Thinking Anglicans

Nigerian chaplaincy revisited

Thinking Anglicans first wrote about this topic back on 16 August 2006. Since then, I have written further to various CANA officials but I have never had any response from anyone.
The “About CANA” page has moved since last year, and is now to be found here. The second link to “Archbishop Peter Akinola himself says this elsewhere on the site” has now moved here.

Mark Harris returned to the subject yesterday in CANA and inventive storytelling. He writes:

I was surprised to read the following on the Convocation of Anglicans in North America website, on the page titled, “What is CANA”:

“ECUSA proved over and over again that it was unwilling to respect the faith of Anglican Nigerians by its divisive actions. One of these actions was that ECUSA unilaterally sacked the former Nigerian chaplain appointed to care for Anglican Nigerians in this country, the Rev. Canon Gordon Okunsanya. So, we can really say that ECUSA itself made the creation of CANA necessary. Necessity is truly the mother of invention.”

Necessity is actually the mother of inventive storytelling. I had thought that Thinking Anglican’s [sic] rather complete review of the matter might have caused CANA to change this bit of the story of their beginnings, particularly since CANA went to some trouble to revamp their web presence, but I guess not. Nothing has been done.

The idea that ECUSA made the creation of CANA necessary, on any basis having to do with the appointment of Canon Okunsanya, is rot.

Mark Harris also draws attention to the misinformation contained on the Frequently Asked Questions page of the CANA website:

Now CANA asks and then answers, in the Frequently Asked Questions section of its web site, “Is such an international connection unusual? (The connection is between CANA and Nigeria and their work in the US)

Not really. For more than 160 years (1607–1776), the first Anglicans in this country existed as a missionary outpost under the Bishop of London, England. After the American Revolution, the Church of Scotland [sic] consecrated Samuel Seabury in 1789 as the first bishop of the fledgling Episcopal Church. Most of the Anglican provinces in existence today started as the result of a similar missionary initiative. More recent provinces have had similar international sponsorship.”

Once again CANA needs to clean up its act: Minor points are overlooked… the Anglicans were not “a missionary outpost,” perhaps the clergy sent here by the missionary societies were missionaries. And, let’s see…oh yes, the Episcopal Church of Scotland [sic] did consecrate Samuel Seabury, but he was sent off to England and then went to Scotland having been elected by at least somebody in the US to some particular venue (Connecticut) where there was NO bishop in place. He was not a missionary from Scotland.


Colorado Springs: church court verdict

Updated again Monday

From the Colorado Springs Gazette Church court: Armstrong guilty:

An ecclesiastical court on Wednesday convicted the Rev. Donald Armstrong of stealing nearly $400,000 from his Colorado Springs parish, though it cannot legally punish the breakaway pastor.

The court of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado will decide in about a month, however, whether to recommend that Bishop Robert O’Neill defrock Armstrong, a largely symbolic action that would end all ties between the church and him.

From Episcopal News Service Former rector Don Armstrong found guilty of financial misconduct:

The Rev. Don Armstrong, former rector of Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Colorado Springs, has been found guilty on all counts of financial misconduct presented to an Ecclesiastical Court of the Diocese of Colorado that has been reviewing the evidence since July 31.

The preliminary judgment was made public August 8 by the five members of the Ecclesiastical Court who unanimously found Armstrong guilty of diverting $392,409 from the parish’s operating fund and committing tax fraud by not reporting $548,000 in non-salary income and benefits to state and federal tax authorities.

On other counts of misconduct, Armstrong has been found guilty of receiving illegal loans totaling $122,479.16 in violation of Diocesan Canons; unauthorized encumbrance and alienation of Grace Church’s real property; violation of the temporary inhibition placed on Armstrong; the improper use of clergy discretionary funds; and failure to maintain proper books of account.

Press release from the Diocese of Colorado here (PDF).


Associated Press Episcopal Court Issues Tentative Verdict

Rocky Mountain News Episcopal court finds pastor guilty of theft

Living Church Guilty Verdict in Colorado Misconduct Case

Colorado Springs Gazette Springs police looking into possible embezzlement at Grace Church and, later, Police look into Grace funds.

Monday update
Denver Post Cops investigate theft report (Saturday article)


General Synod: elections

The results of elections just held among General Synod members to fill various posts are as follows. (Stage numbers refer to the process of election by the method of Single Transferable Vote.)

Three clergy places on the Crown Nominations Commission:

  • The Very Revd Colin Slee (Deans) (Stage 4)
  • The Revd Canon Peter Spiers (Liverpool) (Stage 5)
  • The Revd Canon Glyn Webster (York) (Stage 6)

Three laity places on the Crown Nominations Commission:

  • Mr Aiden Hargreaves-Smith (London) (Stage 10)
  • Professor Glynn Harrison (Bristol) (Stage 10)
  • Mrs Mary Johnston (London) (Stage 6)

One clergy place on the Ministry Council:

  • The Very Revd Michael Sadgrove (Deans) (stage 9)

In addition to these the Revd Prebendary David Houlding has been elected to fill a casual vacancy on the Archbishops’ Council.


Arora rebukes Anderson

The Archbishop of York’s Adviser on Communications, Arun Arora has responded to an article in the Church of England Newspaper, written by The Rev. Canon David C. Anderson, who is President, American Anglican Council and Secretary of the Anglican Communion Network.

Arun Arora’s response can be found on the archbishop’s website: Why Canon Anderson Got it Wrong.

Anglican Mainstream has linked to this response with the headline: York Diocesan website posts swingeing rebuttal of Anderson, Phillips.

Here are the links to the articles by David Phillips which are also mentioned:
Telegraph reports Sentamu saying sexual ethics are not core issues
Archbishop Sentamu on Unity


Mark Lawrence re-elected

Episcopal News Service reports that South Carolina re-elects Mark Lawrence as bishop.

The Very Rev. Mark Lawrence was re-elected as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina August 4 at a special electing convention held at St. James Church on St. James Island, South Carolina. Lawrence was the only candidate in the election since no petitions to add other names to the slate were received by the July 11 deadline…

The diocesan website announcement is here:

The Diocese re-elected the Very Rev. Mark J. Lawrence as the 14th Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, August 4, at a special called election at St. James Church, James Island. Mark, had been previously elected by the diocese in September of 2006, but that election was declared null and void by the Presiding Bishop in March of 2007.

Prior to the election, a service of Holy Eucharist, Rite I, was celebrated. The Rev. Steve Wood, Rector of St. Andrew’s Mt. Pleasant, challenged those present to engage the culture with the gospel, and not stand apart from it.

Fifty eight congregations were represented with 201 lay delegates and 82 priests. In a vote by orders, 78 clergy voted for Mark Lawrence, with two abstentions. Missions cast seven yes votes, with one half deputation divided. Among congregations, forty-three yes votes were received, with three congregations voting no and one abstention.

Once the vote, re-electing Lawrence was announced the congregation voiced their pleasure with applause.

And here is an eyewitness account of the event from the Living Church, No Surprises, Much Rejoicing.


columns of opinion

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about being on holiday: How can happiness be so elusive?

Also in the Church Times Paul Vallely asks Is it right to limit the mega-mosque?

The Guardian has Tom Horwood writing that “Faith leaders could learn a lot from managers in the secular working world” in Face to faith.

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about a new film production in Michael Gambon in Brideshead Revisited.

Jonathan Sacks writes that Harry Potter could teach adults how to grow up, too in The Times.


England to get ‘flying bishop’?

Religious Intelligence carries this report dated Thursday, 2nd August 2007. 3:50pm

England to get ‘flying bishop’?
By: Ed Beavan.

NIGERIA is on the verge of appointing its own ‘flying bishop’ in England to represent disillusioned Anglicans, The Church of England Newspaper has learnt.

A new bishop to be appointed by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola could be consecrated before next year’s Lambeth Conference if plans succeed. A source describing himself as a ‘worker in the Nigerian diocese’ said he was aware of such plans and that such a person would be employed as a ‘mission co-ordinator’.

Rumours regarding the possibility of such a role have been circulating over the last few months but this is the first time it has been confirmed by a clergy member from Nigeria.

Speaking to the CEN he said: “It is possible that Archbishop Peter Akinola will have somebody appointed by the next Lambeth Conference in July 2008.” To read the whole of this story see this week’s Church of England Newspaper or go to

The text of the full article is to be found here.

Update Saturday morning
Ekklesia has also reported on this, Nigerian Primate may ordain breakaway Church of England bishop.

Update Saturday evening
Fr Jake has reminded us that this started back in September 2005, with Nigerian archbishop warns of break with mother church in the Mail & Guardian Online. TA carried it within this article.

Nigeria’s Anglican archbishop said on Thursday that Nigerian churches might cut ties with the Church of England if it did not revise its stance on homosexuality, which accepts gay priests in same-sex partnerships.

“As of now, we have not yet reached the point of schism, but there’s a broken relationship,” Archbishop Peter Akinola told reporters in the capital, Abuja.

Akinola had already spoken out against a July 25 announcement from England’s bishops that said gay priests who register same-sex partnerships under a new civil law will remain in good standing so long as they promise to remain celibate.

Akinola said on Thursday that there was still hope to recover church unity if churches that have adopted liberal lines on homosexuality showed “repentance”.

Update Sunday morning revised Tuesday evening

The BBC Sunday programme also reported on this story:

The Anglican Church’s travails over homosexuality have taken another twist: the Church of England newspaper is reporting that Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria – who takes a famously hard line on the matter – is to appoint a ‘flying bishop’ to England to minister to disenchanted Anglicans here. Archbishop Akinola has already sent a bishop to the United States with a similar mission. Stephen Bates of The Guardian has written a book about the divisions in the church and joined Sunday.
Listen (4m 12s)


Hereford update

Updated Monday

My Church Times articles published in last week’s paper edition are now available on the web:

Priddis loses, but sticks to his guns

Quotes from the bishop:

Talking to the Church Times last week, the Bishop said that he had consulted the diocesan registrar on four separate occasions during the course of the recruitment, and believed he had followed the advice given. He was therefore surprised at the tribunal’s judgment, which, he said, was puzzling and in some ways inconsistent. A particular concern to him was that it felt able to override his own pastoral judgement, based on 35 years’ experience.

He awaited further advice from the lawyers on whether to appeal, but he also needed them to advise on changes to diocesan procedures to avoid future problems. “I am disappointed that the judgment spends so much time focusing on the 1991 House of Bishops teaching document Issues in Human Sexuality, and so little on the more important decision of General Synod in 1987.”

The Bishop insisted that in rejecting Mr Reaney he was upholding the 1987 teaching of the General Synod that “holiness of life is particularly required of Christian leaders,” which was not limited to the clergy.

Why this constitutes illegal discrimination

My concluding paragraphs:

The tribunal found the facts of this case so compelling that it found in Mr Reaney’s favour without needing to rely on the discriminatory nature of the underlying Church of England policy of “marriage or abstinence”. The marker laid down here, however, and the inherent difficulty of proving justification, suggests that any future case might well succeed in a claim of indirect discrimination.

On the other hand, the ease with which this tribunal accepted that this officer-level post fell within the ambit of the religious exemption will be of concern to those who had imagined that only top-level lay employees in dioceses and at the National Church Institutions were affected.

Last Tuesday’s edition of The Times carried a profile of the barrister who represented John Reaney. Sandhya Drew said this about the case:

What were the main challenges in this case and the implications of the decision?

The challenges were having to deal with the culture of fear and concealment surrounding sexual orientation in the Church of England. What was very striking, however, was the amount of support for John Reaney from Christians of all sexual orientations, not only within the Church of England but within the Diocese of Hereford itself. The main implication of the decision is that organised religions should not assume that they can rely on an exemption from the law against discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation. Lesbian and gay people of faith make a significant contribution to all the leading world religions and the law will protect them where necessary.

Update Monday
The case is cited in an article in Personnel Today Weekly dilemma: Job interviews.


Virginia: bishop removes 21 clergy

Updated again Saturday

The Bishop of Virginia has removed 21 priests from the ordained ministry of The Episcopal Church.

See the full details here: Inhibited Clergy Released from Obligations of Priesthood:

Yesterday, in an official act observed by two presbyters of The Diocese of Virginia and with the advice and consent of the diocesan Standing Committee, the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee took the required canonical action to remove from the priesthood clergy inhibited by him on January 22, 2007. Those clergy were inhibited following a determination by the diocesan Standing Committee January 18 that they had abandoned the Communion of The Episcopal Church. The possibility of such a determination was explained by the Bishop in a December 1, 2006 letter to the clergy and leadership of the now-former Episcopal congregations. By this action, the former Episcopal clergy are “released from the obligations of Priest or Deacon and … deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority conferred in Ordination.”

In addition to losing their capacity to officiate in Episcopal churches or in any manner as Episcopal priests, the former Episcopal clergy lose their capacity to contribute to pension plans begun during their time as Episcopal priests and any other benefits of service as Episcopal priests or employees of Episcopal churches or institutions. Pension benefits accrued to this point will remain payable…

The names listed do not include Martyn Minns who was earlier consecrated a bishop in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). In a letter dated October 2, Bishop Lee wrote:

…On August 20, 2006, the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns was consecrated a bishop in the Church of Nigeria. That act established his canonical residence in Nigeria and ended his canonical residence in the Diocese of Virginia. Consequently, as a Bishop from another province of the Anglican Communion, Martyn’s ability to function in any jurisdiction other than Nigeria, where he is canonically resident, requires that he be licensed by the Bishop with oversight.

…I have licensed Martyn to serve as priest-in-charge of Truro church through January 1, 2007. The details of the license also establish that Martyn will perform no episcopal acts in the Diocese of Virginia through January 1, 2007 and that Martyn will exercise his ministry in compliance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church and The Diocese of Virginia.

The Anglican District of Virginia, an “association of Anglican congregations in Virginia”, has responded. See ADV Responds to the Bishop of Virginia’s Announcement to Depose Former Clergy.

ADV describes itself thus:

ADV is currently comprised of 19 member congregations, 15 of which are under the ecclesiastical authority of the Bishop of CANA, The Right Reverend Martyn Minns, and four of which are ecclesiastical members under direct authority of other Anglican Archbishops, strongly supported by ADV members.

The Anglican Communion Network has responded. See Bishops will continue in ministry with Virginia priests:

…The Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, the Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith of the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, the. Rt. Rev. Jack Iker of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the Rt. Rev. John David Schofield of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin have issued the following statement:

“In conscience we must remain in relationship and ministry with these priests, and the many others who have had this canon used against them because of their determination to stand with mainstream Anglicanism. As bishops, we ordain priests for the whole church. Surely we overstep our bounds when we attempt to decide for the whole church that a priest’s ministry is ended because he is no longer under our authority.

“Because these Virginia priests are priests in good standing in the Provinces of Uganda and Nigeria, respectively, the deposition is, in fact, of no effect. Each is recognized as a priest in good standing of the Anglican Communion. Therefore we welcome them to exercise their sacerdotal ministries in our Dioceses. Though we continue to work and pray for a charitable disengagement, actions such as this only make our relationships with each other more difficult and divided.”

Julia Duin has this report in the Washington Times Episcopal bishop ejects clergy.

Updated Saturday morning
Associated Press Priests reject Virginia Episcopal bishop’s sanctions
Living Church Network Bishops Pledge Solidarity With Virginia Clergy


Colorado Springs: more reports

The Living Church has Brief Testimony in Presentment Trial of Colorado Priest.

Episcopal News Service has COLORADO: Evidence presented against former Colorado Springs rector.

Update Thursday afternoon
Colorado Springs Independent Armstrong a no-show at his own church trial.


General Synod: Church Times July reports

Here are links to the General Synod detailed reports published in the Church Times on 13 July.

Crown appointments: Synod seeks to extend reform to deans and canons
Marriage: Wedding couples’ ‘qualifying connections’ agreed
Worship training: Move for ‘better’ liturgy welcomed
Anglican Covenant: C of E is to ‘engage positively’ with the global Primates
Presidential address
Commissioners: Southwark diocese fails to win review of accountability
Ethical investments: Investors’ blacklist to stay confidential
Disability: See what we do, Synod told
2008 budget: Ordinands squeezed as numbers surge
Church Army
Parochial fees Big rise in fee to bury ashes
Methodists: Lay presidency and bishops at issue
Clergy pensions: Defined-benefits rescue plan approved
Minorities: Hospitality is ‘still lacking’

Apologies for the delay in posting this set of links.


Gomez on the Communion

Auburn Faber Traycik of the Christian Challenge has published Conservative Leaders Will Ensure Communion’s Orthodox Stand In Gay Dispute. This is a report of what Archbishop Drexel Gomez, Primate of the West Indies said to a day-long Festival of Faith at St. Luke’s Church, Bladensburg, Maryland. Here is the first part of it:

“This is a fight we are engaged in and we will see it through to the end. We are determined to see that the Anglican Communion ends up on the right side of the debate” over homosexual practice.

So West Indies Archbishop Drexel Gomez declared outside Washington, D.C. Saturday, drawing a standing ovation from a sizeable gathering of orthodox believers during a day-long Festival of Faith at St. Luke’s Church, Bladensburg, Maryland. The event also featured retired Quincy (IL) Episcopal Bishop Donald Parsons.

Gomez assailed opponents for characterizing fidelity to the consistent witness of scripture on homosexual practice as homophobia, bigotry, and fundamentalism. He said that he and co-religionist Anglican leaders would keep the Communion in line with the 2,000-year consensus of Christianity on same-sex relations, holding that the issue relates to “God’s ordering of life.” It is therefore – contrary the recent declaration by the Anglican Church of Canada – a matter of “core doctrine.”

But the leading conservative primate (provincial leader) also warned of a liberal recasting of official Anglicanism if some conservative provinces boycott the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops. A few provinces have already determined to skip the meeting over the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision to include therein all Episcopal prelates who have violated the Lambeth ‘98 sexuality resolution except actively gay prelate Gene Robinson, and to exclude U.S. missionary bishops backed by African provinces.

Gomez also sees obstacles to fulfilling the hopes of embattled American conservatives that The Episcopal Church (TEC) would be deemed by primates this fall to have left the Communion, a move they thought could help usher in a new jurisdiction for faithful U.S. Anglicans.

Such Communion housecleaning is still hampered by a weak top-level Communion structure that is already undergoing de facto change, but which awaits formal strengthening via the prospective Anglican covenant, which would be binding among provinces that adopt it. That is something Gomez knows a lot about, and talked a lot about in Bladensburg, as he not only helped produce the 2004 Windsor Report which (inter alia) recommended a covenant to help alleviate Anglican structural problems, he heads the panel that is designing the pact. Backed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and his fellow primates, the covenant is a key agenda item for Lambeth ‘08, which, however, already appears to be in trouble due to Dr. Williams’ controversial handling of invitations to the once-a-decade meeting.

GOMEZ TOLD his Washington-area audience, which numbered over 200 at its peak, that he sees little prospect that all 38 Anglican primates will meet later this year to determine the Communion status of TEC, whose bishops and Executive Council have rebuffed the primates’ last-ditch pleas to forswear further same-sex blessings and actively gay bishops, and to cooperate in the primates’ plan to provide an alternative leadership for disaffected Episcopal dioceses and parishes. Episcopal bishops have until September 30 to give a final answer to the primates’ appeals, before which time Archbishop Williams is due to meet with the prelates. Gomez and others still hope TEC will have a change of heart, but no one is predicting one.


Armagh on the Communion

The Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Reverend Alan Harper, preached this sermon at Clonmacnoise on the Feast Day of St Mary Magdalene. Read it all, but here’s the concluding part:

Archbishop Drexel Gomez, addressing the General Synod of the Church of England on the issue of an Anglican Covenant, said recently:

Anglican leaders are seriously wondering whether they can recognize in each other the faithfulness to Christ that is the cornerstone of our common life and cooperation. While some feel there will be inevitable separation, others are trying to deny that there is a crisis at all. That is hardly a meeting of minds. Unless we can make a fresh statement clearly and basically of what holds us together we are destined to grow apart.

I doubt if anyone believes that there is no crisis. Rather, in the context of Archbishop Drexel’s key test, that is, recognizing in each other the faithfulness to Christ that is the cornerstone of our common life and cooperation, a spirit of arrogance on both sides is causing people of genuine faith and undoubted love for the Lord Jesus to bypass the requirement for patience and for making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

I have yet to meet any “leader” who does not treat with the utmost respect and indeed reverence the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. I have heard no one in this crisis deny the fundamental tenets of the faith as Anglicans have received them. Yet I have heard believing Christians attack other Christians for not believing precisely as they themselves believe. Equally, I have heard believing Christians attack other Christians for not attaching the weight they themselves attach to this biblical text compared with that.

This is not the way of Christ; it is the way of fallen humanity. It is a boulder of our own creation and I do not know who will help us to roll it away.

Some fear, and I am among them, that an Anglican Covenant, unless it is open and generous and broad, may simply become a further means of obstruction: a boulder, rather than a lever to remove what obscures and impedes our access to the truth that sets us free.

The truth is that the tomb is empty and we are called to live a new life in which resurrection and not death is the new reality; a life freed from the narrow constraints of human expectation, predictability and conformity; a life that confidently expects the disclosure of new vistas offered by the God whose very nature and purpose is to make all things new and make us part of His new creation.

Throughout history the way of the Church has been strewn with boulders of her own making. Those boulders conceal from us what God has already done and is continuing to do. They are boulders compounded of pride, hypocrisy and conceit, envy, hatred and malice and all uncharitableness.

From such things, good Lord, deliver us! And deliver especially this tortured Anglican Communion of Churches.


Colorado Springs: church court hearing

Updated Wednesday evening

The Diocese of Colorado has been holding an ecclesiastical court hearing to consider what action should be taken in the case of The Revd Donald Armstrong.

Jean Torkelson in the Rocky Mountain News has Episcopal priest’s case goes to church court and Episcopal lawyer slams Armstrong at hearing.

Colleen Slevin of Associated Press has Panel To Decide Case Against Armstrong.

Ed Sealover in the Colorado Springs Gazette has Episcopals may revoke Armstrong’s ordination.

All this is separate from the property dispute which is what the Denver Post is focused on in Theology battle rocks Springs church, world by Electa Draper.

The two congregations involved have websites:
The Episcopal Church congregation is here.
The CANA congregation is here.

Another two reports:

Jean Torkelson Rocky Mountain News Spotlight hotter for ex-rector:

…The whistle-blower who entangled the Rev. Don Armstrong in allegations of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars in church money was the parish bookkeeper, an attorney said Tuesday…

Electa Draper Denver Post Rebel priest spurns hearing