Thinking Anglicans

ACNA: questions on a postcard

Tobias Haller has composed some pithy questions that member of General Synod might care to ponder about ACNA:

Please consider the following for a moment:

1) What would be done in the Church of England if a bishop from the convocation of Canterbury were to announce one day that he no longer considered himself to be under the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury and had transferred his allegiance to the Archbishop of Tanzania, but intended to remain in his present location and exercise episcopal functions as a representative of his new archbishop?

2) What would be done in the Church of England in the case of a priest who announced that he no longer recognized his diocesan bishop as having any authority over him, but refused to relinquish his cure? And if he invited bishops from other dioceses or provinces to do parish visitations there?

3) What would be done in the Church of England if the clergy and parish council of a parish in, shall we say, Dibley, announced that it was no longer part of the Church of England, but considered itself now to be a congregation of the Church of the Province of the Sudan, altered all of their signage and other public information to reflect this change, purporting now to be part of “The Anglican Church in England” and invited bishops from the Sudan to function in the parish, refusing to have anything more to do with their C. of E. diocese or its leadership?

These are the kinds of things The Episcopal Church is having to deal with, as facts on the ground. Any depositions, inhibitions, or lawsuits are a result of and in response to precisely these sorts of actions. Consider carefully how you vote on the motion to come before you. You may soon be dealing with just such situations yourself.


General Synod – business done Monday

A summary of Monday’s business at General Synod is online.

General Synod – Summary of Business Conducted on Monday 8th February 2010 PM

There are links to audio of the proceedings.

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The Episcopal Church and the ACNA

The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs
February 4, 2010

The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA)

The following is one in a series of talking points prepared as a resource for The Episcopal Church.

Talking Points:

The Episcopal Church and the ACNA

The facts about The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA).

  • The Episcopal Church is over 7400 congregations in 109 dioceses plus three regional areas in 16 countries with 2.2 million members.
  • It is important to note that membership in ACNA includes churches and denominations which have disassociated from The Episcopal Church both recently and over the last 130 years, as well as congregations which have never been part of The Episcopal Church. A definitive number is difficult to ascertain.
  • ACNA is led by an archbishop who is not a member of The Episcopal Church, The Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, or The Anglican Communion.
  • The Episcopal Church laity and clergy believe the Christian faith as stated in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. We call the Holy Scriptures the Word of God because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Bible. We look to the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church in the understanding of the Scriptures. Our assurance as Christians is that nothing, not even death, shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • The Episcopal Church welcomes all who wish to serve God through Jesus Christ.
  • The Episcopal Church welcomes women in ordained ministry – deacons, priests and bishops. The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church is the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to lead The Episcopal Church as well as any of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion. ACNA does not permit women to serve as bishops and, in some areas, bars women from all ordination.
  • The Episcopal Church is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, serving God together and working together to bring the Reign of God on earth. ACNA is not a member of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.
  • It is important to note that those who have remained in The Episcopal Church in those places where some have left include conservatives as well as liberals, persons on the political right as well as on the political left, and everything in between.
  • It is an inaccurate and misleading image that pictures those who have broken away from The Episcopal Church as the persecuted faithful, when in reality those who have remained have felt deeply hurt, and now in some cases are exiled from their own church buildings by ACNA.

Tales from ACNA-land

Scott Gunn has posted a series of blog articles recently commenting on various matters relating to ACNA.

Some examples:

Putting the shoe on your foot

“Church Militant” gets new meaning

Duncan says Canterbury is “lost”


Equality Bill notes

Some exchanges from the House of Commons last Thursday:

Kitty Ussher (Burnley) (Lab): … I know that my right hon. and learned Friend shares my view that it is wrong that religious organisations should be able to discriminate against, for example, gay people or women who apply for non-religious posts in those organisations. She will also know that a Government amendment on that subject was defeated recently in the other place. Will she therefore take this opportunity to clarify for hon. Members whether she will reintroduce such an amendment when the Equality Bill returns to the Commons?
Ms Harman: I thank my hon. Friend for raising this matter. The Government’s policy is clear and has not changed. Our view remains that religious organisations employing people should comply with the law that applies to all other employers, whether that is the requirement to have written contracts, pay sick pay or the minimum wage, or the requirement not to sack people unfairly or discriminate against them. However, our position has always been that for specifically religious work—as a vicar, priest, rabbi or imam—religious organisations would be exempt from non-discrimination law. A religious organisation cannot discriminate against gay people or women when it hires a bookkeeper, but it can when choosing a minister of religion.
The amendment that we proposed in the House of Lords did not intend to change that policy position. What it sought to do was make the distinction between religious and non-religious jobs clearer. The Lords did not regard our amendment as helpful. We will therefore leave the law as it is, and not bring the amendment back to this House. The law will remain as it was: in anti-discrimination law there is an exemption for religious jobs but not for non-religious jobs.

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): With regard to what the Leader of the House said earlier about the Equality Bill, she will know that concern was expressed in the other place that her amendments were so tightly drawn that they could have encompassed even the Archbishop of York, because he spends a lot of his time working in the community, not just proclaiming the liturgy. Being positive, and now that the Government are not overturning their defeats, can we take it that the Government now accept the principle that the Churches must be allowed to regulate their own clergy according to their own conscience?
Ms Harman: The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. We never sought to, or indeed even unintentionally, propose non-discrimination laws covering bishops, rabbis, archbishops or priests. In the 2003 non-discrimination employment regulations, we explicitly allowed for an exemption for those involved in religious ministry, so I am sorry that he has taken the opportunity to spread a misapprehension. There was never an intention—and nor is there an intention—to apply the provisions to those involved in religious ministry. However, if a church, synagogue or mosque is hiring a cleaner, bookkeeper or finance officer, it will have to comply with the normal, non-discrimination provisions of employment, like all others. I hope that, instead of spreading misapprehension, he will reassure those who raised that concern with him that it never was the Government’s intention to make that change. The amendment simply clarified the difference between a religious and non-religious job, and whatever the criticisms of the drafting, which I do not accept, nobody could think that it would say that being Archbishop of Canterbury was not a religious job.

Mr. Rob Wilson (Reading, East) (Con): Given that the right hon. and learned Lady clearly believes in its continued importance and relevance in today’s world, may we have a debate in Government time on papal infallibility?
Ms Harman: That is not a matter for the House. What are matters for the House are public policy and legislative scrutiny, and what is a matter for the Government is to ensure that, although we respect the fact that some areas of religion must be subject to the control and decisions of those religions, for the rest, religious organisations, like everyone else, obey the law.


General Synod Questions

The questions to be asked at General Synod next week are now online.

General Synod February 2010 Questions

The answers will be given in the last item of business on Monday 8 February.

1 Comment

Opinions before Synod

Alan Wilson looks forward to next week’s meeting of General Synod in a Face to face column in The Guardian: How the General Synod works is more important than anything it decides.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that Football needs some humility.

Rowan Williams has written in Newsweek about God and Wall Street. The article is also available on the Archbishop’s website.

John Shepherd writes in a Times Credo column that We all have faith, whether or not we recognise it.


ACNA: the background reading


As listed in my paper:

Professor Bruce Mullin’s Affidavit in the case of the Diocese of Ohio

This deals particularly with the issue of parishes purporting to depart from a diocese. It has not previously been published.

Professor Bruce Mullin’s Affidavit in the case of the Diocese of Fort Worth

This deals particularly with the issue of dioceses purporting to depart from TEC.

Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church (2009)

New edition, just published electronically during the past week.

The “Chapman report” January 2004

This matter was also reported at the time by Stephen Bates in the Guardian see
US Anglicans plot to break up church and Leaked letters reveal plot to split US church.

“Alternative oversight”

On January 14, 2004 , The Washington Post published a story headlined, “Plan to Supplant Episcopal Church USA Is Revealed.”

The article was based on a letter from the Rev. Geoff Chapman, rector of St. Stephen’s, Sewickley-one of the larger parishes in Duncan ‘s diocese-who said he was responding to an inquiry on behalf of the AAC and its “Bishops Committee on Adequate Episcopal Oversight.” 10 The letter, dated December 28, 2003 , was leaked to Post reporter Alan Cooperman.

In the letter, Chapman wrote that the AAC’s “ultimate goal is a realignment of Anglicanism on North American soil” resulting in a “replacement jurisdiction.” He added that conservatives would “seek to retain ownership of our property as we move into this realignment.”

A parish interested in “alternative oversight” should declare its relationship with its diocesan Bishop “severely damaged” as a result of Robinson’s consecration, Chapman wrote, and state that it now looked to “one of the Primates or an AAC orthodox Bishop for their ‘primary pastoral leadership.’”

Episcopal bishops who claimed authority over a parish in another bishop’s diocese would be vulnerable to prosecution under canon law. However, Chapman wrote, “we do have non-geographical oversight available from ‘offshore’ Bishops, and retired Bishops.”

If “adequate settlements” were not within reach by “some yet to be determined moment, probably in 2004,” he added, “a faithful disobedience of canon law on a widespread basis may be necessary.”

[extract from Following the Money see link below]

The “Barfoot memo” March 2004

The concept of “offshore oversight” for conservative Episcopal parishes was developed further in a March 3, 2004 , memo to “Ekklesia Society primates and bishops” and leaders of the Network by Canon Alison Barfoot. It was occasioned, Barfoot wrote, by conversations with Atwood, John Guernsey of the Network and Martyn Minns of the AAC.

Barfoot, formerly co-rector at Christ Church in Overland Park , Kansas , had recently been appointed an assistant to Orombi, primate of the province of Uganda . An ally of Duncan’s, Orombi had broken off relations with the Episcopal Church in December 2003.

In the memo, Barfoot outlined a three-step plan for removing parishes from the oversight of Episcopal bishops and placing them under the oversight of an “offshore” bishop who would then delegate his authority over that parish to the Network. If a parish did not already have a relationship with an offshore bishop, Barfoot suggested, the Ekklesia Society could arrange a match.

[extract from Following the Money see link below]

Following the Money 2006


Responses to ACNA documents

The American Anglican Council has published this press release: Rebutting Simon Sarmiento and TEC’s Factual Inaccuracies.

The article lists only five points.

Anglican Essentials Canada has published this article: ACoC priest, Alan Perry, questions the ACNA briefing paper.

The article lists only one point.


ACNA – some more stuff

Today’s Church Times carries a news report by Pat Ashworth Accuracy of briefing paper on ACNA challenged.

This mentions a press release from the American Anglican Council, which you can see here: AAC Tracks Episcopal Church’s Canonical Abuse – Plight of Orthodox Anglicans.

This article from almost a year ago may be useful: 16 February 2009 ACNA publishes statistics.

And there is this one from earlier, 12 December 2008 ACNA: 700 congregations?

Also, 12 December, revised 19 December 2008: church press covers ACNA

And there are other articles from last year:

April: ACNA does not expect recognition

May: ACNA appeals for $700K

June: more about ACNA

July: General Synod: Questions about ACNA and ACNA and FCA


Equality Bill: more articles

The Church Times today carries my report of recent events under the headline: Churches to keep their exemption from equality law, Harman confirms.

THE LAW covering church employment will stay as it is, the Minister for Women and Equality, Harriet Harman, said on Tuesday. She was speaking after the defeat in the Lords of an amendment to the Equality Bill (News, 29 January), which sought to clarify the ex­emption for religious bodies from the existing legislation, to ensure that it applied only to church ministers…

This report also includes two sections on more of the House of Lords debates from Monday and Wednesday of last week, including the one on Civil Partnerships venues.

Earlier on Monday of last week, the House considered a proposal from Lord Alli to to amend the Civil Partner­ships Act to allow religious venues to be used.

Lord Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford, spoke in support. He said: “The Government were absolutely right to respect the religious sensitivities of the Church of England when the Civil Partnership Bill went through Parlia­ment, but since that time a new situation has emerged. The Quakers, liberal Jews, and other religious bodies have made it quite clear that they want permission to conduct these cere­monies in a religious context with religious language. This is a fundamental issue of reli­gious freedom…”

Cif: belief yesterday carried a comment article by Riazat Butt headlined More Catholic than the pope.

There is still much anger over the pope’s comments about UK equality laws. Part of me wonders why people are surprised by the nature of his observations – they are exactly what one would expect – and part of me also wonders why people are focusing on the equality bill, which was more about Anglicans than Catholics. The Catholic bishops did not turn a blind eye to the proposed legislation, but it was the Lords Spiritual who went to war over it. They won. Well done them. That the established church is trying to shut out people whose lifestyle is at odds with Christian ethos brings the words “stable”, “door” and “bolted” to mind. Their attempts to legitimise “sexual cleansing” also reminds me of the time that Katharine Jefferts Schori accused the C of E of double standards

and she concludes:

While I accept the pope was out of order for passing judgment on equality legislation and UK attitudes towards homosexuality, the same level of anger and outrage must be directed at those Church of England bishops who fought tooth and nail to keep the status quo, to preserve their right to discriminate against gays and lesbians and to institutionalise and legitimise prejudice against anyone they deemed to be unfit for purpose because of their lifestyle.


ACNA and the Episcopal Church

Readers may recall this General Synod motion, which is being debated next Wednesday. And there is this amendment.

A paper rebutting the claims made about the Episcopal Church, compiled by me, has been issued to General Synod members.

That paper can now be read in full here.


ACNA and Canada

Readers may recall this General Synod motion, which is being debated next Wednesday. And there is this amendment.

A paper rebutting the claims made about the Anglican Church of Canada, written by Alan Perry has been issued to General Synod members.

That paper can now be read in full here.


Equality Bill: did the government back down?

Newspaper headlines on Wednesday were confusing:

Independent Jerome Taylor Harriet Harman defends equality legislation following Pope’s criticism

Telegraph Andrew Porter and Martin Beckford Victory for religious groups as Labour gives up on Equality Bill clause condemned by Pope

The Times Rosemary Bennett and Ruth Gledhill Harriet Harman backs down over employment equality for churches

The Independent also had The Big Question: What is equality legislation, and why is the Pope so concerned about it? by Andy McSmith

Andrew Brown interpreted all this as Harman retreats.

So what actually happened?

First, on Thursday last week, long before the Pope spoke, Harriet Harman answered a question in the House of Commons. You can read the Hansard record of it here. The relevant bit is also copied below the fold.

Second, this week the following statement was issued by the GEO on Tuesday:

Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, said:

“There are religious jobs and non-religious jobs within organised religion. For example, a pensions assistant ensuring that the records database is kept up to date is not doing a religious job. Issuing and processing invoices, even if it is done in the employment of a church or other religious organisation is not a religious job.

“Employment and non-discrimination law applies to religious organisations when they employ people in non-religious jobs in the same way that it does to all other employers. We have never insisted on non-discrimination legislation applying to religious jobs such as being a vicar, a bishop, an imam or a rabbi.

“Religious organisations can decide themselves how to do that. However, when it comes to non-religious jobs, those organisations must comply with the law. We thought that it would be helpful for everyone involved to clarify the law, and that is what the amendment that we brought forward aimed to do. That amendment was rejected. So the law remains as it was.”



Equality Bill – further reactions

Steve Bell in the Guardian had a cartoon, see Your equality laws are unjust, pope tells UK before visit.

Listen to Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff, speaking on Vatican Radio in Rome on Tuesday.

The Guardian published this editorial comment on Wednesday: Equalities legislation: The pope protests.

The Question of the Week at Cif:belief has been Does faith trump equality? (This was started on Monday, before the Pope spoke.)

In response to the Pope incident, Martin Pendergast wrote at Cif: belief All of us deserve equality.

And Simon Jenkins wrote An odious view, indeed. But I’m with Pope Benedict on this one.

The Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks wrote in The Times The Pope is right about the threat to freedom.

The Archbishop of York gave a lecture, in Newcastle, titled Gracious Magnanimity vs. Tolerance. You can read the full text of that here.


Pope comments on Equality Bill

Updated again Tuesday morning

The Pope has commented on British equality legislation.

Cif belief has republished an address delivered to the Catholic bishops of England and Wales by Pope Benedict on 1 February 2010.

The key paragraph is this:

Your country is well known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society. Yet as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed. I urge you as Pastors to ensure that the Church’s moral teaching be always presented in its entirety and convincingly defended. Fidelity to the Gospel in no way restricts the freedom of others – on the contrary, it serves their freedom by offering them the truth. Continue to insist upon your right to participate in national debate through respectful dialogue with other elements in society. In doing so, you are not only maintaining long-standing British traditions of freedom of expression and honest exchange of opinion, but you are actually giving voice to the convictions of many people who lack the means to express them: when so many of the population claim to be Christian, how could anyone dispute the Gospel’s right to be heard?

There has been a speedy British media reaction to this:

Telegraph Damian Thompson Pope tells English and Welsh bishops to get their act together and Has the Pope declared war on Labour?
Martin Beckford Pope Benedict XVI criticises ‘unjust’ effects of Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill

Press Association Pope confirms he will visit Britain Headline changed to Pope attacks equality laws in UK

The Times Ruth Gledhill Pope Benedict XVI confirms first state visit to UK and Pope: Britain’s equal rights legislation ‘violates’ natural law and Pope Benedict XVI attacks Labour’s equality push

BBC Pope Benedict confirms first papal UK visit since 1982

Guardian Riazat Butt Pope condemns gay equality laws ahead of first UK visit

Independent Jerome Taylor Pope: I’ll visit but I don’t like your equality laws

Monday evening additions

Government Equalities Office press statement:

“The Pope acknowledges our country’s firm commitment to equality for all members of society. We believe everyone should have a fair chance in life and not be discriminated against. The Equality Bill will make Britain a fairer and more equal place.”

Telegraph Editorial Opinion Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill should be laid to rest headline changed to The Pope, Labour and religious freedom.

The Times Ruth Gledhill Pope Benedict XVI misses the point in his attack on UK equality law

Guardian Andrew Brown Papal aggression

Catholic Herald Mark Greaves Pope Benedict condemns Equality Bill

Reuters Philip Pullella Pope confirms Britain visit, attacks equality bill and second version of this story

Telegraph Martin Beckford Pope Benedict XVI attacks Labour’s ‘unjust’ equality laws ahead of UK visit and later version Pope attacks Labour laws on equality

Tuesday morning updates

Daily Mail Simon Caldwell Pope condemns Harman equality drive as ‘violation of natural law’


BBC Pope Benedict attacks government over Equality Bill

Herald (Scotland) Outrage as Pope attacks UK equality laws ahead of state visit

Press Association Anger as Pope slams UK equality law

Also Martha Linden of PA, via Independent Anger after Pope slams ‘unjust’ UK equality laws

Guardian Riazat Butt Your equality laws are unjust, pope tells UK before visit


a bishop resigns from a committee

Updated again Thursday morning

The Primate of The Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East , Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt has announced his resignation from what used to be called the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council, but which has now been restyled as the “Anglican Communion Standing Committee”.

His statement is available as a PDF from the website of the Diocese of Egypt which summarises it:

“I have come to realize that my presence in the current [Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion] has no value whatsoever and my voice is like a useless cry in the wilderness.” However, he assured the Anglican Communion that he would not stop his commitment “for the present and future of our beloved Anglican Communion and the greater Christian witness.”

This has prompted the Anglican Communion Institute to issue a paper titled The Anglican Communion Covenant: Where Do We Go From Here? which contains a summary of itself:

In summary, and on the basis of our continued conviction that the Covenant itself as currently formulated is a positive, faithful, and necessary basis for the renewal of the Anglican Communion and its member churches, we argue that:

1. The final Covenant text envisions a Communion of responsibly coordinated Instruments, ordered episcopally, that the current ACC-led standing committee is in fact undermining;

2. The current ACC standing committee is not necessarily the “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion” indicated by the Covenant text, and cannot therefore automatically claim the authority it seems to be assuming;

3. The current ACC standing committee has little credibility in the eyes of a large part of the Communion and ought not to be claiming the authority it seems to be assuming;

4. Those Churches of the Communion who move fully and decisively to adopt the Covenant must work with a provisional and representative standing committee, continuous in membership with the other Instruments, that will direct the implementation of the Covenant in a way that can eventually permit a Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion to be formed as envisioned by the Covenant text.

There is a discussion of this at titusonenine where Stephen Noll has written this comment. (number 5 on the blog).

Other comments: Jim Naughton here, and Andrew Gerns over here.


The Archbishop of Canterbury issued a brief statement.

Doug LeBlanc reported in the Living Church on an interview with Bishop Mouneer, see Bp. Mouneer: Talks Prompted Resignation.

ENS has MIDDLE EAST: President Bishop Mouneer Anis resigns from Standing Committee.

Thursday morning update

There is a further comment by Ephraim Radner “The Anglican Covenant: Where Do We Go From Here?”: A further comment.