Thinking Anglicans

PB visit to South Carolina

There have been varying accounts of this event.

Episcopal News Service On the road in South Carolina with the Presiding Bishop by Neva Rae Fox

Statement from Bishop Mark Lawrence in response to the recent ENS article on the Presiding Bishop’s visit to South Carolina (original here, URL temporary):

I have read the recent article from the ENS regarding the Presiding Bishop, The Most Reverend Katherine Jefferts Schori’s visit to the Diocese of South Carolina. It was a gracious and accurate description of much of our time together. Indeed, there was a warm hospitality which we were most intentional in cultivating through our prayers and our hearts. What the article failed to convey, however, is the depth of the theological chasm that lies between many of us in South Carolina (and others within the church for that matter) and the trajectory of so much of the leadership of The Episcopal Church. To explore these cavernous depths is indeed the great work that lies before anyone in leadership today. Along with showing hospitality and witnessing to God’s work among us, the earnest exploring of this chasm was and remains one of our chief objectives.

—The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence

Audio recordings of events during the visit can be found here.

Video recordings of Bishop Mark Lawrence’s opening remarks are here and here.

The reports of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina can be read here:

1. Bishop Lawrence Approves Release of Edited Tapes of Clergy Meeting with Presiding Bishop Katharine (3/5)

2. Day Two of Bishop Katharine’s Visit: Disaffected Clergy Challenge Presiding Bishop (2/25)

3. Day One of Bishop Katharine’s Visit: Efforts by St. Philip’s to Humiliate Presiding Bishop Backfire (2/24)

Comments on the visit by others:

The Reverend Al Zadig

The Reverend Mike Lumpkin

The Reverend Steve Wood and also here.


UK blasphemy law reform

Updated again Friday morning

The two archbishops have issued this statement on the current government consultation, which includes the full text of their response to the government: Archbishops’ response to Government consultation on blasphemy.

News reports on this response:

The Times 29 Feb Archbishops have ‘serious reservations’ about blasphemy repeal by Ruth Gledhill

Guardian 4 March Archbishops question timing of plans to abolish blasphemy laws by Alan Travis

Update Also, there is an audio file of a discussion between Alan Travis and Giles Fraser available here.

In connection with this, there are also these reports:

The Times ‘Most Britons belong to no religion’ by Ruth Gledhill

Religious Intelligence UK warned over religious rights by George Conger

The UN report mentioned can be found as a PDF here.

Friday morning update

The Church Times has a full report on the debate in the House of Lords on Wednesday, see Archbishops warn of symbolic charge of blasphemy law by Pat Ashworth and Simon Caldwell.

The official record of the debate is here, or you can read it in a PDF file here.


Canada: an update

The Anglican Journal reports:

Three more churches vote to leave Canadian church and later…

Judge rules against diocese of Niagara in dispute with local churches:

An Ontario Superior Court judge ruled on Feb. 29 that the diocese of Niagara may not send its clergy into two area churches in the next two weeks to hold Sunday services for members of the congregations that remain loyal after most of their fellow parishioners voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada.

“I am disappointed with the decision today, but we have to respect and abide by it. I feel for those faithful members of the parishes. We will try to make some arrangement for them if we possibly can,” said Bishop Michael Bird, who is based at the diocesan office here. It was the first court decision since 11 Anglican Canadian parishes decided, at their regular vestries (annual meetings) in February, to separate. They now identify themselves as part of the Anglican Network in Canada…

The Diocese of Niagara had a detailed report on its website:

Message to the Clergy and People of the Diocese: from the Synod Negotiating Team February 29, 2008.

The Canadian primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz has issued a Statement, which you can also see on video here, which starts out:

Dear Friends, as you know, in recent weeks there have been a few parishes across our beloved church that have had meetings and serious discussions that have resulted in decisions to withdraw from the Anglican Church of Canada. With you, I am saddened by these developments because they represent a fracture in the body of Christ and a break in our fellowship, one with another.

As we hear the reporting around these developments, there is repeated reference to the blessing of same-sex unions as the tipping issue in what is described as a crisis in faith, within the Anglican Church of Canada. My conviction is that we can only challenge that kind of rhetoric by the fact that across this land, you and thousands of other Anglicans gather week by week to hear once again, the story of the loving purposes of God through history and in the fullness of time through Christ and in those same gatherings, to confess the divinity and the lordship of Jesus Christ as we recite the Creed and celebrate the Eucharist week by week…

A few of the press reports:

Toronto Star At core of Anglican conflict, a 1,900-year-old tradition by Stuart Laidlaw

Toronto Globe & Mail Breakaway Anglicans make gain by Caroline Alphonso


Anglican Covenant: two views on the new draft

The Archbishop of Dublin John Neill has written an article in the Church of Ireland Gazette entitled Drafting an Anglican Covenant which is now available in full. Part of what he says:

…In working with the Covenant Design Group, I learnt a great deal, but I would mention one or two insights that I gained, or gained afresh.

The first was that, in spite of the hyping of differences within our Communion, there is a deep determination to stay together, and that we really experienced a deep unity around prayer, the Bible and sharing in the Eucharist.

The second was that the role of Synods comprising bishops, clergy and laity varies greatly around the Communion. In some parts of the world, what the Primate says on almost any question is regarded as the voice of the Church, even though there has been no work done on the question at synodical level, whereas, in America and Europe, the voice of the Church requires a great deal of consultation before it is articulated.

This explained for me part of the reason for the entirely different perceptions of the power of the Primates’ Meeting, and, indeed, of the Lambeth Conference itself. Those Churches which have a high regard for the role of Synods (such as our own) are very reticent to cede power to a Primates’ Meeting.

The third thing that I discovered when we examined all the responses to the Covenant was that, sadly, there were few responses from those Churches which have been most outspoken about threats to the Communion. Many of them have other very important agendas of their own, but the sad thing is that if a Covenant is there to restore the fractures in the Anglican Communion, everybody needs to own the process, and especially those who feel alienated…

Last week’s Church Times contained a further article by the Bishop of Dudley David Walker. (See also his earlier article here.) The new article is titled Why the new Covenant creates hope. Here is his concluding section:

…A number of commentators focus on the workability of the procedure, and try to determine its acceptability according to how it would apply to the presenting issues of sexuality and territorial incursions. Both poles of the debate take a pessimistic stance: liberals feel it would exclude them; conservatives call it toothless.

Some commentators try to explore how the Covenant procedures would work to prevent new disputes reaching the impasse of the sexuality debate. The Design Group needs to decide whether its proposals are essentially about avoiding future conflicts, or if it intends them to be able to resolve matters that are already rancorous…

In keeping with the spirit of the St Andrew’s Draft, it is worth ending on an upbeat note. I believe that the Covenant is less a reaction to a particular divisive issue than a natural consequence of the Anglican Communion having grown beyond being the Church of England writ large.

The challenge is for us to see this as a sign of maturity rather than a symptom of failure, and to use the text in the first part of the draft as a positive tool for our mission. Slowly, the Design Group is edging towards a confident statement of what Anglicanism strives to be, for God and the world.


more US news updates

Updated Monday evening

Following on from last week,

The Bishop of Fort Worth spoke to the Living Church about the American House of Bishops:

…Bishop Jack Leo Iker of Fort Worth said he was “disheartened” that to date he has been “unable to secure a future, safe place for this diocese within The Episcopal Church,” and “saddened by the fact that the HOB has been unwilling to make adequate provision for us in response to our appeal for alternative primatial oversight.”

Bishop Iker described the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church as a “toxic environment,” and said he will not be attending the meeting at Camp Allen March 7-16.

“In recent years I have increasingly dreaded the thought of attending another meeting of the House of Bishops of TEC,” he said. “For me, the small-group table discussions are places of hostile confrontation, not support and affirmation.”

Addendum The comments at this blog entry here include remarks by Bishop Iker.

The Bishop of Central Florida and the Bishop of Western Louisiana also spoke to the Living Church about the “Anglican Bishops in Communion” proposal:

The House of Bishops will receive an informal presentation on the “Anglican Bishops in Communion” proposal that was shared with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori during a 50-minute meeting on Feb. 21 at the Episcopal Church Center. The House of Bishops meets March 7-13 at Camp Allen in the Diocese of Texas.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori expressed no objections to the plan during the meeting, according to bishops John W. Howe of Central Florida and D. Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana, who met with Bishop Jefferts Schori. The Bishops in Communion plan is a modified version of the “Episcopal Visitor” concept announced by Bishop Jefferts Schori during the fall House of Bishops’ meeting in New Orleans. It includes a commitment to abide by existing canon law of The Episcopal Church…

Still no mention of this matter by Episcopal News Service.

And another story, about the Bishop of Pennsylvania who has been inhibited: Church sets trial date for suspended bishop.

Monday evening update

There is now an Episcopal News Service report on Bishop Bennison’s forthcoming trial.

The Diocese of Fort Worth tonight released “a procedure to be followed if a parish wishes to initiate a separation from the diocese”, see Bishop and Standing Committee release Guidelines for diocesan Canon 32:

The Guidelines set out a procedure to be followed if a parish wishes to initiate a separation from the diocese. They were prepared after consideration was given to specific concerns raised at deanery covocations and at the Convention. As much as possible, these concerns have been taken into consideration as the Guidelines were drafted.

The leadership of this diocese has watched with sadness as issues and attitudes have caused deepening differences at all levels in the Anglican Communion. Adding to this rupture of the bonds of affection are the growing numbers of lawsuits being filed by those who once were unified in faithful witness and ministry. “Disagreement and division may be inevitable,” commented Dean Ryan Reed, President of the Standing Committee, “but Christian charity must not be sacrified in the process.” The purpose of the Canon and the Guidelines is to provide for a charitable parting, if parting is necessary…

1 Comment

God's Country: Nigeria

Updated Wednesday morning

Several commentators, including Andrew Brown in the Church Times have drawn attention to this article in the Atlantic Monthly by Eliza Griswold titled God’s Country. The magazine describes it this way:

Using militias and marketing strategies, Christianity and Islam are competing for believers by promising Nigerians prosperity in this world as well as salvation in the next. A report from the front lines.

The website of Atlantic Monthly also has a related slideshow, an interview with the author, and an audio file.

Episcopal Café has an article, Archbishop Akinola owes the world some answers which discusses this, and has useful links to the reports on the Yelwa massacre from Human Rights Watch.

Fr Jake has more, and also here.

Wednesday update
AkinTunde Popoola has responded to the article (see comments below):

Eliza Griswold’s recent attempt to demonise the Archbishop of the Church of Nigeria by publishing an article raising issues of religious violence is most unhelpful. As CAN president, one of the challenges the Archbishop faced was that of persuading youthful Christians to stop revenge attacks.

While the very sad ethnic/religious Yelwa incident took place in 2004, his statement about no religion having a monopoly of violence was made in 2006 when Nigerian Christians were being slaughtered because of some cartoons published in Denmark.

About Ms Griswold’s article, Archbishop Akinola has commented: “It is a pity that I have again been quoted out of context by the Atlantic Monthly two years after the event and the interview. The incident of the Danish Cartoons started off a crisis in Northern Nigeria. As president of the Christian Association of Nigeria I had to prevail on Christians not to retaliate. If we had not done that there would have been chaos. It was in the context of prevailing on Christian youth not to retaliate that I said what I said”

His statement was made not to encourage violent retaliation from Christian youth, but to recognise the reality of the possibility of such retaliation in the context of extreme provocation.

What is not reported so well, or known so widely is the many efforts that were initiated for peace-making. In February 2007 for example, Abp. Akinola (along with many Anglican bishops) was in the palace of the Sultan of Sokoto, Nigeria’ s overall Islamic leader on a friendly visit. ( ) Abp. Akinola has not and does not encourage violence but continues to maintain peaceful cordial relationships with every peace loving Nigerian irrespective of tribe, creed or gender.

The Western press should learn from the Danish cartoons that articles they publish, whatever the motive might be, can be responsible for the death of many innocent lives hundred of miles away.

Reactions to this response can be seen at Fr Jake here and at Episcopal Café here.


opinion columns

Three articles by Giles Fraser this weekend.
In the Guardian he writes in Intimations of mortality that we have lost the art of plain speaking when it comes to death – and that is not healthy for children.
Also in the Guardian he previews the BBC’s Passion (to be broadcast in Holy Week) in Thou shalt not offend anyone: BBC’s Jesus is nice but dull.
And in the Church Times he asks Is Fairtrade the same as fair?.

In the Guardian’s Face to faith column David Bryant writes that the perspective shift urged by the philosopher Martin Buber has the power to heal our world.

In The Times Jonathan Sacks writes Lose faith in God we will lose faith in humanity.

Also in The Times Libby Purves asks whether Oxford scholars should be forced to say grace in Oxford scholars’ grace protest: principled or petulant?