Thinking Anglicans

Advent pastoral letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury has sent a pastoral letter about the well-being of the Communion and the future of its common discipleship to all Anglican Primates. In connection with the current controversy he wrote “Any words that could make it easier for someone to attack or abuse a homosexual person are words of which we must repent.”

The Sunday Times saw a copy of the letter before its official publication and, picking up on this last point, published this article this morning:

Williams tells clergy: stop gay bashing

Similar stories have subsequently been carried by the BBC and The Scotsman and many other online newspapers around the world.
Churches warned over ‘gay slurs’ (BBC)
Archbishop’s Bid to Heal Rift over Homosexuality (Scotsman)

Monday morning update

Two articles from this morning’s papers:

Williams’ call for Anglican unity falls on deaf ears (Guardian)
Williams calls for healing in gay rift (Telegraph)

The Archbishop’s letter is also available here and here.


Windsor Report: official ECUSA comments so far

Many commentators appear to be convinced that ECUSA will not accept the specific recommendations made in the Windsor Report which are directed to that body. What ECUSA official bodies have in fact said so far is listed below.

The House of Bishops, immediately prior to the release of the report said, on 28 September, see ENS 092804-1:

The report of the Lambeth Commission will be released in mid-October. We are committed to a gracious reception of the report in a spirit of humility and to a willingness to learn how we might best be faithful and responsible partners in the Anglican Communion. It is our intention to gather as provincial Houses of Bishops during the autumn and then to meet as a House of Bishops early in the new year to study and appropriate the work of the Commission.

Presiding Bishop Griswold issued some preliminary reflections regarding the Windsor Report at the time of the report’s publication on 18 October.

On 5 November, see ENS 110804-3, the Executive Council said:

As the Episcopal Church begins to receive the Windsor Report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion, we invite all congregations, dioceses and provinces of the church to take time to read and discuss the report. The church needs to explore the Commission’s vision of how we are called to a deeper communion with one another as a reflection of the inner communion of the triune God. The church also needs to reflect on the Commission’s recommendations about how the Anglican Communion might function amid differing views.

Our church’s reception of the report will be enhanced as you share your reflections with bishops and members of this Council. The House of Bishops will meet in January, and the Council will meet in February. It is especially important that all orders of ministry, including lay people, contribute to the church’s reflection. The Presiding Bishop would like to be informed by these deliberations as he meets with the Primates in February. We affirm his intention to appoint a group to respond to the Windsor Report’s invitation that the Episcopal Church explain the rationale for consecrating a bishop living in a same-gender relationship.

The consultations of the coming months are just the beginning of our church’s reception of the Windsor Report, for the principal response should be made by the 2006 General Convention. We believe our role as Executive Council is to help prepare deputies, bishops and the church at large for the discussions that will take place at Convention. As we considered the report, we were assisted by Bishop Mark Dyer, the Episcopal Church’s representative on the Commission, and Bishop James Tengatenga of Southern Malawi, who shared perspectives as an African church leader.

Full text of the Executive Council message is here.


Mark Dyer on the Windsor Report

Bishop Mark Dyer is the retired Bishop of Bethlehem (Pennsylvania, USA). He currently teaches at the Virginia Theological Seminary and worships at St. Mary’s, Arlington. He was the only ECUSA representative on the Lambeth Commission. Since the publication of the Windsor Report he has been speaking at many venues across the USA.

An audio tape of his remarks to the clergy of the Diocese of Virginia, on 15 November at Richmond, Virginia can be heard here. This is a very detailed analysis of the Windsor Report. Although it is very long, it is well worth listening to in full.

A transcript of his remarks at the Virginia Theological Seminary on 5 November can be found here.

Another transcript is here.

Some of Bishop Dyer’s views have been strongly contested by American conservatives, see for example
Mark Dyer’s Departure from Theology and Faith Criticized
Mark Dyer, The Virginia Report, and the Promise of The Windsor Report.
Dyer Lecture Twists Windsor Report

Readers of TA must form their own views and are welcome to comment here.

Here is the statement from Bishop Mark Dyer issued to ENS at the time the Windsor Report was published.

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Windsor Report: Reception Process

The Anglican Communion News Service has announced in ACNS 3914 that the Lambeth Commission web site has been expanded and developed for the Reception Process of the Windsor Report.

The new site brings together the three strands of the Commission’s work, including all documentation and materials related to the composition of the Windsor Report 2004, commission news and related articles, and all up-to-date information on the now ongoing Reception Process.

Users of the site are able to submit their own views across a range of categories – general responses, ecumenical comment, and answers to questions posed by the Primates’ Standing Committee – in relation to this Reception Process.
The questions, most of which were first listed in ACNS 3909 ,are reproduced below.

The site also includes a section in which official responses to the Windsor Report will be posted. So far it includes 11 items by Primates and Provinces of the Communion.

There is also now a Summary Guide to the report, available here.



Los Angeles reacts to Windsor report

Los Angeles is a long way from Pittsburgh.

Larry Stammer of the Los Angeles Times reports that Bishop Jon Bruno has said he will observe a personal moratorium on blessing same-sex unions. However, he said his priests were free to continue officiating at homosexual ceremonies. He also wants to seek reconciliation with dissenting parishes.

Episcopal Bishop to Stop Blessing Same-Sex Unions

(There’s also an Associated Press version of the same story here Bishop wants parishes back)

At the same time, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the six-county Los Angeles diocese, called for an international church summit in Los Angeles, including dissenting African bishops who have claimed jurisdiction over the three parishes.

Bruno said he wanted to seek an accommodation in the controversy that erupted in August when the three parishes unilaterally declared that they had left the diocese and the U.S. Episcopal Church over differences involving Scripture and homosexuality. They said they had placed themselves under the jurisdiction of the Anglican Church in Uganda.

But only hours after Bruno disclosed his moratorium and summit proposals Tuesday, they were rejected by Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, primate of the Anglican Church in Uganda, and Bishop Evans Kisekka of the Diocese of Luweero in Uganda. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. wing of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The diocesan website also carries this report of local responses to the actions of the three dissenting parishes:
Grassroots support grows as bishop calls for inclusion which also contains the following statistics on how the three parishes held votes on whether to stay in ECUSA:

According to statements by the three rectors, each congregation held a meeting to vote on the question of remaining within the Episcopal Church or joining the Diocese of Luwero. Of the 1,218 members of St. James’ Church, 292 attended the meeting. Of those attending, 280 voted in favor of the motion; 12 were opposed. At All Saints, 141 of 429 parishioners voted, 131 in favor of secession. At St. David’s, the vote was 68 to 12, out of 125 members (membership numbers are taken from the “communicant in good standing” statistics published in the 2003 Journal of Convention, and include children).

The LA Times also says:

Bruno also sent word of his positions to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Williams, who had written the Los Angeles bishop Nov. 9, called Bruno’s proposal a “generous response” to bring about reconciliation.

Meanwhile, Bruno said Tuesday he would indefinitely delay filing church charges against a retired Episcopal bishop in Texas, the Rt. Rev. Maurice M. Benitez, who is standing in for the African bishops in overseeing the three breakaway parishes. But Bruno is proceeding with the civil lawsuits seeking to regain control over the parishes.

Bruno also disclosed Tuesday that he had authorized another bishop to provide pastoral — but not legal — oversight of Christ the King Church in Santa Barbara, which has also objected to the stands that Bruno and the national church have taken on homosexuality. That church has not seceded and remains under Bruno’s authority.

Another recent report from the Long Beach Press-Telegram
Church shift protested
25 object to what they say are anti-gay practices at All Saints, which left local diocese.


death as a means of maintaining power

The feast of Christ the King, celebrated this year with the gospel story of the mocking of “The King of the Jews” as he hung helpless on the cross, is the proclamation of the kingdom in which death has no dominion.

Human authority has used death as a means of maintaining its power. It has demonstrated that it has the last word by killing opposition.

God’s kingdom has nothing in common with this, and God does not seek to impose his will through death. Instead, through the crucified and risen Lord, “the firstborn of all creation” a kingdom based on love and on life is revealed.

We have been slow to model human society on this. In the early days of the Christian Roman Empire, the ruler was often not baptised until old age, because as emperor, he would have to order the death penalty. There was an understanding that a rule of law based on the death penalty and a kingdom based on love were fundamentally incompatible. Later Christian rulers were less scrupulous, though we have never lost sight of this ideal.

Today in most of Europe the death penalty has been outlawed. We recognise that mistakes can be made. Also, as Christians, we acknowledge that ultimate authority belongs to the God of love, not to a despot who enforces order through the death penalty.

But many countries, including the United States, still appear to celebrate their use of death as the sign of the power of the state. Sometimes it is only too clear that the State does this because it needs to appease what might be greater violence by an uncontrollable mob.

Today in Britain we mark one small move in the right direction. We shall not see a baying pack of hounds pursuing a defenceless fox or deer in future. Glorying in this form of killing has been declared unacceptable.

On the other hand, the decision to invade Iraq, which posed no external threat, and the way in which lives and infrastructure have been destroyed in that independent sovereign nation has appeared to the rest of the world to be a glorying in that very culture of death which Christ came to end.

The rest of the world can see it was only done to put American forces close to the borders of a now weakened Russia, and lay claim to the vast oil reserves of the nation. The number of Iraqi lives lost in the process is so high that we dare not even try to count the losses.

It is time Britain and America, with their long Christian heritage, learned turn away from this culture of death and to follow the ways of Christ, the king of love.

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Pittsburgh: Calvary responds to Duncan

Calvary Episcopal Church has responded to the remarks made by Bishop Duncan with this press release:

…Bishop Duncan has now asserted at the Diocesan Convention that this lawsuit (which seeks to enforce the constitution and canons of the National Church and the Pittsburgh Diocese) could be a basis for expelling Calvary and St. Stephen’s from the Diocese. That assertion has no support in the Diocesan canon providing for dissolution of relationships with parishes, and we are fully confident that such expulsion would never be upheld by either the National Church or the Court. Actually, the Bishop’s very assertion shows the legitimacy of Calvary’s and St. Stephen’s concern that the constitution and canons of the National Church will not be respected in this Diocese…

Canon XV, Sec. 6, Canons of the Diocese of Pittsburgh

“The Convention may, by a two-thirds vote, dissolve its union with any Parish. Provided, however, that . . . notice of said propo sed action shall have be en given in the preceding Annual Convention.”

Below the fold, is a long article by the Rector of Calvary, Harold Lewis published in the current issue of the parish magazine Agape available as a PDF file on the parish site.



Pittsburgh diocesan lawsuit

There has been a interesting development in the lawsuit to which Robert Duncan took such exception recently. The official court website has published the most recently filed papers. Unfortunately they are in the format of a 3 Mb PDF file. If you have broadband, you can read the whole thing for yourself here.

It contains as attachments a number of documents written by NACDAP people. Andrew Grimmke at CESLD has kindly extracted several of these into smaller files, which anyone should be able to read with Adobe Acrobat Reader. For full details of all of these go here.

First, here is an exchange of emails between Bob Duncan the bishop and Hugo Blankenship the lawyer concerning the latter’s discussions in England in December 2003 with John Rees who was the legal adviser to the Lambeth Commission.

Second, Mainstream Meeting 11/20/03 appears to be notes from the meeting in London referenced in this AAC press release dated 17 December, which said:

The Network was initially established at a gathering of mainstream Anglican leaders in London on November 20, 2003. The leaders included several bishops, including four Anglican Primates and Bishops Edward L. Salmon of the Diocese of South Carolina, James B. Stanton of the Diocese of Dallas, Jack L. Iker of the Diocese of Ft. Worth, and Robert W. Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. At the meeting, the U.S. bishops drafted a Memorandum of Agreement that outlines the process for establishing the Network. In keeping with the Preamble to the Constitution of ECUSA, the Memorandum of Agreement pledges to “uphold and propagate the historic faith and order, fulfilling the Church’s apostolic mission”.

Third, here is a Draft Proposal for Overseas AEO dated 3 March 2004 and authored by Alison Barfoot.

There is more in the original file.


more from the Church Times on women bishops

Here are the further Church Times articles published on 5 November that were not available on the web at that time:

Adding another obstacle to unity By Jonathan Baker

No more half measures by Stephen Trott

When God calls us, it is as humans by Jane Shaw

Also some summaries of what the report says:

Women bishops: issues of theory and practice
Rochester Report: critical questions raised by the ordination of women bishops
Rochester report: a theory of change


Bush v Rochester

I think that women should be eligible to be bishops in the Church of England, that this is a natural corollary of women’s priesthood, and that it should happen sooner rather than later. As one of the promoters of the ‘Priests for Women Bishops’ petition, I would say that, wouldn’t I?

So why do I find myself so unmoved by the Rochester report? I should be caught up in a exchanges about the theology, the principles, the options. I did try to give the report serious consideration when it came out last week, but it was a very busy week, with lots of not-quite-prepared teaching to be done, and I found my emotions far more caught up in the outcome of the US presidential election than in the reading of several hundred pages of CofE prose.

That the report has been produced means that the issue is being taken seriously, and I welcome that, of course. The timetable for the debate is being respected, and there is no attempt, so far, to lose ‘women bishops’ in the mire of endless committees. That it is so long speaks of the thoroughness of the working party. It also provides a vivid illustration of the diversity of the English Anglican inheritance: at the extremes we have very different understandings of episcopacy, and we have lived with that difference, as with so many others, for centuries.

Once we move from the extended treatment of episcopacy in scripture and tradition, it becomes a ‘what if…?’ piece of thinking. Scenarios are laid out before us (or rather, are to be laid out before General Synod), actions and consequences suggested. At some level, most people who have any interest in the matter will have already have understood how different decisions might play, and I doubt whether the report will do much to change hearts and minds. It was not intended to.

It is a tool for the synod to use in achieving a decision. Clarion calls for inclusion, for justice, for the wholeness of the church will come from other sources: as will those for the preservation of a particular tradition and pastoral care of tender consciences. And so I return to my emotional focus of last week. I can identify some steps I can take to further inclusion, justice, and wholeness within the Church of England; but that’s a small corner of a world which seems dangerously hostile to such a vision.


Pittsburgh diocesan goings-on

Anglicans Online has reports in its News Centre today of some of these extraordinary events, but here is more detail.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has issued three press releases:
Constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved

The amendment gives the diocese the constitutional foundation needed to differ with the national church when the diocesan convention determines the national body’s decisions “to be contrary to the historic faith and order of the one holy catholic and apostolic church.” In those cases, the amended constitution makes clear that “the local determination shall prevail.”

To be approved, the resolution had to be passed by majorities of both clergy and lay delegates. Among clergy, 79 voted in favor, 14 against, and 8 abstained. Lay delegates also passed the constitutional amendment by a lopsided margin, with 124 in favor, 45 against and 3 abstentions.

Churches involved in lawsuit should reconsider, says Bishop

Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan asked two parishes of the Diocese, Calvary Episcopal Church in East Liberty and St. Stephen’s Church in Wilkensburg, to reconsider their 13-month-old lawsuit against both bishops and 16 other clergy and lay leaders of the Diocese on November 6.

In order to encourage that process and bring the issues involved to resolution, Bishop Duncan gave notice that the union of those congregations to the diocese might properly be considered the next time the Convention of the diocese meets. Diocesan canons provide that the Convention may dissolve its connection to a parish in cases where there are egregious breeches of church faith or church order. The Bishop said that it was the deepest hope of the Standing Committee that invoking this provision might help everyone understand the gravity of what is at issue, and that there must be some better way than Christians suing one another in court. The bishop stated in making the announcement that he hoped this would actually move forward a process of reconciliation and restoration.

Misinformation in Post-Gazette article damaging to diocesan mission

Unfounded speculation, printed in the November 4 Pittsburgh Post – Gazette under the headline “Episcopal diocese ponders future,” is not only untrue, but damaging to the unity and mission of Pittsburgh Episcopalians, said Bishop Robert Duncan.

Dealing with the last one first, here is the newspaper report:
Episcopal diocese ponders future

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh issued two press releases, each dealing with one of the other two items:

Pittsburgh Episcopal Diocese Pursues Divisive Course
Bishop Threatens Parishes with Expulsion

and the local newspaper reported on them in these terms:
Episcopalians here defy U.S. church
Local bishop pressures two Episcopal churches

Here is the report from Episcopal News Service
Pittsburgh convention approves nullification of national actions

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New CofE Website

The Church of England has a new website. You’ll not be surprised to know that things have moved. Here are updated links to some of the items that I have linked recently.

Women Bishops in the Church of England? and Reader’s guide
General Synod Agendas and Papers
Church Statistics
Building faith in our future


Windsor report: Church Times coverage continued

In the issue of 29 October, there was a further news report:
Windsor report: more views.

The following articles appeared:
The Windsor report is not enough to hold Anglicans together
by Peter Jensen Archbishop of Sydney
How to quench the Spirit
by Marilyn Adams
‘But I have a lot of gay friends’
by Giles Fraser

Further letters to the editor appeared.


Windsor report: Church Times analysis

Since our earlier reports of news coverage, a number of comment articles that were published in the Church Times have become available online without subscription.

First, in the issue of 22 October, these appeared an additional news report: Frank talk with Josiah
There is a full transcript of the event reported here on the Pew Forum website.

There was also a Lambeth Commission: main points summary of the report, and the text of the draft anglican covenant.

The Church Times editorial is That the world may believe

There is also a series of analyses:
Has Robin Eames done it again? by Peter Lee, Bishop of Virginia
A chance for relationships by Njongonkulu Ndungane Primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa
Counting the cost of unity by Giles Fraser
Two cheers for ECUSA by David Edwards
It’s not enough for healing by Robert Duncan Bishop of Pitsburgh
You don’t need to call in the law by John Rees
We can all celebrate diversity by Tom Wright Bishop of Durham
The paper also reprinted an extract from Rowan Williams’s address to the1998 Lambeth Conference, When Christians disagree.

There are First responses from our readers to the Windsor report and in his Press column Andrew Brown discusses the initial newspaper reports.


'Bush is back'

‘Bush is back’ — Brian Draper at LICC writes about this week’s news from the USA.

Bush is back. And many Christians are rejoicing. The president’s thinking is driven both by a theology of personal morality, and the conviction that he and his country can act globally and unilaterally, on God’s behalf, for good.

Yet any Christian who worries — as many do — about the past and future consequences of this combination is now faced with a choice.

Either they surrender to the sense of disempowerment that swept both coasts of America and much of the world on Wednesday. Or, more positively, they seize the opportunity to ensure that practical theology is not monopolised by the Religious Right for the next four years.

Continue reading at LICC to see Draper’s response to President Bush’s re-election.


church press on Rochester

Church of England Newspaper
Church report gives options to allow women bishops

The Rochester Report: Dean Vivianne Faull
The Rochester Report: the Rev Geoffrey Kirk
The Rochester Report: the Rev Dr Harriet Harris

Church Times
Women bishops not before 2010, C of E warned
It’s a tough one, says Rochester report
‘MPs may oppose Option I’

Plus three comment articles, not yet available online except to paid subscribers, by Stephen Trott, Jane Shaw and Jonathan Baker.

And the editorial column A solution must be found


more on Rochester report

The Guardian’s Stephen Bates reports that Church may have woman bishops in 2009

Addition: The Guardian also carried two more articles:
Men are not closer to God than women by Jane Shaw
Unity of the church is at risk by David Houlding

In the Telegraph Jonathan Petre says that Church may split to clear way for female bishops
and a sidebar notes that Protagonists cite Bible as evidence
The newspaper has a leader column Anglicans’ third way?

In The Times Ruth Gledhill has a different timescale: Women set to be bishops within next seven years
and the newspaper also has a leader entitled A broader church
The longer timescale assumes that Parliamentary approval of what General Synod decides could take an additional full year and that the Crown Nominations Commission (here erroneously referred to by its old title) could then take a year to actually make its first female nomination.


Preliminary comment on the Rochester report

The report does not contain any recommendations. It merely sets out all the possible options and lists the pros and cons of each, so that General Synod can decide what if anything to do.

The report will be discussed initially at the 14-18 February 2005 meeting of General Synod in London. No decisions will be made until the 08-12 July 2005 General Synod in York, at which a decision in principle whether to proceed or not will be made.

There will then be an election, and the new General Synod will first meet on 14-16 November 2005. This would be the earliest date at which legislation could be introduced. William Fittall, Secretary General of the General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council, said today that the minimum time to complete the legislative process would be four years, so that 2009 would be the earliest date at which any woman could be chosen as a bishop in the Church of England. The main reason given for the four year period was the need for the legislation, once approved by General Synod, to then be considered by each of the 44 diocesan synods. This part of the process was thought to require 18 months. A majority of the 44 (i.e. at least 23) diocesan synods must approve the legislation (they cannot amend it) by a simple majority of both Clergy and Laity. In the General Synod itself, the Final Approval stage requires a two-thirds majority in each of its three houses.

The main lobbying groups are at this stage arguing for the extreme options from those listed: those in favour of women bishops are pressing for single clause legislation. Those opposed are pressing for a third province approach. The problem about the single clause legislation is that Parliament might well not approve it without provisions for financial compensation for those conscientiously opposed. Concerning the third province approach, the Rochester report lists a large number of practical issues as well as theological difficulties. A detailed draft proposal by FiF for a third province is contained within the recently published book Consecrated Women?

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Reporting of Rochester

First press reports, following the publication today of the report Women Bishops in the Church of England?

Anglicans consider men-only branch by Paul Majendie for Reuters

Synod must decide on women bishops
and Mixed Response to Women Bishops Report by Tim Moynihan for PA News

‘Men-only branch’ plan for Church on BBC News
together with Head to head: Women bishops and Flying bishop backs ‘third province’

Church of England moves a step closer to accepting women bishops by Nicholas Pyke in the Independent

Church considers men-only option by Jackie Dent in The Times

‘Men-only’ Church proposal in bishop’s report in the Telegraph

Press releases by lobbying groups:

WATCH WATCH welcomes Rochester report and backs option for full equality for women bishops

Forward in Faith Forward in Faith reacts to Rochester Report

Inclusive Church Yes to women bishops. No to a third province

Church Society press release not yet on their website so reproduced below the fold here.



Rochester Report on women bishops published

Women Bishops in the Church of England? (GS 1557, the Rochester report) is released today. You can download all 785 kB and 302 pages of it here. There’s also a four-page (and 230 kB) Reader’s Guide

Addition the official Church of England press release about this report can be found here.