Thinking Anglicans

More about the exclusion of some spouses from the Lambeth Conference

Updated Friday evening scroll down for additional press releases from TEC House of Bishops meeting

Updated again Monday

Here is the response from the University of Kent to those who have written to them complaining about their hosting of a discriminatory event:

We reported previously on the row about invitations to spouses of bishops attending the Lambeth Conference next year, first here, and then also here.

On 14 March Ben Bradshaw MP asked in the House of Commons about this matter.

Watch the video here.

Ben Bradshaw Labour, Exeter

May we have a statement from the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Dame Caroline Spelman, on the outrageous decision by the Church of England to issue the official invitation to next year’s Lambeth conference and explicitly forbid the same-sex spouses of bishops from attending, when the heterosexual spouses of bishops have been warmly invited? This is a totally unacceptable position for our established state Church to adopt, and this House needs to tell the Church we have had enough of it.

Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

I was not aware of that situation, and I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for raising it. If he would like to write to me, I will certainly raise it with my right hon. Friend Dame Caroline Spelman.

Today the Church Times has a report about the Canadian bishop, Kevin Robertson, affected by this:  Gay bishop accuses Primates of homophobia.

…When asked if he believed the fierce opposition to his presence, let alone Mr Sharma’s invitation, from GAFCON­ aligned Primates was driven by homophobia, he replied “I do.”

“Because it appears there’s an inconsistency,” he said, pointing to a blog by the Secretary-General of the Communion, the Rt Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, which announced the policy of barring gay spouses (News, 22 February).

Dr Idowu-Fearon wrote that it was because same-sex marriages were inconsistent with a resolution on marriage from the 1998 Lambeth Conference which defined marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman.

“I know as we approach 2020 that there are bishops who have been divorced and remarried, in some cases more than once, who are being invited, and their spouses are also being invited,” Bishop Robertson said.

“So to hold up Lambeth 1.10 as the reason for Mohan and Becki not to be invited seems a little thin; it doesn’t seem particularly consistent…”

Meanwhile, the American bishop affected, Mary Glasspool, has addressed the American House of Bishops. Read the whole of what she said: The Way of Love and Lambeth: Bishop Mary D. Glasspool speaks to the House of Bishops. (more…)

119 Comments

Lambeth Conference spouse invitations

Updated again Thursday

We reported earlier on this: Spouses of bishops not invited to Lambeth Conference unless of opposite sex.

The Lambeth Conference website drew attention to the exclusion and linked to the earlier article from Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon. Here is how it looked:

Until last night. When the reference to this matter was removed from that page:

The blog article remains in place, so presumably there has been no change in policy.

Updates

Two other developments relating to the Lambeth Conference invitations:

Episcopal News Service Executive Council asks bishops, spouses to ‘prayerfully and carefully consider’ response to Lambeth decision

Executive Council has asked The Episcopal Church’s bishops and their spouses, and the House of Bishops collectively, “to prayerfully and carefully consider her/his/their response, choices and actions” in the light of what it calls the “troubling circumstances” of the decision to exclude same-sex spouses from the 2020 Lambeth Conference of bishops.
Council unanimously approved a resolution on Feb. 25 that says it finds the decision “inconsistent” with the positions of The Episcopal Church and with multiple statements of Anglican Communion entities that have urged the church to listen to the experiences LGBTQ persons.
“Exclusion of spouses at Lambeth Conference: When does all mean all?” calls the decision “particularly misguided and inconsistent with the stated purposes of the conference,” in part because the conference planning group decided to run a joint program for bishops and their spouses, rather than the traditional parallel programs. The FAQs section of the Lambeth2020 website says that the joint conference “is in recognition of the vital role spouses play across the Anglican Communion and a desire to support them.

Premier Bishop to attend Lambeth Conference without wife in protest at bar on gay clergy partners

The Bishop of Liverpool has said he will attend an international summit of Anglican leaders without his wife next year, in protest at a bar on the partners of gay clergy.
Rt Rev Paul Bayes described the decision to prevent same-sex partners of clergy from attending the 2020 Lambeth Conference as an “act of exclusion”.
In a message posted on Twitter, he said: “I deeply regret that, in the fractious complexities of our life as a worldwide people, this act of exclusion has taken its place.
“It is a grief to me and to my wife, and to many others. Despite this, I aim to attend the Conference, alone, in the hope of a common future.”

GAFCON has this view: Lambeth 2020 Descends into Confusion.

95 Comments

Spouses of bishops not invited to Lambeth Conference unless of opposite sex

Updated 

ACNS has published this article by Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon: The global excitement about Lambeth Conference. To date most of the excitement about this article has related to the following paragraph (emphasis added):

I need to clarify a misunderstanding that has arisen. Invitations have been sent to every active bishop. That is how it should be – we are recognising that all those consecrated into the office of bishop should be able to attend. But the invitation process has also needed to take account of the Anglican Communion’s position on marriage which is that it is the lifelong union of a man and a woman. That is the position as set out in Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Given this, it would be inappropriate for same-sex spouses to be invited to the conference. The Archbishop of Canterbury has had a series of private conversations by phone or by exchanges of letter with the few individuals to whom this applies.

The Sunday Times reported this first (£): Married gay bishops told: don’t bring your spouse to Anglican conference.

Reuters had Anglican Church slammed for excluding same-sex spouses from 2020 conference

Christian Today has Same-sex spouses not invited to Lambeth Conference

By far the most informative article is this one from Episcopal News ServiceSame-sex spouses not invited to next year’s Lambeth Conference of bishops

The Episcopal Church currently has one actively serving bishop who has a same-sex spouse. The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool was elected as bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles in December 2009 and consecrated May 2010. She has been bishop assistant in the Diocese of New York since April 2016. She is married to Becki Sander, her partner of more than 30 years.

Glasspool told Episcopal News Service Feb. 18 in a telephone interview that she received a letter from Welby on Dec. 4, 2018, in which he said that he was writing to her “directly as I feel I owe you an explanation of my decision not to invite your spouse to the Lambeth Conference, a decision that I am well aware will cause you pain, which I regret deeply…”

Do read the further detail of her exchanges with the archbishop. And the article has been extended to include comments from Bishop Kevin Robertson (Toronto) and to refer to the new bishop-elect of Maine.

Update

OneBodyOneFaith extends hospitality to shunned Lambeth partners

OneBodyOneFaith has expressed its sadness and disappointment at the decision to exclude same-sex partners from the 2020 Lambeth Conference, and offered hospitality to those partners who would still like to attend.  

Tracey Byrne, Chief Executive, responded by promising to ensure that same-sex partners of bishops who wished to join them in Canterbury, would be warmly welcomed.  ‘We are called to follow the example of Jesus in extending the table to those with whom we don’t necessarily agree, and we applaud the effort of the organisers to do just that – but we need to go further. Radical Christian inclusion demands no less from us.  These partners may be few in number but they are hugely symbolically significant, prophetic even.  We are reaching out to them over the coming weeks, and have already been contacted by members and supporters offering accommodation.  We will do everything we can to ensure that they are there in Canterbury next year.’

70 Comments

Tennessee diocese implements same-sex marriage procedures

We reported earlier on the situation in the Diocese of Albany in Upstate New York. Another of the previously dissenting bishops in the Diocese of Tennessee (which covers the Middle portion of that state) has taken a rather different course of action:

Episcopal News Service Tennessee bishop recruits neighboring colleague to implement same-sex marriage rites

Bishop John Bauerschmidt announced Jan. 18 that neighboring Bishop Brian Cole of East Tennessee will “provide pastoral support” to Tennessee couples, clergy and congregations who want to solemnize same-sex marriages.

To begin that process, Bauerschmidt wrote in a two-page description of his policy, all canonically resident clergy in the diocese must notify him and assure him that the cleric’s congregation agrees to their use.

Bauerschmidt, who opposes same-sex marriage, said that “where there is disagreement in teaching about the sacramental rite of marriage between bishop and clergy there can be no effective oversight of marriage by the diocesan bishop.” Thus, another bishop must be available to “provide whatever episcopal support is needed for couples and clergy preparing for marriage.”

Bauerschmidt said his policy applies whether the trial-use rites or any other marriage rite is used…

The Living Church Same-sex Marriage In the Diocese of Tennessee

Tennessean Tennessee bishop issues same-sex wedding guidelines for Episcopal clergy, couples

Here are links to the original documents:

Readers may find interesting the materials linked in footnote 1 to the latter. These were published in 2011.

[1] The Anglican Theological Review, Vol.93.1, “Same-Sex Relationships and the Nature of Marriage: A Theological Colloquy” contains both “traditional” and “liberal” accounts of marriage. This work was commissioned by the Episcopal House of Bishops’ Theology Committee. http://www.anglicantheologicalreview.org/read/issue/48/

12 Comments

Presiding Bishop Curry partially restricts ministry of Bishop Love

Updated again Monday morning

The Office of Public Affairs of The Episcopal Church has today (Friday) issued the following statement: Presiding Bishop’s response to Bishop William Love’s November 10, 2018 Pastoral Letter and Directive.

The Episcopal News Service reports this under the headline Albany bishop is barred from punishing priests for same-sex marriages, faces disciplinary review.

ENS story updated on Sunday to include Bishop William Love’s response to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s actionsBishop will appeal restriction on punishing priests for same-sex marriages, challenge convention action:

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has temporarily restricted part of Diocese of Albany Bishop William Love’s ministry because of Love’s refusal to allow same-sex marriages even after General Convention mandated liturgical marriage equality in the church’s U.S. dioceses.

Love is “forbidden from participating in any matter regarding any member of the clergy that involves the issue of same-sex marriage,” Curry said in a document released Jan. 11. The restriction applies both to the Episcopal Church’s formal Title IV disciplinary process and to any action “that has or may have the effect of penalizing in any way any member of the clergy or laity or worshipping congregation of his diocese for their participation in the arrangements for or participation in a same-sex marriage in his diocese or elsewhere.”

The restriction appears to enable Episcopal Church clergy in the upstate New York diocese to solemnize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples, something Love steadfastly refused to allow…

The ENS report gives a detailed account of the developments leading up to today’s action, and is recommended for reading in full.

The full text of Bishop Curry’s statement is copied below the fold.

Update

Bishop Love has responded by issuing a letter to his diocese. You can read the text of that on the Albany diocesan website.

(more…)

71 Comments

American progress on marriage equality

We last reported on the situation in the American Diocese of Albany on 11 November.

Episcopal News Service has now published a comprehensive status review of all the dioceses where difficulties had arisen in implementing Resolution B012. In most of them some form of compromise solution has been adopted.

Celebrations planned, tension lingers a month after marriage equality resolution takes effect.

8 Comments

Bishop of Albany refuses to implement same-sex marriage resolution

Updated again Tuesday morning

We reported previously on the Diocese of Albany in September: Diocese of Albany considers same-sex marriages.

Further context for this is contained in another earlier article: Communion Partner bishops issue FAQ on same-sex marriage.

Episcopal Café now reports: Albany bishop draws red line, challenges authority of GC

…Bishop Love has decided to draw a line based on his personal beliefs and understanding of his role on behalf of the entirety of the diocese of Albany; “B012 ignores God’s Word regarding marriage and thus ignores the authority of Holy Scripture.” He lays the blame for General Convention’s actions squarely on Satan and the “Gay Rights Agenda.”

“While I don’t question the sincerity or the well intentions of many in the Episcopal Church who believe the best way to love and minister to our Gay and Lesbian Brothers and Sisters in Christ is to embrace them in their sexuality and make provisions for their same-sex attractions through same-sex marriage rites, I do believe they have been deceived into believing a lie that has been planted in the Church by the “great deceiver” – Satan. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul states: “…stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:11-13).
The Episcopal Church and Western Society have been hijacked by the “Gay Rights Agenda” which is very well organized, very strategic, very well financed, and very powerful. Satan is having a heyday bringing division into the Church over these issues and is trying to use the Church to hurt and destroy the very ones we love and care about by deceiving the leadership of the Church into creating ways for our gay and lesbians brothers and sister to embrace their sexual desires rather than to repent and seek God’s love and healing grace. B012 plays right into this.”

Read the full text of his Pastoral Letter and Pastoral Directive here.

The Albany Times-Union reports this news: Albany Episcopal Bishop outlaws same-sex marriage in his churches.

News & World Report has this: Episcopal Bishop, William Love, Bans Gay Unions on His Turf.

Tuesday Updates

Episcopal News Service Albany bishop rejects General Convention compromise on gay marriage, refuses to allow rites

Presiding Bishop’s statement on Bishop William Love’s pastoral letter and directive

And the bishop of the adjacent diocese ( Central New York) has also issued a statement available here.

93 Comments

Communion Partner bishops issue FAQ on same-sex marriage

We reported previously on developments within TEC concerning the implementation of resolution B012:

TEC adopts compromise solution on same-sex marriage

Diocese of Albany considers same-sex marriages

There was an earlier ENS report which we missed: Diocesan bishops who blocked same-sex marriages take reluctant first steps toward allowing ceremonies.

Now, Communion Partners has issued this:

FAQ on the 79th General Convention Answers from Communion Partner Bishops of the Episcopal Church to Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Provisions for Same-sex Marriage.

This includes a comparison between the position of Communion Partners and The Society.

1 Comment

Diocese of Albany considers same-sex marriages

Updated to include further letter from Bishop Love

The Albany Times-Union reported earlier this week, following extended interviews with Bishop William Love and other members of the Albany diocese: Facing a schism: A bishop, gay marriage and the Episcopal diocese of Albany.

… this past July, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church issued Resolution B012, a compromise aimed at allowing gay couples to marry at their home churches in the eight dissenting dioceses across the country – Albany among them – where gay marriage remained forbidden.  In response, Albany Bishop William Love issued a soberly worded letter calling the resolution “problematic and potentially damaging,” adding, “The vast majority of the clergy and people of the Diocese, to include myself, are greatly troubled by it.”

He called for a special meeting of clergy – scheduled for Thursday at the Christ the King Spiritual Life Center in Greenwich.  What may come of it, no one knows – not clergy, not laypeople, not Love himself, who sat for a two-hour-and-15-minute interview one Friday morning in August. From his standpoint he’s the one now trapped in canonical limbo, “where our diocesan canons state one thing, and the General Convention says something else. And we have to figure out how to deal with that tension.”

But no matter what their role in the church or where they stand on the issue of gay marriage, nearly all of the 19 people who commented for this story by phone or email described a diocese in the thick of complex, ongoing and difficult change. Love was blunt in his own assessment: “We’re in the midst of a major schism.”

Before the meeting yesterday, Leander Harding wrote an article for Covenant, titled Being Disarmed in which he said:

Bishop Bill Love and the clergy of the Diocese of Albany will meet today (Sep. 6) to discuss our response to the actions of the latest General Convention. The choices seem rather straightforward to me. Either we make our peace with serving in a church that endorses same-sex marriage as part of its normative teaching, and we make an accommodation for those parishes in favor of such rites. Or we leave individually or in some corporate sense, as has been the case with Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, San Joaquin, and South Carolina.

In the time I have been in the diocese I have never heard the bishop or any of the leading clergy counsel secession. Anything like that would in my view be an institutional disaster. We are a diocese primarily made up of struggling small-town churches. We are part of the Rust Belt, and the economic turnaround has yet to appear in most of our communities. The major regional export is young people. A healthy dose of bitter controversy would be just the thing to sink our little fleet of ships already struggling to stay afloat.

Overall, I think our diocese is strong in faith and spiritual vitality, but institutionally we are fragile and weak. We don’t have many people, we don’t have much money, our missionary context is a combination of dying rural communities and the see city, which ranks as one of the most secular in the country. The theological convictions of the bishop and a majority of the clergy in the diocese are vastly out of sync with the majority of the Episcopal Church in theology, ethos, and style…

So far there is no substantive report of the meeting, though a press release is promised soon. The Albany Times-Union had only this: Albany Episcopal Diocese discusses resolution on same-sex marriages.

…Albany Bishop William Love, who spoke with The Times Union following the meeting, said the time was used to pray, worship and converse in private.

“Today was a chance for us to come together and for me to be able to hear from the clergy of the diocese and for them to be able to hear from me,” Love said. “It gave us an opportunity to come together as brothers and sisters of Christ and just say, ‘OK, this is what was put before us,’ and to figure out how best to be faithful to the lord and work through these issues.”

Love said the meeting was held in an executive session but a press release on the generalities of the discussion will be put out soon…

Update

Episcopal Café has published the full text of a letter from Bishop Love: Albany clergy meet… no defined path forward yet.

…As I mentioned in my letter of invitation to the clergy, the purpose of the meeting was NOT for me to issue a proclamation at that time on how B012 will be carried out in the Diocese of Albany, but rather for me to share with them some of my thoughts regarding B012; to clarify my understanding of what it does and doesn’t say; and to give me a chance to listen to the thoughts and concerns of the clergy.

Ultimately, as the Bishop, I will make a decision regarding my response to B012 and how it will be dealt with in the Diocese of Albany. That decision will be made thoughtfully and prayerfully and will be openly shared with the whole Diocese prior to December 2 nd .

While, I know there are some who would like me to simply say today what I am going to do, it is not simply a matter of being for or against same-sex marriage. As a result of the complexity of B012, there are a multitude of implications not only for same-sex couples wishing to be married in their home parish, but also for the clergy and parishes involved; for my role and ministry as Bishop; for the Diocese of Albany and its relationship with the wider Anglican Communion and body of Christ.

Whatever decision I and or the rest of the Church make regarding B012, there will be consequences. There is no escaping that. My ultimate desire as your Bishop, is to be faithful and obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ, discerning not my will, but His will in knowing how best to lead the Diocese of Albany in such a way that He will be glorified and His Church and people be blessed. Please keep me and our Diocese in your prayers.

32 Comments

TEC adopts compromise solution on same-sex marriage

Updated Saturday evening

See our earlier report here.

Yesterday, the Church Times reported that Episcopal Church in the US widens access to trial same-sex marriage rites.

The General Convention of The Episcopal Church has now approved legislation making same-sex marriage rites available to all Episcopalians without making changes to the 1979 TEC Book of Common Prayer.

The Living Church reports: Compromise Reached on Same-sex Marriage.

Episcopal News Service has reported it this way: Convention lets its ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ agreeing to give church full access to trial-use marriage rites.

Religion News Service via the National Catholic ReporterEpiscopal convention approves a ‘pastoral solution’ on same-sex marriage.

The approved version of the resolution can be read in full here.

Update The Communion Partners have issued the Austin Statement (July 13, 2018).

The Bishop of Dallas, George Sumner, has issued a letter to his clergy. A portion of this is copied below the fold. (more…)

46 Comments

Solution proposed for full access to TEC same-sex marriage rites

Readers will recall the letter that William Nye sent to The Episcopal Church recently.

Three bishops of The Episcopal Church have made a legislative proposal for the forthcoming General Convention to consider, which attempts to find a solution to the issue.  See this ENS report by Mary Frances Schjonberg: Bishops propose solution for full access to same-sex marriage rites.

Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, Pittsburgh Bishop Dorsey McConnell and Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely said in a news release late on June 28 that their Resolution B012 is “an attempt to move the church forward in an atmosphere of mutual respect, reconciliation and the love of Jesus Christ.”

The resolution continues to authorize the two trial-use marriage rites first approved by the 2015 meeting of General Convention without time limit and without seeking a revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

“Given our particular time in history, this resolution provides a way forward for the whole church without the possible disruption of ministry that might be caused by the proposed revision of the Book of Common Prayer,” the three bishops said.

The news release from the bishops is here: “Marriage for the Whole Church”, Resolution B012, Proposed for General Convention.

…This resolution re-authorizes the two Trial Use marriage rites first authorized in 2015, but with modified terms. Resolution 2015-A054 stated that bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority “will make provision” for all couples to have access to these liturgies, while also providing that trial use in a diocese requires the permission of the diocesan bishop.

By contrast, this resolution proposes that access to these trial use liturgies now be provided for in all dioceses, without requiring the permission of the diocesan bishop.

Additionally, this resolution proposes to authorize Trial Use versions of “The Blessing of a Civil Marriage” and “An Order for Marriage,” suitable for use by all couples. These services were not authorized in 2015.

Finally, this resolution calls for a Task Force on Communion Across Difference, tasked with finding a lasting path forward for all Episcopalians in one church, without going back on General Convention’s clear decision to extend marriage to all couples, and its firm commitment to provide access to all couples seeking to be married in this church…

This proposal has been given qualified approval by another group of seven bishops, who are opposed to same-sex marriage, see this statement by the Communion Partners of the Episcopal Church: The Vocation of Anglican Communion.

…While we cannot endorse every aspect of this proposal, we will be grateful should it help us all to continue contending with one another for the truth in love within one body.  It preserves the Book of Common Prayer as established by our church, and it preserves our dioceses for the exercising of the “historic episcopate, locally adapted” (Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral).  If our church chooses not to preserve these two institutions — the historic Prayer Book, and the historic episcopate with jurisdiction in dioceses — we would no longer have a place in this church.  With the protection of the prayer book and episcopate, we can carry on as loyal Episcopalians and Anglicans, in charity with our sisters and brothers in Christ.

The inclusion of a Task Force on Communion across Difference is of utmost importance.  Parity requires that if congregations in our dioceses must be granted delegated episcopal pastoral oversight at their request, this should be reciprocated throughout the church for Communion Partner congregations.  For them, it is not simply a matter of whether or not a conflictual relationship exists with their bishop, but instead whether the bishop whose spiritual care guides their common life is one that they understand as in full communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.  These and other matters need to be worked out carefully and coherently for a lasting truce of God, one that will allow all of us to re-focus our energies on mission and proclaiming the Gospel to all people, as our Presiding Bishop calls us to do…

54 Comments

Supreme Court refuses South Carolina petition

The Episcopal News Service reports:
US Supreme Court refuses to hear South Carolina Episcopal Church property case
Breakaway group vows to continue legal fight

The United States Supreme Court refused June 11 a petition by a group that broke away from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina asking it to review a state court ruling that said property, assets and most of the diocese’s parishes must be returned to the Episcopal Church and its recognized diocese, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

The petition for a writ of certiorari from a group that broke away from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina asked the court to consider “whether the ‘neutral principles of law’ approach to resolving church property disputes requires courts to recognize a trust on church property even if the alleged trust does not comply with the state’s ordinary trust and property law.”

The breakaway group said in its Feb. 13 petition that the majority of the South Carolina Supreme Court justices did not take the “neutral” approach.

The high court justices discussed the case (17.1136) during their June 7 conference and denied the request without comment on June 11…

The (ACNA-affiliated) Diocese of South Carolina has issued this press release:
Diocese’s Petition for Cert Denied by United States Supreme Court

…The Diocese of South Carolina will now return to our state courts, where the case has been remitted to the Dorchester Courthouse where it originated. An element of TEC‘s argument for the United States Supreme Court to deny our petition was the “fractured” nature of the South Carolina Supreme Court’s ruling. Constitutional issues aside, the Diocese believes the conflicted nature of the current State Supreme Court ruling is virtually unenforceable as written. Interpretation and implementation of that ruling, given its five separate opinions, with no unified legal theory even among the plurality of the court, means there are still significant questions to resolve.

The Diocese remains confident that the law and the facts of this case favor our congregations. We plan to continue to press both to their logical conclusion, even if that requires a second appearance before the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Statement by the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, Diocesan Bishop: “While, obviously, we are disappointed that the Court did not review this case, our hope remains steadfast in our Heavenly Father. There are many unresolved legal questions which remain before the State Court as well as matters for prayerful discernment as we seek to carry out the mission to which we are called in Jesus Christ. We shall seek his guidance for both.”

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina issued this:
US Supreme Court Decision

… Today’s decision does not cause an immediate change in the physical control of the properties, according to Thomas S. Tisdale Jr., Chancellor of TECSC. It is now up to the state’s 1st Circuit Court of Common Pleas to execute the lower court’s decision.

TECSC and The Episcopal Church on May 8 asked the state court to place diocesan property and assets under control of TECSC‘s trustees, hand over ownership of property of the 28 affected parishes to The Episcopal Church and TECSC, and appoint a Special Master to oversee the transition.

The Episcopal Church has been hoping to engage with leaders of the breakaway group since the state Supreme Court ruling in August. Bishop Adams and other diocesan leaders have been seeking direct contact with people in the affected parishes, offering a “Frequently Asked Questions” publication and arranging individual meetings to work with those who want to remain in their home churches as Episcopalians.

Direct talks are even more important now that the Supreme Court has ruled, the Bishop said. “We invite people in each of the parishes affected by this decision to read the FAQ document and get in touch with me directly, so we can discover how best to work together for the good of the parish, the diocese and the whole Church,” Bishop Adams said…

The FAQ document mentioned above can be found here.

40 Comments

TEC proposals for same-sex marriage

Updated

Following up on the letter from William Nye to TEC, the actual proposals to come before the General Convention in July were the subject of analysis by Andrew Goddard, earlier this month (I had missed his article until today).

“Communion Partners” and Marriage Doctrine and Liturgy in The Episcopal Church (USA)

An article, written from the perspective of one of the TEC bishops opposed to these changes, can be found here: Reconstructive Surgery on the Prayer Book? by Bishop Dan Martins.

And yesterday, there was This Source of Doctrine and Unity Requires Our Care by Bishop John Bauerschmidt.

Updates

Scott Gunn has also written about this proposal: Study of Marriage.

Bishop George Sumner has issued a pastoral letter on the same subject.

52 Comments

William Nye writes to The Episcopal Church about marriage rites

Updated again Thursday

Madeleine Davies has a report in the Church Times: Nye letter warns about same-sex marriage rites

PROPOSALS to incorporate marriage rites used by same-sex couples into the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) of the Episcopal Church in the United States will increase pressure in the Church of England to “dissociate” itself, the secretary general of the Archbishops’ Council, William Nye, has warned.

In a letter to the Episcopal Church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage, which has produced the proposals, Mr Nye writes that, if the rites — written to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples — are incorporated into the BCP as the only marriage rite, “the pressure to dissociate the Church of England from TEC [the Episcopal Church], in all manner of ways, would increase”. Such a move would also be “potentially damaging” to work in the C of E to create a new teaching document on sexuality (News, 30 June), he writes….

The 8-page letter is contained in a file of responses from other Anglican Communion churches to a consultation request from The Episcopal Church for comments. This forms part of the materials prepared for the forthcoming General Convention in July.

The response from William Nye is now available separately here.

The response from the Scottish Episcopal Church is here.

There is also a response from the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO).

And there are ecumenical responses too.

Updates

Reports of this letter have also appeared elsewhere:

The Times (behind paywall) Anglicans threaten split over ‘gay-friendly’ marriage rites

Premier American Anglicans would face ‘consequences’ over gender neutral wedding services

Further mentions:

Christian Today Pro-LGBT Anglicans hit back at letter threatening split over US gay friendly prayer book

Episcopal Café Who answers for the Church of England when the Episcopal Church asks about marriage?

Susan Russell Simon Says: “Let’s get the truth of the situation out there”

110 Comments

South Carolina court declines to rehear church dispute

We reported in August that the South Carolina Supreme Court had reached a decision on the legal dispute concerning who was the lawful owner of church properties in the diocese of South Carolina.

The ACNA-affiliated diocese subsequently filed an appeal against this decision.

Now the court has rejected those claims.

The statement from the ACNA-affiliated diocese is here, and there is a letter from Bishop Mark Lawrence.

There is now also a press release from the TEC-affiliated diocese and a statement from Bishop Skip Adams over here.

43 Comments

Los Angeles: coadjutor bishop says property sale to proceed

Earlier reports here and then here.

Bishop John Taylor, the Coadjutor Bishop of Los Angeles, has published this: A Letter to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Episcopal News Service explains: Los Angeles bishop coadjutor says disputed St. James property sale contract is legally binding.

This is reported in the local newspapers:

Los Angeles Times L.A. Episcopal diocese is going ahead with sale of Newport’s St. James church site

Orange County Register St. James Church will be sold after all, disappointing the Newport Beach congregation

10 Comments

Los Angeles bishop Jon Bruno: recommendation to suspend confirmed

We reported earlier on the draft recommendations of the disciplinary panel.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the recommendations have now been confirmed, see Panel’s final ruling maintains 3-year suspension for bishop who tried to sell Newport church.

The final version of the panel’s document is available here.

This is still subject to an appeal process. We have not yet seen any public statements from church sources about it.

Earlier, a further interim order was made by the Presiding Bishop, which took immediate effect, and inhibits any further actions being taken by Bishop Bruno in respect of the disputed property and parish of St James, during what could be a further protracted period. See Presiding Bishop removes disputed Newport Beach congregation from Bruno’s authority.

The action was welcomed by the congregation, which published this letter.

The diocese issued this: Bishop Coadjutor responds to Presiding Bishop’s transfer of jurisdiction in Newport Beach matters

The Rt. Rev. John Harvey Taylor, bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, today responded to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s transfer to the diocesan Standing Committee and him jurisdiction over matters related to church property in Newport Beach and the congregation of St. James’ the Great. Bishop Taylor’s statement follows:

“The Presiding Bishop’s action enables the Rev. Dr. Rachel Anne Nyback, president of the Standing Committee, her fellow committee members, and me to move ahead prayerfully to promote truth, open dialogue, and reconciliation in matters that have distracted our diocese for many months and to do so without awaiting a final resolution of the charges against our Bishop, J. Jon Bruno. We pledge to do all we can to use this opportunity to achieve a just outcome for the sake of our entire diocesan community.”

The full text of the restriction is reproduced at the link above.

The Living Church has this: Coadjutor Spans Conflicts

The Rt. Rev. John Taylor, Bishop Coadjutor of Los Angeles, praised the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno on Aug. 2 as “a courageous, visionary leader” who would “acknowledge that there are things he would have done differently.”

…Here is the complete text of Taylor’s statement in response to the final order:

Bishop Bruno’s 40 years of ordained ministry and 15 years as sixth bishop of Los Angeles are not summed up by this order or the events that precipitated it. He is a courageous, visionary leader. Like every successful executive inside and outside the church, he would be the first to acknowledge that there are things he would have done differently. I look forward to continuing to learn from him and consult with him about the life of the diocesan community he has served and loves so well.

Regarding the property on Lido Island, the Standing Committee and I, at the request of the Presiding Bishop, will do everything we can to promote a just solution that takes into account the interests of all in our community (including the faithful members of the Newport Beach church) and gives us the opportunity to move forward together.

In a dispute such as this one, truth-telling, open communication, and reconciliation can be difficult for everyone involved. As this work gets underway, let us all remember St. Paul’s words (Rom. 8:28): “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”

4 Comments

South Carolina Supreme Court rules on church dispute

Updated Thursday evening

ENS has this report by Mary Frances Schjonberg South Carolina Supreme Court issues ruling in church property case.

In a complex ruling Aug. 2 the South Carolina Supreme Court said that most but not all the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina congregations whose leaders left the Episcopal Church could not continue to hold on to the church property.

The justices said 29 of the congregations specifically agreed to abide by the “Dennis Canon” (Canon 1.7.4), which states that a parish holds its property in trust for the diocese and the Episcopal Church. That agreement means they cannot retain church property. However, they said that eight congregations had not agreed to the canon and thus could keep those properties…

The full text of the ruling is here.

The ACNA-affiliated diocese reported the decision this way: South Carolina Supreme Court Releases Divided Opinion on Diocese of South Carolina and its Historic Property

…In a complicated ruling consisting of five separate opinions, the S.C. Supreme Court today ruled that parishes which had “acceded” to the national church’s ‘Dennis canon’ are subject to a trust interest on their property by the denomination. Eight congregations that had not so acceded were judged to have full rights to retain their property.

The dissenting justices expressed concern regarding the long term implications of this decision. Former Chief Justice Jean Toal stated that the court should have relied on “over three hundred years of settled trust and property law… I believe the effect of the majority’s decision is to strip a title owner of its property…” on the basis of actions that do not create a trust interest under South Carolina law. In concurring with Justice Toal, Justice Kittredge observed of other church properties where there is affiliation with a national organization, based on this ruling, “if you think your property ownership is secure, think again.”

This current litigation became necessary when TEC attempted to wrongly remove Bishop Lawrence, and the Diocese, in response, elected to disassociate from TEC. At that time a small group, of TEC loyalists who had been preparing for this attempted removal began an intentional campaign of using the Diocesan Seal and other service marks of the Diocese. They began to function as if they were the Diocese of South Carolina. To maintain its identity required that the Diocese defend that identity…

The bishop of the TEC-affiliated Diocese of South Carolina issued this pastoral letter:

Dear Friends in The Episcopal Church in South Carolina,

Please join me in giving thanks to God for the gift of grace given to us through the August 2 ruling of the State Supreme Court that was generally in our favor. I acknowledge the difficult work of the court justices in coming to this decision.

Many of you have worked faithfully and diligently in preparation for this day and have remained steadfast as disciples of Jesus through your many sacrifices. For every one of you I give thanks, as well as to many throughout the wider Episcopal Church who have remained in solidarity with us.

We will continue to study the decision as we prepare for the journey awaiting us, and we enter it knowing that God’s Spirit is with us and in us as the Body of Christ. I am aware that coming to this day has been painful for many, and some you of lost much along the way. In that same vein, please be aware that this decision is painful in a different way for others. I ask that you be measured in your response without undue celebration in the midst of your own gratefulness.

I call upon all of you to be in prayer for all the people of this diocese, including those in congregations who chose to align with the breakaway group. Many conversations will need to occur for which we have not yet had the opportunity, yet our God is a God of reconciliation and hope as shown forth in the living Christ. Healing is our desire, and we renew our commitment to the hard work of reconciliation in whatever form it can come. May we focus on the healing of division and the seeking of common ground for the good of all Episcopalians, but even more importantly, for the sake of the Good News of Jesus.

Updates
The TEC-affiliated diocese has published this: Diocesan leaders to review Supreme Court decision

Episcopal Church leaders from across eastern South Carolina will gather on Friday at Grace Church Cathedral to review the South Carolina Supreme Court ruling on church property and assets and consider the next steps toward resolving the division and confusion resulting from a breakaway group’s lawsuit against The Episcopal Church.

Bishop Skip Adams called the meeting on August 2, hours after the court issued the ruling. Friday’s meetings will include a joint gathering of the Standing Committee, Diocesan Council, and Trustees, three bodies of clergy and non-ordained elected leaders. Bishop Adams also has called a meeting for the leaders of nine congregations that organized as mission churches since the 2012 breakup left them without buildings where they could worship as Episcopalians.

Both gatherings will give local Episcopalians an opportunity to discuss the complex, 79-page court decision, which includes separate opinions written by all five Supreme Court justices who heard the case. The decision cannot be viewed as final until all possible steps toward an appeal have been resolved…

The ACNA-affiliated Bishop of Fort Worth, Texas has issued this letter.

The Anglican Curmudgeon blog carries this: Massive Conflict of Interest Taints South Carolina Ruling. Earlier it had this analysis: BREAKING – So. Carolina Decision Is Out.

40 Comments

Los Angeles bishop Jon Bruno faces suspension

Updated again 2 August

The Los Angeles Times reports: Episcopal bishop faces suspension over efforts to sell Newport Beach church

An Episcopal Church disciplinary panel has recommended a three-year suspension for the bishop who locked worshippers out of St. James the Great church in Newport Beach after a failed sale attempt two years ago.

The panel also recommended that the shuttered church be restored to its displaced members.

The tentative ruling, which came down late Friday afternoon, determined that the Right Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, was guilty of all allegations brought against him by the congregation during a hearing the panel conducted in March: that he attempted to sell consecrated property without consent of diocesan leadership, that he made several misrepresentations along the way and that he acted in a manner unbecoming of a clergyman.

The Living Church explains further in its report (do read all of it) Panel: Suspend Bruno, Save St. James:

…According to Title IV 14.5 of the church’s canons, the presiding bishop is charged with reviewing this sentence and then pronouncing it or lessening it.

In a 4-1 decision, the panel wrote that “the scope and severity of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct … have unjustly and unnecessarily disturbed the ministry of a mission of the Church. St. James the Great is a casualty of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct.”

Neva Rae Fox, public affairs officer for the Episcopal Church, said late that evening, “This document is marked as a draft, and that is what it is. We will offer no comments as the Hearing Panel’s work continues.”

Episcopal Café also has a report: Hearing Panel to recommend suspension of ministry for Bruno. Their report (also worth reading in full) includes this summary of the decisions:

A) Bishop Bruno is suspended for three years. During the period of his suspension Bishop Bruno will refrain from the exercise of the gifts of the ministry conferred by ordination (Canon IV.2, definition of “Sentence”) and not exercise any authority over the real or personal property or temporal affairs of the Church (Canon IV.19.7)

B) The Hearing panel declines to depose Bishop Bruno

C) The Hearing Panel is not aware of any evidence supporting a need for forensic accounting. IF the Church Attorney possesses such evidence he should present it to the appropriate authorities.

D) After thorough and detailed consideration of the facts, positions, contentions, testimony and documents, the Hearing Panel has concluded that the scope and severity of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct, as described above, have unjustly and unnecessarily disturbed the ministry of the Church. St James the Great is a casualty of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct acting as Diocesan and Corp Sole. While it is beyond the authority and ability of the Hearing Panel to fully assess what might have happened if St James the Great had been allowed to continue its ministry in its church facility, there is ample evidence of its viability and promise to convince the Hearing Panel that St James the Great was robbed of a reasonable chance to succeed as a sustainable community of faith.

The draft decision is a PDF document of 91 pages which can also be found here. There is a (much shorter) dissenting opinion which is also linked here.

Update
Episcopal News Service now has a report: Draft order calls for Bruno to be suspended from ministry for three years.

…The hearing panel did not publicly release its draft order. It apparently gave the draft to the complainants and the presiding bishop for comment. Title IV.14.7 (page 153 here) calls for those parties “to be heard on the proposed terms of the order.” Comments to the hearing panel are due by July 26.

Bruno is not allowed to comment on the draft to the hearing panel. The diocese released a statement July 21 saying in part that no one from the diocese would make any public statement on the draft, “continuing their commitment to respect the integrity of the Title IV process, a priority that Bishop Bruno has upheld through the duration of the two-year proceedings.”

Neva Rae Fox, Episcopal Church public affairs officer, said the church would not comment while the Title IV process continues.

Roger Bloom, a communications consultant working for St. James, released the draft late July 21, reportedly after consulting a lawyer who told him Episcopal Church canons did not prevent its release.

Forty days after the final order is issued, the Rt. Rev. Catherine Waynick, president of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, has 20 days to sentence Bruno. He can appeal that sentence and, if he does, the sentence is not imposed while the appeal proceeds. Meanwhile, however, the draft order is clear that Curry’s partial restriction on Bruno remains in force.

2 August update

The Presiding Bishop has taken additional steps, see here: Presiding Bishop removes disputed Newport Beach congregation from Bruno’s authority

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on Aug. 1 removed Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno’s authority over St. James the Great in Newport Beach, California.

The presiding bishop’s action, which includes placing St. James in the jurisdiction of Los Angeles Bishop Coadjutor John Taylor, came as the Episcopal Church awaits the final order from the hearing panel considering disciplinary action against Bruno.

The Further Partial Restriction is intended to chart a way forward that clarifies and respects the appropriate role and authority of Taylor and the Standing Committee as well as the Title IV disciplinary process and the hearing panel, according to an Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release

18 Comments

Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation

Updated Friday afternoon

This situation inside a part of GAFCON may be of some interest to UK readers.

Truro Anglican Church in Northern Virginia is a congregation of the Anglican Church in North America, within the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. The buildings in which it meets are the property of The Episcopal Church.

Truro recently announced the Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation as a joint venture with the local Episcopal diocese.

In this Easter season of rebirth and renewal, Truro Anglican Church is pleased to announce a new ministry of peace making and reconciliation called the Truro Institute: A School of Peace and Reconciliation. The Institute represents the continued fulfillment of God’s work at Truro over many decades and is consistent with our congregational history and DNA. It is also the culmination of our outreach to and discussions with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia with whom we are joining in this exciting initiative. Years after the costly litigation and sometimes on-going animosity with the EDV, we have arrived at a new era of community building and peacemaking.

This new ministry, formed by Truro Anglican, will have equal representation on its board from EDV and Truro, along with representation from the Dean of Coventry Cathedral and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The following is a quote from Archbishop Justin Welby, regarding this ministry:

“I am deeply moved by the establishment of the Peace Centre at Truro, not least because I have looked more closely at it in the days following the terrorism in Westminster, merely 400 yards from Lambeth Palace. The kingdom of God is proclaimed in practices that develop virtues. The Peace Centre will proclaim that reconciliation is the gospel, with God through Christ, but like the Temple in Ezekiel 47, releasing a flood of water that as a mighty river becomes the place of fruitfulness and healing for the nations. Thank you for your step of faith. We too will work with you as best we can.”

The ministry will work with seminarians and other young people to seed our respective denominations with a new generation of peace makers, by teaching them and letting them live into the challenging work of reconciliation. Just the fact of the joint involvement of EDV and Truro Anglican is a living testament to the work the Institute hopes to accomplish…

The Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, Shannon Johnston, wrote about this here.

…As I noted in my Pastoral Address at January’s Annual Convention, members of the Diocese have spent the past three years building new ties of trust and friendship with the Truro ACNA congregation, which is leasing the Truro campus from the Diocese. Those efforts have helped to give birth to an Institute for Peace and Reconciliation at Truro. The governing board of this Institute will have equal representation from the Diocese and the Truro ACNA congregation.

The final pieces fell into place last week when the 18-member vestry of the Truro ACNA congregation voted unanimously to approve all documents related to the creation of the Institute. Our own Standing Committee already had given its consent to this proposal, subject to the final review of documents by our Chancellor and by me. All of this has now been accomplished.

Our agreement provides for an important three-year period of discernment. You will be hearing a lot more about our activities at Truro during this period, as both the Diocese and the ACNA congregation reflect and pray on whether we have successfully launched this important Institute. If both of us agree at the end of three years that we have succeeded, the congregation will be granted a 50-year lease to the property that the Diocese will continue to own. We in the Diocese will not only participate in the Institute, but also will have continued access to the property for office space, events and services to ensure a long-term Episcopal presence at Truro…

(more…)

15 Comments