Just what did he say?

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

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

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

In Christ,

Peter.

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

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

Read the whole thing at Preludium.

Troubled by Washington Post columnist

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

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

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

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

The Reverend Will Scott
Associate Pastor
Grace Cathedral


Click HERE to read more of Yearns and Groans.

Southern Africa: Archbishop calls for reconciliation in the Holy Land

Drawing on experiences of reconciliation in his homeland, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, has added his voice to the call for justice and a lasting peace in the Holy Land, Episcopal News Service reports today.

"It is impossible to remember events of 40 years ago in the Holy Land, and reflect on all that has happened since, without being deeply moved at the scale of this human tragedy and the continuing heartbreak across the region," Ndungane said in a June 4 statement.

"Our God is also the God of hope -- so we dare to pray for a future where Jews, Muslims and Christians enjoy peace as brothers and sisters together, where occupation and oppression cease, where violence and fighting end, and where everyone can live without fear, in security, and experience the true freedom and abundant life for which we were each created," he added.

Ndungane has been one of the Anglican Communion's leading voices on issues of justice and reconciliation since he was elected to lead Southern Africa's Anglican Church in 1996.

"If we have learned anything at all from our experiences in South Africa, surely it is this: that the only lasting solution to any conflict must come through a process of reconciliation that paves the way for a future built upon justice, where former antagonists can find true freedom, peace and prosperity together, and where each is served by, and therefore promotes, the flourishing of the other."


Read it all HERE

"A North American Anglican Coalition"

Update: the Church of Uganda, where Canon Atwood's Ekklesia Society has been active for years, has endorsed his consecration. Expect the Southern Cone, where he served as chaplain to the Primate, to do likewise.

Kendall Harmon provides this email from the Archbishop of Kenya:

FROM THE ARCHBISHOP OF THE ANGLICAN CHURCH OF KENYA

RE: CONSECRATION OF THE REVD. CANON DR. BILL ATWOOD AS SUFFRAGAN BISHOP ON THURSDAY 30TH AUGUST, 2007

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ.

God in His mercy has granted us a great salvation in Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit. The foundations of that faith have been celebrated and shared through many centuries and cultures. In particular, we rejoice in the godly Christian heritage of this faith that we have received in the Anglican Communion.

Now, the fabric of the Anglican Communion has been torn by the actions of The Episcopal Church. The damage has been exacerbated by the failure of the House of Bishops there to provide for the care called for in the Windsor Report and to reject the Pastoral Council offered through the Primates in their Communiqué from Dar es Salaam.

Tragically, the Episcopal Church has refused to provide adequate care for the faithful who continue steadfastly in “the faith once delivered to the saints.” Following months of consultation with other provinces, the Anglican Church of Kenya is taking steps to provide for the care of churches under our charge.

As a part of a broader and coordinated plan with other provinces, the ACK will consecrate The Revd Canon Dr. Bill Atwood as Suffragan bishop of All Saints Cathedral Diocese, Nairobi of the ACK to support the international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya, including support of Kenyan clergy and congregations in North America.

Our goal is to collaborate with faithful Anglicans (including those in North America who are related with other provinces). A North American Anglican Coalition can provide a safe haven for those who maintain historic Anglican faith and practice, and offer a way to live and work together in the furtherance of the Gospel.

Yours sincerely,
The Most Rev. Rev. Benjamin Nzimbi
ARCHBISHOP OF KENYA &
BISHOP OF ALL SAINTS CATHEDRAL DIOCESE

Our previous coverage is here.

Coup d'Eglise

How did the Primates suddenly emerge as possible final arbiters of the definition of Anglicanism, moving from a non-existence to ascendancy? What has happened in the years between 1979 when they held their first meeting until today? These are the questions that The Rev. Francis (Frank) H. Wade, former chaplain to the House of Deputies and retired priest in the Diocese of Washington answers in his essay in The Living Church, Coup d'Elise:

In 1851, French President Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte seized dictatorial powers that eventually allowed him to become Emperor Napoleon III, the last monarch of France. His actions gave currency to the term coup d’ètat, literally “strike the state,” which has described political takeovers from that day to this.

The parallel phrase coup d’èglise (strike the church) has not made it into the common lexicon but may be the only way to accurately describe the lightning ascendancy of the primates of the Anglican Communion. From their first meeting in 1979 to their asserted role in the proposed Anglican Covenant, the group has moved from non-existence to centrality. This may or may not be what the Anglican Communion needs; it may or may not be what every devoted Anglican wants; it may or may not be the leading of the Holy Spirit; but we should all know that it is happening.

For most of its history the Anglican Communion lived with three basic facts of life: The members had a common root in the Church of England, a common focal point in the Archbishop of Canterbury, and common mission on a selective basis. A common doctrinal base was assumed but basically unexamined.

The idea of ecumenicity in the late 19th century led to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, which was as close as the Communion ever came to formal doctrinal expression. The Quadrilateral was so broad that it was said that when we speak neither the pope nor the premier of China can say for certain they are not Anglicans.

This hazy sense of communion lasted until the emergence of indigenous leaders in the post-colonial church brought pre-existing differences of perspective and orientation into clarity and conflict. These differences became an Anglican crisis when the American and Canadian provinces gave tangible expression to a faithfully developed, but to many intolerable, view of human sexuality. That crisis provided the platform for the primates’ move to power.


Read the rest here.

GS primates reacting to news

From the Church of Nigeria:

A statement from Archbishop Peter J. Akinola

I have received news of the proposed consecration of Canon Bill Atwood as Suffragan Bishop of All Saints Cathedral Diocese, Nairobi, in the Anglican Church of Kenya, to serve Kenyan related congregations in North America. Canon Atwood has worked tirelessly throughout the Communion for the sake of the Gospel and is well known to many of us in the Church of Nigeria.
...
We look forward to working with Archbishop Nzimbi, Bishop-elect Atwood and this new pastoral initiative from the Anglican Church of Kenya. We pledge our ongoing prayers and enthusiastic support and cooperation through CANA – a missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria already established in North America.

Is this a case of "if you've got lemons, then make lemonade"?

Read it all here.

From the Church of Uganda (source):

Statement from the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi,
Archbishop of the Church of Uganda

The Church of Uganda welcomes the announcement of the consecration of The Revd Canon Dr. Bill Atwood as Suffragan Bishop of All Saints Cathedral Diocese in the Anglican Church of Kenya. Canon Atwood is a long time friend and partner of the Church of Uganda. In these difficult days in the Communion, we recognize that measures must be taken to provide for the care of those orthodox Anglicans in America who remain faithful to the Bible.

Roundup: Church of Kenya calls a bishop for North America

A review of the last 24 hours

Jonathan Petre reports in The Daily Telegraph that "A powerful coalition of conservative Anglican leaders is preparing to create a parallel Church for conservatives in America in defiance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, provoking the biggest split in Anglican history."

George Conger reports in The Living Church, "The Aug. 30 consecration of Canon Atwood as 'Suffragan Bishop of All Saints' Cathedral Diocese, Nairobi” is 'part of a broader and coordinated plan with other provinces,' Archbishop Nzimbi said on June 12, to 'support the international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya, including support of Kenyan clergy and congregations in North America.' "

Kendall Harmon posts Archbishop Nzimbi's email.

The Archbishops of Nigeria and Uganda issue statements of support for the new initiative.

The Anglican Communion Network issues ahttp://www.acn-us.org/archive/2007/06/network-welcomes-kenyas-decision-to-care-for-us-anglicans.html statement:

The leadership of the Anglican Communion Network welcomed news that the Anglican Province of Kenya has elected The Rev. Canon Bill Atwood Suffragan Bishop of the All Saints Cathedral Diocese in Nairobi. Among other duties, Bishop-elect Atwood will be initially supporting Kenyan clergy and congregations in North America. He joins Bishop Bill Cox of the Southern Cone as another domestic bishop cooperating in ministry with the Network....
As of post time, there was nothing on the Global South website.

CANA issues a statement. And Bishop Iker. Thanks to Thinking Anglicans for these two pointers.

Thinking Anglicans, as always, provides a fine roundup with supplementary links.

Further analysis available in The Church of England Daily for June 13, Drell's Descants, and The Times.

So in addtion to AMiA and CANA we now have NAAC. Just what the background story is has not yet been revealed.

Christian Association of Nigeria elects new president

Archbishop Peter Akinola of the Anglican Church of Nigeria will hand over leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria. John Onayeikan, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja was elected president by a vote of 72 to 33 by delegates to the National Executive Council of CAN. The BusinessDAY report concludes, "the 304 member General Assembly of CAN is expected to ratify the election at its July 5 to July 6 meeting."

See also this allAfrica report.

Earlier reports suggested that Akinola had made a vigorous attempt to remain at the head of CAN. According to Sun News:

Constitutionally, the contest for the Presidency of CAN is limited to members who are Spiritual Heads or Leaders not below the rank of a Bishop or its equivalent with not less than 15 years record with his church denomination.

Candidates for CAN Presidency must also represent one of the established five church groups.

However, the contest has turned into a battle of will as the incumbent, Right Reverend Peter Jasper Akinola, allegedly changed the date of election to favour his candidacy.

The election of the National President of CAN is supposed to end with the ratification of one of the two candidates by the National Assembly of CAN after NEC must have voted in favour of the candidate.

The election of the two candidates who made the list of the Electoral College by the NEC of CAN was to take place on the 6th of July.

But Right Reverend Akinola, who is one of the two contestants and primate of the Anglican Church, is said to have rescheduled the election of CAN President back from the original 6th of July to the 19th of June when Onaiyekan is already scheduled to be in Rome attending a conference of World Catholic Bishops.

The Sun News report also includes criticism of Akinola's relationship with Nigeria's government:
“The truth is that this man [Akinola] did not represent CAN well while Obasanjo [Nigeria's previous strongman] was there. He was not talking. If we now make him President and he now decides to talk, our Moslem brothers will say 'Okay, you did not talk when your brother was there, why are you saying all these now?'

“The man CAN needs now is somebody who has been consistent, who the world knows speaks out when things go bad,” a PFN chieftain told Sunday Sun.

Angered by the humiliation of the church by Obasanjo while in Office, some members believe now is the time to brace up and defend the honour of the church.

In competition in the same mission field, it is not clear however that the Anglicans and Catholics are that far apart in terms of theology. See this Washington Post report.

Confidence begins to slip?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Davis Mac-Iyalla's American tour

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

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.

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?

New Primate in the Sudan

The Episcopal Church of the Sudan elected a new primate yesterday. The Rt. Rev. Daniel Deng Bul of the Diocese of Renk will succeed Archbishop Marona as the next leader of Anglicans in the Sudan.

According to the Episcopal News Service:

"Deng was elected February 14 on the first ballot out of a field of three nominees during an emergency General Synod at All Saints Cathedral in Juba, Sudan.

'It is a big day filled with exitement in Juba,' said Emmanuel Sserwadda, the Episcopal Church's partnership officer for Africa who is attending the February 13-15 Synod.

The 75 voting delegates included bishops, clergy and laity, and a two-thirds majority of 50 votes was required to elect the new archbishop. The other candidates were Bishop Ezekiel Kondo of Khartoum and Bishop Francis Loyo of Rokoni.

Deng recieved 39 votes, Loyo 21 and Kondo 15. Kondo was eliminated and before the Synod could proceed to the second ballot, Loyo withdrew and asked all delegates to support Deng.

Deng's enthronement will be held at All Saints Cathedral in Juba on April 20."

Later in the article it is reported that:

According to the Diocese of Chicago's Commission on Global Ministry, Deng received a Theology Certificate from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1997, and returned to guide the Diocese of Renk in a direction of self-sufficiency by starting schools at all levels, training programs for women, agriculture, fishing, and poultry projects. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and several U.S. Episcopalians from Chicago and Virginia traveled to Renk on February 28, 2006 for the historic consecration of the diocese's new cathedral.

"Archbishop-elect Deng has promised to work with all partners that are willing to support the Episcopal Church of the Sudan," said Sserwadda.

Read the rest here.

New primate for Tanzania

Bishop Valentino L. Mokiwa of the Diocese of Dar es Salaam has been elected primate of Tanzania, according to Episcopal News Service.

Mokiwa will succeed Archbishop Donald Leo Mtetemela, who has served as primate since 1998 and will retire on May 25.

The election took place in Dodoma on February 28 during a special session of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Tanzania. Synod members came from Tanzania's 21 Anglican dioceses, with each diocese being asked to send five delegates -- a diocesan bishop, two clergy and two lay persons. Two dioceses -- Zanzibar and South West Tanganyika -- that are currently without a bishop sent only clergy and lay delegates.

Archbishop-elect Mokiwa will be installed in Dodoma on May 25.

The ENS story is here.

Church unity in Canada

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church has made a statement about the departure of several parishes from Anglican Church of Canada (hot on the heels of talks breaking down in Ontario)--and made it available through a videocast on the web. In it, he states that the Canadian Church is still "vibrant and united in its witness to the Gospel message," according to a release that accompanied the video. And while some people decide to leave, many many more remain committed to the Church live in the Anglican tradition of worshiping and living "together gracefully with difference."

The video is also available with the accompanying release here.

A statement from the Province of West Africa

Anglican Communion News has the text of a statement released by the Anglican "Church of the Province of West Africa on the state of the Anglican Communion". The statement reiterates the Province's objections to the actions being taken by other Anglican Provinces in ordaining partnered gays and lesbians and in allowing the blessing of the unions. But the statement is notable for what it does not say.

Rather than insist on discipline for the Provinces described in the statement, the call is rather that all parties "tread very cautiously" in these moments. Additionally the statement closes by calling all parties to refrain from intemperate "name-calling", pointing out that such behavior is only making things more difficult.

It's probably also noteworthy that while the Primate of West Africa was among those who refused to take communion with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Dar es Salaam, this statement does not describe the Province as being out of communion with the Provinces with whom it is in disagreement.

The full statement follows:

Read more »

A new province: who makes the call?

The Living Church asserts in an article today that the power to recognize new provinces within the Anglican Communion rests with the Primates. This statement, at a minimum, seems debatable.

Section 3 of the constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council begins as follows: The Council shall be constituted with a membership according to the schedule hereto. With the assent of two-thirds of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, the council may alter or add to the schedule.

The operative word there would seem to be may. May is permissive. Must is mandatory. The council is not required to accede to the Primates' request.

Beyond that, lies the question of whether this section of the constitution can sensibly be applied to a situation such as the one developing in North America in which conservatives are attempting to carve a non-geographic province from the territory of existing provinces against those provinces' wills. If such a maneuver is permitted then Anglican provinces are not autonomous, as is frequently asserted, but subject to being divided into pieces at any time for any reason by the Primates and the ACC. Membership in such an organization would seem to have more risks than rewards, unless one belonged to the party holding the carving knife.

Whatever the case, the Primates will have an influential role to play in legitimizing a new province. I don't think two-thirds of the Primates of the 39 churches on the ACC schedule of membership will vote to recognize a new non-geographic province in North America--The precedent would have staggering implications, creating a Communion in which the only way to guarantee one's survival would be to attempt to carve up adversarial provinces. Of course we may already be living in such a Communion and simply not realize it yet.--but I haven't done a complete counting of noses.

Based on my limited information, I'd say the provinces certain to vote against (corrected) a new North American province are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Central America, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Scotland, the United States and Wales. (I don't include England because I think the leadership of the Church of England is largely antagonistic toward the Episcopal Church, and the United States.)

Those I'd say unlikely to vote to recognize a new province are: Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Southern Africa. However, I don't know much about the Asian churches.

I don't know where Melanesia stands. I think it is likely that almost all of the African churches will be pressured into recognizing the new province by Peter Akinola and the North Americans who are bankrolling this movement. Some have already done so. Central Africa has no primate, and I don't know whether the bishop currently running the province would be allowed to make a commitment of this magnitude.

I'd love to hear from others who may have better intelligence than I do on this issue.

The Anglican Consultative Council seems a less hospitable arena for this proposal than the Primates' Meeting because the American right has not cultivated its members as assiduously as it has cultivated the Primates, but that is a story for another day.

Read more »

Williams on the dangers of speaking harshly of others

At the conclusion of the first day of the Primates meetings in Alexandria, Archbishop Rowan Williams delivered the sermon at a service celebrating the dedication of St. Mark's pro-Cathedral. Ruth Gledhill has transcribed the sermon which can be heard here. An extract:

Our work may or may not be successful and yet God remains faithful. And so as we turn to one another it also changes how we see each other. The person sitting next to me praying next to me is someone in whom Jesus is praying. I try to listen to the voice of Jesus at prayer in them. I try to see the force and energy of Jesus's life in them.

And when I try to make dismiss them or make little of them when I speak harshly to them or about them I am in danger of destroying that place which is a place where Jesus is.

Many are interpreting these words as intended not just for the congregation of St.Mark's, but for the primates and for the Anglican Communion.

Alexandria, day 2: Aspinall reports on covenant discussion

The primates got down to business on day 2, and there are several reports mostly drawing of the end of day news conference given by the primates' media spokesperson, the Most Rev. Philip Aspinall, Archbishop of Australia.

Matthew Davies (ENS) reports:

Aspinall said there had been a "general warming" to the idea of a covenant, but acknowledged that there was "increasing realism" among the primates about what a covenant can and can't do. "We're probably pulling back from language about sanctions and teeth," he said, noting that there had been lots of discussion about a framework for "koinonia" -- a Greek word that refers to the relationships of communion.

"If there is a failure in communion, then there needs to be more of an investment" in relationships, Aspinall said. "There is a pulling back from stick-over-the-head sanctions and a move towards deeper relationships of what will make a covenant work."

Riazat Butt (The Guardian) writes:
Aspinall, however, indicated that the primates, at least, were softening their position and recognising the disadvantages to a strident covenant.
...
The only sanction that could be applied was not being invited to a meeting, he added.

On Tuesday the primates will receive a report from the group charged with proposing solutions to disagreements over same-sex blessings, cross-border interventions and ordination of homosexuals to the episcopate.

ACNS, and, moreover, has the 50 minute press conference in audio. Aspinall said the provinces were asked how a covenant would be introduced in their province. Using his local context as an example -- he said it was not dissimilar to other provinces -- Aspinall said any covenant would most likely be adopted via a resolution of Australia's General Synod (rather than through the constitution or by canon) "but then it would have no legal force." He said the "pulling back" he was referring to was the sense coming out of Lambeth 2008, but he acknowledged not all primates were prepared to move in that direction.

On sanctions Aspinall also said there was a "workability" issue, that there a report in Church of England that it was "constitutionally impossible to grant authority to an outside body." (Emphasis added.)

The press conference ended with questions about the instruments of communion and the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Aspinall said, the primates were grappling with how to adapt the instruments so they could be responsive in a timely way.

Want more? Thinking Anglicans is maintaining a rather complete and updated summary of reports on the meeting.

Colin Coward of Changing Attitudes is in Alexandria. He senses that the primates, including the African primates, are ready to move on. He writes,

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Primates call on Mugabe to resign

During their third day of meetings in Alexandria the primates of the Anglican Communion issued a statement on Zimbabwe. An extract:

There appears to be a total disregard for life, consistently demonstrated by Mr Mugabe through systematic kidnap, torture and the killing of Zimbabwean people. The economy of Zimbabwe has collapsed, as evidenced by the use of foreign currencies in an independent state.

We therefore call upon President Robert Mugabe to respect the outcome of the elections of 2008 and to step down. We call for the implementation of the rule of law and the restoration of democratic processes.

We request that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chair of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, in consultation with the Church of the Province of Central Africa, commission a Representative to go to Zimbabwe to exercise a ministry of presence and to show solidarity with the Zimbabwean people. We also request the President of the All Africa Conference of Churches and the Chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa to facilitate a meeting with the African Union president and other African political leaders (especially those of SADC) to highlight the plight of the Zimbabwean peoples.

Read the full statement at ACNS.

A response from Anglican Information (via email):

Anglican-Information observes that the clear statement that the Primates do not recognise the status of Bishops Nolbert Kunonga (Harare) and Elson Jakazi (Manicaland) represents a huge step forward and endorses the heroic work led by Bishop Sebastian Bakare on the part of the Province of Central Africa in attempting to reclaim the dioceses of Harare and Manicaland. We have long chronicled the terrible intimidation and violence on the part of Mugabe backed Nolbert Kunonga and pray that this statement may give heart to those who have been at the receiving end of his atrocities.

Anglican Information says it is an encouraging sign that the Primates have been able to tear themselves away from arguments about sexuality, at least for a while, and find a unity of Anglican Communion purpose. It is ironic that it has taken so much suffering to achieve this.

Primates' meeting reports and responses

After issuing their statement on the horror that is occurring in Zimbabwe and calling for the resignation of President Robert Mugabe, the Primates spent time on the Windsor Continuation Group report. The experiences of The Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba and The Rt. Rev. Albert Chama are here.

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Sudan Archbishop to Primates: do not abandon us

According to Episcopal News Service Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul called on the Anglican Communion "not to abandon the people of Sudan in this time of danger and uncertainty,"

Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul appealed to his fellow primates February 4 saying that the Church in Sudan needs "urgent support for the work of relief, rehabilitation and resettlement."

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Primates meeting drawing to a close

The Primates of the Anglican Communion have thus far refrained from committing news at their meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, and that is all to the good. But there is still one day to go.

As we've noted, yesterday's news conference focused primarily on the situation in Sudan. Audio is available online from the Anglican Communion office. Colin Coward and Brenda Harrison have done invaluable work on the Changing Attitude blog, which is also worth a look.

The report the Primates received on enhancing the Communion's relief and development efforts is online. As Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Australia noted, it is "not a proposal to establish a new super agency." The Primates also received a report on global warming that got very short shrift at the press conference.

There are two issues worth clearing up. Archbishop Daniel Deng of Sudan said under questioning at last summer's Lambeth Conference that Bishop Gene Robinson should resign. He was asked at the press conference if he stood behind that call. He said he did. This was reported in the press. What was not reported in the press is that relationships between The Episcopal Church and the Church of Sudan have become more extensive since Lambeth. The Cafe first reported on that here. (And sent the item to a number of British journalists, none of whom have reported on it.)

For a report on the Diocese of Missouri's recent trip to Sudan, led by our friend Lisa Fox, you can visit either of these blogs.

Additional information about the relationship between Sudanese and American churches and diocese is very easily found.

It is irresponsible of reporters to keep quoting Deng's statements while turning a blind eye to his actions.

Secondly, there has been some concern that the Primates are proposing to add to increase the number of Primates included on the Anglican Consultative Council. Rather, what they are proposing is to increase the number of Primates on the Primates Standing Committee. This would, by definition, increase the number of Primates on the awkwardly named Joint Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting and the Anglican Consultative Council. But it would not add to the number of primates on the ACC. This may sound rather technical. It is rather technical. But it's worth spelling out at a time when the authority of various "instruments of unity" is up for grabs.

A quick look at the report of the Windsor Continuation Group

The report of the Windsor Continuation Group may well be a more important document than the communique released earlier today by the Primates of the Anglican Communion. Click Read more to see some of the highlights, along with a little commentary.

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Conservatives playing possum?

The behavior of conservative primates and advocacy groups at the recently-concluded Primates Meeting in Alexandria, Egypt and the comments of Bishop Gregory Venables in this interview with George Conger suggest a change in the strategy of the anti-gay faction in the Anglican Communion.

As always, with Venables, it is necessary to sift through the many unsupported assertions he presents as facts, but in this instance, that is worth the effort. To wit:

“Something like the freshness of the Holy Spirit” descended upon the meeting, Bishop Venables explained. There was “something different here, something special,” he said. “Without a doubt there was a lot of anger and tension,” he added, but the “orthodox had a calmness and peace” that Bishop Venables attributed to divine intervention.

If the Holy Spirit descended, she showed up well before the meeting. Conservatives coordinate their strategy for these meetings. In this instance, they decided to change their approach, abandoning the pressure tactics, and ostentatious rudeness of past meetings in favor of a gentler approach.

All the usual suspects stayed away. No Martyn Minns, no Bob Duncan, only the recently hired- CANA missioner Julian Dobbs was on hand to advise Archbishop Peter Akinola, and he kept a low profile. For the first time in three meetings, conservative prelates apparently participated in worship with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Some also posed for a group picture with her. There were no rumors of plans to shun Bishop Jefferts Schori, and by all accounts, the Primates who stayed away from Lambeth participated fully in this meeting.

Why? Perhaps conservatives have decided that their confrontational approach wasn't working. But my guess is that they are playing possum and hoping that the General Convention of the Episcopal Church will take some action that can be portrayed as a rejection of the moratoria urged upon us by the Primates and the Lambeth Conference. Then, rather than playing the angry partisans--a performance that may be reaping diminishing returns--they can feign disappointment, express their sad solidarity with the Archbishop of Canterbury (whom they had previously pilloried) and call for discipline of TEC and recognition of the breakaway.

Some conservative tactics haven't changed. It seems that they must reflexively claim victory after every meeting. In this case, those claims are even less compelling than usual. Compare the post-meeting statements of Venables, Minns and others to the lede of yesterday's story by the disinterested Daniel Burke of Relilgion News Service:

Leaders of the Anglican Communion said Thursday (Feb. 5) that they, not dissident conservatives, will decide what role a newly formed traditionalist North American church will have in their worldwide fellowship.

Concluding their weeklong meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, the Anglican leaders also said a new North American church should not "seek to recruit or expand their membership" by attempting to convert others.

Conservatives angered by the liberal drift of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and the Anglican Church of Canada set up a rival church in December. The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), led by Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, aims to be recognized as the official Anglican franchise in North America.

But the 30-odd Anglican primates, or archbishops, meeting this week (Feb. 1-5) essentially put a damper on those plans. While acknowledging that "there is no consensus among us how this new (church) is to be regarded," the primates unanimously agreed that "it is not for individual groups to claim the terms on which they will relate to the communion."

This triumphalist tic aside, the conservative strategy seems well-chosen, even if Venables' portrayal of a new spirit is transparently insincere. The Episcopal Church is going to have to make a decision this summer on whether to remove impediments to the consecration of gay bishops put in place at our last General Convention. If we move forward, we play into their hands. If we don't move forward... we do their bidding.

The Chicago Consultation and Integrity have a few thoughts on how the Episcopal Church should respond. Here is an excerpt from the Chicago statement (emphasis mine):

“Christ calls us to practice both compassion and justice. We reject the false choice suggested by the Primates communiqué that God asks Episcopalians to deny either faithful mission with the worldwide Anglican Communion or full inclusion of our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered sisters and brothers,” said the Rev. Ruth Meyers, who is professor of liturgics at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

Bonnie Anderson on the Primates and the Windsor Continuation Group

Bonnie Anderson, President of the Episcopal Church's House of Deputies, has released the following statement on the communiqué from the recently-completed Primates Meeting and on the report of the Windsor Continuation Group:


The two principal documents released by the Primates at their recent meeting in Alexandria, Egypt, namely The Primates Communiqué and the Report of the Windsor Continuation Group are a study in contrast.

In their communiqué, the Primates, who once issued deadlines, made veiled threats and attempted unwelcome incursions into the affairs of the Anglican Consultative Council and member Churches, have adopted both a new tone and a broader set of theological concerns. In both the Communiqué and in their meeting processes, the Primates seem to be yearning for a deeper sense of communion in God’s mission through prayer, conversation, shared vulnerability and mutual understanding. They state that “we are each burdened and diminished by each other’s failings and pain.” (Paragraph 9). However, this statement stops short of recognizing the pain and division caused by several of the Primates themselves—an ironic development considering the group’s call for “accountability”—but it nonetheless recognizes that our current difficulties are not the fault of a single party.

The Primates renewed focus on mission is an encouraging development. They have offered welcome leadership in their statements on Zimbabwe, Sudan and Gaza, and continue to explore how the Communion can respond to the challenges of global warming and the global financial crisis. Efforts to coordinate and enhance Anglican relief and development work are particularly promising, as they suggest a willingness to be in partnership to heal the world, even though there are theological differences in the broken body of Christ.

In stark contrast to the increasingly relational tone reflected in the Primates Communiqué, the Windsor Continuation Group has taken a step backward, issuing a report that yearns for greater ecclesial centralization achieved by concentrating power in the hands of bishops and archbishops, further marginalizing the laity and diminishing the influence of member churches in the common life of our Communion. The authors of the report—two retired primates, a primate, two bishops and a retired Cathedral dean—believe an “ecclesial deficit” exists within Anglicanism and propose to remedy it by strengthening three of the four “Instruments of Communion”, namely the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference and the Primates Meeting. The instrument they have overlooked is the Anglican Consultative Council; the only instrument that includes lay people, priests and deacons and that has a constitution that codifies its membership, procedures and authority. The ACC’s meetings have proven much less susceptible to outside manipulation than those of the Primates Meetings, as the machinations at Dromantine and Dar es Salaam made painfully clear.


Yet the Windsor Continuation Group argues that the Communion must receive statements from the Primates: “with a readiness to undertake reflection and accommodation,” while questioning whether the Anglican Consultative Council can “adequately” exercise the purely consultative function it currently serves. This illustrates a triumph of ecclesial ideology over common sense.

As we move into a greater sense of mutuality and interdependence in the Anglican Communion through renewed relationship in service to God’s mission in the whole world, it is imperative that we hear the voices of lay Anglicans from around the Communion. We cannot determine where God is leading the Church unless we are aware of how the Holy Spirit is at work at every level of ministry in every province of our Communion. Proposals to centralize authority in the hands of primates and bishops are potentially impoverishing to our faith. Instead, let us together as all the baptized people of God, rededicate ourselves to extending the saving and life-giving message of Jesus and not look for easy answers in quick ecclesial fixes. Let us be encouraged by the Primates’ renewed energy in God’s mission and not allow ourselves to be bogged down in the proposals of the Windsor Continuation Group. As we all serve God’s mission, we trust that the Holy Spirit will recreate and renew the whole of the Anglican Communion.

Peace,

Bonnie Anderson, D.D.
President, The House of Deputies


Capturing the castle through the back door

The most recent draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant, which we wrote about yesterday, speaks at some length about the powers that will be exercised by the various Instruments of Unity or Instruments of Communion. Indeed, almost every recent document dealing with Anglican governance speaks of the instruments as though they are at least as old and as well-established, as say, the three branches of the United States government. Yet the attempt to invest these instruments with ecclesiastical authority is barely a decade old, has never been examined in any formal way by the member Churches of the Communion and has never even been approved by the so-called instruments themselves.

However, by speaking as though the system that they wish to create already exists, proponents of a more top-down form of governance may succeed in wearing down resistance to a system of ecclesiastic arrangements in which individual churches are gradually forced to cede power to the global Communion.

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Decoding the Anglican Covenant by Lionel Diemel

Lionel Diemel takes a stab at decoding the controversial Section 4 of the Anglican covenant, and even offers some quite interesting diagrams to try to answer the $64,000 question of, "What would really happen when serious disagreements arise among churches of the Anglican Communion?" Curious? Read on.

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Akinola will retire in style

Upon retirement from office, priests and bishops can be given a wide range of things, from the English with their gifts of rank and title to the Americans with their cash envelopes and their penchant for naming parish halls after particularly effective (or at least well-loved) rectors.

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Iran's Bishop Marshall walks away from Standing Committee

Following the example set by his primate The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis, Bishop Azad Marshall of the Diocese of Iran has walked away from the Anglican Communion's Standing Committee, the Church of England Newspaper reports.

In joining Anis in his walkout, Marshall also stands now on the sidelines with Uganda's Henry Orombi, who's all but resigned at this point.

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ACNS: Primates to meet in January

The ACNS reports the primates of the Anglican Communion will meet in Ireland January 25-31, 2011.

Read it here.

South African primate wants to consecrate women bishops

The Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd. Thabo Makgoba, said yesterday that one of his dreams during his term of office was to consecrate the Church's first woman bishop.

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Further adventures in Anglican self-trivialization

We have been covering the various maneuverings ahead of the January meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion.

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More Anglican primates indicate they will not attend Dublin meeting

It appears that there are now ten primates (just about a quarter of the total number) who have indicated that they will not attend the scheduled regular meeting of the Anglican Primates (one of the "Instruments of Unity" listed in the Windsor Report).

The Church Times has the list with some new names, in particular the Primate of the Southern Cone and the Primate of Rwanda.

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Nigerian Archbishop plea: don't boycott the Primates' meeting

The Church Times reports:

An Archbishop in the Church of Nigeria has urged Primates from the Global South not to boycott the Primates’ Meeting in Dublin in January (News, 26 November).

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In advance of Dublin, settling into positions and saying prayers

We mentioned on Friday that GAFCON Primates had complained about the construction of the agenda for the upcoming primates' meeting in Dublin, January 25-30: they said they'd not been properly consulted, that "there was hardly any timely and intentional prior consultation and collegial engagement of all concerned."

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The Primates are meeting in Dublin this week

Updated at bottom with a statement from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

The Primates are meeting in Dublin this week. We are going to do our best not to gin up anxiety, or endow the event with a significance it does not possess. We will let you know who shows up, and who doesn't, and what kind of news they make, if any. But we are going to try to avoid contributing to the atmosphere of crisis in which those trying to split the Anglican Communion thrive.

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Primates arrive in Dublin

Most of the Primates (heads of Provincial Churches) of the Anglican Communion have arrived in Dublin, Ireland for their meeting. Seven are not attending because the Primate of the Episcopal Church Katharine Jefferts Schori is attending. From Anglican Communion News Service:

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Primates discussing the nature of the Anglican Communion

This morning brings news that the most recent conversations among the Primates meeting in Dublin concern the question of whether there is an Anglican Church or are we "a communion of churches"? There's much more to the answer of that question than mere linguistic style.

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Primates today: What is the role of our meeting; best response to gender-based violence?

The Primates meeting in Dublin focused on the role of the Primates meeting, described in the Windsor Report and the Anglican Covenant as one of the Instruments of Unity; and on the issue of gender based violence and how the Anglican churches should best respond.

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In a coda for Kato, Primates conclude meeting

On their final day together, attendees to the Primates' Meeting in Dublin issued a number of statements - including one pertaining to the death of gay Ugandan activist David Kato - and wrapped up their remaining business.

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Chicago Consultation on Primates' condemnation of anti-gay violence

The Chicago Consultation issued this statement today from its co-convener, the Rev. Lowell Grisham:

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PB reflects, Primates expound: video from the Primates meeting

In this two minute clip, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says the Primates Meeting in Dublin was "wonderful" and "filled with grace." She said the Primates have arrived at a clear sense of how they will work together, and that she hopes the primates who boycotted this meeting will "come back to the table."

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The primates explain why the primates meet

The Primates have agreed on the reasons they meet. Here are the reasons:

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The Primates rediscover the purpose of The Primates Meeting

The Primate of Scotland, the Most Rev. David Chillingworth, has written a very sensible reflection on what took place at the Primates Meeting last week, that concludes as follows:

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Anglican Communion: The shape of things to come

Paul Bagshaw has written an essay on the state of the Anglican Communion after the most recent Primates Meeting, and his thoughts are similar to mine. The threat of the primates dictating terms beyond the borders of their own provinces ebbs as the threat of a Communion run by the Archbishop of Canterbury and a London-based bureaucracy flows.

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Sir Paul Reeves, Archbishop and Governor General has died

An Anglican Archbishop who also served as New Zealand's first Maori Governor-General, has died. He was 78. Sir Paul Reeves was the Primate of New Zealand in the early eighties and then was appointed by Her Majesty the Queen to serve as Governor General of New Zealand where he was able to build unique bridges between the various cultures of that nation.

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Parsing the latest from the GAFCON Primates

A few weeks ago, the primates of the Global South Anglican group released a statement from their meeting in China.

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Nicholas Okoh and the women he leads

In case there was any confusion over the question of where CANA Provincial Primatial Archbishop Nicholas Okoh stands on questions of gender and morality - i.e., what makes for turpitude - the Church of Nigeria's web site currently offers reportage of an Okoh speech that'll clear it all right up.

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