Thinking Anglicans

From Calvary To Lambeth

BBC Radio 4 will broadcast a programme From Calvary To Lambeth on Tuesday 27 November at 8.00 pm. Here’s the blurb:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, once labelled “a rabble-rouser for peace”, gives vent to his feelings of shame for a worldwide Church which – as he sees it – is homophobic and “obsessed” with human sexuality. This is tragic, he says “in the context of a world suffering from war, poverty and disease”. God must be weeping, he says, to see a Church with priorities so different from those of its Founder who first and foremost loved, welcomed and embraced all humanity.

His critics – including former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, MP Ann Widdecombe, and the US conservative Bishop, Robert Duncan – stand up for a Church working worldwide on behalf of the poor and deprived, and accuse Desmond Tutu of engaging in caricature, special pleading and false theology. Michael Buerk reports.

News reports so far:

BBC Tutu chides Church stance on gays

Sunday Telegraph Jonathan Wynne-Jones Carey and Tutu wade into conflict over gays


Niagara votes on SSBs

The Diocese of Niagara has joined the growing ranks of Canadian dioceses that have voted in favour of same-sex blessings.

The Anglican Journal has the full story in Niagara diocese approves blessings for gay couples; bishop assents.

The southern Ontario diocese of Niagara, meeting at its annual synod, on Nov. 17 voted to allow civilly-married gay couples, “where at least one party is baptized,” to receive a church blessing.

Bishop Ralph Spence, who had refused to implement a similar vote three years ago, this time gave his assent, making Niagara the third diocese since the June General Synod convention to accept same-sex blessings.

Of the 294 clergy and lay delegates, 239 voted yes, 53 said no and two abstained. In 2003, out of 319 delegates, 213 voted yes and 106 said no.

“The question has been asked, ‘Where do we go from here?’ Much consultation will take place … When and how this will be implemented will be dealt with in the days that lie ahead. We are aware of the vote’s ramifications,” said Bishop Spence, who also said he has been in consultation in the past week with Lambeth Palace (residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury), the Canadian primate (Archbishop Fred Hiltz) and his successor, Bishop Michael Bird, who takes office on March 1. Bishop Spence declined to say whom he had spoken with at Lambeth Palace.

The dioceses of Ottawa and Montreal recently passed similar motions and their bishops have said they will consult widely before deciding whether to implement the decisions. (The Vancouver-based diocese of New Westminster has offered blessings since 2002.) Civil marriage has been legal for homosexual couples since 2003…

The bishops issued this pastoral letter following the synod.


Canadians respond to Bishop Harvey's departure

The Canadian Council of General Synod is meeting this weekend. It has issued this statement:

A Statement to the Church From the Council of General Synod

November 16, 2007

The Council of General Synod, meeting in Mississauga, Ontario, from November 16th – 18th 2007, has received with concern the news that Bishop Donald Harvey has voluntarily relinquished, effective immediately, the exercise of ordained ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada, and intends to be received into the Province of the Southern Cone (in South America). Bishop Harvey, retired bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, has been a valued member of our church, and his decision is a source of sadness.

The Anglican Church of Canada welcomes and respects freedom of individual conscience and the theological convictions of its diverse membership. Our General Synods have consistently sought to honour every voice as we work patiently through contentious and difficult issues before our church. Our bishops have made adequate and appropriate provision for the pastoral care and episcopal support of all Canadian Anglicans. We value and respect the diversity of the worldwide Anglican Communion and have expressed our commitment to its ongoing life, even as we also ask for respect and understanding of our own.

To this end we wish to make clear that interventions in the life of our church, such as ordinations or other episcopal acts by any other jurisdictions, are inappropriate and unwelcome. In particular, we cannot recognize the legitimacy of recent actions by the Province of the Southern Cone in purporting to extend its jurisdiction beyond its own borders. We call upon the Archbishop of Canterbury to make clear that such actions are not a valid expression of Anglicanism and are in contravention of the ancient and continuing traditions of the Church. They aggravate the current tensions in the Anglican Communion.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for the world, and our primary task as Christians is to make this Gospel known through action and word. We strongly support our Primate’s view that the Church in Canada and throughout the world should make Christ and His mission its central focus. We therefore call upon all our members, lay and ordained, to commit themselves to this priority, and to respect the structures and authority of the Church.

We ask your prayers for our continued fellowship in the Spirit and our unity in the bond of peace.

The Anglican Journal has a report, Bishop leaves Canadian church for South American province:

The retired bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, Don Harvey, has left the Anglican Church of Canada to become a bishop in the South American province of the Southern Cone, a decision that the primate of the Canadian church acknowledged would pose “complications” for the already fragile unity within the local church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Bishop Harvey, who has been outspoken in his opposition to what he considers the Canadian Anglican church’s liberal stance on homosexuality, particularly the blessing of same-gender unions, announced his departure more than a week before he was to lead a meeting in Burlington, Ont. to discuss the future of conservative Anglicans in the church…

The Anglican Network in Canada had this description of the event: Anglican Network in Canada bishop received into Southern Cone.

The Anglican Journal has a further report, Council expresses sadness over bishop’s departure.


Saturday morning opinions

Andrew Linzey had an article in The Times yesterday about electing bishops. In England. See Listen to the voice of the people.

Giles Fraser wrote in the Church Times yesterday about life in California. See California: where the giving is cheerful.

Julia Neuberger writes in the Guardian today about multifaith charity work. Read Face to Faith.

Christopher Howse writes in today’s Daily Telegraph about The strange rites of Coronation.

Ekklesia has an article by Colin Morris titled Violence, the media and redemption.


Southern Cone and the USA

Updated Saturday evening

Pat Ashworth reports in today’s Church Times Southern Cone offers haven to disaffected US dioceses.

George Conger had New haven for US dioceses on offer in the Church of England Newspaper.

The Diocese of San Joaquin has published a Pastoral Letter to be Read in All Churches of the Diocese of San Joaquin this Sunday or the following Sunday. This reports on the offer made by the Southern Cone and then says:

Should the second reading of the Constitutional changes receive the necessary two thirds of each order voting affirmatively next month, this will mean that the Diocese is free to accept the invitation of the Province of the Southern Cone. This enables us: 1) to receive the protection contemplated by the Primates in Dar Es Salaam that was originally agreed to by the Presiding bishop, but later rejected by the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church; 2) to remain a diocese with full membership within the Anglican communion where the orders of our clergy are recognized; and, 3) to assure that we remain within the Anglican Communion through a Province in full communion with the See of Canterbury. According to well-informed sources, the Archbishop of Canterbury has been fully informed of the invitation of the Province of the Southern Cone and described it as a “sensible way forward.” Indeed, it is the sensible way forward and a decision by the Diocese to move in this direction is by no means irrevocable as was seen during the 1860’s when the Dioceses of the Southern States left the Episcopal Church and at the conclusion of the Civil War returned to the Episcopal Church without punitive action. As the Southern Cone invitation makes clear, the Diocese may return to full communion with the Episcopal Church when circumstances change and the Episcopal Church repents and adheres to the theological, moral and pastoral norms of the Anglican Communion, and when effective and acceptable alternative primatial oversight becomes available.

Read the whole document in pdf format here.

Concerning this matter of “well-informed sources” Andrew Brown has today commented in the Church Times press column as follows:

…The Times followed it up four days later with a version that added two things. The first was a claim that the Archbishop of Canterbury thought this “a sensible way forward”. This was not attributed, though it was in quotes as direct speech: when I rang Lambeth Palace, the spokesman had no idea when or even why the Archbishop might have said any such thing. Perhaps it was in his secret unity talks with the Pope…

The Diocese of Fort Worth voted on its proposed constitutional changes today. Episcopal News Service has a report: Fort Worth convention approves first reading of constitutional changes:

The 25th annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth November 17 gave the first of two approvals needed to amend its constitution and remove accession to the Constitution and Canons of General Convention, as well as several canonical amendments that eliminate mention of the Episcopal Church.

Speaking in a news conference following the convention’s conclusion, Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker said the decisions “marked a firm resolve about moving forward together, recognizing that there are parts that are not fully behind the path we’ve chosen, but the debate is always characterized by respect and honesty.”

“It’s important to note that the decisions made today are preliminary decisions that need to be ratified by another convention,” he added.
Meeting at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas, the convention also thanked the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone for its invitation offering the diocese membership “on an emergency and pastoral basis.” Iker and the diocesan Standing Committee are to prepare a report on “the constitutional and canonical implications and means of accepting that invitation.” Attending the convention was Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia in the Southern Cone.

The convention noted that the diocese wishes “to remain within the family of the Anglican Communion while dissociating itself from the moral, theological, and disciplinary innovations of the Episcopal Church…”

titusonenine has more detailed voting figures.


Royal College speaks up

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has contributed to the Anglican Communion Listening Process.

The Church Times has an exclusive report by Bill Bowder at Acceptance helps gays, psychiatrists inform Anglicans.

THE Royal College of Psychiatrists has challenged Anglican bishops to support gay clergy and laity as an example to parents struggling to come to terms with having gay or lesbian children.

“The Church has a wonderful opportunity to lead rather than to be dragged along kicking and screaming. Christianity is such an inclusive religion,” said Professor Michael King, an executive committee member of the College’s special-interest group of 200 to 300 psychiatrists who work with lesbians, gay men, and bisexual and transsexual people.

His committee has submitted a report to the Church’s Listening Exercise on Human Sexuality, to inform a study guide for next year’s Lambeth Conference.

The report, endorsed by the full College “from the President down”, said that there were no scientific or rational grounds for treating lesbian, gay, and bisexual people differently, Professor King said on Monday.

The full text of the contribution can be found here as a PDF file. An html version is here.


Fort Worth and the Southern Cone

The full text of the resolution passed by the Provincial Synod of the Southern Cone of America concerning the welcoming of American Episcopal dioceses can be found here.

A resolution is to be put to the Fort Worth Diocesan Convention as follows:

Resolution 2

A Response to the Invitation of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone

Whereas, it is the resolve of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth to remain within the family of the Anglican Communion while dissociating itself from the moral, theological, and disciplinary innovations of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America;

And whereas, the Synod of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, meeting Nov. 5-7, 2007, voted to “welcome into membership of our Province on an emergency and pastoral basis” those dioceses of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America who share this resolve;

Therefore, be it resolved, that the 25th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth extend its sincere thanks to the Synod of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, and to its Primate, the Most Reverend Gregory J. Venables, for the generous and fraternal invitation to join their Province;

And, be it further resolved, that the Bishop and Standing Committee prepare a report for this diocese on the constitutional and canonical implications and means of accepting this invitation.


Demob happy

Stephen Bates has written an article with this title for New Humanist.

After seven years on the faith front lines, Guardian religious affairs correspondent Stephen Bates is glad to be back on civvy street.

Here’s a sample:

…The presenting issue, of course, for what has become a struggle for power and control not only of the Church of England but throughout the worldwide Anglican communion, is homosexuality and the church’s attitude towards gays. Outsiders may have accepted civil partnerships, but the established church is tearing itself apart on the issue with quite extraordinary bitterness and rancour. Only a week or so ago, a US blogger was remarking charitably that it wasn’t worth expending a bullet on the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, who is the first woman to lead a major Christian denomination. The blogger, incidentally, was herself a woman…

Read the whole article.


General Synod Answers to Questions

Answers to written Questions have been posted on the Church of England website.
See press release ‘Virtual’ questions receive answers.

The original RTF file is here.

TA has provided an html copy of the file here.


Iker denies abandonment of TEC

The Bishop of Fort Worth has replied to the Presiding Bishop’s recent letter to him.

You can read his reply here.

Episcopal News Service has a detailed report by Jan Nunley, Fort Worth bishop responds to warning letter from Jefferts Schori which sets out the reasons for sending him the earlier letter:

Fort Worth’s diocesan convention meets November 16-17 to consider the first reading of a constitutional amendment that would remove accession to the Constitution and Canons of General Convention, as well as several canonical amendments that eliminate mention of the Episcopal Church.

Iker has publicly endorsed the changes and declared his intention to separate the Fort Worth diocese from the Episcopal Church.

In an October 20, 2007 address to the Forward in Faith International Assembly in London, a recording of which is available on the group’s website, Iker stated that the three Forward in Faith dioceses — Fort Worth, San Joaquin, and Quincy — intend to leave the Episcopal Church by 2009.

“There are three Forward in Faith dioceses in the United States, and the three bishops of those dioceses have come to a common conclusion that we have no future in the Episcopal Church,” Iker reported to the London meeting. “Our conventions in those three dioceses, Fort Worth, Quincy, and San Joaquin, will be taking constitutional action to separate officially from TEC. Because it is a constitutional change, it must be passed at two successive annual conventions.”

On the recording, Iker continued: “…Our plan is not only to disassociate, then, from the Episcopal Church, but to officially, constitutionally re-affiliate with an existing orthodox province of the communion that does not ordain women to the priesthood. These conversations are very far along but cannot be announced until the province that is considering our appeal has made their final decision public.”

There is also a Living Church report, Bishop Iker: Presiding Bishop’s Letter ‘Highly Inappropriate’.



Updated Tuesday

The Washington Times has an article about Virginia: Episcopal dispute hinges on 1860s law by Julia Duin.

The largest property dispute in the history of the Episcopal Church, brought on by divisions over a homosexual bishop, is likely to turn on a Civil War-era Virginia law passed to govern churches splitting during disputes over slavery and secession.

The Rocky Mountain News has an article about Colorado: Diocese turns up heat in lawsuit over schism by Jean Torkelson.

The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado moved Friday to sue individual parishioners who support the breakaway congregation at Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish in Colorado Springs, according to documents filed in El Paso District Court.

The petition asks the court to add 18 people to the diocese’s existing countersuit, which is seeking monetary damages as well as repossession of the church.

The targeted members include everyone on the parish’s governing board as well as the church’s main spokesman, Alan Crippen, and its rector of 20 years, the Rev. Don Armstrong.

We haven’t previously linked to reports of other recent developments in this case. Here are some backfile items:

ENS Bishop deposes former rector Don Armstrong

Living Church Forensic Audit Faults Diocese in Armstrong Investigation

Press releases from the Diocese of Colorado about all this are here.

Update Tuesday
Here is another article about Virginia, from the Richmond Times-Dispatch Episcopal property case goes to trial today.


The New Confederacy

The following article by Harold Lewis appears in the parish magazine of Calvary Church, Pittsburgh, go here for PDF version.

The New Confederacy

In alleging that there was no canonical impediment to the recent actions of diocesan convention, namely the vote to remove the Diocese of Pittsburgh from the Episcopal Church, Bishop Duncan made an appeal to historical precedent. He stated that in 1862, a group of dioceses located in the Confederate states withdrew from the Episcopal Church but that their action did not prompt the Episcopal Church to enact a canon asserting that such an action was illegal. In other words, the bishop interpreted the church’s silence as assent, thereby giving carte blanche to all dioceses, in perpetuity, to separate themselves from TEC, despite their constitutional obligation to remain in communion with it. The bishop’s assertion was problematic on two levels. First, it was a mark of gross insensitivity on his part to hold up the example of the Confederate Episcopal Church, which came into being because it believed it could no longer share a church with those [i.e. Northerners] whose attack on slavery was “treason to the Southern cause.” Moreover, as the Confederate House of Bishops also stated, the Confederate Church believed that the institution of slavery was one of “those sacred relations which God has created, and which man cannot, consistently with Christianity, annul.” Secondly, the bishop’s historical recollection was selective. In point of fact, The Episcopal Church, it can be said, never really recognized the formation of the Confederate Church. When the roll was called at the General Convention of 1862, and the Southern dioceses did not respond, they were simply marked absent. When the Convention convened three years later, following the end of the Civil War, the dioceses representing the defeated Southern states had returned, contrite. Their attendance was duly noted, and the Church saw no need to be punitive. (This issue is discussed in some detail in my book, Yet With a Steady Beat: The African American Struggle for Recognition in the Episcopal Church.)

As I reflected on the bishop’s comments, I realized that from his theological point of view, the Confederacy may well be an apt analogy for the so-called orthodox movement in the Episcopal Church. Like the Confederacy, it stands for a different set of values than those of TEC. Progressives, like the Northerners, are considered traitors —- in this case to the cause of the Gospel. Moreover, we have been accused of doing to the church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality what the Northerners did to slavery, that is, annul a sacred relationship created by God. But the similarity is most evident in the fact that just as the Confederate Church maintained that they could no longer exist under the same roof as TEC, so has the conservative element in the Diocese declared that the Episcopal Church is an unfit cohabitant for them in the house of God. Separation from us, and realignment with another province of Anglicanism deemed to be, in the words of the Epistle to the Ephesians, “without spot, or wrinkle or any such thing,” is, for the “conserving church,” the only recourse.

Perhaps the most painful experience at Convention was listening to the laundry list of the theological deficiencies purportedly in evidence throughout the liberal wing of the church. They were summarized at a pre-Convention hearing led by Jonathan Millard, the rector of Ascension, Oakland. According to Fr. Millard, there is, in TEC, in addition to erroneous teaching and practice regarding human sexuality, confusion about who God is, a failure of bishops to defend the faith, and a lack of clear teaching about Christ’s divinity and about salvation and sin. A drift towards universalism; a loss of confidence in the Gospel as Good News for all; a preoccupation with social justice (as if justice were not a Biblical concept); contempt for the Bible’s authority, and a lack of respect for truth or unity are other shortcomings. While “evidence” for the existence of such opinions can be culled from various isolated sources, it is as preposterous as it is presumptuous to suggest that the entire church can be tarred by that brush. But tarred it has —- and our alleged failures are held up as the reasons for our being unfit to share Word and Sacrament with those who believe that they and they alone possess and practice the faith once delivered to the saints.

In his Convention address, Bishop Duncan observed that since the vote on Resolution One was but the first of the two votes required to effect a constitutional change, nothing has changed. I beg to differ. For the foreseeable future, the people of the Diocese of Pittsburgh are living in a situation not unlike that of a couple who have decided to divorce, but who for whatever set of reasons, still share a residence. But it is actually worse than that. For whereas some couples may actually recognize that their marriage has failed but have no animosity toward each other, the conservative party sees itself as the wronged party in the marriage who has informed the progressive party in this Diocese that they have sullied the marriage because we follow a different Gospel and a different Lord.

If indeed the Episcopalians seeking realignment can be seen as the new Confederacy, we can take some comfort in the knowledge that the old Confederacy and the church that it spawned were short-lived. Already there is dissension in the ranks. In this diocese, although we could not tell by their behavior at Convention, there are several clergy and lay leaders from conserving” parishes who have indicated to the bishop that when push comes to shove, they will not join ranks with the Realigners, and will instead remain in the Episcopal Church. Beyond the bounds of the Diocese, other Realigners are seeking different paths. The bishop of Fort Worth, for example, whose diocese is a member of the Network, has indicated that his diocese will only realign with a province which does not recognize the ordination of women. One religious body which is a member of the newly formed group called Common Cause is reportedly considering a petition to the Holy See. Such, historically, has been the fate of religious organizations formed in protest against other religious organizations.

The memory of the words and the presence of Archbishop Tutu buoyed me during the cheerless hours spent at diocesan convention. His embracing message of inclusivity, based on his interpretation of John 12:32, “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself,” rang in my ears. Despite a Biblical theology which trumpets a penchant for believing in “the plain meaning of Scripture,” this passage seems to elude our conservative brethren, who by their actions continually suggest that the Lord’s intention was to bring only some to himself. Here at Shady and Walnut, in an effort to be faithful to our Lord, will continue to endeavor to welcome all in the Name of Christ.


Saturday opinion columns

Giles Fraser writes in today’s Guardian that Anglicanism, a house divided against itself, can’t survive its civil war in one piece. Read Face to Faith.

And in the Church Times he writes about Why equality belongs with freedom.

Christopher Howse in his Daily Telegraph column has Sacred Mysteries: Evidence for the human soul.

David Cooper wrote in The Times yesterday that We need to remember the value of lives of service.

Rebecca Fowler had a report in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph : Women priests and their continuing battle.


Guardian leader column

The Guardian has a leader about the Anglican Communion: Beyond compromise:

…Always a loose and unwieldy alliance, the communion has survived since the age of empire only because of the effective acceptance that each church was sovereign in its own land. With the initial encouragement of the religious right in America, however, conservative elements of the communion are trying to impose an infeasible doctrinal unity. Dr Williams has responded to this pressure by seeking compromises. His difficulty is that, as the head of such a loose confederation, he does not have the power to make deals stick, as the freewheeling action of the conservatives is showing.

Dr Williams is a liberal who is instinctively supportive of gay people. His desire to hold the communion together, however, has already led him to support a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops and to suggest that Anglican churches should not recognise same-sex unions through public rites. These concessions have not, however, checked the communion’s unravelling. The fence on which Dr Williams has been sitting has collapsed. It is time for him to preach what he believes.

There is also a news report by Riazat Butt Archbishop urged to delay conference in gay clergy row.


more on the action of the Southern Cone

Updated again Sunday evening

The Living Church has a report by George Conger: Southern Cone Offers ‘Safe Haven’ for American Dioceses.

The Bishop of Lewes is happy about it.

Reuters carried a report: Traditionalist pressure mounts on Anglican Communion.

Update Friday evening

Ruth Gledhill has a report ‘Realignment’ of Anglican Communion underway at Times Online in which she says that:

…According to well-informed insiders, Dr Rowan Williams, while opposed to separatist solutions to the Anglican crisis, has described the plan of Bishop Venables as a “sensible way forward…”


…Four US diocesan bishops met Bishop Venables and his bishops at his episcopal headquarters in Buenos Aires in August to discuss the plan. Bishop Venables met Dr Williams in London in September where they discussed the proposal.

In an interview with The Times, Bishop Venables said: “We have talked with a number of US dioceses and bishops. They think the could remain within the Anglican Communion if they are no longer part of The Episcopal Church. So we took an overwhelming decision in our provincial synod this week to receive into our province any diocese that wishes to come.”

The diocese must first go through the necessary synodical procedures to separate from The Episcopal Church. The San Joaquin diocese is furthest down this road. Bishop Venables said: “It is a bit like a refugee situation. If next door’s children come running out in the middle of the night, the first response must be to give them a safe place before you find out what is going on and sort it out…”

Ruth has written further about this on her blog at Anglican ‘realignment’ begins:

…I have it on impeccable authority that Rowan’s response to Bishop Greg, while not exactly falling over himself with joy, was that this was a ‘sensible way forward’. Bishop Greg discussed it briefly with the Archbishop in London in September, I understand, but Greg himself declined to tell me what the Archbishop said…

Update Sunday evening

Over on titusonenine Gregory Venables blogged a comment in which he announced his own re-election as primate of the Southern Cone (H/T GK). This must be some kind of first in ecclesiastical history:

4. Gregory wrote:

Greg Venables has just been relected unanimously as Primate.
November 8, 9:12 am

Ruth Gledhill has another version of her report in tomorrow’s Times, see US dioceses offered safe haven to secede in gay clergy row.


four English bishops back Duncan

From today’s Church Times Pat Ashworth has this:

English bishops back Duncan over warning letter (scroll down for second story)

THE BISHOPS of Chester, Chichester, Exeter, and Rochester issued a statement on Tuesday in support of the Rt Revd Robert Duncan, the Bishop of Pittsburgh, after the warning letter sent to him by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori…

…The English bishops’ statement, which was instigated by the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, read: “We deeply regret the increase in the atmosphere of litigiousness revealed by the Presiding Bishop’s letter to Bishop Duncan. At this time, we stand with him and with all who respond positively to the Primates’ Dar es Salaam requests. We hope the Archbishop’s response to Bishop John Howe of Central Florida will also apply to Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh.”

The Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster, said on Tuesday that the statement gave personal support to Bishop Duncan. He described the Presiding Bishop’s letter as “aggressive, inappropriate, and unfortunate”. “They are acting as if it is the OK Corral. This is the North American culture: it is a managerial rather than a pastoral approach.”

Dr Forster emphasised that issuing the statement did not imply support for decisions taken at the Pittsburgh diocesan convention.

When asked whether the Presiding Bishop was within her rights to act as she had done, Dr Forster said that if a whole diocese voted to realign with another province, that needed to be addressed on its own terms. “I’m not sure simply saying ‘It’s illegal’ is the best way to produce some healing. What’s needed is a pastoral, healing approach, which attempts to find a way forward.”

Bishop Duncan is “holding out the prospect of those who wish to stay doing so, and promises to be fair and generous in his dealings with them. I think I’m asking for a similar fairness and generosity from the Episcopal Church towards those parishes who do want to leave,” said Dr Forster….


Presiding Bishop writes to Fort Worth

The ENS report by Jan Nunley is headed: Fort Worth bishop receives notice of possible consequences if withdrawal effort continues.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has made public another letter of warning sent to a bishop actively seeking to withdraw his diocese from the Episcopal Church.
The letter to Bishop Jack Leo Iker of the Diocese of Fort Worth notifies him that such a step would force her to take action to bring the diocese and its leadership into line with the mandates of the national Church.

The first of the letters was sent to Bishop Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh on October 31. Letters to other bishops will follow.

Fort Worth’s diocesan convention, meeting November 16-17, is set to consider the first reading of a constitutional amendment that would remove accession to the Constitution and Canons of General Convention, as well as several canonical amendments that eliminate mention of the Episcopal Church. Iker has indicated his support and approval of the amendments…

The full text of the letter is below the fold.

The Living Church also has a report: P.B. Issues Warning to Fort Worth.



Diocese of Virginia on property dispute

The Diocese of Virginia has published details of the various legal actions taken in the current disputes there over the ownership of parish property.

See Property Dispute:

The dispute over property in the Diocese of Virginia entered the civil courts when the separated CANA congregations filed petitions with the courts in their jurisdictions reporting the results of their congregational votes and seeking the court’s declaration that the property belonged to the congregations. The Diocese and the Episcopal Church responded to those filings and are defendants in those cases.

Subsequently, the Diocese and the Episcopal Church filed complaints seeking a declaration that Episcopal Church property, while held by local trustees, is held in trust for the benefit of the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Virginia and Episcopalians throughout the generations. Those cases have yet to be scheduled for trial. At issue is the real and personal property of 11 Episcopal churches. In each case, that property currently is occupied and used by non-Episcopal congregations. Four continuing Episcopal congregations have been denied use of their property, locked out of their buildings, deprived of their rights to that property and forced into exile.

By agreement of the parties, all cases were consolidated in Fairfax Circuit Court, and they have been assigned to Judge Randy I. Bellows. On this site, you will find various court filings related to the litigation.

Truro Church has published this page: Property Defense.

And the Anglican District of Virginia has published this page: Legal Resources.


Venables speaks to the Telegraph

Jonathan Petre has an exclusive this morning in the Daily Telegraph: Anglican leader offers haven to US conservatives:

…Archbishop Gregory Venables is to allow conservative dioceses that are defecting from the pro-gay American branch of Anglicanism to affiliate with his South American province thousands of miles away…

…The British-born Archbishop, who is the Primate of the Province of the Southern Cone, told the Telegraph: “This is a pivotal moment in the history of the Anglican Communion.

“The new realignment demonstrates the depths of the divisions that already exist. “

Dr Williams appears to want to keep the Communion together at all costs, but Gospel truth should never be sacrificed for structural unity.

“Conservatives in America and elsewhere cannot wait in limbo any longer. They need a safe haven now.”

Archbishop Venables unveiled the decision of his bishops and other leaders after the plans were overwhelmingly approved by his provincial synod during a meeting in Chile last night…


letter to CEN supporting Bishop Duncan

Anglican Mainstream has printed the full text, and also the full list of signatories, which does not appear in the newspaper itself. There it says: “Col Edward Armitstead and 41 Members of General Synod from 24 dioceses”.

Letter published in the Church of England Newspaper

The Editor The CEN

Dear Sir,

We write to inform you that we are sending the following letter of support to Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh and his fellow Bishops in the Common Cause Council of Bishops following the letter last week to the Bishop of Pittsburgh,

Dear Bishop Duncan and Bishops in Common Cause

Warm greetings from the UK.

We have read the letter from Presiding Bishop Schori to the Bishop of Pittsburgh. We want to assure you, your dioceses and parishes of our prayers and fellowship as you take your stand on our shared Anglican heritage, accepting the Holy Scriptures as the rule and ultimate standard of faith, contrary to those innovators both in the British Isles and in the Americas who wish to give primacy to the demands of contemporary culture.

We are outraged by the threat and implementation of court actions against faithful Anglicans in the United States by the current leadership of The Episcopal Church who appear to be unitarian and universalist in theology, and coercively utopian in social practice.

We are most disturbed that the current plans for the Lambeth Conference are that the leadership of TEC be invited to the Lambeth Conference but not faithful Anglican bishops.

Yours in Christ

46 Members of General Synod from 26 dioceses

Colonel Edward Armitstead (Bath and Wells), Mrs Lorna Ashworth (Chichester), Mrs Anneliese Barrell (Exeter), Fr Paul Benfield (Blackburn), Mr Tom Benyon (Oxford) , Mr Paul Boyd Lee (Salisbury), Canon Peter Bruinvels (Guildford), Mr Gerald Burrows (Blackburn), Mr Graham Campbell (Chester) , Mr Nigel Chetwood (Gloucester), Mr John Clark (Lichfield) , Rev John Cook (London), Mr Tim Cox (Blackburn), Brigadier Ian Dobbie (Rochester), Rev John Dunnett (Chelmsford), Mr Paul Eddy (Winchester), Mrs Sarah Finch (London), Dr Philip Giddings (Oxford), Rev Ian Gooding (Derby), Rev John Hartley (Bradford) , Rev Richard Hibbert (St Albans), Fr Simon Killwick (Manchester) , Mr Peter LeRoy (Bath and Wells), Rev Angus Macleay (Rochester) , Dr Peter May (Winchester), Mr Steve Mitchell (Derby), Mrs Joanna Monckton (Lichfield), Mrs Gill Morrison (Peterborough), Mr Gerry O’Brien (Rochester), Rev Paul Perkin (Southwark) , Preb Sam Philpott (Exeter) , Mr Andrew Presland (Peterborough), Rev Colin Randall (Carlisle) , Mr Jonathan Redden (Sheffield), Mrs Alison Ruoff (London), Mr Clive Scowen (London), Mr Ian Smith (York), Rev Mark Sowerby (Ripon and Leeds),Mr Michael Streeter (Chichester) Canon Dr Chris Sugden (Oxford), Dr Chik Kaw Tan (Lichfield), Rev Rod Thomas (Exeter), Mr Jacob Vince (Chichester), Rev David Waller (Chelmsford) , Mrs Ruth Whitworth (Ripon and Leeds) Sister Anne Williams (Durham)

Plus Rev David Phillips (St Albans) Director, Church Society, Rev Geoffrey Kirk (Southwark) Secretary, Forward in Faith UK, Stephen Parkinson, Director, Forward in Faith, Rev Beaumont Brandie (Chichester) Chair of College of Forward in Faith Deans, Gill James (Birmingham), Rev Alan Rabjohns, Chair, Credo Cymru. Canon Nicholas Turner (Bradford) Editor, New Directions, Rev Trevor Walker (Lincoln) Forward in Faith Council, Fr Ross Northing (Oxford) Regional Dean, Fr Len Black (FiF dean for Scotland)