Canada's HOB releases statement on same-sex blessings

The Anglican Church of Canada's House of Bishops has released a pastoral statement on same-sex blessings that will be sent to delegates of General Synod.

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, meeting from April 16-20, 2007, once again discussed the question of the blessing of same-sex unions. Once again a number of diverse opinions were expressed. Again questions were raised about theology, scripture, discipline, and our church's constitution. However we did find a common strong concern for the pastoral care of all members of our church. While not all bishops can conceive of condoning or blessing same-sex unions, we believe it is not only appropriate but a Gospel imperative to pray with the whole people of God, no matter their circumstance. In so doing we convey the long-standing Gospel teaching that God in Christ loves each person and indeed loves him/her so much that Christ is calling each person to change and grow more fully into God's image and likeness. To refuse to pray with any person or people is to suggest God is not with them. All of us fall short of the glory of God but all are loved by God in Christ Jesus. We believe that in offering the sacraments we invite God's transformative action in people's lives.

Read the whole statement here.

The Huffington Post: A Split Episcopal Church

The Rev. Astrid Storm, vicar of the Church of St. Nicholas-on-the-Hudson, writes about Akinola's upcoming visit to install the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns as CANA's missionary bishop in The Huffington Post. In her essay, she remarks on how the departure of certain Virginia churches sowed a deeper dissent this past December:

As has been noted plenty of times before, the decision these churches made to leave the Episcopal Church because of its gay-friendly leanings is monumental, involving complex property disputes, legal wrangling, and the possible—probable—loss of dearly loved church buildings. That's not to mention the risks that come with aligning with an erratic bishop with a dubious human rights record from a country with problems that these Virginians probably can't begin to fathom—problems that have and will continue to have an enormous impact on the church and society in Nigeria.

In showing their willingness to take on such risks, the people in these parishes are making a strong statement against friends, acquaintances, and members of their own families who are gay or at least sympathize with gay people—sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings. Through those emails last December, I got but a glimpse of the sadness and alienation that must have resulted in many homes.

She continues, bearing witness to her own church, where people with opposing opinions came together in worship.

Read the whole thing here: A Split Episcopal Church.

PB asks Akinola to reconsider visit

[ENS] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has written to Nigerian Primate Peter J. Akinola asking him to reconsider plans to install Martyn Minns as a bishop in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), an action she says "would violate the ancient customs of the church" and would "not help the efforts of reconciliation."

Such action, Jefferts Schori added, "would display to the world division and disunity that are not part of the mind of Christ, which we must strive to display to all."

The installation service, set for May 5 the Hylton Memorial Chapel, a nondenominational Christian Event Center in Woodbridge, Virginia, is intended to install Minns as bishop of CANA, which describes itself as "an Anglican missionary effort in the US sponsored by the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)."

Read it all.

Important ruling in South Carolina

[Episcopal News Service] A South Carolina state judge has ruled that the minority of the members of the parish of All Saints, Waccamaw in Pawley's Island, South Carolina who remained loyal to the Episcopal Church do, in fact, constitute All Saints' Episcopal congregation.

The ruling arose from two different lawsuits, the earliest filed in 2000, over the issue of who owns the 50-acre campus that is also home to the breakaway Anglican Mission in America (AMiA). One of the cases arose in 2000 when the Diocese of South Carolina filed a public notice that All Saints, subject to applicable canon law, holds its property in trust for the diocese and the Episcopal Church as a whole. Attorneys for the diocese said that the notice was filed "out of concern that All Saints might attempt to convey its property" to the AMiA.

Read it all with special attention to the judge's reasoning. The Episcopal Church will be in a strong legal position if this logic is embraced by courts in other states.

Keeping everyone at the table

From Anglican Journal:

Rowan Williams said on his recent visit to Canada that his job as Archbishop of Canterbury—the spiritual leader of the world’s 77 million Anglicans—is to get people around the table and keep them there as long as possible.

Of course, in ecclesiastical terms, Archbishop Williams’ words carry two meanings: he is attempting to keep all parties around the meeting table, continuing to talk about the challenges surrounding human sexuality and the authority of Scripture that threaten to divide them forever. He is also faced with the task of trying to keep all members around the eucharistic table. In some respects, he can record some success and some failure on both counts.

The recent meeting of primates in Tanzania is one marker of his progress. While there in February, seven leaders of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces boycotted a communion service to symbolize the “brokenness” of the communion. Granted, the number of absentee bishops was about half that which declined to share communion two years earlier at the same meeting in Northern Ireland. But it nevertheless shocked some observers, who could not fathom why church leaders would refuse to partake in the greatest gift to believers: the body and blood of Christ, simply in order to make a point.

Read it all here.

Some Canadian Anglicans call for cautious approach

The General Synod Canadian Anglicans meets in June. Among the resolutions before the synod are several dealing with same-sex blessings.

The Anglican Journal reports that several groups within the Anglican Church of Canada have separate statements of caution. These include the Primate's Theological Commission:

The commission has clarified that only one of five resolutions related to the blessing of same-sex deals with the St. Michael Report it released in 2005.

That resolution states, “That this General Synod accepts the conclusion of the Primate’s Theological Commission’s St. Michael Report that the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine, but is not core doctrine in the sense of being creedal.”
Bishop Victoria Matthews, chair of the commission, explained why the commission issued a clarification: “I don’t think the Anglican Church of Canada has been as diligent as I would like to think it has. And so I’m afraid that people could read those resolutions and believe that that’s the recommendation of the St. Michael Report.” She added: “We don’t make recommendations, we do raise theological questions.”
In an interview, Bishop Matthews said that she was “very surprised” by CoGS’ recommendation that General Synod deal with the issue of same-sex blessings through resolutions requiring the approval of a 60 per cent majority of the members of the order of bishops, laity and clergy or 60 per cent of dioceses if a vote by dioceses is requested, instead of the adoption or amendment of a canon....
She said that she was surprised by CoGS’ decision because when she presented the Commission’s report to CoGS, she had heard the chancellor (legal advisor) of General Synod express a legal opinion that it would be dealt with as doctrine.

A majority of CoGS members decided at their March meeting that a canonical change “set the bar too high” and would create an impasse in a church already exhausted with the divisive issue of sexuality.

The commission, appointed by the primate to consult on theological matters, also said that General Synod should, as part of its determination, consider whether it is “theologically and doctrinally responsible for one member church of the Communion to approve a course of action which it has reason to believe may be destructive of the unity of the Communion.”

Read it all here.

Bishop Matthews is one of four nominees for primate in Canada.

Canadian bishops reject same-sex blessings

The Toronto Star is reporting this morning:

Canada's Anglican bishops are rejecting same-sex marriage blessings in this country, leaving the U.S. church alone in a fight that has pushed the international communion to the verge of schism.

The surprise move came in the form of a pastoral letter issued early yesterday by the church on behalf of its bishops.

The church had no one available to comment yesterday. The office of Edmonton Bishop Victoria Matthews, one of the architects of the letter, for instance, said she is out of town for a few days and could not be reached for comment. Matthews is a top candidate to be the next primate of the church.

Chris Ambidge, a spokesperson for the gay Anglican group Integrity Canada, said yesterday the situation is incredibly frustrating and reveals a lack of leadership among the bishops.

See also this companion piece on this morning's The Lead.

Read all of the Toronto Star article here.

A letter from Bishop Lee

Bishop Peter James Lee of the Diocese of Virginia has written a letter to his diocese regarding Archbishop Peter Akinola's upcoming visit. He writes:

This weekend’s ceremony will provide false comfort to those who seek certainty in an uncertain world. But in truth, it will serve only to inflame the differences we have been struggling with. When there is so much that brings us together as brothers and sisters in Christ, in a Church that has always celebrated and respected a wide variety of opinions, it is painful to see our shared ministry and faith overshadowed by our differences.

Read more »

2004: Bishop Salmon writes All Saints

As reported yesterday, the Diocese of South Carolina has won its latest legal round with the secessionist parish All Saints Pawley's Island.

Back in January 2004 Bishop Salmon (South Carolina) wrote to the members of the parish. His letter echoes current events that surround CANA. Here is some of what he wrote:

When Bishop Murphy was consecrated in Singapore in an irregular consecration in 2000, I was not in favor of the consecration because I believed that it would be divisive to orthodox unity. I believe it has. I could not change the fact that it had taken place. Since Bishop Murphy was no longer under our Canons, I had no control over the exercise of his ministry. The hope and expectation was that All Saints Parish would remain a faithful part of the Diocese of South Carolina.

When the Vestry in Moorehead City, N.C. voted to leave the Diocese of East Carolina they first transferred title to the church property to another group, and then informed the bishop that they were leaving the Diocese of East Carolina. Because of this the Chancellor advised me to record in the Georgetown County Courthouse, the Canons of the Diocese reflecting the requirement regarding property under which all congregations operate.
I discovered, by happenstance, that the All Saints vestry had voted to amend the 1902 Charter which the then serving Chancellor had assisted the parish in securing. By way of background, the granting of the 1902 Charter by the Secretary of State was followed by the Trustees of the Diocese’s conveying the title to the church property to All Saints Church Parish by quit claim deed dated 1903.
The basic issues on the table are those of lawlessness and the stability of the Diocese itself. We have no theological issues with All Saints. If any parish in the Diocese can unilaterally decide to not be under the Canons, appoint vicars, do what they want to when they want to, our strength as a Diocese is soon destroyed. There is no authority, only individual choice. That is exactly why the Episcopal Church is in the mess it is in. Bishops have individually acted without accountability, believe or not believe as they choose. That is lawlessness. It is my duty to oppose it.

I have met with members of All Saints who are loyal to the Diocese. It was my decision to treat the loyal membership as a parish rather than a mission.

The full letter is available in the titusonenine archives here.

PMI and ACI compared

We missed its appearance in Church Times back on April 20, but Andrew Brown has written a barbed account of the Anglican Communion Institute. The opening:

One of my favourite satirical websites is The Poor Man, which, some years ago, felt it was suffering from a lack of gravitas, and changed its name to The Poor Man Institute for Freedom, Democracy, and a Pony. The Pony was added on the principle that no wish-list of wonderful things could not be improved by adding “and a pony” to the end. Who would have thought this joke could have been independently discovered by such earnest parties as Lord Carey and Dr Ephraim Radner?

Both men were directors of the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI), something that claimed on its website that: “By bringing together the finest theological and biblical scholars in the Church, it has been and will continue to be our goal to offer a forum for significant reflection on core matters of the doctrine and discipline of the Church for its clergy and lay members.”

With a pitch like that, it hardly needed to mention the ponies. But what was this thing in real life? The Poor Man Institute is just a couple of bored graduate students. The ACI, on the other hand, claimed hundreds of supporters, as well as a distinguished board of directors, and funding from the rich and influential Grace Church in Denver, Colorado.

Keep reading here. And a thanks to Thinking Anglicans for the link.

Archbishop of York warns voters about "wall of hate"

Ecclesia reports:

The Archbishop of York, has placed an advert in his local newspaper urging voters to come out against the BNP in Thursday's local elections.

In the advert, the Church of England's most senior black cleric Dr John Sentamu warns that if people fail to vote they will be sleepwalking into "a wall of hate".

The advert comes after criticism that he and other bishops in the church may be playing into the hands of extremist parties, by urging the defence of Britain's 'Christian culture'.

Groups such as the religious thinktank Ekklesia have warned that the BNP has recently stepped up its religious rhetoric. In recent local elections, the party's literature included copies of the controversial Mohammed cartoons
In the advert, which appears in York newspaper The Press, today, the Archbishop, says voters should beware of political parties which promise much but have policies that promote hate and division.

"Jesus warned us to be wary of wolves who come in sheep’s clothing," the Archbishop says in the quarter-page advert. "They come with honeycombed words, promising a New England, and a land of milk and honey. In reality they offer us a diet of bile and discord, a desert of hopelessness and policies which stoke the ashes of Clifford’s Tower."

Clifford's Tower was Britain's worst anti-Semitic attack, when 150 Jews were killed in York on March 16, 1190.

Read it all here. The take on The York Press is here.

Fort Worth: poster diocese?

Fort Worth Weekly describes the state of The Episcopal Church in Fort Worth. Writer Eric Griffey interviews people from a variety of views on issues in the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Fort Worth and their Bishop Jack Iker.

A Great Schism?
The fight between liberal and conservative Episcopalians comes to Cowtown.

....this rich tapestry, threaded with strong strands of tolerance and freedom from clearly defined dogma, is threatening to unravel. The American-based Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion of which the church is a part are engaged in a bitter struggle over the roles of homosexuals and women within the church. This long-simmering disagreement broke out into open warfare in 2003 with the consecration of the openly gay V. Gene Robinson as the Bishop of New Hampshire. Since then, the events in this intense and increasingly less polite fight have often seemed more like something you might read while standing in the checkout line in the grocery store than in the annals of a denomination that intuitively searches for the “middle way.”

Read more »

Duncan to attend Minns installation

The Washington Times is saying:

Despite a general invitation to CANA-affiliated parishes in Virginia plus about 200 invitations to out-of-town church officials, most conservative Episcopal leaders are avoiding the rite.

A phone survey of 10 Episcopal dioceses that belong to the Anglican Communion Network (ACN) -- a confederation that opposes the Robinson consecration -- revealed that only its moderator, Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, plans to attend. Bishop Don Harvey, moderator of the Anglican Network of Canada, has also accepted.

Read more »

Abp Akinola Replies

From The Church of Nigeria website

2nd May, 2007

The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori,
Episcopal Church Center
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017, USA

My attention has been drawn to your letter of April 30th ostensibly written to me but published on the Episcopal News Service website.

In light of the concerns that you raise it might be helpful to be reminded of the actions and decisions that have led to our current predicament.

At the emergency meeting of the Primates in October 2003 it was made clear that the proposed actions of the Episcopal Church would “tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level, and may lead to further division on this and further issues …” Sadly, this proved to be true as many provinces did proceed to declare broken or impaired communion with the Episcopal Church. Since that time the Primates have established task forces, held numerous meetings and issued a variety of statements and communiqués but the brokenness remains, our Provinces are divided, and so the usual protocol and permissions are no longer applicable.

You will also recall from our meeting in Dar es Salaam that there was specific discussion about CANA and recognition – expressed in the Communiqué itself – of the important role that it plays in the context of the present division within your Province. CANA was established as a Convocation of the Church of Nigeria, and therefore a constituent part of the Communion, to provide a safe place for those who wish to remain faithful Anglicans but can no longer do so within The Episcopal Church as it is currently being led. The response for your own House of Bishops to the carefully written and unanimously approved Pastoral Scheme in the Communiqué makes it clear that such pastoral protection is even more necessary.

Read more »

View from Falls Church

The Falls Church News-Press comments on the visit to Virginia by Abp Akinola:

While the political elites in Abuja will use guns to maintain dominion over voters, Akinola will be lording over a ceremony in Old Dominion to install church rector Martyn Minns as the bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a subsidiary of the Nigerian church. Basically, conservatives who think the Episcopal Church is too liberal, are refusing to submit to its authority, and instead have opted to align themselves with Akinola.

Read it all HERE

Read more »

Abraham's Tent

Bishop Christopher Epting relates the story of three faiths in search of common ground - real ground. A Synagogue, a Mosque and an Episcopal Church work together to share land and build common space.

From Epting's blog That We All May Be One

They are now looking for property on which to build three worship sites and a “middle building” tentatively called “Abraham’s tent” which can be a gathering space, coffee shop, educational and outreach center for the larger community. They are clear that each community needs to tend to its own internal needs of formation, nurture, “life cycle” issues like births and marriages and funerals and more.

Read more »

Minns holds press conference

With two days to go until he is installed as Bishop Missionary Leader of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) by the Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria, Bp. Martyn Minns held a press conference Thursday to place the May 5 event into context.

Read more »

Churches March for Immigrant Rights

Revival of sanctuary movements among churches and lobbying for immigrant rights have become ways that Episcopal Churches are joining with other faith groups and with workers and their families to respond to Jesus' command to love our sisters and brothers. Many marched on May 1st with Immigrant Rights groups.

"Immigrant-rights groups around the United States marched on May 1 to urge Congress to pass legislation that will make the immigration system one that balances enforcement with acknowledgment of the need for an expanded program to permit foreign workers to enter the country legally. Immigrant-rights and faith-based advocates of reform, including the Episcopal Church, have consistently pressed for allowing those immigrants without documentation the chance to earn credit toward permanent status if they are employed and meet certain additional requirements.

Read more »

Court supports diocese in property dispute

The following has been posted on the website of the Diocese of Florida:

Judge Karen Cole of the Circuit Court of Duval County has granted the diocese's motion for summary judgment in connection with our claim of ownership of Church of the Redeemer in Jacksonville. We expect to regain possession of the church property very soon and Episcopal worship and ministry under the leadership of the Rev. Davette Turk will be resuming at Redeemer shortly. Please stay tuned for details regarding the schedule.

The full court motion is found here.

Seattle Diocese seeks new Bishop columnist Joel Connelly has a report from the "walk-abouts" going on in the Diocese of Olympia in preparation for the diocesan election of a new bishop:

As five candidates vying to become Western Washington's new Episcopal bishop were driven here to meet the faithful at a "Walkabout," their bus broke down.

Was it a warning from the Holy Spirit? The mainstream Protestant churches in these parts, especially the troubled Diocese of Olympia, badly need tuneups and a new battery.

Seattle is the least "churched" of America's major cities. Despite -- or because of -- that fact, the area's churches have displayed ingenuity in good works and witness.

For a frank discussion of the challenges facing the Diocese of Olympia, read the rest of the article here.

Canterbury asks Akinola to cancel trip

In an article titled "Synod members support for Bishop Minns" comes this interesting nugget about the trip Archbishop Akinola is making to Virginia this weekend to install Bishop Minns as the Missionary Bishop for CANA:

Lambeth Palace today confirmed the Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the African Primate asking him to cancel his trip to Virginia to carry out the service. A spokesman for Dr Rowan Williams confirmed a letter had been sent to the Archbishop of Nigeria, while it has also been reported that the Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has also appealed to Bishop Akinola not to carry out the installation at Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge, Virginia. She is reported to have said such an action would "violate the ancient customs of the church, in terms of the sacrosanct boundaries of individual bishops" and would not "help the efforts of reconciliation that are taking place in the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion as a whole." But Mr O'Brien said he would be giving the greeting to Mr Minns to show solidarity with orthodox Anglicans in North America.

The full article is here: Anglican Mainstream » Synod members support for Bishop Minns

Canadians rebuff Bishops’ proposal

Integrity Canada has released a statement today that takes issue with the recent Canadian Anglican House of Bishop's statement on Same-Sex blessings. The statement is posted on Integrity USA's blogsite:
"Gay Anglicans offer mixed reviews of a statement by the Canadian House of Bishops in which the bishops claim to support 'the most generous pastoral response possible' toward gay and lesbian couples while they also signal they will veto attempts to clarify the church's teaching. Members of Integrity Canada are at turns offended, disappointed, and confused by the bishops' 'possible pastoral responses' and demands for prolonged dialogue and study. The proposed pastoral provisions are a 'slap in the face of committed gay and lesbian couples,' says Michelle Crawford-Bewley of Integrity Toronto. 'We are relegated to second-class status in our own church.'"
The release quotes a member of Integrity stating:
"As limited as the proposal is," observes Chris Ambidge of Integrity Toronto, "in some jurisdictions this would be an improvement. In some places children of gay parents are denied baptism, gay people are turned away from the communion rail, and the bishops know that. We'd expect them to implement their earlier policy that it is unacceptable to deny baptism to children to discipline their parents, but until then any tentative statement in that direction is welcome."
You can read the rest of the release here: Gay Anglicans rebuff Bishops’ proposal for “pastoral care” and more study

Anglican Essentials Canada has posted a statement from that also rejects that Canadian HoB statement but for opposite reasons. It states in part:
Unfortunately, the Bishops' statement forecloses any further discussion of the blessing of same sex unions by accepting those in committed homosexual relationships to Communion and confirmation. The statement advocates using the Eucharist as a device to give the church's recognition to gay and lesbian married couples. This supposes that gay and lesbian practice is, in principle at least, a form of Christian holiness, and it clearly insinuates the hope that the forthcoming General Synod will explicitly sanction the blessing of same-sex unions, so bringing the ACC into line with the civil marriage of gay couples that are now sanctioned by Canadian law. This deviates directly from the pastoral care of homosexuals which the whole Christian church has practiced till very recently, and to which the Lambeth Conference of 1998 recalled us all, and to which the greater part of the world-wide Anglican Communion adheres today. The deviation is totally unacceptable to all those who hold to the apostolic Christian faith as the churches of the Anglican Communion have received it.
The full statement by Anglican Essentials is posted here.

The article published in the Star (and on as linked above) which claimed the HoB called for the "status quo" has been responded to by the General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada. He specifically rejects any sense that the matter is settled going forward. He states:
The statement issued by the Canadian House of Bishops was intended to anticipate the pastoral needs of Anglicans after a decision on same-sex blessings, which will be made by our General Synod in June. The statement describes the status quo and is not pre-emptive of the decision General Synod will make. Bishops will be part of that process, but they do not make such decisions on their own.

Nigerian bishop visits Texas

The Right Reverend Dr. Ben Kwashi, bishop of the Diocese of Jos in the Church of Nigeria, will celebrate the Holy Eucharist at both 8:30 and 11 a.m. services at Family of Holy Trinity Anglican Church on Sunday, May 6.

...Holy Trinity Anglican Church is a new member of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. Church leaders say that since its first service, March 18, the congregation has grown steadily, and the parish has bought land on Miller Road in Rowlett to eventually build a permanent home.

Bishop Kwashi is the Coordinating Bishop for the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. He's on the board of Trinity School for Ministry and is chairman of Sharing of Ministries Abroad (SOMA) International.

It's unclear what the difference in roles is (or will be) betweeen Bishop Kwashi who serves as coordinating bishop of CANA and Bishop Minns, who is to be installed as "Bishop Missionary Leader" of the same organization.

News report from here

Vestry says don't vote

More news from the swirl of controversy surrounding Grace and St. Stephen's parish in Colorado Springs:

Faith at Altitude: Vestry says Don't Vote

"We ask that you not participate in this vote both because it is unlawful and because its outcome has already been determined," the vestry told parishioners in a May 3 letter. Grace's Web site states it's now part of CANA, and the banner in the sanctuary is that of CANA, too -- replacing the Episcopal flag.

The Grace Episcopal vestry called Grace CANA a "secessionist congregation now occupying our property," and argued the whole vote was anti-Episcopalian, and anti-Anglican, for that matter.

"We don't vote locally about parish migration," the letter read. "If Father Armstrong comes to disagree with Archbishop Akinola (who leads the Nigerian province) or if Bishop Minns (leader of CANA) investigates him for wrongdoing, what then? Another move to another bishop followed by another sham vote?"

There's much more, and also the text of the letter that was sent by the leadership of the "episcopalian" portion of the congregation, at the link above.

He's back

Anglican Church Intercedes

WASHINGTON, May 4 — The archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, has waded into a gathering dispute over efforts by conservative congregations in this country to break away from the Episcopal Church.
[But] according to organizers of the installation ceremony, Archbishop Akinola is already in the United States.

- Neela Banerjee, New York Times

Archbishop Angry About Minister Becoming Bishop

The head of the Anglican Communion is displeased, his spokesman says, that the leader of the Nigerian branch plans to make a bishop of a Fairfax City minister who left the Episcopal Church. Martyn Minns, rector at Truro Church, led about a dozen Virginia congregations last winter out of the U.S. church, part of the Anglican Communion, and into the Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola will install Minns today as a missionary bishop for the convocation. "This is clearly not a development that the Archbishop would wish to encourage," said a spokesman for Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

-- Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post

Of course, Martyn Minns was consecrated a bishop in Nigeria last year. Today's installation is ceremonial.

The buzz on the visit

Archbishop Peter Akinola's visit to northern Virginia to install the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns as bishop of a North American initiative of the Church of Nigeria has set the blogosphere buzzing. The Mad Priest has weighed in, and Mark Harris has posted two thoughtful entries.

What's been missing so far from the commentary and the coverage is an analysis of who the audiences for Akinola's initiative are. We take a stab at that on the Daily Episcopalian blog.

New Bishop for OK

Former police officer, The Rev. Dr. Edward J. Konieczny was elected bishop of Oklahoma today on the first ballot. He has served as rector of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Grand Junction, Colorado, and has also served congregations in the Diocese of Texas.

According to Oklahomans, his last name is pronounced: con YETCH nee

Full story HERE
Information on the bishop-elect HERE

File 13?

Where have all the letters to Archbishop Peter J. Akinola gone?

Read more »

Coverage commences

The Rev. Mark Harris, the Mad Priest and the Associated Press have early coverage and commentary on the installation of a bishop from the Church of Nigeria to lead parishes in the United States against the wishes of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

More coverage:
New York Times, Neela Banerjee, reports on the ceremony and hopes of CANA.
Jared Cramer at Scribere Orare Est reflects on Installation, Schism, and a Blessing.
Richmond Times Dispatch reports on attendance.

Conservatives disapprove of CANA

Beyond the pomp of yesterday's service and the buzz, it is too early to predict the future of Minns's group and the conservative movement in general, clergy and scholars say.
The Washington Post has a page A01 story on Saturday's installation of Bp. Minns by Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria:

Read more »

Church Thriving

The Presiding Bishop in Iowa:
" of the great joys I've had in my first six months, getting to travel and see the health and vitality that exists in this church,'' she told a crowd of about 300 at Christ Episcopal Church [Cedar Rapids.] "I know it's not always what you read in the newspaper or hear on the news, but it's true.''

Read more »

Working together in Ghana

The Episcopal Church, Archbishop of Canterbury and The Anglican Diocese of Ghana work together to build a hostel to accomodate pilgrims to the Retreat Center at Accra and serve as a counseling center.

Read more »

Pie Thrower in Colorado

The Grace Episcopal Church controversy took a bizarre turn Sunday when a man barged into the 9 a.m. service, hurled a cream pie at the Rev. Don Armstrong and dashed out without saying a word.

More: According to a report by Jennifer Wilson in the Colorado Springs Gazette:

The pie thrower didn’t get far. Several parishioners chased him for several blocks, apprehended him near Palmer High School, then hauled him back to the church for Colorado Springs police.

Marcus Hyde, 18, faces misdemeanor charges of harassment, trespassing, criminal mischief and disrupting a lawful assembly, police Sgt. Vince Niski said. Hyde was cited and released at the scene.

Armstrong was delivering a sermon titled “Of Christian Love and Charity” when Hyde burst through the side door closest to the pulpit, said church member Tim Chambers, who wrote about the incident on his blog at

Armstrong responded to a request for an interview by writing an e-mail to The Gazette. In it, he said he avoided a face full of dessert by ducking behind the pulpit. He said the missile smelled like banana cream.

“He aimed right at me and would have hit me squarely, but I ducked into the pulpit and it went right over me and onto the floor,” Armstrong wrote. “This poor guy needs to find a more effective (way) to express himself without all the messy resulting complications.”

Reached by phone Sunday night, Hyde declined to comment, saying he had to speak with an attorney first. Police said he told them he was passing judgment on Armstrong on behalf of church parishioners.

A blog post written by a person who was there and a supporter of Fr. Armstrong called the incident "a hate crime." The Gazette spoke to a friend of Hyde's who said “It’s a protest move, and it’s hilarious.” Both the Gazette and the Rocky Mountain News said that Hyde "was passing judgment on Armstrong for his fellow parishioners, according to a police report."

Somewhere between hilarious and a hate crime is the fact of the emotionality of the situation and one hopes that the acting out remains both civil and safe.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

It's one thing to have a grand liturgy in a rented space. But, according to a report in the Post and Courier of Charleston, SC, it is quite another thing to take the property with you.

In his article, Post and Courier reporter Adam Parker contextualizes the installation Saturday of Bishop Martyn Minns as Missionary Bishop of the Church of Nigeria. He writes today that:

Efforts to achieve realignment, however, have been complicated by church property disputes. A recent court ruling concerning All Saints Parish, Waccamaw, on Pawley's Island favored the Episcopal Church's position that individuals can elect to leave the church but parishes cannot.

In the ruling, S.C. Court of Common Pleas Judge W. Thomas Cooper said that the Episcopal Church is a hierarchical structure, and that its former vestry members are not officers of All Saints Parish, which belongs to those who remained part of the U.S. church.

But, virtually ensuring future legal challenges, he also noted the mixture of civil and ecclesiastical law: "Which of two church factions should be recognized as the 'communicants' who, under the parish's constitution, make up the voting members of the church and are therefore entitled to choose its officers?" Cooper wrote in the ruling.

"That quintessentially religious question is left up to the church authorities."

The judge ordered that the amendments made to the parish's certificate of incorporation, amendments meant to disassociate the parish from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina, are to be canceled, and he said members of the breakaway parish did not have a legal right to use the property.

According the text of the actual ruling, a parish can neither unilaterally change their corporate amendments to become an independent, congregational church from a hierarchical church nor can they unilaterally transfer themselves to another hierarchical church without both violating the first amendment rights of the Episcopal Church or without constituting a fraud towards the members who are communicants of the church.

In addition, the judge wrote that the definition of a communicant is set out by the Episcopal Church not the parish. As soon as the members declared themselves members of another denomination, in this case the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) via the Church of Rwanda, they ceased to be communicants in the Episcopal Church and their vote to leave was invalid.

Readers wishing to more fully understand the strategic ins and outs should read the Report of the House of Bishops' Task Force on Property Disputes which has just become available over at Daily Episcopalian.

Akinola responds to letter from Williams

Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria wrote a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury after the installation of the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns as Missionary Bishop to CANA claiming that his action in the United States Saturday was "for the Communion" and was a result of the actions of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.

Akinola reiterated his claim that CANA by being an extension of the Church of Nigeria is a bona-fide member of the Anglican Communion. He says that once conditions are right, he would be happy to surrender CANA to the Communion. The letter does not state he means by that or what those conditions might be. Nor did he address the claims on real property of the Episcopal Church that most CANA parishes have made.

He called the response of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church disrespectful towards Akinola and the rest of the Anglican Communion Primates and reiterated previous claims that the Episcopal Church is undertaking "their own unbiblical agenda (which) exacerbate our current divisions."

Saying that "the Lord’s name has been dishonoured," Akinola says that to not act would imperil "thousands of souls" and that therefore the establishment of a missionary diocese overlapping the Episcopal Church offers "hope for the future of our beleaguered Communion."

The letter is posted on the Church of Nigeria website.

Another Property Dispute Settled in Court

A Florida state judge has agreed with the Episcopal Diocese of Florida's claim that it and not a group of dissidents owns the property of the Church of the Redeemer in Jacksonville.

"We expect to regain possession of the church property very soon and Episcopal worship and ministry under the leadership of the Rev. Davette Turk will be resuming at Redeemer shortly," the diocese said in a statement on its website.

Fourth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Karen K. Cole ruled on April 27 that Florida state law requires her to accept the diocese's determination of who is the rightful occupant of a congregation's property.

She wrote that the state law defers to decisions made by the "highest ecclesiastical authority" in a denomination structured as a "hierarchical church." Such a denomination is one that is organized into governing bodies of hierarchical ascending jurisdiction, Cole explained.

This is the second civil court settled in favor of an Episcopal diocese in as many weeks.

Read the summary judgment by Judge Cole here.

Read the Episcopal News Release item here.

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A Millenial Views the Church

There is a reformation going on and it is good, according to a post on Future Politics, which focuses on the progressive youth movement. The writer commends "the dedication shown by the Episcopal Church to Jesus’ teachings about including the outcast is at the forefront of this reformation, split,and reevaluation. And if - if - we can hand these guys a mic when the “news” hits about the split, it could reconfigure how a lot of people view christianity. Move the goalposts, dammit!"

The post, which also appears here, has a really fine and colorful summary of both the differences between the Episcopal Church and other churches, but also differences within the Anglican Communion.

His analysis is that the church is splitting between those who fear those who have "cooties" and those who will welcome anyone.

The writer says that the questions being debated now in the Church will either pave the way for millenials to find a spiritual home or cause them to stay away when these issues begin to matter more to them.

Just what did he say?

The Rev. Mark Harris "translates" Akinola's recent letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury into plain-folk language, and includes commentary on how he arrived at his succinct version:

I think the Archbishop of Nigeria could have been clearer and shorter in his response. Here is a much shortened rewrite of the full version of his letter, which can be found HERE:
Dear Rowan:

I read your letter. It came too late, the deed was done before I read it. No matter, it was always too late. Those TEC people have dishonoured the Lord's name and they will not retract. CANA is here to stay. There are people to save, bishops to elect and a plan already in place for province to replace The Episcopal Church. Bishop Minns, and CANA established, are just the first steps in this process. But you knew that.

In Christ,


Harris' article does a good job of unpacking the challenges in Akinola's letter, not the least of which being that CANA seems comfortable asserting that they will not negotiate with the Episcopal Church:

...the offer is to turn CANA, this gift for the Communion, over to the Communion. What this means, who knows, but we might do well to consider the relational terms here: surrender is contingent on the conditions that prompted the divisions being overturned. ... The wording may not be completely clear, but the intention is: no negotiations with The Episcopal Church at all, they must either overturn their prior decisions or have them overturned. At that point CANA will be surrendered to the Communion. But of course the Archbishop does not think this will happen.

Read the whole thing at Preludium.

Mixed messages

Integrity Canada offers some responses to the Canadian House of Bishops statement that illustrate a perceived conflict in how they will treat the question of gays in the church.

...the bishops claim to support "the most generous pastoral response possible" toward gay and lesbian couples while they also signal they will veto attempts to clarify the church's teaching.

On the one hand, says the release from Integrity Canada, there is good news in this:

"As limited as the proposal is," observes Chris Ambidge of Integrity Toronto, "in some jurisdictions this would be an improvement. In some places children of gay parents are denied baptism, gay people are turned away from the communion rail, and the bishops know that. We'd expect them to implement their earlier policy that it is unacceptable to deny baptism to children to discipline their parents, but until then any tentative statement in that direction is welcome."

But the bishops stop short of advocating that same-sex unions be recognized in the church. Integrity also notes that the line may be more political than pastoral, and may reflect an urban/rural divide:

But while other church sacraments are open to gay church members, the bishops draw the line at marriage, even disallowing prayers for God's blessing on civilly married same-sex couples. Without promising any particular action, the bishops suggest that "intercessory prayers" may be allowed for gay couples who make their covenant promises elsewhere, but not a "nuptial prayer." Although official church teaching affirms the sanctity of committed same-sex relationships, the bishops insist "the doctrine and discipline of our church does not clearly permit further action."

It is unclear, however, whether the proposal offering special prayers for married same-sex couples can be taken seriously, whether this is a pastoral or a political gesture. Which bishops would actually implement this suggestion? For the conservatives it goes too far, and in most urban centres it is far too little, far too late, and only further alienates gay and lesbian people.

Read more about this and how the HoB's stalling on this issue is causing people to leave the church on both ends of the spectrum at Walking With Integrity.

ERD, local dioceses support tornado-ravaged town

The news from Greenburg, Kansas, this weekend has been heart-wrenching. A tornado devastated the town in mere minutes (photos here), and uplifting stories of survival and hope have alternated with tragic tales of loss.

Rains accompanying the storm have added to the tragedy by causing heavy flooding throughout the state. Episcopal Life Online reports on a May 7 letter from Bishop Dean E. Wolfe of Kansas:

...more than 90 percent of the town had been destroyed, and victims and survivors were still being discovered. He offered prayers for those who have lost loved ones.

Wolfe noted that Kansas state has also been affected by widespread flooding in the aftermath of these tremendous storms. "Many are finding themselves displaced by these floods, and we anticipate damages in the aftermath of this flooding to be substantial," he said.


The Kansas diocesan office and conference center have flooded basements due to heavy rains, Wolfe reported in his letter. "The diocesan office had three inches of water that damaged records and other stored items. The Bethany Place Conference Center has 16 inches of standing water, and we are told the boiler and water heater will need to be replaced. We are quick to realize how fortunate we have been in comparison to the losses sustained by others."

The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas is working closely with ERD and the Episcopal Diocese of Western Kansas to coordinate an effective response to this situation, Wolfe said. "We are people who believe thoughts and prayer must be accompanied by resources and action when neighbors are in need. We join with our brothers and sisters in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Kansas to offer whatever help we can, and we stand together as Kansans in this time of need."

The article goes on to note that contributions for local needs and to assist ERD in responding to the needs of victims throughout the state can be made to:

The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas
Tornado and Flood Relief
835 SW Polk Street
Topeka, KS 66612

The complete article, including a link to Bishop Wolfe's letter, is here.

What's in a translation?

In this article, author Diana Butler Bass explores how her travels through faith have always been accompanied by the Bible—but, she notes, not always the same translation. Her essay relates a journey from her first, now dog-eared Revised Standard Version given to her in 1967, through more evangelical-friendly editions in the 70s, to an eye-opening moment in 1989 when the NRSV provided her with a fresh insight into Ephesians 5:21-22.

For more than a decade, I had struggled with that teaching in Ephesians -- only to discover that my struggles were not with Scripture. Rather, I was struggling with an interpretation of Scripture provided by the editors of the NIV.

I put that Bible away, never to trust it again. And I busied myself reading my new NRSV, often finding that difficult passages were clearer through its translation and notes. Reading the NRSV was like a reunion with an old friend, familiar but new. As an adult, my childhood Bible had come back to me, only better. We had a lot of catching up to do.

Read the essay at Episcopal Life Online.

Bridging a divide through ongoing dialogue

At a recent meeting of the Compass Rose Society at the Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota, Fla., the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon said that the Anglican Consultative Council is uniquely poised to be an instrument of reconciliation, according to an article in The Living Church:

Although the rhetoric was worrying, Canon Kearon said he was encouraged by the conversations underway “where people have been engaged in dialogue in a public way across what looked like an irreconcilable divide.”

The troubles facing the Anglican Communion are being experienced in most churches, he said. “We are working these issues out in public, and I am proud to be an Anglican because of that.”

Canon Kearon explained that “at the heart” of Anglicanism, “authority lies in the dioceses and parishes, not at the top.” That is where the “life of the church is and where mission and ministry happen.”

What holds the Communion together is the “figure of the Archbishop of Canterbury” as Anglicans across the globe are “not in communion with one another but with him.”

Kearon also said that there wasn't friction between him and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Read more about Canon Kearon's address here.

Panel of Reference Issues Review

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference met in the offices of the Anglican Communion Secretariat during the week beginning 30 April 2007. In its meeting, it reviewed its work so far and discussed how best to follow up the work that had already been undertaken. It has currently completed outstanding work on all the references made to it by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Panel also reviewed the Report which the Chairman, the Most Revd Dr Peter Carnley AO, had made to the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam in February, and authorised him to release an updated version. The Panel also set dates for future meetings in late 2007 and in 2008.

(Anglican Communion News Service, May 8)

The report, "Review of the Work of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Panel of Reference" is available here.

Some extracts follow.

About its mandate

The Panel of Reference has always had therefore a very limited primary brief – “to supervise the adequacy of pastoral provisions made by any churches” for a dissenting group within its diocesan or provincial life. When the Archbishop of Canterbury issued the mandate of the Panel in May 2005, he added to this brief, allowing that the Panel might be called upon to mediate in other situations, but specifically mandating the Panel to respond in two ways:

1. At my request, to enquire into, consider and report on situations drawn to my attention where there is serious dispute concerning the adequacy of schemes of delegated or extended episcopal oversight or other extraordinary arrangements which may be needed to provide for parishes which find it impossible in all conscience to accept the direct ministry of their own
diocesan bishop or for dioceses in dispute with their provincial authorities

2. With my consent to make recommendations to the Primates, dioceses and provincial and diocesan authorities concerned.

Its work so far
The Panel has now been operating for close to two years. In that time, it has received five references, of which three have remained within the Panel’s brief, and two were recalled by the Archbishop. All three reports have been published, and no further references from the Archbishop of Canterbury have yet been received.
Scope of its authority and its own boundaries of intervention
Given its very specific role, the purely advisory nature of the Panel’s work, and the difficult and sensitive material with which the Panel would have to deal, the Panel decided at its first meeting that it could not consider references whilst parties were engaged in other legal or disciplinary proceedings; the danger of trying to compete with, second-guess or even be used as a tool in legal processes being all too evident.
About the Florida case
In spite of the fact that the situation was subject to civil proceedings, the Panel decided to accept the Archbishop’s Reference and in late September 2006, two members of the Panel paid a visit to North Florida to meet the parties associated with the case.
The Panel published its report on 27 February 2007, recommending a form of extended episcopal ministry. Since then a civil action in relation to ownership of church property has been resolved in favour of the diocese, and the parish appears to have decided that it cannot in conscience continue in communion with the Diocese or The Episcopal Church.

The Panel of Reference is part of the Windsor Process. Its mandate, procedures, membership and reports are indexed here at the Anglican Communion Official Website.

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Sisk speaks on Akinola's "bold claim"

Michael Conlon, religion writer for Reuters, has a story recapping the recent exchange of letters between the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and Akinola's action to install Martyn Minns as Bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in the North America (formerly, Convocation of Nigerian Anglicans in the Americas).

Here are some new nuggets:

Akinola's action "seems to lay out a claim that he has a better sense than the Archbishop of Canterbury, and that's a bold claim," said Mark Sisk, the Episcopal Bishop of New York. Last week's events are more than just another tremor on an existing fault line, Sisk said in an interview, and what may be very significant is that the Archbishop of Canterbury tried to stop Akinola. His is "a new public voice in this and welcome from my prospective," Sisk said.
The conservative American Anglican Council called last week's development "a high point in North American Anglicanism."

"The energy and zeal of the Church of Nigeria have come to the U.S. ... and we pray that the result will be a re-strengthening of the historic, biblical Anglican faith in this nation after decades of accelerating moral and theological decline in the Episcopal Church," said Canon David Anderson, a leader of the group.

It's all here.

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A tale of three churches

Remember the Connecticut Six? It's now the Connecticut Five. One of the six is back in the fold. After some negotiation, another has agreed to a visit from the bishop. But tensions still run high. So reports Ed Stannard in The Bristol Press.

One town, two Episcopal churches

BRISTOL - The two Episcopal churches in this city are headed down different roads.

One, Trinity Church on Summer Street, is among five parishes in Connecticut at odds with Bishop Andrew E. Smith, especially since he voted in favor of V. Gene Robinson, a priest in an openly gay relationship, as bishop of New Hampshire.

The other, St. John's Church on Stafford Avenue, less than 3 miles from Trinity, once was in that group but, since its rector left and was then deposed by Smith, is again on good terms with the bishop and an active member of the diocese.

Third church in the tale
Trinity's stance in opposition to the bishop will be made all the more stark Saturday, when Deacon William Hesse is ordained a priest at Bishop Seabury Church in Groton by a conservative bishop from Pittsburgh.
Smith agreed to allow Scriven to ordain Hesse - the diocesan bishop's permission is required according to church law - if Gauss would allow Smith to make an official visitation, celebrate Communion and preach, which he will do in June.
St. John's is back in the fold
The last member of the Connecticut Six, the Rev. Mark Hansen of St. John's, was deposed, but both Smith and a new lay leader of that church agreed that that had little to do with disputes over the Bible and sex.

Hansen had taken a secular job in New York and left on sabbatical with no apparent plans to return, said David Desmarais, senior warden. "Bishop Smith stepped in for many reasons, and I can tell you, from my point of view, the least of which was the theology," he said.

Since then, St. John's has hired the Rev. Audrey Murdock as a part-time vicar, and some of the 50 people who left have returned, Desmarais said. "We at St. John's have been moving on quite nicely," he said. "Our numbers are not what they were, but they're respectable."

Find Stannard's complete article here.

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Immigration and Churches

Entering into a controversial political arena, some evangelical Christian leaders are beginning to paricipate in calls for immigration reform which has been a long time concern of The Episcopal Church and other mainline churches.
A new coalition of more than 100 largely evangelical Christian leaders and organizations asked Congress on Monday to pass bills to strengthen border controls but also give illegal immigrants ways to gain legal residency.
The New York Times' Neela Banerjee reports:

The announcement spotlights evangelical leaders’ increasingly visible efforts to push for what they say is a more humane policy in keeping with biblical injunctions to show compassion for their neighbors, the weak and the alien.

The new group, Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, includes members like the Mennonite Church U.S.A. and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which represents Latino evangelicals.

More NYTimes stories on immigration and churches HERE

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Building Block or Divisive Wedge?

Bp Minns declares that CANA, which is an missionary effort in North America of the Church of Nigeria, is a "building block" for a new Anglican Province in the US. An interview with Julia Duin on BBC Radio 4 reports that conservatives are divided on this strategy. Only 1 of a possible 10 bishops of the Anglican Communion Network and no representatives of American Mission in America (an older group and larger breakaway group) attended.

Listen to it all HERE

More on CANA from Comment is Free in The Guardian, UK.
Andrew Brown in The Guardian declares "the end of the communion." He writes:

The rest of the churches which once constituted the Anglican communion will now have to choose whether they want to belong to any international body at all, and if so, who will head it. Here it seems that Dr Williams may have played a subtle game, because Dr Akinola's ambition has repelled a great many of his potential supporters. The American, liberal line on homosexuality is not popular around the world; at one stage it seemed that 22 or more of the 38 Anglican primates would demand the Americans be expelled. But the more it became obvious that they would have to choose between being globally led by Dr Akinola or followed round the world by Dr Williams, the more popular the prospect of Dr William's non-leadership became.

The number of primates supporting Akinola has steadily diminished from 22 to about eight. Even among the American conservatives, it is only a minority who are prepared to join up with him and his new enterprise. Installing Bishop Minns may prove to be the moment when he decisively over-reaches himself.

Read it all HERE.

Bp Minns' sermon HERE.

Thanks to Thinking Anglicans.

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Duncan loses in court

The judge in Allegheny County ruled against The Right Rev. Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, May 8, in the matter of Calvary Episcopal Church vs. Duncan et al.

Lionel Deimel, Board Member of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh sends this report:

The judge ruled to deny the petition to dismiss the case by Duncan, et al., yesterday.

See the document HERE in pdf.

Other court documents can be found HERE.

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A grassroots look at the Draft Covenant

A grassroots group, the SR 72 Coalition of the Diocese of SW Florida, sponsored and hosted a discussion of the Draft Covenant for the Anglican Communion. The Diocesan web site article reports:

The discussion was conducted under the rules of "appreciative inquiry," a model that requires participants to use only positive statements and refrain from criticizing or debating others' ideas or comments. The goal of the meeting, said the Rev. Ted Copland of St. Boniface, was not to produce a formal response to the draft, but to help participants be more prepared to discuss it with their parishioners.

Most of the 90-minute meeting was spent analyzing the draft, section by section. Process notes of the meeting will be published on this website soon.

Before the discussion got under way, Bishop Coadjutor Dabney Smith reminded the group that the document before them was a draft. "It's not a done deal. It hasn't been approved by anybody," he said. Smith added that this was "an exciting time in the Anglican Communion. We have an opportunity to participate in something that can strengthen our identity." He said any angst produced by the draft covenant is premature. "Everybody take a breath," he suggested, "We have nothing to be afraid of."

SR 72 is a coalition of three churches along State Road 72 between Sarasota and Arcadia, bound together in 2003 for the mutual benefit and ministry of each church.

Re-electing Mark Lawrence

The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon had issued a letter to the clergy of South Carolina outlining the procedures to re-elect The Very Rev. Mark Lawrence as bishop of South Carolina. Lawrence failed to receive the proper consents from the Standing Committees of the other dioceses following his first election. Diocesan rules will have to be suspended in order to re-elect. The letter follows:

Dear Friends,

I have just come from a meeting of the Standing Committee where critical decisions were made toward the re-election of the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence as the XIV Bishop of South Carolina. The position of the Standing Committee was that there was an overwhelming consensus that 1) the Holy Spirit had spoken in the election of Fr. Lawrence; 2) that the Bishops and Standing Committees had intended to consent to the election even though technicalities had prevented it; 3) and that we carefully follow our own Canons in order to strongly support the election.

In order to follow our Canons, it is necessary to re-convene the Diocesan Convention of November 2006, which according to the minutes was recessed, not adjourned. This means that the delegates from the November 2006 Convention are still in place. The date for convening this Convention is June 9, 2007. At that Convention, it will be necessary to suspend Rule 21; because it would require an entirely new election process duplicating the process we used in the first election. Rule 22 gives us the authority to suspend the Rule 21 by a 2/3 vote. After its suspension, the Convention can then call for an Electing Convention. This would then require our congregations to elect new delegates for this Convention. The former Electing Convention cannot be re-convened. It was called for the purpose of electing a Bishop for the Diocese, and this work was done.

The re-convened convention of 2006 will also be asked to affirm the appointment of Wade Logan as Diocesan Chancellor as required by the Canons. Due to reasons of health, Mr. Eugene N. Zeigler has resigned as Chancellor of the Diocese. He will remain as Chancellor until the Convention approves a new Chancellor.

This Electing Convention will then be convened later in the summer of 2007 for the purpose of re-electing Fr. Lawrence. This date will be announced when the Electing Convention is created.

Following the election, the Standing Committee will implement an intensive effort to receive the consents during the 120 day period. Since a majority of Standing Committees intended to approve in the first election, the Standing Committee has a clear field in which to work.

This process will allow a consecration date to be set so that when consents are in, we may proceed to consecrate Fr. Mark Lawrence as the 14th Bishop of South Carolina.

Yours faithfully,

(The Rt. Rev.) Edward L. Salmon, Jr.
Bishop of South Carolina XIII

Read it HERE

Ecumenical Efforts for Middle East Peace

Twenty Episcopalians from around the country joined an ecumenical coalition in Washington, D.C., May 6-8 to press for sustained diplomatic engagement by the Bush Administration to bring a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and a negotiated resolution on the status of Jerusalem. Lucy Chumbley of Washington Windows reports:

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), a coalition of 22 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Catholic church bodies and organizations, held the conference for 150 attendees who participated in some 65 meetings with Members of Congress and key staff.

Before meeting with the law makers, the delegates worshiped together and attended "inside the beltway" briefings on related issues given by lobbyists, representatives of think tanks, academics and government officials.

A silent processional, broken only by the jingling of an incense censor, set a reflective tone for the opening prayer service at National City Christian Church, which included two songs of peace in Hebrew and Arabic, "Yerushalayim shel Zahav" and "Ya ar-Rub as-Salaami."

"These are real heart songs of Jerusalem," said Ann Staal, a CMEP board member representing the Reformed Church in America, who organized and led the service. "If you were to sing one of these on the streets of Jerusalem, I'm sure someone would join you."

Homilies were offered by Roman Catholic Bishop Denis Madden, auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore, Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Armenian Orthodox Church and the Episcopal Church's 25th Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold.

Lincoln D. Chaffee, an Episcopalian and former Republican U.S. Senator from Rhode Island was a keynote speaker for the event.

Read it all HERE at Episcopal Life Online.

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Zahl Resigns

The Very Rev. Paul F.M. Zahl resigns as Dean of Trinity Seminary due to personal reasons. The Living Church reports:

The Very Rev. Paul F.M. Zahl has notified the board of trustees of his intention to resign as dean of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pa. An announcement from the seminary is expected soon.

According to two independent sources, the decision was a personal one and came as a surprise to the board, which is meeting this week for its regularly scheduled spring convocation. The sources declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak on behalf of the seminary.

Read it all HERE

UPDATE: from TitusOneNine

The Rev. Canon David H. Roseberry, Chairman of the Board, said “It is our commitment to continue our task of forming leaders for mission. The Anglican World looks to Trinity and we have an essential mission at a critical time in history. We love Paul and we are very thankful for the contribution he has made to Trinity. We wish God’s blessing and best for him and Mary and their family.”
A refresher on Zahl's rhetoric:
  • March 22, 2007: "It is time for all of us [to] give up, and give up unconditionally. "
  • May 4, 2006: he likened the possible election of a gay bishop to "a terrorist bomb, which is timed to destroy a peace process."
  • May 10, 2006: he describes those with whom he is in theological disagreement as "Brown shirts" and warns against "this menace over our heads, which is the gay-agenda steamroller."

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ABC's Building Bridges Conference Cancelled

The Archbishop of Canterbury's important Building Bridges conference has been cancelled at the last minute by the Malaysian government. Abp. Williams has called together several previous conferences to promote Muslim-Christian dialogue. The Malaysian Council of Churches is asking the government for reconsideration of the decision.

Ruth Gledhill, religious correspondent for the The Times, UK. reports:

Christian and Muslim scholars from around the world had bought air tickets, written papers and begun to pack their bags for the Building Bridges conference, the sixth in a series intended to foster dialogue between the two religions. It was cancelled with just two weeks notice.

The three-day conference was set up in the wake of September 11 and meant to be an annual get-together of Christian and Muslim academics in an attempt to find theological understandings that might help prevent future terrorist attacks.

At the first conference, at Lambeth Palace in London six years ago, Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, fêted Tony Blair. In return, the Prime Minister invited the Muslim and Christian scholars to a high-profile reception at Downing Street.

Since then the scholars have met in New York, Qatar and Sarajevo. This year’s seminar in Malaysia was to signal a breakthrough in Muslim-Christian relations in a region where they are particularly delicate.

Read the article HERE. Gledhill has more at her blog.

Ecumenical News International is reporting:

The Council of Churches of Malaysia has appealed to the country's government to reconsider a decision to withdraw support for a Christian-Muslim seminar that was to have been chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

More from Episcopal News Service

UPDATE, 15 May: Malaysian churches ask government to reschedule conference.

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Seeking Solutions in Communion

What is the "real problem" before the Anglican Communion as it seeks to move forward into the 21st century? The Rev. Tobias S. Haller, BSG, and The Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner of the Anglican Communion Institute, each reflect on the idea of Covenant, the solutions the covenant offers and the dangers inherent in it.

Tobias Haller in his essay Rearranging the Chairs critiques Radner's analysis in Vocation Deferred: The Necessary Challenge of Communion and offers another way to look at the Anglican Communion and our relationships.

Radner's essay postulates a systemic problem between "confessionalists" and "localists" with the Covenant becoming a "school for communion." This is why --

... the proposed Covenant is so important – if the Anglican Communion can survive long enough to articulate it and receive it. For with a clearer sense of its peculiar mission, Anglicanism now needs also a "rule" by which to order its formational existence, which stands at the heart of its vocation. In this sense the Covenant needs to be revised in a way that better expresses not only the vocation itself – communion in the Gospel and Body of Christ – but also the formational means by which obedience can mold the virtues of this missionary life.

Haller responds:
What I would suggest is that we do not in fact have a systemic problem, but a particular disagreement about a fairly narrow range of issues, most of them impinging on sexuality. The heated denials that it’s really about Scriptural authority can no longer be taken seriously: after folks saying the Windsor Process wasn’t really about sex and the Primates meetings weren’t about sex, ultimately the only concrete matters that get laid on the table at the end are about sex — oh, and boundary crossings (but as the boundary crossers will assure us, it’s really about sex.)
Seeking a systemic solution for a particular problem is like the old, “The whole class will sit here until the one who stole the pencil comes forward.” I suppose it works, but it’s not very productive; especially when it turns out no one took the pencil — it just rolled under teacher’s desk.
At the same time it is no use pretending we aren’t in a difficult situation in the Anglican Communion. The seams are bursting, and there seems to be a kind of hastiness and ire in the air. So I’d like to offer for reflection something I wrote some decades ago about the renewal of religious communities. I mean, communities are communities — and renewal is renewal. What I’d like to suggest is that by an appeal to systemic change (rather than renewal) the Anglican Communion is in breakdown mode.

Read Haller's suggestions HERE

And Radner's complete essay HERE

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Anglicans Should Do The Right Thing

A cradle Anglican from Canada writes on the church and its message for those looking for a place to worship and finding a spiritual home:

"Traditional churches like the Anglican Church can't afford not to
change with the times. Lots of people my age and younger aren't cradle
Anglicans or cradle Baptists, or what have you. Even if they are, they
join their unaffiliated peers and go church-shopping, comparing
different service and churches until they find one where they fill (sic)
fulfilled and comfortable. Does the Anglican Church really want to
start turning people away because it's hung up on tradition and rules?

But that's really a practical concern. More pressing is the question
Cruikshank posed rhetorically: Do we want to treat people as human or
sub-human? "

These are the feelings of Gen-x and y folks trying to win their peers back to a church where they can find a place with God that isn't going to bash them over the head with dogma, sola scriptura or the gospel of selfishness.

Read it all HERE

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No throwing anyone under the bus!

News from the clergy conference in the Diocese of Los Angeles: The Rev. Michael Battle, current dean for academic affairs at Virginia Theological Seminary will become the Provost for the Cathedral Center.

The Rev.Susan Russell of All Saints, Pasadena reports that a Q and A on "what happens next with the Communion" was part of the dialogue and -- "at least for our four bishops -- there is not an ounce of interest in doing anything other than staying the course set in Camp Allen and moving the church forward without, as +Jon put it in his own inimitable style, "throwing anybody under the bus."

Other news: Bp. Chet Talton is getting married at the end of the month.

Read it all HERE.

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Ndungane questions course of Communion

The Primate of the Anglican Church of South Africa delivered a long and thorough address at St. Saviours Church this past Tuesday. [UPDATE: 15 May - today the address was posted here by the Anglican Communion New Service under the title "The Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane Speech at Bishop's Forum - in Cape Town."]

In his address, the Archbishop shares his concerns about the present state of the Anglican Communion, how the Church of South Africa came to be a part of the Communion and talks about the present roles of the "Instruments of Unity" as described by the Windsor Report. He speaks about what future course the Anglican Communion might take, both in terms of the roles of the Instruments of Unity and in terms of the relationships of the various provinces to each other.

Some of the most interesting points that he makes in his address are:

...the Lambeth Conference arose as a response to a messy situation. It was established with a less than satisfactory basis, to meet the particular agendas of particular participants at a particular time - and today we are left with the legacy of that fudge.

Nonetheless, these flexible, and at times usefully ambiguous, understandings of the Communion have helped guide our worldwide relationship through over a century.

speaking of the 1998 Lambeth Conference:

...through not holding to the internal processes of this Instrument of Unity [the Lambeth Conference], we have undermined, and so lost our grip, on the assumptions of unity in communion that underlie our common life.

and of the proposed Anglican Covenant:

I will be honest and say that beyond my continuing question of whether a Covenant is really the best way ahead, my serious concern with the current draft is that the ACC is being sidelined, and far too much power is being given to the Primates' Meeting.

I fear we are in danger of setting up something akin to the Roman Curia - and I am especially worried that the Primates, gifted and blessed and called as they are in so many ways, are nonetheless so unrepresentative of the totality of the Body of Christ. Even the representative breadth of the Lambeth Conference is questionable.

The full address can be found below.

Read more »

Suit filed in Colorado Springs

The Diocese of Colorado has taken legal action to regain control of the property of the parish of Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church. The vestry of the parish recently decided to follow their priest, The Rev. Don Armstrong and leave the Episcopal Church to become affiliated with CANA

From the news report in the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Saying it owns Grace Church and St Stephen’s Parish, the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado asked a judge to evict the breakaway congregation worshipping there.

The diocese filed an answer and counterclaim in 4th Judicial District Court on Thursday asking for possession of the church building on north Tejon Street.

It also asked the court to declare that because the breakaway leadership has renounced its affiliation with the Episcopal denomination, they have no claim to the property, worth an estimated $17 million.

The counterclaim says the group worshipping in the church, which voted to secede from the Episcopal Church in March, has no legal right to the building, which was held in trust for the diocese.

“It is a shame that a small, misguided group has forced this litigation by illegally taking possession of the church property,” diocesan Chancellor Lawrence Hitt said in a statement. “This litigation is not about theology or differences of opinion in the church, it is an effort by that breakaway group to distract attention from the very serious charges of theft and misconduct against (the Rev. Donald) Armstrong.”

The full article is HERE

There's more local and detailed information in a post on the "Faith at Altitude Blog" along with this bit of news;

Another interesting revelation was that, at least according to the presentment, Grace's longtime chancellor Derry Adams advised Grace's vestry back on Dec. 8, 2006, that the parish and its vestry was under the authority of the diocese and the Episcopal Church and that the property was the diocese's.
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Show me the way

By Melodie Woerman
Editor, The Harvest

You know it, but you can hardly believe it. The guy playing bass guitar, right in front of your eyes, in church, is a rock star, a real one, with the platinum albums to prove it.

Stan Sheldon played on the 1976 iconic “Frampton Comes Alive!” album that sold more than six million copies, and he recently reconnected with his old colleague Peter Frampton on a new album that won a Grammy.

He’s toured the world with Frampton and Warren Zevon and has added his bass beat to recordings with famous artists for more than 30 years.

So why would he spend his Sunday mornings playing for about three dozen people at a contemporary service at St. Margaret’s in Lawrence?

Because it’s music. Because he loves to play.

Read it all.

Face to face with homelessness

The challenge is how to make the issue of homeless seem like more than an abstraction to kids who go to school in a wealthy suburb. The answer is to involve them, through service learning in the lives of the homeless and the people who work with them. Samaritan Ministries of Greater Washington and St. Andrew's Episcopal School show the way. Read the interviews starting on pages 1 and six of this pdf of In Step magazine.

Out of Grace: Of shredders, emails, deeds, and precedent

The Rocky Mountain News is reporting "as the Episcopal Diocese (of Colorado) closed in on alleged financial wrongdoings, the Rev. Don Armstrong was shredding documents and records so furiously that a shredding machine broke down (pdf), according to a countersuit filed Thursday."

The paper's report provides further insight into the competing claims the diocese and the secessionist congregation over the Grace and St. Stephens property:

The Armstrong camp argues that it’s free to join CANA because the parish is a separate non-profit corporation founded 14 years before the Episcopal Diocese. Also, it has held its own title to the property since the land was donated to the church in the 1870s by Colorado Springs founder, General William Palmer.

They regard it as relevant that the parish is incorporated under name which doesn’t include the word "Episcopal."

In its counterclaim, the Episcopal Diocese said that the parish and the congregation used the name Episcopal regularly over the years, dating back to the mid-1800s when the first Episcopalian settlers came to Colorado.

What’s more, the diocese maintains that while a local parish corporation may hold the title to the property,the parish’s purpose has always remained constant — to further the mission of the diocese and the Episcopal Church, said the diocese's attorney, Martin Nussbaum.

"This is absolutely settled law in Colorado," Nussbaum said.

The diocese is citing a 1986 Colorado Supreme Court decision which said an Episcopal parish in Denver had to return its property to the diocese. The parish, St. Mary's, tried to keep its property after it broke away from the Episcopal Church in the 1970s after it voted to ordain women.

The paper also reports on "aggressive emails":

The diocese quotes from a purported March 26 e-mail from Armstrong to vestry head Jon Wroblewski as they were preparing to break away. Referring to Episcopal Bishop Rob O’Neill, the e-mail said: "He has no army and no keys and no authority — possession is 9/10s of the law and I have the microphone."

Wroblewski sent the e-mail on to other vestry members adding his own message: "Prepare for battle. Ramming speed." Wroblewski acknowledged his e-mail today.

At the time Armstrong was not to be in communication with the congregation pending the diocese's review of allegations of financial wrongdoing.

The entire Rocky Mountain News article is available here. There's more at Faith at Altitude.

UPDATE: The motion for summary judgment filed by the diocese on Thursday is here (pdf). One extract:

Colorado law requires the Court to determine the ownership and control of church property by applying the "neutral principles" methodology described in The Bishop and Diocese of Colorado v. Mote, 716 P.2d 85, 103 (Colo. 1986). Mote held that when a faction within an Episcopal parish seeks to secede from the Episcopal Church and attach, instead, to another denomination in the Anglican tradition, the property is held in trust not for the local church but for the general church. See also Church of God of Madison v. Noel, 318 S.E.2d 920, 924 (W. Va. 1984 (secessionist "members have every right to withdraw from doctrinal unity and membership with the general church, but they cannot take general church property with them").

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New bishop for Seattle

The Rev. Dr. Gregory Rickel was elected today to be the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia in western Washington. Rickel, 43, rector of St. James' Episcopal Church, Austin, Texas, was elected on the third ballot from a slate of five nominees. Episcopal News Service has the story.

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Faith groups pursue federal "earmarks"

From today's New York Times:

"Religious organizations have long competed for federal contracts to provide social services, and they have tried to influence Congress on matters of moral and social policy — indeed, most major denominations have a presence in Washington to monitor such legislation. But an analysis of federal records shows that some religious organizations are also hiring professional lobbyists to pursue the narrowly tailored individual appropriations known as earmarks.

A New York Times analysis shows that the number of earmarks for religious organizations, while small compared with the overall number, have increased sharply in recent years. From 1989 to January 2007, Congress approved almost 900 earmarks for religious groups, totaling more than $318 million, with more than half of them granted in the Congressional session that included the 2004 presidential election. By contrast, the same analysis showed fewer than 60 earmarks for faith-based groups in the Congressional session that covered 1997 and 1998."

The article continues: “Earmarks are bad public policy,” said Maureen Shea, director of the Episcopal Office of Government Relations in Washington. “If earmarks are not in the public interest, I would wonder why the faith community would be involved in them. It would hurt our credibility.”

Read it all.

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A slow advance

By Winnie Varghese

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the Letter from Birmingham Jail (published in The Christian Century in 1963) as a response to a letter from Alabama clergymen, Christian and Jewish, titled A Call for Unity.

A Call for Unity decried the intrusion of so many black activists into their peaceful city to stir up trouble. These activists were marching for the rights of black people to equal access to public facilities and full protection under the law. The response was that the law blasted them with fire hoses, beat them and jailed them. It was a different time and place, and a movement most of us have come to agree was of God and significant in expanding the definitions of a person guaranteed rights by the founding documents of this country and advancing the experience of God's justice and peace in this nation.

Our House of Bishops was clear in its response to the primates' communiqué that an alternative primate is not allowable under our polity. We, as a church, now have a summer season in which to consider, again, moratoria on same-sex blessings and openly gay bishops. We've already imposed moratoria through General Convention 2009 on the consent to openly gay bishops, but we have declined to act on same-sex blessings, leaving such blessings unsanctioned but not illegal.

Can we further disallow something not allowed?

Read it all in Episcopal Life Online.

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1944: The first female Anglican priest

Christina Rees, a member of the Church of England general synod and the archbishops' council, writing in The Guardian:

Florence Nightingale longed to minister in the Church of England, but was spurned because of her sex; however, Florence Li Tim-Oi was to become the first female Anglican priest.

On January 25 1944, in the midst of war-torn China, the then bishop of Hong Kong, an Englishman named RO Hall, ordained Tim-Oi "a priest in the Church of God". He was censured for his action by fellow bishops, and, to defuse controversy, Li Tim-Oi surrendered her priest's licence - but not her holy orders. She later resumed the practice of her priesthood in China and then in Canada.

After Li Tim-Oi died in 1992, her sister established a foundation in her honour that gives grants for training Anglican women in the developing world.
The Li Tim-Oi Foundation has just been relaunched as It Takes One Woman (

Perhaps this centenary year of Li Tim-Oi's birth is a good time for the Anglican communion to speak out with one voice against traditions and practices that harm and discriminate against women and to affirm the ministry of women to all orders: deacon, priest and bishop.

Read it all.

See also this profile of Li Tim-Oi's ministry at Episcopal Life Online.
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Worksheet for Draft Covenant Study Guide

ADDED May 16: "“Evaluating the Draft Covenant” contains the Study Guide from the Executive Council, the Covenant Design Group report with the draft covenant itself, the Windsor Report with its own covenant draft, and background materials like the “Historical Documents of the Church” section of the prayer book. “Evaluating the Draft Covenant” makes all the documents people are most likely to want to examine when responding to the Study Guide, including a few obscure ones and two items not available elsewhere. One of these is a compilation of all the scripture cited in the covenant draft."

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh has posted a worksheet as an aid to members of the Episcopal Church who are working their way through the Study Guide published by the sub-committee of Executive Council

Episcopalians intending to answer the 14 questions about the draft Anglican covenant posed in the Executive Council’s Study Guide have a difficult task ahead, even aside from the fast-approaching June 4 deadline for submissions. Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh (PEP) hopes to make the task less burdensome by making available a Microsoft Word worksheet to help Episcopalians capture their thoughts.

The worksheet, which can be used by all but the oldest versions of Microsoft’s word processing software, provides a place for a person to enter his or her name, address, parish, etc. It then lists all 14 questions and provides places for answers to be filled in. Having all the questions together—the questions are separated by discussion in the Study Guide—helps the reader organize what he or she intends to say. Most people will want to use the worksheet as a Word form, which allows the user to move from one answer to another without worry about inadvertently changing the questions or the format of the document.

The folks at PEP are encouraging all interested parties who have not yet done so, to use the worksheet and send the result on to the General Convention Secretary prior to the deadline mentioned above.

The worksheets and instructions for their use can be found at Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh: Worksheet for Draft Covenant Study Guide
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Growing Christianity in South Reno

Pooling the resources of former missionary dioceses, neighboring congregations, and the Diocese of Nevada, a new congregation called St. Catherine of Siena has formed under the leadership of the Rev. Laurie Chapelle and several lay people in suburban South Reno.

Described as “evangelism on a shoestring,” the effort reveals a corporate approach to mission with laity “on loan” from nearby parishes to help with leadership and to build up the congregation, the mission has been in existence since Lent. The area is a fast growing area with 35,000 residents, 43% of whom have no church background whatsoever and of those 65% say they would prefer, were they to be in a church, a traditional-type experience.

A story in Episcopal Life On-Line by Pat McCaughan tells of their work.

[A] tri-parish coalition contributed financially and provided secretarial support as well as St. Paul's treasurer Dick Stufflebeam, who helped write a grant proposal to the Domestic Missionary Partnership (DMP).

The DMP is a group of former mission dioceses which receives yearly funding from the churchwide budget in support of mission projects. The dioceses -- Alaska, Eastern Oregon, Eau Claire, El Camino Real, Idaho, Mississippi, Navajoland, Nevada, North Dakota, Utah, and Western Kansas -- pool the funds and redistribute them as grants to support missions like St. Catherine's.

Chappelle found worship space for a nominal monthly rental fee at the chapel at Bishop Montague Roman Catholic High School and February 4 was the target start-up date.
"We did what they call in retail, a soft opening, using word of mouth, newsletter articles and had 102 people at the first service," she said. "We realized that a lot of people were there who probably wouldn't be with us every week, but it was a lovely show of support for us."

"It was an interesting opportunity to help grow Christianity, so I volunteered to go," recalls Barsalou, 48, a St. Paul's vestry member. "I'm one of those people who likes to fill gaps. My son Denis said he wanted to lead, instead of to follow. For me, it was getting a chance to help people realize, you can do this."

St. Catherine's offers an 11 a.m. traditional Rite II Eucharist on Sundays without prayer books because they couldn't afford them and "there's no place for us to store them," Chappelle said. Everything necessary for worship is contained in the bulletin. "There's no Episcopal gymnastics, no book juggling and we're using recycled paper and are recycling the bulletin in an attempt to at least reduce the impact," Chappelle said. The service is preceded by 10 a.m. adult and youth Christian education.

Attendance averages 50 to 60 weekly, enough that Chappelle is considering creating a stewardship team. Eventually, St. Catherine's will transition from worshipping community to parish status and create its own vestry.

Episcopal Life OnLine: New Reno Church Taps the Unchurched.
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Leaks About Lambeth

An unconfirmed leak published today on the internet suggests that when invitations go out later this year for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, all Bishops in the Anglican Communion will be invited.

Ruth Gledhill, who writes "Articles of Faith" for Times OnLine wrote "a well-informed source who indicated to me a few weeks back that everyone, including Gene Robinson and those who consecrated him, was to be invited. "

The Lambeth Conference Official Website says on its FAQ page only that invitations will be mailed later in 2007, and "Those attending the Lambeth Conference are bishops and archbishops of the Anglican Communion, and those in communion with the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury invites the participants to the conference." No other criteria is spelled out.

Much of Gledhill's blog is devoted to strange speculations about another possible invitation, and that is whether or not Mark Andrew, Bishop Gene Robinson's partner, would be invited as well. How this speculation is written, and the pictures chosen to accompany the post, seem to be intended to stir up outrage from those quarters who would wish for Bishop Robinson, if not the rest of the Episcopal Church, to be excluded from the conference.

At the same time, if Ms. Gledhill's "deep purple" (as she calls it) source is correct, this would prove to be a significant development.

Somewhere Near You

The Episcopal News Service has posted a PDF version of a display ad that was placed on the op-ed page of May 12 editions of The New York Times. The ad marked the beginnings, 400 years ago, of the Jamestown Colony and connects that mission with the Episcopal Church's mission in North America today.

Somewhere near you, there’s a blue-and-white sign bearing the familiar slogan: The Episcopal Church Welcomes You. It represents some 7,400 congregations that trace their beginnings in North America to small but hopeful group of English Christians who arrived May 14, 1607 at a place they called Jamestown — the first permanent English settlement in the New World.

See it here.

Jesus and the Farm Bill

Jesus came from farming country in the northern part of Palestine. The land is fertile and crops grow well there. I remember sitting on a hillside once looking down on some farmland up in the Galilee, and thinking how much it looked like some parts of the Midwest! And, while we think Jesus grew up in a town, perhaps not far from the “big city” of Sepphoris, he would have been surrounded by farmers and farm land.

That undoubtedly accounts for the frequency of agricultural images he uses – such as those in today’s Gospel – about scattering seed (“broadcasting” as it is known) and about the mystery of life and growth which all good farmers understand. Farming is not all about technique and expertise. A lot of it depends on geography and on the cycles of weather – God’s grace…or Providence…or good luck (depending on your theology!)

- From the blog "ecubishop" Bishop Christopher Epting, Staff Officer for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations for the Episcopal Church.

Bishop Epting continues with how all of us can be involved with the feeding of the nation and the world:

But we can be involved in agriculture. Even here in the city. And we can make a difference. Our church is trying to make a difference. According to a recent ENS press release: “As Congress begins the work of reauthorizing the US farm bill, more than a dozen Churches and faith based organizations, including the Episcopal Church, have come together…to urge major changes in US agricultural policy aimed at reducing hunger and poverty, and promoting the livelihood of farmers and rural communities in the US and around the world.”

“The ‘Religious Working Group on the Farm Bill’ which includes Christian denominations, major faith based organizations and the National Council of Churches…has developed a statement of legislative principles for farm bill reform.” According to those principles, the 2007 farm bill should:

*Increase investments that combat rural poverty and strengthen rural communities

*Strengthen and expand programs that reduce hunger and improve nutrition in the US

*Strengthen and increase investment in policies that promote conservation and good stewardship of the land

*Provide transitions for farmers to alternative forms of support that are more equitable and do not distort trade in ways that fuel hunger and poverty

*Protect the health and safety of farmworkers

*Expand research related to alternative, clean and renewable forms of energy

*Improve and expand international food aid in ways that encourage local food security.”

Read it all HERE.

To find out more on what you can do to support this legislation go to The Episcopal Public Policy Network, A Farm Bill to Feed our Nation and the World.

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Jerry Falwell dies at 73

We offer prayers for The Rev. Jerry Falwell, his family and friends. A Liberty University executive said The Rev. Falwell died today, Tuesday. He was 73.

Earlier, the executive said Falwell was hospitalized in "gravely serious" condition after being found unconscious in his office.

Ron Godwin, the executive vice president of Falwell's Liberty University, said Falwell was found unresponsive around 10:45 a.m. and taken to Lynchburg General Hospital. Godwin said he was not sure what caused the collapse, but "he has a history of heart challenges."

Read it all from AP on CNN HERE

More from the BBC HERE

The opinions of Orombi

Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda, a critic of the Episcopal Church, will be visiting the September meeting of the House of Bishops in his role as a member of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Primates Meeting. Recently he expressed a few opinions about sex and money to New Vision, a Ugandan Web site.

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Hiding in plain sight

Episcopal News Service--This is one of the most exciting times in history to be an Episcopalian and an Anglican, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said during a May 9 presentation to the Church Club of New York, a 120-year-old layperson's group.

"The Communion is moving, in what some people see as seismic kinds of ways, but it's moving. It's not a dead and dormant thing," she said to applause.

A multimedia presentation of the Presiding Bishop's speech is available here.

While many tell her she has a "challenging job," Jefferts Schori answered: "I don't think that's a bad thing. I think we are meant to be challenged in the varieties of work and ministry in which we are engaged. If we're not challenged, we're likely bored, and that's not healthy for anyone."

Read it all.

Anglicans rending at Oxford seminary

Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent for the Guardian writes:

The discontent at Wycliffe Hall, an evangelical Anglican college which is part of Oxford University, has seen several resignations among its small academic staff and claims that one of its most prominent members, the regular Thought for the Day contributor Elaine Storkey, was threatened with disciplinary action.

The college has been accused of becoming more theologically conservative, more hostile to women's ordination and more homophobic since the appointment of its principal, Richard Turnbull, a vicar from Basingstoke and a former accountant without senior academic managerial experience, two years ago.

Last night, the governing council announced it had launched an internal review and pledged support for Dr Turnbull.
It counts two current diocesan bishops, Tom Wright of Durham and James Jones of Liverpool, who now chairs the governing council, among alumni as well as the Rev Nicky Gumbel, vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton and founder of the Alpha Course.

According to its website, the college aims to be "an international centre of evangelical theology....

Read it all.
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Province of Uganda seeks financiers

New Vision reports:

Plans to build the Church House are on course despite the failure to meet fundraising targets.

Sources said the house of bishops opposed a proposal by Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi to abandon the project and sell the land....

[A]n estimated sh1.9b is required to start work on the 16-storey building.
The project coordinator, John Baguma, said the church was considering partnering with another investor to raise the sh20b [12m dollars].

Read it all here.

Bishops call for reasoned debate on Iraq

Over 100 Episcopal bishops, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and two former presiding bishops, the Rt. Revs. Frank Griswold and Edmond Browning have addressed a letter to Congress:

As Congress and the Administration consider the future of Iraq, we urge a careful and reasoned debate that avoids the partisan and harsh rhetoric that would diminish the important issues before our nation....[W]e encourage full and open discussion that acknowledges our mistakes as well as our responsibilities. ...

We believe it imperative that the United States now:

  • Map out a strategy for a responsible transition to Iraqi governance, making clear that we do not have long term interests in occupying Iraq
  • Join those in the region, including Syria and Iran, in seeking security and economic recovery for Iraq
  • Provide the women and men of our military and their families with the sustained and responsive care they need
  • Work for religious freedom and protection of religious minorities in Iraq
  • Serve the needs of Iraqi refugees wherever they may be
  • Seek peace in the region, including a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians
  • The letter is available here at Episcopal Line Online.

    Diocese of Virginia: Litigation Update

    Patrick Getlein, Secretary of the Diocese of Virginia, writing in the May Virginia Episcopalian gives a "Litigation Update":

    In each case the leadership of the formerly Episcopal congregations filed documents with their local courts in an attempt to take real property held in trust for the Diocese and the Episcopal Church.
    The Diocese petitioned the Virginia Supreme Court to have all these matters consolidated and transferred to Fairfax Circuit Court for pretrial motions and hearings on issues common to all cases and to gain procedural and cost efficiencies. Counsel for the separated congregations did not oppose this action, and filed a similar petition. A panel appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court approved the petition to consolidate and transfer the cases, which will take several weeks and possibly as long as a few months.

    See page 23 of the May issue available here (pdf). On the same page is an article on life in the continuing congregations. The May issue also has a feature on the Bishop Coadjutor-elect, Shannon Johnston.

    The Draft Covenant: Aids for study and comment

    PEP Offers “Evaluating the Draft Covenant” to help Episcopalians with the Draft Covenant Study Guide. More here.

    Bishop Henderson on Dar es Salaam

    Bishop Dorsey Henderson (Diocese of Upper South Carolina) is another of the growing number of blogging bishops. He's not given to pithy statements or short paragraphs, but his pastoral letter on the March meeting of the House of Bishops is worth a look even by an impatient world.

    Some extracts:

    It was the first House meeting over which ++Katharine Jefferts Schori has presided since her installation as Presiding Bishop. And she did just that—no more, no less. ... She pressed no agenda and did not take sides, which was not always true with her predecessors.
    Collegiality among the bishops seemed to me to be deeper and more authentic than usual. Although none of the Forward in Faith bishops (those who do not ordain women) was present, there was broad representation otherwise—conservative, moderate, and liberal.
    The Primates are only one of four Instruments of Unity in the Anglican Communion. The other three are the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Lambeth Conference, which includes all bishops of the Communion. The Anglican Consultative Council is probably my favorite because it is the only one of the four which includes in its membership representatives other than bishops and archbishops. Its makeup is more consistent with the American model of ministry and leadership in the Church in that it includes lay people as well as bishops, priests and deacons. All four instruments have their role, but none is primary, none is supreme. Accordingly, while the Primates may request that The Episcopal Church respond in a particular way and in accordance with a deadline, they do not have the authority to mandate either response or deadline. At Camp Allen, the Archbishop of Mexico was asked how he had experienced the Primates’ Meeting at Dar es Salaam. He responded that it was great—that although he arrived in Dar es Salaam as an archbishop, he departed as a “cardinal”! His point was clear. The Primates had assumed unto themselves authority which they have not heretofore possessed.
    Anglicanism is not only dear to me, but I believe it to be the clearest manifestation of authentic Christianity yet achieved. The Episcopal Church is dear to me—and I believe its development in the setting of the New World to be the clearest manifestation of authentic Anglicanism yet achieved. Neither is perfect. The Kingdom of God is not yet fully realized on earth. God is not finished with us yet! But that’s why we have the Holy Spirit, sent to lead us into all truth and to strengthen us as the Body of Christ for Christian living.
    It's all here.

    The same, only more so

    Update: the Diocese of Fort Worth's Standing Committee released a statement around 5 p. m. that does not nearly fit Ruth Gledhill's breathless description. ("Sensational news from the United States.") They have decided to move forward in the pursuit of Alternative Primatial Oversight. In other words, they plan to keep doing what they have been doing. (Link)

    Mark Harris is making a valiant effort to make sense of a recent letter from the Bishop of Pittsburgh, rumors from England's most erratic religion reporter about the Diocese of Fort Worth, and pleas from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Meanwhile we may be free to say something over on Daily Episcopalian in the next few days about the egregious op-ed former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson wrote in today's Washington Post. But to do so now, would jeopardize our chances of reaching a larger audience.

    Our partners make it big

    Having a bulletin insert devoted to your ministry is about the highest accolade the Episcopal Church can provide, so we are delighted to announce that the Episcopal Church and the Visual Arts is the subject of this week's insert, prepared by the staff at Church Center in New York. We're especially pleased because Mel Ahlborn, Brie Dodson and the gang were gracious enough to drop the Cafe's name and address.

    Friends in Honduras

    "You are transforming the world beginning in your own place," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told the people of Sangre de Toro, Honduras, an isolated mountain Gotas de Sangre community, praising their newly built houses as "a sacrament of the reality that God loves us, and of human dignity being restored."

    Read it all.

    Peter Akinola, statesman

    Peter Akinola, who pushed legislation in Nigeria that would have criminalized direct and indirect displays of same sex affection, in public and in private, is now speaking out against efforts to protect gay people against hate crimes in the United States.

    His statement brings to mind an op-ed column by Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Diocese of Washington, published in The Washington Post last February. In it, he wrote:

    Were Archbishop Akinola a solitary figure and Nigeria an isolated church, his support for institutionalized bigotry would be significant only within his own country. But the archbishop is perhaps the most powerful member of a global alliance of conservative bishops and theologians, generously supported by foundations and individual donors in the United States, who seek to dominate the Anglican Communion and expel those who oppose them, particularly the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. Failing that, the archbishop and his allies have talked of forming their own purified communion -- possibly with Archbishop Akinola at its head.

    Because the conflict over homosexuality is not unique to Anglicanism, civil libertarians in this country, and other people as well, should also be aware of the archbishop and his movement. Gifts from such wealthy donors as Howard Ahmanson Jr. and the Bradley, Coors and Scaife families, or their foundations, allow the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Democracy to sponsor so-called "renewal" movements that fight the inclusion of gays and lesbians within the Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches and in the United Church of Christ. Should the institute succeed in "renewing" these churches, what we see in Nigeria today may well be on the agenda of the Christian right tomorrow.

    (Emphasis added.)

    New leader for VTS

    The Board of Trustees of the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) announced that Dr. Ian Markham, dean of Hartford Seminary and professor of Theology and Ethics, will become 14th dean and president of VTS succeeding the Rev. Martha J. Horne, who is retiring after 13 years service with distinction as dean and president of the Alexandria-based seminary.

    Read it all.

    The Oslo Conference

    Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Diocese of Washington is on his way home from the two-day Oslo Conference on Religion, Democracy and Extremism. (He's in favor of the first two and against the third.)

    The Conference was convened on Tuesday by The Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights (OC) and The Foundation for Dialogue among Civilizations (FDC) in collaboration with the Club de Madrid (CdM) and sponsored by the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway.

    The Norway Post has a preliminary report. Former president of Iran Mohammad Khatami, co-chair of the conference, spoke to the press on Tuesday.

    Faith and the farm bill

    From the Episcopal Public Policy Network:

    Beginning next week, key congressional committees will begin drafting the 2007 U.S. farm bill. The bill affects every American – and most people around the world – in one way or another. US farmers and rural communities. have an important stake in the legislation, as do hungry people in our own country and people living in deadly poverty around the world. To learn more, click here.

    Reform of the current U.S. commodity-payment system would allow Congress to invest billions of dollars in farms and rural communities that need it most, and better support programs that fight hunger and poverty at home and around the world.


    During the week of May 27, when lawmakers are home in their districts for the Memorial Day recess, Episcopalians will be joining with other people of faith to visit their Senators and Representatives and share the message of farm-bill reform. The effort will include bishops, clergy, lay people, community organizers, farmers, and others who want to see a fair and just farm bill.

    If you have never set up a meeting with your member of congress, it’s easy to do – here are some simple instructions. Ask others in your congregation to join.

    Interested, but nervous you won’t know what to say? Register here, so that we can invite you to a special conference call that will walk through the important information.

    Together, we can help pass a 2007 farm bill that makes historic strides against hunger and poverty at home and around the world.

    To whom much is given...

    Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and four leaders of Protestant denominations wrote to the U. S. Congress May 10 to urge budget negotiators to preserve important investments in federal domestic and international programs that fight poverty and disease at home and around the globe.

    The letter was signed by Jefferts Schori and the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; the Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Bishop Beverly Shamana, President of the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society and the Rev. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ.

    The Church's Office of Government Relations has the story.

    Risky Worship

    The Church Times reports on efforts to reach young people:

    Holding short services, going to night clubs, and finding language that is appropriate for the 21st century are three of the many suggestions made in three new books about working with young people. The books have been published by the Church of England this week.

    They challenge Christians to take part in risky worship that could allow “tawdry youth culture” into the church, if young people are to feel at home in the pews.

    In the first book, Young People and Mission: A practical guide, Diana Greenfield of the Church Army, one of 12 contributors, writes about nightclub chaplaincy, a field she describes as “untapped”. She criticises churches for their lack of work in what she says some Christians call “dens of iniquity”.

    Other sections include a challenge to speak in contemporary rather than special Christian language, even at the risk of upsetting older members of the congregation, and to meet young people outside church premises, on their own territory.

    Read it here.

    Related, on our side of the Atlantic:

    On the Feast of the Ascension, the historic Church of the Ascension [Atlantic City] — now also known as Ascension on da Strip — installed the Rev. Timothy “Poppa T” Holder as its rector in a ceremony that was a combination of High Church, African-American gospel and hip-hop.

    Holder, a founding priest of HipHopEMass, most recently served in the South Bronx. The goal of the group is to use the language and music of the streets to bring young people to the church.

    “It is a venture in faith,” Bishop George Councell of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey said in introducing the new rector to the congregation.

    Read, also, Father Jake's wonderful account, High Church Hip Hop.

    Meanwhile, back in the UK, Church Times is also reporting on the strife at Wycliffe Hall seminary surrounding attitudes towards women:

    The complaints centre on the management style of the Principal, the Revd Dr Richard Turnbull, and his appointment of the Revd Simon Vibert as Vice-Principal. Mr Vibert had made public his belief that women should not teach men.

    He co-wrote, with the Revd Dr Mark Burkill and the Revd Dr David Peterson, a Latimer Trust paper that argued that a woman on her own should not teach men about faith or lead a congregation (Ministry Work Group Statement concerning the ministry of women in the Church today).

    Since Dr Turnbull was appointed in 2005, six full-time or part-time academic staff have resigned posts.
    The governing Council of the theological college, a permanent private hall of the University, is chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones. This week it said that it had embarked on a review of the college’s governance.

    Ethic of transparency catches on

    Father Jake reflects on the comment policy at Episcopal Café:

    I initially was uncomfortable with this policy, but after giving it some thought, I've come to see the wisdom in it.

    If our contributions to the conversation are to be of value, an ethic of transparency, of honesty, needs to be upheld.

    No, I'm not going to adopt this policy at Jake's place. As one who has used a nom de plume for many years, I understand the need some folks have to protect their privacy. However, I am encouraging those who are comfortable doing so to begin using their real names.

    To launch this effort towards more tranparency, it seems appropriate to begin with myself.

    Read Father Jake's self outing here.

    The bios of the contributors to the Café are here. Information on the sponsorship of the Café is here.

    The Café's comment policy is here.

    To register to comment , simply click on the word "comments" in gray type at the bottom of this, or any other individual blog entry.

    The PB speaks in Texas

    The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, addressed the graduates of the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest on Tuesday in Northwest Austin. After the commencement, Jefferts Schori, the first woman to lead the national church, sat down with an Austin American-Statesman reporter to talk about her denomination's challenges, including tensions within the 2.4 million-member American province and with Anglicans worldwide and her recent public row with Nigerian bishop Peter Akinola. Jefferts Schori, 53, also touched on her view of smart church growth and why this is the "most exciting time to be an Anglican in generations." She's most passionate about what her church is doing that doesn't make headlines: feeding the hungry, empowering the poor, educating children.

    Read the interview.

    Just because a chicken has wings...

    "Did you feel that? It was yet another gust of hot air emanating from the Diocese of Fort Worth.

    Yes, our Executive Council voted almost unanimously—apparently one rector dissented—to announce once again that they are mad at The Episcopal Church and are thinking about three ways to leave it. Sounds like a song title, doesn’t it?"

    Katie Sherrod is unimpressed. And her Texas-tinged maxims are much funnier than Dan Rather's used to be. You can put your boots in the oven, but...

    Read it all.

    Sins of unity

    Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times:

    I have a deep ambivalence about the word “community”. We talk a great deal about the pathologies of individualism, but not enough about the moral dangers of human togetherness.

    Last Saturday night, I walked into the wrong pub in the East End of Glasgow. Celtic had been playing at home. The pub was decked out in green. And I was inadvertently wearing a blue jumper. Had I thought about it, I’d have remembered that blue is the colour of Glasgow Rangers, and that, in this city, a blue jumper does not go unnoticed in a Roman Catholic pub.

    That’s an understatement: the moment I walked through the door, eyes swivelled to meet me like the guns on a destroyer. With my shaven head, I might well have been mistaken for someone looking for trouble. I also suspected that the polite explanation that I’m: (i) English; (ii) a Protestant minister; and (iii) support Chelsea wasn’t going to make my life any easier, either. So I left sharpish. In that pub, community felt like another word for sectarianism.

    Generally, the Church only ever sees the good in the idea of community. Yet, in the name of community, all manner of nastiness and bigotry is frequently excused. Precisely because we are so focused on the sins of the first person singular, our radar is insufficiently attuned to those committed in the first person plural. It’s a moral blind spot.

    Read it all.

    Disputing Gerson

    This letter appeared in today's issues of The Washington Post:

    In his May 16 op-ed column, "Missionaries in Northern Virginia," Michael Gerson did Christians in the developing world a disservice by assuming that leaders such as Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria have their best interests at heart.

    Mr. Gerson wrote: "A mother holding a child weak with AIDS or hot with malaria, or a family struggling to survive in an endless urban slum, does not need religious platitudes." Yet he failed to mention that Archbishop Akinola and others in his movement would deny that child food, medicine or a mosquito net if it were provided by a donor with whom they differ over theology.

    Children die, but the bishops retain their reputation for righteousness among their conservative supporters in the United States. This is an inversion of the Christian ethic. No longer do I sacrifice for others; they sacrifice for me.

    Mr. Gerson predicted that this brand of faith is about to sweep the country, but after four highly publicized years of trying, Archbishop Akinola has won the loyalty of only one-third of 1 percent of the parishes in the Episcopal Church, in part because his support for draconian anti-gay legislation in his country has alienated potential allies.

    The archbishop's grass-roots support is trifling, but he remains useful to high-profile cheerleaders such as Mr. Gerson who are willing to ignore his egregious views, and their effects on African Christians, in order to gain advantage in the American culture wars.


    Canon for Communications and Advancement

    Episcopal Diocese of Washington


    Thanks, USC

    The Diocese of Upper South Carolina is featuring the Café in its Web site spotlight. It's always nice to be noticed, but that much nicer when the people doing the noticing are Canon Peggy Hill and her assistant Bethany Human. The Diocece of USC generally needs a wheelbarrow to take home all the awards it receives at the Episcopal Communicators annual convention.

    Thanks, too, to the Diocese of Bethlehem and the Diocese of East Tennessee for featuring us on their homepages.

    A new generation

    The Diocese of Northwest Pennsylvania (Erie and its environs) has elected the Rev. Sean W. Rowe, 32, as its bishop. If confirmed, he will be, by far, the youngest bishop in the Church.

    Rowe, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Franklin, Pa., was elected on the first ballot. His election comes on the heels of the election last weekend of the Rev. Gregory Rickel, 43, as Bishop of Olympia in western Washington. With the Rt. Rev. Johncy Itty of Oregon, 44, they are the only bihsops in the Church below the age of 45.

    Read it all, and his biography, too, on page four of this pdf..

    A prisoner for the Lord

    I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.”

    - Ephesians 4

    The Ledger:

    While he was in prison, where he spent many hours ministering to inmates with AIDS, he had heard that Trinity was having its own crisis. It had lost dozens of members to the disease. Its surviving congregation was struggling.

    A few days after his release in 2006, Tramel said, he visited the church and immediately knew it was his destiny.

    Now the Rev. James Tramel's name is on the sign in front of the historic building. By a unanimous vote of the church's vestry and the approval of the bishop of the diocese, he became the church's rector late last year.

    "James is a living witness to the fact that there really is hope," said the Rev. Jim Richardson, an Episcopal priest in Sacramento, Calif., who is chaplain of the California Senate. Richardson and many others served as a powerful support system for Tramel while he was incarcerated.

    "He is proof that there can be redemption," Richardson said. "That a person really can turn his life around."

    Now Tramel is working to change the lives of others, and not only from the pulpit.
    Tramel, 39, who lives in Berkeley and commutes to his parish in San Francisco in a blue 1967 Volkswagen Beetle, said he remains in awe of his new life.

    "It's so hard to describe it," he said. "Just waking up in the middle of the night and seeing my son sleeping so peacefully is amazing. I know I have never done anything to deserve that kind of feeling."

    Yet Tramel and his loved ones are realistic about the challenges of his dramatically new life.

    "This isn't Cinderella," said Green. "One doesn't so easily begin to live happily ever after after so long in prison. There will be beautiful views, and there will be steep climbs."

    There is, for one, the ghost of Michael Stephenson.

    "The grief about what I did to Michael is something I have to live with every day."

    It's all here.

    Dissidents in Fort Worth

    The vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, Texas has issued the following statement (link):

    Vestry Response to Executive Council Action

    On Wednesday, May 16, 2007, the Executive Council of the Diocese of Ft. Worth met and adopted a statement from the Standing Committee concerning efforts to seek alternative primatial oversight. A copy of this statement is available on the Diocesan website.

    On Saturday, May 19, 2007, our vestry met to formally respond to this statement. Fourteen of the fifteen members were present. After brief discussion, the resolution below was accepted unanimously. Later in the day the fifteenth member of the vestry gave his acceptance of the resolution via email.

    Resolution of the Vestry - 05/19/07

    The Vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church wishes to express its profound disagreement with the actions of the Executive Council taken on May 16, 2007, concerning alternative primatial oversight.

    Trinity Episcopal Church, while affirming its place in the Diocese of Ft. Worth and in the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America, does not support any search for forming a new Anglican Province. Trinity Episcopal Church does not support transferring to another existing province of the Anglican Communion. Trinity Episcopal Church does not support seeking the status of an extra-provincial diocese. Trinity Episcopal Church affirms the place of the Diocese of Fort Worth in the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America.

    See, also, Barbi Click's analysis of life for dissidents in the Diocese of Fort Worth.

    While we're talking Texas, I thought you'd enjoy this: How Dallas became Gay-Friendly.

    Reflections on poverty and climate change

    We must see everything, and everyone, as interconnected and intended by God to live in relationship.

    Two of the most significant crises facing our world -- climate change and deadly poverty -- offer an example of such interconnectedness. By understanding how the two crises, and the people they affect, are connected, we can begin to understand how humanity can triumph over both. Extreme poverty -- that is, poverty that kills -- afflicts more than a billion of God's people around the world. Nearly 30,000 of these people will die today. That's 1 every 3 seconds. The factors that propel this kind of deadly poverty include hunger, diseases like AIDS and malaria, conflict, lack of access to education and basic inequality. Climate change threatens to make the picture even more deadly. As temperature changes increase the frequency and intensity of severe-weather events around the world, poor countries -- which often lack infrastructural needs like storm walls and water-storage facilities -- will divert previous resources away from fighting poverty in order to respond to disaster. Warmer climates will also increase the spread of diseases like malaria and tax the ability of poor countries to respond adequately. Perhaps most severely, changed rain patterns will increase the prevalence of drought in places like Africa, where only 4 percent of cropped land is irrigated, leaving populations without food and hamstrung in their ability to trade internationally to generate income.

    Conversely, just as climate change will exacerbate poverty, poverty also is hastening climate change.

    The author is Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. Read the entire essay here in today's San Francisco Chronicle.

    Of Oligarchs and Adhocracy

    Tobias Haller has writen a devastating dissection of the Draft Covenant.

    The Draft Covenant stresses accountability in its last section, but makes no clear statement as to the basis or the substance of that accountability, and only limns out a vague process for (apparently unconditioned) accountability to the Primates. As with the Windsor Report, it seems to be an "agreement not to disagree" with a poorly defined (and I would say at the least mischievous and the worst malicious) open-ended authority to ensure conformity with whatever happens to be the current "mind" of the larger body as determined by an oligarchy. That is not communion. It has nothing to do with communion. It is "communionism."

    Read it all.

    Convenent For or Contract On?

    Back in December the Church of England Evangelical Council (website) met with the Archbishop of Canterbury and presented him with a "Convenent for the Church of England."

    The Covenant is available in full here (rtf). Some extracts:

    At this time in the life of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, faced with a faulty view of revelation, false teaching and indiscipline, we believe that it is necessary to set out where we as orthodox Anglicans stand, and to invite others to join us.
    “Existing ecclesiastical legal boundaries should be seen as permeable”. This means there cannot be any no-go areas for gospel growth and church planting. .... We will support mission-shaped expressions of church through prayer, finance and personnel, even when official permission is unreasonably withheld.
    We can no longer be constrained by an over-centralised and increasingly ineffective control that is stifling the natural development of ministry. If the local Bishop unreasonably withholds authorisation, we will pay for, train and commission the ministers that are needed, and seek official Anglican recognition for them.
    Our congregations will seek actively to become self-sustaining when and where we can, to donate a reasonable yet modest amount to support the administrative centre, to be part of mutually accountable financial partnerships, and to give generously to gospel ministries, at home and abroad, that share the same values.
    We are aware of those who justifiably consider that their communion with their bishops is impaired, and will support and help them to find alternative oversight.
    A companion document (rtf) further states:
    We recognise that the fault-line running down through the Anglican Communion is also running through the Church of England.
    The Church of England in its central decision-making structures is largely in the hands of a liberal leadership.
    If Communion is finally broken by some with The Episcopal Church, there will be those in the Church of England who will continue publicly to express their strong support for TEC. This will put many parishes and clergy who are in their charge in impossible situations.
    In the current position world-wide we are already in a situation of unregulated indiscipline. Our aim is to help prevent the situation getting worse. However, extraordinary times call for out-of-the-ordinary actions to deal with them.
    Innovative, experimental, and even irregular [cross-boundary church plants], do not necessarily mean illegal.
    One of those who drafted the covenant is The Rev. Dr. Richard Turnbull, Chairman-Director of CEEC and principal of Wycliffe Hall. (See our recent related post.) He has recently stated, “I am not a member of any evangelical pressure group and never have been."

    Virginia Split Goes to Court Today

    In what promises to be the first of many such days, a court battle over church property begins today in Virginia. According to a report in the Washington Times, representatives of the Diocese of Virginia and the Anglican District of Virginia will face off before Fairfax County District Circuit Court Judge Randy I. Bellows.

    There are eleven congregations, their clergy and lay leaders named in the suit, not to mention the Bishop, Diocese and lay and ordained leaders named in the response. According to Robert W. Prichard, Kinsolving Professor of Christianity in America at the Virginia Theological Seminary, this is the largest lawsuit in terms of the number of individuals named and the fair market value of the properties involved in the history of the Episcopal Church.

    The departing congregations assert that, when they voted to leave the Episcopal Church, they were following the recommendations of a special commission that attempted to reconcile competing property claims within the boundaries of diocesan constitution and canons. The Chancellor of the Anglican District of Virginia, Mary McReynolds says that the Diocese made an about face alleging that they gave into pressure from the Episcopal Church headquarters.

    The diocese says that the commission report was received but not formally accepted by the Diocesan Council (convention) or standing committee. On November 16, 2006 Patrick Getlein, Secretary of the Diocese said, through a news release from the Diocese of Virginia, “There is no approved protocol.” The assessment was reiterated by Col. Jean D. Reed, president of the Standing Committee.

    Bishop Lee has said that the actions of the parishes including the votes to separate the congregations from the Diocese rendered the negotiations, including the proposals of the report, moot and necessitated the court actions. On January 18, 2007 he wrote that "the votes to separate from The Episcopal Church negated all the work we had done in good faith over the years to accommodate the views of the leadership of these churches and focused our attention on the only two remaining factors: the status of clergy and the status of property."

    One of complaints by the Anglican District against the Diocese of Virginia is that the 21 clergy who withdrew from the Episcopal Church to become clergy in the Church of Nigeria were subsequently inhibited by Bishop Lee and so cannot function within the Episcopal Church.

    In an op-ed piece published yesterday in the Richmond Times, James Oates, senior warden of the Truro Church CANA, and vice-chairman of the Anglican District, styles the fight in terms of religious freedom. “Whoever thought American citizens would have to fight for their own religious freedom against an American church in the land of religious freedom?” he wrote.

    In the January 18, 2007, letter to the Diocese, Bishop James L. Lee wrote “In the structure of the Episcopal Church, individuals may come and go but parishes continue.” He stated that the votes in the eleven churches “left remaining (the) Episcopal congregations in those places without vestries, without clergy and without their churches, whether the remaining congregations numbered one or 100 souls. The spiritual abandonment of their Episcopal brothers and sisters of the past, the present and the future, is perhaps the greatest offense for which there is no redress under our tradition.”

    According to the Washington Times report, Professor Prichard would not guess how these suits would turn out saying "I've got better sense than that.”

    Hatin' on Harry

    St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church in Bethesda, Md., is offering a vacation Bible School with a Harry Potter theme. Last night a banner advertising the camp was defaced by vandals, who spray-painted the words "Church endorsed witchcraft / That's irony." on it.

    I am counting on a certain influential members of the Church of Nigeria, whom I know loves Harry, to track these people down and talk sense to them.

    Making a dent in food bank donations

    Nationwide, food banks -- clearinghouses that distribute food donations to local charitable pantries and emergency shelters -- report receiving fewer donations in the form of imperfectly packaged canned and boxed edibles.

    It is the down side of a drive in recent years by manufacturers and retailers for greater supply-chain efficiency. Toward that end, many food manufacturers began producing food in quantities more closely tailored to individual retail customers' needs. That in turn has reduced the amount of food that gets sold to retailers and ultimately returned to the manufacturers.

    At the same time, new technology has helped eliminate production errors such as processing canned food without labels or producing an entire order of cereal boxes using upside-down text.

    So reports today's Wall Street Journal (subscribers only). More:
    In Phoenix, St. Mary's Food Bank is seeing about 15% fewer donations over the past year, says Executive Director Terry Shannon. St. Mary's, which bills itself as the world's first food bank, was established in 1967 by the late John van Hengel after talking with a poor woman who scavenged for dented canned food in grocery-store dumpsters. A creative character who dabbled in everything from advertising to driving beer trucks, he came up with the idea of having a central location for food-industry waste.

    The concept is workable as long as the waste proliferates. But retailers are finding new avenues to sell damaged goods. Some grocery stores are putting dented cans in discount bins rather than sending them to the local food bank. Others are selling product into the so-called gray market where brokers sell unsalable groceries to discount stores, flea markets or "banana box" grocery stores, shops that sell salvage food packaged in old banana boxes.

    Food banks of course are always happy to accept your cash donation, or your parish's steady cash donation.

    Invitations to Lambeth

    UPDATE (8:30am): (AP)

    Two bishops at the heart of the U.S. Episcopal Church's divisions over sexuality and scripture will not be invited to next year's global gathering of Anglican prelates, the archbishop of Canterbury's office said Tuesday. Bishops V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire and Martyn Minns of the breakaway Convocation of Anglicans in North America were not among more than 850 bishops invited, said Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary-general of the Anglican Communion. ... Robinson may be invited to attend the Lambeth Conference as a guest, but Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is not contemplating inviting Minns, Kearon said.


    Canon Kearon said the subject of whether to invite Bishop Robinson had "exercised" Dr Williams' mind for "quite some time."

    He said: "The primates in 2003 and in 2005 recognised that the bishop of New Hampshire had been duly elected and consecrated according to the proper procedures of the Episcopal Church and it was stated in 2005 at the primates meeting.

    "However, for the archbishop to simply give full recognition at this conference would be to ignore the very substantial and widespread objection in many parts of the communion to his consecration and to his ministry."
    Canon Kearon said Cana did not have recognition as one of the bodies of the Anglican Church and Bishop Minns had not been invited on those grounds.

    ACNS First invitations to 'reflective and learning-based' Lambeth Conference go out

    ACNS 4287 | ACO | 22 MAY 2007 [alternative source]

    First invitations to 'reflective and learning-based' Lambeth Conference go out

    Press Media Release

    From Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office, London
    The first invitations for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, to be held in Canterbury next summer, are being sent out today by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. The gathering, which is set to be the largest Lambeth Conference in the history of the Anglican Communion, brings together bishops from the Churches in the 38 Provinces of the Anglican Communion together with ecumenical and other invited guests.

    The 2008 Conference is intended to comprise nearly three weeks of shared retreat, common worship, study and discussion. It differs from previous gatherings in that the bishops will begin the conference with a period of retreat and reflection. It is planned that much of this retreat time will be held in and around Canterbury Cathedral.

    The first set of invitations are being sent today to over 800 bishops of the provinces of the Anglican Communion. In his letter of invitation the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, pays tribute to the Conference Design Group whose members, led by the Archbishop of Melanesia, have, with his full support, proposed a programme with an emphasis on fellowship, study, prayer, the sharing of experience and discussion, all aimed at equipping bishops for their distinctive apostolic ministry:

    "Their vision and their advice has been an inspiration at every stage so far. I am hugely excited by the possibilities the programme offers for a new and more effective style of meeting and learning, and for greater participation, which will help us grow together locally and internationally. ... it will also be an opportunity for all of us to strengthen our commitment to God's mission and to our common life as a Communion. In connection with this latter point, we shall be devoting some time to thinking about the proposals for an Anglican Covenant, and about other ways in which we can deepen our sense of a common calling for us as a coherent and effective global Church family."

    "The Conference is a place where experience of our living out of God's mission can be shared. It is a place where we may be renewed for effective ministry. And it is a place where we can try and get more clarity about the limits of our diversity and the means of deepening our Communion, so we can speak together with conviction and clarity to the world. It is an occasion in which the Archbishop of Canterbury exercises his privilege of calling his colleagues together, not to legislate but to discover and define something more about our common identity through prayer, listening to God's Word and shared reflection. It is an occasion to rediscover the reality of the Church itself as a worldwide community united by the call and grace of Christ."

    Mindful of the speculation that has surrounded the issuing of invitations to the Conference Dr Williams recalls that invitations are issued on a personal basis by the Archbishop of Canterbury and that "the Lambeth Conference has no 'constitution' or formal powers; it is not a formal Synod or Council of the Communion", and that invitation to the Conference has never been seen as "a certificate of doctrinal orthodoxy". Nevertheless Dr Williams recognises in his letter that under very exceptional circumstances an invitation may be withheld or withdrawn. Under this provision, there are a small number of bishops to whom invitations are not at this stage being extended whilst Dr Williams takes further advice.

    Other invitations - to ecumenical representatives and other invited guests - will be sent out in due course. Bishops' spouses are being invited to a parallel conference; invitations for this will be sent later in the year by Mrs Jane Williams, who is the host.


    The text of the Archbishop's invitation is below:
    'Dear Bishop,

    I am delighted to invite you to the Lambeth Conference of 2008 and I very much look forward to our gathering together as bishops of the Anglican Communion.

    The dates of the Conference are 16 July-4 August 2008 and I trust you will already have heard something of the vision for the Conference as it has been unfolding. It will focus on our equipping as bishops for leadership in mission and teaching, and it will also be an opportunity for all of us to strengthen our commitment to God's mission and to our common life as a Communion. In connection with this latter point, we shall be devoting some time to thinking about the proposals for an Anglican Covenant, and about other ways in which we can deepen our sense of a common calling for us as interdependent members of the body of Christ.

    This will be my third Lambeth Conference and I am very confident of the quality of the programme being developed for it. I want to offer my warm public thanks to all those from across the world who have worked so hard at planning this - especially the devoted Design Group under the Archbishop of Melanesia, those who attended the St Augustine's Seminar last year, and our Conference Manager, Sue Parks. Their vision and their advice has been an inspiration at every stage so far. I am hugely excited by the possibilities the programme offers for a new and more effective style of meeting and learning, and for greater participation, which will help us grow together locally and internationally.

    Because there has been quite a bit of speculation about invitations and the conditions that might be attached to them, I want to set out briefly what I think the Conference is and is not.

    The Conference is a place where our experience of living out God's mission can be shared. It is a place where we may be renewed for effective ministry. And it is a place where we can try and get more clarity about the limits of our diversity and the means of deepening our Communion, so we can speak together with conviction and clarity to the world. It is an occasion when the Archbishop of Canterbury exercises his privilege of calling his colleagues together, not to legislate but to discover and define something more about our common identity through prayer, listening to God's Word and shared reflection. It is an occasion to rediscover the reality of the Church itself as a worldwide community united by the call and grace of Christ.

    But the Lambeth Conference has no 'constitution' or formal powers; it is not a formal Synod or Council of the bishops of the Communion, which would require us to be absolutely clear about the standing of all the participants. An invitation to participate in the Conference has not in the past been a certificate of doctrinal orthodoxy. Coming to the Lambeth Conference does not commit you to accepting the position of others as necessarily a legitimate expression of Anglican doctrine and discipline, or to any action that would compromise your conscience or the integrity of your local church.

    At a time when our common identity seems less clear that it once did, the temptation is to move further away from each other into those circles where we only related to those who completely agree with us. But the depth and seriousness of the issues that face us require us to discuss as fully and freely as we can, and no other forum offers the same opportunities for all to hear and consider, in the context of a common waiting on the Holy Spirit.

    I have said, and repeat here, that coming to the Conference does not commit you to accepting every position held by other bishops as equally legitimate or true. But I hope it does commit us all to striving together for a more effective and coherent worldwide body, working for God's glory and Christ's Kingdom. The Instruments of Communion have offered for this purpose a set of resources and processes, focused on the Windsor Report and the Covenant proposals. My hope is that as we gather we can trust that your acceptance of the invitation carries a willingness to work with these tools to shape our future. I urge you all most strongly to strive during the intervening period to strengthen confidence and understanding between our provinces and not to undermine it.

    At this point, and with the recommendations of the Windsor Report particularly in mind, I have to reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion. Indeed there are currently one or two cases on which I am seeking further advice. I do not say this lightly, but I believe that we need to know as we meet that each participant recognises and honours the task set before us and that there is an adequate level of mutual trust between us about this. Such trust is a great deal harder to sustain if there are some involved who are generally seen as fundamentally compromising the efforts towards a credible and cohesive resolution.

    I look forward with enthusiasm to the Conference and hope you will be able to attend, or your successor in the event that you retire in the meantime. My wife Jane will be writing with an invitation to the Spouses Conference which will run in parallel to the Lambeth Conference. Further communication to bishops will follow soon from the Lambeth Conference Office, including details of the costs and a reply slip on which you can respond formally to this invitation. It would be a great help if these replies were received by 31 July 2007. In the meantime, should you have any queries about the Lambeth Conference itself, or if you will be retiring before the Conference, please contact the Lambeth Conference Manager at or consult the Lambeth Conference website

    I trust you and your diocese will join with me in praying for God's gracious blessing of our time together.

    Yours in Christ,

    Rowan CANTUAR:


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    Who's Invited to the Dance?

    Announcement was made today that the long awaited invitations to next year's Lambeth Conference have been sent out by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams and every one wants to know who is and who is not on the invitation list.

    Even though the Anglican Press Office and the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearnon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, emphasized that over 850 invitations have been sent to Anglican Bishops around the world for the three week conference to be held from July 16 through August 4, 2008, attention is focused on who would not be sent an invitation.

    Williams describes in a letter that accompanying the invitations what he would like this decades Lambeth Conference to be. The legislative and deliberative aspects of the Conference, which have been at the heart of the sexuality debates since the 1998 conference, are strongly de-emphasized. Instead, Williams envisions the conference to be a place “where our experience of living out God’s mission can be shared,” describing the time together as “an occasion when the Archbishop of Canterbury exercises his privilege of calling his colleagues together, not to legislate but to discover and define something more about our common identity through prayer, listening to God’s Word and shared reflection.”

    Williams also says that he hopes the Bishops will “try and get more clarity about the limits of our diversity and the means of deepening our Communion, so we can speak together with conviction and clarity to the world.”

    In a statement that might be seen as a rebuke to those who have insisted that only “orthodox” Bishops be invited, Williams says that an invitation, or the lack of one, is solely at the pleasure of the Archbishop, and is not “a certificate of doctrinal orthodoxy.” He urges all Bishops to understand the shared nature of the Church and reminds them that they would be fellowshipping with people who have different theological viewpoints. He told Bishops that coming to the conference would not “commit you to accepting the position of others as necessarily a legitimate expression of Anglican doctrine and discipline, or to any action that would compromise your conscience or the integrity of your local church.”

    Instead he urges the Bishops to come closer together in prayer, with a listening and respectful stance, when the nature of events in the Church and the world are tempting people to separate.

    While there has been much speculation in the Anglican blogosphere as to who is not invited and why, the Archbishop's letter stated the criteria this way: “I have to reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion.”

    According to Associated Press reports, Canon Kearnon says that neither the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, nor the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, Bishop of the Church of Nigeria's Anglican District of Virginia and Convocation of Anglicans in North America, would receive invitations. Beyond that, there are no other details as to whom invitations have been sent or from whom they have been withheld.

    While not invited as an official attendee, Williams may invite Robinson as a personal guest but Kearnon said that he is not contemplating inviting Minns at all.

    According to Kearnon, Williams recognizes Robinson as a duly elected, consecrated Bishop, but to give him full status as a participant would “ignore the very substantial and very widespread objections in many parts of the communion to his consecration and to his ministry."

    Kearnon said that Minns was not invited because CANA is not recognized as a part of the Anglican Communion and that this alone was the reason for his not being invited.

    Tutu speaks out

    Desmond Tutu, the acclaimed anti-apartheid leader and former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, is dealing with a relapse of the prostate cancer originally diagnosed in 1996 and in remission for some time. But he's not as interested in talking about his health as he is about what he feels is a more important concern.

    The Times of London reports on a recent conversation with the former archbishop:

    “What is sad to me is that we are investing so much time and energy in the subject of homosexuality at a time when the world is groaning from poverty, disease and corruption. God must be weeping.”

    Just as he opposed discrimination against people because of the colour of their skin or their gender, he said he opposes discrimination against gays.

    “I cannot have fought about the injustice of apartheid and keep quiet about the injustice of being being penalised for something about which they can do nothing, their sexual orientation,” he said.

    “I cannot have fought about the injustice of apartheid and keep quiet about the injustice of being being penalised for something about which they can do nothing, their sexual orientation,” he said.

    The Archbishop, who was today at a conference at Hull university speaking about emancipation and reconciliation, told The Times there were similarities between the conflict over gays and the issue of slavery in the past and present.

    “The parallels are that a certain group of people is dealt with differently from the generality; they are dealt with unjustly.”

    The Anglican Church had for generations taken pride in “comprehensiveness” as one of its defining features. “Comprehensiveness means you hold a point of view and you hold it in integrity, even when someone else holds a totally different point of view.”

    He said one of the happiest times of his life was when, as a young man, he served as a curate in St Mary’s, Bletchingley in 1966. He is thought to have been one of the first black curates in the Church of England.

    “We used to be able to say in the Anglican Church that, ‘I differ from you but we belong in the same family.’ What is different now is that there are people who say, ‘I differ from you and therefore we cannot subsist in the same communion.”

    Read the entire article here.

    A related summary was picked up by United Press International.

    Pittsburgh: No path forward without pain

    This past weekend, Bishop Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh told diocesan leaders that "we're here together to discuss our way forward in light of our failure to obtain Alternative Primatial Oversight," according to In other words, the diocese is admitting the path they have been pursuing will no longer work.

    The diocese could simply keep doing what it has been doing, remaining on the periphery of The Episcopal Church, but not attempting to reach a concluding moment in the conflict. It could submit to the will of the Episcopal Church in its majority, reversing the diocesan convention's actions over the last four years. It could attempt to separate as a diocese from The Episcopal Church, an option a number of Anglican Communion Network dioceses are considering. It could attempt to create space for conserving parishes to negotiate an exit from the diocese.

    Regardless of what option is ultimately adopted, the diocesan leadership was clear about several things. There is no path forward for the diocese that will not involve significant costs and pain. Staying with the Episcopal Church in the light of its rejection of mainstream Christianity will force members of the leadership, individuals and congregations to consider cutting their ties to the diocese. Separating from the structures of the Episcopal Church will force others to reevaluate their relationship with the diocese. Regardless of the choice, parishes and the diocese are likely to face financial challenges.

    "We are facing something that we never thought we would face. We thought we would prevail. We thought that what we believed and what the majority of the Communion believed would be provided for," said Bishop Duncan.

    The entire release is here.

    Reactions to Lambeth invites: a round-up

    Around the blogosphere and in news outlets around the world, reactions to today's announcement that Bishops Gene Robinson and Martyn Minns had not been invited to Lambeth has come fast and, at times, furious. Here are a few highlights.

    Responses by individuals:
    Robinson's statement:

    It is with great disappointment that I receive word from the Archbishop of Canterbury that I will not be included in the invitation list for the Lambeth Conference, 2008. At a time when the Anglican Communion is calling for a "listening process" on the issue of homosexuality, it makes no sense to exclude gay and lesbian people from that conversation. It is time that the Bishops of the Anglican Communion stop talking about gay and lesbian people and start talking with us.

    While I appreciate the acknowledgement that I am a duly elected and consecrated Bishop of the Church, the refusal to include me among all the other duly elected and consecrated Bishops of the Church is an affront to the entire Episcopal Church. This is not about Gene Robinson, nor the Diocese of New Hampshire. It is about the American Church and its relationship to the Communion. It is for The Episcopal Church to respond to this challenge, and in due time, I assume we will do so. In the meantime, I will pray for Archbishop Rowan and our beloved Anglican Communion.

    Akinola's statement, via TitusOneNine

    Since only the first set of invitations had been sent, it is premature to conclude who will be present or absent at the conference. However, the withholding of invitation to a Nigerian bishop, elected and consecrated by other Nigerian bishops will be viewed as withholding invitation to the entire House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria.

    Via Episcopal Life Online, we have comments from the presiding bishop and the House of Deputies president:

    Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori sent a short e-mail message to the House of Bishops urging "a calm approach to today's announcement regarding 2008 Lambeth Conference invitations, a subject on which I plan to make no formal statement at this time. It is possible that aspects of this matter may change in the next 14 months, and the House of Bishops' September meeting offers us a forum for further discussion."

    House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson also issued a short statement saying that "the Episcopal Church elects bishops and consents to the election of bishops in a democratic and participatory manner. The process is carried out within our Constitution and Canons, both at the General Convention and in our dioceses. The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson is a duly elected and consecrated bishop of this Church. Not inviting him to the Lambeth Conference causes serious concern to The Episcopal Church."

    Reactions by organizations:
    In Primates Choose Bigotry Over Baptism, Integrity USA president Susan Russell says:

    Integrity is outraged and appalled. This is not only a snub of Bishop Gene Robinson but an affront to the entire U.S. Episcopal Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury has allowed himself to be blackmailed by forces promoting bigotry and exclusion in the Anglican Communion. This action shows a disgraceful lack of leadership on Williams’ part.

    Integrity calls on all the bishops and the leadership of the Episcopal Church to think long and hard about whether they are willing to participate in the continued scapegoating of the gay and lesbian faithful as the price for going to the Lambeth Conference.

    Scott Gunn offers this in a release from InclusiveChurch UK:

    It is regrettable that a small number of bishops are not to be invited, but recognizing the painful fractures within the Communion we understand the need for generous sacrifice on all sides. We hope that in the spirit of such sacrifice the bishops who are not receiving invitations to the conference, including Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire, might be welcome as observers."

    Read the release here. Also, his initial comments on the matter are here.

    News stories, both religious and secular:
    Anglican Journal (Canada): Lambeth invitations exclude American gay bishop
    USA Today: Two bishops not invited to Anglican parley
    Time: Behind an Anglican Invite Snub
    The Living Church: No Lambeth invitation for Bishop Robinson
    Associated Press (via Guardian Unlimited): Gay Bishop Kept Out of Anglican Meeting

    From the blogs:
    Anglican Resistance: I would not go to Lambeth: Would you?

    Father Jake has his own round-ups here and here.

    Grandmere Mimi has insightful commentary on Robinson's reaction here. Her observation? The listening process seems to be more about talking than listening.

    Mark Harris muses, "Not inviting is shunning, pure and simple ... Robinson is a Bishop in The Episcopal Church and Minns a bishop in the Church of Nigeria. Some may not like the fact that Bishop Robinson is bishop of New Hampshire and some may think Bishop Minns does not have a legitimate appointment, but this is part of our peculiar time. Either invite them both or not. But not to invite them invites a worse madness." More of his comments here.

    Andrew Gerns notes reactions from the right and the left here, adding "My personal preference is that everyone, that is all Anglican bishops, should have been invited with the only comment being the description of the conference as non-synodical and non-legislative. The Archbishop's words about being together even with those who we disagree with would have had real force in that context."

    Greg Jones posits that this is an interesting development for those in the middle. "Maybe -- perhaps by the simple act of not inviting two people who have become lightning rods for the theological/cultural warfare which plagues our era -- Rowan Williams has managed to scare out the far left and far right? This is a provocative move on Williams' part -- and I'm not sure what to make of it. Part of me says -- 'Good.' But -- I'm often -- terribly -- wrong."

    Hat tip to Chuck Blanchard for these last two, and for his own post on the topic.

    Ruth Gledhill provides more evidence that really, no one is happy with this outcome. "Martin Reynolds at LGCM, formerly Rowan's neighbour in Wales, and a gay priest who has registered his civil partnership, is especially angry with his friend. This has not even pleased those on the other side. Anglican Mainstream accused Dr Williams of 'ecclesiastical correctness'. One senior source said that to single out Robinson was equivalent to arresting the drug user and letting the dealers off scot free. 'What about the consecrating bishops?' he said. 'What about Gregory Venables, and Peter Akinola? Would Jesus get invited to this meeting, as he was a cause of division? This will turn Gene Robinson into the victim, whereas the quarrel is with The Episcopal Church who consecrated him.'" She also provides additional round-up. (HT to Ann.)

    [Final: filed 9:22 p.m. EDT]

    We're no stranger to controversy

    From Episcopal Life Online:

    House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson told a gathering of Episcopalians in Denver May 20 that Christianity has always been embroiled in controversy and that, while the Episcopal Church is no different, it "has the Good News of reconciliation to bring to this world and we are doing that in amazing ways."

    "We walk along God's tightrope balancing our great value for diversity with our desire to speak with one voice," Anderson told the Martyn Hart Legacy Society.

    Of particular note are her comments on Sunday's Epistle while preaching at St. John's Cathedral in Denver:

    Noting that the Epistle reading that day included the Bible's last words, Anderson said, "People of faith have good reason to pay attention to last words. In them we find the distilled essence of the message, we find the truth."

    In the case of the last words of the Revelation to John, Anderson noted, the words form an invitation, "not of judgment or harsh words -- but of open invitation."

    "What is most important is the invitation," she said. "We are invited to God through Jesus. In turn, we are invited to invite others -- to share the story, the power, the transformation, the comfort, the justice of God through Christ."

    The sequel to the U2charist, NOT

    And now a note from the lighter side of the Anglican Communion. Sarah Dylan Breuer notes "A lot of people have been asking me ... what other liturgical developments are in the pike. What I can say is that, having carefully pondered cultural and liturgical trends, I've decided that the Next Big Thing is most definitely NOT:"

    Her top ten list of rejected ideas includes such gems as the R2D2charist (sure to be a hit at science fiction conventions), the Chattanooga Choo-Choocharist, and the Kazoocharist.

    Now, it should be noted that I'm the Episcopal Cafe's resident DJ and about fell over myself to defend the one-hit wonder who put out a certain single in the 80s (and the 90s) when Dylan couldn't find theological grounds to put forward an "I Melt With You"-charist.

    But I think the challenge is clear. We have to help her find the next big thing!

    Overnight reactions to Lambeth invitations

    Not much new to report this morning about the announcement yesterday that the Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the invitations for the 2008 Lambeth Conference. But the working press have started to issue their stories reporting on the news and each version has a slightly different emphasis.

    The New York Times has a good general information article about what is presently known:

    The archbishop of Canterbury sent out more than 800 invitations yesterday to a once-a-decade global gathering of Anglican bishops. But he did not invite the openly gay Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire and the bishop in Virginia who heads a conservative cluster of disaffected American churches affiliated with the archbishop of Nigeria.

    The exclusions offended liberals and conservatives in the worldwide Anglican Communion, which has been threatened by schism since the election in 2003 of the bishop of New Hampshire, V. Gene Robinson, who lives with his gay partner.

    The Washington Times has Julia Dunn's version of the same story. The article points out:

    In his invitation letter, Williams reasserted his leadership role,[...]

    "I have to reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the communion," he wrote.

    At the 1998 Lambeth Conference, the bishops passed a resolution "rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture" and spoke against blessing same-sex unions.

    The Christian Post's article focuses on Martyn Minns' exclusion from the Lambeth Conference and the difficulties that raises for his allies. The article also points out the in addition to the AMIA bishops, the bishops of the Reformed Episcopal Church (one of the common cause partners working with the Anglican Communion Network and others) did not receive invitations either.

    The Anglican Communion Institute issued a response that notes:

    It has been the consistent position of ACI, going back to ‘To Mend the Net,’ that the specific authority given to the Archbishop of Canterbury is that of gathering and inviting. And the place where that authority is his alone is the Lambeth Conference invitations.

    But there is no evidence whatsoever that in making invitations for the 2008 Conference, +Canterbury has set aside or ignored the authority of the other Instruments.

    If you're still looking for more reading material, Ruth Gledhill has an exhaustive post with the reactions from around the Anglican Church.

    And finally, as we all have come to expect, Dave Walker puts the whole tempest into a properly british perspective.

    NY Deputation on the Draft Covenant

    The General Convention deputation of the Diocese of New York have published their thoughts on the Draft Covenant for the Anglican Communion. Like a number of items that came out yesterday, this was mostly ignored by people as we all focused on the news about Lambeth. But those attending Lambeth, whoever they all turn out to be, will most likely have a great deal of their time spent discussing the content of the Covenant that will ultimately have to be adopted by the individual provinces of the Communion. Given that, the New York response is an excellent read and thoughtful critique that starts out in part stating:
    "It would be helpful at this point in time for the Anglican Communion to make up its mind whether the needs of the world and the mission of the church in response to those needs will be better served by a more strictly and centrally regulated structure, or by a more open model deployed for ministry. We favor the latter as more in keeping with Christ’s commission to the church, which is focused not on itself and its structures but on the proclamation of the saving message to a wounded world. It appears that the more we attempt to secure our inner agreements the more we focus on the things that divide us. The Anglican Communion has been known until recently as a body governed not by statute but by bonds of affection, and a Covenant, if needed, should, unlike the present proposal, focus on the affection rather than the bondage. Such a Covenant would be tolerant of diversity and encourage bilateral cooperation in meeting local and global needs through partnerships rather than promoting more complex and rigid structures, as the present proposal seems to advise."
    Read the rest here: In a Godward direction: New York GC Deputation on the Draft Covenant

    Bishop Mark Sisk, the Diocesan Bishop of the diocese has posted his own response here.

    Bishop Marc: "The Most Noxious Point"

    Marc Andrus, the Bishop of California has posted his thoughts of the spiritual dangers confronting the Communion by deciding not to extend a full invitation to Bishop Robinson. He says in part:
    "The ground-breaking work of Rene Girard has revealed the mechanism of scapegoating. Girard teaches that Jesus and the Hebrew prophets began loosening the chains of scapegoating. This action of isolating Bishop Robinson is retrogressive, taking us backwards to a shadowy, scary place from which we have already been delivered by Christ and the Prophets.

    The isolation and exile of Bishop Robinson has implications for the Communion too, within the larger framework of scapegoating. A former Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, once said that if you touch one bishop of the Anglican Communion, you touch them all. This refers to the idea that bishops represent the unity of the Church. The bishop as a symbol of unity is usually understood at the level of a diocese, but there is a larger horizon of meaning - when we look at one bishop our spiritual vision can see all bishops everywhere, for the unity represented is most importantly the unity of the Church throughout the earth."
    Read the full post here.

    UPDATE: Bishop Chane of Washington has also posted a response. Bishop Hollingsworth writes to a letter to the members of the Diocese of Ohio. Bishop Sisk writes to to NY

    Cavalcanti not invited to Lambeth either

    George Conger, writing in the Church of England Newspaper reports:

    "Invitations to the 2008 conference have been mailed to over 800 bishops by the Conference’s host, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams. Invitations to two other diocesan bishops, including the controversial Bishop of Harare, Dr Nolbert Kunonga, have been held pending further “consultation,” said Canon Kearon, the ACC secretary general. Dr Williams is “seeking further advice” on inviting Dr Kunonga,

    Canon Kearon told The Church of England Newspaper but noted his case and that of “one or two others” had “nothing to do with the Windsor process.” In 2002 the EU banned Dr Kunonga from travel to Europe in response to his complicity with the crimes of the regime of Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe.

    A spokesman for the ACC noted Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti of Recife would not be invited either.

    In 2005 Bishop Cavalcanti and 32 of his clergy were deposed by the Primate of Brazil for contumacy.

    They and over 90 per cent of the communicants in the diocese transferred to the jurisdiction of the Province of the Southern Cone under the jurisdiction of Archbishop Gregory Venables.

    The full article is below:

    Read more »

    Washington DC priest takes stand on immigration reform

    The Episcopal News Service reports on a Washington DC priest speaking out in favor of amending the present Immigration reform bill making its way through the capital so that it would emphasize family reunification rather than focusing on selecting candidates for immigration solely on needed skills:

    "Expressing support for immigrant family reunification at a May 23 Capitol Hill news conference, the Rev. Dr. Luis Leon, rector of St. John’s Lafayette Square Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., spoke in favor of a proposed amendment authored by Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2007.

    The Senators’ amendment would remove barriers to reunification for the nuclear families of lawful permanent residents.

    'The Episcopal Church’s 2006 legislative body, General Convention, expressed strong support for comprehensive immigration legislation and regarded family unity as an imperative of any reformed system,' stated Leon. 'Sadly, the Senate compromise legislation includes provisions that devalue family sponsored immigration.' The Clinton-Hagel-Menendez amendment would reclassify the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent immigrants as 'immediate relatives,' thereby exempting them from the visa caps."

    Read the rest here (which includes the full text of Leon's remarks): Episcopal Life Online - NEWS

    Making a difference

    While the the news is full of stories of our disagreements, Episcopalians are working to make a difference in our world. Anglican/Episcopal networks are active connecting people who want to use their gifts for creating a better world. Developing ways to provide food security for those who lack resources, providing treated mosquito nets to prevent malaria, lobbying governments to enact just laws, working to stop global warming, volunteering to teach children and adults, offering technical skills for clean water and sharing technology are some ways people are busy and involved. Some networks are all volunteer, others have paid staff to track efforts and offer specialized organizational talents.
    Here are just a few that might be of interest:

    Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation A Grass Roots Movement Supporting the Millennium Goals is not your typical development organization. In fact, its not a development organization at all. According to their web site: "We don’t build clinics and schools. We don’t collect money for projects. We don’t lobby politicians. EGR doesn’t do these things … we help everyone else dream them and do them with excellence. The organization fuels the movement. The movement transforms the Church and the world." The group offers connections, resources, ideas, worship and prayer to make the Millennium Development Goals a reality.

    Beijing Circles is a resource for women of faith changing the world. This program forms circles - small groups of women - around the world working on issues that especially affect women's abilities to survive and thrive in the world of violence, poverty, and inequality for girls and women. The circles educate themselves on issues and connect with others around the world to make a difference in the lives of all people.

    Episcopal Ecological Network (EpEN) helps the Episcopal Church in the USA to advocate and articulate protection of the environment and preserving the sanctity of creation. This network extends throughout the various congregations, Dioceses and Provinces of the Church and includes interaction with other Christian churches in the USA and around the world.

    Episcopal Peace Fellowship is a national organization with local chapters across the United States. While we are affiliated with the Episcopal Church in America, we are an independent entity striving to work for peace in justice in our communities, our church, and the world.

    Episcopal Public Policy Network connects more than 15,000 Episcopalians across the country, brings the positions of the Episcopal Church to our nation's lawmakers. It represent the social policies of the church established by the General Convention and Executive Council, including issues of international peace and justice, human rights, immigration, welfare, poverty, hunger, health care, violence, civil rights, the environment, racism and issues involving women and children. EPPN offers email action alerts for members to speak to the leaders of the US on issues of concern.

    Prison Ministries offers support to volunteers and assigned chaplains working in jails and prisons. Visiting those in prison and bringing hope is one of the clear calls of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25.

    The Network for Science, Technology and Faith" offers connections between and among the communities science, medicine, technology and faith.

    Episcopal Relief and Development responds to human suffering around the world. The organization provides emergency assistance after disasters, rebuilds communities, and help children and families climb out of poverty. ER-D is a channel for giving and working to change lives. Opportunities to participate in Nets for Life - preventing malaria, to provide food security around the world and rebuild after disaster are just some of the programs.

    This is not an exhaustive list of networks of care that exist to connect those who want to "do something" and those who seek support. There are many more depending on where one wants to invest time, talent and treasure. Loving God and our neighbors as ourselves through action is at the heart of this work. Check with a local diocese in your state or The Episcopal Church web site to find those who are working on areas of interest and concern.

    Climate Change, Poverty and the G8

    The G8 nations are meeting in a few weeks. Climate change, extreme poverty and the potential of the Millennium Development Goals to make a difference will be a major part of their agenda. The Episcopal Church Public Policy Network has issued the following alert and call to action:

    This summer marks the half way point for the targeted achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Despite high promises from G8 leaders, a new report this week by DATA, one of the Episcopal Church’s partner organizations, shows that while progress has been made in some of the anti-poverty commitments made by G8 leaders at their 2005 summit, much bolder action is needed if the MDGs are to be met by 2015. (

    In a few short weeks, leaders of the G8 nations, including President Bush, will meet in Germany with an agenda that includes addressing the onset of climate change throughout the world, as well as the world’s progress toward eradicating deadly poverty and meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

    Write President Bush, the G8 must keep their commitments to the MDGs and need to address the role that climate change will play in their success.

    This is a critical time for the climate and the MDGs. On Sunday, the San Francisco Chronicle printed Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s opinion column urging that world leaders consider the two issues simultaneously, as climate change propels global poverty and global poverty propels climate change. "By understanding how the two crises, and the people they affect, are connected, we can begin to understand how humanity can triumph over both," wrote the Presiding Bishop. To read the full article, Click Here

    Send a message to President Bush now -- Urge him to work with other G8 leaders to keep the promises they have made toward meeting the MDGs, and in particular, to address the relationship between global poverty and climate change as part of this meeting’s agenda:
    Click here

    For ideas on how you and your church and community can make a difference check out Green Lent: a blog of ideas to lessen your impact on the earth and to share resources with others. Listen to the Wombat!

    Troubled by Washington Post columnist

    UPDATE: Will's letter has been published by the LA Chronicle here.

    Troubled by the writings of Washington Post columnist, Michael Gerson, that appear to support Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, his anti-gay rhetoric in support of draconian laws in Nigeria and his policies on women's ordination, blogger Will Scott has written The Post. From Scott's blog Yearns and Groans:

    To the Editor:

    As both an Episcopal priest and one who grew up in the parishes of Virginia, I find Michael Gerson‘s “Bringing the Faith to American Christians” 20 May 2007 deeply troubling. Gerson, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, apparently shares Nigerian Archbishop Akinola’s opposition to ordaining women, gays and lesbians.

    Although the Anglican Communion has long been unified, Gerson celebrates the decision of a tiny minority (less than one half of one percent) in the Episcopal Church to join Akinola’s splintering vision. The “consecration” of Martyn Minns, who stood unsuccessfully for election as a bishop in the U.S., aims to shatter global Anglicanism, not build an emerging global Christianity.

    As part of an emerging global Christianity that supports ordaining women, gays and lesbians, I recently attended an Anglican conference in South Africa on ending poverty, and caring for the sick and for the Earth. I met Anglicans, particularly African young people, who are glad to work with the mainstream U.S. Episcopal Church.

    Indeed, Kenyan theologian Dr. Esther Mombo has challenged Akinola to abandon his predatory practice of splintering the U.S. church and focus instead on the critical needs of Africa. The church and news media should make room for authentic voices of African women like Mombo rather than former presidential spin-doctors, like Gerson.

    These disaffiliating American churches do not represent emerging Christianity, as they suggest, but an arrogant ideology aimed at furthering their narrow agenda.

    The Reverend Will Scott
    Associate Pastor
    Grace Cathedral

    Click HERE to read more of Yearns and Groans.

    Communion By Invitation Only

    It is a "sad day for the Anglican Communion and a new low for the beleaguered Archbishop of Canterbury. The once proud-of-its-diversity Anglican Communion has allowed itself to be blackmailed into bigotry by those unwilling to accept into their midst a duly elected brother bishop solely because of his sexual orientation." The Rev. Susan Russell, President of Integrity, USA, writes in On Faith, religious conversations in the Washington Post.

    "The Archbishop had an explanation for his decision not to include Bishop Robinson: “I have to reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion.”

    What he doesn’t have is an explanation for the stunning hypocrisy of excluding the Bishop of New Hampshire because he is gay while including the Archbishop of Nigeria who supports legislation criminalizing gay and lesbian people so draconian that it has been condemned by the international Human Rights Watch."

    Read it all HERE

    Reconciliation: A Third Way

    Promoting a faith based culture of reconciliation is the hope of 65 Episcopalians attending "The Third Way" training seminar led by The Rev. Brian Cox, who developed the program

    "Our purpose is not to solve the conflict in the Episcopal Church but rather to promote a culture of reconciliation in the life of the church, a paradigm shift away from win-lose advocacy to faith-based reconciliation," said Cox, rector of Christ the King Church in Santa Barbara, California.

    About 65 lay and clergy Episcopalians from across the nation are attending "A Third Way," a faith-based reconciliation training seminar being held through May 25 at St. James Church in the Wilshire district of Los Angeles.

    Pat McCaughan, Episcopal News Service, writes that participants learn, "This is about creating a third way, a positive way, a proactive way, in the life of the Episcopal Church. It also offers people hope. Our experience has been that the whole seriousness of the conflict hasn't changed but people come away with a feeling of hope."

    Cox developed the training following a 1995 Eastern European visit a few months after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and Marxism. He recognized the need for a compelling individual and collective moral vision and that "as a person of faith from the Abrahamic tradition, I was carrying in my heart the seed of an ancient moral vision whose time on the world stage had finally come."

    The first faith-based reconciliation training seminar was offered in 1996 and "we witnessed the transforming power of the Spirit in bring together polarities to build bridges, demolish walls of hostility and promote the dynamic of forgiveness," said Cox.

    "We found it also challenged people at the deepest level of being about their relationship with God, to come to that place to surrender and submission to God."

    Submission to God, ironically, was a turnoff for Joanne O'Donnell, now a trainer. "When I first attended this training, I stumbled hard over this area and refused to participate in the follow-up exercise," said O'Donnell, an L.A. Superior Court Judge and General Convention deputy who authored Resolution A039, that called for church-wide faith-based reconciliation training.

    "As a lesbian committed to the cause of full participation by gay and lesbian people in all ministries of the church, I had an underlying deep suspicion that the notion of God's sovereignty was being used to browbeat me into acknowledging that my life was sinful," she recalled.

    "I've thought a lot about it since then; God's sovereignty is the single-most important element of faith-based reconciliation. It's the factor that distinguished it from secular forms of diplomacy and peacemaking, which don't seem to be terribly effective these days."

    During her presentation to the gathering, she outlined eight core values which will frame their conversation during the next few days: pluralism; inclusion; peacemaking; justice; forgiveness; healing wounded communities and submission to God and atonement.

    Read is all HERE

    The coming global schism?

    Pew Forums sponsored a conference on faith, politics and public life earlier this month. The featured speaker was Phillip Jenkins, a professor at Penn State University a distinguished professor of Religious Studies and History (who has been writing about the growing strength of the global south expression of Christianity).

    The long article begins with an address by Jenkins and then continues with a number of questions for members of the media asking him and other panelists for clarification and insight about how the vital faith of the global south is changing the way Christianity interacts at numerous levels in the developed nations.

    Here's just a bit of the initial statement:

    "...I was once talking to some West Africans about the bits of the Bible that made sense to them in ways that could not make sense to Westerners. They said, 'We live in agricultural societies, so things like the Parable of the Sower made great sense.' Just talking about it, they started getting teary eyed. Then they mentioned Psalm 126. Psalm 126 is a psalm that is widely quoted, and it goes like this: 'The man who goes forth into the fields in tears weeping to sow the seed will bring the sheaves again in joy.' You understand perfectly well why a farmer would bring the sheaves again in joy; he's celebrating harvest time.

    But why do you weep while you're sowing? 'It's obvious,' they said to me. 'Whoever wrote this psalm was writing at a time of famine, like we had a couple of years ago. You've got the corn that's left, and you can do one of two things with it. You can feed your family with it, but if you do that, you're not a farmer anymore [because you have no seeds left] and you have to migrate to the city and become a beggar, and what's going to happen to your children and so on. Or you can take the corn literally out of the hands of your hungry children and use it as seed corn and sow it. That's why a farmer weeps while sowing the corn. It's obvious.'

    As I said, it wasn't obvious to me, but there are any number of examples like that where the Bible describes a world that makes immediate, intuitive, documentary sense in a way it can't for us. It's almost as if every passage comes with – (unintelligible) – at the end. You have texts like the Book of Ruth, for example. The Book of Ruth is all about a society destroyed by famine where the men have left because they can, and the women are left behind with the children, and the world is held together by people being loyal to clan ties. Can't think of why that would be relevant in large chunks of Africa."

    Read the rest here.

    AMiA Comments on Lambeth Invitations

    The leadership of the AMiA (Anglican Mission in the Americas) have released a statement commenting on implications of the issued and with-held invitations to the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

    They say in part:

    "The Archbishop [of Canterbury] seems to signal his unconditional support for continued full inclusion of TEC bishops, regardless of how they ultimately choose to respond to repeated demands and conditions of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, most recently voiced in their Dar es Salaam Communiqué.

    In light of the overwhelming evidence of the Global South’s clarity and numerous warnings, by issuing Lambeth invitations to ECUSA Bishops prior to the release of their final response to the Primates’ concerns and demands for repentance (due September 30th), Archbishop Williams’ actions can be interpreted as preemptive and even dismissive. This seems to indicate he takes the Global South’s continued support for granted.

    I [the Rt. Rev. Charles Murphy] consider this decision as a demonstration of the ongoing crisis of faith and leadership that exists in this Communion, and I believe that it will have serious consequences in view of our Lord’s teaching that a ‘house divided simply cannot stand.’"

    Read the full statement here.

    That We All May Be One

    Bishop Epting (the Episcopal Church's chief ecumenical officer) has posted some news on his blog about a joint statement just issued by the Anglican and Orthodox Churches:
    "The International Commission for Anglican – Orthodox Theological Dialogue has released The Church of the Triune God, an ecclesiological statement registering considerable agreement over a wide range of issues on the nature and mission of the Church. The introduction to this 117 page document states that ‘the publication of this Cyprus Agreed Statement concludes the third phase of the Anglican – Orthodox international theological dialogue. It began in 1973…(and) the first phase of the dialogue was concluded by the publication of the Moscow Agreed Statement in 1976. The publication of the Dublin Agreed Statement in 1984 brought its second phase to a conclusion.’ Episcopal Bishop Mark Dyer and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon have been co-chairs of Commission and write in their preface that this statement ‘is offered to the Anglican and Orthodox churches in the hope that, as it is studied and reflected upon, it will help Christians of both traditions to perceive anew the work of the Triune God in giving life to His Church, and draw us closer to that unity which is His will for all the faithful.’"
    Read the rest here. The Episcopal News Service has some more information posted here.

    Fighting for peace

    The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane, Bishop of Washington, has devoted his latest column in the Washington Window to a critical examination of how the Bush administration, Congress and the media led the United States into war with Iraq.

    Terrorism has dramatically increased since Operation Iraqi Freedom, with more than 450 suicide bombers killing themselves and others in Iraq since the start of the war. Since then, 3,386 American soldiers have died and 25,245 have been wounded-more than 7,000 so severely that their lives will forever be altered. Between 8 and 10 percent of the nearly 12,000 American soldiers treated at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany had psychiatric or behavioral problems related to their war experience, according to the hospital's commander, Army Col. Rhonda Cornum. Many veterans returning to the U.S. from active duty are being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In comparison, the international "Coalition of the Willing" referred to in 2003 and used as a support for our war effort, has lost 273 military personnel. U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan now number 389. Figures for Iraqi military deaths have not officially been released by the Iraqi government.

    Warnings put forward by the religious community in the U.S. about the consequences of a military strategy to disarm Saddam Hussein were lost on a compliant Congress and an administration determined to go to war with Iraq. President George W. Bush called the nation to war on unsubstantiated charges that Iraq possessed chemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction


    The U.S. Congress should be held accountable for giving an almost unanimous "green light" to the administration to go to war and for granting the President unlimited war powers. Republican and Democratic presidential candidates need to explain to the American public why they were silent when the short debate on the War Powers Act was being considered by Congress. Some politicians have said that if they knew then what they know now, they would not have voted to extend this power to the President. That is unacceptable. There was clearly enough information available about the Iraq's military capabilities and its severely weakened infrastructure resulting from the earlier Operation Desert Storm to merit significant debate. But Congress was too timid to explore alternative means for dealing with the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein, and it should be held accountable for the crime of silence.

    As for the religious community in the U.S., every major Christian religious denomination in the country, except one, registered its opposition to engaging in military action against Iraq. Yet even with such overwhelming opposition, the current administration would not extend the religious leaders of these denominations the courtesy of meeting with them prior to the outbreak of the war.

    The media likewise were either unable or unwilling to report the opposition of the broad faith community to military action against Iraq. This is among the concerns that have led to questions about the integrity of the press during the build-up and initial military action in Iraq.

    Read it all.

    A different kind of Lambeth

    [Episcopal News Service] The Lambeth Conference 2008 will be a significantly different gathering from the 1998 and 1988 sessions of the once-a-decade meeting of the bishops of the Anglican Communion, according to a member of the Conference's design team.

    The design for Lambeth 2008 "is not driven by production of reports and enabling resolutions building out of the reports, and that's a significant departure from previous designs," the Rev. Dr. Ian T. Douglas, a member of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council and of its delegation to the Anglican Consultative Council, told the Episcopal News Service. "The focus here is on transformation, the building of communion and the engagement with each other, the goal of which is to equip the bishops to be more effective and faithful servants to the 'Missio Dei' [God's mission]."

    The 2008 Conference has been in the news this week since the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, announced May 22 that a small number of bishops have not been invited to attend.

    Read it all.

    Nigerian activist begins U. S. tour

    [Episcopal News Service] Nigerian Anglican Davis Mac-Iyalla, 33, founder of his country's only gay-rights organization, Changing Attitude Nigeria, has embarked on a six-week speaking tour of the United States.

    Among his stops will be the Episcopal Church's Executive Council June 11-14 meeting in Parsippany, New Jersey. He will be an invited guest of the Council's National Concerns Committee.

    Read it all.

    NBC saves civilization as we know it

    Friday Night Lights, the outstanding drama about Texas high school football, the people who play it, coach it and watch it, has been renewed for a second season. Reruns of the first season will air on Sundays at 8 p. m., beginning tomorrow. Critics have praised the show, but it has struggled to find an audience.

    In its previous incarnation, Daily Episcopalian lauded the show to pieces. Frequently.

    On Message

    WASHINGTON (May 26) - With the sounds of Rolling Thunder motorcycles filling the streets of the nation's capital in the background, a different sort of roar rolled through the Washington National Cathedral on Saturday when the Rt. Rev. Shannon Sherwood Johnston was consecrated as the bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Virginia.
    In his sermon, the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, Bishop of Atlanta, urged Bishop Johnston to "wear us out! Wear us out with the promise of the resurrection!"

    The consecration, Bishop Alexander said, was "an act of faith, a sign of hope, a living reminder of the mission that Jesus Christ has given to the Church. It is an act of faith in God's confidence in the Church, God's faith in us to live boldly, perhaps even daringly."

    This day, he said, was a "bold reminder to ourselves and the world that the mission of Jesus continues. We are not prepared to give up, to let up, to hold back or to relax."

    Bishop Jefferts Schori, who served as the chief consecrator, was joined by Bishop Lee, Virginia Bishop Suffragan David Colin Jones, Bishop Alexander, Michigan Bishop Wendell Gibbs, Mississippi Bishop Duncan M. Gray III and West Virginia Bishop Michie Klusmeyer. Twenty-five other bishops also participated in the consecration.

    "It was a delight to see 30 bishops of the Church gather to celebrate, and an utter delight to hear Fodor perform" Bach's Ciaccona, Bishop Jefferts Schori said.

    "The music and the preaching were all right on target," Bishop Gibbs said. "It's all about resurrection. We finally got back on message. Thanks be to God!"

    Throughout the service, Bishop Johnston and his wife, Ellen, exchanged glances, smiles and tears across the center aisle of the cathedral....

    Bishop Johnston will make his first episcopal visit to the Church of the Holy Comforter in Vienna on Sunday. "It does not get better than that, visiting that church on the Feast of Pentecost," he said.

    Emphasis added. The special edition of The Virginia Episcopalian is here.

    Virginia clergy meet with the Presiding Bishop

    The blog "BabyBlueOnline" has a long report on the meeting that place on May 25th between the clergy of the Diocese of Virginia and Bishop Schori. The Presiding Bishop was in town for the consecration of the new bishop coadjutor of Virginia that happened on Sat May 26th. It's a wide ranging conversation between the Presiding Bishop and the clergy. After her opening remarks there follows a question period where a number of sharp questions were directed toward her.
    "Opening remarks by the PB:

    ‘One of the great gifts of serving in this position is that I get to travel around the church and see what’s going on. I get to meet people and hear stories about how the church lives its life in different places and contexts. And there’s enormous good news in that. Every diocese I have gone to visit has stories of health and vitality to tell. I discovered … last week that some people were annoyed by my talking about that. But I talk about that certainly because it’s true but also because it, I think it’s essential to counteract what the headlines have to say about the Episcopal Church, which is a tiny fraction of what is going on … the stories of health and vitality come from congregations and people and communities who are paying attention to the needs of their neighbors and are engaged in that mission to serve the world. I think that’s great and glorious good news and there simply needs to be more of it, and teach the other parts of the church or challenge other parts of the church to be about that work as well.’"
    Read the rest here: BabyBlueOnline

    The ongoing battle for Pawley's Island

    The Myrtle Beach Sun News reports:

    The most recent development in the court battle came last week, when the congregation that remained with the Episcopal diocese appealed an April ruling by Judge Thomas Cooper to deny the diocese ownership of the church property.

    However, Cooper said the group that stayed loyal to the Episcopal Diocese are the true representatives of the historical church and have the right to use the All Saints Parish, Waccamaw, name.

    He ordered the Anglican Mission congregation to return items such as furniture, books and historical church documents, since those belong to the Episcopal Diocese.

    But he upheld a 1745 deed that said the church real estate is held in trust for the benefit of the people of the Waccamaw Neck, for the establishment of an Anglican church.

    That means that neither the Episcopal Diocese nor the Anglican Mission in the Americas can lay claim to the church property.

    The Anglican Mission congregation will continue to call their church All Saints Church, said Senior Warden Dan Stacey.

    No real estate or real property will be transferred while the case is on appeal, Stacey said. "I'm not surprised [about the appeal]," Stacey said. "The judge ruled that they didn't have any interest in the real estate and I'm sure that was a surprise to the national church."

    A two acre site adjacent to the church campus is not covered under the original 1745 deed, is not held in trust, and does belong to the Episcopal Diocese, according to Cooper's ruling.

    Read it all here.

    One correction: AMiA is not "another branch of the Episcopal Church." Further, it is not recognized by the Anglican Communion.

    The latest from Colorado

    By Andrew Gerns

    A Colorado congregation that has affiliated with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, and is attempting to keep the property it occupies from being retained by the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, announced the results of a week of voting today. The vote is not recognized as valid by the diocese and is unlikely to keep the parish out of court with the diocese.

    In a news release dated May 26, 2007, the parish leadership of Grace and St. Stephen's, Colorado Springs, announced the vote which took place from Sunday, May 20th through Saturday, May 26th, saying that 93% of the congregations members chose to align the congregation with CANA and keep the property they now occupy.

    According to a report in the Colorado Springs Gazette, there were 370 votes cast and 342, or 93%, were in favor of the parish leaving the Episcopal Church and joining CANA. The tally was 348 to 22 about authorizing the vestry to fight to retain control of the $17 million dollar plant.

    Before the break-up, the parish reported a membership of 1500-2000 communicants. The breakaway parish claims 600 to 800 of these, while the Diocese claims that 200 to 400 members of the original parish now worship in the borrowed space down the street.

    Robert McJimsey, a retired Colorado College professor who is spokesman for the members who have remained in the diocese, said “It’s sad and difficult for us in the parish. Episcopalians take seriously the word 'communion' — which means coming together in spiritual fellowship. And once you vote to leave the communion, it’s difficult to lose contact with those you have worshipped with a long time.”

    Diocesan Bishop Robert O'Neill called the vote invalid. Diocesan spokesperson Becket Stokes said that people are free to leave the Episcopal Church, but parishes are not.

    Vote Affirms a Previous Vestry Action

    The vestry of the breakaway parish voted on March 26th that “Grace Church and St. Stephens Parish will leave the Episcopal Church effective immediately” and characterized the vote completed yesterday as simply an affirmation of the vestry action.

    The vote was taken using voting booths and a ballot box borrowed from El Paso county which were arranged for by Bob Balink, a member of the breakaway parish's vestry and elected clerk and recorder of the county, according to a report in the Colorado Springs Independent.

    The rector of the breakaway congregation, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, states that they will no longer carry the Episcopal flag in procession, instead using a flag bearing the compass rose of the Anglican Communion. The congregation's website has proclaim the parish to be a member of CANA since well before the election and the rector and some of the clergy were received into CANA before the process leading up last week's vote, called 40 Days of Discernment, was completed.

    Episcopal Congregation Discourages Participation

    A blog entry on the website of the Episcopal Congregation discouraged people from voting because the vote would be meaningless. An April 24th post said that “the position of the Episcopal Church is that the parish vote, sponsored by the secessionist vestry, to join CANA is an illegal action and has no recognized validity.” Members of the congregation who chose to remain with the Episcopal congregation now worship in borrowed space in a Christian Church-Disiciples of Christ congregation down the street.

    Noting that the Episcopal parish continues despite the congregation that occupies their property, the blog says that “Episcopalians have no interest in this participation because the real estate issues will be handled in the courts....”

    The leadership of the Episcopal parish contends that the rules established by the breakaway parish make the outcome of the vote a foregone conclusion. The rules establised for the vote require that members of the Episcopal parish must re-register as members of the CANA congregation, contribute to the new congregation and attend its worship. Members of the Episcopal congregation voiced concern that the use of the rolls, or even the possibility of signed ballots, might be used in court in validate the breakaway parish's claim.

    Information posted by the CANA parish about the vote published in their newsletter and posted on their website was unclear as to the eligibility of Episcopalians who might have attempted to vote, expect to say that some cases would be handled individually. The question of a necessary quorum is also not addressed in the newsletter.

    Controversy Surrounds Rector

    The Rector of the breakaway parish, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, has been rector of Grace and St. Stephen's for twenty years. Armstrong was inhibited by the Diocese in December and is under investigation for misappropriation of church funds, a charge which Armstrong denies.

    Armstrong refuses to recognize the charges or the inhibition since he is no longer an Episcopal priest but a priest of the Church of Nigeria through CANA. He characterizes the charges as persecution for his conservative religious views.

    The Diocese issued an extensive report including the results of the work of a forensic accountant which led to the charges being filed.

    According to The Independent, Alan Crippen, a spokesman for the secessionist vestry, says "The die is cast for Father Armstrong." Armstrong already has left the Episcopal fold, Crippen said, and that if parishioners don't vote to join him, Armstrong would leave Grace, probably with many of his supporters.

    Controversy has followed Armstrong even among fellow conservatives. Until recently, Armstrong was executive director of the Anglican Communion Institute until that group decided in light of the ongoing investigation to incorporate in Texas and remove Armstrong, who has said that the ACI's “mission is no longer valid.”

    CANA Claims in Dispute

    CANA, which the breakaway parish has now joined, claims to be a member of the Anglican Communion by way of its association with the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion).

    Last week, the Missionary Bishop of CANA, Martyn Minn, was not invited to next year's Lambeth Conference. The meeting, called by the Archbishop of Canterbury, meets every ten years and is open to Bishops from jurisdictions in the Anglican Communion who are recognized as being in communion with Canterbury. Minns was not invited because, according the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearnon of the Anglican Communion Office, CANA has no standing as Anglican entity.

    The Primate of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Peter J. Akinola, disputes this, saying Minns was properly appointed and consecrated in Nigeria, and that CANA has a claim equal to any diocese in Nigeria.

    Other bishops with claims similar to Minns were not invited to the Lambeth conference of 1998 by the then Archbishop, George Carey, as well as being excluded from next year's meeting by Williams.

    The Rev. Andrew Gerns is the rector of Trinity Church, Easton, Pa., and a news blogger for Episcopal Cafe. He keeps the blog Andrew Plus.

    Circling the Wagons or Deepening the Pool?

    An Anglican professor at a Ugandan theological college says Network bishops in the Episcopal Church are partly to blame for the crisis in the church because they have not supported the conservative seminaries with evangelically or "reasserter" candidates for holy orders.

    The Rev. Stephen Noll, vice-chancellor and professor at Uganda Christian University, wrote a post in the blog “Stand Firm” called “An Open Letter on Theological Education to Network Bishops and Common Cause Partners USA,” recommending that Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry and Nashotah House only accept students from Network dioceses and “Common Cause” jurisdictions, meaning Anglican churches no longer in Communion with Canterbury in North America.

    Noll writes, “The Network and Common Cause dioceses and churches should commit themselves to require all candidates for ministry to get their degrees from Trinity or Nashotah or a REC seminary, or at least to attend for one year to instill in them a common Anglican ethos.”

    In the first comment on the post, the chair of the board of Trinity School for Ministry, the Rev. Canon David Roseberry agreed saying, “At my first board meeting five years ago, the Trinity Board made a major policy change. We would openly and warmly welcomed students training for the AMiA, the REC, as well as ECUSA. Today we have TEC students, AMiA students, an occasional REC student and a few others from mainline denominations.”

    Roseberry says in the comment that the Board of TESM has appointed the Rt. Rev. John Rodgers, a former Dean and professor of the school, as Interim Dean as the school conducts an international search for a new dean, since the departure of the Rev. Dr. Paul F. M. Zahl earlier this spring. Since Bishop Rodgers is a Missionary Bishop of the AMiA, this seems to indicate that the school is seeking to broaden its base beyond the Episcopal Church. The announcement has not appeared on the TESM website.

    Both Roseberry and Noll claim that moderate and conservative Bishops send students to other Episcopal seminaries to be “rounded out” but complain that “revisionist” Bishops, as they call them, never send students these schools for the same broadening of perspective.

    Noll's main concern is that, without institutional support such as sending more students to these institutions, “ orthodox Anglicanism” will not “emerge as a real church like the Presbyterian Church in America (note, with its Covenant Seminary) and not just a welter of 'continuing' factions.”

    Read the rest, including the numerous comments.

    Tale of two seminaries: Wycliffe and Trinity

    Yesterday we reported on goings-on at Trinity Seminary in Pittsburgh, complaints that even Network bishops are biased against sending postulants to the conservative Episcopal seminary.

    Today there is more on Wycliffe Hall, a Church of England seminary located at Oxford University. Thinking Anglicans reports:

    First, wannabepriest has drawn attention to how the situation there has changed by linking to this:
    Does the organisation Reform have a place within the evangelical firmament of the Church of England, not to mention the wider Anglican Communion? The question is prompted by the recent decision of the council of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, to ban meetings of the local student branch of the movement until a policy can be formulated on the ‘issue’…
    Second, Giles Fraser has written a comment article Not faith, but fanaticism in today’s Guardian which concludes like this:
    …Of course, what should really happen is that the bishops of the Church of England stop using colleges like this to train its priests. Places such as Wycliffe are turning Anglicanism into a cult. But it’s a symptom of how bad things are in the C of E, and how frightened its bishops have become of the financial muscle of conservative evangelicals, that they won’t find the gumption to cut Wycliffe adrift.

    New Dio. of Va. bishop faces challenges

    Over the weekend, more than 2,000 people attended the consecration of Shannon Johnston, bishop co-adjutor of the Diocese of Virginia, at Washington National Cathedral on Saturday, May 26. A video of the consecration service (requires Windows Media Player) is available from the National Cathedral website. You can access it directly via this link; the Cathedral notes that the prelude music is approximately 50 minutes long in case you want to forward past that to the service.

    In the News
    While several news outlets have reported on the consecration, an AP story that ran late last week is perhaps most illuminating of the challenges Johnston faces as bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Church's largest diocese.

    The man chosen to lead Virginia Episcopalians will look to the heavens as he shepherds the centuries-old diocese threatened by divisions over homosexuality — and to the 1960s Alabama of his youth.

    Then a small boy living in the Jim Crow stronghold, the Very Rev. Shannon Johnston paid close attention to sit-ins and freedom rides unfolding around him, as well as resistance by bristling segregationists.

    "I saw how those who stayed in the middle, and tried to keep people together and talk and understand ... set a strong example of how to build up community," said Johnston, 48, who spoke to The Associated Press from the diocese's Richmond headquarters. "That was a witness I think I've never forgotten."

    A report by the Rev. Lauren R. Stanley in a special edition of Virginia Episcopalian notes that:

    With the sounds of Rolling Thunder motorcycles filling the streets of the nation’s capital in the background, a different sort of roar rolled through the Washington National Cathedral on Saturday when the Rt. Rev. Shannon Sherwood Johnston was consecrated as the bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Virginia.

    Three times during the service – twice in response to liturgical questions from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and once proclaiming “Amen” at the conclusion of the prayer of consecration – the congregation’s roaring approvals echoed throughout the great stone cathedral for six seconds each.


    “I am incredibly uplifted,” Bishop Johnston said during the reception that followed. “We were raised by God’s grace and held by an embrace of affection by the people of the Diocese and the bishops. I am so confident of who we are now and what we are going to be and do together.”

    We also reported on this article on Saturday, but in case you missed it, you can read the whole thing, including comments from Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori and Bishop Peter J. Lee of the Diocese of Virginia, here.

    Some Blog Reactions
    Margret Hjalmarson, a/k/a Progressive Pragmatist notes:

    We got to the front of a line to get in because we arrived so early and got to talk to Johnston's cousin while waiting to get in. There were people from all over Virginia, from Mississippi, from Alabama. All here not just for Johnston (though that's a big event) but also to celebrate the new life of a diocese that has been through a lot of pain and dissent in recent months.

    Martha Furniss, writing at Life in the Circle Game, writes:

    The one lady had a ticket marked "special." We moved her to the head of the line. The Harrisonburg folks were very nice. I turned to the "special" lady and asked her what had brought her to the the consecration service. Turns out she is a friend of the Johnston family. She said, "Shannon is very excited about today. Did I say Shannon is excited? Well his mother is positively levitating." Wow, it must be quite a day to have your son consecrated bishop!

    The cathedral was lovely, ... and I sat in line with the space window. The procession included lots of familiar faces, the music was uplifting, the sermon was good. The presiding bishop spoke the words of consecration - I love her voice. It was inspiring to hear the words of the creed echoing through the nave. It was good to see so many people in their Sunday best gathered on a Saturday morning to witness the consecration of the 1017th American bishop who, in a few years, will be the 213th bishop of Virginia. The church is strong, we have purpose, we have history, we have future.

    A receding tide

    Ado over theological education and certain tides afoot from the "reasserting" side of the fence lead to speculation over future generations of Anglican leadership. Looking at Bishop Duncan's recent statements on reasserters' failure to prevail and the Rev. Noll's recommendation that Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry and Nashotah House only accept students from North American Anglican churches no longer in Communion with Canterbury, one might wonder whether there's a problem with leadership on that side of the fence. Anglican Scotist certainly thinks so:

    It seems to me that with Abp. Akinola's installation of Bp. Minns, we have witnessed the high tide of the realignment movement; its waters have begun to ebb back out to sea. For Abp. Williams has signalled--rather clearly for him--that he thinks they have overreached, and there is no Exodus of parishes and especially dioceses to CANA, which now appears to be merely the latest addition to the Anglican alphabet soup. Surely the tide may come back in--Minns & co. may somehow succeed in moving the realignment project significantly forward. But it seems to me the whole installation spectacle tarnishes their effectiveness as leaders in that movement, such that they join a growing list of other conservative Anglican leaders who have recently overreached.

    So what's an Anglican to do? First, with regard to the question of theological education, Robert S. Munday, dean of Nashotah House Theological Seminary responds to Noll:

    I spoke recently with a leader in one of the new Anglican coalitions that have come into being. Referring to the fact that many of their clergy have attended an array of non-Anglican seminaries, he lamented, “when we come to make a decision about something that pertains to our Anglican identity, we find we are unable to reach a consensus, because very few of our priests have a common understanding of what the Anglican ethos is.” Is that the future we want for orthodox Anglicanism in North America?

    Another commenter posits that the reason Trinity can't attract postulants or retain faculty has to do with an identity crisis it seems to be having, wherein it "has no future in the Episcopal Church, and thus the name change. But it also cannot compete with Gordon-Conwell, Covenant, Fuller, Beeson, RTS, TEDS and so on within Evangelicalism. In other words, neither revisionists nor evangelical leaders consider it a real option."

    The dean search at Trinity is expected to be announced today. Stay tuned for more developments as we hear about them.

    And one last thing: Mark Harris over at Preludium offers a broader summary of the issues around theological education, digesting it thus:
    In just a few weeks we have seen:

    1. A catechism on its way to being a Global South agenda for theological education, 2. An Anglican Communion vision of an Anglican Way for theological education. 3. The struggle in England for the future of theological education. 4. A statement in favor of similar education in the US for "a real church."

    Well, to return to the beginning of this essay, this is a mare's nest of material and it only becomes more untidy by the day. The struggle for the future of theological education in the Anglican Communion is clearly related to the struggle for dominance being exercised by English evangelicals, their American counterparts and more worldwide by Anglicans informed more or less by Calvinist principles.

    I have visited every seminary in the Episcopal Church except Bexley Hall and have found refreshment in every one. Over the years I have visited seminaries in Taiwan, the Philippines, Lebanon, Kenya, Uganda, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing, Haiti and Puerto Rico. I was a student at The Episcopal Theological School (BDiv /MDiv) and The Episcopal Divinity School (DMin). In every place I found excitement and energy and more wonderfully both Anglican brothers and sisters and Christian fellow travelers (aka pilgrims). I have been influenced by them all. The breadth of Anglican theological work is quite amazing and delicious.

    Secondly, with regard to leadership, Anglican Scotist puts forward what he feels will be the leader of the next chapter in a conflict that caught GetReligion's attention this morning as "just getting started at the local level." (Story on how that might be spun in the media from either perspective here.) To him, Archbishop Gomez of the West Indies has the right profile:

    His recent trip to the Diocese of Central Florida for a speech to our clergy may confirm his willingness to provide leadership among conservatives, and he has not yet diminished his capacity by overreaching; indeed, he is an official part of the covenant-making process at Abp. Williams' request.

    Read the whole post here.

    Trinity Episcopal Appoints AMiA Bishop Rodgers Interim Dean

    From The Living Church

    Trinity Seminary Names AMiA Bishop Rodgers Interim Dean

    The Rt. Rev. John H. Rodgers, Jr., has been appointed interim dean at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry. He will serve for one year beginning Aug. 1 while Trinity searches for a permanent successor for the Very Rev. Paul F.M. Zahl, who announced May 10 that he would resign effective at the end of July.

    Bishop Rodgers is dean and president emeritus, having served as dean of Trinity from 1978 to 1990. He is also a trustee emeritus at Trinity and a former member of the faculty at Virginia Theological Seminary.

    In 2000, Bishop Rodgers and the Rt. Rev. Charles H. Murphy III were consecrated bishops for the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), part of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. Bishop Rodgers previously retired from active service with the AMiA.

    “The board voted without hesitation to appoint Dr. Rodgers to this post,” said the Rev. Canon David H. Roseberry, chairman of the board of trustees at Trinity. “He is the perfect person to help guide our school through this transition, and he has the full support of the board and the faculty.”

    Fr. Roseberry noted that Trinity has been accepting students who do not plan to pursue ordination in The Episcopal Church for more than 10 years, and the appointment of Bishop Rodgers is reflective of the multi-denominational character of the seminary alumni.

    Link to story
    Link to Trinity homepage

    Brown to Abp. Williams: Get a Spine

    Over on the Comment Is Free group blog, Guardian columnist Andrew Brown issues a challenge to the Archbishop of Canterbury in light of Akinola's call to boycott Lambeth: Stand up for yourself, Rowan.

    Taken at face value, this suggests that he and all his bishops will boycott the whole conference unless their invasion of the US is ratified by Dr Williams. There is no doubt that Akinola thinks of himself as the true leader of the Anglican communion, and Dr Williams as a pathetic post-colonial relic. Although Dr Akinola has several times trembled on the brink of marching right out of the Anglican communion, he has not so far had to choose whether this is what he really wants. "He [Williams] will do whatever we tell him to", he was overheard telling one of his advisers at an earlier meeting; but this arrogance is what Dr Williams is banking on. If there is a long-term plan to hold the Anglican churches more or less together, it is based on the belief that most of them would much rather not be led by Dr Williams than by whipped about by Dr Akinola.

    But is there such a plan at all? Or is the simple explanation for this subtle man the right one? This is the question the Nigerian boycott threat will answer. Now that the threat has been made, it can't be withdrawn without someone backing down; in Dr Akinola's eyes, the obvious someone will be Dr Williams. There are 14 months before the conference; 14 months in which every effort possible will be made to bully him out of his original decision.


    Dr Williams caved in over Jeffrey John in July 2003, nearly four years ago; we will find out soon enough if he has learned anything from the experience. If he has not, and if he caves in once more, no one will ever listen to him again. Why should we care what he believes about anything if we know he won't stand up for it?

    Read the whole thing.

    Summer reading

    A few weeks ago, I made note of a book that one of my fellow RevGals/Episcopal Cafe contributors (Hat tip: Jennifer MacKenzie+) had recommended to me. I went scooting off to the public library only to find it wasn't in the collection. So, I did two things: told the library to get it (which it did), and bought a copy for myself—and promptly lost it, because I've been moving for what feels like forever.

    This weekend, I found it—and discovered that a lot of people seem to be talking about it. Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion, by Sara Miles, is a faith memoir of astonishing honesty:

    Mine is a personal story of an unexpected and terribly inconvenient Christian conversion, told by a very unlikely convert: a blue-state, secular intellectual; a lesbian, a left-wing journalist with a habit of skepticism. I'm not the person my reporter colleagues ever expected to see exchanging blessings with street-corner evangelists. I'm hardly the person George Bush had in mind to be running a “faith-based charity.” My own family never imagined that I'd wind up preaching the Word of God and serving communion to a hymn-singing flock.

    Father Jake has some more quotes and commentary on his impressions after reading half the book, but poking around, LOTS of people are talking about this book. It was featured on the PBS show Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, and you can find an excerpt from the interview and a link to the report here.

    Sarx makes an important point about the book's focus: "...what should call every Christian or, indeed, every religious person, is not 'How did this Atheist get religion?' but rather what she did with it once it gets her."

    The great question, of course, for many readers of the Cafe who look into this book may be what Communion in Conflict blogger Marshall Montgomery calls an ecclesiastical disobedience, much like civil disobedience, and one that Tom Sramek Jr. notes in his post welcoming the book to his to-read pile:

    However, the non-traditional part of this story for me was that Sara was both offered and received the Eucharist prior to being baptized, which is both a rubrical and canonical no-no in the Episcopal Church. Not that it isn't done, it just isn't supposed to be done! Yet, this non-rubrical, non-canonical reception of the Eucharist was the occasion for a person's conversion.

    This is bound to get people talking about the question of "Open Communion," and has already opened several hearts to a new point of view.

    Michael Bayly has excerpts from The National Catholic Reporter's Review of the book here.

    The Revealer has a review here.

    And it you're still hungry, take a look at just how many people are talking about this book, here.

    Orombi Stands by Road to Lambeth

    The Church of Uganda has conditioned its RSVP to its invitation to Lambeth 2008:

    In response to the recent announcement that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Rowan Williams, has sent out invitations to the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Bishops, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, made this statement:

    On 9th December 2006, the House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda, meeting in Mbale, resolved unanimously to support the CAPA Road to Lambeth statement, which, among other things, states, “We will definitely not attend any Lambeth Conference to which the violators of the Lambeth Resolution are also invited as participants or observers.”

    We note that all the American Bishops who consented to, participated in, and have continued to support the consecration as bishop of a man living in a homosexual relationship have been invited to the Lambeth Conference. These are Bishops who have violated the Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which rejects “homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture” and “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions.”

    Accordingly, the House of Bishops of the Church of Uganda stands by its resolve to uphold the Road to Lambeth.

    The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi


    Emphasis added.

    UPDATE: The Primate of the Southern Cone in South America, Archbishop Gregory Venables, told The Daily Telegraph: “It is a mess. Unless there is a major shift there are going to be significant absences from Lambeth.”
    Read the rest HERE

    Episcopal Life provides context.

    Free Will and Brain Chemistry

    Evidence continues to accumulate that the brain rewards certain behaviors and that we respond to those incentives. The Washington Post reports:

    The results were showing that when the volunteers placed the interests of others before their own, the generosity activated a primitive part of the brain that usually lights up in response to food or sex. Altruism, the experiment suggested, was not a superior moral faculty that suppresses basic selfish urges but rather was basic to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable.

    Their 2006 finding that unselfishness can feel good lends scientific support to the admonitions of spiritual leaders such as Saint Francis of Assisi, who said, "For it is in giving that we receive." But it is also a dramatic example of the way neuroscience has begun to elbow its way into discussions about morality and has opened up a new window on what it means to be good.
    The more researchers learn, the more it appears that the foundation of morality is empathy. Being able to recognize -- even experience vicariously -- what another creature is going through was an important leap in the evolution of social behavior. And it is only a short step from this awareness to many human notions of right and wrong, says Jean Decety, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago.

    The research enterprise has been viewed with interest by philosophers and theologians, but already some worry that it raises troubling questions. Reducing morality and immorality to brain chemistry -- rather than free will -- might diminish the importance of personal responsibility. Even more important, some wonder whether the very idea of morality is somehow degraded if it turns out to be just another evolutionary tool that nature uses to help species survive and propagate.
    Joshua D. Greene, a Harvard neuroscientist and philosopher, said multiple experiments suggest that morality arises from basic brain activities. Morality, he said, is not a brain function elevated above our baser impulses. Greene said it is not "handed down" by philosophers and clergy, but "handed up," an outgrowth of the brain's basic propensities.
    Marc Hauser, another Harvard researcher, has used cleverly designed psychological experiments to study morality. He said his research has found that people all over the world process moral questions in the same way, suggesting that moral thinking is intrinsic to the human brain, rather than a product of culture.

    These results turn previous brain chemistry arguments about homosexuality on their head.

    Compare these results to the strong evidence that sexual preference is hard wired. That, to my mind, is not an argument that homosexuality is moral; that argument has to be made on other grounds. Otherwise, we have given away the notion that we are responsible for any behaviors that are preference driven.

    What about this evidence that moral decisionmaking is brain chemistry driven? It could be that the cultural and religious proscriptions of homosexuality have their roots in survival of the species through propogation. These mores do not fit today's world.

    Clone Me a Bishop

    The Right Rev. Steven Charleston recently gave two McMichael Lectures at St. Paul, Fayetteville. The Morning News reports:

    He takes a positive view of conflict, seeing diversity of beliefs and human passion as strengths.

    "In the midst of our frustration and debate, we are, in fact, becoming the community God called us to be."

    God created humans with free will, Charleston said. Christians must combine faith and common sense to forge a future that serves the whole.

    That doesn't mean coming to agreement on issues that divide us, Charleston said. Often, people think of resolution in just such a way. They advance their position over and over in the hope others finally will see the light. Yet proponents of the other side have the same hope.

    "We need to develop a larger vision," Charleston said. "When will this be resolved? When will they see it our way? Maybe never."

    Reaching consensus on a deeply felt issue such as abortion will likely never happen, Charleston said. Yet the impasse itself points to a course of action.

    "We have an inalienable right as humans to have dignity for our opinions, to be respected for our opinions, no matter what," Charleston said. "That's what I bought into when I became a disciple of Jesus."

    People don't have to resolve the debate. Rather, they need to develop an ethic of respect that transcends differences.

    "Do you respect the dignity of every human being?" Charleston asked, slowing the flow of words to ask the question again. "Can men and women live and work together even when we don't agree?

    "This is the question of the century, the trajectory of where we are headed as a human race. So many people answer 'no.'"

    Fear is rising in the world, the bishop said. There's a renewed mentality of "us" versus "them." He reviewed centuries of hatred, bigotry and war in the name of God and the repeated hope that humanity has passed that stage of evolution.

    "Hello, welcome to this century where religion is back with a vengeance," Charleston said. "Welcome back to the same sad history we've played out for hundreds of generations."

    Read it all. More about the McMichael Lecture Series here.

    Lord Carey Undercuts Williams

    Thinking Anglicans provides this snip from a letter Lord Carey has written to the Church of England Newspaper:

    Sir, Kenneth Kearon suggests (CEN May 25) that the decision not to invite AMiA bishops, or the recently consecrated CANA Bishop, to the Lambeth Conference relates to a precedent I set in 2000…

    …This, of course, was before 2003 when the Episcopal Church clearly signalled its abandonment of Communion norms, in spite of warnings from the Primates that the consecration of a practising homosexual bishop would ‘tear the fabric of the Communion’. It is not too much to say that everything has changed in the Anglican Communion as a result of the consecration of Gene Robinson.

    The Archbishop of Canterbury’s prerogative to invite bishops to the Conference is a lonely, personal and important task. Before each Conference a number of careful decisions have to be taken, with the focus being on the well-being of the Communion. The circumstances facing each Archbishop of Canterbury will vary according to the needs of the hour. For these reasons, I believe, that Dr Rowan Williams should not regard the advice he has evidently received that this matter is ‘fixed’ as necessarily binding on him in the very different circumstances of 2007.

    The Church of England Newspaper is available here ($. weekly edition).

    Is it unprecedented for a former Archbishop of Canterbury to publicly chastise his successor?

    UPDATE: Here's an argument for not inviting CANA and AMiA bishops. It was written by Carey in 2000. Thanks to Thinking Anglicans for the pointer.

    Global Center: Celebrate Anglican Diversity

    The Rev. Francisco Silva, Secretary General of the Anglican Church of Brazil (IEAB), reports on the recent meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica of the Latin American and Caribbean Anglican Bishops. They have issued a Statement on the Anglican Communion. Silva writes that some of the more important points that characterize the Anglican tradition were reaffirmed. Some of the highlights:

    We exhorted our Communion to preserve its partaking nature, diversified, wide and inclusive, characteristics that we consider essential to our Tradition and that constitute our main contribution to the Christian tradition.

    At our meeting fellowship, we perceived that we defend different positions on the issues that today are discussed within our Communion. However, we also experienced our plurality and diversity like wealth and growth sources, and not as controversy and division causes.

    We invite all our brothers and sisters in the bishopric, as well as to all the clergy members and lay people that are identified with this vision, to unite us to work indeed by the reconciliation, interdependence and unit in the diversity in our faith family, and thus to preserve the valuable legacy of which we are trustees and guardians.

    This Statement constitutes in an innequivocal (sic) call to the whole Communion to overcome the intolerance and rediscover the richness of our diversity. Distinct perceptions concerning the human sexuality are not essential to define who is or not ortodox. We cannot let the fundamentalism destroy the Spirit - who is dynamic and updates every time and every generation the God's project for the world.

    The Anglican Communion survival - if it still exists - will depend on our capacity of recovering the unity in the diversity. We are responsible in continue Jesus's ministry who always welcomed all people. We need remind that orthodoxy became the biggest opponent of Jesus de Nazaré and the fundamentalism condemned it!

    Read it all at Kantinho Do Rev.

    Bias in Media

    Media Matters reports that news of religion quotes conservative voices 2.7 times more often in the print and 3.8 times as often on major network television, including PBS.

    "Left Behind: The Skewed Respresentation of Religion in Major News Media"
    It would surprise few people, conservative or progressive, to learn that coverage of the intersection of religion and politics tends to oversimplify both. If this oversimplification occurred to the benefit or detriment of neither side of the political divide, then the weaknesses in coverage of religion would be of only academic interest. But as this study documents, coverage of religion not only overrepresents some voices and underrepresents others, it does so in a way that is consistently advantageous to conservatives.

    As in many areas, the decisions journalists make when deciding which voices to include in their stories have serious consequences. What is the picture of religious opinion? Who is a religious leader? Whose views represent important groups of believers? Every time a journalist writes a story, he or she answers these questions by deciding whom to quote and how to characterize their views.

    Religion is often depicted in the news media as a politically divisive force, with two sides roughly paralleling the broader political divide: On one side are cultural conservatives who ground their political values in religious beliefs; and on the other side are secular liberals, who have opted out of debates that center on religion-based values. The truth, however is far different: close to 90 percent of Americans today self-identify as religious, while only 22 percent belong to traditionalist sects. Yet in the cultural war depicted by news media as existing across religious lines, centrist and progressive voices are marginalized or absent altogether.

    In order to begin to assess how the news media paint the picture of religion in America today, this study measured the extent to which religious leaders, both conservative and progressive, are quoted, mentioned, and interviewed in the news media.

    Among the study's key findings:
    Combining newspapers and television, conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed in news stories 2.8 times as often as were progressive religious leaders.
    On television news -- the three major television networks, the three major cable new channels, and PBS -- conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed almost 3.8 times as often as progressive leaders.
    In major newspapers, conservative religious leaders were quoted, mentioned, or interviewed 2.7 times as often as progressive leaders.

    Despite the fact most religious Americans are moderate or progressive, in the news media it is overwhelmingly conservative leaders who are presented as the voice of religion. This represents a particularly meaningful distortion since progressive religious leaders tend to focus on different issues and offer an entirely different perspective than their conservative counterparts.

    For the complete report Click Here

    UPDATE: bloggers Richard in Caught by the Light and Fr. Jake of Father Jake Stops the World have timelines to assist working with reporters. One in pdf.

    A Great Time to Be an Episcopalian

    Responding to comments on her article in God's Politics: a blog by Jim Wallis and Friends on BeliefNet, Diana Butler Bass writes about her love for the Episcopal Church and its ability to engage tough questions.

    I don't often jump into the comments, but my church--The Episcopal Church--does NOT thumb its nose at non-western brothers and sisters on matters of faith. The Episcopal Church has been greatly enriched by a willingness over the years to learn from our global friends, an opennesss to non-western theologies and political expressions of the Gospel.

    In Episcopal pews (not the desks of the evangelical seminary from which I graduated, one that was relentlessly Euro-centric--even to to point of ridiculing the rest of the world), I first learned various African, South American, and Asian theologies, heard the voices of African and Asian preachers, prayed the liturgies of Native New Zealanders, Native Americans, South Africans, and Indians. As a church we weren't always historically very sensitive--and too often outright oppressive--but, overall, we learned from our mistakes and have been moving toward a much more generous theological vision, one that includes the insights, perspectives, struggles, and hopes of the God's beautifully diverse world.

    That said, the Episcopal Church is struggling with SOME African, South American, and Asian church leaders at the moment over one issue: What is a deeply Christian understanding of sexual identity? (Although we probably should be struggling over the roles of women and children, the sex trade, poverty, and political oppression, too--if we were as faithful as we should be). That one issue, and the myriad of cultures in which the question is being addressed, should in no way obscure what has been, over the last half century, an increasing open, charitable, and mutually beneficial relationship between members of a great communion of Christians across the West and well beyond.

    If we were just snubbing the non-western churches, this all wouldn't hurt so much. And, if you doubt me, ask any Episcopalian--even the most theologically liberal, pro-gay ordination one you can find--and ask how terribly painful, conscience-stirring, and prayerful this all has been. Nothing that has happened in the last six years has been done in the trivial, dismissive way your post suggests.

    But pain doesn't go away by ceasing to be one's authentic self in God in order to please other people and make conflict disappear. Diversity, and true openness to diversity, will always cause conflict and tension because we are all different--even if we all live into the baptism acclamation that Jesus is Lord. Indeed, conflict suggests that people take one another more seriously than not (I fight with my husband more than anyone else!) and suggests that, as a church, the Episcopal Church has genuinely opened itself to being a true partner in global Christianity. We are trying to find ourselves in ubuntu theology--the theology expressed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu--that "I am a person insofar as you are a person." In mutual humanity, we find wonder, love, and God.

    As we have opened to others and their voices and visions of God, we have also found God in new ways in our own midst--with our unique voice, history, and perspective. Indeed, being able to listen to people from the rest of world taught me how to listen to my closest neighbors--including my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. To communicate the biblical passions of the American Episcopal Church, our historical experience, spiritual insights, and the pain of our prayers is our vocation in the midst of all this global change. It is a noble task, even if we don't always get it just right.

    And the struggle makes it a great time to be an Episcopalian. You can't avoid tough questions, you have to know what you believe, you have to delve into God's embracing heart of love and justice. Frankly, as churches go, it is a really pretty good one (How's that for a church sign? "The Really Pretty Good Church"). You just wouldn't know that from the partisan blogosphere or from reading the New York Times.
    Diana Butler Bass, Homepage, 05.30.07 - 4:13 pm | #

    Name It and Claim It

    Episcopalians in The Falls Church, VA, who did not vote to leave the Episcopal denomination last December have stepped in to claim the historic name of the church, and are now calling their on-going worship and outreach efforts The Falls Church Episcopal Church according to The Falls Church Gazette. "Representatives of the church set up a booth at Monday’s Falls Church Memorial Day Parade and Festival and distributed hundreds of colorful brochures emphasizing an open and welcoming posture and describing about their activities."

    Read it all HERE

    The Now and Future Anglican Communion

    Commentary, letters, and meetings are focusing on life after Lambeth 2008. From New Mexico to Europe to Pittsburgh, bishops are talking about the "now and future church."

    The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon of the American Churches in Europe writes in Blogging Bishop about his recent attendance at the House of Bishops of the Church of England meeting in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, UK. Many topics were discussed, the invitations from the Archbishop of Canterbury to Lambeth 2008 was one of interest. The timing of the letters was seen to be a function of organizational needs for such a large conference. Lessons learned from the "organizational nightmare" of Lambeth 1998 require early invites. Some other notes from Bishop Whalon:

    Second, the letter states that the Archbishop is still taking counsel for one or two cases. This means that no bishops of the Communion has been “uninvited,” yet. I am firmly convinced that Bishop Gene Robinson will be asked to participate. The question is, under what status? That remains to be negotiated. The Windsor Report had mandated that Rowan Williiams not to invite him at all. Clearly the Archbishop wants to find a way forward despite that.
    Third, the case of the bishop for the Convocation of Nigerian Churches in America, Martyn Minns, was not discussed at all.
    What this all means will probably not become clear until the Conference is over in August 2008. Even then people will be spending considerable time after that to understand all the ramifications.
    Read the rest Here

    The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey Steenson of the Diocese of Rio Grande (New Mexico and some of western Texas) writes a letter to his clergy about steps he and the DRG Standing Committee and Council are taking to prepare for the future. He shares the resolutions that were approved by Diocesan leadership and notes that the House of Bishops Theology Committee

    "will be publishing a study guide to the primates’ Communiqué, entitled “Communion Matters.” That we were able to accomplish this was certainly a pleasant surprise to me. I believe you will find it to be an honest and helpful tool to use in a discussion forum, so that your people might better understand what the fuss is all about. Printed and online editions should soon be available at the website of The Episcopal Church

    On another side of Planet Anglican Mark Harris at Preludium reports:
    Bishops from the Anglican Communion Network, the Anglican Mission in the Americas (including the Anglican Coalition in Canada), the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the Anglican Network in Canada, the Anglican Province of America, Forward in Faith North America and the Reformed Episcopal Church are invited to attend the first-ever Common Cause Council of Bishops in Pittsburgh, PA, September 25–28. Two of the Common Cause Partners, the American Anglican Council and Anglican Essentials Canada, are not ecclesial jurisdictions and do not have bishops. Several other Anglican jurisdictions are currently in the membership process.

    “By the time we meet, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church will have given its response to the Anglican Communion as to its decision to ‘walk apart.’ By contrast, I expect our gathering to signal a new level of ‘walking together’ both with each other and with the wider Anglican world,” wrote Anglican Communion Network Moderator and Common Cause convener Bishop Robert Duncan. The meeting, said Bishop Duncan, is the result of many years of work toward Anglican unity, work responding to resolutions of both the Lambeth Conference of Bishops and The Episcopal Church’s General Convention.

    Bishop Duncan went on to describe the purpose of the gathering as fivefold.
    Read the article from the Anglican Communion Network HERE

    Stayed tuned for "As The Anglican World Turns" or "Days of Our Anglican Lives"

    Religious Conflict in Nigeria

    A wide angle view of Nigeria and religion emerges from religious scholars and Nigeria experts gathered in a symposium to discuss the current religious climate. The Episcopal Church has been focused on the Church of Nigeria in the Anglican Communion. It is helpful to see the Anglican Church in the context of its religious neighbors. Six out of ten Christians identify as Pentecostal. While Muslims for the most part tolerate Roman Catholics, Protestants and Evangelicals, the Pentecostal emphasis on conversion has put them in conflict with Muslims and other Christian groups.

    The Council on Foreign Relations hosted a symposium on religious conflict in Nigeria, May 8, 2007. The symposium offers insight into what is called “the most intensely religious population in the world.” The panelists examined the political compromises that maintain relative stability in Nigeria.

    Before independence about 30% of the population were neither Christian nor Muslim. Currently Christianity claims growth from 21% in 1950 to 48% today. Now about 1% belong to neither faith and about 51% are Muslim. Recent elections revealed widespread rigging and irregularities but did not cause religious or ethnic strife.

    Other findings included:
    *There is not as much religious conflict as one might expect.
    *When religious conflicts do arise, they often have political or economic roots.
    *There are many different “brands” within each faith.
    *The rise of religion can be directly linked to the weakness of the Nigerian state.
    *Religion is only one of many Nigerian identities
    *There is no religious component to conflict in the Niger Delta. (contrary to US press reports)
    *However, oil wealth plays a role in religious tensions.
    *The political system is designed to mitigate religious and ethnic conflict.
    *The political system suffers from a crisis of governance as well as power sharing.

    The summary of the symposium is HERE in pdf.

    Transcripts and video and audio of the entire symposium can be found HERE

    Conservative Revisionism?

    Scott Gunn at Inclusive Church blog has done his history homework on former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey. Comparing "then" with "now" he finds "there is a bit of conservative revisionism going on with respect to Anglican polity. Witness Carey's two letters. In one, he unequivocally supports unity, and in the next, he implies that those conservative bishops who would imperil unity should be invited to Lambeth."

    In Lord Carey's letter of 2000 he says:

    "To talk of the Primates disciplining the Episcopal Church of the USA or any other Province for that matter, goes far beyond the brief of the Primates' Meeting." After noting that Lambeth resolution 1.10 "reflects the traditional teaching of the church," and "Nevertheless, in many parts of the Communion, faithful Christians, some of whom are homosexual themselves, are seeking to engage the Church in a challenging reassessment of its teaching on human sexuality, because they have felt excluded from the Church for many years. I believe that it is wholly in the spirit of the resolution, and that is why the Presiding Bishop of ECUSA and I set up an international conversation between bishops of different views, an experiment which was so successful that it will meet again later this year. I have also sought to encourage such conversations more locally as well."
    Carey reminded the Communion that "we must guard against the risk of allowing one issue to divert all our attention from the primary task of mission to which we are called."

    This week in 2007, Lord Carey says,
    "It is not too much to say that everything has changed in the Anglican Communion as a result of the consecration of Gene Robinson." and he now writes that ECUSA "clearly signalled its abandonment of Communion norms, in spite of warnings from the Primates that the consecration of a practising homosexual bishop would 'tear the fabric of the Communion'."

    Scott Gunn comments: "That's a marked contrast from a consultative, advisory notion of the Primates' Meetings. Now Carey is suggesting that ECUSA can itself be marginalized because of disregard of the Anglican curia. Now, I should also point out that there are plenty of "practicing homosexual bishops" in the Communion. What distinguished +Gene Robinson was his openness and honesty."
    Gunn's point? "My point is that there is a bit of conservative revisionism going on with respect to Anglican polity. Witness Carey's two letters. In one, he unequivocally supports unity, and in the next, he implies that those conservative bishops who would imperil unity should be invited to Lambeth."

    Read it all Here

    Plurality and Diversity Rich Source for Growth

    The Lead featured commentary and excerpts from this letter from the Anglican Bishops of the Global Center. Here is the translation of the entire letter from Episcopal Life Online

    Declaration of the Anglican Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean (Global Center)

    "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:2-3

    "By this all men would now that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35

    We the Anglican Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, who sign below, gathered in San Jose, Costa Rica from the 18 to 22 of May 2007, renew and ratify our position proposed in Panama, better known as the Global Center, in which we call the Communion to preserve its participative nature, diverse, ample and inclusive, characteristics which we consider essential to Anglicanism and at the same time our contribution to the Christian tradition.

    Since our last meeting, our concern has grown because of the polarization regarding the biblical and theological positions manifested in the Anglican Communion, during the last years; positions known as Global North and Global South, non reconcilable in their character and putting the unity in the Communion at risk.

    In the midst of this painful controversy, we do not identify with either side, because they don't fully represent the spirit of our thoughts.

    It has been proven in our relations that we greatly represent the plurality and diversity that are universal characteristics of Anglicanism and that we hold different positions on the themes that are presently discussed in the Communion. However, we have also experienced that the plurality and diversity we represent has become a rich source for growth, rather than a cause for controversy and division.

    We unanimously express our determination to remain united as members of the same family and will continue to come to the Lord's Table, together.

    We invite our brothers and sisters in the episcopate, as well as all the members of the Clergy and laity who identify with this vision, to join together and work for an effective reconciliation, interdependence and unity in the diversity of our family of faith and so preserve the valuable legacy of which we are guardians.

    As disciples of Jesus, called to live out the mandate of love (St. John 15:17), we declare our commitment to be together and with all our strength, struggle for unity, as an act of obedience to His will expressed in the Holy Scriptures. Trusting that the Holy Spirit, whose descent we are about to celebrate on the Feast of Pentecost, will guide and strengthen us on such a difficult journey.

    The experience of these few days confirms our conviction that, we will make it with God's blessings. Of this, we are sure and now we return to our dioceses comforted and full of joy and hope.

    San José-Costa Rica, May 2007.

    The Rt. Rev. Mauricio Andrade
    Diócesis de Brasilia, Brasil

    The Rt. Rev. Carlos Touché Porter
    Diócesis de Mexico

    The Rt. Rev. Martin Barahona
    Diócesis de El Salvador

    The Rt. Rev. Lloyd Allen
    Diócesis de Honduras
    Province IX President TEC

    The Rt. Rev. Jubal Neves
    Diócesis South Ocidental, Brasil

    The Rt. Rev. Naudal Gomez
    Diócesis de Curitiva, Brasil

    The Rt. Rev. Sebastiao Gamaleira
    Diócesis de Recife, Brasil

    The Rt. Rev. Filadelfo Oliveira
    Diócesis de Recife, Brasil

    The Rt. Rev. Orlando Santos de Oliveira
    Diócesis Meridional, Brasil

    The Rt. Rev. Armando Guerra Soria
    Diócesis de Guatemala

    The Rt. Rev. Julio E. Murray
    Diócesis de Panamá

    The Rt. Rev. Héctor Monterroso
    Diócesis de Costa Rica

    The Rt. Rev. Lino Rodríguez
    Diócesis del Occidente de México

    The Rt. Rev. Benito Juárez
    Diócesis del Sureste de México

    The Rt. Rev. Francisco Duque
    Diócesis de Colombia

    The Rt. Rev. Alfredo Morante
    Diócesis de litoral, Ecuador

    The Rt. Rev. Orlando Guerrero
    Diócesis de Venezuela

    The Rt. Rev. Miguel Tamayo
    Diócesis de Uruguay y Diócesis de Cuba

    The Rt. Rev. Wilfredo Ramos
    Diócesis de Ecuador Central

    The Rt. Rev. Julio Cesar Olguín
    Diócesis de República Dominica

    The Rt. Rev. José Antonio Ramos
    Retired Bishop

    Episcopal Life Online story here.

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