The Episcopal Church, USA held a press conference in New York on the Lambeth Conference today. It featured the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and the Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas, professor at Episcopal Divinity School and a member of the Conference’s design group.
You can watch the entire press conference here.
Related news story:
And earlier:24 Comments
Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh (PEP) has issued Realignment Reconsidered a point-by-point rebuttal to the 8-page handout from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, Frequently Asked Questions About Realignment (both documents are PDF files).
The PEP press release: Pittsburgh Episcopal group disputes diocese’s defense of schism
…“Diocesan leaders have been telling parishes that realignment is both proper and innocuous; we believe it is neither,” explained Lionel Deimel, PEP board member and principal author of the new document. “Parishes who trust what they are being told—conveniently packaged by the diocese in “FAQ About Realignment”—risk losing both their parish property and their status within the Anglican Communion.”
According to the new document, “It is the position of The Episcopal Church, supported overwhelmingly by diocesan chancellors and legal scholars, that a diocese cannot properly remove its accession clause from its constitution, nor can it remove itself from The Episcopal Church.” PEP cites events in the Diocese of San Joaquin as evidence that The Episcopal Church will act boldly to protect its interests.
PEP hopes that “Realignment Reconsidered” will encourage Episcopalians in Pittsburgh to examine the risks and benefits of realignment more critically. “It is ironic,” suggests PEP secretary Alfred Mann, “that people want to break away from a church that is so tolerant of different views, but that toleration seems to be one of the characteristics of The Episcopal Church they most dislike.”
Lionel Deimel gives some background to the document here.
Some extracts from the document can be found at Episcopal Café.22 Comments
Affirming Catholicism has published A Response to The Report of the Women Bishops Legislative Drafting Group (The Manchester Report).
The copy of this on their website is here.
The full text of this response is also reproduced here.25 Comments
There is a report in The Monitor (Kampala) by Tabu Butagira headlined Church of Uganda Steps Farther Away Over Gays (via AllAfrica.com)
…By Wednesday last week, at least 108 Ugandans had signed up to attend the June 22-29 symposium in Jerusalem that is expected to attract 1,000 people from 17 provinces of the Anglican Communion in the global south, representing about 35 million active followers.
The Communion has 38 provinces plus related churches representing some 80 million people across the world. Each province is led by a primate.
Forty two Ugandan bishops plus their spouses will be among those who will also visit sacred sites in Jerusalem such as the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane and the Ophel Gardens and Temple steps where it is believed the first Pentecostal, Apostle Peter, preached…
The Rev. Canon Aaron Mwesigye said the upcoming conference will reinforce the faith and remove growing anxiety over the homosexuality and same-sex marriage debate that has pitted the liberal wing of the church against the conservative one.
“The Anglicans in Uganda want to remain steadfast in faith [but] when they begin to hear about things like homosexuality penetrating the Anglican Communion, they get worried that the future of Anglicans is uncertain,” said Canon Mwesigye, the spokesman/provincial secretary of the Church of Uganda.
This says 42 bishops, cf. Church Times report earlier, mentioning 31 bishops.10 Comments
Dave Walker has provided a full roundup of links related to this week’s major legislative event, also known as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.0 Comments
Ekklesia reports on this in Christian charity found to have discriminated on grounds of religion.
An Employment Tribunal in Abergele has today unanimously found in favour of a former employee of a Christian charity who was claiming constructive dismissal and discrimination on grounds of religion or belief.
The Tribunal heard that Prospects, a Christian charity which receives public money for its work with people with learning disabilities, and which had previously employed a number of non-Christian staff and volunteers – including a number who were transferred to them under TUPE Regulations – acted illegally when in 2004 it began recruiting only practising Christians for almost all posts, and told existing non-Christian staff that they were no longer eligible for promotion.
Mr James Boddy, Barrister from 11 King’s Bench Walk Chambers, representing the claimant Mr Mark Sheridan, declared: “This is an important decision because it is the first time an employment tribunal has been called on to decide the extent to which an organisation with a religious ethos is allowed to discriminate on grounds of religion or belief…”
This story was reported in some detail last December, by Ruth Gledhill in The Times see Christian ‘forced to discrimate’ against non-Christian staff and on her blog at Christian claims discrimination ‘on grounds of religion’.
See also the BHA press release, Tribunal victory for employee in landmark religious discrimination case.
And Simon Barrow’s comments are here.
Simon Barrow, co-director of Ekklesia, said: “This judgement ought to make religious charities sit up and think – not just about their legal responsibilities and the morality of non-discrimination, but about the impact of their behaviour on their image with the public at large.”
He continued: “Leaders and entrepreneurs in many faith organisations seem reluctant to embrace a comprehensive equalities agenda, or to recognise their culpability in issues of discrimination. Yet they are often the first to seek exemptions from legislation accepted by others and to complain that they are being ‘attacked’ when criticisms are raised.”
“The Christian message of love and justice is undermined by poor employment and equalities practices in the Christian organisations. This is an opportunity for the churches to get their house in order.”
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about the City Churches in After the fires of London.
Simon Barrow writes for Wardman Wire on The Struggle to be Truthful: Thinking Aloud.
In the Church Times Rebecca Paveley interviewed Gordon Brown, see Not strangers but neighbours.
Giles Fraser wrote that Doctor Who proves the success of the gospel.
The Times has The value of mercy as a means of overcoming anger by Usama Hasan.
The Guardian has Andrew Copson writing about humanism and the school curriculum in Face to faith.10 Comments
Remember that business about letters from the Archbishop of Canterbury to selected bishops? See for example, this earlier article.
Well, now read this in the Living Church Canterbury Calling: Archbishop on the Phone for Lambeth
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ Pentecost letter to the bishops of the Anglican Communion was not the anticipated communication in which he reportedly would ask bishops to predicate their attendace at the Lambeth Conference this summer upon their willingness to accept the recommendations in the Windsor Report.
A spokesman said Archbishop Williams had modified his plan to write to bishops whose stated positions ran contrary to the colleagial gathering of equals he envisions for Lambeth. Instead, Archbishop Williams has been in telephone contact with a number of bishops, asking that they honor the integrity of the meeting, the spokesman told The Church of England Newspaper…
I reported earlier on the letter sent to the Primate of Uganda, Archbishop Henry Orombi.
On Thursday he responded to this. The full text of his letter is below the fold.
Episcopal News Service reported on this in Uganda archbishop responds to Presiding Bishop’s objection to his ‘incursion’ into Georgia by Matthew Davies.41 Comments
Updated again Saturday afternoon
A demonstration against the Bishop of Rochester is planned at Rochester Cathedral on Saturday.
Kent Online reports as follows:
Bishop denies gay prejudice claims – but protest is planned
One of the county’s cathedrals will be the stage for a gay rights group’s demonstration this weekend.
International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) is angry at the Bishop of Rochester’s opposition to an homosexual American bishop attending a key church meeting.
But the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali said he respected all people no matter their sexuality.
A spokesperson for the group said: “The Bishop can change his religion but, just as he cannot change his skin colour, we cannot change our sexuality.”
IDAHO also believes the bishop has opposed gay rights measures such as child adoption by gay partners.
The group will be protesting at Rochester Cathedral on Saturday.
Anglican Mainstream reports that the bishop has issued a statement, though I could not find it on the diocesan website. Here is what AM reports:
A public notice of a demonstration against the Bishop of Rochester has been circulated (see below).
The Bishop of Rochester has responded.
An IDAHO Day demo will be held outside Rochester Cathedral, Medway, Kent from 1200-1300 hrs. The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt. Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, has fairly regularly spoken out against LGBT rights. Late last year he spoke against civil partnerships and child adoption by gay couples. He has since apparently decided not to attend the forthcoming Lambeth Conference, due to be held in Canterbury (University site) in July/August 2008. Mainly it appears due to the gay issue and the position of Bishop Gene Robinson. Bishop Robinson is coming to the conference anyway and we will be challenging the Bishop of Rochester to stay in the UK an go and meet with and talk to Gene in Canterbury.
Further, the Bishop of Rochester has himself suffered and complained about abuse and even death threats because he converted from Islam to Christianity. Since he now knows exactly what such hatred is like, we will be asking why he still feels unable to make common cause with groups such as LGBT people who have are still suffering the same merely because of our sexuality including regularly from religionists. The Bishop can change his religion but, just as he cannot change his skin colour, we cannot change our sexuality. Neither he nor us, nor indeed anyone; should have to uffer abuse, threats or attacks because of such things. All will be welcome to join us whether LGBT or straight friends on the day. The gay run pub The Ship in Rochester High St- a few hundred yards away should be open for refreshments also. PLEASE NOTE THE EMAIL ADDRESS IS FOR USE WITH THIS DEMO ONLY.
Statement regarding the demonstration on 17 May 2008
I acknowledge and respect the equal dignity of all – regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. There is no place for the harassment or persecution of anyone for whatever reason.
We are thankful that in this country there is freedom of meeting and expression for all.
The Bible and the Church teach that the proper expression of our sexuality is in the context of marriage. This has to do with God’s purposes in creating us, respect for persons and the importance of the family as a basic unit of society.
Saturday morning update
The Medway Messenger carries a fuller report, Gay rights group set for cathedral protest concluding with this:
…Medway Police said they were aware of the demonstration. A spokesman said: “We are aware of a planned protest on Saturday and we will police it appropriately.”
May 17 marks the day the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from it’s list of recognised mental illnesses 18 years ago.
The day will also see Kent Police relaunch a telephone line to report homophobic acts…
Saturday afternoon update
And now, there is a much longer report on Kent News headlined Gay rights campaigners to protest at cathedral. This includes a detailed account of how Kent Police are taking seriously the issue of homophobic behaviour. The article was on the front page of the Kentish Saturday Observer as you can see from this PDF file.6 Comments
Bill Bowder has a report in the Church Times today Two months to go and bishops are still checking in.
On Wednesday, numbers stood at 620 of the possible 880 bishops in the Anglican Communion. Officials calculate that about ten per cent of sees are vacant. Nigeria has said that none of its 141 bishops will attend; nor will Uganda’s 31 bishops. This leaves fewer than 20 bishops unaccounted for.”
…The Anglican Communion Office said on Wednesday that it had received no official notification that any of the bishops who had been invited were not attending.
“It is not wise to say who will be there till much closer to the event,” said a spokesman.
So far, 570 spouses have registered for the spouses’ conference.
This week, the organisers of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) said that 280 bishops had registered to attend. GAFCON, a conservative gathering, takes place in Jordan and Jerusalem next month. It is now clear that many bishops plan to attend both conferences.
No mention in this article of others who have said they will not come:
Dave Walker has a nice cartoon here.8 Comments
The bishops of the Anglican Church of Australia recently agreed a Protocol about Women in the Episcopate.
The text of this document can be found as a PDF file on the national church website, here.
It is also reproduced in full below the fold.16 Comments
Press Release – 14th May 2008 for immediate release
Women Clergy Message to Bishops: “Yes” to Women Bishops, but not at any price
In an outspoken statement sent this week to all bishops in the Church of England, nearly half of all licensed women clergy called for no further delay on women bishops, but also, for no further discrimination written into the legislation.
The statement, drawn up by leading women priests, states: “We believe that it should be possible for women to be consecrated as bishop, but not at any price. The price of legal ‘safeguards’ for those opposed is simply too high, diminishing not just the women concerned, but the catholicity, integrity and mission of the episcopate and of the Church as a whole.”
It goes on to say: “We cannot countenance any proposal that would, once again, enshrine and formalise discrimination against women in legislation.” None of the 15 Anglican provinces which have voted for women bishops have included discriminatory legislation.
The statement challenges any suggestion that those who want the simplest statutory provisions do not care for those who remain opposed to women’s ordained ministry, and points to “strong relationships” and to the possibility of a code of practice that make “the passing of a single clause measure realistic in today’s Church, as well as theologically and ecclesiologically cohesive.”
The statement declares that “all bishops should work within clear expectations and codes of practice. The language of “protection” and “safeguard” is offensive to women, and we believe the existing disciplinary procedures are enough for women or men to be brought to account if they behave inappropriately.”
The covering letter, dated 11th May 2008, is signed by Jane Hedges, Canon Steward at Westminster Abbey, Rosemary Lain-Priestley, Secretary of the National Association of Diocesan Advisors in Women’s Ministry and Lucy Winkett, Canon Precentor at St Paul’s Cathedral and more than 500 other ordained women. Since then a further 213 women priests have added their names to the statement, representing nearly half of all ordained women in the Church of England.
Christina Rees (Chair National WATCH)
Revd Canon Lucy Winkett
Revd Vanda Rowe
Revd Canon Jane Hedges
The full text of the statement follows below the fold.74 Comments
The Irish Independent reports under the headline Plea for unity over gay bishop argument that:
The Archbishop of Dublin has urged Church of Ireland members not to split over the issue of ordaining gay men as bishops, which has caused a crisis for the world-wide Anglican Communion.
Speaking last night at the Synod’s annual service in Galway, Archbishop John Neill also suggested that a resolution of the church’s “gay bishop” crisis could be found when the world’s Anglican bishops meet in July for their 10-yearly Lambeth Conference…
The full text of John Neill’s sermon can be found here.
The synod is also reported by Episcopal News Service in Archbishop reflects on Holy Land visit, condemns car bomb attack:
Harper, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland since February 2007, told a news conference following the synod’s opening session that the Church of Ireland remains in communion with every part of the Anglican Communion and spoke about his hopes for this summer’s Lambeth Conference of bishops. “I believe that we will find a way to manage the differences that we have with respect to everyone’s ethically held positions,” he said.
Harper described the July 16-August 3 conference in Canterbury as an opportunity for the bishops “to pray together, to study together, to discuss the problems and issues which are particularly current from their own perspectives and in their own backgrounds, to gain strength from one another, and to recognize in one another a Communion which goes back over many centuries.”
Acknowledging that it has the power to make resolutions, but that the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces are not required to conform to them, Harper said the conference “was never set up as a legislative body and it is not that now. If there is a particular direction that is to be embraced by the whole Communion, it isn’t the Lambeth Conference that makes that decision.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has invited some 880 bishops to attend this year’s gathering. Harper noted that certain bishops and primates have indicated their intention to boycott the Lambeth Conference, but said he expects the once-a-decade gathering to “reinforce the relationships amongst those bishops who attend.”
Also, the full text of Alan Harper’s presidential address to the synod can be found here (PDF).6 Comments
Last week, the Church Times carried a lengthy article in which the Editor, Paul Handley, interviewed the Bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson.
This is now available for all to read, at Never lonelier, never more blessed.5 Comments
This GAFCON press release 1,000 Christian leaders, 280 bishops to GAFCON in Jerusalem has been issued.
Over 1000 senior leaders from seventeen provinces in the Anglican Communion, representing 35 million church-going Anglicans, have registered for the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem at the close of the online registration process. They include 280 bishops, almost all accompanied by their wives. Final attendance figures will depend on smooth processing of requested visas, and other factors.
GAFCON leaders have met in the period leading up to Pentecost with the leaders of Anglican, Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic churches and Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews in Jerusalem to brief them on the nature and purpose of GAFCON. GAFCON is concerned to affirm the continuing presence of the Church in the Holy Land.
Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney, the chair of the Programme Committee reports that the programme is almost complete. “Our programme will focus on the transforming love of Christ. We will be drawing from the scriptures of the Old and New Testament in our pilgrimage, and their relevance to the challenges facing the church globally today. These include secularism, other religions, poverty and HIV/Aids as well as moral and theological issues.”
Pilgrims will visit traditional sites in Jerusalem during the pilgrimage June 22 – 29, 2008 including Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane and the Ophel Gardens and Temple steps where at the first Pentecost Peter preached and people of all nations responded. The 1000 pilgrims will travel to Bethlehem to the Church of the Nativity and Shepherds’ Field, and then to Galilee.
The goals of the GAFCON conference in Jerusalem are to:
1. Provide an opportunity for fellowship as well as to continue to experience and proclaim the transforming love of Christ.
2. Develop a renewed understanding of our identity as Anglican Christians.
3. Prepare for an Anglican future in which the Gospel is uncompromised and Christ-centered mission a top priority. Pentecost 2008
This release does not mention Jordan, but the conference brochure (PDF) does refer to “An initial consultation in Jordan…”39 Comments
Updated Thursday evening
Scroll down for the response by Archbishop Orombi
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has written to Archbishop Henry Orombi.
See Episcopal News Service Ugandan primate’s ‘incursion’ into Georgia violates Windsor Report, Presiding Bishop notes.
Archbishop of Uganda Henry Orombi’s actions to visit a Savannah congregation on May 14 without the invitation of Episcopal Bishop of Georgia Henry Louttit “violate the spirit and letter of the work of the Windsor Report, and only lead to heightened tensions,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wrote in a May 12 letter to Orombi.
“We are more than willing to receive you for conversation, dialogue, and reconciliation, yet you continue to act without speaking with us,” Jefferts Schori wrote in her letter sent by email. “I hope and pray that you might respond to our invitation and meet with representatives of this Church.”
But noting that Orombi’s planned visit comes without Louttit’s invitation, “I must protest this unwarranted incursion into The Episcopal Church,” Jefferts Schori wrote in her letter.
According to reports, Orombi plans to meet May 14 with clergy and laity who voted in October 2007 to disaffiliate with the Episcopal Church. The group continues to occupy historic Christ Church, Savannah, while the continuing Episcopal congregation meets at Savannah’s Church of St. Michael and All Angels. Christ Church, Savannah, dates from 1733.
The full text of Jefferts Schori’s letter follows.
May 12, 2008
The Most Revd Henry Luke Orombi
Archbishop of Uganda and Bishop of Kampala
PO Box 14123
My dear brother,
I understand from advertising here that you plan to visit a congregation in the Diocese of Georgia on 14 May of this year. The diocesan, Bishop Henry Louttit, has not given any invitation for you to do so, nor received any information from you about your planned visit. I must protest this unwarranted incursion into The Episcopal Church. I am concerned that you seem to feel it appropriate to visit, preach, and exercise episcopal ministry within the territory of this Church, and I wonder how you would receive similar behavior in Uganda. These actions violate the spirit and letter of the work of the Windsor Report, and only lead to heightened tensions. We are more than willing to receive you for conversation, dialogue, and reconciliation, yet you continue to act without speaking with us. I hope and pray that you might respond to our invitation and meet with representatives of this Church.
Your servant in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori
Bishop Henry Louttit
Archbishop Rowan Williams
Update Thursday evening
Archbishop Henry Orombi has responded to this letter in an email published at Stand Firm which you can read here.20 Comments
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has today sent an open letter to the bishops of the Anglican Communion, in advance of the Lambeth Conference.
The full text of the letter is online and can also be found below:
The Feast of Pentecost is a time when we give thanks that God, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, makes us able to speak to each other and to the whole world of the wonderful things done in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a good moment to look forward prayerfully to the Lambeth Conference, asking God to pour out the Spirit on all of us as we make ready for this time together, so that we shall indeed be given grace to speak boldly in his Name.
I indicated in earlier letters that the shape of the Conference will be different from what many have been used to. We have listened carefully to those who have expressed their difficulties with Western and parliamentary styles of meeting, and the Design Group has tried to find a new style – a style more reflective of that Pentecost moment when all received the gift of speaking freely about Christ.
At the heart of this will be the indaba groups. Indaba is a Zulu word describing a meeting for purposeful discussion among equals. Its aim is not to negotiate a formula that will keep everyone happy but to go to the heart of an issue and find what the true challenges are before seeking God’s way forward. It is a method with parallels in many cultures, and it is close to what Benedictine monks and Quaker Meetings seek to achieve as they listen quietly together to God, in a community where all are committed to a fellowship of love and attention to each other and to the word of God.
Each day’s work in this context will go forward with careful facilitation and preparation, to ensure that all voices are heard (and many languages also!). The hope is that over the two weeks we spend together, these groups will build a level of trust that will help us break down the walls we have so often built against each other in the Communion. And in combination with the intensive prayer and fellowship of the smaller Bible study groups, all this will result, by God’s grace, in clearer vision and discernment of what needs to be done.
As I noted when I wrote to you in Advent, this makes it all the more essential that those who come to Lambeth will arrive genuinely willing to engage fully in that growth towards closer unity that the Windsor Report and the Covenant Process envisage. We hope that people will not come so wedded to their own agenda and their local priorities that they cannot listen to those from other cultural backgrounds. As you may have gathered, in circumstances where there has been divisive or controversial action, I have been discussing privately with some bishops the need to be wholeheartedly part of a shared vision and process in our time together.
Of course, as baptised Christians and pastors of Christ’s flock, we are not just seeking some low-level consensus, or a simple agreement to disagree politely. We are asking for the fire of the Spirit to come upon us and deepen our sense that we are answerable to and for each other and answerable to God for the faithful proclamation of his grace uniquely offered in Jesus. That deepening may be painful in all kinds of ways. The Spirit does not show us a way to by-pass the Cross. But only in this way shall we truly appear in the world as Christ’s Body as a sign of God’s Kingdom which challenges a world scarred by poverty, violence and injustice.
The potential of our Conference is great. The focus of all we do is meant to be strengthening our Communion and equipping all bishops to engage more effectively in mission; only God the Holy Spirit can bind us together in lasting and Christ-centred way, and only God the Holy Spirit can give us the words we need to make Christ truly known in our world. So we must go on praying hard with our people that the Spirit will bring these possibilities to fruition as only he can. Those who have planned the Conference have felt truly touched by that Spirit as they have worked together, and I know that their only wish is that what they have outlined for us will enable others to experience the same renewal and delight in our fellowship.
This is an ambitious event – ambitious for God and God’s Kingdom, which is wholly appropriate for a Lambeth Conference. And our ambition is nothing less than renewal and revival for us all in the Name of Jesus and the power of his Spirit.
May that Spirit be with you daily in your preparation for our meeting. As Our Lord says, ‘You know him, for he lives with and will be in you’ (Jn 14.17).
+ Rowan Cantuar16 Comments
Tomorrow the House of Commons begins debating the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, an updated version of the current legislation which became law in 1990.
See Embryology Bill: the key points at the BBC.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has written in the Mail on Sunday about the issues involved, see We condemn torture, rape – anything that uses another’s body for our own purpose – Shouldn’t we show embryos similar respect?
Update The same Daily Mail text is now on the Lambeth Palace site as well.
Here is the earlier TA report on what was said when the House of Lords considered this bill.
Rather surprisingly, the Medical Research Council is discouraging scientists from attending Parliament, see BBC Scientists’ protest discouraged.29 Comments
Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times about The celestial fire that brings us new life and inspiration.
Chris Duggan writes in the Guardian about our ecological sins. See Face to faith.
Christopher Howse writes in the Daily Telegraph about Boris Johnson and the Holy Trinity.
Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about Maude Royden in Do people need saving from this?
At Ekklesia there are several items. First, and rather belatedly, a link to a paper published some weeks ago by Savi Hensman under the heading Listening and learning in the sexuality debate.
Jonathan Bartley asks Are Christians facing discrimination?
Simon Barrow writes a column titled Land of hope and glory?
And, finally, over in the Spectator there is an article by Theo Hobson ‘It’s Harder For Straights To Feel Christian Charity Than Gays’9 Comments