Why, yes

Church watchers who have been wondering whether Bishop Martyn Minns of the Church of Nigeria would accept the Rev. Don Armstrong of Colorado Springs into his new missionary flock despite charges of financial shenanigans against Armstrong have their answer. Jean Torkelson of The Rocky Mountain News reports that Minns was in Colorado earlier this week trying to persuade Armstrong and his parish to join forces with him.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Springs Independent is calling attention to the prominent role that Alan R. Crippen, late of the Family Research Council, and his John Jay Institute play in Armstrong's parish.

Simon Sarmiento has other links.

A visitor from Nigeria

Davis Mac-Iyalla, the brave founder of Changing Attitudes-Nigeria, will be arriving in the United States next month for about a six-week visit. Josh Thomas of dailyoffice.org is coordinating the visit and has more details.

A female archbishop?

The Anglican Church of Canada could elect its first woman leader during a national assembly this summer.

Edmonton Bishop Victoria Matthews is among four nominees for archbishop, or primate, who were chosen Thursday by Canada's Anglican bishops during a private meeting in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

The Associated Press has the story.

African Anglicans support Mugabe

Bishops of the Province of Central Africa "have issued a message to Zimbabweans that was broadly supportive of the government, sharply contrasting with an earlier call from Catholic leaders for President Robert Mugabe to step down" the AP reports. Signatories of the pastoral letter dated April 12 include The Most Rev. Bernard Amos Malango, Primate of the Province of Central Africa, and The Right Rev. Nolbert Kunonga, Bishop of Harare.

Human rights groups have consistently criticized Mugabe and his enablers.

More:

Zimbabwe's nine Catholic bishops marked Easter with an unprecedented call on Mugabe to end oppression and leave office through democratic reform or face a mass revolt.

Their pastoral letter accused the ruling elite of racism and corruption and fomenting lawlessness and violence to cling to power and wealth, factors they said led to the economic meltdown. The letter decried state-orchestrated intimidation, beatings and torture. Predicting further bloodshed, it said the country had reached a flash point.

The Anglican church has been traditionally muted in its criticism of the government, with its leaders generally toeing the ruling party line.

In contrast to their Catholic counterparts, the Anglican bishops see the economic meltdown in the same terms as Mugabe does - a Western conspiracy.

allAfrica.com has a more extensive report from the pro-government Herald, including this:

The Anglican Bishop's pastoral letter left egg on the face of the head of the church, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Willams who, last month, tried to pressure his bishops, among them Dr Kunonga, to join the bandwagon of condemning the Government for alleged human rights excesses.

Dr Williams went to the extent of holding a one-on-one meeting with Bishop Kunonga on the sidelines of the Anglican Conference on Tackling Poverty held in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he urged him to drop his "soft stance" towards the Government.

Bishop of Connecticut to Visit Seabury Church

The Rt. Rev. Andrew D. Smith, Bishop of Connecticut, wrote a letter to the clergy of that Diocese to let them know they would be receiving an invitation to the ordination to the priesthood of the Rev. Bill Hesse, in Bishop Seabury Church, Groton, and that the ordination will be celebrated with his permission.

Bishop Seabury Church is one of six congregations in the Diocese of Connecticut that has been in a dispute with the Bishop and the diocese since the consecration of the present Bishop of New Hampshire. The dispute included a law suit and ecclesiastical charges initiated by the congregations against Smith, both of which were recently dismissed.

The letter, which was sent electronically to subscribers of the For Clergy newsletters, also shared developments in the relationship between the congregation and clergy of Bishop Seabury Church, and Bishop Smith.

Also planned is an Episcopal Visitation by Smith at Bishop Seabury Church on Trinity Sunday, June 3rd, a meeting with the Vestry and another meeting with the entire congregation prior to the May 12th ordination.

Here is the letter:

Read more »

Letter to Lambeth

A group of Episcopal rectors and cathedral deans, fresh from a retreat in Canterbury has written to Archbishop Rowan Williams asking him to "continue our Anglican precedent of inviting all jurisdictional bishops of The Episcopal Church in the United States and of the Anglican Church of Canada to the upcoming Lambeth Conference."

Signatories include Deans Samuel Candler (St. Philip's, Atlanta), Tracey Lind (Trinity, Cleveland) and Samuel Lloyd (National Cathedral), and rectors Ed Bacon (All Saints, Pasadena), Jim Cooper (Trinity, Wall Street), Harold Lewis (Calvary, Pittsburgh) and William Tully (St. Bartholomew's, New York)

Read more »

Leaven in the lump

"Illiberal winds are blowing pernicious policy and polity changes our way." the Rev. Canon Marilyn McCord Adams, Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University says. "Illiberal winds are blowing pernicious policy and polity changes our way. The Communiqué from the Tanzanian Primates’ meeting brought the intentions of those who dictated its content more fully out of the closet.

"First, it sent the sinister signal that for the forseeable future, full membership in the Anglican communion will require a local church to enforce anti-LGBT taboos: no more episcopal ordinations of coupled gay or lesbian people; no more official or clandestine church blessing of same-sex couples. Second, the Tanzanian Primates’ meeting also interpreted by enacting and enacted by interpreting the new authoritarian polity of the Anglican communion: it appears that the Anglican communion is to be governed by a collective papacy, an international college of primates exercizing dictatorial powers. Both developments raise urgent questions: should, how can LGBT people live in churches with such policies, governed by authoritarian polities that could deliver more of the same and worse? What, if anything, can we, should we do about it?"

Read more »

Another resignation

The Rev. Praveen Bunyan, rector of St. James Church Newport Beach, has resigned after confessing to inappropriate conduct with an adult female parishioner. St. James, which broke away from the Episcopal Church over the issue of homosexuality, has affiliated with the Church of Uganda. It was formerly led by the Rev. David Anderson, head of the American Anglican Council, who is now associated with the Church of Nigeria.

Saint James is the home parish of Howard Ahmanson, a key financial supporter of the Anglican right. It is locked in a court battle over its property with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Bunyan is the second high-profile rector of a breakaway parish to resign after an inappropriate relationship with a female parishioner in the last two months. The Rev. Sam Pascoe of Grace Church in Orange Park, Fla., resigned under similar circumstances in late February.

Both men have been sharply critical of the Episcopal Church, saying that it had lost its moral compass on issues of human sexuality.

A "lost boy" goes home

Salva Dut, tall, slender, son of a Dinka cattle herdsman, has a smile that will light up any room. History calls him, and thousands of other children who fled Sudan, Lost Boys.

At age 11, Dut, with other children, fled from his school into the bush through gunfire and jet-bomb blasts. As he ran, each day he was in danger of being conscripted by rebel armies or killed by militiamen from the north.

Now he has returned to drill wells in his homeland. Episcopal Life Online has the story.

African Anglican poisoned

Ruth Gledhill in The Times:

Relatives of Canon Rodney Hunter, 73, believe that his food was contaminated by supporters of the Rev. Nicholas Henderson in a battle between the liberal and conservative wings of the Anglican Church.
...
Canon Hunter was an outspoken critic of plans to appoint the liberal Mr Henderson as Bishop of Lake Malawi. The Province of Central Africa is at the heart of conservative evangelical opposition to the liberal Anglican outlook in the West on homosexuality.

Mr. Henderson, Vicar of St Martin’s Acton West and All Saints’ Ealing Common, was elected as Bishop of Lake Malawi last August. He had known the region for 18 years, raising funds for religious, social and humanitarian projects, and was learning the local language, Chichewe. At the time, few in Malawi knew of his record as a leading liberal theologian and that he had been chairman of the Modern Churchpeople’s Union. There was also concern in Africa at reports that he had a male lodger.

As a result, the Primate of Central Africa, the Most Rev. Bernard Malango, wrote to Mr. Henderson asking him to confirm that he subscribed to the Creeds, the Bible and the Thirty-Nine Articles and that he “fashions his own like and his household according to the doctrine of Christ”.

The diocese’s Court of Confirmation blocked Mr Henderson’s consecration, deeming him “a man of unsound faith”, and instead appointed the retired Bishop of Zambia, the Right Rev. Leonard Mwenda.

Read it all here.

UPDATE: Canon Hunter's earlier statement on the appointment of Mewenda is here. For insight into the election and rejection of Henderson see this Church Times article from December 9, 2005.

Lambeth 2008: Not a Parliamentary Debating Chamber

From the Anglican Communion News Service:

Lambeth Conference Plans move forward
Decision-makers met last week to continue their planning for progress plans for the Lambeth Conference 2008.

The conference ‘Design Group’, appointed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spent five days from April 16 to 20 working on looking the conference structures, purposes, issues and programme.
...
The purpose of the Lambeth Conference 2008 is to enable bishops to discern and share their Anglican identity and become better equipped as leaders in God’s mission.
...
The Lambeth Conference in 2008 will be different: it will not resemble a parliamentary debating chamber with a string of resolutions but aim to provide time and space for spiritual reflection, learning, sharing and discerning.

Amongst the topics it will address are the: Millennium Development Goals, HIV/Aids, Ethical/Green living, Anglican identity and covenant, The Listening Process and relationships with people of other Faiths. A fuller programme will be available on the web site www.lambethconference.org in the near future.

The full press release is here.

Archbishop Akinola coming to Virginia in May

Archbishop Akinola, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican) will be coming to Woodbridge Virginia early next month to install Bishop Martyn Minns in his new role as the leader of CANA.

The Installation will take place on May 5th at the The Cecil D. Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge. Jim Robb, CANA’s media officer confirmed the Archbishop’s visit, but said that complete press information about the event has not yet been posted. He does expect to have further information posted in the near future however.

Additional details will, most likely, be posted here.

Covenant Study Guide Help

Mark Harris and Marshall Scott have published helpful guides and reflections on a Study Guide on the Report of the Covenant Design Group and the Draft Covenant published by the Executive Council.

To read Marshall's go to Episcopal Chaplain at the BesideQuestion 1 and Question 2. Watch that site for more.

To read Mark's responses Click HERE

Update on the situation in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean newspaper has more information about the developing situation in Zimbabwe.

"President Mugabe is most anxious to neutralize the Christian church and give the world the impression it sides with him against his critics.

On March 11 police crushed a prayer meeting that led to world press publicity against the entrenched Mugabe regime. Later Catholics issued a pastoral statement that infuriated Mugabe.

Zanu (PF) 'spin doctors' assert that 'rebel' Catholics are led by the Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube who (they claim) is in the pay of Prime Minister Tony Blair and the British Government.

Reacting to the Anglican message, Eddie Cross of the MDC said that Zimbabwean Anglicans are in a difficult position. 'Perhaps they should withdraw from all congregations that are led by Bishop Nolbert,' he suggested. 'Or join a church that is not so myopic in its views.'

Meantime, Anglicans in the UK are waiting to hear from the Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Revd Nicholas Baines. He flew to Harare on Easter Tuesday and is expected to inform Lambeth Palace about the situation in Zimbabwe.

Sources told The Zimbabwean that Bishop Nick was anxious not to meet Bishop Nolbert who most Anglicans say has disgraced the 75 million strong worldwide community. 'The Zimbabweans have been very clear that we should visit them at their points of weakness and not just wait until everything is OK,' he said before his departure."

Read the rest here: The Zimbabwean - An Independent Zimbabwe Newspaper

Hat tip to Kendall Harmon at titusonenine for pointing out the article

UPDATED info after the jump:

Read more »

Asian Anglican Archbishop to Speak in Dallas

The Dallas Morning News reports that recently retired Anglican Archbishop of Southeast Asia Yong Ping Chung will speak next Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Church of The Holy Communion in Dallas TX.

From the congregation's announcement:

"The Archbishop’s topic will be, 'Recover the Vision', how Anglicans in North America can return to Jesus' Great Commission to spread His Word. His Grace will share the dynamic of the Global South of the Anglican Communion that has made this part of Anglicanism one of the fastest growing churches in the world.

The Archbishop remains one of the most influential Anglican leaders in the traditional and devout Global South of the eighty million member worldwide Anglican Communion. An outspoken proponent of biblical and orthodox Anglicanism, he is known as an 'Asian Tiger for Jesus Christ'. He has described much of the Anglican leadership in the West as 'spiritually bankrupt', believing the correction is a return to true commitment to Jesus Christ and His Holy Word.

Church of the Holy Communion is affiliated with the Reformed Episcopal Church."

Read the rest here: Dallas Morning News (Religion staff): Asian archbishop to speak in Dallas

Akinola is on the way

"The Anglican archbishop of Nigeria, a fierce critic of the Episcopal Church for its acceptance of homosexuality, is arriving next week to install a bishop to lead congregations around the country that want to break from it," says The New York Times.

"Episcopal leaders say the visit threatens to strain further the already fragile relations between their church and the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion. But Episcopal traditionalists say there is a growing desire among them to break away."

Read it all, and ask yourself whether this story wouldn't have benefitted from a few numbers. How many of the Episcopal Church's 7,600 congregations have evinced any interest in joining forces with Akinola? One precent? Less? Note too the use of the word "anger" in the headline. Do the Presiding Bishop and the Rev. Mark Harris sound angry?

UPDATE: More from the Presiding Bishop here (or click read more).

Read more »

Parsing the Zimbabwe letter

The bishops of Central Africa released a letter last week on the crisis in Zimbabwe. It has widely been interpretted as supportive of President Robert Mugabe, in part because a key Zimbabwean bishop, Nolbert Kunonga, and the Central African primate, Bernard Malango, have been supportive of Mugabe in the past. But Bishop Trevor Mwamba of Botswana, who gave a much admired lecture recently in Liverpool, says the letter is being misinterpreted.

The Church Times has an overview, that includes quotes from Mwamba:

"As you can imagine, in Zimbabwe there are divisions within the Church itself, and so there was a need to wean certain hearts and minds to be able to put forward a statement all the bishops could subscribe to.

In that sense, yes, it does not appear as sharp as the pastoral letter from the Catholic bishops. It took a middle-of-the-road pastoral approach. Nevertheless, the sting is there in calling for drastic change, for the government to be called upon to create a conducive environment for that, and for the Church to stand forward and speak sharply in the context of its calling and prophetic ministry.” The Bishop described it as “the beginning of a long journey of bishops moving together — very gently, for need of carrying certain of our friends along."


But a columnist in the Zimbabwean Independent isn't buying it:

" Anglicans of Zimbabwe: hang your heads in shame.

The disgraceful performance of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa in dishonestly pretending that the country's problems stem from sanctions and not Mugabe's misrule will go down as one of the greatest betrayals of the struggle for democracy."


Seven Windsor bishops write Williams

According to The Living Church Foundation, these seven bishops affirmed their commitment to the Windsor Report.

Windsor Bishops Write Archbishop Williams, Set Meeting Dates

Seven bishops have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, assuring him of their continued “strong support” of the Windsor Report and the process it recommends.

The "Windsor Bishops" have met twice previously at Camp Allen near Houston. The group has scheduled two additional meetings for June 18-19 and Aug. 9-10.

“We want to reassure you that we are committed to the Camp Allen principles and realize that for us, they are the way by which we intend to remain united as we move forward in these challenging days,” the bishops stated in an April 26 letter.

“We also realize that the covenant process is critical to these discussions, and indeed is the focal point of the work now underway to define our life together. For us, neither of these commitments has wavered in light of the recent decisions by the House of Bishops.”

The letter was signed by the following bishops:
• John W. Howe, Central Florida
• James M. Stanton, Dallas
• Jeffrey N. Steenson, Rio Grande
• Edward L. Salmon, Jr., retired, South Carolina
• Don A. Wimberly, Texas
• Gary W. Lillibridge, West Texas
• D. Bruce MacPherson, Western Louisiana

In their letter the bishops refer to themselves as “The Steering Committee of the Windsor Bishops.”

Canada's HOB releases statement on same-sex blessings

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

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

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

Read the whole statement here.

The Huffington Post: A Split Episcopal Church

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

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

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

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

Read the whole thing here: A Split Episcopal Church.

PB asks Akinola to reconsider visit

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

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

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

Read it all.

Keeping everyone at the table

From Anglican Journal:

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

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

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

Read it all here.

Some Canadian Anglicans call for cautious approach

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

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

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

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

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

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


Read it all here.

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

Canadian bishops reject same-sex blessings

The Toronto Star is reporting this morning:

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

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

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

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

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

Read all of the Toronto Star article here.

A letter from Bishop Lee

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

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

Read more »

PMI and ACI compared

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

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

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

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

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

Abp Akinola Replies

From The Church of Nigeria website

2nd May, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

Read more »

Minns holds press conference

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

Read more »

Canterbury asks Akinola to cancel trip

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

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

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

He's back

Anglican Church Intercedes

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

- Neela Banerjee, New York Times


Archbishop Angry About Minister Becoming Bishop

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

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

-- Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post

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

The buzz on the visit

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

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

Coverage commences

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

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

Akinola responds to letter from Williams

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

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

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

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

The letter is posted on the Church of Nigeria website.

Bridging a divide through ongoing dialogue

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


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

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

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

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

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

Read more about Canon Kearon's address here.

Panel of Reference Issues Review

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

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

(Anglican Communion News Service, May 8)

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

Some extracts follow.

About its mandate

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

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

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

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

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

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Sisk speaks on Akinola's "bold claim"

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

Here are some new nuggets:

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

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

It's all here.

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Building Block or Divisive Wedge?

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

Listen to it all HERE

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

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

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

Read it all HERE.

Bp Minns' sermon HERE.

Thanks to Thinking Anglicans.

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A grassroots look at the Draft Covenant

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

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

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

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


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

Seeking Solutions in Communion

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

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

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

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

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

Read Haller's suggestions HERE

And Radner's complete essay HERE

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Ndungane questions course of Communion

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

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

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

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

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

speaking of the 1998 Lambeth Conference:

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

and of the proposed Anglican Covenant:

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

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

The full address can be found below.

Read more »

A slow advance

By Winnie Varghese

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

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

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

Can we further disallow something not allowed?

Read it all in Episcopal Life Online.

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1944: The first female Anglican priest

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

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

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

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

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


Read it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The worksheets and instructions for their use can be found at Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh: Worksheet for Draft Covenant Study Guide
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Leaks About Lambeth

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

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

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

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

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

The opinions of Orombi

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

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Province of Uganda seeks financiers

New Vision reports:

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

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

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

Read it all here.

The Draft Covenant: Aids for study and comment

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

Peter Akinola, statesman

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

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

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

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

(Emphasis added.)

Just because a chicken has wings...

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

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

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

Read it all.

Disputing Gerson

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

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

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

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

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

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

JIM NAUGHTON

Canon for Communications and Advancement

Episcopal Diocese of Washington

Washington


Of Oligarchs and Adhocracy

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

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

Read it all.

Invitations to Lambeth

UPDATE (8:30am): (AP)

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

MORE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press Media Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in Christ,

Rowan CANTUAR:

Ends

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Who's Invited to the Dance?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reactions to Lambeth invites: a round-up

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

Responses by individuals:
Robinson's statement:

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

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


Akinola's statement, via TitusOneNine
:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scott Gunn offers this in a release from InclusiveChurch UK:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overnight reactions to Lambeth invitations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Anglican Communion Institute issued a response that notes:

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

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

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

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

NY Deputation on the Draft Covenant

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

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

Bishop Marc: "The Most Noxious Point"

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

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

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

Cavalcanti not invited to Lambeth either

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full article is below:

Read more »

The coming global schism?

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

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

Here's just a bit of the initial statement:

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

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

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

Read the rest here.

AMiA Comments on Lambeth Invitations

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

They say in part:

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

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

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

Read the full statement here.

A different kind of Lambeth

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

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

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

Read it all.

Nigerian activist begins U. S. tour

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

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

Read it all.

Circling the Wagons or Deepening the Pool?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest, including the numerous comments.

A receding tide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the whole post here.


Orombi Stands by Road to Lambeth

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

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

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

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

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

The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi
ARCHBISHOP OF CHURCH OF UGANDA

[source]

Emphasis added.

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

Episcopal Life provides context.

Global Center: Celebrate Anglican Diversity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all at Kantinho Do Rev.

The Now and Future Anglican Communion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plurality and Diversity Rich Source for Growth

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

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

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

"By this all men would now that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35

We the Anglican Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, who sign below, gathered in San Jose, Costa Rica from the 18 to 22 of May 2007, renew and ratify our position proposed in Panama, better known as the Global Center, in which we call the Communion to preserve its participative nature, diverse, ample and inclusive, characteristics which we consider essential to Anglicanism and at the same time our contribution to the Christian tradition.

Since our last meeting, our concern has grown because of the polarization regarding the biblical and theological positions manifested in the Anglican Communion, during the last years; positions known as Global North and Global South, non reconcilable in their character and putting the unity in the Communion at risk.

In the midst of this painful controversy, we do not identify with either side, because they don't fully represent the spirit of our thoughts.

It has been proven in our relations that we greatly represent the plurality and diversity that are universal characteristics of Anglicanism and that we hold different positions on the themes that are presently discussed in the Communion. However, we have also experienced that the plurality and diversity we represent has become a rich source for growth, rather than a cause for controversy and division.

We unanimously express our determination to remain united as members of the same family and will continue to come to the Lord's Table, together.

We invite our brothers and sisters in the episcopate, as well as all the members of the Clergy and laity who identify with this vision, to join together and work for an effective reconciliation, interdependence and unity in the diversity of our family of faith and so preserve the valuable legacy of which we are guardians.

As disciples of Jesus, called to live out the mandate of love (St. John 15:17), we declare our commitment to be together and with all our strength, struggle for unity, as an act of obedience to His will expressed in the Holy Scriptures. Trusting that the Holy Spirit, whose descent we are about to celebrate on the Feast of Pentecost, will guide and strengthen us on such a difficult journey.

The experience of these few days confirms our conviction that, we will make it with God's blessings. Of this, we are sure and now we return to our dioceses comforted and full of joy and hope.

San José-Costa Rica, May 2007.

The Rt. Rev. Mauricio Andrade
Diócesis de Brasilia, Brasil
Primate

The Rt. Rev. Carlos Touché Porter
Diócesis de Mexico
Primate

The Rt. Rev. Martin Barahona
Diócesis de El Salvador
Primate

The Rt. Rev. Lloyd Allen
Diócesis de Honduras
Province IX President TEC

The Rt. Rev. Jubal Neves
Diócesis South Ocidental, Brasil

The Rt. Rev. Naudal Gomez
Diócesis de Curitiva, Brasil

The Rt. Rev. Sebastiao Gamaleira
Diócesis de Recife, Brasil

The Rt. Rev. Filadelfo Oliveira
Diócesis de Recife, Brasil

The Rt. Rev. Orlando Santos de Oliveira
Diócesis Meridional, Brasil

The Rt. Rev. Armando Guerra Soria
Diócesis de Guatemala

The Rt. Rev. Julio E. Murray
Diócesis de Panamá

The Rt. Rev. Héctor Monterroso
Diócesis de Costa Rica

The Rt. Rev. Lino Rodríguez
Diócesis del Occidente de México

The Rt. Rev. Benito Juárez
Diócesis del Sureste de México

The Rt. Rev. Francisco Duque
Diócesis de Colombia

The Rt. Rev. Alfredo Morante
Diócesis de litoral, Ecuador

The Rt. Rev. Orlando Guerrero
Diócesis de Venezuela

The Rt. Rev. Miguel Tamayo
Diócesis de Uruguay y Diócesis de Cuba

The Rt. Rev. Wilfredo Ramos
Diócesis de Ecuador Central

The Rt. Rev. Julio Cesar Olguín
Diócesis de República Dominica

The Rt. Rev. José Antonio Ramos
Retired Bishop

Episcopal Life Online story here.

+Beckwith and others watching for further developments

Bishop Mark Beckwith has releasd the following letter to the Diocese of Newark where he is the diocesan bishop:
For the past two weeks, I have been in regular phone and email conversation with several members of the House of Bishops. We began talking and writing because of our concern that the Archbishop of Canterbury has announced that our colleague and friend, the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, will not be receiving an invitation to the Lambeth 2008 Conference, which gathers together all the bishops of the Anglican Communion every ten years. We drafted a letter expressing our disappointment and concern. In that letter we also articulated our hope – that this season of confusion and distress, which has ‘threatened the bonds of affection’ in the Anglican Communion, might be resolved through thoughtful conversation and mutual respect. In a conference call this afternoon, we decided not to send out our letter. As Gene Robinson has told us, there is a lot of diplomacy going on between the Archbishop’s office and the American Church, which may – or may not, create a different ecclesiastical climate and result in invitations to all bishops in good standing in the Church (which certainly includes Bishop Robinson, who was duly elected, consented and consecrated as a bishop in the Episcopal church). We also acknowledged to one another that there is great confusion in the wider church about our polity. Unlike most of the rest of the Anglican Communion, which appoints their bishops – we elect ours.  So we decided not to send out our letter – yet.  Ours was a decision of strategy. We want to wait a bit to see if the diplomacy will lead to a different, and more satisfying resolution. But as we debated issues of strategy, I could feel my commitment to radical hospitality deepen, and I could hear it in my colleagues. Jesus had a passion for radical welcome – and a disdain for those who were unwilling, or unable, to embrace it. Jesus’ invitation extends down through the centuries to include the rest of us. All of us. Welcome should beget welcome. We shouldn’t settle for anything less."
From here.

Church-wide discernment before September 30th

Episcopal News Service reports that the HoB Theology Committee has put together a process to information and response from the whole of the Episcopal Church prior to their September meeting:

"The Theology Committee of the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops on June 1 released a study document aimed at helping the bishops respond to the requests made to them by the Primates of the Anglican Communion.

...Theology Committee chair and Alabama Bishop Henry Parsley told Episcopal News Service that the report is meant for bishops to use in conversation with the people of their dioceses in the three and a half months between now and the mid-September meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans. Rather than call for responses from individual Episcopalians, Parsley said the committee will in late August and early September gather input from bishops on the result of their conversations in their dioceses.

He said the committee hopes that Episcopalians will 'read, mark, inwardly digest and then come talk' about the document with their bishop.

'Every diocese will have to do that in their own way,' he said. 'We didn't want it to be an individual thing. We wanted it to be a diocesan, corporate process overseen by the bishop.'"

This process seems to be in addition to the responses being collected by the Episcopal Church Executive Council which are due by June 4th.

Read the rest here, along with links to the documents: Episcopal Life Online - NEWS

Future Speculations about the Communion

Fr. Greg Jones, one of the contributors here at Episcopal Cafe and the keeper of the Anglican Centrist blog, has written up an analysis of an interview given by Bishop John Rogers to David Virtue.

Bishop Rogers is a bishop of the Anglican Church of Rwanda AMiA initiative and once served as the Dean of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge PA, and who has returned as interim-dean following the departure of Dean Paul Zahl.

Fr Jones' comments on the interview include this bit of analysis of Bishop Rogers' points:
"Rogers predicts that 'a major division of the Anglican Communion is more likely' than the Episcopal Church being 'disciplined' or expelled from the Communion. He believes the shape of the schism will mean that evangelical Anglicans in Africa and the West will go their own way, while other provinces remain in communion with the Episcopal Church and England.

Moreover, he believes that the departure of the evangelical coalition will mean that the Episcopal Church will in fact maintain its position and standing within the Communion. Finally, he predicts that those who wish to separate from the Episcopal Church will have to forfeit the properties they are trying to purloin from the Episcopal Church. (Notably, the Anglican Mission in America has lost its flagship court case on this issue.)"
Read the rest here.

Women to be ordained priests in Wangaratta

The Australian Diocese of Wangaratta has voted to permit the ordination and licensing of women clergy, according to Georger Conger writing in the Church of England Newspaper

By a vote of 43-9 in the lay order and 15-9 in the clergy order the Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta, which extends from Melbourne’s northern suburbs to the New South Wales border, on May 25 adopted the Anglican Church of Australia General Synod “Clarification Canon” which permits women clergy.

Only four of Australia’s 23 dioceses do not ordain women to the priesthood: the Anglo-Catholic leaning dioceses of The Murray and Ballarat, and the Evangelical leaning dioceses of Sydney and Northwest Australia.

Synod also adopted a private members bill, repealing legislation adopted in 2004 that would have provided alternative Episcopal pastoral oversight to clergy and congregations unable to accept women’s orders.

The synod votes will not have legal effect until Wangaratta Bishop David Farrer gives his assent. The Diocesan Registrar, the Rev. John Pryor told the diocesan newspaper, The Advocate, it was likely the bishop would give his assent once adequate provision had been made for those opposed to the ordination of women.

Read it all HERE

Primus of Scottish Episcopal Church Patron of Inclusive Church

Inclusive Church is delighted to announce that the Most Revd Dr Idris Jones, Bishop of Glasgow & Galloway, has agreed to join the Archbishop of Mexico as a Patron of Inclusive Church. Bishop Idris is Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and a Primate of the Anglican Communion.

The Archbishop states, "It is a privilege to be associated with Inclusive Church. The Anglican Communion is seeking how it may develop and deepen its life today - what better way could there be than working to keep our church as welcoming and encouraging to everyone who wants to follow Jesus so that everyone of us can be challenged by God's love."

More news and events for Inclusive Church HERE

TIME profiles Rowan Williams on eve of his US sabbatical

TIME magazine's David Van Biema and Catharine Mayer have written a cover story on the time%2520cover.jpgArchbishop of Canterbury. It appears in this week's European and South Pacific editions. The article will likely become the one piece that readers new to the turmoil in the Angican Communion will want to read for a quick, but fairly comprehensive grasp on the situation. It is followed by an in-depth interview (that will probably be of more interest to Communion watchers) in which Williams spells out his reasons for inviting neither Bishops Gene Robinson nor Martyn Minns to the Lambeth Conference.

A few excerpts and quotes worth perusing before you click "Read more" to see the whole thing:

On Peter Akinola:

The Archbishop is weary of being pushed around. The pusher-in-chief, of course, especially since the founding of CANA, has been Akinola. ‘I’ve said to him privately and publicly I don’t think that [CANA] was an appropriate response,’ says Williams. He is also bothered by the unwavering support by Akinola’s church of a proposed Nigerian law, now lapsed, that would have assigned a five-year jail term not only to open homosexuals, but to those who supported them. Williams says he is ‘very unhappy’ about the situation, ‘and I’ve written to the Archbishop about it."

On Gene Robinson:

"Regarding Robinson, one thing I’ve tried to make clear is that my worry about his election was that the Episcopal Church hadn’t made a general principled decision about the blessing of same-sex unions or the ordination of people in public same-sex partnerships. I would think it better had the church actually taken a view on that before moving to the individual case. As it is, someone living in a relationship not theologically officially approved by the church is elected to a bishop — I find that bizarre and puzzling."

On the Episcopal Church's response to the Primates' communique from Dar es Salaam:

TIME: The Anglican primates met in Dar es Salaam in February and made three key recommendations to the American bishops: that they stop ordaining gay bishops and blessing gay unions and that they create a special bishop to serve the needs of conservatives. What happens if they refuse?

Williams: An absolute blanket no to all of this would pose a real problem. We’ve had indications of a cautious yes to part of it.


Read more »

An exception

Get Religion is a Web site devoted to analyzing the media's coverage of religion. It is bankrolled by Howard Ahmanson, who also bankrolls the Institute on Religion and Democracy, American Anglican Counci, and a variety of other outfits whose aims include having creationism taught in schools, obscuring the link between human activity and global warming and undermining mainline Protestants' ability to govern their denominations.

All that said, GR is now, once again, home to the astute and fair minded Doug LeBlanc. His analysis of the recent TIME magazine story on Rowan Williams, and of Williams' cagey deployment of invitations to the Lambeth Conference are well worth reading.

What he said

Tobias Haller has a gift for clarifying muddled stituations from a theological as well as a political perspective. His recent reflection on the current state of Anglican Communion and the invitations to the Lambeth Conference is only the most recent example.

Trouble in Nigeria

The Nigerian Sunday Sun is reporting,

"The love of money is the root of all evil, so says the Holy book. Love of power, it appears, is today threatening the brotherhood of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) following alleged attempts by the out-going National President, Right Reverend Peter Jasper Akinola, to "manipulate the electoral process".

Sunday Sun. findings at the weekend revealed that the association is now split into two over attempts by the out-going National President, to retain his seat even after reportedly losing in a shadow election to the Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Dr. John Onaiyekan."

Read the rest here.

Fortyeight Nobel Prize winners have called for new elections in Nigeria. The Anglican Church of Nigeria has been more cautious. George Conger has that story.

Cuba's First Woman Bishop

The Rt. Rev. Nerva Cot was consecrated Bishop yesterday at Havana's Episcopal Cathedral of the Holy Trinity by the Most Rev. Andrew Hutchinson, Archbishop of Canada. She will serve as Suffragan Bishop for the western part of Cuba along with The Rt. Rev. Ulises Aguero who will serve in the eastern half of the island nation.
Reuters reports:

The Episcopal Church broke new ground in Cuba yesterday by ordaining its first female bishop in the developing world at a ceremony that mixed incense with Caribbean music.

Rev. Nerva Cot said she will bring a feminine touch to leadership of her church's small but growing congregation in communist Cuba, where religious worship was freed a decade ago.

A dozen bishops from North, Central and South America and Europe attended the consecration of Cot and Ulises Aguero as suffragan, or auxiliary, bishops at Havana's Episcopal Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. The Cuban church is part of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

"This is an important date for the Anglican Communion because there are so few women bishops among us, only 11," said Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, primate of Canada, who headed the ceremony.

"There is a vitality and a deep enthusiasm in Cuba that is an important gift to a church that has too often been very conservative," Hutchison told reporters.

Christian Cubans are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, and the Episcopal Church has only 5,000 baptized followers.

Cot, who favors allowing gays to become priests, said she hopes her role will encourage other Latin American countries to broaden diversity in the Episcopal Church.


Links to the story are here and here.

Here is a background story written after Cot's appointment.

Members of a Cuban diocesan synod burst into applause and shouts of joy on Sunday when Archbishop Andrew Hutchison of the Anglican Church of Canada announced the appointment of Rev. Canon Nerva Cot Aguilera as one of two new suffragan bishops for the Cuban Anglican Church.

She is the wife of Juan Ramon de la Paz Cerezo, dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Havana.

And in a particularly sweet moment, the announcement of her appointment followed a Eucharist during which their daughter, Marianela de la Paz Cot, was ordained priest.

Cubans also enthusiastically welcomed the appointment of Archdeacon Ulises Mario Aguero Prendes as the second new suffragan bishop.

The suffragan bishops were appointed by the Metropolitan Council of Cuba which Hutchison chairs, at the request of Bishop Miguel Tamayo, the diocesan bishop. The Council, at this meeting, was made up of Hutchison and U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori who was also present for the announcement. The third member of the Metropolitan Council, Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies, did not attend the meeting for health reasons.

Cuba was once a diocese of the Episcopal Church but is now under the care of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Mac-Iyalla speaks to Executive Council

Nigerian Anglican Davis Mac-Iyalla, founder of his country's only gay-rights organization, Changing Attitude Nigeria, spoke with the Executive Council's International Concerns (INC) and National Concerns (NAC) committees during the first day of the Council's June meeting in Parsippany, New Jersey. The Executive Council is the Episcopal Church's governing body between General Conventions, and began its four-day meeting

Mary Frances Schjonberg wrote the following for an ENS story:

Mac-Iyalla told the joint INC_NAC that Anglican Church of Nigeria Archbishop and Primate Peter Akinola has been directly involved in Mac-Iyalla called a "deadly bill" pending before the Nigerian legislature that would make homosexuality punishable by five years in prison and would criminalize any association with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The bill, he said, "would make us outcasts in our own country."

Mac-Iyalla said Akinola has gone to legislators and government leaders, including Anglicans, and pressured them to write the bill as a way to prevent his organization from gaining any more strength. Changing Attitudes Nigeria has about 2,500 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members, according to Mac-Iyalla. He also suggested that Akinola worked for the bill so that the Listening Process called for by the Windsor Report would be stymied by the government's laws.

It is a lie, he said, for Akinola and others to claim that there are no homosexual people in Nigeria, explaining that many languages spoken in Nigeria had words to describe people in same-gender relationships long before white missionaries came to Africa. Such terms, he said, indicate that Africans have always acknowledged people who are attracted to members of their gender.

"It is wrong to say that homosexuality is a Western, imported culture," Mac-Iyalla said.

Saying that most Nigerians are more worried about eating than they are about homosexuality, Mac-Iyalla said, "the Anglican Church is the only church in Nigeria that has gay-lesbian issues on its agenda."

He asked the Episcopal Church to petition the Nigerian government to oppose the bill and to consult with the Archbishop of Canterbury about speaking against the bill. He also described his group's desire to hold a large meeting of GLBT people in Nigeria after Easter 2008 so that international pressure can be brought to bear on the Nigerian government.

"Our hope is in the Episcopal Church," said Mac-Iyalla, who also described a series of death threats that forced him to flee Nigeria. "If you don't speak out for us, we don't know where we will take our voice."

The Episcopal News Service summary of the first days work is found here.

Breakaway? (updated)

Updated

The Telegraph is reporting:

A powerful coalition of conservative Anglican leaders is preparing to create a parallel Church for conservatives in America in defiance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, provoking the biggest split in Anglican history, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
...
According to sources, at least six primates are planning the consecration of a prominent American cleric as a bishop to minister to Americans who have rejected their liberal bishops over the issue of homosexuality.

The article is written by the usually reliable Jonathan Petre.

More:

The initiative is understood to have been co-ordinated by senior African archbishops, including the Primate of Kenya, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi, who represent the core of the so-called Global South group of conservative primates.

But the group has a wider base and is also thought to include several relatively moderate primates from outside Africa
...
The new conservative organisation in America will create ripples in the Church of England, which has been increasingly torn over the issue of homosexuality. It is certain to surface at next month's meeting of the General Synod in York.


Read it all here.

We recall that only last week The Telegraph got it wrong.

ADDED, 6AM, 13 June. George Conger, writing in The Living Church:

The impetus for a Kenyan bishop to the U.S. came at a Jan. 13-14 meeting in Memphis, Tenn., between Archbishop Nzimbi and the clergy and lay leaders of 17 American AKC congregations. The congregations petitioned Archbishop Nzimbi to create a missionary diocese for the 25 U.S.-based congregations of Kenyan expatriates and American traditionalists under his care.
...
The consecration of Canon Atwood, a former Episcopalian and general secretary of The Ekklesia Society, will mark the third time an African Anglican province has created a missionary jurisdiction in the United States. The Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) operates under the aegis of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda, while the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) is overseen by the Church of Nigeria. Several other overseas provinces, including Central Africa and the Southern Cone, also exercise jurisdiction over U.S.-based parishes.
...
The Aug. 30 consecration of Canon Atwood as “Suffragan Bishop of All Saints' Cathedral Diocese, Nairobi” is “part of a broader and coordinated plan with other provinces,” Archbishop Nzimbi said on June 12, to “support the international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya, including support of Kenyan clergy and congregations in North America.”
Emphasis added. What do we have here? Coalescence or further fragmentation? Conger's piece sounds like more of the same (CANA, AMiA, now this), no more a "parallel church in America for conservatives" than there already is.

Where's the Bread?

Mark Harris at PRELUDIUM wonders in his usual thoughtful way about the alphabet soup of Anglicans and what will happen?

Remember that the long term strategy of the realignment community is a "broader and coordinated plan with other provinces to provide unity and pastoral care for those who have left or been forced out of The Episcopal Church." That has included for several years an "internal" to TEC effort to gather like- minded individuals, parishes and bishops to work for realignment and cooperation with "external" efforts to supplant TEC with an "orthodox" Anglican entity. This latter approach has in the recent past been primarily the effort of the Global South Steering Committee, Archbishop Akinola in the fore, and the efforts of some few Anglican Provinces to jump in to "save" those who have "left or been forced out" of TEC.

What looks like a hodge-podge of realignment efforts seemingly uncoordinated and perhaps at odds with one another is being touted as a plan. There is apparent joy in Mudville with this new effort from the Global South. Bishop Duncan is happy, BabyBlue is happy, Bishop Minns' boss is happy, Bishop Minns is happy. Nothing has been heard from AMiA yet.

The line up is happening, and come September 26th, the day after the Bishops' fall meeting, the ACN Moderator has called a meeting to establish a "college of bishops" of all those groups in the Common Cause Network and related international partners. I gather from all the happiness that by then Bishop Atwood will be present as well.

A "College of Bishops" sure sounds like the beginnings of a new synodical gathering. The line-up is getting in place. And, if they all march off in the same direction without tripping over one another's copes or banging into one another's miters they just might find themselves on the way to an alternative Province in America, suitable for inclusion in a New Anglican Communion (NAC).

Mark concludes:

Meanwhile, plodding along, real ministry is being done by people in alphabet-soup-land, in The Episcopal Church, in mission organizations that can't talk to one another, in churches that do or do not take money from the unclean, in churches in full communion and in no communion, in relief agencies across the Anglican spectrum in the Americas. Some dioceses and people in the Global South have taken to talking about ministry in spite of the unpleasantness and continuing on in ministry to those most in need.

The bread of life is getting out there in lots of different ways. The Holy Spirit is not mocked, but followed – down long paths that lead to the healing of nations and people. I believe the Holy Spirit does not actually care very much about charges and countercharges, or new bishops for strange postings, but is rather interested in getting the bread out into the world.

Years ago the chant was, "God is not dead, God is bread, and the bread is rising." The new incursion of Bill Atwood on the American scene is irrelevant, as is that of Bishop Minns, the AMiA bishops or the gang from the Southern Cone, and for that matter as are most of our pretensions to Christian engagement through better church life. They, the individuals in this strange ecclesial world, are entirely relevant as persons and people of God, just as are we all. The question is, are we willing to be in the business of feeding the spiritually and physically starving of the world or are we bound to the sniveling of our own flocks? Marching off with this or that leader is not feeding, it is following.

Maybe we would do better to feed our enemies and our friends both. Then maybe what rises is new life.


Read it all HERE.

Retired Canadian Archbishops Call for Same Sex Blessings

News from the Anglican Province of Canada today:

"As Canada's Anglican Church prepares for its historic – and possibly schismatic – decision on blessing homosexual unions, six of its most senior clerics Thursday called for a yes vote that would show ‘justice, compassion and hope for all God's people.’

The declaration from the half-dozen retired archbishops from across the country reveals a sharp division in the church's hierarchy.

While the archbishops said that blessing the unions of same-sex couples does not touch on the church's ‘core doctrine,’ last month the national House of Bishops issued a pastoral statement saying that the ‘doctrine and discipline of our church does not clearly permit [same-sex blessings].’"

Read the rest here: Bless same-sex unions, retired archbishops urge

The complete statement from the General Synod site is HERE

Anglicans Realigning: The State of Play

First the Primates of Rwanda and Southeast Asia installed an American bishop, then the Primate of Nigeria followed suit, and now the Primate of Keyna has as well. Reportedly, Archbishop Orombi of Uganda is also considering appointing an American bishop and setting up a missionary church in the United States.

What does this all mean? Is it part of a larger plan by the Global South Primates? Or is it instead a sign of a splintered conservative opposition to the Episcopal Church? All is still quite unclear, but this morning, the Washington Post has a useful analysis of the current state of play:

The Anglican archbishop of Rwanda was first, then his counterpart in Nigeria. Now Kenya's Anglican archbishop is taking a group of U.S. churches under his authority, and Uganda's archbishop may be next.

African and, to a lesser extent, Southeast Asian and Latin American prelates are racing to appoint American bishops and to assume jurisdiction over congregations that are leaving the Episcopal Church, particularly since its consecration of a gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003.

So far, the heads, or primates, of Anglican provinces overseas have taken under their wings 200 to 250 of the more than 7,000 congregations in the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of Anglicanism. Among their gains are some large and wealthy congregations -- including several in Northern Virginia -- that bring international prestige and a steady stream of donations.

The foreign influx is a consequence of the rift in the 2.3 million-member U.S. church, and explanations of what it's really all about depend on what side of that divide you're on, said the Rev. Ian T. Douglas, a professor of world mission and global Christianity at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass.

"It can either be read as the next step in a grand plan to replace the Episcopal Church, or it can be read as a splintering of the conservatives and a competition for who is going to be the real leader of disaffected U.S. congregations," he said.

Bishop Martyn Minns, former rector of Truro Church in Fairfax City, who left the Episcopal Church and was installed last month as a Nigerian bishop, denied that the African prelates are competing for leadership, prestige or donations. He said they are working together to help Americans who want to remain faithful to the church's traditional teachings.

"There's lots of work for all of us," he said. "This is not just one province sticking its nose in. It's the Global South collectively saying 'We've got to do something' because of the crisis in the U.S. church."

But a spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, James Naughton, said the proliferation of "offshore" churches "makes it clear how difficult it is going to be for the conservatives to unite, because each of these primates wants a piece of the action, and none is willing to subjugate himself to another."

. . .

At the same time, the foreign archbishops and their newly minted American bishops are courting the wrath of the archbishop of Canterbury. The leader of the Anglican Communion, the 75 million-member family of churches descended from the Church of England, registered his disapproval of Minns's installation last month by announcing that he will not invite the CANA leader to a global meeting of all Anglican bishops next year.

Minns said he was "not surprised." He said a steady erosion of traditional Christian teachings in the United States and Europe, combined with the explosive growth of former missionary churches in developing countries, has flipped the historic pattern of missionary activity.

"And frankly," he said, "the old institutional structures are having trouble coming to grips with those realities."


Read it all. And be sure to read W. Nicolas Knisely's analysis as well.

Canadian Anglican Church Considers Same Sex Blessings

Tomorrow, the Canadian Anglican Church begins its General Synod in Winnipeg. While the General Synod will elect a new Archbishop, this decision has been overshadowed by the debate over a far more controversial decision: whether to allow same-sex marriage blessings. And whatever decision is made on this issue in Winnipeg will undoubtedly affect the same debate in the larger Anglican Communion.

The seven-day synod will be chaired by Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, the current Primate, who has announced his retirement, effective June 22. Clergy and lay delegates will elect a new Primate. By Canadian church practice, the Bishops will not participate in the actual election. Nominees include Bruce Howe of Huron, Fred Hiltz of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, George Bruce of Ontario and Victoria Matthews of Edmonton. The new Primate will be installed on Monday, June 25.

The issue of same sex blessings has long divided the Canadian Church. The issue was raised at the last General Synod three years ago, but tabled until this Convention. Last Thursday, several retired Canadian archbishops urged the Church to approve the blessings. Previously, on Good Friday, a group of conservative theologians issued a letter urging that the Church not accept same sex blessings.


The Toronto Star has a good preview of the upcoming Synod:

The blogs have started and the 24-hour prayer vigil is accepting emails as the Anglican world turns its eyes to Winnipeg.

Canada's Anglicans gather this week in Manitoba to pick a new leader and decide whether to allow same-sex marriage blessings. But that narrow debate only touches what is truly at stake. For all those involved, on either side of the issue, what is really at issue is the definition of Anglicanism itself – and the possibility of schism.

. . .

"Even if there was a way to solve the same-sex issue satisfactorily to all parties tomorrow, we would still have a major problem on our hands," says Newfoundland Bishop Don Harvey, spiritual head of the conservative Canadian group Anglican Essentials. "It's so much deeper than that."

. . .

Delegates to the synod will vote on a series of resolutions, largely held over since their last meeting three years ago, allowing local churches to decide for themselves whether to bless same-sex marriages.

Harvey's group has set up a blog, www.anglicanessentials.ca/wordpress/, to strengthen the resolve of those opposed to allowing same-sex blessings. Debate of the issue is not tolerated on the forum, according to posted rules.

At http://prayerroom.7.forumer.com, supporters can send requests to volunteers who have promised to pray 24 hours a day through the synod that voting on the issue goes their way.

. . .

In Winnipeg, Harvey and his group will be pushing the church to not only vote against the local option on same-sex blessings, but reject a recent bishops' statement allowing priests to say the Eucharist with a newly married gay couple.

Hutchison says the statement, issued in April, would stand as church policy if formal blessings are rejected in Winnipeg. For supporters of blessings, it doesn't go far enough. But for Harvey, it goes too far, and could lead to his group splitting with the church.

If that happens, he would be following a path already travelled by conservative Anglicans in the United States, who have split with their church. For Harvey, the church has already become too liberal. "This is the church I was born into," Harvey says.

"This is the church I love. I hope it will be the church I die in."

Having led his church through three of its most difficult years, Hutchison enters his last week in office still hoping for a solution. But despite all the debate and having visited every diocese in the country, he remains at a loss to say what might heal the troubled church.

In the end, all he has is his faith that the Anglican conversation he cherishes won't end in Winnipeg.

"No matter what happens at the General Synod or in the Anglican Communion, the centre will hold," he says. "I really believe the centre will hold."

All documents available to General Synod delegates, including the General Synod Agenda (called the Convening Circular) are available online here.

Globalization: Challenge and Gift

Frederick Quinn, an Episcopal priest and retired diplomat who has worked in Africa, Asia, Central Europe, and the Caribbean writes about Globalization and the future of the Anglican Communion in Episcopal Life Online. He notes that globalization has been "an active historical forces at least since the 15th century" and offers some thoughts on the challenges and gifts of today.


New times demand new approaches. Global Anglicans can profit from the example of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference (FABC), who after several decades of deliberation, produced a carefully honed concept of dialogue that includes four aspects:

1. The dialogue of life, where people strive to live in an open and neighborly spirit, sharing joys and sorrows, daily problems and preoccupations.
2. The dialogue of action, where Christians and others collaborate for the integral development, justice at a local level, and the liberation of people.
3. The dialogue of theological exchange, where specialists seek to deepen their understanding of their respective religious heritages, and to appreciate each other's spiritual values.
4. The dialogue of religious experience, where persons, rooted in their own religious traditions, share their spiritual riches with regard to prayer and contemplation, faith, and ways of searching for God or the Absolute. (Professor Peter Phan of Georgetown University has elaborated on these aspects of dialogue in numerous publications and has provided me with this model.)

For Anglicans, our present lumpy controversies can represent a positive teaching moment. We have an opportunity to share God's love with one another thanks to the Internet and through old and new informal global networks of individual, parish, and diocesan contacts. Such encounters of personally sharing, grace-filled experiences are life giving. Time spent in a Haitian village's medical clinic, supporting an Argentine bishop's work with land-deprived peasants, or helping a Myanmar diocese build an English teaching program, provide concrete examples of God's love through witness and mission around the Anglican Communion. Through them the wider forces of globalization are transformed into moments of grace.

One way of broadening such a wider dialogue on religious globalization is to focus on a few central questions such as:

How do we understand the Reign of God in its contemporary setting. Is it an expansive or a restrictive concept?
How does it relate to the national settings in which contemporary Christians find themselves?
How do the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) relate to our understanding of New Testament mission?
How best can we listen carefully to one another, walk together rather than talk at each other, and live together compassionately, despite seemingly harsh differences


Read it all here

Canadian General Synod: On Demand

Anglicans from across Canada and around the world can watch General Synod 2007 live by web stream.

For coverage and analysis, viewers can check out Synod on Demand

Synod On Demand will feature interviews,synod highlights, and commentary.

For more about the Canadian General Synod 2007, links and resolutions click here

Canadian GS Roundup, Day 1

The Winnipeg Free Press provides this helpful overview of the schedule for the Anglican Canadian General Synod:

Convention at a glance

Wednesday, June 20: Canada's place in the Anglican union will be discussed by John Sentamu the Archbishop of York, England. If Canada's Anglicans vote to bless same sex marriages, they may be cast out by the global communion.

Thursday, June 21: The Lutheran church is also meeting this week in Winnipeg, and both groups will participate in a joint session. They will celebrate six years of communion - an agreement that allows Lutheran pastors to serve in Anglican parishes and vice versa.

Friday, June 22: Elections will be held to choose the new head bishop of the Anglican church.

Saturday, June 23: Same sex marriage blessing will debated by Anglicans and Lutherans.

Sunday, June 24: Anglicans continue same sex marriage debate.

Monday, June 25: Evening festivities include installation of new head bishop and a street party.

The Free Press article is a good review of the issues, the history, and what's at stake. Read it in full.

Other items:

- The Primatial Address:

Certainly one of the most difficult items for our discernment will be the question of how to proceed on the issue of same-gender relationships. Related to it are other questions. One is the deeper question of how Anglicans receive and understand Scriptures in the light of modern scholarship and contemporary experience.

- Kendall Harmon points to two opposing papers on the blessing of same sex unions in the Anglican Church of Canada, Making the Case by John Thorp (pdf) and Case Not Made by Robert Gagnon (pdf).

- Synod on Demand for the latest webcast featuring interviews, synod highlights, and commentary by Tim Morgan and others.

- The Anglican Journal Daily can be found in the right column of its homepage for the duration of GS.

Gracious Magnanimity

Archbishop of York John Sentamu addressed the Canadian General Synod with words about grace and law. In his comments on gracious magnanimity the Archbishop said:

... the basis and the fundamental thing about gracious-magnanimity (epieikeia) is that it goes back to God. If God stood on his rights, if God applied to us nothing but the rigid standards of law, where would we be? God is the supreme example of the one who is graciously-magnanimous (epieikes) and who deals with others with gracious-magnanimity (epieikeia). Again and again we have seen congregations torn by strife and reduced to tragic unhappiness because men and women and committees and courts stood on the letter of the law. When a congregation's governing body meets with a copy of its Church's book of law prominently displayed on the Chair's table, trouble is never far away. A new world would arise in Society and in the Church if all of us ceased to base our actions purely on law and legal rights and prayed to God to give us gracious-magnanimity. (epieikeiea).
He continues:
...Jesus was telling his disciples that if you want to meet God face to face, the nearest you are going to come to it on this planet is to look into the faces of your brothers and sisters - and especially your sisters and brothers who have been declared unrighteous, unclean, unacceptable.

It isn't that we find God there, it's that God finds us there.

He concludes:

Proper penitence and a readiness to go willingly, and perhaps be lifted up, to suffer whatever sacrifices may be necessary for the visible unity of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

For this to happen we must die in order to bear fruit and be messengers of God's redeeming love. We are called to die to the values of the world -- greed for wealth, status and power; as well as our psychological tendencies: our desires and compulsions for success, to be loved, to be held in esteem, to be acclaimed by those in our group, to have, power and control over others. .It's a call to disarm ourselves, to die to our plans and let God's plans and ways take hold of us.

I have come to believe that when I shall come face to face with the Wounded Healer who bears the marks of love, he will ask me, "Sentamu, where are your tears for me to wipe away? Where are your wounds of love received through loving and laying down your life for me and my brothers and sisters?"

It's from the Cross that the life of God's love shines forth upon the world in its fullest splendour. And, as David Bosch has said (in Transforming Mission), "The Church is an inseparable union of the divine and the dusty."

The question continues, however, who is going to the cross and will it be through choice or compulsion? The archbishop has evoked distress among the readers of the more conservative blogs and puzzlement in others.

Read the whole speech here.

For more reflection on the meaning of Sentamu's words click here.

No exit

"Even if the Anglican Church of Canada votes on Saturday to approve same-sex blessings, the spokesman for the world's top Anglican says the Canadian denomination will not be kicked out of the global Anglican communion," writes the Vancouver Sun.

"No scenario could emerge" from this week's Anglican General Synod that would lead to the Archbishop of Canterbury expelling the Canadian church from the 76-million-member global Anglican denomination, says Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion.

Read it all, but be patient if you encounter a balky page that requires some scrolling.

The Canadian Anglican Journal reports Kearon and Archbishop of York John Sentamu, "urged delegates of General Synod to adopt a positive approach to human sexuality...."

Two voices: Minns and Schori featured on Interfaith Radio

Maureen Fiedler looks at both sides of the "contentious issues involved in the struggle within the Episcopal Church" in the latest episode of Interfaith Voices, an independent public radio program which ran this week. The episode is available from the Interfaith Voices website as a streaming audio file or a podcast (see link below).

In the first segment, Fiedler interviews Bishop Martin Minns, challenging him on key issues such as how we come to a different understanding of scripture over time. Noting that the Archbishop of Canterbury is "not the pope," he declares that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is outside the mainstream of the Anglican Communion while the Global South represents more than a quarter of it.

"Most people that have left because we haven't moved fast enough," he says. "They've gone to evangelical churches, charismatic churches, the Catholic church." And along that line of thinking, he sees Evangelical, Pentecostal and Catholic as being the three legs of the the CANA initiative's stool, so to speak.

An interesting exchange from about 16 minutes in:
Fielder: As we both know, teachings do change. The classic one is that preachers once used theology ... to justify slavery and racism, but that isn't true anymore. Isn't it possible to develop theologically on issues dealing with women or gays and lesbians?
Minns: ...It's clear that the Scripture taught, indeed, that slavery is not right. "In Christ there is no slave or free."
Fielder: Yet Paul said, "Slaves, be subject to your masters." That was pretty clear too, wasn't it?
Minns: Yes, but that was always to be done in terms of not challenging that particular culture of that time ..., and always understanding it to be simply transitional time.
Fielder: But we both know that there were plenty of preachers here in our own South who used that phrase to defend the culture of slavery.
Minns: Oh, I agree. Culture does, sometimes, pollute the way we read scripture. That's absolutely clear.
Fielder: Isn't it possible that culture may be polluting it in this case?
Minns: I think it is. It's the culture of the whole sexual agenda; it is indeed making us see scripture the wrong way.

In the second segment, Fiedler interviews Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who notes that our history of colonialism is colliding with "a colonialism that is turning against the United States," while noting that the Episcopal Church has 10 overseas dioceses as well. But the problems are complex, she also said while discussing the recent meeting in Tanzania. "There is a diversity of opinion in every part of the Anglican communion ... In that gathering of 34, 35 bishops, leaders of their provinces, there are certainly a handful who are exceedingly unhappy with the actions of the Episcopal Church. There are a much larger number who are incredibly annoyed that we are spending so much time and energy on this when people in their own provinces are dying of hunger or lack of medication and medical care."

You can listen to the program here.

Synod panels discuss various responses to Windsor Report

At the Canadian General Synod yesterday, three people came together to talk about their respective nation's response to the Windsor Report in large-group breakout sessions, called "conversations," at the synod, according to Episcopal Life Online. The report focuses on House of Deputies president Bonnie Anderson, who summarized the response and the resolutions of the 2006 General Convention of the Episcopal Church. She was joined by the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, who spoke about the Church of England's response, and Dr. Patricia Bays, who explained the Anglican Church of Canada's proposed response.

Read the story here.

A New Africanized Bishop for the U.S.

Anglican Communion Network has this news today from Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of the Anglican Province of Uganda:
"In December 2006, the House of Bishops elected the Rev. John Guernsey to be a Bishop in the Church of Uganda, serving our American congregations on behalf of their Ugandan Bishop. Today at our House of Bishops meeting, we reaffirmed that decision and set the date for Bishopelect Guernsey's consecration for Sunday, 2nd September 2007. He will be consecrated in Mbarara along with Bishop-elect George Tibesigwa, the new Bishop of Ankole Diocese."
The annoucement goes on to describe how the new africanized bishop's oversight will extend to the congregation he presently serves in the US, but not to a diocese. The congregation remains in the jurisdiction of the Ugandan diocese and it's present bishop. The announcment continues:
Admittedly, this is complex, and we hope this arrangement will be temporary until the Biblically orthodox domestic ecclesial entity in the USA is in place. But, I do ask that all of us - Americans and Ugandans - work diligently to make this work. We will all need to walk in the light with one another; to extend grace, love, and mutual respect to one another; and to be transparent in our communication. Bishop-elect Guernsey is now our front-line Bishop and should be your first point of contact about anything ecclesiastical. When in doubt, contact Bishop-elect Guernsey first and then, together, you can decide if and how your Ugandan Bishop may need to be brought into the situation.
Read the rest here.

UPDATE: Thinking Anglicans has published the Barfoot Memo from March 2004 - obviously this is the strategy of the sudden proliferation of offshore ordinations.

New Primate for Canada

The Rt. Rev. Frederick James Hiltz of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island has been elected Primate of Canada.
From his Statement about Primacy:

In the first instance, a Primate has the challenge to be the kind of servant leader for whom the Church prays at the time of election. As servant of the people of God, a Primate’s ministry is to gather the Church, to unite its members in a holy fellowship of truth and love, and to inspire them in the service of Christ’s mission in the world. He/She is called to “boldly proclaim and interpret the Gospel, enlightening the minds and stirring up the conscience of the people.” (The Ordinal, p. 637, BAS) This ministry inevitably involves what someone once described as “pushing the boat out from the shore,” launching out into the deep. It’s about raising sights, broadening horizons. It’s about “drawing the circle wide, drawing it wider still.” It’s about the work of respecting the dignity of every human being, building a just society, and announcing the reign of God.

In the ministries of compassion for those who suffer, of advocacy for those whose voices are not heard, of calling for just resolutions to tension and conflicts among the nations, the Primate is one among many partners – those within the Christian tradition and those of other faith traditions.

More from his statement on Primacy and biographical informationhere

Bishop Hiltz was elected by the church's General Synod, meeting in Winnipeg, on the 5th ballot, from among four bishops nominated last April by a gathering of all Canadian bishops according to the Anglican News

Links
Press releases here
Live video from General Synod here
News and information here
Daily Journal here

Same Sex Blessings not core doctrine

The Canadian Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada approved the St. Michael's Report resolution, today, with amendment. Further resolutions on same sex blessing are being debated live here

The St Michael's Report is here

The resolution with amendment (in italics):

BE IT RESOLVED:
That this General Synod accept the conclusion of the Primate’s Theological Commission’s St. Michael Report that the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine, but is not core doctrine in the sense of being credal, and that it should not be a communion-breaking issue.


Thanks to Fr. Jake

60% solution defeated

Canadian General Synod has defeated a resolution that would call for 60% to pass the resolutions on same sex blessings.

This means that the resolutions will be passed or defeated by a simple majority.

Resolution #186 "That this General Synod resolves that the blessing of same-sex unions is consistent with the core doctrine of The Anglican Church of Canada" is under discussion and will be voted on Sunday.

Resolutions of General Synod are found here

News of General Synod here

Canadian synod: Same Sex Blessings not against doctrine

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada has passed a resolution that the blessing of same sex unions is not in conflict with core doctrine.

The Anglican Church of Canada's Web news service reports:

Winnipeg, June 24, 2007 -- Members of the Anglican Church of Canada's General Synod in Winnipeg agreed Sunday that the blessing of same-sex unions is not in conflict with the church's core doctrine, in the sense of being credal.

Debate resumed Sunday morning after being suspended late Saturday.

The motion carried reads: "That this General Synod resolves that the blessing of same-sex unions is not in conflict with the core doctrine (in the sense of being credal) of the Anglican Church of Canada.

The motion was carried by a vote of 152 for, 97 against in the house of clergy and laity and by a vote of 21 for and 19 against in the house of bishops.

News of General Synod here

Canadian Anglicans vote "no" on same-sex blessings

The vote to explicitly allow Canadian Anglican clergy to perform same-sex blessings was defeated by a very small margin by the bishops of the church. The lay and clergy votes both supported its passage.

The vote at the Canadian Church's General Synod was announced as:

"Laity 78 / 59 Passed

Clergy 63 / 53 Passed

Bishops 19 / 21 Failed

Motion Fails"

The Canadian Church has this story posted on its website.

We'll be updating this report as more news becomes available.

Read the live blog account of the parlimentary session here.

Synod Narrowly Defeats Same-sex Blessings

Canada's Anglicans voted Sunday by "the slimmest of margins" against letting priests bless same-sex marriages, but earlier in the day they also agreed the blessings do not conflict with their church's core doctrine, a step opposing sides agreed opens the door to such ceremonies in the future.

The Anglican Journal reports that "Canadian Anglicans, meeting at their General Synod governing convention, voted by the slimmest of margins to defeat a proposal that would have permitted church blessing rites for gay couples."

The Winnepeg Free Press said that

"some members of the Anglican Church of Canada were left in tears Sunday, after a motion to bless same-sex unions lost by only two votes.

The motion was supported by the majority of clergy and laity at the group’s national meeting, but two bishops who opposed the idea were the deciding factor. The motion was defeated by 21-19.

The decision shocked many same-sex supporters who thought the motion would pass since earlier in the day Anglicans voted same-sex blessings were not in conflict with the church’s doctrine.

Much of the sixth day of the synod was taken up with debate on the two questions, with dozens of people approaching microphones in the plenary hall to voice emotional opinions.

Both supporters and opponents agree that the two contradictory votes pose a problem for the Canadian Church.

Chris Ambidge, national spokesman for an Anglican group that supports same-sex unions, said, “What is wrong with having rights of blessing when you’ve already said it’s OK? I just don’t understand that.” He said the national meeting sent mixed messages to Anglicans across Canada and was confusing to everyone who voted.

Opponents to same-sex blessings agree. Cheryl Chang, a spokesperson for Anglican Essentials, a group which opposes blessing same-sex unions, called Sunday’s vote a “divisive tragedy” for the entire church.

Bishop Fred Hiltz the new Primate for the Anglican Church of Canada voted for the resolution. Afterwards he commented that ''There is no question that there was a lot of disappointment on the part of some people and a lot of pain, and some people will be saying, 'How long, oh Lord, how long will this conversation continue?' And it will continue.''

While those in favor of the measure said that the overall progess towards blessings was positive, the practical effect will be limited. ''We now have theological agreement that same-sex unions are not in opposition to doctrine and that's a big deal,'' said Chris Ambidge, president of the Toronto chapter of gay advocacy group Integrity. ''However, it's just a 75 percent win because there's no pastoral benefit to gay and lesbians with what has happened today. The church approved things in principle, but said we're not going to do anything about it.''

Chang predicted that people on both sides of the issue were going to start looking for new churches to attend "tomorrow."

Bishop Michael Ingham, of the Diocese of New Westminster, which has allowed for same-sex blessings since 2002, said the vote won’t make anyone happy. “A majority of people voted in favor. I think everyone’s a loser. Traditional Christians can’t take comfort in the vote and those who want to move on are held back by a small number of bishops. I think we need to look at the composition of the house of bishops and whether it properly reflects the Anglican Church of Canada.” There is a predominance of bishops from rural areas while the Canadian church is predominantly an urban church, he said.

Some churches have already said that they intend to pursue and carry out same-sex blessings no matter how the synod vote.

This entry was culled from stories in the Winnepeg Free-Press, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Anglican Journal and Episcopal News Service.

Synod rejects changes to Anglican council

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada has rejected the proposal to change the membership of the Anglican Consultative Council. If approved by two-thirds of the member churches of the Communion, Primates would be seated with voice and vote by virtue of their office along with the laity and clergy who are currently elected or appointed to the Council by the members of the Anglican Communion.

According to a news release from the Anglican Church in Canada, Bishop Sue Moxley of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and a member of the Anglican Consultative Council, said the changes would add a third more members to the council, resulting in increased costs.

Appendix One of the Windsor Report suggests the idea of adding the Primates or drawing representatives from "those persons who have a voice within the highest executive body of each province" of the members churches to the Council.


Building funded by Orombi's American friends

Uganda Sunday Vision's Josephine Maseruka reports on the opening of the new Church of Uganda Provincial Secretariat offices at Namirembe. The new structure houses the office of the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, that of the provincial secretary, plus an 100-seater fellowship hall, among others.
According to the article:

Orombi was given an award of $25,000 (about sh45m) by Americans for not supporting homosexuality. He also received an award of $30,000 (about sh54m) from friends in Singapore. All the money was used on the extension of the Provincial secretariat offices.
Other funding was from friends and well wishers within the country.

The Bishop of Namirembe Samuel Balagadde Ssekkadde appealed to Ugandans to avoid selfish tendencies arguing that Orombi would have spent the money on personal issues.

He also urged Ugandan to desist from adultery and witchcraft. The function was attended by the majority of the Anglican bishops across the country, Msgr. Wynand Katende who represented the Catholic leader among others.


Read the report of the opening ceremonies here

Thanks to epiScope for the link.

Rwanda on the Lambeth invitations

The House of Bishops of Rwanda has issued a statement on the invitations to Lambeth. It reads in part:

In a letter sent to Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini on 18 June 2007, the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote, “You should know that I have not invited the bishops of AMiA and CANA. This is not a question of asking anyone to disassociate themselves at this stage from what have been described as the missionary initiatives of your Provinces…. I appreciate that you may not be happy with these decisions, but I feel that as we approach a critical juncture of the life of the Communion, I must act in accordance to the clear guidance of the instruments of the Communion….” We would like to know if there are instruments in the Communion more important than the Primates and Provinces themselves. The Archbishop of Canterbury also refers to the consecration of the AMiA and CANA bishops as irregular. We would like to know why their consecrations are considered irregular when the actions of TEC are not considered irregular. We feel that the words of the Archbishop are tantamount to a threat, and we cannot accept this.

Therefore, in view of the above, in good conscience, the bishops of the Province of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda have resolved not to attend the Lambeth Conference 2008 unless the previously stipulated requirement of repentance on the part of the TEC and other like-minded Provinces is met, and invitations are extended to our entire House of Bishops.

My emphasis. What is the threat, and what is it contingent upon?

Related: The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Sydney (Australia) has issued a press on the invitations. An excerpt:

Standing Committee therefore -

(a) respectfully requests the Archbishop of this diocese to communicate to the Archbishop of Canterbury our dissatisfaction at the attempt to maintain union with the unrepentant while continuing to refuse fellowship to faithful and orthodox Anglicans such as the Church of England in South Africa,

(b) respectfully requests the Archbishop and bishops of this diocese not to accept the invitation to Lambeth without making public in protest, speech and liturgical action, both prior to and at Lambeth, our diocese’s principled objection to the continued participation of those whose actions have expressed a departure from the clear teaching of scripture, and who have consequently excluded orthodox Anglicans from their fellowship, and....

Finally, The Living Church reports that a retired Episcopal bishop has resigned its House of Bishops is joining the House of Bishops of Uganda. The concluding paragraph:
Bishop Fairfield is the fourth member of the House of Bishops to quit The Episcopal Church this year. In March, the Rt. Rev. William Cox, a retired Assistant Bishop of Oklahoma, moved to the Church of the Province of the Southern Cone; the Rt. Rev. David Bena, retired Suffragan Bishop of Albany, was received by the Church of Nigeria and serves as an assistant bishop in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America; and the Rt. Rev. William Herzog, retired Bishop of Albany, was received into the Roman Catholic Church.
When a more conservative bishop that of leaves the remaining house less conservative of course.

Sydney considers protest at Lambeth

Parts of the Anglican Church in Australia are registering their disagreements with the Archbishop of Canterbury's action in extending invitations to the bishops of the American Episcopal Church:

"The Sydney Diocese’s Standing Committee has urged Archbishop Peter Jensen and his five regional bishops to make crystal clear Sydney’s protest at Lambeth’s guest list if they decide to accept the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitations to attend next year’s conference of the world’s Anglican leaders.

Standing Committee also requested that Archbishop Jensen and Bishops Forsyth, Davies, Tasker, Lee and Stewart approach other orthodox bishops in the communion with the proposal of meeting in England during the Lambeth conference."

The article continues

“[The] Standing Committee therefore respectfully requests the Archbishop of this diocese to communicate to the Archbishop of Canterbury our dissatisfaction at the attempt to maintain union with the unrepentant while continuing to refuse fellowship to faithful and orthodox Anglicans such as the Church of England in South Africa.”

The Standing Committee requested that, if Sydney’s archbishop and bishops decide to attend the Lambeth Conference, they do so with public “protest, speech and liturgical action”, expressing “our diocese’s principled objection to the continued participation of those whose actions have expressed a departure from the clear teaching of Scripture”.

Longstanding lay member of the Standing Committee, Robert Tong says these discussions, and the decisions that will follow, could mark an important place in Anglican history.

“These resolutions encourage the Archbishop and his assistant bishops to actively engage in questions which are unprecedented in the life of the Anglican Communion.”

Read the whole article here: Sydney ponders parallel Lambeth

Another U.S.-based Kenyan bishop

The Anglican Communion Network website has this announcement today:

"The Anglican Communion Network welcomed news today that the Anglican Province of Kenya has elected the Rev. William Murdoch suffragan bishop of All Saints Cathedral Diocese in Nairobi. Bishop-elect Murdoch will join Bishop-elect Bill Atwood in supporting Kenyan clergy and congregations in the United States. As he takes on this new responsibility, Murdoch will continue to serve the Network as dean of the New England Convocation."

Bishop-elect Murdoch is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Massachusetts and has been serving as a regional dean of the Anglican Communion Network within the Episcopal Church. There is no mention in the news release about whether he will continue in that role after his ordination in the Kenyan province of the Anglican Communion.

Bishop-elect Murdoch will be working directly with Bishop-elect Bill Atwood whose election as a Kenyan bishop was announced earlier this month.

Read the rest here: Network Welcomes the Rev. William Murdoch’s Election.

Victoria Matthews: Canadians focused on redefining marriage

Bishop Victoria Matthews, the Canadian Anglican bishop of Edmonton, writing in a letter to the clergy of her diocese, attempts to interpret the apparently contradictory actions of the recent Synod of the Canadian Province:

"...in an atmosphere that seemed more like filibuster than debate, a resolution was presented and passed asking the Primate's Theological Commission and Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee to prepare a report and educational materials in advance of 2010 General Synod about whether the blessing of same-sex unions is a faithful, Spirit-led development of the doctrine of marriage.  Remember, the St. Michael Report said the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine but until now no one has been asked to try to actually develop a doctrine of same-sex unions.  It also asked for a theological rationale to accompany the new Canon 21 on marriage, which is come before General Synod 2010.

[I]n short, the Anglican Church of Canada General Synod consistently demonstrated that it is more interested in considering redefining marriage than continuing the debate about blessings."

Bishop Matthews goes on to write that the upshot of this is that Primate of the Canadian church is guareenteed a full seat with voice and vote at the next Primate's meetings and that their Province will be welcomed to fully participate in the work of the Anglican Consultative Council.

The full letter in pdf format can be downloaded here.

The Anglican Communion listens

The last Lambeth meeting encouraged all the Provinces of the Communion to create forums for listening to the experience of LBTG christians who are seeking Christ within the congregations of the Anglican church.

The Anglican Communion Office has created called the Rev. Canon Phil Groves to serve as the facilitator of these programs around the church.

The Episcopal News Service has a long article that reports on his experience here in the Episcopal Church in America and some of his experiences in other parts of the Communion:

"Anglicans whom Groves has recruited from throughout the communion will facilitate the compilation of each section of the guide. It is expected that the bishops at Lambeth will use the study guide for reflection and will then 'go away and contemplate in their own place and with their own people' to discern the course of their future engagement, he said.

The collection of material gathered for the study guide and the accumulation of the provinces' work on human sexuality 'is going to have to be on paper,' Groves said, because in some instances that is the only way some voices from some provinces will be heard. The guide will be backed up by a larger collection on CD-ROM.

Lyn Headley-Deavours, justice minister for the Diocese of Newark, urged Groves to ensure that the process quickly involves people across the communion actually listening to each other. The Rev. Dr. Cy Deavours, co-director of the Oasis LGBT ministry in the Diocese of New Jersey, told Groves he'd like some assurance that the listening will actually happen."

Groves goes on to discuss his role with in the process:

"If I am perceived as being on any side, I am worthless to you and the entire Communion," Groves said. He also characterized the process as "mutual listening" that will hear from as many voices as possible, including some "that you believe have caused intense damage."

The hoped-for long-term result of the Listening Process, he said, is that with the inclusion of as many voices as possible, "we will know the gospel better." He asked the Integrity-organized group to support the process by contributing papers and other resources by mid-August of this year.

Read the rest here.

An American battle on African soil

The focus on homosexuality and the work of establishing parallel Anglican structures in the US and in the Anglican Communion has distorted the relationships of the African Church, made a few powerful at the expense of the average African Christian and distracted them from their mission.

Kerry Eleveld writes a detailed article in the Advocate describing how a few powerful leaders, including Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, have taken a cultural taboo and leveraged into political and religious power both at home in Nigeria and in the United States.

Describing the relationship between Akinola and conservative movements in the American Church as a “union,” between wealthy American religious interest groups and an increasingly self-conscious African Church.

Akinola must have felt a strong calling to make such a move. It put him in defiance of a church tradition, dating back to the fourth century, that limits the activity of a bishop to that bishop’s jurisdiction. Put simply: One bishop doesn’t tread on another bishop’s turf...

The Nigerian primate wrote Schori that due to what he called the “unbiblical agenda'' of the Episcopal Church, “'the usual protocol and permissions are no longer applicable.”
His words depict a leader who is secure in the purity of his agenda. Yet as I began to ask questions about this stern spiritual icon, I discovered an all-too-fallible man who has found that condemning gay people is a shrewd career move.

Eleveld says “No doubt [Akinola], like most Nigerians, grew up believing that homosexuality is a sin. But this pastor has let his flock at home suffer while he networks in America, accumulating power, publicity, and—according to informed observers—money.”

The article describes the context of the typical Nigerian attitude towards gays and lesbians. Davis Mac-Illya,founder of Changing Attitudes-Nigeria, says that “We have been part of the community,” but that homosexuality has come under great scrutiny in Nigeria only in the past few years. “It is only now that the government and the church have decided to use us to its political gain.” The result? “Most people get themselves married, but they still know that they are gay or they are lesbians.”

Mac-Illya and eight were jailed and beaten after a rally in the nation's capital, Abuja, and is routinely the subject of threats of harm and even death.

“It frightens me, although it will not make me stop,” says Mac-Iyalla, who now lives in exile in nearby Togo. “Those who are doing this are Christians and members of the church—they think they are working for God by getting rid of me.”

Both Akinola and the Nigerian government have exploited this issue despite the pressing issues of health, education, and the divide between the oil wealth of the nation and the poverty of much of the population.

Nigeria, with about 120 million people, is the most populous country in Africa and among the poorest in the world. Life expectancy is 47 years, roughly 3 million people are infected with HIV, and between 1996 and 2005, nearly 30% of children under age 5 were malnourished. It is a land of dichotomies, where oil flows at about 2.5 million barrels a day—making Nigeria the largest oil producer in Africa—and yet anywhere from 60% to 75% of Nigerians, according to various sources, live on less than a dollar a day.

And yet he strongly backs a proposed Nigerian law, currently under debate, that would prohibit same-sex marriage and call for a five-year imprisonment of anyone who enters into a same-sex marriage or “performs, witnesses, aids, or abets” a such a marriage. The bill even specifies that anyone involved in advocacy for gay and lesbian rights would get five years behind bars. The United Nations, the Bush Administration and 125 religious leaders have condemned the proposed legislation.

Not everyone is happy and not all Anglican leaders in Africa agree with the strategy of increasing influence and prestige at the expense of a minority group and the mission of the Church.

“We debate these things whilst people are dying,” says Bishop Musonda Trevor Selwyn Mwamba of Botswana.

“[Akinola’s] voice has been the icon of the conservative position,” says Mwamba. “[But] Africa is not a monochrome continent. His is the voice that has been given publicity, but it is not the dominant voice.

“The voice which is not heard,” Mwamba continues, “and this is what I would call the real voice of the Anglican Africans, is a silent voice, which simply seeks to live its Christian values without drawing attention to itself. It’s a voice of trying to make ends meet.”

Mwamba sees the real issues of the African people—poverty, the lack of clean drinking water, nutrition, HIV and AIDS, education, women’s rights—being neglected by the small cadre of bishops led by Akinola. “Thousands of kids are dying every day,” Mwamba says. “Now, those are the issues the church should be addressing.”

An other African priest likens the struggle to the hiring of mercenaries.

One anonymous source who is African-born but now works as an Episcopal minister in the United States sees the whole African crusade against homosexuality as someone else’s war. “For me, the primates in Africa are mercenaries who have been hired to fight a war, which in the U.S. they have lost,” he says, adding that Robinson’s consecration was the final straw. “If you are losing a battle, if you don’t have enough manpower to fight, you go and hire mercenaries from somewhere who can fight for you.”

The Rev. Emmanuel Sserwadda, Interim Africa Officer for the Episcopal Church is quoted as saying that while outreach in Nigeria and other central African churches has crippled because funds from Episcopal sources are refused, a handful of American benefactors have increased their influence with Akinola and others with the use of money.

The “influence” Sserwadda describes comes in the form of all-expenses-paid trips to the United States, envelopes that contain several hundred to several thousand dollars—gifts big enough to be meaningful for one person but too small to have serious impact on an entire ministry. The money is nearly impossible to track because it isn’t linked to any specific organization.

“If an American gives an envelope like that, it is not given for the use of the church, it is given to the individual,” says Sserwadda. “Or if not that, someone is flown into the States, and all his bills are paid…. He goes back after doing shopping, and sometimes that person comes with his wife or with his child.…” In other words, it’s a cushy family trip for free.

For U.S. executives, such perks may be common, but by African standards, they are rich. Says Sserwadda: “I am telling you that even [a bishop’s] annual salary cannot facilitate” travel on such a scale.

Sserwadda has not personally witnessed an exchange of money, he says. “But we hear of it,” he adds. “It has been happening.”

Bishop Mwamba concurs: “To a great degree Africa has always been the play field of different powers. The whole issue of sexuality is an American issue that somehow has found itself being played out across the Atlantic in an African conference.”

Read the entire story: The Advocate: Akinola's Power Play

Vote for Florence Li Tim-Oi

BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme wants to name a new dahlia. Canon Christopher Hall, Hon. Secretary, Li Tim-Oi Foundation asks everyone to go to the BBC website to vote to name the Dahlia after The Rev. Florence Li Tim-Oi.
He writes:

'FLORENCE LI TIM-OI' is in the short list of 10. The Rev. Florence Li Tim-Oi was the first Anglican woman priest and this is the centenary year of her birth. Please vote for her by going to this website page before noon BST on Friday 6 July.

This will greatly raise the profile of her Foundation in UK.

Every Blessing,
Canon Christopher Hall
Hon Secretary, Li Tim-Oi Foundation

Follow the Dahlia link, Vote Here

Ruth Gledhill interviews Archbishop Akinola

"The world's most powerful Anglican leader," as Ruth Gledhill calls Peter Akinola, shares his thoughts with the Times Online religion blogger in his first interview with a British national newspaper. While the tone of the article belies the author's sympathies, it nonetheless paints a compelling portrait of the Nigeran archbishop, his upbringing, and the challenges he faces as his own country becomes more divided over religious issues. Muslims and Christians, who in many parts of the country live in harmony, are starting to have problems in other areas of Nigeria.

The bigger the Church gets, the fewer conflicts Christians will face. “That is what we believe. So we have put ourselves into the work of mission very seriously.” The era of bishops living like lords in their own little empires has long gone. “Every bishop in his area is an evangelist,” he says.

When his predecessor, Archbishop Abiodun Adetiloye, stepped down, there were 76 dioceses. He had trebled the size of the church by planting a bishop in every city. “I was the Dean then. We did not know who would be Primate. I said, Baba has finished the work, everything is now done, allelujah! He said, Peter, that is a big mistake you are making because the work is yet to begin. As God would have it, I then became the Primate and we set a vision for ourselves as to how to carry on with this great task.

From the interview it becomes clear that Akinola's objection to the Episcopal Church and other provinces that are moving toward full inclusion of gays and lesbians is that he fears we will impose our view on the Communion as a whole.

The demand from the West that his Church liberalise he sees as a gross reimposition of an old imperalism. “For God’s sake let us be. When America invades Afghanistan it is in the name of world peace. When Nigeria moves to Biafra it is an invasion. When England takes the Gospel to another country, it is mission. When Nigeria takes it to America it is an intrusion. All this imperialistic mentality, it is not fair.”

HT to Chuck Blanchard.

The entire article by Gledhill is here.

Covenant and oversight

A release today from InclusiveChurch.net provides insight into how recent actions by African provinces undermine the Anglican Communion. These actions, including the increasing number of bishops providing "'pastoral oversight' in North America, the attempts to create a Covenant that defines Anglican doctrine and ethics, and the apparent intention to organise an alternative to the Lambeth Conference in London next year all point towards one thing: The strategy to destabilise the Anglican Communion is moving into another phase."

Without dialog, they note, there is no way to walk together, and actions that undermine the dialog process threaten the Covenant's "original intention, which was to affirm the bonds of fellowship which exist":

There can be little doubt that the [homosexuality] issue is being used by some, mainly conservative, Christians as a lever to try to change the Communion into something it is not; from a conciliar church into a confessional one. From a praxis-based Communion where the bonds between us are the bonds of fellowship and love to a codified Communion where exclusions are legally determined and legally enforced, and where the Communion defines itself not by who it includes but by who it excludes.

...

The way in which the draft was received by some at the Primates meeting in Tanzania is indication that, whatever the intention, it will be used to enforce a particular interpretation of the Scriptures to the detriment of the life of the Communion. We do not need a Curia, and the process of drafting a Covenant is already giving more power to the Primates than is justified by our history

Read the whole thing at InclusiveChurch.net's blog.

Caution urged for Covenant

The Church Times has a good overview of some of the various views held by parties in the Church of England toward the question of whether an Anglican Covenant, as proposed by the Windsor Report, is warranted much less what it should address.

"Two amendments have already been tabled to the General Synod motion on the Anglican Covenant, both reflecting concern that the Church of England will have no further say in the Covenant process until it is presented next year with a text for its approval (News, 22 June). The Covenant is to be debated on Sunday, as part of the sessions that begin today.

The motion as it stands asks the Synod to:
(a) affirm its willingness to engage positively with the unanimous recommendation of the Primates in February 2007 for a process designed to produce a covenant for the Anglican Communion;

(b) note that such a process will only be concluded when any definitive text has been duly considered through the synodical processes of the provinces of the Communion; and

(c) invite the Presidents, having consulted the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council, to agree the terms of a considered response to the draft from the Covenant Design Group for submission to the Anglican Communion Office by the end of the year."

The full article can be found here.

Thinking Anglicans has been collecting various web resources and background articles about the upcoming synod as well.

Canon Groves on the Listening Process

Episcopal News Service has an audio interview up this morning:

"The Rev. Canon Phil Groves speaks with ENS national correspondent, the Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg, during a recent visit to New York about the Anglican Communion's Listening Process, its progress so far, and the next steps.."

You can listen to the interview here: Canon Phil Groves on the Listening Process

The Cafe had previous coverage of Canon Groves' visit to meet with representatives of the Episcopal Church here.

Nigerian Christian group rejects Akinola

The Nigerian Tribune reports that the Christian Association of Nigeria has taken the highly unusual step of refusing to ratify defeated presidential candidate Archbishiop Peter Akinola as its vice president. The association had previously taken the equally unusual step of denying Akinola a second term as president. The vote is a setback for Akinola's allies in the United States and the United Kingdom who have attempted to position him as the chief spokesman of African Christianity.

An excerpt:

The General Assembly of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Friday refused to endorse the return of Most Rev. Peter Akinola as its Vice-President.

Akinola, the Anglican Archbishop for Abuja Archdiocese, was the immediate past president of CAN.

A new National Executive Council was elected for the association last week with Most Rev. John Onaiyekan, as President.

Onaiyekan defeated Akinola, who automatically should have become the deputy.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the Assembly at its meeting on Friday was supposed to ratify the election and listen to the president’s acceptance speech.

But events took a dramatic turn when the assembly ratified the election of Onaiyekan but rejected that of Akinola.

Worth worrying about?

The Church of England's General Synod has endorsed the concept of a covenant for the Anglican Communion. This is being treated among many of the left as a setback. But it isn't clear that much has been lost. The covenant process has not been derailed, but its contents are far from set.

The key paragraph in Stephen Bates' story in the Guardian is this one:

The move - described by one speaker as "the most important development in the church since the Reformation" - was carried after bishops headed off concerns of some lay and clergy members by giving assurances that nothing will ultimately be adopted until it has been agreed by the synod, which is the church's parliament. Even so, approximately a third of the synod voted against the plan.

Look again at the resolution, which says that the synod:

(a) affirm its willingness to engage positively with the unanimous recommendation of the Primates in February 2007 for a process designed to produce a covenant for the Anglican Communion;

(b) note that such a process will only be concluded when any definitive text has been duly considered through the synodical processes of the provinces of the Communion; and

(c) invite the Presidents, having consulted the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council, to agree the terms of a considered response to the draft from the Covenant Design Group for submission to the Anglican Communion Office by the end of the year.

It may be premature to assume that the Synod's vote inidcates its attitude on homosexuality (which is no where mentioned), or its willingness to concentrate authority in the hands of the Primates--several of whom are in the process of discrediting themselves, by consecrating bishops whom the Archbishop of Canterbury won't recognize.

What Canada did

The Rev Canon Eric Beresford, president of the Atlantic School of Theology, weighs in on the seemingly contradictory votes recently taken by Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada on the issue of same-sex relationships.

Here are some excerpts from his article on the Web site of the Toronto Globe and Mail:

Although much has been written and said about the implications of the Anglican Church's general synod debates on the blessing of homosexual unions, most commentators have told us more about their own hopes and fears than about the complexity of the situation created by last month's vote. Put simply, the vote leaves the church in a state of confusion.

The doctrinal grounds for allowing such blessings were passed, but the motion that would have allowed for an orderly approach to the change was defeated. While it is likely that the negative vote cast by the bishops (refusing to approve the rite) was motivated by a desire for the unity of the church, it is unclear whether this will now be the result.

And:

to say that the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter indifferent is to say that it is a matter about which Anglicans might reasonably disagree both in theory and in practice. It is to say that it is a matter which cannot be the basis of discipline, and here is the rub.

By endorsing the 2005 St. Michael Report, and by declaring that the blessing of same-sex unions is not contrary to the "core doctrine" of the Anglican Church of Canada, the general synod has, at the very least, undermined the grounds for discipline against any diocese, bishop or priest who performs such blessings.

Of course, priests are bound by oaths of obedience in "all things lawful and honest." The question is going to be whether or not it is lawful to require obedience from a priest on something the general synod of the church has declared to be a matter indifferent. Further, if it is a matter indifferent, the question is going to be whether a priest can lawfully be prevented from blessing, or entering into, a relationship that the 2004 general synod declared to have "integrity and sanctity."

And finally:

Events are now likely to unfold in a way that is piecemeal in a context that is very uncertain. All this means that it is going to be harder, not easier, to maintain peace and unity within the church.

Read it all.


What would Luther do?

Writing in USA TODAY, Mary Zeiss Strange asks: [W]ould the man whose break from Roman Catholicism involved a revolutionary rethinking of the role of sexuality in human relationships take ... a negative view of homosexuality today? Most probably, given the way his theological mind worked, he would not.

She writes:

In the Augsburg Confession of 1530 (a conciliatory statement of faith intended to unite Lutherans with other Protestants), Luther publicly agreed with other reformers of his day that biblical references that depart from New Testament inclusiveness — abstaining from eating pork, for example, or requiring male circumcision — not only can but should be set aside. A 21st century Luther would surely recognize that the few biblical proscriptions against "sodomy" — shaky in themselves as condemnations of same-sex love and rooted in a worldview vastly different from our own — should not bar the loving union of two gay or lesbian persons. Equally, a 21st century Luther would affirm the ordination of such persons, as in line with his theology of the "priesthood of all believers."

What is Anglicanism?

Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, Primate of the Anglican Church of Uganda, has written a long and careful article that explains his sense of Anglicanism and why Anglicanism has an important message to the people of Uganda.

The article though is really not just applicable to a Ugandan audience but can speak to the rest of the Communion in helping us understand why many in the African provinces have found Anglicanism so powerful, and how they have used it to speak to their culture:

"Few would deny that the Anglican Communion is in crisis. The nature of that crisis, however, remains a question. Is it about sexuality? Is it a crisis of authority - who has it and who doesn’t? Have Anglicans lost their commitment to the via media, epitomized by the Elizabethan Settlement, which somehow declared a truce between Puritan and Catholic sentiments in the Church of England? Is it a crisis of globalization? A crisis of identity?

I have the privilege of serving as archbishop of the Church of Uganda, providing spiritual leadership and oversight to more than nine million Anglicans. Uganda is second only to Nigeria as the largest Anglican province in the world, and most of our members are fiercely loyal to their global communion. But however we come to understand the current crisis in Anglicanism, this much is apparent: The younger churches of Anglican Christianity will shape what it means to be Anglican. The long season of British hegemony is over.

The preface to the Book of Common Prayer states, ‘It is a most invaluable part of that blessed ‘liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,’ that in his worship different forms and usages may without offense be allowed, provided the substance of the Faith be kept entire; and that, in every Church, what cannot be clearly determined to belong to Doctrine must be referred to Discipline.’

And yet, despite this clear distinction, contemporary Anglicans are in danger of confusing doctrine and discipline. For four hundred years Anglicanism represented both the theological convictions of the English Reformation and the culture of the Christian Church in Britain. The sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Anglican divines gave voice to both: English Reformation theology (doctrine) and British culture (discipline). The Anglican churches around the world, however, have ended the assumption that Anglican belief and practice must be clothed in historic British culture."

The article speaks of the theology and historical experience of the believers in Uganda, and explains their objections to actions taken by other parts of the Communion and how they intend to protest them.

Read the rest here: What is Anglicanism?

Bishop Mwamba on the church in Botswana

The Episcopal Church News website has a video interview of the Bishop of Botswana:

"The Rt. Rev. Trevor Mwamba, Bishop of Botswana and dean of the Province of Central Africa, speaks about the Anglican Church in his local context and his vision for his diocese, especially in terms of education and empowerment."

What is particularly interesting here is that Bishop Mwamba is one of possible successors to Archbishop Melango. Mwamba is generally seen as a more moderate voice in that province.

Watch it here: Episcopal Life Online - VIDEO

And the church goes on

Reflecting on a recent break from blogging, the Rev. Scott Gunn has written a post that brings to mind the first sentence of Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. (For non-English majors it's: In the fall the war was always there, but we did not go to it any more.)

It deserves to be read in full, but here is a taste:

For all the talk about a massive crisis in the church, the goings-on of the Anglican Communion are simply not as important as the every day struggles of faithful people, trying to lead faithful lives. When a grieving family contacts the church, they don't care what +Henry Orombi thinks about Anglicanism or whether CANA and the ACN will patch things up. When I met with parents to talk about baptism for their child, not one person asked me for my views on same-sex blessings. People expect me to climb into the pulpit every week and proclaim the Good News. They don't really want to hear a polity lesson or a rehearsal of the "bad news."

So the next time I hear someone say this or that is tearing apart the church, I'm going to be more irritated than usual. I'll ask, "Exactly how is it that +Gene Robinson is tearing the fabric of the Communion?" "How can it be that +Martyn Minns is ruining the church?" There is a crisis only in the minds of a few overly anxious people, in the pens of reporters eager to sell newspapers, in the keystrokes of some obsessed bloggers (yours truly among them, sometimes), and in the preaching of some clergy who might benefit from being a bigger fish in a smaller pond. But to most people, most of the time, there is just the church.

Anglican Nigerians reminded no one can serve two masters

Kendall Harmon brings to our attention this report appearing in the Lagos Vanguard

THE Diocese of Egbu, Anglican Communion, has warned its members to distance themselves from secret societies and cults or risk being slammed with commensurate disciplinary measures lined up by the diocese for its erring members.

The Bishop, Professor Emmanuel Iheagwam, read the riot act while presenting his presidential address during the 10th Annual Men's Conference at Saint John's Anglican Church, Naze.

While recalling the Biblical injunction that "no one can serve two masters" at the same time, the Anglican cleric lamented that there are a lot of people who profess to be Christians but at the same time belong to secret societies and cults." Are there not people who profess to be Christians and at the same time belong to secret societies or cults?

Read it here.

Questions have been raised before about the accuracy of the membership numbers of the Anglican Church of Nigeria. How many of members the church claims are members are "erring members"? How many have little tie to the church? How many are counted by as members of other Christian denominations as well.

The Anglican Church in Nigeria has far fewer bishops per member than Anglican provinces in the west. That is, except for its extra-provincial province in North America where the opposite is true.

African/US Anglican meeting

Trinity Institute is announcing a new program designed to bring bishops from the African Anglican Provinces and the Episcopal Church together. From the press release:

Trinity Wall Street is convening a group of bishops of the Anglican Provinces in Africa and their companions in the Episcopal Church of the United States for a consultation to strengthen relationships, develop mission partnerships, and to discover new opportunities to bear witness to the Gospel. The consultation will be rooted in prayer and breaking bread together; using different liturgies from the Provinces of the Anglican Communion to enrich the experience of the participants. Hosted by Iglesia Episcopal Reformada de España, Walking to Emmaus: Discovering New Mission Perspectives in Changing Times will be held in El Escorial, Spain from July 21 through July 26, 2007.

There are no press people invited to the meeting, but there will be regular video updates made available at here. [Link updated in response to comment below.]

According to the Reverend Canon James G. Callaway, Jr., Deputy for Faith Formation and Development at Trinity Church Wall Street the idea behind the meeting is that:

“Mission flourishes best through collaboration,”... “This gathering provides an opportunity for people of shared faith and mutual responsibility to come together to further develop partnerships that address important needs in the world.”

Confidence begins to slip?

The Global South Steering Committee has issued a statement at its meeting in London which ended on July 18th. The statement consists of 12 points, many of which speak to the concerns of the Steering Committee vis-a-viz the response of the Episcopal Church to the Dar es Salaam Communiqué issued by the most recent Primate's meeting.

The statement gives evidence of some concern that the Primate's Steering Committee, apparently the body that will make the final decision regarding the Dar es Salaam's Communiqué's requests, may decide not to act to expel the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion:

"7. We are aware of the anticipated visit by the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC to the September meeting of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church USA. Sadly we are convinced that this decision, made jointly by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chair of the ACC, undermines the integrity of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué. We believe that the Primates Meeting, which initiated the request to the TEC House of Bishops, must make any determination as to the adequacy of their response. We strongly urge the scheduling of a Primates’ Meeting for this purpose at the earliest possible moment."

Read the rest here: This is a critical time - A Statement from the Global South Steering Committee

The Episcopal News Service's take on the statement can be found here. Their headline is "Global South Primates vow to continue violating Episcopal Church boundaries."

UPDATE: On July 24th the steering committee admitted that some of its more moderate members were not at the meeting,

Abp Malango, Abp Venable[s] and Abp Gomez were not present at attend this meeting with apologies.

Davis Mac-Iyalla's American tour

St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Washington, D. C. has made available a podcast of the presentation that Nigerian gay rights activist Davis Mac-Iyalla made at the church on July 3. He speaks about his efforts on behalf of gay Christians in Nigeria, and the smear campaign launched against him by Archbishop Peter Akinola.

Selective punishment

Ekklesia, the progressive Christian think tank in England will soon publish a major report on the conflict in the Anglican Communion. Rewriting History: the Episcopal Church struggle is available now on the group's Web site.

In a nine point summary of the 82-page paper, author Savitri Hensman writes:

1. Because The Episcopal Church (USA and other regions) is more accepting than most provinces of lesbians and gay people, including those in loving partnerships, it has been accused of failing to act in accord with the clear teaching of the Bible and the agreed position of the Communion, being too heavily influenced by the dominant culture and acting in an imperialist manner. Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference is often mentioned: though its position on homosexuality was not binding, TEC has been condemned for breaching 'bonds of affection' by not conforming.

2. However it is unjust to punish TEC when senior clergy in certain other provinces have to a far greater extent failed to act in line with Scripture and Anglican consensus, to examine their own cultures critically and to oppose imperialism. These include the primate and bishops of the Church of Nigeria, who have acted in ways contrary to key Biblical teachings, the 1998 Lambeth Resolution on homosexuality and over thirty resolutions agreed by Lambeth or the Anglican Consultative Council, as well as several recommendations of the Windsor Report.

3. Yet they have not been treated nearly as severely as TEC. Indeed, internationally agreed Anglican positions on a range of matters are frequently disregarded by bishops and archbishops.

4. What is more, TEC was placed in a difficult position because of apparently contradictory principles widely held in international Anglican circles, and the persistent refusal of leaders of several other provinces to promote serious study of human sexuality and listen attentively to lesbians and gays, despite repeated conference resolutions.

5. Traditionally Anglicanism's broad nature, and careful attention to Scripture, tradition and reason in responding to complex issues, had enabled the church to revise its position radically on various matters over the past couple of centuries, including ethnicity, gender and sexuality, while staying true to its heritage.

6. Recently, however, some senior clergy have demanded that their own opinions on specific matters be treated worldwide as core truths, like those in the Creeds, and refused to consider any evidence to the contrary.

7. With the hope of adequate international dialogue fading, members of TEC were faced with the pastoral realities of a diverse society and the strength of the theological case for full inclusion of lesbians and gays. It seemed to many that, by postponing justice decade after decade, they were failing to seek and serve Christ in all persons and love their neighbour as themselves, and this was damaging ministry and mission. In becoming less discriminatory, TEC was acting in a reasonable manner.

8. For associating too closely with those often facing rejection and contempt, TEC has been targeted, and has become a scapegoat for wider divisions, based partly on different responses to social issues and the determination of some bishops elsewhere to transform the nature of the Communion.

9. Respect for the dignity of all people, encouragement of thoughtful study of the Bible, appreciation of advances in science, participation of the laity at all levels of decision-making and catholicity based on acceptance of provincial autonomy and diversity have long been valued by Anglicans, but are now under threat. What is of value to the church and world in the Anglican heritage should not be lightly discarded.

About the author: Savitri Hensman was born in Sri Lanka. She works in the voluntary sector in community care and equalities, is a respected writer on Christianity and social justice, and was founder of the Black Lesbian and Gay Centre in London. She was a long-standing member of the Jubilee Group, a network of radical Anglo-Catholics and others committed to understanding the transformative impact of traditional Christian faith. Savi is an Ekklesia associate.

Archbishop Sentamu warns Anglican conservatives

Anglican conservatives have been put on notice by the Archbishop of York:

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, Dr John Sentamu pleaded with them to attend the [Lambeth] conference despite their war with liberals over homosexuality.

Sentamu.jpgBut he told them that if they "voted with their feet" they risked severing their links with the Archbishop of Canterbury and with historic Anglicanism, a breach that could take centuries to heal.

"Anglicanism has its roots through Canterbury," he said. "If you sever that link you are severing yourself from the Communion. There is no doubt about it."

Read it all of Jonathan Petre's report here.

See also Jim Naughton's essay today on last week's statement by the Global South Steering Committee. Archbishop Orombi of Uganda, who attended the committee's meeting recently wrote

The younger churches of Anglican Christianity will shape what it means to be Anglican. The long season of British hegemony is over.

Like Orombi, Sentamu is Ugandan. A former judge there, he fled the country during the regime of Idi Amin.

UPDATE. The Church Society (UK) has picked up on another portion of Petre's article:

The Telegraph reports:

"Dr Sentamu, a close ally of Dr Williams, said that as long as Anglican bishops did not deny the basic Christian doctrines they should all be able to remain within the same Church.
While liberal north Americans disagreed with conservatives over sexual ethics, these were not core issues, he said."

We have been unable to confirm that this accurately reports John Sentamu but if it does then it is very serious. Previously he appeared to have taken the view that sexual immorality is important and that the actions of the revisionists and sodomites in North America is a problem.

Anglicanism and Globalization

Christopher Sugden writing in the Evangelicals Now August 2007 edition has some thoughts on the effect that a rising tide of globalization will have on Anglicanism. Up till now most of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion have been coterminous with their respective national boundaries. (The Episcopal Church based mostly in the United States is a signal exception.)

This close identification with the nation state has some implications according to Sugden:

"The Achilles’ heel of the Anglican Communion is that it is more likely to go with the grain of the culture and the politically powerful than against them. Its origin in the concerns of Henry VIII to have all state institutions in the nation subject to him is one factor here.

But it is no longer possible to subject all state institutions in one geographical area to one jurisdiction. International companies, the internet, international networks such as the European Union are an expression of the globalisation that has rendered boundaries that were set by how far people could conveniently travel obsolete.

Geography is no longer the sole consideration when thinking about the space that we occupy. We live in global and universal space which is occupied by networks of people with values and commitments. In the church, we are now experiencing the church as envisaged in Acts 15, where Gentile and Jew ( different races and classes) are engaged closely together."

Sugden goes on to claim that the rise of the Global South as pan-national coalition in the Anglican Communion is partly an attempt to deal with this particular problem, which he sees most clearly exemplified in what he judges to the be the apostasy of the Episcopal Church (a phrase he uses after claiming warrant from the Chair of Design Committee for the proposed Anglican Covenant, Abp. Drexel Gomez).

It is particularly interesting to read Fr. Sugden's words in light of the new remarks by the Archbishop of York today.

Read the rest here: Anglican Mainstream » An end to Nationalistic Anglicanism

Walking to Emmaus Consultation

Anglican Communion bishops from 22 dioceses in the United States and 29 dioceses in Africa joined the congregation of Madrid's Iglesia Episcopal de España for a Eucharist on July 22. Joining the Rt. Rev. Carlos Lozano Lopez, bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain, at the altar were the primates of Burundi, Central Africa, Congo, and Southern Africa, as well as the primate of Brazil, according to a press release from Trinity Church, New York City published by Episcopal News Service.

Following a reception, the visitors made a stop at the Museo del Prado, before returning to El Escorial where the "Walking to Emmaus, Discovering New Mission Perspectives in Changing Times" consultation continues through Thursday, July 26. The consultation is being convened by New York's Trinity Church, Wall Street, as an opportunity for bishops of the Anglican Provinces in Africa and their companions in the Episcopal Church of the United States to strengthen relationships, develop mission partnerships, and discover new opportunities to bear witness to the Gospel.

The Rev. Canon James Callaway, deputy for faith formation and development at Trinity Church, said: "The consultation is offering partners in faith and mission a communal space to further existing partnerships and find commonalities on which to build new relationships. This week, as bishops share their hopes and vision for mission as Anglicans in today's world, we look forward to a stronger communion committed to providing important resources to those in need around the world."

The Trinity Church website has more resources on the consultation and will have video postcards from Spain later this week.

Site editor Nathan Brockman discusses theology of mission with Ian Douglas, Angus Dun Professor of Mission and World Christianity at the Episcopal Divinity School.

NB: What is the theology of Mission?

ID: In the early 19th century, mission was understood as "missions" -- outposts of the Western Church in some far-flung place. As Christian witness became more incarnated on six continents, there has been a movement from the church's missions, to the mission of the Church, and now to the mission of God or missio Dei.

NB: The success of the 19th-century missions has something to do with the current conflict over human sexuality in the Anglican Communion, correct?

ID: Oh, absolutely. But I don't see it necessarily as a conflict.

NB: Why not?

ID: Well, there are indeed conflicts with respect to the particular differences over human sexuality. But the real question has to do with the plurality cultural contexts in which Anglicanism is now located. I tend to see our present situation as the logical outgrowth of the work of the Holy Spirit. The Anglican Communion is moving from a historically mono-cultural, Christian experience of a North Atlantic Alliance, to a radically multi-cultural, diverse family of churches.

More discussion here

Bishops of 51 American and African dioceses meeting

The Living Church offers some more details on the conference of American and African bishops currently attending a six day conference in Spain organized and funded by Trinity Wall Street:

Forty bishops representing 22 dioceses of The Episcopal Church are participating with bishops from 29 Anglican dioceses in Africa at a six-day conference in Madrid meant to foster closer links between north and south in the Anglican Communion.
...
Ten of the 12 Anglican provinces in Africa are represented, according to Diane Reed, manager of promotion and public relations at Trinity. The event is closed to media, and Ms. Reed said she did not have permission to release the names of the participants. However, a Trinity press release noted the archbishops of Central Africa, the Congo, Southern Africa, Burundi, and Brazil were present for a Eucharist July 22 at Madrid’s Iglesia Episcopal de España.
Read it here.

More of the interview with Sentamu

The Telegraph today has another Jonathan article on his interview with the Archbishop of York. In it Sentamu reveals he is a fan of Harry Potter. More extensive quotations are given on his view of the fissures in the Anglican Communion:

He warned the leaders of the conservative Global South group that they would be in danger of putting themselves outside the worldwide Church if they carried out their threats to boycott the Lambeth Conference next year.
...
"As long as someone does not deny the very basic doctrines of the Church - the creation, the death, the resurrection of Christ and human beings being made in the image of God - then the rest really helps but they are not the core message.

"And I haven’t found that in Ecusa or in Canada, where I was recently, they have any doubts in their understanding of God which is very different from anybody. What they have quarrelled about is the nature of sexual ethics."

He nevertheless emphasised that Dr Williams does expect those who attend Lambeth to abide by the decision-making processes of the Anglican Communion.

"The Archbishop of Canterbury is very clear that he still reserves the right to withdraw the invitations and that those who are invited are accepting the Windsor process and accepting the process about the covenant."

But in another sentence, he said that attending Lambeth is not also a test of orthodoxy. "Church regulations and Church legislation should not stand in the way of the gospel of love your neighbour. You are members of one body and therefore you should listen to one another and find a way out. I want to say to both sides, you would do well to come to the Lambeth Conference for us to hammer out our differences."

The Living Church reports today that
A spokesman for the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is on sabbatical until September, said Archbishop John Sentamu was not speaking on behalf of Archbishop Rowan Williams, but instead offering his own reflections on current events.

Postcards from Emmaus

Earlier this week, the Cafe reported on the meeting taking place in Spain between bishops of the Global South and bishop of the Episcopal Church in the states.

Trinity Church on Wall Street in NY underwrote much of the expense of the program and is today featuring news about the results on their website:

"The Trinity Grants Program convenes this week the 'Walking to Emmaus Consultation,' bringing together bishops and deans from the United States and countries in Africa who are actively engaged in ongoing mission partnerships. To deepen our understanding of the theology of mission and the role of current mission partnerships in the Anglican Communion, site editor Nathan Brockman recently spoke with Ian Douglas, Angus Dun Professor of Mission and World Christianity at the Episcopal Divinity School."

If you go to the site linked below, you'll find numerous video postcards from the participants.

Read the rest here: Trinity Church - The Theology of Mission: A Conversation

(Via .)

Archbishop of Kaduna installed as a Six Preacher

From the Anglican Communion News Service:

The Most Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the Anglican Archbishop of the Province of Kaduna and Bishop of Kaduna diocese, was installed as a Six Preacher [Thursday] during Evensong by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan Williams, and the Very Revd Robert Willis, the Dean of Canterbury. The appointment is for five years and may be renewed. Archbishop Idowu-Fearon replaces Canon Dr John Polkinghorne, who has retired as a Six Preacher. Recent Six Preachers include Bishop John Robinson and Prof A J Mason, the translator of many hymns.

Archbishop Idowu-Fearon was born in 1949 in Nigeria. Although he trained
briefly as a soldier, he soon decided that he wished to serve God as a
priest and was ordained in 1971, becoming a bishop in 1990. He has a
doctorate degree in Islamic studies, with special interest in
Christian-Muslim relations, and is married to Comfort; they have two
sons, Ibrahim and Dquda, and a daughter Ninma.

"We have already come to know Archbishop Josiah as a friend from his
time spent teaching in our International Study Centre to the Canterbury
Scholars course" said Robert Willis earlier today. "This appointment -
one of the first from the wider Anglican Communion - enhances the
concept of the teaching ministry at Canterbury Cathedral that was so
firmly laid down by Cranmer at the time of the Reformation". "I feel
humbled by this appointment" Archbishop Idowu-Fearon said yesterday
before the service, "remembering that this ministry was founded by
Archbishop Cranmer. Being a Six Preacher will give me a sense of
belonging to the community at Canterbury Cathedral which has existed for
over 1,400 years - my own Diocese of Kaduna is only 50 years old! I hope
that this recognition will help me to be an ambassador for Christ, not
just within the Anglican Communion, but to my Muslim neighbours".

The view from Nigeria

Archbishop Peter Akinola has given an interview to The Guardian newspaper in Nigeria, which portrays him as "a lone voice in the crusade against the attempt to re-write the scripture by some Anglicans in Europe and South America, with the admission of people who practise homosexuals as priests and even bishops in the church." Readers accustomed to seeing Akinola playing to a Western audience through the filter of Martyn Minns, will find these unfiltered remarks, playing to a Nigerian audience, enlightening. This one in particular:

We cannot say that we are in a communion and allow whatever they say to just go like that. Let me also say this: that in our human existence in this world, there was a time Africans were slaves; but we came out of it. But what again followed? Political slavery, under colonial administration. Somehow, we came out of it. Then economic slavery: World Bank, IMF would tell you what to do with your money and your own resources. Now, it is spiritual slavery and we have to resist this. They had us as human slaves, political slaves and economic slaves. They want to come for spiritual slaves. Now we won't accept it.

Episcope has pointed out that the archbishop seems not to have an especially firm grip on certain facts.

Mark Harris thinks, so we don't have to

The proprietor of the blog Preludium has assembled a comprehensive analysis on recent movements on the Anglican right. Sensing that the Archbishop of Catnerbury is not going to punish the North American Churches, several provinces, primarily in Africa, seem ready to break with Canterbury and form their own Communion. The question now is whether this is brinksmanship, or whether they will follow through on their threats.

Harris writes:

So long as the arguments were about whether or not TEC or the Anglican Church of Canada were to be part of the Anglican Communion as currently constituted, communion with Canterbury was seen as essential to being part of the Anglican Communion and being truly Anglican. Now that the arguments are about a reformed Communion (realignment writ large) all bets are off. Canterbury is a growing burden for this second sort of realignment.

And:

So at the moment the question as to whether being in communion with the see of Canterbury is or is not somehow essential to Anglicanism or to a "reformed Anglican Communion" stands. It is increasingly clear that the GSSC [that is, the Global South Steering Committee - ed.] and fellow travelers are going to say "no."

If this happens there will be at least two different sorts of worldwide Anglican entities, more if you count some of the currently international but not-in-communion bodies. There will at least be the Anglican Communion as now constituted, but smaller, and a Reformed Anglican Communion (also known as the New Improved Anglican Communion or Revised Standard Anglican Communion or whatever). It will be a hard day for all of us, but then we can get on with the Gospel, working with one another as need and concerns permit, finding in each other the deep reservoirs of prayer and thanksgiving that have always been there, exchanging with mutual regard such elements of missionary energy as seem fruitful, and so on.

Father Jake and Doug LeBlanc survey the Network scene

Father Jake is keeping an eye on the meeting of the Anglican Communion Network's annual council meeting in Texas.

He wonders, among other things, whether the Network's leaders have been less than truthful in portraying the purpose of their organization:

Bp. Duncan of Pittsburgh fielded questions. Many of the kinds of false accusations against TEC that we've grown used to hearing were tossed around. One point that Bp. Duncan made that I found most outrageous was the repetition of the line that the Network was launched to keep conservatives in TEC; it was never intended to lead them out. We've heard that line many times before. It is one of Kendall Harmon's favorite chants. The problem with it is that the facts just don't support such a statement.

A brief look at some of the things that the Network leaders have said among themselves over the last three or four years (since that organization came into being) makes it pretty clear that the intention to stay in TEC was, at best, a minority view. Instead, they committed to "guerrilla warfare."

For instance, there is this March 2004 email from Father Jim McCaslin, Dean of the Southeastern Convocation of the NACDP to all the Network leaders. Fr. McCaslin is upset that Don Armstrong, Executive Director of the Anglican Communion Institute, wants to maintain "the broadest appeal" for the Network, and is afraid that appeal "waters down our direction and commitment to the point that our ultimate purpose is compromised..." As an example of this compromise, McCaslin cites that "Don mentions 'exit' and 'parallel church' strategies negatively and a 'staying' strategy positively."

Meanwhile, Doug LeBlanc, in his coverage for the Living Church notes that Bishop Duncan, who once upon a time said the creation of the Network was all Rowan Williams' idea, now faults Williams for not coming to his rescue.

“Never, ever has he spoken publicly in defense of the orthodox in the United States,” Bishop Duncan said of the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, adding that “the cost is his office.

While Duncan seems to have made a decision to leave the Episcopal Church and break ties with the Archbishop of Canterbury, other Network bishops aren't so sure they want to follow LeBlanc reports.

After Bishop Duncan’s address, delegates to the council discussed a theological statement in support of the Common Cause Partnership, which they ratified. They also began discussing articles of incorporation for Common Cause Partnership. At the request of the Rt. Rev. James Stanton, Bishop of Dallas, the council delayed a ratification vote on the articles until voting on any proposed revisions to the Network’s charter.

Bishop Stanton stressed that Common Cause’s articles would commit the Network to actions that violate the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. On Tuesday, the council is scheduled to discuss a proposal to delete from its charter a reference to operating within the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church.

(Emphasis added.)

An update: Bishop Stanton's objections won the day.

Bishop Smith reports from Spain

The Right Rev. Kirk Stevan Smith of Arizona reports on his experiences this past week at the conference of American and African bishops sponsored by Trinity Church, Wall Street:

Unlike most conferences, there was no communique or statemant issued at the end of this gathering. That is because we did not come together to solve the problems of the Anglican Communion, but simply to get to know one another better.
...
One thing became especially clear to me. Our African brothers and sisters want us to come and see them! When I suggested in one meeting that the money spent on plane tickets might be better spent on funding various projects, I was quickly reminded that 'God created people before God created money!"

Read it here.

And here is video of Bishop Smith from Spain.

Update: In the latest e-Communique from the Diocese of Virginia, Bishop Lee writes of the Spain conference,

[It] enabled mission partners to talk about what we can learn from the dynamism of the African Church and what we can give to strengthen the Church in its mission. Our partner, the Rt. Rev. Daniel Deng Bul, the Bishop of the Diocese of Renk in the Sudan, was there and we talked about our longstanding partnership and how to strengthen it.
Bishop Lee also writes of "developing partnerships" with Diocese of Kumasi in Ghana and Diocese of Central Tanganyika in Tanzania.

A post-congregational future?

Tobias Haller offers his usual erudite and cogent analysis of where the Anglican right seems to be heading. About the immediate future of the Anglican Communion he concludes:

Some who have been part of this Anglican Communion until now have already made it clear they see a different future for themselves. As they are not forsaking Christ, but only this fellowship, I can wish them Godspeed. They are not lost; merely detached. Time will tell if these branches will be grafted onto other stocks, gathered into a bundle, or planted separately, where they may thrive — or not. They may eventually be grafted back to the stock that gave them life.

But notice too an earlier point that he makes:

It also strikes me that we are seeing, in the development of the Network, the final collapse of a geographical rootedness to the church. We are entering the world of the virtual church, the Church of the Five Faves, the church not of geographical and terrestrial space, but of affinity: Ecclesiastical MySpace.

Sometimes in the midst of a controversy, a social trend emerges, that, in itself, has nothing to do with the controversy. This is a case in point. While words like globalization and decentralization are tossed around in self-justifying fashion by Peter Akinola, Martyn Minns and their claque, who believed they are authorized to claim the property of other churches, the deeper story is that some scholars believe the West is heading toward a post-denominational and perhaps post-congregational Christian future in which people are able to find the ingredients for a spiritual life on the internet, and then mix them into recipes of their own devising in their own homes, or with small groups of friends.

This is a more threatening development to the way most Western churches conceive of themselves than anything the Akinolists can muster.

Nigeria to appoint a bishop for England?

Thinking Anglicans has a report of an article published in the Church of England Newspaper that claims there is evidence that Anglican Province of Nigeria is preparing to appoint a missionary bishop for Great Britain in a manner similar to the bishop appointed for CANA congregations here in North America. Quoting Religious Intelligence:

A new bishop to be appointed by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola could be consecrated before next year’s Lambeth Conference if plans succeed. A source describing himself as a ‘worker in the Nigerian diocese’ said he was aware of such plans and that such a person would be employed as a ‘mission co-ordinator’.

Rumours regarding the possibility of such a role have been circulating over the last few months but this is the first time it has been confirmed by a clergy member from Nigeria.


There was a previous report of this possibility on Scott Gunn's blog, InclusiveChurch.

An additional rumor that is floating around, but which we here at The Lead have yet to find sourced so it may not be credible, is that the Rev. Canon Dr. Christopher Sugden is the likely candidate.

Read the rest here.

The Archbishop of York is a Christian

"The orthodox voice of the multitude is drowned out and ignored in Anderson’s analysis in favour of selective quotation from the fringe." So says the Rev. Arun Arora, director of communications for the Archbishop of York, in a cogent dissection of an essay by the Rev. David Anderson of the Church of Nigeria, recently published in the Church of England Newspaper. Arora notices in Anderson and others a "rush to say something (anything?) that will place TEC upon the top of a heretical bonfire."

Read it all.

New bishop for Iran

Mark Harris at Preludium reports:

Announcement has come that Bishop Azad Marshall was installed as sixth Bishop at St Paul's Church, Tehran on Sunday August 5. At least the following bishops and representatives of bishops from elsewhere in the communion were present for the service: Bishop Michael Nazir Ali of Rochester, representing the Archbishop of Canterbury , Archbishop John Chew (South East Asia), Bishop Suheil Dawani, Bishop of Jerusalem, Bishop Paul Butler of Southampton, Bishop Riah, former Bishop of Jerusalem,and a representative of the Bishop of Oxford.

Support and prayers are needed for this church as it ministers in Iran. The presence of bishops from around the world reveals that they are not alone even when feeling isolated. Harris reminds us that this is the heart of being in the Anglican Communion.

Read it all here

Click here for a photo from the installation.

acns4307.jpg

Communique from the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East here

Speaking the truth in love

The Rt. Rev. Jon Bruno, bishop of Los Angeles reports on his visit to the conference Way to Emmaus sponsored by Trinity Church, NYC. The focus on mission that unites us gave him new insight into the state of the Anglican Communion. In the Diocesan clergy newsletter, The Angelus, he offers his reflection on the event.

The current climate in the Anglican Episcopal family of churches is described by the internet blogs and some organizations' websites as anxious, tense and desperate. A 'reality check' opportunity in the last days of July found a considerably different encounter taking place, one drenched in the graceful spirit of mutual responsibility, happening in a monastery guest house in El Escorial Spain. Those present were from, of all places, the U.S.A. and Africa. Could it be happening? Yes, it happened, and thanks be to God, mission to a weary world was its focus.

Bishop Bruno hopes that this will be a new model of doing business as a Communion,
"a trademark minus pronouncements and press conferences; not worrying about the perfectly crafted communiqué but liberating us all, big time. People spoke the truth in love. That's not just a phrase, but an attitude that was displayed in session after session."

He continues, "I felt so aware of those around me each day. Our small groups became more like prayer cells, not stranger, but pilgrims. They also became a safe place for honesty and clarity. This is so refreshing in this time in our history, when people who are being open are demonized. As Anglicans we claim John 8:32 as our motto, emblazoned on the Compass Rose, albeit in Greek; "The Truth Shall Make You Free!" Maybe we should have multi-language versions to help us own the message."

Read it all here, at Susan Russell's blog.

Other coverage on the conference at The Lead from Episcopal Cafe here and here

Lavabo anyone?

From Anglicans Online:

....at this point in the service, an acolyte approached each of the dozen robed people assembled around the altar in turn. He bowed, but didn't offer a towel or a bowl. Instead, he proffered what appeared to be a two generous squirts from a pump-action hand-sanitizer bottle. The vested personages rubbed their hands together solemnly with disinfecting earnestness, and bowed as the acolyte moved on his way. It was a little astonishing when it happened, and in addition to taking a very long time (the service halted as the process continued, and we didn't make our way to the Sursum corda until all had scrubbed and bowed) it smelled bad. Instead of the usual church odors of incense, musty paper or mothballs, we smelled Purell. The whole thing was jarring to our sensibilities in its novelty and curious solemnity. We have never since seen the Solemn Choral Application of the Hand Sanitizer, but it has given us much occasion for thought and mirth since then.
Read it all here.

Lambeth and Sydney

So, in the Living Church, we have...

The bishops of the Diocese of Sydney have told Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams that they will not respond to his invitation to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion’s bishops until they learn how The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops responds to the primates’ communiqué.

If the bishops who participated in the consecration of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson as Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire attend Lambeth, the bishops of Sydney might not, Archbishop Peter Jensen and his five suffragans said.

Writing to Archbishop Williams on July 30 [posted here; see the line "A reply had been requested by the end of July." under the post dated August 10], Sydney’s bishops thanked him for their invitation to the 2008 gathering, saying “it would give us a great deal of joy to be able to join you” in Canterbury. However, “the timing of the invitation has proved difficult,” they explained, because they were first “looking for the response” of the American House of Bishops before giving their final answer.

“In view of the real hesitations that we experience in joining with those who have consecrated Bishop Gene Robinson, and with others who have allowed for the blessing of same-sex unions, and given the significance of these events, we feel that we cannot give an answer to your kind invitation until later in the year,” they stated.

That's here.

And in response, writes Ruth Gledhill in the Times in this brief:

The deadline for bishops to respond to their invite to the Lambeth Conference has been extended, according to a report in the Church of England Newspaper tomorrow. The extension comes after Sydney's six bishops told the Archbishop of Canterbury that they could not reply to the invite until they knew the response of American bishops to demands made by Primates in February at Dar es Salaam.

But the Living Church report says the deadline extension is not related to the Sydney announcement, but rather that "because some bishops 'have stated they had not received their invitations yet,'" per the Rev. Canon James Rosenthal.

Archbishop of York Speaks Again

John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, has become quite vocal on the current crisis facing the Anglican Communion. Most recently, he was interviewed by Stephen Crittendon of the Australian Broadcasting Company. Here are some highlights from the transcript of the interview:

Stephen Crittenden: On another issue, Archbishop Sentamu, where do you stand in this seemingly endless debate about gay clergy and gay bishops that's breaking the Anglican communion apart?

John Sentamu: I think, for myself, that the 1998 resolution was very clear on where the church stood, and it actually invited everybody to engage in the listening process to gay and lesbian people. I still think it was not a good thing for the Episcopal church, while we are still in conversation, to proceed the consecration of Jim (sic) Robinson. I happen to think they actually pre-empted the conversation and the discussion. Now what I don't think should happen now [is] that the whole question of gay and lesbian people -- when we said we should listen to their experiences -- should now become the kind of dominant theological factor for the whole of the communion. Because really the communion, at the heart of it, has got to do a number of things. While on one hand upholding Christian teaching, [it] must also be very loving and kind towards gay and lesbian people because that's part of the resolution. And it must also continue to listen. And I'm not so sure, when some people speak as if the debate has been concluded, or we cannot engage with this, you're being very faithful to the resolution.


Secondly, the Windsor Report has made it very clear that the four instruments of unity -- that is, Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Primates Meeting -- should be the kind of instrument that actually allows all of us to talk. So those who now say, for example, that they don't want to come to the Lambeth Conference in 2008 because there may be people from ECUSA , well all I want to say is that church history has always taught us that churches have always disagreed. I mean, over the nature of Christ, the salvation of Christ, there were bitter, bitter, bitter disagreements in the early church, but everybody turned up at those ecumenical councils to resolve their differences. So my view would be, if you're finding this quite difficult, please do not stop the dialogue and the conversation.

Stephen Crittenden: Well indeed, you've warned -- just in the last few days --warned the conservative bishops of the global south that if they don't come to Lambeth, they'd effectively be severing themselves from the rest of the communion. That's a bit tough, isn't it?

John Sentamu: Well, the Lambeth Conference is an invitation from the Archbishop of Canterbury to all bishops of the Anglican Communion to come to Lambeth and talk of matters of common concern. Now if there is already a fracture within the communion, I would have thought everybody would want to turn up in order to work out how we as a communion are going to go forward. Secondly, the Primates Meeting in Tanzania set out a fairly clear way ahead in its communiqué, as well as the whole question of the covenant. Now if we're going to continue to talk about the covenant at Lambeth Conference, and some people absent themselves from this, what is it that actually they think they're going to be achieving? You see, again I want to challenge them in terms of the debate about the nature of Christ and the salvation of Christ -- no church in the seven Ecumenical Councils absented themselves from it, because they were trying to represent the faith as they saw it. And only by people meeting around the table and having a conversation are you likely to find some kind of thing. I think the thing I was reacting to was a question that some people were planning an alternative Lambeth Conference, and my view was there can be no alternative Lambeth Conference, because the Lambeth Conference is always at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury in line with the four instruments of unity. And I cannot see an alternative, actually, for another Lambeth Conference. I mean that's the logic for it.

Stephen Crittenden: Or if you're going to have an alternative Lambeth Conference, you can't pretend at the same time that you're not pushing the whole communion towards schism, can you?

John Sentamu: You can't. You just can't. That to me is the logic, and the Windsor process was very clear of the need first of all for the Episcopal Church as well as the church in Canada, to actually express regret. But you know it went on also and said that those Primates in other provinces should also desist from going into the other people's provinces, and that hasn't actually been observed yet, and it was re-emphasised again at the Primates' meeting in Tanzania. So my view is to say to both sides, 'Come on, hold your fire. Let's get together the communion and gather at Canterbury and go through our conversation properly with Bible study, prayer, and reflection. And don't cut yourself off at this particular point, when what is needed is listening, is discernment, is holding on to the very basic beliefs which we've all got.' And I want to say the only way that I may not turn up to a meeting is if suddenly everybody was saying that the Lambeth Conference is going to redefine the doctrine of salvation or the doctrine of the nature of Christ, or the doctrine of creation. Those are not on the agenda. Everybody believes those truths.

Read the entire trasncript, and listen to the interview here.

With the Archbishop of Canterbury on sabbatical, one wonders if the Archbishop of York is carrying Rowan Williams water on these issues.

What do we make of a slow response?

Responses to invitations to the Lambeth Conference are coming in slowly enough that the Anglican Communion office has waived the original deadline. A sign of impending schism, excessive caution or is the mail simply slow?

Jonathan Petre of the Telegraph writes that this is a sign of impending schism. Citing the words of the Archbishop of Sydney, who will follow the lead of certain African primates, and an evangelical Church of England Bishop, he says this says there may be a grand snubbing of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Last week the Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Rev Peter Jensen, wrote to Dr Williams. The conservative evangelical said he and his five assistant bishops could not yet say whether they would come.

He said their decision would depend on the attitude of the liberal leadership of the American branch of the worldwide Church, which has been given until Sept 30 to reverse its pro-gay agenda.

And whose fault will in be if these Bishops decline to go to Lambeth? Why, the Americans, of course!

Archbishop Jensen indicated he would take the lead from the African conservatives. He will not attend the conference with the Americans unless they agree to toe the predominantly conservative line on homosexuality.

But a careful read of the article indicates that the number of Bishops who have either publicly declined or have expressed reservations is rather small. Also, the Bishops quoted as making dire predictions have overstated their numbers in the past.

What is not clear is what a typical level of participation at Lambeth might be. Readers must be alert to the reasons a bishop might decline to take part. For example, one can easily envision Bishops of smaller or poorer dioceses declining to take part because it is just too expensive. A simple percentage of attendees versus total number of bishops invited tells us very little. People interested in a particular cause should only count those who say out loud that they won't take part because of a pang of conscience or out of principle, before declaring either a schism or the failure of the conference.

Reading some of the advance reactions to the alleged slow response gives one the impression that there are some who are hoping that Lambeth will be a failure. These stories may be an example of the game of shaping expectations in advance of an actual outcome.

Do nothing to change your life

Ekklesia reports that Dr John Sentamu, the Anglican Archbishop of York, has announced that he is to send every MP in the country some summer reflection material: The 100-Minute Bible and a guide to slowing down, Do Nothing to Change Your Life

The guide, written by the Bishop of Reading, the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, and released earlier this year (2007), is entitled Do Nothing To Change Your Life. The book urges its readers to create pauses in daily life to benefit their own, and society’s, health and well being. The book argues this fresh perspective of relishing every moment with a greater attentiveness will improve our relationship with God.

Do Nothing to Change Your Life is a passionate plea for the nation to ditch endless ‘to do’ lists, constant streams of emails, and an increasingly ‘24/7’ culture. The book was published following news that an international study had shown that the pace of life in our cities has increased by 10 per cent in the last decade. The bishop’s warning about the danger of not taking rest and play seriously is a timely one.

The 100 Minute Bible gives a synopsis of every book in the Bible and takes less than two hours to read

Read it all here

Report on the low-key conference in Spain

The Anglican Church of Canada News reports on the conference in Spain in late July where African, American and Canadian bishops had the opportunity to meet with their companion bishops. An excerpt:

At one of the first plenary sessions, the organizers announced (to much applause) that no official statements would come from the meeting. Instead, lots of time was scheduled for conversation, including meals, siestas, and "marketplace" encounters. "It was a great opportunity to have time to talk to African bishops who it would take me many months to go to," said Dr. Johnson. "To have them all at the same consultation, with enough time to sit and have conversations, was an absolute gift."

The conference was funded by Trinity Wall Street.

Read it all here.

Rwandan bishop: satanic behavior of "whites as whites"

Via allAfrica.com comes a Rwandan News Agency (RNA) reports on what Bishop John Rucahana - Anglican head of the Shyira Diocese said in what is described as a "lengthy interview on state radio." From the RNA report:

Williams [Archbishop of Canterbury] wrote in the letter seen by RNA: "This is not a question of asking anyone to disassociate themselves at this stage from what have been described as the missionary initiatives of your Provinces [r.e., AMiA, etc.]. I appreciate that you may not be happy with these decisions, but I feel that as we approach a critical juncture of the life of the Communion, I must act in accordance to the clear guidance of the instruments of the Communion."

"It is them that abandoned the faith, the law and doctrine of the church. They also do not believe in the teachings of the bible", Bishop Rucahana said Tuesday in a lengthy interview on state radio.

"Their behaviours do not conform to the religious conduct of the Anglican church because it is them that ordained homosexuals as bishops not Africans".

Bishop Rucahana said the Anglican Church in Rwanda will not be pushed into adopting the satanic behaviour of the "whites because they are whites."

Read it here.http://allafrica.com/stories/200708150362.html

Chubu Diocese of Japan asks for help

The International Cooperation Committee of the Chubu Diocese of the Anglican/Episcopal Church in Japan is opposing proposed changes to the Japanese constitution and is asking for help from others to put pressure on the Japanese government. In an Open Letter they write:


It is widely believed that changing Article 9 ... will have a major impact in Asia and globally, and there is deep concern in the region with regard to the effect the change would have on stability in the region ; the integration of the Japanese Defence Forces into US military strategy, and the distancing of Japan from its Asian neighbours.

One of the reasons given for changing Article 9 is that Japan would be able to take part in UN ‘peacekeeping’ operations. In Iraq, the Japanese forces were welcomed because of Article 9; the Iraqis knew the Japanese Defence Forces were not coming to fight. Japan can have a special role in these situations because of Article 9. Changing the clause would be discarding the present clause before we know its full potential, depriving Japan of the opportunity to make a contribution to countries in situations of conflict, which no other country can.

If we don’t dissuade Japan’s Abe government from changing Japan’s Peace Constitution, not only will the world be losing a powerful instrument for peace, but the change may also precipitate a war in Asia, in which China would almost certainly be involved, and to which the US would almost certainly respond.

Are you prepared to sit by and watch a Third World War begin? If not, we ask you to put pressure on your government to discourage the Japanese Government from amending Article 9 of Japan’s Peace Constitution.

Read it all here

Archbishop of Ireland: the Anglican Covenant and Scripture

In a recent sermon, the Most Reverend Alan Harper, the Archbishop of Armagh, Church of Ireland, spoke of the proposed Anglican Covenant and current controversies about interpretation of scripture. Preaching on the Feast of Mary Magdalene he compared the boulder blocking the tomb of Jesus to literalist interpretation of scripture. He said, "Bibliolatry is a boulder threatening to obscure the dynamic and contemporary truth of the resurrection. It is also the mother of dogmatic fundamentalism. Love for the scriptures is tainted when scripture and not God becomes the object of worship."

He concludes:

I have yet to meet any "leader" who does not treat with the utmost respect and indeed reverence the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. I have heard no one in this crisis deny the fundamental tenets of the faith as Anglicans have received them. Yet I have heard believing Christians attack other Christians for not believing precisely as they themselves believe. Equally, I have heard believing Christians attack other Christians for not attaching the weight they themselves attach to this biblical text compared with that.

This is not the way of Christ; it is the way of fallen humanity. It is a boulder of our own creation and I do not know who will help us to roll it away.

Some fear, and I am among them, that an Anglican Covenant, unless it is open and generous and broad, may simply become a further means of obstruction: a boulder, rather than a lever to remove what obscures and impedes our access to the truth that sets us free.

The truth is that the tomb is empty and we are called to live a new life in which resurrection and not death is the new reality; a life freed from the narrow constraints of human expectation, predictability and conformity; a life that confidently expects the disclosure of new vistas offered by the God whose very nature and purpose is to make all things new and make us part of His new creation.

Throughout history the way of the Church has been strewn with boulders of her own making. Those boulders conceal from us what God has already done and is continuing to do. They are boulders compounded of pride, hypocrisy and conceit, envy, hatred and malice and all uncharitableness.

From such things, good Lord, deliver us! And deliver especially this tortured Anglican Communion of Churches.

Read it all here

Thanks to Admiral of Morality.

Bishops' meeting seeks clarity

There was a meeting of seventeen bishops of the Episcopal Church last week in advance of the meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans next month. The bishops present consisted of a group from the ACN (Anglican Communion Network) dioceses and a group of additional bishops who have been described as "Windsor bishops" due to their public support for the process laid out in the Windsor Report.

The Living Church has details from their meeting:

"Bishops who have made a public commitment to support the Windsor Report have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to be clear and articulate in explaining what the consequences will be if the House of Bishops fails to give the assurances sought by the primates.

...During the Texas meeting the bishops decided not to issue a public statement and agreed not to discuss meeting details. This is the fifth time that ‘Windsor bishops’ have met at Camp Allen to consider the Windsor Report and The Episcopal Church’s response to it. At previous meetings the bishops have issued statements and The Living Church was assured by several participants at the Aug. 9-10 gathering that the overall goals and objectives remain consistent with what has been previously published"

Read the full article here.

Tony Clavier has written a column with some additional background on the meeting and his own hopes that they not issue a statement as a result.

African archbishop travels to Bay area

The Contra Costa Times has a news story today about a visit by the Archbishop of South Africa planned for this fall:

"The archbishop of South Africa will teach, pray and talk with parishioners in Walnut Creek -- and, it is hoped, return home with a renewed appreciation of diverse views.

He will visit St. Paul's Episcopal Church Oct. 15 for a meditative Taizé service, a meal, a teaching, 'and I hope, some dialogue,' said the Rev. Sylvia Vasquez, spiritual leader of St. Paul's.

The archbishop, the Most Rev. Njongonkulu Ndungane, will be in the Bay Area to participate in the Oct. 14 to 20 annual convention of the California diocese. Bishop Marc Andrus, head of the diocese, invited Ndungane while in Africa as part of a peace mission last March.

The invitation is in character for Andrus, who has matched California churches with sister churches in Africa in an effort to strengthen the relationship between worshippers torn over such issues as women's ordination and same-sex unions.

'The African archbishops usually don't respond well to our presence anywhere,' Vasquez said. 'The only way we'll be able to move forward is through dialogue.'

Disagreements over the ordination of women and gays have strained relations between some dioceses, primarily in Uganda, and the west.
The solution is dialogue, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said in a February address. The divide has been worsened 'by one group forging ahead with change in discipline and practice, and the other insistently treating the question as the sole definitive marker of orthodoxy,' he said at that time."

Read the full story here.

Lambeth RSVP's

Church Times Leader about the Lambeth invitations and possible boycott by some bishops:

"THE ROOMS are booked, but are the guests coming? The uncertainty surrounding attendance at next year’s Lambeth Conference continues, as various conservative groupings realise the political capital that can be made from hesitation. The bishops in Sydney, advised by their standing committee to come but to whinge (News, 29 June), look as if they will hold out until after the US House of Bishops meets next month to debate formally the demands of the Primates, made in Dar es Salaam, that they turn aside from the path that led to the election of Bishop Gene Robinson, a non-celibate gay man. Several African bishops have indicated already that they do not intend to come; yet more are still to be heard from.

There is talk this week of a deadline ignored and an Archbishop undermined. Yet when Dr Williams wrote to the Primates in July, he said no more than: ‘It would be a great help if these replies were received by 31 July 2007.’ As we have said (Leader comment, 25 May), the US bishops have been invited in the full knowledge that their decision in September might well be to defy the Primates’ strictures. Nobody seriously believes that Dr Williams will withdraw their invitation, though that will not stop some from pressing him to do so."

From here: Lambeth bookings

Archbishop of Nigeria - agonizing

Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria has issued a treatise of his understanding of the history of the Anglican Communion: A Most Agonzing Journey Towards Lambeth 2008. He seeks the following for participation in Lambeth and the Anglican Communion:

“We Anglicans stand at a crossroads. One road, the road of compromise of biblical truth, leads to destruction and disunity. The other road has its own obstacles [faithfulness is never an easy way] because it requires changes in the way the Communion has been governed and it challenges [all] our churches to live up to and into their full maturity in Christ.”

The first road, the one that follows the current path of The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, is one that we simply cannot take because the cost is too high. We dare not sacrifice eternal truth for mere appeasement; we cannot turn away from the source of life and love for a temporary truce.

The other road is the only one that we can embrace. It is not an easy road because it demands obedience and faithfulness from each one of us. It requires a renewed commitment to the Historic Biblical Faith. For those who have walked away from this commitment, especially The Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada, it requires repentance, a reversal of current unscriptural policies and credible assurances concerning such basic matters as:

The Authority and Supremacy of Scripture.
The Doctrine of the Trinity
The person, work and resurrection of Jesus the Christ
The acknowledgement of Jesus as Divine and the One and only means of salvation
The doctrines of sin, forgiveness, reconciliation, and transformation by the Holy Spirit through Christ.
The sanctity of marriage and teaching about morality that is rooted in the Bible.
These are not onerous burdens or tiresome restrictions but rather they are God’s gift, designed to set us free from the bondage of sin and give us the assurance of life eternal.

John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, describes the Christian life as a journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. On his journey, Pilgrim is confronted by numerous decisions and many crossroads. The easy road was never the right road. This is our moment of truth.

+ Peter Abuja

Fr. Jake discusses the article point by point and comes to some different conclusions. Although both Fr. Jake and Archbishop Akinola see us on on journey, Jake concludes:

The easy road would be to exclude a minority group for the sake of unity. But if we did that, we would reveal ourselves as unworthy of the claim to be the sacrament, the outward and visible sign, of Jesus Christ, who has set the prisoners free. Will we be Christians, or will be just another exclusive club? This is indeed our moment of truth.


Stephen Noll, Vice Chancellor for Uganda Christian University calls Archbishop Akinola the "Jeremiah" of our day.

Thinking Anglicans also has a discussion of the article.

All eyes seem turned towards the next date on the Anglican Communion calendar, the September meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Bishops will meet in New Orleans. Many of the bishops and their spouses are also taking time to work in recovery efforts for the Gulf Coast. The bishops and spouses choir is making a CD to raise funds for the recovery. Many bishops are bringing gifts to assist the effort. They are encouraging each bishop to bring $10,000.00 from his or her diocese to provide the much needed funds to help the churches and residents of the Gulf Coast.

Maybe the mission work will help sort out our priorities.

Episcopal Life Onlinehas a new update on New Orleans recovery

Status of Canadian same sex blessings confusing

The 2007 General Synod meeting in Canada has left mixed messages to the dioceses of the Anglican Church of Canada on the status of performing same sex blessings. Does the legislation prohibit or allow blessings? Since it is not in conflict with core doctrine can diocese or clergy be disciplined if they go ahead before the next triennial Synod clarifies things.

The Anglican Journal reports, "Conflicting interpretations of the ramifications of General Synod’s recent decisions around same-sex blessings have led the bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada to consult with their chancellors."

Among the questions that have arisen: What does the approved motion stating that “the blessing of same-sex unions is not in conflict with the doctrine of the Anglican Church of Canada” mean? Can clergy and dioceses now conduct same-sex blessings? Some bishops have issued pastoral letters asking clergy not to conduct same-sex blessings – can priests be disciplined if they ignore this directive? How can clergy be disciplined if General Synod already declared that same-sex blessings are “not in conflict” with the core doctrine of the church? What does the defeat of the motion affirming the authority of dioceses to offer same-sex blessings mean?

Read the article here.

Hard Gospel on TV in Ireland

According to the Church of Ireland news, "A service by the Church of Ireland Hard Gospel Project is to be shown on RTE television on the last Sunday of this month, 26 August 2007.

It will be the first time the Hard Gospel Project has featured on RTE One's Sunday morning worship programme. It will document the role of the Hard Gospel, an anti-sectarian project born out of the long-running Drumcree stand-off between the Orange Order in Portadown and the mainly nationalist residents of the town's Garvaghy Road.

The Hard Gospel Project represents a commitment by the Church of Ireland to examine not only the challenges of faith which arise for Christians in the “vertical” relationship in loving God but also the practical implications for the outworking of faith in “horizontal” relationships as expressed in Christ’s command to “love your neighbour”.

The Hard Gospel Project is the Church of Ireland’s response to the challenge to speak truth to ourselves, as well as to the world we live in. Its core aim is clear - to strengthen the church for effective witness in a divided and changing society.

It asks the questions:

How should we as a Christian church regard ourselves and our role in a rapidly changing, multi-faith and multicultural 21st century Ireland (north and south)?

How should we as individuals in the context of 21st century Ireland (north and south) regard ourselves and our responsibilities as:

a) Individual Christians

b) Members of the Church of Ireland c) Citizens of a wider community and society - living with our diverse “neighbours”?

Read more here and here.

Lambeth library goes online

Episcopal Life Online reports that the Lambeth library will join COPAC, which gives free access to the merged online catalogues of major University and National Libraries in the UK and Ireland, including the British Library.

The printed book collection of Lambeth Palace Library -- the historic library and record office of the Archbishops of Canterbury, and one of the oldest public libraries in the country -- has made its debut on an online catalogue to improve access to its holdings for researchers across the globe. The move means that readers can now access a list of Lambeth Palace Library's books alongside those of many British Universities -- including Oxford and Cambridge -- plus other major collections such as the British Library, Science Museum Library and the V&A National Art Library.

Lambeth Palace Library's holdings make it one of the key collections of Church history for researchers exploring the early Church to the present day, and it forms a major part of the national collection in the field of ecclesiastical history.

Read the story here.

Wales bill to allow ordination of women bishops criticized

Wales’ “flying bishop” has criticized that Church’s Bill to Enable Women to Be Ordained as Bishops, saying the proposed legislation is driven by a “post-1960s feminism” rather than sound doctrine according to George Conger in the Church of England newspaper.

The Provincial Assistant Bishop of Wales, the Rt. Rev. David Thomas said the legislation “rules out any possibility of a special episcopal jurisdiction being created for the sake of those who in conscience cannot agree to the ordination of women as bishops,” and was “completely unsatisfactory.”

The safeguards for those opposed to women priests were unclear. “While we could no doubt expect sincere expressions of goodwill, sympathy, etc. at the time of the Bill being passed, nothing would be spelt out about provision for us until a woman was actually on the point of being consecrated,” he said.

“There is no necessary progression from baptism to priestly/episcopal ordination,” Bishop Thomas said. “If such a progression did of necessity exist, the Christian life would presumably be a sort of religious ‘career path’. Such a concept can hardly be said to sit comfortably besides the Lord’s warning that those who follow him must deny themselves and take up their cross daily,” the bishop argued.

Read it all here.

Note: A "flying bishop" is one appointed to visit those who disagree with their own bishop over some issue and want someone who agrees with them to do confirmations and other episcopal acts.

Bishop Sisk on the real question before us

Bishop Mark Sisk, of the Diocese of New York has written a letter to his diocese about some of the issues facing the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church's relationship to the Communion. The blog "Admiral of Morality" has the full statement, which reads in part:

"The presenting question is: Will the Communion survive in its present form or won't it? To state the obvious: no one can answer that question with certainty. My personal guess is that the Communion will emerge from these struggles, changed but recognizable. I say this not because I think that the issues before us will simply drift away like smoke after a fire. I say this because the long history of the Church suggests a strong tendency to adapt to challenging circumstances rather than break apart over them. Following the American Revolution we in The Episcopal Church were left with no bishops and an unwillingness on the part of the Church of England to help us resolve that crisis. Yet, ultimately, a way was found to restore our claim to apostolic orders, and, in due course, we realized that by that act the Anglican Communion had been born.

The deeper question is this: Just what exactly is the problem anyway? Surprising to many people, serious-minded folks give very different answers. For some, perhaps for most, the answer as conceived by them is a simple matter of sexual morality: right or wrong. Others couch this dispute in terms of the authority of Scripture. Still others argue that not only does Scripture not speak with one voice to the actual question that is before us, but also the insights of science and experience of our faithful gay and lesbian brothers and sisters—integral members of our community—cannot simply be ignored. Yet others see this dispute through the lens of authority: Who has the right to decide? This, in turn, pushes others to state the problems in terms of polity—that is, the way we organize ourselves to make decisions and, at least by inference, obligate others by those decisions. And all this debate takes place within the context of a world of different contexts, a world which seems busily occupied in dividing and re-dividing itself along the countless fissures that are found in the bedrock of the human community.

In my view, it is a mistake to despair at all about this conflict. I am convinced that God works through our struggles to bring us, if we are faithful and charitable in those struggles, ever closer to the Divine Life that unifies all creation. We have no reason to despair. We have nothing to fear. We live in the arms of God's abiding love. God is working in us the Divine will. Through it all, I am convinced that our Episcopal Church has been strengthened, and I have confidence that the larger Anglican Communion, in whatever form it takes, will be strengthened as well."

Read the rest here: Admiral of Morality: The Bishop of New York: "The Presenting Question"

Bishop of El Salvador calls Anglicans to mutual aid

The Anglican Bishop of El Salvador (who is also the Primate of the Anglican Church of the region of Central America) has released a letter to the people of his province in light of the recent natural disasters of earthquake and hurricane in South and Central America. He calls on the people of his country and all the Anglican Provinces of the Americas to do what they can to help out in these difficult days:

"From our Anglican Church in El Salvador, we have been following the reports of so many recent disasters, such as the earthquake in Peru and the effects of Hurricane Dean. In Christian love we are praying for the people who are suffering from the effects of these disasters. We also pray for the force and witness of our relief and development institution that has already given so much help to these affected people, especially those in Peru hit by the earthquake.

Here in El Salvador, we know the suffering wrought by such disasters, the same as for other countries in the Province of the Anglican Church of the Region of Central America. It is for this reason, that through love for our Savior Jesus Christ, I make a call for solidarity to the people of our province, to our friends in the United States and Canada, and other parts of the world that, within each of our capacities, we can help our suffering brothers and sisters. The quantity of our donations is less important than our being truly united in our love for Christ.

Please send any donations to Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD). Even better, if you wish to designate specifically the donation, it can be earmarked for the Emergency Relief Fund. We can agree that God will give us in recompense 101%."

Read the rest: From the Archbishop of IARCA/Bishop of El Salvador

Who speaks for Africa?

The voice of the Global South apparently emanates not from Abuja, Nigeria, but from Fairfax, Virginia. The Church Times reports that Bishop Martyn Minns, not Archbishop Peter Akinola is the principal author of the recent letter from the Church of Nigeria that bears Akinola's name.

Pat Ashworth writes:

A BISHOP in the United States has been revealed as the principal author of a seminal letter to the Church of Nigeria from its Archbishop, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, which was published on Sunday.

The letter includes a suggestion that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s status as a focus of unity is “highly questionable”. It also refers to a “moment of decision” for the Anglican Communion, which is on the “brink of destruction”.

The document, “A Most Agonising Journey towards Lambeth 2008”, appears to express to Nigerian synods the personal anguish of Archbishop Akinola over his attendance at the Lambeth Conference.

But computer tracking software suggests that the letter was extensively edited and revised over a four-day period by the Rt Revd Martyn Minns, who was consecrated last year by Archbishop Akinola to lead the secessionist Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). Bishop Minns, along with the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, has not been invited to Lambeth.

Close examination of the document, tracing the authorship, editing history, and timing of changes, reveals about 600 insertions made by Bishop Minns, including whole new sections amounting to two-thirds of the final text. There is also a sprinkling of minor amendments made by Canon Chris Sugden of the conservative group Anglican Mainstream.

The significance of this development lies less in the fact that Akinola has a ghostwriter--the leaders of many organizations, ecclesial and secular have staff members who handle writing assignments for them.--than that what has long been portrayed as the authentic voice of African Anglicanism is, manifestly, not African, and perhaps never has been.

This revelation is likely to damage Akinola's already sagging prestige in Nigeria, where he may now be perceived as a mouthpiece for wealthy Westerners. And it is likely to damage his credibility with his fellow Primates, who were already weary of his practice of interupting their meetings to take counsel from Minns and Sugden.

Reactions to the Akinola/Minns letter

Mark Harris, writing at Preludium, has an analysis of what implications might be drawn as a result of the Church Times story that Archbishop Akinola's latest essay was re-written in large part by his CANA bishop, Martin Minns. The first of Mark's essays has to do with the larger implications of the issue of authorship. The second has to do with looking for a lens to put into perspective the most recent sets of writings coming out of the CANA/AMiA/ACN community:

"If the Archbishop's words are a mirror to the the realignment folk and dissenters in the US the circle is closed: The script noted in my previous posting is then augmented by a script with much longer preparation behind it: the script that says the whole of the Global South, all of Africa, and most of the Communion is full of life because they hold to the faith once delivered of the saints, biblical morality and sound doctrine, that the Northern churches are corrupted by rotten theology and worse morals, etc. If there is an outside script (touted as the 'voice' of the Communion,) and an inside script (touted as the voice of pain and suffering in TEC) the noise gets louder, but the source gets smaller.

(iv) If Minns and Duncan (or is it Anderson?) are the operators out and inside scripting away and planning the brave new reformation of the whole communion, nay the whole church universal, we might wish to see just what is behind the new face of Anglicanism sometimes touted as the Archbishop of Nigeria sometimes as the Moderator. Perhaps it is time to let Toto loose in the throne room. Perhaps it is time to pay attention to the man (or men) behind the curtain."

Read the rest of Mark's essays here.

Colin Coward, of Changing Attitudes (England) has posted his reactions and analysis which says, in part:

Colin Coward and Davis Mac-Iyalla (Changing Attitude England and Nigeria), Caro Hall (Integrity USA) and Scott Gunn (Inclusive Church) were present at the Primates’ Meeting at the White Sands Hotel in Tanzania, February 2007. Today’s report confirms the deep suspicions we developed as we observed the visits by Archbishop Peter Akinola to the first floor room where Martyn Minns, Chris Sugden, David Anderson and others met every day, all day. We speculated on what they were they doing which could possibly occupy so much time. One possibility was that they were waiting patiently for Archbishop Akinola to come and report to them (quite improperly) what had been taking place in the Primates Meeting next door. We suspect that this is indeed what the Archbishop did.

Today’s report reveals that they were clearly doing more than this. They were drafting material for Archbishop Akinola to take back to the Primates’ Meeting. They prepared an alternative text for the final Communique which Archbishop Akinola was given to present to the Primates. The final press conference on the Monday evening was delayed until nearly midnight, almost certainly because Akinola was arguing at length with the other Primates, desperately trying to force the Minns/Sugden/Anderson agenda on the other, mostly unwilling, Primates.

You can read Colin's full essay here. There is also a short piece by Davis Mac-Iyalla (Changing Attitudes Nigeria) on the site which asks questions of the sources of funding for some of the most recent activities of the Archbishop of Nigeria's office.

Update: Kendall Harmon has comments on the controversy, and some cautions about what the document in question might imply:

The important point about the article is that the author has raced to a conclusion without evidence. If I have a word document on my computer written by Bishop Salmon with changes in it (if the Word software indicates so), the changes were made on my computer but by whom they were made is still not known. Indeed, on a number of occasions Bishop Salmon has called me and made changes to the document with me on the phone. He was speaking, and I was typing. Yes, you guessed it, this has happened on a number of occasions. I can think of several where both Bishop Salmon and Bishop Skilton made multiple changes to the final text, which of course they both then signed. Every change came through my computer, but was made by them because they were concerned about every word. This is called care and collaboration, and it happens all over the church all the time

Further Update, a response by The Venerable AkinTunde Popoola, Director of Communications for the Church of Nigeria to the story in the Church Times has appeared on the Church of Nigeria's website:

It is very insulting and racist to infer that the Primate of All Nigeria is being dictated to. Is this in continuation of the ‘jamming’ of people opposing the agenda? I would have believed the ‘computer software’ story were it not for the allegation of ‘minor amendments’ by the Canon Chris Sugden who had nothing to do with the document. Abp. Akinola informed his senior staff and the Episcopal Secretary the need to highlight efforts at maintaining unity and the intransigence of the revisionists so that the Nigerian community is left in no doubt about who is ‘walking apart’ Along with his PA in Abuja, work started on the gathering of materials and relevant documents on 6th August, 2007. We used in addition to existing statements and my internet searches, Nigerian Episcopal meeting documents and TECUSA resolutions supplied respectively by our Episcopal Secretary, the Rt. Rev. Friday Imaekhia and a CANA priest, the Rev. Canon David Anderson. The draft of the statement was ready for correction by the primate on 9th August, 2007 who was however unable to correct it as he was about to travel. Abp. Akinola was in the US and Bahamas between 10th and 22nd August 2007. I sent the draft to him through the Rt. Rev Minns with a request for assistance in getting some online references which I could not easily locate.

Finally there is a piece summarizing reactions so far today on Ekklesia's site this morning. And a late afternoon update from the Rev. Susan Russell. And another by Tobias.

Archbishop Mwamba on the future of the Anglican Communion

As we move closer to September 30, 2007 deadline imposed by the Primates, it may be important to reflect on the thoughts of all of the African Primates, and not just the thoughts of those now making headlines. The Church Times reported this February on the keynote address made by Archbishop Musonda Mwamba of Botswana to the Ecclesiastical Law Society conference “The Anglican Communion: Crisis and Opportunity.” This address offered a different perspective than that expressed by other African primates, and is worth repeating:

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

. . . The minds of most African Anglicans were concentrated on life-and-death issues, and they were “frankly not bothered about the whole debate on sexuality”, he said.

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

The voice many people heard was the Church of Nigeria’s, a conservative voice, which embodied various streams of influence, and echoed the cultural abhorrence of homosexuality. It was “a voice of protest, which advocates separation rather than reconciliation”. Perhaps unconsciously, it was also influenced by interfaith strife in the country.

Charting the history leading to Nigeria’s rejection of the primacy of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop said that the influence of the Primate of All Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, went beyond Africa to the United States, where, through the creation of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), he had encouraged like-minded Episcopalians to cut ties with the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Bishop Mwamba described this as “a voice prepared to exclude those whose voices or views are deemed incompatible with the Bible, a voice relatively quiet in speaking out on life-and-death issues of poverty, AIDS, and responsible governance. But, having said all that, we must keep in mind that there are many bishops, clergy, and laity who do not accept all that this voice represents, and who nevertheless find themselves silenced.”

The Church of the Province of Southern Africa best exemplified the liberal voice, the Bishop suggested. Its bishops had recommended that questions of doctrine and morals should be handled through the structures of the Communion, and had concluded of “the mystery of human sexuality” that there was a need for deeper theological reflection and informing insights.


“The liberal voice in Africa sees the crisis in the Anglican Communion as diverting the attention of the Church from the major life-and-death issues in the world — hunger across the globe, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, HIV/AIDS, and other issues,” the Bishop said.

“The context in which the liberal voice speaks was born in the evils of the apartheid era. . . So the constitution of the rainbow people of South Africa is based on values of dignity, freedom, and equality, and does not permit ordinary citizens to discriminate against gays and lesbians.”

The moderate voice of Africa, “nicely snuggled between the liberal and the conservative”, was exemplified by the Church of the Province of Burundi. It had stated that it remained committed to the Anglican Communion on issues of sexuality.

Read it all here. Does the Archbishop's analysis still hold?

Provincial secretaries meet in Hong Kong

Twenty-nine Provincial Secretaries, including Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, met in Hong Kong for their sixth in a series of informal meetings started in the 1980s. Provincial Secretaries are key administrators for each province and the conference programme was designed to further their professional development, encourage them in their faith and ministry, increase knowledge and understanding of the challenges facing other Provinces and to strengthen bonds within the Communion. The Anglican Communion News Service published a statement from the meeting.

Each representative had time to brief colleagues on their own provinces. Provincial Secretaries from different parts of the world gave presentations on the distinctive roles they play in supporting Primates and Provinces in their decision making, financial management and support and development of ministries and staff. There were presentations and discussions on the particular difficulties facing Churches in places afflicted by civil war, conflict, unrest and disease. A number also spoke of situations where Christians face unjust treatment for their faith.

The Provincial Secretaries reflected on their role at the interface between Church and secular authorities and considered the variety of ways in which the Provinces of the Communion are seeking to manifest the love and mercy of Jesus Christ throughout their societies. They welcomed the strong commitment across the Communion to meeting the Millennium Development Goals. Time was devoted, both in plenaries and workshops, to considering specific issues affecting the mission of the Church, including evangelism, spirituality and changing patterns of ministry.

Bangladesh; Brazil; Burundi; Canada; Central Africa; Central American Region; England; Episcopal Church (USA); Hong Kong; Indian Ocean; Ireland; Japan; Jerusalem and the Middle East; Kenya; Melanesia; Mexico; Myanmar; Pakistan; Philippines; Rwanda; Scotland; South India; Tanzania; Uganda; Wales; West Africa; West Indies. The Anglican Churches in Cuba and Sri Lanka were also represented. Congo, Korea and Sudan had to send last minute apologies.

It seems that the secretaries are able to talk and carry on day to day life in the Communion in the midst of all the episco-drama.

Read it all here

Kenya adds bishops for US, UPDATE

The AP is reporting that two American priests were consecrated Thursday as Anglican bishops in Kenya.

Bill Atwood of Texas and William Murdoch of Massachusetts left the Episcopal Church -- the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion -- because it allows the ordination of gay priests.

"The gospel ... must take precedence over culture," said Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies, one of 10 Anglican leaders or representatives who attended the ceremony in Nairobi's All Saints Cathedral. "Homosexual practice violates the order of life given by God in Holy Scripture."

The spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, has asked African archbishops not to consecrate U.S. priests to help avoid a schism. Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said there had been no direct communication with Williams over the Thursday's ceremony.

Williams has no direct authority to force a compromise because each Anglican province is self-governing.

Archbishop Gomez is head of the Covenant Design Group named by Williams.

Read it all here

Andrew Carey - a leading evangelical and son of the former Archbishop of Canterbury has strong reservations about these extra-territorial consecrations:

To add to the Anglican chaos this week we have a further three consecrations of Americans to African provinces.

Bill Atwood, one of the new breed of independent shadowy Anglican fixers is to be consecrated by the Archbishop of Kenya on 30 August, together with the Rev Bill Murdoch, while the Rev John Guernsey receives the laying on of hands by the Archbishop of Uganda this weekend. According to my calculations when you add these three to the six Bishops of the Anglican Mission in America, and Bishop Martyn Minns who was consecrated by the Archbishop of Nigeria earlier this year, that makes 10 new bishops to serve disaffected conservative congregations in the Episcopal Church of the USA. In the meantime there continues to be talk about incursions by Nigeria onto English soil.

I’m not convinced about either the need for more mitres, or about the timing of all these consecrations.

Read his comments here

Sugden on Revolution in Anglicanism

Chris Sugden, writing in a British evangelical publication uses a new metaphor as a way to view the struggles and possible breakup in the Anglican Communion thusly:

"Revolution in common parlance is an overthrow of the existing order. But when a wheel has completed one revolution, a point on its circumference has returned to its point of origin. And a revolution is a return to the beginning, a restoration.

What we are in the middle of now in the Anglican Communion is not schism or separation, but a revolution. In the last decades, the Communion has been increasingly under the dominance of leadership which is over-influenced by the assumptions of western intellectual culture through the dominant role of the Church of England and ECUSA. People are now saying publicly that this unrepresentative dominance must end.

Archbishop Orombi of Uganda has said ‘However we come to understand the current crisis in Anglicanism, this much is apparent: The younger churches of Anglican Christianity will shape what it means to be Anglican. The long season of British hegemony is over.

‘The reason there is a global Anglicanism today is that Anglicans were compelled by the Word of God to share the gospel throughout the expanding British Empire and beyond. In the absence today of such a convenient infrastructure, the future of the Anglican Communion is found in embracing the key Reformation and evangelical principles that have had such an impact in Uganda. Without a commitment to the authority of the Word of God, a confidence in a God who acts in the world, and a conviction of the necessity of repentance and of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we will be hard-pressed as a communion to revive and advance our apostolic and missionary calling as a church.’

In other words, the future is to be found in returning to the key Reformation and evangelical principles that are the strength and core of the Anglican expression of Christian faith."

Read the rest here.

BBC asks are we "Heading for Anarchy?"

An article by Alex Kirby posted on the BBC news pages reflects on the future of the Anglican Communion given what happened in Kenya yesterday, and by extension, what is scheduled to happen in Uganda this weekend:

"So when one bishop (in this case Dr Nzimbi [the Primate of Kenya]) acts in a way that undercuts the authority of another bishop, it is the clearest possible way of emphasising the Church's disunity.

What Dr Nzimbi is saying, in effect, is that he knows better than the US bishops about the pastoral needs of their people.

The two new bishops promised to 'serve the international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya, to serve clergy and congregations in North America under the Kenyan jurisdiction'.

It is a formula which ignores the fact that none of the Anglican Communion's member churches has any international interests of its own.

All are - in theory - united in working for the interests of the Communion itself.

And the claim that there are North American Anglicans 'under the Kenyan jurisdiction' is breathtaking in the way it opens the door to ecclesiastical anarchy.

No doubt Dr Nzimbi believes the consecrations are in the best interests of Kenyan Anglicans, and of their fellow believers elsewhere in Africa.

In fact they look very unlikely to be anything of the sort.

Read the rest: BBC NEWS: Kenya consecration deepens Anglican rift

British bishop and others write in support of Kenyan consecrations

An article in the Times Online reports that a group of deputies to the Church of England's General Synod and one of her bishops has written in public support of the episcopal ordinations of American clergy taking place this week in Kenya and this weekend in Uganda:

"The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, headed a list of more than 30 members of the Church of England's General Synod who sent a message to the two new bishops backing their episcopal ministry, even though acknowledging it is 'out of the ordinary'.

They said: 'You will represent vibrant and growing Churches in Africa in their love and care for those in the United States who are suffering for their commitment to the faith once delivered to the saints, in the face of a determined capitulation by The Episcopal Church to the forces of contemporary North American culture.

'We see in your ministry a wonderful expression of the Gospel promise that there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus. For African Christians who live in economically poorer countries are taking considerable risks in their relations with powerful institutions in order to care for American Christians in economically privileged countries.

'We see here the universal church responding to the needs of local churches, and the local church responding to the need of the universal church, to find a way to preserve global orthodox Anglican witness and fellowship, that is not impaired by man-made intermediate structures."

Read the rest: US priests become Kenyan bishops in gay protest

Bp. Mwamba warns of "proxy wars"

From the Mail & Guardian of September 2

Trevor Mwamba, the Anglican bishop of Botswana, when asked whether more US clerics would be coming to Southern Africa to be consecrated, said, “I hope not”.
...
The 2004 decision by a diocese in the US to authorise the blessing of same-sex relationships gave rise to the Windsor Commission, which recommended that “bishops … stop interfering in provinces and dioceses other than their own”.

Mwamba described the decisions by Nzimba [Archbishop of Kenya] and others to consecrate clergymen from the US [as bishops in the US] as “highly regrettable” as it violated the “ancient principle of provincial autonomy by intervening in dioceses and provinces other than their own”.

Mwamba likened such actions to “pouring fuel on a fire” and called for “space to cool down”. He urged African bishops to “be careful they are not dragged into fighting proxy wars” and said they should focus on “playing a reconciliatory” role in the church.

My emphasis.

Bishop Mwamba also spoke to Ecumenical News International

Very few of us take the homosexual debate as a top priority issue because there are more pressing issues facing the African church," Mwamba told Ecumenical News International in a telephone interview from his office in the Botswana capital Gaborone.

"Most African Anglicans want to get back to basics and concentrate on poverty, disease, injustice and the need for transparency in governments," said the dean of the central African region, made up of churches in Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.


Mwambe makes this prediction
Some bishops from the global South have threatened to boycott a gathering in 2008 of the world's Anglican bishops if their counterparts from the United States attend.

Mwamba said, however, he thought there would be "forward movement, even a breakthrough, on this issue" when leaders of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa meet in Mauritius from 2 to 5 October. "I believe that quite number of African bishops who have threatened not to attend next year's Lambeth Conference in Canterbury may change their minds," he said.

Bishop Mwamba has spoken before of the diversity of views in Anglican Communion in Africa.

Answering the forgotten question

The most obvious questions in all our troubles seems to have been lost: What is an Anglican? and What makes a church a part of the Anglican Communion?

That these questions seem to have been forgotten may seem strange, since the squabbles in the Anglican Communion have centered largely around questions of structure and authority. In the Episcopal Church, there are some congregations who wish that they could have agreeable bishops from overseas, and there are overseas provinces happy to oblige, providing American bishops of their own choosing who are agreeable to them.

Much has been made by these groups of the need to "discipline" the Episcopal Church, and these consecration and pairings are justified by these folks to punish the Episcopal Church. There have been several structural proposals have been made over the years to effect that punishment; such as a Primatial Council that would exist outside of the Episcopal Church's polity solely to regulate the behavior of the Episcopal Church, or the previous attempts to transform the Lambeth Meeting into a kind of global synod of bishops, and an appeal to the preamble of the Church's constitution to justify interference from outside the Episcopal Church.

These strategies have either failed or have been given up on by the very folks who have forced the rest of the Communion to focus on them.

Still in all this, the basic question of what makes an Anglican Church Anglican, and who decides what church is within the Anglican sphere has been largely ignored.

The Rev. Canon Robert J. Brooks of Connecticut, with the help Mr. Ed Hebb, Chancellor of the Diocese of Connecticut, wrote an executive summary that answers the constitutional questions of who is a member of the Anglican Communion and how one both is initiated into the fellowship and how a member church might be expelled or leave.

They remind us that of the four instruments of unity, only the Anglican Consultative Council has a constitution that has been ratified by all members of the Communion, and a specific process for the inclusion and exclusion of the member churches.

The prior condition for holding a conversation about any topic is that there be a transparent framework previously agreed to by the parties as the context of that conversation. Whether the framework is an agreed understanding of conversational etiquette, in the literal case of a conversation, or whether it is a constitution, in the case of an organization, a basic, agreed, transparent framework is essential for the discussion of anything. Even “group process” occurs within pre-agreed standards of behavior. In contrast, a child playing a game with others in a schoolyard who keeps making up new rules when losing and who makes loud threats to enforce them, is usually called a bully. Since Magna Carta in 1215 A.D., there has been a norm, as originally stated, of “rule of law, not men.” On the Field at Runnymede, barons and king publicly agreed to the written framework of the “Great Charter” that anyone could read and know what was the law. No capricious whim of the king, changing the rules from day to day or hour to hour, would be enforceable as law. The rights of all were transparently protected from caprice and bullying in a written law. That is the tradition and standard that this country, this Church, and most of the world has received and enshrined in its law.

In accord with that tradition, the House of Bishops and the President of the House of Deputies have defended the rule of law in this Church, not allowing anyone to tempt them into shredding our Constitution and Canons which protect all, laity, clergy, and bishops, through the transparent framework that includes them in all governance. Yet, the proper framework for the current disputes in the Anglican Communion is not the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. Since the dispute involves the Anglican Communion, it is to its framework of law that we must look in the first case for the proper context and rules by which any issue can be discussed. The debate on certain issues has been allowed to commence without acknowledging the constitutional framework that all have agreed to, that preexists the debate, that is the required context for the discussion. The test of any constitution is not how it functions when everything is going well but how it functions in a crisis. It is time to invoke and enforce the only universally pre-agreed written constitution of the Anglican Communion as the framework for any discussion going forward. Those who have continuously asserted new rules and new structures in the last few years have consistently ignored the constitutional framework for addressing their proposals. They seek to create new structures solely by loudly asserting them, accompanied by thinly veiled threats, counting on many in the leadership of the Anglican Communion or The Episcopal Church not to hold them accountable to the rule of law. Up until now, their strategy has worked. Building on the action of the House of Bishops and the President of the House of Deputies, it is time to insist that any proposed new structures or any revised status in the Anglican Communion for The Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada be discussed within the framework that presently exists in the only written constitution of the Communion. Any actions taken outside that constitutional framework are, and are to be regarded as having no legal standing, and are therefore unenforceable and null and void.

The rebellion within (against?) the Anglican Communion has specifically ignored the one constitutional and synodical body specifically designed to handle disagreements within the Communion--the Anglican Consultative Council. They have done this by asserting new structures ex nihilo and by creating bishoprics in other jurisdictions without consulting anyone but themselves. Reducing the ACC to simply a program arm does not hide the fact that the body was created and agreed on by all the member churches of the Communion to create partnerships and deal with intercommunion differences. The recent consecrations in Kenya and Uganda are but one example of how these various groups are working to impose their will on the rest of the Communion, in particular the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada--and maybe soon the Church of England itself.

Read it all. Thanks to Episcopal Majority for the presentation.

Hurricane Felix hits Nicaragua and Honduras

Christian relief agencies are hoping that disaster risk reduction work that has been ongoing will protect more lives and property as Hurricane Felix sweeps over the coasts of Central America. Episcopal Relief and Development will utilize funds given for emergency relief to assist in recovery efforts

As Felix swept towards Nicaragua and Honduras, hurricane experts warned that the storm was ‘potentially catastrophic’. The last hurricane to make landfall in Honduras was Hurricane Mitch, which killed more than 9,000 people in 1998.

Christian Aid partners in Honduras’ northern provinces of Cortés and Colon are hopeful that their disaster risk reduction work will help protect lives and property as the hurricane roars past. Partners have been helping vulnerable communities here to develop local risk maps, early warning systems and emergency plans.

Report from Ekklesia here

Report from the LATimes here

To donate to Episcopal Relief and Development click here

What is the significance of the African consecrations?

Michael Paulsen of the Boston Globe has a lengthy article on the Episcopal Church and its future in the Anglican Communion.

On numbers he observes (1) "Episcopal Church officials and their defenders say that most Episcopalians are comfortable with their church's theological direction, and that only a small fraction of Episcopal congregations - 45 of 7,500 - have departed over the controversy" and (2) All told, the provinces of Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda now claim to oversee 11 Anglican bishops in the United States. ... "They say that 250 American congregations - most of which were not former parishes but are made up of onetime Episcopalians - are now supervised by Global South Anglican provinces."

Several primates of the Global South are quoted.

Paulsen collects these observations from Americans

* Jim Naughton - "Only the most ardent homophobes are getting ready to bolt . . . and the separatist agenda is losing ground everywhere, The idea that the average African is looking to cause a split over homosexuality is ridiculous. This is about a small coterie of leaders that over the years have received a great deal of money from American conservatives who are eager to push this agenda."

* Miranda K. Hassett, an anthropologist and the author of the new book Anglican Communion in Crisis: How Episcopal Dissidents and Their African Allies Are Reshaping Anglicanism - "The Northerners have a more-or-less legitimate way to stay 'officially' Anglican while breaking from the Episcopal Church, and they also gain the moral/symbolic power of being able to assert that they're in accord with the majority of Anglicans in the world. For the Southern Anglican leaders involved, they get the world's attention," she said. "Claiming jurisdiction over conservatives in the US, claiming the right to remissionize this country, is a powerful way to assert and dramatize their concern about American culture and its global influence."

* Phililp Jenkins - "My best bet would be that individual Episcopal dioceses will carry on electing gay bishops, and that the Episcopal Church will be kicked out effectively or de facto. In terms of the average life of Episcopalians in the US, the difference will be nil."

"Not fit to live"

The Anglican Bishop of Uyo, Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama, has condemned the activities of homosexuals and lesbians, and described those engaged in them as "insane people''.

"It is scaring that any one should be involved in a thing like that and I want to say that they will not escape the wrath of God,'' he said. Orama told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) today [Sept. 2] in Uyo, that the practice, which has worsened over the years, was "unbiblical and against God's purpose for creating man.

"Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God's purpose for man,'' the Bishop said. He noted that the Anglican Church in Nigeria had continued to lead the fight against the practice especially in the US where it led the opposition to same sex marriages. "The aim of such fight is to provide a safe place for those who want to remain faithful Anglicans and Biblical Christians,'' he explained.

Read it all for further insight on the Church to which Truro and the Falls Church in Virginia, and Grace and St. Stephen's in Colorado Springs now belong.

Abp. Gomez's sermon posted at Anglican Communion Website

Archbishop Gomez was homilist at the recent consecrations in Kenya. His sermon has been posted in full by the Anglican Communion News Service. An extract

The present impaired state of the Communion is due mainly to actions taken by the Episcopal Church of the United States of America in respect of human sexuality with special reference to the consecration of a bishop living in an opened homosexual relationship. The actions of the Episcopal Church have created a situation in which some Anglicans in the United States and throughout most of the Provinces of the Communion are convinced that the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is clear in its teaching and must take precedent over culture. Holding fast to this belief, they cannot accommodate those who believe the contrary. The issue is not primarily on of sexuality but one which seeks to answer the question "which relationships correspond to God’s ordering of life, and violate it?" It is a division of opinion between those of us who firmly believe that homosexual practice violates the order of life give by God in scripture and those who seek by various mean to justify what scripture does not hounour. We, in the Global South, whole heartedly support the position outlined by Richard Hays in ‘The Moral Vision of the New Testament:’
‘Paul singles out homosexual intercourse for special attention because he regards it as providing a particularly graphic image of the way in which human fallenness distorts God’s created order. God the Creator made man and woman for each other, to cleave together to be fruitful and multiply. When human beings ‘exchange’ these created roles for homosexual intercourse, they embody the spiritual condition of those who have ‘exchanged the truth about God for a lie.’
We believe that faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ prevents us from compromising the truth so clearly revealed in holy scripture.
The sermon is here.

See the Café's previous coverage of Gomez and these cross boundary consecrations here.

Keeping up with the Jones

The Rwandan House of Bishops has elected three new bishops to serve in its Anglican Misssion in America. Read the communiqué here.

George Conger observes, "Almost half of the Church of Rwanda’s bishops will be former priests of the American Episcopal Church by the year’s end...."

An unfortunate letter

Bishop John Shelby Spong has written an open letter to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury that rehashes old complaints that have been extensively aired elsewhere and seems calculated to give offense. It is perhaps best seen as an act of unconscious self-marginalization (not to mention bad manners.) Spong, like N. T. Wright, has become one of those figures whose public utterances frequently do more to bolster the cause of his adversaries than his allies.

If one were attempting to poison the atmosphere when the archbishop and the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops gather in New Orleans on September 20-21, this is the letter one would write. Its publication places a burden on Episcopal bishops who favor the full inclusion of the baptized in all ministries of the Church, and continued membership in the Anglican Communion. They now must make it clear that Archbishop Rowan will receive a warmer welcome than this letter suggests.

Read more »

Willams expresses shock, seeks clarification from Akinola

Saturday update: Josh Thomas's take on all of this is here.

Friday updates:

Evening update:. Episcopal Cafe has received word from UPI that they cannot confirm that NAN’s September 2 report of remarks by Bishop Orama will be retracted. Contact NAN for that information.

UPI’s Africa Monitoring service is a pass-through of NAN and other African news agency stories. UPI does not vouch for their accuracy. The UPI tag was added to this story in error. However, given the uncertainty now surrounding the story we have removed it from our site and informed customers receiving the Africa Monitoring material that we have done so.

Afternoon update: The Church of Nigeria is denying that Bishop Orama made the statments attributed to him. The Living Church has a story here. It reports Canon AkinTunde Popoola's claim that a reporter from the state-owned News Agency of Nigeria has apologized for misquoting the bishop, but doesn't identify the reporter or say how the agency plans to respond to a mistake of this magnitude. A statement from the reporter--either independently or via the agency, and a copy of the bishop's speech to his synod would go a long way toward clearing this up. Stay tuned.

From the Anglican Communion Office:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has expressed deep shock at remarks said to have been made by the Bishop of Uyo, Nigeria, the Rt Revd Isaac Orama concerning gay and lesbian people.

The Archbishop will be contacting the Archbishop of Nigeria, Dr Peter Akinola, to seek clarification. Dr Williams said "The safety of people of gay and lesbian sexual orientation is a matter of concern for us all. The Anglican Primates, along with all other official bodies in the Anglican Communion, have consistently called for an end to homophobia, violence and hatred. If these reports are correct I would urge the bishop to apologise. Such comments are unacceptable and profoundly shocking on the lips of any Christian".

Canon James M Rosenthal
Anglican Communion Office
St Andrew's House
Director of Communications
16 Tavistock Crescent
London W11 1AP UK

The real conspiracy

Scott Gunn writes that he believes he's discovered the real reason for the present controversies in the Anglican Communion, and who is ultimately pushing things along. It's the vestment companies:

"I think a certain company from Greenwich, Connecticut has brainwashed certain Anglicans to espouse divisive ideas. The idea was that things would fall apart, and we'd need a whole new set of bishops. Heck, now we're getting set after set of bishops. Their nefarious plan has been wildly successful!

Yes, my friends, I believe it's all about the purple shirts. Is it the retailer? The fabric manufacturer? How deep does the plot go? If I can find an IRD-esque funder, I plan to continue this investigation. And, definitely, I'm going to buy a massive fake volcano.

As crazy as it sounds to imagine that an ecclesiastical haberdasher is behind all this, I just can't fathom a more rational explanation for why Rwanda needs to have half its House of Bishops operating in the US. I can't see why we need to have outposts from Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Southern Cone, and who-knows-where-else?"

Read the rest of the post: here.

Mwamba removed

Additional info in the Comments.

The Living Church reports,

The political disputes over The Episcopal Church’s place within the Anglican Communion have spilled over into Central Africa, leading to the replacement of the provincial dean, the Rt. Rev. Trevor Mwamba, Bishop of Botswana.

The Rt. Rev. Albert Chama, Bishop of Northern Zambia, was appointed to replace Bishop Mwamba as dean by the church’s General Synod, which began meeting on Sept. 6 in Mangochi, Malawi.

The government-backed Harare Herald reported Bishop Mwamba was “relieved of his duties” due to his “pro-gay” and pro-American lobbying, and because he misrepresented “the province’s position on the issue of homosexuals.”
...
This week’s synod will be the last for the church’s primate. Archbishop Bernard Malango turns 65 in January and is expected to retire at that time. Bishop Chama will oversee the election of a successor and will serve as acting primate.


The report in The Herald states,
Leading the gay lobby is Bishop of Botswana, the Rt Rev Trevor Musonda Mwamba, whose wings were clipped at the Episcopal Synod on Thursday where he was relieved of his duties as the Provincial Dean due to his pro-gay lobby and statements that he made misrepresenting the province’s position on the issue of homosexuals.

Rev Mwamba was replaced by Bishop Chama.

Central Africa has been in the sights of gay Western liberals over the past 18 year as Henderson, the Vicar of London’s All Saints’ Ealing, a bachelor, has been pouring tens of thousands of pound sterling into Lake Malawi in an attempt to buy himself into bishop.

Henderson was elected to the post in July 2005, and was to have been consecrated in October of that year. His consecration was, however, set aside after five Anglicans, led by Canon Rodney Hunter, from Nkhotakota objected. Canon Hunter later died in a case of suspected poisoning.

A court confirmation in November 2005 presided over by the Archbishop of Central Africa, the Most Reverend Dr Bernard Amos Malango, refused to confirm Henderson saying he was not of "sound faith"....

Several recent articles about Mwamba are collected here. Mwamba is scheduled to speak at the Modern Churchpeople's Union conference, "Saving the Soul of Anglicanism", in July.

UPDATE: AFP reports

Refering to a diocesan act, a cleric at Harare diocese told AFP that three of the four dioceses in Zimbabwe had "unanimously agreed" to sever ties with dioceses in the Central African province which were in favour of homosexuals.

The Anglican province of Central Africa comprises Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

A House Divided

There is a report that the The Church of the Province of Central Africa has voted to dissolve. The Province contains the nations of Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A report in the Harrare Herald, a paper controlled by the government of Zimbabwe, said that at the meeting of the Provincial Synod in Malawi, three of the five dioceses in Zimbabwe voted to disassociate from the other dioceses, with whom they disagreed in the current Anglican controversies over sexuality and the nature of the Anglican Communion. The article went on to criticize Archbishop Malango: "[He] failed to save the situation after he botched condemning the homosexual lobby...."

The report names Harrare and Manicaland plus one other unnamed diocese as the three who have pulled out. According the paper, the constituting document of the province states that if one diocese breaks with the Province, the entire province is dissolved and must reorganize.

Earlier news reports said that there were fears that the Central Africa province would break into three national provinces of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, leaving Botswana, which does not qualify to be a province because it has only one diocese instead of the required four on its own.

As the Synod began on September 6th, the Bishop of Botswana, the Rt. Rev. Trevor Mwamba, Bishop of Botswana, was replaced as Provincial Dean by The Rt. Rev. Albert Chama, Bishop of Northern Zambia, because Mwamba had previously stated that the row of sexuality was distracting the Church in Africa from much more important issues such as poverty, disease, injustice and the need for transparency in governments.

Mwabe previously told the Ecumenical News Service that

Very few of us take the homosexual debate as a top priority issue because there are more pressing issues facing the African church

And

"Most African Anglicans want to get back to basics and concentrate on poverty, disease, injustice and the need for transparency in governments...."

Others in the Province, who have a different view of the primacy of the issue took a different stand in advance of the Provincial Synod and stated in advance that they would sever ties with any diocese they believed to be "pro-gay."

Getting curiouser in Central Africa

Updated: Greg Jones' casts a skeptical eye on Bishop Kuonga.

The province is in disarray after its latest synod, but it is hard to know whether this has more to do with differences over homosexuality, or simple personality conflicts, or a power grab by the Zimbabwean Church, which had enthusiastically backed the government of Robert Mugabe.

Last week, the Rt. Rev. Trevor Mwaba, was removed as dean of the province in part because he publicly opposed Archbishop Bernard Malango who has insisted that the Episcopal Church be disciplined for ordaining a gay bishop, and in part because he challenged Malango (who retired as Primate last week) over the archbishop's protection of Bishop Norbert Kuonga of the diocese of Harare.

Copious background on Kuonga, an ardent supporter of Mugabe, can be found here. He once faced an ecclesiastical trial on charges that Stephen Bates of The Guardian summarized in the Church of England Newspaper as follows:

The list of 38 charges against the good bishop, who is a crony of Robert Mugabe, brought against him by his own black parishioners, include little matters such as incitement to murder, intimidation, ignoring church law, mishandling funds and proselytising for Zanu PF from the pulpit. He has also occupied a farm and evicted 40 families from a local village. A couple of months ago he even licensed the acting vice-president of Zimbabwe Joseph Msika, a man on record as saying that whites are not human beings, to act as a deacon of the church."

Now comes news that Kuonga and several other bishops seem to have decided that ousting Mwaba was not enough, and that they are going to break away from the rest of the province anyway.

As Andrew Gerns noted in an earlier posting on The Lead:

There is a report that the The Church of the Province of Central Africa has voted to dissolve. The Province contains the nations of Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A report in the Harrare Herald, a paper controlled by the government of Zimbabwe, said that at the meeting of the Provincial Synod in Malawi, three of the five dioceses in Zimbabwe voted to disassociate from the other dioceses, with whom they disagreed in the current Anglican controversies over sexuality and the nature of the Anglican Communion.

The report names Harrare and Manicaland plus one other unnamed diocese as the three who have pulled out. According the paper, the constituting document of the province states that if one diocese breaks with the Province, the entire province is dissolved and must reorganize.

Earlier news reports said that there were fears that the Central Africa province would break into three national provinces of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, leaving Botswana, which does not qualify to be a province because it has only one diocese instead of the required four on its own.

These news reports cannot be taken at face value, and not simply because the Herald is a pro-Mugabe paper. Provinces do not have the authority to define their own terms of membership in the Anglican Communion. So this business of three national provinces is speculative, at least until the Anglican Consultative Council considers the matter, and it has yet to indicate that it will do so.

Archbishops in US this month

When the House of Bishops meets this month which Anglican Communion primates will be in attendance? There will be our own Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, of course. And the Archbishop of Canterbury was invited and has accepted. Besides the See of Canterbury, the other members of the Standing Committee of the Primates are also included at the invitation of the House of Bishops. Those members of the standing committee were elected by their respective regions at the February meeting of the primates. Jefferts Schori was elected from the Americas. Other members are the liberal Morgan (Wales), Aspinall (Australia), and Orombi (Uganda). Orombi has stated he would not attend: "It is my conviction that our Dar es Salaam communiqué did not envision interference in the American House of Bishops while they are considering our requests."

Orombi will be in the United States later this month. He is keynoter at the Neal Conference of True Spirituality at Covenant College (PCA).

As is widely known Archbishop Akinola (Nigeria) will be in Chicago this month.

Do the visits of Akinola and Orombi constitute interference in the American House of Bishops while they are considering [the primates'] requests?

Canterbury: don't misread communiqué

George Conger reports,

[A] senior advisor to the Archbishop of Canterbury told The Living Church it was a serious misreading of the primates’ communiqué to say that an ultimatum had been given to the House of Bishops to take certain actions by Sept. 30 or face expulsion from the Anglican Communion. The communiqué had asked for certain clarifications from the House of Bishops, he said, but did not envision a breaching of The Episcopal Church’s constitution.

That view aligns with the sentiments of the Archbishop of Canterbury expressed to the National Catholic Reporter. See the relevant extracts of the NCR profile provided yesterday in The Lead.

Conger also reports "Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will offer a revamped primatial vicar plan to the House of Bishops at their meeting next week in New Orleans." However, the plan seems to differ little from previous plans suggested by Schori. That's the attitude of Bishop Iker: the "Bishop of Fort Worth, said a plan that placed the ultimate authority in the hands of the Presiding Bishop was a non-starter. Fort Worth would not accept the “unilateral dictates” of the Presiding Bishop, he said."

Further, "Bishop Iker said bishops affiliated with the Anglican Communion Network would not be present if a primatial vicar plan was brought forward during the House of Bishops’ business session, as they were withdrawing from the meeting following the departure of Archbishop Rowan Williams on Sept. 22."

The state of liberal Anglicanism

The Admiral of Morality has been so kind as to reprint an excerpt of an essay, "The Death of Liberal Anglicanism," written by the Rev. Lynda Patterson, director of Theology House, Christchurch, New Zealand. The essay, originally published in the current issue of The Anglican Taonga, the newsmagazine of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, describes how "liberal Anglicanism, the stream most closely identified with Anglicanism in general, must reexamine and reinvigorate its theology if it is to survive and prosper," says AoM.

Patterson writes:

For those of us who consider ourselves liberals, there is something disorientating about the current state of Anglicanism. The rug seems to have been pulled from under our feet. We find ourselves increasingly squeezed between two competing conservatisms. There is an evangelical one which seems determined to implant a rule book of doctrinal and moral orthodoxy at the centre of Anglicanism.

There is a catholic one committed to preserving the unity of the church by re-inventing the primates as a sort of Anglican curia. A church which seemed to have room for diverse expressions of Christian faith is solidifying around us into something rigid and unfriendly. What happened to the Anglican habit of cultural sensitivity and intellectual flexibility ?

If we are honest, we liberals have to shoulder some of the blame for the loss. The liberal tradition had settled down into something which looked suspiciously like complacency.

Even the early stirrings of the debate on homosexuality seemed to pose no serious threat. It had long been the logic of Anglicanism that reform movements eventually—if often with painful slowness—won the day. The church's position on the ordination of practising homosexuals looked as if it was temporary. It was assumed that evangelical objections were an attempt to resist change, and in the longer term, they would eventually be worn down.

AoM's excerpt of the Patterson article is here. The original is in the Winter 2007 issue of Taonga magazine, available as a PDF download on the Taonga site, here.

Report from Central Africa

Episcopal News Service has an article on the most recent Synod of the Anglican Province of Central Africa. Apparently the earlier reports that the Dean of the Province had been "fired" by Malango and that the Province had decided to split into three parts were untrue:

The recent synod of the Church of the Province of Central Africa went very well, contrary to some reports from the secular press in Harare, according to the Rev. Emmanuel Sserwadda, the Episcopal Church's Partnership Officer for Africa.

Sserwadda attended the synod at the invitation of Central Africa Archbishop Bernard Amos Malango.

"There was a very good feeling," Sserwadda said of the meeting.

Bishop of Northern Zambia Albert Chama, former provincial secretary, was elected dean of the province, he said. The election to replace Botswana Bishop Trevor Mwamba in the position came during the episcopal synod which customarily meets prior to the synod.

Press reports that Mwamba had been fired by Malango are untrue, Sserwadda said. Mwamba preached at the synod's closing Eucharist. Sserwadda and Bishop Michael Doe, general secretary of the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, (USPG), vested and participated in the service.

During the meeting, Harare Bishop Nolbert Konunga asked that "Dissolution of the Province" be put on the synod's agenda, according to Sserwadda. Participants on the synod assumed that this item referred to an ongoing effort to create three new provinces from the dioceses of Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia respectively. However, Konunga used the time to raise the homosexuality issue and make various accusations, including claims that some member bishops had not done enough to enforce the province's opposition to homosexuality.

Other provincial leaders recaptured the agenda, saying that the province had made its position clear in the Anglican Communion, and there was no need for further discussion, Sserwadda said.

"They said, ‘If Harare wants to go, it can go,'" he added. "Others told him, ‘You can't talk on behalf of all of Zimbabwe.'"

Read the full report here..

Today's Church Times report on the synod meeting calls the replacement of Mwamba a removal. "Speaking this week, one of his supporters said there was complete surprise and shock among many people at the synod when the news was announced. 'I think there was a lot of networking and pressure." Many felt that men of God should not behave in this way.'"

CANA consolidating

Yesterday news started to break of a decision by the Province of Nigeria to consecrate an additional four American priests to serve as bishops for their CANA mission in the United States. One of the priests tapped to be consecrated is The Rev. Roger Ames of St. Luke's Anglican Church in Akron Ohio.

The Living Church reports that Fr. Ames has indicated that part of the plan is to consolidate a number of congregations that have already associated themselves with the Bishop of Bolivia into a new relationship with the Province of Nigeria:

In an interview with The Living Church, Fr. Ames said all of the parish leadership and the congregation of St. Luke’s left The Episcopal Church about two years ago for the Diocese of Bolivia in the Province of the Southern Cone, but because the Diocese of Ohio has not to date included the departure in its parochial report filings with the national church, he and the congregation continue officially to be designated members in good standing of The Episcopal Church.

Fr. Ames said there are currently about 50 former Episcopal congregations affiliated with the Diocese of Bolivia. These are in the process of being transferred to CANA by mutual agreement of Bishop Minns and the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons, Bishop of Bolivia. According to a press release published on CANA’s website, the convocation now has 60 congregations and 80 clergy in 20 states.

Read the rest here: The Living Church Foundation

Spinning over the edge

Pat Ashworth, writing in the Church Times last week, points out how the repeated use of the language of crisis in the Anglican Communion is less than helpful. She uses the letter released under the name of Archbishop Akinola a few weeks ago and examines the way parts were edited and rewritten as a springboard for her argument that our language and rhetoric is not terribly helpful right now.

SPIN-doctoring overreached itself — and fell flat on its face — two weeks ago with the publication of a pastoral letter purporting to be from the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, to his flock in Abuja (News, 24 August). Should it matter that the bulk of it was written in the United States from the computer of Bishop Martyn Minns, and that revision, editing, and formatting took place over four days?

I believe it does. After our news story (24 August) we were accused by the Nigerian director of communications of being ‘insulting and racist’. It has nothing to do with race but everything to do with language and politics, in a climate where the word ‘decision’ is now drip-fed into every missive.

Brainwash us often enough with news that the Anglican Communion is on the brink of destruction, and we will all believe it: that is, until proof comes along that schism really is being orchestrated by a knot of people dedicated to keeping their supporters on message.

‘Forced to choose’, ‘moment of decision’, ‘brink of destruction’, ‘the gravity of this moment’ are phrases designed to turn a drama into a crisis, as US conservatives, with help from English friends, seek to sabotage next year’s Lambeth Conference.

Delete this: ‘The journey to unity has been long and agonising and needs to come to an end soon,’ and substitute: ‘It now appears, however, that the journey is coming to an end and the moment of decision is almost upon us.’ In the end, it doesn’t matter who made the change: the result was to ring the alarm bells louder.

Read the rest: Church Times - Pushing Anglicanism to the precipice

Nigerian Bishops seek Lambeth postponement

The bishops of the Church of Nigeria, in an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury posted on the Nigerian website, have asked for the Lambeth Conference to be canceled lest it cause scandal because of acrimony. They further call for an urgent meeting of all Primates to judge whether the Episcopal Church's response is adequate and to quickly create an timetable for the formation of an Anglican Covenant which will in turn serve as a gate-keeper to the next Lambeth Conference.

From a part of the letter:

"We are persuaded that a change of direction from our current path is urgently needed and write to assure you of our willingness and commitment to work towards that end. We have noted your desire that the proposed Lambeth Conference be a place for fellowship and prayer and an exploration of our shared mission and ministry – all of these are of course commendable aims.

We all know, however, that the pressures of the present situation would adversely affect the outcome of the conference unless there is a profound change of heart; for how can we as bishops in the Church of God gather for a Lambeth Conference when there is such a high level of distrust, dislike and disdain for one another? How can we meet as leaders of the Communion when our relationships are so sorely strained and our life together so broken that we cannot even share together in the Lord’s Supper? It would be a mockery and bring dishonour to the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ.

We are also concerned about the abuse directed towards those who hold to traditional views on matters of Human Sexuality. The spate of hostility in the UK is alarming."

Read the rest: An open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury from the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria meeting Osogbo, Osun State

Updated, Mark Harris, Simon Sarmiento and Father Jake have called attention to this section of the letter:

"We are also concerned about the abuse directed towards those who hold to traditional views on matters of Human Sexuality. The spate of hostility in the UK is alarming.


We are all witnesses to:

The presence of placard carrying and leaflets distributing campaigners at the last Lambeth Conference distracting Bishops who travelled thousands of miles for fellowship. These protesters effectively shifted the focus of the conference to human sexuality - as if that was all that mattered.

The physical assaults against clergymen with opposing view, such as your predecessor attacked in his own Cathedral pulpit, and a Kenyan bishop assaulted by two people dressed as clergymen.

The occasion when your own General Synod was disrupted by protestors angry over the handling of the Canon Jeffery John issue.

Recent attempts to mandate unbiblical views in the UK through force of law and the protests and attacks by activists determined to disrupt and intimidate any group that seeks to uphold biblical teaching.

In truth anyone who does not embrace revisionist views is a potential target. We know it is possible to provide some security to minimize such occurrences but is the additional cost justifiable? Would the resultant atmosphere of fear and uncertainty be conducive to the goals of such a large gathering of bishops?"


Salty returns

Our old friend the Salty Vicar, who gave up blogging to have a life, has written a perceptive response to Bishop JohnShelby Spong's recent open letter to Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury.

He writes:

The issues of the U.S. Episcopal Church, I suspect, are not the issues of the Anglican Communion. My concerns include things like how am I going to pay for my secretary or the air conditioning or my after school program, and why isn’t anyone coming to my cool ultra-progressive church? It isn’t that people don’t approve of me or my parish; in my area everyone knows where we stand and they love what we’re doing. They’re just in a time and money crunch, as so many of us are today.

Gay rights is just one of many issues that needs work in a hypercapitalist country. And in fact, I believe we’re ahead of the game in that department. Good leaders in the Episcopal Church do not worry about sexuality—we’ve already decided that gay people are a full part of the church. Now how about turning our attention to some other challenges, like the growing blight of mega-churches and the budget shortfalls that make it tougher and tougher to pay for the basic upkeep of church buildings?

Spong is wrong to assume that this fight is Rowan’s. The fight in the Episcopal Church is ours. It’s great that the Archbishop is coming, the Archbishop is coming. To be honest, that’s all he needed to do. But the work that has to be done is here. And we don’t need him to do it for us, or to give us the thumbs up.

As if things weren't complicated enough

The Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, the Most Rev. Peter Jensen, is said to be moving forward with plans to institute lay presidency of the Holy Eucharist as an integral part of the ministry of the Diocese of Sydney. Significantly, the plan is to do this under the cover of existing canons, designed for others purposes, so that past legislative defeated by the rest of the Anglican Church of Australia can be ignored. This way he can also avoid the scrutiny of the other Bishops in that Church.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a committee of church officials want the Archbishop to shepherd this innovation under the guise of "empowering the laity."

The timing of this move has caused consternation in the rest of the Anglican Communion as well as the Anglican Church of Australia, especially among the various groups trying to unite against the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in other parts of the Communion.

The tactics should seem familiar to those who have watched the organized response of the Global South and their allied groups in North America.

The Appellate Tribunal, the [Anglican Church of Australia's] highest court, has ruled there is no constitutional impediment to lay presidency and the national church was able to authorise lay or diaconal eucharistic presidency but that it required approval by a canon to the national church's general assembly.

In a report to the diocesan's parliament, Dr Woodhouse [principal of Moore Theological College] argues that legal permission may already exist in the form of two canons that permit lay people to assist the priest, or minister can authorise certain forms of service "from time to time".

The Morning Herald points out that

...(this) fresh attempt to have the Sydney Diocese to go it alone on lay presidency risks not only antagonising other high-ranking Anglicans - especially since the General Synod refused in 2004 to condone the practice - but sets the diocese on a collision course with other conservative evangelical dioceses in the Anglican communion with which it is allied in its opposition to same-sex blessings and gay bishops

The Archbishop prohibits the ordination of women and sees this move as a way of helping small congregations become established without having to obtain the services of clergy. In addition, Jensen views preaching from Scripture to be at least equal, if not more important, than the sacraments, and since laity can in certain circumstances baptize and preach, it follows that they should also be able to preside at the Eucharist. Proponents say that nothing in scripture prohibits the practice.

Conservatives in this church call it "poor timing for a bad idea."
.
Hat tip to the blog Covenant Communion for the pointers.

We all need the Anglicans right now

In the NCR Café Joan Chittister writes her column From Where I Stand this week on why the world needs Anglicans at this time in the history of the church. She explores the question of unity. From where does it arise and how is it given authority? She hopes that the Anglicans will discover the path for other churches to follow.

So the question the Anglican communion is facing for us all right now is a clear one: What happens to a group, to a church, that stands poised to choose either confusion or tyranny, either anarchy or authoritarianism, either unity or uniformity? Are there really only two choices possible at such a moment? Is there nowhere in-between?

The struggle going on inside the Anglican Communion about the episcopal ordination of homosexual priests and the recognition of the homosexual lifestyle as a natural state is not peculiar to Anglicanism. The issue is in the air we breathe. The Anglicans simply got there earlier than most. And so they may well become a model to the rest of us of how to handle such questions. If the rate and kinds of social, biological, scientific and global change continue at the present pace, every religious group may well find itself at the breakpoint between "tradition" and "science" sooner rather than later.

Theological questions driven by new scientific findings, new social realities, new technological possibilities abound. How moral is it to take cells from one person for the treatment of another if all human cells are potentially life generating? Is that the destruction of life? If homosexuality is "natural," meaning biologically configured at birth, why is it immoral for homosexuals to live in homosexual unions -- even if they are bishops? After all, isn't that what we said -- in fact, did -- when we argued "scientifically" that blacks were not fit for ordination because blacks weren't quite as human as whites? And so we kept them out of our seminaries and called ourselves "Christian" for doing it. Without even the grace to blush.

and concludes

From where I stand we need those who can develop a model of faith in times of uncertainty in which the tradition is revered and the prophetic is honored. Unless we want to see ourselves go into either tyranny or anarchy, we better pray for the Anglicans so that they can show us how to do that.

Read it all here

Archbishop of Wales cannot support Covenant as proposed

According to a press release from the Church in Wales, Archbishop Barry Morgan warns proposed Anglican Covenant could lead to exclusion. According to Morgan, a member of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, a laudable attempt to unite Anglicans is in danger of becoming a contract designed to cut off those who don’t conform.

Church in Wales today, Dr Morgan said that, while he supported the principle of an Anglican Covenant, he could not endorse the proposed version currently on the table.

He fears the draft - under consideration by all churches in the Anglican worldwide community - will lead to one voice on controversial issues, such as homosexuality, which members would have to sign up to or leave.

While the Church of England has said it is willing to “engage positively” with the recommendations, Dr Morgan believes a similar response from the Church in Wales would be seen as an acceptance not just of the concept of the Covenant, but also the draft version. He asked the Governing Body just to note the process taking place to produce a Covenant and invite the Welsh bishops to finalise a response.

Dr Morgan, who will fly to New Orleans tomorrow with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for a pivotal meeting for the Anglican Church, said, “There is no doubt that things have got bitter in the Communion.

“The original intention of a Covenant to affirm the bonds of affection, was good. The indications now are that many see it as a contract, a means of ensuring a uniform view on human sexuality enforceable by the threat of exclusion from the Communion if one does not conform. I certainly do not want to sign up to that kind of Covenant.”

Press release is here.

Full text of his speech is here.

More on the meetting of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and Anglican Consultative Council here

Is the Province of Central Africa dead?

Mark Harris in his blog, Preludium has an excellent roundup of the news from the Province of Central Africa. Citing his earlier comments on the seeming break down in relationships between the dioceses Harris reports on what the various news sources are saying. The central issue is homosexuality and how gays and lesbians are to be treated in the Province of Central Africa. Ranging from the calm pastoral presence of Bishop Trevor Mwamba of Botswana to the hate-mongering of the bishops of Harare and Nike it does not seem that the Province can hold together with the current leadership.

In the earlier blog, Mark said:

The Province of Central Africa is a mess. The Dean is cast out, the bishop –elect of Lake Malawi is cast out, the Bishop of Harare is accused of complicity in criminal actions of the President of Zimbabwe, and the whole Province is set to split into three provinces.

The news sources seem to be coming together as to what is happening according to Preludium:

(i) The Diocese of Harare is quitting the Province of Central Africa, thereby raising questions about the disillusion of the Province. The ENS article reported leaders of the Synod saying that if Harare wants to go it can go, but that this does not mean all of Zimbabwe goes. The Bishop of Harare seems to think otherwise. The Archbishop, according to the interview with David Virtue, says both: “First of all, let me say the province is intact. We have not fallen apart or cracked up as one African newspaper reported we had. However, we have decided that come January of 2008 we will become three new provinces and we have set the wheels in motion to do that.” The upshot seems to be - no, we are not now broken up, but we shall be.

(ii) Bishop Mwamba has been relieved of duty as Dean of the Province of Central Africa. Whether or not he was fired, the Archbishop again had the definitive word: “He was simply not re-elected, and there is little likelihood he will now become the new archbishop of the province because of his liberal views.” The Archbishop said, “My disappointment is that one young man, now a former dean (Mwamba) got ideas that are not in line with my own thinking which as you know are very orthodox and conservative. His liberal ideas were quite disappointing coming at the end of my ministry.” Mwamba’s possible reelection was thwarted by the Archbishop and it would appear that he is no longer a player in provincial affairs.

(iii) According to the Harare Herald, the Bishop, Nolbert Kunonga, is ready to form a new province in Zimbabwe. He says, “We are out of the Province of Central Africa right now, we are going to form a new province. It’s true that there are five here in Zimbabwe. Three of them -- that is the Diocese of Manicaland, the Diocese of Harare that I lead and the Diocese of Central Zimbabwe -- are very clear and resolute, very firm that they reject homosexuality.”

Read it all here.

We reported in September 14 in The Lead that the Province is not breaking up - just reorganzing into provinces similar to the Episcopal Church. Time will tell.

crisis and showdown and schism, oh my!

Religion columnists are setting up their stories from the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. Although the meeting has yet to begin, writers are priming their coverage with dire predictions of what the Archbishop will demand at his first visit to an Episcopal Church meeting. Originally invited by the Bishops to listen to the experience of The Episcopal Church (TEC), most reporters believe that the Archbishop will come to tell TEC what to do or else.

Stephen Bates writing in The Guardian predicts:

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, will demand concessions from the bishops of the US Episcopal Church tomorrow at a crisis meeting aimed at staving off the most damaging split in the churchs modern history, over the issue of homosexuality.

They will be asked to give guarantees that they will not allow the election of any more openly gay bishops or authorise public blessing services for same-sex couples and will create a structure for separate episcopal oversight for conservative congregations who disagree with the churchs liberal leadership.

and comments on possible strategies:

But with few signs of compromise, an air of fatalism and uncertainty has descended on senior officials in the Anglican communion. The strategy appears to be an attempt to minimise any split by seeking an alliance of liberal and moderate conservative US bishops behind a form of words that would strengthen previous US assurances that they will not promote more gay clergy or formally celebrate gay partnerships. They are hoping to rally support around Charles Jenkins, the Bishop of Louisiana, a leading conservative who has insisted he wants to remain within the Episcopal Church.

The position of the American presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, will also be critical in keeping the majority of American bishops together. Although the meetings will be in private, broken by one public service at which Dr Williams will preach, the bishops will be surrounded by lobbyists for both sides.

While a compromise might satisfy some in the communion, it will not be enough for African archbishops or their conservative American and English allies who are ambitious to split the church and force a realignment.

Regarding some African archbishops, Bates writes:

In increasingly bizarre moves, African archbishops in Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya have been busily appointing American conservatives mainly men who have previously failed to secure election to American dioceses to African bishoprics in recent weeks ostensibly to minister to disaffected Africans and Americans back in US churches. There are now nearly as many American bishops belonging to the Rwandan church as Rwandans.

Read The Guardian article here

Other columnists and their predictions:

The Telegraph

Associated Press

New York Times

Reuters

Atlanta Journal Constitution

Christian Science Monitor

New Orleans Times-Picayune

Daily Mail

USA Today

This list above will be added to throughout Tuesday and Wednesday. Watch this space.

Jim Naughton, writing at Daily Episcopalian, reflects on the hopes for the meeting here. Just as importantly, read Jim's primer, how to read this week's news.

The Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori offers a video overview of the meeting here.

Province of Central Africa sends a message

The attention given to the Zimbabwe government-owned Harare Herald has drawn a strong letter of correction of the paper's reporting from the provincial secretary of the Province of Central Africa:

Contrary to The Herald’s report that the Anglican Province of Central Africa broke up on the 9th September 2007, the fact is the Church of the Province of Central Africa remains strongly intact.

Contrary to The Herald’s report that the Diocese of Manicaland along with one other Zimbabwean diocese expressed its intention to quit the Province no such intention was expressed at the Synod.

Contrary to The Herald’s report that according to the standing orders of the Province of Central Africa once one diocese withdraws the Province becomes null and void and would have to be reconstituted under a new name and structure, no such standing order exists. However should there be any intention of the Province being dissolved such an act according to the Constitution and Canons of the Church of the Province of Central Africa, would require the due legal process and procedures being followed which among other things would involve a proposed amendment which would have to be provisionally approved by the Provincial Synod having been approved by the Synod of each Diocese in the Province, and confirmed by the Provincial Synod by a two-thirds majority of those present.

Contrary to The Herald’s report of the existence of a homosexual lobby led by the Bishop of Botswana, Trevor Musonda Mwamba, the Rt. Rev. Dr. James Tengatenga of Southern Malawi and two Zimbabwean Bishops, the fact of the matter is that there is no known homosexual lobby in the Church of the Province of Central Africa and any insinuations of there being such a lobby is highly regrettable and libellous.

Contrary to The Herald’s report of the existence of an anti-gay lobby led by Bishop Norbert Kunonga of Harare, the fact of the matter is that there is no known anti-gay lobby in the Church of the Province of Central Africa.

Contrary to The Herald’s report that in their addresses, The Rev. Emmanuel Sserwadda of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America and the Rt. Rev. Michael Doe, General Secretary of United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG), had implored the Synod to drop the issue of homosexuals from the agenda in exchange for funding of Church projects, and that a day earlier the Rev. Chad Gandiya of the USPG Africa Desk had expressed similar sentiments; this is totally false. The fact of the matter is the three invited speakers to the Provincial Synod talked about the ways and means of improving and strengthening existing partnership links.

It is highly regrettable that The Herald could publish such a misleading, false and pernicious article. The article falls gravely short of basic professional journalistic demands of balance, fairness and honesty.

Rev Fr Eston Dickson Pembamoyo
Provincial Secretary
Church of the Province of Central Africa (The Anglican Church in Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe)

Read his full letter here at epiScope.

On the Anglican calendar

Archbishop of Canterbury: "Following on from his visit to the United States ..., Dr Rowan Williams will visit Armenia, Syria and Lebanon, from 22nd - 29th September."

Joint Standing Committee: "Meeting set for 19-25 September 2007 New Orleans, USA. The JSC have been invited to the House of Bishops Meeting of the Episcopal Church for two days of their regular House meeting. The meeting begins Thursday of this week. The JSC will then meet as a group on Monday in the same location (Inter Continental Hotel) in New Orleans.... The Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion will be present throughout the meetings."

JSC is the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) and the Primates of the Anglican Communion. The chair of Primates Standing is the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Archbishop to conduct "Pirate" Eucharist

The Lead can reveal that today - just hours before he jets off for America in what could be a turning point in the future of the Anglican Communion - the Archbishop of Canterbury will meet with a rag-tag group of renegades, scoundrels and peglegs in the bosum of Lambeth Palace. The meeting will conclude with a "Pirate" Eucharist led by the Archbishop. The list of invitees was written in invisible ink.

A spokesman for Dr. Williams said: “It should come as no surprise that t' Archbishop be meetin' pastorally with scurvy swabs. Such encounters extend starboard across t' range o' civil and uncivil society. Few o' these encounters ever reach t' public domain. That be as it should be.”

For the uninitated, it is no coincidence that this news leaked today. In the secular calendar September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury (668 to 690)

Graham Kings writing in the Church of England Newspaper

Rowan Williams flies to New Orleans on 19 September, the day the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglican Communions celebrate the life and wisdom of Theodore of Tarsus, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 668 to 690, who came from St Paul's own town. On 24 September 673, he summoned the Synod of Hertford. Amongst other things, that Synod issued canons dealing with the rights and obligations of clergy and restricted bishops to working in their own dioceses and not intruding on the ministry of neighbouring bishops. The canons were based on those of the Council of Chalcedon, in 451.

Kings also writes,
Both [Andrewes and Hooker] defended the Church of England on two edges: against Roman Catholicism and the Puritans - or Rome and Geneva, as Hooker often put it. As an Anglican, he was 'Reformed' in theology but drew on 'natural law'. Rather than respond with an instant tract to the Puritan opposition to him in his church, The Temple, he retired to a quieter parish and wrote his magisterial, multi-volume Of The Lawes of Ecclesiastical Polity.

What are the two extreme 'edges' that the Anglican Communion needs defending against today? It seems to me that they are the 'autonomous rootless liberalism' that too often has undergirded the actions of The Episcopal Church and the 'independent relentless puritanism' that ignores the pivotal, gathering role of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Both positions, in effect, have tried to trump the 'interdependence' of the Communion with their pre-emptive actions and reactions.


Read it here at the Fulcrum website.

Hymn 489

In a paradox that never ceases to challenge and puzzle both believers and unbelievers, it is when we are free from the passion to be taken seriously, to be protected or indeed to be obeyed that we are most likely to be heard. The convincing witness to faith is one for whom safety and success are immaterial, and one for whom therefore the exercise of violent force against another of different conviction is ruled out.

- Rowan Williams

Greg Jones, reflecting on the recent speech by the Archbishop of Wales writes in his essay "Force is not of God," I was struck by the words of the great hymn 'The Great Creator of the Worlds' (no. 489). The lyrics come from the Epistle to Diognetus, which I find it to be a fantastic and moving proclamation of the Gospel. The fifth verse of the hymn got me to thinking of the situation in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. The verse goes: "He came as Savior to his own, the way of love he trod; he came to win us by good will, for force is not of God."

The Primate of the Church of Wales, Barry Morgan, has recently stated that he is very much in favor of the Windsor process and an Anglican Covenant -- as am I -- but not in the way they are being steered by a faction of Primates looking to take the Anglican Communion in a confessional or magisterial direction. As with the lyrics of hymn 489, if "force is not of God," then we do not want force to be of the Church. I would hope that we do not adopt a form of Anglican Covenant which would have force as an attribute. We do not need to reaffirm bonds and boundaries of affection by an attribute which is not of God.

Read it here. Greg includes the text to the Epistle to Diognetus which ends

Was He sent, think you, as any man might suppose, to establish a sovereignty, to inspire fear and terror? Not so. But in gentleness [and] meekness has He sent Him, as a king might send his son who is a king. He sent Him, as sending God; He sent Him, as [a man] unto men; He sent Him, as Saviour, as using persuasion, not force: for force is no attribute of God.
Rowan Williams would agree.

Picketing Akinola

News from "Akinola Repent" about an event on Sunday:

[Archbishop Peter] Akinola will appear at the chapel of ultra-conservative Wheaton College at 10:30 a.m . The chapel is located at the corner of Washington and Franklin Streets in Wheaton, Illinois, about 30 miles west of downtown Chicago. (Wheaton College is not the target of this protest.)

The demonstration will be peaceful and will not disrupt the church service. It is aimed not only at the archbishop but at his American enablers, former Episcopalians with a particular antipathy for Gay people who are splitting the Church to keep Gay people out.

Gay and Straight Episcopalians will gather at 8 a.m. for Mass at St. James’s Cathedral, 65 E. Huron St., Chicago, then drive to Wheaton for the demonstration, which will last one hour, from 10-11 a.m. Protesters will march in procession on the sidewalk opposite the Wheaton College Chapel and will not interfere with those attending the church service.

The demonstration is co-sponsored by dailyoffice.org, a prayer website serving the Episcopal Church, and the Gay Liberation Network of Chicago.

Dailyoffice.org sponsored an American speaking tour for Davis Mac-Iyalla earlier this summer, with appearances in 20 U.S. cities.

For more information contact Josh Thomas at josh@dailyoffice.org.

Canterbury on Uyo

The Archbishop of Canterbury has diplomatically ducked out of the controversy about homophobic remarks attributed to the Bishop of Uyo. The full release reads:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has spoken of his relief at receiving assurances over news agency reports attributing offensive remarks to the Bishop of Uyo, Nigeria, the Rt Revd Isaac Orama.

"As I said last week, these reports were very concerning and it is a great relief to have had full assurances that the stories were false and should never have appeared. I am grateful that the prospect of the severe offence that would have been caused has now abated".

Those of us who have worked for American news organizations are still wondering why the News Agency of Nigeria has never formally retracted this story, although the individual reporter did. I don't think we are likely to find out, though.

News, news, news

News. News News. Reports from everywhere. Have a look at what the mainstream media is saying about the House of Bishops meeting that began this morning in New Orleans.

Rachel Zoll has written a strum and drang free story for the Associated Press.

Cathy Lee Grossman of USA Today has also overcome the temptation to suggest that the sky is not only falling, but will in fact land before the end of the month.

Rebecca Trounson of The Los Angeles Times features these two quote:

And in a recent telephone interview, Jefferts Schori said that despite the approaching deadline, the Episcopal Church would "continue to be the church on Oct. 1 and in November and beyond." She said she did not expect major changes in the church's relationships within the communion as a result of the meeting.

And:

The Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, said Wednesday that he did not expect those decisions to be overturned at the bishops' meeting. "I don't believe we have the power to go beyond that before the General Convention," he said. "And if the primates think some magic change will occur in the House of Bishops and the national church in which we say we rescind everything, that's not going to happen."

The Chicago Tribune and Raleigh News and Observer have local angles.

The Telegraph is overhyping the situation, although this paragraph is insightful:

But he is aware that even if he does achieve a form of words that placates moderates, conservative hardliners may still reject the deal and to force damaging new splits by boycotting the ten-yearly Conference of Anglican bishops in Canterbury.

And Andrew Brown ends his commentary on the Guardian Web site with this pearl:

The Anglican Communion contains a majority of primates who take a Grand Inquisitor's view of politics; and some who would be happy to hand over heretics or at least homosexuals to the secular arm for punishment; some who encourage the belief that they can perform miracles, more or less, when their people need it; and plenty who use or threaten to use the power of money and modern science to expand their client base.

Rowan Williams, like Christ, renounces these powers; but when an Archbishop renounces powers he does not abolish them, he hands them to his enemies. Like Christ in the parable, Rowan's response to the Grand Inquisitors of the world is to kiss them on their bloodless lips and then slip out into darkness and obscurity through the door they have held open for him. When Christ kisses him, the inquisitor is touched in his heart but his beliefs and his actions do not change. Fresh heretics will burn when morning comes.


From New Orleans: Eight bishops agree to serve as "episcopal visitors"

Eight bishops agree to serve as 'episcopal visitors'
by Bob Williams

[Episcopal News Service, New Orleans] Eight bishops have accepted Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's invitation to serve as "episcopal visitors" to dioceses that have requested this provision.

At her request, the Presiding Bishop's canon, the Rev. Dr. Charles Robertson, advised Episcopal News Service of this measure the evening of September 19. The announcement preceded the opening plenary session of the House of Bishops' September 20-25 meeting in New Orleans. Robertson said Jefferts Schori expected to announce the names of the eight bishops during that session, which is devoted to the bishops' private conversation with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, and is closed to the public and media.

Jefferts Schori has conferred with Williams about the invitations, which she extended after a process of consultation with bishops in the Episcopal Church, Robertson said.

"All eight are true bridge-builders who empathize with the concerns and needs of dioceses that are struggling with the issues of the current time," Robertson said, adding that "while all are sympathetic to to these concerns, each is clear that the Presiding Bishop's ultimate goal is reconciliation."

The eight are active diocesan bishops Frank Brookhart of Montana, Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina (based in Columbia, S.C.), John Howe of Central Florida (based in Orlando), Gary Lillibridge of West Texas (based in San Antonio), Michael Smith of North Dakota, James Stanton of Dallas, and Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island, together with retired Connecticut Bishop Clarence Coleridge.

Robertson said all have agreed to serve as official "episcopal visitors" (the lowercase adjective referring generally to bishops and their ministries rather than the church's denomination), or to provide "Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight" (DEPO), an option provided by the House of Bishops' March 2004 statement "Caring for All the Churches" and a concept affirmed by the General Convention in 2006.

Jefferts Schori's invitation to the eight bishops seeks to delegate the first of three primary canonical duties of the Presiding Bishop, that of visiting each of the Episcopal Church's 110 dioceses during each Presiding Bishop's nine-year term. The Presiding Bishop's other two principal canonical roles are to "take order" for ordaining and consecrating bishops, and to oversee certain disciplinary actions as needed.

The Presiding Bishop's invitation to the eight bishops "offers opportunities for dioceses to have an episcopal visitor other than herself," Robertson said.

"This gives dioceses the pastoral guidance and care they need while remaining faithful and loyal members of the Episcopal Church," he said. "It is also the Presiding Bishop's hope that at some point in the future she would be invited to visit these dioceses."

The action is "a significant effort at building a bridge while still honoring our uniquely American polity," Robertson said.

He added that Jefferts Schori is "comfortable letting the details be worked out by the bishops involved."

From among the Episcopal Church's 110 total dioceses, six stand by requests
initiated in 2006 for pastoral oversight other than that of the current Presiding Bishop. Those dioceses are Central Florida, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy (based in Peoria, Illinois), Springfield (Illinois), and San Joaquin (based in Fresno, California). A similar request by the Diocese of Dallas was later modified.

In all of these dioceses there has been expressed opposition to the 2003 election and ordination as diocesan bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson, who is openly gay and lives in a long-standing committed relationship with his male partner.

In three of these dioceses -- Fort Worth, Quincy and San Joaquin -- the bishops have not ordained women despite the General Convention's 1976 authorization to do so.

-- Canon Robert Williams is director of Episcopal Life Media, the new communication group that includes the Episcopal News Service.

On the scene in New Orleans

John Gibson and John Bradley are in New Orleans covering the House of Bishops meeting for Integrity. You can read their dispatches at Walking with Integrity.

Two more Primates for inclusion

MANCHESTER, September 20, 2007 – Two Archbishops are to speak at Manchester Cathedral, calling for the Church of England to be inclusive.

The Archbishop of Mexico and the leader of the Scottish Episcopal Church are taking part in a conference Celebrating Anglican Diversity, which will celebrate the long tradition of a diverse Church that welcomes all people. It is being held on September 29.

Most Rev. Carlos Touche-Porter, Archbishop Mexico, has longstanding experience of inclusion and diversity issues within the Church, including the place of gay and lesbian Christians.

He is part of an emerging network of Anglican Bishops based mainly in Latin America (“the Global Centre”) aiming to celebrate the unity and diversity of the Communion.

“Inclusion is a reality in the Anglican Church, despite reports to the contrary,” Archbishop Carlos said:

“I am very much looking forward to being in the UK as part of our preparations for a positive Lambeth Conference.”

Read it all.

Day 1

Updated: Interestingly, the Thursday night AP story quotes from the item below.

Not a lot to report from our friends who were in the room. At House of Bishops meetings, the bishops all sit at assigned tables with colleagues whom they have sat with at previous meetings. At tables this morning they were asked what were their greatest hopes and greatest fears for the meeting. Each table answered these questions and reported back to the meeting.

I am a little shaky on the time sequence here, but at some point during the course of the day, Archbishop Williams suggested that the Episcopal Church needed to exercise greater concern for its catholicity. Bishop Michael Curry at some later point replied that catholicity, by definition, cannot be built upon the exclusion of one class of people.

The archbishop made it clear that he believed the Episcopal Church had acted preemptively in consecrating Bishop Robinson.

In the afternoon Archbishop Williams asked the bishops how far they were willing to go to assure the rest of the Anglican Communion that the Church will refrain from a) consecrating another openly gay bishop and b) authorizing rites of blessing for same-sex unions. He also asked whether the bishops are willing to share episcopal responsibilities with other bishops when necessary.

The answer to those questions must ultimately be embodied in resolutions. For perusing other blogs, I sense that not much news was committed at the news conference.

From Episcopal Life Online news from the press conference.

Tomorrow's news tonight

The most intriguing story on the wires at the moment comes from Australia, but there are also dispatches from the Associated Press, which quotes from the Day 1 item down blog a bit, Reuters and the Press Association.

Updates: The Washington Post's curtain-raiser is here, and it suggest that host Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana might play a key role in the proceedings. The hometown Times-Picayune (one of the best newspaper names going) offers a wrap up of day one.

The news organization previously known as Agence France Press also gets into the act. Their story includes some interesting quotes from the president of the Berkeley Divinity School (which is an Episcopal seminary) at Yale, but it misidentifies him as the president of the Yale Divinity School. (Which is not an Episcopal seminary.) The report also confuses Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney with Archbishop Philip Aspinall, the primate of Australia. Williams enjoys an excellent relationship with the latter.

Archbishop Peter Akinola is also making himself heard. He has spoken with the only Western reporter he knows he can count on. He has been very selective since this disastrous encounter with The New York Times, which began:

The way he tells the story, the first and only time Archbishop Peter J. Akinola knowingly shook a gay person’s hand, he sprang backward the moment he realized what he had done.

But back to the story from Australia. It is based on an interview with Archbishop Aspinall, given just before he left for New Orleans:

The Primate of the Anglican Church in Australia, Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Brisbane, said the mood within the Anglican Communion was one of reconciliation where the vast majority of them were seeking a middle-way to deal with the homosexuality issue that is threatening to break the Communion apart.

In an interview with the Religion Report, broadcast on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Archbishop Aspinall talked about the need to find a ‘constructive step’ to resolve the debate on the subject of gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex partnership, noting this problem could not be fixed instantly with one solution.

“…No-one is expecting a quick fix and once-and-for-all solution for all time from the meeting this week in the United States. Rather we hope that in conversation and prayer and mutual discernment, we might be able to see constructive next steps,” he said

Aspinall was in the thick of the negotiations in Dar es Salaam. He will be in the thick of things in New Orleans as well. Contrast his tone with that of Archbishop Akinola. They don't seem to be summarizing the same situation. So who has the better grip?

Archbishop of Canterbury gets a taste of New Orleans

From Episcopal News Service

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams suggested September 20 during an ecumenical service at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center that New Orleans's recovery could remake the city into God's image of the holy city.

Noting the service's reading from Zechariah 8:3-13, Williams said that the image of the holy city is not based on strength of a city's arts community, business sector, educational offerings, or social-welfare programs.

"What makes a great, godly city is that it is a safe place for older people to sit and children to play in the streets," he said, adding that few people live in that kind of city anywhere in the world today.

Earlier in the day, Williams visited the site of a former Walgreens drugstore in the lower Ninth Ward to bless what will become the new home of the Church of All Souls, founded in New Orleans' lower Ninth after Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing flood devastated the neighborhood. The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana helped to plant the church at the invitation of the neighborhood.

Williams said that, like the rainbow was a promise of God's everlasting presence after the Flood, the All Souls effort is a sign that "God hasn't gone away and God's people haven't gone away."

Read it all.

Many proposals being floated at the House of Bishops meeting

There are at least four versions of proposed resolutions posted online this morning. Some are being put forward by coalitions of bishops, others by single bishops. The Lead is aware that there are many more versions being put together than have yet to be posted. However the blog TitusOneNine has some of them excerpted and posted.

A part of the resolution that is said to have been proposed by Bishop Peter Lee of the Diocese of Virginia:

"The General Convention speaks for the Episcopal Church and we bishops understand that resolution as providing an assurance to the wider communion that meets the requests of the Primates' Communique from the Primates' meeting in Tanzania. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church has never authorized the blessing of intimate unions between same sex partners. While the Episcopal Church has, for some forty years, explored the most faithful way of ministering to and with gay and lesbian people who are part of our common life, as a liturgical church, our official actions are expressed in our liturgies and no rite of blessing has ever been adopted by the General Convention."

Read the rest of them here

Excerpts from Bishops' speeches

Mary Ailes, posting on BabyBlueOnline, has the text of a speech delivered in the first morning session of the House of Bishop's meeting in New Orleans. Bishop Anis is the Presiding Bishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. In the speech the Bishop lays out the choice the Episcopal Church has before it as he sees it.

"My friends, if you really believe that the truth revealed to you is different from that shown to the rest of the Communion, then you need to uphold that claim with boldness even at the risk of losing unity. If you think it is right and necessary to ordain and consecrate practicing homosexuals and that you should bless same sex partnerships or even marriages, you should be true to what you believe is right and accept the consequences.

However, if you appreciate being members of the global Anglican family, then you have to walk along side the members of your family. Those who say that it is important to stay together around the table, to listen to each other and to continue our dialogue over the difficult issues that are facing us are wise. We wholeheartedly agree with this, but staying around the table requires that you should not take actions that are contrary to the standard position (Lambeth 1:10) of the rest of the Communion.

Sitting around the table requires humility from all of us. One church cannot say to the rest of the churches 'I know the whole truth, you don't'. Sitting around one table requires that each one should have a clear stance before the discussion starts. It also requires true openness and willingness to accept the mind of the whole. We do not have to be in one communion to sit around one table. We do so when we dialogue with the Roman Catholics, the Orthodox an with other faiths. It would be extremely difficult to sit around one table when you have already decided the outcome of the discussion and when you ignore the many voices, warnings, and appeals from around the Communion."

Read the here

Note: Anis word's recall those of Abp. Venables earlier this spring, "[Venables] admitted it was unlikely TEC would be able to comply with the September 30 deadline. 'They are just continuing with what they did as a result of conviction. It is extremely unlikely that they will back off. It would be a complete denial of everything that has happened."

From the other side of the aisle, Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California has released the text of the remarks he made in the meeting yesterday afternoon:

With respect to sexual orientation, it must be said that the Episcopal Church is the main refuge for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people who are seeking to lead a Christian life. These people are primarily not natives of the Bay Area, they come from all over the United States and indeed the world. They have come to San Francisco and the Bay Area seeking a life where they are not subjected to discrimination and violence, where they can lead normal lives, and in some cases, Christian lives. It is my responsibility to provide a context for this search for holiness of life.

It is also important to say here that the Episcopal Church in the Bay Area is immeasurably enriched by the presence of LGBT people in our parishes and missions. These are gifted, faithful Christian people, lay and ordained, passionate about their faith and church. It is hard to imagine what the Diocese of California would be like without these great people, but I can get something of a picture by remembering the many places I’ve lived from which they have come to the Bay Area, places where they were barred from employment, pushed out of their homes and families, and yes, found cold welcome in churches, and tragically in some instances, were subjected to physical violence. For every one of these men and women enlivening the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of California there are empty places all over the United States where their graceful presences are missing.

This is also true for me regarding Gene Robinson. He has helped this body of bishops of the Church with intelligence, passion, humility and great courage over the past four years, and I know he has served his diocese in the same manner. I hope, simply, that there will not be a Gene-shaped space at the Lambeth Conference where the living child of God Gene should be.


Wales defers on Anglican Covenant

The Church of Wales has voted "no" to the proposed language of the Anglican Covenant. The Archbishop of Wales speaking earlier this week suggested that the present form of the Covenant was in danger of being used as a contract to exclude certain people rather than a way of inviting as many people as possible.

From the website icWales

"Members of the Church in Wales have voted not to approve a draft version of the Anglican Covenant.

Dr Barry Morgan, the Archbishop of Wales said he fears the draft covenant will lead to one voice on controversial issues, such as homosexuality, which members would have to sign up to or leave.

All churches in the Anglican worldwide community are considering the Covenant.

The Church in Wales’ governing body agreed overwhelmingly to note the process of formulating a covenant at a meeting at the University of Wales Lampeter.

And the body invited the Welsh bishops to finalise a response for the Covenant Design Group by the end of the year."

Read the rest: Church defers decision on Covenant

Day 2

Updated, revised, corrected

A very partial account of the second day of the House of Bishops meeting based on conversations with three persons present in the meetings:

Today the House of Bishops heard from members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council.

The speakers included Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis, Jerusalem and the Middle East, whose presentation was leaked to conservative bloggers and is available here, Chancellor Philippa Amable of West Africa, Bishop James Tengatenga of Central Africa, Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales and Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Australia.

Anis was the most confrontational. The bishops we spoke with were depressed by his presentation because it contrasted so sharply with the flexibility expressed in private conversation by other members of the delegation.

Ms. Amable, who attended the recent conference of African and Episcopal bishops convened by Trinity Church Wall Street in Spain, spoke, among others things, about the profound differences between American and west African cultures. She told the bishops that heterosexual monogamy was the “norm” and that they had to realize that the majority of the Primates did not “resonate” to the views of the Episcopal Church.

After Bishop Tengatenga’s presentation, Archbishop Aspinall reviewed the contents of the Dar es Salaam communique. Archbishop Morgan spoke about the breadth of beliefs and practices regarding human sexuality in Wales, and said the Episcopal Church was not alone in struggling with this issue.

One bishop we spoke with said a member of the Joint Standing Committee had offered a private apology for Archbishop Anis’ remarks.

All three of the people we spoke with said the mood of the bishops after the morning session was glum because most of the speakers seemed to be pushing them toward an either or choice between conscience and unity.

But Archbishop Rowan Williams, at an early afternoon press conference, suggested there was room for compromise:

“Despite what has been claimed, there is no ‘ultimatum’ involved. The primates asked for a response by September 30 simply because we were aware that this was the meeting of the house likely to be formulating such a response. The ACC and Primates Joint Standing Committee will be reading and digesting what the bishops have to say, and will let me know their thoughts on it early next week. After this I shall be sharing what they say, along with my own assessments, with the primates and others, inviting their advice in the next couple of weeks.

Williams also said that it was only natural that there would be a variety interpretations of the communiqué among the 38 Primates of the Communion, but that he did not read it as a set of demands, and that he did not see September 30 as a “deadline.”

(I suggested that the deadline had "lost some of its luster" in an article published on Monday.)

I am not certain about this, but I believe the deadline for submitting resolutions to be considered on Monday was at 4 or 5 p. m. Central time. There are numerous resolutions to be considered, and the Presiding Bishop and the leaders of the House may find it challenging to do them all justice. As one bishop said: This is a big sandbox and everybody has brought their favorite toys.

Kirk Smith reflects on events in New Orleans so far

Bishop Kirk Smith of the Diocese of Arizona has sent his thoughts about the past two days of the House of Bishop's meeting. His weekly e-pistle includes his concerns about the tenor of the conversation so far, and the frustration he's feeling at being asked to chose between people he loves.

From the Bishop's E-Pistle for Friday September 21 2007
(The Feast of St. Matthew)

I am writing this afternoon from New Orleans where I am attending the House of Bishops’ Fall meeting. What hangs over us a bit like a cloud—and in fact we are expecting to be hit with a severe tropical storm tomorrow—are the decisions we must make after having met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who departed this afternoon after spending about 8 hours in conversation with us.

I must confess disappointment at most of that dialogue. The Archbishop spent most of his time listening, and only about a half hour speaking to the concerns that were raised. He was asked some rather pointed questions including why he had not invited Bishop Gene Robinson to the 2008 Lambeth conference, and what was he going to do about those Primates who had invaded dioceses in this country. Archbishop Williams chose instead to talk mostly about the nature of the office of bishop, which he understands to be “a servant of common discernment, keeping the most people at the table as long as possible because truth can only be found in conversation with the greatest number of the faithful”. That may be true enough, but what about a bishop’s obligation to protect the forgotten and stand with the oppressed?

In broad terms he asked us to postpone our own church’s agenda in favor of peace in the larger Communion. That desire was more strongly expressed by four members of the Anglican Advisory Council who spoke to us this morning. They again urged us to consider affirming in some way what was asked of us by the Primates at their February meeting in Dar Es Salaam, namely to refrain from consecrating openly gay bishops and approving same sex blessings; offer alternative primatial oversight to dioceses who wish it; and allow our church to be monitored by a council made up of other Provinces. Most of us feel again the frustration of being caught in the conundrum of wanting to walk with our world-wide partners without turning our backs on our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. Many of us also believe we have already done all we can to appease those who differ with us in these matters. It seems we are being given a “Sophie’s choice,” being ask to pick who we love more. Whatever choice is made, people will be hurt. Even the option of refusing to choose can be interpreted by both parties as rejection.

Up to now we have had the chance to revisit the same old hurts and frustrations. On Monday we will see what we can do to create some kind of a response.

In the meantime, we are going to (literally) put on our work gloves and spend tomorrow in the 9th Ward of the City. On Sunday we will worship at various parishes. Perhaps having a time-out to work and pray together will allow us, as the Archbishop asked, “to find a way to surprise the world.”

Evening news round-up

Here's what's been crossing the wires this evening from various and sundry corners. All this information is sourced as cited--some reporters are still using various unnamed witnesses. Some of this you've heard from our sources, but in case you'd like to see confirmation of the "it's not an ultimatum" statement, read on.

This take on the meeting from Jonathan Petre in the UK Telegraph:

Dr Rowan Williams is holding two days of crisis talks in New Orleans in an eleventh-hour effort to persuade the bishops of the American branch of Anglicanism to reverse their pro-gay agenda. But insiders said that a number of the liberal bishops were in no mood to capitulate, and any compromise that they might eventually accept was unlikely to placate conservatives who want them ousted.

However, his word-of-mouth reporting (remember what we said about sources?) reveals that:

According to witnesses, [Robinson] said that for Dr Williams to present the situation as a choice between fidelity to gays and fidelity to the Communion "is one of the most dehumanising things I have heard in a long time" and he wanted no part of it.

Another liberal, the Bishop of Massachussetts, the Rt Rev Thomas Shaw, also criticised the Archbishop for failing to honour the American Church's "prophetic discernment" in consecrating Bishop Robinson.

One insider said: "The speeches we heard suggested that the tide was running heavily in the direction of saying to the Archbishop, thank you for your concern but we have made up our minds and we are going forward."

Link here.

Local media outlets are reporting on how the meeting's unfolding is playing out in the dioceses close to home, such as, on the one hand, Quincy in the Quad-Cities Online (Ill.), with an angle that certainly reflects the sources quoted. On the other hand, The Chicago Tribune, quoting Bps. William Persell and John Chane, is decidedly vague in this piece, perhaps because the reporter doesn't understand all the issues at play?

The Washington Post reports that reports of this being the Anglican Communion's final answer may be premature:

The head of the Anglican Communion offered words of encouragement yesterday to U.S. Episcopal bishops under fire for their support of gay men and lesbians, saying they aren't facing an "ultimatum," even as other leaders of the worldwide church insisted the Americans are teetering on being forced out of the communion.

Their write up is here.

The Agence-French Press, syndicated onto Google a la AP, has the direct quote on this:


Williams, while acknowledging the contentious nature of the debate, sought to downplay talk of a split.

"Despite what has been claimed, there is no ultimatum involved," he said at a press conference.

Asked if the church was prepared to let some congregations break away, Williams said, "I think it would be rather an admission of defeat if we said that we were incapable of working together on the issues that divide us.

"Whether we get to that point, I don't know. I have to say God forbid."

Neither Williams nor Jefferts Schori would indicate how the Episcopal church will respond.

"We have had stimulating and provocative conversation over the last day and a half," Jefferts Schori said. "The hope is that we have a full response by the time we close our meeting."

Williams, however, hinted that a delicate balance was needed so as to respect theological convictions while avoiding discrimination.

More from the AFP here.

The Associated Press report perhaps illuminates most concisely how this plays against the Primates' September 30 deadline, supplementing with another quote from the press conference, in this piece:

"It's been presented sadly as a set of demands," Williams said in a news conference before he left. "I don't think that what was in the primates' minds. In fact, I'm sure it isn't."

The rest of that story is here.

More to come in the morning, as my newsfeeds runneth over, but one parting thought, from the blog of Bp. Christopher Epting, the Ecubishop, who is also blogging from the meeting. He notes that emotions run deep on these issues and it shows, but tomorrow is another day:

Another difficult day. We listened to passionate testimonies from members of the Anglican Consultative Council and several Primates of the Anglican Communion. Clearly, they want more from us than General Convention has said. We will certainly not — and cannot — usurp the prerogatives of our synodical form of government including bishops, priests, deacons, and the laity making decisions together.

On the other hand, there are — in our checks and balances system — specific responsibilities given to bishops, as well as to the other orders of ministry. We can give or withhold consent to episcopal ordinations. We can authorize, or refuse to authorize, specific liturgies in our dioceses. We can cooperate, or refuse to cooperate, with “delegated episcopal oversight” in our dioceses. These are among the decisions we will have to make.

After thanking the Archbishop of Canterbury and our other visitors on the floor of the House this morning, I also thanked the House of Bishops Planning Committee for the schedule. Today was not a day to craft a “Mind of the House Resolution” on these matters. Many of us were too angry.

But now we have the weekend to “take a deep breath.” We hang dry wall and paint houses tomorrow. We worship with the people of Louisiana and Mississippi on Sunday.

Bates: Williams escapes

Stephen Bates writes in The Guardian overnight of his impressions of the scene in New Orleans. He describes the surreal aspects of the Archbishop Williams' visit to the city, his admiration of our church's involvement in the rebuilding efforts and contrasts that with the specter of the breaking apart of the same church.

Toward the end of the article he writes of the events and the atmosphere surrounding the end of the Archbishop's time with the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops:

"In the hotel's echoing marble halls, patrolled by security guards yesterday to prevent the media from getting too close, there was an atmosphere of plotting and rumour. Ever since the church elected the openly gay bishop Gene Robinson four years ago divisions between liberals and conservatives have grown poisonous and the abuse vicious, particularly from the conservatives.

There were rumours yesterday that the small conservative faction - who openly want to split the US church and hope to be recognised as Anglicanism's rightful representatives in the US - would walk out as soon as Dr Williams left. Their bishops are not even staying in the same hotel.

Eight more moderate conservative bishops who were put forward to act as episcopal visitors for parishes who no longer want to recognise the church's liberal leadership were immediately, quaintly, denounced on blog sites as traitors, quislings and vichy-ites

No wonder Dr Williams wanted to get away. His spirits seemed lifted only during an evening service at which a jazz band led the congregation in a traditional procession, the sort where musicians lead funeral mourners. As Dr Williams swayed and clapped self-consciously, no one questioned whether the funeral might be that of the world's third largest Christian denomination."

Read all of the article here.

Separately, Bates announced

This week’s meeting between Rowan Williams and the American bishops will be my swan-song as a religious affairs correspondent, after eight years covering the subject for The Guardian. I’d have been less keen to attend had the venue been Detroit, but where better to end it? It is time to move on for me professionally, and probably for Anglicans too and this marks a suitable place to stop. There is also no doubting, personally, that writing this story has been too corrosive of what faith I had left: indeed watching the way the gay row has played out in the Anglican Communion has cost me my belief in the essential benignity of too many Christians.For the good of my soul, I need to do something else.

Read it all here.

HoB updates, background continue to emerge

From the background side of things, we noticed this earlier this week but in the swarm of information that's been passing through, we're getting it up a bit belatedly. PBS' Religion and Ethics Weekly takes a look at what's going on this weekend, featuring preview interviews with Abp. Williams as well as Presiding Bishop Schori, Episcopal Bps. Jenkins and Chane, and Anglican Bp. Guernsey. The main feature is this week's lead story, and can be found here. A Cafe Hat Tip to Simon Sarmiento over at ThinkingAnglicans.org for reminding us to get this out there, and click over to his post for links to specific interviews from the American bishops in the PBS story and additional commentary from both sides of the aisle worth reading.

The Living Church has an item on five "mind of the house" resolutions being submitted for discussion. Bear in mind, however, that it isn't a complete account of the resolutions that have been submitted so much as a summary of those that have been leaked so far and an account of the process that's been put in place for their presentation.


Episcope points to more stories from the mainstream press after Day 2 here.

Meanwhile, north of the border...

While the threat of schism looms and journalists fritter over whether the Communion will go this way or that over whom the U.S. church elects and confirms to its Episcopate, well, there's always Canada. From the Anglican Church of Canada website:


It was an accidental picnic that first got the Anglicans and Lutherans of Carman, Man., together.

Lutheran pastor Jim Halmarson explained how 12 years ago the town double-booked the local park, so members of his congregation had to flip their burgers alongside the Anglicans. The afternoon of forced fellowship started a three-year process of closer relations, from joint worship services to eventually an amalgamated church, Grace St. John's Anglican / Lutheran.

These unions develop gradually. In June, Canadian Anglicans and Lutherans deepened their Full Communion relationship when their two national meetings voted to allow ministers to hold offices in each other's denominations.

On the Anglican end, this means that Lutherans can hold offices governed by General Synod, for instance as a member of the triennial General Synod meeting. It may also mean that a Lutheran could hold higher offices within the church.

"It would now be possible for a Lutheran to be elected an Anglican bishop, which would be interesting," said Alyson Barnett-Cowan, director of Faith, Worship, and Ministry for the Anglican General Synod. In order for this to happen, provinces and dioceses would need to amend their canons, a step that some have already taken.

Rev. Halmarson welcomed the news. "I think it gives us a diversity for discovering leadership at different levels," he said. He also thinks there's a "good possibility" that a Lutheran bishop may be elected in an Anglican church (or vice versa) during his lifetime.

The whole thing is here.

A schism of one's own

Writing in the Church Times, Giles Fraser raises an objection to the appointment of border crossing bishops:

In reality [breakway parishes] declared their independence from the national Church years ago. They are effectively independent city-states that have pulled up the drawbridge and will not be told what to do by anyone. Priests of big churches in the US often act like mini prince-bishops — hence the convenience of a faraway seat of authority.

To come under Nigeria is effectively to do as they please. It allows them to put “Anglican” on the board, though they are basically congregationalists by a posher-sounding name. When they fall out with their new best friends in Nigeria — the history of schism suggests they will — another bishop will be found.

Meanwhile, Simon Sarmiento tries to cut through the hype surrounding the various African initiatives in the Unites States and find out how many congregations truly exist.

Dissatisfaction and revision

Steve Waring of the Living Church has done a good job of highlighting some of the dissatisfaction that many members of the House of Bishops felt toward the initial draft of a "mind of the house" resolution. He discusses the dissatisfaction here, and the attempts at revisions, here.

Rachel Zoll's most recent story for the Associated Press is here.

John Clinton Bradley of Integrity is following all developments.

And elsewhere, the Chicago Tribune's nicely-balanced coverage of Archbishop Peter Akinola's visit to the Chicago area gave people opposed to Akinola's notions about human sexuality plenty of room to make their case.

Joint Standing Committee departs

The members of the Joint Standing Commitee of the Primates Meeting and the Anglican Consultative (a group desperately in need of a shorter nickname) have decamped for the airport. It would have been nice if the House of Bishops had managed to get them something to respond to while they were still in town. I have a vague sense from just a couple of conversations that the tension at the moment is not so much between liberals and conservatives as it is between those who think the bishops need to say something definitive about the election of gay bishops and the blessing of same sex relationships and those who don't.

Please submit nicknames for the Joint Standing Committee by commenting on this item. News bloggers for the Episcopal Cafe and their families are not eligible.

Bishop Epting predicts a long day

Bishop Christopher Epting believes it may take all day for the House of Bishops to finish work on a response to the Dar es Salaam communique and a letter to the Church. Read his blog, "That We All May Be One."

Note here, that he only expresses "hope" that the house will finish the job:

We have most of today (Tuesday) to get this done and I have hope that we will indeed complete our work. It’s a very difficult task, given the diversity of this House, but that very diversity is part of the richness of the Episcopal Church and, at least historically, Anglicanism.

During General Convention when conservatives suggested that the Episcopal Church was thumbing its nose at the Anglican Communion, I disagreed, pointing out that thumbing your nose requires enough coordination to get your hand to your face.

I am praying for an improvement in the House of Bishops' gross motor skills.

Saying too much?

Update: closing session getting underway.

When the House of Bishops reconvenes, it will vote on a resolution of "seven or eight" bullet points written in resolution style followed by about a page and a half of explanatory langauge. I am told that there is general agreement on the bullet points, but that some bishops feel the explanatory language says more than is necessary, and raises issues that don't need to be addressed. The PB thinks they can wrap this up by the 5 p. m. Eucharist.

Piecing it together

The House of Bishops is preparing to receive the resolutions from the drafting committee. Bishop Wayne Wright of Delaware is currently reading the first of two documents. The document he is reading doesn't contain the "response" to the Anglican Communion. I will be adding to this file as I receive more information from friends and colleagues in New Orleans.

Bishop Jefferts Schori is preparing to read the response, but currently Bishop Jenkins is reading a resolution on racism.

Episcope is live blogging.

The resolutions via EpiScope

In accordance with our Lord's prayer and A159 and Great Commission and in gratitude for the Holy Spirit's gift of reconciliation, we offer the following...with the hope of mending the tear in the fabric of our common life.

1 Cor 9:19-23

The House of Bishops expresses thanks to the AbC and JSC for accepting our invitation. Honored and assisted us in our discernment. Reminder of unity. Much of our meeting time in discernment.

Responses

Common discernment of God's call includes all

We reconfirm that B033 of GC 2006 calls upon us to exercise restraint in consents.

We pledge not to authorize public rites for same-sex blessings.

Commend Episcopal Visitors plan.

Deplore incursions by foreign primates and call for them to cease.

Support PB in consultation.

Call for listening process.

Support AbC in desire for Bishop of NH to participate in Lambeth.

Unequivocal support for civil rights for lgbts.

House of Bishops passes compromise resolution

The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church has passed the following statement by a voice vote with only a single voice in opposition. A printer-friendly version is here.

House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church
New Orleans, Louisiana
September 25, 2007

A Response to Questions and Concerns Raised by our Anglican Communion Partners:

In accordance with Our Lord's high priestly prayer that we be one, and in the spirit of Resolution A159 of the 75th General Convention, and in obedience to his Great Commission to go into the world and make disciples, and in gratitude for the gift of the Anglican Communion as a sign of the Holy Spirit's ongoing work of reconciliation throughout the world, we offer the following to The Episcopal Church, the Primates, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), and the larger Communion, with the hope of "mending the tear in the fabric" of our common life in Christ.

"I do it all for the sake of the Gospel so that I might share in its blessings."
1 Corinthians 9:23.

Introduction

The House of Bishops expresses sincere and heartfelt thanks to the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates for accepting our invitation to join us in New Orleans. By their presence they have both honored us and assisted us in our discernment. Their presence was a living reminder of the unity that is Christ's promised gift in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Much of our meeting time was spent in continuing discernment of our relationships within the Anglican Communion. We engaged in careful listening and straightforward dialogue with our guests. We expressed our passionate desire to remain in communion. It is our conviction that The Episcopal Church needs the Anglican Communion, and we heard from our guests that the Anglican Communion needs The Episcopal Church.

The House of Bishops offers the following responses to our Anglican Communion partners. We believe they provide clarity and point toward next steps in an ongoing process of dialogue. Within The Episcopal Church the common discernment of God's call is a lively partnership among laypersons, bishops, priests, and deacons, and therefore necessarily includes the Presiding Bishop, the Executive Council, and the General Convention.

Summary

  • We reconfirm that resolution B033 of General Convention 2006 (The Election Of Bishops) calls upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees "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."
  • We pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.
  • We commend our Presiding Bishop's plan for episcopal visitors.
  • We deplore incursions into our jurisdictions by uninvited bishops and call for them to end.
  • We support the Presiding Bishop in seeking communion-wide consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.
  • We call for increasing implementation of the listening process across the Communion and for a report on its progress to Lambeth 2008.
  • We support the Archbishop of Canterbury in his expressed desire to explore ways for the Bishop of New Hampshire to participate in the Lambeth Conference.
  • We call for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety, and dignity of gay and lesbian persons.

Discussion

Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention
The House of Bishops concurs with Resolution EC011 of the Executive Council. This Resolution commends the Report of the Communion Sub-Group of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion as an accurate evaluation of Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention, calling upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees "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." (1) The House acknowledges that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains.

Blessing of Same-Sex Unions
We, the members of the House of Bishops, pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. In the near future we hope to be able to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide listening process. In the meantime, it is important to note that no rite of blessing for persons living in same-sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. In addition to not having authorized liturgies the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions. We do note that in May 2003 the Primates said we have a pastoral duty "to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations." They further stated, "…[I]t is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care."

Episcopal Visitors
We affirm the Presiding Bishop's plan to appoint episcopal visitors for dioceses that request alternative oversight. Such oversight would be provided by bishops who are a part of and subject to the communal life of this province. We believe this plan is consistent with and analogous to Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) as affirmed by the Windsor Report (paragraph 152). We thank those bishops who have generously offered themselves for this ministry. We hope that dioceses will make use of this plan and that the Presiding Bishop will continue conversation with those dioceses that may feel the need for such ministries. We appreciate and need to hear all voices in The Episcopal Church.

Incursions by Uninvited Bishops
We call for an immediate end to diocesan incursions by uninvited bishops in accordance with the Windsor Report and consistent with the statements of past Lambeth Conferences and the Ecumenical Councils of the Church. Such incursions imperil common prayer and long-established ecclesial principles of our Communion. These principles include respect for local jurisdiction and recognition of the geographical boundaries of dioceses and provinces. As we continue to commit ourselves to honor both the spirit and the content of the Windsor Report, we call upon those provinces and bishops engaging in such incursions likewise to honor the Windsor Report by ending them. We offer assurance that delegated episcopal pastoral care is being provided for those who seek it.

Communion-wide Consultation
In their communiqué of February 2007, the Primates proposed a "pastoral scheme." At our meeting in March 2007, we expressed our deep concern that this scheme would compromise the authority of our own primate and place the autonomy of The Episcopal Church at risk. The Executive Council reiterated our concerns and declined to participate. Nevertheless, we recognize a useful role for communion-wide consultation with respect to the pastoral needs of those seeking alternative oversight, as well as the pastoral needs of gay and lesbian persons in this and other provinces. We encourage our Presiding Bishop to continue to explore such consultation in a manner that is in accord with our Constitution and Canons.

The Listening Process
The 1998 Lambeth Conference called all the provinces of the Anglican Communion to engage in a "listening process" designed to bring gay and lesbian Anglicans fully into the Church's conversation about human sexuality. We look forward to receiving initial reports about this process at the 2008 Lambeth Conference and to participating with others in this crucial enterprise. We are aware that in some cultural contexts conversation concerning homosexuality is difficult. We see an important role for the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in this listening process, since it represents both the lay and ordained members of our constituent churches, and so is well-placed to engage every part of the body in this conversation. We encourage the ACC to identify the variety of resources needed to accomplish these conversations.

The Lambeth Conference
Invitations to the Lambeth Conference are extended by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Those among us who have received an invitation to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference look forward to that gathering with hope and expectation. Many of us are engaged in mission partnerships with bishops and dioceses around the world and cherish these relationships. Lambeth offers a wonderful opportunity to build on such partnerships.

We are mindful that the Bishop of New Hampshire has not yet received an invitation to the conference. We also note that the Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed a desire to explore a way for him to participate. We share the Archbishop's desire and encourage our Presiding Bishop to offer our assistance as bishops in this endeavor. It is our fervent hope that a way can be found for his full participation.

Justice and Dignity for Gay and Lesbian Persons
It is of fundamental importance that, as we continue to seek consensus in matters of human sexuality, we also be clear and outspoken in our shared commitment to establish and protect the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons, and to name and oppose at every turn any action or policy that does violence to them, encourages violence toward them, or violates their dignity as children of God. We call all our partners in the Anglican Communion to recommit to this effort. As we stated at the conclusion of our meeting in March 2007: "We proclaim the Gospel of what God has done and is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion and peace. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecuted because of their differences, often in the name of God."
------
(1) The Communion Sub-Group noted that "the resolution uses the language of 'restraint', and the group noted that there has been considerable discussion since General Convention about the exact force of that word. By requiring that the restraint must be expressed in a particular way--'by not consenting...', however, the resolution is calling for a precise response, which complies with the force of the recommendation of the Windsor Report." The group also noted "that while the Windsor Report restricted its recommendation to candidates for the episcopate who were living in a same gender union, the resolution at General Convention widened this stricture to apply to a range of lifestyles which present a wider challenge. The group welcomed this widening of the principle, which was also recommended by the Windsor Report, and commend it to the Communion."

House of Bishops: stories and reactions

Updated at 9:15 p.m.
Updated at 12:00 a.m.

The first set of stories and responses are beginning to appear.

Rachel Zoll of AP in the first of several stories she will file writes:

Episcopal leaders, pressured to roll back their support for gays to keep the world Anglican family from crumbling, affirmed Tuesday that they will "exercise restraint" in approving another gay bishop.

The bishops also pledged not to approve an official prayer for blessing same-gender couples and insisted a majority of bishops do not allow priests to bless the couples in their parishes.


It's all here.

Stephen Bates of the Guardian writes:

A slender lifeline was offered to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his attempt to keep the worldwide Anglican communion intact, when Episcopal bishops pledged at a meeting in New Orleans yesterday to maintain a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops and authorising blessings services for gay couples.

While the statement may satisfy parts of the Anglican communion, and just be enough for the archbishop to sell to other church provinces, it was being dismissed last night by conservative evangelicals as inadequate.

Read him here.

AFP, meanwhile, has gotten the story entirely wrong. The Times-Picayune also gets it wrong, I think, although less egregiously so. It's just that Bruce Nolan writes as though he knows the mind of the Primates regarding our response. And I don't think the Primates know it themselves yet.

Reuters has quotes from Bishops Gene Robinson and Bruce MacPherson who are in surprising agreement.

The New York Times is saying Episcopal Bishops Reject Anglican Church's Orders:

Bishops of the Episcopal Church on Tuesday rejected demands by leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion to roll back the church’s liberal stance on homosexuality, increasing the possibility of fracture within the communion and the Episcopal Church itself.

The article relies on Canon Kendall Harmon of South Carolina and Martyn Minns, a bishop in the Nigerian church, for its slant on the news. It does quote Episcopal Cafe's Jim Naughton for a different point of view.


Click "Read more" to see Integrity's statement, which includes:

The bishops were pressured by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other international guests to comply with the primate's demands. The bishops struggled mightily amongst themselves to achieve a clear consensus on how to respond. Integrity is gratified that the final response from the House of Bishop declined to succumb to the pressure to go backwards, but rather took some significant steps forward.

Read more »

New Archbishop of Cape Town Elected

Via email:

26th September 2007
Media Statement by the Dean and Vicar General of the Province
Bishop David Beetge

Election of Bishop Thabo Makgoba

The Right Reverend Thabo Cecil Makgoba (47) presently Bishop of Grahamstown was elected as the next Archbishop of Cape Town at the Elective Assembly of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa held at the Diocesan College (Bishops) on Tuesday 25 September 2007.

Bishop Thabo is the youngest bishop to be elected to the office of Archbishop and Metropolitan in the history of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa.
The Archbishop elect will be collated on 1 January 2008 and enthroned in St. Georges Cathedral Cape Town towards the end of March 2008. He is presently on sabbatical and will be at Harvard University from the end of September 2007.


From the Independent:
Makgoba said the causes that he has a passion for were "theological education, rural development, alleviating unemployment, maternal and infant deaths".

Makgoba is married and has two children. He was ordained in 1990 and has a masters degree in Applied and Educational Psychology from the University of the Witwatersrand.

He is currently completing his doctoral studies at the University of Cape Town.

Joint Standing Committee statement

From Anglican Communion News Service:

The past few days have been a time of enormous learning and growth in mutual understanding. At the same time, the conversation has been honest, direct and even painful at times. The Committee is conscious that some of its members, in reflecting the very real concerns of the wider Communion, have spoken in a way which could be seen as challenging or even offensive to the Bishops of the Episcopal Church. Nevertheless, it has been important that each side has been honest, and free to speak the message which has been laid on their hearts. The words of the members of the Archbishop and of the Joint Standing Committee were met with patience, generosity and an intensity of debate on the Monday and Tuesday which illustrates how seriously the concerns of the wider Communion are taken by the Episcopal House of Bishops.

The Joint Standing Committee is also conscious that the very life of the Communion is standing at a crossroads at present. ...
...
While the Joint Standing Committee met in formal session on the Monday, the House of Bishops began their consideration of the concerns expressed to them by the wider Communion.

Although their response was not available to the Joint Standing Committee as they concluded their meeting on Tuesday evening, they were briefed before departure by the Presiding Bishop. The formal response of the House of Bishops is now available, and it is the intention of the Joint Standing Committee to consult with one another in the preparation of a report to be submitted to the Archbishop of Canterbury by the end of the week offering an early response to the statement that the House of Bishops have developed.


There is no mention in the statement of either foreign incursions or property disputes.

Read it all here.

Archbishop Akinola is not impressed

And we are not surprised. This time, though, he didn't circulate a Word document.

(In other predictable developments, the Archbishop of Kenya isn't happy either.)

Hat tip to Kendall Harmon.

September 26th, 2007

A STATEMENT ON THE RESPONSE OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH TO THE DAR ES SALAAM COMMUNIQUÉ

In accordance with our desire to walk “in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called, … eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians (4:1,2) we have looked forward with hope to the response of The Episcopal Church as requested by the Primates when we met earlier in the year in Dar es Salaam. That request was the culmination of many conversations and years of painful negotiations. It was our expressed desire to provide one final opportunity for an unequivocal assurance from The Episcopal Church of their commitment to the mind and teaching of the Communion. We also made clear that it is a time for clarity and a rejection of what hitherto has been endless series of ambiguous and misleading statements. Sadly it seems that our hopes were not well founded and our pleas have once again been ignored.

While we await a meeting of all the Primates to receive and determine the adequacy of The Episcopal Church’s response it seems clear from first reading that what is offered is not a whole hearted embrace of traditional Christian teaching and in particular the teaching that is expressed in Lambeth Resolution 1.10. The unequivocal assurances that we sought have not been given; what we have is a carefully calculated attempt to win support to ensure attendance at the Lambeth Conference and continued involvement in the life of the Communion.

Instead of the change of heart (repentance) that we sought what we have been offered is merely a temporary adjustment in an unrelenting determination to “bring the rest of the Communion along” as stated by a bishop at one of the press conferences. We also note that while we have repeatedly asked for a moratorium on same-sex blessings –across the Episcopal Church the clergy have continued with these blessings with the full knowledge and support of the Diocesan bishops even if not technically authorized.

This attitude towards the Word of God and the requests of the Communion is at odds with the Spirit of the One we serve. The Unity that Christ commands can only be found in obedience to the Truth revealed in the Holy Scriptures and mutual submission to one another. The Gospel message of freedom, justice and dignity for all persons can only be found in heartfelt repentance and joyful obedience to the Truth.

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:21

THE CHURCH OF NIGERIA (Anglican Communion)

THE MOST REV. PETER J. AKINOLA, D.D, CON
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria.

Sincerely,

The Most Revd. Peter J Akinola, CON, DD


House of Bishops: VOD

For the true Episcopal news junkie, video on demand from the recently completed meeting of the House of Bishops. Watch the final news conference, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's message to the Church and the bishops' day of service.

Tobias Haller, to no one's surprise

Sometimes in trying to figure out what one thinks, one comes across someone who has already thought it.

New Archbishop installed in Hong Kong

There's a fine line between being political and working with government to achieve social aims, but the newly installed archbishop of Hong Kong is determined to not cross it:


Paul Kwong, 56, told parishioners that his church will not get involved in political movements, including the call for universal suffrage, but will continue to work with the government to better the lives of the people.

He said societal atmosphere was much happier now, but many problems such as poverty still needed to be addressed.

Solutions, for which the government and society must join hands, will not come quickly, Kwong said.

This from The Standard (Hong Kong), which notes that several government officials attended the ceremony as well as Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun. The article also contrasts the relationship of Cardinal Zen and the Catholic church to the government with that of the "more moderate" Anglican church. You can read that here.

The Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui elected Kwong in early February, prior to the launch of the Lead. If you missed it, you can read more about him here.

Attempts to expel... will fail

The Episcopal News Service has report of the words of the Archbishop of the Province of Mexico, who is taking part in a meeting at Manchester Cathedral beginning tomorrow. The Archbishop reports in particular of his take on the atmosphere at the most recent Primates meeting earlier this year.

"Archbishop Carlos Touche-Porter of Mexico and Primus Idris Jones of the Scottish Episcopal Church are taking part in a conference, titled 'Celebrating Anglican Diversity,' to uphold the Anglican tradition of open and inclusive theology and consider the future course of the Anglican Communion.

Touche-Porter is a staunch advocate of full inclusion and diversity within the Church, especially in support of gay and lesbian Christians. 'Inclusion is a reality in the Anglican Church, despite reports to the contrary,' he said. 'I am very much looking forward to being in the U.K. as part of our preparations for a positive Lambeth Conference.'

'It was very obvious at the recent meeting of Anglican Primates that the vast majority wish to stay with an Anglican church that is open and welcoming and prepared to live with difference,' said Jones. 'This is Anglican mainstream and we have to make it clear that it represents [the] majority opinion among church leaders. Attempts to try to turn the Communion into something that is controlled from the center, with expulsion the result of disagreement, will fail.'

The conference is sponsored by Inclusive Church, which describes itself as 'an organization of individuals and churches that believe the Church of England should be a broad open church which is inclusive of all, regardless of race, gender or sexuality.'"

Read the rest here.

Common Cause meeting releases statement

The meeting in Pittsburgh of a group of bishops which follows hard on the heels of the House of Bishops' meeting in New Orleans has issued a statement and a report of some of the principles they have adopted. [Addendum: ENS has a thorough overview.]

There are a couple of observations to keep in mind when reading this document. First, note the absence of the Kenyan and Ugandan missionary bishops from the statement. Second that there is some question whether or not the entire body of Network dioceses are in support of this statement, to say nothing at the moment of the Windsor bishops or the Camp Allen bishops (parties along a spectrum on the "conservative" side of the Episcopal Church). Finally there are some groups present here that I'm told have not been traditionally understood as Anglicans.

Via email:

Anglican bishops from ten jurisdictions and organizations pledged to take the first steps toward a "new ecclesiastical structure" in North America. The meeting of the first ever Common Cause Council of Bishops was held in Pittsburgh September 25-28.

The bishops present lead more than 600 Anglican congregations. They formally organized themselves as a college of bishops which will meet every six months. They also laid out a timeline for the path ahead, committed to working together at local and regional levels, agreed to deploy clergy interchangeably and announced their intention to, in consultation "with those Primates and Provinces of the Anglican Communion offering recognition under the timeline adopted," call a "founding constitutional convention for an Anglican union," at the earliest possible date agreeable to all of the partners.

"We met deeply aware that we have arrived at a critical moment in the history of mainstream Anglican witness in North America. God has led us to repentance for past divisions and opened the way for a united path forward. To him be the glory," said Bishop Robert Duncan, convener of the council.

The full text of the bishops' joint statement follows after the jump

Addendum: These documents are now available at the ACN website here.

Read more »

Australian Anglicans approve women bishops

Lest we think that the American branch of the Anglican Church is the only one with significant internal controversy, here's a story about recent news that threatens the internal unity of Anglicanism in Australia:

"The Anglican Church's highest court has cleared the way for women bishops - but the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, will carry on the fight against them.

The Appellate Tribunal, by a 4-3 majority, found there is no constitutional barrier to women becoming bishops in the Australian church. The decision could lead one day to a woman leading the Australian church.

The Church of England, mother church of the world's 77 million Anglicans, voted a year ago to consecrate women bishops.

But the Australian decision to break the stained glass ceiling is likely to exacerbate divisions in church ranks. The national church is considering ways to provide oversight to traditionalists unwilling to accept women bishops.

Dr Jensen, who opposes women exercising headship over men in the church as priests or as bishops, predicted the 'innovation' would 'inevitably create ongoing difficulties around the church for decades to come'.

'Those who are opposed to this development base their objection on conscientious grounds as a matter of biblical principle,' Dr Jensen said.

Australia's primate, the Brisbane Archbishop, Dr Phillip Aspinall, one of four tribunal members to vote in favour of women bishops, said the ruling was a milestone."

Read the rest here.

Primate of Ireland approves

The Most Rev. Alan Harper, Archbishop of Armagh and Church of Ireland Primate, has called the House of Bishops' September 25 statement, following its meeting in New Orleans, "helpful and deserving of a generous response."

"I hope that member churches of the Anglican Communion will now calmly and fairly reflect upon the New Orleans Statement and conclude that [the Episcopal Church's] bishops have gone a considerable way to meeting the reasonable demands of their critics," he said.

Harper commended the bishops' almost-unanimous decision to reiterate B033 that said they would "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." The bishops also pledged not to authorize public rites for same-gender blessings "until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action."

Harper also noted the "generous agreement of Presiding Bishop [Katharine Jefferts Schori] to put in place a plan to appoint Episcopal visitors for dioceses that request alternative oversight."

Read the whole Episcopal News Service story here.

Eames encouraged

The chair of the Lambeth Commission on Communion which authored the Windsor Report, retired Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland, Lord Robin Eames, said that he was very encouraged that what was said in the Windsor Report was taken very seriously by the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops, and believes that the content of their responses to the Primates was also "very encouraging" in terms of the possibility of agreement in the Anglican Communion.

In an interview on the BBC-Northern Ireland/Radio Ulster program "Sunday Sequence", Eames, who was interviewed along with Guardian reporter Stephen Bates, said that while he was taken to task by some Global South bishops for saying this in the past, he still believes that the is issue of authority is central in the debates within Anglicanism. Issues of Biblical interpretation are important but not at the heart of the situation.

Eames explained that Anglicanism has been successful in reaching out to and bringing together people from all over the globe with a wide variety of cultures into one family, but that in doing this there are bound to be tensions. These tensions, Eames asserts, are a sign of Anglicanism's success.

Bates, in an answer to a question about the relative relevance of sexuality questions when there are so many other issues pressing for attention, said that in his view homosexuality is the chosen instrument that is being used to unite certain constituencies around a common cause so that control may be exercised by these groups seeking a kind of realignment in the Communion. He describes the worldwide Anglican Communion as something of a new discovery especially among conservative and evangelical groups.

Reflecting on his experience with the Windsor Report and the earlier Eames Commission, Lord Eames said that acceptance of the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops work will depend on response of the other churches and that a difficulty is that it is hard to get the leaders of the Global South movement to say precisely "what is their bottom line?" Without that kind of clarity, it is hard to know what the threshold for the unity of the communion will actually be.

Listen to the discussion here.

African Anglican hierarchy should repent

The Executive Director of the Kenyan Human Rights Commission thinks the bishops of Africa should repent of their statements on the role of gays and lesbians in the Anglican Communion. L. Muthoni Wanyeki writes:

My personal opinion, for what it is worth, is that the African Anglican hierarchy itself has something to repent. It has proceeded as though African gay men and lesbians do not exist, even though some are also members of its flock. It has endorsed the prejudice and stereotypes about African gay men and lesbians - namely that they are both "unAfrican" and "unholy."

The outcomes?

At the worst end of the scale, consider this. On July 7 this year, two black South African lesbians were executed in Soweto. It is believed that they were followed home after a party. They were removed from their car, taken to a field and gang-raped before being executed.

Their deaths were not isolated. Another woman, also known to be a lesbian, was killed in Cape Town around the same time. And, in line with the ignorant idea that lesbians can be "fixed," over 10 women known to be lesbians were raped. An atmosphere of fear has been created.

She concludes:

LET US BE CLEAR ABOUT THIS. WE all reacted with horror to the kind of human-rights violations seen during the genocide in Rwanda. We all asked ourselves: How could family, friends, neighbours turn on each other in such a devastatingly vicious manner. What we all should remember is that all it takes is sanction from authorities of any kind - the state, religious organisations and so on. We are all capable of being genocidal. We just need to believe that we are "right" in being so.

What the African Anglican bishops have essentially said is that African citizens are "right" in their prejudices and stereotypes about African gay communities. It is thus the African Anglican hierarchy that should "repent." If we do not stop and check ourselves, we can rest assured that the damage ultimately caused will not just be to the Anglican family worldwide. The damage will be to our own.

Read it all here

More on the author here

Joint Standing Committee report on House of Bishops

The Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion has submitted its Report on The Episcopal Church House of Bishops of Meeting in New Orleans. The Archbishop of Canterbury has sent the Report to all the Primates and to all members of the Anglican Consultative Council and asked them to consult in their Provinces on the Report, and respond to him by the end of October. The Report follows (a printer friendly pdf. is here):

The Report of the Joint Standing Committee to the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Response of The Episcopal Church to the Questions of the Primates articulated at their meeting in Dar es Salaam and related Pastoral Concerns

Introduction

The Joint Standing Committee met in formal session on Monday 24 September in order to reflect on the conversation in which we had participated with Your Grace at the meeting of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, held in New Orleans between Wednesday 19 September and Tuesday 25 September. We are grateful to the House of Bishops for their consideration in ensuring that their schedule was changed to seek to create as much space as possible to consider their response on the Monday, although sadly the House of Bishops were not able to complete the process of developing their response before our meeting concluded.

The Joint Standing Committee were however briefed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and other bishops on the Monday evening, and had the opportunity to agree together the main outlines of how they might wish to respond in the light of the various options facing the House of Bishops. All members of the Joint Standing Committee present in New Orleans 1/ have been consulted electronically in the preparation of this report once the actual text of the statement of the House of Bishops was available.

It has to be acknowledged that the House has laboured long and strenuously to come to a conclusion, and to offer its response to the requests of the Windsor Report, as reiterated in the Communiqué of the Primates meeting in Dar es Salaam in February of this year. This reflects the fact that the House of Bishops were themselves of differing perspectives on the questions before them; it also reflects their readiness to respond to the concerns raised by the Communion by coming to conclusions which command a wide consensus across the members of the House. The effort expended in reaching these conclusions should be acknowledged.

In addition to addressing the specific questions of the Windsor Report, the Episcopal House of Bishops also addressed other matters of related concern raised in the Communiqué of the Primates from their meeting at Dar es Salaam which will be addressed separately.

In preparing this report, we have been careful to distinguish between the response to the two questions concerning the Windsor Report which the Primates addressed to the Episcopal Church and on which they requested an answer by 30th September 2007, and other urgent but distinct matters raised in that Communiqué, for the resolution of which no specific date was set.

Although the tensions within the Anglican Communion will not be resolved until all these matters are addressed, the wider questions, which concern the polity of The Episcopal Church and the provision of pastoral care for those who are alienated by certain recent developments in its life, do not form part of the issues which were requested to be addressed by the date set in the schedule of the Primates’ Communiqué for specific answers on the questions set out below. Those wider matters of pastoral concern remain urgent, and are addressed in the second part of our report.


Part One
The Response of The Episcopal Church to the Windsor Report

The Lambeth Commission on Communion was commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury in October 2003 at the request of the Primates:

1. To examine and report to him by 30th September 2004, in preparation for the ensuing meetings of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, on the legal and theological implications flowing from the decisions of the Episcopal Church (USA) to appoint a priest in a committed same sex relationship as one of its bishops, … and the ways in which provinces of the Anglican Communion may relate to one another in situations where the ecclesiastical authorities of one province feel unable to maintain the fullness of communion with another part of the Anglican Communion .

The Windsor Report was published in October 2004, and contained specific questions addressed to The Episcopal Church in respect of the matter of the election of bishops and the authorisation of Rites of Blessing for same-sex unions. These requests are set out in the relevant sections below.

At their meeting in Dromantine in February 2005, the Primates asked:

“During [the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference] we request that [the Episcopal Church] respond through [its] relevant constitutional bodies to the questions specifically addressed to them in the Windsor Report as they consider their place within the Anglican Communion.”

These questions were addressed by The Episcopal Church at the 75th General Convention held in June 2006. The responses given there were assessed in detail in the Report of a Sub-Group established by the Joint Standing Committee and presented to the Primates at their meeting in Dar es Salaam in February 2007. On reviewing that report, the primates concluded:

On Clarifying the Response to Windsor

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

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

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

At their meeting in New Orleans, the bishops of The Episcopal Church have had the opportunity to reflect on these two questions, and to offer their response.

On public Rites of Blessing for same-sex unions

In May 2003, the Primates had expressed their own understanding of the position in the Communion with regard to the authorisation of public Rites of Blessing for same-sex unions:

“The question of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions is still a cause of potentially divisive controversy. The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke for us all when he said that it is through liturgy that we express what we believe, and that there is no theological consensus about same sex unions. Therefore, we as a body cannot support the authorisation of such rites.
This is distinct from the duty of pastoral care that is laid upon all Christians to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations. As recognised in the booklet “True Union”, it is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care.”

The Windsor Report concluded that:

“… at present it would be true to say that very many people within the Communion fail to see how the authorisation of such a rite is compatible with the teaching of scripture, tradition and reason. In such circumstances, it should not be surprising that such developments are seen by some as surrendering to the spirit of the age rather than an authentic development of the gospel.

We believe that to proceed unilaterally with the authorisation of public Rites of Blessing for same sex unions at this time goes against the formally expressed opinions of the Instruments of Unity and therefore constitutes action in breach of the legitimate application of the Christian faith as the churches of the Anglican Communion have received it, and of bonds of affection in the life of the Communion, especially the principle of interdependence. For the sake of our common life, we call upon all bishops of the Anglican Communion to honour the Primates’ Pastoral Letter of May 2003, by not proceeding to authorise public Rites of Blessing for same sex unions.

… we call for a moratorium on all such public Rites.”

The Communion Sub-Group of the Joint Standing Committee, in their Report, noted that a wide variety of practice currently appertained across the Episcopal Church , and concluded that:

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

At their meeting in Dar es Salaam, the Primates, quoting the statement in the Primates’ Pastoral Letter of May 2003, said,

“we believe that there remains a lack of clarity about the stance of The Episcopal Church, especially its position on the authorisation of Rites of Blessing for persons living in same-sex unions. There appears to us to be an inconsistency between the position of General Convention and local pastoral provision. We recognise that the General Convention made no explicit resolution about such Rites and in fact declined to pursue resolutions which, if passed, could have led to the development and authorisation of them. However, we understand that local pastoral provision is made in some places for such blessings. It is the ambiguous stance of The Episcopal Church which causes concern among us.

The standard of teaching stated in Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998 asserted that the Conference “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions” . (Dar es Salaam Communiqué, §21,22)

and made this further request for the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church to:

“make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention” (Schedule to the Dar es Salaam Communiqué, February 2007)

The House of Bishops has now said that they “pledge as a body not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions” . In their discussion of that pledge:

Blessing of Same-Sex Unions

We, the members of the House of Bishops, pledge not to authorize for use in our dioceses any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. In the near future we hope to be able to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide listening process. In the meantime, it is important to note that no rite of blessing for persons living in same-sex unions has been adopted or approved by our General Convention. In addition to not having authorized liturgies the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions. We do note that in May 2003 the Primates said we have a pastoral duty "to respond with love and understanding to people of all sexual orientations." They further stated, "...[I]t is necessary to maintain a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care."

These statements (Summary and Discussion), taken together, address the request of the Primates at Dar es Salaam. The bishops have pledged themselves not to authorise public rites in their dioceses. In giving this commitment with the proviso “or until General Convention takes further action”, the House of Bishops is acknowledging that it does not have the power to bind future actions of General Convention, in the same way that most of the general synods of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion cannot be bound by any part or section of their polity.

It is to be noted that the House of Bishops states that “the majority of bishops do not make allowance for the blessing of same-sex unions” and quote the words of the primates in 2003 concerning “a breadth of private response to situations of individual pastoral care.” The principle which has historically been applied by Anglicans to common prayer is “Lex orandi, lex credendi”, that is, that our liturgy expresses what we believe. Given that there is no agreed theological framework on ministry to homosexual persons entering into committed relationships, it is currently widely understood that it would be inappropriate to develop liturgical expressions of blessing for such relationships . Indeed, the teaching most widely upheld across the Communion was embodied in Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, which “rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture” , concluded that the Conference “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions.”

The Episcopal Church has acknowledged in the past, however, that “local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions” . In answer to the way in which this resolution was understood in the Windsor Report , it has been said that this statement was to be understood descriptively of a reality current in 2003 and not as permissive, and the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion prior to the 75th General Convention (2006) specifically denied that it was intended to authorise such rites .

It needs to be made clear however that we believe that the celebration of a public liturgy which includes a blessing on a same-sex union is not within the breadth of private pastoral response envisaged by the Primates in their Pastoral Letter of 2003, and that the undertaking made by the bishops in New Orleans is understood to mean that the use of any such rites or liturgies will not in future have the bishop’s authority “until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action ”, a qualification which is in line with the limits that the Constitution of The Episcopal Church places upon the bishops.

On this basis, we understand the statement of the House of Bishops in New Orleans to have met the request of the Windsor Report in that the Bishops have declared “a moratorium on all such public Rites” , and the request of the Primates at Dar es Salaam that the bishops should “make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses” since we have their pledge explicitly in those terms.

On elections to the episcopate

At the epicentre of tensions in the Communion over the last five years has been the fact that the Episcopal Church elected and consecrated as a Bishop a person publicly acknowledged to be living in a committed same-sex relationship. In October 2003, the Primates stated that:

“In most of our provinces the election of Canon Gene Robinson would not have been possible since his chosen lifestyle would give rise to a canonical impediment to his consecration as a bishop. If his consecration proceeds, we recognise that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy. In this case, the ministry of this one bishop will not be recognised by most of the Anglican world, and many provinces are likely to consider themselves to be out of Communion with the Episcopal Church (USA). This will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level, …”

and requested the formation of the Lambeth Commission which produced the Windsor Report in October 2004. The Windsor Report stated:

“In our view, all those involved in the processes of episcopal appointment, at whichever level, should in future in the light of all that has happened pay proper regard to the acceptability of the candidate to other provinces in our Communion; the issue should be addressed by those locally concerned at the earliest stages, by those provincially involved in the confirmation of any election, and not least by those who, acting on those decisions, consecrate the individual into the order of bishop.” (The Windsor Report, §131)

and requested that:

“the Episcopal Church (USA) be invited to effect a moratorium on the election and consent to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate who is living in a same gender union until some new consensus in the Anglican Communion emerges.” (The Windsor Report, §134)

At General Convention in June 2006, General Convention passed Resolution B033, which stated:

“Resolved, That the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report’s invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation; and be it further
Resolved, That this Convention therefore call 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.”

The Communion Sub-Group established by the Joint Standing Committee concluded:

8. The group noted that, in this resolution, the language of moratorium from the Windsor Report had not been used. It understood that legal counsel to the Convention advised that the language of a moratorium was difficult to embody in legislation under the provisions of the Episcopal Church’s constitution.

9. Instead the resolution uses the language of “restraint”, and the group noted that there has been considerable discussion since General Convention about the exact force of that word. By requiring that the restraint must be expressed in a particular way - “by not consenting …”, however, the resolution is calling for a precise response, which complies with the force of the recommendation of the Windsor Report. The resolution, which was passed by large majorities in both houses, therefore calls upon those charged with the giving of consent to the result of any election to the episcopate to refuse consent to candidates whose “manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion”.

10. In voting for this resolution, the majority of bishops with jurisdiction have indicated that they will refuse consent in future to the consecration of a bishop whose manner of life challenges the wider church and leads to further strains on Communion. This represents a significant shift from the position which applied in 2003. It was noted that a small number of bishops indicated that they would not abide by the resolution of General Convention, but in supporting the resolution the majority of bishops have committed themselves to the recommendations of the Windsor Report.

11. The group noted that while the Windsor Report restricted its recommendation to candidates for the episcopate who were living in a same gender union, the resolution at General Convention widened this stricture to apply to a range of lifestyles which present a wider challenge. The group welcomed this widening of the principle, which was also recommended by the Windsor Report , and commend it to the Communion.

12. The group believes therefore that General Convention has complied in this resolution with the request of the Primates.

At their meeting in Dar es Salaam in February 2007, however, not all of the primates were fully convinced of this interpretation,

“… some of us believe that Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention does not in fact give the assurances requested in the Windsor Report.”

and in their Communiqué the Primates therefore asked the Episcopal House of Bishops to:

“… confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent … unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion.”

We now have the following response of the House of Bishops:

Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention

The House of Bishops concurs with Resolution EC011 of the Executive Council. This Resolution commends the Report of the Communion Sub-Group of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion as an accurate evaluation of Resolution B033 of the 2006 General Convention, calling upon bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees "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." The House acknowledges that non-celibate gay and lesbian persons are included among those to whom B033 pertains.

By confirming the interpretation of the Communion Sub-Group and quoting it explicitly, as well as making the explicit acknowledgement in the last sentence of their text that Resolution B033 does refer to “non-celibate gay and lesbian persons”, the Episcopal House of Bishops is answering the question of the Primates positively. They confirm the understanding of the sub-group that restraint is exercised in a precise way “by not consenting”, and that this specifically includes “non-celibate gay and lesbian persons”. They have therefore clearly affirmed that the Communion Sub-Group were correct in interpreting Resolution B033 as meeting the request of the Windsor Report.

Conclusion

By their answers to these two questions, we believe that the Episcopal Church has clarified all outstanding questions relating to their response to the questions directed explicitly to them in the Windsor Report, and on which clarifications were sought by 30th September 2007, and given the necessary assurances sought of them.


Part Two
Pastoral Issues

On care of dissenting groups

Since the theological and ecclesiological tensions have developed over the election of a bishop living in a same-sex relationship and the authorisation in parts of the Communion of a public Rite of Blessing of same-sex unions, enormous strains have also arisen in the Communion regarding the pastoral care of those parishes and dioceses within the Episcopal Church that have been alienated from the life and structures of the Episcopal Church because of those developments. This was recognised by the Primates in their meeting in October 2003, called after consent had been given to the candidate elected to the See of New Hampshire but before his consecration. The Primates wrote then:

“We have a particular concern for those who in all conscience feel bound to dissent from the teaching and practice of their province in such matters. Whilst we reaffirm the teaching of successive Lambeth Conferences that bishops must respect the autonomy and territorial integrity of dioceses and provinces other than their own, we call on the provinces concerned to make adequate provision for episcopal oversight of dissenting