Updated again Monday evening
Two British newspaper correspondents have reports this morning:
Daily Telegraph Jonathan Petre is already in Dar es Salaam, and reports Archbishop’s peace talks threatened.
…To the consternation of officials, the conservative primates have set up their own headquarters in the neighbouring Beachcomber hotel, at which they will determine their collective strategy, and they are threatening to snub Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the liberal leader of the Episcopal Church, the American branch of Anglicanism…
…Anglican officials are hoping that divisions between hardliners and moderates will surface within this group over the next two days, allowing Dr Williams to appeal to the middle ground. “Much will depend on whose voices dominate the Global South caucus,” said one.
But a leading conservative, the Primate of Central Africa, Archbishop Bernard Malango, said many of his colleagues would find it “very difficult” to work with Presiding Bishop Schori. He added that the presence of the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, for the first time was also problematic because it had been decided without full consultation. In a warning to Dr Williams, he said: “If people have come in a spirit of give and take, that will happen. But if people have made up their minds to bring certain people here, then it will be difficult.
“I don’t want to see the Church damaged but if some groupings, especially those who are not faithful to the scriptures, decide to do their own thing, then that puts me in a difficult situation…”
Guardian Stephen Bates Archbishop battles to ward off final Anglican split on homosexuality.
…Conservative archbishops, mainly from the developing world, have gathered in Dar es Salaam for a separate two-day conference in advance of a formal meeting on Wednesday to plot tactics and agree a strategy before Rowan Williams arrives tomorrow…
…Archbishops, particularly those from Africa, want the American Church to be thrown out of the Anglican Communion because the church has been supportive of gay relationships, which they see as being in defiance of biblical injunctions.
They are being supported and lobbied at the meeting by English and American conservative, mainly evangelical, factions who also want to overthrow the US church’s liberal leadership and claim it for themselves.
In a further uncompromising sign, the Most Rev Peter Akinola, the primate of Nigeria and leader of the so-called “global south” archbishops opposed to any accommodation with the church’s homosexual members, has told Dr Williams that he objects to the presence of John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, at the meeting…
The local paper in Dar es Salaam, the Daily News reports Gays debate comes to haunt Anglican Church Summit.
A SHOWDOWN on the issue of gay church leaders is shaping up ahead of the Anglican Church Summit starting in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday…
…A number of delegates have already arrived in Dar es Salaam for the Summit expected to come up with a new vision on church solidarity as well addressing divisive tendencies. Several delegates attended Sunday morning service at the St Alban’s Cathedral in the city centre…
And the Global South Anglican has published The Long Road to Full Inheritance: Anglican Communion, Anno Domini 2007 by Michael Poon. Also there is Do you love me? – A Question for our Primates too by Canon AkinTunde Popoola.
Stephen Bates also has a strongly-worded critique of several English bishops at Comment is Free in Blathering bishops. And a leading conservative agrees with him:
…Furthermore Scott-Joynt & Co always seem to intervene just when a big church meeting is in the offing. Martyn Minns, one of the breakaway conservatives in the US Church, told me yesterday: “They always seem to have these thoughts and feel the need to share them just at the worst possible time.”
And he concludes with this:
…The outpourings of the Bishop of Winchester and his colleagues are counter-productive, both from the perspective of changing anyone’s minds and for the reputation of the Church of England, and they also serve to undermine the Archbishop of Canterbury as he strives to keep the worldwide communion together this week in Dar es Salaam.
Furthermore they are deeply divisive within the CofE’s bench of bishops, where Scott-Joynt and Nazir-Ali are both regarded as insufferable by many of their colleagues. What a happy ship it is.
The Toronto Star has Canada could play a key role as divided Anglican bishops meet.
And in case you were wondering where Dar es Salaam is, ACNS has provided a map along with other information.
Jonathan Petre has also blogged about it: Ring of steel around the archbishops.
…The burgeoning bunker mentality can, perhaps, be explained by the palpable anxiety of the organizers that the meeting could be derailed before it has even started by the powerful conservative group of Global South primates, who are determined to seize control of events.
They have set up their own headquarters a hundred yards up the road in the Beachcomber hotel, where they are holding strategy meetings before moving en masse to the White Sands for the official five-day meeting beginning on Thursday, where a bloody showdown is looming.
When I mentioned to one of the conservative primates that there was consternation among Anglican Communion staff about what is effectively an alternative headquarters, he replied: “This isn’t the alternative headquarters. It is THE headquarters.” With that sort of attitude to contend with, Dr Williams will have his work cut out.
David Anderson of the AAC has also reported from Tanzania: News from Tanzania: Primates Already Arriving, Meeting in Dar Es Salaam
The Anglican primates have been arriving in groups, some earlier than others, to attend several meetings scheduled prior to the general Primates’ Meeting. It is anticipated that several primates will not arrive, although that is unclear until the meetings actually start. We have been told that the primate of Wales will not attend due to a long planned sabbatical, and the primate of North India will also be absent.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is arriving somewhat late and will miss some or all of the joint meeting of the primates and Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). With Dr. Williams arriving late, Wales not attending, and a few others understood not to be coming; it may be that the joint meeting consists mainly of the Standing Committee of the ACC and Primate Bernard Malango (Province of Central Africa).
It has been suggested by some that the reason for the poor showing has to do with a lack of timely planning on the part of the organizers. The minutes of the last meeting are said to have not been given to the members in attendance until yesterday, and there is a difference of memory as to what the minutes should actually reflect.
The usual contingent from the news media is present in Dar Es Salaam, including Stephen Bates from London’s Guardian newspaper, the Rev. Canon Chris Sugden for Anglican Mainstream, the Rev. Canon David Anderson for the American Anglican Council’s Encompass publication, and Bishop Martyn Minns and wife Angela Minns for Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) News. Prayer intercessors from the United States led by Rose-Marie Edwards are covering the meetings in prayer, along with other groups off-site. Bishop Bob Duncan (Pittsburgh) is on location, and other familiar faces from both sides of the main issues are expected to arrive momentarily..
The Episcopal Church has joined the Diocese of Virginia in its legal dispute over possession of the property of 11 congregations in which the majority of the members and clergy voted in 2006 and early 2007 to leave the denomination and affiliate with African Anglican bishops.
Lawyers filed a 20-page complaint in the County of Fairfax, Virginia, courts on February 9. The complaint lists the Episcopal Church as the plaintiff and names as defendants the former clergy and vestry members of 11 parishes and missions, as well as trustees who technically hold title to the real property of some of the parishes.
The complaint names the parishes as defendants “because their real and personal property and affairs are currently under the de facto control of individuals who claim the right to sever the link between the parties and the Diocese and the Episcopal Church, to divert the parishes’ real and personal property for their own use in affiliation with another denomination outside the United States, and to exclude the parishes’ faithful Episcopalian members for use and control of that property.”
The clergy and vestry, or vestry committee members in the case of the two missions, are named because they “have left the Episcopal Church, yet continue to exercise control over the real and personal property” of the congregation…
Stand Firm has a 2 Mb PDF file of the legal document here.
Press release from the seceded parishes here.1 Comment
Society of Catholic Priests PRESS RELEASE – for immediate release
12th February 2007
An open letter has been sent today to the Archbishops of Canterbury, York, Wales and Armagh on behalf of an Anglican clergy organisation (The Society of Catholic Priests), which represents over 500 priests, calling on them to refrain from action against The Episcopal Church of the USA at their meeting in Tanzania this week. The letter warns the leaders of the Anglican Communion gathering in Dar es Salaam not to treat the Episcopal Church in the USA as the source of all the problems in the Communion. Instead, the Rev’d Jonathan Clark, who heads up SCP, asks the Primates to recognise that:
fractures within the Communion run not between but through provinces, dioceses and parishes.
Action against the Episcopal Church would only delay a discussion that needs to take place across the whole Anglican Communion. The letter points out that members of SCP would experience action against The Episcopal Church also as a rejection of their belief that issues of sexuality should not be used as doctrinal tests.
The Society of Catholic Priests represents anglo-catholic clergy working in Britain and Ireland as well as other parts of the Communion. The Society focuses on providing mutual support to priests in their spirituality and work of mission. Its position is that ‘the church should ordain to serve as deacons, priests and bishops in the church of God all those whom the church discerns as being called by God to such offices regardless of race, gender, disability or sexual orientation’. This is the first public statement on behalf of the Society on the issues which threaten to divide the Communion.
The Rev’d Richard Jenkins, Director of sister Anglican organisation Affirming Catholicism said:
This letter reflects a real and concern among ordinary clergy that the Anglican leadership isn’t doing enough to value those who in conscience feel that the Church should take a more open attitude to lesbian and gays. Staying together with integrity means learning to value all shades of opinion.
For further information please contact Rev’d Jonathan Clark
/ +44 20 7254 6072 / 07968 845698
1.In 1994 a group of priests from the Southwark Diocese, who felt they could no longer belong the traditional catholic societies for priests, met over a period of six months. The meetings allowed them to reflect on thier theological position and find a way of providing priestly support and formation as well as encouraging Catholic evangelism. From those meetings the Society of Catholic Priests was born.
2.The Society has at the last count 547 members, organized in chapters across England, Wales and Ireland. The Council of SCP is headed by the Rector General, elected by the membership for a three year term. See www.scp.org.uk for more information.
3.The present Rector General, Jonathan Clark, is Rector of St Mary Stoke Newington and St John Brownswood Park in the diocese of London and the London Borough of Hackney (see www.stmaryn16.org for more information on St Mary’s). He also represents the diocese of London on the Church of England’s General Synod.4 Comments
Ruth Gledhill contributed this morning to the BBC radio programme Sunday. She has posted the full text of her essay on her blog, headed The Anglican Communion’s ‘Via Dolorosa’. Audio now available here (about 3 minutes).
The bottom line:
…Sometimes I just wish the Anglican hierarchy could step back and consider for a minute how all this looks to the outside world.
To friends of mine in journalism and at the school gates, it looks no better than the politics of the playground. They laugh about it, or shake their heads with incomprehension. Yet these are not children but Anglican bishops and archbishops we are talking about. Is it any wonder that secularism is on the march in Britain today?”
In the New York Times Laurie Goodstein profiled Bishop Katharine: New Episcopal Leader Braces for Gay-Rights Test:
…In an interview in her office last week, Bishop Jefferts Schori said the conflict was more about “biblical interpretation” than about homosexuality.
“We have had gay bishops and gay clergy for millennia,” she said. “The willingness to be open about that is more recent.”
She said that what she wanted to convey to her fellow primates was that despite the highly-publicized departure of some congregations (a spokesman said 45 of 7,400 have left and affiliated with provinces overseas), the Episcopal Church has the support of most members, who are engaged in worship and mission work, and not fixated on this controversy.
“A number of the primates have perhaps inaccurate ideas about the context of this church. They hear from the voices quite loudly that this church is going to hell in a handbasket,” she said. “The folks who are unhappy represent a small percentage of the whole, but they are quite loud…”
Asked how she would respond if primates walked out on her, she said, “Life is too short to get too flustered.”
The Observer carries a report by Jamie Doward Last bid to stop Anglican split. Too bad nobody told Doward that Archbishop Morgan won’t be at the meeting. But it contains the following:
According to the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM), some 100 bishops worldwide are homosexual, though many are not active.
And from Pittsburgh, Lionel Deimel has a detailed reflection, High Anxiety in Pittsburgh.
Anxiety is high in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, and the emotion probably cuts across any divisions in the diocese one might identify. The cause is the upcoming meeting of the Anglican Communion primates in Tanzania and its possible aftermath. What is in store for the Diocese of Pittsburgh and, particularly, for the loyal Episcopalians who are living within its boundaries?…
According to Jim Naughton:
“Word comes from Tanzania that Bishop Martyn Minns of CANA, Canon Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream and Father David Anderson of the American Anglican Council are already in Dar es Salaam. I wonder if they are aware that their presence in Tanzania, like their presence in Northern Ireland, convey to the rest of the world that they don’t trust Peter Akinola, Bernard Malango, Gregory Venables et. al. to manage on their own?”
Episcopal News Service has recorded a video interview with Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori which discusses her recent visit to the Episcopal Church of Cuba.
For background on this visit, see In Cuba, Presiding Bishop affirms ‘sea of possibilities’ for ending oppression and Cubans hail appointment of woman bishop.
The interview, conducted by Jan Nunley, on February 8 in New York, is linked here. It is about 11.5 minutes long.7 Comments
The New York Times has Inviting Africa’s Anglicans to Gather Under a Bigger Tent by Sharon LaFraniere. It is an interview with Njongonkulu Ndungane.
This Reuters report appeared in the Canadian National Post Anglican split goes far deeper than gay dispute.
And a report by Pat Ashworth last week Ardour v. order on both sides also dealt with the forthcoming primates meeting.16 Comments
Episcopal News Service reports Presiding Bishop brings message of ‘Shalom’ to Episcopal Urban Caucus conference.
The Episcopal Urban Caucus website is here.
This was also reported in the Raleigh, North Carolina newspaper the News & Observer, which headlined the story Episcopal leader backs gay equality.
There is a TV interview with Bishop Katharine linked from here. It is preceded by an interview with Lord Carey. The first interview is about 12.5 minutes. The second one is about 8 minutes.
Also, Bishop Katharine’s latest contribution to Episcopal Life is reproduced here: Three mission questions.5 Comments
The latest letter from Giles Goddard starts here. (I’m sure it will be on Fulcrum as well, quite soon.)11 Comments
InclusiveChurch is appealing for donations. The campaign, launched last month, is named A Thousand Hundreds.
HOW YOU CAN HELP US SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
It was, in the end, two American parishes in Virginia going over from the Anglican Communion to the Archbishop of Nigeria that did it. And as a result, the broad, worldwide Anglican organization known as InclusiveChurch is doing two things: making a stand, and starting an appeal.
We know we don’t have much time.
The decision for everyone to go their separate ways could be taken at the Lambeth Conference next year. Meetings leading up to it start
You can help, whether you’re not a regular churchgoer or not, by contributing to our A Thousand Hundreds campaign. We’re looking for a thousand donations of a hundred pounds.
There are full details of this appeal on the IC website.
The Church Times reported the launch, see ‘Broad centre’ group launches campaign by Rachel Harden.7 Comments
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Gays, marriage and Rowan Williams.
Background: Rowan Williams remarks at launch of National Marriage Week. Andrew Brown’s observations on this.
Stephen Plant writes in The Times about Charles Wesley’s hymns: Churches must ask why the English Hymnal is out of tune.
Martyn Percy writes in the Guardian’s Face to Faith column that Anglican dioceses should be more expressive of their catholic identity.
…Bishops have a vital role here in presiding over diversity while maintaining unity. This is why the key to some of the current divisive Anglican dilemmas may lie in dioceses and provinces becoming more expressive of their catholic identity, and celebrating their coherence amid their diversity. A diocese is a part of a larger, organic whole – a branch of the vine. Therefore, exercising its freedom and expressing its particularity is less important than maintaining its connectedness. Naturally, such restraint need not impose limits on diversity. It merely asks that the consequences of exercising one’s freedom be more fully weighed.
As the Anglican primates meet next week in Tanzania, there will be much to contemplate. How to hold together amid tense, even bitter diversity. How to be one, yet many. How to be faithfully catholic, yet authentically local. In all of this, an ethic of shared restraint – borne out of a deep catholicity – may have much to offer the Anglican communion. Without this, Anglicans risk being painfully lost in the issues that beset the church – unable to see the wood for the trees. Or perhaps, as Jesus might have said, unable to see the vine for the branches.
In the Tablet Tina Beattie asks Has liberation theology had its day?
In the Church Times Giles Fraser explains: This is what is wrong with rights.
Earlier in the week, Andrew Brown wrote on Comment is free about Shuttered windows to the soul.3 Comments
Today, the Church Times had this report by Rachel Harden Primates head into a storm in Dar es Salaam.
From the Bahama Journal there was a report by Stephen Gay [sic] headlined Anglican Church To Make Decision On Homosexuality Issue which quotes Archbishop Drexel Gomez’s opinions.
Religion News Service issued Anglican, Episcopal Leaders Head to Summit in Africa By Daniel Burke.
Episcopal News Service issued Tanzania’s Anglican Church to host Communion’s Primates near ‘Abode of Peace’ by Matthew Davies.
Addition ENS also has New Primates elected for Hong Kong, Middle East.
Duke University published the text of an address by Lord Carey which discusses at length the background to this meeting.
Jim Naughton has published some thoughts about what may happen, On feeling unprepared.33 Comments
The Tablet has an article by Conor Gearty which analyses the RC Church’s handling of the recent adoption agencies row.
Misunderstanding the depth of post-socialist commitment to equality and diversity, especially that of sexual orientation, was a serious mistake in the Church’s handling of the gay adoption issue, according to a leading Catholic human-rights lawyer
There is also an editorial opinion article A welcome modest concession.
The key subtext to the recent row over the right of Catholic adoption agencies to discriminate against homosexuals was the widespread public perception that the Catholic Church is a homophobic institution – a position reinforced by gay lobby groups, which regard the Church’s defeat over the adoption issue as a singular triumph over a powerful enemy…
The Bishop of Winchester Michael Scott-Joynt has expressed his views in the Church of England Newspaper. They are reported by Anglican Mainstream here. This needs to be read in full, but contains several statements that are stronger than most of what Tom Wright has said. Some samples:
…Perhaps most controversially, the Primate of the Episcopal Church might be seated as a full member of the Meeting — and I am in no doubt that this would destroy the authority in the Communion, and in the eyes of our Ecumenical partners, of the Windsor Report…
…Many parishes, among them most of the largest in the church, have left TEC and sought episcopal oversight from eight or nine other Provinces…
…Thousands of families and individuals have left TEC, not only on account of the General Convention’s decisions about sexual behaviour but also because they find that TEC — and its new Presiding Bishop (PB) Katherine Jefferts Schori — are increasingly departing from basic Christian belief in the Lordship and Uniqueness of Christ…
…I hope that the ABC and at least a clear majority of his colleagues will recognise and support the Windsor-compliant bishops and dioceses of the TEC as a “college” of bishops, still formally within TEC but commissioned by the Primates both to hold together their own life (including by appropriate means that of the three Forward in Faith dioceses currently threatened with extinction by TEC) and to offer episcopal ministry to “Windsor-compliant” parishes in Dioceses whose bishops are unsympathetic to them…
Updated Saturday 10 Feb
First, Reuters today published this story: Nigeria’s Akinola is driving force in Anglican world.
The worldwide Anglican Communion is officially led by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the Church of England, but he’s facing growing competition these days from Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria.
A staunch defender of traditional Christianity, the energetic Akinola, 63, leads a movement of “Global South” churches in Africa, Asia and Latin America that has brought the 77-million-strong Communion to the brink of schism…
Second, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has published this: A COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE END OF THE SPECIAL ONE-DAY GENERAL SYNOD OF THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA (ANGLICAN COMMUNION) HELD AT AT ST. PAUL’S CHURCH, DENDO ROAD, SOKOTO ON WEDNESDAY 7TH, FEBRUARY, 2007. It covers various subjects but includes the following:
The forthcoming Primates’ meeting
The Synod is pleased to hear that the Primate of All Nigeria would be taking part in the meeting of Primates of the Anglican Communion that will hold in Dar es Salaam, February 14th – 20th, 2007. While commending him, the Primate, for his principled stand on the thorny issues plaguing the Communion for some time the Synod is prayerfully looking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in this particular meeting to the end that Biblical authority will be upheld. The Synod, while still working towards the unity of the Anglican Communion, strongly believes that such unity must be rooted in Biblical orthodoxy.
The 2008 Lambeth Conference
The Synod reaffirms its earlier resolutions on the 2008 Lambeth Conference and stands firmly on the recommendations of the document, “The Road to Lambeth,” as a condition for our participation in this gathering.
Our brethren in CANA
The Synod welcomed the report from the Bishop of CANA (Convocation of Anglicans in North America) and the increasing number of congregations and clergy who are now part of this important missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). We welcome them as full and constituent members of our Anglican Communion family. We rejoice in their faithful witness during these turbulent times. We are saddened to hear that the profound division in the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia has now led to the unholy situation where an Episcopal Bishop has initiated costly legal action against churches whose only offence is seeking to remain true to the “faith once for all delivered to the saints.” We assure them that we stand with them and will continue to uphold them with our prayers…
and concludes with:
Vote of Confidence
The Synod notes with great delight the visionary, purposeful and dedicated leadership given by our Primate, the Most Reverend Peter J. Akinola. Worthy of special note is his unflinching resolve to uphold the authority of the Word of God against onslaughts from modern apostles of false doctrines. The Synod assures him of our prayers and enthusiastic support.
The Most Revd. Peter J. Akinola, DD, CON
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria
The document mentioned above The Road to Lambeth is linked to from here.
Third, there is this article in Time magazine: Blunt Bishop. It starts this way:
The most Rev. Peter Akinola of Nigeria was in New York City late in January making one of his increasingly frequent forays into what he once would have considered enemy territory. Only journalists from religious publications were invited to cover the occasion, at Manhattan’s swank Metropolitan Club—which probably suited the Archbishop, who has become wary of the mainstream press since a December New York Times story that advisers feel wrongly portrayed him as a homophobe. But a friend of the Nigerian primate’s told TIME that Akinola received a standing ovation. The actual guest of honor was a Christian missionary accused under Australia’s anti—religious vilification laws of making anti-Muslim statements. (He appealed, and the case was sent back to trial court.) But Akinola, wearing a gray Western suit over his usual purple shirt, clerical collar and 3-in. wooden cross, was the man most of the religiously conservative attendees had come to see. In cadences that approached preaching, he commended the missionary for what Akinola called his faith and courage at a crucial moment for the Gospel. He cited challenges to Christianity in Australia, Africa and even in England and quoted a biblical verse recounting God’s need for a hero in a debauched land, to “stand in the gap.”
The image could be described as unintentionally double-edged. To a significant number of critics, far from bridging a gap, Akinola, 63, is actively involved in widening one. As primate to 17 million Nigerian Anglicans and head of an African bishops’ group with a total flock of 44 million, he is one of the most influential leaders in the Anglican Communion, the global 78 million— member confederation that includes the 2.2 million congregants in the Episcopal Church (U.S.A.). Indeed, he is the highest-profile figure in the southward shift of Christianity as a whole. Yet he may exercise that influence by helping pull his communion apart, largely over the issue of the church’s stance on homosexuality…
Update There is a further official press release from Nigeria, SOKOTO SURPRISE FOR ANGLICAN LEADERS: “Let them hit me first”, with pictures.24 Comments
Recently Stand Firm interviewed Kendall Harmon and this is viewable at Kendall Harmon Advises – Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Greg Griffiths published his own opinions in My Predictions. My Warnings. My Call to You.
At the same address, Matt Kennedy has
(so far) written The Case For Discipline part 1: The Call to Communion and The Case For Discipline Part 2: A Petulant Response. A third instalment expected. The Case For Discipline Part 3: Rejecting the Call.
Earlier he wrote Tanzania: Expectations, Promises, and the Danger of Impotence and Sarah Hey wrote Tanzania Predictions.
Today, the Church of England Newspaper and Fulcrum publish To Cleave or To Cleave? The Primates’ Meeting in Tanzania by Graham Kings.
…In general terms, it seems to me that there are not two groups of ‘Anglicans’ in the USA (ie liberals and conservatives on the issue of sexuality), nor three (as some have suggested), but at least five – and it may be better to use the more fluid word ‘streams’ than groups…
First, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued this reflection “For the People of the Episcopal Church”: In this season: Christ in the stranger’s guise. In part it reads:
As the primates of the Anglican Communion prepare to gather next week in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I ask your prayers for all of us, and for our time together. I especially ask you to remember the mission that is our reason for being as the Anglican Communion — God’s mission to heal this broken world. The primates gather for fellowship, study, and conversation at these meetings, begun less than thirty years ago. The ability to know each other and understand our various contexts is the foundation of shared mission. We cannot easily be partners with strangers.
That meeting ends just as Lent begins, and as we approach this season, I would suggest three particularly appropriate attitudes. Traditionally the season has been one in which candidates prepared for baptism through prayer, fasting, and acts of mercy. This year, we might all constructively pray for greater awareness and understanding of the strangers around us, particularly those strangers whom we are not yet ready or able to call friends. That awareness can only come with our own greater investment in discovering the image of God in those strangers. It will require an attitude of humility, recognizing that we can not possibly know the fullness of God if we are unable to recognize his hand at work in unlikely persons or contexts. We might constructively fast from a desire to make assumptions about the motives of those strangers not yet become friends. And finally, we might constructively focus our passions on those in whom Christ is most evident — the suffering, those on the margins, the forgotten, ignored, and overlooked of our world. And as we seek to serve that suffering servant made evident in our midst, we might reflect on what Jesus himself called us — friends (John 15:15)…
Second the American newspaper USA Today carried this interview with Bishop Katharine recently:Episcopal church’s new dawn. Some quotes from it:
“…It’s no longer the social norm to be a Christian,” Jefferts Schori says. Her answer isn’t to ramp up on orthodoxy but to reach out to all ages and cultures with Christlike social action.
Critics say she equivocates on essential doctrine — the necessity for atonement and the exclusivity of salvation through Christ. They cite interviews in which she has said living like Jesus in this world was a more urgent task than worrying about the next world.
“It’s not my job to pick” who is saved. “It’s God’s job,” she tells USA TODAY.
Yes, sin “is pervasive, part of human nature,” but “it’s not the centerpiece of the Christian message. If we spend our time talking about sin and depravity, it is all we see in the world,” she says…
…Indeed, asked about her critics, Jefferts Schori doesn’t blink. She leans in, drops her voice even lower and cuts to the chase.
She sees two strands of faith: One is “most concerned with atonement, that Jesus died for our sins and our most important task is to repent.” But the other is “the more gracious strand,” says the bishop who dresses like a sunrise.
“It is to talk about life, to claim the joy and the blessings for good that it offers, to look forward.
“God became human in order that we may become divine. That’s our task.”
Reactions in the blogosphere to Tom Wright’s recent interview have been strong. Here are some links:
Anglican Scotist Anglicanism’s Conceptual Space: A Sketch, Part II (Wright’s Fallacy)
daily episcopalian N. T. Wright chooses sides
Caught by the Light “Doctrinal Indifferentism”
Raspberry Rabbit Of course there are plenty of choices to be made
Fr Jake Durham Lobs Charges in the 11th Hour, Again
Preludium “Doctrinal Indifferentism”: Bishop Tom goes for the full body blow, and misses.
Episcopal Chaplain at the Bedside Perhaps Wright Is Not Wrong; Just Misinformed
Vocatio! – Living into Call What Church Will we Choose and will we Reform it?
On Thursday 1 March General Synod will debate a diocesan synod motion from Lichfield on Media Standards. There are two background papers, one from the diocese and one from the Archbishops’ Council Communications Office.
The motion from the diocese is:
‘That this Synod ask Her Majesty’s Government to undertake an enquiry to examine the notion that standards of human behaviour are being fatally eroded by constant subjection to suggestions and images via the media promoting the exploitation of other human beings.’
The Bishop of Manchester (the Right Revd Nigel McCulloch) has already submitted this amendment:
‘Leave out all words after “this Synod” and insert the words:
“(a) welcome the media’s contribution to an open and informed society, significantly influencing people’s awareness of themselves, each other and the world;
(b) affirm the Church’s support for the highest media standards and express its concerns at the current tendency to exploit the humiliation of human beings for public entertainment;
(c) call on individual Christians to contribute positively to the debate about standards in the media; and
(d) call on Her Majesty’s Government to note this Synod’s concerns.”.’
Ruth Gledhill has an exclusive interview with the Bishop of Durham Tom Wright. You can read it on her blog under the headline Primates: Schismatics to be “pruned from the branch”.
…He was quite unequivocal. He said too many in TEC are guilty of “doctrinal indifferentism.” The Covenant Design Group in Nassau successfully produced a good document, he said. The Primates have little choice but to follow Windsor at the meeting next week. And if Windsor is followed, then Gene Robinson and those who consecrated him should voluntarily absent themselves from the councils of the Communion, including the Lambeth Conference, unless they express regret in the terms set out in Windsor. Only a Windsor-rooted response in Tanzania can save the Communion from schism. “Almost everybody involved with this question recognises that there is no way forward from here without pain. It is painful for everybody. There are not going to be winners and losers. There are going to be losers category one, two, three, four and five…”
“…The question is, is there any solution that a solid central ground will assemble around? My view is that it would be a solution based on the Windsor Report and what has flowed from it. It is the only thing on the table. If we are going to scrap that we would have to go back three years to start all over again. The solution would consist of the Primates accepting what the Covenant Drafting Group did in Nassau. The word is they made good progress at that meeting. I assume that means they will have something to put before the Primates. Then the question is how far that can be taken and how soon. I assume the immediate plan is to take it to Lambeth 2008. There is also the question of what the provinces will say about it.
“The more sharp-edged question is who is seen to be speaking for the American evangelicals. Rowan has invited to Dar Es Salaam two of the leading Windsor bishops, the ones holding the ground around the Windsor report, who are not secceding and going to Nigeria but who are not going to waver in the terms that Ecusa got it wrong and it is still getting it wrong and needs to be called to order. The question is how that is going to be resolved in the first few days of the meeting. I do not have a game plan on how that is going to work. Rowan is head and shoulders above all of them in terms of his wisdom and ability. He listens extremely carefully to everybody and then goes away and prays about it. He is never an uncritical listener. There is noone who Rowan will allow to tell him what to do. He will think and pray through everything that he hears. His commitment is to work for the unity of the Church and the advancement of the Gospel. Those who want to go and do their own thing do not like it when the Archbishop of Canterbury says the unity of the Church means you cannot…”
“…If the Anglican Communion, and particularly the American church and others like it, can be renewed according to the pattern of the Windsor Report, which is of course according to the pattern of Scripture, then those who are looking to foreign jurisdictions will find a way to come back into the fold. Then there would be a sigh of relief all round. In American there are dozens of breakaway bits and pieces, it is confusing and very messy. It is very American. But it is very unhelpful to the cause of the Church and the Gospel. As for what would happen to Gene Robinson? Pass. I really do not think there is a good answer to that one. The Windsor Report quotes the Archbishop of Canterbury himself saying in 2003 that if Robinson were in most other provinces of the Anglican Communion, he certainly could not be a bishop. As a priest he would be under discipline because of what has happened in terms of his marriage and partnership. In most provinces he could not have been a bishop. Therefore to ask other provinces to come to Lambeth and accept Gene Robinson as one of their number is a very big ask…”
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