Thinking Anglicans

Schism is not the greatest evil

Paul Gibson has written an essay Why I am not afraid of schism which appears on the Anglican Church of Canada website.

The bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada were recently reported to be “alarmed” by the prospect of schism in the Anglican Communion (Anglican Journal, December 2007). The current controversy in the Communion over issues related to homosexuality appears to have created a mood or atmosphere of anxiety and fear, as though schism were the greatest evil that could befall the church and which should be avoided at all cost.

In the remarks which follow I will propose that schism is far from being a catastrophic situation, let alone the most desperate condition that may overtake a church, and that, in the words of President F.D. Roosevelt, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

First, let us go to the biblical background…


North Africa comes to Lambeth

Global South Anglican has published Bishop Mouneer Anis Reflections on the Joint Standing Committee (JSC).

Among the comments there, this from Tunde Popoola:

Sadly, this Godly Archbishop sound prepared to face more disappointments at Lambeth. I admire his determination in speaking up. What I do not like is the way his participation is used to legitimize questionable decisions only for him to shout foul afterwards. I pray he soon realizes that continued participation with those he believes are wrong, who listen to him but are not ready to repent is a tactic encouragement for what he believes is wrong to continue.

Posted by Tunde on 03/18 at 05:56 AM


SE Asia comes to Lambeth

Global South Anglican has published a Statement by the Synod of The Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia (2008).


due process for bishops

There has been considerable discussion on blogs, for example here, about the voting process in the American House of Bishops. Some articles arising from that:

Living Church HOB Secretary: ‘No One Challenged’ PB’s Ruling by George Conger and Steve Waring, and also this commentary Flaws in Misconduct Canons by Steve Waring.

The Anglican Communion Institute has published On the Matter of Deposing Bishops at a Time of Communion Self-Assessment by Ephraim Radner, Christopher Seitz, Philip Turner.

Tony Clavier wrote To encourage others: The canon-legal conundrum on Covenant.


Christchurch NZ election confirmed

The choice of Victoria Matthews as Bishop of Christchurch in New Zealand has been confirmed:

Official diocesan announcement: Eighth Bishop of Christchurch announced

Episcopal News Service NEW ZEALAND: Canada’s Victoria Matthews named bishop of Christchurch


Pittsburgh responds to charges

Updated Tuesday morning

(Apologies for the lack of TA for about ten hours today.)

The Bishop of Pittsburgh, Robert Duncan has responded to the charges made against him earlier, as reported here.

His letter to the Presiding Bishop is in PDF format here.

His lawyer’s letter to the lawyer for the national church is in PDF format here.

The Pittsburgh diocesan news release is here.

Episcopal News Service has a detailed report: Duncan replies to charges of abandonment of communion with Episcopal Church. There is this explanation about what may happen next:

Diocese of North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry, one of the bishops who briefed the media on the March 12 sessions of the House of Bishops meeting, told ENS that very few of the bishops had read the lengthy certification of the charges against Duncan. Hence, he said, Jefferts Schori suggested that the material be sent to all bishops to read.

Curry said the Presiding Bishop then agreed that her office would poll the bishops about the advisability of convening a special meeting of the House in May 2008 or whether to consider the matter at the House’s already-scheduled September meeting. Curry predicted that the answer to the question may be based in large part on the logistics of coordinating all the bishops’ calendars to find a meeting time in May.

Lionel Deimel has written two analyses, see Duncan’s Defense and Legal Matters.


yet more American reports

ENS reports San Joaquin Episcopalians greet bishop recommended for provisional role.

The new website for the San Joaquin diocese contains information about the Special Meeting of the Convention of the diocese.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a report by Steve Levin Clock is ticking for fate of Bishop Duncan:

The leader of the Episcopal Church will poll bishops nationally next month in an effort to move the possible deposition of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert W. Duncan Jr. ahead to May.

While Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s reasons have not been made public, the impact of accelerating the deposition could be far reaching not only for Bishop Duncan but the entire worldwide Anglican Communion…

…According to an e-mail sent this week from David Booth Beers, the chancellor to the presiding bishop, to about two dozen Pittsburgh Episcopalians representing a spectrum of the diocese, he wrote that the Rev. Jefferts Schori would “poll the House of Bishops in April to see when the House would next like to meet to discuss, among other things, the certification respecting Bishop Duncan. It is not accurate to say that she is seeking approval to proceed; rather, she seeks the mind of the House as to when to proceed.”


opinions before Holy Week

Mordechai Beck writes in Face to Faith for the Guardian about how the real reason for the veiling of religious women may be lost in the sands of time.

Dave Walker on the Church Times blog has all the gen on the BBC Passion.

Giles Fraser in the Church Times wants us to Learn from Anglicans’ secular cousins.

In The Times Jonathan Romain writes about a New prayer book for Britain’s Reform Jews.

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about The city lost in the sands.

Savi Hensman writes for Ekklesia about Being on the side of the crucified.


roundup of American reports

Updated again Saturday morning

The Church Times has a report by Pat Ashworth Lambeth ban on Robinson upheld. The CT went to press before the Wednesday announcements re San Joaquin etc.

The Living Church has a report No Decision on Bishop Schofield’s Lambeth Invitation.

The Church of England Newspaper has a report by George Conger Lambeth invitations reviewed.

For secular press reports on San Joaquin there is a round-up at epiScope Schofield minus plus. And this item at Episcopal Café.

The soon-to-be new Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has a new website.

There are further comments and reactions in this ENS report House of Bishops’ actions draw reactions from interest groups, ELO readers.

Two further items:

Forward in Faith North America reports that Bishop Edward MacBurney, bishop retired of the Diocese of Quincy, has been formally charged with canonical violations by the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. See Former Quincy Bishop Charged.

And Stand Firm reports that Presiding Bishop Plans to Try Bishop Duncan before the Lambeth Conference. (What this means is to some extent explained in the comments to the article.)

Friday evening update

Several bishops have posted comments on their recent meeting, see here.

There is a report in the Living Church by George Conger and Steve Waring which asserts that Deposition Votes Failed to Achieve Canonically Required Majority.

Added Saturday morning

Official response to the above: House of Bishops’ votes valid, chancellor confirms. See text below the fold.



San Joaquin further developments

Episcopal News Service reports:

House of Bishops deposes Schofield; San Joaquin special convention set for March 29. It includes:

…The Presiding Bishop, during a telephone press conference after the conclusion of the March 7-12 Camp Allen meeting in Navasota, Texas, said she will personally convene the special convention in San Joaquin. She declined to identify a nominee for provisional bishop.

“As of today he is no longer a bishop in the Episcopal Church,” she said of Schofield. “Matters down the road will include clarifying the status of Corp Sole, which is how property is held in that diocese…”


San Joaquin diocese asked to consider Jerry Lamb as provisional bishop:

Bishop Jerry A. Lamb — retired bishop of Northern California and most recently interim bishop of Nevada — has been recommended by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to serve as provisional bishop of the Central California Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

Lamb can begin work in this capacity after ratification by the diocese’s convention, set to meet March 29 in Lodi, California…


American statement on Lambeth Conference

The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church issued this House of Bishops statement on the Lambeth Conference.

It includes this:

Even though we did not all support the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire, we acknowledge that he is a canonically elected and consecrated bishop in this church. We regret that he alone among bishops ministering within the territorial boundaries of their dioceses and provinces, did not receive an invitation to attend the Lambeth Conference.


two bishops deposed

Updated twice

ENS reports House of Bishops consents to deposition of John-David Schofield, William Cox:

The House of Bishops voted March 12 to consent to the deposition from the ordained ministry of the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, and the Rt. Rev. William Jackson Cox, bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Maryland, resigned.

Members of the House of Bishops are preparing a statement regarding these actions and for release after a March 12 afternoon session…

Here’s the text in the case of Bp Schofield:


RESOLVED, that pursuant to Canon IV.9.2 of the Episcopal Church, the House of Bishops hereby consents to the Deposition from the ordained ministry of the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin.

EXPLANATION: On January 9, 2008, the Title IV Review Committee certified to the Presiding Bishop, pursuant to Canon IV.9.1, that the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, has repudiated the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church and has abandoned the Communion of the Church by, inter alia, departing from the Episcopal Church and purporting to take his Diocese with him into affiliation with the Province of the Southern Cone. In the intervening two months since the Presiding Bishop gave notice to Bishop Schofield of the foregoing certification, Bishop Schofield has failed to submit to the Presiding Bishop sufficient retraction or denial of the actions found by the Title IV Review Committee. Accordingly, the Presiding Bishop has presented the matter to the House of Bishops and requested consent to Bishop Schofield’s Deposition.

Update One

Bishop Schofield responds to the HOB decision

NACDAP: Episcopal House of Bishops Votes to Depose Network Bishops

Update Two

House of Bishops statement on Schofield, Cox

Archbishop Venables Memo to Bishop Schofield

For press coverage, see Episcopal Café Secular media file reports on the actions of the House of Bishops.


What is the Global South?

Michael Poon has published an essay on Global South Anglican which is titled The Global South Anglican: its origins and development.

Several bloggers, including Ruth Gledhill here, have drawn attention to his comments on GAFCON:

There is however a persistent undercurrent within “Global South Anglican” that defines itself doctrinally against the wider Anglican Communion, and posits itself against “liberal leadership” in the Church of England and the Episcopal Church. The primates of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are at the centre stage of the transatlantic conflicts in the Communion. Strictly speaking, they are true to the “global South” spirit (and methodologies). The GAFCON movement that suddenly erupted in late December 2007 brought this undercurrent to the surface. Doctrinal matters are not central to GAFCON. It is telling that Archbishop Peter Jensen did not clarify what “Biblical Anglican Christianity” entails. (He was silent on whether such biblical Anglican beliefs, for example, include particular views on ordination of women and lay presidency at the Holy Communion.) The central issue is in fact the restructuring of the Communion. It would be reconfigured by the geopolitics of globalisation and of the “global South”. Transnational alliances – with the aim in expanding interests through border crossing – replace geographical dioceses and historic ties as the building blocks of the Communion, and with the same stroke dethrone Canterbury as the focus of unity. This of course is in line with Hassett’s earlier analysis.

GAFCON holds before the Communion a new and unfamiliar utopia that is post-modern to its core. Webmasters and web bloggers render synodical processes irrelevant. They preside over web blogs in the virtual worlds of their own fabrication. Its power in shaping public opinion on ecclesiastical authorities simply cannot be ignored. A communion that is no longer dependent on patient face-to-face encounters and governed by geographical proximity: it is a Gnostic gospel that renders the Cross in vain.

Dr Poon refers repeatedly to the work of Miranda Hassett. See here for details of her book, Anglican Communion in Crisis: How Episcopal Dissidents and Their African Allies Are Reshaping Anglicanism, which as I have said elsewhere is essential reading.

Reviews of this book can be found in the Christian Century by Sam Wells, see Anglican maneuvers, and in the Church Times by Mary Tanner, see How a new global network spread. Also see Alan Wilson’s comments here.

The original PhD thesis Episcopal Dissidents, African Allies: The Anglican Communion and the Globalization of Dissent is here as a 1.1 Mb PDF file.


sharia firestorm follow-ups

The Law Gazette ran an article entitled Sharia unveiled by Polly Botsford, and also there was a news item, Sharia councils regulation call and a letter to the editor earlier.

In the week following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s provocative recent speech on sharia law, Mahmud Al-Rashid, spokesman for the Association of Muslim Lawyers (AML), called for the regulation of the growing number of sharia councils, as reported in the Gazette (see Gazette [2008], 14 February, 4). They were both bringing to the fore the interplay between religious freedoms and a secular state.

The issue of religious communities having their own set of rules, even their own courts governing areas such as marriage and divorce within the secular state, is a complex one, not least because each community has many voices and, naturally, they are not all seeking the same thing. But what Dr Williams and others have done is to start a public debate, the conclusion of which may yet be a long way off…

More recently, Trevor Grundy reported that Archbishop of Canterbury gets praise from Nigerian Islamic leader:

Mauled by the media for suggesting aspects of Sharia Law should be incorporated into the British legal system, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has become something of a hero — even a Christian legend — in Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria.

Speaking at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London on March 6, the leader of the multi-million strong Qadiriyyah wing of the Islamic faith, Nigerian Sheikh Qaribullahi Nasiru Kabara, told academics and diplomats that he felt “very good” when he heard what Williams had to say at a February lecture.

“I felt very good,” the sheikh said. “The people of northern Nigeria are very happy. It shows the recent upward rating of the British and the way they see Islam…That call from the Archbishop of Canterbury caused a serious round of celebrations because people feel, ‘These people are now listening to us. Let us look at them and talk to them properly…’”


Lambeth and New Hampshire

Episcopal News Service carries a report titled Lambeth invitation ‘not possible’ for Robinson. It links to two word processing files, but see below.

The House of Bishops was informed March 10 that full invitation is “not possible” from the Archbishop of Canterbury to include Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as a participant in this summer’s Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops.

Robinson, addressing the House, urged the other bishops of the Episcopal Church to participate fully in the conference, and thanked all who are willing to “stay at the table.”

Robinson told the House that he respectfully declined an invitation to be present in the conference’s “Marketplace” exhibit section.

Robinson confirmed for ENS that he plans to be in Canterbury during the July 16-August 3 once-a-decade gathering, but not as an official conference participant or observer…

Episcopal Café carries more information here in Full invitation for Robinson “not possible” including the full text of:

Report from Bishops Ed Little, Bruce Caldwell and Tom Ely to the House of Bishops regarding conversations about Bishop Gene Robinson’s participation at the Lambeth Conference.

And also, here in Bishop Gene Robinson responds, the full text of his remarks to the House of Bishops.

See also Daily Account from the House of Bishops for Monday, March 10.


Rebuilding Communion

St Deiniols Library is publishing a book with this title.

The aim of this book is threefold: firstly, to provide a brief Who’s Who and What’s What on the recent history of sexual orientation and Anglicanism; secondly, to give voice to gay and lesbian people from around the Anglican world; thirdly, to reflect on the present crisis and offer new possibilities for learning from areas such as human rights legislation, the African concept of ubuntu and conflict resolution in Bosnia.

Read a fuller description of the book here, and there is a list of contributors.

The Introduction to the book is also online here. It begins:

Dear Bishop,

Thank you for your comments and concerns about the Rebuilding Communion conference and book. Let me reassure you about what we hope to achieve.

No one can deny that homosexuality is a key issue in contemporary Anglicanism; it is one of the causes of the present fracture in the worldwide Communion. St Deiniol’s has a tradition of providing a space for the discussion of issues confronting church and society. On one level, that is all we are doing. I hope we can approach the issue in new ways. For instance, the final section of the book looks at the issue from the perspective of human rights legislation, the African concept of ubuntu, conflict resolution in Bosnia and pastoral need in Canada.

All the contributors to the book are committed Anglicans, not all of us are gay. We all want to see Anglicanism renewed and revived – we are passionate about this. Most of us are Anglicans because we are attracted to its inclusive nature and its careful sifting of scripture, tradition and reason. For many of us, the ‘untidiness’ of the Anglican Communion is part of its attraction. We know that the health of our planet depends on the maintenance of our biodiversity. The same may well be true of Anglicanism. Our tradition is one of expressing faith through the cultures of our people. Consequently, our theology and ethics have often been shaped by pastoral care and concern. In a worldwide Communion, this is bound to lead to diversity and to suppress this diversity is to inflict a high cost on the freedom of the human spirit…

Recently, the library also held a conference related to the book Rebuilding Communion – Who Pays the Price? and you can still read the announcement about it here.

Some reports of the conference, including pictures and even some video, can be found at this blog, starting here.


GAFCON appeals for funds

Subject: Opportunity to support a Bishop to Jerusalem
Date: Fri, 7 Mar 2008
From: Chris Sugden
To: Chris Sugden

Dear Colleague

We are writing to request your help in securing financial support to enable the participation of Bishops and their wives from Africa, Asia and Latin America in the Global Anglican Future Conference and Pilgrimage (GAFCON) in Jerusalem June 22-29.2008. Details are on

GAFCON is organised to enable the Anglican Orthodox to think, discuss and pray about the future of the Anglican Communion.

Many Anglican Orthodox leaders have come to the conclusion that the 2008 Lambeth conference as it is structured and led is fundamentally compromised and will not provide the environment and process to struggle with the challenges threatening the future of the communion.

The GAFCON gathering does not mean schism. It seeks to set out a clear biblically faithful and orthodox vision for the future of the Anglican Communion, share with the rest of the communion in all available forums and work towards shaping the communion towards that end.

The Conference and Pilgrimage will identify the biblical and theological truths that unite and empower us, work on ways of equipping the whole church for ministry and mission, identify approaches and resources for the economic empowerment of the Church in the Global South, share experiences and resources of churches in their work addressing poverty, HIV/Aids, human rights, engagement in advocacy and policy and ministry in contexts of religious hostility and plurality.

Your support will enable Bishops and with their wives to join with others not only in addressing the issues facing the future of orthodox witness in the Communion but particularly to chart a new path for developing enterprise solutions to poverty with its important implications for their future well being

The cost of hotel, board, local travel, visits to holy sites and conference registration is set at £1300 for a couple. Each participant is encouraged to provide their own travel costs but in some cases help will be needed also for travel costs that will average £1100 per couple.

As many as 300 Bishops with their wives are expected to attend. A small number will need full subsidy of costs. Most will need up to 50% subsidy, so we are seeking a significant total in all. Do not hesitate to be in touch if we can provide any further clarifications – 01865-883388.

Cheques may be made to: Anglican Mainstream ( a charity), 21 High Street, Eynsham, 0X29 4HE. Please designate your gift to GAFCON.

Sincerely in Christ

Canon Vinay Samuel
Canon Chris Sugden
for the Leadership Team

Archbishops Peter Akinola (Nigeria), Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda), Donald Mtetemela (Tanzania), Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya), Henry Orombi (Uganda), Greg Venables (Southern Cone),
Archbishop Peter Jensen (Sydney) , Archbishop Nicholas Okoh (Nigeria) , Bishop Bob Duncan (Anglican Communion Network and Common Cause USA.), Bishop Martyn Minns (Convocation of Anglicans in North America), Bishop Don Harvey (Canada) , Bishop Bill Atwood (Kenya) Canon Dr Vinay Samuel (India), Bishop Michael Nazir Ali (Rochester, England) and Bishop Wallace Benn (Lewes, England), Canon Dr Chris Sugden (England).


opinions before Passiontide

Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times about Egeria the fourth century nun and the litany.

Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about What the maker of mosaics saw.

Pete Tobias writes in the Guardian about Moses and the burning bush, see Face to Faith.

Giles Fraser asks in the Church Times Is it time to snub the Pope now?

Simon Barrow wrote on Ekklesia about Fairness, trade and free market ideology.


Bishop Schofield writes

Updated Friday morning

Episcopal Café has published a letter from Bishop John-David Schofield in which he resigns from the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church.

See John-David Schofield writes Katharine Jefferts Schori.

The letter is a PDF file (200Kb) available here.

Friday morning update

titusonenine has an html version of the letter here.

Episcopal News Service reports that this letter had still not arrived last night at 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017. See last sentence of Bishops prepare for Camp Allen gathering; Schofield posts letter of resignation from House of Bishops. I’m sure this can’t be because of the multiple spelling errors in the name of the addressee.

The letter has now been posted on the website of the former (erstwhile?) Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and can be seen here.


GAFCON will send ‘wrong signals’

The Melbourne Anglican has a major article this month about Bishop Suheil Dawani’s recent visit to Australia, titled Bishops’ meeting will send ‘wrong signals’.

Another senior bishop has signalled his intent to be involved in the controversial Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) gathering to be held in the Diocese of Jerusalem before the Lambeth Conference this year. This surprising participant is the Bishop of Jerusalem himself, who pleaded with GAFCON organisers last month to hold the event elsewhere.

“It’s happening, they are coming,” said Bishop Suheil Dawani during a visit to Australia in February. “I will be there. I cannot ignore such a gathering. But I’ll give them our message of unity, of how the church must also be united, and of the importance of our ministry in Jerusalem and all over the world.”

Bishop Dawani told TMA that he is nervous about the impact of such a controversial conference in an area which is already beset by violent disputes and hardship. The Diocese of Jerusalem, made up of twenty-nine parishes, covers five countries – Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine, all of which are familiar with division and hostility. Thirty-four institutions of the Anglican Church provide vital health care, education, aged care and disability care to the region, as well as care and hope to people who are traumatised by the uncertainty and violence around them, par-ticularly in Palestine…

…The GAFCON gathering, he believes, may undermine the Anglican Church’s credibility in setting this example, and he said he was disappointed that the GAFCON organisers did not seem to listen to his concerns, although GAFCON organisers have since split the conference between Jordan and Jerusalem, with the Jerusalem component called a “pilgrimage”.

“In Jerusalem, we face so many problems, we are challenged on a daily basis to be with each other, and that’s why we are so involved in ecumenical and interfaith activities. These things [at GAFCON] will be misunderstood by people, and will give the wrong signals to people in Palestine and Jordan. It is very controversial, it is the wrong time and the wrong place.”

“I hope that at Lambeth we can witness a new era of coming together and put our differences aside,” he said. “If we have differences, we have to discuss it internally in good spirit, because our people are looking to us. If our people see division, and we are not coming with a good spirit, it will affect their spirit, and their lives. We don’t want to be an obstacle for our people. I hope that Lambeth will get a new spirit for Anglicans all over the world.

See also Arrogant Archbishop’s protest conference ignores own advice from the Canberra Times.