GAFCON: even more news and analysis

National Public Radio is on the case, as are the Anglican Scotist, the Modern Churchpeople's Union and Michael and Susan, the unrelated Russells.

(Update: Inclusive Church has weighed in. So has Commonweal.)

The Scotist is especially insightful:

The very fact that the Communique makes GAFCON's essential activity out to be catholic border crossing & poaching shows that GAFCON is too weak to sustain schism at the level of the Communion and that right wingers in the US and Canada are too weak to sustain schism on their own without help from abroad. The best that can be done--after five years of turmoil--is a redoubling of efforts to create a vampire, a province in North America "parallel" in some sense to those already there whose life comes from stealing the life of the provinces already there.

Michael Russell is also wise about the weaknesses of this movement:

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The 39 Articles

The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (an acronym too far) "uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today."

Anglicans Online provides the articles. What do you make of this one:

XVII. Of Predestination and Election. Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God's purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.

As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: So, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's Predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.

Furthermore, we must receive God's promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.

Anglo-Catholics will want to have a good look at this one:

XXV. Of the Sacraments. Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God's good will towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in him.

There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.

Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures, but yet have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord's Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.

The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, they have a wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as Saint Paul saith.

And this bit of Article 27:

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.

And who knew that allegiance to civil authority, support of the death penalty and a repudiation of pacifism figured so centrally in our current struggles.

Article 37:XXXVII. Of the Power of the Civil Magistrates. The Power of the Civil Magistrate extendeth to all men, as well Clergy as Laity, in all things temporal; but hath no authority in things purely spiritual. And we hold it to be the duty of all men who are professors of the Gospel, to pay respectful obedience to the Civil Authority, regularly and legitimately constituted.

The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article reads as follows: "The King's Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other his Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign Jurisdiction. Where we attribute to the King's Majesty the chief government, by which Titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended; we give not our Princes the ministering either of God's Word, or of the Sacraments, the which thing the Injunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our Queen do most plainly testify; but that only prerogative, which we see to have been given always to all godly Princes in holy Scriptures by God himself; that is, that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evil-doers.

The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.

The Laws of the Realm may punish Christian men with death, for heinous and grievous offences.

It is lawful for Christian men, at the commandment of the Magistrate, to wear weapons, and serve in the wars."

Still, as Andrew Brown points out on the Guardian's Web site:

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Thanks for visiting

We're growing.

Last June, Episcopal Cafe received 93,700 visits from 20,770 computers, and those visitors looked at 220,000 pages.

This June we received more than 135,000 visits from 48,800 computers, and those visitors looked at more than 409,000 pages. We've never broken 400,000 page views before, so permit us a moment of celebration.


Oh, yeah, our Facebook group just hit the 500 mark.

Okay, back to work.

GAFCON: yet, still, even more

Responses from far and wide

Bishop Tom Butler of Southwark writes:

It is maintained that there is a North/South division. This is nonsense. The African primates attending Gafcon came from a narrow tropical belt. The majority of African primates were not there and the language of the manifesto would be anathema to other influential African church figures such as Desmond Tutu. Reading the manifesto, you would form the impression that the other Anglicans had moved away from the core beliefs of the Church, grounded in scripture. This, too, is nonsense.

The Most Rev. Phillip Aspinall, Primate of Australia, thinks the conservatives should attend the Lambeth Conference, "if they regard themselves as Anglicans, which I understand they do."

Theo Hobson believes conservatives are "moving in for the kill." Robert Pigott conjectures they're "hoping to lie in wait."

Meanwhile, there was a dust-up at the meeting of conservative clergy and prelates at a London church when a gay rights group demanded entrance.

But don't get the wrong idea. Archbishop Peter Jensen says that just because GAFCONS leaders want gays and lesbians put in jail, and can't bring themselves to condemn violence against them, that doesn't mean they are homophobic.

The hunt for evangelical endorsements

The New York Times' examines Barack Obama's courtship of evangelical voters who cast their ballots for George Bush, and notes that it has been met "by an increasingly intense reaction from the religious right."

Part of Obama's outreach entails a reworking (to put it mildly) of Bush's initiative to aid faith-based social service providers.

Meanwhile Richard Cohen of The Washington Post believes that the quest for endorsements from religious organizations is warping our politics.

He writes:

Read more »

Thanking God for Charles Darwin

The Rev. Michael Dowd writes:

July 1st marks the 150th anniversary of the theory of evolution. For years, I believed that Darwin was of the devil. Now, I deeply honor his contribution to religion and my walk with God. Indeed, other than Jesus, no one has had a more positive impact on my faith and my ministry than has Charles Darwin.

Hat tip: Dallas Morning News Religion blog.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation follows the money

Listen as Stephen Crittenden of ABC radio's Religion Report interviews Thomas Oden of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, Jim Naughton, editor of Episcopal Cafe and others for a program on the roots of the recent GAFCON meeting in Jerusalem and its implications for the Anglican Church in Australia.

A transcript is also available.

What do your bumper stickers reveal about you?

Watch out for cars with bumper stickers.

That's the surprising conclusion of a recent study by Colorado State University social psychologist William Szlemko. Drivers of cars with bumper stickers, window decals, personalized license plates and other "territorial markers" not only get mad when someone cuts in their lane or is slow to respond to a changed traffic light, but they are far more likely than those who do not personalize their cars to use their vehicles to express rage -- by honking, tailgating and other aggressive behavior.

It does not seem to matter whether the messages on the stickers are about peace and love -- "Visualize World Peace," "My Kid Is an Honor Student" -- or angry and in your face -- "Don't Mess With Texas," "My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student."
Szlemko and his colleagues at Fort Collins found that people who personalize their cars acknowledge that they are aggressive drivers, but usually do not realize that they are reporting much higher levels of aggression than people whose cars do not have visible markers on their vehicles.

Read more »

London GAFCON rally

Leaders of GAFCON took their manifesto to England yesterday at a gathering of 750 at All Souls in Central London. Thinking Anglicans, as usual, does a thorough roundup. Riazat Butt provides what is perhaps the most balanced report:

Read more »

Obama reaches out to Christians on the left

Brian McLaren - who will be at Lambeth July 19-24 - is quoted in this CNN story on Obama's move to mobilize Christians on the left, and not so left:

Read more »

Canadian Primate responds to GAFCON


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Canon Cameron echoes Archbishop Williams

On June 17th The Rev. Canon Gregory Cameron delivered the Hellins Lecture in the Diocese of St. Asaph (Wales) on the subject of Anglicanism and the future of the communion. Read it all here (12 pages). Thanks go to Ruth Gledhill for making the lecture publicly available.

Cameron is Deputy Secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council and has been deeply involved in the development of an Anglican covenant. He served as Rowan Williams' chaplain before Williams became Archbishop of Canterbury. Who knows; perhaps it gives some hint of the Lambeth agenda.

His lecture is a call for self examination by partisans on both sides. Without explicit citation of the biblical references, Cameron channels some of what Williams said in the closing paragraph of his response to the GAFCON statement to "wait for one another" (I Cor 11.33) and to remember the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matt. 13.29). Of course those determined to find see in it support for their view, or ammunition to use will do so.

The lecture preceded the meeting in Jerusalem, but shows insight into what would be forthcoming:

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Running the numbers

According to conference planners, more than 650 bishops have registered for the Lambeth Conference. That's slightly more than three-quarters of the invitees. A small number of sees are vacant, and some bishops have scheduling conflicts or simply cannot attend. It is difficult to learn which absentees are part of the Nigerian-led boycott, and which simply aren't coming, but the boycott may account for some 20 percent of potential attendees.

The leaders of GAFCON claimed that some 280 bishops attended their gathering in Jerusalem, but in a telephone press conference on Monday, Bishop Martyn Minns was unable to say how many of that number were diocesan bishops currently in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. If the figure included signficant numbers of retired bishops, assisting bishops and bishops of groups that have never been part of the Anglican Communion, it is highly misleading. Daniel Burke of Religion News Service was the only member of the media who thought to question it, and it was his question that elicited Minns' response.

According to a recent paper by the Rev. Gregory Cameron, deputy secretary general of the Anglican Communion, some 140 of the bishops who were at GAFCON (and, one assumes, won't be at Lambeth) are Nigerians. If his numbers are right, Nigerians account for not quite two-thirds of the bishops who, for whatever reason, won't be at Lambeth.

I will stop the world no more

The Rev. Terry Martin, better known as Father Jake to tens of thousands of fans in the Anglican blogosphere, announced last night that he is closing down his blog to pursue some new possibilities. He will be deeply missed, especially by the hundreds of people who regularly left comments at what became a spirited, sometimes raucous online community.

"Jake's place," as he called it, was the best spot on the internet to get in touch with what was happening among the liberal net roots of the Episcopal Church, to read a vigorous, sustained defense of the Church's efforts to include gay and lesbian Christians in its life and leadership, and to find sometimes scathing indictments of the tactics of the Church's adversaries, both within and without.

But Jake also called his audience to prayer, to contemplation and to self-examination, eager that in resisting extremism he and his readers not become extremists themselves. His was among the four or five most influential sites in the online Anglican world, and his departure will create a vacuum that won't quickly (or perhaps simply won't) be filled.

Good bye Jake, and hello Terry. We know our paths will cross again, perhaps even run parallel from time to time as you plan your future. In the wake of General Convention 2003, when it seemed that Church Center was unwilling to support what its General Convention had done, you stepped in and helped the majority of faithful Episcopalians find their voice and make it heard. Your blog has been a rallying point for people who have wondered about the courage of their leaders' convictions and were appalled by the rhetoric and behavior of some of the Anglican Communion's self-appointed saviors. You helped people sustain hope, not only through your eloquent advocacy, but by putting them in touch with one another--giving them a place to meet and to find solace and strength in one another's company.

Nice work buddy. Our daily trips through the Anglican blogosphere will be briefer, and less enjoyable, but we know you will be building the Kingdom using other tools.

(Mark Harris also has some new plans, although Preludium isn't going anywhere.)

Lambeth Conference: the official release

(Editor's note: see boldfacing below)

ACNS, London , 3 July 2008

Timely issues to be addressed in “purposeful” discussion in Canterbury

The Secretary of the Lambeth Conference, the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon has written a letter to the bishops attending the forthcoming Canterbury meeting outlining the form of discussion leading to “Reflections” that will mark the process of sharing what the Conference wishes to share with the wider church at its conclusion.

The programme indicates that issues and themes cover a vast array of serious matters such as Gender Violence, Sexuality, Environment, the Anglican Covenant and mission and evangelisation.

The Lambeth Conference is not synod or convention, but a gathering of bishops and spouses under the theme “Equipping Bishops for Mission”.

The letter says, “Among the desired outcomes anticipated by this diverse group from across the Communion was not so much debates, position papers , votes and resolutions but participation on an equal footing, listening as well as speaking and the emergence of wisdom and a common mind.”

The Primate of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, proposed to the Lambeth Design Group (LDG) and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the concept of Indaba, which was readily adopted by the Archbishop Williams and will form the way the bishops will work together during their time in Canterbury.

Indaba is a Zulu word for a gathering for purposeful discussion and is both a process and method of engagement, and offers a way of listening to one another concerning challenges that face the Anglican Communion.

Each Indaba group will nominate one of their group whom they believe to be most capable of carrying their views and the fruit of their discussion into the reflections process. Their ‘Listener’ joins a Listening Group under the chairmanship of Archbishop Roger Herft of Perth, in Western Australia.

Canon Kearon states, “Working with the summaries of the fruit of Indaba arising from each group, it will be their duty to generate a common text which reflects authentically the Indaba.” The text must reflect the mind of the bishops attending the 2008 Conference.

The intention is that the Listening Group will meet in four open sessions. Here all bishops can comment on the developing text. It is envisaged that in this way every bishop attending the conference will be given the opportunity to “shape the Reflections” from what emerges.

The letter concludes, “The hope of the Lambeth Design Group is that this process will permit the development of a Reflections Document which will meet the objectives set out for it, and be available on the last day of the conference to be received as an authentic account of the engagement of the bishops together in the service of Christ.”

The Lambeth Conference comprises some 650 bishops and their spouses for the every ten-year conference at the University of Kent at Canterbury and Canterbury Cathedral.

The Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon is Secretary General of the Anglican Communion
The Most Revd Roger Herft is Archbishop of Perth, Australia and served as Lambeth Conference Chaplain in 1998
The Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, Primate of Southern Africa, is a member of the Lambeth Design Group
The Most Revd and Rt Hon Rowan D Williams is the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury

England's awakening

One salutary effect of GAFCON is that it has awakened the British public to the fact that conservatives attempting to take over the Anglican Communion mean business. The British press has been simultaneously hyping and decrying the right wing's campaign, and support for an inclusive Communion has come from unlikely quarters. (The Mad Priest makes a similar point.)

Take The Financial Times, for instances, where Willen Buiter argues:

It is unfortunate that a vocal part of the most rapidly growing segment of the Anglican Communion, the African one, is deeply homophobic and full of bigotry towards and contempt for the homosexual life-style and for people engaging in homosexual acts. These new African bigots have to be confronted head-on about their prejudices and profoundly unchristian attitudes and statements. Again, the origins of this homophobia are regional and cultural in nature. It is not uncommon, for instance, for the same person who considers homosexuality to be the mark of the devil, to be tolerant of polygamy or even to practice it. We should never turf the bigots out of the church, but we should confront them with their unchristian nature of their loveless prejudice and intolerance at every opportunity.

Or the Times of London, never the Archbishop of Canterbury's closest ally:

There is a narrowness, self-righteousness and arrogance about some of the rebels that is deeply unappealing. Several want to have it both ways: to remain within the communion (largely because of the legal and property obstacles that arise from a walkout) while sniping at Canterbury's authority. The more immediate challenge this weekend, however, comes not from Foca [the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans] but from clergy unreconciled to women bishops. They want permanent, binding safeguards for traditionalists that Dr Williams and others are unwilling to concede for fear of enshrining discrimination. He must therefore address their defiance in York as vigorously as he has replied to the Gafcon rebels.

Julian Baggini, an athiest, found the first post-GAFCON meeting in England off putting. He wrote in the Guardian:

[A]t All Souls, I saw a side of Christianity that I don't like. They all seemed obsessed by salvation and glorifying Jesus. You would not have guessed that the only prayer their messiah gave was directed at God, not himself, and that he repeatedly told people not to worship him, but the father. You would not have guessed that he spent much of this time telling people to be good neighbours, irrespective of what other people believed or who they slept with. The very human moral teacher of Matthew, Mark and Luke was eclipsed by the more ethereal Christ of John.

For all their fretting about homosexuality, the evangelicals place little emphasis on Christ's moral and social teaching. The Jerusalem declaration, for example, which announced the founding of Foca, contained a list of 14 "tenets of orthodoxy". Apart from one which upheld the essential heterosexuality of human beings, only one focused on our moral responsibilities to each other.

Meanwhile, back at The Times, George Walden scolds the archbishop for living a double life on the issue of homosexuality:

The oblique way that he addresses the subject suggests that he finds it as difficult as many others to see how the Church can continue to discriminate against practising homosexuals in an age in which scientific knowledge tells us that sexuality is rarely a question of choice. Sacred texts can be disputed, but all that matters is what the Bible would have said had it been known that homosexuality is largely genetic. How Christian can it be to deny men and women a sexuality that is, in Christian terms, God-given?

Suddenly a chorus of voices echoing what groups such as Integrity, whose statement is below the fold, have been saying for years.

Read more »

NT Wright's awakening

GAFCON's ideas are "ridiculous" and "deeply offensive" says the Bishop of Durham, the Rt. Rev. N.T. Wright. According to a BBC report on a radio interview with the bishop:

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A nugget of wisdom from the Rev. Tobias Haller

From In a Godward Direction:

When I look to the Gospels, I find significant support for what is called "the social gospel." I find nothing at all, one way or the other, about faithful, life-long, same-sex relationships, those who live in them, and whether they should be ordained or not. Those who elevate concerns over the latter to the level of "gospel" are the ones who have some explaining to do, not those who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and give cups of cold water to the thirsty.

Makgoba urges Mugabe to recognize political opponents

From the Church of Southern Africa:

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town today called on the Southern African Development Community to establish mechanisms in Zimbabwe to bring about an end to political violence.

He also urged Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF to recognise the legitimacy of its political opponents.

The full text of his statement follows:

Statement by the Most Reverend Thabo Makgoba, Archbishop of Cape Town

"The African Union's resolution calling for negotiations to settle Zimbabwe's political crisis is a welcome first step towards fulfilling the AU's potential to work for an Africa without conflict.

"Now space must be created to ensure that the negotiations are productive.

"Both parties have to be genuinely willing to address one another's fears and aspirations. If the talks are to succeed, Zanu-PF needs to recognise the legitimacy of the MDC. In addition, the talks will go nowhere if Zimbabweans continue to live in terror of being attacked and killed for not having red ink on their fingers.

"We acknowledge and give thanks for what the SADC mediation process has delivered so far. However, it needs now to be expanded, and I urge SADC to establish mechanisms on the ground in Zimbabwe to bring about a climate free of political violence.

"We pray for negotiations between partners fully committed to finding one another and ending the desperate suffering of their people. A lasting settlement would breathe hope and transformation into our common life in Southern Africa."

The Lambeth Conference: the home version

You can play along at home with the bishops of the Anglican Communion as they address the Church's most daunting challenges by taking advantage of these resources.

Check out the resource page for the Lambeth Conference. Signs on the Way, is now available for download:

This special series - focusing on St John’s Gospel - complements the Bible studies in which the bishops and their spouses will take part during the Lambeth Conference 2008.

We hope that people throughout the Anglican Communion will use this series as a way of being present in spirit at the Lambeth Conference, supporting their bishops before, during and after this important gathering.

The studies are structured so that they can be used either by groups or by individuals. They can form the basis of personal devotions, a church study group or perhaps a diocesan meeting.

We have made the study guides as accessible as possible, using a series of questions in each case as the basis of the study.

The Signs on the Way materials are available in a choice of formats.

Episcopal Divinity School is also in the game. EDS is:

developing a new resource, Bringing Lambeth Home, built around the lesson plans used in the Indaba Bible study groups at the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Designed for dioceses, congregations, and other groups interested in Bible study, this curriculum provides users with a guide for using the Lambeth materials in a retreat, Sunday school, or weekly Bible study setting with adult learners. Indaba is a Zulu word from South Africa that means “gathering for the purposeful discussion in community.”

In the Indaba groups, bishops engage common issues before the Anglican Communion. These issues include: Anglican identity, evangelism, social justice and the Millennium Development Goals, ecumenism, safeguarding the integrity of creation, multifaith issues, gender inequalities and violence, biblical authority, human sexuality, and the Anglican Covenant and Windsor processes.

“We hope that people will use this resource as a way of coming together for a missiological, conversational, and prayerful approach to engaging some of the difficult issues in the Anglican Communion and the world,” said The Rev. Liz Magill, author of the study guide. “This study guide, which builds on the materials produced for the Lambeth Conference, makes it easy for groups to plan Indaba groups in their congregation or diocese.”

Bringing Lambeth Home is available in both print and electronic format (pdf) for easy reproduction. This resource will be ready for delivery in late August 2008. For more information, please contact Liz Magill at

You can also keep tabs on the bishops themselves. According to Episcopal News Service: A team will serve as Blogging Bishops during the Lambeth Conference. The Blogging Bishops’ blogs will be found on The Lambeth Journal; the url will be announced shortly.

More info to be forthcoming. Stay tuned!

Happy Feast of Independence Day

In the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer, July 4th is an appointed Feast Day, though in truth it's probably not observed by Episcopalians who aren't American citizens, or frankly, by most Episcopalians. But for those that are keeping this Feast Day, may it be a blessed one for you.

Most news outlets are closed here in the United States today, and news from America should be thin. But The Lead will stay open because the Anglican Communion and even the Episcopal Church will be doing God's work in many disparate places today and readers from around the Communion and this Province might be checking in.

The assumption of good faith

In his response to the GAFCON statement, Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, urges his readers to accept the good faith of bishops who have begun claiming parishes in other churches as their own. Given their track record, this is difficult to do. Here is one example among many.

Consider Bishop John Bryson Chane's op-ed in the Washington Post on February 26, 2006 in which he wrote:

Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria and leader of the conservative wing of the communion, recently threw his prestige and resources behind a new law that criminalizes same-sex marriage in his country and denies gay citizens the freedoms to assemble and petition their government. The law also infringes upon press and religious freedom by authorizing Nigeria's government to prosecute newspapers that publicize same-sex associations and religious organizations that permit same-sex unions.

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.

Now consider the response of the Rev. Martyn Minns, who was then the rector of Truro Parish in Virginia, who wrote to his parishioners saying:

What about Archbishop Akinola? What are his views? As far as I know Bishop Chane has never attempted to contact him to find out. Archbishop Akinola has not spoken publicly on the proposed legislation and has not thrown his “prestige and resources behind the new law,” as Chane insinuates. He is presently working overtime to lower the religious and ethnic tensions in Nigeria and to care for those who have been traumatized in the recent strife. He is not seeking to victimize or diminish anyone. He is primarily an evangelist and a pastor whose desire is to see all people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. His opposition to ECUSA’s repudiation of traditional Biblical teaching on human sexuality is a matter of record and a viewpoint that is supported by the vast majority of Christendom. However, the idea that he is looking to establish a ‘purified communion’ bankrolled by cabal of conservatives in the USA has no basis whatsoever and is surely the product of an overheated episcopal imagination.

We learned from subsequent statements and actions that Archbishop Akinola held exactly the views Bishop Chane described, and, after GAFCON, we now see that he is indeed, attempting to establish a purified communion with himself at its head. We also know that the now-Bishop Minns was involved in these plans all along.

As for Minns' portrait of Akinola as a reconciling figure, Muslims in Nigeria may regard him rather differently. But that is another matter.

There is a distinction to be drawn between sincere conviction and good faith. Acting out of sincere conviction, one can excuse one’s self from operating in good faith. It may be that Archbishop Williams' willingness to assume good faith on the part of those who have conspired against his leadership since he refused to recognize a separate American province in the wake of the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, has contributed to the difficulties in which he now finds himself.

Hooker on Romans 1

Most every Anglican knows that Richard Hooker was the founding theological visionary of Anglicanism. But many have not read his writings nor sought to apply his insights to the present controversies in the Communion. The Archbishop of Armagh luckily has risen to the task.

In an address to the USPG Conference in Swanick today, the Archbishop AET Harper OBE traces the primary lines of Hooker's thinking on the ways that scripture and reason can serve as theological norms. (Norms are the tools that we use to make decisions between two competing ideas or claims.)

You can read Ruth Gledhill's take on this paper here.

The full text is found here.

It's a very long and densely written lecture, but well worth the time to read.

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"Archbishop 'deluded', says local bishop"

Or so states the headline in an Australian newspaper that reports on the reaction of some other bishops in Australia to the recent actions of Bishop Jensen of Sydney.

"Bishop Philip Huggins has written to The Age suggesting that Dr Jensen is 'deluded' about the Jerusalem conference of 300 evangelical Anglican bishops that ended on Sunday with the launch of a conservative church within a church.

[...]Dr Jensen had not communicated with any Australian bishops, 'so we can't help him see the downside of his post-conference rhetoric'.

Bishop Huggins said the negative publicity hurt ordinary Anglicans, devalued the work of faithful Christians, and endangered young people who were confused about their sexuality and threatened by homophobia. He said he had spent much of the week trying to comfort and encourage Melbourne Anglicans.

He told The Age that Dr Jensen had breached protocol by publishing an opinion piece in another diocese without talking to his colleagues there, which put Melbourne's bishops in a difficult position. 'We are not a client state of an imperial state required to be silent, and people have been hurt. People have been passionate about what the church should be since Peter and Paul were arguing in the first years of the church,' he said."

Read the full article here.

Church of England 2008 Synod gets underway

The Church of England begins its yearly General Synod today. First up on today's afternoon and evening agenda are a discussion of Orthodox-Anglican relations and then the first bits of work on the divisive question of women's ordination to the episcopate in the C of E.

You can find general information about Synod here.

The days agenda and all briefing papers are found here.

Thinking Anglican's has a collection of links to press pieces discussing Synod as well.

Episcopal youth gather

One of the least known, yet most exciting national programs in the Episcopal Church are the EYE gatherings. These every three year events bring young Episcopalians from around the country to meet, pray, study and have a great deal of fun. This year's gathering is coming up next week, and it's likely that folks are hitting the road this weekend so that they'll be in San Antonio in time.

The Episcopal News Service has details:

High-school aged young people -- nearly 850 strong -- from across the Episcopal Church are headed to San Antonio, Texas for the 2008 Episcopal Youth Event (EYE), which will take place July 8-13 on the campus of Trinity University. The youth delegates will be accompanied by 318 adult chaperones and resource persons. "This event is going to have something to satisfy everyone," said Zibby Allen, from All Saint's Episcopal Church, Northfield, Minnesota, who is a youth member of the EYE design team.

"The young people attending EYE can expect to have a good time while connecting and growing with fellow Episcopalians. They can also expect the opportunity to grow spiritually and intellectually," she said.

The theme of the EYE 2008 is "Sown in the Heart of Christ," which the design team discerned from the appointed Gospel lesson for Sunday, June 13, 2008, is inspired by a parable told by Jesus as recounted in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 13.

The full story is here.

We'll keep all these young people and their chaperones and resource people in our prayers. God grant them safe travel and may they encounter Christ in new and exciting ways!

Jesus for President

Grace Cathedral in San Francisco is one of the sites this summer of the "Jesus for President" tour. The event starts at Grace Friday next week.

From the description on Grace Cathedral's webpage:

Prominent social activists Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw stir the Christian political imagination and offer an alternative to divisive two-party politics. Christian discipleship is politically and socially engaged, but in a way that confounds and transcends parties. The Jesus for President tour will feature teaching from both authors as well as storytelling, art, music and worship that provokes the political imagination.

There are links to brochures and more information about the program itself off of the page above.

Some clergy seek sanctuary from weddings

It won't be news to you, but many clergy are irritated about being pressured to do weddings for couples who want a church wedding, but have little or no further interest in church. The Sacramento Bee looks at the issue in light of the same-sex marriage developments in California. The recommendations of Bishop Andrus come in for special examination.

The devil made Jordan do it

Readers probably remember hearing talk of Akinola being denied entry to Jordan for the pre-GAFCON meetings that were being held there. For a refresher, check out our post here and another at Preludium here. Ruth Gledhill explained it as happening because of bureaucratic details:

Sources at the conference tell me that the Nigerian delegation landed in Tel Aviv and went to the northern crossing point. Archbishop Akinola was travelling on his diplomatic passport. After being questioned for four hours, he was turned back, although the rest of the Nigerian delegation was allowed in. He got his passport back, and apparently was told that they needed a particular clearance on a diplomatic passport which he did not possess.

Now, while readers may remember this being downplayed in press releases coming out of GAFCON at the time, turns out Akinola believes it was an act of Satan himself intervening with Jordanian affairs of state in an effort to undermine the conference, and, well, we're not even sure what to make of this statement from Akinola:

No matter the humiliation I suffered, I took it as a body lotion, rubbed it all over my body, so that I can shine for Christ.

Found here.

On dogs and God and "what sort of Christianity Episcopalian is"

A few weeks ago, the New York Post published a bit (filed under "entertainment") about the Church of the Holy Trinity, an Episcopal Church on the Upper East Side where canine congregants are commonly in attendance.

Fast forward to this week, where Huffington Post columnist Verena von Pfetten gets a kick out of the story, but digs a little deeper and discovers that this "Episcopalian" church is more than dog schtick:

A canine-friendly congregation. It's almost too good to be true!

But I've gotta say that in checking out the Church of the Holy Trinity's website, I found one little gem that seemed far more worthy of our attention:

Whoever you are, parishioner, friend, neighbor, or seeker, we are honored that you are visiting this website. We invite you to become part of the ministry and spiritual growth happening at Holy Trinity, a community embracing all people, across the spectrum of cultural, ethnic, racial, gender, sexual orientation, and class diversity, as full members of the household of God.

Now, I don't know if this is common, or if this is an episcopalian thing (because, to be honest, I'm not even sure what sort of Christianity episcopalian is), but I'm a lot more excited about this than I am about the chapel being Cheeseburger-friendly. Dogs don't care if they can go to church -- dogs are just as happy sneakily curled up on the sofa chewing a Nylabone while their owners are off saving their souls. And I'm also pretty sure it's not possible to make any sort of cogent argument about the history of discrimination against dogs. Humans, on the other hand, have a sordid and sickening history with prejudice in many and most churches.

So, let's turn our attention and our applause not to the inclusion of our canine companions who, let's be honest, could not care a less, but to the understanding and compassion this church has shown towards its human companions. It's long overdue.

You can share your applause here.

Sentamu on FOCA

The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, has spoken out against FOCA:

The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has launched an outspoken attack on members of a new Anglican traditionalist movement - accusing them of "ungracious" behaviour.

Dr Sentamu said he had been "deeply grieved" at reports of criticism and "scapegoating" by the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans of the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams.

"The accusations and inferences of what has been said by some are not only ungenerous and unwarranted but they describe a person I don't recognise as Rowan," he said.

He said Dr Williams was a "model of attentive listening" and "interpretative charity" in dealing with the controversy over the Church's teaching on homosexuality.

He added, to clapping and cries of "hear, hear" from General Synod members, that Dr Williams was a "seeker after truth and love."

The rest is here.

Video interview is here.

Kenyan bishops: No Gays Allowed

A Kenyan bishop has told the Nairobi Star that gays cannot come to their churches. According to Walking with Integrity:

The Anglican Church of Kenya now wants to stop gays attending church.

Read more »

The Jefferson Bible

Imagine, if you will, says Lori Anne Ferrell, a professor of early modern history and literature at Claremont Graduate University, the furor that might arise if a president decided to re-edit the Bible to suit his own beliefs. That is exactly what Thomas Jefferson did: excising the miracles and inconsistencies he found within the four gospels and pasting the rest of Jesus' "ethical teachings" into a single narrative. From a feature in the L.A. Times:

In a letter sent from Monticello to John Adams in 1813, Jefferson said his "wee little book" of 46 pages was based on a lifetime of inquiry and reflection and contained "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man."

He called the book "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth." Friends dubbed it the Jefferson Bible. It remains perhaps the most comprehensive expression of what the nation's third president and principal author of the Declaration of Independence found ethically interesting about the Gospels and their depiction of Jesus.

"I have performed the operation for my own use," he continued, "by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging the matter, which is evidently his and which is as easily distinguished as diamonds in a dunghill."

The little leather-bound tome, several facsimiles of which are kept at the Huntington Library in San Marino, continues to fascinate scholars exploring the powerful and varied relationships between the Founding Fathers and the most sacred book of the Western World.

Read more about it here.

The science of spirituality

WBUR's On Point host Jane Clayson:

Science and faith aren't at war with each other, says renowned Harvard psychiatrist George Vaillant. They're just in different parts of the brain.

We're hardwired for faith, hope, love and joy, Vaillant says. There's more spirituality in our genes than perhaps even our Sunday School classes.

Does this sound like sacrilege? Or, solid science?

Either way, it's a big, bold controversial view. And Vaillant comes armed with data from the lab and his own pioneering research into adult development.

Go here to listen.

Vaillant's new book is "Spiritual Evolution: A Scientific Defense of Faith"

Stone tablet revives debate on Messiah and Resurrection

A three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is causing a quiet stir in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it may speak of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days.

Read more »

Proofs of God

Christianity Today's July cover story is about modern Christian apologetics; i.e.,, the use of philisophical arguments for rational arguments in favor of the existence of God. The article, by William Lane Craig, research professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, begins by arguing that theists are once again at philosophy departments:

Back in the 1940s and '50s, many philosophers believed that talk about God, since it is not verifiable by the five senses, is meaningless—actual nonsense. This verificationism finally collapsed, in part because philosophers realized that verificationism itself could not be verified! The collapse of verificationism was the most important philosophical event of the 20th century. Its downfall meant that philosophers were free once again to tackle traditional problems of philosophy that verificationism had suppressed. Accompanying this resurgence of interest in traditional philosophical questions came something altogether unanticipated: a renaissance of Christian philosophy.

. . .

The renaissance of Christian philosophy has been accompanied by a resurgence of interest in natural theology, that branch of theology that seeks to prove God's existence apart from divine revelation. The goal of natural theology is to justify a broadly theistic worldview, one that is common among Christians, Jews, Muslims, and deists. While few would call them compelling proofs, all of the traditional arguments for God's existence, not to mention some creative new arguments, find articulate defenders today.

Professor Craing then describes and defends various traditional proofs of God. Here is an example:

The cosmological argument. Versions of this argument are defended by Alexander Pruss, Timothy O'Connor, Stephen Davis, Robert Koons, and Richard Swinburne, among others. A simple formulation of this argument is:

1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
3. The universe exists.
4. Therefore, the explanation of the universe's existence is God.

This argument is logically valid, so the only question is the truth of the premises. Premise (3) is undeniable for any sincere seeker of truth, so the question comes down to (1) and (2).

Premise (1) seems quite plausible. Imagine that you're walking through the woods and come upon a translucent ball lying on the forest floor. You would find quite bizarre the claim that the ball just exists inexplicably. And increasing the size of the ball, even until it becomes co-extensive with the cosmos, would do nothing to eliminate the need for an explanation of its existence.

Premise (2) might at first appear controversial, but it is in fact synonymous with the usual atheist claim that if God does not exist, then the universe has no explanation of its existence. Besides, (2) is quite plausible in its own right. For an external cause of the universe must be beyond space and time and therefore cannot be physical or material. Now there are only two kinds of things that fit that description: either abstract objects, like numbers, or else an intelligent mind. But abstract objects are causally impotent. The number 7, for example, can't cause anything. Therefore, it follows that the explanation of the universe is an external, transcendent, personal mind that created the universe—which is what most people have traditionally meant by "God."

Read it all here. Is it just me, or is the defense of premise 2 quite weak? In any event, do these examples of traditional Christian apologetics still have value?

Religion and health

A variety of studies have shown that personal religious practice (such as attending church every Sunday) is correlated with health. Now a new study by Troy Blanchard of Louisiana State University (no relation) shows that the type of congregation in a community is also correlated with health:

LSU associate professor of sociology Troy C. Blanchard recently found that a community's religious environment -- that is, the type of religious congregations within a locale -- affects mortality rates, often in a positive manner. These results were published in the June issue of Social Forces.

"Although there is a great deal of research on religion and health, previous studies have tended to focus on the individual aspects of religion, such as how often an individual prays or attends worship services," said Blanchard.

Along with co-author John Bartkowski from the University of Texas at San Antonio and other researchers from the University of West Georgia and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Blanchard found that people live longer in areas with a large number of Catholic and Mainline Protestant churches. He offers two key reasons for these findings.

"First, these types of churches have what's known as a 'worldly perspective.' Instead of solely focusing on the afterlife, they place a significant emphasis on the current needs of their communities," he said. These religions commonly organize outreach efforts for the needy and homeless, invest in the health infrastructures of their town and participate in other forms of public charity.

"Secondly, these congregations tend to create bridging ties in communities that lead to greater social cohesion among citizens," said Blanchard. This enhanced sense of connection between people provides collective encouragement for healthy behavior.

In contrast to Catholics and Mainline Protestant congregations, Conservative Protestant churches have a mixed effect on community health. The "otherworldly" character of Conservative Protestantism leads congregations in this tradition to focus on the afterlife. Conservative Protestantism is also a more individualistic faith, one in which the believer's personal relationship with God is paramount. These types of churches are thought to downplay the importance of using collective action, including human institutions, to improve the world. Communities dominated by Conservative Protestant churches tend to have higher mortality rates.

However, this finding has an important caveat, because there are different types of Conservative Protestant churches, namely, Fundamentalist, Pentecostal and Evangelical.

"We find that a greater presence of Fundamentalist and Pentecostal congregations is associated with higher rates of mortality, but communities with a large number of Evangelical congregations have better health outcomes," said Blanchard. "Evangelical congregations do a better job of engaging the broader community and promoting social connectedness that is so essential for longer life expectancies. Fundamentalist congregations tend to be more reclusive, and this insularity is linked with higher mortality rates."

Read it all here.

The Catholic vote in 2008

Time has an interesting article about how Obama is attracting many Catholics who have voted Republican in the past:

Douglas Kmiec is the kind of Catholic voter the G.O.P. usually doesn't have to think twice about. The Pepperdine law professor and former Reagan Justice Department lawyer (Samuel Alito was an office mate) attends Mass each morning. He has actively opposed abortion for most of his adult life, working with crisis pregnancy centers to persuade women not to undergo the procedure. He is a member of the conservative Federalist Society and occasionally sends a contribution to Focus on the Family.

He is also a vocal supporter of Barack Obama. Kmiec made waves in the Catholic world in late March when he endorsed the Democratic candidate. But Kmiec insists that while he still considers himself a Republican, his choice is clear this election year. "I have grave moral doubts about the war, serious doubts about the economic course Republicans have followed over the last seven years, and believe that immigration reforms won't come about by Republican hands," he says. "Senator McCain would not be the strongest advocate for the balance of things that I care about."

A new TIME poll of Catholic voters reveals that Kmiec is part of a broader pattern. Although Obama was thought to have a "Catholic problem" during the Democratic primaries, in which Hillary Clinton won a majority of Catholic votes, he has pulled even with John McCain among that constituency — Obama now polls 44% to his G.O.P. opponent's 45%.

. . .

Many conservative Catholics consider abortion to be the determining factor in their electoral decisions, and as a result they almost always support Republican candidates. But for other Catholics, social issues can be trumped in times of economic and national insecurity. What's interesting about this year is that Catholics like Kmiec are moving from the first group of voters to the second.

Republicans entered this election season from a position of disadvantage with Catholics for the same reasons they face problems with the general electorate: the economy, high gas prices and the ongoing war in Iraq. But they've also failed to embrace the model of Catholic engagement that Bush spent six years putting into place. The Obama campaign is taking advantage of that opportunity. Just as Ronald Reagan brought large numbers of Catholic Democrats into the G.O.P. in the 1980s, Obama is hoping to woo them back and create a new Catholic category: Obama Republicans.

. . .

In a climate in which Catholics aren't voting based on a rather narrow ideological agenda, the mechanics of how campaigns court them become more important. And it's on that level that perhaps the biggest changes from 2004 can be seen. McCain has a team of Catholic politicians, including Sam Brownback and Frank Keating, who serve as his surrogates, but has few aides within the campaign to coordinate outreach. The lack of high-level religious advisers became obvious earlier this year when McCain accepted the endorsement of Evangelical pastor John Hagee, who has called the Catholic Church "the great whore of Babylon," a phrase unlikely to warm the hearts of McCain's Catholic supporters.

Obama's campaign more closely resembles the 2004 Bush outreach effort. An extensive religious outreach team has focused the bulk of its work on training ordinary Catholics to reach out to friends and neighbors by holding "values" house parties and explaining their support for Obama. The Democrat also has a roster of high-powered Catholic surrogates who have fanned out across swing states — including Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey Jr., whose father, the pro-life former governor, was widely viewed by Catholics as a victim of Democratic intolerance after he was not allowed to speak at the party's 1992 convention.

Obama, whose work as a community organizer was partly funded by a Catholic social-justice group, recently laid out his plan for a new and improved faith-based initiative. It is a policy extension of the phrase he often uses — "I am my brother's keeper" — to express his belief that members of a society are responsible for one another. And it is an idea rooted in the Catholic concept of the common good.

Read it all here.

Enough is enough

Giles Frasier says in The Independent on Sunday that Archbishop Rowan Williams has been too compliant in the face of the Church's conservatives and homophobes. The time has come to confront the extremists who would fight the battles of 17th century in the 21st.

The parish church was to be a place where, under God, the English would find an oddly workable unity.

Two things have undermined this vision: the British Empire and the internet. In the days of the Empire, missionaries from the English church made faith our most successful export. Global Christianity mushroomed in the 20th century, with Anglicanism leading the way. There are now 77 million Anglicans. But what did not get exported was the very idea of Anglicanism as a peace treaty. Transplanted into different soil, Anglicanism grew hotter and more ideological, re-exposing deep theological fissures between believers that the C of E had agreed to set aside for the greater good. With the growth in communications technology, these differences could no longer be hidden.

Liberals were horrified to discover that some Anglicans were little more than fundamentalists in vestments; conservatives were horrified to discover that some Anglicans had gone native with secular humanism. Gay sex started it all. And the more the headlines rolled in, the more the cracks widened.

In fact, the fight over homosexuality exposed a darker side to the English reticence to confront difference head-on. We all knew there were loads of gay vicars; we all knew there were many gay bishops too – but it was a form of knowledge communicated in nods, winks and church code. But the spirit of 'don't ask, don't tell' kept many of them stuck in the church closet. It took an American bishop first to be open about having a partner of the same sex. Gene Robinson's crime was his honesty. Likewise, the idea that the gay 'marriage' that recently took place in St Bartholomew's church was a first is simply not the case. There have been hundreds of such weddings. It's just that they have been – and what a very English word this is – discreet.

But all that is over. The conservatives have decided that they can exploit the deep homophobia of many African Christians in order to stage a coup for the soul of the church. Suddenly, we are once again fighting the unresolved battles of the Reformation, with narrow-minded puritans seeking to impose their joyless and claustrophobic world-view on the rest of the church. The newly formed Federation of Confessing Anglicans (Foca) is seeking bridgeheads in wealthy evangelical parishes and the English ecclesiological peace treaty lies in tatters. All eyes now turn to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Is there anything he can do about these Focas?

Read Giles Frasier: Enough is enough. The extremists must be confronted

Synod debate on women bishops today


The General Synod of the Church of England, meeting in York, is going to debate and perhaps decide today to move forward with allowing women to serve in the episcopate.

Thinking Anglicans has the outline of the day plus the motions with amendments to be considered here. The debate will begin this afternoon and move into this evening, which will mean by mid-afternoon on the east coast of the US, we should know the outcome.

The BBC has this brief summary of the issues here:

The Church of England's ruling body, the General Synod, will vote later on the conditions under which women could be consecrated as bishops.

The York meeting will decide whether to accommodate opponents to women bishops and if they could opt to remain under the ministry of male bishops instead.

But women in the Church have said such a move would institutionalise division. Some 1,300 clergy have threatened to leave the Church if safeguards are not agreed to reassure traditionalists.

They made the threat in a letter to the archbishops of Canterbury and York, but critics say many of the signatories are retired rather than serving clergy.

The amendments appear to focus on three possible scenarios: passing the legislation with no accommodation for traditionalists, passing it with the only accommodation being a code of conduct, and allowing women bishops but with one "Super" non-geographical male Bishop who would care for those who cannot accept a woman in apostolic authority.

Conservative bishops are said to have been in "secret" conversation with the Vatican about the 'liberal' drift in the Church of England. The Church of England is mum on the subject. With the close relationship between Archbishop Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI, it is hard to know what to make of these rumors.

Members of parliament have made it known that they would like the Church of England to make a positive move. Westminster Whispers, a blog that talks about the political goings-on in England, says that Robert Key, Conservative MP for Salisbury, is present at General Synod and pushing hard for the inclusion of women into the episcopate. According to the blog, that he would seek a Parliamentary veto should a compromise (such as a "super" bishop for traditionalists) be approved.

The Independent on Sunday reports:

Amid fears that the Church might fail to reach a resolution on this occasion in order to avoid a confrontation, the Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, said that it was crucial that delegates came to a unanimous decision quickly.

"We are aware of those who argue that now is not the right time, that there are too many other difficult issues around, that the balance of arithmetic within the Church may be different in a few years' time," said the the bishop. "But the fact is, of course, that any legislative process is going to take several years to complete even if we take the first steps now."

He added: "I think the one thing that we would all be sad about would be if this synod on Monday simply were to kick the whole thing into touch."

At the same time, the Daily Mail online reports that

Three senior bishops – the Bishops of Chester, Blackburn and Europe – have written a separate private letter to Dr Williams arguing that ‘clearly the ordination of women as bishops would divide the Church even more fundamentally than the ordination of women as priests’.

Another summary of the issues surrounding todays debate and possible vote is provided by the Guardian here.

EpiScope has a good summary of the news coverage so far here.

Updated July 7, 2008 2:30 pm (EDT):
Thinking Anglicans is following the debate and the votes on each amendment here.

4:50 pm (EDT):
Ruth Gledhill has been live blogging the debate.

5 pm (EDT)

Final form of the proposal from Thinking Anglicans:

As a result of the two successful amendments the final form of the substantive motion became.

That this Synod:
(a) affirm that the wish of its majority is for women to be admitted to the episcopate;
(b) affirm its view that special arrangements be available, within the existing structures of the Church of England, for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests;
(c) affirm that these should be contained in a statutory national code of practice to which all concerned would be required to have regard; and
(d) instruct the legislative drafting group, in consultation with the House of Bishops, to complete its work accordingly, including preparing the first draft of a code of practice, so that the Business Committee can include first consideration of the draft legislation in the agenda for the February 2009 group of sessions.

Notice that the motion doesn't authorize the ordination of women to the episcopate immediately, but directs the legislative drafting group to work according to the guidelines contained in this motion.

Gene Robinson leaves for Lambeth

Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire leaves for the Lambeth Conference. He will be blogging his experiences while in England and Scotland.

Off to England and the Lambeth Experience

Later today, I leave for England and the Lambeth Conference. I am writing to you to 1) ask for your prayers, 2) to let you know how you can keep up with the goings-on in England, and my reflections on them, and 3) to assure you that I will be taking you in my heart everywhere I go.

Your Prayers:

First, pray for the Lambeth Conference of Bishops, the Anglican Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury, that the bonds of affection that bind us together might be strengthened and that God's will might be discerned as we struggle to be the Church in the 21st century. Pray especially for the Episcopal Church's bishops attending the Lambeth Conference, that we might greet our brother and sister bishops with grace and hospitality and be ready to learn what they have to teach us.

Then, please pray for me. Because the Archbishop of Canterbury chose to exclude me from the Lambeth Conference, I will need to be intentional about creating opportunities for interacting with bishops and spouses from around the Anglican Communion. Pray that God might open up those opportunities for conversation and open my heart for mutual learning.

Because of controversy surrounding my attendance, and the incessant press coverage which will undoubtedly insert itself, pray that God might keep me grounded in the Spirit of love, forgiveness and compassion.

Because of threats against my life that have already begun, pray that God might keep me (and those who have been hired to protect me) safe, and return me home to you.

During this whole time, I'll be praying with the Franciscan brothers and sisters at Greyfriars, in Canterbury. Join me in giving thanks for their hospitality and witness.

Specific Dates on Which to Pray:

Some of you have asked for particular dates and particular events for which I would desire your prayers:

Thursday, July 10
: I will be speaking at the Modern Churchperson's Union conference (along with former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, the Primate of Wales, and several African bishops).

Sunday, July 13: I will be preaching at St. Mary's, Putney (just across the Thames from London, in the Diocese of Southwark). This will be the only time I'm allowed to preach while in England.

Monday, July 14: British premiere of the documentary "For the Bible Tells Me So," in Queen Elizabeth Hall, at the South Bank Centre for the Arts. I will be appearing with Daniel Karslake, the filmmaker, and Shakespearean actor (and Lord of the Rings star) Sir Ian McKellen. This event will be a fund-raiser for AIDS work in Africa.

Wednesdays, July 23 and 30: American bishops will be hosting two "Come meet our brother bishop Gene" evenings, open only to bishops and spouses. I will be "introduced" by several clergy and lay leaders from NH in a little DVD we've made for the event. Then I'll have a chance to engage bishops from around the Communion and tell them about the work of the Gospel here in NH.

August 3-6, I'll be preaching and speaking in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland, as guest of the Church that gave us bishops some 200+ years ago.

Keeping Up With My Goings-On:

I will be writing a daily blog calledCanterbury Tales from the Fringe:

I will also be doing a daily VIDEO blog for Claiming the Blessing, called The Lambeth Gene Pool:

As I leave for Lambeth, know that I am so grateful for all your love and support. This promises to be a demanding and difficult time, but I go with the knowledge that we are living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ here in New Hampshire, in the spirit of infinite respect and radical hospitality. Thank you, my dear and beloved sisters and brothers in Christ, for your love and for your prayers.


What would Jesus do? Where would Jesus be?

The Church Times reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury preached in York Minster Sunday and he urged General Synod members to relinquish the attempt to control their future; for that way they would be freer to encounter God. Many who heard the sermon say it was both moving and a defining moment.

The full text of the sermon may be found here .

Ruth Gledhill blogged her impressions of the sermon:

Sitting here in the magnificence of York Minster, I am hearing the most incredible sermon from the Archbishop of Canterbury. I am going to blog it live, right away. Maybe this is overstating it, but it feels from my seat in the north transept, with my fellow 'sinners' of the press close by, as though he's just saved the Church of England. A few people here are close to tears. The Archbishop always comes over better in the presence than on paper, and never more so than this morning. He has completely justified what the Archbishop of York said in his defence yesterday, as we report in The Sunday Times.

He took as his text the Hebrew Bible story of Joseph thrown into the waterless pit by his brothers. And he asked the General Synod members, facing the crucial debate tomorrow on women bishops and with Lambeth and debates over homosexuality casting their shadows,'What would Jesus do? Where would Jesus be?'

The Archbishop said: 'What would Jesus do is a good question to ask. Where would Jesus be is just as good. Who would Jesus be with is a question the Gospels force on our attention again and again.

'In the middle of all our discussion at Synod, where would Jesus be? Jesus is going to be with those who feel the waterlessness of their position.

Jonathan Wynne-Jones reports in the Sunday Telegraph:

It was a little after half past ten when the Archbishop of Canterbury shuffled up the steps of the pulpit in York Minster to address the hushed congregation.

After six years in the post, this could well become a defining moment for Dr Rowan Williams - the time when the real Archbishop appeared before his Church.

He has been weighed down by the crises that have engulfed the Anglican communion virtually ever since his arrival at Lambeth - pulled this way and that by the warring factions in the battles over homosexuality and women bishops.

Today, however, he grew in stature as the sermon went on, emerging by the end of it as the leader that the Anglican communion so desperately needs - compassionate yet direct and vulnerable yet firm.

Referring to the story of Joseph being thrown down into a waterless pit and left for dead by his brothers, the archbishop attempted to reach out to all those, in and outside the Church, who feel deserted.

In a sermon charged with emotion and feeling, but delivered with poise and unflinching stoicism, he set out his inclusive, all embracing vision for the Church.

. . . .

It is a shame that extending support to homosexuals in the Church should be a bold move, but it was and the Minster's congregation knew that; particularly considering that conservative Anglicans have just formed a rival church in response to the liberal attitude of the Western churches on the issue.

However, Dr Williams is not going to be cowed anymore into trying to appease everyone. That was what came across from his sermon.

He has done his best to keep everyone within the Anglican fold since he was made Archbishop, but now he is going to say what he thinks. And what he feels.

Was this a defining moment, the advent of a ++Rowan who is through being pushed around or was this a clearer, more poetic ++Rowan warning those who have held off change for so long that they may have to learn to live in a different place? What do you think?

Aspinall warns Jensen

The Most Rev. Phillip Aspinall, Primate of the Australian Anglican Church, has warned the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen, that he risks a legal battle if Jensen tries to overstep the laws of the church.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Speaking on ABC Radio last night, Dr Aspinall said he was saddened by the rift and disappointed by the Sydney Archbishop's boycott of the forthcoming meeting of church leaders at Lambeth, and said the rebels' actions added to "confusion and chaos" in the church.

During the interview Aspinall said:

A number of participants in the GAFCON conference have said that they believe that what they're doing will help to bring order in a situation of chaos.

I think if they act in the way which has been indicated, they will add to whatever confusion and chaos exists at the moment and the former Archbishop of Canterbury; George Carey said as much himself back in the year 2000 and the year 2001 when these unlawful consecrations of bishops and unlawful interventions in the life of churches around the world first began to happen.

. . . . .

Where there are indications that people might cross boundaries, that bishops might act outside their own jurisdictions and intervene in the life of other churches, where people might seek to leave the church and take property that is held in trust by the church for a different purpose.

I think all those things do raise legal questions and I think those kinds of conflicts will be brought on by people trying to act unilaterally and not following due process.

The Sydney Morning Herald also profiles Archbishop Jensen as "the pin-up boy for church conservatives:"

Peter Jensen describes the past two weeks as among the most spiritually invigorating of his life. The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney is the talk of Anglicans worldwide - conservative and liberal - as the breakaway movement he helped create openly challenges the relevance and authority of the See of Canterbury, the historic centre of Anglican power and influence. Not everyone is a fan.

Jensen and fellow Anglican archbishops - Nigerian Peter Akinola and Ugandan Henry Orombi - have been making waves as the frontmen for the new Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, which was birthed in Jerusalem late last month at the Global Anglican Future Conference, or Gafcon, a meeting of Anglican bishops unhappy with the direction of the mainstream church.

The rebels have singled out the Canadian and American arms for their teaching on homosexuality, specifically acceptance of gay bishops and same-sex unions. They say the Jerusalem summit was called "in a sense of urgency that a false gospel has so paralysed the Anglican Communion that this crisis must be addressed. The chief threat of this dispute involves the compromising of the integrity of the church's worldwide mission"

See Thinking Anglicans: GAFCON: more comments and reports.

Sydney Morning Herald: Aspinall warns Jensen and The battle for hearts and souls.

Reactions to Obama's faith-based initiative

Last Tuesday, presidential candidate Barack Obama attempted to reclaim the partnership between government and faith-based agencies, which he no doubt witnessed in his days as a community organizer, but six little words ignited an explosion he may not have anticipated.

Peter Steinfels in the New York Times writes:

He was two-thirds of the way through his remarks when he inserted the six words with the potential to put his whole effort at risk. Speaking “as someone who used to teach constitutional law,” he spelled out “a few basic principles” to reassure listeners that such partnerships between religious groups and the government would not endanger the separation of church and state.

“First,” he said, “if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help, and you can’t discriminate against them — or against the people you hire — on the basis of their religion.”

That little phrase between the dashes — “or against the people you hire” — ignited a political explosion. “Fraud,” declared Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. “What Obama wants,” Mr. Donohue said, is “to secularize the religious workplace.” In its newsletter, the conservative Family Research Council called Mr. Obama’s position “a body blow to religious groups that apply for federal funds.” No less heated reactions came from the other end of the political spectrum, where the Obama proposal was denounced not for that short phrase but for what liberals saw as an abandonment of their principles and part of a suspicious move toward the center.

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CofE will permit women as bishops

Updated Tuesday morning

Ruth Gledhill of the Times writes:

The Church of England decided tonight to ordain women bishops with minimal concessions to protect opponents, despite the threat of a mass exodus of traditionalist clergy.

The bishops voted in favour of bringing forward legislation to ordain women bishops by 28 to 12. The clergy voted in favour by 124 to 44 and the Laity by 111 to 68.

A proposal for “super bishops” for objectors to women bishops, in the same way that “flying bishops” care for church-goers against women priests, was narrowly defeated at the York meeting of the General Synod.

The synod rejected the plan even though it had the backing of the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, also told members he would be unhappy to see a “systematic marginalisation” of Anglo-Catholics, who he described as a “necessary abrasion”.

Christina Rees, of the pro-women lobby Women and the Church, welcomed the move to consecrate women with a voluntary code of practice for handling objections as the “lesser of two evils”. She said women would accept and work with it.

Traditionalists must now decide whether to accept that women will become bishops with equal status to men in the established church, to leave and seek refuge in the Roman Catholic church or stay and attempt to fight it at the final hurdle.

Riazat Butt of The Guardian played it this way:

The Church of England was thrown into turmoil tonight over the issue of women bishops as it appeared to reject proposals that would have accommodated clergy strongly opposed to the historic change.

In a debate lasting more than four hours, the General Synod voted against the introduction of separate structures and "superbishops" because they amounted to institutionalised discrimination.

Martin Beckford of The Telegraph says:

Hundreds of traditionalists, including several bishops, may leave the church after an epic four-hour debate ended with proposals to create new "men only" dioceses or "super bishops" narrowly thrown out by members of the General Synod in York.

It came despite the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the two most senior figures in the church, calling for safeguards to stop an exodus of Anglo-Catholics and evangelicals.

Ruth Gledhill, kept a liveblog on the debate.

Now voting on final motion as amended twice.

Bishops: 28 for 12 against 1 abs

Clergy: 124 for 44 agaionst 4 abs

Laity: 111 for 68 against 2 abs

Motion carried

An earlier vote to adjourn without voting failed.

Thinking Anglicans provides the resolution, which after two amendments reads:

That this Synod:

(a) affirm that the wish of its majority is for women to be admitted to the episcopate;
(b) affirm its view that special arrangements be available, within the existing structures of the Church of England, for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests;
(c) affirm that these should be contained in a statutory national code of practice to which all concerned would be required to have regard; and
(d) instruct the legislative drafting group, in consultation with the House of Bishops, to complete its work accordingly, including preparing the first draft of a code of practice, so that the Business Committee can include first consideration of the draft legislation in the agenda for the February 2009 group of sessions.

See earlier coverage on The Lead here.

UPDATE - Thinking Anglicans has a thorough list of mainstream media links.

The reform side of religious enthusiasm

Ted Widmer writes in the New York Times magazine that the connection between liberals and evangelicals may be stronger than we think and as old as the nation. The connection is found, he says, in an inherent optimism and a common reformist streak.

Maybe the distance between liberals and evangelicals, each eternal optimists in their way, is much smaller than we realized. In our week of national reflection, it’s worth recognizing that religious enthusiasm in America has as often as not had a reformist or even revolutionary cast to it. Consider the Declaration of Independence. It is not normally seen as an evangelical statement, despite the heroic attempts of the Christian right to claim it as such. God is mentioned four times, but obliquely, and never by name. Even so, the argument against kings derived much of its power from the vigor of Christian thought. The historian Pauline Maier was right to label this bit of parchment our American Scripture.

. . . .

It may disconcert both liberals and evangelicals to learn that they have a lost history together. From Barry Goldwater to Ronald Reagan and onward, Republicans have been conspicuously more comfortable speaking about God than their opponents. Dwight Eisenhower may have started the trend when his 1953 inaugural parade featured “God’s Float,” which a religion writer likened to an oversize molar. No administration ever listened more attentively to evangelical voices than that of George W. Bush, who declared it the official policy of the United States to “rid the world of evil.”

At first blush, Barack Obama may strike evangelicals as an unreconstructed liberal or, in other words, beyond salvation. But he is wise to reach out to them at a moment when the geological sands are shifting beneath our feet. Now and then he speaks in the ancient accents, promising to create “a kingdom right here on earth” or arguing that “our individual salvation depends on our collective salvation.” Those phrases slip by, generally unnoticed by his partisans (who are evangelical in their own way). They are worth noting in the months ahead. Not only do they connect us to the richness of a deep American past; they might even point to the better future we’ve been waiting for since, well, forever.

Read the rest here.

Support for the Archbishop

Delegates attending the annual conference of USPG: Anglicans in World Mission have written to Archbishop Rowan Williams assuring him of their full support as he grapples with threats of a split in the Anglican Communion.

‘The USPG Annual Conference, including members of our Council and partners from over 15 countries, has been meeting at Swanwick. We send to you, our President, our warm greetings and the assurance of our prayers as the bishops and their spouses begin to gather ready for the Lambeth Conference.

‘We have heard at first hand how our fellow-Anglicans are responding to human suffering in Myanmar and Zimbabwe, in the Philippines and Sri Lanka. We have celebrated the way that USPG’s supporters in Britain and Ireland are helping to fund theological education and health care all around the world.

‘But we have also been saddened by some recent statements, including those from GAFCON last week, which can only deepen the divisions in our Communion, and particularly those which have attacked your own leadership.

‘We know that among our partners around the world, and among our supporters here in Britain and Ireland, there is a wide variety of views, held with integrity, on the issues which currently threaten the unity of our Communion. But we also believe that these partners and supporters have an overwhelming commitment to stay travelling together, they are praying for the Lambeth Conference to be a time of deep listening to God and to each other, and they thank God for the careful and often sacrificial leadership which you are offering.

‘This letter, greeted with acclaim at our final plenary, comes with our love and prayers as you prepare to welcome the bishops and their spouses to Canterbury. May the conference be a time of growth and healing; may it be a sign of the reconciliation and hope which we know in Jesus Christ, and which our world so desperately needs.’

Rethinking mission trips

The Washington Post reports that churches are re-thinking expensive overseas mission trips that are seen by critics as "religious tourism" undertaken by "vacationaries."

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Roman Catholic reaction to women as bishops

Reactions to the actions of the General Synod of the Church of England and the consecration of women as bishops continue although if all proceeds as planned, no woman will be consecrated a bishop until at least 2014. The Vatican Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity issued a statement Tuesday.

The Council is headed by Cardinal Walter Kasper. The statement reads:
“We have regretfully learned of the Church of England vote to pave the way for the introduction of legislation which will lead to the ordaining of women to the Episcopacy.

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The "peace pastor" is extreme

Extreme Clergy is a reality-show on Canada's Vision TV that follows a member of the clergy (priest, pastor or rabbi) with extreme dedication to helping people in extraordinary, often dangerous circumstances. The Anglican Journal reports on an Anglican priest who is featured on the program.

“Are they foolhardy or are they brave?” This is but one of many questions explored about Rev. Bill Baldwin, a retired Anglican priest from the diocese of Ottawa, and his fellow Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) members on Vision TV’s series called Extreme Clergy.

The documentary on Mr. Baldwin and the CPT, Peace Pastor, takes viewers from “beautiful Jerusalem to the devastated West Bank city of Hebron,” and provides a “visual reminder of the ongoing tragedy that engulfs Palestinians and Israelis.”

The episode about Mr. Baldwin and the CPT, Peace Pastor, is being shown tonight, July 7, 3.30 p.m. ET/ 12:30 PT.

Peace Pastor is fast-paced, poignant and cinematographically beautiful; it makes viewers understand why Mr. Baldwin and his fellow CPT members “get in the way” to bring a message of peace. More importantly, one is transported to the heart of the conflict in the Middle East, and meets men, women and children, who are struggling to make the most of a very dire situation.

Read: Anglican Journal Vision TV features Anglican priest in Extreme Clergy series

Learn more about Extreme Clergy here.

Bees at Lambeth Palace

Since becoming Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams has arranged to have ten beehives set up at Lambeth Palace.

The Telegraph reports:

The bees are back at Lambeth Palace. Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, sought out experts to set up hives in its grounds shortly after his appointment, and now there are 10.

Bees have been having a hard time of it recently, what with the varroa virus and the mysterious new syndrome that wipes out colonies. Their troubles seem sad, for bees have been regarded highly both in reality and in imagery for hundreds of years.

At the most solemn time of the Christian year, the feast of Easter, the bee figures in the formal hymn of praise to the light of the candle lit at the Vigil, representing the light of the risen Christ. "Accept this Easter candle, a flame divided but undimmed, a pillar of fire that glows to the honour of God," sings the deacon. "For it is fed by the melting wax, which the mother bee brought forth to make this precious candle."

Blogging the Qur'an

The Qur'an is the sacred book of Islam. In the view of Muslims it speaks to all humanity (not just those who believe) but its message is often hard to grasp. Its unconventional structure makes it unlike any other book and its 114 suras (chapters) are not arranged in chronological order but according to their length. Its literary style is considered by Arabic speakers to be neither prose nor verse but something unique.

Each week, writer, broadcaster and cultural critic Ziauddin Sardar blogs a different verse or theme of the Qur'an. Guardian columnist Madeleine Bunting helps frame the debate.

This week Humanity and Community are explored in verses 49:13, 30:32, 23:52, and 17:70.

"Why isn't this kind of astonishing insight more widely evident within the Islamic world?" The answer has two components. First, the Muslims are good at quoting the Qur'an but not very good at living up to it. Second, the current political conditions in Muslim societies, where despotism is the norm, and fanaticism is deeply entrenched, does not permit more enlightened interpretation of the Qur'an to come to the fore.

Equality is a recurrent theme of the Qur'an. All human beings are "the children of Adam" and have been "honoured" and made to "excel" (17:70). Furthermore, as God's creation we become truly human because each of has the breath, or spirit of God, breathed into us. Therefore, we all deserve to be treated with equality and dignity.

But the Qur'an goes on to make some more explicit points. All human beings, whatever their creed, race, class, and culture, are equal, we are told. And it is not just the individuals who deserve respect. The "diversity of your tongues and colours", we read in 30:20, are "his signs". So discrimination is forbidden not just on the basis of colour, but also on the basis of language and culture. The Qur'an insists that all languages and cultures are equal, equally important for maintaining diversity, and have to be valued equally. Thus Arabic is as important as, say, Swahili and Urdu, one language cannot claim superiority over the other. And the culture of, for example, Australian Aborigines is as important and deserving of respect as European cultures. One cannot assimilate the other; or relegate the other to the margins


For more about the project and the authors, click here.

Hospitality Initiative

Before the bishops arrive in Canterbury for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, hundreds of them will enjoy a taste of another part of Britain according to an Anglican Communion News Service press release.

Through the “Hospitality Initiative,” every bishop and spouse invited to the Lambeth Conference has also been invited to be the guest of an Anglican diocese in England, Wales, or Scotland. The response has been enormous, with hundreds accepting the invitation. They will spend five days in one of 57 dioceses stretching from Truro in the south to Moray, Ross and Caithness in the north and St David’s in the east.

Read it all below...

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G-8 promises questioned

As the G-8 meets in Japan, the promises of its member countries are being questioned.

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Press opinion and comment on women bishops

As usual, Thinking Anglicans is on top of things.

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Central African country's bishop will attend Lambeth

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Calvary petitions the court for monitor of Diocese of Pittsburgh

Lionel Deimel:

As the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh heads toward a “realignment” vote on October 4, 2008, when Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan plans to declare the entire diocese removed from The Episcopal Church to become a diocese of the province of the Southern Cone, loyal Episcopalians in Pittsburgh are becoming increasingly anxious about the looming apocalypse. Yesterday, however, they were given some reason to cheer, as Calvary Church attorney Walter P. DeForest rode to court on his white horse to file papers with the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. Calvary is petitioning the court to appoint a “monitor to inventory and oversee property held or administered by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to assure compliance with this court's order of October 14, 2005,” as well as to request “creation of an additional escrow account(s)” for parishes concerned about the use of their funds by the diocese for the benefit of a church other than The Episcopal Church.

Recall that Calvary sued Bishop Duncan and other leaders of the diocese in October 2003, as resolutions proposed by the bishop and passed by a special convention in September were clearly designed to facilitate the removal of property from the control of The Episcopal Church.

Read Deimel's post for a full account including links to the filing.

For further background check out this Daily Episcopalian post from December 2006.

Addendum: ENS has a thorough report with background.

Top 50 Anglicans rolled out: 41-50

The Telegraph today begins a 5 day series rolling out the names of the top 50 most influential persons in the Anglican Communion. Not influential as in The Queen or George H. W. Bush, but as in those with influence within the communion. Today they give us names 41-50.

The list was drawn up with the help of a panel, "the Rt Rev Nicholas Baines, Bishop of Croydon; Giles Fraser, vicar of Putney; Rachel Boulding, deputy editor, Church Times; Jim Naughton, communications officer for the Diocese of Washington; the Rev Canon Dr Jane Shaw, Fellow and Dean of Divinity of New College, Oxford; Andrew Carey, columnist, Church of England Newspaper."

Who do you expect to see in the top 50? Who would you like to see? Play along below, or at The Telegraph.

Methodist bishop responds to Virginia court

Posted at the blog re:conexxion, a statement from Charlene P. Kammerer, Resident Bishop Virginia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, and W. Clark Williams, Jr., Chancellor Virginia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church:

The Virginia Annual Conference strongly believes that theological disagreements within any denomination should be resolved according to the polity and discipline of the denomination itself, and not by the Court’s imposition of itself as arbiter of those disagreements, or by civil legislative mandate. This is true especially where such intrusion by the state courts and legislature permits the Court effectively to nullify the doctrine and discipline of a religious denomination, under which churches have been acting in agreement for years. Such a role by the state government and secular courts is inappropriate, and offends the First Amendment principles of separation of church and state which have been central to the religious freedom of Americans since the founding of our nation.
Read it all.

Archbishop Orombi believes gay people are out to kill him

New Vision Online has the story:

Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi yesterday said he fears for his life because of the campaign he has waged against homosexuals.

“Nowadays, I don’t wear my collar when I am in countries which have supporters of homosexuals,” he said while addressing Christians at Kitunga archdeaconry, West Ankole diocese in Ntungamo district.

“I am forced to dress like a civilian because those people are dangerous. They can harm anybody who is against them. Some of them are killers. They want to close the mouth of anybody who is against them.”

One might have supposed that Henry Orombi could have walked down any street in America wearing a t-shirt that said, "Hey, I'm Henry Orombi" and people still wouldn't have recognized him. But perhaps not. Nonetheless he seems to have a very peculiar sort of person on his tail--someone who can distinguish him for the legions of clergymen of African ancestry who travel Western countries every day while he is wearing his collar, but who loses the scent entirely when he spiffs up in khakis and a cardigan.

The story doesn't mention threats against Orombi,and certainly not threats coming from all "countries which have supporters of homosexuals." Perhaps the archbishop can provide more specfic information. Or perhaps he has just confirmed all of the worst suspicions of his detractors. Whatever the case, the instances of violence against gays and lesbians are likely to remain more numerous than the instances of violence by gays and lesbians against Anglican archbishops.

Hat tip: Thinking Anglicans.

Live from Lambeth! Well, not quite yet

Live from Lambeth: Well, not quite yet. Beginning sometime in the next few days, the Café’s editor Jim Naughton will be reporting from England on the Lambeth Conference and related events. You can expect "Live from Lambeth" dispatches daily--at least. The Café’s other news bloggers will continue to round up and synthesize coverage of the events shaping the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion from the mainstream media, bloggers, and the church press. So stop by to find out what the bishops are up to, and whether Jim and the Café’s team can figure out how to edit the video he captures on his new Flip camera.

To read only our entries on the Lambeth Conference, visit this section of The Lead.

Is globalization driving schism?

David Williamson of the Western Mail thinks so:

There have been grand tensions and international debates within religions and denominations in the past, such as the split between Roman Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox churches in the 11th century.

But never before has communication between factions been so simple and fast. Tracts and polemics are no longer taken by brave riders on horseback along mountain passes populated by barbarian bandits. Instead, an outraged bishop in San Francisco or Kigali can simply post a screed on a blog, which will be read by an audience of millions in hours.

This has created the incredible situation where individual parishes unhappy with local leadership start to wonder, “Why don’t we switch allegiance to that compelling chap on a different continent?”

There is something to this argument, but it is important to ask: a) in what sense are parishes who put themselves under a foreign bishop seeking to escape any episcopal oversight while remaining nominally Anglican and b) when African archbishops spout 19th century evangelical theology in speeches written for them by American conservatives, is that an example of globalization enabled or globalization coopted?

The T'graph's "influential," 40-31

The next installment in The Sunday Telegraph's list of the 50 most influential Anglicans is online. In order of increasing influence, 40-31, they are: Kathy Grieb, Ian Ernest, Michael Poon, Bob Duncan, Kendall Harmon, Paul Hadley, Susan Russell, Philip Giddings, Jane Williams, Barry Morgan.

Our previous item, names 50-41, is here.

Mwamba dismisses doomsayers

From Bishop Trevor Mwamba's address to the Modern Churchpeople’s Union:

“I dismiss the doomsday predictions of those who glimpse the breakup of the Anglican Communion at a drop of a hat. The simple reality is that the majority of African Anglicans, about 37 million of them, are frankly not bothered with the debate on sexuality. A bishop from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, told me that the people in his diocese were not in the least interested in the issue. This is just the tip of the iceberg because in my own Province of Central Africa contrary to what the renegade ex-bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga, and David Virtue have said the debate on sexuality is not also an issue. We can multiply these examples across Africa."


“It is time we focused our energies in doing God’s mission in the world and strengthening the many things we have in common rather than on those on which we differ."

“Let us then straight, gay, liberal, conservative, moderate, Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical, traditionalist, Africans and Americans, Asians, Europeans get into each other’s worlds and be enriched in the discovery of our oneness in Christ and together enlarge God’s kingdom of love where everybody has a seat at the table."

“Let’s beware of excommunicating each other here on earth. For we shall find in heaven we are still bound together at the table of Christ’s love. Archbishop Akinola sitting next to Bishop Gene Robinson for such is the kingdom of God.”

The mad Christians in the attic

Stephen Bates, writing in The New Statesman says:

Pity the poor old Church of England. Desperate in its search for relevance in the face of shrinking congregations and wider public indifference, the Established Church could not have chosen two issues more likely to make it appear institutionally decrepit among those it wishes to proselytise than its perceived discrimination against women and gay people.

Like Mr Rochester's first wife, the misogyny and homophobia of its factions keep leaping out of the attic to scare off decent folk. No use conservative evangelicals and high church Anglo-Catholics insisting the Church's interminable internal rows are all about obedience to scriptural authority and the protection of tender consciences. What the public sees is arcane debates, conducted with a ferocity more in keeping with the 1980s Labour Party than an institution founded on hope and charity.

Although the Church's General Synod in York eventually voted in favour of consecrating female bishops and developing a code of practice to protect those who cannot bear the idea, it did so in defiance of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and a phalanx of bishops who wanted stronger safeguards to protect opponents of the move. There were tears from some of the men, and the Bishop of Winchester - a figure of limited congruence with modern life - denounced the vote as mean-spirited and short-sighted.

Meanwhile, the whole female bishop thing is working out pretty well over here, as Bishop Cathy Roskam told The Wall Street Journal. See their blog on this, as well.

If Central Africa were in America...

Have a look beneath the Read More sign below. If what is happening in the Province of Central Africa--where people are being denied the bishops that they have elected and having other candidates forced upon them--were happening in the Episcopal Church, how many emergency meetings of the Primates would have been convened? How many border crossings justified? How many stories about imminent schism written?

Would the Episcopal Church be justified in sending a bishop to Africa to rescue these folks, or is that only acceptable when the dissenters are white Western conservatives?

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T'graph creates controversy where none exists

This Telegraph story on Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is a classic example of an ideologically-motivated newspaper writing conflict-mongering headlines that the text of the story cannot support.

The PB didn't "wade in" to anything; she was asked a question and she answered. She didn't say those who oppose having women as bishops "simply don't like them," she said that was among the issues for some opponents. And she doesn't "accuse" the English Church of going too slow, as writer Martin Beckford has it. She said that the English way of proceeding on this issue looks slow to Americans.

Strip away the T'graph's bluster. Read only the PB's quotes. Then decide if you would characterize the interview as they did.

Ndungane says G-8 is hat sans cattle

The former Archbishop of Capetown analyzes the recent G-8 Summit and finds himself profoundly unimpressed. Read this commentary.

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Williams speaks on Communion structure

The Church Times reports on an interview with Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury:

In the long term, the Anglican Communion would survive, he argues. “We may be less obviously at one for a few years, but that doesn’t let us off the obligation to keep listening to each other.” The model of diffused authority was part of the essence of Anglicanism: “If we did have a tight central model, we would cease to be the kind of Church we have always set out to be.”

The Church does, however, need to keep up to date with the new speed of global communications: “When something which happens in one province is instantly around the world, you have to go for a more coherent structure.”

(The full interview is available to subscribers only.)

What would that "more coherent structure" be if it is not "a tight control model"?

For thoughts on Williams' thinking see today's essay in the Daily Episcopalian by Adrian Worsfold.

Orombi clarifies, digs deeper

New Vision reports that Henry Orombi, Anglican Primate of Uganda, has clarified statements he made earlier in the week:

Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi yesterday clarified that he did not say gays were planning to kill him or that he fears for his life over his campaign against the practice. This followed reports that the bishop had told Christians at Kitunga in Ntungamo district that he feared for his life over his anti-gay stance. Orombi noted that gays were not only in the church, but were a big movement and some of them were drug addicts, who could kill anybody.
His earlier remarks were rather specific, including:
“Nowadays, I don’t wear my collar when I am in countries which have supporters of homosexuals,” he said while addressing Christians at Kitunga archdeaconry, West Ankole diocese in Ntungamo district.

“I am forced to dress like a civilian because those people are dangerous. They can harm anybody who is against them. Some of them are killers. They want to close the mouth of anybody who is against them.”

It seems the hair the Archbishop seeks to split is that he does not fear that homosexuals are out to kill him specifically. But if so, why not wear his collar?

Read more »

AP interviews Presiding Bishop

Rachel Zoll interviewed Katherine Jefferts Schori on the eve of the Lambeth Conference of bishops of the Anglican Communion. The Presiding Bishop stayed on message.

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The T'graph's "influential," 30-21

The third installment in The Sunday Telegraph's list of the 50 most influential Anglicans is online. In order of ascending influence, 30-21, they are: Michael Ingham, Nicky Gumbel, Giles Fraser, Mouneer Anis, Benjamin Nzimbi, John Chew, Howard Ahmanson (about whom brings mention of "an influential treatise, ‘Following the money’ by Jim Naughton"), John Chane, Lucy Winkett, Ian Douglas.

Our previous item, names 40-31, is here.

Robinson to Williams: Show leadership

Bishop Gene Robinson offered advise to Archibishop Rowan Williams at the annual conference of the Modern Churchpeople's Union held in Hertfordshire and chaired by the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan. His comments are summarized on the Modern Church Blog:

The openly gay bishop who has not been invited to the forthcoming Lambeth Conference last night said all Anglican leaders had a duty to care for the souls of all their flock, whatever their sexuality.

Rt Rev Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, said it was time for the church to decide what it was going to stand for to its gay members – whether it would be somewhere they would feel welcome or rejected. He called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to show leadership on the issue, rather than just try to manage it.

. . .

He warned that telling gay people to go to some churches was akin to telling an abused wife to go back to her husband. He also compared the church’s attitude to him as that to parents whose son or daughter tells them they are coming out. He said:

“What is happening now in the Anglican Communion is what happens in a family when a kid comes out. It goes through a process of grieving and resistance to change until it can find a revised world view. .This church is not ours to win or lose, it is God’s church . It may be looking pretty rough now but God will take care of it. It may look a bit different in the end but God is not going to abandon his church so we don’t need to be so afraid.

“We are not at liberty to think we are on the selection committee for God’s family, our job is to be on the welcome committee and the sooner we learn that in the Anglican Communion the better off we will be.

“I don’t believe God stopped revealing himself when the canon of scripture was closed. God promises to be with us and never let us go. We are promised that the spirit will lead us into all truth. I believe that God is now leading us to the full inclusion of people of all types of sexuality. Maybe where we’re headed is just to acknowledge that all of us are incredibly diverse and God loves us all.”

Bishop Gene said he felt it was vitally important for him to attend the Lambeth Conference, even if he can only be there informally.

“Why am I going to Lambeth? I’m going to do my very best to let whatever light of Christ there is in me to shine. I don’t know what else to do. I don’t want those guys to meet and not be reminded of my presence. I want to remind them that they are in charge of their flock and they have gay people there and that gay and lesbian souls are every bit as worth saving as straight souls. I want them to have a chance to meet me and get to know me – because it is in meeting and communicating that the world is changed. I want gay people to know that they are God affirmed."

Read it all here.

Bishop Kirk Smith: exclusion of Robinson insulting

In an interview with the Tucson-based Arizona Daily Star, Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona calls the exclusion of Bishop Gene Smith from Lambeth "insulting" to the Episcopal Church:

"I think it's a very insulting thing to the American church that a duly elected bishop is told he's not allowed to come," said Smith, who will be attending his first Lambeth Conference.

"The vast majority of my colleagues feel quite upset. But Gene himself told us, 'You need to go and make your case.' He has been gracious and complied with the archbishop of Canterbury. I hope I will be able to convince some of the bishops I meet with to meet Gene, so that he's not just a name."

Bishop Smith also spoke more broadly about the current controversy in the Anglican Communion about issues of sexuality and the future of the Communion:

"We have spent far too long arguing about these things, and we really need to get on with the mission of the church," Smith said. "One of my hopes for the Anglican bishops is that we can recommit ourselves to the larger mission, agree to disagree and get on with it."

Though he predicts a faction of the communion probably will leave, Smith is upbeat about the church's future.

"This group that met in Jerusalem, they don't want to be a part of it anymore. They are a minority — I think maybe five of 38 provinces. (But) some of those provinces, like Nigeria, are big," he said.

"We don't like to see anyone feel they have to leave for any reason. But will it mean end of church? Absolutely not. . . . I think the Anglican Communion will survive."

Read it all here.

The Times Lambeth Round-up

The Times has a very interesting round-up of thoughts by Bishops and about their "hopes and fears for the future of the Anglican Communion.

Here are some highlights:

Daniel Deng Bul, Primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan:

My expectation of Lambeth is that we have to unite the Anglican Communion. The Lord wants all the children in the Anglican Communion under His wing. If it doesn’t happen it will be a weakness for the Anglican world. I pray that the Anglican Communion will be mature enough so that we are able to iron out our differences.

John Bryson Chane, Bishop of Washington, DC :

Lambeth is an unique opportunity to clear the air in the Anglican Communion. For too long we have let our divisions impede our efforts on behalf of God’s Church and God’s poor. My greatest hope is that out of the earshot of the media, liberated from the temptation to play for political advantage, we may speak frankly, express grievances, explore our disagreements and seek reconciliation. Sixty of us began this difficult process at a meeting of North American and African bishops last summer in Spain. There we confronted the legacy of colonialism, age-old misunderstandings and significant theological differences. The conversations were sometimes wrenching, but always fruitful. Archbishop Williams has modelled Lambeth on Spain, and I find that profoundly encouraging. Our Communion will not be saved by legislation, nor by a covenant, but by affection, forbearance and mutual support.

Ronnie Bowlby, former Bishop of Southwark:

At the 1978 Lambeth conference an American bishop was heard to say: “What keeps the Anglican Communion together? Wippells” — an ecclesiastical outfitter which has supplied robes to many bishops over the years. A few years later I was at a meeting of MPs and bishops in London, among them Enoch Powell. His answer to the question, “What holds the Church of England together?” was succinct: “The Establishment”.

Those two comments have stuck in my mind, not because I think either is right but because there is enough truth in both to make one uneasy. Thirty years later the cracks are more evident, the glue less strong.

The key question then, as now, is how to enable change and evaluate it in the absence of an overarching authority and while staying together. I do not believe that the movement towards the full recognition of women’s ministry can be delayed indefinitely, even by Rome or the Orthodox churches, and change rarely comes all at once. Nor do I believe that we can continue to confuse promiscuity (which Scripture condemns) with responsible same-sex relationships. So my hope for the forthcoming conference participants is that they will dig deep into the foundational strengths of Anglicanism, especially through their prayer and study. These go much further back than the Reformation, and it will help all of us if there then emerges some kind of new covenant which gives weight to all our history and yet points firmly to the future. This in turn could help us to be patient with each other and to trust God to lead us into fuller truth.

Read them all here.

Blogging bishops and other Lambeth resources

The internet will be buzzing with blogging bishops, some with flip phones for videoblogging, during the Lambeth Conference. Here is your one-stop shopping for blogs by bishops and others who will be involved in the Fringe events or reporting on the every 10 year event. Bookmark this page for easy reference. Click on the name to find the site.

In addition to the bishops listed below, you'll want to follow The Lead, Live from Lambeth with our editor in chief, Jim Naughton.

Bishops blogging Lambeth

The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, Diocese of New Hampshire

The Rt. Rev. Kirk Smith, Diocese of Arizona

Lambeth Journal Episcopal Life blog featuring the following bishops:

Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania (lead blogger)
Laura Ahrens, Suffragan of Connecticut
Marc Andrus of California
Larry Benfield of Arkansas
Sergio Carranza, Assistant of Los Angeles
Neff Powell of Southwestern Virginia
Bavi Edna "Nedi" Rivera, suffragan of Olympia
Jean Zache Duracin of Haiti

Other bishops with active blogs

The Rt. Rev Alan Wilson, Area Bishop of Buckingham, Church of England.

The Rt. Rev. Christopher Epting, TEC Ecumenical Officer.

The Rt. Rev. Charles Jenkins, Diocese of Louisiana.

The Rt. Rev. Mike Hill, Bishop of Bristol, Church of England.

The Rt. Rev. James Stanton, Bishop of Dallas.

The Rt. Rev. Dorsey Henderson, Bishop of Upper South Carolina.

The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Bishop of California.

The Rt. Rev. George Packard, Bishop for Chaplaincies TEC.

The Rt. Rev. David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, Scotland.

Province of Brazil by the Rev. Francisco Silva, Provincial Secretary, Province of Brazil.

The Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen and The Rt. Rev. Stephen Lane, Diocese of Maine.

The Most Rev. Mauricio Andrade Province of Brazil.

The Rt Rev. Pierre Whalon, Churches in Europe TEC.

The Rt. Rev. Wayne Smith, Diocese of Missouri.

The Rt. Rev. Michael Hough, Diocese of Ballarat, Australia.

The Rt. Rev. Porter Taylor, Diocese of Western North Carolina.

The Rt Rev Larry Benfield, Diocese of Arkansas.

The Rt. Rev. Bob Duncan, Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The Rt. Rev. Tom Ely, Diocese of Vermont.

The Rt. Rev. Greg Kerr-Wilson, Bishop of Qu'Appelle (Canada)

The Rt. Rev. David Rossdale, Grimsby, UK:

Other sites more or less going all-Lambeth for the next several weeks:

LGBT Anglican Portal / Lambeth 2008, information gateway to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Anglicans at Canterbury during the Lambeth Conference.

epiScope Episcopal Church news site.

Newsline Episcopal Church site for the Press.

Dave Walker, Official Cartoonist for the Lambeth Conference and Church Times blog editor.

Did we miss any blogging bishops? Let us know.

Lamb to San Joaquin clergy: Are you in?

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin reports that Bishop Jerry Lamb, who leaves for Lambeth tomorrow, has asked all deacons and priests of the Diocese of San Joaquin to decide whether they will uphold their ordination vows to “...conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church“ and to make this commitment, in writing, by August 5.

The letter outlined three choices: 1) remain a clergy member of The Episcopal Church, 2) no longer “exercise ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church ... for reasons not affecting my moral character” or 3) declare no longer consider self to be a clergy in The Episcopal Church. While stating his hope clergy would elect to remain clergy members in The Episcopal Church, Bishop Lamb noted that the second option leaves the door open to return. In his letter Bishop Lamb stated he is “committed to providing you every opportunity to communicate with me regarding these issues.... It is important that we reach clarity so that we each may move forward.” Noting that he had made numerous attempts to invite priests and deacons into conversation, he again stated his willingness to talk with anyone.
The complete release and a copy of the letter itself is available from the home page of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

One man in the name of unity

Despite the archbishop of Nigeria's injunction against doing so, the Right Rev Cyril Okorocha, the Bishop of Owerri, will attend Lambeth next week, according to Ruth Gledhill. She writes that he will be the only Nigerian bishop in attendance out of the 100 under Akinola's watch, although more than a dozen phoned in their regrets that they "dare not disobey their archbishop":

The Right Rev Cyril Okorocha, the Bishop of Owerri, will defy Dr Peter Akinola, the Nigerian primate, when he arrives at his host parish in Oxshott, Surrey, this weekend. He will be the only Nigerian bishop at the Lambeth conference when it opens on Wednesday.

A source close to the bishop, who used to be on the staff at Lambeth Palace, where he looked after mission, said that he was coming because he believed strongly in the unity of the Anglican Communion.

The remainder of the article focuses on the emerging rift in the Church of England, and the page includes a sidebar with links to archives on similar outcry against women's ordination in 1984. You can read it here.

The countdown continues: The T'graph's "influential," 20-11

The fourth installment in The Sunday Telegraph's list of the 50 most influential Anglicans is online. In order of ascending influence, 20-11, they are: Jenny Te Paa, Marc Andrus, Bonnie Anderson, Philip Aspinall, Martyn Minns, Lord Carey, Gregory Cameron, Kenneth Kearon, Drexel Gomez, and Tom Wright.

Our previous item, names 30-21, is here.

James, the "go-to" theologian for Democrats

The Washington Post today has a piece on how the Epistle of James is being invoked again and again by Democrats. The epistle, at times maligned for its emphasis on works (which, say critics through history, implies that it downplays faith), is regarded by many as one that emphasizes community and ethics.

The repeated references to James highlight an often overlooked and sometimes criticized book of the Bible. For centuries, its supposed conflict with St. Paul and the Protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone relegated it to the sidelines of biblical scholarship.

Yet the book is finding new life in American politics, with James emerging as the Democrats' go-to theologian, and his epistle as their favorite passage of Scripture.

" 'Faith without works is dead' translates politically into 'rhetoric without action is dead,' " said Kevin Coe, co-author of "The God Strategy: How Religion Became a Political Weapon in America.

James stresses the theme of faith in action perhaps more than any other book of the New Testament. Unlike other New Testament letters, many of them attributed to Paul, James plays down dogma in favor of practical ethical guidelines that center on loving one's neighbor and, in particular, serving the poor.

The article continues with some famous "James" moments in history, such as Luther's belittling it as the "Straw Epistle" and other times when it was invoked by abolitionists as well as the "Social Gospel" movement of the late 19th and early 20th century.

You can read it here.

Pope to stay out of Anglican debate

An article from the AP is saying that Benedict XVI is praying for the Anglican Church but he isn't inclined to weigh in.

Benedict said he did not want to "interfere" in the debate.

Still, the Vatican on Tuesday said the decision by the Church of England to allow women to become bishops will be an obstacle to its reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican does not permit the ordination of women.

You can read more here.

Live from Lambeth: Up and not quite running

By Jim Naughton

Greetings from Putney, where I am ensconced until Tuesday morning at the home of the Rev. Giles Fraser, his wife Sally and their three children, including Alice, the forbearing 12-year-old who has surrendered her bedroom so that I might have a place to sleep. I’d like to say that I hit the ground in England running, but it would be more accurate to say that I hit the ground eating and sleeping.

Not long after I arrived at Giles’ place, he and I decamped for breakfast with Bishop Gene Robinson, his partner Mark Andrew and Mike Barwell, Gene’s media relations man, who makes a mean plate of ham and eggs. It took much of the morning to figure out why my mobile phone wasn’t working. In the meantime, we visited Giles’ church, St. Mary’s Putney, hard by Putney Bridge, where the annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race begins. Some of the church dates to the, well, I forget, but a hell of a long time ago. It’s where the “Putney Debates” occurred during the English Civil War, and there’s a small room in the church where a visitor can close the door and listen to several educational videos about the controversy between the leaders of Cromwell’s army, and some of their soldiers who argued that they should have the right to vote. (I was half asleep when I watched these videos, so click on the link if you really want to know what they were arguing about.)

Afterwards I was fit for nothing but “getting some kip” as Giles says, which translates roughly into the American as “taking a nap.” I awoke just in time to eat some more. Giles and I met the Rev. Susan Russell and her partner Louise Brooks for a pizza in Putney. First, though, Giles took me to a pub so we could watch some cricket and he could explain to me why it was worth watching. I sent my wife an email saying that I was in a pub watching cricket with a man named Giles who was drinking a Guinness. Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

All right, enough of the travelogue I suppose. I go back to the church in a few hours to begin a day of media wrangling. Gene is doing about 14 brief interviews between noon and when he preaches at the 6:30 p. m. Eucharist at Giles’ church. Five of them are television interviews and two or three of those are live, so it could get rather hectic. A friend in the UK asked me before I came if I thought Gene had peaked and was on the way down, in terms of his media profile here in England. Apparently not quite. He’s just finished doing the Andrew Marr Show, which is the BBC's Sunday morning flagship political franchise. The church press may feel as though they have told his story often enough, but the secular media remains riveted. The BBC, Sky TV, ITV, AP, the Times, the Telegraph and the Guardian (for whom Gene wrote yesterday’s Face to Faith column) will all be on hand today, as will The Washington Post.

Giles’ family has just left for church. He serves two churches in the parish, and today is the only Sunday in the year on which he doesn’t have a morning service at both churches. Instead, they meet at the church which I haven’t seen yet, celebrate the Eucharist and have a big picnic. Giles’ and Sally’s six-year-old, Felix, tells me he is looking forward to playing in the “bouncy castle,” previously known to me as a “moon bounce.” Giles himself is bracing for some ribbing from his parishioners. As Café readers know, he was named one of the 50 most influential Anglicans by a panel of experts (including me, so perhaps “expert” like “kip” and “bouncy castle” requires a UK to US dictionary.) News of his eminence will be featured in print for the first time in today’s Sunday Telegraph.

“I am expecting a certain amount of piss-taking” Giles told me last night. I have read the Dalziel-Pascoe detective novels of Reginald Cook, in which piss-taking occurs on almost every page, so I knew that he meant he was expecting to be made fun of. Without such preparation, I might have wondered why he was telling me this.

Time to go wrestle with an ironing board, so my clothes don’t look as though I’ve slept in all of them.

The countdown concludes: The T'graph's "influential" top ten

The Telegraph finished its series on the 50 most influential Anglicans with the list of the ten most influential Anglicans. In descending order:

10. John Sentamu - Archbishop of York

9. Michael Nazir-Ali - Bishop of Rochester

8. Peter Jensen - Archbishop of Sydney, Australia

7. Greg Venables - Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone, South America

6. Desmond Tutu - Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa

5. Henry Orombi - Archbishop of Uganda

4. Gene Robinson - Bishop of New Hampshire

3. Peter Akinola - Archbishop of Nigeria

2. Katharine Jefferts Schori - Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of
the United States

1. Rowan Williams - Archbishop of Canterbury

Our previous item, names 20-11, is here.

A Sunday pre-Lambeth round-up

As Lambeth nears, we are starting to notice some interesting items in the U.K. Press. Here are a few items that caught our attention this morning:

The Telegraph reports that the Archbishop of Wales supports the consecratation of gay bishops:

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, told The Sunday Telegraph that practising homosexuals should not be barred from becoming bishops.

He accused conservative Anglicans of being “exclusive” and narrow-minded in their opposition to gay clerics.

His comments, which come on the eve of the Lambeth Conference - the Anglican communion’s ten-yearly gathering of bishops - are set to inflame the bitter controversy over homosexuality.

Dr Morgan said that he was in agreement with the decision of the American church five years ago to consecrate the homosexual cleric Gene Robinson as a bishop - the move which has pushed the Anglican church to the brink of schism.

The Independent reports on Bishop Gene Robinson's visit to the U.K. despite the lack of an invitation to Lambeth:

"I'm the first elected bishop not to be invited to the conference since it began in 1867," the Rt Rev Robinson told the IoS. "I must be a pretty scary guy." Used to inspiring deep feelings, he wore a bullet-proof vest to his consecration in 2003 after receiving "numerous and credible" death threats.

Tomorrow he will appear at the Southbank Centre in London for the premiere of the controversial documentary For the Bible Tells Me So, where the acclaimed actor and gay rights campaigner Sir Ian McKellen – who says "the church has to grow up" – will be at his side.

He will then travel to the University of Kent, where the conference is being held. He may speak at a fringe meeting but won't be an official delegate, although many of his supporters from America and many other countries will be – and this has been enough to make many traditionalists stay away.

. . .

The film he will introduce tomorrow looks at several deeply Christian families in America, including his own, who discover that some of their children are gay and try to reconcile religious teaching with their love for their offspring.

Sir Ian McKellen told the IoS: "The argument [the church] is having now is similar to the argument in the military in which heads of the service predicted its disintegration if gay people were allowed in. That is nonsense. They thought it was a problem particular to the military, but really it was the same old homophobia that exists everywhere."

The Press Association report of Bishop Robinson's sermon can be found here. The Telegraph has coverage here.

Kenyan primate: "When you face a challenge you don’t run and join another province"

Just so you know:

Questioned as to their relationship to Dr Kunonga by, the Archbishops of Kenya and Uganda said that though Dr Kunonga had sought their support, they had told him to work within the structures of the Province of Central Africa.

The Bishop of Harare came to see us about this request” for Harare to join the Church of Kenya , Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said. But he was told “ Harare belongs to Central Africa .”

It was improper for one province to interfere in the internal deliberations of another, the Kenyan archbishop said. “When you face a challenge you don’t run and join another province.” We told Dr Kunonga “go back to the Dean of that province to solve that problem.”

Uh, right:
If you receive an SOS from anywhere in the world we will move in.

- Peter Akinola

The new evangelicals

Frances FitzGerald offers an interesting essay about the so-called "New Evangelicals" in the New Yorker:

Just four years ago, during the last Presidential election, leaders on the religious right were the only white evangelicals whose voices were heard in the public arena. In their own gatherings, they proposed such things as the abolition of the capital-gains tax, a war on radical Islam, and an end to the “myth of separation” between church and state, but they concentrated their public campaigns on gay rights and abortion, the two issues that have resonated most strongly with evangelicals and helped to bring them into the Republican Party. Under the leadership of James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, and others, including Richard Land, the official in charge of public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention, activists organized “values voters” with the help of ballot initiatives in eleven states for constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage. In November, all the initiatives passed, and George W. Bush took seventy-eight per cent of the white evangelical vote—a record for a Presidential candidate. Because evangelicals make up a quarter of the population, the religious right claimed credit for giving President Bush his margin of victory.

This year, however, is very different. During the primary season, religious-right leaders could not unite around a candidate. On Super Tuesday, thirty per cent of evangelical Republicans voted for John McCain, the favorite of moderates and independents. Even more surprising, a third of evangelicals in Missouri and Tennessee chose to vote Democratic, as did, a month later, forty-three per cent in Ohio. Meanwhile, Barack Obama—unlike John Kerry, in 2004—has been trying to win over white evangelicals. In televised discussions sponsored by religious organizations, he has spoken of his faith, and framed issues such as health care and the war in Iraq in moral terms. In recent weeks, he has met privately with evangelical leaders and started to reach out to values voters. These efforts suggest that he is hoping to do as well as, if not better than, Bill Clinton, who won a third of the white evangelical vote in both 1992 and 1996. Mark DeMoss, a public-relations expert whose firm has worked for Focus on the Family and for Franklin Graham, is among those who think he can.

This view is based in large part on the fact that religious-right activists are no longer the only evangelical leaders speaking out. Since 2004, influential pastors and the heads of many large faith organizations have set a new national-policy agenda, one founded on their understanding of the life of Jesus and his ministry to the poor, the outcast, and the peacemakers. The movement has no single charismatic leader, no institutional center, and no specific goals. It doesn’t even have a name. But it is nonetheless posing the first major challenge to the religious right in a quarter of a century.

Read it all here.

Abortion, sex selection and crime

University of Chicago economist, Steven Levitt (also a contributor to Freakonomics) once wrote an intriguing (but controversial) paper arguing that the legalization of abortion in the 1970's was a major cause of the reduction in crime in the United States in the 1990s. Freakonomics now has a post that suggests that China's "One Child" policy, and the resulting sex selected abortions, is having the opposite effect in China:

If Roe v. Wade contributed to the U.S. crime drop of the 1990’s, could China’s one-child policy be having the opposite effect today?

When the Chinese government instituted the policy in 1979, it touched off a wave of sex-selective abortions as pregnant couples decided that if they could have only one child they would benefit most from having a boy. That helped leave modern China with the largest gender imbalance in the world. Today, there are 37 million more men than women in China, and many of the boys are growing up unable to find a job or start a family.

So what are these “surplus” boys doing to fill their time?

In The New Republic, Mara Hvistendahl reports that as the first generation of one-child boys have reached adolescence, the youth crime rate in China has more than doubled, as idle and frustrated boys turn to crime “without specific motives, often without forethought.”

We’ve looked at the effect of unwantedness on children. But what happens when unwantedness hits a generation of men as they get older?

Read it all here.

Heckler disrupts Gene Robinson's sermon


The BBC reports that as Bishop Robinson began his sermon at St. Mary's, Putney, a heckler interrupted the sermon and was escorted from the congregation.

The BBC described the situation this way:

It was a very Church of England way to deal with a heckler.

As a protester stood up to barrack the Right Reverend Gene Robinson, the world's first openly gay Anglican Bishop, the congregation did not abuse or strongarm him.

Instead, they opened their Orders of Service and began to sing.

Hymn number four: Thine Be The Glory, Risen, Conquering Son.

But for all the almost parodic Englishness of the churchgoers' response, this was an electrifying moment....

His address had begun unobtrusively enough among this largely liberal congregation, with a note of regret that human sexuality had become a point of focus for Anglicans rather than poverty and injustice.

How sad it was, Bishop Robinson remarked, that the Anglican Communion was "tearing itself apart" over the issue.

Then the heckler stood up.

"Because of heretics like you," he hollered.

Long-haired and clutching a motorcycle helmet, the interlocutor did not look much like most people's idea of a theological conservative.

But he yelled: "Go back, go back. Repent, repent, repent."

Bishop Robinson grimaced. Boos echoed around the church. A slow handclap began.

Then Giles Fraser, the parish's vicar, told his flock to open their hymn sheets.

The singing drowned out the heckles as the traditionalist was escorted from the building by churchwardens.

The congregation finished their verse. Silence was restored. With what looked like tears in his eyes, Bishop Robinson resumed his sermon, speaking softly this time.

"Pray for that man," he said.

Rachel Zoll from the AP reports:

Robinson preached Sunday at the 16th-century parish on the Thames River, despite a request from Williams that he not do so. A protester briefly interrupted the sermon, waving a motorcycle helmet and yelling "Repent!" and "Heretic!" before he was escorted out.

An emotional Robinson resumed preaching, asking parishioners to "pray for that man" and urging them repeatedly not to fear change in the church.

The Bishop continued his sermon after heckler was escorted out and drove away on a motor bike, according to another BBC report:

Read more »

Live: The sermon, the press, the protester, etc.

By Jim Naughton

The Bishop of New Hampshire's day ended with Chinese food and chocolate ice cream. He sat with some 15 friends in a second floor conference room in St. Mary’s Church in Putney, talking about nothing in particular, as though he had passed a normal day, with another on the horizon.

Three hours earlier, the church had been filled beyond its seating capacity, as more than 500 worshippers jammed into the sanctuary, gallery and overflow areas to hear Robinson preach for the first time in an English church. The crowd included Ben Bradshaw, a member of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's cabinet; some 20 clergy, including Marilyn McCord Adams and Giles Goddard, activists like Katie Sherrod and Davis Mac Iyalla, a passel of press, and scores of plain old parishioners--the folks who keep St. Mary's running.

Robinson had been talking from almost the moment he woke up that morning. Before arriving at the church at noon, he had done three interviews with the BBC. Two of those were radio conversations, one for the BBC World Service and the other for a national news feed. In between, he and his friend and ally Sir Ian McKellen sat for a conversation with Andrew Marr on his influential Sunday morning program.

Once he hit the church, Robinson dove into the first of a dozen more interviews, this one with Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press. Over the next five hours he spoke with Robert Pigott of the BBC, ITN television, Sky TV, Channel 4 TV, Ruth Gledhill of the Times of London, Steve Daughty of the Daily Mail, Mary Jordan of the Washington Post, Solange DeSantis of Episcopal Life Media, a reporter from the Press Association and others.

In the midst of this media blitz--which continues tomorrow with an interview with Reuters and several other outlets--it is worth remembering that after Rowan Williams decided not to invite Robinson to the Lambeth Conference, Lambeth Palace, by way of a peace offering, offered to procure for him a single interview with a major media outlet.

All day Robinson spoke of his sympathy for Williams, whom he said cannot make a move without disappointing or infuriating someone. However, he said he was unwilling for the bishops to meet without reminding them, in a friendly way, that there are marginalized gay and lesbian Christians in every province of the Communion, who were no longer willing to remain unseen and unheard.

Robinson was far from unseen. For the first two minutes of his sermon, eight newspaper photographers snapped away as he thanked people for coming and urged them to come back on subsequent Sundays. Meanwhile, a pool camera, manned by a crew from the BBC, recorded the events.

Robinson was in the midst of telling the crowd in St. Mary's that the Communion was tearing itself apart of the secondary issue of sexuality while millions struggled through life on less than $1 per day, when a broad-chested man with shoulder length brown hair rose and began shouting. Dressed in a black Triumph t-shirt and black leather pants, he waved his motorcycle helmet at Robinson, called him a heretic and demanded that he repent. The St. Mary's congregation quickly began rhythmic clapping, the organist struck up a hymn, and several members of the congregation escorted the man from the sanctuary. Outside, he stood for several minutes near his bike, pulled on his black leather jacket and matching gloves, and departed.

Before the night was over, a journalist who wasn't present got in touch with St. Mary's vicar, the Rev. Giles Fraser and jokingly asked him whether he'd pulled the man off of the street and paid him to disrupt the service to create as unfavorable an image as possible of Robinson's adversaries.

Robinson resumed his sermon by asking the congregation to pray for the man who was outside preparing to ride away. The remainder of the Eucharist, was like any other, except the music was better than most churches, and the temperature higher due to the overcrowding.

When the service was over, the impromptou dinner party broke out on the terrace outside Fraser's office overlooking the Thames, then moved indoors when the weather got cool.

Tomorrow evening, Robinson and McKellen will host the British premier of Dan Karslake's documentary For the Bible Tells Me So, which tells the story of how six conservative Christian families, including Robinson's, came to terms with having a gay child. Until then, readers might want to look in on The Guardian, which sent five or six reporters, each of whom will write about the evening for a different section of the paper.

Report of Gene's sermon is here

Live: the sermon, the protester, the press, etc. Part II

By Jim Naughton

Last night I wrote in haste, so this morning I hope to reflect at something like leisure. We are sitting in Giles’ office at the church going through the morning papers and perusing the news web sites one last time. The protester who disrupted Bishop Gene’s sermon last night is in just about every paper, even the Sun, which features “Gay bishop’s ear-bashing” just a few pages beyond the topless “Page 3 girl.” I learned just this morning that the sermon was deemed of such importance that the BBC carried the entire sermon live on its 24-hour news channel.

The ubiquity of the event made the 10-minute stroll from Giles’ home to the church a real pleasure. People kept stopping us on the high street (Why don’t we have high streets in the U. S? Can anything be done about this? A new political party, perhaps?) to congratulate their vicar and tell him how well things had gone. I didn’t realize it, but Giles had planned for a potential disturbance, and had even chosen the hymn the congregation sang to drown out the protester. My favorite moment on the high street (I am resolved to use this phrase as frequently as possible) occurred when Jim Madden, a 6-foot-5 inch former constable and Conservative member of the Putney council embraced Giles and said that he was glad he wasn’t seated near the protester because he wasn’t sure he would have treated him as gently as the situation required.

When we arrived at the church and Renu, Giles’ administrative assistant, and Rob, St. Mary's indefatigable sexton were already in the office. Renu, a slight Indian woman who helped out with arrangement, security and media wrangling yesterday, told us that her sister asked her whether she got to wear a bullet-proof vest. “I told her all I had was my Marks and Spencer under wire bra,” Renu said.

Renu and Pria, a BBC’s producer who is also slight, personable and Indian, were constantly being mistaken for one another as they scurried around the church yesterday. “The one day you get two Indian women in the church and no one can tell them apart,” Renu said.

Anyway, about the papers, at first I was concerned that the protest had displaced the sermon (and all of those laboriously arranged interviews that I wrote about yesterday) as the story. But it was probably the protest that pushed the story towards the top of the news. And anyone who watched film of the protest, saw how gently it was handled, and how Gene resumed his sermon by asking the congregation to pray for the protester. More importantly, stories that boil down to dueling opinions eventually fade from view--or, at the very least, they fail to progress. The protest gave the story a sense of movement. Something happened. It wasn’t much--there had been one protester outside before the Eucharist, there was one inside during--but it conveyed a sense that this momentous message that Gene was bringing to the English church was being absorbed and that people were responding.

Coming on the heels of the story about the gay blessing service at St. Bartholomew’s Church in London, the extravagant publicity garnered by Gene’s appearances here, makes it increasingly untenable for an English bishop to argue, as Tom Wright does, that the controversy over the morality of gay relationships is a North American concern. The veil that the English church has drawn to hide its gay clergy and obscure the tolerant practices of many of its bishops has been pulled back, at least for the moment. Rowan Williams may continue to speak about the American churches divergence from “the mind of the Communion,” but his listeners will be aware that he isn't necessarily in touch with the mind of his own church.

Meanwhile.... There are a couple of bits of information floating loose in the world this morning, and I wanted to say a bit about them.

1. It is true that many people in the Episcopal Church would like to get us out from under Resolution B033, the legislation passed on the last day of our 2006 General Convention which calls upon "Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.“ This isn’t a secret. Numerous dioceses have already submitted resolutions to next year’s General Convention asking that the legislation be repealed, or superseded. If this legislation passes (a big if--I am not sure there are enough votes in the House of Bishops to get the job done) a gay candidate would have a better chance of being elected and confirmed. The notion that if the legislation passed we’d immediately elect another gay bishop is speculative. The notion that we’d suddenly have five or six is hallucinatory. At this point, it is not even possible to know for which dioceses will be electing bishops, which priests would be chosen as candidates, or how the internal dynamics of the dioceses would affect the elections. (I have gone on about this at some length because I have had calls from three reporters about this story this morning.)

2. Integrity has not provided cell phones for all of the Episcopal bishops attending the Lambeth Conference--or even for those sympathetic to its agenda. The Episcopal Church has provided cell phones for all its bishops--and their spouses, too, I believe.

It seems likely to me that the level of misinformation and disinformation about the Episcopal Church is likely to increase in the next few weeks.

Video of Gene's sermon is here.

UPDATE: From the Daily Telegraph:
Photographer's exposure

Today Mandrake can name [the heckler] as Graham Maxwell, a freelance photographer who, it emerges, has been employed by the London Fire Brigade to cover its participation in two Gay Pride marches in London.

Maxwell declined to comment when Mandrake asked whether he saw any incongruity in the protest that he made and what he has done for a living.

One feed to read them all


Last week, the Episcopal Cafe Lead news team put together a list of all the bishops that are blogging during Lambeth, either as part of their existing blog or as part of a blog specially assembled for Lambeth. We posted the resulting list here.

This editor, being of the time-oppressed sort, spent the better part of Saturday putting the bishops with RSS feeds into one feed, which you can subscribe to here. The only two we could not add were Bp. Ely of Vermont and Bp. Hough of Ballarat.

Please note that we didn't include the non-bishop blogs and sites referred to in the first post, so be sure to check it out if you missed it.

Addendum: In using the same process to repair the Episcopal Cafe feed for our Facebook fan page, we also established a Twitter stream here.

US & Sudanese Primates worship together

Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori took part in the 10:30 a.m. Eucharist at Salisbury Cathedral on July 13.

Episcopal News Service reports that the liturgy was part of the pre-Lambeth Conference Hospitality Initiative. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the bishops of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) are visiting the Church of England's Diocese of Salisbury and participating in the life and ministry of the city's historic cathedral in its 750th anniversary year. An ENS photograph shows Bul and Jefferts Schori before the procession int the historic cathedral.

The report, below, describes Jefferts Schori's preaching schedule yesterday:

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Epic life of Jesus

Ecumenical News International's Anto Akkara, reports that a Hindu woman living in India has produced a 900-page poetic epic on the life and message of Jesus following the style of Hindu classics such as Mahabharat and Ramayan.

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Bishop Howe quits Anglican Communion Network

Interim Rector of Trinity Church, Vero Beach Dean Rick Lobs writes that the Rt. Rev John Howe, Bishop of the Diocese of Central Florida is pulling out of the Anglican Communion Network.

Saying that he wants to stay in The Episcopal Church and in full communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe has dropped his support of the Anglican Communion Network led by Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan and thrown in his lot with the Anglican Communion Institute, (ACI) a group that wants to stay and fight for change in The Episcopal Church.

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Eve of the Lambeth Conference

The Guardian has several articles on the eve of the Lambeth Conference. Giles Fraser reflects on his time with Gene Robinson and Stephen Bates wonders if Archbishop Rowan Williams is the man for the job of holding the Anglican Communion together.

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LIve: a late night with Ian McKellen

Sir Ian McKellen performed the soliloquy that Shakespeare contributed to the play Sir Thomas More at the close of a question and answer session in which he participated with Bishop Gene Robinson after the British premier of the film For the Bible Tells Me So, by Dan Karslake., last night in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

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Live: Gene and Gandalf

By Jim Naughton

Before last night’s British premier of For the Bible Tells Me So, director Dan Karslake sat in the Green Room at the South Bank Arts Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre and tried to explain to Sir Ian McKellen why he had made the film. Dan said that because Biblical justifications are central to the defense of anti-gay policies, he felt that it was important to examine what the Bible actually said about long term, monogamous homosexual relationships (which, the clergy and scholars in the film argue is: nothing). But more important, he said, was his belief that people’s attitudes are changed most profoundly through intimate relationships, and because there are few relationships more intimate than that bond between parent and child, he decided to focus on how conservative Christian parents came to terms--or failed to come to terms--with a child’s homosexuality.

Elsewhere in the room, Bishop Gene Robinson, his partner Mark Andrew, a two-man documentary film crew and some theatre staff finished ironing out the evening’s logistics The design for the evening was straight forward. Sir Ian would introduce the film, after the film he’d introduce Bishop Gene, they’d converse, talk show-style for about five minutes, and then Sir Ian would open the floor to questions.

There was really only one suspenseful element to the evening: would 13-year-old Chris Naughton’s father be able to obtain Sir Ian’s autograph and thus be re-admitted to the bosom of his family, or fail ignominiously due to lack of nerve and be banished.

On stage a few minutes after his conversation with Karslake, McKellen outlined the evening for the audience, described how he had seen the film for the first time on a whim in Minneapolis one afternoon, and loved it, mentioned that it had won awards at nine film festivals and played in hundreds of churches, referred to Bishop Gene as “a hero of our time” and sat down in the front row.

I will write more about the film at another time, I hope. Suffice it to say that it deserved the standing ovation it received, and that some of the testimony Karslake elicited from the parents he spoke with will move even seasoned culture warriors. The question and answer period had a familiar feel to anyone who has ever watched a black backdrop sort of interview program. Gene spoke about meeting Karslake for the first time, when the director some how talked his way through security on the day of Gene’s consecration in New Hampshire to make his pitch.

“I knew I could trust him,” Gene said. More important: “I knew I could trust him with my parents. And were they not adorable?"

To McKellen’s question about why he wasn’t content just to do his work with the people of his diocese, a question much on the lips of those in the Communion who find his presence here inconvenient (and his popularity a rebuke) Gene responded: “I am with them 90 percent of the time, but all they ever hear about is when I get to sit on a stage with Sir Ian McKellen and do fancy things.”

He said that often, on the day following a big media event, he’s in a church basement eating macaroni and cheese, followed by a Jello mold dessert.

"If you want to see what the church is going to be about when we stop obsessing about sex,” Gene said, “come to New Hampshire.”

His best applause line of the evening was: “It’s time for us to take back the Bible from people who have been using it as a bludgeon against some of the most vulnerable members of society.”

The question and answer session elicited only sympathetic queries. One questioner described sitting behind the protester who interrupted Gene’s sermon on Sunday night at St. Mary’s, and being verbally abused by the man before he was escorted from the building. A few moments later a priest in the audience said he actually knew the protester, and said he wasn’t such a bad fellow once you got to know him and understood some of the difficulties he had faced in his own life. He gave the man’s name, but I haven’t had a chance to verify it, so I won’t disclose it here.

Another of Gene’s better moments came when he described how everyone in the gay rights movement, as in all human rights movements, “stand on the shoulders” of those who came before them. Referring to the Stonewall uprising in Greenwich Village in the late 1960s, he said, “I am here because some drag queens got sick and tired of being harassed by the police.”

The evening ended with Sir Ian performing a speech that Shakespeare wrote for a play not his own: The Book of Sir Thomas More. (The theme is the inhumanity of persecuting strangers, and you can read it by clicking on Read More.)

When Gene asked him if he would perform the speech for him as a favor, Sir Ian said, yes, adding, "you've practically converted me to Christianity."

As for the suspense: at the last possible moment, just as he was to walk out of the Green Room door with some friends, Sir Ian remembered that Chris Naughton’s dad was hoping for his signature.

“There you are,” he said. “Does he know Lord of the Rings?

“Yes, and X Men and...”

But Lord of the Rings was enough. Sir Ian wrote Chris’ name on the top of my notebook page, then in hasty strokes he drew the profile of Gandalf the wizard with smoke coming from his pipe. “Love from London. Ian McKellen, 2008.”

I am not going home tomorrow. But I could.

(Hat tip: Mike Barwell).


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Presbyterians approve ties with Episcopal Church

According to a report in The Living Church, The Presbyterian Church, USA, has agreed to move forward in dialogue with The Episcopal Church.

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Faith and the fall congressional elections

While there has been a great deal of attention about the importance of faith to the 2008 Presidential election, there has been less attention paid to the fact that "faith friendly" Democrats look to gain some seats in Congress this fall. Christianity Today has the story:

While polls show Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama running neck and neck for the presidency, the Democrats appear poised to significantly expand their congressional majorities. A couple of factors are tilting key races their way.

First, the faltering economy, gas prices, and the ongoing war in Afghanistan and Iraq seem to be higher priorities for voters than social issues. Second, in regions where social issues still count with voters, Democrats are once again nominating faith-friendly social moderates in some conservative congressional districts, a strategy they employed with some success in 2006.

So long as the strategy works, Democratic leadership will continue to recruit candidates from the conservative wing of their party, said Amy Black, associate professor of political science at Wheaton College. This year, pro-life Democrats have already won special elections in Louisiana and Mississippi.

"The special elections in Louisiana and Mississippi show that traditional GOP voters are prepared to switch parties for Democrats who run as social conservatives," said Mark Silk, founding director of the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life.

. . .

Democrats are in a position that we haven't seen in a century: to follow up a landslide victory with another, possibly even a larger one," said Eric Sapp, senior partner at Common Good Strategies, which helps Democratic candidates to engage religious communities. "That will be really significant, perhaps most importantly because the Democrats that have been winning and will be coming into Congress are much more 'faith-friendly' and tend to come from strong faith backgrounds themselves."

Common Good Strategies worked in 2006 with three victorious Democratic candidates: Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, and Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio. All three politicians outperformed the Democratic average among white evangelicals by about 17 percentage points. And each candidate's Republican opponent was a noted social conservative.

The Democratic openness to faith comes at the same time Republicans want to prove they are not beholden to the Religious Right, Silk said. But he noted that there is still time for the political terrain to shift.

Read it all here. Note that "faith friendly" does not need to mean social conservative. Of the three candidates that worked with Common Good Strategies--Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, and Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio--only Casey is a true social conservative.

Who's not there and who is

Riazat Butt of the Guardian describes a few of the bishops who are not attending Lambeth and why. Meanwhile, at least one Nigerian bishop and one Kenyan bishop have defied their archbishops and are going to Lambeth anyway. In other news, Greg Venables, primate of the Southern Cone has revealed that Bishop John-David Schofield will not be attending.

Butt has a brief paragraph on the following (as she lists them):

The Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Rev Peter Akinola
The Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev Peter Jensen
The Bishop of Rochester, the Right Rev Michael Nazir-Ali
The Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev Henry Luke Orombi
Martyn Minns

Minns won't be far away. He is going to be on vacation in Britain and so will be nearby Lambeth, as Time magazine once said, "just in case he's needed." And remember at GAFCON when Archbishops Orombi and Akinola could not bring themselves to condemn anti-gay violence in their countries, it was left to Archbishop Jensen to say the right things to the press.

While Orombi and Akinola are staying home, we have reports that at least two bishops, one from Kenya and the other from Nigeria, are attending Lambeth anyway.

+Beneah Okumu of Mumias, Kenya is listed as a pre-Lambeth visiting bishop in the diocese of St Asaph. He is on the list of bishops on the Church of Wales website. (thanks to MJ commenting on TA).

The other bishop is the Right Rev Cyril Okorocha, the Bishop of Owerri, as we noted earlier.

The Guardian: Riazatt Butt-- Lambeth Conference: The Absentees.

ACNS currently puts the number of bishops expected at 650, or more than 75%.

According to the Diocese of San Joaquin, Southern Cone, Archbishop Greg Venables reveals, that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has written that John-David Schofield has declined his invitation to the Lambeth Conference:

"I understand that Bishop John-David Schofield has been accepted as a full member of the episcopal fellowship of the Province of the Southern Cone within the Anglican Communion and as such cannot be regarded as having withdrawn from the Anglican Communion. However, it is acknowledged that his exact status (especially given the complications surrounding the congregations associated with him) remains unclear on the basis of the general norms of Anglican Canon Law, and this constitutes one of the issues on which we hope for assistance from the Windsor Continuation Group. Bishop Schofield has elected to decline the invitation to the Lambeth Conference issued to him last year although that decision does not signal any withdrawal from the Communion. I hope there may be further careful reflection to clarify the terms on which he will exercise his ministry."

Read it all here.

Mark Harris comments here.

Bishop Venables is slip sliding away with the language of a carefully crafted statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury, turning a letter that said nothing about the people of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin and nothing very positive about Bishop Schofield into a lauding of both.

Bates profiles Williams

Stephen Bates profiles Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on the eve of the Lambeth Conference.

As he prepares to welcome the bishops of the worldwide Anglican communion to their once-a-decade meeting at the Lambeth conference tomorrow, his first as Archbishop of Canterbury, Williams knows that as many as a quarter will not turn up and that there are open challenges to his leadership of the third largest Christian denomination, both from across the world and within the Church of England.

Last week, as the Anglican general synod in York overruled his advice to provide stronger safeguards for those opposed to women bishops - even though he himself is in favour of women in the episcopate - he sat with his head in his hands. Derided by conservatives, despaired of by progressives, his leadership flounders in division and dismay.

. . . . . .

If this ever was a dispute about what the church thinks men get up to in bed together, or even, as evangelicals like to claim, about scriptural authority and obedience to the Bible, it now looks much more like a highly politicised power struggle for the soul of Anglicanism, with the archbishop stuck in the middle, trying to hold the show together.

Are they people of the Book, or people of the Spirit: governed by indelible words and rules laid down 2,000 years ago, or by the evolving spirit of Christian understanding in a changing world?

Some evangelicals are demanding a church within a church with their own disciplinary structures and self-appointed tests for orthodoxy; some archbishops claim loudly that the church is broken; others will not share communion - the fundamental test of fellowship - with those they deem unclean because of their liberalism towards gay people.

Although archbishops of Canterbury have only seen themselves as leading a truly international church in the last 50 years, just as the British empire evaporated, the office has always remained a central focus of Anglicanism. Part of the definition of being an Anglican is that you are in communion with Canterbury.

. . . . . .

The US and Canadian churches also feel confused and abandoned. Robinson's election was the excuse for some conservatives in the traditionally socially liberal Episcopal church to launch their attempt to dissociate themselves by setting up their own networks, supervised by province-breaking African bishops. The Africans have even started making some of the conservatives bishops in their own churches - Rwanda has nearly as many American bishops in its church as Rwandans - entirely against Anglican traditions of episcopal autonomy.

Liberal American bishops - many of them old friends of Williams, who knows the US well - have been baffled by his apparent unwillingness to understand their democratic polity. Although some who consecrated Robinson privately now say it was a mistake because it upset the rest of the communion so much, they insist that he was properly chosen and rightfully elected.

It exasperates them that the archbishop has spoken as though the Episcopal church is evenly divided, when actually its schism involves half a dozen dioceses out of 113, and that it took Williams four years to attend a meeting of the US bishops in New Orleans last September. By all accounts, they were distinctly unimpressed - and he and his staff were surprised to find that the Americans were serious and godly men and women, not the atheistic ogres painted by their opponents.

. . . . .

Nevertheless the void has been filled by more determined and aggressive characters than he and disaffection is spreading. The recent meeting of evangelicals in London attracted far more attendees than the organisers expected.

"It wasn't just the usual suspects," one evangelical English bishop said. "The church will have to take them more seriously, but the House of Bishops isn't ready to do that. He's lost the respect of liberal catholics over the gay issue and conservative evangelicals don't like him because they are too stupid to understand his theological nuances and think he isn't a proper Christian. History will judge Rowan to have been much more effective than people like to suggest. The Lambeth conference and the Anglican communion are busted flushes now, but that's not Rowan's fault for trying."

The insurgent coalition remains confused: American high church Catholics making convenient common cause with English, African and Australian evangelicals such as the Jensens who say they could never attend a high church mass.

They want their definition of Anglican orthodoxy imposed, but not by an archbishop with views such as Williams's. They insist they are not leaving, but that is possibly because they mostly have nowhere else to go. Anglicanism remains, in the old evangelical phrase, a convenient boat to fish from: outside the seas are dark and choppy. They would not have the status of the institution, its buildings or its resources.

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Indaba will be hard work

Bishop Alan blogs while packing his toothbrush and talks what will be required of the Bishops attending Lambeth as they take part in the Indaba groups.

In an earlier post, he notes that most of the Bishops taking part have never been to a Lambeth before. This, he said, is good because the "Lambeth virgins" will not be weighed down with preconceived notions about how it is 'supposed' to work.

Meeting 15 bishops in Saturday, only one had actually been to one before so we're pretty much all Lambeth virgins. That may help us think different; what some would see as the greatest weakness of the process may actually save the day.

Bishop Alan says the Indaba process requires seven things.

1. Indaba demands full participation
2. Indaba is an emergent process
3. Indaba is driven by trust
4. Indaba requires working space
5. Indaba is an expression of respect
6. Indaba is an expression of faith
7. Indaba requires recognition that "there is a real world out there."

For Indaba to be successful, it will be when Bishops realize that “It’s not that the God of the Church has a mission, but the God of Mission has a Church.”

Art blog goes daily

The Lambeth Conference opens today.

We have a special treat in store brought to you by our Art Blog editor, Mel Ahlborn. For the duration of the Lambeth Conference the art blog will be going to a daily, rather than weekly, format. Follow it here. The series will feature art from museums around the world, trying to include as many Anglican provinces as possible.

While you're at the art blog, check out past post. There's more to the art at the Episcopal Cafe than you may have ever realized.

Live: Riding with Ruth, playing tourist

By Jim Naughton

The biggest Anglican news event in London yesterday transpired relatively unnoticed. Rosemary Makhulu, the wife of the Most Rev. Walter Makhulu was laid to rest from All Saints Church in Fullham, just across the Thames from St. Mary’s, Putney, where Bishop Gene Robinson preached on Sunday. Mrs. Makhulu grew up in Fullham, and she and her husband moved there after his retirement. Bishop Trevor Mwamba of Botswana preached the sermon. The last I had heard, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his wife, Leah, and Zanele Mbeki, wife of South African President Thabo Mbeki were expected to be among the mourners. In a sign of how sensitive feelings in the Communion are at the moment the fact that Bishop Mwamba had to beg out of a visit to Newcastle on Tyne, that was part of the pre-Lambeth hospitality initiative to preach at the funeral of his twins’ godmother was immediately seized on in some circles as evidence that he thought Newcastle was insufficiently exciting.

In another sign of the state of affairs in the Communion, consider that during his tenure at primate of the Province of Central Africa, Makhulu used his office to advance the cause of Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress in their struggle against apartheid while his successor the recently-retired Bernard Malango, hero to American conservatives, used his office to protect the interests of Robert Mugabe. The Province of Central Africa is currently without a primate because two diocesan sees are vacant, and an election cannot be held, a state of affairs that suits the interests of American conservatives who are afraid that Malango’s successor might be a bishop in the mold of Makhulu, but leaves many Africans without episcopal or primatial leadership.

My own day was less hectic than any since my arrival on Saturday morning. Ruth Gledhill of the Times was kind enough to come to Giles Fraser’s church, chat with Giles and me, and then drive me to Giles’ house. I picked up my bags and hopped back in Ruth’s car for the drive to my hotel. I realize that the notion that Ruth and I would speak kindly to (and of) one another may surprise some readers, but she’s an extremely knowledgeable observer of the Anglican scene, her coverage helps set the Communion’s agenda, and she doesn’t seem to me to be ideologically motivated, although I don’t think she would object to my saying that she has her enthusiasms, and that these shape her coverage. There is more room for this in the British press, she says, and she argues that there is greater transparency in being open about how you feel toward various folks and factions (as she does on her blog) than adopting the American stance of public objectivity. The only other details about our ride that I want to disclose is that if the whole journalism thing doesn’t work out for her after 20+ years on the job, she would make an exceedingly skilled taxi driver. I’ve never seen anyone move a car with a manual shift through city traffic while simultaneously consulting Google maps on a Blackberry.

Last night, Ruth Frey, the administrator of the Chicago Consultation and Herb Gunn, the diocesan newspaper editor from the Diocese of Michigan, who is also writing for the Episcopal Women’s Caucus, and I went to see King Lear at the Globe Theater. It was the first tourist-y moment of the trip. (They had gotten a bit of a head start on me, taking in evensong from seats in the choir at Westminster Abbey.) Afterwards we walked back along the Thames toward Westminster, crossed the pedestrian bridge, took pictures of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and planned the rest of our week.

I will be in London until Friday morning, meeting journalists and bloggers I’ve known only through our e-mail exchanges. The bishops have begun arriving in Canterbury, and those who didn’t come over for the hospitality initiative are a little cranky due to jet lag. Some journalists have gone down to the University of Kent, where the conference is being held, to pick up their credentials. Many aren’t sure what they will find to write about. They tend to see this as a failing on the part of the conference planners, but I am not certain that is right. If the press briefings are meaty, and feature bishops who can tell stories relevant to the themes assigned to each days, the Communion might make at least some headway in focusing attention on issues other than sexuality. If, however, the briefings are all bromides and boiler plate, then the media’s attention will focus on the various interest groups and the events on the so-called “Lambeth Fringe.” Conversation there will be freer and less focused, and the conference organizers will come off badly—very badly—if they attempt to control those exchanges.

In fact my principal concern about the conference, minted fresh this morning, is that people of influence who haven’t figured out how to make themselves heard by the general public will attempt to control the conversations of those who have. If that happens, it won’t end well.

Paint ball, bishops?

Visitors who read Peter Carey's essay on Daily Episcopalian yesterday, in which he suggested that the bishops at the Lambeth Conference play some soccer (football in the rest of the world), may be intrigued by this segment from BBC Radio 4's Today program, in which Giles Fraser raises the possibility of paint ball.

Williams addresses Muslims

On the eve of the Lambeth Conference, the the Archbishop of Canterbury has delivered a 17 page letter in response to A Common Word Between Us and You, a document issued last fall by a group of 138 Muslims leaders.

From a press release by the Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury:

Dr Rowan Williams has welcomed A Common Word and provided a substantial reflection on it in a letter sent to Muslim religious leaders and scholars. The Archbishop's letter, entitled 'A Common Word for the Common Good', comes after a period of world-wide consultation within the Anglican Communion and across the Christian denominations, most notably in last month's meeting of Church representatives and scholars in London. Dr Williams has announced that, in collaboration with Cambridge University, he is inviting a group of Christian and Muslim leaders and scholars to a conference in October that will mark the anniversary of the publication of A Common Word.
Dr Williams acknowledges that Christian belief in the Trinity is "difficult, sometimes offensive, to Muslims" but has said "I believe that for the sake of open and careful dialogue it is important to try and clarify what we do and what we do not mean by it". He begins by affirming the Christian belief in the unity of God.

Serious sanctions threatened

One Nigerian bishop has braved what has now been revealed to be a clear threat of sanctions by the Anglican Church of Nigeria. The Nation reports:

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) yesterday threatened to impose "serious sanctions" on any Nigerian bishop who attends the forthcoming Lambeth Conference in London.

Registrar of the church, Mr. Abraham Yisa, issued the warning following reports that a Nigerian bishop had broken ranks and would attend the conference opening in London tomorrow.
[A] source added that the bishop was absent at the just-concluded Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem, Israel.

"The bishop had explained that he was absent from GAFCON because he submitted his travel documents late," the source added.

That bishop, as reported Saturday, is the Right Rev Cyril Okorocha, the Bishop of Owerri, Nigeria. He was formerly on the Lambeth Palace staff. His presence at the Lambeth conference means that there are only two [make that one] provinces, Uganda and Rwanda, that have managed a total boycott of the Lambeth conference. [UPDATE: Bishop Pierre Whalon writes, "See this gallery of pictures taken this afternoon. It includes a shot of the Bishop of Butare, Rwanda, the Rt. Rev. Venuste Mutiganda."]

Hat tip to Thinking Anglicans. A commenter there notes that ten Kenyan bishops have broken with the lead of their primate, and are attending Lambeth.

Some members of the Cafe remember that the widely respected and very conservative Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, formerly Archbishop of Kaduna in Nigeria, was demoted by Akinola because he favored continued links with Canterbury.

In other news, Archbishop Akinola has promised not to retire January 2009.

The Pope's interest in Lambeth

There's been speculation that the Catholic Church plans to make hay of tensions in the Anglican Communion. But would that really be in its interest?

In commentary in today's Independent, Paul Vallely answers, No. The Pope, he writes,

worries that the Church of England, which for centuries has prided itself on being both catholic and reformed, could mutate into hardline Protestantism.
The Pope feels more in common with [Rowan Williams] than he does with theologically primitive and doctrinally ideological evangelicals who share his objections to homosexuality or women bishops. Both men see preserving unity as key and the Catholic bishops in England have warned Rome about the deeply factional nature of Anglican politics. A number of the Anglicans who moved to Rome when women were ordained brought with them a rancorous divisive mentality.

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"Weakening the body of Christ"

Update: The Lambeth Reader can now be found at the Lambeth Conference website.

Ruth Gledhill reports on the Lambeth Reader, "a document intended only for delegates but seen by The Times":

Conservative bishops have been accused of breaching their duties and damaging the welfare of Christians as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, fights back against his critics.

Anglican bishops arriving for the Lambeth Conference yesterday were told to stop their backstabbing and in-fighting if they were not to “weaken the body of Christ”.

A background paper distributed to 650 bishops and archbishops attending the ten-yearly conference in Canterbury told them to remember that their relationships with each other were “fragile and tainted by sin”.
“Given the present state of the Anglican Communion it is the special collegial responsibility of the bishop to be at prayer for and with fellow colleagues,” the paper said.

“This is particularly relevant for those bishops who are in conflict with one another. Their failure to attend fervently to this ordinal vow weakens the body of Christ for which they have responsibility. This in turn weakens the bonds that all the baptised share with one another.”

The paper, written by the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission, represents the start of the fightback by Dr Williams, who has been accused of showing inadequate leadership.

The paper may have been seen "only by The Times," but much of the phrasing of the document Gledhill quotes dates back to the commission's document from 2006, The Anglican Way: The Significance of the Episcopal Office for the Communion of the Church.

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Live: Simon Sarmiento explains it all

By Jim Naughton

I had lunch yesterday with the illustrious Simon Sarmiento, founder and keeper of “Thinking Anglicans,” the most influential blog covering the Anglican Communion. We strolled from my hotel to an establishment called the Hereford Arms, which I considered the very picture of an English pub, and which Simon said was tricked up to make me think so.

We talked for almost three hours, which is a lot of Diet Pepsi, but after long and frequent email correspondence, and the occasional phone call, it was the first time that Simon and I had actually laid eyes on one another, and there was much to be said.

Thinking Anglicans will pass its fifth anniversary sometime in the next week or so. I would say that it “marks” or better yet “celebrates” its anniversary, but Simon says he is not inclined to mention this milestone on his blog. But that shouldn’t stop readers from seizing the next available thread, this one, perhaps, and showering with encomiums.

Simon was one of two bloggers (at #46) to make the Sunday Telegraph’s list of the fifty most influential Anglicans, and the list occupied much of our conversations. He persuaded me that Bishops Gregory Venables and Michael Nazir Ali did not belong in the Top 10. Venables, Simon says, never even ran his own parish in the United Kingdom and he has done nothing to build up the Communion in the geographically vast and numerically tiny Province of the Southern Cone, his influence, such as it is, flows entirely from poaching evangelical parishes in other provinces. He is opportunistic, not influential. Nazir-Ali, meanwhile, is distrusted by most of his colleagues in the British episcopacy who regard him as a self-promoter—visible yes, influential no.

Simon also persuaded me that Lucy Winkett of St. Paul’s Cathedral here in London deserved her spot on the list. I had argued against including her. This was largely because I didn’t know who she was, and part of my job, as the only not-a-Brit on the panel was to underline (figuratively) every person proposed for the list whose influence did not extend beyond English shores. But if Simon says someone is a real up and comer who is likely to be among the first female bishops in the English church, that’s good enough for me. The Rev. Winkett is preaching at one of the Inclusive church liturgies at Canterbury, and I am now officially eager to hear her.

Simon is especially good at helping Americans understand how the British political context (secular and ecclesial) differs from their own. The Guardian ran a lengthy profile yesterday of Tory party leader David Cameron, who may well be the next Prime Minister. In it Cameron described himself as a typical member of the Church of England, “racked with doubts, but fundamentally, we believe.”

There is no anti-gay political party in the United Kingdom, Simon said. There are no votes in gay bashing, no advantage in campaigning to repeal the still-young laws that permit civil unions. The English Church, unlike its American counterpart, is not at the forefront of a movement to extend human and civil rights to persecuted people; the state has already done that, and so the sense of moral urgency is not nearly as great.

Simon and I will see each other again during the conference, possibly on Saturday when he is coming to help explain the British news media to American activists at the conference.

After lunch I went for a long and not particularly fast run in Hyde Park, which is about half a mile up Gloucester Road from my hotel. It was my first real exercise since leaving home. I’d like to say that as I ran I had deep thoughts about the nature of the Anglican Communion, but mostly what I thought about was how nice it was to have grassy running paths beside the paved bike paths.

This afternoon, I am supposed to have lunch with Jonathan Wynne-Jones of the Sunday Telegraph. He is one of the handful of British religion writers who hasn’t headed out to Canterbury yet. Keep in mind as you read stories about what is or isn’t included in the packets that the bishops received at registration yesterday, or what the Pope is or isn’t going to do about the Anglo-Catholic faction in the Church of England, that almost nothing has happened at the conference proper to this point, and reporters have to find stories where they can. The bishops are on retreat now, and very difficult to get in touch with, so the stories lie on the periphery.

I head out to Canterbury on Friday morning, but may try to file one more dispatch before I leave. My sense, at the moment (and from a distance) is that the Anglican Communion Office and some members of the conference design team are nervous that the attention paid to Bishop Gene Robinson, and the presence of full inclusion advocacy groups will somehow force the bishops to focus sooner than might be helpful on the issue of human sexuality—that the bishops will have to deal with divisive topics, before they have built the relationships that would allow them to discuss such issues productively. I think these fears are misplaced.

The advocates of full inclusion want the Communion to hang together every bit as much as the members of the Communion office. They aren’t in Canterbury to disrupt the conference; they are there to worship and pray at build relationships—just like the bishops. Most of their activity leading up to Lambeth has been aimed not at influencing the conference, but at outing the English Church—making it plain that the posture of church elites, who stand apart and cluck their tongues at the activists from North America, is hypocritical because their own church does in shadow, what the North Americans want done in sunlight. Thanks to the publicity that followed the gay blessing ceremony at St. Bartholomew’s Church here in London last month, and the tremendous outpouring of interest in (and support for) Bishop Robinson’s visit, that has been accomplished. The leaders of the English Church may continue to obfuscate, but we will all know what they are doing.

A peaceful, productive Lambeth Conference is in the best interest of inclusion advocates. It would demonstrate that theological disagreements can be borne by a Communion committed to moving forward in mission.

Making sense of Central Africa

Anglican Information is a group close to the Rev. Nicholas Henderson, who was elected bishop of the Diocese of Lake Malawi but prevented from taking office by former primate Bernard Malango, hero to the Anglican right and protector of the now deposed Mugabe-ite bishop Nolbert Kunonga. The group noticed yesterday's article on The Lead that began with the new of Rosemary Makhulu's funeral, and has offered its own analysis of development in the Province of Central Africa.

And what of the future? The Provincial bishops are now covertly divided between a Malango/Mugabe faction who say all the right things from the American conservative dissident point of view and a pro-Canterbury moderate grouping epitomised by the sacked Dean (dismissed by Malango) Bishop Trevor Mwamba of Botswana. Of the vacant sees mentioned by Jim Naughton (notwithstanding Harare and Manicaland in Zimbabwe) Lake Malawi already has an elected (by overwhelming majority) bishop in the person of the Rev’d Nicholas Henderson. Henderson’s consecration has been delayed largely at the behest of forceful lobbying by Malango and now excommunicated Nolbert Kunonga when they were in power. This faction and their supporters remain frightened of the result of the election because the successful candidate is ‘unapproved’ by conservative and schismatic Americans and is pro-Canterbury. The people of Lake Malawi (who are also loyal to Canterbury) are equally determined to have the bishop of their choice. Malango’s latest Provincial successor in the person of acting Dean Albert Chama of Northern Zambia is unfortunately only a cipher for Malango. Malango is still a power behind the scenes and currently interfering in the elections for a new bishop in Upper Shire diocese where again the people (pro-Canterbury) are resisting an imposed candidate. Thus the Provincial bishops are split between former Malango and closet Mugabe sympathisers/appeasers and the group revolving around Trevor Mwamba with his proven track record of sensible action and dialogue and who, unlike the others, commands the respect if the people. A third faction in this mêlée is detectable in the person of James Tengatenga of South Malawi as a bishop who has a distinctly mixed history. On the one hand he is indisputably racist in a way that would long ago have had a white bishop censured and removed from office. He was also a principal player in contriving the election of Malango to Upper Shire diocese when Malango was under a cloud of accusations of embezzlement in Zambia. On the other hand, he is still on the wrong side of the fence from Malango’s point of view and that of Malango’s conservative American paymasters. Tengatenga spends much time in white society particularly with the American Episcopal Church and he is a member of the Anglican Communion’s Consultative Council. So between the four factions, Malango, Mwamba, Tengatenga and the schismatic Americans, once again Africans are forced to fight on in a confusing stalemate proxy battle for the soul of the far off American Episcopal Church. If the Malango/Mugabe faction eventually wins it will not only spell disaster for the Province but for the Communion as well. The prospect of a Central African Province ruled by dissident Americans essentially uncritical of the Mugabe regime (Nolbert Kunonga is now claiming support from GAFCON) is frankly horrific. This is a far cry from the days of former Archbishop Walter Makhulu and his beloved wife Rosemary.

Read more »

Lambeth Opening Day

The Church of England has issued a press release on the opening of the Lambeth Conference:

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams opened the Lambeth Conference to the sounds of South African Alleluias and prayers for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He spoke to the gathering of Anglican Bishops from around the world addressing the first plenary session of the Lambeth Conference yesterday (July 16). He stressed that the Conference had a very strong emphasis on drawing together round the Bible and had been designed as a place “in which every voice can be heard and in which we build Christian relationship”.

Read more »

A SAD Situation

The Rev. Canon Marilyn McCord Adams of Christ Church, Oxford gave a paper at the recently completed Modern Churchpeople's Union Conference.

In the paper she highlights the history of the current covenant process and its status right now, showing it to be a structural and diplomatic attempt to solve a theological problem. It provides a detailed chronology of the development of the St. Andrew's Draft and the inherent weaknesses of the approach for the Communion.

The whole matter may be moot after GAFCON anyway because the FOCA group, she argues, have cut the legs out of any structural or diplomatic solution that a covenant may propose.

Here are excerpts:

The SAD Situation

The St. Andrew’s Draft Covenant (hereafter SAD) is a very sorry document, and it comes at a very sorry time. SAD is the third in a series of official attempts to redefine the Anglican Communion in a way that would satisfy members scandalized by the events of Summer 2003. Recall (it seems ancient history now) how in July 2003, the General Covention of the Episcopal Church USA consented to the ordination of Gene Robinson, a coupled gay man, as bishop of New Hampshire. About the same time, the diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada authorized rites for blessing same-sex partnerships. These events stirred a furor among sex-and-gender conservatives in the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury (hereafter ABC) responded by appointing the Windsor Commission. The (by now infamous) Windsor Report (hereafter TWR) set down the basic polity frame.

"TWR polity does not work."

Not only has TWR-polity been set down on paper three times. Thanks to TWR’s tone of presumptive legitimacy, it has already had ‘a trial run’! The Windsor process against TEC and New Westminster gave TWR-polity a primate-dominant interpretation. If TWR spoke of submitting novelties to the instruments of (comm)union, it was the primates who acted at Dromantine to request that TEC and New Westminster explain themselves at Nottingham and to put TEC and New Westminster on probation. It was the primates who acted at Tanzania to override the report of the Joint Standing Committee and to reject 2006 General Convention’s responses to TWR. It was the primates who issued ultimata that TEC impose moratoria on ordinations and blessings of coupled homosexuals by 30 September 2007. It was the primates who declared foreign incursions (by one province into the turf of another) not to be on a moral par with North American breeches of faith. It was the primates who moved to set up a primatial council to handle appeals from TEC’s conscientious objectors. Even after the Joint Standing Committee had given TEC a passing grade for its New Orleans responses, it was the primates’ estimates that the ABC still sought. Thus interpreted in the enacting, TWR-polity seemed to mean veto power for foreign primates in no way accountable to the province in question.

Even as a theoretical sketch, TWR-polity raised liberal eye-brows. Pessimistic liberals believe what experience teaches: that human beings are neither smart enough nor good enough to be entrusted with very much power. Actions speak louder than words. For liberals, the ABC’s and the Primates’ behavior towards TEC demonstrated that their fears were justified. Note once again: legal authority is a red herring. All of these actions have been taken, not only without legal authority, but independently of anyone covenanting to anything. To put it bluntly, the behavior of the pan-Anglican instruments towards TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada has been abusive. For liberals, recent past experience shows signing on to NDC or SAD to be a sure recipe for abuse of power!

For sex-and-gender conservatives, the North American saga shows the bankruptcy of TWR-polity for settling intra-communion disagreements over essentials. From their point of view, the process did not deliver the desired result: the repentance or excommunication of TEC and New Westminster. Sex-and-gender conservative primates number among the just under half who rejected TEC’s New Orleans responses as unsatisfactory. From their point of view, the ABC fudged the process, just when it should have proceeded towards excommunication. In the face of division among the primates, the ABC did not call a Primates Meeting. Neither did he proceed towards excommunication on his own authority. Instead, the ABC changed the format of Lambeth from that of a resolution-passing council into a retreat with small group Bible studies and discussions, and proceeded to invite all of the TEC bishops except for Gene Robinson himself. Recent past experience proves to sex-and-gender conservatives that TWR-polity --which leaves with the ABC power to determine Anglican Communion membership, power to call Primates’ meetings or not, and power to determine the composition of the Lambeth Conference--is unfit for purpose. TWR-polity simply does not work!


In any event, the ABC’s plea for patience is not apt to be heeded. GAFCON’s manifesto, not only buries SAD. By ‘upping the ante’ for any covenant ‘confessing Anglicans’ would sign, GAFCON’s concluding statement is a recipe for ‘walking apart’. The reason is that GAFCON is insisting on conservative polity and conservative content. Conservatives can live with liberal polity so long as they have the majorities needed to dictate institutional policy. The current crisis arose, because in The Episcopal Church and New Westminster, sex-and-gender conservatives have lost such majorities. Liberals can live with conservative content, if liberal polity holds out hope of working from within to change institutional policy. Liberals have lived with conservative sex-and-gender policies for centuries, but now--in TEC and New Westminster--their hour seems to have come. The trouble is conservatives cannot live with liberal polity and liberal content. Neither can liberals live with conservative polity and conservative content. GAFCON’s clear lines in the sand already count liberals out!

You may read the whole text here.

Live: Can a quiet conference produce "good stories"?

By Jim Naughton

To succeed fully, the bishops of the Lambeth Conference must avoid committing news. Any truly newsworthy development initiated by the bishops now gathered at Canterbury would represent a premature attempt to close questions not yet ready for resolution. Left to their own devices, the bishops might just be able to pull this off, but the bishops will not be left to their own devices. There will be a vast horde of media at the conference, and they will have to justify their presence by coming up with stories.

Unfortunately, a well run conference at which the bishops worship together, share from the heart in small Bible study groups, attend first-rate educational programs and begin the difficult work of figuring out how our theologically divided Communion can begin to move forward in mission—not to mention time set aside during the conference for solitude and private reflection—puts readers to sleep and does little to justify the expense that media outlets incur in sending reporters to Canterbury in the first place. Additionally, as all reporters know, editors have a tendency to hold them personally responsible if the event they are covering doesn’t yield good copy—the notion being that there are no dull events, only dull reporters. Finally, if you are at a competitive daily paper, there is also the status of your beat to think about. You don’t want your colleagues thinking that religion is a backwater beat for backwater hacks.

So stories must be wrung from the Lambeth Conference, and the wringing must commence as soon as a critical mass of bishops have assembled on the grounds of the University of Kent. One reporter I spoke to today described the atmosphere among the press at Canterbury as akin to an episode of Gossip Girl. Someone puts a thinly sourced item on their blog. Everyone else whispers among themselves: Where did it come from? Is it true? If it is true, do you try to match it? If it isn’t true, do you say so, or let it slide?

I have tremendous sympathy for reporters who function in many instances as the public’s surrogates. I am someone whose phone rings when information from official sources is scarce. Yet there is a difference between the public’s right to know and a reporter’s right to a compelling story. My concern for the Lambeth Conference is that a critical mass of reporters—or perhaps just a handful of influential ones—will deem the conference a failure if it does not produce the sort of stories that they want to write, that they will say so repeatedly in the pages of their papers or on their blogs, and that this perception will become reality.

The only inoculation against this outcome that I can perceive—outside of an unexpected outbreak of forbearance from the British press—are vivid daily media briefings that feature bishops with good gripping stories to tell about how the conference’s theme of the day figures in their lives and ministries, and the lives and ministries of their people.

I should be in Canterbury by about noon EDT, and will try to keep you updated on how those briefings progress. Over the next two or three days, be wary of stories purporting to expose secret goings-on, or those that complain of conference policies that keep the media at a distance. There just isn't that much going on yet.

The Lambeth Reader

Over the past couple of days there have been a number of stories about the "The Lambeth Reader" papers. These were distributed to the bishops attending the Lambeth Conference, but not made available to the larger public. Copies of the documents have been passed along to reporters covering the conference. The Church Times blog has some extended quotes in its overnight coverage.

The most striking thing about the articles are that, while they discuss the difficulties being caused to the Communion by the actions of the North American provinces to move to fully include gay and lesbian Christians, they also speak directly to the problems being caused by Provinces moving to send bishops to minister in areas outside their boundaries:

"‘There are occasions when a church falls out of sympathy with its bishop on matters of doctrine or conduct. It must not be the case that the mere fact of ease and communication of travel become the excuse for choosing a leader in another territory to be one’s chief pastor. In the case of serious and extensive conflict, it becomes the duty of diocesan bishops to provide pastoral support in particular congregations. When a diocesan bishop fails to undertake his duty, the matter becomes a provincial responsibility.’

(NB: a provincial responsibility, not a communion responsibility.)

Reflections offered to the Primates emphasise mutual accountability. ‘The cost of genuine dialogue is considerable... If conservative voices are not to be driven out, it must be possible for an admonition about recent issues to do with homosexuality to be delivered, clearly argued from biblical sources. Not all such arguments are well expressed and would be supported by scholarly writing; but it is a mistake to dismiss all of them as if their sole basis was literalism or naive fundamentalism.’

The paper continues: ‘On the other hand, if progressive views are not to be ignored, new knowledge has honestly to be confronted. Though there is still much uncertainty, it is evident that the existence in some people of homosexual inclinations has to be understood in a way not available to biblical writers. It has to be recognised as a cost of the engagement of the gospel with the world, that Christians remain open to changing ideas with their attendant uncertainties and controversies.’

The paper also includes a willingness to promote the role of the Primates within the Communion and uses Bishop Robinson's consecration as an example:

The documents grapple with how the church judges which things lie closer to the heart of the gospel than others. With specific reference to Gene Robinson’s consecration, it asks how significant that was for Christian faith and practice? If the primates decided it was a matter of great weight, ‘then it would seem that an innovation of such significance requires the broadest consideration and endorsement by the rest of the Anglican Communion.’ If they decided it was neither ‘commanded not forbidden’, then it could be determined at provincial or local level. Primates were not necessarily to be the ‘first port of call in such disputes, but the report suggests, ‘Many are looking to the Primates to hear the call of the churches for the leadership that befits those who hold such a high office.’"

Read the full article here.

Our previous coverage of the Reader is here.

Nigeria joins Uganda in total boycott of Lambeth

There's been a great deal of interest in determining which provinces of the Anglican Communion are attending the Lambeth Conference and which are boycotting. For the most provinces, including our own, it's a mixed bag with some attending and some boycotting. But Uganda was unique in that none of the bishops of that part of the Communion were attending. Today there's news that Nigeria's lone bishop, thought to be in attendance, has returned home to Nigeria.

Ruth Gledhill is reporting that Bishop Okorocha, who once served as part of the Archbishop of Canterbury's staff under George Carey, thought to be registered and attending the conference, has instead returned home.

According to Ruth's story:

"The only Nigerian bishop to register for Lambeth, Cyril Okorocha, Bishop of Owerri, has fled Britain and gone back home for fear of 'reprisals', a source has told The Times."

Read the full article here.

Some background, and our previous mention of this is found here.

Meanwhile back in Virginia

There appear to have been some developments in the Virginia court cases regarding the property being claimed by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the Anglican District of Virginia (part of the CANA convocation associated with the Anglican Church of Nigeria).

Two new documents have been posted the Episcopal diocesan web site. One is entitled "Motion to Intervene" and the other "Order".

Mary Ailes has some coverage here of these two documents.

Your editor of the day here at the Lead does not speak "court" very well, but is informed that one of the implications of these documents is that the Attorney General of Virginia is now a party to the case. This means that the Attorney General has the ability to appeal any rulings since he is no longer participating as a "friend of the court" siding with CANA. In other words the State of Virginia is now aligned with CANA and the Church of Nigeria against the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia.

Additionally there will be a hearing in August to determine whether or not the three parties can agree about what is settled as a matter of law or not.

GAFCON responses

The primates who are expected to serve on the Primate's Council of the GAFCON movement have issued a response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's concerns about the GAFCON communique and a critique of the present form of the proposed Anglican Covenant has also been posted.

They respond to a number of the questions the Archbishop raised in his letter, including the Uniqueness of Christ, Legitimacy, Discipline, and Faith and False Teaching.

Their response to the Archbishop on the question of authority for instance reads:

"On authority. As the Virginia Report notes, in the Anglican tradition, authority is not concentrated in a single centre, but rather across a number of persons and bodies. This Council is a first step towards bringing greater order to the Communion, both for the sake of bringing long overdue discipline and as a reforming initiative for our institutions.

Whilst we respect territoriality, it cannot be absolute. For missionary and pastoral reasons there have long been overlapping jurisdictions in Anglicanism itself – historically in South Africa, New Zealand, the Gulf and Europe. In situations of false teaching, moreover, it has sometimes been necessary for other bishops to intervene to uphold apostolic faith and order."

Read the full statement here.

Additionally, the GAFCON Theological Resource Team has released a statement criticizing the St. Andrew's Draft of the proposed Covenant stating in part that:

Sadly this new draft of An Anglican Covenant is both seriously limited and severely flawed. Whether or not the tool of covenant is the right way to approach the crisis within the Communion, this document is defective and its defects cannot be corrected by piecemeal amendment because they are fundamental. The St. Andrews Draft is theologically incoherent and its proposals unworkable. It has no prospect of success since it fails to address the problems which have created the crisis and the new realities which have ensued.

Why one person decides to stay

The Rev. Jim Simons is the rector of St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Ligonier Pennsylvania (which is part of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.) Jim has served at various times in his ministry on the board of the American Anglican Council and the Institute on Religion and Democracy and the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. He's also been a member of the President of the House of Deputies Council of Advice for the past two presidents. He is an Episcopal priest with deep and strong ties to the theological right in the Anglican Communion.

And he's going to remain an Episcopalian.

Jim explains his reasons for deciding to do this in a pastoral letter to his congregation.

He writes, in part:

"I am aware that there is much that is wrong in the Episcopal Church, much that needs to be corrected. I believe that I, as an ordained member of the church, and we, as a congregation of the same church, have a responsibility to stand for the faith once received. My vision for my ministry and that of St. Michael's is to continue to be that witness. At the same time I believe that there is much strength and health in the Episcopal Church. It is tempting to take the more extreme anecdotes about the church and universalize them, but that would not accurately describe the wider reality. It is my observation that the vast majority of people in the pews, and those who lead them, are creedal Christians who believe what the church has always believed.

Will such a witness lead to reform? I can't guarantee it. But I do know that if we leave the Episcopal Church without such a witness, it will be the poorer for it."

Jim does not believe this decision is going to be an easy one to live out for himself or his congregation. But he is committed to this course.

Read the full article here.

Reactions to day 3 of Lambeth

The bishops and stewards who set up blogs before the conference have been conscientious in keeping up with the discipline of regular posts.

The bishops attending the conference are still on retreat so there's little "news" to report. Most of what they are writing about is the impressions that praying in the midst of such diversity and in such ancient surroundings are causing in them.

But occasionally the stresses and uncomfortable conversations that are ahead still manage to make themselves known.

Bishop Councell of New Jersey reports on his own emotional reaction to Bishop Robinson's absence.

Bishop Whalon of the Churches in Europe finds hope though:

The hard work, however, has already begun in the Bible study groups, from all reports. People are not here to “play nice.” We have all come “to make straight the way of the Lord” in our Communion (studying John 1). What that means and what that will take remain to be seen. Tonight I have a growing sense of hope. There are a lot more bishops here than were expected...

Bishop Roskam of NY has her thoughts on what might be accomplished in the coming weeks. And a realistic sense that even this would only be the beginning.

Bishop Alan Wright has some insights into how the Indaba groups will work... or at least how they're supposed to work.

Bishop Kirk Smith has movies!

You can find links to many of the blogging bishops here if you'd like to read them all. (Or use the handy RSS feed to subscribe to the bishop's blog posts as they're updated.)

Live: on arrival

By Jim Naughton

Herb Gunn and I managed to get ourselves from London to Dover yesterday, and thanks to Ruth Frey we managed to get ourselves and our rented cars from Dover to Canterbury. We arrived on the University of Kent campus late in the afternoon, picked up our credentials, checked out the sparsely populated press room, and walked around lost for a bit before connecting with a few folks who I will write more about in a later dispatch. I saw Bishop John Chane and his wife Karen, and chatted with Bishop Tom Ely of Vermont on the telephone. They have been impressed with the conference's opening retreat, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, which concludes today at noon. Conversations among bishops, they say, are earnest and collegial. They seem to be having a good experience, and to be mildly surprised by that.

(This article in the Independent gets the mood right, I think.)

The fact that more than a dozen bishops are here against the wishes of their Primates has necessitated certain precautions, however. One bishop told me that participants in the conference will not process by province into Sunday’s Eucharist as is customary, but will simply choose a partner for the procession, thus making it harder for onlookers to identify bishops who might find themselves in trouble once home. Although I can't put a figure on it, a significant number of the bishops who attended GAFCON are also here, which makes the notion that recent GAFCON releases speak for that whole gathering rather dubious. What we are hearing, as usual, are the voices of white Westerners who purport to speak for Africans, but whose movement has done nothing to improve the average African Anglican's life.

After checking in at the Inclusive Church Network’s communications center at St. Stephen’s Church, which sits at the foot of a hill about a mile east of the campus, Herb, Ruth and I set out for dinner with Clare Herbert of Inclusive Church and Brenda Harrison of Changing Attitude, UK. They have spent much of the last few days either preparing the communications center, planning Sunday afternoon’s Integrity/Changing Attitude Eucharist, or preparing the Inclusive Church Network stalls in the Lambeth Marketplace, which opens for business on Monday.

On the way to dinner I spotted Bishop Jon Bruno and several other gentlemen wearing the purple lanyards given to bishops and their spouses on St. Dunstan’s Avenue. Bishop Bruno frequently moves at the head of a squad of other bishops at these sort of Church gatherings. Bishop Gene Robinson is in town, although I haven’t seen him yet, and probably won’t until the Integrity/CA Eucharist on Sunday. Seeing a few members of Gene’s small travelling party, and catching the tail end of a piece that ITV did on a lecture he gave earlier today, I was reminded of a story that I’ve been remiss in not writing earlier. A necessary vagueness will diminish the story, but I think it is worth telling just the same.

X, as I am going to call him or her, is a young person with a degenerative nerve disease. I first caught sight of X at Gene's sermon at St. Mary’s, Putney on Sunday. X was there again on Monday night for Gene’s appearance with Sir Ian McKellen at the British premier of For the Bible Tells Me So. I later learned from a member of X’s parish that X is very devout and very active in the parish, as is X’s family. Not long ago, X came out, to friends and family, as a member of the GLBT community—a difficult moment in any life, compounded by the complications of X’s nerve disease.

Gene has been a beacon for X, the member of X’s parish told me. The fact that he is both proudly Christian and proudly gay has helped keep X in the Church. And remaining in the Church, a lifelong source of hope and comfort has given X strength for an extremely difficult journey. I spent several years as a sportswriter, and have profiled a few handfuls of famous people during my journalistic career. I am familiar with the look on fans’ faces when they meet their heroes. I saw that look on X’s face on Sunday when X had a chance to spend a few private minutes with Gene after his sermon at Putney. Excitement, admiration and gratitude passed in waves over X’s young face, but X wasn’t so star struck as to make conversation impossible. This wasn’t just a matter to getting an autograph, or shaking a celebrity’s hand—it was putting one’s self in a pastor’s hands, and trusting him to take good care of you. I don’t know what Gene and X talked about, but I know that X among the first to arrive for the movie premiere the following evening.

X and others like X remain in the church, or come into the church because they believe they can trust a church that counts Gene among its leaders. When you consider the issue of gay bishops, and same sex relationships it may be helpful to think not of Gene, or Susan Russell, or the other great advocates for the cause of GLBT people in the church. Think of X and all the people in X’s position, people who long to feel the love of God and experience the support of their Church, but who can feel neither, in most of the Anglican Communion, unless they deny who they are or accept the notion that the God who smiles upon heterosexual intimacy has created them for a lifetime of celibacy.

To argue against gay bishops and gay clergy is to argue against a Church that can reach out effectively to people like X. It is to argue that the good Gene has done in this person’s life is outweighed by the necessity of preserving a bitterly contested interpretation of the Scriptures. It is to argue that God endorses the concept of acceptable casualties, and is not troubled if X, and others like X, are among them.

Religion and Ethics on Lambeth

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly introduces Lambeth to the wider media world by interviewing three priests (one from California, one from Virginia, and one from Florida) with varying points of view on the state of the Episcopal Church, asking each what message they wish to send to the bishops at the Lambeth conference. The three interviews reflect three different perspectives: openness to the Holy Spirit, steadfastness with respect to hundreds of years of tradition, and holding to the Via Media/middle way.

While the priests offer their advice on what the bishops of Lambeth should be considering, as reporter Kim Lawton notes, "The question for the bishops at Lambeth is whether it is still possible to hold all that diversity together."

You can read the transcript or watch the program here.

Live: Random observations

Rowan Williams' stock is enjoying at least a brief rally on the Anglican market. The retreat format with which the Lambeth Conference began showed him at his best, offering lucid and compelling Scriptural meditations, and calling the bishops to mutual accountability.

If the generally optimistic mood here survives the weekend, look for a high profile conservative bishop to attempt to pour water on it in the press.

Folks who have seen the 20-minute outtake of Voices of Witness--Africa, the documentary that that Katie Sherrod and Cynthia Black have made about GLBT life in Anglican Africa, are extremely excited about it. I am eager to have a look.

Every now and then I wonder at the logic of preventing Gene Robinson from doing what gay vicars all over England are doing--celebrating the Eucharist. It is as though the English church has decided that being a gay bishop is somehow a greater impediment to consecrating the elements than being a gay priest. I need a sacramental theologian to unpack that for me.

What we can learn from the Revival of 1858?

A piece on four churches in Wilmington, N.C. celebrating their sesquicentennial this year calls attention to why all four celebrate the same founding year, 1858. The previous year, banks had made some bad investments, railroad companies were drowning in debt, and the stock market was sliding at a pace that kept investors queasy. A shipment of gold destined to help bail out the banks sank during a hurricane, and the economic depression that resulted from the Panic of 1857 lasted three years. The crisis caused people to turn to God, according to one scholar:

“The Panic of 1857 sent everyone into a tailspin of economic downturn and a national depression, and everyone went back to church,” said Walt Conser, professor of philosophy and religion at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. He devoted part of a chapter in his book, Coat of Many Colors, to the Revival. “By 1858, there was an economic upturn where building churches was possible again,” he said. (Churches weren’t the only major structures being built in Wilmington in 1858. Thlian Hall is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year as well.)

But the answer to the 1858 church building boom also involved socioeconomic and political pressures from the impending racial divisions in the country. And many times, churches split as a result of those conflicts, Conser said.

Though these churches had their beginnings in 1858, only a few years of ministry took place in those buildings before the Civil War and the yellow fever epidemic temporarily disrupted worship services, he added.

Some history of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, one of the four churches featured, is also included with the article, here.

Live: a lesson in moral reasoning

One of the Church of England’s most senior bishops has compared the consecration of a gay bishop in America to the invasion of Iraq. Tom Wright, the bishop of Durham and the fourth most senior in the English hierarchy, said both events showed Americans were prepared to act “how they please” with disregard for the rest of the world.
The Times.

By Jim Naughton

Bishop Tom Wright last night compared his inability to find a parking space near his home to the firebombing of Dresden. Wright represents an influential block of bishops who believe that the Anglican Communion may fall into schism because its prelates are insufficiently solipsistic.

“Just the other day, this woman with a flock of children left her Land Rover right in front of my house,” Wright said, in an interview with the Café. “She knew exactly what she was doing, but she went ahead and did it. I liken it to engulfing a citizen population in massive cloud of billowing flames, don’t you?”

Wright, whose reputation as a Scripture scholar stands him in good stead during his frequent forays against various adversaries, said he has petitioned the city of Durham for a personal parking place, but to no avail.

“I’ve considered pursuing it further,” he said, over lunch at an Iraqi restaurant, “but there’s this terrible business with the dry cleaners. If they are going to shrink a man’s waistbands they may as well just fill a ferry boat with babies and sink it in the Channel. It comes to the same thing.”

Pushing himself back from the table, the bishop eyed a plate a marinated olives and shook his head. “Putting a dish like this in front of a man is rather like running an oil tanker aground in a wildlife sanctuary, don’t you think? Or herding innocent people into rat-infested jail cells where they feed on roaches and sleep in puddles of their own urine.”

Wright will offer a session on moral reasoning at the Lambeth Conference next week. “Originally I was intending to explore experiences of exile,” he said. “For instance, I missed a connecting flight on a recent vacation, and as I sat there stewing in the departure lounge, what should come to mind but the Lost Boys of the Sudan. Do you see it? My experience was their experience, only without the international outcry.”

Eventually, however, Wright settled on another topic. “As Christians we are called to share one another’s burdens,” he said, “and I am not getting the help I deserve."

“We have yet to explore the myriad ways in which this is about me.”

Visualizing the Bible


VisualComplexity offers this very interesting way to visualize the cross references in the Bible. Here is the explanation:

This visualization started as a collaboration between Christoph Romhild and Chris Harrison. As Chris explains: "Christoph, a Lutheran Pastor, first emailed me in October of 2007. He described a data set he was putting together that defined textual cross references found in the Bible. He had already done considerable work visualizing the data before contacting me. Together, we struggled to find an elegant solution to render the data, more than 63,000 cross references in total. As work progressed, it became clear that an interactive visualization would be needed to properly explore the data, where users could zoom in and prune down the information to manageable levels. However, this was less interesting to us, as several Bible-exploration programs existed that offered similar functionality (and much more). Instead we set our sights on the other end of the spectrum - something more beautiful than functional. At the same time, we wanted something that honored and revealed the complexity of the data at every level - as one leans in, smaller details should become visible".

This process ultimately led them to the multi-colored arc diagram shown here. The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc - the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect.

Read it all here. Chris Harrison has a website that shows and explains this project, as well as others involving the Bible, here.

The Lambeth Reader now available

That Lambeth Reader discussed in earlier posts has been made available on the official Lambeth Conference website.

Our earlier posts on the reader are here and here.

Tithing on the Campaign Trail

The Christianity Today political blog (well worth reading by the way) has a very interesting post about a Democratic candidate for Congress in a conservative Virginia district devoting ten percent of his staff''s time to good works:

Three months ago, Tom Perriello, the Democratic challenger in Viriginia's fifth congressional district, announced that his campaign workers would be required to spend a tenth of their time doing volunteer work.

Previous campaigns have done the odd bit of community service, but this appears to be the first to make it an integral part of the enterprise, and to couch it in religious terms as a form of tithing. By the end of this weekend, the campaign expects to have logged 300 hours of tithed volunteer work.

In line with the ancient and pretty honorable principle of doing well by doing good, the effort has gotten a lot of positive attention from the press, most recently in a Christian Science Monitor article by Gail Russell Craddock. To be sure, Craddock doesn't omit to include a snide swipe from David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report; to wit: "Perriello has a great profile in a very liberal district in Boulder, Colo., but that's not Virginia's Fifth." But the campaign couldn't have asked for more than it got by way of a quote from Larry Campbell, assistant pastor at Bible Way Cathedral in Danville:


I've had many political candidates come through, but I've never had any work along with us in the area of social-action changes," he says, citing ongoing help from Perriello volunteers. "Most candidates who are running for national office have more programs just getting people out voting for them, but to give back to the community is a heavy statement for social change."

Read it all here.

Live: For starters

By Jim Naughton


The sight of rank after rank of bishops processing out of the center doors of Canterbury’s ancient cathedral is simultaneously moving and absurd. Africans, Asians, Latin Americans, Indians, Australians, Americans—even Englishmen—rolled in red and white-clad pairs out of the shadowed portal and into the early afternoon sunshine to the sounds of choir, organ, and several dozen clattering cameras.

After the first hundred rochet and chimere-wearing rows, there was a momentary break in the procession, and the press suspected for a moment, that it was time to move on. But then, out of the dim cathedral interior came a verger in purple and gray, followed by more bishops, and more bishops. It is regrettable that some 200 bishops have chosen to boycott the conference, but if all 880 had shown up, we might still be there.

The English and Asian press were keen for a picture of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, but she was talking with a fellow primate as they came through the door, and wouldn’t turn away from the conversation no matter how frequently they called her name. Then a sudden breeze swept the other primate’s biretta off of his head and directly toward the photographers. Both bishops bolted, laughing, to retrieve it. Then, their conversation interrupted, they posed with several of their colleagues, proving that God answers photographers’ prayers.

I didn’t get a ticket to the opening Eucharist—in fact, I didn’t try, but some friends in the press cribbed some quotes for me from the sermon [video here] by Bishop Duleep de Chickera of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Here is what struck me as the key quote,

“There is space equally for everyone and anyone regardless of color, gender, ability or sexual orientation. If we attempt some game of uprooting the unrighteous, then my sisters and brothers, none of us will remain."

One bishop suggested a certain “incongruity” between word and action. Even the music spoke of inclusion. The refrain of the Communion Hymn, Let Us Build a House Where Love Can Dwell, began: “All are welcome; all are welcome; all are welcome…”

Leaving aside the fact that admission to the Eucharist required a ticket, Bishop Gene Robinson was obviously unwelcome. He isn’t even being allowed to attend a meeting of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops being held during the conference.

During the opening press conference George Conger of the Church of England Newspaper asked an extremely perceptive question about Robinson’s exclusion. The Archbishop of Canterbury, he noted, had described the ecumenical visitors to Canterbury as “full participants” in the Lambeth Conference whose differing theologies would challenge the bishops and deepen their conversations. Given that the Salvation Army does not baptize, and the Armenian church holds what Anglicans might consider an unorthodox understanding of the nature of Christ, does Bishop Robinson’s exclusion signal that the issue of homosexuality is more theologically significant than sacramental and Christological differences?

Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Australia, the conference’s chief spokesman, had no real answer. He was joined on the dais at the opening press conference by two members of the Lambeth Conference Design Team, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of South Africa and Professor Ian Douglas of Episcopal Divinity School.

Aspinall was at pains to dispel the notion that the conference was designed to sweep differences among members of the Communion under the carpet. Rather, he said, participants would have more opportunities to discuss the issues confronting the Communion in more productive settings than they had at the resolution-drive Lambeth Conference of 1998.

Citing the “Manichean” press coverage preceding the event, John Burns of The New York Times asked Aspinall whether the purpose of the conference was to avert a schism. Aspinall said that the Lambeth Conference always confronted whatever issues were before the Communion whenever it was held, and that this conference was no different.

He said that he discerned “an overwhelming commitment to the life of the Communion among those who are here.”

The Eucharist and press conference ran late, and I arrived at the Integrity/Changing Attitude Eucharist on the village green near St. Stephen’s Church just as the Rev. Colin Coward began the Eucharistic prayer. Some 160 worshipers were arrayed on the grass before an elevated stage. The Cathedral’s towers served as a backdrop. Bishop Robinson and his partner Mark Andrew were in the crowd, as were 32 other bishops. I missed the Rev. Susan Russell’s sermon, but I am sure it will be on her blog, soon. I think more people, and certainly more bishops would have made it to Integrity’s Eucharist if the opening Eucharist had not run late. A number of bishops with special roles in the conference had to attend briefings after the Eucharist, and couldn’t get to the green on time.

While talking to the press on the green I learned that Bishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone and some others had not taken communion at the Eucharist. This strikes me as very poor theology. I’d take the Eucharist with a congregation full of murderers, not as an endorsement of their worth, but as an acknowledgment of my need. To willfully reject an opportunity to receive the body and blood of Christ because you have theological disagreements with other members of the congregation seems an act of incredible spiritual pride. In pursuing the strategy, Venables asserts his right to pass judgment on the guest list for the Lord’s Supper, a meal at which he himself is a guest.

As I don’t think he is a theological ignoramus, I suspect he did it to have something to say to the BBC. I am all in favor of him pursuing a strategy that focuses attention on his own bad behavior.

The Integrity/CA Eucharist was covered by two crews from the BBC—both of whom interviewed Bishop Bruce Caldwell of Wyoming—and several reporters from the Times of London. John Burns also conducted a few interviews, but I don’t know whether he is writing for tomorrow or not.

It’s 6:30 here in Canterbury and time to move on to our new accommodations, a farm house 25 minutes east of the city where we will stay for the rest of the conference. Tomorrow the Archbishop of Canterbury will brief the media at 1:30; BBC2 will air a documentary on the conflict in the Communion (that includes an interview with Bishop John Bryson Chane) at 7 p. m., I think, and Brian McLaren, internationally know evangelist, and friend of the Diocese of Washington, will give the evening plenary address.

I hope to return to a more impressionistic, less journalistic style tomorrow, but today seemed to call for a quasi-comprehensive sort of approach.


The official press release about Archbishop Rowan Williams opening remarks to the first full plenary session of the Lambeth Conference can be found here. A PDF version of the full address can also be found there. Episcopal Life reports on the worship service here, including these reactions to the sermon by Bishop Duleep de Chickera:

After the service, Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta said he was "particularly moved" by de Chickera's sermon since it "lifted your soul," however, Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh said the inclusion of the chant was "very, very troubling" since it was an "invocation of something other than the God we know."

"Voices of Witness: Africa"

This video offers a first look at "Voices of Witness: Africa", a new film by Integrity USA that offers stories of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in Africa. It will premiere at the Lambeth Conference on July 23rd at 8 p.m. in Keynes Lecture Theatre 1.

Ruth Gledhill was given a preview of the film and her brief interview of film editor Katie Sherrod is at the start of the clip above. Here are her observations after seeing the film:

The result is an incredibly powerful and moving film which is to be sent to every one of the 880 bishops in the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion.

. . .

The stories include a transgendered male-to-female Nigerian, a partnered lesbian activist in Uganda, a transgendered male-to-female Ugandan, a Kenyan who was abused along with his twin brother by an uncle, a gay Ugandan farmer, gay partners in Kenya who dream of having their union blessed and a gay Nigerian who was beaten badly simply for being gay.

Considering the penalties in Africa for being actively gay - in Uganda it carries a life sentence - these people must be applauded for their bravery.

There can be no doubt that the Anglican Communion is moving in the direction of inclusivity. With barely 100 conservative bishops here in Canterbury and 230 boycotting the conference, the conservative voice is unlikely to prevail.

Read it all here.

The full video, "Voices of Witness: Africa", be found at the Integrity USA blog.

Blogging bishops, update

What is on the hearts and minds of the blogging bishops during their time in Canterbury at the Lambeth Conference? Deep and not so deep thoughts are being shared across the blogosphere in these few weeks. Some are mastering technology with only a few lessons before leaving their trusty media officers. Some are still challenged. Following are few “outtakes” found in the Feed (see below for more) that links many of the bishops’ offerings.

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The role of doubt in religion

Peter Steinfels has a provocative column in the New York Times that discusses the importance of doubt to our modern faith. The question he raises is this: is our doubt a transition to a life without faith? Or is modern faith simply more comfortable with doubt? While inconclusive, the data seems to point to the first option:

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Live: trivial pursuits

By Jim Naughton

With so little happening, the media is parsing trivialities. It turns out that the purportedly Buddhist chant with which the Right Reverend Duleep de Chickera, the Bishop of Colombo, concluded his sermon at yesterday's opening Eucharist was actually a profession of faith in the Trinity chanted in what struck many listeners as a Buddhist fashion. [Video of sermon here.]

The fact that Bishop Tom Wright processed in a purple cassock was not some obscure sort of protest, against the presence of the Episcopal Church at the conference, but the result of his rochet and chimere being lost in transit.

The rumor of the morning is that some new draft of the covenant will be unveiled at a news conference at 1 p. m., but I can't find a mainstream reporter who believes this is credible. The question reporters are asking me this morning is whether I know how the conference is being paid for.

I don't.

Simon Sarmiento has arrived and Thinking Anglican's round-up of yesterday's coverage in the English press is this morning's must-read.

Live: ABC meets the press

By Jim Naughton

Archbishop Rowan Williams met the press this morning in a facility know as the Missing Link building, and unlike Saturday’s “interview” with Tom Wright, I did not make that up. He answered one of the key questions put to him with great clarity, another with evasion, and a third with intriguing nuance.

The first question Williams faced after some brief opening remarks was what message he would send to the conservative bishops who have boycotted the conference, and is their absence a sign that the Communion will soon splinter.

To the first part of the question Williams responded: “We’re sorry you’re not here.” He said the presence of Archbishops Peter Akinola of Nigeria, Henry Orombi of Uganda and others would have been “a healing and helpful thing,” but “also a difficult thing.”

To the second part of the question he uttered what might be the sound bite of the day: “If this is the end of the Anglican Communion, I don’t think anybody has told most of the people here.”

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Venables blindsided

Update: The briefing paper in question has been removed from the Gafcon site.

[As far as we know, the primates of West Africa and Tanzania are at Lambeth.]

Pat Ashworth at the Church Times Blog:

He was diplomatic about it, but it was clearly vexing to the Archbishop of the Southern Cone, Greg Venables, that he had neither seen nor agreed the published response to the St Andrew’s draft Covenant, issued by GAFCON on Friday in his name and those of the Primates of Nigeria, West Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda....

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Ancient Bible to be put online

The oldest surviving New Testament manuscript is being assembled and placed online as a resource for scholars and students. Here is the AP account:

The British Library says the full text of the Codex Sinaiticus will be available to Web users by next July, digitally reconnecting parts that are held in Britain, Russia, Germany and a monastery in Egypt's Sinai Desert.

A preview of the Codex, which also has some parts of the Old Testament, will hit the Web on Thursday — the Book of Psalms and the Gospel of Mark.

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Blogging bishops, July 21

The Indaba groups began meeting Monday to explore their commonalities as Anglican bishops. Most, but not all, of the bishops who blog seem to feel positive about the experience of listening to one another although there are some who dominate their small groups - not a surprise to anyone who has been a part of any group discussion. Hope and honest sharing are the two themes from today.

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Live: whispers, impressions

By Jim Naughton

The news of the morning lies in the Conference organizer’s unwillingness to disclose the names of the bishops in attendance. This is presumed to be an effort to shield bishops from provinces boycotting the conference from reprisals when they return home. A few bishops are on hand, I don’t know exactly how many, but I’d say enough to man one side of a full court game of basketball, but probably not enough to man both.

The rest of my report consists primarily of whispers and impressions.

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Live: Sudanese primate calls on Robinson to resign (updated)

fourth version, includes response from Bishop Robinson's spokesman

By Jim Naughton

The Primate of the Church of the Sudan, the Most Rev. Daniel Deng called on the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson to resign to preserve the unity of the Anglican Communion.

“God is not making a mistake creating Adam and Eve,” Deng said, asserting that homosexual activity contradicted Biblical teaching. “He would have created two Adams if he wanted.”

Deng said Robinson’s resignation would allow the bishops who are not at the Lambeth Conference to reconcile with the Communion. He claimed to speak for 150 bishops from 17 provinces who had held a meeting during the conference.

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Live: telling Zimbabwe's story

By Jim Naughton

The afternoon press conference--held before the interview with Sudan's Primate Daniel Deng, which will bump it out of all of tomorrow's papers--featured the Rt. Rev. Sebastian Bakare of Harare in Zimbabwe. He spoke of the persecution of his church by the regime of Robert Mugabe. Bakare succeeded the deposed Mugabe-supporter, Nolbert Kunonga, who was kept in office by the former primate of Central Africa, Bernard Malango, whom the Archbishop of Canterbury appointed to the panel that produced the Windsor Report.

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Saudi Arabia holds interfaith conference

As the Lambeth Conference continues in Canterbury, England, the King of Saudi Arabia sponsored an interfaith conference in Madrid, Spain. In a report from the Washington Post:

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Blogging bishops, July 22

Everyday life at the Lambeth Conference is settling into the bishop blogosphere. After the "high" of Sunday's services and the beginning of what is called ordinary time - only the most committed blogging bishops seem to be posting today.

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Live: TEC-Sudan relations, what happens now?

By Jim Naughton

Archbishop Daniel Deng's call for the resignation of Bishop Gene Robinson today surprised many of his friends and colleagues in the Episcopal Church because the Sudanese Church has extensive relationships with Episcopal dioceses and parishes, and openly gay clergy and lay people are active in these relationships.

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Live: Sudan, an ironic sidelight

Yesterday, the Episcopal Church of Sudan urged the Episcopal Church to suspend all litigation against breakaway churches attempting to leave the denomination but maintain possession of the parish property. Their call has an ironic twist, as is evident in the latest newsletter of the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan. (See pages 10-11.)

In brief, the Episcopal Church of Sudan lost control of its guesthouse to the Reformed Episcopal Church of the Sudan. The RECS said that it broke from the ECS because the ECS condoned homosexuality. The guesthouse was then sold to a Sudanese corporation. The Episcopal Church of Sudan sued. In March, it won. An Episcopal church in Virginia, and members of American Friends of the Church of Sudan helped pay for the lawsuit.

Terry Martin listens

Updated 9 PM to add ELO link

Terry Martin (known by many as Father Jake) has a new job and a new blog Father T. Listens to the World. He explains:

My name is Terry Martin, also known as "Fr. T." I currently serve as the Program Officer for Evangelism at the Episcopal Church Center. I'm new to this position, so I need your help in discovering creative and innovative strategies for evangelism. Let's talk.

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Boycotting bishops nothing new

Since its beginning, it seems that every Lambeth Conference has had its boycotters and non-attendees. A report from Ecumenical News International says, "When the first Lambeth Conference opened in 1867, only 76 of the Anglican Communion's 144 bishops accepted an invitation by the Archbishop of Canterbury to attend because of disagreement among them about the way the church was shaping-up in British colonies."

The impetus for the 1867 meeting came from the Anglican Church in Canada, concerned about the activities of the British-born bishop of Natal in South Africa, John Colenso. He was tolerating polygamy among African converts to Christianity, and questioning traditional doctrines about the Eucharist and eternal punishment.

HT to Ekklesia.

What is new is blogging bishops.

Blogging bishops, July 23


Tomorrow the bishops are off to London see The Queen, have tea and some will March for the MDGs. Living in a dormitory far from home, interacting all day with other bishops seems to have made a few a bit edgy. Today some have remarks about the statement of Archbishop Deng of Sudan, others comment on the discussions of the Covenant, and one is still missing his luggage.

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Lambeth, Day 3

Episcopal Life Online has a good summary of the day three, including the Windsor Continuation group, and on American reactions to Archbishop Deng's statement on Bishop Robinson. ELO reports the focus of the day was global poverty.

Coverage of day 3 at the official Lambeth Conference website includes the other statement from Sudan (complete statement below) -- on the crisis is Sudan. Check out the Lambeth Daily.

The BBC gives a foretaste of what Rowan Williams will say Thursday in Central London at the bishops march against global poverty.

Addendum: Thinking Anglicans has a roundup of news reports.

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Bishops march for MDGs

Today the bishops at the Lambeth Conference travel to London to march through London calling upon world leaders to take action on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Led by the Archbishop of Canterbury they hope to witness to the urgent needs of the world. The ABC will present a letter (see below) to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Over 1500 religious leaders, politicians, and charity leaders will join the Archbishop in the witness.

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Olympic Games bracelets protest human rights abuses

Ecumenical News International (ENI) reports on the Olympic Games black bracelet protest begun by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover, Germany.

A German church has far exceeded its initial expectations in distributing more than 200,000 black bracelets intended as a symbolic protest against human rights abuses in China during the Olympic Games in Beijing.

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Live: slacking off and catching up

By Jim Naughton

Today felt a bit like a Saturday for those of us who did not accompany the bishops into London for their walk through the streets to call attention to the plight of the world’s poor. My house mates and I had lunch in a village pub near the house where we are staying about 10 miles east of Canterbury. Afterwards I drove to the town of Sandwich where I spent half an hour exploring its narrow streets in search of a dry cleaners shop. Turns out he’s on vacation. Now I am sitting in the Sandwich Library, availing myself of its Wi-fi to file a few random notes.

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Tutu calls for tough action on climate change

In a video message for the UK-based World Development Movement (WDM), Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has backed calls for the British government and its citizens to take tough action on climate change according to a report from Ekklesia.

The WDM video says the UK government should stop the growth in air flights and to put in place an 80 per cent CO2 emissions reduction target by 2050.

The climate bill, currently going through parliament, includes only a 60 per target, and the G8 talked of 50 per cent - with a questionable start date.

Archbishop Tutu says: “It is the countries which are the least responsible for causing climate change that are paying the heaviest price. The average UK citizen produces nearly 50 times as much carbon dioxide as the average citizen in the developing world. This is a serious injustice.

Read it all here.

Petition for a North American province of Gafcon

There's a pattern developing at Lambeth, and it's not a pretty one. On the day which was to focus on poverty and violence in Sudan, that message was snowed over by the call from Sudan's bishops for Bishop Robinson to resign, and for property disputes to end. Archbishop Deng said he was speaking for many conservative bishops throughout the Anglican Communion. That pattern is repeated today.

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Bishops blogging, July 24

Bishops' blogs today feature the London field trip, comments on the March, the Lambeth lunch, the Queen's tea, bishops and spouses melting in the English sun, as well as some followup on controversies in Canterbury, and the news, noted here, that +Bob Duncan, Pittsburgh is leaving the Conference.

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Live, breaking: a Holy Office to call our own?

updated most recently at 9:20 a .m., EDT, to include quotes from Archbishop Williams and some additional commentary at bottom.

By Jim Naughton

The Windsor Continuation Group has endorsed a strong centralizing agenda that elevates the role of the Primates Meeting, diminishes the influence of the Anglican Consultative Council, and endorses the establishment of an "Anglican Communion Faith and Order Commission." The proposal, which is sure to face stiff resistance, is the strongest signal yet that this important body intends to recommend wide ranging changes in Communion governance.

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Meeting Gene Robinson

The Bishop of New Hampshire reports on his meeting with other bishops from around the Anglican Communion this past Wednesday evening. Bishops from six continents were in attendance, many having been personally invited by bishops from the Episcopal Church.

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Live: repairing relationships

By Jim Naughton

The Primate of Sudan assured five Episcopal bishops today that despite his call for the resignation of Bishop Gene Robinson, he wanted to continue his relationships with dioceses and parishes in the Episcopal Church.

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Colbert "reports" on Lambeth

Stephen Colbert's show on Comedy Central is one of those hard-to-characterize media entities that are becoming a major source of news and opinion for an entire generation of Americans. In last night's episode Colbert interviews Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times about the Lambeth Conference.

You can see the full show here.

The bit on the Anglican Communion is teased at the very beginning of the show and then starts to run about 5 minutes in. The full pieces takes about 5 minutes or so to develop.

(NB from your daily editor: this is probably PG or even PG13, so be warned.)

A view from inside

Suzie Whitmore, who is attending the Spouses events at Lambeth, wrote a reflection on what the juxtaposition of the march through London and the reception with the Queen might mean.

After describing the day, and the pagentry, Suzie goes on to observe:

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Veteran journalist writes Rowan on press relations at Lambeth

Reports of tension between the media and organizers of the Lambeth Conference inspired longtime Anglican affairs writer Doug LeBlanc to pen the following open letter to Archbishop Rowan Williams:

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Bishops blogging, July 25

Bishops are blogging again after a night of rest following a long day in London. 'Indaba is working' is one theme. I wonder if taking the walk/march has something to do with this? At church camp there is nothing quite like a long hike to bring the camp together. There is also the stage of community life where people begin to claim their own authority and rebel against the facilitators- often to good effect.

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MacIyalla granted U.K. asylum

Davis MacIyalla, a Nigerian campaigner for the rights of gay and lesbian people in the Church and in the world, was granted asylum by the British government yesterday because of death threats he has received from people in Nigeria.

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On being more than a social club

One of the joys of being a weekend editor is stumbling across profiles of clergy written for local newspapers for their weekend religion sections; with blogging, it allows the spotlight to shine on leaders of smaller congregations.

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Live: where things stand

updated most recently at 4:00 p.m., EDT, to include links to coverage of the press conference on the MDGs

By Jim Naughton

What if they gave a news conference and nobody came? Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, upon whom the press falls with gusto whenever they catch sight of her, was one of the presenters at this afternoon’s press conference, but played to a relatively small crowd, due, in part, to a party being given by the Times of London. Even the press comes up for air.

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With Jesus on the fringes

The Washington Post, writing about Gene Robinson's exclusion from Lambeth, offers some first-person accounts from Robinson, who they say is "a celebrity on a mission":

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Dehyping the hype on Faith and Order

It's hard to discern from media coverage who thinks what about Friday's developments at Lambeth regarding the Faith and Order Commission--aside from it seeming to be a move toward centralization, which no one is thrilled with. The idea of the Archbishop's office or a select cadre of bishops having more authority sounds eerily like a pope thing, with Ruth Gledhill of the Times going as far as saying it's the first step on a slippery slope an toward Inquisition.

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Bishops blogging, July 26

Today was group photo day. Sort of an exercise in Where's Waldo? to pick out one's bishop in the midst of them. One good thing about having fewer bishops who are women (18 of 24 in attendance this year), they are all recognizable in their photo. More reflections on Bible study and Indaba groups as well as the March for the MDGs. What a schedule they keep: up at dawn which is quite early in England this time of year, off to worship, Bible study, Indaba, then plenaries in the evening. Tomorrow, Sunday, is a less busy day, not sure if that will mean more or less bishop blogging.

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Randy Pausch, author of "Last Lecture," dies at 47

Lest anyone wonder about the power of the internet as a medium in which to be heard, Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture," initially titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," surfaced on YouTube last year. The lecture, which Pausch hoped would eventually find its way to his young children, since he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, wound up with nearly 3.5 million views and became a bestselling book.

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Live: Rowan rising

By Jim Naughton

The Archbishop of Canterbury is on a bit of a roll here at the Lambeth Conference. He has clearly established himself as the undisputed leader of this potentially fractious gathering of bishops, a fact perhaps best attested to by his peers bursting into spontaneous applause on two occassions--first after his presidential address at the opening of the conference, and again yesterday when a photographer asked him to take his place in the front row at the taking of yesterday's 'class picture.'

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Brian McLaren on Lambeth

Brian McLaren, the prominent de facto spokesperson for the emergent church movement, gave a plenary address at Lambeth earlier this week. He writes of his time there:

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Churches and the personal debt crisis

The Washington Post reports on how churches are addressing the debt crisis in the US:

With the country on the cusp of a recession and many people burdened by the mortgage foreclosure crisis, skyrocketing gas prices and rising grocery bills, religious leaders across the Washington region are increasingly ministering to their members about financial responsibility, encouraging them to control their spending.

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Bowling in the afterlife

David Bartal, writing in Sweden, reflects on the healing power of bowling.

Just a few days before I was to undergo a major life-threatening operation in a Stockholm hospital last year, I did something odd. Together with my sister who was visiting from Los Angeles, a Swedish graphic designer, and a few journalist buddies, I decided to go bowling.

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Bishops blogging, July 27

The bishops' schedule is lighter today. Some are catching up with their blogs and many are reflecting on the experiences of the past week and their hopes for this week. Some have made connections they believe will grow in the future. Click on the bishops' names to read their whole blog.

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Live: later today

By Jim Naughton

While we are as eager for eyeballs as the next Web site, we’ve decided that uninteresting statements do not become interesting for being uttered in the context of the Lambeth Conference. So we won’t be filing a report after every press conference, or attempting to read significance into statements made by people who will have no influence over whatever word the bishops assembled for the conference decide to speak.

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An empty stomach has no ears to hear with

The Bishop of Botswana, Trevor Mwamba is comfortable with the direction and tone of the Indaba process at Lambeth and says that the Bishops have now gotten in substantial discussions about sexuality and the Communion and the importance of the Millennium Development Goals. Real dialog is taking place and Mwamba is says the issues are too important to fall for an agenda that is handed to Africans from the outside.

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Live, breaking: a pastoral forum?

updated at 1:35 p.m. ET

By Jim Naughton

The Windsor Continuation Group today called for “the swift formation of a Pastoral Forum at a communion level to engage theologically and practically with situations of controversy as they arise or divisive actions that may be taken around the Communion.”

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Live: dueling analysis

By Jim Naughton

Updated: 6:45 pm EDT Monday, July 28

Be afraid: some of our bishops think the pastoral forum proposal has a head of steam, that it is what Rowan Williams wants and that he has established the credibility at this conference to get it. They don’t go as far as I am about to, but the implication of their thinking is that the Episcopal Church should prepare to distance itself in some way from the Anglican Communion, or accept some sort of reduced status so as not to a) implode; b) compromise one of the few things that makes us attractive to our rapidly secularizing culture; c) betray our consciences on the issue of full inclusion.

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Irish bishops leave room for differences

The Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Rev. John Neill, says that the twelve bishops of Ireland have found ways to continue to minister together even as they disagree about the ordination of gays. He tells the Irish Times that he has mellowed his position from opposition and is sorry that Bishop Robinson is not part of the Lambeth Conference.

Speaking to The Irish Times at the Lambeth Conference, Dr John Neill said he "would emphasise that all of us (Irish bishops) feel our positions are compatible with scripture and respect each other's different understanding (of scripture) on the subject".

Dr Neill said he had been "very strongly opposed to gay clergy but over the years I have mellowed a great deal". It had been a similar case where his views on the ordination of women priests were concerned: "As you get older you do see a bigger picture," he said.

As for the consecration of then canon Gene Robinson as bishop in 2003 he felt it was "untimely" but he had been very impressed by an American bishop who had opposed that consecration but had later said to him "now you are going to be a bishop and I am going to work with you".

Dr Neill continued: "And that's the way I feel too. The consecration may have been premature, but once it happened it was proper to recognise him as a bishop of the church. I am just sorry he is not part of this conference.

The Irish Times: Room for differing opinions on gay clergy, says archbishop

Hatred motive for attack on UU Church

The man who attacked the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church during church services yesterday was said by local police to be motivated by hatred. The congregation's web site says that they have already begun a healing process that will include a debriefing for those present at the shooting and a community candlelight vigil for those killed and injured.

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Bishops blogging, July 28

There is a sense of some anxiety balanced by hope running through some of the bishops blogs today. Life under the big top and in the small groups has heated up from the warm weather. The Sabbath rest was good but now the conference time is more than half over and some of the more difficult hearings and discussions are on the schedule. The hope is strong that the relationships will continue to reveal the presence of Christ as promised when two or three are gathered.

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Live: confronting domestic violence

updated at bottom with press conference, 9:51 a. m., EDT.

By Jim Naughton

While much of the media’s attention at the Lambeth Conference has focused on the issue of homosexuality, the session that may have the deepest emotional impact on the bishops and their spouses attending the conference were this morning’s presentations on violence against women.

The issue is a particularly explosive one. Its inclusion acknowledges that many women at the conference have been victims of violence. More to the point, it implies that bishops are not simply neglecting the issue of violence against women, but that they may be complicit or involved in it.

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Lambeth meets Second Life

The Right Rev. Christopher Hill writes in the Church Times about his introduction to the Anglican Church in Second Life (SL) a year ago, when a lawyer asked him, essentially, if it was possible to take the 450+ member virtual community seriously from a theological perspective. Today, during a "fringe" session at Lambeth, attendees got a tour of the virtual cathedral.

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The Archbishop of Canterbury's second presidential address

At Dar es Salaam the primates tried to find a way of inviting different groups to take a step forward simultaneously towards each other. It didn't happen, and each group was content to blame the other. But the last 18 months don't suggest that this was a good outcome. Can this Conference now put the same kind of challenge? To the innovator, can we say, 'Don't isolate yourself; don't create facts on the ground that make the invitation to debate ring a bit hollow'? Can we say to the traditionalist, 'Don't invest everything in a church of pure and likeminded souls; try to understand the pastoral and human and theological issues that are urgent for those you are opposing."

To find the entire address click Read more.

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Live: the cage match that wasn't

By Jim Naughton

The most delicious thing has just happened. The Episcopal Church held a second reception in a campus building for African bishops interested in exploring companion relationships. So far, so ordinary. But somehow, word of this gathering reached the media centre last night in the following form:

The Episcopal Church and an unspecified number of African bishops were to meet on the lawn in front of the media centre tomorrow at 3 p. m. to have it out. The Africans have demanded that the meeting be held in public, so its outcome would be plain for all to see. A cage match!

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Take me out to the ball game

While the bishops are attending the Lambeth Conference, life is not all Lambeth all the time for your baseball loving Episcopal Cafe´staff. The Journal Sentinel of Milwaukee, Wisconsin reports on St. Alban's Episcopal Church Sunday morning service in the parking lot of Miller Park before attending the Brewer's baseball game. Is a baseball game a little taste of heaven?

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Blogging bishops, July 29

Bishops continue to report their reactions to the Windsor Continuation Group report and the Covenant process. Every blogging bishop, from whatever point of view on other issues, seems to have been inspired by Sir Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of England. Today the bishops were deeply moved by the presentations on gender violence. The bishops' wives requested a session on this subject for the 1998 Lambeth Conference and it finally appeared on the schedule in 2008. Videos of the news conference with the presenters can be found here.

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Live: five days and counting

By Jim Naughton

The Lambeth Conference concludes in five days, and I don't think anyone can predict with confidence how it will end. The bishops I have talked to--most of the them from the Episcopal Church and the Churches of Brazil, Central America and Mexico--seem to be cautiously optimistic about the outcome of events here. They came with the hopes of building relationships with bishops from other provinces, and, for the most part, they have accomplished that. Their aim now is to get out of Dodge before anything happens to undermine those friendships.

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Live: the Bible press conference

Some notes from this afternoon's press conference on Biblical interpretation:

David Moxen, the Archbishop of New Zealand described a four-part approach to Scripture used in his province in an attempt to move toward some common understandings of Biblical interpretation. It is informed by the notion that one wants to build a "large house for the way we use the Bible."

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Live: Reflections, the second draft

We have just received the most recent draft of the reflections paper--which is still a work in progress. Here is the paragraph that may give the best sense of what is to come:

Indaba is not shaped to produce a Communique, an Encyclical Letter, or a text which resembles a series of dispositions or resolutions. Indaba is open-ended conversation, which doesn't begin by looking for results or feedback. The final document must be faithful to the indaba process: it will therefore be descriptive of the totality of the engagement which the bishops have undertaken under God.

Another worthwhile paragraph:

Nevertheless, we must acknowledge that there are great tensions in our relationship at present, and an erosion of trust between us. There is concern caused by a perceived lack of restraint and self-limitation, by impaired communion and by intervention across provinces. There is some lack of confidence in the "Instruments of Communion" as the means of achieving this and a particular concern about the role of the Primates' Meeting.

There is a strong view that the way forward lies chiefly through deepening: person to person relationships; diocesan partnerships; reviving our sense of belonging and mutual affection.

We recognize that the variety of provincial order---the different polities of our Churches--can produce misunderstandings and confusions.

Rhetoric can kill

Candace Chellew-Hodge, a former co-worker with Sean Hannity of Fox News, has written an open letter to him, and to all in the media, which reflects on the role that rhetoric has played in leading to the shootings in Tennessee this past Sunday.

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Bits and pieces: news from the Lambeth Fringe

A roundup of a few events from the Lambeth Fringe, news and commentary.

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Bishops blogging, July 30


Bishops continue their reflections on Tuesday's powerful session on violence against women, also commenting on Rowans Williams' Second Address, and what might or might not happen in the waning days of the Lambeth Conference.

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Live: talking sex

By Jim Naughton

Today is the day that liberals in the Anglican Communion have feared ever since the schedule for the Lambeth Conference was released. The bishops of the communion, most of whom oppose the blessing of same-sex relationships and the ordination of gay clergy, are discussing homosexuality. Will they restate Resolution 1.10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference which found homosexual behavior incompatible with Scripture? Would they go further? Would punitive measures be put in place to punish provinces that support the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church?

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Live: talking sex successfully

By Jim Naughton

Left wing inclusion mongers should feel pretty good about this afternoon’s press conference on human sexuality at the Lambeth Conference. The bishops are sharing their views respectfully, speaking from their hearts, disagreeing vigorously, but forging real relationships despite their differences. If that sounds like the lead the Conference Design Team would have written if I’d sat them down at my keyboard, that’s because the design team seems to be succeeding.

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Live: drafting the Reflections

The third draft of the Reflections upon the Lambeth Conference 2008 was released this afternoon.

Here are some sections I found worthy of note, with an occasional note from me included:

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Live: fizzle

For the past two days, conservative activist the Rev. Chris Sugden, who for some reason has a press credential, even though he was among the organizers of GAFCON, has organized an afternoon press conference to conflict with the Episcopal Church's regularly-scheduled afternoon press conference. Yesterday he featured Bishop Peter Beckwith of Springfield and today his guest was Bishop Keith Ackerman of Quincy. So the media has heard--at length--from two men who, between them, don't represent a majority of the Episcopalians in the state of Illinois.

I have to admit that I am surprised that Sugden hasn't yet rolled out less marginal spokesmen.

Bishops blogging, July 31

Reports from bishops' blogs today find them wondering if the tentative relationship building will hold up in the face of pressure from those who want an "answer" now. There were moments of tension and many of amazing grace.

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Abp. Orombi criticizes Abp. Williams

The Archbishop of Uganda, Henry Orombi, writing in The Times today describes the deep sense of "betrayal" that he and like minded Anglicans have felt because of the actions of The Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Orombi additionally criticizes the vestiges of colonialism that he sees in the ways the Anglican Communion is governed and makes its decisions.

From his guest column:

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