Giles Fraser Church Times No tasks left for the risen Jesus
Christopher Howse Telegraph The earth and the Son of Man
Several items from the Guardian’s Comment is free section.
David Bryant Guardian: Comment is free Face to Faith Tolerance of other faiths is not enough – we must strive for true acceptance
Chris Liley Guardian: Comment is free Why I chased the BNP from my cathedral
Giles Fraser St George the immigrant
Jonathan Sacks Times Credo: Sunday shopping has not made us better or happier50 Comments
As noted in the preceding item, the Church Times has reported that the Covenant is to be used as litmus test of Anglicanism.
Now, the Daily Episcopalian asks a related question, The Anglican Covenant: Dar by other means?
Jim Naughton writes:
Is it possible that proposed Anglican Covenant is a means of achieving a modified version of the Dar es Salaam settlement proposed by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in 2007?
The communiqué released after that meeting proposed a “pastoral scheme”, which created a church within a church led by almost exactly the same bishops who signed the factually challenged document on diocesan autonomy released yesterday by the Anglican Communion Institute.
The ACI, with Fulcrum in the United Kingdom, were influential in creating the pastoral scheme and articulating the Camp Allen principles that were also endorsed by the Primates. The Dar settlement was almost unanimously rejected by the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops, (which, as Sally Johnson chancellor to Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies, has demonstrated, did not have the constitutional authority to affirm it.) Despite its rejection, the leaders of the ACI continued to press for its provisions to be imposed on the Episcopal Church, even though the Dar settlement makes no provisions for this eventuality, and the Primates Meeting lacks the authority to force settlements on member Churches…
The Church Times reported:
…The Anglican Partner bishops have declared themselves to be loyal to the Episcopal Church and to the Anglican Communion. Their move can be seen as an alternative path to that taken by the Common Cause Anglicans in the United States, who last year established the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) under the deposed Bishop of Pittsburgh, the Rt Revd Bob Duncan.
None the less, their latest move to use the Covenant as a test of orthodoxy parallels moves by the ACNA last week. The Covenant has been criticised by conservatives in the past, and the first version of a communiqué issued by the GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) Primates in London last week appeared to be sceptical about the latest draft of the Covenant (the “Ridley draft”, News, 17 April): “While we support the concept of an Anglican Covenant . . . if those who have left the standards of the Bible are able to enter the Covenant with a good conscience, it seems to be of little use.”
This was later changed to: “We welcome the Ridley Cambridge Draft Covenant and call for principled response from the provinces.”
Interviewed at Heathrow on Thursday of last week, Bishop Duncan said that the Covenant would be debated at the ACNA provincial assembly in June. “We imagine that, while we as the Anglican Church in North Ameri-can ratify the Covenant, neither the US Church, when it meets three weeks later, nor the Church of Canada, when it has its next general synod, will be in any hurry to ratify it. The question will be for the Communion: ‘Who actually are the partners?’”
The Church Times has this report by Pat Ashworth US contingency plan asserts diocesan autonomy and there is a second, related report Covenant is to be used as litmus test of Anglicanism.
The first article has moved on the CT website: please follow the above link, and then scroll down, in order to find the first article above!
Matthew Davies has written about it for ENS see Communion Partners statement challenges Episcopal Church polity.
The Chicago Consultation has issued this Response to Anglican Communion Institute statement.
The Living Church has a report, Bishops: Church’s Doctrine, Worship, Polity in ‘Grave Peril’.
Mark Harris who first broke this story, has written a second note, Cleaning out the Stalls.6 Comments
The predicted statement has now been published.
See Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church, at the ACI website.
There is also a separate item there, Statement from the Anglican Communion Institute signed only by The Revd Canon Professor Christopher Seitz. This responds to the original publication of email extracts by The Revd Canon Mark Harris.
The entire email correspondence has now been published as a PDF file over here.
Earlier, an unofficial copy of the formal ACI document was published, also as a PDF here.
The Bishops’ Statement has been signed by 15 bishops. The list is as follows:
Also Endorsed By:
– The Reverend Canon Professor Christopher Seitz
– The Reverend Dr. Philip Turner
– The Reverend Dr. Ephraim Radner
(The Anglican Communion Institute, Inc.)
The name of Mark McCall, the actual author, does not appear in the published document.
According to the emails and the draft version of the document, the following four additional signatures were sought:
list amended Thursday morning
The Right Reverend John C. Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee
The Right Reverend Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of Rhode Island
The Right Reverend Gary R. Lillibridge, Bishop of West Texas
The Right Reverend C. Andrew Doyle, Bishop Coadjutor of Texas
Various blogs have commented on this story, including:
In A Godward Direction BS from ACI
BabyBlue Draft of Communion Partners Statement on the Polity of The Episcopal Chuch is seized and leaked by Episcopal progressive activists
Integrity Integrity Applauds “Outing” of Communion Partners Network
Telling Secrets Anglican Teabagging
Episcopal Café ACI releases statement and Breaking III: Integrity publishes CP/ACI draft document
Articles of Faith Episcopal email conspiracy unwrapped
Washington Blade Episcopal leaders look to enhance anti-gay schism: source
An Inch At A Time: Reflections on the Journey Nancy Drew and The Case of the Errant Anglican Emails added Thursday morning29 Comments
Updated Thursday evening
From this press release, Further update on the Clergy Pensions Scheme – Recession forces contribution increase.
“However the Pensions Board judged that on the basis of what is now known it could not responsibly leave the existing funding in place until 2011 when any changes to the contribution rate resulting from the next formal valuation would be implemented. The Board has therefore decided that the contribution rate will need to be increased from its current 39.7% to 45% of the pensionable stipend with effect from 1 January 2010.
Read the whole statement.
Dave Walker knows how the problem can be solved.7 Comments
The arguments being put forward by Communion Partners about the autonomy of TEC dioceses apply also of course to those dioceses which now claim to have left TEC. And the ACI is clearly aware that the forthcoming CP statement could be used in the litigation which is ensuing in relation to those dioceses (San Joaquin, Fort Worth, Quincy, and Pittsburgh). Here are three further quotes from the same thread of emails:
…by ‘support’ do you mean, support for the Bishops signing this document to be posted at ACI and used in the Pittsburgh case? Mark McCall can evaluate that better than I, but in terms of sending a message about where the CP Rectors are, this could I think be helpful. It will not go out as a CP Bishops statement, however, but rather as a statement endorsed by individual Bishops, all of whom are of course also CP Bishops.
…On the second purpose of the Bishops’ Statement—to serve as a resource for the litigation and the expert testimony—the general principle is the more support the better, although on this front, it is the bishops’ signatures that matter the most. The only thing that would hurt is a format that implies more signatures should have been attached, e.g., if your statement were open to all rectors but only a handful actually signed on.
…there were significant developments in the Pittsburgh litigation while we were in Houston. There was a flurry of filings and a ruling yesterday permitting +Buchanan (with Beers as counsel) to intervene. This is merely a procedural ruling. Beers now has to prove what he has alleged (subordination, etc.). As some of you know, I have always regarded this procedural ruling as a foregone conclusion, but +Duncan’s counsel opposed it vigorously. I was somewhat concerned that they were wasting credibility with the judge, but they know this better than I. There will still be substantial procedural wrangling in Pittsburgh over the terms of the settlement agreement reached three years ago between +Duncan and Harold Lewis+, so the substantive issues we are concerned with will come up later in Pittsburgh than in San Joaquin. I believe, however, that the failure of the procedural tactic by +Duncan’s lawyers means that these substantive issues will eventually be decisive in Pittsburgh. (I have a great deal of respect for +Duncan’s current lawyer, John Lewis. He is trying to get out of a deep hole dug by Duncan’s former counsel in the disastrous Harold Lewis litigation. Bishop Duncan has been badly served in the past by my profession.)
So it is not entirely clear to me how far the CP members are distancing themselves from those who have left TEC for ACNA.
John Chilton has drawn attention at Episcopal Café to the signature of The Rt. Reverend D. Bruce MacPherson (Communion Partner Bishops) on the document at ACI entitled ACI Statement on Civil Litigation which deals specifically with the TEC intervention in the legal action in Pittsburgh.11 Comments
The two organisations jointly sponsored a conference last week in Houston, Texas. You can find more information about the conference here, and in this Living Church news report, Archbishop Carey: TEC Likely to ‘Clean Out’ Conservatives.
Their own About Us page says:
In light of our understanding of the integrity of the Dioceses of The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Visitors concept announced by the Presiding Bishop, we have considered a need to maintain and strengthen
- our ties with the Anglican Communion
- our fidelity to the canonical realities, integrities and structures of the Episcopal Church
- and our exercise of our office as a focus of unity.
We believe such ties will provide the opportunity for mutual support, accountability and fellowship; and present an important sign of our connectedness in and vision for the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as we move through this time of stress and renewal.
And the page also discusses Purpose, Scope, Participants, and Transparency. The Primates listed are: Tanzania, West Indies, Jerusalem and Middle East, Burundi, Indian Ocean.
Earlier statements published in the name of the CP group include Common Cause and a New Province.
CP and ACI now intend to publish a formal document shortly, signed by perhaps 18 CP bishops, entitled Bishops’ Statement on the Polity of the Episcopal Church which argues in detail that TEC is not a hierarchical body and that individual dioceses are autonomous entities. In particular they argue that individual dioceses are free to sign up to the proposed Anglican Covenant, and that it is not necessary to leave TEC and join ACNA in order to do that. The presumption here is that TEC itself will not do so, or at least not in 2009.
Mark Harris has reported on the existence of a thread of emails about this plan, see Heads Up: Lawyer McCall and “Communion Partner” bishops play the diocese card.
The CP bishops and ACI also plan to press ahead with a plan for a priest in Colorado, named as The Revd. Theron Walker, Rector of St Philip In the Field, Sedalia, to request a visitation from the Bishop of South Carolina, as a CP Bishop. Below the fold, are extracts from two of the emails which give full details of this.17 Comments
Pat Ashworth in the Church Times wrote an article, Autonomy emphasised in new Covenant draft.
Bishop Pierre Whalon wrote an analysis for Anglicans Online Covenanting to covenant.
Both are recommended reading.10 Comments
Updated again Monday evening
The Church Times reports exclusively on what was said at a press conference that nobody else attended.
See GAFCON Primates hear of ‘two religions’ in the United States by Paul Handley.
See also the article, already linked yesterday, The Anglican schism widens quietly at Cif belief.
Jim Naughton disagreed with Paul’s conclusions, see GAFCON thunders. The media yawn.
And GAFCON itself had two press releases: GAFCON Communiqué issued – ACNA recognized and earlier GAFCON Primates meet in London with North American Bishops. There were some shenanigans surrounding the wording of one of these, read, Dog bites man.
Episcopal News Service had Conservative Anglican primates recognize proposed North American entity by Matthew Davies.
George Conger reported it for the Living Church under GAFCON Primates Back New North American Province.
Dave Walker has drawn a picture of this event, see the Church Times blog entry here.25 Comments
Updated Monday morning
The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh reports that:
A judge has ruled in the Diocese’s favor on several points in its legal dispute with former leaders over the control of diocesan assets.
In a hearing today, April 17, 2009, Judge Joseph James of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, allowed Diocesan Chancellor Andy Roman’s appearance as the attorney for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church. The judge also granted a motion by The Episcopal Church to intervene in the case.
Both matters had been challenged in earlier court filing by attorneys representing former Bishop Robert Duncan and others who left the Episcopal Church last October.
The judge proceeded to order a hearing on the central issue before him, namely, whether a 2005 Court Order and Stipulation agreed to by Duncan and Calvary Episcopal Church requires that diocesan property must remain under the control of a diocese that is part of The Episcopal Church. Attorneys on both sides agreed the question of whether a diocese may leave the Episcopal Church will be reserved for a later hearing and decision, if necessary…
Read the full report at Judge Allows Chancellor’s Role, Episcopal Church Intervention.
Compare this account with the press release found on the website of the “Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican)” emphasis added:
On April 17, lawyers for the diocese attended a hearing before Judge James in Pittsburgh, together with lawyers for Calvary Church, lawyers representing The Episcopal Church (TEC) diocese, and lawyers representing the leadership of the national Episcopal Church.
All parties, including the lawyers for the leadership of national Episcopal Church, agreed that there will be hearing based on the assumption that the diocese’s withdrawal from The Episcopal Church was valid. At that hearing, the court will address whether the October 2004 stipulation in the Calvary Church lawsuit was violated by a valid withdrawal of the diocese from The Episcopal Church. No date for the hearing has yet been set…
Lionel Deimel has additional commentary at A Hearing at Last.
The Living Church reported it this way: Flurry of Motions in Pittsburgh Case.10 Comments
Giles Fraser Church Times Liberation at the heart of Easter
Christopher Howse Telegraph A Christian world under Islam’s rule
Paul Handley Comment is free Belief The Anglican schism widens quietly
Roderick Strange Times Credo: When doubt is not an enemy but an ally of faith8 Comments
Updated 24 April
Episcopal Café reports that:
On Tuesday, April 14, 2009, the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the Episcopal Church filed suit in 141st District Court of Tarrant County, Texas in part to recover property and assets of the Episcopal Church. The defendants are former members of the corporation’s board and the former bishop of the diocese, all of whom have left the Episcopal Church.
For the diocesan press release, and a statement by the Presiding Bishop, go here.
To read the petition filed in court, as a PDF, go over here. (1.1 Mb)
The story has been reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as National Episcopal Church sues Fort Worth group over split.
And in the Dallas Morning News it is described as Episcopal Church sues to regain control of Fort Worth-area buildings held by breakaway group.
24 April update
A news report of this event appeared yesterday at the website of the defendants, see Lawsuit served on the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. The earlier comment made by Bishop Iker is here.6 Comments
Some years ago I was attending a Church of Ireland service in a country town on Good Friday. The service was long and, for me, without any particular focus. Yes, there was a rather mechanistic reading of the Passion, but the rest of it was just Morning Prayer. The congregation was tiny, my own presence accounted for a double figure percentage. And the theme of the sermon (curiously in my view, given the day that was in it) was ‘the empty cross’. The clergyman was of the view that the use of the crucifix was unscriptural, in that ‘the point of Good Friday was the empty cross at Easter’ (I think I have remembered his phrase precisely).
I remembered all that this year when, on the radio, I heard another Irish Anglican clergyman make a similar point about the crucifix, but he also added a more general comment about the cross: he didn’t like it at all. Not terribly original of course: a number of commentators have argued that the Cross as a symbol may be turning off potential new members of the church, that it may be a rather garish and cruel instrument and may, as some have suggested, ‘carry too much baggage’. This kind of approach was lampooned back in the 1980s by the satirical puppet show on Channel 4 television, Spitting Image; they had the then Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, deciding to drop the Cross as the Christian symbol in favour of the Tambourine.
For me, there is something important about the edginess of the Cross, with the Corpus of Our Lord. Yes, it is dramatic and in-your-face, but maybe that is a welcome antidote to the growing blandness of religion, and in particular of religiosity. Yes, it has ‘baggage’, but then again that’s what Christianity has. The Cross is not supposed to convey an empty message, but a message of hope that has meaning because of what it is set against. It is not a message for a vanilla world.
So even in this Easter season our Cross is not empty. What happened has not been reversed, it has been brought to its full conclusion.11 Comments
Lucy Winkett Telegraph As the bad news gets worse, the Good News keeps getting better
Rowan Williams Mail on Sunday Archbishop on Easter – Article for the Mail on Sunday.
Rowan Williams Lambeth Palace The Archbishop’s Easter Sermon
John Sentamu Sunday Times New life, new spirit
Giles Fraser Guardian The merciful crucifixion
Jane Williams Cif Belief God’s life is inexhaustible
Jonathan Bartley CifBelief Easter and anarchy30 Comments
Angels? Supernatural 1.
Woman finds gardener.
Hint: THE gardener,
Creator of heaven and earth.
Mary. He calls her name.
She reaches out to him.
He says no, don’t touch.
He is risen from the dead.
Supernatural 2. Mega supernatural.
I am ascending to my Father.
– o – o – o –
Jesus is dead, laid in the tomb. And God does something utterly different. God brings the corpse back to life and transforms him, not just restoring life but making him different. This is a new creation, similar to but different from a human body, similar in some ways to the angels, but different again.
The Resurrection is not natural. The Resurrection is not normal. God breaks in and breaks all the laws. This is supernature. And it makes no sense in our disenchanted world. In our world, we have left no room for the supernatural. When we find it, we deny it and find all sorts of explanations to make it safe.
I have read all the arguments about the resurrection being about the new life of the early Christian community, or the way the evangelists chose to tell the story – so many attempts to conform to the spirit of the age.
But I don’t want to edit out or play down the supernatural – in my life or in my world or in God’s engagement with that, least of all in the Resurrection. To rationalise the Resurrection is to reduce it, diminish it.
Christ is risen! He is Risen indeed! Really He is. Alleluia!
(And yes, I have been reading Charles Taylor, A Secular Age.)52 Comments
Updated Easter Monday morning
American sources dominate so far.
The Living Church has Latest Covenant Draft Vests Adoption and Discipline with Provinces.
Episcopal News Service has Covenant design team sends ‘best possible draft’ to Anglican Consultative Council.
The TitusOneNine thread referenced in the above articles is here.
Covenant-Communion also has extensive comment. See First Impressions of the Ridley Cambridge Draft of an Anglican Covenant and Is ACNA one of the “other Churches” the Anglican Covenant addresses?
Lionel Deimel has produced a PDF file titled Scripture References for the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the Anglican Communion Covenant.
Adrian Worsfold aka Pluralist has written at Episcopal Café, see The Covenant giveth and the Covenant taketh away. His final para:
This Anglican Covenant now acknowledges the potential for change, if all it wants to do is get international Instruments to direct and defer – without directing and probably not achieving any deferring. What a document! This Covenant is a completely contradictory mess, and the best place for it is the bin.
John Polkinghorne writes in The Times about Motivated belief and the stringent search for truth.
And Tom Wright writes there also, see The Church must stop trivialising Easter.
Nick Jowett writes in the Guardian about the tradition of laughter at Easter.
Alan Wilson wrote on Comment is free: Belief about hearing the Easter story as if for the first time. Read Just tell Olive to get stuffed.
Jonathan Bartley wrote in last week’s Church Times about how the Church is in danger of undermining its own message. Read Actions speak louder than words.
Yesterday’s leading article in The Times is related to the preceding item, see The spiritual challenge.15 Comments
Ignatius of Loyola, in his Spiritual Exercises, departs from the normal prayer structure for the Exercises-equivalent of Holy Saturday. Rather than pray four or five times as usual, he recommends praying the Passion once at midnight, again on rising, and then spending the rest of the day pondering Christ’s actual death, as well as imagining the loneliness felt by Mary and the disciples.
At first blush, it’s a sensible suggestion: take time to let Jesus’s death sink in. But at second blush, it is striking that Ignatius recommends, in effect, that we not even try to pray — not formally at least — but that we ponder and reflect instead.
Of course, if you’ve spent a week imaginatively meditating on the Passion, trying to stay alongside Jesus in his suffering, then his death does interrupt everything. With Jesus dead, Christian prayer doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Praying to the Father through the Son in the Spirit doesn’t work — unless you anticipate the resurrection.
Just as most of the Church does not celebrate the Eucharist on this day, so it is no surprise that Ignatius counsels against praying on this day. Instead, Ignatius suggests that we let the bottom fall out of our world too, just as it would have done for Mary, for the other faithful women, and for the apostles. He wants us to experience Jesus’s death without anticipating the resurrection. True, he is setting the stage for the next day’s prayer, when we ask to share in Jesus’s own joy at his resurrection, but the reality of Jesus’s death has to be plumbed first to make space for his own exquisite joy.
Some people might not appreciate such a suspension of the truth (of the resurrection) as a spiritual good. How could good come out of pretending not to believe something that you do actually believe? How do you even do that psychologically? But Ignatius is simply asking us to attend to the story as it unfolds, even if the story is familiar. And attending to Jesus’s all too real death is something many of us need to work at, not least to get over our inability to let Jesus be truly human, let alone truly dead. Unless we let him die, we lose out on Jesus’s own joy, his own gratitude, his own amazement, his desire to share his joy.
So if you’re wondering what to do this Holy Saturday, why not spend the whole day imagining that Jesus is dead. Go through the day, doing whatever it is that one does on a Saturday, but do so as if he has not been resurrected. Forget about the ‘not yet’. Go through the day as if his death had been the end of the story. Imagine everything Jesus said and did, imagine the promise of it all, but then also imagine that he was killed for it. But don’t anticipate. Ignore the speculative metaphysics of souls, and let him be utterly dead.
If you must sneak a prayer in, pray to God for some measure of desolation; pray for a real sense of spiritual numbness and darkness; pray for a sense of infinite grief; pray to experience the loss of any ground to prayer — pray even to be unable to pray. And then wait … for the darkness of the Vigil.3 Comments
Today is a stark day, dominated by the image of a young man tortured to death. It poses us with terrifying options.
It may be that there is no meaning in the universe. That the savage beauty of this earth has no purpose. Human love is as futile as human hate. The suffering made for and by human kind in Rwanda, in Auschwitz, in Guantanamo, will not be blamed or redeemed or transformed. The love and courage of lone voices raised in protest will not be praised and valued. This young man, dying a stone’s throw from the noisy city, is deluded and his cry that God has forsaken him is no more than a fragment of the terrible truth, for there is no God and he was never the beloved son.
There is another option. There is a God, who sustains the whole world. He is a God so hugely bigger than our hearts can truly grasp that he has created a world where suffering and pain is, in one shape or another, the lot of us all. Yet we are not alone in that suffering, for he is in it with us. This same God is here in agony in this young man, suffering just about the worst that human kind can devise. He undertakes this willingly in order to bring about the paradigm transformation. His anguish will bring back purpose. He will give value to the pain of all sufferers by offering them a sea change from victim to health giver. He will transform not just the terrible hurt of the crucifixion, but every other hurt into which he is allowed. In his own way, he will change everything.
He will judge the oppressors and condemn their acts by his very conversion of them from destruction into new birth. He offers to all the opportunity for meaning in every action, calling them a possibility at once joyful and intimidating in its vast scale.
Today is a pivotal day. We stand before the cross to make decisions.
Hope is more terrifying than despair.5 Comments
The BBC has an interview with Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester. Watch it via this report: Islam row bishop ‘has no regrets’
A leading Church of England bishop who is to resign after 15 years in the post said he has no regrets about controversial statements he has made.
The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, said his decision to resign was a spiritual one.
The Church’s first non-white diocesan bishop is set to retire in September.
Last year, he received death threats after saying some areas of the UK had become no-go areas for non-Muslims because of Islamic extremism.
In an exclusive interview with the BBC, Mr [sic] Nazir-Ali said he had no regrets about anything he has said in the past.
The bishop, who turns 60 in August, said he still stood by his claims made earlier in his career that “extreme forces” presented a grave threat to Britain’s way of life and culture.
Dr Nazir-Ali said the reason he decided to resign was because of a message from God which said it was time to do “something else”…
The Lagos Guardian has an article by Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria. Read it at Another Wake Up Call To The People Of God.
THAT the Christian Church is today facing challenges on many fronts is an understatement. As the world is suffering a time of great economic distress, churches are dividing over the authority of the Bible and the place of the ancient creeds of the Christian Church. We are literally torn apart over issues pertaining to human sexuality, sin and salvation. And as we prepare to celebrate Easter, many among us are confused about the physical resurrection of Jesus the Christ from the grave, and some will hear Easter sermons which will tickle their ears with curious doctrines designed to gain favour in a post modern generation.
Added to these complications and challenges is the global growth and agenda of a resurgent Islam. No longer are the painful experiences of Christians who are suffering at the hands of Islam confined to Africa, Asia and the Middle East, they are increasing and alarmingly occurring in the West…