral leadership”. Announcements will need to be carefully phrased to avoid canonical violations.
During the months of Stage 1, we will begin to reform our relationships to build the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. We will move to initiate support structures for fellowship and strategy, We will act courageously and faithfully to support “at risk” parishes. We will creatively redirect finances. We will refocus on Gospel initiatives. We will innovatively move around, beyond or within the canons to “act like the church God is making us”. Stage 1 will enable congregations/clusters to keep clear use of their buildings for the foreseeable future, and would give critical time to strengthen our leadership circles for what promises to be a turbulent spiritual season.
Stage 2 will launch at some yet to be determined moment, probably in 2004. During this phase, we will seek, under the guidance of the Primates, negotiated settlements in matters of property, jurisdiction, pastoral succession and communion, If adequate settlements are not within reach, a faithful disobedience of canon law on a widespread basis may be necessary.
Some congregations have already proceeded to “Stage 2” because of local circumstances. While we cannot offer AEO under an AAC diocesan Bishop at this time, we do have non-geographical oversight available from “offshore” Bishops, and retired Bishops. We may also be able to offer oversight from special designated priests acting on behalf of our AAC Diocesan Bishops.
3) Our local strategy for developing AEO will have to keep our goal and current hostile circumstances in mind. We call it a “cluster strategy”, and it will closely sync with the establishment and spread of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. We are developing clusters of churches (3-30 churches per cluster) in 15-30 varying dioceses. These churches would join the Network and apply for AEO whenever possible as diocesan clusters. When they are prepared, we will sequence public announcements of their intentions to realign in successive weeks to build impact. These churches will need Clergy and Vestries who are unified, well networked, and ready for a season of conflict if necessary.
Smaller, isolated congregations that cannot connect with a supporting cluster will be welcome to apply, but encouraged to make a public announcement later in 2004. They will sail in the wake of the leadership of stronger clusters.
Parishes/clusters that go through this process in a “Stage 2” mode and Bishops who receive such parishes/clusters will be at risk of litigation and presentment, and should be prepared for such.
An AAC Bishop could be available to go with any parish/cluster to meet with the diocesan Bp, as needed. We think the presence of an AAC Bishop with a stated partnership with the Primates could change the dynamics of such a meeting.
This “Stage 1, Stage 2, Cluster Strategy” has several advantages: It will…
4) We are building a network of “Cluster Moderators” who will serve emerging clusters as they gather. These leaders should have a servant’s heart and a broad base of support in their own parishes that will enable them to come alongside conflicted or imperiled congregations. They must be able to bridge the lines of our coalition with genuine respect for the differences within the orthodox community. We will identify these key leaders as soon as possible.
5) We would cover everything in intentional, dependent Christ-centered prayer, seeking the Holy Spirit’s leading and provision at every point, Prayer support cells will be developed around the country and mobilized at critical moments.
Here are some “Frequently Asked Questions” :
1) What does it take to apply for AEO (Adequate Episcopal Oversight)? Normally we would ask for the signature of the Rector and a supporting vote of the Vestry. When you have reached this point of decision, send the application to the AAC office. There is no need to inform your Bishop yet of the application. We will inform him with you in due time. You can find the application and guidelines here:
2) Does AEO mean that the orthodox overseeing Bishop would have control of the call, licensing, and canonical residence of the clergy? We do not know the answers to that, but our Bishops will be exploring these issues as we move forward. The AAC bishops are not prepared to sign off on an arrangement that will leave a congregation in continuing high risk, and that means that issues of spiritual authority, pastoral succession and episcopal oversight must be solved, That Is the fundamental difference between Adequate Episcopal “Oversight” envisioned by Canterbury and the Primates and the Episcopal “Care” offered by Griswold. However, there are many details yet to be ironed out.
3) What legal liabilities would you face if you wanted to leave your current diocese? Recent litigation indicates that the local diocesan authorities hold almost all the cards in property disputes and clergy placement if they want to play “hardball”.
But we think that the political realities are such that American revisionist bishops will be reticent to play “hardball” for a while. They have just handed the gay lobby a stunning victory, but are being forced to pay a fearsome price for it. The opposition at home is far greater than they anticipated and the opposition overseas is serious and inflamed. ECUSA will certainly lose members and funds at a high rate over the next months, accelerating their decline. In one short summer they have managed to radicalize all the orthodox in our communion and take away the “middle ground” where so many of our members have hidden! This has put many (perhaps even most) parishes in conflict and made the survival of many smaller parishes a large and urgent question. No one is very happy about this inside ECUSA, and the American public is hardly cheering the events in New Hampshire.
ECUSA leaders know well how conservatives could quickly become the “victims” in the public mind. They also know that all of our AEO work will eventually find its way across the desk of the Archbishop of Canterbury (ABC). All of this together will create pressure for them to cooperate with the ABC/Primate’s call for AEO. So we suspect that there will be a window of time before they return to “hardball” tactics.
The AAC has a new “Legal Resources” link on their home page, and if you or your new Vestry need help in this area, we would suggest contacting them.
4) Can we redirect our funds? This is happening on a widespread basis. There are several strategies to consider. Some parishes have used “donor intent” to trump diocesan canon. The argument goes something like this… “In these conflicted times we will offer our congregation pledge forms with options to indicate their preferred use of their funds. The options go… “Would you like to have a canonical portion of your gift sent (1) to the Diocese? (2) To the National Church? Or (3) To the Vestry for their judgment on whether to pass on funds to the Diocese or National Church? All redirected funds will go to Anglican missions who are committed to biblical faith, values and Gospel ministry?
The Vestry then informs the Diocese that they feel it important to allow their members to follow their conscience. Arguing for “freedom of conscience” and the honoring of “donor intent” is very difficult for liberals to oppose, regardless of the strength of your state law. And it should give your parish some breathing room as you seek to move through this difficult season together.
For a biblical/theological understanding of redirecting funds, look at John Guernsey’s talk from the Dallas Conference. You can find it here:
5) What is important over the next months? Here are some concrete suggestions for your consideration:
a. Join the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes. Here’s some basic information:
Look to the AAC website for updates.
b. Form diocesan “clusters” with sympathetic churches. This is essential. An AAC chapter can be the seedbed for a cluster that is seeking realignment. Circle up, pick a moderator, and contact us at AAC headquarters.
c. Be careful of your language. Don’t declare yourself “out of communion” with your diocesan Bishop as such statements have been used as evidence for canonical action against clergy (“abandonment of communion” in Philadelphia). To say that your communion is “impaired” or “damaged” is a wiser response for the moment. Let the excommunications come from the Primates.
d. Prioritize your issues and pursue them in due order. Sort out the challenges you face and go after the most important first, while saving the least important till last. The issues you face could include securing new leadership, consolidating and educating your Vestry, building a network of support within your Diocese, stabilizing your, congregation, etc. Take first things first. Operate in God’s time. Don’t be stampeded to early and untimely actions. The Primates will move over the next months to build a growing and determined solution to the crisis. It will be good to follow their lead and that of the AAC Bishops.
e. Be measured, deliberate and courageous in your responses, “Wise as serpents and gentle as doves was Jesus’ phrase for it! This is a moment for courageous and clear leadership. Watch out for the spirit of anger or self-righteousness! It will kill fractured parishes.
f. Join and build the network of churches committed to biblical values and faith. There will be safety in numbers. See if there are other parishes in your diocese who could also apply for AEO. Work in partnership with us in the AAC. Either we hang together or we hang separately! And don’t forget (when it seems like you are all alone) that Christ himself has promised to walk with us through these times!
g. Familiarize yourself with the strategy affirmed in Dallas in October and talk and pray about how you can apply it locally. It can be found here:
h. Keeping close to Christ is essential. Read your Bible. Pray lots. Be aware of Satan’s opposition and resist him. Worship regularly. Stay in good fellowship with close Christian friends. Watch out for your own emotions, especially anger and frustration, and remember that the Holy Spirit’s leading is not the same as your emotions! We will be of no use to the Lord Jesus in these struggles if we are not fully His!
i. Remember confidentiality! Much is at stake over these next months. The careers of godly men and women, the possibility of congregational survival, the Anglican witness to Christ in our culture and generation, etc. We ask you not to spread these emails over the internet, and to speak of them only to people you trust. In the end, everything will be spoken plainly, but the ability to get organize and take counsel together effectively depends upon our readiness to keep confidentiality.
Here are some Internet resources that might be of value in keeping you informed…
A site in Great Britain: “Crisis 2003”
Kendall Harmon’s excellent web site
David Virtue’s web page with a wide ranging collection of news stories
The American Anglican Council
http://www.americananglican.org/News/NewsList.cfm?c=21&num=1000The AAC Legal Resources page
The AAC Dallas Strategy affirmed by over 2300 people
Guidelines and Application for the AAC’s Adequate Episcopal Oversight
We will keep all details of our contact with parishes in confidence. Please do not hesitate to keep in touch with me or with the AAC office if we can be of further help. God bless you, as you courageously serve Christ and his gospel.
Here is my contact information…
Geoffrey W. Chapman
Rector, St Stephens Sewickley, Pa
First Pittsburgh where the Post-Gazette reported on 7 Jan a story misleadingly headlined Attorneys withdraw Episcopal land-grab resolution (but see 9 Jan correction at end of article) and this news was also reported by AP, for example Church leader withdraws local property-control call.
Second South Carolina where an ultra-conservative parish has decided to withdraw from ECUSA completely and join the AMiA, despite being in one of the most conservative dioceses of the church. Charleston Post-Courier: Church severs Episcopal ties or Myrtle Beach Sun News All Saints declares its independence. The diocese had previously reduced the parish to mission status under the direct control of the bishop.
Update here is what the diocesan standing committee said.
The AP also carried this story on Via Media groups in conservative dioceses across the country: Dissenting in place.
Meanwhile, there’s another gathering of conservatives right now in “Plano East” which turns out to mean Woodbridge, Virginia. Here’s the latest AP report as carried by the New York Times, Episcopalians Meet to Discuss a Possible Split.
Update here is a further report from the Washington Post, Episcopal Dissenters Plan Their Strategy.
And the Southern Cone province has unsurprisingly condemned ECUSA.