Bishop Wolf weds

A good news story, the wedding of The Right Rev. Geralyn Wolf, Bishop of the Diocese of Rhode Island:

In a festive ceremony yesterday that started with her walking down the aisle hand in hand with her cousin’s 5-year-old son, with five young girls close behind, Episcopal Bishop Geralyn Wolf married Thomas Charles Bair Jr. before a crowd of nearly 400 at her diocese’s Cathedral of St. John.

“I think it was the most spirited wedding I ever attended,” said former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, a long-time friend who had baptized Wolf on her conversion from Judaism to Christianity 36 years ago and preached at her ordinations to deacon, priest and bishop.

Read it all here.

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.

Bishop Robinson to register civil-union

New Hampshire just passed legislation allowing same-gender unions legal status within the state. Bishop Robinson has said that he and his partner Mark Andrew will register:

"Shortly after a civil unions bill cleared its last hurdle Thursday, the state's best-known gay resident said he will use it.

'Absolutely. My partner and I look forward to taking full advantage of the new law,' Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson told The Associated Press. The Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Union of which it is part are still dealing with repercussions from Robinson's 2003 consecration as bishop of New Hampshire."


Read the full story here

Bishop Robert Wolterstorff has died

San Jose Mercury News - Former Episcopal bishop Wolterstorff dies at 92

SAN DIEGO- The Right Rev. Robert M. Wolterstorff, who became the first bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego when it was carved out of the sprawling Los Angeles diocese in 1974, has died. He was 92.

Wolterstorff died peacefully in his sleep Tuesday, 10 days after suffering a heart attack, diocese spokesman Howard Smith said.

May he rest in peace, and rise in glory.

New Bishop for Southern Ohio

Thomas E. Breidenthal became the ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio on April 28 at the Ohio State University campus.

Read more »

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.”

Seattle Diocese seeks new Bishop

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

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

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

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

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

Duncan loses in court

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

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

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

See the document HERE in pdf.

Other court documents can be found HERE.

-------------------
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Bishop Henderson on Dar es Salaam

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

Some extracts:

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

A new generation

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

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

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

New Dio. of Va. bishop faces challenges

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

...

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Clone Me a Bishop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+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.

Remembering Bishop Jim Kelsey

Updated continuously

News of a tragic accident and a great loss to the Episcopal Church and for the Diocese of Northern Michigan:

"Bishop James Kelsey of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan was killed in a road accident at around 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 3, while returning to Marquette from a parish visitation, Jane Cisluycis, diocesan operations coordinator confirmed.

...'The Episcopal Church has today lost one of its bright lights,' Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said. 'We will be less without the easy grace of Bishop James Kelsey -- Jim to most of us -- and we shall miss his humor, insight, and passion for the ministry of all. He gave us much. We pray for the repose of his soul, and for his family. We pray also for the Diocese of Northern Michigan. All of us have lost a friend. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.'"

Read the rest here: Episcopal Life Online - NEWS

Coverage from The Mining Journal on Michigan's Upper Peninsula is here.

The bishop's daughter Lydia was to have been married this Saturday.

All of us here at Episcopal Cafe join others around the Church giving thanks for +Jim's life and praying for God' loving presence right now for the family he leaves behind.

EpiScope provides this biography courtesy of Nancy Davidge at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts:

James Arthur Kelsey
Biographical Information

JAKelsey.jpg Jim Kelsey was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1952 and attended schools in New York City and Burlington, Vermont. He graduated from Ithaca College in New York in 1974 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy. In 1977, he graduated from General Theological Seminary and was called to be Deanery Curate for four congregations in southwestern Vermont. Following his ordination to the priesthood in 1978, he was called to be the rector of Holy Trinity Church in Swanton and priest-in-charge of three missions which gradually evolved into an eight-point cluster over the next seven years. During his year at Holy Trinity his interest in collaborative ministry deepened. A non-hierarchical form of leadership emerged there which included a locally ordained priest and a team of persons who shared ministry support responsibilities. Holy Trinity was recognized by the national church as one of ten effective congregations highlighted in the publication Against All Odds, prepared for the 1982 General Convention.

In 1985 he was called by the Diocese of Oklahoma to help establish a diocesan-wide strategy for cluster ministries. His work there was focused especially with eight congregations in a six-county area in east-central Oklahoma. He began an extensive consulting role on collaborative ministry throughout the U.S. and Canada.

He was called to be the Ministry Development Coordinator in the Diocese of Northern Michigan in 1989, a position he held until his election as Bishop in 1999. Since coming to the diocese, over half of the diocese’s 27 congregations have embraced Mutual Ministry, as collaborative ministry is known in Northern Michigan. It is characterized by the commissioning of local Ministry Support Teams supported by seminary-trained regional missioners.

Interest in Mutual Ministry by other diocese in the U.S. and abroad led Northern Michigan in 1994 to begin offering Spring and Fall Visitors Weekends for a first-hand look at this model for ministry.

His consulting work during these years expanded overseas to include New Zealand and the United Kingdom and has touched over thirty-five diocese in the United States. He participated in a number of national and international networks and training programs including the Leadership Academy in New Directions (LAND), Sindicators, Synagogy, Coalition 14, Living Stones and an International Symposium on Local Collaborative Ministry.

Jim and Mary Kelsey were married in 1976 and have three adult children, Nathan, Lydia and Amos and a new puppy Juniper.

If you weren't familiar with Bishop Jim, his 2006 address to his diocesan convention provides a sense of the man and his ministry. So, too, does the citation read when he received an honorary degree last month from Episcopal Divinity School. Tributes to Bishop Jim have already begun appearing on the Web. Jared Cramer's is among the most eloquent. Brother Christopher, who knew the bishop through Kelsey's involvement with the Third Order of the Society of St. Francis writes:
He cherished a radical notion of common ministry and refused the adulation bishops tend to attract. This meant that when he did speak with authority, people listened with unusual attention and respect.
Brother Jacob, S.S.F offers a remembrance and some fine pictures of Jim.

Ann Fontaine, one of the contributors here at Episcopal Cafe has her own tribute posted on her blog.

"Jim was someone who radiated the love of God to all around him. He was quick to laugh at nonsense (of which there is a lot in the Episcopal Church) and to mourn the waste of time and talent when we get so involved in our own importance over others. Although a bishop - he only saw that as a role to support others, it was never his intrinsic identity. His baptism was the most important rite for him."

If you'd like to share a story about Bishop Jim, leave it as a comment, or send it to feedback@episcopalcafe.com

From the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan:

Friends- We will gather to celebrate the life of Jim Kelsey this Friday, June 8, in Marquette. Visitation will be at 9am to 1pm at St. Paul's Church, 201 East Ridge St. Memorial Eucharist will be at 4pm at St. Michael Roman Catholic Church, on the corner of College St. and Presque Isle Ave. Reception to follow at the church. Please help us share hospitality with one another by bringing a finger-food type dish to the reception. The family has requested that memorials be given to Page Center All media inquiries are being referred to the Episcopal News Service
Gloria Price, Office Administrator gloria (at) upepiscopal.org Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan 131 E Ridge Street Marquette MI 49855
More details on the Celebration of the Life of Jim Kelsey and other reports are at Episcopal Life OnLine And a new blog dedicated to his memory is now online.

Earth Bishop mourned: A video tribute to Jim Kelsey Here

Bishops Steve Jecko and Frederick Putnam have died

Bishop Stephen Jecko, the retired Bishop of Florida has died overnight. Canon Kendall Harmon's site has the news:

"His cancer apparently progressed rapidly, and the Lord took him home peacefully. More details will be forthcoming later from appropriate sources. Funeral arrangements are pending."

Episcopal Life Online has the additional news about Bishop Putnam's passing.

The details of their funerals and more biographical information can be found in the Episcopal Life article linked just above.

May your servants Stephen and Frederick rest in peace and rise in glory and may their families know the loving presence of Jesus among them in this hour.

Six hundred gather for Kelsey funeral

Ecclesiastical orders melted at the church door in Marquette, Michigan, on Friday, June 8, as 600 people touched by the life and stunned by the death of Jim Kelsey, an Episcopalian in the Diocese of Northern Michigan, gathered for his funeral. Concurrent services were celebrated at his former parish of Holy Trinity in Swanton, Vermont, and at the cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand. Herb Gunn has the story.

He'll be the youngest bishop, by far

Home towns have gotten some bad press over the years when it comes their reputation for appreciating their own. Hometown newspapers often to a great job of profiling their own. A case in point is The Derrick's coverage of Bishop-elect Sean Rowe (Northwestern Pennsylvania):

Recently elected the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, Rowe, at 32, will be the youngest Episcopal bishop in the world following his Sept. 8 consecration at Grove City College’s Harbison Chapel by the presiding bishop of the church, the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori.

He will likewise be the youngest member of the church’s House of Bishops – by about 13 years.

Rowe’s rocketing to positions of prominence leads one to wonder if he has always been on the fast track — or if he is an old soul in a young man’s body.

A look at his journey to the threshold of the House of Bishops would seem to indicate that both explanations apply.

Read about his childhood and his calling here.

A prophet is his own home diocese? Check this out:

"Homosexuality is a theological issue. But fear cannot drive our discernment about it. We have to put people first. We are not simply talking about a theological idea but about real people and real lives. We must take care,” he said.

“We are commanded to love God and love our neighbor. That is first and beyond all else,” he said.

When the debate turns to “rightness and wrongness” we are at risk of forgetting “we are talking about people,” he said.

“Jesus Christ stood with people. You can tell a lot about a person by the people they have their next meal with. Jesus was not always with his disciples but with the tax collectors and prostitutes and other people thought impure. And then he opened the doors to everyone. The church has to do that, has to be radically hospitable. That does not mean that everything goes, but that everyone is welcome.”

“We should not be the gatekeepers but should be trying to get people to come in,” he said.

South Carolina tries again

The Diocese of South Carolina, which elected Mark Lawrence to be there next bishop, but failed to receive the needed number of consents to that election is planning to a new election with Mark as the only candidate as of now.

They are creating a process for additional nominees to be named by petition.

From the Diocesan website:

"At its meeting, the [Standing] Committee unanimously agreed:

1. To call for a Special Convention to elect a Bishop. The Convention is to be held at ten o’clock a.m. on Saturday, August 4, 2007 at St. James’ Church, James Island, South Carolina.

2. The Standing Committee unanimously nominated The Very Reverend Mark J. Lawrence to be the next Bishop of South Carolina.

3. Because of the necessity for background checks, no nominations from the floor will be allowed at the Convention. In lieu thereof, the Committee has established a petition process..."

Read the rest here.

Mary Gray-Reeves elected third bishop of El Camino Real

Mary Gray-Reeves elected third bishop of El Camino Real on the second ballot. She was one of three women in a slate of five. Should she receive consent she would be the fifteenth woman in the elected bishop in the church and one of the five youngest members of the current House of Bishops.

Election results here. The bishop-elect's profile is here and her acceptance statement is here.

Episcopal News Service coverage is here. Here's the ENS description of the diocese:

The diocese was formed in 1980 out of the Diocese of California. It extends along the Pacific coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles from Palo Alto to San Luis Obispo, encompassing the counties of Santa Clara, San Benito, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Luis Obispo. Trinity Cathedral in San Jose serves as the diocesan see while the diocesan offices are located in Seaside on the Monterey Peninsula. Farming, technology, vineyards and resort areas are found in the diocese. Congregations worship in English, Spanish, Tagalog, Laotian, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Sudanese dialects and Lakota. About 14,330 Episcopalians worship in the diocese's 50 congregations.

House of Bishops to work in Louisiana and Mississippi

The Living Church reports on the shape of the House of Bishops' September meeting.

“A group from the planning committee will work with Archbishop Williams and me to determine the format of the time we will have together,” Bishop Jefferts Schori wrote. She said that the formal part of the meeting will begin with the Holy Eucharist on the morning of Sept. 20. Archbishop Williams will depart the afternoon of Sept. 21.

Bishop Jefferts Schori said she has invited the primates’ Standing Committee and the Executive Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) to join the meeting. “They will be with us during our time with the Archbishop of Canterbury,” she wrote, as well as for “work and missionary days” in the dioceses of Louisiana and Mississippi scheduled for Sept. 22-23. “These groups will have their own (private) meeting on Monday.”

Read it all 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.

Bishop Persell: reaching across the divide

The Chicago Tribune website (free subscription required) has a long article reporting on the work and ministry of Bishop William Persell, the Episcopal Bishop of Chicago:

"'Communion is about relationships,' Persell said in a recent interview. 'Building meaningful relationships is more important than other things happening in the [Anglican] Communion. If we have a relationship, we don't have to agree.'

Since becoming Chicago's bishop, Persell, 64, has encouraged his 44,000 parishioners from Chicago to Galena to maintain a healthy lifestyle while his own health has been in decline. But he has also tried to maintain his reputation as a champion of social justice and civil rights while trying to keep the church together despite tumult.

Last year, Persell announced to this flock that he would step down as their bishop in February 2008, when a new bishop is installed. An aortic aneurysm and deteriorating vision made the demands of the job difficult. This week, he underwent surgery for prostate cancer. He reiterated the importance of a healthy ministry when he announced his resignation.

'While my mind and heart are very much committed to helping advance the church's mission here, my stamina is not what it was when you welcomed me into your life,' he wrote."

The article talks about Bishop Persell's commitment to trying to find a middle ground that will the Church to comprehend different understandings of how to be Christian in the world:

In 2003, [Persell] called a similar meeting among clergy in his own diocese to study the issues that were dividing the Episcopal Church. For as long as he could, he put off deposing conservative clergy supporting breakaway parishes. But Rev. Martin Johnson, who leads a breakaway parish in Wheaton, said Persell finally had no choice. Johnson expects to be the second priest in the diocese to have his ordination rites revoked by the end of the year.

But that doesn't alter his tremendous respect for Persell.

"To some of us it's a therapeutic issue and the possibility of healing," Johnson said. "For him it's a matter of simply affirming how people are created in God's sight."

He knows that he and Persell share a deep love for the church.

They also share a love of opera. Sitting next to each other at the Lyric Opera one night during a five-hour production of Wagner, Persell asked Johnson during intermission if he planned to stay for the final acts. They exchanged knowing looks and agreed to go the distance. Persell wasn't just talking about the opera, Johnson said. He was talking about the church.

Read the rest here.

Bishop Barbara Harris honored

A stained glass window honoring The Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris was dedicated on Sunday, June 24. The first woman to be consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion, the Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris, was present at the Church of St. Alban the Martyr, Queens, NY, to bless two window panels. The other one depicts Absalom Jones, the first African American ordained priest in The Episcopal Church.

Bishop Harris is depicted wearing her consecration vestments designed and made by Challwood Studios. According to partner Paul Challenor, "I worked with the stained glass maker in selecting from consecration photos and in capturing the effect of the woman's weave Kente cloth on her vestments."

Read more here

And here with photo of Bishop Harris and the window

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.

God did it, but, honest, he didn't mean it.

The Telegraph reports that some Bishops in the Church of England have suggested that the floods that devastating parts of England are God's judgment. One bishop, the Rt Rev Graham Dow, Bishop of Carlisle, has said that the floods are the result of our lack of respect for the planet, and also are a judgment on society's moral decadence.

The Telegraph reported that Bishop Dow said "This is a strong and definite judgment because the world has been arrogant in going its own way."

"We are reaping the consequences of our moral degradation, as well as the environmental damage that we have caused, " Dow says.

The bishop, who is a leading evangelical, said that people should heed the stories of the Bible, which described the downfall of the Roman empire as a result of its immorality.

"We are in serious moral trouble because every type of lifestyle is now regarded as legitimate," he said.

"In the Bible, institutional power is referred to as 'the beast', which sets itself up to control people and their morals. Our government has been playing the role of God in saying that people are free to act as they want," he said, adding that the introduction of recent pro-gay laws highlighted its determination to undermine marriage.

"The sexual orientation regulations [which give greater rights to gays] are part of a general scene of permissiveness. We are in a situation where we are liable for God's judgment, which is intended to call us to repentance."

He expressed his sympathy for those who have been hit by the weather, but said that the problem with "environmental judgment is that it is indiscriminate".

The West is also being punished for the way that it has exploited poorer nations in its pursuit of economic gain. "It has set up dominant economic structures that are built on greed and that keep other nations in a situation of dependence. The principle of God's judgment on nations that have exploited other nations is all there in the Bible," he said.

He urged people to respond to the latest floods by turning away from a lifestyle of greed to instead live thinking of the consequences of their actions.

Other Bishops laid the blame less on God's judgment and more on humanity's strewardship of the environment.

Global warming has been caused by people's lack of care for the planet and recent environmental catastrophes are a warning over how we behave, according to the Bishop of Liverpool.

"People no longer see natural disasters as an act of God," said the Rt Rev James Jones.

"However, we are now reaping what we have sown. If we live in a profligate way then there are going to be consequences," said the bishop...

"We have a responsibility in this and God is exposing us to the truth of what we have done."

Bishop Dow's assertion that natural disaster is in fact the judgment of God on a sinful culture is an old-fashioned theological back-flip—blame God for the disaster, but absolve God of responsibility by saying God's hand was forced by humanity's bad behavior. So God did it...but it wasn't really God's fault. It is hard to imagine that kind of theology will change anyone's behavior, except that it might help some of the righteous feel better about themselves. Perhaps the most scandalous part of this kind of “teaching” is that people farthest away from the sin being condemned are the ones who are facing the alleged divine wrath. Of course, this approach does nothing to help the actual flood victims come to terms with their own trauma. But hey, in this view of God's economy, someone's got to pay.

Read the rest.

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

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.”

Memories of Bishop Pike

Dr. Louie Crew has gathered memories of Bishop James Pike at his Do Justice website. Twenty writers remember their experiences of the inspirational and controversial bishop.

The Revd Robert Brueckner, a Lutheran says, "I met Bishop James Pike on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1960, at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City. I heard his outstanding sermon delivered with deep faith and conviction. His words reverberated so that they constantly come to mind even today: “I can’t explain to you the mystery of the Holy Trinity. But, I believe it. I can’t explain to you the mystery of the virgin birth – how the Holy Spirit hovered over the Virgin Mary, and ‘she gave birth to her first born Son.’ But I believe it.”

The Revd Dr Kenneth R. Clark of Albuquerque, NM remembers,
"In the late 60's Bishop Pike was keynote speaker at the Disciples annual state conference in Wichita Falls, Texas. I was in Vernon, Texas, at the time and the Episcopal clergy in Wichita Falls invited me to a meeting they had arranged with the bishop the afternoon of the speech. I could bring one layman so I invited Bill M. We met in a motel and the bishop chained smoked as he outlined what he thought were the major issues of the day. When he ran out of cigarettes he turned to Bill and asked him for some smokes, which he provided. The bishop told us about involvement in the civil rights movement and how he and others had confronted Bull Conner and his police dogs. He made great sport of the police chief (recall that Conner had attacked the marchers in Birmingham). When he paused to light another cigarette, Bill asked, “ Bishop, did you or any of those other clergy who were with you give any attention to Bull Conner’s immortal soul?” The bishop said, “ What is your name boy!” “ Bill, sir.” “Stand up Bill and let me shake your hand. You are the only one who has ever noticed that we were totally oblivious to Bull Conner’s needs.”

Others remember his personality, his deep convictions, his passion for social justice, and his ability to remember people as well some more difficult times. I remember when he preached at our public high school baccalaureate in 1959. I was drifting away from the church in my late teens but his sermon was so memorable it carried me through my "prodigal" years and back into the church. It was about how we may not be able to see the big picture but we had a place in it and were meant to be here in this time and place to make the picture complete.

Read it all here

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 .)

Bishop Victoria Matthews will resign

Bishop Victoria Matthews, one of the leading Anglican Church of Canada bishops, has announced that she intends to resign from her position as Bishop of Edmonton this coming November.

She says of her plans:

Just as the Holy Spirit called me to Edmonton in 1997, so I believe God is now calling me in a different direction.  For over two years this has been present in my prayers and the time has come to say 'yes' to the prompting of the Spirit.  Most recently I have become convinced that I am meant to resign as your Bishop before knowing what comes next.  While this is a bit disconcerting, I am proceeding in obedience to what I believe is God's will.

Some will wonder if I have new health concerns, and others will ask if I am angry at the Anglican Church.  The answer to both questions is no.  I am well and I love our Church.  I am an Anglican and hope to always minister in accordance with the grace and mercy of Christ our Saviour.

Bishop Matthews was the runner-up in the recent election for the next Primate of Canada and was deeply involved in the committee that issued a report prior to the most recent national meeting of that Church which asked the Canadian Church to wait before moving forward on officially sanctioning same-sex blessing liturgies.

Read the rest here.

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.

Pope returns to Rome - again

Today Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth, sent this notice out to the clergy of the Diocese of Fort Worth:

BISHOP CLARENCE POPE telephoned me this morning to let me know that Martha and he have returned to membership in the Roman Catholic Church, in full communion with the See of Peter. We certainly wish them well and want to uphold them with our love and prayers at this important time in their pilgrimage. They both gave ten years of faithful service and witness here in the Diocese of Fort Worth, and we give thanks to God for their continuing friendship and ministry. Bishop Pope wanted to assure me that he remains very attached to us and that his affection for the people of this diocese remains unchanged. Do join me in thanking God for both of these faithful Christians and praying His continued blessing upon them in the years ahead.

Thanks to Katie Sherrod. Read all about the history of Clarence Pope and the Roman Catholic Church on her blog. One bit:

[In 1994] Pope was [first] received into the Roman church at St. Mary the Virgin Catholic Church, a parish whose priest and congregation had been part of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth until 1991, when they all became Catholics and their priest was re-ordained as a Roman priest. Pope –that is Bishop Pope -- allowed them to keep the church buildings.

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.

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"

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.

Outside group trying to influence Chicago election

Ever been concerned about the influence of big-bucks donors from outside your area in the election of your political representatives? Consider the situation faced by Episcopalians, who have big-bucks donors from outside their church meddling in the election of their bishops.

The Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD), a conservative lobbying group funded primarily by non-Episcopalians has inserted itself into the Episcopal election in the Diocese of Chicago. Ralph Webb, Director of Anglican Action at IRD, writes in his blog about the Very Rev. Tracey Lind, an openly gay woman who is one of five priests nominated to succeed Bishop William Persell.

Read his post here.

The IRD says it aims to “restructure” the governance of mainline Protestant churches who do not espouse its conservative political agenda. Webb and several other members of its relatively small staff are members of Archbishop Peter Akinola’s Church of Nigeria. Learn more about the IRD and its financial supporters here.

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 »

Another Gay bishop

The Anglican Journal (published in Canada) is re-running an article from 2003 this month. It's written by Terry Brown, the bishop of Malaita in the Church of the Anglican Province of Melanesia. Bishop Brown attended the Lambeth Conference of 1998 as an "out" gay man serving as a bishop. This article is his reflections and objections to the resolutions passed at that Conference.

"What do I do (what do you do?) when I realize (when you realize) that a relationship, a touching, an intimacy - which is experienced by me (or you) as grace-giving and filled with love - is for another Christian, equally devout, an act of great sin and offence? Such is the experience of many gay and lesbian Christians. Even if the friendship is rooted and grounded in mutual respect, in faithfulness, in prayer, in worship, in trust, indeed, experienced as 'in Christ,' still the judgment of the other Christian is the same: it is sin.

But then there are other Christians who, though they have not experienced the grace of my exact experience, can place themselves enough in it from their own experience, say, of Christian marriage, to offer support and encouragement. But they too are condemned for such a leap of empathy and charity. The Christian who condemns me (and them), I finally decide, is not working under Christian grace, charity and freedom but rather under some sort of 'Christian law.' Or they have totally universalized their personal experience and are now prepared to impose it on all humanity. It feels like there is a great gap between us. Indeed, there is.

I am not prepared to renounce a friendship that is experienced as fundamentally grace-filled and loving. But I do not want to offend the conscience of another. And so I stay silent. But that is not so satisfactory. The other still tries to make me feel guilty and my freedom is assaulted. Yet if I respond with truth, the other is not interested in listening but only in condemning."

Read the rest here.

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.

Standing room only

It was standing room only for the students of Trinity Prepartory School of Winter Park, Florida, who put on their production of La Cage aux Folles at the Universal Orlando Theater. Adam Hetrik of Playbill News wrote:

La Cage aux Folles, which was not a part of Trinity Preparatory school's regular theatre schedule, was offered as a summer intensive open to all local high school students, not only those enrolled at Trinity Preparatory School. The program was designed to provide students with a credit for a fine arts requirement by bringing in local theatre professionals in order to allow students the experience of a professional rehearsal and production process.

When the show was publicized at the start of the school year, controversy erupted.

(The) parents and students were aware of the musical's content. Having previously produced A Chorus Line at Trinity Prep, a musical with many progressive central themes, (Department head Janine) Papin hoped audiences and the school were willing to go on the latest journey with her.

However, when Bishop John Howe, head of the Diocese of Central Florida, read of Trinity Preparatory's intended presentation of La Cage aux Folles in a local paper, a letter was sent "officially requesting" the school's headmaster to cancel the production.

The cancellation might have been the end, but news of the move brought forward both a flood of protest and offers from area theater companies and arts groups to put on the show. Playbill reported that the students received at least 15 offers to stage the production. After negotiations it was decided to hold the production at Universal Orlando, but without the official sponsorship of Trinity Prep. Read more here.

Tanya Caldwell of the Orlando Sentinel reported that over 300 people attended the performance on opening night.

The students took the show to Orlando Repertory Theatre after a week of debate about whether the bishop overstepped his bounds or held his moral ground. At least three other theaters also opened their doors to the group.

At least 300 parents, peers and neighbors arrived for the opening night, laughing at the jokes, smiling during the solos and whistling as grinning drag queens danced across the stage.

The Broadway musical has won several awards and was later tuned into an American movie called The Birdcage, which starred Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. La Cage features a gay couple in which one partner runs a French nightclub and the other performs there as a drag queen. The couple has been together for 20 years but make changes when their son bring home his fiancee and her conservative parents.

According to Playbill, Bishop Howe issued the following statement:

"We regret that the scheduling of this performance has been interpreted as a departure from our 40-year history as an Episcopal school. The students who worked hard to prepare for this play had neither a political nor social agenda."

Papin, who is unable to comment publicly on the production due to school administration restrictions, issued the following statement in an official Trinity Prep press release:

"I am quite proud of the students' tenacity and determination through this very difficult process. And I am thrilled that the students will get to perform the show on which they have worked so very hard. I am so grateful to all who supported our students' work."

Bishop Jenkins prays for mercy

Bishop Jenkins of Louisiana writes to the members of the Diocese about the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury and House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in Church Work, the official journal of the Diocese of Louisiana.

...The Bishops of the Episcopal Church will be meeting at the Hotel Intercontinental from Sept. 18-25. I ask you to join me in praying for Divine Grace that we may be faithful to Jesus, who, in His High Priestly prayer, asked the Father (that)"we may be one as He and the Father are one."

I need not state anew my traditional and unchanged thoughts on the questions before us. However, I do wish to share several observations, which have expanded my thinking a bit. As our Lord taught in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, it was the Samaritan who proved the good neighbor because it was this racial and religious outcast who demonstrated the quality of mercy. Our Lord's command around mercy was simple, "Go and do likewise." We in Louisiana have seen and experienced mercy from the hands of many for the past two years. People from radically differing perspectives around sexuality have come together in a mission of mercy, and have found their lives changed and the seeming hot button issues put in the proper perspective. Why can we as Anglicans not demonstrate the same mercy toward one another?

A failure to find a way forward together shall not simply hurt each and every one of us, but as sin is always communal in its effects, our failures will hurt the poor and needy whom we serve and to whom mercy is a symbol of hope. The Anglican Communion is engaged in a huge ministry of justice, mercy, and compassion around the world. If we give in to the sin of self-absorption, our souls shall surely be hardened but it is the poor who will suffer most. No matter which side of the issue of human sexuality you believe to be of God, I suggest that if you really want to break the heart of God, you should work to make the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as absorbed with itself and her disagreements as is possible.

The time and the place of the Archbishop's visit is significant. I think we in Louisiana and Mississippi have demonstrated the truth of mission to the Communion. The Morial Convention Center was the place of such suffering and death. Just several weeks after the second anniversary of our being brought so low, we come together to thank God and the church throughout the world for the mercy and support which has enabled us to begin our recovery.

The bishops and their spouses will take off Saturday and Sunday to do work in Louisiana and Mississippi.I need your prayers as I try to get a building for All Souls in the Lower Ninth. The Bishops are bringing offerings to pay for this new Church and I hope they will be able to finish it come September. You will likely have a guest Bishop in your parish Church on the Sunday of the New Orleans meeting. If you want to hear the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, plan to come to Christ Church Cathedral on that Sunday morning at the 10:00 a.m service....

Thanks to Grandmere Mimi at Wounded Bird.

The PB on the HoB Meeting

Episcopal Life Online is carrying a video by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church providing some background and her reflections on the coming House of Bishop's meeting next week in New Orleans.

In the video she talks about the invitation the HoB has made to the Archbishop of Canterbury, why the invitation was made and what sorts of outcomes might and might not be expected.

Watch it here: Episcopal Life Online - VIDEO

(Note from your "editor of the day": As I watched it I was struck by the way she pointed out that this visit and conversation with the Archbishop is part of the developmental process as the relationships between the provinces of the Anglican Communion evolve into something deeper. The idea that our relationships need time to develop is well taken.)

Gen-X bishop ordained in Seattle area

It is likely to be a grand show.

More than 2,000 people, including a procession of 200 local clergy, are expected at Meydenbauer Center to attend the ordination and consecration of the Rev. Gregory Rickel as the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia.

Rickel, 44, who was most recently rector of a church in Austin, Texas, succeeds Bishop Vincent Warner, who is retiring after 18 years as head of the Episcopal Church in Western Washington.

"This whole thing is nothing you train for or plan for — you can't," Rickel said in an interview earlier this month. "This mantle — it's daunting."

Indeed, beyond the grandeur of the ordination ceremony, there are big challenges ahead for Rickel.

Janet I Tu of the Seattle Times has the whole story.

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.

No line in the sand in New Orleans

Bishop Duncan Gray of Mississippi has written to the Diocese of Mississippi in advance of the House of Bishops meeting being held later this week in New Orleans. He outlines what he expects will happen at the meeting and how he intends to continue his ministry in the Episcopal Church.

You can expect me to renew my commitment to the requests of the Windsor Report. That should come as no surprise to anyone. I believe there is a place in the Episcopal Church for those like me who hold a more traditional theological position on the current litmus test issues.

You can expect me to continue to work to provide safe places for those who share such convictions within the Episcopal Church.

You can expect me to continue to be guided by the spiritual counsel of our Archbishop of Canterbury. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot be an Anglican without being an Episcopalian, nor can I be an Episcopalian without being an Anglican. To ask me to separate the two would be akin to asking me to separate my maleness from my southern Caucasian heritage. Both have shaped me dramatically, for better or worse, and a separation of the two is fundamentally impossible. You can expect me to share something of this with the Archbishop.

Thus, I trust that in these brief comments you will understand that I have no desire to expend energy in creating a new church. I believe that the Episcopal Church will remain a part of the Anglican Communion through its relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Other parts of the communion may choose to sever its relationship with Canterbury. That is their choice. I have chosen otherwise.

You can expect me to push this church to make real its commitment to diversity. That would mean that we shall be a church of invitation and open to all people. It will also mean that this church must give dignity and safety to those who, through reason of conscience and conviction, cannot accept certain theological and ethical presuppositions of the majority of the church. I believe that is what I am called to do in faithfulness to my vows as your bishop.

Read it all here

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.

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.

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

Preludium reads the tea leaves

Mark Harris writes on his blog Preludium about the news that emerged from the House of Bishop's meeting yesterday. He focuses particularly on the plan that the Presiding Bishop has proposed for a team of episcopal visitors and the particular make-up of the group. He sees some interesting implications about what might be happening internally in the Anglican Communion Network headed by Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh:

"For some time there have been questions about the level of support by other Network bishops for the most recent positions taken by the Moderator. While both Bishops Stanton and Howe were at the Network annual meeting and both have long records of faithful engagement in Network actions, Bishop Stanton has been remarkably silent in the past year and Bishop Howe has taken his place in the governance of The Episcopal Church and has made his considerable influence felt. Bishop Howe was put forward the resolution that got the Archbishop of Canterbury to this House of Bishops meeting. In accepting the role of 'episcopal visitor' they are making a commitment to life together in The Episcopal Church at precisely the time when the Network leadership is contending that further relation to The Episcopal Church is a waste, since TEC is broken beyond repair.

I have good reason to believe that these two are not alone and that other Network bishops have been committed to working 'from the inside' for change, and continue to work for such change, but are not ready to end their relationship with TEC. Indeed there is a growing sense that as the leadership in ACN grows more distant from TEC, some of the Network bishops are increasingly unhappy. My sense (which will in one way or another be proven out) is that of the ten diocesan bishops in the ACN, only five are willing to step out with the Moderator and take part in the ordination of invader bishops and commit themselves to a pre-Provincial council of bishops which recognizes these invader bishops and bishops from the Anglican Province of America and the Reformed Episcopal Church as part of a new emerging province."

Read the rest.

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.


Notes from the Archbishop's press conference

Listening online to the bishop's press conference this afternoon, I heard Archbishop Williams say of the Dar Es Salaam Communique:

My paraphrase of some of his statements:

The Communique from Dar Es Salaam was not meant by as an ultimatum, it was a request for clarification on certain points. The deadline had to do more with the already scheduled meeting of the House of Bishops

It's intrinsically a compromise statement that was issued. Some of the bishops present might understand it in a more robust way, others in a more open way... It was not meant to meant to be demand more of a request for clarification

Whatever language comes out of this moment in the Communion's history, it must allow room for people to maneuver.

The interventions into the life of the Episcopal Church by other parts of the Communion are troubling. These interventions make it increasingly more difficult to find local solutions the controversies within the Episcopal Church at present.

UPDATE: Integrity USA's report on the press conference is here.

UPDATE: the full text of the Archbishop's opening remarks can be found after the jump.

Read more »

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.”

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.

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.

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 »

Bringing the message home

Bishop Chris Epting sums it up quite nicely, here:

It’s a good thing we can take a deep breath and let other prayerful and thoughtful people in our Communion consider what we have done. For those who will do their theology by press release (rather than by prayerful thought) this will be a confusing exercise.

That goes beyond anything within our church, and in this era of Communications 2.0 (I know, that's jargony), misinformation becomes a virus. For instance, take a look at this message being circulated after the poster read a completely erroneous story (since corrected) at the BBC website. It's safe to say that we've had our hands full, as have other episcobloggers from both sides of the aisle, with our own clarifications, when we've had them, and with our frantic attempts to find them when we haven't.

Meanwhile, we've been poking around at diocesan websites looking for letters from individual bishops. Many of them are underlining their contributions of time and resources to the dioceses of Louisiana and Mississippi, which has sadly seen very little air time in the mainstream press. Others are reaching out to help people understand the significance of the compromise, which winds up playing out in the media as we caved to the bullies to some and fell short of primatial demands to others. In the Diocese of Virginia, Bishop Peter James Lee, Bishop Coadjutor Shannon Sherwood Johnston and Bishop Suffragan David Colin Jones sent a response that included the following:

The formal response to the Primates' Communiqué was adopted late Tuesday by the House of Bishops by a virtually unanimous vote. It reflected our very deep appreciation of the Anglican Communion and our strong desire to maintain and nurture our role within it, while asserting our determined commitment to include gay and lesbian persons in our common life.

...This reconfirmation constitutes our continuing agreement with that resolution and acknowledges that such language pertains specifically to non-celibate gay and lesbian persons. We also repeated our pledge not to authorize public rites for the blessing of same sex unions until a broader consensus emerges in the Communion, or until General Convention takes further action. We noted that we hope to draw upon the benefits of the Communion-wide process of listening to the experiences of gay and lesbian persons.

We commended our Presiding Bishop for her plans to provide episcopal visitors for dioceses at irreconcilable odds with her own ministry as Primate and we support her commitment to consult with the wider communion in pastoral matters, seeking creative solutions that are in accord with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. We supported the Archbishop of Canterbury in his desire to include the bishop of New Hampshire at next year's Lambeth Conference. We called for commitment to the civil rights, safety and dignity of gay and lesbian persons. We deplored the incursion of uninvited bishops into our dioceses.

No one achieved everything he or she wanted in our statement.

The whole thing is here.

Bishop Kirk Smith of the Diocese of Arizona spells it out thus, as posted on Nick Knisely's Entangled States and practically a continuation of above:

What we did this week is a compromise, and like all compromises runs the risk of pleasing no one. Each side had to give up something in getting to this point. But there is some good news in this. I feel that we are in a much better position to move ahead, both in our own American Church and with the larger Communion. There was a greater spirit of cooperation and consensus among liberal and conservative bishops in the House than I have ever seen. We have also strengthened the bonds of common mission between ourselves and most (not all) of our brothers and sisters in Africa. The clearer language about same gender blessings allows me to revisit this topic, which I plan to do with the clergy at our annual retreat in January.

To those for whom this has opened old wounds, I again counsel patience, even though I understand that might ring hollow. I do believe we are moving in the right direction, even though slower than many would like. Still, the goal of full inclusion is closer than it was before and we now have a better chance of being one people united in Christ when we get there.

His whole letter is here (Thanks, Nick+). His entire letter really gets to the heart of why this is difficult for everyone but still, to him at least, is progress.

More as we find them.


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.

Bringing the message home, part 2

Most recent update: 2:10 p. m.

The mixed messages continue. Jim Naughton writes that "A colleague in another diocese who subscribes to a press clippings service said he received 20 stories today. Five said we defied the Communion, five said we turned our back on gays and lesbians and 10 said we compromised positively." It's small wonder that some laity have expressed bewilderment.

And bishops continue to respond to the distortion, which is occurring on both sides. (See last night's post for some left-leaning responses; these are more conservative.) Bp. Edward Salmon of South Carolina writes:

In the interest of clarity, I would like to report to the clergy and people of the Diocese of South Carolina on the meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans. I am particularly concerned that you hear directly from me as the distortion in the media and on blogs is profound.

From my perspective this was probably the best meeting I have attended and at the same time the most painful.

He continues with a description of the tension and some particularly painful points for him. But most notably, he stresses that he did not support the HoB response document and gives the following reasons:

1. It did not respond as requested to the three points raised by the Anglican Primates in Dar es Salaam. 2. It did not provide alternative oversight that met the needs of those who asked for it. 3. It placed the condition that our responses must be in keeping with our Constitution and Canons. The chaos we are in requires tremendous grace, not law. 4. There is oppression of those not in agreement, often unaware to those responsible. 5. Statements by our leadership saying that 95% of the Church was doing well or that only a small percentage were affected makes discussion impossible. The Episcopal Church Foundation says we are in a systemic decline which is significant.

The entire letter is the main article on the diocesan home page. You may have to flip through the site archives to find it if you are reading this post at a future date.

Bishop James Stanton of Dallas agrees that the meeting was a success but that the document itself is, to him, disappointing.

From my perspective, the HOB meeting was extraordianry in the way in which it carried out its deliberations. It was frank, open, serious and cooperative. I found the deliberations around the "response" surprising and at times even encouraging. The response itself, however, is another matter.

His entire letter, which addresses his concerns about the response, is here (link goes directly to PDF), available also from the diocesan home page.

Other developments in the press, meanwhile:
"Both sides unhappy," says ABC News in this story from its international newsdesk, and quoting sources from England and Africa. "Supporters of gay clergy accused American Episcopal bishops of caving in to pressure from conservatives, while traditionalists criticized what they said was a cleverly worded declaration of defiance."

The Wall Street Journal positions two letters to the editor as point/counterpoint here. These were occasioned by an earlier article on Episcopal congregations seeking to ally themselves with African provinces.

The BBC's piece features a visit to St. Thomas's, Dupont Circle, an inclusive parish in Washington, D. C., and closes with a threat from the Rev. John Guernsey, who vastly overestimates his importance.

The Christian Science Monitor remains one of the most objective news sources out there. Their write-up is here.

Meanwhile, Father Jake is noting the previously unarticulated standard by which the House of Bishops' response is being judged in parts of the Communion.

Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina has responded: "This is a significant accomplishment, a positive step, and a hopeful sign."

And the Anglican Scotist argues that much of the response to the statement has been sophomoric and self-indulgent:

Why can't compromise and discernment be messy? Why can't an honest compromise leave everyone disappointed? Maybe this is what a virtuous church looks like when its members are in passionate discord and sedition is in the air. The presumption that the Church should have repented, as if a Church even can do such a thing except in an unhelpfully hazy, metaphorical sense--and the presumption that the Church should have gone further than GC2006 and GC2003 or else betray its fidelity to God seem to misread what might well be going on in the HoB and AC. Moderates are genuinely trying to discern without railroading those who wish to remain at the table. There's nothing unfaithful in the sacrifices that come with the process fo compromise.

Still more stuff in this grab bag: the Bishop of Alabama and the Canon to the Ordinary (non-Episcopalians should call their local diocese to have this title explained as life is too short to do it here) of Louisiana, via fatherjones.com

The Rev. Barry Signorelli delivers this spirited rant. (His word, not ours.):

Okay, yes, I know that the HoB's statement is not as bad as it might have been, that it simply maintains the status quo and doesn't "go back" -- but what it doesn't "go back to" is the aftermath of GC2003 and the shame of B-033. What the bishops have produced will please no one, will prevent no break-up, keeps GLBT Episcopalians in the back of the bus, and stifles any voice of prophecy or movement of the Spirit. "The lukewarm I will spit from my mouth."

More reactions from the House of Bishops meeting

Updated 6:30 a.m.
Updated again at 8:39 a.m. to include Archbishop Aspinall

As the bishops are returning to their dioceses after meeting in New Orleans, many of them are writing letters about what transpired during the meeting and what the next steps might be.

Let's begin with Archbishop Aspinall of the Province of Australia who is on the Joint Standing Committee. In addition he was media briefer and a key player at Dar Es Salaam. A press release issued from the province media office is positive:

"I believe that the House of Bishops has responded positively to all the requests put to them by the Primates in our Dar es Salaam communique. Certainly they have responded to the substance of those requests.

“I would now like the time to undertake careful analysis of the House of Bishops response but my initial reaction based both on my preliminary reading of the document itself and on my first hand conversations with many of the Bishops involved is that the House has responded positively to the substance of all the requests made by the Primates,” said Dr Aspinall.

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has in turn called on the rest of the communion to acknowledge the requests made of it in Lambeth 1.10 and the Windsor report.

The Primate of Australia said these are issues that are important and need to be taken up.
These include issues of listening to gay people in the life of the church and stopping outside intervention in the United States.

Bishop Breidenthal (Southern Ohio), one of the eight bishops who wrote the statement, believes the meeting and the Response were shaped by the conversations of the bishops with their Anglican Communion guests. He concludes,

What our guests were asking of us was clarity about two things: (1) the bishops’ interpretation of B033, the 2006 General Convention resolution regarding the election of partnered gay bishops, and (2) the bishops’ current approach to the blessing of same-sex unions. The statement that we produced is our attempt to answer those two questions succinctly and transparently. We have said nothing new. Those who were dissatisfied with B033 for going too far or not going far enough will be equally dissatisfied with the present statement.

Bishops Lillibridge and Reed of the Diocese of West Texas, considered "Windsor Bishops" explain in their letter why a "minority report" is not expected from this meeting:

"[S]ome have asked why the Windsor Bishops have not issued a ‘minority report.’ After various conversations, we decided to wait for the response to this statement from those who asked the questions. Over the past several years, the Windsor group has met numerous times. We have issued signed statements, minority reports, principles, etc… and the prevailing view is simply to hear the response to our response. Another minority report isn’t going to have much effect at this point. If the House’s response is deemed inadequate, there will be an effort to gather a significant number of bishops to discuss the next steps. This gathering would likely be larger than previous Windsor gatherings."

From here (Hat tip to Covenant-Communion)

Bishop Jelinek of the Diocese of Minnesota writes in part of his concerns about how the statement will be received:

Will there be reactivity to this Response? Is the sun likely to rise again tomorrow? Watch and listen, but first of all measure your own reactions and re-read those passages or phrases to which you most strongly react. Upon second or third reading, do you hear them the same way? If so, that is worth pursuing in conversation in your congregation or with your clergy group. If not, it is worth reflecting on what this touched (or even triggered) in you. We need to be aware that in times of tension like this, our fears and anxieties are likely to be near the surface, more easily unsettled.

The big picture is that we are considering matters that are not about winning or losing, but of discernment and meaning and within relationships. Where is the Holy Spirit leading the Christian Church and leading humanity? How do we identify the marks of the Holy Spirit in what feels like a progression, in comparison with the spirit of the age we live in? Most especially, how do we do this within timewhen we do not yet have the luxury of looking back at the past where we sometimes have more clarity? Some argue that this is precisely why we must go very slowly, yet that seems more than unjust when people are suffering. So, The Episcopal Church is moving forward while trying not to inflict more pain or to provoke more controversy.

At times like this I am most concerned about reaction without reflection, for in haste our reactions are usually determined by fear, particularly one of the following: the fear of losing or failing or losing out or losing one's touchstones and one's bearings. It seems to me that when we struggle with our inclusion we are most afraid of losing out, of not counting. And when something new comes along that seems so unusual, so different from the ways we have always seen the world and how we understand God's creativity, it seems that our experience is one of disorientation, the fear of losing our bearings. That seems to describe the church we live in today. No wonder there are tensions.


(via email)

Bishop Wimberly of the Diocese of Texas talks about the next steps toward the end of his letter:

There is much still to do as we work together, and in communion, to repair the brokenness we experience today. I know that many people think we are going to reach a point when “we will all have to make a decision. ” I don’t see that point now or in the near future. I intend to continue to lead as I have lead. We are going to remain in the Episcopal Church, and we are going to remain in the Anglican Communion as a diocese. I don’t see any reason for this to be impossible.

Further, I refuse to see things in a manner that is either/or. I believe our strength and our unity are in our acceptance of a life lived with the both/and. We are both Episcopalians and Anglicans. We as Episcopalians both need our brothers and sisters across the Anglican Communion; and the Anglican Communion needs the Episcopal Church.

Bishop Gray of Mississippi writes of his sense of a new way of working together that began to emerge in this meeting:

What I saw beginning to emerge for the first time was a vision of how we might be a church, as Bishop Charles Jenkins described, of one heart and two minds. We have much, much work to do to make that a reality, but in New Orleans I caught a glimpse of how it might work.


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.

Monks of Burma

Updating our story on the protests by the Buddhist monks in Burma (also known as Myanmar). Several Anglican commentators have contrasted the bold Buddhist monks protesting the repressive regime in their country with the self congratulatory statements of unity in concession to anti-gay forces of the world wide Anglican Communion by the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church (TEC).

Mad Priest, blogging at Of Course I Could Be Wrong, salutes a letter in The Guardian (UK):

As an ordained Anglican, I am appalled that while Buddhist monks are taken from their beds, beaten and imprisoned for peacefully protesting in the name of democracy, Anglican bishops can only concern themselves with the obsession of denying gay and lesbian Christians an opportunity to share their spiritual gifts and experience through ordained ministry. For me it is clear in which of these two groups spiritual authenticity resides. I offer my heartfelt prayers on behalf of the monks of Burma.
Rev Mike Catling
Alnwick, Northumberland

Lane Denson, who publishes The Covenant Journal, writes in his Out of Nowhere essay:

I wondered when I read about the monks, What makes a bishop mad? From reflecting on their meeting in New Orleans, I couldn’t tell, if anything. So far as I know, they kept their shoes on. They didn’t march. They never mentioned the government so far as I know, let alone its reckless and immoral lack of stewardship and its false promises about Katrina and New Orleans. They fussed a bit about turf, theirs. Statistics reveal that eleven percent of our nation’s population is gay and lesbian. The PB said the House stood at the foot of the cross on the subject of what to do about that population in the church. She just left the question hanging.

Ekklesia notes:
Pope Benedict XVI added his voice yesterday to calls for Burma's military leaders to peacefully end their crackdown on protesters demanding democracy, as demonstrators took to the streets of several capital cities across the globe to show solidarity.

The Joint Standing Committee Report: some flashpoints

Our nominations for the passages of The Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion Report on The Episcopal Church House of Bishops of Meeting in New Orleans include:

On same-sex blessings
(page 6 of the pdf):

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”19, 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.

The interpretation of the phrase: "the use of any such rites or liturgies will not in future have the bishop’s authority" will be hotly disputed. Does that constitute a prohibition? Is it opaque on purpose? Note also the phrase "On this basis" at the beginning of the last paragraph in the quotation.

Conclusion to Part One
(page 9)

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.

Obviously the breakaway right and the Primates aligned with Akinola will dispute this. Will others join them?

Regarding incursions by Primates of other provinces
(Page 11--the second sentence):

At Dar es Salaam, the primates sought to address these matters by proposing that The Episcopal Church turn to a particular group of bishops living and ministering within its life, who had publicly declared that they accepted both the standard of teaching expressed in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 and were unreservedly committed to the recommendations of the Windsor Report. In other words, the primates were indicating to those who felt alienated from the leadership of The Episcopal Church that there were identifiable bishops within The Episcopal Church able to meet the needs identified by the groups seeking alternative pastoral provision without the need for “foreign intervention”.

A pretty straightforward repudiation of the Peter Akinola/Henry Orombi/Benjamin Nzimbi/Emmanuel Kolini incursions that won't sit well on the separatist right.

Support for Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori's "episcopal visitors"
(Pages 11 and 12)

In her opening remarks to the House of Bishops, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori indicated to the assembled bishops that she had appointed eight Episcopal Visitors. ... We believe that these initiatives offer a viable basis on which to proceed. Bishop Jefferts Schori indicated that she deliberately left open and flexible the operation of the ministry of the Episcopal Visitors, believing that it was best for the visitor and the diocesan bishop concerned to work out an acceptable scheme. The Presiding Bishop laid down only two conditions: first, that such Episcopal visitors did not encourage dioceses or parishes to leave the Episcopal Church, and second, that the Episcopal Visitors would report occasionally to the Presiding Bishop. By leaving this ministry flexible for negotiation and development, we believe that the Presiding Bishop has opened a way forward. There is within this proposal the potential for the development of a scheme which, with good will on the part of all parties, could meet their needs.

Another blow to separatists.

Law suits
(page 12):

We are dismayed as a Joint Standing Committee by the continuing use of the law courts in this situation, and request that the Archbishop of Canterbury use his influence to persuade parties to discontinue actions in law on the basis set out in the primates’ Communiqué.

A plea unlikely to be heard by either side, except when there is a tactical advantage in appearing to be the more peaceable party.

The Pastoral Council Scheme from Dar es Salaam is dead, but the Panel of Reference may be resurrected.
(page 13):

We believe that the House of Bishops is correct in identifying that the co-operation and participation of the wider Communion, in a way which respects the integrity of the American Province, is an important element in addressing questions of pastoral oversight for those seeking alternative provision. We also believe that a body which could facilitate such consultation and partnership would meet the intent of the Pastoral Council envisaged by the Primates in their Communiqué. We encourage all the Instruments of Communion to participate in a discussion with the Presiding Bishop and the leadership of The Episcopal Church to discern a way in which to meet both the intentions behind the proposals in the Dar es Salaam Communiqué and this statement by the House of Bishops. The Archbishop of Canterbury may wish to revisit the work and mandate of “The Panel of Reference” and to explore whether this body, or a reconstituted version of it, may have a part to play in this respect.

It is difficult to believe that the Committee sees potential in the PofR, which is disliked and mistrusted by left and right. The acknowledgment that the Pastoral Council Scheme, foisted on the world by the Anglican Communion Institute violated the integrity of a member province of the Communion is most welcome, however.

The flashpoint among flashpoints as far as the separatists are concerned
Page 14

As a Joint Standing Committee, we do not see how certain primates can in good conscience call upon The Episcopal Church to meet the recommendations of the Windsor Report while they find reasons to exempt themselves from paying regard to them.

"In good conscience" is very, very strong language. And not to put too fine a point on it, on Page 15, the Committee quotes the previous Archbishop of Canterbury George's Carey who wrote that the bishops consecrated for the Anglican Mission in America during his tenure were no bishops of the Anglican Communion, and in the following paragraph adds:

The current instances of consecrations which have been taking place in African Provinces with respect to “missionary initiatives” in North America would seem to fall into the same category. We understand that, in addition to contravening the authorities quoted above, the consecrations took place either without consultation with or even against the counsel of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

That's enough for now. There is ample language in this document to trouble proponents of the full inclusion of all of the baptized in the sacramental life of the Church as well. More on that tomorrow.

Update: one member of the Joint Standing Committee who disagrees with this report has made his voice heard. Is it maybe just a little curious that Bishop Mouneer Anis could not get his comments to the writers of the Standing Committee report in time for inclusion, but was able to get them into the hands of the Times of London two hours after the report was published?

Jonathan Petre forsees an almighty pile-up looming

Jonathan Petre writes of his predictions about what the Anglican Communion might be facing in the next couple of years. He is hearing of plans next month to adopt dissident groups of American Episcopalians into other Provinces and structures of the Anglican Communion than the American one. Petre speculates on the repercussions such an action would have for the rest of the Communion:

"Sometime in November, a conservative archbishop is planning to announce radical plans to adopt a breakaway group of conservative American dioceses,and the resulting collision could prove very messy indeed. Under the plans, between three and five dioceses will - over a period of time - opt out of The Episcopal Church and affiliate with the conservative province thousands of miles away. The proposals, which I have seen, have been drawn up over a number of months and follow extensive consultations between the bishops of the American dioceses and their counterparts in the province concerned. Lawyers have advised the American dioceses that they should enjoy greater protection than parishes when it comes to the inevitable tug-of-war with the litigious leadership of the Episcopal Church over property because they are deemed to be legal entities in their own right. The dioceses will, however, have to respect all the legal niceties before opting out - most have to confirm fundamental constitutional changes at two subsequent meetings of their diocesan synods - so the realignment is expected to be staggered."

He continues in a later paragraph:

While Dr Williams was in New Orleans, he gave every indication that he was prepared to do almost anything to keep the Americans within the fold as long as they produced a “defensible” compromise. But whether he can plausibly defend the statement produced by the Americans remains to be seen, and much will now depend on the reaction of moderate conservatives such as the Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez. In a newspaper interview a year ago, he revealed that he had a “nightmare” that the Communion would disintegrate into warring factions, bankrupting themselves in protracted legal battles over property. He painted a bleak picture of rival Anglican churches competing with each other on the same street. His nightmare is fast becoming reality.

Read the rest of Petre's article

Mark Harris has posted his analysis of the situation, and shares his thoughts about who the "conservative primate" mentioned in the piece above might be:

On the assumption that Mr. Petrie has the goods, I think Stephen Bates may be right about the who. The Province of the Southern Cone (PSC) has already done this in taking in the deposed bishop of Recife. I have heard of the "extensive conversations" going on in Argentina regarding these matters but cannot verify them by a second reference. I believe they have indeed gone on and unless wiser heads prevail I suspect Bates was right in naming the PSC. Mr. Petrie is holding matters close to his chest. Why? If he is at all an independent reporter he ought to let the cat out of the bag. Just who is the "conservative Primate" in question?

The rest of Harris' analysis is here.

Open letter to the LGBT Community from Bishop Gene Robinson

Bishop Gene Robinson has written to gays and lesbians about the recent House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. He gives his sense of the meeting and why he voted for the statement issued by the bishops.


October 9, 2007

Now that the Church has had some time to absorb and consider the recent meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans and its response to the Anglican Communion, I’d like to share with you what I experienced at the recent House of Bishops meeting, and where I think we are as a result.

There is NO “mind of the House” nor a “mind of the Episcopal Church.” In fact, we are a House and a Church of many different minds. We are in transition from the Church we have been called to be in the past, to the Church we are called to be now and in the future. We are not there yet.

I value highly the thoughts and needs of my brother and sister conservative bishops, who have no intention of leading their flocks out of the Episcopal Church, but come out of dioceses which, for the most part, find the Episcopal Church’s actions of the last four years troublesome and alarming. I listened to them when they voiced the fears of their people that changing our views on homosexuality is a precursor to moving on to denying important tenets of our orthodox faith, from the Trinity to the Resurrection. We worked for a statement which would reflect the diversity we recognize and value as a strength of our Episcopal communion. It was our goal to describe the Church as it currently is: NOT of one mind, but struggling to be of one heart.

My own goal – and that of many bishops – was to do NOTHING at this meeting. That is, our goal, in response to the Primates, was simply to state where we are as an Episcopal Church, not to move us forward or backward. Sometimes, “progress” is to be found in holding the ground we’ve already achieved, when “moving forward” is either untimely or not politically possible. And, doing nothing substantive respects the rightful reminder to us from many in the Senior House that the House of Bishops cannot speak for the whole Church, but rather must wait until all orders of ministry are gathered for its joint deliberations at General Convention.

While many of us worked hard to block B033 and voted against it at General Convention, it IS the most recent declaration of all orders of ministry gathered as a Church. The Bishops merely restated what is, as of the last General Convention.

Yes, we did identify gay and lesbian people as among the group included in those who ‘present a challenge” to the Communion. That comes as a surprise to no one. It is a statement of who we are at the moment. Sad, but true.

Many bishops spoke on behalf of their lgbt members and worked hard to prevent our movement backwards. We fought hard over certain words, certain language. We sidelined some things that truly would have represented a movement backwards.

I want to tell you what I said to the Archbishop of Canterbury. In the course of his comments, it seemed to me that the Archbishop was drawing a line between fidelity to our gay and lesbian members, and fidelity to the “process of common discernment,” which he had offered as a prime function of a bishop. I heard him saying that gay and lesbian members of our Church would simply have to wait until there was a consensus in the Communion. When we were invited to respond, I said something like, “Your Grace, I have always respected you as a person and your office, and I always will. But I want you to know and hear, that to me, a gay man and faithful member of this Church, this is one of the most dehumanizing things I’ve heard in a long time, and I will not be party to it. It reminds me of Jesus question ‘Is the Sabbath made for man, or man for the Sabbath?’ Choosing a process over the lives of human beings and faithful members of this Church is simply unacceptable and unscriptural.” The next morning, the Archbishop tried to assure us that he meant both/and rather than either/or. I tried to speak my truth to him.

On the issue of same sex unions, I argued that our statement be reflective of what is true right now in the Episcopal Church: that while same sex blessings are not officially permitted in most dioceses, they are going on and will continue to go on as an appropriate pastoral response to our gay and lesbian members and their relationships. Earlier versions of our response contained both sides of this truth. I argued to keep both sides of that truth in the final version, providing the clarity asked for by the Primates.

Others made the argument that to state that “a majority of Bishops do not sanction such blessings” implied that a minority do in fact sanction such blessings, and many more take no actions to prevent them. All this without coming right out and saying so. That argument won the day. I think it was a mistake.

Another issue to which I spoke was this notion of “public” versus “private” rites. I pointed out on the floor that our very theology of marriage is based on the communal nature of such a rite. Presumably, the couple has already made commitments to one another privately, or else they would not be seeking Holy Matrimony. What happens in a wedding is that the COMMUNITY is drawn into the relationship – the vows are taken in the presence of that community and the community pledges itself to support the couple in the keeping of their vows. It is, by its very nature, a “public” event – no matter how many or how few people are in attendance. The same goes for our solemn commitments to one another as lgbt couples.

I suspect that these efforts to keep such rites “private” is just another version of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” If avoidance of further conflict is the goal, then I can understand it. But if speaking the truth in love is the standard by which we engage in our relationships with the Communion, then no.

Let me also state strongly that I believe that the Joint Standing Committee of the ACC and Primates MISunderstood us when they stated that they understood that the HOB in fact “declared a ‘moratorium on all such public Rites.’” Neither in our discussions nor in our statement did we agree to or declare such a moratorium on permitting such rites to take place. That may be true in many or most dioceses, but that is certainly not the case in my own diocese and many others. The General Convention has stated that such rites are indeed to be considered within the bounds of the pastoral ministry of this Church to its gay and lesbian members, and that remains the policy of The Episcopal Church.

Lastly, let me respond to the very real pain in the knowledge that the change we long for takes time. This movement forward is going to take a long time. That doesn’t make it right. It certainly does not make it easy. Dr. King rightly said that “justice delayed is justice denied,” but that didn’t stop him from accepting and applauding incremental advances along the way.

We have every right to be impatient. We MUST keep pushing the Church to do the right thing. We must never let anyone believe that we will be satisfied with anything less than the full affirmation of us and our relationships as children of God.

BUT, I will continue to try to remain realistic in my approach. I work hard, and pray hard, to find the patience to stay at the table as long as it takes. And I hope we can refrain from attacking our ALLIES for not doing enough, soon enough. The bridges we are burning today may turn out to be the bridges we want to cross in the future. Let’s not destroy them.

We need to be in this for the long haul. For us to get overly discouraged when we don’t get all that we want, as fast as we want, seems counterproductive to me. We should never capitulate to less than all God wants for us, but to lose heart when we don’t move fast enough, and to attack the Church we are trying to help redeem, seems counterproductive.

The two days of listening to the Archbishop of Canterbury and some members of the ACC were the two hardest days I’ve had since my consecration. (It was a constant and holy reminder to me of the pain all of YOU continue to experience every day at the hands of a Church which is not yet what it is called to be. Ours is a difficult and transforming task: to continue serving a church that seems to love us less than we love it!) I was comforted by the support I DID receive from those straight bishops who spoke up for us, and especially by many of the Bishops of color, who implicitly “got” what I was trying to say and defied the majority with their support of me and of us. I was even encouraged by many conservative bishops’ willingness to work together to craft a statement we, liberal and conservative alike, could all live with.

I believe with my whole heart that the Spirit is alive and well and living in our Church – even in the House of Bishops. I believe Jesus when he told his disciples, on the night before he died for us, that they were not ready to hear and understand all that he had to teach them – and that he would send the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth. I believe that now is such a moment, when the Church, in its plodding and all-too-slow a way, is being guided into truth about its gay and lesbian members. It took ME 39 years to acknowledge who I was as a gay man and to affirm that I too am considered precious by God. Of course, the very next day after telling my parents, I expected them immediately to catch up to what had taken me 39 years to come to. Mercifully, it has not taken them the same 39 years to do so. The Church family is no different. It is going to take TIME.

I voted “yes” to the HOB statement. I believe it was the best we could do at this time. I am far less committed to being ideologically and unrelentingly pure, and far more interested in the “art of the possible.” Am I totally pleased with our statement? Of course not. Do I wish we could have done more? Absolutely. Can I live with it? Yes, I can. For right now. Until General Convention, which is the appropriate time for us to take up these issues again as a Church, with all orders of ministry present. I am taking to heart the old 60’s slogan, “Don’t whine, organize!”

I am always caught between the vision I believe God has for God’s Church, and the call to stay at the table, in communion with those who disagree with me about that vision – or, as is the case for most bishops, who disagree about the appropriate “timing” for reaching that vision of full inclusion. In this painful meantime, please pray for me as I seek to serve the people of my diocese and you, the community of which I am so honored to be a part.


Your brother in Christ,

+Gene


Read it here

Election in Nevada

Dan Edwards has been elected the Bishop of Nevada on the second ballot today.

The vote tally and candidate information is found on the Diocese of Nevada's bishop search blog.

The candidate profiles are found here.

The big push?

The Anglican Scotist analyzes the Campaign to Frighten Rowan (CaFRow) currently being conducted by the Anglican right. Bishop Michael Nazir Ali is the latest campaigner to issue a most likely empty threat to "boycott" the Lambeth Conference. The campaign is foundering, however. Primates of the Council of Anglican Provinces in African rebuffed Archbishop Peter Akinola's attempt to organize a continent-wide boycott at their recent meeting, and some bishops from Akinola's own province, the Church of Nigeria, have already accepted their invitations.

The Scotist's prediction:

[W]hether they leave soon for a new communion of their own devising, or waffle and wrangle some more--and it seems to me this type of pressure will continue as long as it can be ginned up by the usual suspects--this is the high-water mark. The big bombs yet to fall--Fort Worth and others trying to leave--will not yield the hoped for results, separation and replacement, because there isn't sufficient support in the [Church of England], as that would require being willing to split the CoE: the quitters becoming disestablished. The big bombs will fall in all likelihood, and there will be a big crash, but that will not qualitatively shift the situation.

Dallas paper profiles Robinson

The Dallas Morning News offers a profile of Bishop Gene Robinson and a sidebar on his parents. The bishop says: I take the long view of history. The debate will end with the full inclusion of GLBT people. We're really only arguing about timing."

Susan Russell has the cover photograph here. The bishop was in Washington, D. C. last night to speak at a screening of For the Bible Tells Me So in northern Virginia.

Kunonga must go, say provincial leaders

(Continued from yesterday's coverage, here.)

The Living Church Foundation reports that leaders of the Anglican Province of Central Africa have told Rt. Rev. Norbert Kunonga, the bishop of Harare, to relinquish control of diocesan assets or be sued. Kunonga previously announced that Harare had left the province over the issue of homosexuality, citing a statute that, according to the report, may not exist:

Bishop Kunonga said that Harare had quit the province over the issue of homosexuality, citing the Aug. 4 passage by the diocese of Pastoral Motion 8c which he said authorized secession.

However Harare diocesan chancellor Robert Stumbles told The Living Church no such resolution was adopted. Bishop Kunonga’s purported secession resolution “appeared after synod” and had “not been on the agenda.” At no time did the Harare synod give Bishop Kunonga “absolute authority to drag the diocese out of the province,” he said.

Bishop Kunonga’s actions were “tantamount to a schism,” Bishop Trevor Mwamba of Botswana told TLC on Sept. 22.

“The next logical step is for the Bishop of Harare to resign," he said. "The See of the Diocese of Harare will then be declared vacant and a new bishop elected to replace Bishop Kunonga. The schismatic group should not be under any illusion in thinking that they have title to the properties and various trusts legally vested in the Diocese of Harare.”

The article is here.

AllAfrica.com is alleging that it's more than just a request for his resignation, heading its report with "Anglican Church Fires Kunonga - Declares Vacancy." While the headline itself is somewhat misleading, the article clarifies that provincial dean Albert Chama sees Kunonga as having abdicated his responsibilities, saying he would soon appoint a vicar-general to head the diocese:

Chama told Kunonga ... that his purported withdrawal of the diocese from the province was "unconstitutional and un-canonical" as it was tantamount to "altering the structure and the essence" of the church.

"Consequently the heading of your letter stating 'formal withdrawal of the Diocese of Harare from the Province of Central Africa' is unacceptable and misleading," Chama wrote. "We, however, as the Dean of the Province of Central Africa accept and acknowledge that you and some of your supporters have by notice of your letter severed relationship with the Province of Central Africa."

On September 21, Kunonga wrote to the former Archbishop of Central Africa, Bernard Malango, saying he was withdrawing the Diocese of Harare from the province.

"I declare that the See of Harare is with immediate effect vacant and in accordance with Canon 14 (1) I shall be appointing a vicar-general to hold office whilst the necessary steps are taken for the holding of an elective assembly to elect the next bishop of the Diocese of Harare," Chama told Kunonga.

That report is here.

Two bishops removed in Central Africa

More news is emerging from the Province of Central Africa. The Lead has covered the apparent removal of Bishop Kunonga of the Diocese of Harare. The Living Church now reports that a second bishop has been removed.

In a statement released on Oct. 19, the Dean of the province, Bishop Albert Chama of Northern Zambia, stated that Bishop Kunonga and Bishop Elson Jakazi of Manicaland were no longer bishops of the church and the Sees of Harare and Manicaland had been declared vacant “with immediate effect.” Vicar generals would be appointed to supervise the election of new bishops, Bishop Chama wrote.

Further developments according to The Living Church:

Despite the removal of the two bishops, recovery of diocesan property is not assured. On Oct. 21, a Zimbabwe court declined to issue an emergency injunction on behalf of the province that would have forced Bishop Kunonga, an ally of Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe, to turn over the diocesan assets. Bishop Kunonga told the state-owned Harare Herald newspaper he would fight the province for control of church property. He was quoted saying the diocese was seeking to align with the Anglican Church of Kenya, a statement that could not be confirmed with the Kenyan Church in Nairobi.

Bishop Kunonga has also gone on the offensive, writing to discontented clergy in other dioceses seeking to split them off from their bishops. In an Oct. 11 letter sent to a Botswana parish and reviewed by The Living Church, Bishop Kunonga urged the congregation to write to Bishop Chama saying it was joining Harare in leaving the province.

Read The Living Church article here.

The Rt Revd Albert Chama, Dean of the Province of Central Africa and bishop of Northern Zambia statement is here.

Diocese of Maine elects new bishop

Episcopal Diocese of Maine elected The Rev. Canon Stephen Lane as Bishop on the first ballot this morning. Bishop-elect Lane is presently the Canon for Deployment and Ministry Development in the Diocese of Rochester.

The ballot totals are here.

There's more information about the bishop-elect here.

Mark Lawrence to be consecrated bishop of South Carolina

News broke last night that Bishop-elect Lawrence had received the number of consents from bishop and Standing Committees of the Episcopal Church needed to be consecrated as bishop. Episcopal News has the formal announcement this morning from the Presiding Bishop.

"Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori announced October 29 that the Very Rev. Mark Lawrence had received the consents needed for him to become the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The consecration will be held January 26, 2008 at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston, South Carolina.

Jefferts Schori has been invited to visit the diocese February 25-26, 2008. 'This will give us an opportunity to state with clarity and charity the theological position of this diocese in a manner similar to when we met with [the] Most. Rev. Frank T. Griswold shortly after his installation as presiding bishop,' the diocese says in a statement on its website.

Lawrence was re-elected as South Carolina's bishop on August 4 at a special electing convention held at St. James' Church on St. James Island, South Carolina. Lawrence was the only candidate in the election."

Read the rest of the story here.

Bishop Bennison inhibited from exercise of ministry

From Episcopal News Service this evening:

"Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on October 31 inhibited Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Charles Bennison from all ordained ministry pending a judgment of the Court for the Trial of a Bishop.

The Title IV Review Committee issued a presentment for conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy against Bennison on October 28.

The two counts of the presentment center on accusations that Bennison, when he was rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Upland, California, did not respond properly after learning sometime in 1973 that his brother, John, who worked as a lay youth minister in the parish, was having an affair with a 14-year-old member of the youth group. John Bennison was also married at the time, according to the presentment."

Read the rest here.

UPDATE 11/1/07 Statement from the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania follows:

Read more »

Photo ID

Bishop Barbara Harris, whom we've been in touch with this evening has not visited San Francisco in several years. Pay a visit here to find out why that is relevant. There's being wrong, and then there's being recklessly and maliciously wrong. This is the latter. An apology will no doubt ensue. The question is whether reputable conservative thinkers will continue to associate themselves with this Web site.

Update. Sunday 4 Nov 07 10:30AM Eastern. The post is currently taken down. Here is a cache version. - JBC

A note from Bishop Barbara Harris

A note from Bishop Barbara Harris, who was the subject of a long stream of erroneously-directed abuse yesterday on the Web site Stand Firm in Faith:

Jim,

Was not me! Knew nothing of the demonstration nor have I been in San Francisco for several years now and I know nothing of the dull normal who runs the Stand Firm In Faith (which faith?) website. As a Black person, I am quite accustomed to the fact that to many, if not most, white folk "we all look alike." That is why so many Black folk sit in jail from "eye witness identification" accounts. I have been identified and addressed as the Rev.Dr. Katie Cannon, the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglass, the Rev. Sandye Williams and the Rev. Mary Adebonojo, as well as Diane Pollard and Nell B.Gibson. Oh well, fact of life in "America the (racist) Beautiful."

So while I do have a concern for the Palestinian people, that definetly is not me in the photo. I also have a deep concern about so called orthodox Anglicans, Episcopalians in particular, who feel they have cornered the market on revealed truth and righteousness. It's a heavy Fred Phelps, Jerry Fallwell, Pat Robertson-like burden to carry.

Feel free to pass this on to them if you wish. I do not know how to blog on to websites and would not do so to such a freakie one as that.

Affectionately,
+Barbara

Greg Griffith, who posted the item, has now apologized.

Updated: This seems appropos. The magic words: "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" come up at 9:34.

This line from The Crucible, seems on point, as well: "I shall not rest til every inch of this province belongs again to God." Spoken by the hanging judge.


The cached version of this item is all that is now available, and it does not convey some of the nastier insults lobbed at the bishop by a brave anonymous poster named Jeffersonian and by the site's editor Greg Griffith. But have a look for a brief taste.

Sexual abuse is a crime, not an affair

Dr. Westley Byrne of Beaufort, South Carolina, a pubic health doctor and nurse practitioner in pediatrics writes in Episcopal Life Online regarding the charges against Bishop Charles Bennison and the wording of news reports of his actions that brought on the charges.

My first reaction to the news about Bishop Charles Bennison (Pennsylvania bishop inhibited from ordained ministry, Oct. 31, 2007) and his brother John was a mixture of anger and sadness.

As I read further, though, another reaction set in. This second response wasn't so much to the news itself but to the way that news was described.

Seminarian John Bennison's criminal acts toward a child under his lay pastoral care are variously characterized as initiating a "sexual relationship," having a "relationship," and engaging in "sexual relations." As an ordained Episcopal deacon and then priest, John is said to have continued a "sexual relationship with the 14-year-old."

Charles, then a priest and John's supervisor during much of this time, knew that "his brother was conducting a sexual affair with an underage member of [his] church's youth group." It's said that Charles even came upon John Bennison and the 14 year-old-girl "while they were engaged in sexual relations."

Charles is charged with doing nothing, however, "to hasten the end of the affair."

But this wasn't an "affair." Neither was it a "relationship." What it was was child sexual abuse.

The first hint at that awful truth in the Presentment against Charles Bennison doesn't come until the bottom of page 3, where it's termed sexual misconduct. Well into page 5, John Bennison's behavior finally is labeled correctly as sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse is a crime, not an affair. (emphasis added)

Read it all here.

3 bishops face discipline

The Living Church reports that three resigned bishops of the Episcopal Church face discipline:

An ecclesiastical trial against the Rt. Rev. William Cox is still pending, despite the fact that he transferred to the Anglican Church of Southern Cone last March. Bishop Cox told The Living Church he was not aware that he was still a target of interest to the ecclesiastical court.

Bishop Cox served as Bishop Suffragan of Maryland from 1972-1980 and assisting Bishop of Oklahoma from 1980-1988. He previously admitted ordaining two priests and a deacon at Christ Church in Overland Park, Kan., in 2005 after he was asked to do so by the Primate of Uganda. A month later, he returned to Christ Church and led a service of confirmation.

Disciplinary investigations of the Rt. Rev. Andrew Fairfield, retired Bishop of North Dakota, and the Rt. Rev. David Bena, former Bishop Suffragan of Albany, are in process. Last June, Bishop Fairfield transferred to the Church of Uganda. Shortly before his own renunciation last January, the Rt. Rev. Daniel Herzog, former Bishop of Albany, approved the transfer of Bishop Bena’s episcopal orders to the Anglican Church of Nigeria.
...
The canons of The Episcopal Church require bishops to receive permission to resign from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction. ... Bishops Bena, Cox and Fairfield wrote Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori informing her of their transfers, but they did not request approval for their actions from the House of Bishops.

Unlike priests, bishops cannot be found guilty of abandonment of communion without a trial. According to Title 4, Canon 9, section 1(iii), in order for inhibition and a trial to proceed, the Presiding Bishop must receive the unanimous endorsement of the three most senior bishops with jurisdiction before the accused bishop can be inhibited from performing ordained ministry functions.


Read it all here.

Rescinding the invitation

Susan Russell has the story of how Bishop Dabney Smith of the Diocese of Southwest Florida withdrew permission he had previously granted for Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire to speak at a Sarasota church. Bishop Smith has apparently taken a lesson from the Jeffrey John chapter of the Rowan Williams playbook entitled, "How to Alienate your Supporters without Placating your Adversaries."

The bishop has decided that it is too politically costly to allow the listening process, recommended in Lambeth Resolution 1.10, to take place in his jurisdiction. Here is how the rector of the church which had invited Robinson explained Smith's decision to his parish:

Bishop Smith said he took this action because of all the heat he is getting. Previously Bishop Smith had given his permission for the visit and said it was not a problem for him although he anticipated a reaction. He told me that it has been more of a reaction than he anticipated.

Smith's decision raises the larger question of which Episcopal bishops will be permitted to speak at churches in the Tampa/ St. Petersburgh area. Does a bishop who participated in Robinson's consecration pass muster? How about a bishop who voted with the majority in affirming Robinson's election? Is any speaker subject to cancellation if sufficient outrage can be generated, or just the gay ones?

The church awaits clarification on these issues from Bishop Smith, or whichever group is now making up his mind for him.

In the meantime, the disenchanted can buy this button.

Just retired bishop renounces vows

From the website of the Diocese of Southwest Florida:

In a letter to the diocese, Lipscomb said he has written to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, asking “to be released from my ordination vows and the obligations and responsibilities of a member of the House of Bishops. I have taken this step in order to be received into the Catholic Church.

“Through a long season of prayer and reflection Marcie and I have come to believe this is the leading of the Holy Spirit and God’s call for us for the next chapter of our lives,” he wrote.

Lipscomb stepped down Sept. 15 after a decade as bishop of Southwest Florida.

Bishop of San Joaquin responds to Presiding Bishop

The Lead recently reported on a letter from the Presiding Bishop to the Bishop of San Joaquin asking him to draw back from his attempts to remove the Diocese of San Joaquin from the Episcopal Church. His reply has now been published by Episcopal Life Online.

Responding to a letter from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop John-David Schofield of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin said the House of Bishops has "ignored my views for nearly twenty years" and blamed the wider Episcopal Church for any decision by the diocese to sever its ties and attempt affiliation with another province of the Anglican Communion.

"The decision to be made by our Annual Convention [December 8] is the culmination of The Episcopal Church's failure to heed the repeated calls for repentance issued by the Primates of the Anglican Communion and for the cessation of false teaching and sacramental actions explicitly contrary to Scripture," Schofield wrote in a December 5 letter responding to a letter Jefferts Schori sent him earlier in the week.


Read it all here.

Bishop of London: Follow the style of the Great Communicator

HWJC? How would Jesus communicate today?

On Tuesday, the Bishop of London, the Right Rev Richard Chartres, delivered a lecture at what is known as the journalists' church, St Bride. His theme was church communications in today's environment. Here is some of what he had to say:

Too much of the education of ministers of religion is dominated by learning the communications techniques of the day before yesterday in yesterday’s world. We may be able to write treatises to confute Cardinal Bellarmine but the ability to put a message on a blackberry; to enter the nous-sphere of 18-30 year olds; to produce a two minute video artfully shot with consummate professionalism to simulate the naivety and the believability of a home movie; to deliver a “mighty atom,” a message or a story which gets under the radar and reverberates in the inner spaces of people who are programmed to turn off as soon as you say “I take my text from the Prophet Haggai”; to develop the capacity to interpret the signs of the times through art – all these things should be part of the formation of Christian communicators today.
...
At a national level the Church with its 1950’s polity and style is constantly convicted of fidgeting and dithering with an in-house ecclesiastical agenda while the real battle is raging elsewhere. We have invested a huge amount of time and effort in elaborating defensive committee based structures which confuse and inhibit communication.
...
We continue to teach and communicate our position as a church by producing reports whose precise level of authority is rarely clear; which read as if they were high table conversations overheard; which treat things on the one hand and one the other at considerable length with the inevitable consequence that even church people in a culture in which pictures and jingles are more eloquent than treatises gather the drift of what the Church is teaching from the tiny gobbet which some journalist is able to smuggle past the sub editors. Almost always there is disappointment on the part of the authors at what they see as the distortion of their work but why do we keep on doing business this way?

There is room on the web for genuine growing conversations at considerable length and depth but formal Church pronouncements need a rather different style and one not so different from the communications of Jesus himself.

Read it all here.

For more about the bishop explore from the link above, and check out the London Internet Church.

Bishop Schofield explains it all

Bishop John-David Schofield of the Diocese of San Joaquin has apparenlty been consulting the same lawyers as the Bush-Cheney administration and has received the same advice: the constitution allows you to claim whatever powers you desire. How else to explain the curious argument he presented to delegates at his convention today in urging them to vote to secede from the Episcopal Church?

The Living Church reports:

Legally there is nothing to prevent the Diocese of San Joaquin seeking primatial oversight outside The Episcopal Church, Bishop Schofield said. In all likelihood, General Convention will amend its constitution and canons to prevent dioceses from breaking union with it. Since changes to the San Joaquin diocesan constitution require approval by two consecutive diocesan conventions, there will probably not be time to try again before the window of opportunity is closed, he said.

We should know some time today whether the remainder of the diocese is as unaware of what the constitution actually says: which is that all power in these matters resides with the General Convention. The window the bishop speaks of does not exist.

Bishop Schofield asked to clarify

The Presiding Bishop has written the following letter to Bishop John-David Schofield:

"My dear brother,   I was deeply saddened to hear of the actions of the Diocesan Convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin this past weekend, particularly the declaration that you are no longer part of The Episcopal Church, but are now under the authority of the Province of the Southern Cone.  I assume that this means you understand yourself to have departed the Episcopal Church and are no longer functioning as a member of the clergy in this Church.

I would like to have confirmation from you of this understanding of your status.  Many interrelated matters depend on that status – for example, your membership in the House of Bishops and the acceptability of pension contributions on your behalf."

The Episcopal News service article then states that:

If Schofield is considered to have abandoned the communion of the church, he would have two months to recant his position. Failing to do so, the matter would be referred to the full House of Bishops. If the House were to concur, the Presiding Bishop would depose the bishop and declare the episcopates of those dioceses vacant. Those remaining in the Episcopal Church would be gathered to organize a new diocesan convention and elect a replacement Standing Committee, if necessary.

An assisting bishop would be appointed to provide episcopal ministry until a new diocesan bishop search process could be initiated and a new bishop elected and consecrated.

A lawsuit would be filed against the departed leadership and a representative sample of departing congregations if they attempted to retain Episcopal Church property.

Read the rest here.

Nevada bishop's spiritual journey

Dan Edwards' path to becoming the new bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada may not seem conventional to some. But even when he was a lawyer, he was committed to social justice, representing "unpopular causes" such as migrant workers and American Indians. Raised a Baptist, he moved through a cycle of faith that included boredom, disenchantment, agnosticism that bordered on atheism, Buddhism and, in his 30s, a return to faith and a call to serve the Episcopal Church.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal profiles the new bishop, noting that Edwards is a good fit for the 6,000-member diocese and its frontier sensibilities.

Deacon Sandy Oetjen of All Saints Episcopal Church in Las Vegas, a member of the diocesan search committee, says Edwards brings "a broad range of experience" to the diocese. And, because of his work with American Indians and migrants in Colorado and Idaho, he also "has some familiarity with the kind of Western way of approaching things."

"We're a very different kind of diocese, and that was important to us: That somebody would recognize the differences between us and one of these very large dioceses

."

About his spiritual journey, Edwards offers:

..."the religion part of it came to seem superfluous. So the religion dropped away and my mind really became about social action and advocacy. And that was essentially an atheist period or, at least, an agnostic-leaning-toward-atheistic period."

However, during law school, Edwards began meditating, "simply for the purpose of stress management. But in the course of meditation, I discovered something much deeper and wider than stress management."

"That was an experience of what I would now call 'God' and I didn't have much of a word for it then," he says. "But that sent me off on a path of searching Eastern religions."

During the early years of his law practice, Edwards was a practicing Buddhist. But, he says, "there came a point when that was no longer adequate for me."

Christianity again called, in part because the message of Jesus meshes so well with Edwards' own interest in social justice and advocacy on behalf of the poor and suffering. In addition, Edwards says his law practice "brought me into encounters with depths of evil I had not experienced before," including the case of an alleged contract killing that took place amid "a larger network of deceit and malevolence (that) was pretty discouraging."

"It was a very dark chapter," Edwards recalls, "and I was looking for a story big enough to have such a dark chapter in it and still come out with a good ending. And Christianity offered me that."

It was then that Edwards "kind of came to the Episcopal church without believing in it. But I decided I would do it as an experiment."

He attended worship regularly. He committed prayers from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer to memory, and recited the prayers throughout the day, saying them "whether I believed them or not."

"And, sometimes, it was painful to say the prayers," Edwards says. "But, as uncomfortable as it was, I kept feeling, sensing, intuiting that there was something to it."

And, little by little, Edwards felt something changing.

Read the whole thing here.

More from Episcopal Life, here.

Review committee says Bishop Duncan has abandoned communion

The Episcopal Church's Title IV Review Committee has certified that Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan has abandoned the communion of the church according to Episcopal Life Online:

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori informed Duncan on January 15 of the certification and sent him a copy.

Her letter told Duncan that she sought the canonically required permission from the House's three senior bishops with jurisdiction to inhibit him, based on the certification, from the performance of any episcopal, ministerial or canonical acts.

"On 11 January 2008 they informed me that such consents would not be given at this time by all three bishops," Jefferts Schori wrote.


Read it all here.

Comment: This is similar to the Bishop Schofield charge but without the Senior bishops' consents Bishop Duncan cannot be inhibited. The House of Bishops will act on the abandonment charge at their next regular or special meeting after the 60 days for recanting has elapsed as per the time limits in Title IV Canon 9.2. If a majority of bishops eligible to vote then agree with the charge, the Presiding Bishop deposes him.

UPDATE:
Mark Harris comments at Preludium.

Fr Jake's comments are here

The Diocese of Pittsburgh responds here

Bishop Duncan offered a brief response to the news, saying, “Few bishops have been more loyal to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church. I have not abandoned the Communion of this Church. I will continue to serve and minister as the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh."

The report of the Review Committee is here.

Meanwhile, Bishop Iker reveals he has received another letter from the Presiding Bishop.

Bishop Wimberly: why I did not consent to inhibition

Bishop Don Wimberly of Texas has released the following statement on his reasons for not consenting to inhibit Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh:

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori asked me along with the other two most senior bishops (Peter Lee of Virginia and Leo Frade of Southeast Florida) for consent to move forward with two inhibitions, one for John-David Scofield, Bishop of San Joaquin and Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburg, for abandonment of the Communion of the Church. We consented to Scofield because the Diocese of San Joaquin had recently voted to leave the Episcopal Church. We did not consent to the request for Bishop Duncan because the Diocese of Pittsburgh has not held their annual convention yet and therefore has not formalized any change to their membership within the Episcopal Church, as the Diocese of San Joaquin had. Even though waiting postpones the issue coming before the House of Bishops, I believe it is prudent to take every precaution and afford Bishop Duncan the opportunity to remain in the Episcopal Church.

The Rt. Rev. Don A. Wimberly, Bishop of Texas

It is not known whether or not the other senior bishops gave consent.

Does the lack of inhibition of Bishop Duncan matter?

There has been a lot of discussion about the meaning of the senior bishops' lack of consent to inhibit The Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The question has been "does this mean the process is stopped or not?" The letter to Bishop Duncan from the Presiding Bishop and Canon IV.9.2 state that the process continues not withstanding the senior bishops' non-consent to inhibition.

Letter from the Presiding Bishop (ed. underline):

5 January, 2008

Dear Bob,

I am sorry to have to tell you that on 17 December 2007 the Title IV Review Committee certified to me that in its view, you have abandoned the Communion of this Church, within the meaning of Canon IV,9 of this Church. A copy of that certification, together with the submissions on which the commmittee based its decision, is included with this letter.

Pursuant to that Canon, I submitted the matter to the three senior bishops of this Church having jurisdiction - Bishops Frade of Southeast Florida, Lee of Virginia, and Wimberly of Texas - and asked that they consent to your inhibition, pending consideration of this matter by the House of Bishops. On 11 January, 2008, they informed me that such consents would not be given at this time by all three bishops.

In due course, I shall forward the Review Committee's certification to the House of Bishops for its consideration. Pursuant to the time limits stated in Canon IV.9, the matter will not come before the House at its next scheduled meeting in March 2008, but will come before the House at the next meeting thereafter. I would, however, welcome a statement by you within the next two months providing evidence that you once more consider yourself fully subject to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of this church.

You continue in my prayers. I remain
Your servant in Christ, Katharine Jefferts Schori

The relevant portion of Canon IV.9.2 reads

"Otherwise, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to present the matter to the House of Bishops at the next regular or special meeting of the House. If the House, by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote, shall give its consent, the Presiding Bishop shall depose the Bishop from the Ministry, and pronounce and record in the presence of two or more Bishops that the Bishop has been so deposed.”

It is clear from the Presiding Bishop's letter and the Canon that the discussion and vote on deposition of Bishop Duncan will not occur at the bishops' March meeting, but at the following meeting. Unless a special meeting is held it will occur at the Fall 2008 meeting of the House of Bishops. The Presiding Bishop is proceeding on this basis.

More on this story from Episcopal Cafe here and here and here.

Bishop Frade consented to inhibition of Bishop Duncan

The Rt. Rev. Leo Frade, Bishop of the Diocese of Southeast Florida has released the following statement explaining his consent to the inhibition of Bishops Duncan and Schofield:

Dearly Beloved in Christ:

Greetings from the Holy Land! While leading my yearly pilgrimage of the faithful to the land of our Lord Jesus, I have been asked to comment on the decision of the Three Senior Bishops to unanimously move to inhibit the Bishop of San Joaquin, but not to inhibit the Bishop of Pittsburgh.

I must state that after carefully examining the decision of the Review Committee headed by the Rt. Rev. Dorsey Henderson of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, which recommended the move to inhibit both bishops--of the Dioceses of Pittsburgh and of San Joaquin--and after reviewing all the supporting documents that give evidence of their actions, I was astonished that we neglected to take action any sooner on their obvious violation and breach of their oath to engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church.

I firmly believe that any bishops whose words and actions are in violation of this oath, as stated by church canon, should be equally subject to the appropriate canonical discipline.

I also believe that it is my episcopal duty to assiduously safeguard both the membership and patrimony of our Church as a whole. The faithful of those dioceses that have been betrayed by their bishops need to know that they are not abandoned by their Church.

The Episcopate must not tolerate such actions as these bishops have taken; they have betrayed the trust that was given them when we, their brother and sister bishops, consented to their election. The seriousness of this betrayal is not mitigated by the fact that in one of the cases the goal of turning away from The Episcopal Church has not been fully achieved. As I have learned to say in America, "You can not just be a little pregnant."

It was with great sadness that I concluded I had no other choice but to vote to move to inhibit two of my brothers who have betrayed their trust to be faithful shepherds of their dioceses, which are integral parts of our Episcopal Church.

The beauty and flexibility of Anglican polity has allowed since its foundation disparate and disagreeing parties to remain in full communion. It is my sincere hope and prayer that these two bishops, who once pledged of their own free will to engage to remain faithful to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church, will in a spirit of reconciliation choose to fulfill their previous promises.

If they are unable to do so, we in the HOB must do our sad duty to discipline them and move in a timely manner to protect and provide for the many remaining faithful of these dioceses.

Blessings,

The Rt Rev Leopold Frade
Bishop of Southeast Florida and Senior Bishop with Jurisdiction of TEC. (780)

Lee also did not consent to Duncan inhibition

Bishop Peter Lee, the bishop of the Diocese of Virginia has released the following statement in response to questions about whether or not he agreed to consent to acting to inhibit Bishop Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh who has been charged with the abandonment of the Communion of the Episcopal Church:

I along with the two other most senior active bishops in the House of Bishops were asked by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to review the evidence and give consent to moving forward with the inhibitions of the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh and the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop of San Joaquin on the charge of abandonment of the communion of this Church. I gave my consent for the inhibition of Bishop Schofield. It is clear that by his actions and their result he has abandoned the communion of this Church. I did not give my consent for the inhibition of Bishop Duncan at this time. The Diocese of Pittsburgh, which Bishop Duncan leads, has not formalized any change to their membership within the Episcopal Church. I do not take either of these actions lightly, the giving or withholding of consent to these inhibitions. I fear that Bishop Duncan’s course may be inevitable. But I also believe that it is most prudent to take every precaution and provide every opportunity for Bishop Duncan and the leadership of the Diocese of Pittsburgh to turn back from the course they seem to desire and instead to remain in the Episcopal Church.

The Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee
Bishop of Virginia

As we've already posted, Bishop Wimberly also was unwilling to consent to the inhibition of Bishop Duncan. Bishop Frade did consent.

Trevor Mwamba to be in Ladies #1 Detective Agency film

The Tacoma, Washington News Tribune interviews Alexander McCall Smith, author of the Ladies #1 Detective Agency series.

“Mma Ramotswe had a detective agency in Africa, at the foot of Kgale Hill.”
Alexander McCall Smith acknowledges that the opening sentence in his 1998 best-seller, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, is an homage to the opening line in another famous novel, Out of Africa, by Danish writer Isak Dinesen.

Smith’s series of books about Ramotswe (the ninth, The Miracle at Speedy Motors, will be published this spring) are a valentine to Botswana, and by extension, much of southern Africa. They describe its parched, rolling landscape, endless blue skies and gentle, forthright people in loving terms.

The books are not really detective stories in the true sense of the word. The crimes investigated are not gory homicides, but rather the less dramatic trespasses of everyday life: cheating husbands, errant children, wily con men.

Are your characters composites of people you have met?

Usually they are. I tend not to base fictional characters on very specific people. What I do is, I put real people in the books – with their agreement.

I put words into their mouths and I show them what they say. They usually say, “I would have said that, if I’d thought of it.”

Also revealed in the interview is the film role for Bishop Mwamba:

In the Botswana novels, there are real people. Trevor Mwamba is the real Anglican Bishop of Botswana. He actually is appearing in the film. Anthony Minghella (the director) gave him a part in the film.

Read it all here.

Putting "Anglican" in quotation

Bishop Howe (Central Florida) in his Convention Address:

While people can call themselves anything they like, the only true “Anglicans” are those in full communion with Canterbury. The Anglican Mission in the Americas, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Charismatic Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Episcopal Church, the Anglican Province in America, and so on…are NOT.

So, the process of “disaffiliation,” and “realignment” – in order to be more truly “Anglican” seems to me a fairly specious and vain enterprise. The way to remain Anglican – at least for now – is to remain Episcopalian!

Unless it falls under "and so on" the bishop, however, does not address his perspective on the situation in the Diocese of San Joaquin.

Thanks to Mark Harris for the link. See his observations on the bishop's address here.

Anglicans take Kunonga to court

Updated Friday evening

There are new reports from Zimbabwe on the developing controversy in the Diocese of Harare:

"The High Court of Zimbabwe will tomorrow hear an application by the Anglican church authorities over the ‘unbecoming’ behaviour of ousted bishop for Harare Diocese, Nolbert Kunonga who is alleged to be defying a High Court ruling ordering him not to interfere with church services.

The application, which comes two weeks after High Court Judge Rita Makarau ordered Kunonga not to interfere with church services conducted by acting bishop Sebastian Bakare at the church’s Cathedral of Saint Mary and All Saints in Harare, was filed by the church secretary, Reverend Christopher Tapera on behalf of the church.

Squabbles in the Harare Diocese of the Anglican Church started in September last year when Kunonga unilaterally attempted to withdraw the Harare Diocese from the Central Africa Province on allegations that the province did not openly criticize the appointment of gays into priesthood.

Court papers indicate that on January 20 Kunonga, who was in the company of one Reverend Munyanyi, disrupted services at the cathedral in flagrant violation of Makarau’s order."

Read the rest here.

For more background on the situation you can see previous stories on the Lead here and here.

The ordination of Kunonga's successor and rival Sebastian Bakare is scheduled for this weekend according to news reports.

Friday evening update

The High Court has ruled that Kunonga's diocese "does not exist." As reported by the Zimbabwe Independent

"Applicant (Kunonga's Harare Diocese) cannot exist outside the constitution of first respondent (CPCA [Church of the Province of Central Africa]). It has no separate constitution of its own. It, therefore, has no structures of its own other than those set out in the constitution," Hungwe ruled. "The assets under contention are assets which respondent lays claim to. The question of ownership of these assets is not presently before me."

Hungwe said it was clear to him that Kunonga's diocese was nowhere "near demonstrating that it has placed itself within the purview of those who confess to be Anglicans and who abide by the constitution" of their church.

"There is no claim that there was resolution of the synod of the diocese adopting this alleged breakaway (by Kunonga)," the judge ruled. He said Kunonga by breaking away from the CPCA violated the constitution of the church.

Read it all.

Victoria Matthews elected bishop in New Zealand

Bishop Victoria Matthews, a Canadian bishop, commonly thought of as a moderate to conservative voice has been elected the bishop of Christ Church in New Zealand.

Stephen Bate's report in his Guardian "People" column appears below:

"Interesting times beckon in Antipodean Anglicanism, where the former Canadian bishop Victoria Matthews - narrowly beaten to become Canada's primate last summer - has been elected Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand, a place she has never visited. She is a theological conservative who nevertheless voted that gay partnerships do not violate core church doctrines, which should bring her into interesting relations with the arch-conservative Archbishop of Sydney across the Tasman Sea, Peter Jensen, who does not believe that women should be put in charge of anything, least of all a church. The defeated candidate for Christchurch was the combative dean of Southwark cathedral, Colin Slee, who will thus remain a thorn in the flesh of C-of-E conservatives."

From here.

House of Bishops to hear oversight plan

The Lead reported last week on proposals by some conservative bishops for alternative oversight. Now The Living Church updates the story with news that it has been referred to the House of Bishops March meeting for further discussion.

The plan builds upon the “Episcopal Visitor” concept announced last fall by Bishop Jefferts Schori, according to the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, Bishop of Central Florida, who was one of the group that met with the Presiding Bishop. The existence of the plan was reported Feb. 22 by the British Telegraph newspaper. Bishop Howe subsequently released a summary of the plan and a partial correction of the Telegraph article. The actual plan has not been released.

“Our purpose in meeting with Bishop Jefferts Schori yesterday was to apprize her of this plan, seek her counsel, and assure her that we remain committed to working within the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church, and that the primates involved in this discussion are not involved in ‘border crossing,’ nor would we be,” Bishop Howe wrote. “We will visit no congregation without the diocesan bishop’s invitation and permission.”

Discussion of the plan will be included on the agenda for the spring House of Bishops’ meeting, according to Neva Rae Fox, public affairs officer for Episcopal Life Media.

It will be interesting to hear the reaction of the House of Bishops which has been very cool to dismissive of these sorts of ideas especially if they involve bishops from other Provinces.

Read the article here.

Bishop Kelshaw received by the Church of Uganda

An article in the Religious Intelligence (a website published in the United Kingdom) reports that the retired bishop of the Rio Grande, Terrence Kelshaw, has been received into the Anglican province of the Church of Uganda.

The article has the details of his move:

"Bishop Kelshaw was until his retirement a Bishop with The Episcopal Church USA, and was among those who were against liberal moves within the Anglican Communion. ‘I have requested and been received into the province of the Church of Uganda. I sense security and unity with that decision,’ Bishop Kelshaw told Uganda’s independent Daily Monitor.

The retired bishop was called to serve as an interim pastor to one of the Churches in California, according to the Rev Alison Barfoot, assistant to Archbishop Orombi, in charge of international relations.

Bishop Kelshaw becomes the second bishop to join the Anglican Church of Uganda after the Rt Rev John Guernsey, who was anointed a Ugandan Bishop for the American flocks who have left the Episcopal Church.

The article then continues with a list of charges brought against the Episcopal Church by a former Episcopal priest who now serves on Archbishop Orombi's staff in Kenya. The charges are apparently the reasoning behind the move made by Bishop Kelshaw:

The Daily Monitor of Uganda dated Feb 26, 2006, said: ‘The Episcopal Church USA is known for having consecrated a gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2005, an action that is against the teachings of the Anglican Church.’

‘The gay argument is just simplistic. There are so many differences between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church,’ Dr Barfoot told the paper.

She claimed the Episcopal Church does believe that the Bible has authority, ‘they don’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and its bishops don’t believe in the Virgin Mary while some do not believe that Jesus was born.’

It is such differences of theological interpretation that has prompted the Anglican Church of Uganda and others within the worldwide Anglican Communion to announce that they would boycott this year’s Lambeth Conference slated for July-August, in the UK."

Read the rest here.

Bishop Sisk responds to New Yorker's story on Paul Moore

Bishop Mark Sisk of New York has written to members of his diocese about a story in The New Yorker magazine by Honor Moore in which she revealed that her father, the late Bishop Paul Moore, had an affair with a man during his marraige. To read the letter click "Read more."

The key paragraph follows:

But there is more. It appears as well that Bishop Moore violated his ordination vows in another respect. The long term extra-marital relationship that his daughter describes was begun, according to her account, with a young man who had come to the Bishop for counseling. That inappropriate relationship is a fundamental violation of an ordained person’s vow to minister to the needs of those entrusted to his or her care; never is this more so than when working with the vulnerable who have come seeking pastoral care. Sadly the violation of trust that Ms Moore reports is consistent with behavior recorded in complaints about Bishop Moore’s exploitative behavior received by the office of the Bishop of New York. As Canon Law required, the concerns of those complainants (who wished their identities held in confidence) were duly conveyed to the then Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning for disposition.

Read more »

Church sets date for Bennison trial

The Episcopal Church USA has set a June 9 trial date for Bishop Charles E. Bennison, the suspended head of its Diocese of Pennsylvania, on charges that he concealed his brother's sexual abuse of a minor decades ago.

Bennison, 64, was pastor of a California parish in the early 1970s when he hired his brother, John Bennison, as its youth minister. John Bennison soon began a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl that lasted several years.

Last year, the girl's family complained that Charles Bennison knew of the abuse but did not act to prevent it, and failed to inform his superiors when John Bennison sought ordination. John Bennison resigned from the priesthood in 2006 after a Los Angeles TV station reported the abuse.

Read it all in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

John-David Schofield writes Katharine Jefferts Schori

And his fellow bishops. Read it all here (pdf). [For the moment available here in html.]

It doesn't start off well:

The Most Rev. Katherine Jefferts Schori....
That would be Katharine, not Katherine.

John-David tenders his resignation from the House of Bishops. (Didn't he already do that?). Does that end the need for action by the House of Bishop's? Does it close the case on the charge of abandonment of communion? We don't think so. (Afterall, the inhibition came after his earlier resignation.)

Readers, let us know what you think.

Read more »

House of Bishops spring meeting begins

The House of Bishops begins its spring meeting today with a number of items on the agenda. A primary focus of the meeting will be faith-based reconciliation training as part of the preparations for this summer's Lambeth Conference. The reconciliation workshops will be led by Canon Brian Cox, a nationally known figure in reconciliation work, and one of the two priests appointed as interim pastoral presence in the Diocese San Joaquin.

According to Cox, quoted in an Episcopal News Service article:

"'We hope to stimulate a conversation in the House of Bishops about the place of reconciliation in the culture of the Episcopal Church,' said Cox, who has engaged faith-based reconciliation training and seminars in the Middle East, the Sudan, Kashmir, Burundi and Korea."

Additionally the House of Bishops will make decisions on whether or not Bishop Schofield has "abandoned the communion" of this church, a canonically determined action that, if he is found to have done, will lead to his formal removal from the ministry of the Episcopal Church.

According to the ENS article:

If a majority of bishops decide that Schofield has abandoned the communion, the Presiding Bishop will be canonically required to declare the see vacant and appoint a provisional bishop.

It is the last step expected in a process that began with the December 8 convention vote of the Central California diocese to leave TEC and realign with the Province of the Southern Cone. A series of developments followed: a Title IV Review Committee determined that Schofield had abandoned the communion; the Presiding Bishop informed the standing committee elected in December that they were no longer recognized as that body; a steering committee was appointed to organize an anticipated March 29 special convention to elect a provisional bishop.

[...]Schofield sent a letter, dated March 1, to Jefferts Schori, resigning from TEC's House of Bishops. It was unclear if the letter would have any effect on the House of Bishops' deliberations.

Bishop Schofield's letter to the House can be view here.

Read the rest of the ENS report here.

Bishop of Swaziland speaks truth to power

Bishop Meshack Mabuza, of the Diocese of Swaziland, has come out strongly in opposition to the "new" government in his country. Mabuza is critical in particular of the new constitution put in place by King Mswati III, the last absolute ruler in Africa. The Diocese of Swaziland is part of the Anglican Province of South Africa.

According to an article in Religious Intelligence by Canon George Conger:

"On Feb 6, 2006 a new constitution went into effect granting parliamentary government. However, it forbad candidates from forming political parties, effectively giving the King the sole authority to appointment ministers and squelching organized dissent.

The new constitution was being used by royalists as a ‘fig-leaf to cover the international shame of 33 years of rule by decree’ by the King, Bishop Mabuza charged. It was a ‘piece of paper that is not being promoted or even defended by the government,’ he said, and its guarantees of the rule of law had been ignored.

‘This year has seen defenceless suspects killed by the police, public meetings broken up or prevented from happening, union members harassed, property taken without due court processes, newspaper editors intimidated, journalists threatened by government. The people of Swaziland are in the dark about the constitution and their rights and the government seems more than happy to keep them that way,’ Bishop Mabuza said.

The Swazi people were no longer ‘subjects’ of the King, but ‘citizens’ of a constitutional democracy, the bishop said. ‘The difference is profound,’ he noted as ‘citizens cede their power to politicians and then call them to account for their stewardship. Subjects do as they are told.’"

In the article the leadership shown by Bishop Mabuza is called "a fine example of 'the holistic mission that defines the Anglican Communion at its best'".

There has been evidence of a rising level of political violence of late, so this public position by Swaziland's Anglican bishop carries with it some real concern for his safety.

Read the rest here.

San Joaquin bishop candidate walkabout scheduled

Living Church:

A single candidate chosen to be the provisional Bishop of San Joaquin will participate in a two-day walkabout visitation to the diocese immediately after the House of Bishops’ meeting concludes at Camp Allen in Texas on March 12.

The bishops are scheduled to vote on whether to depose the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin during a “business session” after Morning Prayer on that day

.
Read the entire Living Church article here.

Remain Episcopal's announcement of the walkabout is here.

Full invitation for Robinson "not possible"

Episcopal News Service:

The House of Bishops was informed March 10 that full invitation is "not possible" from the Archbishop of Canterbury to include Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as a participant in this summer's Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops.

Robinson, addressing the House, urged the other bishops of the Episcopal Church to participate fully in the conference, and thanked all who are willing to "stay at the table." (A link to Robinson's remarks will follow.)

Robinson told the House that he respectfully declined an invitation to be present in the conference's "Marketplace" exhibit section.

Robinson confirmed for ENS that he plans to be in Canterbury during the July 16-August 3 once-a-decade gathering, but not as an official conference participant or observer.

Read it all here.

More:

Report from Bishops Ed Little, Bruce Caldwell and Tom Ely to the House of Bishops regarding conversations about Bishop Gene Robinson's participation at the Lambeth Conference
March 10, 2008

Following the September 2007 meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans, the Presiding Bishop appointed Bishops Little, Caldwell and Ely to serve as the team to be in conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion Office to discuss the possibilities of +Gene's participation in the Lambeth Conference. This was in response to the hope expressed in our New Orleans communiqu in which we said that it is "our fervent hope that a way can be found for his (Gene's) full participation." We have tried to be faithful servants of the House of Bishops and to reflect in our own way some measure of the diversity within the House.

Over the past few months the three of us have been negotiating with Mr. Chris Smith from the Archbishop's staff and the Reverend Canon Kenneth Kearon from the Anglican Communion Office hoping to arrive at a substantial invitation for +Gene's participation in the Lambeth Conference. To date we have held five conference calls and have had several internal conversations among the three of us. We have kept the Presiding Bishop and Bishop Robinson informed about our process along the way. Each side of the conversation has participated in good faith throughout.

We began the conversation by sharing several hopes which were developed in consultation with +Gene. Those hopes are:

1. That +Gene have the opportunity to pray with other bishops at Lambeth.

2. That +Gene have time with and access to other bishops from around the Anglican Communion in order to build relationships.

3. That +Gene have a voice at the table regarding the Listening Process and the discussions on human sexuality.

Early on, our colleagues from "across the pond" expressed the understanding that the Archbishop of Canterbury intends to respect the Windsor Report's recommendation with respect to "exercising extreme caution" regarding +Gene's participation in the Councils of the Church. Throughout our conversation they referenced the "optics" involved in all of this, meaning the inter-communion perceptions and perspectives attached to +Gene's participation.

After exploring various categories of participation (i.e. observer, guest, etc.) the three of us felt that the least derogatory, apart from a full invitation, was a consulting role. With that in mind, as well as the hopes earlier expressed, we offered a proposal that included:

1. An invitation to attend the Retreat and worship.

2. An invitation to attend/observe any plenary sessions.

3. An invitation to offer a workshop on several days as one of the self select groups, focused on listening to the voices of gay and lesbian persons.

4. An invitation to participate in some way in the July 31st Indaba groups when the theme is human sexuality.

In response we heard:

1. A restatement that full invitation is not possible.

2. The Retreat session is a closed session at Canterbury Cathedral (i.e. no media, no ecumenical guests) and it would present the Archbishop of Canterbury with a problem for +Gene to attend something so intimate. The same would be true of the Bible Study/Indaba groups.

3. There is really no concept of "observer" built into the conference structure.

The following proposal for limited participation was then offered and we agreed to bring this to +Gene:

1. That if +Gene still wishes to be present throughout the conference that the location best suited for that is the Marketplace where he could be hosted by one of the groups.

2. That +Gene participate in a "high profile" event (yet to be determined) on July 31st (Listening Process day) - something like an interview with a major media interviewer from England.

After consultation with +Gene he respectfully declined the offer, believing that it does not rise to the level of a meaningful and substantial invitation. In declining this invitation +Gene was clear that he is available to serve as a resource to the Lambeth Conference and plans to be available to any variety of groups who are interested in pursuing conversations that would include him. In a moment +Gene will speak more about this and his own thoughts about the nature of his presence in England during the Lambeth Conference.

With this report, we think our assignment is complete and we are grateful for the confidence expressed in us by the Presiding Bishop, Bishop Robinson and the members of the House of Bishops, who we know have been holding us and our conversations in your thoughts and prayers. We hope we have served the House faithfully in this matter and request now to be discharged.

Faithfully submitted,

Ed, Bruce and Tom


Daily Report from the House of Bishops, March 11

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

- The bishops began their day with Morning Prayer and small group Bible study.

- Bishop Jim Curry of Connecticut, convener of Bishops Working for a Just World, spoke about the group which is a coalition of active and retired bishops gathered to support each other and other members of HOB to claim a public voice, leadership and advocacy for the church and the world. The Bishops meet for training, legislative processes, and trying to demystify the process. They work with the church's Office of Government Relations. A "go to" group when legislation is at a critical point such as issues on the Farm Bill.

Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana advocated contacting legislators. "They may not like to hear from us, but if we don't, someone else will do it for us. It is not unexpected or unwelcome."

The bishops were briefed by the staff of the church's Office of Government Relations (OGR) on the MDGs, the Farm Bill and the Jubilee Act for Debt Consolidation. OGR's Maureen Shea announced there are approximately 22,000 members of the Episcopal Policy Network. She presented questions for small group discussion: What are the public policy issues (local, national, and international) most important in your diocese? What obstacles do you face in being involved with public policy issues? What could the Office of Government Relations do to help you get past those obstacles?

John Johnson of OGR spoke of healthcare, and the millions who are uninsured "and don't know it." Healthcare could be an important issue in the next Congress, and for the HOB - what does the HOB want to say about healthcare?

John also reported that the climate change legislation - the Warner Lieberman Bill -- is moving in the House "for the first time, ever." A key benchmark in order to avoid the most catastrophic changes, he said, is that "our nation and other nations have to reduce carbon emissions 15-20 % by the year 2020." The bill, he added, is headed for debate and "we endorse."

- The bishops gathered for Eucharist at 11:45 am.

- Following lunch, the bishops heard a presentation on "Title IV: Of Accountability and Ecclesiastical Discipline: An Overview of Disciplinary Structures and Proceedings," presented by members of the Title IV Task Force: Steve Hutchinson, Duncan Bayne and Bishop Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina. They outlined the process and a theology for keeping the church safe.

The presenters stressed this plan was not final; rather they were seeking comments from the bishops on the draft.

- Linda Watt, Chief Executive Officer of the Church Center, presented an overview of the reorganization of the Church Center.

- Bishop Bruce Caldwell of Wyoming addressed Theological Education, calling the current times an opportunity. He said the Presiding Bishop appointed a steering committee to serve HOB in this area and to dialog with seminaries. Serving on the committee with Bruce Caldwell are Bishops: Neil Alexander of Atlanta, David Alvarez of Puerto Rico, Tom Briedenthal of Southern Ohio, Joseph Burnett of Nebraska, Tom Ely of Vermont, Bill Gregg of North Carolina, Todd Ousley of Eastern Michigan, John Rabb of Maryland, Carolyn Irish of Utah, Bud Shand of Easton, Pierre Whalon of Europe. The bishops' input was invited to be shared later with seminary leaders.

- A comprehensive update on the Healthcare Coverage Feasibility Study was presented by members of the Church Pension Group: the Rev. Canon Pat Coller, Jim Morrison and Tom Vanover.

- Bishop Gary Lillibridge of West Texas reported on the Windsor Continuation Group, formed after the Advent Letter of the Archbishop of Canterbury. He and six members from other provinces of the Anglican Communion met for the first time last week in London. They will meet two more times prior to The Lambeth Conference. He said that one of the challenges is the status of the Windsor Report which is "understood differently in other parts of the Anglican Communion." The committee will consult with as many as possible.

- Following Evening Prayer and dinner, the bishops will participate in a conversation about The Lambeth Conference.
_________________

The 2008 Spring Retreat of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is being held from Friday, March 7 to Wednesday, March 12 at Camp Allen, in Texas.

Media briefers for Tuesday, March 11, 2008
- The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles
- The Rt. Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr., Bishop of Michigan

Update: The ELO link to this report is now available.

Schofield deposed

Updated

ENS reports:

The House of Bishops voted March 12 to consent to the deposition from the ordained ministry of the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, and the Rt. Rev. William Jackson Cox, bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Maryland, resigned.

Members of the House of Bishops are preparing a statement regarding these actions and for release after a March 12 afternoon session.

The process used to work through these resolutions took into account the importance of prayer and careful reflection before each vote was taken.

Specifically, in both cases the House was first led in prayer by a chaplain, followed by small-group discussion, and then plenary discussion. After this, voting commenced. Each vote was cast clearly in the majority, with some nay votes, and some abstentions.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori asked the bishops assembled "to continue to reach out" in pastoral care to both Schofield and Cox.

"Abandoning the Communion of this Church does not meet we abandon a person as a member of the Body of Christ," Jefferts Schori said.

Full texts of the resolutions follow. Each resolution was considered and voted upon separately. The resolution pertaining to Schofield was acted upon first.

RESOLUTION

RESOLVED, that pursuant to Canon IV.9.2 of the Episcopal Church, the House of Bishops hereby consents to the Deposition from the ordained ministry of the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin.

EXPLANATION: On January 9, 2008, the Title IV Review Committee certified to the Presiding Bishop, pursuant to Canon IV.9.1, that the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, has repudiated the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church and has abandoned the Communion of the Church by, inter alia, departing from the Episcopal Church and purporting to take his Diocese with him into affiliation with the Province of the Southern Cone. In the intervening two months since the Presiding Bishop gave notice to Bishop Schofield of the foregoing certification, Bishop Schofield has failed to submit to the Presiding Bishop sufficient retraction or denial of the actions found by the Title IV Review Committee. Accordingly, the Presiding Bishop has presented the matter to the House of Bishops and requested consent to Bishop Schofield's Deposition.

RESOLUTION

RESOLVED, that pursuant to Canon IV.9.2 of the Episcopal Church, the House of Bishops hereby consents to the Deposition from the ordained ministry of the Rt. Rev. William Jackson Cox, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Maryland, resigned.

EXPLANATION: On May 29, 2007, the Title IV Review Committee certified to the Presiding Bishop, pursuant to Canon IV.9.1, that the Rt. Rev. William Jackson Cox, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Maryland, resigned, has repudiated the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church and has abandoned the Communion of the Church by, inter alia, departing from the Episcopal Church and stating his intention to continue to perform episcopal acts solely under the oversight and jurisdiction of a bishop outside the Episcopal Church without conforming to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. In the intervening two months since the Presiding Bishop gave notice to Bishop Cox of the foregoing certification, Bishop Cox has failed to submit to the Presiding Bishop sufficient retraction or denial of the actions found by the Title IV Review Committee. Accordingly, the Presiding Bishop has presented the matter to the House of Bishops and requested consent to Bishop Cox's Deposition.
_____

A link to the ENS article is now available.

Monday afternoon update

A press release for Schofield is available here. “I am still an active Anglican bishop, and I continue to be the bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin,” Schofield said.

The Anglican Communion Network reacts, asserting "there is no question that both Bishop Cox and Bishop Schofield remain bishops in the Anglican Communion and will continue in ministry."

The House of Bishop's Statement:

Calling on the reconciling love of our Lord Jesus Christ and mindful of our call to be servants of one another and of the mission and ministry of the whole church, we have taken the action of consenting to the deposition of our two brother bishops, John-David Schofield and William Cox. This outcome was is the painful culmination of a lengthy process of conciliation and review led by two Presiding Bishops. While earnest voices were raised asking if there were other alternatives at this time, the conclusion of the House of Bishops is that this action is based on the facts presented to us and is necessary for the ongoing integrity of The Episcopal Church. We seek also to respond to the needs of the people of the Diocese of San Joaquin. We are saddened by what we believe to be this necessary action and we have taken it only after deep prayer and serious conversation. We also wish to express our continuing commitment to work for reconciliation with our brothers and the People of God who have been the recipients of their pastoral leadership and care through the years.

Afternoon actions of the House of Bishops

Updated

Episcopal News Service reports on several actions taken by the House of Bishops in its Wednesday afternoon business session:

House of Bishops statement on the Lambeth Conference
House of Bishops resolution on 'waterboarding'

These actions are in addition to the depositions of John-David Schofield and William Cox, and the bishops' statement about them reported here.

Updated Wednesday evening

Rebuilding a strong and vital Episcopal Church in California's Central Valley

The Presiding Bishop, during a telephone press conference after the conclusion of the March 7-12 Camp Allen meeting in Navasota, Texas, said she will personally convene the special convention in San Joaquin.

Secular media file reports on the actions of the House of Bishops

Updated as reports are filed

Episcopal Church Ousts Fresno Bishop - AP
Breakaway Episcopal Bishop Defrocked - AP (newer, longer story)

Episcopal Church ousts San Joaquin bishop in fight over homesexuality - San Jose Mercury News

Leaders of Episcopal Church oust California bishop - Dallas Morning News

US Episcopal church deposes two dissident bishops - Reuters

Episcopal Church throws out Fresno bishop - Modesto Bee

Episcopal Church leaders out Fresno bishop in fight over Bible - San Diego Union Tribune

Episcopal Church Leaders Want Schofield Out! - CBS 47 (video of Schofield)

Episcopal Church Votes to Oust Bishop Who Seceded - New York Times

Jerry Lamb to be Provisional Bishop of San Joaquin

Episcopal Life is reporting that Bishop Jerry A. Lamb, retired bishop of Northern California and most recently interim bishop of Nevada, has been recommended by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to serve as provisional bishop of the Central California Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. Lamb can begin work in this capacity after ratification by the diocese's convention, set to meet March 29 in Lodi, California.

Lamb is prepared to visit the San Joaquin diocese in mid-March, and to attend the March 29 convention.

Looking ahead to the possibility of his service in San Joaquin, Lamb told ENS that he sees his role as bringing "support for the leadership already there, offering direction, and helping to renew those in the area who remain part of the Episcopal Church.

"I'm really excited and very much humbled by the opportunity of being with that group of folks who are seeking a way to remain faithful to the Episcopal Church, and working to continue the life of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin."

Lamb said this work represents "a wonderful opportunity to rebuild, though I am so sorry it's come about in the way it has."

Lamb said he looks forward to working closely with the steering committee appointed for the diocese by the Presiding Bishop, and with local groups including Remain Episcopal and new faith communities.

Read it all here. The presiding bishop will open the March 29th convention.

If you only have time for one report on San Joaquin...

...Rebecca Trounson's article in The Los Angeles Times is probably the one to read. She notes that while an overwhelming majority of delegates to San Joaquin's convention in December approved the break with the Episcopal Church, at least 2,300 of an estimated 8,800 parishioners in the diocese have chosen to remain with the national church.

The Stockton Record provides some coverage of actual members of the diocese, as does the Associated Press.

No one seems to have contacted Lambeth Palace about the status of former bishop John-David Schofield's invitation to the Lambeth Conference yet.

Bishops report

Two bishops have posted their reflections on the House of Bishops most recent meeting in Texas. Bishop Chris Epting writes of the reaction of the House to the news that Bishop Gene Robinson would not be invited to attend the Lambeth Conference. Bishop Kirk Smith writes additionally of the action to depose two other bishops during the meeting.

Bishop Epting's report which speaks of the controversy regarding Robinson's invitation also includes his reflections on the Covenant process in the Anglican Communion:

"The most painful session was learning that our brother Gene Robinson’s (and our) request for him to be included in the Lambeth Conference in some official way has been rejected by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Even his request simply to pray with his brother and sister bishops during the retreat and during Bible studies. Unbelievable! We will surely make a statement expressing our dismay and sadness at this decision. And we will find ways to stay connected with him during the Conference.

Heard reports on theological education, a proposed new medical insurance program, reorganization at the Church Center, and work on the Title IV disciplinary canons for clergy.  Last night we spent some time discussing the new draft of a ‘Proposed Anglican Covenant.’

There are the usual concerns about the constitutional and legal implications of signing on to an international set of ‘canons’ which might jeopardize our ability to say legitimately that we are ‘autonomous’ (make our own laws/canons). And concerns about ‘power to the Primates’ on doctrinal and other issues. Concerns about too much emphasis on ‘Church of England formularies’ (i.e. 1662 Prayer Book, 39 Articles, their Ordinal) rather than referring more broadly to ‘Anglican formularies.’

Personally, I think we can deal with all those matters. Draft 2 is clearly moving in the right direction. We are to work with it more at Lambeth, the writing team will then prepare a 3rd Draft which will go to the Anglican Consultative Council. If they reject it, it will go back for more work. If they accept it, we will begin the process of having it voted on in the 38 Provinces.

I think there is time for us to improve the document still further. It is clear to me that some kind of Anglican Covenant will be put forth and ultimately signed. The only question is…will we be part of it?"

Read the rest of Bishop Epting's post here.

Bishop Smith also highlights the emotional reactions to the news that Bishop Robinson would not be invited. Smith goes on to speak about the votes to depose Bishops John David Schofield and William Cox:

The other sad moment in our time together came when we took action to depose two bishops of the church who had violated their ordination vows by working to take parishes out of the Episcopal Church, Bishop John-David Scofield of San Joaquin, and Bishop William Cox, retired Suffragan of Maryland. This action was taken after long moments of prayer and silence reflection on the floor of the house. All of us wished to be as charitable and forgiving as possible, but the fact remains that both bishops have worked for many years to separate themselves from our church and in doing so have cause great harm to their dioceses. We consider our action to be a recognition of an existing situation, and not a punitive action.

Many of the presentations we heard focused, appropriately enough, on reconciliation and on our need to go to the Lambeth conference in as open, humble, and cooperative way as possible. We spent an entire learning about “faith-based reconciliation” and how it has been successfully practiced in our own church in around the world. We also renewed our commitment to anti-racism training.

As always, there were a number of practical items. We can expect, for example, some changes in our clergy medical insurance program that should result in considerable savings. We also received some training in dealing with media which will come in handy when we are interviewed by reporters this summer.

You can read Bishop Smith's full reflection here.

UPDATE: Bishop Tom Breidenthal and Bishop Ken Price of the Diocese of Southern Ohio have their reflections posted here.

Questions raised about deposition vote earlier this week

Update: The presiding bishop's chancellor responds here.
_____

There is a report that the House of Bishops may have acted in violation of the Episcopal Church canons when announcing the result of their vote to depose Bishops Schofield and Cox. The concerns focus on whether or not there was a quorum of eligible bishops present needed to take such action, and on whether or not the canonical procedure was followed in Bishop Cox's case.

According to an article on the website of the Living Church:

"Slightly more than one-third of all bishops eligible voted to depose  bishops John-David Schofield and William J. Cox during the House of Bishops’ spring retreat, far fewer than the 51 percent required by the canons.

The exact number is impossible to know, because both resolutions were approved by voice vote. Only 131 bishops registered for the meeting March 7-12 at Camp Allen, and at least 15 of them left before the business session began on Wednesday. There were 294 members of the House of Bishops entitled to vote on March 12.
 
[...]Both bishops were charged with abandonment of communion. The procedure for deposing a bishop under this charge is specified in Title IV, canon 9, sections 1-2. The canon stipulates that the vote requires ‘a majority of the whole number of bishops entitled to vote,’ not merely a majority of those present. At least a dozen bishops voted either not to depose Bishop Schofield or to abstain, according to several bishops. The number voting in favor of deposing Bishop Cox was reportedly slightly larger than the number in favor of deposing Bishop Schofield.

Later in the report it is asserted that the Presiding Bishop has not properly sought the consent of the three senior bishops of the House before proceeding with the action against Bishop Cox:

Bishop Jefferts Schori clarified and extended her remarks, saying she had been ‘unable to get the consent of the three senior bishops last spring. That’s why we didn’t bring it to the September meeting’ of the House of Bishops. One of the three senior bishops with jurisdiction confirmed to The Living Church that his consent to inhibit Bishop Cox was never sought.

The canon that seems to be operative in the question of determining a quorum would be Article I.1.2

Sec. 2. Each Bishop of this Church having jurisdiction, every Bishop Coadjutor, every Suffragan Bishop, every Assistant Bishop, and every Bishop who by reason of advanced age or bodily infirmity, or who, under an election to an office created by the General Convention, or for reasons of mission strategy determined by action of the General Convention or the House of Bishops, has resigned a jurisdiction, shall have a seat and a vote in the House of Bishops. A majority of all Bishops entitled to vote, exclusive of Bishops who have resigned their jurisdiction or positions, shall be necessary to constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

The issue would appear to center on the question of the status of retired bishops, most of whom "resign" their jurisdiction with consent of their house before they retire or, mandatorily, by the age of 72 according to Article II, section 9.

Read the rest here.

Outspoken religious leader dies

ENS reports:

Robert Rae Spears Jr., 89, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester from 1970 to 1984, died March 18.

"Bishop Spears made the diocese a healthy and vibrant place, though somewhat divided because of his determination to stand for justice and on the side of those who need advocacy," the current Bishop of Rochester, Jack McKelvey, said....

More:

He ... participated in a group led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and others in a non-violent protest for voting rights in Selma, Alabama.

Spears also worked on behalf of the Visitors’ Center at the state prison in Attica, New York, his home town. He was active in the anti-war movement during the Viet Nam war and led a delegation from Rochester to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to stand in solidarity with Jesuit poet and peace activist the Rev. Daniel Berrigan.
...
Given his passion for issues of human rights and freedoms, the Diocese of Rochester found itself at the forefront of the efforts for the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church....Spears was a strong advocate for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church....Spears' commitment to ecumenical endeavors produced a covenant between the Rochester Roman Catholic Diocese and the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester in the early 1980s.

Read it all here.

The world also lost lay Catholic movement leader Chiara Lubich recently. She founded Focolare. According to Christianity Today,

At the age of 23, she said she experienced a religious awakening and felt a call to alleviate human suffering.

She went on to found one of Catholicism's so-called "new lay movements", centred around the belief that one did not have to become a priest or nun to live a full Christian life.

She won numerous awards, including the Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion and the Unesco peace prize.

Lubich, who was influential with, and admired by, several popes, was born in the northern Italian city of Trento in 1920 and founded the movement there in 1943.

She promoted the philosophy that the Church could be built from the grass roots and not just be centred around the hierarchy.


Ronald H. Haines, 7th bishop of Washington, dies at 73

Ronald H. Haines, the seventh Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, died on Good Friday, March 21, at his home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania according to Episcopal Life Online.

Haines, 73, was the bishop of Washington from 1990 until he retired in 2000. Prior to becoming the diocesan bishop, he was elected suffragan bishop in 1986 and served in that role until the sudden death of Bishop John Walker. He was elected diocesan bishop in July 1990.

He was a tireless advocate for the ordination of women priests and defender of gender equality in the church. Regarding racism as one of the greatest sins of modern America, he confronted it with passion. He listened as a pastor to those who disagreed with him, believing that people of good will and shared faith may differ but remain in communion with each other.

Read it all here.

Episcopal Diocese of Washington (DC) article is here.

UPDATE: 11 a.m. ET, 3/26
Obituaries and news stories

The Washington Post

Bishop Haines ordained the Rev. Elizabeth L. Carl, an open lesbian who was pastor at Church of the Epiphany in Washington. The move sparked a period of protests and internal examination, and the matter still has not been fully resolved within the church.
...
"The ordination of one whose life style involves sexual relations outside of marriage troubles me greatly," Bishop Haines said in a statement at the time. But he determined that Carl's character and priestly commitment, as well as the support of her congregation, outweighed the voices of opposition.

"He listened to both sides, always, and he didn't turn away from anyone," the Rev. Erica Brown Wood, who was ordained by Bishop Haines, said yesterday. "He did all of that with a great deal of courage and strength. He was deeply, deeply appreciated for his sense of inclusion."

According to a 1992 article in The Washington Post, one of the bishop's most vocal critics was his wife, Mary, an antiabortion activist who was vice president of the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life. She even favored her husband's censure, which he narrowly avoided, at a national gathering of bishops.
...
Bishop Haines told The Post that his mind had been opened by the diverse backgrounds of church members in the 42,000-strong Washington diocese and by his experience in raising a gay son.

"I saw the pain and the anguish that comes with secret-keeping," he said.

Delaware News Journal
He was well known as a friend and mentor of many area lay and ordained leaders of the church. In his retirement, the Bishop also became an avid runner, participating in many local races and half-marathons as well as a biker who traveled throughout the roads of Lancaster County and the South of France.

The Living Church
Bishop Haines is survived by his wife, who has been in residential Alzheimer’s care for several years, as well as six children: Jennifer Haines Tozier of Advance, Pa., Alicia Haines Pearson and Ronald Gregory Haines, both of Tacoma, Wash., Thomas Jeffrey Haines of Kittery Point, Maine, Jonathan Andrew Haines of Portland, Ore., and Peter Joshua Haines of Rockville, Md.; 16 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Is Bishop Wright a ranter?

Café contributor Adrian Worsfold, known online as Pluralist wonders whether Bishop N. T. Wright actually deserves his reputation as a scholar.

It isn't necessary to embrace Worsfold's entire critique to believe that the bishop is so frequently lauded for his Biblical scholarship, that it obscures the hackneyed anti-modernism that mars much of his political and social commentary. Nor to lament the fact that if the Anglican Communion succeeds in institutionalizing its homophobia, via the proposed Covenant, Wright will have been among the primary archtects of this structural sin.

The bishop beings a book tour of the United States in late April, and one wonders whether those who attend his appearances will ask him why he has worked so hard to exclude gay and lesbian Christians from the sacraments of the Church. One also wonders whether Episcopal churches will continue to sponsor events to benefit a man who has worked so hard to disenfranchise them in the councils of the Anglican Communion.

EDS honors Bishop Chane, UN observer and former NBA star

Episcopal Divinity School announces its 2008 Commencement Ceremony on May 15, 2008 at the First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, at 2:00 pm. EDS will present honorary doctor of divinity degrees to five individuals for their social justice work: The Rt. Rev. John Chane, Kevin Johnson, Cynthia Shattuck, Katie Sherrod, and Hellen Wangusa. The Commencement address will be delivered by Hellen Wangusa, Anglican Observer to the United Nations.

“The honorary degrees committee spends a great deal of time crafting a ‘class’ of honorary degree recipients each year that reflect the values of the school: justice, compassion, and reconciliation,” said The Rev. Dr. Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook, Academic Dean. “We look not only to the church, and lay and ordained people who work for the church as candidates, but each year hope to also honor people who consistently ‘give back’ to their communities, as well as young and unsung advocates for justice. This year, each of the people we are honoring, in a number of ways, represents excellence in their fields and ministries of justice and peace locally as well as throughout the world.”

The Rt. Rev. John Chane, Bishop of Washington, is a peace maker who has traveled twice to Iran at the invitation of President Khatami, and has invited the Iranian leader to speak at the National Cathedral. He was recently appointed to serve on a Global Anglican Task Force investigating human rights violations in the Kingdom of Swaziland, Africa. Prior to attending Seminary, Bishop Chane worked as an urban community organizer in Boston’s South End, and Roxbury.

To read the entire release, click Read more.

Read more »

Prophecy gone missing

Yesterday, The Lead reported that Bishop Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh had received a prophecy from The Rev. Mark Stibbe, Rector of St. Andrew's, Chorleywood, in the Diocese of St. Alban's, England. Today it seems the issue of Trinity Magazine containing Bishop Duncan's comments and the prophecy have been pulled from the Diocesan web site.

The prophecy and Bishop Duncans's repsonse generated a great number of responses on church listserves and blogs.

A video of Mark Stibbe (Evangelicals in the UK do not use Father as a title) is here.

A biography is here.

Andrew Gerns writes on the prophecy here.

Mark Harris comments here.

UPDATE: April 8
Prophecy mystery solved - the issue of Trinity has returned - it seems it was a techno error. See issue here.

HT to Lionel Deimel,

Bishop Robinson on NPR today

Bishop Gene Robinson is interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air program today. The interview discusses the events of his life and ministry since his election as Bishop of New Hampshire and the effects the events have had on him and his family.

From the NPR website:

"It's been four years since Gene Robinson was consecrated bishop of the Episcopal diocese of New Hampshire. He's faced challenges and controversies as that denomination's first openly gay bishop — and he's written about them in a new memoir, In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God.

Formerly married, with two daughters and granddaughters, Robinson came out publicly in the 1980s, and has been in a relationship with his partner, Mark Andrew, for two decades. He remains close to his ex-wife and his family, many of whom attended his consecration. But his openness, together with other issues surrounding gay people of faith, have caused controversy within the church, with conservative Anglicans threatening to leave the denomination."

Read the rest here.

Audio of the interview will be available at the link above after 3:00 PM Eastern time today.

Governments called to do more to achieve MDGs by 2015

The Rt. Rev. Njongo Ndungane, retired Archbishop of South Africa is calling for all governments to scale up their efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. The MDGs have 8 goals for eradicating extreme poverty, improving health, providing education, supporting environmental sustainability, and attaining gender equality. From a press release from Africa Monitor today:

Archbishop Njongo Ndungane, Founder and President of African Monitor, today called on parliamentarians from the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) member states to gear up in order to ensure that Africa and other developing countries also meet the MDGs by 2015. He was addressing the parliamentarians at the UNICEF’s Countdown to 2015 Conference in Cape Town.

The Archbishop called on the governments to do more in order to ensure that the MDGs are achieved by 2015, particularly in the areas of maternal health and child mortality, which affect the most vulnerable segment of human beings.

“The Millennium Development Goals are the most important and comprehensive promises that our governments have made for tackling the scourge of poverty”, he said.

Archbishop Ndungane said that continental bodies, like the African Monitor, will always monitor development programming by both governments and donors and advocate for pro-poor and result-oriented development programmes that listened to and acted on the voices of poor people.

He emphasized the need to hold public officials who made public promises accountable and said that public pronouncements by duty bearers should be less about public relations and more about true actionable undertakings that translated to the improvement of the situation of the poor, particularly women and children.

More information is here.

The Episcopal Church MDG campaign is here.

A network of Episcopalians committed to this work is here.

A list of the Millennium Development Goals follows:

Read more »

Bishop Gene Robinson's summer

Questions are being raised about the timing of Bishop Gene Robinson's scheduled civil union ceremony this coming June. There are voices that feel that Bishop Robinson intentionally timed the event so as to overshadow the Lambeth Conference that will be held later this summer. Bishop Robinson denies that intention.

The New York Times' Laurie Goodstein reports today:

"He planned his civil union for June, he said, because he wanted to provide some legal protection to his partner and his children before he left for England for the conference. Bishop Robinson has received death threats, and he wore a bulletproof vest under his vestments at his consecration in 2003.

‘We could have, I suppose, just gone to the town clerk and had that signed,’ he said, ‘but, you know, I’m a religious person, and every major event in my life has been marked with some kind of liturgy and giving thanks to God.’

Bishop Robinson will not be attending the Lambeth Conference’s official sessions with his more than 800 fellow bishops. He was excluded from participating by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who, as leader of the Church of England, is responsible for issuing the invitations."


There is one correction to the article as written (according to our sources here at the Lead).

The statement

"Bishop Robinson initially rejected, but has now accepted, the idea that he will spend the conference days in the Marketplace, an adjunct bazaar where church advocacy groups and purveyors of Christian merchandise promote their causes and wares."

is not quite accurate. According to our source, Bishop Robinson rejected Lambeth's offer of a stall in the marketplace and one major press interview as the form of his "invitation" to attend Lambeth. He doesn't reject appearing and being available in the marketplace to meet with people, it's the characterization of that access in the public arena as a form of "invitation" that is not acceptable to him.

Read the rest here.

Archbishop Venables interviewed

Archbishop Gregory Venables responded to questions while in Canada. He was there visiting Anglicans who insist that they have broken away from the Anglican Church in Canada and become associated with the Province of the Southern Cone where Venables is the primate.

In the interview Venables discusses the situation in the Anglican Communion, how the Church should respond to gay and lesbian christians, and his opposition to "post-modern" interpretations of the Bible.

From the article:

"'I tell people in Canada not to get filled up with bitterness about the homosexual issue, to just try to allow Christ's love and generosity to come through,' says Gregory Venables, who was elected primate (senior archbishop) of the Southern Cone in 2001.

'There's all this silly acrimony. It's like a ping-pong game. But instead of throwing sweets around, we're throwing hand grenades,' Venables said in an interview Thursday in a large home in the Oakridge neighbourhood of Vancouver, where a local Anglican has provided the prelate and his wife a place to sleep.

Even though the British-born leader of roughly 30,000 Anglicans in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay is firmly opposed to homosexual relationships, as well as to 'post-modern' interpretations of the Bible, he still insists liberal and conservative Anglicans in North America shouldn't be so nasty to each other.

At the same time, Venables said he felt free to ignore a high-level plea to stay out of Canada made this week by the spiritual leader of the country's roughly 700,000 Anglicans, Primate Fred Hiltz, because he believes jurisdictional disputes are secondary to doctrinal issues."

Read the rest here.

Williams won't allow Robinson to function as priest in England

Citing fears of creating a controversy, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury has refused to grant Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the right to preach or preside at the eucharist in England. Robinson received the news in an email yesterday morning.

Sources familiar with the email say Williams cites the Windsor Report and recent statements from the Primates Meeting in refusing to grant Robinson permission to exercise his priestly functions during his current trip to England, or during the trip he plans during the Lambeth Conference in July and August.

The Windsor Report does not discuss the ordination of a candidate in a gay relationship to the priesthood, and it is priestly, rather than episcopal functions that Robinson had sought permission to perform. The primates' statements, similarly, have objected to Robinson's episcopacy, not his priesthood.

Several provinces in the Communion ordain gay and lesbian candidates without requiring a vow of celibacy. It is unclear whether the Church of England forbids these priests from exercising their functions within its jurisdiction as a matter of policy, or whether Williams' ban extends only to Robinson. Many gay English priests live with their partners, but are expected to remain celibate.

The email, which came to Robinson through a Lambeth official, says Williams believes that giving Robinson permission to preach and preside at the Eucharist would be construed as an acceptance of the ministry of a controversial figure within the Communion.

Williams has not denied permission to preach and preside to Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who gave his support to a failed legislative attempt to limit the rights of Nigerian gays and their supporters to speak, assemble and worship God collectively. Akinola has yet to respond to an Atlantic magazine article which suggests he may have had prior knowledge of plans for retributive violence against Muslims in his country that resulted in the massacre of more than 650 people in Yelwa, Nigeria.

Williams has not denied permission to preach and preside to Bishop Bernard Malango, the retired primate of Central Africa and one of the authors of the Windsor Report. Malango dismissed without reason the ecclesiastical court convened to try pro-Mugabe Bishop Nolbert Kunonga for incitement to murder and other charges.

Williams has not denied permission to preach and preside to Bishop Gregory Venables, primate of the Southern Cone, who has now claimed as his own, churches in three others provinces in the Anglican Communion (Brazil, Canada and the United States). Nor has he denined permission to preach and preside to Archbishops Henry Orombi of Uganda, Emanuel Kolini of Rwanda, or Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, all of whom have ignored the Windsor Report's plea not to claim churches within other provinces of the Communion.

Sources who have read the email say Williams expresses sorrow for the way the ban on Robinson must appear to the bishop and his supporters, but says he is acting for the good of the Church and the Communion.

At Church Times Blog, Dave Walker advances the story in the legal direction:

Questions are being asked as to whether Lambeth Palace has the authority to stop Gene Robinson from preaching if he is invited to do so by the incumbent of a parish. Legal minds have been perusing the Canons of the Church of England and it appears that he would have a strong case for being able to preach if invited.

However, Gene Robinson has ruled out preaching without the permission of the Archbishop. From the Hardtalk [TV] interview (only available for a week) on the BBC [Robinson said]: "In the past he has... declined to give me permission to preach and to celebrate the Holy Communion and I would never do so without his permission."

Read Walker's post here.

Earlier in the day Bishop Robinson had said on BBC Radio that God was "very disappointed" in Williams for his failure to confront Akinola over his treatment of gays. Read here. Listen here.

Iker: Steering committee is "a self-selected vigilante group"

As reported in The Lead on Monday, a steering committee has been formed for Episcopalians in the Diocese of Fort Worth who wish to remain in the Episcopal Church should the Diocesan Convention and the Bishop of Fort Worth succeed in passing resolutions that attempt to join that diocese with another province of the Anglican Communion. And then on Tuesday we reported on the Presiding Bishop's letter to Southern Cone Presiding Bishop Venables requesting he not cross boundaries. Now we have reaction from Bishop Iker on both fronts.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports on Bishop Iker's reaction to the steering committee:

Fort Worth Diocese Bishop Jack Iker said in a statement Tuesday that the steering committee is "a self-selected vigilante group whose only stated purpose is 'to remain in The Episcopal Church' no matter what -- and regardless of what TEC believes or practices. They espouse a blind institutional loyalty that borders on institutional idolatry."
..
[Walter Cabe, president of the Steering Committee of North Texas Episcopalians] said that the steering committee is a way for several Episcopal groups to bond and work with the national church to stay intact. He said it should not be categorized as liberal or conservative.

"We want a more tolerant attitude toward one another, a willingness to engage in informal adult conversation and eliminate fear and intimidation," he said.

But Iker in his statement said that the diocese's main purpose is to be faithful to biblical teaching and that the annual diocese convention, composed of elected lay and clergy leaders from every diocese congregation, is the only body that can act on behalf of the diocese.

Read the Star-Telegram story here.

Thanks to Katie Sherrod for the pointer. She writes:

This is indeed a strange place when Episcopalians are called vigilantes for seeking to keep an Episcopal diocese in The Episcopal Church, but a bishop who invites the primate of another province to come persuade our convention delegates to "move" to his province is called "Windsor compliant."

It's also sad that while Bp. Iker insists that those who oppose him do not vilify him, he is free to call members of his diocese idolaters and vigilantes.

Vigilante is an interesting word. It is Spanish for "watchman" or "watcher." It came into the English language through the Southwestern United States, where many Spanish words are used daily. The term has gotten a bad rap because some vigilante groups in our history have resorted to violence when those in positions of power failed to deliver the justice they thought was needed.

But mostly those in power don't like vigilante groups because they are "watchers." People who are walking on a thin line of legality particularly do not like "watchers." I think it is a very interesting choice of words by Bishop Iker.

And then there's "meddling." Bishop Iker on the objections of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to the upcoming visit of Presiding Bishop Venables (Southern Cone) to the Fort Worth:
Archbishop Venables is coming to the Diocese at my invitation and as an honored guest, which hardly makes it “an unwarranted invasion.” The only meddling going on here is on Katharine’s part. And who is she to accuse someone else of uncanonical actions?

+JLI

Isn't it remarkable that this is the first comment there? Who knew Iker was such a faithful follower of the blogs?

Almost in answer:

When the Fort Worth delegation declared that they have been forgotten in this battle, the Presiding Bishop replied, “Have you been watching San Joaquin? They were not forgotten and now show dynamic signs of new life. You will not be forgotten, either.”

Throughout much of the question-and-answer session retired Bishop Sam B. Hulsey of Northwest Texas stood in the back of the parish hall. Last January Bishop Hulsey held an organizational meeting for clergy from the Diocese of Fort Worth, offering continuing care to those who wish to remain with The Episcopal Church, an action to which Bishop Jack Leo Iker of Fort Worth objected.
Expanding on his comment at Stand Firm, Bishop Iker has written a letter to the Presiding Bishop . He's not happy. Bishop Gene Robinson would interested in Iker's argument that it is the diocesan's prerogative to make invitations, not the primate's.

Bishop Robinson's book launch

The Mad Priest presents a report from the UK launch party of Bishop Gene Robinson's new book, In the Eye of the Storm.

Correspondent Mary Clara writes of Robinson:

Looking ahead to the Conference itself, he does plan to be there in the public areas surrounding the meetings and available for conversation. He reported that bishops of The Episcopal Church plan to host two evening events at which other bishops and their spouses will be invited to come and meet him. He emphasized the importance of opportunities of this kind to reach out to the great numbers of people in the broad middle, who do not want to exclude, judge or harm those who are different, but who, perhaps because they haven’t had direct experience of LGBT people living normal lives, are “not yet ready to celebrate us”.

Robinson "trying to walk a fine line"

Bishop Gene Robinson gets another spotlight this week from PBS's Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, talking about his upcoming civil union and his ongoing safety concerns. Civil unions became legal in New Hampshire as of Jan. 1, and for Robinson, this allows him and his longtime partner Mark Andrews to enjoy "some 400 of the protections that out of 1,100 that are accorded to heterosexual couples," as he says in the interview with R&EN's Kim Lawton.

Part of the reason for the June ceremony, he adds, is to ensure security for their relationship prior to his going to England during the Lambeth Conference. But, he says, he's not trying to be in anyone's face about it.

In addition, Robinson says that while he's upset that he has not been invited to the conference, he is now able to be a more vocal advocate for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people "at sessions outside the conference," according to the article. He certainly seems aware that people expect him to act in this capacity, but notes that he has surprises for people on either side of the aisle:

Bishop ROBINSON: I think I go with a greater sense of focus on gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people around the world. I think they are looking to me to represent them and be their voice in some way. I'm sure that's not what the Archbishop of Canterbury was hoping for, and I suspect he would prefer me not to come at all.

LAWTON: U.S. bishops are planning two unofficial meetings where international bishops can meet Robinson.

Bishop ROBINSON: I know there are so many bishops around the world who have never had the opportunity to sit and talk with someone who is both openly gay and Christian.

LAWTON: Robinson says he's discouraged by the divisions and what he sees as a lack of listening across the Communion. But in his new book, IN THE EYE OF THE STORM, he writes of the spiritual lessons he has learned amid the controversy.

Bishop ROBINSON: I don't remember a time in my life when God seemed any more present, almost palpably close. Prayer has almost seemed redundant to me because God has seemed so close during all of this. It will surprise both conservatives and liberals how orthodox I am.

Read the entire transcript -- or even better, watch the video -- here.

New Maine bishop begins "adventure"

There's a nice piece on the newly Right Reverend Stephen Taylor Lane, who was consecrated the ninth bishop of Maine today, in this morning's Bangor Daily News, who caught up with him at a press conference yesterday. He will be bishop coadjutor of the diocese until Bishop Knudsen retires. From the write-up:

Lane said ... that he already has put 2,300 miles on the "bishopmobile" and has been Down East to Machias. He plans to continue his travels this summer as he gets to know the state and its people in a position Lane admitted he was not sure he was ready for a year ago.

"I’ve always felt powerfully called to be a minister of the gospel and to be an agent of transformation in the world," he said. "But I was pretty happy and pretty settled where I was, doing my work until I got challenged [at a retreat]. I made a commitment at that retreat to myself and to God to be open to a new call and very shortly thereafter things came from the diocese of Maine."

Lane was overwhelmingly elected bishop on Oct. 26 at the diocesan convention in Bangor. He began working at the diocesan office in Portland on April 1.

"I think for me the struggle has been being open to hearing the call," he said Friday. "Not having my mind already made up about what I thought I was supposed to be doing, and [because I was] being open, here we are in a wonderful new adventure with wonderful people in a wonderful state."

Lane said that his experience with small congregations — a membership of fewer than 150 — in New York and his administrative skills fit well with what the Maine diocese needs at this time in its history. He said what many small churches need is a change in attitude so that they can look outward and discern what their mission is in the community rather than worrying about what kind of shape the church building is in.

From here.

Bishop Robinson on Today


NBC's summary of the interview is here.

The Bishop's Daughter

Today's New York Times Book Review includes an extended review by Kathryn Harrison of Honor Moore's The Bishop's Daughter. Here are some highlights:

A young man, heir to a fortune so vast he considers it his “cross of gold,” comes home from Guadalcanal a decorated hero, bearing scars from a bullet that just missed his heart. God has saved him, he believes, for a purpose. The vocation he heard at Yale has grown loud enough to drown out the objections of his family. Ordained an Episcopal priest in 1949, he begins his career in a blighted New Jersey parish, eventually climbing to a position so exalted that at his death in 2003 he is remembered as “a prince of the church,” “a saint.”

Already many people, whether or not they’ve read “The Bishop’s Daughter,” know it as the book in which Honor Moore outs her famous father, a man celebrated as a paragon of virtue, a priest whose vestments seemed to set him apart from passions that sully ordinary men. But Paul Moore Jr.’s bisexuality — a fact previously known only to family and a few friends — was an important and decidedly not sublimated aspect of his essential self. There is no way to write a book about him, or about being his daughter, that fails to consider its place in his life and its impact on his family.

. . .

As Moore describes her father, who retired in 1989 as the Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of New York, Paul Moore was always conscious of, and in conflict with, his own sexual nature, considered deviant and sinful during the decades he served his church. He suffered his transgressions with the understanding that his fallen human state offered him the one experience he could share with his God, who had been crucified for man’s sins. Standing nearly 6-foot-5, regarding the world from pulpits that granted him national and sometimes international attention, Bishop Moore was a gifted preacher who projected a palpable sympathy by placing himself among “the sinful brotherhood of mankind, so that his heart vibrated in unison with theirs, and received their pain into itself.”

That description was written not by Honor Moore but by Nathaniel Hawthorne, about another renowned, if fictional, minister whose sexual transgressions remained a hidden source of anguish and spiritual power. It’s unlikely Moore imagined “The Scarlet Letter” as prefiguring her story of her father and the adulterous temptations to which he succumbed. But both books explore the repressive hysteria peculiar to American sexual mores, as well as the split between public and private selves; and Hawthorne’s Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, whose virtue cannot be teased apart from his sins, is a useful model for approaching the complex, flawed and extraordinary Paul Moore. And like “The Scarlet Letter,” whose exultant climax is Dimmesdale’s disclosure of a secret sexual sin, “The Bishop’s Daughter” is an eloquent argument for speaking even the most difficult truths.

. . .

“If only they knew the truth,” Paul Moore said in his daughter’s therapist’s office, “thinking of people who praised his life,” “his body moving in large waves of sobbing.” “It is inconceivable,” Hawthorne wrote of Dimmesdale, “the agony with which this public veneration tortured him!” The remarkable and loving accomplishment of “The Bishop’s Daughter” is that in revealing Paul Moore as he could never disclose himself, in showing him humbled and suffering, Honor Moore does not diminish but enlarges him.

Read it all here. We have previously written about this Book here , here and here.

A conversation in Pittsburgh

The Rev. Dr. Jay Geisler, a member of the group of conservative clergy that declared to the diocese and its bishop that they intend to remain in The Episcopal Church, was invited to be guest speaker at a meeting of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh meeting last week, and his visit occasioned a useful exchange of ideas, writes Lionel Deimel.

Acknowledging that conservatives have sought a place of “safety” within The Episcopal Church, Geisler offered his own solution, at least for the short term. As a mechanism to avoid schism and lessen conflict, he explained that he would like to see the establishment of a non-geographic diocese of conservative parishes within the church, led by a conservative bishop. He admitted that this plan is problematic. He did not say what effect he thought such an innovation would have on Pittsburgh, an interesting question, in retrospect, that no one pursued. He related that Bishop Duncan had discouraged him from advocating his plan because it would, in Duncan’s words, “weaken our position.”

This was an interesting revelation. I do not favor the non-geographic diocese “solution,” but not for the same reason that Duncan opposes it. (I will have more to say about this another time.) Duncan’s opposition, I think, is to any reconciliation or mechanism that gives even the appearance of unity, since such a scheme would ease tensions in the church and blunt his efforts to engineer a schism that ultimately could place him in the position of leader of his own Anglican province in North America.

Read it all.

Bishops' statements on the California decision

Two Episcopal bishops in the state of California have made statements on the same-sex marriage decision by the California Supreme Court.

Marc Andrus (Bishop of California) wrote:

I welcome the ruling of the California Supreme Court affirming the fundamental right of all people to marry and establish a family.

All children of God should be afforded the same rights under the law, and this decision recognizes that all Californians, regardless of sexual orientation, have equal access to one of our fundamental human institutions.

This decision gives our church another opportunity to partner with our state to ensure that all families have the support they need to build relationships that strengthen our communities, state and country.

Jesus tried to free his disciples from a narrow definition of what it means to be his follower. In Matthew 10:42, Jesus says “whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” God affirms the good in the world outside the boundaries of religious creeds and dogmas. In this spirit, we also affirm and rejoice in this decision by the California Supreme Court precisely because we are Christians.

Clearly, this momentous decision will have ecclesial implications for the Episcopal Diocese of California. I intend to be in prayerful consultation with the people of our diocese to see how we can use this decision to strengthen our support of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers, and our witness to God’s inclusive love. The Diocese of California will issue an appropriate statement in due course.

J. Jon Bruno (Bishop of Los Angeles) issued this statement:

Today's Supreme Court decision on same-gender relationships is important because it reflects our baptismal vow to "strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being" and our commitment to justice and mercy for all people.

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has been a leader in working for the rights of all people in the State of California, and that work is honored in today's ruling. The canons of our church, under "Rights of the Laity" (Canon 1:17.5), forbid discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disabilities or age. We affirm equal rights for all.

We will continue to advocate for equality in the future and will do so at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which will meet in Anaheim in 2009.

I celebrate and give thanks for this decision of the court and look forward with joy and excitement to a future of justice and mercy for all people in the State of California and the Episcopal Church.

To paraphrase St. Paul, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, gay nor straight in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Robinson, McKellen to speak at UK premier of For the Bible Tells Me So

There will be a British premiere of the documentary For the Bible Tells Me So, on Monday evening, July 14, at Queen Elizabeth Hall, at the SouthBank Centre for the Arts, in Central London, on the Thames. In addition to the filmmaker, Daniel Karslake, speakers will include Sir Ian McKellen and Bishop Gene Robinson. The evening will be a celebration of the lives and ministries of gay and lesbian people, on the eve of the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in Canterbury. Some of the proceeds will go toward AIDS work in Africa.

Robinson's story is one of several told in the film, which chronicles the lives of Christian parents coming to terms with the realization that one of their children is gay.

Ruth Gledhill is on the story as well.

Robinson to preach at London Church in July

Bishop Gene Robinson will preach at St. Mary's, Putney in London on Sunday July 13 at 6 p.m. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has prohibited Robinson from presiding at the Eucharist, but does not have the canonical authority to prohibit him from preaching, although he attempted to dissuade him from doing so. The invitation was made by the Rev. Giles Fraser.

Previous stories are here.

Under the headings of reconsideration and apology, the Living Church made an important point regarding the issue of Bishop Robinson's right to preach, and we responded in a churlish way.

75 listen to Bishop Duncan

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the Pittsburg Bishop Bob Duncan recently spoke to about 75 persons at a meeting of the Southeastern Wisconsin chapter of the American Anglican Council. The meeting took place "in a Catholic church hall near Nashotah House Episcopal seminary." The Journal Sentinel quotes Duncan:

"What I can tell you about a meeting of the lead [like-minded] bishops was that there was unanimity among us, that all of the efforts that are swelling up from the ground around the country are to be encouraged, and that we actually anticipate that we will be in a situation within 24 to 36 months in which . . . a separate ecclesiastical structure in North America within the Anglican Communion will exist as a united reality. And that I think is very good news."
Emphasis added.

The following message was sent to the office of the Presiding Bishop yesterday:

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is saddened to learn the Presiding Bishop and her chancellor will continue to press for the deposition of our Diocesan Bishop, Robert W. Duncan, Jr. for the Abandonment of Communion at the September 2008 House of Bishops Meeting. Although we recognize the authority of the Episcopal Church to discipline and remove its ministers for violations of its canons, we believe Canon IV.9, Sec.1 has been misapplied and Canon IV.9, Sec.2 has been misinterpreted in this instance.

Should our Diocesan Bishop be validly deposed pursuant to the requirements set forth in the canons, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is prepared to exercise its role as the Ecclesiastical Authority of this diocese.

Unanimously affirmed by the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, May 27, 2008.

Emphasis added. The standing committee appears to be attempting to stake a claim to Ecclesiastical Authority in the event Duncan is deposed, even as it acts in concert with Duncan.

Father Jake has more. Duncan, no doubt, welcomes our attention.

Proper procedures used in depositions

The Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls writes to the House of Bishops that the procedures used for consent to deposition of a Bishop for abandoning the communion of this Church were procedurally correct:

To: House of Bishops
From: Task Force on Property Disputes
Re: Proper Use of Abandonment Procedures for Bishops

Subsequent to our meeting at Camp Allen, some Bishops of The Episcopal Church and some commentators have suggested that we may have failed to follow our own rules for giving consent to the deposition of a Bishop for abandoning the communion of this Church. A careful analysis and examination of the canon law, however, confirms that consent to deposition was procedurally appropriate, as the House’s Parliamentarian ruled and the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor has advised.

This memorandum is intended to provide the Members of the House with necessary legal background and the reasoning supporting that conclusion for the assurance of the Members as to past actions and in advance of their consideration of any additional such actions in the future.

Conclusion

The House of Bishops followed the proper canonical procedure for consenting to the depositions of John-David Schofield and William J. Cox from the Ministry of The Episcopal Church as provided in Canon IV.9 of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church (2006) for the following reasons:

A.The intended meaning of Section 2 of Canon IV.9 of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church (2006) is that the consent of a majority of the Bishops voting at a meeting of the House of Bishops constitutes valid consent for the deposition of a Bishop.

B. Precedent establishes that the House of Bishops acted appropriately in considering and acting upon the Presiding Bishop’s referral to it of the abandonment of communion certified to her by the Review Committee.

C. Procedural safeguards assure fairness and justice in the case of Bishops accused of having abandoned the Communion of this Church.

The letter is available here in pdf.

Nicely done, Bishop Smith

The Anglican Communion has been keen to insure that conservative Episcopalians have "alternate" episcopal options that allow them to minimize contact with liberal bishops. But to date, Rowan Williams, Tom Wright and company have shown no such pastoral sensitivity to liberal church members in conservative dioceses--or, for that matter, to gay Christians in provinces that actively persecute them. Bishop Michael Smith of North Dakota, however, understands that accommodation is a two way street. He writes to his diocese:

June 4, 2008

Dear Friends:

*I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace *(Ephesians 4:1-3).* *

I am pleased to announce that Bishop Carol Gallagher has accepted my invitation to assist in providing episcopal pastoral care in the Diocese of North Dakota. She has agreed to reach out especially to congregations and clergy who feel alienated and hurt by me due to different understandings of human sexuality. I am most grateful for Bishop Gallagher's assistance. .... View her blog at mamabishop.blogspot.com.

We find ourselves in the midst of a discernment process, seeking the mind of Christ, about whether the Holy Spirit is leading us to new understandings of human sexuality or not. As this discernment continues through the canonical processes of The Episcopal Church and the conciliar processes of the Anglican Communion, I urge patience, kindness and respect in our dealings with one another. I also pray our energies will be focused on
engaging the mission of the church as we are sent into the world to serve the poor and to share our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am,

Yours in Christ,

+Michael Smith


Update, Thursday afternoon: The ELO reports.

Trial of a bishop continues

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the opening statements in the Ecclesiastical Trial of the Rt. Rev. Charles Bennison, bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania:

A lawyer for the Episcopal Church told a panel of judges this morning that Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr., leader of the five-county 55,000-member Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, failed to protect an underage girl from the predatory sexual behavior of his brother in the 1970s.

The lawyer, Larry White, told the nine-judge Court for the Trial of a Bishop panel, that Bennison, 64, compounded his wrongful inaction by shirking his responsibility in the matter, as he rose through the church's ranks in later years.

White said that Bennison's brother, John, then a 24-year-old married staffer in their church in Upland, Calif., had groomed a 14-year-old church parishioner as a "sexual target."

Bennison's attorney, James Pabarue, argued that his client had not been trained by the church to handle such matters and followed his own instinct to try to avoid scandal for the victim and the church.


Last October, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori suspended Bennison after the Title IV Review Committee concluded he had "engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy."
The committee's 12-page "presentment," or indictment, asserts that in the mid-1970s, Bennison, then rector of St. Mark's Parish in Upland, Calif., concealed his brother John's sexual abuse of a teenage girl. The abuse allegedly began in 1973 when the girl was 14 and John was the parish youth minister, and lasted nearly five years.

Read more here.

Abuse victim testifies here:

Episcopal Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr.'s church trial on the ground that he long ago concealed his brother's sexual abuse of a teenage girl ended its first day with the victim recounting how she had hoped Bennison would report the abuse to her parents and put an end to it.
"I wanted out," the woman, now 50, told the special Court for the Trial of a Bishop yesterday in Center City. "I wanted someone to help me."

But Bennison, who was then rector of her parish in Upland, Calif., remained silent, she said, adding that there was "no doubt in my mind he knew" that his brother, John Bennison, the church's youth minister, was having sex with her.

She described how twice, when she was 15, Charles Bennison had walked in on them and found them disheveled and breathless, with John Bennison visibly aroused on one occasion.

Both times, she said, Charles Bennison appeared flustered and embarrassed, but "turned around and walked out," and never questioned her about it or told her parents.

Previous articles on Bishop Bennison and sexual abuse can be found on The Lead here, here, here, and here.

Bennison trial - Day 2

UPDATED - (Day 3, 1pm, again 6pm)

Jerry Hames, editor emeritus of Episcopal Life, is attending the trial in Philadelphia for ELO. He reports on the events in court on Tuesday:

Key witnesses for the prosecution testified during the second day of the ecclesiastical trial of Pennsylvania Bishop Charles Bennison that he failed to act responsibly 35 years ago when he was told that his 24-year-old brother, John Bennison, whom he had hired for his parish's youth ministry, was abusing a teenage girl in the youth group.
...
Schoener, who said he has worked with Episcopal groups since the 1980s and has received referrals from the director of the church's Office of Pastoral Development since the ‘90s, said the norm in the 1970s, when the abuse of a teen occurred, was to initiate an investigation.

"That normally involves talking to young people, talking to parents and other adults who might have been around the youth group. You look for red flag behaviors, such as [someone] spending a lot of time alone with the person outside of normal group activities, doing favors for them or giving them gifts," he said. Court was told John Bennison, married and a deacon, picked up the teen in his Porsche most days after school and drove her to the church where sexual relations occurred three or four times a week.

Under cross-examination, Schoener admitted that in the 50s, 60s and early 70s the church's focus and training had not been on the abuse of children, but on adultery. The defense has argued in its cross-examinations that Charles Bennison, then a 31-year-old rector, lacked the training, guidelines and protocol for the situation he faced, but handled it the way he thought was appropriate, avoiding scandal, respecting the girl's privacy and not informing her parents.

However, Schoener said that a person was usually suspended "if there was a high level of suspicion."

The teen, Martha Alexis, now 50, testified June 10 that John Bennison stayed at the church for two months in the summer of 1975 after Charles Bennison, in his sworn deposition, said that he told John to leave. During that time John continued to lead activities of the youth group, without monitors or chaperones present, Martha said.

She said he also continued to have sexual relations with her afternoons and weekends during that time. "Nothing had changed," she said.

"Was it as degrading," asked the prosecutor, referring to her testimony a day earlier. "It was more so," she replied.

Read Hames' article here.

Philadelphia Daily News

"We look at our Lord Jesus as the model for good pastoring . . . he keeps away the wolves," said Bishop David E. Richards, who was in the office of pastoral development at the time of the abuse.

Philadelphia Inquirer

Ann Allen, a former rector's warden at the parish, told the court that she learned of the abuse when Alexis was about 15. ... Allen recalled how one of her teenage sons had told his parents that Alexis was "John's woman."

But when she apprised Charles Bennison that there might be "something going on" between the girl and his brother, Bennison "just kind of shrugged and said, 'That's the way it is,' or, '[That's] the kinds of things that are happening.' "

She said Bennison later told her in a phone conversation: "I appreciate your not telling other people about this because it could negatively affect my career."


The trial continues today. This post will be updated today as news reports warrant.

Update - Wednesday, 1pm. Philadelphia Inquirer:

Testifying for the defense, Bishop Harold Hopkins, former head of the Episcopal Church's Office of Pastoral Development, acknowledged receiving several letters from the victim's mother in 1992 and 1993. Hopkins said he discussed the charges with the then-presiding Bishop of the church, Edmund Browning. He said that in 1993 he also participated in a special intervention that included Bennison's younger brother, John...
...
His acknowledgment of the letters and meetings are important to Bennison's defense strategy. His lawyers are not attempting to defend Bennison's admittedly poor handling of his brother's abuse and his failure to protect the girl. They are seeking instead to establish that there is no valid reason to charge Bennison now when the facts of the case have been known for so long.

Their strategy ran into difficulty, however, when the church's lead attorney, Larry White, acting as prosecutor, asked Hopkins if church leaders had had all the facts of the case years ago.

"No," Hopkins replied.

White then asked if Hopkins would have voted for Bennison to become a bishop if he had known all the facts.

Hopkins replied, "I did not realize the extent to which it appears Bishop Bennison had a number of opportunities to reach out to the young woman... I think his handling and non-handling" of the situation "throws not a good light on his judgment."

Update - Wednesday, 6pm. Philadelphia Inquirer:
Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr. ... took the stand in his church trial Wednesday.
...
He says people wouldn't have seen it at the time as abuse, but would have seen it as what he called "immoral behavior" on the victim's part.

What is poverty?

Archbishop Njongo Ndungane of South Africa writes on the tenth anniversary of the Speak Out On Poverty public hearings.

The question "What is poverty?" would get varied responses according to the gender, race, age, and geographic location of respondents. Woven into the responses a central feature would be that poverty is not only about the lack of financial resources, but more centrally about an absence of opportunities and choices which allow people to build decent lives for themselves and their families. This emerged clearly ten years ago when I was one of the commissioners at the Speak out on Poverty public hearings.

These hearings were convened by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) and the South African NGO Coalition (SANGOCO) between 31 March and 19 June 1998 and held in each of our nine provinces. Over 10 000 people participated and nearly 600 people presented oral evidence over the 35 days of the hearings.

What emerged was the fact that poverty is about an ongoing struggle with starvation, lack of access to shelter, services, income and jobs. In that context, poverty can be described as the violation of the rights to basic resources.

The testimonies also provided sufficient evidence of the innovation and vision of people who survive against all odds. It was clear, however, that resourcefulness is not enough. The main message that emerged from the poor is that they need to be empowered and capacitated in a way that enables them to fend for themselves and reduce reliance on handouts. To achieve this we must analyze how the poor are ‘included’ in the economy and whether the market is in fact sufficiently open for the poor.

Ten years on and evidence suggests that the amount of people living in poverty has increased. This has prompted the various concerned partner organizations to initiate a follow up to the 1998 poverty hearings called the 10th Anniversary Poverty Hearings.

This initiative is intended to serve as much needed feedback on the 1998 hearings. We feel that it is important for us to assess from the poor themselves the actions that have been taken to address their plight, actions that they have taken to improve their lives and their awareness of economic and social rights as enshrined in the Constitution. The hearings will therefore provide a rich opportunity to hear people speak for themselves and present solutions to the challenges they face. The idea is to use people’s own voices to carry the issues to the corridors of power. At the end of the day we wish to see a prioritization of poor people’s issues and a move from talk to action as far as policy formulation and implementation are concerned.

This initiative will also serve as a pilot for similar interventions around the continent. We hope that other organizations and entities will take on the issue of poverty hearings as a tool for advocacy and will use them in various countries to advocate for prioritization of issues that affect the poor.

For more information on the 10th Anniversary Poverty Hearings initiatives, please contact Bridget Katundu of African Monitor, bridget@africanmonitor.org. For input by Archbishop Ndungane, please contact Buhle Makamanzi, buhle@africanmonitor.org

Archbishop Njongo Ndungane is the President and Founder of African Monitor. African Monitor is one of the organizations that are in the process of initiating the 10th Anniversary Poverty Hearings.

Bennison trial - Day 3: Press surprised at open trial

UPDATED: below

The trial of Charles Bennison, suspended bishop of Pennsylvania continued with his testimony and that of his brother's ex-wife. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

Episcopal Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr., on trial within his church for concealing his brother's sexual abuse of a minor, testified yesterday that he learned about the abuse only when the girl was 17 and at the time believed he had "acted appropriately."

"I never thought my conduct was problematic," Bennison, 64, said during direct examination by his attorney.

Bennison was the young rector of St. Mark's Parish in Upland, Calif., in 1973 when his brother John, a parish youth minister, began having sex with a 15-year-old girl, Martha Alexis.

In response to questions from his attorney, James A. Pabarue, Bennison defended his failure in not informing his diocesan superiors about his brother's abuse, telling the girl's parents, or offering her any counseling.

"I was confused," he said, adding that he "didn't want to embarrass or shame" the girl, who was then 17, by telling her parents.

"People would see it as immoral activity, not sex abuse," he said. "I wasn't thinking about her age."

He said he did not ask about his brother's relationship with her or offer her counseling because he thought she would probably deny it - as John Bennison had - and because he did not feel she particularly liked him.


Read more here.

John Bennison's former wife testified:

...that her ex had had affairs with five women - three while he worked at St. Mark's and two after he left in 1975 to work in a Santa Barbara, Calif., church.

Regarding John Bennison's reinstatement to the priesthood:
In 1977, John Bennison renounced the priesthood, but he asked to be reinstated two years later - without the knowledge of his brother and the Alexis family, Bishop Bennison said yesterday.

"I had no idea that you could come back in," said Bennison, whose father was also a bishop.

Wearing the same outfit he had worn all week - a dark jacket over a purple vest and clerical collar - Bennison testified that no one had contacted him about his brother's reinstatement.

Bennison said he had assumed that the bishop of Los Angeles, Robert Rusack, had known about the sexual abuse before Rusack restored his brother.

"I thought we all had sort of moved forward," he said.

Read here.

The press finds it extraordinary that anyone can attend the trial and that it is all being held in public in contrast to other churches and sex abuse. Ronnie Polaneczky of the Philadelphia Daily News writes:

Something extraordinary is going on at the Philadelphia Marriott Hotel: A bishop is being called on the carpet for not alerting church authorities, parents or police that a church youth-group leader at his church was having sex with a teenage member.

More extraordinary still is that the proceedings are public. Anyone can enter the Marriott ballroom and see the robed, nine-member jury of Episcopal leaders presiding over the church trial of Bishop Charles Bennison.

They can wince as the victim, now 50, haltingly describes her childhood abuse as "degrading."

They can hear her abuser's ex-wife describe the horror she felt when she realized her former spouse was actually a sexual abuser, not a philanderer.

They can watch as a distraught Bennison explains why he didn't help the young victim.

No matter what the trial's outcome, its transparency alone makes it historic.

How ironic that it's unfolding in a city where Catholic bishops responsible for covering up past sex abuse in the Philly Archdiocese have yet to be held publicly accountable by name, by their church, for the pain their complicity perpetuated.


Read more here.

Jerry Hames is reporting the story for Episcopal Life. Read his coverage here. He reports Bennison saying:

... he did not seek help elsewhere, either from his bishop or health care professionals. "If it was true, it was yet another affair. I didn't call the bishop [Robert Rusack] about all the affairs. I was fairly intimidated by Bishop Rusack. The attitude was it was your job as a priest to help the bishop, not to take him problems."

Bennison admitted he was also concerned about his own future. "Any disturbance in the parish would reflect poorly on my leadership in the parish at that time."

A letter he wrote in 1979 to Margaret "Maggie" Thompson, John's ex-wife, was introduced in which he asked her not to return to Upland, or St. Mark's Church. He said he sought to "soothe animosities which could cost me my job" and asked her not to call Martha. "Every time you phone Martha all the old wounds are opened. We need to move on," it said.

Bennison said there was a secret in the parish and that he was trying to manage the secret. "Maggie was an irritant," he said.


UPDATE: from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
On the last day of a very unusual trial, Episcopal Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr. continued to defend himself against charges that he concealed his brother's sexual abuse of a minor decades ago, saying today that he acted within the standards of the times.

"As poorly as I handled it," he said, "if I had applied today's protocols then, things might have turned out worse."

Bennison, now 64, was rector of St. Mark's Parish in Upland, Calif., when his brother John, a parish youth minister, started a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old member of the parish.
.....
When a judge asked Bennison whether he had been aware then of statutory rape laws, he said he was "not familiar" with the term in the 1970s and "never heard the word minor" used in connection with sexual misconduct in those days.


Pittsburgh prepares for presentment

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has moved its yearly Diocesan Convention forward by a month so as to be better positioned to respond to the expected action by the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops following the Lambeth Conference.

From the Diocesan website:

"After extensive consultation, and with the consent of the Standing Committee, I am moving the time and place of the 143rd Annual Convention of the Diocese to Saturday, October 4th, 2008, at St. Martin’s Church, Monroeville.

Registration of clerical and lay deputies will be from 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. The Convention Eucharist will begin at 8:30 a.m. The business session of Convention will begin immediately following the Eucharist. Lunch will be served at midday. It is anticipated that all matters required to come before the Annual Convention will be complete during the afternoon, with adjournment at the completion of said business.

The date and place of the Annual Convention having been previously set, I am announcing this change under the provisions of Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution of the Diocese. The expressed threat of deposition of the Diocesan Bishop at a September meeting of the House of Bishops is the ‘sufficient cause.’"

Bishop Duncan asks his people to "keep every aspect of this momentous Convention" in their prayers.

Mark Harris has a pretty thorough analysis of this action.

Read Thinking Anglicans' article and subsequent discussion on this news here.

Bennison awaits verdict

Yesterday was the final day of the presentations to the trial court convened to rule on charges of misconduct against Bishop Charles Bennison. The trial concluded with closing arguments and a not unexpected move by the defense to dismiss all charges.

According to news reports:

"Two counts against Bp. Bennison concern whether he committed 'conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy.' Church prosecutors allege that he failed to protect underage parishioner Martha Alexis from sexual predation by John Bennison, his younger brother, and kept the matter a secret from the girl's parents.

[...]If the panel of nine priests and bishops finds that Bp. Bennison failed in his priestly duties, he could lose his standing as bishop and face further sentencing. They will issue their ruling within 30 days."

Read the full article here.

We have previous coverage of this trial here, here and here.

Jerry Hames' coverage for Episcopal Life is here.

From GQ: Let God love Gene Robinson

The July issue of GQ includes a lengthy profile of Bishop Gene Robinson by Andrew Corsello, which beings as follows:

Even before he could speak, he knew it and felt it: knew he would never be separated from it; felt it in the form of light and heat. actually, light and heat belittled what he felt. They were just words, and words were small, man’s way of knowing; words could point and suggest, but never apprehend. When he was old enough to search for better ways to convey what he felt when the love of God came upon him, he would tell his mother and father and minister and anyone else in Nicholasville, Kentucky, that it was like butter, liquid-warm, luminous, drizzled atop his head and descending over and through him in a seamless golden coat to his feet.

and continues here.

Bishop Shaw blesses Pride marchers

Ethan Jacobs of Bay Windows writes:

After the high-energy spectacle of the Pride parade about 30 revelers headed to St. Paul’s Cathedral for a more subdued but no less heartfelt celebration of Pride. Massachusetts Episcopal Bishop Thomas Shaw, fresh from marching in the parade, led worshippers in song and prayers. During the service worshippers lined up in the center aisle of the cathedral, coming up as individuals and as couples, and Shaw laid his hands on them and blessed them.

GAFCON: What's that again?

If the Anglican Communion should have a schism, which no one at GAFCON's podiums or pulpits are apparently saying it is, Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney says the responsibility lies with the American and Canadian churches. He also says:

What GAFCON is doing is saying that given that new state of affairs, how can we now live together and how can we sustain the highest level of communion and work well together. My way of putting it is to say that the British Empire has now ceased to be and the British commonwealth of nations has come into existence or the nuclear family has turned into an extended family. This is the new reality. I don't hear GAFCON saying or GAFCON being a further cause for schism.

Now, last we checked, extended families were usually the result of divorce and remarriage, which really does imply a split is happening. So even though this address was intended to say it wasn't about schism, we thought it was saying something else.

Apparently, so did the Age (here), which not only frames the comments as a formal declaration of schism, but goes so far as to paint the end of the metaphorical Empire as a sign of things to come:

Dr Jensen said that the Global Anglican Future Conference was acknowledging that a new state of affairs existed within the worldwide Anglican communion, in which the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury was no longer considered dominant.

Anglican TV says offers live video from the conference. According to them there are 3 purposes for GAFCON:

1. To provide an opportunity for fellowship as well as to continue to experience and proclaim the transforming love of Jesus Christ

2. To develop a renewed understanding of our identity as Anglican Christians.

3. To prepare for an Anglican future in which the Gospel is uncompromised and Christ-centred mission is a top priority.

Same sex marriage and Christian theology

From Bishop John Bryson Chane's op-ed column in today's issue of The Guardian:

Archbishop Rowan Williams has tried to take the issue of gay marriage off the table at the Lambeth Conference, which begins in three weeks. But the celebration of a gay relationship at one of London’s oldest churches last month, and the well-publicised gathering of anti-gay Anglicans in Jerusalem this week, suggest the controversy must eventually be faced squarely.

Conservative Christians say opening marriage to gay couples would undermine an immutable institution founded on divine revelation. Archbishop Henry Orombi, the excitable primate of the Church of Uganda, calls it blasphemy. But, theologically, support for same-sex marriage is not a dramatic break with tradition, but a recognition that the church’s understanding of marriage has changed dramatically over 2,000 years.

Read more »

Bennison guilty

AP:

An Episcopal bishop was found guilty by a church panel of covering up his brother's assaults of a teenage girl in the 1970s.

Charles E. Bennison Jr., 64, was convicted of two counts of engaging in conduct unbecoming of a member of the clergy, according to his attorneys and the church verdict, dated Tuesday and released Thursday. He could be reprimanded, suspended or ousted from the church.

"We are proud of the Episcopal Church for holding Bishop Bennison accountable, and for using an open and transparent process that allowed the truth to come to light," church attorney Lawrence White said in a statement Thursday.

It was not immediately clear when the sentence would be handed down for Bennison, bishop of the nation's fifth-largest Episcopal diocese. The special Court for the Trial of a Bishop must wait at least 30 days before handing down a sentence, and Bennison's attorneys said they will request a hearing before sentencing.

From the Diocesan Standing Committee:
The canonical process is long and far from over.
...
After a vote of a canonical offense, the Bishop, Church Attorney, each Complainant and each Victim will have 30 days to provide the Court with comments regarding the sentence to be imposed.

The Court then votes upon the sentence, which also requires a 2/3rd vote. The Judgment and Sentence are then communicated to each party listed above plus the Standing Committee.

After entry of the Final Judgment, the Bishop may appeal within 30 days to the Court of Review of the Trial of a Bishop. This is a different group of individuals and consists of 9 Bishops elected by the House of Bishops. The Presiding Judge of the Court, upon receiving the Notice of Appeal, shall appoint within 60 days the time for the Hearing on the Appeal.

ENS:
On June 25, the nine-member Episcopal Church's Court for the Trial of a Bishop unanimously convicted Bennison on the first count and six of the members voted to convict him on the second count. Canon IV.5.25 of the church's Constitution and Canons requires an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members of the court.

Next steps in the canonical process

Bennison, the victim, her mother and brother, Lawrence White (the church attorney who acted as prosecutor for the Episcopal Church) and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori now have until July 30 "to offer matters in excuse or mitigation or to otherwise comment" on the sentence that the court will impose. That sentence can range from an admonition to deposition. Canon IV.5.28 says the Court for a Trial of a Bishop may hold a hearing on any comments that are made before agreeing on a sentence by a two-thirds majority vote and imposing it on Bennison.

The Living Church has more.

Robinson to Williams: Show leadership

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

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

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

. . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read it all here.

One man in the name of unity

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

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

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

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

Bishop Howe quits Anglican Communion Network

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

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

Read more »

Pa. Standing Committee wants Bennison deposed

John T. Connolly of the Philadephia Bulletin writes:

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania has issued its opinion that the bishop should be deposed for covering up the sexual abuse of his brother.

Read more »

The Guardian takes note

Riazat Butt of the Guardian has written a brief article about Bishop John Bryson Chane's column on the Lambeth Conference that appeared on the Cafe earlier this week.

She writes:

His comments, in an article called Stop the Scapegoating, published on a US website, are the most scathing yet about Williams, and he is the first US liberal to break ranks with his church and condemn Lambeth. Bishops from the Episcopal church maintained a united front at Canterbury, despite internal divisions over central issues, and remained on-message by stressing the positives. His assessment is more critical than the one issued by primates from the breakaway conservative movement the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon).

Do you agree with her interpretation of the column?

Robinson on the presidential campaign

The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson:

With Barack Obama, we have someone who is utterly sympathetic to our full and equal rights as citizens. I know, he won’t say he’s for equal marriage rights (neither did Hillary), but he still is the most LGBT-friendly president we will have ever had. I know from my own private conversations with him that he is totally in our court. I believe him, and I trust him, not to throw us under the bus when the election is over.

With last night’s speech by Governor Palin, preceded by attack dog presentations by other Republicans, we have seen the official re-igniting of the culture wars. And along with attacking the media, Eastern liberals, and the intellectual “elite,” you and I know that gay-bashing is not far behind.

Emphasis added.

H/T Religion News Service blog.

California bishops to issue statement on Prop 8

The Living Church:

Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California announced that he will deliver a statement signed by all six California diocesan bishops of The Episcopal Church that calls on Episcopalians to defeat a state ballot initiative that would amend the state’s constitution to read “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
...
Bishop Andrus will hold a press conference on Sept. 10 at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco [Addendum: video here]. He will be joined by assisting Bishop Steven Charleston of California and Bishop Barry Beisner of Northern California. Earlier that day, clergy and lay leaders from throughout southern Califorina will join Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles, who will hold his own press conference at the Los Angeles Cathedral Center.

“The Episcopal Church stands for equal rights for all persons and fair treatment for all Californians,” a spokesperson for the Diocese of California said.
Sean McConnell of the Diocese of California writes:
Our bishop and many clergy in this diocese have publically expressed opposition to California Proposition 8, the ballot initiative intended to overturn the state supreme court’s May 2008 decision granting marriage rites to same-sex couples. The decisions you make when you consider many city and county propositions or ballot initiatives might come from a deep personal consideration of your core Christian values. And even the candidates you consider … do your religious beliefs inform whom you vote for?

Politics: What’s a preacher to do?

According to the Rev. Anne Howard, executive director of the Beatitudes Society, it is simply a good rule of thumb to remember that the people in the pews are smart, thinking people. “You don’t ever hammer people over the head and tell them how to vote.”

“Preachers must always speak prophetically about political issues. If we are going to speak about hunger, or the environment, or healthcare, we need to do so prophetically. To be prophetic is to speak about those things in ways that get people to consider them deeply, but we cannot back the candidate who supports specific issues. But, speaking prophetically, we can ask people to consider what the issues are as they consider their choice.”
Legally, a church can take positions on public policy, specific pieces of legislation, and even on ballot measures or initiatives.

Statement on Proposition 8 by the Episcopal Diocesan Bishops of California

Statement on Proposition Eight by the Episcopal Diocesan Bishops of California


As Episcopal Bishops of California, we are moved to urge voters to vote “No” on Proposition Eight. Jesus calls us to love rather than hate, to give rather than to receive, to live into hope rather than fear. On Tuesday, November 8th, voters in California will be given the opportunity to vote for or against Proposition Eight, which would amend the state’s constitution to reserve marriage as only between a man and a woman. Since the California Supreme Court’s ruling in May that civil marriage should be provided to all of the state’s citizens whether the genders of the couple are different or the same, faithful gays and lesbians have entered into marriage as the principle way in which they show their love, devotion and life-long commitment to each other. Furthermore, marriage provides these couples the same legal rights and protections that heterosexual couples take for granted.

Read more »

Nigeria on re-evangelizing the West, among other things

A Nigerian tabloid has reported on a Metroplitan Community Church congregation in Nigeria that, according to the paper, is "first openly declared gay church in the country." Along with the story, they've noted that both Muslim and Christian Leaders have condemned the church, like homosexuality, as evil. The item, along with an Anglican-specific sidebar, indicates that the Nigerian bishops stand in solidarity with Archbishop Akinola, admiring and commending his stance, and themselves resolute, on non-admittance and ordination of gays.

In that sidebar to the story, however, we get this item from an interview with the Venerable Daniel Ilogu of Okrika Anglican Diocese in Rivers State:

Why did white people get involved in the gay issue? They are very funny people. They keep animals as pets. They kiss animals and carry them like humans. As for their human level, I don’t know what to say, but their Christian level is another thing. They are not good Christians. This is why they are re-evangelizing them. We have our ministers in Britain, America and all parts of the world who are re-evangelizing the white people.

The pieces are here (MCC) and here (Ilogu et al.).

House of Bishops meets in Salt Lake City

UPDATED

The following is an account of the House of Bishops for today from epiScope, the Episcopal Church communications blog. There is no provision for press attendance at this meeting:

The Bishops of the Episcopal Church gathered in Salt Lake City, Utah, for a special session of the meeting of the House of Bishops.

Present were 128 bishops. Not present were 15 who could not attend for a variety of reasons, including the bishops of Texas who are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. Nine did not respond and were not present.

Following morning worship, the bishops met in small table groups to debrief the recent Lambeth Conference. The bishops were presented with two questions for discussion:

“What were we most grateful for; and what were we least grateful for?” The afternoon plenary focused on what lies ahead.

Bishops consistently expressed gratitude for the relationships developed during Bible Study, Indaba groups and informal conversations throughout the Lambeth Conference. Many reported that these relationships are continuing through email contact, and the establishment of companion relationships between dioceses around the world. The bishops expressed gratitude for the Archbishop of Canterbury’s leadership, especially during the retreat. Many expressed appreciation for the expansion of the world view they received.

Concerns expressed included the disjunction between the Lambeth Indaba Process and future decision-making. Many compared the deep and collegial conversation of the Indaba Process with the more contentious hearings held by the Windsor Continuation Group and the Covenant Design Group.

In the afternoon plenary, there was lively discussion as we looked forward to extending the Lambeth Conference experience. A wide range of topics was presented including: a cooperation on the environment; global warming; poverty reduction; and improved communication throughout the Communion. HOB also discussed inviting Primates and bishops to visit The Episcopal Church. In turn, some bishops expressed a desire to visit other parts of the Communion. Throughout the day, gratitude was expressed for existing and developing relationships, and their significant value to our mutual life in the Anglican Communion.

Prepared by:
Bishop Thomas Breidenthal of Southern Ohio
Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real
Bishop Gordon Scruton of Western Massachusetts
Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island


Media inquiries can be forwarded to:
Neva Rae Fox
Program Officer, Public Affairs
The Episcopal Church
newsline@episcopalchurch.org
Mobile: 917-478-5659

UPDATE: 11:30 p.m.
Bishops blogging House of Bishops Meeting
Neff Powell, bishop of Southwest Virginia writes:

"In your Lambeth experience, for what are you most grateful?"

That was the question for our morning session. We answered this question in small groups of seven sitting at table. One wall of our room was filled with newsprint reporting the highlights of the table conversation. Among the many responses were these:

- The retreat with the Archbishop of Canterbury prior to the opening of the conference.

- The daily Bible study groups where we met with some bishops from around the world to study the great “I am” statements of Jesus in the Gospel according to St. John. There was always deep loving honesty.

- Spending honest time with people we have never met and with whom we sometimes have differences of culture and theology.

- The day in London when we marched in witness to show our support of the Millennium Development Goals, culminating with a stirring speech by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

- The Lord’s Prayer at each workshop occasion when everyone spoke in their own language was a Pentecost moment every time.

In the afternoon we had an open conversation about our Lambeth experience. Two of our bishops spoke to us through interpreters. Another witnessed the devastation caused by the recent hurricanes. Another reflected on how grateful he was for the translators at the Lambeth Conference.

The presence of these bishops and their voices at the microphones was a reminder that The Episcopal Church extends beyond the borders of the United States and that we have our own internal cultural differences and challenges. And for those challenges, I give thanks to God.


Duncan deposed

written thru
The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops has deposed Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh for abandonment of communion. Eighty-eight bishops voted in favor of deposing Duncan, 35 voted against and four abstained according to several sources in the House of Bishops.

"The House of Bishops worked carefully and prayerfully to consider the weighty matter of Bishop Duncan. The conversation was holy, acknowledging the pain of our deliberations as well as the gratitude many have felt over the years for their relationships with, and the ministry of, Robert Duncan," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in a statement after the meeting.

"The House concluded, however, that his actions over recent months and years constitute 'abandonment of the communion of this church' and that he should be deposed. Concern was expressed for the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in the face of leadership which has sought to remove itself from the Episcopal Church.

The vote comes just two weeks before the Diocese of Pittsburgh determines whether to affiliated with the theologically conservative Province of the Southern Cone, the numerically small, geographically vast Anglican province based in Argentina that has more than doubled its membership by recruting disaffected Episcopal, Canadian and Brazilian churches.

"I'm very sad, sad for the Episcopal Church," Bishop Duncan told Ann Rodgers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "In 15 days the diocese will determine whether it, too, wants to be part of the Southern Cone and figure out whether it wants me back as bishop. That is up to the diocese, although I have a sneaking suspicion they will want me back," he said.

The vote on deposition did not follow strict ideological lines. Some bishops who hold liberals views on same-sex relationships, the matter that has precipitated the current controversy in the Episcopal Church voted against deposing Duncan, while some who shared his views on homosexuality voted in favor of deposition.

“As difficult as this decision is for me and many others in our Church, it is important to realize that the decision in the House today was not based on the theological convictions of Bishop Duncan, but rather on the evidence presented regarding statements and actions concerning moves to take the Diocese of Pittsburgh out of the Episcopal Church,” Bishop Gary Lilibridge of West Texas, a theological conservative, who voted against deposing Duncan, esaid in a summary of the meeting released by Neva Rae Fox of the Episcopal Church.

Bishop Paul Marshall of Bethlehem and several others said that the bishops voted to depose Duncan yesterday, rather than waiting until after the diocese's vote on October 4 to avoid another situation similar to the one in the Diocese of San Joaquin in which two or more entities are make claims to the assets of the Church. This concern was enough to motivate a number of bishops who came to the meeting prepared to defer a vote to change their minds and vote to depose Duncan.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh was so certain the bishop would be deposed that it had a press release and a statement from the Standing Committee, as well as an illustration of a crozier and mitre resting across an empty chair online within an hour of the vote.

The Standing Committee, which is now the ecclesiastical authority in the diocese, supports Duncan. Its members include the Rev. Geoff Chapman, author of the secretive Chapman Memo. The Chapman Memo, which came to light in 2004, laid out plans to place Episcopal Church property into the hands of archbishops in other parts of the world who would then hand it back to Duncan and his allies.

The Rev. David Wilson, president of the Standing Committee told Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press that Duncan's ouster was "a very painful moment."

"The leadership of The Episcopal Church has inserted itself in a most violent manner into the affairs and governance of our diocese," Wilson said. "We will stand firm against any further attempts by those outside our boundaries to intimidate us."

The group "Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh" (PEP) said in a statement:

"[Duncan] has rejected numerous opportunities and warnings to reconsider and change course. Instead, he has continued resolutely to pursue a course of action designed to remove this diocese and many unwilling Episcopalians from The Episcopal Church.

Now that the House of Bishops has acted, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh needs to find a way to move forward gracefully and productively."

Following are some other statements from bishops:

Read more »

Blogging bishops weigh in on the Duncan deposition

Bishop Stephen Lane of Maine discusses the deposition of Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh:

Opinions were divided on several issues. One was the matter of timing. Should the House wait until after the Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh? Another had to do with the offense. Was the threat to leave sufficient violation of the bishop's duty to uphold the doctrine, discipline and worship of the church? A third was relations with the larger church. Would this action sour recently strengthened relationships with other Anglican churches.

On the other hand, there seemed to be no doubt that Bishop Duncan was clear in his intentions to pull the Diocese of Pittsburgh out of the Episcopal Church. There was no disagreement about that. And there was little disagreement that such an action would cause great harm to the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the faithful Episcopalians of the diocese.

In my opinion the majority of bishops decided to take Bishop Duncan at his word and determined that his actions and intentions were a clear violation of his duties as bishop.

Both the discussion and the vote made it clear that the decision of the House was not related to theological positions or faithful dissent. The perspectives of all speakers received a respectful hearing. Time was spent in prayer at several points and just before the final vote.

Bishop Alan Scarfe of Iowa:

Whatever one’s vote for or against deposition, nothing could hide the sadness or the effect of churned stomachs. There is no joy in discipline, and whether we agreed or disagreed about timing, or procedure, or even appropriateness, neither could there have been any doubt that this action was coming. I could not help contrasting however with the holy moment when the Bishop of Rio Grande in New Orleans took his life decision into his own hands and read his letter of resignation. He received a standing ovation for his courage and conviction, and once again there were few dry eyes in the House.

If people want to deal with the House of Bishops at a distance, we are easy targets. In some ways we stand large and can seem remote. Our decisions can readily be cast as following some kind of agenda. Often of course it is the unconscious agenda of the critic in a strange reversed way. If, however, we want to deal with bishops as sisters and brothers in Christ, who are as strangely in awe of their calling and responsibility as any human being would be, then it might be understood when I say that this is a group of people who genuinely have respect and love for one another, and an acute sense of bringing their people with them into Council. This is so especially as we handle difficult decisions about one another. We anger each other, but we have learned to let grace handle how long we hold onto it.

(emphasis added.)

The post-deposition news conference and minutes

Updated with minutes

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schroi and three other bishops held a brief and lightly-subscribed telephone press conference this afternoon which produced two significant pieces of news:

First:

“The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will not go away,” said Jefferts Schori, even if the diocesan convention votes to secede from the Episcopal Church and join the Anglican Province of the Southern cone.

She said one member of the diocesan standing committee, (the Rev. Jim Simons—although she did not name him) will remain in the Episcopal Church. She said she anticipates that Simons will “reconstitute the Standing Committee” and that it would become the new ecclesiastical authority in the diocese.

Second:

Bishop Michael Smith of North Dakota explained that he had challenged the Presiding Bishop’s ruling that it was permissible to proceed with the deposition of Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh even though Duncan had not previously been inhibited. Inhibition requires the consent of the three most senior bishops in the House, and two of the three (Bishop Peter Lee of Virginia and Bishop Don Wimberly of Texas) had not consented. Some observers have argued that inhibition must precede deposition. Others say the authors of the canons never intended to give three senior bishops veto power of the will of the larger House. The House turned aside Smith’s objection.

The House similarly turned aside an objection by Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina who contended that the vote to depose a bishop requires a majority of all bishops eligible to cast ballots—a potentially insurmountable challenge to those who favored deposing Duncan, as many retired bishops no longer attend meetings. The House backed a competing interpretation—that a vote to depose requires a majority of those present.

“In our system there is no Supreme Court to adjudicate,” such challenges, Smith said. “In the context of the meeting we are free to challenge the presider and we did that but we were overruled by a two third majority of the rest of the house, so the ruling of the Presiding Bishop stood.”

He said he thought there would continue to be confusion over this part of the canons “until General Convention will change [them] and clarify them.

Jefferts Schori agreed that there was “a need to clarify many of the issues that have been raised in recent months,” regarding the disciplinary canons of the Church.

Bishop Nathan Baxter of Central Pennsylvania said the meeting was “challenging” and “difficult” but said” “Those who had voted in different ways [last night] returned to the tables today. [There was] truly a sprit of commitment to being colleagues in this house which was very moving to me.”

Click Read More to see the certified minutes of the meeting and the roll call on deposition.

Read more »

Bishop reactions to Duncan issue, Saturday edition

Today in reactions to the HoB vote of Friday, we have several reports--not so much of reactions as explanations of "why I voted the way I did." The reports indicate that the conversation was respectful and that there was an undercurrent of sadness throughout the proceeding.

Christopher Epting, bishop for ecumenical relations, voted yes, calling it a
"sad, but necessary decision":

Contrary to what many may believe, and have stated, this was not about Bishop Duncan’s theological positions. Many loyal bishops, clergy and lay people of The Episcopal Church hold similar views and yet remain faithful members of our church. This was about our church’s polity and the consequences of violating that polity by one who has sworn to uphold it.

At first glance, it’s hard to see how this action serves the goal “that we all may be one.” However, accountability is critical to preserving community life. We have seen the consequences of a lack of accountability on the “left” as well as on the “right” in this church for many years. Perhaps we are finally achieving the kind of maturity which will allow us to hold one another accountable…for the sake of the community…and for the sake of the common witness to the Gospel we hope to make in The Episcopal Church.


George Packard, bishop for chaplaincies , indicates he'd much rather have had a "postpone the vote" option:

A postponed vote would have been wise, prudent, and plainly the right thing to do. To quote senior Bishop Peter Lee advising the House on such matters which is his duty by canon (when he is allowed to do it), "Despite numerous statements by Bob Duncan we found nothing actionable." And there isn't. True, we were provided with canvas shopping bags to hold all the incriminating paperwork of reports, newspaper and magazine articles, assessments, and scary confidential memorandum about Bob's garrulous designs to pick up his diocese and leave but there was no fatal, last gasp. The dignity of church law would have allowed for that.

Bishop John Howe, in a letter to the diocese of Florida, compares the relationship between inhibition and deposition to that of ordination process and the progression from deacon to priest:

This afternoon I offered this argument: "I want to compare what Mr. Beers said last night to the argument that many have advanced in favor of ordaining persons directly to the priesthood - without the requirement that they become deacons first. Cogent arguments can be made for that position, but that is not what our canons stipulate. They say a person SHALL be a deacon first, and only afterward may they be ordained priest. You can wish it were otherwise, and you can speculate all you like about intent, but if you want to change things - change the canons.

"Similarly, our canons are clear - not at all 'ambiguous' - however much you might not like them. 'A Bishop SHALL be inhibited, with the consent of the three senior Bishops,' before deposition can be imposed. The way to change that is to change the canons. Bishop Bob Duncan has not been inhibited, and he cannot be deposed."

+Howe continues:

The discussion and debate today lasted across both this morning's and this afternoon's sessions, for a total of approximately six hours. There was a good deal of sentiment expressed that any action by this House should not occur until after the Diocese of Pittsburgh has voted for a second time to remove its accession to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, a matter which is scheduled to be before its Convention within the next couple of weeks. A number of people argued that until/unless that decision becomes final "abandonment" has not actually occurred, either by the Bishop or by the Diocese as a whole.

Others, however, argued that in allowing and urging the Diocese to withdraw its accession, and thus to attempt to remove itself from The Episcopal Church, Bishop Duncan has long since violated and "abandoned" his loyalty to The Episcopal Church. Some of the Bishops who are also lawyers argued that the case law of Pennsylvania would make it more difficult for The Episcopal Church to press its case if we delayed our action until after Pittsburgh's Diocesan Convention.

My sense of the discussion today is that it was respectful, painful, and deeply tinged with sadness. There was a good deal of recognition and concern that many, both within The Episcopal Church and across the Anglican Communion, will see today's action as precipitous, pre-emptive, and vindictive. Some expressed the concern that this may well solidify the previously undecided in Pittsburgh to join in the support of Bishop Duncan, by making him, in effect, a "martyr."

Bruce MacPherson, bishop of Western Louisiana, had the same reasons for his vote, and is concerned about what this means for the future, as he explains in a letter to his diocese:

The concern that I have is the fact that by this action, a dangerous precedent has been established as applied to the interpretation and execution of the Constitution and Canons of the Church. The danger in this is that it can, and unless terminated, will lead to the living out of a polity and governance in a manner that is not a part of our heritage nor the intent of the Canons as established by General Convention.

Bishop Sauls on the Duncan deposition

Bishop Stacy Sauls defended the deposition of Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh on the BBC's Radio 4 Sunday program. Listen here.

More news on the death of Bishop Beetge

As we reported on September 29, in The Lead, The Rt. Rev. David Beetge, Bishop of Highveld, Southern Africa has died.
Dean David Bannerman writes on the Highveld web site:

His death is a profound loss to our Diocese, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa the Anglican Communion and the wider church. He was for us a man with a deep spirituality who engaged compassionately with the issues of his day in Church, South African society and the world at large. His wisdom, wit, integrity and compassion will be sorely missed as our bishop, teacher, pastor and friend to so many.

Biography of Bishop Beetge is here.

Below is the Press Release on his death by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa:

Read more »

"Christian-Muslim" priest to be defrocked

From the Seattle Times:

There are moments these days when the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding sits outside a church or a Muslim gathering, wondering if she will be welcome at either.

It didn't use to be this way. But now, six months away from what is almost certain to be her defrocking, the Episcopal priest who announced last year that she had also become a Muslim remains steadfast in her belief that she was called to both faiths but says her decision to follow that call has been exceedingly painful at times.

In a letter mailed last week to national and local church leaders, Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island, who has disciplinary authority over the Seattle priest, said a church committee had determined that Redding "abandoned the Communion of the Episcopal Church by formal admission into a religious body not in communion with the Episcopal Church."

African bishops comment on US elections

While US bishops cannot support candidates for election, but can speak on issues, at least one African prelate currently attending the Synod of Bishops in Rome feels no such scruples according to the National Catholic Reporter.

Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, said today he would “obviously” vote for Barak Obama if he could cast a ballot on Nov. 4.

Known as a strong advocate for social justice, Onaiyekan said Obama’s pro-choice record wouldn’t stop him from voting for the Democrat.

“The fact that you oppose abortion doesn’t necessarily mean that you are pro-life,” Onaiyekan said in an interview with NCR. “You can be anti-abortion and still be killing people by the millions through war, through poverty, and so on.”

A past president of the African bishops’ conference, Onaiyekan is widely seen as a spokesperson for Catholicism in Africa. During the synod, he was tapped to deliver a continental report on behalf of the African bishops.

Onaiyekan said the election of an African-American president would have positive repercussions for America’s image in the developing world.

“It would mean that for the first time, we would begin to think that the Americans are really serious in the things they say, about freedom, equality, and all that,” he said. “For a long time, we’ve been feeling that you don’t really mean it, that they’re just words.”

Onaiyekan said he’s aware that many American Catholics have reservations about Obama because of his stand on abortion, but he looks at it differently.

“Of course I believe that abortion is wrong, that it’s killing innocent life,” he said. “I also believe, however, that those who are against abortion should be consistent.

“If my choice is between a person who makes room for abortion, but who is really pro-life in terms of justice in the world, peace in the world, I will prefer him to somebody who doesn’t support abortion but who is driving millions of people in the world to death,” Onaiyekan said.


Read it here.

The Rt. Rev. Peter Akinola, Anglican Primate of Nigeria, has a different point of view. From his Primatial Address to the Church of Nigeria:

We salute those who emerged as presidential candidates of both the Republican and Democratic Parties. It was a rigorous, time and energy sapping exercise. But it was participatory as all stakeholders were openly involved in all parts of the vast country. As we wish them well in their electioneering we have our fears and reservations about the dangerous trends we see in American politics.

Ordinarily, it should be our joy that an African American is popularly nominated for the first time in American political history to slug it out with other contenders and going by popular forecasts, he is likely to be heading for the White House. We should however be concerned that this is a politician considered to be a far leftwing liberal for whom all that counts is victory at the polls. He sees abortion as normal and a matter of right for those who do it. So life is not sacrosanct and man can terminate it at will. By the same token homosexuality is okay and so under him, the world is likely to see more liberal and widespread acceptance of same sex marriages.

We urge Senator Obama to prayerfully reconsider some of his ultra liberal dispositions not only for the sake of “God’s own Country” but in the interest of the world. His endorsement of what the scriptures and much of the world condemn will definitely deepen in America the religious and spiritual vacuum which ungodly influences will of course seek to fill by whatever means. And that will have grave consequences for him and his country. As you know, whenever America sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold. In matters of religion, we plead; do not take today’s world for granted.

A stitch in time saves nine.

From Bishop Bruno

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

The Supreme Court of California has determined that all citizens of our state should have equal access to marriage as a civil right based in our state constitution. The Court's ruling provides the Church with an opportunity to reflect on our own theology of marriage. In the Diocese of Los Angeles, we have sought to provide the Church's blessing to all the baptized people of God.

Among those are people who have sought to have same-sex relationships blessed in the community of faith. I know that the acceptance of same-sex unions has caused spiritual struggle and questioning for some members of our Diocese, our Church and the Anglican Communion. My policy has been to allow clergy to respond to the needs of their community with pastoral sensitivity including the blessing of these unions as they deem appropriate to the pastoral context.

Earlier this year, when the court made same-sex marriage an option in civil law, I felt it necessary to convene a task force to develop a diocesan policy by which clergy in our Diocese might officiate at same-sex marriages. The task force has developed educational materials that I hope will help you and members of our Diocese to reflect on the issues involved in same sex-marriage as we discern our way forward.

I hope that all clergy in our Diocese might educate our congregations about marriage and have conversations about it.

Performing and blessing these marriages is not simply theoretical. There are real people in congregations large and small who have waited sometimes for many years for this opportunity, and the witness of their faithful love has been an inspiration to me. Other couples will step forward in the future. I hope you will take the opportunity in the next several weeks to listen to their stories. Many among these couples are members of our congregations.

While no one in this Diocese will be forced to move beyond what his or her conscience allows, we seek to provide that gracious space for those whose conscience compels them to bless the marriages of all faithful people as together we discern the work of the Holy Spirit who continues to lead us into all truth.

Your Brother in Christ,
J. Jon Bruno
Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles

Diocese of Virginia will appeal Fairfax court rulings

A letter from Bishop Peter James Lee (emphasis added)

October 16, 2008

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Every day God calls us to remain faithful together at the foot of the cross. The mutual support and community we share in the Diocese of Virginia is a clear sign of our faithfulness to this call. Especially important in these challenging times is the support we offer the faithful Episcopalians in our continuing congregations as they serve the mission of the Church.

The Circuit Court of Fairfax County has heard evidence related to ownership of disputed church properties. Despite our claim that these properties are held in trust for many generations of Episcopalians, from the past to the future, we have received some unfavorable rulings, including one this week which declared that property acquired for the Church of Christ Redeemer was transferred properly to Truro Church. Next week the Diocese will present evidence which we believe shows that Christ Church, Alexandria is the owner of the historic church of the Falls Church. The trial will conclude next week and we expect a ruling in late November or early December.

While these legal rulings have been disheartening, I pray that you remain mindful of our larger common mission. It is our duty to band together to see that all Episcopalians may worship in their own churches. It is our privilege to live and worship here in Virginia, the birthplace of religious freedom. We must not allow the government to dictate how people of any faith organize and govern themselves nor where they may gather in prayer.

Let me assure you that the Diocese of Virginia will vigorously appeal every court decision that denies any Episcopalians their rightful church homes. The Diocese of Virginia has experienced challenges in the past and we have always come through renewed and strengthened in our mission to serve Christ's church. Virginia will do so again.

Please continue to keep all those affected by this trial in your hearts and prayers.

Faithfully,

Peter James Lee
Bishop of Virginia

Va. suffragan to "consult" with new Pittsburgh diocese

The Rt. Rev. David Colin Jones, the bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, has accepted an invitation from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to serve as a "consulting bishop" as it rebuilds.

Bishop Jones will provide the Pittsburgh diocesan Standing Committee -- the current leadership team -- practical advice on the details of diocesan administration, clergy deployment, and support for congregations remaining in the Episcopal Church in the United States.

"Bishop Jones's experience in Virginia, especially his pastoral care for congregations that continued with the Episcopal Church, provides us a great resource and guiding hand," said the Rev. James Simons, President of Pittsburgh's Standing Committee.

The Diocese of Virginia, like Pittsburgh, has seen a handful of parishes seek to "realign" with other Anglican churches outside of the United States. As the bishop suffragan, or assisting bishop, in Virginia, Jones's primary responsibility is for missions and church planting, and he is known to be passionate about church growth.

"I believe my strongest spiritual gift is the gift of encouragement," Bishop Jones says. "Throughout my entire ordained ministry I have been a listener and a guide. I now offer that to the Episcopalians of Pittsburgh to use as they see fit in rebuilding their diocese. I do not come with any predetermined expectations."

As a consultant, Bishop Jones will have no ecclesiastical authority in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. That jurisdiction remains with the Standing Committee. He will begin his consulting role immediately. Jones will continue as Virginia's bishop suffragan and maintain his residence in Virginia, spending time in Pittsburgh as needed. He may, on occasion, be asked to perform sacramental duties for Pittsburgh churches.

Congregations representing twenty Pittsburgh parishes are on record as remaining in the Episcopal Church, with more likely to be identified by the time the Diocese holds its Special Convention on December 13, 2008. At that meeting, vacancies in all elected diocesan offices will be filled. In the coming months, the Standing Committee will name an Assisting Bishop to serve until a permanent diocesan bishop is called – a period that could take up to two years. Bishop Jones is expected to lend advice on naming the Assistant Bishop and continue serving as a consultant until that person is in place.

Jones, 65, was consecrated the bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Virginia in 1995, making him one of the more senior bishops of the Episcopal Church. He has held numerous leadership positions within the House of Bishops and General Convention. Jones holds degrees from West Virginia University and Virginia Theological Seminary.

The Bishop has close connections to the Pittsburgh area, but until now, never had an official tie to the Diocese. Born in Youngstown, raised in West Virginia, he visited Pittsburgh often. "I bought my first suit at Kaufmann's downtown," Jones recalls, "and rooted for the Pirates and Steelers."

Additional information on The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of The Episcopal Church in the United States is available at www.episcopalpgh.org.

Tutu raps

Sunday, November 16, St. Paul's Cathedral in London will host a world premiere of The Cry: A Requiem for the Lost Child to benefit the Save the Children organization.

Read more »

Bishop of Quincy announces sudden retirement

UPDATE: epiScope offers this statement and prayer for Bishop Ackerman and Episcopalians in the Diocese of Quincy from the Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori:

I give thanks for the ministry of Bishop Ackerman, and pray that his retirement may permit him time to recover his health. The people of the Diocese of Quincy remain in my prayers and those of many, many other Episcopalians. We encourage all to remember that there is room in this Church for all who desire to be members thereof.

The Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman, Bishop of Quincy has announced his retirement to take effect November 1, 2008. Just three day notice. His diocese will vote on whether to leave the Episcopal Church on Saturday. A press release that leaves major questions unanswered follows.

"The Right Reverend Keith L. Ackerman, VIIIth Bishop of Quincy, has announced to the Standing Committee his retirement as Diocesan Bishop effective November 1st, 2008. Bishop Ackerman has reached this decision after much thought and prayer. The Bishop and his wife Jo conferred with his physicians, many trusted friends, and the Standing Committee before making this decision.

While Bishop Ackerman is retiring from his administrative duties as executive officer of the Diocese, he plans to remain in the area of the Diocese for some time and will make himself available, under arrangement with the Standing Committee, to perform Episcopal acts and provide spiritual counsel to members of the Diocese, as have Bishop Donald Parsons and Bishop Edward MacBurney, the VIth and VIIth Bishops of Quincy.

Under diocesan canons, the Standing Committee will continue to act as the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese, as they have since the Bishop’s sabbatical began in late August. Day to day operations of the diocese will continue to be handled by the various officers and department heads.

Bishop Ackerman wants to assure everyone that he has no intention of abandoning the diocese but will continue to provide spiritual and pastoral support as asked by the Standing Committee."


More here and here.

Putting Resolution B033 behind us

Update: read Herb Gunn's encyclopedic account of the saga of B033, and the statement of dissenting bishops.

Last week, the Chicago Consultation hosted a gathering of bishops, activists and General Convention delegates at Seabury Western Seminary. The group’s three goals, as stated on its Web site are:

• To strengthen the movement toward the blessing of same sex relationships.
• To advance the inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in all orders of ministry.
• To strengthen the Anglican Communion’s witness against racism, poverty, sexism, heterosexism, and other interlocking oppressions.

In planning for General Convention, the group began to ponder the issue of Resolution B033 passed in the waning minutes of the General Convention in 2006. It states:

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.

There is general agreement within the Chicago Consultation that something has to be done about that second "Resolve", but the group is looking for input on which tack should be taken in attempting to get rid of it, or at a minimum, to reduce its influence.

The CC has considered three strategies, but there may be others.

1. Outright repeal

This is the strategy embodied in a recent resolution passed by the Diocese of Maine:

RESOLVED, that the Diocese of Maine calls for the repeal of B033, passed at the 75th General Convention and be it further

RESOLVED that the Diocese of Maine calls upon the 76th General Convention to refrain from restricting the field of potential candidates for future episcopates on the basis of gender or sexual orientation and to reject interference from outside the Convention that would attempt to affect its parliamentary process or negate the polity of The Episcopal Church, and be it further
RESOLVED that the Diocese of Maine maintain its commitment to participation in the Anglican Communion and to the listening process described in the Windsor Report. And be it further Resolved to direct its deputation to the 76th General Convention to submit a resolution to this effect. ("RESOLVED that the 76th General Convention will refrain from restricting the field of potential candidates for future episcopates on the basis of gender or sexual orientation and will reject interference from outside the Convention that would attempt to affect its parliamentary process or negate the polity of The Episcopal Church.")

Straight forward and plain spoken. Some, however, worry that such a resolution cannot pass the House of Bishops, whose members are fresh from the Lambeth Conference at which Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, urged a continuing moratorium on the consecration of GLBT people in committed monogamous relationship from the episcopacy. So, what about

2. Clarifying the nature of B033

This approach is embodied in a resolution passed by the Diocese of Rochester.

Resolved … that this 76th General Convention affirms that standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction are not bound by any extra-canonical restraints—including but not limited to the restraints set forth in Resolution B033 passed by the 75th General Convention—when considering consents to the ordination of any candidate to the episcopate.

In a way, this resolution simply seeks to call the Church’s bluff. B033 does not compel bishops or Standing Committees to vote against a gay candidate for the episcopacy; that would require a change in the canons, rather than a simple resolution. However, both the Episcopal Church—particularly its House of Bishops—and the Anglican Communion, have frequently behaved as though B033 had the force of law. This resolution makes it clear that it does not.

But some worry that this approach, while it certainly undercuts the authority of B033, does not go far enough in stating opposition to that resolution. So what about…

3. Sunsetting B033

This strategy has yet to be embodied in a resolution. It is based on the notion that the best way to get past B033 without bogging down in a fight over whether we are technically repealing it is to pass a more recent resolution with different content.

GC2006 “call[ed] 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.”

GC2009 can just as easily “call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to” fill in the blank “when considering whether to consent to the consecration of candidates to the episcopacy.”

abide by the non-discrimination provisions in Title 3 Canon 1 Section 2” might work.

Integrity maintains a data base on all known resolutions regarding the full inclusion of all of the baptized in the life of the Church. They are also sponsoring a survey that addresses some of the issues raised above.

Which approach makes the most sense? Which one can work? Your thoughts are welcome.

Here is some of our coverage of B033 from the Daily Episcopalian, June 2006.

Robinson on meeting Obama

The Times:

Regarding the election, Bishop Robinson said, “To see the tears in the eyes of African-Americans, it’s just been a profoundly, I would say religious, experience, very exciting.”

[In their meeting Robinson and Obama] spent more time discussing international issues than lesbians and gays. “He certainly indicated his broad and deep support for the full civil rights for gay and lesbian ... I pressed him on the Millennium Development Goals. I wanted to know whether he thought more about them than just they were a good idea but whether he had any intention of pushing for their full funding and so on.”

Bishop Robinson said he feared that the economic crisis might affect this agenda. “I hope the United States will not shirk its responsibilities in aid to the developing world. That’s going to be a hard-fought fight, not just with President Obama but all the powers in Washington.”

The Anglican church’s first gay bishop and the United States’ first black President-elect discussed in depth the place of religion in the state.

Read more »

Bishops react to presidential election

There are numerous articles appearing about the reactions around the world to Tuesday's presidential election results. The Church Times in the UK has collected a number of reactions from African American leaders in the Episcopal Church and other reactions are being shared from around the world. President-elect Obama is featured on the front cover of the issue.

From the opening paragraphs of the article in the Church Times,

"The Bishop of North Carolina, the Rt Revd Michael Curry, said on Wednesday: ‘This is a day that I honestly never dreamed I would see. I think about my grandmother, who was the daughter of a sharecropper here in North Carolina. My ancestors were slaves here. My daddy went to jail so folk could vote.

‘My great-aunt Callie was a Sunday-school teacher at Sixteenth Street Baptist chapel where the little girls were killed in 1960. Somehow, all the things that people did without knowing how it was going to turn out helped to make this moment possible.

‘But they never dreamed this. Americans have said what we want to be: a country for all. That was the American dream from the beginning. God blesses us sometimes, in spite of ourselves, and, every once in a while, something happens that says that dream is real, and don’t give up on it for America, and ultimately for the whole world.’"

Read the full article in the Church Times here.

The Church Times blog also has this reaction from the Bishop of the Diocese where President-elect's father's family lives:

[...]the Rt Revd Joseph Wasonga, told Ecumenical News International: “I want to congratulate Obama. I think his winning will bring hope and healing to the whole world. His election has shown that America is truly democratic. . . I hope he will be able to challenge bad governance in Africa.”

The Bishops of the Church of Canada have released a statement as well.

Pa. bishop appeals deposition

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

In hopes of salvaging his career, suspended Episcopal Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr. yesterday asked a special church court convened in Philadelphia to reverse its recent sentence removing him from holy orders.

and

Attorney Larry White, representing the Episcopal Church, told the court yesterday that Bennison deserves deposition because he has "failed to demonstrate he comprehends and takes responsibility for the damage he caused" the victim and her family.

White's remarks were followed by testimony from the victim and her mother, both of whom urged the judges to sustain their deposition order.

Bennison "has not shown the godly sorrow that leads to repentance," the victim told the judges, adding that the sentence had provided her with "spiritual healing" and renewed trust in the church.

Bishop Iker inhibited

Bishop Jack Iker, who presided over the vote in the Diocese of Fort Worth to leave the Episcopal Church, has been inhibited in the exercise of the ministry in the Episcopal Church by the Presiding Bishop.

Katie Sherrod, writing at Desert's Child has the details here.

You can read the full letter from the Presiding Bishop (pdf) here.

Monday Addendum. ENS report now available, and Iker and his followers respond.

Ackerman out of retirement

The Rt. Rev. Keith L. Ackerman, who resigned last month as Bishop of Quincy -- in the brief interval between coming back from sabbatical and the diocese's convention -- will serve as assisting bishop in the neighboring Diocese of Springfield. According to The Living Church "the Rt. Rev. Peter H. Beckwith, Bishop of Springfield, said the Presiding Bishop’s office had been notified that the new position would become effective Dec. 1."

At convention the diocese voted to leave The Episcopal Church and align with the Southern Cone. Had Ackerman not resigned he likely would have been inhibited as was Bishop Iker of Fort Worth.

The November 1st press release announcing his retirement stated "The Bishop and his wife Jo conferred with his physicians, many trusted friends, and the Standing Committee before making this decision."

The provisional constitution of the group meeting in Wheaton today names Forward in Faith as a founding member. We recall another post retirement statement for Ackerman: "The Right Reverend Keith Ackerman SSC wishes to make it clear that he will be remaining in office as President of Forward in Faith North America. Indeed, it is his intention during his retirement to devote himself more fully than has been possible hitherto to this ministry."

PB "accepts" Bishop Iker's renunciation of orders

From episcope:

On November 20, 2008, the Title IV Review Committee certified to me pursuant to the canons that the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth, had abandoned the Communion of the Episcopal Church, having purported to separate his Diocese from the Church. With the consent of the three senior bishops, I then inhibited Bishop Iker from exercising his pastoral ministry. In response to this action, on November 24, 2008, Bishop Iker issued a public statement in which he made clear that he had chosen to leave the Episcopal Church and that he no longer wished to carry out the responsibilities of ordained ministry in the Church. Accordingly, I have, with the consent of my Council of Advice, chosen this day to accept Bishop Iker's voluntary renunciation of his Orders in the Episcopal Church and have removed and released him from our ordained ministry.

Her letter concluded: Accepting Bishop Iker's voluntary renunciation now rather than waiting for the March meeting of the House will do much to alleviate the difficult circumstances facing the Episcopalians in Fort Worth, who are functioning in a Diocese devoid of any formal leadership. Second, renunciation is a more hospitable avenue of departure from the Church, and therefore increases the hope for reconciliation with Bishop Iker and his followers at some point.

The full story makes clear that Iker does not think he has renounced his orders, but that the Presiding Bishop, her Council of Advice (which includes the extremely conservative Bruce MacPherson) and the nine-member Title IV review committee (chaired by Dorsey Henderson, nobody's liberal) think his public statements constitute renunciation.

An interesting side note: the Episcopal witnesses on the one-page notification that the Presiding Bishop released are Bishops George Packard and Lloyd Allen, both of whom, I believe, voted against deposing Bishop Bob Duncan.

Bishop Jenkins to retire

From ENS

Bishop Charles E. Jenkins III of Louisiana, saying he has struggled with the emotional trauma caused by the Hurricane Katrina disaster of 2005, has announced his retirement, effective December 31, 2009.

In a letter to the diocese, Jenkins, 57, wrote, "This move is based on issues of health and a concern for the mission strategy of the diocese."

...

Jenkins wrote, "My struggle with health issues since Katrina has not been a secret. My PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] was exaggerated by the experience of the mandatory evacuation in Hurricane Gustav. The symptoms that accompany the PTSD now seem deeper and more frequent. After talking with various health professionals, it seems best for me that I take a significant rest, which means an absence from the stress and strains of the episcopate. I considered and explored the possibility of a medical leave and even a sabbatical. I could not bring myself to do this for there is no assurance that I would be back to lead the diocese. I am not willing to ask this diocese to take such a risk."

Iker says he has not renounced his orders

Bishop Jack Iker of Forth Worth says that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is wrong. He has not renounced his orders, and therefore should not have been removed as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. He writes:

The Presiding Bishop is misleading the Church and misrepresenting the facts in her recent allegation that I have renounced the ordained ministry of The Episcopal Church.

According to Canon III.12.7, any Bishop desiring to renounce his orders "shall declare, in writing, to the Presiding Bishop a renunciation of the ordained Ministry of this Church, and a desire to be removed therefrom…" and that the PB shall then "record the declaration and request so made."

I have not written to the Presiding Bishop making any such declaration or request. I hope the House of Bishops will hold her accountable for her continued abuse of the canons.

It appears to be true, that Iker did not write to the PB, however he did write to the diocese, and here is what he said:

Katharine Jefferts Schori has no authority over me or my ministry as a Bishop in the Church of God. She never has, and she never will.

Since November 15, 2008, both the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and I as the Diocesan Bishop have been members of the Anglican Province of the Southern
Cone. As a result, canonical declarations of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church pertaining to us are irrelevant and of no consequence.

Like the deposition of Bishops Schofield and Duncan, the removal of Bishop Iker from his office occurred after it was infinitely clear that he no longer considered himself a member of the Episcopal Church but wanted to continue asserting authority within the Church to make it more difficult to reconstitute the diocese he had departed.

These bishops and many of their priests cast their depositions as the ecclesial equivalent of a deportation. But the Church is simply taking away the passports of those who have made it known that they are no longer our citizens. Their invocation of the canons is especially ironic as they claim now to be members of a province that is canonically forbidden from operating outside of designated countries in South America.

Bishop Chane responds to proposed "new province"

Update: The Telegraph covers the letter focusing on Chane's statements about the leadership of Rowan Williams.
_________________

Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Diocese of Washington has written an open letter to the clergy and congregations of the diocese regarding the attempt to form a non-geographical province in North America.

Read more »

Gene Robinson on Rick Warren pick: a slap in the face

Updated with the Rev. Susan Russell's Open Letter to Barack Obama:

Rick Warren is a not only a vocal opponent of LGBT equality who does not believe in evolution, he has compared abortion to the Holocaust and backed the assassination of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. His views are far outside the religious mainstream and his credentials are steeped in an “Old Time Religion” of narrow exclusionism that ill prepares us for the challenges of the 21st century.


From The New York Times:

V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, whose consecration caused a painful divide in his church because he is openly gay, said that when he heard about the selection of Mr. Warren, “it was like a slap in the face.”

Bishop Robinson had been an early public endorser of Mr. Obama’s candidacy, and said he had helped serve as a liaison between the campaign and the gay community. He said he had called officials who work for Mr. Obama to share his dismay, and been told that Mr. Obama was trying to reach out to conservatives and give everybody a seat at the table.

“I’m all for Rick Warren being at the table,” Bishop Robinson said, “but we’re not talking about a discussion, we’re talking about putting someone up front and center at what will be the most watched inauguration in history, and asking his blessing on the nation. And the God that he’s praying to is not the God that I know.”

Robinson joins Bishop John Chane of Washington among Episcopal Church leaders who have criticized President-elect Brack Obama's choice. Warren is an ally of high profile African archbishops who are trying to break up the Episcopal Church and claim its property. An Episcopal church, Washington National Cathedral, is hosting Obama's inaugural prayer service.

Gene Robinson on Rachel Maddow Show

Tonight at 9 EST on MSNBC

Video: Bishop Gene Robinson talks to Rachel Maddow

Bishop Gene Robinson appeared last night on The Rachel Maddow Show. "No one had a bigger tent than Jesus," he said.

To watch the whole show download the January 14 Rachel Maddow show podcast from iTunes.

Presiding bishop accepts two bishops' renunciation of ministry

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has accepted written statements from retired Bishop William Wantland and Henry Scriven that they have renounced their ministries in the Episcopal Church.

Bishop Lee sets departure date

From the Diocese of Virginia
To read the entire release, click Read more

RICHMOND, Virginia (January 23, 2009) – The Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee announced today that on October 1, 2009, he will step down as bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, leaving the Diocese in the capable hands of his successor the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston.

In January 2006, Bishop Lee called for the election of his successor, and Bishop Johnston was elected and consecrated the next year. Under the canons of the Episcopal Church, a bishop must retire either by age 72 or no more than three years after the consecration of a bishop coadjutor; both dates occur in the next year.

In making the announcement, Bishop Lee said, “I cannot refer to these plans to leave the Diocese of Virginia without placing them in the context of thanksgiving for you, the clergy and the lay leadership of the Diocese of Virginia. I thank God daily for you and I am grateful for the privilege of serving among you.”
______________________

His announcement and reaction can be viewed at The Diocese's youtube channel.

Read more »

Ohio bishops support domestic-partner registry

Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The Cleveland City Council has picked up some welcome allies as it tangles with local religious leaders who want to repeal a recently passed domestic partner registry.

Last week, the Call & Post newspaper endorsed the registry, which could help same- and opposite-sex couples obtain privileges typically reserved for the married. It is expected to take effect this spring, but several pastors are studying ways to repeal the law through new legislation.
...
[C]himing in, with harsh words for opposing pastors, was the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio.

"While we affirm the right of any person in our democratic society to oppose the establishment of this registry, we are dismayed that clergy and others would use the Bible as their weapon of assault," Bishop Mark Hollingsworth Jr. wrote to council members in a Jan. 21 letter also signed by three assisting bishops.

Read the letter here, or below.

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Confusion about Bishop Scriven and renunciation

There seems to be some confusion about the status of Bishop Henry Scriven's status according to Thinking Anglicans.

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PB nominates Gulick as provisional bishop in Fort Worth

A press release from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth:

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori has recommended the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. "Ted" Gulick Jr., bishop of Kentucky, to be the provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. If elected by the special meeting of the convention of the diocese, Bp. Gulick will be installed during the meeting. Bishop Gulick will serve part time as he continues to serve as bishop of Diocese of Kentucky.

The special meeting of the convention of the diocese has been called for Saturday, Feb. 7, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 3401 Bellaire Drive S., Fort Worth, 76109, because the former bishop and some diocesan leaders have left the Episcopal Church and the diocese.

Delegates also will fill other diocesan vacancies, including members of the Standing Committee, deputies to General Convention and trustees of the Corporation for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Read more »

Bennison loses appeal

An Episcopal Church panel announced on Wednesday that it had upheld its decision to defrock a bishop from Pennsylvania for covering up his brother's sexual assaults of a teenage girl in the 1970s.

Read more »

Bishop of Maine speaks out against hate

The Rt. Rev. Stephen Lane of the Diocese of Maine writes an oped in the Portland Press Herald. Maine has had a series of racist and anti-Jewish acts recently. He states the Episcopal Church of Maine will stand against hate.

We live in an environment of increasing uncertainty and fear for the future. At times like these, it is not uncommon that our hearts turn in fear towards those who are different from us. That fear sometimes translates into violence, which in turn creates more fear.

Read more »

Happy anniversary, Bishop Harris

Bishop Barbara C. Harris, who recently celebrated the 20th anniversay of her consecration as the first female bishop in the Anglican Communion rates a passing mention and a nifty photo in this television review from The New York Times. Writer Ginia Bellafante points out that Bishop Harris' great-grandmother "was a slave who wound up in a confrontation with Gen. Ulysses S. Grant."

That the bishop had fiery ancestors will surprise no one who knows her.

The bishop also sat for an interview with Tracy J. Sukraw of the Diocese of Massachusetts. Of the troubles currently roiling the Communion she said:


I think the whole Windsor process is an overreaction, which leads me to talk about the covenant, which I don't believe we need. I think our baptismal covenant is sufficient. We certainly do not need a juridical covenant; but rather, if we must have one, then it ought to be more relational in nature than designed to punish. I think that the pastoral council that is being suggested is an added layer of ecclesiastical bureaucracy that we do not need. We need to simply trust each other that we are acting in the best interests of our respective provinces. Interventions and crossing provincial boundaries need to stop. That is not a solution to controversies within a province.

The controversies of the day are not anything new. Controversy has always been present in the life of the church from her earliest, earliest days. There is an introductory comment on Paul's letter to the Colossians in which it says: the unity, stability and survival of the church was threatened by doctrinal diversity. This is nothing new. I think of the centuries that it took to reach agreement on the doctrine of the Trinity. Some folk want us to settle complex issues without even delving into them in any meaningful depth. And I think that schism is real, because we have competing claims of orthodoxy and other claims that are cause for hostility and division. A covenant or a Windsor Report [is] not going to quell controversy.

Decoding letters from the former bishop of Pittsburgh

Lionel Deimel of the Episcopal Diocese of PIttsburgh has analyzed the latest letter from the former bishop of Pittsburgh, Robert Duncan. He notes that it is important to remember that Duncan calls his breakaway diocese The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and the legitimate Diocese the "new" diocese. Deimel writes:

Read more »

Bishop Lee speaks about changes in the communion

As reported earlier today in The Lead, when Bishop Peter James Lee retires from the Diocese of Virginia in the fall he will become interim dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

Read more »

Bishops blogging, March 13 - House of Bishops

The Rt. Rev. Wayne Smith, Bishop of Missouri, is blogging the House of Bishops meeting. He writes:

This afternoon I took a short course in blogging, offered again by the College for Bishops and led in this instance by Nicholas Knisely, dean of the cathedral in Phoenix and one of the pioneers in staking out a presence for the Episcopal Church on the web. (and member of the Cafe´staff, ed. note) It was very good, compressing a lot of information into a short period of time. So here I am, blogging again, as I am journeying once more on behalf of the Diocese of Missouri. Keeping in touch during these occasional pilgrimages is the purpose of blog, and I am trying to remain faithful.

Read more »

Bishops blogging, March 14 - House of Bishops

A daily roundup of what bishops are blogging from their meeting in Kanuga.

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Bishops blogging, March 15 - House of Bishops

Today the bishops are observing 24 hours of sabbath with their only commitment being to celebrate the Eucharist together. Saturday they heard presentations on the current state of the economy and the activities of the US Congress.

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Bishops blogging, March 16 - House of Bishops

The Bishops' Spring Meeting in Kanuga is settling into business sessions now that the educational segment has been completed. Sunday evening, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori gave her impressions of the Primates' meeting. Departing bishops, assessments, and the election in Northern Michigan were discussed, and the election of a bishop for Central Ecuador has begun.

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Violence in Sudan: the LRA strikes

I just had a call from Tom Bair, who is married to Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island. He and his wife visited the Diocese of Ezo in southern Sudan in December to begin a companion diocese relationship with the Church there. They've been in close contact with people in that diocese since their return.

This morning Tom got a call frmo Ezo saying that on Friday the Lord's Resistance Army attacked a village nine miles from Ezo, killing nine people and taking six hostages. This is the latest in a series of attacks that began late last year and have continued sporadically since then.

We've been able to locate a couple of media reports about the situation in the southern Sudan. Additionally, the Church of Sudan has a Web page with information about recent attacks. And here are some photos from Ezo.

Archbishop Daniel Deng has appealed to the government of the United Kingdom and to the Primates of the Anglican Communion of help. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's statement is here. The Episcopal Public Policy Network has also been active on this issue.

Bishops Blogging, March 17 House of Bishops

Bishop Dan Edwards, Nevada, post VI (Monday night):

...Tomorrow we will be discussing whether to consent to the consecration of the Bishop Elect of Northern Michigan. I know, like, and respect him. There are a couple of issues about liturgy that give me pause, but I still want to support him. I am afraid he will get nailed because of his Zen meditation practice and a general bias against the edgy way Northern Michigan operates. I pray it will go well.

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Fear Not: bishops issue pastoral letter on the economy

The bishops have concluded their Spring Meeting issuing a Pastoral Letter to the Episcopal Church and to mission partners around the world. They encourage the Church to rise above fear and offer hope, to reach out to those suffering from loneliness and anxiety, and to share our resources with one another:

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CDSP Professor of Liturgics on bishop elect of No. Michigan

Bishops and Standing Committees around the Episcopal Church have had many questions about The Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester, bishop elect of Northern Michigan. The primary questions are on his practice of Buddhist meditation, the process of his election, and his liturgical experimentation. The first two are addressed at the Diocesan website.

In regard to the last question some have questioned how he can fulfill the episcopal role of unity when he has been in the forefront of liturgical experimentation. One bishop said that Forrester understands the difference in roles and is fully ready to assume the duties as listed in the rite for the Ordination of a Bishop.

Dr. Louis Weil, professor of Liturgics at Church Divinity School of the Pacific writes to bishop-elect about his understanding of the how liturgy develops and changes in history, the current state of liturgy in churches, both Episcopal and others. Weil addresses the unity question with his interpretation of how unity can flow from the episcopacy, bringing the margins into dialogue with each other, therefore promoting deeper unity by transcending difference rather than enforcing uniformity:

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A bishop's case against Bishop-elect Thew Forrester

Bishop Tom Breidenthal of Southern Ohio, who cannot be dismissed as one of the usual suspects, has announced his decision to vote against the confirmation of the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester as Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan. He joins Bishop Greg Rickel of Olympia in the ranks of bishops who are not part of the conservative movement within the Church, but have voted against Thew Forrester's confirmation.

In a letter to his diocese, Breidenthal said he had "no problem" with Thew Forrester's involvement in Zen Buddhism, but expressed concerns over the nature of the search process in Northern Michigan, and the bishop-elect's Christology.

To read Bishop Breidenthals' letter, click Read more.

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Holmes Redding deposed

From The Seattle Times:

The Episcopal Church has defrocked Ann Holmes Redding, the Seattle Episcopal priest who announced in 2007 that she is both Christian and Muslim.

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Bishop-elect Kevin Thew Forrester speaks for himself

The Rev Kevin Thew Forrester, Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Northern Michigan, has released this statement in reference to questions about his views on Christology. Cafe readers have been discussing those views here.

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Further conversation about the bishop-elect of Northern Michigan's liturgies

Two weeks ago we published an essay by Louis Weil, a leading authority on liturgical practice in the Episcopal Church, which defended some of the apparently controversial liturgical practices of Kevin Thew Forrester, the bishop-elect of Northern Michigan.

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Bishop Kimsey responds to Bishop Breidenthal

The Lead earlier this month published the letter from The Rt. Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal (Southern Ohio) to his diocese regarding his decision not to consent to the consecration of Kevin Thew Forrester as Bishop of Northern Michigan. The Rt. Rev. Rustin R. Kimsey (Assisting Bishop for the Diocese of Alaska, The Fifth Bishop of Eastern Oregon, Retired, Assisting Bishop for the Episcopal Church in Navajoland, Retired) has written an open letter to Breidenthal. Kimsey writes,

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Accident?

The Easter message of Bishop Paul V. Marshall to the Diocese of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

If you look carefully at this picture of Grace, Allentown, Pennsylvania set up as an emergency shelter, especially at higher resolutions too big to reproduce here, there is something optically striking about the picture. Either deliberately or accidentally, the photographer (or his camera!) chose the sanctuary lamp as the focal point of the picture. The body of the lamp is the most sharply in-focus area of the picture and the tiny flame has a special intensity.

Grace%20Allentown%20pic.jpg

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Bishop Scarfe on the Iowa ruling

A Pastoral Response to the Iowa State Supreme Court Ruling on Equal Marriage from Alan Scarfe, Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Iowa:

Good Friday 2009

The recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling has opened civil marriage for same-sex couples in the state of Iowa on the constitutional principle of equal protection under the law. This ruling clarifies for me what the issue is that is facing the Church. Like so many who support the rights of gay and lesbian people, I thought civil unions would provide adequate protection for their relationships. I began to see things differently as I heard the arguments presented in court several months ago.
...
The Supreme Court’s ruling broadens the legal definition of marriage beyond that which is currently stated in the Canons of the Church or the Prayer Book which contains our authorized services. Further, the Prayer Book requires compliance with both the laws of the State and the canons of the Church. But the Church’s definition of the sacrament of marriage and the state’s definition of the legal form of marriage now differ. In spite of the good intentions many may have, I am unable to permit Episcopal clergy to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Couples wishing prayers and a blessing therefore must go first to the state to be married or a priest may ask a state official to provide for the vows and the signing of the license.

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+Lane of Maine to testify for marriage equality

Just received from the Diocese of Maine:

To the Ordained and Lay Leaders of the Diocese of Maine

After considerable reflection I have decided to add my voice to the testimony being offered at the legislative hearing to be held by the Judiciary Committee on April 22, 2009 concerning L.D. 1020, "An Act To End Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom." As my presence is required elsewhere that day, Canon Heidi Shott will read the testimony in my stead.

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Support for bishop elect of Northern Michigan

Although most bishops and Standing Committees have voted to consent or not consent to the election of Kevin Thew Forrester for bishop of the Diocese of Northern Michigan, his supporters are offering more letters of support for why he should receive consent.

From the Vestry of St. Paul's in Marquette letter of support.

We cannot emphasize enough how this exceptional man has quietly and consistently expanded our spiritual lives as a Christian community. So it is especially painful for us to watch while others malign him during this consent process. He is one of us, and every unfair personal attack on our beloved Bishop Elect inflicts a deep wound on each of us, who we are, what we have worked to achieve, and how we wish to fulfill God’s promise and love in our diocese.

And a letter from the Rev. Geoffrey Howson of Fairview, PA, received by The Lead below:

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Tarrant elected bishop of South Dakota

ENS reports:

The Very Rev. John Tarrant was elected on May 9 to serve as bishop coadjutor (bishop with right of succession) of the Diocese of South Dakota.

Consider the anableps, how it sees

Search profiles the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori and recounts the story of her movement from a career in science to her vocation in the church and how the two intertwine.

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Bishop of Ohio's remarks on domestic partner registry

From the Diocese of Ohio:

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+Gene on Larry King Show tonight

The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, bishop of New Hampshire sends this note:

Just a quick message to alert you that I will appear on the Larry King Show tonight at 9:00pm Eastern to talk about the Prop 8 ruling. Prayers are appreciated!

Bishop Robinson participates in Larry King panel

Last night Bishop Gene Robinson was one of several panelists discussing gay marriage on Larry King Live. From TVEyes we have a video clip and a transcript, both found here. If you run the clip you'll find -- contrary to the transcript -- that he did not say "one of the things I love [about The Episcopal Church is] we are not asked to leave our brains at the door. we are asked to use our brains interpret scripture. If we want to look at the baseball as a whole piece, that message is that God is love. and in the end, I believe that God's love will win out."

The word was "Bible", not "baseball." (The fact remains The Episcopal Church is the official church of baseball.)

Thew Forrester's chances dim

We have stopped charting every twist and turn in the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester's saga, but this development reported by Frank Lockwood seems significant:

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Nedi Rivera called to serve as bishop in Eastern Oregon

Bishop Rivera, suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Olympia, has been asked to serve as a part-time provisional bishop in the Diocese of Eastern Oregon. Eastern Oregon has been without a bishop since the resignation of Bishop William Gregg in 2007.

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Secret theology committee studies same sex relationships

UPDATE: Chicago Consultation calls for release of names of scholars studying same sex relationships. Also response from Integrity. See below.
------
The House of Bishops Theology Committee is refusing to release the names of members of a sub-committee it has appointed to study same-sex relationships. The existence of the panel was first reported in the Blue Book, which contains information relevant to General Convention, 2009. However, the Rt. Rev. Henry Parsley of Alabama, chair of the Theology Committee has refused several requests to disclose the names of its members.

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Theology committee controversy: Bishop Parsley responds

By the Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley, Jr.
Chair, Theology Committee of the House of Bishops:

In response to questions that have been raised about the panel of theologians appointed by the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops to prepare a paper on same-sex relationships in the life of the church, I wish to assure those concerned that the panel very intentionally represents a robust range of views on the subject and includes gay and lesbian persons.

This project has been designed in full communication with the House of Bishops. It has always been the committee’s intention to publish the names of the panel when the work has reached the appropriate stage. We believe that for a season the work can best be accomplished by allowing the panel to work in confidence. This supports the full collegiality and academic freedom of the theologians and provides the space they need for the deep dialogue and reflection that is taking place among them.

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Bishops of Ohio speak out on state budget

Bishops Mark Hollingsworth and Thoms Breidnethal of the Dioceses of Ohio and Southern Ohio, respectively, have written an op-ed article on the state's efforts to balance its budget.

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Kevin Thew Forrester's election reportedly fails

The Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester cannot receive enough votes from standing committees in the Episcopal Church to be consecrated as bishop of Northern Michigan according to a tally kept by an Arkansas reporter who has been in contact with all of the Church's 110 dioceses as well as the Convocation in Europe.

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Schrute to help bishops staff secret theology committee

The House of Bishops Theology Committee has retained Dwight K. Schrute to help screen candidates for the secret theology committee on same-sex marriage according to interview notes leaked to Episcopal Café. The interview subject is Pam Beesley, a receptionist at a fictitious mid-sized paper company in the Diocese of Bethlehem.

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Trusting in a bishop's fairness

There's a lovely little story this weekend about the service that Bishop William Lawrence performed during a serious labor dispute back in the first decade of the last century. It was dispute between a newspaper publisher and a union that centered on wages. Bishop Lawrence was asked to service as an arbitrator in the dispute.

The interesting bit of the story was the bishop's observation that what mattered in the settling of the dispute was not the solution per se, but that the arbitrator had the trust of both sides.

"My decision met with approval on both sides. As a matter of fact, I judge that if in such a case both parties have confidence in the good sense, fairness, and intelligence of the arbiter, they are content, even if things do not go altogether as they wish.”

Do you think this is still true in the secular world today? Any chance that our bishop's could still serve in such a role in a community dispute?

How about in the church?

What does the failure to consent to an election tell us?

Late Thursday last week, the news was released that the Diocese of Bethlehem's Standing Committee had voted to decline to consent to the election of the next bishop of Northern Michigan. With that vote, it became apparent that Thew Forrester would not be confirmed as the new bishop.

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Who in the world is Leo Frade?

The Miami Herald follows the story of The Rev. Alberto Cutié (KOO'-tee-ay) with a report on the bishop who received Cutie´into the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Leo Frade (frah-day).

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To the House of Bishops Theology Committee: Repent!

Christopher Evans writes:


I would suggest that this recent action on the part of the House of Bishops Theology Committee demonstrates once again that our Churches’ cultures are in need of conversion. Conversion means rejecting “habits, behaviors, ideas, and attitudes” that demonstrate undignified treatment of and hostility toward lgbt members of Christ’s own Body.

More below the fold...

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Bishop Chane on the shooting at the Holocaust Museum

Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington released the following statement on the fatal shooting yesterday at the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum:

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PB announces Bishops McBurney and Bane have renounced vows

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has notified the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops that she has accepted the renunciation of vows by Williams MacBurney, the former bishop of Quincy and David Bane, the former bishop of southern Virginia. Both men have joined breakaway Anglican churches. (via email)

UPDATE: The ENS story about this development is posted here.

Nashotah House professor appointed to "secret panel"

According to The Missioner, Pentecost 2009 issue (page 3), the publication of Nashotah House Seminary:

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Interview with the new Primus of Scotland

Wonder what it's like to be an Episcopalian in Scotland? Wonder what lessons the Scottish church might mark from the American experience?

The new Primate of the Scottish Episcopal Church discusses these questions and more in a 15 minute (or so) audio interview posted here.

Have a listen.

PB replies to question about secret panel

From Of Course I Could Be On Vacation blog:

From Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori‏
_________@episcopalchurch.org
Sent: Tue 6/23/09 12:18 PM

"Dear Mr. Roberts,

Thank you for your query. I regret the length of time this response has taken – I have been traveling and out of the office much of June.

I regret that you have been somewhat misinformed about the work of the House of Bishops Theology Committee. My understanding is that they have asked several theologians to write a paper or papers, as consultants to the Theology Committee. When a document is ready for public comment, I expect they will make public the names of their consulting theologians. I would invite you to compare this to the academic environment, where results and papers are not publicized until they are ready for public comment and review.

If you are still concerned, I would invite you to write directly to Bp. Parsley, who chairs the Committee.

May your ministry be a blessing to many. I remain

Your servant in Christ,

Katharine Jefferts Schori

Bishops seek "pastoral generosity" in addressing same-sex marriage

Episcopal bishops in the six states that have legalized same-sex marriage are asking the Church's General Convention to "permit the adaptation of the Pastoral Offices for The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage and The Blessing of a Civil Marriage for use with all couples who seek the church's support and God's blessing in their marriages."

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A few words from Bishop Lane before General Convention

Maine's bishop, Steve Lane, uses YouTube to offer a few words to Maine Episcopalians in advance of General Convention. Perhaps your bishop could follow his example if he or she has not already done so.

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Not so secret theology committee: six of eight names now known

Lisa Fox, who blogs at My Manner of Life, has the names of six of the eight members of the secret panel that the House of Bishops Theology Committee assembled to study same-sex relationships.

Bishop Henry Parsley, chair of the commitee, has refused to release the names, but, as Lisa writes, it is hard to keep secrets in a small church.

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Bishop of Bethlehem on religion, culture and the 4th of July

The Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem:

I hope I would have made the radical choice we now take for granted, two centuries later, that government is of, by and for the people.

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Bishop Coadjutor writes Diocese of Virginia

The Diocese of Virginia has released letters from its three bishops. The bishop coadjutor, Shannon Johnston will become diocesan in October of this year. Below is his letter. All three letters can be read here. (A related editorial in the Richmond Times Dispatch is here.)
__________

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Bishop biking, not flying

Eight cyclists including led by biking enthusiast Bishop Mark Hollingsworth of the Diocese of Ohio left Anaheim on the closing day of General Convention. Destination: 815. Mission: Episcopal Relief and Development and NetsforLife®.

ENS reports they arrived in one piece -- more or less -- and have accomplished their objectives.

Hollingsworth and his team share billing with other bike-a-thons in this story from the Examiner.

+Lee: 2-track system "doesn't contribute to holding people together"

The Washington Post has reactions to the reflections of the Rowan Williams to the recent actions of General Convention. Among those interviewed are the Bishop of Virginia the Rt. Rev. Peter Lee, and the leader of CANA the Right Rev. Martyn Minns.

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Los Angeles announces nominees for suffragan bishop

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has posted news of the nominees for the election of two bishops suffragan:

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Episcopal bishops on "State of Belief"

Bishops Gene Robinson and Jane Holmes Dixon joined the Rev. Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance this week on his radio program State of Belief. The topic, as you may have guessed, was the Episcopal Church's recently concluded General Convention.

Durham Bull, 2

Colin Coward of Changing Attitude continues his critique of Anglican bully boy N. T Wright, the Bishop of Durham:

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Bishop Andrus has answers

The San Francisco Chronicle interviewed Bishop Marc Andrus and published his answers to their three questions this weekend.

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Bishops disagree on release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi

Three points of view on the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

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Akinola’s primacy lauded in Nigerian press

A rather over the top article was run in "The Nation" a Nigerian newspaper over the weekend.

The article begins:

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Bishops care about health care


Bishops Working for a Just World to lobby for health-care reform

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Bishop Smith nominated for election to Louisiana

June Butler (Grandmère Mimi) posted news that Bishop Michael Smith, the present bishop of North Dakota, and one of the seven bishops who recently traveled to Lambeth Palace to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury, has been entered the discernment process for the upcoming election in the Diocese of Louisiana where Bishop Charles Jenkins is retiring.

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Benhase elected bishop of Georgia

The Rev. Scott A. Benhase, rector of St. Alban's Church in Washington, D. C., has been elected Bishop of Georgia on the second ballot.

Scott is my rector. I am delighted for him. But I am going to miss him. Nonetheless: Congratulations, Scott. Way to go.

Georgia Bishop-Elect: the trick is to stay in the agitated middle

The Rev. Scott Benhase was elected on Saturday at the annual convention of the Diocese of Georgia to serve as its next Bishop. The election, with six candidates, took two ballots.

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Bishop Frade of SE Florida authorizes same sex blessings

Doug LeBlanc writing in The Living Church reports:

... the Rt. Rev. Leo Frade, Bishop of Southeast Florida, has authorized his clergy to provide pastoral blessings—but not to preside over same-sex weddings—within about a month.

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Bishop Andrus faces prostate cancer

The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus (California) discloses on his weblog that he has prostate cancer:

The biopsy showed that cancer was present, “low grade.” My age (young for prostate cancer) and some features of the cancer, however, pushed strongly towards a surgical treatment.

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Bishops lobby Congress on social justice

Episcopal News Service reports that a group of Episcopal Bishops fanned out across Capitol Hill on Wednesday to make the case for health care and immigration reform, and stricter environmental protection.

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Bishop Shannon Johnston will lead from the center

The Richmond Magazine has an interview with the soon-be-bishop of Virginia, The Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston.

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Bishop Steven Charleston resigns

The Diocese of California reports:

The Rt Rev Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, announced today that he has accepted the resignation of the Rt Rev Steven Charleston as assistant bishop.

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Bishop Andrus in and out of hospital

The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, who recently had prostate surgery, reports that he was in and out of the hospital again this weekend:

During a 15-hour stay in the emergency department at UCSF it was determined that a blood clot had broken away from veins in my lower left calf and made its way into my lungs – I had an extensive pulmonary embolism, with one large clot in the pulmonary artery, and smaller ones branching out through the lungs. I was eventually admitted to the hospital, after being put on blood thinners, and was discharged on Sunday evening.

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A Peter Selby review

Bishop Peter Selby's rejection of the Anglican Covenant has struck a very resonant chord. Thinking Anglicans has a roundup of reactions.

Will women defect from the C of E?

With the question of the ministry of female bishops seeming to have lost some traction recently in the Church of England, can some defections to other provinces be in the offing?

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Breaking: Ian Douglas elected Bishop of Connecticut

http://twitter.com/EpiscopalCT:
Douglas has accepted. I am humbled, I am honored, and I accept. #epct
3 minutes ago from TweetDeck

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Bishop Adams of Western KS to leave his post

We have received an email reporting the end of the episcopate of The Rt. Rev. James Adams, bishop of the Diocese of Western Kansas.

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