UK Anglicans welcome the consecration of Gene Robinson
3rd November 2003
The original release is here and reproduced below.3 Comments
I am writing this on the day that Gene Robinson is being consecrated as Bishop of New Hampshire. He will be making history as the first open and active gay man to be made bishop in the Anglican Church. His election and consecration has threatened to cause division not only in his own Episcopal Church of the United States, but across the entire Anglican Communion.
For some faithful Anglicans, today marks the painful end of an agreed understanding of how we should order our lives and our churches. They feel distraught and anxious about the future of our Communion and the future of the Christian faith as it has been taught and handed down over the centuries.
For others, today heralds a time when we step out of the shadows of hypocrisy into the light of Christ’s love for and acceptance of all his followers, including that small minority who are attracted to their own sex. For these believers, the Church has just made a bold and positive stand which will enhance its mission and ministry to the world.
Last month the Anglican Primates gathered at Lambeth Palace at the invitation of Archbishop Rowan Williams, largely in response to Gene Robinson’s election. What they achieved was remarkable: no one walked out and everyone pledged to stay faithful to the process, even though they acknowledged that there would be repercussions when Gene Robinson was made bishop. As in politics, what happens now will have, at least in part, to do with the art of the possible: we are not starting in an ideal world, nor are we starting in a vacuum.
Right before he allowed himself to be arrested, Jesus prayed a powerful prayer for our unity – not albeit denominational, but for all his followers: … “that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity.” (John 17:23 TNIV) This unity was for a purpose, so that “the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me”.
I believe that Anglican unity is a prize worth fighting for, but that unity exists within the context of a greater unity – the unity of all believers in Christ. Even if the nature of Anglican unity changes over the weeks and months to come, we can still claim and stand on that greater unity, which, if we truly believe in the life, saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and in the ongoing infilling of the Holy Spirit, remains unshaken. We can disagree with one another, we can even declare ourselves out of communion with one another, whatever that means, but let’s not lose sight of the nature and purpose of the deeper unity that we have in the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. There can be nothing more important than that.1 Comment
The BBC website is carrying this live video link of Canon Robinson’s consecration, starting at 9pm until around midnight or so GMT.
Three protesters came forward to object to the consecration when the Presiding Bishop asked if there were any objections. The PB asked that they be listened to courteously and without approval or disapproval. The PB interrupted the first protester when he began to describe explicitly various sexual practices, and he continued briefly. The third protester, Bishop Bena, suffragan of Albany, read a statement on behalf of 38 ECUSA and Canadian bishops. The PB then responded briefly, thanking the objectors for their concerns, and saying that the basis of their objection has been known to all those involved in the process, the diocese of NH, General Convention, and the Primates. The Primates, he noted, affirmed their desire that we should understand one anothers’ contexts, that this was precisely what was happening here, and that therefore ‘we shall proceed’. The service then continued with the congregational affirmation of the the bishop-elect, and then the Litany. There was no sign of any disturbance or of people leaving the arena, but this may have occurred out of camera.
The Independent on Sunday prints Tom Butler: Today’s Bishop is a gay divorcee. We may not like it but is it worth a schism? by the Bishop of Southwark. This paper also has a news story, Gay bishop in disruption scare.
The Observer claims in Williams set to condemn gay bishop that Rowan Williams will issue “a strongly worded statement attacking the consecration of Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire within the next 24 hours.”1 Comment
This was signed today in a service which started in Methodist Central Hall, Westminster and finished across the road in Westminster Abbey.
Westminster Abbey has a brief report and if you follow the link to “More…” you will find two photographs taken during the Abbey part of the service.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s address does not appear to be online yet, but the text of it is available in a press release which is copied below.
[Update on Monday 3 November – The Archbishop’s address has been put online by the Anglican Communion News Service.]
The BBC has Anglicans and Methodists end rift.0 Comments
In the USA, the Washington Post has details of the planned protests on Sunday in Consecration Will Include Objections.
The Philadelphia Inquirer has a profile of both Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh and Bishop Bennison of Pennsylvania (the diocese centred on Philadelphia, altogether the state is divided into five Episcopal dioceses) in Two Pa. bishops, one church divide earlier story from that paper is headlined As gay bishop’s consecration nears, Episcopalians talk of schism.
The Times has A. C. Grayling writing on Schisms, The reason of things;
The threatened schism within Anglicanism turns on a scriptural teaching which some Anglicans are not minded to defy, namely, the proscription of homosexuality in Leviticus xviii, 22. Here schism seems to be the right answer, for a church which does not accept gay people fully seems well worth schisming from.
The Telegraph has a leader Christian disunity which regrets the forthcoming consecration:
It will be as historic an event for the Anglican Communion as the hurling of anathemas between Michael Cerularius and Cardinal Humbert was for the universal Church in 1054, when Latins and Greeks broke into open schism.
Back on 10 October, I reported on the feature that the Church Times carried before the special primates meeting. The following additional articles from that issue are now available online:
The scriptural view, and interpretations an extract from the Doctrine Commission’s recent book Being Human
Africa, too, has sexual truths to confront by Kevin Ward
‘The unity of a community of friends’ by Bishop Peter J Lee of Virginia
Carry on in conversation by David L Edwards
The price of living a lie by Sarah Hill
The Guardian has The Guardian profile: Gene Robinson by their religious affairs correspondent Stephen Bates. Warning: this article will offend conservatives.3 Comments
On 29 October the Archbishop of Canterbury named a group appointed to discuss issues of homosexuality. The day, marked in the Anglican calendar by the martyrdom of Bishop James Hannington, seems singularly appropriate. He was sent by the Church Missionary Society to Uganda in 1884. Exciting Holiness gives the following details of his fate: ‘The King of the Buganda, Mwanga, who despised Christians because they refused to condone his moral turpitude, seized the whole party, tortured them for several days and then had them butchered to death on this day in 1885.’1 Comment
One of our hopes when we began ‘Thinking Anglicans’ was that it would include news, comment and reflections on a range of topics. We wrote of a spirituality ‘in which justice is central to the proclamation of the good news of the kingdom of God’. Now that the website has established itself as a centre for up to date news, we intend to expand the amount of comment and reflection.
Beginning tomorrow, we will add a weekly feature called ‘Just Thinking’. Each week one of our writers will share their thoughts with us and remind us of the spiritual nature of our task. The title ‘just thinking’ indicates both the desire to think about our Christian faith, and also alludes to the justice to be found in the Christian message — we must think justly. We hope that these thoughts will help provide us with a more rounded picture, a glimpse of God’s kingdom which we are trying to work towards and proclaim in our different ways.1 Comment
The Australian ABC Radio National programme The Religion Report has this interview with a former Assistant Bishop in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, Andrew St John, now serving in New York City, about current events in ECUSA.
National Public Radio in the USA has a report Episcopal Church at a Crossroads. (You will need Real Audio to listen.)
There are various reports on the appointment of the new Eames commission.
In The Times, under the seriously misleading headline Eames to head Church inquiry into gay priests, Ruth Gledhill notes that Professor Norman Doe is a member. He wrote “an influential study into Anglican ius commune, or common law, which was presented to a meeting of the primates in Kanuga, North Carolina, in 2001 and published recently in the _Ecclesiastical Law Journal_.”
In his paper Professor Doe wrote: “There is no formal Anglican canon law globally applicable to and binding upon member churches of the Communion. No central institution exists with competence to create such a body of laws.”
As Ruth reports, “In the study he outlined a way of drawing up an understanding of Anglican common law dealing with inter- Anglican relations and looks at how this overarching common law could be incorporated into each individual Church’s canonical structure. This would, he predicted, vastly reduce the likelihood of disagreements between provinces.”
The Herald has some helpful information about Anne McGavin in Scotland to have voice in Anglican debate on gays.2 Comments
The Anglican-Methodist Covenant in England will be signed at a national celebration on Saturday 1 November 2003 in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen. Earlier this year the Covenant was strongly endorsed by the Methodist Conference of Great Britain and the General Synod of the Church of England.
The event will begin at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, at 11.00 am when the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the President, Vice-President and Secretary of the Methodist Conference will sign the Covenant on behalf of their churches before an invited assembly. The ceremony will continue at Westminster Abbey with a short service of thanksgiving and dedication.0 Comments
Robin Eames delivered his presidential address to the synod of the Diocese of Amargh today. You can read the full text of it here. The section on Anglican Communion issues is essential reading. (Would that English dioceses had such good websites.)
Meanwhile the Belfast Telegraph speculated that Robin Eames would be chosen to chair the proposed new commission that the primates meeting asked the ABC to set up. Of course the Telegraph has mis-described it as the “Gay Clergy Commission” but never mind.
The Belfast Telegraph was right, here is the official announcement of the appointment of the commission on ACNS, Anglican Communion – Commission announced.
In New Westminster diocese, it is reported that seven priests, who oppose the actions of the diocesan synod in authorising those parishes who wish to do so to conduct same-sex blessings, have been charged with eccclesiastical offences.
The charges, identical for all seven clergy, include disobedience to the bishop, contemptuous or disrespectful conduct towards the bishop, schism, conduct causing scandal, and “otherwise offences against the lawful authority of the bishop.”0 Comments
This item appears in The Times at the end of an article about something else.
Leaders of the evangelical wing of the Church of England yesterday took the first steps towards schism by officially downgrading their relationships with supporters of homosexual ordinations and same-sex blessings (Ruth Gledhill writes). The councils of Reform, the Church Society and the Fellowship of Word and Spirit, three of the most influential evangelical organisations in England, said they were in “impaired communion” with any Anglican bishop who fails to uphold the traditional line on homosexuality. This means they will not grant full recognition to Canon Gene Robinson, the gay bishop-elect of New Hampshire, to the bishops who elected him there nor to the Right Rev Michael Ingham, whose diocese of New Westminster in Canada has authorised a rite for same-sex blessings. Provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion are expected to make similar declarations after Canon Robinson’s ordination as bishop on Sunday.
Here is the press release from the Church Society website.0 Comments
Monday’s British newspapers all report on Gene Robinson in various ways.
The Independent not only reports Gay pastor employs bodyguards after threats but also features an interview with him, Gene Robinson: ‘Is the issue of my sexuality bigger than everything that holds us together?’.
The Telegraph has Gay bishop kept under 24-hour FBI guard.
The Times has two stories. From New York, Church begins property wrangle as schism looms reports the Pittsburgh lawsuit mentioned here yesterday, and in Gays are like wilderness Israelites, says bishop Ruth Gledhill reports on yesterday’s LGCM conference service in Manchester.
In the Guardian, Gay bishop vows to accept US post.
The BBC radio programme Sunday interviewed both Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh and Bishop Ingham of New Westminster this morning. Listen here (Real Audio required). This contains some fascinating statements.
Bishop Duncan gave no indication that I could detect that American conservative bishops intend working within ECUSA structures, but clearly intend to ignore existing diocesan boundaries. Bishop Ingham said that alternative oversight arrangements set up by him, and endorsed by the Canadian House of Bishops had been offered but rejected by New Westminster conservatives. He also noted that Bishop Duncan had visited New Westminster without permission and accused him of “cross-border raiding”.
In other news today:
A separate feature on the programme concerns the LGCM conference (Real Audio required).0 Comments
The Church Times:
Primates teeter on brink of split
Dr Williams encourages ‘extended oversight’
The six conservatives who met RW “… were encouraged to consider the question of oversight as part of developing their relationship with ECUSA. The Archbishop was keen that they should work as closely as possible with the Presiding Bishop in developing the issue along these lines,” [Jonathan Jennings] said, … “encouragement” for the “Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes” should not be interpreted as the Archbishop’s seeking a relationship outside ECUSA.”
Comment: Is the American Anglican Council seriously listening to RW? See this new item on their website, American Anglican Council Begins Preparations for Realignment of Anglicanism in America.
Most disturbingly, the Primates wander into the minefield of schism and then content themselves with describing the scenery. It is common knowledge that the issue of homosexuality causes “profound pain and uncertainty”. If the perspective of “small and struggling Churches in the developing world”, as Dr Williams put it, is widely known, how did that come about?
Through engagement, not separation. How can the Primates best fulfil the promise made at the Lambeth Conference about listening to the experiences of homosexual people? By continued communion with those provinces in which homosexual people have the freedom to speak without fear of victimisation.
The BBC has this story on Gene Robinson’s presentation, which links to a video 26 minutes long of his remarks (Real Player required).
The Press Assocation report is here.
ACNS has published the text of Michael Ingham’s presentation, and also has this news story.
More material can be found at the conference website and specifically here.
Update BBC report of church service here.0 Comments