Faith Leaders Condemn Repressive Nigerian Legislation

Bishop John Bryson Chane and some 250 other religious leaders have signed this letter imploring Ken Nnamani, president of the Nigerian Senate to reject a bill before the Senate that would "strip a section of the Nigerian people of their basic human rights."

Bishop Chane and the Rev. Susan Russell are also quoted in this press release from Human Rights Watch.

Hat tip to Matt, whose full post is here.

The Bishop of Central New York

... in whose former church I used to listen to summer concerts during the Skaneatles Festival, is not of a mind to give Archbishops Williams and Akinola what they want.

Bishop Skip Adams writes:

"It is important to me that we remain a part of the Anglican Communion. I also realize that in difficult conversations and in seeking compromise, not everyone gets all that they want. But let me be clear. As bishop of this Diocese I will not sacrifice GLBT people for the sake of an unjust unity. Indeed, I cannot morally sacrifice anyone else, only myself. To use an image from the civil rights movement, I will not ask gay and lesbian people to go the back of the bus for a time. The gifts of God’s GLBT people will continue to be welcome in this Diocese in all areas of ministry. They are we, and we are who we are because of the gifts of all of God’s people in this Diocese."

And he becomes, I think, the first bishop to name the price he thinks we should be willing to pay:

"Is it possible that parts of the Church will have to walk apart for a time? As much as that would grieve me I believe that is a possible outcome. What I also believe is that a Church focused on judgment and the seeking of so-called correct dogmatic formulas is a Church that will not have much to say to the broken and hurting world in which we live. It will keep us from being a faithful Church of the 21st Century. If we must walk apart for a time in our official capacities, we will not be isolationists. Global mission will continue to be a part of the Episcopal Church and this Diocese. Our diocesan relationships with Anglicans in El Salvador, the Sudan and Liberia will continue. I have had conversations with bishops in those places and know this to be true."

Read it all beneath the "continue reading" tab.

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A transcript of the PB's opening remarks

A transcript of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's opening remarks from her Webcast this morning can be found here.

The Retuers story is here. I think it confirms the fact that she did not commit news. My hunch is that she accomplished what she wanted, a thoughtful exposition of her viewpoint, that didn't provide any startling revelations that would change the nature of the conversation before the Church had a chance to reflect on what the Primates are asking us to do.

The ENS stories are here and here.

Rachel Zoll's piece for AP is by far the most evocative of the bunch, and best captures the mood of the question and answer period.

Out and About

Susan Russell and Lionel Deimel have both used my exchange with Kendall Harmon as a jumping off point for reflections of their own. While you are bloghopping, visit Bill Carroll's new digs. And don't miss Katie Sherrod's latest.

TLC's story

The Living Church is billing this story as a behind the scenes account of the Primates Meeting. It seems rather generalized and is anonymously sourced. So, while I am glad to see it, I don't think it is as signficant as some of their behind the scenes reporting from Dromantine. I also think the analysis of which arguments did or didn't sway people should be regarded with skepticism. Group mindreading based on a small sample is tricky business.

There is still time

I have received a very thoughtful piece from The Rev. Joseph F. Duggan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, a doctoral candidate at the University of Manchester in England. Find it beneath the "continue reading" tab.

He writes: TEC must lead Anglicans in a radical attitude adjustment. Ideological differences must be given the same privileged status of inclusion as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. Rather than continuing to take sides TEC must stand up for all differences, even the ones that repulse. Historically astute Anglicans know that communion must be achieved amidst the constant strife of difference and interdependence. Difference is constitutive of the Anglican Communion, not a disturbance that must be disciplined. TEC must exemplify this interdependence and coexistence of difference.

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The Scotist doesn't like the way things are heading

He writes:

++Rowan's little organic unity, is already persecuting homosexual persons in Nigeria via the Nigerian Church.

It had a chance to register an objection loud and clear when it might have effected something significant or at least acted to delare solidarity with those bearing the image of Christ among Nigerian homosexuals, and it chose not to do so.

Read it all. (The link works again.)

Jack Miles on the Anglican crisis

Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography writes:

Numerically, the 2.3 million Episcopalians do not loom large among 77 million Anglicans worldwide. Symbolically, however, given the global importance of the United States, the departure of the Americans will leave the archbishop exposed as a quasi-colonial, quasi-papal figurehead heading a church made up, anachronistically, of Britain and her mostly African and Asian former colonies. This will be an awkward state of affairs, and portends further fissures.

There is also a quintessentially 21st-century implication to this now quite-likely split. A solid majority of American Episcopalians supports their church's stance on homosexuality and gay marriage. A minority disagrees, and some of these members have even sought to pull their congregations out of the Episcopal Church and affiliate them with one of the Anglican churches in Africa that have been most vehemently opposed to the Episcopalians' decisions on homosexuality.

Along the same lines, any British or Canadian or Australian congregation that wished to disaffiliate from local forms of Anglicanism might well affiliate with the Episcopal Church. In fact, a few have already signaled their readiness.

Read it all.

Disputing the diagnosis

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's impressive Webcast has clarified one thing to me. She believes that we and our partners in the Anglican Communion are involved in a conversation, in which, over time, our Church will have an opportunity to advance the ideal of full inclusion for all of the baptized, whereas I believe that we are involved in a power struggle, which, over time, will exhaust our energies, compromise our credibility, sow unprecedented levels of internal discord, and make it impossible for us to practice full inclusion even within our own Church.

I would like to be wrong about this because, frankly, it would make my life easier to disengage from the debate over how we should respond to the Primates. So I welcome arguments from those who believe that I am being overly pessimistic.

In defense of anxiety

The PB is an excellent communicator. She presents her case well. But there is something that I think that she and some of our other bishops may not understand. It is not helpful when people who have power tell people who do not have power to dial down their anxieties, move beyond their fears, etc. Expressing our anxieties is often the only way we have of communicating with leaders who otherwise might not hear us, and might be willing to sacrifice our continued membership in the Church in order to achieve their own aims.

The Lysistrata bandwagon

You may recall that earlier this week I suggested that the surest way for the Anglican Communion to resolve its internal difference about the morality of various sorts of sexual relationships would be for Anglicans to abstain from sex until a resolution was reached.

I am delighted to report that Hugh Muir, who is writing the Diary column in the Guardian this week has embraced my proposal. Given his support, I expect the Lysistrata plan to be brought to the floor in the Church of England's General Synod more or less immediately.

Muir wrote: Finally let us pray with Jim Naughton, the canon for communications at the Diocese of Washington DC, who unveils an exciting new approach to problem solving. He says the row over homosexuality in the church would be quickly resolved if all Anglicans were forced to abstain from sex in the meantime. Perhaps this incentive-led approach should be used to improve conditions on the railways. The transport minister's wife might be lonely for a while. But eventually we would all be safer.

Bishop Jefferts Schori makes her case

Watch the Presiding Bishop's Webcast today at 10 a. m., EST. If you are checking in here before the event, tell me what you hope she will say. If you are checking in afterwards, I would be interested in your reaction.

My response to Kendall Harmon

Canon Kendall Harmon has done me the honor of naming a loophole after me, and then done me the additional honor of suggesting that he thinks I am still capable of listening to what people I disagree with have to say. I think he deserves a serious response.

In a lengthy article on his blog, Kendall wrote:
“I want further to make a plea specifically to Jim Naughton, since I feel I can talk to Jim and try to be heard (alas an increasing rarity in the deteriorating climate in the Episcopal Church at present).

“First, I want to ask whether you realize how ethnocentric your reading of the communiqué is. It sounds like it comes from the country where apostolic leaders act like lawyers. Are we not called as Anglicans to ask what others would think? Do you really believe that your reading of the Communiqué is the way an African or Southeast Asian Primate would intend it? Is there even a way to write the communiqué as Greg Venables thinks it should be read and that you would read as Archbishop Venables intends that would make sense in the language of most of the other parts of the world?

“Second, I want to plead with you to consider that the Anglican Communion is not something to be trifled with as if it were some kind of a game, as if it all came down to what the meaning of the word is is. Should not the thing to do in this instance be to bend over backwards to give the most globally Anglican interpretation of the document? It is not a small thing that the third largest Christian family in the world may break up. I pray it does not. And I especially pray if it does break up it will not be because we tried to find loopholes but instead that we tried as hard as we could to be honest with one another and heard what others were saying to us in their terms–KSH”.

Kendall’s article is full of citations buttressing an argument that proves to his satisfaction that the communiqué from the Primates recommends that the Episcopal Church stop the practice of blessing same sex relationships—period. I have suggested, in various interviews and in several entries that I am too lazy to link to, that I think the communiqué requests a moratorium on the authorization of rites, but not on the practice of blessings, the great majority of which occur without benefit of a rite.

Kendall, as a theologian, argues his point through a close reading of densely-worded texts. This is a useful approach in Scripture scholarship, and in the law—cases in which the authors of the document you are attempting to interpret are dead, or express themselves exclusively through judicial opinion. In this instance, the authors are alive, and relatively close at hand. That is why we already know that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s interpretation of the document differs from that of Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone. And for a truly unusual interpretation, try on Peter Akinola’s notion that the communiqué asks the Episcopal Church to stop ordaining gay clergy.

I don’t know why the publication of each Anglican document sets off an interpretive free for all. It happened after Windsor. It happened after Dromantine. It happened after the release of the sub-group’s report on the Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report, and it is happening again here. My own sense, from talking to some of the people involved in these various collaborative efforts is that ambiguous language is employed deliberately by those who perfect that final versions of these documents so that a “unanimous statement” can be released that keeps the Communion together long enough to argue another day.

I don’t doubt that some African and South East Asian Primates interpret the document differently than I do, or than Bishop Jefferts Schori does, but I don’t think that has anything to do with culture. (And I am not going to bother to defend myself against Kendall’s charge of ethnocentrism. There may be a less edifying spectacle that two comfortable middle-aged white guys arguing about which of them truly understands the spirit of the developing world, but nothing comes to mind at the moment.) It has to do with human beings’ natural tendency to interpret whatever is put before them in ways favorable to their own interests.

Fortunately, there is a way of clearing all of this up that doesn’t require consulting dead authors, or piling excerpts atop of one another and defending one’s interpretation of each dash and comma. We can ask the Archbishop of Canterbury how he interprets the document. He has actually weighed in on this issue, but in a way that I found confusing. Kendall quotes a fragment of the sentence that he spoke on this topic, but here is the whole thing:
“We have asked for more clarity as to whether a moratorium has indeed been agreed on the election of bishops in active sexual partnerships outside marriage; and we have suggested a similar voluntary moratorium by the bishops on licensing any kind of liturgical order for same-sex blessings (the understanding of the Meeting was certainly that this should be a comprehensive abstention from any public rites), at least for the period during which the wider discussion of the Covenant goes forward."

To my mind, the language about "licensing any kind of liturgical order" clearly supports the interpretation I have been advancing. But, I have to concede that the language in parenthesis "comprehensive abstention from any public rites" brings us back, at least, to the ambiguity of square one. The blessing of same sex unions in this country almost never involves a licensed rite. But the ceremonies are hardly private.

We can attempt to divine Williams’ intention by citing eight other instances in which he used the comprehensive, and tracing the history of the use of the word “public” since Lancelot Andrewes, but a simple statement of his position would be much more persuasive. At least two reporters that I am aware of have asked for clarification, but Lambeth Palace has yet to respond.

I am perfectly willing to accept whatever interpretation the Archbishop puts forth. I don’t have a burning desire to be right about this. I have a burning desire to be clear. Obviously, if Williams expects us to ban blessings (and then police the ban), Bishop Jefferts Schori will have a much harder time persuading our Church to accept the Primates’ recommendations than if Williams simply expects us to maintain what is essentially the status quo.

Before we begin the difficult conversation on this issue, it is essential that we know what is being asked of us.
In closing I’d like to respond to Kendall’s plea not to trifle with the Communion. That’s not what I’m doing. It is unfortunate that the Communion communicates with its members in language that requires the kind of scrutiny that Kendall and I have been engaged in. But it does. So we have no choice.

If the Primates’ recommendation leaves room for the continuation of same-sex blessings, then I can only assume that room exists for a reason. The reason, I suggest, is that the Archbishop of Canterbury and a few others may have realized that giving us this bit of room significantly increased the odds of keeping the Episcopal Church within the Communion. So, if that room exists, it exists for the sake of the Communion. And if it doesn’t exist, it is essential that Episcopalians understand that as they contemplate their decision.

I think that about covers it. For those of you who feel moved to comment on this article, I request that you not call Kendall arrogant, insincere or dishonest, that you not refer to him as a “weasel” nor accuse him of bad faith. And I hope it goes without saying that anyone who would suggest that Canon Harmon is “under the influence of the Father of lies, their minds darkened by their perversion of HIS Word,” will not be commenting on this blog anytime soon.

The bishop of South Dakota is not impressed

...by the Primates of the Anglican Communion:

He writes:

As a Bishop of this Church, I cannot turn my back on full inclusion for all persons, which has been at the heart of ministry in this Diocese since Bishop Hare came to Dakota Territory to minister to the Native People of this land, and continues to this day as we open our doors to all who would like to worship in this Church in South Dakota. We simply cannot now turn our collective backs on those who wish to worship with us and I call on all congregations to continue to be a "safe place" for all to gather in our Lord's name.

Popping my buttons

I have never had a loophole named after me before. And to share the honor with Bishop Sisk makes the honor that much sweeter. I'd like to thank Kendall Harmon, our director Martin Scorcese--you're the best man, Sherry Lansing, who believed in this project when no one else did... (tugs on right earlobe, exits left.)

Tune in tomorrow

Watch Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's Webcast here tomorrow at 10 a. m., EST.

...and responds again, this time to friends

I am among those who no longer think it is helpful to Bishop Robinson to be the "face" of the struggle for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church. The world needs to see other leaders in our Church stepping forward and speaking out. The more the struggle is "about" Gene as an indiviudal, the less it is about justice. And the more it is about Gene, the easier it is for his opponents to undermine a movement by undermining one man. I think no one understands this better than Bishop Robinson himself.

All that said, the piece lurking beneath the "continue reading" tab is pretty darn good. If you are hurting over recent developments in our Church, if you are worried that our episcopal leaders are going to buy unity--and tickets to Lambeth, at the price of our consciences, this is a piece you need to read.

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Bishop Robinson responds

I don't know if he was silent by design, or simply because he was on vacation, but I think Bishop Gene Robinson was wise to allow some of his peers to respond to the recommendations from the Anglican Primates Meeting before weighing in himself. But he's now got a statement out, and you can find it by clicking on the "continue reading" tab.

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Last ditch effort against Nigerian bill

A letter from Integrity:

You may have heard that the Nigerian Senate is considering a bill (the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act) that would criminalize all activities related to homosexuality--from private consensual behavior to speech, assembly, and commitment ceremonies. It appears that the bill will be brought up for a final vote in the Senate on Thursday, March 1st. The bill has already passed the Nigerian House.

Davis Mac-Iyalla of Changing Attitude Nigeria is asking for our help. Here are two concrete things you can do...

1) Send an e-mail to Archbishop Peter Akinola (primate@anglican-nig.org ) asking him to use his considerable influence with the Senate to defeat the bill. Remind him that paragraph 146 of the Windsor Report states that, ''any demonising of homosexual persons, or their ill treatment, is totally against Christian charity and basic principles of pastoral care."

2) Call the Nigerian Embassy (202-986-8400 ) in Washington, DC, to express your concerns about the bill. Remind embassy staff that Nigeria is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees freedom from unfair discrimination and the right to privacy. Parts of the act are also inconsistent with the principle of non-discrimination found in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Nigerian Constitution.

Integrity is working with Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights Campaign on other ways to defeat the bill.

See http://www.iglhrc.org/files/iglhrc/reports/Voices_Nigeria.pdf for copy of the bill, as well as stories from Nigerians who have experienced discrimination as a result of their sexual orientation.

GTS dean's letter to the seminary community

To read the Very Rev. Ward B. Ewing's letter to the students and faculty of the General Theological Seminary in New York City, click on the continue reading tab.

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Further developments in Nigeria

Matt Thompson continues to track the debate to legalize human rights violations against gays and lesbians and their supporters in Nigeria.

The most recent information I have comes from a professional acquaintance who is working against it:

"As you may have heard, the situation has become critical. With just 2 days notice, the Nigerian House unexpectedly held hearings on the bill on Valentine’s Day that has draconian measures against lesbian and gay people . After the hearings, the House acted quickly on the legislation, and now is poised for a final vote. In the Nigerian Senate, where we thought we had at least until the end of March, we learned last night that the Senate will likely vote on the bill this Thursday. After that, the two versions of the bill have to be harmonized and the bill has to be signed into law, but neither of those steps is expected to present any obstacles to the bill. The Christian right is fast-tracking the legislation prior to the mid-April elections. We are all depressed to realize that the bill is likely about to become law.

"Nonetheless, we and our friends in Nigeria are pulling out all stops."

Tuesday morning round-up

In addition to being the subject of NPR's Talk of the Nation today at 2 p. m. EST, the Anglican Communion's wrangling over homosexuality will also be the subject of the BBC's World Have Your Say program at 1 p. m. EST. That program will focus on a question raised by Rowan Williams' presidential address to the General Synod of the Church of England yesterday: Is the Communion obsessed with sex?

Elsewhere: Richard at Caught by the Light is among those distressed by Rowan Williams bizarre attempt to elevate Lambeth Resolutions to holy writ.

Inspired by the Mad Priest, Nick Knisely asks: Are we in danger of chasing so fast after the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic models of relating to one another that we're forgetting that we've something to add too? I don't know - but I want to think a bit more about the question.

And EpiScope has a story about a Florida pastor who was apparently living in a glass house when he threw stones at the Episcopal Church.

TOTN

The Episcopal Church is the topic de jour today on Talk of the Nation, 2 p. m. EST on your NPR affiliate.

An Immodest Proposal from Tobias Haller

Here is Tobias Haller's first draft of a proposed response to the recommendations made to our Church by the Primates of the Anglican Communion. Anything Tobais writes is worth a read including grocery lists, so I urge you to spend some time with it. There is recognition here that our Church has been on the defensive since at least 2003, and that we must reverse that dynamic if we are to survive. I find that encouraging. What are your thoughts?

Pray for Davis, and write to Lambeth

Liz Zizanov of the Diocese of Hawaii posted this appeal from Davis Mac-Iyalla on the House of Bishops and Deputies list tonight. Pray for Davis, and write to Lambeth. Is it possible that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the people around him don't understand that his failure to confront Peter Akinola over this bill and the Church of Nigeria's treatment of Davis has undermined his ability to speak out on any other human rights issue?

Dear Friends,

I don't know if members of this group can do much to help us in Nigeria?

This morning I got a call from an unknown caller who wanted to find out where I am at the time. I ask him to introduced himself since I don't know him and he said so you are back from your trip and off the phone on me. I called the number back and a woman picked and said it is a public call phone. My surprise is how he did get my number which is very private.

I have been talking with friends and supporters of how to go to a safe place for some time at list. The bill to ban us in moving fast to become law. The worst of all is that +Akinola is the master and brain be hide this bill, recently he has been lobbying the presidency to put pressure on the senate and house of representatives to speed up the process in passing the bill.

This evening I have receive news from Abuja that the bill is likely to be passed be fore the end of March. And members of Akinola staffs boosting that CAN will soon be illegal and me will be sent to prison. Most of my members are now calling and sending me mails to askwhat will become of them if this bill is passed?

This is one question that I don't have the answers to right now, my appeal to everyone is to help use any medium that you can to drew the attention of the world and church leaders to this Nigerian problem.

If tears can changed things I think by now I would have changed the situation of the Nigerian LGBT Christians.

If you can dear brothers and sisters please give a last minute call to your bishops or anyone you know that can add there voices to put pressures on the Nigerian government and +Akinola who is the current president of the Nigeria Chastain Association that is requiting that the bill be passed soon.

Please spread this massage if you can.

Thanks
Davis Mac-Iyalla
Nigeria

A cogent critique

The Anglican Scotist appraises Rowan William's presidential address to the General Synod.

He wrote: "... Williams' manner betrays an unaccountable, self-serving, and indeed incoherent exercise of power that should give some contemplating their place in the AC under a covenant pause. Is +++Williams really so naive as not to see this, or might he suppose it his privilege?"

Virginia litigation will continue says chancellor

ENS has the story:

Lawyers for the Episcopal Church have told two attorneys representing some of the 11 Diocese of Virginia congregations involved in a legal dispute over possession of church property that "there is no basis at this time" to put that litigation on hold.

Washington, D.C. attorneys Mary A. McReynolds and Steffen N. Johnson asked by letter on February 22 that the litigation be put on hold after the communiqué issued at the end of the recent Primates' Meeting "urge[d] the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation."

The Primates' recommendation concerning litigation was one of a number of interrelated recommendations which they made concerning the way the Episcopal Church should deal with disagreements among its members.

In their February 26 reply, David Booth Beers, chancellor to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and his colleague Heather H. Anderson, first reminded the two attorneys that the Anglican Communion is a federation and not a "juridical or legislative body."

Thus, they wrote, it "has no legal authority over the affairs of its members."

The worst of Geneva, the worst of Rome

Now there's a slogan. Christopher of Bending the Rule says that's where our Communion is heading. He foresees a conciliar papism with an evangelical fundamentalist theology.

Newbie

This blogger is new to me, but I like her already.

From Newark

Ann is at it again.

Here is Bishop Mark Beckwith of Newark:

"... I agree with those who say that proving full rights and privileges in the church for gay and lesbian people is a matter of justice. But for me, it goes deeper than that: “I think it is important to speak of the giftedness of the entire human family” (which is what I wrote in response to one of the questions in the nominating process). I believe that homosexuality is a unique gift – among a host of other unique gifts – be it ability, ethnicity, race, or class. I pray that the diversity of sexual orientation should not be a problem for the church, but a gift to the church. Gay and lesbian people – clergy and lay, have certainly been a gift to the Diocese of Newark. And I believe that relationships marked by fidelity, faith, and commitment need to be held up and celebrated."

U.S. Religious Delegation Finds Hope in Iran

Here's a statement from a delegation of Christian leaders who have just returned from a visit to Iran. Among their number was Maureen Shea, director of the Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations.

As Christian leaders from the United States, we traveled to the Islamic Republic of Iran at this time of increased tension believing that it is possible to build bridges of understanding between our two countries. We believe military action is not the answer, and that God calls us to just and peaceful relationships within the global community.

We are a diverse group of Christian leaders from United Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic, Baptist, Evangelical, Quaker, and Mennonite traditions. The Mennonites have 17 years of on the ground experience in Iran. We were warmly welcomed by the Iranian people, and our time in Iran convinced us that religious leaders from both countries can help pave the way for mutual respect and peaceful relations between our nations.

During our visit we met with Muslim and Christian leaders, government officials, and other Iranian people.

Our final day included a meeting with former President Khatami and current President Ahmadinejad. The meeting with President Ahmadinejad was the first time an American delegation had met in Iran with an Iranian president since the Islamic revolution in 1979. The meeting lasted two-and-a-half hours and covered a range of topics, including the role of religion in transforming conflict, Iraq, nuclear proliferation, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What the delegation found most encouraging from the meeting with President Ahmadinejad was a clear declaration from him that Iran has no intention to acquire or use nuclear weapons, as well as a statement that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be solved through political, not military means. He said, "I have no reservation about conducting talks with American officials if we see some goodwill."

We believe it is possible for further dialogue and that there can be a new day in U.S. — Iranian relations. The Iranian government has already built a bridge toward the American people by inviting our delegation to come to Iran. We ask the U.S. government to welcome a similar delegation of Iranian religious leaders to the United States.

As additional steps in building bridges between our nations, we call upon both the U.S. and Iranian governments to:

immediately engage in direct, face-to-face talks;
cease using language that defines the other using "enemy" images; and
promote more people-to-people exchanges including religious leaders, members of Parliament/Congress, and civil society.
As people of faith, we are committed to working toward these and other confidence building measures, which we hope will move our two nations from the precipice of war to a more just and peaceful relationship.

Find it here.

Bishop Michael Curry's statement

Read it here.

Hat tip to Ann Fontaine.

The Archbishop's address

Thanks to everyone who sent me thins link while I was in a meeting. Here is the Archbishop of Canterbury's presidential address to the General Synod of the Church of England.

I will let the rest of you have at this. I just want to note that Williams comments directly on the same-sex blessing business, and yet somehow fails to clear it up. Have a look:

"We have asked for more clarity as to whether a moratorium has indeed been agreed on the election of bishops in active sexual partnerships outside marriage; and we have suggested a similar voluntary moratorium by the bishops on licensing any kind of liturgical order for same-sex blessings (the understanding of the Meeting was certainly that this should be a comprehensive abstention from any public rites), at least for the period during which the wider discussion of the Covenant goes forward."

The language used in the first case "licensing any kind of liturgical order" clearly supports the interpretation I have been advancing. The language in parenthesis "comprehensive abstention from any public rites" brings us back to the ambiguity of square one. The blessing of same sex unions in this country almost never involves a licensed rite. But the ceremonies are hardly private. Why is it so hard to achieve some clarity on this point?

One more thing. I found this passage quite clarifying:

"Much has been made of the relative nobility of a ‘Here I stand’ position as compared with the painful brokering and compromising needed for unity’s sake. It’s impossible not to feel the force of this. Yet – to speak personally for a moment – the persistence of the Communion as an organically international and intercultural unity whose aim is to glorify Jesus Christ and to work for his Kingdom is for me and others just as much a matter of deep personal and theological conviction as any other principle. About this, I am entirely prepared to say ‘Here I stand and I cannot do otherwise’. And I believe the Primates have said the same.'"

I think he is wrong about the Primates. The story of this meeting was that of a small group willing to split the Communion if Williams did not capitulate to them. He did. They have not made the statement he attributes to them. They have simply gotten their way.

That said, I think Williams commitment to hold the Communion together at all costs is now as clear as can be. He is doing this at the expense of many now in the Communion, but that is a price he is willing to have them pay.

Lysistrata

There's been a lot of talk about "fasting" since the release of the Primates communique. To use the Presiding Bishop's metaphor, we've been called to "fast" from pushing our commitment to the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life and ministries of our Church.

Some, like Susan Russell, have suggested that if we are going to fast from blessing gay relationships, and consecrating gay bishops, we should also fast from blessing heterosexual relationships and consecrating heterosexual bishops as well. Such a strategy spreads the burdens of abstinence equally, and avoids turning gay Christians into our "designated fasters."

I think I've got a better idea. Our arguments about homosexuality have revealed deep disagreements about the nature and purpose of physical intimacy. Until these disagreements can be sorted out, I believe that all Anglicans should abstain from sexual contact. This would bind the Communion together in shared sacrifice. It would also give heterosexuals a deeper appreciation of the celibacy that they are urging upon gay Christians, and I think it would bring our crisis to a speedy conclusion.

Such a fast would require strict policing, so I was encouraged to learn that the American Anglican Council is setting up a Compliance Office to monitor the Episcopal Church's response to the communique. I think without too much persuasion they would be willing to accept the job.

Archbishop of Canterbury to speak to General Synod

The Archbishop of Canterbury speaks to the Geneal Synod of the Church of England today at just a littel after 9 a. m. EST. I will link to his remarks as soon as I have a url.

Alarming words from Rowan Williams

I finally tracked down a url for this interview that the Archbishop of Canterbury gave to a Tanzanian newspaper just before he left that country. You may have seen it elsewhere by now, but I am posting it here because I think it is a significant document. (You might want to copy the text into a word document; it is difficult to read online.)

If widely circulated, I believe it will significantly handicap Bishop Jefferts Schori in her efforts to persuade our Church to accept the difficult recommendations being urged upon us by the Primates. I say this in part because Rowan Williams asserts that gay people living in relationships should not be ordained Not ordained as bishops, mind you, but simply not ordained. In the wake of the meeting in Tanzania, both he and Peter Akinola have spoken out against gay ordination. Akinola is under the mistaken impression that the Primates’ communiqué touches upon this issue. It does not. But these two statements, one on the heels of the other, suggest if we accept the current recommendations of the Primates, other “recommendations” will soon by on their way.

Perhaps more alarming, Williams' statements demonstrate that he has an embraced a view of the Communion that vests unprecedented authority in his office and that of the other Instruments of Unity. No such authority has never been conferred upon the instruments by the member Churches of the Communion, but Williams seems to have joined the Akinolytes in behaving as though it has. This leads to the use of profoundly troubling language about “standards” and “teachings” within the Communion.

The distinction between a belief that is held by a majority of the Churches in the Communion and one that is an enforceable “standard” would not seem to be difficult for a man of Williams’ intellect to make, but, increasingly, he fails to make it. Likewise, his view that Lambeth resolutions constitute “teachings” that command allegiance is patently false.

If however, we are going to start throwing resolutions at one another and demanding submission, how about this one:

Union Among the Churches of the Anglican Communion - Encyclical Letter 1.5

There are certain principles of church order which, your Committee consider, ought to be distinctly recognised and set forth, as of great importance for the maintenance of union among the Churches of our Communion.

1 First, that the duly certified action of every national or particular Church, and of each ecclesiastical province (or diocese not included in a province), in the exercise of its own discipline, should be respected by all the other Churches, and by their individual members.

2. Secondly, that when a diocese, or territorial sphere of administration, has been constituted by the authority of any Church or province of this Communion within its own limits, no bishop or other clergyman of any other Church should exercise his functions within that diocese without the consent of the bishop thereof.

3. Thirdly, that no bishop should authorise to officiate in his diocese a clergyman coming from another Church or province, unless such clergyman present letters testimonial, countersigned by the bishop of the diocese from which he comes; such letters to be, as nearly as possible, in the form adopted by such Church or province in the case of the transfer of a clergyman from one diocese to another.

This foundational piece of work from the Encyclical released with unanimous approval after the Lambeth Conference of 1878 would seem to deserve at least as much respect as the 1998 resolution on human sexuality. But Williams’ comments suggest a willingness to disregard it. His current position indicates to me that at this delicate moment, everything about the way we govern ourselves is up for grabs. The archbishop is attempting to bestow moral legitimacy upon positions that are politically expedient and nothing more.

We lack the influence to stop him in this disingenuous pursuit, but it is essential that we call attention to his behavior and consider its implications for the wellbeing of our Church.

The PB's presentation #1

I was glad to hear Bishop Jefferts Schori say that while the Primates have asked us not to "authorize" Rites of Blessing for same-sex relatinships, they have not asked us to stop blessing such relationships as we currenlty do. There are people out there who would have you believe that I made that distinction up.

Archbishop Venables of the Southern Cone has already called the PB's interpreation "alarmingly disingenuous," but I think that Bishop Jefferts Schori would have taken special care to get her facts straight on this point, knowing that our willingness to assent to the recommendations might well depend on it.

The argument made flesh

In her presentation to the staff at Church Center in New York, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has argued that we need to accept the recommendations of the Primates to keep “the conversation” about homosexuality going in the Anglican Communion.

Tobias Haller, BSG (Brotherhood of Saint Gregory) and FOTB (Friend of This Blog) has written an extensive essay on the Episcopal Church’s failure to make a theological case to justify its actions in blessing gay relationships and ordaining a gay bishop.

Both of these people are much smarter than I am, and I urge you to listen to Bishop Katharine and read the good Tobias.

But—and you knew there was a “but”—I can’t help wondering if these two thoughtful, seminary-trained (and I don’t mean that as a slur) people and others like them aren’t missing, or at the very least under-appreciating an essential point:

Example is infinitely more powerful than argument.

If words were enough, the Incarnation would have been unnecessary.

We are being asked to provide no further examples of the gifts a gay or lesbian bishop might bring to that office. We are being asked, at least by some of the Primates, to deprive our Church, our Communion and our world of the example of gay men and lesbian women living in life-giving, Church-blessed partnerships.

How does acceding to these requests increase our chances of persuading people that we have done the right thing?

(Update: I have given another listen to the PB's presenation. She explictly endorese the value of "incarnational encounters", yet wants us to refrain from providing them. I don't get it.)

Romans 10: 8b-13

Marshall Scott is asking the only question that matters.

Nigerian law moves toward passage

Matt Thompson at Political Spaghetti has an illuminating, but depressing series of posts on the Nigerian legislation that Bishop John Bryson Chane began speaking out against more than a year ago. Matt has pretty much demolished all of the rationalizations that conservative Anglicans such as Bishop Martyn Minns have used to explain away Archbishop Peter J. Akinola's support for the legislation.

U. N. Human Rights experts have spoken out against this bill, noting that it violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and have urged the Nigerian government to withdraw it.

Here is some of what they said:

" We are apprehensive that, if adopted, the proposed law will make persons engaging in, or perceived to be engaging in, same sex relationships in Nigeria more susceptible to arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and ill-treatment and expose them even more to violence and attacks on their dignity. The proposed law may lead to the denial of opportunities and conditions necessary for the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. In particular, the Bill is likely to undermine HIV/AIDS education and prevention efforts by driving stigmatized communities underground, posing a threat to the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health."

Here is what Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has had to say: Nuthin'.

Elsewhere

I am just back from the Diocesan Council retreat, and just starting to poke around on the Web. There's good stuff elsewhere, Our home page has news of Bishop Jefferts Schori's Webcast on Wednesday at 10 a. m., as well as links to the audio of a presentation she gave at Church Center on Friday. Episcope has links to a number of recent news stories, as does Thinking Anglicans. And be sure to have a look at Tobias Haller's essay "Of the Danger of Self-Evident Truths.+

I haven't thought about any of these items deeply enough to have a response, but I do sense a real tension among those who support the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life and ministry of our Church between fighting recommendations that they find hateful, and supporting a presiding bishop toward whom they feel great affection.

Canadian Primate finds communique "discouraging"

Anglican Journal has an interview with Canadian Primate Andrew Hutchison.

The lede:

Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said that he had been “profoundly discouraged” by the communiqué issued by Anglican leaders warning the U.S. church of consequences if it did not abandon its liberal stance on sexuality, and had found it “tempting” not to sign it.

Archbishop Hutchison acknowledged that some Canadian Anglicans are “angry” that he signed the communiqué, but explained that he had taken his lead from U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. “I told her (Bishop Jefferts Schori), ‘It’s all about you. If you decide not to sign, I won’t sign. I’ll be there with you.’” He added that Bishop Jefferts Schori had told him that not signing the communiqué would send a message to the church and to the world “that at great expense and effort, we have accomplished nothing and we have nothing to say.”

The communiqué had “virtually not one encouraging word for gay and lesbian people who have felt so far on the margins,” Archbishop Hutchison told a staff briefing at the national church office in Toronto shortly after his return from the primates’ meeting held Feb. 15-19 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

And don't miss this bit:

“To my relief and astonishment, there was no discussion of Canada; they were so eager to jump on the American case,” he said.

Unintended consequences

I leave in a few hours for our Diocesan Council retreat, and won't be online again until Saturday evening at the earliest. In my absence, I wanted to direct you to a) to Bonnie Anderson's letter four items down blog; b) the excellent responses we have received to The Question of Consensus and c) this questions for today.

Might there be unintended consequences to accepting the recommendations of the Primates? (I keep typing Primates as Pirates. Don't know what that's about.) If so, what might they be?

To get the conversational ball rolling, let me suggest that one unintended consequence of accepting the Primates' recommendations would be the compromising of our political witness. We can hardly ask other people to risk their political or institutional security to help build God's Kingdom when those of us who pledge to do this at Baptism retreat from the field.

What other unintended consequences, positive and negative , do you perceive?

A must-read from Steven Bates

His piece in The Tablet provides a depth missing from newspaper reports. Registration may be required.

The other must-read is Bonnie Anderson's letter three items down. I know I have said that before. But you know what? I will probably say it again.

Akinolas say the darndest things

Peter Akinola seems to think that the Primates have asked us to stop a) celebrating gay marriages and b) ordaining gay men and lesbians.

The problem is that we don't do a, and the Primates communiqué says not a word about b.

But Akinola is clearly against ordaining homosexuals. So, if we are willing to allow the Primates to assume governance for some of our diocese, declare a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops and stop authorizing rites for the blessing of same-sex relationships, we can remain in the Anglican Communion where he can force his opinion upon us.

So there's that to look forward to.

Akinola's remarks came after an otherwise auspicious occasion, the launch of second CAPA HIV/AIDS TB & MALARIA Strategic Plan in Nairobi.

I don't like postings full of links

...but you all keep saying such interesting things. But before you read this item, be sure to see Bonnie Anderson's letter one item down.

Back? Here we go::

Here is an analysis of the Primates Communique by Mark Harris of Preludium, who, it should be remembered, is not just some scruffy blog jockey, but a member of the Executive Council, which meets early next month in Portland. He writes: The Bishops could affirm or deny the requests, and deal with the consequences. But why must they? Suppose the requests were determined to be misplaced – that they belonged not to the House of Bishops but to the whole deliberative assembly of Synod (General Convention)? Suppose, even better, that the forced choice between conscience and communion was rejected? Suppose the Bishops said, we choose a better way – conscience and communion?

The Admiral of Morality picks apart Rowan Williams' recent article in the Telegraph (see two items down). My favorite bit:

"In a column in the Daily Telegraph, the Archbishop of Canterbury submits the following statement:

"'One of the hardest things in all this has been to keep insisting on the absolute moral imperative of combating bigotry and violence against gay people, and the need to secure appropriate civic and legal protection for couples who have chosen to share their lives. These are different matters from whether the Church has the freedom to bless same-sex unions.'

"One of the hardest things in all this is that Canterbury continues to pursue this line of reasoning with a supposedly straight face."

The Rev. Susan Russell takes Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona, a former colleague of hers, to task for shedding crocodile tears as he endorses the Primates' communique.

Meanwhile, the Mad Priest has a "Cunning plan" for a worldwide Episcopal Church, And Father Jake, channeling his friend Bill Bartosh, says it is time we put an end to our equivocating and authorized gay marriage.

The pot, I believe, has been vigorously stirred.

Update: The Telegraph has this, but it doesn't advance the story.

Bonnie Anderson has some serious reservations

The president of our House of Deputies has issued a statement on the Primates Meeting which raises a critical question: Is it appropriate to send her flowers?

Here's an excerpt: "As president of the 800-plus member House of Deputies, it is my duty to ensure that the voice of the clergy and the laity of our Church will be heard as the Church discusses and debates the Primates' requests and that that process will not be pre-empted by the House of Bishops or any other group. I have already begun to work toward that end.

"All Anglicans must remember that the second Lambeth Conference in 1878 recommended that "the duly certified action of every national or particular Church, and of each ecclesiastical province (or diocese not included in a province), in the exercise of its own discipline, should be respected by all the other Churches, and by their individual members."

Meanwhile, ENS has an excellent round-up of bishops' statements and comments. Pay special attention to anything said by Bishops Bruce MacPherson, Don Wimberly and the other so-called Camp Allen bishops. It is possible, though by no means certain, that their brother and sister bishops will acquiesce in this minority's Primate-abetted grab for power. But if the House of Deputies resists, we will have a constitutional struggle on our hands.

The bishops of Chicago and Spokane react

Bishop William D. Persell has thoughtfully dissected the Primates' communiqué.

"As bishop of Chicago I will not sacrifice the gifts we enjoy as an inclusive church so that we might conform to a doctrinal uniformity that is antithetical to our historic identity and experience. I will continue to invite gay and lesbian Christians into the full life and ministry of our diocesan community, and celebrate their gifts of ministry and covenanted relationships. Admittedly, there are those within our Church, both in our diocese and the larger Communion, who prefer we suspend our efforts at full inclusion for the sake of a seat in the Communion’s councils. That approach, which we engaged in 2005 by our voluntary withdrawal from the Anglican Consultative Council, and institution of a moratorium on episcopal consents, has done little to increase sympathy and understanding of our church culture and experience among our critics. To continue in this fashion would undermine our integrity as a Spirit-led community, and constitute a moral injustice for our gay and lesbian members. I, for one, am not prepared to make that sacrifice. I continue to be profoundly grateful for the contributions of our gay and lesbian members, lay and ordained, in our diocesan life."

Bishop James E. Waggoner of Spokane has also expressed some reservations.

And, in case you missed it earlier, Bishop John Chane's statement is here.

Rowan plus one

"Why the Anglican Communion Matters" by Rowan Williams in the Telegraph.

"Episcopal Choices" by Rachel Zoll includes a quote from Ann Fontaine, in an essay which you can find four items down.

Bishop John Bryson Chane's statement on the Primates Meeting

The Right Reverend John Bryson Chane
Bishop of Washington

February 22, 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Like many of you, I have spent the last several days studying and praying over the recent communiqué from the Primates Meeting of the Anglican Communion and our Presiding Bishop’s Word to the Church. Like many of you, I feel that I do not yet have sufficient information about what is expected from the Episcopal Church to make a conclusive judgment about all of the recommendations that the Primates have put before us.

It is not yet clear to me which of our Church’s governing bodies is best equipped to make a full response to the Communion. Nor do I fully understand what the plan that designates a “primatial vicar” for those who do not accept certain actions of our Church would look like in practice. That is to say nothing of whether this intrusion in our governance can be justified.

I will learn more about these issues through conversations next week with the Presiding Bishop, and through the deliberations of our Executive Council, which meets March 2-4, in Portland, Oregon. I hope to write to you again after the annual spring meeting of the House of Bishops, which begins on March 17 at Camp Allen, in Texas, but let me make a few observations today.

I am deeply distressed that the Primates spent so much time discussing the internal life of the Episcopal Church and devoted so little attention to the woeful state of our global community. The Gospel summons us to a unified effort against the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, hunger, poverty, human rights violations, the degradation of women and children and the behavior of corrupt governments. Yet the Primates continue to behave as though quashing dissent on issues of human sexuality were the central calling of the Christian faith.

Regarding the recommendations to the Episcopal Church, I am willing to be persuaded that a temporary compromise on issues of governance may be necessary to keep the Anglican Communion intact. However, under no circumstances will I support a moratorium on the consecration of individuals living in same-sex relationships to the episcopacy, and under no circumstances will I enforce a ban on the blessing of same sex unions in the Diocese of Washington, if that, in fact, is what the Primates are asking us to do.

Christians throughout the world are born into cultures that persecute, stigmatize and deny the dignity of God’s gay and lesbian children. We marginalize them, make them scapegoats and refuse their manifold gifts. The Episcopal Church is as guilty of these offenses as any other, and in recognizing this we have begun a journey of repentance. In its fourth decade, this journey is still incomplete, and its success, as ever, is in doubt. How agonizing then, in this holy season of Lent, to see the Archbishop of Canterbury succumb to the Archbishop of Nigeria and call upon us to remain in our sins.

Please pray for the Anglican Communion, for the Episcopal Church and your brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Washington as we reason together to find our way forward.

In Christ's Peace, Power and Love,
The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane, D.D.
Bishop of Washington

More reax

The Primus of Scotland.

The Bishop of Northern California.

The question of consensus

As the Episcopal Church considers its response to the recommendations of the Anglican Primates a question has arisen that I can't answer, and I would love the benefit of your thoughts.

Episcopalians who believe we should accede to the Primates' recommendations, but who support the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in the Church, are arguing that in acceding to the recommendations, we would only be pausing in our pursuit of full inclusion. They suggest that room is being cleared in which serious discussion about human sexuality can eventually begin, and that from that discussion a new consensus might emerge. Therefore, the are arguing, placing a moratorium on the consecration of a bishop in a same-sex relationship, and banning the blessing of same-sex relationships (I don't think this is what is the Primates are asking us to do, but some folks are willing to take that step, so I use their interpretation here) may merely be a temporary measure.

This thinking informs the Presiding Bishop's recent "Word to the Church," and is articulated here by the Rev. Tony Clavier, who says: "Surely if it is in God's will that gays and lesbians may marry, or bishops in same sex relationships are the thing of the future, we can all wait to see if this revelation becomes apparent more widely across the world before we break ranks with our family and tradition?"

My question is this, if a change in Church teaching is to occur on these issues, how will it occur? Can changes of this sort occur through orderly consensus in a process led by Primates and scholars? Are their examples in history that support such a view?

I'd appreciate any insight you have to offer on this

Fasting from Lambeth

The Rev. Ann Fontaine, a deputy to General Convention, 2006, from the Diocese of Wyoming has written a thoughtful reflection on the Primates' communique and Bishop Jefferts Schori's "Word to the Church." To read it click the "continue reading"

It includes this message to the Communion: "If you do not want us at Lambeth 2008 - we accept that and will use all the funds we would have spent on that meeting for the relief of suffering around the world ... This will be our communal fast."

And speaking of Ann Fontaine, visit her new blog, Green Lent.

Read more »

The things people say

The must-read is from Mark Harris, who concludes:

"Archbishop Williams is a quite remarkable person and carrying a load no one ought to bear. It seems he feels he has been placed where he is to bear the marks of suffering for unity. That suffering has become, it seems, his integrity.

"But unity has already been established in Jesus Christ. The unity of the Anglican Communion as a regulatory agency is not the unity that Our Lord prayed for. That unity is relational, not confessional. The Creator and The Annointed One are one in relation. Surely the Archbishop's integrity of person and position can be relational as well. Unity is not the cause for which he must suffer. My prayer is that he can let it go.

"The unity of the Anglican Communion may be let go of as easily as breathing out. When it came into being, it was relational. It has existed relationally. Perhaps even in its disunity it can still be relational."

Richard has A Personal Manifesto, at Caught by the Light.

Dean Nick Knisely of Entangled States has news that his bishop, Kirk Smith of Arizona, is endorsing the Primates' recommendatios and predicting that the House of Bishops will endorse them as well.

The Anglican Scotist: A Tacit Liberal Triumph in Tanzania (On women's ordination)

And Father Jones, the Anglican Centrist has an Ash Wednesday reflection on some of the issues raised by the meeting in Tanzania.

Bishop Paul Marshall responds to the Primates

A brainy, witty response to the Primates has arrived from Bishop Paul Marshall of Bethlehem, and I urge you to read it all beneath the "continue reading" tab. By way of inducment I offer:

if how others view us becomes our consuming concern, our mission will suffer or die. Our diocesan mission statement (Live God's Love: Tell What You Have Seen and Heard) requires us to be witnesses. If our witness in word and deed is being drowned in fears about what our cousins may be thinking about us, the question of idolatry will need to be explored. Is the Compass Rose ever a golden calf?

Read more »

More Episcopal bishops respond to the Primates

Bishop Steven Charleston of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambride, Massachusetts has written to the seminary community. The letter is available by clicking the "continue reading tab. Hre is an excerpt:

:Enough is enough. It is time to make our intentions clear, come what may. I pray that you will help EDS carry that message to every corner of the Church, in humility and with an open mind, but carry it with a resolve that will not bend under pressure or falter under threats. This church is either truly open to all, or it is closed to the Spirit. We either stand for what we know is just and embrace our GLBT members, or we stand aside as justice is denied. There is no easy way out of this choice. There is only a gospel way forward.

Bishop James J. Jelinek of Minnesota writes:

I, for one bishop, will not turn my back on full inclusion of all persons, which has been at the heart of the Diocese of Minnesota for 150 years—since the time when our first Bishop, Henry Benjamin Whipple, and American Indian leaders worked together to provide ministry across social boundaries.

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Ash Wednesday

Jake has the T. S. Eliot poem I was going to use, so here, instead, is this bit of The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. (Hat tip, Deacon Vicki Black:)

"No one can commit so great a sin as to exhaust the infinite love God. Or can there be a sin that would exceed the love of God? Only you must never forget to think continually of repentance, but dismiss your fear altogether. Believe that God loves you in a way you cannot even conceive of. He loves you in spite of your sin and in your sin. So go and do not be afraid."

A view from within the Church of England

The Mad Priest writes:

The only way forward that I can see that would bring God's love and a proper place in the Church to gay people is if TEC, within or without the Communion, declares full equality in all things ecclesiastical and sacramental for gay people and other well behaved deviants. However, in order to be truly just they must make sure from the outset that this would be a universal offer and not just restricted to Americans. In other words they would have to have a worked out mission plan and church planting strategy for the whole world. O.k. they can't set up diocese in Mongolia on day one, but something more than just an intention must be in place before they declare their independence from the Grand Tufti.

Bishop Mark Sisk of New York

His letter to his diocese is beneath the "continue reading" tab.

Here are a few sentences:

Over the years I have been prepared to make certain accommodations to meet the concerns of those whose view of the Gospel promise differs somewhat from my own. I am fully aware that those accommodations have not been uncontroversial. Now, I want to make it abundantly clear that I am not in the least prepared to make any concession that strikes at the heart of my conviction that gay and lesbian people are God’s beloved children. They are we. Our witness to the Gospel would be unthinkably deformed if by some tragic misjudgment we willingly submitted ourselves to vivisection.

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The Guardian's view

A Guardian editorial on the Anglican Primates meeting:

This is a victory for the Nigerian archbishop Peter Akinola, whose attempts to intervene in America by appointing a conservative evangelical priest now have official support, and a defeat for Episcopalian bishops who had hoped to be allowed to find their own path. It is also an embarrassment for the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose own progressive views on sexuality now have little to do with the preaching of his own church. He is left looking like a man who has put unity ahead of everything, including belief. In the wake of the deal, outsiders might be forgiven for asking what the Anglican communion now stands for, apart from its own continued existence.

Bishops in the press

The Washington Post: Some U. S, Bishops reject Anglican gay rights edict

Bishop Steven Charleston, president of the Episcopal Divinity School: "I would be willing to accept being told I'm not in communion with places like Nigeria if it meant I could continue to be in a position of justice and morality."

The San Francisco Chroncle: Same-sex edict worries Bay Area Episcopalians

Bishop Marc Andrus: "I'm resolved that we're not going to turn our backs on any members of the diocese. If we have unity where we have hollowed out our moral core to achieve it, then it's a hollow victory. ... I don't think we can build our unity on a foundation of injustice."

The Hartford Courant: Episcopal leaders expect Anglican schism

Bishop Andrew Smith of Connecticut: "If the Council of Primates is asking us to undo what we have already done, that is a step many of the [American] bishops would be unwilling to take."

The Los Angeles Times: U. S. Episcopalians react to church ruling.

"An interpretive free for all"

USA Today makes an easily understandable mistake in quoting me today. I said the the Episcopal Church was engaged in "an interpretive free for all" in the wake of the Anglican Primates Meeting. Their reporter heard that as "an interpretive free fall." Alas.

The story is here.

I have made the same sort of mstake myself a time or three in my career, so it is hard for me to get too bent out of shape about it. But I hope they fix it, as they used that phrase in the headline.

A pair of late night items

I think Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times has captured the range of feelings in our Church in this piece. I find Bishop Mark Sisk's quote particuarly encouraging.

And here is a statement from Bishop Neal Alexander of Atlanta.

Back online

Our site was down for about anhor and fifteen minutes, and though the crash coincided with my unfortunate counteance being beamed into living rooms via Fox News, the events were unrelated. It was a power outage in Atlanta that took us off line. I don't even know if Fox mentioned the blog, although the correspondent who interviewed me said that she would. See, I didn't make it home in time to see the segment, and my wife and older son were out, so I relied on my 11-year-old to tell me what I'd said.

His translation: You kind of said that if they didn't want you to write things down about gay marriage that might work, but that if they wanted you to take away their rights that probably wouldn't work.

Close enough for church work.

Meanwhile, my wife did get home in time to see Susan Russell and Kendall Harmon on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and thought that they were both effective. Their transcript is here.

Here is some of what turned up while we were offline.

A transcript and audio of a brief interview that Matthew Davies of ENS had with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. If you've read the PB's Word ot the Church (two items down) you're familiar with most of this material.

An eloquent statement on the communique from Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California.

Raspberry Rabbit's latest.

The Mad Priest continues to have fun with pictures.

The Admiral hoists the Primates on their own stilted rhetorical petard. Tobias has some fun with the statement, too.

Here's Rachel Zoll of AP on the PB's statement.

And here's a Newsweek interview with Bishop Mark Sisk of New York.

TV land

I am led to believe that both "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" and Fox News will have reports this evening on our situation. Breaking news may result in the stories being bumped, but both were still on the evening agenda in the late afternoon. If the early schedule holds, the Fox piece will air at about 6:30. Not sure about PBS.

The Presiding Bishop's Word to the Church

The section that deals with the communique begins with reference to the controversies in ancient Rome and Corinth about whether Christians should eat the meat that was offered to idols, and then put on public sale. To read the entire letter, click the "continue reading" tab.

The section on the communique follows:

"The troubling question in the Christian community was whether or not it was appropriate to eat such meat – was it tainted by its involvement in pagan religion? Did one participate in that religion (and thus commit apostasy) by eating it? Paul encourages the Christians in Rome and Corinth to recall that, while there may be no specific prohibition about eating such meat, the sensitive in the community might refrain if others would be offended. The needs of the weaker members, and the real possibility that their faith may be injured, are an important consideration in making the dietary decision.

The current controversy brings a desire for justice on the one hand into apparent conflict with a desire for fidelity to a strict understanding of the biblical tradition and to the mainstream of the ethical tradition. Either party may be understood to be the meat-eaters, and each is reminded that their single-minded desire may be an idol. Either party might constructively also be understood by the other as the weaker member, whose sensibilities need to be considered and respected.

God’s justice is always tempered with mercy, and God continues to be at work in this world, urging the faithful into deeper understandings of what it means to be human and our call as Christians to live as followers of Jesus. Each party in this conflict is asked to consider the good faith of the other, to consider that the weakness or sensitivity of the other is of significant import, and therefore to fast, or “refrain from eating meat,” for a season. Each is asked to discipline itself for the sake of the greater whole, and the mission that is only possible when the community maintains its integrity.

Justice, (steadfast) love, and mercy always go together in our biblical tradition. None is complete without the others. While those who seek full inclusion for gay and lesbian Christians, and the equal valuing of their gifts for ministry, do so out of an undeniable passion for justice, others seek a fidelity to the tradition that cannot understand or countenance the violation of what that tradition says about sexual ethics. Each is being asked to forbear for a season. The word of hope is that in God all things are possible, and that fasting is not a permanent condition of a Christian people, nor a normative one. God’s dream is of all people gathered at a feast, and we enter Lent looking toward that Easter feast and the new life that will, in God’s good time, be proclaimed.

Read more »

Statement to come

We should have a statement from Bishop Jefferts Schori sometime this evening.

Mark Lawrence and the Primates

Lionel Deimel points out that if the Church consents to the election of the Rev. Mark Lawrence as bishop of South Carolina, Lawrence, who has suggested turning the authority of the Episcopal Church over to the Primates, will be in a position to work toward that end from within the House of Bishops.

On a related matter, Andrew Gerns has checked in with an analysis of the pros and cons of the Primates' communique.

A fun fact to know and tell

From Jan Nunley at EpiScope:

In the New York Times today their article said there are 110 dioceses and 1/10 asked to not have oversight of Bishop Schori. Is that true? Was it granted?

The Dioceses of Fort Worth, San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Central Florida, and Springfield requested Alternative Primatial Oversight. Together these dioceses represent 120,454 active baptized members out of a total of 2,369,477, or 5%. However, not every parishioner or congregation in those dioceses agreed with the requests.

The Diocese of Dallas appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury for a direct primatial relationship with him, and subsequently withdrew that request.

Such "alternative primatial oversight" cannot be granted without the approval of General Convention, which actually holds primatial authority in the Episcopal Church.

Blowing the whistle

The Rev. Jan Nunley calls foul on a poor piece of work from Time.

The ABC speaks

Here's the transcript of the Archbishop of Canterbury from last night's news conference.

And here is some blogging by Bishop Christopher Epting, one of the three Episcopal bishops who spoke to the Primates during the meeting about the Episcopal Church.

Hat tip to Simon.

The new consensus

Sometimes items on this blog visit one another.

Today, this item, on the Primates communique had coffee with this item about the recent debate in Nigeria's legislature on a bill that legalizes a variety of human rights violations.

The first item said: "Hey, did you see that the Primates said that a candidate for bishop who is living in a same-gender relationship "shall not receive the necessary consent unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion."

And the second item said: "No, but I was talking with Professor Friday Okonofua an advisor to Nigeria's president who says that homosexual relationships increase your risk of cancer and mental retardation."

I believe in the Holy Spirit, but I am not expecting this new consensus any time soon.

Many people saying many things

Updated with Bending the Rule: Time for Full Compliance: The Cassandras of our Times


Father Jake: The Primates Strike Out

Mark Harris: The Standard and its Cost

The Admiral of Morality: Tacking in the Wind

Tobais Haller: Of the Products of the Primates

Caught by the Light: Pastoral Scheming

The Anglican Centrist also weighs in.

And several funny things from the Mad Priest

Morning round-up

Episcope has a good collection of stories on yesterday's communique from the Primates Meetingin Dar es Salaam.

Note that some papers are buying the "ban" blessings line of thinking, and others understand that we are being asked to refrain from authorizing Rites of Blessings. The difference is signficant, but I am having an awfully hard time explaining it to people. In an nutshell, you don't need an authorized rite to bless a union. Priests have been blessing unions without authorized rites for three decades. So we can continue that practice without running afoul of the communique.

Says me, anyway.

Y'all come

If Web traffic is any indication, there's intense interest in our Anglican infighting. We had almost 10,000 visits from more than 6,250 users, our biggest day by a significant margin. If any of you were new visitors, I hope you will also check out our diocesan Web site, especially our diocesan movie, and our spirituality site, where you can find short daily readings, that you might find helpful in your prayer life, and audio visual meditations that help you create a little window for God in the midst of your work day. We've also got Lenten resources.

If you are interested in exploring the Episcopal Church, you can learn about the churches in our diocese here, and in other dioceses here.

If you aren't new, and have been hanging around these parts for awhile, I appreciate it. Can I ask you consider supporting Daily Episcopalian by making a contribution to the bishop's appeal?

Thanks for coming. Back to our regularly scheduled kvetching and press criticism in a little while.

Press coverage of the communique

I am hoping to get away from the blog for awhile. It has been a long day. My hunch is that much of tomorrow's press coverage will seem dated to readers of this and other blogs, although I do recommend the ENS story that I link to in the item below this one.

Members of the media who were onhand in Tanzania had to file their stories hours ago and have gone to bed. Those writing in the U. S. have been on the phone with folks like Kendall Harmon, Jan Nunley, myself and others. And you can find out what we think right here on the blog.

That said, Simon always does an excellent job with links, so pay him a visit if you need a news fix.

But one before I go: A not-half bad deadline job from AP. Note the use of the word "official" in the lede.

Bishop Jefferts Schori's initial reaction

From Matthew Davies at ENS:

"It is clear that despite the subcommittee report, a number of the Primates were unhappy with General Convention's response, and clarification of that response is among the Primates' requests of the Episcopal Church," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, one of the Anglican Communion's 38 Primates, said after their meeting's final business session adjourned at 11 p.m. local time.

"There is awareness that these issues are of concern in many Provinces of the Communion, and that the Episcopal Church's charism is to continue to encourage the discussion," said Jefferts Schori, who will offer additional comment after further reflection and her nearly 20-hour journey back to New York.

Jefferts Schori said the Primates "have also acknowledged and supported" her November 2006 proposal to name a primatial vicar who would assume some pastoral duties at the Presiding Bishop's direction.

"The hope is that the proposed primatial vicar will provide enough relief on both sides that the property disputes can be resolved in a way that does not alienate property and allows congregations access," Jefferts Schori said.

She said the Pastoral Council has been requested "to provide accountability for the primatial vicar proposal, as well as for other Provinces that have intervened."

Overall, Jefferts Schori said the Primates' Meeting demonstrated "a positive sense of collegiality, especially in the Bible studies and among Provinces where these issues have been robustly discussed. In addition, a number of Provinces are engaged in the Listening Process, and that is positive."

(The story isn't online yet. Click "continue reading" to see it all.)

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Early reactions

Continuously updated.

My reaction is in the item just below this one.

Integrity has responded forcefully: The primates of the Anglican Communion have utterly failed to recognize the faith, relationships, and vocations of the gay and lesbian baptized, said Integrity President Susan Russell, responding to the communiqué released today from Dar es Salaam.

”Let us pray it doesn't take another hundred years for yet-unborn primates to gather for a service of repentance for what the church has done to its gay and lesbian members today, as they repented in Zanzibar yesterday for what it did to those the church failed to embrace as full members of the Body of Christ.”

The Rev. Michael Hopkins, immediate past President of Integrity had this reaction: “Jesus weeps, and so do I. If the House of Bishops (or any other body with actual authority in this church) capitulates to these demands and sacrifices gay and lesbian people to the idol of the Instruments of Unity, it will have become the purveyor of an “anti-Gospel” that will (and should)repel many.”

Integrity encourages its membership and allies to directly contact their bishops’ urging them to reject the demands of the primates. Our leadership will seek an immediate meeting with the Presiding Bishop to express our deep concerns and encourage the Executive Council to insist on the inclusion of all orders of ministry in the ongoing process of discernment on Anglican Communion issues.

The Anglican Scotist says ""Just say No."

Here's Scott Gunn. And Mark Harris. And Kendall, and Jake.

Raspberry Rabbit has also responded.

To read a response from the Inclusive Church and Changing Attitude members who were in Tanzania click the "continue reading" tab.

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The "schedule"

The Key Recommendations of the Primates
from Anglican Communion News Service

I have to say that while I am receiving calls from reporters asking me what I make of the recommendations made by the Primates I don't really know what to say. The structures the Primates are proposing seem cumbersome, and the opportunities for meddlesome abuse seem manifold, yet, under the right sort of leadership, I suppose it is just possible that it can be brought off.

The definition of "authorizing," as in we must renounce the authorization of "any Rites for Blessing of same-sex unions," by Sept. 30 will be hotly debated. As I have said before, I think we are being given some room here, as there is a difference between authorizing and allowing. I take comfort in those capital letters. We are being asked not to approve texts. Very, very few dioceses have approved texts. Our diocese doesn't. So I think we can comply with this.

I am eager to hear from the Presiding Bishop. I've heard she is going to have a quote or two in an upcoming ENS story.

Here is the schedule:

Foundations

The Primates recognise the urgency of the current situation and therefore emphasise the need to:

affirm the Windsor Report (TWR) and the standard of teaching commanding respect across the Communion (most recently expressed in Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference);
set in place a Covenant for the Anglican Communion;
encourage healing and reconciliation within The Episcopal Church, between The Episcopal Church and congregations alienated from it, and between The Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion;
respect the proper constitutional autonomy of all of the Churches of the Anglican Communion, while upholding the interdependent life and mutual responsibility of the Churches, and the responsibility of each to the Communion as a whole;
respond pastorally and provide for those groups alienated by recent developments in the Episcopal Church.
In order to address these foundations and apply them in the difficult situation which arises at present in The Episcopal Church, we recommend the following actions. The scheme proposed and the undertakings requested are intended to have force until the conclusion of the Covenant Process and a definitive statement of the position of The Episcopal Church with respect to the Covenant and its place within the life of the Communion, when some new provision may be required.

A Pastoral Council

The Primates will establish a Pastoral Council to act on behalf of the Primates in consultation with The Episcopal Church. This Council shall consist of up to five members: two nominated by the Primates, two by the Presiding Bishop, and a Primate of a Province of the Anglican Communion nominated by the Archbishop of Canterbury to chair the Council.
The Council will work in co-operation with The Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop and the leadership of the bishops participating in the scheme proposed below to
negotiate the necessary structures for pastoral care which would meet the requests of the Windsor Report (TWR, §147–155) and the Primates’ requests in the Lambeth Statement of October 2003 [1];
authorise protocols for the functioning of such a scheme, including the criteria for participation of bishops, dioceses and congregations in the scheme;
assure the effectiveness of the structures for pastoral care;
o liaise with those other primates of the Anglican Communion who currently have care of parishes to seek a secure way forward for those parishes within the scheme;
facilitate and encourage healing and reconciliation within The Episcopal Church, between The Episcopal Church and congregations alienated from it, and between The Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion (TWR, §156);
advise the Presiding Bishop and the Instruments of Communion;
monitor the response of The Episcopal Church to the Windsor Report;
consider whether any of the courses of action contemplated by the Windsor Report §157 should be applied to the life of The Episcopal Church or its bishops, and, if appropriate, to recommend such action to The Episcopal Church and its institutions and to the Instruments of Communion;
take whatever reasonable action is needed to give effect to this scheme
and report to the Primates.
A Pastoral Scheme

We recognise that there are individuals, congregations and clergy, who in the current situation, feel unable to accept the direct ministry of their bishop or of the Presiding Bishop, and some of whom have sought the oversight of other jurisdictions.
We have received representations from a number of bishops of The Episcopal Church who have expressed a commitment to a number of principles set out in two recent letters[2] . We recognise that these bishops are taking those actions which they believe necessary to sustain full communion with the Anglican Communion.
We acknowledge and welcome the initiative of the Presiding Bishop to consent to appoint a Primatial Vicar.
On this basis, the Primates recommend that structures for pastoral care be established in conjunction with the Pastoral Council, to enable such individuals, congregations and clergy to exercise their ministries and congregational life within The Episcopal Church, and that

the Pastoral Council and the Presiding Bishop invite the bishops expressing a commitment to “the Camp Allen principles” [3], or as otherwise determined by the Pastoral Council, to participate in the pastoral scheme ;
in consultation with the Council and with the consent of the Presiding Bishop, those bishops who are part of the scheme will nominate a Primatial Vicar, who shall be responsible to the Council;
the Presiding Bishop in consultation with the Pastoral Council will delegate specific powers and duties to the Primatial Vicar.
Once this scheme of pastoral care is recognised to be fully operational, the Primates undertake to end all interventions. Congregations or parishes in current arrangements will negotiate their place within the structures of pastoral oversight set out above.

We believe that such a scheme is robust enough to function and provide sufficient space for those who are unable to accept the direct ministry of their bishop or the Presiding Bishop to have a secure place within The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion until such time as the Covenant Process is complete. At that time, other provisions may become necessary.

Although there are particular difficulties associated with AMiA and CANA, the Pastoral Council should negotiate with them and the Primates currently ministering to them to find a place for them within these provisions. We believe that with goodwill this may be possible.

On Clarifying the Response to Windsor

The Primates recognise the seriousness with which The Episcopal Church addressed the requests of the Windsor Report put to it by the Primates at their Dromantine Meeting. They value and accept the apology and the request for forgiveness made [4]. While they appreciate the actions of the 75th General Convention which offer some affirmation of the Windsor Report and its recommendations, they deeply regret a lack of clarity about certain of those responses.

In particular, the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church
1. make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention (cf TWR, §143, 144); and
2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent (cf TWR, §134);
unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion (cf TWR, §134).

The Primates request that the answer of the House of Bishops is conveyed to the Primates by the Presiding Bishop by 30th September 2007.
If the reassurances requested of the House of Bishops cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and this has consequences for the full participation of the Church in the life of the Communion.

On property disputes

The Primates urge the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation. We also urge both parties to give assurances that no steps will be taken to alienate property from The Episcopal Church without its consent or to deny the use of that property to those congregations.

Appendix One

“The Camp Allen Principles”

The commitments expressed in the letter of 22nd September 2006 were:

an acceptance of Lambeth 1998 Res. I.10 as expressing, on its given topic, the mind of the Communion to which we subject our own teaching and discipline;
an acceptance of the Windsor Report, as interpreted by the Primates at Dromantine, as outlining the Communion’s “way forward” for our own church’s reconciliation and witness within the Communion;
a personal acceptance by each of us of the particular recommendations made by the Windsor Report to ECUSA, and a pledge to comply with them;
a clear sense that General Convention 2006 did not adequately respond to the requests made of ECUSA by the Communion through the Windsor Report;
a clear belief that we faithfully represent ECUSA in accordance with this church’s Constitution and Canons, as properly interpreted by the Scripture and our historic faith and discipline;
a desire to provide a common witness through which faithful Anglican Episcopalians committed to our Communion life might join together for the renewal of our church and the furtherance of the mission of Christ Jesus.
The principles expressed in the letter of 11th January 2007 were:

1. It is our hope that you will explicitly recognize that we are in full communion with you in order to maintain the integrity of our ministries within our dioceses and the larger Church.
2. We are prepared, among other things, to work with the Primates and with others in our American context to make provision for the varying needs of individuals, congregations, dioceses and clergy to continue to exercise their ministries as the Covenant process unfolds. This includes the needs of those seeking primatial ministry from outside the United States, those dioceses and parishes unable to accept the ordination of women, and congregations which sense they can no longer be inside the Episcopal Church.
3. We are prepared to offer oversight, with the agreement of the local bishop, of congregations in dioceses whose bishops are not fully supportive of Communion teaching and discipline.
4. We are prepared to offer oversight to congregations who are currently under foreign jurisdictions in consultation with the bishops and Primates involved.
5. Finally, we respectfully request that the Primates address the issue of congregations within our dioceses seeking oversight in foreign jurisdictions. We are Communion-committed bishops and find the option of turning to foreign oversight presents anomalies which weaken our own diocesan familieis and places strains on the Communion as a whole.

Notes:

1. Whilst we reaffirm the teaching of successive Lambeth Conferences that bishops must respect the autonomy and territorial integrity of dioceses and provinces other than their own, we call on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting minorities within their own area of pastoral care in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury on behalf of the Primates (Lambeth, October 2003)

2. Namely, a letter of 22nd September 2006 to the Archbishop of Canterbury and a further letter of 11th 2007 to the Primates setting out a number of commitments and proposals. These commitments and principles are colloquially known as “the Camp Allen principles”. (see Appendix One)
3. As set out in Appendix One.

4. Resolved, That the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, mindful of “the repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ” (Windsor Report, paragraph 134), express its regret for straining the bonds of affection in the events surrounding the General Convention of 2003 and the consequences which followed; offer its sincerest apology to those within our Anglican Communion who are offended by our failure to accord sufficient importance to the impact of our actions on our church and other parts of the Communion; and ask forgiveness as we seek to live into deeper levels of communion one with another. The Communion Sub-Group added the comment: “These words were not lightly offered, and should not be lighted received.”

The communique has arrived

The communique is beneath the "continue reading" tab. Haven't read it myself yet.
Note, a crtical appendix is missing. No one has sent it to me yet.

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The communique

The communique from the Anglican Primates Meeting isn't online yet. It supposedly allows the border crossings to continue and says we need not to authorize rites of same sex blessings. Says there will be a primatial vicar for conservatives. Wants legal actions stopped.

Not good for TEC is the analysis from reporters there.

More soon.

A deep breath

Update: The Telegraph. Nothing definitive.

Kendall Harmon has wise counsel for us all as we wait for the final communique(s?). In summary, let our response be cerebral, rather than glandular.

I agree with his observation that what the Primates are producing doesn't seem to fit the definition of the word "communique." Seems more like a Supreme Court opinion. Written on deadline. Sheesh.

Report of the Covenant Design Group

UPDATED with links

From the Anglican Communion News Service.

Two very quick cents: the role of the Anglican Consultative Council seems to me to be downgraded a bit, or, at the very least, it seems to be relegated to a lesser role among the Instruments of Unity.

The knotty piece is here, at section 6. Even if we were not in the midst of a controversy in which the Primates Meeting has tended to be a source of strength for our political opponents, I would still think that this formulation gives too much power to the wrong group of people. I expect others inside and outside of our Church will raise similar concerns. Also, as a resident of our nation's capital, I can't help pointing out that the smaller the group that wields power, the fewer people special interest groups have to impress with their generosity in order to get their way.

Section 6:

Each Church commits itself

in essential matters of common concern, to have regard to the common good of the Communion in the exercise of its autonomy, and to support the work of the Instruments of Communion with the spiritual and material resources available to it.

to spend time with openness and patience in matters of theological debate and discernment to listen and to study with one another in order to comprehend the will of God. Such study and debate is an essential feature of the life of the Church as its seeks to be led by the Spirit into all truth and to proclaim the Gospel afresh in each generation. Some issues, which are perceived as controversial or new when they arise, may well evoke a deeper understanding of the implications of God’s revelation to us; others may prove to be distractions or even obstacles to the faith: all therefore need to be tested by shared discernment in the life of the Church.

to seek with other members, through the Church’s shared councils, a common mind about matters of essential concern, consistent with the Scriptures, common standards of faith, and the canon law of our churches.

to heed the counsel of our Instruments of Communion in matters which threaten the unity of the Communion and the effectiveness of our mission. While the Instruments of Communion have no juridical or executive authority in our Provinces, we recognise them as those bodies by which our common life in Christ is articulated and sustained, and which therefore carry a moral authority which commands our respect.

to seek the guidance of the Instruments of Communion, where there are matters in serious dispute among churches that cannot be resolved by mutual admonition and counsel:

by submitting the matter to the Primates Meeting
if the Primates believe that the matter is not one for which a common mind has been articulated, they will seek it with the other instruments and their councils

finally, on this basis, the Primates will offer guidance and direction.

We acknowledge that in the most extreme circumstances, where member churches choose not to fulfil the substance of the covenant as understood by the Councils of the Instruments of Communion, we will consider that such churches will have relinquished for themselves the force and meaning of the covenant’s purpose, and a process of restoration and renewal will be required to re-establish their covenant relationship with other member churches.

Some other responses: here, here and here.

There will be interesting disputes on the right between the "leave now" and the "stay and fight" wings, and on the left between the institutionalists and those who value a more democratic ecclesiology.

The erratic Ruth Gledhill's story is here. She may be right, but she's writing before she is certain. Matthew Davies story for ENS is here.

Press conference delayed

Scrapping my earlier item to update: I am hearing that the press cnference is off until 3 p. m. EST. The rumor I have heard from two sources is that Peter Akinola is the lonly person who won't sign the communique at this point. But, I stress that this is a rumor, and the fact that I have heard it from two sources may just m ean they were sitting at the same table when the rumor was born.

Meanwhile, here is Scott Gunn 's latest.

"The press conference, scheduled for 6:45 p.m., has not begun. It is almost an hour late. I have solid information about the reasons for the delay, and some of the news that will emerge. From what I have heard, things are looking very good from an Inclusive Church perspective."

In addition: One person who has read the covenant has commented on Thinking Anglicans, saying it does't look too bad to him.

Much needed correction on irresponsible story

This release from the Anglican Communion News Service makes clear that Ruth Gledhill's story about Anglicans making preparations to embrace the Pope, which ran on the front page of the London Times, was indeed overhyped panic-mongering.

Bishop Jefferts Schori elected to Primates' Standing Commitee

Ruth Gledhill is reporting that Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has been elected to the Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting. Matthew Davies of ENS, who is in Tanzania, has confirmed it for me.

There has been some confusion about whether Bishop Jefferts Schori had been elected to the Joint Standing Committee of The Primates Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council, or simply the Primates Standing Commitee. As it turns out, it doesn't matter. The Joint committee consists of the combined Standing Committees of the Primates and the ACC. (Thanks, Kendall.) So by being elected to the Primates Standing Commitee, she becomes a member of the Joint Standing Committee.

This is an encouraging development--more encouraging than I originally thought, because the Joint Committee does exercise real policy making leadership. Still, it is worth noting that members are elected to the Standing Committee by region, so Bishop Jefferst Schori was elected by her colleagues from the Americas where our Church enjoys significant support among the Primates.

Before any news is perpetrated

Expect the perpetration of news along about 10:45, EST.

In the meantime, the Archbishop of Canterbury's sermon at yesterday's Eucharist in Zanzibar is here. The New York Times suggests it may have been a rebuke of the Akinolytes. Scott Gunn has a pessimistic outlook n the day ahead. Raspberry Rabbit's thinking is more in line with mine.

He writes: It would have been inconceivable that the Martyn Minnses of this world should go home without a foot in the door on somebody's say so - even if it's on the say-so of a primatial rump that they have helped carve off.

The sky must be high, cuz its been falling for years

Jonathan Petre of The Telegraph says the Communion is "battling to survive."

I dunno. It seems to me that it is just battling to come to a consensus on a statement from this meeting.

It's true, as Petre reports, that there might be majority and minority statements, but, depending on the content of those statements, the Communion might well just limp along as it has been doing for a while now, with each side spinning the outcome of the meeting to suit its purposes..

Petre suggests that a minority of Primates, a quarter or so, might "separate" themselves from the rest of the Church if they do not win significant concessions. But let's wait and see. They might just make some dramatic symbolic move that will capture media attentionin the ways the Eucharistic boycott did, pledge their unending support to CANA and the Network and call it a day.

Tomorrow will tell. Meanwhile, the Living Church's report, which makes no predictions, is here.

And by the way, don't fall for this overhyped attempt to turn a report that has been long in the making and will be long in the digesting into some sort of panic-inducing scoop.

Same-sex relationships cause cancer and mental retardation

So said an advisor to Nigeria's president in a debate on a bill to legalize human rights violations against gays, lesbians and their allies. Hat tip to Matt Thompson.

Dear Archbishop, Please stay home

Someone has sent me a copy of the letter that Bishop Robert Ilhoff of Maryland has sent to Archbishop Justice Akrofi of West Africa rescinding an invitation to events beginning late next month in our neighborhing diocese. I always hesitate to publish such letters--the same thing happened with the letter about Rowan Williams by Bishop Paul Marshall of Bethlehem. This is personal correspondence, and the diocesan offices are closed, so I haven't been able to ascertain whether a public statement is forthcoming. Anyway, as the letter is out there now, I feel that I can share it as well. It is below the "continue reading" tab.

The Raspberry Rabbit's reaction is here.

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An update and a hunch

Scott Gunn has written about the day in Zanzibar.

From what I am hearing, reportorial interest is focusing on the questions of whether the Primates will be able to reach agreement on a communiqué to be released at the end of their meeting tomorrow, and what the failure to reach an agreement might mean. My hunch is that if they hear anything that indicates a statement is unlikely, they will lead their stories with an ominous paragraph suggesting this might mean... something vague, but certainly bad. And if they don't get enough information to write a story that looks forward to tomorrow, they will write stories that focus first on the Eucharist today.

A question for the Windsor bishops: what are your plans?

The Anglican Communion Institute (the name chosen by six academics with a Web site because Six Academics with a Web site lacks the gravity to which this prolix bunch aspires) has published an analysis of the sub-committee’s evaluation of the Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report.

The part that concerns me today is here:

"In conclusion, even on the basis of this seriously flawed Report, the real challenge now is how, given the ‘considerable diversity of opinion within the Episcopal Church’, the Communion can fulfil its duty ‘to nourish and encourage all those within the Episcopal Church who wish to embrace our common and interdependent life’. Here (unless and until TEC’s House of Bishops as a whole both fully and clearly accepts TWR and Dromantine and takes necessary action to put its own province in order faced with those within TEC who continue to disregard Communion teaching and TWR) the Camp Allen Windsor bishops, and the proposal that they be recognised by the Communion as a ‘college of bishops’, provide the best way forward for the Communion as it seeks to ‘develop a unified and coherent response as a Communion to the situation as it is developing."

This passage reiterates the ACI’s position, which has been embraced by Bishops N. T. Wright and Michael Scott-Joynt of the Church of England. And it has been forwarded to the House of Bishops and Deputies list serve with a warm recommendation by a deputy from Bishop Edward Little’s Diocese of Northern Indiana.

All this has got me wondering, aside from the Network bishops, Duncan, Iker, et. al., are there really a crop of Episcopal bishops out there waiting for word from a gathering of foreign primates to seize—that’s the only word that’s accurate—power in our Church that neither the nature of their office nor the General Convention of our Church has bestowed upon them? Is that what these Camp Allen meetings hosted by Bishop Don Wimberly of Texas were about? (for coverage and commentary on those meetings see here and here.)

I ask because Scott-Joynt attended both of those meetings, Wright and Don Armstrong attended one each, and their organizations (Fulcrum and the ACT) seem to be the brains behind this proposal.

The peculiar thing is that, to this point, none of the Episcopal bishops who would belong to the "college" have spoken up. Are they willing to claim an authority that neither the nature of their office nor the constitution of our Church bestows upon them at the behest of primates who exercise no authority in our province?

Among the bishops who attended the second of these gatherings, at which Don Armstrong was present, were Bishops Wimberly and Little as well as Bishop Bruce MacPherson, who is now president of the Presiding Bishop's Council of Advice, and Bishops Charles Jenkins of Louisiana, Henry Parsley of Alabama and Duncan Gray of Mississippi..

I'd like to give these bishops the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they've been put in an uncomfortable position by overzealous friends. Perhaps not. I think we'd all be greateful if they informed us of their intentions towards the Church.

The Eucharist in Zanzibar

UPDATED: The ENS story by Bob Williams has more extensive quotations from Archbishop Williams' sermon, and some details about Bishop Jefferts Scori's day. The story is beneath the "continue reading" tab.

I won't be able to tell you how many Primates did not receive Holy Communion at today's Eucharist in Zanzibar until I have reviewed the videotape. Archbishop Peter Akinola did not attend, so there's one, and reporters spotted Archbishop Kolini of Rawanda clamping both hands over his mouth and then diving beneath his seat, but its possible that hr thought the chalice contained an especially nasty tasting cough syrup. Just kidding. That's two.

But what a curious situation when reporters go to Church (okay, curious already, but on to my point) to keep track of who receives and who doesn't.

Elizabeth Kennedy's report for the Associated Press focuses on the sermon by Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The temptation to read between the lines here is strong, but should probably be resisted:

ZANZIBAR, Tanzania: The spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion on Sunday called for bishops to feel humility before God, as a fierce debate over homosexuality and Scripture threatens to break apart the Christian fellowship.

Leaders of the world's 77 million Anglicans, in Tanzania for a closed conference that ends Monday, traveled by boat from the mainland for a service at Zanzibar's Christ Cathedral in this predominantly Muslim archipelago on the Indian Ocean.

"There is one thing that a bishop should say to another bishop," Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told the packed Anglican cathedral, as dozens of others listened outside under white tents. "... That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great savior."

Katie Nguyen takes a similar tack in her story for Reuters.

Both wire services headline their articles with an emphasis on Williams' call for "humility."

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Saturday evening report

I took a break from blogging today in hopes of getting a life. That turned out to be much more difficult than I had anticipated, so I have returned with more news from Tanzania. It is a commentary on the state of the Communion that on this day, when the Primates focused some of their attention on the essential work of the Church--theological education, caring for the poor--people are saying that "not much happened."

That isn't quite the case. Here's ENS's story on the day's proceedings. And here's another one from Matthew Davies which points out that contrary to the wishes of Peter and the Akinolytes, the Episcopal Church continues to do important work in Africa.

Even bloggers have been quieter. Colin Coward checks in with this report, and Caroline Hall with this one.

She writes:

"Hellen Wangusa, the new Anglican UN Observer gave a stirring talk on her role as UN Observer and the importance of the Millennium Development Goals. These are intended to reduce by one half the number of people living in poverty by 2015. But she said, our Biblical mandate is greater than that. We know that 'when one half of the world is sick, the world is sick'.

Chris Sugden of the conservative UK organization, Anglican Mainstream, hasn't been getting enough sleep. He rose to ask how our faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord who forgives our sin was involved in this. How, he enquired, did what we were talking about differ from what a governmental agency might do? He hadn't heard that explained. Mrs. Wangusa did not miss a beat, responding 'I am really surprised, I am really surprised, because I already said…' that our Biblical mandate is to go beyond the 50% threshold. When Jesus saw the people were hungry he looked at what he had and then he fed all of them, not half."

Sugden is slow to learn his lesson. This is the second time he has attempted to embarrass a female speaker at a major Anglican gathering, and the second time the presenter has embarrassed him instead. He tried it with Bishop Jefferts Schori just after she was elected at our General Convention.

Here's the relevant paragraph from a story I wrote at the time:

When the Rev. Chris Sugden of the conservative British advocacy group Anglican Mainstream asked her how she thought average Anglicans, whom he described as predominantly young, poor, African and evangelical, would respond to the news that she had voted to confirm the election of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, Jefferts Schori said she thought if Sugden's description were correct, the average Anglican was probably more interested in issues including hunger, inadequate housing, unclean water and limited access to education.

By the way, why does anyone entertain the fiction that Chris Sugden is a journalist who ought to have access to press conferences anyway? He's in closed meeting with Peter Akinola one minute and then lobbing questions at Akinola's targets the next. It's like letting a lobbyist come to a news conference.
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A conversion story

Once you have had your daily dose of PSRN (Potential Schism-Related News), take a look at the story of the day, Sara Miles tale of her converstion to the Episcopal Church. On Salon, of all places. Hat tip to Nick. There are any number of compelling excerpts I could pull, but plese, read it all. Pass it around.

By the way, the article is excerpted from her book "Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion." Adult forum leaders, you have been notified.

The NY Times nails it, and other news

Among follks following the Anglican Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam via blogs and email correspondence, I think there has been a growing sense that something is happening there that hasn't been clearly articulated in the mainstream press. But in this story, Sharon LaFraniere and Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times put the unspoken consensus in print:

"By Friday, conservative Anglicans said they were starting to despair that the meeting here would produce neither of their goals: a condemnation and marginalizing of the Episcopal Church, or a new church structure for American conservatives who want to leave the Episcopal Church but remain within the Anglican Communion.

'Conservatives are very disappointed,' said Timothy Shah, senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, in Washington. 'They have the feeling that the policy of the archbishop of Canterbury and the leadership of the Episcopal Church is one of indefinite delay in the hopes that aging conservative primates will retire and eventually be replaced by people who are more open to a negotiated settlement.'

Liberal Episcopalians, on the other hand, were encouraged that the number of primates — the term for the leaders of Anglican provinces — who refused to take Communion at this meeting was only seven, about half the number who refused two years ago."

Read John B. Chilton's insightful analysis of the story here. (First person to tell the joke about Dean Smith's visit to heaven in the comments section gets their name in lights.)

Here's a link to a transcript of the pre-Q and A portion of yesterday's media briefing, courtesy of Anglican Communion News Service.

Note the new timetable for the covenant articulated by Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Australia: "The kind of time-line we’re looking at: the covenant design group is hoping for initial responses from around the Communion over the next twelve months, with a view to a revised version of the covenant going to the Lambeth Conference in 2008. It’s anticipated that the Lambeth Conference itself will revise the covenant further and that that further revision will then be submitted to the churches of the Communion for final adoption or ratification following the Lambeth Conference in 2008."

The Australian Broadcasting Company portrays Aspinall as playing down the split over homosexuality.

Retuers, meanwhile, has filed a story about Davis Mac-Iyalla of Changing Attitude/Nigeria:

"Davis Mac-Iyalla, Nigerian gay activist and Anglican lay preacher, has faced death threats, condemnation from church leaders and a push by his parliament to criminalise homosexuality.

However, the 35-year-old has kept the faith, even when someone threatened to attack him with acid in a letter delivered anonymously by hand.

'It weakens me and puts fear in me, but yet it still has not stopped me,' he told Reuters in an interview."

In the blogs, Mark Harris notes another instance of the Akinolytes distorting the faith to make a political point. Scott Gunn says not much is happening in Dar. And Colin Coward of Changing Attitude has this report:

Tomorrow we go by ferry to Zanzibar for a service in the Cathedral, built on the site of a slave market. The bishops have today and Monday to complete their business and resolve their differences over the response of the Episcopal Church. So far, none of the outcomes predicted by the Global South secessionists has come to pass. Katherine Jefferts Schori and John Sentamu have participated from the start. No one has walked out. A second Province in the USA has not been formed.

We LGBT Anglicans are not yet in sight of the Promised Land, however. The implications of the TEC response to Windsor are almost certainly that progress towards a church fully inclusive of LGBT people may be slowed in the USA, Canada and England. The ability to elect or select a lesbian or gay priest, partnered or not, as a bishop, may be restricted. The ability of priests to bless the loving relationships of LGBT church members may similarly be compromised in certain dioceses or Provinces.

Inclusive Church, with partners Changing Attitude and Integrity, will continue to work and pray for full the inclusion of all, and especially those who for whatever reason are marginalized or treated in some way as less than welcome in the world-wide Anglican Church.

"Widening rift" story sighted at last

Update: I don't know what headlined appeared in the printed version of the Times, but the one I mention below seems to have been scrapped in later online versions.

In an entry just over a month ago, I wrote about the:

"basic journalistic convention [used] in any ongoing story to explain why the development being written about on that particular day is worth reading. In the Anglican saga, this has given rise to what I refer to as the "gap widening" paragraph. Since at least 2003, very capable reporters have been filing stories saying that the gap between liberals and conservatives in the Episcopal Church is "widening." Sometimes this graph is accurate, but sometimes it isn't. Sometimes the gap is widening; sometimes the reporter has just become aware of how wide the gap has always been; and sometimes the reporter just need some shorthand to justify the coverage of what might be a marginal development."

It has taken a few days, but I am pleased to announce the first official "gap widening" usage of the Anglican Primates meeting in Dar es Salaam. Our lucky winner is The Los Angeles Times, which has a "rift widening" headline on an otherwise harmless story distinguished primarily by its usage of another journalistic convention used to create an atmosphere of drama when nothing of significance is happening: the famed "backdrop of growing concern."

So, on a day on which many of those present thought that Rowan Williams had actually made progress toward building a coalition that could further his covenant, the LA Times either took a contrarian view or simply fell back on cliches.

I am waiting for the first story that reads:

"The rift in the Anglican Communion stayed about the same size yesterday, or possibly shrank a bit. It was hard to say. But whatever one could say would be said against a backdrop of slightly decreased anxiety, although some people still don't treat one another as well as one might like."

That one gets a prize.

Giles Fraser explains it all

Giles Fraser's Face to Faith column is not to be missed:

"Again and again, evangelical bishops are popping up to declare theological martial law, insisting with glee that now is the time to prune liberals from the church. They know that neither the church nor marriage is under threat by what two Christian men or two Christian women might just happen to do with their bits in the privacy of their bedroom. No, this is all about church politics. For hard-core evangelicals, this manufactured crisis is a golden opportunity to create new rules to oust the progressive voice from the church, perhaps even to crown Archbishop Peter Akinola as, de facto, the new Anglican pope. Thus evangelicals have a vested interest in keeping an atmosphere of crisis going as long as possible. The best way to mount a coup is to get everybody panicky and confused - and then emerge as a strong leader, the only one able to impose order."

The underlining is mine. No need for subtlety, eh?

News dump

Updated with Saturday's Guardian
Updated again with Saturday's Telegraph

Steven Bates takes an interesting tack here, one I've seen in the Anglican Journal as well. The Primates who would not go to the Eucharist with Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori snubbed the rest of the Primates, including Rowan Williams as well. Bates writes:

Seven developing world archbishops last night refused to share communion with Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and fellow Anglican leaders at their biannual conference in Dar es Salaam in protest at the presence of the leader of the American Episcopal Church.

Johnathan Petre's story for the T'graph is here. The T also has an editorial written from an alternate universe in which a hard left faction at the Primates meeting is threatening to walk out.

Here is the Episcopal News Service story on the Akinolytes boycott of today's Eucharist.

Here is the Anglican Journal of Canada's report.

ENS also has a wrap-up of the events that actually mattered.

Moving into the blogosphere, here are Caro Hall's observations on the day.

Here are Scott Gunn's. Here, too.

I am even linking to Father Jake's item on anti-Americanism, even though I have learned from his blog that he was right across the driveway at the Cathedral today and did not cross the driveway to visit me.

And see the Cartoon Church here, because you deserve a chuckle.

Consents lacking on Lawrence?

Breaking news from ENS

By Mary Frances Schjonberg

[ENS] The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina
(http://www.dioceseofsc.org) has sent a letter to other diocesan standing committees asking them reconsider their decision to withhold their consents to the consecration of the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence as South Carolina's next bishop.

"This is an official request to those who have withheld consent to reconsider their initial action," the letter on the diocesan website says. "We intend this letter to correct some of the misinformation surrounding our Bishop Elect."

The letter, signed by the Rev. J. Haden McCormick, president of the South Carolina Standing Committee, addresses questions about the intentions of Lawrence and the diocese of remain in the Episcopal Church, the participation of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in the consecration of the next bishop of South Carolina and concerns about the diocese's request for "alternative primatial oversight."

McCormick's letter concludes by saying that "neither the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina nor the Bishop-elect have any interest in a consecration that does not follow the canons of this diocese."

The first section of the letter responds to questions that have been raised "regarding Mark's willingness and that of the diocese of South Carolina, should it be under his leadership, to continue to serve our Lord as faithful members of the Episcopal Church."

Full story: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_82537_ENG_HTM.htm

Evening News from Tanzania

The evening press conference in Tanzania is over, but I haven't seen anything online yet. I will be updating this item as I do. I have had a bit of correspondence though, and it suggests that the Akinolite boycott of today's Eucharist is playing poorly among the Primates, as is the fact that the Church of Nigeria issued a mid-meeting statement, which all participants were asked not to do.

The most intriguing detail I have heard is that Archbishop Drexel Gomez, who boycotted the Eucharist at Dromantine, was dismissive of today's boycott by the Aki-lytes. Gomez is the chair of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Covenant Design Committee. I suggested a while back that he might be sending Akinola a message to cool it. We don't have anything like conclusive evidence yet, but if the alliance between these two is weakening, then the chances of any radical action against the Episcopal Church by a majority of the Primates are weakening as well.

Gomez apparently told the press that a draft of the covenant wil be e-mailed to bishops throughout the communion soon, and that it will be made public on Monday. I am awaiting confirmation on this, but he apparently described the covenant as a statement of principles that did not deal specifically with the issue of sexuality. Waiting for someone to put that in print before I believe it.

Taking the bait

The Associated Press is overplaying the hell out of this story, as I was afraid they might. No mention of the fact that the Akinolites have pulled this maneuver before, or that this time only half as many Primates joined in their refusal to gather at God's Table.

If they are wise, and we are lucky, this article will be improved by updates.

UPDATE: The most recent version includes a critical voice (mine, as it happens) but still overplays the significance of this event.

Also, please read Jan Nunley's item on the very curious interpretation the Aki-lytes have applied to the Scriptures cited in their statement.

Sail on Admiral

The Admiral of Morality has posted a comment so well-argued (and contrary to my own gloomier assessment of yesterday's developments) that I thought it deserved greater visibility. It would be nice if it he's right and I am wrong:

Take it away Admiral:

With one stroke the Archbishop of Canterbury has reduced the realignment to rubble.

Actions based on statements that Canterbury or the Communion countenance schism or isolation of the Episcopal Church can now clearly be viewed as nonsense.

For years we have been hearing how the Windsor Report (it is now “the Windsor Process” on the communion website) is the only way forward.

Just last week, Tom Wright was yelling at anyone still in the room that Windsor is “of course” the same as Scripture and it is the only way to go and all must be compliant.

The panel charged with discerning the Episcopal Church’s response finds our response positive, faithful, and sufficient. If Windsor is the only way forward, then the Episcopal church is on the path forward by showing its commitment to Communion-wide unity.

Because what other church has been asked to so strongly comply with Windsor as ours?

Answer: not a one.

What other church has debated Windsor as thoroughly and struggled with it at the highest levels, besides ours?

Answer: not a one.

And we know why. Because the hopes of the schismatics was to pin their schism on findings and statements by the Archbishop of Canterbury, that the Episcopal Church was not a “Windsor church.”

This has now been rejected by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his panel.

The Archbishop’s panel is authoritative. In fact we may consider it to be the final authority on this matter. It is a group of the joint committee bringing together 3 Instruments of Unity--the Archbishop himself, primates (some of whom by the way spoke out regularly against the Episcopal Church) and laity. It is a group of the same committee that is working on the Anglican Covenant.

This panel’s findings are going to be very difficult to lay aside, because laying aside the findings means laying aside Windsor.

This panel or another like it, should now direct its discernment to the other elements hinted in the recent findings--uninvited and unwanted episcopal intrusions and the failure of national churches to actively engage in the required listening process.

A fresh voice

Here's a slightly dated scene-setter for the Primates Meeting from a fresh voice that I would like to hear from more often. Trevor Grundy writes for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, which lists Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Watch among its partners. His focus here is on the career of Zimbabwean bishop Nolbert Kunonga, who is still in office thanks largely to Archbishop Bernard Malango, primate of Central Africa.

No Eucharist for the Akinolites

Here is a statement from seven Akinolite primates on why they won't participate in the Eucharist with Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. I can only say that anyone who absents himself from the Eucharist because he doesn't agree with the theological views of fellow participants, is assuming that the Eucharist is about... him. He's also questioning the power of the Eucharist to bring about reconciliation. And that, dare I say it, is not an orthodox understanding of the sacrament.

I am wondering if this can be what the fuss was about earlier today. (See: Where in the World is Peter Akinola?) Doesn't seem like quite enough, does it?

Scott Gunn is reporting on this, too.

And Susan Russell points out that the number of Primates skipping Eucharist with our Kate is half the number that skipped Eucharist with our Frank at Dromantine.

Richard at Caught by the Light takes the Aks to task for their shoddy use of the Book of Common Prayer.

And Tobias Haller notes that the seven Primates have their understanding of Eucharistic reconciliation backwards.

Update: Well, I am getting calls to comment on this, so apparently the press thinks it is news. I can't for the life of me see why. They've done it before to no effect, and this time there are fewer of them. This is just an attempt to re-capture the narrative. Perhaps it will work. We shall see.

Dual profiles: Lee and Minns

Michelle Boorstein of The Washington Post has written profiles of Bishops Martyn Minns and Peter James Lee. Minns, I think, gets the easier treatment. There is no blustering voice from the left in his profile, but David Anderson is allowed to take a cheap shot at Lee, and Bob Duncan manages to be both unctious and condescending at the same time. On the other hand, Boorstein paraphrases many of the criticisms that I think Minns' detractors from the left and center would have made, so maybe it's a wash.

I am quoted in the profile of Bishop Lee. I was attempting to explain that while many of us who support he full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the Church admire Bishop Lee, we don't always consider him an ally.

Round up

EpiScope has read the major U. S. dailies for you

Where in the world is Peter Akinola?

Scott Gunn says he seems to be meeting with adivsors, rather than with the other Primates.

"Archbishop Peter Akinola has been meeting with conservative Anglican leaders today. It is not known exactly with whom he is meeting, because they are in a secured area behind closed doors. (This is not inside the ring of steel. Maybe the ring of aluminum.)

Several times +Peter has gone in and out of the primates' compound to a room upstairs where conservatives have been huddled. Last time he passed through, Peter was accompanied by a security guard and Mrs. Martyn Minns."

Stay tuned.

Take 4

Mine. (see Takes 1-3 below.)

Conservative bloggers' anger about the report today from the sub-group that evaluated the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report is indicative primarily of their apocalyptic expectations. The report may indicate that the Episcopal Church will still be a uni-provincial member of the Anglican Communion at the end of next week. And that of course, in my view, is better than the various alternatives being bruited about. It also seems to indicate that if the Communion is to split dramatically any time soon, it will be the Akinolites who walk out, rather than the North Americans who are shown the door. And if a split has to happen, that is the way I would prefer it to take place.

But even if the Primates accept the sub-committee’s report, liberals should be careful about feeling anything beyond relief. For in saying that Resolution B033, the infamous "manner of life" resolution, is what brought us into "compliance" with the Windsor Report, the sub-committee has tied us to a piece of legislation that was passed in extraordinary circumstances and might well be up for repeal in 2009. In making it clear that “authorized” rites of same sex blessings run afoul of Windsor, and asking us to clarify where we stand on this issue, the sub-committee has puts proponents of same-sex blessings in an uncomfortable position. We can argue that blessings can occur without the benefit of an authorized ritual, but in saying so we seem to lack the courage of our own convictions. If we really mean to stand up for the rights of our gay brothers and lesbian sisters, we ought to stand firmly, to coin a phrase. But the sub-committee’s report will make it difficult for us to do so.

On the other hand, if the sub-committee's report is indicative of the outcome of this meeting, then the Archbishop of Canterbury may yet succeed in buying time for a Communion-wide conversation about human sexuality, and in clearing the space in which the proposal for an Anglican covenant can be honestly considered. That would be a significant accomplishment, one made possible by his own skillful maneuvering and the great forbearance of gay Christians. The embattled archbishop may one day be lauded for this accomplishment. Gay Christians probably won't.

In closing, let me refer you to an interesting blog entry by Father Dan Martins, a conscientious conservative who will leap if he must, but would rather not. He was involved in a correspondence with another conservative in which they examined some of the same issues I raised above. I was taken aback by the similarities in our thinking.

Let me also suggest that if Peter Akinola doesn’t split the Communion within the next few weeks, the Anglican right will find a way to use whatever comes out of this meeting as a weapon against the Episcopal Church. They prosecute. They don’t defend. Surely we've know that by now.

Update:

Mark Haris has examined these issues at Preludium.

Also, have a look at John B. Chilton's astute analysis on New Virginia Church Man. He writes: "It looks to me that the report gives The Episcopal Church more time to convince the communion that an accomodation of diverse views on homosexuality in the Anglican Communion is the right thing to do.

Conservatives in The Episcopal Church see that as a very slippery slope for them. I can see the Global South pushing for pre-approval of contingency plan to go to a two-province solution if The Episcopal Church doesn't get to 3 out of 3, or falls below 2 out of 3."

And while you are at it, have a look at this saddening entry onTopmost Apple. Conservatives in this debate have cornered the victimization market. It's worth remembering that pain and alienation are being experienced by people who believe justice is important as well.

Take 3

Unlike British journalists Steven Bates (see Take 1, below) and Jonathan Petre, (see Take 2 below) Elizabeth Kennedy of the Associated Press is writing for an international English speaking audience--primarily American, I would suppose, so she can't assume that today's development--significant as it seems to Communion-watchers--would seem remotely interesting to most of her readers. So she holds on to the news about the sub-commission report until the 9th paragraph of her story.

I think that's a wise decision in some ways, but I don't know whether the lede she has written is quite true. Consider:

"Leaders of the world's 77 million Anglicans spent Thursday locked in discussion about the church's American wing, whose leader is under increasing pressure to reconsider her support for ordaining gays and blessing same-sex couples."

Increasing pressure from whom, exactly? I think one can read the sub-committee's report as a call for an end to the consecration of gay bishops, and the authorization of rites for same sex blessings. So perhaps that is what Kennedy had in mind.

But I don't know that we are talking about an end to the ordination of even non-celibate gay priests, or the occurrence of same sex blessings by individual members of the clergy. And even if we are, Bishops Jefferts Schori can continue to support gay ordinations and same sex blessings as goals, while advocating that our Church accept the restrictions currently being urged upon us to our Executive Council and House of Bishops when she returns.

I guess my point is that making the lead about "pressure" on Bishop Jefferts Schori probably misses the point. Although I recognize the temptation to make the story be about a recognizable figure. And for an American audience, Bishop Jefferts Schori is among the few recognizable figures in the bunch.

Take 2

from the Telegraph.

Jonathan Petre, writing for a more conservative audience that Steven Bates (See Take 1 below) stresses the conservative initiative that may be discussed on Friday, but also notes the surprisingly positive evaluation of the sub-committee's report on the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report:

"The creation of a 'parallel' Church for conservatives will be considered by Anglican primates today after a report surprisingly gave American liberals an almost entirely clean bill of health.

The conservatives told the primates' meeting in Tanzania yesterday that they felt abandoned and even persecuted by the leadership of the Episcopal Church, the American branch of Anglicanism. But they were stunned by an official report that judged that the Church was no longer out of line with official Anglican policy on homosexuality, a verdict they will find difficult to accept."

One thing here: I don't know that Petre knows that conservatives, plural, told the Primates that they felt abandoned and persecuted. I am sure Bishop Robert Duncan said that. (I don't know how a man who is still a bishop after he's facilitated the ordination of clergy to work without invitation in other bishops' dioceses can consider himself persecuted, but that's another story.)

The other conservative bishop who spoke to the Primates was Bruce MacPherson of Western Louisiana. He's a conservative, but so far, not a breakaway conservative. He's also the recently-elected chair of the Presiding Bishop's council of advice. So I'd say he was in a really interesting situation. And my hunch is that we won't know what he said until someone in the meeting tells us.

Wormwood with the Primates

Giles Fraser proves that liberals can appropriate C. S. Lewis, too.

"Especially keep in mind the first principle of effective warfare: take their strength, and turn it into a weakness. Make them feel they are fighting for the truth of the gospel. Make them feel that everything hangs on it; that it’s all down to them. That way, they will be able to justify any behaviour — cruelty, bullying, division — and eventually the whole thing will collapse in bitterness and recrimination. Allow them to do our work for us. The fact that they won’t take communion together is a cracking start. "

Take 1

It will be interesting to see what signficance reporters attach to today's events in Dar es Salaam.

Here is Steven Bates in the Guardian:

The primates of the worldwide Anglican communion appeared last night to have stepped back from moves to exclude the US Episcopal church over its liberal position towards gay people.
A report by a group headed by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, given to the churches' archbishops and presiding bishops at their biannual meeting in Tanzania yesterday said the Americans had largely done everything required of them in reining back on consecrating gay bishops and expressing their regret for straining relations with other Anglicans.

The Rev Colin Coward, a gay English Anglican who was lobbying the meeting on behalf of the pressure group Changing Attitude, said: "We are very pleased and delighted ... The archbishops have come up with a surprisingly realistic assessment of the reality of life in the communion for gay and lesbian people."

It's all here.

The early news

Early news reports on today's meeting in Tanzania from ENS and Reuters.

What they are saying

Updated again with the Anglican Centrist's prediction for tomorrow.

The report from the sub-committee of Anglican leaders who evaluated the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report (look two items down) has been greeted with much reaction.

Scott Gunn's most recent post from Tanzania is here.

Here's Richard at Caught by the Light.

Here's Mark Harris, who, it should be noted, was part of the Special Commission that helped shape the response under study.

Here's Ruth Gledhill.

Here's Greg Griffith of Stand Firm. And here's the Raspberry Rabbit's item on the tenor of the conversation at Stand Firm.

Here's the American Anglican Council's response.

And here's the Rev. Caroline Hall for Integrity.

Simon has other links. And, in the midst of all of this, the Admiral has some news about the episcopal election in South Carolina. As does a group I hadn't heard of before, called South Carolna Episcopalians.

A bit more on today's events

Scott Gunn is fresh from the press briefing.

Some breaking news

The report of the group that advised the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report is online here.

Updated: Ok, I've read it through once, so here is a quick response that I may, no doubt, live to regret: In general it seems a positive evaluation of the Episcopal Church's response to the Windsor Report. As in:

"The response of the 75th General Convention to the Windsor Report as a whole in its resolutions was positive – Resolution A159[1] affirmed the Windsor Report, and its vision of the interdependent life of the Communion, including the appointment of a person to carry forward work on this proposal; the proposal for an Anglican Covenant was welcomed (Resolution A166[2] ); resolutions reflecting what the Windsor Report had had to say about the pastoral care of dissenting groups, and provincial autonomy were passed (A163[3] )."

Regarding the requested moratorium on the election of gay bishops, the group weighs several factors, cites Resolution B033 and says: "The group believes therefore that General Convention has complied in this resolution with the request of the Primates."

On offering an expression of regret, the group notes that there was a lack of clarity in what was asked of us, and then says: On the one hand, there does not seem to be any admission of the fact that the action of consenting to the particular election at the centre of this dispute was in itself blameworthy. On the other, there is the use of the strong language of “apology” and the request for “forgiveness”. These words are not lightly offered, and should not be lightly received. Taken with the apparent promise not to repeat the offence (Resolution B033 discussed above) we believe that the expression of regret is sufficient to meet the request of the primates.
The Group feels that the reality of the change of direction that some see in the resolutions of the General Convention can only be tested however by the way in which the Episcopal Church lives out these resolutions.


Now for the tricky part. On the matter of public blessings, the group wrote: "It is therefore not at all clear whether, in fact, the Episcopal Church is living with the recommendations of the Windsor Report on this matter. The Primates in their statement of March 2003 did admit that there could be “a breadth of private response to individual pastoral care”, but it is clear that the authorisation by any one bishop, diocese or Province, of any public Rite of Blessing, or permission to develop or use such a rite, would go against the standard of teaching to which the Communion as a whole has indicated that it is bound. We do not see how bishops who continue to act in a way which diverges from the common life of the Communion can be fully incorporated into its ongoing life. This is therefore a question which needs to be addressed urgently by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church."

I think this passage will be argued over pretty vehemently. As I read it, it forbids the authorization of a rite of same sex blessings, but doesn’t require a bishop to forbid his or her clergy from performing such blessings. We will see what others have to say.

Two points in closing. 1. Archbishop Bernard Malango of Central Africa, who wants us out of the Communion, was a member of this not particularly large committee. There is a certain dissonance here, I think. 2. Excluding Bishop Jefferts Schori from the meeting when the sub-committee had basically endorsed her role at our General Convention--remember that she supported B033, and was instrumental in getting it passed--would have made no sense.

Not so much

News, I mean. ENS has this scene-setter. The AP's Elizabeth A. Kennedy, who has distinguished herself by being one of the first reporters to allow as how liberal Christians are compelled by their understanding of Scripture to pursue justice, has this, and Scott Gunn has a blog item, saying not much has happened yet. The daily press briefing is at 11 a. m. EST, (7 p. m. in dar es Salaam) though, so that could change soon.

Update: still not much, but this time from a Canadian Church's point of view.

Episcopalians against ALPO

From Mary Frances Schjonberg of ENS:

More than 900 Episcopal clergy and laity have signed on to an open letter developed by a coalition of Episcopal peace and justice organizations and sent it to the Archbishop of Canterbury before he left England for the Primates Meeting in Tanzania.

The letter calls on Archbishop Rowan Williams to reject requests for alternative primatial oversight because they "would pose a grave danger to the Anglican Communion."

According to information released with the letter, the effort originated from the Consultation Steering Committee, a network which includes representatives from Integrity, Episcopal Urban Caucus, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Episcopal Women's Caucus, Union of Black Episcopalians, Episcopal Ecological Network, National Episcopal AIDS Coalition, Province VIII Indigenous Ministries, Episcopal Church Publishing Company, Episcopal Network for Economic Justice, Episcopal Asiamerica Ministry Advocates, and Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission.

Read it all.

Trespassing

There are days when I wish that the Falls Church News-Press had a much larger circulation, and today is one of them.

An editorial today includes this:

"Rules are rules and the defectors, while having the right to act on their convictions to walk away, should have no expectation of grabbing property that’s not theirs. Moreover, they should have no expectation of staying within the good graces of any element of the national denomination, or, for that matter, of the global Anglican communion. Both the defectors and their new leader, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, run the risk of being bounced out of the global church if for no other reason than that Akinola, himself, violated fundamental church rules by claiming jurisdiction over a region not assigned to him.

The defectors should not cry over this, or assail the denomination for being “un-Christian.” They should expect it and embrace it as the price of maintaining their religious convictions. They shouldn’t let an idolatry of physical possessions or formal titles taint them."

I don't think Akinola is in any danger of being bounced out of the Communion, but he may decide to form his own. Read it all.

Clueless Miter Man returns

Bishop Michael Scott-Joynt is quickly becoming this year's Paul Zahl. When I dubbed him "another clueless man in a miter" a few days ago, I didn't know the half of it. On BBC radio this morning, he said the Episcopal Church needed to:

"…stop oppressing a significant minority of itself, about a quarter of its bishops and dioceses, and allow them to exist and flourish in full communion with the rest of the Anglican Communion…"

Just to make sure the point was made he repeated it: "the really critical question is whether the majority of the Episcopal Church will allow space for what is something over a quarter of its bishops and dioceses, and many more than a quarter of its members to continue to hold the full beliefs of the church, both in terms of creeds, about Jesus, about God, and about marriage and Christian behaviour…"

(Thanks to Simon for the quotes.)

Talk about bearing false witness. I have never heard even the most ardent conservatives in our Church suggest that they speak for a quarter of all Episcopalians. Membership in the Network and its allied organizations doesn't come anywhere near this figure. Perhaps the bishop assumes--recklessly and erroneously--that every Episcopal bishop who attended one of the two conferences of the so-called "Windsor compliant" gang at Camp Allen during hte last year is planning to bolt the Church at the first chance. If so, I'd like to make a large wager with him.

Falsifying numbers, troublesome as that is, isn't as bad as insulting the faith of fellow Christians, though. The Anglican right knows that as long as the current struggle remains focused on its attitudes towards gays and lesbians, it will loose the public relations battle in the West, so it has manufactured other complaints against the Episcopal Church. This business about us not believing the same thing that other Anglicans do about creeds and Jesus and God is a transparent attempt to refocus the debate. The evidence, such as its is, consists of multiple citations from the career of James Pike, the writings of John Shelby Spong, and whatever a quick google search of Episcopal and pagan turns up. It produces a reliable portrait of our Church in the way that the Swift Boat Veterans produced a reliable portrait of the military career of John Kerrey.

The bishop's choice of words also leaves something to be desired. No one who uses the word oppression to describe the lot of people who are primarily white, well-educated, affluent, influential and supported by a network of international allies should be allowed to use the word again. If what is happening to, say, Bishop Robert Duncan, is oppression, then we need a new word for what is happening to, well, gay people in Nigeria.

Fortunately, the BBC also featured an interview with Bishop Mark Andrus of California this morning. The Mad Priest has the audio of both interviews here.

Priorities

If the Anglican Communion should collapse between 8 and 9 p. m. EST, you will ned to read about it elsewhere. Like all right thinking people, I will be watching Friday Night Lights.

WWGD?

Well here's a big surprise. Tobias has something smart to say:

My point here is that maybe God's plan for the church never was an institutional unity in which all members were the same, and part of a single institutional administration, but rather institutional variety in a fellowship of equals. I'm not just being "Anglican" here: I think of all those organs of the body with their different functions all working together -- and yet the eye is not the hand, the foot not the eye, and so on. Maybe it is the gift of the Episcopal Church to be an eye for a certain kind of justice, and for Nigeria to be a voice for a call to faithfulness; for England to be a hand for balance, the Caribbean and Central America a heart for joy and celebration. And beyond this: to the Roman Catholics for a call to seriousness in reflection, the Baptists and Pentecostals for a dose of the Spirit, the Moravians for their music and the Orthodox for their spirituality.

Read the whole thing.

Another voice from the meeting

The Rev. Scott Gunn of the diocese of Rhode Island is blogging for InclusiveChurch from the meeting in Tanzania. In a recent entry he mentions that there will be a 7 p.m. press briefing each night during the meeting. That's 11 a. m. EST. His blog will be worth watching.

A recent post includes this:

The Anglican Communion staffers are saying confidently that the question of +Katharine and +John Sentamu being seated is settled. Rumblings around the pool are different. We'll hear what happens, I guess. Either way, there's a story tomorrow. Either +Katharine is accepted by all the primates, or she's sent off. Details as they come tomorrow.

As one senior person put it to me today, speaking about the conservative block, "If they don't like it, they can take their hats and go home." Indeed. He was saying that +Rowan and +Katharine are here to stay, and like it or leave it. Amen.

So the most interesting thing at the briefing, to me at least, was Gregory Cameron's background briefing to reporters. Knowing that many of the press in attendance are either local press or service beat reporters, he thought it wise to give some background. I agree whole-heartedly with this thinking. He explained the situation in the Anglican Communion since about 2003. I'll skip the play-by-play, but I'll observe that it seemed to be point-for-point right out of an Anglican Communion Network backgrounder. For example, the Panel of Reference was described as a solution to North American problems, not as an adjudication of communion-wide disputes. No explicit mention was made of jurisdicational boundary crossings until yours truly asked about them in relation to Windsor Compliance. It was stated that because of the "delicate" situation in North America, it was not appropriate to ask that these Windsor infractions cease immediately. Really? So should the Bishop of New Hampshire or some other bishop start to cross boundaries to care for gay or lesbian Nigierians? Somehow I think the situation will be viewed differently in that light. Sigh.

That Nigerian bill again

The Mad Priest points us to a BBC report on a recent debate in the Nigerian legislature:

Nigeria's House of Representatives has held a public hearing on a new bill seeking to outlaw gay relations. The bill, which could become law before April's elections, proposes a five-year sentence for anyone convicted of being openly gay or practising gay sex.

Critics say the bill is anti-freedom, but religious leaders say it will help "protect society's morals and values".

The committee conducting the public hearing say they have received over 100 petitions from rights groups asking that the proposed bill be withdrawn.

"The bill is going to seriously violate the rights of people. This bill is evil and should not be allowed to see that light of the day," says Alimi Ademola who heads Independent Project Nigeria, a gay rights organisation.

But the bill will prove popular in a country where homosexuality is taboo and elections are looming. Parliamentary insiders say the bill is likely to be passed by both chambers of the Nigerian National Assembly by the end of March.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (Can), the umbrella body for Nigerian Christians, called for speedy passage of the law, describing same sex unions as "barbaric and shameful".

For full background on the bill (text here) visit Political Spaghetti.

See also Bishop John Bryson Chane's op-ed on the bill, which ran in The Washington Post just under a year ago, and this chronicle of the Anglican right's efforts to prove that Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria is in no way morally compromised by supporting the legalization of human rights violations.

Who was that masked revisionist?

"In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it."

The liberal, revisionist, Spong-ite, Unitarian in a fancy vestments who voiced this herectical opinion was, if you can believe this, actually a bishop of the Church. His name escapes me at the moment, but I think it began with an A.

Hat tip to Lee Shaw

A new book from Martin Smith

We received the release below today from Church Publishing. It is news of a new book that collects the Rev. Martin Smith's columns for our diocesan newspaper Washington Window. You can read some of those columns here.

NEW YORK (February, 2007) -Taking his imagery from the ancient art of navigation, noted speaker and columnist Martin Smith's new title from Seabury Books, an imprint of Church Publishing Incorporated, Compass and Stars, presents a collection of spiritual essays about feelings of loss, confusion, and failure. In his first book since leaving the religious life, he explores the truth in his own experiences while inviting his readers to come along for the voyage.

"These short reflections arose at a time when radical changes in my life brought the images of compass and stars to the forefront of my imagination," says Smith. "In 2001, after 28 years on the monastic path, I took my leave of it for good, and found myself for the first time facing the challenge of finding my own way. No one was shaping my life for me: now to find my bearings, in a new life and a new city, with possibilities yet unknown. Within hours of starting my job search, I was asked to join the staff of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a writer."

Smith's reflections act as a guide to readers as they strive to calculate their own spiritual bearings despite the endless sea changes and challenges of life. By deftly using humor mixed with pastoral sensitivity, his essays are like a fresh salt breeze chasing the staleness out of spiritual practices. Whether he is writing about the spirituality of social justice, vocational discernment, or channel-surfing, his thought-provoking pieces will inspire and delight.

Martin Smith, a noted speaker, retreat leader, spiritual director, and columnist, is senior associate rector at St. Columba's Episcopal Church, Washington, DC, and former superior of the Society of St. John the Evangelist. He is the author of several other books on spirituality, including the classic Season for the Spirit, written for the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Order here.

She's still there

The news machine ran out of gas this morning. Which is another way of saying that my office is closed due to icy roads, and my wife needed to use our home computer to finish a school auction catalog. But now we find ourselves all revved up without many places to go.

It is about 7:15 p. m. in Dar es Salaam as I begin this post, and the big news of the day seems to be that Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is still at the Primates Meeting. Reuters has the story, which includes this from the ever illustrious, always embattled Jim Rosenthal:

Her presence is absolute. There's no question about her presence -- that's actually what the archbishop said," Jim Rosenthal, director of communications of the Anglican Communion, told reporters.

"She's here because she's the elected primate of the American church and there's no expectation she's not going to be here for the rest of the time," he added.

In other news, Davis Mac-Iyalla has met Peter Akinola, but not Henry Orombi.

And Ruth Gledhill is reporting that the Archbishop of Canterbury, has floated the first innovative idea I've come across since this whole conflict began. In fact, if this is anything other than a trial balloon, I think she has buried her lede:

"Dr Williams, meanwhile, has his own “nuclear option”, insiders said. In a recent document, The Road to Lambeth, the Global South Primates said that they will not attend the Lambeth Conference if the US Church’s gay bishop Gene Robinson and those who consecrated him are not disciplined and if they are invited to Lambeth.

The Lambeth Conference traditionally happens every ten years. But although the University of Kent has been booked, it is understood that Dr Williams is prepared to postpone the Lambeth Conference and hold a “covenantal assembly” instead.

Bishops, clergy and laity from around the communion would be invited to attend, to discuss whether they can continue to live together under the banner of the Anglican Covenant document to be revealed on Friday."

I could warm up to that idea, I think. It would be so much more open and democartic than the process in which we are now engaged.

You say you want a real solution

Andrew Gerns explains why the two-province gambit the Akinolites are pushing won't solve the Communion's problems.

Tomorrow's Brits today!

Well, not all of them. Just Stephen Bates, actually. (Updated, Jonathan Petre, too.) His scene setter for the Primates Meeting is here.

It includes this bit about how the Akinolites attend to procede: A letter signed by Archbishop Akinola on their behalf was presented to Dr Williams as he arrived, outlining their demands, thought to include an insistence that their new agenda be adopted, dealing with Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori, before anything else is agreed.

His profile of Archbishop Akinola is here.

It includes this bit, which reminds us that while the archbishop is formidible in some ways, he is out of his depth in others:

"When George Bush was re-elected in 2004, it was Akinola who bestowed on him a message of congratulations for standing firm against the revisionist agenda of the liberal Episcopal Church of the president's childhood: "By your electoral victory . . . these ordained men and women will feel rebuked and forced to repent of this grievous sin."

This is the George Bush whose parents are still Episcopalians, and whose father recently gave the keynote at the dinner to launch one of our parish's into its capital campaign. It is the George Bush who frequently attends St. John's Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square, maintains a friendship with the church's rector, the Rev. Dr. Luis Leon, and who honored the Rev. Leon by asking him to give the invocation at his second inauguration.

A very gentle sort of rebuke, I guess?

As for Jonathan Petre's story, it seems rather speculative to me.

He writes: "The Archbishop of Canterbury arrived at a critical Anglican summit yesterday looking increasingly likely to back a "parallel" Church for conservatives, a move that will appal liberals."

But there is no support for the lead within the story. No source, named or unnamed who is giving us Williams' thinking on this point. Petre is a good reporter, and may know something we don't, but, for the moment, I am not sold.

My other problem with this story is this section:

"Seven conservative American bishops have so far indicated that they want to come under an alternative leader.

About another dozen or so are expected to follow suit if Dr Williams gives the plan his blessing."

This is certainly the hope of conservatives, but I have no idea whose headcounting this is based on, and I am not sure who is doing the "expecting" in that last sentence. I would be very surprised if more than one or two dioceses, aside from those already in the Network, would make this kind of jump.

The rest of the story is peculiar in that Petre seems to accept the fiction that the Primates actually have the authority to set up a second province in the first place. Even with the Archbishop of Canterbury's support, a second province woudl still need two-thirds of the Primates' votes, and subsequent ratifiication by the Anglican Consultative Council. And there are no existing provisions for the creation of interim provinces. So basically, this would be creation by fiat of a meeting with no authority to create.

That said, who knows what these folks will get up to. But no matter what occurs, if the Episcopal Church chooses not to accept an interim second province in the United States, then we will head to court. (I hope.) That won't be a happy outcome for us, but I think in the long run it will be an even less happy outcome for the Network.

Meanwhile, the Living Church is reporting that Bishops Duncan, Epting and McPherson's presentations are off until Thursday.

Endorsing schism

Ruth Gledhill, religion reporter of the Times of London has endorsed schism. Read it here.

I thought I had gotten used to the British journalistic tradition in which reporters are allowed, or even expected, to voice a few opinions on the subjects they cover. In fact, I've come to enjoy it. It's fun to read the coverage and compare the Guardian's emphasis to the Telegraph's and the Times'. But this piece makes me uneasy. That may just be a cultural thing. It is almost inconceivable that a reporter for a major American daily would be allowed to write a piece like this.

For me, it isn’t a question of objectivity as much as it is a question of role. When you express a rooting interest in the outcome of a major story, you become part of that story. You move from audience to stage. Yet somehow you are still allowed to write the reviews. That doesn't seem fair either to other actors or other audience members.

Anyway, that said, it is a thought provoking read, although I think it misses one key point. The Episcopal Church isn’t trying to force anyone else out of the Communion. We haven’t organized a movement to exclude Peter Akinola from tomorrow’s Primates Meeting, even though we think his attitudes on (and actions towards) gays and lesbians are reprehensible. We are willing to remain in communion with him despite major disagreements about his theology. He could end all talk of schism by returning the favor.

Another trip to Iran

A delegation of 13 U.S. religious leaders, including Maureen Shea, director of the Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations, will visit Iran February 17-25 to deepen dialogue between religious and political leaders there in the hope of defusing tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

The group is scheduled to meet with former President Mohammad Khatami and current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to a new release from the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) one of the trip’s two organizers.

ENS has the story.

If this turns out to be true

(update late Tuesday PM)

...then George Conger has himself a scoop.

From the Living Church:

"Anglican primates of The Global South will propose a two-province solution to the divisions of doctrine and discipline confronting The Episcopal Church at this week's primates' meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania."

and:

"In addition to current members of The Episcopal Church, the new province would include the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) and the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), and would be open to reunion with the Continuing Anglican churches in the United States.

The ecclesiastical structure of the proposed province would be governed by a college of bishops. From among their ranks, the college would nominate three candidates to be presiding bishop, one of whom would be selected as primate of the province by the primates' meeting. This second American Presiding Bishop would have voice and vote at future primates' meetings under the proposals worked out by the Global South coalition and their allies, sources close to the coalition told a reporter."

Read it all.

Not long ago, the Rev. David Roseberry wrote that breakaway leaders were skeptical that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, would ever support such a plan. Writing on Stand Firm about a meeting he had with Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Roseberry said:

"He sees the need for a 39th Province but is unsure of the structure and form it should take. The primates will not (probably) be able to initiate such a structure soon, but if it gets a few hundred churches and a functioning college of bishops, the primates may bless it. But this is not something that will happen soon... not even before Lambeth. Whether or not Rowan or Lambeth will ever bless it remains to be seen, he feels."

The plan is reminiscent, in parts, of the one first outlined by Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh and supportive Primates, such as Akinola, Henry Orombi of Uganda and Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, in a meeting in London in November, 2003. Duncan's notes from that meeting surfaced in a court case, and are online here. For additional background, see part two of Follwing the Money.

There are two things to keep in mind as this story moves forward. The first is that it takes a two-thirds vote of the Primates and the assent fo the Anglican Consultative Council to change the roster of the Communion. The second is that the move being contemplated, even though it is refered to as an interim measure (all human organizations are interim measures) would establish the principle of establishing provinces on theological rather than geographic grounds. Many of the Communion's leaders, their attitudes on human sexuality notwithstanding, consider that a dangerous move.

Update
George also has this item, saying the Akinolists (maybe Akinolites is better) have proposed a new agenda on which the decision whether to admit Bishops Jefferts Schori and Senatamu will be item one.

It is my understanding that the Primates have only taken votes once or twice in the history of the meeting, so how the issue the Akinolites plan to raise would be resolved is something of a question in its own right.

Anyway, with this story breaking within hours of the "two province" story, it is now clear that the Akinolites are engaged in strategic leaking. Here's a tip: when you do that sort of thing, it is best to share the wealth. Otherwise the reporter can end up looking compromised if his or her coverage slants in your general direction as the story moves forward.

Changing Attitude visits Tanzania

Changing Attitude plays a role in the Church of England that is similar to the role played by Integrity, the gay and lesbian caucus of the Episcopal Church. Both groups have sent representatives to Dar es Salaam to be available to the media during the Primates meeting, which gets underway tomorrow. And in an inspired stroke, Colin Coward of CA has brough Davis Mac-Iyalla with him.

You can read about their arrival here.

Mac-Iyalla is the leader of CA's fledgling chapter in Nigeria. Bringing him to Tanzania was an inspired stroke because Davis has a story to tell that the western media hasn't picked up on yet. He's been the victim of a lengthy, clumsy, but nonetheless dangerous smear campaign by the Church of Nigeria. (Read about it here, here and especially here.)

Not to make light of the situation, but my favorite turn in the tale took place when Canon Akin Tunde Popoola, director of communications for the Church of Nigeria challenged Davis' credibility by saying a certain meeting of CA's Nigerian branch had never taken place, only to have the meeting reported in the December 18 issue of The New York Times. After which, the Times reporter received an email from the American Spectator, a magazine funded by the right-wing Scaife Foundation, which publishes a lot of the Institue on Religion and Democracy's work, asking the reporter whether she was indeed there and was certain the event had taken place. Which she was.

The way Davis has been treated makes clear Akinola's attitude toward homosexuals, as surely as did his visceral recoil, upon learning that he was shaking hands with a gay man. A story, that, as it happens, he told on himself, to The New York Times.

Davis is also planning to confront the Primates--assuming he can actually get near them--with the reality of the legislation that Akinola has supported in Nigeria. To read a letter he has written, click on the continue reading tab.

Read more »

Bishop refuses to lift restrictions on Anglican Communion Institute leader

The latest on the Don Armstrong case from the Rocky Mountain News:

Embattled Episcopal priest Don Armstrong is consulting with civil and church attorneys about his legal options after a church panel refused to lift restrictions on him.

Armstrong wanted the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado to back off while it investigates an allegation of "misapplied funds" at his Colorado Springs parish.

Although he is presumed innocent under church law and not charged with any crime, Armstrong is forbidden to live as a priest or even speak to anyone at his 2,400-member parish while the investigation is under way.

Read it all.

An escape from binary thinking

Father Dan Martins of the Diocese of San Joaquin has written an essay that doesn't lend itself to easy summary. Have a look.

I told you she was good at this

Bishop Jefferts Schori quoted in the Knoxville News Sentinel:

Anglicans might be compared to squids, as the former oceanographer and the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori tells it.

"They are all created by God. They are all wondrous in their own way. Some of them can't survive in the environments where others live," Jefferts Schori said.

And, at Marshall's suggestion, I call your attention to this quote, which articulates a Christology well within the Christian mainstream, and demonstrates a woman who is not going to start equivocating because of blog noise:

"Christianity in its breadth says that God became human in Jesus, that God revealed God's full self in Jesus," Jefferts Schori said in an interview with the News Sentinel. "It does not overtly say that God has never been present anywhere else, and I think that's what irritates people.

"There is a desire to say 'Well, I have the fullness of the truth, and there can't possibly be any truth anywhere else.' And if that's our understanding of God, it's too small."

Read it all.

One-stop shopping

If you were trying to explain the crisis in the Anglican Communion to someone who had just awoken from a very long sleep, this article from the Independent in Britain would be the one piece to hand them.

Hero's sendoff

Steve Waring has the story of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's Absalom Jones Day visit to St. Thomas' in Philadelphia at the Living Church.

Also at TLC, George Conger points out that there will be a flock of rookie primates at this meeting. Thirteen of the 36 primates in attendance will be attending their first meeting if I have the numbers right. It will be interesting to see how that will influence the dynamics of the meeting.

Wisdom and support

The former from Tobias, whose latest sermon includes this:

One of the reasons I am an Anglican, an Episcopalian, is because Anglicans say, right up front, something that most other churches are unwilling to admit, and that is: “the Church makes mistakes.” It was a big step forward to be able to say that. And it was a big step apart from both the Roman Catholics who relied on the authority of the Pope, and from the Reformers who relied on their supposedly infallible understanding of the Scriptures. This attitude of humility that Anglicans adopted, not just to be different, but to affirm a deep truth, reflected what Saint Paul tells the Corinthians later in this letter: our knowledge is incomplete, and there is much more to be revealed. And we’ll hear more about that passage next week. And that is why Anglicans rejected at the beginning, and have avoided ever since, a church with a strong central government that suppresses discussion or exploration of new ideas — for we learn from our mistakes as well as from the things we get right, just as I learned to take off my computer glasses when I get up to go downstairs. We know that we mortals are fallible — yet we trust in the resurrection of the dead — that God has still better things planned for us than we can ask or imagine.

And this: And so it is that we classical Anglicans do not put our trust in mortals, even bishops and primates and monarchs — but in God, who, we are confident, can help us to work through our errors and bring us into his truth: a truth to which we can never come if we try to stand still in a changing world. For that is how the shrub ends up stuck in the middle of the desert — unable to move when the stream that nourishes it changes course, and unable to send out its roots to follow the stream — and so ends up in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. If we close our eyes and our hearts and our minds to God’s Holy Spirit working even through our mistakes; if we trust in government by earthly leaders instead of spiritually embodied communion with each other in a fellowship of equals, there will be little hope for us.

And the latter (via Simon) from the Society of Catholic Priests, which represents more than 500 priests in England, Wales and Ireland, and has written to the Primates asking them to refrain from action against the Episcopal Church.

As they say in their press release: Action against the Episcopal Church would only delay a discussion that needs to take place across the whole Anglican Communion.

The Politics of 24

The show is a sometimes guilty pleasure for me. Jane Mayer examines the politics of the men behind Jack Bauer in The New Yorker, with particular attention to the torture issue.

Jake's take

I have been waiting for Father Jake to weigh in on the meeting in Tanzania. He doesn't disappoint.

815 joins the legal tussle in Virginia

From ENS

The Episcopal Church has joined the Diocese of Virginia in its legal dispute over possession of the property of 11 congregations in which the majority of the members and clergy voted in 2006 and early 2007 to leave the denomination and affiliate with African Anglican bishops.
Lawyers filed a 20-page complaint in the County of Fairfax, Virginia, courts on February 9. The complaint lists the Episcopal Church as the plaintiff and names as defendants the former clergy and vestry members of 11 parishes and missions, as well as trustees who technically hold title to the real property of some of the parishes.

The complaint names the parishes as defendants "because their real and personal property and affairs are currently under the de facto control of individuals who claim the right to sever the link between the parties and the Diocese and the Episcopal Church, to divert the parishes' real and personal property for their own use in affiliation with another denomination outside the United States, and to exclude the parishes' faithful Episcopalian members for use and control of that property."

The clergy and vestry, or vestry committee members in the case of the two missions, are named because they "have left the Episcopal Church, yet continue to exercise control over the real and personal property" of the congregation.

Read it all.

Barnstorming

Our new Presiding Bishop and the new president of our House of Deputies seem to have a gift for retail politics. Both are devoting themselves to rallying the faithful, and neither avoids the press. Together they are re-energizing our Church.

Bishop Jefferts Schori, who apparently has some sort of meeting coming up in Africa this week, spent the last seven days in North Carolina, Tennessee (see her address to the Diocese of East Tennessee's convention, here) and Pennsylvania, where she celebrated the feast day of Absalom Jones. All that on the heels of a trip to Cuba, which, by the way, has appointed its first female bishop.

I particularly like this bit from her speech in East Tennessee:

"Some people understand the mission of the church to be primarily about the Great Commission, which comes later in Matthew’s gospel: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” But both of them are part of loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves, and one cannot be divorced from the other. I don’t imagine that God has any patience with arguments over whether evangelism or social justice ministry is more important. In order to love God and neighbor, we have to do both. Evangelism has to be understood in the sense of our baptismal covenant, as sharing the good news of Christ in both word and deed. And we would do well to recall that we cannot love God whom we cannot see, if we do not love our neighbor, whom we do see." (emphasis mine.)

Meanwhile, HOD president Bonnie Anderson galvanized a gathering of the faithful in the Diocese of San Joaquin, whose bishop is poised to lead people out of the Episcopal Church.

Every place they have gone, these two women have generated excitement among Church members, and generally positive coverage in the press. We are no longer abetting the right's campaign to paint us as a dying Church. ++Katharine and Bonnie seem to understand, in a way the leaders of our Church often don't, the importance of public perception, and lay morale, and all I can say is hooray.

Actually, that's not all I can say, but I will shut up for now.

The ring of steel

The atmosphere in Dar es Salaam is getting a little testy, writes Jonathan Petre.

Meanwhile, Nick Knisely makes a point over at Entangled States that I was meaning to make myself. Have a look.

Bishop Chane's radio interview

Sister Maureen Fielder of Interfaith Voices radio, which airs on many PBS stations, has interviewed Bishop John Bryson Chane about his trip to Iran. Listen here.

Aggregation, aggregation, aggregation

Lots of good stuff on the upcoming Primates meeting: Simon has an excellent set of links, including this one to the Toronto Star. We haven't heard much from or about the Canadians in the run up to the meeting, so it is will worth hearing Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, who says:

"Archbishop Akinola has sprung to the side of U.S. conservatives," says Hutchison, who retires this summer. "I wouldn't be surprised if he takes that worldwide."

It's also worth visiting the Guardian's blogs to see Stephen Bates describe Bishop Michael Scott-Joynt, who weighed in with this plan to colonize our Church last week, as "a figure of stately pomposity - not to say conceit."

I have been criticized for criticizing the bishop, so I am reassured to hear none other than Bishop Martyn Minns say of Scott-Joynt and his colonizing chorus : "They always seem to have these thoughts and feel the need to share them just at the worst possible time."

Bates concludes:

"The notion that the US Church - one of the longest established in America, an offshoot of the Church of England and the church of most presidents since George Washington - is not Christian is so bizarrely overblown as to be risible. They may not share the Bishop of Winchester's cramped, disapproving and drably censorious, dessicated Anglicanism, but they certainly have a clearly motivated Christian belief system, based on faith, hope and charity, the old nostrums that Scott-Joynt may once, dimly, have read about in college. He may not like their Christianity, but he can't say they don't believe in Christ.

The outpourings of the Bishop of Winchester and his colleagues are counter-productive, both from the perspective of changing anyone's minds and for the reputation of the Church of England, and they also serve to undermine the Archbishop of Canterbury as he strives to keep the worldwide communion together this week in Dar es Salaam.

Furthermore they are deeply divisive within the CofE's bench of bishops, where Scott-Joynt and Nazir-Ali are both regarded as insufferable by many of their colleagues. What a happy ship it is."

Having read those ringing words from a British journalist, I am moved to ask why they couldn't have been spoken by a leader of the Episcopal Church.

Meanwhile, the Mad Priest, another friend across the seas, is also in fine form:

"This is not an argument about the authority of the Bible it is an argument about authority.

On one side you have those who need to be in charge, who crave power and authority, who use concepts like the inerrancy of scripture to give credence to the idea that some human beings should also have absolute power over other humans. ....

On the other side, as epitomised in the person of Katharine, the American PB, are the leaders who lead only to give their power away to those whom they lead. Such leaders tend to be embarrassed by their authority because they know such authority is a human construct and not of the Kingdom. They realise their position only exists because of the fallen nature of humanity and as such is only provisional. They would give up their authority willingly and at a moment's notice if there was a better way of protecting the oppressed of the world.

And then there is the Raspberry Rabbit who writes of Bishop Katharine and the trial before her:

"It's where the rubber hits the road, isn't it - being in the midst of people who dislike and mistrust you - making your case surrounded by a host of opponents? There are many quick roads to resolution - one of which is to simply state the case aggressively and let the 'opposition' hang - another, to withdraw at a moment of your own choosing. But Christians - more than mere nationals - are citizens of something greater and Americans should not be immune to sobering lessons in international citizenship - even good Progressives.

It's not enough to present a faultless position and to leave such a meeting with one's Talent intact."

And finally, a comment from our friend Ann Fontaine, which is as close as I will come to saying be of good cheer:

I have seen Katharine listen and listen and listen and then say something that set it all in such a new context that everyone else's blah blah blah seems petty and mean. She can be breathtaking at times.

A curious absence. Or not.

I had an item here about the absence of Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales from this week's Primates Meeting. I thought it was curious he was not there. I've received enough correspondence on this point now that I am persuaded that it isn't his fault that he isn't there. So I have removed the item and the comments.

God bless the Rev. Nunley

She's read and commented on all of the Monday morning "brink of schism" coverage from Dar es Salaam, so I don't have to. Have a look at EpiScope.

Tanzania

Word comes from Tanzania that Bishop Martyn Minns of CANA, Canon Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream and Father David Anderson of the American Anglican Council are already in Dar es Salaam. I wonder if they are aware that their presence in Tanzania, like their presence in Northern Ireland, convey to the rest of the world that they don't trust Peter Akinola, Bernard Malango, Gregory Venables et. al. to manage on thier own?

Elsewhere: Lionel Deimel's new essay High Anxiety in Pittsburgh contains this bracing observation:

It is cold comfort that neither the traditions of the Anglican Communion nor the constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) nor the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church will allow the creation of the sort of independent ecclesiastical entity sought by Bishop Duncan in the latest plea for APO. (Composition of the ACC, which, arguably, either reflects or defines the membership of the Anglican Communion itself, can only be changed by a vote of two-thirds of the primates. No one believes that the votes are available to make such a change at next week’s meeting.) The Anglican Communion has ceased to act as a fellowship, however, and increasingly acts through intimidation, if not outright coercion. It is therefore foolhardy for The Episcopal Church to rely on what the Communion “cannot” do to guarantee its integrity and independence.

“Life is too short to get too flustered.”

Cool Hand ++Kate is profiled in today's New York Times. Even your resident Cassandra is aware that we are sending the best possible representative to Tanzania.

God go with you Bishop Katharine.

Some thoughtful commenters

The entry ""On feeling unprepared" has occasioned some very thoughtful responses, and I invite you to give them a look. It is always nice to have a visit from J-Tron.

Meanwhile, at Countdown, various heretics are disputing my claim that the Red Sox and Nationals are God's favorite baseball teams.

Inviting Africa's Anglicans to gather under a bigger tent

Sharon La Franiere of The New York Times has written a moving profile of Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane in the lead up to the Primates Meetingin Dar es Sallaam.

A bit:

He said he could not understand why a debate over homosexuality had sidetracked what he saw as the church’s true mission in Africa: confronting AIDS, poverty, war and famine.

“I wonder if somebody could calculate how much money is being spent on these meetings, which deal with one issue and one issue only, when we have 48 million orphans?” he asked. “Whose agenda is this? Definitely in my view, this is not God’s agenda.” Nor is it the average Anglican’s agenda, he said. “I interact with people on the ground. They don’t care about the lifestyles of the people in America.”

Countdown

As visitors to this site are no doubt aware, something entirely momentous will transpire next week.

Say the magic words:

Pitchers and catchers report.

Have a look at the countdown clock: 3 days, 18 hours and 27 minutes as I post. There's more news here. And all right-thinking people will want to catch up with the Sawx and the Nats.

Hat tip to AndrewPlus, another Sox fan, for the idea

On feeling unprepared

I wish I knew whether the leaders of the Episcopal Church have done any strategic thinking about how we would respond to the various ways in which the Anglican Communion might fragment or dissolve.

To the extent that I am in touch with these folks, I think they hope, and even believe, that somehow the Communion and our Church will weather the upcoming meeting in Tanzania, after which the relevant parties will get down to work on the draft of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s covenant that will be presented at the Primates Meeting, and that when all is said and done, we will be able to affix our name to the document with a not too clouded conscience.

(And as you might guess, that makes me anxious. Click on the continue reading tab for the full 1,300 words.)

Read more »

Clip and save

It takes a two-thirds vote of the Anglican Primates and the approval of the Anglican Consultative Council, which next meets in 2009, to alter the roster of members of the Anglican Communion.

Source: Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council 3.a

Creating her own good press

One of the things I have admired about Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is her willingness to go out and meet people in public forums and to answer questions directly and clearly, even though the circumstances of the moment might suggest that she should withdraw from the public eye. The most recent example of her openness comes via the media of the Research Triangle in North Carolina where she recently spoke at the meeting of the Episcopal Urban Caucus. Have a look at this story which ran in the Raleigh paper and one or two others. And then watch this television report abut Bishop Jefferts Schori honoring the first black woman priest in North Carolina. It occurs to me that while many of us are wringing our hands about being unable to egt good news about the Episcopal Church into the press, Bishop Jefferts Schori is accomplishing that almost singlehandedly in just about every media market she visits. We have not had this effective an apostle to the unchurched in a long time.

Another clueless man in a miter

If you've got an endless appetite for clueless British bishop pontificating on the state of the Episcopal Church, have a look at this essay by Bishop Michael Scott-Joynt in The Church of England Newspaper.

Mark Harris has an analysis of the significance of this piece, and I think and hope that my good friend is wrong. He believes that N. T. Wright and Scott-Joynt have been acting, and are now speaking, in Rowan Williams' stead. I don't. Partly because people in the U. K. have told me that Williams didn't authorize their activities, but didn't try to stop them, either, and partly because this doesn’t strike me as the kind of noise you make in the press before a big meeting if your side has the meeting wired. If you are certain of a favorable outcome, you keep your mouth shut and don't risk disturbing the favorable status quo.

Of course, I could be wrong. I am hoping to distinguish myself in the blogging community by making no predictions about what is going to happen in Tanzania.

Kim Jong Pete?

This bit below is from the statement from the Nigerian bishops referenced just below:

"The Synod notes with great delight the visionary, purposeful and dedicated leadership given by our Primate, the Most Reverend Peter J. Akinola. Worthy of special note is his unflinching resolve to uphold the authority of the Word of God against onslaughts from modern apostles of false doctrines. The Synod assures him of our prayers and enthusiastic support."

Has a nice retro-Maoist ring, doesn't it? Glorious leader. Running dogs of imperialism, etc. The literary style of absolutist sycophants on the right is indistinguishable from that of absolutist sycophants on the left.

The foot stomping you just heard

Mark has the latest from Nigeria. The short version is that everyone must agree with them on everything that has anything to do with sex or they won't come to the Lambeth Conference. I have to say that I am coming to respect the Nigerians because their power plays are open and aboveboard. I attribute this change in my attitude to prolonged exposure to N. T. Wright.

A question I wasn't expecting

I seldom mention the unusual questions I sometimes field from members of the press, because, really, it is my job to be asked unusual questions and to help whoever is going to write about us to feel comfortable in their knowledge. But in this case I can't resist. I just had a call from a reporter from an overseas news agency asking me what we as a Church thought about the commercialization of Saint Valentine's Day in America. I admitted that I had never given the issue a moment's thought, and was willing to wager that not even Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity would see the profusion of ads for pendants and posies as a sign of resurgent secularism.

Bishop Katharine at the Urban Caucus

Read Susan Russell's report.

I am glad I agree with the Anglican Scotist...

... because I don't think I could best him in an argument.

Here he lays out the biblical case for gay unions with erudition, conviction and clarity.

Here is an excerpt:

1. Christ was resurrected in the flesh, and will exist in the world to come.
2. In the world to come, members of the Church will be resurrected, male and female, in the flesh.
3. In the world to come, the members of the Church will bear a new real, reciprocal relation to Christ; call it R.
4. Here below, marriage should be modeled on R.
5. R obtains between males: for instance, Christ and each blessed male.
6. As R obtains between males (from 5), and marriage is to be modeled on R (from 4), marriage may obtain between males.

The only step orthodox conservatives on the right should balk at is the conclusion, (6). Every other step is grounded in the Bible-qua canonical narrative. True, various left wingers from different TEC factions would balk at one or another of the premises; that's fine. They are not the intended audience, though they are free to listen in if they wish.

The Imperialist Impulse

Do have a look at the Rev. Graham Kings proposal for re-colonizing the United States. Kings is "theological secretary" of Fulcrum, an organization that counts N. T. Wright, PHTM (power-hungry trouble-maker), as one of its benefactors.

The key passage:

"I believe that a key part of the way forward is the concept, outlined in the Archbishop of Canterbury's statement in June 2006, of 'constituent' members of the Anglican Communion (those who choose to adopt the covenant) and 'associate' status (for those who do not)."

Okay so far. Then:

"However, to prevent more of the current haemorrhaging, there may well need to be some sort of creative interim measure in the USA, as has been suggested by some in stream three outlined above, such as a 'College of Windsor Bishops' to oversee 'Windsor compliant' parishes and dioceses in The Episcopal Church."

Kings from his perch at St. Mary's, Islington has discerned a hemorrhaging not evident to us benighted Americans whose perceptions are limited by an over reliance on actual information. And, having created an alternate Episcopal universe, he has just the solution for its problem: Impose upon the Episcopal Church a new governing body composed—surprise—of all the bishops who met with his buddy Tom Wright at Camp Allen last year.

What is especially pernicious about Wright and Kings is that they don't just want to secure a place in the Anglican Communion for Episcopal dissidents--I actually think there is merit to that cause--they want to replace the elected leadership of the Episcopal Church with leaders of their own choosing.

The designs of Peter Akinola seems modest by comparision.

(See also Mark Harris.)

Actual Episcopalians sited in Falls Church

The latest developments are here. (And another tip of the hat to Ann.)

An excerpt:

While a legal dispute over ultimate control of the properties of the 11 churches, including the Falls Church Episcopal, between the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the new CANA configuration of dissenting congregations remains before the courts, the split in Falls Church was underscored by Saturday’s event.

By contrast, across the street on Sunday morning, the service of those calling themselves “the continuing congregation” of the Falls Church Episcopal, namely those members who did not chose to defect, almost doubled in size from the previous week.

As word of the on-going operations and worship of the “continuing congregation” has grown around the city, its ranks have begun to swell, according to a member. Leading that effort is a former F.C. Episcopal vestryman, Bill Fetsch, who resigned when a majority from that church voted in December to defect. Falls Church Mayor Robin Gardner joined the service again last Sunday, as did former Vice Mayor Marty Meserve. A nine-person choir debuted.

The group has been gathering at the Falls Church Presbyterian Church, 225 E. Broad St., at 11:15 a.m. on Sundays, and will continue to do so. It has placed ads in the News-Press welcoming the public to its services. Services this Sunday will be led by the Rev. Michael Pitkin, chaplain at the Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Meanwhile, the News-Press has learned that at least one of the clergymen at the F.C. Episcopal censured by Bishop Lee last month has approached the bishop about wishing to maintain his status in the Episcopal diocese. Also, the church’s directors of music and worship, Marv and Alice Crawford, have resigned from the CANA church to move to Colorado.

Among the currently unresolved questions for some F.C. city parents is the control of the day school that operates in the F.C. Episcopal buildings. It has not been clarified whether the school is now under control of the CANA congregation or the Episcopal Church.

The Travelling Anglican Circus and Medicine Show

Andrew Gerns on the upcoming meeting of the primates in Tanzania:

Even the writers of "Lost" couldn't plausibly make this up. I mean this has the makings of being the Cannes Festival of ecclesiastical political theater. I hope someone gives out prizes.

Read it all.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise...

Like any former hockey writer, I have a soft spot in my heart for the Canadian national anthem. When you hear a song 80 or 90 times in a year, you either come to love it or hate it, and during the season I covered the NHL (1979-80, first Stanley Cup of the New York Islanders' Trottier/Bossy Dynasty) I came to prefer the Canadian anthem to our own. (Strictly as a piece of music, you understand.)

Anway, imagine my delight to find Mark Harris leading off his latest entry with news that "O Canada," had recently been sung in Cree before, what else, a hockey game. He's even got a link to a recording of the performance.

All that before getting down to matters Anglican, about which he writes:

In all the verbal madness leading up to the Primates Meeting in Dar Es Salaam it is interesting to note the relative quiet about things Canadian. The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada and various bishops on the loose were taken to task by the Windsor Report. That was then, this is now.

The focus now is on the Episcopal Church. It is the Episcopal Church Primate whose presence at the upcoming Meeting is being questioned, the Episcopal Church that is being asked to account for its actions, and only Episcopal Church "Windsor Bishops" who are being asked to make special reports. The arrows are all directed at what Bishop Tom Wright calls, "The American Church. (read the Episcopal Church)"

It would seem for the moment that the Anglican Church of Canada gets some relief. That is just fine. I believe the Anglican Church of Canada is a wonderful, struggling, batch of sinners and saints subject to all the foibles of church life, and that they are getting on with the work at hand. They don't need this sort of bashing and we as friends would not wish it on them. More, I think there may be some hints for us to be found about a way forward from the experiences of the Anglican Church of Canada as it works with its own issues.

Good dog

The Mad Priest is wicked.

If the joke isn't clear, look here for background.

Josh's plea

Have a look at this heartfelt essay by Josh Oxley, keeper of "Life as a Prayer for the Dying."

Christ in the stranger's guise

In this season: 'Christ in the stranger's guise'

For the People of the Episcopal Church

As the primates of the Anglican Communion prepare to gather next week in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I ask your prayers for all of us, and for our time together. I especially ask you to remember the mission that is our reason for being as the Anglican Communion –- God's mission to heal this broken world. The primates gather for fellowship, study, and conversation at these meetings, begun less than thirty years ago. The ability to know each other and understand our various contexts is the foundation of shared mission. We cannot easily be partners with strangers.

That meeting ends just as Lent begins, and as we approach this season, I would suggest three particularly appropriate attitudes. Traditionally the season has been one in which candidates prepared for baptism through prayer, fasting, and acts of mercy. This year, we might all constructively pray for greater awareness and understanding of the strangers around us, particularly those strangers whom we are not yet ready or able to call friends. That awareness can only come with our own greater investment in discovering the image of God in those strangers. It will require an attitude of humility, recognizing that we can not possibly know the fullness of God if we are unable to recognize his hand at work in unlikely persons or contexts. We might constructively fast from a desire to make assumptions about the motives of those strangers not yet become friends. And finally, we might constructively focus our passions on those in whom Christ is most evident –- the suffering, those on the margins, the forgotten, ignored, and overlooked of our world. And as we seek to serve that suffering servant made evident in our midst, we might reflect on what Jesus himself called us –- friends (John 15:15).

Celtic Rune of Hospitality

I saw a stranger yesterday;
I put food in the eating place,
drink in the drinking place,
music in the listening place;
and in the sacred name of the Triune God
he blessed myself and my house,
my cattle and my dear ones,
and the lark said in her song:
Oft, Oft, Oft,
goes Christ in the stranger's guise.


Shalom,
Katharine

-- The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori is Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church.

The personality of God

Hat tip to Ann for pointing me to another good story by Cathy Lee Grossman of USA Today. This one focuses on a new study of American religion, particuarly on people's view of God.

An excerpt:

Though 91.8% say they believe in God, a higher power or a cosmic force, they had four distinct views of God's personality and engagement in human affairs. These Four Gods — dubbed by researchers Authoritarian, Benevolent, Critical or Distant — tell more about people's social, moral and political views and personal piety than the familiar categories of Protestant/Catholic/Jew or even red state/blue state.

For example: 45.6% of all Americans say the federal government "should advocate Christian values," but 74.5% of believers in an authoritarian God do.

Sociologist Paul Froese says the survey finds the stereotype that conservatives are religious and liberals are secular is "simply not true. Political liberals and conservative are both religious. They just have different religious views."

(Click on comments to read Dr. Phillip Cato's interesting contribution.)

N. T. Wright chooses sides

Updated Wednesday a.m. : Do read Father Jake, who has a much more extensive critique of Wright's self--aggrandizing babble than I have managed below. See also Mark Harris, who is equally good on the bishop's faulty understanding of the situation. The Anglican Scotist has joined the conversation. Father Jim Strader's thoughts are quite helpful, too. And do visit the Admiral.

Ruth Gledhill, who cannot abide the Episcopal Church, has a lengthy interview here with Bishop N. T. Wright, who shares her disdain.

What is at work here is the old strategy of "predicting" what is going to happen in an attempt to influence what is going to happen. Wright purports to be Rowan Williams' friend. That’s hard to imagine, but maybe using the press to exert pressure on your pals is regarded as a sign of affection within the British episcopacy.

I was going to excerpt the passage from this interview that distilled the essential Tom Wright, but I couldn’t decide between the uninformed condescension he directed towards the people in Episcopal pews—Apparently you poor dim dears aren’t aware that there is a controversy afoot.—or his repeated attempts to appoint himself as the spokesman for the entire Anglican Communion.

Wright's preening aside, there is a boil on this carcass that must be lanced. Wright puts forth the curious idea that Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh supports the Windsor report because he hasn’t yet joined the Church of Nigeria. But Duncan has extended his congratulations and warmest wishes to every group that has recently left the Episcopal Church for another province, and in November, 2005, he hosted a conference at which bishops from other provinces ordained clergy to work—without invitation—in U. S. dioceses. That manifests an obvious disregard for the Windsor Report, yet Wright gives Duncan a pass.

Why? Because he has decided it is time to choose his allies. And he has chosen to make common cause with the most ardent bigots in the Anglican Communion, siding with the movement led by Peter Akinola and financed by Howard Ahmanson, men whose hatred for homosexuals is a matter of public record.

The great gift of this interview is that we will be spared further prattle about what a balanced and nuanced thinker the great scholar is. Wright was under no obligation to make these statements before the Primates Meeting in Tanzania. He did so for his own reasons, to advance his own agenda. It is now clear that he thinks ordaining a gay person to the episcopacy is a greater sin that advocating that this same person be imprisoned for holding his partner’s hand in public.

I can’t help wondering what his next book tour will be like.

I will be posting other bloggers reactions here: Richard has weighed in at Caught by the Light. Marshall Scott, of Episcopal Chaplain at the Bedside, has spoken up, too. And the Raspberry Rabbit has piped up in Scotland.

The New York Times follows our lead

We are popping our buttons twice over this morning: First, because The New York Times today carries a wonderful story about Street Church, a ministry to the homeless conducted by the Rev. Anne-Marie Jeffrey of Church of the Epiphany, which is downtown at Metro Center, and second, because the story was first told by our own Lucy Chumbley in the July/August issue of Washington Window. Have a look.

There's more info about Street Church here. And you can learn about Epiphany's Sunday morning breakfast ministry by clicking on Part 2 of this film.

A small slice of the Times' story:

“When you become homeless, you become very aware of how people treat you,” said the Rev. Anne-Marie Jeffery, who runs Street Church. “It’s hard to walk into a church, and it’s even harder when you are homeless because you’re worried about how you will be received, or if you smell bad. Some people never go inside at all, because they worry that they can lose all their stuff,” as in shopping carts that must be left outside, “or be sent to a mental hospital or to jail.”

Street Church began last February. Though Epiphany keeps its doors open during the day for everyone, and offers breakfast and an indoor service for the homeless on Sundays, the rector, the Rev. Randolph Charles, had wanted to expand into some type of outdoor worship, Ms. Jeffery said. So Mr. Charles met with the Rev. Deborah Little Wyman, another Episcopal priest, who started an outdoor worship mainly for the homeless in Boston 11 years ago and who wanted to find a church in Washington to begin a similar service.

Stuart Kenworthy receives the Bishop's Award

Perhaps you are familiar with the Rev. Stuart Kenworthy, rector of Christ Church, Georgetown, who spent several months last year as a military chaplain in Baghdad from previous entries.

Last weekend, at our diocesan convention, Bishop John Bryson Chane presented him with the Bishop's Award, an honor we bestow not quite annually upon someone in our diocese who has done extraordinary work. Previous winners are Verna Dozier, Iris Harris and the Rev. Loren Mead.

Stuart's acceptance speech is beneath the continue reading tab, and I urge you to read it.

Read more »

The opposite of Christian

Hat tip to Susan Russell for pointing me to this op-ed in yesterday's Hartford Courant. It recounts the story of another African bishop afflicting the poor to demonstrate his fidelity. In this instance, there are 20 Tanzanian teenagers won't go to school this year because the bishop didn't want to accept tained money from the Episcopal Church.

Let's leave aside for the moment that there are probably very few dollars circulating in the global economy that haven't been touched by either gay or Episcopal hands at some point--no large scale donation from any source that doesn't include "tainted" money. Leave aside also the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus makes it clear that we don't get to choose the instrument through which God works his merciful purposes. Let's just look at the example of Jesus, who suffered for others, and compare it to the example of this bishop, who has others suffer for him.

What's up in the Telegraph?

UPDATE: I am told by a friend in England that Jonathan Petre, who filed the story I mention below, is already in Tanzania, so it seems likely that the story broke there, which would mean it would indeed be a new development.

I generally trust Jonathan Petre's reporting, even though I am sometimes critical of The Telegraph's editing and its headlines. But I don't know quite what to make of the story he has today. I thought the saber rattling by Peter Akinola and his party regarding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's invitation to Tanzania, had been dealt with. Is this a fresh round, or is Petre simply recapping? I tend to think the former, because the story mentions conservative misgivings about having John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, at the meeting. I hadn't heard about that before.

The notion that Akinola's group has a veto on invitations is novel, to say the least.

Meanwhile, The Telegraph sounds as though it is ready to pull the plug on the Anglican Communion. Have a look.

Reclaiming a church

The Diocese of Massachusetts has reclaimed a church from schismatics. The Boston Globe has the story.

Episcopal Church's new dawn

At last, a story that grasps the significance of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's election as our presiding bishop. The rest of the media is focused so narrowly on the fight over human sexuality, that they've had little to say about the remarkable woman who now leads us. Cathy Lee Grossman at USA Today has written the best profile of Bishop Katharine that I have seen so far.

Get tough sooner?

The Anglican Scotist has a provocative piece this morning arguing, in effect, that bishops ought to crack down on potentially secessionist congregations sooner. Otherwise, they risk having to rely on state law to enforce the Church's polity.

He writes: "If it is indeed so important to defend episcopal polity as, to be unduly modest, a causally accessible possibility in our republic, our Bishops et al should not have left that defense to the expedient of secular law. What? I mean this, for instance: Bishop Lee should have inhibited Father Minns long before he became Bishop Minns, and brought the parish of Truro under a vicar. If the canons national or diocesan precluded it--which I for the record scarcely believe--he should have taken the risk anyhow, throwing himself in effect at the mercy of his fellow bishops, clergy, and the larger body of Episcopalian laity."

I think Episcopal bishops have two unattractive options: a) they can negotative in the hopes of showing that our Church is conciliatory towards its theological minority, while that minority prepares to seceed and clam the property; or they can act quickly and risk being cited as cause for further intrusion by other provinces and the Panel of Refrence.

As time goes on, it becomes clear that the Archbishop of Canterbury would happily settle the crisis in the Communion at our expense, so maybe we should forget about remaining in anyone's good graces and take the steps necessary to defend our Church--against both the secessionists and the Anglican bureaucracy.

On fundamentalism

Simon Barrow of Ekklesia has an excellent paper here.

Climate change and the paymasters of the Anglican Right

From The New York Times :

"PARIS, Feb. 2 — In a bleak and powerful assessment of the future of the planet, the leading international network of climate change scientists has concluded for the first time that global warming is "unequivocal" and that human activity is the main driver, "very likely" causing most of the rise in temperatures since 1950.

They said the world is already committed to centuries of warming, shifting weather patterns and rising seas, resulting from the buildup of gases in the atmosphere that trap heat. But the warming can be substantially blunted by prompt action, the panel of scientists said in a report released here today. "

Read it all, and then consider that the groups devoted to disputing the scientific consensus on this issue--the George C. Marshall Institute and the American Enterprise Institute for instance--are funded by Howard Ahmanson, Richard Melon Scaife and some of the other paymasters of the Anglican right.

People on the grass roots level of the dispute within our Communion over human sexuality may be acting out of sincere conviction, but it is no use pretending that the largese of conservative culture warriors isn't essential in fueling the struggle. When they can't win a debate, they attempt to buy it. That's what is happening in the Episcopal Church. That's what is happening on global warming. That's what is happening in the Intelligent Design movement, which is funded by the same people.

Throwing a flag on churches

If you read Bob Lipsyte's essay about faith and football that I posted yesterday, you might wonder about the wisdom of this decision by the NFL.

Potpourri

Excellent offerings from all over:

Father Jake has extensive coverage of the Diocese of Virginia's annual meeting that includes excerpts from an excellent speech on Anglicanism by the bishop suffragan, David Jones.

The Admiral of Morality examines the precarious position of Lambeth Palace as the Primates meeting approaches. He writes:

In all of its responses to the current debates within its country and throughout the Communion, Lambeth has proceeded from a resolutely English conviction that its role and advice is essential to the continued well-being of both. It has urged all parties to all conflicts and controversies, to examines themselves and precisely why it is they stake out the places they do.

The singular shortcoming of Lambeth through all of this has been its unwillingness to direct these very questions at itself. It has displayed a penchant for secrecy, presumption, self-selection, hardheadedness, self-interest and, remarkably given its conviction that it is essential, fear.

In the process it has enlarged the very real risk that one way or another, it will lose the continued good will and partnership, of its most enduring ally, its first, oldest and most generous friend--The Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

And Richard, at Caught by the Light, is featuring this videotaped interview from a PBS program with a 15-year-old Emily who says she has prayed for five years for God to make her straight. Richard writes:

"This is a powerful piece on what happened when she came out to her family, friends, school, community, and church in a rural town in Iowa.

"As a Christian priest and pastor, I ask you to watch the conversation she has with her minister. It's a study worthy of a thousand posts and a million comments."

Welcome EpiScope!

Please join me in extending a warm and enthusiastic welcome to EpiScope, the first of what I am told will be several Episcopal Church-sponsored blogs.

The mission of EpiScope is to track references to the Episcopal Church in the mainstream media online, correct inaccuracies and misrepresentations in news stories, opinion pieces, and other blogs--a.k.a. rumor control,
provide links to full documentation and source material for those corrections, provide a monitored forum for public discussion of substantive issues raised by stories and opinion pieces and provide a monitored forum for designated Episcopal News Service and Episcopal Life writers (and church program officers) to interact more directly with the wider Church and public.

We've needed something like this for a long time, and I am delighted that the Church has realized the importance of attempting to stem the tide of misinformation unleashed against it on a daily basis.

For an example of which, check out this lopsided Washington Times story. It could have been written by Martyn Minns press agent. Why do you figure that the self-proclaimed orthodox Christians rely so heavily on a paper owned by a man who claims to be the Messiah? I guess the lesson here is that if you get a call from Natasha Altamirano, who seems to be filling in while Julia Duin is on leave, you shouldn't be in any hurry to call back.

The almighty dollar and the crisis of Anglicanism

You will want to read all of Pat Ashworth's story in this week's Church Times.

It begins:

LOUD voices from Africa, aided by the “almighty dollar” and internet lobbyists, are distorting the true picture of what Africa’s 37 million Anglicans really think about sexuality and the future of the Anglican Communion, says the Bishop of Botswana, the Rt Revd Musonda Mwamba.

The Bishop, by background a lawyer and social anthropologist, was giving the keynote address to senior judges, lawyers, bishops, and clergy at the Ecclesiastical Law Society conference “The Anglican Communion: Crisis and Opportunity”, in Liverpool at the weekend. The minds of most African Anglicans were concentrated on life-and-death issues, and they were “frankly not bothered about the whole debate on sexuality”, he said.

In an incisive address, the Bishop concluded that the minority of Africans who had “the luxury to think about the issue” did not want to see the Communion disintegrate. They valued the bonds of affection, and would prefer to follow the process recommended by the Windsor report. He rebutted as “simplistic and a distortion of the truth” the belief that the African provinces were a monochrome body.

Here is the key passage:

Numbers (Nigeria having “the largest number of Anglicans in the world”) and money could be seen to influence and even manipulate the situation. “The almighty dollar has been used to strengthen the voice and position of some African bishops, who have been invited to the States and given generous incentives. Very tempting for a bishop from a poor African diocese to be fêted and offered funds by the American hosts if he endorses the party line.

“One of the things which most amaze me in this whole debate is the manner in which lobbying in America has been used to influence opinion, decision, and relationship. It has resulted in the creation of a culture of ‘them’ and ‘us’, ‘in’ and ‘out’, and never the twain shall meet. The success of this lobby has been assisted mainly by the dissemination of information on the internet.”

The Church of Football

The great Bob Lipsyte, former New York Times columnist, and young adult novelist extraordinaire, has a terrific essay about the Super Bowl on The Nation's Web site. It begins:

Given the chance, I'd watch the Super Bowl with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who knows about Baal and ball. Twenty years ago, in Lynchburg, Virginia, at a Liberty University Flames game, Dr. Falwell told me: "Jesus was no sissy. He was tough, he was a he-man. If he played football, you'd be slow getting up after he tackled you."

He had me at "sissy." The rest was revelation. The muscularity of Dr. Falwell's evangelical Christianity was a perfect fit with football, another win-or-lose game. For Americans, war hasn't produced a real winner for more than 60 years. That's why we need football. But let's get back to Dr. Falwell. "My respect for Catholicism and Mormonism goes straight up watching Notre Dame and Brigham Young play," he told me. He hoped that, someday, Notre Dame and Liberty, his evangelical college, would meet for the national championship, thus informing the nation that "the Christians are here, we're not meek and we're not going to fall down in front of you. We're here to stay."

Read it all.

Full disclosure: I have been a fan of Bob's since I read The Contender in the seventh grade. He helped me get my first book published, and I am forever in his debt.

But it would still be a terrific essay, even if we'd never met.

EW still loves Friday Night Lights

Ken Tucker on actor Gaius Charles: [H]e's offering one of the most nuanced presentations of a young black man on TV.

Read it all.

Bulletin bloopers

Lurking beneath the continue reading tab are list of sentences that allegedly appeared in church publications.

A few of my faves:

Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again,"giving obvious pleasure to the congregation

The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaigns slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours."

Read more »

PEP speaks

The latest from Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh lurks beneath the continue reading tab.

They make a point that shouldn't need making, but does:

"Bishop Duncan is indeed the duly elected bishop of a diocese within The Episcopal Church. Despite his rhetoric, however, he is not the ruler of an independent ecclesiastical entity—that is, the Diocese of Pittsburgh—that he can freely associate with whatever church he chooses. Each Episcopal Church leader is subject to the General Convention, which elects the Presiding Bishop, establishes the church’s constitution, canons, and administrative units, to which certain rights and responsibilities are given in trust to be used to further the Church’s mission and ministries."

Read more »

All the news there's time to read

Simon has extensive coverage of the coverage of developments in Virginia.

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