Thinking Anglicans

fracas in Lake Malawi

Three recent reports from the Malawi press:

Daily Times Hooligans attack Anglican Church by Deborah Nyangulu

Nation Anglicans fight in church by Francis Tayanjah-Phiri

Nation 10 arrested in Anglican fracas by Willie Zingani


Dallas joins in

Updated Friday
A statement from the standing committee now appears on the diocesan website.

The Diocese of Dallas has joined the list of ECUSA dioceses seeking “alternative primatial oversight”, according to the Associated Press in this report yesterday: Dallas’ Episcopal diocese joins others in bishop rift.

The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas on Wednesday joined a growing rejection of the church’s newly elected bishop because she supports same-sex relationships.

Bishop James M. Stanton, the head of Dallas’ diocese and its 40,000 members, wrote a letter asking Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams for a “direct pastoral relationship” from overseas instead of being under the American church and its new leader.

The diocesan website does not yet contain anything about this though. Neither does the personal website of the bishop, James Stanton. Since the report appeared in the Dallas Morning News it can’t have escaped the attention of Dallasites. So in the absence of any statement to the contrary, I presume it is true.

Update titusonenine has this press release also.

Update And also this statement from the Standing Committee.


Synod Questions

The questions to be answered at this month’s sessions of General Synod have been published. You can download them as an rtf file or read them online. They are scheduled to be answered on Friday 7 July between 8.30 and 10.00 pm.

We have already published the outline agenda, and links to other Synod papers.


more Guardian comment

Harold Meyerson has written Co-dependence day. The right wing of American Episcopalianism wants the Archbishop of Canterbury to save it from its crazy modernist brethren.

Stephen Bates has written Things fall apart. Rowan Williams’s plea to the Anglican communion to hold together appears to have fallen on deaf ears.


Wednesday's news

First, we apologise for the difficulties some of you have had accessing TA recently. The same difficulties have delayed publication of more news items. We hope they will be resolved soon.

Now, here are two report from ABC Radio in Australia. First:
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of Sydney on the state of Anglican Communion

Concerning what Peter Jensen says here about Archbishop Akinola, for a full set of links to what Peter Akinola really said (or not) go here.

And second:
UK Guardian journalist Andrew Brown on the state of Anglican Communion
As a footnote to that, here’s a comment from Andrew’s blog this morning.


latest from the Church of Nigeria

(News reports are appearing today, Tuesday, about Monday’s Nigerian story.)

Two more reports have now been posted on the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) website:

First, a Communique from the Episcopal Synod of 27-28 June.

Second, a report from the First National Anglican Conference on WELFARE OF THE NATION: THE ROLE OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION IN NATION BUILDING.

Some quotes from the first document:


Synod notes with satisfaction the efforts of the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), His Grace, The Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, in giving the Church of Nigeria, CAPA and Global South a purposeful and effective leadership. It further expresses its approval of his actions and pronouncements against errors of revisionist ideologies. With much delight and enthusiasm, Synod received his citing by TIMES Magazine as one of the 100 persons that shaped the World in 2005, and encouraged him not to relent in his efforts in exercising his ministry.


Synod is satisfied with the move by the Global South to continue with its veritable project of defending the faith committed to us against present onslaught from ECUSA, Canada, England and their allies. The need therefore, to redefine and/or re-determine those who are truly Anglicans becomes urgent, imperative and compelling. Synod therefore empowers the leadership of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) to give assent to the Anglican Covenant.


The Lambeth Conference which is one of the accepted organs of unity in the Anglican Communion is due for another meeting in 2008. the Synod, after reviewing some recent major events in the Communion, especially the effects of the ‘revisionists’ theology’, which is now making wave in America, Canada and England, observed with dismay the inability of the Church in the afore­mentioned areas to see reason for repentance from the harm and stress they have caused this communion since 1988 culminating in the consecration of Gene Robinson, a practicing homosexual in 2003 as a bishop in ECUSA. Synod also regrets the inability of the See of Canterbury to prevent further impairment of the unity of the Church. It therefore, believes strongly that the moral justification for the proposed Lambeth Conference of 2008 is questionable in view of the fact that by promoting teachings and practices that are alien and inimical to the historic formularies of the Church, the Bishops of ECUSA, Canada and parts of Britain have abandoned the Biblical faith of our fathers.


Synod underlines the need for maintaining the age-long tradition of a ten-yearly Conference of Bishops in the Anglican Communion for discussing issues affecting the Church. It therefore calls on the leadership of the Global South and Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) to do everything necessary to put in place a Conference of all Anglican Bishops to hold in 2008 should all efforts to get the apostles of ‘revisionist agenda’ to repent and retrace their steps fail.

The second document includes the following points, among numerous others:

At the end of the conference it was resolved that:

11. [That the church should] Learn to speak out when human rights are subverted and violated in the nation and against societal ills that hamper true nation-building, as well as participate in partisan politics.

And also this:

7. On marriage, the conference agreed that marriage between man and woman is the official position of the Anglican Communion, and confirmed by its laws, and condemned in its entirety homosexuality and same sex marriage.


Divine divisions

Today’s Guardian carries yet another piece about the Anglican Communion. This time it is editorial opinion, and is entitled Divine divisions.

The concluding part:

…Lambeth’s gamble is that, faced with the enormity of allowing the next 10 years to be dominated not by ministry but by schism, with all that implies by way of painful, wasteful rows and expensive lawyers, the US conservatives will have to face up to the fact that they cannot sustain themselves apart. With the prospect of meaningful negotiation, the liberals will back off too. At that point the two sides may finally begin to engage with one another, and try seriously to find a common way through their difficulties. If the US church calms down (the Canadians are cited as the model of temperate conduct), there is a chance at least for a world-wide lowering of the temperature. But it could all too easily go the other way. Here, the Church of England is already dangerously divided and open to ideas of parallel jurisdictions. Its traditionalists certainly appear ready to seize the opportunity, in tandem with the African churches and other conservatives, of capturing the heart of Anglicanism. It’s not surprising, then that liberals are already talking of making common cause with the North American churches and warning that division could sever the church from the very top down to the humblest parish.

The best hope for avoiding the schism of which Dr Williams warned lies in redefining the argument. Lambeth would like the rival factions to understand that the row between two fundamentally opposing points of view is superficial. What happens next is not about gay bishops, nor same-sex weddings, nor polygamy. Rather it is about the church’s architecture and the degree of autonomy enjoyed by its constituent parts. Faced with the terrifying idea of first establishing and then policing the doctrinal purity for the core churches implicit in the twin-track approach, the rival factions are being challenged to stop it happening. In the end, though, Dr Williams will have to choose between unity – and bigotry.


Butler-Coekin letter

A very belated posting. For previous posting on this topic see here.

The Diocese of Southwark website has Bishop’s letter re Rev Richard Coekin as a PDF file. The letter is dated 15 June. The full text is below the fold.



items from around the world

The Washington Post has awoken to the story on its doorstep, in Episcopal Protest of Top Bishop Increases by Alan Cooperman.

The Witness has an article by Bishop Barbara Harris She Will Not Be Alone.

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh has issued a press release Pittsburgh Action Called Divisive:

… “This request is divisive, yet without substance,” said PEP President Joan R. Gundersen, “since our primate, the Presiding Bishop, has virtually no power and exercises no ‘oversight’ over dioceses and their bishops. It is an irresponsible attempt to create a media event, without regard to the genuine harm this does to parishes in the diocese, to The Episcopal Church, and to the Anglican Communion. It represents a premature judgment of our Presiding Bishop-elect, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, of Nevada. The move by the Standing Committee has brought distress to Episcopalians committed to The Episcopal Church, as parishioners fear the organizational estrangement being sought by their bishop. It stirs up division and anxiety in the many parishes that are divided in their response to the recent church controversies and to the course of action being pursued by Bishop Duncan.

The alleged withdrawal of the diocese from Province III is even more disingenuous. Not only does the diocese already have little involvement in provincial affairs, but the Bishop of Pittsburgh well knows that the creation of provinces and the assignment of dioceses to provinces can only be done by canon of the General Convention. It would not be unprecedented for a diocese to ignore its province, but neither the Standing Committee nor the Convention of the diocese can remove the diocese from Province III; only General Convention can do that, and not before 2009. Creating a tenth province, as suggested by the resolution, likewise, can only be accomplished by General Convention. “A province of Network dioceses would be a pastoral disaster,” Gundersen suggested. “At least 13 parishes in this diocese have declined to be part of the Network and declared a commitment to The Episcopal Church. Despite assurances from the Standing Committee, these parishes, and similar parishes in other dioceses, either will be abandoned or forced into a being part of the Network against their will.”…

Neil Alexander has issued A statement from the Bishop of Atlanta in response to the recent reflections of the Archbishop of Canterbury on the future of the Anglican Communion.

Roger Herft Archbishop of Perth in Western Australia has written an article in the Sydney Morning News entitled Love and generosity should guide fractured Anglican Church. This deserves careful reading.

Archbishop Andrew Hutchison of Canada preached this Sermon at Southwark Cathedral last week.


items from Nigeria

Updated again Tuesday

Richard Ostling of the Associated Press has written this report on the first item below: African Branch Criticizes Anglican Plan.

Both the Telegraph and the BBC have now caught up with Monday’s story. So has Reuters.

Tuesday’s Nigerian story is here.

First the Nigerian House of Bishops has issued this response to Rowan Williams: Re: THE CHALLENGE AND HOPE OF BEING ANGLICAN TODAY. It deserves to be read in full.

Second this newspaper headline has appeared in The Tide : Anglican communion to restore Nigeria’s glory. This of course refers not to the “Anglican Communion” but rather to the “Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)” which is the name by which the Anglican Church of Nigeria is known locally. For background on the conference being held, see here and also the full text of the press briefing. For other news reports, see here, and also here.


Sunday newspapers

The Sunday Telegraph interviewed Christina Rees, Coming very soon… women bishops.

The same paper had a report by Jonathan Wynne-Jones headlined Liberals may split from Canterbury over homosexuals.

Both the BBC and the Independent report on Ben Bradshaw’s criticism of the Church of England.

Christopher Morgan in the Sunday Times reports that St Alban is holier than St George.
What Rowan Williams actually said about St Alban can be found here. Other pictures of the occasion can be found here and here.


BBC Sunday interviews Goddard and Sugden

The BBC’s radio programme Sunday considered theArchbishop of Canterbury’s recent Reflection. Chris Sugden and Giles Goddard are interviewed by Jane Little. Starts here ( about 7.5 minutes). Better permalink here.


opinion columns

The Times has Stephen Plant writing on If faiths are to parley they first have to get into each other’s good books, and also Conal Gregory writes about the York Mystery Plays in A marvellous quarry of medieval devotion.

Face to Faith in the Guardian is by Shaunaka Rishi Das and is about Hinduism.

The Guardian also has some letters to the editor, also here. There were more letters in The Times too.

Last week, the Church Times carried an extract from the Gore Lecture given by Peter Selby. The full text of the lecture is on the Westminster Abbey website. The title was: Structures of Disdain – and how they might be redeemed.


other US reports on ECUSA

Updated Sunday

For Northern Virginia see article below this one.

Reuters Revolt under way within Episcopal church

Associated Press Episcopal Rift Over Gay Bishops Widens

Religion News Service via Beliefnet Daniel Burke Episcopal Schism Heating Up
and, via Charlotte Observer (North Carolina) Fred Leeson ‘A woman for her time

New York Times Laurie Goodstein Episcopalians Shaken by Division in Church

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steve Levin Fissures remain after Episcopal Church convention
Update Sunday I missed the accompanying editorial opinion: Anglican anguish / The new bishop has her work cut out for her

Lakeland Ledger (Florida) Cary McMullen Toward a Two-Tier Episcopal Church

Oregonian Nancy Haught Episcopalians’ new U.S. head readies herself

Grand Rapids Press (Michigan) Charles Honey Episcopalians struggle over issues of homosexuality


Northern Virginia

Updated Saturday
A new report has now appeared at the Washington Times Virginia Episcopal bishop slams Nigerian appointment. This includes the following:

“This is not a welcome development,” said Jonathan Jennings, spokesman for Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, about Wednesday’s election of Canon Martyn Minns of Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax as bishop for the Anglican province of Nigeria.

“It’s neither timely nor constructive,” he said. “It further complicates an already complex situation.”

And the Episcopal News Service published Virginia bishop calls Nigerian election an ‘affront’.

Richmond Times-Dispatch Episcopal official objects to rector also serving as bishop

The first Washington Times story about this was Anglicans select Fairfax rector as bishop on 28 June.

Forward in Faith North America has welcomed the development nevertheless, see FiF NA welcomes the election as bishop of Canon Martyn Minns.
Friday’s article:
There seems to be confusion and misinformation about what is happening there. Yesterday, I linked to a story in the Washington Times (which for a while was removed from that website but has now been republished with a correction notice) and there was nothing at all in the Washington Post.

Some interesting discussion about this confusion is here. And continues here.

According to this letter on the Diocese of Virginia website, Bishop Peter Lee writes to the Diocese of Virginia, several things in that story are not true:

In a story in today’s Washington Times newspaper (June 29, 2006), reporting on the election by the Nigerian Episcopal Synod of the Rev. Canon Martyn Minns as a bishop of the Church of Nigeria, it is asserted that Truro Church, Fairfax and The Falls Church, Falls Church have informed me that they plan to leave the Diocese.

I have had no such conversation with either church. In fact, I received a call today from the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, to apologize for the assertion in the story and to assure me that there is no such plan on the part of The Falls Church. I also received today an e-mail from the Rev. Martyn Minns assuring me that no such decision had been made at Truro.

The election of the Rev. Martyn Minns as a Bishop of the Church of Nigeria with oversight of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America is an affront to the traditional, orthodox understanding of Anglican Provincial Autonomy. Archbishop Akinola acknowledges as much in his letter to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. How that situation resolves itself remains to be seen. However, the request by Archbishop Akinola that Martyn be allowed to continue as rector of an Episcopal congregation while also serving as a Nigerian Bishop seems to me, at this point, to be impossible. I raised this issue with Martyn when he and I spoke yesterday.

Here are links to the websites of the two churches:

The Falls Church:

The Washington Times has reported that our church has informed our Bishop that we are leaving the Diocese of Virginia and leaving the Episcopal Church. This certainly is not true and misrepresents where we are as a congregation. It is true that we think an extended period of study, prayer, and deliberation about how we are to respond to the serious rift in our denomination is wise and we are hoping to engage in such a time this fall. The thoughtful booklet (“Can Two Walk Together, Except They Be Agreed?”) that our vestry recently prepared and sent to the congregation analyzing our current situation is the most up to date information we have produced. It gives a clear sense of the issues we are facing. There are extra copies available in the church.

Truro Church:

On Wednesday, the Church of Nigeria’s House of Bishops selected me as their missionary bishop for the Convocation for Anglicans in North America (CANA). I am truly humbled by this honor.

CANA was created by the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) as a mission to meet the needs of Anglican Nigerians in the wake of the divisive actions of the Episcopal Church USA at its last triennial General Convention in 2003. In this role of missionary bishop I have been called upon to provide oversight to the pastors of CANA congregations.

What does this mean for Truro? It most certainly does NOT mean that Truro will be left without a rector. I’m not going anywhere. The vestry has endorsed my continuing as Truro’s rector until the rector search committee completes its job and a new rector has been selected.

By the way, don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers. Thursday’s headline in the Washington Times was terribly wrong. The Truro congregation has not gone through its discernment process and so no decision has been made about our future plans. We are struggling to find a way to remain faithful Anglicans during these turbulent times in the Episcopal Church.

I look forward to seeing you in worship this weekend and at one of our previously scheduled parish meetings on Sunday: Rector’s Forum (9:30 a.m. in the Chapel) or the Parish Meeting (12:00 p.m. noon in the Main Sanctuary).
As always, your brother in Christ,

More about the position of The Falls Church here.